Reprinted from www.libertylobby.org, home of The SPOTLIGHT archive
Liberty Lobby Founder, SPOTLIGHT Reporter Suggest Process to Prevent Election Fraud
Liberty Lobby has put forth a well-thought out and comprehensive solution to the problem of unverified computer voting that would automatically cancel out the vast number of problems with voting that have been detected in the wake of the 2000 election debacle in Florida. Liberty Lobby Board of Policy members will soon be polled as to whether or not Liberty Lobby should formally endorse the proposal, which is being called Verifiable Computer Voting (VCV).
This was among the topics discussed on the Dec. 5 broadcast of The SPOTLIGHT's weekly call-in talk forum, Radio Free America, with host Tom Valentine.
The first guest was Liberty Lobby founder Willis A. Carto, who discussed the concept of VCV. The second guest was SPOTLIGHT correspondent Christopher Bollyn who has been investigating problems with voting machines and technology.
What follows is an edited transcription of the RFA broadcast. Valentine's questions are in boldface. Carto's responses are in regular text. Bollyn's responses are in italics.
Because our voting system is so haphazard and unverifiable, we still don't know the results of the U.S. presidential election.
Exactly. It's been almost a month since the election. This is ridiculous. This should never have happened in this country. The solution is through computers and the Internet. But, of course, it must be verifiable. That's the word to remember: "verifiable." After this is all over, you can predict that the talking heads on television and the columnists will all be talking about how our voting system will just simply have to go 100 percent computer.
They are already doing that.
But what they are not talking about is the question of whether the election vote count by computer is "verifiable." What do I mean by "verifiable"? I mean a computer system that can trace every single vote down to the precinct level and back up to the county, state and national level. Don't say this is impossible. For anyone to say that computer votes can't be "verifiable" is ridiculous.
We've worked out a system where this could happen; where voters can walk into the precinct and cast their vote and then be able to follow their vote all the way up to the presidential election or to the state election they are voting in.
We can't let the establishment pull the wool over our eyes and give us computer voting that is not only unverifiable but which is controlled by someone who is adding or subtracting votes somewhere, making the computer the equivalent of a stuffed ballot box. I think a lot of people think that this is what is going on.
As you know, Liberty Lobby has been on top of this issue for 16 years. We got onto it through the Collier brothers, Ken and Jim. We called it "votescam."
The Collier brothers are the ones who brought it to light that computer voting is a fraud, that it's deceitful, and exactly the same as stuffing the ballot box. We have had many articles in The SPOTLIGHT on this and, of course, the Colliers have published a book, Votescam.*
It's now time to make a change, while everybody is transfixed listening to the arguments of lawyers about an election that means nothing to me as a new party booster of the Reform Party. Frankly, I couldn't care less who wins. But what we must do now is get some momentum behind verifiable computer voting.
The media has always focused on the need for "campaign reform" but the media has never discussed the need for honest elections with verifiable voting, particularly when it is done through computers. But there's a lot of money at stake in political elections.
There's an old saying: "Follow the money." If you follow the money, you pretty well know what's going on. We're talking about trillions of dollars that influence the election process every four years and politicians who will do anything to control this thing and divert a good deal of it into their own pockets and into the pockets of their backers.
You can only believe that corruption is happening, just as it's always happened, with ballot box stuffing, and Cook County and Tammany Hall. Many people remember the famous Ballot Box 13 that got Lyndon Johnson elected to the Senate. Crooked elections are part of our heritage. But with verified computer elections, this doesn't have to happen anymore.
Technology can save the people but only if they learn how to use it. Please explain your concept of verified computer voting.
Well, Mr. John Doe goes to the precinct on election day and he is a registered voter and he asks for his ballot and he receives an original and a carbon copy. There is the same number printed on both the original and the carbon copy. He marks his ballot or punches his hole in his ballot or does whatever he does, with a ballpoint pen or a punch or whatever. He then takes the copy and puts it in his pocket, and he gives the original to the attendant who puts it into a combination new machine (which hasn't been developed yet, but which is very simple) which combines a computer counting machine and a ballot box. This machine has enough padlocks on it (one padlock for every official) so that it cannot be opened until it's time at the end to count the votes.
At the end of the voting day, the computer prints out the vote of every person who has voted and prints out this unique number so that the holder of the number can verify that his vote has been counted accurately. He can count the votes. Down at the bottom, it will show how many votes there are for every candidate. These numbers then are transmitted up to the county and, of course, the same number of votes for the various candidates have to tally. They get up to the county and at that time it is funneled into the Internet.
There are 300 million people in the world who have computers linked to the Internet and anyone who wants to can track all these numbers and see that the numbers are not fiddled with, all the way up to the state. Then, of course, they are added together to get the national.
In other words, you will have millions of people who will have the opportunity to track these numbers and make sure they are correct. If there is any question about it, they can go back to the precincts and count it all over again. So every person who votes has the opportunity to see that his vote is counted for whomever he votes for.
And the precincts have the ultimate control, which is the way it should be.
Yes, it's very simple. It will also do away with voting machines, which are very, very suspicious and are easily programmable. It will do away with this Voters News Service (VNS), which we know is bad. Plus, there are a couple of other refinements. The votes should not be announced in the Eastern States until the polls close in the West.
How did you come up with this plan?
Well, you see, the whole thing is caused by the media. They are so anxious to get a 30-second jump on the other networks that they put tremendous pressure on all of the officials involved to get them some early word. They've done it so well that now nearly a whole month has gone by and we still don't know who is president.
Surely, on election night, by law, they could wait two or three hours and not report anything until all the computers have arrived at a total which is verified all the way down to the precinct. In the intervening time they can just sit and twiddle their thumbs. There's no reason why they have to know. It is sort of a tradition on election night to follow the returns, but it's not right if these returns really are fixed and you really don't know what's going on. I'm convinced now that most important election returns are fixed.
I think this is a good idea and a great start and Liberty Lobby's Board of Policy is going to be asked to get behind it, and I guarantee you that they are going to. Now we're being joined by Christopher Bollyn of The SPOTLIGHT staff.
I live in Cook County, outside of Chicago, and since I wanted to be an election judge, in order to get some hands-on experience (and since we were going to have new voting machines), I started looking into the voting technology we use. Cook County, of course, has a long history of vote fraud.
The new machine in Cook County is called a Precinct Ballot Counter (PBC). It's designed and operated by a company known as Elections Systems and Software (ES&S), based in Omaha, Neb. I attended election judge training and saw the machine firsthand as a potential election judge.
What worried me about the machine was that it has a modem in it -- modems are two-way. If your personal computer has a modem in it, you can be contacted or you can call out with the modem; the modem is a communicating device. The PBC also has cellular telephony inside it, that communicates with the modem.
What's worrisome about the PBC is that the computer code that runs the machine is programmed onto the control card (which is the size of a credit card) at company headquarters [ES&S] in downtown Chicago before the election.
So you have a private company, ES&S, which is very secretive -- nobody knows who owns it -- providing and operating the voting machines in about 70 percent of the jurisdictions in the United States.
ES&S is a reincarnation of the Business Records Corporation (BRC) and American Information Systems, Inc. (AIS). It's like a shell game. You have to keep your eye on where these people go. The executive in charge of the ES&S office in Chicago is named Dan McGinness. He was formerly with the BRC office in California. He refuses to talk to me. I find this a bit disturbing; I'm a taxpayer in Cook County and we paid $25 million for these machines.
The Chicago Tribune and The Chicago Sun-Times are not interested in this matter at all. Rick Fulle, asst. director of Voting Systems and Standards (VOSS) in Illinois, goes out and pre-tests voting machines in the weeks before the elections. VOSS tested voting machines in 36 counties in Illinois, out of 110 counties, and it turned out that 18 of the counties tested -- fifty percent -- had tabulation and output errors. Fulle knows what the input was -- and the output was not correct. -- but nobody seems to care.
They are about these things in Florida these days.
That's right, but the emphasis on Florida shifts the focus off all of the other voting jurisdictions where there may have been vote fraud around the country. The truth is that to fix a national election you need only alter the votes in a handful of urban jurisdictions in a few key states and you win the whole thing.
For example, by controlling the output in Cook County, Illinois, you can affect the entire statewide outcome. The rest of the state is basically rural and has a much smaller population.
This is true in many states.
The urban areas in many states that utilize the same voting equipment, like ES&S machines -- which proved to be faulty in 50 percent of the cases tested in Illinois -- happen to be the key jurisdictions where the national election can be most easily fixed.
In Illinois, Rick Fulle went out and tested nine counties and found errors in seven of them. I interviewed him and he told me that he was uncomfortable with such a high error rate. He's an honest guy and has been a non-partisan election official in Illinois for 25 years.
Cook County actually followed the typical scenario that you get on election night when you have computer vote fraud. After Fulle told me that Illinois had a high rate of errors in the pre-tests that he did, he mentioned that there had been a main frame computer problem in Cook County on election night that lasted about ninety minutes. It began about a quarter of eight and lasted until about 9:15.
He was watching the results come in and noticed that in Cook County the tally stalled with 168 precincts counted -- for ninety minutes it didn't move. Then it all came at once. This is what always happens with computer vote fraud. There's a glitch just before the polls close. This is typically when the numbers have been "cooked" or fixed.
In Cook County there are 5,000 precincts using punch card ballots, like they have in Florida, and what happens when the polls close is that the election judges merely pass the ballots through the ballot-counting machine and the machine counts them and transmits the results further down the line. Obviously, the election judges are discouraged from ever doing a manual count. And because the ballot is such a long ballot, with over 170 votes, it's simply not feasible -- you cannot count them manually.
In terms of election reform, you cannot have such cluttered and complicated ballots. You must have shorter, simpler ballots for national elections. Local elections for water districts and county judges and other offices should be held during off-year elections.
In the meantime, California has done a report on the feasibility of Internet voting. It's a 75-page document and they talk about saving money from printing paper ballots. On the other hand, however, they say that counties will have to buy these Internet voting machines.
However, they never really talk about the need for vote-count verification. They had one small paragraph on how to audit the vote count, but it's never made clear as to how to actually do a recount. This is precisely the problem we've seen in Florida this past election. These large recounts are not feasible.
We really should bear in mind that the only official tallies come from the election judges in each of the precincts. The results we hear from the networks' Voter News Service are unofficial results, and often based on scanty exit polls and projections. The precinct results are the only official tally and must be verified and signed by the election judges.
It behooves us to make sure that the precinct judges actually do a count to make sure that what the computer is saying is what they themselves have counted. That's the only way to verify the results: A decentralized system, with millions of election judges across the country counting their own local votes.