Friday, November 24

Steven Heller: Diebold can not be Trusted

As reported by BradBlog, Diebold Whistleblower Steven Heller has reached a plea deal with LA District Attorney Steve Cooley - and has decided to speak out.

In my view, Diebold has shown they cannot be trusted to run elections in America. We must not allow a private corporation to run our elections for us in secret, using secret machines and secret software. The only thing secret about our elections should be the secret ballot.

I urge all Americans to insist Congress enact Federal legislation requiring that all voting machines must have a voter verifiable paper ballot, be run on open source software code, be subject to inspection by independent computer experts, and that each election have a random sample ballot recount. Only then will we have a chance of restoring true integrity to American elections.

Last February I wrote a highly recommended and contentious Diary on the Heller case, based on a Huffingtonpost article which discussed actions to be taken in his defense.

. Don't prosecute Stephen Heller. He's a whistleblower, not a criminal, and he should not be prosecuted.

. Diebold is the criminal here. Stephen Heller is alleged to have exposed Diebold's criminal activity, and that makes him a whistleblower. He should not be prosecuted.

. Diebold's election malfeasance strikes at the very heart of our democratic republic. Without clean elections, we don't have democracy anymore. Those who expose such crimes are whistleblowers and should not be prosecuted.

. America has a long history of whistleblowers exposing criminal activity, and prosecuting them is wrong; it puts a chilling effect on others who might see criminal activity and want to expose it.

I have no idea weather the Huffingtonpost or Dkos had any impact on the eventual decision make by the LADA, but I have to consider outcome to be a victory for Whistleblowers and Democracy.

Heller pled guilty yesterday in an agreement with Los Angeles prosecutors, after his arrest earlier this year on felony charges related to his release of attorney-client privileged documents he obtained while working as a temporary word-processor at Diebold's law firm, Jones Day.

The agreement, which required him to sign an apology, pay $10,000 in restitution, and not discuss the documents he released, may also allow Heller's felony conviction to be reduced to a misdemeanor charge after one year of "good behavior."

As well, in exchange for Heller's signed apology and commitment not to discuss the documents themselves (which are already publicly available since he released them originally to both the media and Election Integrity activists), Jones Day signed an agreement that they would not sue him in civil court in the matter.

Still, it's quite interesting that Heller was ever in this position since California has a Whistleblower Law...

... which prevents employers from exacting retribution against an employee who "has reasonable cause to believe that the information [being released] discloses a violation of state or federal

That law was used to protect Bev Harris of who received the Jones-Day documents from Heller and provided them to then Secretary of State Kevin Shelley and the CA Attorney General. These events led to the Decertification of Diebold in California as was documented in the recent HBO Film "Hacking Democracy".

Apparently because of his opposition to the Voting company Shelley soon found himself defrocked and replaced by a Republican who quickly recertified Diebold.

Generally speaking Whistleblowers have been taking it in the shorts lately.

Government whistle-blowers are facing increased retaliation for speaking out. "In the four years before the terrorist attacks, whistle-blowers filed an average of 690 reprisal complaints...annually. Since the attacks, an average of 835 complaints have been filed each year, a 21% increase.”

Even with this crackdown - the words seems to be getting out - Lou Dobbs dared to take a few moments away from bashing immigrants to notice.

Electronic voting machines are placing our democracy at risk.” This dire warning on the eve of the election came not from or Air America, but CNN anchor and lifelong Republican Lou Dobbs.

Dobbs was hardly alone in sounding the alarm, as in Maryland both gubernatorial candidates urged voters to use absentee ballots rather than rely on the state’s Diebold voting machines, and nationwide, 66 percent of registered voters believed it to be likely that hackers would tamper with the vote count. While it is encouraging that last week’s election does not appear to have been marred by major allegations of electoral theft, the alarm is still ringing and must be addressed prior to 2008.
In the past six years, the use of electronic voting machines has tripled and is now used by nearly 40 percent of registered voters.

Democrats have been generally mum, considering how well they did two weeks ago, but there is still very strong evidence that the FL-13 race was hacked and stolen.

The group of nearly 18,000 voters that registered no choice in Sarasota's disputed congressional election solidly backed Democratic candidates in all five of Florida's statewide races, an Orlando Sentinel analysis of ballot data shows.

Among these voters, even the weakest Democrat -- agriculture-commissioner candidate Eric Copeland -- outpaced a much-better-known Republican incumbent by 551 votes.

The trend, which continues up the ticket to the race for governor and U.S. Senate, suggests that if votes were truly cast and lost -- as Democrat Christine Jennings maintains -- they were votes that likely cost her the congressional election.

Republican Vern Buchanan's 369-vote victory was certified by state officials Monday. His camp says that, although people may have skipped the race -- intentionally or not -- there is no evidence that votes went missing.

But the results of the Sentinel analysis, two experts said, warrant additional investigation.

"Wow," University of Virginia political analyst Larry Sabato said. "That's very suggestive -- I'd even say strongly suggestive -- that if there had been votes recorded, she [Jennings] would have won that House seat."

The fact that Democrats did so well this year is no excuse to sweep these issues under the rug. Fortunately, the issue hasn't been completely ignored by some newly empowered Dems. Pat Leahy has called for Laura Ingraham's Phone Jamming Suggestions to be investigated, and Harry Reid is beginning to ,talk tough.

"The Senate Democratic leadership team plans a long, laborious slog for the Senate next year even as party leaders continue to formalize their legislative agenda for the 110th Congress — an agenda that already includes a couple of surprises.

"At a breakfast with reporters Tuesday, incoming Majority Leader Harry Reid [D-NV] warned that the “do-nothing” Congress, as his party has labeled recent Republican rule in the chamber, will soon be over....

"Principally, Reid said that would mean passing a bill to create criminal penalties for election fraud, including offenses such as voter misinformation campaigns carried out by robo-calls and misleading flyers.

"Noting that such tactics were used in both the Missouri and Maryland Senate races, Schumer said, “I think the person or people who authorized that should go to jail for 10 years.” Currently, civil fines usually are the most serious penalty assessed for such ploys. Schumer added that a separate unit should be created within the Justice Department to deal with cases of election fraud."

Even if these reforms are enacted we still should consider the job incomplete, we've all seen how well a partisan agenda can completely neuter the DOJ's existing Civil Rights Division which under the Voting Rights Act already has jurisdiction on these matters.

It's a step in the right direction, but we still need to ask - No, Demand - more and better safeguards for our vote. Our Democracy depends on it.


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