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Another Stolen Democracy

Short Version: mp3, 3.24 MBs, 4:02

Long Version: mp3, 3.89 MBs, 4:51

[Col. Recorded 7/31/04]

"The cure for the problems of democracy is more democracy."
— John Dewey (1859-1952) U.S. philosopher and educator

In this time of election fever, when both the Democrats and the Republicans spend hundreds of millions of dollars on TV and radio advertising to draw the American people back to another campaign, the very real threat is looming of yet another stolen election in America.

The embarrassing spectacle of hundreds of election officials, and later dozens of state judges poring over piles of election stubs, checking for 'pregnant chads', and other such indicators of electoral choices, allowed people around the world to question the nation's commitment to democracy. Some nations, like Cuba, offered to send election overseers and checkers, to insure that Americans conducted the proverbial 'free and fair elections.'

In the aftermath of the Florida election debacle of November, 2000, jurisdictions all over the country have opted to change their election machinery for new, computerized systems.

There are approximately 30 U.S. states which use, in some of their counties, computerized machines, among them, some called 'black box' computerized systems, like the widely known Diebold machines, which are used in California, Georgia, Maryland, and among other places, Ohio.

In late 2003, Walden O'Dell, Diebold's CEO, turned up at a major Bush fundraiser (which he organized) where the company executive raised $600,000.
In a letter to contributors, O'Dell assured them that he was "committed to helping Ohio deliver its electoral votes for the President next year." (*Newsweek*, Mar. 3, 2003)
With Diebold computerized voting machines, Ohio's 23 electoral votes may be virtually safely deposited in Bush's winning column. That's because these machines, and several like them, are vulnerable to internal and external tampering. Avi Rubin, a computer-security expert at John Hopkins University has described such machines as threatening to the nation's democracy because of their minimal security safeguards. In an article for the *Baltimore Sun*, Rubin wrote:

I still believe that the Diebold machines, and ones like them from the venders, represent a major threat to our democracy. We have put our trust in the outcome of our elections in the hands of a few companies (Ohio-based Diebold Election systems, Sequoia Voting systems, which is based in California and Election Systems and Software in Omaha, Nebraska). They are in a position to control the outcomes of our elections, and there's no way anyone can know if they, or someone working for them did something underhanded. And meaningful recounts are impossible with these machines. (Fr. Avi Rubin, "An Insider's View of Vote Vulnerability", *Baltimore Sun*, Mar. 10, 2004)

That's because these new, computerized machines leave no paper trail. In the event of a demand for a recount, there will be nothing to recount! Diabolical, huh?

It's been four years since the votes of hundreds of thousands of African-Americans, tens of thousands of Haitian-Americans, and thousands of Jewish Americans, had their votes sabotaged and stolen in the tropical swamps of Florida. Despite all the spit and noise and anger of those days, we now stand on the brink of a repeat — without paper.

Already, in Florida, we may have seen the omen of what is to come. In March 2002, a City Council election took place for the municipality of Boca Raton. A man named Danciu expected to win his race by a landslide but instead lost by 16% of the reported vote. Voters there complained about the Sequoia computerized voting machines, saying that it appeared like their votes for Danciu went instead to his opponent. Danciu went to the Palm Beach County election officials to demand a recount, by checking the company's software code. When Palm Beach sued for the codes, the judge denied them, citing the company's rights to trade secrets. No codes. No recount.

This is an election that will not be decided in the election booths. It will be decided in the bytes and bits of electronic computer code, and democracy will, once again, be left in the mud.

(*Source*: Steve Moore, "E-Democracy: Stealing the Election in 2004," *Global Outlook*, Spr. '04, pp. 3-6.

Copyright 2004 Mumia Abu-Jamal

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Submitted by: Sis. Marpessa

Text © copyright 2003 by Mumia Abu-Jamal.
All rights reserved.
Reprinted by permission of the author.