by Mike DeRosa

In Greg Palast's new Book, The Best Democracy Money Can Buy, Greg presents us with solid evidence of how Florida Governor Jeb Bush, Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris, her assistant Clayton Roberts, and Choice Point corporation denied over 90,000 Florida citizens (mostly Afro-American, Latino, and Democrat) their voter registration during the 2000 presidential election using a mostly phony "felon's list" to exclude from them from access to the polls. In fact, the majority of these voters were disenfranchised by being deliberately confused by Florida's top officials with a felon with a similar name, with a felon with a similar (but not exact) date of birth, with a person who committed a crime in the future (over 4000), and for other incorrect reasons. Palast writes in his new book that "90% of those scrubbed" from the voter rolls were completely innocent of the felonies described on the felon's list, and that this phony felon's list stopped tens of thousands of legitimate voters from voting in 2000 in Florida thereby causing Al Gore to lose the presidency.

The bogus felon's list was later updated and corrected but not before Jeb Bush had run for re-election in 2002 and won his Governorship back, thereby stealing two elections instead of just one. Greg Palast, an American who works for the BBC , told the truth about election fraud in the U.S. in 2000 to a mostly British T.V. audience at that time. Palast tried hard to get this story covered by the U.S. media but the story was ignored and censored (with a few notable exceptions) by the corporate mass media in the United States.

Let's fast forward to today. Investigative reporter Greg Palast , investigative writer Bev Harris, and others have given us a warning that the Republicans are now planning to do what they did in Florida in 20 or more states in the Presidential election of 2004 and that some funny things are happening in the world of computerized voting machines. A recently enacted law in Congress called the "Help America Vote Act" (HAVA) will provide almost $4 Billion dollars for the "reform" of our elections and for the purchase of new computer voting machines. Some people think it should be called the Help Republicans Win Elections Act.

Writer Bev Harris ( recently became interested in the integrity of elections and began to research the subject. Her new book, Black Box Voting(to be released soon), talks about the strange connections between the owners of the voting machines and Republican operatives and politicians in Washington, D.C.

Take for example the case of Senator Chuck Hagel of Nebraska. Hagel was the chairman of ES & S (Election Systems & Software-formerly AIS), one the biggest voting machine corporations in the U.S., from July 1992 to March 15, 1995. According to the Washington D.C. newspaper The Hill, Hagel is still a owner of ES & S and owns up to $5 million in the ES & S parent company (McCarthy Group) and he omitted the required disclosure of his ownership in this company from F.E.C. (Federal Elections Commission) disclosure documents. It is interesting to note that AS & S voting machines were used exclusively in his home state of Nebraska to count Hagel's votes when he ran for election in 1996 and 2002. The Washington Post called his first election victory "the biggest upset in the country". According to reporters at The Hill, on January 28, 2003 politically powerful associates of Hagel tried to pressure The Hill reporter Alex Bolton into killing the publication of the details of this story. But the paper printed it anyway. When Bev Harris put this information on her web site, ES & S attorney's sent her a threatening letter. She says that "even though the information was true," the ES & S attorney's letter said she could be sued "because it put their company in a bad light". Knowing her 1st Amendment rights, she sent the threatening letter to 3000 news outlets and has not heard anything from ES & S since. A reporter who called the law firm and asked for a comment was recently hung up on after a representative of this firm discovered the topic being inquired about.

While certain U.S. Senate officials have ruled against these alleged charges, many critics and legal experts disagree with this decision and think that it is a conflict of interest for a Senator to be this close to the voting machines that ended up electing him. According to ES & S, their company has counted approximately 60% of the U.S. national vote for the past four presidential elections. In the U.S. 2000 general election, ES & S counted over 100 million ballots. Numerous other concerns, conflicts of interest, and other issues have also been raised by critics about Diebolt and Sequoia the other large computer voter manufacturers in the U.S. Experts say that ES & S and their "rivals", Diebolt and Sequoia, control roughly about 90% of the voting machine market in the U.S. and are big players in other countries. These three companies are smacking their lips in hope of gaining the lion's share of the almost $4 Billion being doled out by the U.S. Congress under the HAVA Law.

Bev Harris, in an interview with this reporter, says that she has "uncovered over one hundred" recent instances of where voting "machines miscounted votes and handed elections over to the wrong candidate" even when some of these elections were not even close. She also says that the problem with the new computerized machines is that there is no vote by vote paper or audit trail, the computer source codes are not published publicly and can be changed using modems on the machines, there are major political and other conflicts of interest with many of the owners of these machine companies, and there is no reliable and open national checking system to make sure that these machines or their computer codes have not been tampered with.

Over 400 top scientists and computer experts have endorsed Stanford University professor David L. Dill's recent resolution demanding that computerized voting machines without vote by vote paper trails be disqualified for use in the upcoming elections. His resolution states that "using these machines is tantamount to handing complete control of voter counting to a private company, with no independent checks or audits. These machines represent a serious threat to democracy."

As usual, the corporate mass media (with some notable exceptions) has given this story short shrift. Much of the potential computer voter machine abuse and voter list fraud story has been labeled "conspiracy talk" by the corporate owned press even thought reputable investigators and experts have raised valid issues. But who would have believed before 2000 that Governor Jeb Bush and most of the top Florida voting officials would have illegally and deliberately scrubbed over 90,000 voters off the voting lists using a phony felon's list complied by a Republican controlled company before the 2000 presidential election? Who would have thought that the Democratic Party would have rolled over and not investigated and would not have raised hell over the fraud found in the election of 2000? More of this story will be told in these pages in the near future.

The real question is: Will we wait until 2007 to find out how the election was stolen in 2004? Well, will we?

For more on the topic of future and past voter fraud, visit the New Focus website: New Focus with Mike DeRosa airs on WWUH 91.3FM, Friday's at 12Noon and Wednesday's at 8:30PM. Mike DeRosa is a Co-Chair of the Connecticut Green Party and a former candidate for the CT State Senate.