Last remnants of US "bourgeois democracy" disappearing

Stewart Sinclair stewsinc at
Sat Feb 1 22:14:12 MST 2003

"If You Want To Win An Election, Just Control The Voting Machines"
by Thom Hartmann

Friday 31 January 2003

Maybe Nebraska Republican Chuck Hagel honestly won two US Senate elections.
Maybe it's true that the citizens of Georgia simply decided that incumbent
Democratic Senator Max Cleland, a wildly popular war veteran who lost three
limbs in Vietnam, was, as his successful Republican challenger suggested in
his campaign ads, too unpatriotic to remain in the Senate. Maybe George W.
Bush, Alabama's new Republican governor Bob Riley, and a small but
congressionally decisive handful of other long-shot Republican candidates
really did win those states where conventional wisdom and straw polls
showed them losing in the last few election cycles.

[]Perhaps, after a half-century of fine-tuning exit polling to such a
science that it's now sometimes used to verify how clean elections are in
Third World countries, it really did suddenly become inaccurate in the
United States in the past six years and just won't work here anymore.
Perhaps it's just a coincidence that the sudden rise of inaccurate exit
polls happened around the same time corporate-programmed,
computer-controlled, modem-capable voting machines began recording and
tabulating ballots.

[]But if any of this is true, there's not much of a paper trail from the
voters' hand to prove it.

[]You'd think in an open democracy that the government - answerable to all
its citizens rather than a handful of corporate officers and stockholders -
would program, repair, and control the voting machines. You'd think the
computers that handle our cherished ballots would be open and their
software and programming available for public scrutiny. You'd think there
would be a paper trail of the vote, which could be followed and audited if
a there was evidence of voting fraud or if exit polls disagreed with
computerized vote counts.

[]You'd be wrong.

[]The respected Washington, DC publication The Hill
( has confirmed that former
conservative radio talk-show host and now Republican U.S. Senator Chuck
Hagel was the head of, and continues to own part interest in, the company
that owns the company that installed, programmed, and largely ran the
voting machines that were used by most of the citizens of Nebraska.

[]Back when Hagel first ran there for the U.S. Senate in 1996, his
company's computer-controlled voting machines showed he'd won stunning
upsets in both the primaries and the general election. The Washington Post
(1/13/1997) said Hagel's "Senate victory against an incumbent Democratic
governor was the major Republican upset in the November election."
According to Bev Harris of, Hagel won virtually
every demographic group, including many largely Black communities that had
never before voted Republican. Hagel was the first Republican in 24 years
to win a Senate seat in Nebraska.


Wisconsin, for example, had a law that explicitly stated:

"No corporation doing business in this state shall pay or contribute, or
offer consent or agree to pay or contribute, directly or indirectly, any
money, property, free service of its officers or employees or thing of
value to any political party, organization, committee or individual for any
political purpose whatsoever, or for the purpose of influencing legislation
of any kind, or to promote or defeat the candidacy of any person for
nomination, appointment or election to any political office."

The penalty for violating that law was dissolution of the corporation, and
"any officer, employee, agent or attorney or other representative of any
corporation, acting for and in behalf of such corporation" would be subject
to "imprisonment in the state prison for a period of not less than one nor
more than five years" and a substantial fine.

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