Writing a weekly column about issues and lack of integrity in our voting system has its challenges. First, making a compelling argument each week isn’t quite so easy when many harbor suspicions about the legitimacy and accuracy of elections in the first place. Secondly, talking about faulty, malfunctioning voting equipment isn’t exactly anyone’s idea of head turning news. Especially, when the top news of the day is the impeachment of the current sitting President, for seeking a foreign government’s assistance to alter the outcome of upcoming elections.
All represent a form of election rigging, but pointing out problems with voting machines, e-poll books and wireless cards technology won’t generate nearly the same response as an article exposing scandalous activity and bad behavior.
Don’t believe me? Let me present Exhibit A: October 7, 2016, was the day Directors from Homeland Security and National Intelligence announced Russians had hacked into U.S. election systems. As critical and alarming as that message was, an overwhelming majority remembers the day for another news story: the release of the Access Hollywood tape, with Republican candidate Donald Trump bragging about how he sexually assaulted women. A portion of that group also remembers it as the day WikiLeaks released emails from Hillary Clinton’s campaign and the Democratic National Committee.
Recently, I was speaking to a group about the advantages of developing citizen-based audit teams. One participant, who had been engrossed in the discussion from beginning to end, asked how I would explain the importance of this to someone who didn’t know anything about voting or technology. To be honest, I hadn’t given the idea much thought, but it was an interesting problem to try to solve.
Let’s pretend voting is a bank. Once or twice a year all the villagers bring their currency (votes) to the bank, drop it into the bill counter, walk away and wait for the bank tell them how much money was deposited. No one ever counts their money before dropping it into the bill counter, nor do they count the number of bills.
One day the villagers discover that the bill counter has been deducting $10 every time it gets a $10 bill. The bank cannot correct the problem because the money is no longer in the vault and none of the villagers counted their bills. This upsets the villagers, especially those who were in need of the bank’s support.