This is written for those of you who know something's rotten, but haven't made the plunge into this the greatest untold story in our history. I have only compiled a small part of the available information. This is not my work so much as my collecting some of the work of a few of the committed activists mentioned in here. There are many others who are not mentioned - all of whom have made a commitment to spend part of their time resisting what is essentially the take over of our democracy. I know there's a large number of people who know some of the pieces of this story of election theft, but don't quite know where to get an overview.
Northeast Citizens for Responsible Media (Re-Media) will be holding screenings of documentaries dealing with our elections and holding forums, bringing together experts to share additional information and answer people's questions. Hopefully this will give those of you who recognize the importance of this issue, a starting point to learn more. *
We are in the midst of what will hopefully be recalled as a very dark period in the history of the United States. Because we're in the middle of it and because the corporate press has ceased to function as the independent watchdog the Constitution intended, the majority of people don't know we are now forced to vote on machines which can readily steal and have stolen our votes.
Most Americans still believe that government is, or at least should be, accountable to the people and when you give them the information of how all states (except NY, for the moment) have been forced to vote on these electronic voting machines which at best are shoddy, faulty, easily compromised and breakdown regularly, and at worst have been regularly hacked in the past few elections they can't even take it in because it doesn't jive with their reality. Add to that the fact that there is no functional certification process for these machines, security is non existent, numerous studies have demonstrated the ease of rigging an election, plus the documented evidence of widespread computer "glitches", almost all of which favored Republicans and you have what should be the biggest story since the birth of the nation (it has been suggested that the second biggest story may be the silence of the press)
If we are still a democratic republic then all legitimate power emanates from we the people and the way we exercise that power is through the vote. The only way for the people to maintain control over their elections is to have public supervision and oversight, especially of the vote counting. Computerized voting machines deprive citizens and their government officials of their right to observe and supervise the people's election. It is simply not possible to observe what goes on inside the black box of the computer. Both touch-screen computers (DREs) [with or without paper trails] and Optical Scan counters (OSs) (which count the paper ballot a voter fills out by her/his own hand) eliminate the needed transparency, but DREs are worse than OSs because at least with OSs, there are paper ballots which can theoretically be recounted.
If regular citizens can no longer verify that their votes are properly counted we've lost our ability to be a free, self-governing people. The Orwellian Help America Vote Act (HAVA) required every state to surrender citizen oversight and control of their elections to an oligopoly, which includes people with shocking conflicts of interest, felons, corporate interests with a powerful profit motive for getting certain people into office, and others beholden to their right wing Republican investors.
This is the scandalous story of how racketeering, corruption, fraud and deception resulted in a few companies dominating the computer voting machine market just in time to receive the $4 billion dollar hand out from the federal government. These few companies manufacture both the DREs and the OSs that the states have been forced to buy. What sort of voting machine can possibly be the fruit of this venomous tree with its rotting, diseased branches?
We must all actively work to reject these voting machines which can and will steal our votes and rob of us our ability to control our election and retain our days as free people. The irony (or perhaps the point) is the changes that are needed to eliminate these theft-enabling devices are far more simple and far less expensive than anything Congress seems willing to consider. We don't need to spend our taxes (as proposed in the Holt bill) on more high tech equipment and pour millions more into a testing and certification processes that will never serve to secure our elections, but rather will only serve to feed these Voting Vendor Vultures. We need paper ballots, hand counted in public view in sufficient amounts to overcome the potential for fraud on the Optical Scanner, should we still employ the Scanner to assist in the counting. We need to return citizen oversight and control to the people, who should not have to rely on a computer expert to know whether their votes were counted as cast. We need to take back our election system or forfeit what's left of our democracy.
HOW TWO VOTING MACHINE COMPANIES CAME TO COUNT 80% OF AMERICA'S VOTES
The electronic voting machine industry is dominated by only a few corporations - Election Systems & Software (ES&S), Diebold, Sequoia and Hart Intercivic, but ES&S and Diebold dominate the field: Together they count an estimated 80% of U.S. electronic votes. Looking back at the history of mergers and acquisitions which produced these two giants, one must question if there really is a difference between them. Bob Urosevich is currently president of Diebold and Todd Urosevich is vice president of ES&S. The two brothers started out together in the early days of the electronic voting industry (1980s) and now together they control the market.
Election Systems and Software (ES&S): Mergers, Acquisitions, Dubious Investors and Conflicts of Interest
Todd and Bob Urosevich founded ES&S's seminal corporation, Data Mark, in the early 1980s. In 1984, the two brothers obtained financing from the far-right Ahmanson family who purchased a 68% ownership interest. The company's name was then changed to American Information Systems (AIS). In 1987 the Amhansons sold their shares in AIS to Omaha World-Herald (45%) and the McCarthy Group (35%) .
Omaha World-Herald was owned by Peter Kiewit, the head of Peter Kiewit Sons' Inc. As Bev Harris noted in Hacked! High Tech Election Theft in America, "if anything is less appropriate than Chuck Hagel's ties to ES&S, it would be a Kiewit relationship of any kind to any voting system vendor." (See endnote 7 regarding Senator Hagel's ownership in the voting machine
company whose machines were used to count his votes).
Peter Kiewit Sons' Inc. and its subsidiaries have been involved with a string of bid-rigging cases in 11 states and 2 countries:
In an antitrust case that involved charges of bid-rigging in New Orleans, Kiewit pleaded no contest and paid $100,000 in fines and $300,000 in a civil settlement.
In South Dakota, a Kiewit subsidiary pleaded guilty to bid-rigging on road contracts and paid a fine of $350,000.
In Kansas, a Kiewit subsidiary was found guilty of bid-rigging and mail fraud on a federal highway project. The firm was fined $900,000 and a company official was sentenced to a year in jail.
In Nebraska, a Kiewit subsidiary paid $1.8 million for bid-rigging on a state highway project and a Kiewit vice president was jailed.
When the state of Oklahoma forbade Kiewit to bid on any projects, Kiewit set up a different company and lied in a sworn affidavit to the transportation department saying it had no parent company, affiliate firms or subsidiaries. When Oklahoma found out, it pulled all of Kiewit's contracts.
Continuing in its deceitful practices, Peter Kiewit & Sons took contracts in Washington State under the guise of a minority-owned firm. Kiewit paid more than $700,000 in fines.
In 1997 AIS acquired election-industries giant Business Records Corp (BRC), formerly a Texas-based election company "embarked on such an acquisitions blitz you'd almost think they
wanted to corner the elections industry". Upon purchasing BRC, AIS changed its name to Elections Systems and Software (ES&S). Apparently the SEC objected to the merger of BRC and AIS on antitrust grounds, but for some reason the SEC withdrew its objection after an arrangement was made in which the assets of BRC were shared between ES&S and Sequoia, the third largest voting machine vendor.
Just about the same time that AIS bought up BRC to become ES&S, curiously Bob Urosevich, one of the two founding brothers of what is now ES&S, moved to Global Election Systems (which subsequently became Diebold Elections Systems).
Diebold Election Systems: Early Founders and High-Level Employees Were Convicted Felons:
Diebold Election Systems (Diebold) was formed when in 2002 Diebold Inc. of Ohio acquired Global Election Systems, Inc. a Canadian Company. Global Election Systems (Global) was originally 'Macrotrends' at its founding in 1988. Macrotrends had a US subsidiary, North American Professional Technologies (NAPT), which became the manufacturing body of Global and later Diebold.
Norton Cooper - who marketed for NAPT and Macrotrends had been jailed for defrauding the Canadian government in 1974. He also served a year in jail in the mid-1980s for fraud against the Canada government; he was part of the collapse of the Vancouver stock exchange and was ordered by decree not to pitch stock after 1992 or so because, in the words of Barron's and Forbes, he was a "hazard to avoid at the golf course".
Charles Hong Lee - a director of both NAPT and Macrotrends was Cooper's partner pitching deals, stock schemes, etc. Lee was ordered to pay $555,380 in restitution when he and Norton were sued. In 1994 Lee and another partner, Michael Graye, defrauded 43 Chinese immigrants out of $614,547 which fees were paid to a corporation controlled by Lee and Graye.
Michael K. Graye - When in 1991 NAPT and Macrotrends were reorganized and the name changed to Global Election Systems, Graye became a director. In 1996 Graye was arrested on tax fraud and money laundering charges, but before he was sentenced in Canada he was indicted in the US on stock-fraud charges in another company he ran with Lee. He spent 4 years in prison. In April 2003 he admitted to the misappropriation of $18 million from 4 corporations and tax fraud back in the late 1980s. He was returned to prison.
By the time Diebold had taken over Global in 2002, the above people were gone, mostly due to jail terms. But the programmers they'd hired and managed are now key people in Diebold and some of them are convicted felons as well.
Jeffrey Dean had been convicted in the early 1990s of 23 counts of computer-aided embezzlement . He was a computer consultant for a large Seattle law firm and defrauded them of about $450,000 in what US courts called a "sophisticated computer-aided scheme". Dean was made a director of Global in 2000 and then made head of research and development with access to all components of the voting system.
John Elder - is a convicted cocaine trafficker who met Dean in prison. By the late1990s Elder handled ballot printing for Global and went on to direct the punch card printing.
Talbot Iredale had been designing and programming voting machines for Diebold Elections Systems and its predecessors since 1988. No one has discovered a criminal record, but he has have been involved in Global from day one (1988) and was one of the first employees directly hired by Cooper, Lee and Graye. He is now the chief technical officer of Diebold. (Iredale was Global's master programmer at the time of the 2000 election. Two months after the election an internal memo from Iredale blamed the problem which cause the networks to call the election for Bush (that had then caused Gore to concede) on a memory card that had allegedly been improperly uploaded. According to the RFK Jr. article, Will the Next Election by Hacked?, Iredale conceded, "There is always the possibility that the 'second memory card' or 'second upload' came from an unauthorized source." Iredale was also involved in the debacle that was the first all-Diebold election in Georgia in 2002, see below).
Sophia Lee - no known criminal record, probably a relative of Charles Hong Lee. Sophia Lee stole an entire active voting database on March 5, 2002 from the San Luis Obispo County California elections office, taking the entire database of votes as of 3:31pm on election day (primaries) and uploading it to the Global (later Diebold) site on election day. That would have been enough time for Sophia Lee to relay information to Charles Hong Lee and get stock bids in before closing. (See also Steven Freeman's Was the 2004 Presidential Election Stolen?, describing the Iowa Electronic Market where one can wager on election outcomes).
Global Election Systems was formally purchased by Diebold Inc. in January 2002 and at that time Jeffrey Dean became a paid consultant to Diebold while John Elder took over Diebold's national printing division. Six weeks later Diebold landed the biggest voting-machine order in history: The $54 million conversion of the entire state of Georgia to touch-screen voting on paperless DREs.
CRIME PAYS - AND JUST IN TIME TO REAP THE BILLIONS DOLLAR GIVEAWAY OF THE 2002 HELP AMERICA VOTE ACT
(should really be renamed the Help Corporate America Vote Act)
In 2002 the new computer tally, which had become the 'official' record, delivered Georgia to the Republicans helping to give them the one party dominance they exploited. There were no paper ballots to recount and no attempt to explain how the popular incumbent Democratic Senator, war-hero Max Cleland, was defeated by Saxby Chambliss, who had avoided service in Vietnam with a "medical deferment" and ran ads calling Cleland unpatriotic. The BBC captured Georgia voters' reaction in a headline" "GEORGIA UPSET STUNS DEMOCRATS" and wrote "Mr. Cleland an army veteran who lost three limbs in a grenade explosion during the Vietnam War has long been considered 'untouchable' on questions of defense and national security."
Cleland had enjoyed a comfortable 5 point lead going into the election, but somehow lost to Chambliss by 46% to 53% a remarkable 12 percentage point discrepancy between the opinion poll and the 'official' count. Not much attention was paid to the highly unusual and unexplained swing; nor to the fact that Georgia had become the first state in the country to conduct an entire election exclusively with DREs and that the entire election was run not by the government, but by Diebold.
Nor had there been much attention paid to the fact that the president of Diebold's Election Unit, Bob Urosevich, paid a personal visit to Georgia shortly before the primaries just to distribute a "patch". Later at least two more secret and unauthorized patches were installed on Georgia's purportedly newly certified DREs, just prior to the 2002 election.
Talbot Iredale, one of the original Diebold programmers (mentioned above), had modified the Windows operating system used in Georgia, but no one ever checked what was modified. A single individual had unchecked access to a million votes at once the biggest security breach in the history of the US electoral system, but no one paid much attention to that either.
The 2002 Congressional Elections or How One Party Took Total Control of All Branches of the Government
The Republicans only needed two seats to take control of the Senate. Between Chuck Hagel's assured victory in Nebraska (where the votes were counted on his machines and the law conveniently forbade a recount, see endnote 7) and Georgia's being taken over by Diebold, the government was literally theirs for the taking. As Hagel's 2002 opponent Charlie Matulka said in response to his defeat, "They can take over our country without firing a shot just by taking over our election systems".
Georgia is unfortunately far from an isolated incident. In 5 short years since the implementation of HAVA wherein Americans have been compelled to surrender their remaining rights to public oversight and control of their elections to private, corrupt vendors infected by conflicts of interest, criminal histories and utter lack of accountability an overwhelming body of evidence has grown which is breathless in its implications. Most of this evidence is unknown by the American public (and its politicians) because mainstream media has censored much of it and distorted the rest.
Not only don't most Americans know about the regular breakdowns of the voting machines, the flipped votes, the secret proprietary software and secret vote counting, the Trojan horse which can be implanted to steal an election and leave no trace, the misplaced and displaced memory cards, faulty chips, etc. they are also ignorant about the likes of those who have invested in this private oligopoly or the fact that no one is really overseeing this brave new American voting system (see subheading later in this article, The Voting Machines We Vote on Have not Been Properly Tested Nor Certified). And because we tend to believe that this level of corruption or incompetence or both would never be tolerated in the United States, it is very difficult for people to accept that the thousands of "glitches" experienced by these voting machines are not random: they tend to favor one party. If the thousands of "glitches" had randomly occurred, one could simply conclude that these machines were just of inferior quality. But if you toss a coin in the air 100 times, the likelihood that it will land on heads 90 times is not random or statistically probable. The evidence of the last few elections took the form of extremely improbable or outright impossible occurrences, a few more examples of which are outlined below.
In the 2002 midterm elections, public opinion polls (Zogby and Harris, for eg. were within a ½ % point margin of error in 2000 [except of course in Florida] and in previous elections) had predicted Democrats winning in numerous key battleground states (Georgia, Minnesota, Colorado). But then unexplained, extraordinary last minute swings resulted in these races going to the Republicans. Remarkably these last minute improbable swings appear to have been concentrated in critical senate races thus sealing Republican control of the Senate.
In Minnesota Senator Paul Wellstone was leading by 5 points when he was killed in a small plane crash just days before the election. Former vice-president Walter Mondale took Wellstone's place and retained the 5 point lead against Republican Norm Coleman (Coleman had a 100% approval rating from the Christian Coalition). When the optical scan counters were done counting the vote, somehow Coleman had beat Mondale by 50 to 47 percent, a statistically remarkable 8 point swing! (The race was counted on OS readers, but Mondale apparently didn't think to ask for a recount)
In Colorado, a Zogby poll just before the election put Democrat Tom Strickland leading Republican Wayne Allard with a comfortable 5 point lead. Allard (who also happened to have one of those 100% approval ratings from the Christian Coalition) experienced another miracle come from behind victory, winning by 70,000 votes - a seven point swing. (DREs were used in a number of counties, collectively accounting for over 750,000 votes).
The 2004 Presidential Election or How the Incumbent Party Retained Its Stranglehold on All Branches of Government
Both the illegal and quasi-legal efforts to suppress votes by partisan election officials in key states, as well as manipulations of the voting systems, grew with the growing "success" of each election. The disgrace of 2000 and the disaster of 2002 was surpassed by the nightmare of 2004.
By the 2004 election Bush's approval ratings were extremely low, but national turnout that year was extremely high (in fact the highest since 1968 when another unpopular war swept the ruling party from the White House). Winning a re-election with a disapproval rating below 50% was an historical first. High turnouts have always favored Democrats- making 2004 another first.
Bush had lost significant numbers of people who'd voted for him in a closer race in 2000 and yet, according to the 'official' computer tallies, Bush still received a 3.4 million vote surplus nationally. In fact, in 2004 Bush far exceeded the 85% of registered Florida Republicans' votes that he got in 2000. This time he received more than 100% of the registered Republican votes in 24 out of 67 Florida counties; more than 200% of registered Republicans in 10 counties; over 300% of registered Republicans in 4 counties; more than 400% of Registered Republicans in 4 counties; and over 700% in one county.
Ohio and Florida were understood to be the two main states on which the outcome of this election hinged, although there were 11 swing states, 10 of which Kerry was leading with a comfortable majority when most of us went to sleep on November 2, 2004. However in the morning, Bush had miraculously won all 11 swing states!
The exit polls were compelling: People had told the exit pollsters they'd voted for John Kerry. And yet just a few hours after the exit polls had been showing a clear Kerry sweep, as the computerized vote numbers began to come in, the vote count mysteriously turned and the election was called for Bush. The odds on one state switching the next morning from Kerry to Bush "are about one in one hundred. For four, it's a virtual statistical impossibility. Add the fact that not one, not four, but TEN of eleven swing states showed drastic shifts from Kerry to Bush and you enter the realm of, well, a stolen election." Fitrakis and Wasserman, 10/18/05, Why Can't the Left Face the Stolen Elections of 2004 & 2008 (for a wealth of information see Bob Fitrakis' and Harvey Wasserman's on line journal at freepress.org).
After Half a Century of Reliability Exit Polls, As of the 2000 Election, Are "Mistaken" Only in the United States, Only in the Swing States and Only in Order to Favor Bush
Exit polls are the gold standard of vote count validity internationally and nationally. When conducted properly they predict outcomes with a very high degree of reliability. They are so accurate that in Germany, for example, the winners are announced based on the exit polls, with paper ballots being counted as a backup check against the exit polls.
It is because of their high degree of reliability that exit polls are used to expose fraud. The United States has funded exit polls in the former Soviet Union and in Eastern Europe as a way to ensure clean elections. Discrepancies between the exit polls and the 'official' numbers were used to successfully overturn corrupted election results in Serbia and in the Ukraine (Ironically the Ukranian exit polls were extensively reported in the American press which touted the exit polls over the Ukrainian 'official' count while at the very same time the press was either suppressing these discrepancies in the US elections or downplaying the exit polls in favor of the United States' 'official' computerized count).
Significantly, inexplicable discrepancies between exit polls and 'official' tallies only started showing up in the U.S. in 2000 and only in Florida. The discrepancy was not the exit polls' fault, however, but in the 'official' tallies themselves. Although the mainstream media took the blame for having first called Florida for Gore in 2000, their projections based on the exit polls were right. In an analysis conducted by the National Opinion Research Center (NORC) in Florida after the U.S. Supreme Court aborted the vote recount, Gore emerged the winner over Bush, no matter what criteria for counting votes was applied. The fact that this is not widely known constitutes itself a major untold story.
What is particularly interesting about the U.S. exit poll discrepancies since 2000 is that in every single instance where exit polls were wrong the discrepancy favored Bush, even though statistical probability tells us that any survey errors should show up in both directions.
A number of different statisticians have examined the 2004 election results. University of Pennsylvania statistician Steve Freeman, Ph.D. (see endnote17) most notably, analyzed the exit polls of the critical swing states of Pennsylvania, Ohio and Florida and concluded that the odds of the exit polls being as far off as they were in 2004, were 250 million to one. He also explained:
"Thus, as much as we could say in social science that something is impossible, it was impossible that the discrepancies between predicted and actual vote counts in the critical battleground states of Florida, Pennsylvania and Ohio could have been due to chance or random error."
In concluding his investigation and analysis with regard to the 2004 election, Freeman stated:
"every calculation of how America voted indicates that, rather than giving Bush a 3- million-vote plurality, American voters gave Kerry a plurality of at least 5 to 7 million votes. And had ballots be counted as cast, Kerry would have received between 282 and 364 electoral votes, more that the 270 required to win."
The 2006 Election or How the Incumbents Failed to Steal Enough to Retain Complete Dominance
The 2006 election was reported in the mainstream media as "fine", but in fact voting on these same machines which had performed so abysmally in the other elections produced the same nightmare of breakdowns, malfunctions, switches and glitches. And once again the exit polls had to be "forced" in order to comport with what we were told was the 'official' computer count.
While many seek false comfort in the inadequacy of the theft, happy that at least for the next two years some semblance of checks and balances may return, the admitted vulnerability of these voting machines, their lack of transparency and the absence of safeguards and accountability, remains unchanged.
In Landslide Denied the Election Defense Alliance (EDA) , a national election integrity organization, analyzed the 2006 exit poll data and the 'official' count. As Jonathan Simon, a former political survey research analyst and co-founder and author of Landslide Denied, stated in Clear Evidence 2006 Congressional Elections Hacked, http://www.opednews.com/articles/genera_rob_kall_061117_clear_evidence_2006_.htm:
"We see evidence of pervasive fraud, but apparently calibrated to political conditions existing before recent developments shifted the political landscape...so 'the fix' turned out not to be sufficient for the actual circumstances....When you set out to rig an election, you want to do just enough to win. The greater the shift from expectations, (from exit polling, pre-election polling, demographics) the greater the risk of exposure--of provoking investigation. What was plenty to win on October 1 fell short on November 7."
According to the Cook Political Report National Tracking Poll's Generic Congressional Ballot (below) there was a dramatic increase in the number of voters who decided to vote Democratic which occurred over the month of October, presumably as the Foley and other scandals were unfolding:
[Oct. 5-8: 50% Dem - 41% Rep; Oct. 19-22: 57% Dem - 35% Rep; Oct. 26-29: 61% Dem - 35% Rep.]
Thus one theory for why the Republicans failed to retain control in 2006 is explained by this significant shift of eligible voters who during the month of October decided to vote against the Republicans, a 17% jump which occurred after the vote-altering mechanisms were, or could be, deployed in the voting machines.
The EDA report concluded that without the machine tampering, the Democratic victory in the House was actually closer to 61% - 38%, which would have given the Democrats an additional 30 seats.
NUMEROUS STUDIES, INCLUDING THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT'S OWN NIST REPORT, GAO REPORT AND THE EAC ASSESSMENT, PROVE THAT ELECTRONIC VOTING MACHINES CAN NOT BE TRUSTED
The evidence gives us little reason to trust the 'official' results of the last few elections and yet that is precisely what our government insists is our only option. Notwithstanding these voting-machine corporations' failure to meet minimal expectations of impartiality, honesty, freedom from conflict of interest and transparency, we are assured by the federal government, our election officials and these private companies that the voting machines Americans are now forced to vote on are tested and certified. One wonders if these machines were truly being tested and certified, how could they fail and misfunction with the regularity that they have in the last three elections?
The Voting Machines We Vote on Have not Been Properly Tested Nor Certified
The National Association of State Election Directors (NASED) was responsible for managing the qualification, testing and approval of voting equipment in America through "independent testing authorities" (ITAs). These so called independent testing centers are not really independent at all they are funded by voting machine vendors to whom they issue their testing reports! The three labs which have been testing all the electronic voting machines in America are selected and paid for by the voting machines companies themselves to test their hardware and software in secret for Federal "authorities". These ITAs have arrogantly refused to answer questions about testing procedures or the certification process. Everything has been done in secret. All of the voting systems Americans vote on today were certified by these NASED vendor-selected labs.
Voting integrity activists' complaints about this sham certification process fell on deaf ears, but are now just beginning to be borne out by the unraveling scandal of the labs responsible for certifying the integrity of the voting machines. In 2002 HAVA transferred responsibility for accrediting these ITAs from NASED to the Election Assistance Commission (EAC). In July, 2006 the EAC denied accreditation to Ciber Inc., the nation's largest so-called "independent" labe. In a damning assessment of Ciber, Inc. the EAC acknowledged what election activists had been saying for years, to wit, there are no independent requirements for testing and:
"the testing for a product tends to either use vendor developed tests or new tests developed specifically for the product-they have no standard test methods defined. This makes their testing dependent on vendor input and vulnerable to unique vendor interpretations rather than a core validated set of internal references for training and testing."
(Quoting from the EAC Assessment, endnote 26)
Ciber's chief voting machine technician is Shawn Southworth. Among Mr. Southworth's history of questionable work, there is Georgia's 22,000 DREs which Southworth had certified as good to go when they were sold to Georgia in 2002. Notwithstanding the Ciber/Southworth seal of approval, the machines allegedly froze up requiring the curious "patches" installed after delivery and before the 2002 election. Southworth figures prominently in this testing/certificaiton stench which goes back more than a decade.
Although the EAC's report declining accreditation to Ciber was issued in July 2006, this information was not make known to the election officials, who were relying on Ciber's certification of the machines used in the 2006 election. The EAC said nothing and permitted those machines to be voted on. Caught in that scandal was not only the nearly 70% of voting systems that had allegedly been qualified by Ciber in the 2006 election, but New York State had entered into a $3 million contract with Ciber to test and certify voting machines, which Ciber continued to pretend to be doing during this period, wasting the State's time and money under what can best be described as false pretenses.
It was not until the NY Times exposed EAC's and Ciber's secret in January of 2007 that the scandal broke. During those 6 months of the EAC's silence, Ciber's founder and director was apparently taking great advantage of this time, selling off 1.7 million of his stock in Ciber. Ciber's founder was not the only one to engage in insider trading during this six month period that Ciber and the EAC said nothing. The silence and insider trading only stopped when NY Times broke the story.
The False Stamp of Approval Which Stuck the American People with These Corrupt Machines and Delivered Billions in the Pockets of the Republican-donor Vendors:
Still Another Sordid Story in this Shameful History of the Demise of the Democratic Experiment:
How can we account for the EAC's complicity? Given the history of how the few electronic voting machine companies came to dominate this industry and the passing off of these malfunctioning lemons as our voting machines it is no wonder that what is now unraveling is the incestuous and immoral relationship among the federal government, election officials and the voting companies who worked together only to create the appearance of a certification process when nothing could be further from the truth.
The HAVA created EAC has as its executive director, Thomas Wilkey who was appointed on June 20, 2005. At the time of his appointment Wilkey was the chair of the NASED Voting Standards Board, responsible for overseeing the testing labs for voting machines qualification. Wilkey was a co-founder and a past-president of NASED and chaired its ITA Committee from 1998 until he left for the EAC in 2005. In other words, during the entire period that HAVA mandated the purchase of these voting machines, Wilkey was in charge of every aspect of control, selection and oversight of the voting machine test labs.
Wilkey has refused to answer questions about the growing voting machine test lab scandal. Wilkey's boss, the current chair of the EAC, Donetta Davidson, served with Wilkey on the Voting Systems Board at NASED. Davidson was also on Wilkey's NASED certification board along with "ex officio" member Shawn Southworth of Ciber, Inc. Davidson, who testified before Congressional hearings on voting machine certification twice last year, failed to disclose the problems with the Ciber lab to members of Congress.
Unfortunately the EAC leadership duo of Wilkey and Davidson, revealing yet again the amount of secrecy and the lack of any oversight that has characterized this dark moment in American history, is but one chapter in this fiasco of democracy in which private vendors, with dizzying conflicts of interest asserting secret proprietary rights over the citizen's elections, have taken control of the American election process.
With the handover of the certification process to the EAC we now have a new system for certifying these machines. In an insightful expose of how our government continues to rob us of both our elections and our taxes, Nancy Tobi describes the Ponzi scheme which is our HAVA created election system. Under the new system our taxes are being spent on the EAC's developing standards for certification, but as a practical matter the industry is never required to apply these standards to equipment used in our elections. The EAC publishes Guidelines which are always at least two years behind product to market; the vendors can't comply in time for the next election so the EAC makes the new Guidelines applicable for December, thereby permitting the election to proceed with equipment not up to current standards of certification (which is precisely what happened in the 2006 election). Under the current timetable, even if the equipment were ready before the 2008 election it seems the labs wouldn't be ready to test to even the 2005 guidelines in time for the 2008 election. So our tax dollars continue to flow into the EAC ($3 million in 2005, $5 million in 2006 and a requested $6 million for 2007), but the timelines render the testing and certification moot (which is the basis for characterizing this as a Ponzi operation).
A rushed response to the voting nightmare that was Florida in 2000, HAVA was pushed through in 2002 and the not-ready-for-sale voting machines were hurriedly distributed throughout the country in exchange for the billions our government was giving away "to the tightknit cabal of largely Republican vendors." (So great was the pressure to purchase these machines that in NY we were sued by the DOJ for not complying with HAVA). Billions of dollars have been given away by the feds, but rather than admit we made a mistake Congress is now proposing to throw good money after bad.
What We Need Is to Stop Wasting Our Tax Dollars on More Technological Equipment or on Worthless Testing and Certification of this Equipment Which Can't Be Made Secure and Start Counting Our Ballots by Hand
As pointed out in a number of articles by Bruce O'Dell, one of the co-founders of the Election Defense Alliance, we don't need and don't want these expensive computers, which as have been demonstrated repeatedly, cannot be made secure. In his most recent article he writes:
"In fact, there is a fascinating study from 2001 (interestingly enough, published shortly before HAVA was enacted) which concluded that not only were hand-counted paper ballots the most accurate of all vote counting methods, measuring by residual vote rate, but that every single technological "innovation" of the last century - lever machines, punch cards, optical scan, DRE - actually measurably decreased the accuracy of the voting process. Their conclusion:
These results are a stark warning of how difficult it is to implement new voting technologies. People worked hard to develop these new technologies. Election officials carefully evaluated the systems, with increasing attentiveness over the last decade. The result: our best efforts applying computer technology have decreased the accuracy of elections, to the point where the true outcomes of many races are unknowable." (emphasis supplied)
We need citizens to be allowed to engage in their election- the more eyes the better- with proper procedures for handling the paper ballots, chain of command, storage, etc. perhaps using Canada's model as a starting point. Until our may-have-been-elected-representatives can come around to this radical notion of transparency and citizen oversight in the people's elections, there are methods of validly hand checking the machine accuracy of Optical Scanners. Paper Ballot Precinct Based Optical Scanners with statistically sufficient mandatory hand counted checks of the Optical Scan counter, is the minimum voting system any state should accept.
* Two additional excellent resources for much more information besides those sources mentioned in here is of course OpEdNews.com and BradBlog.com and articles by Michael Collins, http://www.electionfraudnews.com/) and Paul Lehto (as just one eg. http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/HL0604/S00233.htm). For those of us in New York there is also Bo Lipari's New Yorkers for Verified Voting (nyvv.org).
1 Not the least of which studies include the October, 2005 highly critical report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO), http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d05956.pdf, citing pervasive malfunctions and irregularities among touch-screen (DREs) and optical scan (OS) technology that "could damage the integrity of ballots, votes and voting-system software by allowing unauthorized modifications."
In June, 2006 the Brennan Center for Justice issued a report, http://www.brennancenter.org/stack_detail.asp?key=97&subkey=36343, conducted by a task force comprised of government and university security experts and computer scientists which found that the proliferation of electronic voting machines since 2000 "pose a real danger to the integrity of national, state and local elections."
The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), technical advisor to the HAVA-created Election Assistance Commission (EAC) determined just this past November, http://vote.nist.gov/DraftWhitePaperOnSIinVVSG2007-20061120.pdf, that the DREs Americans across the country are voting on "are vulnerable to errors and fraud and cannot be made secure."
The researchers went on to say, "the DRE provides no independent capability to detect whether fraud has not caused errors in the records...... a single... programmer ...could rig an entire statewide election" and the NIST research staff "do not know how to write testable requirements to satisfy that the software in a DRE is correct".
Moreover the federal government has now admitted (in the NIST report) that even with the most rigorous overhaul of the current DREs "they would not mitigate the threat of malicious code inserted by an insider at the voting machine company," (the so-called Trojan horse).
In January, 2005 the House Judiciary Committee issues its findings: Preserving Democracy: What Went Wrong in Ohio Status Report of the House Judiciary Committee Democratic Staff http://www.openvotingconsortium.org/files/Conyersreport.pdf
http://www.truthout.org/docs_05/010605Y.shtml (executive summary of the Conyers Report)
In addition to the above reports, there are a myriad of reputable studies from prestigious American Universities describing again and again how easily DREs and OS s have and can be rigged. The insecurities and vulnerabilities of the voting machines used by the American public have been exposed repeatedly by computer scientists.
2 See for a sampling of the poor performance of e-voting machines on election day 2004 and 2006, www.votersunite.org/electionproblems.asp and http://www.votersunite.org/electionproblems2004plus.asp .
3 Statistical experts from the University of California examined Florida's computer generated 'official' tally and found:
The data show with 99 percent certainty that a county's use of electronic voting is associated with a disproportionate increase in votes for President Bush. Compared to counties with paper ballots, counties with electronic voting machines were significantly more likely to show increases in support for President Bush between 200 and 2004.
The counties with the most discrepancies in Florida were heavily democratic, as was also true across the country.
No matter how many factors and variable we took in to consideration, the significant correlation in the votes for President Bush and electronic voting cannot be explained.
Michael Hout, a member of the National Academy of Sciences.
4 Unfortunately the "reform" bill with the greatest support is Rush Holt's legislation which attempts to salvage the billions spent on these DRE-lemons by requiring that those DREs which are currently paperless, add on a "voter-verified audit trail" (VVAPT). Theoretically this paper could be audited, but in a 2005 study by the Caltech-MIT Voting Project which deliberately engineered VVPAT errors (switching votes, missing races) no one reported a VVPAT error. In fact a full third of the participants, when told there were errors planted, insisted there were none. See Bruce O'Dell's, Pull The Plug on E-voting, Parts I and II, www.truthout.org/docs_2006/102606L.shtml,
Even if voters did check the paper receipt , the electronic software employed when the voter presses that touchscreen and the software that produces that paper trail are equally vulnerable to hacking. Researchers at Princeton University's Center for Information Technology Policy (CITP) recently released a study confirming that the software on these DREs could be programmed so that the electronic and paper records produced by the voting machine would agree--and both be wrong!
For more on what's wrong with the Holt Bill see Bev Harris's, What's Wrong with Holt II (HR 811) http://onlinejournal.com/artman/publish/article_1738.shtml,
Nancy Tobi's, TrueMajority's Action Alert Should be Reconsidered, http://www.democracyfornewhampshire.com/node/view/2243
Bruce O'Dell's, Holt's HR 811, A Deceptive Boondoggle 10 Blunders to Fix, http://www.opednews.com/articles/opedne_bruce_o__070221_holt_s_hr_811_a_dece.htm,
the post at Black Box Voting Re: What's wrong with the bill- http://www.bbvforums.org/cgi-bin/forums/board-auth.cgi?file=/1954/46667.html
5 See "Universal Precinct-Based Handcount Sample" (UPS) Verification Protocol, http://www.electiondefensealliance.org/upspr
6 Robert Amhanson is a multi-millionaire who has used his fortune to promote radical right wing and Christian fundamentalist projects.
7 Chuck Hagel, who valued his investment in the McCarthy Group at up to $ 5 million, became chairman and CEO of AIS (now ES&S) in July 1992. While Hagel was running AIS, the company was building and programming the machines that would later count his senatorial votes. Hagel stepped down as chairman in late March 1995 and a few days laster announced his bid for the US Senate. (Hagel lied about his ownership in ES&S, failing to disclose his relationship and his obvious conflict of interest).
In 1996 the Washington Post said Hagel's "Senate victory against an incumbent Democratic governor was the major Republican upset in the November election". Hagel was the first Republican to win a Senate seat in Nebraska in a quarter of a century. He won virtually every demographic group, including many largely Black communities and Native American communities that had never before voted Republican.
Six years later Hagel ran against Democratic challenger Charlie Matulka and won in a landslide. His website says he "was reelected to his second term in the United States Senate ...with 83% of the vote. That represents the biggest political victory in the history of Nebraska." The website failed to mention that about 80% of those votes that put him in office were counted by computer-controlled voting machines, built and programmed by his company.
In 2002, Matulka had written to the Senate Ethics Committee requesting an investigation into Hagel's ownership and nondisclosure of ES&S. His complaint was dismissed (the basis for dismissal was lack of merit). The Washington publication, the Hill, confirmed that Hagel was the head of and continues to own part interest in the company that owns the company that installed, programmed and largely ran the voting machines that were used by most of the citizens of Nebraska.
After the election, Matulka asked for a recount. His request was denied by the Nebraska Secretary of State because Nebraska had just passed a law that prohibits government-employee election workers from looking at the ballots (Nebraska uses optical scan systems manufactured by ES&S and there is an auditable paper trail). Matulka told the NY Times, "This is the stealing of our democracy".
After the 2002 election, newspapers started surmising about a presidential run for Hagel in 2008. According to ES&S's web site its machines count at least 50% of the votes in U.S. elections.
8 Business Records Corp. (BRC) was a subsidiary of Cronus Industries Inc, owned by a consortium of wealthy Texas power brokers:
7/84 BRC acquired Data Management Associates of Colorado Springs a company that supplied county governments with computer software and services.
BRC also acquired David G. Carney Co.- a firm that marketed records-keeping services.
BRC also acquired the assets of C. Edwin Hultman Co., a company that provided county-government information services.
11/84 BRC acquired Western Data Services, Inc.- a firm that provided on-line computer services to local governments and school districts.
BRC acquired Contract Microfilm Services and Business Images, Inc.
2/85 BRC acquired Roberts & Son Inc.of Birmingham, Alabama- a firm that provided voting equipment and election materials to county governments.
4/85 BRC acquired Frank Thornber Co., a firm specializing in election-related services, equipment and supplies.
11/85 BRC acquired Dayton Legal Blank Co.
12/85 BRC's parent company, Cronus Industries Inc. purchased Computer Election Systems Inc.- the nation's largest manufacturer of election machines and equipment at that time.
1/86 BRC acquired Integrated Micro Systems Inc.
3/86 BRC merged with Computer Concepts & Services Inc.
BRC acquired Sun Belt Press Inc. and merged it into Roberts & Son (acquired in 2/85).
BRC purchased the government operations of Miller/Davis Company which provided legal forms and election supplies.
In 1997 BRC was purchased by Elections Systems and Software.
9 Quoting from Bev Harris' book, Black Box Voting, (from which much of my information is taken).
10 Sequoia Voting Systems is the third largest electronic voting machine manufacturer. It has demonstrated dubious business and marketing strategies.
Philip Foster, Sequoia's southern regional sales manager and his brother-in-law, David Philpot were charged with counts of conspiracy, money laundering and malfeasance in office after giving $100,000 in kickbacks to Louisiana state elections chief Jerry Fowler. Philpot plead guilty and Fowler went to federal prison.
In a 2002 lawsuit challenging an election in Palm Beach County it was revealed that under the county's purchase contract with Sequoia, disclosure of any specifications of how the DREs operate was a third degree felony!
Sequoia also has a remarkably prolific habit of hiring its own regulators:
Kathryn Ferguson, the elections official who helped purchase Sequoia machines for Clark County, Nevada and Santa Clara County California.
Former California Secretary of State Bill Jones.
Former executive director of the Denver Election Commission, Michael Frontera (went to work for Sequoia after awarding $6.6 million in contracts to them).
Former spokesman for Secretary of State Bill Jones, Alfie Charles, now a Sequoia spokesman.
Sequoia has changed hands numerous times in the last few years. It had been purchased by Great Britain's De La Rue corporation (the firm also sold ATMS and smart cards and listed Diebold Inc. as one of its competitors). In July 2003, the DOJ launched an investigation into an American division of La Rue alleging that it had engaged in an illegal price-fixing scheme in relation to the supply of holograms for Visa banking cards. Sequoia is now owned by Smartmatic, who is presently looking to sell the company.
11 According to the findings of fact in the criminal case against Dean, no. 89-1-04034-1:
"Defendant's thefts occurred over a 2 1/2 year period of time, there were multiple incidents, more than the standard range can account for, the actual monetary loss was substantially greater than typical for the offense, the crimes and their cover-up involved a high degree of sophistication and
planning in the use and alteration of records in the computerized accounting system that defendant maintained for the victim, and the defendant used his position of trust and fiduciary responsibility as a computer systems and accounting consultant for the victim to facilitate the commission of the offenses." (Emphasis supplied).
12 Bev Harris of Black Box Voting found it in the download of the site between 1/23/03 and 1/26/03.
13 Was the 2004 Presidential Election Stolen? Exit Polls, Election Fraud and the Official Count, by Steven Freeman, published by Seven Stories Press, at pp 96-97 describing the Iowa Electronic Market, http://www.biz.uiowa.edu/iem, where one can wager on election outcomes.
14 These "patches" come on memory cards that are inserted, in the case of Georgia into the DREs, but can also be inserted into Optical Scanners. Even the federal government admits that there can be hidden programs on these memory cards which could rig an entire election and go undetected because the program could include a built-in delete that erases itself after it has done its dirty work, otherwise known as a Trojan horse. See the NIST report (endnote 1).
15 See Robert F. Kennedy Jr.'s Will the Next Election be Hacked?, Rolling Stone, October 5, 2006 Issue.
16 Allegedly it was the problems of the 2000 presidential election which was responsible for HAVA's move to the panacea of e-voting. In fact all the 2000 election did was to reveal just how broken our election system was. HAVA served to mask the problems and took advantage of the broken system by centralizing control in the federal government, forcing everyone onto electronic machines and thereby facilitating on a grand scale the manipulation that was Florida (with e-voting a single person can manipulate a million votes).
What was wrong in Florida could never be remedied by e-voting and indeed, three stolen elections later, HAVA's so-called remedy should be seen for what it is: a way to control elections and funnel tax payers dollars into the hands of those who will repay the favor.
Electronic voting won't deal with the millions paid by the Florida Department of Elections to Database Technologies Inc. in 1998 to scrub the voter rolls, depriving well over 10,000 mostly minority, poor and Democratic Floridians of their right to vote in the 2000 election (more than 20 times Bush's alleged margin of victory in the state). E-voting won't deal with the findings of the United States Commission on Civil Rights (USCCR) and the NAACP in two separate reports documenting aggressive vote-suppression tactics targeting black voters, who vote almost exclusively Democratic. E-voting won't deal with the over-distribution of the newer machines and equipment to white Republican neighborhoods and the deliberate under-distribution to black neighborhoods.
Lacking the ability to implant software bugs into all the voting machines (because in 2000 only some of the voting machines in Florida were electronic Optical Scanners) those in power had to resort to other means to manipulate the technology and thereby the vote counts. Steven Freeman points out in his book, Was the 2004 Presidential Election Stolen? that the butterfly ballot cost Al Gore more than 15,000 votes. But while the media may have focused on the people who couldn't figure out how to use the punch cards, the truth was the ballots were poorly designed and intentionally confusing. See Freeman's book for more on this.
When Secretary of State and party hack Harris certified a 537 vote victory for Bush in the 2000 election, 175,010 election day ballots were still uncounted and they remained as such, despite Florida law and precedent, because of the Supreme Court's stopping of the count which the Florida Supreme Court had ordered. Those uncounted ballots were subsequently analyzed and counted by the National Opinion Research Center (NORC), a nonprofit research group based at the University of Chicago. The NORC data revealed that Gore would have won by 50,000 votes despite all the voters who'd been disenfranchised through a variety of dirty tactics.
Two "errors" caused the networks to call the election for Bush, led by Bush's cousin on the Fox News election team. Both errors involved mistabulations by Optical Scanners manufactured by Global Elections Systems (which later became Diebold). On one machine 4,000 votes were taken off Gore's total and on the other 16,000 were subtracted.
Many tens of thousands of suppressed and spoiled votes aside, the 2000 Florida exit polls projected a 7.3% Gore victory. 7.3% of Florida's electorate represented 435,000 votes! No one questioned the discrepancy. The exit polls, not the 'official count' were just "wrong".
17 See E-voting Failures in the 2004 and 2006 at endnote 2.
See also Robert F. Kennedy Jr.'s Was the 2004 Election Stolen?, http://www.rollingstone.com/news/story/10432334/was_the_2004_election_stolen;
Mark Crispin Miller's Fooled Again: How the Right Stole the 2004 Election & Why They'll Steal the Next One Too (Unless We Stop Them) published by Basic Books;
Steve Freeman's Was the 2004 Presidential Election Stolen? Exit Polls, Election Fraud and the Official Count, published by Seven Stories Press; and
Hacked! High Tech Election Theft in America, published by Truth Enterprises Publishing.
18 In Georgia, not only did the incumbent Senator Max Cleland lose to Republican Rep. Saxby Chambliss (who like the other miracle come-from-behind Republican candidates also had a 100% approval rating from the Christian Coalition), but polls in the governorship race showed Roy Barnes, the incumbent Democratic governor, leading by 11 points. Amazingly Barnes lost to the Republican, Sonny Perdue, 46 to 51 per cent, a swing of 16 percentage points!
19 http://www.projectcensored.org/newsflash/voter_fraud.html Moreover, not only did Bush get more votes than registered voters, but according to the 'official' computer results, many Democratic strongholds in Ohio and Florida fell to as low as less than 8%! http://globalresearch.ca/articles/KEE501A.html
20 Listed are just a few of those impossibilities/improbabilities of Florida and Ohio:
In Warren County Ohio voters pressing Kerry's name on electronic screens repeatedly saw Bush's name light up. When it came time to count the votes, public observers and the press were locked out allegedly because of an FBI warning of a major terrorist attack. This lockdown (or lockout), which permitted the votes to be tallied in secret, occurred twice. The second lockdown to recount the votes resulted in an even greater Bush margin. Not only did the FBI deny giving any such warning, but one local paper later reported, email correspondence between election officials and the county's building services director indicated that lockdown plans-"down to the wording of the signs that would be posted on the locked doors"-had been in the works for at least a week!
In Butler County a Democratic candidate for State Supreme Court implausibly took in 5,347 more votes than Kerry. From the Conyers' Report, Preserving Democracy: "It appears to be wildly implausible that 5,000 voters waited in line to cast a vote for an under-funded Democratic Supreme Court candidate and then declined to cast a vote for the most well-funded Democratic Presidential candidate in history."
In Franklin County, Bush received nearly 4,000 extra votes from one computer.
In Miami County voter turn out was an improbable and highly suspect 98.55% and after 100% of the precincts were reported, an additional19,000 extra votes were recorded for Bush.
In Perry County the number of Bush votes exceeded the number of registered votes, leading to voter turnout rates as high as 124 percent.
In Mahong County 25 DREs transferred an unknown number of Kerry votes to Bush.
21 Since exit polls ask people as they emerge from the polling station whom they just voted for, they are not projections as are polls taken in the months, weeks or days before an election. They are not subject to faulty memory, voters who vote differently than they indicated to a pollster previously, or erroneous projections about who will actually turn up to vote. Pollsters know who turned up to vote because the voters are standing there in front of the exit pollsters. Because of these characteristics, exit polls are exceptionally accurate.
22 See endnote 16
23 See endnote 2
24 See Landslide Denied: Major Miscount in 2006 Election: Were 3 Million Votes "Misplaced"? http://electiondefensealliance.org/landslide_denied_exit_polls_vs_vote_count_2006
25 See endnote 24
27 Wilkey is a former director of the NYS Board of Elections.
28 Voting Machines as a Ponzi Scheme http://www.bbvforums.org/forums/messages/1954/46701.html
29 Quoting from RFK Jr.'s Will the Next Election Be Hacked? cited at endnote 17.
30 As explained in Voting Machines as a Ponzi Scheme as well as in Bruce O'Dell's
Holt's HR 811, A Deceptive Boondoggle 10 Blunders to Fix, http://www.opednews.com/articles/opedne_bruce_o__070221_holt_s_hr_811_a_dece.htm,
the Holt bill, a well intentioned piece of legislation no doubt, not only calls for throwing massive tax dollars at this corrupt machinery (further feeding the voting vendor vultures and their dubious investor partners), but numerous aspects of the bill will do far more harm than good.
31 See endnotes 4 and 30
32 Canada's protocol for hand counting ballots: click here