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News Election Fraud in 2008 or 2012

  1. No possibility of organized fraud; too transparent/secure. No one could affect >10 votes.

    0 vote(s)
  2. An individual/organization could rig 100s of votes in a precinct; unlikely.

    2 vote(s)
  3. Precincts are rigged, and this is typical in an election; > 6 precincts nationwide.

    1 vote(s)
  4. Individuals/organizations could rig > 6 precincts at once, but this is unlikely.

    0 vote(s)
  5. Individuals/organizations could change the result of an election at the state level; unlikely.

    0 vote(s)
  6. A typical election has at least one organized 'rig' that affects > 6 precincts simultaneously.

    0 vote(s)
  7. A typical election has at least one 'rig' that could shift the vote of an entire state.

    2 vote(s)
  8. There are now working national conspiracies that rig elections in multiple states.

    6 vote(s)
  9. This poll does not represent my view, or is too biased/polarized.

    3 vote(s)
  1. Aug 10, 2005 #1
    Consider a 'typical' U.S. presidential election. At what levels, to your understanding, would you expect to see votes being manipulated or fradulently cast? What magnitude of fraud do you think is conceivable given the current organization of the electoral system? In particular, I want to distinguish between what is

    i) conceivable - i.e., what could happen and what you're afraid of; and for many of you suggests the need for greater transperancy in electronic voting systems (i.e.)
    ii) typical - what you think is happening every election day, because no one's done anything about it.

    Minor clarifications (if you point something out, I'll add it to the list):
    1) "Rigged" means "affected in a dishonest manner"; it does not imply success in this context.
    2) "Individuals/Organizations": To simplify the poll, I do not consider what agents are responsible for fraud, whether individuals who hack into the system, dishonest poll workers, a conspiracy of local officials, a vast national conspiracy of right-wing unicorns and chimeras, etc. I also do not consider the means of manipulation, i.e., 'backdoors' in electronic voting machines, etc.
    What this does consider is what you think does or could soon happen: this would include (i.e.) your perception of the vulnerability of the system, and the how corrupt election officials are nationwide (and how easy it is for them to cooperate in fraud).

    This is an offshoot from the earlier thread in which the effect of fraud on the 2004 election was discussed, and which spurred some very insightful discussion. However, I believe this poll warrants it's own thread, because (i) it is sufficiently distinct in scope (more general) than the previous thread; (ii) because the topic is of importance and interest to many PF members/voters, as they have demonstrated; and especially (iii) because I believe the previous poll(s) do not ask questions that reflect the statistical distribution of PF members' opinions in a fair and representative manner.
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 10, 2005
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 10, 2005 #2


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    Staff: Mentor

    Polls are a little constricting, aren't they...?

    I voted for the second option, but that doesn't really accurately reflect my view - it was just the closest. Allow me to explain:

    In my estimation, there are three categories of screwing with the vote: fraud, tampering, and manipulation. These are my categories, so they require me to give my definitions:

    Fraud is direct, criminal fraud, as in actually changing the vote tally itself (simple enough). The most common ways this is done, afaik, are ballot box stuffing and dead people voting. Ballot boxes are getting rare these days, so there is very little of that, but dead people vote on a pretty regular basis: (for example). But even these are pretty isolated - it is likely that spouses of dead people fill out absentee ballots in a lot of these cases, but on occasion, there may be more. However, obviously, if too many dead people vote, it would be pretty obvious. So while I think that direct fraud probably happens in virtually every big election, the effect is very small.

    Tampering is screwing with the election process on election day. This happens all the time, but rarely rises to the level of fraud. There are laws for things like how close to a polling place a political operative can hand out leaflets, but these rules are flouted on a constant basis. (Note: most disenfranchisement is due to errors/problems, not malice - ie, long lines). This was very common in the past, as minorities would be harassed going to the polls, but it is much more isolated and much tamer today. While widespread, incidents are isolated (not coordinated) and have little effect on the outcome of the election.

    Manipulation of the process is what politicians do before and after the elections. These include things like legal wrangling over targeted recounts, challenges of groups of votes, maintinance of the voter rolls, drawing of districts, etc. These go on on a constant basis and have a large impact locally and state-wide (cleverly-drawn districts can tip a state legislature), but their effects tend to even out when you get to the national level. Politics wouldn't be politics without this manipulation, but of course, it would be better if we could get rid of it.
    Last edited: Aug 10, 2005
  4. Aug 10, 2005 #3


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    I'd say fraud of some sort can conceivably occur that would shift maybe about 1% of votes in any given state, less nationwide. What I think actually does occur is less than that, probably a shift of less than a thousand. Meaningful fraud (that is, fraud that can actually change the outcome) probably doesn't occur at anything higher than the county level. I'd imagine city-wide elections experience a lot of trouble.
  5. Aug 10, 2005 #4
    I see your distinctions - I think we're definitely limiting the scope to outright fraud, the point being that we don't know anything about it directly (most of the time), so at best we're making educated guesses here. Gerrymandering is not a felony, and it doesn't directly changes what the votes are - just where they go, so I doubt most people consider it 'election fraud'. Likewise, getting a face full of poorly-xeroxed leaflets on election day doesn't really change peoples' minds (I hope).

    To be precise, maybe we should be considering "polling fraud"?
  6. Aug 10, 2005 #5
    But what could happen, if an election gets really close? If the swing state is New Mexico with 200 votes, a statewide attempt to alter 1% of the vote would be a very successful hijack. It's not common, and probably hasn't happened yet, but it's not exactly inconceivable, is it?

    What about a margin of 20,000 votes, and 3% rigging?
  7. Aug 10, 2005 #6


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    I would vote that individuals/organizations could rig, and therefore it is likely (i.e., if it can be done, it will be done). However, the extent of the rigging remains unknown, because the lack of verification goes both ways--right?
  8. Aug 10, 2005 #7
    found this in your link:
  9. Aug 10, 2005 #8
    Following your logic (if it can be done, it will): then what level of rigging can be done? Could a vast conspiracy remain secret? What about a small conspiracy, or three hackers in a basement somewhere? We're not out to prove anything here, I hope.
  10. Aug 10, 2005 #9
    Every option I would consider contains the word "could." These include two, four, and five. Two and four seem more likely than five. But I'd be hard pressed to choose one at the expense of the other.

    I dismiss any option that displays certainty. These include one, three, and eight. I might choose them if they weren't phrased as certainties.

    I also dismiss options with the word "typical," on the grounds that every election I have lived through has been very different from all others. My earliest memory is the Reagan 1980 landslide. Bush 1 came in on tailcoats. Clinton came in on new politicking techniques ("It's the economy, stupid") and also the Perot factor was atypical in 1992. Bush II campaigning is clearly a new "breed."

    So I discount the idea of a "typical" election.

    I might enter option 9, with my response being:

    There is no typical election, but a wide array of election fraud exists in any election, from slashing tires to electronic tampering to stuffing boxes to every other method imaginable. In any election, we can expect to see this, and we can expect that a hotly contested and tight race will show greater motivation for people on the ground to cheat, as well as to organise (approaching "conspiracy.")

    If you have a suggestion for which option to check, I'll listen. Can I check more than one?
    Last edited: Aug 10, 2005
  11. Aug 10, 2005 #10


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    A 3% margin couldn't be pulled off. The discrepancy between the exit polls (even taking into account margin of error) and the actual results would be too great; it would be obvious that something was fishy. 1% could be pulled off, but as you said, it isn't often that elections are that close and actually hinge on one state where the margin of victory is no narrow. The only example I can think of is Florida 2000. I think the closest in terms of popular vote was Kennedy/Nixon. How did that play out at the state level?

    Edit: I should amend this and note that if the people responsible for the shift also had some means of getting to the polling services and affecting the way they calibrated their raw data, I suppose it is 'conceivable' that a 3% shift could be pulled off, but that would extremely difficult, given that there are multiple polling services. Getting to the chief statistician (or whoever adjusts the raw numbers) of each service would be difficult enough in itself, but since the calibration equations are public knowledge, they'd still have explaining to do.
    Last edited: Aug 10, 2005
  12. Aug 10, 2005 #11
    Three hackers in a basement couldn't do squat... They have to actually be in the polling station to do anything, electronic or not. (at least I HOPE the US isn't dumb enough to hook these things up to the internet!?)
  13. Aug 10, 2005 #12
    I tend to err in favor of beauracrats being dumb, so yes I expect there'll be net-friendly voting machines sooner or later. And don't worry about security, it'll have the latest, most advanced version of IBM Windows, so it'll be very secure.
  14. Aug 10, 2005 #13
    The Wikipedia source provided earlier (don't know which thread now) mentions problems with Internet connections, and this for example:


    I think it would be helpful if members would provide evidence whether there is open source codes, modem/Internet connectivity, etc. rather than just expressing assumptions.
  15. Aug 10, 2005 #14
    Yep, we're that dumb.

    I saw mention recently that Indiana votes are counted on a server in Texas, for example. Not sure if that was in place last fall or not.

    There is additional shady business in this area. Like - all the reults go to a single location electronically. I know that somehow this ties into the stations' reporting on election night. I know that BBV claims that this is a vulnerability.

    I'm not a programmer, but if there is electronic compilation of all the votes, etc - in a central location - it seems conceptually easy (in the sense that a single person with the right know-how and resources, might pull it off) to affect results on a large scale, in a single hack.

    edit: per 2centsworth input I'll try to get a reference on some of this.
    Last edited: Aug 10, 2005
  16. Aug 10, 2005 #15

  17. Aug 10, 2005 #16


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    Where is this 6 precinct number coming from? Aren't there tens of thousands of precincts???

    And why are we predicting voter fraud when probably a good 90% of accusations come from nuts who are just pissed off that their side lost in whatever election is under consideration. Most problems seem to have come from glitches and bad-record keeping. I doubt theres any real national massive conspiracies or anything
    Last edited: Aug 10, 2005
  18. Aug 10, 2005 #17
    Last edited by a moderator: May 2, 2017
  19. Aug 10, 2005 #18


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    Might wanna try to keep it unbiased for once in your like TSM ;)

    http://www.atsnn.com/story/97250.html [Broken]

    giving 8400 extra votes to Kerry...
    Last edited by a moderator: May 2, 2017
  20. Aug 10, 2005 #19
    I beg your pardon?

    I quoted an entire MSNBC article.

    I then Quoted an article from IDG pre-election warning of the flaws in the system with links to the OSU PDF file containing all the potential errors within the system.

    Now you seem to have tripped off to a Florida (Jeb Bush) web site and accuse me of being biased??? That's a tad rich.

    You might want to read a further post on the page you linked to:

    Last edited: Aug 10, 2005
  21. Aug 10, 2005 #20


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    The orlando newspaper is a Jeb Bush website???

    Hell MSNBC is owned by Bill Gates whos a democrat so I guess you gave me biased information too :confused: :confused: :confused:
    Last edited: Aug 10, 2005
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