There's been a lot of talk of "rigged" elections this year, but not only from Donald Trump and his supporters. Democrats, until recently, have also been warning that our electoral system was under threat of manipulation by outsiders. But, today, the President offered a very different message to voters, arguing that "there is no serious person out there who would suggest somehow that you could even rig America's elections."
Huh? Well, that's confusing. So, we try and get a bit closer to the facts on all sides of this issue on today's BradCast. [Audio link to show posted below.]
While Hillary Clinton appears to be opening up a substantive lead in a number of nationwide polls, Trump's rhetoric of a "rigged" election grows more desperate and incendiary each day. Oddly enough, however, his message does not appear to be winning over many converts. In fact, evidence suggests his own supporters are not growing less confident in the election, but his rhetoric may actually be improving confidence among Dems that votes will be counted as cast.
But, is that confidence warranted? Just weeks ago Democrats were warning us about the possibility of voting, tabulation and voter registration systems being hacked by foreign entities like Russia. But now, many Democrats and Republicans alike, including the President in the Rose Garden today, are making the case that our election systems are secure and cannot be hacked. So which is it?
I'm joined today, to try and figure it all out, by Pamela Smith, president of VerifiedVoting.org, a non-partisan organization which closely tracks voting and registration systems --- and their well-documented vulnerabilities to manipulation --- in all 50 states and at the federal level.
As longtime BRAD BLOG readers know well, yes, our voting and registration systems --- in every state --- remain vulnerable to error and tampering by outsiders and, more directly, election insiders. Because we use computer tabulation systems, it's often impossible (as with touch-screens) or unlikely (as with op-scans) to know that results accurately reflect voter intent. That alone remains a threat to confidence in our electoral system, no matter how confident many would like voters to be today.
"The challenge we have when we use electronic systems is that some problems that can be introduced into those systems are difficult or impossible to detect," says Smith. "Evidence-based elections is a really important standard for us to have nationwide. It builds confidence when jurisdictions can demonstrate that votes were counted correctly."
Smith and I discuss all of that, examine some of the most vulnerable areas (Hello, Pennsylvania, Georgia and Nevada!), and talk about what, if anything, can be done to try and assure that votes will be counted as cast in Election 2016 for President, Congress, the U.S. Senate, state and local contests as well as ballot measures and everything else. Much more detail than I can effectively summarize here. So, please give it a listen for yourself.
Near the end, however, with voting already under way in many states and Election Day just three weeks from today, Smith adds this important thought: "The one way we know for sure that your vote won't count is to not show up. And, whether or not you have full confidence in the voting system you're going to use, you still need to make the effort to make your voice heard."
(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)