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“The Most Racist Politician in America” Embroiled in Latest Voting Machine SNAFU

via NPR

via NPR

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Campaign speeches, millions of ad dollars, and tens of thousands of volunteers are fundamental to winning elections. 

So is illegally suppressing voters that oppose your party.  Or hacking the electronic voting machines that people vote on.

In Kansas, the top election official in the state has asked a Sedgwick County judge to block the release of voting machine tapes sought by a Wichita mathematician who is studying anomalies in the November 2014 election.  Wichita State University’s Beth Clarkson would like to study the hard copies of the ballots to see why there are an unexplained number of Republican votes coming out of large precincts.  But Secretary of State Kris Kobach argues that the records are not subject to the Kansas open records act.  

In blocking Clarkson’s request, Kobach could be covering up an all-out rigging of the election. At best, he is obscuring the probability that the state’s voting machines are woefully inaccurate and out of date.  No matter the endgame, the issue seems like a fight worth taking up for those who wish to see fair and honest elections in Kansas.  KSN explains Clarkson’s theory:

Clarkson, a certified quality engineer with a Ph.D. in statistics, has analyzed election returns in Kansas and elsewhere over several elections that indicate “a statistically significant” pattern where the percentage of Republican votes increase the larger the size of the precinct. The pattern could be voter fraud or a demographic trend that has not been picked up by extensive polling.

This is not the first time Kobach’s name has been associated with election shenanigans.  He was responsible for keeping Democratic Senator Chad Taylor’s name on the ballot after he dropped out of the race to support independent Greg Orman, an attempt to split Orman’s vote and help the Republican candidate.  Kobach’s decision was eventually overruled by the state Supreme Court.  

Kobach has been labeled a “pioneer in voter suppression.”  Earlier this year, the Associated Press lifted the veil on the false claims of voter fraud Kobach used to push a two-tier voting system in the state:

During last year’s election, the Kansas Secretary of State chastised U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom, complaining to the media that Kobach’s office had referred examples of voter fraud to the Kansas-based federal prosecutor, but Grissom has refused to prosecute. Worse, Kobach said the U.S. Attorney didn’t “know what he’s talking about” when Grissom said voter fraud doesn’t exist in Kansas.

The AP reports today that when Kobach made these claims, he appears to have been brazenly lying

[I]n a Nov. 6 letter sent from Grissom to Kobach and obtained by The Associated Press through an open records request, the prosecutor responded that his office received no such referrals from Kobach, and chided the secretary of state for his statements.

“Going forward, if your office determines there has been an act of voter fraud please forward the matter to me for investigation and prosecution,” Grissom wrote. “Until then, so we can avoid misstatements of facts for the future, for the record, we have received no voter fraud cases from your office in over four and a half years. And, I can assure you, I do know what I’m talking about.”
Wait, it gets worse.

Kobach now concedes that when he said he’d referred voter-fraud cases to the U.S. Attorney’s office, he had not, in reality, referred voter-fraud cases to the U.S. Attorney’s office.

More recently his office attempted to purge the names of 34,000 voters who failed to produce birth certificates or passports.  No surprise there, considering Kobach was called “the most racist politician in America” by Kansas Senate Minority Leader Anthony Hensley. A hearing on the matter is scheduled for September 2nd.

An op-ed in The Daily Dot suggests Kansas is not the only state with voting machines susceptible to hacks:

According to a security review published by the Virginia Information Technologies Agency earlier this week, the electronic voting machines sold to that state (as well as Pennsylvania and Mississippi) by Advanced Voting Solutions “operate with a high level of risk.” Its administrator account, WiFi network, and voting results database were protected by easily guessable passwords; the AVS WIN Vote machines operated using Windows software that hadn’t received a security patch since 2004; and the WiFi network was encrypted with an algorithm so weak that most hackers can break it within minutes.

Make no mistake about it: Although news reports are required to mention that we don’t have proof election results were actually compromised in states with AVS WIN Vote machines, it would be naive to assume otherwise.


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