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An Appearance of Guilt

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The accumulated weight of evidence of election fraud statistical, circumstantial, and anecdotal has failed to move the mainstream media to report or investigate this evidence, or the Democratic party to acknowledge and protest the apparent Republican control of our elections.

This essay is not yet another account of that evidence, which I have spelled out extensively and which I firmly believe to be compelling.

Instead, I wish to deal with another indicator that our national elections no longer represent the will of the voters, but rather are manipulated to produce the outcome desired by the "winning" candidates and party. This indicator is the behavior of those who manufacture, program, and operate the paperless, unauditable machines (direct recording electronic: "DRE"), and those who benefit from this technology.

Perhaps this new electronic voting technology is as honest and reliable as the private election industry and the winning candidates tell us it is. However, they simply do not behave as if this were the case.

My contention might be illustrated by this parable:

Suppose that a drug-sniffing dog at an airport identifies a suspicious piece of luggage. The customs officer then locates the individual whose name is on the tag, and orders him to open it. Now suppose further that this person then proceeds to do one or more of the following:

a) He denies that the luggage is his.

b) He calls his lawyer who presents an injunction against further inspection of the luggage.
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c) He claims that he is a diplomat, and thus not subject to luggage inspection.

d) He offers a bribe to the inspector if he will "forget the whole thing."

Might one not suspect that the traveler was trying to hide something?

The dog then gets back to work, and soon identifies another bag, and the owner of this parcel is identified and ordered to open the luggage for inspection. He does so willingly and without qualm, having packed the bag himself and thus knowing that there is no contraband therein. He is also aware that the dog has a record of 30% false positives.

Which of these two responses more closely resembles the behavior of the DRE manufacturers (Diebold, ES&S and Sequoia), of the Republican Congress, and of the Republican National Committee? Are the DRE manufacturers and the Republicans acting in a manner consistent with their claims that "e-voting" is both honest and accurate? Or are they behaving as if they have something to hide?
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Here are a few indicators. Because there are so many, I will be brief. For details and documentation, follow the links:

-- First and foremost: DRE machines use secret software and produce no separate record of the voting to allow auditing and validation of the votes. Thus, by design, it is impossible either to prove or disprove directly the accuracy of the vote totals of a DRE machine or the neutrality of the software. (However, there is abundant indirect evidence of e-voting fraud: statistical, anecdotal and circumstantial evidence. But that 's another topic).

-- The manufacturers and programmers of DREs (all of whom have close ties with the Republican Party) insist that their software ("source codes") must be kept secret for no apparent and defensible reason. (They claim to be concerned about copyright infringement. But music, essays, fiction, drama, etc., all are public by nature, and yet all are protected by copyright).

-- The e-voting manufacturers also make ATM machines and automated gas pumps, both of which produce paper receipts. Yet they steadfastly resist demands that their "touch screen" voting machines produce printouts, which might then serve to validate the accuracy of the votes.

-- DRE manufacturers will not allow "test hacks" of randomly selected machines. (Unauthorized hacks have proven DREs to be extremely vulnerable to fraudulent manipulation. So too a recent report by the non-partisan Government Accountability Office: a report that has been virtually ignored by the mainstream press).

-- A bill by Congressman Rush Holt (D-NJ) that would require validated printed paper receipts of the votes and random inspection of the DRE machines has been locked up in committee by the Congressional Republicans. A discharge petition, which would allow a vote on the bill, is unavailing, due to insufficient support by the Republicans.

-- In 2000, computer programmer Clinton Curtis was asked by a GOP congressional candidate, Tom Feeney, to create a software program that would alter vote counts in favor of the Republicans. Curtis testified to this under oath, signed an affidavit, and took a polygraph test. Of course, Feeney, now a congressman, denies Curtis ' allegations, but unlike Curtis, Feeney refuses to state his denial under oath or to submit to a polygraph.

-- In California, Stephen Heller, a temporary employee of Diebold Election Systems, obtained copies of memos indicating that Diebold may have used uncertified voting systems in the 2004 primary and suggesting that thousands of voters might be disenfranchised in subsequent elections. Heller 's "reward" for blowing this whistle? He was charged with three felony counts and, if convicted, could serve more than three years in state prison.

-- In 2004, California Secretary of State Kevin Shelley decertified Diebold DRE machines. In a special recall election, Republican Arnold Schwarznegger replaced Democrat Gray Davis. Kevin Shelley was then harassed and forced out of office and replaced by Republican Bruce McPherson, who "conditionally" recertified the Diebold machines. (These are two types of machines: Optical scan with paper ballots, and "TSX" with touch-screens and no paper record. It is the paperless TSX machines that are especially vulnerable to undetectable manipulation and fraud." There is a heated debate within the election reform community as to whether Optical Scanning is an acceptable improvement over DREs, or whether, on the other hand, only hand counted paper ballots will do. But that's a topic for another essay).

-- The Alaska "flip-flop." The Republican state government of Alaska refused to release to the Alaska Democrats the Diebold database files from the 2004 election on the grounds that it was "a company secret." (These were records of a public election, mind you). After persistent requests, the state relented albeit under very restrictive conditions. But then, just two weeks ago, the state again denied the request, claiming that it was a "security risk" to the state of Alaska.

-- December 20, 2005: Rather than obey a North Carolina law requiring that source codes be made public, Diebold withdrew its machines from the state elections.

There is much more, which you might find here and here. But this much suffices to make my point.

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Dr. Ernest Partridge is a consultant, writer and lecturer in the field of Environmental Ethics and Public Policy. Partridge has taught philosophy at the University of California, and in Utah, Colorado and Wisconsin. He publishes the website, "The (more...)

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