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May, 2003

Rigging the Vote
By Peter Coyote

   I'm including a copy of a letter I sent to Barbara Boxer and my other representatives with the evidence accumulated of a potential 'November surprise'-- the rigging of the next Presidential vote by private, inaccessible, untransparent voting machines that leave no paper trail. For a fuller discussion of the issue and links, please go to: CommonDreams.org Published on Friday, January 31, 2003.    
   I consider this a critical issue and if you agree urge you to disseminate this widely and write a personal letter to your representatives: NOT AN E-MAIL. If you need their address go to: http://www.house.gov/writerep/  and for the Senate go to: http://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senatorscfm.cfm

Senator Barbara Boxer
112 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Barbara,
   I'm writing to you about a situation of the greatest urgency. Last year, I narrated a film called "Unprecedented" by American journalist Greg Palast (currently writing for the London Guardian). This film documents the illegal expunging of 54,000 black and overwhelmingly Democratic voters from the Florida rolls just before the presidential election. We interviewed the computer company that did the work, filmed their explanations of the instructions they received and their admissions that they knew that their instructions would produce massive error. That figure has now been revised to 91,000. 
  Jeb Bush was sued, and was supposed to have returned these voters to the rolls, and did not, which explains his last re-election. The Republicans have something far worse in mind for the next presidential election and Democrats need to be prepared.
   The recent elections of Nebraska Republican Chuck Hagel, the loss in Georgia of Max Cleland, wildly popular Vietnam vet, and the victory of Alabama Governor Bob Riley, along with a handful of other Republican victories, (all predicted to have been losers by straw polls which our nation has refined to a high-art) points to an ominous source: corporate-programmed, computer-controlled, modem-capable voting machines, recording and  tabulating ballots.
   You'd think in an open democracy that the government---answerable to all its citizens, rather than a handful of corporate officers and stockholders---would program, repair, and control the voting machines. You'd think the computers that handle our cherished ballots would be open and their software and programming available for public scrutiny. You'd think there would be a paper trail of the vote, which could be followed and audited if a there was evidence of voting fraud or if exit polls disagreed with computerized vote counts. You'd be wrong.
   The Washington, DC publication The Hill  (www.thehill.com/news/012903/hagel.aspx) has confirmed that former  conservative radio talk-show host and now Republican US Senator  Chuck Hagel was the head of, and continues to own part interest in, the company that owns the company that installed, programmed, and largely ran the voting machines that were used by most of the citizens of Nebraska. When Democrat Charlie Matulka requested a hand count of the vote in the election he lost to Hagel, his request was denied because Nebraska had a just-passed law that prohibits government-employee election workers from looking at the ballots, even in a recount. The only machines permitted to count votes in Nebraska, he said, are those made and programmed by the corporation formerly run by Hagel.  When Bev Harris and The Hill's Alexander Bolton pressed the Chief Counsel and Director of the Senate Ethics Committee, (the man responsible for ensuring that FEC disclosures are complete), asking him why he'd not questioned Hagel's 1995, 1996, and 2001 failures to disclose the details of his ownership in the company that owned the voting machine company when he ran for the Senate, the Director reportedly met with Hagel's office on Friday, January 25, 2003 and Monday, January 27, 2003.  After the second meeting, on the afternoon of January 27th, the Director of the Senate Ethics Committee resigned his job.    Hagel's surprise victory is a trial-run for the presidential  election.  Election 'reform' laws are now prohibiting paper ballots (no trail) and exit polls, effectively removing all trace and record of votes, making prosecution of voter fraud virtually impossible.
   For whatever reasons, the Democrats decided not to pursue the  issue of fraudulence in the last Presidential election. The three Supreme Court Justices who should  have recused themselves (Scalia, Thomas, and O'Connor) were allowed  to stand unchallenged and pass a bizarre one-time-only ruling. That  they were in place long before the election, demonstrates how clearly  the end-game of such moves was thought out. 
  Unless the issue of voter fraud is elevated to an issue of  national importance, not only is it highly probable that Democrats will lose again and again, but eventually voters will "sense" even if they cannot prove, that elections are rigged, and the current 50% of those boycotting elections will swell to the majority.   Privatization of the vote is tantamount to turning over the control of democracy to the corporate sector.   I urge you to use your considerable powers and influence to address this issue.

 

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