Don’t be a Sitting Duck for the Secret Ballot
Verify Election Results
Run Parallel Elections
Collect Voter Affidavits
CONGRESS! BAN Voting by Secret Ballot, Voting Machine, Internet, Absentee, Early, or Carrier Pigeon.
another must watch: 911 Cover Up
“...our elections are easy to rig because of how we vote. It wasnâ€™t always this way. Prior to the Civil War, voting was a completely observable process. It was only after the Civil War, as the right to vote expanded to African Americans, that the voting process itself began to recede from public view and meaningful oversight. It started with absentee voting by the military in the 1870â€™s, the use of secret ballots in the 1880â€™s, and voting by machine in the 1890â€™s. Today, approximately 30% of all voting is conducted early or by absentee, 95% of all votes are processed by machines, and 100% of all ballots are secret and anonymous.” Lynn Landes
PARTIAL “The Fix Is In” TRANSCRIPT BELOW:
“The election is over. We won.” (Reporter’s voice – “How do you know that?”) “It’s all over, but the counting. And we’ll take care of the counting.”
That was Republican Congressman Peter King of New York. He made those remarks just BEFORE the 2004 presidential election.
Hi. Iâ€™m Lynn Landes. Iâ€™m a freelance journalist and publisher of the website, EcoTalk.org. I want to thank you for taking the time to watch this brief video.
Our elections are in deep trouble. Many Americans no longer believe that voting results are accurate. More and more voters are learning first-hand that voting machines are completely unreliable and that many of our election officials are untrustworthy. But whatâ€™s at the core of this crisis? The secret ballot.
Any ballot in America can be easily miscounted either by accident or design, regardless of whether itâ€™s a paper ballot or electronic vote. That’s because modern Americans vote by secret ballot. A secret ballot is an anonymous ballot, which means it canâ€™t be traced to the voter. Weâ€™ve been told thatâ€™s a good deal for us, that it protects us against harassment and vote selling. But, itâ€™s a much better deal for those who want to rig elections and not get caught. Itâ€™s time we scrap the secrecy and go public with our votes.
In this video youâ€™ll hear a startling admission from a voting company representative, I offer some practical advice on how to verify or challenge election returns through the collection of voter affidavits, And I make the case for a return to total transparency in voting, what I call â€œOpen Votingâ€
The fact is our elections are easy to rig because of how we vote. It wasnâ€™t always this way. Prior to the Civil War, voting was a completely observable process. It was only after the Civil War, as the right to vote expanded to African Americans, that the voting process itself began to recede from public view and meaningful oversight. It started with absentee voting by the military in the 1870â€™s, the use of secret ballots in the 1880â€™s, and voting by machine in the 1890â€™s. Today, approximately 30% of all voting is conducted early or by absentee, 95% of all votes are processed by machines, and 100% of all ballots are secret and anonymous.
Worse yet, most of the voting process in America has been privatized and outsourced to a handful of domestic companies and multi-national corporations. One company, Sequoia, is foreign-owned. And just two companies (ES&S and Diebold) process 80% of all votes in the United States. These companies make, sell, and service both ballot scanners and touchscreen machines.
Although most of the debate over security issues has been framed to target suspicion on outside hackers and backdoors, it is in fact company insiders who have the keys to the front door and complete access to the electronic ballot box. For all practical purposes, voting machine companies are self-regulating, and as such, their employees are in a perfect position to rig elections nationwide. But even if these companies were regulated, it is virtually impossible to guard against insider vote fraud, as you will see.
The following are video clips of an examination of the Danaher voting system by Pennsylvania state authorities in November of 2005.
Notice, the Danaher representative assured state officials that the company would not be able to rig elections because their programmers would have to know well in advance all the candidates names and their positions on the ballot. But thatâ€™s ludicrous. Thereâ€™s nothing to stop programmers from using secret company code to manipulate votes for a particular candidate. This can be done while making a service call before, during, or after an election. It could be accomplished remotely via the Internet, modem, or through wireless technology. And it can be done without the knowledge of election officials.
But, setting that issue aside, what if it is not a specific candidate the company wants to rig an election for, but a particular party instead?
The Danaher representative just admitted that their computer program includes a party identifier next to each candidateâ€™s name. Therefore, the company can easily write a program that shifts a certain percentage of votes from one partyâ€™s candidates to another party before the machines ever leave the factory floor. That shift could make the difference in tight races.
Most voting machine companies have close ties to the Republican Party and most voting machine irregularities appear to favor Republicans, but I must emphasize, that is not always the case. Even in Republican and Democratic primaries, where the race is between members of the same party, voting machines are exhibiting suspicious irregularities. Meanwhile, the Democratic Party and the Green Partyâ€™s measured response to the gravity of this situation makes one wonder.
Pending congressional legislation that would require ballot printers for paperless voting machines is a woefully inadequate response to the threat these machines represent, as a long history of equipment malfunctions and failures can attest. But, even more disturbing are the actions of some candidates, particularly Democratic candidates, who are conceding extremely close races without waiting for all the absentee and provisional ballots to be counted. It appears that the fix may be in across the political spectrum.
Whatâ€™s the solution? Perhaps voters should support candidates that have no party affiliation. But, regarding the voting process itself, Congress should return to a policy of open and transparent elections and ban voting by machine, absentee, early, and by secret ballot. Until that day, we must go public with our votes. We must provide candidates with hard evidence of how we voted so that election results can be verified, or challenged, if necessary. Exit polls do not constitute hard evidence. Only voter affidavits can provide that. Itâ€™s time voters sign up and be counted.
Specifically, candidates or activists need to conduct a Parallel Election, of sorts. They need to collect affidavits from voters or, at the very least, get signed statements that include the voterâ€™s name, signature, address, and for whom they voted. These can be collected in three ways: 1) on Election Day as voters leave the polls, 2) door to door after the election, or 3) by asking voters, particularly absentee voters, to mail-in affidavits or signed statements immediately after they mail in their ballot. If manpower is a problem, then target only a few polling places or precincts. Keep in mind that a list of those who voted is a matter of public record. Most precincts have about 500 voters and most voters donâ€™t vote.
So, for many races weâ€™re not talking about contacting a lot of people. Naturally, you want to first contact voters that belong to the same party as your candidate. Depending on your results, that may be sufficient to challenge election returns. You donâ€™t need 100% participation from voters. Any number of signatures collected that exceeds the official vote count is an indicator of a miscount.
Something similar to this idea was put into practice last winter in North Carolina. A Republican candidate gathered more than 1400 affidavits from voters in precincts where voting machines malfunctioned and lost thousands of votes. On the basis of those affidavits his Democratic opponent conceded.
Last year I wrote my first article calling for Parallel Elections. See – http://www.ecotalk.org/ParallelElections.htm A few activists around the country did just that. On the basis of signed statements collected at 11 polling places in a California election, a recount was granted. Unfortunately by the time the recount was held, there was plenty of opportunity for election officials to minimize the miscount. So, be careful about asking for a recount when whatâ€™s actually needed is a new election thatâ€™s free from voting machines at the very least. And remember, even a new election needs a Parallel Election to serve as a check.
If no one is organizing a Parallel Election, then voters can on their on initiative send the candidate of their choice a card or letter indicating that they voted for them. That might spur more candidates to action. You may not win an election challenge in a court of law, but the court of public opinion is more important in the long run.
If we want a real democracy we must take our elections out of the corporate boardroom and back into the public square. We cannot continue to hide behind the secret ballot. Remember John Hancockâ€™s large and flamboyant signature on the Declaration of Independence? He did that in the face of certain hardship and possible death. Itâ€™s now our turn to sign up and be counted.
Iâ€™m Lynn Landes. And thanks for watching.
QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS:
- Is there any evidence that voting machines have been rigged? Yes. Lots of it. An extensive history of voting machine irregularities can be found in the following:
- Election 2004-Voters Unite.org
- The Conyers Report – Read Excerpts
- Black Box Voting, Ballot-Tampering in the 21st Century (Chapter II) by Bev Harris (2003)
- Accuracy, Integrity, and Security in Computerized Vote-Tallying, by Dr. Roy Saltman (1988)
- my own list
- Check out Florida in 2004 – does anyone really believe that so many Democrats crossed over to vote for George Bush?
- Has anyone confessed to rigging voting machines? Yes.
- http://www.justaflyonthewall.com/ Also see: Programmer Built Vote Rigging Prototype at Florida Congressman’s Request– Clint Curtis affidavit
- Conyers Report excerpts – how Triad technicians reset computers to cheat a recount of votes
The easiest way to rig elections nationwide is for voting machine company-insiders to program the firmware (permanently installed software in touchscreens and ballot scanners) to favor one political party over another. That way they don’t need to know the candidates’ names nor their position on the ballot. They can even rig the top of the ticket only, in which case the winning candidate can claim a crossover vote in a opposing party’s district, as may have happened in Florida 2004 – See Lynn’s data table
- Don’t some voters need these machines, such as non-English language voters and disabled voters? No. Voters who want a ballot in their own language should be able to order such a ballot in advance of any election. Secondly, voting machines present the same violation of voting rights for disabled voters. And contrary to popular belief, the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) does not require election officials to purchase electronic voting machines. Besides, anecdotal evidence suggests that these machines are difficult for the disabled to use. Election officials and voting machine companies admit that it takes the sight-impaired voters ten times longer to use a touchscreen machine than able-bodied voters. However, there is a way for the sight-impaired to vote privately and independently. They can use tactile paper ballot with audio assistance. Tactile ballots are used around the world and in some states such as Rhode Island. Unfortunately, many disabled voters are unaware of these kinds of ballots. That may not be an accident. Two organizations for the blind, The American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) and The National Federation of the Blind (NFB), are ardent supporters of paperless touchscreen voting machines. They also have received over $1 million dollars from the voting machine industry, according to news reports.
- Can you conduct Instant Runoff Voting (IRV) using paper ballots? First, I do not support IRV or proportional voting because they are unnecessary, complicated, and cannot be easily observed. But, yes, Britain, Ireland, and Australia have used paper ballots to conduct Instant Run-Off Voting. However, some advocates of IRV are aggressively promoting the idea that voting machines are necessary. Regarding proportional voting, it is the wrong answer to the obvious problem presented by “at-large” elections where the winners take all. Instead, political entities (such as townships) should be divided into voting districts (which many already are), thereby allowing the development of Democratic, Republican, etc. strongholds which could result in more equitable representation.
- Aren’t machines faster than a hand count and isn’t that important? They should be, but often they’re not. Machines breakdown routinely, thereby taking longer to report election results. In Maryland in the 2004 election, 9% of machines observed by a voting rights group, broke down. Essentially, a speedy hand count is based on a sufficient number of poll workers per number of registered voters and the length of the ballot. Canada uses 2 election officials per approximately 500 registered voters. In addition, election officials don’t need to depend on volunteers. Citizens can be drafted to work at the polls on Election Day, as is done routinely with jury duty. The right to direct access to a ballot and meaningful public oversight of the process supersedes the perceived convenience of voting machines.
- What about states that have really long ballots, including initiatives and referendum? Most countries keep their ballots brief. For instance, in America state and local judges could be elected by legislative bodies instead of the voters. But, there are other issues. The initiative/referendum movement is called Direct Democracy. However, it is really an end-run around the legislature. Some activists think this is a good idea, but others disagree. California’s ballot has become a nightmare. Clearly, those with the money get their issues on the ballot. And consider this. The initiative/referendum movement allows those who control the voting machines to also control which candidates win and what legislation gets passed.
- Aren’t voting machines more accurate than a hand count? There is no way to know. There is no way to test the accuracy of voting machines during the actual voting process on Election Day. Citizens vote in secret. The machines count those votes in secret. If ballot scanners are used, then election officials can run an audit to check accuracy. But, few states require audits. Even with an audit, election officials decide where and when the audits occur. Public participation and oversight is not meaningful. Any test done prior or after an election cannot ensure that during the election the machine did not manipulate votes, either by accident or design. The accuracy of voting machines is often correlated with the number of overvotes and undervotes it records. One could have nothing to do with the other. There is no way to know the intention of the voter, or if a voting machine is filling in votes that the voter deliberately left blank. Although a lever and touchscreen machine can prevent overvotes, all in all, “The difference between the best performing and worst performing technologies is as much as 2 percent of ballots cast. Surprisingly, paper ballotsâ€”the oldest technologyâ€”show the best performance.” This is the finding of two Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) political science professors, Dr. Stephen Ansolabehere and Dr. Charles Stewart III, in a September 25, 2002 study entitled, Voting Technology and Uncounted Votes in the United States.
- Which is more expensive, voting by machine or paper? For legitimate elections, expense can never be a consideration. That said, paper is cheap and requires no special servicing, storage, or trained personnel, while a single voting machines can cost thousands of dollars and require servicing, storage, and trained personnel. Furthermore, election officials never need to rely on volunteers to staff the polls. Citizens can always be drafted as they are for jury duty, at little or no cost to the tax payer.
- Shouldn’t we allow absentee voting for overseas military at least? No. Again, think in terms of jury duty. There are certain rights and responsibilities of citizenship that require your personal appearance. In addition, the polling place provides the voter protection from intimidation and allows poll watchers the opportunity to detect vote fraud or system failure.
- If someone wins by a large enough margin, isn’t that a sign that the election wasn’t rigged? No. It only stands to reason that if someone is going to rig an election, it will be done by a sufficient number of votes to avoid triggering a recount. Otherwise, this could happen: In August of 2002, in Clay county Kansas, Jerry Mayo lost a close race for county commissioner, garnering 48% of the vote, but a hand recount revealed May won by a landslide, earning 76% of the vote.
- If the voting machines are being used at my polling precinct, is it better to vote by absentee? Most absentee ballots are not counted by hand, but instead scanned by computers. The same corporations (ES&S, Diebold, Sequoia, etc) that dominate the touchscreen market, also control the ballot scanners. In addition, some counties, like King County Washington, have even outsourced the mailing of their absentee ballots to private industry.
- Can’t elections be rigged by stuffing ballot boxes, as well? Yes, but it is a detectable kind of vote fraud, whereas voting by machine, early or absentee is nearly impossible to detect. The problem of stuffed ballot boxes may be more fiction than fact. In his book, The Right To Vote, The Contested History of Democracy in the United States, Alexander Keyssar, of the Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, writes, “…recent studies have found that claims of widespread corruption were grounded almost entirely in sweeping, highly emotional allegations backed by anecdotes and little systematic investigation or evidence. Paul Kleppner, among others, has concluded that what is most striking is not how many, but how few documented cases of electoral fraud can be found. Most elections appear to have been honestly conducted: ballot-box stuffing, bribery, and intimidation were the exception, not the rule.”
- Doesn’t the federal government regulate the voting machine industry? No. There is no federal agency charged with regulatory oversight of the elections industry. There are no restrictions on who can count our votes. Anyone from anywhere can count our votes. The Federal Election Commission (FEC) doesn’t even publish a complete list of all the voting technology companies whose business it is to count Americans’ votes. see: voting companies info
- Can a voting machine company be owned by foreigners and run by felons? Yes. Sequoia is the third largest voting machine company in America and is owned by a British-based company, De La Rue. Diebold is the second largest voting machine company in the country. It counts about 35% of all votes in America. Diebold employed 5 convicted felons as senior managers and developers to help write the central compiler computer code that counted 50% of the votes in 30 states. Jeff Dean, Diebold’s Senior Vice-President and senior programmer on Diebold’s central compiler code, was convicted of 23 counts of felony theft in the first degree. Dean was convicted of planting back doors in his software and using a “high degree of sophistication” to evade detection over a period of 2 years. see: fraud & irregularities
- Isn’t that a threat to national security? Yes.
- What was the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) all about? It established the Election Assistance Commission (EAC) to distribute billions of dollars to the states to upgrade their voting systems, but failed to mandate any meaningful standards. http://www.eac.gov/law_ext.asp
- Doesn’t the federal government certify the voting machines? No. The federal government has a loose set of technical guidelines for voting machines that are voluntary and may be actually harmful. The Federal Voting Systems Standards (FVSS) used by the three NASED’s approved Independent Test Authorities (ITA) to “certify” companies are outmoded guidelines and voluntary, and not all states have adopted them. According to industry observers, the FVSS guidelines allow one in ten machines to fail. There is no enforcement of these guidelines, such as they are.
- Who, then, certifies the nation’s voting machines? The FEC coordinates with the industry-funded National Association of State Election Directors (NASED), a private non-profit group, to have machines inspected certified by industry-funded private contractors. NASED selects and approves the testing laboratories. Only prototypes of the machines and software are available for a very superficial inspection. The inspection is conducted by three private companies who are not themselves subject to any regulation. Technical Issues & Standards “An unelected person named R. Doug Lewis runs a private non-profit organization called “The Election Center.”
Lewis is possibly the most powerful man in the U.S., influencing election procedures and voting systems, yet he is vague about his credentials and no one seems to be quite sure who hired him or how he came to oversee such vast electoral functions. Lewis organized the National Association of Secretaries of State (NASS, now heavily funded by voting machine vendors); he also organized the National Association of State Election Directors (NASED) and, through them, Lewis told (author Bev) Harris he helps certify the certifiers.” “Wyle Laboratories is the most talked-about voting machine certifier, probably because it is the biggest, but in fact, Wyle quit certifying voting machine software in 1996. It does test hardware: Can you drop it off a truck? Does it stand up to rain? Software testing and certification is done by scoop.co.nz. When Ciber quit certifying in 1996, it was taken over by Nichols Research, and was in charge of testing. Nichols Research stopped doing the testing, and it was taken over by PSInet, where did the testing. PSInet went under, and testing functions were taken over by Metamore, where did the testing. Metamore dumped it, and it was taken over by Ciber, where does the testing. Here is a photo of :”
WOULD YOU TRUST THIS MAN WITH YOUR VOTE?
meet Shawn Southworth
the industry guy who “certifies” America’s voting technology
17. But, wouldn’t it take a vast number of people to rig an election? Not with today’s technology. One programmer working at either ES&S or Diebold could write code that could manipulate votes across the country. If a voting machine has computer components, it can be rigged or accessed through the firmware, software, wireless, modem, telephone, and simple electricity. Main tabulating computers can be rigged in a similar fashion. Lever voting machine are also easily rigged, although it would be more labor intensive. Still, anyone with the keys to the county warehouse where the machines are stored could rig the machines. Labels can be switched, gears shaved, odometers preset, or printouts preprinted.
18. Can’t we detect vote fraud through exit polls? Exit polling is conducted by one organization that is hired by the major news networks and the Associated Press. Since they first started “projecting” election night winners in 1964, the major news networks have never provided any ‘hard’ evidence that they actually conducted any exit polls, at all. The late authors of the book, VoteScam: The Stealing of America, concluded that some of the major news networks, including the polling organization that they hire for election night reporting, have been complicit in vote fraud. see: exit polls
19. If someone wins by a large enough margin, isn’t that a sign that the election wasn’t rigged? No. It only stands to reason that if someone is going to rig an election, it will be done by a sufficient number of votes to avoid triggering a recount. Otherwise, this could happen: In August of 2002, in Clay county Kansas, Jerry Mayo lost a close race for county commissioner, garnering 48% of the vote, but a hand recount revealed May won by a landslide, earning 76% of the vote. http://www.ecotalk.org/BevHarrisBook2.pdf (page 45)
20. Aren’t you just a conspiracy theorist? No. In the words of Greg Palast, “I’m a conspiracy expert.” Election officials have outsourced and privatized a uniquely public function. Corporations have gained near total control over the process of voting. Corporations also control the process of reporting exit polls. Both processes are completely non-transparent.
by Lynn Landes for EcoTalk.org