Tags: election votes | results | tampering | ballots | 2020 | 2024 elections

Mentz: USA Election Integrity Weaknesses & Voting Flaws

Mentz: USA Election Integrity Weaknesses & Voting Flaws
Voting machines fill the floor for early voting at State Farm Arena, Oct. 12, 2020, in Atlanta. (Brynn Anderson/AP)

George Mentz By Wednesday, 09 August 2023 12:00 PM EDT Current | Bio | Archive

With so much technology and so many points of attack to add, change or affect voting, the public needs to review and analyze the various weaknesses in voter integrity. Here is a short list of ways that criminals may change election results. Elections are only as safe as their weakest link.

Adding or reducing votes to a precinct, county, or state computer system could be done through various methods, including online submissions, thumb drives, destruction of votes, vote changing, and dumping unverified physical ballots.

As for 2020, most everyone went to bed at midnight knowing that Trump won roughly 32 states on election day with roughly  300+ electoral votes in a virtual landslide. After election day was over at midnight, Trump had won by over 1 million votes in the 5 battleground states.

However, Democrats were able  to flip 5 states by counting ballots days after the election was over in key Democrat-leaning precincts. Biden's combined victory in Arizona, Georgia and Wisconsin was by less than 45,000 votes in these three states.

This isn’t the first time this has happened, as I had personally seen a late night swamp-miracle in New Orleans in 1996 where Mary Landrieu came from behind at 10 p.m. with late night ballot dumps from the 9th ward to win a U.S. Senate seat. In the Senator Landrieu case, she was losing badly and then a huge batch of votes came in at 10:30 p.m. that were almost all for her.

The last-minute votes pushed her over the top by 5,788 votes out of 1.7 million cast. It was truly a miracle comeback that seems statistically impossible to this day.

What is strange is that Republicans had always had the upper hand with respect to late or mail-in ballots from military or overseas voters but not in 2020. The legal question becomes: Is it unconscionable to allow 5 states to flip after election day is over? Is it legally reasonable to allow a key precinct with 30,000 votes to hold out till midnight election day and then turn in all of their votes early morning the next day?

How can we stop domestic or international predators from adding ballots the day after the election or adding votes using technology? Sadly, election integrity has become a factor in economics, sovereign risk, and investing variables.

As for a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) analysis, adding or reducing votes to a precinct, county, or state computer system could be done through various methods, including online submissions, thumb drives, destruction of votes, vote changing, and dumping unverified physical ballots. The methods used may vary depending on the jurisdiction and the technology in place. Here are the different ways votes can be added to the system:

Online and Transferred Vote Submissions:

  1. Online voting: Some jurisdictions allow voters to cast their ballots online through secure websites or dedicated voting platforms. Voters log in using unique credentials, and their votes are recorded electronically in the computer system.
  2. Absentee or mail-in voting: Some places offer online options for absentee or mail-in voting, where eligible voters can submit their ballots electronically instead of using traditional mail.
  3. Thumb drives or portable media: Thumb drives, also known as USB flash drives, are commonly used to transfer voting data from precincts to county and state counting centers securely and efficiently.
  4. Direct data entry: Election officials can use thumb drives or portable media to transfer voting data from local polling stations or precincts to a central election server. This method allows for secure and efficient data transfer without relying on an internet connection.
  5. Provisional or emergency voting: In certain circumstances, voters may cast provisional ballots on a separate machine that uses thumb drives to collect and transfer their votes to the main computer system.

Physical Ballots:

  • Paper ballots: Many places still use traditional paper ballots where voters mark their choices manually with a pen or pencil. These ballots are later counted using optical scanners or manually.
  • Ballot scanners: Voters can cast their marked paper ballots through optical scanning machines, which electronically record and tally the votes.
  • Punch card systems: Some places use punch cards, where voters make selections by punching holes in a card that is later processed by a machine.
  • Ballot marking devices: These are electronic devices designed to assist voters with disabilities or language barriers in marking their paper ballots electronically. The marked ballots are then scanned or processed.

The Easiest Ways to Attack Democracy:

  1. Printing of un-voted ballots - Counterfeited or forged ballots can easily be printed and put in boxes at the end of election day.  Computers know who has not voted yet, and that information can be used to print 100k or so un-voted ballots.
  2. Thumb Drives - Anyone with a thumb drive of information who has access, could add votes to a machine, to a county or to a precinct.
  3. Hacking - As Senators Warren, Klobuchar, Harris, Clinton and others stated, election computers and machines could be hacked after the 2016 victory by President Donald Trump.
  4. Press and Social Media Attacks – Governments or fact checkers can suppress voters with fake news or disinformation by limiting news, delisting news or de-amplifying it.
  5. China, North Korea, and Russia interference? It would only take one good hacker to get into the database of Georgia, Arizona, and Wisconsin to rig a national USA election.
  6. Adjudication - There could be legitimate adjudications or fake ones.  If somebody dropped off a box of fake ballots to the adjudicator, can they add these votes as they chose?
  7. Stolen Suppressed or Lost Ballots - Everybody knows that ballots from certain precincts are likely to vote left or right.  A ballot currier or handler can simply throw ballots in the garbage, shred them, or other. 
  8. Sabotage and Break Machines - As we saw in Arizona, if criminals simply break or sabatoge machines, precincts will not be able to vote quickly which effectively shuts out working voters who have limited time to wait in lines.

Still Other Ways to Change or Add Votes:

  1. Provisional ballots: Provisional ballots are used when there are questions about a voter's eligibility or registration status. Election officials may need to review and verify the voter's information before counting these ballots, and in some cases, valid provisional ballots are included in the final count, resulting in an update to the vote totals. Any manual updates may allow tampering, adding or reducing votes.
  2. Recounts: If the initial vote count is very close or if there are concerns about the accuracy of the count, a recount may be initiated. During a recount, all ballots are re-tabulated to ensure the accuracy of the results, and any discrepancies found may lead to changes in the vote totals.
  3. Early voting and absentee ballots: In some jurisdictions, early voting or absentee ballots are counted separately from the votes cast on Election Day. Once the Election Day votes are tallied, the early voting and absentee ballots are added to the total, potentially updating the overall results.
  4. Error correction: If errors are identified in the vote tally, such as data entry mistakes or technical glitches, corrections may be made to ensure accurate reporting of the results.
  5. Challenged ballots: In certain cases, a voter's eligibility may be challenged due to various reasons. A legal process is followed to determine whether the ballot should be counted or not, and the resolution of these challenges may result in changes to the vote totals.

Voting Machines and Software - Another Part of the Problem

According to various AI queries, here are some ways in which a voting technology  could potentially be manipulated:

  1. Malicious Software: If the voting machine's software is compromised with malicious code, it could alter the vote counts. This could be done by manipulating the code responsible for recording and tallying votes, causing it to misrepresent or modify the actual voter choices.
  2. Hacking: Voting machines connected to networks or with accessible ports might be vulnerable to hacking attempts. Skilled hackers could gain unauthorized access to the machines and alter the stored vote data or the software running on them.
  3. Insider Threat: If individuals with access to the voting machines, such as election officials or technicians, have malicious intentions, they could modify the machines' settings or software to change the vote counts.
  4. Remote Attacks: In some cases, voting machines might have remote access capabilities for maintenance or updates. If these remote access channels are not adequately secured, they could be exploited by malicious actors to alter the machines' functioning.
  5. Counterfeit Hardware: Malicious hardware components or counterfeit machines introduced into the voting process could be designed to record votes inaccurately.
  6. Targeted Attacks – Observers know now that the attacker need only effect the votes in 3-5 battleground state counties to hijack a national election in the USA.

For decades, the U.S. government's involvement in foreign elections has been a subject of controversy and scrutiny, with accusations of interference in the political processes of other nations to advance the interests of the United States or its allies. U.S. agencies have been accused of providing support to certain political candidates or parties, engaging in disinformation campaigns, and even attempting to influence the outcomes of elections through cyber means or other technological interventions.

Overall, if a group of agency officials in the USA wants to tilt an election with suppression, de-amplification of free speech or “Russian Style” disinformation interference, it would be fairly easy for government officials to make threats toward social media and media outlets.

Prior to 2020, several Democrat leaders claimed that Democrats would prevail days after the election, but probably not win on election day.  In 2024, I suspect that Republicans may lose on election day by prevail with delayed, mail in, or uncounted votes within 2-3 weeks after election day is over.

Until the weak links are fixed, all types of nefarious interference and proxy-harvest-voting may continue which remains a threat to our democracy.
Commissioner George Mentz JD MBA CILS CWM® is an international lawyer, speaker, educator, tax-economist, and CEO of the GAFM Global Academy of Finance & Management ®. The GAFM is a ESQ accredited graduate body that trains and certifies professionals in 150+ nations under CHEA ACBSP and ISO 21001 standards. Mentz is also an award winning author and graduate law professor of wealth management for a top U.S. law school.

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With so much technology and so many points of attack to add, change or affect voting, the public needs to review and analyze the various weaknesses in voter integrity.
election votes, results, tampering, ballots, 2020, 2024 elections
Wednesday, 09 August 2023 12:00 PM
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