RSN Fundraising Banner
FB Share
Email This Page
add comment

Excerpt: "Attorney General Jeff Sessions has confirmed the Russians hacked into as many as 39 state databases, and did all they could to affect the electronic vote count that put Donald Trump in the White House. But Americans could have done it much more easily."

Voters at a polling precinct. (photo: Getty Images)
Voters at a polling precinct. (photo: Getty Images)

It Doesn't Take a Russian to Hack an American Election

By Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman, Reader Supported News

17 June 17


ussia, Russia, Russia!!! But what about the Americans?

Attorney General Jeff Sessions has confirmed the Russians hacked into as many as 39 state databases, and did all they could to affect the electronic vote count that put Donald Trump in the White House.

But Americans could have done it much more easily.

Kansas secretary of state Kris Kobach set in motion a Jim Crow/Crosscheck purge of hundreds of thousands of mostly black, Hispanic, and Asian American citizens prior to the election in at least 29 states.

Now Trump has appointed Kobach to an “Election Integrity” commission. His co-commissioner is J. Kenneth Blackwell, who as Ohio secretary of state helped steal the 2004 presidential election.

Why isn’t this pair of election thieves being called to testify before Congress? Why is there no national viewing of Greg Palast’s “Best Democracy Money Can Buy” on precisely this topic?

The electronic flipping techniques Blackwell used in Ohio 2004 are part of the “black box voting” syndrome documented by Bev Harris. No Russians needed.

“Made in America” was the virtual statistical impossibility that Hillary Clinton won the exit polls in Florida, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin, but lost them ALL in the official vote count and thus the Electoral College.

And how about the 70,000+ ballots from heavily Democratic areas of Michigan that officially showed no presidential choice, an insanely improbable outcome easily produced by a hacker’s algorithm. Again, no Russians necessary.

Likewise, the sequential improbabilities in Wisconsin and beyond make it clear that rigging elections will continue as long as we have vulnerable registration rolls, electronic voting, an Electoral College, corporate campaign funding, and much more.

Meanwhile, there’s a high likelihood the upcoming special Congressional race in Georgia has already been hacked … by Americans!! As reported by Palast, thousands of Asian American citizens have already been purged from the voter rolls to pave the way to Congress for Georgia’s former secretary of state. Again, no Russians needed.

It may seem like borscht, but election theft is as American as apple pie.

In reality, the Americans have been stripping and flipping elections here and worldwide for many decades. Here’s some history:

In 1950, the Bureau of Social Science Research (BSSR) was founded as a division of the School of Social Sciences and Public Affairs at American University. In 1953, it became a non-profit organization involved with the CIA, and was used as a propaganda tool in the overthrow of Iran’s Mossadegh. It then emerged as a key player in the rise of electronic voting.

In 1974, the US General Accounting Office commissioned a year-long study on the rise of electronic voting equipment. In 1975, Rory G. Saltman, an electronics expert at the National Bureau of Standards, warned, “Increasing computerization of election-related functions may result in the loss of effective controls over these functions by responsible authorities and … this loss of control may increase the possibility of vote fraud.” (National Bureau of Standards Special Publication #500-30).

In 1975, the CIA admitted to a US Senate investigative committee chaired by Senator Frank Church that it was engaged in 5000 “benign” operations, which involved, among other things, electronic election rigging in the Third World. Election theft was preferable to a bloody coup, said the Agency.

In its coverage of the 1980 Iowa Republican Caucus, the Manchester (New Hampshire) Union-Leader wrote that the campaign of former CIA Director George H.W. Bush “has all the smell of a CIA covert Operation…. Strange aspects of the Iowa operation [include] a long, slow count and then the computers broke down at a very convenient point, with Bush having a 6% bulge over Reagan.” Bush won the primary over Reagan, 31.6% to 21.5%. This breakdown of tabulating equipment at a key point in the vote count became a staple of the electronic tabulation process in elections to come.

In 1981, the Reagan-Bush administration established ties between the BSSR and the International Center for Election Law & Administration (ICELA). The CIA-linked BSSR provided initial funding for the ICELA to promote the spread of electronic voting machines worldwide.

In 1984, The New York Times revealed that a company called The Computer Election System of Berkeley, California, created a software program and related equipment “used in more than a thousand county and local jurisdictions to collect and count 34.4 million of the 93.7 million votes cast in the United States,” more than a third of the total votes. President Reagan signed National Security Directive NSDD245. The New York Times revealed that the secret directive involved “a branch of the National Security Agency investigating whether a computer program that counted more than one-third of all the votes cast in the United States in 1984 is vulnerable to fraudulent manipulation.”

On December 18, 1985, legendary New York Times reporter David Burnham reported in “California Official Investigating Computer Voting Security” that state attorney general John Van de Kamp found major errors in the computerized vote count from the 1984 election in California and elsewhere. Problems were found in at least thirteen areas nationwide, including Illinois, Montana, and North Dakota. Van de Kamp said he was “concerned about what he sees as a potentially serious problem.”

In 1985, the director of International Center on Election Law and Administration stated that electronic voting presents “a massive potential for problems” and that it “centralizes the opportunity for fraud,” according to Harris’s “Black Box Voting.”

On November 25, 1986, Dr. Michael Ian Shamos, a computer scientist employed by the Pennsylvania Bureau of Elections as an electronic voting systems examiner, reported in “An Outline of Testimony on Computer Voting Before the Texas Legislature” that: “When one company or a conglomerate of companies apply unauditable software from a general distribution point, or participate directly in ballot setup procedures, there exists the possibility of large-scale tampering with elections. An errant programmer or tainted executive could influence or determine the outcome of a majority of election precincts in a country.”

In the 1988 New Hampshire Republican primary, during the first large-scale US use of computer voting machines in a presidential election, former CIA Director George H.W. Bush trailed Bob Dole by eight points in polls taken on Election Day. But when the votes were electronically tallied, Bush beat Dole by nine points. Such a 17-point turnaround qualifies among mainstream election statistical analysts as a “virtual statistical impossibility.”

In August 1988, Roy Saltman wrote “Accuracy, Integrity and Security in Computerized Vote Tallying” for the National Bureau of Standard’s Institute for Computer Sciences and Technology. He warned that “the possibility that unknown persons may perpetrate undiscoverable frauds” was a key problem with electronic voting systems.

In 1988, Ronnie Dugger, longtime editor of The Texas Observer, wrote a major piece on the move toward electronic-based elections in The New Yorker. He warned that the capacity now exists for “altering the computer program or the control punch cards that manipulate it, planting a time bomb, manually removing an honest counting program, and replacing it with a fraudulent one, counting fake ballots, altering the vote recorder that voters use at the polls or changing either the logic that controls precinct-located vote-counting devices, or the voting summaries in these units’ removable data-hyphen storage unit.” Dugger concluded: “The problem in this segment of the computer business, as in the field at large, is not only invisibility but also information as electricity.”

In 1996, Chuck Hagel ran for US Senate in Nebraska against popular incumbent Democratic governor Ben Nelson. Hagel had never held elective office. But he was part-owner of ES&S, a computerized voting machine company whose machines were used in conducting the statewide election. Michael McCarthy, president of ES&S, was Hagel’s campaign treasurer. Hagel became Nebraska’s first Republican elected to the US Senate in 24 years. Hagel’s part ownership of ES&S was hidden from the public during the campaign. One Nebraska newspaper called Hegel’s victory a “stunning upset.” Some 80% of the state’s ballots were cast and counted on ES&S machines.

After the presidency was given to George W. Bush in Florida 2000, Harris posted a series of internal Diebold memos relating to a critical electronic miscount in Volusia County that helped swing the election. One memo from Lana Hires of Global Election Systems, now part of Diebold, complained, “I need some answers! Our department is being audited by the County. I have been waiting for someone to give me an explanation as to why Precinct 216 gave Al Gore a minus 16,022 [votes] when it was uploaded.” Another, from Talbot Ireland, Senior VP of Research and Development for Diebold, referred to key “replacement” votes in Volusia County as “unauthorized.”

In the November 2002 Georgia election, incumbent US senator Max Cleland lost his seat to right-wing Republican Saxby Chambliss in an unexpected last-minute upset. It was the first election in which Georgia had used Diebold voting machines, and just prior to Election Day in an unusual move, the president of Diebold’s election unit Bob Urosevich brought in illegal software updates to the system. Harris found a set of files called “rob-georgia” among the secret voting machine database files.

In 2003, Ohio businessman Walden “Wally” O’Dell promised in a fundraising letter to wealthy GOP supporters that he would deliver Ohio’s electoral votes to Bush. O’Dell ran Diebold, which owned and operated the bulk of Ohio’s electronic voting machines. Diebold also controlled the software that would count the votes that decided the 2004 presidential election.

In March 2004, we published the article “Diebold, Electronic Voting, and the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy” on and on predicting that Ohio would be the new Florida in the 2004 presidential election because of the partisan connections of George W. Bush to the private owners of the electronic voting machines and vote tabulation software. The key source for the article, Athan Gibbs, was an African American entrepreneur who had invented a voting machine that gave each voter a verified voting receipt. Approximately one week after the article ran, Gibbs was killed when his car was hit by a truck on an interstate highway.

Machines used in the Ohio 2004 election in Columbus came from Ransom Shoup, convicted in 1979 for conspiring to defraud the federal government in connection with a bribe attempt to obtain voting machine business, according to the Commercial Appeal newspaper of Memphis.

On July 20, 2011, Free Press published an election contract signed with GovTech, Michael Connell’s private IT company, allowing the theft of the Ohio 2004 electronic vote count, plus a graphic architectural map of the secretary of state’s election night server layout system linked to the IT site in Tennessee. Both documents were filed in the King Lincoln Bronzeville v. Blackwell case.

There is much much more, now published in our e-book “The Strip & Flip Disaster of America’s Stolen Elections” (

In 2016 there was plenty of evidence of Russian interference.

But in an American election, the likeliest strippers, hackers, and flippers are still American. If Congress and the media ever get around to investigating Kris Kobach, Ken Blackwell, and other likely homegrown suspects, we are ready to testify.

Bob Fitrakis & Harvey Wasserman are co-authors of the new STRIP & FLIP DISASTER OF AMERICA’S STOLEN ELECTIONS: FIVE JIM CROWS AND ELECTRONIC ELECTION THEFT ( your social media marketing partner


A note of caution regarding our comment sections:

For months a stream of media reports have warned of coordinated propaganda efforts targeting political websites based in the U.S., particularly in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election.

We too were alarmed at the patterns we were, and still are, seeing. It is clear that the provocateurs are far more savvy, disciplined, and purposeful than anything we have ever experienced before.

It is also clear that we still have elements of the same activity in our article discussion forums at this time.

We have hosted and encouraged reader expression since the turn of the century. The comments of our readers are the most vibrant, best-used interactive feature at Reader Supported News. Accordingly, we are strongly resistant to interrupting those services.

It is, however, important to note that in all likelihood hardened operatives are attempting to shape the dialog our community seeks to engage in.

Adapt and overcome.

Marc Ash
Founder, Reader Supported News

+29 # LionMousePudding 2017-06-17 15:50
Don't forget the guy who created the middle man system through which Cheney controlled the votes, happened to die the day before he was to give sworn testimony in court
0 # chapdrum 2017-06-20 19:01
Yes. Steven Connell.
+47 # nice2bgreat 2017-06-17 17:50
All of this election rigging hysteria is so easily resolved that the only conclusion one can reasonably draw is that hysteria is preferable to promptly resolving conflict.

Paper ballots, ink pens, and same-day registration.

Voting holiday; motor-voter registration; why not?

Problem solved.

You're welcome.
+2 # ericlipps 2017-06-19 04:51
Yes, and elections were never rigged in the good old days when paper ballots were used. Pull the other one.

Elections can ALWAYS be "flipped," one way or another. The only defense, and even that isn't perfect, is nonpartisan monitoring of the vote as it occurs. That -16,000 vote count for Gore should have set red lights flashing and sirens blaring, but it didn't, even during the big whoop-te-do of the media recount.
+8 # librarian1984 2017-06-19 16:42
There ARE ways to secure elections, even computerized elections, but we have a quilt of voting districts with a multitude of systems. What we don't have is the will to secure it, and we don't have it from either party. I wonder why.

Another option is heavy monitoring, including correlating the vote to polling, which means we standardize the practice. This is the method Sec. Clinton used to verify elections around the world and, if you'll remember, it was the method that uncovered 13 states that met, not only the 2% deviation between tallies and polls that triggered questions under Sec. Clinton, but 13 states with at least 10% deviations! Late in the race the polls were inexplicably cancelled, for the first time since they'd been used.

You accuse Bernie supporters of hypocrisy, but you never seem to stick aroumd for an answer.

Yes, if the tables were turned, if there were discrepancies that favored Sanders I'd want that looked into. I don't favor any cheater, and if Sanders were cheating he wouldn't be the person I wanted to vote for.

I find it very disappointing that the majority of Clinton supporters chose to ignore that evidence, indeed ALL evidence that reflected negatively on the preordained candidate.

Imagine if, instead of deciding it was okay to risk running an unpopular candidate, the party had listened to the people. Right now we wouldn't have Pres. Trump.

We'd have President Sanders. Wouldn't that have been nice?
+6 # Charles3000 2017-06-17 18:31
The answer is very simple. Read the constitution. A president is chosen by members of the electoral college and members of the electoral college are chosen by each state. There is no constitutional provisions for electors to be chosen by the votes of people. For the president and Senators we do not have a democracy. That is why no loser has ever challenged the results in court.
+4 # Caliban 2017-06-17 22:50
Sadly true. However, reform is potentially possible if activists work directly with state legislators and electoral commissions.

This will be a slow, exhausting process, but, short of a constitutional amendment, I see no other way to make any real progress towards confidence in the electoral process.
-10 # lfeuille 2017-06-18 00:00
Did anyone actually read this. He wants to give up the popular vote all together and leave everything to electors chosen by state politicians? Sure. Lets go back 150 years or so.
-6 # lfeuille 2017-06-18 00:01
Maybe not a suit but there would probably be a revolution.
-1 # ericlipps 2017-06-19 04:53
For senators we do, since the passage of the Seventeenth Amendment a century ago. For the president, not yet.

Abolish the Electoral College!
+20 # rural oregon progressive 2017-06-17 19:18
Thank you Fitrakis and Wasserman for moving the narrative back to why it is so easy to steal US elections... And for reminding readers of just how long this has been occurring. Many comments on these pages have been over the outrage of the Russian's supposed hacking of the most recent presidential election. Most anyone who tries to redirect the narrative to our hopelessly flawed election process (computerized black boxes) gets thumbed-down. The issue is not so much "who" is involved in election fraud and theft, but rather that state and federal authority permit a system that is so easily manipulated by "proprietary" software. Thank you for attempting to shine light on the real problem. Until, and unless the citizens of this country take back control of our elections by demanding transparent and fair elections, the corporatists, computer companies, political parties and yes... even the Russians will continue to control the outcome of our elections.
-2 # ericlipps 2017-06-19 04:55
"Redirecting the narrative" is,in the case of the 2016 election, just a fancy way of saying "Don't look, you might find something!"
+4 # Conan-the-Younger 2017-06-19 19:48
The best way to keep electronic and paper ballot voting honest is called software audit. It is a variant of what we call alpha and beta testing in the software business. In a voting machine audit, you create a set of ballots that have an exact out come. Load the voting machines with the software, one for each type of machine, and feed the ballots into the machine or manually enter the ballots. If the results match the predetermined output, the machine and its software is valid. If not, tell the software vendor to prepare for a formal audit of all of its operations by the FBI.
+17 # librarian1984 2017-06-17 19:53
Excellent article. These guys are doing great work.

Something tells me they will never be called to testify.
+10 # tedrey 2017-06-17 21:27
The first sentence states "Attorney General Jeff Sessions has confirmed the Russians hacked into as many as 39 state databases, and did all they could to affect the electronic vote count".

Actually, Sessions said he knew nothing about Russian meddling beyond “what I’ve read in the paper.”

The original Bloomberg report simply attributes the "39 states" source as one of three anonymous persons "with direct knowledge of the U.S. investigation into the matter."

Whatever happened to journalistic caution and integrity?
+4 # gdsharpe 2017-06-18 08:43
I noticed that, as well.
+16 # grandlakeguy 2017-06-17 23:33
Wasserman and Fitrakis are journalistic giants for their decades long attention to this matter.

The Democratic party leadership know all about this and yet they continue to do nothing year after year.
They are clearly complicit!

If every Democratic officeholder prefaced any statement or answered every question asked first with the words "American elections are systematically fraudulent due to Republican manipulation and the American people are no longer free!"
then eventually the media might actually have to look into this betrayal of our rights.

Until then nothing will change.

+18 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2017-06-18 06:47
Yes, this is correct. Vote rigging is made in America and always has been. In fact, the US Constitution was the first instance of vote rigging. Southern slave holding states were allowed to count African American slaves as 3/5 of a person for the purpose of determining the number of members of the house of representatives . In effect, black slaves counted as 3/5 of a vote -- just enough to give the South a majority in the House.

It has been the same since 1787. After the 15th Amendment, the South developed innumerable ways to keep blacks from voting.

"Section 1. The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.

Section 2. The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation."

We don't need no Russians to corrupt our vote. We are doing just fine by ourselves. After all GW Bush was "elected." Or is that "selected."
+1 # gdsharpe 2017-06-18 08:16
Three items the authors didn't mention: First, is that in the Georgia 2002 election Cleland was in a comfortable lead in the polls the day before the election, and also comfortably led in the exit polls.
Second, after the 2004 election, in which bush lost in a number of States according to exit polls, a Republican Party leader (I forget who) suggested that we should do away with exit polling. Exit polling is considered the gold standard for detecting election fraud, worldwide.
And, lastly, several months after the 2004 election, FOX News ran a number of feature reports showing just how easily the Diebold electronic voting machines could be hacked with little more than a USB memory stick. The virus thus installed could migrate to the central counting computers and convert votes from one candidate to another.
A real question is just why does one Party who complains about voter fraud all the time continually refuse to insist on voting machines that give verifiable receipts to the voter, and why would they call for an exit to exit polling?
Boards of Elections complain about the cost of paper ballots. What about that cost is more important than election integrity? Perhaps it is that one group who otherwise might not be able to win an election, needs to cheat?
Then there is the cheat of Gerrymandering! ! The list goes on and on!
+1 # glyde 2017-06-20 18:44
[quote name="gdsharpe" ]"Exit polling is considered the gold standard for detecting election fraud, worldwide."
France does not have exit polling, and the ballots are counted by real people. I doubt that other European countries have exit polling, and I believe that electronic voting machines are not allowed in that part of the world, at least.
0 # gdsharpe 2017-06-24 19:18
France doesn't have election fraud problems, either. My remark was more in reference to countries that are fledgling democracies (perhaps coming out of autocracies) or those where election fraud has been a problem. Jimmy Carter (or one of his organizations) has led election monitoring in many other countries. In the 2004 elections, in Ohio and Florida there were significant discrepancies in the vote count versus the exit polls. Oddly, in all instances the discrepancies in the vote count favored bush.
+8 # gdsharpe 2017-06-18 08:57
It was during the Reagan administration that the Republican Party started publicizing the idea of a "permanent Republican majority".
Considering their policies and their treatment of the majority of Americans, it would seem that the only way that might be possible is by control of election results.
+10 # I.M. Hipp 2017-06-18 11:47
One of the reasons I did not particularly care for Obama's leadership. Clearly something was going on with the election process and there were no official investigation into any of these issues: 1) GOP investigation that destroyed ACORN - no crime found, but clearly there offense was voter registration that offset the impact of cross check voter purges; 2) Alleged electronic flipping and improprieties in 2000 and 2004; 3) No Justice Department review of challenge of Cross Check; 4) No movement on Voting Holiday in his first two years of office, and; 5) No comprehensive audit of the electronic voting systems despite continuous rumors of improprieties. He left it to a Republican President who is alleged to have profited from election improprieties who appointed two allegedly corrupt Republican factotums involved in at best questionable acts at the state level to correct and validate issues with our elections. Thanks Barry
+8 # I.M. Hipp 2017-06-18 15:17
Curious how this only came to light after it was leaked by a young patriot that is now being prosecuted. I'm not certain that why this information was not released as part of the election post mortem.
+8 # newell 2017-06-18 16:05
And we all believe the CIA and the other secret agencies that tell us it is those godless commies that are the culprits. When have they ever lied to us?
+7 # librarian1984 2017-06-19 06:52
Rev. William "Moral Mondays" Barber has taken up this case as well:

THIS is what we need to be marching about, pressuring the media and our representatives about.

Don't be satisfied with the cr@p they're slopping in our troughs. Demand real news, real action, on issues that matter: health care and election integrity.

I heard there is a July 2nd march planned with the theme 'Impeach'. Unbelievably stupid. Alienating people who might join us, calling for something that will not happen unless we take back Congress, and ignoring the assault on policies taking place right this moment: health care and elections. THAT is what the march should be about!

THE NEW STREAMLINED RSN LOGIN PROCESS: Register once, then login and you are ready to comment. All you need is a Username and a Password of your choosing and you are free to comment whenever you like! Welcome to the Reader Supported News community.