CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The latest Harper's magazine contains a disturbing cover story titled "How to Rig an Election: The GOP Aims to Paint the Country Red." It alleges that certain Republican insiders around America electronically manipulate touch-screen voting machines and ballot-counting computers to falsify election returns.
The long article begins by recounting historic U.S. election frauds, many of them committed by Democrats. But it says a "red shift" has occurred, with modern ballot thievery mostly attributed to Republicans. The prestigious magazine explains:
"Two major events have paved the way for this lethal form of election manipulation: the mass adoption of computerized voting technology, and the outsourcing of our elections to a handful of corporations that operate in the shadows, with little oversight or accountability."
Leaders of America's election computer firms include some far-right political zealots and some outright crooks, the report says, adding:
"Many of the staffers behind our major voting-machine companies have been accused or convicted of a dizzying array of white-collar crimes, including conspiracy, bribery, bid-rigging, computer fraud, tax fraud, stock fraud, mail fraud, extortion and drug trafficking."
Harper's lists scandals linked to Diebold, Sequoia, Election Systems & Software, Dominion and other firms. It also lists 2008 and 2010 state-level elections where polls had predicted easy Democratic victories, but tallies from electronic machines mysteriously gave "upsets" to Republicans.
And it lists states and foreign nations that have banned various electronic systems as untrustworthy. For example, it says Ireland spent $70 million for paperless machines -- but sold them as scrap in June for $92,000.
The magazine concludes by urging voters to be watchful Tuesday for any surprising results that hint of fake vote counts.
After Florida's 2000 voting fiasco and the resulting national election reform, West Virginia struggled with conversion to electronic voting. Counties debated whether to buy touch-screen machines that leave no "paper trail" of physical ballots that can be recounted, or whether to choose optical-scan devices that use paper ballots, which can be hand-counted if necessary. Thank heaven, the 2005 Legislature solved this dilemma by requiring all machines to produce paper copies.We can't judge the accuracy of the Harper's alarm. That's the frustrating part: If electronic tampering occurs, it's nearly impossible to detect. All we can say is, be alert for any outcomes Tuesday night that seem improbable.