Monthly Archives: June 2016
How are our votes being stolen?
Let us count the ways…
By James Heddle and Mary Beth Brangan
As the fateful June 7 primary election day approached in 6 states, including California, a stellar group of election protection luminaries gathered on Memorial Day weekend in a private home in Santa Monica with about 100 of their closest friends. Their purpose, as that great American philosopher W.C. Fields once advised, was ‘to seize the bull by the tail and stare the situation squarely in the face.’
[ See videos of the meeting at the end of this article, or here: Don’t Let Them Steal Your Vote – Part 1
Part 2 ]
Not a Pretty Picture
Chaired by movie star and long-time political activist Mimi Kennedy, a panel including Harvey Wasserman, Bob Fitrakis, Greg Palast, Bev Harris and John Blakey compared notes on the myriad methods their investigations have uncovered that are destroying the validity of U.S. elections. Facing these facts is the first step in the daunting task of restoring election integrity in America’s very broken electoral system.
In this year’s primary season alone we have seen:
• Massive disenfranchisement caused by arbitrarily changing voters’ assigned precincts and then giving incorrect information on the changes.
• Chaos caused in predominately minority districts by reducing the number of precincts – and the number of machines per precinct – causing long lines and hours-long waits which turned away many voters with jobs or other time commitments.
• Arcane regulations which instructed poll workers to give unprecedented numbers of voters ‘provisional ballots,’ which are rarely counted.
• For example, in California, voters who registered ‘NPP’ for No Party Preference and were mailed a ballot, were not permitted to vote in the Democratic primary unless they took both the ballot and its envelope to a polling place and said the magic words, “I surrender this ballot and request a cross-over ballot.” Without those exact words, poll workers were instructed not to supply a ‘cross-over’ ballot AND not to inform the voter of the rule.
• Media outlets prematurely calling elections before all ballots are counted – or, in some cases, even cast.
• As of this writing, 2.6 million ballots yet to be counted for the California primary
But it gets worse.
Strip & Flip
The theme of the Santa Monica panel was set by a hot-off-the-press book just published by Fitrakis and Wasserman titled ‘The Strip & Flip Selection of 2016: The Five Jim Crows & Electronic Election Theft.’ [ Get it here: http://freepress.org/store.php ] This is the latest in a string of books the team has written in the last decade. They have had a ringside seat to both observe – and also fight against – the increasing corruption of the U.S. electoral system, based, as they are in Columbus, Ohio, capitol of a key swing state. In 2012, Fitrakis’s threatened lawsuit in Ohio state court prevented the planned electronic theft of the election and saved Obama’s election victory.
[See “Swing State: How the Fix Was Nixed in Ohio 2012” ]
Election Theft, as American as Apple Pie
Intentional disenfranchisement of potential voters in order to favor selected demographic sectors is simple in concept, if complex in means. It has been a part of the American electoral landscape from the git-go. Eliminating legitimate voters from the voter rolls by various tactics – that’s the ‘strip’ part. Skewing the ballot count in order to produce desired outcome percentages – that’s the ‘flip’ part – also achieved by multiple mechanisms, as we shall see.
“Not every conspiracy is a theory.”
The ad slogan for the current thriller ‘Money Monsters’ actually gets it right. Though poo-pooed as ‘conspiracy theory’ by pundits and vote fraud denialists across the political spectrum, Bob & Harvey’s work – in combination with the work of many other investigator/activists including co-panel members Bev Harris, Greg Palast,, Mimi Kennedy and John Blakey – has incontrovertibly revealed the plethora of means by which America’s electoral system has now been stripped of the last vestiges of whatever trustworthiness it may have ever actually possessed.
A short run down follows – to be expanded upon below – of issues discussed by the panel.
But, keep in mind that, for brevity, the list does not include additional key related issues, such as: unlimited campaign spending by anonymous persons and non-voting corporate entities and their surrogates – even from foreign states or agents; mainstream media’s biased reporting; manipulations by party officials; ‘super delegate’ and ‘contested convention’ schemes; the counter-democracy Electoral College; or the ‘gerrymandering-on-steroids’ REDMAP redistricting process carried out by Republicans following the 2010 election, which left them in control of the House of Representatives and many key state legislatures until at least 2020, when the next census-based re-districting is scheduled. The latter major ploy is well documented in David Daley’s recent book “Rat F**ked: The True Story Behind the Secret Plan to Steal America’s Democracy.”)
Here’s the short list from the Santa Monica panel presentations:
• Massive electronic purging of legitimate voters from voter rolls across the country
• Massive vote suppression and disenfranchisement by myriad means on a national scale
• Virtually decisive control of voter rolls without detection; vote counting and reporting by privately owned, secret, electronic devices and computer programs specifically designed to steal elections through cyber chicanery.
The Five Jim Crows
It all started with the constitution, Wasserman explained, a document drafted in secret, behind closed doors by a tiny elite of propertied white men, and rammed through to ratification by the states through electoral manipulation. It denied voting rights to women and to males without property, but contained the “3/5ths clause” that gave slave owners congressional representation for their slaves despite the fact that the slaves themselves couldn’t vote.
The so-called Three-Fifths Compromise is in Article 1, Section 2, Paragraph 3 of the United States Constitution:
Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole Number of free Persons, including those bound to Service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other Persons.
The effect, according to Wikipedia, “was to give the southern states a third more seats in Congress and a third more electoral votes than if slaves had been ignored, but fewer than if slaves and free persons had been counted equally, allowing the slaveholder interests to largely dominate the government of the United States until 1861.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Three-Fifths_Compromise
It was also a divide-and-conquer strategy to make sure black and white laborers would never again unite in revolting as they did in Virginia in 1675 in what’s called Bacon’s Rebellion.
Fitrakis and Wasserman call that ‘the First Jim Crow.’ After the Civil War and emancipation, they explain, Supreme Court rulings, KuKluxKlan terror, black lynchings, literacy tests and other apartheid strategies established the ‘Second Jim Crow,’ that “again guaranteed that blacks in the South (and parts of the North) would not be allowed to vote, and that they would be carefully divided from whites by caste as well as class.”
The Third Jim Crow was/is the ‘War on Drugs’ initiated by Richard Nixon to combat the liberalization of the southern Democratic Party, the anti-war movement and the rise of the Black Power movement. As Nixon administration official John Erlichman recently explained to Harper’s interviewer Dan Blum,
“The Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon White House after that, had two enemies: the antiwar left and black people. You understand what I’m saying? We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.” https://harpers.org/archive/2016/04/legalize-it-all/
Young, left-leaning Latinos were also caught up in the Drug War dragnet. Now, 45 years later, 41 million (mostly people of color) have been jailed for pot and other controlled substances, making private corporate prisons a growth industry, and giving the U.S. the highest prison population in the world. Though having no significant impact on drug use, the Drug War has disenfranchised millions of potential voters, and continues to do so today. Michelle Alexander’s recent book The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness shows how one system of race-based disenfranchisement has been replaced by another.
The Fourth Jim Crow, explain the authors, was born of America’s push to establish what they call “a race-based global empire” with a long series of foreign interventions – also continuing today – which “involved the white-ruled US interfering with the political systems of non-white nations.”
The impact of these interventions on our own political system, say Wasserman and Fitrakis, has been catastrophic. “They’ve established the US as a corporate-ruled race-based empire, fueling the growth of a military whose intrinsic power overshadows our entire electoral process…and set the stage for…the Fifth Jim Crow – the electronic flipping of our elections.”
Engineering Vote Fraud Abroad Comes Home to Roost
Manipulation of election outcomes in other countries has been developed into a high art by such US agencies as the CIA, USAID and other so-called ‘democracy promotion’ projects fielded abroad by both the Republican and Democratic parties.
Note the authors, “Overseas, the CIA began to apply advanced electronics to the art and science of election theft. By the 1970’s, in front of the Church Committee, the Agency admitted to already having manipulated countless Third World elections to protect America’s corporate and ‘national security’ interests.” They trace the subsequent development of electronic voting technology techniques, corporations and institutions up to the present day, when up to 80% of US votes in the coming presidential election will be electronically mediated. In line with the adage that ‘what goes around, comes around,’ American expertise in foreign nations’ electronic vote rigging has now come home to compromise the integrity and validity of our own system, big time.
The New Jim Crow – “Interstate Crosscheck”
Panel member investigative journalist Greg Palast has been researching and reporting on this process for going on two decades for such outlets abroad as the BBC and the Guardian news paper. Still, like the proverbial ‘prophet without honor in his own country,’ Palast states with deep frustration that he still has a hell of a time getting American so-called ‘mainstream’ media to pay any attention to his explosive exposes.
Now reporting for Rolling Stone, he is also using crowd funding to produce a forth-coming documentary titled, The Best Democracy Money Can Buy: A Tale of Billionaires and Ballot Bandits
In his presentation in Santa Monica Palast debunked claims by Donald Trump and others that ‘millions of people’ are committing ‘voter fraud’ by ‘voting more than once.’ Describing what he calls ‘the next, or Sixth Jim Crow,’ he reported that 29 state election officials across the country have announced the creation of what they call ‘The Interstate Crosscheck.’ Touted as a defense against mythical individual ‘voter fraud’ the system purports to identify people who are voting more than once, sometimes in multiple states, and purge them from polling lists.
In actuality, in violation of the Voting Rights Act, says Palast, the program uses census data to identify African American voters – tagged ‘BLA’ for black– with similar common names and fraudulently remove them from voter lists.
In the history of the South, when slaves were finally freed, they were often registered by their masters’ surnames. As a result, to this day, many black persons carry the same or similar names, thus facilitating the “Interstate Crosscheck” scam.
Based on his findings, Palast says, “We expect 1 million voters – almost all of them voters of color – to lose their right to vote in 29 Republican-controlled states before the November election.”
But, he is quick to point out, it isn’t just Republicans who regularly mess with elections. As questionable outcomes in this primary suggest, “the Democrats are dirty,” Palast says, pointing out that Democrats invented Jim Crow, which Nixon just adopted for his so-called ‘southern strategy.’
Palast admits to being tired of being a ‘reporter in exile,’ and hopes that, now that he is reporting for Rolling Stone, he can finally come home and report his investigative findings to his own countrymen “who need to know this stuff!”
“Fraction Magic” – A Digital Thumb on the Scale: Fractionalization & Decimalization of Votes
Harking back to the infamous “3/5ths clause” described above, what if you were hired to write a vote-counting program that could assign various arbitrary decimal or fractional values to each and all of the votes counted and come up with desired percentages for every candidate and contest?
To use a simple-minded butcher’s scale analogy: What if your program assigned a vote for Hillary the arbitrary ‘weight’ of 2 pounds, and assigned a Bernie vote just a weight of 1 pound?
Then, in a given race, Bernie got 200 votes and Hillary got 150 votes.
If you just added up the total votes for each candidate, you would call the election for Bernie with a 50-vote lead.
But, if your private, proprietary, secret counting program totaled their votes by the artificial ‘weights’ it arbitrarily assigned to them, you would announce Hillary the winner with a 300 to 200-vote lead.
That, ladies and gentlemen, is the intentionally programed ‘glitch’ that BlackBoxVoting.org founder Bev Harris and her colleague, IT expert Bennie Smith have discovered in a significant number of America’s vote counting systems. It is achieved via ‘fractionalization’ or ‘decimalization.’
They explain that it works like this: “Instead of “1” the vote is allowed to be 1/2, or 1+7/8, or any other value that is not a whole number.”
That allows ‘weighting’ of selected electoral contests. “Weighting a race removes the principle of ‘one person-one vote’ to allow some votes to be counted as less than one or more than one. Regardless of what the real votes are, candidates can receive a set percentage of votes. Results can be controlled. For example, Candidate A can be assigned 44% of the votes, Candidate B 51%, and Candidate C the rest.”
On her excellent webite BlackBoxVoting.org, Harris and Smith report,
…the results of our review of the GEMS election management system, which counts approximately 25 percent of all votes in the United States. The results of this study demonstrate that a fractional vote feature is embedded in each GEMS application which can be used to invisibly, yet radically, alter election outcomes by pre-setting desired vote percentages to redistribute votes. This tampering is not visible to election observers, even if they are standing in the room and watching the computer. Use of the decimalized vote feature is unlikely to be detected by auditing or canvass procedures, and can be applied across large jurisdictions in less than 60 seconds.
“GEMS vote-counting systems are and have been operated under five trade names: Global Election Systems, Diebold Election Systems, Premier Election Systems, Dominion Voting Systems, and Election Systems & Software, in addition to a number of private regional subcontractors. At the time of this writing, this system is used statewide in Alaska, Connecticut, Georgia, Mississippi, New Hampshire, Utah and Vermont, and for counties in Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin and Wyoming. It is also used in Canada.”
Read more: http://blackboxvoting.org/fraction-magic-1/
Adjusted Exit Polls
Around the world, so-called exit polls – which ask a sampling of exiting voters how they voted – are viewed as the Gold Standard for checking the accuracy of the ballot count. In most countries, if the ballot count and the exit poll numbers don’t match, there is either a recount or the election is declared ‘not free and fair.’
Not so in America. Here, as Jonathan Simon documents in his book Code Red: Computerized Election Theft and The New American Century, the exit poll numbers are instead adjusted to match the official vote count.
In the US, the exit pollster of record has been Edison/Mitofsky http://www.edisonresearch.com/election-polling/ working for a consortium of news organizations that comprise the National Election Pool (NEP): ABC, CBS, CNN, Fox, NBC and the Associated Press. As Wasserman relates, when election researcher and statistician Dr. Steve Freeman called the late Warren Mitofsky personally to request the raw data from the 2004 exit polls, the response was “Go f**k yourself.”
Maybe that’s why respected international election observer Former President Jimmy Carter can say the USA “is not a functioning democracy.” Maybe that’s why, as Fitrakis and Wasserman point out:
In March 2015, the Harvard Electoral Integrity Project reported that over fourteen hundred international election experts gathered data the year before and pronounced the United States was 45th in election integrity among the world’s long-standing democracies. The Project reported that on a 100-point scale, the U.S. received an integrity rating of 69.3% – one notch ahead of the narco-drug state Columbia….
What this means in practice is revealed in a recent study of three decades of data by liberal mainstream political scientists Martin Gilens of Princeton, and Benjamin Page of Northwestern. Their analysis confirmed that the U.S. political system has become “an oligarchy” – as Carter himself has said – where wealthy elites and their corporations “rule,” regardless of which party is in Congress and the White House.
“The central point that emerges from our research,” Gilens and Page wrote, “is that economic elites and organized groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on U.S. government policy, while mass-based interest groups and average citizens have little or no independent influence.”
As Gilens explained in an interview, “ordinary citizens have virtually no influence over what their government does in the United States.”
Citizen Exit Polls
Edison Research was scheduled to do exit polling for the NEP media consortium in the California primary. But when Ohio election protection attorney Cliff Arnebeck gave notice that he intended to sue for the raw data, the California exit poll was canceled.
Into the breach jumped California activist/funder Lori Grace and her Institute for American Democracy and Election Integrity (www.trustvote.org), engaging professional pollsters to sample selected districts in Northern and Southern California. The results will be forthcoming at TrustVote.org
Already the site reports:
In other eleven states besides California, there has been noted a significant difference between the Edison Research exit polls and the electronic vote totals presented on the morning after the primaries. These totals do not include anything from California. These differences show votes appear to be shifted from Bernie Sanders to Hillary Clinton. The chances of this kind of shift happening are considered to be statistically impossible between Tuesday night and Wednesday morning in these eleven states….
…In addition, some people may have concerns that [private election system or voting machine] companies like Scytl/SOE and ES&S which managed the votes in Kentucky, New York and Arizona, have directors who are also on the boards of other companies involved in wire-tapping, the defense industry and military interrogations.
A System Designed for Cheating
Corroborating the findings of the other Santa Monica presenters with his own recent experience, John Blakey of Audit Arizona reported that, in this very primary, in Maricopa County, domain of infamous Sherrif Joe Arpaio, 150,000 voters appear to have been ‘suppressed.’ Possibly that’s because 85% of Arizona voters use vote-by-mail ballots, which, extensive evidence shows, rarely get counted.
Blakey is suing the State of Arizona for access to records. “We have the right language for it now,” Blakey says, thanks to the work of the other panel members. “It’s not ‘voter fraud,’ it’s vote fraud. It is a system designed for cheating.”
STD – Software Transmitted Disease
Well-known actor Mimi Kennedy is a fierce, long-term election protection activist in private life. In this election she received poll worker training that has taken her into the heart of California’s election system. She says her friend Bev Harris’ ‘fraction magic’ findings show how deeply what she calls “STD, Software Transmitted Disease” has infected our electoral system. She explains, “There are seven thousand small voting jurisdictions all over America. State law controls elections. Seven thousand jurisdictions within and among those states can have some say in process, procedure, choice of private contractors, common servicer software and hardware. Outside IT ‘experts’ are hired who may or may not be honest or bright. That means that fraud capacity is there. People ask me ‘Who are the ‘them’ that may be stealing our votes?’ I tell them, ‘someone in any of those jurisdictions who can.’”
The Ohio Plan, ‘How to Nix the Fix’
Wasserman and Fitrakis admit that, “as we approach the 2016 election, the prospects for a truly democratic outcome are grim.”
However, lest we despair in the face of all these discouraging revelations, they insist that the fixes in our badly compromised electoral system CAN be nixed.
“The only cure,” they conclude, “is a bottom-up revolution in human consciousness and action.” They hope their work “will help inform and motivate an energized grassroots uprising” based on what they call The Ohio Plan.
The Ohio Plan:
1. Universal, automatic, same-day voter registration.
2. A four-day national voting holiday.
3. Votes counted by students & elders, paid the minimum wage.
4. Universal use of hand-counted paper ballots.
5. A universal automatic recount.
May it be so.
Mary Beth Brangan and James Heddle co-direct EON, The Ecological Options Network. Since 2004, they have produced many video reports in cooperation with FreePress.org and the Columbus Institute for Contemporary Journalism which can be viewed on the EON’s YouTube channel Election Protection & Deep Democracy playlist They are currently at work on a new documentary SHUTDOWN: The California-Fukushima Connection.
If you like EON’s work, you can support it, whatever your budget level, here.