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January 9, 2008

Blogs are bursting over the fact that ALL the major pollsters, including Hillary’s and Barack’s internal polling, had Obama winning New Hampshire’s presidential primary election. Yet in a surreal recurring nightmare, official results say otherwise. Here is what hand-count advocates are saying.  

“I don’t trust in your statistics; I ain’t got no crystal ball. If I had a million dollars, well, I’d, I’d spend it all to Hand Count Paper Ballots. Toss those vote machines away. Pay my neighbors to guard the ballot box all day…” Santeria Ballots (with much apology to Sublime).

Blogs are bursting over the fact that ALL the major pollsters, including Hillary’s and Barack’s internal polling, had Obama winning New Hampshire’s presidential primary election.

Yet in a surreal recurring nightmare, official results say otherwise.

Votes that are recorded and counted in secret only and always produce inherent uncertainty. There’s no way around it. It’s why election experts from around the globe, when describing democratic elections, call for a secret vote and a transparent vote count.

Specifically as to vote counting, Goodwin-Gill notes in Free and Fair Elections,“votes are tallied in a process that inspires confidence in the electorate.”(p.152) But with an ever-expanding mountain of scientific condemnation of software-driven election systems, there is no basis for confidence in results from software-driven machines.

Because 1/5 of New Hampshire’s ballots are counted by hand, we can compare results from hand-counted precincts with computerized results. Lori Price, of Citizens for Legitimate Government, produced that comparison, which shows that in hand-counted precincts, Barack Obama beat Hillary Clinton 39-35%. Ron Paul’s War Room is questioning the results in this 6-minute video, asking for a hand count.

Bob Koehler (Tribune Media Services) writes:

The fact is, whatever actually happened in New Hampshire voting booths on Tuesday, our elections are horrifically insecure. For instance, Bev Harris, of the highly respected voting watchdog organization Black Box Voting, recently wrote that the Diebold 1.94w optical scan machines used by 80% of New Hampshire’s voters are “the exact same make, model and version hacked in the Black Box Voting project in Leon County (Florida)” a few years ago. They haven’t been upgraded; the security problems haven’t been fixed.

This 10-minute video shows LHS’s president lying about the fixes to these optical scans, and it shows how easily optical scan machines can thwart the authentic vote.

Bev Harris reports:

LHS Associates programs every single voting machine in New Hampshire, Connecticut, almost all of Massachusetts, Vermont, and Maine. But did state officials in five New England states ever do a criminal background check on this company’s executives? Do the laws of these five states even ALLOW them to hire convicted criminals for services paid for by the state? What about over 500 local towns and municipalities?

According to my sources, LHS Marketing and Sales Director Kenneth Hajjar … pled guilty to “sale / CND” and was sentenced to 12 months in the Rockingham County Correctional facility, and fined $2000. As things go for the politically connected, he was then given a deferred sentence and $1000 of his fine was suspended.

Hajjar doesn’t limit his involvement in the voting machine business to sales. According to an interview conducted by Brad Friedman, Hajjar totes memory cards around in the trunk of his car and defends the boggling concept of swapping out memory cards during the middle of elections.

Nancy Tobi, of Democracy for New Hampshire, notes in an email:

We do have a lot of questions. But we will never have answers as long as we have privatized secret vote counting. The questions are out there and maybe eventually will cause enough people to want to stop asking the questions and get rid of corporate-run elections.

Why do the powers-that-be insist we use hackable voting machines? When experts tell us that optical scan systems are just as hackable as touch-screen systems, why is anyone using either? Why invoke inherent uncertainty in reported results?

Dave Berman describes this idea in two ways:

“[W]e have the intentional creation and perpetuation of inherent uncertainty. It serves the power structure to keep the masses divided. Wedge issues are just the most superficial and obvious ways. More insidious and apparently not as easy to recognize is the rift in the perception of reality created by inherent uncertainty.”

He explains further, in tonight’s email to me:

I think inherent uncertainty is intentionally created through various means including sheer laziness and false balance, but also in situations where “truth” can never really be known – secret vote counting, for example. Whatever is published is presented as if it were a certain fact….

Leaving it to the media consumer to decide also facilitates a rift in the perception of reality. This is the linchpin of it all, since matters of fact are forcibly devolved into differences of opinion that can never be resolved (since we can never know the true outcome of any election counted in secret).

Instead of fighting about who was right, the pollsters or themachines, we are better served by removing machines from public elections and reaching conclusive outcomes – results that can be repeatedly verified by anyone.

We do this by hand-counted ballots at the precinct, on election night, before all who wish to observe. Results are then posted at the precinct for all to verify.

There are several hundred precincts in the nation that still hand count paper ballots, on election night. It takes 4-5 hours, depending on the number of counting teams. It’s done at the precinct level, which handles about 1,000 registered voters. A fresh team of counters can be pooled from the list of registered voters, and the audit verification is part of the hand-counting process.

Hand-counting is simple – we’ve been doing it for over 125 years on a mass scale. It’s the least expensive, and the easiest to secure from fraud. It is a “high order civic duty” according to Sally Castleman, Executive Director of Election Defense Alliance.

Transparent vote counting will yield inherent certainty, since any group of people can count the voter-prepared ballots to arrive at the same conclusive outcomes. This is what we deserve and demand.

Call or write your representative and demand these machines be banned from use in the United States. Stand up for transparent vote counting that leads to conclusive results.Stand up for democracy. Do it now.