READER COMMENTS ON
"Democracy in America Has Officially Become a Privatized Circus"
(15 Responses so far...)
COMMENT #1 [Permalink]
said on 11/23/2005 @ 2:11 pm PT...
Democracy in America Has Officially Become a Privatized Circus...as a direct result of voting having become a placebo - thanks to Diebold.
Hey, if you don't like it, go VOTE! hahahaha
COMMENT #2 [Permalink]
said on 11/23/2005 @ 3:32 pm PT...
weeeeeeeeeee! slide on the slippy shoes and go for a ride! we're going down the Rabbit Hole here in America, where the abundance of arrogance coupled with ignorance has people reasoning (albeit with totally screwed up logic) themselves right into slavery to the rich elite (top 1%.. we're already mostly there, we're about to cinch it with no way to -actually- run our democracy). Our Corperate Board taskmasters are all geared up and ready to start running that whip!
Man o man.. gotta love people who are willing to surmise they are "intelligent" despite the HUGE holes in their thinking, and even better, they use that flawed and poisoned opinion to taint the masses..
COMMENT #3 [Permalink]
said on 11/23/2005 @ 4:22 pm PT...
I've concluded that Bluemanthal doesn't care and is just a plant. He has no idea what these machines even are.
ALL of the machines need to be removed or be using paper ballots only, else there is no actual democracy, period.
We know that as true because these machines made by Diebold use proprietary software illegal in many states already....and results can be altered, as well as records BLOCKED. Thus the machines should be removed by forceful legal means.
COMMENT #4 [Permalink]
said on 11/23/2005 @ 5:43 pm PT...
Perhaps it is getting to the point whereas the Democrats should go ahead and hack the machines during an election. Maybe throw all 100% of the votes to a third party candidate, making it absolutely essential that an investigation be created. Either that, or else fight the damn Repugs the same way they are fighting America - actually hack the vote for Democrats in the same winning percentage the Republicans have been doing for themselves. Fight fire with fire! I mean, for God's sake, does anyone think that lying, walking-cadaver Jean Schmidt could honestly win an election?
COMMENT #5 [Permalink]
said on 11/23/2005 @ 7:29 pm PT...
I've heard others make the same suggestion. Problem is, to do so would require breaking the law. Someone would have to be willing to lay a hell of a lot on the line to do so...merely to prove a point. Even with point proven they would likely face years of jailtime and/or huge monetary fines. So it simply couldn't be either financed or supported by the Democratic party.
Someone would have to *really* be willing to make an incredible self-sacrifice above and beyond your usual "civil disobedience" arrest. We're talking FELONY here.
COMMENT #6 [Permalink]
said on 11/23/2005 @ 8:41 pm PT...
I tend to agree with #4 Robert. Surely if the Pubs can hack in without getting caught, so can Dems, or better yet, folks like us who are merely freedom lovers. I'm more in favor of hacking in and flipping all the votes for a 3rd party candidate, so that everybody of both major parties would be pissed...
Anybody know any hackers? I'm a humble musician, and can barely get on a blog, so I'm not the guy, but somebody should start recruiting hackers to use anywhere there is no paper ballot in '06.
I'm sad to say that it's come to that in my thinking. I'm generally anti-theft...
COMMENT #7 [Permalink]
said on 11/23/2005 @ 9:54 pm PT...
Hypothetically, if most refused to vote unless paper ballots were used would the election still go ahead and still be considered a legal election?
COMMENT #8 [Permalink]
said on 11/23/2005 @ 10:34 pm PT...
I've said this before, Bev Harris has a group who is experts on the machine tab.
They should just hire someone to "publically" hack the election, take it over, make sure the third party candidates win and then presto!
End it. If anyone asks for an investigation immediately, he/she can out themselves go to jail get bailed out--and consequently throw out all the machines! Maybe it should be done everywhere?
COMMENT #9 [Permalink]
said on 11/23/2005 @ 11:49 pm PT...
re #7 for GWN: if only one person voted, it would still be considered a legal election.
In my opinion, the problem with getting "folks like us" to hack the election --- just like the Republicans --- is this: hard-line Republicans own the companies that manufacture and program and service the voting machines and the tabulators --- and we don't. BBV can show how hacking could have occurred, but to actually do it in the middle of an election --- now that's another story entirely. Of course Brad's point (#5) is a good one, too.
COMMENT #10 [Permalink]
said on 11/24/2005 @ 12:19 pm PT...
WP - Hi - So, if Jeb runs in 08 and casts his vote for himself, and is in fact the only person in the country to vote in his favor, in fact the only person in the country to vote at all, that would constitute the mandate necessary to implement an agenda? Of course not. So where do we draw the line?
COMMENT #11 [Permalink]
said on 11/24/2005 @ 12:47 pm PT...
As to the suggestion that BBV hire a hacker to disrupt a live election --- I did consider that --- and going to jail over this --- in the Nov. 2004 election. At that time, we had been given the secret dial-in number for King County by accident in a public records request (duh) and we knew the remote access protocols.
Here's the problem, even if this was to be done:
Election officials don't have to reveal it.
That's right. If you vote a million times for Mickey Mouse, they don't need to tell anyone. They can quietly "correct" the problem and launch a silent investigation themselves, determining whether or not they want to go public with it.
Note that under Brad Clark (now with the new Calif. Sec. state's office), some very weird things went on in the middle of the night when the gubernator was elected. Did we ever find out why they got a bunch of wrong results, never published, and then corrected them, never fully explained?
In Lucas County Ohio Nov. 2004, six people were fired or suspended, allegedly because of an issue with one vote being wrongly recorded, allegedly accidentally. C'mon now. Doesn't pass the smell test. Something else happened.
We discussed the pros and cons of publicly hacking and election and yes, I would have been willing to go to jail for it. We discussed having CBS News sitting in the office videotaping our turning a central tabulator into a zombie, but then we realized: CBS lawyers would prohibit this, saying it would make CBS party to a crime.
That means it wouldn't get any press until afterware. We discussed having the Votergate guys videotape it and then later leaking it to a news network, but decided that the elections officials ability to preview results and decline to release them if they look hinky put this in jeopardy too. How could we prove it?
If one is going to go to jail, one wants to at least be able to make a point. If the networks' lawyer will tell them not to film it, and election officials don't have to reveal it, one cannot be assured of making one's point.
We did report the defects we found to the FBI, on our Web site and everywhere else we could find.
COMMENT #12 [Permalink]
said on 11/24/2005 @ 12:54 pm PT...
And now, for your Thanksgiving reading:
Turkey Day editorial: 'No thanks' for stuffing elections with machines
By Bev Harris, Jim March, Kathleen Wynne
From We, the People to our public servants: This isn't what we ordered. Send it back.
Who cooked this turkey?
It's about the size of an elephant, and it took a long time to cook. Preparations began in the 80s when some Texas powerbrokers went on an acquisition spree, converting the elections industry from diverse locally-based mom & pop businesses into a handful of firms peppered with criminal indictments and salted with political connections.
The roasting bag:
Elections officials had to be bagged up and propagandized. A privatization advocate, the Council of State Governments, was run by Abe Frank, who became a founding director for The Election Center in 1990.
The Election Center, which has been run by former used computer parts salesman R. Doug Lewis since 1994, undertook the task of organizing and training local elections officials.
At the same time, vendors flexed their influence in the pay-to-play National Association of Secretaries of State (NASS) --- You pay your fees, you get your face time. Secretaries of state, who often aspire to run for governor, cozied up to the very people who --- literally --- can make that happen.
The recipe: Ingredient list
- One six-member Federal Election Commission:
The FEC makes the rules for voting machine certification, the so-called "1990" and "2002" FEC standards (which have been removed from the FEC site, but can be found here).
The FEC left themselves a loophole. They never codified the FEC standards into regulations, so that the force of law cannot be applied to force voting machine makers to comply. The FEC standards are "voluntary guidelines".
- Two testing labs, Huntsville Alabama brand
Test how ripe they are before using: Jam a pocket calculator halfway into a banana, see if they'll certify it as a voting machine for the right money.
Three labs were authorized, but vendors chose to use only the Huntsville brand --- Nichols/PSInet/Metamore/Ciber, a series of companies that repeatedly passed the hot potato to a tester named Shawn Southworth, and handed another portion of the testing to Wyle Labs' Jim Dearman.
These labs were supposed to do source code and functionality reviews, but here's the catch: They are paid by the vendors.
The testing labs are called "ITAs" for "Independent Testing Authorities" but there is nothing independent about them. According to Shawn Southworth, in a taped interview conducted by Black Box Voting, the labs don't like to write anything negative in the reports because the vendors don't like it, and they're paying for it.
- One Voting Systems Panel from the National Association of State Elections Directors (NASED). This panel approves the voting machines after the ITAs recommend approval. They are supposed to check over the ITA's paperwork, after which they assign a "NASED number" signifying Federal certification.
The NASED panel sometimes issued cert numbers before reading the reports, and has routinely certified systems with "not tested" and "untested" notations on the recommendation forms.
NASED got some operational support via cash donations from the big vendors, and apparently never saw anything odd in the fact that two old ladies and a gun nut from Black Box Voting were running circles around the ITAs, exposing hard-core voting system defects like the GEMS defect and fundamentally flawed memory card architecture that the ITAs forgot to mention.
These defects were subsequently confirmed by reports commissioned by the secretaries of state of Ohio and California, causing ITA labs and their apologists to offer this excuse:
"The FEC standards were too weak."
You don't need to be a computer scientist to understand plain English: Both 1990 and 2002 FEC standards prohibit something called "interpreted code." The Diebold memory card architecture relies on interpreted code, executing logic on the memory card by passing memory card code through --- drum roll, please --- the interpreter.
You also don't need to be a computer expert to understand that another item forbidden in the FEC standards, "nonstandard computer language" is being used. Diebold decided to make up its own language, calling it "AccuBasic." Only Diebold uses it, no one else in the world. Apologists for the ITAs explain that the AccuBasic language is similar but different to the C++ computer language. That's like saying German is English because the languages are "similar."
But the FEC standards are deficient in some areas. Here's something that doesn't take a statistician to figure out: The FEC standards set a failure tolerance so low that 10 percent of the voting machines are allowed to fail on the first day of use. Would you buy a TV set if you knew there was a 10 percent chance it would stop working the first day? Hello? This is good use of taxpayer money?
The NASED voting systems panel appears to have gone rogue years ago and their certification oversight ability is being stripped from them and given to the new Election Assistance Commission (EAC) --- which isn't functional yet.
That hasn't stopped the California Secretary of State from inviting many of the most problematic members of the NASED voting systems panel in to an invitation-only meeting on Nov. 28 and 29 to help California set "best practices."
- Add to the mix: Various academics and "experts" who were supposed to be checking this stuff out.
Even the best of them (Dr. Doug Jones of Iowa and Dr. David Jefferson of California) didn't want to get too vocal about known problems, especially early on. Others like Georgia's Brit Williams and Florida's Paul Craft cannot possibly explain their unabashed cheerleading of systems which have now been proven to be defective.
There were a small number of notable exceptions: The outspoken Dr. Rebecca Mercuri who has been telling it like it is since 1989.
HAVA: Who ordered this turkey?
The Help America Vote Act was lobbied in by defense contractors and manufacturers looking to make a buck on the backs of U.S. taxpayers. (Documentation: See Black Box Voting book, chapter 16)
Demand a Hold on HAVA --- Megan Matson of Mainstreet Moms Operation Blue(MOB) has the right idea: ôHold on HAVA.ö The National Alliance of County Officials (NACO) wants to extend the HAVA deadline, at least until standards are set and adequate funding is available. The Election Assistance Commission, charged with supervising HAVA, is months behind its own deadlines.
Is anyone going to be held accountable for this turkey?
The Election Center and NASED ignored ITA ommissions the size of the national defecit for 10 years. When this became undeniable, after the work of ordinary citizens to expose the flaws, secretaries of state at first commissioned independent studies, from the SAIC, RABA, CompuWare, and recently Steve Freeman.
These studies became inconvenient, however, when they confirmed the GEMS defect, the memory card executables, and numerous other critical defects. So people like Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell simply hid the reports, while California whispered suggestions into Diebold's ear, encouraging it to quietly resolve the issues. There was no investigation, and no one has put either the vendor or the ITAs under oath to question how this came to be.
Vendors like Diebold knew nobody was watching the store, so they acted like a pack of Goths sacking Rome.
To criticize Diebold is to critique the WHOLE SORRY HOUSE OF CARDS who all act like they were members of the same happy club --- and in fact, they are. People from one part of this structure typically relocate to other segments.
- Indicted vendors become election officials (Lance Gough, Chicago).
- Convicted felons who were vendors become elections consultants (John Elder, Diebold ballot printing.)
- Regulators become vendors (Ralph Munro, Bill Jones, Sandra Mortham, Lou Dedier).
- State elections officials become convicted felons (Ark. sec. state Bill McKuen, Louisiana elections director Jerry Fowler).
- County elections officials vacation with vendors (Los Angeles' Conny Drake McCormack, Diebold's Deborah Seiler).
- Political powerbrokers become voting machine lobbyists (former DNC chairman Joe Andrew, now Diebold lobbyist.)
- County elections officials hire PR firms and lobbyists who work for the vendors at the same time (Riverside County/Sequoia/O'Reilly PR; Ohio Association of county election officials share their lobbyist with Diebold)
The interchangability of elections officials, regulators, lobbyists, indicted personnel, and vendors is a gigantic set of Tinker-Toys.
That's why companies like Diebold have been so protected. If Diebold goes down, people might look too closely, causing the whole thing to collapse in scandal.
- At Black Box Voting, we've been told that we need to leave these TinkerToy Turkeys a graceful way out.
- We are told that it is rude to tell it like it is.
- We are told that the situation can't be fixed if we are politically incorrect.
That's probably true, if you leave this to legislation. But We, the People, can never again leave it up to others to fix our broken election system.
At some point, we've got to hold this turkey's feet to the fire. Now all the people who cooked this turkey are jockeying for position in the free pass line.
Is that what we want? Do We, the People, really need to be that polite to those who took away our ability to oversee our own elections? Have we become a nation of bootlickers, cowed to politeness before the very people whose corrupt practices invaded our most fundamental right?
What our public servants brought to the table was not what we ordered. Send it back.
Now have a happy Thanksgiving!
Black Box Voting
Permission to reprint granted, with link to http://www.blackboxvoting.org
COMMENT #13 [Permalink]
said on 11/24/2005 @ 7:56 pm PT...
Bev Harris #11: We discussed the pros and cons of publicly hacking and election and yes, I would have been willing to go to jail for it.
Bev, we all wish you a Happy Thanksgiving.
Here's an idea, with less chance of serious jail time than jiggering an actual election. Buy one of those little memory cards, put Harri Hursti's little program on it, and AUCTION IT ON EBAY. I bet Letterman and Leno would do some jokes about it.
Or maybe get someone in Finland to auction it, not subject to US law.
The jokes might help the sleeping public wake up.
By the way: I think we should NOT be demanding that Diebold should be forced to "fix" the backdoor that Harri Hursti found. If we keep finding backdoors and forcing Diebold to "fix" them, we will just end up getting rid of all the backdoors that are findable by an outsider, and there will still be lots of backdoors available to the insiders.
Instead we should be demanding that election officials STOP FORCING CITIZENS TO TRUST THE MACHINES and start doing real audits, by hand, in public view.
Let the b-----ds keep their backdoors, there's no way we could ever find all the backdoors. If we do real audits, every time and everywhere, the backdoors won't help the b-----ds steal an election.
COMMENT #14 [Permalink]
said on 11/24/2005 @ 11:42 pm PT...
I read a lot about how the Republicans run the elections. How can a "party" run elections? Unless someone can show me legislation stating the Republicans have "majority" rule in the electoral process, then there can only be one reason the Republicans are in charge; The Democrats are sucking their thumbs, and/or the vendors like Diebold have been bought by Republican money. I suspect it is both. Does Washington dictate the rules of how the game is played at each state level? We should all have our butts kicked for allowing a few sleezeball vendors refuse investigation of the software that detirmines our elections because of "private domaine" protection, - to hell with Diebold's "private domaine" - I want to know that my vote was counted! As an X programmer, I know that good "documentation" allows proper maintenance of a program. I never wrote a source code until I had a previous"road map" showing what the program did with entered data, (in this case a simple entry of a voter's choice on a punch card or touch screen). Documentation is a simple explaination (embedded in the program in english) stating what the line of code actually does with the entered data by the user - in this case, the voter. "Paper trails" are an illusion. It's simple (for the right person) to give the voter and the precinct a "receipt" for their vote, place the vote in the electronic tabulation, - and then delete it, transfer the vote to another candidate, multiply the vote, etc., etc. - tecnicians in Vegas do it all the time. Until we have transparency in voting, someone is going to attempt to steal elections. Our tax money buys these machines. We have a right to know that our tax paid vote is counting for our candidate! We've all heard Joseph Stalin's famous quote but it needs repeating, "It's not who votes that counts, - it's who counts the votes". It would be very easy for a few people with the right knowledge, at strategic points, to steal an election.
COMMENT #15 [Permalink]
Alex in Los Angeles
said on 11/26/2005 @ 6:04 pm PT...
I love you man. You fire is awesome and the Brad Blog, velvet revolution, and your raw radio show make you a hero for the most just cause I can imagine in our democracy...saving it.
Now, this may hurt just a tad, but I hope you might hear this better coming from a huge supporter. Mark Blumenthal and the MysteryPollster blog are honest and the real deal.
I think it was bad form on your part to move the goalposts. The question was what happened with the Dispatch Poll, and he responded with the goods. Now you criticize him for not joining in the campaign against electronic machines!? Why? Just thank him for the data on the Dispatch Poll and take it from there. Contradict him if you can, but don't start complaining about something that was not the original question. Doesn't he have the right to say that he doesn't want to go beyond his field of expertise?
Look, he is on our team. He looks at matters from a polling perspective and will call out people when they make statements about POLLING that he questions. But he won't criticize your efforts to eliminate election fraud if you don't take the name of polling in vain, kapich?
Yes, he is not radical, but trust me he is an honest, fact based, heck math based, political scientist and pollster. And whether you agree with his conlusions or not, he is not shilling for any agenda. He's simply giving the most likely answer based on the numbers. So, honestly, work with the man.
You know how you sometimes commend real conservatives and real old school GOP people when they put honesty and country before party. Well, Mark puts integrity in polling before party, and he is NOT afraid to tackle the controversies and analyze with a Sherlock Holmes mind. If I'm not mistaken, NO OTHER POLLSTER has risked his professional reputation to write publicly and thoroughly about the 2004 exit polling controversy and this Ohio controversy. Honestly, a lot of his readers and quite a few of the people that have worked on the exit poll analysis expected to find GOP malfeasance. The analysis he and others worked on and continue TO THIS DAY has shown the public that while fraud may have happened the exit polls don't prove or disprove it.
Let me tell you why I trust Mark. In October I found his blog. When the shit hit the fan with the 2004 exit polls, Mark was the only pollster who OPENLY questioned the meaning of the exit polls and attempted to answer readers questions. He called out the exit pollsters for not releasing the data. He called out the exit pollsters for lack of transparency in their methods. His readers, including yours truly, hounded him to explain the discrepancy and he used his influence to demand the analysis of the exit polls that statisticians and the public wanted.
AND he continued on the beat for MONTHS! Yes, his gut instincts told him that exit polls were not accurate enough to prove anything (at the time that was a gutsy statement that impeached a big name in Exit Polling, Mitofsky), but that didn't stop him from doing the work that was necessary. He is not some hack trying to frustrate the election reform effort. Frankly, I think his criticism is invaluable because he lets us know when we are barking up the wrong tree. You wouldn't want to build up a house of cards with the election reform movement right? Solid, fact based arguments, right?
So, look Mark is on our side and if we/you work with him he'll help keep the reform movement on solid factual ground with regards to using polling as proof or indicators of fraud. This is an invaluable strategic benefit of working with an honest broker. I'm surprised this isn't obvious.
Ok, I hope that didn't hurt too much.