Sunday, June 20, 2004

One million black votes didn't count in the 2000 presidential election

It's not too hard to get your vote lost -- if some politicians want it to be lost!

San Francisco Chronicle, Sunday, June 20, 2004
by Greg Palast

In the 2000 presidential election, 1.9 million Americans cast ballots that no one counted. "Spoiled votes" is the technical term. The pile of ballots left to rot has a distinctly dark hue: About 1 million of them -- half of the rejected ballots -- were cast by African Americans although black voters make up only 12 percent of the electorate.

This year, it could get worse.

These ugly racial statistics are hidden away in the mathematical thickets of the appendices to official reports coming out of the investigation of ballot-box monkey business in Florida from the last go-'round.

How do you spoil 2 million ballots? Not by leaving them out of the fridge too long. A stray mark, a jammed machine, a punch card punched twice will do it. It's easy to lose your vote, especially when some politicians want your vote lost.

While investigating the 2000 ballot count in Florida for BBC Television, I saw firsthand how the spoilage game was played -- with black voters the predetermined losers.

Florida's Gadsden County has the highest percentage of black voters in the state -- and the highest spoilage rate. One in 8 votes cast there in 2000 was never counted. Many voters wrote in "Al Gore." Optical reading machines rejected these because "Al" is a "stray mark."

By contrast, in neighboring Tallahassee, the capital, vote spoilage was nearly zip; every vote counted. The difference? In Tallahassee's white- majority county, voters placed their ballots directly into optical scanners. If they added a stray mark, they received another ballot with instructions to correct it.

In other words, in the white county, make a mistake and get another ballot; in the black county, make a mistake, your ballot is tossed.

The U.S. Civil Rights Commission looked into the smelly pile of spoiled ballots and concluded that, of the 179,855 ballots invalidated by Florida officials, 53 percent were cast by black voters. In Florida, a black citizen was 10 times as likely to have a vote rejected as a white voter.

But let's not get smug about Florida's Jim Crow spoilage rate. Civil Rights Commissioner Christopher Edley, recently appointed dean of Boalt Hall School of Law at UC Berkeley, took the Florida study nationwide. His team discovered the uncomfortable fact that Florida is typical of the nation.

Philip Klinkner, the statistician working on the Edley investigations, concluded, "It appears that about half of all ballots spoiled in the U.S.A. -- about 1 million votes -- were cast by nonwhite voters."

This "no count," as the Civil Rights Commission calls it, is no accident. In Florida, for example, I discovered that technicians had warned Gov. Jeb Bush's office well in advance of November 2000 of the racial bend in the vote- count procedures.

Herein lies the problem. An apartheid vote-counting system is far from politically neutral. Given that more than 90 percent of the black electorate votes Democratic, had all the "spoiled" votes been tallied, Gore would have taken Florida in a walk, not to mention fattening his popular vote total nationwide. It's not surprising that the First Brother's team, informed of impending rejection of black ballots, looked away and whistled.

The ballot-box blackout is not the monopoly of one party. Cook County, Ill., has one of the nation's worst spoilage rates. That's not surprising. Boss Daley's Democratic machine, now his son's, survives by systematic disenfranchisement of Chicago's black vote.

How can we fix it? First, let's shed the convenient excuses for vote spoilage, such as a lack of voter education. One television network stated as fact that Florida's black voters, newly registered and lacking education, had difficulty with their ballots. In other words, blacks are too dumb to vote.

This convenient racist excuse is dead wrong. After that disaster in Gadsden, Fla., public outcry forced the government to change that black county's procedures to match that of white counties. The result: near zero spoilage in the 2002 election. Ballot design, machines and procedure, says statistician Klinkner, control spoilage.

In other words, the vote counters, not the voters, are to blame. Politicians who choose the type of ballot and the method of counting have long fine-tuned the spoilage rate to their liking.

It is about to get worse. The ill-named "Help America Vote Act," signed by President Bush in 2002, is pushing computerization of the ballot box.

California decertified some of Diebold Corp.'s digital ballot boxes in response to fears that hackers could pick our next president. But the known danger of black-box voting is that computers, even with their software secure, are vulnerable to low-tech spoilage games: polls opening late, locked-in votes, votes lost in the ether.

And once again, the history of computer-voting glitches has a decidedly racial bias. Florida's Broward County grandly shifted to touch-screen voting in 2002. In white precincts, all seemed to go well. In black precincts, hundreds of African Americans showed up at polls with machines down and votes that simply disappeared.

Going digital won't fix the problem. Canada and Sweden vote on paper ballots with little spoilage and without suspicious counts.

In America, a simple fix based on paper balloting is resisted because, unfortunately, too many politicians who understand the racial bias in the vote- spoilage game are its beneficiaries, with little incentive to find those missing 1 million black voters' ballots.

Greg Palast is the author of "The Best Democracy Money Can Buy - The New Expanded Election Edition" from which this article is taken. For more information, visit

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

State (California) approves paper records for e-voting

By Ian Hoffman, STAFF WRITER

California approved the nation's first standards Tuesday for a paper record to be produced by electronic voting machines and verified by voters.
Congress and at least 20 states are debating laws requiring that electronic voting machines produce a "voter-verified paper trail" so voters can be sure their electronic vote was properly recorded and so local officials would have something to recount.

But no one is certain what such a paper trail would look like, although about a half-dozen voting-system vendors have developed or are working on e-voting machines that generate a printout.

California Secretary of State Kevin Shelley ordered all e-voting machines in the state to offer the paper trail by July 2006 and had promised to define it by May.

"California is at the forefront of the movement toward a paper trail, and these standards help lead the way," said Kim Alexander, a paper-trail advocate and president of the Davis-based California Voter Foundation.


This is definitely a positive step. However this statement misses the real point entirely:
"Shelley and other California officials say instability and lax security of the current generation of e-voting machines have made a paper trail inescapable. "

It is necessary because the GOP fixed the legislation so the technology providers could fix the machines enabling them to fix the elections for the GOP.

It's not complicated.

Monday, June 14, 2004

Women Voters Drop Paperless Vote Support (BBV)

"The League of Women Voters rescinded its support of paperless voting machines on Monday after hundreds of angry members voiced concern that paper ballots were the only way to safeguard elections from fraud, hackers or computer malfunctions.

"About 800 delegates who attended the nonpartisan league's biennial convention in Washington voted overwhelmingly in favor of a resolution that supports `voting systems and procedures that are secure, accurate, recountable and accessible.'"

That relatively neutral stance was a sharp change from last year, when league leaders endorsed paperless terminals as reliable alternatives to antiquated punch card and lever systems. About 30 percent of the electorate will use touchscreen voting machines in the November election, and hardly any of the machines provide paper records that could be used in case of a contested election.

Last year's endorsement infuriated members from chapters around the country -- particularly in Silicon Valley and other technology-savvy enclaves, where computer scientists say the systems jeopardize elections. Legitimate recounts are impossible without paper records of every vote cast, they say.

E-voting critics who attended the five-day convention, which ends Tuesday, said the league's revision was welcome -- if not overdue.

``My initial reaction is incredible joy and relief,'' said computer scientist Barbara Simons, 63, past president of the Association for Computing Machinery and a league member from a chapter in Palo Alto, Calif. ``This issue was threatening to split the league apart. ... The league now has a position that I feel very comfortable supporting.''


On the Net:


No surprise here...the wave is becomming a tsunami. Although I fear it may crest too late for us in Nov.

Sunday, June 13, 2004

Gambling on Voting- Making Votes Count - New York Times

If election officials want to convince voters that electronic voting can be trusted, they should be willing to make it at least as secure as slot machines. To appreciate how poor the oversight on voting systems is, it's useful to look at the way Nevada systematically ensures that electronic gambling machines in Las Vegas operate honestly and accurately. Electronic voting, by comparison, is rife with lax procedures, security risks and conflicts of interest.

On a trip last week to the Nevada Gaming Control Board laboratory, in a state office building off the Las Vegas Strip, we found testing and enforcement mechanisms that go far beyond what is required for electronic voting. Among the ways gamblers are more protected than voters:


What a wonderful example of how technology CAN be used to manage voting and ensure that every vote counts.

Saturday, June 12, 2004

Fla. Voting Machines Have Recount Flaw

Sat Jun 12, 7:09 PM ET

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Touchscreen voting machines in 11 counties have a software flaw that could make manual recounts impossible in November's presidential election, state officials said.

A spokeswoman for the secretary of state called the problems "minor technical hiccups" that can be resolved, but critics allege voting officials wrongly certified a voting system they knew had a bug.

The electronic voting machines are a response to Florida's 2000 presidential election fiasco, where thousands of punchcard ballots were improperly marked. But the new machines have brought concerns that errors could go unchecked without paper records of the electronic voting.

The machines, made by Election Systems & Software of Omaha, Neb., fail to provide a consistent electronic "event log" of voting activity when asked to reproduce what happened during the election, state officials said.

Officials with the company and the state Division of Elections said they believe they can fix the problem by linking the voting equipment with laptop computers. Florida's two largest counties — Miami-Dade and Broward — are among those affected by the flaws.

Rep. Robert Wexler, D-Fla., has asked state Attorney General Charlie Crist to investigate whether the head of the state elections division lied under oath when he denied knowing of the computer problem before reading about it in the media. A spokeswoman for Crist said he was reviewing the request.

The elections chief, Ed Kast, abruptly resigned Monday, saying he wanted a change of pace.

During a May 17 deposition for a lawsuit Wexler filed seeking to require a paper trail for state voting machines, Kast said he had recently heard of the problem only days earlier. But in a letter to Crist, Wexler said the Miami-Dade Election Reform Coalition, a citizens' group, notified Kast and Secretary of State Glenda Hood of the glitch in March.

Hood blamed Miami-Dade Supervisor of Elections Constance Kaplan for the delay, telling Kaplan in a May 13 letter she should have notified state officials when she learned of the problem in June 2003.

Nonetheless, state and county election officials insist the problem can be resolved in the five months before the November election.

"These are minor technical hiccups that happen," said Hood spokeswoman Nicole DeLara. "No votes are lost, or could be lost."

Wexler and coalition members said they want to know how the state can be sure that glitches will not prevent elections officials from even detecting computer malfunctions.

"How do you know that any votes were lost if your audit is wrong?" asked Lida Rodriguez-Taseff, chairwoman of the Miami-Dade coalition.

State officials say there is no need for recounts, or an audit trail, with the touchscreen system because it was designed to prevent people from voting in the same race more than once — an overvote — and provide multiple alerts to voters to warn them when they are skipping a race — an undervote.

They emphasize that the "glitch" in the touchscreen machines occurs when the audit is done after the election, not when the tally sheet is printed in each precinct when polls close.

end ...............

All roads in this Touch Screen Voting Machines scandal seem to go though the same place.. Florida...hhmm

"If You Want To Win An Election, Just Control The Voting Machines"

I am respositng this because it's becomming necessary.

Published on Friday, January 31, 2003 by
by Thom Hartmann

Maybe Nebraska Republican Chuck Hagel honestly won two US Senate elections. Maybe it's true that the citizens of Georgia simply decided that incumbent Democratic Senator Max Cleland, a wildly popular war veteran who lost three limbs in Vietnam, was, as his successful Republican challenger suggested in his campaign ads, too unpatriotic to remain in the Senate. Maybe George W. Bush, Alabama's new Republican governor Bob Riley, and a small but congressionally decisive handful of other long-shot Republican candidates really did win those states where conventional wisdom and straw polls showed them losing in the last few election cycles.

Perhaps, after a half-century of fine-tuning exit polling to such a science that it's now sometimes used to verify how clean elections are in Third World countries, it really did suddenly become inaccurate in the United States in the past six years and just won't work here anymore. Perhaps it's just a coincidence that the sudden rise of inaccurate exit polls happened around the same time corporate-programmed, computer-controlled, modem-capable voting machines began recording and tabulating ballots.

But if any of this is true, there's not much of a paper trail from the voters' hand to prove it.

You'd think in an open democracy that the government - answerable to all its citizens rather than a handful of corporate officers and stockholders - would program, repair, and control the voting machines. You'd think the computers that handle our cherished ballots would be open and their software and programming available for public scrutiny. You'd think there would be a paper trail of the vote, which could be followed and audited if a there was evidence of voting fraud or if exit polls disagreed with computerized vote counts.

You'd be wrong.

The respected Washington, DC publication The Hill ( has confirmed that former conservative radio talk-show host and now Republican U.S. Senator Chuck Hagel was the head of, and continues to own part interest in, the company that owns the company that installed, programmed, and largely ran the voting machines that were used by most of the citizens of Nebraska.

Back when Hagel first ran there for the U.S. Senate in 1996, his company's computer-controlled voting machines showed he'd won stunning upsets in both the primaries and the general election. The Washington Post (1/13/1997) said Hagel's "Senate victory against an incumbent Democratic governor was the major Republican upset in the November election." According to Bev Harris of, Hagel won virtually every demographic group, including many largely Black communities that had never before voted Republican. Hagel was the first Republican in 24 years to win a Senate seat in Nebraska.

Six years later Hagel ran again, this time against Democrat Charlie Matulka in 2002, and won in a landslide. As his website says, Hagel "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."

What Hagel's website fails to disclose is that about 80 percent of those votes were counted by computer-controlled voting machines put in place by the company affiliated with Hagel. Built by that company. Programmed by that company.

"This is a big story, bigger than Watergate ever was," said Hagel's Democratic opponent in the 2002 Senate race, Charlie Matulka ( "They say Hagel shocked the world, but he didn't shock me."

Is Matulka the sore loser the Hagel campaign paints him as, or is he democracy's proverbial canary in the mineshaft?


Read this article and you will understand what we are up against.


Tuesday, June 08, 2004

Delays, Purge Hit Voter Rolls

Photo by: JAY NOLAN
Willie Johnson, 69, can no longer vote because of criminal records from the 1950's. Johnson says he's been voting for the passed 30 years but has been unable to since 2000.

By WILLIAM MARCH - Published: Jun 7, 2004

TAMPA - For the second straight presidential election, Florida's law against former felons voting, a law grounded in Old South racism, may prevent thousands of people from voting.
Some of those people may be legally entitled to vote. Others won't be able to navigate the bureaucratic hurdles of the state's clemency process to get their rights restored in time for the election.

But the state government is concentrating on removing as many former felons from voting rolls as possible, even though critics charge that it risks disenfranchising some who are legally entitled to vote. Meanwhile, those critics charge, the state is dragging its feet on restoring those wrongly removed from voter rolls in 2000.

Florida is one of only seven states with laws that prevent former felons from voting unless they go through a long and sometimes difficult process of having their rights restored.

That law, which wasn't enforced by the state before the controversial 2000 presidential race, caused hundreds or possibly thousands of voters - no one knows for sure - to be turned away from the polls in 2000, some wrongly, because of errors in a state ``purge list'' of former felons.

Today, as the 2004 election nears:

* More than 43,000 Floridians are on the waiting list to have their rights restored, some of whom first learned in 2000, after voting for years, that they weren't legally entitled to vote. The restoration process can take years, and the list is growing, not shrinking.

* Hundreds of people wrongly removed from voter rolls in 2000, who never committed felonies or whose rights had been restored, may not yet have been put back on the rolls.

* A lawsuit charges that Florida's felon disenfranchisement is unconstitutional and affects up to 600,000 people.

Despite all this, state officials have just sent elections supervisors in Florida's 67 counties another list of 47,000 names of individuals who may have committed felonies in the past, telling the supervisors to purge their rolls again.

Some supervisors say they don't have the staff, expertise or money to do the purge without the same kind of errors as in 2000.

Legally purged voters, meanwhile, won't find out about it until they get a letter from an election supervisor this summer - too late to have their rights restored for this election - or are turned away on Election Day.

The vast majority of them are black and would be likely to vote Democratic.

In Miami-Dade County, for example, blacks are 20 percent of the population but make up 65 percent of those on the 2000 felon purge lists.

Asked why a new purge list is going out less than six months before the election, Secretary of State Glenda Hood said it's part of establishing a statewide voter list, as required by the state's 2001 election reform law. The law was passed in the wake of the disputed presidential vote.

``The legislation mandated that as soon as this process [of identifying improperly registered names] was complete, the information be sent out,'' said Hood, a Republican and an appointee of Gov. Jeb Bush.

But Hood acknowledged ``there is no particular time line'' in the law for sending purge lists to county elections supervisors.

Hood's staff didn't follow through on a promise to have a staff attorney call a reporter to discuss precisely what part of the new law requires that the list go out now.

When news of the new purge list broke about three weeks ago, it drew a chorus of anger from civil rights advocates who had sued the state over the 2000 election problems.

``Frankly, the state should first fix the problems with people who were erroneously thrown off in 2000 before they start on another purge,'' said Elliot Mincberg, legal director of People for the American Way Foundation, a liberal-oriented advocacy group.

State officials are seeking to keep the new purge list secret, but CNN is suing to get a copy. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Tallahassee, and several news organizations including The Tampa Tribune plan to join the lawsuit.


Amazing how blatant an attempt this is to throw the Reselection to Jeb's brother GW.

Florida's Elections Chief Steps Down

By Associated Press

June 8, 2004, 3:25 AM EDT

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- A veteran elections official has quit his post overseeing the state's voting machinery.

Less than five months before the Nov. 2 election, Ed Kast stepped down as chief of the Division of Elections, saying he wished to pursue other interests.

Kast, 53, had worked at the Department of State since 1994 and took over as elections chief in 2002.

Secretary of State Glenda Hood named the agency's top lawyer, Dawn Roberts, to replace him.

Kast said he believed the Division of Elections had plenty of time to get ready for Election Day under new leadership.


Not good people. Not good at all. Suggests a pending electorial disaster. I wonder if this person is ready to go public or go hide.

Kast Resignation Prompts New Concerns on Florida Voting Purge, Fall Election

For Immediate Release: 6/7/2004

Tallahassee, Florida – In the wake of the resignation of the Florida state director of Elections, Ed Kast, People For the American Way Foundation (PFAWF) called for renewed efforts to restore voters wrongly purged from the voting rolls in 1999 and 2000, and called on Florida Secretary of State Glenda Hood to delay implementation of a new purge list for the 2004 elections.

“When the key election official for the state resigns with just five months to go, it’s a sign of serious disarray and instability,” said Sharon Lettman, PFAWF’s state director for the Election Protection voter education and advocacy program. “Just when county supervisors are looking for clear leadership, here comes another curve ball. We call on the Secretary of State to withdraw her demand for immediate implementation of the new voter purge list, and to make the restoration of voters’ rights the state’s highest priority.”


This is a very bad sign. This person knows enough to make sure he is far away from this oncomming clamity (The 04 Reselection).