Michael Collins: Election Fraud in Pennsylvania?
Election Fraud in Pennsylvania?
(Image Source - Diebold Variations)
They've got a Secret
"Scoop" Independent News
The Pennsylvania primary could lock up the Democratic nomination process once and for all. The campaign that Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean asked to be finished by July 1 could be over this Tuesday. Regardless of your candidate or party, you're probably like the vast majority of citizens who insist on fair elections that are open to the public for examination.
Citizens want to know that the candidate taking office is the same candidate who won a majority or a plurality of the votes. A 2006 Zogby poll of 1018 registered voters nationwide found that 92% believed that they, as citizens, have the right to witness vote counting for the election of their paid public servants.
That will not be the case in Pennsylvania any more than it was the case in Florida, Ohio, California, South Carolina, and most other primary states. Almost all states bar any real inspection of vote counting, the process that determines the election result. Even if they did allow you to watch the count, all you would see is a whirring third-rate computer system run by a private company that won't allow anyone to take a comprehensive look inside.
Post election audits are either absent or randomly selected by the people who run the election. Recounts require an exceptionally close election, less than a 1% difference typically. And citizen recounts after the election, where paper records exist, are barred by law in Florida and Virginia and barred almost everywhere else by bureaucratic fiat.
Even if you got to examine each and every ballot, the chain of custody of those paper records will likely be compromised at several key points. Ballots collected by unaccountable individuals, driven around in the trunks of cars, unsupervised, plus other election board customs, mean you can't track the chain of custody of ballots from collection at precincts to delivery at counting locations. Post-election storage oftentimes reflects little concern for real security. If you can't track the chain of custody, you can't know if the ballots recounted or examined are the original voted ballots, if ballots have been replaced, altered, etc.
We elect people who pass laws that are enforced by bureaucrats who then tell us to take a hike when we want to closely examine an election.
"The results are what we say they are," say the keepers of the vote, our so-called public servants. "Move along, there's nothing to see here" is the prevailing attitude toward inquiring citizens.
Potential Election Fraud in Pennsylvania
When you build any system that conducts "mission critical business," like electing a president, you need to create enough safeguards to make sure that the process is secure. How secure is the voting process in Pennsylvania?
Almost 90 percent of Pennsylvanians will vote using touch screen voting machines that have no paper record of votes cast. Once you touch the screen, the machine can count your vote any way it's programmed. It can even give you a receipt indicating you voted for Smith and count your vote for Jones. These touch screens total their own votes, invisibly and without any outside checks. We can't watch and even if we could, we wouldn't know what to look for. Our election boards routinely sign contracts agreeing that the computer programs that count our votes are the trade secrets of the e-voting machine companies, no peeking. The companies even "refuse to promise that their products will work."
Our election process is not a serious one when you examine it to any degree but it is very popular with the politicians and the election boards that they populate.
Computer scientists at Princeton University and others have been able to hack touch screen voting machines successfully on repeated occasions. A candidate in Florida's 13th congressional district lost at least 14,000 votes and a seat in Congress in 2006 in a county with touch screens only, while surrounding counties had nothing like these vote losses. Congress promised a vigorous investigation but never delivered.
The situation in Pennsylvania is so bad that Common Cause rated the state at "high" risk for election problems in the 2008 election. In addition, a citizens' group in Pennsylvania is suing the state to decertify touch screen voting machines because they fail to provide an accurate vote count. The case was allowed by the Pennsylvania courts and is proceeding through the system.
Those citizens prefer optical scanners because optical scan machines count voter marked paper forms. However, unfortunately for those well intended citizens, optical scanners are no solution for these reasons. While the paper forms are marked by voters, they are counted by optical scanners, computers operating with programs that are "trade secrets." Pennsylvania allows automatic recounts in only races with a 0.5% or less victory margin and lacks a uniform guarantee for citizen examination of any paper trail that may exist. Optical scanners are computers just like touch screens and can be manipulated with detection extremely difficult. Finally, other than the vendors or contractors that sell and maintain the machines, there's no guaranteed access to the inner workings of these e-voting devices, none at all.
Will there be election fraud in Pennsylvania? We'll never know for all of the above reasons. It's all a secret. They have it. We, the citizens, don't
Bethlehem Steel (above) used to be a world leader as was Pittsburgh's U.S. Steel.
The mills were closed, the companies gone, and the workers callously strewn
along the highway of lost dreams. Pittsburgh's population in 1950 was 700,000.
Today it's 300,000. troutwerks on flickr.com (cc)
Actual Election Fraud in Pennsylvania
Anyone who doubts the existence of massive election fraud needs to look no further than this primary. Failing to address real needs and issues of citizens is the biggest election fraud of all. Just turn on the television or pick up the newspaper.
The state faces real issues and the voters have very real concerns. The industrial base for the state left the country some time ago. Nothing replaced it except all those "new jobs" from NAFTA. As a result, there was major loss of well paying jobs for the working class and all the benefits that go with that, not the least of which is health insurance.
There are over a million uninsured in Pennsylvania. There are many more underinsured. In the rural areas and small towns, unemployment is a major concern. The tax base has taken a major hit. The state needs roads, bridges, and other vital structures and there's not enough money.
But what are the two hottest topics from this primary election? Obama got slammed for saying small town Pennsylvanians are "bitter" about getting screwed by their "public servants" for the last two or three decades. He was then attacked as an "elitist" and chastised for "talking down" to small town citizens. Instead of pointing out that heroin is more common than hope in too many small towns, Obama backed off and apologized.
The second big item in terms of press coverage is the mockery of a presidential primary debate in Philadelphia. The condescending Charles Gibson of CBS and flighty George Stephanopoulos of ABC spent over an hour talking about totally irrelevant issues. They wasted the time of both Sen. Clinton and Sen. Obama by forcing the dialog into the three ringed circus of strange mainstream media preoccupations.
While neither Clinton nor Obama openly objected during the debate, the crowd inside the debate hall did. They booed Charles Gibson which puts him in the company of Sean Hannity of Fox News who was pursued by angry Ron Paul supporters. Who needs Nielson ratings?
No Respect for Citizens
The election system in Pennsylvania is not available for inspection by the public, that 92% who said they'd like the option to observe vote counting. The machines don't allow that, they're computers. There's nothing to watch. The laws prevent that. It's a secret that only the election boards and the private contractors who count the vote get to see. The security of voting machines is in serious question and election oversight is conducted by the same people who created the system.
It's all a magic show, a series of illusions that can be manipulated by the entertainers, also known as politicians, or anyone well placed and determined enough to manipulate a system with few if any real safeguards.
The failure to discuss real issues is an insult to all citizens. It might explain why a majority fail to vote in primary elections and why 35% to 40% consistently fail to vote in the general elections for president. A common refrain among those who refuse to participate is "Why bother, they're all a bunch of crooks." Among those who do vote, there are huge doubts about the honesty of elections. A 2006 Zogby poll of 707 likely voters in Pennsylvania asked this question: "Do you think the 2004 election was stolen?" Forty percent said yes.
The public officials who control elections behave as though the people are stupid and ignorant of the questionable practices of secret vote counting and outsourced elections. Wrong! The citizens of Pennsylvania know what the story is. Just add the 40% of likely Pennsylvania voters who thought 2004 was stolen with the 35% to 40% who routinely stay home because they doubt the system. That produces a majority of citizens who have serious doubts about a system created to serve the elected and not the electors.
The news media act like the people are a bunch of sheep who buy whatever the media put out because some people actually watch the news. They fail to note that in polls on public respect for various professions, the television news media gets a 16% approval rating. The people who booed debate anchor Gibson are a perfect reflection that attitude.
The politicians showed their respect for citizens after the 2006 election, when the message was clear. Get out of Iraq. They have their excuses. But the reality of the charade was made crystal clear in at the Philadelphia presidential primary debate. While enduring an hour when no real issues were discussed, did you hear either candidate criticize the news people for their inane questions? Not a word.
Wouldn't it be nice if one or both candidates said something like this?
Charles and George, didn't your networks ignore all the public evidence that the Iraq war was based on lies, evidence available before the Iraq War Resolution and the invasion? Didn't your networks give Alan Greenspan a pass in 2004 when he told people to go out and get an adjustable rate mortgage because things were looking so good even though many told Greenspan he was totally off base starting in 2001?
Gentlemen, what good are you if you can't even spot the obvious scams?
How about some decent questions?
But even if one or both had said something like this and changed the tone of the campaign, it wouldn't be enough. We would still have to contend with outsourced elections conducted beyond the public view. Our elections are shielded by federal and state law to protect the true elitists; those people who tell us who we elected while they do everything that they can to hide the election process from us.
- "Loser Take All" - Edited by Mark Crispin Miller
- Coalition for Voting Integrity (of Bucks Co. Penn.)
- The Myth of Verified Voting
- Election 2004: The Urban Legend
- Notes from the Underground