By Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman
Finally, the major for-profit media is approaching consensus that it's easy to hack U.S. political elections. Even candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are raising unprecedented doubts -- from very different directions -- about the reliability of the upcoming vote count.
Ultimately, there is just one solution: universal hand-counted paper ballots, with carefully protected voter registration rolls, and a transparent chain of custody.
The corporate media and the Democrats are obsessed with the "Russians." Donald Trump rants about a mythological army of voters voting multiple times.
But the real threat to our election system comes from private for-profit corporations that register voters, control voter databases, then count and report the vote with secret proprietary software and zero transparency, accountability, or recourse.
After ignoring or attacking the reportage since Florida 2000 of Bev Harris, Greg Palast,freepress.org and numerous others, the corporate media seems finally to be getting the message: under the current system, any American election -- even the one for president -- can be stripped and flipped by a tiny handful of electronic hackers working anywhere from the Kremlin to a party HQ to a state governor's office to a teenager's garage.
Here is some of what the mainstream media is finally admitting. In an article posted on July 28, 2016, NBC News pointed out that our elections are vulnerable to hacking because they "are not part of the vast 'critical infrastructure protection' safety net set up by the Department of Homeland Security."
CBS News wrote August 10, 2016, about "the hackers at Symantec Security Response" who demonstrated how "Election Day results could be manipulated by an affordable device you can find online."
Former national coordinator for counter-terrorism Richard Clarke, reporting for ABC News on August 19, 2016, analyzed the particular security problems related to battleground states like Ohio and Florida: "In 2000 and 2004, there were only a handful of battleground states that determined which presidential candidate had enough Electoral College votes to win. A slight alteration of the vote in some swing precincts in swing states might not raise suspicion. Smart malware can be programmed to switch only a small percentage of votes from what the voters intended. That may be all that is needed, and that malware can also be programmed to erase itself after it does its job, so there might be no trace it ever happened." Clarke was on the White House National Security Council during both Bill Clinton's and George W. Bush's administrations.
Zeynep Tufekci, an associate professor at the North Carolina School of Information and Library Science, in his August 12, 2016 New York Times op-ed "The Election Won't Be Rigged but It Could Be Hacked," wrote: "The mere existence of this discussion is cause for alarm. The United States needs to return, as soon as possible, to a paper-based, auditable voting system in all jurisdictions that still use electronic-only, unverifiable voting machines."
On August 30, 2016, the Washington Post wrote: "Deleting or altering data on voter rolls could cause mayhem on Election Day disenfranchising some voters. Many voting machines themselves also are vulnerable, especially touch-screen systems that do not create a paper record as a guard against fraud or manipulation." The Post also supplied a list of the 15 states with the most vulnerable voting systems.
The list of those now admitting the obvious includes the Boston Globe, The Atlantic, USA Today, The Guardian, Mother Jones, and Politico, some of which have previously mocked those of us reporting on this issue. Most important has been the highly influential The Hill, which weighed in on May 2, 2016 with "Election fraud feared as hackers target voter records." The lede was straightforward: "A series of data breaches overseas are spurring concerns that hackers could manipulate elections in the United States."
Trump advisor Roger Stone wrote a column in The Hill with the headline: "Can the 2016 Elections Be Rigged? You Bet." He also referred to our latest summary volume, "The Strip & Flip Selection of 2016: Five Jim Crows & Electronic Election Theft," as "a must-read book on the strip and flip techniques used to rig these machines."
But in the 2016 primary election, there are other must-reads as well. Perhaps the most important is Election Justice USA's report entitled "Democracy Lost: A Report on the Fatally Flawed 2016 Democratic Primaries." This report cites six major areas of election irregularities in this year's 26 primary elections:
- Targeting voter suppression
- Registration tampering
- Illegal voter purges
- Exit poll discrepancies
- Evidence for voting machine tampering
- The security (or lack thereof) of various voting machines types.
In their 96-page report, Election Justice researchers documented how Hillary Clinton's campaign benefited from these "various types of fraud." Their conclusion: "Based on this work, Election Justice USA has established an upper estimate of 184 pledged delegates lost by Senator Bernie Sanders as a consequence of specific irregularities and instances of fraud."
Election Justice's well-documented estimate that Sanders lost 184 delegates means that if the election had been conducted fairly, the Senator from Vermont would now be the Democratic nominee.