Are Fair Elections Even Possible in the Digital Age?

©8-2016 Matt Fitzgibbons,

Matt Fitzgibbons
Matt Fitzgibbons

The American War for Independence signaled the beginnings of an extraordinarily bright time in the history of our species. The 13 original States unified to defeat the greatest military of the time and won the privilege of self-rule. This happened because a one-time event occurred when many of the world’s greatest political minds appeared at the same time in the same place with near-perfect, but horrible conditions. The potential reward was high enough, and the potential threat of servitude was terrible enough for the well-read, educated and fiercely independent populous to risk everything to chance a momentous leap from subject to citizen. The simple but timeless ideas that became widely held from New Hampshire to South Carolina as cornerstones of our Republic included many concepts expressed in the Declaration of Independence, and well before our Republic even existed:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to affect their Safety and Happiness.”

Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson

Of all of these ideas, which are just as revolutionary today as they were when they were first written, one towers above the others as the most important: “Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed”. That idea is that the body of the citizenry chooses its representatives and temporary leaders by elections. And it relies completely on the requirement of fair elections.

In the speeches, writings and notes of our Founders, we find complete agreement in very few areas. Our great experiment could also just as easily be called “The Great Compromise”. In the case of the U.S. Constitution, for example, history has found it to be wholly inadequate in many areas. Today, many find it to be deficient in preventing our own Federal Government from becoming the new leviathan, especially when so many within it in all three brnches are bent on its destruction through institutionalized subversion. However, except for isolated instances in our history, fear of widespread election fraud was rare….until now.

hackerA few years ago it would have been incomprehensible that the vast majority of Americans would voluntarily pay to carry a device that can monitor our conversations, written correspondences, copy our contacts, and access every small detail about our lives, including health records, current and frequent locations as well as travel routes, shopping history, sexual preferences, political leanings, religious beliefs, bank account information, etc. It would have been unimaginable by our Founders that anyone, let alone the majority of the U.S. Citizenry, would be stupid enough to endanger such precious information. Today however, it is a reality. For those who choose not to use their cell phones as most do, preferring to conduct their daily affairs on less portable devices, their most intimate details are equally available to governments and criminals alike.

Two facts remain:
1. Americans have migrated the majority of our lives to the digital world.
Whether PCs, laptops, cell phones, watches, cars, or household appliances, the vast majority of our devices transverse the internet in one way or another. How many people actually read the Terms & Conditions when they download an app or create a profile online? Try finding out exactly how a particular cell phone app will use or distribute your personal information and it becomes obvious that most Americans simply don’t care. As a result, app creators don’t bother telling you. There’s no demand, no outrage, as long as the app is “free”. Today the digital information collected is rapidly including facial recognition, voice prints and biometric data. While Americans will still go to great lengths to shield their private information from people in the real world like family members and neighbors, we are oblivious to what companies or government do with it, whether U.S. or foreign.

2. All computers can be hacked.
Digital data is vulnerable to theft, manipulation and distribution. It happens all the time. A week doesn’t go by without a news headline announcing another stores’ data having been breached or another 10 million Social Security records stolen, or some organization hacked. Most importantly, we hear about only a fraction of the data breaches that really occur. Just as banks factor in profit loss through cybercrime, it is brand suicide to admit it, just as it is not in the interest of governments to let their citizens know that their private information is regularly stolen, both by them and other governments. It is a reality that everyone knows on some level and chooses to ignore consciously. An ancient Native American saying goes, “Do nothing in private you wouldn’t want everyone to know.” However, that level of wisdom requires thought… and that wastes time when you just need a flashlight app.

It is far easier to delude oneself into believing that spending a few dollars on software and running regular updates will ensure ones privacy than it is to accept the truth that all digital data can be stolen anonymously and without our knowledge. In the constant war between privacy on the one hand, and hackers and governments on the other, we are all rolling dice at best and voluntarily writing our own FBI, CIA, and NSA dossiers at worst.

A national declaration of emergency should be declared immediately. Large numbers of cities, towns and districts across our Republic rely upon electronic voting machines, many of which are antiquated. Security experts have been repeatedly warning us that these machines and their data are incredibly vulnerable to hacking and they willingly demonstrate it upon request. They know it is a reality. Given the stakes of this year’s elections, believing otherwise is simply self-delusion. They will be hacked. That is a fact. The only questions are where, how many, and to what extent? In some districts, it is almost guaranteed that the election night results were programmed many months ago with no plans in place to detect it.

voteFair elections, the cornerstone of our Republic, are heavily threatened in November. However, nothing will be done. The symbiosis of government, media, entertainment and various industries is too ingrained. Considering the actual facts, a national declaration of emergency should be declared immediately to encourage every State to ensure the security and accuracy of each of its citizen’s vote. If this were done, Americans would realize how deeply the cornerstone of our Republic is threatened. Millions would volunteer to do whatever is necessary, even if it means replacing the machines with paper ballots and volunteering to stay up for days counting them on the floors of thousands of gymnasiums across the country. It would simply be that important to so many…. if they only knew. We know it’s coming, and combined with the failure of States to pass Voter I.D. Laws can get past leftist judges, many of our votes will be meaningless.
It is the prerogative of the individual citizen to choose whether to be careless with their own infomration, but it is negligent to the extreme for government officials to do so, especially when the very cornerstone of our Republic is so seriously threatened. One thing is for certain: As we increase our reliance on digital information and news media outlets continue their partisan choice of what news to report, hackers will increasingly become both serious threats to liberty and valuable sources of real news.

-Matt Fitzgibbons,
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