How the GOP Flipped and Stripped Yet Another American Election
20 November 16
illary Clinton has won the popular vote in the 2016 presidential election by well over a million votes.
But her impending defeat in the Electoral College comes with familiar signs that yet another American election has been stripped and flipped.
This article presents a comprehensive overview of how it was done, and a brief summary of how our electoral system needs to be changed to make sure it doesn’t happen again.
The primary indicators of the massive election theft are by now familiar. They include the realities of pre- and post-election polling; the massive stripping of primarily black, Hispanic, Muslim and Asian-American voters from computer-generated registration rolls mostly maintained by private, partisan companies; unverifiable “black box” electronic voting machines and central tabulators, also mostly manufactured and maintained by private corporations; and much more.
Were this election held in any other country, the US State Department and independent monitors from around the world would denounce it as a fraud and contemplate international intervention.
What follows only begins to scratch the surface:
The Electoral College
Much is finally being said about the Electoral College, with new popular demands for its abolition. Clinton is about to become the sixth presidential candidate to win a legitimate majority but lose the presidency. It also happened in 1800, 1824, 1876, 1888, and 2000. Nearly 15% of our 45 presidents have been “selected” with the denial of the public will through an institution established in large part to enhance the power of slaveowners.
In February, 2013, at progressive.org, we joined the multitudes throughout our history in calling for the Electoral College’s abolition:
It will take a Constitutional Amendment, and a hell of a lot of work, to abolish this corrupt anachronism. But unless we want to see an endless succession of George W. Bushes in the White House, something had better be done – and quick.
The consequences of inaction are all too clear.
Computerized Jim Crow Stripping of Voter Registration Rolls
US elections have been defined throughout history by a divide-and-conquer strategy of racial manipulation. As we outline in our new Strip & Flip Death of American Democracy(freepress.org/solartopia.org): chattel slavery, the Constitution’s “three-fifths bonus,” Jim Crow segregation, third world imperial conquest, and the Drug War have all played a role in denying African-American/Hispanic/Asian-American citizens their right to vote. From the foundation of the Republic, this disenfranchisement has defined the balance of power.
In recent years, the disenfranchisement has been most importantly done by the Republican Party, and by computer. As investigative reporter Greg Palast has shown in his book/movie The Best Democracy Money Can Buy (www.gregpalast.com), in 2000 Florida governor Jeb Bush used a program called ChoicePoint to strip more than 90,000 predominantly black and Hispanic citizens from the voter registration rolls in an election decided by 537 votes. The pretext was alleged felony convictions. The selection was “won” by Bush’s brother George W., although a full recount (which was stopped 5-4 by the US Supreme Court in its infamous Bush v. Gore decision) would have given Al Gore the majority in Florida, and in the Electoral College.
As we have reported from Columbus, in 2004 more than 300,000 predominantly urban citizens were stripped from the voter registration rolls in an election the GOP won by 118,775. A quarter of all voters in heavily Democratic Cleveland were de-registered. Ohio’s ill-gotten electoral votes gave George W. Bush a second term. This became the only time in US history an entire state’s Electoral College delegation was challenged on the floor of the US Congress.
This year, Palast has reported that a new program called Crosscheck has been used by some 30 GOP secretaries of state to strip more than 1.1 million predominantly black, Hispanic, Islamic, and Asian-American citizens from the voter rolls.
Originating with far-right Republican Kris Kobach, Kansas’s secretary of state, Crosscheck eliminated more than enough minority voters in at least three swing states to flip the entire presidential election.
Palast has reported that Ohio’s GOP secretary of state Jon Husted also used Crosscheck to eliminate some 497,000 mostly black, Latino, and African-American citizens from the voter rolls in Ohio, falsely accusing them of registering in more than one state. Such eliminations went on throughout the US.
According to Reuters, over the past five years Husted himself has stripped some two million citizens from the voter rolls in Ohio, even without Crosscheck, with Democratic areas twice as likely to be stripped as Republican ones. Reuters writers Andy Sullivan and Grant Smith point out that the neighborhoods that most heavily backed President Obama lost the most voters. In heavily Democratic Cleveland, Columbus, and Cincinnati, they report, Democrat-leaning areas were purged at twice the rate as Republican ones.
The mass disenfranchisement also impacted races for the US Senate. If not for the usual “irregularities,” at least four Democrats would likely have won seats (in Florida, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Missouri) that they officially lost. Similar results are evident from 2014 Senate races in North Carolina, Colorado and Alaska. Thus in the past two years, mass disenfranchisement and computerized vote stripping may well have flipped seven Upper House seats from the Democrats to the GOP.
Thus the electronic race-based stripping of voter rolls in the GOP’s favor has probably on its own taken to the far right the presidency, control of the US Senate, and ultimately the US Supreme Court.
It should be noted that out of disgust with Donald Trump, the GOP multi-billionaire Koch Brothers shifted much of their massive financial weight from the presidential race to Congressional and other “down-ballot contests,” where these key Senate seats and others in the US House and state governments were almost certainly impacted.
Traditional Jim Crow Stripping of Voter Registration Rolls
Alongside computerized techniques, the Republicans have effectively deployed still more traditional Jim Crow tactics to strip black/Hispanic/Asian-American/Muslim citizens of their ability to vote, many of which have been delineated in the New York Times.
In part these include: demands for photo ID, elimination of polling places, narrowing time frames in which citizens can vote, deliberate distribution of misinformation about voting requirements, non-counting of provisional ballots, failure to send out absentee ballots, intimidation and widespread confusion at polling places, and much more.
Throughout the corporate media, the obligatory hand-wringing about a drop in voter turnout invariably avoids the obvious cause of race-based restrictions that make it harder to vote, selective limitations on when citizens can vote, and targeted reductions in where they can vote.
In its 2013 Shelby County vs. Holder decision, the US Supreme Court gutted protections provided by the 1965 Voting Rights Act, opening the floodgates for such Jim Crow abuse throughout the electoral system.
Numerous reports indicate that citizens were often confronted with photo ID requirements even where they were voided by the courts. As in Ohio 2004, reports indicate many citizens were directed by official websites to polling places that did not actually exist. This year Ohio secretary of state Jon Husted failed to distribute more than 1,050,000 absentee ballot applications to citizens entitled to them.Husted also waged a relentless war against early voting periods, such as “souls to the polls” Sundays, that encouraged African-Americans to vote. He also worked hard to strip out polling stations from urban areas.
In Wisconsin, which Trump allegedly carried by about 27,000 votes, some 300,000 registered voters lacked required photo ID. According to Ari Berman’s “Did the Republicans Rig the Election?” appearing in The Nation, Wisconsin’s turnout was the lowest in two decades. That includes a drop of 52,000 in heavily African-American Milwaukee, nearly twice Trump’s margin of victory in the entire state.
According to a report by Richard Hayes Philips, extremely high turnouts for Trump in rural areas of Wisconsin “are not credible.” Among other things, the vote counts in five Republican towns exceed the number of registered voters. (www.freepress.org)
On election day, media throughout the US reported the kinds of mass delays and confusion that defined the elections of 2000 and 2004. According to Berman, there were 868 fewer polling stations in Arizona, Texas, and North Carolina alone, accompanied by a notable drop in African-American turnouts. According to Berman, 14 states imposed new restrictions on voting. Three of them – Wisconsin, Indiana and Ohio – were never before under federal Voting Rights Act supervision.
Said The New York Times: “Voters nationwide endured long waits in line, malfunctioning voting machines, ill-informed poll workers and a litany of lesser annoyances on Tuesday with scattered reports that some voters gave up trying to cast ballots.”
David Becker, the Executive Director of the Center for Election Innovation, told the Times, “There are scattered indications of machine breakdowns that are being addressed.”
A typical description has been provided by Steven Rosenfeld, writing at Alternet about the “Democratic epicenter” in Durham County, North Carolina:
the state’s voter registration database and e-poll books tied into it were down, prompting long lines, delays and necessitating people fill out provisional ballots. The data was also scrambled, with voter rolls in the wrong locations, people tagged as voting when they had not, and people not on lists even though they had their state registration cards.
In an editorial the day after the election, the Times lamented that in North Carolina “The state’s Republican Party issued a news release boasting that cutbacks in early voting hours reduced black turnout by 8.5% below 2012 levels, even as the numbers of white early voters increased by 22.5%.”
Throughout the US, voters with “problems” in their registration are routinely given provisional ballots, which are allegedly to be counted later. But the forms are often impossibly complex, with poll workers often failing to count them at the sight of a single minor error, such as writing below a line, omitting a middle initial, failing to include a birthday and much more. Ohio secretary of state Husted won the right from the US Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals to not count provisional ballots that contain a minor mistake. Thus tens of thousands of provisional ballots have been routinely left uncounted, unbeknownst to the voters. More than 115,000 provisional and “spoiled” ballots from Ohio’s 2004 election remain uncounted.
Often absurd discrepancies have become normalized. In 2004 hundreds of mostly Democratic Native Americans allegedly cast ballots on their New Mexico reservations without signifying a choice for president. This year in North Carolina, Trump and the GOP’s US Senate candidate allegedly won by nearly 200,000 votes while the incumbent Republican governor was allegedly defeated (he’s demanding a recount). In Michigan, tens of thousands of voters allegedly filled out their entire ballots but somehow left the presidential choice vacant in a race essentially too close to call.
In the lead-up to November 8, pre-election polls strongly indicated a Clinton victory. Post-election exit polls showed her winning as well, most critically in the swing states whose Electoral College votes could have given her the presidency.
Exit polls are the accepted international standard for indications of election fraud and vote tampering. Eric Bjornlund and Glenn Cowan’s 2011 pamphlet “Vote Count Verification: a User’s Guide for Funders, Implementers and Stakeholders” was done under the auspices of Democracy International for the US Agency for International Development (USAID). It outlines how exit polling is used to ensure free and fair elections.
It adds that “U.S-funded organizations have sponsored exit polls as part of democracy assistance programs in Macedonia (2005), Afghanistan (2004), Ukraine (2004), Azerbaijan (2005), the West Bank and Gaza Strip (2005), Lebanon (2005), Kazakhstan (2005), Kenya (2005, 2007), and Bangladesh (2009), among other places.”
In countries like Germany and Switzerland, which use hand-counted paper ballots, exit polls are accurate to a margin error of less than 1%.
Here the 2016 exit polls were paid for by a major corporate media consortium, as has been standard practice for years. Here they are designed to reflect the actual vote count within a 2% margin of error nationally.
But in the US, if exit polls don’t agree with official vote counts, they are regularly “adjusted” to conform to official results, no matter how implausible. This makes fraudulent elections appear legitimate.
During this year’s Republican primaries, unadjusted exit polls confirmed official vote counts in all cases. In the Democratic primaries, unadjusted exit polls significantly varied from the official outcome in 12 of 26 primaries. All the errors went in Hillary Clinton’s favor in her race against Bernie Sanders. This is a virtual statistical impossibility and suggests a rigged vote count.
In the general election against Donald Trump, things went the other way. In 24 of 28 states, unadjusted exit polls also showed Clinton with vote counts significantly higher than the final official outcome. The likelihood of this happening in an election that is not rigged are in the realm of virtual statistical impossibility.
In fact, based on the exit polls, the odds against such an unexplained “Trump Shift” are one in 13,110 presidential elections.
For example, Ohio’s exit polls showed Trump and Clinton in a dead heat – 47 percent for Clinton to 47.1 for Trump. Officially, Trump won with 52.1 percent of the vote to Clinton’s 43.5 percent. This unexplained and unexpected 8.5 percent shift for Trump is mathematically impossible.
The exit polls also showed Clinton winning in Florida.But an unaccounted for 2.5 percent shift to Trump gave him a victory that was a virtual statistical impossibility. Similar numbers abide in Pennsylvania and North Carolina.
Given the prevalence of other Jim Crow tactics, it’s likely the exit polls were impacted by non-white voters in all the key swing states who were given provisional ballots (or they voted electronically) leading them to believe their votes were being counted, even though they were not.
In key Senate races in Florida, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Missouri, exit polls also showed Democratic candidates winning by statistically significant margins, but then losing the official vote count.
In 2014, Senate races in North Carolina, Colorado, and Alaska ended with exit polls also showing Democratic Senate candidates winning the popular vote, while ultimately losing the official vote count. The odds against this happening in two consecutive elections that are not rigged are also astronomical.
The tendency of such official outcomes to slide to the GOP after showing “blue” for Democrats in the exit polls is more fully documented by Jon Simon in his definitive book CODE RED. Simon coined the phrase “Red Shift” and discusses what has once again become a dominant factor in a presidential election claimed by the Republicans at OpEdNews.
The vast majority of the popular votes in this election nationwide were cast on either computerized touch-screen electronic machines, or on Scantron ballots that are counted by computer. In neither case are there public monitoring capabilities or legal recourse for vote counts that are flipped.
In 2016, as in all previous US elections at least since 2000, the electronic vote count remains anyone’s guess. In states with a governor and secretary of state from the same party, the final tally can be whatever they want it to be.
Such techniques were used in Florida 2000 and Ohio 2004 to strip voter rolls and flip George W. Bush into the White House. More than 90,000 black/Hispanic voters were disenfranchised by Gov. Jeb Bush (George’s brother) in a Florida election officially decided by 537 votes. More than 300,000 primarily black/Hispanic voters were stripped from voter rolls in an Ohio 2004 election officially decided by 118,775.
In Florida’s 2000 presidential election, 16,000 votes cast for Gore in Volusia County were electronically subtracted and 4,000 were credited to Bush, giving him a leg up on the evening’s vote count. This caused Fox News commentator John Ellis (Bush’s first cousin) to call the election for the GOP.
In Ohio 2004, John Kerry was shown winning the election by 4.2%, more than 200,000 votes, at12:20 a.m. Then the electronic vote count ceased. At2 a.m.,a Bush lead began to emerge, somehow reaching 2.5%. The 6.7% flip is a virtual statistical impossibility.
All of this was done by private contractors working for the company SmarTech, based in Chattanooga, Tennessee. The key information technology specialist in charge of the vote count was Michael Connell, an Akron-based associate of the Bush family, who was hired by the Ohio secretary of state with a no-bid contract to supervise the state’s official vote count. Connell later died in a mysterious plane crash after being deposed in federal court.
Computer “Black Box Voting” specialist Bev Harris, who uncovered the electronic vote flipping in Florida 2000, has warned this year that a method of “fractionated voting” could have been easily used to manipulate electronic vote counts. The manipulation could be done by secretaries of state in conjunction with partisan for-profit corporations in ways that are virtually impossible to detect, and simply not open to legal challenge. According to Harris, this “fraction magic,” used in counties’ central tabulators, could have flipped hundreds of thousands of votes.
In Ohio this year, a new generation of electronic vote scanning machines makes it possible to retrieve electronic images of ballots that have been cast on paper in the order that they were cast. These machines come with an audit log that would detect any illegitimate vote changes by central tabulators.
But Secretary of State Husted opted to allow local election boards to leave both security functions – the audit log and the image scanners – turned off. Co-author Bob Fitrakis sued in the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas to have the monitoring functions turned on. But Judge David Cain ruled on Election Day that the election officials need not turn on those security features, leaving the public with no way to monitor the outcome. (A similar lawsuit filed in Arizona by election protection activist John Brakey actually succeeded.)
Such problems are built into the system nationwide. In Pennsylvania, for example, Rosenfeld reports that “16 counties are still using aging countywide tabulators which” are easily hacked and “use old versions of Microsoft operating systems, which have security vulnerabilities that have never been fixed.”
Throughout the US, including the swing states that will decide the presidential outcome in the Electoral College and states that have increased the GOP margin in the US Senate, the entire vote count remains an electronic mystery.
VR Systems, based in Tallahassee, handles registration records in Florida and more than a dozen other states. It was hacked prior to the election, possibly by Russians. Indeed, much finger-pointing against alleged Russian electronic intruders still goes on. But there are more than enough open portals into our electronic voting system to let domestic hackers easily flip an election.
Sources cited by Rosenfeld say Clinton won only those Wisconsin counties with paper ballots, while losing those with a mix of paper and machine voting by 1-2%, and those with only machines only by 10-15%.
Those results echo outcomes in New Mexico 2004, where Kerry won all precincts with hand-counted paper ballots and lost all those with machines, a reality he personally noted in a post-election conference call.
Millions of dollars would be required to do meaningful recounts in states like Wisconsin, which may well have legitimately gone for Clinton and chosen a Democratic US Senator. Michigan’s 4,800 precincts could cost up to $125 each to recount. The impact of such recounts, even if they show Clinton winning, would then be up for grabs.
So did the GOP strip and flip the 2016 election?
Let’s count the ways:
There is no doubt that Hillary Clinton won America’s popular vote by more than a million votes.
That popular vote victory will be reversed in an Electoral College originally designed to enhance the power of slaveowners and now being used for the sixth time to deny the White House to the rightful winner.
There is no doubt that more than enough black, Hispanic, Islamic and Asian-Americans were electronically stripped from the voter registration rolls by Crosscheck and other means to have given Clinton victories in those swing states that would have swung the Electoral College in her favor.
There is no doubt additional Jim Crow tactics meant to further disenfranchise black/Hispanic/Asian-American voters – such as stripping away voting times and precincts, denial of absentee ballots, non-counting of provisional ballots, and much more – stripped Clinton of hundreds of thousands of additional legitimate votes.
There is no doubt exit polls showed her winning in more than enough states to have given her a victory in the Electoral College. They also indicated a seven-seat swing in the US Senate in 2014 and 2016, more than enough to give the GOP control of the US Supreme Court.
There is no doubt that the election was largely conducted on electronic machines, and with electronically-counted Scantron ballots that are completely beyond public accountability. These voting machines are run on secret, proprietary corporate software to which the public is not allowed access.
As in 2000 and 2004, the actual final vote count once again resides in black box machines controlled by private corporations, GOP governors, and secretaries of state, whose ability to easily hack and flip the official outcome cannot be monitored or brought to accountability. In at least one state (Ohio) the GOP took legal action to prevent the public from gaining potential access to the electronic vote count … and won!
There is also no doubt that had this election been conducted as it was in virtually any other country, the civilized world would have denounced it as completely unreliable and almost certainly false. Had it been in our “national interest” to do so, American troops would have poured in to “restore democracy” after such an obviously rigged charade.
Throughout the campaign, GOP candidate Trump cleverly complained of a “rigged election.” He continually warned of innumerable non-whites and Muslims voting multiple times for Hillary Clinton.
Of course the opposite happened. Hundreds of thousands of non-white citizens were systematically denied their right to vote. Since even that wasn’t enough to elect Donald Trump, the Electoral College will once again deny democracy. And thanks to the dark magic of electronic voting machines, we will never really know 2016’s true vote count.
Today’s most tangible tragedy is what may soon unfold in this country.
But the underlying nightmare is that this has been done before, that we’ve known about stripped and flipped elections for at least sixteen years, and that nothing has been done.
If anything, due to the spread of electronic voting machines, our electoral system is more corrupt and less accountable than it was in 2000, when the GOP first stripped and flipped George W. Bush into the White House.
We advocate universal automatic voter registration, transparent voter rolls, a four-day national holiday for voting, universal hand-counted paper ballots, abolition of the Electoral College, an end to gerrymandering, a ban on corporate money in politics.
There’s much more. But until we win those basics, democracy in America is an illusion … as is our chance to survive on this planet.
Bob Fitrakis & Harvey Wasserman are co-authors of the upcoming The Strip & Flip Disaster of America’s Stolen Elections: Five Jim Crows & Electronic Election Theft. at www.freepress.org andwww.solartopia.org, where Bob’s Fitrakis Files and Harvey’s Solartopia! Our Green-powered Earth are also available.
Critical charts from Ron Baiman are also available at http://columbusfreepress.com/article/did-gop-strip-flip-2016-selection.
Special thanks to Lori Grace and Mimi Kennedy.
Reader Supported News is the Publication of Origin for this work. Permission to republish is freely granted with credit and a link back to Reader Supported News.
OpEdNews Op Eds
Intro to Election Theft in America
Are votes in American elections being counted fairly and accurately? In an open democracy worthy of the name, this should not be a question for forensic science, but in 21st century America, that’s just what it is. The United States is unique in the developed world in counting votes with proprietary software that has been ruled a trade secret, not open to inspection, even by local officials whose responsibility it is to administer elections. As we have learned, there is stiff resistance to looking at the ballots with human eyes which might offer a check on the computers. So we are left looking at statistics and anecdotes, trying to determine whether vote counts are honest and reliable. The evidence does not inspire confidence. But whatever you think of the evidence, there is no justification for a system without the possibility of public verification.
Part 1: Background
Since the 2004 election, I have been a statistician in the election integrity movement, a loose network of journalists, academics, lawyers, and interested citizens who share information about problems in America’s electoral system, and try to bring our findings to legislators and the press.
But neither major party in the U.S. is interested in questioning the vote counts that maintain them in office. From one perspective, this is not surprising, since they are the incumbents, who, by definition, have done well under the existing system.
From another vantage, however, it is puzzling that the Democrats have not made an issue of the present system, because there is evidence that, in the 21st century, it is overwhelmingly Republicans that have benefited from the nation’s shaky electoral machinery. There is a long and sordid history of vote theft in America, going back to the Colonial era; from Jim Crow to strong-arm union tactics to ballot box stuffing, all sides have worked the system to their own advantage, wherever they felt they could get away with it.
For example, in 1948, Lyndon Johnson overcame a 20,000-vote deficit to win the Democratic primary by 87 votes after supporters “found” a box of votes — alphabetized and using the same handwriting and the same ink — all cast for him. NYTimes Review of vol 2 of Robert Caro’s 3-volume biography of LBJ
But the dynamic fundamentally shifted after the Help America Vote Act of 2002 mandated nationwide computerization. No longer has it been necessary to steal one vote at a time; with a few lines of software, the vote count can in theory be tilted in whole regions of the country, tilting the vote count to any desired degree, limited only by the public’s willingness to question the plausibility of the outcome. There are strong indications that this has occurred and that skewing of the vote count is so commonplace that the methodology of professional pollsters has been adjusted to adapt to it with their weighting algorithms. Polling companies calibrate their predictive success by using the officially reported vote counts as an unquestioned point of reference. Political polling has adopted a generally Republican tilt. [documented by Jonathan Simon]
Between the Rob Georgia fiasco in 2002 and the stolen 2004 election, there was a flurry of concern in the mainstream press. Ronnie Dugger at The Nation and Paul Krugman at the New York Times wrote detailed analyses. But afterward, the newspapers and broadcast media of the liberal establishment, which science-minded citizens regularly count on for an enlightened picture of the world, have been silent or even dismissive on this issue. Since last month’s U.S. presidential election, a window has cracked open, and a glimmer of light has shined in an area of darkness. Reporting has been partial and inconsistent and sometimes biased, but a question has been asked that has long been off-limits: Is someone tampering with the computers that count our votes?
This part of the story is reported freely
Polls on American political attitudes reveal a divergence between what the people want and what our elective representatives deliver.The people want peace (General Eisenhower heard us 60 years ago.) The people want to preserve species and are willing to pay taxes and increased product costs in order to avoid damaging fragile ecologies. The people want a transition from oil and coal to renewable energy, and the people favor robust institutions for public education and public health. In none of these areas is Congress responding to the will of the electorate. Congressional approval ratings are in the 20% range. How does a body of legislators so unrepresentative of mainstream America maintain itself in office from one election cycle to the next?
The mainstream American press routinely dismisses populist ideas, treating the majority of the public as a fringe of dreamers.
Other parts of the answer are openly discussed. The U.S. Senate and the electoral college are structured to offer enhanced representation to the sparsely populated states where, incidentally, gun rights and fundamentalist Christian values are high priorities. People with progressive values and voting patterns are tightly clustered in urban areas that vote 80-90% Democratic, whereas large stretches of rural America are 55-65% Republican. This distribution provides a natural gerrymandering that decreases progressive representation in Congress. Building on this foundation, many state legislatures have imposed precision, computerized gerrymandering that efficiently bundles Democratic voters in a small number of Congressional districts, leaving a much larger number of districts with thin but reliable Republican majorities. (This was an early Karl Rove initiative, and it has proven devastatingly effective.) In my native Pennsylvania, the electorate is 48% D vs 38% R, but our Congressional delegation has 5 D’s vs 13 R’s.
That campaign spending tilts politics toward corporate interests is widely known and openly discussed.
Vote suppression is another open secret. Private companies have been hired to purge the state voter lists aggressively, and on flimsy grounds. It is (statistically) less convenient for Democrats to vote than for Republicans. There are longer lines and voting machine shortages. Voter ID laws are justified on the grounds that they protect the election from non-citizen immigrants trying to vote. But the legislators who are promoting these laws know full well that such laws exclude many more legitimate than illegitimate voters. The ghost of imagined “voter fraud” is a well-promoted myth, while the very real possibility of insider “election fraud” is a taboo topic.
OpEdNews Op Eds
Stories of Election Theft
Are Elections being Stolen? We shouldn’t have to ask.
Are votes in American elections being counted fairly and accurately? In an open democracy worthy of the name, this should not be a question for forensic science, but in 21st Century America, that’s just what it is. America is unique in the developed world in counting votes with proprietary software that has been ruled a trade secret, not open to inspection, even by local officials whose responsibility it is to administer elections. As we have learned last week, there is stiff resistance to looking at the ballots with human eyes which might offer a check on the computers. So we are left looking at statistics and anecdotes, trying to determine whether vote counts are honest and reliable. The evidence does not inspire confidence. But whatever you think of the evidence, there is no justification for a system without the possibility of public verification.
Part 3 of 4 : Anecdotes
Over the years, there have been a number of cases where a smoking gun appeared. We had physical evidence or an insider in election theft who blew the whistle. Four of our best examples:
- Clint Curtis, 2001
In 2001, Clint Curtis was a programmer for Yang Enterprises, a computer consulting firm in Oviedo, FL. The firm was contacted by Tom Feeney, Republican Congressman in Florida’s 24th CD. Feeney asked for a prototype of software that could run a voting machine on the front end, while allowing back end access to someone who knew a password. The person with the password would be able to change voting results stored in the machine in real time, undetectably. Thinking this was a security test, Curtis worked on the project and completed it to spec. But after he learned that his work was to be used in a real election, Curtis turned whistleblower, and told his story to the State Inspector’s office. After more than the usual runaround, the case was assigned to Raymond Lemme, who investigated the case with dogged persistence for over a year. Just before his report was to be released, Lemme was found dead in a motel room, just across the state line in Valdosta, GA. Curtis later recounted his story under oath to a Congressional committee. The full story is here.
- Georgia, 2002
In 2002, the Help America Vote Act was new, and in May, the state of Georgia contracted with Diebold to quickly transform their paper-based voting tradition to a fully computerized, paperless system. A $54 million contract with Diebold gave them control over the hardware, the software, programming of individual machines, and training of people who administered the elections locally. In the November, 2002 election,
Incumbent US Senator Max Cleland and incumbent Governor Roy Barnes, both Democrats, were odds-on favorites to win re-election. A week before the voting an Atlanta Journal-Constitution poll showed Cleland ahead by five points, 49-44, but on election day he lost to his Republican opponent, Saxby Chambliss, by seven points, 53-46, a twelve-point swing. The loss of Governor Barnes to Sonny Perdue was even more remarkable: a one-week switch of fourteen percentage points. [Ronnie Dugger, writing in the Nation , 2004]
The thing that makes this an anecdote and not just a statistic is that a rogue computer activist broke into the server of the Diebold company, and found in their system a folder labeled “Rob Georgia”. He forwarded the contents to Bev Harris at Black Box Voting, and she found a record of what had been done, and how. She explains details in this article, published prominently in New Zealand. American news outlets were not so interested.
- The 2004 presidential election in Ohio
Ohio was the domain of Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell, who moonlighted as Ohio Chair of the campaign to re-elect George W. Bush. The press reported a rain of vote suppression tactics:
- Thousands of voter registration cards rejected because they were printed by the state on card stock of the wrong weight
- Thousands of mail-in ballots returned for postage because the state provided an envelope pre-printed with a notice for one-ounce first class postage, but the package was over one ounce.
- Leaflets in the Democratic cities, urging the naive to wait until Wednesday to vote.
- Shortages of voting machines in Democratic strongholds, while unused machines remained in the warehouse
- Long lines in the rain, with people waiting up to five hours to vote
- Nevertheless, four hours after polls closed on election night, Kerry had a solid lead of 3%. Exit polls predicted Kerry over Bush in Ohio by 4 points. Returns across the rest of the country indicated a close election that came down to Ohio only. As Ohio’s 20 electoral votes went, so would go the presidency.Then, at 12:20, the computers went dark that were reporting the running tally of the vote count from Blackwell’s office in the state capital. The country was in suspense for 100 minutes, with all eyes on Ohio. When the computer came back up, the numbers had reversed. Bush was now 3% ahead, and his lead held through the night.This much was known the day after the election. Only a year afterward was it revealed that the computer that “came back up” at 2 AM was not the same computer that went down at 12:20. In fact, it wasn’t in Columbus, OH at all; it was in Chattanooga, TN, and it belonged to a company called SmarTech Solutions, computer consultants to the Bush White House, to the Congressional Republicans, and to several Christian Right groups. SmarTech was the same company that had fallen on its sword a year earlier when 3 million White House emails could not be retrieved. It was SmarTech that hosted the secret White House email server GWBush43, and the man in charge was “White House IT Guru” Mike Connell.In the wake of the 2004 election, lawyers sued to have ballots preserved so they could be re-counted, and sought information about the entire debacle. The lawsuits worked their way through the courts for 4 years, and finally in 2008, Connell was called to appear for a deposition. It was then that the lawyers discovered Connell was an honest, God-fearing man. He would not lie in court. Sources within the McCain campaign leaked reports to the lawyers that Connell had received threats against his person and his family if he went ahead and testified. Connell’s deposition was held in November, but his lawyers raised frivolous objections that effectively shielded him from having to answer any questions. The objections were overruled a few weeks later, and Connell’s return deposition was scheduled for January.But Connell died in a small plane on December 19. It was ruled a mechanical failure. No investigation was held.
Connell’s Republican colleague Stephen Spoonamore had earlier testified in the case, explaining how Connell had been hired to create a Tennessee mirror site to the Ohio Secretary of State web page, in which a back door would be linked directly to the White House. After the Columbus computer was replaced with the Chatanooga mirror, the White House was able to read and write from the computer’s cache of election results in real time , and these numbers were fed directly to the press, and to the public. Here is a video interview with Spoonamore.
- Alvin Greene, Candidate for Senate from South Carolina, 2010
Congressman Vic Rawl, a popular and formidable candidate for Senate was defeated in the 2010 Democratic primary by Alvin Greene. Greene “won” in a landslide, despite the fact that he did not campaign, had no funding, no ads or signs, no web site, and no political background.
This one was covered in the New York Times.
…everyone wants to know how Mr. Greene, an unemployed Army veteran who had been completely unknown until Tuesday, inexplicably defeated a heavily favored former legislator and judge to become the state’s Democratic nominee for the Senate — and the state’s latest political circus act”
Even in Manning, a town of 4,000 where everybody knows everybody, nobody seems to know Alvin Greene. “He just all of a sudden shows up and — boom!” said L. G. Mathis, 61, the owner of L. G.’s Cut and Style, a barber shop downtown.
Greene’s victory was a convenience for incumbent Senator Jim De Mint, a Tea Party Republican who has been embroiled in a sex scandal. Greene continued his non-campaign, and De Mint won essentially unopposed in November.