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In 2006, Voting Fraud is the Keystone Issue

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On the one hand, the Bush Administration, the Republican party and the Republican Congress, with the continuing connivance of the corporate media and the persistent indifference of the Democratic party, may successfully resist public demands for electoral reform, and consequently the existing system of unverifiable voting and secret software will remain in place. If so, then the Republicans will surely retain control of the Congress, regardless of the will of the American people.

On the other hand, if, at last, it becomes irrefutably clear to a large portion of the general public that the 2000 and 2004 presidential elections were stolen, along with key congressional races in 2002, and if indictments follow and a fair election ensues, then public outrage will result in the Democratic control of at least one, and more likely, both houses of Congress. Still worse will then be in store for those who stole our elections and our democracy, as the congressional Democrats gain the power of subpoena and the threats of perjury and contempt of Congress. The likely outcome will be the disintegration of the Republican conspiracy, and the relegation of that party to minority status for the next generation.

The ballot is the heart of democracy. If one party "owns" the ballot box, it owns the government, for that party is no longer answerable to the will of the people; it rules without the "consent of the governed." Thus it is no wonder that the Bush regime and the GOP want to keep this issue off the public agenda. We can't allow them to succeed. It's as simple as that.

The Busheviks, their Congressional toadies, and their fat-cat sponsors are fully aware of the stakes. Not only do they want to remain in power and keep their ill-gotten booty, many of them want desperately to stay out of the federal slammer. Accordingly, there may virtually nothing that they might not resort to in order to avoid this outcome. Things could get very nasty.

So it all comes down to this: voting fraud is the keystone issue for this year. If the keystone remains intact and in place, the structure will endure, and the United States will continue along the road toward oligarchy and despotism. Remove the keystone, and the structure will collapse, opening the possibility for a restoration of the rule of law and of a government of, by, and for the people.

At this moment the outcome of the struggle for ballot integrity is uncertain and is, in no small part, in the hands of ordinary American citizens, for our political establishment and our corporate media have forsaken us and our republic, while the ostensible "opposition party" is AWOL. It is up to us in our everyday, face-to-face-dealings with our fellow citizens, and through our remaining mode of public communication, the internet, to force the issue into the mainstream media, on to the agenda of a reluctant Democratic Party, and into the criminal courts.

Despite the coordinated and so-far successful effort by the media and the GOP to keep the election fraud issue contained, the pressure under the lid of media and establishment silence is rising, as more and more evidence of stolen elections and of the vulnerability of computerized voting seeps into public awareness. This evidence includes: the report of the Congressional General Accountability Office, the spectacular "hacking" demonstrations in Florida, statistically impossible polling vs. voting discrepancies in the 2005 Ohio election, leaks from whistle blowers within the e-voting industry, and the actual and pending decertification of paperless touch-screen machines in a growing list of counties and states. Add to all this the continuing output of articles and now books by Mark Crispin Miller, by Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman , by John Conyers and his congressional colleagues, and soon still another book by the statistician, Steven Freeman.

As a consequence of growing public concern, stocks in the e-voting companies have sharply declined and stockholder suits and criminal charges are pending against company officials. Diebold CEO, Walden O'Dell, who foolishly released a letter in which he vowed to deliver Ohio to George Bush, has resigned. All this upheaval suggests that the criminal and civil courts may at last expose the racketeering in the private election industry, succeeding where Congress and the media have failed.

Clearly, this is an issue that refuses to be starved from lack of feeding by the mainstream media. The "keystone" is loose and it is disintegrating.

There is an overwhelming accumulation of statistical, anecdotal and circumstantial evidence that paperless, secretly coded voting machines are facilitators of massive fraud that have succeeded in stealing numerous elections, most significantly the presidential elections of 2000 and 2004. Because I have discussed this evidence in several essays, and because The Crisis Papers has collected links to hundreds of articles about election fraud and electoral integrity, I will not repeat that evidence here.

There is, however, little direct evidence of fraud, that is to say, evidence obtained through examination of the machines and their software or of controlled experiments with these machines. There is little direct evidence simply because the manufacturers will not allow it, and no courts or government agencies have successfully demanded such scrutiny. This refusal by the e-voting companies brings to mind numerous troubling "how-come" questions which, as long as they remain unanswered, must be added to the weight of evidence of electoral fraud.. Among these questions:

1. Why must the software ("source codes") in the machines be kept secret? Diebold is so insistent that its codes be kept secret that, rather than disclose them to North Carolina election officials as required by state law, they withdrew their machines from that state. Why is this? The companies reply that they keep these codes secret to prevent copyright infringement. That defense is absurd on its face. Musical and written works are, by their nature, intrinsically "open" - fully available to potential plagiarists. Yet music and text are effectively protected by copyright. Likewise, publicly sold and distributed software. Furthermore, the source codes could be examined by independent software experts on condition that they remain secret. No dice, say the companies. Because there is no conceivably benign reason why e-voting software should be kept secret, even from the restricted scrutiny of public officials, one is compelled to conclude that expert examination of the software would give the game away.

2. Diebold and several other e-voting companies complain that paper records of e-votes would be prohibitively expensive and impractical. Yet these same companies manufacture the receipt-yielding ATM and fuel-pump machines with which we are all familiar. Last year I happened to watch a CSPAN broadcast of a congressional hearing on e-voting. In it a representative of one of the e-voting companies produced a broadsheet approximately a foot wide and a yard long, and told the committee that such a sheet would be required for each vote. It was, of course, a damnable and desperate lie. In last year's local elections, I voted (most reluctantly) on a touch-screen machine, which printed out for my inspection a record of my vote on a slip of paper about two by six inches in size. A big improvement over a paperless machine, if less than completely reassuring. The state of Nevada along with many local jurisdictions around the country, requires paper printouts of e-votes. Yet the companies continue to oppose legislation requiring paper validation. What possible reason, both plausible and innocent, can explain this resistance by the e-voting companies? If none, then a suspicious explanation is readily at hand.

3., among other citizen groups, has repeatedly requested access to a randomly selected touch-screen machine so that their experts might examine the reliability and the security of the machines. They have routinely been refused. Diebold is willing to supply a machine that it has pre-selected (and thus possibly "fixed"). However a random selection of a machine actually in use is prohibited and Diebold has even sent out letters to its customers demanding that they not allow independent examination of their systems.

4. Finally, and perhaps most significantly, we ask: What possible advantage to the Republicans and the e-voting companies is gained by their refusal to publish their source codes and to allow independent expert examination of the systems and effective validation of vote totals? What advantage, that is to say, other than the ability to alter vote totals and steal elections at will? This persisting issue of ballot integrity is causing the companies and the GOP enormous problems. As noted above, bad publicity attending this controversy is having a serious impact upon the value of Diebold stock, prompting stockholder lawsuits. The same publicity is causing widespread and growing public doubt about the legitimacy of the Bush Administration and the Republican control of Congress. What is more important to a private company than "the bottom line"? What is more important to a political party than the public perception of its legitimacy? If, as the companies and the GOP insist, e-voting is completely honest and reliable, why not allow definitive proof thereof? If such exculpatory proof is forthcoming and widely publicized (as it most assuredly would be), company profits and stock prices would immediately soar, Republican political control would be solidified, and its critics permanently discredited and silenced.

Come on, Diebold, ES&S, Sequoia and the Republican National Committee. Why won't you allow, indeed insist upon and promote, definitive validation of the accuracy and security of e-voting? What conceivable advantage is gained by this continuing resistance and secrecy? What advantage, other than the continuing control of the ballot and thus of the government? Tell us - if you can!

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Dr. Ernest Partridge is a consultant, writer and lecturer in the field of Environmental Ethics and Public Policy. Partridge has taught philosophy at the University of California, and in Utah, Colorado and Wisconsin. He publishes the website, "The (more...)

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