With Voter Suppression and Unverifiable Electronic Voting, 2016 Election Results Vulnerable to Theft

Posted April 6, 2016

MP3 Interview with Harvey Wasserman, author and activist, conducted by Scott Harris


Since the U.S. 2000 election where Vice President Al Gore won the national popular vote, but lost the White House to George W. Bush after a controversial Supreme Court decision that left thousands of crucial Florida votes uncounted, a growing number of Americans have lost faith in the machinery of U.S. elections. The skepticism only deepened when Robert F. Kennedy Jr., along with election protection activists Harvey Wasserman and Bob Fitrakis presented documentation that accused Republican election officials of employing a wide range of illegal and unethical tactics to fix the 2004 election, where George W. Bush defeated his Democratic challenger Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry. The allegations focused on the state of Ohio and its 18 critical Electoral College votes, where according to reports, at least 357,000 voters – the overwhelming majority of them Democratic – were prevented from casting ballots or did not have their votes counted in 2004.

According to a recent article and forthcoming book by Wasserman and Fitrakis, U.S. elections are vulnerable to partisan dirty tricks using methods they call "strip and flip." Historically, "stripping" has been based on race and centers on voter suppression tactics that includes the purging of minority voters from registration rolls, imposing restrictive voter ID laws and establishing barriers to make voter registration and early voting more difficult for Democratic party-leaning groups such as blacks, Hispanics, youths and the poor. "Flipping" relates to electronic voting machines that are vulnerable to hacking, and have no mechanism to verify vote totals such as a paper trail.

Between The Line's Scott Harris spoke with author and activist Harvey Wasserman, who explains why he's concerned that the results of the 2016 national election could be open to manipulation and outright theft.

HARVEY WASSERMAN: There's one thing and only one thing you need to know about the 2016 election – I've read so many things – but the number one thing about the 2016 election is the reality that 80 percent of the vote in the United States presidential election in 2016 will be cast on electronic voting machines and they are completely unverifiable. There is no system in place in the United States in 2016 to verify the electoral outcome on these machines. Most of these machines were paid for with money that was voted by Congress in 2002, the Help America Vote Act, and as a result, we will be conducting our election in this country – millions of dollars spent all this time, yelling, screaming, debating – but the bottom line is we're conducting this election on machines that are 10 years old. And I don't know anybody who has a personal computer or a cell phone that's 10 years old, or even a desktop.

And these machines are so easily hackable. There was a public demonstration done not long ago where a professor took an electronic voting machine and played PacMan on it. It's ridiculous. There's no accountability on the state level, so that you have a situation in Ohio, Michigan, Illinois, Iowa, Arizona and North Carolina where the governor and the secretary of state are both from the same party and they can at midnight, as was done in Ohio in 2004, simply flip the electronic vote count. And so, the title of our book, which is forthcoming is "Strip and Flip Selection of 2016", because what they're doing is they're "stripping" – and there's a long history of this of course, in the United States – they're stripping the voter rolls mostly of African Americans, Latinos, young people, people suspected of being liberals or progressives so that millions of Americans, literally, are being denied the right to vote. And then if that's not sufficient, then on Election night, which happened in 2004, they just can flip the vote electronically and no one will know the difference.

You know, we get accused of being conspiracy theorists all the time. All you have to do is answer the simple question. Tell us exactly, how will the electronic vote count be verified in 2016. There is no answer. So we're voting in black boxes and governors and secretaries of state in every state will have the capacity to flip the vote count in a matter of about 60 seconds, however they want to do it.

BETWEEN THE LINES: Harvey, I did want to ask you about this proprietary software that powers up these electronic voting systems and machines that are purchased or leased by state government. How is it that state officials of one sort or another or party officials could actually get into the guts of the vote count itself to manipulate the results? What kind of collusion are you alleging between these government and party officials and the companies that manufacture the software for these voting machines?

HARVEY WASSERMAN: Well, they issue contracts to run these elections to the owners of these machines or to companies that specialize in manipulating the nature of the machine. In Ohio 2004, there was a no-bid contract given to a guy named Michael Connell. The electronic machines for the Ohio vote count in 2004 were in the basement of a building in Chattanooga, Tennessee that also has the servers for the Republican National Committee and for Karl Roves' email. And the guy, Michael Connell who was charged with doing the tallying was a long-time Bush family associate, who died mysteriously, by the way, in a single-engine plane crash in 2008 while he was being deposed by us.

States do contract with companies to tally up the vote count, and while there's no public accountability, the governors and secretaries of states are pretty much in charge of operating with the IT companies to the vote count.

BETWEEN THE LINES: Well Harvey, what are some of the important elements that you want our listeners to know about, a sound plan to protect the vote in future elections?

HARVEY WASSERMAN: We advocate universal hand-counted paper ballots – four-day national holiday for voting. Universal automatic registation; registration rolls kept with a paper backup. The polls need to be run by students and elders working at $15 an hour, and we also, of course need to get money out of politics. There has to be restored campaign finance laws. Abolish the Electoral College, for God's sakes. The Electoral College is ridiculous.

For more information, visit Harvey Wasserman's web page at solartopia.org. [Correction: Michael Connell's name was misspelled in a previous version of this transcript.]

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