Lessons from Regional Elections

Go Lean Commentary

Imagine spending $5.3 Billion dollars to buy a “service” and then the logistics fail in the final delivery.

Unfortunately, this can describe the election process in the United States. In 2008, according to the book Go Lean…Caribbean, that amount of money was spent on the Presidential campaign. Surely those spending that money, wanted to have their candidates win. It would be so unfortunate that when Election Day finally comes around that the delivery – balloting – is flawed:

  • hanging chads
  • long lines
  • computer glitches
  • incorrect registration
  • wrong polling stations
  • absentee ballots
  • provisional ballots
  • photo ID

These and many other issues persist…

… the biggest problem being voter apathy, especially among the young.

With this greatest threat – voter apathy – that $5.3 Billion investment (for 2008, even though more have been spent in 2012 and the current 2016 campaign) maybe in jeopardy. “Say it ain’t so”…

Here come the solutions. Perhaps technology offers some mitigation to these risks. Consider this:

Question: Will US citizens be able to cast their vote online during the 2016 presidential election?

Answer: Probably not on a mass scale. Currently, Alaska is the only state that allows any eligible voter to vote electronically.

It is unlikely that this will become commonplace across the country in the next two years.

However, perhaps this will change over time if online security measures improve and as popular opinion changes. Among all age groups, Millennials tend to be more interested in online voting.

By: Steve Johnston, (Worked on Political Campaigns and in Congress) Written 11 Feb 2015 ; retrieved April 4, 2016 from: https://www.quora.com/Will-US-citizens-be-able-to-cast-their-vote-online-during-the-2016-presidential-election

Online voting seems so logical. What are the obstacles? Why not now? Who is doing it? When will the US (as the world’s leading democracy) see this utility?


These are powerful questions; appropriate ones considering that “power” is the commodity at stake.

Consider this article here based on 2012, that answers a lot of these questions:

Article #1 Title: Why you can’t vote online yet
By: Julianne Pepitone

CNNMoney (New York) – Online voting is taking off in local elections, particularly overseas. But Americans shouldn’t expect to vote for the president on their laptop or iPad anytime soon.

The battle over whether to digitize the voting process has become a full-blown war in the United States, even as countries like Canada, Norway and Australia have increasingly adopted online systems. Proponents say going digital will boost voter turnout, while naysayers cite hacking and other security threats as risks too great to overcome in the near future.

“It’s such a different world than it was 20 years ago, and yet very little has changed in our voting process,” says Rob Weber, a former IT professional at IBM (IBM), who started the blog Cyber the Vote in 2010.

Like many supporters of online voting, Weber points out that many young Americans don’t vote. Bringing the voting process to a format they’re familiar with — a website on a PC, tablet, or even a mobile phone — would overcome the “enthusiasm gap,” he believes.

But that argument hasn’t been enough to bring online voting into the mainstream. For that, Weber places the blame squarely on election officials whom he says aren’t interested in changing the status quo.

“They find online voting culturally distasteful,” Weber says. “They bring up theoretical hacking situations in order to make people afraid of the concept of change. And unfortunately it works.”

Security researchers don’t think those concerns are merely theoretical. Michael Coates, chair of the Open Web Application Security Project (OWASP) and director of security assurance at Firefox maker Mozilla, says hackers will attack anything worth hacking.

“It’s guaranteed that such a system [online voting] would be attacked, for sure,” Coates says. “All important systems, from financial to government, face skilled hackers. There are security flaws in every system; it’s a matter of how you detect and respond to them.”

Home PCs, in particular, are susceptible to a myriad of cyberattacks that could be used to alter a user’s vote.

“Until we can reliably foil malware and viruses — and who knows when that will be — it’s hard to consider a system in which we vote from our home computers,” Coates says.

Such issues have felled some past attempts at online voting in the United States.

In 2004, the military began testing the Secure Electronic Registration and Voting Experiment (SERVE), which would have let service members stationed overseas vote online in the general election. But Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz scrapped the plan after government-commissioned studies warned of extensive security flaws.

Another oft-cited failure came in 2010, when Washington, D.C., conducted a pilot project to allow overseas or military voters to download and return absentee ballots over the Internet. Before opening the system to real voters, D.C. invited the public to evaluate whether the system could be hacked.

It was. Within 36 hours of going live.

A University of Michigan team “found and exploited a vulnerability that gave us almost total control of the server software, including the ability to change votes and reveal voters’ secret ballots,” professor J. Alex Halderman later wrote in a blog post about the hack.

Halderman termed the system “brittle” and proclaimed online voting too dangerous to implement anytime soon.

“It may someday be possible to build a secure method for submitting ballots over the Internet, but in the meantime, such systems should be presumed to be vulnerable based on the limitations of today’s security technology,” he wrote.

Such high-profile debacles are a difficult obstacle for online voting companies like Everyone Counts, says CEO Lori Steele.

“The problem with the D.C. hacking is that it was a less-than-mediocre system run by people who had no experience,” Steele says. “When people use it as an example, it’s like, c’mon — those issues were all security 101.”

Bad PR for any online voting attempt undermines the entire cause, Steele says. Still, California-based Everyone Counts has run online elections for local and municipal contests in U.S. locations including West Virginia, Honolulu, El Paso, Chicago and Washington state, in addition to the United Kingdom and Australia.

CU Blog - Lessons from Regional Elections - Photo 4Everyone Counts uses “military-grade encryption” for its ballots, and can also provide a paper trail for clients who want it, Steele says. A “transparent code” policy allows any client to inspect the company’s source code.

While Steele admits that online voting, like any system, is susceptible to attacks, she thinks the sheer number of devices in the wild would make it difficult for would-be hackers to hit their targets.

“They don’t know which PCs or tablets or phones will be used for voting,” Steele says. “Plus, people talk about paper being the Holy Grail of security, but that is so far from reality.”

The biggest limitation of paper ballots was on display last week, when Hurricane Sandy decimated parts of the northeastern United States. The storm’s destruction cut many voters off from their scheduled polling station.

On Saturday, New Jersey announced that displaced storm victims will qualify as “overseas voters,” meaning they are eligible to vote via e-mail or fax.

“The storm was awful, but it could serve as a wider reminder that we need to reform the system,” says Michelle Shafer, director of communications at Scytl USA.

Scytl’s Spanish parent company has conducted online voting in over 30 countries worldwide. In the U.S., it’s slowly gaining steam. The company has completed online “ballot delivery” — digitally delivering a paper-ballot-like form that voters can fill out and submit — in six U.S. states. Those digital ballots are typically used by military members and overseas residents. It has also run direct online voting for local elections in West Virginia, Florida and Alaska.

“I don’t think we’ll be voting online by [2016’s general election], but my hope is that we’ll continue to take slow and measured steps toward that eventuality,” she adds.

While the United States takes it slow, countries like Canada and Norway continue to expand online voting.

Dean Smith, president and founder of Canada’s leading online-voting firm, Intelivote, says the divide between his home country and the United States is vast. Popular Canadian labor unions have used online voting for years — which means users have grown accustomed to the process — and the country’s ballots tend to be far less complex than those in the United States.

“In general, people here see the benefits of online voting and there’s an acceptance,” Smith says of Canada. “The U.S. would be a great coup, but there are so many academics who made their name by being naysayers. There’s so much fighting about it. Right now, we don’t need the additional problems.”

Source: http://money.cnn.com/2012/11/06/technology/innovation/online-voting-election/ Posted November 6, 2012; retrieved April 4, 2016

VIDEO – How Your Vote Can Be Hacked – http://money.cnn.com/video/technology/2012/10/31/ts-voting-machine-hack.cnnmoney/

The experience in the US is that the politicians do not always represent the majority of the people, but rather the majority of the passionate. This country thusly provides good, bad and ugly examples as lessons for us in the Caribbean, where we do have our own challenges. Many times for Caribbean elections, there is the need for international monitors to observe and report on the fairness of our balloting. In the last few months, there have been elections in numerous Caribbean member-states, i.e. Jamaica and Haiti; (in fact every country must re-vote in 4 – 5 years). These have been fraught with contention and controversy.

We need to be better and do better. Facilitating an efficient election need not be “rocket science”.

The book Go Lean … Caribbean asserts that the current system for Federal campaigns and elections in the US is not the model that the Caribbean would want to emulate – we must do even better than our American counterparts.  This book relates that $5.3 Billion was spent for the 2008 US Federal Elections (Page 116), a lot of it contributed by corporations and Political Action Committees (PACs) so as to peddle influence. Then when the voter turn-out is discouraged or suppressed because of any lack of efficiency, this results in even more influence, as now only the passionate will participate in the election process, as most other people cannot tolerate the dysfunction. Consider the example in the Appendix below of long voting lines in Arizona, suppressing the vote – people cannot wait around for 5 hours – especially in the minority communities.

The model sought for the Caribbean is to facilitate the polling of every vote for everyone wanting to participate in the political process, no matter who they are, where they are, what they are voting for or when they vote. Yes, this means local polling stations in convenient places (private/public) – like the shopping mall example in these photos.

CU Blog - Lessons from Regional Elections - Photo 1 CU Blog - Lessons from Regional Elections - Photo 2 CU Blog - Lessons from Regional Elections - Photo 3

The Go Lean book serves as a roadmap for the introduction and implementation of the technocratic Caribbean Union Trade Federation (CU). It advocates learning lessons from other societies so as to optimize the societal engines of economics, security and governance. Elections are an expression of all three of these branches of society. It should be about the people and their will, not about the power and retaining it. This book, roadmap and movement therefore advocates the CU being deputized/in-sourced to facilitate elections, including online, electronic systems in physical polling and absentee balloting – i.e. Diaspora.

The lesson from regional elections, like Arizona in the Appendix and Florida in the photos, is that the election process must submit to a higher oversight. For the member-states in the US, that oversight is wielded by the US federal government (Executive Branch – Department of Justice – and the Courts). We need similar oversight in the Caribbean; this is embedded in the roadmap for the CU Federation, our regional federal government. Despite our region’s size (only 42 million people in 30 member-states), we can do better than our American neighbors in the election-campaign process. We can be a protégé, not just an American parasite.

The CU’s prime directive, elevating the Caribbean’s economic-security-governing engines, recognizes that the changes the region needs must start first with the adoption of new community ethos and controls: the people need to feel empowered, that  their voice and votes count, no matter their ethnicity, language or minority status. Early in the book, this need was pronounced in the opening Declaration of Interdependence  (Page 12) with these statements:

xi.  Whereas all men are entitled to the benefits of good governance in a free society, “new guards” must be enacted to dissuade the emergence of incompetence, corruption, nepotism and cronyism at the peril of the people’s best interest. The Federation must guarantee the executions of a social contract between government and the governed.

xii. Whereas the legacy in recent times in individual states may be that of ineffectual governance with no redress to higher authority, the accedence of this Federation will ensure accountability and escalation of the human and civil rights of the people for good governance, justice assurances, due process and the rule of law. As such, any threats of a “failed state” status for any member state must enact emergency measures on behalf of the Federation to protect the human, civil and property rights of the citizens, residents, allies, trading partners, and visitors of the affected member state and the Federation as a whole.

The Go Lean book, and previous blog/commentaries, stressed the key community ethos, strategies, tactics, implementation and advocacies necessary to effect change in the region, to improve the oversight of the governing process. They are detailed as follows:

Community Ethos – Economic Principles Page 21
Community Ethos – Security Principles – Private Interest –vs- Public Protection Page 23
Community Ethos – Security Principles – “Light Up Dark Place” Page 23
Community Ethos – Governing Principles – Lean Operations Page 24
Community Ethos – Ways to Impact the Future – Give the Youth a Voice & Vote Page 26
Community Ethos – Impact Research and Development – Develop Technology Page 30
Community Ethos – Ways to Impact Turn-around Page 33
Community Ethos – Ways to Impact the Greater Good Page 37
Strategy – Mission – Embrace the advances of technology Page 47
Strategy – CU Stakeholders to Protect – Diaspora Page 47
Tactical – Separation-of-Powers – Secretary of State – Elections Bureau Page 80
Anecdote – Turning Around CARICOM – Deputized for election oversight Page 92
Implementation – Assemble Caribbean Election Oversight as Cooperative Page 96
Implementation – Assemble Constitutional Convention – Start of federal elections Page 97
Implementation – Ways to Impact Elections Page 116
Planning – 10 Big Ideas – Cyber Caribbean Page 127
Planning – Ways to Improve Failed-State Indices – Election Outsourcing Page 134
Planning – Lessons Learned from US Constitution Page 145
Planning – Ways to Measure Progress Page 147
Advocacy – Ways to Grow the Economy Page 151
Advocacy – Ways to Foster Technology – Heavy focus on systems Page 197
Advocacy – Ways to Foster e-Commerce Page 198
Advocacy – Ways to Promote Contact Centers – Big Data Analysis Page 212

The points of effective, technocratic regional oversight and stewardship were further elaborated upon in these previous blog/commentaries:

http://www.goleancaribbean.com/blog/?p=7646 Going from ‘Good to Great’
http://www.goleancaribbean.com/blog/?p=7528 Sample Vision of 1 City, Freeport, as a Self-Governing Entity
http://www.goleancaribbean.com/blog/?p=7204 ‘The Covenant with Black America’ – Ten Years Later
http://www.goleancaribbean.com/blog/?p=6965 Secrecy, corruption and conflicts of interest pervade state governments
http://www.goleancaribbean.com/blog/?p=6937 Women in Politics – Yes, They Can!
http://www.goleancaribbean.com/blog/?p=5353 POTUS and the Internet
http://www.goleancaribbean.com/blog/?p=4935 A Lesson in History – the ‘Grand Old Party’
http://www.goleancaribbean.com/blog/?p=3397 Bankers Campaign Contributions-Lobbying End Game
http://www.goleancaribbean.com/blog/?p=356 The Use & Abuse of Statistics in Politics

If we want to make our homeland a better place to live, work and play then we must learn/apply lessons from other communities and societies. We can protect the right to vote and give all people a voice by implementing technologically advanced electoral solutions. We can learn from Arizona and do better. Let’s not be blinded to the truth:

Opinion: “In the US, there are 2 main political parties: one with the population (Democrats), and one with the passion (Republicans)”. The Republicans depend on vote suppression tactics (i.e. Voter ID requirements) to win elections – it is not how much support one have, it is how many turn up to vote. Online voting would scare these stakeholders. So the other lesson we can learn and apply from places like Canada, Norway and Australia, is to deploy the online voting, and let the “chips fall where they may”; parties will simply adjust, the people’s voices will be heard and the leaders – survival of the fittest – will respond in kind.

We must look beyond the US for protégé models. We must do better; we must be better!

The Go Lean movement advocates being a protégé, not parasite, of our North American and European trading partners. These places are “frienemies” of the Caribbean now; we get our tourism from these source countries, yes, but we also lose our emigrants to them as well – the Caribbean brain drain is estimated at 70 percent. We must now seek out solutions that encourage participation in the nation-building process. We have no other choice, the alternative is more abandonment of our society.

This is the purpose of the Go Lean roadmap, to provide a turn-by-turn direction to accomplish the needed turn-round. The Go Lean roadmap does not seek to change America and their voting strategies and systems; our only focus is to change the Caribbean. Yes, we can! 🙂

Download the free e-Book of Go Lean … Caribbean – now!


Appendix -Article (#2): The DOJ Is Investigating Arizona’s Election Mess
By: Samantha Lachman, Staff Reporter and Ryan J Reilly, Senior Justice Reporter

People wait to vote in U.S. presidential primary election outside polling site in ArizonaWASHINGTON — The federal government is investigating Arizona’s most populous county after its dramatic decrease in voting sites led to long lines during the state’s primary last month.

Elizabeth Bartholomew, communications manager for the the Recorder’s Office in MaricopaCounty, said the office received a letter from the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division on Friday. Bartholomew said the feds want specific data about the office’s reason for cutting the number of polling places. She said the office “absolutely” plans to cooperate with the investigation and to provide federal officials with the requested information in the coming weeks.

“We have no problem cooperating with them, so we should have that over to them over the next couple of weeks,” she told The Huffington Post on Monday.

The county cut its voting sites from 200 during the 2012 presidential primary to just 60 for this year’s March 22 primary. Some Arizona voters reported waiting in line for five hours to cast their ballot, long after the GOP race was called for reality television star Donald Trump and the Democratic primary was called for former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Maricopa County Recorder Helen Purcell (R), who is in charge of the county’s elections, partially blamed “the voters, for getting in line,” but later admitted that the county made “bad decisions” and “miscalculated” how many voting sites it would need.

County officials argued earlier this year that having fewer sites would save money. Purcell recommended that the county’s Board of Supervisors reduce the number of polling sites because her office suspected more people would vote early by mail. However, fewer people voted by mail than the office had predicted.

The county probably wouldn’t have been able to cut as many polling places as it did if the full force of the Voting Rights Act was still in effect; the Supreme Court gutted the landmark civil rights legislation in a controversial 5-4 decision in 2013. Before that ruling, states with a long history of racial discrimination, such as Arizona, were required to get permission from the DOJ or in federal court to change their election procedures or laws. States asking for approval of their proposed election changes had to show that such measures wouldn’t leave voters of color worse off.

But, as Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton (D) pointed out in a letter asking the DOJ to investigate the county, Maricopa “distributed fewer polling locations to parts of the county with higher minority populations.”

Stanton wrote that Phoenix, a majority-minority city, had one polling place for every 108,000 residents, while predominantly white communities hosted more polling sites for significantly smaller populations.

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R) said in a statement after the primary that he wanted election officials to investigate why lines outside polling places were so long. He called for making the state’s primaries open, rather than closed, so independent voters could participate, without mentioning that the state should allocate more funds to open more polling sites.

Lines weren’t the only problem in Maricopa, however. Some voters reported that the county had switched their party registration, possibly due to a computer glitch. Thousands of voters were forced to cast provisional ballots as a result.
Source: Huffington Post Online News; posted and retrieved 04/04/2016 from: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/justice-department-arizona_us_5702b720e4b083f5c6085933
Aligning VIDEO: https://youtu.be/y_6kaWYjwCk

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