(ANTIMEDIA) Wichita, KS — During every election cycle, politicians, the media, and citizens alike sing the praises of democracy and the power of the “vote.” The ritual is often lauded as the pinnacle of human achievement — assurance that politicians carry out the people’s wishes. In Kansas, however, a statistician from Wichita State University has filed an open records lawsuit to investigate what she worries may be evidence of voter fraud. Tellingly, since she initially filed the suit in April, authorities have attempted to block her request for voter records.
Beth Clarkson, chief statistician for Wichita State’s National Institute for Aviation Research, said last week that she noticed results for the last several elections in the state failed to add up. “If we’re not being counted accurately, we’re losing our right to vote without even being aware of it,” she said at an event commemorating the 95th anniversary of the 19th amendment, which granted women the right to vote.
Clarkson has sued the state of Kansas for the power to examine the voter tapes, which record every stroke a voter casts on the machines. In Sedgwick County, for example, that amounts to 385 feet of tape stored in 42 boxes. Clarkson is eager to examine the records, claiming she noticed abnormalities in the numbers.
“I don’t understand why those patterns are there, the patterns are very definitely real. But we don’t know what’s causing them or why they’re there. They do fit what would be expected if election fraud is occurring, and that’s very concerning [emphasis added].”
“This is not just an anomaly that occurred in one place,” Clarkson said in April. “It is a pattern that has occurred repeatedly in elections across the United States.” She says the pattern routinely favors traditional Republicans — even over Tea Party candidates..
Clarkson argues that in some counties, results are impossible to audit. In Johnson County, which uses electronic machines, there is no paper trail or record of votes. “They’re basically saying you don’t need to look at these paper records, we can just trust the machine,” she observed.
For years, voter rights advocates across the country have feared the efficacy and reliability of electronic voting machines because of their lack of accountability, accuracy, and the ease with which they can be hacked — an issue Clarkson also notes. The machines also enjoy a powerful lobby. Diebold lobbied heavily in favor of voting machines — amid public reservations — in the 2004 election. Company executives also donated large sums to George W. Bush’s campaign. By 2010, electronic voting machines were employed — at least in part — in all 50 states (the use of e-machines appears to be decreasing out of a lack of funds to maintain them, a trend the Presidential Commission on Election Administration called an “impending crisis” last year). In 2012, serious apprehensions over electronic voting arose when Mitt Romney was found to have both campaign and business ties to the company supplying the voting machines.
Of course, as Clarkson has suggested with the abnormality in voter tapes, voter fraud is not limited to machines. In 2012, the GOP was accused of rampant fraud and underhanded — even violent — tactics in its suppression of voter support for presidential candidate Ron Paul during the primary. In fact, voter fraud has tainted America’s “democratic” tradition for centuries — since the time of George Washington. In 1876, the presidential election between Rutherford B. Hayes and Samuel J. Tilden was rife with inconsistencies. Over 100 years later, the 2000 election was riddled with abnormalities. In recent years, one democratic political operative said fraud was “a normal political tactic.”
As for Kansas, Secretary of State Kris Kobach is lobbying to have the judge in the lawsuit block Clarkson’s case from proceeding. Kobach says the records are not applicable under open records law, arguing that a similar case was overruled in the past. Even so, Kobach’s move conjures the popular government axiom: If you’re not doing anything wrong, you have nothing to hide.
The Republican secretary was personally criticized in 2012 for pushing voter ID laws in a state deemed one of the six most problematic for voter rights by an independent report published at the time. It criticized Kansas “…for lacking voting machines that produce a paper trail, having no statewide audit of elections, and allowing military and overseas voters to send in absentee ballots via unsecured email.”
While few still harbor the illusion that voting is actually an effective mechanism for progress (a majority fail to vote while others express cognitive dissonance in acknowledging corruption yet exercising the right to vote), it remains a ritualistic practice in modern democracy.
Even if every vote were counted accurately, however, it remains that elected representatives characteristically disregard, exploit, and oppress the American population — whether individuals choose to vote or not.