Elections & Voting
Let's get real about our rigged voting system
By Bev Conover
Online Journal Editor & Publisher

Mar 10, 2006, 00:40

Writer after writer keeps talking about how we are just going to march into the polls come November and vote the monsters out. If only that were true.

The system is rigged, folks. Just like oil and water, computers and voting don't mix. And that includes touch screens, optically-scanned ballots, even punch cards that are tabulated by computers. Worse, the voting equipment is in the hands of partisan private firms and they deny you the right to see the code, claiming it is proprietary information.

Adding so-called "verifiable" paper receipts to touch screens would be meaningless, because a handful of scumbags still can change the results just enough to give their candidates a win without triggering a hand recount.

Is this so hard to understand? It must be, because we, Bev Harris, Lynn Landes Bob Fitrakis and others have been screaming about this elephant in the room for nearly six years.

Bev Harris and her Black Box Voting team have proved in state after state how easily computers can be rigged. Lynn Landes' voting rights lawsuit has made its way to the US Supreme Court (Docket No. 05-930), where she intends to represent herself.

"I tried to get civil rights organizations interested in this case, but had no luck.  Their disregard for this issue is incredible.  It's clear to me that without direct access to a physical ballot and meaningful transparency in the process, our elections have no integrity whatsoever," Landes said.

Fitrakis and three other attorneys, who filed a 1awsuit questioning the results of the 2004 presidential election in Ohio, found themselves the target of Ohio Attorney General James Petro, who sought stiff legal sanctions against the four for filing a "political nuisance" lawsuit.

In a Feb. 3, 2005, Free Press article, Steve Rosenfeld and Harvey Wasserman wrote, "In documents filed with the Ohio Supreme Court, Petro�s office charges that the citizen contestors -- Ohio voters -- and their attorneys lacked evidence and proceeded in bad faith to file the challenge. Petro says the election challenge was a 'political nuisance' lawsuit, and as such, the legal team should be fined -- personally -- many thousands of dollars."

That ploy backfired on Petro, when more documents were entered into evidence, including the 102-page Status Report of the House Judiciary Democratic Staff entitled "What Went Wrong in Ohio?", further exposing the 2004 skullduggery. While Petro's sanction motion was denied by the Ohio Supreme Court, the voters lost again when the case was dismissed.

But instead of remedying the situation, the legislature passed and Gov. Robert Taft, the only sitting Ohio governor ever convicted of a crime, signed into law on Jan. 31 a draconian bill (HB 3), which Fitakris noted in a Dec. 7 article, "HB3's most publicized provision will require positive identification before casting a vote. But it also opens voter registration activists to partisan prosecution, exempts electronic voting machines from public scrutiny, quintuples the cost of citizen-requested statewide recounts and makes it illegal to challenge a presidential vote count or, indeed, any federal election result in Ohio. When added to the recently passed HB1, which allows campaign financing to be dominated by the wealthy and by corporations, and along with a Rovian wish list of GOP attacks on the ballot box, democracy in Ohio could be all but over."

So what chance do you think Fitrakis, who is now a Green Party candidate for Ohio governor, has against the winner of the GOP primary -- either Petro or Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell, the man at the center of the 2004 vote horror? Ditto for whoever wins the Democratic primary.

While the Bushistas have learned to be a bit more careful in the wake of the 2000 Florida debacle, stuff happens, as Donald Rumsfeld would say. Perhaps Florida in 2000 and Ohio in 2004 were diversions to keep people from looking at the skullduggery that went on everywhere. For example, George W. Bush received an extra 100,000 votes -- "phantom votes," as Chris Floyd called them -- in Alaska in 2004.

Floyd wrote, " A good example of how this control really works can be found in Alaska. There, the state Democratic Party has long been seeking an audit of some of the 2004 Diebold-counted returns, which produced a series of strange anomalies � including awarding George W. Bush an extra 100,000 votes that turned out to be phantoms. First, state officials blocked the request because that information � the vote count of a public election � was a "company secret" that belonged exclusively to Diebold, Friedman reports. Then they decided that the returns could be examined � but only on the condition that Diebold and the Republican officials be allowed to "manipulate the data" before it was released. In the end, even this tainted transparency was too much for the Bushist ballot crunchers; late last month, Alaska officials suddenly declared that examining the returns would pose a dire but unspecified "security risk" to the state.

Yet, writers blat on and on about what the Democrats need to do to win, as if the Democratic cretins were any better than the Republican cretins, and how "progressives" of any stripe need support in the primaries and general election.

Meanwhile, the Bushes and their criminal allies continue on their merry way, pulling off "miraculous" win after "miraculous" win. Hey, God is on their side and if the exit polls say the other guy or gal should have won, declare the exit polls erroneous.

Some pundits are even foolish enough to think that a little bribery scandal spells the end of Rep. Katherine Harris' bid for a US Senate seat. Harris, who, as Florida's secretary of state, pulled every dirty trick in the book to hand the Sunshine State's electoral votes to George W. in 2000, was rewarded with a seat in the US House of Representatives. So why not a Senate seat? Harris, unlike Tom DeLay, hasn't yet been indicted, and an indictment didn't stop DeLay from "winning" his primary bid against three opponents. Harris will be gone only if the powers that be, not the voters, want her gone.

Elections, for most people, used to be a relatively simple thing. They took a paper ballot into a voting booth and penciled an X next to the names of the candidates they favored. The paper ballot was then dropped into a locked box. At the end of the voting day, the box was opened and the votes were counted one by one. Most states even allowed the public to witness the counting.

Sure, it was slow and, depending on the length of a ballot, the election board workers tended to gripe. For the voters, though, election nights used to be filled with anticipation and excitement as the results trickled in. So the question comes down to do we want accurate and honest vote counts or fast and crooked vote counts?

If it's fast and crooked, stay with easily rigged computers. If it is accurate and honest, demand a return to paper ballots, which make it much harder to steal a statewide, congressional or presidential election.

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