Voting accountability is like cash flow reporting
One of the trolls I encounter online repeats the mantra that if we are to allege electoral fraud, the burden of proof is on the accuser. No matter how strong the evidence, nor how much of it there is, the mantra remains the same. Prove it. Proof beyond reasonable doubt is the standard.
No. When it comes to electoral integrity, and accusations of fraud, that's backward. Those who count the votes must prove that the numbers they report are accurate. If they cannot, then the election results must be discarded as untrustworthy. Another, more reliable — utterly reliable — election must occur.
When I worked in an accounting department, one of our monthly products was the cash flow report. It told the investors how much money came in and how much went out. It would not have been acceptable to simply tell them, you lost ten thousand dollars from your bank account this month. The investors demanded proof. Where did the money go? Why did it go?
The owners demanded, and got, proof of the following: how much debt was collected? Why not more? How much revenue was received? Why not more? Where are the receipts? What are the cash management procedures? Were they followed? Why so much expense for office supplies? Can we do with less? Can we get a better price from another supplier? Anything that they asked, the accountants had to answer to the satisfaction of the investors, and the investors would pounce on any irregularity. People could be fired, or even charged with crimes. It was serious business indeed. It was cash.
Election officials have the same responsibility to the voting public. It is no more acceptable for them to say "trust me" than it would be for an accountant to shrug off investor doubts about the accuracy of the financial reports. It is serious business indeed. It is our republic.
The financial officer of a corporation cannot simply tell the investors, "We rely on computers, so if there is an error, blame it on I.T." Likewise, election officials should not be allowed to hide behind a wall of computers. Everything about those computers, inside and out, software and hardware, must be made available for public inspection. Those who manufacture the computers and write the programs must provide strict proof of their reliability, to the satisfaction of the voters. If not, the machines must be scrapped, and paper ballots used instead. There must be transparency at all times.
Financial reports must be audited — audited by an independent, unbiased, and neutral third party. Auditors ask for every relevant document. The moment they are told that those documents are not available, they refuse to certify the financial reports. The moment they detect prevarication, they raise doubts about the soundness of the corporation and its management. Are funds being squandered? Embezzled?
Standards no less stringent than that must be applied to elections. You, the voter, are the investor, the owner of the republic, "if you can keep it." Your vote is your ability to control those to whom you lend power. That power can send you to war, to prison, even to the death chamber. Those whom you elect to office can deprive you of your possessions, your livelihood, and even your life. They can do so in accord with the law or in violation of it. Therefore, they must be carefully watched.
Currently, we have too few reliable election reports. Procedures are haphazard; controls are far too loose; and in the case of Arizona, one of the election officials was herself a candidate being voted upon, a "fox guarding the henhouse." There is no verifiable chain of custody of ballots, and the manufacturers of voting machines are allowed to conceal their machines from meaningful audit. In Arizona, equipment in use on election day malfunctioned on a large scale.
Laws permitting widespread mailing of unsolicited ballots, laws permitting ballots to be cast without properly identifying whether they are cast by eligible voters, and permitting biased third parties to collect and deliver ballots — those laws do not merely fail to prevent fraud, but seem specifically designed to guarantee fraud.
There is not the slightest excuse for the scandals in Arizona and elsewhere.
No, Mister Troll, I do not have to prove any of this. Those who count the votes bear the burden of proof, and so far, they have proved themselves unworthy of our trust.
Image: PublicDomainPictures via Pixabay, Pixabay License.