You can’t hack a hand-written and hand-counted ballot…

February 3, 2017

With all the concern over computer hackers interfering with free and democratic elections why don’t we just go back to paper ballots we fill out by hand and then count by hand?

I presented that question a few posts back — a rhetorical question I suppose, since I was not really expecting an answer, and I neither received one nor looked very hard for one. Except for the fact it’s more work to count them and it would keep us in suspense longer I can’t think of any cons. And because it would at least prevent vote tampering by computer hackers, it seems mostly pro.

Apparently leaders in Holland feel that way. With all the worry about hacking and the reports of Russian attempts to interfere with the U.S. elections, and I suppose others, they have decided that small nation will go back to paper ballots.

And at 67, I still have memories of filling out a paper ballot in one of my first elections. It’s not at all like chiseling in stone. Yes, for those of you either born with an I-pod in your ear and staring at a smart phone screen, it is possible to do some things without computers and has been done in relatively modern times.

And here’s something that confuses me, it seems to me that on the one hand I read that there is no evidence whatsoever that the Russians actually messed with our voting, even though some people seem to still imply that. What agents for Russia may have done is help in the dissemination of private (supposed to be private anyway) emails of the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign and of the Democratic Party that were embarrassing and may have affected the vote. But no one was saying that the information presented was untrue. Apparently the truth about herself and the truth about itself was thought to be damaging by Mrs. Clinton and the DNC.

But the other side, the winning side, had its share of embarrassing revelations, most notably the one with the candidate saying on video tape that he likes to accost women and grab their private parts. Now in another time that might have been a disqualifier, apparently not now, or maybe people just took it as boys will be boys and it was supposed to be private guy talk — and then all that stuff that JFK did in a time when you could just be off the record in your private life even when you were a politician.

I am not making light of the purported attempts of Russian agents to mess with our elections. That is a concern, but the efforts would have caused much more serious concern had they engaged in injecting fake news on a wide scale (and they may have).

Not much can be done to make voters be more discerning in their news sources and engage in more critical thinking but I think we could nip computer ballot tampering by eliminating the computers.

Computers have been a boon to our society, but they have also been a detriment at times.

Let’s go back to paper ballots — there still is the possibility of tampering and stuffing ballot boxes and voter fraud, but hacking would be impossible.

And it is puzzling and a bit distressing to know that in many cases there is no paper trail whatsoever in our modern voting — all computerized, so vulnerable to hackers.

And this thing about some states making it difficult for people to register to vote in the name of fighting voter fraud. I think in national elections the federal government should have standardized rules for all of this.

The way it works where I live it is super easy to register. I think they are still providing voter registration applications with driver licenses at the DMV. Well I don’t necessarily agree (or disagree) with that. But really, one ought to be able to go into a local government office during normal business hours, present a valid picture ID (driver license or state identity card) and get a voter registration application. Requiring such IDs  would not be discriminatory or burdensome because virtually everyone has either one of those. You have to have ID, as far as I know, to get government assistance. So even the poorest of the poor and the handicapped would have it. For those who can’t make it into the government offices due to handicap or lack of transportation, provisions can be made and there could be voter outreach programs. But to simply suggest that voting is discouraged because someone has to put in some effort to register is ludicrous. If you can’t put in some effort you probably should not be voting anyway.

But, yeah, why not return to paper, hand-counted ballots?

Feel free to answer.

 

 


The wall and charges of voter fraud a distraction for the press and American people…

January 26, 2017

The wall and the claims of widespread voter fraud and the inane argument over crowd sizes seems to be all part of a distraction. What we really need to do is look behind the scenes and see what President Trump and the Republican congress (whose interests may not always be the same) are really up to.

I have to wonder where all the enmity against Mexico by Trump comes from or what it is all about. My only idea is that it is just part of his demagoguery that may have helped him win the election. Apparently in some circles being anti-Mexico gains votes. But he continues out of habit and the realization that his hostility can be a useful tool, for him that is.

Now we all know there is an ongoing drug war in Mexico and violence has been particularly bad along the border, mostly within Mexico. We of course have our own violence here in the U.S., only a fraction of it in any way connected to Mexico.

But Trump has claimed more than once — recorded on video tape — that Mexico is sending criminals and rapists over the border. I would think the more obvious truth is that people come over primarily in search of work and a better and safer life but along with them, along with most any group of people, there are bad actors — “bad dudes”, as Trump might say.

So yes, border security is always a serious matter. But I am fairly sure the wall project is a costly blunder. We already have fencing, and walls in some cases, along with geographical barriers in some spots. And people can get around up and over and under walls and will no doubt.

And what are we supposed to do with those caught trying to scale the wall? Machine gun them down like the old East German border guards? Okay for those of you too young to remember, back when Germany was divided between a soviet-controlled sector, East Germany, and free western democracy, West Germany, East German guards would shoot down anyone trying to escape. There are films of that. Very ugly. Of course in this case we would be building a wall to keep people out — but I think the whole thing is just some made-up issue to stir up bigoted people and get their votes. Trump got enough votes, but now he is using it as a distraction to keep the press busy while he and his cohorts or even the existing Republican majority pushes through its anti-progressive agenda.

I am fairly sure Mexico is not going to directly pay for that wall. And we know now by admission of the new administration that indeed it is the American taxpayer who would be footing the bill up front for this sort of modern version of the Maginot Line (that failed line of fortifications that did not stop Germans from blitzkrieging into France in WWII — they went around it). It would be impossible to build a wall the whole length of the border due to geography, environmental problems, and even the disruption of the use of property by American citizens.

Actually, although Trump’s proposal is commonly referred to by him and others as a “wall”, it has been brought out that an actual wall would be just part of it, the rest being augmenting of existing barriers, basically fencing.


This from the CNN site:

As far as cost goes,Trump has cited a $10 billion estimate that was given to him during the campaign by the National Precast Concrete Association. That comes to about $7.4 million per mile.


The whole project sounds like boondoggle to me.

Even so, I am all for border security. I have been on the southwestern border at various spots many times. I’m not sure our existing Border Patrol manpower is being used efficiently. When several agents pour out of a shack in the middle of the night to check my truck (I am a truck driver) and then go back into that shack I have to wonder: why so many? And if you’ve ever gone through the check station on I-5 near San Onofre, Ca. (between San Diego and LA) you have to wonder what’s up with all the Border Patrol vehicles stationary. And that is not to say that I am not aware that much work is done by the patrol and it can be very dangerous. But we need to be efficient about all this.

It would be far better if we had a president who was more diplomatic with Mexico, maybe even one who spoke Spanish, and worked with that nation on our mutual concerns and for our mutual benefit between nations, especially in the areas of trade and immigration and drug enforcement, but environmental is important too. We have to remember that the drug war is the result of competing criminal gangs vying for control of a huge market in the U.S.  And those guns they use down there come from up here. International trade on the black market.

Finally, I imagine modern technology makes a wall all but obsolete.

While I have to admit it is nice to see a president moving swiftly on problems, all that photo-op of executive order signing and all that tweeting are both the result of Trump’s love affair with himself and his continuing need for adoration and more importantly may be a distraction to cover up — who knows what?

Hopefully someone is covering the real story.

p.s.

Trump’s continuing claim that there was wide-spread voter fraud is puzzling when it seems there is no evidence and he cites none. But for a couple or more decades now the far right (mostly via radio programs that seem to reach an audience who wants to believe) have spread false narratives, mixed in with a small dose of verifiable fact at times, that has sunk into the psyche of a segment of our society and now President Trump has benefited from that and continues along the same vein. Of course voter fraud is a serious matter but then why is there no evidence presented by Trump or others who claim it? I mean if it is there let’s fix it. Oh, one report I saw says that much of the small amount of voter fraud that does occur is with absentee ballots. Yeah, look into that. Oh, and at least two of his cabinet picks, it has been reported, are registered to vote in more than one state. Yeah let’s look into all that.