Saturday, December 18, 2004
Proof of Ohio Election Fraud Exposed
By William Rivers Pitt, t r u t h o u t | Report
Among activists and investigators looking into allegations of vote fraud in the 2004 Presidential election, the company always mentioned was Diebold and its suspicious electronic touch-screen voting machines.
It is Diebold that has multiple avowed Republicans on its Board of Directors. It was Diebold that gave hundreds of thousands of dollars to Bush’s election campaign. It was Diebold CEO Walden O’Dell who vowed to deliver Ohio’s electoral votes to Bush.
As it turns out, everyone was looking the wrong way. The company that requires immediate and penetrating scrutiny is Triad Systems.
Triad is owned by a man named Tod Rapp, who has also donated money to both the Republican Party and the election campaign of George W. Bush. Triad manufactures punch-card voting systems, and also wrote the computer program that tallied the punch-card votes cast in 41 Ohio counties last November. This Triad company graphic displays the counties where their machines are used:
Given the ubiquity of the Triad voting systems in Ohio, the allegations that have been leveled against this company strike to the heart of the assumed result of the 2004 election.
Earlier this week, the allegations against triad were first raised by Green Party candidate David Cobb, who testified at a hearing held in Columbus, Ohio by Rep. John Conyers of the House Judiciary Committee. In his testimony, Cobb stated:
Mr. Chairman, though our time is limited, I must bring to the committee's attention the most recent and perhaps most troubling incident that was related to my campaign on Sunday, December 12, about a shocking event that occurred last Friday, December 10.
A representative from Triad Systems came into a county board of elections office un-announced. He said he was just stopping by to see if they had any questions about the up-coming recount. He then headed into the back room where the Triad supplied Tabulator (a card reader and older PC with custom software) is kept. He told them there was a problem and the system had a bad battery and had "lost all of its data". He then took the computer apart and started swapping parts in and out of it and another "spare" tower type PC also in the room. He may have had spare parts in his coat as one of the BOE people moved it and remarked as to how very heavy it was. He finally re-assembled everything and said it was working but to not turn it off.
He then asked which precinct would be counted for the 3% recount test, and the one which had been selected as it had the right number of votes, was relayed to him. He then went back and did something else to the tabulator computer.
The Triad Systems representative suggested that since the hand count had to match the machine count exactly, and since it would be hard to memorize the several numbers which would be needed to get the count to come out exactly right, that they should post this series of numbers on the wall where they would not be noticed by observers. He suggested making them look like employee information or something similar. The people doing the hand count could then just report these numbers no matter what the actual count of the ballots revealed. This would then "match" the tabulator report for this precinct exactly. The numbers were apparently the final certified counts for the selected precinct.
Triad is contracted to do much of the elections work in this county and elsewhere in Ohio. This included programming the candidates into the tabulator, and coming up with the rotation of candidates in the various precincts (that is, the order of which candidate is first changes between precincts). They also have a technician in the office on election night to actually run the tabulator itself.
Triad also supplies the network computers on which all of the voter registration information and processing is kept for the county.
It was unusual for the computers to be taken apart. At least one member of the Board of Elections was told the tabulator was in pieces when he called to check on the office.
The source of this report believes that the Triad representative was "making the rounds" of visiting other counties also before the recount. This person also stated they would not pass on the suggestion of the "posted" hidden totals, and would refuse to go along with it if it were suggested by the others in the office at the time.
The source of this information believes they could lose their job if they come forward.
The source of this information is named Sherole Eaton, Hocking County deputy director of elections. She has since written and signed an affidavit describing her experience with the Triad representative, the text of which is here:
December 13, 2004
Re: General Election 2004 - Hocking County, TriAd
Dell Computer about 14 years old - No tower
On Friday, December 10 2004, Michael from TriAd called in the AM to inform us that he would be in our office in the PM on the same day. I asked him why he was visiting us. He said, "to check out your tabulator, computer, and that the attorneys will be asking some tricky questions and he wanted to go over some of the questions they maybe ask." He also added that there would be no charge for this service.
He arrived at about 12:30PM. I hung his coat up and it was very heavy. I made a comment about it being so heavy. He, Lisa Schwartze and I chatted for a few minutes. He proceeded to go to the room where our computer and tabulation machine is kept. I followed him into the room. I had my back to him when he turned the computer on. He stated that the computer was not coming up. I did see some commands at the lower left hand of the screen but no menu. He said that the battery in the computer was dead and that the stored information was gone. He said that he could put a patch on it and fix it. My main concern was - what if this happened when we were ready to do the recount. He proceeded to take the computer apart and call his offices to get information to input into our computer. Our computer is fourteen years old and as far as I know had always worked in the past. I asked him if the older computer, that is in the same room. could be used for the recount. I don't remember exactly what he said but I did relay to him that the computer was old and a spare. At some point he asked if he could take the spare computer apart and I said "yes". He took both computers apart. I don't remember seeing any tools and he asked Sue Wallace, Clerk, for a screwdriver. She got it for him. At this point I was frustrated about the computer not performing and feared that it wouldn't work for the recount. I called Gerald Robinette, board chairman, to inform him regarding the computer problem and asked him if we could have Tri Ad come to our offices to run the program and tabulator for the recount. Gerald talked on the phone with Michael and Michael assured Gerald that he could fix our computer. He worked on the computer until about 3:00 PM and then asked me which precinct and the number of the precinct we were going to count. I told him, Good Hope 1 # 17. He went back into the tabulation room. Shortly after that he (illegible) stated that the computer was ready for the recount and told us not to turn the computer off so it would charge up.
Before Lisa ran the tests, Michael said to turn the computer off. Lisa said, " I thought you said we weren't supposed to turn it off." He said turn it off and right back on and it should come up. It did come up and Lisa ran the tests. Michael gave us instructions on how to explain the rotarien, what the tests mean, etc. No advice on how to handle the attorneys but to have our Prosecuting Attorney at the recount to answer any of their legal questions. He said not to turn the computer off until after the recount.
He advised Lisa and I on how to post a "cheat sheet" on the wall so that only the board members and staff would know about it and and what the codes meant so the count would come out perfect and we wouldn't have to do a full hand recount of the county. He left about 5:00 PM.
My faith in Tri Ad and the Xenia staff has been nothing but good. The realization that this company and staff would do anything to dishonor or disrupt the voting process is distressing to me and hard to believe. I'm being completely objective about the above statements and the reason I'm bringing this forward is to, hopefully, rule out any wrongdoing.
Further buttressing Eaton’s claim is an addendum to a previous affidavit filed by Evelyn Roberson who, you may recall, was involved in the Greene County recount action that was summarily shut down by Ohio Secretary of State Blackwell. Her addendum reads as follows:
Addendum to Declaration of Evelyn Roberson dated December 12, 2004
Re: Incidents of December 10, 2004
This is to add to the approximately 1 :15 p.m. portion of the visit with the Deputy Director of Elections Lyn McCoy with respect to the following comment:
"She said they would have their computer technician check over their computers on Monday in case they has been tampered with."
the addition is that Lyn McCoy also mentioned to me at the same time that her computer technician was with Triad.
I declare under penalty of perjury the forgoing is true and correct.
Dated: December 14, 2004
Original versions of these documents should be available later on Wednesday on the website of Rep. Conyers.
Conyers, upon hearing these allegations, sent a letter to both the FBI Special Agent in Charge in Ohio and the Hocking County Prosecutor. The text of that letter is as follows:
December 15, 2004
As part of the Democratic staff's investigation into irregularities in the 2004 election and following up on a lead provided to me by Green Party Presidential Candidate, David Cobb, I have learned that Sherole Eaton, a Deputy Director of Board of Elections in Hocking County, Ohio, has first hand knowledge of inappropriate and likely illegal election tampering in the Ohio presidential election in violation of federal and state law.
I have information that similar actions of this nature may be occurring in other counties in Ohio. I am therefore asking that you immediately investigate this alleged misconduct and that, among other things, you consider the immediate impoundment of election machinery to prevent any further tampering.
On December 13, my staff met with Ms. Eaton who explained to them that last Friday, December 10, Michael Barbian, Jr., a representative of Triad GSI unilaterally sought and obtained access to the voting machinery and records in Hocking County, Ohio, modified the computer tabulator, learned which precinct was planned to be the subject of the initial test recount and made further alterations based on that information, and advised the election officials how to manipulate the machinery so that the preliminary hand recount matched the machine count. Ms. Eaton first relayed this information to Green Party representatives, and then completed, signed and notarized an affidavit describing this course of events, a copy of which is attached.
The Triad official sought access to the voting machinery based on the apparent pretext that he wanted to review some "legal questions" the officials might receive as part of the recount process. At several times during this visit, Mr. Barbian telephoned into Triad's offices to obtain programming information relating to the machinery and the precinct in question. I have subsequently learned that Triad officials have been, or are in the process of intervening in several other counties in Ohio - Greene and Monroe, and perhaps others (see attached).
There are several important considerations you should be aware of with respect to this matter. First, this course of conduct would appear to violate several provisions of federal law, in addition to the constitutional guarantees of equal protection and due process. 42 U.S.C. §1973 provides for criminal penalties against any person who, in any election for federal office, "knowingly and willfully deprives, defrauds, or attempts to defraud the residents of a State of a fair and impartially conducted election process, by . . . the procurement, casting, or tabulation of ballots that are known by the person to be materially false, fictitious, or fraudulent under the laws of the State in which the election is held." 42 U.S.C. § 1974 also requires the retention and preservation, for a period of twenty-two months from the date of a federal election, of all voting records and papers and makes it a felony for any person to "willfully steal, destroy, conceal, mutilate, or alter" any such record. Further, any tampering with ballots and/or election machinery would violate the constitutional rights of all citizens to vote and have their votes properly counted, as guaranteed by the Equal Protection and Due Process Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
Second, the course of conduct would also appear to violate several provisions of Ohio law. No less than 4 provisions of the Ohio Revised Code make it a felony to tamper with or destroy election records or machines.1 Clearly, modifying election equipment in order to make sure that the hand count matches the machine count would appear to fall within these proscriptions.
Moreover, bringing in Triad officials into other Ohio Counties would also appear to violate Ohio Revised Code § 3505.32 which provides that during a period of official canvassing, all interaction with ballots must be "in the presence of all of the members of the board and any other persons who are entitled to witness the official canvass," given that last Friday, the Ohio Secretary of State has issued orders to the effect that election officials are to treat all election materials as if they were in a period of canvassing,2 and that "Teams of one Democrat and one Republican must be present with ballots at all times of processing."
Third, it is important to recognize that the companies implicated in the wrongdoing, Triad and its affiliates, are the leading suppliers of voting machines involving the counting of paper ballots and punch cards in the critical states of Ohio and Florida. Triad is controlled by the Rapp family, and its founder Tod A. Rapp has been a consistent contributor to Republican causes.4 A Triad affiliate, Psephos corporation, supplied the notorious butterfly ballot used in Palm Beach County, Florida, in the 2000 presidential election.
John Conyers, Jr.
cc: The Honorable F. James Sensenbrenner, Jr.
The New York Times published a report on the matter late Tuesday night:
Lawmaker Seeks Inquiry Into Ohio Vote
By Tom Zeller Jr.
The New York Times
Wednesday 15 December 3004
The ranking Democratic member of the House Judiciary Committee, Representative John Conyers Jr. of Michigan, plans to ask the Federal Bureau of Investigation and a county prosecutor in Ohio today to explore "inappropriate and likely illegal election tampering" in at least one and perhaps several Ohio counties.
The request for an investigation, made in a letter that was also provided to The New York Times, includes accounts from at least two county employees, but is based largely on a sworn affidavit provided by the Hocking County deputy director of elections, Sherole Eaton.
Among other things, Ms. Eaton says in her affidavit that a representative of Triad Governmental Systems, the Ohio firm that created and maintains the vote-counting software in dozens of Ohio counties, made several adjustments to the Hocking County tabulator last Friday, in advance of the state's recount, which is taking place this week.
Ohio recount rules require that only 3 percent of a county's votes be tallied by hand, and typically one or more whole precincts are selected and combined to get the 3 percent sample. After the hand count, the sample is fed into the tabulator. If there is no discrepancy, the remaining ballots can be counted by the machine. Otherwise, a hand recount must be done for the whole county.
Ms. Eaton contends that the Triad employee asked which precinct Hocking County planned to count as its representative 3 percent, and, upon being told, made further adjustments to the machine.
County officials decided to use a different precinct when the recount was done yesterday. No discrepancies were found.
"This is pretty outrageous," Mr. Conyers said. "We want to pursue it as vigorously as we can."
But Brett Rapp, the president of Triad, said that although it would be unusual for an employee to ask about a specific precinct, preparing the machines for a recount was standard procedure and was done in all 41 counties where Triad handles vote counts. He added that he welcomed any investigation.
"I've been doing this since 1985, and in all my experience this is the first time that we have had any complaints whatsoever," Mr. Rapp said.
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