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U.S. News and Commentary



Monday
Mar182013

Report on Florida absentee vote hack indicates vulnerability in U.S. elections

Media paid little attention to a report from the Miami-Dade Grand Jury who took a look at absentee ballot voting and found the process subject to fraud and lack of accountability.

The August, 2012 primary set off concerns after at least 2,500 requests for absentee ballots came from IP addresses overseas. However, ultimately media reported that at least three of the IP addresses were in the United States, a fact Miami-Dade elections officials were slow to disclose.

At some point, elections officials wised up and the 2,500 identifiable hack requests were rejected.

There’s no doubt that U.S. elections are at risk. Part of the reason has to do with a positive—we are a free people. No one wears a symbol here to designate his or her faith and anyone who wants to can register to vote.

The 2012 elections were a study in conflict. Conservatives wanted IDs presented while liberals wanted any (presumably warm) body to be able to cast a vote.

A Maryland candidate for Congress admitted she had voted in two different states—Florida is very susceptible to dual voting because of part-time residents. The candidate was a Democrat.

The Left even attempted to promote a conspiracy theory, with leading Democrat bloggers claiming Anonymous had kept Republican icon Karl Rove from hacking the vote to defeat President Barack Obama.

Anonymous is a leaderless, secretive group. There’s no way to verify whether that group really took credit for stopping a hack or whether Democrats just fabricated a talking point based on unverified Internet claims.

Rove is a common target for Democrats. Ironically the administration Rove served was more transparent and less likely to use drones than the current administration, and President George W. Bush came nowhere near infringing on the First Amendment as the Obama administration.

If Anonymous members care about transparency and individual rights, the group would be hard pressed to endorse the machine David Axelrod and Valerie Jarrett built for Obama, in my opinion. I’ve always viewed Anonymous as closer to Ron Paul libertarianism than Nancy Pelosi state socialism, but again, I can’t prove it either way.

The bottom line is that voting systems are vulnerable and regardless of your political inclinations, you might agree that reform is needed.

If a hacktivist group has skills to stop a hack, it stands to reason that group could also orchestrate a hack to benefit a preferred candidate. Hackers could, in theory, fix an election.

The Miami-Dade Grand Jury noted the increase in voting by mail:

“[V]oting by mail is becoming the most popular method of voting, not just in Miami-Dade County, but in our state and the nation. In fact, data from the Miami-Dade County Election Department reveal that from the November 2000 General Election to the November 2012 General Election, there has been a significant increase in the number of absentee ballots cast from 45,692 (accounting for 7 percent of all votes cast) to 242,251 (accounting for 27 percent of all votes cast)."

The report also suggested more early vote locations and expanding early vote because of long lines in some counties. Despite having more than a week to vote early, and the option of voting by mail, many people obviously chose to vote on the final day.

One of the most remarkable stories about voting protocol came from Project Veritas. An undercover reporter actually managed to register to vote as by using the same name as the U.S. Attorney General.

The Miami-Dade Grand Jury report is posted online. It’s a sobering document for anyone who cares about the integrity of U.S. elections.

Media noted the Florida hack attempt was the first such attack on record. It’s more likely this is the first we’ve been able to document.

(Commentary by Kay B. Day/March 18, 2013)

The US Report archives contain 77 stories about vote fraud. Vote fraud is often prosecuted at the local or state levels rather than the federal level, something federal agencies don’t note when they claim it rarely occurs.

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