There is no greater shock than to find that even with both law and facts in your favor, your constitutional rights are worthless because you can't get the courts or government to enforce them. The Equal Justice Foundation hears constantly from both men and women detailing how their rights have been ignored and violated.
Our Congress (who have "fixed" so many of our problems before) is attempting to fix the voting problem, brought to national attention in the Year 2000 presidential race, by throwing money at it , massively switching to computer voting, and using statewide databases for voter registration in a technological bait and switch maneuver known as the Help America Vote Act (HAVA).
HAVA means hand a bunch of money, currently $1.4 billion US, to those companies who make computer voting equipment. And there is nothing bureaucrats like to do more than spend taxpayer's money. Who really cares if the equipment works or not? Besides no citizen remembers any of the other amazing, but failed, boondoggles the government has spent our money on in the past, do we? So you can see that HAVA is an immensely popular program (if you don't care whether your vote is counted correctly, or counted at all). HAVA also unleashes the potential for election fraud on a scale unimaginable with old-fashioned paper ballots and hand counting.
The Equal Justice Foundation has been concerned with vote fraud and election issues since its inception. From presenting expert testimony in court, testimony to the state legislature on behalf of CAMBER, investigations of local elections, talks in public forums, and extensive information on voting on our web site, the EJF makes itself heard on voting issues from many corners.
I have also served on the IEEE Voting Equipment Standards committee virtually since its inception. However, the IEEE standards currently exist only in rough draft and will have little or no effect on HAVA.
I have finally been able to correlate most of this information and it is available in the Vote Fraud & Election Issues book on the EJF web site.
In the opening paragraphs of Thom Hartmann's article If You Want To Win An Election, Just Control The Voting Machines he makes the points that:
"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.
There also many stories of election problems from 2002 (see Chapter 8) after new computers and touch screen (DRE) equipment were installed. From alleged "programming errors" that are virtually undiscoverable, to outright bribery of the Arkansas Secretary of State by voting equipment manufacturers, to the loss of unknown numbers of votes in Dallas by touch screen voting machines, one is faced with a mind-boggling array of computer voting problems aided and abetted by human errors. If you have Real Player you may want to listen to the July 25, 2002, National Public Radio story on Vote Fraud in Dallas.
The multitudinous problems in the <http://www.ejfi.org/Voting/Voting-17.htm>2002 Florida elections are tabulated from news reports, an <http://www.ejfi.org/Voting/Voting-24.htm>election clerk, and voting machine problems by <http://www.ejfi.org/Voting/Voting-22.htm>Florida county, together with a great deal more...
Maybe we should slow down on implementing the HAVA gravy train until we have a better understanding of the height of the cliff we are jumping off? A look at the Year 2000 LA Times story on A Modern Democracy That Can't Count Votes should give you more reasons than you ever wanted to back away from computer voting.
Then there are the statewide voter registration databases mandated by HAVA that will make the Florida "scrub list" of undesirables, or more likely those the people in power don't want to vote (black Democrats in Jeb Bush's Florida) a nationwide practice. Of course, if you're sure no felon in the US has the same name you do you may not need to worry...Yet!
Election officials have long been looking for a way to improve voter turnout, particularly in off-year elections. But, in typical bureaucratic fashion, rather than address the underlying problems they prefer to come up with a new "solution." In the late 1980's and through the '90s one "solution" to low voter turnout was "mail in elections" based on the premise that Americans are too lazy and too busy to go to the polls on election day. Mail in elections were also touted as possessing other wondrous benefits, apparently by out-of-work snake oil salesmen. And, of course, this "solution" has the advantage that it better hides computer voting from public scrutiny.
As of 2000 Oregon has moved to all mail in elections. But Oregon doesn't seem to work as well as the politicians claim, as Prof. Melody Rose tells us in her review (see Chapter 5).
Working with CAMBER, in November 2002 the EJF helped defeat Amendment 28 that would have made all voting in Colorado by mail only in the Oregon fashion. But that minor "difficulty" didn't stop the City of Colorado Springs from quickly scheduling a mail in election for April 2003 just weeks after the mail in election referendum was defeated by voters.
In Lies, Damn Lies, and Mail In Elections (see Chapter 5) we outline the many problems with mail balloting and report on the outcome of the Colorado Springs election that suffered from such "minor" problems as:
According to the El Paso County Clerk's office 138,473 electors voted in the November 2002 election and were therefore counted as "active" by the standard used in this election. As only "active" voters were mailed ballots it is unknown why at least 3,141 additional ballots were mailed to apparently "inactive" voters, or who those individuals are.
According to the El Paso County Clerk's office there were 222,691 registered voters in Colorado Springs at the time of the election but the Canvass Board indicates 141,614 active registered electors were mailed ballots. Therefore, 81,077 citizens, or more than one-third of the registered voters, were effectively disenfranchised.
Ballot secrecy was compromised by opening ballot envelopes and examining ballots at the same table by two election judges. Election judges "interpreted" the voter's intent on an unknown number of ballots and "duplicated" those ballots out of sight of poll watchers before the remarked replacement ballot was counted.
According to the Election Verification report no challenged ballot was counted. In a mail in election a voter has no recourse when their ballot is challenged and no way to know if their vote was counted. The problem is exacerbated because the judges knew who cast the ballot they challenged.
At least 53,254 ballots simply disappeared, though the Election Verification Totals report states the number as 59,730. One is left guessing as to the fate of thousands of ballots.
A pre-election press demonstration revealed a serious programming error by Diebold Election Systems that didn't properly count the votes on the tax issue. No known tests or checks were made for other possible computer errors.
and this is just one election in a modest-sized city. As CAMBER puts it, the people in charge of elections in much of the nation seem hell-bent on turning voting into a sucker's game.
Be assured though that the Equal Justice Foundation will continue its efforts to ensure fair, open, and honest elections by publicly exposing fraud, corruption, and incompetence at every opportunity and in every possible fashion. But election fraud won't be stopped without your help and support.