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Election Defense Alliance's Jonathan Simon with the Timely Lowdown on Our Elections

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My guest today is Jonathan Simon, co-founder of Election Defense Alliance [EDA]. Welcome to OpEdNews, Jonathan. Please tell our readers: What is EDA and what does it do?

Election Defense Alliance is a nonprofit organization launched on July 4, 2006 with a mission to restore honest and accurate vote counting to America. While much of our energy has been devoted to election forensics--that is, uncovering the pervasive statistical evidence that the vote counting process is being manipulated--we have also come to recognize that the computerized voting process, which has taken over virtually all the tabulation in this country, is so vulnerable to insider manipulation as to be inherently insane.

Those are strong words, I realize, but how else would you characterize a concealed counting process that operates invisibly and unaccountably in cyberspace, spitting out numbers and results that the public is expected to accept with 100% blind faith? Add to that the partisan ownership and control of the few corporations that have a monopoly on the equipment and its programming, and the fact that, in election after election since these computers were deployed, we have found a shift of vote counts relative to every baseline--tracking polls, exit polls, hand counts--exclusively in that same direction. It is not a pretty picture. It looks, in fact, very much like a rolling bloodless coup, one which generates a lot less resistance than would a "real" coup with tanks rolling down Pennsylvania Avenue, and is therefore all the more insidious and dangerous.

Our mission--bringing back publicly observable vote counting and ending the computerized era's wholesale vulnerability to election theft--is nonpartisan. Yet the realities we keep bumping up against--the fact that the numbers always shift in the same rightward direction (we call it the "red shift") and the partisan pedigree of the equipment vendors--are what they are. And we have found that the wall of never-happen-here denial seems to be just as high among the Democrats as the Republicans, among the progressive media as among the MSM [mainstream media]. So, in that sense, we remain nonpartisan, facing nonpartisan dismissal.

EDA is small but well-known and respected within the election integrity movement. We have helped establish networks within that movement, so that individuals and groups know better whom they can work with and trust. What we hope is to bring this issue into the public debate by any means possible. Small organizations can do a great deal if they can initiate a process that reaches critical mass.

When did you first discover something was wrong with our voting apparatus?

Well, no election system is ever going to count perfectly down to the last vote, so the goal/slogan of "count every vote as cast" is really misleading. There is quite a difference, however, between the "noise" that you find in any system dealing with huge numbers and wholesale covert manipulation of results. Before the advent and proliferation of vote-counting computers--whether touch-screen DREs or optical scanners--vote counts could be affected by differing interpretation of ballot marks, human error, and good old ballot box stuffing. Elections have always been a high-stakes game and there was certainly an incentive to cheat. But the counting process, at least in theory, was observable, which limited opportunities to cheat. And, to the extent that in partisan strongholds such as Chicago, for the Dems, or New Hampshire, for the GOP, cheating was more likely to flourish, the overall aggregate impact tended to be a wash--what I call "equal opportunity cheating."

All that changed dramatically when the computers appeared and took over the counting process. The computerized voting era came in ostensibly in do-good reaction to the debacle of 2000 and the hanging chads in Florida. There was what should have been an obvious red flag when Republicans were selling the "Help America Vote Act" (HAVA) as a way to make voting easier and increase turnout. The Republican strategy of the entire 20th century had been to make voting harder and decrease turnout, and all of a sudden they're the champions of electoral participation? How the Democrats could not smell a rat is beyond me, but then almost all Democratic behavior in the computerized voting age has been mystifying.

What HAVA did was usher in (with carrot and stick) a rapid changeover to computerized voting under the proprietary, secretive, and virtually exclusive control of a few corporations. The pedigree of these companies--including Diebold/Premier and ES&S, which together held a near monopoly on computerized voting equipment--was not just right wing but far right wing. It seemed a bit more than coincidental that the brothers Bob and Todd Urosevich, both radical right wingers, each took effective control of Diebold and ES&S respectively, plowing their fortune into voting machines when slot machines or soda machines would have been a far better bet, from a business standpoint.

And lo and behold, beginning in 2002, some very strange things began happening in our elections. To finally answer your question about when I first realized something was very wrong, it was Election Night 2002, when, among others, the Max Cleland race in Georgia and the Chuck Hagel race in Nebraska came in with truly unbelievable results and the plug was pulled on the exit polls (the network anchors were all left scratching their heads and saying things like, "Guess we'll have to do it the old-fashioned way tonight, Jim, and wait for the returns to come in"), ostensibly because of a "glitch." But of course it was very convenient not to have to explain away the huge disparities between exit polls and vote counts that would have surfaced (and, we know from leaks, did exist) had the exit polls been made public.

I felt that night like someone who had been poked in the eyes and blinded so I would not be able to see a crime being committed. From that night on, I believed that our electoral system was in deep trouble but I underestimated how high the wall of "never happen here" denial would be. I rather naively believed that, given the monstrous potential impact of computerized rigging, people would be willing to do just about anything to protect the integrity of American elections. I developed an exit poll-based "burglar alarm" system that would have red-flagged rigging patterns.

Since the official exit polls had been withheld and could not be counted on, it would have relied on independent exit polls that would have cost upward of $1 million to run in 2004. I thought that raising that sum would be no problem--think of all the money that was being contributed to MoveOn and other organizations furthering political agendas that would be DOA if elections were manipulated. But I was wrong. It was almost impossible to raise funds and very few seemed to grasp the connection between election theft and their own agendas.

In each election that followed, including the Democratic victories of 2006 and 2008, we have measured a pervasive "red shift," vote counts shifted to the Right relative to all baseline measures such as exit polls, tracking polls, and hand counts. The 2006 analysis can be found at We have also found persistent patterns of targeting of races, where the more competitive a race the more it is red shifted, as analyzed in Fingerprints of Election Theft, Such targeting effectively rules out any explanation other than rigging. So, you have the computers manufactured and programmed by the Right and results that consistently keep shifting to the Right, altering the outcomes of competitive races in favor of the Right. That's not too many dots to connect.

Ironically, we've come full circle from 2002. Since publication of exit polls called the honesty of the vote counts into question, the networks began "adjusting" the exit poll results to match the vote counts before making them public (previously the actual exit poll results were posted, enabling forensic analysis). Now, judging by the recent primaries, networks are not posting exit poll results at all. For that matter, they all seemed to have stopped posting actual vote counts on their websites. In short, the mainstream media that control this data is making sure the public is even blinder than in 2002. They're just telling us who wins and, sometimes, their version of why. And those of us who seek knowledge rather than mere assurance can't question what we can't see.

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Joan Brunwasser is a co-founder of Citizens for Election Reform (CER) which since 2005 existed for the sole purpose of raising the public awareness of the critical need for election reform. Our goal: to restore fair, accurate, transparent, secure elections where votes are cast in private and counted in public. Because the problems with electronic (computerized) voting systems include a lack of (more...)

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