On November 2, 1998,  one  day  before the November 3rd election,
the ABC television network had briefly posted  to  Internet  what
appeared  to  be actual election results. "How could ABC know the
election results one  day  before  the  election?" some wondered.
ABC's  apparent  mistake  in  posting  the   "election   results"
prematurely led to speculation that their seeming blunder in fact
supported the "Votescam" theory.

                   -+- The Votescam Theory -+-

Some  may  object to calling "Votescam" a theory.  In their book,
*Votescam*, authors Jim and Ken  Collier do provide a fair amount
of evidence that  the  use  of  computers  to  tabulate  election
results  makes  the  process especially vulnerable to fraud.  The
question  is  not whether election fraud exists -- it does -- but
whether  it  exists  so  massively  that  =all=  major  political
contests are fixed and the  voters themselves, therefore, play no
real part in the process. 

                   -+- Votescam: Background -+-

In an article by  Clark  Matthews,  published  in  the  Spotlight
newspaper  ("Computer  Bandits  Can Steal Votes," 11/14/94), that
newspaper's science and  technology  expert  gives an overview of
how computer fraud can make  vote  fraud  easier  to  accomplish.
Matthews writes, in part, that

  the rapid spread of advanced computer technology throughout
  the American election process is a cause of growing concern
  to   citizens   and   computer   professionals  around  the
  country...   [Some  of  these  computer  technologies]  are
  deeply troubling -- or  carefully  hidden from public view.
  And the companies backing these technologies have very deep
  pockets  and  a  mysterious  knack  for  insinuating  their
  equipment into major  voting  jurisdictions... 

Adding  credibility  to concerns about computerized vote fraud is
an article which appeared in The New Yorker magazine ("The Annals
of Democracy," by Ronnie Dugger.  November 1988).  Matthews notes
how Ronnie Dugger, author of the article

  conducted   an   in-depth   investigation   of   electronic
  balloting.  Almost  everywhere  he  looked,  he uncovered a
  voter's  worst  nightmare.   Dugger  focused  on   Computer
  Election  Services (CES).  At that time CES was the largest
  provider of computer  ballots  and  tabulating equipment in
  the country...  [The computers] came complete with external
  switches that  allowed  vote  totals  to  be  altered  from
  outside of the machine.  The vote counting software used by
  the machines was top secret.

In light of the warnings given about  videotaping  voters  issued
during  this  latest  election season, supposedly due to concerns
about intimidation of black  voters  and others, it is especially
interesting how Matthews relates what had happened to Jim Collier
(co-author of *Votescam*) when he, seeking concrete proof of vote
fraud, tried some videotaping of his own:

  ...Jim  Collier  entered  the  county  elections'  computer
  facility with his video camera...  [but] Collier was thrown
  out  of  the  building,  camera  and  all...  [Collier had]
  videotaped an election  worker  running  the  same stack of
  punch-cards through the old-fashioned  tabulating  computer
  again and again and again.

               -+- Vote Fraud: How Massive? -+-

Yes, there is vote fraud.  Yes, the use  of  computer  technology
makes that vote fraud easier to get away with, since there is not
so  clear  of  a  paper  trail  nowadays  as there was when paper
ballots were prevalent.  But has the vote fraud become so massive
that all election results can be known ahead of time?  Conspiracy
Nation does not  think  it's  gotten  that  bad  --  yet.  If the
process has become systematically rigged at the  national  level,
then  why  are  politicians  of  both parties in such a frenzy to
receive campaign contributions?   If  the  nationwide system were
truly rigged, it would be hardly important  how  much  money  any
politician  had  in  their  "war  chest."   Also,  a  preliminary
comparison  by  Conspiracy  Nation  between  ABC's  one-day-early
"results"  and  the  actual  election  results shows that ABC was
=not= omniscient;  ABC's  one-day-early  "results" were sometimes
inaccurate.  For example, a quick check shows ABC had had Alfonse
D'Amato as the winner in New York, but Charles  "Little  Chuckie"
Schumer  was the actual winner.  ABC had had Jim Hodges losing to
David Beasley  in  South  Carolina's  gubernatorial  contest, but
Hodges in fact won.

               -+- The Real Systemic Vote Fraud -+-

But there =is= a type of nationwide, systemic vote fraud going on
of  which  there  can be no doubt.  Congress has failed to tackle
campaign finance  reform.   Through  "soft  money" contributions,
donors of such funds receive a *quid pro quo*  from  legislators:
political  access  and  favorable  legislation.  Evidence of just
what a sweet deal large corporations have been receiving from the
U.S.  Congress appears in, of all places, Time magazine ("Special
Report:  Corporate Welfare, a  System Exposed," 11/9/98).  In the
first installment of  a  special  series  which  Time  says  will
continue in coming weeks, details are given on just how much of a
bonanza  corporations  have  been receiving, courtesy of the U.S.
taxpayer.  Time magazine  says  that  $125  billion is given away
yearly by the federal government in what  Time  calls  "corporate
welfare."   The  standard excuse for these enormous give-aways is
that they result in increased  employment.  But Time smashes that
myth:  Fortune 500 companies "have erased  more  jobs  than  they
have  created  this  past  decade,  and  yet they are the biggest
beneficiaries  of   corporate   welfare."    Unfortunately,  Time
magazine does not, thus far, point  out  the  obvious  connection
between campaign contributions received from corporate donors and
the  subsequent  corporate  welfare  in  its  otherwise excellent

                       -+- Conclusion -+-

Systematic computerized vote fraud, at a national level,  is  not
in  place  --  yet.   But  vote  fraud,  always  occuring in U.S.
history, still goes on and is  probably  on the rise.  The use of
computers in the election process makes  it  easier  to  sabotage
honest  elections, and can make nationwide, systemic vote fraud a
reality.  The most  glaring  and  unremedied vote fraud, campaign
donations which elevate money to  pre-eminence  in  the  election
process, remains legal.

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