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Break the Democratic Establishment's Hold on a Rigged Primary System This Convention - Scan the Ballots

Updated on August 6, 2016
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Ralph Lopez majored in economics and political science at Yale University. He has been published in the Boston Globe and the Baltimore Sun.

Volunteers count provisional ballots in California
Volunteers count provisional ballots in California

The problem with American politics is not as much Hillary - though she is a big problem - as it is Hillaryism. Unbridled ambition and lust for power for its own sake has been plaguing humanity probably from the start. In this quaint period we call Modern Times perhaps the single best curb to these kinds of people are what the Athenians called democracy, literally the Greek "demos" meaning full citizen of the city-state, and "kratos," the power to rule. In other words, self-rule. The expression of democracy is the vote,

Without a fair vote, there is no democracy, because a few people decide who wins, not all full citizens. Systems of voting have been experimented with for countless years. From boxes with different colored balls, to purely electronic. The best we have arrived at to date, according to a consensus of election integrity organizations, has been the secret paper ballot. This is because although technology is good in a lot of things, elections isn't one of them. The closer you get to visible, tangible pieces of paper which can be preserved as an historical record, the better.

Paper doesn't disappear when you turn off the electricity. You can't change what it says with a couple of keystrokes.

The problem of election fraud arises whenever a clearly non-establishment, non-War-Party candidate becomes a front runner. It is not unique to the Democrats. Unreported, in 2012 the Ron Paul campaign was subjected to vote-flipping, ballot-stealing, and outright thuggery by the GOP establishment uncomfortable with his pro-Constitution, non-interventionist policies. Like Sanders, Paul filled stadiums with new young voters and then somehow lost.

Most states in America have gone a long way to "paper trail" voting systems, which only means there is a piece of paper that the voter can look at and verify it says what he or she wants. Even with paper trail, many shenanigans are possible, but it makes things that much harder. Someone has to take a risk to walk a lot of paper out a back door, or to stuff a box with ballots. People can find out. With electronic systems, no one ever finds out.

The glaring vulnerability in paper trail systems today is not the paper trail, but the ability to look at it. Many states have audit laws, but election officials get to choose which precincts they audit. Even if an audit is "random," as many state laws stipulate, if an official is going to lie about what's in the ballot box, he's going to lie about the audit being random too.

An audit of the actual ballots, or voting "receipts" in some systems, is the only guarantor that what the vote-counting machine says is really true.

Optical scan vote-counting machine hacking demonstration in "Hacking Democracy"

Now in Illinois, and in Humboldt, California, the solution is being tested whose time has come, and this time, technology works beautifully. The idea of scanning all the ballots, immediately after they are received, into a read-only DVD. The DVD is then public, at a nominal cost, for a swarm of citizen auditors to be all over that bad boy, to make sure the totals add up.

There is no doubt whatsoever that there are passionately concerned citizens who would jump at the chance to give up their nights, weekends, and much of their sleep to do impressive election integrity work.

In Illinois the Institute for American Democracy and Election Integrity indicates that it will obtain ballots on DVDs ready for citizen inspectors, in its upcoming RICO lawsuit against election authorities. In Humboldt, the Humboldt Project has made the scanning of all ballots the centerpiece of its election integrity campaign.

The project says that such a measure:

"establish a new level of transparency for public elections that would allow any member of the public to independently audit the election. It would enable the public to detect any discrepancies between the official totals and the scanned images if errors or fraud occurred."

Ballots should be scanned as they come out of the box on election night, with citizen monitors witnessing. In the case of mail-in votes, it must require two persons to process a mail-in ballot, one to witness what the other is doing. Again, no system is foolproof, but the more checks are built in, the more difficult fraud is to commit. Mail-in ballots should be scanned immediately after they are opened.

Election integrity science posits that the less time officials, or anyone else, has alone with the ballots, the fewer chances for monkey business.

Once all ballots are scanned into DVD, it will be several orders of magnitude more difficult to commit election fraud, because of the wide availability of the ballots for inspection. Presently it takes a court order to allow citizens to count ballots, as they did in California with the "provisional ballots" many Sanders voters were forced to cast.

This should not be the case. If the parties want the taxpayer to foot the bill for their primaries, as they do, then the ballots belong to everyone. It would be damning to even oppose this: what are they trying to hide?

Scan the ballots, should be a part of the Democratic Party platform, and the law in all 50 states. If this election had been a fair one Bernie would be up there accepting the nomination. Make the convention about making sure that a disaster like Hillary can never happen again.


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