Vote fraud: Imposing american-style 'democracy' in Iraq and beyond

Has the election in the U.S. been stolen - like in other parts of the world?

The elections in the occupied nations of Iraq, Afghanistan, and Palestine, have been used to bestow an aura of legitimacy upon their quisling-like leaders chosen by the occupying powers. The mainstream media praises the triumph of "democracy" as sham elections, literally held "under the gun," have been imposed on captive nations by their foreign invaders.

In Afghanistan, we are told, the people freely elected Hamid Karzai, the former paid consultant for the U.S. energy company Unocal and quisling ruler installed by the occupying power.

The besieged Palestinians, we are told, elected Mahmoud Abbas, a man who has very little support among the people, but is popular with U.S., British, and Israeli leaders, to be their president. Meanwhile, the truly popular political leader of the Palestinian people, Marwan Barghouti, languishes in an Israeli prison.

On January 30, 2005, polls closed in the Iraqi election and while the counting of the votes will take some time, we are told, it is expected that occupied Iraq's previously appointed prime minister Iyad Allawi will finish on top of the pile. Allawi has worked closely with British intelligence since the 1980s and with the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency since at least 1991, when he co-founded the Iraqi National Accord (INA) party.

"Lucky me. I hit the trifecta,'' U.S. President George W. Bush must be thinking as early results point to an Allawi victory. A "trifecta," a racing term often used by Bush, means when a bettor wins by selecting the first three finishers of a race in the correct order of finish. Is Bush really just "lucky" or is there a more logical explanation for the surprising success of his chosen candidates in successive elections in three occupied nations? And what can the elections in these occupied countries tell us about the condition of our democratic franchise?

George W. Bush became president in 2001 without winning the popular vote and was then returned to the White House in 2004 in an election in which 99 percent of the votes cast were counted and tallied beyond the ken and out of sight of any voter. While this raises the obvious question about the integrity of U.S. elections, it is a question never asked by the controlled media in the United States.

Whether reporting on elections in Iraq or the U.S.A., the mainstream media invariably focuses on pre-election campaigns and procedures and human interest stories about voters. The mass media completely ignores the hard questions about what happens when the polls close and the counting begins behind closed doors. This is, after all, the critical point where the integrity of elections is either sustained or broken beyond repair. As the British playwright Tom Stoppard wrote, "It's not the voting that's democracy, it's the counting."

No Local Count

I observed the last hour of voting in the Iraqi election, after three days of polling among exile Iraqis and their children, at the Assyrian National Council of Illinois Community Centre in Skokie, near Chicago. Among the crowd of dark-haired Assyrians were a few fair-haired Americans, employees of the International Organization for Migration (IOM), a "branch" of the United Nations, who were running the election.

While I discussed the voting with members of the local Assyrian community, Kathleen Houlihan, media officer for the IOM suddenly appeared before me ready to answer my questions. "When does the vote count begin and will the voters be able to watch?" was my first question.

Although the polling ended at 5 p.m., I was told there would be no counting of the votes before the next day. All 6,000 ballots would be taken to "a secure location," where they would be counted by authorized personnel, I was told. When asked why the paper ballots would not be openly counted when the polls closed, the IOM personnel seemed to be at a loss for an answer. "They're paper," the IOM employee said. "They're all folded and everything," as if that presented a problem. The question of ballot tampering or vote fraud did not seem to concern the IOM personnel.

I watched the citizens of Avignon, France, count the votes of nearly 800 presidential ballots two times in front of the some 60 voters in less than one hour. The French are able to openly hand-count the paper ballots in every polling station across the nation and announce the winner, with good accuracy, by the time polls close in Paris two hours later, at 8 p.m. The Iraqi results, we are told, may take a week or more to count, according to UN officials involved with the election.

United Nations' Under-Secretary-General Sir Kieran Prendergast and Carina Perelli, head of the UN Electoral Assistance Division held an hour-long press conference on January 26, to brief correspondents on "the complex technical aspects of the electoral process." Prendergast indulged in a bizarre discussion of his favourite New York restaurant and wine-drinking schedule while he presided over a press conference concerning the most important election in a nation that has been besieged and sanctioned to the point of starvation for 12 of the past 15 years by his government and the international organization that he serves.

Perelli and Prendergast have endeavoured to provide a veneer of legitimacy to a sham election process in Iraq that has been entirely organized and arranged by the occupying military power.

Perelli said that Iraqi ballots and votes would be counted locally at each polling station but said nothing about the posting of the results. Asked about the counting of the votes, UN spokesman Farhan Haq said, "The results will not be posted locally." Haq was unable to explain the reason for this odd decision.

The reason, however, is quite obvious. If the hand-counted results of each polling place were to be posted, reported, and published there would be no need to wait weeks for the results. The readers of the next day's papers would be able to clearly see for themselves who won the election, and figure out how and where it was won.

These two things, the open and public counting of the votes and the posting and reporting of every polling station's results, are the sine qua non essentials required to ensure the integrity of any election claiming to be democratic. Both, however, are lacking in Iraqi and U.S. elections.

Rick Fulle, a technology expert with the Illinois State Board of Elections told me the importance of the local precinct, or polling station, count. "The only official tally on election night is the precinct tally," he said.

In the United States, hand-counted paper-ballots are only used in less than 1 percent of the voting jurisdictions. Electronic voting machines, linked together in a system, have effectively usurped the role of the citizen election judge and removed the vote-counting process to a back room, out of sight of any voter or election official.

On Dec. 6, 2005, in the outskirts of Washington, D.C., a computer programmer named Clint Curtis signed an affidavit alleging that Representative Tom Feeney (R. Fla.), a friend and former running mate of Gov. Jeb Bush, had asked him to write an undetectable computer code that would "control the vote in South Florida." At the time, in the early fall of 2000, Feeney was a member of the Florida legislature and Curtis was lead programmer for Yang Enterprises, Inc. (YEI), an Oviedo, Florida company.

According to Curtis, the vote rigging computer program, which Feeney asked for "in his own words," needed to be touch-screen capable; should be able to be activated without any additional equipment; and should remain hidden "even if the source code was inspected."

Flipping the Vote

Curtis produced a program that would flip the votes to produce a "51-49" tally for any candidate in any race. This manipulation of the tally could be done from any voting machine in the network simply by touching "invisible buttons" on the screen. The program, Curtis said, could also be used on other voting systems, such as optical scan and punch card systems, by accessing or "hacking" into the central tabulating computer that tallies the votes.

As Curtis explained to Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) during a Democratic House Judiciary hearing in Columbus, Ohio on Dec. 13, 2005:

Nadler: You could work back from the tabulator to the individual machines, so that the tabulator could tell the machines to switch their results?

Curtis: Yes. It talks both ways. You could flip it to whatever you need.

Nadler: And they actually do talk to each other - the machines and the tabulator?

Curtis: As long as it's hooked up. As long as they are networked together, they can talk to each other.

Nadler: So, in other words, there is absolutely no assurance whatsoever on anything with regards to these machines. Curtis: Absolutely none, unless you look at the source code and make sure it's safe before it goes in.

The mainstream media in the U.S. has avoided covering the allegations contained in the Curtis affidavit and testimony.

Most of the electronic voting machines used in the U.S. are actually programmed and operated by employees of the company who sold the machines to the county or state. The precinct tally, openly counted and authenticated by the signatures of the election judges, no longer exists in U.S. elections. The vote counting and authentication process has become centralized, non-transparent, and artificial.

In Chicago, for example, the entire process of "counting" and tabulating the votes is done by programmers working for a private company in a back room at the county clerk's office. During the 2004 general election I observed the vote count, as it is called, projected from three computer terminals onto the wall at the clerk's office.

As I watched the numbers flicker on the wall, the Associated Press had direct access to the mainframe computer via the laptop computer of an employee who sat in the corner of the room. This unexplained AP connection to the mainframe computer in Chicago was of a different nature than the connection available to the rest of the media on the computers in the press room.

Asked where the actual count was being done, I was told in "the ES&S room," where the company's programmers supposedly ran the computer that tallied the votes. ES&S, or Election Systems & Software, is a private and secretive company based in Omaha, Nebraska. During the last U.S. election, 60 million Americans voted on their voting machines. According to the company's own figures, 42 percent of all registered voters in the United States voted on ES&S equipment on Election Day.

ES&S and the Ohio-based Diebold Election Systems are supposedly competing firms headed by two brothers, Bob and Todd Urosevich. Both companies are closely tied to the Republican Party.

It is probable that employees of U.S. or British-owned voting machine companies are involved in managing the data and conducting the national tally of the Iraqi election results. The UN has not responded to written questions about the involvement of private companies in the election.

But it is to be expected that an Iraqi national assembly favourable to the U.S. and British occupying powers is seated after the elections. L. Paul Bremer, the former U.S. proconsul and administrator of the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) in Iraq, signed the laws that govern Iraqi elections. He also appointed 8 of the 9 people who serve on the "Independent Electoral Commission of Iraq." The ninth is appointed by the UN.

Bremer gave Iraq the "Law of Administration" for the "Transitional Period," which will only end when "the permanent constitution is issued and the new Iraqi government is formed in accordance with it." Post war Germany is ruled by a similar law, the Grundgesetz, imposed by the Allies and still in effect today, nearly 60 years later. The Grundgesetz was only meant to be a temporary legal framework, but has yet to be replaced by a permanent constitution.

The "Law of Administration" forms the basis for all Iraqi laws during the transition period. During his last month in Baghdad, Bremer issued CPA Order 92, which established the Independent Electoral Commission of Iraq, Order 96 on the Electoral Law, and Order 97 on Political Parties and Entities Law. The three orders form Iraqi electoral law. Each order signed by Bremer, begins by "reaffirming the right of the Iraqi people to freely determine their own political future" and concludes: "I hereby promulgate the following."