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July 27, 2006

"Off the Paper Trail" and finding ourselves on our own "Trail of Tears"

By John Ervin

Adding paper trails to voting machines is no sure defense, if at all, against these hackable electronic Trojan Horses: DREs ( Direct Recording Electronic voting machines, i.e., without any "hard copy;", without any sure way to confirm what's gone on inside the "black boxes" ). In pointed fact: paper trails, when merely appended to these obscure gadgets are really no defense of our voting rights, at all.


"Off the paper trail" ~~ and finding ourselves on our own "Trail of Tears"

This is written as a response and appreciation for Mark Crispin Miller's recent post, "Let's get off the paper trail." ( Miller is the author of "Fooled Again" a post-mortem of the many and multi-tiered crimes of our 2004 Presidential "Election," with its cast of thousands, most of them criminals ). Miller's article in itself was a response to Michael Scherer's piece, about "taking the paper trail to Washington," at, and both can be found at the following link at Smirking Chimp:

Hoping to follow Miller's fine advice in his post, to "get off the paper trail," I will do so ~~ and we will wind up taking an unexpected detour. After considering his cautionary point, I will ask for your company, especially, as we strike out on quite another trail altogether: one that I find leads to a yet darker place in our collective (and real) history. I will do my best to trim it with our hopes.

But, that trail, winding as it does out of our distant national past, into the present day, can be clearly discerned in these times as bleeding into our very own "Trail of Tears." And it has a deep and causal relationship to our current and unremedied electoral malaise.

But let's first reprise Miller's pithy diagnosis of the current "reforms" of the Holt Bill:

"....We have heard it argued that the Holt bill is a half-step in the right
direction, and that some reform is surely preferable to none at all. In
this case that's a dangerous self-delusion. Sometimes "compromise" can
only make things worse, as there really is no valid "middle way." So it
is with torture, and illegal wars. Whatever "compromise" serves merely
to protract such horrors is finally nothing but abetment, however
well-intended it may be...."

Miller points out ~ correctly, to be blunt with an opinion ( the death agony of our democracy is really not the time for niceties ) ~ that adding paper trails to voting machines is no sure defense, if at all, against these hackable electronic Trojan Horses: DREs ( Direct Recording Electronic voting machines, i.e., without any "hard copy;" the majority of our polls now have these gizmos, without any sure way to confirm what's gone on inside the "black boxes" ). In pointed fact: paper trails, when merely appended to these obscure gadgets ( more or less as an afterthought ~ or perhaps as an appeasement of the "Stepford Chapter" of voting reform activists: those who will "go gently into that good night" of black box voting, too easily content with meaningless "reform" ) are really no defense of our voting rights, at all. And the Holt Bill ~ which presents itself as a compromise ~ a band aid, really, for our deeply stricken democracy ~ is flimsy enough to warrant a charge of collusion with the enemy, as always is the case with such Vichy "compromises" with unacceptable criminal assault against a people, a public. ( Think: Neville Chamberlain returning to England after pressing the flesh with Hitler, and his widely trumpeted motto, "Peace in Our Time!" ~ if some apt parallel is required ). And the assault upon our democratic voting processes, carried out by Congress, is deeply and wittingly criminal.

Such absence of any spine in the "reform," and the same absence among our "representatives," merely "enables" the pirates of our voting rights to continue their piracies, in other ways, new or old, blunt or sly, on the same or some other High Seas ~ be they the far reaches of Cyberspace, or vulnerable software, or optical scanners such as have been used since well over forty years ( rendering purely suspect the results of all our elections that far back, and beyond ). This is true of any and all of the useless, if fancy, machinery that interposes itself between "we the people" and simple paper.

Simple paper. And that is ALL that we need to record a true vote ( with indelible ink, not evaporative kilobytes ) and a credible vote ~ one that can render a witnessed, public, and accurate count ~ and a provable account, or a needed recount. The vote, itself. The vote, in full. ( Some of these machines have even been sent software "patches" in past important American "elections" by "programmers" who merely "phone them in," downloading them wirelessly from cell-phones, even from outside our country ~ many of these shady "voting techs" without citizenship as Americans, but with long criminal records nonetheless. These "patches," once downloaded, have the capability to "cannibalize" themselves, disappearing without any trace. More importantly: changing the results. The very vote counts themselves. Bev Harris, of, detailed these methods, these facts, in early 2004 on "Coast to Coast AM" before a national audience, and many times since. This morning I received an email from Pokey Anderson informing our online groups that she has just a new article, the results of her own year and a half investigation of these aspects of wireless telecom voting fraud, titled "Even a Remote Chance?" So look for that, and further clues to these well hidden crimes. )

What Mark Crispin Miller says about the "electoral reform" parody going on apace in Washington these days, as reported in Scherer's article, is nicely pointed and telling:

"Now, we must ask ourselves: Would that movement be frustrated, its agenda thwarted, by the use of paper trails? Evidently not--since members of that very movement also back the Holt bill with enthusiasm. As the Salon piece points out, Mary Kiffmeyer, Minnesota's Secretary of State, has now testified in favor of the bill. It is more than relevant to note that Kiffmeyer is a stalwart Bushevik and theocratic maniac, who has publicly deplored the separation of church and state, and who did everything she could to slash the Democratic vote in Minnesota in the last election. (That appalling story is in Fooled Again, pp. 138-39.) Her record is so dismal that she's now in trouble, facing a strong challenge by Mark Ritchie, who knows full well what she has done to the electoral system in his state and means to change the situation. That such an operative as she--and David Cole, and John Groh of ES&S, and other Bushist agents--would support this measure tells us all we need to know about its usefulness......

....And so it is with the far-right crusade against American democracy. We must oppose that drive in every way we can--and that means not allowing its own managers to cast themselves as champions of electoral "reform."

Well, that has been our slogan as well for some time now, "Fake reform always trumps true reform, wherever the spirit of reform is absent." In fact, it is in one form or another a tagline and mantra of everyone in the voting protection movement, all of us who understand the how and why of this long prevalence of theft of the United States' vote, one greatly accelerating in the past several elections: "Nothing delays or derails true reform more effectively than fake reform." ( In fact, given the disingenousness, and bulging bank accounts ~of these DC "reformers" especially~ "fake reform" is a more correct phrase than "weak reform." When a reform is premeditatedly "weak," it's fake, more than it is weak. That is a key clue, and evidence of this ongoing conspiracy.

Another key clue: many of these self-styled "reformers" are among the greatest culprits ~and beneficiaries~ of rigged elections ( and we can well recall Jeb Bush and Katherine Harris among the first to hold a joint press conference, only some months after the 2000 Florida election meltdown, and the trotting out of their own trojan horses ~ disguised as voting machines ~ for us all to gape at, as their offering of "cures" for chads and what ails democracy.... Caveat emptor !! ) Senator Chuck Hagel has become a major player on The Hill; he himself has had past part ownership of Omaha's ES&S voting machine company, it is now counting 60% of the American vote (electronically, evaporatively). In fact, that's how he was first elected, as a package deal: senatorial candidate, and a key cog at ES&S. He went from trailing overwhelmingingly, at the start of his first successful campaign, to a stunning victory. Etc. ( Frank Carlucci ~ Reagan's Secretary of Defense, Princeton room-mate of Donald Rumsfeld, and business partner of Old Man Bush ~ sits on the advisory board of Populex, the company that now "handles" the Illinois vote. Other such members of this exclusive club "handling" our democracy are too numerous for the scope of this piece, but can be found on links to "voting company ownership" at Lynn Landes' home page of )

As in past Mexican "elections," so often notoriously rigged to produce the desired criminal result, the clear link we have to banana republicanism now can be found in how many of our representatives would not even be holding office, but for the clear presence of such large-scale counterfeiting rings, busily fabricating OUR vote. And, most importantly of all, there would not be these decisive majorities now in all branches of our governments, all of them favoring large corporate interests, without these counterfeiters.

When a reform is premeditatedly "weak," that's a sign it's been done to us with malice aforethought: fake, more than weak. ( That would be, ah, HAVA. ) The Congressman from Ohio, Bob Ney, the author of HAVA ~ and now, as a practical matter, speedily nearing total disgrace as the only "known associate" expressly identified by Jack Abramoff in court documents as a perp in other major frauds~ named this piece of "legislation" the "Help America Vote Act," or HAVA.

But we suspect that Bob Ney ~ one of the chief sponsors of the move to rename french fries, "freedom fries," and other such pressing cultural business ~ was really thinking something more like "Help Aristocrats Void America," for his call letters. Since, that has been the practical result of this "reform." )

And so in the shadow of this long parade and charade of high-stakes gamblers and hijackers of our democracy, this roulette wheel called the "reform" of our "elections" continues to spin, while most of America stands, or rather sits, transfixed (or dozing). "Round and round it goes, and where it stops, nobody knows." ( Surreally, both Diebold and L.A. voting's Ink-A-Vote make Las Vegas casino-style slot machines that feature much of the same proprietary software used in "our" voting machines. )

These power "brokers" ( democracy breakers, bankrupters ) will play this shell game with the children of America till the cows come home, and until some of them jump over the moon ( aghast out of all normal bovine balance, forced as they are to witness passively such a colossal human farce ). That's just some small way to establish a time frame for these ongoing deceptions. In sum, our "representatives" will never stop faking the vote unless or until we make them stop, and write a fail-safe voting process, iron-clad, into law. We must do it as a mass movement.

They won't. Ever. Anyone who's studied the wide-ranging evidence of these thefts, on so many levels, has come away shocked at the depth of deception of our voters. And that includes the largest of helping hands from both our intelligence communities ( shadow agencies ) and organized crime. ( Veridian, which set up Hart InterCivic voting company in Texas, for one example, recruits by their own admission out of the CIA. That much, they admit. )

And in the meantime, the perps will simply switch tracks, or modes, of fraud. As long as we continue to allow any open doors in our voting methods. Let's make this the most clear of the several issues that are raised by Mark Crispin Miller: they will continue to accomplish this with the one tool that serves them best: endless variations on a theme, of fake reforms, as they have the means, the money, and the muscle to put up as many false fronts of "progress" as they will ever need. That's why we must not settle for these half measures, but make American voting impenetrable, or we will pay a price of complete slavery. And that's the point of our rant: one person can survive not casting his vote, by abstaining. But not a whole society. Lose your mutual vote, lose your lives.

All this fraud can be ended with the one, the only, true reform that will ever answer: physical paper for the votes, people to count them, and in small precincts ( two or three hundred voters ), publicly and redundantly witnessed, posted in plain view on the door for all to see ( and keep on seeing ), and then the results and counts confirmed by one and all as they are simply passed up the line..... Simple arithmetic. Such is a voting process that can't be hacked, by its very definition. Just as "fraud moves around obstacles in its path like water flows around rocks," such transparency is widely articulated among millions of voters, of our public, our peoples, like a mighty river made of all the converging waters of a live democracy, flowing around the many obstacles that crime will be certain to offer.

But in the sweet (or dangerous) bye and bye, Fake reform ~ just as its predatory equivalent in the Media, what Jon Stewart calls "Fake News" ~ is even more immediately deadly to our interests than all the massive counterfeits we see everywhere else in this country, for some time : our air quality, waters, and all ecosystems, as well as our foodstuffs now stuffed with so many fake ingredients that foreign morgues have observed that American corpses take several days longer than their own stiffs to start decomposing.

Fake Reform. Fake News about Fake Reform. Fake Voting, to enshrine the former two in their usurped positions of power. The three of these taken together clearly account for the "American People" being the most unaccountable constituency in human history. ( Adjusting for the "inflation" of the stronger grip that media has in our electronic age, and our more refined propaganda, the German electorate of Hitler's era doesn't even hold a candle. That was often crude. Ours is often too sly for the naked eye. And deeply layered. )

Given the 24/7 access we have to so much good information ( though certainly not including T.V., but for a "small remnant" of channels ) and so much of our own time to find it, why are we so challenged to find these very simple truths? Well, we lack the Rosetta Stone to decode them ~ since Fox News and allies, past and present, have converged on us for the last century of Big Media, to shatter it with ceaseless assaults of disinformation. This would explain why we almost never get it right, about the next big lie, or the key question of life or death policy, that other countries can easily spot from afar ( while on the home front, those few of us who DO ~get it right~ are smeared as "conspiracy theorists" ~ I love that one ). The whole "climate" of information is so radically damaged here, that many voters can not recognize a fact or evidence even in the moments before the head-on collision.

All of this counterfeit of culture and information, taken together, would account for our pitiable plight, as evidenced by people coming up to me endlessly, for years, even in a public capacity, saying, "But I thought that's WHY we got these machines, to protect the vote!?"

Well, that landscape has finally changed in recent months, as our collective screaming has at long last broken through the national stupor, and the "electronic curtain" of mainstream media, but it shouldn't take us such "nuclear" means to do so. ( The Internet ~and Coast To Coast AM on the only mass scale, absent "Countdown" on MSNBC which came later~ had gone atomic with this stolen elections story for at least three years, and achieved critical mass many moons before Joe Voter finally caught the "buzz." Now, with Rolling Stone carrying Robert F. Kennedy Jr's landmark article, "Did Bush Steal the 2004 Election" as a banner at the top of its cover, and USA Today laying out before us the many law suits against voting machine companies, as their top story above the fold early last month, the situation has visibly changed. At last. )

We must give medicine that will cure, "not weak antibiotics that lead to an even stronger strain of election infection" to re-present a great and apt analogy ( thanks ).

Until we have a fail-safe and redundantly witnessed system ~~ especially SMALL PRECINCTS where the results are counted by live people, and multiple observers, the public, and posted on-site ~~ we're "just whistling Dixie." And we've been treated to variations of that tune, with the vast number of presidents in the last forty years who've come from south of the Mason-Dixon line ( Texas, 15 of those years, go figure, huh? ~~ and Arkansas, and Georgia, for the "Democrats" ).

See a pattern here? It's certainly counter-intuitive, is it not, that with the high concentration of voters in urban areas, mostly northern, in mostly blue states, that so many pResidencies, amounting to at least part or all of 8 terms out of the last 12, have been filled by Southerners..... The remainder, mostly, was filled by the (Southern) Californians Nixon and Reagan, which, in terms of fraud translated into that other clime, amounts to pretty much the same thing. ( Ford didn't count, nor could he. )

And Carter, the Georgia Peach and our "election monitor" of distinction, proclaimed in an official report ~ all the while sharing authorship with the Bushist James Baker, a person who did all in his power to subvert and prevaricate the 2000 Recount ~ that our elections were basically sound, whatever much he may say hereafter, in cameo spots, on talk shows, to deflect the rage.....

Bev Harris, the doyenne of Voting Rights Activists, says: "Like an antibiotic
that's too weak, we believe that H.B. 550 will create a more resistant
strain of election infection." And ... "'Putting into the Holt bill a
provision specifying the method of EAC audit (2% or more precinct
sampling) simply telegraphs to cheaters how to cheat and not get

An Electoral Immune System, Ravaged at its Tribal Roots:

It's easy to see, with such duplicities, why our voting has gone south on us, and why, especially, we are so prone to "election infection," perhaps the nastiest of all human maladies, in terms of sheer destruction of all our commons.

But if we travel even further south beyond our borders, to Mexico City, we perceive a core truth as to why our electoral system is so vulnerable to these crimes, deeply, beyond the mere surface apparatus of organizing and counting. They, like many other countries, are able to protest electoral fraud in solidarity, because they retain their roots as a tribal people. Obrador has been clearly cheated in their Presidential "Election," just passed ( or rather, counterfeited ). But he put up a seven story high jumbotron and invited the people of Mexico to actually watch incidents of massive fraud, as they went down. Greg Palast whimsically asks, in his recent coverage of the Mexican "vote," if we could imagine what might have happened if Gore or Kerry had done that? But no, because they have an underlying tribalism, a deeply unifying spiritual force that's simply there, and we don't. They have a deep earth to grow such things from, and all we have is the barest, thinnest of top-soils on which to sow our poor seed. Simple laws of farming.

It's a fact, go anywhere in Mexico and you see all the traits of a tribal people, "La Raza." Whatever else the Conquistadors may have done, good or bad, they intermarried. And they apparently didn't commit genocide, not in the terms we usually recognize it as such, on the large scale ( counting for the range of casualties of engagement in combat, there were catclysms, but not the depopulation of Natives that we saw here in the U.S. ~ in fact, if anything, the mass sacrifices that were going on before the arrival of the Spaniards were thwarted ). The Native tribes endured, survived.

Ours did not. Or, rather, "only a remnant." In the overwhelming majority of Mexicans, you will see bloodlines that were there before Columbus, still flourishing. Up here in "El Norte," the traces of tribal times and ties have all but vanished from our faces. And those from Europe, less tribal if only because the conditions were often more urban, were for the most part uprooted, in crossing such large bodies of water. Those other tribal cultures, such as African, were studiously fragmented by their kidnappers in a brutal diaspora taking place after they were forcibly transplanted to our shores. The common theme in all this was division and fragmentation.

That is our legacy, and that is the underlying cause for a critically depressed electoral immune system.....

No, we are one of the few places on earth where tribal ties have been decimated to the point of marking nearly each one of us as a singularity. Ever more of our families today, responding to economic and social pressures, have been blown to all corners of the country like chaff before a wind.

Our late Arrival on the "Trail of Tears"

I believe there is an even deeper, more hidden cause than all of this, and it began with the almost total disappearance of Native America. In 1987 our U.S. Senate went so far as to formally acknowledge that inspiration and guiding lights for much of our Constitution, and institutions, had been liberally borrowed from the Iroquois "Great Law." A passage from the book "This Land is Our Land: The Mohawk Revolt at Oka," authors MacLaine and Baxendale, 1990, illustrates the incongruities and ironies of this great debt, and little known, to most American "citizens," and it is more than relevant:

In this journalistic account of the confrontation at Kanesatake (Oka) and Kahnawake during 1990, Louis Hall, founder of the Mohawk Warrior Society, is quoted on page 65 as saying: "There has been a 300 year dark age for the Great Law of Peace. It was used frequently in the writing of the constitution of the United States of America but there is little knowledge of it among non-Natives....The white man has always tried to eliminate the Longhouse law and replace it with his Indian Act." In the same volume, on page 87, "Dale," a clan mother of the Mohawk Bear Clan, is quoted as saying: "One aspect of the Iroquois Law that was not copied (in the American constitution) was those that established women's rights. Now Americans are trying to pass an equal-rights amendment because they ignored the equality of women two hundred years ago." On pages 99 and 100, in the introduction of a condensed version of the Great Law, the authors write: "When the founding fathers of the United States of America were writing the constitution of their newly-established country, they borrowed liberally from the Great Law. The Senate acknowledged this in 1987..."

Our repayment for this Iroquois "inspiration," a policy first enshrined officially by Andrew Jackson, was to either drive native America off the land, or run them to ground, mostly whichever was easiest or most cost-effective for the economics of our domestic policy. Long before Jackson, Lord Jeffrey Amherst in many letters to military leaders on our soil, prior to the American Revolutionary War, speaks gleefully of the utilitarian aspects of small-pox smeared blankets being handed out to the inconveniently placed natives.

Without bogging this "trail" with proofs, or theories, let's avoid the yes or no of this altogether, and just stick to one striking fact: the total absence of almost all Natives, themselves, when our country was developing from infancy into adolescence ( where it seems to have gotten stuck ).

The Natives of America had within them centuries, millennia no doubt, of specialized wisdom and specific information on to how to live in this land, how to harmonize with its amazing natural and spiritual energies, at least, all while doing so within their tribes. Although our formation culturally, as we immigrated, was so very different, it is simple truth that we could have derived much instruction on how to proceed with these things, however foreign the tongue in which it was spoken. We could have used these sign posts. In fact, we desperately needed them, on many subtle practical and spiritual levels of which most first generation Americans seem hardly ever aware.

Having seen Native populations decimated, for whatever reasons, we struck out on our own.

And, it seems at long last that we have indeed struck out: we have lost all our roots of solidarity. Whatever unifying forces appeared in past Great Depressions, to create a saving solidarity, have disappeared under the crushing weight of our prosperity, and loss of true spirituality, and our unions and all our movements are now stunningly anemic, in our own day. We have fallen victim to the scattering influences of corporate policies, fundamentally at war with our collective interests. As the old agents of those corporate interests, the U.S Cavalry, had scattered the native tribes and driven them out, onto their "Trail of Tears," forcing them to wander away until gone, we have been driven onto our own trail, too, now. Scattered we are, in spirit, just look around, and now without much of the minimal solidarity to protect ourselves. We have finally come full circle, from that ancient trail, to our own Trail of Tears, now our very own legacy, and we find ourselves going round and round in circles, marking again and again that same Bush, the one we thought we had left behind, but looking so familiar......

Our greatest restitution, spiritually, to the tribes that still remain, and while we at least derive some cultural "gene therapy" from the tribes immigrating from south of our borders, should be to bring the battle to these corporate interests that would undo us as a people ~~ and demand, or force, a return of the "Great Law of Peace."

Our rights, our freedom.

~~Paper and People Hardliner: John Ervin

John Ervin is a freelance writer who has written extensively about voting fraud and has been the radio guest of Jim Hogue at, where he also made his solo debut, a year ago Bastille Day, singing all 7 verses of La Marseillaise. As a member of the American Federation of Musicians (local 4) he has performed as a concert pianist for the French; and he has also recorded for EMI and in broadcasts for the BBC and with the Cleveland Orchestra as a member of its choruses. Currently he lives "at large" in Southern California, happily admitting a great debt in many of these things to his most special Patron, Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha, "The Lily of the Mohawks."

Submitter: Joan Brunwasser

Submitters Website:

Submitters Bio:

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 transparency and the ability to accurately check and authenticate the vote cast, these systems can alter election results and therefore are simply antithetical to democratic principles and functioning.

Since the pivotal 2004 Presidential election, Joan has come to see the connection between a broken election system, a dysfunctional, corporate media and a total lack of campaign finance reform. This has led her to enlarge the parameters of her writing to include interviews with whistle-blowers and articulate others who give a view quite different from that presented by the mainstream media. She also turns the spotlight on activists and ordinary folks who are striving to make a difference, to clean up and improve their corner of the world. By focusing on these intrepid individuals, she gives hope and inspiration to those who might otherwise be turned off and alienated. She also interviews people in the arts in all their variations - authors, journalists, filmmakers, actors, playwrights, and artists. Why? The bottom line: without art and inspiration, we lose one of the best parts of ourselves. And we're all in this together. If Joan can keep even one of her fellow citizens going another day, she considers her job well done.

When Joan hit one million page views, OEN Managing Editor, Meryl Ann Butler interviewed her, turning interviewer briefly into interviewee. Read the interview here.

While the news is often quite depressing, Joan nevertheless strives to maintain her mantra: "Grab life now in an exuberant embrace!"

Joan has been Election Integrity Editor for OpEdNews since December, 2005. Her articles also appear at Huffington Post, RepublicMedia.TV and