Wichita State University engineering professor and statistician Beth Clarkson has accused three states -- Wisconsin, Ohio, & Kansas -- of voting irregularities that indicate a tampering of electronic voting machines. In her recently published journal article, she reviews the statistical anomalies in the three states -- including laying out her entire mathematical methodology, inviting others to replicate the study.
Clarkson has filed suit trying to gain full access to the ballots for an independent audit of the paper 'hard copies.'When dealing with very large numbers, finding irregularities in patterns can highlight systemic fraud. Similar statistical methodologies are used to detect accounting and tax fraud -- cheating disrupts the patterns formed in such a way that it stands out and demands attention.
In particular, Clarkson claims that the machines were tampered with at least twice during the election, due to the nature of the distribution of the results.
Hacking voting machines has been a worry for many years. In 2011, a team at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory hacked a Diebold voting machine with $26 in parts and the technical know-how of an eighth-grade science education.
The same group found that Sequoia voting machines were vulnerable to "man-in-the-middle" attacks, where a small wireless device could interfere with the vote tallies without any knowledge of the proprietary software or security designs.
The integrity of electronic voting machines is in question, especially when highly qualified mathematicians start claiming that the results don't make any sense.
Clarkson is very careful to point out:
I want to emphasize, as I always try to do, that statistics don’t prove vote fraud. These statistics show that patterns exist in the data that correlate the type of electronic voting system in use with the %R vote changing with the total votes cast. Such patterns are examples of what we might expect to see if some voting systems were being sabotaged, but that doesn’t mean that no other explanations are possible for these patterns. Voting machine manipulation is, in my opinion, the most likely explanation for these patterns. The most common pattern supports Republican candidates, but Democratic candidates are sometimes the beneficiary. The only way to prove vote fraud is through a post-election audit demonstrating significant deviations from the reported totals.
Of course, states have no interest in having their certified results challenged, and have been less than cooperative throughout the entire process.
If voting machines are going to be regularly employed in elections, then there must be better safeguards in place.One safeguard is the immediate verification of the results in random precincts, comparing the electronic totals to the paper backups. This would at least give those who would tamper with the machines a small amount of deterrent, because at least some of the machines would be checked after the vote.
A second safeguard is to create a nationalized standard for the security of electronic voting machines. These regulations would be designed so that every single precinct follows the same security process, ensuring that no individual precincts are "easier marks" than others for tampering.
Another, more stringent safeguard could be oversight committees using the existing statistical methods created by Clarkson and others on every single election result that uses electronic voting machines, and then immediately requiring a manual recount of the paper copies if tampering is indicated.The sanctity of the ballot box is one of the most fundamental anchors in our republic. Lawmakers need to set aside all partisan politics on this issue, because once the sanctity of the ballot box is gone, democracy soon follows.