Pennsylvania Primary: Democracy of the Gods
By Brad Friedman
Tuesday's Election Will be 'Unrecountable, Unverifiable, and Unauditable'...
On Tuesday night, you will be told who the winner of the Pennsylvania Primary is. You will accept it. You will have no choice. No matter who the winner really is. Or isn't.
This Tuesday's crucial contest will be primarily run on 100% faith-based, Direct Recording Electronic (DRE, usually touch-screen or push-button) e-voting machines across the state. There will be no way to determine after the election whether the computers have accurately recorded, or not, the intent of those voters who voted on them. As VerifiedVoting.org summarizes the crucial contest, it "will be essentially unrecountable, unverifiable, and unauditable."
Most of the votes, more than 85%, will be cast on such DRE systems which do not provide so-called "Voter Verified Paper Audit Trails" (VVPATs), as their use has been found unconstitutional in the state, since its been determined, accurately, that ballot secrecy cannot be guaranteed when using such paper trail systems. Not that it matters.
With or without a so-called "paper trail" printer, all touch-screen/push-button/DRE voting machines are equally unverifiable and antithetical to American democracy. Period.
So, as with South Carolina's primary, so so long ago, and other states since, whatever the officials tell you at the end of the election is what you, and we, will have to accept. Whether votes are counted accurately is completely out of anyone's hands at this point. It's strictly Democracy of the Gods...
But whether folks gets to cast their vote at all is a different matter, and certainly worth watching closely. Back in South Carolina, in the dark days of January 19, 2008, machines wouldn't fire up at all for much of the day in at least one county during the Republican Primary. The meltdown led to voters scrambling for any scrap of paper they could find to vote on, including, reportedly, paper towels.
For the Democratic Primary the following week in South Carolina, voters were encouraged to print out their own ballots at home, and bring them to the polls...just in case.
Marybeth Kuznik, of the election integrity organization VotePA, has additional concerns. Even if the machines boot-up and "work" as expected, she worries there may not be enough of them to serve the voters. The result may be long lines and voters turned away, a la J. Kenneth Blackwell's disgraceful 2004 Ohio general election. Kuznik sent us the following thoughts on that issue over the weekend, after doing some quick math...
I crunched the numbers and assuming we hit 70% turnout (very possible, because everybody and his uncle intends to vote in this) my own polling place is likely to be short on machines to the extent that we will be one to three hours over capacity (in terms of voters per machine time.) And that assumes that each voter takes only three minutes and they come in nice orderly even fashion evenly over the entire voting day, which they won't. Most come in the morning and after work.
If it becomes a madhouse, meltdown, or a marathon either people will leave, or we are going to have lines reminiscent of Ohio 2004. Our SOS is no Blackwell, but the whole state of Pennsylvania is in total Denial about how bad these machines can be.
In capital-D "Denial" indeed. Last week we ran a short video from Jake Soboroff of Why Tuesday?, which included some quick questions he was able to ask of Pennsylvania's governor and Philadelphia's mayor just after the Democratic Debate. He wondered if they (both Hillary Clinton supporters, for the record) had any concerns about the voting machines their state is about to use on Tuesday.
Despite many of the same systems having failed across the country previously --- and even very recently in neighboring New Jersey on Super Tuesday --- neither of the men had a concern in the world. If you missed it when it ran the first time, it's worth a quick look to get an idea of just how clueless Pennsylvania's top elected officials actually claim to be...
Aside from the Sequoia AVC Advantage touch-screen which failed recently in NJ, set for use by 750,000 voters in two Pennsylvania counties (including Montgomery, one of the state's largest), 51 counties will use the same ES&S iVotronic touch-screens which failed so spectacularly in Florida's 2006 13th Congressional district election in Sarasota County, resulting in the loss of some 18,000 votes, despite a margin of "victory" for the "winner" of just 369 votes. That notorious failure helped lead the state of Florida to ban that system, and all touch-screen voting machines, entirely.
Sixteen PA counties will use the same Diebold Accuvote TS touch-screen systems found easily susceptible to a viral hack by a team at Princeton University in the Summer of 2006. They found that an entire county election could be flipped, undetected, if inappropriate access is gained to just one single voting machine. That system, the ES&S system and touch-screens made by Sequoia were banned entirely for regular use in California after such vulnerabilities were confirmed by a team of computer scientists and security experts commissioned by the state.
So that's what's ahead for Tuesday's primary: denial, self-deception and a strange form of illusory democracy which most Americans, aided and abetted by an irresponsible and disinterested corporate media, have collectively determined to play along with because they've been given no other choice.
We'll be watching, of course, no matter what happens, although there may be very little that we can do about whatever reportedly happens once we're informed by the Election Gods of their reported results.
We urge Keystone Staters to bring a state-issued photo ID with them if they have one, vote on paper if/when they can, and record themselves voting with their cell phones or other cameras, if possible, to document any DRE e-voting flips.
If you have any trouble voting, for god's sake, tell people about it. First alert poll workers, then call 1-866-MY-VOTE-1. Then alert 1-888-SAV-VOTE as well, concerning voting machine problems, or 1-866-OUR-VOTE for any other Election Day probs. Spot any election fraud? Call 1-888-VOTE-TIP and you could be eligible for a tidy reward. It also wouldn't hurt to notify your local media about any of the above, on the outside chance they'll pay attention.
Beyond that...our fingers
are crossed for you. Good luck. We hear the Gods may be