2012 Election Voting Concerns

By Anthony Trenka

Ed. Note: The author is a member of Conservatives for Responsible Government who volunteered as a poll worker in the 2012 general election.)

As we’ve all gone through the 2012 Election period and have seen our candidates talk, debate, state their issues and their platforms, we had a pretty good idea who we were going to vote for. But, did that vote get counted?

In the 2000 election with George Bush and Al Gore we saw the election counting stopped by the Supreme Court. Whether you think that was a good idea or a bad idea, it left everyone thinking that there was election tampering.

Since that time we’ve had the 2008 election. We’ve seen the media ramp up their candidate and push as hard as they can for their man. Again, are we convinced that there has been no election tampering?

Tuesday, again we went to the polls.  I worked the polls and within my own precinct we had over 50% voter participation. That is a fairly large number for the most voter turnouts. I, personally, was happy that people were coming out to exercise their constitutional rights to vote in a general election.

Our precinct did everything within our power to have everyone that was authorized to vote,  vote. I understand that our State Constitution said that electronic voting machines are not permitted. But that has been overridden. As we all know electronic voting machines are commonly used throughout the country.

I for one, have reservations concerning these electronic voting machines. I see how they work and I know that the vote tallies depend on a single memory card that can electronically altered. The questions are; is it altered, how can it be altered and by whom and where would it be altered from?

All good questions that go to the heart of American democracy. If an election can be modified for a specific candidate, then we no longer have a democracy. This is an issue that was taken up by a documentary called “Hacking Democracy”.

This documentary was nominated for an Emmy award for outstanding investigative journalist. The film was played on HBO. The problem with that is that many people do not have cable and if they do have cable them may not subscriber to HBO. Fortunately it is available on YouTube.

First, I would like to go over a few things. The question about altering election results is something that has gone through every American’s mind. But how; that has always been the question. Tuesday, like many times before, when we close the polls we had trouble with the machines. This is not unusual, last election the same thing happened.

A tech advisor, or rover as they’re referred to, had to fix the machines. Since this happened twice, in two separate elections, I was curious why it was happening. It turned out that the machines that are program to shut down automatically at 7 PM somehow had reset their internal clocks by one hour earlier just before seven 7pm. This means at 7:20pm the machines in question were showing 6:20pm. As the tech tried to fix the machine it became clear that the machine was not going to allow this to happen.

During that time period, the machines would accept new votes and were still active to change. I spoke to the tech directly and he confirmed that this was possible. He unplugged the machines and reset the clock to the correct time. We checked the times on all the machines during the day and found nothing wrong. When the last machine that was ready to print out the election results, it too had the same problem of being set back an hour so we could not print the election results.

The same procedure to correct that machine took place. This made me very suspicious. I knew that all the results from all the machines were on the memory cards and were sent to election headquarters in Conway. We had checked every single person in and could compare that to the amount of votes we had on the printed tape to verify accuracy. So how could anybody modify it?

My suspicions were, it had to be within the memory cards that were used in the machines. It was only until I watched “Hacking Democracy” that the method came to light.

The machines are basically small computers. Everything you see on the screen is programmed into the card; the names of the candidates, the sizes of boxes and everything else displayed. It has to be that way;  the candidates change, the amount of candidates change and  the parties running in the election change. So every one of these cards would have to be reprogrammed for every single election in each precinct in every county. As you will see in “Hacking Democracy”, all that information is on the memory card.

The manufacturers* of these machines testified that there were no programs on the cards, they only have voting results on them. If that was true, where would the machines get the names of the candidates that change all the time or the names of the parties involved?

E.S.S. makes iVotronic touch-screen machines for which we paid 30 million dollars. The Machines were locally reported to have malfunction as early as last year. http://www.myrtlebeachonline.com/2011/04/05/2081390/voting-machines-to-get-closer.html

In “Hacking Democracy” they proved that anyone with a good knowledge of programming could go into the card prior to the election and modify it to come up with the voting results they want. But who could do that? Election officials, a rogue worker, someone hacking in from the outside (these machines are not connected to the Internet) or could it be the manufacturers themselves?

Did you know that different manufacturers lobby for different political parties throughout the country and give donations to those parties?

State Election officials have to give information to the manufacturers concerning every election. The manufacturers have to update the software for it to reflect the changes mentioned previously. It would be very easy for those manufacturers to change the programming code inside the program that no one but themselves could see. That way they would upload the updates to each county election commission and in turn the election officials would update every machine for the new election.

No one would ever know except the programmer(s) who write the code for these machines. You will see how this was done in the documentary “Hacking Democracy”. The machines could be modified at any time prior to printing the tape of the election results. Is this why the machines reset one hour when we try to shut them down? Is this why this happens from precinct to precinct?

Every year that goes by, the Government and it’s supporters get bolder and don’t even bother to make up a good story when ask about these things. I guess they feel we are to dumb to ask questions.

What I am saying is, we should have a better way of verifying votes. Even counties that use paper ballots use optical scanners to run the votes into the system. Depending on the voting machine manufacturers, who will give us no information on how these machines work, to guarantee to the American people their authenticity is not good enough.

We have become dependent on companies that have political agendas. As every voting cycle goes by Americans become more disenchanted with the voting system. Our participation drops, apathy increases and democracy leaves out the front door of America.

I encourage everyone to watch “Hacking Democracy”. We need to get control of our voting systems and guarantee we are a country for the people, by the people.

You Tube link – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rVTXbARGXso

*The manufacturers in “Hacking Democracy” are the same manufactures that supply South Carolina with their machines the ESS iVotronic  touch machines and the scanners.

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