How to beat vote fraud
Geoff Metcalf interviews fair-elections crusader Jim Condit

By Geoff Metcalf

Many Americans believe vote fraud is a problem endemic only to third-world nations. In reality, the United States, with its computerized voting systems, has more potential for fraud than many less-advanced nations. Jim Condit has been fighting vote fraud in the U.S. for over 20 years. He started Citizens for a Fair Vote Count, the nation's oldest organization attempting to ensure fair and honest elections in the United States. WorldNetDaily writer and talk show host Geoff Metcalf recently interviewed Condit about Tuesday's election and the ways fraud can easily creep into the electoral process.

Question: You and I have talked about this in the past, and neither one of us believes the entire election system is rigged, but the entire system doesn't have to be rigged to affect the outcome, does it?

Answer: Right. There are only a very few cases where we actually have the evidence of absolute vote fraud. Our objection to the system is that no one can know whether it has been rigged or not. This isn't something people have to take on faith just because I'm saying it. If they call their county -- as long as they live outside the state of New Hampshire -- if they call their county board of elections and say, "We would like to know what the legal procedure is by which citizens can go to their neighborhood precincts as the polls close and count or double check the ballots, just to make sure that the computers are programmed properly," they are going to find out that the answer everywhere but in New Hampshire is that you cannot do that.

Q: And the obvious question is: Why?

A: There's a fellow named Chuck Geshlider running for Town Board in Pahrump, Nev. Chuck has really got them on the run because there are only 5,000 votes, and he's running on one issue. His slogan is "I want clean elections." He is using a kitchen analogy: Everybody was eating at a restaurant, and everybody started to feel sick. One of the people is from the board of health, and he says, "Hey, we'd like to go in and look at your kitchen because everybody is getting sick here." And the owner says, "No way. No one is ever allowed to look at our kitchen." What would you think? That's the situation we have in our elections. The boards of elections in about 3,075 counties, except some counties in New Hampshire, say you can never see our kitchen.

Q: I think it was a couple of years ago in San Francisco, more people voted than were registered to vote.

A: Yes. And there has been another blatant case like that in Texas. It wasn't a very big town, but they had 222 people vote and they only had 190 people registered to vote in the county.

Q: When something like that happens, what, if any, are the negative consequences?

A: There are generally none. The only negative consequences that I've seen since I began investigating in the last 21 years, is that occasionally they will find some small-town candidate who goes around and makes up fake registrations or votes from people who are dead or votes from people that are sick by absentee ballot. He then gets caught and eventually has to confess.

But this is petty, petty thievery compared to what we're worried about -- based on some of the systems that are now being set up where a centralized computer or satellite could actually question the machines during the election to see what's going on and then change the vote count without the citizens who are manning that voting place that day having any idea of what went on.

I just talked with a reporter from Riverside, Calif., from the daily paper, and she is doing a story on the system they are just putting in there in which there is no paper trail. It's just a bunch of computers and people punch pads where the heat from their finger registers it -- like in a fast-food restaurant where they push the food item buttons. That's what they're doing in Riverside and in Las Vegas and in Columbus. At the end of the day, they push a little button and it spits out a grocery story type receipt. There is no paper trail.

People say, "At least they are free-standing machines with little computers at each precinct." But the problem is that with satellite technology, those machines can now be accessed and questioned or queried from satellite technology. And, by the way, they all have two-way modems in them -- that's been verified by Dr. Philip O'Halloran.

I think everyone has seen the commercials lately that are hitting a lot of the cable news networks talking about the wireless Internet. The technology exists. That is the possibility that we want to guard against -- that the satellite could use those two-way modems on those free-standing computers to alter the vote.

Q: Especially with what we are being told about this being a close election.

A: That's right. I don't know how anybody else feels, but we put out a hard and fast prediction on our website on Aug. 2 -- and we repeated it last week -- the powers that be want George W. Bush. They do not want Al Gore, so Bush will win.

Q: I predicted a couple of weeks ago that Bush will win with at least 350 electoral votes.

A: Then we're on the same page on that. What most people should realize -- at least this is what I believe -- is that the two major parties are both supporting NAFTA, GATT and WTO, are in favor of strengthening the U.N., and support turning over some military functions to the United Nations, although at first they will be very mild. That's Bush and Gore. I always tell people I'm for truth in advertising, that I'm a Pat Buchannan / Howard Phillips conservative, but we also work with Vickie Collier, the daughter of Jim Collier who wrote "Vote Scam."

Q: Jim Collier is the one who first introduced me to this issue years ago.

A: Unfortunately, Jim passed away of cancer in 1998 but his daughter, who is 26 years old, continues the fight with us. She's a Nader supporter, or worse. She may even be to the left of Nader, but on the fair elections issue, we are united.

Q: Before we get into the potential for solutions to this problem, I'd like you to explain to our readers what the Voter News Service is?

A: This is a critical piece of the puzzle. I won't name the reporter because she is a very sincere person trying to get into what is going on and what the dangers are of this new system they installed in Riverside. She is a reporter for a major newspaper in Riverside, a daily, and she had never heard of Voter News Service. I told her: Don't feel bad because even though this organization has been around for 25 years and has used this name for at least the last seven or eight, their existence is basically covered up by the five major TV networks.

Q: Who all sit on the board.

A: Yes. ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, Fox and AP all sit on the board. Let me explain what Voter News Service is. They do all the exit polls for these networks. So, for the last 25 years when you and I have sat around on election night and, as an example, we may hear Dan Rather say, "CBS News can now project on the basis of exit polls that George Bush is the winner in Florida." When someone hears that, you might assume, gee, they must have five guys with computers and pencils and they're sweating trying to get all the figures crunched from their own network exit polls to beat ABC and NBC onto the air. Now we know that the implied election night competition is a hoax and the media know it is a hoax.

Q: One of the reasons this beast came about is because you had conflicting reports from the networks and, frankly, they were embarrassed by it.

A: That was back in ... I believe it was 1968. They said, this is bad; we can never have this happen again. I think one of the networks might have called Humphrey the probable winner and then Nixon actually won. So, they formed this cartel. If someone wants to check this out, get into the Washington Post archive from about three weeks ago. They carried an article on Voter News Service that was very sympathetic in which they said this organization in New York City does all the exit polls for all the networks. In the middle of the article, they put in parentheses, "The Washington Post is also a client of the Voter News Service."

Q: Do we have any idea how many of these exit polls are actually conducted?

A: No, we don't. One of the points we always make is: Americans are now held hostage by three black boxes when it comes to elections -- the establishment, or the ruling elite, or the powerful coalitions running the media say you can't look into any one of them.

Q: What are the three black boxes holding us hostage?

A: The first one is the public opinion polls, which they push at us incessantly. Nobody knows how these polls are really done, who's called, if they use all the calls that they talk to or if they just take a cross section. Nobody knows a thing about how they are done and nobody ever asks. Where is the scientific paper telling us how they can call 1,200 Americans and reflect within 1.8 or 3 percent what 250 million Americans think? And they are claiming to do this day after day after day.

Even the networks and the pollsters have been commenting profusely on how wildly these polls have swung without anything really serious having happened in the campaign in many cases. So, that's the first black box, the public opinion poll.

Q: Let's say 1,000 people are polled. There are 50 states, so let's say that means 20 per state. But they are going to go heavier in some of the more populous states like California, New York and Texas. So that means there will be less than 20 people polled in places like Montana and Utah and South Dakota. How can they statistically reach that level of presumed accuracy?

A: I've never thought of it from that angle, but that right there makes you think it is almost impossible. And whom are they calling? Are they calling conservatives, liberals, rich people, poor people? Middle class, black, white, Asian, Chicano, Jewish, Irish?

There is a book out endorsed by David Broder of the Washington Post called "Superpollsters: How they measure and manipulate public opinion." This is from a guy who I believe worked for the Harris organization for 20 years by the name of David C. Moore. It's a fairly sympathetic book to the polling industry, but he also criticizes them for what he says is warping the polls by the way they ask the questions, the way they select who is going to respond. He says at the end that we should not let the future of the republic depend on these public opinion polls because they can only more or less gauge public opinion at the time they are taken.

Q: What is the second black box?

A: The exit polls. We have no idea how many exit polls are taken. None of the networks or Voter News Service will say. There are some exit polls, because in the last 20 years, we have caught up with two of them. We filmed one up in New Hampshire during the 1996 primary.

The lady there told us -- as they told us at the other place and we witnessed at both venues -- they start at 10 in the morning. They miss the rush hour. They close down about 5 in the afternoon, and they go in and call in their results. So, they miss both rush hours. They also admit that only about one in 15 people will talk to them during the day. That makes sense because people are busy. They drop the kids off and rush home to get supper.

Q: Or they tell them it's none of their bloody business whom they voted for.

A: Exactly! Especially since there are a lot of people who feel they shouldn't be telling anybody whom they voted for. The key thing is, we don't know how many they do. We know there are very few of them because, whenever I'm on a radio show, I ask people if anybody out there has ever seen an exit poll.

Q: I've been talking about this for over 10 years and I have yet to have anyone say they were exit polled.

A: Not only that, no one seems to know anyone who was exit polled.

Q: There is an easy solution to the potential dangers of vote fraud. There are a whole bunch of countries with huge populations and heavy voter turnouts, much higher than we have, and they don't have this problem. Why don't they have this problem?

A: Because they count the votes by paper ballots, hand counted by people in the precinct. India is one of them. They have over a few hundred million voters, I think, much more than we do. Israel is one of them. Canada -- although Canada does have a major push for computerized elections there now. There's one city, Berry, Ontario, that has adopted it, and there are powerful forces pushing to get them on the computer nationwide. Paper ballots are the solution.

Q: What are you doing with your websites?

A: We've moved our main research onto, -- although a lot of it is still on Network America is being turned into a venue to catalog what is going on in each county, which system is being used in each county and how the battle is going in each county to get honest elections. There are a number of citizen groups in Arizona, North Carolina, Nevada and elsewhere who are really putting up a very intelligent legal fight now to restore honest elections.

Q: Not enough people know how potentially dangerous this problem is. Hopefully, with a close election like this current one, maybe people might pay a little more attention to the danger. The frustration is, it could be so easy and simple if they just went back to paper ballots. What do they lose if they go paper ballots?

A: They probably lose a lot of money. They are paying the computer companies $700,000 a year to come in and run their elections for them. In New Hampshire, when we filmed this thing in 1996, they had election results by 8:40 p.m. So, in certain areas, you would lose a little bit of time. But the people have never demanded instant election results. The networks are now saying they are not going to be able to announce the winners of some races, maybe even the presidency, until the next morning -- which I believe is a contrived event they are cooking up, but that's another story.

Q: What is it you believe should happen at each election?

A: We believe that when the polls close -- you usually have some older citizens, age 65 to 80, who are there running the polls all day -- they should be allowed to go home. There should be a pool of people that should be invited, and it should be by public service announcements. Everybody who is a registered voter could go to your precinct, and if you are chosen out of the hat, you will be paid $75 or a $100 to count the ballots for two or three hours. That would make it attractive to the average housewife, the average working guy.

We don't want the government counting the votes. As Howard Phillips says, part of the reason for elections is to have the chance to throw the incumbents out. So, we want the average citizen in each place counting them. You need about eight people per precinct. There are about 500 registered voters in an average precinct. They would be paid well for those two or three hours. They would not be government employees. Collier even suggested you have college students and high school seniors who are registered to put their names in the hat for one of the positions, so the next generation would see how votes are counted.

They count the paper ballots right there. The paper ballots have been kept in sight all day in a plastic box at each place. It should be mandated by law. They count the votes. They post the results on the precinct. They call them unofficially into the board of elections on a cell phone, and most of the results would be in before 10 or 11 o'clock that night. It would be about the same as it is now.

Q: There is really no mystery to this.

A: Like I said, it is done in Israel, India, Great Britain, New Hampshire. We did it for 180 years. This is not anti-technology. Even the guy who built the first PC, Adam Osborn, who still apparently works at McGraw Hill I'm told, wrote a book in the '70s called "Running Wild," which is still available. In it, he said there are three areas we should never trust totally to computers. One of them is voting. So, even then, he realized the dangers. With paper ballots, you would know you did not have a centrally-rigged election.

Q: The potential for fraud would still exist.

A: Sure, if everybody in a precinct were Democrat or everybody were Republican, or if everybody in a county were crooked and wanted the same results -- you could never stop that. But this would go as far as humanly possible to preventing our elections from being rigged.

Over a million of our ancestors have fought, bled and died to ensure your right -- and your children's right -- to determine our future. It's our nation's future we're talking about, to determine our future through honest and verifiable elections, and that is what we are fighting for.

Q: I've been talking about this for over 10 years. Initially, people look at you like this is so far outside the mainstream it belongs on Art Bell or something. However, it seems as if the issue is now starting to get some traction and momentum. What kind of impact are you making, or are folks just ignoring you in the hope that you will go away?

A: No. I find there is an increasing awareness. I hardly ever get a negative call on talk radio -- and I have done over a 110 shows since 1996 on over 1,000 outlets. Rarely do I ever get hostile calls. We find that the people, when they think about it, would rather have verifiable elections, even if it took a little longer. It's the media that clamored for [computerized elections], pretending the people were clamoring for it in the '70s.

Right now, you have the Washington Post running an apology for Voter News Service, trying to explain what they are, and you have Ted Koppel in '96 after the Arizona primary for the first time addressing what Voter News Service was and explaining that the networks still compete.

Q: How do they compete?

A: They don't. We got this thing on tape, and we showed it at our recent Citizens for a Fair Vote Count convention we had in Cincinnati. Their explanation was ridiculous. They tried to say there was competition. They tried to say once they get the numbers from Voter News Service, they still have to "interpret them" somehow, but they never explained how. We have Dan Guttenkoff in Phoenix, Ariz. -- probably the foremost legal researcher on this subject -- he goes into how the county boards of elections and the secretaries of state are actually breaking the law once citizens ask to see the count. They have an obligation to make that public because the vote count is a public record.

Q: Sunlight is still the best disinfectant. Paper ballots and clear boxes aren't anything innovative or whiz bang. It works in Israel. It works in India. And frankly, they get more people showing up to vote than we do.

A: Exactly. Do you know why? Because I think they sense that their elections mean something. There is a pervading despair in America that we can't make a difference. There is a lot in favor of the incumbents, but I believe the people would begin to elect 10 to 20 percent of the challengers if you had hand-counted elections.

Q: Do you think the people actually had any real hand in establishing the issue, or is the agenda media-driven?

A: I don't believe the young people did anything to make Social Security the main issue. I think the five big TV networks decided that would be the issue and they are limiting national discussion to prescription drugs and Social Security, like in 1996, all you heard about was soccer moms, soccer moms, soccer moms. I think this is a virtual conspiracy of the five networks coordinating their news everyday, putting on the same dang stories from the same angle on the same night. That just can't happen by accident in my opinion.

Q: One thing we will keep a close eye on is what we recently reported about KGTV in San Diego, an ABC affiliate that reported the election results. We have the numbers right here, and we will compare those numbers Wednesday morning to see what the actual final results are. We didn't finish your black box litany.

A: It's hard to find anybody who has ever seen an exit poll. Public opinion polls -- we don't know how they do them. Then your third black box is the computer count on election night. We're taking that as a total act of faith in 49 states. We had previously talked about ABC News and how somebody had thrown up the real results 12 hours before the 1998 midterm election and how accurate they were. They were 87.1 percent accurate. They predicted the Senate would stay the same, 55 Republicans to 45 Democrats, which was better than any other pundit did. I don't think any other pundit or any other source did that.

All these things raise the issue when these "test" results hit the Internet early -- as happened in California the other day and as happened in Pennsylvania in another county recently -- of whether the public opinion polls and the exit polls aren't just preparing the public mind for a predetermined computer result.