Originally published August 3 2008
Voting Rights Destruction (Part 2): Lack of Transparency
by Heidi Stevenson
(NaturalNews) It is not enough to have the right to vote. The people also need to know that their votes are counted in an open and fair manner. Without that transparency, there is no way to be sure that an election was fair or that one's vote mattered. The result of that lack is a people who have no faith in their government, who cannot trust that members of the legislature or any other administration position truly respond to them. There can be no assumption that the government is supported by its citizens.
Such a state must rule by force, as it does not rule by the sufferance of the people -- even if the people actually did vote for their leaders. Without the ability to see and document that all votes are counted, there is no reason for the people to believe that their leaders are who they selected.
That is where the United States is heading. The following tale, which just happened in California's Monterey County during the June 3rd primary election, is a case in point. Jim March, a member of the Board of Directors of Black Box Voting, wrote of this incident, "The collapse of transparency was deliberate and systematic, and violated state laws, the certification rules promoted by the California Secretary of State's office and democratic principles in general."
Brian Rothenberger and Jim March presented letters to Monterey County, California Registrar of Voters, Linda Tulett, who is the chief election official for the county. The letters stated their credentials, as outlined by California's Election Code 15004. As required, they represent a qualified political party and there are only two of them, the number specified by law. Code 15004 is quite clear about what they are entitled to observe in elections:
(a) "...the preparation and operation of the tabulating devices, their programming and testing, and have the representatives in attendance at any or all phases of the election."
(b) The representatives may be present at "the central counting place or places... to check and review the preparation and operation of the tabulating devices, their programming and testing, and have the representatives in attendance at any or all phases of the election."
The elections official may limit the number of observers to a total of ten, but in this case, the only people attempting to observe were Rothenberger and March, as representatives of a bonafide organization according to Code 15004, and Lane, who wished to observe according to Code 15204, which allows members of the public. The law does not provide any means for an election official to refuse observation status to anyone who meets the requirements, as the Green Party representatives clearly did.
Monterey County has an elections observation manual, which was reviewed by Rothenberger, March, and Lane. It states that no cameras may be used, giving as reason the privacy of staff. March noted, though, that this argument is specious, since the areas involved have ongoing video cameras, which produce video that is available to the public via county public records.
On first meeting with the Registrar on May 31st, Tulett indicated she needed time to study Election Code 15004 and speak with the county's counsel about it. March and Lane returned on June 2nd, the day before the election, about 8:30 in the morning, and spoke with her again. She stated that she hadn't yet spoken with the attorney, so they rescheduled for 4:00 that afternoon.
When they finally saw the room where tabulation was to occur, it was through an observation window. That cursory view noted serious problems:
* Network cables ran through the floor and out of sight. They could have been diverted to another computer system or the Internet. There was no way to know without further inspection.
* There was a "huge wiring cluster" associated with the building's internet connection building in the same room. March says that "it would have been easy to cross-wire the voting systems to the Internet through the Cisco router built into that wiring stack." He is qualified to make that statement, as he is a computer technician by profession.
March asked to photograph the room, since there were no personnel in it, so privacy was not an issue. The request was denied.
Election Day Inspection
When March and Lane arrived at 2:15 p.m. on the day of the election, June 3rd, they were accompanied by George Riley of the Green Party and Jeanne Turner of SAVElections, an organization that monitors public elections. By the terminology of Code 15004, they are entitled to observe.
Tulett told them of her plan for observation. She was only willing to allow them to confirm version numbers and timestamps of the software manufactured by Sequoia. Nothing else. She claimed it was adequate to meet the definition of "device", the term used in the Election Code.
March said that the term refers to the computer and system that the software runs on, that California's rules required that the hardware and its environment had to be certified, too. Tulett still refused to allow further inspection.
After reviewing the Sequoia version number through the observation window, March asked to see what programs had been loaded onto the system. The request was refused, but Tulett agreed to ask her counsel. She then told them that they must leave the observation window and wait in the lobby.
They were left there for 1-1/2 hours. Bored and thinking they could better use their time elsewhere, March, along with Riley of the Green Party, gave a staff member their cell phone number, asking to be called when Tulett was ready.
To their surprise, the employee did not return to Tulett's office. Instead, he went straight to the tabulation room. This alarmed them. Why would he look for the Registrar there, if she was consulting with counsel? On the employee's return, they asked to take another look at the tabulation room. He hesitated, but agreed to let them.
March noted that one of the monitors was no longer blank. On moving closer, he saw that it was the Microsoft Windows Add/Remove Programs window. He confirmed that Riley saw the same thing. As March wrote, "At this point I was beyond 'angry'. I am sure I said something to the effect of 'those bastards have kept us cooling our heels out there while they snuck in the back of the room and tampered with exactly what we had made a request to see, out of our sight'." He took a photo with his cell phone, but unfortunately, the picture didn't turn out.
An employee demanded the phone, though March refused. He ordered them to leave, which they refused to do. March was then threatened with arrest and the other members of the group -- Lane, Turner, and Riley -- were ordered to leave, being told that there was no reason to stay, since nothing was happening. Imagine that! Their colleague has been threatened with arrest, but nothing was going on. Riley did not leave.
They were watched by security guards while waiting for sheriff deputies to arrive. Every few minutes, they were ordered to leave. Over an hour later, the deputies arrived. After Tulett, upper staff, and the county attorney spent 15 minutes in a "high level huddle", as March described it, Tulett approached March and Riley, saying that they could see the software loaded on the machines.
Clearly, they had learned that they had no choice but to allow further observation. But this was not the end of the obfuscation. When asked if they were still at risk of arrest, Tulett never responded. March and Riley were rejoined by Lane and Turner.
Further Examination Uncovers More Issues
Tulett made it as difficult as possible. She stood at the door of the room, relating requests by March to the county representatives inside the room, who performed requests.
March had a great deal of difficulty trying to get instructions entered into the system by an employee, whom March said "pretended not to know how to run MS-Windows". They learned that Microsoft Access was on the system. This program can be used to alter the results of the election.
March asked that the following command be performed:
Had the command been performed, it would have quickly determined whether there was a cross connection to the Internet. It wasn't performed. The man who was implementing the commands that March was requesting had claimed -- or as March states, "pretended" -- to have no knowledge of Windows. He did, however, have knowledge of the implications of the much more technical ping command. He refused to perform it. So did all others in the room.
Tulett halted all testing at that point.
Other points noted by March:
* He saw USB memory sticks used to transfer data between machines. At one point, he saw a high-level employee attempt to hide the fact that he was taking one out of the room. Questions put to him about it went unanswered. Data could have been changed.
* The first attempt to print out mail-in votes supposedly failed. The reason was unknown. These "failed " printouts were taken out of the room to Tulett's office. There was a heated discussion, but it was too far away to be clear about what was said. The second time a set of printouts was done, they too were carried to Tulett's office. A thumbs-up signal was given, resulting in their release as the official report.
* A memory card was taken to Tulett's office. It could have been innocent, or might have been done to alter votes. The point is that we will never know.
* Not even the most minimal testing of the computer system by the observers was allowed. This is a violation of Elections Code 15004.
* Being threatened with arrest made them fearful and was a violation of their rights. If it had been successful, much of the information gleaned would have remained hidden.
* The policy of not allowing photography is not applied equally. A June 5th issue of the local paper carried a photo of staff members working on the election.
* Not carrying memory storage devices openly -- not to mention not recording the fact that they're being moved -- is, at best, a subversion of transparency in elections.
* The installation of MS Access is a clear violation of election equipment certification. Its presence makes it a simple matter to change any and all results. As March says, it is "widely understood to be a 'burglary tool for elections' and has no business being anywhere near a live voting system, period."
Were the people's votes in Monterey's primary election on June 3rd counted? Who knows? One must assume the worst. Otherwise, why would there be so much subterfuge to keep observers from seeing? The burden of proof for an honest and transparent counting of the votes must be on the official's responsible for it. When the public is locked out and legitimate observers are subverted, then the people can only assume the worst.
Keep in mind that this is merely one location in the United States. This sort of thing is happening all over the nation. Will your vote be counted?
Will you even be allowed to cast a vote? Further articles on Voting Rights Destruction will examine whether you'll even be able to get to the point of wondering if your vote is counted.
About the author* Heidi Stevenson, BSc, DIHom, FBIH
* Fellow, British Institute of Homeopathy
* Gaia Health (http://www.gaia-health.com)
* The author is a homeopath who became concerned with medically-induced harm as a result of her own experiences and those of family members. She says that allopathic medicine is the arena that best describes the motto, "Buyer beware."
* Heidi Stevenson provides information about medically-induced disease and disability, along with incisive well-researched articles on major issues in the modern world, so members of the public can protect themselves.
She can be reached through her website: www.gaia-health.com
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