Let me cut to the chase. The biggest robbery in the history of this country is taking place as you read this. Though no guns are being used, 300 million hostages are being taken. Make no mistake about it: After stealing a half trillion dollars to line the pockets of their war-profiteering backers for the past five years, after lining the pockets of their fellow oilmen to the tune of over a hundred billion dollars in just the last two years, Bush and his cronies — who must soon vacate the White House — are looting the U.S. Treasury of every dollar they can grab. They are swiping as much of the silverware as they can on their way out the door.
No matter what they say, no matter how many scare words they use, they are up to their old tricks of creating fear and confusion in order to make and keep themselves and the upper one percent filthy rich. Just read the first four paragraphs of the lead story in last Monday’s New York Times and you can see what the real deal is:
“Even as policy makers worked on details of a $700 billion bailout of the financial industry, Wall Street began looking for ways to profit from it.
“Financial firms were lobbying to have all manner of troubled investments covered, not just those related to mortgages.
“At the same time, investment firms were jockeying to oversee all the assets that Treasury plans to take off the books of financial institutions, a role that could earn them hundreds of millions of dollars a year in fees.
“Nobody wants to be left out of Treasury’s proposal to buy up bad assets of financial institutions.”
Unbelievable. Wall Street and its backers created this mess and now they are going to clean up like bandits. Even Rudy Giuliani is lobbying for his firm to be hired (and paid) to “consult” in the bailout.
The problem is, nobody truly knows what this “collapse” is all about. Even Treasury Secretary Paulson admitted he doesn’t know the exact amount that is needed (he just picked the $700 billion number out of his head!). The head of the congressional budget office said he can’t figure it out nor can he explain it to anyone. Read the rest of this entry »
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Title: To amend the Help America Vote Act of 2002 to require States to conduct Presidential elections using paper ballots and to count those ballots by hand, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Rep Kucinich, Dennis J. (introduced 9/27/2006) Cosponsors (19)
Latest Major Action: 9/27/2006 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the Committee on House Administration, and in addition to the Committee on Government Reform, for a period to be subsequently determined by the Speaker, in each case for consideration of such provisions as fall within the jurisdiction of the committee concerned.
Paper Ballot Act of 2006 (Introduced in House)
H. R. 6200
To amend the Help America Vote Act of 2002 to require States to conduct Presidential elections using paper ballots and to count those ballots by hand, and for other purposes.
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,
SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.
This Act may be cited as the `Paper Ballot Act of 2006′.
SEC. 2. REQUIRING USE OF HAND-COUNTED PAPER BALLOTS IN PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS.
Section 301(a) of the Help America Vote Act of 2002 (42 U.S.C. 15481(a)) is amended by adding at the end the following new paragraph:
`(7) SPECIAL RULES FOR PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS- Notwithstanding any other provision of this subsection, in the case of a regularly scheduled general election for the electors of President and Vice President (beginning with the election in November 2008), the following rules shall apply:
`(A) The State shall conduct the election using only paper ballots.
`(B) The State shall ensure that the number of ballots cast at a precinct or equivalent location which are placed inside a single box or similar container does not exceed 500.
`(C) The ballots cast at a precinct or equivalent location shall be counted by hand by election officials at the precinct, and a representative of each political party with a candidate on the ballot, as well as any interested member of the public, may observe the officials as they count the ballots. The previous sentence shall not apply with respect to provisional ballots cast under section 302(a).’.
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That headline was from a satirical column written by Andy Borowitz published last Monday, the day before Tuesday’s midterm elections. Unfortunately, given the post-election coverage by some of the nation’s leading media — or at least their headline writers — it seems that only an event such as a Diebold voting machine becoming “unmoored from the floor and…trampling everyone and everything in its path,” as Borowitz wrote, would qualify as anything more than a “glitch,” “hiccup,” “snag” or “snafu.”
“Voting System Worked, With Some Hiccups,” declared the AP headline on Wednesday. “Polling Places Report Snags, but Not Chaos,” echoed The New York Times. “Hiccups”? “Snags”? Try telling that to the thousands of voters around the country who were unable to simply cast a vote last Tuesday because new, untested electronic voting machines failed to work. Monumentally. Across the entire country.
“Not Chaos”? Apparently the Times headline writers failed to check with the folks in Denver who were lined up around the block for hours to vote. They didn’t even bother to read the Denver Post article headlining the problem as a “Voting Nightmare” during the day on Tuesday and quoting voter Lauren Brockman saying, “We will not get to vote today,” after he had shown up before work to vote at 6:45 a.m. at the Botanic Gardens only to wait on line for an hour before giving up.
They didn’t check with Bill Ritter, the Colorado gubernatorial candidate, who had to wait almost two hours to vote, or with Sean Kelley, a Denver resident, who said to the Post, “I can’t believe I’m in the United States of America,” before he gave up and went home without voting after waiting three hours in line when electronic machines broke down. Despite an emergency request, the courts in Colorado refused to allow the city’s new consolidated “Election Centers” to remain open for extra hours that night.
Similar problems led to slightly more responsible officials ordering polls to be kept open longer than scheduled in at least eight other states due to voting machine problems.
In a Times story published the day before (which apparently the headline writers of the previously mentioned piece failed to read), it was reported that in Illinois “hundreds of precincts were kept open … because of late openings at polling places related to machine problems” and in Indiana “voting equipment problems led to extensions of at least 30 minutes in three counties.”
Other states where polls remained open late due to the inability of legally registered voters to vote when they showed up earlier in the day include Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Ohio, Georgia, North Carolina, Indiana and Ohio.
But the list of problems and, yes, meltdowns is still pouring in from around the country. My in-box has been beyond readability since polls opened on Tuesday morning, and my ability to keep up had already been near the breaking point in the weeks prior just from similar reported disasters that occurred with these failing, flipping and flimsy machines during the early voting period in Florida, Arkansas, Missouri, Ohio, Tennessee, Virginia, Texas and California, just to name a few.
On Election Day, the Electronic Frontier Foundation had received about 17,000 complaints on its toll-free hot line by 8 p.m. Common Cause received 14,000 calls by 4 p.m. John Gideon at VotersUnite.org performed the herculean task of logging as many news reports as he could in a searchable online database of reported election problems that day.
The nation dodged a significant bullet when George Allen conceded in his Virginia Senate race Thursday. Had he not chosen to do so, America would have found itself smack-dab in the middle of another Florida 2000 crisis with the balance of Congress depending on voting machines that offer absolutely no way to recount ballots to achieve any form of accuracy or clarity in the race. The battle of the forensic computer scientists trying to figure out what happened would have been another long national nightmare.
But that didn’t happen, so everything’s cool. Right?
We dodged another bullet when Sen. Rick Santorum conceded. Earlier in the day, he and the Pennsylvania Republican Party sent a letter to the secretary of the commonwealth demanding that voting machines in 27 counties be impounded after they received reports of touch-screen votes flipping from the Republican candidate to his Democratic opponent.
Imagine, by the way, if Democrats had taken such a responsible position to impound machines every time votes were reported to have flipped from Democrat to Republican — certainly the more commonly reported occurrence on Tuesday. There wouldn’t be a voting machine left in the country. It’s a pity the Democrats haven’t figured that out. Yet.
They’re so delighted to have won anything they haven’t stopped to realize they might have taken 40 seats in the House instead of just 30 had they bothered to fight for an accountable, secure, transparent electoral system and instructed their candidates to concede nothing until every vote was counted, verified and audited for accuracy.
And still, the Times and AP headline writers — who seem to have failed to read the stories they were headlining, given that each outlined a litany of such meltdowns — believe there’s nothing to be concerned about.
18,000 votes seems to have vanished into thin air via ES&S iVotronic touch-screen machines (no paper “trails,” much less countable paper ballots ) in Sarasota County, site of Florida’s 13th U.S. Congressional District contest between Vern Buchanan and Christine Jennings. There’s currently a 368-vote difference between them, but there’s no paper to to examine to figure out what may have gone wrong and explain how a 13% undervote rate was found in only in that race.
On the very same ballot above that race, the gubernatorial contest had only a 2.6% undervote rate. A hospital board election below it had only a 1% undervote rate. On absentee ballots for the Jennings/Buchanan race, the undervote rate was just 1.8%. Some of the 120 complaints from touch-screen voters that came into the Herald Tribune on Tuesday are published on the newspaper’s site.
18,000 undervotes. In Florida. With no paper ballots to go back and check to see if all of those voters simply chose not to vote in that race for some inexplicable reason. Faith-based voting in a race that Florida election officials in the secretary of state’s office have said they have no plans to investigate.
Good thing the balance of the U.S. House doesn’t hang on that race. Or a presidential election. But why worry about something like that? After all, a mere 18,000 disappeared votes on an electronic voting machine in a single county in Florida could never affect the outcome of a national presidential race. (Again, for the sarcasm-impaired: Right.)
In San Diego, thousands of hackable Diebold voting machines were sent home for three weeks prior to the election with poll workers (most of them apparently high-school teenagers hired by the county’s registrar of voters, Mikel Haas) on “sleepovers.” As Princeton University demonstrated, a hotel mini-bar key and just 60 seconds of unsupervised time with a single machine is just about all a single person would need to steal votes from every machine in the county. Nobody would ever be able to prove it. Thus, there is no basis for confidence in any reported results from any election this year in San Diego County. 50th Congressional District candidate Francine Busby has, so far, appropriately refused to concede despite the wide margin being reported in her race from the tainted, effectively decertified voting machines Haas disgracefully used for the first time this year across the entire county.
In Orange County, Calif., voters were turned away without being able to vote at all when machines failed to work and there were not enough paper ballots for voters to cast their votes. Many reportedly opted to vote on Chinese and Vietnamese ballots when English emergency paper ballots had run out (in places where they even had paper ballots to chose from), just so they could exercise their franchise. Many voters were simply told to “come back later,” when poll workers hoped the machines would be working again.
It is not yet a felony in the United States of America to turn a legally registered voter away from the polls without allowing him to cast a vote. But it damned well should be.
Victoria Wulsin currently trails Jean Schmidt by less than half a percentage point in their Ohio 2nd Congressional District race for the U.S. House. Wulsin has also appropriately refused to concede until every vote is counted, accounted for and verified. But a recount will rely on both the same hackable Diebold AccuVote TSx touch-screen machines used in San Diego and the same ES&S optical scan machines that were found to have mistabulated at least nine Republican primary races in Pottawatomie County, Iowa, last June.
Ten other House races still remain “too close to call.” Many of them will rely on “results” reported by inaccurate, unreliable, untested electronic voting machines.
Fortunately, the balance of the House doesn’t rest on any of those races either, so all is well.
They agree that the election went “better than expected,” “relatively smoothly,” with “isolated problems,” “just a few glitches,” “minor issues,” “no major problems.”
So, with multi-hundreds of news reports of election problems across the country — a fraction of the problems that actually occurred — you have to wonder what a meltdown would have to look like.
What would it look like, indeed?
I guess before the voting machine company flunkies and Times and AP headline writers would notice, it would have to look like Borowitz’ “Diebold Rampage” scenario. Though even that would likely have a predictable ending…
The touch-screen terror then cut a swath of death and destruction across the state, despite attempts by the state police to apprehend it.
Florida Gov. Jeb Bush appeared on television later in the day to urge calm, telling residents, “Clearly, Florida’s electronic voting machines are still very much a work in progress.”
At the White House, spokesman Tony Snow did not directly address the issue of the voting machine’s deadly rampage, choosing instead to make general remarks about the electoral process.
“This administration remains steadfast in its support of free and fair elections,” he said, adding, “in Iraq.”
Submitted by BuzzFlash on Fri, 11/10/2006 – 1:28pm.Analysis
A BUZZFLASH NEWS ANALYSIS
The dust has settled and it is time to step back and look at voting irregularities across the nation. Unlike their counterparts, Democrats have long championed electoral reform, especially after the Florida debacle in 2000 that cost America its duly elected president. Now that Democrats have secured a decisive victory and control Congress without dispute, they should fight even more aggressively to improve elections since they can no longer be dismissed as merely sore losers.
We did not see a catastrophic meltdown last Tuesday as some feared, but there were clearly a plethora of serious problems. Many irregularities stemmed from faulty equipment. For example, about 18,000 touch-screen votes in one county were not recorded for the contest over Katherine Harris’ old House seat, which was decided by a razor-thin margin. Some New Jersey machines began pre-selected for a candidate and responded erratically when changed.
We also know that registration issues turned many people away. Rep. Steve Chabot (R-OH) and Gov. Mark Sanford (R-SC) were the two most infamous cases of such troubles, and even Chelsea Clinton was told that her name was not on the rolls. If these three high profile voters had problems, there were surely countless more whose stories are not being reported.
Additionally, there was also blatant voter intimidation. Virginians in Democratic areas were told over the phone they would be “charged criminally” if they showed up to vote, while other voters were subjected to far worse:
“In Arizona, Roy Warden — an anti-immigration activist with the Minutemen — and a handful of supporters staked out a precinct in the city of South Tucson and questioned Latino voters as they entered the polls to determine if they spoke English.
“Armed with a 9mm Glock automatic strapped to his side, Warden said he planned to photograph as many Latino voters entering polls at as many as 20 precincts in an effort to identify illegal immigrants and felons.”
A quick browse around the internet or a recollection of Tuesday afternoon news reports reveal many other significant issues, such as voters waiting several hours in line. It will be easy for the new Democratic Congress to forget about all of this since they won, but there is still substantial urgency. Given the amount of time it takes elections officials to act, it is not too soon to start thinking about 2008, when the White House will be at stake and the hacks at Diebold will have even more reason and opportunity to rig the outcome.
There is simply no institution in a democracy more vital than the election process. As we saw this week, the people can stand up against a corrupt government and instigate solutions to nearly any problem. With such a long way to go before truly free and fair elections, Democrats should not mistake the 2006 midterms as a reason to cease electoral reform but rather an opportunity to finally begin it effectively.
It’s a tricky issue to bring up the possibility of voter fraud in 2006 because most election protection activists are liberals who have waited six years for the Bush administration to be stopped.
Don’t confuse a good political outcome with a bad electoral process.
Election integrity activists face a quandary this week. After an Election Day where new voting machines failed from coast to coast, and GOP-favoring voter suppression tactics unfolded in state after state, this largely liberal-leaning community knows all too well that the machinery used to slam the breaks on the dreadful Bush administration is deeply flawed, that Tuesday night’s vote counts shouldn’t fully be trusted.
But will they say so? Will they stand with, gag, the apparently dethroned Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., and demand the electronic machines in 27 counties be impounded and examined for vote-count problems? That could reveal, once and for all, why new electronic machines need to be junked. Or will political victory throw a wet blanket on a fired-up election integrity movement?
Election integrity activists were true model citizens on Tuesday. As people turned out in droves to vote, activists helped citizens in state after state document failing voting systems. They noted voting system breakdowns that went beyond the nasty partisan mailings, robo-calls, registration challenges and other tactics that largely were GOP ploys to suppress Democratic turnout.
The 866-OUR-VOTE hotline, created by People for the American Way, the Electronic Frontier Foundation and others, logged thousands of complaints about misbehaving machines, in addition to poll worker confusion. Indeed, thanks to the spunk of videographers and YouTube, Americans could watch elected officials — including members of Congress — seeing their ballots rejected by optical scan voting machines.
Election integrity issues are no longer conspiracy theory. Too much of Middle America saw just how real voting problems have become. This raises a thorny question: How can new electronic voting systems, used by one-third of the electorate for the first time, fail so miserably during the voting phase of the day but be trusted during vote counting on election night, especially when there is no paper trail to audit results?
That question — of which races are affected and which electronic tallies can be trusted — is very hard to answer and won’t be known for days, if at all. Unless candidates challenge results and demand machines be impounded and examined, the new electronic voting systems may be packed up until the next problem-plagued election. But even that happens — and it shouldn’t — there was so much else that went wrong on Tuesday that must be addressed.
As coauthor of the recently released book “What Happened in Ohio: A Documentary Record of Theft and Fraud in the 2004 Election” (The New Press), it was striking to see that much of what unfolded on Tuesday across the county had direct precedents in the election that gave George W. Bush a second term. The same voter suppression tactics and voting machine problems that occurred in Ohio in 2004 plagued state after state on Tuesday, despite efforts by the election protection movement to bring them to the nation’s attention.
The story of Ohio in 2004 broke down into two main categories: massive voter suppression and widespread vote count problems, some of which we believe produced fraudulent results. As in 2004, the midterm elections experienced: voter purges (this time done with new electronic poll books), voter intimidation (this time letters threatening jail if voters showed the wrong I.D.), long lines causing people to leave and not vote (because machines didn’t start up or were pulled from use, and/or delays due to voters not being on precinct lists), the high use of provisional ballots (which were not counted Tuesday and many of which will be disqualified for technicalities), vote hopping (where one candidate is picked but the machine records a vote for his/her opponent). All of these trends happened in multiple states, according to the 2006 election incident reports.
What voters experienced on Tuesday was not conspiracy theory. But the voter suppression and early signs of vote count problems aren’t the full Election Day story. The rest of the story is the electronic vote count, which is still hidden and not verifiable. Voting integrity experts, such as Warren Stewart from VoteTrustUSA.org, said on Tuesday night that too many congressional results were simply not verifiable — even if Democrats were reportedly winning.
This is not to say that Democrats didn’t turn out in droves, didn’t tell exit pollsters that a majority of Americans wanted Republicans removed from power, and didn’t win big. But do we really know how votes were and weren’t counted on Tuesday night? No. Can we say the systems that failed so miserably in the day performed flawlessly on Tuesday night? No. Is this a difficult question to ask because most election protection activists are liberals — and have been waiting for six years for the Bush administration to be stopped? Yes.
But doesn’t America deserve a voting system that can be trusted no matter who is in power?
(Catch Greg Palast on Election Night on the new Mike Malloy Show on www.kphx.com )
Hereâ€™s how the 2006 mid-term election was stolen.
Note the past tense. And Iâ€™m not kidding.
Theft #1: Registrations gone with the wind…
Theft #2: Turned Away – the ID game…
Theft #3: Votes Spoiled Rotten…
So Letâ€™s Add it Up
Two million legitimate voters will be turned away because of wrongly rejected or purged registrations.
Add another one million voters challenged and turned away for â€œimproper ID.â€
Then add yet another million for Democratic votes â€œspoiledâ€ by busted black boxes and by bad ballots.
And letâ€™s not forget to include the one million â€œprovisionalâ€ ballots which will never get counted. Based on the experience of 2004, we know that, overwhelmingly, minority voters are the ones shunted to these baloney ballots.
And thereâ€™s one more group of votes that wonâ€™t be counted: absentee ballots challenged and discarded. Elections Assistance Agency data tell us a half million of these absentee votes will go down the drain.
Driving this massive suppression of the vote are sophisticated challenge operations. And here I must note that the Democrats have no national challenge campaign. Thatâ€™s morally laudable; electorally suicidal.
Add it all up â€” all those Democratic-leaning votes rejected, barred and spoiled â€” and the Republican Party begins Election Day with a 4.5 million-vote thumb on the vote-tally scale.
GO TO YOUR POLLING PLACE TO MAKE SURE IT OPENS ON TIME! Call 866-OUR-VOTE if it doesn’t!
GO TO YOUR POLLING PLACE TO MAKE SURE THE LAST VOTER IN LINE WHEN THE POLLS CLOSE GETS TO CAST A BALLOT!
If your state requires ID to vote, check the state BoE website or your Dem state party for valid ID requirements and look for the VOTER BILL OF RIGHTS! Print some up and take them with you to share with voters!
FILM OR TAKE STILL PICS OF ANY PROBLEMS and PHONE THEM IN 866-OUR-VOTE!
OVERWHELM THE SYSTEM WITH DEM VOTES!
Each and every one of us should be at a polling place on Tuesday.
(FYI, be completely NON-PARTISAN while representing ep365 and talking to voters. Leave your opinions at the car door, take off those buttons, pins and lapel stickers and HELP VOTERS get to cast a legal REGULAR ballot!)
It’s going to be up to us to make the case. We can’t solve a problem if we refuse to look. Citizens are fed up with black box elections, and are mustering up evidence of improper behavior that will swing the pendulum back in the direction it belongs.
Examples of the astonishing evidence uncovered by candidates and extraordinary citizens follows.
At first, we proved that the machines “theoretically’ could be tampered with. Then, in experiments in Leon County and Emery County, citizen-led investigations machines could ACTUALLY be tampered with.
At first, public records requests from Black Box Voting and others proved that election results were not authenticatable using available audit records. And now, Black Box Voting and citizens are coming up with audit records that show strong indications of improper behavior.
Be aware that we are not going to see a Perry Mason moment. Proof of corruption will be incremental, but it will come.
In 2006, your job will be to embark on the biggest citizen evidence-gathering expedition in history, to take this past the tipping point and achieve real change. Nothing will do but a reversal of the pendulum, back to citizen ownership and oversight of our own government and its electoral processes.
Let’s take a look now at some of the evidence citizens — and Black Box Voting — are uncovering:
1. Memphis: Candidates in Memphis asked Black Box Voting for help securing public records from the Aug. 3, 2006 election. Black Box Voting recommended getting a copy of the Diebold GEMS database, along with the Windows event log. What we found shocked us: The sheer number of legal and security violations in the event log were horrifying, and it also showed that Shelby County — or someone — was accessing the file during the middle of a Temporary Restraining Order prohibiting this.
– A remote access program called PC Anywhere was found resident in the system
– Evidence of insertion of an encrypted Lexar Jump Drive was present
– Evidence of attempts to alter or write HTML files (used to report results) was present
– Apparently without a firewall, the GEMS system was opened up to the County Network
– A prohibited program, Microsoft Access, which makes editing the election chimpanzee-easy, was installed on the system AND USED shortly after the election.
2. Alaska: In early 2006, the Alaska Democratic Party asked Black Box Voting for help. The election numbers simply didn’t add up. BBV’s Jim March urged them to fight for the right to obtain the Diebold GEMS database, which Diebold had until then been asserting proprietary rights over. After months of hard-fought battling, they prevailed. That database was released publicly at Black Box Voting here: http://www.bbvforums.org/forums/messages/2197/44183.html
You can open it yourself in Microsoft Access, and when you do, choose the table called “audit.” In this table you will see evidence that someone was changing things as recently as July 2006 — after the matter was in court, before the file was released. The changes are substantial, and involve redefining ballot and candidate items, along with a reference to a second memory card.
3. In Georgia, Cynthia McKinney contacted Black Box Voting. Very odd things were happening in the 2006 primary and the runoff election that followed — Democrats were being served up Republican primary ballots on the Diebold touch-screens, McKinney’s name was left off some ballots, but reportedly appeared on other ballots nowhere near her district. The electronic poll books — something Georgia voters never asked for and a whole new source of glitches — were malfunctioning regularly.
Black Box Voting advised McKinney to seek the troubleshooter and pollworker logs. What we found on these shocked us — in an election reported as “smooth” by the press, was evidence of dozens and dozens of voting machine malfunctions, electronic pollbook glitches, and most disturbing of all (given the dire consequences available based on the Hursti and Princeton studies), the seals for dozens of voting machines were missing, broken, and mismatched — yet the machines were used anyway.
4. In Ohio, Richard Hayes Phillips examined ballots from the 2004 presidential election. They’d been kept locked up for 22 months, and he was under immense pressure to look at as many as he could before they were destroyed. What he found shocked him: Patterns of tampering, as evidenced by statistically impossible overvotes, strategically placed and favoring George W. Bush. He listed his findings here: http://www.bbvforums.org/forums/messages/2197/44285.html
This is the tip of the iceberg. The missing ingredient is, and has been, the active oversight of the citizenry. In 2006, please join the movement as an active participant in overseeing and authenticating your election. We’ll help. Start here:
Here’s the Bill Calling for Emergency Paper Ballots at Every Polling Place in America this November!
THE LET AMERICA VOTE ACT – Legislative Language
Yesterday I called on Congress to pass an emergency measure to require Emergency Paper Ballots be made available at the polls during this November’s general election. I spelled out several reasons for this last-ditch, “Hail Mary” attempt to try and mitigate just some of the myriad problems and disenfranchisment that will occur at polling places this year thanks to new, poorly designed, malfunctioning, unsecure electronic voting machines now deployed across the nation.
Never mind the electronic voting machine fraud that is likely to occur. Never mind the proven inaccuracies of these god-awful machines. Never mind the ease at which they are now proven to be hackable. My concern right now â€” this late in the game â€” is simply to assure that voters who show up at the polls and are legally registered to vote, may actually be able to cast a vote at all!
In primary after primary this year, voters have been told to “come back later” or, at best, given a provisional ballot (which may or may not ever be counted) when voting machines either failed to work or, frequently, weren’t even present by the time voters showed up to vote. That is voter disenfranchisement, pure and simple, and it affects voters of any and all political stripes.
Common sense (one would think) would dictate that State and County Election Directors would mandate Emergency Paper Ballots for voters to use in the event of machine unavailability. Though the Secretaries of State in several states so far this year (Texas, Arkansas, etc.) have issued emergency orders for such Emergency Paper Ballots, remarkably, many states and counties didn’t bother and thousands of legally registered voting citizens were sent home in the bargain.
The legislation required by Congress to mandate Emergency Paper Ballots (I call it the “LET AMERICA VOTE ACT”) is incredibly simple. In yesterday’s article, I included a three-sentence piece of legislation. Below, is a more fully-formed draft legislation based on those three sentences as sent to me orginally by Bob Wilson of the Illinois Ballot Integrity Project.
Along with additional tweaks by myself and a few others, my complete suggested legislation can be read â€” in it’s entirety â€” in about 30 seconds. It’s posted in full below.
If Congress cares (and if you help them to do so!), I’m quite certain that this measure can be passed by both houses of Congress and signed by George W. Bush with Terri Schiavo-like speed.
I’d think our democracy is worth at least as much. And I know it’s certainly worth trying for!
Some have responded to my call for this LAVA legislation (“Let democracy flow!”) by pointing out that the method of counting and/or auditing these Emergency Paper Ballots must be included in the legislation. My answer to them is that I agree with their point! However, at this late in the game (with only some 5 or 6 legislative days left before Congress recesses prior to the election) I don’t want to give any Congress member any reason to oppose this act!
In other words, with the time we have left, if all we can do is assure that at least there will be a piece of paper on which a registered voter may cast a vote this November â€” if they bother to show up â€” then we will be doing a service to democracy. It’s an incredible fact, but even something as simple has that has not been the case in many places this year. Last week’s Maryland primary, were thousands were forced to go without voting at all when the machines failed to work, was a prime example!
Some have said there is no time to get this bill passed. I don’t care. Let’s get it passed anyway. If it fails, at least we will have a “paper trail” to point back to on November 8th when everyone else is wondering what went wrong and if anybody had tried to do anything about it while there was still time. Those of us who give a damn will have done everything we could.
I continue to speak to folks in Congress about sponsorship of this bill, and I urge all American citizens to contact their Congress Members â€” as well as their state and local officials â€” to demand that non-provisional Emergency Paper Ballots be made available at the polls this year!
Let’s get to work! This effort is about all we have left legislatively at this point! Please spread the word everywhere. My complete suggested language for the LET AMERICA VOTE ACT is posted belowâ€¦
LET AMERICA VOTE ACT
(EMERGENCY PAPER BALLOT MANDATE OF 2006)
WHEREAS significant failures of electronic voting machines have occurred in various jurisdictions during primary elections held in Illinois, Texas, Georgia, Maryland and other states during 2006, and
WHEREAS such failures have forced legitimate, registered voters to have been turned away from the polls by the thousands so far in 2006 primary elections simply because neither voting machines nor paper ballots were available for use when the voters arrived at their polling place, and
WHEREAS the probability exists that such failures will continue and the adverse results of such failures will be multiplied and increased in magnitude by the additional number of voters participating in the November 7, 2006 General Election, and
WHEREAS the potential exists for massive disenfranchisement of American voters in the November 7, 2006 General Election, by such failures of electronic voting machines,
NOW THEREFORE be it enacted that:
A. For the November 7, 2006, General Election, each election jurisdiction shall be required to prepare and print Emergency Paper Ballots of the proper ballot style for all races and propositions which shall be contested in that jurisdiction.
B. Such Emergency Paper Ballots shall be printed in sufficient quantity to guarantee that every voter who may require one, either as requested or as a result of voting machine unavailability, shall be able to receive such an Emergency Paper Ballot.
C. As with all provisional ballots, such Emergency Paper Ballots shall be printed in all languages specified for ballots in that jurisdiction.
D. Any voter eligible to vote in the jurisdiction in which he or she requests an Emergency Paper Ballot shall be entitled to receive and cast such Emergency Paper Ballot, regardless of the type of ballot that shall have been specifiied in that jurisdiction through operation of law, without further qualification, request, proof or furnishing of reason for such request.
E. Such Emergency Paper Ballots shall be official ballots for purposes of casting, tabulating, audits, redundant counts and recounts, and shall not be considered provisional ballots.
F. Emergency Paper Ballots shall be cast and tabulated in the same manner as all other ballots cast on November 7, 2006.
G. The associated costs to states for this mandate will be reimbursed out of Help America Vote Act funding.
H. This Act shall terminate and cease to have effect on February 28, 2007.
“...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:
(VIDEO CLIP)“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:
CincinnatiBell security supervisors ordered wire-taps installed on county computers before elections in the late 1970s and early 1980s that could have allowed vote totals to be altered, a former Bell employee says in a sworn court document. Leonard Gates, a 23-year CincinnatiBell employee until he was fired in 1986, claims in a deposition filed Thursday in Hamilton County Common Pleas Court to have installed the wire-taps. (1989) Pandora’s Black Box & http://www.votefraud.org/expert_strunk_report.htm (contains case number)
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 ShawnSouthworth. When Ciber quit certifying in 1996, it was taken over by Nichols Research, and Southworth was in charge of testing. Nichols Research stopped doing the testing, and it was taken over by PSInet, where Southworth did the testing. PSInet went under, and testing functions were taken over by Metamore, where Southworth did the testing. Metamore dumped it, and it was taken over by Ciber, where Southworth does the testing. Here is a photo of ShawnSouthworth:” scoop.co.nz
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.