by Bo Filter
Tribute to Athan Lee Gibbs, Sr.
Athan Gibbs died under suspicious circumstances in a two-vehicle collision just north of Nashville on March 12. He had begun marketing the US-government-certified TruVote voter validation and verification system, a touch screen machine that gives voters a verifiable paper audit trail.
The machine issues a number that the voter can verify through an election office printout, a toll free number or a secure site on the internet. The machine rectifies voting irregularities cited by a joint study conducted by the Carnegie Corporation, Cal Tech and MIT. The joint project found that between four and six million votes were lost in the 2000 election. The Tennessee General Assembly presented Gibbs with a joint resolution honouring his invention.
In Washington, Congress is deliberating bills that will mandate Gibbs’s voter verifiable paper audit trail (VVPAT). Some States have moved ahead. Ohio, Nevada and California have executive orders directing county election officials to only buy electronic voting machines equipped with the VVPAT.
Gibbs was driven by his experiences growing up in Memphis. During the 1950s and ‘60s, he watched minorities struggle to exercise their right to vote. He decided to act after reviewing a US study of the 2000 presidential election. The Commission on Civil Rights found that votes cast by African-Americans in the decisive state of Florida were 10 times more likely to be rejected. Readers may recall the many media reports of complaints during that election about large numbers of missing votes from democratically controlled black counties.
Just prior to the election, Jeb Bush, Florida’s governor and brother of the president, openly boasted on television that he would “deliver Florida” to the Republican ticket. On election day voter complaints forced a recount. Al Gore appeared to be winning. The count was stopped. Then, without a Constitutional mandate, a Republican-filled supreme court appointed George W. Bush to the presidency. To stop the vote and impose authority constitutes a coup d’etat, a denunciation of democratic process. Why Americans did not revolt is unclear.
To put salve on the wound, the state of Florida declared that sweeping election reforms would be legislated. Yet, the 2002 primary election proved to be no better. Electronic voting machines continued to make votes disappear. For instance, in Boca Raton, popular mayor Emil Danciu came in third, 8 percent under expectations. He suspected foul play when his stronghold home precinct reported low numbers.
Electronic voting system expert Rebecca Mercuri reported during court proceedings that California-based Sequoia Voting Systems had sold its machines under trade secret protection, disallowing proper inspection. So what is Sequoia?
According to researcher Steve Moore, Sequoia is one of three voting-system manufacturers, all Republican-led corporations actively trying to elect Bush. The other two are Ohio-based Diebold Election Systems and Omaha-based Election Systems and Software. Moore observes that by leaving “absolutely no verifiable paper trail,” the big three are helping to rig the November 2 election, instigating a “bloodless coup.” Moore backs up his claim by pointing to 2002 voting results. For example, in Georgia, incumbent Democratic Governor Ray Barnes was defeated, giving the Republicans their first victory there in 134 years. The poll results showed a miraculous 12-point shift in the last 48 hours. Right after the vote, Diebold erased all the ballots, leaving no record or paper trail. In Minnesota and Colorado, Senate races produced the same surprise Republican victories, giving them control of the US Senate.
Diebold’s CEO, Walden O’Dell is a major fundraiser for Bush, writing to contributors in 2003 that he was “committed to helping Ohio deliver its electoral votes for the president next year.” With the big three’s machines in many other states, an election landslide seems eminent. So what might save the day in the last hour?
A California voting systems panel has charged O’Dell with deceptive business practices, which may lead to criminal charges. For instance, Diebold installed uncertified software in its machines in 17 counties without notifying state officials. Worse, a manipulation mechanism was found hidden in the Diebold central tabulator. A two-digit code creates a second vote set, which in turn cues the voting system to read the totals from the bogus set of votes. The design took a dozen version adjustments to perfect, according to researcher Bev Harris. If a vote is not changed, it can go missing. Diebold spokesman David Bear told Vanity Fair that negative votes can be entered into its machines.
Researcher Lynn Landes says that voting machines will produce all of the election results for the upcoming 2004 presidential election, while Newsweek reports that they will be used by about 28 percent of the country, quite a discrepancy but still enough to throw the election. If Republicans stole Senate power in the 2002 election, what can we expect for 2004? The number of states requiring VVPAT machines appears too small to hold off a massive voting sham. Landes warns her fellow Americans that they are “missing the boat on the biggest crisis facing our democracy … Americans aren’t really voting. Machines are. Call it faking democracy.” Their government will not be coming to the rescue. Hilary Clinton has co-sponsored a bill to require a paper trail, but it has been stalled in Congress. Only seven of 229 Republicans have signed on to the bill, prompting Steve Moore to wonder if “they’ve got Georgia on their minds.” Athan Gibbs’s dream will have to wait a little longer, providing that the individual states can wake up in time to do the job of Congress.
Bo Filter is author of the newly released book: The Cause of Wars and Aggression. www.globaljusticepublishing.com. See also www.globalresearch.ca and