So while the GOP, its subsidiary "think tanks" and squawk radio go ballistic over vague reports that there might possibly just have been something, well, you know, maybe possibly odd about what an anonymous Republican found in a dumpster, prompting defeated state Sen. Van Wanggaard (R-Racine) to demand a recount, what's really going on with the vote in Wisconsin?
There simply isn't any voter fraud to speak of; we know that, law enforcement knows that, and the GOP knows that. Apparent stunts mounted by outfits like Media Trackers, the MacIver Institute and the Republican Party itself cast more heat and smoke than light. Arguably what's happening to Sen.-Elect John Lehman is just another variation on the Operation Deny Gore the Presidency gambit.
Worse, though, it's also a variation on the old, "Look over there, isn't that Elvis?" gambit. The Republicans would love for voters and opinion leaders especially in the mainstream media to ignore growing concerns not about voter fraud, but election machine integrity.
Most Wisconsin voters cast their ballots on paper, which is read into optical scanner machines. A growing number, however, are now using much more modern touch-screen voting machines, essentially dedicated computers. The very scary and worrisome concern for progressives ought to be just how easily these kinds of machines can go wrong -- either because machines simply break down or, more ominously, because they can readily be hacked.
Worse, Wisconsin simply doesn't as a matter of course check the reliability and integrity of local voting machines, nor are paper ballots often reviewed to cross-check the machines. Most of the time a local election official "verifies" the tally on a machine by hitting a button on the machine that makes it do its tally again. But asking a machine to verify that its math is right seems awfully inadequate.
There is much to say and discuss regarding this issue. Is Wisconsin's vote integrity intact? NO ONE CAN SAY, because, arguably, no one has set up a system that sufficiently verifies the work of the machines, from one election to the next and immediately after each contest.
The Government Accountability Board notwithstanding, there seemingly are too many loose ends. How, for example, can a small, private firm in Minnesota be the primary agent responsible for overseeing voting machines in many rural Wisconsin communities? Why was it so hard for a Wisconsin citizen looking into voting machines to get information from this firm that should be public information? WHO ARE THESE GUYS, AND WHO PUT THEM IN CHARGE?
I point readers and concerned citizens to two fine web articles on this subject, which have been published since the Tuesday, June 5 recall election. Both raises questions about election machine integrity, and also consider the oddity of quite reliable exit polls, which showed close contests before suddenly going way, way off the rails as Scott Walker, Rebecca Kleefisch and three of four Republican senators walked away with wins. See the URLs below, and share them around. There's lots more out there, including some solid reporting by Black Box Voting.
If it were up to me, the various groups in this state concerned about fair elections, beginning with the League of Women Voters (which has done so much fine work on the Voter ID issue) should begin spending a lot of time reviewing this issue and getting involved. You can help them to the same conclusion by reading these posts and, if you are moved like me, contacting lawmakers and news media and others you trust, telling them this issue needs a very hard look, sooner rather than later.
First take a look at the national Brad Blog, which has a history of solid reporting on election issues including voting machine integrity. Their piece following up the Wisconsin recall election is here:
Finally, go to the excellent Cognitive Dissonance blog produced right here in Wisconsin. The following entry is full of unexpected revelations and insights about voting integrity in Wisconsin, referencing the recall, and even the comments section offers interesting insights:
Read these blogs and then regard the Wanggaard petition for a recount and ask yourself which of the two issues is the one that might best describe the election issues of most serious import in the State of Wisconsin. Voter ID is a joke, but hacked or misfunctioning election machines may be a real threat.