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Tue Jun 5, 2012, 08:51 PM

A brief but very important word about election rigging.

It seems like you can't go five minutes here today without seeing someone proclaiming that the vote in Wisconsin is rigged in favor of Walker. Speaking as someone with actual real-world experience in election logistics, voter data, and ferreting out fraudulent election numbers, I felt I should clarify some things.

Rigging the vote tally of an election, and doing so in a way that can't be traced or exposed, is about a thousand times harder than most people here think. Between multiple counts, election observers, poll watchers, paper ballots, et al, it's very hard to actually just make up the results of an election if anyone is paying even the slightest attention. And if the situation is uncertain in the least, such as, say, not knowing roughly how many people are going to vote, it gets harder again by another order of magnitude.

Now as always, the most effective way of putting your thumb on the scales of an election is to make sure people don't vote in the first place. It's nearly impossible for the system to "forget" a ballot, but there's no ballot if the person doesn't cast one. Misinformation about when and where to vote, jamming get-out-the-vote operations, fraudulent robocalls, demoralizing base voters, these are the sorts of things that are the real tools to try and illicitly swing an election.

A case straight out of the real world: in 2008, I was busting my butt on a New York State Senate campaign against a very entrenched incumbent, with all of us hoping that the coming Obama surge would have coattails. Come election day, the district was blanketed with some very, very illegal robocalls--no ID on them, no claim of responsibility--encouraging people to get out and vote for Barack Obama... and insert the name of the Republican State Senator here. They were banking on confusing first time or low-information voters who were enthusiastic about Obama, but didn't know the local candidates that well. At least several districts in the area were hit the same way. I doubt it swayed any of our local elections, but in a tight race even a few hundred votes can make a difference.

The metaphor of the thumb on the scale is an accurate one; none of these things can stop a landslide, but under the right circumstances they can shift the balance. That's why the best counter isn't paranoia, it's vigilance.

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Response to TheWraith (Original post)

Tue Jun 5, 2012, 08:52 PM

1. That's not brief. nt

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Response to Honeycombe8 (Reply #1)

Tue Jun 5, 2012, 08:53 PM

2. Yeah, you're right.

But it needed to be said.

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Response to TheWraith (Original post)

Tue Jun 5, 2012, 08:56 PM

3. I seem to remember thousands of votes magically appearing in Waukesha County last year

They appeared on a secret computer system set up in the office of an extremely partisan election official no less, I think that gives people cause for concern. Wisconsin used to have clean elections but Waukesha County has tainted their reputation big time.

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Response to Bjorn Against (Reply #3)

Tue Jun 5, 2012, 08:59 PM

5. You might want to check with DUer PeaceNikki.

She was an election judge all through that race and recount, and pretty much stood up against the prevailing mood here to say that no, the temporary loss of ballots in Waukesha was sloppy but didn't provide evidence of fraud.

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Response to TheWraith (Reply #5)

Tue Jun 5, 2012, 09:06 PM

10. Lots of other people were there as well, many of whom disagree with PeaceNikki

I read her posts during that debacle and I read reports from many other people on the ground as well, there was lots of doubts about the numbers out of Waukesha County.

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Response to Bjorn Against (Reply #10)

Tue Jun 5, 2012, 09:08 PM

13. no other duers were at recount in Waukesha.

Disagree about what?

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Response to PeaceNikki (Reply #13)

Tue Jun 5, 2012, 09:10 PM

17. I am not just talking about DUers, there were lots of people reporting on what was happening

DU is not my only source of information, there were plenty of people investigating what was happening in Waukesha and a number of those people suspected fraud.

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Response to TheWraith (Reply #5)

Tue Jun 5, 2012, 09:06 PM

11. ballots were never ever ever lost.

An entire municipality was omitted from the tally given to media on election night. Very different. The preventative measure is that she is now required to release ward totals rather than just county total. In addition, we are observing and reporting numbers to boiler room as the tapes are run at the polls. State party has totals before Kathy does.

Literally waiting for those now.

I've never been an election judge, an observer at polls for OFA today and county party in past. I observed at recount for Kloppenburg.

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Response to PeaceNikki (Reply #11)

Tue Jun 5, 2012, 09:07 PM

12. My bad memory then. Sorry. nt

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Response to TheWraith (Original post)

Tue Jun 5, 2012, 08:57 PM

4. Just remember - University of Indiana found it was harder to rig a Vegas slot machine than a touch screen voting machine.

That's why the majority are so quick to call bullshit and election rigging.

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Response to Initech (Reply #4)

Tue Jun 5, 2012, 09:00 PM

7. Voting in Wisconsin is almost entirely on paper ballots. nt

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Response to TheWraith (Original post)

Tue Jun 5, 2012, 09:00 PM

6. I am not disagreeing but what about areas with paperless ballots

I keep hearing of how those machines are "easy" to fix by simply loading a bogus program, one which no matter how the voters vote it give the result wanted?

Are these just urban tells or is this really a possibility?

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Response to SoutherDem (Reply #6)

Tue Jun 5, 2012, 09:03 PM

8. Most of Wisconsin has paper ballots of one kind or another.

As far as purely electronic machines, it depends entirely on the machines. We'd have to know the exact make and model in order to know if there's been any security testing. However, I doubt any of them on the market are quite so easy as that these days.

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Response to TheWraith (Reply #8)

Tue Jun 5, 2012, 09:10 PM

16. all paper, as required by law

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Response to TheWraith (Original post)

Tue Jun 5, 2012, 09:05 PM

9. I don't disagree with you but I AM perplexed in how it can be 50 50 with a 119% turn out


But, I will wait and see the results before I try to claim deceit in results.

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Response to Drew Richards (Reply #9)

Tue Jun 5, 2012, 09:08 PM

14. I don't think it's that astonishing...

Afterall, Walker has generally had a healthy 5-7% lead over the last few months. The huge turnout may have turned it into a squeaker, whereas the previous 'likely voter' metric if replicated today would see Walker claim a comfortable victory.

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Response to Drew Richards (Reply #9)

Tue Jun 5, 2012, 09:09 PM

15. First off, as far as "119%" goes...

I believe that only applies to one town or area. Wisconsin has same-day voter registration, so if a lot of people showed up to vote in an area that doesn't normally have high turnout, that's not unreasonable.

As far as 50/50, that's actually not bad for us so far. Walker was up by several points in polling pre-election.

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