Maryann Tobin

Voter ID laws, voter fraud, disenfranchisement, and voting machine hacking are all in play in 2012, and they all could change the outcome of the election. But if they do, the winner will have taken power they didn’t deserve.

The Republican Party got caught this week creating the problem they claimed they were fighting against with their new voter ID laws – namely, voter fraud.

“What first appeared to be an isolated problem in one Florida county has now spread statewide, with election officials in nine counties informing prosecutors or state election officials about questionable voter registration forms filled out on behalf of the Republican Party of Florida,” according to the Huffington Post.

However, attempts to influence the outcome of the 2012 elections do not stop at Republican voter registration fraud.

Since taking control of dozens of state legislatures in 2010, Republicans in 34 states have either passed or attempted to pass voter ID laws. Those new laws have the potential to disenfranchise more than 10 million Americans.

Perhaps not by coincidence, the most restrictive new Voter ID laws are focused in nine of the key swing states that President Obama win in 2008.

Also, perhaps not by coincidence, the new voter ID laws target specific ethnic groups and other voting blocks that tend to vote for Democrats.

Voter ID laws and Republican voter registration fraud demonstrate acts of desperation to win at all costs. But they are more easily seen than tampering with voting machines to change votes.

Voting machine hacking is not new.

“In the 2000 presidential election, an electronic voting machine recorded minus 16,022 votes for Al Gore in Volusia County, Fla. While fraud was never proven, the faulty tally alerted computer scientists, politicians and everyday citizens to the very real possibility of computer hacking during elections,” according to the HBO Video Documentary, "Hacking Democracy," cited on Wanttoknow.

In 2005, Diebold voting machines in Florida were successfully hacked and votes were changed by the computers from one candidate to another.

Regardless of the voting machine manufacturer, they can still be hacked rather easily.

“For some voting machines, it takes a little more than six minutes and less than $5.00 to compromise a machine,” according to the Daily Kos.

Another incident occurred in Florida in 2011, when the Florida election servers were hacked twice in one week.

In 2012, it is unclear whether or not electronic voting machines and paper ballot scanners are any more secure now than they have been in the past.

“Harri Hursti may be the best-known hacker you've never heard of. Largely unknown to the voting public, the Finnish computer programmer gained national notoriety among elections officials in 2005 when he broke into voting equipment in Leon County -- at the supervisor of elections' invitation -- just to show it could be done,” according to a Palm Beach Post report in May, 2012.

While Florida may be famous for election shenanigans, the problem is not confined to the Sunshine State. Residents in DuPage County, Illinois, have expressed concerns about their votes being counted accurately in 2012.

There are a lot of ways to cheat to win an election. Some candidates make promises to voters they never intend to keep. Targeted voter suppression and trying to hand-in fraudulent voter registration forms is another. But no matter what form it takes, trying to change the outcome of an election by altering the truthfulness of the vote, or the voters, makes the winner a fraud.

The fact that all these methods can and have been used to take the power to govern out of the hands of the American people is a symptom of an ever-more corrupted system of government.

Why do political parties feel the need to cheat to win an election? The answer is simple. They know that there aren’t enough people who believe in their message to give them a majority of votes.

What you need to worry about when vote-tampering by any means becomes an acceptable form of electability, are the people who think that there is nothing wrong with cheating, as long as they win. People like that, if given enough power, may eventually try to save themselves the trouble of going through elections at all.

Voting rights are only protected by lawmakers who want to defend them.

If you like to write about U.S. politics and Campaign 2012, enter "The American Pundit" competition. Allvoices is awarding four $250 prizes each month between now and November. These monthly winners earn eligibility for the $5,000 grand prize, to be awarded after the November election.


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