Earlier this month, at a conference in San Francisco, several renowned computer scientists warned that electronic voting machines remain vulnerable to computer hackers due to serious security flaws in the operating software, calling into question the integrity of a presidential election that is still seven months away, as well as all other elections in the U.S. where paper ballots have been replaced by these paperless electronic machines.
There wasn't anything particularly new in the scientists' revelations, other than the fact that the magazine PC World covered the issue, as did several other mainstream news organizations.
Arguably, any mainstream coverage these days of election fraud, voter fraud—a topic of such national significance that it literally affects anyone who has ever cast a ballot—can be credited to a handful of hard-core voting rights activists and muckraking citizen journalists who have made it their life's mission to overhaul the way people vote and restore much needed integrity to the process.
The scientists' warnings that this year's historic presidential election can be tinkered with came on the heels of the publication of a groundbreaking new book, Loser Take All, a collection of eye-opening investigative reports into past issues of election fraud authored by voting rights experts, activists, and journalists who used old-fashioned gumshoe reporting to expose the seedy side of the business of counting votes.
Unlike the reportage leading up the invasion of Iraq, which relied heavily on anonymous sources who spoon-fed mainstream reporters wild tales of Iraq's vast weapons cache, lapped up by Pulitzer Prize winning journalists and printed as fact, the reports in Loser Take All about stolen elections, the massive purge of minorities and poor people from voter rolls are backed up by smoking gun evidence in the form of documents and on-the-record accounts from public officials and behind-the-scenes executives employed by e-voting companies.
Perhaps no one has been more passionate about this issue or has worked harder to attract mainstream attention to the cause than bestselling author Mark Crispin Miller or blogger Brad Friedman.
Well before anyone understood what election fraud meant, Miller, also a professor at New York University, and Friedman, whose BradBlog website is the go-to place on the Internet for comprehensive coverage on voting issues, were sounding early warning alarms and educating the public about voting machines plagued with software bugs, and the ease with which hackers can bust into the system and change the vote count for candidates.
Miller, who wrote extensively in Fooled Again: The Real Case for Electoral Reform about how the votes cast in Ohio during the 2004 presidential election were stolen from Kerry and handed to Bush, said in an interview that the 2008 election can be stolen “through pre-emption of innumerable votes, as well as through the use of e-voting machines, both paperless touch-screen machines and op-scans.”
“It's safe to say that the entire federal government, insofar as it's controlled by BushCo's appointees, has been diligently working to suppress all but those votes that will support the [Republican] party,” Miller said. “The [Veterans Administration], for example, has announced that it will not help badly injured veterans register to vote, since those who've been thus damaged by Bush/Cheney's war aren't likely to be big McCain supporters.”
“On top of all this, there is, of course, the fact that somewhere between 85 and 90 percent of the electorate will either cast its votes on, or have its votes counted by, computerized e-voting machinery that was manufactured, and that is being serviced, by private companies with close ties to the GOP,” Miller added. Warren O’Dell, the former chief executive of Diebold, the top manufacturer of electronic voting machines, famously declared in August 2003 that his company was "committed to helping Ohio deliver its electoral votes to the president [Bush] next year."
O’Dell’s promise became prophetic. Not only did Ohio “deliver” electoral votes for Bush in 2004, the votes were delivered to Bush illegitimately, which Bob Fitrakis documents heroically in the chapter, “As Ohio Goes...”
“If the party can succeed in making this race look "close" enough—and, with a media system like ours, 'close' can be as much as eight percentage points or even more—they're in a very good position to steal it...again,” Miller said. “All that they really need is a convincing rationale for the 'surprising victory' of John McCain; and that rationale has been set up already—'America's not ready to vote for a black man' or 'for a woman,' and/or 'for that woman,' and, as well, 'It was that long, fierce civil war within the Democratic Party,' a 'civil war' fomented by the GOP itself, through their manipulation of the e-voting machines used in many primaries, and the mass cross-over vote by thousands of Republicans.”
Sadly, while these events in Loser Take All are supported by a mountain of documents, there are many, including some of the more prominent players in the progressive movement, who dismiss these findings and disregard calls to action because they believe, wrongly, that it may cast them as some sort of left-wing loon. Indeed, publications such as Salon, Mother Jones, The Nation, and TomPaine.com, have virtually ignored this hot-button issue, or have written about it in such a way as to dismiss it as conspiracy theory. Editors at those publications did not return emails or phone calls seeking comment.
However, progressive news organizations such as Online Journal, BuzzFlash, AlterNet, CommonDreams, and OpEd News have been covering the issue since 2002, and are largely responsible for disseminating much of the information that appears in Loser Take All.
Miller attributed such ignorance by the progressive elite to a “toxic combination of denial and careerism.”
“On the one hand, there's that all-too-human tendency to turn a blind eye to enormous threats because they're just too devastating to acknowledge. Better, therefore, to pretend they don't exist,” Miller said. “This sort of blindness is, of course, well-known to therapists, who often have to struggle with it as they deal with families ravaged by addiction or domestic violence—families whose members can't and won't allow themselves to see that, for example, mommy is an alcoholic, or that daddy is a batterer. When they hear the awful truth, they just go deaf to it, and stay stone-blind to all the painful evidence that it is so.”
But if progressives are truly defined as a movement of change, then it is the authors of Loser Take All, including Larisa Alexandrovna, Paul Lehto, Steven Rosenfeld, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., and a dozen others, who deserve the accolades for speaking up mightily and forcing the powers that be in Washington, D.C., in the blogosphere, and in the media, to take note.
Loser Take All is indeed an important historical document; a damning indictment of the electoral process that also tells the real story of how Bush was “elected” to a second term.
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This story was published on April 24, 2008.