by James J. Condit Jr.
You're running in your first election for City Council in a crowded field of 26 candidates. Nine will be elected. The No. 1 local anchorman comes on TV at about 9:15 PM and announces that you're going to do very well for a first time candidate, then flashes on the screen that you're running 12th; only three places from victory. Such a finish would give hope to all who were daring to "fight city hall."
Earlier in the evening, a liberal-leftist home-town university professor who was analyzing early returns for another local TV station had projected that your arch-rival, and his ally the sweetheart of the anti-God portion of the establishment was headed towards defeat.
But HO-L-L-L-D EVERYTHING ! ! !
At approximately 9:45 PM, the same anchorman announces that there has been a computer breakdown. 45 minutes later when the computers come back up, a massive switch has occurred. You and 7 other feisty challengers have fallen to the very bottom of the heap. The establishment sweetheart has jumped into a winning position against all odds. Despite unprecedented public dissatisfaction, the same old faces are elected once again. Many conclude that "you just can't fight city hall." Things have worked out just great for all those entrenched politicians who seemed to be the object of such public dissatisfaction right up to election day. The next morning, you scan the papers in vain for any mention of the computer breakdown: no record for posterity.
The above scenario is my story, but it was happening in dozens of places all across the nation. It was 1979 and a new day had quietly dawned in America - UNVERIFIABLE, RIGGABLE computerized vote tabulation.
Ballots for Bullets
When I was small I remember my Dad saying how in other countries they would shoot each other to decide the transfer of power. In our country it was done by the ballot at election time.
Millions of American soldiers have fought and bled and died to protect your right to free and fair elections; to protect your right to an orderly, peaceful transfer of power when the people so will.
How Your Parents' Votes Were Counted
Once upon a time, Americans voted by Paper Ballot. At the end of the day after the polls had closed, neighborhood people, Democrats and Republicans, worked together to count the votes in the precinct (polling place) BEFORE the votes left that precinct. The count was then posted at the precinct polling place for all to see. This is the only way to insure a verifiable election. Variations of method are possible, but the elements of physical ballots which are counted and posted at the precinct before the ballots leave each precinct are essential to insure a fair and honest count.
To rig an election with the above safeguards built in, one would have to bribe many hundreds of neighborhood people, including key Democrats and Republicans in each precinct you hoped to rig. Finally, the group of people bribed at each precinct would only have access to a tiny fraction of the vote.
The Greatest Coverup Begins
About 1974 a sinister development was in full swing all over the United States. In many areas, especially high populations regions, the votes were no longer being counted in the precincts by neighborhood people. The switch was on to computer vote counting systems. Typical was Cincinnati, Ohio where votes were bundled up immediately after the polls closed and sent to a mysterious central computer room to be counted by secret computer codes. To add insult to injury, the votes were counted away from the watchful eye of the entire electorate and the press.
Despite the brutal cover up that has been conducted for going on three decades by the news media and the major parties to prevent you from hearing about this issue, some major media news items have appeared. In a rare but superb news story on the eve of the 1988 Presidential election, Dan Rather (CBS Evening News) engaged in this exchange with computer expert Howard J. Strauss of Princeton University:
Rather: "Realistically, could the fix be put on in a national election?"
Strauss: "Get me a job with the company that writes the software for this program. (ed: Strauss was referring to the most common computer program in use) Then I'd have access to one third of the votes. Is that enough to fix a general election?"
"A House Without Doors"
In an earlier clip during this CBS interview, Howard J. Strauss dropped this bombshell: "When it comes to computerized elections, there are no safeguards. It's not a door without locks, it's a house without doors." The most succinct introductory summary to this mind-blowing subject is found in Votescam: The Stealing of America by James & Kenneth Collier.
The chapter begins by quoting the first words spoken by President-elect, George Bush in his Nov. 8, 1988 victory speech in Houston, Texas. Bush said: "We can now speak the most majestic words a democracy can offer: "The people have spoken. . . "
The Colliers comment: "It was not "the People" of the United States who did 'the speaking' on that election day, although most of them believed it was, and still believe it. In fact, the People did not speak at all. The voices most of us really heard that day were the voices of computers strong, loud, authoritative, unquestioned in their electronic finality....
The computers that spoke in November 1988 held in their inner workings small boxes that contained secret codes that only the sellers of the computers could read. The programs, or "source codes," were regarded as "trade secrets." The sellers of the vote-counting software zealously guarded their programs from the public, from election officials, from everyone on the dubious grounds that competitors could steal their ideas if the source codes were open to inspection....
You may ask: What "ideas" does it require to count something as simple as ballots? Can the "ideas" be much more complex than, let's say, a supermarket computerized cash register or an automatic bank teller machine?
The computer voting machines do not have to do anything complicated at all; they simply must be able to register votes for the correct candidate or party or proposal, tabulate them, count them up, and deliver arithmetically correct additions....
People with no formal training, even children, used to do it all the time. So why can't the public know what those secret source codes instruct the computers to do?
It only makes common sense that every gear, every mechanism, every nook and cranny of every part of the voting process ought to be in the sunlight, wide open to public view. How else can the public be reasonably assured that they are participating in an unrigged election where their vote actually means something? Yet one of the most mysterious, low-profile, covert, shadowy, questionable mechanisms of American democracy is the American vote count....
Computers in voting machines are effectively immune from checking and rechecking. If they are fixed, you cannot know it, and you cannot be sure at all of an honest tally."
If you understand the above quoted paragraphs, you understand the problem.
Crash, Cover-up, Lawsuit, Fix
Among the many struggles which have taken place all over the USA in the last few decades over this issue, I can speak about only one from first hand experience: Cincinnati, Ohio (covered on page 242-247 in the Collier book.) Fortunately, the Cincinnati case illustrates as well as any other instance how the establishment media and both major parties coalesce to thwart any attempt to get rid of their precious, riggable computer vote counting systems.
"How Elections Are Stolen" in American Opinion magazine written in 1977 by Dr. Susan L.M. Huck alerted me to the dangers of computerized vote counting systems. When we actually witnessed our very own computer crash in 1979 (described on Page 1) during which everything worked out perfectly for the "in-crowd" I knew something big and bad was up. When the Cincinnati newspapers failed to mention the computer crash the next morning and the accompanying candidate position shake up this was our first taste of the media blackout that dozens of other concerned citizens were experiencing all over the nation.
After due research and preparation, we filed suit against our local Board of Elections in 1981, and after 4 years of public service litigation conducted by my Father, James J. Condit Sr., our side won a decisive victory. Judge Richard Niehaus ruled: "There is no adequate and proper safeguard against the computers being programmed to distort the election results." What the Judge's ruling means, is that thousands of your votes can be switched in the blink of an eye and no one would ever be the wiser!
Judge Niehaus also issued a court order allowing us and our chosen experts "to observe all phases of the election process" on election night 1985 with a view that we bring evidence back to his court so that the situation could be properly remedied.
Shortly before this court ruling, my mother-in-law had providentially alerted me to a series called Votescam by the Collier brothers being carried in the Washington DC-based weekly newspaper, The Spotlight. Thanks to this tip, I was able to ask the Colliers to serve as two of our court-approved experts. As reported in their book, the Colliers had already video-filmed women punching votes out of voters' ballots at the Board of Elections on election night 1982 in Miami, Florida.
And to my surprise (but not to theirs), the Colliers also caught women on camera plucking votes out of punchcard ballots in Cincinnati, this time using household tweezers.
Disappointingly, Judge Niehaus (in his tennis shoes) was summoned down to the Board of Elections at about 7:30 PM on that 1985 election night by the heads of both the Republican and Democratic Parties. The Judge, in a highly unusual move, modified his court order on the spot insisting that observing "all phases of the election process" did not include videotaping!
The audio portion of the confrontation between Ken Collier on the one hand, and the Judge and both local Party heads on the other, is captured on a video camera which was pointed at the floor during the tense exchange. The Colliers were told to quit videotaping under threat of arrest.
The next morning we appeared on the Jan Mickelson Show on WCKY Talk Radio. Mickelson, who is one of the top Talk Show Hosts in the country, was skeptical when Ken Collier asserted that we had video-film of women pulling votes out of ballots with common household tweezers. He shot a quick glance my way as if he were having second thoughts about having let us on the air at all. But then our credibility shot sky-high when no one from the Board of Elections was willing to come on the air against us.
Back to election night: While the Colliers' videotaping efforts were causing such consternation to the Election officials, our other court-approved expert, Mr. Robert Strunk, was moving quietly through the system with my Father.
Mr. Strunk, a highly respected computer analyst who once headed the Xavier University computer department, issued a magnificent report to the Court detailing why the computer vote counting system was NOT verifiable. Mr. Strunk said that to believe the published results under this computer system was "an act of faith."
Please observe that the conclusions of Mr. Strauss and Mr. Strunk, as well as the conclusions of dozens of other honest computer experts, agree completely on the unverifiability of these computer vote counting systems. As far as we know, there is not one computer expert in the nation who has gone on record in an attempt to refute these scholarly individuals.
Despite his previous fine decisions, Judge Niehaus, perhaps feeling the heat from the local power structure, excused himself from taking any action to remedy the riggable computer system by announcing that he was a "pacifist" judge whatever that means. We appealed, and two years later in 1987 our deplorable Court of Appeals dismissed the six year-old case stating absurdly that the county judge did not have any jurisdiction over the county computer vote counting system.
In the meantime, something momentous happened. Two whistle-blowers had come forth from Cincinnati Bell. One of them eventually testified in convincing detail during court proceedings connected with our lawsuit that he had been involved in causing a computer crash while helping to alter the local 1979 election by wiretapping into our computer vote counting system. (The reader will recall that this was the very year we had been stunned by the candidate shake-up which occurred seemingly during the computer shutdown.). The key whistle-blower had already watched for several years as a Congressman, the FBI, and all the press stonewalled his evidence.
On election eve 1986, Cincinnatus Political Action Committee, our local political vehicle, had issued a press release asking the media how they could ignore Judge Niehaus's finding and continue to report local elections as business as usual when the same riggable computer system was still counting the votes. Only Channel 12 responded and took a brief statement from me, but the spot they aired right after Monday Night Football caught the attention of the key whistle-blower, and he contacted us the next day, election day '86.
After another year of being stonewalled, we convinced the frustrated whistle-blowers that the only way to break through the media censorship was to utilize a little known law which forces TV and radio stations to accept a candidate's political ads provided no obscenity is involved.
Days before our TV ad featuring the whistle-blowers was to air, Judge Niehaus again played a key role when he ruled favorably on my Father's request to allow the key whistle-blower to enter his sworn testimony about wiretapping the computer on election nights as well as causing that crash in 1979 into our suit against the Board of Elections, which had not yet been thrown out by the Court of Appeals. Together the TV ad and the sworn testimony combined to spark the only two significant local major media reports that have ever appeared. Anchor Nick Clooney and reporter Mary Krutko of Channel 12 aired an excellent, in-depth local TV segment, and twenty minutes later during the same newscast our TV ad featuring the whistle-blowers ran.
The next morning (Oct. 30, 1987), reporter Randy Ludlow wrote an outstanding article in the Cincinnati Post. But these two reports alerted the Media Moguls and the media curtain of censorship was slammed down.
Eventually a cornucopia of press coverage did ensue but it focused on other aspects of the story, while maintaining the brutal cover-up of the vote fraud issue. All the rest of the coverage was devoted to relative trivia such as which millionaires and organizations had been allegedly phone tapped, speculation as to why, etc. etc. etc.
By time the smoke had cleared in the wiretapping story, 5 policemen had resigned in disgrace and Cincinnati Bell admitted one of its trucks had been used in wiretapping activities. The Wall Street Journal had mentioned the story, local Cincinnati newspapers, TV, and radio stations combined to carry over 400 reports and 60 Minutes aired a segment on the Cincinnati wiretapping story. The chief computer man at the local Board of Elections admitted under oath that if someone had the relevant codes he would have a 100% chance to alter the election results.
But omitted from all major media press coverage, with the two already noted exceptions, was any intelligible reporting on the votefraud aspect of the story. (Several highly explosive radio shows featuring the Colliers, the whistle-blowers, and myself are preserved on audiotape. Our TV commercial featuring the whistle-blowers and the local Channel 12 spot is preserved on videotape as is an hour interview which I conducted with one of the whistle-blowers early on just in case we had not been able to break through the media curtain.)
New Yorker Magazine, Dan Rather, and the U.S. Department of Commerce
Even though 99% of the investigative reporting on votescam has been done by private citizens and non-establishment investigators (for instance, while the "respectable" New York Times has done only 3 stories on the subject, the "persona non grata" Spotlight weekly was carrying over 300 stories), there have been enough establishment sponsored stories to demonstrate that the major news media has what some call "guilty knowledge."
On the eve of the Bush-Dukakis election, Ronnie Dugger broke the almost total silence in the major media on votescam when his article "The Dangers of Computerized Voting" appeared as a cover story in the Nov. 7, 1988 issue of New Yorker magazine (This dynamite article is available in most libraries).
Dugger, who visited me for a week in Cincinnati during the wiretapping uproar, exerted his journalistic skills to present this issue in an undeniably credible manner. He documented the activities of many and varied citizens, candidates, and experts generally unknown to each other who have been working on votescam in virtually every region of the country from the early 70's to the present day.
Within days of the appearance of the New Yorker cover story, CBS Evening News with Dan Rather carried the only report to date to appear on a major TV network, featuring computer expert Dr. Howard J. Strauss. We have also preserved this excellent 5 minute report on videotape.
In August of 1988, the U.S. Bureau of Commerce published a comprehensive study under the auspices of the National Bureau of Standards by Roy G. Saltman, Special Publication 500-158 entitled "Accuracy, Integrity, and Security in Computerized Vote-Tallying."
This is probably the most comprehensive compilation of all the lawsuits and other aspects which surround the issue of computerized voting published thus far. This government study supports Dugger's article, as well as supplies mountains of evidence documenting the problems with computer vote-counting systems.
The fact that Saltman failed to pick up our Cincinnati case -- which featured both the most decisive judicial ruling and the only whistle-blower to come forth to date -- demonstrates the difficulty faced by even a well-funded government agency in compiling a comprehensive list of all the efforts that have been conducted to expose the dangers of computerized vote tabulating.
The thus-far successful suppression of the votescam issue from widespread public notice is a chilling demonstration of major media censorship in America.
Why Does the Board Of Elections Exist?
The Boards of Election exist for one reason: to guarantee that the results published on election night are in fact the will of the people; to insure in a way that can be verified that what the people voted in the thousands of neighborhood pollings places is what shows up as the final results. It doesn't matter how many pieces of literature are distributed, or how many TV campaign commercials run, or how much shouting goes on, or how many debates are televised.
If the computer programs which "count" our votes are poised to switch key votes in the blink of an eye, the rest just doesn't matter. As computer whiz Howard J. Strauss said at the end of that lone 1988 CBS Evening News report: "Should we make it voluntary that we have safe elections or should we demand safe elections?"
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