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When The Black Box Beast
Ate Our Democracy

That's the problem, we don't read BARCODE! 

...and that is an existential threat to all democracies worldwide, a dark corruption, and a sinister plot to rip the fundamental rights and duties of a developed civilization from the hands of the most vulnerable. The vicious beast of American exceptionalism (or exclusionism) has left evidence of its racist claw marks all over our metaphorical “collective consensus;” our county-level voting machines.

It is bad enough that the 231 million voting-aged citizens of the US (the world’s $4 trillion dollar defender of democracy) can’t be bothered to muster more than a 47% voter turnout. If “I Don’t Care!” was a presidential candidate, it would be tweeting at us from the Oval Office toilet instead of Trump.

But the beast’s savagery is being felt locally; as Dr. Carol Anderson of Emory University in South Carolina appearing on The Daily Show with Trevor Noah, calls out; “these new voting machines... are like Jim Crow 3.0!” If you doubt race is a key factor in voter suppression, check out the Emmy Award-nominated documentary “Fraction Magic” demonstrating a back-door utility discovered shifting whole number votes into fractions! As in 2-tenths, or 3-fifths a vote, let that sink in.

It is a bittersweet irony, that as North Carolina celebrates the 60th anniversary of the historic sit-in by the Greensboro-Four, modern-day Machiavellian moves are being made by for-profit voting machine vendors, good-ole-boy committees, and other guardians of the southern-style status-quo. But Dr. T. Anthony Spearman, Reverend, and President of the North Carolina National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NC NAACP) aren’t falling for the sales-pitch by Election Systems and Software (ES&S). A historic fight over hand-marked paper ballots, advocated by Dr. Spearman and the NC NAACP, along with college students, computer scientists, and election security experts have erupted in Guilford County, the home of the historic Woolworth that sparked the civil-rights sit-ins.

During multiple vendor demonstrations to election officials, the press and public, ES&S representatives have been deceptively pushing their ExpressVote system. Of the three vendors (ES&S, Clear Ballot, and Hart InterCivic), the ES&S's ExpressVote is uniquely qualified as a Ballot Marking Device, in that a touch-screen collects the voter’s choices, and spits out on a thin receipt which the sales-reps misleadingly refer to as a “ballot.” A real ballot must list the options of candidates and measures presented to the voter as well as their choice, the ExpressVote’s receipt doesn’t meet that basic criterion. BTW, The ExpressVote also encodes the voter’s choices into a BARCODE.

A separate machine (DS200) digitally scans this receipt and supposedly tabulates the voter’s will. Though the selections are printed in English on the receipt, there’s no telling what the barcode says. And once the scan is completed by the DS200, there is no confirmation provided as the so-called “ballot” is counted and then deposited into a locked box, no way to know if the barcode correctly conveyed the voter’s will from the ExpressVote machine to the DS200, All you get is a “thank you for voting screen.” Now that’s scary.

All the computer scientists, all the election security advocates, and all the people who came to the Board of Election meetings and were allowed to voice their opinion agree; hand-marked paper ballots are the only way to go to ensure election integrity. Guilford County is going to take up the issue again in the early days of October. With 3 Democrats and 2 Republicans, the battle against the black box beast may get ugly. As John R. Brakey of AuditUSA says “It is crucial that the loser of the coming election knows that he lost, as much as it is important for the winner to know that they’ve won.” Hand-marked paper ballots would provide the evidence we need in the likely event of a recount.

What's "Fraction Magic" & "Volkswagon" Have To Do With Democracy

What's "Fraction Magic" & "Volkswagon" Have To Do With Democracy

Guilford County: Transparent Elections NC, a group advocating for transparent, verifiable, and audible elections, is warning that one of the voting systems being considered by some North Carolina counties may jeopardize the validity of the 2020 elections. Beginning on December 1, 2019 counties will no longer be permitted to use touchscreen (DRE) voting systems and 28 County Boards of Elections must make a critical decision as to which voting system they will recommend to County Commissioners for purchase. Transparent Elections NC is urging counties to reject any system that prints a “barcode ballot”, a paper receipt indicating a voter’s selections in the form of an unreadable and unverifiable barcode. Although a human-readable summary is printed on the receipt, the barcode is the only part of the receipt that gets counted! “Cybersecurity experts are recommending that ALL states move to hand-marked paper ballots,” said Lynn Bernstein, Director, and Founder of Transparent Elections NC. “In this modern age when electronics are easily hacked, returning to hand-marked paper ballots is NOT a step backward, but the smartest way forward.” Bernstein, an Aerospace Engineer, is not opposed to technology. She insists, however, that there should NOT be a computer between a voter and her ballot. Citing security and accuracy concerns, the group urges counties to follow the emerging national consensus that elections be conducted with hand-marked paper ballots so they can be properly audited. In support of their position, Transparent Elections NC points to Colorado, which recently joined Maryland and Virginia in requiring hand-marked paper ballots and banning voting equipment that uses bar codes to record and count votes. Nationally renowned statisticians and computer security experts have also spoken out against computer-marked ballots, called ballot-marking devices or BMDs. As stated in a recent report, Ballot Marking Devices (BMDs) Cannot Assure the Will of the Voters[2], “The only known practical technology for a contestable, defensible, strongly software-independent voting system is hand-marked paper ballots…” The vendor selling the barcode voting system (called the ExpressVote) is Election Systems & Software (ES&S), the nation’s largest voting equipment company. ES&S pays six lobbyists in North Carolina to help it keep its monopoly in the state. Unfortunately, those representing the vendor appear to be influencing County Board members with misleading and confusing claims, making it difficult for the decision-makers to get accurate information. As a result, some County Boards do not understand the perils and possibly dire consequences of purchasing a barcoded, non-transparent, non-auditable, non-verifiable, non-recoverable voting system that will also cost an exorbitant amount compared to a hand-marked paper ballot system. John Brakey, director of AUDIT USA, a national organization supporting the North Carolina Coalition, reminds people that democracy is about the peaceful transition of power. “It’s as important for the losers to know they’ve lost as it is for the winners to know they’ve won,” Brakey said. “This is only possible with a transparent, verifiable, trackable, auditable voting system – meaning hand-marked paper ballots.” Barcode ballot systems make it difficult if not impossible to verify results and is a form of voter suppression. This fight is about making sure that voters have their votes accurately and publicly counted so that the election results are worthy of the public's fullest confidence. Another form of voter suppression is the long lines that are inevitable with ballot-marking devices because voters must wait for a machine to be available. Dr. T. Anthony Spearman, President of the North Carolina NAACP, also serves on the Guilford County Board of Elections. After extensive research and study, Dr. Spearman is advocating for hand-marked ballots and plans to vote against the barcoded voting system. He sees past the vendor’s propaganda. “We the people are smarter than that if we are properly informed,” Spearman said. Attached is a letter: ( ) Guilford County and Excel interactive Estimator spreadsheet with costs. Contact: Lynn Berry Bernstein John Brakey, Director
Clipped ExpressVote video
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