How to Steal an Election – Part 2, The Insider
This is Part 2 of a four part series, this time focused on the damage that an insider can do. Any intelligence officer will tell you there is no defense against an inside traitor. But when the traitors are running the whole show, not only are you screwed, but the traitors can fix it so there is no investigation.
The “insider” methods specifically require that a voting official or elected official or both are involved in the conspiracy. You might think it takes a lot of guts to do this, but if you think about it, when they win (by cheating) they can control any investigation that happens afterward.
Insiders have a huge advantage. They can literally plan for months to rig an election, make sure all bases are covered and there is little possibility of being caught.
Also remember that once a person votes, the relationship between the person and the vote is severed. This means that in one pile you have the record that people voted, and in the other pile you have the anonymous votes. For auditing, you may be able to match the number of voters with the number of votes, but if you find a bunch of fraud in the voter’s pile, you have no way of knowing from which candidate to deduct the votes. And as we saw in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, a court will not necessarily throw votes out of an election even in the face of massive fraud.
Out of Date Voter Registration – Public officials control the voter registration data. They can purposefully leave inaccurate information on the rolls (e.g., dead people) or even add people to the rolls who have not actually registered to vote. (I have not seen a case where fictitious voters were added, this may be too easy to catch. But then again, who is checking?). This in itself does not change the vote count it merely allows many of the Outsider methods to work. Effectiveness – high, enables everything else. Risk – zero, this is done in the open.
Adding or Destroying ballots in the counting process – If you control who counts the votes, then you control the election. This is the philosophy in such pseudo-democracies as Russia, Venezuela and China. But it applies in the U.S. as well. In the last presidential election we saw evidence that boxes of unaccounted for ballots were trucked in and counted, and even an episode where all of the workers were cleared out because of a “water pipe break” with allegations that boxes of votes were brought in while everyone else was outside. In a previous election, in Broward County, boxes of ballots were found in an airport locker. Did anyone go to jail for this? No. Effectiveness – High for local and Congress, these methods are designed to ensure a win. Risk – low. To do this one requires a high level conspiracy, planned for months, no audit trail. Professionals would never get caught.
Gaming the Voting Machines/Running Votes Multiple times – One method for cheating that was discovered (and no one knows if or how much it was used), was that by physically manipulating the ballot insertion you could count a vote multiple times. A corrupt vote counter who knows the voting machines well will have all kinds of techniques for this, especially if they were able to have conversations with technicians from the company that build the machine. Remember the votes become anonymous, so even if the totals are off, no one knows who to subtract votes from. Effectiveness – Medium, the volume can be relatively high for local elections. Statewide and National, no. Risk – medium, it takes a bit of tradecraft to not be noticed if you are counting in a room with others.
Making your own ballots with dead people – This is great for large scale cheating. Since voter registrations are public, and they almost always are not purged of dead people or people who have moved out of the area, it is easy enough to get a list of people who are dead but still eligible to vote. In fact, you will be safe if you get the people who have not voted for 10 years or more, they are not likely to vote this election. And if a few of them do happen to vote, the rules say they get to vote anyway. Nothing is auditable. A good data operation can easily get enough to swing an election in a moderately close race. Then you print up your own ballots that are exactly like the ones sent out (no special security on those) you fill them out, sign them and send them in. Effectiveness – High in any election. Risk – low. Without an audit trail almost impossible to trace.
The variations on these methods are endless. Without bi-partisan supervision of the complete chain of custody of the vote and proper security on absentee ballots, these methods are bulletproof for the corrupt insider. In the next installment, Part 3, we will talk about attacks on the vulnerabilities of the voting machines themselves. Which come to find out, are plentiful, and some of them on purpose.