A key opportunity for voting integrity

Hang on with me here till below the fold so that you can see how this relates to us here in Washington State, OK? OK. Thanks, dear hearts

Clint Curtis is a computer programmer who says that US Representative Tom Feeney asked him to create vote flipping software in 2000. There are no secret recordings or hard copy to prove this.  He has testified to it under oath before US Congress (here's the affidavit), and he's passed a polygraph test administered by the person previously in charge of polygraph tests for Florida law enforcement.

The public record shows that Curtis has repeatedly tried to get his claims investigated since 2000.  He is now in a position to take his cause to the next level.  He's challenging Feeney for his seat in the US House.  And he's created a vote-tracking system, Votenow2006. that can create a verifiable link from voters to their votes -- without revealing who they voted for. According to Curtis, this will enable definitive evidence for voting fraud to be collected if fraud does occur. If no fraud occurs, he has a good shot a winning the race and defending voting integrity from the US House.

Elizabeth Walter of (Citizens to Stop Computerized Voting [CSCV], correction, NM) invited me to dinner with her and Mr. Curtis before an event featuring him at the Seattle Labor Temple last night. That's Elizabeth in the second picture on this page.  There was a small crowd of us there at Wild Fish restaurant on First Avenue, including Richard Borkowski of CSCV and Bill Moyer of Backbone Campaign. The picture to the left shows Bill Moyer and Clint Curtis holding a plaque for the Spine Award, which was given to Clint by Citizens to Stop Computerized Voting in conjunction with the Backbone Campaign. The text on the plaque reads: "A Whistleblower for Election Integrity. In Gratitude for His Conviction and Courage Risking Life and Livelihood in Defense of Democracy."

Curtis' story seemed so outrageous to me that my initial response was to move on to matters less speculative.  If his case did not relate specifically to an important opportunity for our country to make headway on gettng our vote back, I wouldn't be interested in checking it out.

But there is an important potential opportunity here to move forward on something I care about deeply. So I reluctantly spent two hours reading newspaper articles and other online information.   That was enough to verify the key elements of Curtis' story.

Here are the verifiable facts that I think make this case relevant for us in Washington State and of critical interest:

Yang Enterprises, the company that Curtis says  hired him to create the crooked software for Tom Feeney, did indeed employ an illegal Chinese alien, Henry Nee, during the time that Curtis worked there.  Nee was indeed, shortly after, arrested and convicted for selling US missle chip technology to China.  Tom Feeney was indeed the general counsel and paid lobbyist for Yang Enterprises -- and the Speaker of the House for Florida-- during that time.  Furthermore, the public record establishes that Florida is considered by many to be just about the most corrupt state in the nation and that Feeney is distinguished among Florida polticians for his reputation of corruption.  He has been identified by Citizens for Ethics and Responsibility in Washington as the third most corrupt Congressman in Washington.  Few people deny that Florida was a probable locus of vote manipulation in the 2000 and 2004 elections.  It is a matter of fact that the results of the Florida election in those years determined who our president would be.

It is also part of the public record that -- while all this fishy stuff was going on with Nee and Feeney, a Florida State Department of Transportation (FDOT) official asked for FDOT's Inspector General's office to investigate Yang Enterprises for fraudulent billing and evident transfer of sensitive information to China.  The public record fails to show that such an investigation took place but it does show that, soon after, that official was fired from Florida DOT.  Also in the record is the fact that an official from Florida DOT's Inspector General's office, named Ray Lemme, whom Curtis says undertook to investigate Yang Enterprises on his own, ended up dead in a motel room in Georgia (where autopsies are not performed for suicide as they are in Florida) under weird circumstances.

The tale gets deeper, and if intrigue intrigues you -- there are plenty of ways to follow through.  But what I've outlined is enough for me.  These are matters that appear to be at the nexus of a profound theft from the American people. We should pay attention.

I found Clint Curtis, in person, to have a credible and grounded presence.  He's well-spoken, knowledgeable on the issues, and friendly.  He supports universal health care, quick transition out of Iraq, and fundamental changes to NAFTA and CAFTA which would protect US jobs.

He says that he has turned down bribes of over $1 million, allowed himself to be professionally blacklisted, and risked his life in order to carry out a responsibility that he wishes he could avoid -- telling the truth when powerful and ruthless people are determined to keep that truth secret.

History shows that vote fraud  happens.  Democrats have been as guilty as Republicans.  Fraud is a human issue, not a partisan issue.   Curtis was a lifelong Republican until he went through this experience with Feeney and Yang enterprises.  Last night, Bev Harris of Blackbox Voting started us off at Seattle Labor Temple with a presentation of her own.  What we are dealing with here, Harris said, is a custody issue.  In our current situation, where voting software is proprietary, is held secret from the public,  and is easily hackable, whomever has custody of the voting machines, holds our votes hostage. We leave our political choice hostage to the worst within human nature.

I saw a South King County friend at the presentation and we spoke after.  We talked about our fathers, who both fought in WWII.  And we talked about our deep sadness over how our country, which our fathers made such deep sacrifices to defend, has been so corrupted by the people who have taken control.  There were tears in both our eyes.  I have cried often over the situation in this country over the past five years, the deep shame of it.  I keep thinking that I have cried myself out.  But always there are more tears.

The weight of the evidence from 2000 and 2004 -- evidence that has never been fully investigated and that the media largely ignores,  tells us that our votes are almost certainly being stolen and manipulated.  It's a reality of our times and we need, as a country, to face it.  Polls show that most Americans believe our vote was stolen in 2000 and 2004. The American people are hostage to a runaway government that takes our taxes and uses them to torture people, and wreck our economy, and corrupt young soldiers into committing terrible misdeeds, and spy on citizens, and undermine science and the freedom of the press.  Restoring the integrity of our vote is a first step to regaining our sovereignty so that the basic decency of the American people -- not the rogue lawlessness of those who know how to seize power -- can once again direct our national destiny.

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Thanks for the excellant post Noemie. There is ample evidence that these machines are not immune to crafty hackers. The more people that stand up and face this corrupt voting system the more momentum we all gain for change. Even if fraudulant voting hasn't occured, the very idea that it can happen means we have to do something about it...

by JesseNelson on Fri Aug 18, 2006 at 02:17:29 PM PST

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There are two comments I would like to make. One is, that Clint is ahead in the polls in the primary race.  His opponent, last name Michaud, is pretty much a no show. Weird. I am wondering if perhaps he (Michaud)is being funded by the GOP just to keep him on the ticket. The other comment is about a concern expressed by a couple of attendees at last night's fundraiser.  As Democrats, most of us are very skeptical of Republicans or former Republicans.  Curtis is a former Republican. When asked why he converted, he said because the GOP is not what it used to be. He grew up in Illinois and there it was the Democratic Party that was corrupt (Mayor Daley). It was the GOP Party that stood for honesty, anti-war, balanced budget, non-interference of the government into personal lives (Clint is pro-choice), etc.  Those are Curtis' values, and those are now the values of the Democratic Party, so he is merely sticking with his values. He is a great candidate. We need him in Congress.

by raincity calling on Fri Aug 18, 2006 at 03:17:27 PM PST

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--you can't know.  We know that our central tabulators weren't cheating in the 2004 gubernatorial race only because two machine counts and one hand count were all within 0.01% of each other, with votes added to the totals of all three candidates in the hand count (the expected direction of error due to the known tendency of opscans to very occasionally pick up more than one ballot).

The DREs used in Snohomish county are an entirely different matter--statistical analysis indicates that they cheated in favor of Rossi.  Accidentally or on purpose?  We can never know because ES&S insists that what should be publically owned data is in fact privately owned by them.

The situation is analogous to someone taking your ballot by force and filling it out according to your instructions, but not allowing you to watch the process.  I swear that if I were marking the ballot, I'd do it your way, but the point is that YOU CAN NEVER KNOW.

Or, as David Dill always says "It's not enough that elections be accurate; we have to know that they are accurate, and we don't/"

by eridani on Fri Aug 18, 2006 at 10:30:28 PM PST

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