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Our Election System Has Fallen And Can’t Get Up

I was thinking to title this article “Why There Will Be No Red Wave in November”.  but decided against it.  While I think there is a high probability that the Red Wave will not materialize, I felt that I needed to spend some time building a case first.

For 250 years, nearly as long as we have been having elections in this country, a fundamental assumption of trust has existed.  While there have been occasional instances of malfeasance and fraud in the election processes, by and large, most elections have been honest and fair.  This is because all parties involved believed in the democratic process and while they might disagree on approach, all essentially wanted the best for the country and were willing to abide by the outcome of an election.

It has only been very recently that one group has felt that they alone had the proper course for the country and that the outcome of elections was too important to be left to chance and to the whim of the electorate.  They believed it was so important that they win that they were willing to organize a massive and comprehensive effort to ensure the “proper” outcome.  Afterwards, they even boasted of their work and how they subverted the election process to make sure their candidates won.

Their efforts were abetted by a widespread disease that was represented as exceedingly dangerous and that required unusual and unprecedented measures to combat – measures that just happened to justify numerous changes to our election systems that only coincidentally happened to support and even facilitate tampering with the election results so as to obtain their desired results.

Just enough time to deliver the baby

So here we are, just about nine months away from a major national election.  A lot of people have pinned their hopes on a particular outcome, and many even believe that there will be a conservative landslide – the Red Wave – that will result in a Republican takeover of the House and Senate so we can stop the Socialist takeover and general destruction of our country that is taking place under the current administration.  Is that a realistic belief?  I don’t think so, but let me explain.

With only trivial exceptions, the same mechanisms that facilitated a Leftist takeover in 2020 are present now and will be employed in November.  At least four major vulnerabilities remain unaddressed across the country.  These include the near-universal use of no-excuse mail-in voting, the use of hackable election hardware and software, poorly maintained voter rolls, and widespread lack of adequate identification for both mail-in and in-person voting.

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To those factors can be added unconstitutional changes to voting laws and procedures in many states, coupled with a strong resistance to meaningful post-election auditing, resistance to correcting errors, and a general reluctance to acknowledge problems in general.  All this leads to the attitude that we should just leave things as they are and hope for a different outcome in November.

Ballots, ballots everywhere, and all the boards did shrink

(with apologies to Samuel Taylor Coleridge)

All 50 states allow some form of mail-in voting.  Eight states provide for all-mail elections, where ballots are sent to all registered voters without specific request  With one recent exception, twenty-six states allow no-excuse absentee voting.  Pennsylvania had allowed no-excuse voting, but that was recently declared unconstitutional according to the state constitution.  The remaining states require a valid excuse to use an absentee ballot.

A great deal has been written and spoken about the hazards of mail-in voting, so I won’t go into detail.  I will mention some specific vulnerabilities that appear to have been exploited in the 2020 election, and will likely be used in the upcoming midterms.  The list is not exhaustive.

  • ballot harvesting – collection of ballots by a third party for delivery to a receiving authority. There is little assurance that the third party will honestly deliver all ballots collected.  This situation lends itself to several fraud methods including misdirection, ballot replacement, and counterfeiting.
  • ballot theft – in many cases, ballots can be stolen before they reach the actual legal voter. This has been observed in apartment buildings and other locations where mail distribution is insecure.  The stolen ballots can be manipulated in a variety of ways to produce illegal votes.
  • counterfeit ballots – despite protective measures such as special paper size, watermarking, fluorescent marks, serialization, and other provisions, it is a fairly easy thing to prepare counterfeit ballots in large quantities – ballots that are virtually indistinguishable from real ones..
  • preemptive voting – submitting fraudulent mail-in ballots early can invalidate the vote of the legitimate voter who votes later in person or even by mail.
  • voter intimidation/manipulation – nursing home voters are particularly susceptible
  • inadequate voter/signature identification – there is currently little effective provision to ensure only legal voters vote and legal ballots are counted.
  • ballot misdirection – using information from voter rolls and other sources to intercept ballots from a particular party and either trash them or send them to “reprocessing”
  • ballot comingling – once ballots are separated from their return envelopes there is little way to tell good from bad. Using ballot images rather than the actual ballot just compounds the problem.
  • chain of custody breakdown – without good chain of custody records, ballots can be inserted or removed from batches with no record.
  • ghost ballots – ballots can be created for dead voters, voters who moved, people who chose not to vote and included in the counts of legal votes
  • ballot replacement – harvested and stolen ballots can be opened and legitimate ballots replaced with fraudulent ones, preserving the appearance of a legitimate vote from a legal voter.

Only 27 states perform some form of signature verification on returned ballots.  Nine states, including the District of Columbia, do not verify signatures.  Other states may require signatures of two parties or a notarized signature.

We don’t need no stinkin’ signatures

Signature verification is time-consuming.  While there is equipment available to perform automated signature recognition and verification, many jurisdictions still rely on hand checks.  The process is slow, requiring entry of a name into a database form, the system returning an image after a delay, and then an individual making a comparison and decision.  Assuming that a verification only takes ten seconds per signature ( a very minimum time estimate) one person can only verify 360 signatures per hour or less than 3000 signatures per day.

One million mail-in ballots needing signature verification would require over 300 person-days to complete.  If the verification must be done within three days (typical) of election day, then over 1000 full-time signature verification people with their supporting hardware and software would be needed per million ballots.  Over 150 million ballots were cast in 2020 with nearly half of them being mail-in.  To verify 70 million signatures by hand would require a small army of people dedicated to signature verification.  Larger venues used automated systems, but these systems can have significant error rates and a large number of ballots would still require hand processing.  As a consequence, many jurisdictions simply dispensed with verification entirely or accepted virtually any mark as a valid signature.  Thus one of the major barriers to fraudulent ballots was defeated, and will likely be again in 2022.

California dreamin’

In addition to the 2020 election, California held a recall election to remove its authoritarian governor Newsom last year.  In both elections, an internet-based ballot creation system, RAVBM (Remote Accessible Vote By Mail), was employed.  With this system, ballots can be created online, downloaded, printed at home, and mailed in a plain envelope.  Although it is claimed that only a single ballot can be created, there is actually no limit to the number of ballots that can be generated.  Further, there is very little security to the system to ensure that the person creating the ballot is the actual voter.  An innocent voter could actually be accused of voter fraud if multiple ballots were created online and submitted in their name.

All that is needed to create a ballot is a name and date of birth that corresponds to the voter registration records.  Ballots can be created anywhere in any quantity.  A QR code is produced that supposedly uniquely identifies the created ballot.  The code can be easily spoofed or defaced so that it cannot be machine-read, requiring the selection information to be manually entered when the ballot is received for counting.  This system was created with the assistance of Dominion Systems and verified by them as secure.

I was unable to obtain information on how extensively this system was used in either election.  The fact that it is highly vulnerable to misuse by malicious actors to create huge numbers of fraudulent votes, and that such votes could easily be counted as legitimate gives me little confidence that the results of either election in California were valid. Other states may have similar systems and problems.

These are but two of the problems with mail-in voting.  New evidence is being uncovered daily of the extent of problems associated with it.  Some states have reported more ballots returned than were sent out.  Others have reported instances of “mail” ballots delivered to counting centers without an envelope.  There are videos of midnight delivery of backpacks full of ballots delivered into dropboxes – over 100,000 in Georgia alone.  In the next two to three months, Dinesh D’Sousa plans to release a new documentary “2000 Mules” presenting evidence of ballot harvesting and ballot dumps in multiple states.  There are good reasons why other countries that had tried mail-in voting abandoned the practice because of its potential to support fraud.  We don’t seem to have learned the lesson yet.

Of course, it’s secure – I developed it didn’t I?

There has been a lot of controversy over the use of electronic voting systems and election server systems.  Again, I won’t duplicate the good work already done to expose the weaknesses in these systems as they presently exist.  While it is possible to create secure and reliable systems for election purposes, it is clear that current systems fall far short of that goal, and are vulnerable and compromised on many fronts.

As just one problem, investigations in several states have shown the presence of radio modems in many of the election systems ranging from basic voter tablets up to server-connected hardware.  These modems are what computers use to connect to wireless networks.  Nearly every laptop today has one.  It has been claimed that election systems are “air-gapped” and never connected to the internet.  A radio modem bridges the “air gap” to enable internet connection.  Once such connection is made, in many cases the entire election system is exposed and vulnerable, just like getting a virus program into a network.  We saw recently the damage such a virus could cause in a major pipeline system. It takes little imagination to think what could be done from within an election system.

Recently, an extensive report prepared by Alex Halderman, a computer science professor at the University of Michigan, detailed a wide range of vulnerabilities of the Dominion Voting Systems used in Georgia’s elections.  The report is currently being suppressed on the excuse that making it public would show malicious actors how to subvert the election systems.

The problem is that it is likely that malicious actors from the 2020 election are already aware of the vulnerabilities and have taken advantage of them.  Keeping the report secret only serves to prevent the public from being aware of the extent of the vulnerabilities and devising ways to correct the systems or to abandon their use.

Let the good times roll

Voter rolls are an essential component of our election system.  Each state is supposed to maintain its rolls current – free from illegal voters, dead voters, voters who have moved, and other errors.  These rolls are important in checking if ballots are from legal voters and should be counted, or if they should be rejected.  As with signature verification, the process is time-consuming, so many venues only perform perfunctory checks.  Both in-person, as well as mail-in ballots, should be checked against the voter rolls.

One common problem is that the rolls are not up to date, so ballots can be accepted and counted even though they should not be.  Nearly every state has reported problems with their voter rolls, and has demonstrated that a significant number of ballots were accepted and counted that should not have been.  At this point, though, it is impossible to determine which ballots should have been eliminated.  We can only state that in too many cases, enough ballots were accepted to make the outcome of the 2020 election indeterminate, and therefore invalid.

Coupled with the issue of obsolete voter rolls is another issue that appears to have been widely exploited in 2020.  Most states provide copies of their voter rolls for purchase – sometimes for modest amounts of a few hundred dollars, up to several thousands of dollars.  The information typically includes voter name, address, party affiliation, and often voting history.  This information allows a nefarious actor to prepare and submit ballots for voters who have a low probability of voting, but who are still registered.  In some cases, this number can be several tens of percent of the registered voter numbers – more than enough to determine the outcome of most elections.

Since these voters may show up later to vote in person, one indicator of such activities is reports of people who try to vote in person but who are recorded as having voted earlier by mail.  These reports are often dismissed as having minimal effect on the election outcome and are simply “the cost of doing business”.  They should not be ignored since they are the barely visible tip of the iceberg of potentially massive mail-in fraud.  The widespread use of mail-in voting in 2020 turned a relatively minor problem into a major issue.

Who’s on first?

The issue of proper identification for voting has been a major source of contention.  The racist Left holds that persons of color are incapable of obtaining valid identification as they are too poor or lacking in education or intelligence or some other racially motivated excuse.  They assert that requirements for proper voter identification is thus a form of voter suppression.  To an extent, they are correct in that the intent is to suppress illegal votes and ensure the integrity of an election.  In some instances, parties of the Left have indicated that they want everyone to vote regardless of age, citizenship, or other legal status.

In any case, the requirement for voter ID is rendered largely moot by most of the mail-in voting provisions.  Even if some certification is required by someone submitting a ballot by mail, there is no way to check that the person submitting the ballot is actually the person registered.  Anyone willing to commit massive voter fraud is unlikely to be deterred by a need to check a box on a form attesting that they are a legal voter.

The problem is compounded because in many locations, voters are registered through motor vehicle departments.  People who apply for driver’s licenses are offered the opportunity to be registered to vote.  Often only a proof of residence, such as a utility bill is needed to apply.  Once in the system, the individual is assumed to be a person legally entitled to vote, and in too many states they will automatically receive a ballot by mail.

The rest of the story

Many of the vote-by-mail systems, the extension of voting and counting periods, and relaxation of security provisions were authorized by various officials within states and not by the state legislatures as required by our Constitution.  As a consequence, any provision not authorized by legislative action should be struck down and votes that were accepted under such provisions should be removed from the totals.  The problem for the 2020 election is twofold in that it is no longer possible to determine which votes met Constitutional requirements, and votes cast in good faith but that relied on unconstitutional provisions would also be eliminated.

A high court in Pennsylvania recently found that the state’s use of no-excuse mail-in ballots was unconstitutional.  Over 100,000 ballots would be affected if the ruling were to be applied to the 2020 election.  Should Pennsylvania declare the 2020 election invalid and hold it over?  Should only in-person votes be counted and the electoral college votes awarded to Trump as would be that case?  Should Pennsylvania just take the approach that what is done is done, and not bother to try to correct an injustice?  What if that reasoning were applied to other criminal cases?  Should they say that any thief that can hold on to stolen property for a year is entitled to keep it?  Should they acquit murders because the victim was unable to show up to testify against them?

Some people worry about creating a constitutional crisis if the 2020 election is questioned.  I would say that the crisis already exists.

Two doors to choose between

Some are of the opinion that it is better to have someone in office, even if that occupant is not the correct one than to have no one, or worse to have no one and to have uncertainty about the proper occupant.  Really, the situation can be corrected in the next election with little damage done.  After all, rightly or wrongly, the election was certified and done – time to move on.

Others believe that a valid election is part of a sacred compact between the people and their government, and to have an illegitimate administration emplaced through fraud is a gross violation of the agreement that engenders mistrust and breaks the compact.  The longer that the situation persists, the more dissatisfaction and distrust grows until a breaking point is reached.  The damage done is great, and an administration that has installed itself through fraud can wreak incalculable damage that may never be corrected.

The first group assumes that the 2020 election was an aberration that will not be repeated so that future elections can fix any little problems that might have arisen.  The second group realizes that once in power, a group of people sufficiently dedicated and organized to commit massive fraud will be unlikely to relinquish their power, and can manipulate future elections to ensure they never are displaced.  It doesn’t really matter if HR1 was passed or not.

Sometimes you just have to grab the bull by the tail….

Going into the 2022 election cycle we now face the situation that by all accounts, nearly two-thirds of the population believe that the results of the 2020 election are invalid.  Suppose we acknowledge the lack of validity in the results – what then?

At worst case, we don’t know who won, only that the results cannot be determined with any certainty.  That would leave the country with a vacuum at the highest levels, as well as a collection of legislative and executive actions of questionable legality and validity.

An alternative case would be to acknowledge the already demonstrated magnitude of fraud that benefitted the current administration, and do as is done in other fraud situations – try to make the victim whole.  In this case, it would mean declaring the actions of the current administration null and void and awarding the outcome to the Republican candidates.

Either approach has its own set of problems – all of them serious and real threats to the continued existence of the country.

If you always do what you’ve always done….

As of now, very little has been done to correct the conditions that created this terrible situation.  We still have mail-in voting with all its attendant problems.  Many states are still using compromised hardware and software.  Little has been done to correct voter rolls in a majority of states.  The issues of identifying legal voters remain unaddressed.

Meanwhile, the perpetrators of the fraud have been learning from their experiences.  They have learned what has worked and how to make it work better.  They have learned what mistakes they made and how to avoid them in the future.  They have learned how to effectively thwart investigation of election fraud, or at least delay investigation until it is too late to matter.  They count on those in authority to be too slow to act, or unwilling to do the work needed to fix what was broken and even to work to prevent future breakage.

Some take encouragement from the fact that many Democrats are retiring or otherwise leaving.  I don’t.  We don’t know who they will run to replace them.  The alternatives could be far worse.  Better the devil we know?

Some think that all the fraud only happened in a few states and all the good states will be ok.  Sorry, but the evidence is that it happened everywhere.  It was just that it mattered more in some states and was more visible.  Will your state be next?

Except for largely cosmetic actions, we really haven’t fixed anything, yet we are proceeding into the 2022 midterms relying on the same systems and methods that failed us in 2020, and we expect a different outcome.  It won’t matter how many conservative voters turn out to vote if those votes can be subverted or overwhelmed.  As Stalin said, it doesn’t matter whose vote counts, it only matters who counts the votes.

No, under the circumstances, I have no confidence that we will have a valid election this year.  I hope and pray that I am wrong. God help us if I’m not.

By David Robb

David Robb is a regular contributor to The Blue State Conservative and a practicing scientist who has been working in industry for over 50 years. One of his specialties is asking awkward questions. A large part of his work over the years has involved making complex scientific issues clear and understandable to non-specialists. Sometimes he even succeeds.

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 The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Blue State Conservative. The BSC is not responsible for, and does not verify the accuracy of, any information presented.

Featured photo by Joshua Woroniecki on Unsplash