Monday, May 30, 2005

Balloting Irregularities

John Brakey insists there was fraud at one precinct during November's election--and he has evidence backing him up

By DAVE DEVINE

Pacing as he talks, John Brakey believes he has uncovered serious problems with November's election results in Pima County--results that could have national implications.
Brakey admits he was a Democratic Party poll watcher who was escorted from his own precinct. But after six months of extensive research, Brakey is convinced what he saw on Election Day was voter fraud.

He accuses some of the people who worked at his polling place of stealing votes for George Bush. "These people knew exactly how the system works. I know those people were in there doing bad things," Brakey says.

Contacted by Brakey the day after Election Day, Pima County's director of elections, Brad Nelson, looked into the complaint. "There were four Republicans and three Democrats working at the polling place," Nelson says, "and I spoke to as many of them as I could. They have all attested in writing ... that everything was fine."

Acknowledging the poll workers did make errors in how they handled both the balloting and bookkeeping processes, Nelson indicates that some of them won't be asked back for future elections. Then he adds: "There were bookkeeping problems, but I can't find anything to substantiate irregularities that affected the outcome of the election."

After countless hours of research, Brakey ardently disagrees. He thinks poll workers obtained ballots by marking "spoiled" on some valid ballots and then casting their own choices as replacements.

Brakey also believes several people who requested early ballots but came to the precinct on Election Day had their "provisional" ballots manipulated there. Based on the records he has, Brakey additionally insists that other votes were cast by poll workers who covered up the act by making it appear people who didn't vote actually did.

Scattered across Brakey's dining room table are stacks of election documents for his precinct. He has entered all the data into a computer that allows him to track the voters. "The county looks at numbers," he emphasizes, "but I looked at names."

Once the alleged problems are meticulously explained, with the paperwork carefully examined, it makes for a strong argument that well more than 10 percent of the almost 900 votes from Brakey's polling place were questionably handled. It was a very busy day at the precinct, but the irregularities are glaring.

Among numerous categories of problems, several stand out. Thirty-nine questionable "provisional" ballots were apparently improperly placed into the optical-scan vote-counting machine instead of being sent to the Pima County Recorder's Office for verification. In addition, while the poll workers certified there were 59 provisional ballots cast, only 53 people actually signed as having done so.

The list of problems grows longer. Some voters' names appear twice on the official roster of those who showed up on Election Day, indicating they were given two ballots. Precinct records also indicate that several people were provided a second ballot because they spoiled the first one, but Brakey says he has contacted a handful of these people--and they deny it happened. Based on that, he believes poll workers cast at least some of these second votes.

Nineteen people also didn't sign in at the precinct, but according to the polling place paper trail, a few of them did cast ballots there. Others from this same list aren't shown as voting by the recorder's office, but claim they did. One person in this latter category, when contacted by phone by the Weekly, was positive she did vote in November.

For those who did not sign in on Election Day but had a ballot given out in their name, it's possible someone else may have gotten it. An example is a Libertarian voter who didn't sign in, and is not shown as voting by the Pima County Recorder. Her name, however, appears on the roster, prepared by poll workers, of those who actually received ballots--but she is mistakenly listed as a Republican.

When asked to explain this particular discrepancy, Nelson replies: "I have to fall back on what the board workers told me. But that absolutely should not happen."

Brakey thinks this process was intended both to create votes for George Bush and to switch some intended for John Kerry to Bush. "It was all part of a strategy," he says, "with the intent to convert enough Democratic votes to Republican to win the (national) popular vote."

Not satisfied with his own analysis, Brakey hooked up with David Griscom, a 33-year employee of the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, D.C., before his retirement to Tucson last year. Reviewing the precinct results statistically, Griscom says he found the data supports Brakey's views.

"There was fraud," Griscom insists after trying to mathematically reconstruct what happened at the polling place. "I think the poll workers arbitrarily picked some innocent people and were in cahoots with other voters."

These serious allegations were turned over to the Pima County Attorney's office. After an investigation, the case was recently closed, based in part on Nelson's written assertion that he found "the integrity of the November 2, 2004 General Election at (the) Precinct sound and reliable."

Brakey remains undeterred, saying of the county election's director: "He's a bureaucrat and wants this swept under the rug."

Even though John Kerry received only 1 percent less of the precinct's votes than Al Gore did in 2000, Brakey continues to believe there was foul play involved last year.

"No way was this gross error," he insists. "The only way you screw things up this bad is you have to plan. It was methodically planned out. But if it was gross error, we have a pretty bad system, and your vote is a joke."

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

The Edison/Mitofsky report and the theory of the shy republican

The Huffington Post

Byron York has treated me fairly and without rancor, and I am grateful for that. Certainly I am more in his wheelhouse than mine, and I’m honored that he saw fit to engage me in this little set-to we’ve conducted since Monday. I fired a lead right, Rep. John Conyers shouted encouragement from my corner, then York delivered a hook to the body. I shot back an uppercut, then he loaded up a right hand and attempted to bring an end to the discussion.

Byron York’s most recent refutation of my charge that irregularities in the 2004 Presidential election demand criminal investigation cites quotes from the report of Edison/Mitofsky, the two-company partnership which provided exit polls to the major television networks, on the vast discrepancies between those polls and the official results of the election. The report, which Mr. York has helpfully highlighted in his second post and which runs to about eighty pages, essentially offered the conclusion that an five-and-a-half point gap between final poll numbers and the national popular vote tabulation-- a variance more than four times the statistical margin for error of 1.3%-- can be attributed to shy Republicans. The Washington Post summarized the conclusion: "procedural problems compounded by the refusal of large numbers of Republican voters to be surveyed led to inflated estimates of support for John Kerry." With this, in effect, York dismisses the exit poll variance argument.

I could go on at length here about the curious disconnect between the actual data in the report and its guesswork conclusion, how Edison/Mitofsky systematically validate all their sampling choices and their methodology, in effect eliminating any logical underpinnings for their ultimate summation, all the while selectively ignoring the lopsided skewing of pro-Bush discrepancies in the most critical swing states. I could spend some time dissecting what I believe is an obvious whitewash, a delicate sidestep away from the potential public relations disaster of being tied forever to the most notorious election theft in history.

But none of that is necessary, because the entire Edison/Mitofsky report is irrelevant to the argument, given that it is based on the assumption the final official vote tally is accurate. Make no mistake: my argument is that the final official vote tally is anything but accurate, that it is the product of massive vote fraud carried out through the programing of Diebold voting machines and various other machinations aimed at suppressing, destroying or losing Kerry votes. My argument is that what were accurate were the exit polls. As one Ivy League research methodologist has noted, "Apparently the pollsters at Mitofsky and Edison have found it more expedient to provide an explanation unsupported by theory, data or precedent than to impugn the machinery of American democracy."

Various statisticians have reported that the odds on the occurrence of variances from exit polls to actual results such as were produced in this election range up to 959 000 to 1. Sounds like DNA. As US Count Votes notes in a statistical abstract, "No matter how one calculates it, the discrepancy cannot be attributed to chance."

So let me put it in Foxspeak. If all the circumstantial evidence related to potential vote fraud in this election were gathered up into one big file for the Scott Peterson jury, they’d convict. The jury that might look at all this and acquit? O.J. Simpson. Politics make strange bedfellows.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

The GOP's Attack On Voting Rights

Rep. John Conyers Jr.
May 13, 2005

190: The number of days since Election 2004 and the second consecutive presidential election in which the integrity of this nation’s democracy was questioned. This past November, this country witnessed a flawed election process in which there were biased election officials, overt voter suppression tactics and improper ballot counts and recounts. We know too well the stories about the illegal demands for voter identification, the voting machine shortages, the voting machine malfunctions and the improperly disqualified provisional ballots. More than six months after the election, now is the time to ensure that our second very sad election in a row does not become a third. There is agreement in America that real election reform is necessary and a consensus and focus is needed to guarantee such election reform.

12: A conservative count of the number of election reform proposals currently pending in Congress. While we must continue to assess and debate the accounts of Election 2004 improprieties and irregularities for the sake of history and truth, we must move forward. We need to come to agreement on what election reform should encompass and pursue that agenda with a single-minded focus. The Republicans have made clear the parameters of an election reform bill they will advance this Congress—one that does nothing or even takes us backwards by imposing onerous new requirements on voters. As we go back and forth on paper ballot or no paper ballot and assign ourselves to the pro-theft camp or the anti-theft camp, are we devoting the same energy to developing a consensus about what must be done to reform elections?

22: The number of times the phrase "voter identification" or "voter ID" was said at the first Carter-Baker Commission on Federal Election Reform hearing on April 18, 2005. The mantra of Republicans is that dogs, dead people, and cartoon characters are allowed to cast fraudulent votes. Republicans are advancing that strict voter identification requirements are the means to eliminate such voter fraud and state legislators are passing voter identification legislation as fast as they can with little debate or delay. In recent months, Indiana and Georgia have enacted voter identification requirements that have been characterized as some of the most severe and unreasonable voter identification requirements in the country. Several other state legislatures have similar legislation pending. At this first Carter-Baker Commission hearing, executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Barbara Arnwine told of the real-world consequences of these measures: More than 10 percent of eligible voters currently lack government-issued photo ID, and would be arbitrarily disenfranchised.

6: The number of days the American Center for Voting Rights, a new, "non-partisan," "voting rights" organization, had been in existence before it was called to testify by Republican members of Congress before a House Administration Committee hearing on March 22. The American Center for Voting Rights was formed by a lawyer for the Bush-Cheney campaign and the notoriously anti-voting rights Sen. Kit Bond of Missouri, who described the group as a non-partisan, voting rights advocacy group. He testified and submitted a report on Ohio election irregularities, which highlighted the Mary Poppins Conspiracy in this country. If you haven't heard about it, the Mary Poppins Conspiracy consists of many, many ineligible voters—using the names Mary Poppins, Dick Tracy and Jive F. Turkey—fraudulently voting in elections.

Unfortunately for advocates of this conspiracy theory, a precinct has yet to report that a citizen by the name of Mary Poppins showed up on Election Day and voted. Searches for Dick Tracy votes and Jive F. Turkey votes have also come up empty.

598: The number of days left in the 109th Congress to pass election reform legislation. The debate over whether voting machines were hacked or there was deliberate suppression of minority votes will continue. We should all agree—given the shoddy, unaccountable and unverifiable state of our election machinery and procedures—that, unless we act, the next close election will prompt the same debates and public confidence in our democracy will suffer a potentially fatal blow. Of even more importance, we must be vigilant as Republicans try to roll our voting rights backwards.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

The Biggest Story of Our Lives

The Huffington Post

At 5:00 p.m. Eastern time on Election Day, I checked the sportsbook odds in Las Vegas and via the offshore bookmakers to see the odds as of that moment on the Presidential election. John Kerry was a two-to-one favorite. You can look it up.

People who have lived in the sports world as I have, bettors in particular, have a feel for what I am about to say about this: these people are extremely scientific in their assessments. These people understand which information to trust and which indicators to consult in determining where to place a dividing line to influence bets, and they are not in the business of being completely wrong. Oddsmakers consulted exit polling and knew what it meant and acknowledged in their oddsmaking at that moment that John Kerry was winning the election.

And he most certainly was, at least if the votes had been fairly and legally counted. What happened instead was the biggest crime in the history of the nation, and the collective media silence which has followed is the greatest fourth-estate failure ever on our soil.

Many of the participants in this blog have graduate school educations. It is damned near impossible to go to graduate school in any but the most artistic disciplines without having to learn about the basics of social research and its uncanny accuracy and validity. We know that professionally conceived samples simply do not yield results which vary six, eight, ten points from eventual data returns, thaty's why there are identifiable margins for error. We know that margins for error are valid, and that results have fallen within the error range for every Presidential election for the past fifty years prior to last fall. NEVER have exit polls varied by beyond-error margins in a single state, not since 1948 when this kind of polling began. In this past election it happened in ten states, all of them swing states, all of them in Bush's favor. Coincidence? Of course not.

Karl Rove isn't capable of conceiving and executing such a grandiose crime? Wake up. They did it. The silence of traditional media on this subject is enough to establish their newfound bankruptcy. The revolution will have to start here. I challenge every other thinker at the Huffington Post: is there any greater imperative than to reverse this crime and reestablish democracy in America? Why the mass silence? Let's go to work with the circumstantial evidence, begin to narrow from the outside in, and find some witnesses who will turn. That's how they cracked Watergate. This is bigger, and I never dreamed I would say that in my baby boomer lifetime.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Is the NIST Technical Guidelines Development Committee Working for You, the Voter?

Voting Machine Rulemakers Poised to Violate Their Public Interest Mandate
by John Gideon
www.dissidentvoice.org
May 5, 2005

Should the makers of voting machines set the standards that their voting machines must live up to in order to satisfy the public interest? Though the answer is obviously “No”, a recent meeting of a technical subcommittee of the Election Assistance Commission shows that this is happening, yet the EAC may reveal these new standards, on or about July 1, coupled with a claim that they adequately protect the heart of democracy.

By way of background, the National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST) was chartered by the Elections Assistance Commission to provide updated standards against which all voting machines will be tested in order to be qualified for use. Presently voting technology is qualified to standards that were written in 1990 or 2002. The charter instructs NIST to form a committee to be called the Technical Guidelines Development Committee (TGDC). This committee is to operate with guidance from the EAC charter and with funding coming from the EAC.

The TGDC has been holding public meetings as they go through the suggested standards they have developed for qualifying all voting systems. They are modifying or deleting suggested standards in order to have a finished product that will set the standards for the industry.

Among the guidelines laid out for this committee by the EAC charter is a requirement, in law, that the committee operate in the public interest. The seventh of the "Administrative Provisions" shows a concern by the EAC that there be no conflict of interest in the decision makers.

Given the “protections” against conflicts of interest and in favor of the public interest, we might expect good things to come out of the committee. However, reports from witnesses to the April 20/21 meeting of the TGDC are quite troubling. During discussions of voter verified paper audit trail requirements, Dr. Brit Williams, a member of the committee, stated that he opposes any new standards that would make technology already purchased non-compliant. Paul Craft, another member of the committee, then suggested that they hear from the vendor engineers who were in the audience to see what they would do about the proposed standards. At this point, Dr. Semerjian, the chairman of the committee and the Director of NIST, said that the TGDC is not in existence to approve existing voting systems, nor rubber stamp state decisions. The committee then went on a break.

Upon return from the break Paul Craft announced that he had talked to the vendors and that they did not like some of the standards. A vote was then held and those standards were deleted.

It is clear that the EAC charter is not being followed in that conflicts of interest are dictating the workings of this committee. It appears that this committee is not operating in the public interest, but in the interest of the vendors by dropping (and likely adding) items to achieve industry objectives.

It must be pointed out that Dr. Brit Williams and Paul Craft both have individual conflicts of interest. Dr. Williams has been an outspoken defender of DRE voting systems and has worked closely with Diebold as the company’s ally in Georgia. Dr. Williams was one of the architects of the voting system presently being used in Georgia. Can he be expected to approve standards that are counter to decisions that he has made in regards to the Georgia voting system?

As an official in the Florida Secretary of State’s office, Mr. Craft is a defender of DRE voting systems. He, like Dr. Williams, is constantly called on to defend the voting machines used in some Florida counties. Can he be expected to turn his back on decisions he has already supported in Florida?

Those who have conflicts of interest usually say they can still maintain objectivity, but the rules on conflicts of interest put no weight on those kinds of self-serving statements. It is apparent that, in appointing Dr. Williams and Mr. Craft to the committee, NASED "stacked the deck" with pro-industry partisans.

The committee's proceedings on April 20/21 reveal that the standards established by this committee will be heavily favorable to the voting machine industry and not necessarily what is in the public interest. What this committee is doing is tantamount to the federal government allowing the baby crib industry to write their own safety standards for cribs. If that had been done, poorly designed cribs would still be causing the deaths of thousands of babies every year.

How many times does democracy have to suffer before these committees learn that for democracy to thrive, they must follow the public interest; and the public’s interest alone?

(Author’s Note: This article was sent to both NIST and the EAC asking for their comments prior to release. Both organizations were given three days to respond and neither chose to accept the invitation.)

John Gideon is the Information Manager for VotersUnite.Org and VoteTrustUSA. VotersUnite! is a national non-partisan organization dedicated to fair and accurate elections. It focuses on distributing well-researched information to elections officials, elected officials, the media, and the public; as well as providing activists with information they need to work toward transparent elections in their communities. John can be reached at: jgideon@votersunite.org.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Debate on renewal of voting act heats up

By Don Schanche Jr.

Telegraph Staff Writer

For 40 years, Georgia and most of the South, plus a few other states, have lived under a law that says they may not change their voting procedures without first getting approval called "preclearance" from the federal government.

The requirement is in Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, passed after civil rights workers were bloodied in Selma, Ala., as they challenged discriminatory laws that barred black people from the elections process.

But Section 5 and other special provisions of the Voting Rights Act will expire in 2007, unless Congress decides to renew them.

And already a debate is brewing over what Congress should do.

Civil rights activists are gathering testimony to show that racism still infects the election process, and the need for federal oversight remains.

"The persistence of racial bloc voting suggests to us we still need the remedy of the Voting Rights Act and the special provisions," said Debo Adegbile, associate director of litigation for the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund.

Last week, the Rev. Jesse Jackson promised to hold a national march in Atlanta on Aug. 6 to fight for reauthorization of those provisions.

But others say that even if the special provisions of the Voting Rights Act were needed 40 years ago, the South and the nation have outgrown them.

"There's no evidence the conditions in the covered states still require preclearance. You can expect a wholesale revision of Section 5 to go before Congress," said Phil Kent of Atlanta, former president of the conservative Southeastern Legal Foundation and one-time staffer for the late U.S. Sen. Strom Thurmond.

Congress passed the Voting Rights Act to put teeth in the constitutional guarantee of the right to vote. Parts of that law - such as Section 2, which prohibits discrimination in voting procedures - are permanent and apply nationwide.

But Section 5, along with other special provisions governing the use of federal election monitors and special bilingual ballots for language minorities, are temporary.

Congress has renewed and strengthened them several times, most recently with a 25-year renewal in 1982.

Section 5 applies in all or parts of 16 states. Although most of them are in the South, portions of New York, California, Michigan and New Hampshire also fall under the act.

One thing, at least, is indisputable: The Voting Rights Act has revolutionized Georgia and the South.

Before the act was passed, you could count all of Georgia's black elected officials on one hand. Today, the Georgia Association of Black Elected Officials counts more than 700 members. Georgia's legislative black caucus is the largest in the nation.

Dozens of Georgia cities and counties have seen their election systems overhauled under the Voting Rights Act to give minorities a better chance to elect representatives of their choice.

State Sen. Robert Brown, D-Macon, said, "There's no doubt in my mind that we would not have these numbers had it not been for the Voting Rights Act. You take it from there down to mayor, city council, school board - just a whole range of elected offices - and compare it to 45 years ago, and immediately see the value of the Voting Rights Act."

But what about Section 5, and its application to a limited number of states?

As freshman U.S. Rep. Lynn Westmoreland, R-Sharpsburg, sees it, the special provisions should be extended to cover the entire nation or done away with altogether.

"I think the Section 5 part of it either needs to affect everybody or nobody," Westmoreland said.

It's a sentiment echoed by others who chafe under the stigma of being singled out.

"I'm old enough to remember being preached at by some very sanctimonious Northeastern folks about how much we needed to be overseen by them and others," said Rogers Wade, president of the nonpartisan, conservative-leaning Georgia Public Policy Foundation. "If those laws are still necessary, then they ought to be shared with the rest of the country. And if they want to renew it, it should be renewed for all 50 states. Because our record in the South is much better in nearly every respect than any other region in the country."

Laughlin McDonald, of the American Civil Liberties Union's southern regional office, said that argument is a smokescreen for killing Section 5.

"The problem with the nationwide (proposal) is that it would be almost impossible to administer Section 5 because there would be hundreds of thousands of these things," he said. "There would be no way the Department of Justice could administer Section 5."

Another problem, McDonald said: It would mean extending a legal remedy to places that never had a problem. And if Congress were do do that, he said, the U.S. Supreme Court very likely would strike down the law.

Former Thurmond staffer Kent pointed out that the act requires preclearance of even minor changes, such as moving a polling place, and that most changes are routinely precleared.

"It shows the Section 5 coverage is too broad, and it's an enormous waste of time and resources," Kent said.

Adegbile of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People Legal Defense and Education Fund said the value of the preclearance requirement lies partly in what it prevents.

"That procedure deters many jurisdictions from proposing voting changes that are discriminatory in the first place," he said. "When policy-makers know their work is going to be reviewed, he said, they are "less likely to do something that is intentionally discriminatory or has retrogressive effects."

State Rep. Tyrone Brooks, D-Atlanta, said Georgia's recent General Assembly session provided evidence that preclearance is still essential. The state Legislature passed a law requiring voters to bring a photo ID to the polls. Republican supporters said it's aimed at stemming voter fraud. But Democrats and civil rights leaders protested that it will unduly hamper poor, black, elderly and rural voters. Under Section 5, the law won't go into effect until the U.S. Justice Department or a federal court approves it.

"It proves the point that the Voting Rights Act is critical, particularly to Southern states as far as these states moving the clock back," Brooks said.

Rep. John Lewis, D-Atlanta, fought for the Voting Rights Act with his own blood. He was among the marchers who were clubbed in Selma in 1965. He still bears the scars.

"I think there's a need to renew Section 5," he said. "We've made a lot of progress, there have been a lot of changes. But there is still progress to be made. It's been 40 years, but I think we still need preclearance and the sections that will expire in 2007 so we will not be tempted to go back."

Lewis said that although President Bush hasn't indicated which course he favors, the president recently demonstrated a distressing lack of knowledge about the issue. It happened a few months ago when members of the Congressional Black Caucus were meeting with the president. One of the congressmen asked Bush if he favored extending Section 5.

"He said he didn't know enough about it to make a comment on it," Lewis recalled. "I think the members of the Congress couldn't believe it. Because the president had been the governor of Texas, and Texas is one of the states covered by the Voting Rights Act of 1965. We all thought he should know something about the Voting Rights Act. ... It was unreal."

But Lewis said he is optimistic that the extension will find bipartisan support in Congress.

So is U.S. Rep. Jim Marshall, D-Macon.

"I would expect the next Congress will approve renewal of the Voting Rights Act without significant amendments," Marshall said. "Frankly, I'll be surprised if there's a big fight about this."

But Westmoreland said, "I think they'll either make Section 5 apply across the country or it'll be done away with, period."

Macon lawyer and conservative blogger Stephen Dillard said there's no question that Section 5 was needed 40 years ago.

But he asked, "How long do we maintain what the Department of Justice has referred to as 'extraordinary remedies'? ... What I would say is I think it's time for a lot of these provisions to go. You look at a town like Macon, the diversity at the local level, in terms of the types of people. You have men, women, white, black. You have the full spectrum of people from all sorts of racial and socioeconomic backgrounds who are now running the city and the county and the state and the country for that matter. Especially in the South. I think it's time to allow the new South to take hold. We are not the same South we used to be."

Sunday, May 01, 2005

What Can We the People Do About Election Fraud?

April 26, 2005 By Ernest Partridge, The Crisis Papers

During the two and a half years that The Crisis Papers has been on the web, we have posted hundreds of articles and links on our Election 2004 Fraud and Electoral Integrity pages. In addition I have written and published numerous essays about the issue, most recently just two weeks ago. On each occasion, I have received numerous letters telling me "I'm convinced that the elections are fraudulent," then asking, "now what can I do about it?"

Here is a partial answer. Partial, because if honest and verifiable elections are ever to return to the United States it will be because this question will be asked relentlessly by an outraged public.

Electoral integrity is arguably the most important political issue to face the American people since the founding of our democracy, as it raises the question of whether, in fact, we still have a democracy. For if, as the skeptics contend, the outcome of our federal elections are decided before a single vote is cast, then the government of the United States no longer "[derives] its just powers from the consent of the governed." Despite what we are told from Washington, or by the corporate media, this is not a government "of, by, and for the people."

The grounds for suspicion about the integrity of our elections are simple, straightforward, and undisputed. In federal elections, thirty percent of the votes are cast and eighty percent of the votes are regionally compiled in machines (a) utilizing secret software, (b) producing no independent record of the votes (e.g. paper trails), and (c) manufactured by active members and supporters of the Republican Party. In sum, the system in place is effectively designed, either deliberately or accidentally, to facilitate fraud.

Moreover, remedies for these shortcomings are readily available, and in fact, in use. These include (a) a requirement that software (source codes) be made public (as in Australia), and (b) production of a separate paper ballot to be inspected by the voter (as in Nevada). In addition, voting machines could be selected at random, during elections, and examined for accuracy. And central compiling could be done "in parallel" by two distinct and independent methodologies.
These black box voting machines now in use inevitably raise questions as to the legitimacy of the elections. For if the current system is as honest as the winners (i.e., the Republicans) tell us it is, why do they oppose these guarantees? Would not the winners want these suspicions to be put to rest? Why, then, do they doggedly oppose reforms that would validate the honesty of our elections? Causes one to wonder, does it not?

Add to this the accumulating evidence that our elections have in fact been fixed. This includes (a) anecdotal evidence from voters – e.g. malfunctioning screens, "lost" registrations, etc., (b) public demonstrations of simulated vote fraud, (for example, the CNBC demonstration by Bev Harris and Howard Dean – see here and here), (c) impossible and improbable vote totals – e.g. more votes reported than registered voters, and negative vote totals, (d) exit poll discrepancies – accurate polls in precincts with validated (e.g. paper) ballots, inaccurate polls in precincts with black box machine voting and all discrepancies favoring one candidate or party, and (e) statistical analyses of these anomalies.

Because the evidence of machine voting fraud has been extensively published elsewhere, I will not elaborate here. (For a list of websites and articles dealing with voting fraud, see The Crisis Papers pages on Election Fraud 2004 and Electoral Integrity).

So what is to be done about this outrage?

The Media Problem

Don't expect help from the mainstream media – at least, not without some persistent and creative pressure from the public. The issue of voting fraud is virtually absent from the media, except for occasional debunkings of the skeptics. There are reports that "top down" orders have been given to media staff to say and write nothing about the issue, and that violations of these orders are career-enders. True or not, the media behaves as if such orders have been given. There is a black hole of reporting on ballot integrity. As for investigative reporting, fagetaboutit.
What to do? We begin by acknowledging this problem, and then proceed to locate the pressure points that might budge the media from its negligence.

Ask an ordinary citizen, "Who are the sellers and the customers, and what is the product, of the broadcast mass media?" and you will likely be told that the TV and radio networks are the sellers, the audience are the customers, and the programming is the product. Wrong! In fact, the media corporations are the sellers, the corporate sponsors are the customers, and the attention ("eyes") of the public is the product. If you doubt this, then just follow the money. It flows from the sponsors to the broadcasters.

So therein is the pressure point: if the public withdraws the product, namely its attention, the public can starve the beast. This is the crucial difference between the media in the Soviet Union and the media in United States. The Soviet Commissars didn't care a whit if Pravda, Izvestiya and Gostelradio failed to turn a profit, so long as they continued to spew out the party line. In the US, profit is the sine qua non – the whole point of having a media at all.

Case in point: the Sinclair Broadcasting "Stolen Honor" fiasco. As you likely recall, in the closing days of the Presidential campaign, Sinclair scheduled "Stolen Honor," a smear of John Kerry's Vietnam service. Following a public outcry, Sinclair withdrew the program. And why? A sudden realization of civic responsibility? Ya gotta be kidding! Fear of offending the public? Yes, but not directly. In fact, the Sinclair management, solid supporters of George Bush and the GOP, buckled from pressure from the stockholders.

The offended public was removing its eyes from the Sinclair TV screens. Hence lower ratings and lower profits. Sinclair management was ungently reminded that their job was not to campaign for George Bush, their job was to provide a return on the stockholders' investments. Failing that, management might quite properly be sued, or at least booted out, at the next stockholders' meeting.

The immediate target of our protest is not the mainstream media at large, it is the mainstream news media. And that beast is starving even today. The credibility of the corporate news media is in free-fall. Timothy Maier reports that:

For two decades polls increasingly have indicated public dismay at the spin and fantasies of the press. In fact, a recent Gallup Poll says Americans rate the trustworthiness of journalists at about the level of politicians and as only slightly more credible than used-car salesmen. The poll suggests that only 21 percent of Americans believe journalists have high ethical standards, ranking them below auto mechanics but tied with members of Congress. More precisely, the poll notes that only one in four people believe what they read in the newspapers. Chicago Tribune Editor Charles M. Madigan may have put it best when he offered this advice: "If you are a journalist, you should probably just assume that you come across as a liar." ... The study also points out that there has been a rapid decline in newspaper readership since the 1980s, with slightly more than half of Americans, 54 percent, reading a newspaper during the week.

The prospects for the future are grim, as the younger cohorts are particularly cool to the media. In a recent speech, Rupert Murdoch (no less!) noted that the 18-34 age group was abandoning newspapers for the Internet. Furthermore, he reported that "only 9%" of this group "describe us as trustworthy, a scant 8% find us useful, and only 4% think we're entertaining."

Professional journalists find these statistics alarming. On the contrary, I find them very hopeful. The mainstream news media have richly deserved this public contempt, as they have increasingly become purveyors of trivia and conduits of official right-wing propaganda, and decreasingly independent investigative watchdogs serving the public interest. The public, especially the younger cohort, knows this and is now looking elsewhere for its news.

With the abandonment of responsible broadcast journalism in favor of trivial "info-tainment," there is a latent demand for the "old-style" reporting and investigations of pros such as Edward R. Murrow, Walter Cronkite, and Woodward and Bernstein. Surely such an enterprise would be commercially viable. To paraphrase Field of Dreams, if they build it the public will come.

And so the news media, desperate for recovery, need to be told, time and again, that if they want our attention, they had better declare their independence and get back to the business of investigating and reporting significant public issues. And they might start with the most important issue of all: the integrity of our ballots.

Our job: tell the media, and their sponsors, that we no longer trust their news reporting, and are now looking elsewhere. And while we are at it, we should collect and distribute the names and addresses of media and sponsors, and encourage still others to voice their complaints. (The Democratic Underground's outstanding Local Media Blaster can supply this information. See also The Crisis Papers' Activist's Page).

Progressive Voices on the Commercial Broadcast Media. Air American Radio is a good start – but merely a start. A progressive cable news channel – an "anti-FOX" - is long overdue, and as the past election campaign demonstrated, start-up funds are available from such major sources as George Soros and Warren Buffet.

The Internet and Alternative Media. Unless and until the mainstream news media acknowledge and deal with the ballot integrity issue, the progressive Internet and the alternative media must be supported and encouraged to publicize the problem of ballot fraud. In your public and private e-mails, include links to the websites and the particular articles that deal with the issue. Download, print, and copy these articles, and pass them around to your friends and associates.

Recruit Allies. Regrettably, many prominent progressives are not convinced that the past election was fixed - among them, Paul Begala, Al Franken, Arianna Huffington, and Bernie Sanders. To this day, the Democratic Party is mute on the issue, as is the progressive think-tank, The Center for American Progress. Demand that they examine the evidence and challenge them to refute it. And if they can't, tell them to join the fight.

Where are the Books? Effective political movements have a supporting literature. The American Revolution had Tom Paine and Common Sense. The Civil War had Uncle Tom's Cabin. The supporting documents of the electoral reform movement are compelling, but they are diffuse. The defining and catalyzing book – the book that is held aloft at the public meetings, cited in the media and in the letters to Congress – that work is desperately needed and overdue. Perhaps it is still in progress, or even now at the publishers. If not, will some genius (and our cause has several) please write that book!

Perhaps such a book exists, but no American publisher dares to print it. In that case, the author might look abroad and import it. (And what a message that would convey about the state of our "free" press!) In the meantime, or instead, the book should be put on the Internet.

Send a Message to the Democrats. Those who contributed to the Democrats and the Kerry Campaign are surely receiving numerous solicitations for donations. Find them, take out a red felt pen, and write something like: "Unless the Democratic Party addresses the problem of voting fraud, its time and my contribution will be wasted. Secure my vote, and I will once again contribute generously. Until then, nada!"

Demand Action on the Local Level. As Ohio's Kenneth Blackwell dramatically demonstrated, federal elections are administered on the state level. Election fraud is a violation of both federal and state laws. Obviously neither Attorney General Gonzales nor the Republican Congress will touch the issue. However, there must surely be a state with a Democratic Governor and/or Legislature and/or Attorney General that could investigate, indict, and prosecute some culprits involved in the Great Election Robbery of 2004. And if elected officials refuse to take the initiative, citizen groups and defeated candidates should file law suits. With the threat of perjury and imprisonment, and the prosecutor's power of investigative discovery, some culprit somewhere might break, then another and another, whereupon the whole rotten system of fraud and cover-up might collapse. It happened to Richard Nixon, and it can happen again.

The voting fraud issue is a sleeping giant that the Busheviks, with the determined complicity of the mainstream media, are desperately trying to keep asleep. Few appreciate just how daunting a task this is. As we noted at the outset of this essay, the opportunity for fraud is known and undisputed. The evidence published, available, and compelling. There is no refutation other than "trust us," "get over it," "let's move on," "don't be so paranoid," and other such irrelevancies.

Bush, the GOP and their media allies hope that if they ignore the issue and direct public attention elsewhere, the sleeping giant will not stir. But if I were Bush, Rove, Cheney, or the rest, I'd be afraid – I'd be very afraid. For now Bush's approval ratings are falling even as gas prices, interests rates, and the consumer price index rise. And all these may be harbingers of much worse to come. As the dire economic costs to almost everybody of the Bushevik plunder become more apparent, the American public will become ever more receptive to the idea that they were criminally robbed of their franchise in (at least) the past three federal elections, that the Bush Administration and the Republican Congress lack legitimacy, and that the American people are no longer, in any authentic sense, citizens of a free society.

Those of us who are aware of the electoral crime against the American people must steadfastly sound the alarm and arouse the sleeping giant. No doubt many of you who read this essay will have still more ideas. Share them with us. Send your suggestions to me at crisispapers@hotmail.com, and I promise to collect and publish a selection of them in The Crisis Papers.