Fooled Again Series: Exclusive Interview with "Diebold Whistleblower" Steve Heller
By Joan Brunwasser, Voting Integrity editor, OpEdNews August 26,2007
For those of you who don't know him, Steve Heller became an election integrity activist after the 2000 election debacle in Florida. He became known as the "Diebold Whistleblower" when in January 2004, he stole and exposed legal documents providing smoking gun evidence about Diebold Election Systems' nefarious activities in the State of California. Partly as a result of Steve's actions, in April 2004, former California Secretary of State Kevin Shelley de-certified Diebold in California for what he called their "fraudulent," "despicable," and "deceitful behavior."*
For stealing and exposing legal documents, Steve was charged by the Los Angeles District Attorney with three felonies. In November 2006, he pleaded guilty to one felony count of unauthorized access to a computer. He is currently on felony probation.
Steve is an actor, writer, political progressive and election integrity activist. He lives in Los Angeles with his wife, actor and writer Michele Gregory. He is also a personal hero of mine.
Q. Welcome to OpEdNews, Steve! I'm delighted that you have agreed to participate in this series of interviews and reflections on the state of our elections, viewed through the prism of Mark Crispin Miller's Fooled Again. Please tell us how you got involved in fighting for integrity in our elections.
After the 2000 election, there was a veritable snowstorm of news stories about hanging chads, but nothing in the America press about electronic voting or the electronic voting machine companies. Electronic voting was something that at that point in time I knew nothing about. The corporate controlled media in the United States wasn't helping much; as is unfortunately so often the case these days, if you want real news about America, you need to go to the foreign press and to the blogs. So I did. In the foreign press I read about electronic voting and about the companies that make the machines, especially Diebold (as my grandmother used to say, "May their name be erased!").
In the foreign press I read about the problems with the voting machines, the lack of security, the lack of oversight, and I read about the personal, political, and most importantly the very extensive web of financial ties (follow the money, right?) between Diebold and one of the two major political parties in America. I'll give you one guess which political party it is.
Because of my research, I soon knew more about electronic voting and the voting machine companies than did most people in America. That's not bragging, because at that point in time almost no one in America knew anything about Diebold or electronic voting because the American press wouldn't cover it. The only reason I knew about it was because I'm a hardcore news junkie.
Q. What else did you read to bring yourself up to speed on this subject?
A. Well, the most important thing I read was Bev Harris' book Black Box Voting. Frankly, that book scared the hell out of me, and it also got me angry. After reading Black Box Voting, I came to believe and I still believe that there is an on-going conspiracy to suppress the votes of minority and impoverished (read: Democratic) voters and pervert American elections. This conspiracy has been put into place and is being perpetuated by dishonorable people.
Years ago, if a person had said those words to me - an ongoing conspiracy to suppress votes and pervert America elections - I would have rolled my eyes and thought the person ought to just put on a tin-foil hat and get it over with. But no more. I've seen the evidence, I've seen the documents, I've seen the facts. And it's all too horribly true.
Q. Some examples, please.
A. We've seen Bradley Schlozman, the recently resigned former U.S. Attorney for Kansas City and controversial deputy head at the Civil Rights Division, bring indictments of ACORN workers just five days before the November 2004 elections. He brought these indictments despite the policy of the Justice Department, which is to not bring election related indictments just before an election. And Schlozman's big investigation of voter fraud led the grand jury to indict four ACORN workers for forging a total of six, count 'em, six voter registration forms.