[Rizzn’s note: this article was actually a reply to a broadcast email by Matthew to his private mailing list.  Matthew had forwarded an article about Bev Harris and votegate.tv in their investigation of fraud in Florida] 

I have a hard time believing the words of Bev Harris for a number of reasons. This article is just too fantastic to believe, and the scope of the conspiracy she is suggesting is out of this world. Let’s take a step back and examine it rationally for a moment.  Bev Harris, in the last parts of the article, did claim to be a non-partisan, non-biased person.  Let’s see how true this is under critical scrutiny… 

Her 2002 book Black Box Voting alleges clear links between Republicans and all major providers of e-voting technologies.  I was considering the implications of this last week after Joel posted the article by Larry Chin of the Online Journal  in his column called “The Stolen Election of 2004: Welcome Back to Hell,” a wonderfully balanced piece that asserted that Bush is a worse human than Hitler. Keep in mind, I have vastly superior experience in what software development is all about and what it takes to get a major piece of technology brought to the public when you compare me to any author that has deemed themselves worthy of imparting their wisdom so far on this matter.  I was thinking about all the developers needed to put together just the hardware, all the planning and management involved in software side, the embedded OS side, and everything else involved with making proprietary voting equipment as sophisticated as the Diebold system.  If I had to put a team together for it, I’d request at least 70 or so developers, network technicians, database managers, hardware engineers, kernel developers, and load testers.  As it turns out, 13,000 was the number of employees that Diebold used to create these systems (according the the Media Relations fellow we talked to this week).   

Granted, to put backdoors into systems, not every developer is required to know, but trust me, it’s not like in the movies where one guy can put a backdoor into a system, and then he can shut everyone down with a couple keystrokes.  If that was possible, don’t you think Bill Gates would have done that so he could catch all the people pirating his software?  He’d have a ball throwing all us peon pirates in jail. 

No, many many people would know about the backdoors that allow people to go in and modify votes if they existed. 

Which brings up a very valid point — the source code to the Diebold voting machines was supposedly leaked last year some time, and there were security flaws found in that.  If you search for rob-georgia.zip on a file-sharing network or on google, you’ll find both reference to it, and if you’re lucky, the actual source code. 

The truth is, however, no matter if you are able to change votes in a password protected Access database or not (a task a script kiddy could handle), you still have the problem of file dates to content with, which are written by the local machine, not the uploading machine.  And if the modems were plugged into the phone lines on the Diebold voting machines, as Bev often suggests that they are, and then the Access files were then uploaded after the voting period ended, the file dates would show a time that was inconsistent with what it should show as when the last vote was cast.  Is that clear?  Let me make it a bit clearer as I think I might be making it confusing… 

Let’s say from 9 am-5 pm is the voting period when votes are actively being taken in.  File dates contain both the date of the file as well as a time stamp. Now let’s say that everything went all kosher, and no fraud took place. The datestamp on the Access database would be the time when the last vote was cast (in this utopian scenario, let’s say it was 5:00 on the dot). 

In the fraudulent situation, there are two scenarios. A) the fraudulent database file was placed on the hard drive before or during the election process, and a batch file was hidden on the system to at the end of the day copy the file over the real database (this eventuality is very unlikely) or B) the fraudulent database file was uploaded after all voting took place, overwriting the existing database. 

In both cases, the polling station would show what should be an invalid datestemp.  No datestamp should read that polling ended at 11am,for instance, nor should it read that the last vote was cast at 6:30 pm, in this scenario. 

There then arise a couple eventualities given this data: A) the system was programmed to be fraudulent, and this programming was either endorsed by or ignored by the bulk of the 13,000 Diebold employees or B) All the election observers and poll workers in all counties don’t pay attention to datestemps on the votes. 

This is a complicated explanation, highly technical, and as eager as Bev Harris is to find something wrong, I can’t expect her to try to think of it, especially being a marketing person, not a technical person.  Instead, let’s look to her background.  First of all, she’s a marketing person, so her profession is to take an idea, figure out how to make a buck with it, and then figure out how to get as many people as possible to part with their cash for that idea.   

Let’s look at what she’s done… she, in 2002, had for two years been hearing the media and the left complain about Al Gore’s loss and all the allegations of election fraud, as have we all (unless you’ve been living under a rock).  [part one, the idea]  She then started writing a book about voting and voting fraud [part two, the product], and then began marketing herself all over the place to the already willing democrats (which account for roughly 50% of the population, if the poll numbers are to be believed) using her connections in the political and media arenas [part three, the money making part]. 

So in essence, Bev Harris is just another entrepreneur, with a vested interest in you continuing to believe that elections are always being held fraudulently.  She probably doesn’t care if the Republicans or the Democrats are involved, as long as there are people waiting to buy her materials and books. (and just because she also gives the book away for free doesn’t convince me she’s not in it for the money.  Viral marketing has proven key to many a winning business strategy since the mid-90’s). 

According to Bev’s biography on the disinfopedia.org entry, Bev used to run a PR company, but she has decided to focus strictly on electoral fraud, and that her and her team have filed the largest number of FOIAs in recorded history.  This fact tells me that she has created, or joined, a culture of like minded people.  If you read or listen to the audio version of my August 12th 2004 article “Training Baboons to Wipe Their Own Asses,” you will learn the damaging effects of strong cultural and subcultural influence on a human’s fact-finding abilities. A couple paragraphs are excerpted below

It was 1956 when Solomon Asch published a classic series of experiments in which he and his colleagues showed cards with lines of different lengths to clusters of their students. Two lines were exactly the same size and two were clearly not — the dissimilar lines stuck out like a pair of basketball players at a Brotherhood of Munchkins brunch. During a typical experimental run, the researchers asked nine volunteers to claim that two badly mismatched lines were actually the same, and that the real twin was a misfit. Now came the nefarious part: the researchers ushered a naieve student into the room filled with the collaborators and gave him the impression that the crowd already there knew just as little as he did about what was going on. Then a white-coated psychologist passed the cards around. One by one he asked the pre-dril

led shills to announce out loud which lines were alike. Each dutifully declared that two terribly unlike lines were duplicates. By the time the scientists prodded the unsuspecting newcomer to pronounce judgment; he usually went along with the bogus consensus of the crowd. In fact a full 75 percent of the clueless experimental subjects bleated in chorus with the herd. Asch ran the experiment over and over again. When he quizzed his victims of peer pressure after their ordeal was over, it turned out that many had done far more than simply going along to get along. They had actually seen the mismatched lines as equal. Their senses had been swayed more by the views of the multitude than by actuality.

To make matters worse, many of those whose vision hadn’t been deceived had still become inadvertent collaborators in the praise of the emperor’s new clothes. Some did it out of self-doubt. They were convinced that the facts their eyes reported were wrong, the herd was right, and that an optical illusion had tricked them into seeing things. Still others realized with total clarity which lines were identical, but lacked the nerve to utter an unpopular opinion. Conformity enforcers had tyrannized everything from visual processing to honest speech, revealing some of the mechanism which wrap and seal a crowd into a false belief.

It is possible it is this culture she’s involved in that would allow her to believe her own fantastic claims. It’s like that quote from The Usual Suspects, “To a cop, the explanation’s always simple … If you find a body and you think his brother did it, you’re going to find out that you’re right.”   

Here’s the most damning piece of evidence of all: the vastness implied by Bev’s allegations are too fantastic to believe. Allow me to quote the original article a little bit. 

From Kathleen Wynn, a Bev Harris Associate: “I don’t think you’ll ever see anything like this – Bev Harris having a tug of war with an election worker over a bag of garbage, and he held onto it and she pulled on it, and it split right open, spilling out those poll tapes. They were throwing away our democracy, and Bev wasn’t going to let them do it.” 

Another quote: 

A November 18 call to the Volusia County Elections Office found that Elections Supervisor Deanie Lowe was unavailable and nobody was willing to speak on the record with an out-of-state reporter. However, The Daytona Beach News (in Volusia County), in a November 17th article by staff writer Christine Girardin, noted, “Harris went to the Department of Elections’ warehouse on State Road 44 in DeLand on Tuesday to inspect original Nov. 2 polling place tapes, after being given a set of reprints dated Nov. 15. 

While there, Harris saw Nov. 2 polling place tapes in a garbage bag, heightening her concern about the integrity of voting records.” 

The picture this article paints is that not only were there republicans involved with the scam of the election, but also people from the election board on down to the poll workers.

Allow me to quote from a different article, one posted on rizzn.com by occasional contributor, Leo Johnson:

“Those numbers would translate into 3,261 Supervisors of Elections, plus that each supervisor would have employees (ranging from 6 to thousands, each) plus each voting district would have a canvassing board with a minimum of 3 people each (from both parties and or an “independent Judge”), each state would have a Secretary of State or comptroller to oversee the results before submitting them to the US federal governments plus each party has delegates to account for each electoral vote. Let alone the 191,000 voting precincts that each has poll workers and polling observers each. That would be by conservative averages involve a total of 2,194,570 co-conspirators. (That’s 652,400 SOE employees + 13,044 canvassing board members + 50 Secretaries of State + 1,076 Delegates + 1,528,000 poll place workers and observers ). Who would need rigged software? Just let the co-conspirators vote.”

The alleged conspiracy is too vast.  I believe the truth is that it’s impossible or more accurately highly improbable, that there is a vast right wing conspiracy, at least at the voting machine level, to keep Republicans in office.

Maybe I’m looking at this all wrong — I ended up voting for Michael Badnarik because the e-voting system I was polled with didn’t allow me to write in Ric Flair.  Who do I sue about that?  Recount my vote until Badnarik wins!  Heck, recount till Ric Flair wins! That’s the spirit!