Why Al Franken Should NOT Be Riding Private Planes

by Bob Fitrakis & Harvey Wasserman
December 23, 2008

The tragic and suspicious death of Karl Rove’s election thief in chief should send a clear message to Al Franken and other key liberals: don’t be riding in any small private planes.

Death by air crash now seems to be the favored means of ridding the Rovian right of troublesome characters.

The most recent is Michael Connell, who died Friday night when his private plane crashed near his northern Ohio home. Connell was the information techology whiz kid who helped Rove steal the 2000 and 2004 presidential elections, along with a few in between—possibly including the 2002 senatorial campaign in Minnesota that followed the death of Paul Wellstone.

Connell was an expert pilot whose plane crashed in clear weather. He held virtually all the secrets to how George W. Bush was illegally foisted on the American people—and the world—for eight horrifying years. By manipulating computerized results in Florida 2000 and Ohio 2004 Connell made history. By some accounts, he was about to tell the attorneys in the on-going King-Lincoln-Bronzeville federal civil rights lawsuit how he did it. He also approached expressed a willingness to appear under oath before Congress. But now he is dead.

Current cover stories include the possibility that his plane ran out of fuel. But its crash was accompanied by a very large fireball explosion that burned for more than ten minutes. A trooper on the scene immediately identified Connell, but newspaper accounts say his body was charred beyond recognition.

Connell told various sources that he was being threatened by Rove. He canceled at least two previous flights due to mechanical failure. A father of four, his decision to fly from a highly restricted airport in Maryland remains a mystery. Connell reportedly did contract work for security-industrial agencies, like the CIA. Connell also openly acknowledged that he was the first IT contractor to move his servers behind the firewall of the US House of Representatves where he oversaw the websites of the House Judiciary Committee, Intelligence Committee, Ways and Means Committee, and Administrative Committee, arguably the four most powerful committees in the House.

He now joins such critical players as Paul Wellstone, Mel Carnahan, Ron Brown, Mickey Leland, John Tower, John F. Kennedy, Jr., and many more critical public figures who have died in small plane crashes at questionable moments.

In all cases there are non-nefarious potential explanations for their deaths. Conspiracy theories can, indeed, be frivolous.

But so can their out-of-hand dismissal by coincidence theorists. Both Wellstone and Carnahan died two weeks before critical Senatorial elections they were favored to win in a divided Senate. In 2000, Carnahan’s Missouri seat was taken by his wife, who subsequently lost it.

Wellstone, the leading liberal light in the US Senate, had been personally threatened by Dick Cheney for opposing the Iraq war. Wellstone’s plane crashed under dubious circumstances, carrying himself, his wife and daughter. In an extremely questionable outcome, Norm Coleman got his seat.

Coleman was hand-picked by Karl Rove to run against Wellstone. His ensuing victory over stand-in candidate Walter Mondale was the highly unlikely outcome of a messy, manipulated election that coincided with equally dubious senatorial vote counts in Georgia and Colorado.

Al Franken may now be poised to take back the Wellstone seat for the Democratic Party. As an Air America talk host, he repeatedly mocked those who were investigating the theft of the 2004 election.

But he now owes the possibility of being elected to the diligent work of election protection activists who have fought all these years for fair, open and reliable vote counts. Had former Ohio Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell been in charge of this year’s Minnesota election, Franken would not even be in the running.

Ironically, a brutal right-wing hate campaign is now being waged against Franken, charging him with election theft. Among other things, it claims he “went to Hollywood” for money to steal his way into the Senate.

Were it not for the deaths of so many others before him, such talk could be dismissed out of hand.

But under the circumstances, we would strongly urge Al Franken not to be flying in any small planes.

Bob Fitrakis & Harvey Wasserman have co-authored four books on election protection, including HOW THE GOP STOLE AMERICA’S 2004 ELECTION…, and AS GOES OHIO, available at www.freepress.org, where this article was first published. They are attorney and plaintiff in the King-Lincoln civil rights lawsuit pursuing Michael Connell. This article originally appeared at https://freepress.org.

The Suspicious, Disturbing Death Of Election Rigger Michael Connell

The suspicious, disturbing death of election rigger Michael Connell
by Bob Fitrakis & Harvey Wasserman
December 20, 2008

Michael Connell, the crucial techno- lynch pin in the theft of the 2004 election, and much more, is dead at the age of 45. His unnatural, suspicious death raises serious questions about the corruption of the American electoral process that now may never be answered.

Connell died Friday, December 19 when his Piper Saratoga plane crashed near his northern Ohio home. He was flying himself home from the College Park, Maryland airport. An accomplished pilot, flying in unremarkable weather, his death cuts off a critical path to much of what may never be known about how the 2004 election was shifted from John Kerry to George W. Bush in the wee hours of November 2. His plane crashed between two houses in an upscale neighborhood, one vacant, just 2.5 miles from the Akron-Canton airport.

A long-time, outspokenly loyal associate of the Bush family, Connell created the Bush-Cheney website for their 2000 presidential campaign. Connell may have played a role in various computer malfunctions that helped the GOP claim the presidency in 2000. As a chief IT consultant and operative for Karl Rove, Connell was a devout Catholic and the father of four children. In various interviews and a deposition Connell cited his belief that abortion is murder as a primary motivating factor in his work for the Republican Party.

Connell recently wrote the following in his New Media Communications newsletter, regarding Barack Obama’s election: “In our 230 year history, our democracy has suffered worse fates. It’s just that none come to mind right now.” Connell wrote: “This is just a moment in time and this too shall pass. Enduring is the fact that 2000 years ago, a babe was born in Bethlehem. When our Lord God sent his only Son for our salvation,…In spite of the current economic and political conditions, salvation is eternal.”

Ohio Republican Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell hired Connell in 2004 to create a real-time computer data compilation for counting Ohio’s votes. Under Connell’s supervision, Ohio’s presidential vote count was transmitted to private, partisan computer servers owned by SmartTech housed in the basement of the Old Pioneer Bank building in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Connell’s company, New Media Communications worked closely with SmartTech in building Republican and right-wing websites that were hosted on SmartTech servers. Among Connell’s clients were the Republican National Committee, Swift Boat Veterans for Truth and gwb43.com. The SmartTech servers at one point housed Karl Rove’s emails. Some of Rove’s email files have since mysteriously disappeared despite repeated court-sanctioned attempts to review them.

In 2001, Michael Connell’s GovTech Solutions, LLC was selected to reorganize the Capitol Hill IT network, the only private-sector company to gain permission from HIR [House Information Resources] to place its server behind the firewall, he bragged.

At 12:20 am on the night of the 2004 election exit polls and initial vote counts showed John Kerry the clear winner of Ohio’s presidential campaign. The Buckeye State’s 20 electoral votes would have given Kerry the presidency.

But from then until around 2am, the flow of information mysteriously ceased. After that, the vote count shifted dramatically to George W. Bush, ultimately giving him a second term. In the end there was a 6.7 percent diversion—in Bush’s favor—between highly professional, nationally funded exit polls and the final official vote count as tabulated by Blackwell and Connell.

Until his death Connell remained the IT supervisor for six Congressional committees. But on the day before the 2008 election, Connell was deposed by attorneys Cliff Arnebeck and Bob Fitrakis about his actions during the 2004 vote count, and his continued involvement in IT operations for the GOP, including his access to Rove’s e-mail files and the circumstances behind their disappearance.

Various threats have been repeatedly reported involving Connell and other IT experts close to the GOP. On July 24, 2008, Arnebeck emailed Attorney General Michael Mukasey, stating: “We have been confidentially informed by a source we believe to be credible that Karl Rove has threatened Michael Connell, a principal witness we have identified in our King-Lincoln case in federal court in Columbus, Ohio,….”

Connell’s death comes at a moment where election protection attorneys and others appeared to be closing in on critical irregularities and illegalities. In his pre-election deposition, Connell was generally evasive, but did disclose key pieces of information that could prove damaging to Karl Rove and the GOP. Examining attorneys in the King-Lincoln-Bronzeville civil rights lawsuit, stemming from the 2004 election theft, were confident Connell had far more to tell.

There is widespread concern that this may be the reason he is now dead.

Revised December 21, 2008

Bob Fitrakis & Harvey Wasserman have co-authored four books on election protection, including AS GOES OHIO and HOW THE GOP STOLE AMERICAS 2004 ELECTION…, available at www.freepress.org, where this article first appeared. They are attorney and plaintiff in the King- Lincoln-Bronzeville civil rights lawsuit which subpoenaed and was deposing Michael Connell.

Bob Bytes Back Archive: 9/16/1996 Who’s Farah Majidzadeh?


by Bob Fitrakis

We all know that the Wolfe Family Newsletter, aka The Columbus Dispatch, has other relatives in the industry. There’s the staid uncle who secretly reads Hustler, who publishes The Ohio Magazine, the bastard stepchildren who put out This Week, and the flashy niece who flaunts herself over at Today’s Columbus Woman.

So, when you see Farah Majidzadeh’s splashy cover photo on July’s Today’s Columbus Woman, you can bet that she’s a Wolfe Family fave and politically connected. Her air-brushed, spin-doctored puff piece sent more than one investigative reporter running to their “deep throat” sources and their “top-secret” data banks. The Wolfe spin portrays Ms. Majidzadeh as one of Columbus’ leading female entrepreneurs, the head of Resource International, Inc., a Columbus-based engineering and construction-testing firm. Lest we suspect that Farah could be a female Tommy Banks-you know, one of those ersatz affirmative action front owners-Today’s Columbus Woman points out that Farah owns 67 percent of the business, while her husband Kamran owns the remaining 33 percent.

What the article doesn’t mention is that Resource International is a leading pay-to-play firm in Ohio politics. Between 1990 and 1994, the Majidzadeh family and in-laws gave at least $8,250 to Governor George V. Voinovich’s campaign coffers. Like Banks, the Majidzadeh bunch have gotten more than their share of state contracts, and not just in the construction field.

Recall that the Dispatch’s best investigative reporter, Bob Ruth, was hot on the trail of Farah’s daughter, Marcia, two years ago, when the Big D powers that be muzzled him. Marcia Majidzadeh and her husband owned Nationwide Equipment Enterprises. Ring a bell? The company that allegedly bilked a program to aid the blind out of some $253,900. In March 1993, Nationwide Equipment received a six-month contract from the Ohio Rehabilitation Services Commission to operate vending machines at rest stops. Thirty-seven-and-a-half percent of the gross receipts were to go to the state of Ohio to be used to help blind people establish their own food and beverage businesses at state rest stops. Ruth broke the story on July 24, 1994 that state records showed that Nationwide Equipment owed $120,395 in underreported receipts, had bounced $104,588 worth of checks, and had failed to pay the state $28,917 for cleaning bills at the 13 rest stops. On July 30, Ruth reported that the company had failed to “post a performance bond” even though their state contract called for it. And at the same time the state canceled her contract, in her zeal to serve the disabled, Marcia changed the name of her company to Consult-Systems, Inc. and signed a false name on another state Rehabilitation Services Commission contract bid application. Now she was the more waspy-sounding “Marsha May.”

But, Marcia had a pretty good explanation. You see, “people often had trouble pronouncing and spelling her real name,” particularly when they’ve been reading it in the paper in relationship to someone allegedly stealing from the blind. Marsha, Marsha, Marsha! Things got so bad that the Department of Aging canceled a contract that she and her husband were scheduled to sign to cater meals to senior citizens at the Ohio State Fair. Let’s see, the blind…the elderly…no doubt handicapped children breathed a sigh of relief after that.

Here’s the story of a lovely lady, who was building up a business of her own. And then one day when that lady met the governor, she knew that it was much more than a hunch. That if she gave him a lot of money, he could probably help her business out a bunch. Damage control time. Farah and Kamran pulled a George Voinovich and wept openly about their bum son-in-law, Ali Sharifrazi (aka Ali S. Razi), who deceived their daughter and allegedly forged her name. Actual quote: “Majidzadeh’s parents fought back tears as they described their surprise…” They were “shocked,” shocked, I say! The distraught parents failed to explain how their poor, duped, 30-year-old daughter who had nothing to do with any wrongdoing, not only submitted a bid in the name of Marsha May, but showed up for a “coin-toss ceremony” at the Ohio Division of Purchasing. The coin toss broke a tie between “Marsha May” and another bidder over the state contract.

Poor Marcia; she emerged a double loser. Not only did she lose the toss, but state officials realized that Marsha May was a fraud. Now, we know who Marsha May really is and we know her game. The question remains, who is Farah Majidzadeh and what is her financial relationship, if any, with the disgraced former Chief of Staff Paul Mifsud? Let’s toss a coin: heads-it’s contract steering, tails-it’s just another one of those funny Voinovich coincidences.

Bob Bytes Back Archive: 9/04/1996 The High Price Of Bucking The System

by Bob Fitrakis

All evidence suggests that since the onset of the George Voinovich administration in January 1991, the governor’s recently resigned chief of staff, Paul Mifsud, systematically engineered the steering of contracts and public funds to political backers and Voinovich family members.

The firing of Joseph Gilyard on July 22, 1991 by the Voinovich administration was a clear harbinger of the governor’s current problems. Gilyard, who had been director of the Office of Criminal Justice Services and a long-time loyal supporter of the state’s Republican machine, was canned shortly after he alleged that he was under political pressure to give the governor’s brother’s company valuable state prison construction contracts.

The firing paved the way for Mifsud, formerly vice president of the Voinovich Cos., to operate with virtually no restraints within the governor’s administration. As chief of staff, Mifsud was put in charge of the Ohio Department of Transportation, the Commerce Department and the Development Department, and used that position of power to serve the interests of political backers and personal favorites.

Recent allegations that contracts were steered towards the Banks-Carbone Construction Company may be just the tip of the iceberg. It’s an open secret in the local construction and architecture industry that over the last five years most major design and construction management contracts have been awarded in a blatantly partisan manner. Many contractors believe that the state’s Department of Administrative Services has repeatedly gone through a charade of soliciting proposals and later interviewing qualified architectural construction management companies for state projects prior to steering the contracts to what appeared to be predetermined winners. According to construction industry insiders, projects that seem to fit this pattern include:

· Five prison contracts totaling $150 million awarded to Knowlton Construction Company to build or renovate five state prisons, despite the company having little or no previous experience as a prison construction manager.
· The $80 million Max Fisher Business School, the $85 million Schottenstein Arena at Ohio State, and the $110 million Hilltop Office Complex to the Gilbane Building Company. In all three cases, the Banks-Carbone Construction Company was selected as the minority partner.
· The $65 million new COSI building to the Ruscilli Construction Company.
· The $20 million reconstruction of the riot-damaged Lucasville prison to the Sherman R. Smoot Company.
· Various contracts to the Voinovich Cos. and Voinovich-Sgro to build and renovate jails, including the Franklin County jail.

Following George Voinovich’s electoral victory in November 1990, Lieutenant Governor Michael DeWine appointed Gilyard director of the Governor’s Office of Criminal Justice Services in January 1991. Gilyard’s previous experience included being executive assistant to George Forbes, Cleveland City Council president; chief of staff for Cuyahoga County Commissioner Virgil Brown; court administrator for Chief Justice Thomas Moyer; and director of the Ohio Court of Claims. As director of the Office of Criminal Justice Services, Gilyard’s tasks were to coordinate planning and funding for all of Ohio’s criminal justice agencies and dispense state funds for area jail construction projects. Over the eight-year period from 1983 to 1991, the Office of Criminal Justice Services awarded some $200 million in jail construction monies.

Within six months of his hiring, Gilyard was disgraced and hounded by several charges-theft in office, lying to the Voinovich administration about his past, and allegations of sexual harassment-that were later all summarily dismissed. Gilyard’s termination and public humiliation served as a head on a spike to all who dared cross Mifsud.

Gilyard’s tenure turned tenuous immediately after an early “get acquainted” meeting with lobbyist Phil Hamilton, head of the Voinovich transition team and former executive vice president of Voinovich Cos.; and Bennett J. Cooper, Gilyard’s predecessor in the administration of Governor James A. Rhodes.

“[Hamilton] had been bugging me and bugging me to come over,” Gilyard said in an interview with Columbus Alive. When he walked up to the office at 8 E. Long Street, Gilyard said he noticed a plaque over the door. “In gold leaf it says ‘Hamilton and Associates, The Voinovich Cos.’ I about passed out.”

In fact, Candace Peters, a criminal justice administrator, had warned Hamilton during the 1990 campaign that the Voinovich Cos. was facing a potential conflict-of-interest situation over the building of local jails in Ohio.

Despite the warning, the pressure from Hamilton and his associates was “never-ending,” Gilyard insists. For example, he says, at “a reception for all the Voinovich criminal justice people, Hamilton is bothering me again. Cooper’s coming over [to his office] every other two, three days. He’s calling me. He’s going on trips with me,” Gilyard recalls.

Both Cooper and Hamilton are on record denying having pressured Gilyard to receive jail construction grants and contracts.

In a memo to DeWine dated February 1, 1991, Gilyard outlined his problems with the initial meeting with Cooper, Hamilton, and his wife, Patricia Hamilton. According to Gilyard, the talk immediately turned to jail construction contracts and Gilyard said he felt he had to excuse himself. Gilyard said he believed the meeting “raised a significant question as to its propriety” since there was a 1987 Attorney General’s opinion that jail construction grants were state contracts and candidate George Voinovich had pledged that his brother Paul’s company would receive no state contracts.

Patricia Hamilton was soon thereafter appointed the chairperson of State Board of Personnel Review, the board that would later approve Gilyard’s ouster as director.

While others mulled the memo, Gilyard’s attention was drawn to Sheriff Earl Smith. In late March, early April, Gilyard began investigating allegations of impropriety surrounding Sheriff Smith’s Franklin County Drug Enforcement Network (DEN). Gilyard’s now-famous April 12, 1991 memo to DeWine basically summarized various allegations of illegal activity by DEN agents. DeWine froze the funding for the program and, Gilyard later claimed, ordered him to “destroy the memo.” The DEN missive-together with the February 1 memo-unwittingly set the stage for Gilyard’s later dismissal.

At about this time, Sharon Downs, an assistant deputy director of Administrative Services-and wife of John Downs, then-personnel director for Earl Smith and a protege of Voinovich transition director Hamilton-accessed a computer file on Gilyard’s personnel history. Prior to accepting his position, Gilyard had interviewed with Secretary of State Bob Taft’s office where he talked openly about a 1975 incident at Indian River School, a juvenile detention facility where he was fired from the staff and convicted for hitting a youth. The misdemeanor conviction was later overturned. Despite the fact that Gilyard made no secret of the incident, DeWine claimed that Gilyard had failed to disclose the incident during his background check and subsequently he fired Gilyard in July of 1991, even though he later conceded that he was aware of the 1975 incident when Gilyard was hired.

As Gilyard recalls, he was originally offered the job to protect DeWine because, like Mifsud, he was raised in the hardball political scene in Cleveland. Gilyard said he was told: “You were in Cleveland politics, and Mike’s afraid that those guys are going to eat him alive.” Gilyard claims that early on, Mifsud surrounded himself with ambitious “young Republicans….We used to call them ‘brown shirts’ like in Germany.” Politically, you couldn’t make any mistakes in dealing with Mifsud, according to Gilyard: “Mifsud would cut your throat off.”

In June, Smith, angered at Gilyard for freezing his drug task force funds, met with Mifsud about instituting a thaw. Smith gave Mifsud an investigation file on Gilyard. In a two-pronged strategy, Hamilton-who was on Smith’s payroll as a $1,000 a month management contractor-met with DeWine and offered to mediate the dispute between Smith and DeWine over task force funding.

In the meantime, pressure from Hamilton and Cooper mounted, Gilyard claims, adding that he felt compelled to approach Mifsud about the Voinovich Cos.’ apparent conflict of interest. He said he went early to a Cabinet meeting. “I said ‘Paul, you have to do something about this jail stuff….I’m telling him this story and literally…he put his hands over his ears like a little kid. ‘I don’t want to know, get away from me, stay away from me,’ and he ran around the Cabinet table to the other side and turned his back on me.”

Around the first of July, Paul Voinovich sent his brother 14 pages of material-including copies of Gilyard’s personnel history-with handwritten comments to the effect that there were problems with Gilyard. It was virtually the same package Smith had given Mifsud in June.

Gilyard had confronted Sheriff Smith about the allegations against the DEN agents. While Smith denied them and insisted that he get his funding back, both he and Gilyard have confirmed that, during the conversation, Smith made Gilyard aware of illegal campaign contributions that the trash haulers had made to the 1990 Voinovich campaign.

Gilyard claims Smith “sent a direct threat to the governor” to back off his drug task force, and immediately Smith began to crack down on overloaded garbage trucks in Franklin County. “Now, what actually happened was, when Earl had told me about the illegal campaign contributions, he actually was making trash trucks dump their trash in the city streets of Columbus. There’s pictures in the Dispatch. Nobody could understand why. I, of course, knew why, and I’m telling the governor and I’m telling these people why and Mifsud’s pooh-poohing me, although he knew better,” Gilyard explained.

In what even he describes as an end run to get to the governor the information about the activities of his brother Paul, Hamilton and Mifsud, Gilyard said he arranged a meeting with David B. Bailey, a Cleveland Republican Ward Committeeman and Voinovich confidante for over 30 years; and former Cuyahoga County Republican Party Chair, Robert Hughes.

Hughes, one of the state’s most powerful Republicans, had recently formed his own political consulting company. “We met with Hughes in Hughes’ basement. It was Hughes, Hughes’ wife, Bailey, my wife and myself. Bob took prodigious notes. Five pages of notes on a yellow pad. He agreed to see the governor, and I believe he made a phone call to Columbus that night,” recalled Gilyard.

Whether or not the governor got the information is unknown. Hughes died in November of 1991 under mysterious circumstances, the victim of carbon monoxide poisoning.

On July 15, 1991, Gilyard sent another troubling memo to DeWine questioning the propriety of the Voinovich Cos.’ lobbying efforts. Within a week, he was suspended and then fired by DeWine, who accused him of withholding information about the 1975 Indian River incident. DeWine also claimed that he hadn’t received any memo from Gilyard regarding the Voinovich Cos.’ intense lobbying efforts. Earl Smith had in the meantime filed theft-in-office charges against Gilyard.

On August 7, Curt Steiner, chief spokesman for Voinovich, stated that DeWine was aware of the 1975 Indian River incident when he first interviewed Gilyard in December. Late in August, a nearly 1,000-page Ohio Highway Patrol report substantially supported Gilyard’s claim that he had sought to repeatedly warn Mifsud of ethical problems.

A little more than a week after Gilyard’s departure, the Columbus Dispatch reported that, “Two well-connected Statehouse lobbyists- one with ties with Governor George V. Voinovich’s brother and another appointed by Voinovich to a state commission-helped clients land unbid contracts as part of a $350 million state bond issue.” Hamilton was the lobbyist for Goldman Sachs & Co., which, along with Lehman Brothers, received the unbid contracts to handle about $175 million in bond issues on behalf of the Ohio Housing Finance Agency.

On October 3, Franklin County Judge Richard Ferrell dismissed Smith’s charges against Gilyard, citing “no probably cause.” On October 18, after months denying its existence, DeWine turned over a copy of Gilyard’s July 15 memo, claiming that he had recently discovered it in a desk at his second home. DeWine dismissed Gilyard’s thoughtful memo as “a goofy, long narrative.” The memo remains a must-read for anyone seeking to understand the current contract-steering allegations against Mifsud.

After Hughes’ death in November 1991, the Ohio Ethics Commission-with new Voinovich appointees-ruled that it wasn’t a conflict of interest for the governor’s brother to take state jail construction funds.

One monument to the political machine that steamrolled over Gilyard stands in Franklin County: the renovated Franklin County jail, built in 1970 by Pringle and Pratt. According to former Sheriff Smith, now running again for his old job, the Voinovich Cos. originally did the architectural assessment for the renovation at the Franklin County jail. They were paid $75,000, and received another $18,000 for their estimate that the jail could be renovated for $2 million. The $2 million renovation has turned into an $11 million-plus project.

Smith said that the Voinovich Cos. recently renovated a kitchen at the jail that had already been renovated “down to leveling the floors” in 1990.

“There was no bid from the Voinovich Cos. They said that since the Voinovich Cos. had done the original architectural assessment, that constituted a bid,” Smith said.

The GOP Attack On Democracy Continues In Ohio

by Bob Fitrakis & Harvey Wasserman
November 19, 2008

The Ohio Republican Party has escalated its attacks on democracy on two key fronts.

It’s trying to steal a hotly contested Congressional seat. And it’s moving to restrict voting rights for coming elections.

In the bitterly embattled House race in central Ohio’s 15th Congressional District, Republican State Senator Steve Stivers has a slight lead over Franklin County Commissioner Mary Jo Kilroy.

Two years ago, Kilroy essentially defeated the previous incumbent, fourth-ranked House Republican Deborah Pryce. In an extremely tight race, a wide range of dubious voter eliminations and manipulated vote counts stole what appears to have been a clear victory from Kilroy. The GOP’s infamous J. Kenneth Blackwell was still Ohio’s Secretary of State. The Democrats declined to take him on, and the seat remained in Republican hands.

This year Ohio’s Secretary of State is Democrat Jennifer Brunner. It would appear Kilroy has won again.

But the Republicans are on their usual anti-voter attack. With the help of Matt Damshroeder, Deputy Director of the Franklin County Board of Elections, the GOP has used a range of insider information to challenge about a thousand provisional ballots cast in heavily Democratic areas of the district. In particular they argue that a minor voter omission on the ballots should disqualify them. If they win that case, Stivers might well take the seat.

Brunner has gone to federal court asking that all the votes be counted. A decision from Judge Algernon Marbley is expected on Thursday.

Damshroeder’s role reflects a classic Democratic indifference to election protection. Damshroeder is a past chair of the Franklin County GOP. He also served as the county chair for the 2004 Bush/Cheney campaign.

Prior to that election, while acting as Director of the Franklin County BOE, Damshroeder accepted a $10,000 check from a Diebold representative in his office at the BOE. The board was deciding at the time whether or not to buy Diebold machines.

Damshroeder asked that the check be made out to the Franklin County Republican Party. When the incident surfaced in the media, he apologized for the “impropriety.” But the GOP kept the check. And Damshroeder was “punished” with one month’s paid leave, even though Democrats could have had him removed.

Damshroeder is now Deputy BOE Director. His insider enabling role in the attempt to disenfranchise a thousand voters in his own district is problematic at best. The Ohio Democratic Party has finally issued a few angry e-blasts about it. But Brunner has the power to actually remove Damshroder. Doing so would send a message the Dems are finally serious about election protection.

The Republicans are also trying to make it harder for the general public to vote in the next election. In the lame duck session after the theft of the 2004 election, the GOP-controlled Legislature passed an extremely restrictive bill aimed at disenfranchising thousands of Ohioans and making recounts of federal balloting virtually impossible.

But the GOP inadvertently included a provision that allowed new voters to register and cast a ballot on the same day. In 2008 the GOP sued Brunner to try to close that window. But Brunner prevailed in court, and tens of thousands of first-time voters came out to the polls in late September and the first week of October. By some news accounts these early voters backed Obama by margins as high as 12:1.

The embarrassed and angry Republicans have now vowed to rid the process of this pro-voter opening in the upcoming lame duck session of the Legislature. But if they do, it’s likely the new governor, Democrat Ted Strickand, will veto the bill and sit on it. Next year the Democrats will control the Ohio House, and are unlikely to allow such a bill to go through.

By then, perhaps Matt Damshroeder will be out of a job, and Mary Jo Kilroy will be in Congress. But one thing is certain: the GOP attack on the right to vote is unlikely to have abated.

Bob Fitrakis & Harvey Wasserman have co-authored four books on election protection, including HOW THE GOP STOLE AMERICA’S 2004 ELECTION … and AS GOES OHIO, available at www.freepress.org, where this article first appeared. Their radio shows are broadcast at WVKO-AM 1580, Air America in Columbus, Ohio.

Election Protection In Ohio (And America) Isn’t Over

by Bob Fitrakis & Harvey Wasserman
November 17, 2008

As the sun sets on Bush 2, it is clear that a very thin line of electoral protection preserved Barack Obama’s victory in Ohio—and the nation.

And it’s no accident the vote count battle for a Columbus-area Congressional seat still rages.

The GOP’s 2008 electoral strategy again emphasized massive voter disenfranchisement and rigging the electronic vote count. The twin tactics very nearly gave Ohio to McCain/Palin, and threatened to set precedents capable of winning them the national election.

Prior to the 2004 vote, Republican Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell stripped some 308,000 Ohio citizens from the registration rolls in heavily Democratic districts. This mass disenfranchisement alone may have accounted for the 118,000-plus official margin that gave George W. Bush a second term in the White House.

After the 2004 vote, Blackwell disenfranchised another 170,000 voters in heavily Democratic Franklin County (Columbus).

But in 2006, Democrat Jennifer Brunner was elected to replace Blackwell. Ironically, the King-Lincoln-Bronzeville federal civil rights lawsuit filed against Blackwell over 2004 election irregularities has carried over, making Brunner the defendant (we are plaintiff and defendant in that suit). As a result, negotiations between Brunner and election protection attorneys have been on-going since she took office.

In the lead-up to the 2008 elections, the GOP tried yet another massive voter purge. Through the “caging” technique of sending unsolicited “do not forward” junk mail, GOP operatives obtained by returned mail the names of some 600,000 registered Ohio voters. Some were serving in Iraq. Also, the GOP once again fought to purge voters for “inactivity” as they sought to eliminate voters who hadn’t voted in four-years as opposed to eight, even if they voted in state and local eletions..

The GOP demanded the right to disenfranchise these voters. But Brunner directed that each was entitled to notice and an individual in-person hearing.

As Greg Palast and Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., have reported, the GOP used similar caging throughout the US, aimed at millions of likely Democratic voters.

The GOP also went after 200,000 new Ohio voters whose registrations showed minor discrepancies. Included were variations in social security and drivers’ license numbers, or changes in middle names, nicknames and addresses.

But Brunner fought to protect these names from GOP challenge, and was upheld by the US Supreme Court, who refused to hear the GOP case prior to the election.

Based on projected demographic and voter turnout statistics, the elimination of these four-fifths of a million voters (some 5.4 million votes were counted in Ohio 2008) could have shifted a 200,000-vote victory for Obama to a 40,000-vote triumph for McCain. This projection is based on a conservative estimate that 80% of these targeted voters vote Democratic and 50% would have turned out to vote.

Partly in response to pressure from election protection activists, Brunner also facilitated early and absentee voting. Polling stations opened by September 30 throughout the state. Despite GOP efforts, a full week was available to those who wished to register and vote at the same time. As least 25% of Ohio’s voters cast their ballots prior to Election Day. By most accounts these votes went overwhelmingly for Obama. The Columbus Dispatch reported that Democrats outvoted Republicans 12-1 in early voting.

Brunner also tried to make paper ballots available to all voters who wanted them. Under often dubious financial arrangements with a direct conflict of interest as a stockholder, Blackwell installed Diebold electronic voting machines designed to account for as many as half Ohio’s 2008 votes.

But the GOP-controlled legislature manipulated the finances behind the push for paper ballots. Ohio’s 88 counties eventually provided enough of them for at least 25% of the voters. But so many voted early that reports now indicate there were ultimately enough paper ballots at the Election Day polling stations for nearly all who wanted them.

Other GOP attempts at disenfranchisement also fell flat. When the Republican sheriff of Greene County attempted to prosecute 304 students (many of them African-American) for “voter fraud” he ignited a massive public outcry. At issue was the common confusion over whether a student will vote at home or at college. Under widespread attack, the sheriff backed off. But students at public universities and liberal arts colleges throughout the rest of the state reported GOP harassment.

Despite widespread attempts to avoid them, there were 186,000 provisional ballots cast in Ohio 2008, some 40,000 more than the 141,000 cast in 2004 (16,000 of which have never been counted). Independent observers reported on-going confusion about the use of provisional ballots, largely attributed to poor pollworker training.

A federal database used to check driver’s license information went down for nearly three hours on Election Day due to what the Ohio Department of Public Safety said was “a large fiber-optic cable being cut in Texas.”

Despite an increase of 319,000 registered Ohio voters in 2008 over 2004, the official turnout was actually lower. Barack Obama received 22,000 fewer votes than John Kerry. John McCain got 317,000 fewer than Bush. Election protection experts attribute this to a selective GOP padding of the 2004 vote count, especially in three heavily Republican southwestern counties where irregularities and improbabilities abounded.

An observer in Miami County reported that a Republican election director illegally forced recently-moved citizens to vote provisionally. In Franklin County, pollbooks wrongly identified 35,000 voters as provisional. Four black voters in Fairfield County reported being purged despite stable long-term residencies. The Republican-connected company Triad, infamous for its secretive work on central tabulators in 2004, emerged in the majority of Ohio counties as the keeper of electronic pollbooks for the boards of elections.

While these and other irregularities bruised the election, there were far fewer than reported in 2004. The presence of hundreds of well-trained and equipped election protection volunteers throughout the state seem to have staved off any GOP attempt to repeat the massive disenfranchisement that gave the 2004 Ohio vote count to George W. Bush. Key Ohio polling stations were graced with independent election observers appointed by the Green Party. Independent video-the-vote teams, nonpartisan election observers, and Obama supporters were placed outside the polls documenting all that happened. With an apparently workable distribution of voting machines and sufficient paper ballots as a backup (along with a clear sunny day) the horrors of long lines in Ohio’s 2004 election were avoided in 2008.

The Ohio vote count also seems to have been successfully protected. In Licking County, a voter reported that his paper ballot was put in a bag without an envelope. In Youngstown, Joyce Stewart reports being given a paper ballot that had no place to choose a president.

E-voting machines in three Columbus precincts double-counted votes. In heavily Democratic Lucas County, four out of eight e-voting machines in precinct 20, recorded no votes for president, while recording far higher vote counts for such minor offices as county coroner.

The poll judge in Columbus precinct 25G tried to have legitimate exit pollers arrested. In Trumbull County, Warner Lange observed that “all of the votes cast using a paper ballot between the hours of 6:30am and 8:15 am are invalid because none of the voters were asked, as required, to sign the pollbook.”

In Hamilton and Franklin Counties (Cincinnati and Columbus) early and absentee ballots were not counted on Election Night, as originally planned. It took three hours after the polls closed for Union County election officials to get their ballots scanned. Terry Grimm reported that “everything was wrong” coming from the Summit County town of Barberton, causing a delayed tabulation.

Kevin Egler in Portage County reported that after 2800 votes were scanned on election night, a “corrupted card signal” came out, forcing election officials to start the vote count over.

Ultimately, despite Brunner’s attempts to get rid of them, hundreds of thousands of votes were again cast and counted on electronic voting machines with no paper trail and no way to do a reliable recount.

But missing this time was an electronic theft apparatus under the control of Blackwell and Karl Rove.

On Election Night 2004, Blackwell e-mailed Ohio’s electronic vote count to a basement in Chattanooga, Tennessee that also housed the servers for the Republican National Committee. The tally “miraculously” shifted from Kerry to Bush between 12:30 and 2 am, ultimately giving Bush a second term.

The data was handled under a state contract funneled by Blackwell to Michael Connell, a shadowy Bush family IT specialist who programmed the official Bush-Cheney website in 2000 and 2004.

On the day before the 2008 election, Connell was forced to testify under oath under cross-examination by King-Lincoln-Bronzeville attorneys Cliff Arnebeck and Bob Fitrakis. Among the questions at issue was whether Connell left any “Trojan Horse” programs in place in the Ohio electronic vote count structure through which he could have hacked the 2008 outcome.

There has yet to be a definitive answer to that question, or to what he actually may have done to the 2004 vote count. But, for what it’s worth, Karl Rove did shift his predictions from a McCain victory to one for Obama shortly after the federal court agreed to force Connell to testify.

There may be much to celebrate in the apparent legitimacy of the Ohio 2008 vote count.

But half the state’s ballots are still slated to be cast on electronic voting machines whose source codes remain under private lock and key. There is no guarantee Ohio voters will have universal access to paper ballots in future elections. In direct violation of federal law, no fewer than 56 of Ohio’s 88 counties destroyed all or most of their federal election records after the 2004 election, making a definitive recount impossible. There have been no state or federal prosecutions.

The “minor” irregularities and attempted voter disenfranchisements observed in Ohio 2008 were repeated throughout the US, and could easily resurface in future elections if they are not again thoroughly observed.

And in Columbus, the Republicans are right now suing Brunner to throw out thousands of provisional ballots cast in a Congressional race still in hot dispute. Incredibly, the GOP is operating on inside information fed it by Franklin County assistant BOE director Matt Damshroder.

Damshroder accepted a $10,000 check in his BOE office from a Diebold representative. The check was made out to the Republican Party. Damshroder was given a one-month paid suspension for this in 2005. With Democratic assent, he remains a key player in the vote count that will determine whether heavily Democratic Franklin County could be stopped from sending its first Democrat to Congress since 1980.

Nationwide the GOP successfully disenfranchised millions of likely voters in Election 2008. Easily hacked, un-monitorable e-voting machines are still spread throughout the United States. The opportunities to steal future elections that are certain to be far tighter than 2008 remain readily available.

Much has been learned in the Bush era of the Unelected President. There is simply no doubt that the thousands of volunteers who worked tirelessly to protect the election of 2008 in Ohio and throughout the nation in fact prevented the GOP from stealing yet another one.

But unless this administration implements automatic voter registration, universal hand counted paper ballots, the total elimination of electronic voting machines, expanded windows for voting and a far more secure system of impartial citizen observation, the specter of still more stolen elections will haunt our democracy.

Indeed, we will still have to wonder if that’s what we really have here.

Bob Fitrakis & Harvey Wasserman’s four co-authored books on election protection include HOW THE GOP STOLE AMERICA’S 2004 ELECTION & IS RIGGING 2008, and AS GOES OHIO, both available at www.freepress.org, where this article first appeared. Their next and final book and movie on the topic are in the works. Their radio shows are broadcast at WVKO 1580AM, central Ohio’s Air America affiliate.

original article:

The Kudzu Effect: The Voting-Industrial Complex Chokes Our Democracy

The Kudzu Effect is named after a parasitic, rapidly growing vine that engulfs and suffocates the life beneath it. The life of a democracy is embodied by free, honest and verifiable elections.

Computerized voting, promoted by an interlocking cabal of political operatives and vendors is strangling American democracy. According to Election Data Services, almost 80% of all voters in 2006 voted on electronic voting machines or optically-scanned ballots nationwide. Less than 1% of voters in the U.S. used traditional hand-counted paper ballots.

What has caused this meteoric rise in computerized voting and votecounting where proprietary secrets destroy the transparency of theelection process? A massive public relations campaign by a handful of strategically placed individuals has peddled computer voting as the high-tech wave of the future.

Tom Wilkey, the Executive Director of the Election Assistance Commission (EAC), an independent bipartisan commission created by the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) of 2002, is a leading advocate for electronic voting. He told the Los Angeles Times following the 2006 Congressional elections, that “When you look at a situation [2006 election] where we have 183,000 precincts in this country, there have been very, very few problems proportionately.”Wilkey also administered the testing and certifying of voting machines through NASED, the National Association of State Election Directors.

Another key proponent is Doug Lewis, the director of the Houston-based Election Center, whom David Broder of the Washington Post describes as, “the man who knows more about the conduct of elections than anyone else in the country.” Lewis gushed in USA Today:“It looks like it [2006 election] actually went better than everybody expected. My God, it’s a big country, and you’d expect some glitches.”

In reality, there were significant electronic voting problems in the 2006 election all over the country. As Ellen Theisen, founder of Voters Unite!, points out “What if voting machines failed at thousands of polling places in over half the states, and the problems caused such severe delays in eight states that voting hours were extended? Is that ‘just a few glitches?’”

Here in Ohio and across the nation, the electronic voting machines recorded statistically unlikely under votes. In a hotly contested Congressional election in Sarasota, Florida, the machines recorded that 13%, or 18,000 of the votes, failed to register in a race decided by 368 votes. In Montgomery County, Ohio, some 30,000 votes failed to record in the U.S. Senate race because of improper touchscreen machine “calibration.” In Franklin County, Ohio ,a Domestic Relations judicial race produced more than 22,000 unexpected under votes. A recount and court hearing proved that it was impossible to audit the electronic machines that “glitched.”

Ohio machines deemed vulnerable

Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner’s much-anticipated study found Ohio’s election system riddled with “critical security failures.”Released in December 2007, after attempts by the Republican-dominated legislature to block the funding, the review showed massive problems involved with electronic voting systems. The corporate vendor-connected Microsolved ,Inc. concluded as part of the study that Ohio’s computer voting machine vendors have “failed to adopt, implement and follow industry-standard best practices in the development of the system.” Among them, according to the independent academics who wrote a different section of the report, was the “pervasive misapplication of security technology.”

They specifically cited the lack of “standard and well-known practices for the use of cryptology, key and password management and security hardware.” The academics went on to describe computer voting software practices as “deeply flawed.” The result leads to “fragile software in which exploitable crashes, lockups, and failures are common in normal use.”

Paperless voting machines to be replaced

Earlier in 2007, Florida’s Governor Charlie Crist and the State legislature agreed to ban direct-recording electronic (DRE) voting systems. After extensive testing in California, Secretary of State (SoS) Debra Bowen, announced that DRE voting systems made by Sequoia and Diebold would be banned from use. Bowen’s testing prompted her Colorado counterpart, Mike Coffman, to decertify many of his state’s e-voting systems. Rather than install computerized vote counting machines with known system failures and security inadequacies, New York State has refused to “improve” its lever-based voting machinery by going electronic and as a result faces a federal lawsuit.

Bo Lipari, executive director of New Yorkers for Verified Voting asserts, “State after state which adopted electronic touch screen DREs are now abandoning them for paper ballots and ballot scanners. DREs cannot and do not protect our right to vote.”

It is becoming clear that the “Help America Vote Act of 2002” (HAVA), the broadest voting reform effort of the past generation, created in the response to the “hanging chads” of the 2000 election, is a $4 billion boondoggle. The legislation, is called the “Hack America Vote Act” by election integrity activists, or the “Help America’s Vendors Act.” And vendor-abetting is what Lewis’ Election Center is all about.

Who are Wilkey & Lewis?

A look at the top two entries on the Kudzu Chart (pp. 20-21 of this issue) documents that Wilkey and Lewis have been instrumental in the extremely successful, well-coordinated plan to hand U.S. elections, the voters, and the future of this nation over to what can only be described as a voting industrial complex: a privatized,for-profit system controlled by the voting machine equipment vendors in alliance with their key allies – neo-con ideologues and the military-and security-industrial elite.

An investigation headed by Sheri Myers and the Free Press of Wilkey and Lewis, documents that they have used the cover of the“nonprofit, nonpartisan” Election Center to: create a nexus for election officials and the vendors to conspire to push electronic voting, take over the testing and certifying of the voting machines on behalf of the vendors, and assume control of U.S. elections through the Election Assistance Commission.

Another look at the Kudzu Chart, comparing the involvement in columns 2 and 22, reveals that a core group of electronic voting advocates came out of the Election Center and now essentially run the EAC. (For bios of the players, go to: freepress.org) The EAC was charged by HAVA to distribute billions of dollars around the country to purchase voting machines and voter registration database systems. The EAC also has taken over the testing and certifying of America’s voting machines from the National Association of State Election Directors (NASED). But NASED itself, another self-described “nonpartisan nonprofit” group,basically grew out of the Election Center.

Wilkey and Lewis helped to create a self-enclosed system that appoints itself, funds itself, and tests itself, all the while actively ignoring the realities – the damage – the system is creating.

The Kudzu Effect: How it all began

Think of the Election Center as an incubator for the intertwining of vendor and voting official, a parasitic vine, like the Japanese kudzu,that destroys democracy as it crosses precinct, county, state, and national election jurisdictions. This intensely corrupt and eminently successful integrated effort to privatize voting is spreading worldwide through the apparatus of the International Foundation for Election Systems (IFES).

It took a well-placed and well-connected operative like Gary Greenhalgh to plant the Kudzu seeds. Greenhalgh served with the Federal Elections Commission (FEC) from 1975-1985. He left with his FEC co-worker Gwenn Hofmann to create the International Center on Election Law and Administration (ICELA). Thomas Wilkey’s bio on the EAC site also credits him as a founder, “During 1983 . . . [he]pushed for the creation of the (ICELA).” During the Reagan-Bush administration, ties were established between the Bureau of Social Science Research (BSSR) and the ICELA. The BSSR provided initial funding to the ICELA.

The Bureau was founded in 1950 as a division of the school of social sciences and public affairs at American University. It became a nonprofit in 1956 and was used as a propaganda tool of the CIA.Its major areas of study included “. . . communication research;international program evaluation; educational research; urban renewal and community relations; military sociology; and the sociology of occupations,” according to the Yale University Library. (RoperCollection)

Christopher Simpson’s Science of Coercion (Oxford University Press) documents that “. . . the CIA clandestinely underwrote the Bureau of Social Science Research (BSSR) studies of torture. . . .” CIA expert Alfred McCoy, in his A Question of Torture, notes that the CIA used the BSSR as “One of the main conduits” for torture experiments.

By 1985, the BSSR was faltering financially. Greenhalgh’s communications with Vermont’s Secretary of State Jim Douglas at that time show that Greenhalgh was looking for a new home and funding for his Center, and would approach George Mason University, (Karl Rove’s alma mater, where Republican strategist Morton Black well hosts his infamous Leadership Institute).In 1979, Rove trained at Morton Blackwell’s Leadership Institute. Its slogan: “For conservatives who want to win.” Blackwell helped co-found the influential Christian Right Moral Majority as well as the highly secretive and far-right Council for National Policy.

By 1986, Greenhalgh received funding from the Hewlett, Ford, and Joyce Foundations and established ICELA as the nonprofit “Election Center” as part of the Academy for State and Local Government. By 1987, the Election Center vendor membership listed Arthur Young, BRC, MicroVote, Douglas Manufacturing, Triad, R. F. Shoup, Sperry Corp,Hart Graphics, and Office Technology Corporation – the major voting machine vendors of the day.

Certainly Greenhalgh was aware of the potential for fraud and vote rigging with the voting machines. An internet search for the ICELA reveals the following 1985 quote posted on the Blackboxvoting site: “‘There is a massive potential for problems,’ said Gary L. Greenhalgh, director of the International Center on Election Law and Administration, a consulting group in Washington. He added that the problem with computer-assisted voting systems was that they‘centralized the opportunity for fraud.’”

Roy Saltman, in his 1988 report, “Accuracy, Integrity, and Security in Computerized Vote Tallying,”recommended that the fledgling Election Center be the “go-to” group for all information on elections and vendors. Saltman’s report offers a nearly history of the Election Center: “The Election Center, affiliated with the Academy for State and Local Government, was established in 1984. The Center is an independent non-profit resource center serving registration and election officials.”

The initial efforts by the Election Center to network with state and local election officials and propagandize for the introduction of electronic voting systems in the United States are referenced in Saltman’s report: “The Center has recently distributed the report of a workshop held on Captiva Island, Florida, in February, 1987. The workshop concerned computerized vote-tallying and included, as participants, election officials, vendors, computer scientists, and others interested in the election process.”

Saltman offers this pitch in his report: “Election officials require a source of neutral expertise for the receipt of new technical and administrative information. The establishment of the Election Center in the Academy for State and Local Government clearly fulfills a need. Its efforts should be expanded.”

Ironically, like Greenhalgh, Saltman warned early on about the perils of electronic voting. In his 1975 report, Effective Use of Computing Technology in Vote Tallying, he wrote: “Increasing computerization of election-related functions may result in the loss of effective control over these functions by responsible authorities and that this loss of control may increase the possibility of vote fraud.”

Saltman, a computer scientist then working with the National Bureau of Standards, also wrote in his August 1988 report that, “The possibilities that unknown persons may perpetrate undiscoverable frauds” was a problem with electronic voting systems.

Ronnie Dugger, in his seminal 1988 New Yorker article, summarized Saltman’s warnings of election tampering such as “. . .altering the computer program or the control punch cards that manipulate it, planting a time bomb, manually removing an honest counting program and replacing it with a fraudulent one, counting fake ballots, altering the vote recorder that voters use at the polls, or changing either the logic that controls precinct-located vote-counting devices or the voting summaries in these units’ removable data-storage units. The problem in this segment of the computer business, as in the field at large, is not only invisibility but also information as electricity.”

Greenhalgh resigned in 1987 as Director of The Election Center to become the Vice President of Operations for the R.F. Shoup Company located in Philadelphia suburb of Bryn Mawr. Ransom Shoup, the company’s namesake, had been convicted in 1979 for conspiring to defraud the federal government in connection with a bribe attempt to obtain voting machine business, according to the Commercial Appeal of Memphis. With the Shoup Company under investigation in Tennessee and New York, in 1989 Greenhalgh left to become president of Shoup’s election machine competitor, MicroVote.

In September 2000, just prior to the contentious presidential election, Greenhalgh emerged as Vice President of Election Systems & Software, Inc. (ES&S), one of the big Two, along with Diebold, that electronically counted or calculated most of the votes in the U.S.A recurring theme in Greenhalgh’s writing from the 1980s was how to make voting accessible for the handicapped. Essentially, the Help America Vote Act enacted after the Florida 2000 election punch card debacle, was sold as a disability rights issue. The National Federation for the Blind and other groups, backed by the American Civil Liberties Union, lobbied heavily for touchscreen voting machines in order to ensure access for disabled voters before the 2004 election. The National Federation for the Blind was also backed by Diebold, who donated $1,000,000 for a new facility for the NFB.

Carol Garner took over as the Election Center’s second director in1987. She had previously worked in the office of Bill Clements, Governor of Texas. Future George W. Bush advisor Karl Rove had worked for Clements in his 1978 gubernatorial campaign and again served as his key political operative in his successful 1986 re-election campaign.

Carol Garner’s Election Center successor, current long-time Director Doug Lewis, was also an important figure in the Texas Republican party in the late 1970’s. It was a period of historic growth for the party,which Dick Cheney has referred to as a “new era in Texas politics,” and Lewis served as a fundraiser, campaign manager, and the state Republican party Executive Director.

Clements’ predecessor John Connally (seen here at Clements’ inauguration), hired Lewis in 1977 to run his PAC, the John Connally Citizen’s Forum, and later to manage his 1980 presidential bid. All the while Karl Rove was beginning his meteoric rise as the campaign manager for Republicans who would win long-held Democratic seats. Of course, it is Rove’s campaign tactics that “won” George Bush both his presidencies.

The Bush campaigns as covert operations

Take the following quote from the Manchester Union Leader regarding the 1980 Iowa caucus: “The Bush operation has all the smell of a CIA covert operation . . . strange aspects of the Iowa operation [include] a long, slow count and then the computers broke down at a very convenient point, with Bush having a six percent bulge over Reagan.”

In 1984, President Reagan signed National Security Directive Decision NSDD245. A year later, the New York Times explained the details of Reagan’s secret directive: “A branch of the National Security Agency is investigating whether a computer program that counted more than one-third of all the votes cast in the United States in 1984 is vulnerable to fraudulent manipulation.”

It goes on to say: “Mike Levin, a public information official for the agency’s National Computer Security Center, said the investigation was initiated under the authority of a recent presidential directive ordering the center to improve the security of major computer systems used by the nonmilitary agencies . . . .”

The article goes on to note that: “In 1984, the company’s program [Computer Election System of Berkeley, Calif.] and related equipment was used in more than 1,000 county and local jurisdictions to collect and count 34.4 million of the 93.7 million votes cast in the United States.”

Central tabulating computers were used in an attempt to steal the 1986 election for Philippine dictator Ferdinand Marcos, a favorite of the Reagan-Bush administration. This is captured in Hendrick Smith’s book “The Power Game” as well as the video “The Power Game: The Presidency.”

Thus, even prior to the touchscreen computer voting machines, there was a tradition of suspected election rigging with computer software and central tabulators. The actual computer voting machines were introduced on a grand scale in New Hampshire’s 1988 primary. The results were predictable – former CIA director George H. W. Bush won a huge upset over Dole, but the mainstream for-profit corporate media refused to consider election rigging.

Here’s the Washington Post’s account of the bizarre and unexplained election results when touchscreens were first used: In 1988, George H.W. Bush was trailing Dole by eight points in the last Gallup poll before the New Hampshire primary. Bush won by nine points. The Washington Post covered the Bush upset with the following headline: “Voters Were a Step Ahead of Tracking Measurements.”

International intrigue and the IFES

In addition to noting the congruence between the Election Center, FEC and EAC personnel, the Free Press Kudzu chart (pgs. 20-21) also notes the CIA-connected IFES “democracy-building” efforts and its intersection with the so-called Election Center. Under the guise of democratization, these two organizations have been the propaganda arm for electronic voting, notonly in the United States, but throughout the world.

The International Foundation for Election Systems (IFES) promotes itself as “the world’s premiere election assistance organization.” The IFES webpage lists more than one hundred countries that it has worked in from Afghanistan to Yemen.

The IFES, founded in 1987, was forged in the aftermath of the Iran-Contra scandal from funds provided by a CIA-connected organization. Documents show it received $125,000 from the scandal-ridden National Endowment for Democracy (NED) in June 1989 to assist the Nicaraguan political opposition to the Sandinistas. William Blum in Killing Hope, quotes NED co-founder Allen Weinstein saying, “A lot of what we do today was done covertly 25 years ago by the CIA.”

Working under the auspices of the Nicaragua Election Monitoring Project of the New York-based Institute for Media Analysis, Inc. ex-contra leader Edgar Chomorro and former CIA analyst David MacMichael, echoed Weinsten’s analysis: “NED now carries out overtly the majority of the CIA’s formerly covert political activities.”

The IFES’s current website states under “Current Projects” that it is “Building Pakistan’s electoral infrastructure in anticipation of elections in late 2007 or early 2008, IFES is working to strengthen the capacity of the Electoral Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to establish and maintain a credible computerized voter registry. . . .” They will also be offering “technical assistance to the election commission.”

According to McClatchy newspapers, on December 27, 2007, the day she was assassinated, “Benazir Bhutto had planned to reveal new evidence alleging the involvement of Pakistan’s intelligence agencies in riggingthe country’s upcoming elections . . . .” McClatchy reports that,“Bhutto had been due to meet U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., and Rep.Patrick Kennedy, D-R.I., to hand over a report charging that the military Inter-Services Intelligence [ISI] agency was planning to fix the polls in the favor of President Pervez Musharraf.”

“Bhutto was due to meet Specter and Kennedy after dinner last Thursday. She was shot as she left an election rally in Rawalpindi early that evening. Pakistan’s government claims instead that she was thrown against the lever of her car’s sunroof, fracturing her skull,” according to McClatchy.

McClatchy also reported that Bhutto’s report was “report was ‘very sensitive’ and that the party wanted to initially share it with trusted American politicians rather than the Bush administration, which is seen here as strongly backing Musharraf.”

F. Clifton White, an obscure, highly-connected conservative political operative, was a key force in the development of the IFES. The F. Clifton White Applied Research Center for Democracy and Elections (ARC) is central to the IFES. White died in 1993 with a long list of accomplishments. He ran Volunteers for Nixon Lodge in 1960, and created the movement to draft Barry Goldwater for President in 1964. He managed Ronald Reagan’s first campaign for President in 1968 and in 1980, Reagan’s campaign manager Bill Casey and soon-to-be CIA director, “summoned White to his side at their Arlington headquarter as one of the two ‘senior advisors’ (the other was James Baker),” according to the National Review.

“During the 1980’s White divided his time between his home in Greenwich, Connecticut, an office in Washington from which he directed the International Foundation for Electoral Systems, an organization that explains the techniques of democratic politics to nation’s belatedly becoming interested in the subject, and the Ashbrook Center for Public Affairs at Ashland University in Ohio,” wrote the National Review.

White served on the board of the National Republic Institute for International Affairs, a Republican Party conduit for NED funding and was involved in President George H.W. Bush’s efforts to subvert and purchase the 1990 Nicaraguan election.

The big electronic push

But the big push for electronic voting came in the wake of the disastrous 2000 election. Dan Rather’s HD Net investigative report “The Trouble with Touchscreens” suggests that Sequoia Pacific may have been aware of the hanging chad problem in advance. As one Sequoia employee tells Rather, “My own personal opinion was the touch screen voting system wasn’t getting off the ground . . . like they would hope. And because they weren’t having any problems with paper ballots. So, I feel like they – deliberately did all this to have problems with the paper ballots so the electronically voting systems would get off the ground – and which it did in a big way.”

During the 2000 Florida election fiasco, Morton Blackwell described what he saw as the likely tactics of the Democrats: “These people are basically Leninists. They will stop at nothing to win.” In his assessment, “It could get bloody – figuratively and, I fear, literally.”

Leading the charge for touchscreens was Doug Lewis of the Election Center, who was appointed in December 2000 to the National Elections Standards Task Force by the National Association of Secretaries of State. As the Kudzu chart indicates, Lewis testified as an “expert” on every single “election reform” commission or task force post-2000. In 2001, Ohio Secretary of State and key Bush operative in Florida’s 2000 election J. Kenneth Blackwell, was serving on the Federal Election Commission (FEC) advisory panel where he also pushed electronic voting.

This two-decade-long effort by a small group of conservative Republican operatives culminated in the passage of the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) of 2002. HAVA created, among other things, the Election Assistance Commission (EAC) where many members of the Kudzu chart can currently be found. HAVA also required states to use federal funding to replace punchcard and lever voting systems with new systems in accordance with HAVA’s voting system standards. In Ohio, while owning stock in Diebold, Secretary of State Blackwell personally negotiated an unbid contract with Diebold to bring touchscreen voting machines into the Buckeye State.

Just prior to the 2006 election, the highly-accurate Columbus Dispatch poll showed Blackwell losing by 36 points for Governor. Unexplainably, he picked up 12 points a few days later, on Election Day, losing by only 24 points. Throughout Ohio, Democratic candidates lost 10-12 percent of their predicted vote totals. Senator Sherrod Brown, up by 24% in the last Dispatch poll, ending up winning by only 12 points.

Overall, we have only begun to scratch the surface of the on-going scandal of what has been done to the United States and its electoral process through the imposition of electronic voting machines. The voting-industrial complex has foisted its product on America not only for billions of dollars in profits, but also to turn the political tide of this nation to the Bush family and its minions.

In future articles, we will further explore the spread and impact ofthis phenomenon, and its impact on the decline of our body politic.

Sheri Myers is author of Cheated! and a researcher on the history and politics of electronic voting machines. Bob Fitrakis is publisher and Harvey Wasserman is senior editor of https://Freepress.org, where their How the GOP Stole the 2004 Election & Is Rigging 2008 is available in the Online Store.

Diebold, Electronic Voting And The Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy

Bob Fitrakis
February 24, 2004

The Governor of Ohio, Bob Taft, and other prominent state officials, commute to their downtown Columbus offices on Broad Street. This is the so-called “Golden Finger,” the safe route through the majority black inner-city near east side. The Broad Street BP station, just east of downtown, is the place where affluent suburbanites from Bexley can stop, gas up, get their coffee and New York Times. Those in need of cash visit BP’s Diebold manufactured CashSource+ ATM machine which provides a paper receipt of the transaction to all customers upon request.

Many of Taft’s and President George W. Bush’s major donors, like Diebold’s current CEO Walden “Wally” O’Dell, reside in Columbus’ northwest suburb Upper Arlington. O’Dell is on record stating that he is “committed to helping Ohio deliver its electoral votes to the President” this year. On September 26, 2003, he hosted an Ohio Republican Party fundraiser for Bush’s re-election at his Cotswold Manor mansion. Tickets to the fundraiser cost $1000 per couple, but O’Dell’s fundraising letter urged those attending to “Donate or raise $10,000 for the Ohio Republican Party.”

According to the Columbus Dispatch: “Last year, O’Dell and his wife Patricia, campaigned for passage of two liquor options that made their portion of Tremont Road wet.

On November 5, Upper Arlington residents narrowly passed measures that allowed fundraising parties to offer more than beer, even though his 10,800-square-foot home is a residence, a permit is required because alcohol is included in the price of fundraising tickets. O’Dell is also allowed to serve “beer, wine and mixed drinks” at Sunday fundraisers.

O’Dell’s fund-raising letter followed on the heels of a visit to President Bush’s Crawford Texas ranch by “Pioneers and Rangers,” the designation for people who had raised $100,000 or more for Bush’s re-election.

If Ohio’s Republican Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell has his way, Diebold will receive a contract to supply touch screen electronic voting machines for much of the state. None of these Diebold machines will provide a paper receipt of the vote.

Diebold, located in North Canton, Ohio, does its primary business in ATM and ticket-vending machines. Critics of Diebold point out that virtually every other machine the company makes provides a paper trail to verify the machine’s calculations. Oddly, only the voting machines lack this essential function.

State Senator Teresa Fedor of Toledo introduced Senate Bill 167 late last year mandating that every voting machine in Ohio generate a “voter verified paper audit trail.” Secretary of State Blackwell has denounced any attempt to require a paper trail as an effort to “derail” election reform. Blackwell’s political career is an interesting one: he emerged as a black activist in Cincinnati supporting municipal charter reform, became an elected Democrat, then an Independent, and now is a prominent Republican with his eyes on the Governor’s mansion.

Voter fraud

A joint study by the California and Massachusetts Institutes of Technology following the 2000 election determined that between 1.5 and 2 million votes were not counted due to confusing paper ballots or faulty equipment. The federal government’s solution to the problem was to pass the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) of 2002.

One of the law’s stated goals was “Replacement of punch card and lever voting machines.” The new voting machines would be high-tech touch screen computers, but if there’s no paper trail, how do you know if there’s been a computer glitch? How can the results be trusted? And how do you recount to see if the actual votes match the computer’s tally?

Bev Harris, author of Black Box Voting: Ballot Tampering in the 21st Century, argues that without a paper trail, these machines are open to massive voter fraud. Diebold has already placed some 50,000 machines in 37 states and their track record is causing Harris, Johns Hopkins University professors and others great concern.

Johns Hopkins researchers at the Information Security Institute issued a report declaring that Diebold’s electronic voting software contained “stunning flaws.” The researchers concluded that vote totals could be altered at the voting machines and by remote access. Diebold vigorously refuted the Johns Hopkins report, claiming the researchers came to “a multitude of false conclusions.”

Perhaps to settle the issue, apparently an insider leaked documents from the Diebold Election Systems website and posted internal documents from the company to Harris’ website. Diebold went to court to stop, according to court records, the “wholesale reproduction” of some 13,000 pages of company material.

The Associated Press reported in November 2003 that: “Computer programmers, ISPs and students at [at] least 20 universities, including the University of California, Berkeley, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology received cease and desist letters” from Diebold. A group of Swarthmore College students launched an “electronic civil disobedience” campaign to keep the hacked documents permanently posted on the Internet.

Harris writes that the documents expose how the mainstream media reversed their call projecting Al Gore as winner of Florida after someone “subtracted 16,022 votes from Al Gore, and in still some undefined way, added 4000 erroneous votes to George W. Bush.” Hours later, the votes were returned. One memo from Lana Hires of Global Election Systems, now Diebold, reads: “I need some answers! Our department is being audited by the County. I have been waiting for someone to give me an explanation as to why Precinct 216 gave Al Gore a minus 16,022 [votes] when it was uploaded.” Another hacked internal memo, written by Talbot Iredale, Senior VP of Research and Development for Diebold Election Systems, documents “unauthorized” replacement votes in Volusia County.

Harris also uncovered a revealing 87-page CBS news report and noted, “According to CBS documents, the erroneous 20,000 votes in Volusia was directly responsible to calling the election for Bush.” The first person to call the election for Bush was Fox election analyst John Ellis, who had the advantage of conferring with his prominent cousins George W. Bush and Florida Governor Jeb Bush.

Incestuous relationships

Increasingly, investigative writers seeking an explanation have looked to Diebold’s history for clues. The electronic voting industry is dominated by only a few corporations – Diebold, Election Systems & Software (ES&S) and Sequoia. Diebold and ES&S combined count an estimated 80% of U.S. black box electronic votes.

In the early 1980s, brothers Bob and Todd Urosevich founded ES&S’s originator, Data Mark. The brothers Urosevich obtained financing from the far-Right Ahmanson family in 1984, which purchased a 68% ownership stake, according to the Omaha World Herald. After brothers William and Robert Ahmanson infused Data Mark with new capital, the name was changed to American Information Systems (AIS). California newspapers have long documented the Ahmanson family’s ties to right-wing evangelical Christian and Republican circles.

In 2001, the Los Angeles Times reported, “. . . primarily funded by evangelical Christians – particularly the wealthy Ahmanson family of Irvine – the [Discovery] institute’s $1-million annual program has produced 25 books, a stream of conferences and more than 100 fellowships for doctoral and postdoctoral research.” The chief philanthropists of the Discovery Institute, that pushes creationist science and education in California, are Howard and Roberta Ahmanson.

According to Group Watch, in the 1980s Howard F. Ahmanson, Jr. was a member of the highly secretive far-Right Council for National Policy, an organization that included Lieutenant Colonel Oliver North, Major General John K. Singlaub and other Iran-Contra scandal notables, as well as former Klan members like Richard Shoff. Ahmanson, heir to a savings and loan fortune, is little reported on in the mainstream U.S. press. But, English papers like The Independent are a bit more forthcoming on Ahmanson’s politics.

“On the right, figures such as Richard Mellon Scaife and Howard Ahmanson have given hundreds of millions of dollars over several decades to political projects both high (setting up the Heritage Foundation think-tank, the driving engine of the Reagan presidency) and low (bankrolling investigations into President Clinton’s sexual indiscretions and the suicide of the White House insider Vincent Foster),” wrote The Independent last November.

The Sunday Mail described an individual as, “. . . a fundamentalist Christian more in the mould of U.S. multi-millionaire Howard Ahmanson, Jr., who uses his fortune to promote so-called traditional family values . . . by waving fortunes under their noses, Ahmanson has the ability to cajole candidates into backing his right-wing Christian agenda.

Ahmanson is also a chief contributor to the Chalcedon Institute that supports the Christian reconstruction movement. The movement’s philosophy advocates, among other things, “mandating the death penalty for homosexuals and drunkards.”

The Ahmanson family sold their shares in American Information Systems to the McCarthy Group and the World Herald Company, Inc. Republican Senator Chuck Hagel disclosed in public documents that he was the Chairman of American Information Systems and claimed between a $1 to 5 million investment in the McCarthy Group. In 1997, American Information Systems purchased Business Records Corp. (BRC), formerly Texas-based election company Cronus Industries, to become ES&S. One of the BRC owners was Carolyn Hunt of the right-wing Hunt oil family, which supplied much of the original money for the Council on National Policy.

In 1996, Hagel became the first elected Republican Nebraska senator in 24 years when he did surprisingly well in an election where the votes were verified by the company he served as chairman and maintained a financial investment. In both the 1996 and 2002 elections, Hagel’s ES&S counted an estimated 80% of his winning votes. Due to the contracting out of services, confidentiality agreements between the State of Nebraska and the company kept this matter out of the public eye. Hagel’s first election victory was described as a “stunning upset” by one Nebraska newspaper.

Hagel’s official biography states, “Prior to his election to the U.S. Senate, Hagel worked in the private sector as the President of McCarthy and Company, an investment banking firm based in Omaha, Nebraska and served as Chairman of the Board of American Information Systems.” During the first Bush presidency, Hagel served as Deputy Director and Chief Operating Officer of the 1990 Economic Summit of Industrialized Nations (G-7 Summit).

Bob Urosevich was the Programmer and CEO at AIS, before being replaced by Hagel. Bob now heads Diebold Election Systems and his brother Todd is a top executive at ES&S. Bob created Diebold’s original electronic voting machine software. Thus, the brothers Urosevich, originally funded by the far Right, figure in the counting of approximately 80% of electronic voting in the United States.

Like Ohio, the State of Maryland was disturbed by the potential for massive electronic voter fraud. The voters of that state were reassured when the state hired SAIC to monitor Diebold’s system. SAIC’s former CEO is Admiral Bill Owens. Owens served as a military aide to both Vice President Dick Cheney and former Defense Secretary Frank Carlucci, who now works with George H.W. Bush at the controversial Carlyle Group. Robert Gates, former CIA Director and close friend of the Bush family, also served on the SAIC Board.

Diebold’s track record

Wherever Diebold and ES&S go, irregularities and historic Republican upsets follow. Alastair Thompson, writing for scoop.co of New Zealand, explored whether or not the 2002 U.S. mid-term elections were “fixed by electronic voting machines supplied by Republican-affiliated companies.” The scoop investigation concluded that: “The state where the biggest upset occurred, Georgia, is also the state that ran its election with the most electronic voting machines.” Those machines were supplied by Diebold.

Wired News reported that “. . . a former worker in Diebold’s Georgia warehouse says the company installed patches on its machine before the state’s 2002 gubernatorial election that were never certified by independent testing authorities or cleared with Georgia election officials.” Questions were raised in Texas when three Republican candidates in Comal County each received exactly the same number of votes – 18,181 – on ES&S machines.

Following the 2003 California election, an audit of the company revealed that Diebold Election Systems voting machines installed uncertified software in all 17 counties using its equipment.

Former CIA Station Chief John Stockwell writes that one of the favorite tactics of the CIA during the Reagan-Bush administration in the 1980s was to control countries by manipulating the election process. “CIA apologists leap up and say, ‘Well, most of these things are not so bloody.’ And that’s true. You’re giving politicians some money so he’ll throw his party in this direction or that one, or make false speeches on your behalf, or something like that. It may be non-violent, but it’s still illegal intervention in other country’s affairs, raising the question of whether or not we’re going to have a world in which laws, rules of behavior are respected,” Stockwell wrote. Documents illustrate that the Reagan and Bush administration supported computer manipulation in both Noriega’s rise to power in Panama and in Marcos’ attempt to retain power in the Philippines. Many of the Reagan administration’s staunchest supporters were members of the Council on National Policy.

The perfect solution

Ohio Senator Fedor continues to fight valiantly for Senate Bill 167 and the Holy Grail of the “voter verified paper audit trail.” Proponents of a paper trail were emboldened when Athan Gibbs, President and CEO of TruVote International, demonstrated a voting machine at a vendor’s fair in Columbus that provides two separate voting receipts.

The first paper receipt displays the voter’s touch screen selection under plexiglass that falls into a lockbox after the voter approves. Also, the TruVote system provides the voter with a receipt that includes a unique voter ID and pin number which can be used to call in to a voter audit internet connection to make sure the vote cast was actually counted.

Brooks Thomas, Coordinator of Elections in Tennessee, stated, “I’ve not seen anything that compares to the Gibbs’ TruVote validation system. . . .” The Assistant Secretary of State of Georgia, Terrel L. Slayton, Jr., claimed Gibbs had come up with the “perfect solution.”

Still, there remains opposition from Ohio Secretary of State Blackwell. His spokesperson Carlo LoParo recently pointed out that federal mandates under HAVA do not require a paper trail: “. . . if Congress changes the federal law to require it [a paper trail], we’ll certainly make that a requirement of our efforts.” LoParo went on to accuse advocates of a paper trail of attempting to “derail” voting reform.

U.S. Representative Rush Holt introduced HR 2239, The Voter Confidence and Increased Accessibility Act of 2003, that would require electronic voting machines to produce a paper trail so that voters may verify that their screen touches match their actual vote. Election officials would also have a paper trail for recounts.

As Blackwell pressures the Ohio legislature to adopt electronic voting machines without a paper trail, Athan Gibbs wonders, “Why would you buy a voting machine from a company like Diebold which provides a paper trail for every single machine it makes except its voting machines? And then, when you ask it to verify its numbers, it hides behind ‘trade secrets.’”

Maybe the Diebold decision makes sense, if you believe, to paraphrase Henry Kissinger, that democracy is too important to leave up to the votes of the people.

Dr. Bob Fitrakis is Senior Editor of The Free Press (https://freepress.org), a political science professor, and author of numerous articles and books.

Can The Grassroots Internet-Based Election Protection Movement Win The White House?

by Bob Fitrakis & Harvey Wasserman
November 3, 2008

Barack Obama is heading to Election Day with a razor thin 6 point lead in the popular polls in Ohio, according to the usually reliable Columbus Dispatch poll. This means that the Buckeye state could again decide who enters the White House in January, despite the fact that nationwide Obama’s lead has been registered as high as 11-12 percent.

In a country with truly fair elections, a reliable vote count, and no electoral college, such a lead should be commanding.

But in the America of 2008, it will be enough only if tens of thousands of grassroots election protection activists, rallied primarily through the independent internet, can protect voter registrations, guarantee the ability to vote at the polling stations, and somehow procure an accurate, un-tampered with vote count.

In short, it will depend on YOU and your willingness to protect American democracy. It will not be the punditocracy or the campaign managers who decide Tuesday’s outcome—it will be the get-out-the-vote activists, the poll workers, the monitors and observers, the election protection attorneys, the video-the-voters, and the vote count investigators. Will you be among them?

The story of the stolen elections of 2000 and 2004 is now all too familiar. Three stolen Senatorial races in 2002 gave George W. Bush pivotal clout to wage a catastrophic war and destroy the American economy. In 2006 Democrats made substantial gains in Congress, but were denied numerous additional seats in races where they failed miserably to protect the franchise. Voters in Ohio elected a new governor and secretary of state, but only by overcoming the loss of 12% of the vote predicted by pre-election polls. The votes were stolen by disenfranchisement and electronic “irregularities” or “glitches.”

Throughout the decade the election protection movement has been sustained by the internet. Both the Democratic Party and the corporate media have avoided the question of stolen elections like the plague. Last month the “left” media again attacked grassroots election protection as Andrew Gumbel wrote contemptuously in The Nation Magazine of “underqualified” internet reporters who “breathlessly” document the Bush/Rove larceny.

That means YOU.

Now the Democrats are e-mailing appeals for election protection monitors. Through a message from Florida Congresswomen Deborah Wasserman-Schulz (no relation), the Democrats are raising money for a vaguely defined “protect the vote” effort, ignoring the fact that John Kerry raised $7 million for such an effort in 2004, then walked away from the election. A Democrat video refers to the nightmare of Florida 2000 and “stories” heard about Ohio 2004. James Carville, who loudly threw in the towel from his televised bloviator perch in 2004 while 250,000 votes were still uncounted in Ohio, has also jumped on the election protection bandwagon.

Maybe this year the Democrats will actually do something about protecting the vote. Maybe, if they carry the White House, they will actually correct some of the abuses that put George W. Bush in power, as some have begun to do in Ohio and elsewhere. After all, election irregularities will not only affect Obama, they’ve already affected Oprah.

But ultimately there is only one way Tuesday’s vote will be protected—-if thousands of committed, independent public citizens show up at the polls with your cameras, your note pads, your cell phones and your lawyers, bound and determined to protect this election.

If you’re electronic vote on a computerized voting machine starts hopping from your candidate to another, or just fades away and pollworkers do nothing—we’re asking voters to dial 911 and make an emergency report on felony election tampering. Demand that the malfunctioning machine be immediately quarantined as a crime scene.

If Obama wins, the doubters and deceivers will cry “no wolf” in reverse, and dismiss the efforts of those who have written, organized and shown up at the polls to protect the vote. “He would have won anyway,” they’ll say.

But we will know otherwise. Only if YOU turn up Tuesday will the networks be discussing a McCain/Palin defeat on Wednesday.

If we see you at the polls on Tuesday, we can all share in an internet-based victory party on Wednesday.

Then we can spend the rest of the century working to guarantee that nothing like the Bush nightmare can ever happen again.

Bob Fitrakis & Harvey Wasserman have co-authored four books on election protection, including HOW THE GOP STOLE AMERICA’S 2004 ELECTION & IS RIGGING 2008, and AS GOES OHIO, available at www.freepress.org, where this first appeared.

Beware The Twin Towers Of Electronic Election Theft

by Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman
October 30, 2008

Obama supporters are exuding a potentially fatal air of confidence and expectation. Intoxicated by favorable polls and a gusher of campaign spending, many are, in John McCain’s phrase, “measuring the drapes in the White House.”

It is a classic error, made lethal by the Democratic Party’s on-going unwillingness to face the realities of electronic election theft.

In fact, the twin towers of pre-election disenfranchisement and rigged electronic vote counts make an Obama victory at best an even call, no matter how far ahead he may seem in the polls.

As reported by Bradblog, Greg Palast, Robert F. Kennedy, Mark C. Miller and others, the Republicans are waging all-out war to purge hundreds of thousands of Democrats from the voter rolls. The now-familiar attacks on ACORN are a smokescreen to cover highly effective state-by-state assaults on computerized registration lists. These lists are often privatized and run by Republican-connected companies like Triad in Ohio.

As Palast reported eight years ago, such tactics effectively removed tens of thousands of "ex-felons" (many of whom were no such thing) from Florida voter rolls in an election decided for George W. Bush by a fraudulent official margin of less than 600 votes.

Since 2005, at least another 170,000 voters have been removed from the rolls in Franklin County (Columbus), 94,000 in Hamilton County (Cincinnati) and 58,000 in Montgomery County (Dayton) according to public records obtained by the Free Press.

Also, Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner effectively halted the purging of 600,000 additional existing voters by directing that all purged voters be given notification and a hearing. The Republican Party has sued repeatedly to remove another 200,000 new voters that have been registered since January 1, 2008.

An estimated 75-80% of these new registrations are thought to be Obama supporters. The Republican challenge in Ohio is based on so-called "mismatches" in a database. For example, a mismatch could merely be the lack of a middle initial for a voter’s name on their voter registration when matched with records from the Social Security administration, Bureau of Motor Vehicles, Ohio Secretary of State or lists maintained by private vendors for the counties.

As reported at Freepress.org, the GOP disenfranchised at least 308,000 Ohio voters (of 5.4 million) prior to a 2004 election decided by a fraudulent official margin of less than 119,000. At least another 170,000 have since been removed.

Now the Republicans are using a compendium of tactics to do the same in other key states, much of which is being reported at Bradblog.org and elsewhere.

Though they are meeting grassroots resistance in many cases, the combination of secret computerized manipulations and outright intimidation is certain to cost the Democrats hundreds of thousands of votes in the swing states that will decide the election. As in 2000 and 2004, with scant exception the Democrats are doing little or nothing to stop the slaughter.

Likewise electronic voting machines. As amply demonstrated in studies at Princeton University, the Government Accountability Office, the Carter-Baker Commission, the Brennan Center, by Bev Harris at Black Box Voting, and elsewhere, electronic voting machines are perfectly designed to foster election theft.

Steve Spoonamore, one of the world’s leading experts on computer data fraud and expert witness in the King-Lincoln-Bronzeville vs. Blackwell case against the state of Ohio, has provided an affidavit declaring the Ohio electronic voting system vulnerable to tampering. This aligns with the results of the Everest study commissioned by Secretary of State Brunner that found Ohio’s voting machines easily hackable and the electronic pollbooks even more vulnerable, lacking any real security protocols.

As in Youngstown and Columbus in 2004, we are already witnessing across the nation widespread touchscreen "anomalies" in which voters press Obama’s name and other candidates light up. CNN has been forced to report on the vote flipping phenomenon. Election officials have rushed to explain it away with such bizarre reasons such as the use of hand lotion, latent fingerprint shadows on the touchscreen, and ignorant voters. Recently, Greene County, Ohio pollworkers told the Free Press that election officials have simply instructed them to wipe down the screens at 11am an 4pm if the votes are hopping.

Vote shifting has also surfaced where citizens attempt to select a straight party ticket. Even during less pressured advance balloting, machines are breaking down, causing delays and opening wide the door to theft and fraud. The magic word "recalibration" has come to mean mid-stream re-rigging of electronic machines, and is being strategically conjured in voting booths throughout the nation.

The antidote is clear: paper ballots must be made universal. In Ohio, Democratic Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner has attempted to make this happen, but has been beaten back by Republicans. Maryland and Virginia have announced they will return to paper ballots, but AFTER this year’s election. In Pennsylvania, a Democratic Secretary of State has, incredibly, RESISTED making paper ballots universally available in a state now dominated by electronic machines without paper trails. It should be no surprise that the McCain campaign is now insisting that Pennsylvania is still "in play" despite a double-digit lead in the polls by his opponent, Senator Barack Obama.

On last Sunday’s (Oct. 26) Meet the Press program, NBC news political reporter Kelly O’Donnell’s comments provided the narrative for another potential election larceny in 2008. She commented on the McCain campaign and Republicans: "…they are looking at Pennsylvania. They see Pennsylvania differently than the pollsters and the Democrats, and they are really looking in places where Hillary Clinton was strong, believing they can make up some ground there."

Like Ohio in 2004, where Karl Rove and his Republican operatives spun a tail of a last minute voter surge from right-wing evangelical Christians including homophobic old order Amish in horse and buggies, the Pennsylvania narrative is already obvious. It includes the following elements: Hillary Clinton beat up on Obama in Pennsylvania, the Bradley effect of closet racist Democratic voters, and Obama’s comments about "bitter" people clinging to their guns and religion. All of these will be used to explain away Obama’s double-digit lead when, in the wee hours of the morning the Republican cybervote comes in.

It was between midnight and 2am during the 2004 election that the Ohio majority for John Kerry electronically became a winning margin for George W. Bush. The "miraculous" shift occurred after Ohio’s official vote count was outsourced to private company SmartTech’s servers in Chattanooga, Tennessee. The servers housed a virtual who’s who of Republican and anti-Kerry websites.

The Free Press has also learned that SmartTech technicians took over control at then-Ohio Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell’s office at approximately 9 p.m. on Election Day 2004.

Throughout the nation, the Democratic Party has been a no-show in the fight to rid the process of the machines that did so much to give George W. Bush his two illegitimate terms of office. The Democrats have refused repeated entreaties from the grassroots election protection movement to take meaningful action. Given the abject surrender of Al Gore in 2000 and John Kerry in 2004, this is not a good sign.

Nor is the syndrome limited to the Democrats. The arrogance of denial was recently trumpeted by the Nation Magazine’s Andrew Gumbel. His contempt for "underqualified" internet researchers who have "breathlessly" reported the GOP thefts of 2000 and 2004 reflects a widespread inability to grasp the enormity of what has been done to the American electoral process. Gumbel has refused to debate or appear on radio programs with co-author Bob Fitrakis, who holds a Ph.D. in political science and a J.D.

The grassroots election protection movement has made enormous strides in forcing this issue into the mainstream. But because of the GOP-sponsored Help America Vote Act, more Americans will vote this year on electronic machines than ever before.

That, and the stripping of the voter rolls, could make fleeting any apparent polling advantage Barack Obama may carry to November 4. He may yet win. But those who would see him enter the White House in January had best spend these last few days totally focused on the protection of voter registrations, on making paper ballots available wherever possible, and on finding ways to crack the secret fortress of electronic vote counting. In our next article, we will provide extensive documentation on GOP stripping of registration rolls.

Without neutralizing these twin towers of electronic disenfrancisement and vote theft, a McCain-Palin victory on November 4 is all but inevitable, no matter what the polls now seem to say.

Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman are co-authors of four books on election protection, including HOW THE GOP STOLE AMERICA’S 2004 ELECTION & IS RIGGING 2008 and AS GOES OHIO: ELECTION THEFT SINCE 2004, both available at https://freepress.org, where this article first appeared.