A Censored Headline and why it Matters
German High Court Outlaws Electronic Voting
Justices of the German Federal Constitutional Court. Image
The justices above are clearly the most rational group of high level
functionaries in the industrialized world. They did what no other
court would do in Europe or the United States. They effectively
outlawed electronic voting. On March 3, 2009, the German Federal Constitutional Court
declared that the electronic voting machines used in the 2005 Bundestag
elections for the German national parliament were outside of the bounds
of the German Constitution.
They reasoned that electronic voting is not verifiable because
citizen votes are counted in secret. It obscured a technology
inaccessible to all but a very few initiates. Most importantly, the
German high court noted, electronic voting machines don't allow
citizens to "reliably examine, when the vote is cast, whether the vote
has been recorded in an unadulterated manner" Mar. 3, 2009.
The written opinion effectively bars electronic voting in future
elections based on the complexity of voting machines and the inability
of voters to watch their vote being counted. This raises the bar of
acceptability well above the meaningless solutions offered by "paper
trails" for touch screen voting or the so-called "paper ballots" for
computerized optical scan voting machines, the most popular form of
voting in the United States.
Germany's 2009 Bundestag elections were conducted with hand counted paper ballots.
Have you heard that one of the world's leading economic powers, the
fourth largest economy in the world, banned electronic voting; said it
was undemocratic? Given the multitude of problems encountered
in the U.S. and the number of questionable election results, wouldn't
it make sense that when Germany banned electronic voting and replaced
it with paper ballots, there would be at least a days worth of national
coverage in the United States?
Nothing like that occurred. The Associated Press
(Times of India) story on the verdict danced around the periphery of
the world media market with coverage in Turkey, India, Australia, and
Ireland. But there were no major media takers for the AP story in the
There was every reason to carry the story. In a 2006 Zogby poll,
92% of the 1028 registered voters surveyed said they agreed with this
Citizens have the right to view and obtain information about how election officials count votes - 92% agree. New Zogby Poll On Electronic Voting Attitudes Aug. 21, 2006
That's exactly the proposition that the German court upheld. Surely
there was an audience for the German decision but there was hardly a
word from corporate media.
Why did this happen?
There are certain vital stories that the U.S. corporate media won't touch. The most prominent censored headline is "Over One Million Iraqi Civilians Dead in Conflict." This figure has been known since 2007 while a previous survey showing 650,000 dead
was spiked in 2006. The Iraqi civilians died as a result of internal
conflict unleashed by the U.S. invasion in 2003. Had Bush-Cheney not
invaded with the approval of a sleep walking Congress, these people would not have died as they did.
Another vital story that isn't covered is election fraud, fixing an entire election.
The corporate media simply can't raise the possibility that election
fraud exists. The preliminary steps enabling election fraud through
computerized voting are outsourcing elections to private vendors; the lack of any verifiable connection between your vote and the voting machines processes; and, security risks.
However, corporate media are more than happy to cover the nearly nonexistent "voter fraud" stories about masses of illegal voters showing up at the polls. The Bush administration was only able to produced 24 convictions of citizens and non citizens combined over a three year period.
The media will discuss electronic voting malfunctions but they
simply won't connect the dots. Computers function as programmed, by
definition. "Malfunctions" during vote counting are part of any given
program. When the errors benefit one side of the political equation,
it is highly relevant to raise questions about intentional "errors."
However, the treatment of these stories is always within the context
of computer problems instead of a broad inquiry into why elections are
outsourced to private vendors and the resulting risks and problems
and. U.S. elections will be virtually dominated by one private firm
out of Omaha, Nebraska, ES&S.
German Citizens Prevail
A recent article by elections activist Kathleen Wynne, former
Associate Director of BlackBoxVoting.org, told the story of the story
of the landmark German case with a link to an extensive radio interview
with litigant Dr. Ulrich Wiesner (Electronic Voting Declared Unconstitutional in Germany).
Physicist Ulrich Wiesner, PhD and Prof. Joachim Wiesner, PhD, an eminent German political scientist, brought suit
against the use of electronic voting machines in the 2005 Bundestag
elections. The evidence gathered supported the findings of the court
described above. While both Wiesner's on the suit have PhD's and
distinguished careers, they brought the landmark case on their own as
citizens. Undeterred by the odds and the dismissal of German
politicians, they stood by their cause and won.
It's a great story, father and son team prevail against huge odds to
ensure that all Germans get their vote counted. But none of the majors
These articles constitute most of the serious coverage of this story
in the United States. Paul Lehto wrote two articles for OpEdNews.com
on March 3 and 19, 2009: Germany Bans Computerized Voting, Will Hand Count in 2009 and German high court honors US democratic principles. Activist Bev Harris wrote a commentary on 3-19-09: Let's get off the hamster wh..., BlackBoxVoting.org. Newsweek ran an insightful column in its education section on June, 2009, We do not trust machines.
While AP ran the story, it wasn't picked up and featured by any major
media outlet in the United States. The International Herald Tribune
also covered the decision but its sister paper, The New York Times,
dropped the ball.
The Wynne article told the story of the citizens who made the decision happen, the Wiesner father and son team. Deadline Live with Jack Blood,
the radio show, carried a comprehensive interview of German litigant,
Dr. Ulrich Wiesner and follow up discussions with Kathleen Wynne and
But that's it. The highest court in the nation with the world's
fourth largest economy makes law that bans electronic voting after
determining that computerized elections are fundamentally opposed to
democratic principles. The decision applies directly to the electronic
voting systems used in the United States. What do we hear from the
U.S. corporate media? Just about nothing.
In this case, when a tree falls in the forest and just a few people hear it, it's no big deal. But it should be.
For more information on hand counted paper ballots and evidence for this case, see:
Center for Hand-Counted Paper Ballots
Hacking the Electoral Law, Ulrich Wiesner, PhD, 23rd Chaos Communications Conference (PDF)
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