in the USA:
Once upon a time there were two brothers: Bob and Todd Urosevich. In the 1980's, with the financial backing of the right-wing extremist Christian billionaire Howard Ahmanson, Bob and Todd founded a company called American Information Systems (AIS) that built voting machines. They were also certified to count votes.
It is interesting to note that back then there was no federal agency with regulatory authority or oversight of the U.S. voting machine industry. Even more interesting is the fact that this is still true today. Not even the Federal Election Commission (FEC) has a complete list of all the companies that count votes in U.S. elections.
But let us get back to our story....
In 1992 a conservative Nebraskan fellow called Chuck Hagel became chairman of AIS as well as chairman of the McCarthy Group, a private investment bank. This all happened shortly after he stopped working for Bush Sr.'s administration as Head of the Private Sector Council.
In 1995 Hagel resigned from AIS and a year later ran for Senate, with the founder of the McCarthy Group as his campaign manager.
In 1996 Chuck Hagel became the first Republican to ever win a Nebraska senatorial campaign in 24 years, carrying virtually every demographic group, including African American precincts that had never voted Republican. The only company certified to count votes in Nebraska at the time was AIS.
But getting back to our two brothers Urosevich....
In 1997 Bob and Todd decide to buy the Dallas-based Business Records Corp. (BRC) and merge it with AIS. BRC was partially owned by Cronus Industries, a company with connections to the oil- and mineral-rich Hunt brothers of Texas.
The company created from this merger was Electronic Systems Software (ES&S). Today ES&S is the largest voting machine company in the United States and Todd Urosevich is its vice-president.
In 2003 the Senate Ethics Committee forced Chuck Hagel to reveal the fact that he had $1 million to $5 million in investment in the McCarthy Group, a fact he'd previously neglected to mention. The McCarthy Group also happens to be a major owner of ES&S.
But let's get back to the two brothers, shall we? What happened to Bob?
Well, Bob Urosevich became president of Diebold, the corporation that makes the 45,000 touch-screen voting machines used in Ohio and other states. In 2002 Diebold purchased Global Election Systems, a company that itself bought a company called AccuVote back in 1991.
Besides voting machines, Diebold also makes ATMs, checkout scanners, and ticket-dispensing machines, all of which come with an auditable paper trail. (Can you imagine trying to sell Home Depot a checkout scanning system that has no paper trail?)
None of Diebold's electronic voting machines are equipped with vote-verification systems. In other words, you cannot audit these machines.
Diebold is now the third largest voting machine company in America. Together, Diebold and ES&S count 80% of all votes in the United States.
Almost 30% of all votes are on non-auditable touch screen voting machines and computerized ballot scanners will count another 57.6% of the votes, including absentee ballots.
But wait, there more....
The Chairman and CEO of Diebold, "Wally" O' Dell, is a major Bush campaign donor, having helped raise over a quarter million for Bush's 2004 campaign. In an August 2003 fundraising letter to some 100 wealthy friends, Diebold's chairman and CEO wrote,
"I am committed to helping Ohio deliver its electoral votes to the president next year."
Most of Ohio uses Diebold voting machines.
Well, maybe he chose the wrong words. Perhaps the ethics of these voting companies are beyond reproach. Let us see.
During the 2000 presidential elections, Diebold made 16,000 presidential votes "vanish" in one Florida county.
Back in 2002 Diebold supplied the state of Georgia with brand new electronic voting machines. That was when incumbent Democratic Governor Ray Barnes was defeated and the Republicans won for the first time in 134 years. The poll results showed an amazing 12-point shift that took place in the last 48 hours.
Diebold was subsequently sued for applying a last-minute code patch to the machines that was never reviewed. In another strange turn of events, that code was also deleted right after the election and the suit fell through.
Earlier this year California sued Diebold for fraud and decertified its voting machines.
But what about the other 20% of the votes? Who counts them?
America's second largest voting corporation is Sequoia Voting Systems. This company is owned by the British company De La Rue, who also owns 20% of the British National Lottery. In 1995 the SEC filed suit against Sequoia for inflating revenue and pre-tax profits.
In 1999 charges were filed by the Justice Department against Sequoia in a massive corruption case that sent top Louisiana state officials to jail for bribery, most of it funneled through the Mob. Sequoia's executives were given immunity in exchange for testimony against state officials.
And in fourth place we have Science Applications International Corporation Fourth (SAIC). This secretive defense contractor became involved in counting American votes through Admiral Bill Owens, former military aide to Dick Cheney.
Despite a history of fraud charges and security lapses in its electronic systems, SAIC is now one of the largest Pentagon and CIA contractors.
Then there are some bit players.
Last year, two of Diebold's top executives, Howard Van Pelt and Larry Ensminger, moved over to Advanced Voting Solutions, which is the new name of the scandal-ridden voting company Shoup Voting Solutions.
In 1971 Shoup Voting Machine Co. had been indicted for bribing politicians in Florida. In 1979 Ransom Shoup was convicted of conspiracy and obstruction of justice during an FBI inquiry into a Philadelphia election. Shoup got a mere three-year suspended sentence.
In the meantime, Philadelphia bought new voting machines from a new voting machine company, Danaher-Guardian. But this company only sells voting machines formerly known as the "Shouptronic."
But wait, there's more....
After the 2000 election, Cal Tech and MIT conducted a study to find that between 1.5 million and 2 million votes were not counted because of confusing paper ballots or faulty equipment. That's when Bush decided to pass the Help America Vote Act (HAVA).
One of the main goals of the HAVA is the "Replacement of punch card and lever voting machines.” With what? Electronic touch screen voting machines, the ones that cannot be audited.
How do you feel about your vote now?
If you still think everything was played fair and square, check out some these strange Florida election numbers, reported by Buck Mulligan:
Which means 1,392,639 new voters (99% precincts counted, no provisionals or absentees).
So there are 1.39 million new voters in Florida and 77,197 fewer third-party votes but Kerry loses by 376,923 votes? Which would mean he lost a huge majority of them or he lost a huge majority of regular voters, and by much than Gore lost.
The exit polls showed that Kerry had way more Hispanic and Cuban supporters than Gore. Also most exit polls in Florida had Kerry leading, but in the end Kerry lost by a whopping 5%?
Some more suspicious Florida voting statistics are shown here. Brandon Adams of Western Washington U. also did a great job of examining the bizarre Florida voting results. Peter Smith at Ledge of Liberty has done an admirable job of charting the blatant fraud in several states and the Brad Blog has compiled a nice list of sites with more voter fraud information.
And then there's accounts of possible fraud in Ohio that the press, including the Washington Post, is looking into. This was reported by the valiant folks at AMERICABlog. There's even a lovely photo of a Cincinnati poll manager putting used ballots on his Bush/Cheney-stickered truck.
Exit polls discrepancies in Ohio are discussed by Greg Palast at length. Other exit poll oddities in this last election are discussed at the Blue Lemur here and here. These are also dicsussed at eRiposte's election 2004 results.
Not only do the reports indicate that voting machines errors reported consistently favored Bush, but it is also very suspicious that a strong correlation exists between voter discrepancies and the type of voting machine used.
Cuyahoga County of Ohio is also seriously questioning the validity of some goofball election numbers, where the number of votes cast was higher than the number of voters who showed up.
And, by the way, did you know that the international election observers were forbidden access to the Ohio polls? I thought that was interesting as well.
And last, but not least, no discussion about voting machine fraud would be complete without mentioning the extraordinary work of Bev Harris, a 52-year-old grandmother who decided to do a little research after the 2000 Florida voting machines fiasco.
Bev Harris is responsible for exposing the horrifying vulnerabilities of voting machines to the public and continues to fight for vote verifiability at BlackBoxVoting.org. Please help her out with a donation or some of your time!
I hope this has made you think. You mustn't always take what you see at face value. If not common sense, then the lessons of history show us that power tends to stay with the powerful and that the rich tend to stay rich.
Bearing this in mind, the United States was founded by a group of powerful, rich white men. If they had sincerely desired equality for all U.S. citizens then or in the future, they would have simply set a cap on the assets any one entity could own.
And with that, I bid you good night and until next time!
If you have time,
check out this short film about the 2000 Election: