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11/09/2002 Entry: "Republican Manufactured Voting Machines Ivolved in Election Fraud"

EXPERTS: Republican Voting Machines, "Way-Off"

by Lynn Landes 11/8/02

"The Republicans will never give up their voting machines," said a top Republican party official to Charlie Matulka, the Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate seat in Nebraska. This statement was in response to Charlie's very public protest against the conflict-of-interest inherent in the candidacy of Senator Chuck Hagel (R-NE). Hagel has held top executive positions (and still has investments) in companies that owned the machines that counted the vote in Nebraska this election and last. 

Republicans dominate the voting machine business.
So, I expected the Republicans to take back the Senate... amid reports of voting machine "irregularities" in several states and polling results that didn't come close to election outcomes.  And with billions of dollars at stake, who could resist the temptation to tweak results? It's duck soup. 

Dr. Rebecca Mercuri, the nation's leading expert in voting machine technology, says, "Any programmer can write code that displays one thing on a screen, records something else, and prints yet another result." But they do make mistakes as we know from the multitude of reports in this election and past ones. Dr. Mercuri's real fear is that one day the "irregularities" will go away, as programmers learn their clandestine craft all too well.

Then how can we tell if the "fix was in?"  An examination of exit polling and pre-election polling versus election results could raise a few red flags. We can't use Voter News Service (VNS) this year. VNS is a top-secret private consortium owned by ABC News, The Associated Press, CBS News, CNN, Fox News, and NBC News that has "projected" election night winners since 1964. VNS collapsed camp on election day due to technical problems... they said. Or was it the glare of publicity since the 2000 presidential election that brought the charade to an end? Questions have been
raised since its inception, that VNS was a cover for election day vote rigging or other shenanigans. And it was strange that when VNS management made its announcement on Tuesday, they didn't make a big deal over how the shutdown affected the 64,000 temporary employees they claim they hired for this election. Anyway, that leaves us with pre-election polling to ponder. An intensive effort to review and interpret that data is currently underway by Bev Harris and her staff at Talion.com.|

Meanwhile, I called John Zogby of the highly respected Zogby International. I asked him if over the years he had noticed increased variation between pre-election predictions and election results.  Zogby said that he didn't notice any big problems until this year. Things were very different this time. "I blew Illinois. I blew Colorado (and Georgia). And never in my life did I get New Hampshire wrong...but I blew that too." Or did he?

This year might instead be a repeat of the 2000 presidential election, when the polls accurately predicted the winner (Gore), but the voting system in Florida collapsed under the weight of voting machine failure, election day chicanery, and outright disenfranchisement of thousands of black voters by Republican state officials. And for those who believed that the new election reform law does anything to protect the security of your vote...think again. The federal standards to be developed and implemented as a result of the new law
will be VOLUNTARY. What Congress really did was to throw $2.65 billion dollars at the states, so that they could lavish it on a handful of private companies that are controlled by ultra-conservative Republicans, foreigners, and felons.

Let's take a moment to look back rather than forward. In the last several decades the rich have gotten richer and the poor poorer. This is not a formula for a conservative groundswell. Yet both conservative Democrats and right wing Republicans have long enjoyed success at the polls. While, most of Europe still uses paper ballots, voting machines have been in America since 1889. The use of computers in voting technology began around 1964. Today, less than 2% of the American electorate use hand-counted paper ballots. The question is...have elections in America been rigged to slowly, but surely shift power to the right? In the
secretive world of voting machine companies, anything is possible. The sad fact is that the legitimacy of government in the United States will remain in question as long as over 98% of the vote is tabulated by machines that can be easily rigged, impossible to audit, and owned by a handful of private companies. 
we get rid of those voting machines, democracy in America may be a distant memory.

Lynn Landes is a freelance journalist specializing in environment and election issues on www.EcoTalk.org. Lynn's been a radio show host, a regular commentator for a BBC radio program,
and news reporter for DUTV in Philadelphia, PA. 

Lynn Landes, 217 S. Jessup Street,
Philadelphia, PA 19107

(215) 629-3553 / (215) 629-1446 (FAX)


Viewer Commentary: 18 comments

Can there be any doubt? Of course the election was fixed, but there are ways to circumvent the e-fraud perpetrated on us. Say, for instance, a large "toteboard" type screen were incorporated into the process, never displaying individual voter identity or other info, but simply displaying so many votes for candidate X. This board would be either within sight of all the voters or linked by simple CCTV to monitors in each booth, to ensure your vote was tabulated correctly. Voters would be free to photograph the toteboard ONLY, at any time during the voting process, to prove that the results reported accurately reflect the votes cast. Can't hack around that, provided the machines aren't hooked up to a central server. Simple, isn't it?

Posted by A REAL American @ 11/09/2002 03:24 AM EST

So much dark stuff going on on so many levels/fronts that it is difficult to know which battles to fight--but perhaps voting reform as sugested by A REAL American or some other means of ensuring that the votes of the people determine the 2004 elections would be a cause-- for all of us who care--to unite behind. Electing the members of our government by direct representation IS the core of democracy. That gives us two years--we may not have that much time--but maybe we will. I hope and pray so.
Peace, Kathleen

Posted by Kathleen Beatty @ 11/09/2002 06:05 AM EST

Kathleen, my prayers are with yours, but we may not have the time to prepare, given the speed at which the government can move (now there's an oxymoron). It may come to a point where answering violence with violence will be the only answer available. So, when the jackboots pound the pavement, and when the sound of gunshots and the screams of the tortured are bieng heard, it will be time to test our love for our country, not our government, and fight, and possibly die for what you believe. This will be the greatest test of ourselves that can be imagined, many will fail. I've been there once before, long ago, and I know I passed that test. Let's hope and pray with all our hearts that it never comes to that, but as Thomas Jefferson once said, "The tree of liberty must, from time to time, be refreshened by the blood of patriots". God be with us.

Posted by A REAL American @ 11/09/2002 11:04 AM EST

An election? A quorum was not present! A constitutional amendment should be adopted that requires 2/3 of all registered voters must vote or the election is nullified.

Posted by north wind @ 11/09/2002 05:05 PM EST

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Posted by The Truth Is Where You Find It @ 11/10/2002 02:13 AM EST

Why not get a little slip of paper that prints off your vote, like the receipt you get when you gas up your car with a credit card.

Then you just drop the slip in an "iron-clad lockbox" after you check the accuracy of the vote.

Now there's a paper trail that can be checked against the electronic results at practically anytime in the process.

Posted by mistertrickster @ 11/10/2002 11:08 AM EST

Why not get a little slip of paper that prints off your vote, like the receipt you get when you gas up your car with a credit card.

Then you just drop the slip in an "iron-clad lockbox" after you check the accuracy of the vote.

Now there's a paper trail that can be checked against the electronic results at practically anytime in the process.

Posted by mistertrickster @ 11/10/2002 11:09 AM EST

Stop blaming voting booths.

Democrats lost because they didn't have a message to rally their constituency. All they did was cry "Republicans bad, Republicans bad" but they never bothered to introduce any of their own ideas to give people a reason to come out and vote for them.

Also, the Wellstone memorial/rally didn't help their cause. It made them appear desperate, partisan and extremely tacky.

Posted by My 2 Cents @ 11/10/2002 01:53 PM EST

What's wrong with proclaiming your slain leader's cause at his funeral? This concoction was part of the whole smokescreen to steal Wellstone's seat.

Posted by MadAsHell @ 11/10/2002 03:53 PM EST

They worry about Wellstone's Funeral! How about raising some hell about his murder!

Posted by The Truth @ 11/10/2002 05:00 PM EST

Big Brother should be challenged on the provisions in the Constitution for a secret ballot.

Posted by eric swan @ 11/10/2002 06:24 PM EST

I have helped with the elections in Canada for about 30 years. And I cannot understand why in US do we need such an elaborate system of computers, if it is not to perpetrate a giant fraud on the people of US.
In Canada we use a simple paper balot, where a voter marks his choice of candidates and drops it into a box. Within two hours after closing the balots the results are phoned in to the central vote consolidation place. And the spoiled balots, the ones containing more than the required number of ticks are simply not counted.

The balots are kept in storage for a required period and can be recounted at any time!

Posted by Alex Seredin @ 11/10/2002 09:08 PM EST

I have to say that I had my doubts about this article, so I did a little research on Dr. Mercuri and I found a page where she stated why she was opposed to electronic voting and I have to say that it has made me think twice about just shrugging off the whole election last Tuesday. I'll past some of what she said (you can find it at http://www.notablesoftware.com/RMstatement.html if you want to see it):

Rebecca Mercuri's Statement on Electronic Voting
Copyright Đ 2001 by Rebecca Mercuri All Rights Reserved.
mercuri@acm.org http://www.notablesoftware.com

I am adamantly opposed to the use of any fully electronic or Internet-based systems for use in anonymous balloting and vote tabulation applications. The reasons for my opposition are manyfold, and are expressed in my writings as well as those of other well-respected computer security experts. To briefly summarize my opinion (based on a decade of research) on this matter I state the following:

* Fully electronic systems do not provide any way that the voter can truly verify that the ballot cast corresponds to that being recorded, transmitted, or tabulated. Any programmer can write code that displays one thing on a screen, records something else, and prints yet another result. There is no known way to ensure that this is not happening inside of a voting system.

* Electronic balloting systems without individual print-outs for examination by the voters, do not provide an independent audit trail (despite manufacturer claims to the contrary). As all voting systems (especially electronic) are prone to error, the ability to also perform a manual hand-count of the ballots is essential.

* No electronic voting system has been certified to even the lowest level of the U.S. government or international computer security standards (such as the ISO Common Criteria or its predecessor, TCSEC/ITSEC), nor has any been required to comply with such. Hence, no current electronic voting system has been verified as secure.

* There are no required standards for voting displays, so computer ballots can be constructed to be as confusing (or more) than the butterfly used in Florida, giving advantage to some candidates over others.

* Electronic balloting and tabulation makes the tasks performed by poll workers, challengers, and election officials purely procedural, and removes any opportunity to perform bipartisan checks. Any computerized election process is thus entrusted to the small group of individuals who program, construct and maintain the machines.

* Although convicted felons and foreign citizens are prohibited from voting in U.S. elections (in many states), there are no such laws regarding voting system manufacturers, programmers and administrative personnel. Felons and foreigners can (and do!) work at and even own some of the voting machine companies providing equipment to U.S. municipalities.

* Encryption provides no assurance of privacy or accuracy of ballots cast. Cryptographic systems, even strong ones, can be cracked or hacked, thus leaving the ballot contents along with the identity of the voter open to perusal. One of the nation's top cryptographers, Bruce Schneier, has recently expressed his concerns on this matter, and has recommended that no computer voting system be adopted unless it also provides a physical paper ballot perused by the voter and used for recount and verification.

* Internet voting (whether at polling places or off-site) provides avenues of system attack to the entire planet. If the major software manufacturer in the USA could not protect their own company from an Internet attack, one must understand that voting systems (created by this firm or others) will be no better (and probably worse) in terms of vulnerability.

* Off-site Internet voting creates unresolvable problems with authentication, leading to possible loss of voter privacy, vote-selling, and coersion. Furthermore, this form of voting does not provide equal access for convenient balloting by all citizens, especially the poor, those in rural areas not well served by Internet service providers, the elderly, and certain disabled populations. For these reasons, off-site Internet voting systems should not be used for any government election.

It is a known fact that the computer industry does not have the capability, at present, to assure a safe, reliable election using only electronic devices. Thorough investigation of vendor claims (such as those performed by New York City on DRE products), and failures of performance in actual elections, have demonstrated the existence of major flaws. Communities that rely on promises of security and accuracy when purchasing such systems, run the severe risk that they will administer an election whose results may someday be contested -- but they will not be able to provide an independent audit which can ascertain the content of the true ballots cast. In short, Florida all over again. Even worse, system defects may be revealed years after an election, making all earlier results questionable.

It is therefore incumbent upon all concerned with elections to REFRAIN from procuring ANY system that does not provide an indisputable paper ballot which can be checked by the voter visually before deposit and used by the election board in the case of recount.
------end of quote.

If you are anything like me and know a bit about computers, especially computer security, you will see just how alarming some of this can be and how there are a lot of possibilities for fraud. Foreign nationals working on the balloting software? No security certification? No paper trail?

Bruce Schneier has weighed in on this as well (and he is to cryptography and electronic security what Chuck Yeager was to modern flight). His thoughts are at http://www.counterpane.com/crypto-gram-0012.html and he also refers to Dr. Mercuri's work, which is a pretty good nod to her.

Anyway, to anyone who might be thinking along the lines of "oh, they know what they are doing with the new machines and they should be able to work" or "there is probably no way to hack those things since they are not hooked up to the net" or whatever other uninformed bullshit you hear talk show hosts (and always remember that talk shows are there to entertain-- not inform) like Limbaugh are saying, think again. People that live and breathe this technology (Schneier) and people that have written their dissertations on electronic voting (Dr. Mercuri) have weighed in on this and have flatly stated that the whole system is flawed and subject to abuse.

Posted by Paul S. @ 11/11/2002 08:28 AM EST

FYI in NC 2 seperate voting places had a glitch that did not count any of the straight republican party votes. Once it was corrected the result had to be changed. Could you people be any more paranoid. The Dems have been rigging elections for years. Dead people have been voting for dems for years. How about Gore disenfranchising military absentee ballots. And how about the Dems sending all the attorneys to the polling sites, do you think for a minute that if there was any funny business it wouldn't be all over the news. Remember, you Libs control the mainstreem media. You lost because people believe the President. Get over it!

Posted by pbc @ 11/11/2002 10:10 AM EST

pbc, you moronic Limbaugh-parroting bastard, this doesn't have to do with fraud. This has everything to do with the fact that privacy and anonymity is not guaranteed on these machines, there are no standards of security on these machines, and that this "trust us" mentality from the voting machine companies simply does not wash.

And don't make it sound like voting fraud was unilateral or anything. Republicans have had their share of vote fraud for years and years, going all the way back to the Reconstruction era.

Read the information and stop parroting the crap that you hear on talk radio. Start thinking for yourself and start looking into the facts and you will see that the facts just do not show the voting computer machines to be a very well implemented idea.

Posted by Paul S. @ 11/11/2002 01:56 PM EST

PBC I used to feel bad about people like you. But over the years I have leraned that people like you apparently must get some kind of wired high or sexual pleasure by being an moronic idiotic human-type. So for those out there who still have the capacity to think: look at the facts, this election was fixed from top to bottom.

Posted by JP @ 11/13/2002 09:13 AM EST

attempted post

Posted by leo @ 11/16/2002 09:48 AM EST


How do you post on your other pages? I canīt post any comments.

Posted by Rob @ 11/23/2002 01:40 AM EST

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