Thursday, November 04, 2004

Delivering the State

Let us suppose – just hypothetically – that one is a political fundraiser who has pledged, in the next election, to deliver a certain state for a particular candidate. How would one go about this?

First and foremost, it is vital that there be absolutely no evidence of irregularity. Were such evidence found, it could prove fatal to one’s chosen candidate.

Therefore, a voting method that leaves no paper trail would be ideal. Some sort of electronic device, one which creates invisible ballots that are tallied by secret software within the machine.

Once the desired machine is deployed, delivering votes for one’s candidate is simplicity itself. Decide what margin of victory you want for your candidate. Pick a number comfortably larger than the anticipated number of absentee and provisional ballots, so there will be no uncertainty and no reason for a pesky recount. (We’re assuming that polls show the election very close to begin with, preferably a statistical dead heat.)

Just picking numbers out a hat, let’s say we want a margin of victory of . . . oh . . . let's say 150 thousand votes out of 5.4 million cast. Program the voting machines in the following manner. Change every 17th vote cast for your candidate’s opponent, into a vote for your candidate. Make this adjustment AFTER the voter has confirmed his/her vote.

That’s it. Change every 17th vote, and you will deliver the state for your candidate. If someone demands a recount, it’s simple - just press the button, and the same exact numbers will come out. It’s a computer, you see, so the answers MUST be right. There’s no paper trail, no record of votes outside the machine, so how can anyone prove your count wrong?

Only one discrepancy will remain to point the way to what you’ve done: any exit polls will be mysteriously off-target. This is inevitable, because exit polls are based on asking real live voters which way they THINK they voted. The way the machine TOLD them they voted . . . not the way the machine actually reported their vote.

Exit polls are usually among the most accurate of public-opinion polls. So if you see a state, maybe a battleground state which used electronic voting machines, in which the exit polls disagree with the official tallies…then perhaps someone programmed the machines to alter the results.

Or perhaps not. After all, there’s no paper trail, no physical evidence, no way for anyone to prove vote tampering.

Of course, this is just a hypothetical situation . . . .


The Ivory Madonna's story is told in Dance for the Ivory Madonna by Don Sakers.