August 2nd, Charlie Rose interviewed Denzel Washington, star of the revised
Manchurian Candidate. Apropos of the film’s brainwashing motif,
Washington said, "We still don’t know what happened three
years ago in Florida."
Good for you, Mr. Washington. We do know that thousands of black citizens were taken off the voters’ list; and contrary to the count, George Bush became the resident in the White House.
But today, with the pressure on George Bush to prove that he’s the best man to defend an apparently beleaguered America, Al Qaeda is the first choice to come through with another attack or Bin Laden has to be found in his cave, strapped to his kidney machine.
Failing either of those, there is, unfortunately for Americans, another way for the U.S. military-industrial administration to pry themselves off the painful horns of their present dilemma.
Touch-screen voting has been in since 1996, although it doesn’t work. There are no paper ballots. There is no accounting, no audit, and no recount. No watching and no touching was al-lowed in the demonstrations to the public. In fact, the locations of the demos were hard to find and no effort was made to let the public know where presentations were being made. Nevertheless, these machines are merely being replaced by newer ones.
Beverley Harris, author of "Black Box Voting", said that she went into the computer, by-passed the password and changed the vote in less than 10 minutes. In fact, in three different electoral counts in three different states, each candidate who won, did so by exactly the same number of votes!
To date, there have been more than 100 elections with miscounts; systems were rushed ahead for the quick money.
Corporations stand to win big when they can bribe a few programmers to change a million votes at once, and get their man in office. Five independent studies by universities have confirmed these "flaws".
Global Election Systems in Florida, bought by Diebold, contain software that has never been certified and Diebold is being sued for a long pattern of bad conduct. However, they stand by their machine and their Russian programmer.
In California and Washington, there are no safety procedures. Miscounts are staggering. In one instance, 300 votes were entered and became four million. In another case, 5,000 votes became 144,000. The programmers were in Vancouver and the manufacturing was done by a public company in Texas. Beverley Harris stated that the CEO was committed to deliver the vote to Bush in 2004.
Chuck Hegel of Nebraska, a CEO of one of the four major voting machine corporations, resigned his position to run for public office. He then won the vote, counted by his own machine. He had a $5 million ownership in the company that counted 80 per cent of the votes. Chuck Hegel’s opponent paid for a recount on the same machines that Hegel had built.
It is interesting to note that Hegel’s campaign manager now ostensibly runs the company.
In Florida, where Diebold registered 16,022 negative votes for Gore, newsmen saw votes falling off Gore’s tally. Gore conceded to Bush, then found out they were bogus totals. Why didn’t Gore say something?
Florida’s election results would not have passed approval if an independent monitor had been in place. The problem was not the chads; computer counting is the problem and there are no ballot cards. This system is now used in 50 states, with the result that 103,000 votes didn’t get counted in the last election.
Mistakes are much harder to catch; you cannot see digital data in a machine when it has been inserted by someone.
The Director of Operations under Diebold had been imprisoned for computer fraud and five other felons were identified in the company. Criminals are involved in programming and can be bribed for as little as $50,000 and as much as $2 million. Bush raised $800 million—definitely not a short shopping list.
During Arnold Schwarzenegger’s run for the post of California governor, cell phones were used to transmit votes. When votes are hand-counted the numbers are always different than a computer count. In the California election, the vote total showed up on the internet five hours before the polls closed and the figure was the same as the final announced vote.
In Alabama, 6,300 votes disappeared and there was no provision for a recount. In Georgia, five guys living in Canada changed the programmes. According to Beverley Harris, "The tech guys come in as temps, not certified, not sworn; they do something and they leave. A tech can E-mail the results of a vote. In one instance, 48,000 people voted and only 36,000 votes were registered." The electronic vote changes as it travels through the system.
Manufacturing consent is much more direct now. Citizens can all vote against something and yet it gets passed.
Will it matter whether the citizens vote against missiles in space? In push button voting, who would know? The manipulators can say that those voting against the issue didn’t show up. You vote and you cannot see your own ballot.
Privatization of the vote by computers means, as in any other privatization, that there is no disclosure. Computer experts and scientists from MIT and Caltech stated that E-voting doesn’t work -- it has too many flaws. But, as "Black Box Voting" explains, that doesn’t stop lobbying and kickbacks by vested interests who are heavily investing in voting machines. In fact, all of the 12 corporations on the U.S. Election Council are defence contractors such as Lockheed Martin, and they pushed the bill through on electronic voting.
For decades, election coups have been exported by the U. S.. In the ‘70’s the number two expense for the CIA was manipulating elections in foreign countries.
The United States now peddles its voting machines to other countries directly and are accused by them of de-stabilizing their nations. The Pentagon replies, "It’s not our job to see about other countries. We’re swapping machines globally." In fact, the Pentagon has given contracts to holding companies in Saudi Arabia that do not have to disclose the names of their Cayman Island accounts.
In the U.S. itself, the electronic vote is speeding into Spanish-speaking and other minority areas. Ms. Harris remarked that the voter pushes for one candidate and the machine registers the other, then deletes the actual choice, to prevent discovery in an audit. Someone with a different platform becomes unelectable. Ownership can be secret; the vote has been privatized.
In Georgia, 22,000 machines (under a $54 million contract to Diebold) were modified and no one could see what change was inserted. New Hampshire used uncertified software on the touch screen voting in the caucus. There were huge discrepancies between machine counting and hand counting.
San Diego spent $33 million on a system that experts told them had "gross security flaws". The vote results were available seven minutes after the polls closed!
Despite all this evidence of rigging, voter fraud analysts are rarely called as expert witnesses. One such expert stated that both political parties knew how to easily fix this 10 years ago, and neither party did anything about it. You can videotape a ballot in seconds and thus prove the end result. Instead, he went on to say, as many as 250,000 out of 4 million voters were duplicate and quadruplicate voters as well as dead voters. During voter registration, embezzlers and criminals in the system are registering whole cemeteries.
Polls themselves have been a form of manipulation for some time, and they are never checked to see if the statistics are factual.
Rigging an election is merely a "misdemeanour" in some states. How can a system be secure when a programmer can make changes after a vote? Lawsuits are being brought forward in various states because they have evidence of rigging. As soon as just one judge finds them guilty in one state, a precedent is set which other victims can follow. In fact, Arnold Schwarzenegger lost his suit of campaign violations to the tune of $4 million.
Push-button voting is not democracy. We need to keep paper ballots so that they can be audited. As Beverley Harris stated, the electronic vote changes as it travels through the system. County and the regional votes must be printed and then compared with what is sent on. Even with paper, apparently in the United States, convicted felons are trusted to sort ballots before they go to the post office. Of course, there is incredible resistance to any audits by the beneficiaries of the electronic voting..
The ballot is a contract between the citizen and the government, a voter-verified ballot that must not change as it moves through the system. This security is also necessary for anything that the public is concerned about, including projects that the public may not want, such as the aforementioned weapons in space.
In the old days, ballots could be, and were, stuffed. But since voting required an identification card, falsifying the vote was much riskier.
Most dangerous to democracy today, the public has become so cynical and apathetic that 50 per cent of U.S. citizens don’t vote at all. How intuitive of them, for Diebold now has two sets of books built into their central tabulator.
A member of The Committee on Monetary and Economic Reform, Sydney White teaches Studies in Propaganda at the Free University of Toronto.