Kerry Won: Here Are the Facts
E-Vote Scandal: Votes Vulnerable

November 16, 2004

Diebold CEO Walden O'Dell, acting as a Bush fundraiser, wrote to fellow Republicans in August 2003: "I am committed to helping Ohio deliver its electoral votes to the president." Credit: Edge graphic
Kerry Won: Here Are the Facts.
By Greg Palast / (November 5, 2004)

As a journalist examining that messy sausage called American democracy, it's my job to tell you who got the most votes in the deciding states. Tuesday, in Ohio and New Mexico, it was John Kerry.

Most voters in Ohio thought they were voting for Kerry. At 1:05 AM Wednesday morning, CNN's exit poll showed Kerry beating Bush among Ohio women by 53 percent to 47 percent. The exit polls were later combined with -- and therefore contaminated by -- the tabulated results, ultimately becoming a mirror of the apparent actual vote. Kerry also defeated Bush among Ohio's male voters 51 percent to 49 percent. Unless a third gender voted in Ohio, Kerry took the state.

So what's going on here? Answer: the exit polls are accurate. Pollsters ask, "Who did you vote for?" Unfortunately, they don't ask the crucial, question, "Was your vote counted?" The voters don't know.

Although the exit polls show that most voters in Ohio punched cards for Kerry-Edwards, thousands of these votes were simply not recorded. This was predictable and it was predicted. [See, "An Election Spoiled Rotten," November 1.]

Once again, at the heart of the Ohio uncounted vote game are, I'm sorry to report, hanging chads and pregnant chads -- plus some other ballot tricks old and new.

The Ohio election was not decided by the voters but by something called "spoilage." Typically in the US, about 3 percent of the vote is voided, just thrown away, not recorded. When the bobble-head boobs on the tube tell you Ohio or any state was won by 51 percent to 49 percent, don't you believe it ... it has never happened, because the total never reaches a neat 100 percent. The television totals simply subtract the spoiled vote.

Whose Votes Are Discarded?
And not all votes spoil equally. Most of those votes come from African-American and minority precincts. We saw this in Florida in 2000. Exit polls showed Gore with a plurality of at least 50,000, but it didn't match the official count. That's because Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris excluded 179,855 "spoiled" votes. In Florida, as in Ohio, most of these votes lost were cast on punch cards where the hole wasn't punched through completely -- leaving a 'hanging chad' -- or was punched extra times. Whose cards were discarded? Statisticians investigating spoilage for the government calculated that 54 percent of the ballots thrown in the dumpster were cast by black folks.

And Florida is typical. The majority of ballots thrown out (there will be nearly 2 million tossed out from Tuesday's election) will have been cast by African American and other minority citizens.

Ohio is one of the last states in America to still use the vote-spoiling punch-card machines. As Ohio Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell wrote before the election, "the possibility of a close election with punch cards as the state's primary voting device invites a Florida-like calamity."

But this week, Blackwell, a rabidly partisan Republican, has warmed up to the result of sticking with machines that have a habit of eating Democratic votes. When asked if he feared being this year's Katherine Harris, Blackwell noted that Ms. Fix-it's efforts landed her a seat in Congress.

Exactly how many votes were lost to spoilage this time? Blackwell's office won't say, though the law requires it be reported. Hmm. But we know that last time, the total of Ohio votes discarded reached a democracy-damaging 1.96 percent -- that's 110,000 votes -- overwhelmingly Democratic.

The Impact of Challenges
First and foremost, Kerry was had by chads. But the Democrat wasn't punched out by punch cards alone. There were also the 'challenges.' That's a polite word for the Republican Party of Ohio's use of an old Ku Klux Klan technique: the attempt to block thousands of voters-of-color at the polls. In Ohio, Wisconsin and Florida, the GOP laid plans for poll workers to ambush citizens under arcane laws -- almost never used -- allowing party-designated poll watchers to finger individual voters and demand they be denied a ballot. The Ohio courts were horrified and federal law prohibits targeting of voters where race is a factor in the challenge. But our Supreme Court was prepared to let Republicans stand in the voting booth door.

In the end, the challenges were not overwhelming, but they were there. Many apparently resulted in voters getting funky "provisional" ballots -- a kind of voting placebo -- which may or may not be counted. Blackwell estimates there were 175,000; Democrats say 250,000. Pick your number. But as challenges were aimed at minorities, no one doubts these are, again, overwhelmingly Democratic. Count them up, add in the spoiled punch cards, and the totals begin to match the exit polls; and, golly, you've got yourself a new president. Remember, Bush won by 136,483 votes in Ohio.

Enchanted State's Enchanted Vote
Now, on to New Mexico, where a Kerry plurality -- if all votes are counted -- is more obvious still. Before the election, in, I wrote, "John Kerry is down by several thousand votes in New Mexico, though not one ballot has yet been counted."

How did that happen? It's the spoilage, stupid; and the provisional ballots. CNN said George Bush took New Mexico by 11,620 votes. Again, the network total added up to that miraculous, and non-existent, '100 percent' of ballots cast.

New Mexico reported in the last race a spoilage rate of 2.68 percent, votes lost almost entirely in Hispanic, Native American and poor precincts -- Democratic turf. From Tuesday's vote, assuming the same ballot-loss rate, we can expect to see 18,000 ballots in the spoilage bin.

Spoilage has a very Democratic look in New Mexico. Hispanic voters in the Enchanted State, who voted more than two to one for Kerry, are five times as likely to have their vote spoil as a white voter. Counting these uncounted votes would easily overtake the Bush 'plurality.'

Already, the election-bending effects of spoilage are popping up in the election stats, exactly where we'd expect them: in heavily Hispanic areas controlled by Republican elections officials. Chaves County, in the "Little Texas" area of New Mexico, has a 44 percent Hispanic population, plus African Americans and Native Americans, yet George Bush "won" there 68 percent to 31 percent.

I spoke with Chaves' Republican county clerk before the election, and he told me that this huge spoilage rate among Hispanics simply indicated that such people simply can't make up their minds on the choice of candidate for president. Oddly, these brown people drive across the desert to register their indecision in a voting booth.

Now, let's add in the effect on the New Mexico tally of provisional ballots. "They were handing them out like candy," Albuquerque journalist Renee Blake reported of provisional ballots. About 20,000 were given out. Who got them?

Santiago Juarez who ran the "Faithful Citizenship" program for the Catholic Archdiocese in New Mexico, told me that "his" voters, poor Hispanics, whom he identified as solid Kerry supporters, were handed the iffy provisional ballots. Hispanics were given provisional ballots, rather than the countable kind "almost religiously," he said, when there was the least question about a voter's identification. Some voters, Santiago said, were simply turned away.

Your Kerry Victory Party
So we can call Ohio and New Mexico for John Kerry -- if we count all the votes. But that won't happen. Despite the Democratic Party's pledge, the leadership this time gave in to racial disenfranchisement once again.

Why? No doubt, the Democrats know darn well that counting all the spoiled and provisional ballots will require the cooperation of Ohio's Secretary of State, Blackwell. He will ultimately decide which spoiled and provisional ballots get tallied. Blackwell, hankering to step into Kate Harris' political pumps, is unlikely to permit anything close to a full count. Also, Democratic leadership knows darn well the media would punish the party for demanding a full count.

I used to write a column for the Guardian papers in London. Several friends have asked me if I will again leave the country. In light of the failure--a second time--to count all the votes, that won't be necessary. My country has left me.

Greg Palast, contributing editor to Harper's magazine, investigated the manipulation of the vote for BBC Television's Newsnight. The documentary, Bush Family Fortunes, based on his New York Times bestseller, The Best Democracy Money Can Buy, is now available on DVD. View a clip at
To receive Greg’s investigative reports click here:
For the complete version of this essay, go to:

Election-fraud watchdog Bev Harris is concerned that the software used in Broward County, Florida, could only handle 32,000 votes per precinct -- after that, the system started "counting backward." According to the official election results posted on the Palm Beach County website, 542,835 ballots were cast for a presidential candidate -- but only 454,427 people actually voted (including absentee). Credit:
E-Vote Scandal: Votes Vulnerable
By Tom Flocco / (November 2, 2004)

Evidence of vote-tampering in King County, Washington's September 14 primary was discovered in a response to a public records request by the founder of Black Box Voting (BBV), a non-profit election watch-dog and research group. BBV's Bev Harris and her associate Andy Stephenson found three hours missing from the audit log -- between 9:52 PM and 1:31 AM. They also acquired modem "trouble slips" that indicated that the remote phone modem connections were not operating properly.

The trouble slips accidentally revealed King County's modem access number, which would have allowed anyone to take control of the county's central server on election night from any isolated location. "We now have evidence that certainly looks like altering a computerized voting system during a real election; and it happened just six weeks ago."

King County elections director Dean Logan told the Seattle Times that he was not going to connect phone modems to Diebold's Global Election Systems (GEMS) software -- used in optical scan voting machines counting some 50% of the Bush-Kerry votes in 37 states and also in electronic touch-screen machines predominately used in battleground states like Florida).

Logan said the missing three hours during the consolidation of the critical late evening election-night vote tally occurred because no reports were printed, according to Harris. But the BBV founder questioned Logan's assertion because "we have summary reports from 10:34 pm, 11:38 pm, 12:11 am, 12:46 am, and 1:33 am. These reports were during the time he said no reports were run. Either the software malfunctioned, or audit log items (possible remote intrusions) were deleted."

[However, Harris and Stephenson] observed 24 modems hooked up to the GEMS DigiBoard on September 14 and found instructions issued to poll workers to use modems. Harris has found that the modem setup to the Diebold central tabulator is insecure and is subject to vote-tampering and the remote phone hook-ups are so precarious that "any county official who uses the Diebold Remote Access Server (RAS) setup on their un-patched Windows central tabulator on election night -- together with modems and their DigiBoard -- is inviting the world to take control of the election while sitting in their living room."

"The audit log is a computer-generated automatic record similar to the "black box" in an airplane, that automatically records access to the Diebold GEMS central tabulator (unless you go through the back door)," said Harris.

Harris added that this [outside] electronic control... "is invisible to the county supervisor; and party observers cannot see the intrusion. It leaves no record, even in the audit log, if you take advantage of back doors like VBA vote-shaving scripts which cannot be disabled in Windows 2000 and Windows XP -- the operating system used with Diebold central vote tabulators."

The Central Tabulator Audit Log is a Federal Elections Commission mandated security requirement that detects vote-tampering areas such as opening up the vote file, previewing or printing out interim vote results, but especially changing candidate definitions -- a method that can be used to change votes.

Hacking the Vote Is So Simple a Monkey Could Do It
Diebold says altering its audit log is impossible. But Diebold's own internal memos show that the company has known the audit log could be corrupted. Harris and Stephenson said they actually taught a chimpanzee to delete Diebold's GEMS audit records using an illicit "back-door" to get into the program.

Harris and Stephenson's web site,, has videos and files containing:
  • copies of Diebold's GEMS audit log,
  • summary reports now missing from the stamped, dated and signed audit log,
  • election director Dean Logan's press conference just days ago on October 29 where Dean explained why the three hours were missing, and
  • Diebold principal engineer Ken Clark's October, 2001 internal memo titled "Altering the audit log -- King County is famous for it."

    "The only thing protecting King County from electronic rape via remote access on election night (in September) was the so-called secrecy of the access phone number," she said. But Harris and Stephenson found the secret number in the trouble slips and could have hacked the election themselves. Harris warned all county supervisors in November's presidential election to "disconnect those modems."

    Excerpted from Tom Flocco, 3553 West Chester Pike, # 149,, Newtown Square, PA 19073. Copyright ©2002 and 2003 under the DMCA by Posted in accordance with Title 17, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

    For more information contact:

  • Home | Background | News | Links | Donate | Contact Us |

    (510) THE-EDGE (843-3343)
    E-mail us at