The Case For Online Voting II - As A Check On Election Results - October 9, 2020
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Looking down the road at the national election now just over a month away, it is clear that we are heading towards an oncoming election crisis of monumental proportions. Complex new concerns are steadily emerging every day, as outlined below, from mail-in voter fraud, voter suppression, voting machine tampering, to unbelievably long lines, Russian interference to the breakdown in communication on national display in the Presidential Debates.
Breakdowns are an ominous indicator for a functioning democracy, headed into the most important election in US history. Especially in view of the global pandemic, with its impact on public health and the economy, current widespread protests, climate catastrophes, supreme court justice controversy and its implications for the coming election. We are in extremely serious trouble if we fail to make the outcome of this election above doubt, dispute, and controversy. We can do this! We cannot afford not to this. The time to take decisive action to prevent this crisis, with its quagmire of complex and devastating repercussions for our nation, and our children’s future, is now.
Fortunately there is a clear and present solution, online voting, that can still be implemented, that will circumvent not only the foreseeably multiple catastrophic disasters to follow, but simply resolve all the logistical problems with voting in the middle of a pandemic. The indispensable capacity of the Internet to provide a wide range of online solutions on the fly, in response to the urgent needs as they have arisen during the pandemic, such as online meetings, conferences, K-12 and college classes, to name a few. There’s not a lot we can’t do on our smart phones these days.
A number of national leaders, news editorials, states, high tech centers are already working to make online voting a reality. At least a few states are already introducing online voting for 2020. This brief overview is far from exhaustive or complete, but calls for, is a cry for swift further coverage and publicity, reporting, development, action, and implementation. In other words, please review, share, come together, take decisive action, and make this happen!
Maine voters will be the first to use online ranked-choice voting in a presidential election in 2020. https://docs.lib.purdue.edu/sppp/vol2/iss1/1/
Delaware deployed an internet voting system in the July 2020 primary. Before the online option was shuttered, 2,700 votes were cast electronically along with conventional votes in the July 2020 primary. Delaware Election Commissioner Anthony Albence said the decision to stop online voting was made, despite having no problems with the system. "We have confidence in the system,” said Albence, “but we want everyone to be fully confident in anything that we do." https://www.npr.org/2020/06/18/879210099/delaware-quietly-fielded-an-online-voting-system-but-now-is-backing-away
Another report online - The Case for Online At Home Voting - provides more insightful discussions of secure and successful of online voting already taking place in the US and the world. https://medium.com/the-national-discussion/the-case-for-online-at-home-voting-140ee0d74cbb
At the very least online voting should be employed as a backup and check on the election results, in preparation for future online voting.
As each day passes, the prospects for even the remote possibility of a free and fair democratic election recede further into the gathering maelstrom of ways the election can and will be sidetracked, diverted, deviated, subverted, and otherwise derailed. Among the burgeoning number of ways the electoral system is subject to derailment, that we are now confronting:
President Trump has repeatedly and unequivocally expressed his lack of confidence in accurately counting mail-in election ballots;
“With Universal Mail-In Voting (not Absentee Voting, which is good), 2020 will be the most INACCURATE & FRAUDULENT Election in history. It will be a great embarrassment to the USA. Delay the Election until people can properly, securely and safely vote???” https://twitter.com/realdonaldtrump - Jul 30, 2020.
The President’s assessment is that if he loses it will be due to a rigged election process. This he is preparing to counteract by having sheriffs and poll watchers at in-person voting locations --- Seen by the Democrats as intimidating to voters attempting to vote in person, per the President’s directive that only in person and absentee votes are valid and should be counted.
Delaying the election until people can properly, securely and safely vote, for a few days or weeks if necessary, is a far better course of action than racing into certain chaos and irretrievable conflict and confusion, with all its far-reaching ramifications.
Vice President Biden has assured the public that mail-in voting is the time-tested safe and secure alternative to in-person voting, especially with Covid-19 health concerns, as well as for those whose time constraints do not allow them to wait in 1to 10 hour-long line, as took place in the primaries and recent elections.
However, many locations do not begin the process of counting all the mail-in ballots until after the polls close. We have been assured that every step is in place for them to be accurately counted, although however it may take days, weeks, or conceivably even longer, given the possibility of unforeseen circumstances. See – How Voting By Mail Could Cost Biden The Election https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2020/09/the-democrats-vote-by-mail-conundrum/616535/
This is not likely to sit right with everyone, especially Trump voters, who have been assured all the legitimate votes will be in and counted and the election results announced on election night. According to a report in The Atlantic, The Election That Could Break America https://www.realclearpolitics.com/2020/09/23/the_election_that_could_break_america_524211.html#!
In an address to the country, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders issued a stark warning about the threat posed by President Trump’s refusal to commit to a peaceful transfer of power after the November election;
“It is absolutely imperative that we have, by far, the largest voter turnout in American history and that people vote as early as possible...With the pandemic and a massive increase in mail-in voting, state legislatures must take immediate action now — NOW — to allow mail-in votes to be counted before Election Day, as they come in.
"In fact, 32 states allow for the counting or processing of absentee ballots — verifying signatures, for example — before Election Day. All states should do the same.
"The faster all ballots are counted, the less window there is for chaos and conspiracy theories…”
Trump’s Former Director of National Intelligence (DNI) Dan Coats is calling for "Congress to create a high-level bipartisan and nonpartisan commission to oversee the election... This commission would not circumvent existing electoral reporting systems or those that tabulate, evaluate or certify the results... The most urgent task American leaders face is to ensure that the election's results are accepted as legitimate..."
Russian Interference - FBI Director Christopher Wray reports that Russia is trying to undermine the November election, primarily to denigrate what the Russians see as an anti-Russian establishment. “The intelligence community’s assessment is that Russia continues to try to influence our election, primarily through what we would call malign foreign influence,” Wray said during testimony before the House Homeland Security Committee... https://thehill.com/policy/cybersecurity/516912-fbi-director-wray-warns-russia-is-interfering-in-election-to-undermine.
Mail-In Ballot Issues - Fox News' Chris Wallace has asked President Trump whether he would accept the election results. To which the President responded,
"We'll have a very peaceful — there won't be a transfer, frankly. There'll be a continuation."
Confusing & unequal patchwork of voting requirements, capabilities, and opportunities across the US e.g., 5 states have universal statewide mail-in voting, while others including Florida and Missouri, require that mail-in ballots must be notarized... The Trump campaign is suing multiple states over mail-in voting practices and rules.
Voting Rights Act Issues
Removal of USPS equipment like mailboxes & sorter machines
BetterKnowABallot.com - https://www.betterknowaballot.com/
Discrepancies for US Military & US Citizens around the world
Closed Polls – Long Lines – Lack of poll judges due to Covid-19
Loss of voters due to Covid-19 concerns, unforeseen illness, positive test results, quarantines on election day
Voters displaced from their homes and communities – Entire towns burned to the ground, flooded, blown away
Trump: Election is Rigged - Sending Sheriffs to Polls
The Federal Election Commission (FEC) serves to enforce federal election finance laws – which it is currently unable to do due to lack of a quorum of commissioners. The Federal Agency that enforces campaign laws cannot even meet. https://www.latimes.com/politics/story/2020-08-05/federal-election-commission-camapign-finance-enforcement
Trump suggests people try to vote twice – As a check on whether their vote was counted the first time - https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/politics/trump-to-supporters-vote-twice/vi-BB18FxZ1?ocid=msedgntp
Over 80,000 mail-in ballots disqualified in NYC primary
The degree to which any one of these issues could discombobulate the election results remains to be seen, but appears increasingly inevitable that many of them are coming into place as the election nears.
President Trump says Democrats are trying to steal the election - by expanding absentee voting during the coronavirus pandemic. He maintains it is impossible for him to lose a fair contest in November. “The only way they can take this election away from us is if this is a rigged election.”
In opposing the coronavirus relief bill that passed the House, dubbed the HEROES Act, Trump claims Democrats want to force states to have universal mail-in balloting regardless of whether they have the infrastructure. "They want to steal an election," Trump said. "That’s all this is all about: They want to steal the election."
The Nevada mail-in voting bill Trump is suing to block - President Trump objects to the way the Silver State plans to conduct the upcoming general election.
What Else Could Go Wrong? This is far from an exhaustive list, with new impediments to a free and fair election coming in every day. One justification cited for filling the vacant seat in the Supreme Court is to rule on the election outcome if it is contested, as happened in the 2000 election between Bush and Gore. Foreseeably a labyrinth of state and federal lawsuits could tie up the election results well past the inauguration date in January 2021.
Election Day chaos is coming. Here is One Nightmarish Vision of the Election Crisis Heading Down the Pike:
"It’s only a few hours into Election Day, and things are already coming undone. In Michigan, Republican groups have instructed dozens of people to stand outside polling places and watch guardingly as voters enter.
"In Georgia, a shortage of poll workers in Atlanta leads to seven-hour lines that stretch for miles, as would-be voters try to follow social-distancing guidelines. To make matters worse, the U.S. Postal Service says it won’t be able to deliver thousands of mail-in ballots to local election offices before the midnight deadline in some states, effectively disenfranchising those voters. ..."
Acts of Congress are unfortunately an unwieldy and unreliable process to rely upon to take the needed swift and decisive action to avert this crisis. As concerned citizens, groups, coalitions, news editorials, can ask them, but with time in such short supply, let us not wait for them to act while the clock is running out.
Fortunately, we do not have to wait for an Act of Congress to make online voting happen. Like any useful APP readily available on our smartphones; "If you build it, they will come." Between all the concerned national leaders, news media, states, tech centers already working to make online voting a reality, and countless more who would step up to provide assistance, the time is now to get organized in one - or more – concurrent work groups under a single coordinator with the widest public outreach to get the wheels in motion.
Central to all are shared concerns, is the fact that our present voting system, tacked together piecemeal, cobbled together haphazardly as the pandemic surges through cities and towns towards rural families, is glaringly inadequate to the task.
At a minimum, even if not designated as the official Presidential election vote tally, a robust online voting system should be established as expeditiously as possible. This can be put into operation for the 2020 Presidential election, providing every American a free and fair means to cast their vote. As a check, a back-up, for testing, troubleshooting, and validation for a future online voting system. We can do this, and if we lack the will to get it done, we will very soon be in over our heads with far more complex problems.
Neither Democrats nor Republicans Trust the Current Voting System
Americans Waiting in Long Lines for 3 - 10 Hours to Vote in Atlanta - June 16, 2020 https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/politics/voting-rights-act-election-chaos-renews-focus-on-gutted-law/ar-BB15SgevOnline
Voting – User Friendly & Secure
In addition to a Voter/User ID and Password, Registered voters will be further identified by their city and state. From there, a one-to one correspondence between Online voters and Registered voters in each state will be verified. Where discrepancies are found they can be resolved.
Voters needing assistance in getting registered, and in becoming proficient in online voting can be guided over the phone, online, or visited in person. These measures can be optimized to ensure that disabled and or homeless people are not deprived of their right able to vote. Smart phones can be provided to those needing them. Libraries, Post Offices, among other locations can also provide assistance to those needing it.
The Need for Online Voting
It is time for a calm, serious discussion with all Americans. The 2020 election is taking place against a backdrop of multiple facets of our nation and the world that are breaking down. These facets are both essential - and interconnected - including our economy, public health, weather, safe food and water supplies.
How Online Voting Can Work – No More Surprises
In the age of the Internet there is no reason why the American people should have to be surprised on election day who is going to be elected. The nation’s financial system is conducted securely online. America can know in real time, as soon as the online system is up and running, who is in the lead for president. We can change our vote strategically, until election day, as many times as we want, in order to balance out our first choice with the candidate - as we can see online - has the votes to win!
No Big Surprises On Election Day
- The President-Elect Will Already Be Known By All
In discussion about online voting one to one voter verification for 330 million voters, as a check, a voter can could enter a unique name for the write-in candidate, and verify for themselves that the name appears online. They may leave that name or change their vote to their preferred candidate. This opens the vote to strategic voting without the risk involved in not knowing how the rest of the country is going to vote. It’s all clearly visible, online! Discrepancies, errors, duplicates, etc, can all be identified ahead of time.
Failure Is not An Option -
Rescheduling, If Need Be, Is Vastly Preferable
It is vital for the US to the time it takes to make certain a free and fair election is ready to go, to deliver a complete and accurate voting count above dispute. If it takes a few more days or weeks to have a national online voting system in place, up and running, checked out, debugged, and with all voters having had a chance to take it for a test drive, cast their vote, and familiarize themselves with how the system works and how it clearly displays all the election results, that would not be the end of the world. For this first year of national online voting it might be feasible to only provide online voting for the President. Far preferable if in addition it include Congressional races. Ideally all the state and local candidates and ballot measures, although that may have to wait for future elections.
Let the American People Decide Their Future
Here is where consensus breaks down, divisiveness and conflict are diametrically polarized, on every front. As a nation, we simply have to come together to resolve how to hold a free and fair election before November 3, 2020. We can do this!
At the end of the day of the election, it’s the votes that made it in on time that count. Voter suppression, pole closings, long lines, open primary voter crossovers, Russian interference, countless tactics are in play here, that we know of, already baked into the system.
Meanwhile, concerns are mounting across the ideological spectrum that could leave Americans questioning the result in November. In Kentucky, the planned reductions in polling places will leave fewer than 200 across a state that usually has nearly 3,700, prompting worries especially about the state’s most populous cities where Kentucky’s nonwhite population is concentrated. “It’s just a perfect storm happening in a political environment that has politicized the very act of making voting either easier or harder.”
One thing Americans universally agree upon, is the right of all Americans to cast their vote in a free and fair democratic election system. We owe this not only to ourselves, but to our children, and all future generations!