Commentary — October 22, 2012, 2:27 pm

An Excerpt From “How to Rig an Election”

Editor’s Note: The full text of “How to Rig an Election” is now available to all readers for free here.

In 2002, George W. Bush signed the Help America Vote Act (HAVA), offering states $3.9 billion in subsidies to modernize their election administration and equipment, purportedly in response to Florida’s hanging-chad fiasco of 2000. HAVA mandated that every polling place provide at least one voting system that allowed disabled people to vote with the same “privacy and independence” accorded to nondisabled voters. Thanks to confusing language in HAVA itself, and even a misleading report issued by the Congressional Research Service, one might easily assume that the mandate called for the purchase of DRE machines. In this way, the blind and visually impaired were unwittingly used as pawns to advance the agenda of the voting-machine industry. One election supervisor claims that Diebold went so far as to send him threatening letters after he sought out less expensive alternatives to service the disabled, even when these machines were compatible with Diebold’s systems.

This was not the only deception surrounding the rollout of these electoral Trojan horses. In a 2007 Dan Rather exposé, The Trouble with Touch Screens, seven whistle-blowers at Sequoia charged that company executives had forced them to use inferior paper stock for ballots during the 2000 election. What’s more, said the whistle-blowers, they had been instructed to misalign the chads on punch cards destined for the Democratic stronghold of Palm Beach County. “My own personal opinion was the touchscreen-voting system wasn’t getting off the ground like they would hope,” said Greg Smith, a thirty-two-year Sequoia employee. “So, I feel like they deliberately did all this to have problems with the paper ballots.”

Such blockbuster allegations are perhaps unsurprising given the group of Beltway insiders who helped to pass HAVA. One central player was former Republican representative Bob Ney of Ohio, sentenced in 2006 to thirty months in prison for crimes connected with disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff—whose firm was paid at least $275,000 by Diebold.

HAVA’s impact has been huge, accelerating a deterioration of our electoral system that most Americans have yet to recognize, let alone understand. We are literally losing our ballot—the key physical proof of our power as citizens.

Even a former major elections official has heaped scorn upon HAVA’s mission. DeForest Soaries was appointed by George W. Bush to head the Election Assistance Commission (EAC), which HAVA created to oversee security standards for new voting devices. Soaries stepped down in 2005, calling his office a “charade” and claiming that he had been deceived by both the White House and Congress. Washington politicians, Soaries declared in a 2006 radio interview, have apparently concluded that our voting system can’t be all that bad—after all, it got them elected. “But there’s an erosion of voting rights implicit in our inability to trust the technology that we use,” he added. “And if we were another country being analyzed by America, we would conclude that this country is ripe for stealing elections and for fraud.”


The full text of Victoria Collier’s “How to Rig an Election” is on newsstands now, and is available to subscribers here.

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is a writer and election-integrity activist living in Mexico.

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From the November 2012 issue

How to Rig an Election

The G.O.P. aims to paint the country red

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  • geezerpk

    Hey, wait a minute, I thought all the voting fraud arose from the lack of individual voter IDs! What a shock. ;-)

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/John-Sheets/1251217794 John Sheets

    This is no secret. Funny how Kerry (according to the exit polls won 76% of the vote but the electronic tally’s only gave him 38% of the vote. He lost by 50,000 votes. This stinks rotten, and may happen again. Romneys son owns a large part of the voting machine company. This could happen again.

  • Sugarstalk

    This sounds insane, scary but true.

  • mishara

    Harper’s should make this article free for the public!!! This is much too important to sequester away, and makes all other voter fraud concerns (the Republican 2012 effort) look like child’s play. THIS INFORMATION NEEDS TO GO VIRAL.

  • http://www.facebook.com/reinhold.tajovsky Reinhold Tajovsky

    Very good!!! I agree wih Mishara…it should go ,public in its entirety.

    It should also be noted that the Diebolt company was also involved in a scandal several years ago concerning the ATM machines it manufactures…and we still use daily.

  • http://twitter.com/RenegadeFL Scott Thomas

    Does anyone still believe at this point that there are limits to how far the GOP will go to win an election? In a Democracy it is vital that people have faith in the voting process. We have to remain vigilant or we lose that faith and our Democracy along with it.

  • Lorna

    Totally agree that as a public service, this article deserves to come out from behind the paywall. I want to post it on Facebook and Twitter and I’m sure others do, too. This is such an important and incredibly overlooked topic. The article seems well-reported to me and is quite scary and sobering.

  • Arlen

    I agree, this article should be made available to the public and not just for subscribers.

    • Hagen

      Besides, if it does go viral, that would be good for Harper’s.

  • James

    Harpers should be credited for creating interesting, quality journalism that readers want to read. Stop demanding that they make it free. You can support the journalists and the publication for less than $17 a year – so stop complaining and just subscribe and feel good about supporting a good media product!

    • http://www.laurenlipton.com/ Lauren Lipton

      Exactly.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_C6A4TBCEGDYSN6YG5ATKFQ6RSU Hugh

      Nobody’s demanding that it ALL be free. We’re saying this article is too important to keep behind a paywall. $17 is a lot of money in some households today – some of the very households that most need this information. Those who can afford it will be encouraged to see what else Harpers has to offer. Call it a loss-leader.

    • David Williams

      where’s your sense of perspective? this isn’t about “supporting a good media product”, this is about the future of our fucking republic. kudos to Victoria for writing such a brilliant piece.

  • Phaedrus

    Yes, the complete text of this really needs to be widely distributed and freely available. Please.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/OT2J3ES3AZ534HTKR6MOETISQI Todd

    This was the scariest thing I saw on Halloween.

  • Qian Jiu

    This looks amazing! so wonderful! Thank you for letting me know!You want to play wow game?You want to get WOW Gold?Choose it in http://www.mmolive.com/.

  • David Williams

    agreed, this article should be made free in its entirety online. Otherwise you’re just making the same mistake the left always makes. You’ve got a first-class article exposing the system? Great, now lock it away where only a few will see it.

    • Jonathan Bates

      Echoing my earlier reply…Assuming from your choice of words, Mr. Williams, that you might be a conservative and/or Republican, it seems odd that your comment advocates “socialized publishing” in a decidedly anticapitalist demand for the redistribution of news.

      There is a simple remedy to your complaint that you were denied access to the full article, and it would align with the pro-business and anti-”handout” positions most conservatives and Republicans consider sacred:

      Just buy yourself a copy of the Harper’s issue containing the article!

      While this might seem like an unreasonable proposal, any conservative could find solace in the fact that the cost of a newsstand issue of Harper’s is equal to the dollar value in food stamps a working-poor family is allocated for an entire day of meals: less than 8 bucks.

      Since you also chose the freeloader route and Harper’s was kind enough to respond by subsidizing your reading habits, the least you could do as an honorary member of the welfare class is write a short “Thank You” to the editors who accommodated your anti-business demand.

  • http://harpers.org/ Harper

    Hi everyone,

    Thanks very much for your thoughts. The full article is now available to all readers at http://harpers.org/archive/2012/11/how-to-rig-an-election/.

  • isaac pentlin

    Remember libs that you were worried about the voting machines being owned by ty Romney.Then also there are many cases coming and to come about people using disabled people to vote; stories about teachers threatening grades with college students by signing a pledge card; then about the many people who admitted to voter fraud by Obama. The Democrats pork policies are that you can only agree with one of their policies; while 50 others are bad for you as they succeed in dividing white against nonwhite..The old against the young; blacks against white.. there will always be division to take the attention off the evil..

    • Jonathan Bates

      Assuming from your choice of words, Mr. Pentlin, that you might be a conservative and/or Republican, it seems odd that your comment advocates “socialized publishing” in a decidedly anticapitalist demand for the redistribution of news.
      There is a simple remedy to your complaint that you were denied access to the full article, and it would align with the pro-business and anti-”handout” positions most conservatives and Republicans consider sacred:

      Just buy yourself a copy of the Harper’s issue containing the article!

      While this might seem like an unreasonable proposal, any conservative could find solace in the fact that the cost of a newsstand issue of Harper’s is equal to the dollar value in food stamps a working-poor family is allocated for an entire day of meals: less than 8 bucks.

      Since you chose the freeloader route and Harper’s was kind enough to respond by subsidizing your reading habits, the least you could do as an honorary member of the welfare class is write a short “Thank You” to the editors who accommodated your anti-business demand.

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