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<nettime> MLK is Back - and He's Trying to E-Vote
Soenke Zehle on Fri, 29 Aug 2003 19:09:51 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> MLK is Back - and He's Trying to E-Vote

I looked into some of the touch-screen voting issues (some say these, not
Arnie's house-cleaning-campaign will be the cause of the real disaster in
the upcoming CA recall elections) when the Diebold case bubbled up from
the depths of blog to the surface of mainstream media. [1]

As far a I can tell, one of the most important initiatives in reponse to
the introduction of e-voting systems is the call for a paper ballot (aka
voter verifiable audit trail requirement) to make sure ballots can be
recounted when sth goes awry.[2,3]

What I already thought then was, however, that such a recount will only
take place when someone thinks that there's sth fishy about the results in
the first place - and as the Florida elections showed, even mainstream
coverage of irregularities doesn't necessarily prompt substantial
investigations. So here we go - MLK III is taking up the issue, putting
yet another spin on e-voting activism, sz

[1] <http://www.jhu.edu/~news_info/news/home03/jul03/rubin.html>
[2] <http://www.notablesoftware.com/evote.html#Statement>
[3] <http://www.ss.ca.gov/elections/taskforce.htm>

[via greg palast newsletter]

Watch the 2-minute film starring Katherine Harris
Plus: Palast meets King

Thursday, August 28, 2003

On the 40th Anniversary of Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech at
the Washington Monument, BushFlash's Eric Blumrich has released, "Grand
Theft America." The two-minute flash animation stars Katherine Harris as the
leader of the gang that purged Black citizens from Florida voter rolls by
the thousands, handing the White House back to the Bush family. Watch it,
download it, pass it on at http://www.ericblumrich.com/gta.html

Plus: Yes! Magazine is publishing our latest warnings on the computer virus
known as "Dubya," programmed to disenfranchise Black voters before the 2004
election. Here's a taste of it ...

by Greg Palast and Ina Howard

At the dais, Martin Luther King spoke with the marchers: "We ask a simple
question. Do African Americans have the right to vote in the United States
of America?"

We have to blink. Speaking is Martin Luther King THE THIRD, son of the late
Nobel Laureate-and the year is 2003. Meeting in Birmingham in May, in the
run-up to the 40th anniversary celebration of his daddy's "I Have a Dream"
speech, King was warning that the man in the White House was hacking the
computers - and the result is a legalized attack on the Black voter that
could steal away 40 years of blood, sweat, tears and civil rights victories.

In 2002, with little public notice, Congress passed and the president signed
the "Help America Vote Act." When the Bush family wants to "help" us vote,
look out. Hidden behind the apple-pie-and-motherhood name lies a nasty civil
rights time-bomb.

The new law to "Help America Vote" will eat up $3.9 billion of taxpayers'
money, partly to tempt states and counties to adopt computerized
'touch-screen' voting. Why is King worried? The first elections with
computers produced vote-count horror shows that make one yearn for hanging
chads. In 2002, Comal County, Texas, tried out new computer voting
machines-and three Republican candidates each won their respective offices
with exactly 18,181 votes. "Isn't that the weirdest thing?" County Clerk Joy
Treater asked at the time. "We noticed it right away, but it is just a big

Just down the road in Scurry County, Texas, two unexpected landslide wins
for Republican candidates struck election clerks as just one coincidence too
many. That county's clerk, Joan Bunch, investigated and found that a
"faulty" computer chip had caused the county's optical scanner to record
Democratic votes as Republican instead. After two manual recounts and one
electronic recount using a replacement chip in the scanner, the Democratic
candidates were found to have won by large margins and the original results
were overturned.

King is not so na´ve as to believe vote-count errors are race neutral. In
the presidential election of 2000, 1.9 million ballots cast were NEVER
COUNTED by tally machines-"spoiled" in the language of elections officials.
But the spoilage rate has a distinctly racial profile: The massive Harvard
University Civil Rights Project study released last year found that it was
50 percent more likely for a black vote to be "spoiled" than a white vote.
In Florida, the U.S. Civil Rights Commission found that a black vote was
nearly 10 times as likely as a white vote to be rejected.

Machinery, computerized or otherwise, has made the racial bend of lost votes
worse. In our investigations in Florida for BBC television of London we
found that in 2000 paper ballots read by optical scanners in the county with
the highest black population were 25 times as likely to be rejected as those
cast in the neighboring majority white county, using the same paper
ballots-but a different automated counting system.

Unlike paper ballots, there's no "audit" trail on touch screen computers. If
the machine is messed with, or even crashes of its own volition (that's
happened a few times with computers), there is no way to tell how people
actually voted.

And it's not just the computers in the voting booths that gives civil rights
leaders the jitters. More frightening still is the "Help America Vote" law
requirement that every state in the USA imitate Florida's system of
computerizing and "purging" voter rolls of suspect voters.

King knows darn well the color of the voters that will be purged - because
he saw how the operation worked in Florida. In the five months leading up to
the 2000 presidential election, Florida Governor Jeb Bush and his Secretary
of State Katherine Harris ordered the removal of 57,700 voters from Florida'
s vote registries.

The official reason? Those they targeted were felons, ex-cons who had
illegally registered to vote. The truth? Virtually every voter they
"scrubbed" from the voter rolls is innocent of any crime-except that the
majority were guilty of Voting While Black. There's no guessing about this;
Florida voter registrations include each citizen's race.

Most of us have become lazy about civil rights. But the old lions of the
60's marches have remained vigilant. The road they have traveled is long and
the sacrifices too many to let down their guard.

The ethnic cleansing of black voters from the Florida registries, and the
new plan to infect the nation with the Bush Administration's Jim Crow
computer scheme, is the wake-up call for a new activism that must be fought
in the Birminghams and Selmas of cyberspace. Now it's your turn. Click in,
sign on . to ML King's voting rights petition at

Get a printable, mail-in version of King's voting rights petition at

Greg Palast is the author of The New York Times bestseller "The Best
Democracy Money Can Buy." Ina Howard is coordinating the petition drive.
Sign up for Palast's investigative reports at

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