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Truth in the Booth: The Clint Curtis Story

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Truth in the Booth: The Clint Curtis Story By Joan Brunwasser, Voting Integrity Editor, OpEdNews November 1, 2006 I may be getting a reputation as a one-trick pony. First, it was my Invisible Ballots lending-library project. Then it was my dedication to OpEdNews and voting integrity. Now, it seems like I'm a full-time reviewer of election material, having done Steven Freeman's book on exit polls, Hacked! by Vickie Karp and Abbe DeLozier, Sheri Myers' Cheated, and the movies Man of the Year, No Umbrella, and most recently, Dorothy Fadiman's Stealing America: Vote by Vote. David Earnhardt's documentary, Eternal Vigilance, is waiting patiently in line as well. But, it is difficult to ignore Truth in the Booth: The Clint Curtis Story. Curtis is popping up all over the place, in documentaries as well as books about our recent voting debacles. Since this review is time sensitive, instead of giving it the care I usually devote to my writing - which would have left it well after the midterm elections - I have tried to put something together quite quickly. I ask your forbearance with this unpolished piece. Clint Curtis worked for Yang Enterprises (YEI), an engineering consulting firm that has contracts with NASA, among others. While working at Yang, 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. A lifelong Republican, Curtis assumed that Feeney and the party were trying to prevent Democrats from using this type of strategy to win the election. Feeney asked him if touch-screen machines could be programmed to flip votes invisibly, and Curtis answered that this was indeed possible. He was then told to create a system that would accomplish this task without leaving a trace were someone to examine the source code. His employer revealed to him that the purpose of this assignment was to control the vote in South Florida. Curtis testified about this under oath before Congress in December 2004, and later passed a polygraph test on every count. His claims have also borne the scrutiny of investigative journalist Brad "BradBlog" Friedman, one of the only members of the press to be on top of this story from the get-go. Curtis decided to resign from Yang because he found them to be "ethically challenged." He moved on to a post at the Florida Department of Transportation, which, surprise, surprise, had contracts with Yang. He came across invoices over-billing for his own services at Yang, a practice that continued after he had left the company and was already employed by the Department of Transportation. Curtis has refused to shut up. He was fired from his job at the Department of Transportation at the same time as whistleblower Mavis Georgalis. In all, half a dozen employees who were familiar with the Department's Yang connection were purged from their positions. Yang first tried to entice Curtis back, and he was then offered $1 million to leave Tallahassee and keep quiet about what he knew. 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. This is the man who's running against Tom Feeney. In a day and age when it's common to tar all politicians with the same brush, what this story makes readily apparent is that they are clearly not all the same. If you can judge someone by the company he keeps, Clint Curtis is right up there with the best of them in terms of personal integrity and conscience. This short film features Brad "BradBlog" Friedman, Bob Fitrakis of the Free Press, and fellow whistleblower Mavis Georgalis. I don't even hold Curtis's former ties to the Republican party against him. In fact, quite the opposite - they give credence to his tale. He was an insider who just said "No." Bob Fitrakis, the political scientist who has also provided much of the coverage on pre-, and post-election Ohio 2004, is interviewed in the film. He states that election fraud has always been a part of our history. Vote suppression was once accomplished through poll taxes and lynching. Now, we've got "high tech Jim Crow" where men in suits representing private corporations surgically disenfranchise millions of poor and minority voters through vote purging, challenges, machine malfunctions, and other invisible methods. The difference between how slot machines and electronic voting machines are tested and supervised is enormous and revealing. The late-breaking, scathing University of Connecticut report on Diebold optical scanners completes this picture. Between the Princeton report and this one, we've covered the gamut of electronic voting machinery technology. It is full of holes, and susceptible to tampering and vote fraud. The evidence is there for all to see. Now, what are we going to do about it? Clint Curtis is speaking out. There's a link on YouTube where people can watch a trailer for Truth in the Booth. Two viewer comments sum it up. "Clint Curtis is drawing a line in the sand for all of us. Visit his website at ClintCurtis.com, and support his run for congress." "I love America because of people like this man. More! My only question is how does he expect to win when he himself has seen how easy it is to be beaten illegally..." I agree with both of these comments. Yes, Curtis has stood up for all of us and deserves our support. Can he win with a corrupt and extremely porous voting system? Unfortunately, probably not. But, at this point, standing with Curtis is an important statement for us to make. At the Nashville conference last year, Curtis gave a speech in which he called on all activists with an agenda to suspend their particular interest in an effort to band together to forward election reform. His point is well taken. Without election reform and no way to vote out those in power, none of our agendas can make any headway. This reminds me of a quote I once read by Benjamin Franklin. After signing the Declaration of Independence, at a time when the colonies were marked by divisiveness, he wisely stated, "We must indeed all hang together, or, most assuredly, we shall all hang separately." I find this very apt for our present circumstances. Curtis needs money in the last days of his campaign. At first blush, this might seem like a bad investment considering what we know about Feeney's ruthlessness, and the corrupted system in Florida. But I think it's important to show that people support and appreciate what Clint Curtis stands for. We must get back into the practice of participatory democracy, even as we may need to begin reinventing it. This long, hard slog to take back our country has to start somewhere. The impossible remains impossible until someone takes the first step. I would have told this story even if I hadn't been asked to. There are few heroes these days, and Clint Curtis is decidedly one of them. We all owe him a debt of gratitude. If he hadn't stepped up to testify before Congress, this shameful chapter would have been buried in history with no one the wiser. Contact http://www.clintcurtis.com to let them know that they can count on your support!
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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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