One of America's leading authorities on technology and telecom policy, Motley is a writer, television and radio commentator, political and policy strategist, lecturer, debater, activist, and policy advisor to The Heartland Institute.
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Remember the overtime-session, hanging chad, 2000 George W. Bush v Al Gore presidential election? Where it all came down to Florida – and Gore unsuccessfully sued to overturn the Sunshine State’s certification of Bush as its winner?
I remember. I was working on the Bush side of the ledger – in Austin, Texas. Part of the decade I spent living in the Live Music Capital of World. (Austin is nice – because it is so close to Texas.)
The hanging chads – left the Left going nuts. Well, it afforded the Left another opportunity to again demonstrate that they’ve all along been nuts.
They screeched about the antiquated paper ballots with the punch holes (partial punching of which resulted in the aforementioned hanging chads.) They demanded that these antiquated technologies be eschewed: “The academic study concluded that many of the mechanical and human problems experienced last November could be solved if counties eliminated punch cards and lever machines.”
So we nationwide spent hundreds of millions of dollars (or more) purchasing electronic voting machines. Then came 2004 – when Democrat John Kerry lost the presidency to incumbent Bush.
During said campaign the Left screeched that – brace yourselves, else their sudden, dramatic change of position might cause whiplash – the electronic machines were susceptible to hacking…and we should use paper ballots.
Voting Machines; Demand Grows to Require Paper Trails for Electronic Votes: “A coalition of computer scientists, voter groups and state officials, led by California’s secretary of state, Kevin Shelley, is trying to force the makers of electronic voting machines to equip those machines with voter-verifiable paper trails.
“Following the problems of the 2000 election in Florida, a number of states and hundreds of counties rushed to dump their punch card ballot systems and to buy the electronic touch screens.”
Ten years later:
States Ditch Electronic Voting Machines: “States have abandoned electronic voting machines in droves, ensuring that most voters will be casting their ballots by hand on Election Day.”
Well that mass rash of electronic machine purchases was huge money well spent.
Well God bless the free market – we now have technology that does both. It’s electronic voting – with a paper chaser.
You vote electronically. The machine then kicks out a paper ballot – which you check against the machine. When all is good, you submit electronically – and then put the paper ballot in the old school ballot box.
Belts and suspenders, as it were.
Texas, for instance, is currently considering allowing them to be sold in their friendly confines. The process to gain approval includes approval by both the state’s Attorney General (Ken Paxton) and Secretary of State (Rolando Pablos).
Of course, this is Texas. The giant, free market-loving Lone Star State. And Paxton and Pablos are from all appearances of stalwart conservative caliber. So no problem, right?
But this is America. Giant, litigious America. Chock full of Leftists and cronyism-seeking hack companies – in even the most conservative of states. There are flies in even the finest of ointments.
Voting Machine Maker Sues to Block Rival Companies’ Paper-Using Devices: “The manufacturer of the digital voting machines used across the state has filed suit in Travis County state District Court, seeking to block the Texas secretary of state from certifying rival machine makers whose devices produce a paper receipt of votes cast….
“The lawsuit filed by Austin-based Hart InterCivic – the manufacturer of the eSlate voting machines used in Travis County – asks a state judge to preemptively rule that voting machines that produce a paper record don’t comply with state laws requiring the use of electronic voting machines for all countywide elections.”
Get that? This company is looking to have the government block new (and from all appearances better) competitors. By claiming that electronic voting machines – that are also paper-ballot-producing machines – shouldn’t qualify as electronic voting machines.
Which is ridiculous.
Ok – we’ve identified the cronyism attempt on the part of the company. Which leads inexorably to the question – which government officials are so supplely compliant?:
Meet Harris County (Houston) Clerk – Republican Stan Stanart: “Harris County Clerk Stan Stanart, disagrees. In a letter Stanart sent to the attorney general, he asked Paxton to nix Larson’s request.
“‘The production and use of marked paper ballots, even within an otherwise electronic system, reintroduces the potential for manual ballot manipulation and other forms of election fraud,’ Stanart wrote.”
But of course, there’s an electronic backup to the paper ballot. Or, if you prefer, a paper backup to the electronic ballot. It’s both.
Both – is better than either: “(Dan S. Wallach, Baker Institute for Public Policy at Rice University, writes) what is clear is that we need to adequately defend ourselves against future nation-state attacks on our elections.”
Or domestic attacks, for that matter.
But then there’s Harris County’s Stanart: “Harris County officials refuse to answer whether they saw any attempts to penetrate the county’s systems….Those officials repeatedly have not answered questions about whether they saw such a threat.”
Love the full disclosure.
But despite the nebulousness, we do find out there has been some serious nefariousness afoot: “Bruce High, the chief information officer and executive director of the county’s Central Technology Services, has acknowledged a recent ‘spike’ in attempts to hack Harris County servers from outside of America’s borders, but has declined to explain when the spike began, what is being targeted and where the hack attempts are coming from.”
Thanks again for being so fully forthcoming. I’m absolutely sure absolutely none of said attempted hacks are aimed at anything having to do voting. Well, I might be – were Harris County to disclose anything.
Are there fraud threats with paper ballots? Of course. Are there hack threats to electronic voting? Of course.
Nigh nothing can guarantee purity in either format. So why not have both? Where you as a voter can cross-reference one against the other. To ensure that for whom you want to vote – is for whom you actually vote.
And even that raft of sense – isn’t the point. Texas isn’t considering mandating these machines – they are considering simply allowing these machines to be another alternative on the open market. Where Harris and all of Texas’ 254 counties – can have them on their list of options.
One of the contrasts between conservatives and Leftists – is the following two sentences.
Conservatives say “I don’t like it – I won’t do it.”
Leftists say “I don’t like it – YOU won’t do it.”
Why is Harris County Clerk – REPUBLICAN Stan Stanart – taking the latter, Leftist tack?
Here, perhaps, is a clue: Guess which company’s voting machines Stanart’s Harris County uses?
The lawsuit-filing, electronic-only Hart’s, natch.
I know – you’re shocked.
[Originally Published at RedState]