The following comes from RFK, Jr.’s latest article in
Rolling Stone, which I sent out the other day. I reproduce
it here because it finally proves that Bush & Co. robbed
Max Cleland of his Senate seat in 2002-just as many of
us have been arguing for the last four years, on the basis
of the ample evidence already out there (and a little bit
of common sense).
How did the US press explain the GOP’s surprising victory
in that race? Chambliss won, the pundits said, because
Chambliss’s attack ads did the trick. Those ads had cast
Max Cleland as a traitor, because the Senator opposed
the creation of the Department of Homeland Security.
The charge was not only outrageous and absurd-Cleland
lost three limbs in Vietnam-but utterly irrelevant, as
Cleland was quite popular in Georgia, and had been set
to win, according to the polls. But when he “lost” despite
all that, the press accepted it, and quickly found themselves
a handy (if preposterous) explanation for it. This also
despite the fact that Diebold had lately taken over Georgia’s
Will the press now look back at that race and see that it
was scandalous? Probably not, unless we put it to them
loud and clear until they do.
Another question: Will Max Cleland now, at last, address
the crucial issue of his inexplicable “defeat”? So far he
has refused to say a single word about it, although
several of us has implored him to speak out. Maybe now
he’ll finally speak out as the patriot he really is.
Then, one muggy day in mid-August, Hood was surprised to see the president of Diebold’s election unit, Bob Urosevich, arrive in Georgia from his headquarters in Texas. With the primaries looming, Urosevich was personally distributing a “patch,” a little piece of software designed to correct glitches in the computer program. “We were told that it was intended to fix the clock in the system, which it didn’t do,” Hood says. “The curious thing is the very swift, covert way this was done.”
Georgia law mandates that any change made in voting machines be certified by the state. But thanks to Cox’s agreement with Diebold, the company was essentially allowed to certify itself. “It was an unauthorized patch, and they were trying to keep it secret from the state,” Hood told me. “We were told not to talk to county personnel about it. I received instructions directly from Urosevich. It was very unusual that a president of the company would give an order like that and be involved at that level.”
According to Hood, Diebold employees altered software in some 5,000 machines in DeKalb and Fulton counties – the state’s largest Democratic strongholds. To avoid detection, Hood and others on his team entered warehouses early in the morning. “We went in at 7:30 a.m. and were out by 11,” Hood says. “There was a universal key to unlock the machines, and it’s easy to get access. The machines in the warehouses were unlocked. We had control of everything. The state gave us the keys to the castle, so to speak, and they stayed out of our way.” Hood personally patched fifty-six machines and witnessed the patch being applied to more than 1,200 others.
The patch comes on a memory card that is inserted into a machine. Eventually, all the memory cards end up on a server that tabulates the votes – where the patch can be programmed to alter the outcome of an election. “There could be a hidden program on a memory card that adjusts everything to the preferred election results,” Hood says. “Your program says, ‘I want my candidate to stay ahead by three or four percent or whatever.’ Those programs can include a built-in delete that erases itself after it’s done.”
It is impossible to know whether the machines were rigged to alter the election in Georgia: Diebold’s machines provided no paper trail, making a recount impossible. But the tally in Georgia that November surprised even the most seasoned political observers. Six days before the vote, polls showed Sen. Max Cleland, a decorated war veteran and Democratic incumbent, leading his Republican opponent Saxby Chambliss – darling of the Christian Coalition – by five percentage points. In the governor’s race, Democrat Roy Barnes was running a decisive eleven points ahead of Republican Sonny Perdue. But on Election Day, Chambliss won with fifty-three percent of the vote, and Perdue won with fifty-one percent.
Diebold insists that the patch was installed “with the approval and oversight of the state.” But after the election, the Georgia secretary of state’s office submitted a “punch list” to Bob Urosevich of “issues and concerns related to the statewide voting system that we would like Diebold to address.” One of the items referenced was” Application/Implication of ‘0808’ Patch.” The state was seeking confirmation that the patch did not require that the system “be recertified at national and state level” as well as “verifiable analysis of overall impact of patch to the voting system.” In a separate letter, Secretary Cox asked Urosevich about Diebold’s use of substitute memory cards and defective equipment as well as widespread problems that caused machines to freeze up and improperly record votes. The state threatened to delay further payments to Diebold until “these punch list items will be corrected and completed.”
Diebold’s response has not been made public – but its machines remain in place for Georgia’s election this fall. Hood says it was “common knowledge” within the company that Diebold also illegally installed uncertified software in machines used in the 2004 presidential primaries – a charge the company denies. Disturbed to see the promise of electronic machines subverted by private companies, Hood left the election consulting business and became a whistle-blower. “What I saw,” he says, “was basically a corporate takeover of our voting system.”