E2012: Quo vadimus?

E2012:  The Good, The Bad, and The Ironic

December 28, 2012

by Jonathan Simon and Sally Castleman

November 6th:  Celebrations, Riddles, Questions, Context

E2012—another Democratic victory, a lot of cheering in the streets, living rooms, and even some Election Integrity “war rooms” across America—a lot like E2008.  Change you could believe in.   Safe to go back in the water.  Concerns about election theft greatly overblown.  But that was before E2010, when the Tea Party swept in, Democrats and moderates were sent packing, and what seems to be a very long-term blockade of both federal and state governments was installed by those same red-shifted votecounts that had somehow escaped general notice two years earlier when they weren’t red-shifted enough to keep Obama out of the White House.  Who, in December 2008, saw E2010 coming?  Who, in December 2012, is thinking E2014?  (We did.  We are.  We hope you are too.)

What actually happened on Election Night 2012 remains unclear.   In terms of outcome, while the Democrats took what were regarded as the major in-play prizes of the White House and Senate (adding to their narrow majority in the latter), the Republicans maintained a solid grip on the US House (despite Congressional approval ratings hovering in the single digits and despite an overall Democratic victory in the national popular vote for the House, only the fourth occurrence of this win-the-vote-lose-the-House phenomenon in over 100 years) as well as on a sizeable majority of statehouses.  In effect little changed in the actual political infrastructure as a result of E2012, though the election was momentarily seen as a repudiation of extreme right-wing politics and of the impact of vast corporate and Super-PAC expenditures on voter choice.  It is also worth noting that, much as in E2008, it required a dismal campaign run by a feckless, tone-deaf, and unpopular candidate trying desperately and all-too-transparently to Etch-A-Sketch away an indelible impression of extremism left over from the “severely conservative” primary season, not to mention a series of gaffes by GOP Senate candidates ranging from the borderline moronic to the instantly fatal, to bring about even this tepid electoral result that did little more than maintain the status quo.

But the real riddle of E2012 is what was Karl Rove doing on FOX News at the witching hour making a complete and very uncharacteristic fool of himself?  The question remains unanswered.  Shrouded still in mystery is whether a planned massive electronic rig was disarmed and, if so, how and why, at what stage, and totally or partially.

 Please click here for full article

Even Blinder

October 5, 2012 
by Jonathan Simon
 
According to the "father of exit polling," the late Warren Mitofsky, exit polls are intended solely for academic analysis of voting patterns and opinions (e.g., what did 25 to 34 year-old white males regard as the most important issue?) and not as any sort of check on the validity of the votecounts. Unless, of course, you are anywhere else on Earth (other than America), where exit polls are routinely employed, often with the sanction of the government of the United States, as just such a check mechanism, and have frequently led to official calls for electoral investigations and indeed electoral re-dos.
 
In America, where votecounts in competitive and significant races consistently come out to the right of the exit polls (it is called the "red shift"), the media machine has waved off the exit polls, concluding, without so much as a quick peek under the hood of the vote-counting computers, that the exit polls must be "off" because they "oversample Democrats," conclusive evidence to the contrary notwithstanding. We're the Beacon Of Democracy, dammit--we don't need no stinkin’ exit polls! We're "one nation under God" so our elections must be honest!
 
Nonetheless, exit polls remain critical to whatever election forensics can be undertaken to assess the honesty and validity of our concealed and partisan-controlled computerized vote counting system from election to election. This is because all "hard" evidence—memory cards, computer code, server logs, actual ballots where such exist—is strictly off limits to public investigation, being the protected proprietary dominion of a handful of secretive corporations (one of which is aptly named "Dominion") with ties to the radical right.
 
So the announcement that this November the media consortium known as the National Election Pool (NEP) has canceled all exit polling in 19 states comes as a blow to "academic analysts" and election forensics experts alike. The non-exit poll states are AK, AR, DE, DC, GA, HI, ID, KY, LA, NE, ND, OK, RI, SC, SD, TN, TX, UT, WV, WY. Of course all these states are noncompetitive, solid reds or blues (with the exception of a Senate race or two) so what's the problem??
 
The problem is that Karl Rove now has 19 states to mine votes to cover a Romney popular vote loss (undermining and casting suspicion upon his easily arranged Electoral College ‘win’), without the remotest trace of the theft, not even the telltale “red shift.”  This was done in 2004 for Bush, and it showed up in the red shift in states like Alaska and New York, as millions of votes were shifted in non-competitive states where there was little forensic vigilance. And if it turns out that they need even more votes for Romney, with the public now 100% blind to these 19 states, they'll have them by the millions.
 
The NEP and the networks will merely shrug and say, "Who needs exit polls (especially discredited exit polls) in noncompetitive states?" and "We needed to redeploy our limited resources." I feel their pain: exit polling is difficult/expensive and more so now with early/absentee voting and cellphones. Put it in context though: we spent $2 billion per week for years to bring "democracy" to Iraq; you know $2 billion would buy approximately 200 years of biennial exit polls at their current cost here in the good old USA!  I guess having democracy for seven generations in America is not worth one week in Iraq. Makes sense, doesn’t it?
 
And, while we're at it, what a stupid way to insure democracy, a few volunteer democracy fans following along after the election circus with a forensic broom and dustpan, then having their evidence ignored or ridiculed by the media, which, just to show how accepting it is, accepts on 100% pure unadulterated blind faith every number that comes out of the partisan operated and controlled blackness that is our oh-so-convenient vote counting system. Again for that same $2 billion week in Iraq, we could fund hand-counted paper ballots (if we were unwilling to assume it as a civic responsibility on a par with jury duty) at a decent payscale for an entire generation.
 
Are we that cheap, that stingy, that lazy, when it comes to this democracy, this homeland that we profess to "love" and seem to be so concerned about protecting?

For pdf copy please click here

July 4th - Fighting Back Tears

July 4th, symbolic day of our nation’s birth. Also EDA’s birthday, the day we went live six years ago. It is a day of great celebration for many, remembering America’s greatness. It is a day when they play patriotic films one after the other on movie channels, so you can watch John Paul Jones say “I have not yet begun to fight,” and hear Jimmy Cagney sing “It’s a Grand Old Flag,” and listen as Lincoln repeats from the grave, “ . . . that government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth.”
I spent a good part of this special day fighting back tears, unsuccessfully when listening to Mr. Lincoln. For it is apparent that the form of government he invoked at Gettysburg is perishing, if not from the earth then from his own dear country, our country, on our watch. Rigged elections remove “by the people” and “for the people” from that majestic sentence, and sentence The People to the most pernicious form of tyranny:  that which does not even have the courage to declare itself, but instead cloaks itself in the trappings of democracy and illusions of self-rule.
When we founded EDA six years ago we knew what we were up against. We knew that damning evidence of computerized election rigging had already been dismissed with a shrug and would likely continue to be dismissed with a shrug. We knew that, as with any inside job, the perpetrators were sitting in the catbird seat with a big head start. We knew that, as with any Big Lie, the architects and engineers of election rigging could count on “never happen here” denial to protect them from serious investigation and exposure.
What we didn’t know was how many informed people with cellphones would find some excuse not to call 911, how many would turn out to be bystanders, going about their business-as-usual with a shrug. Whether it’s Kitty Genovese dying in front of dozens of lighted windows or a democracy dying in front of dozens of opinion leaders with “too much on their plate,” Bystander’s Syndrome is a tragic phenomenon. When each of us says “intervention would be inconvenient, or risky, or distasteful and, besides, someone else is sure to take care of it,” we fail the ultimate test of citizenship, of patriotism, of human kinship. The twist is that, unlike the bystander safe in his apartment turning off the light and going back to bed, none of us is safe—the bell we talk over and take pains not to hear is tolling for us.
In 2012 EDA will attempt once again to parlay very modest resources into the best forensic detection apparatus we can assemble. I have asked myself why we are bothering, why any new evidence will matter when all the old evidence has been digested and excreted without so much as a polite belch. I can think of two reasons:  we have a responsibility to history and to truth itself to establish at least some reviewable record of the lies being told; beyond this, and more encouragingly, we are finally seeing some cracks in the never-happen-here wall of denial. A bit of media coverage here (e.g., http://www.metrowestdailynews.com/editorspick_mobile/x1222856667/Holmes-Hacking-the-vote?zc_p=1 and http://capitolcorrespondent.com/cc/2012/06/19/electronic-voting-machines-and-voter-fraud/), a promising piece of legislation there (e.g., Masschusetts Election Laws Reform Act of 2012, H. 4139 http://malegislature.gov/Bills/187/House/H04120 ), but most of all a growing skepticism that the kind of national politics we are suffering in the computerized voting age makes any sense at all absent a pervasive thumb on the scale in the darkness of cyberspace.
I sense a metastasizing awareness that we have a problem, a dreadful problem. It is close to coming into sharp focus, like a boil breaking the skin.  There will be a powerful article in a major MSM publication this fall. There will be a powerful book following in its wake. It won’t take that much more and EDA will do everything possible to push awareness, shock, and outrage to critical mass. There’s plenty of energy in the politics of this time, much of it misdirected. That energy, as the never-happen-here veils are torn down, can yet save us and save our country. Please be part of it. Please support us. Please carry awareness to others. Please don’t be a bystander. Please don’t turn off your light.
With appreciation and best holiday wishes—
Jonathan Simon
Executive Director

The (Usual) Stench From Wisconsin

Wisconsin: New Year, Same Stench

What we got tonight, June 5th, in Wisconsin was the same old stench, coming from the same old corner of the room, even more pungent than usual. If it smells a bit acrid to you, that would be the ashes of your democracy still smoldering.  To wit, there was a huge turnout (highly favorable to the Democratic candidate Barrett), in fact they're still waiting in line to vote in Milwaukee and elsewhere nearly two hours after poll closing; and the immediate post-closing Exit Polls had it a dead heat, 50%-50%.  But the only place those polls were posted was as a Bar Chart in the Milwaukee Journal SentinelNot a single network posted any Exit Poll numbers, though they all have been regularly posting them throughout the 2012 primary season within a few minutes of poll closing.  But they all called the race "extremely tight," since they were looking at the same 50%-50% Exit Poll that the Journal Sentinel at least had the courage to post in some format. 
 
In short order, and quite predictably, the race was Walker's, the networks anointing him the "easy winner" as the Exit Poll "Adjustment" Process played out.  You could actually see it on the Journal Sentinel's Bar Chart: the blue bars shrinking and the red bars lengthening every 20 minutes or so.The adjustment process was egregious, a whopping 7% disparity between the Unadjusted Exit Polls and the Adjusted Exit Polls congruent to the eventually-to-be-announced "official results." 
 
We've seen this before, election after election, the familiar "Red Shift."  And it's the Exit Polls that are always "off," because the Votecounts must always be "on."  Except that the Votecounts are secret and in the full control of outfits, with strong right-wing affiliations, like Dominion Voting and Command Central.

Votes counted by partisans in complete secret--is this sane?
 
If you're finding it hard to conceive of characters nefarious enough to rig an election, consider this: today massive robocalls were reported to have been placed to targeted Barrett supporters, telling them they didn't have to vote if they had signed the recall petition, and others that they couldn't vote if they hadn't voted in 2010. Ask yourself this question: is there a bright ethical line between making (whoever actually made them) targeted robocalls telling your opponents' supporters they don't have to vote if they signed the recall petition versus setting the zero-counters on a bunch of memory cards to, say, +50 (for Walker) and -50 (for Barrett) so at the end of the day the total votes add up correctly, the election administrator sees a "clean" election, and you've shifted 100 votes per precinct?  Do you believe that characters who have clearly not blanched at doing the first would for some reason blanch at doing the second--much neater and more efficacious as it is? 
 
And if you're thinking "well the pre-election polls predicted a Walker win," you should know that the methodology for all of those polls, even the ones run by left-leaning outfits, was the Likely Voter Cutoff Model (see http://electiondefensealliance.org/files/TheLVCM_1.pdf), which disproportionately eliminates Democratic voters (students, renters, poor, minority) from the sample and so can conveniently skew it up to 10% to the right (the pollsters all would have been out of business by now if they had kept using a sound methodology and getting all these red-shifted competitive elections wrong with it).
 
This election was dubbed "the second most important election of 2012;" it will "foretell" November just as the Massachusetts Special Senate Election (Coakley-Brown) "foretold" November 2010.  And there was a massive red shift and even more than the usual indicators that it was rigged.  Can anyone live with that, just give it a pass, and sleep tonight?  If so, is it that you can't face the action imperative that would be attendant upon recognition and acknowledgement, or even honest open-minded inquiry?  Or is it that, as Dylan Thomas once wrote, "After the first death, there is no other?"
 
--Jonathan Simon

Voting In The Dark

  
VOTING IN THE DARK: THE DANGER AND WHAT YOU CAN DO
 
 
This video, Stealing Our Votes And Our Democracy, [www.youtube.com/user/electiondefense] presents just a few of the many computer experts and highly-respected academics who have demonstrated over and over again how easy it is to alter vote counts when electronic equipment is used to count our votes.
 
To have election outcomes we can trust, the hand-marked paper ballots must be counted in public by human eyes before they leave the public sight.
 
The transition back to hand-counting—the process we used here in America for more than 200 years—can  begin by hand-counting the Federal races, of which there are never more than three: Representative, Senator and President. Then, when election officials see how manageable that is, we must add hand-counting of the State-wide races and State-wide referendum questions.  
 
In that way, we will gradually return to the “tried and true” method of hand-counting all the votes on our ballots. Yes, there has always been election fraud (precisely because elections are such high-stakes affairs) but the scale possible with electronic vote-counting is staggering.  When votes are counted by hand, “stuffing the ballot boxes” is very labor-intensive; with concealed electronic counting, hundreds of thousands of votes can be changed electronically in seconds—and leave no trace. Put bluntly, elections can be stolen wholesale and the balance of political power shifted accordingly.
 
As is said in the video, if we can’t know whether the election results reported by the machines are true and accurate, how can we have a democracy? And if the “inconvenience” of human counting is too much for us, we must ask, “Do we deserve a democracy?”
 
SOLUTIONS: 
Here are some of the things you can do to help YOUR STATE recover ACCURATE VOTE COUNTING in our elections:
 
1.       Twitter or e-mail your State Senator and Representative the URL [www.youtube.com/user/electiondefense] for the film you just watched. 
a.       Ask them to watch this film
b.      Tell them you feel they must act on this immediately
c.       Ask them to join with you (and other senators and representatives if possible) to meet with your Secretary of State (or whoever is responsible for elections in your state.) 
2.       At the meeting, you must show and discuss with the Secretary of State how insecure your vote counting systems are.
3.       Emphasize that the burden of proof is on his/her office to show us that the counts can be trusted. (It is all backwards if they say it is up to the citizens to prove fraud.)
4.       Then ask to change to hand-counted paper ballots—for the Federal races—before the next election.
5.       You can assure your Secretary of State that there are efficient ways to hand count ballots. 
a.       The counting is done in teams made up of members of opposing parties.  Representatives of every party on the ballot must be permitted to observe each team during the counting process.
b.      An average polling precinct/ward has 500 to 1000 ballots. For three races (the maximum number of federal races in any election) counting should take approximately three hours with two teams.
6.       On election night when the polls close be at the place where your votes are counted. OBSERVE and DOCUMENT the counting process. Take photos or film the results and then check them against what is posted as the "official" results on your state’s election website.  
7.       Recruit others to do the same.
8.       If the ballots are moved to a central location, film them being packed up, transported, unloaded and carried into the central location back into public view. Make clear notes about how many people were in the vehicle transporting them and if there were any stop made along the way.
9.       If the posted results are different from those you saw at the close of the counting at your site (and that you photographed), report it to  Brad@BradBlog.com (or via Twitter at @TheBradBlog) and to Mike Ferriter at mikeferriter@hotmail.com .
10.   If you see (and film) anything that looks out of the ordinary, report that too.
11.   Help spread the word about how corruptible our elections are.  Since the media has not been willing to cover this hugely-important issue, it is up to us to inform our fellow Americans.
12.   Learn more about this issue and join with others who are working on reforming our electoral system.
a.       Subscribe to Bradblog.com for daily news:  b.      Join the Election Defense Alliance email list for occasional updates: www.ElectionDefenseAlliance.com/join
c.       Join BlackBoxVoting.org for information on equipment, vendors, and voting mechanics, and to participate in their blog: www.blackboxvoting.org
d.      Find other information at www.ElectionDefenseAlliance.org/resources including full-length films about our electoral system
e.      Find or start an election integrity group in your state, county or city.
13.   Check other websites for ACTIONS YOU CAN TAKE to help TAKE BACK OUR ELECTIONS. Several appear on the Resource List referenced in 12(d) above.
14.   Finally, please help support this work.  Thousands of hours have been donated by professionals who have given of their time and expertise, but there are operating expenses (e.g., materials; printing; travel; conferences; bulk e-mail service, website; postage) and special projects (independent professional polling, computerized fraud detection traps, etc.) that must be funded.  Contributions to Election Defense Alliance are tax-deductible. www.ElectionDefenseAlliance.com/donate
Our democracy is relying on all of us.

Immediately below you’ll find various responses you can expect to hear from your Secretary of State, election officials, the media, etc, followed by
the facts with which to answer these disingenuous government/corporate “talking points.” (supplied by BlackBox Voting and edited.) 
NB: “Chain of Custody” refers to who has control of and access to the ballots from the time they leave the public view on Election Night until they are recounted (or eventually discarded.) In the case of Early Voting or Absentee Voting, it means who has had control of and access to the ballots from the time they are received until Election Day when they are counted. Those of us interested in election integrity often point out when the Chain of Custody has been “broken” because the ballots have been out of public sight.
TALKING POINT: What about the machines that have a paper backup, referred to as a Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail?

THE TRUTH: In some states the public is not allowed to examine the paper trail.  Some machines produce a paper trail that is on very flimsy paper and is very difficult to read. Furthermore, the computer can print out whatever you might want to see and still do something completely different inside the machine. It is extremely rare that the paper trails are looked at by anyone.


TALKING POINT: In some states, after each election, some random “audits” are done, where the electronic votes are compared to paper ballots or to the paper trail for one or more races, to verify that they match.

THE TRUTH: This is not an audit, it is a spot check, and it is often controlled by the same people who program the system and control Chain of Custody for absentee ballots.  These “audits” are usually done a few days after the election and the Chain of Custody has been broken. How does the public know there has been no ballot switching?



TALKING POINT: Our state has very good recount laws to ensure the accuracy of a count in close elections.

THE TRUTH:
a) A recount is only performed after the ballots have been removed from public sight and the Chain of Custody has been broken. No "after the fact" recount can authenticate the original count.

b) In some states recounts are not allowed unless a candidate had “lost” by a very small percentage point.

c) In some states, a “recount” means just running the ballots through the same electronic equipment/computer again.


TALKING POINT: Our elections are run by county auditors using certified voting systems.

THE TRUTH: What this is saying is "Trust us. We will verify the election for you."

That is not the same as allowing the public to see the essential accounting itself. The right to authenticate our own elections is an inalienable right, derived from the right to self government.

According to the US Constitution, our representatives are to be chosen by the people. The People cannot transfer this right to the government. Any election run by the government must also ensure that the public can see and authenticate all essential steps.

The government cannot be in control of choosing itself.


TALKING POINT: The voting systems have been tested by independent test laboratories and when installed, cannot be changed.

THE TRUTH:
a) Testing labs are paid by the vendors. They keep their reports secret from the public.

b) These labs test only what the vendor tells them to test. They have also been caught omitting key tests.

c) Saying "the installations cannot be changed" does not mean "the votes cannot be altered."

d) Votes and vote totals can be altered whether or not electronic vote counting software is an approved version.
e) The safeguard against vote tampering is not pre-testing a software specimen. The safeguard is public ability to see the actual vote counting.

TALKING POINT: The machines are certified at the national level, tested and certified by our state and tested by the county.

THE TRUTH:
a) This refers to basic usability tests which have nothing to do with deliberate alteration of vote totals. Basically, they take a prepared set of known ballots, run them through the machine, and verify that the buttons work. But this has no relation to what happens to the votes in any given election.

Imagine this: You work as a teller at a bank. They decide to remove the video camera that shows you counting the cash. Instead, they give you a pretest to "detect whether you might tamper at some point in the future." Pretests can help detect incompetence in the election setup, but there is no pretest anywhere that can predict alteration of the count at a later date and time.
b) Because the software checks out on Monday does not mean that that is exactly the software that is running on Tuesday. We know there are many ways to alter the software without leaving a trace.

There IS a way to detect vote tampering, and it is transparency. The public must be allowed to check whether actual voted ballots match electronically reported counts.


TALKING POINT: After testing, the machines are then locked and sealed until put into use.

THE TRUTH: Maybe they are, maybe they aren't. We always hear this statement and we also regularly see that some machines weren't sealed; that they were accessed by technicians or elections insiders mid-election; or that crucial transactions are missing from or added to the vote-counting computer's audit logs.

Even if machines were sealed, since computers can only do what they are instructed to do by their administrator, locking and sealing has no bearing on inside access or actual manipulation of the count.

Historically, tampering by insiders is the most common form of election fraud.

TALKING POINT: Each election there are random audits to compare the vote counts to the actual paper ballots to make sure they match.

THE TRUTH:
a) When public citizens watch the random spot checks (which are not "audits" at all), they often see that the vote counts do not match. Nothing is done about that, and the spot check is not expanded when the sample does not match.

b) A random spot check is not protective against alteration of the count by someone with inside access. At best, spot checks may detect accidental error, but they do not detect deliberate alteration. Those controlling the spot check also control ballot Chain of Custody.

c) By the time a spot check is done, Chain of Custody is broken. No after the fact audit or recount can substitute for public right to see the original count.
d) Almost all audit laws are woefully inadequate to catch most vote-tampering.

e) No partial count authenticates the whole pool. The public must be able to authenticate the count of the whole, not just a part of the count.

There are all kinds of games with after-the-fact "random" spot checks. The random is not truly random; the ballots were substituted, ditched, altered before the count; the race chosen for counting is hand-picked...

f) The public is not allowed to do the spot check. It is assigned to an entity chosen by the same people who run the election.

Basically, "We will do a random spot check" means "Go away, we will authenticate this for you. You cannot authenticate it yourself."

TALKING POINT: Most voters vote on paper ballots, so do not vote on the electronic machines

THE TRUTH: More than 98% of votes in the U.S. are counted electronically. Even if you mark your vote on a paper ballot, it is almost certain your ballot will be counted by an Optical Scan Machine that is a software-driven.
The public has no method to validate electronic counts of any kind.

TALKING POINT: Many voters vote early or by absentee ballot and those counts are checked each day to verify the number of voters match the number of ballots received/submitted.

THE TRUTH: The public cannot "verify the number of voters matches the number of ballots" with absentee voting. With absentee or early voting, the public can never see who actually put the ballot into the system.

With absentee voting, the public can only see a report generated by the same insiders who control the voting system.

With absentee voting, the count can be altered by adding, subtracting, changing, or substituting ballots before the machine counts them; and also by alteration of the electronic counting process itself, because electronic counting is hidden from the public.  So is the storing of the ballots that arrive prior to the election hidden from the public.
 
TALKING POINT: But out elections are always certified after the results are reported.
THE TRUTH: Since it has been proven over and over again that the machines that count our votes are easily manipulated and we know the counts can be corrupted, unless an election official hand-counts the votes on Election Night (in front of the public, before they have ever left the public view), s/he has no way of knowing that the results spit out by the machine are true and accurate and therefor has no basis on which to certify an election.

TALKING POINT: We are committed to running fair, accurate, transparent and auditable elections.

THE TRUTH: Even though most election officials and poll workers are honest and hard-working, no state is really committed to running transparent elections because almost all the vote counting is concealed and the entire premise is that only the government can validate the election of itself.  Beyond even this, in the vast majority of cases even the government is in the dark as to how the votes are really being counted, with only the insiders (corporate vendors) who program and service the computers in the know.

* * * * *
sans-seriffont face=

Press Release: EDA Alerts Wisconsin Clerks

Out-Of-State Corporation Offered Wisconsin Election Clerks a Deal on Touchscreen Voting Machines That Make Election Results Impossible To Verify: EDA Alerts Clerks To Dangers


For full story please open Press Release in .pdf format below.

Occupy, Rigged Elections, and The Bastille Line

The Occupy Movement, Rigged Elections, and the
Bastille Line: An Urgent Call To Action
 
 
All revolutions, even peaceful ones, require a point of attack capable of breaking through the Wall erected by the Powers-That-Be. The Occupy movement, such a welcome and important revival of democracy, has great potential to “rattle the walls” and change our times. There’s great heat out in the winter cold all over America (and across much of the globe).  Focusing all that Heat like an acetylene torch on restoring observable vote counting and honest elections may well be the best, if not the only, chance the Occupy movement has to break the chokehold of the 1%.
 
 
Although the historical evidence is that Marie Antoinette never actually said “Let them eat grass,” the phrase has become inextricably linked with the callousness and cruel inequalities that led directly and inexorably to the storming of the Bastille and the French Revolution.  Now we have Newt Gingrich, among others, saying, to wild right-wing applause, that the Occupiers should “go get a job right after you take a bath.” The mockery is at or above the “Let them eat grass” level; the question is: Must revolution inexorably follow?
 
Every society has its Bastille Line, the point at which the provocation—the inequalities, naked unfairness, exploitation, derision—becomes so great and affects so many, and the prospects of redress through normal political processes grow so dim, that the cork blows and revolution is sprung.  All the lies told, bones thrown, and Prozac prescribed can push the Bastille Line back somewhat, but it is still there when there is no other way. Even in America, where the Occupy movement, which continues to attract more and more to its ranks and to its consciousness,  is the first stirring in a very long time, the first looking out of windows at the weather, the first test of the power structure’s response.
 
It’s becoming pretty clear, with the help of Michael Bloomberg and Newt Gingrich, what that response will be. In fact the “Let them eat grass” response is probably inevitable because America has become that broken, that polarized, that unfair, that cruel, that close to the gang rape that was pre-Revolutionary France. The Occupy movement is preparing for a long siege. They know there are no quick fixes to the mess that is America today. As they wisely expected, the Powers-That-Be are not going to change their ways, let alone yield control, to anything short of a Revolution. The question is “Why?”
 
Freeman Dyson, writing in The New York Review, gives us a good answer. “Democratic systems of government,” he writes, “are designed to answer the . . . question, ‘How do we make sure that rulers can be peacefully replaced when they rule badly?’ . . . Elections are held not to choose the best rulers, but to give us a chance to get rid of the worst without bloodshed.” Elections, in other words, are the primary mechanism for keeping a society well away from its Bastille Line, and they virtually never fail to do so. Unless they are rigged. Then they lose all such protective power and the only choices left are quiet desperation or the march on the Bastille.
 
This is what has happened in and to America. Election Defense Alliance, and our colleagues in election integrity and election forensics, have amassed mountains of evidence that America’s computerized, privatized, concealed, and partisan owned-and-operated vote counting system has been fully corrupted and manipulated to serve the interests of the few and to progressively disempower the many.  To do, in other words, exactly what elections in a democracy are designed to prevent.  Much of that evidence and analysis is archived on this website (www.ElectionDefenseAlliance.org); it is available for your evaluation and will not be recapitulated here.
 
Because this is a Call To Action.  The Occupy movement, and the widespread discontent and disempowerment it embodies, have met the First Response:  get out of the park, take a bath, get a job . . . get lost.  We don’t know what will come next.   America remains a rather closely divided, if dangerously polarized, nation and, yes, there is a lot of Prozac, actual and rhetorical, in circulation.  Meanwhile, American elections are ceasing to function as the vehicle for "get[ting] rid of the worst without bloodshed.”  In the rigged game of American elections, it now often requires a 60% or greater supermajority to actually win an election against a candidate or proposition favored by the "1%."  And, because computerized rigging knows no theoretical bounds, it can get a lot worse, the thumb on the scale morphing as needed into a ham fist and, ultimately, an elephant—whatever it takes to stay in power.   And every rigged election brings us one block closer to the Bastille, to a stark choice between retreat and revolution, an obscenely uneven playing field with no democratic alternative, no political means of redress and recovery.
 
If our democracy is to be saved from generations of oppression on the one hand or bloody revolution on the other, an end must come to rigged elections.  And it must come NOW. The only way that is going to happen is by replacing our secret and corrupted computerized vote counting with publicly observable human vote counting—all across America. “But,” election officials in thrall to the speed and convenience of the computers wail, “we don’t have the peoplepower to do this.”  Oh yes we do.  They are out there in the cold in parks and public spaces in cities and towns all across this country. They are also in their homes and offices, inspired by the Occupiers, beginning to recognize that there is something terribly wrong with the picture and wondering what they too can do.
 
We recognize that the Occupiers have focused much of their energy on the challenge of creating a “real” democracy.   And we understand the temptation to turn away from our larger “democracy” that is seen to be so damaged and corrupted. But we believe that, if the Occupiers can seize this moment and channel their growing power and their new insights, it is not too late to restore our democracy to health and vitality.  Whatever other agenda or demands the Occupiers may ultimately embrace, they could begin now to focus their power on elections, the primary means our democracy has provided for its own defense. It is time to OCCUPY ELECTIONS, to storm not the Bastille but county and town clerks’ offices all across America with signed commitments to work as vote counters and observers on Election Day, beginning this winter with the primaries.  And then to actually OCCUPY THE ELECTIONS by assembling at polling places to relieve the computers from duty.  That’s right, to take the place of the computers, replacing secret cyber-counting by partisan programmers with open, observable counting by citizens. It doesn’t get much more democratic than that!
 
 The Occupiers could  become a national militia for democracy, resolved to count the ballots—all the ballots—in the open, in public.  And also rouse their fellow citizens to join them in this fundamental duty to democracy, fatally forgotten in this age of convenience-uber-alles. Yes there would still be Citizens United and lots of work to do, but even gobs of corporate cash soon run out of steam when it comes to buying votes and thwarting the public will in honestly tabulated elections. To add a bit to Lincoln, “You can’t fool all of the people all of the time . . . but election rigging can make it look like you did.” Years of data-gathering and analysis tell us that America—fooled, fooled again, snookered, cheated, stolen—would  awake from its nightmare and be a very different and a whole lot fairer nation if honest elections were restored.
 
This could be the moment of truth. It is definitely a moment of choice. A moment of focus. If it passes, all that’s left may be the Bastille and the agony that follows.
 
 
Jonathan D. Simon
Sally Castleman
November 19, 2011 

OWS AND ELECTIONS

WHY OCCUPY WALL STREET MUST INCLUDE
DEMAND FOR HONEST, OBSERVABLY COUNTED, UNRIGGED ELECTIONS


Too many critical parts of our electoral process are controlled by private partisan corporations. The counting of our votes is now controlled by these corporations' software inside computerized "black boxes" – entirely in secret.  
 
Evidence leaves little doubt that computerized election rigging is now rampant in the US and that We The People are consistently being "represented" by candidates we did not elect. 

It is a huge part of how the 1% maintains control. 
 
How can we hope to achieve any of the many demands for change with the ballot box rigged to thwart them?
 
 
The Problem
With mass outrage coming to a head and with Occupy Wall Street exploding coast to coast, people are proposing many specific demands for change. Reform is in the air. Few have yet grasped, however, that we can no longer expect change or reform through the ballot box because our electoral process in America has been outsourced to private, partisan corporations. 
It doesn’t look that way when you go to vote at your local precinct and see the same old community members acting as election workers. You may even be voting on a paper ballot. But don’t kid yourself. More than 98% of the votes in our country are now counted by computers manufactured, programmed, and maintained by a handful of private partisan corporations. The radicals who have commandeered this critical function make no bones about their extreme right-wing agenda; they do not hide what they would like our country to look like.
OUR VOTES ARE MEANT TO BE CAST IN SECRET, NOT COUNTED IN SECRET. But when our votes are counted inside a black box—with  no citizen oversight, so that no one other than the hidden few who have actual control over the counting process can know whether the numbers spit out by the machines are true and accurate—we no longer have a democracy. You heard that right: the election officials, the citizens, and even the candidates have no way of knowing whether the election results “counted” by the machines have any resemblance to how we voted.
We are talking about flat-out election theft through wholesale concealed manipulation of vote counts, made possible and effectively undetectable by the very infrastructure of our privatized, corporate-run, and computer-tallied 21st Century electoral process. Covert election theft is a crime AND a coup—silent, unspectacular, no guns, no tanks, but just as devastating as a violent takeover.
 
Evidence
In study after study, highly respected IT experts, from major universities (Princeton, Johns Hopkins, UCLA, etc.) to the government’s own GAO, have all confirmed beyond the shadow of a doubt that electoral outcomes can be altered, undetectably, by just one person with access to the hardware and/or software. It seems that the equipment itself has been constructed so that there are virtually unlimited ways this can be done. Even with a hand-held wireless device by someone standing across the street from a voting site!  Or by setting the zero counters on the memory cards in optical scan counting machines to, say, +50 for Candidate A and -50 for Candidate B before an election, so at the end of the night the total votes appear to add correctly and the election administrator is thereby satisfied that the election was “clean,” while in fact a net of 100 votes would be shifted in each precinct so targeted. “Trojan horse” software can be inserted into the software that takes every nth vote for Candidate X and gives that vote to Candidate Y. That piece of code can also be made to self-delete 15 minutes before the polls close, never to be seen again. 
Back in 2004 it was demonstrated how anyone with Windows and a PC could change election results at the regional level – nothing has changed since then! In fact it’s just gotten easier—a lot easier.  You don’t even have to pre-program when you can change the totals in “real time” as the votes are “processed” regionally (off-site, and often out-of-state) through privatized, corporate-controlled computer networks, a technology spreading to more and more states. The means of hacking our vote counts are legion, and getting progressively more difficult to detect.
So we know it can happen. Has it happened?  No one, often not even election officials, are allowed to see a cast ballot, a memory card, the software code, or any of the “proprietary” election files and materials owned by the private corporations to whom the states have outsourced our elections. How then could we possibly produce a “smoking gun?” We are reduced to repeating patterns of statistical, circumstantial, and  anecdotal evidence. 
But scholars have produced volumes. Analysts have long since amassed a ton of solid forensic evidence. It always points in ONE DIRECTION. As a body of work, it is extremely damning. Many of these analyses and papers are posted for reference on this website. The consistent shift of votes to the right as compared to tracking-polls, exit-polls, baseline races, and hand counts cannot be random.
The Mainstream Media
But, the mainstream media, with the story of our lifetime dangling in front of it, refuses, and indeed appears to be forbidden, to cover this issue and will not comment on one piece of this scholarly work.  Courageous journalists have written about particular elections with suspicious results and procedural red flags, but it seems that they are almost never allowed to broadcast or publish their stories, and certainly never to follow them up with the dogged persistence—think Woodward and Bernstein—required of investigative reporters .  Small wonder: the major media, after all, is big-time corporate. 
To the extent even the “progressive” media pays any attention at all to election processes, it is all directed at overt tactics for unbalancing the electoral playing field.
It is true that these overt disenfranchisements have blossomed, most recently the allowance for unlimited amounts of anonymous corporate money in our elections, and the new draconian Voter-ID laws selectively eliminating millions from the voting rolls. But those tactics alone are not enough to overcome the actual votes. Something even more insidious is necessary to thwart the public will. And that something is flat-out election theft—votes added, deleted, switched in the darkness of cyberspace where no one is looking or can look.
You heard that right: in many cases, we the citizens are probably NOT electing the extreme candidates we are told we have elected. We the citizens have most likely not, in many cases, voted for all the right-wing positions in the various referenda. We are told those are the results but in about 98% of the cases, not one private citizen has been able to observe the vote count. So it is really unlikely that we are the right-leaning nation we have been told we are since 2000 when the computerized election equipment began to take hold in every state. This disjunction between who we are politically and the representatives and leaders we are told we’ve “elected” and who purport to “represent” us lies at the heart of the bizarre political turmoil now engulfing our nation.
The History
Yes, there has always been election fraud. But it used to be labor-intensive. Each ballot box or lever machine had to be tampered with individually. Now, with the proliferation of computerized voting and/or counting, the scale has changed profoundly. ONE PERSON can change the outcome of THE elections For an entire state (OR MORE) and not leave a trace!   This person can be a company insider, a programmer, or even a malicious hacker. The equipment has been designed so that rigging/hacking/stealing elections is child’s play.
Historically, over time our elections have shown “normal” shifts, sometimes right and sometimes left. Some places more conservative and some more progressive. When things overall veer too far in one direction, our people have historically self-corrected through the ballot box. That is how America has survived this “experiment in democracy” for more than 225 years. We don’t allow the pendulum to swing so far in one direction that the whole system can tip right over and we don’t allow it to be held in place by a hidden fist. UP UNTIL NOW.
With our elections now in the hands of a corporate few, all that has changed and is only getting worse. 
The People’s Demands
So how can any new People’s Agenda come about? Without a return to observably counted elections in America, we can forget about making any progress through our electoral process.  Forget about loosening that corporate stranglehold—which, in fact, will only tighten far beyond our worst imaginings.  
Occupy Wall Street
Occupy Wall Street is hope. OWS isshowing us, at last, who We The People really are —and that we’re not the rightward-drifting mass of willing victims that you’d think we are, judging by our “elections” and even by the polls that have virtually all now (unethically) changed their methodology to be aligned with electoral outcomes.  OWS is beginning to state the sensible and necessary needs and demands of the 99%.  And yet we never will make good on this life-saving movement if we don’t demand immediate and radical reform of our preposterous voting system.
It is time to ask ourselves why Americans appear to vote against their own best interests. Why the vote counts consistently end up to the right of exit polls, pre-election polls, and hand counts? Whythe public, and even election officials, can’t look at the software used to count votes? Why journalists appear to be forbidden to investigate how votes are counted in America? 
As we continue to witness the true believers and profiteers of the Right doing so much to corrupt our democracy and lock in economic unfairness and cruelty, it is time to ask how we can believe it wouldn’t have occurred to at least a few of them to use their control of the vote counting computers to determine the entire political landscape of America.
We must reclaim our U.S. elections from the 1% and for the people. We need to dump all computerized voting systems and go back to paper ballots, hand-counted in full public sight, on Election Night before the ballots have been removed from that sight.  No more secret vote counting inside black-box machines. Our electoral system, the most fundamental of our democratic processes, must be wrested from the control of private corporations whose own agendas can so easily trump the public trust. Our electoral system must be restored to us, the 99%.  
These demands must be unshakeable and non-negotiable—because the promise of this moment will most certainly be lost if we don’t OCCUPY AMERICA’S ELECTIONS.
For more detailed information, background, blogs, films, etc,

 

WISCONSIN AUGUST 9, 2011 RECALL ELECTION DATA

WHAT HAPPENED IN WISCONSIN? WE DON’T KNOW, AND THAT’S NOT GOOD
On Tuesday August 9th a group of volunteers from around Wisconsin conducted Citizen Exit Polls in two of the six senate districts where recall elections took place. A coalition of independent, non-partisan organizations including Election Defense Alliance (EDA), Protect California Ballots, and the Wisconsin Wave helped organize volunteers and advised the group on polling techniques. The exit polls were undertaken in an attempt to monitor the integrity of an election that relied entirely on concealed vote tabulation by computers to count votes and determine outcomes.
The results of our exit polling are presented in the Table below.  In every case there are sizeable disparities between the computer-tabulated votecount percentages and the percentages indicated by our exit polls respondents. And in every case the disparity is a “red shift,” the votecount percentages more favorable to the Republican candidate than are the exit poll percentages.  
It is important to understand, however, that these polls could not be designed to control for response bias—a possible differential willingness to respond of Republican vs. Democratic voters.  Therefore, the disparities presented in our polls could be the result of 1) Computerized mistabulation (i.e., rigging); 2) Response bias; or 3) Both.  We simply have no way of knowing for sure.
When a voter refuses to respond to our poll, we cannot know and adjust for the partisanship of that voter, so we cannot claim that our poll is a representative sample of the voters. To construct such a poll—the kind many are familiar with that is commissioned by the major media and appears on network websites along with the returns in November—requires vastly more data, resources, and funding than we have at our disposal.  Our polls were designed for a comparison of raw numbers, not percentages, and in certain circumstances, not achieved here, would be strongly probative stand-alone red flags.
Nonetheless, the disparities indicated below may be considered "orange flags," suggestive of at least the possibility of widespread computerized mistabulation, and indicative that follow-up voter canvassing is warranted.  In addition, analysis of prior voting patterns, turnout anomalies, and other data is being undertaken.
Our polls were undertaken for several related purposes:  
  • to provide at least an indicator, in the absence of virtually all other indicators, as to what might be happening (that is to introduce at least a dim ray of transparency into our utterly opaque and concealed vote counting process);
  • to determine whether a more strongly probative follow-up canvassing would be warranted;
  • to draw public awareness to the very disquieting realities of concealed, computerized vote counting (for example, many still erroneously assume that because they vote on paper, their votes and all votes are “safe,” even though in 99%+ of cases those ballots will never be examined and the optical scanner could easily be programmed to record a result radically different from what is indicated by the voters of their ballots);
  • and to build the citizen participation that one day can translate to actual human counting of the actual ballots.
It appears that the exit poll project for August 9, 2011 has succeeded in furthering each of these goals. We hope to continue to build the awareness and involvement on the part of citizens of Wisconsin and America that will be needed to preserve our democracy through the restoration of observable vote counting and honest elections.

 
WISCONSIN RECALL ELECTION EXIT POLL - VOTECOUNT COMPARISON, 8/9/2011
 Senate  Polling Locations Vote Count Exit Poll EP-VC Diff.
District Ward #s VC-R VC-D VC-Tot* VC%R VC%D EP-R EP-D EP-Tot EP%R EP%D EP%D - VC%D
14 Baraboo 7, 8,9,10 453 695 1148 39.5% 60.5% 113 364 477 23.7% 76.3% 15.8%
14 Pardeeville 1,2,3 286 426 712 40.2% 59.8% 139 299 438 31.7% 68.3% 8.4%
8 Shorewood 9,10,11,12 484 1349 1833 26.4% 73.6% 155 845 1000 15.5% 84.5% 10.9%
8 Menomonee Falls  14,15,21 1351 605 1956 69.1% 30.9% 421 303 724 58.1% 41.9% 10.9%
8 Butler  1,2,3 397 200 597 66.5% 33.5% 63 63 126 50.0% 50.0% 16.5%
                         
  *includes absentee ballots: Baraboo=97, Pardeeville=40, Shorewood=354, Menomonee=283, Butler not known                      
 

"Creating Reality": The Method Soros Et Al Seem Determined To Overlook

The New York Review of Books

June 10, 2011

To the Editors:

George Soros ("My Philanthropy," New York Review of Books, 5/23/11) paints a discouraging picture of an America in thrall to the Orwellian "Newspeak" now peddled to seeming perfection by the GOP. Citing Karl Rove's reported claim that he "didn't have to study reality; he could create it," Soros attributes the GOP's "competitive advantage in electoral politics" to the "adoption of Orwellian techniques [by] the Republican propaganda machine." He goes on to caution that "[a]lthough democracy has much deeper roots in America than in [Weimar] Germany, it is not immune to deliberate deception," and that the idea that America will cease to be a democracy and an open society is "a very likely prospect." This seems about as far as any alarmed observer is willing to go in adumbrating the causes for the strange, perplexing, and seemingly inexorable veer to the right America has taken over the past decade, Obama's election notwithstanding.

But why should "creating reality" draw the line at Newspeak and propaganda? Why not, with privatized and partisan control of the voting apparatus itself, far more reliably and tidily “create the reality” of electoral victory in the darkness of cyberspace?

The advent and proliferation of computerized voting has created, over the past decade, opportunities for outcome-determinative electoral manipulation on a mass scale. The vulnerabilities have been documented by top-line researchers from Princeton to Johns Hopkins to the Congressional GAO. The far right-wing pedigree of the major voting equipment vendors and servicers is no secret. And the "red shift" (vote counts to the right of exit polls, tracking polls, and hand-counts) has been consistent and pervasive in competitive elections since 2002--including the Democratic victories of 2006 and 2008, where 11th-hour political developments turned close elections into manipulation-masking blowouts.

Americans, and particularly the American media, seem content to ignore all this and blithely place full and unquestioning faith in secret vote counting and the fait accompli of computerized tabulation. The towering never-happen-here wall of denial ("America is the beacon of democracy!") sustains this weird credulity in the face of cheating scandals in virtually every sport and throughout the financial world. But American elections are the highest stakes "game" of all and, if Soros is to be taken seriously, America is already a long way from the beacon of democracy we have all taken for granted. We have observed highly unethical tactics (e.g., sending out thousands of flyers to African-American homes stating that the election is Wednesday) employed in plain view and with increasing frequency to create the “reality” of electoral victory.

Is there really a bright ethical line between sending out "Vote Wednesday" flyers and just flipping votes inside an optical scanner?

Perhaps the American public is less susceptible to right-wing Newspeak than Soros laments. Perhaps millions more than we are led to believe see through the lies and propaganda and cast their votes accordingly. And perhaps those votes, counted in secret (how is what we do any different from handing our votes to a little man who retreats behind a curtain and emerges to tell us who won?), are not counted as cast.  Unless we return to observable, public vote counting--which necessarily means by humans--how will we ever know? 

Do we truly deserve a democracy if we are not willing as a citizenry to reassume the very modest burden of counting our own votes? And are we, George Soros included, comfortable with even the possibility that our democracy, in thrall to Election Night convenience and the reality creation of ends-justify-the-means true-believers, will fall to such a cheap trick?

Jonathan Simon

Executive Director
verifiedvote2004@aol.com

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