Ralph Lopez majored in Economics and Political Science at Yale University. He has been published in the Boston Globe and the Baltimore Sun.
One of the most revealing and dramatic moments in the award-winning HBO documentary "Hacking Democracy" occurs when a team of election integrity activists witness a vote hack. The machine is the kind of paper ballot vote tabulator which is common across the country, which accepts paper ballots fed into the machine, which then reads the bubbles filled in with black marker by the voter. One major brand is AccuVote, little known by many to be owned by Diebold, the company notorious for its role in past suspected election fraud cases.
The demonstration machine is turned on prior to "voting" by the people in the room. It spits out a tape confirming that the machine is "zeroed out," meaning it is starting with a count of zero for all candidates as it should. The election activists are told that a memory card has been inserted with instructions to add votes to some candidates and subtract them from others. The instructions are remarkably precise. At the end of the demonstration, the results showing on the machine are almost exactly the opposite of the true vote contained in the paper ballots.
One woman begins to weep, saying she cannot help but think of all the lives lost and bravery shown in the long fight for the right of self-government, which boils down to the right to vote, throughout history. None of it matters. The winner is predetermined.
The demonstration comes to mind as two researchers from Stanford conclude in a report, published this month, that:
"data suggest that election fraud is occurring in the 2016 Democratic Party Presidential Primary election. This fraud has overwhelmingly benefited Secretary Clinton at the expense of Senator Sanders."
The authors state:
"systematic efforts may have taken place to provide Secretary Clinton with an exaggerated margin of support."
The principle indicator cited by the researchers, but not the only one, is the marked difference across the nation in Sanders' performance versus Clinton's in jurisdictions where there is "paper trail" voting, i.e. either paper ballots or a paper record of each vote which can be used to verify machine-counted totals. The Stanford researchers conclude there is no good explanation for this, at least not one that does not involve illegal acts.
In no-paper-trail voting, there is nothing but the word of election officials to assure that an election is fair and honest. It is like taking the word of the fox that everything is okay in the chicken coop.
As provisional ballots continue to be counted in California and are tipping counties to Sanders, Glenn, San Bernardino, and San Luis Obispo so far, this may be only the tip of the iceberg. The provisionals might tip California to Sanders, but not in the numbers he needs to close the gap with Hillary in pledged delegates. If the real fraud lies in the hackable machines, it could be in numbers even more consequential than the provisional votes.
Across the country, indicators of election fraud are calling into question how many actual pledged delegates were earned by Clinton. In Chicago, in the key primary state of Illinois, citizen watchdogs testified before the Chicago Board of Elections that they witnessed blatant vote tampering in favor of Clinton, at an audit in which the hand count of paper ballots did not match the machine tabulated results. And this was with witnesses present. In Baltimore, election results were temporarily decertified, then recertified, after state auditors discovered the number of votes cast to be greater than the number of voter check-ins, one sure sign of a machine hack. A federal lawsuit has been filed in Baltimore.
Citizens testify to witnessing election fraud in Chicago vote audit
2016 may turn out to be the most litigious primary season in history, with lawsuits challenging Hillary's claim to pledged delegates having been filed in California, New York, Arizona, Illinois, and Massachusetts, and official investigations into voter suppression tactics announced in New York,Arizona, and Kentucky.
In Georgia, Alabama, Texas, Mississippi, Ohio, and Connecticut, exit poll results show Sanders doing better than the officially reported results, by wide margins. In typical audacious fashion, once analysis of exit polling generated wide concern over the fairness of the Democratic primaries, the major news networks, unabashedly biased for Clinton, simply canceled any further exit polling, including in the crucial state of California.
The news networks were harshly criticized when they ran an inaccurate report, the night before voting began in California, that Clinton had already clinched the nomination, based on the statement of one anonymous "superdelegate." Election watchers contend that the report discouraged many Sanders voters from turning out.
Fortunately, the whole idea behind paper trail voting, like the AccuVote machine, is that questions of vote accuracy can be resolved by hand-count auditing the paper ballots. It should be done in full public view with citizen representatives able to see the ballot marks and follow the counting.
Election integrity activists in Massachusetts have filed suit for a limited hand count audit of some precincts, by a group of which the author is a member. Other states which would be of great interest for such scrutiny include Texas, Mississippi, Ohio, and Connecticut. (Massachusetts Complaint.) No-paper-trail voting systems, which are completely "acts of faith," should be declared unconstitutional and their results thrown out. Alabama, Georgia, and Louisiana have such a system.
But time is running out. If lawsuits are to be filed, it must be now, given the way court calendars run. If machine cheating occurred, the world should know about it as the Democratic Convention opens, and superdelegates decide who is the legitimate nominee, according to votes earned cleanly in the primary process.
Here at last may be a legitimate role for the superdelegates: not to overrule the popular will, but to uphold it, when their conscience declares that the popular will has been brutalized by a candidate like Hillary Clinton.
Or let the superdelegates answer why the bravery and sacrifices for voting rights, throughout American history, really were for nothing.