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, 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 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, where this article first appeared.