Democracy Crisis – Election 2006: Will All Votes Count?Posted in General on July 13th, 2006
The One-Two Punch: Disenfranchise Voters & Miscount the Votes
A. Disenfranchisement: Suppress the Vote!
B. E-Voting Problems: Many Different Systems, Different States, Different Elections
C. What You Can Do
D. Voting Systems: Election integrity requires openness & transparency.
E. The Elephant in the Room
F. Common Cause Recommends
G. Online Videos & Interactive
I. The BEST Websites & Online Resources
Information in this section, except where noted, is from Greg Palastâ€™s â€œArmed Madhouse”Over 3 million votes were cast but never counted in the 2004 presidential election. Millions more were lost because voters were prevented from casting their ballots â€“ including those illegally denied registration or wrongly purged from the registries. The new black boxes played their roleâ€¦ but the principal means of the election heist â€“ voiding ballots, overwhelmingly of the poor and Black, Native Americans and Hispanics â€“ went unexposed, unreported and most importantly, uncorrected and ready to roll out on a grander scale in 2008. (All information on this page, except where noted, is from Greg Palastâ€™s â€œArmed Madhouseâ€).Provisional Ballots Rejected: About 1.1 million. Provisional ballots are given if there are problems with the voterâ€™s registration or ID, if there is an error in the voter rolls or if they are â€œchallengedâ€ by GOP. Provisional ballots should be counted unless there is evidence the voter was lying â€“ which is extremely rare.
Spoiled Ballots: About 1.4 million punch-card, optical scan, and e-vote ballots were cast but not counted. About Â¾â€™s of a million African-American votes were not counted, about Â¼ of a million Hispanic and Native American votes were not counted. Remaining 400,000+ uncounted votes belonged overwhelming to the poor.
In New Mexico the margin of victory for the Presidential race was 5,988 votes. E-voting machines in Kerry-leaning precincts failed to properly register a presidential vote on more than 20,000 ballots.
Absentee Ballots Rejected: Over half a million in 2004. In swing states, absentee ballot shredding was pandemic. (Florida conveniently labels the voterâ€™s party on the ballot envelope).
In Arapahoe County, Colorado, three times more absentee ballots mailed to Democrats â€œfailed to returnâ€ as compared to Republican ballots. Voters from Kerry precincts were 265% more likely to have their absentee ballots tossed out when they did arrive at the clerkâ€™s office.
Voters Barred from Voting: Incompetence and trickery that prevented people â€“ primarily racial minorities, low-income voters, and Democratic voters – from voting included: Destroying voter registrations * Failing to process registrations in a timely manner * Illegally re-registering Democrats as Republicans
* Illegal purges of voter rolls * GOP challenges to voter registrations via â€˜cagingâ€™ * Voter intimidation and misinformation campaigns * Forgot to mail absentee ballots in Florida, Ohio, and to nearly 3 million Americans living abroad * Phone-jamming Democratic candidate lines provided to help voters having problems on election day * Creating impossibly long lines at the polls as a result of GOP challenges to voters; too few functioning voting machines; changing polling station locations; merging polling stations to save money * GOP volunteers â€˜picked upâ€™ absentee ballots from Democratic voters.
In what may be the single most astounding fact from the election, 1 in every 4 Ohio citizens who registered to vote in 2004 showed up at the polls only to discover that they were not listed on the rolls. (Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., â€œDid Bush Steal the 2004 Election?â€ Rolling Stone)
Dozens and dozens of instances of electronic voting machine malfunctions & instances of malfeasance have occurred and are catalogued at VotersUnite.Org and VoteTrustUSA.org. Just a few are listed here:1. New Elections Needed after Electronic Voting Failures.A memory limitation on paperless Unilect Patriot voting machines caused 4,438 votes to be permanently lost in North Carolina (2004).1
AVS WINVote computers at some polling places failed to start up, others overheated and broke down during the election in Mississippi (2003).1
2. â€œPhantomâ€ Votes Added by Electronic Voting Machines.
After the 2004 General Election, phantom votes (more votes than voters) were reported in Florida, Nebraska, New Mexico, Ohio, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Washington. In North Carolina Microvote DREs showed nearly 3,000 more votes than voters; in New Mexico Sequoia AVC Edge DREs showed over 2,700 early voting phantom votes.1
Hart Intercivic machines in Tarrant County, Texas recorded an additional 100,000 votes that were never actually cast in 2006 Primary Election (Formal challenge to results has been filed).1
ES&S vote-tallying software counted to 32,767 and then counted backwards in November 2004 elections: 70,000 votes temporarily disappeared in Broward County, Florida; 8,400 votes in Orange County, Florida; and 22,000 votes in North Carolina.1
4. Votes Jump to the Opponent on the Screen
In the November 2004 hundreds of votes jumped from Bush to Kerry in New Mexico (Sequoia), Maryland (Diebold) and elsewhere. Some voters could correct the problem, some did not.1
5. DREâ€™s Present Incorrect Ballots to Voters
In March 2004, the US Senate contest in Maryland was omitted from ballots in three counties.1
6. Negative Votes Added to Tally
In Volusia County, Florida in 2000, Al Goreâ€™s count dropped by 16,022 votes, while an obscure Socialist candidate picked up 10,000 votes at 10:30 PM on election night. Global Election Systems explained that two memory cards had been uploaded; there should have only been one memory card uploaded; the second card caused the problem. (BlackBoxVoting.org).
7. DREs Pass Pre-Election Testing, Fail on Election Day
In Mercer County, Pennsylvania all 250 UniLect Patriot machines had been checked and rechecked. On election day some machines never operated, some offered only black screens.1
8. Programming Errors Give Votes to the Wrong Candidate (Vote Switching)
Ballot programming determines how a touch on a screen or marks on a ballot are translated into votes counted by the machine. In November 2000, 67,000 absentee and early-voting ballots were counted incorrectly by a Diebold optical scan machine in New Mexico. ES&S machines miscounted votes in North Carolina in 2004; in New Mexico in 2002; in Kansas in 2002.1
9. Voting Machines Present a Default Candidate (Electronic Version of a Pre-Marked Ballot).
Election officials in Travis County (Austin) Texas, set up Hart Intercivic eSlate DREs so that voters who voted straight party Democratic ticket and pressed â€˜enterâ€™ on the next screen â€“ caused their Kerry/Edwards vote to be changed to the default candidate -> Bush/Cheney.1
10. Voting Machines Do Not Count Some Votes
Voters claimed that machines failed to register votes for incumbent school-board member, Rita S. Thompson ( R ), who lost an election in Fairfax, Virginia by 1,662 votes. Election officials observed that one of the questionable machines appeared to subtract a vote from Thompson for about one out of every 100 attempts to vote for her.2
1. VotersUnite.Org: â€œFacts About Electronic Electionsâ€
PDF File: http://www.votersunite.org/info/Electron…
2. Common Cause: â€œElection Reform: Malfunction and Malfeasanceâ€
3. Watch videos and/or read more about election malfunction and malfeasance (& how to ensure free and fair elections) on the excellent websites & books listed at the end of this document. Educate your family and friends. Print out the best material and take it to your local political party, candidates, and progressive groups and activate them!
4. Check for organizations that may already be active in your area and join them! In Indiana: NAACP, People for the American Way, Common Cause, and League of Women Voters should all be working to enfranchise eligible voters and make sure all votes are counted.
5. Contact your local political party and local progressive organizations to educate and activate them!
6. Help register eligible citizens to vote and educate them about their rights & responsibilities.
7. Participate in elections as a poll-worker or poll-monitor.
8. Conduct exit polls or parallel elections.
9. Learn about election laws and policies in your county and state. Then collaborate with/challenge election supervisors in your county/state to ensure that voters are not disenfranchised, and to ensure that votes are cast and counted accurately.
10. BE PREPARED TO TAKE ACTION AFTER ELECTIONS. If our government truly derives its power from the consent of the governed, then we the people must not allow the results of tainted elections to stand. Elections are not about profit and loss; they are not about which party or candidate wins or loses; they are about the essence of democracy. There are lives in the balance.
VVPBs (Voter-Verified Paper Ballots) & MMRAs (Mandatory Manual Random Audits)!
Paper Ballots, Hand Counted: The gold standard for openness and transparency! A 2001 CalTech/MIT study concluded that hand-counted paper ballots have the lowest average incidence of spoiled, uncounted, and unmarked ballots. While this sounds like going back to the dark ages – it may be the most realistic option for November 2006 for all counties that have electronic voting machines without paper trails.
Precinct-Count Optical Scan Systems: Once voters mark their paper ballots, they insert them into the optical scanner at their precinct. Ballots that cannot be read are rejected and the voter gets a fresh ballot, virtually eliminating spoiled ballots. Votes are counted in the scannerâ€™s (computer) memory. Ballots are stored in an attached, locked metal box, available for automatic, random audits to check for programming and tallying accuracy and recounts.
Direct Recording Electronic (DRE) Voting Machines with VVPB: A voterâ€™s choice is captured both internally, in electronic form, and printed on a paper ballot. The ballot can be checked by the voter before being submitted. The paper ballots would count as the actual votes, taking precedence over any electronic counts and would be available for audits and recounts. (Warning: About 1/3 of voters do not check the printed ballots, assuming that they must be accurate. Not true!)
“Direct Recording Electronic” (DRE) Voting Machines without VVPB: The ballot appears on a display screen and votes are captured and stored electronically. An election without Voter-Verified Paper Ballots cannot be open and transparent. When election officials state that they are satisfied with the accuracy and reliability of DRE voting systems, they are able to do so only because there is virtually no way to detect errors or deliberate election-rigging without VVPBs.
Paul Weyrich, co-founder of the Heritage Foundation and the Free Congress Foundation was taped while speaking in private, at a church, to Republican activists: â€œHow many of our Christians have what I call the goo-goo syndrome? Good government! They want everybody to vote! I don’t want everybody to vote. Elections are not won by a majority of people, they never have been from the beginning of our country and they are not now. As a matter of fact, our leverage in the elections, quite candidly, goes up as voting populace goes down.â€ 2
Mr. Weyrich sounds different in an article entitled â€œEasy Voting Brings Low Participationâ€: “Former Presidents Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter have come up with a series of recommendations aimed at increasing participation in national elections. Among the proposals the former presidents have put forth are (a) to hold elections on a national holiday, such as Veterans Day; (b) to make convicted felons eligible to vote after they have served time; (c) to permit people who aren’t on the voter rolls on Election Day to vote, sorting out their eligibility in the days after the electionâ€¦. I am glad that Pres. Bushâ€™s reaction has been lukewarmâ€¦. The truth is simply this: The easier we have made it to vote, the lower the voter participation.â€ 3
Jeff Horwitz reports: â€œOne recent Sunday, at Morton Blackwell’s Leadership Institute, a dozen students meetâ€¦. All are earnest, idealistic and as right wing as you can get. They take careful notes as instructor Paul Gourley teaches them how to rig a campus mock election. “Can anyone tell me,” asks Gourley, “why you don’t want the polling place in the cafeteria?” Stephen, a shy antiabortion activist sitting toward the rear of the class, raises his hand: “Because you want to suppress the vote?” The students, strait-laced kids from good colleges, seem unconvinced. The lesson — that with sufficient organization, the act of voting becomes less a basic right than a tactical maneuver — doesn’t sit easy with some students at first. Gourley, a charismatic senior from South Dakota and the treasurer of the College Republican National Committee, assures them: “This is not anti-democracy. This is not shady. Just put somewhere where you might have to put a little bit of effort into voting.” The rest, Gourley explains, is just a matter of turnout. Yet Blackwell’s foundation, the Leadership Institute, is not a Republican organization. It’s a nonpartisan 501(c)(3) charityâ€¦ Despite its legally required “neutrality,” the institute is one of the best investments the conservative movement has ever made. Its walls are plastered with framed headshots of former students — hundreds of state and local legislators sprinkled with smiling members of the U.S. Congressâ€¦. Thirty-five years ago, Blackwell dispatched a particularly promising 17-year-old pupil named Karl Rove to run a youth campaignâ€¦ Over the last 25 years, more than 40,000 young conservatives have been trained at the institute â€ 4
Indiana Secretary of State Todd Rokita: â€œIt is difficult to say exactly why Americans are so apathetic about voting. Some suggest that the processes of registering and voting are too difficult or confusing. I disagree. In recent years, the acceptance of procedures such as early voting and voting by mail have made it even more accessible to Americans. But an increase in the promotion and use of these techniques has not been followed by an increase in voter turnout. Just the opposite is true.â€ 5
1. Read a condensation of Deliver the Vote: A History of Election Fraud, an American Political Tradition 1742-2004. http://www.bloomingtonwilpf.org/agenda.h…
2. Audio played on The Thom Hartmann Radio Show, syndicated by Air America Radio
3. Easy Voting Brings Low Participation – http://www.freecongress.org/commentaries…
4. My Right-Wing Degree – http://dir.salon.com/story/news/feature/…
5. IN SoS Press Release 9/5/04 – http://www.in.gov/sos/press/old/09052004…
Reduce Partisanship and Conflict of Interest in Election Administration.
Enforce Laws Prohibiting Voter Suppression/Intimidation: State and local governments need to make strong statements about protecting the rights of voters and to enforce existing laws and prosecute illegal activities. Establish transparent, fair, statewide standards for challenges, including penalties for partisan or otherwise frivolous challenges.
Voter Education: Voters should receive written information about their voting rights and location of their polling place prior to Election Day or any early voting period. New registrants should receive timely notification of their registration status after registering to vote. Correction of errors in registration should be allowed up to and including Election Day. Poll-workers should be trained thoroughly so that they provide accurate information to voters.
ID Requirements and the Voter Databases: The process of establishing and maintaining the databases must be open to the public. A voter cannot be purged from voting rolls unless there is direct communication from the voter, the registrar of another state, or from the courts. Voters should easily be able to confirm their presence on the voter rolls by phone or on the Internet.
Develop Uniform Statewide Provisional Ballots Standards: Every provisional ballot cast by an eligible voter should be counted and the HAVA-required notification system should be implemented.
Fix, Replace, Test and Maintain Voting Machines Ballot definition files are not independently tested prior to the election. Extensive pre-testing could reduce the possibility of malfunction or malfeasance.
TO ENSURE SECURE AND RELIABLE VOTING MACHINES, Common Cause recommends:
The US Congress should immediately pass HR550, â€œThe Voter Confidence and Increased Accessibility Act of 2005â€ and/or states should pass laws or adopt regulations that: (1) require all voting systems to produce a VVPB, (2) mandate that the VVPB is the ballot of record, (3) establish a requirement for mandatory manual audits in at least 2% of randomly-selected precincts, and (4) establish funding to implement VVPB voting systems. (5% to 10% precinct audits would be better!)
State election officials should, wherever possible: immediately retrofit DREs with printing systems to produce a VVPB, and use those ballots in audits â€“ OR – decertify DREs that cannot provide VVPB and turn to other voting systems such as optical scan machines for the November elections.
Election officials should take necessary steps to safeguard machines prior to Election Day.
Voters should be encouraged to vote on paper whenever possible. If facing the prospect of voting on paperless DREs in November, they should advocate for change with local election officials well before the election. If that does not work, where possible, voters should vote by absentee ballot / early voting.
Regardless of the voting equipment in a jurisdiction, citizens should VOTE. While there is a chance that a vote wonâ€™t be counted if cast on a paperless DRE, not voting at all will assure that it is not.
http://www.votergate.tvCNN’s Lou Dobbs’ coverage of e-voting
Catherine Crier – CourtTV
Defending Our Democracy I
Defending Our Democracy II
Mark Crispin Miller speaks at U. Mass.
ACLU Freedom Files: Voting Rights
ACLU Virtual Voting Booth
The Best Democracy Money Can Buy by Greg Palast
Steal This Vote: Dirty Elections and the Rotten History of Democracy in America by Andrew Gumbel
E-VOTING 2006: The Approaching Train Wreck * Excellent Reports: Mythbreakers: Facts About Electronic Elections * Voting system failures by vendor * Vote-Switching and Ballot Definition ProblemsVoteTrustUSA.org http://www.votetrustusa.org
Daily News * State-by-State News Archive * Election Integrity Weekly Newsletter * Poll Monitorsâ€™ and Poll Workersâ€™ Guide to E-Voting
Resolution on Electronic Voting * Election Administration Project: Best Practices for Reliable Election Systems. * Election Incident Reporting System (EIRS) * Election Protection Questionnaires: Local & State Election Officials, Pre-Election Testing
Common Cause http://www.commoncause.org
Excellent report: â€œElection Reform. Malfunction and Malfeasance â€“ A report on the electronic voting machine debacle.â€ Vote for America, a non-partisan voter education and mobilization program.
People for the American Way: Civic Participation http://www.pfaw.org
Election Protection Program offers: volunteer poll monitors; civil rights lawyers and advocates who expose and prevent voter intimidation; work with election officials to identify and solve problems with voting machines, technology and ballot forms.
League of Women Voters: Election Reform http://www.lwv.org
American Democracy at Risk: Agenda for Renewal and Repair includes recommendations for election reform and advocates nonpartisan redistricting, safeguarding civil liberties.
Brennan Center for Justice http://www.brennancenter.org
Excellent reports: â€œThe Machinery of Democracy: Protecting Elections in an Electronic Worldâ€ & â€œVerification Processes for Voter Registrationâ€
Voter Action http://www.voteraction.org
Provides strategic and legal support to ensure verifiable, accurate and transparent voting systems. Has supported lawsuits in Arizona, California, Colorado, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Pennsylvania.