In June 2003, (after the war started) Bev contacted me by phone. She had been trying valiantly to get computer scientists to look at the source code she had uncovered with no success. She was also becoming a little concerned for her own safety. Her own inquiries into the source code had confirmed that the machines and tabulators were foolishly hackable but getting someone official on the record to say so was proving impossible. Most scientists were afraid that if they broke the easily cracked zip passwords on some of the files they would be opening themselves up to felony prosecution under the DMCA [the Digital Millennium Copyright Act].
We decided to proceed to publish Bev's findings as they stood.
On July 8 2003 we did so in a one-two punch. First up was my commentary on Bev's findings "Bigger Than Watergate" and then, seven minutes later, Bev's expose report "Inside a US Election Vote Counting Program" which explained in detail just how easy it is to hack a US election without being detected, if you have access to the tabulation computer.
In the first story, a link was also published to a copy of the cache of Diebold source files data.
Over the next few days, the story went ballistic. It was linked off of Slashdot.org and copies of both stories were posted on hundreds of websites across the US and the world - including Buzzflash.com and Whatreallyhappened.org. It was even translated into German and Robert Cringely of PBS picked it up.
Meanwhile, the cache of data files was downloaded hundreds of times - often by military computers - but most importantly by a group of scientists at Johns Hopkins University. And on July 25, they published their report, "Analysis of an Electronic Voting System." The source of the files they used is acknowledged in the footnotes.
The academic paper which examined the vulnerabilities of Diebold's touchscreen software was reported in the New York Times, "Computer Voting is Open to Easy Fraud, Experts Say" and suddenly it was game on . [You can see just how widely the NYT story was picked up here.]
I then introduced myself to the election reform crew at the Democratic Underground which was then the clubhouse for the team researching this stuff, and we prepared to do battle to get something done about this mess.
Well, having worked the election integrity beat since 2005, I'm not so confident that we've actually made much progress over the years. Media exposure is an important first step. But we're still working toward getting widespread recognition of the dangers of computerized voting to democratic values. What progress can you point to?
Actually, knowledge is only a small part of the solution, and, since 2002, we have seen three sets of compromised elections.
And probably most sad of all - nothing concrete is being done even now - and given the track record of the election fraudsters, I would fully expect the 2010 midterms to be compromised.
And when you realise that the corrupt election system is also being used to run primary races, you may quickly figure out why even with control of the House and the Senate, Obama is finding it tough going getting his agenda in place.
In the aftermath of the original revelations of 2003, I expected there to be significant and rapid moves to fix the problems. But precisely the opposite happened - election officials dug in and defended their machines - they called the election integrity movement names and attempted to sideline us.
Meanwhile, the media were little better, and even after the 2004 election, they were poking the borax - though at least then they did in fact report the idea of stolen elections on the front pages.
Unfortunately, politicians and naysayers have persistently maintained the view that unless there is a smoking gun they will not believe what they want not to believe.
The tragedy is that there is a smoking gun - one that emerged in the aftermath of the events described above.
After the source code leak, two more sets of leaks followed in the summer of 2003. First, the Diebold memos (made famous by the Swarthmore College civil disobedience action). These memos contained some interesting additional information about the Volusia County incident in the 2000 election.
In October 2003, I published my version of this story "Diebold Memos Disclose Florida 2000 E-Voting Fraud" based on information provided by Bev Harris. Bev's version of the same story can be found in her book on the subject.
This story proves election fraud has happened.
The timing, scale and nature of the discrepancy is such that it unquestionably played a part in the premature award of the 2000 election to George Bush by network news anchors on election night. It cannot be explained by any other credible explanation except computer hacking. It is the smoking gun.
Thank you, Alastair. We'll pause here with the smoking gun. When we come back, we'll talk about the 2004 presidential election, online independents, Scoop's mission statement, and the stable of Americans that write for Scoop. I hope you'll join us.
Correction to part one (already amended online), as pointed out by Bev Harris: "Each instance of Talion.com in part one should be replaced with Bev Harris - I owned Talion.com, but it was a publicity site that had nothing to do with the voting issue." Thank you, Bev.
Link to part one of Interview with Alastair Thompson