THE LANDES REPORT TO CONGRESS
Released: January 15, 2007
AMERICA’S UNVERIFIABLE ELECTION RESULTS -
THE CASE FOR A
RETURN TO ‘OPEN VOTING’<![if !supportLineBreakNewLine]>
The Landes Report, Open Vote Project, Lynn Landes, author
Philadelphia, PA 215-629-3553 / firstname.lastname@example.org
Online report: http://www.thelandesreport.com/ToCongress1.htm
What’s wrong with America’s voting system? Just about everything. Voting is the linchpin of democracy. And democracy demands transparency, not trust. Yet, there is no meaningful transparency to our current voting system. While Congress, state legislatures, and town councils are required to vote publicly and openly, the American electorate is held to a different standard - a double standard. We vote privately and anonymously by machine, early, absentee, and secret ballot. Under our current system of voting, it is virtually impossible to detect vote fraud. Things weren’t always this way.
Before the Civil War, Americans engaged in ‘open voting’. People voted in public by raised hand, voice, or pen. Although limited to white males, it was a completely transparent process. After the Civil War, as Congress expanded the right to vote to African Americans and eventually to women, it began to shut-down meaningful public oversight of the process. It started with Congressional approval of absentee voting in the 1870’s, secret ballots in the 1880’s, and voting machines in the 1890’s. Today in America, 30% of all voting is by absentee or early, 95% of all votes are machine-processed, and 100% of all ballots are secret and anonymous.
For the sake of convenience and alleged voter protection, Congress has destroyed the transparency, verifiability, and integrity of America’s voting process.
Making matters worse, state legislatures have outsourced our easy-to-rig voting system to a handful of private companies and multinational corporations. Yet, to date, Congress has not addressed the constitutional legality and national security ramifications of private control over public voting systems. Most voting machine companies have close ties to the Republican Party. And many researchers believe it is not a coincidence that, of the thousands of voting machine irregularities reported over the years, the overwhelming majority of them benefited Republican candidates over Democrats.
History repeated itself again this past November (2006) with computer “glitches” and vote flipping reported across the country. Several candidates refused to concede their elections and challenged the results. Despite Democrats winning control of Congress, the election was dubbed a “Landslide Denied” by the Election Defense Alliance. Computer security experts have repeatedly issued warnings that no computer program can be protected from system-wide vote fraud, particularly by company insiders. Even if software is required to be “open source” and inspected, as some activists are promoting, surreptitious programming can easily remain undetected.
Although there is mounting evidence of widespread computer vote fraud in American elections dating back decades, the Department of Justice (DOJ) under the direction of Craig C. Donsanto (since 1970) has taken a hands-off approach to any serious investigation. And, since the news networks’ exit polls are equally susceptible to manipulation and fraud, voting rights activists in several states conducted Citizen Audits or Parallel Elections as a check against official vote totals. In effect, activists asked voters to go public with their votes. Voters signed forms that include their name, address and who they voted for. Candidates and voters can then use a comparative analysis to check audit results against official returns. Last year, activists in San Diego, California used their results to win a recount. (See: http://www.thelandesreport.com/CitizenAudit.htm)
Something similar to this idea was put into practice in North Carolina two years ago. A voting machine error caused 4,400 votes to vanish in Carteret County. Republican candidate Steve Troxler led in the count by 2,287 out of 3 million votes cast. In order to prove he won the election, Troxler's campaign rounded up affidavits from more than 1,400 Carteret voters who said they had voted for him. In effect, he asked voters to ‘Open Vote’.
As the new Congress is poised to require ballot printers and spot audits of election results, that will not be sufficient to restore transparency, verifiability, and integrity to our voting process. In particular, recounts that by law can only occur for ‘close’ elections, fails to recognize the obvious – those who want to rig an election are aware of the recount and audit laws and will certainly try to rig it by a sufficient number of votes in order to avoid an election challenge. Specifically, legislation introduced by Congressman Rush Holt (D-NJ) in the last Congress, fails to satisfy two constitutional requirements: 1) the right to vote unobstructed by technology, 2) the right to have all votes cast and counted in full public view.
A more effective legislative response came from Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), who last September introduced House Bill 6200, which would allow only paper ballots and hand counts for the 2008 presidential election. However, even that legislation will not get the job done. As long as the electorate continues to vote in a manner that does not allow for direct voter participation and meaningful public oversight, the system is an invitation to widespread vote fraud and election results will always be suspect.
Congress should have only one standard for voting for itself and all Americans - total transparency. They should rescind laws and policies that allow counting ballots in secret and voting by machine, absentee, early, and secret ballot. Instead, Congress should return American voters to our tradition of ‘Open Voting’ at the polls on Election Day.
SYSTEM-WIDE COMPUTER FRAUD
From vote-flipping computers to uncounted paper ballots, there was chaos at many polls across the country in the last election. In a survey just released by several voting rights groups lead by VotersUnite.Org, they report, "...the number of incidents and the broad range of problems reported are indicative of the widespread failure of electronic voting systems across the country and how this failure affected the experience of voters on November 7, 2006." (See: http://www.votersunite.org/info/E-VotingIn2006Mid-Term.pdf)
In studies by Election Defense Alliance (EDA) that compared the news networks' exit poll to election results, researchers discovered a systematic nationwide shift of 4-5% of the vote from Democratic candidates to Republicans may have occurred in both the 2004 election, denying Democrats the presidency, and 2006 midterm elections,. (See: http://www.electiondefensealliance.org)
In fact, there is every reason to believe that American elections have been routinely and systematically rigged through the use of computer technology for many decades, as documented in a growing list of books, articles, reports, and documentaries on voting machine irregularities, "glitches", and outright fraud. (See: http://www.thelandesreport.com/VotingMachineErrors.htm)
OUTSOURCING U.S. VOTING SYSTEMS
American’s voting process has been privatized and outsourced to a handful of
private, foreign, and multi-national companies with close ties to the Republican
Party, CIA, former military officers, defense contractors, the news media, and
Just two companies, Election Systems and Software (ES&S) and Diebold, which were started by two brothers, Bob and Todd Urosevich, process 80% of all votes in the United States. These companies make, sell, and service both ballot scanners and touchscreen machines. Like other voting companies, they also have close ties to the GOP. Republican Senator Chuck Hagel of Nebraska was the president of AIS (which eventually became ES&S) just before he won a surprise landslide victory in 1996. Wally O'Dell, chief executive of Diebold, promised in a fundraising letter to Republican supporters that he would "deliver" Ohio to George W. Bush in the 2004 presidential election.
Sequoia Voting Systems, America's third largest voting machine company, is foreign-owned. In 2003, Sequoia was owned by De La Rue of the United Kingdom (UK). Today, Sequoia is owned by Smartmatic Corporation, which is owned by a Dutch holding company. Smartmatic is privately held. A controlling interest is held by its founder and CEO, Antonio Mugica, who holds dual Spanish and Venezuelan citizenship.
Since computer hardware can be programmed to identify the political party of every candidate, an across-the-board edge can be easily given to one party's candidates over another's before the machines ever leave the factory floor. (See video of Danaher Corporation testimony: http://www.thelandesreport.com/11aug.wmv) This “fix” and other types of vote manipulation by company technicians can occur during service calls and upgrades, or it can be accomplished remotely, via the Internet, modem, or through wireless technology. And it can be done without the knowledge of election officials.
Ironically, the initial reason for imposing voting machines on the American electorate in the late 1800’s was to stop rampant ballot box stuffing. However, some noted historians dispute this notion. In his book, The Right To Vote, The Contested History of Democracy in the United States, Alexander Keyssar, of the Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, writes,
"...recent studies have found that claims of widespread corruption were grounded almost entirely in sweeping, highly emotional allegations backed by anecdotes and little systematic investigation or evidence. Paul Kleppner, among others, has concluded that what is most striking is not how many, but how few documented cases of electoral fraud can be found. Most elections appear to have been honestly conducted: ballot-box stuffing, bribery, and intimidation were the exception, not the rule."
That begs several questions. Why did newspapers of the late 1800’s publish reports of rampant ballot box stuffing when there was little evidence of such? Were they concerned about an expanding electorate that included African Americans, and eventually women? Were they laying the foundation of public support for a nontransparent voting system under which vote fraud could be committed with relative impunity?
COVER-UP & NETWORKS’ EXIT POLL
Although public debate has been framed to target suspicion on outside hackers, the bigger threat is clearly company insiders. As previously noted, these companies are in a perfect position to rig elections nationwide. And some investigators say that is exactly what’s been happening, with vital assistance from the Associated Press and the major news networks' exit poll. This group currently calls their collaboration, the National Election Pool (NEP). (See: http://www.exit-poll.net) NEP claims to have been formed in 2003. In fact, the news networks have controlled exit poll reporting on Election Day since the 1960's. They have used different names, such as News Election Services, Voter Research and Survey, and most recently, Voter News Service.
Since 1964, when the networks first started projecting election night winners, they have never provided any hard evidence that they actually conducted exit polls at all. Worse yet, researchers from Election Defense Alliance (EDA) report that NEP makes sure that at the end of the day their exit polls match election results. NEP calls it "forcing". Others might call it fraud. (See: http://www.electiondefensealliance.org)
It is a theory among some researchers that the NEP bases their exit polls on extensive pre-election polling. In that way, if someone wants to rig an election and not raise red flags, the exit polls can get tweaked or "forced", using NEP's parlance, to match election results. That would account for the NEP's long track record of producing seemingly accurate exit pools early in the evening on election day, then altering the results later that night to eventually match election results, as it appears they did in the 2000 and 2004 presidential elections.
This theory first gained credibility from the late James and Kenneth Collier, authors of the book, VoteScam: The Stealing of America (1994). In 1970, Channel 7 in Miami projected with 100% accuracy (a virtual impossibility) the final vote totals on Election Day. When the Colliers asked the networks where they got their exit poll data, both Channel 3 & Channel 7 claimed that the League of Women Voters sent it in from the precincts. But, the League's local president denied it, telling the Colliers, "I don't want to get caught up in this thing." The broadcasters then claimed a private contractor used the data from a single voting machine to project the winners. But, the contractor said he got the data from a University of Miami professor, who in turn denied it. In the end, the news broadcasters could not provide any evidence that a real exit poll had been conducted.
On Election Day 2004, the NEP website stated that vote totals were "collected" from 2,995 "quick count precincts". Although, the AP admits it was the sole source of raw vote totals for the major news broadcasters on Election Night, AP spokesmen Jack Stokes and John Jones refused to explain how the AP received that information. They refused to confirm or deny that the AP received direct feed from central vote tabulating computers across the country. Cook County, Illinois election spokesperson, Cass Cliatt, told reporters that after the polls close any journalist can use the county's "connector cables" in order to allow them to download the latest vote totals. Cliatt said that this did not constitute a connection to the mainframe computer. She did admit that AP employees were there on election night and had cables dedicated to them specifically.
Computer security specialist Dr. Rebecca Mercuri was asked for her reaction. Was it a good idea to allow reporters to "hook up" to a cable in order to access vote tabulation data? Mercuri didn't think so. "It's not as if they are handing them a CD with the data on it. That would be the safest thing to do and probably faster. Why would they allow them to connect up?" she asked.
The AP is in control of exit poll reporting on election night. But who controls the AP? The Associated Press (AP) was founded in 1848. It is a not-for-profit national news cooperative, some would say monopoly, that earns about $500 million dollars a year. The AP is owned by its 1,500 U.S. daily newspaper members. Their board of directors is elected by voting bonds. However, it is not clear who owns the bonds. AP leadership in 2004 appeared quite conservative. Burl Osborne, chairman of the AP board of directors, is also publisher emeritus of the conservative The Dallas Morning News, a newspaper that endorsed George W. Bush in the last election. Kathleen Carroll, senior vice president and executive editor of AP, was a reporter at The Dallas Morning News before joining AP. Carroll is also on the Associated Press Managing Editors (APME)’s 7-member executive committee. The APME "works in partnership with AP to improve the wire service's performance," according to their website.
It is worth noting that former APME vice president, Deanna Sands, was the managing editor of the ultra conservative Omaha World Herald newspaper, whose parent company owns the largest voting machine company in the nation, Election Systems and Software (ES&S), which counts 50% of the vote.
Even if the AP’s actions were not suspect, one should consider the obvious absurdity of the situation. The AP reports exit poll data based on secret sources to verify election results based on secret ballots that are counted in secret by private corporations.
FEDERAL COMPLICITY IN VOTE FRAUD
The unique vulnerability of electronic voting technologies has been long known to federal authorities. “If you did it right, no one would ever know,” said Craig C. Donsanto, head of the U.S. Department of Justice’s Election Crimes Branch, Public Integrity Section (from 1970-present) in a July 4,1989 Los Angeles Times article about electronic voting machines and vote fraud. So, why hasn't Donsanto sounded the alarm and informed Congress of this threat?
Donsanto has the reputation of a gatekeeper. He was featured in the Colliers' book, VoteScam, for his unwillingness to investigate evidence they collected over the years of rampant vote fraud involving voting machine companies, the news networks' exit polls, and election officials in Florida and other states. Furthermore, Donsanto made it official department policy that no federal investigator should enter a polling precinct on election day, nor should they begin any serious investigation of the voting process until after the election results are certified. It is this policy that gives those who commit vote fraud ample opportunity to destroy evidence and cover their tracks. (See official policy: http://www.thelandesreport.com/Donsanto.htm)
There is more to be concerned about than obstruction of justice within the DOJ. It appears that elements within the FBI may have not only been aware of computer vote fraud, but participated in it. The following are excerpts from the Cincinnati Post of October 30th, 1987:
"Cincinnati Bell security supervisors ordered wire-taps installed on county computers before elections in the late 1970s and early 1980s that could have allowed vote totals to be altered, a former Bell employee says in a sworn court document. Leonard Gates, a 23-year Cincinnati Bell employee until he was fired in 1986, claims in a deposition filed Thursday in Hamilton County Common Pleas Court to have installed the wire-taps. Cincinnati Bell officials denied Gates’ allegations that are part of a six-year-old civil suit that contends the elections computer is subject o manipulation and fraud. Gates claims a security supervisor for the telephone company told him in 1979 that the firm had obtained a computer program through the FBI that gave it access to the county computer used to count votes." (See: http://www.ecotalk.org/Pandora'sBlackBox.htm)
No state could match the staggering number of Voting Rights complaints due to voting machines and other election irregularities as Florida did in the 2000 presidential election. Yet the Bush Administration's DOJ under Attorney General John Ashcroft did not send federal observers to Florida to monitor the voting process in 2002, although federal observers were sent to several other states. This was surprising news to many people and organizations who were told by DOJ officials that "Justice" would be down there in force. Even if federal observers had been sent to Florida, how would they 'observe' the accuracy of the voting machines there?
"They wouldn't know that," says Nelldean Monroe, Voting Rights Program Administrator for the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) in a phone interview. Her agency is responsible for the recruiting and training of federal observers who are sent by the DOJ to monitor elections if violations of the Voting Rights Act are suspected. In a November 21, 2002 e-mail Monroe elaborated, "The only observance of the tallying of the votes is when DOJ specifically requests observers to do so. This rarely occurs, but when it does, it is most often during the day following the election when a County conducts a canvass of challenged or rejected ballots. In this case, federal observers may observe the County representatives as they make determinations on whether to accept a challenged or rejected ballot. Federal observers may also observe the counting of the ballots (or vote tallying) when paper ballots are used." (See e-mail: http://www.thelandesreport.com/nelldeanmonroe.htm)
In other words, federal observers can only observe people, not machines, counting paper ballots. Monroe confirmed that there is no training and no opportunity for federal observers to observe the accuracy of voting machines.
Under Section 8 of the Voting Rights Act, 42 U.S.Code § 1973f, federal observers may be authorized to observe "... whether persons who are entitled to vote are being permitted to vote ...(and) whether votes cast by persons entitled to vote are being properly tabulated..." America's nontransparent voting process (i.e., voting by machine, absentee, early, or secret ballot) violate those provisions. Federal observers cannot observe "whether persons who are entitled to vote are being permitted to vote” (and) “whether votes cast are being properly tabulated." Under "Prohibited acts" in §1973i, the "Failure or refusal to permit casting or tabulation of vote"...can result in civil and criminal penalties. "No person acting under color of law shall fail or refuse to permit any person to vote who is entitled to vote...(and) Whoever...knowingly and willfully falsifies or conceals a material fact... shall be fined not more than $10,000 or imprisoned not more than five years, or both."
Requiring voters to use voting machines, rather than allow them to mark and cast their own votes, constitutes "failure or refusal to permit casting". Any result produced by a machine is circumstantial (i.e., not direct) evidence of the intention of the voter. Fundamentally, nontransparent voting makes the role of the federal observer moot and the Voting Rights Act unenforceable. (also see: http://www.thelandesreport.com/Donsanto.htm)
THE ARGUMENT AGAINST THE SECRET BALLOT
From the Ukraine to the United States, many voters no longer believe that their votes are counted correctly. And that's regardless of whether paper ballots or voting machines are used. Why? The core problem is the secret ballot.
The secret ballot is a blank check to steal votes with scant chance of getting caught. That's because secret ballots are anonymous ballots. They can be easily replaced, altered or destroyed, particularly in the event of recounts where public oversight has been interrupted, and more so where voting machines are used. Even if voters 'verify' their machine-produced ballots and official audits are conducted, widespread vote tampering can still occur with relative ease and little risk of discovery. There still remains no effective method to 'certify' the authenticity of ballots, no way to identify an individual ballot and link it to an individual voter.
What's wrong with that? Don't voters need that protection?
Citizens today may be surprised to learn that the world's democracies were not founded on the secret ballot. Quite the contrary. Voting was a public process where qualified citizens voted openly, either by voice or on paper. Voters were expected to have the courage of their convictions. Then things changed. The secret ballot concept originated in Australia in 1856. It was introduced into American elections in the 1880's after the Civil War. The first president to be elected by secret ballot was Grover Cleveland in 1892. The secret ballot was sold to the voting public as protection against voter intimidation and vote selling. However, elected officials were (and still are) vulnerable to similar threats and temptations and (for the most part) they weren't voting by secret ballot. Why the double standard? Was there an underlying purpose?
At least one conclusion can be drawn. As the secret ballot system was adopted throughout the U.S. and around the world, it enabled election officials to manipulate election results. Secret ballots allowed voters to think that their votes counted, when in fact there was no way to know. Secret ballots opened the door to undetectable vote fraud and encouraged a type of de facto fascism, the control of the many by the few.
It is particularly disturbing that our unverifiable and easy-to-rig voting system is being promoted throughout the world by U.S. government-funded organizations, such as the International Foundation for Election Systems (IFES). It was founded by the late F.Clifton White, a longtime right wing Republican strategist. William J. Hybl, IFES Chairman, was a Bush appointee and senior adviser to the 56th UN General Assembly in 2001 and is also the Chairman of the El Pomar Foundation, one of the largest foundations in the Rocky Mountain region and an extreme right wing group.
A free, fair, and transparent voting system is the bedrock of any democracy. Voters have the right to direct access to a paper ballot - unobstructed by technology, and to have every voted counted properly - in full public view. That is currently not the case. From the 1870’s to the present day, Congress and the states have introduced confusion and concealment to a voting process that had been simple and transparent. In particular, the introduction of the secret and anonymous ballot opened the door to unlimited and undetectable vote fraud. Our Founding Fathers set the world a timeless example of courage under fire. John Hancock's large and flamboyant signature on the Declaration of Independence was an act of bravery in the face of certain hardship and possible death. Now, more than ever before, it is our right and obligation to stand up, to sign up, and be counted.
RECOMMENDATIONS TO CONGRESS:
RECOMMENDATION TO CANDIDATES AND VOTERS:
About the author: Lynn Landes is publisher of The LandeReport.com and one of the nation's leading researchers and analysts on voting integrity issues. She is featured in the books, Hacked and Black Box Voting. Landes also appears in several documentaries, including: Got Democracy, The Right To Count, Stealing America, and her own short film, The Fix Is In.