Feeling good about the recall petitions? You should be worried instead.

January 17, 2012 by Grant Petty

Are you gratified by the incredible results of the recall petition drives? Well, here’s an important caveat that I want every Wisconsinite to start thinking about SOON. And trust me, this isn’t just tinfoil hat stuff.

Most will agree that the stakes here in Wisconsin are tremendous – not only for the state but for the entire country. MILLIONS of dollars are already being poured into the state by various interests in an effort to influence the outcomes.

Going beyond even just the money, most readers will agree that certain stakeholders — both in Wisconsin and outside Wisconsin — will do literally anything in their power to try to ensure that the recall elections come out the way they want them to.

Now for the really bad news:

(1) We do NOT currently have the power to verify that votes are counted and reported accurately.

(2) The very few people who DO have that power are NOT public election officials, they’re the commercial vendors/programmers of the voting machines.

(3) None of the “certification” done by the GAB protects against fraudulent programming of the vote-counting software for a particular election.

(4) There have been serious questions raised in the past about the ethics and ideology of ES&S, the provider of voting systems in Wisconsin, and/or about the reliability of their machines.

(5) The vote counting software, as well as the memory cards used in a specific election, have been declared proprietary and therefore off-limits to public scrutiny, either before or after the election.

(6) We, the public, do NOT currently have the legal right to insist on on random independent audits of vote counts.

(7) There is ample circumstantial evidence that the lack of public accountability and/or reliability in electronic vote counts have tipped crucial past elections.

ALL of the above statements can be easily verified. Taken together, they should make the hair stand up on the back of your neck. To summarize, our coming recall elections will be entirely “faith-based” — we must simply TRUST that no one will have both motive and opportunity to exploit gaping vulnerabilities in our election system. This naive trust is completely undeserved, period.

If you are surprised and shocked by any of the above, NOW is the time to begin applying serious pressure to restore transparency and accountability to our upcoming elections. I would start with item (6) above, since that is probably the solution that could be most quickly and convincingly implemented in the short term. In addition, it would help to try to educate election officials and county clerks as to the vulnerabilities. Most of them, presumably, want clean elections and simply trust that the machines “work”.

IMPORTANT ADDENDUM: RIGHT AFTER I wrote the above note, I was pointed to this brand new video of a jaw-dropping press conference from just a few days ago (Jan. 12, 2012) in Tuscon, Arizona. Almost everything discussed in this press conference is potentially applicable to Wisconsin as well. It reinforces the points I made above more powerfully than anything I’ve seen so far. Please watch and share widely! 

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