October 20, 2008
|Blocking The Vote||Politics Vote Fraud|
Bobby Kennedy, Jr., and Greg Palast have an important article at Rolling Stone on Republican efforts to block millions of Democratic voters from casting their votes. Here's a video that tells a little of the story:
I've never understood why Democrats lie down for this stuff. Are they really that afraid of being called cry babies? Florida in 2000, Ohio in 2004 — two Presidential elections stolen. Are Democrats too nice? Are they in on the fix? What? I just don't get it.
October 05, 2008
|Homer Simpson Votes||Humor & Fun Politics Vote Fraud|
Let's hope on November 5th we're still laughing.
November 07, 2006
|Attention Bounty Hunters||Vote Fraud|
MoveOn is offering a quarter million dollar reward "for new material evidence leading to a felony conviction for an organized effort of partisan voter suppression or electronic voting fraud."
Seems like they should have announced this a couple of months ago. Get some people digging.
|A Criminal Enterprise||Politics Vote Fraud|
Billmon's got it right:
Like everybody else, I don't know what's going to happen today, but this election has already illuminated one critical truth: The modern GOP — or, more specifically, the axis of '70s campus Republicans now running it — really is just a criminal enterprise disguised as a political party.
Dirty tricks, large and small, are a sorry fact of life in American politics, but what the Republicans have done over the past few weeks — the surrealist attack ads, the forged endorsements, the midnight robo calls, the arrest threats, the voter misinformation (did you know your polling station has been moved?) — is sui generis, at least at the national level.
Even Dick Nixon never tried anything like this on such a grand scale — although, of course, he also didn't have the technology. The only thing we haven't seen yet is a break in at DNC headquarters. And if the Rovians thought they could get anything out of it that would be useful in this election (nobody else has) we'd probably be reading about that, too.
It's always possible to point to Democratic/liberal offenses, but at this point the comparisons look pretty silly: some downed yard signs here, a few crooked and/or stoned ACORN canvassers there. Not even in the same universe, much less the same ball park.
Couple the GOP's rat-fucking campaign with all the other stuff we already know about — the collectivized bribery of the K Street Project, the Abramoff casino extortion ring, the Defense and CIA appropriation scams, the Iraq War contracting scams, the Pacific Island sex trade protection racket, the church pulpits doubling as ward halls, the illegal wiretapping, the lies, perjury and obstruction of justice in the Plame case (I really could go on like this all day) — and it's clear that what we need most isn't a new Congress but a new RICO prosecution, with lots of defendents and unindicted co-conspirators. [Emphasis added]
Of course, the mainstream media will never dare to report it that way. But it's the truth.
|GOP Distributes False Sample Ballots||Vote Fraud|
But of course every news story will be framed as if there's some sort of equivalency between the parties' tactics.
|Pelosi: "Will We Have An Honest Count?"||Politics Vote Fraud|
In an interview from her Capitol office, [House Democratic Leader Nancy] Pelosi characterized Tuesday's vote as a referendum on the war, shrugged off President Bush's efforts to make her liberalism a national issue, described the current GOP leadership as a "freak show," and expressed confidence about her party's prospects to pick up the 15 seats it needs for a majority.
"I know where the numbers are in these races, and I know that they are there for the 15; today (it's) 22 to 26," Pelosi said Friday.
Pelosi cautioned that the number of Democratic House victories could be higher or lower and said her greatest concern is over the integrity of the count — from the reliability of electronic voting machines to her worries that Republicans will try to manipulate the outcome.
"That is the only variable in this," Pelosi said. "Will we have an honest count?" [Emphasis added]
What's incomprehensible to me: why Democrats haven't made more of an issue of voter suppression and election fraud. Why do they wait until it's time for an election before they bring it up?
November 06, 2006
|Hacking Democracy||Vote Fraud|
The HBO special "Hacking Democracy" is available online here. Go watch.
Prepare to be outraged.
|More GOP Vote Suppression||Politics Vote Fraud|
WMR has learned this afternoon that the GOP and the George Allen campaign are conducting a massive statewide voter suppression operation throughout Virginia. [...]
We have learned that GOP robo-callers are phoning Virginia voters who changed their voter registration from other states during at least the past five years. Registered legal Virginia voters are being told that if they attempt to vote tomorrow they will be prosecuted. [Emphasis added]
|Robo-Calling Dirty Tricks||Politics Vote Fraud|
As you may have read on other blogs, the RNC is paying for automated dirty-trick phone calls in dozens of districts across the country. These calls are designed to trick recipients into thinking they came from Democratic candidates. They reportedly are placed at inconvenient times and are repeated, sometimes immediately after the recipient hangs up. The goal clearly is to piss off voters who would otherwise vote Democratic. Rolling Stone:
Just got off a conference call with Rahm Emanuel of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
He called the burgeoning Republican robo-call scandal — in which the National Republican Campaign Committee is aparently violating state do-not-call registries by placing repeat robocalls after midnight to Democratic voters, calls that are recorded to leave bleary-eyed and angry recipients with the impression that they have been placed by Democratic candidates — "the worst of dirty tricks."
"They're doing again the very thing they got fined for," Emanuel said. "We'll be dealing with this." Unfortunately, Emanuel admitted, any "dealing" will be done after election night. [Emphasis added]
They'll get fined, after the election, but so what? A monetary fine is no disincentive. The only way these tactics could hurt the Republicans is if the mainstream broadcast and cable media picked up the story and covered it extensively, now, before the election. Won't happen. Your liberal media at work.
So we need to make our own coverage. Protect Our Votes:
For this to break through, there needs to be visual evidence that voters are being called back immediately. Bloggers: please tell your readers to get video cameras ready and start rolling when the phone rings. Use the speaker phone so that the call can be heard. We need just one example of that up on YouTube and VideoTheVote.com.
Even better would be emails leaked from the robo call house responsible (or any robo call house for that matter) that offer the service or mention the strategy in question. [Emphasis added]
November 04, 2006
|Independents Favor Dems 2-To-1||Politics Vote Fraud|
A new Newsweek poll shows the Democrats continuing to surge, with a nearly 2-to-1 advantage among independent voters:
As President George W. Bush jets across Red State America this weekend, Republican candidates are falling further behind Democratic rivals, according to the new NEWSWEEK poll. While the GOP has lagged behind Democrats throughout the campaign season, the trend in the past month — when NEWSWEEK conducted four polls in five weeks — had suggested the Republicans were building momentum in the homestretch.
No more. The new poll finds support for Republicans (and for President Bush) receding. For example, 53 percent of Americans want the Democrats to win enough seats to take control of one or both houses of Congress in the midterm elections on Tuesday. Those results are close to early October levels, while less than a third of Americans (32 percent) want Republicans to retain control. If the elections were held today, 54 percent of likely voters say they would support the Democratic candidate in their district versus 38 percent who would vote for the Republican — a 16-point edge for the Democrats. [...]
Meanwhile, the President's approval has fallen back to 35 percent, after a slow but steady rise from 33 percent at the beginning of October to 37 percent in the NEWSWEEK poll last week.
The good news for Republicans is that their voters are coming home; 90 percent of likely Republican voters say they would vote for the GOP's candidate if the elections were held today, not far behind the 95 percent of Democrats who back their party's nominee. But independents say they would vote for the Democrat over the Republican in their district nearly 2 to 1 (26 percent versus 51 percent.) [...]
[O]nly 29 percent of Americans [say] they’re satisfied with the direction of the country — and 64 percent [say] they're not. [Emphasis added]
The good news: people grasp, finally, that the Bush Republicans have got to go. The bad news: they'll be voting in an election system that's pretty well rigged.
So far, election fraud has tended to be applied in cases where the pre-election polls were somewhat close, where we could tell ourselves the outcome was within the margin of error. But this time around, the polls are lopsided. If elections are stolen under these circumstances, it will be like a decree announcing the end of American democracy. We will have crossed a Rubicon from which we may never return. Meanwhile, the mainstream media will refuse to credit the evidence that will be too scary to acknowledge but too obvious to ignore. We'll see black, they'll say white.
The cognitive dissonance will cause a lot of people to just throw up their hands and say, well that's how elections are now. Nobody knows who really won. And anyway, they're all crooks, on both sides. If that happens, elections will be just another form of reality tv with a predetermined outcome. Democracy will be over. But at least we'll know where we stand.
October 28, 2006
Americans reading this, I'll assume you're planning to go vote on the 7th. Here's a phone number to write down and put in your wallet: 1-866-OUR-VOTE. Call it if you encounter suspicious or fraudulent behavior. My guess is that fraud will be rampant. It will be impossible to keep them honest, but every little bit helps.
October 23, 2006
|Two Weeks To Go||Politics Vote Fraud|
Bush and Rove talk like they're convinced they can't lose control of the Congress. NYT:
Mr. Bush has been saying for months that he believes Republicans will keep control of the House and the Senate, and he is not changing his tune now, even if it means taking the rare step of rebuking his own father.
In an interview shown Sunday on ABC News, Mr. Bush was asked about a comment by the first President Bush, who said this month that he hated to think about life for his son if Democrats took control of Congress. "He shouldn't be speculating like that, because he should have called me ahead of time," the president said, "and I'd tell him they're not going to."
The president's professed certainty, shared with outside friends and advisers, is a source of fascination among even his staunchest allies. In lobbying shops and strategy firms around town, the latest Republican parlor game is divining whether the White House optimism is staged, or whether Mr. Bush and his political team really believe what they are saying. [...]
Mr. Bush and Mr. Rove are discounting predictions of Republican demise in part because they believe they have turned out wrong before. "I remember 2004," Mr. Bush said in the interview shown on "This Week." "I was history as far as the punditry was concerned."
Mr. Rove has told associates that the party's turnout machinery, through which the White House will continue to pump an unrelenting message against Democrats on taxes and terrorism, gives Republicans an advantage of four to seven percentage points in any given race. Though Democrats call that too generous, they acknowledge that it accounts for at least a few percentage points. [Emphasis added]
They could be faking it. They could be in denial. Or, they could know something we don't: that the election's already in the bag, courtesy of electronic voting. The incessant harping on a supposed 4-7 point Republican advantage based on their GOTV ground game preps the conventional wisdom for explaining, post-election, why the polls once again mysteriously turned out to be so wrong. Let's hope not, but it is a measure of how far we've sunk that we even have to entertain such thoughts.
September 15, 2006
|Game Over||Vote Fraud|
Computer researchers at Princeton have published a demonstration showing how easily Diebold "Accuvote" touchscreen voting machines can be hacked to steal votes from one candidate and redirect them to another.
They wrote a virus that can be installed on a voting machine in less than a minute. Once installed on one machine, it can spread to others, infecting them as well. The virus steal votes in such a way that all records — on the display screen, in memory cards, and in paper printouts — agree on the fraudulent totals. The virus can tell when the machine is being run in a mode used to test the machine's accuracy, and it will provide accurate results during the test. During an actual election, however, the virus steals votes. When the election ends, the virus deletes itself, removing all traces that it was ever there. Fixing these problems will require more than just a software change; the machines' hardware must be changed as well.
So democracy comes down to who's got access to the machines and who's got the better hackers.
Why is this state of affairs tolerated? Yes, people are cynical and people are lazy, but still. It's hard to escape the conclusion that these machines represent the culmination of an elite dream: take the rabble out of the equation without our even knowing it. Preserve the appearance of democracy, but reduce it to a made-for-tv charade.
The only thing that will stop it is public outrage. There are so many things to be outraged about, though, that it's hard for this one to gain traction. But this one is fundamental. If we can't vote, it's pretty much game over.
Details of the study are available here, along with a video that demonstrates the malicious software in use.
September 06, 2006
|Not A Bug, A Feature||Vote Fraud|
The NYT editorializes on the state of voting in this country:
It's hard to believe that nearly six years after the disasters of Florida in 2000, states still haven't mastered the art of counting votes accurately. Yet there are growing signs that the country is moving into another presidential election cycle in disarray.
The most troubling evidence comes from Ohio, a key swing state, whose electoral votes decided the 2004 presidential election. A recent government report details enormous flaws in the election system in Ohio's biggest county, problems that may not be fixable before the 2008 election.
Cuyahoga County, which includes Cleveland, hired a consulting firm to review its election system. The county recently adopted Diebold electronic voting machines that produce a voter-verified paper record of every vote cast. The investigators compared the vote totals recorded on the machines after this year's primary with the paper records produced by the machines. The numbers should have been the same, but often there were large and unexplained discrepancies. The report also found that nearly 10 percent of the paper records were destroyed, blank, illegible, or otherwise compromised.
This is seriously bad news even if, as Diebold insists, the report overstates the problem. Under Ohio law, the voter-verified paper record, not the voting machine total, is the official ballot for purposes of a recount. The error rates the report identified are an invitation to a meltdown in a close election.
The report also found an array of other problems. The county does not have a standardized method for conducting a manual recount. That is an invitation, as Florida 2000 showed, to chaos and litigation. And there is a serious need for better training of poll workers, and for more uniform voter ID policies. Disturbingly, the report found that 31 percent of blacks were asked for ID, while just 18 percent of others were. [Emphasis added]
Diebold also makes ATMs. Imagine if 10% of ATM receipts "were destroyed, blank, illegible, or otherwise compromised" — Diebold would go out of business overnight. But ATM failures are so rare that they make the evening news. Which is to say, Diebold knows how to make the technology work. The obvious conclusion: 10% slop in the system isn't a bug, it's a feature. The machines give people a false sense of security, but 10% is a margin of error large enough to let almost any election be stolen.
It's not like we don't know the consequences. Not after 2000 and 2004. It's a measure of the deterioration of American democracy that we just slide along as if nothing can be done. If it were the banking system, we'd fix it in a hurry. But it's voting, and for some reason we accept that accurate voting is simply too much to ask for.
July 16, 2006
|Voto Por Voto||Vote Fraud|
Another election, another stolen result. This time, for President of Mexico. Greg Palast went to Mexico to look into what happened, and his 15-minute documentary video is available at Democracy Now. Here are excerpts from Democracy Now's transcript:
GREG PALAST: So my first stop was to meet one of Mexico's top numbers experts, statistician Victor Romero of Mexico's National University. Dr. Romero had charted the official government elections returns from each of Mexico's 113,000 voting stations. [...]
On a computer printout, Dr. Romero showed how the official tallies matched the exit polls, with challenger Lopez Obrador ahead by 2% all night. That is, until the very end, when several precincts came in for the ruling party by 10-to-1, and then 100-to-1, putting their candidate Felipe Calderon over the top, literally in the last minutes. The doctor found that statistically improbable.
VICTOR ROMERO: We reached the point I said, "It's over." But then, from 71% 'til the very end, there was not a single moment in which the difference from one report to the next became bigger.
GREG PALAST: So it didn't change at all. Just was perfect.
VICTOR ROMERO: Perfect, perfect. And so we just couldn't believe it. I mean, it fell — with 5% to go, it fell one full point. [...]
GREG PALAST: The results may not seem so miraculous if you take a look at these voter sheets. This is from a district in Guanajuato, which shows that Calderon picked up 192 votes, but Obrador, the challenger, got only 12. And here's how this miraculous total can be explained. We were given a videotape of a poll worker, seen here stuffing ballots into the unguarded cardboard ballot box. Mexico has virtually zero ballot security in rural areas. There is no system for accounting for unused paper ballots. Stuffing them into the cardboard boxes is absurdly easy.
Despite the evidence of ballot stuffing, the conflict with exit polls and the miraculous returns, the Federal Election Commission in Mexico named Calderon the winner by a margin thin as a tortilla, by less than 0.5%. The rush to announce a winner was all the more surprising given the wave of other reported irregularities. This is Cesar Yanez who directed the campaign for Lopez Obrador’s party, the PRD. He noted there were 300,000 fewer votes for president than for senator, a drop-off that voting experts say never happens without fraud. Yanez guessed maybe they ate their votes.
The Federal Election Commission's rush to announce a winner caught my attention because of the astonishingly high pile of supposedly uncountable votes: nearly one million blank unreadable ballots, four times the alleged margin of victory. The smell of Florida was unmistakable. In the 2000 U.S. election, Florida's Secretary of State Katherine Harris stopped a hand count of 179,000 supposedly blank ballots. Mexico's Electoral Commission, taking the exact same stance as Harris, is refusing to have a public hand count of those supposedly blank one million ballots.
Yanez noted that the commission agreed to open a fragment of 1% of the ballot packets. In most cases, ballots that were totaled as blank were, in fact, votes for Obrador. Each box opened produced enough newfound votes for Obrador that opening all the boxes should statistically change the outcome of the election. But all the boxes won't be opened. The ruling party, the PAN, and the Electoral Commission refuse a full public recount, and the government says that it's over.
Felipe Calderon and his ally George Bush say it's all over, but there are hundreds of thousands of people here who say, not until all the votes are counted one by one. On Saturday, half a million Obrador supporters filled the capital to make one simple demand: voto por voto, count every vote. [Emphasis added]
If this all sounds like the last two presidential elections here in the US, that's not entirely coincidental. It turns out that the Bush regime, through private contractor ChoicePoint, Inc., was very much involved in Mexico's election. Palast again:
GREG PALAST: We have obtained from U.S. FBI files a copy of a secret government contract with a private firm, ChoicePoint of Alpharetta, Georgia. ChoicePoint, you may recall, is the company that provided a list to Katherine Harris in 2000, which permitted her office to wrongly scrub thousands of African Americans from Florida voter rolls.
ChoicePoint, this document indicates, was back in the vote list business in Mexico at the request of the Bush administration. While the cover of their September 2001 contract says it is to gather intelligence for counterterrorism investigations, the still classified appendix, which we have, clarifies that the contract is limited to gathering citizen files and voter lists of Latin American nations, specifically those nations which have leftist presidents or leading leftist candidates for president.
The company, we have learned, did, in fact, obtain the voter files of Venezuela and Mexico for the FBI. It's difficult to imagine how these files will help in the war on terror, but they can be very useful in influencing Latin American elections. And, indeed, we filmed voters in Mexico who found themselves mysteriously scrubbed from voter rolls.
SCRUBBED VOTER: I wasn't able to vote. I wasn't on the list. I waited seven hours here for nothing, seven hours in the rain, seven hours hungry, just so the electoral representatives could laugh at me. The Electoral Commission is a real fraud. I tell you that as a Mexican.
GREG PALAST: In Mexico City, I met with an Obrador supporter who discovered that, in fact, the ruling party, the PAN, had somehow got a hold of the voter files. She discovered this information after she obtained the secret passwords to the party's website from a whistleblower. We were not allowed to film her face.
OBRADOR SUPPORTER: I can't tell you how they were using this information, but I can assure you this is illegal. This is a crime.
GREG PALAST: Are you aware of the fact that a contractor for George Bush and the U.S. FBI obtained all these citizen files?
OBRADOR SUPPORTER: Yes, ChoicePoint was the name of the company who got that. Yes, we were aware of that.
GREG PALAST: But we don't know where this information comes from?
OBRADOR SUPPORTER: We know that it’s in the official page of the candidate.
GREG PALAST: But they’re not supposed to have these for these purposes?
OBRADOR SUPPORTER: No, no, no. They’re not supposed to have it. And, of course, they are by no way supposed to use it. That's a crime.
GREG PALAST: But it could be very helpful.
OBRADOR SUPPORTER: Well, much more than we ever thought. [Emphasis added]
Here in the US, one pair of brothers, long backed by ultra-right-wing Christian Reconstructionist money, are technical principals behind the two companies (Diebold and ES&S) that count 80% of US black-box electronic votes. The Mexican equivalent? Palast again:
GREG PALAST: Our source believes that the vote-counting software was key to the election victory. She showed us proof that the candidate's brother-in-law was paid to write the vote-counting software.
Was the election stolen?
OBRADOR SUPPORTER: Yes, we can be sure of that. The election was definitely stolen. And people should be there counting the votes one by one. Democracy doesn't have a time limit. [...]
GREG PALAST: Why would the Bush administration be so concerned about the presidency of Mexico? There are many issues, but one stands out. It's the oil. [Emphasis added]
This is how modern elites have solved the pesky problem of ordinary people getting to vote. Make it look like democracy, let us vote, but control the results. Anybody complains, turn it into a he-said-she-said dispute or put it down to sour grapes and conspiracy theories. Quickly move on to the next story. Done. Nor is it limited to any one nation: elites are globalized, even if we aren't.
Here's what scares me. So far, election fraud has been applied in cases where the pre-election polls were close. In US elections this fall, polls may not be so close, but I think we're going to see some significant election meltdowns anyway. In Ohio, for instance, where Kenneth Blackwell continues to control the electoral process even as he himself runs for governor. I.e., vote fraud is going mainstream. It's going to be more and more blatant, more and more out in the open, but the mainstream media will pretend nothing's happening. We'll see black, they'll say white.
The cognitive dissonance will cause a lot of people to just throw up their hands and say, well that's how elections are now. Nobody knows who really won. And anyway, they're all crooks, on both sides. (All the reports of Washington corruption just feed into this perception.) If that happens, elections will be just another tv show with a predetermined outcome. Democracy will be over.
(For more background on recent US vote fraud, click the Vote Fraud link on the home page.)
December 13, 2005
|Securities Fraud Alleged Against Eight Top Diebold Execs||Vote Fraud|
BradBlog reports that eight top executives of voting machine manufacturer Diebold are named in a new securities fraud lawsuit:
The BRAD BLOG can now report that a Securities Fraud Class Action suit has been filed against Diebold, Inc. (stock symbol: DBD) naming eight top executive officers in the company as co-defendants. The suit has been filed by plaintiff Janice Konkol, alleging securities fraud against the North Canton, Ohio-based manufacturer of Voting Systems and ATM machines on behalf of investors who owned shares of Diebold stock and lost money due to an alleged fraudulent scheme by the company and its executives to deceive shareholders during the "class period" of October 22, 2003 through September 21, 2005. [...]
The suit, filed by the law firm SCOTT+SCOTT on behalf of Konkol and the plaintiff class, names former Diebold CEO and Chairman, Walden O'Dell as a co-defendant along with seven other current and former officers of the once-venerable company. [...]
Yesterday, in a surprise announcement, O'Dell unexpectedly resigned from the company. A Diebold press release described O'Dell as leaving the company for "personal reasons". He was immediately replaced by the company's president and chief operating officer, Thomas W. Swidarski, who had directly overseen Diebold's Election Systems subsidiary division for some time. Swidarski is also named as a co-defendant in today's class action suit. [Emphasis added]
O'Dell is the Diebold exec who pledged to deliver Ohio to Bush in 2004.
November 25, 2005
|GAO Report On E-Voting Machines||Vote Fraud|
Electronic transactions can be convenient and efficient. We love that we can make purchases online or get cash from an ATM. But we also expect that the implementers of e-commerce sites and bank machines have done their homework, building in the security safeguards necessary to protect us — and themselves as well. If we heard about an e-commerce site or ATM manufacturer that didn't bother to secure their communications, encrypt their data, password-protect their administrative functions, etc., we'd think, what a bunch of idiots, and we'd avoid them like the plague. We understand that if you let people take advantage, some of them will. It's human nature. It's why banks have vaults.
So let's talk about electronic voting machines.
Various partisan observers have written at length about the fundamental problems with the electronic voting machines now in widespread use across the country, especially the touchscreen machines known as DREs. In 2000, about 12% of voters used DREs. In 2004, it was 29%. The overwhelming majority of such machines are manufactured by a handful of companies with ultra-right-wing backers. In a nation of grownups, that would be unacceptable in itself, but the US is "the only major democracy that allows private partisan corporations to secretly count and tabulate the votes with proprietary non transparent software." Why this isn't a massive scandal is beyond me. Are we a nation of suckers and rubes?
A new report analyzing e-voting machines is notable for the nonpartisan nature of its source: the Government Accountability Office (GAO), the federal government's principal agency for investigating issues related to government operation. What the GAO found is disturbing, to put it mildly. You'd think it would be all over the news, but of course it's not. No visuals.
Here's some of what the GAO found:
Regarding key software components:
Election management systems did not encrypt the data files containing cast votes (to protect them from being viewed or modified).
Other computer programs could access these cast vote files and alter them without the system recording this action in its audit logs.
It was possible to alter the ballot definition files on one model of DRE so that the votes shown on the touch screen for one candidate would actually be recorded and counted for a different candidate.
It was possible to gain full control of a regional vote tabulation computer — including the ability to modify the voting software — via a modem connection.
Someone with physical access to an optical scan voting system could falsify election results without leaving any record of this action in the system's audit logs by using altered memory cards.
Regarding access controls:
One model failed to password-protect the supervisor functions controlling key system capabilities.
Another relied on an easily guessed password to access these functions.
In another case, the same personal identification number was programmed into all supervisor cards nationwide — meaning that the number was likely to be widely known.
Values used to encrypt election data (called encryption keys) were defined in the source code.
Smart cards (used to activate the touch screen on DRE systems) and memory cards (used to program the terminals of optical scan systems) were not secured by some voting systems. Reviewers exploited this weakness by altering such cards and using them to improperly access administrator functions, vote multiple times, change vote totals, and produce false election reports in a test environment.
Regarding physical hardware controls:
Many of the DRE models under examination contained weaknesses in controls designed to protect the system. For instance, one report noted that all the locks on a particular DRE model were easily picked, and were all controlled by the same keys—keys that the reports' authors were able to copy at a local store.
A particular model of DRE was linked together with others to form a rudimentary network. If one of these machines were accidentally or intentionally unplugged from the others, voting functions on the other machines in the network would be disrupted.
The switches used to turn a DRE system on or off, as well as those used to close the polls on a particular DRE terminal, were not protected.
Weak security management practices:
Specific concerns have been expressed about:
the personnel security policies used by vendors, including whether vendors conduct background checks on programmers and systems developers;
whether vendors have established strict internal security protocols and have adhered to them during software development; and
whether vendors have established clear chain of custody procedures for handling and transporting their software securely.
The GAO report recommends ways that standards, controls, testing and validation can be used to improve the situation. Such things certainly would help, but imagine if the nation's ATMs were as full of security holes as its electronic voting machines are. Would we stand for it? Would we blithely entrust our paychecks and deposits to such machines? Would we be satisfied with a suggestion that someday somebody might actually institute procedures to make them work properly? Or would we say: fix the machines first, then maybe we'll use them — but until they're fixed, forget about it.
E-voting machines differ from ATMs in a fundamental way. The ATM manufacturer has every incentive to make the machine's operation as flawless as is technically feasible. If mistakes are made, the bank may gain or lose, the customer may gain or lose, but the ATM manufacturer won't gain: money isn't diverted into the manufacturer's account. If mistakes are made, the manufacturer's customer — the bank — won't be happy.
But by letting private companies with highly partisan owners count our votes, we permit an extraordinary conflict of interest to come between us and our democracy. Partisan e-voting companies may have every incentive to cheat, especially when their political party is in power and in a position to protect them and to renew their contracts.
There are only two possibilities here. Either the e-voting machine manufacturers are unbelievably incompetent, or they want to control the electoral process. The incompetence argument is unconvincing, especially since Diebold, one of the major e-voting machine manufacturers, is also a major ATM manufacturer. That means they have the expertise and the experience to do it right, if doing it right were really their goal.
November 04, 2005
|Report: Kerry Thinks Election Was Stolen||Politics Vote Fraud|
Mark Crispin Miller has a very good new book (Fooled Again) that makes a convincing case that the 2004 persidential election was stolen. Miller appeared on Democracy Now today along with Mark Hertsgaard. In the interview, Miller dropped this bombshell:
MARK CRISPIN MILLER: Speaking of John Kerry, I have some news for you. On Friday, this last Friday night, I arranged to meet Senator Kerry at a fundraiser to give him a copy of my book. He told me he now thinks the election was stolen. He said he doesn't believe that he is the person who can go out front on the issue, because of the sour grapes, you know, question. But he said he believes it was stolen. He says he argues about this with his Democratic colleagues on the Hill. He had just had a big fight with Christopher Dodd about it, because he said, you know, "There's this stuff about the voting machines; they’re really questionable." And Dodd was angry. "I don't want to hear about it," you know, "I looked into it. There's nothing there."
Well, there's plenty there, and let me add one thing: This is not a criminal case, okay? We don't have to prove guilt beyond a shadow of a doubt. This is our election system, right? This is a system based on consent of the governed. If many, many millions of Americans are convinced that they got screwed on Election Day and couldn't vote, or if 3.4 million more Americans claim that they voted than the actual total of voters — this is what the Census Bureau told us last May — this is grounds alone for serious investigation, and I think Mark would agree with me here. We have to have serious investigation.
AMY GOODMAN: Did Senator Kerry say, when he said on Friday night, according to you, that he does think the election was stolen, did he say why he raced out the next day after, for months, the Democratic candidates had assured the voters that they would make sure every vote was counted? I mean, Mark Hertsgaard says in his own piece in Mother Jones, "It didn't help that Kerry conceded immediately, despite questions about Ohio. The American press is less an independent truth seeker than a transmission belt for opinions of movers and shakers in Washington. If the Democratic candidate wasn’t going to cry foul, the press certainly wasn't going to do it for him."
MARK CRISPIN MILLER: Well, that's true. That was a real body blow to the democratic system, and it demoralized a lot of people when Kerry pulled out. It's hard to forgive him for that. Why did he do it? Well, according to my evidence and I've got this in Fooled Again, Kerry was swayed by the brain trust around him. These are people like, you know, Bob Shrum, Mary Beth Cahill — they’re, you know, Democratic Party war horses. I don't think they have a stellar record of winning campaigns, and I don't really understand how it is that they were hired to do this, but they persuaded him up in Martha's Vineyard that he should pull out, otherwise, he told John Edwards in his call, Kerry said, "They say that if I don't pull out, they are going to call us sore losers," as if there's — [...]
AMY GOODMAN: Are you saying, Mark Crispin Miller, that John Edwards didn't want to concede?
MARK CRISPIN MILLER: Absolutely not. I spoke to someone, a relative of his who was with him when the phone call came from Kerry. This is this in the book, Fooled Again. Kerry called him on the cell phone, and don't forget that Edwards himself, four hours before, had just been on national TV promising righteously to count every vote, got a big hand. Now he felt he was being made to look like a fool, and he argued with Kerry vehemently. He said, "It's too soon, you know. Wait." Kerry, you know, said this thing about how they will call us sore losers, as if that's worse than the country, you know, going fascist, whatever. And Edwards said quite understandably, "So what?" You know, "So what if they call us sore losers?" I mean, they are going to call them names in any case. But it's true, Mark is right, Kerry's caving in like that gave an enormous gift to the right wing. They could now claim, "Well, even their candidate doesn't think it was stolen." And they left, you know, the American people hanging out to dry there. [Emphasis added]
There is no more important story in America right now than the disgusting state of our election process. So of course we hear essentially zero serious discussion of it in mainstream media. As for Kerry, well, he is a Bonesman, after all.
February 25, 2005
|Ohio, Revisited||Vote Fraud|
Christopher Hitchens, no friend of John Kerry's or, these days, of the Left generally, has a good piece in the March Vanity Fair reviewing some of the many reasons for concluding that there was something "seriously awry" with the 2004 election in Ohio. Excerpts:
Here's what happened in Gambier, Ohio, [home of Kenyon College,] on decision day 2004.
The polls opened at 6:30 a.m. There were only two voting machines (push-button direct-recording electronic systems) for the entire town of 2,200 (with students). The mayor, Kirk Emmert, had called the Board of Elections 10 days earlier, saying that the number of registered voters would require more than that. (He knew, as did many others, that hundreds of students had asked to register in Ohio because it was a critical "swing" state.) The mayor's request was denied. Indeed, instead of there being extra capacity on Election Day, one of the only two machines chose to break down before lunchtime.
By the time the polls officially closed, at 7:30 that evening, the line of those waiting to vote was still way outside the Community Center and well into the parking lot...By the time the 1,175 voters in the precinct had all cast their ballots, it was almost four in the morning, and many had had to wait for up to 11 hours.
Across the rest of Ohio,...[r]eporters and eyewitnesses told of voters who had given up after humiliating or frustrating waits, and who often cited the unwillingness of their employers to accept voting as an excuse for lateness or absence. In some way or another, these bottlenecks had a tendency to occur in working-class and, shall we just say, nonwhite precincts. So did many disputes about "provisional" ballots, the sort that are handed out when a voter can prove his or her identity but not his or her registration at that polling place. These glitches might all be attributable to inefficiency or incompetence (though Gambier had higher turnouts and much shorter lines in 1992 and 1996). Inefficiency and incompetence could also explain the other oddities of the Ohio process—from machines that redirected votes from one column to the other to machines that recorded amazing tallies for unknown fringe candidates, to machines that apparently showed that voters who waited for a long time still somehow failed to register a vote at the top of the ticket for any candidate for the presidency of these United States.
However, for any of that last category of anomaly to be explained, one would need either a voter-verified paper trail of ballots that could be tested against the performance of the machines or a court order that would allow inspection of the machines themselves. The first of these does not exist, and the second has not yet been granted. [...]
[H]ere are some of the non-wacko reasons to revisit the Ohio election.
First, the county-by-county and precinct-by-precinct discrepancies. In Butler County, for example, a Democrat running for the State Supreme Court chief justice received 61,559 votes. The Kerry-Edwards ticket drew about 5,000 fewer votes, at 56,243. This contrasts rather markedly with the behavior of the Republican electorate in that county, who cast about 40,000 fewer votes for their judicial nominee than they did for Bush and Cheney. (The latter pattern, with vote totals tapering down from the top of the ticket, is by far the more general—and probable—one nationwide and statewide.)
In 11 other counties, the same Democratic judicial nominee, C. Ellen Connally, managed to outpoll the Democratic presidential and vice-presidential nominees by hundreds and sometimes thousands of votes....In Cuyahoga County, which includes the city of Cleveland, two largely black precincts on the East Side voted like this. In Precinct 4F: Kerry, 290; Bush, 21; Peroutka, 215. In Precinct 4N: Kerry, 318; Bush, 11; Badnarik, 163. Mr. Peroutka and Mr. Badnarik are, respectively, the presidential candidates of the Constitution and Libertarian Parties....In 2000, Ralph Nader's best year, the total vote received in Precinct 4F by all third-party candidates combined was eight.
In Montgomery County, two precincts recorded a combined undervote of almost 6,000. This is to say that that many people waited to vote but, when their turn came, had no opinion on who should be the president, voting only for lesser offices. In these two precincts alone, that number represents an undervote of 25 percent, in a county where undervoting averages out at just 2 percent. Democratic precincts had 75 percent more undervotes than Republican ones.
In Precinct 1B of Gahanna, in Franklin County, a computerized voting machine recorded a total of 4,258 votes for Bush and 260 votes for Kerry. In that precinct, however, there are only 800 registered voters, of whom 638 showed up. Once the "glitch" had been identified, the president had to be content with 3,893 fewer votes than the computer had awarded him.
In Miami County, a Saddam Hussein–type turnout was recorded in the Concord Southwest and Concord South precincts, which boasted 98.5 percent and 94.27 percent turnouts, respectively, both of them registering overwhelming majorities for Bush. Miami County also managed to report 19,000 additional votes for Bush after 100 percent of the precincts had reported on Election Day.
In Mahoning County, Washington Post reporters found that many people had been victims of "vote hopping," which is to say that voting machines highlighted a choice of one candidate after the voter had recorded a preference for another. Some specialists in election software diagnose this as a "calibration issue."
Machines are fallible and so are humans, and shit happens, to be sure, and no doubt many Ohio voters were able to record their choices promptly and without grotesque anomalies. But what strikes my eye is this: in practically every case where lines were too long or machines too few the foul-up was in a Democratic county or precinct, and in practically every case where machines produced impossible or improbable outcomes it was the challenger who suffered and the actual or potential Democratic voters who were shortchanged, discouraged, or held up to ridicule as chronic undervoters or as sudden converts to fringe-party losers. [...]
[In Warren County,] [o]n Election Night, citing unspecified concerns about terrorism and homeland security, officials "locked down" the Warren County administration building and prevented any reporters from monitoring the vote count. It was announced, using who knows what "scale," that on a scale of 1 to 10 the terrorist threat was a 10. It was also claimed that the information came from an F.B.I. agent, even though the F.B.I. denies that.
Warren County is certainly a part of Republican territory in Ohio: it went only 28 percent for Gore last time and 28 percent for Kerry this time....[E]ven those exact-same voting totals have their odd aspect. In 2000, Gore stopped running television commercials in Ohio some weeks before the election. He also faced a Nader challenge. Kerry put huge resources into Ohio, did not face any Nader competition, and yet got exactly the same proportion of the Warren County votes.
Whichever way you shake it, or hold it to the light, there is something about the Ohio election that refuses to add up. [...]
[T]here is one soothing explanation that I don't trust anymore. It was often said, in reply to charges of vote tampering, that it would have had to be "a conspiracy so immense" as to involve a dangerously large number of people. Indeed, some Ohio Democrats themselves laughed off some of the charges, saying that they too would have had to have been part of the plan. The stakes here are very high: one defector or turncoat with hard evidence could send the principals to jail forever and permanently discredit the party that had engaged in fraud.
I had the chance to spend quality time with someone who came to me well recommended, who did not believe that fraud had yet actually been demonstrated, whose background was in the manufacture of the machines, and who wanted to be anonymous. It certainly could be done, she said, and only a very, very few people would have to be "in on it." This is because of the small number of firms engaged in the manufacturing and the even smaller number of people, subject as they are to the hiring practices of these firms, who understand the technology. "Machines were put in place with no sampling to make sure they were 'in control' and no comparison studies," she explained. "The code of the machines is not public knowledge, and none of these machines has since been impounded." In these circumstances, she continued, it's possible to manipulate both the count and the proportions of votes.
In the bad old days of Tammany Hall, she pointed out, you had to break the counter pins on the lever machines, and if there was any vigilance in an investigation, the broken pins would automatically incriminate the machine. With touch-screen technology, the crudeness and predictability of the old ward-heeler racketeers isn't the question anymore. But had there been a biased "setting" on the new machines it could be uncovered—if a few of them could be impounded. The Ohio courts are currently refusing all motions to put the state's voting machines, punch-card or touch-screen, in the public domain. It's not clear to me, or to anyone else, who is tending the machines in the meanwhile...
I asked her, finally, what would be the logical grounds for deducing that any tampering had in fact occurred. "Well, I understand from what I have read," she said, "that the early exit polls on the day were believed by both parties." That, I was able to tell her from direct experience, was indeed true. But it wasn't quite enough, either. So I asked, "What if all the anomalies and malfunctions, to give them a neutral name, were distributed along one axis of consistency: in other words, that they kept on disadvantaging only one candidate?" My question was hypothetical, as she had made no particular study of Ohio, but she replied at once: "Then that would be quite serious." [My emphasis]
Hitchens says he "did not think that John Kerry should have been president of any country at any time." He's not engaged in partisan pleading. He is simply calling attention to what should be obvious: There is no conceivable innocent explanation for the fact that the vote suppression anomalies, the vote count anomalies, the voting machine anomalies, and the exit poll anomalies, in almost every case, advantaged Bush. It cannot have been due to chance — the odds against that happening by chance would be, quite literally, astronomical.
A simple application of probability theory, really, if anyone were paying attention. If.
[See also: this.]
February 24, 2005
|The Exit Polls, Revisited||Vote Fraud|
Remember the exit polls? As noted in earlier posts, in the 2004 US presidential election the difference between the exit polls and the official results was so great that it is, for all practical purposes, a statistical impossibility that the discrepancy was due to chance.
People try to explain away the discrepancy by asserting, without evidence, various possible sources of systematic bias in the exit polls — for example, that Republican voters were somehow systematically intimidated from participating in the exit polls.
A report released the day before the inauguration by Edison Media Research and Mitofsky International, the two companies that did the exit polling for the National Election Pool media consortium, casts doubt on such conjectures, however.
Some points of note (quotes are from the report):
- "The weighted national [exit poll] numbers showed Kerry with 51% and Bush with 48%. The final national popular vote margin ended up being 2.5% for Bush. Thus, the national exit poll had an error of 5.5 points..."
- The bias was overwhelmingly in one direction: overstating Kerry's numbers. There were 26 states, including nearly all of the swing states, where the exit polls overstated the Kerry vote significantly (by more than one standard error). There were only 4 states, none of them swing states, where the exit polls significantly overstated the Bush vote.
- The discrepancies were not caused by the choice of precincts to survey. This was shown by the fact that the actual vote counts (not exit poll numbers) aggregated across the sampled precincts "produced very good estimates for the final vote count."
- By far the greatest source of error, therefore, was what the report calls Within Precinct Error, or WPE, which is the difference between the exit polls and the offical vote count in a given precinct, after other sources of statistical bias have been taken into account.
- On average, across the 1460 precincts for which exit poll data is available, the WPE was 6.5 percentage points in Kerry's favor. I.e., after correcting for other sources of statistical bias, the exit polls overstated Kerry's numbers by 6.5 percentage points.
- The authors of the report assume, without evidence, that Kerry voters must have had a higher "completion" rate — i.e., were more likely to complete the exit poll questionnaire when asked to do so — and that this accounts for the WPE. Some of their own data casts serious doubt on this assumption, however.
- For example, in precincts where Bush won at least 80% of the vote, the WPE overstated Kerry's numbers by a whopping 10.0 percentage points. In precincts where Kerry won at least 80% of the vote, the WPE actually overstated Bush slightly, by 0.3 percentage points. If the source of WPE was that Bush voters were somehow intimidated from completing the exit poll questionnaire, you would expect the opposite result, since Bush voters would be much more likely to feel intimidated in a strongly pro-Kerry precinct than in a strongly pro-Bush precinct.
- The claim that Kerry voters were more willing than Bush voters to cooperate with the exit polls is also contradicted by the fact that, as the report itself noted, "There was no significant difference between the completion rates and the precinct partisanship." The completion rate was actually slightly higher (56%) in Bush strongholds (precincts 80-plus percent for Bush) than in Kerry strongholds (53%). If Bush voters were reluctant interviewees, in general, you would expect the opposite result. And, again, the slightly lower completion rate in Kerry strongholds cannot be explained by intimidation of Bush voters, since the WPE actually favored Bush slightly in the Kerry strongholds.
- In any case, the report found that "The correlation between the overall completion rate and the...WPE was not significant (0.05)..." In other words, the error cannot be explained by saying that voters in some kinds of precincts were more likely to complete the exit poll questionnaire than voters in other kinds of precincts.
- Remarkably, the WPE was much lower in precincts that use old-fashioned, hand-counted paper ballots than in precincts that use some kind of machine:
Equipment Mean WPE Paper ballot -2.2 Mechanical -10.6 Touchscreen -7.1 Punch cards -6.6 Optical scan -6.1
This is all the more remarkable because the paper ballot precincts are overwhelmingly rural precincts, hence more likely to be pro-Bush and, as we have seen, the pro-Bush precincts generally had large WPE. Why should paper ballot make such a difference?
- There was also a significant difference between swing states and non-swing states, with a median WPE of -5.1 (overstating Kerry's numbers by 5.1 percentage points) in non-swing states, and a median WPE of -8.6 in swing states. Why should the exit polls have been so consistently less accurate in the states that mattered most to the final outcome?
- And then there's this, which I'll note without comment: the exit poll system's database server failed at 10:35 PM ET election night, causing subscriber screens to "freeze." According to the report: "This problem caused disruptions in the sytem until shortly after midnight when we switched to a backup server for the rest of the night. There was a second occurrence of this problem at approximately 2:45 AM ET."
Of course, the fact that the discrepancies were far greater in swing states is consistent with a scenario where Republicans stole votes in states where it mattered most. The fact that the discrepancies were far greater in Bush strongholds is consistent with a scenario where Republicans stole votes in precincts where they had the greatest control over the process. And it is remarkable, to put it mildly, that the precincts where the discrepancies were by far the smallest were the precincts that used old-fashioned paper ballots, where vote-stealing would be most easily detected.
It should be emphasized that the discrepancy between the offical count and the exit polls was huge and one-sidedly favored Bush. And, it should be remembered that, historically, exit polls have been highly accurate. As In These Times reported:
Although President Bush prevailed by 3 million votes in the official, tallied vote count, exit polls had projected a margin of victory of 5 million votes for Kerry. This unexplained 8 million vote discrepancy between the election night exit polls and the official count should raise a Chinese May Day of red flags. [...]
Exit polls are highly accurate. They remove most of the sources of potential polling error by identifying actual voters and asking them immediately afterward who they had voted for.
The reliability of exit polls is so generally accepted that the Bush administration helped pay for them during recent elections in Georgia, Belarus and Ukraine. Testifying before the House Committee on International Relations Dec. 7, John Tefft, deputy assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs, explained that the Bush administration funded exit polls because they were one of the "ways that would help to expose large-scale fraud." Tefft pointed to the discrepancy between exit polls and the official vote count to argue that the Nov. 22 Ukraine election was stolen. [My emphasis]
But we don't live in the Ukraine, and the media have moved on to more pressing matters: the celebrity trials of Robert Blake and Michael Jackson.
This is the way our democracy ends. Not with a bang but a whimper.
January 14, 2005
|Horse Gone, Lock Barn||Vote Fraud|
The Cleveland Plain Dealer reports that Ohio is now going to standardize on optical-scan voting machines.
After years of wrangling and protests, Secretary of State Ken Blackwell announced Wednesday that he will limit Ohio's uncompleted voting-machine conversion to a single device: the precinct-count optical-scan machine. [...]
Blackwell's order calls for optical-scan machines — which process paper ballots filled out by hand and fed into a computerized counter at the precinct — to be deployed statewide by November.
The current generation of optical-scan machines are still vulnerable — especially at the vote tabulation servers, many of which store their counts in Microsoft Access databases that your eight-year-old could hack into — but at least there will be paper ballots available for a recount.
January 06, 2005
|What About The Exit Polls?||Vote Fraud|
I'm watching as the House debates the challenge to Ohio's electors on C-Span. I'm glad the challenge was made. I'm glad it's being debated.
But I find it more frustrating than I can say that everyone seems so willing to accept what is practically a mathematical impossibility: that the exit polls in all of the battleground states differed from the final vote tallies by such substantial margins, and in every case the discrepancy in the vote tallies was in Bush's favor. (The only exception was Wisconsin, where the exit polls were dead on.) The table below shows for each state the number of percentage points by which Bush's vote tally exceeded what exit polls showed.
State Differential Colorado Bush +3.4 Florida Bush +4.9 Iowa Bush +2.2 Michigan Bush +1.6 Minnesota Bush +5.5 Nevada Bush +3.9 New Hampshire Bush +9.5 New Mexico Bush +3.7 Ohio Bush +6.7 Pennsylvania Bush +6.5 Wisconsin None
You may want to go back and read this post. As I described there, University of Pennsylvania professor Steven Freeman calculated the probability that a random sample could produce the observed discrepancies in just three of the battleground states: Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Florida. The odds against it happening were more than 660,000 to one. If Freeman had considered all 10 battleground states the odds would have been astronomical. People shrug that off like it's nothing. I don't get it.
When I was in college, I took statistics from John Allen Paulos, author of Innumeracy and a number of other books on statistical thinking. Here's what Professor Paulos had to say about the exit polls:
Absent any proof or compelling reasons for the differences between the final tallies and the exit polls in the swing states, I don't understand why these gross discrepancies are being so widely shrugged off. After all, the procuring of random samples is far more of a problem for ordinary telephone polls, where the minority of people who cooperate with pollsters presumably differs in some way from the majority who don't. Still, these [telephone] polls are not dismissed with the same impatient nonchalance as this year's exit polls. [My emphasis]
I've talked to intelligent, educated people who shrug off the exit polls by saying that the discrepancy was unlikely but not impossible. One in 660,000, after all, is not zero.
Please. Get real. One in 660,000. If that's not "beyond a reasonable doubt", what is?
|Boxer To Join Challenge Of Ohio Electors||Vote Fraud|
By law, a protest signed by members of the House and Senate requires both chambers to meet separately for up to two hours to consider it. Lawmakers are allowed to speak for no more than five minutes each.
"I have concluded that objecting to the electoral votes from Ohio is the only immediate way to bring these issues to light by allowing you to have a two-hour debate to let the American people know the facts surrounding Ohio's election," Boxer wrote in a letter to Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones, D-Ohio, a leader of the Democratic effort.
Let's hope this isn't the end of it. The Conyers report stated that "intentional misconduct and illegal behavior" took place in Ohio. Criminal investigations should be demanded, and charges brought where warranted.
January 05, 2005
|Conyers Report Online||Vote Fraud|
The House Judiciary Committee's Democratic Staff has issued a report with findings from the hearings spearheaded by Rep. Conyers.
It's available here.
We have found numerous, serious election irregularities in the Ohio presidential election, which resulted in a significant disenfranchisement of voters. Cumulatively, these irregularities, which affected hundreds of thousand of votes and voters in Ohio, raise grave doubts regarding whether it can be said the Ohio electors selected on December 13, 2004, were chosen in a manner that conforms to Ohio law, let alone federal requirements and constitutional standards.
This report, therefore, makes three recommendations: (1) consistent with the requirements of the United States Constitution concerning the counting of electoral votes by Congress and Federal law implementing these requirements, there are ample grounds for challenging the electors from the State of Ohio; (2) Congress should engage in further hearings into the widespread irregularities reported in Ohio; we believe the problems are serious enough to warrant the appointment of a joint select Committee of the House and Senate to investigate and report back to the Members; and (3) Congress needs to enact election reform to restore our people's trust in our democracy. These changes should include putting in place more specific federal protections for federal elections, particularly in the areas of audit capability for electronic voting machines and casting and counting of provisional ballots, as well as other needed changes to federal and state election laws.
With regards to our factual finding, in brief, we find that there were massive and unprecedented voter irregularities and anomalies in Ohio. In many cases these irregularities were caused by intentional misconduct and illegal behavior, much of it involving Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell, the co-chair of the Bush-Cheney campaign in Ohio. [My emphasis]
Strong language. I'll have more to say when I've had a chance to peruse the report.
January 01, 2005
|Read 'Em And Weep||Vote Fraud|
Twenty horrifying facts about voting in the US. As you read them, ask yourself what you'd think if you were to read similar facts about the election system of some country in eastern Europe, say, or the Third World.
Add to the list the fact Ohio Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell, the person responsible for counting the votes in the state that turned out to be pivotal in 2004, was co-chair of the Bush campaign there, just as Katherine Harris was the Bush co-chair in Florida in 2000.
As Xymphora points out, this is as if in American football one of the teams' quarterbacks were also to serve as referee. Not that that would ever happen. Football's too important.
December 30, 2004
|Ohio Update: Conyers To Challenge Ohio Electors||Vote Fraud|
William Rivers Pitt reports that Rep. John Conyers, senior Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, will challenge the legitimacy of Ohio's electors on January 6. He is asking members of the Senate to join him and his House allies. Truthout:
Representative John Conyers, ranking minority member of the House Judiciary Committee, will object to the counting of the Ohio Electors from the 2004 Presidential election when Congress convenes to ratify those votes on January 6th. In a letter dispatched to every Senator, which will be officially published by his office shortly, Conyers declares that he will be joined in this by several other members of the House. Rep. Conyers is taking this dramatic step because he believes the allegations and evidence of election tampering and fraud render the current slate of Ohio Electors illegitimate.
"As you know," writes Rep. Conyers in his letter, "on January 6, 2005, at 1:00 P.M, the electoral votes for the election of the president are to be opened and counted in a joint session of Congress. I and a number of House Members are planning to object to the counting of the Ohio votes, due to numerous unexplained irregularities in the Ohio presidential vote, many of which appear to violate both federal and state law."
The letter goes on to ask the Senators who receive this letter to join Conyers in objecting to the Ohio Electors. "I am hoping that you will consider joining us in this important effort," writes Conyers, "to debate and highlight the problems in Ohio which disenfranchised innumerable voters. I will shortly forward you a draft report itemizing and analyzing the many irregularities we have come across as part of our hearings and investigation into the Ohio presidential election."
Will anyone in the Senate come forward? This time (unlike 2001) the challenge may get some media play — thanks to Michael Moore.
December 29, 2004
|Ohio Update: Kerry Campaign Joins The Fray||Vote Fraud|
Monday afternoon, the Kerry campaign in Ohio joined a lawsuit to preserve certain evidence relating to Ohio's recount. This is noteworthy because the Kerry campaign has, until now, been content to stay in the background. You can read the motion at Raw Story, which reports:
[T]he motion seeks to preserve all ballots and voting machines for investigation and analysis, and to make a Triad Election Systems technician available for a sworn deposition.
The Triad technician in question is the one refered to in this earlier post.
It's also possible that there may be a Congressional challenge of the election results even without Kerry's participation. If you saw Fahrenheit 911, you'll recall the scene at the start of the film in which members of the Congressional Black Caucus rise, one after another, to challenge the 2000 election. Their challenge is thwarted when not even one Senator comes forward to sign off on it. Rep. Conyers told Salon he doesn't think the Senate will let that happen again:
I think the Senate is going to go along with an inquiry this time. I don't think they would embarrass themselves to let this happen two times in a row.
Michael Moore's movie — and the threat of another one — may push the Senate to act. Cool.
|Ohio Update: Blackwell Refuses Questioning||Vote Fraud|
Yesterday it was reported that Ohio's Republican Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell, the government official in charge of Ohio's elections (who also happens to have been the co-chair of the Bush campaign in Ohio), has filed a request for a protective order that would shield him from questioning in a lawsuit challenging the Ohio election results:
Citing fraud, 37 people who voted for president Nov. 2 have challenged the election results with the Ohio Supreme Court. The voters refer to irregularities including long lines, a shortage of voting machines in minority precincts and problems with computer equipment.
Blackwell says he doesn't have to consent to be interviewed because he's a "high-ranking public official" (not to be confused, I guess, with a "public servant"). He calls the voters' objections "frivolous."
Easy for him to say.
|Ohio Update: Triad's Admission||Vote Fraud|
[Continuing from the previous post.]
On Dec. 20, the Hocking County Board of Elections held a hearing that included testimony by Brett Rapp, President of Triad, and Michael Barbian, a field rep for Triad. Rapp and Barbian came right out and admitted that they supplied the machine counts specifically to avoid a hand recount.
On Dec. 22, Conyers wrote to Rapp and Barbian, citing the following portion of their testimony:
RAPP: Remember: the purpose was to train people on how to conduct their jobs...and to help them identify problems when they conducted their recount... If they could not hand recount the ballots correctly, they would know what they needed to look for in that hand count. [...]
BARBIAN: It's [easy to make a] mistake as you're hand counting... It's just human error. The machine counts it right... We're trying to give them as much information as possible to help them out. [...]
INTERVIEWER: You were just trying to help them so that they wouldn't have to do a full recount of the county, to try to avoid that?
BARBIAN: Right. [Emphasis in the original]
In his letter, Conyers stated:
I am concerned that your company has operated — either intentionally or negligently — in a manner which will thwart the recount law in Ohio by preventing validly cast ballots in the presidential election from being counted.
You can read Conyers' four-page letter here.
|Ohio Update: Cobb's Testimony||Vote Fraud|
Things are heating up in Ohio. There's a lot of ground to cover, so I've split it up into several posts.
On Dec. 13, Rep. John Conyers held a hearing in Columbus. At that hearing, David Cobb, the Green Party's Presidential candidate, testified about illegal activity on the part of Triad Systems in Ohio. Triad is involved in the vote count in 41 Ohio counties (map). A portion of Cobb's testimony:
A representative from Triad Systems came into a county board of elections office un-announced. He said he was just stopping by to see if they had any questions about the up-coming recount. He then headed into the back room where the Triad supplied Tabulator (a card reader and older PC with custom software) is kept. He told them there was a problem and the system had a bad battery and had "lost all of its data". He then took the computer apart and started swapping parts in and out of it and another "spare" tower type PC also in the room. He may have had spare parts in his coat as one of the BOE people moved it and remarked as to how very heavy it was. He finally re-assembled everything and said it was working but to not turn it off.
He then asked which precinct would be counted for the 3% recount test, and the one which had been selected as it had the right number of votes, was relayed to him. He then went back and did something else to the tabulator computer.
The Triad Systems representative suggested that since the hand count had to match the machine count exactly, and since it would be hard to memorize the several numbers which would be needed to get the count to come out exactly right, that they should post this series of numbers on the wall where they would not be noticed by observers. He suggested making them look like employee information or something similar. The people doing the hand count could then just report these numbers no matter what the actual count of the ballots revealed. This would then "match" the tabulator report for this precinct exactly [thereby avoiding a county-wide hand recount]. The numbers were apparently the final certified counts for the selected precinct.
Triad is contracted to do much of the elections work in this county and elsewhere in Ohio. [...] They also have a technician in the office on election night to actually run the tabulator itself.
Triad also supplies the network computers on which all of the voter registration information and processing is kept for the county. [...]
The source of this report believes that the Triad representative was "making the rounds" of visiting other counties also before the recount. [My emphasis]
Ohio law calls for a recount of 3% of a county's precincts, selected at random. If the recounts in those precincts differ sufficiently from the machine counts, a full hand recount is required. The Triad rep appears to have been helping precincts force the numbers to come out right, thereby avoiding a full recount.
Cobb's allegations prompted Conyers to contact the FBI and the county prosecutor of Hocking County, where the incident occurred. Conyers' letter is posted here, along with Cobb's testimony and the affidavit of the source of Cobb's information.
By the way, Keith Olbermann says:
The Green Party says that 86 of the 88 counties violated Ohio voting law and pre-selected what were to be randomly chosen precincts for hand recounts. [My emphasis]
86 out of 88. This stinks to high heaven.
December 08, 2004
|Conyers Hearing On C-Span||Vote Fraud|
Rep. John Conyers chaired a hearing this morning dealing with allegations of vote fraud and voter suppression in Ohio.
If you missed it, I recommend you check it out online on C-Span's website. Go here and click on House Forum on Ohio Election Procedures. It's three hours long, but you can listen to it in pieces. (If the C-Span link fails to play, follow these instructions.)
And while I'm at it, here's some other Ohio vote video material that you can view online. This video is in three segments, of which the third segment, the long one, is the best. It consists of statements by various African-American voters who arrived at their polling places only to find they'd been deleted from the rolls. It puts a human face on the numbers.
Update: [12/9, 10:58 AM] Here's a link to highlights of the hearing. This version is 30 minutes long.
December 07, 2004
|If This Is For Real...||Vote Fraud|
From BuzzFlash, an affadavit signed Monday by computer programmer Clint Curtis. Curtis claims that while he was employed as lead programmer by Yang Enterprises (YEI) of Florida, YEI was approached by Tom Feeney, future Republican Speaker of the House in Florida, who asked YEI to create software designed to steal votes. Excerpts from the affadavit:
During a meeting in late September or October of 2000 at YEI...Mr. Feeney said that he wanted to know if YEI could develop a prototype of a voting program that could alter the vote tabulation in an election and be undetectable. He was very specific in the design and specifications required for this program. He detailed, in his own words, that; (a) the program needed to be touch-screen capable, (b) the user should be able to trigger the program without any additional equipment, (c) the programming to accomplish this remain hidden even if the source code was inspected. [...]
It was my initial belief that Mr. Feeney was interested in such a program because of a concern that Democrats would try to use such a program to steal an election, and he wanted to be able to detect and prevent that if it occurred.
Curtis (who, incidentally, says that at the time he was a life-long registered Republican) then built a prototype program that would allow an operator to control the vote outcome. The affadavit again:
I gave the software program, which was on a CD disc, and the report that was on disc and on paper, to Mrs. Yang. I stressed that she and Mr. Feeney could view the operation of the program and then see how to detect such fraudulent source code so it could be prevented. Conversely, if they allowed blind (already compiled) code to be used (no source code provided) and there were no paper receipts, the votes could be flipped from one candidate to the other without any possible way for the deception to be detected. I explained that this could be done with a touch screen machine or automatically. She immediately stated, "You don't understand, in order to get the contract we have to hide the manipulation in the source code. This program is needed to control the vote in South Florida." [Emphasis in the original]
This is a developing story, and there is obviously no way at this point to independently verify the allegations. One has to be concerned that this may be another forgery put forward to poison the well and preempt the media from looking deeper into allegations of computerized vote fraud, just as the Dan Rather forgeries (if forgeries they were) preempted the media from energetically pursuing the most serious allegations about Bush's time in the Texas Air National Guard.
December 04, 2004
|Diebold Parody||Humor & Fun Politics Vote Fraud|
November 30, 2004
|More Ohio Vote Anomalies||Vote Fraud|
Daily News reporter Larry Cohler-Esses and I have uncovered some more unusual vote totals, this time in black neighborhoods of Cleveland. Those results are from the precinct-by-precinct tallies released by the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections, where Cleveland is located.
In the 4th Ward on Cleveland's East Side, for example, two fringe presidential candidates did surprisingly well.
In precinct 4F, located at Benedictine High School on Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, Kerry received 290 votes, Bush 21 and Michael Peroutka, candidate of the ultra-conservative anti-immigrant Constitutional Party, an amazing 215 votes!
That many black votes for Peroutka is about as likely as all those Jewish votes for Buchanan in Florida's Palm Beach County in 2000.
In precinct 4N, also at Benedictine High School, the tally was Kerry 318, Bush 21, and Libertarian Party candidate Michael Badnarik 163.
Back in 2000, the combined third-party votes in those two precincts — including the Nader vote — was 8. Cuyahoga, like most of Ohio's 88 counties, uses punch-card balloting.
"That's terrible, I can't believe it," said City Councilman Kenneth Johnson, who has represented the 4th Ward since 1980. "It's obviously a malfunction with the machines."
But Peroutka and Badnarik polled unusually well in a few other black precincts. In the 8th Ward's G precinct at Cory United Methodist Church, for instance, Badnarik tallied 51 votes — nearly three times better than Bush's 19. And in I precinct at the same church, Peroutka was the choice on 27 ballots, three times more than Bush's 8. In 2000, independent candidates received 9 votes from both precincts.
The same pattern showed up in 10 Cleveland precincts in which Badnarik and Peroutka received nearly 700 votes between them.
In virtually all those precincts, Kerry's vote was lower than Al Gore's in 2000, even though there was a record turnout in the black community this time, and even though blacks voted overwhelmingly for Kerry.
If this same pattern held true in other cities around Ohio, then quite possibly thousands of votes meant for Kerry somehow ended up in the tallies of the two independent candidates. So far, however, precinct-by-precinct results have not been posted by boards of elections in other counties, but by Thursday all official results are due. [...]
The Badnarik and Peroutka surge was not the only unusual occurrence in Cleveland.
Also unusual was the drop in the Democratic vote in scores of precincts compared to 2000. [My emphasis]
Gonzalez will have more to say on the drop in Democratic vote in his next column.
November 24, 2004
|Pot To Kettle: You're Black||Vote Fraud|
In the bitterly contested Ukrainian presidential election, the incumbent Prime Minister won the popular vote by some 3% amid widespread reports of vote suppression and fraud. The vote tally contradicted exit polls that gave the opposition candidate a clear lead. Sound familiar?
Ukrainians, unlike Americans, take election fraud seriously. Hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians have filled the streets, and there is talk of a general strike and even civil war. The Finanical Times reports that US Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell, co-chair of an independent commission that monitored the election, said:
The numerous findings of domestic and international observers, including Helsinki Commission staff, make clear that the Ukrainian authorities are determined to thwart the will of the Ukrainian people through intimidation, manipulation and outright falsification.
Meanwhile, with no apparent sense of irony, Colin Powell has declared:
We cannot accept this result as legitimate, because it does not meet international standards and because there has not been an investigation of the numerous and credible reports of fraud and abuse.
God forbid an election result should be accepted without investigation when there have been "numerous and credible reports of fraud and abuse."
November 23, 2004
|GAO To Investigate Election Complaints||Vote Fraud|
In response to a request by several Democrats in Congress, the GAO is going to investigate several "systemic problems" with the 2004 election. CNN:
The GAO said it will not investigate every charge listed by the Democrats, but will examine "the security and accuracy of voting technologies, distribution and allocation of voting machines and counting of provisional ballots."
A spokeswoman for one of the lawmakers requesting an investigation, Rep. John Conyers Jr. of Michigan, said the goal is not to overturn the election results, but rather to improve the mechanics of the voting process.
"We are hopeful that GAO's nonpartisan and expert analysis will get to the bottom of the flaws uncovered in the 2004 election," said a statement released by Conyers and five other members of Congress.
As part of the inquiry, the group said it will provide copies of specific incident reports received in their offices regarding the election, including more than 57,000 complaints provided to the House Judiciary Committee.
Those reports include allegations of computer and voting machine problems that added votes to totals, as well as malfunctions that resulted in votes being thrown out. [...]
Requesting lawmakers in addition to Conyers were Reps. Jerrold Nadler, Louise Slaughter and Gregory Meeks of New York; Robert Wexler of Florida; Robert Scott of Virginia; Melvin Watt of North Carolina; Rush Holt of New Jersey; John Olver of Massachusetts; Bob Filner, George Miller and Barbara Lee of California; and Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin.
Tammy Baldwin is my Representative here in Madison. Way to go Tammy.
November 18, 2004
|Berkeley Researchers Question Florida E-Votes, 3||Vote Fraud|
The authors studied touch-screen machines specifically. I.e., optical scanning machines were placed in the same category as conventional paper ballots. They found:
"The impact of e-voting was not uniform.... Its impact was proportional to the Democratic support in the county, i.e., it was especially large in Broward, Palm Beach, and Miami-Dade."
They used multiple-regression analysis that tested a variety of variables by county in addition to whether touch-screen machines were used, namely:
- number of voters
- median income
- Hispanic population
- change in voter turnout between 2000 and 2004
- support for President Bush in 2000 election
- support for Dole in 1996 election
The variable with statistical significance in predicting the size of increase in Bush's support was whether touch-screen voting was used. The probability that the observed correlation was solely due to chance was less than one in a thousand.
As noted earlier, they put the number of excess votes for Bush between 130,000 and 260,000. 130,000 if the votes were simply added to Bush's total. 260,000 if the votes given to Bush were taken from Kerry (in which case each vote accounted for a swing of two votes in the totals). Some number in between if both kinds of events occurred.
|Berkeley Researchers Question Florida E-Votes, 2||Vote Fraud|
|Berkeley Researchers Question Florida E-Votes||Vote Fraud|
BuzzFlash reports on a UC Berkeley analysis that indicates electronic voting machines in Florida erroneously gave excess votes to Bush:
A research team at UC Berkeley reported Thursday morning that irregularities associated with electronic voting machines may have awarded 130,000 - 260,000 or more in excess votes to President George W. Bush in Florida in the 2004 presidential election. The study showed an unexplained discrepancy between votes for President Bush in counties where electronic voting machines were used versus counties using traditional voting methods.
Discrepancies this large or larger rarely arise by chance — the probability is less than 0.1 percent. The research team, led by Sociology Professor Michael Hout, formally disclosed the results of the study at a press conference and called for an immediate investigation by Florida officials.
"The three counties where the voting anomalies were most prevalent were also the most heavily Democratic counties, not the [conservative] Dixiecrat counties you've all heard about before, but the more heavily Democratic counties that used e-vote technology, including Broward, Palm Beach, and Miami-Dade counties in order of magnitude," said Professor Hout.
The statistical patterns in counties that did not have e-touch voting machines predicted a 28,000 vote decrease in President Bush's share of the 2004 vote in Broward County, but the machines actually tallied an increase of 51,000 votes for a net gain of 81,000 votes for the President.
With the research team's statistical model, it was expected that President Bush should have lost 8,900 votes in Palm Beach County but instead he gained 41,000, a difference of 49,900 votes.
And President Bush should have gained only 18,000 votes in Miami-Dade County but in fact gained 37,000, for a difference of 19,300 votes.
"The disparity in favor of the incumbent President Bush cannot be explained away by other factors. The study shows that counties that used electronic voting resulted in disproportionate increases of votes for the President," said Professor Hout.
Furthermore, statistical adjustments for the size of the counties, the number of votes cast, income, ethnicity and other factors, do not explain or account for the discrepancy why the President received so many votes in heavily democratic counties that used electronic voting.
Hout made this appeal: "For the sake of all future elections involving electronic voting, someone needs to explain the statistical anomalies that we found in Florida. We're calling on officials in Florida to take up this task and to take action now." [My emphasis]
This report is based on a press conference convened by the researchers a couple of hours ago. I'll try to post more specifics as they become available.
November 16, 2004
|Ohio Recount Is A "Go"||Vote Fraud|
Common Dreams reports that the Green Party raised $150,000 in 4 days, so the Ohio recount is going to happen:
"Thanks to the thousands of people who have contributed to this effort, we can say with certainty that there will be a recount in Ohio," said Blair Bobier, Media Director for the Cobb-LaMarche campaign.
"The grassroots support for the recount has been astounding. The donations have come in fast and furiously, with the vast majority in the $10-$50 range, allowing us to meet our goal for the first phase of the recount effort in only four days," said Bobier.
Bobier said the campaign is still raising money for the next phase of the recount effort which will be recruiting, training and mobilizing volunteers to monitor the actual recount.
There's a lot that a recount cannot address — e.g., people being forced to stand in line for hours in many Ohio precincts — but it's a start.
This whole effort — identifying problems, getting the word out, raising money — would not have been possible without the Internet. Another example of the way the web is changing politics.
November 14, 2004
|Let's Stop Calling Them "Glitches"||Vote Fraud|
In both news accounts and articles critical of e-voting, various malfunctions and failures of electronic voting machines are nearly always referred to as "glitches."
I have a modest suggestion. Let's stop calling them "glitches." That makes them sound benign, inconsequential, and transitory.
They're defects and malfunctions. Better yet, they're failures.
|Peter Coyote: Media "Locked Down" On Vote Fraud||Vote Fraud|
The following is an excerpt of an email attributed to Peter Coyote, actor and activist, who has been outspoken on the dangers of unverifiable electronic voting:
Friday I received a phone call from a good friend who works at CBS — I've known her for years and she is a Producer for some of the news programs, one well known one in particular. She tipped me off that the news media is in a "lock-down" and that there is to be no TV coverage of the real problems with voting on Nov. 2nd. She said similar "lock-down orders" had come down last year after the invasion of Iraq, but this is far worse — far scarier. She said the majority of their journalists at CBS and elsewhere in NYC are pretty horrified — every one is worried about their jobs and retribution Dan Rather-style or worse. My source said they've also been forbidden to talk about it even on their own time but she was pissed and her journalistic and moral integrity as what she considers to be a gov't watchdog requires her to speak out, while be it covert and she therefore asked me to "spread" the word.
I have no way of independently verifying what this email says, but it seems plausible that the mainstream media would be extremely reluctant to take on the White House on this issue. A regime willing and able to steal an election under our very noses could be expected to stomp down hard on any high-visibility outlet that tries to expose the theft. What happened to Dan Rather would seem trivial in comparison.
Add to that the fact that all major media are now relatively minor holdings of much larger, diversified corporate giants, who will themselves be unwilling to run afoul of the White House and its regulatory agencies just to get some TV ratings or sell some newspapers. Do you think GE, Disney, and Viacom want to jeopardize their businesses just so their network subsidiaries can get a short-lived ratings boost? GE, Disney, and Viacom all wanted Bush to win anyway. A closed circle. A rigged game.
November 13, 2004
|The Enormity Of The Exit Poll Discrepancy||Vote Fraud|
University of Pennsylvania professor Steven Freeman has written an analysis of the unexplained discrepancy between exit polls and the official vote tally on 11-2. Here are the highlights.
Battleground Exit Poll Differentials All Favored Bush
The exit polls were wrong in all battleground states except Wisconsin. In all 10 battleground states where the exit polls were wrong, Bush came out substantially better in the official vote tallies than he had in the exit poll. I.e., the differentials were all in the same direction: in Bush's favor. The table below shows for each state the number of percentage points by which Bush's vote tally exceeded what exit polls showed.
State Differential Colorado Bush +3.4 Florida Bush +4.9 Iowa Bush +2.2 Michigan Bush +1.6 Minnesota Bush +5.5 Nevada Bush +3.9 New Hampshire Bush +9.5 New Mexico Bush +3.7 Ohio Bush +6.7 Pennsylvania Bush +6.5 Wisconsin None
Exit Polls Work
Freeman says "we have every reason to believe that exit polls are accurate survey instruments." Historically, exit polls have not only been accurate, they've provided an accepted method for determining if an election was conducted fairly. Last fall, for example, when exit polls in the former Soviet Republic of Georgia projected one winner and the vote tally showed a different winner, the ensuing scandal forced the resignation of President Shevardnadze, under pressure from the US and Russia.
Freeman gives several examples to show that exit polls generally come within a few tenths of a percent of the final outcome in honest elections.
Ohio, Florida, and Pennsylvania
The heart of Freeman's analysis uses statistical methods to estimate the probability that Kerry's vote percentage could have differed from the exit polls in Ohio, Florida, and Pennsylvania by as much as it did.
If we assume the exit polls used a non-biased, random sample of respondents, the probability of a given vote tally result is easily calculated using statistical methods. The table below shows the probabilities that the official tallies were correct in the three key battleground states, under these assumptions:
State Probability Florida < .0028 Ohio < .0008 Pennsylvania < .0018
Given the probability of each of these three outcomes, to get the probability of all three occurring, you multiply the probabilities together. When you do that, you find what Freeman found:
The likelihood of any two of these statistical anomalies occurring together is on the order of one-in-a-million. The odds against all three occurring together are 250 million to one. As much as we can say in social science that something is impossible, it is impossible that the discrepancies between predicted and actual vote counts in the three critical battlegound states of the 2004 election could have been due to chance or random error. [My emphasis]
250 million to 1. You have a lot better chance of picking the winning numbers in the Powerball Lottery (120 million to 1).
The exit polls were wrong, or the votes were wrong. As Freeman showed, the discrepancy cannot have been due to chance. Various explanations have been offered to try to pin the blame on the exit polls.
Some people have suggested that the exit polls were wrong because election officials limited pollsters' access to voters outside the polling places. Exit polls were conducted in almost 1500 precincts, however. Surely there weren't overzealous election officials chasing away pollsters in more than a few of these precincts, if any. And why would such actions have produced a uniformly pro-Kerry bias?
Other people have argued that the samples may have included too many women, too few Republicans, etc. But pollsters weight or quota for such variables. That's Polling 101. Even after such corrections are made, a random sample won't perfectly match the population as a whole. But that's why statistical analysis talks about probabilities, confidence intervals, and margins of error, to account for random variations in samples.
Finally, it is suggested that Kerry voters may have been more willing than Bush voters to answer the pollsters' questions. This is possible, but nobody has offered any evidence to support it. Moreover, it seems highly unlikely that any difference between Kerry and Bush voters in this regard would be so substantial that it could explain the observed discrepancies, or that it would hold true across all the battleground states.
Freeman's analysis makes it clear that the discrepancies between the exit polls and the vote tallies cannot have been due to chance. Either the exit polls were systematically and substantially wrong, and in such a way that the bias favored Kerry in every single battleground state (except Wisconsin, where the exit polls were correct), or the vote tallies were systematically and substantially wrong, favoring Bush in every case.
It's obvious that somebody's got some explaining to do. If this happened anywhere else in the world, people would be screaming bloody murder.
Update: [Jan 6, 2005 2:30 PM] Freeman continued to refine his analysis. A later revision reworked the odds to 1 in 662,000, still a ridiculously low probability.
November 12, 2004
|Help Ohio Recount||Vote Fraud|
The Green Party and the Libertarian Party have joined forces to request a recount in Ohio. To pay for the recount, they need to raise $113,000. They announced their intentions at 11 AM EST yesterday, and by evening they had raised more than $48,000 from small donors. Contributions can be made online here.
Help America Recount is also taking donations. Their focus is broader than just Ohio.
November 11, 2004
|MoveOn: Investigate The Vote||Vote Fraud|
MoveOn.org has a petition urging Congress to investigate the integrity of the 2004 election. Here.
Representatives Conyers (D-MI), Holt (D-NJ), Nadler (D-NY), Scott (D-VA), Watt (D-NC) and Wexler (D-FL), have demanded that the US General Accounting Office:
immediately undertake an investigation of the efficacy of voting machines and new technologies used in the 2004 election, how election officials responded to difficulties they encountered, and what we can do in the future to improve our election systems and administration.
Sign the petition so more Representatives (and Senators, hopefully) will join in. Pass it on!
November 10, 2004
|Some More Vote Fraud Links||Vote Fraud|
Here are a half dozen pages that link to lots of news and analysis regarding vote fraud on November 2nd. Some wheat, some chaff:
Also, if you're a programmer, you may find this story interesting. Johns Hopkins computer scientists examined the Diebold source code, and what they found isn't pretty. Highly insecure code (easily-crackable DES encryption with the key hard-coded, so if you hack one machine you've hacked them all) and horribly sloppy and unprofessional programming. Hey, it's only an election for the "leader of the Free World."
|No More Exit Polls?||Vote Fraud|
When votes are tallied on paperless electronic machines, the only safeguard against wholesale cheating is exit polling. As Republican uber-consultant Dick Morris wrote:
So reliable are [exit polls] that they are used as guides to the relative honesty of elections in Third World countries.
Now, RNC chair Ed Gillespie is calling for exit polls to be eliminated. TV Week:
After early exit polls in Tuesday's election inaccurately suggested that Democratic presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry would trounce President Bush, Republican National Committee Chairman Ed Gillespie is recommending that major news organizations pull the plug on the prognostications.
In remarks Thursday at the National Press Club, Mr. Gillespie said he is among those who were stunned by exit poll reports, which leaked widely on the Internet. "I would encourage the media to abandon exit surveys on Election Day..."
The Republican game-plan may be to push for nearly all-electronic voting by 2008. Elimination of exit polls would then be the final nail in the coffin. We'll still go through the motions of a "campaign," we'll do something that looks like voting and feels like voting, and there will still be election night TV spectaculars where the "results" are announced, but real voting, at least for national office, will be over.
(For background on why all-electronic voting would favor Republicans, see this post.)
|What's Up With Cuyahoga County?||Vote Fraud|
The published vote tallies in Cuyahoga County, Ohio, show a number of locales where there were more votes than registered voters:
Bay Village 13710 18663 Beachwood 9943 13939 Bedford 9942 14465 Bedford Heights 8142 13512 Brooklyn 8016 12303 Brooklyn Heights 1144 1869 Chagrin Falls 3557 4860 Cuyahoga Heights 570 1382 Fairview Park 13342 18472 Highland Hills 760 8822 Independence 5735 6226 Mayfield 2764 3145 Middleburg Heights 12173 14854 Moreland Hills 2990 4616 North Olmsted 25794 25887 Oakwood 2746 7099 Olmsted Falls 6538 7328 Pepper Pike 5131 6479 Rocky River 16600 20070 Solon Ward 6 2292 4300 Strongsville Ward 3 7806 12108 University Heights 10072 11982 Valley View 1787 3409 Warrensville Hghts 10562 15039 Woodmere 558 8854 Bedford CSD 22777 27856 Independence LSD 5735 6226 Orange CSD 11640 22931 Warrensville CSD 12218 15822 Total 235044 332518
There are 97,489 more votes than registered voters. That's just one Ohio county. Maybe there's a perfectly reasonable explanation. Maybe not.
November 09, 2004
|Florida Flip-Flops||Vote Fraud|
County Registered Votes %Rep %Dem %Rep %Dem Baker 24.3% 69.3% 77.7% 21.9% Bradford 28.3% 61.4% 69.6% 29.9% Calhoun 11.9% 82.4% 63.4% 35.5% Columbia 31.3% 56.5% 67.1% 32.1% De Soto 25.4% 59.3% 58.0% 41.2% Dixie 15.0% 77.5% 68.8% 30.4% Franklin 15.9% 77.3% 58.6% 40.5% Holmes 21.3% 72.7% 77.3% 21.8%
And no, I didn't accidentally switch the last two columns. That's the point.
These results are suspicious in themselves, but what adds to the suspicion is the fact that these counties all have something in common: they all use optical scanning machines. Counties that used touchscreen machines did not show this same pattern of flip-flops between percentages of registered vs. actual voters.
Machine type is not randomly distributed among counties, however. Optical scanning machines tend to be used in small counties, touchscreen machines in large counties. Perhaps that explains the difference. To find out, Elizabeth Liddle performed a statistical analysis (analysis of variance) on the 26 mid-sized counties. In these counties, type of machine was not significantly correlated with size of county, nor with their percentages of Republican or Democratic registered voters. Her findings are summarized in a graph here.
In these mid-sized counties, she found that machine type was very statistically significant (p < .01), with Kerry doing much worse than expected in counties using optical scanning machines.
What's it all mean? Something stinks.
November 08, 2004
|Dick Morris On Exit Polls||Vote Fraud|
The exit polls had Kerry by an electoral vote landslide, but the official results said otherwise. For the past week, the mainstream media have assured us, ad nauseam, that the exit pollsters blew it.
Republican political consultant Dick Morris, however, has considerable faith in exit polls. First, here he is in the New York Post:
That an exit poll is always right is an axiom of politics. It is easier to assume that a compass is not pointing north than to assume that an exit poll is incorrect. It takes a deliberate act of fraud and bias to get an exit poll wrong. Since the variables of whether or not a person will actually vote are eliminated in exit polling, it is like peeking at the answer before taking the test.
But these exit polls were wrong. And the fact that they were so totally, disastrously wrong is a national scandal. There should be a national investigation to unearth the story behind the bias. [My emphasis]
And here he is in The Hill:
Exit polls are almost never wrong. They eliminate the two major potential fallacies in survey research by correctly separating actual voters from those who pretend they will cast ballots but never do and by substituting actual observation for guesswork in judging the relative turnout of different parts of the state.
So reliable are the surveys that actually tap voters as they leave the polling places that they are used as guides to the relative honesty of elections in Third World countries. When I worked on Vicente Fox’s campaign in Mexico, for example, I was so fearful that the governing PRI would steal the election that I had the campaign commission two U.S. firms to conduct exit polls to be released immediately after the polls closed to foreclose the possibility of finagling with the returns. [...]
But this Tuesday, the networks did get the exit polls wrong. Not just some of them. They got all of the Bush states wrong. So, according to ABC-TV’s exit polls, for example, Kerry was slated to carry Florida, Ohio, New Mexico, Colorado, Nevada and Iowa, all of which Bush carried. The only swing state the network had going to Bush was West Virginia, which the president won by 10 points.
To screw up one exit poll is unheard of. To miss six of them is incredible. It boggles the imagination how pollsters could be that incompetent and invites speculation that more than honest error was at play here. [...]
This was no mere mistake. Exit polls cannot be as wrong across the board as they were on election night. I suspect foul play. [My emphasis]
Morris, of course, is trying to make a case that the networks and exit pollsters somehow colluded to fake the numbers. Instead, he convincingly makes the opposite case: exit polls don't miss, and when they do it's prima facie evidence of a crooked election.
|Messing With A Server In Ohio||Politics Vote Fraud|
There are procedures in place for examining, testing, and certifying the software for electronic voting machines. The procedures are completely inadequate, but they do exist, and only certified software is supposed to be used on election day.
As noted in an earlier post, Diebold has been caught multiple times installing non-certified software in their machines shortly before elections. Here's a story [via Xymphora] from The Evening Leader of St. Mary's, Ohio, that reports that a former employee of ES&S, the other major electronic voting machine vendor, was allowed to "use" a vote-tabulation server in Ohio two weeks before the November 2nd election:
In a letter dated Oct. 21, Ken Nuss, former deputy director of the Auglaize County Board of Elections, claimed that Joe McGinnis, a former employee of Election Systems and Software (ES&S), the company that provides the voting system in Auglaize County, was on the main computer that is used to create the ballot and compile election results, which would go against election protocol. Nuss claimed in the letter that McGinnis was allowed to use the computer the weekend of Oct. 16.
Nuss, who resigned from his job Oct. 21 after being suspended for a day, was responsible for overseeing the computerized programming of election software, according to his job description. His resignation is effective Nov. 11.
In 2000, Bush got 69% of the votes in Auglaize County. In 2004, Kerry got 382 more votes than Gore did in 2000, and Bush got 3586 more votes than he did in 2000. That means the additional votes went about 90% for Bush.
November 07, 2004
|Ohio Chaos||Politics Vote Fraud|
Go read this first-hand description of election chaos in Ohio. This so pisses me off.
|Ultra-Right-Wing Origins Of US E-Voting||Politics Religion Vote Fraud|
When you look into the background of the two US companies that supply 80% of the electronic voting machines in use here, what you find is, to put it mildly, shocking: an incestuous web of ultra-right-wing connections.
The following are excerpts from an article in the Columbus (Ohio) Free Press. Prepare to be outraged:
The electronic voting industry is dominated by only a few corporations — Diebold, Election Systems & Software (ES&S) and Sequoia. Diebold and ES&S combined count an estimated 80% of U.S. black box electronic votes.
In the early 1980s, brothers Bob and Todd Urosevich founded ES&S's originator, Data Mark. The brothers Urosevich obtained financing from the far-Right Ahmanson family in 1984, which purchased a 68% ownership stake, according to the Omaha World Herald. After brothers William and Robert Ahmanson infused Data Mark with new capital, the name was changed to American Information Systems (AIS). California newspapers have long documented the Ahmanson family’s ties to right-wing evangelical Christian and Republican circles.
[For example, in] 2001, the Los Angeles Times reported, "... primarily funded by evangelical Christians — particularly the wealthy Ahmanson family of Irvine — the [Discovery] institute’s $1-million annual program has produced 25 books, a stream of conferences and more than 100 fellowships for doctoral and postdoctoral research." The chief philanthropists of the Discovery Institute, that pushes creationist science and education in California, are Howard and Roberta Ahmanson.
According to Group Watch, in the 1980s Howard F. Ahmanson, Jr. was a member of the highly secretive far-Right Council for National Policy, an organization that included Lieutenant Colonel Oliver North, Major General John K. Singlaub and other Iran-Contra scandal notables, as well as former Klan members like Richard Shoff. Ahmanson, heir to a savings and loan fortune, is little reported on in the mainstream U.S. press. But, English papers like The Independent are a bit more forthcoming on Ahmanson’s politics.
"On the right, figures such as Richard Mellon Scaife and Howard Ahmanson have given hundreds of millions of dollars over several decades to political projects both high (setting up the Heritage Foundation think-tank, the driving engine of the Reagan presidency) and low (bankrolling investigations into President Clinton’s sexual indiscretions and the suicide of the White House insider Vincent Foster)," wrote The Independent last November.
The Sunday Mail described an individual as, "... a fundamentalist Christian more in the mould of U.S. multi-millionaire Howard Ahmanson, Jr., who uses his fortune to promote so-called traditional family values ... by waving fortunes under their noses, Ahmanson has the ability to cajole candidates into backing his right-wing Christian agenda.
Ahmanson is also a chief contributor to the Chalcedon Institute that supports the Christian reconstruction movement. The movement’s philosophy advocates, among other things, "mandating the death penalty for homosexuals and drunkards."
The Ahmanson family sold their shares in American Information Systems to the McCarthy Group and the World Herald Company, Inc. Republican Senator Chuck Hagel disclosed in public documents that he was the Chairman of American Information Systems and claimed between a $1 to 5 million investment in the McCarthy Group. In 1997, American Information Systems purchased Business Records Corp. (BRC), formerly Texas-based election company Cronus Industries, to become ES&S. One of the BRC owners was [Caroline] Hunt of the right-wing Hunt oil family, which supplied much of the original money for the Council on National Policy.
In 1996, Hagel became the first elected Republican Nebraska senator in 24 years when he did surprisingly well in an election where the votes were verified by the company he served as chairman and maintained a financial investment. In both the 1996 and 2002 elections, Hagel's ES&S counted an estimated 80% of his winning votes. Due to the contracting out of services, confidentiality agreements between the State of Nebraska and the company kept this matter out of the public eye. Hagel's first election victory was described as a "stunning upset" by one Nebraska newspaper. [...]
Bob Urosevich was the Programmer and CEO at AIS, before being replaced by Hagel. Bob now heads Diebold Election Systems and his brother Todd is a top executive at ES&S. Bob created Diebold’s original electronic voting machine software. Thus, the brothers Urosevich, originally funded by the far Right, figure in the counting of approximately 80% of electronic voting in the United States.
Like Ohio, the State of Maryland was disturbed by the potential for massive electronic voter fraud. The voters of that state were reassured when the state hired SAIC to monitor Diebold’s system. SAIC's former CEO is Admiral Bill Owens. Owens served as a military aide to both Vice President Dick Cheney and former Defense Secretary Frank Carlucci, who now works with George H.W. Bush at the controversial Carlyle Group. Robert Gates, former CIA Director and close friend of the Bush family, also served on the SAIC Board.
Wherever Diebold and ES&S go, irregularities and historic Republican upsets follow. Alastair Thompson, writing for scoop.co of New Zealand, explored whether or not the 2002 U.S. mid-term elections were "fixed by electronic voting machines supplied by Republican-affiliated companies." The scoop investigation concluded that: "The state where the biggest upset occurred, Georgia, is also the state that ran its election with the most electronic voting machines." Those machines were supplied by Diebold.
Wired News reported that "... a former worker in Diebold's Georgia warehouse says the company installed patches on its machine before the state's 2002 gubernatorial election that were never certified by independent testing authorities or cleared with Georgia election officials." Questions were raised in Texas when three Republican candidates in Comal County each received exactly the same number of votes — 18,181.
Following the 2003 California election, an audit of the company revealed that Diebold Election Systems voting machines installed uncertified software in all 17 counties using its equipment.
Former CIA Station Chief John Stockwell writes that one of the favorite tactics of the CIA during the Reagan-Bush administration in the 1980s was to control countries by manipulating the election process. ... Documents illustrate that the Reagan and Bush administration supported computer manipulation in both Noriega's rise to power in Panama and in Marcos' attempt to retain power in the Philippines. Many of the Reagan administration’s staunchest supporters were members of the Council on National Policy. [My emphasis]
To summarize: One pair of brothers, long backed by ultra-right-wing Christian Reconstructionist money, are the technical principals behind the two companies that supply 80% of our e-voting machines. Chuck Hagel is elected in a "stunning upset" when the votes are counted by the company whose chairman is... Chuck Hagel. In Georgia, another shocking upset occurs on Diebold machines using uncertified software patches secretly installed by Diebold. In California, Diebold machines are found to be running uncertified software secretly installed by Diebold.
Nothing to worry about America. Go back to sleep.
|Jon Stewart On Electronic Voting||Humor & Fun Vote Fraud|
The Daily Show's take on electronic voting from earlier this year.
Includes a short clip where Michael Wertheimer of RABA Technologies, who was hired by the state of Maryland to test the security of Maryland's Diebold e-voting system, tells how his team was able to break into the state board of elections' computers via telephone, change the election results, erase their tracks, and get back out — in under five minutes.
As usual, The Daily Show nails it, though it's a whole lot harder to laugh about this subject now than it was then.
November 05, 2004
|A Simple Question||Politics Vote Fraud|
Ohio, Florida, and other states had a choice between using:
A) electronic voting machines with associated paper ballots that make it possible to detect otherwise undetectable machine errors and vote fraud and to conduct manual recounts, or
B) electronic voting machines with no associated paper ballots, making it impossible to detect many kinds of machine errors and vote fraud or to conduct manual recounts.
What conceivable legitimate rationale is there for preferring option B? Especially when state law requires manual recounts under specific conditions?
Suppose you saw a news item from some third world country that said the party in power was insisting on option B over the objections of members of the opposition party. Would you doubt for a moment that vote fraud was the motive?
|Two-Year-Old Software Bug Subtracts Votes||Politics Vote Fraud|
This is getting ridiculous. From The Miami Herald, a report on Broward County, FL, which just happens to be a Democratic stronghold that voted 2 to 1 for Kerry [excerpts]:
Broward County corrected a computer glitch Thursday that had miscounted thousands of absentee votes, instantly turning a slot-machine measure from loser to winner and reinforcing concerns about the accuracy of electronic election returns.
The bug, discovered two years ago but never fixed, began subtracting votes after the absentee tally hit 32,500 — a ceiling put in place by the software makers.
"Clearly it's a concern about the integrity of the voting system," said Broward County Mayor Ilene Lieberman, a canvassing board member who was overseeing the count. "This glitch needs to be fixed immediately."
The problem, which resulted in the shocking discovery of about 70,000 votes for Amendment 4, a measure allowing a referendum on Las Vegas-style slots at parimutuels in Miami-Dade and Broward, came to light just after midnight Wednesday when Broward's canvassing board shut down. [...]
County officials blamed Election Systems & Software, the company that sold the machines and counting software to Broward.
County officials say they think ES&S failed to follow through on a problem that was brought to their attention two years ago, during the 2002 general election.
ES&S spokeswoman Becky Vollmer said the glitch — which limits the number of votes that can be counted in each precinct to safeguard against ballot stuffing — will be fixed in software updates they are submitting to the Division of Elections next year. [...]
The tabulation software was set to reverse the vote count at 32,500. It was triggered when Broward counted all 97,535 absentee ballots in one mega-precinct Tuesday night and early Wednesday. [...]
Lale Mamaux, a spokeswoman for U.S. Rep. Robert Wexler, a Boca Raton Democrat, said the miscount had proved the necessity of a paper trail that Florida elections officials have resisted for voting machines.
Broward was able to correct the count because they could simply run the absentee ballots through scanners again. That can't happen with touch-screen voting. [...]
"The bigger picture is that it cast doubt on the accuracy of the elections," she said. To resolve any concerns, Rodriguez-Taseff said Broward should recount everything — not just absentees.
The miscounted votes were the second major flaw in Broward's election, which was also marred when thousands said they didn't get their absentee ballots in the mail. [My emphasis]
A couple of observations.
First, paper ballots are an absolute necessity. They can be machine-scannable (as they are here in Wisconsin) to help with counting, but there have to be paper ballots to let some percentage of machines be audited and to enable votes to be re-counted when problems arise, as happened in this case. It's a no-brainer.
Second, election machine software must be regulated. We could, for example, require certification by panels of eminent academic computer scientists, or we could require the source code to be published publicly so it could be inspected by software professionals around the world in the "open source" tradition. Or both.
As it happens, I'm a software engineer by profession. What this story tells me is that the software in these systems is amateurish and sloppy, that there is no process in place to carefully inspect the source code or rigorously test the machines, and that the company involved has a quality-control process that is at best haphazard and disorganized, at worst non-existent: a bug reported two years ago is still not fixed. The whole thing is incredibly half-assed, or it's criminal. Election software should be gone over with a fine tooth comb and subjected to exhaustive testing. Obviously, this is not happening. Or, the bugs are intentional. There are no other possibilities.
People write rock-solid ATM software. If anybody actually cared, we could have rock-solid voting. It's not rocket science.
|E-Voting Links [UPDATED]||Politics Vote Fraud|
Links to some stories on the electronic voting machines and questions regarding the "election":
Check back for more on this topic over the weekend.
November 04, 2004
|Those Damned Machines: Cui Bono?||Politics Vote Fraud|
This should be a major story. Peter Phillips, of Project Censored, on the electronic voting machines:
Election Systems & Software (ES&S), Diebold, and Sequoia are the companies primarily involved in implementing the new voting stations throughout the country. All three have strong ties to the Bush Administration. The largest investors in ES&S, Sequoia, and Diebold are government defense contractors Northrup-Grumman, Lockheed-Martin, Electronic Data Systems (EDS) and Accenture. Diebold hired Scientific Applications International Corporation (SAIC) of San Diego to develop the software security in their voting machines. A majority of officials on SAIC's board are former members of either the Pentagon or the CIA including:
- Army Gen. Wayne Downing, formerly on the National Security Council
- Bobby Ray Inman; former CIA Director
- Retired Adm. William Owens, former vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
- Robert Gates, another former director of the CIA.
So we have a CIA/military private firm that programmed the security in the voting machines for companies owned by some of the largest military contractors in the country. No wonder the Co-founder of the Citizens Alliance for Secure Elections, Susan Truitt said November 3: "Seven counties in Ohio have electronic voting machines and none of them have paper trails. That alone raises issues of accuracy and integrity as to how we can verify the count. A recount without a paper trail is meaningless; you just get a regurgitation of the data. Last year, Blackwell tried to get the entire state to buy new machines without a paper trail. The exit polls, virtually the only check we have against tampering with a vote without a paper trail, had shown Kerry with a lead. ... A poll worker told me this morning that there were no tapes of the results posted on some machines; on other machines the posted count was zero, which obviously shouldn't be the case." [My emphasis]
This stinks to high heaven. Our voting is now in the hands of defense mega-contractors and former top-ranking military and intelligence officials. Think maybe they have a vested interest in controlling the result? It's got to be like a dream come true for them: no more messy democracy to gum up the works.
Why isn't this information on front pages all over the country?
|Palast: Kerry Won||Politics Vote Fraud|
When it comes to the election, there can no more important question than whether the votes were counted fairly. Given paperless electronic voting, organized voter suppression by the GOP, and election day problems with inadequate supplies of machines and/or ballots that caused waiting times that should be a national scandal, it's natural to ask: was it fixed? Except hardly anyone's asking.
One person who is asking is investigative journalist Greg Palast. His conclusion: Kerry won. Go read it.
November 03, 2004
|Inheriting His Own Mess||Politics Vote Fraud|
A lot of people have written this morning that the silver lining in Bush's victory is that he'll inherit his own mess. As Angry Bear put it, "Bush himself will be in the chicken coop as his own economic chickens come home to roost. And roost they will." And, of course, it's not just the economic chickens. It's Iraq, it's the Middle East generally, it's energy, the environment, terrorism. Lots of chickens heading this way.
While it would have been unfair and unfortunate for John Kerry to have had to preside over, and probably take the blame for, the coming catastrophe, I think there's one thing missing from this "inheriting his own mess" analysis. The theory is that Bush's second term will be such a disaster that four years from now we'll get the country back. But four years from now may be too late.
I think the Bush regime (where "Bush" is shorthand for the radical, Rapture-awaiting, Christian Soldiers wing of the Republican Party) intend to use the next four years to get a stranglehold on power that turns our increasingly fragile Republic into a Republic in name only. They'll do it stealthily, and they'll keep up appearances, but they mean to do it. They'll pack the Supreme Court, they'll keep us in endless war, they'll redistrict, they'll change the rules of the Senate, they'll provoke another terrorist attack, they'll do whatever it takes to make sure their hold on power extends into the indefinite future. Bush may be inheriting his own mess, but in another four years it may no longer matter.
I realize the politically correct thing today is to say it's time for healing, it's time to move on, we're all Americans, but I think those things are being said, for the most part, by people who don't yet realize what they're up against.
I hope I'm wrong.
|International Monitors, Electronic Voting||Politics Vote Fraud|
The International Herald Tribune reports on what international election monitors had to say in Florida yesterday:
The observers said they had less access to polls than in Kazakhstan, that the electronic voting had fewer fail-safes than in Venezuela, that the ballots were not so simple as in the Republic of Georgia and that no other country had such a complex national election system.
"To be honest, monitoring elections in Serbia a few months ago was much simpler," said Konrad Olszewski, an election observer stationed in Miami by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.
"They have one national election law and use the paper ballots I really prefer over any other system," Olszewski said.
The only thing that restrains cheating is the fear of getting caught. Electronic voting machines with no corresponding paper ballot must be outlawed. Paper ballots seem archaic until you realize one simple fact: it is very, very difficult to destroy or change millions of paper ballots without getting caught. They're heavy. They're bulky. They're hard to hide. They can be examined after the fact. Changing data in a computer memory without getting caught is child's play.
Over the next four years, don't be surprised if there is a major push to go to all-electronic voting. At that point, there is nothing to stop elections from becoming just a fake television spectacle, a kind of rigged reality show, where the results are controlled by the party in power. Or maybe we're already there.
October 23, 2004
|Voter Fraud In God's Name||Politics Religion Vote Fraud|
Clearly, the Republicans are working an organized program of voter fraud in battleground states to disrupt Democratic voter registration and, come election day, their voting. See, for example, this, this, this, this, and this.
Rick Perlstein reports in The Village Voice that skittish Democratic consultants don't view the voter fraud story as something Democrats should publicize. One consultant told him, "People will think you're whining." Another said, "Their eyes glaze over when you deal with process kind of issues."
Meanwhile, what does the other side think? Perlstein interviewed an anonymous Evangelical Christian who sheds light on what we're up against:
"Evangelicals are trained to recruit from the cradle," observes one witheringly astute expert on Christian conservative culture. Call this informant Deep Faith: A Ph.D. student in divinity, he grew up in the rural South in an intensely pious Pentecostal community and still believes its creeds after five years at an Ivy League university. He has not, however, kept faith with his ministers' injunction that evangelicals must devote themselves to building a Republican America. The notion, in fact, horrifies him. In college, the first time he spent extended periods outside evangelical circles, he says, "I realized the main thing that separated us evangelicals from them was that they believed in dialogue and compromise. And we believed in taking no prisoners.... Democracy can't function in an environment where one party will not sit down and play by the rules."
He uses a saying of the apostle Paul, beloved of evangelicals, to drive home the point: "Be all things to all people." A missionary, he says, might interpret that to mean that it's OK to swear on a visa application that she's not a missionary: "Technically, it's illegal and you're lying. But if you honestly believe that you're going to save somebody from eternal torture and damnation, and deliver them into a life of eternal bliss, then you're going to do what you have to do." So, he thinks, might people who claim to be "registering" voters—for such means-justifies-the-ends thinking now also marks evangelicals' political attitudes.
"Whenever you think that there are eternal, apocalyptic stakes, and that you can make a difference, you can rationalize a whole lot of stuff to yourself," he says. "I think evangelicals really don't like democracy much at all, especially when it's not going their way." [My emphasis]
Perlstein believes George Bush isn't a fascist. But, he asks:
[W]hat if he were? The people who run Democratic campaigns might dismiss his suspension of constitutional provisions as yet another boring old "process story," not fit to upset the voters with. [...]
Many among our Republican rank and file would have a hard time noticing anything amiss. These are the people who can say, as Richard Viguerie told the Voice, "If there's vote suppressing, nine times out of 10 it's going to be Democrats."
A coup? Deep Faith is convinced some might even welcome it. "It makes me wonder, if something really bad happened, and the Bush administration was able to have a coup and be in permanent charge," he tells me, sinking into his living-room couch, scaring the hell out of me, "who among my folk would seriously protest, if they could get a slice of the pie? 'We could go in there and reverse all this judicial precedent we don't like!'"
That Kingdom of God they keep talking about, he reminds us, the hunger for which is now the fuel of the Republican engine, "is not a democracy."
Is there anything more dangerous than people who believe they're doing God's work, especially those who believe they're playing for eternal stakes in a temporal world? As Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn once wrote, "To do evil, a human being must first of all be convinced he is doing good."
Many, many evangelical Christians seem to have lost sight of the notion that the Christian life consists in the imitation of Christ. I.e., to be a Christian, one should live as Jesus would. But, who would Jesus defraud?