Well, whaddaya know? Suddenly, after all these years of warnings from The BRAD BLOG that electronic voting systems are exceedingly vulnerable to manipulation by insider election officials as well as outside hackers from almost anywhere, such as China or Iran or even al Qaeda, the GOP is now worried about electronic vote hacking in their Iowa Caucuses on January 3rd.
"Their fear," as AP reports today, is triggered by little more than a two-minute video posted on the Internet in early November, purportedly created by the "hacktivist" collective known as Anonymous, calling on members, in a trademark computer-generated voice, to "peacefully shut down the first-in-the-nation Iowa caucuses." [The complete video is posted at the end of this article.]
Progressive radio and television host Thom Hartmann covered the AP story on his radio show this morning, suggesting that while the GOP may have concerns about Anonymous shutting down or manipulating the results of the Iowa caucuses, they may also attempt to use the opportunity of heightened security to ensure that Republican candidate Ron Paul is not named the winner. A poll released last night by Public Policy Polling (PPP) shows Paul vaulting into the lead in Iowa, as previous front-runner Newt Gingrich's numbers have collapsed in the Hawkeye State. Paul now leads over Romney in Iowa, according to PPP's poll, with 23%, followed by Romney at 20% and Gingrich at 14%.
According to AP's report, the GOP is now concerned about "an Iowa caucus marred by hackers who corrupt the database used to gather votes and crash the website used to inform the public about results that can shape the campaign for the White House."
They go on to report that "Experts in computer security said such concerns are valid."
Unfortunately, however, it appears as though the steps the GOP are planning to take to try and counter the threat will do little ensure the public can trust the results that the party eventually reports to the public. (In the Iowa Caucuses, party officials, rather than state election officials, tally and report results to the media and public.)
If Republicans in Iowa, or anywhere else for that matter, truly fear the manipulation of results, there is only one way to help make such manipulation as difficult as possible. Similarly, if supporters of Ron Paul are concerned about same --- and they have every good reason to be, particularly considering the well-documented history of vote manipulation by supporters of Mitt Romney in the past --- they ought to be calling for the very same solution to help ensure the integrity of results in Iowa (and, frankly, everywhere else) in 2012...