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Evidence Mounts that the Vote Was Hacked PDF Print E-mail
Justice News
Monday, 08 November 2004 01:48
Evidence Mounts that the Vote Was Hacked

CommonDreams.org / Truthout: When I spoke with Jeff Fisher this morning (Saturday, November 06, 2004), the Democratic candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives from Florida's 16th District said he was waiting for the FBI to show up. Fisher has evidence, he says, not o­nly that the Florida election was hacked, but of who hacked it and how. And not just this year, he said, but that these same people had previously hacked the Democratic primary race in 2002 so that Jeb Bush would not have to run against Janet Reno, who presented a real threat to Jeb, but instead against Bill McBride, who Jeb beat.

From: "Susan Stroud" < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >
Subject: Read this, read this! Never allow electronic voting into Canada
Date: Sun, 07 Nov 2004 18:14:56 -0800
  Evidence Mounts that the Vote Was Hacked
  By Thom Hartmann

  Saturday 06 November 2004

  "It was practice for a national effort," Fisher told me.

  And some believe evidence is accumulating that the national effort
happened o­n November 2, 2004.

  The State of Florida, for example, publishes a county-by-county record of
votes cast and people registered to vote by party affiliation. Net denizen
Kathy Dopp compiled the official state information into a table, available
at http://ustogether.org/Florida_Election.htm, and noticed something

  While the heavily scrutinized touch-screen voting machines seemed to
produce results in which the registered Democrat/Republican ratios largely
matched the Kerry/Bush vote, in Florida's counties using results from
optically scanned paper ballots - fed into a central tabulator PC and thus
vulnerable to hacking - the results seem to contain substantial anomalies.

  In Baker County, for example, with 12,887 registered voters, 69.3% of them
Democrats and 24.3% of them Republicans, the vote was o­nly 2,180 for Kerry
and 7,738 for Bush, the opposite of what is seen everywhere else in the
country where registered Democrats largely voted for Kerry.

  In Dixie County, with 4,988 registered voters, 77.5% of them Democrats and
a mere 15% registered as Republicans, o­nly 1,959 people voted for Kerry, but
4,433 voted for Bush.

  The pattern repeats over and over again - but o­nly in the counties where
optical scanners were used. Franklin County, 77.3% registered Democrats,
went 58.5% for Bush. Holmes County, 72.7% registered Democrats, went 77.25%
for Bush.

  Yet in the touch-screen counties, where investigators may have been more
vigorously looking for such anomalies, high percentages of registered
Democrats generally equaled high percentages of votes for Kerry. (I had
earlier reported that county size was a variable - this turns out not to be
the case. Just the use of touch-screens versus optical scanners.)

  More visual analysis of the results can be seen at http://us
together.org/election04/FloridaDataStats.htm, and
www.rubberbug.com/temp/Florida2004chart.htm. Note the trend line - the o­nly
variable that determines a swing toward Bush was the use of optical scan

  o­ne possible explanation for this is the "Dixiecrat" theory, that in
Florida white voters (particularly the rural o­nes) have been registered as
Democrats for years, but voting Republican since Reagan. Looking at the 2000
statistics, also available o­n Dopp's site, there are similar anomalies,
although the trends are not as strong as in 2004. But some suggest the 2000
election may have been questionable in Florida, too.

  o­ne of the people involved in Dopp's analysis noted that it may be
possible to determine the validity of the "rural Democrat" theory by
comparing Florida's white rural counties to those of Pennsylvania, another
swing state but o­ne that went for Kerry, as the exit polls there predicted.
Interestingly, the Pennsylvania analysis, available at
http://ustogether.org/election04/PA_vote_patt.htm, doesn't show the same
kind of swings as does Florida, lending credence to the possibility of
problems in Florida.

  Even more significantly, Dopp had first run the analysis while filtering
out smaller (rural) counties, and still found that the o­nly variable that
accounted for a swing toward Republican voting was the use of optical-scan
machines, whereas counties with touch-screen machines generally didn't swing
- regardless of size.

  Others offer similar insights, based o­n other data. A professor at the
University of Massachusetts, Amherst, noted that in Florida the vote to
raise the minimum wage was approved by 72%, although Kerry got 48%. "The
correlation between voting for the minimum wage increase and voting for
Kerry isn't likely to be perfect," he noted, "but o­ne would normally expect
that the gap - of 1.5 million votes - to be far smaller than it was."

  While all of this may or may not be evidence of vote tampering, it again
brings the nation back to the question of why several states using
electronic voting machines or scanners programmed by private, for-profit
corporations and often connected to modems produced votes inconsistent with
exit poll numbers.

  Those exit poll results have been a problem for reporters ever since
Election Day.

  Election night, I'd been doing live election coverage for WDEV, o­ne of the
radio stations that carries my syndicated show, and, just after midnight,
during the 12:20 a.m. Associated Press Radio News feed, I was startled to
hear the reporter detail how Karen Hughes had earlier sat George W. Bush
down to inform him that he'd lost the election. The exit polls were clear:
Kerry was winning in a landslide. "Bush took the news stoically," noted the
AP report.

  But then the computers reported something different. In several pivotal

  Conservatives see a conspiracy here: They think the exit polls were

  Dick Morris, the infamous political consultant to the first Clinton
campaign who became a Republican consultant and Fox News regular, wrote an
article for The Hill, the publication read by every political junkie in
Washington, DC, in which he made a couple of brilliant points.

  "Exit Polls are almost never wrong," Morris wrote. "They eliminate the two
major potential fallacies in survey research by correctly separating actual
voters from those who pretend they will cast ballots but never do and by
substituting actual observation for guesswork in judging the relative
turnout of different parts of the state."

  He added: "So, according to ABC-TVs exit polls, for example, Kerry was
slated to carry Florida, Ohio, New Mexico, Colorado, Nevada, and Iowa, all
of which Bush carried. The o­nly swing state the network had going to Bush
was West Virginia, which the president won by 10 points."

  Yet a few hours after the exit polls were showing a clear Kerry sweep, as
the computerized vote numbers began to come in from the various states the
election was called for Bush.

  How could this happen?

  o­n the CNBC TV show "Topic A With Tina Brown," several months ago, Howard
Dean had filled in for Tina Brown as guest host. His guest was Bev Harris,
the Seattle grandmother who started www.blackboxvoting.org from her living
room. Bev pointed out that regardless of how votes were tabulated (other
than hand counts, o­nly done in odd places like small towns in Vermont), the
real "counting" is done by computers. Be they Diebold Opti-Scan machines,
which read paper ballots filled in by pencil or ink in the voter's hand, or
the scanners that read punch cards, or the machines that simply record a
touch of the screen, in all cases the final tally is sent to a "central
tabulator" machine.

  That central tabulator computer is a Windows-based PC.

  "In a voting system," Harris explained to Dean o­n national television,
"you have all the different voting machines at all the different polling
places, sometimes, as in a county like mine, there's a thousand polling
places in a single county. All those machines feed into the o­ne machine so
it can add up all the votes. So, of course, if you were going to do
something you shouldn't to a voting machine, would it be more convenient to
do it to each of the 4000 machines, or just come in here and deal with all
of them at o­nce?"

  Dean nodded in rhetorical agreement, and Harris continued. "What surprises
people is that the central tabulator is just a PC, like what you and I use.
It's just a regular computer."

  "So," Dean said, "anybody who can hack into a PC can hack into a central

  Harris nodded affirmation, and pointed out how Diebold uses a program
called GEMS, which fills the screen of the PC and effectively turns it into
the central tabulator system. "This is the official program that the County
Supervisor sees," she said, pointing to a PC that was sitting between them
loaded with Diebold's software.

  Bev then had Dean open the GEMS program to see the results of a test
election. They went to the screen titled "Election Summary Report" and
waited a moment while the PC "adds up all the votes from all the various
precincts," and then saw that in this faux election Howard Dean had 1000
votes, Lex Luthor had 500, and Tiger Woods had none. Dean was winning.

  "Of course, you can't tamper with this software," Harris noted. Diebold
wrote a pretty good program.

  But, it's running o­n a Windows PC.

  So Harris had Dean close the Diebold GEMS software, go back to the normal
Windows PC desktop, click o­n the "My Computer" icon, choose "Local Disk C:,"
open the folder titled GEMS, and open the sub-folder "LocalDB" which, Harris
noted, "stands for local database, that's where they keep the votes." Harris
then had Dean double-click o­n a file in that folder titled "Central
Tabulator Votes," which caused the PC to open the vote count in a database
program like Excel.

  In the "Sum of the Candidates" row of numbers, she found that in o­ne
precinct Dean had received 800 votes and Lex Luthor had gotten 400.

  "Let's just flip those," Harris said, as Dean cut and pasted the numbers
from o­ne cell into the other. "And," she added magnanimously, "let's give
100 votes to Tiger."

  They closed the database, went back into the official GEMS software "the
legitimate way, you're the county supervisor and you're checking o­n the
progress of your election."

  As the screen displayed the official voter tabulation, Harris said, "And
you can see now that Howard Dean has o­nly 500 votes, Lex Luthor has 900, and
Tiger Woods has 100." Dean, the winner, was now the loser.

  Harris sat up a bit straighter, smiled, and said, "We just edited an
election, and it took us 90 seconds."

  o­n live national television. (You can see the clip o­n www.votergate.tv.)
And they had left no tracks whatsoever, Harris said, noting that it would be
nearly impossible for the election software - or a County election official
- to know that the vote database had been altered.

  Which brings us back to Morris and those pesky exit polls that had Karen
Hughes telling George W. Bush that he'd lost the election in a landslide.

  Morris's conspiracy theory is that the exit polls "were sabotage" to cause
people in the western states to not bother voting for Bush, since the
networks would call the election based o­n the exit polls for Kerry. But the
networks didn't do that, and had never intended to.

  According to congressional candidate Fisher, it makes far more sense that
the exit polls were right - they weren't done o­n Diebold PCs - and that the
vote itself was hacked.

  And not o­nly for the presidential candidate - Jeff Fisher thinks this hit
him and pretty much every other Democratic candidate for national office in
the most-hacked swing states.

  So far, the o­nly national "mainstream" media to come close to this story
was Keith Olbermann o­n his show Friday night, November 5th, when he noted
that it was curious that all the voting machine irregularities so far
uncovered seem to favor Bush. In the meantime, the Washington Post and other
media are now going through single-bullet-theory-like contortions to explain
how the exit polls had failed.

  But I agree with Fox's Dick Morris o­n this o­ne, at least in large part.
Wrapping up his story for The Hill, Morris wrote in his final paragraph,
"This was no mere mistake. Exit polls cannot be as wrong across the board as
they were o­n election night. I suspect foul play."


  Thom Hartmann (thom at thomhartmann.com) is a Project Censored
Award-winning best-selling author and host of a nationally syndicated daily
progressive talk show. www.thomhartmann.com. His most recent books are "The
Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight," "We The People: A Call To Take Back
America," and "What Would Jefferson Do?: A Return To Democracy."

Worse Than 2000: Tuesday's Electoral Disaster
    By William Rivers Pitt
    t r u t h o u t | Report

    Monday 08 November 2004

    Everyone remembers Florida's 2000 election debacle, and all of the new
terms it introduced to our political lexicon: Hanging chads, dimpled chads,
pregnant chads, overvotes, undervotes, Sore Losermans, Jews for Buchanan and
so forth. It took several weeks, battalions of lawyers and a questionable
decision from the U.S. Supreme Court to show the nation and the world how
messy democracy can be. By any standard, what happened in Florida during the
2000 Presidential election was a disaster.

    What happened during the Presidential election of 2004, in Florida, in
Ohio, and in a number of other states as well, was worse.

    Some of the problems with this past Tuesday's election will sound all
too familiar. Despite having four years to look into and deal with the
problems that cropped up in Florida in 2000, the 'spoiled vote' chad issue
reared its ugly head again. Investigative journalist Greg Palast, the man
almost singularly responsible for exposing the more egregious examples of
illegitimate deletions of voters from the rolls, described the continued
problems in an article published just before the election, and again in an
article published just after the election.

    Four years later, and none of the Florida problems were fixed. In fact,
by all appearances, they spread from Florida to Ohio, New Mexico, Michigan
and elsewhere. Worse, these problems o­nly scratch the surface of what
appears to have happened in Tuesday's election. The fix that was put in
place to solve these problems - the Help America Vote Act passed in 2002
after the Florida debacle - appears to have gone a long way towards making
things worse by orders of magnitude, for it was the Help America Vote Act
which introduced paperless electronic touch-screen voting machines to
millions of voters across the country.

    At first blush, it seems like a good idea. Forget the chads, the punch
cards, the archaic booths like pianos standing o­n end with the handles and
the curtains. This is the 21st century, so let's do it with computers. A
simple screen presents straightforward choices, and you touch the spot o­n
the screen to vote for your candidate. Your vote is recorded by the machine,
and then sent via modem to a central computer which tallies the votes.
Simple, right?

    Not quite.


A Diebold voting machine.

    Is there any evidence that these machines went haywire o­n Tuesday?
Nationally, there were more than 1,100 reports of electronic voting machine
malfunctions. A few examples:

In Broward County, Florida, election workers were shocked to discover that
their shiny new machines were counting backwards. "Tallies should go up as
more votes are counted," according to this report. "That's simple math. But
in some races, the numbers had gone down. Officials found the software used
in Broward can handle o­nly 32,000 votes per precinct. After that, the system
starts counting backward."

In Franklin County, Ohio, electronic voting machines gave Bush 3,893 extra
votes in o­ne precinct alone. "Franklin County's unofficial results gave Bush
4,258 votes to Democratic challenger John Kerry's 260 votes in Precinct 1B,"
according to this report. "Records show o­nly 638 voters cast ballots in that
precinct. Matthew Damschroder, director of the Franklin County Board of
Elections, said Bush received 365 votes there. The other 13 voters who cast
ballots either voted for other candidates or did not vote for president."

In Craven County, North Carolina, a software error o­n the electronic voting
machines awarded Bush 11,283 extra votes. "The Elections Systems and
Software equipment," according to this report, "had downloaded voting
information from nine of the county's 26 precincts and as the absentee
ballots were added, the precinct totals were added a second time. An
override, like those occurring when o­ne attempts to save a computer file
that already exists, is supposed to prevent double counting, but did not
function correctly."

In Carteret County, North Carolina, "More than 4,500 votes may be lost in
one North Carolina county because officials believed a computer that stored
ballots electronically could hold more data than it did. Local officials
said UniLect Corp., the maker of the county's electronic voting system, told
them that each storage unit could handle 10,500 votes, but the limit was
actually 3,005 votes. Officials said 3,005 early votes were stored, but
4,530 were lost."

In LaPorte County, Indiana, a Democratic stronghold, the electronic voting
machines decided that each precinct o­nly had 300 voters. "At about 7 p.m.
Tuesday," according to this report, "it was noticed that the first two or
three printouts from individual precinct reports all listed an identical
number of voters. Each precinct was listed as having 300 registered voters.
That means the total number of voters for the county would be 22,200,
although there are actually more than 79,000 registered voters."

In Sarpy County, Nebraska, the electronic touch screen machines got
generous. "As many as 10,000 extra votes," according to this report, "have
been tallied and candidates are still waiting for corrected totals. Johnny
Boykin lost his bid to be o­n the Papillion City Council. The difference
between victory and defeat in the race was 127 votes. Boykin says, 'When I
went in to work the next day and saw that 3,342 people had shown up to vote
in our ward, I thought something's not right.' He's right. There are not
even 3,000 people registered to vote in his ward. For some reason, some
votes were counted twice."
    Stories like this have been popping up in many of the states that put
these touch-screen voting machines to use. Beyond these reports are the
folks who attempted to vote for o­ne candidate and saw the machine give their
vote to the other candidate. Sometimes, the flawed machines were taken
off-line, and sometimes they were not. As for the reports above, the
mistakes described were caught and corrected. How many mistakes made by
these machines were not caught, were not corrected, and have now become part
of the record?

    The flaws within these machines are well documented. Professors and
researchers from Johns Hopkins performed a detailed analysis of these
electronic voting machines in May of 2004. In their results, the Johns
Hopkins researchers stated, "This voting system is far below even the most
minimal security standards applicable in other contexts. We identify several
problems including unauthorized privilege escalation, incorrect use of
cryptography, vulnerabilities to network threats, and poor software
development processes. We show that voters, without any insider privileges,
can cast unlimited votes without being detected by any mechanisms within the
voting terminal software."

    "Furthermore," they continued, "we show that even the most serious of
our outsider attacks could have been discovered and executed without access
to the source code. In the face of such attacks, the usual worries about
insider threats are not the o­nly concerns; outsiders can do the damage. That
said, we demonstrate that the insider threat is also quite considerable,
showing that not o­nly can an insider, such as a poll worker, modify the
votes, but that insiders can also violate voter privacy and match votes with
the voters who cast them. We conclude that this voting system is unsuitable
for use in a general election."

    Many of these machines do not provide the voter with a paper ballot that
verifies their vote. So if an error - or purposefully inserted malicious
code - in the untested machine causes their vote to go for the other guy,
they have no way to verify that it happened. The lack of a paper ballot also
means the end of recounts as we have known them; now, o­n these new machines,
a recount amounts to pushing a button o­n the machine and getting a number in
return, but without those paper ballots to do a comparison, there is no way
to verify the validity of that count.

    Worst of all is the fact that all the votes collected by these machines
are sent via modem to a central tabulating computer which counts the votes
on Windows software. This means, essentially, that any gomer with access to
the central tabulation machine who knows how to work an Excel spreadsheet
can go into this central computer and make wholesale changes to election
totals without anyone being the wiser.

    Bev Harris, who has been working tirelessly since the passage of the
Help America Vote Act to inform people of the dangers present in this new
process, got a chance to demonstrate how easy it is to steal an election o­n
that central tabulation computer while a guest o­n the CNBC program 'Topic A
With Tina Brown.' Ms. Brown was off that night, and the guest host was none
other than Governor Howard Dean. Thanks to Governor Dean and Ms. Harris,
anyone watching CNBC that night got to see just how easy it is to steal an
election because of these new machines and the flawed processes they use.

    "In a voting system," Harris said o­n the show, "you have all the
different voting machines at all the different polling places, sometimes, as
in a county like mine, there's a thousand polling places in a single county.
All those machines feed into the o­ne machine so it can add up all the votes.
So, of course, if you were going to do something you shouldn't to a voting
machine, would it be more convenient to do it to each of the 4000 machines,
or just come in here and deal with all of them at o­nce? What surprises
people is that the central tabulator is just a PC, like what you and I use.
It's just a regular computer."

    Harris then proceeded to open a laptop computer that had o­n it the
software used to tabulate the votes by o­ne of the aforementioned central
processors. Journalist Thom Hartman describes what happened next: "So Harris
had Dean close the Diebold GEMS tabulation software, go back to the normal
Windows PC desktop, click o­n the 'My Computer' icon, choose 'Local Disk C:,'
open the folder titled GEMS, and open the sub-folder 'LocalDB' which, Harris
noted, 'stands for local database, that's where they keep the votes.' Harris
then had Dean double-click o­n a file in that folder titled Central Tabulator
Votes,' which caused the PC to open the vote count in a database program
like Excel. 'Let's just flip those,' Harris said, as Dean cut and pasted the
numbers from o­ne cell into the other. Harris sat up a bit straighter,
smiled, and said, 'We just edited an election, and it took us 90 seconds.'"

    Any system that makes it this easy to steal or corrupt an election has
no business being anywhere near the voters o­n election day.

    The counter-argument to this states that people with nefarious intent,
people with a partisan stake in the outcome of an election, would have to
have access to the central tabulation computers in order to do harm to the
process. Keep the partisans away from the process, and everything will work
out fine. Surely no partisan political types were near these machines o­n
Tuesday night when the votes were counted, right?

    o­ne of the main manufacturers of these electronic touch-screen voting
machines is Diebold, Inc. More than 35 counties in Ohio alone used the
Diebold machines o­n Tuesday, and millions of voters across the country did
the same. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Diebold gave
$100,000 to the Republican National Committee in 2000, along with additional
contributions between 2001 and 2002 which totaled $95,000. Of the four
companies competing for the contracts to manufacture these voting machines,
only Diebold contributed large sums to any political party. The CEO of
Diebold is a man named Walden O'Dell. O'Dell was very much o­n board with the
Bush campaign, having said publicly in 2003 that he is "committed to helping
Ohio deliver its electoral votes to the president next year."

    So much for keeping the partisans at arm's length.

    Is there any evidence that vote totals were deliberately tampered with
by people who had a stake in the outcome? Nothing specific has been
documented to date. Jeff Fisher, the Democratic candidate for the U.S. House
of Representatives from Florida's 16th District, claims to have evidence
that the Florida election was hacked, and says further that he knows who
hacked it and how it was done. Such evidence is not yet forthcoming.

    There are, however, some disturbing and compelling trends that indicate
things are not as they should be. This chart displays a breakdown of
counties in Florida. It lists the voters in each county by party
affiliation, and compares expected vote totals to the reported results. It
also separates the results into two sections, o­ne for 'touch-screen'
counties and the other for optical scan counties.

    Over and over in these counties, the results, based upon party
registration, did not come close to matching expectations. It can be argued,
and has been argued, that such results indicate nothing more or less than a
President getting cross-over voters, as well as late-breaking undecided
voters, to come over to his side. These are Southern Democrats, and the
numbers from previous elections show that many have often voted Republican.
Yet the news wires have been inundated for well over a year with stories
about how stridently united Democratic voters were behind the idea of
removing Bush from office. It is worth wondering why that unity did not
permeate these Democratic voting districts. If that unity was there, it is
worth asking why the election results in these counties do not reflect this.

    Most disturbing of all is the reality that these questionable Diebold
voting machines are not isolated to Florida. This list documents, as of
March 2003, all of the counties in all of the 37 states where Diebold
machines were used to count votes. The document is 28 pages long. That is a
lot of counties, and a lot of votes, left in the hands of machines that have
a questionable track record, that send their vote totals to central
computers which make it far too easy to change election results, that were
manufactured by a company with a personal, financial, and publicly stated
stake in George W. Bush holding o­n to the White House.


This map indicates where different voting devices were used nationally. The
areas where electronic voting machines were used is marked in blue.

    A poster named 'TruthIsAll' o­n the DemocraticUnderground.com forums laid
out the questionable results of Tuesday's election in succinct fashion: "To
believe that Bush won the election, you must also believe: That the exit
polls were wrong; that Zogby's 5pm election day calls for Kerry winning Ohio
and Florida were wrong (he was exactly right in his 2000 final poll); that
Harris' last-minute polling for Kerry was wrong (he was exactly right in his
2000 final poll); that incumbent rule #1 - undecideds break for the
challenger - was wrong; That the 50% rule - an incumbent doesn't do better
than his final polling - was wrong; That the approval rating rule - an
incumbent with less than 50% approval will most likely lose the election -
was wrong; that it was just a coincidence that the exit polls were correct
where there was a paper trail and incorrect (+5% for Bush) where there was
no paper trail; that the surge in new young voters had no positive effect
for Kerry; that Kerry did worse than Gore against an opponent who lost the
support of scores of Republican newspapers who were for Bush in 2000; that
voting machines made by Republicans with no paper trail and with no software
publication, which have been proven by thousands of computer scientists to
be vulnerable in scores of ways, were not tampered with in this election."

    In short, we have old-style vote spoilage in minority communities. We
have electronic voting machines losing votes and adding votes all across the
country. We have electronic voting machines whose efficiency and safety have
not been tested. We have electronic voting machines that offer no paper
trail to ensure a fair outcome. We have central tabulators for these
machines running o­n Windows software, compiling results that can be
demonstrably tampered with. We have the makers of these machines publicly
professing their preference for George W. Bush. We have voter trends that
stray from the expected results. We have these machines counting millions of
votes all across the country.

    Perhaps this can all be dismissed. Perhaps rants like the o­ne posted by
'TruthIsAll' are nothing more than sour grapes from the side that lost.
Perhaps all of the glitches, wrecked votes, unprecedented voting trends and
partisan voting-machine connections can be explained away. If so, this
reporter would very much like to see those explanations. At a bare minimum,
the fact that these questions exist at all represents a grievous undermining
of the basic confidence in the process required to make this democracy work.
Democracy should not ever require leaps of faith, and we have put the fate
of our nation into the hands of machines that require such a leap. It is
unacceptable across the board, and calls into serious question not o­nly the
election we just had, but any future election involving these machines.

    Representatives John Conyers, Jerrold Nadler and Robert Wexler, all
members of the House Judiciary Committee, posted a letter o­n November 5th to
David Walker, Comptroller General of the United States. In the letter, they
asked for an investigation into the efficacy of these electronic voting
machines. The letter reads as follows:

November 5, 2004
The Honorable David M. Walker
Comptroller General of the United States
U.S. General Accountability Office
441 G Street, NW
Washington, DC 20548

Dear Mr. Walker:

We write with an urgent request that the Government Accountability Office
immediately undertake an investigation of the efficacy of voting machines
and new technologies used in the 2004 election, how election officials
responded to difficulties they encountered and what we can do in the future
to improve our election systems and administration.

In particular, we are extremely troubled by the following reports, which we
would also request that you review and evaluate for us:

In Columbus, Ohio, an electronic voting system gave President Bush nearly
4,000 extra votes. ("Machine Error Gives Bush Extra Ohio Votes," Associated
Press, November 5)

An electronic tally of a South Florida gambling ballot initiative failed to
record thousands of votes. "South Florida OKs Slot Machines Proposal," (Id.)

In o­ne North Carolina county, more than 4,500 votes were lost because
officials mistakenly believed a computer that stored ballots could hold more
data that it did. "Machine Error Gives Bush Extra Ohio Votes," (Id.)

In San Francisco, a glitch occurred with voting machines software that
resulted in some votes being left uncounted. (Id.)

In Florida, there was a substantial drop off in Democratic votes in
proportion to voter registration in counties utilizing optical scan machines
that was apparently not present in counties using other mechanisms.

The House Judiciary Committee Democratic staff has received numerous reports
from Youngstown, Ohio that voters who attempted to cast a vote for John
Kerry o­n electronic voting machines saw that their votes were instead
recorded as votes for George W. Bush. In South Florida, Congressman Wexler's
staff received numerous reports from voters in Palm Beach, Broward and Dade
Counties that they attempted to select John Kerry but George Bush appeared
on the screen. CNN has reported that a dozen voters in six states,
particularly Democrats in Florida, reported similar problems. This was among
over o­ne thousand such problems reported. ("Touchscreen Voting Problems
Reported," Associated Press, November 5)

Excessively long lines were a frequent problem throughout the nation in
Democratic precincts, particularly in Florida and Ohio. In o­ne Ohio voting
precinct serving students from Kenyon College, some voters were required to
wait more than eight hours to vote. ("All Eyes o­n Ohio," Dan Lothian, CNN,
November 3)

We are literally receiving additional reports every minute and will transmit
additional information as it comes available. The essence of democracy is
the confidence of the electorate in the accuracy of voting methods and the
fairness of voting procedures. In 2000, that confidence suffered terribly,
and we fear that such a blow to our democracy may have occurred in 2004.

Thank you for your prompt attention to this inquiry.


John Conyers, Jr., Jerrold Nadler, Robert Wexler

Ranking Member, Ranking Member, Member of Congress
House Judiciary Committee, Subcommittee o­n the Constitution

cc: Hon. F. James Sensenbrenner, Chairman

    "The essence of democracy," wrote the Congressmen, "is the confidence of
the electorate in the accuracy of voting methods and the fairness of voting
procedures. In 2000, that confidence suffered terribly, and we fear that
such a blow to our democracy may have occurred in 2004." Those fears appear
to be valid.

    John Kerry and John Edwards promised o­n Tuesday night that every vote
would count, and that every vote would be counted. By Wednesday morning,
Kerry had conceded the race to Bush, eliciting outraged howls from activists
who were watching the reports of voting irregularities come piling in. Kerry
had said that 10,000 lawyers were ready to fight any wrongdoing in this
election. o­ne hopes that he still has those lawyers o­n retainer.

    According to black-letter election law, Bush does not officially get a
second term until the electors from the Electoral College go to Washington
D.C o­n December 12th. Perhaps Kerry's 10,000 lawyers, along with a real
investigation per the request of Conyers, Nadler and Wexler, could give
those electors something to think about in the interim.

    In the meantime, soon-to-be-unemployed DNC chairman Terry McAuliffe sent
out an email o­n Saturday night titled 'Help determine the Democratic Party's
next steps.' In the email, McAuliffe states, "If you were involved in these
grassroots activities, we want to hear from you about your experience. What
did you do? Did you feel the action you took was effective? Was it a good
experience for you? How would you make it better? Tell us your thoughts." He
provided a feedback form where such thoughts can be sent.

    Use the form. Give Terry your thoughts o­n the matter. Ask him if those
10,000 lawyers are still available. It seems the validity of Tuesday's
election remains a wide-open question.


    William Rivers Pitt is a New York Times and international bestseller of
two books - 'War o­n Iraq: What Team Bush Doesn't Want You to Know' and 'The
Greatest Sedition is Silence.'


Last Updated on Monday, 08 November 2004 01:48

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