portland independent media center  
images audio video
newswire article reposts united states

corporate dominance | election fraud | human & civil rights

The Tangled Web of American E-Voting, overview

E-vote for the Fuhrer!
Vote for the Fuhrer! More power to the Fuhrer! E-vote for the Fuhrer!
Vote for the Fuhrer! More power to the Fuhrer! E-vote for the Fuhrer!
Article & Essay: The Tangled Web of American Voting

----------------------------------------------

Remember, in 2002, Arkansas Secretary of State Bill McCuen pleaded guilty to felony charges that he took bribes, evaded taxes, and accepted kickbacks. According to the Baton Rouge Advocate, "Part of the case involved Business Records Corporation, which has now merged to become Election Systems & Software. Arkansas officials said the scheme involved Tom Eschberger, an employee of BRC. Eschberger got immunity from prosecution for his cooperation. Today, he's a top executive of ES&S."

----------------------------------------------



An investigation into the serious election problems that occurred in various state primaries and the behind the scenes difficulties with our voting system.
By Elaine Kitchel


This is a follow-up to Ms. Kitchel's earlier article, Today Indiana, Tomorrow Your State


Tangled does not even begin to describe the messy web made of our voting system. It's not only tangled; it's matted, convoluted, and it stinks to high heaven. And dead center in the web is a dangerous little "black box" with a red hourglass on it. The black box is inside each and every voting machine, and it holds the source code for every function of encoding, decoding, identification, authentication, and tallying of votes put into it. And the source code belongs to the two companies which manufacture and sell the electronic voting machines that could be responsible for counting roughly 80% of the votes in November's election.

What else does the black box hold? Ah, that's the sixty-four-thousand-dollar question. In the case of Diebold, which has sold electronic voting machines all over the country, including twenty counties in Ohio, a key state, the box holds a nifty little piece of code that can be opened without a password using Microsoft Access. According to Bev Harris, activist and author of Black Box Voting, this code makes three ledgers. The first ledger is the actual vote and tally. This can be sent off from a precinct to the state's central election location. But the second ledger can be manipulated to reflect any votes and tallies one wishes. The results from this ledger can be sent instead of the first, with no one being the wiser. It's so simple, anyone who can read can do it. Now isn't that handy? No one knows what the third ledger does, except Diebold, and probably ES&S. Read more about this here: Inside a U.S. Election Vote Counting Program.

Another big player in election machines is ES&S. What would you say if you knew that the founders of Diebold and ES&S were brothers? That's right; Todd and Bob Urosevich are top dogs in each of these companies. Bob Urosevich, the CEO and founder of ES&S, oversaw the development of the software that is now used in his brother's Diebold machines. I'm betting both have a similar code inside the black boxes. Cozy, isn't it? Both are Republicans and have influential Republicans Walden O'Dell and Chuck Hagel in the upper reaches of their corporate structures, and these men have promised to "deliver" the election to George Bush. It's easy to see how that could happen, now that we know what's in the black boxes. And what's more, neither company will declare that what comes out of its machines represents the actual vote. Even so, states just keep buying the machines.

Some states have had trial runs of their ES&S/Diebold machines already. In its primaries, California had numerous problems with its Diebolds. Some estimates of failure rates of the machines go as high as twenty-five percent. Many of California's voters were not able to vote at all. As a result, California's election oversight committee has decertified the machines and recommended to the state's Attorney General that Diebold be criminally charged for violation of California's election law. Diebold is scrambling to repair sections of the code and get re-certified.

Arkansas has some of the same problems. Lisa Burks, an election activist, writes, "Unfortunately Arkansas still uses the ES&S machines sold by the corrupt vendor in our elections. We have had major problems with their optical scanners, including misprogrammed computer chips during our recent May 18th primary." Even so, some of Arkansas' machines were "reconditioned" and sold to Florida, where they remain still.

Burks continues to say that there are shenanigans aplenty. Here's just one. "A local printer I spoke to told me that he was told to print infrared sensitive numbers on the backs of ballots, not by election officials, but by the vendors. ES&S in our case. We have their machines in 55 of our 75 counties. That printer knew I was active on the voting machine issue and asked me why they would have him do such a thing. He said he questioned the infrared numbers being printed on the backs of the ballots, but did it because 'they told him to.' He did this for a period of time, did not say how long, then the vendors suddenly told him to stop doing it." Burks states that she could find no one related to the elections who knew what the infrared numbers were used for.

Remember, in 2002, Arkansas Secretary of State Bill McCuen pleaded guilty to felony charges that he took bribes, evaded taxes, and accepted kickbacks. According to the Baton Rouge Advocate, "Part of the case involved Business Records Corporation, which has now merged to become Election Systems & Software. Arkansas officials said the scheme involved Tom Eschberger, an employee of BRC. Eschberger got immunity from prosecution for his cooperation. Today, he's a top executive of ES&S."

And don't forget Florida. There's no way to give you a real sense of how messed up Florida is. An entire book would not be enough. But here are a few things to consider:

DBT On-Line of Boca Raton has now admitted wrongdoing after being sued by the NAACP for violating Floridians' civil rights in the 2000 election. They have turned over to the NAACP's lawyers a report indicating that the state, under the supervision of Katharine Harris, ordered the purge of 94,000 voters and, according to the company's data, no more than 3,000 would have been illegal voters. Most, though not all, of the purged names belonged to black Democrats.
Sandra Mortham, a Republican, was responsible for bringing ES&S machines into Florida as a lobbyist for the company. The funny thing was, she was also a lobbyist for the Florida Association of Counties, which was purchasing the machines. Mortham has admitted taking kickbacks from ES&S for every machine sold to the Association.
Ed Kast resigned his post last Tuesday as Florida's election chief. Kast's resignation comes as scrutiny of the 2004 election process intensifies, and after some voting machines in the primaries failed to respond to voters' input.
Jeb Bush recently signed into law a bill doing away with the witness signature previously required on absentee ballots. Absentee ballot fraud has been an ongoing problem in South Florida, with candidates often buying ballots or stealing them from unsuspecting senior citizens in nursing homes and condominiums. In 1997, a Miami election was overturned for this kind of fraud.

Don't hold your breath for a fair election in Florida. In fact, don't hold it for a fair election anywhere. Without a paper trail, votes simply cannot be verified, and that's what unscrupulous politicians and their accomplices in the voting machine industry are depending on. How hard is it to make a paper trail? Here's what a Diebold spokesman had to say: "While Diebold is certainly capable of producing receipt printers, we currently have no plans to manufacture receipt printers primarily because our customers haven't requested it." Some states are beginning to request it since that statement was made, but not many.

Every voter has the right to expect his vote to be counted. And every voter has the right to make his election officials PROVE that a fair election has taken place in his state. But without a paper trail that verifies each vote, no election official can prove the reliability of the vote. This opens the door for litigation to improve the system. Ed Kast won't be the only official resigning this year.

So if the picture for a fair election is so bleak, why should you vote? Here are a few reasons:
Most election officials are decent folk. You may live in a county or precinct where officials take great care and do their jobs. Your vote may get counted.
If you don't vote, you have no right to complain. Can you really keep your mouth shut for four more years?
If you do vote, and your party's vote is skewed or manipulated, you can help fix the problem by joining in a suit against the offenders. Often, this is the only way to change things.

So why isn't Kerry worried? Why isn't he holding his nose? We've heard nothing from him on this issue. We know why Bush isn't complaining. Is John Kerry confident there will be more talented hackers on the Democratic side? Does he know something we don't? I'm puzzled. Aren't you?

Here's John Kerry's website, where you can find an address if you would like to write to ask him.

Read more about the paperless vote: Count the Vote, as well as Ms. Kitchel's earlier article, Today Indiana, Tomorrow Your State.

Elaine Kitchel lives in Indiana where she is a research scientist. She closely watches the political scene and writes about it, instead of jumping from her 4th floor office window in disgust. You can email Elaine at  Elaine@interventionmag.com

Posted Sunday, June 13, 2004

 link to www.interventionmag.com