14 October 2008

Never Another Hanging Chad

Feminist Peace Network - October 14th, 2008

Could the 2008 U.S. Presidential election be stolen? Every time I see Karl Rove on television with his spooky botox calm, I can’t help thinking this is not a guy who is planning his retirement and let’s face it, when Dick Cheney takes a powder in the middle of a major crisis, it’s probably not a a good sign.

There is substantial reason to believe that the 2000 and 2004 elections were stolen and it could certainly happen again. Already there are massive issues with legitimate voters being purged from the rolls. There are also substantial reasons to question the accuracy of voting machines since little has been done to insure their accuracy, despite numerous reports of problems.

Black Box Voting, run by one of my sheroes, Bev Harris who has worked tirelessly to document vote count irregularities, has put out an excellent video explaining what each and everyone of us can do to insure that votes get counted. I have to confess that what caught my attention was that the machine tapes used in the example came from the legislative district where I live! It’s easy, takes a few hours on election night when you’d just be sitting and watching early returns anyhow, and a camera. Watch the video, and see the clarifications on how to do this from Bev Harris below. Pass it on, take action!


In response to questions from several readers, Bev Harris has provided the following clarifications:

Q: My understanding is that I am supposed to figure out when and where they post up some tapes at my polling place, film them, and then check them against the results posted on my count website?

Bev: Poll tapes are posted as soon as polls close. Poll workers print the tapes as part of poll closing and post one copy on the door. It is supposed to remain there overnight.

Some state web sites provide precinct results on the Web, and on the best ones (New Mexico, for example), the precinct-level results stream in on Election Night. Other locations are less forthcoming. The precinct results are a public record, though, and even when not posted on the Web site, anyone can get them.

Q: Has anyone ever successfully challenged an official vote count with a videotape of the poll tape?

Bev: No one has been collecting them except Black Box Voting. The poll tapes we obtained in Volusia County in 2004 were used in a lawsuit seeking to overturn the results, but at that time (2004) no one had yet proved that it is possible to hack the voting machines. Even so, the lawsuit might have prevailed but it was overturned on a technicality. Black Box Voting proved that the poll tapes are tamperable and also that the central tabulator is tamperable in May and Dec. of 2005, and now we have a whole new ball game in terms of the evidenciary value of mismatched poll tapes.

But that’s not the whole story, either. Simply KNOWING that people are out there capturing this evidence is a significant deterrent for the central tabulator and middleman attacks. If there is a memory card swap, a central tabulator results alteration, or an Internet server man in the middle attack and some citizen has gone out and collected 10 poll tapes, and none of them match, that will put the middleman who tampered in jeopardy for criminal prosecution. Video can put people in jail, because it provides strong evidence. Video obtained by Black Box Voting of a procedural violations in a Cuyahoga County Ohio recount resulted in two people being sentenced to over a year in jail.

The Bullitt County, Kentucky woman who discovered that the poll tapes did not match did succeed in getting the case investigated by the FBI and it was covered on a major Louisville News station. They did not, ultimately, prosecute but this whole approach is new.

I try not to view everything through the lens of overturning an election, and also look at actions as meaningful if they succeed in proving problems to force reforms, and get public awareness.

Q: I’ve never even seen a poll tape from any election I have voted in… it’s possible that I have just never noticed them before, or that they are not posted until the end of the election day.

Bev: They are posted at the end of the day. When you think about it, this makes sense– they contain the results, and you can’t print results until polls close!

I also asked Bev to clarify what to do with pictures and videos once you have them:

1. I would like them to upload them to YouTube, if they know how, and post a link at blackboxvoting.org in the appropriate state and location.

2. Because not everyone knows how to prep and upload video to YouTube, if they do not know how, I’d like them to review the video after they get home and write down the numbers, and post the numbers at Black Box Voting in the appropriate state and location, so others can get busy comparing them with official results — save the video in case it is needed as evidence, because just going to a polling place and writing something down is not evidence.

3. OR, because not everyone is accustomed to how to use forums to post information, they can e-mail the info to Black Box Voting: crew@blackboxvoting.org and I’ll post it for them — and again, save the video in case anomalies are spotted, in which case it may be needed as evidence.

So there you have it, put some fresh batteries in the camera and let’s get out there and make sure the vote is counted!


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