By Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman, Reader Supported News 20 November 16
Hillary Clinton has won the popular vote in the 2016 presidential election by well over a million votes.
But her impending defeat in the Electoral College comes with familiar signs that yet another American election has been stripped and flipped.
This article presents a comprehensive overview of how it was done, and a brief summary of how our electoral system needs to be changed to make sure it doesn’t happen again.
The primary indicators of the massive election theft are by now familiar. They include the realities of pre- and post-election polling; the massive stripping of primarily black, Hispanic, Muslim and Asian-American voters from computer-generated registration rolls mostly maintained by private, partisan companies; unverifiable “black box” electronic voting machines and central tabulators, also mostly manufactured and maintained by private corporations; and much more.
Were this election held in any other country, the US State Department and independent monitors from around the world would denounce it as a fraud and contemplate international intervention.
What follows only begins to scratch the surface:
The Electoral College
Much is finally being said about the Electoral College, with new popular demands for its abolition. Clinton is about to become the sixth presidential candidate to win a legitimate majority but lose the presidency. It also happened in 1800, 1824, 1876, 1888, and 2000. Nearly 15% of our 45 presidents have been “selected” with the denial of the public will through an institution established in large part to enhance the power of slaveowners.
In February, 2013, at progressive.org, we joined the multitudes throughout our history in calling for the Electoral College’s abolition:
It will take a Constitutional Amendment, and a hell of a lot of work, to abolish this corrupt anachronism. But unless we want to see an endless succession of George W. Bushes in the White House, something had better be done – and quick.
The consequences of inaction are all too clear.
Computerized Jim Crow Stripping of Voter Registration Rolls
US elections have been defined throughout history by a divide-and-conquer strategy of racial manipulation. As we outline in our new Strip & Flip Death of American Democracy(freepress.org/solartopia.org): chattel slavery, the Constitution’s “three-fifths bonus,” Jim Crow segregation, third world imperial conquest, and the Drug War have all played a role in denying African-American/Hispanic/Asian-American citizens their right to vote. From the foundation of the Republic, this disenfranchisement has defined the balance of power.
In recent years, the disenfranchisement has been most importantly done by the Republican Party, and by computer. As investigative reporter Greg Palast has shown in his book/movie The Best Democracy Money Can Buy (www.gregpalast.com), in 2000 Florida governor Jeb Bush used a program called ChoicePoint to strip more than 90,000 predominantly black and Hispanic citizens from the voter registration rolls in an election decided by 537 votes. The pretext was alleged felony convictions. The selection was “won” by Bush’s brother George W., although a full recount (which was stopped 5-4 by the US Supreme Court in its infamous Bush v. Gore decision) would have given Al Gore the majority in Florida, and in the Electoral College.
As we have reported from Columbus, in 2004 more than 300,000 predominantly urban citizens were stripped from the voter registration rolls in an election the GOP won by 118,775. A quarter of all voters in heavily Democratic Cleveland were de-registered. Ohio’s ill-gotten electoral votes gave George W. Bush a second term. This became the only time in US history an entire state’s Electoral College delegation was challenged on the floor of the US Congress.
This year, Palast has reported that a new program called Crosscheck has been used by some 30 GOP secretaries of state to strip more than 1.1 million predominantly black, Hispanic, Islamic, and Asian-American citizens from the voter rolls.
Originating with far-right Republican Kris Kobach, Kansas’s secretary of state, Crosscheck eliminated more than enough minority voters in at least three swing states to flip the entire presidential election.
Palast has reported that Ohio’s GOP secretary of state Jon Husted also used Crosscheck to eliminate some 497,000 mostly black, Latino, and African-American citizens from the voter rolls in Ohio, falsely accusing them of registering in more than one state. Such eliminations went on throughout the US.
According to Reuters, over the past five years Husted himself has stripped some two million citizens from the voter rolls in Ohio, even without Crosscheck, with Democratic areas twice as likely to be stripped as Republican ones. Reuters writers Andy Sullivan and Grant Smith point out that the neighborhoods that most heavily backed President Obama lost the most voters. In heavily Democratic Cleveland, Columbus, and Cincinnati, they report, Democrat-leaning areas were purged at twice the rate as Republican ones.
The mass disenfranchisement also impacted races for the US Senate. If not for the usual “irregularities,” at least four Democrats would likely have won seats (in Florida, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Missouri) that they officially lost. Similar results are evident from 2014 Senate races in North Carolina, Colorado and Alaska. Thus in the past two years, mass disenfranchisement and computerized vote stripping may well have flipped seven Upper House seats from the Democrats to the GOP.
Thus the electronic race-based stripping of voter rolls in the GOP’s favor has probably on its own taken to the far right the presidency, control of the US Senate, and ultimately the US Supreme Court.
It should be noted that out of disgust with Donald Trump, the GOP multi-billionaire Koch Brothers shifted much of their massive financial weight from the presidential race to Congressional and other “down-ballot contests,” where these key Senate seats and others in the US House and state governments were almost certainly impacted.
Traditional Jim Crow Stripping of Voter Registration Rolls
Alongside computerized techniques, the Republicans have effectively deployed still more traditional Jim Crow tactics to strip black/Hispanic/Asian-American/Muslim citizens of their ability to vote, many of which have been delineated in the New York Times.
In part these include: demands for photo ID, elimination of polling places, narrowing time frames in which citizens can vote, deliberate distribution of misinformation about voting requirements, non-counting of provisional ballots, failure to send out absentee ballots, intimidation and widespread confusion at polling places, and much more.
Throughout the corporate media, the obligatory hand-wringing about a drop in voter turnout invariably avoids the obvious cause of race-based restrictions that make it harder to vote, selective limitations on when citizens can vote, and targeted reductions in where they can vote.
In its 2013 Shelby County vs. Holder decision, the US Supreme Court gutted protections provided by the 1965 Voting Rights Act, opening the floodgates for such Jim Crow abuse throughout the electoral system.
Numerous reports indicate that citizens were often confronted with photo ID requirements even where they were voided by the courts. As in Ohio 2004, reports indicate many citizens were directed by official websites to polling places that did not actually exist. This year Ohio secretary of state Jon Husted failed to distribute more than 1,050,000 absentee ballot applications to citizens entitled to them. Husted also waged a relentless war against early voting periods, such as “souls to the polls” Sundays, that encouraged African-Americans to vote. He also worked hard to strip out polling stations from urban areas.
In Wisconsin, which Trump allegedly carried by about 27,000 votes, some 300,000 registered voters lacked required photo ID. According to Ari Berman’s “Did the Republicans Rig the Election?” appearing in The Nation, Wisconsin’s turnout was the lowest in two decades. That includes a drop of 52,000 in heavily African-American Milwaukee, nearly twice Trump’s margin of victory in the entire state.
According to a report by Richard Hayes Philips, extremely high turnouts for Trump in rural areas of Wisconsin “are not credible.” Among other things, the vote counts in five Republican towns exceed the number of registered voters. (www.freepress.org)
On election day, media throughout the US reported the kinds of mass delays and confusion that defined the elections of 2000 and 2004. According to Berman, there were 868 fewer polling stations in Arizona, Texas, and North Carolina alone, accompanied by a notable drop in African-American turnouts. According to Berman, 14 states imposed new restrictions on voting. Three of them – Wisconsin, Indiana and Ohio – were never before under federal Voting Rights Act supervision.
Said The New York Times: “Voters nationwide endured long waits in line, malfunctioning voting machines, ill-informed poll workers and a litany of lesser annoyances on Tuesday with scattered reports that some voters gave up trying to cast ballots.”
David Becker, the Executive Director of the Center for Election Innovation, told the Times, “There are scattered indications of machine breakdowns that are being addressed.”
A typical description has been provided by Steven Rosenfeld, writing at Alternet about the “Democratic epicenter” in Durham County, North Carolina:
the state’s voter registration database and e-poll books tied into it were down, prompting long lines, delays and necessitating people fill out provisional ballots. The data was also scrambled, with voter rolls in the wrong locations, people tagged as voting when they had not, and people not on lists even though they had their state registration cards.
In an editorial the day after the election, the Times lamented that in North Carolina “The state’s Republican Party issued a news release boasting that cutbacks in early voting hours reduced black turnout by 8.5% below 2012 levels, even as the numbers of white early voters increased by 22.5%.”
Throughout the US, voters with “problems” in their registration are routinely given provisional ballots, which are allegedly to be counted later. But the forms are often impossibly complex, with poll workers often failing to count them at the sight of a single minor error, such as writing below a line, omitting a middle initial, failing to include a birthday and much more. Ohio secretary of state Husted won the right from the US Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals to not count provisional ballots that contain a minor mistake. Thus tens of thousands of provisional ballots have been routinely left uncounted, unbeknownst to the voters. More than 115,000 provisional and “spoiled” ballots from Ohio’s 2004 election remain uncounted.
Often absurd discrepancies have become normalized. In 2004 hundreds of mostly Democratic Native Americans allegedly cast ballots on their New Mexico reservations without signifying a choice for president. This year in North Carolina, Trump and the GOP’s US Senate candidate allegedly won by nearly 200,000 votes while the incumbent Republican governor was allegedly defeated (he’s demanding a recount). In Michigan, tens of thousands of voters allegedly filled out their entire ballots but somehow left the presidential choice vacant in a race essentially too close to call.
In the lead-up to November 8, pre-election polls strongly indicated a Clinton victory. Post-election exit polls showed her winning as well, most critically in the swing states whose Electoral College votes could have given her the presidency.
Exit polls are the accepted international standard for indications of election fraud and vote tampering. Eric Bjornlund and Glenn Cowan’s 2011 pamphlet “Vote Count Verification: a User’s Guide for Funders, Implementers and Stakeholders” was done under the auspices of Democracy International for the US Agency for International Development (USAID). It outlines how exit polling is used to ensure free and fair elections.
It adds that “U.S-funded organizations have sponsored exit polls as part of democracy assistance programs in Macedonia (2005), Afghanistan (2004), Ukraine (2004), Azerbaijan (2005), the West Bank and Gaza Strip (2005), Lebanon (2005), Kazakhstan (2005), Kenya (2005, 2007), and Bangladesh (2009), among other places.”
In countries like Germany and Switzerland, which use hand-counted paper ballots, exit polls are accurate to a margin error of less than 1%.
Here the 2016 exit polls were paid for by a major corporate media consortium, as has been standard practice for years. Here they are designed to reflect the actual vote count within a 2% margin of error nationally.
But in the US, if exit polls don’t agree with official vote counts, they are regularly “adjusted” to conform to official results, no matter how implausible. This makes fraudulent elections appear legitimate.
During this year’s Republican primaries, unadjusted exit polls confirmed official vote counts in all cases. In the Democratic primaries, unadjusted exit polls significantly varied from the official outcome in 12 of 26 primaries. All the errors went in Hillary Clinton’s favor in her race against Bernie Sanders. This is a virtual statistical impossibility and suggests a rigged vote count.
In the general election against Donald Trump, things went the other way. In 24 of 28 states, unadjusted exit polls also showed Clinton with vote counts significantly higher than the final official outcome. The likelihood of this happening in an election that is not rigged are in the realm of virtual statistical impossibility.
In fact, based on the exit polls, the odds against such an unexplained “Trump Shift” are one in 13,110 presidential elections.
For example, Ohio’s exit polls showed Trump and Clinton in a dead heat – 47 percent for Clinton to 47.1 for Trump. Officially, Trump won with 52.1 percent of the vote to Clinton’s 43.5 percent. This unexplained and unexpected 8.5 percent shift for Trump is mathematically impossible.
The exit polls also showed Clinton winning in Florida. But an unaccounted for 2.5 percent shift to Trump gave him a victory that was a virtual statistical impossibility. Similar numbers abide in Pennsylvania and North Carolina.
Given the prevalence of other Jim Crow tactics, it’s likely the exit polls were impacted by non-white voters in all the key swing states who were given provisional ballots (or they voted electronically) leading them to believe their votes were being counted, even though they were not.
In key Senate races in Florida, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Missouri, exit polls also showed Democratic candidates winning by statistically significant margins, but then losing the official vote count.
In 2014, Senate races in North Carolina, Colorado, and Alaska ended with exit polls also showing Democratic Senate candidates winning the popular vote, while ultimately losing the official vote count. The odds against this happening in two consecutive elections that are not rigged are also astronomical.
The tendency of such official outcomes to slide to the GOP after showing “blue” for Democrats in the exit polls is more fully documented by Jon Simon in his definitive book CODE RED. Simon coined the phrase “Red Shift” and discusses what has once again become a dominant factor in a presidential election claimed by the Republicans at OpEdNews.
The vast majority of the popular votes in this election nationwide were cast on either computerized touch-screen electronic machines, or on Scantron ballots that are counted by computer. In neither case are there public monitoring capabilities or legal recourse for vote counts that are flipped.
In 2016, as in all previous US elections at least since 2000, the electronic vote count remains anyone’s guess. In states with a governor and secretary of state from the same party, the final tally can be whatever they want it to be.
Such techniques were used in Florida 2000 and Ohio 2004 to strip voter rolls and flip George W. Bush into the White House. More than 90,000 black/Hispanic voters were disenfranchised by Gov. Jeb Bush (George’s brother) in a Florida election officially decided by 537 votes. More than 300,000 primarily black/Hispanic voters were stripped from voter rolls in an Ohio 2004 election officially decided by 118,775.
In Florida’s 2000 presidential election, 16,000 votes cast for Gore in Volusia County were electronically subtracted and 4,000 were credited to Bush, giving him a leg up on the evening’s vote count. This caused Fox News commentator John Ellis (Bush’s first cousin) to call the election for the GOP.
In Ohio 2004, John Kerry was shown winning the election by 4.2%, more than 200,000 votes, at12:20 a.m. Then the electronic vote count ceased. At 2 a.m.,a Bush lead began to emerge, somehow reaching 2.5%. The 6.7% flip is a virtual statistical impossibility.
All of this was done by private contractors working for the company SmarTech, based in Chattanooga, Tennessee. The key information technology specialist in charge of the vote count was Michael Connell, an Akron-based associate of the Bush family, who was hired by the Ohio secretary of state with a no-bid contract to supervise the state’s official vote count. Connell later died in a mysterious plane crash after being deposed in federal court.
The fact that electronic voting machines cannot be monitored was voted a Most Censored story in 2016, with a key interview with co-author Harvey Wasserman appearing on Amy Goodman’s “Democracy Now!”
Computer “Black Box Voting” specialist Bev Harris, who uncovered the electronic vote flipping in Florida 2000, has warned this year that a method of “fractionated voting” could have been easily used to manipulate electronic vote counts. The manipulation could be done by secretaries of state in conjunction with partisan for-profit corporations in ways that are virtually impossible to detect, and simply not open to legal challenge. According to Harris, this “fraction magic,” used in counties’ central tabulators, could have flipped hundreds of thousands of votes.
In Ohio this year, a new generation of electronic vote scanning machines makes it possible to retrieve electronic images of ballots that have been cast on paper in the order that they were cast. These machines come with an audit log that would detect any illegitimate vote changes by central tabulators.
But Secretary of State Husted opted to allow local election boards to leave both security functions – the audit log and the image scanners – turned off. Co-author Bob Fitrakis sued in the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas to have the monitoring functions turned on. But Judge David Cain ruled on Election Day that the election officials need not turn on those security features, leaving the public with no way to monitor the outcome. (A similar lawsuit filed in Arizona by election protection activist John Brakey actually succeeded.)
Such problems are built into the system nationwide. In Pennsylvania, for example, Rosenfeld reports that “16 counties are still using aging countywide tabulators which” are easily hacked and “use old versions of Microsoft operating systems, which have security vulnerabilities that have never been fixed.”
Throughout the US, including the swing states that will decide the presidential outcome in the Electoral College and states that have increased the GOP margin in the US Senate, the entire vote count remains an electronic mystery.
VR Systems, based in Tallahassee, handles registration records in Florida and more than a dozen other states. It was hacked prior to the election, possibly by Russians. Indeed, much finger-pointing against alleged Russian electronic intruders still goes on. But there are more than enough open portals into our electronic voting system to let domestic hackers easily flip an election.
Sources cited by Rosenfeld say Clinton won only those Wisconsin counties with paper ballots, while losing those with a mix of paper and machine voting by 1-2%, and those with only machines only by 10-15%.
Those results echo outcomes in New Mexico 2004, where Kerry won all precincts with hand-counted paper ballots and lost all those with machines, a reality he personally noted in a post-election conference call.
Millions of dollars would be required to do meaningful recounts in states like Wisconsin, which may well have legitimately gone for Clinton and chosen a Democratic US Senator. Michigan’s 4,800 precincts could cost up to $125 each to recount. The impact of such recounts, even if they show Clinton winning, would then be up for grabs.
So did the GOP strip and flip the 2016 election?
Let’s count the ways:
There is no doubt that Hillary Clinton won America’s popular vote by more than a million votes.
That popular vote victory will be reversed in an Electoral College originally designed to enhance the power of slaveowners and now being used for the sixth time to deny the White House to the rightful winner.
There is no doubt that more than enough black, Hispanic, Islamic and Asian-Americans were electronically stripped from the voter registration rolls by Crosscheck and other means to have given Clinton victories in those swing states that would have swung the Electoral College in her favor.
There is no doubt additional Jim Crow tactics meant to further disenfranchise black/Hispanic/Asian-American voters – such as stripping away voting times and precincts, denial of absentee ballots, non-counting of provisional ballots, and much more – stripped Clinton of hundreds of thousands of additional legitimate votes.
There is no doubt exit polls showed her winning in more than enough states to have given her a victory in the Electoral College. They also indicated a seven-seat swing in the US Senate in 2014 and 2016, more than enough to give the GOP control of the US Supreme Court.
There is no doubt that the election was largely conducted on electronic machines, and with electronically-counted Scantron ballots that are completely beyond public accountability. These voting machines are run on secret, proprietary corporate software to which the public is not allowed access.
As in 2000 and 2004, the actual final vote count once again resides in black box machines controlled by private corporations, GOP governors, and secretaries of state, whose ability to easily hack and flip the official outcome cannot be monitored or brought to accountability. In at least one state (Ohio) the GOP took legal action to prevent the public from gaining potential access to the electronic vote count … and won!
There is also no doubt that had this election been conducted as it was in virtually any other country, the civilized world would have denounced it as completely unreliable and almost certainly false. Had it been in our “national interest” to do so, American troops would have poured in to “restore democracy” after such an obviously rigged charade.
Throughout the campaign, GOP candidate Trump cleverly complained of a “rigged election.” He continually warned of innumerable non-whites and Muslims voting multiple times for Hillary Clinton.
Of course the opposite happened. Hundreds of thousands of non-white citizens were systematically denied their right to vote. Since even that wasn’t enough to elect Donald Trump, the Electoral College will once again deny democracy. And thanks to the dark magic of electronic voting machines, we will never really know 2016’s true vote count.
Today’s most tangible tragedy is what may soon unfold in this country.
But the underlying nightmare is that this has been done before, that we’ve known about stripped and flipped elections for at least sixteen years, and that nothing has been done.
If anything, due to the spread of electronic voting machines, our electoral system is more corrupt and less accountable than it was in 2000, when the GOP first stripped and flipped George W. Bush into the White House.
We advocate universal automatic voter registration, transparent voter rolls, a four-day national holiday for voting, universal hand-counted paper ballots, abolition of the Electoral College, an end to gerrymandering, a ban on corporate money in politics.
There’s much more. But until we win those basics, democracy in America is an illusion … as is our chance to survive on this planet.
Bob Fitrakis & Harvey Wasserman are co-authors of the upcoming The Strip & Flip Disaster of America’s Stolen Elections: Five Jim Crows & Electronic Election Theft. at http://www.freepress.organd http://www.solartopia.org, where Bob’s Fitrakis Files and Harvey’s Solartopia! Our Green-powered Earth are also available.