Who’s Stealing Your Vote? A Documentary

Photo credit: Wikimedia Foundation
Reading Time: 2 minutes

So far, press coverage of the basic problems with American elections has focused on the corrosive role of big money. But other issues are equally problematical, and deserve attention. A look back at two hotly contested presidential contests is instructive.

Although fat cats played their usual outsized role, the 2000 and 2004 presidential elections also saw unprecedented problems with—and manipulations of—the voting process itself. Voters were disenfranchised by a range of dirty tricks before the polls closed. Here are some of them:

• Placing illegal requirements for certain forms of voter identification.

• Circulating the false claim, largely targeting the elderly, that voters could opt to turn out on Wednesday instead of Tuesday.

• At the last moment, giving out false addresses for voting precincts.

• Announcing the winner, in key swing states during both elections—by a top Bush campaign leader. This had a large impact in Florida in 2000 when Katherine Harris, co-chair of George W. Bush’s campaign, ended the recount and declared Bush the election winner.

• Purging voters by falsely identifying them as convicted felons. In 2000, Jeb Bush had 12,000 eligible voters purged, according to the Brennan Center for Justice. “African-Americans, who favored Gore over Bush by 86 points, accounted for 11 percent of the state’s electorate but 41 percent of those purged.”  (In 2004, Bush tried to purge 22,000 African-Americans, and only 61 Hispanics. Hispanics in Florida tend to be Republican. This raised so many alarms, Bush dropped the attempt.)

• Using hackable Diebold voting machines.  Reported election results differed substantially from reliable exit polls, raising questions about results from an electronic voting systemdesigned and run by a handful of corporations. In 2003, a chief executive of Diebold said “I am committed to helping Ohio deliver its electoral votes to the president next year.”  To learn how this was likely achieved, see videos of Stephen Spoonamore, a cyber-security sleuth for credit card corporations who details a variety of dirty Diebold tricks.  (Spoonamore is a Republican more interested in Democracy than partisan politics.)  In 2007, Diebold Election Systems became “Premier Election Systems”— but is still owned by Diebold Inc.

As the 2016 cycle heats up, it’s worth taking a look at Free For All, a 2006 documentary by John Wellington Ennis, a self-proclaimed “normal dude” who took it upon himself to investigate the inner workings of an electoral system that appears to be broken. Ennis examines the causes of that breakdown through the prism of those contested elections, and highlights some of the people and institutions seeking to fix things.

Related front page panorama photo credits: Katherine Harris (U.S. House / Wikimedia), George Bush sworn in (U.S. Navy / Wikimedia), I voted sticker (Dwight Burdette / Wikimedia), Free For All button (FreeForAll.tv), and Ken Blackwell (Robert Rock / Wikimedia).

Where else do you see journalism of this quality and value?

Please help us do more. Make a tax-deductible contribution now.

Our Comment Policy

Keep it civilized, keep it relevant, keep it clear, keep it short. Please do not post links or promotional material. We reserve the right to edit and to delete comments where necessary.

print

24 responses to “Who’s Stealing Your Vote? A Documentary”

  1. David J Gill says:

    Political truths are not necessarily bi-partisan or non-partisan. You have to consider the possibility that one party is much worse than the other and this article chronicles some of the most troubling recent examples of vote manipulation and if I’m not mistaken all of these were the result of partisan efforts to aid the GOP vote count. Why doesn’t the article state that plainly? How will the problem ever be remedied if we don’t lay the blame where it belongs?

    There are multiple negative dynamics involved in American politics. Some of those dynamics corrupt both parties but some of them are perpetrated strictly for the benefit of the Republican Party which has developed an extraordinary ability to get its biased message out and rally Republicans to its cause without introspection.

    Money in politics is the worst of these, Republicans have opposed campaign finance reform for decades and the 5 Republican operatives on the Supreme Court chose to decide Citizens United to maximise money in politics because they believe it will help Republicans. These are facts not spin. Everyone with a critical view of American politics knows that new voter ID laws are a coordinated nationwide political effort by Republicans to change the rules to their benefit. This fact is obscured by the press’ committment to unbiased reporting and reporting the facts on this issue makes the GOP look bad. What do we do when the truth is biased?

    Our problems with voting processes and vote counting included partisan manipulation but as we learned in Florida, error is in fact the biggest problem. In the Florida debacle in 2000 we were surprised to learn that the vote tally is more like an estimate with a margin of error rather than a true count of the total.

  2. David J Gill says:

    Political truths are not necessarily bi-partisan or non-partisan. You have to consider the possibility that one party is much worse than the other.

    There are multiple negative dynamics involved in American politics. Some of those dynamics corrupt both parties but some of them are perpetrated strictly for the benefit of the Republican Party which has developed an extraordinary ability to get it’s biased message out and rally Republicans to its cause without introspection.

    Money in politics is the worst of these, Republicans have opposed campaign finance reform for decades and the 5 Republican operatives on the Supreme Court chose to decide Citizen’s United to maximise money in politics because they believe it will help Republicans. These are facts not spin. Everyone with a critical view of American politics knows that new voter ID laws are a coordinated nationwide political effort by Republicans to change the rules to their benefit. This fact is obscured by the presses committment to unbiased reporting and reporting the facts on this issue makes the GOP look bad which brings accusations of bias. What do we do when the truth is biased?

    Out problems with voting processes and vote counting included partisan manipulation but as we learned in Florida error and incompetence are also huge a factor and clearly a non-partisan factor. The fact that error corrupts the vote doesn’t disprove

    Republican manipulation, which should be obvious but isn’t, it seems.

  3. MOPstr says:

    A truly excellent piece of work, it presents the right voices and takes the right POV that many citizens like this “dude” are needed to take initiative if Americans are to reclaim democracy, not just on this one basic issue, but also on the related issue of money in politics.

    Vote for candidates who support: Paper ballots only, outlawing all the many forms of corruption by plutocracy, and stripping the Supreme Court of illegitimate legislative power to corrupt politics under the pretense of defending “the freedom of speech.”

    Suspect anyone who tries to confuse these priority issues with distractions that are not priorities because they cannot be achieved until we first recover democracy by means of informed exercise of our voting rights to evict any incumbent who will not support these reforms as their sole public function until it is accomplished.

    • Julia says:

      Unfortunately, the corruption even happens with paper ballots. Oklahoma has paper ballots, but they run them through a voting machine to count them. Oklahoma, Kansas, Iowa, New Hampshire, and a number of other states have had totals that show probable fraud in the last several elections.
      This website has discussed the statistical probabilities of that fraud. The statistician in Kansas who has tried to follow up on it has, so far, had little interest or help.
      We need to find a way to get this proper attention – soon!

    • MOPstr says:

      Very interesting. You are right of course that there are no silver bullets, Comprehensive reform is required of such deep corruption that would permit stealing elections. “Paper ballots” is just a shorthand slogan for a process of action against election fraud such as the following.

      Under Article IV, Sec 4 of the Constitution the Federal government is required to guaranty the states a republican form of government, which is of course a fairly elected government at minimum. Congress has routinely shirked this obligation, so the People must promote federal legislation for a national election commission – why not even make its head an elected official to avoid partisan deadlock like the FEC’s?

      A National Commission for Honest Elections would monitor election practices of all kinds, especially the mechanics of voting in the states. It would seem that the law should require paper ballots for starters. If banks can count money, such a commission should be able to develop equipment that would easily and cheaply count standardized paper ballots. If the ballots were routinely sequestered into archives by the equivalent of Brinks after being counted locally, systematically audited for fraud by the Commission to avoid ballot stuffing, scanned for public online disclosure and re-counted by a centralized process then that might uncover solely local shenanigans. There are many other recommendations for making the process more secure that should be considered.

      The point is that political agitation for best electoral practices needs to be brought within the framework of draft reform legislation in order to transition from agitation to targeted political goals. A model for this process is Prohibition – an entirely citizen-led reform that politicians could not resist because of focus on the single issue.,
      .
      Election fraud needs to be made a much more serious crime and offenders reliably punished by an independent prosecutor of election crimes. Apparently Senator Obama authored a bill to make this crime a felony. Who knew it was not already a felony?
      Bottom line is that citizens need to take over the process of writing and lobbying for such law as the first of many reforms to restore democratic elections.

      The Civil Rights movement fought a powerful struggle to secure the vote against racial discrimination. But then fraud and corruption eroded the value of that victory. A new movement focused on securing the vote for everyone is needed.

  4. RykELee says:

    How much did Soros pay for this?

  5. Julia says:

    Why sn’t there a major uproar by Democrats with a megaphone?? There silence is bewildering.

    • MOPstr says:

      Democrats play by the rules that keep plutocrats in power. The spirit of this doco is directly on point that it is up to “just dudes” to recover democracy. Both parties and the mass media all wallow in the same systemic corruption. Democrats will not fight the mass media propagandists when they decide elections. We need a transpartisan movement to recover democracy because both parties are feeding at the current corrupt trough.

  6. Robert Kennedy says:

    Isn’t it strange that Diebold machines never give you back too much money at the ATM, but are incapable of counting votes?

  7. From Our Facebook Page says:

    (Comment by reader Frank Henry) Allow all voters in all 50 states to vote/count per their “30 FULL Voting Rights”….the errors and potential frauds will become History… Thanks and Good Luck,… Frank Henry,… FULL Voting Rights Advocate,… e-mail: fmhenry4@netzero.com

  8. From Our Facebook Page says:

    (Comment by reader Eric Belsey) Electoral “democracy” is a sham, and a scam, to divert and divide while the country is being run from behind the scenes by fascists whose names you will never know. To quote Carlin, “the politicians are put there to give you the IDEA that you have a choice. You have no choice. You have OWNERS! They OWN YOU!”

  9. From Our Facebook Page says:

    (Comment by reader Tina Sue Poe) Check out Richard Charnin’s statistical studies of recent elections: Bush 2000, 2004 and the Wisconsin Governor’s race between Walker and Baldwin. He has concluded they were thrown elections based in part on exit polls which did not agree with reported final tallies.

  10. From Our Facebook Page says:

    (Comment by reader Jason Eckhardt) Someone needs to upload Hacking Democracy to YouTube again. It was taken down…

  11. From Our Facebook Page says:

    (Comment by reader Jim Wynn) If voters don’t choose the politicians the politicians will choose the voters.

  12. From Our Facebook Page says:

    (Comment by reader Scott Kuli) Why are the “elite” here in North America trying to make a joke of every democratic process they can?

  13. edwardrynearson says:

    Readers might be interested in this archived Peter B Collins radio program discussing the mysterious death of Michael Connell, Carl Rove’s IT Guru, who died piloting his small aircraft just weeks before he was set to testify before congress about electronic voting @ http://eddieleaks.org/death-by-small-aircraft-accident-2/

  14. danny j says:

    An important video. Thanks, Russ.

    Diebold is now Dominion Voting Systems. That’s as in Dominion Theology:

    “Dominion Theology is the idea that Christians should work toward either a nation governed by Christians or one governed by a conservative Christian understanding of biblical law.”

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dominion_Theology

    Dominion Voting Systems’ Moto:

    “WE ARE NOT JUST AN ELECTIONS PROVIDER, WE ARE
    A PARTNER. OUR REPUTATION RELIES ON MAKING
    AND KEEPING OUR CUSTOMERS SATISFIED.”

    “The only acceptable relationship in this industry is that your success is our success.”

    Of course, their “customers” are those Secretaries of State who run elections in most States.

    http://dominionvoting.com/company

    An important question is, why haven’t the Democrats done anything about these issues?

  15. FMHenry says:

    Allow all voters in all 50 states to vote/count per their “30 FULL Voting Rights”….the errors
    and potential frauds will become History… Thanks and Good Luck,… Frank Henry,… FULL
    Voting Rights Advocate,… e-mail: fmhenry4@netzero.com

  16. Russ;// Excellent but scary video. What if this happens in 2016. I don’t
    know about you , but I feel, (and I’ve been living in the South Seas
    for the past 40 some years), if the right person doesn’t get into
    office, America as I knew it in the past, (1948 to 1971) is finished.
    That’s bad for the population in America and also bad for the whole
    world. To me, from the outside looking in, when you talk about terrorist
    countries, you don’t have to look to far to see the worst one.
    Sickening! ‘Feel The Bern’! Last chance for a country to get back it’s
    greatness.

  17. From Our Facebook Page says:

    (Comment by reader Michael DaMota) The ’04 GOP convention for Bush was the most scripted U.S. political event I ever saw…Like robotic propaganda.

  18. @Lydia4154:disqus ::// Two points; 1.) If you leave this site because of this article you will be leaving one of the only ‘media sites’ that’s honest, so it seems that would be a bad move. 2.) The Florida election in 2000 was the worst thievery of a Presidential election in the past 100 years. And I don’t see being a Democrat or Republican makes a difference to that statement. But I will say that because of that complete dishonest situation, the American people got stuck with George W. Bush. (Gore was the winner for sure!). Look what 8 years of Bush did to the country and the world. If you think that was a good thing, then you need to sit down and really search the history of 2000 to 2008. If after a unbiased search of the facts, you still feel that it was ‘good’ for the country, (having an illegal President in office), then you are beyond help. Sorry to tell you this, but someone has too. It’s important, more than you know!

  19. Lydia4154 says:

    I’ve witnessed voter fraud on both sides. This gives the impression that only Republicans do this. This report is biased. Military ballots were not counted in Florida – no mention of that. No look at Illinois, no look at Nevada, no mention in the article of the 2012 elections. It is easy to present one side, more difficult to present two or more sides. The fact is that elections go the way of the oligarchy, not the way of the people and has nothing to do with the two-headed monster the media calls the two political parties.

    A TRUE report of what goes on is here: http://blackboxvoting.org

    I will no longer support this website after this so called “reporting.”

    • russbaker says:

      This is a documentary that someone else made that seemed worthy of sharing…. Documentaries are rarely traditional journalism–they embody the passion of the maker. So, not sure what your point is about this “reporting” being biased. Your statement about the oligarchy having nothing to do with a preference for one party winning doesn’t particularly make sense. Also, people who claim they will “no longer support” a website…rarely ever did.

    • Manengue says:

      Bye!!!!

    • David J Gill says:

      That’s naive. Political truths are not necessarily bi-partisan or non-partisan. You have to consider the possibility that one party is much worse than the other.

      There are multiple negative dynamics involved in American politics. Some of those dynamics corrupt both parties but some of them are perpetrated strictly for the benefit of the Republican Party which has developed an extraordinary ability to get its biased message out and rally Republicans to its cause without introspection.

      Money in politics is the worst of these, Republicans have opposed campaign finance reform for decades and the 5 Republican operatives on the Supreme Court chose to decide Citizens United to maximise money in politics because they believe it will help Republicans. These are facts not spin. Everyone with a critical view of American politics knows that new voter ID laws are a coordinated nationwide political effort by Republicans to change the rules to their benefit. This fact is obscured by the press’s commitment to unbiased reporting, and reporting the facts on this issue makes the GOP look bad, which brings accusations of bias. What do we do when the truth is biased?

      Our problems with voting processes and vote counting included partisan manipulation but as we learned in Florida, error and incompetence are also huge a factor and clearly a non-partisan factor. The fact that error corrupts the vote doesn’t disprove
      Republican manipulation, which should be obvious but isn’t, it seems.