The Gadfly Bytes -- February 1, 2005
“SHUT UP!,” THEY EXPLAIN
“‘Buzz Off’ in no way constitutes valid rebuttal.”
New Yorker Cartoon
Have you noticed?
Those of us who suspect that the election was stolen (a.k.a. “conspiracy nuts”), have presented an impressive array of evidence – statistical, anecdotal and circumstantial – to support our claims. In response to this we have been provided scant rebuttal evidence.
Instead, we have been ridiculed, vilified, and, most damaging of all, ignored. If our concerns are warranted, then the manipulation of the past election (and perhaps the elections of 2000 and 2002 as well) is arguably the most important news event since the founding of our republic, for a fraudulent national election strikes at the very heart of our democracy. If we the people of the United States are no longer able to remove the government through the ballot box, we are no longer ruled “with the consent of the governed.” Government of, by, and for the people is finished.
Furthermore, “the press” (which we now call “the media”) is no longer our defense against tyranny, for it now serves the government.
To be sure, the conventional view that George Bush and the Republicans won the election “fair and square,” is not without a few defenses. But, as I attempted to demonstrate in my previous essay (“Has the Case for Election Fraud been Refuted”), these arguments do not stand up to close inspection. And what, for the most part, is the response when the skeptics confront the media and the “winners” with their questions and their evidence, and demand an explanation?
“Shut Up!,” they explain.
In this essay, I will take a different approach to the issue of electoral integrity. Rather than continue with accusations and evidence, both new and re-iterated, I will pose a series of questions – questions which, for the most part, have been ignored by the media and by the beneficiaries of the past election, the Bush Administration and the Republican Party.
It is far better that we ask questions about the integrity of our elections than make accusations. Accusations soon become tedious and wear out their welcome. But questions put our adversaries on the defensive – which is where they most assuredly belong.
These are questions about the last three elections that must not be allowed to fade away. Not unless and until they are plausibly answered. And if they are not plausibly answered, then decisive action by the American citizens is very much in order. These questions have not been answered, and there is little evidence so far that they ever will be.
“Shut Up!” “Get over it!” “Let’s move on!” Are not answers.
Now to the questions:
Can the GOP provide proof that the paperless voting machines and the compiling computers (manufactured and coded by Republicans) provided accurate tallies of the voting? Could they do so if they wanted to? If not, why not?
Clearly the Republicans can provide no such proof directly, because the machines were deliberately designed not to provide such proof – there are no paper records, and the source code (software) is secret. Thus, in response to the demand for validation, the manufacturers have only one possible response: “Trust us!”
Of course, voting results could be audited and validated if it were required by law. In fact, validation is required in the state of Nevada, and thus, in that state at least, e-voting machines produce paper records of each vote.
Even without paper records, indirect methods of validation can be devised. For example, a sampling of e-voting machines could be selected at random during election day, “pulled” from the precincts, and checked for input/output consistency. Another method would be a random selection of polling precincts where voters would be asked to vote first with e-voting machines and then again with paper ballots. (Only one vote per voter would officially count, of course). If the machines were “fixed,” this would show up in a comparison of the totals. (For more detail, see my blog of October 30, 2004). With both of these cases, of course, the selection of test machines must be totally random and performed during election day. No such validation procedures were performed anywhere during the November 2, election.
Absent paper records and election day verification procedures, there remain statistical analyses. As I have argued elsewhere (here, here, and here), these studies indicate compelling evidence of fraud. Predictably, they have been almost totally ignored by the mainstream media.
Why won’t the e-voting machines provide auditable paper records?
I’ve heard two answers to this question, both laughably inadequate: (a) paper records would be prohibitively expensive, and (b) paper records would be impossibly impractical. Both excuses have been decisively refuted by perfectly affordable and practical use of paper validation in the state of Nevada. In addition, Diebold Corp., one of the two largest manufacturers of e-voting machines, also makes ATM machines and the credit card mechanisms on gasoline pumps. Both, of course, produce paper records. So why not also for e-voting machines?
A few months ago, I happened to see on CSPAN a hearing by the Federal Election Commission on the e-voting machines. When asked if paper records would be feasible, one witness produced a printout that was several feet long, and proclaimed that such a printout would be required for every vote. This of course was a damnable lie, clearly exposed, once again, by the employment of paper validation in Nevada. That “demonstration” before the Commission can only be interpreted as evidence of the desperation of those who doggedly oppose (for whatever covert reasons) the use of paper records of e-voting.
Why won’t the Diebold and ES&S corporations publish their source codes?
The standard answer is these codes are the private (“proprietary”) property of the corporations,
and thus must be kept secret to protect that property. Kinda like Col. Sanders' recipe for Kentucky Fried Chicken.
But there are patent and copyright laws to protect “intellectual property.” Moreover, most of the “property” protected by copyright, namely musical and literary works, are by their very nature, public entities – i.e., not “secret.” So if songs and novels and essays and movies can all be protected by copyrights, why not the source codes for e-voting and vote compiling machines? The insistence by the voting code writers that these codes most nonetheless be kept secret, can only lead one to wonder: “just what are they trying to hide?”
If Diebold, ES&S, etc. have, as they contend, nothing to hide, why do they continue to compromise their reputations by refusing to release the codes for public inspection?
The computerized compiling of regional (e.g., statewide) returns provides another opportunity for election fraud. Is it possible to ensure the accuracy of the compiling process and to defeat attempts to "rig" these totals through computer hacking? If so, are such verification methods in use? If not, then why not?
It is, in fact, possible to ensure the accuracy of compiled election returns. One strategy would be to utilize two independent parallel compiling methods and teams. If the resulting totals are identical, there is very little chance of fraud. If there is a significant disparity in the results, then a recount by yet another method should be initiated automatically. I am not aware that such validation procedures were operating in the last elections. So, to summarize the answers to this three-part question: Yes, it is possible to check and ensure the accuracy of statewide compilations. No, it appears that these verification methods are not in use. The third part -- "if not, why not?" -- is for the defenders of the present system to answer.
Our remaining questions stand alone, and require no commentary.
Congressman Rush Holt (D. NJ) and Senator Hillary Clinton (D. NY) both introduced bills that would require paper records of votes cast on e-voting machines. Both bills were killed in the House and Senate committees by the Republican leadership in both houses. Why are the Congressional Republicans opposed to paper validation of e-voting machines?
Why will the Edison Media Research and Mitofsky International not release the raw exit polling data from the Ohio election? What reasons do they give for the alleged “error” in the early Ohio exit polls?
Why were exit polls in uncontested states and states with auditable returns extremely accurate, while the exit polls in the “battleground states” were not?
Why did almost all the exit poll “errors” throughout the US favor Bush, while the very few exceptions were all within the margin of error?
What are the odds of this happening, purely “by chance?” Qualified statisticians (e.g. Dr. Steven Freeman, Jonathan Simon, and Dr. Ron Baiman) have calculated these odds to be “statistically impossible.” Why are these statistical analyses not scrupulously rebutted, but instead are ridiculed or else simply ignored?
Without question, many laws were broken (especially in Ohio), specifically the federal “Voting Rights Act.” In Nevada and Oregon, Democratic registration forms were trashed, and so noted by competent witnesses. Why are there no indictments?
In the 2000 election, Republican staff members from Washington were flown down to Miami, where they disrupted and shut down an official government activity – the recounting of ballots. Why were there no indictments?
Do all the above questions add up to “reasonable doubt” that the election of 2004 was fair, and that subsequent elections will be fair? Is this a degree of “reasonable doubt” that might lead a grand jury to indict?
If, as the accusers contend, the party in control of the unauditable machines and the secret software can not be voted out of office, can that government in any sense be said to possess “the consent of the governed”, and can the US government be said to be a democracy?
Can we therefore afford not to investigate these accusations and thus to continue to use voting machinery that is not secure and verifiable? Can we, in short, allow ourselves to “just get over it”?
When such questions as these arise, why should the burden of proof be placed on the skeptics? Don’t we, as citizens, have the right to expect that the elections are fair, and that our government will establish rigorous and public safeguards to secure that right? (See my “Do We Still Have a Democracy?)
Why have the above questions rarely been raised and investigated in the mainstream media?
Suppose you wanted to set up a fraudulent voting system that would assure victory for your party and yet con the public into believing the system was fair and accurate. How could you improve upon the e-voting system in place – with its secret software and its unauditable and unverifiable “output,” combined with a totally incurious mass media?
These questions must be asked, repeatedly and relentlessly, until they are either plausibly answered or, more likely, the public finally comes to realize and appreciate that there are no acceptable answers to these questions. For it is becoming ever-more apparent that the authentic though hidden and unspoken answers to these questions must lead to the inescapable conclusion that our national elections are farces and frauds, and that we the people have thus lost the capacity to replace our government through the ballot box. If this is the case, that government, put simply, no longer rules with "the consent of the governed."
We must therefore demand the return of fair and verifiable elections and with that realization, the restoration of government of, by and for the people. And we must devoutly hope that this can be accomplished peacefully. For as John F. Kennedy warned: "Those who make peaceful revolution impossible, will make violent revolution inevitable."
Copyright 2005, by Ernest Partridge