observable vote counting

Voting In The Dark

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:
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.

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.

* * * * *
sans-seriffont face=

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 

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

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