Wisconsin Election Fiasco Proves New York Was Right (But Sadly, New York has become Wisconsin)

The recent Wisconsin Supreme Court election and recount have shown once again that in order to be trustworthy, vote counts must be established on election night before the evidence is removed from public view. This is exactly how New York votes were counted until the Election Reform and Modernization Act of 2005 was implemented. Now, our election system, like Wisconsin’s, cannot be trusted to produce election results that accurately reflect the will of the voters.

The public has been told time and time again that we can trust the new optical scan voting machines because if there is any reason to trust the count, paper ballots can be counted to verify the original election results. But when that became necessary in Wisconsin, the secure chain of custody of the paper ballots had been hopelessly compromised, with unsealed and improperly sealed bags being presented for recount in county after county. And the government’s numbers don’t add up. The election has been certified by the Government Accountability board (G.A.B.) despite their not having reviewed some of the most damning official evidence from the recount. And the public has not been informed of the real story.

Please read the coverage of the Wisconsin Supreme Court election fiasco at The BRAD BLOG.

During the course of the “recount,” some 2,700 votes from the original tally were found to have been counted inaccurately, according to the results posted each day throughout the “recount” by the G.A.B. That number comes as the results of hand counts of paper ballots in just 31 of the state’s 72 counties. The rest of the ballots cast were re-tallied by the same oft-failed, easily-manipulated computer systems made by companies like Diebold, ES&S, and Sequoia, which tallied them originally, either accurately or inaccurately, on Election Day.

The G.A.B.’s certified results declare Prosser the winner by 7,004 votes, or 0.46%. That margin includes the results from thousands of ballots found to be irregular for various reasons during the count, objected to by the Kloppenburg campaign in each instance, and then included in the results nonetheless, without review by the state agency.

If just over 3,500 “irregular” votes for Prosser, out of the 1.5 million cast overall, might have been cast originally for Kloppenburg instead, that would be enough to change the outcome of the election…

How does New York’s election system compare to Wisconsin’s?

A few key points:

  • Both use non-transparent, riggable, hackable electronic optical scanners to ‘count’ most votes.
  • While Wisconsin law has very clear laws about when to conduct recounts, New York does not. NY courts have refused to order recounts, including in races with margins as small as 15 votes in 2010.
  • In neither state are votes counted transparently at the polling place on election night. Until the passage of the Election Reform and Modernization Act of 2005 (ERMA) in NY, New York law required that official vote counts be obtained on election night before the evidence of the count was removed from public view.
  • In both states, electronic machines are in use that do not even meet the respective state’s (insufficient) legal requirements. While, as far as we know, use of illegal machines is limited to one town in Wisconsin, throughout New York State optical scan systems are used that can be connected to the internet, in direct violation of the law.

What’s the solution?

New York must return to transparent, publicly observable elections. The Election Reform and Modernization Act must be overturned in court. Support ETC’s work to achieve the first U.S. ruling declaring secret vote counting inside computers to be unconstitutional.

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