How votes are counted in US Elections.


(Note: Christopher Bollyn is one of the greatest reporters in the world. He is independent and intrepid. He is what Geraldo Rivera and Dan Rather pretend to be. Bollyn reported on, and contributed to, our "Citizens for a Fair Vote Count" Convention which was held at the Greater Cincinnati Airport in late August, 2000. This article explains, as far as possible, the nuts and bolts of how 99% of the counties in the USA incredibly delegate the "counting" of our votes to a few private companies, who "count" the votes in secret. We at believe that these few private companies now fix every key election in collaboration with the 5 major TV Networks, the AP Wire Service, and the Ruling Elite behind all these entities. This Ruling Elite also controls the Democratic National Committee and the Republican National Committee -- which entities look the other way and NEVER protest this absolutely un-American, unconstitutional, and criminal arrangement.)



By Christopher Bollyn of American Free Press

When the polls closed in Chicago, American Free Press was at the Cook County clerk?s office to see how the secretive private company that operates the voting machines in America?s third largest city actually controls the counting of the votes.
CHICAGO, Illinois: The morning after Election Day, the Democratic vice presidential candidate John Edwards promised the nation that the Democrats would "make sure that every vote counts, and that every vote is counted."
Later in the day, as the Democratic presidential candidate, Sen. John Kerry, conceded defeat to George W. Bush, his 9th cousin and fellow "Bonesman" from Yale?s elite secret society, The Order of the Skull & Bones, he said: "In America, it is vital that every vote count."
Kerry and Edwards, however, conceded defeat before some 170,000 to 250,000 provisional ballots from the state of Ohio, which could have changed the outcome of the election, had been counted. As the public has been led to believe, the final tally came down to a near 50-50 split and it was the "swing state" of Ohio that made the difference.
But how were the votes actually counted across the nation on November 2?

On Election Day, voters in Cook County (Ill.) were among the 60 million Americans who voted with machines made by Election Systems & Software, a secretive and private company based in Omaha.
ES&S, as its known, calls itself "the world's largest and most experienced provider of total election management solutions." According to the company?s own figures, 42 percent of all registered voters in the United States voted on ES&S equipment on Election Day.
ES&S sells its "end-to-end election management suite of solutions" to replace traditional voting methods -- and election officials -- with what it calls "one-stop-shop" full service election coordination from start to finish.
What this means on Election Day is that ES&S, a private company, manages everything about the voting, from voter registration, the printing of ballots, the programming of the voting machines, the counting and tabulation of the votes, and the final reporting of the results for 60 million Americans in 47 states.
Four years after first revealing the flaws inherent in the insecure ES&S electronic voting machines used in Cook County, American Free Press went to the county clerk?s office to observe how ES&S controls the counting of the votes for America?s third largest city, Chicago, and the suburban area around it.
Scott Burnham, spokesman for the county clerk, had informed me that the vote count is open to the public and that press credentials would not be required. Shortly after arriving, I ran into Burnham and David Orr, the county clerk, in the hallway.
Although I had arrived just shortly before the polls closed at 7 p.m., I was the only member of the public or the press around except for a couple Associated Press (AP) reporters in the far corner of the room. They were busy setting up their laptop to the ES&S computer in the backroom, which provided them with "direct feed" of the results.
I was surprised to see so few people attending such an important event. In France, scores of citizens watch the vote count in each polling station.
While the results were coming in, the AP "reporter" read a novel while her laptop did the communicating.
When I went to talk to the AP reporter, Burnham quickly appeared and told me to leave. "You should talk to AP," he said.
"She is AP," I replied.
"She just works for AP," he said.
Clearly the subject of AP having direct data feed from the mainframe computer was something Burnham did not want me to discuss.
Dane Placko, a local reporter for the Fox News network, told AFP that, "Fox gets direct feed."
Any actual counting of the votes by citizens is very rare in the United States except for a few counties in Montana and other states where paper ballots are still hand-counted. In most counties the ballots are treated as input data to be processed through computer systems controlled by private companies like ES&S.
In Cook County the ballot is inevitably a cluttered punch card with nearly 100 votes. After voting for the president and vice-president, a senator, and a Congressman, the voter has to wade through pages of choices to vote for some 80 local officials from the sanitation board to the state?s general assembly. Every voter had to vote on nearly 80 judges.
As I voted, every ballot that was fed into the ES&S machine registered as an "undervote," as did mine.
Rather than holding separate elections for national and local officials, as is done in most countries, the Cook County ballot is extremely long and complicated. Officials who support electronic voting systems give the complexity of the ballot as the main reason why voting machines are necessary -- because it would take too much time to count the votes manually.
After calling and personally visiting ES&S headquarters in Omaha and Chicago, I can say it is the most secretive company I have ever come across. In August, I visited ES&S company headquarters on John Galt Blvd. in Omaha.
Although the company says it is the largest voting machine company in the United States, they were unable to provide any information about their company or their products. The ownership of the company is a closely-guarded secret. I asked to meet with Todd Urosevich, one of the two brothers that founded the company.
Bob and Todd Urosevich started ES&S as a company called Data Mark in the early 1980s. Today, Bob Urosevich heads Ohio-based Diebold Election Systems, a competitor of ES&S and the second largest U.S. manufacturer of electronic voting machines.
Together, the computerized ballot scanners and touch-screen voting machines systems made by ES&S and Diebold recorded some 80 percent of all votes cast in the recent U.S. presidential election.
As ES&S had no media relations person available and Todd Urosevich was not willing to be interviewed, the company?s chief financial officer Tom O?Brien finally appeared. O?Brien, clearly displeased with my visit and questions, refused to provide any information about the company.
Although I was ill on Election Day, I knew I had to go to the county clerk?s office to observe "counting" of the vote. It is, after all, the only "counting" open to the public. What I saw in Chicago, however, only made me more nauseous.
The only "vote count" the press or public can observe in Chicago is what is projected on screens. The opening screen read: ES&S Automatic Election Returns, Release 35, Under License to the City of Chicago, Serial No. 0004, Copyright 1987.
Carl Zimmerman, technical supervisor for the clerk?s office, said that the computer that ran the system was in the back, "in the ES&S room," he said.
At 7 p.m., Jonathan Lin, a worker on the county clerk?s computer staff, came out and turned on the monitors on the 6th floor, where the City of Chicago votes were tallied and displayed. Behind him was Rick Thurman, an ES&S technician, checking the first results.
Thurman seemed surprised when I asked him if he worked for ES&S. He said that the company had about 6 engineers running the computer in the back room. He then checked himself, saying he had said too much. Later I asked Lin who was actually operating the computer that was generating the results being shown on the monitors. "ES&S is running the mainframe for all of this," Lin said pointing to the television displays.
In the press room in the back I noticed stacks of boxes containing "Votamatic" voting machines and "pre-punched" ballots printed by ES&S of Addison, Texas, for the different precincts in Cook County. In the rear hallway behind the press room was the ES&S room. Only ES&S personnel were allowed into the room.
When I poked around in the hallway and peeked into the ES&S room an armed marshal and ES&S employee quickly appeared. In no condition for a confrontation, I made myself scarce. I met a couple reporters from CLTV, a local cable channel of WGN. One of the reporters asked about my interest in the Chicago tallies. I said I was interested to see how a private company runs the elections in Chicago.
Seemingly unaware of how ES&S operates elections in Cook County, I explained the basics. "I?ve observed elections across Europe," I added, "from France and Germany to Serbia and Holland. Everywhere in Europe voting is done on paper ballots that are counted by the citizens -- except Holland."
Obviously uncomfortable with this discussion the reporter responded, "I?m glad I?m not in Serbia. I don?t mind if a machine counts the votes."

Voting in the USA:  A Tale of Two Brothers

You've heard of the song The Day the Music Died?  Well, today is the Day Democracy Died.  Actually, that day probably came about 4 years ago, the first time Bush stole the election.  Or even earlier, as I will reveal....
Once upon a time there were two brothers:  Bob and Todd Urosevich.  In the 1980's, with the financial backing of the right-wing extremist Christian billionaire Howard Ahmanson, Bob and Todd founded a company called American Information Systems (AIS) that built voting machines.  They were also certified to count votes.
It is interesting to note that back then there was no federal agency with regulatory authority or oversight of the U.S. voting machine industry.  Even more interesting is the fact that this is still true today
.  Not even the Federal Election Commission (FEC) has a complete list of all the companies that count votes in U.S. elections.
But let us get back to our story....
In 1992 a conservative Nebraskan fellow called Chuck Hagel  became chairman of AIS as well as chairman of the McCarthy Group, a private investment bank.  This all happened shortly after he stopped working for Bush Sr.'s administration as Head of the Private Sector Council. 
In 1995 Hagel resigned from AIS and a year later ran for Senate, with the founder of the McCarthy Group as his campaign manager.
In 1996 Chuck Hagel became the first Republican to ever win a Nebraska senatorial campaign in 24 years
, carrying virtually every demographic group, including African American precincts that had never voted Republican.  The only company certified to count votes in Nebraska at the time was AIS. 
But getting back to our two brothers Urosevich....
In 1997 Bob and Todd decide to buy the Dallas-based Business Records Corp. (BRC) and merge it with AIS.  BRC was partially owned by Cronus Industries, a company with connections to the oil- and mineral-rich Hunt brothers of Texas.
The company created from this merger was Electronic Systems Software (ES&S).  Today ES&S is the largest voting machine company in the United States and Todd Urosevich is its vice-president.
In 2003 the Senate Ethics Committee forced Chuck Hagel to reveal the fact that he had $1 million to $5 million in investment in the McCarthy Group, a fact he'd previously neglected to mention.  The McCarthy Group also happens to be a major owner of ES&S.
But let's get back to the two brothers, shall we?  What happened to Bob?
Well, Bob Urosevich became president of Diebold, the corporation that makes the 45,000 touch-screen voting machines used in Ohio and other states.  In 2002 Diebold purchased Global Election Systems, a company that itself bought a company called AccuVote back in 1991.
Besides voting machines, Diebold also makes ATMs, checkout scanners, and ticket-dispensing machines, all of which come with an auditable paper trail.  (Can you imagine trying to sell Home Depot a checkout scanning system that has no paper trail?) 
None of Diebold's electronic voting machines are equipped with vote-verification systems.  In other words, you cannot audit these machines.
Diebold is now the third largest voting machine company in America.  Together, Diebold and ES&S count 80% of all votes
in the United States. 
Almost 30% of all votes are on non-auditable touch screen voting machines and computerized ballot scanners will count another 57.6% of the votes, including absentee ballots.
But wait, there more....
The Chairman and CEO of Diebold, "Wally" O' Dell, is a major Bush campaign donor, having helped raise over a quarter million for Bush's 2004 campaign.  In an August 2003 fundraising letter to some 100 wealthy friends, Diebold's chairman and CEO wrote,
"I am committed to helping Ohio deliver its electoral votes to the president next year."
Most of Ohio uses Diebold voting machines. 
Well, maybe he chose the wrong words.  Perhaps the ethics of these voting companies are beyond reproach.  Let us see.
During the 2000 presidential elections, Diebold made 16,000 presidential votes "vanish" in one Florida county.
Back in 2002 Diebold supplied the state of Georgia with brand new electronic voting machines.  That was when incumbent Democratic Governor Ray Barnes was defeated and the Republicans won for the first time in 134 years. The poll results showed an amazing 12-point shift that took place in the last 48 hours
Diebold was subsequently sued for applying a last-minute code patch to the machines that was never reviewed.  In another strange turn of events, that code was also deleted right after the election and the suit fell through.
Earlier this year California sued Diebold for fraud and decertified its voting machines. 
But what about the other 20% of the votes?  Who counts them?
America's second largest voting corporation is Sequoia Voting Systems.  This company is owned by the British company De La Rue, who also owns 20% of the British National Lottery.  In 1995 the SEC filed suit against Sequoia for inflating revenue and pre-tax profits.
In 1999 charges were filed by the Justice Department against Sequoia in a massive corruption case that sent top Louisiana state officials to jail for bribery, most of it funneled through the Mob.  Sequoia's executives were given immunity in exchange for testimony against state officials.
And in fourth place we have Science Applications International Corporation Fourth (SAIC).  This secretive defense contractor became involved in counting American votes through Admiral Bill Owens, former military aide to Dick Cheney. 
Despite a history of fraud charges and security lapses in its electronic systems, SAIC is now one of the largest Pentagon and CIA contractors.
Then there are some bit players.
Last year, two of Diebold's top executives, Howard Van Pelt and Larry Ensminger, moved over to Advanced Voting Solutions, which is the new name of the scandal-ridden voting company Shoup Voting Solutions.
In 1971 Shoup Voting Machine Co. had been indicted for bribing politicians in Florida.  In 1979 Ransom Shoup was convicted of conspiracy and obstruction of justice during an FBI inquiry into a Philadelphia election. Shoup got a mere three-year suspended sentence.
In the meantime, Philadelphia bought new voting machines from a new voting machine company, Danaher-Guardian.  But this company only sells voting machines formerly known as the "Shouptronic."  
But wait, there's more....
After the 2000 election, Cal Tech and MIT conducted a study to find that between 1.5 million and 2 million votes were not counted because of confusing paper ballots or faulty equipment.  That's when Bush decided to pass the Help America Vote Act (HAVA).
One of the main goals of the HAVA is the "Replacement of punch card and lever voting machines.?  With what?  Electronic touch screen voting machines, the ones that cannot be audited.
How do you feel about your vote now?
Suspicious Election Results
Below is a list in no real order (it's happening so fast) of sites showing some extremely suspicious election numbers, some of which are currently being investigated by the FBI....
If you still think everything was played fair and square, check out some these strange Florida election numbers, reported by Buck Mulligan:
2000 2004
Bush 2,912,790 Bush 3,836,216
Gore 2,912,253 Kerry 3,459,293
Nader      97,421 Nader      32,035
Other      40,193 Other      28,382
5,963,657 7,355,296
Which means 1,392,639 new voters (99% precincts counted, no provisionals or absentees).

So there are 1.39 million new voters in Florida and 77,197 fewer third-party votes but Kerry loses by 376,923 votes? Which would mean he lost a huge majority of them or he lost a huge majority of regular voters, and by much than Gore lost.
The exit polls showed that Kerry had way more Hispanic and Cuban supporters than Gore.  Also most exit polls in Florida had Kerry leading,
but in the end Kerry lost by a whopping 5%?
Some more suspicious Florida voting statistics are shown here.  Brandon Adams of Western Washington U. also did a great job of examining the bizarre Florida voting results.  Peter Smith at Ledge of Liberty has done an admirable job of charting the blatant fraud in several states and the Brad Blog has compiled a nice list of sites with more voter fraud information.     
And then there's accounts of possible fraud in Ohio that the press, including the Washington Post, is looking into.  This was reported by the valiant folks at AMERICABlog. There's even a lovely photo of a Cincinnati poll manager putting used ballots on his Bush/Cheney-stickered truck.
Exit polls discrepancies in Ohio are discussed by Greg Palast at length.  Other exit poll oddities in this last election are discussed at the Blue Lemur here and here.  These are also dicsussed at eRiposte's election 2004 results.
Not only do the reports indicate that voting machines errors reported consistently favored Bush, but it is also very suspicious that a strong correlation exists between voter discrepancies and the type of voting machine used. 
Cuyahoga County of Ohio is also seriously questioning the validity of some goofball election numbers, where the number of votes cast was higher than the number of voters who showed up.
And, by the way, did you know that the international election observers were forbidden access to the Ohio polls?  I thought that was interesting as well.