The Dangers From Voting Machines

Concern for election fraud is gradually finding its way into the mainstream media. The Washington Examiner is running an editorial by Marc Danziger on the subject. In contrast to some of the recently written material, such as the article by Robert Kennedy, Jr. in Rolling Stone, the potential problems are rationally laid out without making unsubstantiated claims, or bringing up bogus theories such as the exit polls. While some irresponsible sites in the blogoshere made charges that the recent California special election was stolen, this author makes no such charges while outlining the danger. If the average person is going to take this seriously, rational articles like this are needed:

Let me be very clear: The machines in use to count your vote aren’t remotely as secure as the video poker machine that you lost $5 to at the airport in Las Vegas. Seriously. You can look it up. Go over to the Gaming Standards Association ( and surf around. If voting machines were as well-tested, none of us would worry about them.

Bad as the machines’ security is, the voting systems surrounding the voting machines are so laughably insecure that no modern American corporation could use them, for fear of a Sarbanes-Oxley indictment of executives and directors.

Consider the recent special election here in California. The local San Diego County Registrar set up the election by allowing local precinct workers to take the machines home with them the night before.

I don’t think that specific election was hacked. But one of these days, one will be. And worse, as faith in the plumbing of democracy fades, what’s going to happen is that — like the proverbial banana republic — the losers in our elections won’t walk away vowing to do better next time. Instead, they’ll be convinced that the game is fixed, the referees bought, and that there’s no reason to participate in electoral politics.

That’ll lead to a whole other kind of politics, and I don’t think we’ll like it very much.

I don’t wear tinfoil hats. I don’t believe aliens are housed at Area 51. I do know for certain that we need to look hard at how we’re handing the plumbing of our democracy, or we’re for sure going to end up with a heck of a mess on the floor.

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