A Common Sense Viewpoint


All over the world, parliamentary systems are being emptied of their democratic content by changes in the electoral system, removal of powers from elected institutions and their handing over to the technocrats of the European Commission, the World Trade Organisation and other standard-bearers of neo-liberalism, and the weakening or removal of civil rights in the name of a bogus “War on terrorism”. The most blatant attacks on democracy have, however, been in the United States, with the latest involving the introduction of a computerised voting system which is laughably easy to rig and virtually impossible to monitor. As Alfred Mendes reports, this has a long and dishonourable history in American politics.


Hi-Tech computer voting is now the order-of-the-day in America. In October 2002, the US Administration passed the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) which authorised the funding of $4 billion for states to use the Direct Recording Election system (DRE) equipment which would have to meet certain standards (set by the Act ) by the year 2006, at which point, they (the states) will be under obligation to have purchased said new equipment. As of December 2003, 36 states have agreed to these obligations. [1] Note that in DRE, votes are stored electronically, and, as such, therefore under proprietary ownership of the equipment companies: the voter is therefore denied access!

As always, the above needs to be seen within an historical context if it is to be properly assessed, and the following facts, at first glance, may seem to be of little pertinence to the opening paragraph - but, hopefully, this will be clarified by the further facts that follow.

In 1933, in answer to the economic Depression that prevailed then, FDR set up the Business Advisory Council (BAC) - a cabal of prestigious corporate capitalists who would subsequently become a crucial adjunct to the US Department of Commerce. This depression lasted throughout the ‘30’s into the very early ‘40’s as evidenced by queues of jobless, among whom it soon became common knowledge that there was no need to apply at certain companies if you were either a Jew or Irish.

In 1961, JFK was elected president by a very small majority and appointed Republicans to all his cabinet posts -but that of Secretary of State. Not long after, as noted by G. William Domhoff in his book ‘The Powers That Be’: the BAC had “...made a unilateral withdrawal from its quasi governmental status in 1962”, and dropping the term ‘Advisory’ from its title, it would from now on be known as  ‘The Business Council’ (BC). The reason for this break in relations was that JFK’s Secretary of Commerce, Luther H. Hodges, had demanded a more open-style Council, the chairman of which, Ralph Cordinger (of General Electric), had become involved in a gigantic price-fixing scandal in the electrical equipment industry. As a result, the Council declared it would become an ‘independent organisation’ which would offer its advice to all agencies of government. Domhoff added “Despite the fact that the Business Council was no longer an official advisory group to the Department of Commerce, it continued the prominent role it had developed during the Eisenhower administration, supplying businesspeople for government positions and meeting regularly in Hot Springs with government officials. It was especially close to the Johnson administration.”[2] The BC was not pleased with JFK.    (The following events of JFK’s presidency will, of necessity, heavily rely on Mark Lane’s book, ‘Plausible Denial’ - inasmuch as it is the most

comprehensive published coverage of the assassination - to say nothing of the attendant cover-ups. After all, Lane was personally involved in much of the legal activity in this affair, and had much access to documents)   But before going further, it is important to note that JFK had inherited another brewing problem: namely, the Cuban revolution of 1959 had led to the expulsion from that island of the American Mafia, who were soon co-opted by the CIA in the latter’s secretive plans to ‘remove’ Castro. A dangerous

precedent was hereby set in motion.

In April 1961, the CIA-led ‘Bay of Pigs’ operation against Cuba failed, and, as Col. L. Fletcher Prouty confirms to Mark Lane, JFK decided to dismantle the CIA by initially firing top officers Allen Dulles (Director), Cabell (deputy Director - whose brother was Mayor of Dallas), and Bissell (Director for Plans). Prouty added that “..The task of breaking up the CIA was scheduled for 1964, after the foreseen Kennedy re-election”. (NB: From ‘55 to ‘63, Prouty had held the following key positions: chief of special operations in (a) the Joint Chiefs of Staff; (b) the Office of the Secretary of Defense; and (c) The US Air Force.) [3]    In the aftermath of the Bay of Pigs fiasco, JFK set up the Cuban study group to determine the future of the CIA (Dulles was part of that group!). This resulted in the three National Security Action Memoranda (NSAM) 55, 56, & 57 aimed at drastically curbing any future CIA activities. This turned out

to be a somewhat futile gesture on Kennedy’s part - the illegal activities

of the CIA continued. [4]

Soon after being elected, and on the advice of his administration (mainly

Republicans, as noted above), he had authorised a 12-fold increase in US

troops to be sent to Vietnam - to the satisfaction of the Military-Industrial complex. It did not take him long to realise his mistake.  In 1963, now determined to withdraw the 16,000 American troops from Vietnam, JFK sent Gen. Maxwell Taylor and Sec. of Defense Robert McNamara to Vietnam to ‘prepare’ a report known as the Trip Report (already drawn up by Maj. Gen. Victor Krulak & Col. Prouty) recommending such withdrawal. (Understandable, when it is recalled that, as Senator, he (JFK) had visited Vietnam in 1951 and written the following complaint in his book “Strategy of Peace” (p.89): “In Indo-China we have allied ourselves to the desperate effort of a French régime to hang on to the remnants of empire. There is no broad general support of the native Vietnam government among the people of that area.”)


Now, this Trip report was duly signed and delivered to the president. Result?  The very crucial NSAM 263 of 2nd October 1963 which called for the immediate removal of 1000 ‘military advisers’ and a timetable for the withdrawal of all remaining troops.  According to Col. Prouty: “The Pentagon was outraged. JFK was a curseword in the corridors”. On the 10th of November 1963, Prouty was posted to the South Pole by Maj. Gen. Edward G. Lansdale, CIA liaison to McNamara. He was therefore not in Dallas when JFK was assassinated on November the 22nd. [5]     


The dissimulative manner in which the investigation of the assassination was conducted by the police, the FBI, the Warren Commission, and the conniving media - all accompanied by numerous contradictory statements - naturally aroused suspicion in the eyes of many, including witnesses to the assassination. Now, suspicion, in the absence of rational facts, prompts assumptions, one of which is a very common-sensical one: namely, in view of the facts above, it was now self-evident that JFK’s relationship with the CIA and the Military-Industrial Complex (as was Eisenhower’s wont to call it) was of such an inimical nature that he was now regarded as a threat to the latter’s strategy of global domination - and would therefore have to be killed sooner rather than later - preferably before the coming election.

Indeed, in 1979, the House Select Committee on Assassinations concluded that JFK was assassinated ‘as a result of a conspiracy’. As for the consequences of such an act - the Establishment’s  economic/political clout was such that they were confident of their ability to cope with them. They wasted no time - with not a little help from the new president, LBJ, who had had little love for JFK. Now, it was becoming increasingly necessary to cover the whole matter with a veil of secrecy, with not a little-help-from the corporate-owned media - but more crucially, subsequent elections would have

to be better ‘controlled’ in order to ensure that the JFK débacle would not

be repeated. The new hi-tech computerised machines would prove essential to

this aim.


Secrecy was of paramount importance to this project, and the first step taken to ensure this was the unpublicised setting up, in August 1964, of the News Election Service (NES), a consortium of the three major television networks: ABC, NBC and CBS, plus the Associated Press wire service, CNN, the New York Times, the Washington Post and other news-gathering organizations, their job being to compile computer-voting results at election time and feed them to the major media. That this veil of secrecy was later lifted (but only to a certain extent), was due to the investigatory work of two brothers, Jim and Ken Collier - entrepreneurs - who wrote a book ‘Votescam:The Stealing of America’ which exposed in comprehensive detail how votes at elections were being manipulated from now on. But it must be hastily added that the major book chains banned publication of the book  (though it is now available on the internet. [6]). The Colliers knew what they were writing about: Ken had run for Congress in Florida in 1970.

One of the earlier punch-card voting devices used was the Harris-designed IBM Votomatic. “The punch card machine was first used officially in 1965 in Fulton and DeKalb Counties, Georgia. .. problems often occur with the ballot when it is put through the reading machine.  Although punch card machines are extremely fallible”, they were widely used [7]  “After several years, IBM realized that the Votomatic voting machine... was actually a Pandora's box...and IBM eventually sold its rights in the company after IBM's president, Thomas Watson, read an article that implied he might be trying to install IBM voting machines in enough precincts to win him the first electronically rigged election for President of the United States”.... “With voting machines attached to telephone lines it was possible to meddle with the actual vote from a telephone miles away. Getting caught was not possible. ‘Deniability’ and ‘untrackability’ were built into the secret source codes that animated the machines.”.... “Most Americans did not realize that such an anti-democratic virus had infected their vote. Most do not realize it today.” [8]

Spurred by reports and rumours of earlier cases of vote-rigging in Dade county (when, in a referendum held in1959,  the 27 municipalities had lost their autonomous powers to an outside, elitist group, the Metro) the Collier brothers decided that one of them, Ken, would run for Congress against the sitting Democrat congressman, Claude Pepper,  in the 1970 election in Dade County, Florida. Pepper won in what the brothers soon realised had been a manipulated, rigged vote involving county officers, police, FBI, and

judiciary! They were shocked, but determined - and their subsequent years of detailed, thorough investigation only confirmed their earlier fears. Vote-rigging was alive and well in America - to say nothing of corruption in the higher reaches of the Justice System in Washington.

One episode covering the Collier’s investigation in the aftermath of the 1970 election is pertinently fascinating: again, they had learned from earlier rumours/reports (see above) that the 1,648 vote machines used in their election were probably stored at the Opa-Locka airport hangar (Jim had learned to fly there)., and the brothers were determined to see them - and learn from them. They obtained a court order and went to said hangar - to find the machines there. Producing their court order, and indicating one of the machines stored there,  Ken asked the man in charge “How can you rig this thing?”. The man, assuning that their presence had been authorised,  explained that there were 2 simple ways: either by putting decals over the counter, or by predeterming the counter reading “by shaving the plastic wheel inside so that it slips ahead 100 or 200 or 300 votes. Any good mechanic can do it with a razor blade.” And he gave them a shaved ‘predetermining’ counter to keep. [9]  They now had another item of evidence in hand - and there were many more to come! (These machines, made by Automatic Voting Machine Co. of New York were evidently not as efficient as the later more complex computer machines that were to follow).

As unearthed by the Collier bros. from the Library of Congress: in 1980, a study was commissioned by the CIA-linked Air Command and Staff College in cooperation with the University of New Mexico to examine the US electoral system. This important, candid study was subsequently distributed to selected government agencies. Following are brief quotes from same (NB: underlining is this author’s): "The United States government has no elections office and does not attempt to administer congressional elections.”...“The responsibility for the administration of elections and certification of winners in the United States national election rests with a consortium of private entities, including 111,000 members of the national League of Women Voters.”...“In the case of counting actual ballots on national election night, public officials have abdicated responsibility of aggregation of election night vote totals to a private organization, News Election Service of New York (NES)”..“ This private organization performs without a contract: without supervision by public officials. It makes decisions concerning its duties according to its own criteria.”...“The question and accountability of News Election Service has not arisen in the nation's press because the responsibility NES now has in counting the nation's votes was assumed gradually over a lengthy period without ever being evaluated as an item on the public agenda.” [10]  In plain English the voter is not allowed access to a computer run ballot. He/She does not

have that legal right!

In 1990, due to a merger, NES became Voter Research & Surveys (VRS), which, in turn, in 1993, became Voter News Service (VNS). Differing titles, but all the same consortium. “VNS is made up of a consortium of news outlets with Bill Headline as executive director, and a board of managers, which is

comprised of a representative from each of the six major networks: Carolyn

Smith from ABC; Tom Jory from AP; Kathy Frankovic from CBS; Tom Hannon from CNN; and Sheldon Gawiser from NBC, and a  representative of FoxNews.” [11]

The following examples of vote-rigging of a high profile nature should

serve to illustrate the endemic corruption in the system:

    (A) In 1988, ex-CIA Director George Bush snr. was elected President. As is

well-known, the New Hampshire primary is a crucial forerunner for any

presidential candidate. Senator Robert Dole was the clear favourite for the

Republicans - but Bush snr. won unexpectedly. How come? The Governor of New Hampshire was one John Sununu, a computer engineer,  and the computer voting machine being used was a ‘Shouptronic’ Direct Recording Electronic (DRE) voting machine, supplied by Ransom Shoup, who “had been twice convicted of vote fraud in Philadelphia.”.. “It completely lacked an ‘audit trail,’ an independent record that could be checked in case the machine ‘broke down’ or its results were challenged.”... “A source close to Gov. Sununu insists that Sununu knew from his perspective as a politician, and his expertise as a computer engineer, that the Shouptronic was prime for tampering. The concept is clear, simple and it works. Computerized voting gives the power of selection, without fear of discovery, to whomever controls the computer.”    On becoming president, Bush appointed Sununu Chief of Staff in his administration. [12]

    (B) Chuck Hagel was CEO of American Information Systems (AIS), a computer voting machine company, until 1995, when he resigned in order to run for the Senate in Nebraska in 1996. He unexpectedly won and thus became the first Republican to do so in 26 years! AIS counted the votes. In 1999 AIS merged with Electronic Systems & Software (ES&S). In the following 2002 election, Hagel retained his seat, this time by a landslide (83%). ES&S counted the votes!  AIS had been founded by brothers Bob and Todd Urosevich, in turn funded by the Howard F. Ahmanson Co. - who therefore still have a stake in what is now ES&S. (Howard Ahmanson belongs to the Council for National Policy, a hard right wing organization, and also helps finance the Chalcedon Institute, a fundamentalist religious group).  The parent company of ES&S, in turn, was McCarthy & Co., founded in the ‘90’s by Michael McCarthy who subsequently acted as campaign  director to Hagel in his two elections - and is now Chuck Hagel's treasurer. Further, Hagel had been president of McCarthy & Company, but resigned following his election in ‘96  - but remains a major investor in the company!. It is of pertinence to note here that ES&S also has a connection to the Bush family. Jeb Bush's first choice as running mate in 1998 was Sandra Mortham who was a paid lobbyist for ES&S and received a commission for every county that bought its touch-screen machines. [13]    

 (C) Jeffrey W. Dean was the senior vice president and a director of Global

Election Systems in 2000 and 2001. He had been released from prison in

August 1995 after having served a sentence for theft in the first degree.

“Defendants thefts occurred over a two-&-a-half year period.” While in

prison, he had become friends with John Elder, who had subsequently been

released in November 1996 after doing 5 years for cocaine trafficking. After

release, Dean and his wife became owners of Spectrum Printing & Mailing (the

funding for this remains a mystery) - and in 2000 sold this firm to Global

Election Systems (GES) for $1.6 million - as a result of which, Dean served

as Snr. Vice-President and director of GES (noted above).  In January 2002,

GES was bought out by one of the larger computer-voting companies, Diebold

Election System,  who, in 2001, had contracted to build voting machines for

GES. Dean was retained as consultant for Diebold.

On 4th February 2002, John Elder (see above) was made general manager of

the Printed Products branch of Diebold.  Weldon O’Dell, CEO of Diebold, had

donated over $200,000 to the Republican Party  in the 2000 and 2002

campaigns - but is better known for his recent letter in which he promised

to deliver  Ohio’s votes to George W. Bush in 2004!  [14]

    (D) Database Technologies  (DBT Online) was founded by Hank Asher, and was a company involved in the George Bush jnr. election fraud.  The group once had a data management contract with the FBI. However, this was terminated following allegations that Asher was associated with Bahamian drug dealers. In 1998, the state of Florida signed a $4 million contract with (DBT Online), which later merged into ChoicePoint, for the purposes of providing a central voter file listing those barred from voting. (As of 2002, Florida is the only state which hires a private firm for these purposes).. The state Florida contracted with DBT in November 1998, following the controversial

Miami mayoral race of 1997. The 1998 contracting process involved no bidding

and was worth $2,317,800!

On 17th April 2000, at a special Congressional hearing in Atlanta,

ChoicePoint Vice-President James Lee testified that Florida had ordered DBT

to add to the list voters who matched 80% of an ineligible voter's name, and

on February 16, 2001, DBT Senior Vice-President George Bruder testified

before the US Civil Rights Commission that the company had misinformed the

Florida Supervisors of Elections regarding the usage of race in compiling

the list.


ChoicePoint Vice President Martin Fagan admitted that at least 8,000 names

were incorrectly listed in this fashion when, the company was passed on a

list given by the state of Texas, these 8,000 names were removed prior to

the election. He described the error as a "minor glitch". He is also quoted

as saying “"Given the outcome of our work in Florida and with a new

president in place, we think our services will expand across the country."  

In January 2000, Pennsylvania terminated its contract with ChoicePoint after

alleging that the firm had illegally sold citizens' personal information. In

2002, ChoicePoint generated earnings of $200 million on revenue of $791

million. The company employs 3,500 people at 52 locations within 26 states.


    (E) According to Mark Lewellen-Biddle of Purdue university, “the three

largest voting machine companies in America are Election Systems and

Software, Sequoia and Diebold”, Sequoia being the second largest “with

roughly one third of the voting machine market. In 1999, the Justice

Department filed federal charges against Sequoia alleging that employees

paid out more than $8 million in bribes. In 2001, election officials in

Pinellas County, Florida, cancelled a $15.5 million contract for voting

equipment after discovering that Phil Foster, a Sequoia executive, faced

indictment in Louisiana for money laundering and corruption.” [16]  And for

good measure, Alex Lefebvre added that Sequoia is largely controlled by the

British cash-printing firm De La Rue, whose parent , “private equity firm

Madison Dearborn, is a partner of the Carlyle Group, the investment firm

that employs the current president’s father, former president George Herbert

Walker Bush.” [17]

The above examples are by no means comprehensive, but they are surely

adequate enough to illustrate that the criminal element could only have

permeated the electoral process - and for so many years - with, at the very

least, the connivance of the higher echelons within the political structure

of the country. Which brings us back to the Help America Vote Act of 2002,

and its effect on the coming presidential election this year - to say

nothing of its effect on the crucially important ‘primaries’ very soon. Of

one thing we can be sure: the votes will once again be rigged, as

illustrated above, and confirmed as promised by Weldon O’Dell of Diebold

above - unless the American enfranchised public wake up very quickly and

take the matter into their own hands. There is little sign of this so far.

The concept of democracy is at stake.





[3] “Plausible Denial” by Mark Lane 1992 Plexus Publishing ltd.  (p. 98)

[4] Ibid  (pp 99,100)

[5] Ibid  (pp102,103)




[8] “Votescam: The Stealing of America” by James & Kenneth Collier 2000

Vistoria House Press   (pp18,19)

[9]  Ibid.  (pp84-88)

[10] Ibid. (pp22,23)

[11] (


[12] op.cit.”Votescam”  (pp13-16)