On Thursday 02 December, Democratic Representative John Conyers, Jr. of Michigan, ranking Minority member of the House Judiciary Committee, sent a letter to Ohio Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell outlining a long series of voting irregularities in Ohio during the Presidential election last month. The factual data in that letter, combined with information that has since been brought to light, is the subject of the hearing Conyers and fellow Judiciary Democrats are holding on Wednesday 08 December. TO's William Rivers Pitt is there to cover the event, and will be reporting here throughout the day.

 

t r u t h o u t - The Conyers Hearings on Ohio Vote Fraud

 

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    t r u t h o u t | Conyers Hearings on Ohio Vote Fraud Coverage
    By William Rivers Pitt

    Wednesday 08 December 2004
    4:00PM

    I am back in my hotel now, and must get to work compiling a comprehensive report on the hearing today. It will hopefully be done by tonight, or by early tomorrow.

    This is William Rivers Pitt for truthout, signing off from Washington DC.


    t r u t h o u t | Conyers Hearings on Ohio Vote Fraud Coverage
    By William Rivers Pitt

    Wednesday 08 December 2004
    3:55PM


Michigan Congressman John Conyers, the leading Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, conducted a hearing into voting irregularities in Ohio. The house GOP leadership refused to sanction or recognize the hearing.
(Photo: House.gov)
    Interview at the Conyers hearing with Cliff Arnebeck, Chair of Common Cause Ohio and attorney with The Alliance for Democracy.

    WP: What did you think of the hearing today?

    CA: The best part about it was that it happened. If you look at who was here, you had leaders from the generally white political reform movement, and leaders from the black civil rights movement. This is a powerful coalition. Normally, what has happened it the blacks have fought their civil rights struggle, with their numbers being the predominant part of it. Whites have been fighting for political reform, and talk about it as affecting everyone, but don't have the black roots participating. What Reverend Jackson has done, has said, is, you know, you look foolish talking about your civil rights being abused. We are going to be there with you.

    We have formed a coalition, and are building the infrastructure, not just to address this election, but to continue to address the legislation and litigation issues that arise. We have joined together, and this is a new and powerful coalition. We are not talking about one group having dominance over the other, but a real partnership of the traditional political reform community with the traditional civil rights community, and Reverend Jackson is the one that proposed it, has initiated the organization of it.

    Bill Moss, who was here and testified, has been designated to be the leader of this new coalition for Ohio. He had leading black ministers from all over the state in the room, and was in the office of Common Cause Ohio when this happened. Bill Moss will be the lead plaintiff or contester on the complaint that is going to be filed tomorrow. We are working together, and it's a powerful coalition that will make things happen.

    WP: You are working with Jon Bonifaz on the lawsuit.

    CA: I am working with Mr. Bonifaz in the capacity of a client. I am chair of the legal committee for Common Cause Ohio, and in that capacity I authorized Jon Bonifaz to represent our group. With national approval, he's representing Common Cause in aspects of the recount litigation. Jon Bonifaz is also a professional friend and colleague of mine for many, many years in the political reform movement, so I would have been seeking his counsel and advice, and working with him, even if we didn't have that connection. He is a superb lawyer.

    I have tremendous respect for Jon. As you probably know, Jon is the lawyer that stepped out of the National Voting Rights Institute to file litigation on behalf of Dennis Kucinich and others challenging the constitutionality of the Iraq War Resolution. That was a tremendous job, and I told him that my children and my grandchildren will thank him for having done that.

    WP: What specific information will you be bringing to the lawsuit? You mentioned earlier some data that suggested that the so-called margin of victory for Bush stands to be erased by the information being presented in this suit. Can you elaborate?

    CA: First of all, from a jurisdictional standpoint, an election contest is not simply a proceeding where you say, "Hey, there were these problems. The long lines resulted in at least 15,000 people not voting."

    WP: You're talking about specificity?

    CA: Let's assume you could prove it statistically. You say 15,000 did not vote and the likelihood of their voting would have been 75% for Kerry. That's not enough to contest an election. Unless you have enough in the way of votes so that it actually goes to the question of what was the true outcome, the true result, who was the winner, you can be thrown out for not having proper evidence for an election contest.

    We believe, based upon these multiple levels of statistical analysis, the statistical anomalies, that in that area alone there is a basis to say the result of the election was statistically opposite of what has been reported. That's without even going into the horrendous civil rights violations and saying, "Here's the evidence to show that these people, had they been able to vote, would have voted the other way."

    In the challenge, we will also be...People for the American Way has a separate suit in the court of appeals in Cuyahuga County in Ohio which is designed to readdress this question of the provisional ballots, that they should be counted if they were cast in the right county. We want to raise that, we want to have that counted as part of the proper count.

    WP: When will your suit be filed?

    CA: What I said originally was, "As soon as possible." We were even going to file it before certification. We are certainly hoping, and feeling very pressed, to file it tomorrow, because the meeting of the Electoral College is supposed to occur on the 13th, and we want to be filed and discussing that issue in court sufficiently in advance to affect that situation.

    WP: What can people do to help?

    CA: Get involved. It is really important that the public be aware of this. make it clear to anyone exercising authority in this matter that we are aware of this, so that when the Supreme Court is thinking about it, or Congress is thinking about it, or Bush is thinking about it, or Kerry is thinking about it, they know the public is aroused, the public values its right to vote, the public insists upon honesty in our elections and the rule of law, and we will not tolerate fraud in this important matter.

    Jesse Jackson, as you could see today, is giving tremendous moral leadership to this. He has tremendous credibility. This is a man who walked with Dr. Martin Luther King in the long civil rights struggle that we honor so much in our history now. This is the man who was holding Dr. King when he died.

    WP: Jackson summoned the memory of Selma today while describing this issue.

    CA: I was sitting right next to him when he talked about the fact that there aren't members of Congress with children dying in Iraq, and tears were in his eyes. This is a man who feels this stuff deeply, and when he talks about what is at stake, he means it in the deepest part of his being. It shows, and people respect that, and I feel privileged to be associated with him in this struggle. It is a struggle for democracy, and we can't let anyone get away with treating our elections as though it is too late to change things, as though they got away with it and there is nothing to be done about it.


    t r u t h o u t | Conyers Hearings on Ohio Vote Fraud Coverage
    By William Rivers Pitt

    Wednesday 08 December 2004
    3:05PM

    Interview at the Conyers hearing with Jon Bonifaz, general Counsel of the National Voting Institute, who is bringing a lawsuit against Ohio Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell to see that there be a full recount of the Ohio vote from the November 2004 election.

    WP: Tell me what you thought was the most productive aspect of this hearing.

    JB: I think this moves the ball forward with respect to demonstrating that people in this country, throughout this nation, demand a full accounting of what happened on election day, and demand that all votes be properly counted. Until we get to that point of all votes being properly counted, we cannot declare this to be a legitimate election.

    WP: Tell me about the lawsuit you are pursuing.

    JB: The main focus is that we want a full recount of all votes cast in Ohio for President in the 2004 election. While that recount will continue past the time of the Electoral College meeting on December 13th, we will insist that it be completed in a timely manner, and by January 6th, when that recount is completed, there may in fact be a different set of Electors. I can't say for sure whether that will happen, but a recount is important to ensure the proper counting of every vote.

    WP: What did you think about Rep. Conyers saying he might object to the seating of the Ohio Electors?

    JB: I think if the recount is proceeding beyond January 6th, that it is the duty of any member of Congress, any member of the U.S. Senate, under their sword duty to the constitution, to prevent a President from being sworn in until it has been determined who won the Presidency. You cannot have an election that is called free and fair, and have people sworn into office, while the votes are still being counted.

    WP: What, if anything, can people do to help you?

    JB: They can go to DefendTheRecount.org to sign up for legal updates, and they can join the legal defense fund, and they can demand of their members of Congress and U.S. Senate that there be a full accounting of what happened on election day and a proper counting of all the votes prior to the declaration of the next President of the United States.


    t r u t h o u t | Conyers Hearings on Ohio Vote Fraud Coverage
    By William Rivers Pitt

    Wednesday 08 December 2004
    1:40PM

    The hearing broke up and the room became a mass of people trying to talk to other people. I was struck by how many people were just hugging one another. This incredibly important issue just got an airing in a congressional hearing. It smells like vindication in here.

    I got interviews with Messrs. Bonifaz and Arnebeck, and will post them as soon as I get them transcribed.


    t r u t h o u t | Conyers Hearings on Ohio Vote Fraud Coverage
    By William Rivers Pitt

    Wednesday 08 December 2004
    1:05PM

    I am taking a break to get some air during the Q&A portion. All in all, this has been an incredibly valuable forum, if only because Conyers's investigative team now has a lot more data to work with. That, and all those lawsuits...ho boy.


    20 Amazing Facts about Voting in the U.S.A.
    By Alicia

    Go to Original

    Did you know....

  1. 80% of all votes in America are counted by only two companies: Diebold and ES&S.
        http://www.onlinejournal.com/evoting/042804Landes/042804landes.html
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diebold

  2. There is no federal agency with regulatory authority or oversight of the U.S. voting machine industry.
        http://www.commondreams.org/views02/0916-04.htm
        http://www.onlinejournal.com/evoting/042804Landes/042804landes.html

  3. The vice-president of Diebold and the president of ES&S are brothers.
        http://www.americanfreepress.net/html/private_company.html
        http://www.onlinejournal.com/evoting/042804Landes/042804landes.html

  4. The chairman and CEO of Diebold is a major Bush campaign organizer and donor who wrote in 2003 that he was "committed to helping Ohio deliver its electoral votes to the president next year."
        http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2004/07/28/sunday/main632436.shtml
        http://www.wishtv.com/Global/story.asp?S=1647886

  5. Republican Senator Chuck Hagel used to be chairman of ES&S. He became Senator based on votes counted by ES&S machines.
        http://www.motherjones.com/commentary/columns/2004/03/03_200.html
        http://www.onlinejournal.com/evoting/031004Fitrakis/031004fitrakis.html

  6. Republican Senator Chuck Hagel, long-connected with the Bush family, was recently caught lying about his ownership of ES&S by the Senate Ethics Committee.
        http://www.blackboxvoting.com/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=26
        http://www.hillnews.com/news/012903/hagel.aspx
        http://www.onlisareinsradar.com/archives/000896.php

  7. Senator Chuck Hagel was on a short list of George W. Bush's vice-presidential candidates.
        http://www.businessweek.com/2000/00_28/b3689130.htm
        http://theindependent.com/stories/052700/new_hagel27.html

  8. ES&S is the largest voting machine manufacturer in the U.S. and counts almost 60% of all U.S. votes.
        http://www.essvote.com/HTML/about/about.html
        http://www.onlinejournal.com/evoting/042804Landes/042804landes.html

  9. Diebold's new touch screen voting machines have no paper trail of any votes. In other words, there is no way to verify that the data coming out of the machine is the same as what was legitimately put in by voters.
        http://www.commondreams.org/views04/0225-05.htm
        http://www.itworld.com/Tech/2987/041020evotestates/pfindex.html

  10. Diebold also makes ATMs, checkout scanners, and ticket machines, all of which log each transaction and can generate a paper trail.
        http://www.commondreams.org/views04/0225-05.htm
        http://www.diebold.com/solutions/default.htm

  11. Diebold is based in Ohio.
        http://www.diebold.com/aboutus/ataglance/default.htm

  12. Diebold employed 5 convicted felons as senior managers and developers to help write the central compiler computer code that counted 50% of the votes in 30 states.
        http://www.wired.com/news/evote/0,2645,61640,00.html
        http://portland.indymedia.org/en/2004/10/301469.shtml

  13. Jeff Dean, Diebold's Senior Vice-President and senior programmer on Diebold's central compiler code, was convicted of 23 counts of felony theft in the first degree.
        http://www.chuckherrin.com/HackthevoteFAQ.htm#how
        http://www.blackboxvoting.org/bbv_chapter-8.pdf

  14. Diebold Senior Vice-President Jeff Dean was convicted of planting back doors in his software and using a "high degree of sophistication" to evade detection over a period of 2 years.
        http://www.chuckherrin.com/HackthevoteFAQ.htm#how
        http://www.blackboxvoting.org/bbv_chapter-8.pdf

  15. None of the international election observers were allowed in the polls in Ohio.
        http://www.globalexchange.org/update/press/2638.html
        http://www.enquirer.com/editions/2004/10/26/loc_elexoh.html

  16. California banned the use of Diebold machines because the security was so bad. Despite Diebold's claims that the audit logs could not be hacked, a chimpanzee was able to do it. (See the movie here.)
        http://wired.com/news/evote/0,2645,63298,00.html
        http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/4874190

  17. 30% of all U.S. votes are carried out on unverifiable touch screen voting machines with no paper trail.
        http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2004/07/28/sunday/main632436.shtml

  18. All - not some - but all the voting machine errors detected and reported in Florida went in favor of Bush or Republican candidates.
        http://www.wired.com/news/evote/0,2645,65757,00.html
        http://www.yuricareport.com/ElectionAftermath04/ThreeResearchStudiesBushIsOut.htm
        http://www.rise4news.net/extravotes.html
        http://www.ilcaonline.org/modules.php?op=modload&name=News&file=article&sid=950
        http://www.scoop.co.nz/mason/stories/HL0411/S00227.htm

  19. The governor of the state of Florida, Jeb Bush, is the President's brother.
        http://www.tallahassee.com/mld/tallahassee/news/local/7628725.htm
        http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A10544-2004Oct29.html

  20. Serious voting anomalies in Florida - again always favoring Bush - have been mathematically demonstrated and experts are recommending further investigation.
        http://www.yuricareport.com/ElectionAftermath04/ThreeResearchStudiesBushIsOut.htm
        http://www.computerworld.com/governmenttopics/government/policy/story/0,10801,97614,00.html
        http://www.americanfreepress.net/html/tens_of_thousands.html
        http://www.commondreams.org/headlines04/1106-30.htm
        http://www.consortiumnews.com/2004/110904.html
        http://uscountvotes.org/


    t r u t h o u t | Conyers Hearings on Ohio Vote Fraud Coverage
    By William Rivers Pitt

    Wednesday 08 December 2004
    12:40PM

    And of course the wheels come off as soon as the floor is opened to questions. Everyone wants to make their speech, absent a question, and Conyers has to push people along, and the speechifiers get pissy, and we all look like fools. Progressives are uniquely gifted at this, and it never gets any less frustrating to watch.


    t r u t h o u t | Conyers Hearings on Ohio Vote Fraud Coverage
    By William Rivers Pitt

    Wednesday 08 December 2004
    12:35PM

    These Democratic congressmen just raised a collective plea to everyone: Please help us push the GOP majority to address these issues officially. The invitation was extended to GOP members to come to this hearing. None came.


    t r u t h o u t | Conyers Hearings on Ohio Vote Fraud Coverage
    By William Rivers Pitt

    Wednesday 08 December 2004
    12:20PM

    An interesting exchange. Nadler asked how fraud can be proven on electronic machines. Cliff Arnebeck said his lawsuit would employ the best experts in court to make the case. One such expert, Bob Fitrakis, is on the panel, and reeled off a slew of specific problems with specific machines. Nadler's eyes got real big.

    Conyers then hinted that he might officially object to seating the Ohio Electors. Wow.


    t r u t h o u t | Conyers Hearings on Ohio Vote Fraud Coverage
    By William Rivers Pitt

    Wednesday 08 December 2004
    12:10PM

    Rev. Jackson: "We cannot vent and then have Congress not act. If these reports are not investigated, we have all wasted our time. This cannot simply be an academic venting session. Take this struggle to the streets and legitimize it there, as they did in Selma."


    t r u t h o u t | Conyers Hearings on Ohio Vote Fraud Coverage
    By William Rivers Pitt

    Wednesday 08 December 2004
    12:00PM

    Jackson demands a constitutional right to vote. "If some can argue that the right to bear arms is explicit in the constitution, how can we tolerate our right to vote being described as 'implicit' in the constitution?"


    t r u t h o u t | Conyers Hearings on Ohio Vote Fraud Coverage
    By William Rivers Pitt

    Wednesday 08 December 2004
    11:50AM

    Shawnta Walcott of Zogby International reports that her crew has seen an unprecedented level of suspicion over the results of this election. Zogby Inc wants a blue-ribbon panel to investigate the claims made in this hearing.


    t r u t h o u t | Conyers Hearings on Ohio Vote Fraud Coverage
    By William Rivers Pitt

    Wednesday 08 December 2004
    11:40AM

    There is such a volume of data being presented here that I am able only to take frantic notes. I will have a more complete report later tonight. This is historic.


    t r u t h o u t | Conyers Hearings on Ohio Vote Fraud Coverage
    By William Rivers Pitt

    Wednesday 08 December 2004
    11:35AM

    John Bonifaz is on fire. He is not merely waxing poetic about the value of voting. He has Blackwell bracketed and braced. This man has no quit in him, and is bringing yet another lawsuit in Ohio. If I were Blackwell, and I saw Bonifaz coming, I'd run like hell.


    t r u t h o u t | Conyers Hearings on Ohio Vote Fraud Coverage
    By William Rivers Pitt

    Wednesday 08 December 2004
    11:25AM

    Almost all of these panelists are bringing lawsuits against the election in Ohio. I guess they are correct when they say this election is not over. I think maybe it has just begun.


    t r u t h o u t | Conyers Hearings on Ohio Vote Fraud Coverage
    By William Rivers Pitt

    Wednesday 08 December 2004
    11:20AM

    Susan Truitt just said, "We have privatized public elections and this must stop. This election is not over. I saw a man come to the polls with an IV in his arm from the hospital because he could not get an absentee ballot in Ohio."


    For Immediate Release

    December 8, 2004

    Progressive Democrats of America
    www.pdamerica.org

    CONTACT: Tim Carpenter, National Director, 413-320-2015

    Progressive Democrats of Americas Response to Congressional Hearings on Ohio Voting Irregularities:

    Progressive Democrats of America (PDA) extends a heartfelt thank you to Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) and the other progressive Democrats who are working hard to ensure every Americans vote is counted. An ad-hoc hearing is being held today because he is courageous and intuitive enough to listen to Americans at the grassroots level and respond to their need for answers on this issue. We are pleased that he is taking on this challenge and we pledge to support his efforts.

    Our grassroots members and our allies are expressing a great deal of interest in and outrage about voting suppression and potential fraud in Ohio.

    Whatever the specific outcome of today's hearing and other investigations into the irregularities, we know major election reform is absolutely necessary to restore democracy to America.

    Specifically, PDA calls for the following:

A Constitutional amendment confirming the right to vote, as advocated by Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr. (D-IL)
Required paper record for all electronic and electronically tabulated voting systems.
Same-day registration for all Americans.
The creation of unified federal standards for national elections.
Meaningful equal protection of voting rights by such means as equal voting systems, equal numbers of machines, and equal time to vote.
An end to partisan oversight of the electoral process.
Extended voting periods to allow all voters a meaningful opportunity to vote.
Instant Run-off Voting and Proportional Representation.
Publicly financed elections for federal offices.

    The Progressive Democrats of America are prepared to rise to this occasion in support of Rep. Conyers and other Progressive members of Congress, who we urge to offer legislation to codify these reforms. Such legislative leadership would challenge other Democrats and Republicans to state, on the record, if they are for or against Americans' right to vote.


    t r u t h o u t | Conyers Hearings on Ohio Vote Fraud Coverage
    By William Rivers Pitt

    Wednesday 08 December 2004
    11:10AM

    The first panel has concluded, and the second group has begun. The horror stories continue. Reps. Jackson Jr. and Wexler have been seated at the dias.


    t r u t h o u t | Conyers Hearings on Ohio Vote Fraud Coverage
    By William Rivers Pitt

    Wednesday 08 December 2004
    10:55AM

    Cliff Arnebeck is laying down a marker. We can talk about the future all we want, but we have to deal with the now. We cannot accept a fraudulent Presidential election. How can we talk about Iraq democracy when we are not capable of preserving our own democracy here. The best precedent to set for the future is to not tolerate fraud now, is to not 'move on' until it is fixed.


    t r u t h o u t | Conyers Hearings on Ohio Vote Fraud Coverage
    By William Rivers Pitt

    Wednesday 08 December 2004
    10:46AM

    Neas just blew the doors off. There were less voting machines in Cuyahoga County on election day than there were during the primary vote. Neas says Blackwell wins the Katherine Harris Award, and there should be prosecutions for the vote fraud.

    David Cobb is giving an advertisement for the Green Party.


    t r u t h o u t | Conyers Hearings on Ohio Vote Fraud Coverage
    By William Rivers Pitt

    Wednesday 08 December 2004
    10:45AM

    Conyers just told Jackson he will see congressional hearings on this issue, but down in Ohio and not here.

    Ralph Neas is speaking now, mocking the mainstream idea that this was a fair and successful election.


    t r u t h o u t | Conyers Hearings on Ohio Vote Fraud Coverage
    By William Rivers Pitt

    Wednesday 08 December 2004
    10:40AM

    Jackson is giving an impassioned call to arms. I will provide a transcript as soon at it becomes available. He is tossing barbs at Kerry for conceding too early, and reminding the Democrats en masse that they live and die by the minority vote, that it was minority voters who bore the brunt of the 2004 'irregularities,' and that something better be done.


    t r u t h o u t | Conyers Hearings on Ohio Vote Fraud Coverage
    By William Rivers Pitt

    Wednesday 08 December 2004
    10:30AM

    Nadler: the stability of our democracy is at stake. We do not have the luxury of time to fix these problems.

    Scott: the problems were not just in Ohio. 500 complaints in Virginia.

    Watt: if we can bring ballots to rural Afghanistan by donkey, we can have fair elections here.

    Rev. Jackson: the 2004 election is not past-tense. Amend the constitution to secure the right to vote.


    t r u t h o u t | Conyers Hearings on Ohio Vote Fraud Coverage
    By William Rivers Pitt

    Wednesday 08 December 2004
    10:05AM

    The hearing has been gaveled to order, and opening statements have begun. I am taking notes, will be back with more in a few minutes.


    t r u t h o u t | Conyers Hearings on Ohio Vote Fraud Coverage
    By William Rivers Pitt

    Wednesday 08 December 2004
    9:50AM

    Rev. Jackson just came into the room and thanked all the people here for coming and caring. The hearing room has filled quickly, and there are 13 news cameras.

    I was standing on the steps of the building this morning when Rep. Conyers showed up. He bounded out of his cab and up the stairs like a teenager, looking for all the world like a man who woke this morning ready for a throwdown.


    t r u t h o u t | Conyers Hearings on Ohio Vote Fraud Coverage
    By William Rivers Pitt

    Wednesday 08 December 2004
    9:20AM

    I have secured a great seat inside the hearing room here in the Rayburn building. If you are in the neighborhood, it is in room 2237. Better hurry, though. The staffers are talking about overflow rooms. They are expecting a big crowd.

    There are a lot of cameras here. Pacifica Radio is already set up. The whole world is watching.


    t r u t h o u t | Conyers Hearings on Ohio Vote Fraud Coverage
    By William Rivers Pitt

    Tuesday 07 December 2004
    10:45PM

    Amid all the amateur sleuths and bloggers connecting the dots on this vote fraud story, it is nice to see an organization whose credentials are impeccable weighing in.

    The organization Common Cause has issued a detailed report of their own on the vote fraud issue. The preamble to their report reads:

    "Activists from around the country are taking an in-depth look today at what really happened on Election Day, as Common Cause co-sponsors "Voting in 2004: Report to the Nation on America's Election Process." Common Cause is teaming with the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights and The Century Foundation to conduct a day-long non-partisan presentation today that will feature members of Congress, state officials, electronic voting machine experts and organizations that had workers on the ground on Election Day, observing and collecting information.

    "This is a great opportunity for Common Cause members, supporters, and citizens who are concerned about our nation's voting process to come to the Hill, and hear from leading national experts about our election systems.

    "In addition, Common Cause releases a preliminary report based on extensive election monitoring activities: Report from the Voters: A First Look at the 2004 Election Data/Common Cause Agenda for Reform, which includes participation running a national voter alert line (1-866-MYVOTE1) that received nearly 210,000 phone calls from 50 states, more than 1,000 election monitors nationwide and the collection of more than 1,700 voters' stories on our website. Using this unprecedented amount of non-partisan data, Common Cause and other participants will help reveal the most accurate picture of what actually happened on Election Day."

    Be sure to give this report a long, close look.


    t r u t h o u t | Conyers Hearings on Ohio Vote Fraud Coverage
    By William Rivers Pitt

    Tuesday 07 December 2004
    8:15PM

    So here I am again, on Embassy Row in Washington DC. It is a murky night in the capitol city, but is thankfully about 15 degrees warmer than the city I left to get here.

    There is a lot to talk about, and I do not want to take up an enormous amount of space doing it, so here goes:

    The Conyers hearing begins tomorrow at 10:00am. C-SPAN coverage has been confirmed, along with a Pacifica Radio broadcast of the events. I have also been told that NBC and MSNBC will have cameras there, but I will believe that when I see it. Between all those folks and little ol' me, we should be able to achieve total coverage of the whole thing.

    Why are we here? The answer to that can be found in the letter written by Rep. Conyers to Ohio Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell about voting irregularities and potential fraud in the November election a month ago. The letter was meant to be part notification, part description, and part invitation, though at this point I have not heard anything about Blackwell's intention to attend. If you have not read his letter yet, do so now.

    The hearing will involve:

    Rep. John Conyers, Jr., Rep. Jerrold Nadler, Rep. Robert Scott, Rep. Melvin Watt, Rep. Linda Sanchez, and Robert Wexler. Witnesses will include Rev. Jesse Jackson, Founder Rainbow Push Coalition; Ralph Neas, President, People For the American Way; Prof. Robert Fitrakis, Editor, The Free Press; Cliff Arnebeck, Arnebeck Associates; Steve Rosenfeld, Senior Producer, Air America Radio; David Cobb, Green Party Nominee 2004 Presidential Candidate; Jon Greenbaum, Director, Voting Rights Project, Lawyers Committee For Civil Rights Under Law; Ellie Smeal, Executive Director, The Feminist Majority; John Bonifaz, General Counsel, National Voting Institute; Prof. Steve Freeman, University of Pennsylvania; and Shawnta Walcott, Communications Director, Zogby International.

    Perhaps most importantly, Conyers is looking for you to send his office questions about this issue. If you have any questions for his hearing, submit them using this form. The folks at DemocraticUnderground.com have already gotten a head start.

    A series of revelations have come out in the last few days, none more interesting than the affidavit sworn by a man named Clint Curtis. According to BradBlog, which first broke the story:

    Curtis, in his affidavit, says that as technical advisor and programmer at Yang Enterprises, Inc. (YEI) he was present at company meetings where Feeney was present "on at least a dozen occasions". Feeney, who had run in 1994 as Jeb Bush's running-mate in his initial unsuccessful bid for Florida Governor, was serving as both corporate counsel and registered lobbyist for YEI during the period that Curtis worked at the company. Feeney was also concurrently serving as a Florida state congressman while performing those services for YEI. Feeney would eventually become Speaker of the Florida House before being elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2002. He is now a member of the U.S. House Judiciary Committee.

    At an October 2000 meeting with Feeney, according to the affidavit and BRAD BLOG interviews with Curtis over the past three days, Feeney inquired whether the company could build a "vote fraud software prototype". At least three YEI employees are said to have been present at that meeting; Curtis, company owner, Mrs. Li Woan Yang, and her executive secretary, Mike Cohen. Two other YEI employees may have come in and out at different points of the meeting according to Curtis.

    Curtis says that Feeney "was very specific in the design and specifications required for this program. "He detailed, in his own words, that; (a) the program needed to be touch-screen capable (b) the user should be able to trigger the program without any additional equipment (c) the programming to accomplish this needed to stay hidden even if the source code was inspected.""

    There are a number of people, including Bev Harris of BlackBoxVoting.org, who smell a rat with this story. I spoke to Mr. Curtis on the phone yesterday, and he seemed a normal human. I will be meeting him tomorrow at the hearing, and will then decide the matter for myself. When I know more, so will you.

    See you in the morning.


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