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Elections & Voting Last Updated: May 16th, 2006 - 00:48:03

Will the major media finally cover the electronic election fraud issue?
By Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman
Online Journal Guest Writers

May 16, 2006, 00:45

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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 of Pennsylvania residents, found that �39 percent said that the 2004 election was stolen. 54 percent 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 percent 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 percent; MSNBC, 65 percent; CBS, 64 percent; ABC, 56 percent; Other, 56 percent; NBC, 49 percent; FOX 0.5 percent.

With 99 percent 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 has been issuing definitive research since Florida 2000. 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 at Pittsburgh's high-tech Carnegie-Mellon University, called it "the most severe security flaw ever discovered in a voting system."

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 fears."

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 lawsuits 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. 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 hacked.

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 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 touch-screen Direct Recording Electronic machines (DREs) while holding stock in the company. Under HB3 Blackwell will decide whether the machines will be audited or not in an election where he is running for governor.

"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.

Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman are co-authors of "How the GOP Stole America's 2004 Election and Is Rigging 2008". They are co-editors, with Steve Rosenfeld, of "What Happened in Ohio?" soon to be published by The New Press.

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