Dear ____________ (candidate)
As an election security advocate, I want to make you’re aware of some important points about the computer systems that will count your votes so that you can help protect your own election from errors and malfeasance. Both voters and candidates deserve to have their votes counted accurately, yet only candidates can initiate key protocols to validate results. I want you to be prepared to stand up for the voters of our community if necessary!
- Computer-tallied election results are essentially unverified. Only about half the states audit Federal elections. In many states, primary results are not audited at all. Only 17 states audit absentee (vote-by-mail) ballots, further risking the accuracy of 2020 results.
- Computer voting systems are legally protected from independent inspection because they are corporate property. Voters, candidates, and even election officials cannot see how these systems count.
- There is a recurrent pattern of electronic counting anomalies. In the following elections, a preponderance of evidence indicates deliberate theft. (Note: Theft is difficult to prove because conclusive proof, e.g. electronic files or ballots, is often missing or unavailable.)
Arizona, 2006: Pima County illegally altered the programming on memory cards controlling precinct ballot scanners, causing the scanners to print false results. Central count database files containing election results were also illegally altered. Court filing (see especially p. 54).
Tennessee, 2015: In Shelby county, 40% of votes from Black precincts in Memphis were not counted. Other precincts were counted at 100%.
Georgia, 2018: 127,000 votes in the Lt. Governor race were missing from ballots cast by voters in Black precincts. The high drop-off rate for Lt. Governor was not observed in other precincts. Amicus Brief: substantial evidence of computer anomalies.
- I urge you to:
- Ensure all ballots are counted even if you are projected to lose.
- VERIFY results to the extent allowed by law. Use recount/audit protocols, insist on hand-counts over machine counts, and do not concede before challenges resolve.
- Familiarize yourself with the red flags that often precede stolen elections, so that you can respond quickly if necessary. AUDIT Elections USA, an experienced election security litigator, lists red flags in its candidate guide.
- Consider enlisting volunteers to photograph poll tapes and audit ballot images generated by digital ballot scanners. Scrutineers trains volunteers to protect elections in their jurisdictions.
- Advocate for expanding robust manual audits of absentee/mail ballots.
Please see the next page for more information.
Further reading & references:
- Robust post-election manual audits of hand-marked paper ballots is the well-established method of verifying machine counts.
- Other democracies (e.g. Germany, Ireland, Netherlands, Norway) manually and publically count hand-marked ballots to increase transparency and safeguard elections from hacking.
- Internationally, exit polls are an accepted check on vote counts. But in the U.S., discrepancies are viewed as a flaw of the poll rather than a potential inaccuracy of the computer count. The exit polls are then adjusted to more closely align with reported totals to protect the reputation of the poll as a reliable predictor.
- Touchscreen voting machines are especially risky because the software controlling them can be manipulated, without detection, and there is no reliable paper record of the votes.
- Ballot scanners that count hand-marked paper ballots can be misprogrammed but their counts can be verified because the hand-marked paper provides a reliable record to audit.
- Despite officials’ denials over the years, elections systems connect to the internet. Electronic poll books also connect to the internet (and failed recently in Los Angeles and Georgia).
- This Brennan Center report describes how to prevent and recover from cyberattacks on election systems.
- How to Rig an Election by Victoria Collier is a comprehensive, easily readable narrative on the rise and risks of electronic voting.
- Without audits to check machine counts, analysts study patterns in reported results. Jonathan Simon, talks about the red shift he’s observed since the start of computerized voting. (Simon authored Code Red: Computerized Elections & the War on Democracy.)
- Fair Fight compiled this list of corrupt actions of prominent voting machine vendor, ES&S.
- Additional notable election anomalies:
- Alabama, 2002: After results showed Don Siegelman winning the governor’s race, tallies were changed at the Baldwin County central computer late on election night, giving Siegelman’s opponent the majority of the votes. (Also, Stealing Our Democracy.)
- Ohio, 2004: Late on election night 80,000 votes for Presidential candidate John Kerry were transferred to George W. Bush.
- Florida 2006: Official totals showed Clint Curtis losing 42-58% yet sworn affidavits from voters canvassed post-election showed official counts off by 12-24% in Curtis’ favor.
- S. Carolina 2010: Results showed unknown candidate Alvin Green won by a 59-41% margin, but only votes cast on touchscreen voting machines showed Greene ahead. Counts of absentee ballots showed Greene losing.
Florida, 2012: Palm Beach County municipal elections were incorrectly tabulated by ballot scanners causing the wrong candidates to be declared the winners.
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