An Open Letter to the New York Times (and by implication) the Rest of the

US Media Who are Trying to Whitewash the 2004 Presidential Election



Dear New York Times, etal,


As a long-time subscribed reader of your publication one, I have always

staunchly defended one of the best in the world--I am incensed by your

dismissive handling of what is one of the most significant breaking news

stories since Watergate.(your Nov.12 article,Vote Fraud Theories, Spread by

Blogs, Are Quickly Buried)


Here I am, seated at my computer, submerged in the nefarious bowels of the

internetreading a New York Times article with all the twitchy

cloak-and-dagger thrust of booking an airline ticket, making a hotel

reservation, a bank transfer or reading the Washington Post, Atlantic, New

Yorker, ABC, NBC, and CBS headlinesthings most of us do on a regular basis

in the parallel universe that is the internet (citing another derogatory

and patently absurd quip by NBC News Chip Reid).


I am neither internet enthusiast nor blogger: the term blogosphere did not

even enter my vocabulary until several weeks before the 2004 election when

these citizen journalists, some more legitimate than others, began

emerging as a powerful political force in the election. I am not unlike

most of your readers: educator, writer, editor, translator with a PhD and a

two-page publications list under my belt, in German and English. I

volunteer for my local park district, where I offer performing arts

programs for children and youth. All in all, Im pretty averagenot unlike

the now nearly 40,000 people whove signed the electronic petition to

Congress requesting an investigation of the 2004 presidential election.

(Note: I do not argue for the legitimacy of all these signatureswhats a few

thousand plus or minus in the greater scheme of things?). The internet is

not a distant planet: I would venture to guess that it is inhabited or at

least visited by 99.9% of your readers.


These readers dont appreciate their entirely justifiable concerns about the

accuracy of the electoral process being discredited and dismissed as

conspiracy theorist-quackeryas eight out of nine responses printed in

todays evidence.


One glaring omission in your coverage involves the way this story began:

you claim that it emerged from the ether in the course of seven days as

mysteriously as the creationist version of human evolution. But that is not

the case.


So how did thousands of Times readers get swept up in the maelstrom of the

online market of dark ideas surrounding the last weeks presidential

election? What really happened to spawn the internet hysteria?


The stage was set on election night, with worldwide shock and disbelief

over Bushs overnight sensation victory: observers throughout the country

and the world who had been following the election closely tucked themselves

into bed Tuesday night confident that help was on the way. This logical

assumption was based not only on early exit polls: it was based on the

worldwide public perception, particularly salient in the United States,

that the only way a Republican victory could be secured was through a

dubious fiat similar to the one we witnessed in 2000. As one astute reader

responding to your front-page coverage of this highly significant media

event succinctly stated: If George W. Bush had won the 2000 election

honestly, people would not be so quick to assume that he did not win this

one fair and square either. Of course, that was in the letters section,

A30. So many readers may have missed it.


Years before the election, perhaps it was with the quiet passage of the

2002 Help America Vote Act which mandated the use of Diebold and ES&S

machines notorious for their "tamperability"--concerned citizens from

various walks of life--professors, computer scientists, systems analysts,

even grandmothers and literary publicists from Seattle--had been attempting

to sound the alarm: the Diebold voting machines are not secure; the

democratic process itself is in jeopardy, seriously so. Bev Harris,

Executive Director of the consumer protection organization, first published her groundbreaking book Black Box

Voting: Ballot Tampering in the 21st Century in 2003. Avi Rubin, professor

of Computer Science at Johns Hopkins University and Technical Director of

the Hopkins Security Information Security Institute, authored that study.

Rubin is a qualified expert with years of practical experience in the

fields of cryptography, network security, Web security and secure Internet

services who was employed by such companies as AT&T and Bellcore prior to

accepting his appointment at Johns Hopkins. On Wednesday, October 27, 2004,

one week before the election, CBS's 60 Minutes broadcast an alarming

segment covering electronic voting, featuring not only Rubin, but David

Jefferson of the Center for Applied Scientific Computing at Lawrence

Livermore National Laboratory. Jefferson described the system currently in

place as the "electoral weapon of mass destruction" which could easily be

manipulated by a "rogue programmer." Mark Crispin Miller, professor of

media studies at New York University and author of several "legitimate"

books on American government published by Norton & Company, also pointed

out the potential for problems with the machine-voting systems, and these

are but a few of the "minority report-esque" voices who attempted to sound

the alarm before the most recent election scandal broke loose on the

internet. Are we to discredit these experts as "internet conspiracy



In the hours since you posted your disparaging report, the bloggers have

lashed backed faster than you could flog them: As Joseph Cannons Friday

blog points out, even as you discount the early reports that began

appearing just two days after the election, you neglect to take into

consideration Dr. Stephen F. Freemans (University of Pennsylvania; degree:

MIT) study published on November 10, whichtwo days prior to your biased

and poorly researched reportlent support to the bloggers conspiracy

theories. Instead, you invoke the imprimatur of Harvard, Cornell and

Stanford, citing an email by three unnamed political scientists posted to

the website (a study that has since been revised and is now

being referred to in the scientific community as the Dopp and Liddle

report). According to your account, there was not sufficient concrete

support to merit the investigations sought by the three Congressmen (John

Conyers. Jerrold Nadler and Robert Wexler). The Dixiecrat theory has, in

fact, since been de-debunked by solid research findings, not by anonymous

emails shot off from prestigious schools. At present, the three primary

studies circulating on the net are the Dopp and Liddle report, the Caltech

report and the Freemans MIT report. Dr. Freemans report concludes that

while Systematic fraud or mistabulation is a premature conclusion, but the

election's unexplained exit poll discrepancies make it an unavoidable

hypothesis, one that is the responsibility of the media, academia, polling

agencies, and the public to investigate," and that furthermore that, "As

much as we can say in social science that something is impossible, it is

impossible that the discrepancies between predicted and actual vote counts

in the three critical battleground states of the 2004 election could have

been due to chance or random error." Freeman concludes that the odds of

those exit poll statistical anomalies occurring by chance are 250,000,000

to one.


These studies do not involve a the kind of fuzzy math implied by the Times

report of blog-to-e-mail-to-blogthey involve a diligent, however frenzied,

study of the actual data produced by exit polls versus actual results.

These so-called internet conspiracy theorists are credentialed

professionals engaged in hard research--most of which is beyond my grasp as

a classically literary-minded PhD, but which clearly reflects solid

research conducted by people who, by virtue of their professional training

in precisely the fields required to analyze this data, are hard at work

doing the job of the entire nation right now. They are doing your job, and

they deserve your support and gratitude, not disdain, derision and

dismissal. The fact of the matter is, the situation we face as a nation is

far too complicated to be figured out without the aid of sophisticated

independent scientists who can analyze the data. The jury is still out on

this one: the fact of the matter is, there are three well-researched

statistical analyses that will need to be studied, compared and analyzed by

highly discerning and well-trained minds. That is likely to take some

timeconsider the stakes involved, wed best just hold our breath waiting for

the research to be complete. In the meantime, these three studies alone

provide enough evidence of anomalies to merit a thorough, time and cost

intensive investigation.


Lets not even begin to discuss or otherwise dismiss the most recent

findings of investigative journalist Greg Palast, one of those

internet-conspiracy-theorist-bloggers charged with snowballing rumors in

cyberspace: in his BBC report (also available online) he states that

documents from the Bush campaign's Florida HQ suggest a plan to disrupt

voting in African-American districts. Is it the BBC that is spreading

rumors, or Germanys highly regarded Spiegel (also available online), which

rightly identifies Palast as an investigative reporter, documentary film

producer and best-selling author and the remaining internet conspiracy

theorists as watchdog groups (in most democracies, this is a positive

moniker not a pejorative).


I must confess, Mssrs. Zeller, Fessenden and Schwartz, in my professional

capacity as a translator of German historical and literary texts, I often

have the unpleasant task of researching internet conspiracy theories and

subjecting myself to the horrific rantings of stark-raving lunatics on the

net. One classic example can be found at this site: This, sirs, is an

internet conspiracy theorythe remaining sources I have cited here are

highly legitimate studies and reports conducted by credentialed scientists

and respectable journalists.


Had you done your research, youd have recognized the difference. Perhaps

you got your internets confused: I see from todays headlines that the

Pentagon [is] Envisioning a Costly Internet for WarTim Weiner reports that

the Pentagon is building its own Internet, the militarys world wide web for

the wars of the future. The goal is to give all American commanders and

troops a moving picture of all foreign enemies and threatsa Gods-eye view

of battle. Maybe that was the internets you had in mindIm quite content

with the Gods eye-view Im getting right here and now on this ol fashioned

democratic internet.


The story is bigger than Watergate. Your dismissal of it is on a par with

the Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion.


Sincerely yours,


Dr. Lilian Friedberg

Reporting from the Democratic Mandate of the United States of America


Bev Harris Finds 'Missing'

FL Vote Records In Trash!

Black Box



Dueling lawyers, election officials gnashing teeth, film crew

catching it all in Volusia County, Florida Here's what happened so far:


Friday Black Box Voting investigators Andy Stephenson and Kathleen Wynne

popped in to ask for some records. They were rebuffed by an elections

official named Denise. Bev Harris called on the cell phone from

investigations in downstate Florida, and told Volusia County Elections

Supervisor Deanie Lowe that Black Box Voting would be in to pick up our

Nov. 2 Freedom of Information request, or would file for a hand recount.

"No, Bev, please don't do that!" she exclaimed. But this is the way it has

to be, folks. We didn't back down.


Monday Bev, Andy and Kathleen came in with a film crew and asked for the

FOIA request. Deanie Lowe gave it to us with a smile, but I noticed that

one item, the polling place tapes, were not copies of the real ones, but

instead were new printouts, done on Nov. 15, and not signed by anyone.


I asked to see the real ones, and they told us for "privacy" reasons we

can't have copies of the signed ones. I insisted on at least viewing them

(although refusing to give us copies of the signatures is not legally

defensible, according to our attorney). They said the real ones were in the

County Elections warehouse. It was quittin' time and we arranged to come

back this morning to review them.


Lana Hires, an employee who gained some notoriety in a Diebold memo, where

she asked for an explanation of minus 16,022 votes for Gore, so she

wouldn't have to stand there "looking dumb" when the auditor came in, was

particularly unhappy about seeing us in the office. She vigorously shook

her head when Deanie Lowe suggested we go to the warehouse.


Kathleen Wynne and I showed up at the warehouse at 8:15 this morning. There

was Lana Hires looking especially gruff, yet surprised. She ordered us out.

Well, we couldn't see why because there she was, with a couple other

people, handling the original poll tapes. You know, the ones with the

signatures on them. We stepped out and they promptly shut the door behind



There was a trash bag on the porch outside the door. I looked into it and

what do you know, but there were poll tapes in there. They came out and

glared at us. We drove away a small bit, and then videotaped the license

plates of the two vehicles marked 'City Council' member. Others came out to

glare and soon all doors were slammed.


So, we went and parked behind a bus to see what they would do next. They

pulled out some large pylons, which blocked the door. I decided to go look

at the garbage some more. Kathleen videotaped this. A man came out and I

immediately wrote a public records request for the contents of the garbage

bag, which also contained ballots -- real ones, but not filled out.


A brief tug of war occurred, tearing the garbage bag open. We then looked

through it, as Pete looked on. He was quite friendly.


We collected various poll tapes and other information and asked if they

could copy it for us, for our public records request. "You won't be going

anywhere," said Pete. "The deputy is on his way."


Yes, not one but two police cars came up and then two county elections

officials, and we all stood around discussing the merits of my public

records request.


They finally let us go, about the time our film crew arrived, and we all

trooped off to the elections office. There, the plot thickened.


We began to compare the special printouts given to us with the signed

polling tapes from election night. Lo and behold, some were missing. We

also found some that didn't match. In fact, in one location, precinct 215,

an African-American precinct, the votes were off by hundreds, in favor of

George W. Bush and other Republicans.


Hmm. Which was right? Our polling tape, specially printed on Nov. 15,

without signatures, or theirs, printed on Nov. 2, with up to 8 signatures

per tape?


Well, then it became even more interesting. Lana Hires took it upon herself

to box up some items from an office, which appeared to contain -- you

guessed it -- polling place tapes. She took them to the back of the

building and disappeared.


Then, voting integrity advocates from Volusia and Broward, decided now

would be a good time to go through the trash at the elections office. Lo

and behold, they found all kinds of memos and some polling place tapes,

fresh from Volusia elections office.


So, we compared these with the Nov. 2 signed ones and the "special' ones

from Nov. 15 given to us, unsigned, and we found several of the MISSING

poll tapes. There they were: In the garbage.


So, Kathleen went to the car and got the polling place tapes we had pulled

from the warehouse garbage. My my my. There were not only discrepancies,

but a polling place tape that was signed by six officials.


This was a bit disturbing, since the employees there told us that bag was

destined for the shredder.


By now, a county lawyer had appeared on the scene, suddenly threatening to

charge us extra for the time we took looking at the real stuff they had

withheld from us in our FOIA. Other lawyers appeared, phoned, people had

meetings, Lana glowered at everyone, and someone shut the door in the

office holding the GEMS server.


Andy then went to get the GEMS server locked down. He also got the memory

cards locked down and secured, much to the dismay of Lana. They were

scattered around unsecured in any way before that.


We then all agreed to convene tomorrow morning, to further audit, discuss

the hand count that Black Box Voting will require of Volusia County, and of

course, it is time to talk about contesting the election in Volusia.


Bev Harris

Executive Director

Black Box Voting



By UC Berkeley

Thursday 18 November 2004

Research team calls for investigation.

Today the University of California's Berkeley Quantitative Methods

Research Team released a statistical study - the sole method available to

monitor the accuracy of e- voting - reporting irregularities associated

with electronic voting machines may have awarded 130,000-260,000 or more

excess votes to President George W. Bush in Florida in the 2004

presidential election. The study shows an unexplained discrepancy between

votes for President Bush in counties where electronic voting machines were

used versus counties using traditional voting methods - what the team says

can be deemed a "smoke alarm." Discrepancies this large or larger rarely

arise by chance - the probability is less than 0.1 percent. The research

team formally disclosed results of the study at a press conference today at

the UC Berkeley Survey Research Center, where they called on Florida voting

officials to investigate.

The three counties where the voting anomalies were most prevalent were

also the most heavily Democratic: Broward, Palm Beach and Miami-Dade,

respectively. Statistical patterns in counties that did not have e-touch

voting machines predict a 28,000 vote decrease in President Bush's support

in Broward County; machines tallied an increase of 51,000 votes - a net

gain of 81,000 for the incumbent. President Bush should have lost 8,900

votes in Palm Beach County, but instead gained 41,000 - a difference of

49,900. He should have gained only 18,400 votes in Miami-Dade County but

saw a gain of 37,000 - a difference of 19,300 votes.

"For the sake of all future elections involving electronic voting -

someone must investigate and explain the statistical anomalies in Florida,"

says Professor Michael Hout. "We're calling on voting officials in Florida

to take action."

The research team is comprised of doctoral students and faculty in the

UC Berkeley sociology department, and led by Sociology Professor Michael

Hout, a nationally-known expert on statistical methods and a member of the

National Academy of Sciences and the UC Berkeley Survey Research Center.

For its research, the team used multiple-regression analysis, a

statistical method widely used in the social and physical sciences to

distinguish the individual effects of many variables on quantitative

outcomes like vote totals. This multiple-regression analysis takes into

account of the following variables by county:

number of voters

median income

Hispanic/Latino population

change in voter turnout between 2000 and 2004

support for Senator Dole in the 1996 election

support for President Bush in the 2000 election

use of electronic voting or paper ballots

"No matter how many factors and variables we took into consideration,

the significant correlation in the votes for President Bush and electronic

voting cannot be explained," said Hout. "The study shows, that a county's

use of electronic voting resulted in a disproportionate increase in votes

for President Bush. There is just a trivial probability of evidence like

this appearing in a population where the true difference is zero - less

than once in a thousand chances."

The data used in this study came from public sources including,

the 2000 US Census, and the Verified Voting Foundation. For a copy of the

working paper, raw data and other information used in the study can be

found at:



Complete US Exit Poll Data Confirms Net Suspicions

Full 51 State Early Exit Poll Data Released For The First Time

By Scoop Co-Editor Alastair Thompson is delighted to be able today to publish a full set of 4pm exit

poll data for the first time on the Internet since the US election. The

data emerged this evening NZT in a post on the Democratic Underground

website under the forum name TruthIsAll.

The new data confirms what was already widely known about the swing in

favour of George Bush, but amplifies the extent of that swing.

See graph q

Figure 1: Graph showing the "red shift" between 2004 US General Election

exit polls & the actual 2004 US Election results

In the data which is shown above in graph

form, we can see that 42 of the 51 states in the union swung towards George

Bush while only nine swung towards Kerry.

There has to date been no official explanation for the discrepancy.

Ordinarily in the absence of an obvious mistabulation error, roughly the

same number of states should have swung towards each candidate.

Moreover many of the states that swung against Democratic Party hopeful

John Kerry swung to an extent that is well beyond the margin of error in

exit polls. Exit polls by their nature - they ask voters how they actually

voted rather than about their intentions - are typically considered highly


Last week in an analysis of a similar, but incomplete set of data, Dr

Stephen F. Freeman from the University of Pennsylvania calculated that the

odds of just three of the major swing states, Florida, Ohio and

Pennsylvania all swinging as far as they did against their respective exit

polls were 250 milllion to 1. (See…"The Unexplained Exit Poll Discrepancy"

– Dr Stephen F. Freeman - .pdf format)

Dr Freeman's academic paper contains a thorough description of why and how

exit polls are conducted (in some countries they use them to prevent

against vote fraud), and considers a number of hypotheses for why this

year's polls could have been so dramatically wrong. He concludes that the

reasons are unknown.

CAUTIONARY NOTE: The data that is released today shows the 4pm data run

from the Edison-Mitofsky polling company. This run was based on 63% of the

full 13660 sample in the poll. However as we also have a set of data from

around midnight with which to compare this data, we can tell that the final

exit poll results were not that far different than these early results.

This in itself tends to suggest that the polling system did not have a

systemic bias in its early data as suggested by some commentators in early

reports on this puzzle.

(For a more detailed description of the limitations of this data and the

claimed gender bias in the early data see.. EXTENDED FOOTNOTE ON THE


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