Hugh Pickens writes "The Iowa Republican Party is boosting the security of the electronic systems it will use to count the first votes of the 2012 presidential campaign after receiving a mysterious threat to its computers in a video urging its supporters to shut down the Iowa caucuses .... 'It's very clear the data consolidation and data gathering from the caucuses, which determines the headlines the next morning, who might withdraw or resign from the process, all of that is fragile,' says Douglas Jones, a computer science professor at the University of Iowa who has consulted for both political parties. The state GOP fears such a delay could disrupt the traditional influence of Iowa's first-in-the-nation vote. 'With the eyes of the media on the state, the last thing we want to do is have a situation where there is trouble with the reporting system,' says Wes Enos, a member of the Iowa GOP's central committee. The GOP is encouraging party activists who run the precinct votes to use paper ballots instead of a show of hands, which has been the practice in some areas so the ballots can provide a backup in the event of any later confusion about the results. 'There is really only one way — and it needn't be a secret — to help assure that results cannot easily be manipulated by either Anonymous or by GOP officials themselves,' writes Brad Friedman. 'The hand-counted paper ballot system, with decentralized results posted at the "precincts," is the only way to try and protect against manipulation of the results from either insiders or outsiders.'"
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