In 2006, Voting Fraud is the Keystone Issue
The significance of the election fraud issue can not be overstated. The fate of our republic turns on how this issue is dealt with and resolved in the coming year.
On the one hand, the Bush Administration, the Republican Party and the Republican Congress, with the continuing connivance of the corporate media and the persistent indifference of the Democratic Party, may successfully resist public demands for electoral reform, and consequently the existing system of unverifiable voting and secret software will remain in place. If so, then the Republicans will surely retain control of the Congress, regardless of the will of the American people.
On the other hand, if, at last, it becomes irrefutably clear to a large portion of the general public that the 2000 and 2004 presidential elections were stolen, along with key congressional races in 2002, and if indictments follow and a fair election ensues, then public outrage will result in the Democratic control of at least one, and more likely, both houses of Congress. Still worse will then be in store for those who stole our elections and our democracy, as the congressional Democrats gain the power of subpoena and the threats of perjury and contempt of Congress. The likely outcome will be the disintegration of the Republican conspiracy, and the relegation of that party to minority status for the next generation.
The ballot is the heart of democracy. If one party “owns” the ballot box, it owns the government, for that party is no longer answerable to the will of the people; it rules without the “consent of the governed.” Thus it is no wonder that the Bush regime and the GOP want to keep this issue off the public agenda. We can’t allow them to succeed. It’s as simple as that.
The Busheviks, their Congressional toadies, and their fat-cat sponsors are fully aware of the stakes. Not only do they want to remain in power and keep their ill-gotten booty, many of them want desperately to stay out of the federal slammer. Accordingly, there may virtually nothing that they might not resort to in order to avoid this outcome. Things could get very nasty.
So it all comes down to this: voting fraud is the keystone issue for this year. If the keystone remains intact and in place, the structure will endure, and the United States will continue along the road toward oligarchy and despotism. Remove the keystone, and the structure will collapse, opening the possibility for a restoration of the rule of law and of a government of, by, and for the people.
At this moment the outcome of the struggle for ballot integrity is uncertain and is, in no small part, in the hands of ordinary American citizens, for our political establishment and our corporate media have forsaken us and our republic, while the ostensible “opposition party” is AWOL. It is up to us in our everyday, face-to-face-dealings with our fellow citizens, and through our remaining mode of public communication, the internet, to force the issue into the mainstream media, on to the agenda of a reluctant Democratic Party, and into the criminal courts.
coordinated and so-far successful effort by the media and the GOP to keep
the election fraud issue contained, the pressure under the lid of media
and establishment silence is rising, as more and more evidence of stolen
elections and of the vulnerability of computerized voting seeps into
public awareness. This evidence includes: the report of the Congressional
General Accountability Office, the spectacular “hacking” demonstrations in
Florida, statistically impossible polling vs. voting discrepancies in the
2005 Ohio election, leaks from whistle blowers within the e-voting
industry, and the actual and pending decertification of paperless
touch-screen machines in a growing list of counties and states. Add to all
this the continuing output of articles and now books by
Mark Crispin Miller,
Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman, by
John Conyers and his congressional colleagues,
and soon still
another book by the statistician, Steven Freeman.
Clearly, this is an issue that refuses to be starved from lack of feeding by the mainstream media. The “keystone” is loose and it is disintegrating.
There is an overwhelming accumulation of statistical, anecdotal and circumstantial evidence that paperless, secretly coded voting machines are facilitators of massive fraud that have succeeded in stealing numerous elections, most significantly the presidential elections of 2000 and 2004. Because I have discussed this evidence in several essays, and because The Crisis Papers has collected links to hundreds of articles about election fraud and electoral integrity, I will not repeat that evidence here.
There is, however, little direct evidence of fraud, that is to say, evidence obtained through examination of the machines and their software or of controlled experiments with these machines. There is little direct evidence simply because the manufacturers will not allow it, and no courts or government agencies have successfully demanded such scrutiny. This refusal by the e-voting companies brings to mind numerous troubling “how-come” questions which, as long as they remain unanswered, must be added to the weight of evidence of electoral fraud. Among these questions:
1. Why must the software (“source codes”) in the machines be kept secret? Diebold is so insistent that its codes be kept secret that, rather than disclose them to North Carolina election officials as required by state law, they withdrew their machines from that state. Why is this? The companies reply that they keep these codes secret to prevent copyright infringement. That defense is absurd on its face. Musical and written works are, by their nature, intrinsically “open” -- fully available to potential plagiarists. Yet music and text are effectively protected by copyright. Likewise, publicly sold and distributed software. Furthermore, the source codes could be examined by independent software experts on condition that they remain secret. No dice, say the companies. Because there is no conceivably benign reason why e-voting software should be kept secret, even from the restricted scrutiny of public officials, one is compelled to conclude that expert examination of the software would give the game away.
2. Diebold and several other e-voting companies complain that paper records of e-votes would be prohibitively expensive and impractical. Yet these same companies manufacture the receipt-yielding ATM and fuel-pump machines with which we are all familiar. Last year I happened to watch a CSPAN broadcast of a congressional hearing on e-voting. In it, a representative of one of the e-voting companies produced a broadsheet approximately a foot wide and a yard long and told the committee that such a sheet would be required for each vote. It was, of course, a damnable and desperate lie. In last year’s local elections, I voted (most reluctantly) on a touch-screen machine, which printed out for my inspection a record of my vote on a slip of paper about two by six inches in size. A big improvement over a paperless machine, if less than completely reassuring. The state of Nevada along with many local jurisdictions around the country requires paper printouts of e-votes. Yet the companies continue to oppose legislation requiring paper validation. What possible reason, both plausible and innocent, can explain this resistance by the e-voting companies? If none, then a suspicious explanation is readily at hand.
3. BlackBoxVoting.com, among other citizen groups, has repeatedly requested access to a randomly selected touch-screen machine so that their experts might examine the reliability and the security of the machines. They have routinely been refused. Diebold is willing to supply a machine that it has pre-selected (and thus possibly “fixed”). However a random selection of a machine actually in use is prohibited and Diebold has even sent out letters to its customers demanding that they not allow independent examination of their systems.
4. Finally, and perhaps most significantly, we ask: What possible advantage to the Republicans and the e-voting companies is gained by their refusal to publish their source codes and to allow independent expert examination of the systems and effective validation of vote totals? What advantage, that is to say, other than the ability to alter vote totals and steal elections at will? This persisting issue of ballot integrity is causing the companies and the GOP enormous problems. As noted above, bad publicity attending this controversy is having a serious impact upon the value of Diebold stock, prompting stockholder lawsuits. The same publicity is causing widespread and growing public doubt about the legitimacy of the Bush Administration and the Republican control of Congress. What is more important to a private company than “the bottom line”? What is more important to a political party than the public perception of its legitimacy? If, as the companies and the GOP insist, e-voting is completely honest and reliable, why not allow definitive proof thereof? If such exculpatory proof is forthcoming and widely publicized (as it most assuredly would be), company profits and stock prices would immediately soar, Republican political control would be solidified, and its critics permanently discredited and silenced.
Come on, Diebold, ES&S, Sequoia and the Republican National Committee. Why won’t you allow, indeed insist upon and promote, definitive validation of the accuracy and security of e-voting? What conceivable advantage is gained by this continuing resistance and secrecy? What advantage, other than the continuing control of the ballot and thus of the government? Tell us -- if you can!
Faced with such challenges, the GOP and e-voting companies have offered no cogent replies. Instead, they have attacked their critics: “Get over it!,” “Sore losers,” “Paranoid fantasies.” Faced with the hundreds of authenticated cases of vote anomalies, “lost” registrations, mis-allocation of voting machines, etc., assembled by the Conyers group and Fitrakis and Wasserman, we hear refutations of a few particular anecdotes which, even if valid, reduce the accumulated tons of evidence by ounces. Then there is the pathetic hypothesis of “the reluctant GOP voter” to explain away the exit poll/official tally discrepancy in the 2004 election -- a phenomenon which, as it turns out, was somehow confined to e-voting states and absent in paper-ballot districts. The “reluctant voter” hypothesis is offered with no independent evidence; it is ad hoc, like the creationist's "explanation" that “the devil put dinosaur bones in the ground to lead us astray.”
Amazingly, the official Democratic Party, along with some prominent progressive publications, websites and personalities have bought the GOP line, refusing to face the evidence of vote fraud, much less deal with it. Salon.com, TomPaine.com, Mother Jones, John Kerry, Bernie Sanders, Al Franken, Paul Begala, Arianna Huffington, fearful of appearing as “sore losers” and “paranoid nuts,” are all serving as “useful idiots” to the Great GOP Fraud Machine. But why? Perhaps they simply cannot bring themselves to believe that a crime of such magnitude has been committed against our republic and its citizens. Another intriguing explanation that I heard somewhere from the Democratic establishment, is that if the party talks up the voting fraud issue, “the base” will not show up at the polls on election day. Well, so what?! If the election is rigged so that the GOP can’t lose, what does it matter whether or not the base shows up?
And so, ignoring the 800 pound gorilla in the room, the Democrats and progressives prattle on about “taking back the Congress in November.” As if...! Pathetic! Meanwhile, hearing all this, those of us who are convinced that the fix is in, are consumed with silent, unavailing fury.
“Wait ‘till next time!” Well, 2000, 2002, and 2004 were “next time.” The voters gave us those elections, and the damnable machines and conniving GOP Secretaries of State took them away! And unless we clean up the election process, and pronto!, they will surely do it again next November.
And as we strive to take back our elections, and thence our country, we must not forget that problem is not confined to paperless touch-screen voting machines and secret software. As the 2004 Ohio fiasco vividly demonstrated, even if touch-screen machines were made totally reliable, that would not assure valid elections. Let us not forget Kathryn Harris’ infamous purge list, Ken Blackwell’s myriad attempts to suppress Democratic registration, and the misallocation of voting machines. There is evidence that much of the switching and alteration of vote totals was accomplished, not only by individual touch-screen machines, but also at regional compilation centers. The theft of the 2004 election was a many-faceted enterprise.
When Nixon resigned the Presidency in August, 1974, the would-be oligarchs in the GOP had two options: henceforth play by the rules, or take control of the three institutions that brought down Nixon -- the media, the appellate courts, and the threat of electoral defeat. Clearly, they chose to take control of these institutions. So now they have the media and the courts on their side, and they have neutralized the threat of the ballot.
It still might not suffice to give them permanent control of our government. Many criminal and civil courts are still independent, as Tom DeLay, Jack Abramoff, Randall “Duke” Cunningham and others are discovering to their regret. In addition, elections are still administered on the state and municipal level; thus prosecutorial investigation and indictments of voting fraud are still feasible. It may be an uneven struggle, but the facts and evidence are on the side of reform, and reality can be a formidable ally.
Aid in the coming struggle may come from unlikely sources. At last, a few voices in the mainstream media are speaking out against the Bush regime with a candor not heard in the past four years. The Republican monolith is fracturing. Libertarians and authentic conservatives are finally coming to realize that George Bush is not one of them. A few conspicuous Republican Senators and Members of Congress are coming to the belated recognition that when they took office, they swore allegiance not to Bush but to the Constitution of the United States -- a document that Bush is reported to have dismissed as “just a goddam piece of paper.”
And finally, as a recent Editorial in Barron's Magazine suggests, at long last some important corporate and financial “movers and shakers” are waking up to a grim realization that where the Busheviks are leading, they should not wish to follow: that Bushenomics is leading to an economic tsunami that will sink all boats, yachts included.
Following the publication of such jeremiads as this, I have often received numerous letters telling me: “OK you’ve convinced me, we’re in a helluva hole. Now what do you propose that we do about it?”
Here are some suggestions.
3. Boycott the mainstream media and their sponsors -- and let them know that you are doing so, and why. Conversely, reward those rare journalists such as Keith Olbermann who dare to report crucial issues, such as electoral integrity.
4. Demand that your state Attorney General or Secretary of State, and your local district attorneys, investigate and prosecute voting fraud.
5. Demonstrate, send letters to the state capitals and to Washington, support election reform organizations, and talk-up the issue among friends and associates whenever possible. Shout bloody murder, and raise Hell.
No doubt, many of you have more, perhaps better, ideas. By all means, send them to me here and I will share them with the readers of The Crisis Papers.
Tell the world that “you're mad as Hell and you aren’t going to take it any more!”
Dr. Ernest Partridge is a consultant, writer and lecturer in the field of Environmental Ethics and Public Policy. He publishes the website, The Online Gadfly and co-edits the progressive website, The Crisis Papers. His book in progress, Conscience of a Progressive, can be seen at www.igc.org/gadfly/progressive/^toc.htm. Send comments to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Other Articles by Ernest Partridge