An Appearance of Guilt
essay is not yet another account of that evidence, which
I have spelled out extensively and which I firmly believe to be compelling.
I wish to deal with another indicator that our national elections no longer
represent the will of the voters, but rather are manipulated to produce the
outcome desired by the "winning" candidates and party. This indicator
is the behavior of those who manufacture, program, and operate the paperless,
unauditable machines (direct recording electronic: "DRE"), and those
who benefit from this technology.
this new electronic voting technology is as honest and reliable as the private
election industry and the winning candidates tell us it is. However, they simply
do not behave as if this were the case.
contention might be illustrated by this parable:
that a drug-sniffing dog at an airport identifies a suspicious piece of luggage.
The customs officer then locates the individual whose name is on the tag, and
orders him to open it. Now suppose further that this person then proceeds to do
one or more of the following:
He denies that the luggage is his.
He calls his lawyer who presents an injunction against further inspection of the
He claims that he is a diplomat, and thus not subject to luggage inspection.
He offers a bribe to the inspector if he will "forget the whole
one not suspect that the traveler was trying to hide something?
dog then gets back to work, and soon identifies another bag, and the owner of
this parcel is identified and ordered to open the luggage for inspection. He
does so willingly and without qualm, having packed the bag himself and thus
knowing that there is no contraband therein. He is also aware that the dog has a
record of 30% false positives.
of these two responses more closely resembles the behavior of the DRE
manufacturers (Diebold, ES&S and Sequoia), of the Republican Congress, and
of the Republican National Committee? Are the DRE manufacturers and the
Republicans acting in a manner consistent with their claims that
"e-voting" is both honest and accurate? Or are they behaving as if
they have something to hide?
are a few indicators. Because there are so many, I will be brief. For details
and documentation, follow the links:
First and foremost: DRE machines use secret software and produce no
separate record of the voting to allow auditing and validation of the votes.
Thus, by design, it is impossible either to prove or disprove directly the
accuracy of the vote totals of a DRE machine or the neutrality of the software.
(However, there is abundant indirect evidence of e-voting fraud: statistical,
anecdotal and circumstantial evidence. But
that’s another topic).
The manufacturers and programmers of DREs (all of whom have close ties
with the Republican Party) insist that their software ("source codes")
must be kept secret – for no apparent and defensible reason. (They claim to be
concerned about copyright infringement. But music, essays, fiction, drama, etc.,
all are public by nature, and yet all are protected by copyright).
The e-voting manufacturers also make ATM machines and automated gas
pumps, both of which produce paper receipts. Yet they steadfastly resist demands
that their "touch screen" voting machines produce printouts, which
might then serve to validate the accuracy of the votes.
DRE manufacturers will
not allow "test hacks" of randomly selected machines. (Unauthorized
hacks have proven DREs to be extremely vulnerable to fraudulent
manipulation. So too a recent report by the non-partisan Government
Accountability Office: a report that has been virtually ignored by the
A bill by Congressman
Rush Holt (D-NJ) that would require validated printed paper receipts
of the votes and random inspection of the DRE machines has been locked up in
committee by the Congressional Republicans. A discharge petition, which would
allow a vote on the bill, is unavailing, due to insufficient support by the
In 2000, computer programmer Clinton Curtis was asked by a GOP
congressional candidate, Tom Feeney, to create a software program that would
alter vote counts in favor of the Republicans. Curtis testified
to this under oath, signed
an affidavit, and took a polygraph test. Of course, Feeney, now a
congressman, denies Curtis’ allegations, but unlike Curtis, Feeney refuses to
state his denial under oath or to submit to a polygraph.
In California, Stephen Heller, a temporary employee of Diebold Election
Systems, obtained copies of memos indicating that Diebold may have used
uncertified voting systems in the 2004 primary and suggesting that thousands of
voters might be disenfranchised in subsequent elections. Heller’s
"reward" for blowing this whistle? He was charged with three felony
counts and, if convicted, could
serve more than three years in state prison.
In 2004, California Secretary of State Kevin Shelley decertified Diebold
DRE machines. In a special recall election, Republican Arnold Schwarznegger
replaced Democrat Gray Davis. Kevin Shelley was then harassed and forced out of
office and replaced by Republican Bruce McPherson, who "conditionally"
Diebold machines. (These are two types of machines: Optical scan with
paper ballots, and "TSX" with touch-screens and no paper record. It is
the paperless TSX machines that are especially vulnerable to undetectable
manipulation and fraud." There is a heated debate within the election
reform community as to whether Optical Scanning is an acceptable improvement
over DREs, or whether, on the other hand, only hand counted paper ballots will
do. But that's a topic for another essay).
December 20, 2005: Rather than obey a
we find, then, is an industry and a political party which, on the one hand,
insists that the totals from electronic voting machines are entirely accurate
and honest, though these same machines are so designed that they preclude any
independent evidence to support these claims. On the other hand, this same
industry and party steadfastly resist any and all attempts to introduce reliable
methods of validation, much less the most reliable system of all: hand counted
suspicion and charges of fraud are damaging to the industry and the GOP. If they
are as innocent as they claim to be, why don’t they just eliminate these
damaging suspicions by offering proof, and then allowing, and even encouraging,
paper records, independent audits, and exit polls?
a near-total embargo by the mainstream media of news, analysis, investigation
and commentary on ballot security and allegations of fraud, combined with an
astonishing indifference to the issue on the part of the Democrats and their
allies, public doubts about the security and accuracy of elections and hence of
the legitimacy of the Republican control of the White House and the Congress,
simply will not go away. In fact, these concerns appear to be increasing and
will likely continue to increase, as the credibility and public approval of the
Bush regime continues to drop.
a thought experiment for those who insist, despite all evidence to the contrary,
that the past three elections were above reproach and doubt. Put this confidence
aside for a moment and just imagine, hypothetically, that the elections of 2000,
2002, and 2004 were all fixed, and that the coming election of 2006 will be
fixed. Then ask yourself: if this were so, how would the behavior of the
industry and the GOP be in any way different from what it is now?
ask, if the elections are honest and accurate, why don’t the industry and the
Republicans act like it? In short, if they are innocent, why do they willingly
persist in appearing guilty?
questions must be asked by the democrats, loudly and persistently, for as Karl
Rove and the GOP propaganda machine knows so well, repetition is the key to
successful persuasion of the public. Satire and ridicule are also very
much in order. We must "pile it on" until continuing silence by the
GOP and by the compliant mainstream media becomes unendurable.
if the e-voting establishment – party and industry – are ever forced,
however reluctantly, to enact reforms consistent with their protestations of
innocence, what might they do?
is a list of proposals that any honest voting machine industry and political
party should be willing to endorse:
Publish the source codes. (The copyrights can be fully protected).
Include printers with all machines. Stipulate by law that in case of recounts,
the paper receipts are to be the official ballots of record.
Require independent audits – of local balloting, and of regional compiling of
Allow examination and "test hacks" of machines, selected randomly.
Outlaw all data inputs (by direct line, wireless, or UV) to voting machines and
compilers with the exception, of course, of the "inputs" by the
Rigorously enforce and prosecute election fraud laws.
the industry and the Republicans won’t agree to these assurances, then they
must present a plausible explanation as to why they decline to do so.
Absent that explanation, we citizens of this alleged democracy under an alleged
rule of law must demand that every vote be counted and verified, and we must be
supplied with proof that this has been accomplished. Furthermore, every
individual who has engaged in election fraud must be tracked down and prosecuted
to the full extent of the law. We are entitled to no less than this.
2006 by Ernest Partridge
Dr. Ernest Partridge is a consultant, writer and lecturer
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