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Voting has already begun in some states. (AP)

What makes the media so confident that the election won’t be stolen?

ASK THIS | October 31, 2006

Seriously contemplating the idea that a small group of individuals could change election outcomes is terrifying -- but the alternative could be even worse, says an election-integrity activist who has some questions the press should ask itself.

By Jonathan Simon

Q. Assuming that you are aware that leading computer experts have pronounced the American vote-counting system eminently riggable, what is the basis for your faith that it will not in fact be rigged?

Q. Do you believe that the numbers flowing from secretary of state offices are accurate expression of votes cast?  How do you know they are not instead the result of computer programs directed by an insider or a hacker to add votes, delete votes, flip votes and produce a desired result? How would you be able to tell the difference?

Q. Do you see anything wrong with hand counting a 10% random sample of all ballots in federal elections as a check on the validity of the computerized counts?

Q. Given the fact that exit polls were deemed accurate prior to the wide proliferation of computerized vote counting equipment, do you believe that vote-count mistabulation should be considered a possible cause for the recent string of exit poll disparities?

Q. Karl Rove has openly stated the goal of perpetual rule for his party. That party has put forth a radical agenda, has been beset by failure and scandal, and is clearly unpopular with the mostly moderate American public at the moment. Yet Rove and President Bush predict with utter confidence that they will maintain their hold on power. Should they in fact do so -- in yet another "shocking" refutation of expectations and pre-election polling like the one in 2004, which was credited to a surge in GOP turnout -- will you consider computerized election theft as a possible reason?

Q. If a pitcher smears pine tar on his hand to help win a baseball game, if a cyclist dopes his blood to help win a bike race, if a linebacker takes banned substances to help him make tackles, and if they all take further steps to mask their transgressions -- why do we suppose that someone in control of the voting apparatus of this nation would not take similar steps to help win elections and retain power?

Q. Hasn’t history proven that "conspiracy theories” are sometimes true?

There is something dangerously destabilizing about seriously contemplating the possibility of a stolen election. But in the election integrity movement it is our conviction that failure to expose that possibility carries an immeasurably greater risk.

Computerized vote counting, especially under proprietary and partisan control, does not even begin to meet basic security standards. It permits not just election fraud--which, in its "retail" manifestation, has always been and probably will always be with us--but wholesale election fraud, indeed easy wholesale election fraud.

Unfortunately computers permit even such wholesale theft to be virtually undetectable. All we get to see are apparent anomalies and glitch patterns, and these are repeatedly explained away in the post-election spin.

We believe there is no longer any basis in fact for the presumption that the American vote-counting system is accurate and secure, yet that presumption persists. We believe that, fully informed, the American public would rise to the occasion and be more than willing to invest the public-spirited labor needed to have the kind of noncomputerized, public vote counting system employed by most of our younger democratic neighbors.

Hand-counting ballots, at least for federal races, is not ridiculous. It can be done in a few hours on Election Night in public view. Short of that, hand-counting of a random sample of ballots in every precinct (early/absentee as well), would provide an airtight check mechanism against computer error and/or fraud. Right now we have none of that, no systematic check mechanism at all, and in 30% of venues not even a non-cyber record of any votes, just pure faith-based voting. This is ridiculous.

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