By Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman
Finally, the major for-profit media is approaching consensus that it’s easy to hack U.S. political elections. Even candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are raising unprecedented doubts – from very different directions – about the reliability of the upcoming vote count.
Ultimately, there is just one solution: universal hand-counted paper ballots, with carefully protected voter registration rolls, and a transparent chain of custody.
The corporate media and the Democrats are obsessed with the “Russians.” Donald Trump rants about a mythological army of voters voting multiple times.
But the real threat to our election system comes from private for-profit corporations that register voters, control voter databases, then count and report the vote with secret proprietary software and zero transparency, accountability, or recourse.
After ignoring or attacking the reportage since Florida 2000 of Bev Harris, Greg Palast, freepress.org and numerous others, the corporate media seems finally to be getting the message: under the current system, any American election – even the one for president – can be stripped and flipped by a tiny handful of electronic hackers working anywhere from the Kremlin to a party HQ to a state governor’s office to a teenager’s garage.
Here is some of what the mainstream media is finally admitting. In an article posted on July 28, 2016, NBC News pointed out that our elections are vulnerable to hacking because they “are not part of the vast ‘critical infrastructure protection’ safety net set up by the Department of Homeland Security.”
CBS News wrote August 10, 2016, about “the hackers at Symantec Security Response” who demonstrated how “Election Day results could be manipulated by an affordable device you can find online.”
Former national coordinator for counter-terrorism Richard Clarke, reporting for ABC News on August 19, 2016, analyzed the particular security problems related to battleground states like Ohio and Florida: “In 2000 and 2004, there were only a handful of battleground states that determined which presidential candidate had enough Electoral College votes to win. A slight alteration of the vote in some swing precincts in swing states might not raise suspicion. Smart malware can be programmed to switch only a small percentage of votes from what the voters intended. That may be all that is needed, and that malware can also be programmed to erase itself after it does its job, so there might be no trace it ever happened.” Clarke was on the White House National Security Council during both Bill Clinton’s and George W. Bush’s administrations.
Zeynep Tufekci, an associate professor at the North Carolina School of Information and Library Science, in his August 12, 2016 New York Times op-ed “The Election Won’t Be Rigged but It Could Be Hacked,” wrote: “The mere existence of this discussion is cause for alarm. The United States needs to return, as soon as possible, to a paper-based, auditable voting system in all jurisdictions that still use electronic-only, unverifiable voting machines.”
On August 30, 2016, the Washington Post wrote: “Deleting or altering data on voter rolls could cause mayhem on Election Day disenfranchising some voters. Many voting machines themselves also are vulnerable, especially touch-screen systems that do not create a paper record as a guard against fraud or manipulation.” The Post also supplied a list of the 15 states with the most vulnerable voting systems.
The list of those now admitting the obvious includes the Boston Globe, The Atlantic, USA Today, The Guardian, Mother Jones, and Politico, some of which have previously mocked those of us reporting on this issue. Most important has been the highly influential The Hill, which weighed in on May 2, 2016 with “Election fraud feared as hackers target voter records.” The lede was straightforward: “A series of data breaches overseas are spurring concerns that hackers could manipulate elections in the United States.”
Trump advisor Roger Stone wrote a column in The Hill with the headline: “Can the 2016 Elections Be Rigged? You Bet.” He also referred to our latest summary volume, “The Strip & Flip Selection of 2016: Five Jim Crows & Electronic Election Theft,” as “a must-read book on the strip and flip techniques used to rig these machines.”
But in the 2016 primary election, there are other must-reads as well. Perhaps the most important is Election Justice USA’s report entitled “Democracy Lost: A Report on the Fatally Flawed 2016 Democratic Primaries.” This report cites six major areas of election irregularities in this year’s 26 primary elections:
1) Targeting voter suppression
2) Registration tampering
3) Illegal voter purges
4) Exit poll discrepancies
5) Evidence for voting machine tampering
6) The security (or lack thereof) of various voting machines types.
In their 96-page report, Election Justice researchers documented how Hillary Clinton’s campaign benefited from these “various types of fraud.” Their conclusion: “Based on this work, Election Justice USA has established an upper estimate of 184 pledged delegates lost by Senator Bernie Sanders as a consequence of specific irregularities and instances of fraud.”
Election Justice’s well-documented estimate that Sanders lost 184 delegates means that if the election had been conducted fairly, the Senator from Vermont would now be the Democratic nominee.
Another document essential to understanding election irregularities that allowed Hillary Clinton to capture the Democratic Party nomination is a paper co-authored by Axel Geijsel of Tilburg University in the Netherlands and Rodolfo Cortes Barragan of Stanford University. Their analysis found that primary election results in states with the most vulnerable and hackable voting machines and without a paper trail overwhelmingly favored Hillary Clinton 65 percent to 35 percent. Sanders led Clinton 51 percent to 49 percent in states where the vote count could be verified with a paper trail.
The correlation between the increased Clinton vote and the increased vulnerability of the voting machines has been avoided like the plague by the corporate media.
Equally important to read is mathematician Richard Charnin’s blog. Charnin is a man the mainstream media often attacks – but not with mathematical formulas to rebut Charnin’s detailed analysis. Rather they attack him because, like the vast majority of Americans, he believes that John F. Kennedy was not killed by a lone gunman. In 2016, official Democratic primary vote counts compared to exit poll results were significantly outside the margin of error in 12 of 26 states. Charnin concluded that the probability of those official vote tallies being correct are one in 78 billion. There were no such discrepancies in this year’s Republican primaries.
Now 16 years after the theft of the presidency in Florida 2000, and a dozen since it was done again in Ohio 2004, the corporate media are approaching consensus that it is indeed very easy to strip millions of legitimate citizens from the voting rolls, and then to hack electronic voting machines and computerized central tabulators to flip the official final outcome.
The threat to this year’s election does not come from non-existent armies of mythological hordes voting multiple times. It comes from the private partisan companies with their secret proprietary software that control the voter rolls, the electronic machines, and ultimately the final outcome at all levels of government. The mega-corporations are the ones that flipped George W. Bush into the White House and Hillary Clinton into the Democratic nomination, not to mention manipulating countless Senate, House, and state and local elections along the way.
For a hopelessly vulnerable electronic election system which is flawed, hackable and riggable from top to bottom, there is just one solution: transparent unhackable voter rolls, and universal hand-counted paper ballots open to public scrutiny from the precinct level to the final official tallies, as dutifully reported by our slowly awakening corporate media.
Bob Fitrakis & Harvey Wasserman are co-authors of The Strip & Flip Selection of 2016: Five Jim Crows & Electronic Election Theft, available at www.freepress.org and www.solartopia.org, where Bob’s Fitrakis Files and Harvey’s Solartopia! can also be found.