Donald Trump’s constant cries about a “rigged” election are causing leftists to freak out about the possibility of the public trust being eroded in the country’s electoral system. Leftists must have a short memory, because all the “rigged” election talk is reminiscent of 2004, when there were cries that Diebold’s electronic voting machines rigged the election in favor of George W. Bush.
Here are four things you need to know about Diebold voting machines.
1. The origins of Diebold voting machine came from a push for electronic voting that occurred after the chaos of the 2000 presidential election. The controversy surrounded “hanging chads,” which were the result of “a half-punched piece of chaff rather than a clean cut” from a “readable punch-card ballots,” according to Bloomberg, when it came to the Florida recount in that election. The result was a push for electronic voting to avoid a repeat of that anarchy by using voting machines like Diebold, which allow people to vote via touch screen. However, such a push opened the door for leftist conspiracy theories in the subsequent presidential election.
2. Diebold conspiracy theories began percolating in 2003. CBS News reported at the time:
- First, there are the three companies that make computer voting machines: Diebold, Sequoia and Election Systems and Software (ES&S), all of which are owned by big GOP contributors. Walden O’Dell, Diebold’s CEO, for example, has signed on as a Bush/Cheney Pioneer, promising to raise at least $100,000 for the campaign.
- Second are the charges of dirty tricks: Using computer software purchased under proprietary contracts that make it illegal to examine the equipment, votes for Democrats are lost, changed or disqualified.
- Third are the paybacks: Republicans get into office, perpetuate the fraud and help advance the causes and stuff the pocketbooks of right-wing Americans.
The report goes on to cite leftists warning that “the electoral ‘fix’ is in” as a result of the supposed “GOP control of computer voting machines.” This set the stage for the next stage.
3. Leftists whined that Diebold voting machines stole the election in 2004. Michelle Malkin explained in a 2006 column about how Teresa Heinz, John Kerry’s wife, blamed Bush winning re-election “on rigged Diebold voting machines” based on the belief that “two brothers own 80 percent of the machines used in the United States” and they were “very easy to hack.”
“Asked for evidence of her “mother machine”-hacking theory, the ketchup heiress refused further comment,” Malkin wrote. “But a cacophony of conspiracy theorists and mainstream Democrats have since taken up Kerry’s moonbat baton, from Truther types to Black Box paranoiacs to Hillary Clinton.”
“Never mind the glaring contradiction of their attack on a Bush administration too incompetent to govern, yet so nefariously efficient and devious that it can rig hundreds of thousands of voting machines to deny the Democrats their ‘honest count’ and entitled victory,” Malkin continued.
Kerry himself also believed this conspiracy theory, as New York University Professor Mark Miller told Democracy Now! that Kerry “thinks the election was stolen” but didn’t try to challenge it “because of the sour grapes question.” Miller later wrote a book in 2008 in which he fretted that the Republicans would pull off something similar in 2008, but then Barack Obama winning the presidency quelled those fears.
A number of leftist writers still hold on to this notion that Kerry got cheated out of the presidency. For instance, Karoli Kuns wrote in the leftist Crooks and Liars blog in 2011 that Kerry’s loss “never made sense to me.” He created an absurd story based on evidence that was specious at best about how Ohio was rigged for Bush through electronic voting machines.
4. There are definitely concerns about Diebold voting machines, though. A recent piece in Politico highlighted these concerns:
In 2003, an employee at Diebold mistakenly left 40,000 files containing code for the Diebold AccuVote TS, one of the most widely used machines on the market, on a publically viewable website. The computer scientists moved in, and one of the early and formative papers was published on the subject, co-authored by Wallach and led by Johns Hopkins’ Avi Rubin. Its findings were devastating: The machine’s smartcards could be jerry-rigged to vote more than once; poor cryptography left the voting records file easy to manipulate; and poor safeguards meant that a “malevolent developer”—an employee inside the company, perhaps—could reorder the ballot definition files, changing which candidates received votes. The encryption key, F2654hD4, could be found in the code essentially in plain view; all Diebold machines responded to it. (Rubin later remarked that he would flunk any undergrad who wrote such poor code.) “We read the code, and found really, really bad problems,” Wallach tells me, sitting at his Houston dining table. He catches himself. “Actually, let me change that,” he says. “We found unacceptable problems.” Diebold dismissed the report, responding that the code was obsolete, and the study’s findings thusly moot. But the 2003 report catalyzed a small movement: In CompSci departments across the country, vote hacking became a small, insular civic code of honor. Felten’s group at Princeton led the pack, producing some of the most important papers throughout the 2000s.
Indeed, the Diebold voting machines can be easily hacked and controlled remotely using an 8th grade science-level education. It’s even easy for someone to put a memory card inside of it and tamper with it. Additionally, 43 states reportedly are using electronic voting machines that are ten years old at minimum. Diebold itself was sued by the California state attorney general in 2004 for being “overly aggressive and misleading when they sold their voting machines to the state,” according to Arstechnica.
Put all together, and the aforementioned reasons open the door for individuals and even foreign nations to possibly tamper with election results.
“We trust ATM’s with our money, but companies spend a lot on the technology to make them reliable,” John Fund, who has written books about voter fraud, told Fox News in 2015. “We spend a tenth of the cost of an ATM on our voting machines even though they carry the currency of our democracy. We need to spend more on them to increase public confidence in their results.”
Hans von Spakovsky, manager of Election Law Reform Initiative and senior legal fellow at The Heritage Foundation, told Fox News that one way to reform Diebold and other voting machines like it is to use an “opti scan ballot, which counts votes at the speed of a computer scanner, while keeping original paper ballots” as a way to improve it.
Despite these concerns with Diebold voting machines and other electronic voting machines, there doesn’t seem to be any evidence to back up some leftists’ claims that these machines stole the election from Kerry, which makes it all the more hypocritical for them to criticize Trump for his cries of a “rigged” election.