Blogging Left

With the darkness now covering the land, the progressive spirit of the Enlightenment is getting dimmer and dimmer. But at the same time, the blogosphere allows folks an alternative means of communication that allows the truth to be known and someday, the progressive agenda will be realized.

Name:
Location: Chicago, Illinois, United States

When I was an undergraduate, I read Escape From Freedom in an anthropology course, wow did I think that was cool stuff when I was 19, but how can you make a living doing that kind of stuff. Well, somehow I pursued an interdisciplinary education and trained to become a shrink, but with strong social and political values. (I did spend several years at the Chicago Institute for Psychoanalysis. Well, somehow I got caught up in protesting the war in Viet Nam, moved from a more individualistic perspective to a sociological perspective, and voila, here I am, having made a career in sociology and what am I doing, Frankfurt School critical theory....yes maybe Nietzsche is right about eternal return. If interested in my professional work, see my website-tho it has not been updated lateley. I will soon have a volume of papers on alienatioun out. I am now working on a book on the carnivalization of our culture, how the degeneration of taste destroys the mind and fosters political indifference.

Monday, March 28, 2005

Ohio's Odd Numbers --Chris Hutchins Vanity Fair

Ohio's Odd Numbers --Chris Hutchins Vanity Fair

Are the stories of vote suppression and rigged machines to be believed? Here is "non-wacko" evidence that something went seriously awry in the Buckeye State on Election Day 2004


If it were not for Kenyon College, I might have missed, or skipped, the whole controversy. The place is a visiting lecturer's dream, or the ideal of a campus-movie director in search of a setting. It is situated in wooded Ohio hills, in the small town of Gambier, about an hour's drive from Columbus. Its literary magazine, The Kenyon Review, was founded by John Crowe Ransom in 1939. Its alumni include Paul Newman, E. L. Doctorow, Jonathan Winters, Robert Lowell, Chief Justice William Rehnquist, and President Rutherford B. Hayes. The college's origins are Episcopalian, its students well mannered and well off and predominantly white, but it is by no means Bush-Cheney territory. Arriving to speak there a few days after the presidential election, I found that the place was still buzzing. Here's what happened in Gambier, Ohio, on decision day 2004.

The polls opened at 6:30 a.m. There were only two voting machines (push-button direct-recording electronic systems) for the entire town of 2,200 (with students). The mayor, Kirk Emmert, had called the Board of Elections 10 days earlier, saying that the number of registered voters would require more than that. (He knew, as did many others, that hundreds of students had asked to register in Ohio because it was a critical "swing" state.) The mayor's request was denied. Indeed, instead of there being extra capacity on Election Day, one of the only two machines chose to break down before lunchtime.

By the time the polls officially closed, at 7:30 that evening, the line of those waiting to vote was still way outside the Community Center and well into the parking lot. A federal judge thereupon ordered Knox County, in which Gambier is located, to comply with Ohio law, which grants the right to vote to those who have shown up in time. "Authority to Vote" cards were kindly distributed to those on line (voting is a right, not a privilege), but those on line needed more than that. By the time the 1,175 voters in the precinct had all cast their ballots, it was almost four in the morning, and many had had to wait for up to 11 hours. In the spirit of democratic carnival, pizzas and canned drinks and guitarists were on hand to improve the shining moment. TV crews showed up, and the young Americans all acted as if they had been cast by Frank Capra: cheerful and good-humored, letting older voters get to the front, catching up on laptop essays, many voting for the first time and all convinced that a long and cold wait was a small price to pay. Typical was Pippa White, who said that "even after eight hours and 15 minutes I still had energy. It lets you know how worth it this is." Heartwarming, until you think about it.
The students of Kenyon had one advantage, and they made one mistake. Their advantage was that their president, S. Georgia Nugent, told them that they could be excused from class for voting. Their mistake was to reject the paper ballots that were offered to them late in the evening, after attorneys from the Ohio Democratic Party had filed suit to speed up the voting process in this way. The ballots were being handed out (later to be counted by machine under the supervision of Knox County's Democratic and Republican chairs) when someone yelled through the window of the Community Center, "Don't use the paper ballots! The Republicans are going to appeal it and it won't count!" After that, the majority chose to stick with the machines.
Across the rest of Ohio, the Capra theme was not so noticeable. Reporters and eyewitnesses told of voters who had given up after humiliating or frustrating waits, and who often cited the unwillingness of their employers to accept voting as an excuse for lateness or absence. In some way or another, these bottlenecks had a tendency to occur in working-class and, shall we just say, nonwhite precincts. So did many disputes about "provisional" ballots, the sort that are handed out when a voter can prove his or her identity but not his or her registration at that polling place. These glitches might all be attributable to inefficiency or incompetence (though Gambier had higher turnouts and much shorter lines in 1992 and 1996). Inefficiency and incompetence could also explain the other oddities of the Ohio process—from machines that redirected votes from one column to the other to machines that recorded amazing tallies for unknown fringe candidates, to machines that apparently showed that voters who waited for a long time still somehow failed to register a vote at the top of the ticket for any candidate for the presidency of these United States.


However, for any of that last category of anomaly to be explained, one would need either a voter-verified paper trail of ballots that could be tested against the performance of the machines or a court order that would allow inspection of the machines themselves. The first of these does not exist, and the second has not yet been granted.

I don't know who it was who shouted idiotically to voters not to trust the paper ballots in Gambier, but I do know a lot of people who are convinced that there was dirty work at the crossroads in the Ohio vote. Some of these people are known to me as nutbags and paranoids of the first water, people whose grassy-knoll minds can simply cancel or deny any objective reasons for a high Republican turnout. (Here's how I know some of these people: In November 1999, I wrote a column calling for international observers to monitor the then upcoming presidential election. I was concerned about restrictive ballot-access laws, illegal slush funds, denial of access to media for independents, and abuse of the state laws that banned "felons" from voting. At the end, I managed to mention the official disenfranchisement of voters in my hometown of Washington, D.C., and the questionable "reliability or integrity" of the new voting-machine technology. I've had all these wacko friends ever since.) But here are some of the non-wacko reasons to revisit the Ohio election.
First, the county-by-county and precinct-by-precinct discrepancies. In Butler County, for example, a Democrat running for the State Supreme Court chief justice received 61,559 votes. The Kerry-Edwards ticket drew about 5,000 fewer votes, at 56,243. This contrasts rather markedly with the behavior of the Republican electorate in that county, who cast about 40,000 fewer votes for their judicial nominee than they did for Bush and Cheney. (The latter pattern, with vote totals tapering down from the top of the ticket, is by far the more general—and probable—one nationwide and statewide.)

In 11 other counties, the same Democratic judicial nominee, C. Ellen Connally, managed to outpoll the Democratic presidential and vice-presidential nominees by hundreds and sometimes thousands of votes. So maybe we have a barn-burning, charismatic future candidate on our hands, and Ms. Connally is a force to be reckoned with on a national scale. Or is it perhaps a trick of the Ohio atmosphere? There do seem to be a lot of eccentrics in the state. In Cuyahoga County, which includes the city of Cleveland, two largely black precincts on the East Side voted like this. In Precinct 4F: Kerry, 290; Bush, 21; Peroutka, 215. In Precinct 4N: Kerry, 318; Bush, 11; Badnarik, 163. Mr. Peroutka and Mr. Badnarik are, respectively, the presidential candidates of the Constitution and Libertarian Parties. In addition to this eminence, they also possess distinctive (but not particularly African-American-sounding) names. In 2000, Ralph Nader's best year, the total vote received in Precinct 4F by all third-party candidates combined was eight.
In Montgomery County, two precincts recorded a combined undervote of almost 6,000. This is to say that that many people waited to vote but, when their turn came, had no opinion on who should be the president, voting only for lesser offices. In these two precincts alone, that number represents an undervote of 25 percent, in a county where undervoting averages out at just 2 percent. Democratic precincts had 75 percent more undervotes than Republican ones.

In Precinct 1B of Gahanna, in Franklin County, a computerized voting machine recorded a total of 4,258 votes for Bush and 260 votes for Kerry. In that precinct, however, there are only 800 registered voters, of whom 638 showed up. Once the "glitch" had been identified, the president had to be content with 3,893 fewer votes than the computer had awarded him.

In Miami County, a Saddam Hussein–type turnout was recorded in the Concord Southwest and Concord South precincts, which boasted 98.5 percent and 94.27 percent turnouts, respectively, both of them registering overwhelming majorities for Bush. Miami County also managed to report 19,000 additional votes for Bush after 100 percent of the precincts had reported on Election Day.

In Mahoning County, Washington Post reporters found that many people had been victims of "vote hopping," which is to say that voting machines highlighted a choice of one candidate after the voter had recorded a preference for another. Some specialists in election software diagnose this as a "calibration issue."
Machines are fallible and so are humans, and shit happens, to be sure, and no doubt many Ohio voters were able to record their choices promptly and without grotesque anomalies. But what strikes my eye is this: in practically every case where lines were too long or machines too few the foul-up was in a Democratic county or precinct, and in practically every case where machines produced impossible or improbable outcomes it was the challenger who suffered and the actual or potential Democratic voters who were shortchanged, discouraged, or held up to ridicule as chronic undervoters or as sudden converts to fringe-party losers.

This might argue in itself against any conspiracy or organized rigging, since surely anyone clever enough to pre-fix a vote would make sure, just for the look of the thing, that the discrepancies and obstructions were more evenly distributed. I called all my smartest conservative friends to ask them about this. Back came their answer: Look at what happened in Warren County.

On Election Night, citing unspecified concerns about terrorism and homeland security, officials "locked down" the Warren County administration building and prevented any reporters from monitoring the vote count. It was announced, using who knows what "scale," that on a scale of 1 to 10 the terrorist threat was a 10. It was also claimed that the information came from an F.B.I. agent, even though the F.B.I. denies that.

Warren County is certainly a part of Republican
territory in Ohio: it went only 28 percent for Gore last time and 28 percent for Kerry this time. On the face of it, therefore, not a county where the G.O.P. would have felt the need to engage in any voter "suppression." A point for the anti-conspiracy side, then. Yet even those exact-same voting totals have their odd aspect. In 2000, Gore stopped running television commercials in Ohio some weeks before the election. He also faced a Nader challenge. Kerry put huge resources into Ohio, did not face any Nader competition, and yet got exactly the same proportion of the Warren County votes.

Whichever way you shake it, or hold it to the light, there is something about the Ohio election that refuses to add up. The sheer number of irregularities compelled a formal recount, which was completed in late December and which came out much the same as the original one, with 176 fewer votes for George Bush. But this was a meaningless exercise in reassurance, since there is simply no means of checking, for example, how many "vote hops" the computerized machines might have performed unnoticed.

There are some other, more random factors to be noted. The Ohio secretary of state, Kenneth Blackwell, was a state co-chair of the Bush-Cheney campaign at the same time as he was discharging his responsibilities for an aboveboard election in his home state. Diebold, which manufactures paper-free, touch-screen voting machines, likewise has its corporate headquarters in Ohio. Its chairman, president, and C.E.O., Walden O'Dell, is a prominent Bush supporter and fund-raiser who proclaimed in 2003 that he was "committed to helping Ohio deliver its electoral votes to the president next year." (See "Hack the Vote," by Michael Shnayerson, Vanity Fair, April 2004.) Diebold, together with its competitor, E.S.&S., counts more than half the votes cast in the United States. This not very acute competition is perhaps made still less acute by the fact that a vice president of E.S.&S. and a Diebold director of strategic services are brothers.

I would myself tend to discount most of the above, since an oligarchy bent on stealing an election would probably not announce itself so brashly as to fit into a Michael Moore script. Then, all state secretaries of state are partisan, after all, while in Ohio each of the 88 county election boards contains two Democrats and two Republicans. The chairman of Diebold is entitled to his political opinion just as much as any other citizen.


However, there is one soothing explanation that I don't trust anymore. It was often said, in reply to charges of vote tampering, that it would have had to be "a conspiracy so immense" as to involve a dangerously large number of people. Indeed, some Ohio Democrats themselves laughed off some of the charges, saying that they too would have had to have been part of the plan. The stakes here are very high: one defector or turncoat with hard evidence could send the principals to jail forever and permanently discredit the party that had engaged in fraud.


I had the chance to spend quality time with someone who came to me well recommended, who did not believe that fraud had yet actually been demonstrated, whose background was in the manufacture of the machines, and who wanted to be anonymous. It certainly could be done, she said, and only a very, very few people would have to be "in on it." This is because of the small number of firms engaged in the manufacturing and the even smaller number of people, subject as they are to the hiring practices of these firms, who understand the technology. "Machines were put in place with no sampling to make sure they were 'in control' and no comparison studies," she explained. "The code of the machines is not public knowledge, and none of these machines has since been impounded." In these circumstances, she continued, it's possible to manipulate both the count and the proportions of votes.

In the bad old days of Tammany Hall, she pointed out, you had to break the counter pins on the lever machines, and if there was any vigilance in an investigation, the broken pins would automatically incriminate the machine. With touch-screen technology, the crudeness and predictability of the old ward-heeler racketeers isn't the question anymore. But had there been a biased "setting" on the new machines it could be uncovered—if a few of them could be impounded. The Ohio courts are currently refusing all motions to put the state's voting machines, punch-card or touch-screen, in the public domain. It's not clear to me, or to anyone else, who is tending the machines in the meanwhile …

I asked her, finally, what would be the logical grounds for deducing that any tampering had in fact occurred. "Well, I understand from what I have read," she said, "that the early exit polls on the day were believed by both parties." That, I was able to tell her from direct experience, was indeed true. But it wasn't quite enough, either. So I asked, "What if all the anomalies and malfunctions, to give them a neutral name, were distributed along one axis of consistency: in other words, that they kept on disadvantaging only one candidate?" My question was hypothetical, as she had made no particular study of Ohio, but she replied at once: "Then that would be quite serious."


I am not any sort of statistician or technologist, and (like many Democrats in private) I did not think that John Kerry should have been president of any country at any time. But I have been reviewing books on history and politics all my life, making notes in the margin when I come across a wrong date, or any other factual blunder, or a missing point in the evidence. No book is ever free from this. But if all the mistakes and omissions occur in such a way as to be consistent, to support or attack only one position, then you give the author a lousy review. The Federal Election Commission, which has been a risible body for far too long, ought to make Ohio its business. The Diebold company, which also manufactures A.T.M.s, should not receive another dime until it can produce a voting system that is similarly reliable. And Americans should cease to be treated like serfs or extras when they present themselves to exercise their franchise.

Christopher Hitchens is a Vanity Fair contributing editor. His new book, Love, Poverty, and War: Journeys and Essays (Avalon), includes some of his pieces from V.F.
Illustrations by TIM SHEAFFER

Monday, March 14, 2005

Bitches For Babies:

Bitches For Babies:
The Rude Pundit
Proudly lowering the level of political discourse
3/14/2005


From a fellow blogger on blogspot.com


Sometimes the Bush administration just makes you wanna hang your head in shame and suck back the entire bottle of cheap vodka you keep in your freezer. Sometimes it's like watching your mother argue to the death with a grocery clerk over the ten-cent price difference on a goddamn can of tomato soup.So it was that the President sent a delegation from the United States to the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women's
49th Session, which was organized to look at the progress made since 1995, when the organization passed a significant declaration of the rights of women at the Fourth World Conference on Women. Among other things, that declaration made in Beijing, done in the Clinton era, when "freedom" was a word that meant "freedom," said, "The Fourth World Conference on Women reaffirms that reproductive rights rest on the recognition of the basic right of all couples and individuals to decide freely and responsibly the number, spacing and timing of their children and to have the information and means to do so, and the right to attain the highest standard of sexual and reproductive health. It also includes their right to make decisions concerning reproduction free of discrimination, coercion and violence, as expressed in human rights documents."

Seems civilized, no? And, indeed, in this time of "culture of life" savagery, it seems almost Geneva-Convention-like quaint.Ellen Sauerbrey led the U.S. delegation, as she is the
U.S. Representative to the Commission since 2003. Sauerbrey, a two-time loser for governor of Maryland, spoke time and again at the conference that the Beijing document did not create any new, binding international rights. Because, you know, the Bush administration is so sensitive to abiding by such documents. Sauerbrey and the United States practically shut down the conference by demanding that the original document must be amended to say, specifically, that abortion is not a right. Sauerbrey, who looks like a plate of sour brie, was actually booed by the 6,000 delegates when she declared that not only is abortion not a right, but she also flogged the U.S. position on abstinence education on HIV/AIDS. In a grave in Uganda, the corpse of a sore-ridden thirteen year-old female rape victim rolled over.

Under pressure from the other nations, with only Qatar, Egypt, and the baboon-like visage of the dead Pope on its side, the
U.S. dropped its demand for the amendment to the decade-old document.Sauerbrey (c'mon, get it? "Sauerbrey," "sour brie"?), in a speech transcribed on the website for United Families International (motto: "You're Keepin' That Fuckin' Kid, You Brown Bitch"), she criticizes the U.N.'s policies towards families as "Hillary Clinton's vision," referencing Clinton's participation in the Beijing conference. Said Sauerbrey, "Sean Hannity, this morning, talked about visions and the differences in visions.

My perception is that this prevailing vision at the U.N. is one that is based on rights, but rights without responsibility. Family, whatever you want it to be. Sexual freedom, anything goes. Practically every resolution that goes before the U.N. … somebody tries to figure out a way to put in "reproductive services" . . . "Parental leave is the solution in many countries because women need to always be out in the work force and we need to have government parental leave so that the women can take at least a little time, or maybe the husband, so the woman should stay in the work force, and the husband should stay with the children for a short period of time before they go into a daycare arena. This is not the vision that most Americans share."Sauerbrey was joined in the U.S. delegation at the UNCSW Conference by
Janet Parshall, who hosts a popular conservative Christian radio program, Janet Parshall's America, which promotes a vision of "America" that would make Cotton Mather say, "Man, don't you people have any fuckin' fun?" before giving up the cloth and taking up the moonshine and fuckin' syphilitic whores and lovin' the itchin' 'cause it makes him feel alive. Parshall is a former spokesperson for James Dobson's Family Research Council (motto: "You're Keepin' That Fuckin' Kid, Bitch, and You're Gonna Spank It") who opposes embryonic cell research, abortion, and nose picking. Parshall said that the "sanctity of human life is the definitive issue in Americam," railing against a "doctrine of death" before she condemned gays to eternal damnation in a fiery hell and pushed the button on the lethal injection for a retarded minor.The final member of the Bush triumvirate of official delegates to the conference is Susan Hirschmann, former Tom DeLay chief of staff who went with the Hammer on a gambling lobbyists' funded golfing trip to England. As chief of the FEC investigated 527 the Leadership Forum, Hirschmann suckled at the soft money teat like a baby mole snuggling through the cold dirt to its mother. Now, she's a lobbyist for whatever corporate johns wanna pay her to shake her K Street-cred in the faces of members of Congress.Yep, quite a face the United States presented to the world, from wacko right-wing to not-as-wacko right wing, as Bush's bitches took another giant shit for America at a gathering of nations.Oh, the rest of the world celebrated the conference. So perhaps the choice here is between being a pussy or a cunt.

Saturday, March 12, 2005

Did al-Qaeda shoot its wad

Did al-Qaeda shoot its wad
Bush's Boogeyman: on 9/11/01?
It's getting harder for folks to remember how they felt on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001. So much has happened since then -- some good, most bad, from the restrictive Patriot Act and "extraordinary renditions" to a major war built upon a bed of lies.
We remember the deer-in-the-headlights shock of watching the second plane on live TV, and then -- before rushing off to work at the Daily News -- sitting outside under a tree for about 20 minutes with our then six-week-old Golden Retriever, contemplating a brilliantly sunny and warm September morning that made what we'd just seen still feel like it was a bad Hollywood car-chase flick.
Beyond the senseless violence and murder of 9/11, the most shocking things about that day were the sudden discovery that there had been cells of terrorists living among us for years, and the realization that 19 people held such strong hatred of America that they would willingly kill themselves in this most horrific of ways for their cause.
It seems bizarre now, but at the Daily News we spent much of the rest of that first week waiting for, and writing about, a "second wave" that we were just certain was coming any minute. But -- putting aside the still inexplicable anthrax episode -- it never did.
Now, 1,277 days have passed since Sept. 11, 2001. There have been lots of Orange alerts and millions of rolls of duct tape sold. In fact, we're already on our second Homeland Security secretary. And, thankfully, al Qaeda has never again struck on U.S. soil.
A simplistic answer would be to credit law enforcement. Yet, also in those 1,277 days, not a single additional known member of al-Qaeda operating within the United States has been brought to justice.
Indeed, as time passed, a thought occured to us that -- if true -- would mean that a lot of "the war on terror" is built upon a flimsy house of cards.
What if al-Qaeda shot its wad that sunny morning? What if the reason that 19 people took part and hijacked four planes was because those were the only al-Qaeda cells that ever existed. What if Mohammad Atta and his despicable crew were the only 19 folks on the planet with the skill to pull off a 9/11 and also the will to kill themselves?
What if 9/11 wasn't the start of "World War IV," but the end, a weakened terror posse going out with a bang? While terror around the globe has remained a vexing problem -- as witnessed by horrible anniversary marked today in Madrid -- there's been nothing remotely comparable in the U.S.
Those thoughts came back the other day when we read a strange story -- that Osama bin Laden and his minions had supposedly reached out to the leading terrorist operating in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, and begged him to carry out an attack inside the United States.
"It was a call from [Ayman] al-Zawahri in January," an intelligence source said..." He asked [al-Zarqawi] if he could plan something inside the United States."
But...wait a minute! We thought bin Laden already had terror cells inside the United States, ready to attack at any minute. Isn't that what the last four years have been all about? -- the snooping on libraries, the clampdown on federal information, the war in Iraq.
Read this from July 31, 2002:
During testimony Wednesday before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said the U.S.-led war in Afghanistan has disrupted the terror network's activities. Still, he said, al Qaeda continues to have operatives in more than 60 countries, including the United States.
Six weeks later:
Along with Minneapolis, ABC News says the FBI and CIA are watching terrorist cells in Seattle; Portland, Oregon; Detroit and New York. The government says members of these groups were trained in al Qaeda camps in Afghanistan in the late 1990s.
One year later, in September 2003:
The terrorists are already here, the new head of the city's FBI office said yesterday...D'Amuro cautioned that sleeper cells are not forming just in urban areas such as New York. He said Al Qaeda loyalists have been found since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in rural areas, including in Oregon and Minnesota.
But it doesn't add up. If bin Laden has people in place here, why has he suddenly taken to begging al-Zarqawi for help? And why have they gone 1,277 days without any attempt to strike again, even when the American economy was at its most vulnerable?
Could it be because, in spite of all the government blather and all the extraordinary measures that have been taken in the name of preventing another attack, that al-Qaeda has nobody left in America, that 9/11 was a "one-off"?
We were already wondering that, when ABC News' Brian Ross came out this week with this blockbuster report:
And for all the worry about Osama bin Laden's sleeper cells or agents in the United States, a secret FBI assessment concludes it knows of none.
The 32-page assessment says flatly, "To date, we have not identified any true 'sleeper' agents in the US," seemingly contradicting the "sleeper cell" description prosecutors assigned to seven men in Lackawanna, N.Y., in 2002.
"Limited reporting since March indicates al-Qa'ida has sought to recruit and train individuals to conduct attacks in the United States, but is inconclusive as to whether they have succeeded in placing operatives in this country," the report reads. "US Government efforts to date also have not revealed evidence of concealed cells or networks acting in the homeland as sleepers."
Of course, we're very glad to hear that there probably aren't sleeper cells. No one wants the horror of another 9/11, or worse. On the other hand, Bush's response to 9/11 -- from a trumped-up war abroad in Iraq to frightening restrictions on civil liberties at home -- has been largely based on the notion of a potent enemy named al-Qaeda.
What if al-Qaeda is merely Bush's boogeyman, a diminshed group already incapable of another attack by sunrise on 9/12/01. To learn that the so-called imminent threat may not have been a real one only makes the last four years all the more tragic.Posted on March 11, 2005 12:30 PM

Friday, March 11, 2005

Diebold Voting Machines Hacked!!

Diebold Voting Machines Hacked!!


Black Box Voting (.ORG) is a nonpartisan, nonprofit, 501c(3) organization. We are the official consumer protection group for elections, funded by citizen donations. Another site, "BlackBoxVoting.COM" is NOT nonprofit, and is not associated with this site in any way at all. Contact info for Black Box Voting (.ORG): office: 425-793-1030; cell 206-335-7747 or 206-354-5723, or E-mail
TUESDAY MAR. 8, 2005: Investigation Update (Submitted to members of the House Judiciary Committee on Mar. 4 and Mar. 8.)
In mid-February, Black Box Voting, together with computer experts and videographers, under the supervision of appropriate officials, proved that a real Diebold system can be hacked.

This was not theoretical or a "potential" vulnerability. Votes were hacked on a real system in a real location using the actual setup used on Election Day, Nov. 2, 2004.In October, Black Box Voting published an article on this Web site about remote access into the Diebold system. After examining the Diebold software and related internal e-mails, local security professionals were able to demonstrate a hack into a simulated system.

In February, we were allowed to try various hacking techniques into a real election system. To our surprise, the method used in our October simulation did not work.However, another method did work. The hack that did work was unsophisticated enough that many high school students would be able to achieve it. This hack altered the election by 100,000 votes, leaving no trace at all in the central tabulator program. It did not appear in any audit log. The hack could have been executed in the November 2004 election by just one person.

This hack stunned the officials who were observing the test. It calls into question the results of as many as 40 million votes in 30 states. We are awaiting the response of the House Judiciary Committee to this new development for their investigation.

In another real-world example, Black Box Voting obtained the actual files used in the Nov. 2 election in a specific county. In this situation, the local officials did not know how to run their Diebold system, so a Diebold tech ran the election in that county. Election officials remembered the Diebold tech's first name, but not his last name.

The Diebold tech had gone home after the election, and no one in the county was able to access their own voting system, leading to some consternation because they could not provide our public records request.

Because local officials could not access their logs, we were given permission to sit down and copy files. (We have since found that this is not an isolated problem -- many local officials are painfully unfamiliar with their own voting systems.)
Local officials did not know their password, so Bev Harris asked if they would like her to hack the password. They said "yes" (!)
Later, to our even greater surprise, Bev Harris found that the password set by the Diebold tech on this real election file, used in the Nov. 2004 election was ... drum roll please ... the diabolically clever password: "diebold." (This took only two tries to guess.)

The significance of these two reports is this: By hacking into the central tabulator so easily, we showed that Diebold has not told the truth about the security of its system. Indeed, the software being used in BOTH examples is still extremely vulnerable, with little or no effort made to correct its security flaws.
We have offered to meet with public officials at several different levels to provide more documentation on these problems.MONDAY FEB. 21, 2005: Volusia County Update
Volusia County: Volusia County elections worker Lana Hires has resigned. She wrote the famous Diebold memo about the minus 16,022 votes for Gore in 2000 (see Chapter 13 of the Black Box Voting book. Lana Hires was at the warehouse in November 2004 when Bev Harris and Kathleen Wynne found elections records, including a signed poll tape and a homemade ballot, in the warehouse trash. A county voter registration record, filled out by a voter, was found by Black Box Voting, Votergate producer Russell Michaels, and Pynchon in the street outside Hires's house, indicating that she had taken county election records home. Hires had a key to the ballot vault and 24-hour access to the building.

The lawsuit filed by Volusia County citizen Susan Pynchon (to set aside the Volusia County election based on irregularities) has been postponed again, to late March. It appears that the Volusia certification was improper. The canvassing board certified the wrong numbers, with at least 400 votes not counted at all in precinct 215. On Nov. 15, the board added more than 400 votes to precinct 215, but did not adjust the certification. Also, though the board says it counted military absentee votes on Nov. 12, none of these votes were included in the totals certified by Volusia County. The board claims that it certified the election on Nov. 12 after working hours. If the court finds that the Nov. 12 date holds, it may deem Pynchon's suit to be untimely; if it finds that Nov. 13 holds, or that the election was improperly certified, the suit is likely to go forward.


Pynchon shared important auditing work with Black Box Voting investigators Bev Harris and Kathleen Wynne. Black Box Voting provided a satchel of public records to Pynchon, including 10 poll tapes sent to Black Box Voting by Volusia County in December, along with an explanation by former Volusia Supervisor of Elections Deanie Lowe that she had "forgotten" to provide them despite several public records request follow-ups. Pynchon provided several new auditing tips for Diebold systems, including information on security problems in the Diebold event logs for Volusia County, and improper accounting for Volusia's memory cards (electronic ballot boxes).