combined with a proprietary to the voting program data format might have
prevented this from happening..
Published on Saturday, November 6, 2004 by CommonDreams.org
Evidence Mounts That The Vote May Have Been Hacked
by Thom Hartmann
When I spoke with Jeff Fisher this morning (Saturday, November 06,
2004), the Democratic candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives
from Florida's 16th District said he was waiting for the FBI to show up.
Fisher has evidence, he says, not only that the Florida election was
hacked, but of who hacked it and how. And not just this year, he said,
but that these same people had previously hacked the Democratic primary
race in 2002 so that Jeb Bush would not have to run against Janet Reno,
who presented a real threat to Jeb, but instead against Bill McBride,
who Jeb beat.
"It was practice for a national effort," Fisher told me.
And some believe evidence is accumulating that the national effort
happened on November 2, 2004.
The State of Florida, for example, publishes a county-by-county record
of votes cast and people registered to vote by party affiliation. Net
denizen Kathy Dopp compiled the official state information into a table,
available at [url]http://ustogether.org/Florida_Election.htm[/url], and noticed
Florida Secretary of State Presidential Results by County 11/02/2004 (.pdf)
Florida Secretary of State County Registration by Party 2/9/2004 (.pdf)
While the heavily scrutinized touch-screen voting machines seemed to
produce results in which the registered Democrat/Republican ratios
largely matched the Kerry/Bush vote, in Florida's counties using results
from optically scanned paper ballots - fed into a central tabulator PC
and thus vulnerable to hacking – the results seem to contain substantial
In Baker County, for example, with 12,887 registered voters, 69.3% of
them Democrats and 24.3% of them Republicans, the vote was only 2,180
for Kerry and 7,738 for Bush, the opposite of what is seen everywhere
else in the country where registered Democrats largely voted for Kerry.
In Dixie County, with 4,988 registered voters, 77.5% of them Democrats
and a mere 15% registered as Republicans, only 1,959 people voted for
Kerry, but 4,433 voted for Bush.
The pattern repeats over and over again - but only in the counties where
optical scanners were used. Franklin County, 77.3% registered Democrats,
went 58.5% for Bush. Holmes County, 72.7% registered Democrats, went
77.25% for Bush.
Yet in the touch-screen counties, where investigators may have been more
vigorously looking for such anomalies, high percentages of registered
Democrats generally equaled high percentages of votes for Kerry. (I had
earlier reported that county size was a variable – this turns out not to
be the case. Just the use of touch-screens versus optical scanners.)
More visual analysis of the results can be seen at [url]http://us[/url]
[url]www.rubberbug.com/temp/Florida2004chart.htm[/url]. Note the trend line – the
only variable that determines a swing toward Bush was the use of optical
One possible explanation for this is the "Dixiecrat" theory, that in
Florida white voters (particularly the rural ones) have been registered
as Democrats for years, but voting Republican since Reagan. Looking at
the 2000 statistics, also available on Dopp's site, there are similar
anomalies, although the trends are not as strong as in 2004. But some
suggest the 2000 election may have been questionable in Florida, too.
One of the people involved in Dopp's analysis noted that it may be
possible to determine the validity of the "rural Democrat" theory by
comparing Florida's white rural counties to those of Pennsylvania,
another swing state but one that went for Kerry, as the exit polls there
predicted. Interestingly, the Pennsylvania analysis, available at
[url]http://ustogether.org/election04/PA_vote_patt.htm[/url], doesn't show the same
kind of swings as does Florida, lending credence to the possibility of
problems in Florida.
Even more significantly, Dopp had first run the analysis while filtering
out smaller (rural) counties, and still found that the only variable
that accounted for a swing toward Republican voting was the use of
optical-scan machines, whereas counties with touch-screen machines
generally didn't swing - regardless of size.
Others offer similar insights, based on other data. A professor at the
University of Massachusetts, Amherst, noted that in Florida the vote to
raise the minimum wage was approved by 72%, although Kerry got 48%. "The
correlation between voting for the minimum wage increase and voting for
Kerry isn't likely to be perfect," he noted, "but one would normally
expect that the gap - of 1.5 million votes - to be far smaller than it was."
While all of this may or may not be evidence of vote tampering, it again
brings the nation back to the question of why several states using
electronic voting machines or scanners programmed by private, for-profit
corporations and often connected to modems produced votes inconsistent
with exit poll numbers.
Those exit poll results have been a problem for reporters ever since
Election night, I'd been doing live election coverage for WDEV, one of
the radio stations that carries my syndicated show, and, just after
midnight, during the 12:20 a.m. Associated Press Radio News feed, I was
startled to hear the reporter detail how Karen Hughes had earlier sat
George W. Bush down to inform him that he'd lost the election. The exit
polls were clear: Kerry was winning in a landslide. "Bush took the news
stoically," noted the AP report.
But then the computers reported something different. In several pivotal
Conservatives see a conspiracy here: They think the exit polls were rigged.
Dick Morris, the infamous political consultant to the first Clinton
campaign who became a Republican consultant and Fox News regular, wrote
an article for The Hill, the publication read by every political junkie
in Washington, DC, in which he made a couple of brilliant points.
"Exit Polls are almost never wrong," Morris wrote. "They eliminate the
two major potential fallacies in survey research by correctly separating
actual voters from those who pretend they will cast ballots but never do
and by substituting actual observation for guesswork in judging the
relative turnout of different parts of the state."
He added: "So, according to ABC-TVs exit polls, for example, Kerry was
slated to carry Florida, Ohio, New Mexico, Colorado, Nevada, and Iowa,
all of which Bush carried. The only swing state the network had going to
Bush was West Virginia, which the president won by 10 points."
Yet a few hours after the exit polls were showing a clear Kerry sweep,
as the computerized vote numbers began to come in from the various
states the election was called for Bush.
How could this happen?
On the CNBC TV show "Topic A With Tina Brown," several months ago,
Howard Dean had filled in for Tina Brown as guest host. His guest was
Bev Harris, the Seattle grandmother who started [url]www.blackboxvoting.org[/url]
from her living room. Bev pointed out that regardless of how votes were
tabulated (other than hand counts, only done in odd places like small
towns in Vermont), the real "counting" is done by computers. Be they
Diebold Opti-Scan machines, which read paper ballots filled in by pencil
or ink in the voter's hand, or the scanners that read punch cards, or
the machines that simply record a touch of the screen, in all cases the
final tally is sent to a "central tabulator" machine.
That central tabulator computer is a Windows-based PC.
"In a voting system," Harris explained to Dean on national television,
"you have all the different voting machines at all the different polling
places, sometimes, as in a county like mine, there's a thousand polling
places in a single county. All those machines feed into the one machine
so it can add up all the votes. So, of course, if you were going to do
something you shouldn't to a voting machine, would it be more convenient
to do it to each of the 4000 machines, or just come in here and deal
with all of them at once?"
Dean nodded in rhetorical agreement, and Harris continued. "What
surprises people is that the central tabulator is just a PC, like what
you and I use. It's just a regular computer."
"So," Dean said, "anybody who can hack into a PC can hack into a central
Harris nodded affirmation, and pointed out how Diebold uses a program
called GEMS, which fills the screen of the PC and effectively turns it
into the central tabulator system. "This is the official program that
the County Supervisor sees," she said, pointing to a PC that was sitting
between them loaded with Diebold's software.
Bev then had Dean open the GEMS program to see the results of a test
election. They went to the screen titled "Election Summary Report" and
waited a moment while the PC "adds up all the votes from all the various
precincts," and then saw that in this faux election Howard Dean had 1000
votes, Lex Luthor had 500, and Tiger Woods had none. Dean was winning.
"Of course, you can't tamper with this software," Harris noted. Diebold
wrote a pretty good program.
But, it's running on a Windows PC.
So Harris had Dean close the Diebold GEMS software, go back to the
normal Windows PC desktop, click on the "My Computer" icon, choose
"Local Disk C:," open the folder titled GEMS, and open the sub-folder
"LocalDB" which, Harris noted, "stands for local database, that's where
they keep the votes." Harris then had Dean double-click on a file in
that folder titled "Central Tabulator Votes," which caused the PC to
open the vote count in a database program like Excel.
In the "Sum of the Candidates" row of numbers, she found that in one
precinct Dean had received 800 votes and Lex Luthor had gotten 400.
"Let's just flip those," Harris said, as Dean cut and pasted the numbers
from one cell into the other. "And," she added magnanimously, "let's
give 100 votes to Tiger."
They closed the database, went back into the official GEMS software "the
legitimate way, you're the county supervisor and you're checking on the
progress of your election."
As the screen displayed the official voter tabulation, Harris said, "And
you can see now that Howard Dean has only 500 votes, Lex Luthor has 900,
and Tiger Woods has 100." Dean, the winner, was now the loser.
Harris sat up a bit straighter, smiled, and said, "We just edited an
election, and it took us 90 seconds."
On live national television. (You can see the clip on [url]www.votergate.tv[/url].)
And they had left no tracks whatsoever, Harris said, noting that it
would be nearly impossible for the election software – or a County
election official - to know that the vote database had been altered.
Which brings us back to Morris and those pesky exit polls that had Karen
Hughes telling George W. Bush that he'd lost the election in a landslide.
Morris's conspiracy theory is that the exit polls "were sabotage" to
cause people in the western states to not bother voting for Bush, since
the networks would call the election based on the exit polls for Kerry.
But the networks didn't do that, and had never intended to.
According to congressional candidate Fisher, it makes far more sense
that the exit polls were right - they weren't done on Diebold PCs - and
that the vote itself was hacked.
And not only for the presidential candidate - Jeff Fisher thinks this
hit him and pretty much every other Democratic candidate for national
office in the most-hacked swing states.
So far, the only national "mainstream" media to come close to this story
was Keith Olbermann on his show Friday night, November 5th, when he
noted that it was curious that all the voting machine irregularities so
far uncovered seem to favor Bush. In the meantime, the Washington Post
and other media are now going through single-bullet-theory-like
contortions to explain how the exit polls had failed.
But I agree with Fox's Dick Morris on this one, at least in large part.
Wrapping up his story for The Hill, Morris wrote in his final paragraph,
"This was no mere mistake. Exit polls cannot be as wrong across the
board as they were on election night. I suspect foul play."
Thom Hartmann (thom at thomhartmann.com) is a Project Censored
Award-winning best-selling author and host of a nationally syndicated
daily progressive talk show. [url]www.thomhartmann[/url] .com His most recent books
are "The Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight," "Unequal Protection: The Rise
of Corporate Dominance and the Theft of Human Rights," "We The People: A
Call To Take Back America," and "What Would Jefferson Do?: A Return To