Robert F. Kennedy Jr. has uncovered a bombshell in Chris Hood, former Diebold employee, who claims that he personally patched dozens of Diebold electronic voting machines with an unauthorized patch:
Then, one muggy day in mid-August, Hood was surprised to see the president of Diebold’s election unit, Bob Urosevich, arrive in Georgia from his headquarters in Texas. With the primaries looming, Urosevich was personally distributing a “patch,” a little piece of software designed to correct glitches in the computer program. “We were told that it was intended to fix the clock in the system, which it didn’t do,” Hood says. “The curious thing is the very swift, covert way this was done.”
Georgia law mandates that any change made in voting machines be certified by the state. But thanks to Cox’s agreement with Diebold, the company was essentially allowed to certify itself. “It was an unauthorized patch, and they were trying to keep it secret from the state,” Hood told me. “We were told not to talk to county personnel about it. I received instructions directly from Urosevich. It was very unusual that a president of the company would give an order like that and be involved at that level.”
According to Hood, Diebold employees altered software in some 5,000 machines in DeKalb and Fulton counties – the state’s largest Democratic strongholds. To avoid detection, Hood and others on his team entered warehouses early in the morning. “We went in at 7:30 a.m. and were out by 11,” Hood says. “There was a universal key to unlock the machines, and it’s easy to get access. The machines in the warehouses were unlocked. We had control of everything. The state gave us the keys to the castle, so to speak, and they stayed out of our way.” Hood personally patched fifty-six machines and witnessed the patch being applied to more than 1,200 others.
Gee, that’s not suspicious or anything, is it?
Earlier in the article Hood says that the company was able to operate with unusual freedom since Georgia essentially privatized the election by giving Diebold (the highest bidder) the keys to the kingdom in order to get everything ready in a short timeframe.
Hood says it was “common knowledge” within the company that Diebold also illegally installed uncertified software in machines used in the 2004 presidential primaries – a charge the company denies. Disturbed to see the promise of electronic machines subverted by private companies, Hood left the election consulting business and became a whistle-blower. “What I saw,” he says, “was basically a corporate takeover of our voting system.”
How do we know we live in a democracy anymore? What proof do any of us have that the system is fair? Certainly, articles like this one don’t inspire any faith in me, and I’d bet that that’s the case for many folks out there.
So what should we do? Attack the messenger? Cross our fingers? Trust in Big Business?
None of those solutions are acceptable to me. I work with computers; I know what they can do. Hacking an election is trivial for Diebold. There’s no receipt or evidence left behind for a manual recount. Once the election is stolen, it’s gone for good. No recount is possible.
We need an open source solution, subject to rigid testing and public oversight if we’re going to use electionic ballots. Personally, I’m not convinced of the need for an electronic system. But if we do go with e-voting we need to stay away from “blackbox” voting. They call it blackbox because anything could be going on in there. You have no way of knowing if the person you just voted for actually received your vote. It’s far too uncertain. I prefer paper ballots for this reason.
The article goes on to deal with the ironically-named Help America Vote Act (HAVA) which actually does more to help Corporate America choose our representatives for us:
The primary author and steward of HAVA was Rep. Bob Ney, the GOP chairman of the powerful U.S. House Administration Committee. Ney had close ties to the now-disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff, whose firm received at least $275,000 from Diebold to lobby for its touch-screen machines. Ney’s former chief of staff, David DiStefano, also worked as a registered lobbyist for Diebold, receiving at least $180,000 from the firm to lobby for HAVA and “other election reform issues.” Ney – who accepted campaign contributions from DiStefano and counted Diebold’s then-CEO O’Dell among his constituents – made sure that HAVA strongly favored the use of the company’s machines.
Ney also made sure that Diebold and other companies would not be required to equip their machines with printers to provide paper records that could be verified by voters. In a clever twist, HAVA effectively pressures every precinct to provide at least one voting device that has no paper trail – supposedly so that vision-impaired citizens can vote in secrecy.
This is dirty, dirty business. It won’t be easy for Americans to believe that our (illegitimately elected, as it turns out) representatives and business leaders would be so evil to steal elections again and again, but America has a lot of waking up to do. “It can’t happen here” seems to be our mantra.
But it can. And it has.