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, where this article first appeared. Their radio shows are broadcast at WVKO-AM 1580, Air America in Columbus, Ohio.

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, 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 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: 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, where their How the GOP Stole the 2004 Election & Is Rigging 2008 is available in the Online Store.

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 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 (, a political science professor, and author of numerous articles and books.

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, where this first appeared.