Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.
Thursday, September 29, 2016

NBC News Election Expert Chuck Todd: Voting Machine Concerns Are ‘Conspiracy Garbage’

NBC News Election Expert Chuck Todd: Voting Machine Concerns Are ‘Conspiracy Garbage’
A few questions for the popular pundit that may help better educate both him and the nation’s electorate…

This morning, NBC News’ top election expert, Chuck Todd, tweeted the following…

 

Todd was responding, no doubt, to the many folks who have been justifiably concerned of late, since it was discovered that a bunch of Bain Capital investors, led by Mitt Romney’s son Tagg, via a company called H.I.G. Capital (believed to stand for Hart Intercivic Group) took over control of Hart Intercivic, the nation’s third largest voting machine company, in 2011.

The Austin-based Hart company, according to VerifiedVoting.org’s database, supplies electronic voting machines and paper ballot tabulators that will be used to tally votes in the presidential election this year in all or parts of California, Colorado, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia and Washington.

I offered my point of view about those concerns earlier this month, explaining that it was not just the private ownership of Hart’s machines by Romney backers which voters should be concerned about, but the private ownership of the similar systems in all 50 states that will once again be used to tabulate the results of this year’s presidential election with little — and very often zero — possibility of oversight by the public or even by election officials.

Todd does an extraordinary disservice to the electorate with such tweets, and I’d be happy to go on his daily MSNBC show any time to explain why, as I have told him via Twitter in response to the above.

As Todd has not responded, and to expand upon my response to him, I’d like to ask him these few respectful questions…

—Was it “conspiracy garbage” when paper ballot optical-scan tabulators made by Sequoia Voting Systems in Palm Beach County declared incorrect results of three different races last March, including declaring two losing candidates to be the “winners”?

—Was it “conspiracy garbage” when the Canadian firm Dominion Voting, which now owns Sequoia Voting Systems admitted the failure in Palm Beach was caused by a bug in all versions of its central tabulation software which will be used to tabulate the presidential election (and many others) on November 6th this year in Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin?

—Was it “conspiracy garbage” when, despite using Dominion/Sequoia’s recommended “fix,” the same problem occurred yet again in Palm Beach County’s August primary elections, as their Supervisor of Elections recently explained to me on air?

—Was it “conspiracy garbage” when 16,632 votes were found unaccounted for when those same machines were first used in Palm Beach County back in 2008?

—Was it “conspiracy garbage” when eight (8) top election officials—including the County Clerk, a Circuit Court Judge and the School Superintendent—in Clay County, KY were sentenced last year to 156 years in federal prison for gaming elections, including changing the votes of voters on ES&S electronic touchscreen voting machines?

—Was it “conspiracy garbage” when the president of Diebold Election Systems, Inc. (by then renamed Premier Election Systems, which is now owned by the Canadian firm Dominion Voting) admitted in 2008 that the company’s GEMS central tabulation software, used in some 34 states, does not tabulate votes correctly and routinely drops thousands of them when they are uploaded to the central server?

—Was it “conspiracy garbage” when Diebold/Premier’s spokesman admitted to the CA Secretary of State during a 2009 hearing that the supposedly permanent “audit logs” in all versions of its GEMS central tabulation system fail to record the deletion of ballots, after it was discovered that their electronic tabulator had failed to tabulate hundreds of paper ballots in a Humboldt County election (or to even notify system administrators that it had deleted those ballots)?

—Was it “conspiracy garbage” when the CA Secretary of State decertified federally-certified electronic voting and tabulation systems made by Diebold, Sequoia and Hart Intercivic in 2007 after a state-commissioned team of computer science and security experts from the University of California, Livermore National Laboratories and elsewhere “demonstrated that the physical and technological security mechanisms” for all of the state’s electronic voting systems (also used across the rest of the country) “were inadequate to ensure accuracy and integrity of the elections results and of the systems that provide those results” and that their “independent teams of analysts were able to bypass both physical and software security measures in every system tested“?

—Was it “conspiracy garbage” when the 2007 landmark study commissioned by OH’s then-Democratic Secretary of State, found “Ohio’s electronic voting systems have ‘critical security failures’ which could impact the integrity of elections in the Buckeye State” and when she (unsuccessfully) recommended, along with the then-Republican Speaker of the Senate, who is now the state’s Republican Secretary of State, that all touchscreen systems in the state be decertified due to concerns of, as she told The BRAD BLOG, “viruses that can be inserted into [Ohio’s e-voting and tabulation] system through something as simple as a PDA [Personal Digital Assistant] and a magnet and then the cards are passed from machine to machine almost like Typhoid Mary” so that “If there is malicious software, like a virus put into the system, it can not only affect the machines at the polling places, it can affect the tabulation that occurs at the server and it can also affect future elections if it’s not detected”?

—Was it “conspiracy garbage” when the New York Daily News discovered in 2012 that hundreds of paper ballots at just one precinct in the Bronx went uncounted in 2010 during the September primary (failure rate of 70%) and the November general election (failure rate of 54%) on their brand new ES&S DS200 paper ballot optical scanners, which are also used in OH, AZ, MI and elsewhere?

  • browninghipower

    Chuck Todd and David Gregory….two major Zeros at NBC.

  • Chuck Todd shows how naive and ignorant he is of what’s going on in terms of the Republican dirty tricks to manipulate the voting system so that minorities and Democrat voters are suppressed, disenfranchised and sometimes totally eviscerated from the voting rolls in every state. Republican-controlled state legislatures have passed laws to dilute and deny certain citizens their right to vote and for others who tend to vote Democrat, they have made it much more difficult for them to obtain an identification card. Republicans have been caught cheating red-handed in Florida and Ohio. Anyone with a lick of sense knows that Republican dirty tricks are going on in other states. Republicans own and control a lot of these voting machines. They have the ability to manipulate, add, change or drop votes to accommodate their agenda. Any person with half a brain could see this except people like Chuck Todd who calls it “conspiracy garbage.”

    • puzzled21

      With all of the evidence that would indicate the opposite, it is interesting that he would just dismiss it as garbage without at least a cursory investigation.

      • daves

        For a year now republicans have been saying that a company George Soros owns stock in will be counting ballots for several states and polling districts. Do you have any concern that those ballots will not be counted properly?

        • puzzled21

          There should be checks and balances in place to insure that there is no possibility that misbehavior, impropriety, criminal behavior could be possible. As a retired law enforcement officer, I am firmly convinced that people will try anything that they think they can get away with. One way to insure that is to make certain that those who have those sensitive positions are not connected to either side in this manner. I have a concern whenever there are underlying ties that could cause those in these positions to stumble.

          • I DO NOT TRUST THE REPUBLICANS. THEY HAVE ALREADY BEEN CAUGHT CHEATING AND I WOULD NOT PUT ANYTHING PAST THE REPUBLICANS. I RATHER BE SAFE THAT THE BALLOTS ARE BEING COUNTED CORRECTLY THEN SORRY.

        • anyasnote

          NOt ONE Democrat, Liberal or Independent see that way. NONRE only REDPUBLICANS. Strange???

      • 1bythebrooks2

        I usually have a lot of respect for Chuck Todd, but he dropped the ball on this one. You and the article are right. Prove Brad wrong, Chuck!

    • Lovefacts

      You’re absolutely right and because of that, I no longer watch Chuck Todd. There have been a number of cases where votes have magical changed. And let’s not forget, Tag Romney’s company owns part of the company supplying Ohio with their voting machines.

    • jgmitzen

      There’s never been a shred of evidence that Republicans have attempted to manipulate voting machines. There has been evidence of crappy, buggy, insecure software, which is something else entirely. This is reason to back the idea of open source voting machines, but not to start sounding like the Tea Party. Even if Tagg part-owned something that owned something that owned someone that makes voting machines, you’d still need a huge chain of people involved to tamper with things. Tagg would need to pressure people to pressure people to pressure people to pressure employees in multiple areas – developers, managers, QA assurance, etc., any one of whom could be a Democrat and blow the whistle. It’s like fixing a horse race. If you want the awful long shot to win, you need multiple jockeys on better horses to pull up their horses, you need to probably bring on trainers who will notice/be suspicious when their horse does unexpectedly poorly, and then you have owners of those horses to worry about, and that’s all before hoping to survive a steward’s inquiry that occurs when a favorite does unexpectedly poorly or a longshot has a blowout race. Meanwhile, if caught, a jockey could be banned from the track, and possibly all tracks, all the way up to life, completely destroying their livelihood. In short, it’s very, very difficult for someone to fix a race, and it would be multiple orders of magnitude more difficult to fix an election under the scenario in this article.

      Chuck Todd is right; this is all garbage without any evidence of tampered code. It’s like believing that because person X or Y called in sick from their job at the Towers on 9/11 that they must have been part of a conspiracy to bring them down. You’ve got evidence of glitches, but zero evidence (or even a plausible scenario) to suggest deliberate tampering.

  • This is a very seriouse issue. It was only a short time ago there was serious questions regarding voting suppression and ballot tampering. I would not be surprised to learn the machines have been “modified” to change votes. Is there any any / actions to look into this?????

    • Yes they proved that the voting machines can be tampered with in seconds. It was shown on TV a year ago.

      • Vincent VanLear actions are in process on this issue.

  • adler56

    I think somewhere along the line Todd got his feelings hurt by Democrats or maybe he’s just a closet Republican but he does not seem to be on America’s side.

  • dendelion

    Joseph s
    talin said that the man who casts aballot decides nothing. The man who counts the ballots decides everything.

  • Mimi2kool

    This commentator seems to be very naive. He lost any credibility with me. There should be independent oversight of the voting machines. Otherwise, it would be all too easy to manipulate the results.

  • They the republicans are masters of dirty tricks, and are learning how to lie with a strait face.

  • There should be an injunction against anyone directly connected to a political candidate from owning any shares in companies that sell or service electronic voting machines. The legitimacy of the election process is a need that over-rides any ‘freedom’ to buy and control companies that exist only to provide the means to perform a vital public service like voting. We already know what Republicans these days are predisposed to do…just to win. Lies, cheating and stealing are nothing to them. We know that in the past, way past the 2000 election vote ‘disappearances’…that even Democrats engaged in the ‘disappearing’ of legal paper ballots…back in the days when corrupt political machines controlled voting outcomes…by hook or by crook…by intimidation, bribes, voter ‘buying’…and even the physical theft of ballot boxes. Human nature has to be watched and checked from doing evil…in any age…electronic or not.

  • I’ve never heard of Chuck Todd, but for an “election expert” he’s sadly misinformed. As a computer scientist myself, I strongly endorse the official position of the ACM (the premier professional computer-science society), which includes this background information:

    Virtually all voting systems in use today (punch-cards, lever machines,
    hand counted paper ballots, etc.) are subject to fraud and error, including
    electronic voting systems, which are not without their own risks and
    vulnerabilities. In particular, many electronic voting systems have been
    evaluated by independent, generally-recognized experts and have been
    found to be poorly designed; developed using inferior software engineering
    processes; designed without (or with very limited) external audit capabilities;
    intended for operation without obvious protective measures; and deployed
    without rigorous, scientifically-designed testing.

  • It appears that Ohio is the state in question. Deja Vous 2004 election changed the percentages in favor of George Bush. The petitions are still in process to submit to the Dept. of Justice before the election. The DOJ will investigate and make a decision.

  • Just take a line of programming code place in hundreds of thousands of programming code. Bring in a non bias programmer form another country and he will find that line of programming code. It worked for George W Bush in 2004! In 2008, you can’t steal a landslide!

  • There has always been something about Chuck Todd that rankled me. Now I know what it is. I will no longer watch Todd’s show. My not watching won’t hurt him, but if enough people do this, he will have to deal with it.

  • Chuck Todd may not be naive and ignorant. He has that smug, deceitful appearance that makes him difficult to trust. He’s positioning himself so he can benefit regardless of who wins. Of course, Karl Rove is known to have been implicated in the Ohio robbery in 2004. When his electronic voting machines guru, Mike Connell was subpoenaed to testify about how the exit polls could be so far off, Connell’s lawyer filed a brief with the court that Connell feared for himself and his family. Who did he fear? The brief clearly named CARL ROVE. Soon Connell was DEAD. His plane blew up in midair just before landing at the airport. As usual, “case closed.” You all know Rove backs Romney and he has millions of dollars to influence opinions. I cannot believe another election is upon us and we still do not have a secure paper trail in place to dispute the faulty machines controlled by ruthless partisans who have given victories to candidates that have come very close to ruining our democracy, our economy and our Constitution.

    • Re Karl Rove: Will no one rid us of this treacherous man>

  • There is a movement to only allow physically re-countable ballots.
    There should be a hard copy original for every vote cast. Time and cost should not be an issue.

    • grammyjill

      In my state, NH, the secritary of state passed a law without any input from the people. The new law says you can’t look at the ballots or even ask questions about them. They are boxed up and taken to him to be locked up or burned or whatever he wants. Yea, he’s a republican. Hopefully we’ll be rid of him this year.

  • patuxant

    I held my judgement on Todd for sometime, and now I am glad I did. He is really getting so full of himself and it shows. He is no Tim Russert and he acts like his “opinions” are the last word on anything. There is something very fishy about the Romneys’ involvement in these voting machines and it stinks to high heaven. Please, Mr. Todd, remember your journalistic ideals.

  • Rosepetal

    I dislike chuck todd immensely. He is arrogant and distasteful and appears as if he always has a chip on his shoulder. With all the great journalists out there who are able to give fair and equal reporting msmbc picked this piece of garbage. Because he is a white male having to fight for the right to vote is something that he has never experienced. However there are plenty of white males out there who are able to empathize with voter suppression and work to make sure that does not happen no matter what party they are from. Thank God there are thinking caring people out there who care about having the Constitutional Right to vote.

  • mudwoman

    The lack of transparency in all of these systems should be of concern to everyone, regardless of your leanings. Would you trust your vote if the system required that you whisper it into someone’s ear and trust them to deliver it for you? “Proprietary” and untraceable software is no more secure than that.

  • ralphkr

    A couple things to keep in mind here is that it is “Conspiracy Garbage” if the errors aid Republicans but truth if it aids Democrats and it would not be a problem at all if photo ID is required (before you yell about the last…think about it).