Conspiracy Nation -- Vol. 12 Num. 47 ======================================= ("Quid coniuratio est?")
On November 2, 1998, one day before the November 3rd election, the ABC television network had briefly posted to Internet what appeared to be actual election results. "How could ABC know the election results one day before the election?" some wondered. ABC's apparent mistake in posting the "election results" prematurely led to speculation that their seeming blunder in fact supported the "Votescam" theory.
-+- The Votescam Theory -+-
Some may object to calling "Votescam" a theory. In their book, Votescam, authors Jim and Ken Collier do provide a fair amount of evidence that the use of computers to tabulate election results makes the process especially vulnerable to fraud. The question is not whether election fraud exists -- it does -- but whether it exists so massively that =all= major political contests are fixed and the voters themselves, therefore, play no real part in the process.
-+- Votescam: Background -+-
In an article by Clark Matthews, published in the Spotlight newspaper ("Computer Bandits Can Steal Votes," 11/14/94), that newspaper's science and technology expert gives an overview of how computer fraud can make vote fraud easier to accomplish. Matthews writes, in part, that
the rapid spread of advanced computer technology throughout the American election process is a cause of growing concern to citizens and computer professionals around the country... [Some of these computer technologies] are deeply troubling -- or carefully hidden from public view. And the companies backing these technologies have very deep pockets and a mysterious knack for insinuating their equipment into major voting jurisdictions...
Adding credibility to concerns about computerized vote fraud is an article which appeared in The New Yorker magazine ("The Annals of Democracy," by Ronnie Dugger. November 1988). Matthews notes how Ronnie Dugger, author of the article
conducted an in-depth investigation of electronic balloting. Almost everywhere he looked, he uncovered a voter's worst nightmare. Dugger focused on Computer Election Services (CES). At that time CES was the largest provider of computer ballots and tabulating equipment in the country... [The computers] came complete with external switches that allowed vote totals to be altered from outside of the machine. The vote counting software used by the machines was top secret.
In light of the warnings given about videotaping voters issued during this latest election season, supposedly due to concerns about intimidation of black voters and others, it is especially interesting how Matthews relates what had happened to Jim Collier (co-author of Votescam) when he, seeking concrete proof of vote fraud, tried some videotaping of his own:
...Jim Collier entered the county elections' computer facility with his video camera... [but] Collier was thrown out of the building, camera and all... [Collier had] videotaped an election worker running the same stack of punch-cards through the old-fashioned tabulating computer again and again and again.
-+- Vote Fraud: How Massive? -+-
Yes, there is vote fraud. Yes, the use of computer technology makes that vote fraud easier to get away with, since there is not so clear of a paper trail nowadays as there was when paper ballots were prevalent. But has the vote fraud become so massive that all election results can be known ahead of time? Conspiracy Nation does not think it's gotten that bad -- yet. If the process has become systematically rigged at the national level, then why are politicians of both parties in such a frenzy to receive campaign contributions? If the nationwide system were truly rigged, it would be hardly important how much money any politician had in their "war chest." Also, a preliminary comparison by Conspiracy Nation between ABC's one-day-early "results" and the actual election results shows that ABC was =not= omniscient; ABC's one-day-early "results" were sometimes inaccurate. For example, a quick check shows ABC had had Alfonse D'Amato as the winner in New York, but Charles "Little Chuckie" Schumer was the actual winner. ABC had had Jim Hodges losing to David Beasley in South Carolina's gubernatorial contest, but Hodges in fact won.
-+- The Real Systemic Vote Fraud -+-
But there =is= a type of nationwide, systemic vote fraud going on of which there can be no doubt. Congress has failed to tackle campaign finance reform. Through "soft money" contributions, donors of such funds receive a quid pro quo from legislators: political access and favorable legislation. Evidence of just what a sweet deal large corporations have been receiving from the U.S. Congress appears in, of all places, Time magazine ("Special Report: Corporate Welfare, a System Exposed," 11/9/98). In the first installment of a special series which Time says will continue in coming weeks, details are given on just how much of a bonanza corporations have been receiving, courtesy of the U.S. taxpayer. Time magazine says that $125 billion is given away yearly by the federal government in what Time calls "corporate welfare." The standard excuse for these enormous give-aways is that they result in increased employment. But Time smashes that myth: Fortune 500 companies "have erased more jobs than they have created this past decade, and yet they are the biggest beneficiaries of corporate welfare." Unfortunately, Time magazine does not, thus far, point out the obvious connection between campaign contributions received from corporate donors and the subsequent corporate welfare in its otherwise excellent report.
-+- Conclusion -+-
Systematic computerized vote fraud, at a national level, is not in place -- yet. But vote fraud, always occuring in U.S. history, still goes on and is probably on the rise. The use of computers in the election process makes it easier to sabotage honest elections, and can make nationwide, systemic vote fraud a reality. The most glaring and unremedied vote fraud, campaign donations which elevate money to pre-eminence in the election process, remains legal.
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