According to TPM, with all precincts reporting, incumbent conservative Justice David Prosser trails liberal-backed challenger Assistant Attorney General JoAnne Kloppenburg by roughly 300 votes out of 1.5 million cast. The incredible tally makes a recount certain in an election that effectively put the hard-charging anti-union politics of Governor Scott Walker to a vote. Elections systems analyst Brad Friedman, a longtime critic of prevalent electronic voting machines, warns that the number of votes separating the candidates may be less than the number of votes cast on the notorious DRE/touch screen systems which “are easily hacked and 100 percent unverifiable.”
“Given that Wisconsin still has approved for continued use DRE/touch screen systems… it will never be possible to know with certainty how many votes each candidate received,” wrote Ernest Canning this morning at Friedman’s Brad Blog.
Friedman expanded on the point Wednesday afternoon with an update.
For proponents of Election Integrity, there is both good news and bad in the Badger State. The good news: most of the state’s voters used verifiable hand-marked paper ballots to record their votes yesterday. The bad news: Those ballots are counted by easily-manipulated, oft-failed computers instead of human beings; 100% unverifiable Direct Recording Electronic (DRE, usually touch-screen) voting machines are used by some voters with disabilities across the state; and, given close results, even if a hand-count of paper ballots occurs, as is likely, the number of votes cast on unverifiable DREs could end up being larger than the final margin between the two candidates — meaning that it will be, literally, impossible to know for certain who actually won the election…
Wisconsin has approved unverifiable DREs for use, usually by disabled voters who choose to do so, as made by Diebold, ES&S, Sequoia & Populex. The touch-screen systems made by all of those companies have been exposed by study after study — as well as in real-life elections — to be easily hacked and often unreliable, with a propensity for flipping votes both on the screen and invisibly inside the system, as well as simply failing to register votes at all on many occasions.
If, after a state-wide hand-count of paper ballots, the number of votes cast on DRE systems in the state is larger than the final margin between Prosser and Kloppenburg, the results will end up being 100% faith-based, with blind faith in the invisible ballots cast on Diebold, ES&S, Sequoia and Populex DREs being necessary to regard the election as legitimate.
Compounding the problem is that, while use of DREs in counties with paper ballots for most voters is usually quite low, many precincts across the state were said to have run short of ballots yesterday with the much higher than anticipated turnout. Some precincts, it has been reported (though not yet confirmed, as of now), were forced to direct voters to vote on DREs instead of on paper when ballots had run short.
The Wisconsin election will almost certainly engender a recount. Given the unreliable totals the voting machines produce, Friedman and Canning advise both Prosser and Kloppenburg to demand that the recounting work be done by hand.
Wisconsin, already riven by Walker’s politics, now faces the prospect of an election recount that might end in an unverifiable victory.
As Friedman asked at his jumping Twitter feed: “Know what #WI really needs right now? A bitterly contentious and protracted partisan recount!”
Note: Friedman is hosting Mike Malloy’s L.A. radio show this week and is sure to go over the Wisconsin election and the voting machine questions in detail tonight.