September 16th, 2008 Visit our homepage
Widespread, Illegal Voter Suppression Already Underway
The election is just around the corner and I'm getting many emails asking questions about how clean it's going to be this time around. Unfortunately it doesn't look good.
Already we're seeing many reports of voter "purging," which is when voters are removed from the active voting list and denied the right to vote. Often they are never informed and don't find out until they show up to vote and are turned away at the poll, or forced to use a provisional ballot which is not counted on election night. Through various practices, certain groups of people are targeted. Reports are flooding in from many states, and we can only guess what we're not hearing about.
Voting machines are already malfunctioning and Diebold was forced to admit there's a huge bug in their vote counting software. Yet another big lawsuit against Diebold, this time filed by the OH Secretary of State, could throw a big monkey wrench into the whole picture.
Hang on, it's going to be a tough ride. For the lowdown, read on and stay tuned...Table of Contents
When we started writing this newsletter, there was a report of thousands of eligible voters being purged from the voters list in Ohio. By the time we finished putting the newsletter together, it was clear - the efforts to disenfranchise voters is organized, widespread, and in many cases it is clearly targeted to certain groups of people. The reports just keep pouring in from more and more states.
We are getting widespread reports that the McCain campaign is sending out fake absentee voting applications to Democrats. Voters send in the application to the wrong address and they never actually sign up.
Another tactic that is happening in several states is called "voter caging." It starts when election officials send out a mass mailing, sometimes with good intentions - to inform voters. However, if the mail is returned from a certain address, watch out. On election day, these voters are challenged at the polls. They are forced to vote by provisional ballot, which is not counted on election night, or they are sometimes denied the right to vote at all.
There are variations on voter caging, and many ways that groups of people can be targeted through these tactics.
Unfortunately there is no sign that the Obama campaign is going to do anything about it. The stories have made their ways through the press enough, so they must know of the problem. But so far they haven't even acknowledged it, let alone taken any action. What could they do, you ask? For one thing they could let more people know that it's happening, because the mainstream press is doing its usual job of ignoring important stories like these. Sometimes just exposing a problem is a major step in correcting it. They could also file a complaint with the FEC. We suggest that many people contact the Obama campaign and send them links to these news stories and demand that they do something about it.
So it's not just the voting machines we have to worry about. Good old fashioned voter suppression is alive and well in America in 2008. The Election Justice Center considers this to be as important as voting machine security, so we will follow these stories closely and report them to you. Here are just some of news reports of organized voter suppression currently taking place:
The best advice is for everyone to check to make sure you're registered. The Election Assistance Commission has provided a new tool to give the voter more information on who to check with and when is the deadline for registration in each state and territory: http://www.eac.gov/voter/docs/state-reg-deadlines.xls. The Election Justice Center will be keeping track of all voter suppression reports on our website.
Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner has filed a lawsuit against Diebold for breach of contract, breach of warranty, and fraud. Butler county election officials voted unanimously to join the suit, citing the machines lost votes in the March primary. This makes four counties who have joined the suit so far, as Brunner says actually 11 counties experienced significant problems in the primaries. In some cases the voting machines failed to count votes properly. The Secretary conducted a study of the voting machines earlier this year and determined that all touchscreen voting machines are substandard and need to be replaced. This is not the not the first (or second) time Diebold has been sued for fraud by a Secretary of State. The lawsuit will not likely affect this year's election but it could have a big affect on the overal picture. This adds to the growing list of evidence that Diebold is an untrustworthy company - certainly not one that should be counting our votes behind closed doors, which unfortunately is what we have entrusted them to do. Kudos to Ms. Brunner for doing what is right. For those interested in reading the text of the lawsuit filing, click here for the PDF. You can skip to the part that says:
During the primary elections in Ohio this Spring, an Ohio county discovered that the votes were not being counted properly. At first Diebold denied the problem existed. But now Diebold has admitted that their tabulator software, known as GEMS, and used in at least 34 states, does not count votes correctly. BradBlog reports that it actually loses votes, by not counting them at all, yet gives the system administrator no indication that the votes were not counted. The bug has been in the counting software for years and is still there today. CNN covered the story (youtube video here).
Imagine, a very close election. A hand recount is initiated because it's so close. Luckily the original count was done by optical scan machines, and not touchscreen voting machines, so there are ballots to count. But there's one problem. Actually about 3,000 problems. Yes somewhere between the machine count and the hand count, over 3,000 votes have disappeared.
Now we've seen votes disappear before, but this is a little strange because usually the machine loses votes and sometimes this can be explained by voter error, or the machine not reading some of the ballots. But this time, the machines actually counted MORE votes than there are ballots. How can that happen you ask? Good question.
For nearly two weeks, the information coming out of Palm Beach on this story will make you scratch your head. They've recounted by hand multiple times now, and each time the number of "lost" votes changes - it's usually somewhere around 3,500. One possible explanation is that some ballots have been misplaced, so people have been searching everywhere. The police have even been called in and have searched nearly 500 polling places without success. A local TV station is reporting that they might have been thrown in the trash. And the latest is they say there never were any missing ballots, but now they have too many, even though they pesent no logical explanation as to why they thought they were missing them.
When there seem to be ballots missing like this, few seem to be suggesting another possibility: Maybe there aren't any lost ballots. Maybe the machines just counted wrong. It doesn't have to be fraud, it could simply be bug in the counting software - something that is possible on any system.
The scary thing about this story is that we only know about the problem because the election was so close that a state law mandated the manual recount. How many other elections have problems that we never know about?
6. Democratic Party Website Still Says Voting Machines Can't Be Trusted, But They Still Haven't Done Anything About It
For over two years now, we've been drawing attention to a page on the Democratic Party's website, where they clearly admit that the voting machines are vulnerable to fraud and can't be trusted. They cite the scientific studies that have been conducted on the machines and some of the problems that have been encountered.
You'd think that if they are aware that the machines are untrustworthy, they'd make some attempt to do something about it, to help ensure that they have a fair chance in the elections.
Well, think again. The web page has been up for over 2 years now and the Democratic Party still has done nothing about the voting machines. Even with control of both houses of Congress, an election reform bill has never come to the floor for a vote.
Think of this in terms of football. Suppose the superbowl was happening next week and it was found that the umpires and referees were all being paid off by one of the teams, and even worse, they all have bad eyesight. You'd think the other team would speak to the commissioner, and insist that something be done. But instead they just play the game, lose, and never question anything. And what's worse, when the next year's season comes along, the same refs are still in business and still they do nothing. You'd have to scratch your head and wonder why a team would keep playing in a game they know is rigged against them.
This is the scenario in our election system. Except perhaps for this website, the Democratic Party could be arguing that election integrity advocates are alarmists, and there's nothing to worry about. Of course, that would be incorrect. Nonetheless, with this webpage up, they are clearly admitting there's a problem, yet as they admit the problem they simultaneously bury their heads in the sand and don't do anything about it.
Here are excerpts from the website and a link to the page:
Suggestion: Next time you get one of those phone calls (or letters) from the Democratic Party asking for money, ask themy why they're not doing anything about the voting machines and if they question whther or not there's a problem, point them to their own website!
A picture's worth a thousand words, a video is worth a million, and a good documentary film on election integrity is truly invaluable.
For this election we have three GREAT new films that do an excellent job of informing people about the problems with our election system.
In addition to these new movies, we still recommend these not-so-new but still great films:
Make a commitment to watch at least two of these films before election day, and to watch them with another person. All you need is some popcorn and a friend. Your country needs you!
Stay tuned in the next edition for a list of great and new books on election integrity.
NYU Professor Mark Crispin Miller reports on one way to prevent another stolen election: "to focus national attention on the revelations of whistle-blower Stephen Spoonamore, who's lately been revealing all we need to know about the Bush regime's conspiracy to rig the vote from 2000 to the present. Spoonamore knows all the principals in this conspiracy, has been dealing with them for some time, and has a trove of emails, etc., to back up what he says. Read more....
And obviously another thing you can do is help spread the word about all the problems with the election system, voter suppression, etc. The mainstream press is ignoring it once again, so we must do our part and BE THE MEDIA. One thing you can do is forward this newsletter, encourage others to sign up, and show it to reporters in the mainstream press (maybe someday they'll wake up).
As part of the effort to get the truth out around election time, we've temporarily marked down everything in our store that relates to elections - 25% or more, including some of the films listed above.
The Solar Bus Election Justice Newsletter is one source of information on election integrity, voting machines, and election reform. Our newsletters are an attempt to consolidate the most important stories over several weeks time and deliver them with summaries and links to more information. We know you're busy, but you care about our election system.
Other email-based news services provide more frequent and more indepth coverage. If you want more, here are a few good suggestions:
This newsletter is available online here:
Check out the brand new
SOLAR BUS BLOG
focusing on a variety of issues
SOLAR BUS BLOG!
Election Justice News is a free newsletter of the Solar Bus. Please forward this newsletter. Check the Election Justice Center website for regular updates on the issue of voting machines and election integrity. To receive or discontinue this newsletter, send an email to gary(at)solarbus.org. For information on our other free newsletters, click here.
Check out the new
SOLAR BUS BLOG
focusing on a variety of issues
SOLAR BUS BLOG!