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By Christopher Bollyn

While Congress has yet to decide if there will be a formal inquiry into the U.S. election of 2004, its preliminary investigation is exposing the most serious flaws in the system. But don't expect to hear about it in the mainstream media-it's part of the problem.

Rep. John Conyers of Detroit, the highest-ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, is investigating the possibility of computer vote fraud being perpetrated through remote access to the vote tabulators. He is also looking into how the media and pollsters use exit polling data on Election Day.

While the body of evidence that vote fraud occurred during the election is growing by the day and is easily found on the Internet, the mainstream media has largely avoided the story.

Asked by Tim Grieve of if there were Democrats in Congress who support his investigation, but who won't come forward and say so publicly, Conyers said: "Well, there are Republicans who support what I'm doing who haven't been willing to come forward. Look, calling for fair elections is not the most radical thing in the world. We're not positing some revolutionary theory here. We're asking that the people who complained be given a fair hearing."

American Free Press journalists have investigated vote fraud for decades, but why has the subject of computerized vote fraud been ignored by the mainstream media? Why has it been left to the smaller independent media outlets, Internet journalists and bloggers to investigate?

"As the story develops," Gary Beckwith, an Internet journalist with The Solar Bus, wrote, "no one has been able to explain why the media is avoiding it like the plague."

Conyers investigation, however, has revealed why Americans are not hearing about vote fraud and the problems with exit polling data on the nightly news: the big news networks are deeply involved.

Immediately after the election, American Free Press reported that the Associated Press had direct access to the mainframe computer that tallied the votes in Chicago and Cook County-as it tallied the votes on Election Day. This provides evidence that the mainstream media consortium that replaced the disgraced Voter News Service (VNS) has remote access to the machines that count the votes.

This direct connection between AP and the vote counting computer system explains why the Associated Press repeatedly refused to answer AFP's questions during the summer about how they got their election results on election night.

As AFP reported from Chicago, this was something that the county clerk was well aware of and actively tried to prevent from being revealed. However, if it is done in Chicago, it is probably done in a similar manner across the nation.

Remote access to the computers counting the votes-who has it and how it is being used-is a subject that is finally being addressed by members of Congress. How far Conyers's investigation goes remains to be seen.

Conyers is interested in seeing the raw data of the exit polls. The disparity between exit polling data and election results indicate that something was seriously wrong with either the polling or the counting of votes in Ohio, Florida, and elsewhere.

Conyers has written to Warren Mitofsky, who owns the companies that provide exit poll data to the mainstream media, asking for the complete raw polling data.

"Mitofsky balked, saying that the TV Networks actually own it and he was not able to release it without their permission. Conyers then took his inquiry to the leaders of ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, and Fox," Beckwith wrote, "And they promptly laid an egg. Through a spokesperson who spoke on behalf of all the media companies together, they said they are still analyzing the data and don't want to release it until they're done.

"Any objective investigator, or any concerned citizen for that matter, simply cannot accept their answer to Conyers," he wrote. "There is absolutely no precedent or moral ground for withholding this information from the American public. The bottom line is that raw data does not need to be analyzed. Conyers and the American people are not asking for the analysis. We're asking for the data."

Conyers has also written to Triad Governmental Systems, Inc., a small family-owned company in Xenia, Ohio, asking about their ability to access the computers that counted the votes in Ohio-remotely. Triad, founded by Tod Rapp, produces the software that is used to tabulate the votes in nearly half the counties in the Buckeye State.

Conyers' letter of Dec. 23 says: "It appears that officials in Fulton and Henry counties have confirmed that Triad had remote access to tabulating computers controlled by the Boards of Elections."

Triad had until Dec. 29 to respond to Conyers' letter. Conyers wants to know which Ohio counties' vote tabulating computers Triad could access remotely, which counties it did access, and what changes it made to the software or ballots.

"Did you use your remote access to inquire how machine votes would be counted in order to instruct the board how to manipulate the three percent hand count to avoid a county wide hand count?" Conyers asked Triad president Rapp in writing.

AFP interviewed Rapp at Triad's office shortly after the election. At that time Rapp told AFP that Triad personnel were not present or involved in any way with the vote tabulation done in the different counties.

Rapp, who is a generous donor to the Republican Party and George W. Bush, also told AFP that he was no longer part of the company that is now run by his sons.

When I called Triad GSI, however, and asked for Rapp, I was put right through to him. When I actually visited Triad, he was the only one available to discuss the company.

According to sworn testimony by the Hocking County Board of Elections deputy director, a technician from Triad illegally tampered with computers and instructed her on how to create a "cheat sheet" to make sure the recount matches the official results.

If Conyers intends to get to the bottom of computer vote fraud in the United States, similar letters and inquiries, like those sent to Triad GSI, will need to be sent to the larger voting machine companies, such as Election Systems & Software, Sequoia, and the Ohio-based Diebold Election Systems.