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From Brian Behlendorf <br...@hyperreal.org>
Subject Florida election shenanigans caught on tape
Date Fri, 19 Nov 2004 21:04:32 GMT

This may be completely inappropriate for this list... but this, is so, *wrong*. 
And no matter what side of the political spectrum you sit on, I know 
transparency and auditability and trust is important to you - that's why you're 
here at Apache.  And yes, this is news; not a rehash of what you heard 
second-hand was debunked, or whatever.


http://www.commondreams.org/views04/1118-22.htm

Published on Thursday, November 18, 2004 by CommonDreams.org
'Stinking Evidence' of Possible Election Fraud Found in Florida
by Thom Hartmann
    

   There was something odd about the poll tapes.

   A "poll tape" is the phrase used to describe a printout from an
optical scan voting machine made the evening of an election, after the
machine has read all the ballots and crunched the numbers on its
internal computer. It shows the total results of the election in that
location. The printout is signed by the polling officials present in
that precinct/location, and then submitted to the county elections
office as the official record of how the people in that particular
precinct had voted. (Usually each location has only one single optical
scanner/reader, and thus produces only one poll tape.)

   Bev Harris of www.blackboxvoting.org, the erstwhile investigator of
electronic voting machines, along with people from Florida Fair
Elections, showed up at Florida's Volusia County Elections Office on
the afternoon of Tuesday, November 16, 2004, and asked to see, under a
public records request, each of the poll tapes for the 100+ optical
scanners in the precincts in that county. The elections workers -
having been notified in advance of her request - handed her a set of
printouts, oddly dated November 15 and lacking signatures.

   Bev pointed out that the printouts given her were not the original
poll tapes and had no signatures, and thus were not what she'd
requested. Obligingly, they told her that the originals were held in
another location, the Elections Office's Warehouse, and that since it
was the end of the day they should meet Bev the following morning to
show them to her.

   Bev showed up bright and early the morning of Wednesday the 17th -
well before the scheduled meeting - and discovered three of the
elections officials in the Elections Warehouse standing over a table
covered with what looked like poll tapes. When they saw Bev and her
friends, Bev told me in a telephone interview less than an hour later,
"They immediately shoved us out and slammed the door."

   In a way, that was a blessing, because it led to the stinking evidence.

   "On the porch was a garbage bag," Bev said, "and so I looked in it
and, and lo and behold, there were public record tapes."

   Thrown away. Discarded. Waiting to be hauled off.

   "It was technically stinking, in fact," Bev added, "because what they
had done was to have thrown some of their polling tapes, which are the
official records of the election, into the garbage. These were the ones
signed by the poll workers. These are something we had done an official
public records request for."

   When the elections officials inside realized that the people outside
were going through the trash, they called the police and one came out
to challenge Bev.

   Kathleen Wynne, a www.blackboxvoting.org investigator, was there.

   "We caught the whole thing on videotape," she said. "I don't think
you'll ever see anything like this - Bev Harris having a tug of war
with an election worker over a bag of garbage, and he held onto it and
she pulled on it, and it split right open, spilling out those poll
tapes. They were throwing away our democracy, and Bev wasn't going to
let them do it."

   As I was interviewing Bev just moments after the tussle, she had to
get off the phone, because, "Two police cars just showed up."

   She told me later in the day, in an on-air interview, that when the
police arrived, "We all had a vigorous debate on the merits of my
public records request."

   The outcome of that debate was that they all went from the Elections
Warehouse back to the Elections Office, to compare the original,
November 2 dated and signed poll tapes with the November 15 printouts
the Elections Office had submitted to the Secretary of State. A camera
crew from www.votergate.tv met them there, as well.

   And then things got even odder.

   "We were sitting there comparing the real [signed, original] tapes
with the [later printout] ones that were given us," Bev said, "and
finding things missing and finding things not matching, when one of the
elections employees took a bin full of things that looked like garbage
- that looked like polling tapes, actually - and passed by and
disappeared out the back of the building."

   This provoked investigator Ellen Brodsky to walk outside and check the
garbage of the Elections Office itself. Sure enough - more original,
signed poll tapes, freshly trashed.

   "And I must tell you," Bev said, "that whatever they had taken out
[the back door] just came right back in the front door and we said,
'What are these polling place tapes doing in your dumpster?'"

   A November 18 call to the Volusia County Elections Office found that
Elections Supervisor Deanie Lowe was unavailable and nobody was willing
to speak on the record with an out-of-state reporter. However, The
Daytona Beach News (in Volusia County), in a November 17th article by
staff writer Christine Girardin, noted, "Harris went to the Department
of Elections' warehouse on State Road 44 in DeLand on Tuesday to
inspect original Nov. 2 polling place tapes, after being given a set of
reprints dated Nov. 15. While there, Harris saw Nov. 2 polling place
tapes in a garbage bag, heightening her concern about the integrity of
voting records."

   The Daytona Beach News further noted that, "[Elections Supervisor]
Lowe confirmed Wednesday some backup copies of tapes from the Nov. 2
election were destined for the shredder," but pointed out that,
according to Lowe, that was simply because there were two sets of tapes
produced on election night, each signed. "One tape is delivered in one
car along with the ballots and a memory card," the News reported. "The
backup tape is delivered to the elections office in a second car."

   Suggesting that duplicates don't need to be kept, Lowe claims that
Harris didn't want to hear an explanation of why some signed poll tapes
would be in the garbage. "She's not wanting to listen to an
explanation," Lowe told the News of Harris. "She has her own ideas."

   But the Ollie North action in two locations on two days was only half
of the surprise that awaited Bev and her associates. When they compared
the discarded, signed, original tapes with the recent printouts
submitted to the state and used to tabulate the Florida election
winners, Harris says a disturbing pattern emerged.

   "The difference was hundreds of votes in each of the different places
we examined," said Bev, "and most of those were in minority areas."

   When I asked Bev if the errors they were finding in precinct after
precinct were random, as one would expect from technical, clerical, or
computer errors, she became uncomfortable.

   "You have to understand that we are non-partisan," she said. "We're
not trying to change the outcome of an election, just to find out if
there was any voting fraud."

   That said, Bev added: "The pattern was very clear. The anomalies
favored George W. Bush. Every single time."

   Of course finding possible voting "anomalies" in one Florida county
doesn't mean they'll show up in all counties. It's even conceivable
there are innocent explanations for both the mismatched counts and
trashed original records; this story undoubtedly will continue to play
out. And, unless further investigation demonstrates a pervasive and
statewide trend toward "anomalous" election results in many of
Florida's counties, odds are none of this will change the outcome of
the election (which exit polls showed John Kerry winning in Florida).

   Nonetheless, Bev and her merry band are off to hit another county.

   As she told me on her cell phone while driving toward their next
destination, "We just put Volusia County and their lawyers on notice
that they need to continue to keep a number of documents under seal,
including all of the memory cards to the ballot boxes, and all of the
signed poll tapes."

   Why?

   "Simple," she said. "Because we found anomalies indicative of fraud."


Thom Hartmann (thom at thomhartmann.com) is a Project Censored
Award-winning best-selling author and host of a nationally syndicated
daily progressive talk show. www.thomhartmann.com His most recent books
are "The Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight," "Unequal Protection: The Rise
of Corporate Dominance and the Theft of Human Rights," "We The People:
A Call To Take Back America," and "What Would Jefferson Do?: A Return
To Democracy."

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