by Ann Zegler
Letter to the Media sent 10-24-08:
I am writing to ask media news outlets to take a better look at the big story of the November 4 elections: the UNDEMOCRATIC way that general election votes are being counted in America in 2008.
I think the media has a responsibility to investigate and make known to the public how the Republican party, with federal funding made available as a result of the Help America Vote Act of 2002, has privatized the counting of our votes and legitimized vote theft nationwide. Voting machines are now stealing and will steal votes on November 4, and nothing is being done. As we draw nearer to November 4, the media has a clear choice.
Mainstream media can remain silent, doing nothing or very little to prevent a disaster on November 4, or the media can stand up for “we the people” and sound an urgent alarm to awaken sleeping citizens about the planned robbery of our votes.
As a result of funding provided by HAVA starting in 2002, and well coordinated planning by a group of Republican zealots, almost 100% of our votes in national elections are now counted privately and secretly by 1 of 4 major election systems corporations: Diebold/Premier Election Systems, E.S.& S., Sequoia Voting Systems, and TRIAD. With the Republicans having control of congress and the presidency since 2000, and retaining a veto proof majority in congress in 2006, four corporations, all owned and operated by outspoken partisan Republicans, have been put in place nationwide to now secretly count almost all of our votes without any transparency or pubic oversight.
These private vendors have been given the exclusive right to manage voter registration databases, ballot printing, voting machinery programming, tabulation of vote counts, and final reporting of results. Public elections are no longer conducted by the public.
With our elections now under the control of four major partisan corporations, the public should be concerned that all of these corporations are choosing to ignore a documented number of security results. In December 2003, Ohio conducted a comparative study of four electronic systems’ vendors. E.S.& S. led the pack with a total of 17 general security risks found, but had the lowest number of “very high security risks.” Diebold and Sequoia tied for second worst, each with 15 reported genera risks. Five of Diebold’s were rated “very high” and 3 of Sequoia’s. TRIAD came in last but its risks are also numerous and documented.
As for regulation of these voting systems, congress has let the public down. There is currently NO federal agency that has regulatory authority or controls over the multi-billion dollar elections industry. There are NO government standards or restrictions on who can sell and service voting machines and voting systems. Virtually anybody with money and know-how can get into the business of counting our votes. This might help explain why we keep running into criminals, political candidates, defense contractors, and other odd bedfellows in the mix when we examine the rosters of our election companies. They are privately owned companies, some by foreign nationals, with multi-million dollar contracts, haunted by the presence of convicted felons in high places, dummy front companies, and even mob connections.
With roughly 80% of all computer crimes perpetrated by insiders, the public and the media have reason to worry. Insiders are writing the code and maintaining the hardware. Members of both parties have reason to be concerned.
[From www.whoscounting.net/TheCompanies.htm ]
Recently, in Arizona an elections division programmer admitted that in 2006 he flipped votes and rigged the results provided by a Diebold tabulator, on the direction of his boss in the Pima County, AZ elections division.
A former Diebold contractor recently blew the whistle on “Electronic Manipulation of Votes.” www.youtube.com/watch?v=SKnIghBsU58
Republican cyber security expert Stephen Spoonamore recently explained why electronic voting systems are inherently insecure.
Video is online demonstrating to anyone who wants to see, how easily electronic voting machines can be hacked.
Both tabulators and optical scanners can be manipulated. Even if we fill out a paper ballot, our vote becomes insecure when it is scanned by an electronic optical scanner.
In early voting, trusting voters are seeing their votes entered on E.S.& S.touchscreen machines flip right in front of them, flipping from Democrat to Republican candidates in West Virginia.
Votes are flipping from Republican to Democrat in Tennessee.
Election Protection filmmakers David and Patricia Earnhardt watch their votes flip on an E.S.& S. touchscreen voting machine in Tennessee.
In Florida, machines fail to work for early voters and cause long lines.
In Texas, misinformation causes lost votes on machines.
Sequoia continues to put into service voting machines in violation of federal law.
The is only a partial list of problems, a list that will continue to grow as early voting continues and as November 4 draws closer.
Registration lists that are maintained by partisan vendors, ballot printing errors made by partisan vendors, touch-screen voting machines, optical scanners that count paper ballots, and electronic tabulators and data memory cards all owned by partisan vendors, are going to be used in this election to secretly and privately record and count the vote in this public election, using secret proprietary software that is unavailable to the public for oversight or accountability.
Something is very wrong in this election. Public elections should be conducted by members of the public and in full view of the public. Elections should be monitored by members of all political parties, and results should be verifiable if they are in question.
When the public is shut out of the election process, in favor of secret vote counting, and when the public is denied the ability to verify questionable results, both democrats and republicans and everyone else has a reason for alarm.
When the Republican party began their operation to put our elections under the control of four major voting systems corporate vendors, all owned and operated by staunch Republican party supporters, I think they unwittingly opened “Pandora’s box.” They forgot that when you decide to use electronic machines to count and tabulate votes, the vulnerability of those machines to “hacking” can produce “false results” in more than one direction.
Republicans had counted on the fact that the elections systems put into place would then produce the “desired results” because they were all owned, operated, and under the control of partisan Republicans with a clear agenda.
DIEBOLD Company CEO, Wally O’Dell, and longtime Diebold Director and Chairman “Tim” Timken, are steadfast Republican loyalists and major contributors to Republican candidates, including George W. Bush. Timken’s company and family have contributed over a million dollars to the GOP.
Diebold is publicly traded and listed on the New York Stock Exchange as ‘DBD’. The Diebold Company itself earns more revenue as a Military Defense Contractor than in the manufacture and sales of voting equipment. But you have to scrutinize their website to learn this information. The more one familiarizes oneself with voting equipment vendors…the more defense contractors and intelligence connections seems to surface.
[ From the website www.whoscounting.net/TheCompanies.htm ]
ES&S has a very convoluted history. A Texas election company, Cronus Industries, morphed into Business Records Corp (BRC). A Former BRC owner was Carolyn Hunt, of the Hunt oil family, which provided start up money for the Council for National Policy(CNP). Some CNP members include Oliver North, former Klu Klux Klan member Richard Shoff, Major General John Singlaub, and other Iran-Contra notables, along with Reverend Jerry Falwell, Jesse Helms, Trent Lott, Ralph Reed, Jeffrey and Joseph Coors, Tim LaHaye, Paul Weyrich and Grover Norquist. BRC and three other companies were later purchased by American Information Systems (AIS) in 1997 to form ES&S.
The CEO and President of ES&S is Aldo Tesi. He comes from the Credit Card business, which is ironic, only in its being a business that relies on paper receipts to verify transactions…something ES&S voting equipment in America has not been able to do.
VP Tom Eschberger came to ES&S from the former BRC Texas company, after receiving immunity for his involvement in an Arkansas fraud case. Tom’s partner at BRC was indicted in the scandal that involved laundering money and voting machine sales. His partner went to Federal Prison and Tom went to ES&S.
[From www.whoscounting.net/TheCompanies.htm ]
SEQUOIA VOTING SYSTEMS began as “American Voting Machine” under control of stockholders in Rockwell, a Defense contractor in the 1960’s, according to investigative journalist Daniel Hopsicker. Founder and CEO Lloyd Dixon resigned in 1973, and later went to prison after being indicted by a New York Federal Grand Jury for bribing Buffalo, NY Election Officials. The early years of the company saw them fined for bribery of both Texas and Arkansas Election Officials as well.
In the 1990’s, new methods of not only voting, but of vote counting were surfacing and revolutionizing the industry. And with that, new methods of vote fraud were cropping up faster than a white hat hacker could keep tabs on them.
In 1994, New Orleans got a sneak peek at the havoc that would later be wreaked upon multitudes of voters by the fickle new DRE/Touch Screen machines. Susan Barnecker was running for a local City Council seat against the reputedly mob-connected Nick Gambalucca. There was also a “Gambling Proposition” on the ballot. HARRAH’S was seeking to build a new Casino in downtown New Orleans, and all Susan Barnecker wanted was a City Council position.
She was pegged to win, but she did not. She knew there was a law that said any candidate that distrusted the outcome of an election can inspect the machines for themselves if done within three days following an election.
She did just that, accompanied by a videographer for backup. Sure enough, three out of four times when she pressed her name on the Touch Screen, the other candidate, Gambalucca, electronically received her vote. It happened on multiple machines and she got it all on tape. Unfortunately, the exercise did not serve to help Ms. Barnecker in her career or her life. Her life was threatened daily after the incident, much like what is happening today to Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner for attempting to ensure a fair election for Ohio voters. [ www.bradblog.com/?cat=236 ]
For Susan Barnecker in 1994, “60 Minutes” filmed an interview with her, chronicling her story, but inexplicably never ran the piece.
One other curiosity about this 1994 election. According to investigative journalist Daniel Hopsicker, about two weeks prior to the vote, the Supervisor of Elections in New Orleans was discovered dead, behind a garbage dumpster, his death declared to be a suicide. His name was Tony Giambelluca, and he was the one entrusted with the keys to the warehouse containing the voting machines. Apparently, running elections has now become a dangerous and life-threatening job.
Sequoia Voting Systems was owned until recently by London based “De La Rue Cash Systems.” De La Rue’s parent company, Madison Dearborn, is a partner of the Carlyle Group, and investment firm which until very recently employed former President George H.W. Bush.
From a Sequoia press release dated March 9, 2005, it appears that De La Rue has quietly just pulled out of the election business altogether, and that Sequoia has been acquired by another company, Smartmatic Automated Election Systems (SAES) out of Boca Raton,
Today Sequoia Voting Systems is owned by Smartmatic Corporation, a U.S. company.
Smartmatic Corporation is owned by a Dutch holding company, which also owns all of the other companies in which Smartmatic currently conducts business. Smartmatic is privately held. A controlling interest is held by its founder and CEO, Antonio Mugica, who hold dual Spanish and Venezuelan citizenship.
All of the above facts are direct quotes from www.thelandesreport.com/VotingMachineCompanies.htm .
TRIAD SYSTEMS is owned by Todd Rapp, a generous donor to the Republican Party, as well as to President Bush’s campaign. Todd is also the software writer for Triad’s widely used central tabulators. Like Diebold, Triad also has their very own company technicians present on Election Day to run their Tabualtors…their vote counting programs.
Triad received a flurry of bad press when Sherole Eaton, Deputy Director of Elections for Hocking County, Ohio, testified to the tampering of the tabulators by a Triad employed technician, who visited their offices unexpected on December 10, 2004—after the election, but before the recount effort. Eaton expressed initial hesitation to tell her story as she feared she would lose her job. She eventually was replaced and is now seeking reinstatement based on whistleblower protections.
Triad is now under investigation by members of the U.S. Congress.
A few smaller companies have managed to get contracts to count votes in a few counties nationwide, and in almost everyone of these companies you find very close connections to the Bush family, major Defense and Intelligence contractors, and global corporations involved in the financial world and homeland security.
When the Republican Party linked up with these voting systems corporations for the obvious goal of controlling elections, they made one very grave mistake. They did not think ahead. If Republicans can manipulate election results on E-Voting machines, then so can Democrats or anyone else that can manage to get access to the programming code.
PANDORA’S BOX has now been opened and again this week, when early voters came to vote, some saw the vote they had just entered on a Touch Screen machine flip in front of their eyes, flipping Democrat to Republican, and in some counties, to the surprise I’m sure of some, from Republican to Democrat. www.bradblog.com/?p=6547
Either one programmer made a mistake or more programmers are now in the game. No one knows who they are, at least not the public, or exactly how they are doing it, and it appears these programmers are under little control.
Since we now know that in addition to electronic Touch Screen E-Voting machines, electronic Optical Scanners and electronic Tabulators also run on programs vulnerable to hacking, we find ourselves in the U.S. today, holding an election conducted by Diebold/Premier Election Systems, E.S.& S., Sequoia Voting Systems, TRIAD, and a few smaller players. Our election results on November will ultimately be determined by unknown programmers and unknown program hackers.
The public gets to start the game (called elections) by lining up and casting the first votes, but at the end of the game, on November 4, “WE THE PEOPLE” are left behind in long lines leading up to a room with broken E-Voting machines, improperly printed ballots, and in many cases, too few paper ballots in non-Touch Screen precincts. Only known to a few select people, the game is quietly moved into secret rooms with unknown players. Then, on election night, Directors of Elections nationwide will share with the media and the public, the election results determined in secret and provided largely by Diebold/Premier, ES&S, Sequoia, TRIAD.
‘WE THE PEOPLE” will be left to deal with our exhaustion and disbelief, and as of November 4, 2008, our democratic experiment that began in 1776, will have ended.
Sending troops to destroy the dictatorship of Saddam Hussein, and having U.S. media coverage of all of those “purple fingers” held up by Iraqis happy to participate in a fair election, apparently was all “for show.”
Some of the very same champions of fighting terrorism overseas, have been quietly and secretly destroying our right to vote in fair elections here at home. That should be headline news in the U.S. right now, not the latest changes in polling data or the latest political gaffe.
I really love all of the new electronic U.S. maps used by television anchors to play with each state’s electoral votes but I’m afraid it all came too late. Unless paper ballots are mandated for all votes cast with a mandated 10% Hand Audit, we will all be presented on November 4 with “Faith Based” election results, provided by companies that have done nothing to deserve our faith.
Since the public will never be able to know for sure if the vote counts were accurate, not one candidate or issue will be a legitimate winner in 2008. The American public has been lied to so many times by our current leaders, starting with the WMD’s that Iraq did not have, that disbelief is now turning into anger.
Paper Ballots and Hand Counted Audits are needed right now and a return to Hand Counted Paper Ballots is needed for the future. It’s not hard to do but it does return control of our country to WE THE PEOPLE. I do realize that might not be a popular idea in some circles.
The media has one last chance to speak out for the public. Please help sound the alarm!
A rescue is needed but it is going to require the efforts of more than one person. It’s going to require a “VERY BIG PUBLIC RESPONSE.” Please help. I have really enjoyed living in a democracy and I really don’t want to lose it.
Ann Zegler election integrity leader in San Diego Network of Spiritual Progressives.
San Diego, CA 92107 firstname.lastname@example.org