For decades now CBS, ABC, and NBC have pretended on election night to be in hot competition to project the “winner” and “loser.” We know the act well: Dan, Peter, or Tom comes on the air and solemnly intones, “We can now project that President X is the winner in Florida.”
As a viewer, I imagined bespectacled analysts sweating in back rooms, perhaps 30 accountants nervously crunching numbers—all in an attempt to get their anchorman on the air first with the projected winner. But now we know it was all a hoax. For all of the networks (CNN included) have been getting the exact same numbers, at the exact same time, from the exact same source—from a company that the networks appear to own jointly; Voter News Service (VNS).
How reliable is VNS? In the Iowa Caucuses, VNS worked with lightning speed, ostensibly assembling the results of over 2,000 caucus gatherings, analyzing the data, and turning them over to the Associated Press, which announced the winner exactly one minute after the caucuses had opened and clearly before even one vote had been cast! VNS employees are either prophets, or the whole process smells like the anchovies on last week’s pizza.
Though VNS has changed its name regularly, its headquarters are still at 225 W. 34th St., New York City, and it has been the exit polling arm of the big TV networks since at least 1972. One of the few mentions in the mainstream media of this little-known organization was in the March 2, 1992, issue of Time magazine, where a box on page 22 entitled “The Morning After” confirmed that all of the major TV networks are using this same exit polling source.
So, if the major media are willing to pretend to be competing on election night when in reality they are cooperating in total harmony, what other shenanigans could be afoot?
Once upon a time, Americans voted by paper ballot. At the end of the day after the polls had closed, neighborhood people—Democrats, Republicans, Independents—worked together to count the votes in their polling place before the ballots left their precinct. The count was then posted at the precinct polling place for all to see. This is the only way to ensure a verifiable election. Variations of method are possible, but the basic counting of paper ballots in public view, with the results posted at the polling place before the ballots leave each neighborhood precinct, are essential to ensure a fair and honest count.
To rig an election with the above safeguards built in, one would have to bribe many hundreds of people, including key Democrats and Republicans in each precinct being rigged. But the people bribed at each precinct would nevertheless have access only to a tiny fraction of the vote. There would be no hope of throwing an election from a central location with the push of a button or the flick of a switch.
However, the election process has changed in most venues to make it impossible for either citizen or candidate to monitor or check anything on election night, and concern over how the votes are counted seems to have vanished altogether. The average American voting in 1996 is predisposed to believe the results announced on election night. Skeptics are asked, “Can you prove there was computer fraud? If you can’t prove it, nobody’s going to listen.”
First of all, whether a citizen can prove vote fraud is not the question. The question is whether the Board of Elections officials can prove that they are running a verifiable election, with a paper trail and checks and balances. After all, these administrators are supposed to be servants of the people. Instead, most of them now act as if the business of elections is their specialty, if not their rightful monopoly. In fact, any attempt by any American citizen or candidate to monitor an election today will most likely land the person in jail. Dan Giroux, the Buchanan campaign coordinator for southwest Ohio, accompanied by his attorney, was refused permission to observe the count by Hamilton County Board of Elections Director Bruce Taylor (Republican). Why?
In a rare but superb news story on the evening of the 1988 presidential election, Dan Rather of CBS Evening News had this exchange with computer expert Howard J. Strauss of Princeton University:
Rather: Realistically, could the fix be put on a national election?
Strauss: Get me a job with the company that writes the software for this program. [Strauss was referring to the most common computer program in use.] Then I’d have access to one third of the votes. Is that enough to fix a general election?
In an earlier clip during this CBS interview, Strauss had dropped this bombshell: “When it comes to computerized elections, there are no safeguards. It’s not a door without locks, it’s a house without doors.”
This CBS spot came on the heels of an article by Ronnie Duggar entitled “The Dangers of Computerized Voting” in the November 7, 1988, issue of New Yorker magazine. A 1988 government study, “Accuracy, Integrity, and Security’ in Computerized Vote-Tallying” by Roy G. Saltman of the National Bureau of Standards, also tackled this subject, but it overlooked two notorious cases in Cincinnati. One case involved a former Cincinnati Bell employee who stated in a sworn deposition that he had been involved in wiretapping into the Cincinnati computer on election night in 1979 for the purpose of altering the vote count. The other case involved a group of women who in 1985 were videotaped using common household tweezers to pluck out tabs from punchcard ballots on election night; three years earlier, parallel activity had been captured on film in Miami, Florida, when self-proclaimed members of the League of Women Voters were videotaped using styluses to punch tabs out of punchcard ballots.
But perhaps the best summary of this subject is found in Votescam: The Stealing of America (1993) by James and Kenneth Collier. After quoting the first words uttered by President-elect George Bush in his November 8, 1988, victory speech in Houston, Texas—”We can now speak the most majestic words a democracy can offer: ‘The people have spoken'”—the Colliers comment:
It was not “the People” of the United States who did “the speaking” on that election day, although most of them believed it was, and still believe so. . . . In fact, the People did not speak at all. . . . The voices of computers—strong, loud, authoritative, unquestioned in their electronic finality. . . . The computers that spoke in November 1988 held in their inner workings small boxes that contained secret codes that only the sellers of the computers could read. The programs, or “source codes,” were regarded as “trade secrets.” The sellers of the vote-counting software zealously guarded their programs from the public, from election officials, from everyone—on the dubious grounds that competitors could steal their ideas if the source codes were open to inspection. . . . So why can’t the public know what those secret source codes instruct the computer to do?. . . . I low else can the public be reasonably assured that they are participating in an unrigged election where their vote actually means something? Yet one of the most mysterious, low-profile, covert, shadowy, questionable mechanisms of American democracy is the American vote count.
Note: In every case where disputes over computerized vote fraud have reached the trial level, the presiding judge has blocked any inspection of the software program used to tabulate the votes in the disputed election.
The 1996 GOP Primaries
The first GOP contest of the current presidential race was the Alaskan caucus on February 6, 1996. Alaskan Republicans participated by showing up at a predetermined site and physically voting right on the spot. The result was then counted and announced in front of everyone. If voting was done by raised hands, the results were seen by all present. Where paper ballots were used, the ballots were checked and rechecked with onlookers from every camp—then and there. Pat Buchanan won the Alaskan caucus (in the teeth of sustained propaganda from the mainstream media), beating Bob Dole two-to-one, and Phil Gramm four-to-one.
Next came the Louisiana primary, which had been tailored to guarantee a victory for neighboring Texas Senator Phil Gramm. Louisiana was largely a voting machine election, and so not, strictly speaking, verifiable. There are too many ways (well-documented ways) that a voting machine can be rigged without the voters being able to detect it. But in this primary, with only 42 voting locations for the entire state, any observer could see the long lines of patient citizens wearing Buchanan paraphernalia. And with the Buchanan campaign conducting some of its own exit polls, stealing the election would have been risky business. Though Buchanan somehow lost a delegate overnight, he was awarded 13 delegates to Gramm’s eight.
Next came the Iowa Caucuses, where Senator Dole for months was widely touted as the state’s “third senator” by all four of the major TV networks. I landed in Dubuque, Iowa, about three weeks before the February 12th caucus to work for a Buchanan victory. What immediately caught my attention was that all four major TV networks were publishing polls purporting that 28 percent of Iowans were for Dole, 26 percent for Forbes, and 12 percent for Buchanan. Then, two days before the caucuses, all four major networks simultaneously changed their tune. Suddenly Forbes was dropping like a rock due to his “negative” advertising. Hedging their bets at the last minute, the networks now spoke of 40 percent undecided. Observing this firsthand fueled mv long-held suspicion: the polls released by the networks are designed more to mold public opinion than to reflect it. But in this case, the propaganda had failed. People were still flocking to Buchanan.
Yet, this strong support for Buchanan notwithstanding, at four minutes before 7:00 P.M., Central Time—four minutes before the Iowa Caucuses were to begin—Peter Jennings announced on ABC that Dole was the projected winner on the purported basis of a network entrance poll. At one minute after 7:00, the AP wire announced the same thing.
Contrast this with the recent Israeli election, where, despite exit polling, no media were able to project the winner until three days after the election. Why? Because that was a real election with checks and balances. No one could possibly rig it from a central location.
At the end of caucus night the major networks reported that Dole had indeed edged out Buchanan (who was supposed to receive only 12 percent of the vote according to the polls being published by all four major TV networks only three days earlier) 26 to 23 percent out of 100,000 votes cast, with the other candidates trailing far behind. However, the next morning something came to light which calls into question the legitimacy of these published results. Had Buchanan really “lost” Iowa, or was it stolen from him? What happened in Dubuque County may hold the key.
Dubuque County, Iowa
The people of Dubuque County, Iowa, ran a completely open and honest election. The county’s 41 precincts caucused in 41 classrooms at two local high schools. The participants in each classroom voted on easily read paper ballots, and the ballots were counted at the front of the classroom with candidate representatives welcome to observe. Representatives from competing factions in each classroom then ran their results down the hall to the county chairman, who waited with a cell phone. The county chairman invited each group to stay as he phoned in the results—just to be sure he did not make a mistake. The results from all 41 precincts in the county were then posted on a chalkboard where representatives from the various campaigns could double check them. Everything checked out; Buchanan 870, Dole 359, Keyes 245, the rest far behind. (A copy of the official tally sheets from all 41 precincts in Dubuque County are on file.)
But where had that GOP county chairman, as well as all the rest of the local Iowa Republican caucus leaders, been directed to call in his results? To the GOP State Committee? To the Iowa Secretary of State? No, to VNS in New York City. This means that the GOP state party had willingly abdicated its responsibility by turning over the vote tabulation to a media-controlled service—VNS. Indeed, in a letter to an outraged constituent dated June 6, 1996, Senator Charles Grassley admits: “Since 1988, the Iowa Caucuses have operated under the system whereby the precinct gives its results to the county, which, in turn passes the information on to the ‘official’ reporting outlet, the Voter News Service (VNS). The State Republican Party has no role in this reporting process and no independent verification of the votes. VNS is the first entity to get the results and then it reports them.” (The Senator is wrong on one point. In the vast majority of eases where the precincts in a county are not meeting at one or two centralized locations, each precinct caucus leader calls directly to VNS in New York City.)
So how did VNS handle its stewardship in Dubuque County during the 1996 GOP Iowa Caucuses? Badly, and perhaps criminally. By the next morning, only ten hours later, VNS had sent false (or falsified) results back to the Associated Press to be published all over Iowa. Buchanan had “lost” 13 percent of his vote in Dubuque County as it passed through the VNS and AP offices on its way back to the Des Moines Register. The AP reported that Buchanan had garnered only 757 votes—down from the 870 he had actually received. If VNS shorted Buchanan even four percent on average across Iowa, then Patrick J. Buchanan, not Senator Robert Dole, won the Iowa Caucuses.
Calls from multiple witnesses to GOP state headquarters and VNS brought arrogant, insulting responses. There was no interest in seriously discussing, let alone correcting, the “mistake.” VNS admitted nothing. Iowa GOP headquarters insisted that they were in VNS’s hands, and had to wait for the “official results”—which, as of Labor Day, had still not been published. Copies of the February 13,1996, Des Moines Register, the Cedar Rapid Gazette, and a final fax made to the various campaigns from VNS are on file. A comparison of these sources against the official tally proves that 13 percent (or 113 votes) disappeared from the Buchanan column overnight.
How? Why? First, this incident proves that fraudulent tallies can indeed make it through “the system,” even though eyewitnesses had been present at the local level to verify the true count from beginning to end. All VNS needed in this case (ultimately a Republican Party event) was the abdication of all responsibility by the Republican Party of Iowa, which Senator Grassley confirms did indeed occur. In most elections, however, the circle of acquiescing public “servants” must be widened to include state and county election officials, who in fact rely on experts from a handful of computer programming companies nationwide. (According to Ronnie Duggar’s November 1988 article in the New Yorker, one company, Shouptronie, accuses B.R.C./Cronus of having a virtual monopoly on counting votes in the United States.) These companies provide election night “services,” usually at outrageously expensive fees. The state and county officials sign the results placed in front of them by these helpful experts. VNS provides the “projections” based on the alleged exit polls, which are in turn announced by the big four TV networks shortly after the polls close. The early projections invariably come true. As always, because of its integral relationship to ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, and AP, VNS can count on little scrutiny (usually none) from the mainstream press.
Second, if our impromptu team had not been in Iowa watching for vote fraud, chances are that no one would have caught the still uncorrected falsification in Dubuque County. Third, it is important to note that the citizens of Iowa fulfilled their responsibility honestly and thoroughly in Dubuque County. After phoning their results into VNS as they were directed to do by State Republican headquarters, they went home confident that they had done their civic duty. Isn’t this the way it is in all 50 states and all 3,075 counties?
A contrast of the Arizona primary with the Iowa Caucuses speaks volumes. In Arizona, Buchanan was attracting large crowds everywhere. He was doing every radio show in the state. His signs were seemingly everywhere. Forbes, even after an overwhelming media blitz, was drawing comparatively listless crowds in the few places he showed up. Dole had stiff-armed the people of Arizona by not even participating in the primary debate. He only visited Arizona once between October 11, 1995, and primary day, February 27, 1996.
Karen Johnson, the Buchanan Campaign Arizona State Coordinator, got a call on the afternoon of the election from Governor Fife Symington. The governor congratulated her on what he said would be a decisive Buchanan victory based on his sources inside CBS. Senator McCain drafted a congratulatory letter that was never issued due to sudden “reversals of fortune” right after the polls closed. In fact, all four networks (Judy Woodruff at CNN was especially emphatic) asserted right after the polls closed in Arizona that “their exit polls” showed that Dole would definitely come in third, and that it was between Forbes and Buchanan for first place. But then some computer magic occurred, and Buchanan, we are told, was in a distant third. In fact, all four of the major TV networks called the primary election wrong based on VNS exit polls! We have apologies on tape from Ted Koppel (ABC) and Bernard Shaw (CNN). ABC’s Hal Bruno offered the lame excuse that the networks got it wrong because they had never reported on an Arizona primary before.
Space will not allow a full analysis of the dubious “exit polls” supposedly conducted by VNS every election day (though an indispensable scrutiny of the subject can be found in Votescam). Likewise, the explosive subject of absentee ballots must be relegated to another time. Early reports tried to explain Forbes’ victory in Arizona by absentee ballots, which had been uncharacteristically counted by the time the polls had closed. Nor is there space to examine in depth the special law passed by the Arizona legislature forbidding a recount in this one primary election. And only brief mention can be made of the shocking and sudden seizure of ballot boxes in the Phoenix area at about two o’clock in the afternoon of election day—under the pretext of getting an “early start” on the count. Also, we must gloss over the 60,000 duplicate white voter cards that were issued to voters in the Phoenix area.
The issuing of these duplicate voting cards was admitted in the final election report. But don’t worry! Election officials assure us that only two people had voted twice. They had done elaborate cross checking, you understand, after the election. When asked by Votescam author Jim Collier for the paperwork and work orders verifying that such a comprehensive check had been done (per the impossible, for how would the election officials know who the duplicate voters had voted for?), the election officials stonewalled. They produced nothing to back their claim, and have produced nothing to this day, though they arc supposed to be, remember, servants of the people.
And still looming over all of this is Arizona’s computerized vote-counting system. On the day of the primary, I called Arizona’s state elections director, Lisa Daniels. I am grateful that she took my call, for many in her position would not have. I asked her, “Who programmed the computers that are going to count the votes tonight in Arizona?” Her answer: “I think in [she named one southern county] that [she named a husband and wife team] programmed the computer.” I followed up, “How about the rest of the state?” She replied, “I can get you the name of the company that did it, and maybe they can tell us the person who programmed the software.”
Now the point of this story is not to ridicule Lisa Daniels. Her sincerity is proven by her willingness to answer my call. But a week later she would sign a document swearing that the ballot results were true and accurate—although she, as the state’s elections director, had absolutely no way of verifying the results she was legitimizing with her signature and did not even know who had programmed the computers responsible for these results. Again, this is not surprising to those few of us who have been doggedly trodding this road for some years now. Most of the election officials do not know any more about computer programming than the average citizen. They are politicos on the way up. They need the job. They are told that on election night such and such a company (handsomely paid) comes in and runs the computers and tabulates the voting. They then sign the results.
What Can We Do?
It is imperative that we act immediately, for as bad as things are now, the situation could grow worse. For example, almost all “mechanical” voting machines now have a small computer integrated into their inner workings. In many venues, computers are in use which send only a bleep of energy (no paper trail) for each vote recorded. We are supposed to make a blind “act of faith” that these bits of cyber-energy are accurately recorded and tallied. The possibility of fraud increases dramatically when phone voting and voting by mail are considered. The latter method is popular with the media, and the state of Oregon, in fact, has already “elected” a left-wing senator via the U.S. Post Office. The “conservative” Republican who “lost” this completely unverifiable “election” (which took place over several weeks) wasn’t smart enough to hold office anyway, since he apparently failed to object to such a corrupt process. Ross Perot brought “mail order” elections to a new level of silliness when he allowed e-mail, faxes, and mail-ins to be counted in the process which nabbed him this year’s Reform Party nomination. One person I ran into at the Republican National Convention in San Diego showed me four Reform Party ballots that he could have used had he desired to do so.
Since the major TV networks have gone so far as to hide the existence of VNS and its fellow travelers from the American people for over two decades, and since 99.9 percent of the officeholders in the United States are petrified of the big media, there is little hope at this time of a bona fide investigation into VNS and the handful of election-night “service providers.” But thousands of alerted citizens can rally behind a strategy to force this issue into the open.
There is a little-known law still enforced by the Federal Communications Commission stating that radio and television stations must carry the message of political candidates, provided such commercials do not contain profanity. If the station refuses to run the candidate’s message, then he or she has the right to file immediately for, and receive, ownership of the license of that station. Through a willing candidate, citizens can make their voices heard on the issue of vote fraud, or on any other issue, for that matter.
My organization’s current goal is to raise money for radio and cable TV commercials nationwide to highlight the importance of restoring verifiable elections. We mounted our first offensive during the week of the Republican Convention in San Diego, and over a three-day period, 65 radio commercials were run on KOGO and KSDO; some of them ran locally during the Rush Limbaugh, Gordon Liddy, and Michael Reagan shows.
If fair and free elections are ever to reign in America again, citizens in every county of the country must organize and demand easily read paper ballots, hand-counted by neighbors in each precinct in full public view, with the results posted at each polling place before the ballots leave the precinct.
Millions of our ancestors have fought and bled and died in an effort to protect our right to free and fair elections and to an orderly, peaceful transfer of power. The time is long overdue for the current generations to renew their commitment to this precious right, and individuals interested in learning more about vote fraud may visit our Internet site (www.networkusa.org) or write us at Cincinnatus PAC, P.O. Box 11339, Cincinnati, Ohio 45211, or phone: 513-984-4284.