It's an old story: Satan picks up the phone and calls St. Peter to challenge
Heaven to a baseball game.
"Of course, we'll play," says Peter. "But have you forgotten? We have all
the great baseball players."
"That may be so," replied Satan, "but we have all the umpires!"
John Kerry and his Democratic party face a similar problem: They may have
the votes, but the other side has the machines that record and count the
votes. How can the Democrats win?
A win over the Bushevik regime is not impossible, but it will be difficult
and it will require considerable persistence and initiative.
Here are a few suggestions. No doubt, many who read this article will have
still better ideas. Send them to us, (email@example.com)
and we may follow this up with a compendium of the best of those proposals.
On its face, the evolving American electoral system is absurd and wide open
to corruption and fraud. In Florida in 2000, the task of determining voter
eligibility was turned over to a private corporation with ties to the
Republican party. The resulting purge of legally eligible voters
unquestionably cost Al Gore the state and, as it turned out, the
Greg Palast reports, the ironically named "Help American Vote Act" (HAVA)
is poised to extend the scourge of voter purging to other states.
"Paperless" and thus un-auditable electronic voting machines, most of which
are manufactured by companies with strong GOP connections and employing
secret ("proprietary") software codes, are expected to count
at least 30% of the votes in the Presidential election -- unless
curtailed by legislation or law suits. The unreliability of these machines
has been exhibited by numerous electoral anomalies, including lost votes, a
surplus of votes tallied over votes cast, and even (however impossibly)
"negative votes." Several University departments of computer science (most
notably, Johns Hopkins) have examined the machines and have pronounced them
unreliable and vulnerable to undetectable tampering. Many elections using
paperless e-voting machines have resulted in returns at significant variance
with pre-election polling, and almost all of these variances favored the
in the highly suspicious Georgia senatorial and gubernatorial election of
2002, conducted entirely with touch-screen voting machines, the
discrepancy between the pre-election polls and the election returns were
beyond belief. The Democratic governor, Roy Barnes, who led Republican Sonny
Perdue in the polls by 9 to 11 points, lost to Perdue by five points – a
swing of about sixteen points. Max Cleland, ahead by five points, lost to
Saxby Chamblis by six points.
These were shifts, respectively, of five and four margins of error. Talk to
a statistician, and you will learn that the probabilities of such anomalies
are vanishingly small. Is there, or was there, any way to validate the vote
in those machines? Absolutely not. There is no independent record of the
votes. That's just how the machines are designed.
Congressman Rush Holt (D-NJ) has introduced a bill that would require paper
print-out verification of electronic voting. And in California, Secretary of
State Kevin Shelley has decertified "paperless" Diebold voting machines for
the 2004 election. However, these attempts at ballot security are supported
almost entirely by Democrats as, conversely, the Republicans in Congress and
in the states are solidly opposed. One can't help but wonder why this is so.
Given the past history of Republican election manipulation, and the GOP
involvement in the privatized voting industry, it appears that a close
election will likely be "thrown" to Bush and the Republicans, just as it was
in 2000. Sad to say, if Kerry and the Democrats are to win, they must do so
with a super-majority.
It has come to that in the United States of America.
It is not my purpose here to elaborate on the scandal of "the election
industry," and its acute danger to the American democracy. I have
written about this elsewhere,
and we have collected at our website,
The Crisis Papers,
an extensive list of the most significant articles and books on the electoral
Instead, I will propose below, some possible counter-attacks.
Back to the Paper Ballot. The simplest and most reliable
voting technology is also the oldest: the paper ballot and the ballot box.
To be sure, it is labor-intensive and slow, but that is a small price to pay
for the preservation of our democracy. Besides, Canada uses this method and
manages to report the election returns within hours. In our last whiz-bang,
high-tech presidential election, it took weeks to settle the outcome, and
only then by judicial ruling that halted the vote count. (And don’t get me
started on that!)
When, a few weeks ago, I complained to Common Cause about their failure to
get excited about the election fraud issue, they replied in part:
Common Cause is indeed in agreement with the concerns you
express about the need for an auditable voting process. It is the
position of Common Cause to support voting which can be audited; however,
we do not believe that time allows for total institution of this process
by the time of the presidential election.
With all due respect to the venerable Common Cause:
Not only could a system of paper balloting be put in place in very short
order, in fact, in many states it is already in place! In particular, in the
largest state – my home state of California.
When I arrived at my polling place to vote in the infamous recall election,
I encountered my first touch-screen voting machine and promptly cried
bloody-murder. After calming me down, a kindly poll worker led me to a table
with paper ballots, and I proceeded to fill one out. She explained that all
polling stations had paper ballots (a) for those who preferred to use them,
and (b) as backups in case the electronic machines broke down.
This means that high-tech California is just one simple step away from
secure and verifiable voting. And that step is to collect all those infernal
machines, load them on to a barge, and dump them in the Pacific.
While I haven’t checked this out, I rather suspect that there are paper
ballot backups at the ready throughout the country.
Demand that they be used instead of the paperless monsters. And, failing
that, when you vote, insist upon the paper ballot.
A Diebold, etc. defection. Surely, amongst the thousands of
workers on the payrolls of the primary manufacturers of paperless voting
machines, Diebold, ES&S and Sequoia – still better, among the hundreds of
top managers – there must be a few authentic patriots. And they must be
sitting on a battalion of smoking guns. For example, a software programmer who devised a
fixed election (e.g., Georgia in 2002) could have a David Brock-like
epiphany and proceed to blow this scam wide open.
Let the invitation go forth: “If you would prefer to live in a free country,
come over from the dark side! And don’t forget to bring your codes and
documents with you.”
Give a public demonstration. A voting machine and software
should be acquired and, at last, put to honest use. Some computer experts
claim that a virus can infect a voting machine, alter the results, and then
“dissolve” leaving no trace of the “fix.” If so, then this can and should be
demonstrated. One team should devise a hack that would transform a
fifty-fifty input into (say) a seventy-thirty output. Then another team
should be challenged to find proof of the dirty deed.
Recently, on “The Daily Show,” Jon Stewart interviewed a hacker who claimed
to have “invaded” a sample voting machine, altered the outcome of the
election, and exited leaving no trace of the hack, all within five minutes.
Is this just show biz, or is it for real? If authentic, then the stunt
should be replicated and publicized. Thereafter, all balloting by such
machines would be severely, perhaps fatally, compromised.
Threaten Counter-Hacking. Surely there must be at least as
many computer geniuses on the left as on the right. Probably many more. If
further evidence accumulates of GOP election-rigging via the “proprietary”
software of paperless, non-auditable machines, then the scoundrels should be
put on notice that both political sides can play that game. While I wouldn’t
want to advocate illegal activity here, there may be some value in alerting
the public and “the other side” that there exists at least a capability for counter-measures.
If the counter-hackers are tempted to mess with an ongoing election,
must never, never, do so in a manner that would (a) be hidden, and (b)
to the advantage of their preferred candidates. They must never aim to “rig”
an election. Instead, the object of the activity should be to discredit an
election technology that has been rigged by the opposing side. Thus, for
example, they might select a few precincts that have routinely reported in
the past, say 10,000 votes, 92% for the Democrats. Then they might “hack”
the results to provide no votes for either major party, and a million votes
for the most obscure party (Vegetarian, Prohibition, whatever).
Likewise, a heavily GOP precinct might be hacked to record no votes for the
majors and a million for the likes of Socialist Workers. A few such
acts of creative mischief by the cyber-saboteurs could invalidate the
election and mandate a new one, this time without computer voting. Just a
Now, of course, the Diebold and its sister corporations are telling us that
such stunts are impossible, since their machines are 100% reliable. If so,
then they have nothing at all to worry about, do they?
Bring back the exit poll. Soon after the polls closed in 2002,
the exit polls from Voter News Service began to announce trends that were
favorable to the Democrats. Then, suddenly, VNS told us that the results
the entire election day operation was shut down.
How convenient for the GOP! And we have never received a clear explanation
of what happened. Just the same message we had heard two years before in
2000: “Get over it!”
In fact, in the past, exit polls have proven to be the most accurate polling
methods. So they must be brought back as “checks” against the non-auditable
machines. If the media’s service, VNS, won’t do it, then the left must
demand an explanation of why it won’t, and an alternative exit polling
service must be put in place.
Perhaps we might invite in a team from Russia or India to monitor our
Pre-election polling must be persistent and wide-spread throughout the
country. Polls, such as those conducted during the 2002 Georgia election,
remain strong statistical evidence of fraud and manipulation.
One revealing line of analysis would be to compare the accuracy of polls in
states and precincts using paper and other auditable ballots, with the polls in
states and precincts using touch-screen ballots. If the former produced
accurate polls, and the latter did not, there would be good reason to
suspect that the fix is in.
Also, as before, the ratio of plus-GOP shifts to plus-Democratic shifts
should be tabulated and publicized.
In a study
of nineteen contests in 2002, fourteen shifts favored the Republicans
(many, as in Georgia, far outside the margin of error), two favored the
Democrats (both within the margin of error), and three “close to correct.”
California has taken the lead – follow it! Finally, as
favorable trends develop in the news, in public opinion, and in the law,
these trends should be followed and “pushed along.” Case in point: the
decertification of Diebold machines in California. The decision of Secretary
of State Shelley is not final, and could be overturned by “the Governator.”
Still, it stands a good chance of surviving the legal challenges. And it is
an important precedent, as decertification of paperless machines are being
proposed in other states. These must be recognized, publicized, and
vigorously supported. There may be a trend here.
The GOP's "Umpires" -- have a heavy thumb on the scales
of our franchise. This advantage strikes at the very heart of our political
Voters of the United States unite! You have nothing to
lose but your democracy!
How to beat a fixed election? Send us your ideas to
then watch this space for a report on your suggestions.