15 May 17
e have no evidence at this point that the Russians, or global hackers, hacked our electronic voting machines to put Donald Trump in the White House.
But we are 100% certain our electronic voting machines have been hacked by many many others, and could be in the future by virtually anybody with entry-level computing capabilities. As the New York Times and others have reported, cyberattacks have now become an integral part of the modern landscape. A tool stolen from the very National Security Agency meant to protect us has been used to perpetrate more than 75,000 recent hacks—-and those are just the ones being reported.
The evidence that our electronics-based election system is particularly vulnerable to such attacks has long been well-established. It ranges from a wide range of public vote flipping demonstrations to a computing professor using a voting machine to play the University of Michigan fight song.
But, why would you need to hack the machines if you are one of the private, for-profit partisan corporations that secretly program the computerized voting machines and tabulators with secret proprietary software? The lack of transparency with our “black box voting” means that none of our elections are truly verifiable.
In 2016 some 80 percent of America’s ballots were cast and/or counted on such machines and tabulators. Many touchscreen voting machines provide no usable paper trail and render vote counts that cannot be independently verified. Scanners of paper ballots can be rigged to render dishonest counts that go undetected if the ballots are never manually audited.
Though we have no evidence of Russian hacking on our electronic voting machines in 2016, there is no doubt that they or any other hacker with an interest in the outcome could have done so if they wanted to.
Or, the private companies could have simply programmed the results
So that leaves us with one inescapable conclusion: to protect the integrity of our future elections, our entire electoral system must convert to universal hand-counted paper ballots.
It has become an issue of national security.
The entire nation is now in an uproar over Donald Trump’s firing of FBI Director James Comey. We know he was investigating possible Russian involvement in our election. The Russians clearly wanted Trump to win.
During the campaign, Trump very publicly asked the Russians to hack Hillary Clinton’s emails. The Russians did, in fact, hack the Democratic National Committee, releasing documentation showing the DNC hierarchy worked actively against the nomination of Bernie Sanders.
We don’t yet know what else the Russians actually did or did not do, if anything, to help shape our choice of presidents in 2016.
We know further that someone hacked into the recent French elections on behalf of Marine LePen.
In an electronic era, election theft has now become a matter of a few keystrokes.
Indeed, election theft in the United States is very much a home-grown industry. As we explain in our new STRIP & FLIP DISASTER OF AMERICA’S STOLEN ELECTIONS (www.freepress.org / www.solartopia.org) electronic machines are perfectly designed to steal elections. As Bev Harris has shown, they are black boxes that give local election officials virtually unlimited power to shape the outcome however they like.
Thus we document clear instances of electronic vote theft in the 1988 New Hampshire Republican primaries won by George H.W. Bush, and in the general presidential elections won by George W. Bush in Florida 2000 and Ohio 2004.
Along the way we have encountered likely electronic hacks in numerous other local, state and federal elections. In Ohio 2006 a series of statewide election reform referenda were defeated with swings of more than 30% from pre-election polls to official outcome, a virtual statistical impossibility. In 2014 and 2016, Republicans claimed six US Senate seats in elections where they lost in the exit polls by significant margins. That six such vote counts would all go in the same direction is also a virtual statistical impossibility.
In 2016, the Electoral College was decided by five states—-Florida, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin—-where Trump lost the exit polls but won the official vote count. That all five states would go in the same direction is, once again, a virtual statistical impossibility.
In Michigan, more than 75,000 ballots were counted in heavily Democratic Flint and Detroit metropolitan area without presidential preferences being registered. This presumes that some 75,000 citizens took the trouble to vote (often waiting hours in line) but failed to choose a president. In Wisconsin, electronic anomalies also abounded. In Wisconsin, a suspicious anomaly was uncovered across several voting precincts where the last number in Trump and Clinton’s vote totals appeared not to be randomly distributed in regards to zeros and fives. In these precincts, over half of Trump and Clinton’s total numbers ended with a zero or a five.
Meanwhile, countless black, Hispanic, Asia-American, Muslim and other non-millionaire citizens were stripped from registration rolls by some 29 GOP secretaries of state. As shown in Greg Palast’s “Best Democracy Money Can Buy,” the far-right secretary of state from Kansas, Kris Kobach, spread the Crosscheck program around the country with the clear intent to strip as many likely Democrats from the voter rolls as possible. Trump has just appointed Kobach to head his special commission on voter fraud, aimed at “proving” that millions of illegal voters cost Trump a majority in the popular vote.
Additional mass disenfranchisement has been done throughout the US through demands for photo ID, short-changing of precincts and voting machines, deliberate misinformation and much more.
There is little doubt that between stripping the voter rolls and flipping the electronic vote count, our electoral system is in shambles. The Russians are clearly NOT at the root of the problem. Election theft can be and has been repeatedly perpetrated right here, by Americans.
But the Russians could have done so. In coming elections, they, other foreign powers and a veritable army of domestic hackers can deliver pretty much whatever outcome they want.
Our private voting machine companies like ES&S and the now-defunct Diebold have long had this power.
The solution is obvious: we must secure our voting system entirely off-line. with outcomes that can be certified in real time, by real people. We need universal automatic voter registration; a four-day natonal holiday for voting; universal hand-counted paper ballots; an end to gerrymandering and the Electoral College; and a ban on corporate campaign spending.
As we now know from this past presidential election, whether flipped by the Russians or not, it has become an issue of national security…and the future of our democracy.
Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman have co-written seven books on election integrity, including the new STRIP & FLIP DISASTER OF AMERICA’S STOLEN ELECTIONS (www.freepress.org / www.solartopia.org).