Skip ahead to 31:19 for report by Greg Palast in Ohio on GOP Shenanigans
In the highly visible swing state of Ohio, arguably the most important battleground state during each presidential election, the computer touch screen voting systems have been so arcane and unaccountable that they have been derided as “push and pray” voting for the past two decades. They lacked a “paper trail” which could be audited and recounted in case the results are contested. And incredibly enough, up until the practice was outlawed in 2008, it was common practice for local poll workers to take the voting machines home with them for safekeeping in the days before the election.
This year, however, many of Ohio’s voting machines would be upgraded to include a brand new anti-hacking capability. The computers running the election software on the machines are now equipped with the built-in ability to take a snapshot of every voter card that gets loaded into its system, time stamp each marking, and preserve the images in an order that makes an accurate audit and recount possible.
Unfortunately, this security feature is not a mandatory, static provision that is permanently switched on – it’s optional. So in the case of Ohio’s shiny new tamper-proof voting machines, the security features were simply TURNED OFF.
This seems like strange behavior in light of the consecutive controversies surrounding Ohio’s historical tendency to produce highly suspicious election results every election cycle, most notably in 2004 when voter suppression, election tampering, and corruption resulted in the theft of the state for George W. Bush 4 years after the theft of Florida ensured his ascension to the presidency. The allocation of electronic voting machines all over the state seemed to heavily favor precincts where Bush was popular, with this illuminating discovery: “Of the 60 precincts with the fewest voting machines per registered voter, only 5 were won by Bush, and 55 were won by Kerry.” Or to elaborate on what that entails for Ohio Democratic voters:
“The withholding of voting machines from predominantly Democratic wards in the City of Columbus cost John Kerry upwards of 17,000 votes.”
Walden O’Dell, the then-CEO of the company known in 2003 as Diebold (before cycling through various name changes precipitated by a string of mergers and acquisitions, finally settling on Diebold Nixdorf as the company is known today after merging with German competitor Wincor Nixdorf) and brother of the top executive at ES&S (another electronic voting-machine manufacturer) had pledged fealty to the Republican incumbent: “I am committed to helping Ohio deliver its electoral vote to the President next year.”
Most important to the case for election fraud was the sworn testimony from Sherole Eaton, a Deputy Director of the Hocking County, Ohio, Board of Elections. In the affidavit, filed on December 13th in support of an ongoing lawsuit for an Ohio vote recount, Eaton described how a technician from Triad Election Systems, the company that had written the software and manufactured the computers that counted the votes — they made the “tabulators” — for 41 of the state’s 88 counties, entered her office on December 10th, claiming he needed “to check out your tabulator.” Triad is controlled by the Rapp family, and its founder Tod A. Rapp was a constant big money contributor to Republican causes. Triad officials had been observed in the process of manipulating tabulators in several other counties in Ohio. This cozy relationship between the Republican Party and election supply vendors was again flagged for concern in 2012, due to Mitt Romney‘s son Tagg having close financial ties to Hart InterCivic, the company that owns the electronic voting machines to be used in Ohio’s election that year. Because of Ohio’s historically critical role in the outcome of presidential races, and the extensive amount of evidence indicating repeated widespread election fraud, ballot tampering, and voter suppression throughout the past decade, plus the numerous reports warning that critical security flaws were still not patched in many of the voting machines in circulation, rendering them easily and extremely hackable. In addition to that, the Hillary campaign and federal intelligence agencies had been expressing fears of Russian hackers tampering with the US elections.
Voting rights attorney Robert Fitrakis made the discovery that the counties had “bought state-of-the-art equipment and turned off the security” – both the ballot imaging security function and the auditing security function that detects and records evidence of machine tampering. He discusses this case of election rigging along with investigative reporter Greg Palast on Democracy Now! in the video clip at the top of this article.
Fitrakis, who ran as the Green Party candidate for Franklin County Prosecutor, sought a temporary restraining order to require Ohio election officials to enable the ballot integrity functions on the new machines in a hearing that took place in the judge’s chamber in the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas in Columbus, the state capital of Ohio.
Attorneys representing the Republican Secretary of State as well as county officials from around the state offered no justification or reason for disabling the machines’ new ballot protection features, insisting instead that activating the security functions “would cause havoc.”
Armed with the voting machine’s user manual, Fitrakis pointed out that according to the manual’s instructions, turning on the security features would require no more than clicking a drop-down menu on the computer and selecting “record” images instead of “do not record.” A similar yes/no option was available for the audit application.
Regardless, the Republican judge presiding over the hearing, Judge David Cain, ruled that Fitrakis’ injunction was “borderline frivolous.” The argument made by Counsel for the state’s Republican Attorney General was that Fitrakis would have to return after the election with evidence proving the election was stolen. Considering he wouldn’t be able to make the case with an audit trail from the machines because the security features were shut off, this presented a conundrum of a catch-22.
In the end, Donald Trump‘s loud, vocal fears that the election would be rigged did manage to come to fruition in Ohio. Ironically, it was probably the Republicans rigging the election in his own favor.