February 29, 2004

Three times while he was there, he says, Diebold, the voting machine manufacturer, sent "patches" updates in the programming to be installed on the machines. Later, he says, he heard of a fourth.

What were the patches for? And were they applied? And where? By whom? A real newspaper would demand answers. The NYTwits would have 20 years ago...Lo and behold, the NYTwits have run an article on the suspicions that swirl around the "defeat" of Max Cleland (D-GA), the "victory" of Chuck Hagel (R-NE) and the Diebolic scheme itself. Today is Feb. 29th. Yes, it's Leap Year. It only happens every few years. The problem is that we cannot wait until the next Leap Year for some serious investigative reporting. In 2000, NYTwits failed their responsibility to the Truth and to the US electorate, and they continue to be complicit despite sanctimonious editorials and occassional pieces crafted to give them cover ("Oh, we looked at that...") For the facts, go to www.blackboxvoting.com...That's what Paul Krugman had to do. He knew better than to rely on the NYTwit news room. Paper of record? No, Paper of Revision.

Adam Cohen, New York Times: Three times while he was there, he says, Diebold, the voting machine manufacturer, sent "patches" updates in the programming to be installed on the machines. Later, he says, he heard of a fourth.

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


The Results Are in and the Winner Is . . . or Maybe

Published: February 29, 2004


Rob Behler isn't saying Max Cleland's Senate seat was
stolen by rigged electronic voting machines, but he
insists it could have been. Mr. Behler, who helped
prepare Georgia's machines for the 2002 election, says
secret computer codes were installed late in the
process. Votes "could have been manipulated," he says,
and the election thrown to the Republican, Saxby

Charlie Matulka, who lost to Senator Chuck Hagel of
Nebraska the same year, does not trust the results in
his election. Most of the votes were cast on paper
ballots that were scanned into computerized
vote-counting machines, which happen to have been
manufactured by a company Mr. Hagel used to run. Mr.
Matulka, suspicious of Senator Hagel's ties to the
voting machine company, demanded a hand recount of the
paper ballots. Nebraska law did not allow it, he was
informed. "This is the stealing of our democracy," he

Defeated candidates who think they were robbed are
nothing new in American politics. But modern
technology is creating a whole new generation of
conspiracy theories easy to imagine and, unless
we're careful, impossible to disprove. The nation is
rushing to adopt electronic voting, but there is a
disturbing amount of evidence that, at least in its
current form, it is overly vulnerable to electoral

Among the growing ranks of electronic-voting skeptics,
Mr. Cleland's loss in 2002 and Mr. Hagel's wins in
1996 and 2002 have taken on mythic status. There is no
evidence the wrong man is in the Senate today. The
problem is, there is no way to prove the right man was
elected, either.

Mr. Cleland's loss was, some say, a surprise. He was
said to be leading in the polls before Election Day,
but ended up losing decisively. Many political
observers attribute his loss to President Bush's
strong support for Mr. Chambliss, and attack ads
picturing Senator Cleland with Osama bin Laden. But
others are suspicious of the new voting machines in

In the summer of 2002, Mr. Behler was in a Georgia
warehouse, helping prepare thousands of machines for
the coming election. He says there were constant
problems with the hardware and software, and growing
pressure as the election drew near.

Three times while he was there, he says, Diebold, the
voting machine manufacturer, sent "patches" updates
in the programming to be installed on the machines.
Later, he says, he heard of a fourth. Bev Harris, an
electronic-voting critic who runs
www.blackboxvoting.org and is a controversial figure
in the elections world, says there were eight. Diebold
and Georgia insist there was only one patch, which
Diebold says was added "prior to the election, but not
last minute."

The Georgia machines do not produce a paper record
voters can inspect to ensure a vote was correctly
cast. But Georgia says they go through three testing
levels, including an outside body that certifies the
software. When patches are added late, however, there
may not be time for certifying them. Georgia officials
concede the one patch they admit to was given only a
partial examination by an outside certifying body.

Ms. Harris argues the patches could have turned
Cleland votes into Chambliss votes. "You can put in
dynamic files that self-destruct after the election,"
she says. "There would be no evidence."

A final piece of the conspiracy theory is that
Diebold's chief executive is an active Republican
fund-raiser. It was probably inevitable that given all
the elements late changes, an end run around the
vetting process, a manufacturer with political ties,
and a surprising outcome there would be suspicions
about the results.

Some of the same factors were present in Nebraska. In
his primary race in 1996, Mr. Hagel, who had lived in
Virginia for 20 years, beat the state attorney general
by nearly two to one. In the general election, he
defeated the governor, who had been elected two years
earlier in a landslide. In 2002, against Mr. Matulka,
he won more than 80 percent of the vote.

What gets conspiracy theorists excited is not just Mr.
Hagel's prodigious wins, but his job before jumping
into the 1996 race: heading American Information
Systems, the manufacturer of the machines that count
85 percent of Nebraska's votes. There is a much
simpler explanation than electronic sabotage. Mr.
Hagel's campaign in 1996 was widely regarded as
stronger than his rivals' campaigns. His next
opponent, Mr. Matulka, an unemployed construction
worker, was a weak candidate. But when critics like
Ms. Harris argue these machines could have been
programmed to miscount, the state should be able to
come back with irrefutable evidence they were not.

A healthy democracy must avoid even the appearance of
corruption. The Georgia and Nebraska elections fail
this test. Once voting software is certified, it
should not be changed not eight times, not once. A
backup voting method should be available, so if
electronic machines fail or are compromised shortly
before an election, they can be dropped.

Votes must be counted by people universally perceived
as impartial. States should not buy machines from
companies that have ties to political parties, and
recent company executives should not be running for
elections on those machines.

And every voter should see a paper receipt. This
"voter-verified paper trail" should be retained, and
made available for recounts a low-tech check on the
reliability of electronic voting. Most Americans would
not do business with a bank that refused to provide
written statements or A.T.M. receipts. We should be no
less demanding at the polls.

After all, as Tom Stoppard has observed, "It's not the
voting that's democracy, it's the counting."

Posted by richard at February 29, 2004 08:12 PM