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31/10/2009 09:14

Diebold and the Electronic Vote : The Rig is Up

Your electronic vote in the 2010 election has just been bought

By Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman
September 24, 2009

Unless U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder intervenes, your electronic 
vote in 2010 will probably be owned by the Republican-connected ES&S 
Corporation. With 80% ownership of America's electronic voting 
machines, ES&S could have the power to shape America's future with a 
few proprietary keystrokes.

ES&S has just purchased the voting machine division of the Ohio-based 
Diebold, whose role in fixing the 2004 presidential election for 
George W. Bush is infamous.

Critics of the merger hope Holder will rescind the purchase on 
anti-trust grounds.

But only a transparent system totally based on hand-counted paper 
ballots, with universal automatic voter registration, can get us even 
remotely close to a reliable vote count in the future.

For even if Holder does void this purchase, ES&S and Diebold in 
tandem will still control four of every five votes cast on 
touchscreen machines. As the U.S. Supreme Court seems poised to open 
the floodgates on corporate campaign spending, the only difference 
could be that those who would buy our elections will have to write 
two checks instead of one.

And in fact, it's even worse than that. ES&S, Diebold and a tiny 
handful of sibling Republican voting equipment and computing 
companies control not only the touchscreen machines, but also the 
electronic tabulators that count millions of scantron ballots, AND 
the electronic polling books that decide who gets to vote and who doesn't.

Let's do a quick review:

1. ES&S, Diebold and other companies tied to election hardware and 
software are owned and operated by a handful of very wealthy 
conservatives, or right-to-life ideologues, with long-standing direct 
ties to the Republican Party;

2. As votes will be increasingly cast on optiscans, touchscreens or 
computer voting machines in the United States in 2010, the scant few 
so-called paper trail mechanisms that are in place will offer little 
security against electronic vote theft;

3. The source code on all U.S. touchscreen machines now used for the 
casting and counting of ballots is proprietary, meaning the companies 
that own and operate the machines -- including ES&S -- are not 
required to share with the public the details of how those machines 
actually work;

4. Although there are official mechanisms for monitoring and 
recounts, none carry any real weight in the face of the public's 
inability to gain control or even access to this electronic source 
code, whose proprietary standing has been upheld by the courts;

5. With the newly merged ES&S/Diebold now apparently controlling 80% 
of the national vote through hardware and software, this 
GOP-connected corporation will have the power to alter virtually 
every election in the U.S. with a few keystrokes. Unless there is a 
massive, successful grassroots campaign between now and 2012, the 
same will hold true for the next US presidential election;

6. Aside from its control of touchscreen machines, the merged 
Diebold/ES&S also controls a significant percent of the electronic 
optiscan tabulators to count cards on which voters use pencils to 
fill in circles, indicating their vote. Accounts of fraud, rigging, 
theft and abuse of these optiscan systems are well-documented and 
innumerable. Any corporation that prints these ballots and runs the 
machines designated to count them can control yet another major piece 
of the US vote count

7. The merged ES&S/Diebold now also controls the electronic voter 
registration systems in many counties and states. With that control 
comes the ability to remove registered voters without significant 
public accountability. In the 2004 election, nearly 25% of all the 
registered voters in the Democratic-rich city of Cleveland were 
purged, including 10,000 voters erased "accidentally" by a Diebold 
electronic pollbook system. So in addition to controlling the vote 
counts on touchscreen and optiscan voting machines, the merged 
Diebold/ES&S and sympathetic hardware and software companies that 
service computerized voting equipment will control who actually gets 
to cast a vote in the first place.

Lest we forget: in 2000, long before this ES&S/Diebold purchase was 
proposed, Choicepoint, a GOP-controlled data management firm, hired 
by Florida's Republican Secretary of State Katherine Harris, removed 
up to 150,000 Florida citizens from voter rolls on the pretense that 
they were ex-felons. The vast majority of them were not.

Computer software "disappeared" 16,000 votes from Al Gore's column at 
a critical moment on election night, allowing George W. Bush's first 
cousin John Ellis, a Fox News analyst, to proclaim him the winner. 
The election was officially decided by less than 700 votes and a 5-4 
Supreme Court vote preventing a full recount. An independent audit 
later showed Gore was the rightful winner.

In 2004, more than 300,000 Ohio citizens were removed from voter 
rolls by GOP-controlled county election boards (more than one million 
have been removed since).

Various dirty tricks prevented still tens of thousands more Ohioans 
from voting. The vote count was marred by a wide range of official 
manipulations coordinated by then-Ohio Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell.

Diebold was a major player in the 2004 Ohio elections, but was joined 
by numerous other computer voting firms and their technicians in 
"recounting the vote" which confirmed the Bush "victory," despite 
exit poll results and other evidence to the contrary. In defiance of 
a federal court order, 56 of 88 Ohio counties destroyed some or all 
of their ballots or election records. No one has been prosecuted.

In short, the ES&S purchase of Diebold's voting machine operation is 
merely the tip of a toxic iceberg. Voiding the merger will do nothing 
to solve the REAL problem, which is an electronic-based system of 
voter registration and ballot counting that is potentially controlled 
by private corporations and contractors whose agenda is to make large 
profits and protect the system that guarantees them.

Although elections based on universal automatic registration and 
hand-counted paper ballots are not foolproof, they constitute a 
start. Stealing an election by stuffing paper ballot boxes at the 
"retail" level is far more difficult than stealing votes at the 
"wholesale" level with an electronic flip of a switch.

As it's done in numerous other countries throughout the world, the 
only realistic means by which the U.S. can establish a democratic 
system of ballot casting and counting is to do it the old-fashioned 
way. With human-scale checks and balances we might even be secure in 
the knowledge that our elections and vote counts will truly reflect 
the will of the people. What a concept! 

[Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman have co-authored four books on 
election protection, available at at, where this 
article also appears, and where Bob's Fitrakis Files are also available.]


“It’s enough that people know there has been a vote. Those who vote decide of nothing. Those who count the votes, decides of everything” - Joseph Stalin

Remember that it is only because the youth vote & the will for 'change' was so overwhelming that the GOP was not able to steal a third election in a row.

2000 : Greg Palast Reports

2004 : BBC Reporter Greg Palast on 2004 Stolen Elections 
1 ) 
2) Diebold's Political Machine


NIGHTMARE WATCH : Big media's onslaught about how Obama will have let everybody down will pave the way to youth not voting, tea baggers voting in stride thus leaving the door wide open for that little extra electronic push to give back the power to the obscurantist/fundamentalist crowd.

SOLE OPTION : Obama has got to serve the electorate that got him there in the first place by being thrutful to the agenda he elaborated & defended as a candidate.

This will be a slowmo train wreck so let's revisit how we stoped the last one ;)

Don't Drop The Ball at the Last Minute ; Video Tape The Count !

Robert F Kennedy Jr., Jesse Jackson and Greg Palast Team Up for Election Integrity

Robert Kennedy Jr. & Greg Palast team up to... Steal back your vote!

Just a hint...

Before you export democracy, try having it at home !