The Free Press told you so. Since 2000, this newspaper alone in Ohio has warned of the dangers of allowing private partisan for-profit companies to secretly count our votes. Former President Jimmy Carter calls our election system dysfunctional and says we have more of an oligarchy than a democracy in this country.
   The chief reason why the U.S. election system fails to meet any minimum international standard of democracy is its “faith-based voting,” where people “push and pray” and hope their vote gets counted right. But they are usually voting on machines without paper trails.
   Two recent events underscore the factual nature of this massive problem. The Brennan Center for Justice’s 2015 report entitled “America’s Voting Machines At Risk” is one of the best current compilation dissecting the vulnerabilities of our computer voting machines.
   Also recently in the news in Bloody Kansas, a Wichita State University statistician Beth Clarkson is battling Sedgwick County election officials to open voting records from the electronic voting machines used in the last election. Clarkson, the chief statistician for the University’s National Institute for Aviation Research has found “statistical anomalies” favoring Republicans in vote counts coming from large county precincts. Similar anomalies turned up after Ohio’s 2004 election in both Mahoning and Miami Counties. A 17-page report by the Free Press documented the cyber creation of votes in Miami County.
   Clarkson, a voting rights activist, was simply trying to confirm or refute findings from other mathematicians
   I bit Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted by suing him in both federal and state courts on Election Day 2012. The Brennan Study could have aided my case. The study quotes Husted as follows: “…machines are aging, they need maintenance and, at some point, will need to be replaced. The next time we go to the polls to elect a president, these machines will be 12 years old. That’s a lifetime when it comes to technology.” That is not exactly what he said in court in 2012 when he used “secret” experimental software patches on voting central tabulators in 39 counties.
   The Brennan Report cited nine states, including Ohio, for having “documented calibration errors” in the past two federal elections. One might wonder what is considered a calibration error. It is popularly known as “vote flipping.” You vote for, say, John Kerry, and the vote is recorded for George W. Bush.
   Ohio’s 88 counties ae plagued with antiquated voting machines that are costly to maintain and easy to hack. New solutions like internet voting have even more security issues. Shockingly, study after study finds that paper ballots are the safest and least vulnerable voting system. With electronic voting you can swing an election with a stroke of a keyboard.
   The Brennan Report documents that Allen County, Ohio’s voting system still uses “Zip Disks” for its central tabulators. In 2004, central tabulators were accused of making several errors that favored Bush. On Election night in Ohio, Bush was declared the winner by 138,500 votes. Just by cleaning up obviously erroneous computer errors and conducting a limited 3% recount lowered that number by more than 20,000 votes.
   Even a more dangerous event occurred in 2004 when Ohio allowed private contractors to run the election out of then-Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell’s office and the winning vote tally was supplied by the partisan Republican company Smartech based in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
   Ohio is also singled out in the Report with six other states for admitting that it uses voting systems that “rely on outdated software.” In Hamilton County, which made national news in 2012 when friends of Romney in the Bain Company were revealed to be owners of the Hart Intercivic voting machines, used in that county. Hamilton County Director of Elections Sherry Poland admits to keeping a “war chest of obsolete hardware to keep her system running.” And what a system it is. Hart Intercivic machines fails all 12 vital areas of computer security and is thought to be the easiest system to hack, according former Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner’s Everest Study. Hamilton County plans to use these easily hacked computers through the 2018 elections.
   A hopeful, but bizarre part of the Report centers around Franklin County Board of Elections Director William Anthony who is on record endorsing “publicly owned systems” like in Los Angeles. These tend to use open-source software and actual paper ballots that are marked and scanned. By eliminating the private, for-profit partisan corporations from owning the voting systems, using secret software and having no paper trail to audit has been a demand of the Free Press and the voting rights movement since the year 2000.
   Meanwhile back in Kansas, Beth and her little dog Toto have ripped open the curtain on the great and powerful Oz of election fraud. As Clarkson points out “This is not just an anomaly that occurs in one place, it is a pattern that has occurred repeatedly in elections across the United States.” She cites a trend where Republicans get an unexplained jump in votes once a precinct reaches roughly 500 votes.
   Can you say computer algorithm? What next are we going to be shocked by – that computer programmers could program election results?
   The electronic hardware and software were developed initially by friends of George H. W. Bush and the CIA. To think that hackers can get into the Pentagon but somehow would be stymied from hacking into election software is a fool’s belief. We need to vote on paper in the next presidential election.

Appears in Issue: