Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Did Expert Witness, Activists Thwart a Rove Ohio Vote Plot?

Michael DunihoA software expert’s testimony last week may have thwarted a plot to flip enough votes to secure a victory for GOP Presidential nominee Mitt Romney.

Building on years of efforts by activists, election software critic Michael Duniho testified in Ohio's state court that secret software installed on Ohio machines could enable officials to flip enough votes to select a different statewide winner that the one chosen by voters. 

Duniho, a retired National Security Agency analyst, is shown at right in similar testimony in Arizona, where he is a local elections official. 

Jon HustedDuniho provided his explosive testimony first via telephone to a federal judge in a temporary restraining order hearing in the morning, and then to Franklin County Judge Mark Serrott to amplify his written affidavit, published here. The testimony supported an injunction request by election machine critics who have argued for years -- with scant previous success in courts and in the media -- that election machine software tampering has enabled theft of major elections, and thus poses a grave danger to the democratic process.

On Election Day 2012, their litigation and testimony raised the issue to unprecedented prominence. The litigation against state officials would have put any plotters on notice of serious threat of investigation and retribution. 

The contrary view is that no plot ever existed -- and that Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted, shown at left, and fellow Republicans are being falsely suspected of bad intentions. Husted has denied misconduct in court filings. I reached out to him also for more specific questions, and shall update this post with any comment he or his staff provide. The Ohio Secretary of State's website contains background information.

This column reports Duniho’s testimony, and summarizes other evidence that election software poses a threat to fair elections. Reported also are: an Oct. 24 news conference announcing a chart alleging a Rove-linked “empire” of vote theft; a half dozen recent books on electronic election fraud; and a survey of a decade of major scandals, books, and articles.
The documentation draws on my previous columns, my research for a forthcoming book, Presidential Puppetry, and my ongoing interactions with research sources, several of whom asked my advice concerning their recent  news announcements in Washington. I suggested they announce litigation before Election Day because the public tunes out complaints from losers.

Update: I am scheduled to appear Nov. 12 on vote theft-critic Harvey Wasserman's 3 p.m. (EST) radio show on the Progressive Radio Network to discuss next steps with him and his fellow pioneer in the election integrity movement, Robert Fitrakis, a 2012 Green Party Congressional candidate. Fitrakis, based in Columbus, is a professor, attorney, website editor, and co-author of several books with Wasserman. Fitrakis filed the suit alleging electronic voting theft in Ohio’s 2004 presidential election and elsewhere.

Theirs and my multiple roles are increasingly typical in modern communications. Many news makers blog and broadcast these days, thereby blurring the lines between being a news source and part of the media. 

An even greater departure from past categories is that Karl Rove covered the Democratic National Convention September on a press pass. This was while he was also in the process of spending an estimated $300 million to help Republican candidates via his American Crossroads and Crossroads GPS funds. Also, he was allegedly scheming to steal elections via software fraud and voter suppression. Rove, like Husted, denies wrongdoing, and failed to respond to my request for comment on specifics. Whatever the facts on election fraud, Rove clearly is part of the Washington punditry elite delivering news to the nation.

The Duniho Testimony

Michael “Mickey” Duniho is a volunteer election official in Pima County, Arizona. He became prominent this fall among electronic voting machine critics because of his videotape testimony in an Arizona case arguing that dishonest officials can easily steal votes electronically. The photo above portrays that testimony, not his remarks by telephone in the Ohio litigation Nov. 6.

Duniho worked nearly four decades as a National Security Agency computer expert before his retirement. NSA is far larger and more secretive than the better-known CIA. It has vast information gathering and storage capabilities reported, among other places, in a series of authoritative books by former NSA staffer James Bamford.

Duniho claimed that the United States faced the threat of vote theft in Ohio because Husted, Ohio's secretary of state, had secretly installed software on voting machines covering 80 percent of the state’s population for no apparent legitimate purpose. The witness said the software could enable vote theft by officials, and no actual “emergency” required its installation throughout Ohio in violation of a state law requiring testing before installation. Also, Duniho said the voting machine company, Electronic Systems and Solutions (ES&S), appeared to be cheating the state on the cost of the software.

Clifford Arnebeck
Husted’s legal team rebutted Duniho’s affidavit and testimony. The presiding state court judge failed to issue the injunction requested by the plaintiff.

A whistleblower in Husted’s office prompted the litigation by telling the Fitrakis team Thursday that the state secretly installed the controversial software in September. The Fitrakis suit was one of several he filed in state and federal courts last week with the cooperation of Columbus attorney Clifford Arnebeck, at left.

The litigation failed to attract much news coverage from major news outlets. Historically, reporters ignore allegations of electronic vote fraud as, in general, too complex and controversial. NBC News Political Director and Chief White House Correspondent Chuck Todd sent a Tweet this fall claiming election machine fraud is a “conspiracy theory” unworthy of coverage. 

Similarly, the New York Times published on Nov. 8 what can only be described as a biased, mocking profile of Mark Crispin Miller, a New York University professor and author who has documented election fraud. The Times article was A Long Day for a Professor Suspicious of Voting Machines. In contrast to the snide approach by the Times reporter, a YouTube video garnered more than 80,000 views with its more straightforward interview, visible here: None Dare Call It Stolen: US Election Fraud in 2012?
Despite such handicaps, the litigation last week doubtless reminded elections decision-makers that civil and perhaps criminal investigation could await them if dubious election results occurred. A reporter such as NBC's Chuck Todd can ignore a story. A defendant must respond in court, sometimes by sworn testimony that could potentially escalate into a criminal investigation that trumps secrecy provisions in official contracts with private vote tabulation companies.

The Secretary of State's Role?
Several voting theft opponents allied with Fitrakis and Arnebeck helped publicize the Ohio-litigation with a news conference Nov. 5 at the National Press Club in Washington, DC. Speakers included Clint Curtis, a Florida IT consultant who helped pioneering whistle blowing in the field by alleging that a Florida congressman asked  him to help defraud voters in the 2000 election. Also speaking were Harvey Wasserman, a frequent co-author with Fitrakis of books and articles on the topic, and Lori Grace, who has helped provide funding for such research. The activist group Protect Our Elections created a video of the speakers.

Several days previously, Ben Swann, a television-consumer reporter based in Cincinnati for Fox News affiliate WXIX-TV, published an investigative report describing how electronic vote thievery can occur. Swann’s video was widely circulated until YouTube removed it for violating terms of service. Election theft critics hope that such news reports encourage the FBI to demand records and interview all those involved. 

Their view is that massive elections fraud can be accomplished by very few conspirators so long as the operators are sufficiently expert and corrupt.

Alleged Rove Electronic Vote Fraud 'Empire'
On Oct. 24, I  co-moderated with Arnebeck a news conference at the National Press Club. Alabama attorney Dana Jill Simpson and IT consultant Jim Marsh unveiled a new chart that they described as “Roadmap to Karl Rove’s Empire of Election Fraud.”

The chart is displayed at right, here on a downloadable link, and in larger size below. The relationship chart diagrams voting machine companies, and their ownership (including by Romney and Bush family backers).  Also, it asserts that a national training network runs a significant part of the nation’s back-office election operations through private companies hired by partisan officials who conduct operations in secret because the voting companies use proprietary software immune from outside scrutiny. 

Simpson, Marsh, and Arnebeck also announced formation of a new organization, Election Protection Action. This is one of several small civic groups across the country that have developed election fraud research for years, primarily in obscurity. 

Simpson has said she formerly worked with Rove and his allies on campaign opposition research that inevitably led, by her account, to campaign dirty tricks that soured her on the Republican Party. Among her allegations is that SmarTech, a Chattanooga IT consultancy, has played major role helping Republicans control elections, government websites, and government email  traffic both through the United States and globally.

Alabama Test Run For Election Theft?

Now a progressive, Simpson says that when she was a Republican volunteer opposition researcher she visited SmarTech in the days it was handling vast volumes of sensitive political traffic. Also, she has been reported to be knowledgeable on certain circumstances of one of the nation’s most notorious election software mysteries, the late-night switch of nearly 7,000 votes in rural Baldwin County that flipped Democratic Governor Don Siegelman’s reported re-election victory in 2002.
Speaking also at the Oct. 24 news conference was Siegelman's daughter, Dana, 27. She said the family went to bed on Election Night in 2002 believing news reports that her father had won re-election, but awoke to learn that votes had been shifted electronically in Baldwin County for never-disclosed reasons. She said that Alabama's Attorney General William Pryor, a Republican since elevated to the federal appeals court, threatened to arrest anyone who tried to investigate the vote-change. 

Therefore, she said, there was nothing her father could do except try to run again for governor in 2006. However, the Bush administration indicted him on corruption charges in 2004. When that case fell apart, they indicted him against before a different judge, Chief U.S. District Judge Mark Fuller, who was able to help prosecutors secure corruption convictions by making many pro-prosecution rulings that have puzzled legal experts for years but have been affirmed by appeals courts, including Pryor's. The convictions were primarily for Siegelman's reappointment to a state board in 1999 of a Republican who had donated to a non-profit that Siegelman supported.

In 2007, Simpson broke with the Republican Party to swear that she was aware of a Republican plot for years to prevent Siegelman from running for re-election in 2006 by framing him on corruption charges with the help of “Karl” {whom  she identifies as most likely Karl Rove] and Fuller, whom she swore was picked to preside over Siegelman as judge because the judge "hated" the defendant and wanted to "hang" him.

Nonetheless, Fuller has remained on the case, and in August ordered Siegelman, now 67, to resume a seven-year sentence. Don and Dana SiegelmanDana Siegelman, at left with her father before his reimprisonment, is leading a nationwide petition drive to persuade President Obama to pardon her father. The petition is here.
She said it has been signed by 34,000 people so far, including an unprecedented group of 112 former state attorneys general who separately wrote the Supreme Court that Siegelman's actions did not constitute a crime under the law. The Justice Integrity Project has gone beyond that finding and concluded that prosecutors and the trial judge framed Siegelman, thereby creating a notorious political prosecution of global significance. 
The Siegelman prosecution is the kind of result that can occur when vote thieves acquire the power to appoint prosecutors and judges. 

Simpson’s “roadmap” devised with Marsh is so other researchers, including the media and law enforcement personnel, can understand the ownership, operation, and goals of the nation’s vote-tabulation process. The critics allege that the process is increasingly secret and controlled by partisan officials seeking to rig outcomes in selected locales when the stakes are high enough.

Karl Rove
Rove has denounced her as someone who makes incredible allegations. Also, he states that he has never met her. Vanity Fair columnist Craig Unger examined her allegations, SmarTech's responses and , and Rove’s denials in his recent book, Boss Rove. Unger found her to be more credible than Rove on the specifics.

I have reached a similar conclusion. Rove has failed to respond to my requests for comment, or an in-depth interview. Furthermore, representatives of the Romney family have denied that family or Bain investments in a voting tabulation company, HIG Capital, which controls Hart InterCivic, has a fraudulent purpose.

Historical Background of Software Fraud

Fitrakis, Arnebeck, and Wasserman have alleged election machine fraud for years, including in litigation alleging that the 2004 presidential election was determined by IT fraud. In their  books and unsuccessful lawsuits, they say Ohio’s electoral votes went to President Bush via what they call a “Man in the Middle” strategy whereby IT consultant Michael Connell helped arrange for SmarTech to have access to Ohio’s votes before they were announced to the public. 

Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell, a GOP partisan, arranged Connell’s consultancy via his company, GovTech, which hosted its operations at SmarTech in Chattanooga. Blackwell denied any improper motive or result. Yet Steve Spoonamore, the top IT employee for 2008 GOP nominee John McCain, testified that the set-up enabled vote-switching without public knowledge. Connell described in a 2008 pretrial deposition the specifics of how he set up vote transfers. Connell died a month later when his airplane crashed. I summarized that history in a 2010 column. An appendix to the column provides hot links to nearly a decade of major books and articles in the field.

The concept of "election fraud" orchestrated via voting machine software is different from "voter fraud," which typically refers to ineligible voters casting ballots. Republicans have enacted many harsh voter suppress laws to restrict voting by largely Democratic groups, as Huffington Post columnist Dan Froomkin noted Nov. 12, Voter ID: The More You Know, The Less You Like It. Some voter fraud does in fact exists, counters Melinda  Pillsbury-Foster, a host of World Truth Radio who formerly had close contacts with prominent conservatives. But, she says, whatever actual problems exist in voter fraud have been grossly magnified by the media to create a false equivalence with the much-greater problem of massive elections fraud.

Summing up
Conventional wisdom is that no plot existed this year, or ever in the past. But we’ll never know for sure unless the relevant operatives and officials are examined under oath. 

Michael Duniho took the process to a new level on Election Day, Nov. 6. Let’s hope that the beginning, not the end, of any questions.

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