by Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman
May 15, 2006
That the presidential elections of 2000 and 2004 were stolen has
become an article of faith for millions of mainstream Americans.
But there has been barely a whiff of coverage in the major media about
any problems with the electronic voting machines that made those
thefts possible—until now.
A recent OpEdNews/Zogby People’s poll (http://tinyurl.com/hgkgl)
of Pennsylvania residents, found that “39% said that the 2004 election
was stolen. 54% said it was legitimate. But let’s look at the
demographics on this question. Of the people who watch Fox news as
their primary source of TV news, one half of one percent believe it was
stolen and 99% believe it was legitimate. Among people who watched ANY
other news source but FOX, more felt the election was stolen than
legitimate. The numbers varied dramatically.”
Here, from that poll, are the stations listed as first choice
by respondents and the percentage of respondents who thought the
election was stolen: CNN 70%; MSNBC 65%; CBS 64%; ABC 56%; Other 56%;
NBC 49%; FOX 0.5%.
With 99% of Fox viewers believing that the election was
“legitimate,” only the constant propaganda of Rupert Murdoch’s
disinformation campaign stands in the way of a majority of Americans
coming to grips with the reality of two consecutive stolen elections.
That the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Washington
Post finally ran coverage of problems with electronic voting machines
this week is itself big news. It says the scandals surrounding computer
fraud and financial illegalities at Diebold and other electronic voting
machine companies have become simply too big and blatant for even the
bought, docile mainstream media (MSM) to ignore.
The gaping holes in the security of electronic voting machines are
pretty old news. Bev Harris’s blackboxvoting.org has been issuing
definitive research since Florida 2000. Freepress.org warned of the
impending electronic theft of Ohio 2004 with Diebold machines eight
months before it happened.
After that election, Rep. John Conyers
(D-MI) issued a report confirming that security flaws could allow a
single hacker with a wi-fi to shift the vote counts at entire
precincts just by driving by. Then the Government Accountability
Office reported that security flaws were vast and unacceptable
throughout the national network of electronic machines.
Despite overwhelming evidence that George W. Bush has occupied
the White House due to the fraudulent manipulations of the GOP Secretaries
of State in Florida and Ohio, none of this has seeped into “journals
of record” like the Times and Post.
Until this week. The Times was sparked out of its stupor on May 11,
after officials in California and Pennsylvania warned that Diebold
touch-screen machines, slated to be used in upcoming primaries, were
hopelessly compromised. Michael Shamos, a professor of computer
science and Pittsburgh’s high-tech Carnegie-Mellon University, called
it “the most severe security flaw ever discovered in a voting
Douglas W. Jones, a computer science professor at the University of
Iowa, says “this is a barn door being wide open, while people were
arguing over the lock on the front door.”
The Times refers to the uproar as “the latest concern about
touch-screen machines” while having completely ignored dozens of
complaints in Ohio 2004 that voters who selected John Kerry’s name saw
George W. Bush’s light up, or saw the light on Kerry’s repeatedly go
out before they could complete the voting process.
The Wall Street Journal ran the following kicker: “Some former backers
of technology seek return to paper ballots, citing glitches, fraud
The WSJ could have ran that story last year after the bipartisan
commission on federal election reform co-chaired by President Jimmy
Carter and former Secretary of State James Baker noted in no uncertain
terms that: “Software can be modified maliciously before being
installed into individual voting machines. There is no reason to trust
insiders in the election industry any more than in other industries.”
Indeed. There’s every reason because of the unprecedented power and
money involved in U.S. politics to trust them less than anybody else.
In its March 2006 primary, it took a week to tally Chicago’s votes
because of technical problems in Sequoia Voting Systems equipment. In
Maryland, electronic voting scandals prompted a unanimous vote by the
State House of Delegate demanding that touch-screen machines be
scrapped. The Maryland Senate effectively killed that bill, which is
certain to come back.
Citizen law suits are being filed in Arizona, California, New York and
New Mexico by the nonprofit Voter Action organization.
The new concerns about Diebold’s equipment were discovered by Harri
Hursti, a Finnish computer expert who was working at the request of Black Box
Voting Inc. The new report forced Diebold to warn of a
“theoretical security vulnerability” that “could potentially allow
unauthorized software to be loaded onto the system.”
In other words, one of the prime manufacturers of the machines on
which America casts its votes has admitted those machines can be
But as the Times has finally reported, the company, in one of the new
century’s most truly laughable letters, has claimed that “the
probability for exploiting this vulnerability to install unauthorized
software that could affect an election is considered low.”
A company spokesman has admitted the flaw was actually built into the
system to allow election officials to upgrade their software. But
Diebold is apparently confident that those officials would never, ever
cheat. “For there to be a problem here, you’re basically assuming a
premise where you have some evil and nefarious election officials who
would sneak in and introduce a piece of software,” says Diebold’s
David Bear. “I don’t believe these evil elections people exist.”
The Times has thus far chosen not to report on the staggering history that frames
such statements. As freepress.org reported in 2003, Diebold CEO
Walden O’Dell promised in a GOP fundraising letter to “deliver Ohio’s
electoral votes to George W. Bush.” The election chief in Florida
2000 was Katherine Harris. In Ohio 2004 it was J. Kenneth Blackwell.
Both controlled access to their state’s electronic voting machines,
and are widely believed to have exploited their now obvious flaws.
Both served simultaneously as Secretary of State and as state co-chair
of the Bush-Cheney campaign. As of today, the electronic access cards
for Ohio’s electronic voting machines have been ordered into
Blackwell’s personal office, despite the fact that he is the GOP
nominee for governor in the upcoming November election.
Recently passed House Bill 3 in Ohio does not mandate post-election
audits of electronic voting machines, nor does the Help American Vote
Act (HAVA) of 2002. The rush to electronic voting machines was fueled
by the passing of the HAVA Act, which authorized more than $3 billion
in federal funds to purchase new voting equipment. HAVA’s principal
architect was Rep. Bob Ney (R-OH), whose financial ties to Diebold,
through disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff, have yet to be fully exposed.
Blackwell personally negotiated a no-bid contract for Diebold
touchscreen Direct Recording Electronic machines (DREs) while holding
stock in the company. Under HB3 Blackwell will decide whether the
machine will be audited or not in an election where he is running for
“We’re prepared for those types of problems,” said Deborah Hench, the
registrar of voters in San Joaquin County, California, according to The
Times. “There are always activists that are anti-electronic voting, and
they’re constantly trying to put pressure on us to change our system.”
Aviel Rubin, a professor of computer science at Johns Hopkins
University, did the first in-depth analysis of the security flaws in the source code
for Diebold touch-screen machines in 2003. After studying the latest problem, The Times reported Rubin
said: “I almost had a heart attack. The implications of this are pretty astounding.”
More coverage from the mainstream corporate media may surface
as the machines malfunction in the 22 primary elections scheduled in
May and June. The next major e-vote meltdown should occur
during the May 16 primaries in Kentucky, Oregon and Pennsylvania.
There’s still time to move to hand-counted paper ballots for the
November 2006 election. And if current trends continue, some of the
mainstream media may actually start reporting on the issue.
Harvey Wasserman and Bob Fitrakis are co-authors of HOW THE GOP STOLE
AMERICA’S 2004 ELECTION & IS RIGGING 2008, available at
http://www.freepress.org. They are co-editors, with Steve Rosenfeld, of WHAT
HAPPENED IN OHIO? forthcoming from The New Press.
Note: second paragraph altered 5/15/06.