Newspaper logo  
 
 
  The Ultimate Felony Against Democracy

TREASON?

The Ultimate Felony Against Democracy

by Thom Hartmann

Why are we allowing corporations to exclusively handle our vote, in a secret and totally invisible way? Particularly a private corporation founded, in one case, by a family that believes the Bible should replace the Constitution?
NOV 4, 2004--The hot story in the Blogosphere is that the "erroneous" exit polls that showed Kerry carrying Florida and Ohio (among other states) weren't erroneous at all--it was the numbers produced by paperless voting machines that were wrong, and Kerry actually won. As more and more analysis is done of what may (or may not) be the most massive election fraud in the history of the world, however, it's critical that we keep the largest issue at the forefront at all time: Why are We The People allowing private, for-profit corporations, answerable only to their officers and boards of directors, and loyal only to agendas and politicians that will enhance their profitability, to handle our votes?

Maybe Florida went for Kerry, maybe for Bush. Over time--and through the efforts of some very motivated investigative reporters--we may well find out (Bev Harris of blackboxvoting.org just filed what may be the largest Freedom of Information Act [FOIA] filing in history), and bloggers and investigative reporters are discovering an odd discrepancy in exit polls being largely accurate in paper-ballot states and oddly inaccurate in touch-screen electronic voting states Even raw voter analyses are showing extreme oddities in touch-screen-run Florida, and eagle-eyed bloggers are finding that news organizations are retroactively altering their exit polls to coincide with what the machines ultimately said.

In Germany, people fill in hand-marked ballots, which are hand-counted by civil servants taking a week off from their regular jobs, watched over by volunteer representatives of the political parties. It's totally clean, and easily audited.

But in all the discussion about voting machines, let's never forget the concept of the commons, because this usurpation is the ultimate felony committed by Bush-variety "conservatives" this year.

At the founding of this nation, we decided that there were important places to invest our tax (then tariff) dollars, and those were the things that had to do with the overall "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" of all of us. Over time, these commons--in which we all make tax investments and for which we all hold ultimate responsibility--have come to include our police and fire services; our military and defense; our roads and skyways; our air, waters and national parks; and the safety of our food and drugs.

But the most important of all the commons in which we've invested our hard-earned tax dollars is our government itself. It's owned by us, run by us (through our elected representatives), answerable to us, and most directly responsible for stewardship of our commons.

And the commons through which we regulate the commons of our government is our vote.

About two years ago, I wrote a story, "If You Want To Win An Election, Just Control The Voting Machines," that exposed how Senator Chuck Hagel had, before stepping down and running for the US Senate in Nebraska, been the head of the voting machine company (now ES&S) that had just computerized Nebraska's vote. The Washington Post (1/13/1997) said Hagel's "Senate victory against an incumbent Democratic governor was the major Republican upset in the November election." According to Bev Harris, Hagel won virtually every demographic group, including many largely black communities that had never before voted Republican. Hagel was the first Republican in 24 years to win a Senate seat in Nebraska, nearly all on unauditable machines he had just sold the state. And in all probability, Hagel will run for President in 2008.

In another, later article I wrote at the request of MoveOn.org and which they mailed to their millions of members, I noted that in Georgia--another state that went all-electronic--"USA Today reported on Nov. 3, 2002, 'In Georgia, an Atlanta Journal-Constitution poll shows Democratic Sen. Max Cleland with a 49%-to-44% lead over Republican Rep. Saxby Chambliss.' Cox News Service, based in Atlanta, reported just after the election (Nov. 7) that, "Pollsters may have goofed" because 'Republican Rep. Saxby Chambliss defeated incumbent Democratic Sen. Max Cleland by a margin of 53 to 46 percent. The Hotline, a political news service, recalled a series of polls Wednesday showing that Chambliss had been ahead in none of them.'" Nearly every vote in the state was on an electronic machine with no audit trail.

In the years since those first articles appeared, Bev Harris has published her book on the subject (Black Box Voting), including the revelation of her finding the notorious "Rob Georgia" folder on Diebold's FTP site just after Cleland's loss there; Lynn Landes has done some groundbreaking research, particularly her new investigation of the Associated Press, as have Rebecca Mercuri and David Dill. There's a new video out on the topic, "Votergate," available at votergate.tv.

Congressman Rush Holt introduced a bill into Congress requiring a voter-verified paper ballot be produced by all electronic voting machines, and it's been co-sponsored by a majority of the members of the House of Representatives. The two-year battle fought by Dennis Hastert and Tom DeLay to keep it from coming to a vote, thus insuring that there will be no possible audit of the votes of about a third of the 2004 electorate, has fueled the flames of conspiracy theorists convinced Republican ideologues--now known to be willing to lie in television advertising--would extend their "ends justifies the means" morality to stealing the vote "for the better good of the country" they think single-party Republican rule will bring.

Thomas Paine wrote, "The right of voting for representatives is the primary right by which all other rights are protected. To take away this right is to reduce a man to slavery."

Most important, though, the rallying cry of the emerging "honest vote" movement must become: Get Corporations Out Of Our Vote!

Why have we let corporations into our polling places, locations so sacred to democracy that in many states even international election monitors and reporters are banned? Why are we allowing corporations to exclusively handle our vote, in a secret and totally invisible way? Particularly a private corporation founded, in one case, by a family that believes the Bible should replace the Constitution; in another case run by one of Ohio's top Republicans; and in another case partly owned by Saudi investors?

Of all the violations of the commons--all of the crimes against We The People and against democracy in our great and historic republic--this is the greatest. Our vote is too important to outsource to private corporations.

It's time that the USA--like most of the rest of the world--returns to paper ballots, counted by hand by civil servants (our employees) under the watchful eye of the party faithful. Even if it takes two weeks to count the vote, and we have to just go, until then, with the exit polls of the news agencies. It worked just fine for nearly 200 years in the USA, and it can work again.

When I lived in Germany, they took the vote the same way most of the world does--people fill in hand-marked ballots, which are hand-counted by civil servants taking a week off from their regular jobs, watched over by volunteer representatives of the political parties. It's totally clean, and easily audited. And even though it takes a week or more to count the vote (and costs nothing more than a bit of overtime pay for civil servants), the German people know the election results the night the polls close because the news media's exit polls, for two generations, have never been more than a tenth of a percent off.

We could have saved billions that have instead been handed over to ES&S, Diebold, and other private corporations.

Or, if we must have machines, let's have them owned by local governments, maintained and programmed by civil servants answerable to We The People, using open-source code and disconnected from modems, that produce a voter-verified printed ballot, with all results published on a precinct-by-precinct basis.

As Thomas Paine wrote at this nation's founding, "The right of voting for representatives is the primary right by which all other rights are protected. To take away this right is to reduce a man to slavery."

Only when We The People reclaim the commons of our vote can we again be confident in the integrity of our electoral process in the world's oldest and most powerful democratic republic.


Thom Hartmann (thomhartmann.com) is a Project Censored Award-winning best-selling author and host of a nationally syndicated daily progressive talk show. is most recent books are The Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight, Unequal Protection: The Rise of Corporate Dominance and the Theft of Human Rights, We The People: A Call To Take Back America, and What Would Jefferson Do?: A Return To Democracy.

This article was also published on CommonDreams.org, and is republished in the Chronicle with permission of the author.




Copyright © 2004 The Baltimore Chronicle. All rights reserved.

Republication or redistribution of Baltimore Chronicle content is expressly prohibited without their prior written consent.

This story was published on November 6, 2004.

 
Local Gov’t Stories, Events

Ref. : Civic Events

Ref. : Arts & Education Events

Ref. : Public Service Notices

Travel
Books, Films, Arts & Education
Letters

Ref. : Letters to the editor

Health Care & Environment

05.30 Insurance companies taking too big a risk on fossil fuels, report says [like with Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, bad Key Decisions compound and grow]

05.29 Women lead the call to arms as anti-fracking fight intensifies

05.29 Florida brewery creates edible beer holders to save marine life

05.28 Could Alzheimer’s Stem From Infections? It Makes Sense, Experts Say

05.28 The Rogue Immune Cells That Wreck the Brain

05.28 Revealed: report for Unesco on the Great Barrier Reef that Australia didn't want world to see

05.28 Trump's climate claims: experts analyze Republican's energy policy remarks

05.27 Trump puts fossil fuels at US energy core [“Stupid is as stupid does.”  —Forrest Gump]

05.27 Teen cancer death rate causes alarm [it's from pollution, of course]

05.27 The west country cheddar maker powered by solar and cow dung

05.27 ExxonMobil is in its climate change bunker and won’t let reality in

News Media Matters

05.27 Journalists blast NY Times for pro-Israel bias and “grotesque” distortion of illegal occupation of Palestine

Daily: FAIR Blog
The Daily Howler

US Politics, Policy & 'Culture'

05.30 Our Memorial Day collision course with fascism: Donald Trump and the new American militarism

05.30 GOP’s poverty proposal: What to expect in the first of Paul Ryan’s big policy initiatives

05.30 'A wake up call': child-related shootings fuel Detroit's tough gun safety stance

05.30 Donald Trump a conquering hero for bikers at Rolling Thunder rally

05.30 ‘A capacity to move voters’: can California be Sanders’ golden state?

05.29 If you thought one Bernie Sanders was good, how about 100 of him?

05.29 Is Oklahoma trying to be America’s least progressive state? [captives of a fossil fueled economy]

05.29 Poor polls, scandal, a cussed rival ... how it’s all going wrong for Hillary Clinton

05.29 'Racists!' 'Illegals!' 'Scum!': protesters v Donald Trump supporters

05.28 The Stadium Boondoggle Is Migrating to the Suburbs

05.28 Federal Help for Poor Families With Children Is Evaporating [euthanasia might be more humane]

05.28 Bill Maher And Bernie Sanders Take Down ‘Chicken’ Donald Trump [11:24 video]

05.28 Meet the Bernie-Endorsed Law Professor Trying to Unseat the DNC Chair

05.28 Green Party's Jill Stein on the Feminist Case Against Hillary Clinton

05.28 Green Party's Jill Stein on the Feminist Case Against Hillary Clinton

05.28 How America Lost Its Mojo

05.28 Why the Left will divorce Hillary and the new Democratic Party

05.28 Tavis Smiley interviews Bernie Sanders [26:21 video]

05.28 Trump Says No Debate After Sanders Says Networks Interested

05.28 Protesters clash with police outside Donald Trump rally in San Diego [0:44 video]

Justice Matters

05.30 The dark side of Hollywood: The secret is out — now the alleged abuse of children must be confronted and investigated

05.29 Time to care about damn emails: Hillary Clinton has a serious legal problem

High Crimes?

05.28 Argentina's last military dictator jailed for role in international death squad

Economics, Crony Capitalism

05.29 Economists overwhelmingly reject Brexit in boost for Cameron

05.28 Austerity policies do more harm than good, IMF study concludes

05.27 Bernie Sanders Easily Wins the Policy Debate

International

05.30 France to focus on neglected history

05.30 Device used in Nazi coding machine found for sale on eBay

05.30 Isis attacks in Baghdad kill 11 as Iraqi forces try to retake Falluja

05.29 A former senior U.S. general again calls for abolishing the nuclear forces he once commanded

05.29 In Hiroshima Obama Calls for World Without Nukes, Contradicting New $1 Trillion Weapon Upgrade Plan

05.29 Exclusive: White House Blocks Transfer of Cluster Bombs to Saudi Arabia

05.29 ‘It's like Florence Nightingale’s time’: South Sudan’s public services collapse

05.29 Refugee crisis: 13,000 people rescued in Mediterranean in one week

05.29 Protests grow as Greece moves refugees to warehouses ‘not fit for animals’

05.29 Over 700 migrants feared dead in Mediterranean this week - UN

05.28 Israeli Ex-Officers Issue Peace Plan, Condemn Gov't Inaction

We are a non-profit Internet-only newspaper publication founded in 1973. Your donation is essential to our survival.

You can also mail a check to:
Baltimore News Network, Inc.
P.O. Box 42581
Baltimore, MD 21284-2581
Google
This site Web

Public Service Ads: