Thursday, July 28, 2016

Want a Constitutional Crisis? It's Just a Touch Screen Away

Outside of snarky comments on twitter, unlike most other election seasons, I have mostly kept politics out of the Front Porch here as an above-the-fold topic. It isn’t so much that I am trying to avoid politics, it is just a byproduct of what the American public has decided it wants to have as our choices. I stood athwart the tracks and yelled, “Stop!” – but it didn’t. I’m not going to get run over by the train, I’m not going to hop on the train, I am just going to step to the side of the tracks and wait for the wreck.

All that being said, I love our republic, its Constitution and the flawed perfection of our experiment in self-government – or what is left of it at least.

Central to this is confidence in and accuracy of our ballot box. There are powerful people in both parties who don’t care about that. They are only interested in winning. I have seen nations with no history of representative government who fully understand voter fraud and take steps to prevent it – down to dye on finger tips and close accounting of each and every ballot and box. We, as a whole, don’t.

We assume a lot in our nation – and refuse to see that we have a history of voter fraud and people who actively support it. No serious historian in 2016 denies that the 1960 election was not won by voter fraud – specifically in Illinois – that threw the election to JFK. Likewise, it is clear that in many urban centers where one candidate gets over 100% of the vote, we have a problem. Ballots by mail are another problem area, among others.

In our drive to make voting “easy” we have made voter fraud “easy.” It is an unattractive blight on our nation’s honor. Our reliance on simple computer systems seems “modern” but is actually just an enabler to old school corruption.

People who oppose common sense voter ID requirements are only supporters or useful idiots of those who commit voter fraud. They don’t care about representative government – they are only concerned with gaining and using power.

Along those lines I draw your attention to what I consider the most important domestic topic this year; Glenn Reynolds make the call that everyone from a Bernie supporter to a Huckabee supporter needs to listen to;
As disruptive as the DNC email release has been, there’s room for something much worse: A foreign government could hack voting machines, shut down election computers, or delete or alter voter registration information, turning Election Day into a snarled mess and calling the results into question regardless of who wins.

Worse yet, hackers are already working on this.

Voting systems rely on trust. Voters have to trust that their own vote is recorded and counted accurately; they also have to trust that the overall count is accurate, and that only eligible voters are allowed to vote. (When an ineligible voter casts a vote, it cancels out the vote of a legitimate voter every bit as much as if his or her ballot had simply been shredded.)

The problem is that electronic systems — much less the Internet-based systems that some people are talking about moving to — can’t possibly provide that degree of reliability. They’re too easy to hack, and alterations are too easy to conceal. If the powers-that-be can’t protect confidential emails, or government employees’ security information, then they can’t guarantee the sanctity of voting systems.

Paper ballots may seem old-fashioned, but an emphasis on computers just for technology’s sake reminds me of stories about housewives in the 1950s who preferred canned vegetables to fresh ones because canned food seemed more modern. Just because a technology is newer doesn’t necessarily mean it’s better.

Voting machines, of course, generate lucrative government contracts for equipment and support that can be awarded to favored companies, while paper ballots only require a printing press. But if we’re really worried about foreign interference in American elections — and the evidence suggests that we ought to be — then we should be willing to make this change.

Worried about foreign hacking? Then you should support paper ballots, an idea whose time has come again. And it’s only three months until November.

Do you want a constitutional crisis? You want millions marching in the streets? Have an election thrown in to doubt because of hacking? Go ahead, ignore Glenn’s warning.

Hat tip Peggy Noonan.

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