What’s a Hanging Chad, Anyhow?

There’s no question Republicans are doing all they can to suppress voting: the fewer votes cast, the better Republican chances. But that’s another story. We’re here to talk about your vote actually being counted.

Oregon elections are vote-by-mail. My ballot shows up in my mailbox. I complete it, sign it, put a stamp on the envelope and mail it back. In a day or two, I receive a text message or e-mail confirming my ballot has arrived at the election office. Later I receive another message telling me that my vote has been counted. Prior to repatriating back to Oregon, I voted by mail in California for twenty years.

Seventeen states have formally requested the Department of Homeland Security do risk assessments of their voting systems. With primary-election season here, DHS has so far completed nine. Homeland Security is also providing 33 state and 32 local election offices with cyber-scanning services to identify weaknesses in their networks. Collusion or not, there is no question that Russians infiltrated voting systems in the 2016 election; Russia attempted to hack into the election systems in 21 states. Two of those states — Alabama and Oklahoma — have not yet requested a DHS security review.

We’ve come a long way since the punch-card debacle of the 2000 election. Unfortunately, the “new” electronic voting equipment since then is now old and susceptible to malfunctions and breakdowns, not to mention hacking. Some of the manufacturers of voting machines have gone out of business. Direct-recording-electronic voting machines – DREs – make it easy to cast a ballot, but do not provide a paper record of voter choices. Even slot machines in gambling casinos keep better information.

Hacking is not just breaking into voting-system hardware. Precincts transmitting election data via Internet or even modem are also vulnerable.

Not cheered up enough yet? Click here to read more about it.