Monday, July 9, 2012

Counties Watch out for the Hillsborough Hack

Here's what I am going say tomorrow at the Brevard County Commission if the creek don't rise and the damn don't break.

Good morning commissioners. I am here today to ask you to do three things. 1. watch out during the general election for a hacked vote or rigged election. 2. Get rid of the Dominion voting machines  3. Demand that the state draft laws to either standardize the process of "rescanning ballots" or outlaw the process entirely.

During my research into the election of Rick Scott for my book Rick Scott: Enemy of the State I came across the botched election in Hillsborough County in which 38,000 early voted ballots - representing more than 50 percent of the last three days of early voting, all in heavily democratic areas - were 'rescanned' because an alleged technical glitch failed to tally those votes at the time they were voted by the public, on Nov. 2, 2010.

A rescanning is not a recount. A "rescanning" is when, for whatever reason, sinister or otherwise, the elections officers and workers (NOT THE VOTERS) actually impact the vote total by hand feeding ballots back through optical scan voting machines. That is to say officials vote the ballots, not the voters. In Hillsborough's case 10 miles of ballots, all in a period of four to six hours, emergency conditions, press and the public caught flatfooted. This with no chain of custody to speak of as ballots were driven around in the middle of the night by elections workers in at least one occasion in personal vehicles.

The process called "rescanning" has no basis in Florida election law. There is no proper or legal way to conduct a rescanning. It is an outlaw process. Its a punt, a bootleg play by incompetent or dishonest machines and or supervisors. You will sometimes hear it referred to by the media - either deliberately or through blind ignorance - as a recount. It is not.

Because there is no law for a rescanning, it is the perfect opportunity for a swap out of the ballots - a stack  ballots previously voted for the desired result, for those actually voted by the electorate.

It is my belief this is what happened to much of the early vote in Hillsborough County, wherein a 38,000 vote differential going toward Rick Scott over Alex Sink may have buoyed Scott over a legally mandated recount.  Those deciding votes came late in the election, after midnight. They came as Hillsborough workers (not voters) as elections staff themselves hand fed the ballots into machines, hand over fist.

 I am furnishing you with those calculations I mentioned on page one. As we know a vote resulting in less than half a percent difference between two top candidates results in a mandatory recount. We see how nicely the figure of 38,000 brings the two candidates to within 0.44 percent difference. The odds of this seemingly random number coming from a "glitch", are heavily stacked against. Recounts happen. They are part of democracy which isn't always cut and dry. To even avoid them through manipulation is rigging an entire election.

Hillsborough's rescanning was blamed on one machine. Page 2 of your handout. It took nearly eight months for me to get this document, during which time the story morphed, there was much foot dragging, dishonesty and refusal on the part of the Hillsborough's office of SOE. I had to go through the county commission. Seven seemingly honest if willfully reluctant officials such as yourselves. To my knowledge only one of seven commissioners, Mark Sharpe,  participated in getting me any cooperation.

If this was a machine error, if one machine can put into taint the result which decided who would be our governor, we have a problem! The machines are unreliable. And they should be removed. I don't say that because of just this one case but a previous case in Hillsborough in which 70,000 ballots were rescanned during the 2008 general election, as well as many others through history these same machines.

Dominion voting is a Canadian company which controls the vote in 32 of 67 counties in this state.

The company is the corporate bucket into which fell, by virtue of acquisitions, all the garbage hardware and software,  by companies such as GES, Premier, Diebold, ESS, which have been fouling elections in this state since the year 2000. GES which counted votes backwards for Al Gore 16,022 times in Volusia County, was bought by Diebold, which changed its name to Premier which was then acquired by Dominion in 2010. Dominion also acquired ES and S which in 2006 recorded a record 18,000 no votes in the congressional race in Sarasota County resulting in the election of Vern Buchanan by just  369 vote margin. A court later ruled Christine Jennings had actually been the voters' choice.

Our elections here are a joke. The world knows this. These machines are the reason.

Either one of two possibilities exist. 1. The flaws in these machines are too great to be used in Florida. 2. These machines are being used to steal our votes. Either of these two mean we should remove them and go with another vendor or make all preparations for a hand count of all elections. We are always just 2 years away from an election. So "It's too late or expensive to change" is not a valid excuse. One person can only do so much damage in a hand-counted election. Using these machines, one or two people can rig the entire thing; can install a president. That's too much power in too few hands.

We can't vote these machines out of office like we can with a SOE. We can't impeach them. But you can close the purse strings on these machines, which continue to miserably fail us. Only you can. So do it. Get rid of them. Get rid of Dominion voting.

If we must continue to use these machines or ones like them through other vendors, there must be laws on the books for how to handle these "rescannings". It should never been a rush job. Press should be invited. A full canvassing board with the correct officers must always be present. Citizen observers included. Take a day to handle a rescanning as you would with a recount. Delay the process, get all eyes on it the way a recount should be handled. And then get it right.

If the ballots are to be voted by SOEs - who are voted in by party - then there must always be official chain of custody procedures. These loopholes WILL be exploited in this coming general election somewhere in this state. Mark my words. All county commissioners should be on hand to witness this election.

If you see something, you must report it. Don't let our county be used to steal the election with a glitch, or a rescanning as the excuse. If the state is to be made a laughing stock again during a national election don't let Brevard be a part of that.

You all swore a solemn oath to preserve protect and defend the constitution of this country, and this state. Please do so.

Thank you.

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