February 13, 2004

Georgia's “Faith-Based” Electronic Voting System: Something's Rotten in the State

Wesley Clark (D-NAT0) did a tremendous amount of good
in the few months he campaigned for the Democratic
nomination. It was Clark's no. #1 booster, Michael
Moore, who put the the BUSH AWOL issue on the front
burner (then Terry McAuliffe turned up the heat)...It
was Clark who dared to say that 9/11 did not have to
happen, it was Clark who said Osama bin Laden should
have been captured by now (and how), it was Clark who
demanded a serious investigation of the Bush cabal
lies that lead to the foolish military adventure in
Iraq...Yes, Clark had both the bonafides and the
courage to raise these red-hot issues on the stump,
thereby injecting into the campaign
itself...Politically, Clark also served a great
purpose: wittingly or coincidentally, he provided
cover for Sen. John Kerry (D-Mekong Delta). Clark's
run forced Sen. Joe Lieberman ("D"-Sanctimonicutt)out
of the race, and kept Southern votes from Sen. John
Edwards, helping Kerry to come in a strong second in
South Carolina and post impressive victories in
Tennessee and Virginia...Now, Clark is going to
endorse Kerry and campaign with him in Wisconsin...As
the LNS has said before, Kerry-Clark is the strongest
ticket. Think about the Electoral College. It all
comes down to the Electoral College. Two factors lead
to Electoral College victory: Myth and Math. If you
sacrifice one for the other, you will lose. Sen. Lloyd
Bentsen provided the math for Dukakis, but there was
no myth and so the math failed...The myth is the
engine that drives the calculator on which the math
adds up...With Kerry-Clark, the Democrats can
challenege the _resident's Expanded Confederacy
Electoral College strategy with a potent combination
of a powerful Myth and some very strong Math...Two
decorated soldiers, one of the them a real combat
hero, the other the Supreme NATO commander victorious
in the Balkans running on SECURITY: National Security,
Economic Security, Environmental Security and Social
Security...Two men who have risked their lives for
their country in Vietnam and are willing to risk it
now in challenging both the Bush cabal and
Al-Qaeda...These two men can run on CHARACTER,
the developing sub-plot, if Cheney is still VICE
_resident)...Yes, Clark underscores the Myth (i.e., a
living, powerful symbol that inspires)of John F.
Kerry, the "Band of Brothers" taking back the White
House from chickenhawks who have BETRAYED the sacred trust, BUT
he also contributes significantly to the Math, because
Clark will provide a comfort zone for Republicans (and
there are many) and Independents (and there are many
more) who want to vote against the _resident. Clark's
greatest detriment in the Democratic primares (other
than his lack of $$$ and organization) was the fact
that he was "new" to the Party and confessed to having
voted for Nixon, Reagan and Poppy. BUT in the general
election this fact is not a detriment to be
downplayed, but a strength to be broadcast widely and
loudly. Yes, Clark will not only deliver Arkansas and
make the ticket competitive in some Southern states,
he will could also add up to the edge in Arizona,
Oklahoma and elsewhere in the Southwest and
West...Sen. John Edwards (D-NC) looks more like
Bentsen to us...He might help with the Math in the
South, but not really in the Southwest or the West,
and more importantly, he does nothing to underscore
the Myth. Indeed, Edwards sounds to us like he is
running in 1992...we are a long way from there...Here,
as a reminder to Sen. Kerry's braintrust and to the
DNC, are the LNS's "seven damn good reasons" for a
Kerry-Clark ticket: 1) Clark, with his credentials as
a decorated Vietnam combatant and
the Supreme NATO Commander, reinforces Kerry's
military record -- two war heroes running against two
chickhawks, 2) Clark will sway Republicans and
Independents, 3) Clark will sway Southerners, 4) Clark
is not a Washington, D.C. politician, he is not a
politician at all, he has not fed at that lobbyists'
trough, 5)Clark has been an outspoken critic and
*expert witness* on the fabrications and
miscalculations leading to the war in Iraq, 6) Clark
has been an outspoken critic and *expert witness* on
the pre-9/11 failure, the post-9/11 coverup and the
bungling of the "war on terrorism," 7)Clark provides
protection for Kerry, if something happened to Kerry,
Clark would carry the mantle and stick it where the
sun has not shone for a long time...
MEANWHILE, speaking of the Math:

Heather Gray, www.commondreams.org: Given the polls
and given the observation of voting patterns in the
state, something seemed inconsistent about these
results. Then many started looking at the new
electronic voting system and questioned its integrity.
Just how vulnerable are Georgia's voters with their
new voting system? Just how vulnerable are Georgia's
voters with no opportunity for a paper trail audit of
their vote? Was race a factor? Was the privatization
of the process a factor? Something just doesn't seem
right! In fact, something seems rotten in the State of

Thwart the Theft of a Second Presidential Election,
Show Up for Democracy in 2004: Defeat Bush (again!)


Published on Thursday, February 12, 2004 by
Georgia's “Faith-Based” Electronic Voting System: Something's Rotten in the State
by Heather Gray

Questions regarding Georgia's 2002 election still
plague many voters in the state. The electoral gifts
to George Bush seemed strange. Georgia's Democratic
Senator Max Cleland’s loss to Republican challenger
Saxby Chambliss coupled with the defeat of Democratic
Governor Roy Barnes to Republican Sonny Purdue, just
didn't sit right with many.

Given the polls and given the observation of voting
patterns in the state, something seemed inconsistent
about these results. Then many started looking at the
new electronic voting system and questioned its
integrity. Just how vulnerable are Georgia's voters
with their new voting system? Just how vulnerable are
Georgia's voters with no opportunity for a paper trail
audit of their vote? Was race a factor? Was the
privatization of the process a factor? Something just
doesn't seem right! In fact, something seems rotten in
the State of Georgia.

In 2002, Georgia purchased electronic voting machines
from the Diebold company in an attempt to improve its
voting system. With this purchase, an erosion of the
State’s electoral accountability became apparent.
Georgia did not insist on a paper trail with the
system. Further, not only did Georgia purchase the
machines from this company, but it also agreed to
protect the proprietary rights of Diebold’s voting
software from the people of Georgia. In other words,
it’s illegal for anyone other than a select few in the
State of Georgia to review the software. Many in
Georgia are wondering where “we the people” were in
this deliberation. Who gave the State of Georgia the
right to sell what belongs to the people. Who gave the
State of Georgia the right to sell its most precious
democratic entity - voting - to a private company?

On January 29 in Atlanta, WRFG-Atlanta (89.3 FM),
People TV, the Independent Media Center and the
National Center for Human Rights Education held a
‘standing room only’ Town Hall meeting on the
controversial issue of electronic voting. Former
Georgia Congresswomen Cynthia McKinney spoke along
with computer experts and advocates. There were
repeated attempts to invite Georgia's Democratic
Secretary of State Cathy Cox, or a representative, to
speak to speak at the forum. She declined the offer.
As the one who oversees Georgia's election process and
also a Gubernatorial hopeful, it was thought she would
like to address Georgians on the issue over a live
broadcast. Not so!

One of the speakers at the event was information
technologist Richard Searcy who referred to Georgia’s
elections as “faith based”. The State of Georgia,
according to Searcy, thinks Georgians should accept
the electronic system on faith without audit, without
overview by the people of Georgia, and certainly
without looking adequately at the system’s software.
He also stunned the audience by showing them a Diebold
brochure with Georgia’s Cathy Cox prominently

Another panelist at the Town Hall meeting was computer
expert Roxanne Jekot of Count the Vote.Org. Jekot said
she “was proud of Georgia, even on election night,
that the computerized system had been installed and
that we were the first in the nation. Then I started
to question the results. I kept saying, at first, that
there were printers inside the machine and we can
print it all out - there are safeguards...that there
was some kind of printed verified vote that could
confirm the elections results. But later on, I
discovered, through all of my research, that we can’t
get a recount on these machines ...ever. All we can do
is get a reprint and no matter how many times we do
this we’ll get the same results because there is no
paper trail.”

In 2002, gubernatorial candidate Sonny Purdue
campaigned to change the Georgia flag to the previous
flag with the Confederate symbol. Speaking of the
election results, Jekot notes that, “the response from
Ralph Reed (the head of the Christian Coalition and
the Republican Party in Georgia) was that angry white
males went to the polls to support Sonny Purdue on the
flag issue. But if you go to the Secretary of State’s
website and you look at the numbers in the individual
races you can’t make the numbers come up with angry
white male (voters). And then there’s a February study
done (at the University of Georgia) and released in
April 2003 that said the only increase in voters in
Georgia was Black females. Something just doesn’t add
up here.”

The certification of Georgia’s voting machines is
another matter. Jekot states that the machines are
“supposed to be certified at the federal level, as
well as by Georgia’s Secretary of State...For well
over a year,” she said, “we have been requesting
certification documents from Georgia. The response to
that request came from Clifford Tatum of the Legal
Department of the Secretary of State’s office, and he
says, in a letter, that no such document exists in the
Secretary of State’s office.”

But the situation gets worse. When the machines were
first installed in Georgia, Jekot and Searcy refer to
the multiple “patches” placed on them. A patch
replaces or repairs a part of a computer program.
Jekot has talked with Rob Baylor, hired by Diebold, to
assemble and test the machines when they first came to
Georgia. According to Baylor, most of machines didn’t
work and required “patches” taken from the Diebold FTP
site. Different patches were placed on various
machines as directed by representatives at Diebold.

Searcy and Jekot say that if the computer software was
not certified in the first place, the insertion of
multiple uncertified patches further compounds the

The inference above, of course, is the possibility
that Georgia’s machines were manipulated prior to or
during the 2002 elections. When asked whether the
software could be manipulated from afar, Jekot said
“they can be easily manipulated at multiple locations
within the process, not just from afar”. Whether the
machines were manipulated or not, however, the
integrity of the process is in question.

It is possible to have a printer attached to each
voting machine in Georgia to then provide a paper
ballot of each vote so at the very least there can be
a verifiable audit performed after the election. There
are bills now introduced in the Georgia legislature
demanding a paper trail of Georgia’s votes. Some
advocates are suggesting that the count from the
machines should be interim at best and not certified
until there has been a count of the paper ballots.

As Searcy states, “Quite obviously, in Georgia, with
our current system, we cannot depend on the process,
testing, or certification to protect voters from
fraud, machine failure, ‘Trojan Horse’ programming, or
bugs and glitches in the system. Without a paper trail
how can votes be audited? How can there be a recount?
As the Nevada Secretary of State has said, ‘A paper
trail is an intrinsic component of voter confidence’.”

Georgia’s Secretary of State is opposed to any change.
One can only speculate as to why she supposes voters
in the state should support her questionable
leadership on this issue. According to Searcy, “The
public trust is a sacred commodity that must be
protected, but unfortunately, I do not believe that
that trust is being protected or valued here in
Georgia. We can and must insist on better leadership
than what is offered us presently!”

Ralph Reed says that angry white males accounted for
the change in the 2002 vote totals. He might have a
point, though not in terms of the election
demographics, but perhaps other factors should be

The census data might be worth a look! According to
the U.S. Census bureau whites in the state of Georgia
are decreasing relative to an increase of people of
color entering the state. The University of Georgia’s
1996 study on “Georgia’s Population Growth” by Edwin
Jackson is revealing. “For a variety of reasons,
Georgia continues to experience the highest population
growth rate in the South-and one of the highest in the
nation. Between July 1995 and July 1996, Georgia’s net
population grew by 2.0 percent--the highest percentage
growth in the 16-state (and District of Columbia)
Southern region as designated by the Census Bureau.
Moreover, Georgia’s growth rate more than doubled the
national rate of 0.9 percent.”

Who is coming into Georgia? Jackson reports that “The
number of people migrating to Georgia from other
countries--particularly from Mexico and other Latin
American countries--continues to grow....10 percent of
Georgia’s total population growth was accounted for by
international net migration....”

The U.S. Census Bureau’s "American Community Survey
Change Profile 2001-2002" revealed that, compared to
African Americans and the Hispanic population of
Georgia, the population of whites is significantly
decreasing (estimated at 1%) compared to a significant
increase of African Americans (estimated at .3%) and
Latinos (estimated at .6%). The population growth in
the state by people of color is likely to result in a
further decrease in white representation.

Georgia has never had a stellar record on protecting
the voting rights of its citizens. Attempts at
protecting white supremacy in the state have always
been a priority, certainly when it comes to voting and
virtually everything else. Could a decrease in the
white voting power make whites feel threatened?

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has yet to
take a firm stand on the electronic voting system,
nevertheless Laughlin McDonald, Director of the
Southeast ACLU, in his book “A Voting Rights Odyssey:
Black Enfranchisement in Georgia” provides a telling
depiction of Georgia’s history of violations of voting
rights. “While Georgia was not an anomaly” he says,
“no state was more systematic and thorough in its
efforts to deny or limit voting and office holding by
African Americans after the Civil War. It adopted
virtually every one of the traditional ‘expedients’ to
obstruct the exercise of the franchise by blacks,
including literacy and understanding tests, the poll
tax, felony disenfranchisement laws, onerous residency
requirements, cumbersome registration procedures,
voter challenges and purges....And where these
technically legal measures failed to work or were
thought insufficient, the state was more than willing
to resort to fraud and violence in order to smother
black political participation and safeguard white

McDonald continues by saying that after the passage of
the 1965 Voting Rights Act, “Georgia, once again, was
in the forefront of the efforts to block the expansion
of the franchise to blacks. It fought passage of the
Civil Rights Acts of 1957, 1960, and 1964....When the
Voting Rights Act was passed, Georgia immediately
joined a lawsuit brought by South Carolina and asked
the Supreme Court to declare it unconstitutional.”
Could it be that the electronic voting machines are
yet another tactic by the State of Georgia to
disenfranchise people of color and maintain white
supremacy? Increasingly, many in the state would
answer affirmatively to that question.

Finally, with Diebold now controlling Georgia’s voting
system, the State appears to have entered head first
into the destabilization resulting from privatization
of public services which has infuriated people
throughout the world. Many in Georgia are also

It is well known that the World Trade Organization,
largely at the behest of its U.S. multinational
corporations, has been encouraging corporations to
purchase public services including education,
transportation, water, health, and obviously even
voting itself. It’s a new and tragic form of

In response to the purchase of the Ganges River by a
multinational company, the renowned Indian scientist
and activist Vandana Shiva has stated that “Our mother
Ganges is not for sale....Our world is not for sale!”
Shiva says that many Indians are responding like Rosa
Parks who, in Montgomery, Alabama, refused to leave
her bus seat for a white passenger. Parks refused to
comply with the city’s segregation policies requiring
her to sit in the back of the bus. Like Parks, many
Indians are defiant, says Shiva, fed up with the abuse
of multinationals, are no longer accepting or
acknowledging their dictates and are working to
reverse the policies.

Will Georgians do the same with their electoral
system? We’ll see.

For 12 years Ms. Gray has produced "Just Peace" on
WRFG-Atlanta 89.3 FM covering local, regional,
national and international news. She lives in Atlanta
and can be reached at justpeacewrfg@aol.com.

Posted by richard at February 13, 2004 09:56 AM