Person voting on paper

Looking over the shoulder of a US voter (Texas ballot), photo by Lars Plougmann from London, United Kingdom


The Project focuses on the prevention and deterrence of vote tampering via corrupted election machine software.

In 1787, when he left Independence Hall in Philadelphia at the close of the Constitutional Convention, Benjamin Franklin was asked whether we had a republic or a monarchy. He responded: “A republic, if you can keep it.”

The United States Department of State observes elections around the world with international election observers. After a foreign election, the State Department either certifies the election was a free and fair election or refuses to make such a certification.

After our November 2016 Presidential election, an international election observer wrote an article stating that if the election had occurred abroad, our State Department would have refused to certify the 2016 election was free and fair. Why? Because the official results were far outside the margin of error (MOE) of the unadjusted exit poll results. Similar results outside the MOE were certified in three different Senate races (MO, PA, WI) during the 2016 election which gave the Republicans control of the U.S. Senate.  

The laws of statistics do not change at the United States border.

There is a substantial probability that there was tampering with the ballots and/or the vote count between the time the ballots were marked and the time the result was certified. The responsible person or persons are unknown and again free to reverse the choice the people make when they cast their votes to determine how our Republic will be governed. 

As shown in the graphs at the end of this document, the unadjusted exit polls establish that the official Presidential (and Senate) results were unlikely to occur by chance. The most likely way for tampering to occur is to alter the election machine software that counts the votes. While so-called logic and accuracy tests check some or all of the machines in a state before the election, qualified computer experts, as part of a study commissioned by the California Secretary of State, formally reported in 2007 that “Logic and accuracy testing provides little defense against software-based attacks. Malicious software running on the machines can detect whether officials are performing logic and accuracy tests and can force the machine to behave normally until the testing completes.”

So how does this work? The vote counting machines produce a poll tape which is supposed to list the vote totals on the ballots counted by the machine. Each ballot is rarely, if ever, checked prior to certification of the results to determine whether the poll tape accurately states the way the ballots were marked.

The seven Battleground States in which the Election Software Project of the Columbus Institute for Contemporary Journalism (CICJ) plans to operate are AZ, FL, MI, NC, OH, PA, and WI. In these seven states, ballots are not all re-counted by hand as a matter of course. Thus, with very little fear of detection, the software can be altered to produce poll tapes that do not accurately report how the voters cast their ballots. The absence of this check on the software is public knowledge, freely available to the software programmers, and anyone who wants to steal an election by altering the machine software.   

How can a theft of the Presidency and the Senate be deterred or prevented?

No civil action contesting the official results can be filed in court until the state results are officially certified. This certification occurs on various dates from about November 24 to December 8, the safe harbor date for a state to certify its Presidential electors. The Electoral College votes on December 14. 

In the event oftampering and theft of the election, what is the probability of a successful outcome for the losing Presidential and Vice-Presidential candidates if they file for a contest or recount on November 24? Howdo they gather the information necessary to prove a theft to the satisfaction of a state trial court, appellate court, supreme court, and the United States Supreme Court in 20 days (November 24 to December 14) of which 4 days (November 26-29) are devoted to Thanksgiving?

Almost no prospect of success exists if they start involving the courts on November 24.

Earlier action, however, can deter and/or prevent deliberate tampering with the vote count.

Document and information gathering is essential from now through Election Day by properly directed, well-trained, technically competent people working in the Battleground States with the staff of each of the 492 county boards of election (BOE) plus 1,897 municipalities in WI. The CICJ team delivered document requests to every BOE in the seven Battleground States and is receiving and analyzing responsive documents.

By about 6 or 7 hours after the first polls closed on Election Day in 2004 and 2016, it was clear from the unadjusted exit polls that the Presidency was potentially being stolen. By about 1:00 a.m. on November 4, 2020 (perhaps somewhat later due to expected high levels of absentee voting), it may be clear, if exit poll data is released as in the past, whether the difference between the unadjusted exit polls [DW1] and the then reported unofficial results indicates a theft may be in progress.

What can be done on November 4, aside from waiting until the official results are certified weeks later?

If the necessary information and documents have been gathered, the reasonable approach is to appear in an appropriate court and move for immediate depositions of the software programmers and coders and additional document production. CICJ has already enabled this process in every county in all seven Battleground States.

Our plan provides an efficient, detailed description of how we can prevent and/or deter such tampering in November.

Update for Jan. 5, 2021 elections of two U.S. Senators from Georgia:

In Georgia, the CICJ Election Software Project has enabled its standard process by delivering document requests to Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and the election supervisor in each of Georgia’s 159 counties. The Project will be prepared to proceed in court if necessary after the January 5 elections.

The Problem

Votes are probably not being counted as cast. Previous election results may have been changed to gain the Presidency and control of the U.S. Senate.

·   2004:  The outcome of the Presidential election may have been changed by illegal tampering with the votes resulting in lifetime tenure on the U.S. Supreme Court for Chief Justice John Roberts and Associate Justice Samuel Alito.

·   2016:  The evidence indicates the winner of the Presidency and control of the U.S. Senate may have been determined by illegal tampering with the votes resulting in lifetime tenure on the U.S. Supreme Court for Associate Justices Neal Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh. 

·   2020:  Unless the people or a candidate take steps actually designed to protect the election, the people may well see their right to control their government and their Republic stolen and given to someone else.

The Opportunity

Focus on the Battleground States that will determine the November election.

·   Key Battleground States:  Arizona, Florida, Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.

Our Solution

Combine State and County-level staff working with local attorneys and groups to set up deterrence mechanisms and prepare for any required post-election proceedings.

·   Compliance with Law:  CICJ’s goal is to have an election in compliance with the applicable law. To that end, the Project will inquire about the details of election administration in particular with respect to software which counts votes or marks votes on paper. In the event of a conflict between the law and the manner in which a BOE is conducting the election, we will ask the BOE to conform their conduct to the requirements of law.

If the BOE complies promptly, the Project will continue to monitor the situation. If the BOE does not comply, the Project will ask a court to require compliance. The Project will provide relevant data for publication in articles by The Columbus Free Press (a newspaper published by CICJ) and advise local groups as they act to obtain compliance with the law by the civil servants the people pay to conduct elections in accord with the law.

·   Local Attorneys:  In the event a pre-election court order is needed with respect to document production or compliance with the laws governing election administration, appropriate members of the team (in general, the State Directors and the National Director) will locate and retain attorneys to provide representation. Pre-election litigation will also educate the judges involved about the issues and the election technology. The judges will probably retain jurisdiction for post-election matters.

·   Post-Election Litigation Preparation:  By obtaining documentation and information from Boards of Elections, staff will also indirectly notify the election machine software programmers and any contracting companies that (on the morning after the election if one or more apparent thefts of a state’s electoral votes are identified) CICJ will be supporting appropriate applications for one or more court orders. The court orders requested are expected to seekdepositions of the programmers and their companies as well as production of certain documents. 

Our Plans

The Project seeks to have the election conducted in compliance with Federal and State law so the votes are counted as cast.

Our plan creates a structure that will adapt to the needs and issues of each Battleground State while focusing on the most vulnerable and critical part of the election process:  the election machine software which counts the votes. As noted,most states have no regular process for comparing all the paper ballots scanned by the machines to the paper tape produced by the machines until a recount or contest is started weeks after the election. Even then, the recount may involve no more than running the ballots through the same machines used during the election, as opposed to an inspection by a person of both sides of each ballot.

Thus, the single point of greatest weakness is the ballot counting, marking, and creating software. The programmer or coder may be a county BOE employee or someone who is not even in the state but is many states away programming the machines or coding under contract with the local BOE. In order to deter and prevent any tampering with that programming or coding, our State and County staff will:

·   Ask questions of, and seek public documents from, State and County Boards of Election to determine who programs the machines, who has access to the computers on which the software is programmed or coding occurs, how the software makes its way from the computer where it is programmed (or coded) to the machine where it is used, and how the machines are handled. This is vital for post-election litigation.

·   Gather documents that establish who had access to the computers, the software, and the machines whether through remote connection or physical contact.

·   Focus on confirming, or obtaining, compliance by each BOE with existing law.

·   Seek court assistance, when necessary, to require compliance with the law.

·   Prepare for immediate post-election litigation by voters where allowed (AZ, FL, NC, PA) to protect the election based on the information gathered.

·   In the event of an apparent election theft, prepare articles for publication by The Columbus Free Press based on information gathered before the election which indicates means by which such theft was facilitated in any Battleground State.

The Project uses the structure shown below.

·   National Director:  The National Director coordinates the activities in the various states with the State Directors and provides a national perspective including remaining informed about relevant issues in other states and providing this perspective to the State Directors and, when appropriate, the entire team.

o   The National Director is Peter Peckarsky, Esq., an MIT graduate (S.B. Electrical Engineering), contestants’ lead trial counsel in Moss v. Bush,  the contest of the 2004 Presidential election in Ohio, one of the lawyers representing Dr. Jill Stein during the recounts in 2016, and a candidate for Chair of the Democratic National Committee in 2017, who has actively participated in election protection activities in many states.  

·   State Directors:  Each Battleground State will have a Director who will recruit, train and guide County Staff (a number of whom have already been identified) as they implement the plan in their localities. The State Directors will also assist state and local groups with their activities related to the Project’s goals. The State Directors include:

o   The North Carolina State Director is Rev. Dr. T. Anthony Spearman, President North Carolina State Conference of the National Association For The Advancement of Colored People, who is a member of the Board of Elections in Guilford County, North Carolina.

o   The Ohio State Director is Dr. Robert J. Fitrakis, a member of the legal team in Moss v. Bush, and one of the lawyers representing Dr. Jill Stein during the recounts in 2016, is a professor of Political Science at Columbus State Community College, a Director of CICJ, and the author of many books including “What Happened In Ohio?: A Documentary Record of Theft and Fraud in the 2004 Election.”

o   The Pennsylvania State Director is Cynthia L. Butler, Esq., the founding and principal attorney of Butler Law and Consulting, a Pennsylvania native currently based in Washington, D.C., and a member of the legal team representing contestants in Moss v. Bush,  who has practiced law across several of the United States for over thirty years and has participated in election protection and poll monitoring activities in Philadelphia.

·   County Staff:  One person will be assigned multiple counties which has been CICJ’s long-standing and well-developed practice. The County staff (each of whom will be responsible for a number of counties and, in WI, municipalities) will gather information and documents from the BOEs, develop relationships with the BOE personnel, and assist local groups, as time permits, with their activities related to the Project’s goals.

·   Attorneys:  Local attorneys will be enlisted, pro bono if possible, to assist County Staff with document requests, obtaining court orders related to document production, encouraging BOE compliance with the law,  and addressing in court instances of non-compliance with the substantive election law before the election and, if necessary, after (to protect future elections). As needed, we will seek representation for any issue of election administration affecting the entire state. Our attorneys have been working on various issues in certain states for a number of months.

·   Data Director:  A computer professional with many years of experience creating, managing, and using databases will be the Data Director. He will work with the National and State Directors to provide access to the entire team to information and documents gathered from the counties and municipalities.

o   The Data Director is Robert Marx of Wisconsin who provided Chief Information Officer services for multiple Midwest companies. He has 30 years of experience managing computerized databases.

·   Technical Advisors:  Two Professors of Computer Science at separate universities who have studied election machines and related technology for many years and other experienced professionals who will provide real-time guidance on software, programming, hardware, internet communications, wireless communications, and other technical issues as they arise. The technical advisors include:

o   Prof. Duncan A. Buell, of the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at the University of South Carolina where his research areas include electronic voting systems, is Vice Chair of the Board of Voter Registration and Elections in Richland County, South Carolina.  

o   Prof. Dan Wallach, who is in the Departments of Computer Science and Electrical and Computer Engineering at Rice University where his research areas include electronic voting systems security and cybersecurity.

o   Andrew Lewis, Esq., formerly senior staff at the Legal Services Corporation, has been actively involved in Wisconsin election protection activities including testing and evaluating voting machines for 20+ years and a consultant on networked computer systems, telecommunications, and e-commerce for many large companies in a wide range of industries. He is also a co-founder of the Indiana Center on Law and Poverty.

·   Local Voter Protection Groups:  A key component of this plan is to coordinate with interested local groups to encourage local Boards of Election to comply with the law. 

Target Outcome

Our plan seeks to provide a free and fair election in November by focusing upfront on deterrence and prevention as described above and having a post-election plan ready, if needed. One of several key contributions to any post-election activity will be the identification before the election of those who had authorized access to the software. 


CICJ is a long-established and successful 501(c)(3) organization which has been active in the election protection space for many years.

The total project cost is $1.6 million through November 3 to cover salaries for about 100 staff members, legal support and expenses, travel, IT support, board of election commission search and copying fees, and miscellaneous expenses.


This plan which will require a dedicated team working many hours can be implemented before Election Day in the Battleground States. With your help, we can continue the work already started in the states most in danger of tampering. This November election will decide the fate of the United States for years to come. It is vital that the outcome reflects the votes that were cast. There will be no do overs.


John Brakey of Arizona is a Director of Audit Elections (Americans United for Democracy, Integrity and Transparency in Elections).

Jack Jacobson of Wisconsin has been actively involved in Democratic GOTV efforts for many years and, starting in 2004, in election protection efforts for every election in Wisconsin including the State Supreme Court and other federal and state offices.  He managed a campaign for a candidate for Chair of the Democratic National Committee in 2017.

Bob Mulholland of California is a Vietnam Veteran through his service in the U.S. Army; he was an elected member of the Democratic National Committee from 1992 to August 2020 and a Campaign Advisor to the California Democratic Party from 1991 to 2010.

Dr. Jonathan Simon of California, a lawyer and former Executive Director from 2006 to 2016 of the Election Defense Alliance, is the author of “CODE RED: Computerized Elections and the War on American Democracy.”

Harvey Wasserman of Ohio is an organizer of the Grassroots Emergency Election Protection Coalition and an author of many books including “THE STRIP AND FLIP DISASTER OF AMERICA’S STOLEN ELECTIONS”.


You can support this Project and participate in this effort to protect the election and the essence of our country - government by the people.

The CICJ donation page is here:  After completing an electronic donation, please send an e-mail to Dr. Robert Fitrakis, a CICJ director, at stating your name and the amount of the donation to be credited to the account of the "Election Software Project."  When donating by check, please write "Election Software Project" on the memo line of the check.

 [DW1]In the United States, an adjusted exit poll is created by the exit pollsters after the polls have been closed for several hours. The adjustments from the unadjusted exit poll to the adjusted exit poll are based on the assumption that the reported results “must” accurately reflect how the ballots were cast. The State Department does not make this assumption anywhere else in the world. Whether or not intended, in the U.S. the adjusted exit poll serves to obscure the meaning of the unadjusted exit poll when it is compared with an official vote count outside the margin of error of the unadjusted exit poll. The meaning is that the official vote count does not accurately state how the voters voted. In foreign nations, when a party which is seeking election pays for all versions of an exit poll (unadjusted and adjusted), the party is free to obtain an adjusted exit poll which more closely matches the reported vote count than does the original unadjusted exit poll. The State Department does not pay for an adjusted exit poll given that the State Department pays for one exit poll per foreign country observed for the purpose of checking on the officially reported results and not for the purpose of legitimizing an inaccurate vote count.