Internet Voting Pushed in CA

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Let’s Stop it Before More U.S. Elections are Stolen

(Not that Gore or Kerry would object.)

By James Heddle and Mary Beth Brangan

Technocrats’ New, Hackable Cyber Craze
Poopooing a long list of science-based objections laid out by a spokesperson for Secretary of State Debra Bowen, as well as a cyber-security expert from Lawrence Livermore Lab followed by an experienced election watchdog, and echoed by a long line of informed citizens and organizational representatives from up and down the state, the California Assembly’s Elections and Redistricting Committee gave its approval Tuesday to a bill introduced by San Francisco’s 19th Assembly District Assemblyman Philip Ting that would open the way for internet-based voting in the Golden State.

Opposed only by Democratic Committee Chair Paul Fong and Republican Vice Chair Tim Donnelly, the bill aims to OK a ‘pilot study’ of on-line voting – a new techno-entheusiast, democracy-threatening madness that seems to be spreading across the country.

Passing Un-read Laws – The New Normal

Chair Paul Fong objected that amendments had been added at the last minute that most of the Committee Members had not had a chance to read, but the majority voted to approve the bill ‘as amended’ anyway. Shades of the Patriot Act, NDAA, and their multiplying successors.

Apparently, Democrats tend to favor web-voting as a way to boost turn-out, especially among the iGadget-addicted younger voters. Republican strategists seem to agree, which is why they oppose it – while pushing for voter ID laws that tend to reduce voter turn-out in the demographic groups favoring the Dems.

The supreme hackability of internet-voting, ON TOP OF privately-owned, proprietary ( read ‘secret’ ) electronic voting systems gets pushed into the background by both these short-sighted partisan mind-sets.

It’s the same moronic technophelia that afflicts advocates of a wireless-based so-called ‘smart’ energy grid, which would be completely vulnerable to hacking – not to mention its serious risks to privacy, fire safety and human health.

Dr. David R. Jefferson, a computer scientist from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory’s Center for Applied Scientific Computing, who specializes in cyber security, is a a board member of the California Voter Foundation, and a consultant to Sec. Bowen’s office, detailed the many factors that make ‘pilot studies’ worthless from a scientific basis.

Seasoned election integrity campaigner Tom Courbat related his real-world experiences in attempting to get an independent, hand-counted recount in his home district – blocked by local registrar-of-voters resistance in the form of exorbitant and unjustifiable recount expense demands.

Arguments Against Internet Voting
The long line of opposing testifiers repeated a litany of common-sense objections to web-voting which included this summary by long time election integrity activist Gail Work:

• Internet Voting would be open to hacking from around the world: Al qaeda, Chinese military, all global hackers
• If Google, big banks and the Pentagon are getting hacked what makes us think our elections can be protected from hacking?
• Who ever controls the servers controls the elections
• No transparency, it’s all in the cloud and no privacy for your vote choices – once a keystroke is made, it’s traceable
• No chain of custody to follow the steps in the elections process
• No role for citizens, just large corporations and government running the show
• The United Nations considers paper ballots to be the “gold standard” for election integrity
• Loss of civic engagement and democracy: loss of the polls, poll workers, election day, the momentum the grassroots benefits from leading up to election day, loss of many people involved (eyes on the prize)
• Loss of local control of elections leading to state control
• Projected costs are high (per Secretary of State Bowen’s speech at the Democratic Party convention April 2013:

• No ability to recount
• No ability to audit
• Elimination of the paper ballot means a loss of the official record of the vote
• No ability to reconcile the numbers or verify the tally in any way
• Centralized control of elections
• Electronic control of elections
• Alienation of the voters: central, electronic control with no ability to appeal the results
• All based on the argument of “convenience” however do we trade convenience for security?
• If Internet Voting leads to a more fascist state and there is no democratic process to appeal, this could literally destroy our democracy
• This is a radical change that changes the entire premise of our elections and could create many unintended consequences

“We can get this thing done”
Deaf to the evidence presented by the crowd of opponents, Assemblyman Henry Perea expressed his certainty that all problems would be overcome by American Know-How. “We can get this thing done,” he said.

He seemed not to remember, if he ever was aware, that back in 2010, the Board of Elections and Ethics in Washington D.C., who has a sophisticated IT department, invited hackers to test vulnerabilities within its pilot online voting program that was intended to help overseas voters easily place votes without the absentee ballot process. Prof. J. Alex Halderman and a team of University of Michigan students hacked into the system within minutes and left their school’s fight song as a prank. [ Here’s a PDF of how they did it ] And it was discovered that the system rejected ballots from Macs. So much for ‘pilot studies.’

In Quest of Deep Democracy
Having reported on election integrity issues in 48 videos so far, we are saddened to see the already-broken U.S. electoral system being further weakened by the current internet voting fad.

Here’s what our reporting has taught us: Election integrity is not rocket science. It is known how to steal elections, and how to keep them from being stolen.

Investigative reporter Greg Palist has tracked the corporate ‘election theft’ industry that operates in this country and around the world – often in the employ of Washington, that great ‘spreader of democracy.’ At one point, he shared what he knew with the late Hugo Chavez.

Chávez himself read my findings on potential elections theft – to his nation on his TV show – and then he moved swiftly, establishing an election system that Jimmy Carter, who has headed vote observer teams in 92 nations, called, “an election process that is the best in the world”.
Here’s how it works: every Venezuelan voter gets TWO ballots. One is electronic, the second is a paper print-out of the touch-screen ballot, which the voter reviews, authorises, then places in a locked ballot-box. An astounding 54 percent of the boxes are chosen at random to open and check against the computer tally. It’s as close to a bulletproof count as you can get.
[ For more see Palist’s “Nicolas Maduro did not Steal the Venezuelan Elections”

High Stakes
So, bottom line, what’s at stake with internet voting? Jim Soper of puts it this way,
“Internet voting constitutes a real threat to how we form our government, and as such, should be treated as a serious national security risk.”

Better Solutions to Increase Turnout
If the real motivation is to boost public participation in elections – the GOP’s worst nightmare – here’s how Gail Worth and other election integrity activists suggest we do it.

• Register young people when they get their driver’s license
• Make Election Day a holiday
• Allow high school seniors and college students to get school credit for volunteering to help hand count and assist at the election polls.
• Refuse to allow minority voter disenfranchisment, eliminate voter suppression (paper ballot shortages, long lines at the polls, voting machines that flip votes)
• Minimize electronic voting which is seen as privatization of elections, controlled by private vendors thus alienating the voters
• Showcase paper ballot voting and hand counting as the gold standard; educate the public about why this is so critical
• Make it easier for college students to vote (i.e. residence can be college or home with parents Fed Ex’ing the absentee ballot, etc.). College students have been targeted by the GOP efforts to make voting more difficult as they are more progressive and democratic in general

Not A Done Deal
AB 19 has cleared one hurtle, but it still has to work its way through the legislative process. Here’s where to find more info and how you can get involved in stopping it.

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