Are Elections being Stolen? We shouldn't have to ask.
Are votes in American elections being counted fairly and accurately? In an open democracy worthy of the name, this should not be a question for forensic science, but in 21st Century America, that's just what it is. America is unique in the developed world in counting votes with proprietary software that has been ruled a trade secret, not open to inspection, even by local officials whose responsibility it is to administer elections. As we have learned last week, there is stiff resistance to looking at the ballots with human eyes which might offer a check on the computers. So we are left looking at statistics and anecdotes, trying to determine whether vote counts are honest and reliable. The evidence does not inspire confidence. But whatever you think of the evidence, there is no justification for a system without the possibility of public verification.
Part 3 of 4 : Anecdotes
Over the years, there have been a number of cases where a smoking gun appeared. We had physical evidence or an insider in election theft who blew the whistle. Four of our best examples:
Clint Curtis, 2001
In 2002, the Help America Vote Act was new, and in May, the state of Georgia contracted with Diebold to quickly transform their paper-based voting tradition to a fully computerized, paperless system. A $54 million contract with Diebold gave them control over the hardware, the software, programming of individual machines, and training of people who administered the elections locally. In the November, 2002 election,
Incumbent US Senator Max Cleland and incumbent Governor Roy Barnes, both Democrats, were odds-on favorites to win re-election. A week before the voting an Atlanta Journal-Constitution poll showed Cleland ahead by five points, 49-44, but on election day he lost to his Republican opponent, Saxby Chambliss, by seven points, 53-46, a twelve-point swing. The loss of Governor Barnes to Sonny Perdue was even more remarkable: a one-week switch of fourteen percentage points. [Ronnie Dugger, writing in the Nation , 2004]
The thing that makes this an anecdote and not just a statistic is that a rogue computer activist broke into the server of the Diebold company, and found in their system a folder labeled "Rob Georgia". He forwarded the contents to Bev Harris at Black Box Voting, and she found a record of what had been done, and how. She explains details in this article, published prominently in New Zealand. American news outlets were not so interested.
The 2004 presidential election in Ohio
Ohio was the domain of Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell, who moonlighted as Ohio Chair of the campaign to re-elect George W. Bush. The press reported a rain of vote suppression tactics:
Thousands of voter registration cards rejected because they were printed by the state on card stock of the wrong weight
Thousands of mail-in ballots returned for postage because the state provided an envelope pre-printed with a notice for one-ounce first class postage, but the package was over one ounce.
Leaflets in the Democratic cities, urging the naive to wait until Wednesday to vote.
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