by Ian Froeb
Last night at the Eliot Unitarian Chapel in Kirkwood, the Missourians for Honest Elections hosted a screening of most of Dorothy Fadiman’s documentary, Stealing America: Vote by Vote, an expose of electronic voting machine fraud during the 2004 election.
After the film, a former resident of Ladue, Brad Friedman -- now author of the Brad Blog, a Web site that reports on electronic voting machine fraud – discussed ways voters could take action.
Among the more alarming facts from the film:
• In Ohio in 2004, the touch screens on voting machines changed votes from John Kerry to George Bush before voters’ very eyes.
• In the precinct that serves Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio, some people waited in line nine hours in order to use the two available voting machines.
• In several counties in Ohio, more votes were counted for Bush than there were actual registered voters. In San Miguel County, New Mexico, nearly 50 percent of the ballots showed no choice for President.
• The discrepancy between the exit polls and actual election results was six percent, a margin of error that left all the statisticians in the film dumbfounded.
• Two companies, Diebold and Election Systems and Software (ES&S), produce almost all the nation’s electronic voting machines. Computer security experts have proven it is possible to hack these machines and change election results in less than a minute, undetected.
With his sleeves rolled up, Barack Obama-style, Friedman paced the front of the chapel with a portable microphone, exhorting the crowd (mostly comprised of senior citizens) to take action. “Let’s count these damned elections accurately for once!” he cried, to much applause.
Although the documentary did not mention Missouri specifically, Friedman warned St. Louisans that they should not be complacent. As readers of the Brad Blog know, the voters of St. Louis County have a mess on their hands. They, after all, have to vote on ES&S machines. Election judges still ask them to show photo ID, even though that is now illegal. The county is also home to two election officials who were convicted for tampering with recount results in 2006.
Worst of all, Friedman said that Thor Hearn, a Missouri lawyer and former national general counsel for Bush/Cheney 2004, has been trying to prevent innocent people from voting by a scam known as “voter caging.” The Republican Party sends letters to voters by direct mail with instructions not to forward. If the letters get returned, the party claims that the addresses are wrong and that, as a result, the voters’ registration is fraudulent and they should not be admitted to the polls.
Afterwards, some members of the St. Louis City Board of Election, who had attended the talk, appeared bemused. “Our elections functioned very well,” said the board’s chair, Carol Wilson. “Tonight we learned some people have a much different opinion of our system.”