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Insight into the Power behind the Electronic Voting Machine Corporations

By Chris Floyd, Moscow Times  Posted by Joan Brunwasser (about the submitter)       (Page 1 of 3 pages)     Permalink

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Friday, Sep. 19, 2003. Page XII


It's a shell game, with money, companies and corporate brands switching
in a blur of buyouts and bogus fronts. It's a sinkhole, where mobbed-up
operators, paid-off public servants, crazed Christian fascists, CIA
shadow-jobbers, war-pimping arms dealers -- and presidential family
members -- lie down together in the slime. It's a hacker's dream, with
pork-funded, half-finished, secretly programmed computer systems
installed without basic security standards by politically partisan
private firms, and protected by law from public scrutiny. It's how the
United States, the "world's greatest democracy," casts its votes. And
it's why George W. Bush will almost certainly be the next president of
the United States -- no matter what the people of the United States
might want.

The American vote-count is controlled by three major corporate players
-- Diebold, ES&S, and Sequoia -- with a fourth, Science Applications
International Corporation, coming on strong. These companies -- all of
them hardwired into the Bushist Party power grid -- have been given
billions of dollars by the Bush Regime to complete a sweeping
computerization of voting machines nationwide by the 2004 election.
These glitch-riddled systems -- many using "touch-screen" technology
that leaves no paper trail at all -- are almost laughably open to
manipulation, according to corporate whistleblowers and computer
scientists at Stanford, Johns Hopkins and other universities.

The technology had a trial run in the 2002 midterm elections. In
Georgia, serviced by new Diebold systems, a popular Democratic governor
and senator were both unseated in what the media called "amazing"
upsets, with results showing vote swings of up to 16 percent from the
last pre-ballot polls. In computerized Minnesota, former Vice President
Walter Mondale -- a replacement for popular incumbent Paul Wellstone,
who died days before the vote -- was also defeated in a large
last-second vote swing. Convenient "glitches" in Florida saw an untold
number of votes intended for the Democratic candidate registering
instead for Governor Jeb "L'il Brother" Bush. A Florida Democrat who
lost a similarly "glitched" local election went to court to have the
computers examined -- but the case was thrown out by a judge who ruled
that the innards of America's voting machines are the "trade secrets"
of the private companies who make them.

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Who's behind these private companies? It's hard to tell: The corporate
lines -- even the bloodlines -- of these "competitors" are so
intricately mixed. For example, at Diebold -- whose corporate chief,
Wally O'Dell, a top Bush fundraiser, has publicly committed himself to
"delivering" his home state's votes to Bush next year -- the election
division is run by Bob Urosevich. Bob's brother, Todd, is a top
executive at "rival" ES&S. The brothers were originally staked in the
vote-count business by Howard Ahmanson, a member of the Council for
National Policy, a right-wing "steering group" stacked with Bushist
faithful.

Ahmanson is also one of the bagmen behind the extremist "Christian
Reconstructionist" movement, which openly advocates a theocratic
takeover of American democracy, placing the entire society under the
"dominion" of "Christ the King." This "dominion" includes the death
penalty for homosexuals, exclusion of citizenship for non-Christians,
stoning of sinners and -- we kid you not -- slavery, "one of the most
beneficent of Biblical laws."

Ahmanson also has major holdings in ES&S, whose former CEO is
Republican Senator Chuck Hagel of Nebraska. When Hagel ran for office,
his own company counted the votes; needless to say, his initial victory
was reported as "an amazing upset." Hagel still has a million-dollar
stake in the parent company of ES&S. In Florida, Jeb Bush's first
choice for a running mate in his 1998 gubernatorial race was ES&S
lobbyist Sandra Mortham, who made a mint installing the machines that
counted Jeb's votes.

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Sequoia also has a colorful history, most recently in Louisiana, where
it was the center of a massive corruption case that sent top state
officials to jail for bribery, most of it funneled through
Mob-connected front firms. Sequoia executives were also indicted, but
escaped trial after giving immunized testimony against state officials.
The British-owned company's corporate parent is private equity firm
Madison Dearborn -- a partner of the Carlyle Group, where George Bush I
makes millions trolling the world for war pork, privatizations and
sweetheart deals with government insiders.

Meanwhile, the shadowy defense contractor SAIC has jumped into the
vote-counting game, both directly and through spinoffs by its top
brass, including Admiral Bill Owens, former military aide to Dick
Cheney and Carlyle honcho Frank Carlucci, and ex-CIA chief Robert
Gates. SAIC's history of fraud charges and security lapses in its
electronic systems hasn't prevented it from becoming one of the largest
Pentagon and CIA contractors -- and will doubtless pose little obstacle
to its entrance into election engineering.

The mad rush to install unverifiable computer voting is driven by the
Help America Vote Act, signed by Bush last year. The chief lobbying
group pushing for the act was a consortium of arms dealers -- those
disinterested corporate citizens -- including Northop-Grumman and
Lockheed-Martin. The bill also mandates that all states adopt the
computerized "ineligible voter purge" system that Jeb used to eliminate
91,000 eligible black voters from the Florida rolls in 2000. The
Republican-run private company that accomplished this electoral
miracle, ChoicePoint, is bagging the lion's share of the new
Bush-ordered purge contracts.

The unelected Bush Regime now controls the government, the military,
the judiciary -- and the machinery of democracy itself. Absent some
unlikely great awakening by the co-opted dullards of the corporate
media, next November the last shreds of a genuine American republic
will disappear -- at the push of a button.

Annotations


E-Voting: How it Can Put the Wrong Candidate in Office
Common Dreams, Sept. 3, 2003

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The Theft of Your Vote is Just a Chip Away
Thom Hartmann, July 31, 2003


How George W. Bush Won the 2004 Presidential Election
Infernal Press, September 2003


Now Your Vote is the Property of a Private Corporation
Thom Hartmann, March 11, 2003

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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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