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Still more Electronic Voting worries...

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  • Still more Electronic Voting worries...

    Sorry if I'm boring you all with this stuff, but as a patriotic American who holds the right to vote as sacrosanct, this stuff is just too important to stay unnoticed.

    By Pamela Troy,

    "It was interesting, though inexplicable, that voters and others who were asked about the new voting machines almost all said they liked them because of the ease of use, but expressed uncertainty or disapproval when asked whether they trusted the system The complacency of voters despite their doubts about the new system was remarkable. For example, on the NPR radio station, several of the callers registered complaints about the voting process but added immediately how "proud" they were to be voting. Perhaps the most notable of these was a young woman who said it was "kind of weird" that at her polling station she saw ballot activator cartridges lying in a big pile on the table, and upon asking the poll worker sitting nearby whether or not this was "normal" was told that in fact it was not, and that the devices needed to be put away somewhere But the caller then went on to say how fulfilling and enlivening her voting experience had been, and about how she planned to always take her children with her to polling stations for elections." -- From the British-Helsinki Human Rights Group Report on the 2002 elections in Florida.

    Perhaps it had to be foreign observers who offered the most cogent commentary on America's staggering cognitive dissonance about the vote. As a people, we strike a pose the minute the word "vote" is invoked, a starry-eyed, erect, hand-on-the-heart reverence that would make some sense if we actually took voting as seriously as we should.

    Unfortunately we don't. In fact, we seem to consider the actual reliability of the vote to be beside the point. "Were legal voters turned away from the polls?" "For heavens' sake get over it. Maybe they'll get to vote in the NEXT election." "Are the electronic voting machines being offered as a panacea actually reliable and verifiable?" "Who cares! What counts is whether they're easy to use and don't have chads!" "Was your vote counted correctly?" "I don't know, but by God, it makes me proud to have done it!" It's as if voting has been demoted from meaningful participation in Democracy to a respectful salute to the flag, a sign of reverence that is the obligation of every patriotic citizen but that only the most irritatingly naïve idealist would imagine had an impact on the real world.

    Just before the 2002 elections, Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne summed up this bizarre attitude in a November 5, 2002 piece entitled, "An Election Day Nightmare." He explained that the biggest worry on election day was "Not equipment failure, lousy ballot design or the odd hanging chad, but an ugly brawl over whether minority voters were discouraged from casting ballots, combined with charges of vote fraud."

    Heaven forbid that the election be sullied by an "ugly brawl" over minor details like the system's integrity.

    Presumably most of us had civics classes at some point in our education. Presumably most of us were taught in those classes that the foundation of our democracy, the hallmark of our power as a people is our right to vote. Anyone who has studied the history of oppressed groups knows that one of the most important of all rights sought is suffrage. Without real access to the ballot, everything else is meaningless. Why are we acting as if the reliability of our election results were unimportant?

    Maybe it has to do with the assumption of white middle class Americans that our own vote is so sacrosanct that nobody would dare to meddle with it.

    It's not so much an "It can't happen here," mindset as "It can't happen to me." For the past two decades, the Republican Party has engaged in the systematic and deliberate suppression of the minority vote. White Americans have clucked their tongues and shaken their heads and then thought about other things, secure in the illusion that because the most blatant examples involved nonwhites, it posed no real danger to the Democratic process as a whole.

    And now that illusion may lead us to accept an electronic system of casting and counting votes that would render the kind of "nightmare" Dionne invoked obsolete, not because it would eliminate voter suppression, but because it would make voter suppression practically undetectable. No muss, no fuss, no hanging chads or butterfly ballots and no independent verification, just utter reliance on the competence and good will of the private companies that manufacture voting machines.

    There is nothing new about either voter suppression or voter fraud. In the Reconstruction Period following the American Civil War when the Republican Party was still the party of Lincoln, even white voters who attempted to vote Republican in some parts of the south were risking their lives. Black Americans in the south who tried to vote at all faced beatings and worse all the way up to the 1960s. Tampering with ballots, intimidating potential voters, stuffing or stealing the ballot box, all are very real crimes that have been committed by both Republicans and Democrats at various times.

    But in the current political climate, the likelihood of voter suppression has been increased by a dangerous intolerance successfully reintroduced into mainstream politics. The source for this intolerance is the growing power of the Religious Right within the Republican Party, a power which was glimpsed by American voters in the 1992 Republican Convention and emphatically rejected by them. In spite of all its populist rhetoric, the Religious Right has always known that the popular vote is its enemy.

    Average Americans, who include non-Christians, non-Whites, homosexuals, liberals, and other individuals likely to be badly impacted by Religious Right policies, just can't be trusted to vote for an explicitly right wing theocratic political agenda.

    Minority voter suppression is driven by the conviction that the targeted minorities are too dishonest or too stupid to be trusted with the ballot. Thus, predominantly black or Hispanic precincts are treated differently from predominantly white precincts. Guards are placed at polls to supervise, voters rolls are purged, signs posted, IDs demanded, warnings issued -- and if these tactics discourage even legal voters from voting, so much the better. This assumption among many powerful Republicans now apparently includes Democrats in general. The GOP may be more covert about exhibiting this attitude -- white Democrats still have more clout than minorities, and thus can't be quite as openly bullied -- but it exists, and has been increasingly reflected in the language and actions of powerful conservatives who routinely equate disagreement with immorality and incompetence. An examination of the history of elections for the past twenty years reveals a pattern that should inspire caution if not serious concern.

    In 1981 a new organization, the Republican National Committee's National Ballot Security Task Force, attracted some public attention during the New Jersey Gubernatorial election. A subsequent lawsuit filed against the RNC by the Democratic Party revealed that armed off duty policeman, some of them "prominently displaying revolvers" and wearing Task Force armbands visited minority precincts. The National Ballot Security Task Force also engaged in an early attempt at a voter purge, sending letters to registered Democrats in heavily black or Hispanic neighborhoods then using those letters returned as undeliverable to challenge voters as nonresidents. The result was a 1982 Consent Decree in which the Republican Party promised not to use election tactics that deterred minorities from voting. The extent to which this consent decree was flouted can be measured by observing the number of cases of minority suppression that took place over the next few years.

    1982: The very same year the GOP signed the consent decree, they attempted a voter purge in Texas. Lists of purported "convicted felons" were sent to local Texas election officials, and there were plans to post armed law enforcement officers at minority voter precincts. Legal action resulted, in this case some successful slander lawsuits against those who had provided lists that falsely accused some voters of being convicted felons.

    1986: In the Louisiana Senatorial campaign, unforwardable letters were sent out to voters in black districts, and the returned letters used to purge some 30,000 names from the rolls. Once again, a lawsuit was filed, with a state district judge observing that "the only reasonable conclusion is that they [the Republican Party] initiated this purge with the specific intent of disenfranchising these blacks of their right to vote."

    1988: In Orange County Hispanic voters were targeted by the California Republican Party, which hired uniformed security guards to demand identification from voters at polling places in predominantly Hispanic areas.

    1990: The North Carolina Senatorial race between Jesse Helms and Harvey Gantt was marred not only by an overtly racist pro-Helms ad but by a postcard sent out to voters in predominantly black districts the week before the election. The postcard implied that anyone who had moved within the past month would be arrested if they attempted to vote. Many African American voters who were unintimidated by the postcard faced stumbling blocks not often encountered in the predominantly white precincts, including broken machines, long lines, and openly hostile Republican "ballot security teams," who showed up at more than a dozen heavily black precincts.

    By the 1990s the GOP, firmly in the pocket of the religious right, barely bothered to hide the fact that they considered a low voter turnout desirable. Their efforts emphasized, not just energizing their own voting base, but ensuring that Democratic voters, black or white, stayed home. The fact that most American voters rejected the far right agenda embraced by the GOP could be sidestepped by almost literally boring much of the electorate into submission. As Pat Robertson wrote in his 1990 book, THE MILLENIUM, "With the apathy that exists today, a small, well-organized minority can influence the selection of candidates to an astonishing degree." Republican pollster Bill McInturff, put it more subtly when he said, "Politics is about two things: Mobilizing your voters, and not mobilizing the other side. Both are valid goals."

    For black and other minority Democrats, there were "ballot security teams."

    For white Democrats, the GOP ran stealth candidates who carefully downplayed aspects of their agenda (like significant connections with the religious right) that might mobilize votes against them. At the same time, they inflamed their own base with exaggerated rhetoric, painting moderates as liberals and liberals as leftists, and both as Godless enemies of America and all it represents. Aided by a press that could be trusted to play along and not ask important and complex questions, the far right succeeded in dumbing down political discourse so completely that the ideas that make a political race interesting and engaging were almost completely absent from any media coverage.

    The extent to which this desire for a low turnout can bleed into actual voter suppression was illustrated in a 1993 scandal in which both the media's and the GOP's blasé attitude about this tactic became briefly but embarrassingly apparent. Just after the election of Republican Christine Todd Whitman as governor of New Jersey, her political consultant Ed Rollins claimed at a journalists' breakfast to have, among other things, bribed key black poll workers to "sit and watch television" at home on election day.

    "I think to a certain extent we suppressed their vote " he boasted, adding context to a comment made after the election by Danny Todd and quoted in TIME Magazine. "That is where a lot of our effort went, and a lot of our planning, getting out the vote on one side and voter sup -- keeping the vote light in another."

    There was a brief public flurry that seemed to center as much on Rollins' indiscretion as on the fact that he'd admitted to suppressing the black vote. One unnamed breakfast attendee admitted to the Times, "Did we stand up in moral outrage, condemn him and throw food at him? No, we asked for details on how it was done."

    Apparently, few Democrats seriously considered the implications of what was happening. The GOP's increasing contempt for voters was ignored (perhaps, unfortunately, because much of it was shared by Democratic party leaders), as werethe anti-democratic, Christian Reconstructionist roots of the religious movement now controlling the Republican Party. In spite of growing evidence to the contrary, most leading Democrats continued to assume that the forces guiding the GOP had at least the same stake in our system of choosing leaders as they did.

    Then came the 2000 presidential election.

    All the elements of minority voter suppression were present -- a close race, machine malfunctions, intimidation, and a purge of voters. The difference in this case was that the stakes were higher, and the tactics so blatant that they affected not just minority voters but white citizens whose votes were among those simply not counted.

    The level of vituperation, even violence that erupted from some Republicans when the initial results of the election were challenged shocked Democrats. The profound contempt that drives voter suppression was no longer only experienced by minority voters, and liberal to moderate commentators were so flummoxed by the contrast between their own complacency about the voting process and what was actually happening that they struggled to find euphemisms to describe it. In his book TOO CLOSE TO CALL, for instance, Jeffrey Toobin describes the difference between Republicans and Democrats during the election as a "passion gap." There was plainly a difference, but "passion" is too benign a word for what was driving the GOP.

    Two years later, the exaggerated distrust political extremists hold or affect towards those who disagree was still undeniably visible in mainstream American politics and reflected in Republican rhetoric. "Democrats -- consider yourself on notice," one Republican Party Chairman was quoted in the Cleburn Alabama newspaper just before the 2002 election. "We will be lawfully and vigorously monitoring the election process in each county this fall. And if we catch you cheating, we will report you to the appropriate authorities for prosecution." The attitude revealed in this statement was echoed by early reports of voter intimidation that prompted Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe to issue a statement on October 29th, citing several cases. Paid staff for Senator Tim Hutchinson had to be forcibly removed for harassing early voters in Arkansas. In Florida, Democrats were contacted by anonymous telephone marketers telling them to cast their absentee ballots on November 10th instead of November 5. In Texas, a Republican poll worker was ordered out of a polling place for harassing elderly Hispanic voters.

    The most disturbing aspect of the 2002 election, however, were the strange voter swings that took place in states that relied heavily on the products of two of the private companies that manufacture voting machines.

    One of those private companies is Nebraska Based Election Systems and Software (ES&S), formerly known as American Information Systems. ES&S machines count over half of all the votes cast in this country. In Nebraska, they've counted almost all of the votes in the last two Senatorial elections, and in 1996, those votes elected Senator Chuck Hagel, ex-CEO of the company when it was known as American Information Systems and still owner of up to $5 million in the ES&S parent company, McCarthy Group.

    The Washington Post described his 1996 win as the biggest upset of the election season. This surprising trend continued into the 2002 election, when even predominantly black communities that normally do not support Republicans were recorded as part of the 80% who voted for Hagel. When Hagel's opponent, Charles Matulka, asked for a hand count in the December of 2002 on the grounds that several of the Nebraska ES&S machines had malfunctioned on election day, this bother was averted by the fact that Nebraska law, incredibly, prohibits an independent audit of the vote count.

    (It would endanger the confidentially of the corporate patent.)

    The other company is Diebold, whose machines are used in over half of our states and some Canadian provinces. In the 2002 mid-term elections, Diebold counted most of the votes in Georgia, where a Democratic governor and senator were defeated by Republican candidates in astonishing upsets.

    Several months later, in 2003, it was revealed that programmers for Diebold had posted sensitive company files on an unprotected web site, from which a program "patch" had been administered to over 22,000 touch screen voting machines in Georgia. Research conducted by activist Beverly Harris, author of Black Box Voting has uncovered deeply troubling discrepancies. The code used to count the votes and the patch apparently used to repair the software are unknown quantities, described in confusing and often contradictory terms by authorities within and outside of Diebold, and protected by a private corporation's need to guard its industry secrets. As in Nebraska, the lack of a verifiable paper trail and the use of a private company's voting machine has effectively eliminated the possibility of independently verifying the vote count.

    Diebold has in common with ES&S not only significant connections with the Republican party. (Wally O'Dell, its corporate chief. is a major contributor to the GOP) but actual blood relationships. Bob Urosevich, brother of Todd Urosevich (Vice President at ES&S), is in charge of Diebold's election division. Both brothers' entry into the vote counting business was funded by Howard Ahmanson, a Savings and Loan heir who served for over twenty years on the board of the Chalecedon Foundation, a Christian Reconstructionist organization that advocates, among other things, slavery and the death penalty for homosexuality and "blasphemy."

    Other strange 2002 election results connected to computerized voting could be found in Texas, where a victory for a Republican candidate was overturned when a hand count revealed that his supposedly significant win was a "glitch" by the optical scan tabulation. The winner was actually the Democratic candidate. In one county, three different Republican candidates won by exactly 18,181 votes (no recount was conducted.) And in Alabama, a victory for a Democratic candidate was overturned when it was announced that over 6,000 votes originally tabulated for him by ES&S machines had mysteriously vanished. Alabama's attorney general refused to authorize a recount.

    In spite of this, America's leadership seems intent on adopting touch-screen voting technology, with various states and communities rushing to put computerized systems in place before the next presidential election. Questions about the reliability of this technology are being blandly ignored by both liberal and conservative politicians and pundits, who invoke the horrors of election day "chaos" and react with impatience to anything that might interfere with making the election process as smooth as an oil slick. Why this weird myopia exists among those who control our public discourse is unclear and this close to a major election, really beside the point. It is up to the American people, while we still have the power, to make it plain that we will accept only an independently verifiable election process that arouses confidence in the voter.

    That IS what we want, isn't it?

    When a major political party is driven by a religious mindset in which allegiance to their "divine" political goals comes before allegiance to the constitution, no conscious conspiracy is necessary to put Democracy at serious risk. All that's required is that enough powerful men embrace this idea and act on it, secure in the belief that however strongly the voters might object, God will ultimately approve. Even in an America where dissent was not habitually equated by the current administration with disloyalty, where our president had been elected rather than appointed, and where there was no significant political movement linking social policy with religion, the notion of adopting a system of unverifiable voting would be grossly irresponsible. In our current reality, it borders on the irrational.

    We cannot allow voting to become an amiable fiction. Not if we love this country, and truly cherish the right to vote.
    I have no problem at all with being proved wrong. Especially when being proved wrong leaves the world a better place, than being proved right...

  • #2
    Keep it coming; always a good read.....
    "Have you forgotten the face of your father?"

    Comment


    • #3
      Ah, politics isn't the process they taught in the schools. It's all about power and money. You do whatever you can get away with in order to win. F**K ethics.
      "There is no great genius without some touch of madness."

      Seneca (5 BC - 65 AD)

      Comment


      • #4
        For those willing to dig a little deeper, this site shows the fight is on, to save our democratic heritage.

        www.blackboxvoting.com has Bev Harris' book available for free downloading in .pdf format

        Get the word out. Your rights are at stake.
        I have no problem at all with being proved wrong. Especially when being proved wrong leaves the world a better place, than being proved right...

        Comment


        • #5
          Before we get all high and mighty claiming the religious racists in the Republican Party are trying to stop minorities from voting, you should take a look at voter fraud problems in inner cities. Voter fraud is a huge problem perpetrated by the Democratic Party in inner cities. Where's your screaming on that. Election security is not a crime, it's a necessity.

          JFK won the Presidency because of voter fraud in Chicago. John Ashcroft lost his Senate seat because of voter fraud in St. Louis.

          Republicans don't push polling security because they want to suppress the black vote, they do it because Democrats systematically commit voter fraud.

          There are plenty of other ways to suppress the vote, and it's done by both sides, against all types of voters.

          And I speak from experience as a campaign manager for a lot of Republican candidates.

          I realize my Republican friends do a lot of stupid things, but before you start spewing that kind of crap get the story straight. Almost nothing you mentioned in your rant was illegal. Posting poll security is something both parties do.

          If your real issue is reliability of voting machines, I agree something needs to be done. But you're way off on the vote suppression rant.

          Comment


          • #6
            Here's a quick article for your to read.

            http://www.worldnetdaily.com/news/ar...TICLE_ID=15082

            A voter ID without being registered to vote. Can't imagine why Republicans would want poll security.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Scully
              Before we get all high and mighty claiming the religious racists in the Republican Party are trying to stop minorities from voting, you should take a look at voter fraud problems in inner cities. Voter fraud is a huge problem perpetrated by the Democratic Party in inner cities. Where's your screaming on that. Election security is not a crime, it's a necessity.

              JFK won the Presidency because of voter fraud in Chicago. John Ashcroft lost his Senate seat because of voter fraud in St. Louis.

              Republicans don't push polling security because they want to suppress the black vote, they do it because Democrats systematically commit voter fraud.

              There are plenty of other ways to suppress the vote, and it's done by both sides, against all types of voters.

              And I speak from experience as a campaign manager for a lot of Republican candidates.

              I realize my Republican friends do a lot of stupid things, but before you start spewing that kind of crap get the story straight. Almost nothing you mentioned in your rant was illegal. Posting poll security is something both parties do.

              If your real issue is reliability of voting machines, I agree something needs to be done. But you're way off on the vote suppression rant.
              I don't want to get too diverted from the title of the thread here, but...

              You do a good job of "Republican Style" campaigning here, and your experience shows.

              However, argumentive redirection and wedge politicking on the infamous exceptions like the young Guatemalen and "inner city" frauds won't divert my attentions from my main concern - electronic voting fraud.

              I realize that the originally quoted article built much of the case on voter suppression methods, as employed by the Republican Party. That does not imply (to me) that the Democrats have been any better historically. That only implies a very strong, and growing trend by the Republican Party in the recent past.

              However, all of those methods are rather visible and can be rather easily documented - when either side transgresses. Electronic Voting Fraud is my main concern. There is a huge push to get all voting to be made on these types of machines and there is NO way to audit most of these. It seems that we are in agreement with this, at least.
              I have no problem at all with being proved wrong. Especially when being proved wrong leaves the world a better place, than being proved right...

              Comment


              • #8
                My bad. I thought the article ended and we were into your commentary. Sorry about that. And hey, we do agree. When was the last time you agreed with a right winger like me?

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Scully
                  My bad. I thought the article ended and we were into your commentary. Sorry about that. And hey, we do agree. When was the last time you agreed with a right winger like me?
                  LoL...more often than you think.
                  I have no problem at all with being proved wrong. Especially when being proved wrong leaves the world a better place, than being proved right...

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Just keeping the thread alive with some choice quotes from the published email memos that Diebold is dying to keep you from seeing...

                    * I need some answers! Our department is being audited by the County. I have been waiting for someone to give me an explanation as to why Precinct 216 gave Al Gore a minus 16022 [votes] when it was uploaded. Will someone please explain this so that I have the information to give the auditor instead of standing here "looking dumb"

                    * For a demonstration I suggest you fake it. Progam them both so they look the same, and then just do the upload fro [sic] the AV. That is what we did in the last AT/AV demo.

                    * Right now you can open GEMS' .mdb file with MS-Access, and alter its contents. That includes the audit log. This isn't anything new.

                    * Elections are not rocket science. Why is it so hard to get things right! I have never been at any other company that has been so miss [sic] managed.

                    * Johnson County, KS will be doing Central Count for their mail in ballots. They will also be processing these ballots in advance of the closing of polls on election day. They would like to log into the Audit Log an entry for Previewing any Election Total Reports. They need this, to prove to the media, as well as, any candidates & lawyers, that they did not view or print any Election Results before the Polls closed. However, if there is a way that we can disable the reporting functionality, that would be even better.

                    C'mon folks...this is our democracy at stake here!
                    I have no problem at all with being proved wrong. Especially when being proved wrong leaves the world a better place, than being proved right...

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by JAMiAM
                      C'mon folks...this is our democracy at stake here!
                      I don't care. Just let me wave my flag and let me believe what I want to believe.

                      :flag:
                      "There is no great genius without some touch of madness."

                      Seneca (5 BC - 65 AD)

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Image vs Reality

                        Why America's plutocrats gobble up $1,500 hot dogs...

                        http://www.guardian.co.uk/internatio...077836,00.html
                        "There is no great genius without some touch of madness."

                        Seneca (5 BC - 65 AD)

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          "Why is it so hard to get things right!"

                          lol, it sounds like Diebold is run by a bunch of college kids in a CS program.
                          "Experience should teach us to be most on our guard to protect liberty when the government’s purposes are beneficent. Men born to freedom are naturally alert to repel invasion of their liberty by evil-minded rulers. The greatest dangers to liberty lurk in insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well-meaning but without understanding."

                          – Associate Justice Louis D. Brandeis, Olmstead vs. United States.

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