The following is from The Free Press.
I find it quite chilling.
Has American Democracy died an electronic death in Ohio 2005's referenda defeats?
by Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman
November 11, 2005
While debate still rages over Ohio's stolen presidential election of 2004, the impossible outcomes of key 2005 referendum issues may have put an electronic nail through American democracy.
Once again, the Buckeye state has hosted an astonishing display of electronic manipulation that calls into question the sanctity of America's right to vote, and to have those votes counted in this crucial swing state.
The controversy has been vastly enhanced due to the simultaneous installation of new electronic voting machines in nearly half the state's 88 counties, machines the General Accountability Office has now confirmed could be easily hacked by a very small number of people.
Last year, the US presidency was decided here. This year, a bond issue and four hard-fought election reform propositions are in question.
Issue One on Ohio's 2005 ballot was a controversial $2 billion "Third Frontier" proposition for state programs ostensibly meant to create jobs and promote high tech industry. Because some of the money may seem destined for stem cell research, Issue One was bitterly opposed by the Christian Right, which distributed leaflets against it...
A poll run on the front page of the Columbus Dispatch on Sunday, November 6, showed Issue One passing with 53% of the vote. Official tallies showed Issue One passing with 54% of the vote...
Its precision on Issue One was consistent with the Dispatch's historic polling abilities, which have been uncannily accurate for decades... This poll was based on 1872 registered Ohio voters, with a margin of error at plus/minus 2.5 percentage points and a 95% confidence interval. The Issue One outcome would appear to confirm the Dispatch polling operation as the state's gold standard.
But Issues 2-5 are another story...
Issue Two was designed to make it easier for Ohioans to vote early, by mail or in person...
The November 6 Dispatch poll showed Issue Two passing by a vote of 59% to 33%, with about 8% undecided, an even broader margin than that predicted for Issue One.
But on November 8, the official vote count showed Issue Two going down to defeat by the astonishing margin of 63.5% against, with just 36.5% in favor. To say the outcome is a virtual statistical impossibility is to understate the case. For the official vote count to square with the pre-vote Dispatch poll, support for the Issue had to drop more than 22 points, with virtually all the undecideds apparently going into the "no" column.
The numbers on Issue Three are even less likely.
Issue Three involved campaign finance reform... The Sunday Dispatch poll showed it winning in a landslide, with 61% in favor and just 25% opposed.
Tuesday's official results showed Issue Three going down to defeat in perhaps the most astonishing reversal in Ohio history, claiming just 33% of the vote, with 67% opposed. For this to have happened, Issue Three's polled support had to drop 28 points, again with an apparent 100% opposition from the previously undecideds.
The reversals on both Issues Two and Three were statistically staggering, to say the least.
The outcomes on Issue Four and Five were slightly less dramatic. Issue Four meant to end gerrymandering by establishing a non-partisan commission to set Congressional and legislative districts. The Dispatch poll showed it with 31% support, 45% opposition, and 25% undecided. Issue Four's final margin of defeat was 30% in favor to 70% against, placing virtually all undecideds in the "no" column.
Issue Five meant to take administration of Ohio's elections away from the Secretary of State, giving control to a nine-member non-partisan commission. Issue Five was prompted by Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell's administration of the 2004 presidential vote, particularly in light of his role as co-chair of Ohio's Bush-Cheney campaign. The Dispatch poll showed a virtual toss-up, at 41% yes, 43% no and 16% undecided. The official result gave Issue Five just 30% of the vote, with allegedly 70% opposed.
But the Sunday Dispatch also carried another headline: "44 counties will break in new voting machines." Forty-one of those counties "will be using new electronic touch screens from Diebold Election System," the Dispatch added.
Diebold's controversial CEO Walden O'Dell, a major GOP donor, made national headlines in 2003 with a fundraising letter pledging to deliver Ohio's 2004 electoral votes to Bush.
Every vote in Ohio 2004 was cast or counted on an electronic device. About 15%---some 800,000 votes---were cast on electronic touchscreen machines with no paper trail. The number was about seven times higher than Bush's official 118,775-vote margin of victory. Nearly all the rest of the votes were cast on punch cards or scantron ballots counted by opti-scan devices---some of them made by Diebold---then tallied at central computer stations in each of Ohio's 88 counties.
According to a recent General Accountability Office report, all such technologies are easily hacked. Vote skimming and tipping are readily available to those who would manipulate the vote. Vote switching could be especially easy for those with access to networks by which many of the computers are linked. Such machines and networks, said the GAO, had widespread problems with "security and reliability." Among them were "weak security controls, system design flaws, inadequate security testing, incorrect system configuration, poor security management and vague or incomplete voting system standards, among other issues."
With the 2005 expansion of paperless touch-screen machines into 41 more Ohio counties, this year's election was more vulnerable than ever to centralized manipulation. The outcomes on Issues 2-5 would indicate just that.
The new touchscreen machines were brought in by Blackwell, who had vowed to take the state to an entirely e-based voting regime...
Though there were glitches, this year's voting lacked the massive irregularities and open manipulations that poisoned Ohio 2004. The only major difference would appear to be the new installation of touchscreen machines in those additional 41 counties.
And thus the possible explanations for the staggering defeats of Issues Two through Five boil down to two: either the Dispatch polling---dead accurate for Issue One---was wildly wrong beyond all possible statistical margin of error for Issues 2-5, or the electronic machines on which Ohio and much of the nation conduct their elections were hacked by someone wanting to change the vote count.
If the latter is true, it can and will be done again, and we can forget forever about the state that has been essential to the election of every Republican presidential candidate since Lincoln.
And we can also, for all intents and purposes, forget about the future of American democracy.
Updated November 13, 2005
Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman are co-authors of HOW THE GOP STOLE AMERICA'S 2004 ELECTION AND IS RIGGING 2008, available at http://www.freepress.org/ and http://www.harveywasserman.com/, and, with Steve Rosenfeld, of WHAT HAPPENED IN OHIO, available from The New Press in spring, 2006.
Sadly, it appears that the people no longer have the right to vote in this country.