It all started with the notorious “hanging chad” fiasco of Florida that saw Bush beat off Al Gore’s presidential challenge in 2000. Here is Greg Palast investigating for BBC Newsnight:
Then there were the serious accusations of election fraud during the Bush versus Kerry race of 2004. Here is Palast again reporting for BBC Newsnight, this time on how changes made to the electoral system in Florida would potentially exclude African-American voters for a second time:
And the problems didn’t stop at Florida. In the state of Ohio, the election was also riddled with problems, ranging from breakdowns in electronic voting machines to further accusations of voter disenfranchisement.
On the eve of the 2008 election, Democracy Now! interviewed Democrat Secretary of State of Ohio, Jennifer Brunner, to ask what had gone wrong during the previous election, and what safeguards were now in place (the full interview is in two parts: to hear Brunner’s review of the previous election failures skip to 3:00 minutes in part one):
Then, during the 2008 election there were continuing allegations of irregularities in the state of Ohio. A month after Election Day, filmmaker Sanford Lewis produced a video report profiling the problems that numerous Cleveland area voters had casting their ballot:
Serious criticisms have also been made regarding the lack of adequate security built into the electronic voting system. For instance, CNN has reported on how the Diebold voting machines might be quickly and easily rigged simply by uploading of a software virus:
And we are now in the midst of yet another US election scandal, this time for the Supreme Court election in Wisconsin. The problem on this occasion apparently being due to wrongly input data.
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports that:
“Waukesha County Clerk Kathy Nickolaus said [on] Thursday that she failed to save on her computer and then report 14,315 votes in the city of Brookfield, omitting them entirely in an unofficial total she released after Tuesday’s election.”
“The Brookfield bombshell was the biggest – but hardly the only – change as counties across the state checked their election results Tuesday. Here’s a sample:
• In Winnebago County, officials now say Prosser received 20,701 votes to Kloppenburg’s 18,887. On Wednesday, The Associated Press – which gathers the votes for most of the media in Wisconsin – had 19,991 for Prosser to Kloppenburg’s 18,421.
• In Kenosha, Prosser picked up 33 votes in the Town of Randall and 27 votes in the Town of Bristol, and the canvass is still going on.
• In Waukesha County, Prosser also picked up 200 votes in New Berlin after a clerical error was discovered.
• In Grant County, Prosser lost 116 votes when officials completed their canvass Thursday. The count was off in part because the Town of Smelser incorrectly reported the count for paper ballots that voters cast after the regular ballots ran out, County Clerk Linda Gebhardt said. The town reported 294 votes for Prosser, but later corrected the figure to 194.”1
Here is Kathy Nickolaus, two days after the election was held, explaining how “human error”, including “a typing error”, along with missing votes on her personal computer, had swung the originally tight election by an additional margin of 7000 votes in favour of David Prosser:
To add the controversy, Nickolaus has previously worked for a Republican (Grand Old Party or GOP) caucus that was under the control of Justice David Prosser. The report from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel explaining that:
“Nickolaus has had a long career in Republican politics.
In the 1990s, she worked as a staffer for the Assembly Republican caucus, one of four GOP and Democratic legislative groups that were shut down following a criminal investigation into state staffers doing campaign work on state time.
Prosser led Assembly Republicans as minority leader in that House from 1989 to 1994 and then as speaker in 1995 and 1996, giving him oversight of the GOP caucus in that House.
“To my knowledge (Prosser) has not had any contact with Kathy since she left the caucus,” Prosser campaign manager Brian Nemoir said.
The caucus investigation eventually led to the resignations and criminal convictions of leaders in the Senate and Assembly for directing caucus and staff employees to engage in illegal political activity during their state employment.
Nickolaus, who earned $54,000 a year as a data analyst and computer specialist for Assembly Republicans, was granted immunity in 2001 by authorities conducting the investigation.
In a criminal complaint issued in 2002 against then-Assembly Speaker Scott Jensen and others, prosecutors claimed Nickolaus developed a computer software program that was used by state officials to track donations. According to a Journal Sentinel report, Nickolaus said she developed the software on her own time because she wanted to sell it to the state elections agency for use in automating state-required campaign reports. She left the caucus around that time.”
1 “Corrected Brookfield tally puts Prosser ahead after 7,500-vote gain” by Jason Stein, Laurel Walker & Bill Glauber, published in Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on Thursday 7th April. To read full article click here.