After you have read this valuable page, read the follow up email exchange by clicking here.
Paper Ballots -- Our Last Chance
an email excerpt, and there's a link to the follow up email at the bottom of this page
by Dan Gutenkauf dGutenkauf@msn.com , with Victoria Collier (her website is www.votescam.com)
(Votefraud.org Editor's Introduction: We are walking here into the middle of an email exchange which began in late September 2003 between what I would call the "Computerized vs. Honest Elections" Luminaries --- on October 1, 2003, Victoria Collier, daughter of legendary votefraud investigator James Collier -- and a powerful force in her own right, weighed in to the discussion. And then Dan Gutenkauf, the careful and persistent crusader for honest elections, whose groundbreaking research fills in many pieces of the puzzle, addressed the cyber group. Below is a selective part of the entire discussion, but very important and instructive. Both Victoria and Dan attended the Citizens for a Fair Vote Count Convention in August 2000 at the Greater Cincinnati Ramada Inn Airport, and both addressed the gathering.)
The first section is from Victoria Collier email@example.com
This is Victoria Collier (in case my name doesn't appear in full in your Inbox). I've been watching the flow of emails on the issue of vote reform and if you don't mind I'd like to get in on the discussion.
I am currently writing an article about the history of election fraud and the issue of paper ballots vs. computers. I'd like your inputs now, on a few points, before I finish it in the next few days.
I agree with Lynn Landes (ecotalk.org) on the issue of paper ballots. I believe they are the only acceptable system for counting our votes. It is the position my father and uncle (James and Kenneth Collier, authors of "Votescam: The Stealing of America) always took, and they felt strongly about it.
The next section is from Dan Gutenkauf dGutenkauf@msn.com
Hi Victoria, nice to hear from you.
(Is it okay if I call you Vicki?)
For the benefit of other readers of this discussion who may not know me or my history, it was your father's speech here in Arizona in November of 1996 which motivated my brother Dennis and me to become activists in this arena. Jim Collier agreed to testify in our landmark lawsuit against Maricopa County Elections Department, but we were illegally denied our 7th Amendment right to a jury trial in our civil case. (Jim said "Get me a plane ticket, a hotel room, and make sure they leave a mint under the pillow, and I will be there to testify.")
There are several points I would like to make as a result of our experience and research over the last 7 years. I'll summarize the general points and then expand the discussion. Some of the following items are not currently available on the www.votefraud.org website (votefraud.org says: hopefully they are now, or will be soon!), so I am including them in this discussion for that reason. I want to acknowledge Jim Condit Jr. for his generous assistance to me in publishing my legal research since August 2000.
1) "Where the law begins, tyranny ends".
Vote fraud is certainly tyranny, subtle as it may be. We can't easily hold private companies accountable, although we can expose them for their corruption and conflicts of interest. But we can hold our "public servants"/ election officials accountable for proper performance of their mandatory, ministerial duties. I believe that starts with citizens knowing election law and enforcing it when they see it is not being followed.
2) Technology cannot supercede the constitutional and mandatory provisions of election law.
3) There is no way to do a "public count" with computers.
4) MIT/Cal Tech study of 2001 shows that manually counted paper ballots are the most accurate system out of the 5 systems used in the last 4 presidential elections.
5) While I agree that educating the public to be vigilant is important, I think it is more important to educate the decision makers and election administrators. We especially need to educate the Legislators who are crafting new laws, and get them to remove the unconstitutional provisions of the old laws. Our efforts must go beyond education, and be translated into activism.
6) We need to be alert and actively involved in closing other windows of opportunity for vote fraud besides the computer counting issue, namely "mail- in" balloting and "early voting". Oregon is all mail balloting, and Colorado is currently in danger of having precinct voting at the polls eliminated. Arizona is nearly 80% mail in balloting.
7) While I whole heartedly support manually counted paper ballots, I'm not sure if we can eat the whole computer elephant all at once. But we can eat that elephant a bite (or a byte) at a time. I don't see how we can completely overturn election laws that were instituted 30 years ago in a single stroke of a pen overnight. We have to pick our battles and plan the strategy for the war to regain electoral integrity a step at a time.
8) I suggest we have more frequent elections, having separate elections on Propositions, Initiatives and Judges, apart from the candidate elections for office. This would make manual counts less burdensome and would help defeat the arguments of those who say manual counts are too time consuming and insurmountable.
9) To make manual counts of paper ballots more practical, feasible, manageable, and more secure, it must be done at the precinct level, not at central counting headquarters, as was done in Florida 2000. Counting 200 to 500 ballots at a precinct is much more manageable than 10,000 or 100,000 at the central counting center.
10) Besides leaving a verifiable audit trail, paper ballots have the distinct advantage that they don't "break down" and then reverse results when they come back on. With computer vote counting, we have the potential of electrons disappearing into cyberspace, the electronic equivalent of hanging chad. At least the punch cards left an audit trail to follow.
11) Arizona's last election is evidence that vote fraud does not always favor Republicans. In a traditionally conservative state, the 2002 election resulted in the anomaly of electing a Democrat for both Governor and Attorney General, and a Republican for Secretary of State.
Now for more discussion:
It is my belief that it is the constitutional and statutory provisions of election law that are a key element to this common battle we are fighting together to prevent the high tech theft of our vote. My motto is a pro-active paraphrase of the quote on the Arizona Supreme Court building "Where the Law Begins, Tyranny Ends"
Our lawsuit in 1997 was all about the right of the voter to have his ballot properly counted. We discovered a previously unnoticed and unchallenged election law, Arizona Revised Statutes Title16 section 601."The count shall be public, in the presence of bystanders". Our further research of election law showed that similar specific statutory provisions for a public count also exist in most of the other States.
There is simply no way to have a meaningful "public count" when it is done by computer. The computer count is a "secret count". This is totally contrary to our "Australian ballot system" of secret vote, public count.
When I read "Pandora's Black Box" by Dr. Phillip O"Halloran, I realized the strawman argument of "trade secret," which the computer companies effectively conned the courts into validating. My followup legal research shows that the trade secret argument is a bogus.
Case law says:
#1) If there are 3 or more companies offering the same technology it is NOT a "trade secret". (Diebold, E,S, & S, and Sequoia makes 3)
#2) If the technology is patented, it is NOT a "trade secret" That should be easy to verify.
#3) In Arizona, trade secrets are not exempt from inspection as public records. Therefore, the Arizona law prohibiting disclosure of the code which is put in escrow at the Sec. of State's office is unconstitutional. It needs to be challenged in the courts. (Some other States do exempt trade secrets from public records).
But EVEN IF we had "open source code" available for inspection by the general public which is not literate on computer software, don't we still have the problem that, since there is a modem in the computer, it can be remotely accessed and secretly manipulated, without discovery? EVEN IF we could examine and verify that the open source code is kosher, that is no guarantee that it could not be manipulated by an outside source, via laptop computer, cell phone, satellite transmission, etc.
My brother Dennis and I proved that in Maricopa County, Arizona, the "logic and accuracy test" is a sham. When we videotaped the "count" on election night 2000, we discovered that the black memory packs from the computers at each precinct were being plugged into a laptop computer called a "memory pack reader", which was never tested for logic and accuracy a week earlier, when we videotaped the test. Yet, this laptop computer was used to count the memory packs from the optical scanners delivered from each precinct on election night. For a visual analogy, think of plugging an old 8 track tape into a 8 track player.
We confronted the Maricopa County assistant Director of Elections Mitch Etter about this problem during the 2002 Tempe Mayoral Recall election. Mr. Etter confirmed that "there is no legal requirement to test the memory pack reader for logic and accuracy"!!!!! His statement is documented on videotape.
It's kind of like watching the old shell game at the circus, as the huckster does his sleight of hand with the three shells. Which shell has the pea underneath? "Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain".
One of the relevant case laws that I found a few years ago was a case in Colorado, which I think was located in one of the Decentennial Digests. The case law stated something to the effect that the advances in technology do not supercede the mandatory constitutional
provisions of election law.
An Arizona case, Averyt v. Williams. interpreting the Tally of Vote statute ("the count shall be public"), states that "The purpose of election law is to prevent fraud, and to guarantee to the voter the registration and the count of his ballot."
It is not our job as concerned citizen-activists to prove vote fraud by the private companies like Diebold and E.S, S, who have taken over our election process, with no accountability. It is the job of the election officials to show accountability by proving to the citizens that the election laws have been meticulously adhered to, following the prescribed procedure in the Sec. of State's manual. It is their duty to demonstrate that the windows of opportunity for fraud have been closed...to "guarantee" the count of our vote.
Manual counted paper ballots simply are the most accurate of all systems.
While I agree that the public must be educated to be vigilant about the integrity of the vote, I think it is even more important to educate our public officials who are administering our elections. I think we need to educate the decision makers at the Secretary of State's office, the ones who are making the purchasing decisions and signing the contracts that are subverting our right to an honest vote count. We can't expect them to make the right decisions if they only get the slick, one-sided sales pitch from the private computer companies, which give unsubstantiated assurances of security. We need to supply the Sec. of State with the documentation and research of computer experts like Dugger, Mercuri, and Neumann.
While these private computer companies have no accountability to the public, our public servants can be held accountable for their actions. I met with candidate Jan Brewer during the last primary election when she was running for Sec. of State. I gave her a copy of Dr. O'Halloran's article on "Pandora's Black Box", as well as Ronnie Dugger's excellent article from the 1988 "New Yorker". I have also shared Rebecca Mercuri's excellent writings and expertise on the subject. And I have referenced Bev Harris' "Black Box Voting" and Christopher Bollyn's thorough investigations of companies like E,S,& S.
Since Jan Brewer was elected to Secretary of State, I have attended her public forums and continued to give her the latest up- to- date articles on the problems with the Touch Screens and information on the shadowy companies like Diebold and their conflicts of interest. I have met with Mrs. Brewer twice in the last month. I believe it is important to have the ears of the decision makers and to supply facts and credible documentation to support our positions. It is important to build relationships with our "public servants". We catch more flies with honey than with vinegar. We are more persuasive and win more converts to our view when we are armed with documented facts, not theories or personal opinions.
As I read recently and discovered firsthand, Arizona was acknowledged as one of the more cautious and conservative states in its implementation of the "Help Americans Vote Act". Instead of going full steam ahead with all Touch Screens as Georgia has, Sec. of State Jan Brewer ordered only one Touch Screen per precinct, to meet the minimum HAVA requirement for the disabled. That is still one too many Touch Screens for me.
I think we have to be extremely vigilant that the handicapped minority does not inadvertantly subvert the integrity of the system, by becoming a political Trojan Horse manipulated the computer companies. At least with the predominant use of optical scanners in Arizona, there is still a paper audit trail. However, we still have the modem problem, vulnerable to hackers and insider manipulation.
Paper ballots do not break down and reverse results like computers do. That phenomenon happened with the computers in the Buchanan race in Arizona's '96 Presidential Primary, and in John Adkins AZ legislative race in 2000, and reportedly with three elections involving Dick Gephardt in MO.
While our "public servants" have more accountability than private companies, not all public servants in the elections departments are working in our best interest. After agreeing to deliver copies of "Pandora's Black Box" to each of the HAVA board committee members, current State Elections Director Mary Jo Kief sent my envelopes back to me undelivered. However, O'Halloran's article is part of the official record on file with the Sec. of State's office. Thanks to Jim Condit Jr. for supplying me with extra copies of Relevance magazine on numerous occasions, such as the Eagle Forum in St. Louis in 2001.
When our public servants do not work in our best interest, they need to be exposed and held accountable by reporting their malfeasance to the press, as I have done on numerous occasions. We can always take them to the court of public opinion in the media.
I believe we must also educate our public servants in the County Elections Department.
Part of the problem I have witnessed is either incredible
ignorance or deliberate duplicity by election officials. When Rep. Karen Johnson
of Mesa introduced HB 2296 to the Judiciary Committee, the State and County
election officials lined up in lock step to defeat the bill, which would mandate
a manual count at 1% of the precincts selected at random. It was based on
California's existing law.
Yet, County Elections Director Karen Osborne testified falsely that a manual vote count is NEVER accurate!!!!!????? (Even though the MIT/Cal Tech study of 2001 showed that manual counted paper ballots are the most accurate of the 5 systems used in the last 4 years) She testified that it would never work, even though it is currently law in California and Utah.
If we can't get our election officials to support a miniscule 1% manual count, how can we realistically expect to go immediately to 100% manual counts? What I did do was share O'Halloran's article with State Sen. Carolyn Allen, who didn't even know such a bill had been proposed, because it never got out of Judiciary Committee. We need to let the legislators know that certain election officials don't want to take the time and trouble to do their sole duty...to ACCURATELY COUNT THE BALLOTS.
Former State Director of Elections Jessica Funkhouser testified at the same committee hearing that the goal in vote counting is SPEED, not accuracy!!!!!(?????) (Contrary to case law in the Nuccio v Williams case in Florida if I remember correctly) She testified that manually counting ballots would take too long. Yet, in Arizona's last election, the contest for Governor was extended a full week after election day, in order to manually read and duplicate 23,000 double sided mail-in ballots, which were spoiled due to bleed- through ink, which created over-votes, rejected by the computer.
The mail- in ballot problem is of increasing concern to me. In Arizona, nearly 80% of balloting is by early mail in. This opens the door to unverified registered voters who can fraudulently cast a ballot, even if it were accurately counted manually. This problem is now compounded by many States pushing to grant driver's licenses to illegals, who can then register to vote, even though they are not American citizens or state residents.
As far as early voting is concerned, Alabama Judge Glenn Murdock pointed out from a University of Virginia study, "Vote fraud increases EXPONENTIALLY for every day that early voting occurs." Al Kolwicz from Boulder has done tremendous work in the area of actively exposing mail ballot fraud by his efforts with Citizens for Accurate Mail Ballot Election Results (CAMBER).
I think we need a macroscopic view of the multiple windows of opportunity for vote fraud, besides the microscopic view of just the computer issue. I think this necessitates networking with other activists, each of whom has their particular area of expertise: Collier, Condit, Dugger, Gutenkauf, Kolwicz, Mercuri, Neumann, O'Halloran, Weber, etc., etc.,
None of us individually has all the answers, but collectively we do potentially have all the answers, or most of them. We can't all be experts on technology and the law, (although Rebecca Mercuri might come close) . That's why we all need to work together and share our information amongst ourselves, as well as with the legislators and election officials, if we are going to solve this problem. And we have to effectively denigrate the "microwave mentality" of "instant results" and "convenience" that is being sold to the general public. It was not convenient for our forefathers to fight, bleed and die to defend our right to vote.
We certainly are at a critical crossroads of our democratic, Constitutional Republic. Yes, it takes vigilance, and investigation and activism, as Jim Collier did for 25 years, and as Jim Condit Jr. has done for almost 25 years. We have to be engaged in the battle for the long term. There are certainly no quick fixes. We have to take a step at a time... with intelligent activism.
I have admittedly not yet read the Rush Holt bill, but will do so at my earliest convenience Then I can comment with more specificity on that bill. I wanted to get these thoughts expressed first.
I am far from being a computer expert. But I don't have to be, in order to understand the incredible vulnerability of computers. I can rely on the excellent research of the other reputable individuals who do understand the intricacies and vulnerabilities of computers. And I can understand when technology does an end- run around the mandatory provisions of election law, which require that the count shall be public, in the presence of bystanders.
I am clearly convinced that manually counted paper ballots is the only way to go for ultimate confidence and integrity. But I am a pragmatic person and realize that we have a giant hurdle to overcome. I hope there are more glitches like the Florida primary in 2002 with the Touch Screens. I think that errors will continue to manifest themselves. Some of the malfunctions can only be determined by public records requests. But I think a few dedicated actvists can change the paradigm if we persevere and give a proper presentation of our issues.
In the course of taking our lawsuit all the way to the US Supreme Court, only to have our landmark case denied review, Dennis and I experienced much of the same political and judicial resistance by the courts as Jim and Ken did. The federal courts failed to enforce the constitutional and statutory provisions of state election law, thereby relinquishing their duty and perjuring their oaths of office. I am amazed from re-reading Jim and Ken's book, after our lawsuit hit a dead end, at the resilience of Jim to keeping fighting the good fight, in spite of the mountainous corruption that he encountered. Jim was a true hero and champion of honest elections, and his relentless activism set a wonderful example and roadmap for all of us to follow.
After fighting the first 4 years of our battle alone in 1996, I am encouraged by the heightened awareness of the public since Florida 2000. And I am encouraged by the increase in my network of activists who share their info with me, like Al Kolwicz in Boulder, and Susan Marie Weber in California, whose Appeal before the 9th Circuit will have a hearing next week.
I am very pleased, Vicki, that you have followed in the footsteps of your father and are carrying on his legacy. I am glad that I had the opportunity to meet and work with Jim. He left us much too soon. But he certainly left us a wealth of information to draw upon. I hope we can effectively carry the torch that he passed on to all of us. I would guess that he is smiling at some of the discoveries we have made since his passing, in a locale that he had such a keen interest.
Thanks for your email, Vicki, and for soliciting my input. I hope my experience and discoveries are constructive to the discussion.
Citizens for a Fair Vote Count
And Victoria Collier again
However, I believe that no system -- including paper ballots-- can be made safe as long as the public is disinterested in the process. Any reform of our voting process must include a campaign to educate people on the necessity of vigilance over the safety of their count -- our elections must not be left in the hands of a small group of people, no matter what the system.
And we must all understand that the scrutiny
of the major parties -- Dems and Reps -- and the elections establishment, is not
sufficient to prevent fraud. The major parties and the establishment officials
have been rigging elections together for decades. It is mutually beneficial for
both parties to uphold the two-party system, and keep out the independents and
third parties. The ultimate corporate/political goals of the two parties are the same, though they take different stands on issues that are emotional to the public -- like abortion, for instance. This keeps the public polarized and believing that there is some kind of real political life in the country. There is not.
Vote rigging in non-partisan. The right to clean elections belongs to everyone in the country, no matter what their political affiliations. People are waking up to vote fraud for the first time, at what is unquestionably the 11th hour. The Touch-Screen computers are taking over, and please don't believe for a moment that they were built for any purpose but to rig elections. There is no time for naivete of any form, we are literally under attack.
We have the potential to rally the entire country behind the battle to take back our democratic process. This is a historic moment, and maybe our last chance to save
what is left of this nation. Once the playing field is level, then we can start discussing our personal views.
As for the paper ballots:
There must be a multifaceted system of scrutiny.
The hand count must be done in public, video taped, (even aired live on television), and
multiple, citizen controlled, non-partisan watch-dogs groups should inspect every step of the process.
The details can be worked out, but the principle of vigilance is simple and must be adhered to if our elections are to be kept safe.
There is absolutely no way that a voter
can trust a computer. And no reason why they should have to. This is not rocket
science, it's vote counting, and once we recognize that computers are
unnecessary risks to the safety of the election, we can begin to structure a
paper ballot system that is protected from fraud on every possible level. If we
our minds to it, the new system could be absolutely air-tight, each vote accounted for with the same accuracy as pennies are accounted for in a bank. This certainly is not beyond us.
As I discuss in my article, the bill proposed by Rush Holt should be scrapped entirely, and a new bill must be proposed for a restoration of a paper
ballot count. If people are hesitant to support it, they must be educated as to why it is necessary. We cannot forfeit the safety of our elections because some people are under the illusion that machines represent "progress." Not in the case of elections, they don't. They represent opportunities for fraud, bought with tax dollars that are better spent almost anywhere else.
This is my position and I'd like to know if anyone disagrees, and why.
---VC ( firstname.lastname@example.org )
End of this email excerpt ---- Read the Follow up exchange by clicking here
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