I will put these reviews on our web site along with fliers, a sign in email sheet, an action sheet (actions to be taken if people are so moved by the film/discussion). After you've selected a place to show the films and scheduled dates, please send me that information so I can post it on the web site. We'll also have contact information for local press to help publicize the screenings. If you'd like, we can try and come to some of your screenings to assist in the Q&A.
Here are the 5 films with reviews I wrote up. This is also attached as a word doc. In some cases I've included additional information to supplement what went on in the film because it related to current breaking scandals and I wanted to help people connect the dots. The films are: Film Reviews: Election Theft of Democracy Series
1) STEALING AMERICA: Vote by Vote, 2) COMMANDER IN THIEF, 3) THE RIGHT TO COUNT, 4) HELP AMERICA VOTE ON PAPER, 5) TRUTH IN THE BOOTH
STEALING AMERICA: Vote by Vote
This is one of the best films I've seen among those addressing the broken election system in the United States and the Republican Party's criminal tactics to ensure they retain power at whatever cost. It is not a Democrat/Republican issue; but it is the case that certain Republicans have been on a zealous crusade to retain control and power by making sure millions of votes are never cast or if cast, not counted as cast.
The film looks at the evidence of machine tampering, the discrepancies between the exit polls and the "official" tallies, vote flipping, as well as the devastating impact of disenfranchising voters - making certain they never even have the opportunity to have their vote manipulated. The story told will hopefully inspire many more of us to activism as we come to appreciate that privatized election systems and aggressive tactics to suppress the vote of would-be democrats, particularly as they impact the African American communities which are deprived of the ability to vote in far greater numbers, means the end of the democracy that was to be ours and our children's inheritance.
The heartache of citizens who were determined to make a difference in 2004, only to be thwarted by the numerous designs of Republican operatives is powerful. The vulnerability of the voting systems most Americans are now required to use since Congress passed the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) in 2002, coupled with the means and willingness to exploit those vulnerabilities, leaves us unable to choose or resist the government that was supposed to be of the people, by the people and for the people.
To see with your own eyes what the media fails to report, is to understand that either we act or we lose what's left of our democracy. The film ends with accounts of citizens who have decided to fight back, and with suggestions others can take to join this struggle. Hopefully those who view the film will feel the imperative to take matters into their own hands, as those before us did in insisting on our right to self-determination and wresting control from the other George. We are confronting no less a form of tyranny at this moment.
The film is 70 minutes long
COMMANDER IN THIEF
This film, which came out a little later than Stealing America, steps up the warning call urging all Americans to take up the fight immediately because the peril to our democracy is imminent.
The evidence of the theft of the 2004 election is mounting and this more recent film presents that evidence. In addition to the nationwide campaign by the RNC to disenfranchise as many American citizens in democrat districts as possible through a host of schemes, there were 3.6 million votes that were cast for president were never counted. In Ohio evidence was uncovered of ballot switching on electronic machines in certain precincts and of paper ballots used on punch card machines, that were already punched when the voter was handed the ballot, resulting in invalidating those ballots for double punching. Steve Freeman, author of Was the 2004 Presidential Election Stolen? (who will be one of the speakers at our June forums) presents the statistical evidence that as many as five million votes nationally were shifted, subtracting five million votes from Kerry and adding five million votes to Bush to produce a swing of up to ten million votes in the officially reported result.
The film sets out the strategy of using various schemes to steal the 2004 election so that every individual tactic would be seen as separate and independent. That way if one or two of these tactics were uncovered it would still appear that "the difference would not be enough to change the outcome". And so it was John Kerry conceded our right to throw those corrupted bums out of our government.
Commander in Thief divides the film into sections, one of which looks at the Media: Failed Fourth Estate as well as what we can do to Reclaim our Democracy. Because the media has failed to report this information most of us are unaware that our government is selected not by We the People, but by criminals, some of whom now hold office. As painful as it is to try to accept what's happened in America, the consequences of permitting the Crime of the Century to remain untold is catastrophic.
Since the media continues to fail us, we have no choice but to take on their role as well. See this film, show this film, take action (action sheet will be provided).
The film is 98 minutes long
THE RIGHT TO COUNT
This film has a lot of good information packed into one film. It's longer than the others, but in addition to containing the information we need to understand about how private unverifiable machines fit into the bigger picture of depriving Americans of their birthright of self-rule -- consent of the governed - you get a powerful feeling for how hocking that is when it happens to you (New Yorkers haven't quite felt this yet).
Among the stories told in this film are fights by communities to resist having to vote on computers and how they learned that their rights as voters had become irrelevant in the eyes of the government they were supposed to have consented to. We see how easy it is for election insiders with access to these electronic machines to change the results of elections without detection.
One of my favorite lines in this film is from a citizen in California-- in one of the first areas to start using DREs (1999). In 2000, after 80% of the citizens allegedly voted to increase taxes in a community that couldn't afford to do that and wouldn't have so voted, a lawsuit challenging a voting system which excludes citizens from its own elections was filed. Describing the problem of having a computer which generates the ballots, counts the ballots, prints out the results, checks itself and assures the citizens that everything's just fine, this citizen compares these computerized voting systems to HAL, the computer in 2001: A Space Odyssey, who says trust me, everything's fine, while everyone on the ship is dying.
These 'trust-me' computerized voting systems have mushroomed like a cancer in the last 6 years, with New York being the only state in the Nation to have resisted purchasing electronic voting systems. In 2002 Georgia became the first state to have their entire election run on DREs by one private company. And what a success these new voting systems were! In 2002, Georgia elected its first Republican governor since 1868 and within 2 years the Republicans took control of the State's Senate, Congress and Governor's office for the first time in 134 years.
There's another scene in the film which is particularly poignant given the very recent revelation that the same web server that was used by White House staff to communicate off-the-record, with assurance that their emails would be expunged from the computer (the missing emails emerging in the scandal surrounding Gonzales's firing of eight U.S. Attorneys) was also used in 2004 to count the votes in Ohio!
The film interviews those involved in the Riverside County, California race between public-safety union candidate Linda Soubirous and incumbent Supervisor, Bob Buster. The election was run on DREs. Linda Soubirous was hoping Buster would not receive the 50 percent plus one point he needed to win outright, thereby requiring a runoff between her and Buster. As the results poured in, with Buster at 47% and Soubirous at 37% (there was a third candidate) something strange happened. The election results stopped coming in. The vote count appeared to have just stopped. After the initial postings at 8:13 PM, there followed a long silence. The counting area was empty, but for two employees of Sequoia who sat at the computer terminals which affect the tabulation system. At 9:10 county employees piled back into the counting area and the results began to be posted again. Buster's lead steadily lengthened until he got just enough votes to put him over the 50% plus one he needed to avoid the runoff.
Over the next few days, as the totals from the absentee and mail-in paper ballots were added, Buster was losing his edge. Soubirous was ahead on the absentee/mail in paper ballot count, but not on the electronic tally. During this period, one of the two Sequoia employees who'd been busy at the computer during the lull in the count, returned to the tabulation terminals.
After Riverside County refused to conduct a proper recount of a March 2004 election, Soubirous sued to get the available information as to how the Sequoia voting machines counted the vote (evidence of malicious intervention cannot be detected, but assuming there was no malicious coding, Sequoia maintains that its system contains an extraordinary number of safeguards designed to accurately count the vote). Soubirous was unable to see any of the information that would have revealed how the vote was counted and recorded. Apparently under our new privatized election system in America, it is enough that the County Registrar (who resigned in the midst of this) and Sequoia might have access to this information. Neither the candidate nor the voters need to know, nor are allowed to know, how the votes are counted and recorded inside the machine!
If the something strange part sounds familiar that's because it now appears this is precisely what happened in Ohio in the 2004 presidential election:
Recently on April 22, 2007, Bob Fitrakis, co-author of "What Happened in Ohio? A documentary record of theft and fraud in the 2004 election", reported there was more than ample documentation to show that on Election Night 2004, Ohio's "official" Secretary of State website which gave the world the presidential election results was redirected from an Ohio government server to a group of servers that contain scores of Republican web sites, including the secret White House e-mail accounts that have emerged in the scandal surrounding Attorney General Alberto Gonzales's firing of eight federal prosecutors.
The highest ranking members of the Republican Party, including Karl Rove, controlled the vote-counting technology and Fitrakis is reporting, there is abundant evidence that Republicans could have used computing network to delay announcing the winner of Ohio's 2004 election while tinkering with the results. See http://www.freepress.org/departments/display/19/2007/2553
Up until midnight on Election Night, Kerry was predicted to win Ohio according to the national media consortium exit polls. But shortly after midnight, something strange happened. For about 90 minutes the Ohio election results reported on the Secretary of State's website were frozen. When the election returns started coming in again just before 2 AM Bush started pulling ahead.
We have known for awhile that many of the totals reported by the Secretary of State on Election Night were impossible. In Clyde, Ohio, a 131 percent voter turnout gave Bush that precinct. In Perry County, two precincts came in at 124 percent and 120 percent respectively. In another precinct, Bush received 4,258 votes, although only 638 people voted for president. In Miami County, the 679 out of 689 registered voters cast ballots according to the official tally, a 98.55 percent turnout. FreePress.org later found that only 547 voters had signed in. And what Fitrakis refers to as " the most eyebrow-raising example" were the official results showing 10,500 voters in Ohio's 'Bible Belt' who voted for Bush and for gay marriage.
The official web site of the Ohio Secretary of State, which showed Kerry significantly in the lead, is shut down for an hour and a half and when it comes back up suddenly Bush is winning all the way and this isn't considered news in America!
As the web site for The Right To Count states: election fraud has been part of our history and the history of every other country in the world since elections have been held. With the traditional paper ballot system still used in all countries in the world but a few, election fraud requires a gigantic effort that has to be replicated at each and every precinct around the country (my emphasis). Potential fraud in elections is a given. But fraud committed on computers permits very few people to commit massive fraud on a scale never possible or conceivable before. Computer enable fraud allows for outcome changing fraud.
How could the people's elections the means by which we assert our authority and consent to choose our public servants be taken over by the servants working with private corporations who control the information about the count? How could the count be made invisible, concealed from the people? What about the Declaration of Independence:
That to secure these [inalienable] rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or abolish it, and to institute new Government.
Hopefully this documentary will inspire more of us to fight back and reclaim the right which protects all other rights- the right to be free, self-governing people. And since we're New Yorkers, we can still resist having these unconstitutional systems imposed on us. There's still time in New York if we all act now.
The film is 104 minutes long
HELP AMERICA VOTE ON PAPER
This is an 18 minute DVD which can be downloaded free on line at http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-2189785998591450323 (or I can make you a copy if you can't do that). It is succinct, basic and touches on everything. I highly recommend showing it first along with whatever other film you're showing at the screening, as an introduction to the issues (except with maybe some of the longer films, depending on your crowd - ask them).
The film starts off stating that elections are a non-partisan issue and concludes that voting can't be privatized as it has: can't be handed over to private companies.
The film explains how the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) was pushed through by Bob Ney, its principle author, who is best known for his close ties to the Jack Abramoff corruption scandal. It contains information:
-- describing how voting vendors lobbied heavily to get HAVA passed and now those same vendors are the principle recipients of HAVA's exorbitant funding;
how Ney blocked every attempt to reform HAVA;
how now that the vendors have succeeded in getting the legislation they wanted (Diebold wrote large checks to Abramoff's lobbying firm- which sent a chunk of that money to Ney) they're exploiting HAVA by pushing only their more expensive and less secure DREs.
This 18 minute film, chocked full with information, also explains that a common misconception is that voting systems with federal certification are secure. In fact the "ill-named Independent Testing Authorities (ITAs)" are anything but independent. The testing and certification of all these machines (DREs and OptiScans) is done by ITA s hired and paid for by the voting vendors. Election attorney Lowel Finley explains, that is why the ITAs permit one defective system after another to be "certified". Once out in the field these machines perform terribly lose votes, switch votes in front of people's eyes.
Not only are these DREs insecure, but they cost the taxpayer millions more than paper-based voting systems: for every one OpticScan and Accessibility Device, 10 DREs must be purchased.
There's even a clip of former Republican Governor Ehrlich complaining about a 1,000% increase in maintenance cost with DREs, "costs skyrocketed as confidence in the system plummeted".
The film references and quotes from a number of the various studies which have been done, and I've included them here because I think it is important for people to recognize that the media isn't ignoring just anyone- they're ignoring government experts:
The Government Accountability Office (GAO) Report:
"Other computer programs could access cast vote files and alter them without the system recording this action"
" possible to gain full control of a regional vote tabulation computer including the ability to modify the voting software via a modem connection"
The GAO Report concluded that concerns raised regarding the security and reliability of electronic voting systems "have the potential to affect election outcomes"!
The Conyers Report:
Documented "massive and unprecedented voter irregularities and anomalies in Ohio"
"The role of voting machines and computers in our election represents an increasingly serious issue in our democracy"
Carter Baker Report:
"DRE software can be modified maliciously before being installed"
"If DREs can be manipulated....the same can be done with paper audit trails"
"there is no reason to trust insiders in the election industry any more than in other industries."
Black Box Voting Report:
The Harry Hursti hack proved untraceable flipping is possible on Dieblod Optical Scanners.
The films advocates paper-based voting systems, either paper ballots to be counted by hand or by OptiScans so long as there are also manual audits with vote totals posted at the precinct in order to confirm the OptiScan accuracy. The film also makes it clear that DREs, with or without a paper trail, must be abolished because the software is too easily rigged and proper auditing is not possible.
The film goes on to talk about the more sophisticated forms of voter suppression that have emerged:
--Illegal voter purges
--Voter ID laws
--Electronic Voting Machines
Finally the film encourages us to take action in the form of:
- Calling, writing and visiting election officials
-Going to hearings
-Demanding a moratorium on DREs
-Insisting on hand counted paper ballots or paper ballots counted on OptiScans with audits
-Showing this DVD
-Volunteering to work the polls
- Filing lawsuits
TRUTH IN THE BOOTH
This is a great film that weaves the story of electronic vote corruption with the life of a true American hero, Clint Curtis. This film should definitely be shown with the 18 minute film because it does not attempt to be as thorough in covering all aspects of the issues, the way Stealing America or Commander in Thief does, because it has a very special story to tell.
Clint Curtis seems to live by an inner mantra that one has to do the right thing, at whatever personal cost, because it is the right thing to do. Curtis was working for Yang Enterprises, an engineering consulting firm that has contracts with NASA, among others, when he was contacted by Tom Feeney about vote-flipping software. Feeney was a member of the Florida legislature while he acted as the general counsel and the registered lobbyist for Yang, a clear conflict of interest.
Feeney had asked Curtis if it was possible to design software that would enable one to change the results of an election undetectably. Curtis told him it was indeed possible and was then asked to create such a program. Curtis, a life long Republican, assumed initially that this effort was aimed at detecting Democratic fraud, but later learned that it was intended to benefit the Republican Party. Curtis thought they were kidding or crazy.
After he realized Feeney and his employer were serious about using software to rig the election, Curtis left Yang because he found them to be "ethically challenged." He moved on to a post at the Florida Department of Transportation, which unfortunately also had contracts with Yang. He came across invoices over-billing for his own services at Yang. Approximately a year after taking the job with the DOT Curtis and another whistle blower, Georgalis's, were fired along with half a dozen employees who were familiar with the Department's Yang connection.
Yang had tried to entice Curtis back, and he was then offered $1 million to leave Tallahassee and keep quiet about what he knew. Curtis didn't take the bribe. He has been black listed and can no longer get employment in his field.
Curtis testified about this under oath before Congress in December 2004, and later passed a polygraph test on every count. It should be noted that this vote rigging technology, could be used in any electronic tabulation machine or optical scanner.
Raymond Lemme, an investigator from the Florida Inspector General's office, looked into Curtis and Georgalis's allegations and told Curtis that the trail went right up to the top. Several weeks before the story was due to break, Lemme was found dead under suspicious circumstances. Curtis was threatened not to be alone, and his dog was shot.
Notwithstanding the threats to his life, Curtis has shown great courage and pushed on. This past November he ran against Feeney for Congress. He lost, of course, on the paperless DREs used in the race. He is currently challenging the election, but as Curtis knows well, rigging can be designed to leave no evidence. Campaign volunteers have canvassed the precincts and found that Curtis received far more votes than shown on the computer's tally. They have obtained sworn affidavits from voters and Curtis contends that he received 12-24% more votes than stated in the official result.
See http://www.bradblog.com/?page_id=4454 for a summary and the most complete coverage you'll find on this heroic whistle blower. And ask yourself why isn't the main stream media more interested in what Curtis has to say?
Feeney, the man who, as Speaker of the Florida House in 2000, promised to deliver the state's Electoral Votes to George W. Bush no matter what those democracy haters on the U.S. Supreme Court had to say about it, is one of the most corrupt members of Congress. His extensive career of documented lies and political favors may finally be starting to catch up with him. His connections to Jack Abramoff are beginning to get some attention in the establishment press: He'd initially claimed that the cost of his Scotland golf trip was paid for by the National Center for Public Policy Research, but the Center denied paying for the trip and it appears that Jack Abramoff was the person who actually footed the bill. Feeney's been interviewed recently by the FBI. The House Ethics Committee has already found him to be in violation of House Rules prohibiting lobbyist-paid travel.
Truth in the Booth is a story of the true American spirit, which all of us need to get in touch with. There's a shot of Curtis addressing a group, earnestly appealing to all of us to drop whatever activism we're pursuing and focus only on this one issue for two months. "If you don't fix that [election system] problem nothing else you do will matter."
We will be bringing Clint Curtis up to the Hudson Valley in the next few months to talk about his experiences and bring us up to date on his ongoing struggle to speak truth to power and challenge the system which is threatening the very foundation of this country. Please see the film and find out what more you can do to support Clint's efforts.