"Who controls the past controls the future; who controls the present controls the past." Orwell-- The US is probably moving toward becoming a heavily controlled Rightist state. This blog is an effort to document how that happened.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Electronic Fraud in 2004 Elections?

The New York Times has noted that the forms of electronic voting introduced in the United States “could end up undermining democracy by producing unreliable election results that cannot be truly audited or corrected.” If some were intent on using the machines and computation programs to change results and took great care to cover their tracks, it could be done without anyone being the wiser. The most reliable way of finding fraud in these instances is to compare exit polls with actual results. But many people do not trust exit polls and the comparison’s validity depends on the statistics of probability, which most people do not understand. Touch- screen voting machines linked to centralized computer systems have the potential for massive vote fraud if someone takes the time to learn how to rig the centralized counting program. Prior to 2004, it seems likely that vote fraud via electronic means probably occurred by changing program cards in individual machines. In 2004, there was not a great deal of evidence of this. Investigative reporter Wayne Madsen has also turned up evidence that bribes paid by Nigerian politicians were used to pay election supervisors and computer technicians. More worrisome was the vote counting programs themselves. University scientists and mathematicians have pointed out that the touch-screen machines’ software can easily be manipulated for partisan purposes and have insisted that they be improved and only be employed with paper verification

Tallahassee computer programmer Clinton Curtis has testified that in the October 2000 election Tom Feeney, A Congressman and former Speaker of the Florida House, asked him to develop software to “flip an election” without being detected. Three other employees were present. Feeney, Jeb Bush’s running mate in 1994, had been a lobbyist for the company where Curtis was employed. The software-tabulating program was to be undetectable and capable of being triggered without the use of additional programs or equipment. At least since 1988, some of the computers used to tabulate results have had black boxes containing codes only the manufacturers could decode. To an ordinary laymen, of course, it is difficult to understand why special computers and software are necessary to count voters. It is also difficult to grasp why the manufacturers, claiming proprietary rights, refuse to share much information about how their products work.

Curtis was then working for Yang Enterprises. Yang was also doing work for NASA at the time. A life-long Republican, Curtis first thought the prototype was needed so Republicans could detect Democratic dirty tricks. He soon learned that the software was needed to change the vote in southern Florida. After the election Feeney bragged about voter exclusion lists and placing state police in locations to prevent blacks from getting to the polls. Curtis wrote the program and then quit his job. There is no solid evidence this particular program was ever used.

Curtis found a job at the Florida Department of Transportation. However, his determination to bring the story to public attention resulted in his being fired. The St. Petersburg Times reported that Curtis passed a lie detector test administered by the former chief polygraph operator for the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. Curtis had found corruption within the department, and Ray Lemme, a department investigator, looked into his claims and was found dead in Valdosta, Florida, an apparent suicide. In 2006, journalist John Caylor, while seeking photographs of Lemme’s body, was arrested in Panama City, Florida for nonviolently resisting arrest. The reporter was looking into drug money laundering through Florida highway tolls and beating deaths in Jeb Bush’s boot camps. He was made to stand in a cell for seven hours and was not permitted to take nitroglycerin for his heart. Though Florida law permits one telephone call in the first seventy-two hours, he was denied the right to make a call. He was subsequently tried.

The many statistical anomalies of 2004 -- almost all benefited the GOP-- were of a sort that could not be readily investigated. Indeed, Republican computer security expert Chuck Herrin noted that they “benefited us 100% of the time.” In the election of 2004, the electoral count was settled in favor of George W. Bush in Ohio and Florida, both states where electronic voting and tabulation was predominant. A Quantitative Methods Research Team at the University of California at Berkeley examined the Florida election and found that “a county’s use of electronic voting resulted in a disproportionate increase in votes for President Bush and that the random chances of this happening were “less than once in a thousand....” They conservatively estimated that Bush received between 130,000 and 260,000 more votes than could be statistically expected.”

Some voting machines there were actually counted votes backward against Kerry. Bush carried the state by 5%, but lost it by 2% according to the exit polls. Among the 57 counties that used vote-scanning technology to count votes, 29 had been overwhelmingly Democratic. This time they became Bush bastions. The GOP gained 128.45% in those counties, and the Democrats lost 21%. In Liberty County, which is 88% Democratic, Bush gained 700%. Where optional scan technology was not used, voting followed predictable patterns. In Broward County, voting workers said there were boxes of uncounted absentee votes that were later removed from the courthouse. Before the election there, 50,000 applications for absentee ballots somehow got lost in the postal system.

The election was unusual because there was such a great disparity between the exit polls and the actual results. The exit polls called for a Kerry victory, but the actual results gave Bush another term in the White House. In 42 of 51 states (and District of Columbia), the states moved more toward Bush than the exit polls indicated. When it was clear that the exit polls appeared to be very wrong, the Edison and Mitofsky exit poll results were “rebalanced” early in the morning of November 3 so they came closer to actual results. An important assumption in the “reweighing” was that Bush got every vote he garnered in 2000; no one died and no one changed his mind. This data published by CNN and a CALTECH/MIT study based on the modified figures found that the disparity between the exit polls and actual results was not great enough to warrant further inquiry. The actual exit poll data became available two weeks later and revealed great disparities or “red shifts” in favor of Bush. In Delaware it was 10% in New Hampshire 9.8%, in North Carolina 8%; in Ohio 6.2%, Florida 6%, There is no solid evidence that anyone was seen tampering with county-wide vote counting programs. One respected reporter claimed that the GOP paid $29,000,000 for technicians, posing as FBI and Homeland Security agents to work with these programs in various locations. He claimed that some of this information came from disgruntled agents who claimed to have been shorted on their pay.

In ten of the eleven battleground states, the differences between tallied and exit poll margin favored Bush. For two generations, the media’s exit polls have never been more than a tenth of a percent off. Even Republican consultant Dick Morris told FOX News that “Exit polls are almost never wrong.” The discrepancies were far outside the allowances for random error and chance. Statisticians have concluded that the chances of the wide variances of 2004 occurring were less that one in a thousand. In The chances that Kerry received only 47.1% of the vote in Florida are only three in a thousand. The best explanation Gallup pollsters could come up with was that Kerry people were much more willing to participate in exit polls than Bush backers.

In states where a variety of means were used to count votes, there was no meaningful disparity between exit poll results and actual tabulations. However, there was a great difference between the exit polls and reported results in states where electronic programs were used to register and count votes.

Analyzing the races in Ohio, Florida, and Pennsylvania ( where a Senate seat was involved), Professor Ron Baiman thought the discrepancy between exit polls and tabulated votes could occur only once in 155,000,000 times. In Florida, Republicans came up with a particularly ugly means of scrubbing black voters from the rolls. Letters were sent to the home addresses of black men and women in the service with instructions that they were not to be forwarded but returned to sender. With that evidence of non-residency, the Florida GOP was able to remove 10 % from the rolls. The story was uncovered by BBC but not reported much in the United States. The race was especially close in Ohio, where Bush eventually was declared the winner by less than 130,000 votes. There was not one elected statewide official who was a Democrat, and the secretary of state, J. Kenneth Blackwell, who counted the votes, was the Bush campaign chairman. Every possible legal and marginally legal device was used against Kerry. In addition 105,000 voters --mostly Democrats-- were purged in Cincinnati and another 28,000 were removed from the rolls in Toledo. There is no information of how many were purged in Dayton and other Democratic strongholds.

In Franklin County there was a pattern of taking voting machines out of strongly Democratic precincts so that the lines would be longer. There were 580 absentee votes in Trumbull County, which could not be matched with voters in the registration list. If this were extrapolated statewide, it would come to 62, 513 fraudulent absentee votes. A former ES&S employee was allowed to tamper with the vote counting computer in Auglaize County on October 16. In Warren County (about 20 miles northeast of Cincinnati (Kings Island area), the court house was locked down so that reporters could not observe counting. In the past, there was room for the media in the courthouse during elections. It is important to know this is one of the last counties in Ohio to close its polling places. That county had a 33% increase in votes cast over 2000, and Bush won 72% of the vote. . In Perry County, more votes were cast than people who signed the register as on site voters or absentees/ In Butler County, the Kerry-Edward ticket ran far behind other Democrats. In the Columbus area, there were 4,258 votes in a Gahanna precinct and 260 for Kerry. However, there were only 800 voters there.

Miami County was very slow counting its votes and released its complete total only when almost the entire state had been heard from. Bush picked up an amazing 19,000 more votes than in 2000 in this rural county, Kerry carried 31.38% of the voter, compared to 36.38 for Gore. The county boasted an almost impossible increase in turnout, with the new votes shared between the candidates in these proportions. Some precincts had nearly 98% turnouts. In usually heavily Democratic Mahoning County, many voters reported that they attempted to vote for Kerry on the video machines, but the vote kept turning up for Bush. Some might recall that this is Youngstown and naturally wonder whether some kind of corruption were involved. In Lucas County where Toledo is located, , numerous machines consistently malfunctioned. Outside of Xenia, polling officials applied special standards to prevent black students from Wilberforce University from voting.

Except in the case of the 2002 Georgia elections, it has been difficult to find a great body of evidence proving that electronic machines have been used to rig elections. With the passage of time and growing sophistication of election software, it will become nearly impossible. Senator Chuck Hagel has been questioned because he was a part owner of the E .S &S firm that counted more than 80% of the votes in Nebraska. Only in 2003 did Senator Hagel divulge his involvement in the voting machine company. His election in 1996 was an upset, and he won in a landslide in 2002. In the same year, machines in Comal County, Texas awarded victories to three Republicans, each polling exactly 18181 votes. Recently, Emery County, Utah Elections Director Bruce Funk brought in an outside technical firm to test Diebold machines. It was learned that the machines could easily be manipulated. The Governor of Utah hurriedly used his private plane to bring in Diebold officials to squelch the story. Funk was fired. In Leon County, Florida, Ion Sanchez , elections commissioner, found a security flaw in the Diebold machines. Diebold refused to do anything about it and removed its machines. The other two large providers of machines refused to sell machines there. Sanchez could be sued by the State of Florida for not having touch screen machines.

Touch screen voting machines linked to centralized computer systems have the potential to massive vote fraud if someone takes the time to learn how to rig the centralized counting program. University scientists and mathematicians have pointed out that the touch-screen machines’ software can easily be manipulated for partisan purposes and have insisted that they be improved and only be employed with paper verification. The most important of these programs is GEMS, manufactured by Diebold. The manuals and source codes for it can be downloaded from an open Diebold FTP site or from at least three other known sites. With this information, it would be easy to hack into a county’s main computer and change the results. For some reason, GEMs can even record negative votes, and a Diebold spokesman defended that feature saying that an election administrator may have a good reason to record negative votes. It is also possible that these programs have many undetected bugs. They have roughly 100,000 lines of code, and their providers insist they are error-free. Lacking paper trails from the individual voting machines, it would be very hard to reconstruct what had happened.

Sherman has written African American Baseball: A Brief History, which can be acquired from LuLu Publishing on line.http://www.lulu.com/browse/search.php?search_forum

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Sherm spent seven years writing an analytical chronicle of what the Republicans have been up to since the 1970s. It discusses elements in the Republican coalition, their ideologies, strategies, informational and financial resources, and election shenanigans. Abuses of power by the Reagan and G. W. Bush administration and the Republican Congresses are detailed. The New Republican Coalition : Its Rise and Impact, The Seventies to Present (Publish America) can be acquired by calling 301-695-1707. On line, go to http://www.publishamerica.com/shopping. It can also be obtained through the on-line operations of Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Do not consider purchasing it if you are looking for something that mirrors the mainstream media!