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Saturday, June 17, 2017

RSN: It Doesn't Take a Russian to Hack an American Election


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17 June 17
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FOCUS: Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman | It Doesn't Take a Russian to Hack an American Election
Voters at a polling precinct. (photo: Getty Images)
Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman, Reader Supported News
Excerpt: "Attorney General Jeff Sessions has confirmed the Russians hacked into as many as 39 state databases, and did all they could to affect the electronic vote count that put Donald Trump in the White House. But Americans could have done it much more easily."
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ussia, Russia, Russia!!! But what about the Americans?
Attorney General Jeff Sessions has confirmed the Russians hacked into as many as 39 state databases, and did all they could to affect the electronic vote count that put Donald Trump in the White House.
But Americans could have done it much more easily.
Kansas secretary of state Kris Kobach set in motion a Jim Crow/Crosscheck purge of hundreds of thousands of mostly black, Hispanic, and Asian American citizens prior to the election in at least 29 states.
Now Trump has appointed Kobach to an “Election Integrity” commission. His co-commissioner is J. Kenneth Blackwell, who as Ohio secretary of state helped steal the 2004 presidential election.
Why isn’t this pair of election thieves being called to testify before Congress? Why is there no national viewing of Greg Palast’s “Best Democracy Money Can Buy” on precisely this topic?
The electronic flipping techniques Blackwell used in Ohio 2004 are part of the “black box voting” syndrome documented by Bev Harris. No Russians needed.
“Made in America” was the virtual statistical impossibility that Hillary Clinton won the exit polls in Florida, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin, but lost them ALL in the official vote count and thus the Electoral College.
And how about the 70,000+ ballots from heavily Democratic areas of Michigan that officially showed no presidential choice, an insanely improbable outcome easily produced by a hacker’s algorithm. Again, no Russians necessary.
Likewise, the sequential improbabilities in Wisconsin and beyond make it clear that rigging elections will continue as long as we have vulnerable registration rolls, electronic voting, an Electoral College, corporate campaign funding, and much more.
Meanwhile, there’s a high likelihood the upcoming special Congressional race in Georgia has already been hacked … by Americans!! As reported by Palast, thousands of Asian American citizens have already been purged from the voter rolls to pave the way to Congress for Georgia’s former secretary of state. Again, no Russians needed.
It may seem like borscht, but election theft is as American as apple pie.
In reality, the Americans have been stripping and flipping elections here and worldwide for many decades. Here’s some history:
In 1950, the Bureau of Social Science Research (BSSR) was founded as a division of the School of Social Sciences and Public Affairs at American University. In 1953, it became a non-profit organization involved with the CIA, and was used as a propaganda tool in the overthrow of Iran’s Mossadegh. It then emerged as a key player in the rise of electronic voting.
In 1974, the US General Accounting Office commissioned a year-long study on the rise of electronic voting equipment. In 1975, Rory G. Saltman, an electronics expert at the National Bureau of Standards, warned, “Increasing computerization of election-related functions may result in the loss of effective controls over these functions by responsible authorities and … this loss of control may increase the possibility of vote fraud.” (National Bureau of Standards Special Publication #500-30).
In 1975, the CIA admitted to a US Senate investigative committee chaired by Senator Frank Church that it was engaged in 5000 “benign” operations, which involved, among other things, electronic election rigging in the Third World. Election theft was preferable to a bloody coup, said the Agency.
In its coverage of the 1980 Iowa Republican Caucus, the Manchester (New Hampshire) Union-Leader wrote that the campaign of former CIA Director George H.W. Bush “has all the smell of a CIA covert Operation…. Strange aspects of the Iowa operation [include] a long, slow count and then the computers broke down at a very convenient point, with Bush having a 6% bulge over Reagan.” Bush won the primary over Reagan, 31.6% to 21.5%. This breakdown of tabulating equipment at a key point in the vote count became a staple of the electronic tabulation process in elections to come.
In 1981, the Reagan-Bush administration established ties between the BSSR and the International Center for Election Law & Administration (ICELA). The CIA-linked BSSR provided initial funding for the ICELA to promote the spread of electronic voting machines worldwide.
In 1984, The New York Times revealed that a company called The Computer Election System of Berkeley, California, created a software program and related equipment “used in more than a thousand county and local jurisdictions to collect and count 34.4 million of the 93.7 million votes cast in the United States,” more than a third of the total votes. President Reagan signed National Security Directive NSDD245. The New York Times revealed that the secret directive involved “a branch of the National Security Agency investigating whether a computer program that counted more than one-third of all the votes cast in the United States in 1984 is vulnerable to fraudulent manipulation.”
On December 18, 1985, legendary New York Times reporter David Burnham reported in “California Official Investigating Computer Voting Security” that state attorney general John Van de Kamp found major errors in the computerized vote count from the 1984 election in California and elsewhere. Problems were found in at least thirteen areas nationwide, including Illinois, Montana, and North Dakota. Van de Kamp said he was “concerned about what he sees as a potentially serious problem.”
In 1985, the director of International Center on Election Law and Administration stated that electronic voting presents “a massive potential for problems” and that it “centralizes the opportunity for fraud,” according to Harris’s “Black Box Voting.”
On November 25, 1986, Dr. Michael Ian Shamos, a computer scientist employed by the Pennsylvania Bureau of Elections as an electronic voting systems examiner, reported in “An Outline of Testimony on Computer Voting Before the Texas Legislature” that: “When one company or a conglomerate of companies apply unauditable software from a general distribution point, or participate directly in ballot setup procedures, there exists the possibility of large-scale tampering with elections. An errant programmer or tainted executive could influence or determine the outcome of a majority of election precincts in a country.”
In the 1988 New Hampshire Republican primary, during the first large-scale US use of computer voting machines in a presidential election, former CIA Director George H.W. Bush trailed Bob Dole by eight points in polls taken on Election Day. But when the votes were electronically tallied, Bush beat Dole by nine points. Such a 17-point turnaround qualifies among mainstream election statistical analysts as a “virtual statistical impossibility.”
In August 1988, Roy Saltman wrote “Accuracy, Integrity and Security in Computerized Vote Tallying” for the National Bureau of Standard’s Institute for Computer Sciences and Technology. He warned that “the possibility that unknown persons may perpetrate undiscoverable frauds” was a key problem with electronic voting systems.
In 1988, Ronnie Dugger, longtime editor of The Texas Observer, wrote a major piece on the move toward electronic-based elections in The New Yorker. He warned that the capacity now exists for “altering the computer program or the control punch cards that manipulate it, planting a time bomb, manually removing an honest counting program, and replacing it with a fraudulent one, counting fake ballots, altering the vote recorder that voters use at the polls or changing either the logic that controls precinct-located vote-counting devices, or the voting summaries in these units’ removable data-hyphen storage unit.” Dugger concluded: “The problem in this segment of the computer business, as in the field at large, is not only invisibility but also information as electricity.”
In 1996, Chuck Hagel ran for US Senate in Nebraska against popular incumbent Democratic governor Ben Nelson. Hagel had never held elective office. But he was part-owner of ES&S, a computerized voting machine company whose machines were used in conducting the statewide election. Michael McCarthy, president of ES&S, was Hagel’s campaign treasurer. Hagel became Nebraska’s first Republican elected to the US Senate in 24 years. Hagel’s part ownership of ES&S was hidden from the public during the campaign. One Nebraska newspaper called Hegel’s victory a “stunning upset.” Some 80% of the state’s ballots were cast and counted on ES&S machines.
After the presidency was given to George W. Bush in Florida 2000, Harris posted a series of internal Diebold memos relating to a critical electronic miscount in Volusia County that helped swing the election. One memo from Lana Hires of Global Election Systems, now part of Diebold, complained, “I need some answers! Our department is being audited by the County. I have been waiting for someone to give me an explanation as to why Precinct 216 gave Al Gore a minus 16,022 [votes] when it was uploaded.” Another, from Talbot Ireland, Senior VP of Research and Development for Diebold, referred to key “replacement” votes in Volusia County as “unauthorized.”
In the November 2002 Georgia election, incumbent US senator Max Cleland lost his seat to right-wing Republican Saxby Chambliss in an unexpected last-minute upset. It was the first election in which Georgia had used Diebold voting machines, and just prior to Election Day in an unusual move, the president of Diebold’s election unit Bob Urosevich brought in illegal software updates to the system. Harris found a set of files called “rob-georgia” among the secret voting machine database files.
In 2003, Ohio businessman Walden “Wally” O’Dell promised in a fundraising letter to wealthy GOP supporters that he would deliver Ohio’s electoral votes to Bush. O’Dell ran Diebold, which owned and operated the bulk of Ohio’s electronic voting machines. Diebold also controlled the software that would count the votes that decided the 2004 presidential election.
In March 2004, we published the article “Diebold, Electronic Voting, and the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy” on freepress.org and on motherjones.com predicting that Ohio would be the new Florida in the 2004 presidential election because of the partisan connections of George W. Bush to the private owners of the electronic voting machines and vote tabulation software. The key source for the article, Athan Gibbs, was an African American entrepreneur who had invented a voting machine that gave each voter a verified voting receipt. Approximately one week after the article ran, Gibbs was killed when his car was hit by a truck on an interstate highway.
Machines used in the Ohio 2004 election in Columbus came from Ransom Shoup, convicted in 1979 for conspiring to defraud the federal government in connection with a bribe attempt to obtain voting machine business, according to the Commercial Appeal newspaper of Memphis.
On July 20, 2011, Free Press published an election contract signed with GovTech, Michael Connell’s private IT company, allowing the theft of the Ohio 2004 electronic vote count, plus a graphic architectural map of the secretary of state’s election night server layout system linked to the IT site in Tennessee. Both documents were filed in the King Lincoln Bronzeville v. Blackwellcase.
There is much much more, now published in our e-book “The Strip & Flip Disaster of America’s Stolen Elections” (www.freepress.org).
In 2016 there was plenty of evidence of Russian interference.
But in an American election, the likeliest strippers, hackers, and flippers are still American. If Congress and the media ever get around to investigating Kris Kobach, Ken Blackwell, and other likely homegrown suspects, we are ready to testify.


Bob Fitrakis & Harvey Wasserman are co-authors of the new STRIP & FLIP DISASTER OF AMERICA’S STOLEN ELECTIONS: FIVE JIM CROWS AND ELECTRONIC ELECTION THEFT(www.freepress.org).


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