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"The Fix Is In"
"The election is over. We won." (Reporter's voice - "How do you know that?") "It's all over, but the counting. And we'll take care of the counting."
That was Republican Congressman Peter King of New York. He made those remarks just BEFORE the 2004 presidential election.
Hi. Iím Lynn Landes. Iím a freelance journalist and publisher of the website, EcoTalk.org. I want to thank you for taking the time to watch this brief video.
Our elections are in deep trouble. Many Americans no longer believe that voting results are accurate. More and more voters are learning first-hand that voting machines are completely unreliable and that many of our election officials are untrustworthy. But whatís at the core of this crisis? The secret ballot.
Any ballot in America can be easily miscounted either by accident or design, regardless of whether itís a paper ballot or electronic vote. That's because modern Americans vote by secret ballot. A secret ballot is an anonymous ballot, which means it canít be traced to the voter. Weíve been told thatís a good deal for us, that it protects us against harassment and vote selling. But, itís a much better deal for those who want to rig elections and not get caught. Itís time we scrap the secrecy and go public with our votes.
In this video youíll hear a startling admission from a voting company representative, I offer some practical advice on how to verify or challenge election returns through the collection of voter affidavits, And I make the case for a return to total transparency in voting, what I call ďOpen VotingĒ
The fact is our elections are easy to rig because of how we vote. It wasnít always this way. Prior to the Civil War, voting was a completely observable process. It was only after the Civil War, as the right to vote expanded to African Americans, that the voting process itself began to recede from public view and meaningful oversight. It started with absentee voting by the military in the 1870ís, the use of secret ballots in the 1880ís, and voting by machine in the 1890ís. Today, approximately 30% of all voting is conducted early or by absentee, 95% of all votes are processed by machines, and 100% of all ballots are secret and anonymous.
Worse yet, most of the voting process in America has been privatized and outsourced to a handful of domestic companies and multi-national corporations. One company, Sequoia, is foreign-owned. And just two companies (ES&S and Diebold) process 80% of all votes in the United States. These companies make, sell, and service both ballot scanners and touchscreen machines.
Although most of the debate over security issues has been framed to target suspicion on outside hackers and backdoors, it is in fact company insiders who have the keys to the front door and complete access to the electronic ballot box. For all practical purposes, voting machine companies are self-regulating, and as such, their employees are in a perfect position to rig elections nationwide. But even if these companies were regulated, it is virtually impossible to guard against insider vote fraud, as you will see.
The following are video clips of an examination of the Danaher voting system by Pennsylvania state authorities in November of 2005.
VIDEO CLIP OF EXAM
Notice, the Danaher representative assured state officials that the company would not be able to rig elections because their programmers would have to know well in advance all the candidates names and their positions on the ballot. But thatís ludicrous. Thereís nothing to stop programmers from using secret company code to manipulate votes for a particular candidate. This can be done while making a service call before, during, or after an election. It could be accomplished remotely via the Internet, modem, or through wireless technology. And it can be done without the knowledge of election officials.
But, setting that issue aside, what if it is not a specific candidate the company wants to rig an election for, but a particular party instead?
VIDEO CLIP OF EXAM
The Danaher representative just admitted that their computer program includes a party identifier next to each candidateís name. Therefore, the company can easily write a program that shifts a certain percentage of votes from one partyís candidates to another party before the machines ever leave the factory floor. That shift could make the difference in tight races.
Most voting machine companies have close ties to the Republican Party and most voting machine irregularities appear to favor Republicans, but I must emphasize, that is not always the case. Even in Republican and Democratic primaries, where the race is between members of the same party, voting machines are exhibiting suspicious irregularities. Meanwhile, the Democratic Party and the Green Partyís measured response to the gravity of this situation makes one wonder.
Pending congressional legislation that would require ballot printers for paperless voting machines is a woefully inadequate response to the threat these machines represent, as a long history of equipment malfunctions and failures can attest. But, even more disturbing are the actions of some candidates, particularly Democratic candidates, who are conceding extremely close races without waiting for all the absentee and provisional ballots to be counted. It appears that the fix may be in across the political spectrum.
Whatís the solution? Perhaps voters should support candidates that have no party affiliation. But, regarding the voting process itself, Congress should return to a policy of open and transparent elections and ban voting by machine, absentee, early, and by secret ballot. Until that day, we must go public with our votes. We must provide candidates with hard evidence of how we voted so that election results can be verified, or challenged, if necessary. Exit polls do not constitute hard evidence. Only voter affidavits can provide that. Itís time voters sign up and be counted.
Specifically, candidates or activists need to conduct a Parallel Election, of sorts. They need to collect affidavits from voters or, at the very least, get signed statements that include the voterís name, signature, address, and for whom they voted. These can be collected in three ways: 1) on Election Day as voters leave the polls, 2) door to door after the election, or 3) by asking voters, particularly absentee voters, to mail-in affidavits or signed statements immediately after they mail in their ballot. If manpower is a problem, then target only a few polling places or precincts. Keep in mind that a list of those who voted is a matter of public record. Most precincts have about 500 voters and most voters donít vote.
So, for many races weíre not talking about contacting a lot of people. Naturally, you want to first contact voters that belong to the same party as your candidate. Depending on your results, that may be sufficient to challenge election returns. You donít need 100% participation from voters. Any number of signatures collected that exceeds the official vote count is an indicator of a miscount.
Something similar to this idea was put into practice last winter in North Carolina. A Republican candidate gathered more than 1400 affidavits from voters in precincts where voting machines malfunctioned and lost thousands of votes. On the basis of those affidavits his Democratic opponent conceded.
Last year I wrote my first article calling for Parallel Elections. A few activists around the country did just that. On the basis of signed statements collected at 11 polling places in a California election, a recount was granted. Unfortunately by the time the recount was held, there was plenty of opportunity for election officials to minimize the miscount. So, be careful about asking for a recount when whatís actually needed is a new election thatís free from voting machines at the very least. And remember, even a new election needs a Parallel Election to serve as a check.
If no one is organizing a Parallel Election, then voters can on their on initiative send the candidate of their choice a card or letter indicating that they voted for them. That might spur more candidates to action. You may not win an election challenge in a court of law, but the court of public opinion is more important in the long run.
If we want a real democracy we must take our elections out of the corporate boardroom and back into the public square. We cannot continue to hide behind the secret ballot. Remember John Hancockís large and flamboyant signature on the Declaration of Independence? He did that in the face of certain hardship and possible death. Itís now our turn to sign up and be counted.
Iím Lynn Landes. And thanks for watching.