UoM074: Who Owns the Voting Machines in the United States - @unframeofmind

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As I was doing research for an upcoming article about voter fraud, meddling, and straight up corruption in the election process, I came across the work of two amazing women who have been fighting this crap for over a decade. These ladies have each done their fair share of research, activism, and legal battling to help bring attention to these issues and call truth to power.

I had the chance to speak with both of them about their experiences and their diagnosis of the problem, as well as steps we can take to fix the issue. First, I spoke with Lynn Landes owner of http://www.thelandesreport.com. Lynn is a Philadelphia-based writer, researcher, and activist; passionate about politics, health, and environmental issues.  Her articles and opinions have been published in several books, films, and online publications. And, since 2002, she has been one of the nation's leading researchers and analysts on voting security issues.

For my project, I had at first thought that voting machine hacking was a minor issue in comparison to many of the other potential election violations I had already researched. I had no idea how far down the rabbit hole I would be taken throughout the course of my conversation with Lynn.

In this episode, she details her interaction with the Voter News Service; an exit polling consortium formed in 1990 by six major U.S. news media organizations - ABC news, CBS News, NBC News, CNN, Fox, The Associated Press. Its mission was to provide results for US presidential elections, so that individual organizations and networks would not have to do exit polling and vote tallying in parallel.

Basically, VNS, ran by six major news media organizations, has everyone’s votes funneled into a central location where god-only-knows what kind of tampering could be done, and then they are broadcast from there. They’re secretive about their location, vague about what their processes are, and the average voter can never peek into their procedures to validate the results.

Companies like ES&S claim that there is no way to hack into their machines wirelessly; which, as it turns out is a bit of a red-herring. There are certainly other opportunities for changes to be made to the system.

My conversation with Lynn had my head spinning. I had no idea the amount of possibilities and opportunities for manipulation that were available throughout the entire election chain of custody. From the time the voter registers, their time at the polls, the handling of the vote after the voters participate, all the way until the politician is officially announced as the winner.

Always a glutton for punishment, I decided to take another swing at chatting with another long-time warrior in the battle for fair and honest elections; Bev Harris, founder of BlackBoxVoting.org.

Black Box Voting is an organization that performs nonpartisan investigative reporting and public education for elections. Bev is known for her groundbreaking work on electronic voting machines, her reporting about voter lists, election chain of custody, transparency problems with absentee voting, election industry corporate governance, and financial accountability in elections.

I asked Bev if she could shed a little light on who actually owns the voting machines.

Basically, as people started catching onto their game, the owners of these companies continued to burrow deeper and deeper behind LLCs and other legal frameworks to keep people from ever knowing who is involved in the manufacturing of these voting machines. On top of that, these machines in many cases are so easy to hack that just about anyone with two brain cells to rub together could figure it out.

So what’s the solution? What can we do to make sure that our elections are as free from fraud as humanly possible?

Now, there are laws on the books that require election officials to maintain election records and paper ballots for a minimum of 22 months after an election. But, according to codified law, “any officer of election or custodian who willfully fails to comply with this section shall be fined not more than $1,000 or imprisoned not more than one year, or both.”

Seems like an easy decision to me. I mean, if I’m determined to win an election and the penalty (if I’m ever caught) is only $1,000, it’s totally worth the risk. ESPECIALLY when you consider the potential money to be made once you’ve secured your position.

Miss Bev offers the example of the Florida election between Tim Canova and Debbie Wassermann Schultz

We’ve got a scenario where election officials are responsible for maintaining paper records for 22 months and if they violate that law, the fine is a thousand bucks. It’s nearly impossible for citizens to view the paperwork or the digital image files, and when they want to audit the voting machines… well, I’ll just let Miss Harris take it from here.

I’d like to thank Lynn and Bev for taking the time with me to discuss these important issues; especially as the next election is getting closer.

If you want to learn more about what these two ladies have going on, be sure to visit their websites: http://www.thelandesreport.com and http://blackboxvoting.org

This podcast is part of a much larger project called “The Politician’s Guide to Rigging… I mean, Winning Elections.” A guide that offers over 20 methods that politicians have used to make your vote meaningless. Check it out here