Elections

"We have a presidential election coming up. I think anyone running for that job --anyone who wants the power to make every key economic appointment and nomination across the federal government-- should say loud and clear that they agree: we don’t run this country for Wall Street and mega corporations. We run it for people."
                                                                                                         --Elizabeth Warren

"Corporate America is very close to running this country. The only thing that is stopping them from taking total control are the pesky voters. That's why there's such a drive to control the vote. What we're seeing is the corporatization of the last shred of democracy."
                                                                                                             --Roxanne Jekot
 

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Bernie Sanders Victory Speech, New Hampshire Primary 020916

Sanders Calls Iraq Worst Foreign Policy Blunder in U.S. History as Clinton Backs Militaristic Views 101415

Bernie Sanders Speaks With Katie Couric - Full Interview 060215

 

"What this campaign is about is not just electing a president, it is transforming America."
                                                                                                                    --Bernie Sanders in Iowa

K P F A

People for Bernie
Sanders

Women for Bernie
Sanders

Elizabeth Warren FB

 

 

 

Videos, audios, etc.

Linda Sarsour: Sanders' Michigan Win "Sent Loud & Clear Message" Not to Discount Arab-American Vote 031116

"Old-Fashioned Redbaiting": Hillary Clinton Bashes Sanders as GOP Candidates Clash on Cuba 031116

Before Her Assassination, Berta Cáceres Singled Out Hillary Clinton for Backing Honduran Coup 031116

Bernie Sanders Victory Speech, New Hampshire Primary 020916

Elizabeth Warren vs. Hillary Clinton (2004) Must see! 5 min.
Elizabeth Warren - Hillary Clinton and Bankruptcy Law - 2004

Bernie Sanders Says Iowa is Beginning of a "Political Revolution" 020216

Adele Stan, weekly columnist at the American Prospect - Debrief
on the Iowa Caucuses; Norman Solomon on The Bernie Campaign; Rick Shenkman on Poliltical Animals
020216

Clinton Laughs Off Question on Goldman Sachs, But Can Millions in Special Interest Cash Be Ignored? 020216

Brian Beutler of the New Republic - Is Bernie Sanders a worthwhile gamble?;  Mike Lofgren, author of The Deep State: The Fall of the Constitution and the Rise of a Shadow Government 020116

Laura Belin, author of Bleeding Heartland and Steve Phillips, author of Brown is the New White - 2016 Iowa Caucuses 020116

Hillary Clinton lying for 13 minutes straight 012916

David Redlawsk, professor of Political Science at Rutgers University and author of Why Iowa? How Caucuses and Sequential Elections Improve the Presidential Nominating Process 012816

Clinton vs. Sanders, Who Do Progressives Choose? As Race Heats Up, 2 Socialist Feminists Debate 011916

"He Has Summoned a Political Revolution": The Nation Magazine Endorses Bernie Sanders for President 011516

Rick Shenkman discusses "Political Animals" - How Our Stone-Age Brain Gets in the Way of Smart Politics 011316

 

Articles

What Bernie Must Do
David Glick 031016

The Bernie Campaign: The Democratic Party’s Biggest Insurrection in Decades Norman Soloman 020116

Is Nominating Bernie Sanders a Worthwhile Gamble? Brian Beutler 012516

Why This Socialist Feminist Is Not Voting for Hillary
Liza Featherstone 010516

Why This Socialist Feminist Is For Hillary Suzanna Walters
010516

 

WHAT BERNIE MUST DO

David Glick
March 10, 2016

Bernie Sanders’ upset victory in the Michigan primary demonstrates that his message of popular revolution has broad appeal across the nation. Bernie is the real deal, a genuine progressive populist who is running an inspiring and heroic campaign, but he needs to up his game if he is to capture more of the black vote that he desperately needs and truly deserves. As a self-proclaimed democratic socialist, Bernie has done more than any candidate running for the presidency to highlight how the root causes of economic inequality, a rigged electoral system, and the political domination of the billionaire ruling class is hollowing out our democracy and impacting all the major issues with which this country is grappling—poverty, the decline of the middle class, the impact of job loss on working families, our crumbling infrastructure, environmental degradation and climate change, our broken and grossly inadequate health care system, and issues of war and peace.


Bernie understands that both whites and people of color suffer grievously from economic inequality, but he needs to emphasize that because of the long and bitter history of racism toward black people in this country, blacks and white do not suffer from economic inequality equally. A rising tide is said to lift all boats, but not necessarily in the same way. Bernie needs to do a better job of addressing the distinct and numerous ways in which the issue of economic inequality falls more heavily on the backs of black people and other people of color.

We all know that when it comes to jobs, blacks are often the last hired and the first fired. We know that if Flint, Michigan were a predominantly white city, no white children would be drinking toxic water from the polluted Flint Fiver. We all know about racial disparities in sentencing and that it is primarily unarmed black and Latino men who are being killed by police in the streets of our cities. We know that it is in predominantly black communities that the schools are underfunded and rundown and the children share the overcrowded classrooms with rodents and mold. And we know that redlining was a deliberate policy directed against black people that prevented them from getting a mortgage and acquiring their own home and building wealth. This is racism pure and simple and the examples are legion. Bernie must talk to this issue more directly and explain how he intends to deal with it if elected president.

If we are honest with ourselves, we know that the initial wealth of this country was built on the backs of black slaves and that the racism of the Jim Crow era is not something from the distant past. The painful effects of this dreadful period of our nation’s history linger to this day and cast a dark shadow over the land. We can see this in the dangerous rise of Donald Trump with his strong man bullying and racist and xenophobic rhetoric. Bernie will win the confidence and support of more Black voters if he can show he understands and can relate to the black experience.


There is a long running debate on the political left about the relationship between race and class. Bernie must articulate that he understands that issues of race and class are intricately intertwined and that because of the unique set of historical circumstances in this country, raced is often the medium through which the struggle of class relations are experienced, fought, and lived.
Dr Martin Luther King said that the three great evils of this country are poverty, racism, and militarism. Bernie knows this truth deep in his bones and I believe he has the experience, passion, and commitment to carry forward the legacy of King’s struggle to bring the country together and make this a more decent, just, and caring place for us all to live.

David Glick is a psychotherapist, poet, and political activist living in Fairfax, CA.
His writing has appeared in the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, the blog site
of Tikkun Magazine, and the websites of the Lysistrata Project and Mondoweiss.

 

 

 

 

Elizabeth Warren Just Issued a Major Challenge to All Presidential Contenders 071715

If Elizabeth Warren Were Running for President, This Would Be Her Agenda 041615

 

"We can provide healthcare to every man, woman and child as a right. We can make certain that every person in this country can get all of the education he or she needs, regardless of the income. We can create millions of decent-paying jobs. We can have the best child care system in the world. In the last 30 years, there has been a huge redistribution of wealth from the middle class and working families to the top one-tenth of 1 percent. Our job is to reverse that, redistribute wealth back into the hands of working families."
  
                                                                                                                              --Bernie Sanders

 

Common Dreams

Presidents USA

Barbara Lee

Tim Redmond - 48 Hills

Dept of Elections

SF League of Pissed-
Off Voters

 

 

Videos, audios, etc.

Bernie Sanders on Challenging Wall Street: "CEOs May Like Hillary -- They Ain't Going to Like Me" 122115

FULL Speech Part 1: Bernie Sanders Gives Speech At Huge Jefferson Jackson Dinner In IOWA 10/24/15

Real Time with Bill Maher: Interview with Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) - October 16, 2015 (HBO)

Bernie Sanders Meet The Press FULL Interview. Unlike Hillary Clinton, I’ve Stayed Consistent 101115

Dave Johnson, Senior Fellow at the Campaign for America’s Future - The Election Circus Moves into High Gear 082315 (2nd hour)

Hillary Gets Berned 071615

A Socialist Surge in the U.S.? Bernie Sanders Draws Record Crowds, Praises Greek Anti-Austerity Vote 070715

VIDEO: Bernie Sanders Draws His Biggest Crowd Yet
In Progressive Stronghold
070215

Bernie Sanders Rally in Madison, Wisconsin 070115

Bernie Sanders – TPP: A Raw Deal for America 062515
Why President Obama Really Wants TPP 051915
Obama and Elizabeth Warren Trade Blows on TPP 042215

Bernie Sanders - Progress 062515

A Conversation with Bernie Sanders 06-25-2015

Sanders Smacks Down CNN Host For Demanding Food Fight
Between Him And Clinton

In 180 Seconds You Will Be Voting For Bernie Sanders 052015

Ralph Nader on Bernie Sanders, the TPP "Corporate Coup d’État" & Writing to the White House - Part 2 - 050115

Rosa Clemente, Adele Stan, John Nichols - Hillary Clinton’s Candidacy 041315

Debate: Hillary Clinton Sounds Populist Tone, But Are Progressives Ready to Back Her in 2016? 041315 - begins @ 12:15

Ruth McConniff, Editor of Progressive Magazine - Presidential Candidates for 2016 041215

 

Articles

Bernie Sanders Is Actually Quite Serious About This ‘Political Revolution’ Thing 102615

I really am still undecided between Bernie and Hillary 081615

Elizabeth Warren Just Issued a Major Challenge to All Presidential Contenders 071715

Clinton says she opposes boycott effort against Israel 070615

Bernie Sanders: “Dual citizenship” fracas, back-grounder, and astro chart 061215

‘Don’t Underestimate Me’: Bernie Sanders Knows a Thing or Two about Winning 052615

Hillary Clinton Embraces a ‘Super PAC,’ Trying to Erode a Republican Edge 050615

If Elizabeth Warren Were Running for President, This Would Be Her Agenda 041615

The First Great Debate: Amy Goodman Opens The Window
- In which we see rehearsed how Rand Paul can become president and other wonders
041515

 

"There's no doubt... Brother Bernie Sanders talkin' about Wall Street domination, trying to get investment in working people and poor people, is the best candidate."
                                                                                                                    --Cornell West

 

 

 

Sorry, but she’s not running. (Elizabeth Warren, that is.) 041215

Elizabeth Warren blog - Wall Street isn’t happy with us 032715

 

 

"She [Hillary] is now trying to use a veneer of a populist image. But look, this is a person who has hired 200 advisers to tell her how she can look populist without angering her wealthy donors. And ultimately the question is absolutely about her record as a warmongering secretary of state who used her position to emphasize the drone attacks, to be a vocal proponent of the 2003 invasion of Iraq, and to use her position to promote the interests of multinational corporations at the expense of the interests of working people. And ultimately, you know, this candidate, if she is backed by the Democratic Party establishment apparatus, is going to be the Wall Street candidate."
  
                                                                      --Kshama Sawant, Socialist Councilmember from Seattle

 

 

 

 

"This is our country, and it's time we took it back from the billionaire class.
Today, we come together to say, 'Enough is enough.'"
-- Bernie Sanders

 

"Hillary Clinton was in favor of a very belligerent attitude in Syria, which has led to the unleashing of ISIS. She's the one that said, "Oh, Assad is just the worst thing going," just like they said Saddam Hussein, just like they said Gaddafi. So you look at Libya now, you look at Iraq, you look at Syria, a terrible mess. And yet Hillary Clinton seems to have no compunction that their foundation that her daughter --you know, she says, 'I want for every child what my granddaughter has.' Well, your granddaughter has a father who works for Goldman Sachs and a daughter who now works for a foundation that gets an enormous amount of money from Saudi Arabia and other people who have actually been the backers of ISIS. What do you stand for? Where are you going to get your $2.5 billion to be president, if not kissing up to Wall Street, which you've been doing as senator? I mean, what are we talking about here? This is a person who can talk a good game, but is totally disingenuous and betraying the very people she seems to care about...."
  
                                                                                                                                    --Robert Scheer

 

 

 

2014 Election Results

Pissed-Off Voter Guide,
November 2014

 

Videos, audios, etc.

Bill Fletcher - Democrat's losing strategies 1st hour
Victor Menotti, Director of Intl Forum on Globaliztion, and John Nichols, author of Dollarocracy - The election that was, the money spent and what do we do now 2nd hour 110914

Thomas Frank - What's the Matter with the Democrats? 110614

Sen. Bernie Sanders: The United States is on the Verge of Becoming an Oligarchy 110514

Election Night 2014 Coverage with Democracy Now! 110414

John A. Powell (author of Racing to Justice: Transforming Our Conceptions of Self and Other to Build an Inclusive Society) on The Southern strategy of the 1960s and how race is still being used today in elections 110314

Jim Crow Returns: Interstate "Crosscheck" Program Could Strip Millions of the Right to Vote 110314

Bob Scheer, They Know Everything about You, on elections 1st hr
Doug Henwood on Harper's essay Stop Hillary! Vote no to a Clinton dynasty 2d hr 110214

Monsanto, BigAg Spend Millions Fighting Colorado, Oregon Ballot Measures to Label GMO Foods 102814

Bill Moyers on Dark Money, the Attack on Voting Rights & How Racism Stills Drives Our Politics 012714

 

 

 

Articles

An Economic Agenda for America: 12 Steps Forward 120214 Bernie Sanders

How did Katy Tang end up as Board of Supervisors president? 111814

The real winners & losers of the SF election 111114 Gen Fujioka

It’s time to work on America’s agenda 110714 Eliz. Warren

This could start to topple systematic racism. And it starts on Tuesday in California 110314 Rachel Colyer

The big national landlord money aimed at Prop. G 110314 Tim Redmond

The strangest BART Board race ever 110314 Tim Redmond

Chronicle Inadvertently Posts Election Wrap-Up Article Online, Calls Winners 103014

Republicans’ Profane Attack on the Sacred Right to Vote 103014 Amy Goodman

 

"Those who cast the votes decide nothing. Those who count the votes decide everything."
                                                                                                                                --Joseph Stalin

 

 

Articles

Jon Rappoport: Did Prop 37 Really Lose or was it Vote Fraud 110812
Ocean Robbins: Did Monsanto Trick California Voters? 110812
Peter Dreier - Tuesday's Real Winners and Losers 110712
David Glick - The Long Road to Real Democracy 110412
Eric Francis - Storm Warnings 110212

Smiley & West

America Votes 2012

Video the Vote

MoJo's Guide to
Voter Suppression
and Poll Problems

Vote.org

The White House
Project

Open Debates

Youth Rights

Rock the Vote

Open Secrets --
Your Guide to the
Money in U.S.
in Politics

Smart Voter

Center for Voting
and Democracy

Daily Kos

Essential Information

Fixing Elections

Center for
Governmental Studies

My Vote Counts - CA

Where's the Paper?

 

 

Internet Takes Off With Mitt Romney’s ‘Binders Full of Women’

 

Election (Suppression) Day 2012: From ID to Intimidation,
How to Protect Your Rights at the Polls
110612

Bill Fletcher, author of "They're Bankrupting Us!":
And 20 Other Myths about Unions
-
1st hour
Norman Solomon and Jeff Cohen - Third party candidates
and strategizing your vote
- 2nd hour

Audio from KPFA Sunday Show w/ Philip Maldari 110412

Akhil Reed Amar - The Electoral College @ 0:06:30
Robert Warrior - The life of Native American activist Russell Means
and the history of the American Indian Movement
@ 0:33:50

Audio from KPFA Letters and Politics 110112

Interview with Ralph Nader

Audio from KPFA Letters and Politics 101612

Linguist George Lakoff - Political campaign messaging @ 0:06:25
Tova Andrea Wang - Voter suppression
@ 0:44:50

Audio from KPFA Letters and Politics 101512

Mitt Romney on Obama Voters 091712
Romney Tells Millionaire Donors What He REALLY Thinks of Obama Voters

Rep. John Lewis, Civil Rights Icon, on the Struggle to Win–and Now Protect–Voting Rights in U.S. 090312

All Americans Must Watch Documentary - Hacking Democracy
Full length HBO video - 020712

 

2008
How to Rig an Election: Convicted Former GOP Operative Details 2002

New Hampshire Phone Jamming Scheme

Allan Nairn, Kelley Baucar Vlahos: Vote for Change? Atrocity-Linked U.S. Officials Advising Democratic, GOP Presidential Frontrunners

Allan Nairn: The US Election is Already Over. Murder and Preventable Death Have Won.

2007
State Vote Machines Lose Test to Hackers 072807

1984 030607

 

Articles 2005 - 2006

 

 

 

 

 

“If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”
-- Rep. Todd Akin, the Republican nominee for Senate in Missouri

 

 

THE LONG ROAD TO REAL DEMOCRACY

David Glick
November 4, 2012

In 1975 the elite Trilateral Commission issued a report entitled, "The Crisis of Democracy." It held that an "excess of democracy" was disrupting the smooth functioning of government and undermining its authority. The report asserted this crisis was caused by previously marginalized members of society organizing to demand that their needs and interests be addressed. Clearly an intolerable situation in the eyes of the Commission. In the ruling class version of democracy, the general public is to be passive and obedient and must be excluded from meaningful political involvement. Its role is to do nothing more than cast a vote on election day for one of the officially approved candidates of our two party system and then go home having fulfilled its duty.

In this elite view there is no public interest, only a fragmented electorate comprised of so called "special interests" such as racial and ethnic minorities, women, workers, students, farmers, the poor, the elderly, the disabled, and increasingly the middle class. In other words--all of us except the very wealthy. In the trenchant words of the Occupy Movement, it's the 99% versus the 1% whose wealth and power enables it to identify the nation's interest with its own; and to date the 1% is winning. In this perverted arrangement where the "national interest" is identified with the interests of the giant corporations and huge financial institutions, corporate profit masquerading as the national interest will always trump the common good.

The real crisis of democracy is not an excess of democracy but the lack of real democratic participation. The choice before us is either a genuine democracy or a government that is simply the handmaiden of the super rich, the corporations and financial institutions--a condition better understood as the authoritarian rule of a plutocracy. If we ever needed further proof of this, the 2010 Supreme Court decision, Citizens United v Federal Election Commission, should make this abundantly clear. In a 5 to 4 decision, the Court ruled the speech of corporations must be treated the same as that of human beings, thereby empowering corporations and billionaires to fund superpacs which are allowed to spend unlimited money in support of a candidate as long as they don't coordinate that expenditure with the candidate (a slippery condition that is unenforceable) and as long as they disclose where the money comes from.

In the current federal election, the voice of the little guy is further drowned out by what has come to be called "dark money." These are so-called "social welfare" non-profits such as Americans for Prosperity and Crossroads GPS, two Republican organizations, as well as trade associations like the Chamber of Commerce, organized respectively as 501 (c)4s and 501 (c)6s under the U.S. tax code. This designation allows them to spend unlimited money in elections without disclosing their donors so long as they don't explicitly call for the election or defeat of a particular candidate. However, this murky distinction does allow them to run ads which do raise issues clearly designed to support or defeat a particular candidate.

Big money has even managed to subvert the initiative process which was originally designed to enhance democracy by allowing voters to propose legislation through ballot initiatives. But here again the corrosive effect of big money usually wins the day by using the power of that money to pass or defeat legislation deemed to be in the interests of big business and the wealthy elite. There can be no doubt that here in America we have the best democracy money can buy.

The current Supreme Court is comprised of five activist conservative justices who are decidedly pro big business and anti-labor. On June 25 of this year, this right-wing Court, in another 5 to 4 ruling, summarily struck down a 1912 Montana law which barred direct corporate contributions to political parties and candidates, a law which had been enacted because of a history of electoral interference on the part of the state's copper kings. Then on June 21 of this year in KNOX v SEIU, the Court took a crippling swipe at labor when it ruled that unions had to get "opt-in" permission from non-members, who are covered under union-negotiated contracts, before it could use their dues for political purposes. Yet there is no requirement under the law for corporations to get "opt-in" permission from shareholders in order to use company resources for political purposes. No level playing field here. Clearly the rulings of this right-wing Court are a roadblock to any semblance of economic justice without which there can be no real democracy.

Both the Democratic and Republican parties are the instruments of an elite ruling class which maintains control through the illusion of choice since each party is but a separate wing of the same party of wealth and privllege. Despite their differences, they share a common allegiance to the capitalist system and U.S. imperialism. They play different roles, yet function together to ensure that whoever the voters choose, the outcome will never challenge U.S. military hegemony and the capitalist system of putting corporate profits above the common good.

Capital maintains its rule through a clever combination of deception, coercion,
accommodation, and when necessary, violence. The role of the Republicans is to be the unembarrassed and unmitigated friend of Big Business. To the working class and the poor, the Republicans are seen as the greater of two evils. Within this good cop bad cop arrangement, the role of the Democrats is to be the lesser of two evils. Their job is to deliver just enough crumbs and benefits to blue collar workers, the poor, and middle class to keep them playing within this rigged electoral game.

To be fair, what may seem like crumbs in the big picture can be a matter of survival for those struggling to get by. Nonetheless, should the collusion of this bipartisan charade fail, both parties hope voters will become so disillusioned that they drop out of the electoral system without ever challenging it by building a mass movement rooted in independent politics. This duplicity and the rigged nature of our electoral system has caused the Democratic Party to become the graveyard of the very social movements necessary to reinvigorate our democracy. If the Democrats were truly committed to social change, they would work to expand the electorate by bringing in new voters from among the disaffected and marginalized of our society, but having nothing of substance to offer they make no such efforts. Hence the embarrassingly low voter turn out in this country.

We are living in a time when there is a fundamental struggle going on as to what kind of country we and our children are going to inhabit. On the one hand there are those who believe there is something we can all recognize as the common good. These are basic things that make for a viable and sustainable economy, a healthy environment, and a healthy population. These are things such as clean air, clean water, public education, public parks, roads, bridges and infrastructure, and a universal, comprehensive health care system to name just a few of the most obvious ones. These are the functions of government and they require taxes. Taxes then are simply the dues one pays for living in a just and functioning society that provides an abundance of opportunity and recognizes there is a public good and a commons from which everyone benefits.

On the other hand, we have the ideology of the ruling elite that denies there is such a thing as the commons or the public interest and that treats all such matters as commodities to be delivered by corporations whose primary goal is corporate profit, not the welfare of its workers or those to whom it sells its goods and services. This pernicious ideology is turning our country into a market society in which we know the price of everything, but have lost a sense of the value of anything be it clean air, clean water, the arts, education, leisure, happiness, or family life.

This privatization movement is an explicit attempt to turn over to corporations public resources, services and functions, which for centuries were operated by government. Privatization is the means by which corporations take over and run for profit what the public sector of the economy has traditionally done for the welfare of the population as a whole. Even prisons have become a source of corporate profit as more and more of them are being privatized. This privatization movement seeks to limit and defund government and ultimately control any aspect of the public sector that stands in the way of corporate profits. It is eviscerating public control and accountability of crucial govern-mental functions such as public health and safety, education, environmental protection, and the public broadcast airways, the latter of which is vital if we are to be informed citizens in a functioning democracy.

The mantra of these corporate privatizers is to let the market decide everything and have less government. Of course they don't really want less government but rather a government that works for the interests of corporations, not the interests of the people and the common good. The difference between the values of corporate privatizers and the values of those of us committed to the common good is perhaps the great divide of our time. If we lose this battle, we are putting our democracy up for sale and endangering the very environment that sustains us all. The ruling elite equates democracy with nothing less than unfettered, unregulated capitalism and equates freedom with corporate license to make ever greater profits, regardless of the social costs to our communities, our health, and our environment.

We will not have real democracy in this country until we take big money out of politics and that means overturning Citizens United and instituting federally funded elections. We must end forever the idea that money is the equivalent of speech and that corporations have the same rights that were given to natural persons by the Constitution of the United States. We must also end the revolving door which shuffles former industry lobbyists into government positions and returns those same legislators and government regulators into the industries over which they previously had oversight.

If we are to have a real democracy, we must overturn restrictive ballot access laws and have viable third parties that represent the broad spectrum of issues and solutions that people care about. We need instant run off voting and proportional representation like so many of the Western democracies of the world. We must have substantive presidential debates open to third party candidates, not the charade we have now which is sponsored by the corporate funded presidential commission entirely controlled by the Democratic and Republican parties. The function of these sham debates is to limit discussion to those issues which do not threaten the capitalist structure of domination and privilege or the U.S. empire, with its more than 900 military bases in at least 120 countries.

If we are to have a real democracy, we need a media whose job is to create an informed electorate and that requires real investigative reporting and challenging the lies and deceptions of those running for public office. We must reclaim the public airways so that they serve the public interest rather than the financial interests of corporate America. The major media must be required to provide free air time to all ballot qualified candidates so we can have a robust airing of diverse political views.

If we are to have real democracy, we must eliminate the arcane Electoral College where someone can become president by winning a majority of the Electoral College votes even though they have not won a majority of the popular vote. We must totally reform our electoral system and insure that every citizen has the right to vote and every vote is counted on voting machines that have verifiable paper trails. To insure that end we must criminalize the efforts of those engaged in voter suppression-- today's equivalent of yesterday's abhorrent Jim Crow laws.

On that day we will have honored the heroic struggles of those who faced fire hoses and police dogs and were jailed and even murdered to secure the sacred right to vote. On that day our vote will be meaningful and on that day America can proudly proclaim that at long last we are indeed a democracy.

David Glick is a poet, psychotherapist and a member of the Marin Peace and Justice Coalition, Jewish Voice for Peace, and Health Care for All--California

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Articles 2005 to 2006


July - October 2006.
US Investigates Voting Machines' Venezuela Ties
The Republican Plan for Dominance in the 21st Century
Florida Con Salsa: Investigative Reporter Greg Palast Reports on Voter Fraud in Mexico's Presidential Election

November 2005.
Has American Democracy died an electronic death in Ohio 2005's referenda defeats?

July - August 2005.
Harry Belafonte, Stevie Wonder Speak/Sing Out for Voting Rights
40th Anniversary of the 1965 Voting Rights Act: Thousands March to Keep the Vote Alive
NAACP Legal Defense Fund Responds to Supreme Court Nominee Roberts Push to Limit Voting Rights Act
Barbara Lee: Statement regarding the Nomination of John Roberts to the Supreme Court

January 2005.
Robert Fisk: Iraqis Voting for "Freedom From Foreign Occupation"
Seymour Hersh: "We've Been Taken Over by a Cult"

2002 - 2004    

 

 

 

 

 

Has American Democracy died an electronic death in Ohio 2005's referenda defeats?

by Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman
November 11, 2005

While debate still rages over Ohio's stolen presidential election of 2004, the impossible outcomes of key 2005 referendum issues may have put an electronic nail through American democracy.

Once again, the Buckeye state has hosted an astonishing display of electronic manipulation that calls into question the sanctity of America's right to vote, and to have those votes counted in this crucial swing state.

The controversy has been vastly enhanced due to the simultaneous installation of new electronic voting machines in nearly half the state's 88 counties, machines the General Accountability Office has now confirmed could be easily hacked by a very small number of people.

Last year, the US presidency was decided here. This year, a bond issue and four hard-fought election reform propositions are in question.

Issue One on Ohio's 2005 ballot was a controversial $2 billion "Third Frontier" proposition for state programs ostensibly meant to create jobs and promote high tech industry. Because some of the money may seem destined for stem cell research, Issue One was bitterly opposed by the Christian Right, which distributed leaflets against it.

The Issue was pushed by a Taft Administration wallowing in corruption. Governor Bob Taft recently pleaded guilty to misdemeanors stemming from golf outings he took with Tom Noe, the infamous Toledo coin dealer who has taken $4 million or more from the state. Taft entrusted Noe with some $50 million in investments for the Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation, from which some $12 million is now missing. Noe has been charged with federal money laundering violations on behalf of the Bush-Cheney campaign. Taft's public approval ratings in Ohio are currently around 15%.

Despite public fears the bond issue could become a glorified GOP slush fund, Issue One was supported by organized labor. A poll run on the front page of the Columbus Dispatch on Sunday, November 6, showed Issue One passing with 53% of the vote. Official tallies showed Issue One passing with 54% of the vote.

The polling used by the Dispatch had wrapped up the Thursday before the Tuesday election. Its precision on Issue One was consistent with the Dispatch's historic polling abilities, which have been uncannily accurate for decades. This poll was based on 1872 registered Ohio voters, with a margin of error at plus/minus 2.5 percentage points and a 95% confidence interval. The Issue One outcome would appear to confirm the Dispatch polling operation as the state's gold standard.

But Issues 2-5 are another story.

The Dispatch's Sunday headline showed "3 issues on way to passage." The headline referred to Issues One, Two and Three. As mentioned, the poll was dead-on accurate for Issue One.

Issues Two-Five were meant to reform Ohio's electoral process, which has been under intense fire since 2004. The issues were very heavily contested. They were backed by Reform Ohio Now, a well-funded bi-partisan statewide effort meant to bring some semblance of reliability back to the state's vote count. Many of the state's best-known moderate public figures from both sides of the aisle were prominent in the effort. Their effort came largely in response to the stolen 2004 presidential vote count that gave George W. Bush a second term and led to U.S. history's first Congressional challenge to the seating of a state's delegation to the Electoral College.

Issue Two was designed to make it easier for Ohioans to vote early, by mail or in person. By election day, much of what it proposed was already put into law by the state legislature. Like Issue One, it was opposed by the Christian Right. But it had broad support from a wide range of Ohio citizen groups. In a conversation the day before the vote, Bill Todd, a primary official spokesperson for the opposition to Issues Two through Five, told attorney Cliff Arnebeck that he believed Issues Two and Three would pass.

The November 6 Dispatch poll showed Issue Two passing by a vote of 59% to 33%, with about 8% undecided, an even broader margin than that predicted for Issue One.

But on November 8, the official vote count showed Issue Two going down to defeat by the astonishing margin of 63.5% against, with just 36.5% in favor. To say the outcome is a virtual statistical impossibility is to understate the case. For the official vote count to square with the pre-vote Dispatch poll, support for the Issue had to drop more than 22 points, with virtually all the undecideds apparently going into the "no" column.

The numbers on Issue Three are even less likely.

Issue Three involved campaign finance reform. In a lame duck session at the end of 2004, Ohio's Republican legislature raised the limits for individual donations to $10,000 per candidate per person for anyone over the age of six. Thus a family of four could donate $40,000 to a single candidate. The law also opened the door for direct campaign donations from corporations, something banned by federal law since the administration of Theodore Roosevelt.

The GOP measure sparked howls of public outrage. Though again opposed by the Christian Right, Issue Three drew an extremely broad range of support from moderate bi-partisan citizen groups and newspapers throughout the state. The Sunday Dispatch poll showed it winning in a landslide, with 61% in favor and just 25% opposed.

Tuesday's official results showed Issue Three going down to defeat in perhaps the most astonishing reversal in Ohio history, claiming just 33% of the vote, with 67% opposed. For this to have happened, Issue Three's polled support had to drop 28 points, again with an apparent 100% opposition from the previously undecideds.

The reversals on both Issues Two and Three were statistically staggering, to say the least.

The outcomes on Issue Four and Five were slightly less dramatic. Issue Four meant to end gerrymandering by establishing a non-partisan commission to set Congressional and legislative districts. The Dispatch poll showed it with 31% support, 45% opposition, and 25% undecided. Issue Four's final margin of defeat was 30% in favor to 70% against, placing virtually all undecideds in the "no" column.

Issue Five meant to take administration of Ohio's elections away from the Secretary of State, giving control to a nine-member non-partisan commission. Issue Five was prompted by Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell's administration of the 2004 presidential vote, particularly in light of his role as co-chair of Ohio's Bush-Cheney campaign. The Dispatch poll showed a virtual toss-up, at 41% yes, 43% no and 16% undecided. The official result gave Issue Five just 30% of the vote, with allegedly 70% opposed.

But the Sunday Dispatch also carried another headline: "44 counties will break in new voting machines." Forty-one of those counties "will be using new electronic touch screens from Diebold Election System," the Dispatch added.

Diebold's controversial CEO Walden O'Dell, a major GOP donor, made national headlines in 2003 with a fundraising letter pledging to deliver Ohio's 2004 electoral votes to Bush.

Every vote in Ohio 2004 was cast or counted on an electronic device. About 15%---some 800,000 votes---were cast on electronic touchscreen machines with no paper trail. The number was about seven times higher than Bush's official 118,775-vote margin of victory. Nearly all the rest of the votes were cast on punch cards or scantron ballots counted by opti-scan devices---some of them made by Diebold---then tallied at central computer stations in each of Ohio's 88 counties.

According to a recent General Accountability Office report, all such technologies are easily hacked. Vote skimming and tipping are readily available to those who would manipulate the vote. Vote switching could be especially easy for those with access to networks by which many of the computers are linked. Such machines and networks, said the GAO, had widespread problems with "security and reliability." Among them were "weak security controls, system design flaws, inadequate security testing, incorrect system configuration, poor security management and vague or incomplete voting system standards, among other issues."

With the 2005 expansion of paperless touch-screen machines into 41 more Ohio counties, this year's election was more vulnerable than ever to centralized manipulation. The outcomes on Issues 2-5 would indicate just that.

The new touchscreen machines were brought in by Blackwell, who had vowed to take the state to an entirely e-based voting regime.

As in 2004, there were instances of chaos. In inner city, heavily Democratic precincts in Montgomery County, the Dayton Daily News reported: "Vote count goes on all night: Errors, unfamiliarity with computerized voting at heart of problem." Among other things, 186 memory cards from the e-voting machines went missing, prompting election workers in some cases to search for them with flashlights before all were allegedly found.

In Tom Noe's Lucas County, Election Director Jill Kelly explained that her staff could not complete the vote count for 13.5 hours because poll workers "were not adequately trained to run the new machines."

But none of the on-the-ground glitches can begin to explain the impossible numbers surrounding the alleged defeat of Issues Two through Five. The Dispatch polling has long been a source of public pride for the powerful, conservative newspaper, which endorsed Bush in 2004.

The Dispatch was somehow dead accurate on Issue One, and then staggeringly wrong on Issues Two through Five. Sadly, this impossible inconsistency between Ohio's most prestigious polling operation and these final official referendum vote counts have drawn virtually no public scrutiny.

Though there were glitches, this year's voting lacked the massive irregularities and open manipulations that poisoned Ohio 2004. The only major difference would appear to be the new installation of touchscreen machines in those additional 41 counties.

And thus the possible explanations for the staggering defeats of Issues Two through Five boil down to two: either the Dispatch polling---dead accurate for Issue One---was wildly wrong beyond all possible statistical margin of error for Issues 2-5, or the electronic machines on which Ohio and much of the nation conduct their elections were hacked by someone wanting to change the vote count.

If the latter is true, it can and will be done again, and we can forget forever about the state that has been essential to the election of every Republican presidential candidate since Lincoln.

And we can also, for all intents and purposes, forget about the future of American democracy.

Updated November 13, 2005
--
Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman are co-authors of HOW THE GOP STOLE AMERICA'S 2004 ELECTION AND IS RIGGING 2008, available at www.freepress.org/ and www.harveywasserman.com/, and, with Steve Rosenfeld, of WHAT HAPPENED IN OHIO, available from The New Press in spring, 2006.

Free Press

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Where is the democracy here at home?

David Glick
October 30, 2004


As the country lurches toward the bitterly contested presidential election of 2004, the sorry state of our electoral system is glaringly apparent. Credible reports of systematic voter suppression and fraud by Republican operatives in Ohio, Florida, Nevada and other swing states are rampant. Of the 115 million votes expected to be cast on election day, 36 million will be punched into direct recording electronic voting machines (DREs) that provide no paper trail and no possibility of a verifiable recount.

Some 98 million citizens will consign their votes to computers that can easily be programmed to falsify the outcome and these votes will be tabulated by four private corporations, among which is Diebold Election Systems headed by Walten O'Dell who was quoted as saying he intends to "deliver" the necessary votes needed to secure the re-election of George W. Bush. While President Bush barnstorms the country boasting of his questionable efforts to bring democracy to Iraq and Afghanistan, we might well ask ourselves if we have a democracy here at home.

I would contend that the greatest threat to democracy in this country is the mistaken belief that we already have it. Because of the bitter and tragic history of Blacks and women being denied the right to vote and the heroic struggles waged to secure that right, we have understandably come to confuse the presence of elections with the presence of democracy. But democracy in America is in reality a sham, soporific showcase democracy.

Every four years citizens, if they are not too busy or disillusioned, go to the polls to cast votes in an anemic exercise of illusory democracy. In reality those votes only ratify the real decisions already made by the power structure of this country whose goal is to secure the corporate agenda.

We will not have real democracy in this country until we take big money out of politics and have federally funded elections. Until we overturn restrictive ballot access laws and have viable third parties that represent the broad spectrum of issues and solutions that people care about. Until we have instant run off voting and proportional representation like so many of the Western democracies of the world.

We will not have real democracy in this country until we have substantive presidential debates open to third party candidates rather than what passes for debates put on by a corporate funded presidential commission whose function is to limit debate to those issues which do not threaten the capitalist structure of privilege, domination and empire.

We will not have real democracy in this country until we have a media whose job is to create an informed electorate and that requires non-partisan, truth-telling investigative reporting. We must reclaim the public airways so that they serve the public good rather than the financial interests of corporate America. The major media should be required to provide free air time to all ballot qualified candidates so we can have a robust airing of diverse political views.

We will not have real democracy in this country until we eliminate the arcane Electoral College whereby someone can become president by winning a majority of the Electoral College votes even though they have not won a majority of the popular vote. The anti-democratic nature of the Electoral College grossly distorts the reality of the popular vote. In 1984 President Reagan won 58.8 percent of the popular vote but 97.5 percent of the Electoral College. Moreover the Electoral College under represents large states and over represents small states because of the number of electors in relation to the state's population. Thus a vote cast for president in Dick Cheney's Wyoming with a tiny population is worth four times that of one cast in densely populated California.

There are few things more hypocritical than President Bush preaching the virtues of democracy to the world when we have so many structural impediments to democracy here at home and when he and his Republican operatives are doing everything possible to undermine the fragile democracy we do have.

We need to totally reform our electoral system and insure that every vote counts, that every vote counts equally, and that every vote is counted on voting machines that have verifiable paper trails. On that day we will have honored the heroic struggles of those who faced fire hoses and police dogs and were jailed and even murdered to secure the sacred right to vote. On that day we can proudly proclaim that at long last America is a democracy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Those who came before us

Video: Iron Jawed Angels


The women were innocent and defenseless. And by the end of the night, they were barely alive. Forty prison guards wielding clubs and their warden's blessing went on a rampage against the 33 women wrongly convicted of "obstructing sidewalk traffic."

They beat Lucy Burn, chained her hands to the cell bars above her head and left her hanging for the night, bleeding and gasping for air. They hurled Dora Lewis into a dark cell, smashed her head against an iron bed and knocked her out cold. Her cellmate, Alice Cosu, thought Lewis was dead and suffered a heart attack. Additional affidavits describe the guards grabbing, dragging, beating, choking, lamming, pinching, twisting and kicking the women.

Thus unfolded the "Night of Terror" on Nov. 15, 1917, when the warden at the Occoquan Workhouse in Virginia ordered his guards to teach a lesson to the suffragists imprisoned there because they dared to picket Woodrow Wilson's White House for the right to vote.

For weeks, the women's only water came from an open pail. Their food--all of it colorless slop--was infested with worms. When one of the leaders, Alice Paul, embarked on a hunger strike, they tied her to a chair, forced a tube down her throat and poured liquid into her until she vomited. She was tortured like this for weeks until word was smuggled out to the press.

So, refresh my memory. Some women won't vote this year because--why, exactly? We have carpool duties? We have to get to work? Our vote doesn't matter? It's raining?

Last week, I went to a sparsely attended screening of HBO's new movie "Iron Jawed Angels" (releases on DVD 9/7/04). It is a graphic depiction of the battle these women waged so that I could pull the curtain at the polling booth and have my say. I am ashamed to say I needed the reminder.

All these years later, voter registration is still my passion. But the actual act of voting had become less personal for me, more rote. Frankly, voting often felt more like an obligation than a privilege. Sometimes it was inconvenient.

My friend Wendy, who is my age and studied women's history, saw the HBO movie, too. When she stopped by my desk to talk about it, she looked angry. She was--with herself. "One thought kept coming back to me as I watched that movie," she said. "What would those women think of the way I use--or don't use--my right to vote? All of us take it for granted now, not just younger women, but those of us who did seek to
learn." The right to vote, she said, had become valuable to her "all over again."

HBO will run the movie periodically before releasing it on video and DVD. I wish all history, social studies and government teachers would include the movie in their curriculum. I want it shown on Bunco night, too, and anywhere else women gather. I realize this isn't our usual idea of socializing, but we are not voting in the numbers that we should be, and I think a little shock therapy is in order.

It is jarring to watch Woodrow Wilson and his cronies try to persuade a psychiatrist to declare Alice Paul insane so that she could be permanently institutionalized. And it is inspiring to watch the doctor refuse. Alice Paul was strong, he said, and brave. That didn't make her crazy. The doctor admonished the men:

Courage in women is often mistaken for insanity."

Please pass this on to all the women you know. We need to get out and vote and use this right that was fought so hard for by these very courageous women.

Arrived by email without credit.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Flaw in Florida touchscreens could hamper manual recounts

Saturday, June 12, 2004

(06-12) 16:06 PDT TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) --

Touchscreen voting machines in 11 counties have a software flaw that could make manual recounts impossible in November's presidential election, state officials said.

A spokeswoman for the secretary of state called the problems "minor technical hiccups" that can be resolved, but critics allege voting officials wrongly certified a voting system they knew had a bug.

The electronic voting machines are a response to Florida's 2000 presidential election fiasco, where thousands of punchcard ballots were improperly marked. But the new machines have brought concerns that errors could go unchecked without paper records of the electronic voting.

The machines, made by Election Systems & Software of Omaha, Neb., fail to provide a consistent electronic "event log" of voting activity when asked to reproduce what happened during the election, state officials said.

Officials with the company and the state Division of Elections said they believe they can fix the problem by linking the voting equipment with laptop computers. Florida's two largest counties -- Miami-Dade and Broward -- are among those affected by the flaws.

Rep. Robert Wexler, D-Fla., has asked state Attorney General Charlie Crist to investigate whether the head of the state elections division lied under oath when he denied knowing of the computer problem before reading about it in the media. A spokeswoman for Crist said he was reviewing the request.

The elections chief, Ed Kast, abruptly resigned Monday, saying he wanted a change of pace.

During a May 17 deposition for a lawsuit Wexler filed seeking to require a paper trail for state voting machines, Kast said he had recently heard of the problem only days earlier. But in a letter to Crist, Wexler said the Miami-Dade Election Reform Coalition, a citizens' group, notified Kast and Secretary of State Glenda Hood of the glitch in March.

Hood blamed Miami-Dade Supervisor of Elections Constance Kaplan for the delay, telling Kaplan in a May 13 letter she should have notified state officials when she learned of the problem in June 2003.

Nonetheless, state and county election officials insist the problem can be resolved in the five months before the November election.

"These are minor technical hiccups that happen," said Hood spokeswoman Nicole DeLara. "No votes are lost, or could be lost."

Wexler and coalition members said they want to know how the state can be sure that glitches will not prevent elections officials from even detecting computer malfunctions.

"How do you know that any votes were lost if your audit is wrong?" asked Lida Rodriguez-Taseff, chairwoman of the Miami-Dade coalition.

State officials say there is no need for recounts, or an audit trail, with the touchscreen system because it was designed to prevent people from voting in the same race more than once -- an overvote -- and provide multiple alerts to voters to warn them when they are skipping a race -- an undervote.

They emphasize that the "glitch" in the touchscreen machines occurs when the audit is done after the election, not when the tally sheet is printed in each precinct when polls close.

San Francisco Chronicle

 

 

 

 

 

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Defending Democracy in a Time of Crisis

David Glick
January 31, 2004

Progressives face a crucial dilemma in the upcoming 2004 presidential
election. All agree that it is imperative to send George W. Bush packing
to his ranch in Crawford, Texas where he can strut around in his alligator
boots and pretend he's a real cowboy. Yet while many in the progressive
left have major disagreements with each of the Democratic candidates most
likely to be chosen as the standard-bearer of the party, most seem willing
to embrace an "anybody but Bush" strategy now that it is clear that Joe
Lieberman has dropped out of the race.

On the other hand we also know that there is all too much similarity
between the Democrats and the Republicans and that Dubya could not have
gotten away with the worst of his excesses had it not been for the
complicity and support of the vast majority of the Democratic Party.

Both the Democratic and Republican parties are the instruments of the elite
ruling class. The ruling class maintains its control through the illusion
of choice since the Democrats and Republicans are but two wings of the same
party. Despite their differences, they share a common allegiance to the
capitalist system. They play different roles, yet function together to
ensure that whomever the voters choose, the outcome will never challenge
the foundation of the capitalist system with its priority of profits above
the common good.

Capital maintains its rule through a clever combination of deception,
accommodation, coercion and, when necessary, violence. The role of the
Republicans is to be the unembarrassed and unmitigated friend of big
business. To the working class and the poor the Republicans are seen as the
greater of two evils. Within this good cop/bad cop routine, the role of the
Democrats is to be the lesser of two evils. Their job is to deliver just
enough crumbs to blue collar workers, the poor and the middle class to keep
them playing within this rigged electoral game.

To be fair it must be said that what may seem like crumbs in the big
picture can be a matter of survival for those struggling to get by.
Nonetheless, should this bipartisan collusion fail, the hope of both
political parties is that voters will become so disillusioned that they
will drop out of the electoral system altogether without ever challenging
it by building a mass movement rooted in independent politics.

A certain faction of the Green Party wants to run a candidate in the
upcoming presidential election, possibly supporting Ralph Nader who is
considering running as an independent. Progressives must weigh seriously
the consequences of this strategy because the stakes are frightfully high.

Although I am a Green and worked locally on Nader's 2000 campaign for the
presidency, I am opposed to his running in 2004 for fear he could win
enough critical votes to play a decisive role in giving Bush four more
years in office.

There are two questions progressives must consider. First, is running a
Green candidate for president an effective and responsible strategy for
turning the Bush administration out of office. Second, is running a Green
candidate for president an effective and responsible strategy for building
the Green party. I believe this strategy fails both tests.

Many Greens believe-running a candidate is a matter of principled
commitment to democracy because voters should have the right to choose
a candidate who truly represents their convictions and vision. It is hard to
disagree with this principle in the abstract. However, elections do not
occur in the abstract, they occur in particular historical circumstances.
Allowing the Bush administration four more years in office will undoubtedly
push this country further down the path toward fascism.

This insistence on running a Green candidate on principle in these
particular historical circumstances will lead to far greater short-term
harm than any potential long-term benefit could ever justify. Those most
likely to suffer the brunt of the wrath of another four years of Bush are
the people who will be living under the bombs he will be dropping around
the world as he pursues his immoral, illegal and insane policy of
preemptive war. Of course people all around the world, especially those
catching hell, recognize Bush's war on terrorism for what it truly is--
American terrorism waged to establish military and economic domination
over the entire planet.

Moreover if the Greens run a candidate, whether it's Nader or someone else,
and that candidate wins enough votes to swing the election to Bush, the
Greens, rightfully or not, will be held responsible and will incur the
anger of voters who would otherwise be Green supporters under different
circumstances. Clearly this would be disastrous for building the party over
the long haul.

If Nader runs it is inconceivable under the current circumstances that he
could pull as many votes as he did last time. That poses a particular
danger since it might seem as if the issues he runs on are not of any real
concern to voters. In addition if the spoiler role is attached to him as it
surely will, these factors will hurt the many causes he has steadfastly
championed and the many public interest groups he has spawned over
decades of remarkable service to this country.

We progressives have much to learn from how the right has gained so much
power in this country. The Christian right has enormous influence in the
Republican Party precisely because it was strategic in its thinking.
Decades ago it began to run candidates in non-partisan local races, slowly
building the movement from the ground up until it could successfully
compete in races higher up the political chain. Through patient organizing
it was soon able to influence legislative races on the state and federal
level.

Similarly the neo-conservatives who have so much influence on the current
administration also began to think strategically decades ago. The Coors,
Mellon, Scaife and other right-wing foundations understood the importance
of building an intellectual infrastructure to promote their ideas. They
began funding conservative think tanks-which have been defining and
refining their ideas and policies while also developing an effective
language with which to communicate them to the general public.

If we Greens and progressives are to be successful, we must be willing to
learn from the strategies employed by the Christian right and the
conservatives.

We simply cannot tolerate a reckless strategy that could hand the election
over to a second Bush administration. The rest of the world is clear about
the dangers of this president. Poll results in European countries revealed
that the vast majority of people believe that George W. Bush is the
greatest threat to world peace, surpassing even Saddam Hussein.

The Europeans have read the Bush score card and we here at home must
not delude ourselves into thinking this is just another Republican
administration no different from any of its predecessors. This
administration is terrifying in its authoritarian and secretive nature, its
disdain of international' law, and its reckless militaristic approach to
foreign policy.

Of course anyone familiar with U.S. history knows that violence, militarism
and imperialism are nothing new to this country. However, quantitative
changes when big enough at some at some point turn into qualitative
changes. There is something entirely different about this administration
and we would be foolish not to recognize it and act accordingly.

Bush pushed through Congress vast tax breaks for the rich at a time when
44 million Americans have no health insurance, our schools are underfunded,
and our physical infrastructure is decaying. His prescription drug policy
is a giveaway to the pharmaceutical industry and of minimal benefit to
seniors. His $403 billion military budget which does not even include the
soaring costs of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, coupled with his tax
breaks for the rich, have caused a $521 billion budget deficit endangering
the economy.

He is without a doubt the worst environmental president we have ever had.
He pulled the U.S. out of the 1997 Kyoto treaty aimed at addressing the
world wide environmental crisis caused by global warming. In fact, Bush
even deleted the subject of global warming from the Environmental
Protection Agency's annual report on air pollution trends.

The Bush administration successfully defeated Congressional efforts to
raise automobile fuel efficiency standards and aligned itself with the oil
industry in promoting oil drilling in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife
Refuge.

Vice-President Cheney's energy task force met in secret with energy
lobbyists and crafted an energy policy entirely to their liking. To this
day he refuses to reveal who he met with claiming executive privilege. The
Bush/Cheney energy policy calls for more oil, gas, and coal production as
well as subsidies and tax breaks for the oil, coal and nuclear power
industries. Yet it provides virtually no support for energy conservation or
developing renewable energy resources.

Bush withdrew the U.S. from the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and the
1972 anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty while simultaneously committing billions
to the development of a discredited "star wars" missile defense shield. This
policy will fill the coffers of the defense industry while threatening China
and Russia and promoting an arms race that will destabilize the world.

He has pushed for more media consolidation, reduced money for veteran's
health care, cut the budget and staff of various federal agencies charged
with overseeing and promoting workplace safety, pushed legislation that
will cut the overtime pay for an estimated eight million workers, advocated
policies that blur the boundaries between church and state, appointed
racist ,and extreme right-wing judges to the federal bench, opposed
expanding hate crime laws to cover crimes based on sexual orientation, and
refused to allocate sufficient monies to fight the AIDS pandemic.

He also seeks to outlaw abortions, ban gay marriages through a
constitutional amendment, privatize social security, and spend vast amounts
of money in an insane plan to militarize outer space, money desperately
needed here on earth for health care, schools, environmental restoration
and job creation.

He has waged a war against Afghanistan, killing more innocent civilians
than were killed in the terrorist attacks of 9/11, invaded and occupied
Iraq based on lies that we were in imminent danger because of Saddam
Hussein's weapons of mass destruction, and shown complete support for
Israel's brutal occupation of Palestine. His arrogant and belligerent
Middle East policy aimed at controlling access to the region's vast oil
reserves, together with his reckless remarks about Islam, have inflamed
Arab and Muslim feelings against the U.S. and will undoubtedly swell the
ranks of terrorist organizations eager to vent their rage on our country.

Ironically this great defender of America's security has refused to
allocate the needed money for real homeland defense. Fire departments
across the country are understaffed and everyday huge container cargo
ships, a most likely target for a terrorist bomb, come into America's ports
unchecked.

Opinions swirl around the tragedy of 9/11. Some believe Bush purposefully
disregarded warnings about an imminent terrorist attack and impeded efforts
to investigate terrorist suspects in order to exploit the chaos and fear
for his own political agenda. Whether true or not, there is no question
that Bush and Attorney General Ashcroft were quick to exploit the situation
by ramming through Congress the draconian USA Patriot Act which has
gutted our Bill of Rights, put a chill on legitimate political dissent, and
eliminated the balance of powers enshrined in the Constitution by
arrogating virtually unrestrained power to the executive branch of
government.

Under the Bush administration, America is fast becoming a police state and
we had better recognize it before it is too late. In post 9/11 America,
thousands of Muslims and Arabs, both citizens and immigrants, have been
rounded up by the government without being charged of any crime, held in
secret detention and denied access to legal representation. Among our
constitutional rights under attack by the Bush administration are freedom
of speech, assembly, association and privacy; equality before the law and
the presumption of innocence; access to legal representation and due
process in judicial proceedings, including a speedy and public trial; and
protection from unreasonable searches and seizures.

This is a critical moment in American history. The signs of incipient
fascism are evident for those willing to see. The Bush administration
shares many of the characteristics of previous fascist regimes. Among them
are: a belligerent nationalism and militarized foreign policy; an obsession
with national security and the suppression of civil liberties; extreme
secrecy in government; a disdain for international law and human rights;
the use of scapegoats to unify the country; the suppression of labor rights
and the protection of corporations from regulation; control of the mass
media; corrupt elections; suppression of academic freedom; a disdain of
science and intellectual and artistic pursuits; a black-and-white view of
the world; and the cynical use of religion to bolster authoritarian rule.

Our country is standing on the brink of fascism. This is no time to roll
the dice on the outcome of the next election. For once we on the left must
overcome our differences and unify to turn this administration out of
office. If we do not, we might loose the political space needed to continue
our struggle to transform this country into a true democracy.

David Glick is a psychotherapist, poet and long-time peace and justice activist and board member of the Social Justice Center of Marin.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fears of more US electoral chaos after flaws are discovered in ballot computers

By Andrew Gumbel in Los Angeles
The Independent, 14 October 2003

Next year's US presidential election may be compromised by new voting machines that computer scientists believe are unreliable, poorly programmed and prone to tampering.

An investigation published in today's Independent reveals tens of thousands of touch screen voting machinesmay be less reliable than the old punchcards, which famously stalled the presidential election in Florida in 2000, leaving the whole election open to international ridicule.

The machines are said to offer no independent verification of individual voting choices, making recounts impossible, and the software isshielded from public scrutiny by trade secrecy agreements.

The shortcomings have appeared in two academic studies and have prompted calls for urgent oversight legislation. They have also cast doubt on the accuracy of last November's mid-term election results, especially in Georgia, the first state to switch to touch screen voting.

David Dill, a computer science professor at Stanford University, said: "These machines do not allow the voters to check that their votes are accurately and permanently recorded. No one can prove that the machines are trustworthy."

The three leading voting machine manufacturers are substantial Republican campaign donors, and one of their chief executives, Walden O'Dell ofDiebold, in Ohio, wrote a letter to Republican supporters saying he was "committed to helping Ohio deliver its electoral votes to the President next year". That raised serious concerns of bias. "The rush towards computerisation is very dubious," Rebecca Mercuri, a research fellow at Harvard University, said. "It takes away the checks and balances of a democratic society."

In Georgia, citizens were alarmed at apparent anomalies in the election results for governor and one of the state's two Senate seats. Both offices were won by Republicans in last-minute voting swings away from Democrats.

Causes for alarm included a serious malfunction in the votingsoftware, discovered after the machines were packaged for shipment, which had to be repaired with a programming "patch", and the fact that the patch showed up on an open-access internet page. Hundreds of security flaws were identified in subsequent follow-up studies. There were also several election day glitches, including the loss of 67 voting memory cards in the Democrat stronghold of central Atlanta.

The Independent /UK

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All the President's votes?

A quiet revolution is taking place in US politics. By the time it's over, the integrity of elections will be in the unchallenged, unscrutinised control of a few large - and pro-Republican - corporations. Andrew Gumbel wonders if democracy in America can survive.

By Andrew Gumbel
The Independent 14 October 2003

Something very odd happened in the mid-term elections in Georgia last November. On the eve of the vote, opinion polls showed Roy Barnes, the incumbent Democratic governor, leading by between nine and 11 points. In a somewhat closer, keenly watched Senate race, polls indicated that Max Cleland, the popular Democrat up for re-election, was ahead by two to five points against his Republican challenger, Saxby Chambliss.

Those figures were more or less what political experts would have expected in state with a long tradition of electing Democrats to statewide office. But then the results came in, and all of Georgia appeared to have been turned upside down. Barnes lost the governorship to the Republican, Sonny Perdue, 46 per cent to 51 per cent, a swing of as much as 16 percentage points from the last opinion polls. Cleland lost to Chambliss 46 per cent to 53, a last-minute swing of 9 to 12 points. Red-faced opinion pollsters suddenly had a lot of explaining to do and launched internal investigations. Political analysts credited the upset - part of a pattern of Republican successes around the country - to a huge campaigning push by President Bush in the final days of the race. They also said that Roy Barnes had lost because of a surge of "angry white men" punishing him for eradicating all but a vestige of the old confederate symbol from the state flag.

But something about these explanations did not make sense, and they have made even less sense over time. When the Georgia secretary of state's office published its demographic breakdown of the election earlier this year, it turned out there was no surge of angry white men; in fact, the only subgroup showing even a modest increase in turnout was black women.

There were also big, puzzling swings in partisan loyalties in different parts of the state. In 58 counties, the vote was broadly in line with the primary election. In 27 counties in Republican-dominated north Georgia, however, Max Cleland unaccountably scored 14 percentage points higher than he had in the primaries. And in 74 counties in the Democrat south, Saxby Chambliss garnered a whopping 22 points more for the Republicans than the party as a whole had won less than three months earlier.

Now, weird things like this do occasionally occur in elections, and the figures, on their own, are not proof of anything except statistical anomalies worthy of further study. But in Georgia there was an extra reason to be suspicious. Last November, the state became the first in the country to conduct an election entirely with touchscreen voting machines, after lavishing $54m (£33m) on a new system that promised to deliver the securest, most up-to-date, most voter-friendly election in the history of the republic. The machines, however, turned out to be anything but reliable. With academic studies showing the Georgia touchscreens to be poorly programmed, full of security holes and prone to tampering, and with thousands of similar machines from different companies being introduced at high speed across the country, computer voting may, in fact, be US democracy's own 21st-century nightmare.

In many Georgia counties last November, the machines froze up, causing long delays as technicians tried to reboot them. In heavily Democratic Fulton County, in downtown Atlanta, 67 memory cards from the voting machines went missing, delaying certification of the results there for 10 days. In neighbouring DeKalb County, 10 memory cards were unaccounted for; they were later recovered from terminals that had supposedly broken down and been taken out of service.

It is still unclear exactly how results from these missing cards were tabulated, or if they were counted at all. And we will probably never know, for a highly disturbing reason. The vote count was not conducted by state elections officials, but by the private company that sold Georgia the voting machines in the first place, under a strict trade-secrecy contract that made it not only difficult but actually illegal - on pain of stiff criminal penalties - for the state to touch the equipment or examine the proprietary software to ensure the machines worked properly. There was not even a paper trail to follow up. The machines were fitted with thermal printing devices that could theoretically provide a written record of voters' choices, but these were not activated. Consequently, recounts were impossible. Had Diebold Inc, the manufacturer, been asked to review the votes, all it could have done was programme the computers to spit out the same data as before, flawed or not.

Astonishingly, these are the terms under which America's top three computer voting machine manufacturers - Diebold, Sequoia and Election Systems and Software (ES&S) - have sold their products to election officials around the country. Far from questioning the need for rigid trade secrecy and the absence of a paper record, secretaries of state and their technical advisers - anxious to banish memories of the hanging chad fiasco and other associated disasters in the 2000 presidential recount in Florida - have, for the most part, welcomed the touchscreen voting machines as a technological miracle solution.

Georgia was not the only state last November to see big last-minute swings in voting patterns. There were others in Colorado, Minnesota, Illinois and New Hampshire - all in races that had been flagged as key partisan battlegrounds, and all won by the Republican Party. Again, this was widely attributed to the campaigning efforts of President Bush and the demoralisation of a Democratic Party too timid to speak out against the looming war in Iraq.

Strangely, however, the pollsters made no comparable howlers in lower-key races whose outcome was not seriously contested. Another anomaly, perhaps. What, then, is one to make of the fact that the owners of the three major computer voting machines are all prominent Republican Party donors? Or of a recent political fund-raising letter written to Ohio Republicans by Walden O'Dell, Diebold's chief executive, in which he said he was "committed to helping Ohio to deliver its electoral votes to the president next year" - even as his company was bidding for the contract on the state's new voting machinery?

Alarmed and suspicious, a group of Georgia citizens began to look into last November's election to see whether there was any chance the results might have been deliberately or accidentally manipulated. Their research proved unexpectedly, and disturbingly, fruitful.

First, they wanted to know if the software had undergone adequate checking. Under state and federal law, all voting machinery and component parts must be certified before use in an election. So an Atlanta graphic designer called Denis Wright wrote to the secretary of state's office for a copy of the certification letter. Clifford Tatum, assistant director of legal affairs for the election division, wrote back: "We have determined that no records exist in the Secretary of State's office regarding a certification letter from the lab certifying the version of software used on Election Day." Mr Tatum said it was possible the relevant documents were with Gary Powell, an official at the Georgia Technology Authority, so campaigners wrote to him as well. Mr Powell responded he was "not sure what you mean by the words 'please provide written certification documents' ".

"If the machines were not certified, then right there the election was illegal," Mr Wright says. The secretary of state's office has yet to demonstrate anything to the contrary. The investigating citizens then considered the nature of the software itself. Shortly after the election, a Diebold technician called Rob Behler came forward and reported that, when the machines were about to be shipped to Georgia polling stations in the summer of 2002, they performed so erratically that their software had to be amended with a last-minute "patch". Instead of being transmitted via disk - a potentially time-consuming process, especially since its author was in Canada, not Georgia - the patch was posted, along with the entire election software package, on an open-access FTP, or file transfer protocol site, on the internet. That, according to computer experts, was a violation of the most basic of security precautions, opening all sorts of possibilities for the introduction of rogue or malicious code. At the same time, however, it gave campaigners a golden opportunity to circumvent Diebold's own secrecy demands and see exactly how the system worked. Roxanne Jekot, a computer programmer with 20 years' experience, and an occasional teacher at Lanier Technical College northeast of Atlanta, did a line-by-line review and found "enough to stand your hair on end".

"There were security holes all over it," she says, "from the most basic display of the ballot on the screen all the way through the operating system." Although the programme was designed to be run on the Windows 2000 NT operating system, which has numerous safeguards to keep out intruders, Ms Jekot found it worked just fine on the much less secure Windows 98; the 2000 NT security features were, as she put it, "nullified".

Also embedded in the software were the comments of the programmers working on it. One described what he and his colleagues had just done as "a gross hack". Elsewhere was the remark: "This doesn't really work." "Not a confidence builder, would you say?" Ms Jekot says. "They were operating in panic mode, cobbling together something that would work for the moment, knowing that at some point they would have to go back to figure out how to make it work more permanently." She found some of the code downright suspect - for example, an overtly meaningless instruction to divide the number of write-in votes by 1. "From a logical standpoint there is absolutely no reason to do that," she says. "It raises an immediate red flag."

Mostly, though, she was struck by the shoddiness of much of the programming. "I really expected to have some difficulty reviewing the source code because it would be at a higher level than I am accustomed to," she says. "In fact, a lot of this stuff looked like the homework my first-year students might have turned in." Diebold had no specific comment on Ms Jekot's interpretations, offering only a blanket caution about the complexity of election systems "often not well understood by individuals with little real-world experience".

But Ms Jekot was not the only one to examine the Diebold software and find it lacking. In July, a group of researchers from the Information Security Institute at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore discovered what they called "stunning flaws". These included putting the password in the source code, a basic security no-no; manipulating the voter smart-card function so one person could cast more than one vote; and other loopholes that could theoretically allow voters' ballot choices to be altered without their knowledge, either on the spot or by remote access.

Diebold issued a detailed response, saying that the Johns Hopkins report was riddled with false assumptions, inadequate information and "a multitude of false conclusions". Substantially similar findings, however, were made in a follow-up study on behalf of the state of Maryland, in which a group of computer security experts catalogued 328 software flaws, 26 of them critical, putting the whole system "at high risk of compromise". "If these vulnerabilities are exploited, significant impact could occur on the accuracy, integrity, and availability of election results," their report says.

Ever since the Johns Hopkins study, Diebold has sought to explain away the open FTP file as an old, incomplete version of its election package. The claim cannot be independently verified, because of the trade-secrecy agreement, and not everyone is buying it. "It is documented throughout the code who changed what and when. We have the history of this programme from 1996 to 2002," Ms Jekot says. "I have no doubt this is the software used in the elections." Diebold now says it has upgraded its encryption and password features - but only on its Maryland machines.

A key security question concerned compatibility with Microsoft Windows, and Ms Jekot says just three programmers, all of them senior Diebold executives, were involved in this aspect of the system. One of these, Diebold's vice-president of research and development, Talbot Iredale, wrote an e-mail in April 2002 - later obtained by the campaigners - making it clear that he wanted to shield the operating system from Wylie Labs, an independent testing agency involved in the early certification process.

The reason that emerges from the e-mail is that he wanted to make the software compatible with WinCE 3.0, an operating system used for handhelds and PDAs; in other words, a system that could be manipulated from a remote location. "We do not want Wyle [sic] reviewing and certifying the operating systems," the e-mail reads. "Therefore can we keep to a minimum the references to the WinCE 3.0 operating system."

In an earlier intercepted e-mail, this one from Ken Clark in Diebold's research and development department, the company explained upfront to another independent testing lab that the supposedly secure software system could be accessed without a password, and its contents easily changed using the Microsoft Access programme. Mr Clark says he had considered putting in a password requirement to stop dealers and customers doing "stupid things", but that the easy access had often "got people out of a bind". Astonishingly, the representative from the independent testing lab did not see anything wrong with this and granted certification to the part of the software programme she was inspecting - a pattern of lackadaisical oversight that was replicated all the way to the top of the political chain of command in Georgia, and in many other parts of the country.

Diebold has not contested the authenticity of the e-mails, now openly accessible on the internet. However, Diebold did caution that, as the e-mails were taken from a Diebold Election systems website in March 2003 by an illegal hack, the nature of the information stolen could have been revised or manipulated.

There are two reasons why the United States is rushing to overhaul its voting systems. The first is the Florida débâcle in the Bush-Gore election; no state wants to be the centre of that kind of attention again. And the second is the Help America Vote Act (HAVA), signed by President Bush last October, which promises an unprecedented $3.9bn (£2.3bn) to the states to replace their old punchcard-and-lever machines. However, enthusiasm for the new technology seems to be motivated as much by a bureaucratic love of spending as by a love of democratic accountability. According to Rebecca Mercuri, a research fellow at Harvard's John F Kennedy School of Government and a specialist in voting systems, the shockingly high error rate of punchcard machines (3-5 per cent in Florida in 2000) has been known to people in the elections business for years. It was only after it became public knowledge in the last presidential election that anybody felt moved to do anything about it.

The problem is, computer touchscreen machines and other so-called DRE (direct recording electronic) systems are significantly less reliable than punchcards, irrespective of their vulnerability to interference. In a series of research papers for the Voting Technology Project, a joint venture of the prestigious Massachussetts and California Institutes of Technology, DREs were found to be among the worst performing systems. No method, the MIT/CalTech study conceded, worked more reliably than hand-counting paper ballots - an option that US electoral officials seem to consider hopelessly antiquated, or at least impractical in elections combining multiple local, state and national races for offices from President down to dogcatcher.

The clear disadvantages and dangers associated with DREs have not deterred state and county authorities from throwing themselves headlong into touchscreen technology. More than 40,000 machines made by Diebold alone are already in use in 37 states, and most are touchscreens. County after county is poised to spend hundreds of millions of dollars more on computer voting before next spring's presidential primaries. "They say this is the direction they have to go in to have fair elections, but the rush to go towards computerisation is very dubious," Dr Mercuri says. "One has to wonder why this is going on, because the way it is set up it takes away the checks and balances we have in a democratic society. That's the whole point of paper trails and recounts."

Anyone who has struggled with an interactive display in a museum knows how dodgy touchscreens can be. If they don't freeze, they easily become misaligned, which means they can record the wrong data. In Dallas, during early voting before last November's election, people found that no matter how often they tried to press a Democrat button, the Republican candidate's name would light up. After a court hearing, Diebold agreed to take down 18 machines with apparent misalignment problems. "And those were the ones where you could visually spot a problem," Dr Mercuri says. "What about what you don't see? Just because your vote shows up on the screen for the Democrats, how do you know it is registering inside the machine for the Democrats?"

Other problems have shown up periodically: machines that register zero votes, or machines that indicate voters coming to the polling station but not voting, even when a single race with just two candidates was on the ballot. Dr Mercuri was part of a lawsuit in Palm Beach County in which she and other plaintiffs tried to have a suspect Sequoia machine examined, only to run up against the brick wall of the trade-secret agreement. "It makes it really hard to show their product has been tampered with," she says, "if it's a felony to inspect it."

As for the possibilities of foul play, Dr Mercuri says they are virtually limitless. "There are literally hundreds of ways to do this," she says. "There are hundreds of ways to embed a rogue series of commands into the code and nobody would ever know because the nature of programming is so complex. The numbers would all tally perfectly." Tampering with an election could be something as simple as a "denial-of-service" attack, in which the machines simply stop working for an extended period, deterring voters faced with the prospect of long lines. Or it could be done with invasive computer codes known in the trade by such nicknames as "Trojan horses" or "Easter eggs". Detecting one of these, Dr Mercuri says, would be almost impossible unless the investigator knew in advance it was there and how to trigger it. Computer researcher Theresa Hommel, who is alarmed by touchscreen systems, has constructed a simulated voting machine in which the same candidate always wins, no matter what data you put in. She calls her model the Fraud-o-matic, and it is available online at www.wheresthepaper.org.

It is not just touchscreens which are at risk from error or malicious intrusion. Any computer system used to tabulate votes is vulnerable. An optical scan of ballots in Scurry County, Texas, last November erroneously declared a landslide victory for the Republican candidate for county commissioner; a subsequent hand recount showed that the Democrat had in fact won. In Comal County, Texas, a computerised optical scan found that three different candidates had won their races with exactly 18,181 votes. There was no recount or investigation, even though the coincidence, with those recurring 1s and 8s, looked highly suspicious. In heavily Democrat Broward County, Florida - which had switched to touchscreens in the wake of the hanging chad furore - more than 100,000 votes were found to have gone "missing" on election day. The votes were reinstated, but the glitch was not adequately explained. One local official blamed it on a "minor software thing".

Most suspect of all was the governor's race in Alabama, where the incumbent Democrat, Don Siegelman, was initially declared the winner. Sometime after midnight, when polling station observers and most staff had gone home, the probate judge responsible for elections in rural Baldwin County suddenly "discovered" that Mr Siegelman had been awarded 7,000 votes too many. In a tight election, the change was enough to hand victory to his Republican challenger, Bob Riley. County officials talked vaguely of a computer tabulation error, or a lightning strike messing up the machines, but the real reason was never ascertained because the state's Republican attorney general refused to authorise a recount or any independent ballot inspection.

According to an analysis by James Gundlach, a sociology professor at Auburn University in Alabama, the result in Baldwin County was full of wild deviations from the statistical norms established both by this and preceding elections. And he adds: "There is simply no way that electronic vote counting can produce two sets of results without someone using computer programmes in ways that were not intended. In other words, the fact that two sets of results were reported is sufficient evidence in and of itself that the vote tabulation process was compromised."

Although talk of voting fraud quickly subsided, Alabama has now amended its election laws to make recounts mandatory in close races. The possibility of flaws in the electoral process is not something that gets discussed much in the United States. The attitude seems to be: we are the greatest democracy in the world, so the system must be fair. That has certainly been the prevailing view in Georgia, where even leading Democrats - their prestige on the line for introducing touchscreen voting in the first place - have fought tooth-and-nail to defend the integrity of the system. In a phone interview, the head of the Georgia Technology Authority who brought Diebold machines to the state, Larry Singer, blamed the growing chorus of criticism on "fear of technology", despite the fact that many prominent critics are themselves computer scientists. He says: "Are these machines flawless? No. Would you have more confidence if they were completely flawless? Yes. Is there such a thing as a flawless system? No." Mr Singer, who left the GTA straight after the election and took a 50 per cent pay cut to work for Sun Microsystems, insists that voters are more likely to have their credit card information stolen by a busboy in a restaurant than to have their vote compromised by touchscreen technology.

Voting machines are sold in the United States in much the same way as other government contracts: through intensive lobbying, wining and dining. At a recent national conference of clerks, election officials and treasurers in Denver, attendees were treated to black-tie dinners and other perks, including free expensive briefcases stamped with Sequoia's company logo alongside the association's own symbol. Nobody in power seems to find this worrying, any more than they worried when Sequoia's southern regional sales manager, Phil Foster, was indicted in Louisiana a couple of years ago for "conspiracy to commit money laundering and malfeasance". The charges were dropped in exchange for his testimony against Louisiana's state commissioner of elections. Similarly, last year, the Arkansas secretary of state, Bill McCuen, pleaded guilty to taking bribes and kickbacks involving a precursor company to ES&S; the voting machine company executive who testified against him in exchange for immunity is now an ES&S vice-president.

If much of the worry about vote-tampering is directed at the Republicans, it is largely because the big three touchscreen companies are all big Republican donors, pouring hundreds of thousands of dollars into party coffers in the past few years. The ownership issue is, of course, compounded by the lack of transparency. Or, as Dr Mercuri puts it: "If the machines were independently verifiable, who would give a crap who owns them?" As it is, fears that US democracy is being hijacked by corporate interests are being fuelled by links between the big three and broader business interests, as well as extremist organisations. Two of the early backers of American Information Systems, a company later merged into ES&S, are also prominent supporters of the Chalcedon Foundation, an organisation that espouses theocratic governance according to a literal reading of the Bible and advocates capital punishment for blasphemy and homosexuality.

The chief executive of American Information Systems in the early Nineties was Chuck Hagel, who went on to run for elective office and became the first Republican in 24 years to be elected to the Senate from Nebraska, cheered on by the Omaha World-Herald newspaper which also happens to be a big investor in ES&S. In yet another clamorous conflict of interest, 80 per cent of Mr Hagel's winning votes - both in 1996 and again in 2002 - were counted, under the usual terms of confidentiality, by his own company.

In theory, the federal government should be monitoring the transition to computer technology and rooting out abuses. Under the Help America Vote Act, the Bush administration is supposed to establish a sizeable oversight committee, headed by two Democrats and two Republicans, as well as a technical panel to determine standards for new voting machinery. The four commission heads were supposed to have been in place by last February, but so far just one has been appointed. The technical panel also remains unconstituted, even though the new machines it is supposed to vet are already being sold in large quantities - a state of affairs Dr Mercuri denounces as "an abomination".

One of the conditions states have to fulfil to receive federal funding for the new voting machines, meanwhile, is a consolidation of voter rolls at state rather than county level. This provision sends a chill down the spine of anyone who has studied how Florida consolidated its own voter rolls just before the 2000 election, purging the names of tens of thousands of eligible voters, most of them African Americans and most of them Democrats, through misuse of an erroneous list of convicted felons commissioned by Katherine Harris, the secretary of state doubling as George Bush's Florida campaign manager. Despite a volley of lawsuits, the incorrect list was still in operation in last November's mid-terms, raising all sorts of questions about what other states might now do with their own voter rolls. It is not that the Act's consolidation provision is in itself evidence of a conspiracy to throw elections, but it does leave open that possibility.

Meanwhile, the administration has been pushing new voting technology of its own to help overseas citizens and military personnel, both natural Republican Party constituencies, to vote more easily over the internet. Internet voting is notoriously insecure and open to abuse by just about anyone with rudimentary hacking skills; just last January, an experiment in internet voting in Toronto was scuppered by a Slammer worm attack. Undeterred, the administration has gone ahead with its so-called SERVE project for overseas voting, via a private consortium made up of major defence contractors and a Saudi investment group. The contract for overseeing internet voting in the 2004 presidential election was recently awarded to Accenture, formerly part of the Arthur Andersen group (whose accountancy branch, a major campaign contributor to President Bush, imploded as a result of the Enron bankruptcy scandal).

Not everyone in the United States has fallen under the spell of the big computer voting companies, and there are signs of growing wariness. Oregon decided even before HAVA to conduct all its voting by mail. Wisconsin has decided it wants nothing to do with touchscreen machines without a verifiable paper trail, and New York is considering a similar injunction, at least for its state assembly races. In California, a Stanford computer science professor called David Dill is screaming from the rooftops on the need for a paper trail in his state, so far without result. And a New Jersey Congressman called Rush Holt has introduced a bill in the House of Representatives, the Voter Confidence and Increased Accessibility Act, asking for much the same thing. Not everyone is heeding the warnings, though. In Ohio, publication of the letter from Diebold's chief executive promising to deliver the state to President Bush in 2004 has not deterred the secretary of state - a Republican - from putting Diebold on a list of preferred voting-machine vendors. Similarly, in Maryland, officials have not taken the recent state-sponsored study identifying hundreds of flaws in the Diebold software as any reason to change their plans to use Diebold machines in March's presidential primary.

The question is whether the country will come to its senses before elections start getting distorted or tampered with on such a scale that the system becomes unmanageable. The sheer volume of money offered under HAVA is unlikely to be forthcoming again in a hurry, so if things aren't done right now it is doubtful the system can be fixed again for a long time. "This is frightening, really frightening," says Dr Mercuri, and a growing number of reasonable people are starting to agree with her. One such is John Zogby, arguably the most reliable pollster in the United States, who has freely admitted he "blew" last November's elections and does not exclude the possibility that foul play was one of the factors knocking his calculations off course. "We're ploughing into a brave new world here," he says, "where there are so many variables aside from out-and-out corruption that can change elections, especially in situations where the races are close. We have machines that break down, or are tampered with, or are simply misunderstood. It's a cause for great concern."

Roxanne Jekot, who has put much of her professional and personal life on hold to work on the issue full time, puts it even more strongly. "Corporate America is very close to running this country. The only thing that is stopping them from taking total control are the pesky voters. That's why there's such a drive to control the vote. What we're seeing is the corporatisation of the last shred of democracy.

"I feel that unless we stop it here and stop it now," she says, "my kids won't grow up to have a right to vote at all."

The Independent / UK

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Da Prez - Past Work Experience

George W. Bush
The White House, USA

I ran for U.S. Congress and lost.

I produced a Hollywood slasher B movie.

I bought an oil company, but couldn't find any oil in Texas; the company
went bankrupt shortly after I sold all my stock.

I bought the Texas Rangers baseball team in a sweetheart deal that took land using taxpayer money.

With my father's help and name, I was elected Governor of Texas.

Accomplishments as Governor

I changed pollution laws in favor of the power and oil companies and made Texas the most polluted state in the Union.

I replaced Los Angeles with Houston as the most smog-ridden city in America.

I cut taxes and bankrupted Texas government to the tune of billions in
borrowed money.

I set the record for the most executions by any Governor in American history.

I became U.S. President after losing the popular vote by over 500,000 votes with the help of major Enron money and my father's appointments to the
Supreme Court.

Accomplishments as President

I attacked and overtook two countries.

I spent the U.S. surplus and effectively bankrupted the U.S. Treasury.

I shattered the record for the largest annual deficit in U.S. history.

I set an economic record for most private bankruptcies filed in any 12-month period.

I set the all-time record for the biggest drop in the history of the U.S.
stock market.

My record for environmental issues is the least of my concerns.

I am the first president in U.S. history to enter office with a criminal record.

I set the all-time record for most days on vacation in any one year period.

After taking-off the entire month of August, I then presided over the worst security failure in U.S. history.

I am supporting development of a "Tactical Bunker Buster" nuke, a WMD.

I am getting our troops killed, under the lie of Sadam's procurement of Yellow Cake Nuke WMD components, then blaming the lie on our British friends.

I set the record for most campaign fund-raising trips by a U.S. president.

In my first year in office over 2-million Americans lost their jobs and that trend continues every month.

I set the all-time record for most foreclosures in a 12-month period.

I appointed more convicted criminals to administration than any president in U.S. history.

I set the record for least amount of press conferences than any president since the advent of television.

I signed more laws and executive orders effectively amending or ignoring the
Constitution than any president in history.

I presided over the biggest energy crisis in U.S. history and refused to intervene when corruption involving the oil industry was revealed.

I presided over the highest gasoline prices in U.S. history and refused to use national reserves as past presidents have done.

I have cut health care benefits for war veterans and support a cut in duty benefits for active duty troops and their families -- in war time.

I have set the all-time record for most people worldwide to simultaneously protest me in public venues (15 million people) shattering the record for protest against any person in the history of mankind.

I've dissolved more international treaties than any president in U.S. history.

I've made my presidency the most secretive and unaccountable of any in U.S. history.

I'm proud that the members of my cabinet are the richest of any administration in U.S. history.

My "poorest millionaire," Condoleeza Rice, has a Chevron oil tanker named after her.

I am the first president in U.S. history to have almost all 50 states of the Union simultaneously suffer massive financial crisis.

I presided over the biggest corporate stock market fraud of any market in any country in history.

I am the first president in U.S. history to order a pre-emptive attack and the military occupation of a sovereign nation, and I did so against the will of the United Nations and the world community.

I created the largest government department bureaucracy in the history of the United States.

I set the all-time record for biggest annual budget spending increases, more than any president in history.

I am the first president in U.S. history to have the United Nations remove the U.S. from the Human Rights Commission.

I am the first president in U.S. history to have the United Nations remove the U.S. from the Elections Monitoring Board.

I removed more checks and balances, and have the least amount of congressional oversight than any presidential administration in U.S. history.

I rendered the entire United Nations viewpoints irrelevant.

I withdrew the U.S. from the World Court of Law.

I refused to allow inspectors access to U.S. "prisoners of war" (detainees) and thereby have refused to abide by the Geneva Convention.

I am the first president in history to refuse United Nations election inspectors (during the 2002 U.S. election).

I am the all-time U.S. and world record-holder for receiving the most corporate campaign donations.

My largest lifetime campaign contributor, and one of my best friends, (Kenneth Lay, former CEO of Enron Corporation) presided over the largest corporate bankruptcy fraud in U.S. history. My political party used the Enron private jets and corporate attorneys to assure my success with the U.S. Supreme Court during my election decision.

I have spent more money on polls and focus groups than any president in U.S. history.

I garnered the most sympathy for the U.S. after the World Trade Center attacks and less than a year later made the U.S. the most resented country in the world, possibly the largest failure of diplomacy in World history.

I am actively working on a policy of "disengagement" creating the most hostile of Israel-Palestine relations in at least 30 years.

I am the first president in history to have a majority of Europeans (71%) view my presidency as the biggest threat to world peace and security.

I am the first U.S. president in history to have the people of South Korea more threatened by the U.S. than by their immediate neighbor, North Korea.

I changed the U.S. policy to allow convicted criminals to be awarded government contracts.

I set an all-time record for the number of administration appointees who violated U.S. law by not selling their huge personal investments in corporations bidding for U.S. contracts.

I failed to fulfill my pledge to capture Osama Bin Laden, dead or alive.

I failed to capture the anthrax killer who tried to murder the leaders of our country at the U.S. Capitol Building. Even after 18 months I have no leads and no credible suspects.

In the past 18 months following the World Trade Center attack I have successfully prevented any public investigation into the biggest security failure in the history of the United States.

I removed more freedoms and civil liberties for Americans than any president in U.S. history.

In a little over two years, I created the most divided country in decades, possibly the most divided since the Civil War.

I entered my office with the strongest economy in U.S. history and have turned every single economic category downward -- all in less than two years.

Records and References:

I have at least one conviction for drunk driving in Maine. My Texas driving record has been erased and is not available.

I was AWOL from the National Guard.

I refuse to take a drug test or even answer any questions about drug use.

All records of my tenure as Governor of Texas are now in my father's library, sealed, and unavailable or public view.

All records of SEC investigations into insider trading or bankrupt companies are sealed in secrecy and unavailable for public view.

All records or minutes from meetings that I, or my Vice-President, attended regarding public energy policy are sealed in secrecy and unavailable for public review.

~ Please consider my experience when voting in 2004. ~

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Letter from State Senator Rodney Ellis -
Democracy under attack in Texas


August 18, 2003

Dear friends,

I am writing to you from a hotel room in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where I and 10 of my colleagues in the Texas Senate have been forced to reside for the past 20 days. If we return to our homes, families, friends, and constituents, the Governor of Texas will have us arrested.

I know, it sounds more like a banana republic than the dignified democracy on which we have long prided ourselves. We are effectively exiled from the state due to our unalterable opposition to a Republican effort -- pushed by Tom Delay and Karl Rove, and led by Texas Governor Rick Perry -- that would rewrite the map of Texas Congressional districts in order to elect at least 5 more Republicans to Congress.

You may not have heard much about the current breakdown in Texas politics. The Republican power play in California has obscured the Republican power play in Texas that has forced my colleagues and me to leave the state.

Recognizing that public pressure is the only thing that can break the current stalemate, our friends at MoveOn have offered to support our efforts by sharing this email with you. In it, you will find:

Background information on how the situation in Texas developed;
Analysis of what's at stake for Democrats and the democratic process; and
How you can help by contacting Texas politicians, signing our petition, contributing funds, and forwarding this email!

The Republican redistricting effort shatters the tradition of performing redistricting only once a decade immediately after the Census -- making redistricting a perpetual partisan process. It elevates partisan politics above minority voting rights, in contravention of the federal Voting Rights Act. It intends to decimate the Democratic party in Texas, and lock in a Republican majority in the U.S. House of Representatives. And Republican efforts to force a vote on this issue by changing the rules of legislative procedure threaten to undermine the rule of law in Texas.

We do not take lightly our decision to leave the state. It was the only means left to us under the rules of procedure in Texas to block this injustice. We are fighting for our principles and beliefs, and we can win this fight with your support.

Sincerely,

Rodney Ellis
Texas State Senator (Houston)

Background

During the 2001 session of the Texas Legislature, the legislature was unable to pass a Congressional redistricting plan as it is required to do following the decennial Census. A three judge federal panel was forced to draw the plan. Neither Governor Rick Perry or then Attorney General John Cornyn, both Republicans, objected to the plan, which was reviewed and approved by the U.S. Supreme Court.

The 2002 Congressional elections, the first held under the new redistricting plan, resulted in a Congressional delegation from Texas consisting of 17 Democrats and 15 Republicans. However, five of the 17 Democrats prevailed only because they were able to win the support of Republican and independent voters. All statewide Republican candidates carried these five districts. Most experts agree that the current plan has 20 strong or leaning Republican districts and 12 Democratic districts.

Meanwhile, the 2001 redistricting of Texas legislative seats (which was enacted by the Republican-controlled Legislative Redistricting Board, after the legislature again gridlocked in its efforts) resulted in wide Republican majorities in both the Texas House and Texas Senate. Now Tom Delay has made it his priority to force the Republican-controlled Legislature to enact a new redistricting plan to increase the number of Republican-leaning Congressional districts. Republicans believe they can manipulate the districts to elect as many as 22 Republicans out of the 32 member Texas Congressional delegation. They achieve this by packing minority voters into as few districts as possible and breaking apart rural districts so that the impact of independent voters will be reduced and suburban Republican voters will dominate.

During the regular session of the Texas Legislature, Democratic members of the Texas House of Representatives exercised an unprecedented parliamentary move to prevent the House from passing Tom Delay's redistricting plan. While Democrats are in the minority of the House of Representatives, the state constitution requires that at least 2/3 of the House be present for the House to pass a bill. Because it was clear that the Republicans would entertain no debate and brook no compromise in their effort to rewrite the rules by which members of Congress are elected, the Democrats were forced to break the quorum to prevent the bill from passing. Because the Republican Speaker of the House and Governor called on state law enforcement officials to physically compel the Democrats to return, the lawmakers removed themselves to a Holiday Inn in Ardmore, Oklahoma -- outside the reach of state troops(1). In there effort to apprehend the Democrats, Tom Delay officially sought the help of the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Transportation and the Department of Justice.

The House Democrats (nicknamed the "Killer D's", based on an earlier episode in Texas history in which a group of Democratic state senators called the "Killer Bees" broke the quorum in the Senate over a similarly political stalemate) succeeded in stopping Delay's redistricting plan during the regular session, returning to Texas after the legislative deadline had expired for the House to pass legislation. However, because the Texas Legislature meets in regular session only every two years, the state constitution gives the Governor the power to call a 30-day special legislative session at any time between regular sessions. Despite statewide protests from Texas citizens who oppose Tom Delay's redistricting plan, the Governor has called two special sessions(2) already this summer to attempt to force the legislature to enact a new plan.

The first called session expired in a deadlock, as 12 of 31 Texas Senators(3) opposed the plan. Under Senate rules and tradition, a 2/3 vote is required to consider any bill on the floor of the Senate, giving 11 Senators the power to block a vote(4). The Republican Governor and Lieutenant Governor then determined they would do away with the 2/3 rule, and called another special session, forcing 11 Democratic Senators to break the quorum and leave the state.(5) These Senators have spent the past 22 days in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

The Governor has indicated he will continue calling special sessions until the Republican redistricting plan is enacted, despite the fact that the Republican-controlled Texas Supreme Court recently rejected the Governor's writ of mandamus filing to compel the Senators to return to the Senate. Meanwhile, eleven Democratic state senators are exiled from their state, unable to be with their families, friends, and constituents, for fear of being arrested as part of a partisan power play by Republicans. In the most recent indignity, Republican Senators voted to fine the absent Democrats up to $5,000 per day, and to revoke parking and other privileges for their staffs as long as the Senators are away.

What's at stake

At stake, on the surface, is whether Tom Delay will succeed in exploiting Republican control of the Texas Legislature to add to the Republican majority in the United States Congress. But deeper issues are also at stake.

If the Republicans succeed in redrawing the Texas Congressional lines to guarantee the election of five to seven more Republicans, it will ensure that Republicans hold the majority in the U.S. House of Representatives for the entire decade and will likely result in Tom Delay becoming Speaker of the House.(6)

The Republican advantage would be gained by removing many African American and Hispanic voters from their current Congressional districts and "packing" them into a few districts that already have Democratic majorities. The voting power of these minority voters would be dramatically diluted by the Republican plan, in contravention of the federal Voting Rights Act. If the Republicans succeed, over 1.4 million African American and Hispanic voters will be harmed. It would be the largest disenfranchisement of minority voters since the Voting Rights Act was passed.

Redistricting exists for the purpose of reapportioning voters among political districts to account for population shifts. The purpose of this reapportionment is to ensure a roughly equal number of voters in each district, to preserve the principle of "one man, one vote."(7) For this reason, redistricting has always been conducted immediately following the U.S. Census' decennial population reports. Tom Delay now proposes a new redistricting plan two years after the Census report simply because Republicans gained control over the Texas Legislature in 2002 and now have the power to enact a much more Republican-friendly plan than the one drawn by the federal courts two years ago. This is an unprecedented approach to redistricting, one that subordinates its original purpose of ensuring the principle of "one man, one vote" to the purpose of perpetual partisan politics. Redistricting, in this model, would never be a settled matter, and districts would constantly be in flux depending on the balance of political power in the Legislature.

The Texas Legislature has traditionally been defined by a spirit of bipartisanship and cooperation. This issue has polarized the legislature in a way that threatens to destroy that tradition. The Republicans have effectively exiled their Democratic counterparts in a power play that makes our state look more like a banana republic than a dignified democracy. The arbitrary decision to discard the 2/3 rule in the Senate sets a precedent that undermines that body's tradition of consensus and cooperation. The deployment of state law enforcement officials to apprehend boycotting legislators erodes the separation of powers between the executive and legislative branches of government, and diminishes legislators' ability to represent their constituents as they see fit. The unilateral Republican effort to penalize Democratic Senators and their staffs

What is needed

The Democratic Senators currently in Albuquerque have two critical needs. The first is to generate increased public awareness of the situation. By all reason, every day the Senators are out of the state this story should get bigger. Instead, news media have gradually lost interest in the story. The California recall has dominated the attention of the national media, and the Texas media has largely lost interest in the story -- out of sight, out of mind. Without public attention to this story, the Republicans have all the leverage -- if it does not cost them politically, it costs them nothing(8) to continue calling special sessions until the Texas 11 are forced to come home.

The second critical need is funding. The cost of hotels, meeting rooms, staff support, and public relations efforts is mounting. In addition, the Senators must defend themselves legally against Republican efforts to compel their return, while also filing legal claims against the Republican power play. The Senators are actively raising money for the Texas Senate Democratic Caucus Fund to offset these costs and prepare themselves for a stay of indefinite duration in Albuquerque.

Notes

1. A recent Department of Justice investigation chronicled Republican state officials' illegal attempts to use federal resources -- including anti-terrorism resources from the Department of Homeland Security -- to compel the Democratic lawmakers' return. See http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A51520-2003Aug12.html for a news report on the Justice Department investigation, or http://www.usdoj.gov/oig/special/03-08a/final.pdf for a copy of the complete Justice Department report.

2. At a cost to taxpayers of over $1.5 million per session.

3. House Republicans passed a redistricting bill in the special session despite an outpouring of public opposition in hearings across the state. All 12 Democratic state senators opposed the plan, along with Republican state senator (and former Lieutenant Governor) Bill Ratliff.

4. The "2/3 rule" requires the Senate to reach broader consensus on difficult issues than a simple majority vote. It is a combination of official Senate rules and tradition. The rules of the Senate require a 2/3 vote to suspend the "regular order of business" to consider a bill that is not the first bill on the Senate calendar. By tradition, the Senate has always placed a "blocker bill" at the top of the Senate calendar, so that every bill requires a suspension of the regular order of business to be considered. The process requires compromise and consensus to achieve a 2/3 majority on each bill. One Texas insider has said that the 2/3 rule is "what separates us from animals."

5. In fact, the Governor and Lt. Governor attempted to "surprise" the Senators by calling the second special one day early and "trap" them in the Senate Chamber. The Senators were able to escape the Capitol with literally minutes to spare.

6. Republican party activist Grover Norquist, head of the Washington D.C.-based Americans for Tax Reform, was quoted as follows in the August 17 Fort Worth Star Telegram: "Republicans will hold the House for the next decade through 2012 if Texas redistricts…It depresses the hell out of the Democrats and makes it doubly impossible to take the House and probably depresses their fund raising…Anything that helps strengthen the Republican leadership helps DeLay become speaker someday if he wants it."

7. Established in the landmark case Baker v. Carr, 369 U.S. 186 (1962)

8. Notwithstanding the millions of dollars it is costing taxpayers.

________________
Dear MoveOn member,
Impeachment. The 2000 Election. The California Recall. The pattern is becoming clear: there's a group of men in power who will do anything to consolidate that power, including undermining our democratic institutions. We've got to fight back. In Texas, they are fighting back. And while the world is focusing on the California mess, they are fighting alone. They need our help.

A partisan plan pushed by Karl Rove and Tom Delay will redistrict up to 7 Democrats out of Congress. Right now, 11 Democratic State Senators are hiding across state lines -- with the Texas Governor calling for their arrest -- to prevent this illegitimate plan from being strong-armed into law. They have put their reputations and careers on the line for all of us. A letter below from State Senator Rodney Ellis explains the situation in detail. Please read it, and then please help us launch a hard-hitting ad campaign to fight back in Texas. Whether you donate $5 or $5000, you will be helping to hold accountable reckless leaders who think they can get away with anything. Please contribute to this effort now:

http://moveon.org/texasads

The Texas special session that was called to gerrymander the Texas congressional districts ends early next week, and the pressure is building. These courageous leaders need to see real support now, or they won't be able to hold out.

Our numbers our great enough now to fight back effectively against these attacks on democracy. Please get even more people involved by forwarding this email to everyone you think would like to help.

Thanks,

--Zack and Wes
MoveOn.org PAC
August 20th, 2003

 

 

 

 

 

 

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