Introduction by Denis Smith, former Executive Director of the National Middle School Association
Some of you may think the story below is old news, but it is not that way for me. The 2004 election was the first electoral contest that I worked as a precinct volunteer. As a result of being there and witnessing how this election was conducted, I saw hundreds of people leave the voting lines because of long delays. When I arrived at inner-city Precinct 19-B in Columbus at 7:15am to work on Election Day (I had voted in my home (suburban) precinct at 6:30am with no wait and plenty of voting machines), I quickly discovered that there were only three voting machines to handle the huge turnout. (In the March primary, which was of no consequence, there were seven machines that were delivered to that same precinct 19-B!) You can imagine the result - people waiting for hours in the rain who had to leave to go to work, be with their children as they returned from school, or care for a shut-in. I should also tell you that my suburban precinct, almost all white and nearly all Republican, got 8 voting machines on election day, while the inner-city precinct, nearly all Democrat, got just 3.) After the election, I filed an affidavit of what I saw. I was also interviewed off-camera by the British TV network ITN to get my views on what was happening. The result was that Bush "won" Ohio by 100,000 votes, but there are those, like me, who witnessed this travesty and who believe the election was rigged, a la Florida in 2000. If you look up the final electoral result, if John Kerry had won Ohio in 2004, he would have become president -- even though he would have had about 1 million less popular votes than George Dubya Bush. What a turnaround that would have been to the 2000 result, when Gore won the popular vote by 500,00, but lost when the Supremes selected Dubya as president. I hope you enjoy this article by Bob Fritakis, a political science professor at Columbus State College.
PS - If you follow this somewhat technical article, you might come to believe that we were robbed - twice in a row. So much for democracy and our so-called democratic system.
Recently Released Deposition on the 2004 Presidential Election
A new filing in the King Lincoln Bronzeville v. Blackwell case includes a copy of the Ohio Secretary of State election production system configuration that was in use in Ohio's 2004 presidential election when there was a sudden and unexpected shift in votes for George W. Bush.
The filing also includes the revealing deposition of the late Michael Connell. Connell served as the IT guru for the Bush family and Karl Rove. Connell ran the private IT firm GovTech that created the controversial system that transferred Ohio's vote count late on election night 2004 to a partisan Republican server site in Chattanooga, Tennessee owned by SmarTech. That is when the vote shift happened, not predicted by the exit polls, that led to Bush's unexpected victory. Connell died a month and a half after giving this deposition in a suspicious small plane crash.
Additionally, the filing contains the contract signed between then-Ohio Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell and Connell's company, GovTech Solutions. Also included that contract a graphic architectural map of the Secretary of State's election night server layout system.
Cliff Arnebeck, lead attorney in the King Lincoln case, exchanged emails with IT security expert Stephen Spoonamore. Arnebeck asked Spoonamore whether or not SmarTech had the capability to "input data" and thus alter the results of Ohio's 2004 election. Spoonamore responded: "Yes. They would have had data input capacities. The system might have been set up to log which source generated the data but probably did not."
Spoonamore explained that "they [SmarTech] have full access and could change things when and if they want."
Arnebeck specifically asked "Could this be done using whatever bypass techniques Connell developed for the web hosting function." Spoonamore replied "Yes."
Spoonamore concluded from the architectural maps of the Ohio 2004 election reporting system that, "SmarTech was a man in the middle. In my opinion they were not designed as a mirror, they were designed specifically to be a man in the middle."
A "man in the middle" is a deliberate computer hacking setup, which allows a third party to sit in between computer transmissions and illegally alter the data. A mirror site, by contrast, is designed as a backup site in case the main computer configuration fails.
Spoonamore claims that he confronted then-Secretary of State Blackwell at a secretary of state IT conference in Boston where he was giving a seminar in data security. "Blackwell freaked and refused to speak to me when I confronted him about it long before I met you," he wrote to Arnebeck.
On December 14, 2007, then-Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner, who replaced Blackwell, released her evaluation and validation of election-related equipment, standards and testing (Everest study) which found that touchscreen voting machines were vulnerable to hacking with relative ease.
Until now, the architectural maps and contracts from the Ohio 2004 election were never made public, which may indicate that the entire system was designed for fraud. In a previous sworn affidavit to the court, Spoonamore declared: "The SmarTech system was set up precisely as a King Pin computer used in criminal acts against banking or credit card processes and had the needed level of access to both county tabulators and Secretary of State computers to allow whoever was running SmarTech computers to decide the output of the county tabulators under its control."
Spoonamore also swore that "...the architecture further confirms how this election was stolen. The computer system and SmarTech had the correct placement, connectivity, and computer experts necessary to change the election in any manner desired by the controllers of the SmarTech computers."
Project Censored named the outsourcing of Ohio's 2004 election votes to SmarTech in Chattanooga, Tennessee to a company owned by Republican partisans as one of the most censored stories in the world.
In the Connell deposition, plaintiffs' attorneys questioned Connell regarding gwb43, a website that was live on election night operating out of the White House and tied directly into SmarTech's server stacks in Chattanooga, Tennessee which contained Ohio's 2004 presidential election results.
The transfer of the vote count to SmarTech in Chattanooga, Tennessee remains a mystery. This would have only happened if there was a complete failure of the Ohio computer election system. Connell swore under oath that, "To the best of my knowledge, it was not a fail-over case scenario – or it was not a failover situation."
Bob Magnan, a state IT specialist for the secretary of state during the 2004 election, agreed that there was no failover scenario. Magnan said he was unexpectedly sent home at 9 p.m. on election night and private contractors ran the system for Blackwell.
The architectural maps, contracts, and Spoonamore emails, along with the history of Connell's partisan activities, shed new light on how easy it was to hack the 2004 Ohio presidential election.
Bob Fitrakis is co-counsel in the King Lincoln case.
Bob Fitrakis is co-counsel in the King Lincoln case.