How my vote was stolen

How I lost my vote to EARLY VOTING. Alright, to be less dramatic: How my vote is now in somebody else’s pocket.

Following the prevailing advice, Obama’s for example, among others, I voted early. But against the most important precautionary warnings, I wasn’t able to use a paper ballot. You can’t, for EARLY VOTING. In El Paso County, for some reason, early voting is all electronic.

Why do I presume there is something inherently wrong with the Diebold touch-screen voting machines? The problem is, no one can make a case for how the computers involved can be defended from corruption.

While it sounds unfair to consider electronic voting devices guilty until proven otherwise, imagine we were talking about a leaky boat. If experts can point to the holes, it would become the obligation of the designers to demonstrate how their perforated vessel is going to stay afloat. Can we agree that we might require some such proof before we put our destiny in their hands. Isn’t that fair enough?

Let’s also admit that reassurances from inexperts, who maintain that no such holes exist, do not hold water. Especially when they’re backed by party bosses who profess expertise, minus technical degrees. And cling to power, mysteriously unaccountable to their constituents. Think about the issue of building the County Jail, in spite of the incredible local outcry.

In much of the country, electronic voting devices, manufactured by GOP-backers Diebold for example, or otherwise, have been taken out of the election loop. Many state legislatures have taken heed of the 2004 election experiences, and popular outcry, and banned “black box voting” altogether. Colorado is not one of those wised-up states. What better indication do you need that to be “conservative” really means to be an idiot?

Really. The “conservative” take on the Diebold anti-democratic vote theft of 2004 is to say “balderdash.”

At least our Secretary of State was made to provide paper ballots to all who request them. Except in El Paso County, for early voting.

In all three early voting centers in Colorado Springs, your only option is to use the Diebold touch-screen machines. When I asked about a paper ballot, I was told that I would be able to verify my vote on a paper receipt generated by the machine.

Here’s how it works. After you make your choices on the touch-screen, and after you scroll through the completed ballot on the screen, you have the option to make a print out of your votes on a cash-register-like roll of paper located inside a compartment beside the Diebold screen. There, behind a small plastic window, you can see a line by line record of your votes, in three inch length glimpses. Each time you touch the “print” button, the paper advances with the next three inches of your votes. Eventually it line feeds into the upper portion of the compartment, presumably to accumulate until the roll is replenished. Exactly like a cash register, actually.

Now if you’ve used a cash register, you might also know that it often keeps two separate tapes. One for the customer, and an abbreviated one for the sales tax records. The latter is compressed to save paper, but in substance they are identical. But a programmable point of sale machine could produce different tallies, if such was desired.

Likewise, the Diebold print-out which you see but cannot touch behind the plastic, needn’t be the print-out being archived. As simple as that.

Interestingly, the printout visible under the plastic is more a translation of your vote, in plain English, than a coded abbreviation of what your vote represented. Meaning, to reassure you that your vote is recorded according to your wish, the paper trail sacrifices being in a format easily tabulated by an auditor. In fact, it’s hard to imagine the rolls processed at all. Even the election volunteer giving my tutorial explained that the roll is kept only for extenuating circumstances. I was not polled upon emerging from the election center, to survey how El Paso County’s early voters are leaning. So, will there be any call for election workers to review the roll of paper representing my vote?

Now I cannot remember for certain, but it seemed that the push “print” operation was optional. Because of the numerous ballot initiatives this year, the ballot was particularly long. I had to push “print” at least a half-dozen times. That’s rather strange, isn’t it, if printing would not be optional? But then, what kind of a paper trail would represent each Diebold unit, if the rolls only recorded the votes which only particular users were concerned to see in print?

Thus my choices for office holders and local amendments are now recorded with Diebold. They will be counted on other electronic devices, and communicated to central devices. Experts have pointed to man-in-the-middle vulnerabilities where results can be processed at intermediary points-unkown before being retransmitted to their official destinations.

These are the vulnerabilities which other states have determined pose a risk to democratic elections. El Paso County officials, GOP bureaucrats determined that things remain exactly as they are, are plenty happy to stick to their tried and true Diebolds.

Perhaps they know that El Paso County is expected to fall in line with the GOP, and thus no one is planning to challenge the results anyway. Even if this were true, what about the local issues on the ballot. Might the public not want to verify the votes on the sales tax measure? The county administrators themselves benefit from that tax increase. Might taxpayers want to audit that vote, in case it’s really the citizen’s preference not to raise a regressive tax that weighs more heavily on those with less money? The county has been in financial trouble because of the breaks it’s been giving to the wealthiest of clients. Why should they make up the shortfall on the backs of the needy?

Don’t give El Paso County your vote to do with what they please. Cast a paper ballot which remains traceable to your authentic vote. If you believe that your only role in this Democracy is the right to vote, at least, make certain it counts.

2 thoughts on “How my vote was stolen

  1. That’s why I’m waiting until Tuesday to vote. At least then I can use a paper ballot, and leave a paper trail of my vote.

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