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2016-11-02 / Featured / Front Page

County registrar debunks election myths

Election 2016
By Jim McConnell
STAFF WRITER


Chesterfield County Registrar Larry Haake with ballot counting machines that will be used in the upcoming election. He says the machines aren’t connected to the internet and can’t be hacked. 
James Haskins/Chesterfield Observer Chesterfield County Registrar Larry Haake with ballot counting machines that will be used in the upcoming election. He says the machines aren’t connected to the internet and can’t be hacked. James Haskins/Chesterfield Observer Larry Haake, mythbuster?

Chesterfield’s registrar took a few minutes out of his presentation to the Board of Supervisors last week to dispel what he called “misinformation” that has “flooded our emails and telephones” in the days leading up to the Nov. 8 election.

Here are a few of the claims he shot down:

Voting machines can be hacked

“Our voting machines are stand-alone smart devices. They don’t connect to one another. They don’t connect to the internet. They don’t connect to anything,” Haake said.

“They’re programmed in-house. Every machine is tested before every election, with the ballots that are going to be used in that election, to make sure they’re reading the ballots properly and that their count is accurate.”

Haake noted that he and his staff have participated in several post-election audits, where they take actual ballots and perform a hand count that is then compared to the machines’ vote counts.

“I’m happy to tell you in every instance, they’ve been proven to be 100 percent accurate,” he added. “Confidence is high in the accuracy of our machines and thus the accuracy of the ultimate vote count. There can be no hacking.”

The election is rigged

Without mentioning him by name, Haake took direct aim at Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump and his oft-repeated assertion that the election has been “rigged” in favor of Democratic Party nominee Hillary Clinton.

“That’s actually a direct affront to people like me because we’re the ones who run the election, and we’re the ones who would have to rig it,” Haake said.

On Election Day, there will be 1,200 election officials working at Chesterfield’s 76 voting precincts.

“That’s quite a lot of people to get to commit to this overall conspiracy. I don’t know how anyone could achieve that,” he added.

George Soros owns the county’s voting machines

This item dovetails somewhat with the first two, as part of a seemingly concerted effort to undermine confidence in the election results.

Enter the search terms “Soros” and “voting machines” into Google and you’ll find any number of websites claiming that billionaire George Soros, a Democrat mega-donor, owns a company that manufactures voting machines used in 16 states.

The theory, apparently, is that Soros intends to program the machines to favor Clinton.

A White House petition seeking to remove Soros-owned voting machines currently has more than 60,000 signatures. Soros, however, has no ownership stake in the company in question, Londonbased Smartmatic.

“Some of our people in Chesterfield are concerned about that. They need not be,” Haake said. “Our machines are not owned by anybody with that name.”

Just to be clear, Smartmatic issued a statement last week noting that none of its voting machines will be used in the U.S. during next week’s election.

Thousands of ‘illegal aliens’ have registered to vote

A report issued last month by two third-party watchdog groups, the Public Interest Legal Foundation and the Virginia Voters Alliance, alleges that its sample of eight Virginia counties – including Chesterfield – revealed that 1,046 non-citizens had registered to vote.

Based on their findings, the groups concluded the “problem is most certainly exponentially worse” because they hadn’t been able to obtain data from 117 other Virginia counties.

The state Senate’s Privileges and Elections committee convened a special meeting to discuss the report, titled “Alien Invasion in Virginia,” other claims of voter registration fraud and problems with Virginia’s new voter registration system.

State Sen. Amanda Chase, who sits on the committee, said it was important to “get to the bottom of the issue and find out what’s true and what’s not.”

But Haake discredited the report’s findings on Chase’s weekly radio show, saying that 95 percent of the “non-citizens” identified in the report were actually citizens who mistakenly checked the wrong box on their voter registration applications.

Haake reiterated that stance last week.

“That report is based on bad data,” he added. “The authors have been told that, but they have not chosen to stand down from their claim.”

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