How American Elections Became a Criminal Enterprise

October 21, 2015 in News by RBN

Hermes-Press | Michelle Mairesse

Every day we hear laments about the state of the state or the nation or the world. The twenty-first century seems to be a powder keg rolling downhill. We have already witnessed enough chicanery, bad faith, fecklessness, and desecration to make us wary of the future. Yet we hope.

But hope, be it wan or fervent, is not enough. Most Americans are by nature pragmatists. For us, remedies begin in action.

What can I do to heal a sick planet? we ask. What can I do to feed the hungry? What can I do to stop wars? What can I do to bring wise leaders to the fore?

     Very often we are told we can make the most lasting changes, the most powerful statements, the largest contributions to the health and happiness of the state by pondering all the possibilities and exercising our franchise. Participating in free elections is at the same time a duty and a privilege.

We have grown complacent about our elections. We like to think that someone is in charge of the orderly ritual of designing, allotting, and counting the ballots. There are officials whose job it is to keep the roll of voters and supervise the count. There are bound to be a few errors and a few lost votes, but on the whole, our elections are well-conducted and honest.

In this essay, I hope to convince you that the entire electoral process is in grave danger, has been insidiously subverted, and will continue to erode unless we intervene. We can hope, but hope is not enough.

This is a call to action!

What Happened in 2000?
     Who was elected president in 2000, Democrat Al Gore or Republican George W. Bush? For 36 hectic days after the 2000 election, most Americans were distracted by the circus in Florida. While wrangling reporters, politicians, lawyers, and judges argued about counting or not counting punch card ballots, Florida Governor Jeb Bush, George W. Bush’s brother, was orchestrating the last act of the radical Republican plan to send the eldest Bush boy to Washington.

     The first act began after Jeb’s election in 1998. Jeb and his cohorts let special interests know that they expected political donations of $2 for every $1 donated to Democrats or defaulters would lose access to the governor and the legislative leadership, and their businesses would tank. As they say in lobbyist circles, “Pay to play.”

No sooner had he taken the oath of office than Jeb Bush began ferreting out and replacing Democrats throughout Florida state government, his first purge of Democratic voters. According to Lance deHaven-Smith, in his book entitled The Battle for Florida,

“Top Republicans used the powers of their offices to inject partisanship and instill fear down through the ranks of the state bureaucracy. In 1998 political operatives working for the Speaker of the house secretly examined voter registration records to learn the party affiliations of specific state employees and to identify agencies with high concentrations of Democrats. After it was determined that the most Democratic agency in the state government was the Florida Department of education, the department was restructured and the positions of many of its employees were eliminated. Florida law forbids any consideration of partisan orientations in state hiring, firing, and contracting, but it fails to contemplate the more sinister possibility that highly partisan elected officials might purge the state bureaucracy indirectly by reorganization and privatization.”

     Lance deHaven-Smith describes how education took another hit in 1999:

“Following the lead of state representative John Thrasher, who was the House Speaker that year and the year before, the Legislature eliminated the Florida Board of Regents, which had been responsible for overseeing the State University System. The board was replaced by separate boards of trustees at all ten of the state universities, and the governor was given the power to make all the trustee appointments. This created an enormous source of new patronage and also undermined the political neutrality of the state universities. With the Board of Regents out of the way, Republicans quickly replaced many of the university presidents with political insiders.”

Jim Horne     Jeb ultimately appointed staunch Republicans to control Florida’s educational system: state senator Jim Horne as Florida’s first Secretary of Education and most of the individual university presidents.     With their troops in place and their coffers filling up, the Florida Republican Party systematically began to disenfranchise Democratic voters. Secretary of State Sandra Mortham paid a private company $5700 per annum to purge the voter registry of all ex-felons. Although Florida courts twice ruled that ex-felons whose civil rights had been restored before they came to Florida were entitled to vote, in 1999 newly-elected Secretary of State Katherine Harris and Director of the Division of Elections Clay Roberts ignored the courts and continued the drive to disenfranchise black Democratic voters, felons or not.

Harris hired Data Base Technologies (DBT, now a division of Choicepoint) and paid them $4.3 million to compile the most extensive scrub list possible. Race was a big factor in compiling matches for the list. Blacks make up less than 15% of Florida’s population and 90% of them vote Democratic, so targeted blacks made up more than 50% of the ex-felon list. After the election, the vice-president of Choicepoint testified before a congressional committee that Florida state officials had ordered DBT to eliminate voters by making incorrect matches. Choicepoint gathered its information from the Internet and did not make a single verifying telephone call.

Were the errors minor? No, they were outrageous. Here are two typical examples: Randall Higginbotham, age 41, was scrubbed from the voting roster because he was identified as Sean Higginbotham, age 30; and David Butler,Jr. of Florida was scrubbed from the voting roster because he was misidentified as convict David Butler of Ohio.

Five months before the election, Harris circulated the hit list of 57,700 names to all the precincts with instructions to remove those voters from the rolls.

     On Election Day 2000, rich white Republican voters stood in short lines and used up-to-date equipment, including electronic machines that let them correct their ballots. Things were different in black districts. Some voters were flagged down at a roadblock, where highway patrol officers checked their drivers’ licenses. Others waited in long lines for an inadequate number of booths and ancient recording equipment. All too often, innocent citizens whose names appeared on the ex-felons list were informed for the first time that they could not vote when they showed up at the polling place.

Greg Palast, an award-winning American reporter based in England, broke the story of the scrub list and documented its sleazy origins in The Observer, London, November 26, 2000. Updates, as well as each edition of The Best Democracy Money Can Buy have added irrefutable, hard evidence of fraud. (Palast’s most recent estimate of all qualified Florida voters barred from casting a ballot in Election 2000 stands at 90,000.)

The story was big in Europe, but the American press ignored it completely. Massive civil rights violations that subverted an election just didn’t resonate with the mainstream press. On January 10, 2001, lawyers acting for the NAACP sued and won their case against ChoicePoint’s DBT, Secretary of State Katherine Harris (who coincidentally was enthusiastically co-chairing the Bush campaign), and Bush loyalist Clay Roberts, Director of the Division of Elections. In July 2002, to atone for its staggering error rate of 95%, DBT agreed to remove innocent voters from the now infamous list of purported ex-felons. (In 2002, the purge list hadn’t been corrected. In 2004, another suspicious list appeared.)

     Radical Republicans found other ingenious ways of disenfranchising opposition voters. Two-page ballots with misleading directions were printed in Austin, Texas (the center of the George W. Bush presidential campaign), returned to Florida, and distributed in black districts. Some really strange-looking ballots appeared in other Democratic districts. The most notorious of all was the butterfly ballot, which had punch holes running along the center, flanked by the candidates’ names. Palm Beach, election supervisor and lifelong Republican Theresa LePore became a Democrat shortly before the election, when she designed the ballot that confused more than 3,000 Jewish voters into casting presidential ballots for Christian Reform Party candidate Pat Buchanan.

Beginning early on Election Day, Democratic poll watchers phoned complaints to LePore’s office about the difficulties voters were having with the ballot. Between noon and one, she responded to the precincts with a memo: “Please remind all voters coming in that they are to vote only for one (1) presidential candidate and that they are to punch the hole next to the arrow next to the number next to the candidate they wish to vote for.” LePore registered as an Independent after the election.

Some votes were simply later trashed by ballot handlers. In Duval County, 27,000 ballots were discarded, over half of them from black precincts in Jacksonville. No official challenges were filed within the 72-hour time limit, so thousands of mostly Democratic votes were lost. Sixteen-thousand votes for Gore disappeared overnight from the ongoing Volusia County tally and were reinstated only when an election supervisor questioned the subtraction of already registered votes. No voting machine company representative or election official was able to explain what happened.

     Around 8 p.m. on Election Day,a consortium consisting of ABC, CBS, CNN, Fox, NBC, and AP consulted their exit polls from Voter News Service and projected a Gore victory. The Bush camp immediately went into action. Jeb Bush telephoned his first cousin John Ellis at the Fox News decision desk for information. Another call came from the Bush campaign in Austin, Texas. Ellis claims he spoke with cousin George W. Bush five times on Election Night without revealing any confidential exit poll information. It’s difficult to believe that no campaign strategizing was going on, for Ellis told the New Yorker later, “Me with numbers, one of them a governor, the other the president-elect. Now, that was cool.”

Bev Harris, author of Black Box Voting: Ballot Tampering in the 21st Century, says she uncovered an 87-page CBS news report that contained a shocker: the erroneous subtraction of Gore’s votes in Volusia caused the election to be called for Bush. Claiming that the Voter News Service numbers from one Democratic county were flawed, the Bush election team called a press conference at the governor’s mansion in Austin. The Bush spokesman declared that the race was too close to call in both Pennsylvania and Florida. Between 8:00 and 9:00 p.m., according to Ellis, Bush pulled ahead. Between 9:00 and 9:30, the other television networks agreed that the race was too close to call. But shortly after midnight, Bush’s numbers plunged rapidly by thousands of votes and Gore jumped into the lead. Despite Gore’s soaring numbers, at 2:16 a.m. Fox News announced that Texas Governor George W. Bush had won Florida, with its 271 electoral votes. Within minutes, the other television networks repeated Fox’s false information.

When Gore heard the fake news of his defeat, he phoned his congratulations to Bush and headed for the Knoxville War Memorial to deliver his concession speech to the nation. Gore’s chief deputy in Florida advised him to hold off. After all, there were still 360,000 uncounted votes. It was much too early to concede formally.

Out of 6 million votes cast in Florida, Bush’s lead was reported to be a mere 537 votes. The Florida Constitution had no provisions for a statewide recount, so Gore asked for a partial recount in four southern counties where glaring irregularities had shown up. The last thing the Bush team wanted was a fair recount. They complained to the press that Gore was a sore loser, and the press largely agreed.

On December 8, the Florida Supreme Court overturned a circuit court decision and ordered a manual recount. Based on findings in the circuit court trial, Gore was awarded 393 votes, reducing Bush’s lead to 154 votes. That’s when the Bush camp went ballistic.

     Tom DeLay and the national party sent hordes of out-of-state operatives to intimidate and rampage. They bullied Republican county clerks to amend overvotes in Republican counties, to amend incomplete absentee ballot applications, and to accept late-arriving military ballots lacking signatures. These operatives increased their numbers with real berserkers when the recount began. They charged into the county administration building, threatened violence to the mild county canvassers, and halted the recount of Miami-Dade ballots. (Despite court orders, eighteen counties never even attempted a recount. Secretary of State Katherine Harris certainly wasn’t insisting on it.)

The Bush campaign team and lawyers diligently circulated misinformation–misinformation about Florida’s election laws, about the reliability of manual recounts (both Jeb and George W. claimed that only machines could count accurately), and about the likelihood of a constitutional crisis.

As for Florida’s election laws, they were quite clear. After a series of fierce, close contests, the legislature had carefully laid out legal procedures for contesting elections and conducting recounts. The Florida Constitution specifies that the intent of the voter be paramount during ballot recounting. Because electronic machines had repeatedly failed to read, discern intent, and count ballots accurately, manual recounting is mandated.

     As for a constitutional crisis, none was imminent. That inconvenient fact did not stop the Bush camp from flogging the issue, for they wanted the U.S. Supreme Court to intervene and prevent the recount.

Normally the legislature wouldn’t have been involved in the election controversy until after December 12, when they could have taken whatever actions were necessary until December 18. Hastily, the Republican leadership called the legislature into special session while the judiciary branch still addressed election issues, an extraordinary move.

Speaker of the House Tom Feeney, Jeb’s bosom political buddy, took the podium and, with a little help from his friends on the Bush legal team, criticized the Florida Supreme Court decisions. He warned that if the dispute continued to December 12, Florida’s electoral slate would be excluded from the Electoral College vote. Since Florida had submitted its election results as they were certified, the electoral slate was never in danger. Nevertheless, on November 22, Speaker Feeney declaimed, “Yesterday, if the Court had merely enforced firm and clear statutory deadlines, the Florida Supreme Court could have given us a resolution. Indeed, I fear it has given us a potential constitutional crisis.” Right on cue, the sheep-like press corps took up the rallying cry, “Constitutional crisis!” If one reporter had telephoned an expert in Florida constitutional law, the “crisis” myth would have died a natural death.

When it looked as though the election would be settled in the courts,  Jeb Bush’s Florida legal staff warned the state’s major law firms not to represent Gore. As with the “pay to play” threats the radical Republicans had used to extract political donations, the risk to law firms aiding the Gore camp was financial–they could be denied access to state contracts and to the governor, dispenser of patronage plums to the party faithful.

In the meantime, Bush family attorney Jim Baker worked the legal front. The Bush legal team, determined to delay or stop the recount, appealed to the U.S. District Court of Appeals, the Florida Supreme Court, and the U.S. Supreme Court. The first two courts denied the appeal. Then the U.S. Supreme Court gave them the nod. From that moment, the fix was in.

    The justices had no business interfering in the election. The U.S. Constitution authorizes Congress to settle election disputes, not the Supreme Court. Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas, who had close relatives working with and for Republican organizations, should have recused themselves, but they, along with the three other right-wing judges on the court, issued a complex ruling instructing the Florida courts to find a recount method that would apply “equal standards.” The decision came down at 10 p.m. on December 12, 2000, two hours before the deadline to submit voting results. In short, the U.S. Supreme Court ran the clock out on American voters and handed Florida’s electoral votes and the presidency to George W. Bush.

Somewhat belatedly, eight major news organizations paid the University of Chicago’s National Opinion Research Center (NORC) almost $900,000 to do a recount of the disputed ballots in Florida. NORC concluded that Gore won the most votes throughout the state, no matter what tabulating method was used. After sitting on the report for nine months, the mainstream media released the results with misleading headlines (“Supreme Court Did Not Decide Outcome”) and buried NORC’s astounding conclusion on the inside pages almost as an afterthought.

Reviewing the actual results of the statewide examination of 175,010 disputed ballots, on November 12, 2001 Robert Parry,, cleared away the media fog:

“So Al Gore was the choice of Florida’s voters — whether one counts hanging chads or dimpled chads. That was the core finding of the eight news organizations that conducted a review of disputed Florida ballots. By any chad measure, Gore won. Gore won even if one doesn’t count the 15,000-25,000 votes that USA Today estimated Gore lost because of illegally designed ‘butterfly ballots,’ or the hundreds of predominantly African-American voters who were falsely identified by the state as felons and turned away from the polls. Gore won even if there’s no adjustment for George W. Bush’s windfall of about 290 votes from improperly counted military absentee ballots where lax standards were applied to Republican counties and strict standards to Democratic ones, a violation of fairness reported earlier by the Washington Post and the New York Times. Put differently, George W. Bush was not the choice of Florida’s voters anymore than he was the choice of the American people who cast a half million more ballots for Gore than Bush nationwide.””‘Full Review Favors Gore,’ the Washington Post said in a box on page 10, showing that under all standards applied to the ballots, Gore came out on top. The New York Times’ graphic revealed the same outcome. Earlier, less comprehensive ballot studies by the Miami Herald and USA Today had found that Bush and Gore split the four categories of disputed ballots depending on what standard was applied to assessing the ballots’ punched-through chads, hanging chads, etc. Bush won under two standards and Gore under two standards.

“The new, fuller study found that Gore won regardless of which standard was applied and even when varying county judgments were factored in. Counting fully punched chads and limited marks on optical ballots, Gore won by 115 votes. With any dimple or optical mark, Gore won by 107 votes. With one corner of a chad detached or any optical mark, Gore won by 60 votes. Applying the standards set by each county, Gore won by 171 votes. This core finding of Gore’s Florida victory in the unofficial ballot recount might surprise many readers who skimmed only the headlines and the top paragraphs of the articles. The headlines and leads highlighted hypothetical, partial recounts that supposedly favored Bush. Buried deeper in the stories or referenced in subheads was the fact that the new recount determined that Gore was the winner statewide, even ignoring the ‘butterfly ballot’ and other irregularities that cost him thousands of ballots. The news organizations opted for the pro-Bush leads by focusing on two partial recounts that were proposed, but not completed, in the chaotic, often ugly environment of last November and December.”

“The articles about the new recount tallies make much of the two hypothetical cases in which Bush supposedly would have prevailed: the limited recounts of the four southern Florida counties by 225 votes and the state Supreme Court’s order by 430 votes. Those hypothetical cases dominated the news stories, while Gore’s statewide-recount victory was played down.”

Parry concludes, “In its coverage of the latest recount numbers, the national news media also showed little regard for the fundamental principle of democracy: that leaders derive their just powers from the consent of the governed, not from legalistic tricks, physical intimidation and public-relations maneuvers. It is that understanding that is most missing in the news accounts of the latest recount figures.”

The HAVA Shell Game
     In 2000, the Department of Defense spent $6.2 million on a small Internet voting experiment for a few members of the military. On June 2, 2003, the DoD announced that the Secure Electronic Registration and Voting Experiment, or SERVE, would allow military personnel and Americans overseas to cast their votes over the Internet during the 2004 election.

The Federal Voting Assistance Program, under the umbrella of the DoD, paid Bermuda-based Accenture $22 million to conduct its Internet voting project. Strange to say, Accenture had recently acquired from Osan Ltd., a Saudi investment group that owned 51% of the company.

In February 2004, two weeks after a panel of scientists determined that the Accenture system was extremely vulnerable to tampering and lacked any way for voters to verify that their ballots were cast or counted, the DoD canceled the program. Accenture, surprised by the announcement, first denied that the program had been canceled, but later backed down. Spokeswoman Meg T. McLaughlin said the decision to continue testing SERVE would allow Accenture to study Internet voting further.

When the voting machine companies took a drubbing after the 2000 election, the Information Technology Association of America (ITAA), a high-powered lobbying group, launched a task force that included Accenture, Northop-Grumman, and Lockheed-Martin. Their focus: replacing punch card and lever systems with brand new electronic voting machines.

Here we have the Pentagon, offshore companies, and foreign proprietors mucking about in our elections. Quietly, stealthily, the full-scale takeover of our national election process occurred when the voting machine companies entered the mix with money-laundering and bribes operating at the highest levels of government (think Jack Abramoff). In their wake came the orchestrated obfuscation and confusion that has characterized every national election since 2000.

     In December 2003, ITAA launched a second group, the Election Technology Council. Its membership included Advanced Voting Systems, Diebold, Election Systems and Software (ES&S), Hart InterCivic, Sequoia, and Unilect. These electronic voting machine firms successfully lobbied Congress to pass and fund the Help America Vote Act (HAVA). Congress agreed to funnel $3.9 billion to the states, and hence into the coffers of the voting machine companies to provide touch-screen machines lacking any paper trail or receipt.

Although Representative Bob Ney (R) of Ohio and Representative Steny Hoyer (D) of Maryland jointly sponsored (HAVA), its prime mover was Representative Ney who, as House Administration Committee chairman, held hearings on voting irregularities in Ohio. Only one voting rights group testified before his committee: the American Center for Voting Rights. The Brad Blog exposed them as a phony GOP front group founded by two Bush/Cheney operatives shortly before the hearings.

The hearings often focused on voting rights for the disabled. Since Diebold contributed one million dollars to the National Federation for the Blind and at least $26,000 to the American Association of People with Disabilities, we should not be surprised that spokesmen for those organizations testified that their members badly needed electronic voting machines without a paper trail.

Congressional members made several attempts to amend HAVA so that the voting machines would have a paper trail–voter verified paper ballots–but Ney stalled all of them. Just before the 2002 election, he and the other HAVA co-sponsors sent a letter to their colleagues arguing against amending HAVA to include paper records with touch-screen voting machines lest they disenfranchise the disabled. (Did anyone ask how the disabled voted before the advent of electronic voting machines?) The twisted logic prevailed. HAVA does not mandate electronic voting machines, contrary to popular belief, but HAVA does mandate that a single disabled-accessible device, a paperless, direct recording electronic machine (like Diebold’s), be installed in every precinct in the United States.

The act also contains some really dandy suggestions for improving our elections. Voter IDs, for example, called an unofficial poll tax in some quarters, and “ineligible voters” lists–think Jeb Bush’s purge lists–to ensure that only the right voters do the voting.

Unlike the Indian tribes dealing with Jack Abramoff, the voting machine companies got their money’s worth.

Ney’s former employee, DiStefano and his partner Roy C. Coffee received at least $180,000 from Diebold to lobby for HAVA and “election reform.” Beginning in 2002, DiStefano and Coffee contributed $20,000 to Ney’s campaigns. Diebold paid at least $275,000 lobbying fees to Greenberg Traurig, Jack Abramoff’s firm, to influence members of Congress.

     Super lobbyist Jack Abramoff accommodated Ney with stadium skyboxes, expensive restaurant dinners, and campaign funds, and Ney participated in one of the now notorious Abramoff golfing junkets that jetted to Scotland in 2002.

The most succinct account of this can of worms or, better, this bucket of snakes, appears in the April 22, 2005 issue of Executive Intelligence Review.

“August 2002 Trip

“Abramoff, former DeLay aide Michael Scanlon, religion-manager Ralph Reed, Rep. Robert Ney (R-Ohio), and U.S. government procurement official David Safavian took a lavish golfing vacation to Scotland. The trip was sponsored by the NCPPR [National Center for Public Policy Research] and Abramoff’s private charity, the Capital Athletic Foundation, with money taken from Indian tribes.

“Abramoff and his lobbying partner Scanlon are currently under investigation on allegations of looting over $60 million in fees and contributions from Indian tribes who owned gambling casinos. Representative Ney, the House Administration Committee chairman, was at the time of the trip working on a bold scheme by Abramoff. The Texas Tigua tribe’s El Paso casino was closed down by state government action, because of an ‘anti-gambling’ crusade secretly organized by Abramoff, and paid for by rival casinos and run publicly through Reed and his Christian Coalition networks. Then Abramoff arranged for the Tiguas to pay him and Scanlon millions to campaign to reopen the casino.”

After the Scotland junket, Ney met with the Tiguas and promised to amend his national election-reform bill to override the closing of their Texas casino. Abramoff had the Tiguas contribute $32,000 to Ney’s campaign committee and a political action committee. But the tribe got stiffed, as was often the case when they dealt with or through Abramoff. Ney unsuccessfully attempted to insert their amendment into his national “election- reform” bill, and the Texas casino remains closed.

Ney cozied up closer to Abramoff when Abramoff and his partner-in-crime Adam Kidan were bullying Konstantinos “Gus” Boulis into selling them the SunCruz fleet of casino boats Although Ney represents a rural Ohio district and had no business getting involved with the Florida negotiations, he inserted derogatory comments about Boulis into the Congressional Record, calling him “a bad apple.” After the sale, Ney inserted a statement in the Record, lauding Kidan as “a solid individual and a respected member of the community” and as someone “who has a renowned reputation for honesty and integrity.” After Boulis was gunned down in Fort Lauderdale on February 6, 2001, two associates of Kidan and one Gambino mob henchman were charged with the murder.

At present, there are two different criminal prosecutions against Jack Abramoff, one in Florida and one in the District of Columbia.

     The U.S. Attorney’s office in Florida charged Jack Abramoff and partner Adam Kidan of defrauding investors when they purchased the SunCruz fleet. Abramoff pled guilty January 4, 2006 to two counts: Conspiracy to Defraud the United States and Wire Fraud. Adam Kidan pled guilty December 15, 2005 to two counts: Conspiracy to Defraud the United States and Wire Fraud.

The Justice Department is conducting the second prosecution against Abramoff and Michael Scanlon in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. They are charged with bribing public officials and defrauding Abramoff’s Indian clients. Abramoff pled guilty January 3, 2006 to three counts: Conspiracy to Defraud the United States, Mail Fraud, and Tax Evasion. Scanlon pled guilty November 21, 2005 to Conspiracy to Defraud the United States.

Representative Ney is under investigation for accepting bribes from Jack Abramoff and Michael Scanlon. He was named as a coconspirator (Representative #1) in Abramoff’s plea and (Legislator #1) in Scanlon’s plea.

Now we come to Representative Tom Feeney (R-Fla.). Remember him? After inventing a “constitutional crisis” in 2000 when he was Speaker of the House in Florida, Feeney moved up to the U.S. congress.

Tom Feeney     In 2003, Abramoff’s NCPPR paid for Feeney’s Scottish golfing jaunt with Ralph Reed, who would be chairman of the 2004 Bush-Cheney campaign for the southeastern United States. Feeney strongly supported touch-screen voting installations in time for the 2004 election, perhaps relying on his expertise as an attorney and lobbyist for Yang Enterprises, Inc. (YEI), a position he occupied throughout his tenure as a Florida legislator.

Brad Friedman was way ahead of the pack in exposing Feeney’s questionable entanglement as general counsel and registered lobbyist with client YEI:

“Curtis, a life-long Republican up until then, had been a programmer at YEI, which had several top-secret clearance contracts with the state, NASA and other government agencies. Curtis’ understanding at the time was that the prototype he was being asked to create (built to the very precise specifications of Feeney) was to address Feeney’s concerns that the Democrats might attempt to electronically rig the election and Feeney wanted to know what to look out for in that event. After informing YEI CEO Mrs. Li-Woan Yang that he would not be able to hide the vote-flipping routines in the software source-code as Feeney had requested, Curtis testified that Mrs. Yang informed him that the program was needed to ‘rig the vote in South Florida.'”

“The story also concerns Curtis’ long-standing and now-verified claims that YEI was employing a now-convicted Chinese spy and was also engaged in massively overcharging on contracts such as the one it had with the Florida Department of Transportation. As well, there is the startling tale of the untimely, and unexplained demise of the Florida Inspector General, Raymond Lemme, who had been investigating Curtis’ charges against YEI and Feeney. Curtis has since passed a polygraph test concerning these charges.”

Feeney has been more than casual and less than forthcoming about his extensive pre-paid traveling at home and abroad. He was “misled” about his Scottish golf trip sponsored by Abramoff. He first reported that his $2000 trip to West Palm Beach in 2003 was sponsored by a lobbyist. When reporters pointed out that he had violated House rules, a year passed before he “updated” the identity of the sponsor as a conservative foundation. A charity registered as a foreign agent sponsored an Asian trip in 2003, a clear violation of House rules. The Korea-U.S. Exchange apologized for “their” mistake.

Feeney received $4000 from felon Abramoff and three of his clients, $5000 from felon “Duke” Cunningham, and is a key supporter of indicted Tom Delay. With friends like these, he doesn’t need enemies to take him down.

Unclean machines

     Defense contractor SAIC has been charged with fraud and has a history of security breaches in its systems, but it still gets big contracts from the Pentagon and the CIA, where some of its executives have previously served. It is moving up fast in the field of electronic vote-counting.

     Cleveland-based Diebold took a lot of heat for the antics of then CEO Wally O’Dell, a major fund-raiser for George W. Bush. O’Dell’s widely publicized letter promising to deliver Ohio’s votes to Bush seemed a bit over the top.

After firing O’Dell, Diebold announced that it was withdrawing from its contract with North Carolina. A barrage of complaints and lawsuits forced the firm to reorganize.

You’ll agree that they had a lot of reorganizing to do after you read Ann Ryder’s account of Diebold’s latest acquisition, Global Election Systems, which counted much of the vote in the Florida 2000 presidential election. Ryder’s story, entitled, “Voting Machine Dirt and Then Some,” appeared in North Carolina

     “In 2002, Diebold bought Global Election Systems, which then became Diebold Election System. Global was founded by three men, one of whom spent a year in prison for fraud against the Canadian government and was part of the collapse of the Vancouver stock exchange. He was first convicted in 1974 for political corruption. Another of the founders was jailed for stock fraud, tax evasion, and money laundering. The last of the trio defrauded Chinese immigrants and sold the real estate that had been posted as bond to bail out one of the jailed partners.

“The staffer who handled the ballot printing for Global was a convicted cocaine trafficker. He brought into the company a fellow former inmate who had been in the slammer for computer-aided embezzlement. This embezzler became the lead programmer for the Global Election Systems’ vote-tally product that is still in use. By late 2000, Global’s voting system contained the first double set of books problem where all votes are recorded twice internally and don’t need to match. It appears to hide some forms of vote fraud. The guy quit when Diebold took over, but was then hired right back as a consultant.”

One or two bad apples? Well, no. There are more.

Diebold’s election division is headed by Bob Urosevich. Todd Urosevich, Bob’s brother, is an executive at ES&S. Chuck HagelSenator Chuck Hagel (R) from Nebraska also owns a chunk of ES&S, where he was formerly CEO. In 1996, he defeated an incumbent Democratic governor, won every demographic group, including blacks who had never voted Republican before, and was the first Republican in 24 years to be elected to the Senate. His victory was considered the biggest upset in the nation. Did it help that he owned and operated the voting machines?

Daniel Hopsicker of MadCowMorningNews investigated the sorry background of the major vote machine companies and found evidence in the public record that Sequoia Pacific, a company counting one in three American votes, “has been run, perhaps for decades, as a Continuing Criminal Enterprise specializing in blatant and widespread bribery of public officials, with numerous felony convictions, Mob ties, and a history replete with stories of threats, coercion, and even murder.”

     Sequoia Pacific’s transgressions, he says, are typical of all three major election services.

In 2000, Louisiana newspapers bruited the story of Commissioner of elections Jerry Fowler, “convicted of taking as much as ten million dollars over a period of a decade from Sequoia’s Southeast Representative, a man named Pasquale ‘Rocco’ Ricci, from Marlton, New Jersey.” Fowler was sentenced to five years in prison.

Court documents from the case revealed that Sequoia Pacific and ES&S colluded to buy and sell voting machines to each other until they reached the figure they would ask the state of Louisiana to pay.

Hopsicker also discovered that Sequoia Pacific operates through a number of dummy front companies. Uni-lect, International Voting Machines, Garden State Elections, and Elec-tec were some of Sequoia Pacific’s aliases. When it wasn’t colluding with a competitor, it was colluding with itself. But in the voting machine business, shell companies and shell games are commonplace.

How are some of the smaller companies? Not so good.

Voting Fraud in the USA: A Tale of Two Brothers

By Angry Girl, November 3, 2004

“Last year, two of Diebold’s top executives, Howard Van Pelt and Larry Ensminger, moved over to Advanced Voting Solutions, which is the new name of the scandal-ridden voting company Shoup Voting Solutions.

“In 1971 Shoup Voting Machine Co. had been indicted for bribing politicians in Florida. In 1979 Ransom Shoup was convicted of conspiracy and obstruction of justice during an FBI inquiry into a Philadelphia election. Shoup got a mere three-year suspended sentence.

“In the meantime, Philadelphia bought new voting machines from a new voting machine company, Danaher-Guardian. But this company only sells voting machines formerly known as the ‘Shouptronic.'”

It’s enough to make Luddites of us all. But before we rush the polling booths armed with sledgehammers, let’s demand that Congress REPEAL HAVA and return to paper ballots.

The Many Miracles of 2002
     If you believe in miracles, you will accept the results of the 2002 midterm elections as accurate. If you believe in extraordinary coincidences, you’ll say it’s a coincidence that all the election upsets occurred where there were electronic vote machines.

We’ve already mentioned that in 1994, Chuck Hagel, former CEO of ES&S, was the first Republican in 24 years to win a Senate seat in Nebraska. He ran again in 2000 and, according to his Web site, “was re-elected to his second term in the United States Senate on November 5, 2002 with 83% of the vote. That represents the biggest political victory in the history of Nebraska.” The top purveyor of computerized voting systems in the U.S. is ES&S, which counts 80% of Nebraska’s vote. It’s probably a mere coincidence that Hagel was formerly chief executive officer of ES&S and owns a substantial share of the company.

     There were the usual problems in Florida. The sleazy “felons list” was still in circulation. Some voters were annoyed on seeing the touch-screen register for Jeb Bush instead of their preferred choice. One candidate sued to have the machines examined, but the judge ruled that the machine’s innards were a trade secret. Doesn’t that give “secret elections” a new meaning? After the election, supervisors in one county discovered 103,000 uncounted ballots. Oops. They’re just a little slow to get organized in Florida, that’s all.

In Minnesota, after unbeatable Paul Wellstone died in a plane crash days before the election, popular Democrat Walter Mondale replaced him on the ballot and led in the polls, Then a miracle happened. In the last seconds of machine vote-counting, a huge shift to the Republican candidate took place, and Norman Coleman unexpectedly defeated Mondale. How often does that happen? Probably a coincidence.

In Georgia, popular Democratic senator and Vietnam veteran Max Cleland, who lost three limbs in a grenade explosion, was defeated by Saxby Chambliss. During the election, Diebold applied uncertified patches for malfunctioning machines, and, purely by coincidence, 60% of the electorate by county switched their party allegiance between the primaries and the general election. That’s 60% . Probably a coincidence. (Applying uncertified patches is business-as-usual for Diebold, but they admit it only when caught red-handed.)

There were other curious results in Texas, Missouri, and Alabama, but surely the strange counts were mere happenstance, accidents, coincidence.


Part 2 of this essay deals with the GAO report, exit polls, and the 2004 election.