COMPUTERIZED ELECTION FRAUD
IN McHENRY COUNTY
THE STATE OF ILLINOIS
THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
A report published by the
McHenry County Conservation Voters
April 30, 1994
McHenry County Conservation Voters
P. O. Box 383
McHenry, IL 60098
THE OPPORTUNITY FOR COMPUTERIZED ELECTION FRAUD IN McHENRY COUNTY,
THE STATE OF ILLINOIS,
AND THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
A Report Published by the
McHenry County Conservation Voters
April 30, 1994
Everyone involved with this project in McHenry County and similar projects elsewhere across the country has at first experienced disbelief that there was such opportunity and probability that we are not governed by elected officials. When personally learning the facts, they were shocked. The facts presented herein are true and are based on verifiable election observations and statements of State and County election officials!
Americans have no constitutionally protected right to the accurate counting of votes. There are no federal laws requiring votes be accurately counted. There are no federally mandated minimum requirements for vote tabulating accuracy. Election procedures are determined by the states.
The press, both locally and nationally, has focused on how difficult it is to beat an incumbent. Numerous articles point out that well over 90% of our elected officials are returned to federal and state offices. The conjured reasons are the candidates’ “momentum,” “visibility before the public,” and the money behind the political action committees. The concept that rigged elections might explain this curious phenomenon, that has occurred since the advent of computerized vote counting, is so outrageous as to defy credibility - for everyone.
When election accuracy is questioned, the focus is on the polling place. Here in McHenry County, we have been complacent as citizens because so few significant problems have been reported in the precincts. However, while attention has focused on the precincts, no one is watching the computerized tabulation of ballots in the central counting location. That is where massive vote fraud can easily occur.
A county is certainly a small cog in the federal and state wheel. Dan Rostenkowski, Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, has long been considered one of the most powerful men in government. He is, in fact, more powerful than the President. Nothing gets by his committee without his nod. His Committee is national in scope, but he is elected from one district in Illinois. On the Illinois state level, James “Pate” Phillip “controls” the Republican Illinois State Senate. He is more powerful than the Governor. Mike Madigan, Democratic Speaker of the House, controls the House and is also more powerful than the Governor. All three individuals will control government longer than the President or Governor and have virtual veto power over any proposals of the Chief Executive.
Each of these three individuals is elected only by one voting district. Rostenkowski controls national expenditures and revenues for the United States. Phillip and Madigan control Illinois government. That is how important one voting district can be.
How do these people become so powerful? They become chairmen of committees through seniority - the number of years they have been on a committee. To achieve that distinction, all that is necessary is to have a “safe” voting district. While elected officials can legitimately be elected for long periods, this result can also be secured through vote manipulation.
And you don’t need to manipulate all the votes in the voting district. Only a portion need to be adjusted. For example, John Cox, the one-term Democratic congressman from northern Illinois, won all of his multi-county district in northern Illinois except for McHenry County. Polls showed he should also have won McHenry, but instead he lost by a large plurality. McHenry County, with a single centralized vote tabulating system, controlled the entire congressional district. In the last primary, longtime Congressman Phil Crane surprised everyone by strangely turning the race around in the wee hours of the morning, after the press and his challenger believed he had lost.
The person or group that arranges for the votes to be manipulated to secure a safe district, has enormous power. In Illinois, judges, including the Appellate and Supreme Court Judges, are selected by computerized voting systems. The outcomes of referenda, taxing issues, municipal elections, changes to the Illinois Constitution, tollways and gambling issues are also determined by these systems. And the accuracy of none of these elections can be verified!
This document will provide the information you
need to understand how votes can be manipulated, who could be involved and the
questions you need to ask.
An Overview of McHenry County
This is a story about McHenry County which is located in the northeastern part of Illinois. It has a population of about 200,000 and is largely on the outskirts of suburban Chicago with urban commuter, industrial and farm communities.
However, this story could take place in any county, anywhere in Illinois. It could take place in any county, anywhere in the United States. The only requirements are that vote tabulations be centralized, computerized and that county politics strongly favors a single party, either Democratic or Republican.
In McHenry County, control of elections is important. In this small county, over $200,000,000 pass through the County Treasurer’s office annually. The annual County operating budget is about $60,000,000. The County government is one of the largest employers.
The County has always been Republican, and for at least two decades, the Chairman of the Republican party has been Al Jourdan. Jourdan was Chairman of the State Republican party during the Bush administration. George Bush visited McHenry County twice during his 1988 Presidential campaign, the first presidential candidate to do so. Al Jourdan is also the County Auditor. The McHenry County Auditor, unlike other auditors, is in charge of payroll and approves payables, as well as auditing the payroll and payables.
William Ward has been County Treasurer since the early 1980s. He sends out tax bills. According to our sources, his prior employment was as the sales representative for the Frank Thornber Company which markets computerized election tabulating services to county governments in Illinois. In 1985, Thornber was acquired by Business Records Corporation (BRC). Bill Ward was BRC’s sales representative in northern Illinois while he was also McHenry County Treasurer. BRC is the largest supplier of computerized election tabulating equipment and services in the nation.
The County Clerk in McHenry, as in most counties in Illinois and in the nation, operates and controls elections. Few people know the name of their county clerk. Seldom, if ever, has anyone heard of a contested county clerk election. As a longtime uncontested elected position, it becomes a virtual appointment. Since 1990, the McHenry County Clerk has been Katherine Schultz. Prior to that time she was Deputy County Clerk and ran the elections. Her husband, Don Schultz, has a responsible position in the County Government Center maintenance department located next to the tabulating room. The maintenance department installs computer cables in the County building.
Under the law, the County Clerk selects all of the election equipment, including the software that counts the votes, and has unrestricted access to all the ballots. The County Clerk also controls who is permitted to enter the computer room to witness the computers tabulating the ballots.
Since 1990, the provider of the election software for the McHenry County elections has been Governmental Business Systems (GBS). They operate computerized election tabulations in 20 counties in Illinois. The principals, including the president, vice presidents and people running the McHenry County election, left BRC to start GBS. Their selection as the company to operate elections was not based on competitive bidding nor was it approved by any authority other than the County Clerk. Not even County Board members know the basis for the selection of GBS. The basis for the selection remains a secret.
Rick Fulle is the Assistant Director of Voting Systems for the Illinois State Board of Elections. The State Board does not know what software is used to count the ballots in McHenry. The State Board does not “certify” software. The State Board does not have a copy of all the GBS software used for the vote tabulation. The State Board doesn’t know what software is on the computers being used to count the ballots in Illinois. The State Board does not concern itself with the entire computer system, only the card readers and their associated computers. The Illinois State Board of Elections interprets the law so that master computers, network servers, merge computers and other computers having access to and control over the vote tabulating system are beyond their purview.
Freedom of Information requests don’t apply to information about software and the computer systems used because in Illinois, as in virtually every state, this information is private and secret. It is just as secret as the chemicals in cigarettes people smoke, and for the same reasons - trade secrets. At least the federal government knows the secrets of the cigarettes. With elections, however, a handful of people who do the programming for BRC or their spin-off companies know what really goes on in the programs used on election night.
The McHenry County Conservation Voters (MCCV) was started in the early 1980s as an independent grass roots political action committee, registered in Illinois, promoting good and honest government in McHenry County. The MCCV has been watching the computerized tabulation of votes since March 1990. It was asked to do so at that time because of public reports of computers regularly crashing in every election, of computer fraud, and of irregularities in results. The computers have continued to crash in every election tabulation since then.
McHenry County Elections:
An Historical Perspective
March 20, 1990
Because the County Clerk refused to permit an observer to view the ballot tabulation in the Republican primary, the MCCV filed suit in U.S. District Court. The federal courts ruled that this was a state issue and they had no federal power in state elections. Only the Chairmen of the recognized political parties, Al Jourdan, Republican, and Dick Short, the stand-in Democratic, were to be permitted into the viewing area by the then County Clerk and her deputy, Katherine Schultz. The MCCV successfully fought to witness the election tabulation by using credentials of the obscure, short-lived Solidarity Party from Chicago.
Although the two tabulating computers were supposedly operating independently, they both had networking software. The cable from the computers passed by Al Jourdan’s office on its way to the high-speed printer in the building basement. One of the two tabulating computers failed after the mid-election results were publicly posted. The eight minute time lapse between computer failure and the printing of precinct totals indicated a secret computer was connected somewhere between the vote counting equipment and the printer that tabulated the results. Other irregularities were also noted.
On April 20th, 1990, GBS became
incorporated and was now in the business of running public elections. The
people starting the company came from BRC. They were selected to run the next
McHenry County election.
November 20, 1990
This election was the first time the GBS election software had ever been used. On election night, the computer again crashed after the mid-election results were posted. Observers were never permitted to see a directory or have printed a listing of the software used on the systems. There was as much as a 2 hour 53 minute delay between when a precinct was first tabulated by the computers and when results were finally printed.
November 3, 1992
The week before the election, the state test was run with the state officials in attendance. However, by election night, a new networked system had been installed with cables going outside the room. Computer files had been changed and there was a secret computer discovered in operation in the Data Processing Department on the other side of the vote tabulating room wall.
When the changes to the computer system and software were brought to the attention of the State Board of Elections officials that night, they explained that there was nothing that could be done. Under Illinois election law, the County Clerk has absolute authority to administer the tabulation and can change both the computer and the software. No one has any right to even examine the equipment or the software that is being used. The state official said that the Illinois voter has no protection against fraudulent elections run on the computer system and that the opportunity for a recount in Illinois is non-existent.
The computerized election tally continued until 6:00 A.M. the next morning.
April 20, 1993
Observers were not allowed in the ballot counting room. The system was a networked system with a computer cable going outside the tabulating room, past Al Jourdan’s office, to a public “display” room.
A printer was placed against the door and blocked access to the room with the secret computer found in the previous election. Limited access to that room was then through Al Jourdan’s office.
As in the prior elections, the system had to be restarted between the public test and the actual counting of ballots. The entire system failed at 8:12 P.M. and had to be restarted again. No one was permitted to see a directory listing of the software.
November 2, 1993
School and community college boards of trustees, thirteen school financing referenda, and other local issues were decided by this election. A school board election in Woodstock was hotly contested, with growth being the principal issue.
At about 9 p.m., following the first display of the vote totals, the vote tabulating system failed, and malfunctioning tabulating equipment was replaced.
The Alden Hebron precincts were among the last to be counted, and their referendum was among the few to pass. The tabulation lasted until after one in the morning, after watchers had left.
March 15, 1994
The computer system had expanded. Changes in the vote counting software were made between 2 a.m. and 4 a.m. and between 10 p.m. and 11 p.m. the day the software was delivered to the County Clerk. County Clerk Katherine Schultz refused to provide information about the changes or listings of the software on the system. There was no documentation that the software or equipment has been reviewed or certified by the State. The State Board of Elections did not know what software was being used by the County Clerk to tabulate election results.
Keystrokes entered into the system were not being logged. The entire election was run in secret. In a subsequent recount, questions went unanswered either with the response “That’s proprietary information” or “I’ll answer that in court.”
The computer network server crashed between the public test and the actual vote tabulation.
Facts About Our Elections
Even though a substantial amount of evidence of irregularities has been collected from public documents, letters and statements from public officials in the past several elections, the MCCV has been obstructed by both the County Clerk and the Illinois State Board of Elections in its efforts to verify the accuracy of the vote tabulating process.
On March 24, 1994, the MCCV, in preparation for a recount the following week, asked the State Board of Elections to respond to basic questions such as “Does Illinois State Election Law require the use of state certified software to tabulate the election results?” Now, six weeks later, the recount being long past, the MCCV still has not received a response. (The correct answer is that there is no such thing as state certified election software, or anything like it.)
Even without the voluntary cooperation of the State Board of Elections or the County Clerk, Katherine Schultz, the MCCV has learned much about election laws and their interpretation and the practical consequences of these interpretations.
1. There is no legally protected right of American citizens to accurate elections.
a. Federal laws do not require that votes be counted accurately.
b. Neither the Illinois Constitution nor Illinois State law requires accuracy in election tabulations.
c. There is no affirmative duty of election officials to run an accurate election or prevent vote fraud.
d. There is no right of any candidate, party, or individual to verify the accuracy of a computer election where fraud is suspected.
e. It is not illegal in Illinois for a public official to run an election with full knowledge of massive computer vote fraud taking place.
2. There is virtually no security of the computerized vote tabulating system or the ballots.
a. There is no certification of election tabulation programs by any Illinois authority.
b. There is no requirement that software reviewed by the State authority be used in elections.
c. The State Board of Elections does not have a copy of software used to count ballots on election night.
d. Computer software and hardware can be changed at any time before or during an election.
e. There is nothing wrong or illegal if secret computers have access to the vote tabulating system and can manipulate vote totals.
f. Vote tabulating computers can have software installed and running other than software purportedly used in public tabulation testing. In other words, there can be two sets of vote tabulating software residing on the computers, one for public testing, and one with predetermined results.
g. Only the County Clerk or deputies appointed by the County Clerk have any access to the computer system or the software used to count ballots. Neither the State Attorney General nor the Illinois Board of Elections can overrule the County Clerk in the conduct of an election.
h. The selection and the criteria for selection of the company to run public elections are not subject to competitive bidding, review, or approval by the County Board. The decision is solely within the discretion of the County Clerk.
i. Illinois Law does not require any security of the ballots after they have been tabulated by the computers. In the weeks between the tabulation and any recount, there is virtually no security to protect ballots from being changed (other than the word of the County Clerk).
j. The only security for ballots brought to the County Government Center from the precincts is that the container boxes be taped or wrapped in wire.
In summary, it may be legal for the County Clerk, with the full knowledge and cooperation of the Illinois State Board of Elections, to set up a computer system to enable a third party to secretly control vote results. Then, using the authority of the office, the County Clerk may legally prevent discovery by others of the vote manipulation and fraud. This is just one reason why a “smoking gun” can’t ever be found.
It is time for election officials to explain the unusual and private manner in which centralized computer tabulating elections are run in Illinois (and across the country). Democrats and Republicans, on both a state and federal level, are familiar with this situation and, curiously enough, allow it to continue.
The Issues At Stake Are Important
1. Are secret elections and democracy compatible?
Secret elections prevent the electorate from verifying whether reported election results reflect the voters’ will. Secret elections and democracy cannot coexist.
2. Is validation of the accuracy of an election in a democracy a public obligation or a private expense?
An accurately tabulated election is fundamental to a democracy. It must follow that it is an affirmative obligation of the government to police the elections to assure accuracy. It must also follow that it is a fundamental right of an electorate to verify the accuracy of an election.
It is a prohibitively expensive burden for a private party to verify the accuracy of the election. When a candidate seeks a recount, the attorney’s fees, alone, can cost more than a winning election campaign. Additionally, the candidate, as a private party, pays all County Clerk expenses, and still has only limited access to the ballots and the computer tabulating system. Recount and court expenses are incurred after running expensive election races. The tremendous cost of a recount comes unexpectedly and immediately after the candidate has not only spent the campaign warchest but is also at his or her limits financially, physically and emotionally.
3. Can the state create arbitrary laws and rulings to frustrate validation of the accuracy of vote tabulations?
Illinois law provides for a limited “discovery” recount when candidates' votes are within 5% of one another. This is an arbitrary number, and in the case of computer vote fraud, the results are just as easily manipulated so contending candidates stay outside of that 5% window. The extent to which the accuracy of the tabulation can be tested is thus arbitrarily limited.
Illinois law provides that the County Clerk, as election czar, can arbitrarily limit who witnesses the vote tabulation.
Illinois law limits a discovery recount to 25% of the precincts. While that number may or may not be suitable for a statewide election, it is arbitrary and hardly suitable for a local election involving only a few precincts.
4. Can Freedom Of Information laws be skirted by contracting the public function of tabulating votes to a private party?
Secret elections are created by contracting with a private party to run the elections. McHenry County has its own Data Processing Department that could run the vote tabulating PCs. However, if the running of elections was a public function, information about the election software, equipment and procedures would be subject to Freedom of Information requests. Because elections are run privately, the State Board of Elections and the County Clerk claim they aren’t permitted to a) answer questions about the vendor’s system and b) examine any of the software because that software is proprietary. They claim all of the software on the computer systems (even Microsoft DOS) is proprietary, even the display of the computer program listing (which happens to show when programs were last changed).
5. List any reason you have to believe our ballots are accurately counted.
6. Have We Lost Our Democracy?
Yes ____ No ____ Not Yet ____