Who Do You Trust?
Who, baby, who do you trust? When you vote on an electronic voting
machine, do you trust your vote counts? When your ballot is tabulated
with an electronic vote counting machine, do you trust your vote
Who do you trust? Do you trust the people that own the voting machines
companies, do you trust the people that run them, do you trust the
people that program them, do you trust them when billions or trillions
of dollars hang on the outcome?
Why should I?
Like Joseph Stalin said: "Those who cast the votes decide
nothing, those who count the votes decide everything."
How about you? Do you trust them? If you do let me tell you some
reasons why you shouldn't.
In 2002 in Comal County in Central Texas 3 Republican candidates
each won with exactly 18,181 votes. What do you think the odds are
for that? Would you trust a lottery that hit the same numbers 3
weeks in a row? It gets worse. Two more Republicans in nearby states
also won with exactly 18,181 votes. All five on the same type of
ES&S voting machines.
Convert the numbers to the alphabet: 18181 18181 18181 ahaha ahaha
ahaha - were they laughing at us? The voting machine company Diebold
also uses a voting software called GEMS version 1.81.81. More laughter?
Since brothers Bob and Todd Urosevich, founded ES&S and then
Bob then went to run Diebold, perhaps both companies share a sense
of humor. Diebold and ES&S, together, count about 80 percent
of the votes in the United States.
You remember Florida in 2000? Remember how Gore conceded for a
minute? Did you know that the computerized voting machines in just
one Florida county gave Gore a NEGATIVE 16,000 votes and mistakenly
added 4,000 votes to Bush's totals thus giving Bush an extra 20,000
fake votes. That was why CBS called the election for Bush and was
one of the reasons Gore thought he'd lost. http://www.freepress.org/columns/display/3/2004/834
In Abilene, Texas the poll workers became suspicious of a lopsided
vote that gave a landslide victory to a Republican, When it was
checked they found the Democrat actually won by a large margin.
(How many places is it never checked?) The voting machine company
blamed a supposedly defective chip. When I have a defective chip
my computer just stops working instead of giving me fake results.
Patriot Bev Harris points out in her book Black Box Voting
that elections officials seem willing to believe anything as long
as it sounds high tech. Black Box Voting can be downloaded
or bought here.
Did you know computer security experts tested Diebold voting machines
and programs in Maryland and showed they could easily "reprogram
the access cards used by voters and vote multiple times," that
they could attach a keyboard to a voting terminal and change the
vote count on that terminal. They could even use a modem to call
in from somewhere else and change the votes. (http://why-war.com/news/2004/01/31/howtohac.html)
Despite that Maryland bought Diebold voting machines. (A theory
about why later.)
Did you know Diebold CEO Wally O'Dell sent out a fund raising letter
for George Bush expressing his commitment "to helping Ohio
deliver its electoral votes to the president." Seems to me
that O'Dell is in a perfect position to assure that Bush does just
Did you know that the people that own and run the voting machine
companies include foreigners, felons, ex-CIA officials and Republican
Party operatives? (http://www.talion.com/election-machines.html)
Did you know the largest voting machine company, ES&S, was established
with funding from the extreme right wing Ahamason family and investments
from the Rothschilds, that there are Cheney and Bush and CIA links
as well. Turns out there are no laws about who can own voting machine
companies or program voting machines. Mafia or plutocracy or enemies
of the US. No laws. Osama Bin Laden could own a voting machine company.
Saddam could program for them. No laws to stop them.
Let me tell you about the people who write the programs for these
machines. Most Diebold programming is done in Canada by programmers
who are Russians, British and Canadian. Fixing an American election
wouldn't even be treason for them because they aren't Americans.
The programmers even include felons, like the Diebold programmer
in charge of nationwide programming till 2002 who was previously
convicted of 23 counts of embezzlement. (http://www.blackboxvoting.org/)
Embezzle some money. Fix elections. What's the difference?
Did you know that Johns Hopkins professer Avril Rubin and two graduate
students spent the summer of 2003 unraveling Diebold software and
discovered it made fixing an election easy? Memos liberated from
Diebold discussed how little security voting machine programs have
and how to get around even the limited certification requirement.
Let me tell you about Senator Chuck Hagel. As a relative unknown
he won a huge upset victory in Nebraska using ES&S voting machines.
He was the first Republican to be elected to statewide office in
24 years. Hagel even carried black precincts that had NEVER before
voted Republican. Turns out he had been the CEO of ES&S and
still owned a big piece of the company and had concealed his ties.
ES&S was and is the only company certified to sell voting technology
in Nebraska. Hagel won this upset election with ES&S machines
programmed while he was still its CEO.
When Hagel won what Business Week described as a "landslide
upset," reporters might have written about the strange business
of an upstart senator who ran his own voting machine company.
They didn't because they didn't know about it: On Hagel's required
personal disclosure documents, he omitted AIS. When asked to describe
every position he had held, paid or unpaid, he mentioned his work
as a banker and even listed his volunteer positions with the Mid-Americachapter
of the American Red Cross. What he never disclosed was his salary
from or stock holdings in the voting machine company whose machines
had counted his votes. http://www.blackboxvoting.org/bbv_chapter-3.pdf
Why would election officials ever buy machines from these companies?
Bev Harris notes : "According to one of our sources, who made
sales presentations for a voting-machine vendor
it is all too
common for county buyers to hint at gifts ("That's a nice laptop
...") and, sometimes, place an empty envelope on the desk hoping
it will be filled."
In 2002 a Business Records Corporation (BRC) executive, Tom Eschberger,
was given immunity from prosecution in return for cooperating in
an investigation of former Arkansas secretary of state Bill McCuen.
McCuen later pled guilty to taking bribes and kickbacks in a voting-machine
scandal which partially involved BRC. In the meantime BRC was merged
with the ES&S, the largest voting machine company, and Eschberger
was made Vice-President.
I guess he was just
.qualified for the job.
Sequoia, the third largest voting machine company, is largely owned
by the British firm De La Rue. De La Rue is owned by the corporation
Madison Dearborn which is a partner of the Carlyle Group, the investment
firm and arms merchant that until recently employed former president
George Herbert Walker Bush and has major investments from the Bin
Laden family. Sequoia executives Phil Foster and Pasquale Ricci
were convicted in 1999 of paying Louisiana commissioner of elections
Jerry Fowler an $8 million bribe to buy their voting machines and
were involved in a massive election scandal in Louisiana involving
connections with organized crime. http://www.wsws.org/articles/2003/dec2003/vote-d24.shtml
As long ago as a New York Times article from 1985 (Computerized
Systems for Voting Seen as Vulnerable to Tampering ) "Eva
Waskell, a Reston, Va., writer on computer and scientific matters
she was astonished because it appeared that "even when local
officials learned of the problems, little apparent effort was made
to correct them." "
Maybe there was no effort to correct the problems because election
officials were on the take. Bribes. Kickbacks. I guess if you pay
some people a lot, or even a little, they will sell out.
A contract techie who worked for Diebold in the very suspicious
Georgia election in 2002 said that "Diebold
had to pay
all kinds of extra expenses. The rumor around the office was that
Diebold lost maybe $10 million on the Georgia thing." Still,
$10 million to get Max Cleland out of office thus giving the Republicans
control of the Senate and allowing them to pass trillions in tax
cuts for the rich, even at $10 million that was cheap at the price.
Have you noticed the huge swings between the polls and the votes
in many elections. We even saw that in New Hampshire in 2004. The
day before the election Dean and Kerry were neck and neck. Then
Kerry won by 14%. How much Kerry won by correlated with how the
votes were counted. According to Martin Bento Kerry won by 14.7%
in areas with Diebold counting, 7.7% with ES&S counting, and
1.4% with hand counts. http://livejournal.com/users/explodedview
Talk about "things that make you go hmmmmm."
I read about these voting machine companies then I think about
my home state of Tennessee. On election day I vote on what has been
described as "the notoriously fixable" Shouptronic 1242
(now called the Electronic 1242). In early voting I run a card through
the Global AccuVote (Made by Diebold). I don't trust them. In 2000
these machines would have made it possible to fix the presidential
election, made it easy to make sure Gore didn't carry his own state.
I've looked at the precinct by precinct counts for Memphis in 2000.
Many precincts went 95-100% for Gore. That was credible for a lot
of black precincts. But a lot of precincts showed up to 75% for
Bush. White precincts. That isn't credible. If Gore's plurality
in black precincts had been cut everyone would have known it was
fixed but cutting his votes in white precincts, that they could
have gotten away with. It would have been easy to skew the vote
enough to make sure that Bush took Tennessse. Easy if you controlled
the programming of the voting machines.
But in the end what does all of this mean? Why should you believe
me? Suppose I showed you the computer code in the voting machines.
That's generally not possible because it's illegal for anyone to
look at it, even the election commissions who buy the machines and
pay for the software. But if you were able to examine the programming
what would you learn? Do YOU understand COMPUTER CODE? I don't.
Do you have four years of training in computer programming plus
years more of experience? Even if you had access to the voting software
and understand code, do you have months to analyze it like Avril
Ruben and his graduate students? Do you KNOW what is going on inside
these companies, whose interests the owners, foreign and domestic,
superrich and extreme right wing, whose interests they serve? You
could take their word that everything is all right. If you trust
them. In the end that is what it all comes down to: "TRUST."
Do you trust ANYONE to count the votes in hidden and secret ways?
I don't. If history has taught us anything it is that there is
a long history of voter fraud by both parties (though the Republican
history is a bit longer and darker - Origins
of American Vote Fraud) and that we shouldn't trust anyone.
I just don't trust the voting machines and I don't see why I should
have to. There's a saying about how "Caesar's wife must be
above suspicion." I think vote counting should be like that.
You shouldn't have to trust them to be honest. Voting and vote counting
should be so clear, so transparent, that they can't be dishonest
without being caught. When you read that a vice president of ES&S
was involved in an investigation of brides and kickbacks for electronic
voting machines, doesn't that make you suspicious. When I see all
the contributions to the Republicans by voting machine company executives,
I get suspicious. When you learn that a single firm writes 80% of
the programs used to count the vote, don't you get suspicious? http://www.scoop.co.nz/mason/stories/HL0211/S00081.htm
When anyone reads about all the ways a computerized voting machine
can be rigged to fix an election, anyone should get suspicious.
When we read about how many elections using these machines seem
fixed, shouldn't we all get suspicious. http://www.blackboxvoting.org/bbv_chapter-2.pdf
I was talking online to someone from New Zealand who told me he
voted on a paper ballot which he then folded and placed inside a
clear plastic ballot box where it would stay, visible to everyone,
until voting ended and the ballots were taken out in front of scrutineers
(what they call poll watchers) and openly counted, not by machines,
but by human beings watched by other human beings. Nothing secret.
Nothing hidden. All in the open with people watching. I also noticed
when they voted in Spain they had the same thing. Paper ballots
and clear plastic ballot boxes.
Someone else told me how when they voted the ballots were counted
manually and the tally placed on the precinct door so the people
in the neighborhood could look at it and tell, just from knowing
their neighbors, if the results were credible. In some places they
count the ballots in the town square so everyone who wants can watch.
Why should I have to trust the people who own and program these
machines? Because hand counting would take too long? Canada votes
by paper ballot and the ballots are counted by hand. They count
the whole country in 4 hours. What is the fucking hurry to have
the results as soon as the polls close? Let's go back to something
we can trust: Paper ballots, counted by hand, in public.
How would I like to see us vote?
We should have small precincts, less than 500 voters, easy to count.
We should vote on paper ballots, marked in ink. After we mark our
ballots we should fold them and put them in a sealed clear plastic
box where they can be continually watched until they are counted.
Ballots spoiled by the voter should be replaced with a new ballot
and the old one torn in half and retained.
Each precinct should have poll watchers from each party plus 2
citizen watchers, randomly chosen by lottery and paid, say $200
for the day, to watch the watchers and the counters and the voters.
Anyone else who can fit in the room should be allowed to watch from
a distance - just far enough away that they can't touch the ballots.
After the voting ends the ballots should be manually counted at
each precinct with the poll watchers and the citizen watchers observing
the count. The count should also be video taped. You know how some
day cares and some schools now have web cams that allow you to check
on your kids through the day? The vote counting at each precinct
should be on at least two web cams linked to the internet so anyone
who wants can watch the counting and record anything suspicious.
Once the count is complete the ballots should be returned to the
plastic ballot box which should be sealed with some kind of metal
seal that can't be opened but only cut. The results should be posted
on the precinct door as well as on the internet so people in each
precinct can kinda tell if it was honest just from knowing their
The ballots should then be taken to the election commission and
a second count of each precinct done by machine. If there is a discrepancy
the ballots should be counted again by hand. Any serious discrepancy
would HAVE to be investigated. Vote fixing or ballot tampering should
be one of the most serious felonies. If there was a discrepancy
that couldn't be explained and resolved then a new election should
be scheduled within days. Let's not be like Alabama
where the vote magically changed after the gubernatorial election
in 2002 and not only was it was never explained but was allowed
It's all about trust. As Bev Harris wrote:
Trust is the element that keeps us from taking to the streets
every time we disagree with something our government does. As
long as we feel our representatives are deciding most things,
and the very important things, the way we would ask them to, we
are content. If we elected them in an election that all agreed
was fair, but they make an egregious choice, one that many of
us feel we cannot live with, our governmental system sanctions
our protest. We reserve such behavior for unusual circumstances,
knowing that when the next election rolls around, we can always
vote them out. Perceived lack of integrity in the voting system
is guaranteed to produce shouts of indignation, but because most
elections are perceived to be fair, we can still show some patience
with the situation. If, however, we come to perceive that most
elections cannot be trusted, we've got a huge problem. Suddenly,
these people don't have our permission to do anything. Why should
we follow laws that they passed if we don't believe they were
fairly elected? Why should we accept anything they do? Why should
we follow the law if they didn't? Why should we cooperate with
our government at all? http://www.blackboxvoting.org/bbv_chapter-7.pdf
Why indeed. If we can't trust our vote is counted then all bets
are off. Then we owe them nothing. Then the laws and taxes they
pass are not binding on us. That was part of what the Revolutionary
War was about, taxation without representation. If we don't have
honest elections, then we are ruled, we are taxed without our consent.
Without honest elections there is no social contract between the
people and the government. Without honest elections they are just
crooks robbing us blind to enrich their corporate cronies.
Our forefathers fought a revolution to give us the right to vote.
We might have to fight another one to get that right back.
* * *
"Nothing so strongly impels a man to regard the interest of
his constituents, as the certainty of returning to the general mass
of the people, from whence he was taken, where he must participate
in their burdens." - George Mason Speech, Virginia Ratifying
Convention, June 17, 1788
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