Nothing builds confidence in voting systems like machines getting stolen out of a grocery-store parking lot, eh? Officials in Cobb County have some explaining to do after admitting that a precinct manager had left secure polling computers with voter registration information in the back of his car — and that the county board of elections delayed notifying the state for two days prior to the election. WSB-TV reports that the state has replaced the computers, but still doesn’t have any good answers as to what happened:
State officials are investigating after equipment was taken from a Cobb County precinct manager’s vehicle. According to Secretary of State Brian Kemp, the equipment was stolen on Saturday evening while the vehicle was parked at the Kroger on Canton Road.
Kemp’s office says Cobb County Elections waited two days to tell his office about the theft of the machines. …
Cobb County Elections Director Janine Eveler said the stolen machines cannot be used to fraudulently vote in Tuesday’s election. Eveler said the machines have voter information on them, but that information is “hard to access.”
Shouldn’t the machines themselves be “hard to access”? The stolen machines don’t have any part in casting or counting the ballots, but instead regulate the registration process and ensure against voter fraud. At some point those machines have to get transported to the polling station in each precinct, but that should happen in a secure manner given the sensitive nature of the data involved. At the very least, they should not be left unattended outside of secured areas, and a locked car in a Kroger’s parking lot hardly qualifies. Does state regulation address this, and mandate any reporting of violations within a specific time frame? If so, then it might not just be the thieves who will have problems with the law.
Voters interviewed by WSB seem much more concerned about the potential exposure to identity theft than voter fraud in today’s election, and rightly so — especially with the two-day head start given to the thieves. Don’t expect activists on either side to be as sanguine after tonight’s results get reported. If Ossoff wins 50% or more in the runoff, Republicans will cry foul, and if he doesn’t, Democrats will do so instead. (Worth noting: Cobb County elected officials are almost all Republican.) It won’t be fair in either case unless the result really comes down to a few dozen votes, and even then will be difficult to blame on the theft of these machines rather than the actual balloting and counting machines, but … what activists ever let fairness get in the way of a good post-election failure narrative? Looking at you, Team Hillary and Jill Stein.
And these days, it won’t take much to get everyone else paranoid, too. “With so many voters already skeptical, Ross,” the anchor remarks, “that’s not really a good thing.” No kidding.