Forget Who Won, Congress Passed Legislation Requiring The Use Of Unverifiable Voting Methods! That Is A Threat To Us All!
"There is no suggestion of foul play in this case, or regarding any other manufacturer. But the point is that it is not possible to prove an election has been fair, as there is no way to do an independent recount. Officials can print out what is stored in the computers' memory, but there is no way to check it against voters' intentions", says Rebecca Mercuri, an e-voting expert at Harvard University.
Before reading this, I would like to suggest to anyone reading this to choose a state and google it with "voting machines" and printers or something along those lines. For more sources do a search through your school or library database, preferably local newspapers from over the last decade. I guarantee you will find plenty of revealing articles about the vulnerability of voting machines and their lack of paper-trail in your state. My suggestion would be Nevada, the "only state that uses 100% printer-equipped, verifiable voting machines, as you have probably heard.
I am not a Democrat. I don't believe in UFOs. And I don't think I know who killed JFK. But I do know, that nobody can confirm to me that my vote went to the candidate I intended it to. That is not an accident. In a society growing ever more dependent on computers, it did not come as a surprise when many of us started using computers to cast our vote. This was even more expected after weeks of recounting paper ballots in Florida in 2000, which oddly, was ordered to stop days before completion. This all seemed fine, even easier, go in, touch a screen a few times, confirm and you're all done. Seems like a good idea, right? Well you will certainly be led to believe that by politicians and election officials. However, ask anyone who knows anything and I mean anything about computer programming and security and you will learn that these electronic voting machines are about as secure as money in a bank that locks it's doors, but leaves the vault wide open. As Thomas Paine wrote at this nation's founding, "The right of voting for representatives is the primary right by which all other rights are protected. To take away this right is to reduce a man to slavery."
After the Florida recount of the 2000 election, it became clear that our country needed some reforms in the voting process. Soon after, congress passed a bi-partisan measure, the Help America Vote Act of 2002 (HAVA), in order to reform past problems of the voting process and increase voter education and turnout. Its goals include the replacement of voting machines, voter registration reform, better access to voting for the disabled and poll worker training. HAVA provides funds in order for states to replace outdated voting machines, create a system of provisional balloting, create a computerized voter registration system, train poll workers and change election day procedures.
Since we all know you can't judge a book by it's cover, especially when it comes to most legislation passed by our government (e.g. Fuel Price Stability Act of 2003, Drug Importation Promotion and Safety Act(banned buying affordable prescription drugs from Canada), No Child Left Behind, Domestic Budget Protection Act of 2003, Secure Borders Act, Restore Open Government Act of 2004, Democracy in Congress Act of 2004), I think it's very important to take a closer look at the Help America Vote Act of 2002, or HVAC and how it will affect our democracy.
At this point, there are a couple of important questions that everyone should consider:
* Why have we let corporations into our polling places, locations so sacred to democracy that in many states even international election monitors and reporters are banned?
* Why are we allowing corporations to exclusively handle our vote, in a secret and totally invisible way? Particularly a private corporation founded in one case by one of Ohio's top Republicans. This is just a red flag and doesn't make others less worrisome
Since the major reforms seem to be improving the technology used in the voting process, one would likely expect that this would result in more efficient voting methods for voters, as well as eliminate the possibility another embarrassing recount. So with several billions of dollars to spend, it seems like the logical thing to do would be to upgrade to an easy to use, safe, easy to confirm, uniform system of voting across the country, or at least on a statewide level, right? Put on a chin strap people, because you are about to see the jaw-dropping reality of HAVA and the American voting process. I'll start with some things we now know, having just had the election on Nov. 2.
First let's think about this, what would be important qualities in a voting machine? Easy to use? Of course. Organization? Security? Well, let's think, any process as complicated as citizens going to their local precinct, selecting who they want to vote for, turning it in and then counting each one will surely require about a dozen different committees, sub-committees, commissions and the like. So each state is required to establish an Election Assistance Commission. But since they will need to watch over everyone and make sure it goes smoothly, they will certainly need an Election Assistance Commission Standards Board to report back from throughout the state and you might as well establish an Election Assistance Commission Standards Board of Advisors as well. But since they are computer illiterate, they will need a Technical Guidelines Development Committee to authorize equipment to study and report on electronic voting and the electoral process, as stated in HAVA. Also stated in HAVA, if they need an "independent" group to speak confirm and attest to the high quality and security of their systems, they may provide grants for research on voting technology improvements. Then there are the various sub-committees and "task-forces" that will be established to participate in "helping America vote".
Since we don't want anymore "hanging chads" again, let's try to prevent a recount, how can we do that? Well let's simply eliminate the ability to go back and verify votes, how is that done? OK, we won't include "voting receipts" with most of the machines. But that might not be enough to avoid a "required recount" in a race ending within the limit set by each state. Provisional ballots! Who cares if they "could" delay any recount efforts. That will only happen if a race "could" be decided once 100% of the votes are counted. Any voter whose name does not appear on precinct rolls is entitled to cast a provisional - or paper - ballot. But elections officials must individually certify them as being cast by registered voters before they can even be counted. "To a certain extent, provisional ballots are second-class votes," said Spencer Overton, a law professor at George Washington University. "You can cast a provisional ballot but we don't know if officials will count it." But don't forget our citizens who will be abroad on Nov. 2. Well first, let's say that if people are even out of their precinct, then they will be required to cast a "provisional" ballot from wherever they may be. For those who will be abroad, they can send away for an absentee ballot, which will be sent to them. Then they must return to so it will be received by Nov. 2. Wait, too many people will be voting on Nov.2, so let's just require that it's postmarked on or before Nov. 2. Oh, and don't forget to throw on a few extra registration requirements so the voters know that nobody could pretend to be them, because every individual citizen's vote is very important to us!
All right, moving on to security. Our responsible elected officials knew the first thing necessary was to have an evaluation done by experts, these findings were very revealing. Here's what computer scientists and experts have to say about the different methods available for voting machines, which are technically known as Direct Recording Electronic voting machines or DREs:
I'll list some excerpts from various academic research teams who have examined the use of voting machines. I don't list links because I accessed them through a University database search, just by searching for something as basic as "voting machines". I would highly recommend others who have access to a good searchable database (university and public libraries have very extensive information on this) to do this themselves to see that there has been extensive research and studies done on voting machines and the vast majority have the same conclusions.
They make ATM's! It's incredible to me that a company that is trusted to make ATM's would make such an incredibly hackable machine. You know that the ATM's aren't hackable, the banks wouldn't stand for it. Voting machines need to be auditable just like ATM's. A paper trail isn't really sufficient, they could hand you a piece of paper that has the correct results printed on it and tabulate a different number. How would you know? It needs to be auditable.
"I don't think anyone can make a sweeping statement, given the history of voting fraud, that all is well and nothing will happen," says Larry J. Sabato, director of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia and one of the authors of Dirty Little Secrets: The Persistence of Corruption in American Politics (Times Books, 1996).
"Just as with punch cards," says M.I.T.'s Mr. Ansolabehere, "we see a potential for catastrophe with electronic machines."
The method chosen by Diebold for voting required the voting officials to check the registration of each voter and then hand them a "smartcard," a credit card-like piece of plastic containing digital information that essentially turns the machine on. The machine reads the card and if the information is correct, permits the voter to cast his or her ballot. The smartcards chosen for the Diebold DREs were not encrypted and could be forged by a 15-year-old in his bedroom at an equipment cost of about three weeks' allowance, Dr. Rubin said. Anyone with a phony card could vote more than once. Other computer security specialists, including the National Security Agency, testified in support of the Hopkins study.
New Mexico, a leader in electronic voting, went to Al Gore in 2000 by 366 votes. In one county, 678 out of 2,300 votes cast went uncounted. The voting machines lost them.
Remember the hanging chads in Florida? They weren't the only problem the state has had with elections. Some areas used electronic machines, including Miami-Dade County. A study by the American Civil Liberties Union reported that in the Democratic gubernatorial primary in 2002, 8 percent of the votes cast in 31 Miami-Dade precincts was lost.
"The machines have [failed] and do fail," says Ms. Mercuri, who serves as an election official in Mercer County, N.J. On Election Day 2000, for example, a few major-party candidates received no votes at all in some New Jersey jurisdictions that were using new D.R.E. equipment. When election officials there raised questions, she says, the manufacturer maintained that no votes had been lost -- the explanation, it said, was that "no votes were cast for those candidates."
Indeed, the Caltech/M.I.T. study confirms several government and academic studies, one of which warned that relying on computerized vote-tabulating systems that are lacking in adequate safeguards would be comparable to "waiting for Chernobyl."
But an increasing number of experts argue that apparent successes may not be as reassuring as they seem. "Every computer programme of reasonable size has bugs," says David Dill, computer scientist and e-voting expert at Stanford University in California. "Testing can reveal the presence of bugs, but not their absence." This means, he says, that we can never be sure machines have counted votes accurately, no matter how well an election seems to have gone.
The same reasoning holds for deliberate fraud. This is already a problem in banks and other financial institutions, but e-voting raises the stakes even higher, Dill argues. "People who win elections have control over a lot of assets," he says. "When you are talking about the US national government, it's hard to get into numbers bigger than that, while staying on this planet."
With large contracts available to the manufacturers that supply and service the machines, earning the public's trust won't be easy. "We are talking about several billion dollars a year," says Kellner. The fact that some of the companies involved are helping to run some elections in the US rings alarm bells too. The companies "hook their network to the voting machines on the day of elections to watch things and make sure things go well," says Ted Selker of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a proponent of e-voting. "We can't have that."
"If we have an election that is really close like we did in 2000 and there are places in which the vote is disputed that were fully electronic, we won't have hanging chads to recount," Dr. Rubin said. "A paper trail keeps them honest -- if [the paper ballots] are counted,"
Florida election officials (all Republicans), on the other hand, have barred paper trails and ruled against manual recounts in case a result is contested, a decision that was thrown out by a state court on Sept. 27. If the officials appeal and win, we would never know the true winner of another close Florida election.
Another state without paper trails, of course, is Maryland, partly because it is using Diebold's devices, and partly because of the stubborn insistence by Ms. Lamone's office that paper trails are unnecessary.
However, with the vast majority of those knowledgeable in how these machines operate agreeing that at the very, very least, they are vulnerable to manipulation, the mainstream media continues to dismiss facts as either "denial from angry democrats or Bush-bashers" or else some reference to UFOs. Most recently, on 11/11, John Gibson (FOX News) even took it one step further, all while completely ignoring the threat that voting machines pose to electing our leaders:
"Look at these words from Jack Corrigan, a longtime Kerry aide who was in charge of 3,600 Democrat lawyers ready to challenge the election. Corrigan was quoted in The Boston Globe saying this":
"No one would be more interested than me in finding out that we really won, but that ain't the case. I get why people are frustrated, but they (the Republicans) did not steal this election. There were a few problems here and there in the election, but unlike 2000 there is no doubt that they (the Republicans) actually got more votes than we did, and they got them in the states that mattered." " Corrigan is speaking the truth to the truth deniers. He's being ignored by certain people because they want the idea to germinate that Bush stole this election... that he stole two in a row."
We're not surprised he is saying this, after hearing Kerry/Edwards tell blatant lies when:
* At 2:30 am on 11/3, Edwards made the brief comment that they "will make sure every vote is counted"
* After a campaign slogan of "we will count every vote and make sure that every vote counts", in the early afternoon on 11/03, Kerry says: "In America it is vital that every vote count, and that every vote be counted. But the outcome should be decided by voters, not a protracted legal process. I would not give up this fight if there was a chance we would prevail."
Apparently they haven't heard from any of the hundreds of precincts across the country experiencing difficulty verifying votes.
* And let's face it people, it does now seem obvious that the clear explanation for "everything" is that the surprising turnaround late in the day on 11/02 was simply due to an unprecedented number of "evangelical Christians" who felt that moral values were the most important thing to look for in a candidate. So, with morals and God on their mind, they poured out to the polls to vote for George W. Bush, who has invaded two countries, one preemptively and while killing thousands of innocent civilians, despite lack of support from their allies, and has now occupied the country that is the "Cradle of Western Civilization", or Mesopotopia and what the Bible calls Babylon. This also happens to be the country which has the second largest oil supply in the world, which GWB didn't hesitate to tap and has now doled out billions of taxpayer dollars to the big oil companies to set up shop, one of which VP Cheney is former CEO and all of which have close ties to the administration. Oh, and don't forget how supportive Christians are of the death penalty. George W. Bush signed more execution warrants in Texas than any other governor
John Gibson wasn't done yet though:
"I wrote a book about hating America. I have seen what happens when a half-baked, or nonsensical idea cooked up anywhere on the planet gets revved up on the Internet. I guarantee it will be a matter of days, if not hours, before Al Jazeera is repeating the assertions of my desperate cable colleagues. Then some dimwit French author will write a book, and it will sell a few million in Arabic. Then some Marine colonel will lead his men into the next Fallujah and find the damn book in a jihadi terrorist decapitation dungeon -- inspirational reading before sawing off someone's head.This is how stupid ideas get people killed."
That's My Word.
Pollster/consultant Dick Morris said not so long ago that, "Exit polls are almost never wrong." But now argues that the faulty exit polls are not a sign the vote count was off but an indication that the pollsters deliberately produced pro-Kerry results "to try to chill the Bush turnout."
Talk about conspiracy theories! Give me a break! Moving on, that seems pretty clear about what type of method to use, voting machines which provide the voter with a receipt, like an ATM, right? Get the chin strap ready, not only did state appointed and state supported election officials fail to provide printers for the machines, they deliberately prevented the use of them! This was done all across the country, for several ridiculous reasons, some of which I will mention.
Let's look back on how the states prepared. This first thing may have been a blessing in disguise. If you read the timeline of HAVA, you will learn that each state was required to have all upgrades and reforms completed by Jan. 1, 2004. Well, despite their impressive efforts, which you will soon learn of, over 1 year just wasn't enough time and that deadline was not met in most states. In fact, only one state met the deadline, Nevada, which you may have heard about, since it has been being talked up as if it should set the standard for the rest, which I will get into momentarily.
But this is the government, if a deadline isn't met; just pass legislation on a later one, which you will also see in the HAVA timeline, of Jan. 1, 2006. Well why wasn't the first one met? Was there just not enough time? Not enough money? Well sure enough, those were two common reasons given for the delay, but politicians can do better than that, come on! In many states, new machines were purchased, but without printers because of "budget limitations", which is not only ridiculous because each state was originally granted more than enough money for reforms, but that there are actually elected officials who are opposing the only method of making the machines verifiable!
Only 1 state out of 50 currently has intentions of a smooth and secure voting process. That state is Nevada, which received $9.5 million in federal money to purchase about 2,000 new touch-screen voting machines with printers manufactured by Oakland-based Sequoia Voting Systems. A random audit of 3 percent of the machines showed that the paper records matched 100 percent with the computers' tally. That is what I have been hearing for months about Nevada, I've basically viewed it as evidence that the elections go smoothly when voters receive a receipt, verifying who they voted for. However I soon stumbled across articles explaining that that wasn't "entirely" true. I started following a trail and was eventually seeing more red flags than I've seen since the O.J. case. Only this situation will have a different verdict: elected or selected.
12/10/2003 Secretary of State Dean Heller excitedly announced that Nevada has become the first state to demand a voter-verifiable receipt printer on "new" touch-screen voting machines being purchased for the 2004 elections.
12/10/2003 While the printers add to the cost of the voting systems, Heller said "money takes a back seat to accuracy, security and voter confidence."
Article also notes that Nevada will receive a minimum state allotment of $5 million under part of the act, followed by another $15 million under other provisions of the new law. The HAVA timeline states that Nevada will originally receive $5million and an additional $20,440,442, which will be available in 2003, 2004, or 2005 to the covered jurisdictions.
12/11/2003 Secretary of State Dean Heller said he chose Sequoia after tests done by the state's Gaming Control Board electronic division that found machines offered by a competitor, Diebold, represented a "legitimate threat to the integrity of the election process."
The second paragraph in the article reads: Only Clark County, which is home to 70 percent of the state's population, currently uses Sequoia machines for elections. It later quotes Heller saying, "Clark County has used Sequoia machines since 1994 without any problems." And also Washoe County Registrar Dan Burk, who had originally favored Diebold machines, said "it's time for registrars to put aside their differences and accept Heller's decision. We need to work together and not argue about it," Burk said. Clark County has proven over the last eight years to 10 years that its touch-screen machines are excellent." However, some voiced strong opposition, even making threats, like Carson City Clerk Alan Glover, who had threatened litigation if Heller did not allow counties to use Diebold machines. But Heller's decision stood.
The most important thing the article notes though was "Heller also ruled the voting machines must be outfitted with voter verifiable receipt printers in all counties but Clark by the primary election next year. About 740 of Clark County's newer machines will be retrofitted with the printers by that election." And then Jon Summers, a spokesman for the state Democratic Party, said "Heller's decision is a step in the right direction. But Democrats still are concerned that more than 2,100 machines in Clark County will not have vote verifiable printers in place by next year."
"I don't dispute Larry Lomax will do everything he can to make it as fair an election as possible," Summers said. "But there is a problem if we aren't going to be able to go back and hand-count those votes if necessary."
07/13/2004 Clark County Registrar of Voters Larry Lomax said. "Nevada will be the first and only state to use this verification trail," Lomax said. "The whole country is heading this way to watch."
07/13/2004 It's also important to notice that he announced that "all early voting polling places in Clark County will have only the touch-screen voting machines with the printer"
Unfortunately, that wasn't the case on Nov. 2nd.
10/06/2004 It's reported that "Clark County will likely have to buy new machines to comply with a mandate by Heller that all machines in the state must produce a paper trail by 2006, though county commissioners aren't certain how they will come up with the $12 million to $17 million cost."
The article begins by saying: LAS VEGAS -- In a state that thrives on gambling, elections officials believe they've taken the risk out of electronic voting. Nevada last month became the first state to employ electronic voting machines with printers that allow voters to confirm their computer selections against a paper receipt. And officials believe those paper trails -- which Georgia activists have lobbied unsuccessfully for -- are instilling new confidence in electronic voting. Then shortly after says, Clark County will likely have to buy new machines to comply with a mandate by Heller that all machines in the state must produce a paper trail by 2006, though county commissioners aren't certain how they will come up with the $12 million to $17 million cost. It also quotes Heller saying, "No one can prove -- minus a paper trail -- the accuracy and integrity of these machines." Clark county has over 70% of the population!!
It then gives a lovely depiction of voting machine critics -- political activists, computer security experts, conspiracy theorists and others -- say the machines can be manipulated to change the outcome of elections. Some argue that a paper record of an electronic ballot that voters could check for accuracy would ease such worries.
"argue"? That's why this is so pathetic.
Now listen to how they explain officials in Georgia's reaction after visiting Nevada to evaluate the new equipment: "In Georgia, Secretary of State Cathy Cox has steadfastly resisted outfitting the state's 24,550 touch-screen machines with printers. Staffers from her office visited Nevada and came away unconvinced."
"The technology is not there yet, the money is not there yet, and the standards are not there yet," Cox, the state's top elections official, said in an interview last week. "And we've got to have all of that come together before I'm ready to jump down that path." Cox's office has several concerns about Nevada's system. Chief among them is the possibility that the anonymity of a vote could be compromised, since some voters walk away while the machine is still printing. It might also be possible to tell how someone voted in smaller precincts because the paper ballots scroll in successive order.
In Georgia, Cox championed the state's $54 million switch to electronic voting in 2002 and has been dogged by a small but vocal group of activists who question the integrity of the system -- even though there is no evidence that an election has ever been manipulated.
This year, Cox fought legislation that would have required all of Georgia's touch-screen voting machines to have a printer that would produce a paper trail. Cox told lawmakers that uniform technological standards for the printers had not been developed on a national level. Spending about $16 million to outfit Georgia's machines could prove unwise if different standards were later developed that made them obsolete, Cox warned.
She also worried that the printers would pose a logistical nightmare for poll workers already overwhelmed by learning a new voting system. Finally, she argued that creating paper evidence of a vote is rife with opportunities for fraud, since paper ballots in the past were notorious for getting lost, replaced or even bought.
Last week, Cox said it would be easy to appease her critics by moving forward with paper trails in Georgia. "But I have an obligation to make sure I don't create further harm in the election process by doing something that I believe is not ready for prime time," she said.
That may sound insignificant, but that is actually where about 70% of the state's population resides. There are 2,186 machines in Clark County that do not produce a paper trail. That seemed obvious enough for me that the machines are and have in the past been manipulated in Clark County. But everywhere I looked on the internet, more things kept popping up linking everything. I was amazed at how much of a role, which you will see that at least some were aware of, that the media played in creating what is now a nationwide common-belief; That these voting machines are more convenient for voters and there is no worry of them being manipulated.
Well the fact that Clark County doesn't have printers seems like a pretty different picture than the one painted on Dec. 11, 2003 when Sec. of State Heller, the state's chief election officer boldly stated, "It is a right of every citizen to feel secure that the voting choices they have made are recorded accurately, a paper trail is an intrinsic component of voter confidence." Out of 418,691 votes for George W. Bush in Nevada, 255,337 (61%) were cast in Clark County. Overall, 541,216 out of 836,640 votes were cast in Clark County. And even though they like Bush so much, they voted Democrat for the Senate seat! So this seems like it would be an important county for Republicans, especially when you learn that a group paid and hired by the Republican National Committee, was caught ripping up registration forms filed by Democrats. And the suspicious activities just don't stop.
I assure anyone reading this that if you make the slightest effort to see for yourself and browse documents and old newspapers of any state in the country, you will be in complete awe at the number of things you find about states acknowledging the extreme vulnerabilities in paperless voting machines, yet deliberately requiring their use, often while falsely explaining how secure they are. That is the biggest problem I have had in getting together something that explains this, there are red flags everywhere! And you will end up with 15 windows open crashes on your computer anxiously discovering how wide-spread this problem is. So I would suggest saving pages to your favorites in case your net crashes, though once back on, you will quickly discover 15 new ones. I'll end by explaining my most recent discoveries, which I'm sure aren't news to some people who have been investigating.
Getting back to the misinformation, election officials will often be quoted as demanding verifiable voting machines, but behind closed doors, are strongly opposed to having printers for the machines. And in many states, they just come out and say they won't allow them. That really makes one wonder, especially since Forbes magazine rated paperless voting machines the worst technology of 2000, following the Florida incident and that the software used in some of the machines was hacked in 1998 and there are books now available on Amazon.com that explain how to do that. Well some pushed for law requiring printers with one would imagine would have strong bi-partisan support. Well, Congressman Rush Holt introduced a bill into Congress requiring a voter-verified paper ballot be produced by all electronic voting machines, and it's been co-sponsored by a majority of the members of the House of Representatives. Unfortunately, the bill faced a two-year battle led by speaker of the house Dennis Hastert and good old majority leader Tom DeLay, to keep it from coming to a vote, thus insuring that there will be no possible audit of the votes of much of the 2004 electorate. Delay is the "highly respected" Texas politician who recently had honor of being the man who brought the Congressional Ethics Commission out of a hibernation that had lasted more than seven years, which is yet one more mind boggling thought. Google his name with "ethics" or even just go to http://www.takingontomdelay.com/ to see a long list of jaw droppers, topped off by his recent 11th re-election. This list goes on and on. I think a more difficult task might be for someone to find a state that holds "honest" elections? I'll continue to add ongoing developments, notably links to various stories being covered or studies being done. But my next post is the real eye-opener, the "history of U.S. elections". This exact same crap has been going on since the 1800!
Posted by trytodenythis
at 10:44 AM CST
Updated: Friday, 12 November 2004 7:27 PM CST