Ghost in the Voting Machine

Election 2012: Be Afraid. Be Very Afraid

Say it ain't so!Here is your Halloween Horror Story Scary Post! Victoria Collier has a terrifying account of electoral spookiness in the current Harper’s Magazine.* Spoiler alert: Collier suggests that it is entirely possible that the GOP will be able to rig computerized voting machines to ensure that Mitt Romney wins the Presidency…and further, there’s no way to tell for sure whether a Romney victory is the result of a legitimate vote count, or out-and-out electronic fraud.

This is one of those stories where you can’t help wondering just how paranoid to be. On the one hand, Collier has solid evidence that something nasty could be happening in the computer shed. On the other hand, there’s no definite proof that it has happened…just lots and lots of suspicious maybe-traces. And nobody wants to be relegated to the tinfoil-hat brigade, which feels like the near-certain result of insisting that there’s a big ol’ conspiracy out there.

Every one knows that small-time electoral ratfucking is no surprise. It’s common knowledge that Karl Rove torpedoed John McCain in the 2004 Virginia 2000 South Carolina GOP Primary (Really, we knew that, we were just testing if YOU were paying attention. Yeah). We readily accept that a scuzzy local operative might toss a pile of voter registration forms in a dumpster, or that a local elections board might “accidentally” mail announcements with the wrong date for the election printed on one side — the Spanish side — of the card… But massive vote-rigging on a scale that could deliver a whole state, or several states, regardless of the actual vote totals? Come on. That’s the sort of thing that right-wing loonies freak out about, not us. It feels intuitively comparable to 9/11 trutherism, or the automotive engineer who blogs about how Einstein Had It All Wrong — it’s an offense to our bullshit detectors. Or perhaps it just seems like such a 19th-century, Boss Tweed kind of wholesale corruption that our modern Good Government brains don’t want to even stoop so low as to consider it — that sort of thing just doesn’t happen any more.

Only a wild-eyed zealot would look at such a ridiculous assertion and insist, “And yet I tell you IT IS TRUE!”

And yet we tell you, umm, yeah, Collier’s article actually scares us. We think. A little.

First off, the technology: Electronic voting systems are almost ridiculously hackable. Collier details a few of the security concerns, but mostly it comes down to a litany of different systems where computer people (real experts, we mean, not computer-generated people like the background crowds in movies or Willard M. Romney) have identified the systems’ “appalling security flaws” and then said “Holy shit these systems are really, REALLY hackable!” And these are fairly sober, well-respected organizations, including the U.S. Department of Energy computer lab, the “bipartisan Commission on Federal Election Reform, chaired by Jimmy Carter and James Baker,” and

researchers from Johns Hopkins, Princeton, Rice, and Stanford Universities, the Brennan Center for Justice, and the Government Accountability Office (none of them institutions hospitable to “tinfoil hat” conspiracy theorists).

Ok, but so far, we only know that it could happen, right? But that doesn’t mean it did happen. After all, we make fun of James O’Keefe all the damn time for his stoopid videos showing that in-person voting fraud is possible, and then we call him a paranoid doodybrains for being so misleading. Knowing that armed robbery is illegal doesn’t mean that we need strip searches at the doors of retail stores, right?

But then there’s the electoral data that just doesn’t look right: The improbable gap in 2004 between the exit-poll data that showed John Kerry winning handily in several states, especially Ohio, and the touch-screen voting machines that gave Kerry a far smaller percentage of the vote. The strange 2010 Democratic primary victory of unknown strange person Alvin Greene, who did not campaign at all, against a former judge and state legislator, in an election where “Voters and campaign workers reported that the…touchscreen machines ‘flipped’ votes to Greene all day long.” Even Martha Coakley’s loss to hair farmer Scott Brown in the 2010 special election in Massachussetts begins to look suspect — yes, Coakley ran a terrible campaign and Brown had help from enthusiastic Tea Partiers, but on the other hand,

According to the [Election Defense Alliance], in all seventy-one locations where ballots were counted by hand under public observation—more than 65,000 ballots in all—Coakley beat her opponent by 2.8 percent. Their analysis also showed that computer-counted communities were more Democratic by registration and historically less likely to support Republican candidates.

And then there’s all the sketchy deals involving GOP stalwarts who just happen to own voting-machine companies. And the press and Democratic office-holders who may have suspicions, but are understandably leery of being tarred with the “conspiracy theorist” label. (We completely understand that fear. We feel a little like wearing a colander as we type up this post. But our colander needs washing…we really should get to that.)

Happily, there may be some hope that the problem can be addressed without the use of HAARP, e-meters, or alien hybrid technology reverse-engineered from wreckage found at Area 51, but it may involve an idea even more “wacky” and “far-out” than any of those: Germany and Ireland have effectively barred computerized voting systems through judicial decisions and follow-up legislation. In both countries, vote counts “must be something the public can authenticate — and without any specialized expertise.”

So to clean up our elections and make electronic ratfucking impossible, all we need to do is adopt voting reforms from Europe.

We are so screwed.

*It’s the November cover story; sadly, the website has only a short excerpt unless you subscribe…and even a subscription entails a 1-2 day wait for online access. We are unsure whether this is because the Harper’s web-concern runs on manual typewriters, pneumatic tubes, and copy-boys on velocipedes, or if it’s perhaps an ironic commentary on the fallibility of technology. Sure, print’s kind of a drag, but you might want to just go to a “news stand” and purchase this magazine.


About the author

Doktor Zoom Is the pseudonym of Marty Kelley, who lives in Boise, Idaho. He acquired his nym from a fan of Silver-Age comics after being differently punctual to too many meetings. He is not a medical doctor, although he has a real PhD (in Rhetoric and Composition).

View all articles by Doktor Zoom
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  1. Crank_Tango

    Jesus. If it's not pictures of water or stupid halloween costumes, it's these fucking ponies. I refuse to comment on this post.

  2. petegaines

    In the lack of something funny to say, all I can suggest is that everyone should use their phones to document their voting booth experiences, especially with touch-screen/computerized voting.

    1. mayor_quimby

      It's where you go to get porno mags when you're on a business trip and can't bring your porn on your work laptop. Often found in airports and train stations, and always in 7-11's.

    2. AlterNewt

      Just look for all the guys in trench coats and fedoras, standing around reading and smoking. And as you pay for your magazine say, "Thanks, Bub."

    3. GunToting[Redacted]

      There was a Barnes & Noble in the dying mall in my town, but it closed last year. I'd have to drive 100 miles to find this. Yay technology!

      1. bibliotequetress

        Yeah, same here. Were we all abducted by aliens then plopped back in front of our computers with no memory of what happened after Wonkette disappeared? TINFOIL HAT REVENGE

      2. sullivanst

        I was tragically forced to work today by the lack of internet at the office.

        Inhumane conditions, I tell ya!

    1. coolhandnuke

      Years ago, while camping on Assateague Island with fungi on the brain, one of them mini ponies stuck its snout into my tent and bit my foot. They're mean little fuckers–three centuries of in-breeding does that to an animal…much like the Republican Party.

      1. GunToting[Redacted]

        When I was in grad school my friend's family had a house about 3 miles from the bridge to Assateague. One night none of us could sleep, so we hopped in the car, headed to the beach and built a fire. A couple of ponies came out and hung out with us. Pretty cool.

    2. cheetojeebus

      yeah, me too, then i come back and there's all these posts and it's like …what did I say?

      I'm sorry. forgive?

      I swear the ponies are ok, keep postin' em. they're cute……..honest.

      can i stay?

    3. mayor_quimby

      I followed your link, and I'm confused. Do they just make them swim for shits and giggles? (Sorry, I didn't read the whole thing)

  3. JackObin

    A mormon would never cheat, would he? I mean, he got to be a billionaire by playing by the rules and helping his fellow man. So all this talk is just nonsense.

    1. tessiee

      I don't claim to be any sort of expert on Mormons and their beliefs, but they wouldn't DARE steal the election, because they know that after what happened in 2000 and again in 2004, we're watching them closely! Right?

    2. Monsieur_Grumpe

      I was fucked over by some Mormons. Let's just say they can justify canceling any contract in the name of their Lord.

      1. mayor_quimby

        Tell us more…. I would like to know what to look out for, other than a salesman in a white short sleeve dress shirt with a tie.

    3. BaldarTFlagass

      Everything I need to know about Mormons I learned from James Ellroy's "Underworld USA" trilogy.

    4. themormonsRevil

      Mormons are the scariest people on the planet. They are tactful, cunning and manipulative. Who would really suspect so much evil being wrapped in such a dorky, well dressed package?

    1. JohnnyQuick

      WHAT? This mighty warblog cannot fail! It can only be failed! If these 'servers' cannot handle its mighty load, it will be forced to be birthed into this reality. Its birth pangs will set the sky alight above the Capitol. It will emerge from the reflecting pool like Marty Sheen in Apocalypse Now, caked in blood and greasepaint. Amid the lightning storm and Doors' music, Karl Rove will be subsumed back into the jungle, where even he knows he belongs.

  4. RalphCrown

    This isn't a tinfoil hat thing. Republicans can't win without cheating, but they have to keep finding trickier and dirtier and sneakier ways to cheat.

    I consider it treason to fix an election. Hang a few of these weasels and see if they don't think twice before they try it again.

    1. BadKitty904

      Snark off:

      I agree – paranoia, this ain't. The Repugs have repeatedly demonstrated their utter contempt for the American democratic process and have actively worked to subvert it.

      They stole the presidential election in 2000 and they'll do it again, if they think they can get away with it.

    2. TootsStansbury

      I have suspicion. Why are the "polls" so close with such an unpopular candidate? Why the sudden proliferation of yard signs, comments to news articles etc.? "They won't suspect a thing". Trust nothing when ratfuckers like Rove are involved.

      Bah, I'm making Linguini and clams tonight and need my colander to drain the pasta.

      I wish I would have taken a picture of the walled and gated home in a well heeled neighborhood here in NOVA; big Romney sign – in the gate!

    3. MegPasadena

      Yeah, like that woman in Wisconsin who was in charge of counting votes and saved the result in her personal computer and then always managed to pull out a number to give the R a razor thin win. She did this over and over again. The last time this happened, it was the election for WI supreme court judge.

      1. sullivanst

        Although in the case of the WISC count, there was enough corroborating evidence for the final adjusted tally that disbelieving it is into tinfoil territory.

  5. emmelemm

    I misread "collander" as collaborator and I was really confused and thought you were like Godwinning yourself or something.

    Beeteedubs, it's spelled colander.

        1. Lot_49

          This is why you have to put quibbles and corrections in a reply to the original comment, rather than a new one. But let's keep that little secret between you and I.

  6. natl_[redacted]_cmdr

    Why can't we just vote on paper ballots and have supervised humans count them? Could such a thing even work?

    1. MegPasadena

      In CA, we use computer card which you mark with pen and then some low tech machine reads it. You can't hack that and there is always the paper trace left for recount. I think it works well.

      1. CthuNHu

        Pretty much the same in NH. Paper ballots are the law and all recounts are by hand, overseen by a genuinely nonpartisan Secretary of State's office, with every ballot looked at by two officials and two partisan observers, either of whom can challenge the nonpartisan officials' judgment prior to the ballot being counted, which means the ballot doesn't get counted until a higher official rules on it, generally the Secretary or Deputy Secretary of State. If either of the partisan observers objects, it still gets counted, but also gets set aside in a pile to be appealed to the Ballot Law Commission — but those appeals are virtually always dropped, with the challenging party dropping its objections to the Secretary of State's ruling, once it's discovered that the margin of victory in the other recounted ballots is too large for the challenged ballots to make a difference.

        How hard can it be to interpret the voter's intention on a ballot? 99.8% of the time, it's a piece of cake. .19% of the time, it takes some scrutiny, thinking, discussion and/or reconstruction of the voter's train of thought to get to the right answer. .0098% of the time, it takes all of those, and you're pretty sure the right call got made, but you wouldn't place a lot of money on it. .0002% of the time it's a stab in the dark on a hunch.

        With touchscreen voting you have a much cleaner, simpler procedure: what the machine says the numbers are, is what the numbers are, because you don't have any other data. Nor do you have any evidence whatsoever that those numbers represent the actual electoral choices of the voters. With paper ballots, you can have rapid machine counting, but you also always have the fact of potential human recount to — perhaps quite literally — keep the machines honest.

        1. sullivanst

          .0002% of the time you discard the ballot, actually. If you can't determine intent, you can't count the vote. Pretty simple, and anyone who followed the '08 MN-Sen recount knows that the system works as well as anyone could hope it would.

          Not all touchscreens are the same. The machines with voter-confirmed paper printouts in theory should give you everything an optical scan counter gives you. They also give you nothing more than an optical scan counter gives you, so what the fuck's the point, especially as they appear to be far less reliable in terms of simply being getting people in and out on election day.

          1. ChapterUndVerse

            The subroutine to send the data entry to print and conditionally change the logic is as old as Fortran, though.

      1. natl_[redacted]_cmdr

        Oh, sure. Fix it. Make me look like the crazy one! You're in on it, aren't you!? You're one of them! They got to you didn't they!?!

        1. Incitefully_Joe

          I'd also add Sippy Cupp to that list. Normally I don't go for ladies who are as dumb as a sack of bricks, but she also rocks the hot librarian look, so that totally evens things out.

  7. AngryBlakGuy

    …"And nobody wants to be relegated to the tinfoil-hat brigade, which feels like the near-certain result of insisting that there’s a big ol’ conspiracy out there."

    Speak for yourself, I hold the rank of Staff Seargent in the tinfoil hat brigade and I am damn proud of it!!!

    1. mayor_quimby

      I forgot about Dan since he was banished from Wapo , used to read him all the time. Now it takes more effort to find him at Nieman or wherever.

  8. SayItWithWookies

    There's always the possibility that they'll try to rig the election but lose the vote so badly that it won't matter. Or that they're so proud of Citizens United allowing huge infusions of anonymous corporate cash into the election that they don't want to fuck it up with cheating but still manage to lose because everybody thinks they suck. Either way, the more people vote, the less likely their deceptive tactics will work.

    1. decentcitizen

      I've got to think it's cheaper to steal an election than to go all Citizen United on it's ass. So I think if they could have pulled it off, they would have.

    2. Lot_49

      How mad are Sheldon Adelson and the Koch brothers going to be if they spend all their money and don't get the desired result? It would invalidate their entire Weltanschauung, night war?

      1. SayItWithWookies

        Hey, as tough innovative job-creators, they're used to putting money at risk. Granted it's usually not their own money, but I'm sure they'll find some rationalization for it if they don't get their way.

    3. Negropolis

      It's looking like they might be able to steal something like Florida, VA, or NC if they really wanted to given how close these are polling, but Ohio is so out of the way, now, they'd still ended up losing the election, bless their hearts.

  9. fuflans


    (according to MY boyfriend nate, bamz's chances are up by 11% (electoral vote) and 9% (chance of winning) since 10/23).

    1. weejee

      EZ fix fulflans. Go back to where it you get this mssg you've surpassed you monthly allotment of free views. Look at the URL. There is the basic core URL, like After the trailing slash there will be a bunch of gobbledygook that a cookie on yer machine triggered. Go up to the URL, highlight the gobbledygook and delete it leaving the core URL Hit the enter key and you should then be able to read the article.

      1. BoatOfVelociraptors

        You would think it would be more secure in a cookie. Not too many people hack their headers.

        1. weejee

          I don't bother with tweaking the cookie. It's only a guess that they they index there rather than the Gray Lady herself pushing the button on a counter. I have not done anything to check on that though since the workaround isn't so hard.

          One potato, two potato, trim the URL whee
          Now we be reading the NY Timez for free

          1. sullivanst

            There has to be some state stored between browsing sessions, and cookies are the only reliable way to do that across the range of browsers that a site like NYT has to deal with.

        2. sullivanst

          You don't have to hack your headers to change your cookies – just use Firefox and the Web Developer plugin, and you can delete the cookies selectively. Alternatively, with FF closed, you can just edit the cookie files directly if you happen to know how to find them.

          But not too many people do that either.

          There's always anonymizing proxies, or browsing NYT in private mode (phwoar, look at the typography on that Gray Lady!)

          1. BoatOfVelociraptors

            That just modifies the GET or POST request via a proxy. A cookie is just a Name Value Pair in the Cookie header request, and a Set-Cookie header in the response. However you hack it is your bidness.

          2. sullivanst

            Yeah, you don't have to tell me, I do this stuff for a living ;) So I'll let it slide that a cookie can be multi-valued.

            Of course, it would really be more accurate to say that it was the cookie that's modifying the request headers, or rather, causing the browser to do so. If you delete your cookies, you're really preventing that modification from happening.

            Now I think about it, Private mode is definitely the easiest way for your average user to stop their browser storing state (e.g., counting how many articles you've read on

      2. GunToting[Redacted]

        Even easier fix… Copy URL from NYT page in an email. Send email to self. Click link.

        The only time this falls over is for articles with more than one page, and that's maybe 10% of the time.

    2. Jukesgrrl

      My IntenseDebate cookie failed yesterday. I had to re-log in the middle of reading a post. Also, Yahoo mail has been bizarre lately. Today my contacts wouldn't transfer over when I created a message. It's something different every day.

      1. Biel_ze_Bubba

        So it's a crumbling cookie that's the problem? I could not even load the page, and kept getting weird (non-404) errors until I quit and restarted my browser.

    1. sullivanst

      Doesn't sound quite as bad as the whining coming out of the GOP that the President is politicizing the storm damage by handling it competently.

      Or quite as "WTF?!!" as Michael Brown saying that by starting the Federal response at the earliest opportunity, Obama missed a chance to make political hay by letting the entire eastern seaboard become even more fucked up and then swooping in as the savior figure.

  10. natoslug

    Those of us in the Tinfoil Condom Brigade know that Romney already won the election handily at 207%.

  11. bibliotequetress

    Gee, thanks a whole fucking lot, Rebecca. I'm already paranoid and jumpy with all these short bastards ringing my doorbell and extorting candy out of me. I find it all too possible that the same people who sold bundled real-estate derivatives to school teacher's pension funds can figure out a way to jack the e-voting system.

      1. Doktor Zoom

        I simply assume that if people like stuff, that's my accomplishment. If they dislike it, then that's Rebecca's fault.

        I think I may be ready for Management.

  12. PuckStopsHere

    Is there some reason, given the ease with which these machines can be hacked, that our side can't hack back once it's determined that they hacked first? I mean, I know they have more hacks on their side (Fox News, anyone?) but we should be able to cheat them to a draw if push comes to shove.

    1. Negropolis

      It's not that we don't have Dems that can hack, we just have this thing called a conscience. Honestly, if we did everything the GOP does, those bastards would never win another presidential election ever in the United States.

  13. LetUsBray

    I pin my hopes on two possible factors:

    1) The polling has being increasingly favorable to the prez, which makes it harder for the Rethugs and their apologists to say, Gosh, everyone just suddenly decided to vote for our dipshit.

    2) The prez won't be willing to let himself be run illegitimately out of office by the racist pigfucks. Possession is after all nine tenths of the law.

    1. emmelemm

      I am by NO means an Obama basher, truly, I'm not.

      However: what in the past 4 years has convinced you that Obama "won't be willing to let himself be run illegitimately out of office"? More likely, he'd step down in the interest of fairness, and bipartisanship. Because on that particular note, he is a fucking idiot.

      1. BaldarTFlagass

        Dems are like the Eloi, while Reps are like the Morlocks. Quite prescient, that Wells guy was.

      2. Negropolis

        Did you miss the whole debt ceiling debacle, and how he came oout on the other end of it? He stopped playing Mr. Bipartisan the minute those fuckers threatened to crash the economy into a wall. I thought the whole "Obama is weak" bullshit meme was thrown out last year?

    2. MegPasadena

      I think this kind of rigging usually works when the polls are very close, like right now in CO, VA, NH, NC and FL, so that people will not suspect foul play.
      So the key is to try to win a bigger margin.

      1. mull_man

        You're welcome. Tomorrow I'll reveal the key sequence such that all the DRE votes for Mittens will be flipped to one Snidely Whiplash.

        Now watch me pull a rabbit out of my hat…

    1. M. Bouffant

      Don't arse yourselves:

      This article is only available to magazine subscribers. If you are a subscriber, please sign in. If you aren't, please subscribe and get access to the entire Harper's archive for only $16.97/year.

  14. BaldarTFlagass

    Like many articles in the magazines I get in the mail, I only read this one until I was fucking furious and then set it aside before I stroked out (I had to let the Mother Jones scrip expire, too hazardous to my cardiovascular health). I already early-voted, but I think I'll go vote again just in case there are some shenanigans.

      1. BaldarTFlagass

        Thank you. That, plus a couple hours at the local barstool, may smooth my wrinkled cerebellum. Plus, I'll be seeing my right wing friends, and saying to myself "These fuckers are too stupid to pull off something like that."

  15. boskolives

    It's easier to relax after you accept the fact that it's never been about who gets the votes, it's who counts the votes. Ask Al Gore if you don't believe me.

  16. tessiee

    "Knowing that armed robbery is illegal doesn’t mean that we need strip searches at the doors of retail stores, right?"

    Only for the really attractive customers.

    1. Chet Kincaid_

      I didn't notice any gratuitous Obama bashing, McMansion dystopia, children playing in the rubble of a decaying public school, or William S. Burroughs, so no.

      1. vulpes82

        Ken seriously has mellowed since his desert sojourn began. He even endorsed Obama, with nary a "morally weak" in sight!

        1. BaldarTFlagass

          "desert sojourn."

          I dunno, wandering around the desert didn't exactly make Edward Abbey a font of human kindness and tolerance.

          1. vulpes82

            Ken needs time with his spirit animal to keep him in equilibrium, though. Not being around people helps with the misanthropy.

  17. memzilla

    OK Dok Zoom, ask Editrix for Double Secret Probationary Clearance on teh Wonket Tipz Line (if you haven't got it already) for additional info.

  18. Loch_Nessosaur

    The county I live in in Florida (yay) has paper ballots that use mark with a marker. The ballot then gets fed into a scanner and sent to the county election commissioner, which of course is where the tabulating software can get hacked. But, there's the backup with the original paper ballots. So, the opportunity is there but it may be more difficult to pull off.

  19. BaldarTFlagass

    I just don't understand why, if they could do this in 2004 and give Bush another 4 years, they weren't able to do it again in 2008 to keep the black guy out. I guess with having Palin on the ticket they realized that it just would have been pushing the envelope a little too far.

    1. Doktor Zoom

      Collier addresses this; it isn't especially reassuring (too big to blockquote, so the rest is all her):

      While Democrats won a majority in the House of Representatives in 2006, and the White House in 2008, postelection analyses did in fact suggest extensive red-shift rigging. But in both election cycles, these efforts simply failed to overcome eleventh-hour events so negative that they drastically undercut the projected wins for the G.O.P.

      In 2006, it was the exposure of Republican representative Mark Foley’s sexual advances toward male congressional pages, and the long-standing cover-up of his behavior by G.O.P. leadership. The scandal swirling around the outwardly homophobic Foley broke in a very ugly and public way, engulfing the entire party and causing a free fall in its polling numbers. The Democratic margin in the Cook Generic Congressional Ballot poll, which had been at 9 percent in early October, jumped to 26 percent by the week of the election.

      The collapse of Lehman Brothers months before the 2008 elections had a similar effect on John McCain’s numbers. Pre-election polls showed that the American public blamed the Republicans for the imploding financial markets. “These political sea changes swamped a red shift that turned out to be under-calibrated,” argues Jonathan Simon, who speculates that Barack Obama actually won by a historic landslide, driven by an overwhelming backlash against the policies of the Bush Administration.

      1. emmelemm

        Dammit, man, now you're making ME scared. And Lionel is at his house in Tacoma handing out candy to costumed midgets, so there's no one to hold me.

      2. HogeyeGrex

        I was of the opinion that they didn't really want to win in '08. The plan seemed to be to stick the Dems with the meltdown, but the meltdown came a bit early.

        Oooh, shiny!

        1. Negropolis

          This, and it seems they knew that no Republican was getting elected immediately elected after Dubya. So, it was more simple reality and circumstance than anything else. I'm sure Wall Street, too, knew that McCain could be erratic and unpredictable. I guess they made that bet that while Obama might speak harshly of them, it was less of a risk to back the devil they knew than the "maverickiness" of McCain. It didn't hurt that they knew they'd likely be able to buy a few cabinet positions regardless of the candidate elected.

        1. sullivanst

          Yes. I'll even ask where are the Flagasses of yesterday, even though it will be a much weaker allusion to Francois Villon.

          P.S: I'm the bombardier!

  20. weejee

    Can we give the princes of this Rethuglican electronic voting special Halloween apples that are stuffed with hanging chads and voting shards?

  21. BoatOfVelociraptors

    Needs moar sparkle. If I don't get a blingee'd pony on my wonkette I might, type on the internets! You will drive me to tweet!

  22. LagunaB

    Obama is going to win easily and the Dems will take the house and Senate.
    When was the last time you answered the phone from a strange number? So I don't believe the polls showing that the race is close. If anything it makes our people go and vote. It makes people volunteer. When I dropped my ballot off at the beginning of October, the Board of Election had boxes upon boxes filled with early mail in ballots lining the hall.

    1. Negropolis

      We are most definitely going to keep the presidency and the Senate, but the House is a whole other story. It'd have to be a perfect storm for us to take it back if only because how deeply we dug ourselves in 2010, but we'll most definitely make some gains.

      1. sullivanst

        Remember, though: all of the Republican freshman from the 2010 wave are up for reelection. Every one of them. It's not like the Senate.

        True, redistricting didn't help much, but the current RCP poll average for the House generic ballot is R+0.5, in other words, basically a tie. In 2010, Nate's analysis suggested that Dems turned votes into House seats slightly more efficiently than Republicans, because there are many highly populous deep-Red districts, and this suggested that a tied popular ballot or even a slight popular vote win for Republicans would result in Democratic control of the House. I don't know how redistricting and incumbency alter that math, and unfortunately Nate does not appear to be running a House forecast this cycle, but I'd take a 2:1 bet on it happening.

        1. Negropolis

          I'm just going off of all the predictions I've seen, and most of the best case scenarios put us at about a dozen. I think we need to flip twenty something to get back the house.

          Before Romney consolidated his base during the debates, it was looking like there was a real chance that we could flip the House. That's just more distant, now. It could happen; it's just not likely, now.

  23. BoatOfVelociraptors

    Sweet Jesus, an encrypted transacted and signed voting system with receipts isn't hard. It's called an ATM. They had them when I was in kindergarten. The only excuse for this piss poor level of security is mendacity.

  24. Callyson

    Goddammit, I was just getting over my never-ending election anxiety after reading about the Ohio polls.

    BBL to read the Harper's article, after class, when I can drink a beer or ten as I read the details…

  25. CommieDad

    Ok, despite all of my reservations with vote-by-mail, at least I don't have to worry about this!

    1. Dudleydidwrong

      Yeah, except I worry that the shredder in the office of the supervisor of elections has "Diebold" printed on it.

      (I know–if I drank more I wouldn't be this paranoid…)

      1. CommieDad

        It's true. As far as I can tell, if an election is close, and there is a (reliable) paper trail, then the true results WILL come out.

        We have a history of close gubernatorial races in my state, and in the end, the ballots are all counted by two trained (partisan) monkeys and a giraffe with a 1970s era HP reverse polish notation financial calculator. In the end, the DRat always wins by at least 10 votes.

        So what I am saying is, that the key is that if it is close, that the Prez / Senator / Or representative should demand a recount, by hand. Take it to the supreme court… errr… ummm…. take it to the supreme court of Canada if necessary.

        Okay. My rant is getting long. Too much candy.

      2. sullivanst

        Yeah, about that…

        there's a pretty decent chain of custody of the ballots, there's the voter sign-in tallies and then the ballot papers are counted into labelled bags. If more of them went missing than the difference in candidates' totals, I'm pretty sure most election challenge courts would order a revote.

  26. chascates

    On the plus side it's possible some country like Canada, France, or New Zealand might recognize this as the political crime it is and offer some people (ME!) refugee status to live in their country.

    1. doloras

      As long as, unlike all the other American immigrants, you don't start whining about the lack of American style chain-stores, Thanksgiving, etc, and otherwise whine that it's not just like America.

      1. chascates

        No, no! A smaller town with a healthy respect for food and intoxicating beverages will do me just fine.

        1. Calapine

          You know, that would be so amusing.

          And we always could need an influx of educated, cosmopolitan refugees.
          Just like Europe to US before, but in reverse!

      2. Negropolis

        But, but Canada has American-style chain-stores up the wazoo (and getting more!) and they even have a Thanksgiving!

    1. finallyhappy

      I heard the President has sex on a regular basis with a black woman and has two black children with her

  27. Dudleydidwrong

    When I was in high school (back when cuneiform was still around) a "pony" was an interlinear translation of a foreign language book or writing, such as "Caesar's Gallic Wars".

    When I was in college for ten years a "pony" was a small keg of a substance used to wash out the taste of such things as "Caesar's Gallic Wars."

    Now that I'm an old man the blonde brown pony, second from the left, isn't too bad looking.

    Man, what's with ponies! I'm tired of having to worry about some asshole Republican stealing the election in this "greatest democracy in the whole fucking universe. Fuck Mitt, fuck, Karl, fuck Diebold, fuck the whole fucking mess.

    1. Jukesgrrl

      When I grew up in Western Pennsylvania, a pony was a small-sized green glass bottle of Rolling Rock beer. My Dad had a case of them in the basement beer refrigerator at all times. That stuff they sell now as Rolling Rock is an imposter. It's no longer brewed in Latrobe, PA, with spring water from the Laurel Mountains.

      1. sullivanst

        The first beer I ever drank was a Rolling Rock, of course long before they left Latrobe, but long before I had the faintest clue where Latrobe was (that wasn't until we took my eldest stepson on a college visit to St. Vincent U – I can now from personal experience strongly advise against anyone attempting to drive there from Long Island in an ice storm).

  28. BumbleKid

    Not from me!! I sent the one of Bamz and Romney at the town hall debate to everyone I know.

    Unless that's not allowed, in which case I didn't do that.

  29. decentcitizen

    If this were possible on a large scale, wouldn't Citizens United be a waste of corporate resources? Why try and buy an election when it's more cost effective to steal it?

    1. TootsStansbury

      Very good point, I don't feel so bad about having to use my colander for actual food preparation.

      That and so far Romney's campaign has proven to be pretty inept so far.

    2. Negropolis

      Why wouldn't they want the option to do both in case one scheme was obviously failing? This isn't either/or.

      1. decentcitizen

        I concede that the SuperPac activity might create the noise that allows the election to be stolen without it be perfectly obvious that it was stolen – the misdirect.

  30. copiki

    As someone who works with technology I know we have the technology to build secure electronic voting machines, ones that could be even more secure than paper ballots. I also know, however, that the contractors making them would prefer to re-purpose cash registers and sell them to the government at a huge premium and call it a day.

  31. CommieDad

    Ohio has paper backup. Why don't we require that nation wide? We use it on ATMs FFS.

    We also need people to check the paper backup, and complain if it gets it wrong. In the end I really don't see how this is better than a paper ballot run through a scanner. Does it make it easier to vote? Not for most people. Does it make it easier to count? Not really, especially if you need a recount.

    We are supposed to have these fancy machines that you insert your paper ballot (which you get in the mail) into a machine. You hit the buttons on the touch screen. It then fills in the little ovals for you. You then submit your ballot, or mail it back.

      1. Steverino247

        I once asked a thoughtful Army officer (such beings exist in large numbers, believe it or not) why, if we were liberating Iraq, did the Iraqi government not give our troops decorations for valor as the Vietnamese and Kuwaiti governments had done? His quick reply, that no one would actually wear one, was followed with silence as the answer was above his pay grade.

    1. chascates

      According to the story the fraudulent ballots haven't been opened to determine who was voted for. If it come outs please post it here! Thanks.

      1. gullywompr

        Yeah, but that doesn't add up for me – how did they determine the signatures were fraudulent without opening the envelopes? Do they sign the outside?

        1. Jukesgrrl

          Yes, in Arizona we seal our mail ballot in a yellow envelope, sign and date the outside, then put the yellow envelope into a post-paid and pre-addressed outer envelope that is mailed to the Board of Elections. When I absentee voted in Pennsylvania, it was handled the same way. There's also a place on the yellow envelope for a surrogate to sign if a voter had to have physical help filling out the ballot.

          The votes are counted as they are returned to the Board of Elections. They are counted in an electronic reader, same as ballots that are filled out at a polling place on election day. That enables the county to count the votes slowly and carefully as they come slowly during early voting. (Ballots were mailed on Oct. 11 this year.)

          When we register to vote with the County Recorder (Democrat Ann Rodriguez, the longest serving public official in Pima County), we sign a card that goes on file. We also sign a second verification card when we request mail ballots. Those signatures are matched up and also the yellow envelopes are spot-checked for signature compatibility before they are opened and counted. Apparently the wife's was not checked but the husband's was.

    1. doloras

      Did he say WHICH campaign? If it doesn't say "OBAMA" I bet it's a big bait and switch and he's found some D candidate in Rat's Ass, Missourah, banging a young envelope-stuffer.

        1. Steverino247

          If she was lucky, he was pushing the outside of the envelope, if you catch my meaning and I think you do…

  32. rocktonsam

    mittens people saw Stacy as an opportunity to steal the election. they just weren't collecting outdated.Hormel chili or split pea soup and pretending to care.

    cripes these people

  33. sullivanst

    OT: That Sandy was a bitch. We didn't do too bad – lost power for about 25 hours, but my sister-in-law in Freeport had 2 1/2 feet of water in her living room, so they basically lost all their ground floor furniture, and all their appliances, plus their house is already too stinky to live in even upstairs, and that's before the mold has really kicked into gear. Good thing we have room for them.

    The brother-in-law-in-law said the FEMA phone lines were very responsive despite the massive volume they must be handling, amazing the difference it makes when the President gives a shit about running the country for the good of the people. Another reason to hate Mitt "return it to the states, or even better privatize it" Romney – uh, no Mitt, if you do that, you're basically murdering people, so fuck you even more and harder with an even sharper, rustier chainsaw.

  34. gullywompr

    OT: Guess what the lead story on Greta Van Susteren is tonight?
    (Hint: it ain't Sandy, no mention of it at all yet)
    (Hint 2: it's Benghazi. Obama is incompetent, you see)

    1. chascates

      Looks like Benghazi is the GOP theme until Tuesday. Everyone, from John McCain to Krauthammer to Jonah Goldberg . . . ad nauseum.

      Which, given the rapport between Christie and Obama over Sandy and Mitt's refusal to comment on FEMA's future, might not be what most people are thinking of.

      1. sullivanst

        Good grief. Even if their horrible lies were true, which they're not, so fucking what? News flash: the loss of four American lives is a tragedy, but even without looking I can almost guarantee there were more Americans shot to death in Chicago than Benghazi on September 11th, so why the fuck aren't they demanding action on that, plus if W had paid even half the attention to attacks on similar scales against our consular facilities that they're proclaiming Obama should have given Benghazi, he'd literally not have had a single second of his Presidency to spend on anything else (although, that might have meant those eight years would've been less harmful to this country).

    2. BaldarTFlagass

      If I were inclined to frequent regularly the boards that I had to frequent today due to technical difficulties or whatever the fuck, I would have a Word document open, with text ready to cut and paste and post in response everytime one of those cocksuckers posted something about 4 brave Americans dying in Benghazi because of Obama not caring, and it would say this:
      "August 6, 2001: Presidential Daily Brief: Bin Ladin Determined To Strike in US
      August 6, 2001: President says to briefer, "OK, you've covered your ass."
      September 11, 2001: Profit!!!1!"

      1. sullivanst

        And every time they say "Blargle campaign rally blurgle", paste in the thing about Reagan attending three campaign events after hearing about the Beirut bombing which killed 241 American servicemen.

      1. sullivanst

        To what accuracy? I wouldn't want to bet at even money that I could get a pin within 500 miles on a map without land borders, and even with I wouldn't be confident of getting much closer than that. And I'm one of those people who would be confident of identifying Libya on a map without labels.

    1. sullivanst

      Ohio '04 also gave the case study in how to detect such theft: compare the (historically accurate) exit polling against the final results.

      Of course, the big problem is: no paper, no recount.

      1. iburl

        I think it would also be possible to create an electronic voting system that could be auditable by the public that would be even more secure than a paper system, but that would take some entity somewhere giving a shit about democracy.

  35. comrad_darkness

    I feel like an idiot for having to say this but: all voting should be audit-able, and audited, randomly. You would only have to randomly audit a fraction of precincts to ensure the rest were legit.

    Why is this country run by morons?

    Anyone who insists the machines we have now are fine should be shouted in the face of that they plan to fix the next election. There is no excuse for the current crappy system, unless you plan on fixing an election. Just scream in their face. The time for polite is so fucking over.

  36. chascates

    And another Drudge tease:



      1. Negropolis

        Thanks. I figured as much but I was wondering if anyone else was having this problem. Even when I've been able to get on, it's crawling like crazy. I was wondering if it could have been my browser, which has also been giving me trouble, lately.

  37. MosesInvests

    If the fix is in, someone forgot to tell Gov. KrispyKreme. He put that shiv in Rmoney's back with great finesse-shows me he thinks Obama's going to stay in the White House.

  38. Ground Zero Mostel

    True, Obama doesn't just have to win, he has to beat the point spread, but that David Axelrod has a real Yiddishe Kop. There are some tough Chicago types behind this campaign including the guy who ordered the hit on Osama Bin Laden. Plus, I hear they own the Justice Department and the most powerful lawyer in the country.

  39. sullivanst

    True story:

    The morning after the last debate, a bunch of Steve Israel signs appeared on my route to work, clustered around an expressway entrance.

    Couple of days later, the first verge signs for his opponent appeared.

    By the end of the week, all the Israel signs had been removed.

    Ratfucking bastards.

  40. imissopus

    OT but I was browsing on Twitter and see where the Drudge sex scandal is rumored to involve New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez and some (possibly underage) prostitutes in the Dominican Republic. To which I'm sure Limbaugh is saying "FEMALE prostitutes?"

    1. Negropolis

      If this is a November surprise – an divocred blue state senator covorting with hookers in the Dominican Republica – these fuckers are through, and Menedez could easily survive this.

      That sad, if the story does turn out to be true – namely the underage part -, there is no place for Menedez in Congress.

      1. doloras

        According to the Daily Caller, yup, Menendez.

        Nate Silver has him at 99.3% to win at the moment; if he has to resign, then Chris Christie gets to pick a replacement (if my understanding is correct), and do we think that Fatboy wants to do Mittens any favours? He might nominate a RINO or even a D just to be a jerk.

        1. Negropolis

          Depending on how fast this moves, it's entirely possible that nothing will unravel until after the election. I think Drudge is hoping that this is a pre-election surprise to throw the election into some kind of turmoil, but I can see an equal scenario with this being kept out of light until after the election.

          1. Negropolis

            Well, "keeping it out of the light" as in it really depends on who picks up the story. There are all kinds of salacious allegations against political figures that the mainstream media doesn't dignify with much more than a mention at the start of the story. So far this morning, I see only the Daily Caller has picked it up. We'll see what kind of legs this has and how Menedez responds to it.

            Maybe ABC, CBS, NBC and the cable news channels will jump all over this, today. I'm not entirely convinced, yet. I know during the whole Herman Cain implosion that there was talk that the stories had been floating around in the lower tiers of the media for weeks before too many women came forward for them to ignore it.

            BTW, just read some more on this. Apparently, it was two women and he agreed to pay them something like $500 and then only paid them $100. Never short a hooker.

          2. HistoriCat

            Didn't everyone just see this lesson in action with the Secret Service in Colombia? Good lord – what is wrong with these guys? Stop being such cheap bastards!

  41. Negropolis

    OT: Oh hell. Wonkette is back, but now all my other favorite sites I visit are down. I had no idea that the infrastructure for this system of tubes was based out of NYC.

    1. Incitefully_Joe

      I think it's really that virtually all the cheap server space is physically housed in the Jerz, because what else are you going to do with a landfill/industrial park state that nobody else wants to set foot in?

      Although some sites (Gawkr) apparently WERE keeping their IT storage stuff in Chelsea for god knows what reason it's not like rent there is cheap.

      1. Negropolis

        Man, Jersey is struggling right now. Let's let them have a few days off.

        For whatever reason, I just didn't realize how much server space is houses on the East Coast.

  42. DerrickWildcat

    My boss (an Indian guy), who only has a vague idea of what this Halloween thing is all about, bought two bottles of Chocolate Syrup to give to the little kids that hang around here. They looked real confused by it at first until they figured out that they could instantly turn non-chocolate things into chocolate things with the syrup. So he accidentally gave these kids the coolest Halloween thing ever!

    1. Negropolis

      What congressional district do you live in? Still might not even matter knowing Texas, though. lol

  43. BaldarTFlagass

    OT because I don't want to think about the stolen election topic anymore: Has anyone else, when viewing pics of Bamz and Christie, been put in mind of some oil-and-water cop buddy bromance flick?

  44. HistoriCat

    I don't know why you people insist on using a colander for your protection. It has holes – the signal gets into your brain through those holes!

  45. 2oo9bra

    Well, I just subscribed (print) and got immediate access to the article. Do not venture out to a news stand, this sounds like a trap.

  46. alteredimages

    Man. Way to depress me. I mean i know they'll do this stuff, but i had a tiny hope Obama would lawyer up good and use whatever FEC influence he has to try and catch this stuff, but now i just feel like America is over. Time to take more pills.

  47. ttommyunger

    A shitload of werdz just to say that there may be skulduggery at work come election day. Jeeez!

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