Environmental Ethics
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Ernest Partridge, Ph.D

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The Gadfly Bytes -- October 28, 2008


Election 2008: Who Decides?
The People or the Programmers?

Ernest Partridge


Editor's Postscript: December 15, 2009.  While this essay might seem to be flawed by an inaccurate prediction, I feel that it nonetheless deserves inclusion here.  I stand by virtually everything that I wrote, and remain convinced that the issues that I discuss below, still totally ignored by the corporate media, remain vitally important to the future of American politics.

The essay, published a week before the 2008 election, expressed a suspicion -- not a prediction -- that the election might be stolen again by the programmers that wrote the secret ("proprietary") codes that were to count and compile the election returns, as they had done since the notorious 2000 election.  The essence of my suspicion is found in this paragraph below:

If the election returns next Tuesday are fair and accurate, it will be because those anonymous programmers have chosen, for whatever reason, not to finagle the election, and not because they face exposure and prosecution – not, that is, because there is any compelling reason for them not to steal the election. 

Apparently, the programmers chose to "play fair," as Barack Obama did in fact win the election, and the Democrats secured their control of the Congress.  Why wasn't the 2008 election stolen, like (I contend) the 2000 and 2004 elections?  One can only speculate.  Here are three non-exclusive hunches:  (1) as suggested below, the pre-election polls predicted an Obama victory so substantial that an "upset" might have created sufficient suspicion that the plot might, at last, be exposed.  (2)  The "powers that be" behind election fraud shared the widespread establishment misgivings about the incompetence of the McCain/Palin ticket.  (3)  Those same powers knew what few Obama supporters suspected at the time, and has been validated by subsequent events;  namely that Obama, like Bill Clinton before him, was a "safe" "new Democrat" whose proclaimed liberalism could be effectively contained by the media and the Republican minority in Congress.

Be all that as it may, the threat to our "democracy" posed by a corrupted election mechanism remains.  Or so I argue in this essay.


In another week, more than one-hundred million American citizens will go to the polls to choose their next president.

Or so most of those citizens believe, along with all of the corporate media and, of course, the candidates.

But might it be possible that the decision next Tuesday lies, not with those 100-plus million voters, but instead with a few dozen programmers who write the secret software for the voting machines that will record some 30 percent of the votes, and also for the computers that compile (i.e., collect and report) 80 percent of the “official” election returns?

The very idea is too horrible to contemplate, and so it is not contemplated; not by the media, not by most of the public, and not by the Democratic party.

A presidential selection by anonymous programmers is not contemplated, much less discussed and publicized, in the face of compelling evidence that the 2004 Presidential election, along with numerous congressional elections during the past decade, were in fact stolen. 

A stolen election? Impossible! Unthinkable! Yeah, sure! “The Titanic is unsinkable.” “We have achieved peace in our time” (Neville Chamberlain, Munich, 1938). “We will be greeted as liberators in Iraq.” "There is no doubt Saddam Hussein has weapons of mass destruction and is planning to use them against us" (Dick Cheney)

So let’s cut past the speculation and (alleged) “paranoid fantasies,” and focus instead on four simple, undisputed facts:

1. Next Tuesday, 30% of the votes will be cast on paperless “direct electronic recording” (DRE) voting machines, and 80% of those votes will be compiled on computers.

2. These voting machines and compiling computers are manufactured, and their software is written, by private corporations with close ties to the Republican party.

3. These voting machines and compiling computers use “proprietary” (i.e., secret) software.

4. Accordingly, there is no independent means of validating the accuracy of the voting machines or the compiling computers.

Am I mistaken? I have, during the past eight years, read hundreds of pages of reassurances that our elections are “fair and accurate.” In those pages, I have found not one iota of evidence challenging any of the above four assertions. I read of “paranoid fantasies,” “sore losers,” “they wouldn’t dare” etc. aplenty, but never, no never!, any denial of any of the above facts.

So, assuming the above, it comes to this: if the election returns next Tuesday are fair and accurate, it will be because those anonymous programmers have chosen, for whatever reason, not to finagle the election, and not because they face exposure and prosecution – not, that is, because there is any compelling reason for them not to steal the election. 

In short, they might allow the American people to choose their next president, not because they have to, but because they choose to.

And then again, they might not. And why should the anonymous programmers let “the people speak”?  After all, they did not do so in Georgia in 2002, or in Ohio in 2004, or in numerous other elections.

Accordingly, if ES&S, Sequoia, and Premier Election Systems (formerly Diebold) so decide, these private corporations and those anonymous writers of that secret source code, and not those 100 million voters, will choose our next President.

These are the plain facts. Simple as that.

The obvious and familiar rebuttal begins with this question: “You say these elections were stolen. Where is your proof?” Direct, “smoking-gun” evidence of software codes deliberately designed to “flip” or delete votes? There is none. Remember, that software is “proprietary” (i.e., secret). But this is the wrong question. Instead, we should be asking, “where is the proof that the DRE voting totals are accurate?” Likewise, there is none, and for the very same reason: the software that records, compiles and reports the votes is secret.

However, the indirect evidence of computer generated fraud is substantial: statistical evidence, empirical evidence, anecdotal evidence, and sworn testimony by computing experts. (Because I have written extensively about this evidence, and vast collections of published articles proving election fraud can be readily accessed on the internet, here, here, here, and here, I will spare the reader yet another summation of this evidence. But see the end note below).

In any rational and fair election, the burden of proof should be borne by those who count the votes and announce the outcome. And that proof should consist in “hard copy” evidence of each and every vote, which is to say, paper ballots. This is not the case in the United States of America. Instead, in enough states to determine the outcome of the presidential election, there is nothing more to validate the accuracy of the totals than the word of the openly partisan manufacturers of the machines and writers of the secret software.

“Trust us!” Period. The rest is silence.

No self-respecting democracy on the face of the earth should tolerate such a travesty. So why is this tolerated in the U.S. of A?  No answer to that question is forthcoming from the corporate media or the two major political parties.

The above account describes how the GOP might steal the election next week, just as they did in numerous congressional elections in the past decade, including the 2004 presidential election.

But will they do so? To answer that question, we must leave the hard and provable facts behind, and engage in speculation. This next election is the same as the previous, in that the means of stealing the election remain intact. But the circumstances attending this election are significantly different; perhaps sufficiently different that the public and the Democrats might successfully break out of the electoral trap that has successfully ensnared them in the recent past.


  • First of all, the corporate media, which shamelessly ambushed Al Gore in 2000 (“inventing the internet”), and John Kerry in 2004 (“Swift Boat Vets”), this time is giving the Democratic candidates fairer treatment. Not “fair,” but “fairer,” as campaign coverage is once again cluttered with trivia and, in the name of “balance,” outright GOP lies are equated with Democratic errors and simplifications.

  • Due to the fairer and more transparent media coverage, the essential issues are being reported, along with the incoherence and disorder of the McCain campaign and the appalling incompetence of his running-mate.

  • Newspaper endorsements, which were roughly evenly divided between Bush and Kerry in 2004, are now three to one in favor of Obama.

  • Many prominent republicans are endorsing the Obama/Biden team, while the GOP coalition of religious fundamentalists, economic conservatives, neo-con imperialists, is fracturing. While Sarah Palin is successfully solidifying the “family values” base, she is also alienating the center-right independents and establishment “paleo-conservatives,” without which a national election can not be won.

  • The collapse of the financial markets and the ensuing economic chaos has taken place at the worst possible time for a GOP presidential campaign.

  • Consequently, national polls report a substantial and steadily increasing Democratic lead. In addition, the polls report that the Democratic candidates handily won all the debates, and that the strength of support for the Obama/Biden team is substantially stronger than that of the McCain and Palin. In the media, there is an increasing sense that an Obama victory is all but certain, absent an “October surprise” during the coming week.

All this poses a daunting problem for the programmers who write the secret software that counts and compiles most of the votes that will be cast next Tuesday:  In the face of what would be a Democratic landslide in an honest election, do they dare steal it one more time?

Just imagine that next Monday, the final polls show Obama/Biden with twelve to fifteen point leads (i.e., beyond the “Diebold Zone”) in the national polls, with double-digit leads in most of the battleground states, and with a solid projection of 350 electoral votes.

Then, early Wednesday morning, the TV networks announce that McCain/Palin have achieved a narrow victory, due to upset wins in states using DRE machines and secret compilation software, and where, in addition, hundreds of thousands of intended voters have been denied access to the polls because of registration challenges by GOP attorneys and poll watchers.

Will the public stand for this? If not, what follows? Massive protest demonstrations followed by suppression by the Army battalion recently assigned to “domestic duty” (in violation of the Posse Comitatus Act)?  Sullen public acquiescence?  If the latter, what remains of President McCain’s capacity to govern? He will, after all, have to deal with a heavily Democratic Congress. How well can he cope with the severe economic crises directly ahead?

Might we then at last see an end to the persistent refusal of the media and the Democrats to acknowledge, investigate and deal with computer-generated election fraud? Even if the Department of Justice remains in Republican hands, this need not put a stop to criminal investigation, prosecution and conviction for stolen elections. In the United States, national elections are administered at the state level. Accordingly, any aggressive state Attorney General in any state can launch a criminal investigation and carry it through all the way to the slamming of the cell doors.

The anonymous programmers of the secret election codes are facing a dilemma: if Obama wins, it is likely that the Department of Justice will, at long last, investigate, indict and convict the culprits. But if the election is stolen again, despite a formidable Obama lead in the polls and overwhelming public and editorial support, the story of the “miracle” McCain victory will likely not be believed. The Congress will investigate. The media, beginning with the blogosphere and extending to the corporate media, will at long last take the issue of election fraud seriously. Then the state Attorneys General will get to work.

We can only guess at what might be going on in the troubled minds of the programmers. There appears to be some reluctance among the corporate big-wigs to drop the management of the financial crisis in the hands of John McCain, a self-confessed economic ignoramus, or Sarah Palin, who proves her incompetence at every interview. Consequently, it is quite possible that the programmers have been instructed to cool it this time and let the public have its way.

On the other hand, the stakes in this election are enormous.  An Obama administration will, as promised, raise the taxes of the mega-wealthy, and perhaps attempt to return to the federal treasury some of the public funds looted by the oligarchs. Obama’s Department of Justice might well prosecute some of the numerous crimes committed during the Bush/Cheney administration. Anti-trust laws, now “on the books” albeit ignored, may be reinstated, resulting in the break-up of mega-corporations. Election reform, with the ending of voter purges, cagings, stringent ID requirements, and, of course, unverifiable electronic voting machines, will lock in Democratic majorities far into the future.

This late in the campaign season, the codes have been written and the voting machines and compilers are in place. Whose decisions will they report: those of the voters or those of the programmers? We will likely find out on November 5.

In the meantime, watch the polls. If they show a closing race, be suspicious. Read the punditry with a critical mind. Perhaps the media might be softening us up for a “miracle upset.”

In any case, this is no time for despair. Instead, this is a time for renewed determination and effort to produce an overwhelming majority for Obama and the Democrats. In addition to the simple act of voting, volunteers must show up at polling places with video cameras, and voters who are denied access, or who find that their touch-screen votes are “flipped,” should be interviewed. The Election Defense Alliance will be conducting exit polls. Contact them to see if they need volunteers.

In the election of 2008, a sizeable majority of American voters, including a formidable number of opinion-makers, academics, scientists, diplomats, and even Republicans, want to see the end of Bushism and Republican rule. They are supporting in Barack Obama, a young, intelligent, learned and vigorous candidate.

God help us all if a small coterie of anonymous computer programmers once again deny the American people their choice of a President.

We have a short week to do our utmost to see to it that this doesn’t happen.

End Note:

As Michael Collins convincingly demonstrates in his article, “Election 2004: The Urban Legend,” the 2004 presidential election was stolen in the big cities, where vote inflation is more easy to conceal. In the cities, where Bush and Cheney did not campaign and where the GOP issues were alien to the urban voters, the Bush/Cheney 2004 totals increased by 153% over those of 2000. Collins concludes: “This combination of events has never happened before in American history. It is unprecedented… and unbelievable.”

In 2006, despite a groundswell of support for the Democrats the DRE wizards connived to keep the Senate in GOP hands. The raw exit polls at the time confirm this suspicion.  The target states were Montana, Missouri and Virginia. Instead, the voters overwhelmed the “fixes,” and substantial Democratic wins, following “adjustments” by the secret software, ended up as “squeakers.” While the Democrats gained thirty seats in the House, DRE rigging may have cost them as many as twenty additional seats.

See also my
The Fix Is In -- Again! Why we must not "Get Over It,  Has the Case for Election Fraud been Refuted?  Election Fraud: Where's the Outrage?  In 2006, Election Fraud is the Keystone Issue.  Debunking the Debunker, and The Gulliberal Problem.

Copyright 2008 by Ernest Partridge


Dr. Ernest Partridge is a consultant, writer and lecturer in the field of Environmental Ethics and Public Policy. He has taught Philosophy at the University of California, and in Utah, Colorado and Wisconsin. He publishes the website, "The Online Gadfly" (www.igc.org/gadfly) and co-edits the progressive website, "The Crisis Papers" (www.crisispapers.org).  Dr. Partridge can be contacted at: gadfly@igc.org .