From: "Russell D. Hoffman" <>
Subject: Re: [greenaction] Now Your Vote is the Property of a Private Corporation
Cc: bluespin <>
In-Reply-To: <>

Hi Konformist:

In the middle of my third decade as a computer programmer, I can certainly attest that you can hide ANYTHING in the code if you want to.  Voting software MUST be publicly available for scrutiny if voting systems are to be trusted, but that will make them much easier to hack.  Also, they MUST produce a proper audit trail.  That would not be hard to do, even while maintaining utter vote privacy, although reviewing the audit trail would probably be fairly costly -- but that would only need to be done in cases where fraud was suspected -- when Saddam gets 100% of the votes, for instance, or when someone named BUSH "wins" an election. 

Done right, voting machines can save the public a lot of money and make it easier for them to vote for who they want (on-screen color pictures of the candidates could easily be included, for instance, so you would know EXACTLY who you are trying to vote for).  Done poorly, as is clearly what is happening, they just make it easier for voting fraud to be perpetrated on the people.

Below the article by Thom Hartmann is something I wrote in August, 2001, which includes a quote from Buckminster Fuller on the subject of electronic voting (he was very much for it).


Russell Hoffman
Senior Programmer
Carlsbad, CA


At 07:17 AM 3/10/2003 , bluespin <> sent:
Now Your Vote Is The Property Of A Private Corporation
by Thom Hartmann

    "The right of voting for representatives is the primary right by which
all other rights are protected.  To take away this right is to reduce a man
to slavery...."  -- Thomas Paine

    Santa Clara County, of all jurisdictions in America, should have known
better.  They could have started by looking at Florida.

    Jeb Bush stole the vote in Florida in 2000 by kicking thousands of
legitimately registered black voters off the voting rolls because they had
similar names to Texas felons, a feat well documented by Greg Palast and the
mainstream British press.  In a brilliant bit of misdirection, Bush
portrayed the problem as one of incompetent elderly voters, dumb minority
voters, and a problem with "chads" - unreliable voting technology.

    Bush's answer was to install touch-screen voting machines across Florida
in time for the 2002 election.  (In this, he was following a similar course
as Georgia, Texas, and 30 other key states, in large part because of $3.9
billion in federal funds offered by the "Help America Vote Act" passed just
after the 2000 election to encourage states to replace government-run
paper-trail vote systems with no-paper-trail computerized systems from
private corporate vendors.)

    But in the November 2002 election, when some Florida voters pressed the
touch-screen "button" for Bush's Democratic opponent, votes were instead
recorded for Bush.  "Misaligned" touch-screen voting machines were blamed
for the computer-driven vote-theft, and when a losing candidate in Palm
Beach sued to inspect the software of Florida's computerized voting
machines, a local judge denied the petition, citing the privacy rights of
the corporation that wrote the programs.

    This was followed by January 2003" revelations that Republican
Senator Chuck Hagel was the former head (and a current stockholder) of the
private voting machine company that tabulated the vote in Nebraska - where
he ran for office and won - and that he had neglected to tell Senate ethics
investigators about it.

    And in February of 2003, Bev Harris of noticed a
wide-open FTP site.  Harris had just done a Google search on the company
that tabulated most of the vote in Georgia in the 2002 election.  (That was
the upset election that saw popular war-hero Max Cleland, who lost three
limbs in Vietnam, defeated by a poll-trailing draft dodger who campaigned by
questioning Cleland's patriotism.) Walking into the unsecured FTP website,
she says she found a software patch that was apparently applied statewide to
Georgia's voting machines just days before the election, and a folder titled

    And corporate control of America's vote has reached beyond the borders
of this nation.  The last week of February, New York's "Newsday" reported in
a story by staff writer Mark Harrington that: ", a struggling
Garden City start-up scheduled to provide online absentee ballots for U.S.
military personnel in the 2004 federal election, has quietly sold
controlling power to an investment group with ties to unnamed Saudi
nationals, according to company correspondence."

    Fast-forward a few days to the first week of March, 2003.

    Dan Spillane, a former software engineer for a voting machine company
that includes a former CIA Director and Dick Cheney's former assistant on
its board of directors, has sued his employer for firing him when he pointed
out holes in their system that he claims could lead to vote-rigging.
Although there is a certification process for ensuring the honesty of votes
tabulated by computerized, touch-screen voting machines, according to
Spillane the system works "very much like Arthur Andersen in the Enron
ture.pdf Anderson Consulting has renamed itself, added Microsoft's CEO to
its board, and gone into the business of helping corporations get contracts
to perform previously-government-run services.)

    Spillane filed his lawsuit the same week that Santa Clara County,
California decided to hand their electoral process over to computerized
electronic voting machines programmed by a private corporation.  The
machines generate no paper trail that can be audited, and when voting
machine companies have been challenged to produce audits of their vote or to
disclose details of their software, they cite the privacy rights that come
from corporations being considered "persons" in the United States.

    Of all localities in America, Santa Clara County should have been the
wariest.  This is the county, after all, that sued the Southern Pacific
Railroad in 1886 over non-payment of taxes and, in losing the lawsuit, paved
the way for the corporate takeover of the United States of America.

    When the railroad suggested to the Supreme Court that the Fourteenth
Amendment, which freed the slaves by guaranteeing all persons equal
protection under the law regardless of race, had also freed corporations
because they should be considered "persons" just like humans, the attorney
for Santa Clara County, Delphin M. Delmas, fought back ferociously.

    "The shield behind which [the Southern Pacific Railroad] attacks the
Constitution and laws of California is the Fourteenth Amendment," said
Delmas before the Supreme Court. "It argues that the Amendment guarantees to
every person within the jurisdiction of the State the equal protection of
the laws; that a corporation is a person; that, therefore, it must receive
the same protection as that accorded to all other persons in like

    The entire idea was beyond the pale, Delmas said.  "The whole history of
the Fourteenth Amendment," he told the Court, "demonstrates beyond dispute
that its whole scope and object was to establish equality between men - an
attainable result - and not to establish equality between natural and
artificial beings - an impossible result."

    The purpose of the Fourteenth Amendment, passed just after the Civil
War, was clear, Delmas said.  "Its mission was to raise the humble, the
down-trodden, and the oppressed to the level of the most exalted upon the
broad plane of humanity - to make man the equal of man; but not to make the
creature of the State - the bodiless, soulless, and mystic creature called a
corporation - the equal of the creature of God."

    He summarized his pleadings before the Supreme Court by saying,
"Therefore, I venture to repeat that the Fourteenth Amendment does not
command equality between human beings and corporations; that the state need
not subject corporations to the same laws which govern natural persons; that
it may, without infringing the rule of equality, confer upon corporations
rights, privileges, and immunities which are not enjoyed by natural persons;
that it may, for the same reasons, impose burdens upon a corporation, in the
shape of taxation or otherwise, which are not imposed upon natural persons."

    Delmas had every reason to assume the Court would agree with him - it
already had in several similar cases.  In an 1873 decision, Justice Samuel
F. Miller wrote in the majority opinion that the Fourteenth Amendment's "one
pervading purpose was the freedom of the slave race, the security and firm
establishment of that freedom, and the protection of the newly-made freeman
and citizen from the oppression of those who had formerly exercised
unlimited dominion over him."

    And, in fact, the Court chose to stay with its previous precedent. It
ruled on the tax aspects of the case, but explicitly avoided any decision on
whether or not corporations were persons.  "There will be no occasion to
consider the grave questions of constitutional law" raised by the railroad,
the Court ruled in its majority opinion.  The case was about property taxes
and not personhood, and, "As the judgment can be sustained upon this ground,
it is not necessary to consider any other questions raised by the

    But just as computerized voting machines can be reprogrammed, so too,
apparently, could a U.S. Supreme Court decision.  The Court's reporter - a
former railroad president - took it upon himself to grant corporations
personhood in the commentary (headnote) he wrote on the case, even though it
explicitly contradicted the Justices' ruling itself.  (And to this day other
forms of association, like unions, unincorporated small businesses, and even
governments do not have personhood rights.)

    But corporations have claimed the First Amendment right of persons to
free speech and struck down thousands of state and federal laws against
corporations giving money to politicians or influencing elections; they've
claimed Fourteenth Amendment rights against discrimination to prevent
communities from "discriminating" against huge out-of-town retailers or
corporate criminals; and have claimed Fourth Amendment rights of privacy
that will prevent voters or public officials from examining the software
that runs their computerized voting machines.

    Now corporations will be telling the citizens of Santa Clara County how
they voted.  And those same corporations will use the shield of corporate
personhood - once valiantly disputed before the Supreme Court by the
County's attorney - to withhold from the County's voters the right to "look
behind the curtain" at the corporate-owned software and computerized
processes that tabulate their vote.  How sadly ironic.

    Thom Hartmann is the author of "Unequal Protection: The Rise of
Corporate Dominance and the Theft of Human Rights."  and  This
article is copyright by Thom Hartmann, but permission is granted for reprint
in print, email, or web media so long as this credit is attached.

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"Russell D. Hoffman" wrote:

> To: Senator Chris Dodd (D-CT)
> From: Russell D. Hoffman, formerly of Pixlee Place, Bridgeport, Connecticut
> (born in CT; current addr. below)
> Re: Voting solution thought of long ago by R. Buckminster Fuller now practical
> Date: August 3rd, 2001
> Dear Senator Dodd,
> Bravo for your excellent remarks today regarding the need to improve the
> ability of people to cast their ballots, which I enjoyed hearing live on
> CSPAN out here in California, where I moved 10 years ago to escape
> Connecticut's beautiful but frightful winters.  I visit as often as I can,
> but vote here.
> I want to tell you about a voting technique which can be used to accomplish
> your goals, and is practical and cost-effective (what exactly is one vote
> worth to the American public, anyway?).
> The idea was described nearly 40 years ago, in the dawn of the computer
> age, by R. Buckminster Fuller (1895-1983).  Dr. Fuller was an American
> icon, an affable and lovable genius who was the inventor of the Dymaxion
> Projection Map, the Dymaxion Car, various environmentally friendly houses
> such as the Wichita House, and also many vital engineering concepts, such
> as the Geodesic Dome and the Octet Truss.  He received 47 Honorary Degrees
> in his lifetime, although alas, I could not find a Connecticut institution
> which had honored him that way, although he did receive honorary degrees
> from institutions in Maine, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New York, New
> Hampshire, Illinois, California, Pennsylvania, etc. etc. and his geodesic
> domes and other structures dot the landscape all over the globe.  But his
> idea about voting has been forgotten (along with several others).
> In 1963 Dr. Fuller published a book called "No More Secondhand God" in
> which, among other things, he describes a voting solution.  Rather than
> attempt to improve upon his description, I think you'll enjoy reading his
> words directly:
> He wrote:
>       "Devise a mechanical means
>       for nation-wide voting
>       daily and secretly
>       by each adult citizen
>       of Uncle Sam's family:
>       Then -- I assure you
>       will Democracy "be saved"
>       indeed, exist,
>       for the first time in history.
>       "This is a simple mechanical problem
>       involving but fractional effort
>       of that involved in distributing
>       the daily mails to the nation.
>       Telephone talks in the U.S. each day
>       are three times the number
>       of votes which were cast
>       for President
>       in the record election year.
>       "Electrified voting as bride
>       to our most prodigal
>       wildcat broadcasting
>       and beloved son -- journalism
>       promises a household efficiency
>       superior to any government of record
>       because it incorporates
>       not only the speed of decision
>       which is the greatest strength of the dictator,
>       (a boon if he's godly,
>       a death-ray if he is not)
>       but additional advantages which can never be his."
> (From: No More Secondhand God, by R. Buckminster Fuller, Copyright 1963,
> pages 10-11)
> Next Dr. Fuller listed nine advantages and stated that: "The possibility
> mathematically of effective abuse through cheating is nil."
> I completely agree with Dr. Fuller's assessment that the computer can solve
> far more voter fraud problems than it might create.  I have spent more than
> 20 years in the computer business, programming everything from laser
> control systems to bank account statements to educational animation.  A
> computerized voting system can be made to be both utterly anonymous and
> virtually foolproof in its tally.  No system is perfect but computers can
> get closer than all other systems, simply because they can take advantage
> of every mechanical solution we can think of and apply every binary (logic)
> solution we care to apply as well.  A computer can even emulate mechanical
> devices, if that's what is needed.   Computerized voting is what we need,
> Senator.
> "Bucky" added a word of caution:
>       "If having tried it,
>       a modernized, electrified, direct Democracy
>       proves inferior as a survival means
>       against all-comers,
>       then may the people turn with contentment
>       to the superior means.
>       But if direct Democracy is not tried now,
>       future generations will again champion it,
>       and there will be world civil wars
>       until it receives adequate trial."
> (No More Secondhand God, by R. Buckminster Fuller, Copyright 1963, page 13)
> Your remarks today about the need for votes to be properly counted are
> certainly something Dr. Fuller would have agreed with, and I believe his
> computerized solution would enable your goal of a more fair system to be
> achieved.
> Perhaps Connecticut can honor Dr Fuller by implementing his idea -- in full
> or in part -- which I'm sure Dr. Fuller would have agreed would be a much
> nicer way to honor him than with some degree from some university he went
> and gave a speech to.  Not knocking talking, but it never gets anything
> done.  He liked to make things happen and his passion about this subject is
> clear.
> My extremely small animation company, which has produced educational
> software for nearly 20 years, is not equipped to bid on such a project, but
> I would be glad to go into greater detail about what is needed at your request.
> Sincerely,
> Russell Hoffman
> Technologist, Futurist
> California, USA

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