I’ll be straight with you. I’m not big on the theories that there’s some guy in a cave who flips a switch and changes Democratic votes on computer touch-screen voting machines to Republican.
If you get one thing out of this book, it’s that most vote theft happens before the voting, by preventing people from voting: the purge of voter rolls, the obstacle course of ID rejections, the shunting to uncountable “provisional” ballots, the lines longer than for a Kendrick Lamar concert.
But then, Prof. Fitrakis, an attorney, took me into a Columbus, Ohio, courtroom just a day before the 2016 presidential election. And what I saw creeped me out. Professor Fitrakis of Columbus State University doesn’t sport a tin-foil hat. In fact, he’s one of the nation’s most respected voting rights attorneys.
Ohio’s Republican voting officials said their “DRE” (Direct Recording Electronic) voting machines are secure and accurate. DREs are those computer touch-screen ballots that experts in the field used to call “Push and Pray”—you push a button for a candidate and pray it gets recorded and tallied.
It’s like trusting your iPhone to pick your President. “Siri, cast my ballot.” No thanks.
Because of these concerns, voting machines are now designed to reduce the push-and-pray problem. Today, states are installing machines with all kinds of futuristic high-tech safety software built in so no one can fiddle with the count.
Ohio, for example, has machines with software that can alert officials to hacking attempts. Even better: your individual ballot can’t be disappeared because the machines can take a photo of each ballot, and time-stamp and order all ballots so they can be re-counted just like paper ballots.
How cool is that, eh?
But this is not cool: in Ohio, the protection software was turned off.
Ohio counties had turned off the anti-hacking software.
And they had also turned off the ballot imaging, erasing the time-stamped photos.
Ohio elections officials claimed it would be too difficult, too complex, to correct the problem at the last minute. Activating the safety software would “cause chaos,” the officials told the judge.
Really? Professor Fitrakis showed me the machines’ instructions. When the ES&S iVotronic machine is first turned on, it asks if you want to engage the anti-tampering software, yes or no. It also asks, Do you want to keep and time-stamp ballot images, yes or no.
How is that difficult? Expensive? Complex?
The judge told Fitrakis to go fly.
Judges in Ohio are elected. On these very machines. In other words, the voting machines of Ohio are deliberately programmed to have amnesia, to forget who voted for whom.
(And Lord knows what other states have turned off these security measures. Not many states are lucky enough to have a Professor Bob on the ballot beat.)
Am I saying the Ohio electronic computer vote is fixed?
I don’t know. How can I?
As an old gumshoe, I have a simple question: If you are not committing a crime, why are you working so hard to cover it up?
Greg Palast (Rolling Stone, Guardian, BBC) is the author of The New York Times bestsellers, Billionaires & Ballot Bandits and the book and documentary,
The Best Democracy Money Can Buy.
His latest film is Vigilante: Georgia's Vote Suppression Hitman
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