The fault lies not in Russia, but in ourselves

If I habitually leave my car with the doors unlocked and the car keys in the ignition, somebody is going to steal it.

That doesn’t mean that the person who steals it is any less a thief, or that the car thief does not deserve to be apprehended and punished.  It does mean that I am a fool if I look to law enforcement to give me total security against theft without taking action myself.

If electronic voting machines are vulnerable to tampering, somebody is going to tamper with them.   If you want a guarantee of an honest vote count, then have paper ballots that are hand-counted in public.

If the confidential files of political parties are vulnerable to hacking, somebody is going to hack them.   If you want to be safe from hacking, then you need good computer security.

If election campaigns can be swayed by social media using personal information to manipulate people psychologically, then someone is going to manipulate public opinion.   If you want to overcome this, then based your political campaign on supporters going door-to-door and talking to people face to face.

I think the American election process is vulnerable to manipulation by foreign powers, but even more so by special interests and political operatives on the home front.   I think the idea that you can safeguard the process by threatening Russia—even if Russians turn out to be guilty of everything they’re accused of—is as foolish as the idea that you can solve the U.S. drug addiction problem by threatening Mexico or Colombia.


Paper trails and random audits could secure all elections – don’t just save them for the recounts in close races by Eugene Vorobeychik for The Conversation.  [Added 4/8/2018]

Amid Election Security Worries, Suddenly Paper Ballots Are Making a Comeback by Zaid Jilani for The Intercept.  [Added 4/9/2018]

Trump’s Top Vote Suppressor and Illegal Alien Voter Claim Goes to Court by Greg Palast for AlterNet. [Added 4/9/2018]

Minnesota Republicans Want to Ban a System That Gives Third-Party Candidates a Leg Up by Zaid Jilani for The Intercept.  [Added 4/8/2018]

 Russia’s Election Interference Is Digital Marketing 101 by Dipayan Ghosh and Ben Scott for The Atlantic.  [Added 4/9/2018]

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3 Responses to “The fault lies not in Russia, but in ourselves”

  1. whungerford Says:

    An important factor in our elections is the previous election. Starting with Ford (to avoid considering assassination and impeachment), presidents served two terms 4 times in 6; Democrats and Republicans alternated 6 times in 7.


  2. philebersole Says:

    We Americans have a highly disfunctional election system. Gerrymandering is designed to favor incumbent politicians and political parties. Voter polls are purged, often on bogus groups, of voters with typical black and Hispanic names. Voting is deliberately made difficult in districts with black and Hispanic majorities, and for working people, poor people and students. Electronic voting machines are vulnerable to tampering. Wealthy donors have too much voice in section of candidates. It is hard for individual voters to be well-informed.

    This doesn’t mean that the things I’ve mentioned completely pre-determine the outcomes of elections. The two main political parties do alternate in control of the White House and Congress – partly, in my opinion, because neither party’s leadership responds adequately to the wishes and needs of the American public.

    Candidates who represent the public interest still can win, even though the playing field is tilted against them. But that is no excuse for not having a level field.

    We need better voter registration, a better voting system (maybe weekend voting, and advance voting), hand-counted paper ballots, public financing of campaigns, better sources of information and ranked-choice voting. None of these things involve Russia.


  3. Steve Badrich Says:

    I have a question for regular readers of this blog. Do you have any theories about why we can’t get commentary like Phil’s on TV, or in the New York Times–let alone on Fox News? Respectfully, Steve Badrich, San Antonio, Texas.


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