In Which I Vote

[This is a repost from Daily Kos]

I voted this morning. As I did, I paid close attention to the security arrangements, because that is my nature. I was a computer security consultant for 30 years and many organizations and systems benefitted from my analysis and recommendations. One other point on that: my old co-consultant friend Avi Rubin used to pay much more attention to electoral systems implementation (notoriously taking apart Diebold’s systems) but that was not my gig. My gig was looking at broad-scale attack surfaces and mentally pursuing endless “what if?”s in order to find ways to improve the system.

So, I walked into the room (there were no glowering gun-toters outside, or I would have called 911) and there was a table and 4 people. One of them is my neighbor who owns the farm across the street. I know they are deranged maga-heads but her behavior was exemplary, I will say that openly and publicly. There were 3 people in line ahead of me.

It took a few minutes because one of those people did not appear in the voter rolls. She suggested her new married name and one of the poll people asked for her address and photo id, especially if it had her new name. Gosh that makes sense! Everyone had a look-see then checked her off in the roster, she was given a ballot, and sent on.

My turn “hi Marcus!” from the neighbor and I was quickly found, checked off, I signed the roll next to my name and was given my ballot. I went over to the privatized table, filled it out, then went over to the scanner and the scanner guy and I watched it go through. It produced no errors, folds, or tears, and the scanner guy gave me a sticker and literally showed me the door.

Total time, 5min.

Now let’s look at scenarios:

1) I return 20 minutes later wearing a MAGA hat and claim to be someone else. Neighbor and other poll operatives sing (in 4-part harmony) “why don’t you wait for the cops while we call them!” And I don’t get to cast that vote.

2) I manage to do convincing make-up so I come in looking like the old guy up the street. I vote his vote. Then an hour later the real old guy shows up and the roll-takers all say “your name is checked off! You have already voted!” And when the state police show up they probably check his ID thoroughly and calls are made to the election commission to contest the ballot I spoofed earlier. Meanwhile, I sm now a felon!

3) I come in and try to vote for the guy up the street who died. Oops, the roll-checkers say, “Snake Plissken! We heard you were dead!” Then “wait here until the state police arrive.”

4) I get a bunch of extra ballots from somewhere, fill them out, and convince scanner guy to stand aside (“Snake Plissken? Sure I’m not tangling with you.”) and I run them through. Now the tallies will not match: there were 1,193 people registered to vote and a big bunch of ballots appear in the system that were not attached to a checked-off person who was on the voter rolls. Then ensues a hand comparison between the serial numbers on the ballots and the ballots that were actually handed out, and now the poll-workers have a list of the ballots they need to contest. And I’m a multiple felon and will need a great lawyer if they catch me. Also, scanner guy has some questions to answer and may plead the 5th his way into a stay in a federal prison.

5) I alter the summary of the votes produced by the scanner and it’s the same scenario as 4) unless I have help from pyramid-building aliens who time-warp some umpty ump into the network potrzebie and wossname the frads.

The voting system depends heavily on the ability to cross-check registrations with actual votes. Anywhere there is a disparity it’s a red flag that can be investigated using the registrations, signed log book, and ballots.

I am sure the aliens who built the pyramids were good enough with the tech that they could use a matter assembler to whip up an exact, edited, copy of the rolls. But if the aliens were so good, what did they need the massive army of Egyptians and slaves dragging around all those 2ton rocks for?

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Mail-in votes get compared against the same registry of voters, and signature-matched, etc. Most of the scenarios I outline above also apply to mail-in fraud, with the exception being that the perpetrator does not have to be present in the room, and is not grabbable by police.

I have always voted in person because it has seemed to me that by doing so, it is impossible to distinguish me as a target for vote suppression. I look, in terms of my behaviors, just like all the other ageing white guys in the area.


  1. billseymour says

    I haven’t been to a barber shop since COVID became a thing.  Fortunately, I don’t think that the ageing hippie look is horrible (although I was never an actual hippie…I was in the Air Force when Haight-Ashbury was a thing; but I was never in ’Nam and make no claim to being a hero).

    So I would probably be one of the folks who would be targeted, especially because I was the only person in line wearing an N95 mask.  Fortunately, there were no goons patrolling my polling place.

  2. dave57 says

    In OR we have vote my mail. Gives time to look over all the candidates, consider and research the candidates and fill out ballot which you drop in the mail (postage paid). I couple of day later you get an email that says everything is in order. Some years ago, I forgot to sign the envelope which my wife discovered when she went to drop it off (this was before postage paid). She signed it and turned it in. A few weeks later I received a very sternly worded letter about how it’s illegal for someone not the voter to sign, telling me that my vote was not counted and advising me that if my signature had changed to update it.

  3. Tethys says

    I walked in to vote at 4:15, and was finished and on my way by 4:25. In that time, fifty people had arrived to vote and were in line to sign and get their paper ballot.

    My election judges said it had been very busy all day, nobody was a problem, and the only issue was that they were getting hungry.

  4. lochaber says

    Live in California, have been eligible to vote by mail for more years than I can remember. Used to bring my ballot to the in-person voting location and drop it off, just because it was literally down the block. A few years back or so, they changed the in-person location to someplace much less convenient. So, I’ve just been filling out my ballot and dropping it in a drop box a couple blocks away. Usually while running very important errands like clearing my post office mail box of all the political mailers, or grabbing a six-pack. And then a couple days later, I get an email informing me that my ballot has been received and counted. Runs pretty well, overall.

    It’s just too bad that I’m living in one of those areas where my leftist-leaning votes are not going to make much of a difference, because I’m living in an area that’s neck-deep in leftists, but on the other hand, it also means that when the proudboys or other nazi-subtypes decide to show up, they are vastly outnumbered by antifa and other counter-protestors.

    yeah, there is some issues with property crime and petty theft, and a lot of unhoused people, but those are problems that exist not because of leftist policies, but despite leftist policies, in large part because leftist policies are getting blocked by fear-mongering bigots and corporate lackeys.

    slight tangent, but I find it slightly amusing to hear how so many “brave second amendment warriors” won’t dare to step into my neighborhood without being armed to the teeth, yet my pansy liberal unarmed solo ass has wandered home black-out drunk more times than not, and never been mugged, and very rarely felt endangered/threatened…

  5. DonDueed says

    I recently relocated to a new state. My former home was in a state that instituted optional mail-in voting during COVID and retained it. My new home is in a state that allows absentee voting only for limited reasons, but does have early voting available for a week or so prior to election day.

    I was able to get registered here through the motor vehicle registration process, so I was all set by the time early voting opened. One nice feature here is that for early voting, you can vote at any early polling site, not just one specific polling place. That worked out nicely for me. There were only a handful of other voters at the site I went to.

    The process was smooth, much as Marcus described (except nobody knew me). The biggest difference was that there was no poll worker stationed at the scanners. They were clearly visible from the check-in table, though, so no shenanigans were possible.

    This state seems to take the notion of “secret ballot” more literally than I was used to — you are given a folder to cover your ballot as you take it to the scanner, and (as I mentioned) no poll worker watches you put the ballot through. Neither of those was true in my former state.

  6. Reginald Selkirk says

    My vote experience went smoothly enough. My usual voting place, a church 2 blocks away, was not available for some reason, so I walked a mile to a civic building at 6:15 AM. It was one of those building with a big, echoey lobby. The people handling sign-in were old, very experienced, and talking too loudly because they didn’t realize they were hard of hearing. The much younger person handing out the ballots was slow, and seemed to be receiving training. But there were only a couple other voters so overall the experience didn’t take that long.
    I am formally independent, but voted straight-lin D because I will not support fascists.

  7. kestrel says

    Our state allows early voting starting 28 days before the election, and pretty much on that first or second day it was possible, we voted. While there, we chatted with the people who checked us in and had a nice discussion about how there was simply no way we could cheat, vote twice etc. On the actual election day, we went to the courthouse to pay property taxes and also to see if there were any gun-toting goons there to intimidate people or something. But no, nothing like that going on. It all went very smoothly.

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