The US is currently involved in deciding to what extent Putin interfered with the last US election. And how to protect the integrity of the voting procedures in the next election.
Background. After the farcical 2000 election there was a flurry of activity to make voting systems easier to use and tabulate. A number of electronic and computer companies lobbied congress and the individual states to sell their “tamper proof” voting systems. I mean, what could go wrong with a computer? Or what could go wrong with an optical scanner?
For example, in Cayuhoga County, with a population of 1.2 million including the heavily Democratic city of Cleveland a problem was reported in 2010. The Cleveland Plain Dealer newspaper reported that 10 % of the voting machines had FAILED pre-election tests. Upon retesting the machines that had passed originally, even more failed on a second test. These failures included not counting votes and the machines simply freezing. Despite these problems, the state of Ohio recertified this system for use in 2013. (Clinton got 66% of those who had their votes counted).
Here are a few nuggets from the 2016 election. More problems in cities.
“City Clerk Janice Winfrey says some voting machines in Detroit stopped working Tuesday morning and had to be replaced.The delay caused long lines and waits of an hour or more to vote.”
Also in Detroit, a heavily Democratic city:
“The project also reported the only voting machine in Precinct 16 is repeatedly breaking, and that some voters have been waiting outside in the rain before getting into the building, where they are facing a 45-minute wait.
The Detroit Free Press reported that nearly two hours after the polls opened, no one at the Marcus Garvey Academy Precinct 134 in Detroit’s West Village had been able to cast a ballot due to a problem with voting machines. A technician was on the way, the Free Press said, but some voters had to get to work and put their ballots in a box.
Across the city, a voting machine malfunctioned at Detroit’s Precinct 32, located at East English Village Prep. Some voters who registered on the last day it was allowed didn’t show up on voting lists.”
Note: Of the votes that counted in Detroit, Clinton got 95%, Trump 3%. Trump won Michigan by only 11,000 votes. A few more votes from Detroit and Clinton wins the state.
In a heavily Democratic area of Virginia:
“Cortes says several precincts in northern Virginia’s Fairfax County didn’t properly load their electronic poll book data, so some people who likely were registered weren’t showing up. He says those people were given provisional ballots and the elections office will work quickly to process them.” (63% voted for Clinton)
In North Carolina, in heavily Democratic Durham, more voting problems.
“Meanwhile, the Durham County Board of Elections has asked state board to extend voting hours at one precinct, the Bethesda Ruritan Club. It also is gathering information for the state board about whether hours at other locations should be extended. The county board will then determine whether to request extended hours at any other polling location.
The computer problem resulted in at least one precinct running out of authorization-to-vote forms for about 90 minutes. ”
Note: Clinton won 79% of the vote in Durham, of those that were able to vote.
In Texas, again in the cities.
“Anthony Gutierrez, executive director of the Texas chapter of Common Cause, says some people had to go to three different locations before they could vote.
Other complaints among about 1,400 calls received from Texas on an Election Day hotline set up by nonprofits included scattered reports of voting technology malfunctions and lines longer than an hour in parts of Houston and Dallas.
Gutierrez says many people complained of poll workers being misinformed about changes the state made after a federal court ruled Texas’ voter ID law unconstitutional.”
And on..and on… and on….
- In Maricopa County, Ariz., Democratic officials asked a judge to keep polls open for two more hours following problems with voting machines and provisional ballots that caused long lines. The request, like that in Colorado, was denied.
- In Philadelphia, would-be voter Chris Calvert tweeted that both voting machines were broken at his polling place. “No one can vote in our district today. Hundreds of angry voters,” he wrote. Federal law requires election officials to give voters provisional paper ballots in such cases. (Trump won Pennsylvania by 44,000 votes; Philadelphia went 85% for Clinton…of those who could vote)
- Broken ballot-scanning machines and other problems slowed voting at some polling places amid heavy turnout in New York City. Only one of two scanners was functioning at a polling place in Manhattan’s Gramercy Park neighborhood Tuesday morning, leading to a line of hundreds of people by 8:30 a.m. The same thing happened at Public School 154 in Manhattan’s Harlem neighborhood, where Megan Arend tweeted the situation was causing “complete chaos and discouraging voters.”
Of course, you can’t do much about voter suppression and changing polling places at the last minute. Those are typical tactics for which there may be no remdy. But you can solve the problem of voting machine errors, voting machine malfunctions, etc.
I am not suggesting any plan to deprive Democrats of voting. However, since urban areas are highly Democratic, when voting machines or long lines prevent or discourage voting, the impact is felt much more acutely in areas of high population density. Democratic strongholds. How do we take back a fair and honest voting system?
STOP using voting machines. Period. Just use paper ballots for national elections. It was good enough for the founding fathers. And for high school kids. Every year high schools across the country use paper ballots for their elections. Homecoming queen. Class president. Just make an X next to the name of the candidate. No computers. No ability of Russian hackers or anyone to manipulate the results. No machine malfunctions. Just honest elections.
Then, at the end of the day, you sit down with the poll workers and representatives of all the political parties and count the ballots. Easy. Why don’t we do that? It would be accurate and fair. Totally transparent. Why don’t we do that? It would be accurate and fair. Totally transparent. I think I just answered my own question, didn’t I?
It works. It is honest. It is easy. Want to have fair elections?
Ask any homecoming queen.