Friday, March 17, 2017

Holland Used Paper Ballots To Foil Putin But, Despite Hacking, Georgia Refuses To Do Likewise


Holland was smart. They chucked their electronic voting system this week and everyone voted using paper ballots after Fancy Bear and Cozy Bear were caught trying to hack into electronic voting equipment the way they did in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Florida and Ohio, putting Trump over the top. Instead Putin's candidate in Holland, neo-Nazi Geert Wilders, did significantly worse than polls had predicted, winning just 20 seats in the House of Representatives, where he and his racist thugs will just be a noisy opposition party in the 150 seat chamber. The U.S. should go back to paper ballots immediately-- starting with Georgia. Why Georgia? (Ahhh... Glad you asked.)

Georgia's a very gerrymandered state. There are 4 Democratic seats with strong enough Democratic registration advantages so that no Republican can win in any of them. Nice for team blue, right? No, terrible for team blue. That's because there are 10 Republican seats with strong enough Republican registration advantages so that no Democrat can win in any of them. Here's how that works. John Lewis' GA-05 has a PVI of D+32. In 2008 Obama beat McCain there, 84-15%. In 2012, Obama was reelected 83-16%. Hillary did even better, beating Trumpanzee 85.0% to 11.9%. John Lewis was reelected with 75.6% of the vote, nearly a 200,000 vote margin.

The most backward pigsty of a district in George is Doug Collins' GA-09, in the far northeast corner of the state where rural Georgia meets rural North Carolina and rural South Carolina. There are 20 counties with no cities. Hall County is the closest thing to a population base, where the county seat, Gainesville has a population of 35,000. GA-09 is very white and very poor and with the fewest number of blacks of any district in the state. McCain beat Obama 75-24% and Romney beat Obama 78-21%. And the 9th was, predictably, Trump's strongest district in Georgia. He beat Clinton 77.8% to 19.3%. No Democrat bothered to even run against Collins last year but he took 81% of the vote the last time a Democrat did run against him.

Those are both safe seats-- which is exactly what they were drawn to be. And so was GA-06 in the suburbs north of Atlanta. And sure enough McCain beat Obama 59-40% and Romney beat Obama 61-37%. This last year incumbent wing-nut Tom Price was reelected 61.6% to 38.4% but then something peculiar happened. Trump wasn't popular in the district. Rubio kicked his ass in the GOP primary and in the general, Hillary nearly did the unthinkable. Trump won 48.3% to 46.8%. Imagine if she had campaigned there! Imagine if there was a Democratic Party fighting for down-ballot candidates there!

After the election, Pence picked Price, an old crony of his and Ryan's to put into Trump's cabinet as Secretary of Health and Human Services-- just the man to repeal the Affordable Care Act, replace it with TrumpCare (basically nothing), and set off to destroy Medicaid and eventually Medicare. That left an open seat. The election will have two steps: an open (or jungle) primary April 18, followed by a run-off on June 20th. There are 11 Republicans running and 5 Democrats (as well as a Libertarian and a couple of independents). Both polls show Democrat John Ossoff in the lead and indicate a run-off between him and controversial anti-Choice fanatic Karen Handel (although there is also a close friend of Trump's in the race, Bruce LeVell who would get a huge boost if Trump endorses him).

So what's the connection to the Dutch Parliamentary elections from this week? And paper ballots? The race is widely seen as a referendum on Trump. If Ossoff wins, the fear in the White House and the Kremlin is that congressional Republicans will abandon Trump and his legislative agenda in droves. So Putin is feeling around to see if he can steal this one the way he stole swing counties in the Rust Belt. Think I'm kidding? WSB is the biggest TV station in Atlanta. Just over a week ago they reported that the FBI is investigating a data breach at the Center for Election Systems at Kennesaw State University. So? Kennesaw isn't even part of GA-06. It's in the 11th district. But WSB reported that "the state voter data kept by the Center for Election Systems was compromised [and that] the Georgia Secretary of State uses the Center for Election Systems at Kennesaw State to facilitate elections in all Georgia counties and maintain voting machines... Sources said the breach happened Wednesday night and the hacker made off with millions of voter records."

Now big a deal is this? Of course, Putin isn't claiming responsibility. But... this week a group of technology experts said Georgia should stop using electronic voting machines and switch to paper ballots for the April 18 Special Election. The successfully hacked Center for Election Systems tests and certifies Georgia's voting machines and electronic polling books used to check in voters at polling locations. Employees also format ballots for every election held in the state. In a letter to Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp (R), a candidate for Governor in 2018, twenty technology experts and computer science professors affiliated with the national Verified Voting organization said paper ballots will preserve voters' confidence in the results of an upcoming special election to fill Georgia's 6th District congressional seat. The letter said using equipment maintained by the center while it is the focus of a criminal investigation "can raise deep concerns."
Verified Voting, which closely tracks voting systems used throughout the U.S., and other advocacy groups have long expressed concern with Georgia's reliance on voting machines. Barbara Simons, chairwoman of the nonpartisan organization's board, said paper ballots allow voters to ensure their choices are correct and create a trail if there are any questions about the results. It also lets officials do a hand count of the physical ballots, she said.

"Under the circumstances, the only prudent thing to do is make sure voting is done in a secure fashion," Simons said. "This should not be a partisan issue. Republicans and Democrats both care about secure elections."
Wednesday Kemp's office rejected their plea and said the special election will used electronic voting machines, even though the cyberattack could easily have infected the electronic voting machines with a virus that could manipulate vote totals.

Monday the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported a dust-up over this between Kemp, a highly partisan wing nut who could easily be on Trump's or Putin's payroll, and DuBose Porter, chairman of the Georgia Democratic Party, who demanded Kemp accept help from the Department of Homeland Security to get to the bottom of the hack. Kemp, true to form, accused Porter of playing politics while trying to create a "manufactured crisis" to help Democratic candidates. Something of a fascist, Kemp said of the Democrats that "They would love nothing more than for us to flout Georgia law and use paper ballots so they can challenge the results when they lose, but we will not cater to such childish antics."

Goal Thermometer Blue America is helping raise money for Jon Ossoff's get out the vote efforts. That's the key to winning this race-- getting everyone in GA-06 who wants to put the brakes on Trump to turn out and vote. Please consider helping by clicking the ActBlue thermometer on the right and giving what you can. And remember, April 18 is just one month from tomorrow! Republicans are biting their nails over a seat in suburban Georgia. Who would have ever thunk? Let's help put Ossoff in Congress-- and give the folks in Montana an idea that they can do the same on May 25 when Democrat Rob Quist meets crackpot multimillionaire wing-nut Greg Gianforte to replace Ryan Zinke, Trump's Secretary of the Interior, in another special election.

UPDATE: Remember How East-Peasy It Was To Hack Diebold Machines?

One of the country's top experts on electronic voter fraud just responded to the post above by telling me, among other things, that "Moving to paper ballots in GA would be great, of course. They (with Maryland) were the first state to go to touch-screen voting systems back in 2002 and still use those same shitty Diebold machines-- the same ones we hacked years ago-- in all of their elections. It's insane! Of all of the systems, those are likely the easiest ones to manipulate by both outsiders (hackers) and insiders (officials with access to the machines or, much easier, central tabulator)."

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At 8:31 PM, Blogger Gadfly said...

A number of European countries — including the Netherlands — use paper ballots, period. That includes neighboring Belgium, Sweden, Denmark, and others.

See how easy it is to find this out in 30 seconds?

At 8:33 PM, Blogger Gadfly said...

As for Crazy Bear, etc., god are you dumb. Most national-level Dems are now admitting there's nothing there and Putin did NOT "do it." (It's kind of fun watching you Berniecrat folks still engage in Clintonista-type defenses of the party rather than doing a #DemExit.) Anyway, here's the reality about Cozy Bear, DePantsed Bear, etc.

At 7:46 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Doesn't matter if it's Russia or kkkarl rove or anyone else.

Paper ballots and offline counting need to be the standard. period.

Gawd, americans are just fucking stupid.

At 9:43 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

You are aware electronic voting machines aren't connected to the internet, right? That means they can only be "hacked" manually. So, unless there are thousands of Russian operatives scattered throughout the 50 states, that Georgia election could only have been manipulated by whichever of the two parties is in control of the voting process.

It's become increasingly annoying reading how totally the whole "Russian interference" hysteria was embraced by parties contributing to this blog, utterly disregarding there was no actual evidence presented to support the allegation. Unless, of course, you have more reason to accept without question the word of the FBI and CIA than I do.

At 11:56 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ms. Burton, I am led to believe that they are NOT all offline. However, whether connected via public internet, private network or VPN, they ARE connected so as to download totals. And they are programmed, which provides an opportunity for anyone with access to alter or gork the voting and counting in any number of ways.

I'm a former long-time computer dweeb. Trust me on this.

Russian, Republican, Democrap or even partisan lone-wolf... it matters not who did it nor how nor, at this point, when. Voting must be on paper and should be hand-counted and verifiable with failsafes.

Everyone who is against these either wants to sell voting shit for profit or wants to be able to fuck with voting whenever it amuses him/them.


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