Tag: votes

Bad Legal Precedent Used to Challenge Maine Election Result

Jack Shields | United States

According to NPR, the incumbent Representative for Maine’s Second Congressional District, Bruce Poliquin (R), is attempting to claim victory through the courts in an election he clearly lost. Maine uses ranked choice voting for their U.S. House of Representatives elections. This means that instead of picking just one candidate, voters rank candidates in order of preference. If the first round is completed and no candidate has above 50% of the vote, the candidate with the least amount of votes is eliminated and those who voted for him have their votes go to their next ranked, non-eliminated choice. When the first round results were tallied, Poliquin was in first place with 46.2% of the vote, while his Democratic challenger, Jared Golden, trailed with 45.5% of the vote, and two independents; Tiffany Bond and Will Hoar carried 5.8% and 2.4% respectively.

In the second round, Bond and Hoar were eliminated and their votes were transferred to the voters’ second choices. The second round concluded with Golden earning a razor-thin victory over Poliquin: 50.53% to 49.47%. However, Poliquin is arguing that ranked choice voting is an unconstitutional violation of the ‘one person, one vote’ doctrine established in Baker v. Carr (1962). Even with the Carr ruling as precedent, Poliquin has no real chance or logic behind his Hail Mary lawsuit. However, the real issue is Carr in and of itself is an unconstitutional overreach by an activist court into the legislative and political domain, and should be overturned.

The issue in Carr was a requirement in Tennessee’s constitution requiring the reapportionment of seats in their state senate and general assembly every ten years starting in 1871. But when Charles W. Baker brought his suit to court, it had been over five decades since 1901 yet the state was still using the 1901 reapportionment law, despite population increases, thus severely over-representing rural districts.  Baker argued this made some people’s vote count more than others and was therefore a violation of the Equal Protection Clause in the 14th amendment. The Supreme Court agreed, declaring that the 14th amendment guarantees the ‘one person, one vote’ right where each vote should hold as much weight as any other vote. This precedent is unfortunately still in force today.

Even under the Carr precedent, Poliquin has no real case. The Court ruled that each vote ought to carry equal weight. The Court did not rule that votes cannot be transferred. Just because the vote was now for Golden rather than Bond or Hoar, doesn’t mean it was somehow magically more or less important. One vote equals one vote regardless of whom the vote was for. The only serious way he could argue the votes in the first round were weighed differently than votes in the second round is the fact that according to Ballotpedia, there were 284,455 votes in the first round and 275,557 votes in the second round. This may be because some people didn’t put a second choice when they voted, and therefore their vote was not transferred into the second round. While mathematically this means a vote in the second round held roughly 3.2% more weight of the total vote than in the first round, this is not actually evidence that it was a violation of the Equal Protection Clause. No voter was prohibited from selecting a second choice, which would deny them equal protection under the law. Those who did not select a second choice candidate chose not to on their own accord. In some cases, not voting is just as much as a vote as actually voting in terms of the effects it has on the election. This does not mean that it unconstitutionally swings the election. There is no legitimate legal argument for Poliquin. Golden is the new representative for the people of Maine’s Second District.

When examining the actual Carr decision, it is clear the Court overstepped its boundaries. The lower courts determined that because this was an issue of a state constitution, a state reapportionment law, and a state legislature, this was not an issue which the federal courts had any jurisdiction. But because the Supreme Court determined there was a violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Federal Constitution, the federal courts had jurisdiction. This would be true if there was a violation of the Federal Constitution, but it is clear there is no violation of the Equal Protection Clause. The 14th amendment was ratified in 1868 and was specifically designed to protect the rights of newly freed slaves. The point of the Equal Protection Clause was so, for example, a state could not demand that a black man pay $100 in taxes while a white man only had to pay $50 in taxes. Laws now had to be equally applied without race-based, and later sex-based discrimination. However, this has nothing to do with elections and the weight of a vote. Both then and now, the President is elected through the Electoral College, which goes completely against the idea of ‘one man, one vote.’ As reported by the Huffington Post, in the 2016 election a vote in Wyoming held 3.6 times more weight than a vote in California. The 14th amendment did not repeal the Electoral College. In fact, it had so little to do with voting that the 15th amendment had to be passed in order to let the black men the 14th amendment was attempting to protect get to vote. The Equal Protection Clause had nothing to do with voting, meaning it is in no way an adequate excuse for federal overreach into a state issue; making this is an unconstitutional precedent that ought to be overturned at the next available opportunity.

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Voter Fraud Investigation Launched in Alabama: Out-of-State Voters?

By Jason Patterson | USA

“We came here all the way from different parts of the country…”

An investigation has been opened up on the senate race former Alabama senate race between Moore and Doug Jones. The investigation will be conducted by Alabama Secretary,  John Merrill who will be looking into potential voter fraud.

During an interview, by FOX 10  a Jones supported made comments which fired up the investigation. A man was approached by a camera and was asked by the reporter why he is so excited about Jones’s victory. The man said quite passionately said, “Because, we came here all the way from different parts of the country as part of our fellowship, and all of us pitched into vote and canvas together, and we got our boy elected!”

As of now, we have no evidence of voter fraud occurred, however, Merrill is very curious as to who this unidentified man is and wants to know more information.

It seems very suspicious  when someone who’s not from Alabama says that they voted in Alabama’s election,

“We don’t have any evidence of people doing that, our numbers do not indicate that has happened, but when you have someone actually recorded on television saying that they voted, and that’s what he said, then we’ve got to get to the bottom of that,” Merrill later stated.

We don’t know if, in fact, these claims are true, and if this is the next Water Gate or just a nothing story.

Hacking the US Election: How to Change Presidential Vote Counts

By Andrew Zirkle | USA

With much talk surrounding the integrity of the US elections regarding influence, the 71Republic team decided to take that concept one step further to investigate what it would take for an outside party to change the vote totals in the US elections through fraud in a large and meaningful way. Although there may be others, there are 3 determined ways that widespread and coordinated fraudulent voting could occur in a Presidential election

The first and most suspected way to commit widespread voter fraud is to use or create incorrect voter registration data, which would allow voter duplication or unregistered voters to vote. One of the most difficult logistical challenges associated with this strategy is the decentralized nature of US Presidential Elections. Because each state is responsible for its own voter registration, a hacker would have to tamper with multiple voter registration lists in multiple key states before election day, all without being caught by digital safeguards, encryption, and of course, manual voter list evaluations. A variation on this strategy would be to use deceased registered voters or other errors as opposed to directly hacking voter registration data, however, it would be very difficult for an outside individual to observe such errors. Even if a group was able to edit or exploit voter registration data, the only way to take advantage would be to use the registrations to perform fraudulent votes. Some states would be harder than others, for example, fraud in Virginia and Wisconsin would also require forged ID for fraudulent votes to occur. Although laws vary, 32 states have some sort of voter ID law implemented which would further complicate this strategy.  The word is still out on whether this type of hack affected the 2016 election. Recent Department of Homeland security reports indicated that Russians targeted the voter registration lists of 21 states, however, it was made clear that the hackers only succeeded in breaching one state’s system and that the targeted lists were not directly tied to election day tally.

The second way to potentially hack the US elections would be to hack into machines that count and record votes. Nearly 70% of voters use a paper ballot with an optical scanner, while nearly the rest of the country uses a Direct Recording Electronic Machine (DREM) which is all electronic and typically resembles a tablet. Before each election day, both types of voting machines are tested multiple times in front of representatives from both parties by local election authorities to ensure they are accurate. Then, the machines are securely locked away until election day. Neither type of machine connects to the internet,  which means that any hacker would have to physically break open the machine in person and even then, the tallying alteration would likely be caught by the multiple tests before election day. Because of the sheer amount of machines and the type of coordinated effort between many hackers that would be required to have any sort of effect, most election analysts have ruled this potential hacking technique out completely because of its difficulty and the safeguards against it.

The third way to directly affect election totals would be to differentiate the reported results from the actual results that were tallied. While this method may not require traditional hacking, it still has been a concern for many who are skeptical about the results of the election. At the end of election day, each type of vote counting machine prints out individual copies of the ballots it received, which are then counted by poll workers. These poll workers work in pairs and are overseen by poll watchers from both parties not just to prevent sabotage, but also to prevent any mistakes as well. The tallied results from each precinct are then reported to the county board of elections, who then report them to the state board of elections, all through secure phone lines. If any attempted large-scale sabotage were attempted, it would likely be caught by the hundreds of election audits done by states or the occasional mandatory ballot recounts. The likelihood that large-scale conspiracy could occur under the reporting system is unlikely due to its highly monitored and decentralized nature, which is good news for the American election system.

Although overall there is room for some amount of voter fraud in the US Presidential election system, the opportunity for undetected widespread election fraud is very limited because of our secure, decentralized and highly monitored elections. Despite the separate and totally proven problem of outside election influence, Americans should rest easy knowing that their election system cannot be subject to large-scale sabotage by outside entities