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, 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.
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—
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?”
Here are some of the things you can do to help YOUR STATE recover ACCURATE VOTE COUNTING in our elections:
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 email@example.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.
c. Join BlackBoxVoting.org for information on equipment, vendors, and voting mechanics, and to participate in their blog: www.blackboxvoting.org
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
* * * * *
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?
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.
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.
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,
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?
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.
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Attached is a fascinating and damning analysis by two election forensics experts, Francois Choquette and James Johnson. It shows increasing candidate vote share correlating with increasing precinct size, an egregiously abnormal pattern for which there is shown to be no plausible cause other than selection of larger precincts for covert vote shifting because more votes can be stolen that way without raising obvious numerical red flags. The paper attached shows the pattern and shows also how all other causational factors are controlled for and ruled out.
Believe It (Or Not):
The Massachusetts Special Election For US Senate
By Jonathan Simon
August 27, 2010
On January 19th, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts held a Special Election to fill the Senate seat left open by the death of Senator Edward Kennedy. It would be difficult to overstate the political implications of this election. Because the seat was the 60th for the Democrats, it carried with it the effective balance of power in the Senate: without it, in a dramatically polarized and decidedly uncooperative political environment, the Democrats would not be able to override a GOP filibuster. As the media let Americans know, everything from the shape of healthcare policy to financial regulation, from energy and environmental policy to critical judicial appointments hung in the balance.
Just as significantly, the victory by Republican Scott Brown over supposed shoo-in Martha Coakley was taken and trumpeted as a “sign:” the political calculus for the upcoming general elections in 2010 and 2012 was instantly rewritten, with the anger and unrest that apparently produced Brown’s victory establishing expectations of catastrophic losses for the Democrats in November and beyond. All in all the political impact of this single, under-the-radar state election was seismic, very nearly “presidential.”
The Electoral System
With stakes that high, citizens not only of Massachusetts but of the rest of the United States would hope to find firm basis knowledge, as opposed to mere faith that the votes were accurately counted as cast and that the seating of the certified winner, along with the massive implications alluded to above, at least reflected the will and intent of the voting constituency. Instead, this is what a citizen seeking such knowledge about the Massachusetts Special Election would find:
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Listen to an in-depth podcast interview with Jonathan Simon on Believe It (Or Not) and related topics of election integrity.
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