Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Hard Rain Journal 8-23-06: Struggle for Sanctity & integrity of Electoral Process Rages on in Both US & Mexico

A line of armored vehicles awaits outside Mexico's Congress building. Most are brand-new and have never seen action. But many Mexicans wonder whether their menacing presence is a harbinger of this divided country's future.
Federal authorities deployed the tanks to prevent supporters of leftist presidential candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador from shutting down Mexico's legislature in a bid to pressure the Federal Electoral Tribunal to order a full recount of all 41 million votes in the disputed July 2 presidential election.
On Monday, the first and only street battle of Mexico's election controversy erupted outside Congress when federal police arrived to disperse supporters of Lopez Obrador. A handful of lawmakers were bruised in the melee.

Héctor Tobar, Mexico Bracing for Social Unrest, Tanks are deployed as the nation awaits a ruling on who won the July 2 presidential vote, Los Angeles Times, 8-20-06

Hard Rain Journal 8-23-06: Struggle for Sanctity and integrity of Electoral Process Rages on in Both US & Mexico
By Richard Power

The struggle to ensure the sanctity and integrity of the electoral process rages on in both the US and Mexico.

In the US, incredibly, the threat to our democratic institutions has captivated CNN's Lou Dobbs. And Dobbs, in turn, has let loose Kitty Pilgrim to deliver the only substantive and sustained reporting on black box voting available in the US mainstream news media.

Meanwhile, an op-ed piece by Avi Rubin is running in the 9-6-06 edition of Forbes. Rubin is a world-class computer scientist and cyber security expert. He has done an extraordinary service to this country over the past six years in raising awareness on this issue. But to see his by-line in Forbes is encouraging.

Has the historic qui tam law suit filed by Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and Mike Papantonio woken up some business interests?

The most poignant twist in this vital story is what is going on in the streets of Mexico City. And of course, it is a non-event on US air waves. Over one million people have rallied several times now in the streets of Mexico City in an ongoing fight for a full recount. But you will not see these huge and unprecedented protests (or the tanks surrounding the Congress building) on the US evening news. The corporatist overlords of the US mainstream news media don't want you to get any wild ideas...

Here are three important items, two from US business media, and one from the alternative media:

The 2000 debacle in Florida spurred a rush to computerize voting. In 2002 Congress passed the Help America Vote Act, which handed out $2.6 billion to spend on voting machines. Most of that cash was used to acquire Direct Recording Electronic voting machines. Yet while computers are very proficient at counting, displaying choices and producing records, we should not rely on computers alone to count votes in public elections. The people who program them make mistakes, and, safeguards aside, they are more vulnerable to manipulation than most people realize. Even an event as common as a power glitch could cause a hard disk to fail or a magnetic card that holds votes to permanently lose its data. The only remedy then: Ask voters to come back to the polls. In a 2003 election in Boone County, Ind., DREs recorded 144,000 votes in one precinct populated with fewer than 6,000 registered voters. Though election officials caught the error, it's easy to imagine a scenario where such mistakes would go undetected until after a victor has been declared.
Consider one simple mode of attack that has already proved effective on a widely used DRE, the Accuvote made by Diebold (nyse: DBD - news - people ). It's called overwriting the boot loader, the software that runs first when the machine is booted up. The boot loader controls which operating system loads, so it is the most security-critical piece of the machine. In overwriting it an attacker can, for example, make the machine count every fifth Republican vote as a Democratic vote, swap the vote outcome at the end of the election or produce a completely fabricated result. To stage this attack, a night janitor at the polling place would need only a few seconds' worth of access to the computer's memory card slot.
Further, an attacker can modify what's known as the ballot definition file on the memory card. The outcome: Votes for two candidates for a particular office are swapped. This attack works by programming the software to recognize the precinct number where the machine is situated. If the attack code limits its execution to precincts that are statistically close but still favor a particular party, it goes unnoticed.

Aviel Rubin, Pull the Plug, Forbes Magazine, 9-4-06 Edition

DOBBS: This broadcast, as you know, has been reporting extensively on what is being called an electronic voting machine debacle in the Ohio special election. A new report shows problems with e-voting machines in that election were even worse than election officials first thought. And amazingly, some election officials still believe the machines actually performed well.
What's worse? Those machines and ones like them will be used all over again all around the country for the upcoming midterm elections in just 12 weeks....
KITTY PILGRIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): The May primary election in Cuyahoga County, Ohio, using Diebold electronic voting machines was a debacle. The Election Science Institute, independent researchers commissioned by the county, found damning evidence that the electronic voting machines had major problems.
STEVE HERTZBERG, ELECTION SCIENCE INSTITUTE: We're missing data. We're missing critical components within the election. The board of elections cannot find it, and we believe that that is probably the greatest issue we're facing in this election. What are equivalent to what might be ballots in ballot boxes in the old days now turned into ones and zeroes.
PILGRIM: The report found the machine's four sources of vote totals, individual ballots, paper trail summary, election archives, and the memory cards, did not all match up. The totals were all different.
The report concludes, "These shortcomings merit urgent attention. Relying on the system in its present state should be viewed as a calculated risk."
But the secretary of state of Ohio, Kenneth Blackwell, is still in denial. His office saying today, "The machines work. There is nothing wrong with the machines."
That is not what the report concludes. "The current election system, if left unchanged, contains significant threats. One likely result is diminished public confidence in a close election."
Cuyahoga County has, at last count, more than 1.3 million people, the most populous county in Ohio, including the city of Cleveland. It represents a critical mass of voters. But the report says the situation may not be resolved by the November election this year or even the 2008 presidential election....
PILGRIM: The county board of elections says they need to get to the bottom of this. They want the authors of the report, the scientists to sit down with Diebold and agree on what went wrong. They will then take measures to fix the problems.
And the scientists welcome that opportunity. They say it's important for the entire country that this issue is resolved — Lou.
DOBBS: For the entire democracy. And just about 12 weeks remaining in which to do so.

CNN's Lou Dobbs: An Electronic Voting Machine Debacle In Ohio's 2006 Primary Election, Scientific Report Commissioned by County says Numbers Don't Match Up: 'The current election system, if left unchanged, contains significant threats' OH Sec. of State's Response: 'The machines work. There is nothing wrong with the machines.' Brad Blog, 8-16-06

The Mexican peoples’ democracy movement and their leader Andrés Manuel López Obrador are modern heroes of democracy and to all who demand clean elections. They recall the heroics of the Ukrainians with one important difference. There are no “great powers” supporting them. In fact, the American regime is hostile to a victory by Obrador and the Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD). The increasingly unpopular and isolated White House cadre may have done its best to obstruct such an eventuality in ways which by now are predictably familiar. The Mexican people are alone, on the street, fighting the brave fight for people everywhere who believe in the inherently inalienable and natural right of men and women to determine their own destiny through free, fair, and transparent elections.
Supporters of democracy in Mexico are making a stand in the nation’s capitol. They just had their third major demonstration with more than a million participants. The American press tried a theme of demonstrators growing weary recently, just before the latest seven figure gathering. The demonstrations tell Mexicans and the world that the election was so questionable, an investigation is mandated through a thorough review of the most direct evidence: the ballots. The PRD’s demand for a “ballot by ballot, precinct by precinct” recount is fully warranted....
The millions flooding the public squares supporting Obrador’s cause are fully conscious as they act in civil disobedience. They know of the recent assault on sleeping teachers in Oaxaca and the history of premeditated violence by the previous government against the protesters who threatened far less than the democracy advocates are threatening today. Their goal is an end to decades of corruption which steals the wealth, lives, and soul of a nation of intelligent, hard working, creative people.
It is both prescient and incumbent upon all of us to support the heroic efforts of the Mexican people in any way we can. We should draw inspiration from their real-world battle against those who would hide ballots as though they were personal property instead of the fundamental statement of the public will. We must honor these sentinels of democracy by redoubling our efforts to make voter suppression, voter disenfranchisement, and nonsensical outcomes a thing of the past in the United States.
In a very real sense, Obrador and the PRD are leading the way to a positive shift in the movement toward freedom and against tyranny.
Citizens of the United States owe the Mexican people a great debt. We must respond with acts of comparable commitment in our own struggle for human dignity and freedom. Failure to act allows the nihilistic forces which serve outmoded, corrupt, and world killing philosophies to continue unopposed. These forces proceed despite all indications that the path and process have set us on a course of undeniable and obvious global catastrophe. There is an alternative available and it is coming to life right now in Mexico.

Michael Collins, The Mexican People: Heroes of Democracy, Scoop, 8-23-06


Hard Rain Journal 8-9-06: Lamont & McKinney Stories Underscore the Importance of Lopez Obrador's Struggle

Hard Rain Journal 7-30-06: Struggle for Fair Elections, North & South of the Rio Grande

Hard Rain Journal 7-22-06 Weekend Edition: Updates on US Election Fraud and the Dan Rather Watch

Hard Rain Journal 7-18-06: Update on Disputed Mexican Presidential Election

GS(3) Thunderbolt 7-10-06: Will the Disputed Mexican Election Lead to Insurrection? Lessons for Mexico from the US, and Lessons for the US from Mexico

GS(3) Thunderbolt 7-7-06: Mexican Presidential Election Still in Doubt

GS(3) Thunderbolt 7-3-06: Greg Palast on the Case in the Mexican Presidential Election

Hard Rain Journal 6-28-06: NYU Law School's Brennan Center Reports E-Voting Software Attacks are a Real Danger

SPECIAL EDITION: “Until this issue is burning on the mind of every citizen” -- Words of Power Interviews Mark Crispin Miller

Words of Power #22: Election Fraud As Information Warfare, and a National Security Issue

Richard Power is the founder of GS(3) Intelligence and His work focuses on the inter-related issues of security, sustainability and spirit, and how to overcome the challenges of terrorism, cyber crime, global warming, health emergencies, natural disasters, etc. You can reach him via e-mail: For more information, go to

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