by Mike DeRosa
VOTER (Voter Opportunity Though Election Reform), a political coalition of minor parties (including the Green, Libertarian, Reform, parties etc.), will begin a major lobbying campaign to demand that all computer voting machines in CT produce a paper trail of the votes counted on electronic voting machines in the 2004 election (bill #388). The coalition recently gave testimony to the co-chairs and to members of the Government & Elections Committee (Rep. O'Rourke and Sen. DeFronzo) of the CT General assembly and will encourage them to support bills that will open the political system and will guarantee the integrity of our elections (No Voter Fraud In CT Act & Make Minor Parties Legal Act).
VOTER will be trying to build alliances with other community groups and civic organizations to move their agenda forward at the CT legislature in 2004.
The VOTER agenda includes making minor parties and independent candidacies truly legal in CT. The two major parties have created over the last hundred years numerous legal obstacles to make it difficult for minor parties to get on the ballot and to remain on the ballot. Last year, VOTER got a permanent ballot access bill unanimously approved by the G & E committee only to have it killed in the last week of the legislature by Speaker of the House Moira Lyons and her associates. VOTER recently got a hearing on bill #123 allowing minor parties permanent ballot access status to any office in CT if they registered 1% of the total number of members of all parties in their party. This bill will also allow permanent ballot access if that minor party got 1% of the vote for Governor in an election. Another bill will address a bizarre ruling by CT Sec. of State Susan Bysiewicz that eliminates minor party “office by office” permanent ballot access every ten years after re-districting (bill #127).
CT Sen. DeFronzo recently heard testimony about the creation of audited voting machines (machines with a voter verified paper trail) that was well attended by various civic groups and individuals interested in keeping CT elections free of electronic voter fraud (bill #388). Internationally known computer voting expert Rebecca Mecuri gave very important testimony to this committee and even won the admiration of many of the Republicans on the G & E committee for her support of a voter verified paper trail for every computer voter machine. Even the Secretary of State of CT supported bill 388. U.S. Congressman Rush Holt has over 100 co-sponsors for an audit trail for electronic voting machine bill (HR 2239) in the U.S. Congress and the Secretaries of State of California, Nevada and Washington all support the idea of a paper trail for every vote cast.
Ninety per cent of all machines sold in the U.S. are manufactured by three companies (ES & S, Diebolt, and Sequoia) and strong Republican Party supporters own all three companies. The President of Diebolt has said publicly that “he will do anything he can to get George W. Bush elected” and he has tried to prevent states from seeking paper verification of votes by saying that it is too difficult and costly to provide this protection. This contrasts sharply with the ability of millions of Diebolt ATM machines to produce endless receipts for ATM users all over the world. Diebolt has also engaged in the legal intimidation of web sites that have posted embarrassing internal e-mail postings of Diebolt online. ES & S (co-owned secretly by Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska) and Sequoia have also engaged in a disinformation and smear campaign against their critics.
Congress last year passed HAVA (“Help America Vote Act”), which has allocated over $3 Billion for the purchase of computer voting machines but has not allocated one dollar for oversight and protections to insure that the codes in these machines are not being tampered with. Under HAVA there is no independent agency, procedure, or independent protocols that will truly check these machines before their use. These voting machine companies take the position that their codes are “proprietary” and cannot be made public or checked by an independent agency or overseen by local election officials using a verifiable computer protocol. This will complete the national campaign to establish the privatization of our elections and the further destruction of public control and oversight of our elections.
Critics say that is needed is a voter verified paper trail. This means that every vote cast on a computer machine will provide the voter with a paper copy of their vote under glass at the voting booth. After the voter approves the paper copy of the vote the ballot will be mechanically pushed into a locked box for further verification of the accuracy of the vote cast.
It should be clear to anyone who has taken the time to examine the voter fraud that took place in Florida (and in other states) in 2000 that similar kinds of dirty tricks will be taking place in 2004. In 2000 in Florida, over 94,000 voters (mostly Afro-American and Latino) were thrown off the registered voter lists illegally (using phony felony lists) by Jeb Bush, Catherine Harris (now in Congress representing FL), and their assistant Clayton Roberts (see Greg Palast’s book: The Best Democracy Money Can By for details). These fraudulent acts resulted in the illegal election of George W. Bush to the U.S. Presidency. The U.S. corporate mass media succeeded in covering up the massive voter fraud in the 2000 election in Florida (except for a few notable exceptions) and continues to refuse to use its enormous resources to report on possible fraud in the coming 2004 election. In 2004 keeping certain voters off the voter rolls using phony felony lists will only be the tip of the iceberg as far as voter fraud is concerned. Many critics see the possible wholesale manipulation of electronic voting machines in critical states as a real possibility.
Mike DeRosa is a co-chair of the Connecticut Green Party.