Democrats Pass on Challenge to
Secret Vote Counting in South Carolina
This is the place to affix the STAMP. Link
South Carolinians mounted a serious protest to the onerous “Stamp Act” imposed on the colonies by British rulers. The act levied a tax to pay for the “Seven Years War” which established Great Britain as the world’s dominant colonial power. South Carolinians resisted funding their own domination through payment of the tax.
Today, the Palmetto state faces a challenge beyond the Stamp Act. Their state constitution is clear, if not elegant, in its definition of the basic elements of elections:
All elections by the people shall be by secret ballot,
but the ballots shall not be counted in secret.
Touch screen voting machines like those used throughout South Carolina are inherently private. Citizens and officials are barred form accessing the fundamentals of the voting machines. As a result, meaningful information on errors or fraud is off the table.
Once a voter touches the box next to their candidate, the machine takes over turning the vote into an electronic ballot that cannot be examined, even with access. This voting machine right of privacy is written into agreements signed by election officials all over the country. It’s called “faith based voting.” We vote and then have faith that the machines will do their job.
That adds up to a clear case of “ballots … counted in secret,” direct defiance of the prohibition of counting ballots in secret referenced above..
Challenging the Privacy “Rights” of Voting Machines
The obvious contradiction of the state law and the state’s privatized voting systems spurred voting rights, judicial reform and media activist Mark Adams of Florida to object strenuously. He began by writing John Edwards an open letter asking him to oppose the process. Absent a favorable response, on Wednesday of this week, he sent letters to each of the democratic candidates.
In his plea to Clinton, Edwards, Gravel, Kucinich, and Obama, Adams argued this point:
In case you are not aware, Article II, § 1 of the Constitution of South Carolina states, “the ballots shall not be counted in secret.” No one can see a computer count, and therefore, computers count in secret and using computers to count votes in secret violates South Carolina’s Constitution!
Will you take legal action in South Carolina to require that its upcoming Presidential primary is conducted in a manner which complies with the plain language expressed in South Carolina’s Constitution and with all Americans’ rights to make sure that our votes are counted accurately? Will you take action, or will you stand by and allow our votes to be counted in the equivalent of a secret smoky back room? Complete set of Mark Adams letters to the candidates.
Democrats Say No Go but Paul Supporters Know the Score
The letters informed, but they didn’t move any Democratic candidates to file suit for injunctive relief. There was real interest among Paul supporters in South Carolina. In general, the Paul campaign watches the voting process closely and with a skeptical eye.
In South Carolina, there were anecdotal reports of sudden increases in precinct vote counts at the last minute impacting Paul’s votes and after the fact reductions in vote totals for their candidate. But a Paul suit to stop a Democratic primary lacked the weight necessary for a serious hearing.
Will South Carolina remind Obama of New Hampshire? Image
Faith in the False Idol of Voting Technology
When voting machines are sold, the manufactures include a privacy clause that prevents in depth inspection of the machine software and methods of operation. You can buy it but the only people who can look inside are manufacturer representatives.
Kim Zetter of Wired Magazine reported on a comprehensive study done for Ohio on the iVotronic touch screens, the very machines everywhere in South Carolina. She noted that “the ES&S tabulation system and the voting machine firmware were rife with basic buffer overflow vulnerabilities that would allow an attacker to easily take control of the systems and ‘exercise complete control over the results reported by the entire county election system.'”
The study discovered that a hacker with just an infrared enabled Palm Pilot or cell phone can hack any of these voting machines with infrared ports. Once in, the hacker could alter memory, “ballot handling,” and manipulate other machine processes.
This news should have rocked the nation given the presence of touch screens in almost every state.
The iVotronic machines are the very same voting equipment that dropped a carefully estimated 14,000 votes for just one candidate for Congress in Florida’s 13th Congressional district in 2006. The problem was characterized as “machine malfunction” in the election contest filed with Congress in behalf of Democratic candidate Christine Jennings. Apparently, this was the type of “malfunction” that produces consistent results in just one direction, for just one candidate.
Maybe these recurring problems and design concerns are the reason voting machine vendors are reluctant to guarantee their products. Zero Guarantee from Vendors for Voting System’s Performance, P. Lehto)
Will Common Sense and the Law Prevail?
Not a chance! It’s not at all difficult to determine the clear intent of the South Carolina Constitution. The law means what it says, “the ballots shall not be counted in secret.” But doesn’t the U.S. Constitution state that “Article 1, Section 8. The powers of Congress. To declare war”?
So much for the English language and the law. We’re at the mercy of a justice system that genuflects before power and politics and embraces convenience. Will we be saved by judges who’ve created their own code, just like those Florida voting machines: “flip-flopping” every time in the direction of power and control, by the few against the rights of the many in a relentlessly consistent pattern that strips us of our most fundamental legal protections.
New Hampshire and South Carolina are just previews of February 5, “Super Tuesday” when primaries will be held in 24 states.
These states have voting and vote counting that is conducted in secret by machines made and serviced by private firms; and voting that cannot be easily and quickly verified. The citizens’ right to know is casually surrendered to e-voting manufacturers by the officials sworn to serve those very citizens.
Almost all of the states have restrictive recount laws that require a very close election, a 1% or less difference in some cases. This effectively bars recounts unless “malfunctions” or vote stealing is marginal. Even if election fraud or “machine malfunction” is suspected for very good reasons, the right to recount is limited to only elections where mistakes or stealing produce a very thin margin.
These touch screen “ballots” are nothing more than a computerized record (not a ballot). After the election, citizens almost always lack the right to examine that computerized records and are typically barred from reviewing the paper forms they mark for optical scan voting machines.
How can those elected claim to rule when they’re unable to prove the first and most fundamental requirement of an election – that they have the right to serve by having legitimately claimed a plurality or majority of the votes cast.
This article may be reproduced in part or in whole with attribution of authorship and a link to this article in “Scoop” Independent News.