Worse Than 2000: Tuesday’s Electoral Disaster


Richard Moore


I've received many reports regarding fraud in our recent election. This article 
pulls many of those together for us. If you go to the article's URL, you will 
find many embedded links, along with some charts. I'm giving you the main text 
of the article here.  At the bottom, I've pasted in the various internal links.

best regards,


 Worse Than 2000: Tuesday's Electoral Disaster 
By William Rivers Pitt 
t r u t h o u t | Report 

Monday 08 November 2004 

Everyone remembers Florida's 2000 election debacle, and all of
the new terms it introduced to our political lexicon: Hanging
chads, dimpled chads, pregnant chads, overvotes, undervotes,
Sore Losermans, Jews for Buchanan and so forth. It took
several weeks, battalions of lawyers and a questionable
decision from the U.S. Supreme Court to show the nation and
the world how messy democracy can be. By any standard, what
happened in Florida during the 2000 Presidential election was
a disaster.

What happened during the Presidential election of 2004, in
Florida, in Ohio, and in a number of other states as well, was

Some of the problems with this past Tuesday's election will
sound all too familiar. Despite having four years to look into
and deal with the problems that cropped up in Florida in 2000,
the 'spoiled vote' chad issue reared its ugly head again.
Investigative journalist Greg Palast, the man almost
singularly responsible for exposing the more egregious
examples of illegitimate deletions of voters from the rolls,
described the continued problems in an article published just
before the election , and again in an article published just
after the election .

Four years later, and none of the Florida problems were fixed.
In fact, by all appearances, they spread from Florida to Ohio,
New Mexico, Michigan and elsewhere. Worse, these problems only
scratch the surface of what appears to have happened in
Tuesday's election. The fix that was put in place to solve
these problems - the Help America Vote Act passed in 2002
after the Florida debacle - appears to have gone a long way
towards making things worse by orders of magnitude, for it was
the Help America Vote Act which introduced paperless
electronic touch-screen voting machines to millions of voters
across the country.

At first blush, it seems like a good idea. Forget the chads,
the punch cards, the archaic booths like pianos standing on
end with the handles and the curtains. This is the 21st
century, so let's do it with computers. A simple screen
presents straightforward choices, and you touch the spot on
the screen to vote for your candidate. Your vote is recorded
by the machine, and then sent via modem to a central computer
which tallies the votes. Simple, right?

Not quite.

A Diebold voting machine. 

Is there any evidence that these machines went haywire on
Tuesday? Nationally, there were more than 1,100 reports of
electronic voting machine malfunctions. A few examples: In
Broward County, Florida , election workers were shocked to
discover that their shiny new machines were counting
backwards. "Tallies should go up as more votes are counted,"
according to this report. "That's simple math. But in some
races, the numbers had gone down. Officials found the software
used in Broward can handle only 32,000 votes per precinct.
After that, the system starts counting backward."

In Franklin County, Ohio , electronic voting machines gave
Bush 3,893 extra votes in one precinct alone. "Franklin
County's unofficial results gave Bush 4,258 votes to
Democratic challenger John Kerry's 260 votes in Precinct 1B,"
according to this report. "Records show only 638 voters cast
ballots in that precinct. Matthew Damschroder, director of the
Franklin County Board of Elections, said Bush received 365
votes there. The other 13 voters who cast ballots either voted
for other candidates or did not vote for president."

In Craven County, North Carolina , a software error on the
electronic voting machines awarded Bush 11,283 extra votes.
"The Elections Systems and Software equipment," according to
this report, "had downloaded voting information from nine of
the county's 26 precincts and as the absentee ballots were
added, the precinct totals were added a second time. An
override, like those occurring when one attempts to save a
computer file that already exists, is supposed to prevent
double counting, but did not function correctly."

In Carteret County, North Carolina , "More than 4,500 votes
may be lost in one North Carolina county because officials
believed a computer that stored ballots electronically could
hold more data than it did. Local officials said UniLect
Corp., the maker of the county's electronic voting system,
told them that each storage unit could handle 10,500 votes,
but the limit was actually 3,005 votes. Officials said 3,005
early votes were stored, but 4,530 were lost."

In LaPorte County, Indiana , a Democratic stronghold, the
electronic voting machines decided that each precinct only had
300 voters. "At about 7 p.m. Tuesday," according to this
report, "it was noticed that the first two or three printouts
from individual precinct reports all listed an identical
number of voters. Each precinct was listed as having 300
registered voters. That means the total number of voters for
the county would be 22,200, although there are actually more
than 79,000 registered voters."

In Sarpy County, Nebraska , the electronic touch screen
machines got generous. "As many as 10,000 extra votes,"
according to this report, "have been tallied and candidates
are still waiting for corrected totals. Johnny Boykin lost his
bid to be on the Papillion City Council. The difference
between victory and defeat in the race was 127 votes. Boykin
says, 'When I went in to work the next day and saw that 3,342
people had shown up to vote in our ward, I thought something's
not right.' He's right. There are not even 3,000 people
registered to vote in his ward. For some reason, some votes
were counted twice."

Stories like this have been popping up in many of the states
that put these touch-screen voting machines to use. Beyond
these reports are the folks who attempted to vote for one
candidate and saw the machine give their vote to the other
candidate . Sometimes, the flawed machines were taken
off-line, and sometimes they were not. As for the reports
above, the mistakes described were caught and corrected. How
many mistakes made by these machines were not caught, were not
corrected, and have now become part of the record?

The flaws within these machines are well documented.
Professors and researchers from Johns Hopkins performed a
detailed analysis of these electronic voting machines in May
of 2004. In their results , the Johns Hopkins researchers
stated, "This voting system is far below even the most minimal
security standards applicable in other contexts. We identify
several problems including unauthorized privilege escalation,
incorrect use of cryptography, vulnerabilities to network
threats, and poor software development processes. We show that
voters, without any insider privileges, can cast unlimited
votes without being detected by any mechanisms within the
voting terminal software."

"Furthermore," they continued, "we show that even the most
serious of our outsider attacks could have been discovered and
executed without access to the source code. In the face of
such attacks, the usual worries about insider threats are not
the only concerns; outsiders can do the damage. That said, we
demonstrate that the insider threat is also quite
considerable, showing that not only can an insider, such as a
poll worker, modify the votes, but that insiders can also
violate voter privacy and match votes with the voters who cast
them. We conclude that this voting system is unsuitable for
use in a general election."

Many of these machines do not provide the voter with a paper
ballot that verifies their vote. So if an error - or
purposefully inserted malicious code - in the untested machine
causes their vote to go for the other guy, they have no way to
verify that it happened. The lack of a paper ballot also means
the end of recounts as we have known them; now, on these new
machines, a recount amounts to pushing a button on the machine
and getting a number in return, but without those paper
ballots to do a comparison, there is no way to verify the
validity of that count.

Worst of all is the fact that all the votes collected by these
machines are sent via modem to a central tabulating computer
which counts the votes on Windows software. This means,
essentially, that any gomer with access to the central
tabulation machine who knows how to work an Excel spreadsheet
can go into this central computer and make wholesale changes
to election totals without anyone being the wiser.

Bev Harris, who has been working tirelessly since the passage
of the Help America Vote Act to inform people of the dangers
present in this new process, got a chance to demonstrate how
easy it is to steal an election on that central tabulation
computer while a guest on the CNBC program 'Topic A With Tina
Brown.' Ms. Brown was off that night, and the guest host was
none other than Governor Howard Dean. Thanks to Governor Dean
and Ms. Harris, anyone watching CNBC that night got to see
just how easy it is to steal an election because of these new
machines and the flawed processes they use.

"In a voting system," Harris said on the show, "you have all
the different voting machines at all the different polling
places, sometimes, as in a county like mine, there's a
thousand polling places in a single county. All those machines
feed into the one machine so it can add up all the votes. So,
of course, if you were going to do something you shouldn't to
a voting machine, would it be more convenient to do it to each
of the 4000 machines, or just come in here and deal with all
of them at once? What surprises people is that the central
tabulator is just a PC, like what you and I use. It's just a
regular computer."

Harris then proceeded to open a laptop computer that had on it
the software used to tabulate the votes by one of the
aforementioned central processors. Journalist Thom Hartman
describes what happened next : "So Harris had Dean close the
Diebold GEMS tabulation software, go back to the normal
Windows PC desktop, click on the 'My Computer' icon, choose
'Local Disk C:,' open the folder titled GEMS, and open the
sub-folder 'LocalDB' which, Harris noted, 'stands for local
database, that's where they keep the votes.' Harris then had
Dean double-click on a file in that folder titled Central
Tabulator Votes,' which caused the PC to open the vote count
in a database program like Excel. 'Let's just flip those,'
Harris said, as Dean cut and pasted the numbers from one cell
into the other. Harris sat up a bit straighter, smiled, and
said, 'We just edited an election, and it took us 90

Any system that makes it this easy to steal or corrupt an
election has no business being anywhere near the voters on
election day.

The counter-argument to this states that people with nefarious
intent, people with a partisan stake in the outcome of an
election, would have to have access to the central tabulation
computers in order to do harm to the process. Keep the
partisans away from the process, and everything will work out
fine. Surely no partisan political types were near these
machines on Tuesday night when the votes were counted, right?

One of the main manufacturers of these electronic touch-screen
voting machines is Diebold, Inc. More than 35 counties in Ohio
alone used the Diebold machines on Tuesday, and millions of
voters across the country did the same. According to the
Center for Responsive Politics, Diebold gave $100,000 to the
Republican National Committee in 2000, along with additional
contributions between 2001 and 2002 which totaled $95,000. Of
the four companies competing for the contracts to manufacture
these voting machines, only Diebold contributed large sums to
any political party. The CEO of Diebold is a man named Walden
O'Dell. O'Dell was very much on board with the Bush campaign,
having said publicly in 2003 that he is "committed to helping
Ohio deliver its electoral votes to the president next year."

So much for keeping the partisans at arm's length.

Is there any evidence that vote totals were deliberately
tampered with by people who had a stake in the outcome?
Nothing specific has been documented to date. Jeff Fisher, the
Democratic candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives
from Florida's 16th District, claims to have evidence that the
Florida election was hacked, and says further that he knows
who hacked it and how it was done. Such evidence is not yet

There are, however, some disturbing and compelling trends that
indicate things are not as they should be. This chart displays
a breakdown of counties in Florida. It lists the voters in
each county by party affiliation, and compares expected vote
totals to the reported results. It also separates the results
into two sections, one for 'touch-screen' counties and the
other for optical scan counties.

Over and over in these counties, the results, based upon party
registration, did not come close to matching expectations. It
can be argued, and has been argued, that such results indicate
nothing more or less than a President getting cross-over
voters, as well as late-breaking undecided voters, to come
over to his side. These are Southern Democrats, and the
numbers from previous elections show that many have often
voted Republican. Yet the news wires have been inundated for
well over a year with stories about how stridently united
Democratic voters were behind the idea of removing Bush from
office. It is worth wondering why that unity did not permeate
these Democratic voting districts. If that unity was there, it
is worth asking why the election results in these counties do
not reflect this.

Most disturbing of all is the reality that these questionable
Diebold voting machines are not isolated to Florida. This list
documents , as of March 2003, all of the counties in all of
the 37 states where Diebold machines were used to count votes.
The document is 28 pages long. That is a lot of counties, and
a lot of votes, left in the hands of machines that have a
questionable track record, that send their vote totals to
central computers which make it far too easy to change
election results, that were manufactured by a company with a
personal, financial, and publicly stated stake in George W.
Bush holding on to the White House.

This map indicates where different voting devices were used
nationally. The areas where electronic voting machines were
used is marked in blue. A poster named 'TruthIsAll' on the
DemocraticUnderground.com forums laid out the questionable
results of Tuesday's election in succinct fashion: "To believe
that Bush won the election, you must also believe: That the
exit polls were wrong; that Zogby's 5pm election day calls for
Kerry winning Ohio and Florida were wrong (he was exactly
right in his 2000 final poll); that Harris' last-minute
polling for Kerry was wrong (he was exactly right in his 2000
final poll); that incumbent rule #1 - undecideds break for the
challenger - was wrong; That the 50% rule - an incumbent
doesn't do better than his final polling - was wrong; That the
approval rating rule - an incumbent with less than 50%
approval will most likely lose the election - was wrong; that
it was just a coincidence that the exit polls were correct
where there was a paper trail and incorrect (+5% for Bush)
where there was no paper trail; that the surge in new young
voters had no positive effect for Kerry; that Kerry did worse
than Gore against an opponent who lost the support of scores
of Republican newspapers who were for Bush in 2000; that
voting machines made by Republicans with no paper trail and
with no software publication, which have been proven by
thousands of computer scientists to be vulnerable in scores of
ways, were not tampered with in this election."

In short, we have old-style vote spoilage in minority
communities. We have electronic voting machines losing votes
and adding votes all across the country. We have electronic
voting machines whose efficiency and safety have not been
tested. We have electronic voting machines that offer no paper
trail to ensure a fair outcome. We have central tabulators for
these machines running on Windows software, compiling results
that can be demonstrably tampered with. We have the makers of
these machines publicly professing their preference for George
W. Bush. We have voter trends that stray from the expected
results. We have these machines counting millions of votes all
across the country.

Perhaps this can all be dismissed. Perhaps rants like the one
posted by 'TruthIsAll' are nothing more than sour grapes from
the side that lost. Perhaps all of the glitches, wrecked
votes, unprecedented voting trends and partisan voting-machine
connections can be explained away. If so, this reporter would
very much like to see those explanations. At a bare minimum,
the fact that these questions exist at all represents a
grievous undermining of the basic confidence in the process
required to make this democracy work. Democracy should not
ever require leaps of faith, and we have put the fate of our
nation into the hands of machines that require such a leap. It
is unacceptable across the board, and calls into serious
question not only the election we just had, but any future
election involving these machines.

Representatives John Conyers, Jerrold Nadler and Robert
Wexler, all members of the House Judiciary Committee, posted a
letter on November 5th to David Walker, Comptroller General of
the United States. In the letter, they asked for an
investigation into the efficacy of these electronic voting
machines. The letter reads as follows: November 5, 2004

The Honorable David M. Walker 
Comptroller General of the United States 
U.S. General Accountability Office 
441 G Street, NW 
Washington, DC 20548 

Dear Mr. Walker: 

We write with an urgent request that the Government
Accountability Office immediately undertake an investigation
of the efficacy of voting machines and new technologies used
in the 2004 election, how election officials responded to
difficulties they encountered and what we can do in the future
to improve our election systems and administration.

In particular, we are extremely troubled by the following
reports, which we would also request that you review and
evaluate for us:

In Columbus, Ohio, an electronic voting system gave President
Bush nearly 4,000 extra votes. ("Machine Error Gives Bush
Extra Ohio Votes," Associated Press, November 5)

An electronic tally of a South Florida gambling ballot
initiative failed to record thousands of votes. "South Florida
OKs Slot Machines Proposal," (Id.)

In one North Carolina county, more than 4,500 votes were lost
because officials mistakenly believed a computer that stored
ballots could hold more data that it did. "Machine Error Gives
Bush Extra Ohio Votes," (Id.)

In San Francisco, a glitch occurred with voting machines
software that resulted in some votes being left uncounted.

In Florida, there was a substantial drop off in Democratic
votes in proportion to voter registration in counties
utilizing optical scan machines that was apparently not
present in counties using other mechanisms.

The House Judiciary Committee Democratic staff has received
numerous reports from Youngstown, Ohio that voters who
attempted to cast a vote for John Kerry on electronic voting
machines saw that their votes were instead recorded as votes
for George W. Bush. In South Florida, Congressman Wexler's
staff received numerous reports from voters in Palm Beach,
Broward and Dade Counties that they attempted to select John
Kerry but George Bush appeared on the screen. CNN has reported
that a dozen voters in six states, particularly Democrats in
Florida, reported similar problems. This was among over one
thousand such problems reported. ("Touchscreen Voting Problems
Reported," Associated Press, November 5)

Excessively long lines were a frequent problem throughout the
nation in Democratic precincts, particularly in Florida and
Ohio. In one Ohio voting precinct serving students from Kenyon
College, some voters were required to wait more than eight
hours to vote. ("All Eyes on Ohio," Dan Lothian, CNN, November

We are literally receiving additional reports every minute and
will transmit additional information as it comes available.
The essence of democracy is the confidence of the electorate
in the accuracy of voting methods and the fairness of voting
procedures. In 2000, that confidence suffered terribly, and we
fear that such a blow to our democracy may have occurred in

Thank you for your prompt attention to this inquiry.


John Conyers, Jr., Jerrold Nadler, Robert Wexler 

Ranking Member, Ranking Member, Member of Congress 
House Judiciary Committee, Subcommittee on the Constitution 

cc: Hon. F. James Sensenbrenner, Chairman 

"The essence of democracy," wrote the Congressmen, "is the
confidence of the electorate in the accuracy of voting methods
and the fairness of voting procedures. In 2000, that
confidence suffered terribly, and we fear that such a blow to
our democracy may have occurred in 2004." Those fears appear
to be valid.

John Kerry and John Edwards promised on Tuesday night that
every vote would count, and that every vote would be counted.
By Wednesday morning, Kerry had conceded the race to Bush,
eliciting outraged howls from activists who were watching the
reports of voting irregularities come piling in. Kerry had
said that 10,000 lawyers were ready to fight any wrongdoing in
this election. One hopes that he still has those lawyers on

According to black-letter election law, Bush does not
officially get a second term until the electors from the
Electoral College go to Washington D.C on December 12th.
Perhaps Kerry's 10,000 lawyers, along with a real
investigation per the request of Conyers, Nadler and Wexler,
could give those electors something to think about in the

In the meantime, soon-to-be-unemployed DNC chairman Terry
McAuliffe sent out an email on Saturday night titled 'Help
determine the Democratic Party's next steps.' In the email,
McAuliffe states, "If you were involved in these grassroots
activities, we want to hear from you about your experience.
What did you do? Did you feel the action you took was
effective? Was it a good experience for you? How would you
make it better? Tell us your thoughts." He provided a feedback
form where such thoughts can be sent .

Use the form. Give Terry your thoughts on the matter. Ask him
if those 10,000 lawyers are still available. It seems the
validity of Tuesday's election remains a wide-open question.

William Rivers Pitt is a New York Times and international
bestseller of two books - ' War on Iraq: What Team Bush
Doesn't Want You to Know ' and ' The Greatest Sedition is
Silence .'


© : t r u t h o u t 2004 


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Richard Moore (rkm)
Wexford, Ireland

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