- The subject line on Tuesday's email read: "Another
mysterious accident solves a Bush problem. Athan Gibbs dead, Diebold lives."
The attached news story briefly described the untimely Friday, March 12,
death of perhaps America's most influential advocate of a verified voting
paper trail in the era of touch screen computer voting.
- Gibbs, an accountant for more than 30 years and the inventor
of the TruVote system, died when his vehicle collided with an 18-wheeled
truck which rolled his Chevy Blazer several times and forced it over the
highway retaining wall where it came to rest on its roof.
- Coincidence theorists will simply dismiss the death of
Gibbs as a tragic accident.
- Gibbs' death bears heightened scrutiny because of the
way he lived his life after the 2000 Florida election debacle. I interviewed
Athan Gibbs in January of this year. "I've been an accountant, an
auditor, for more than 30 years. Electronic voting machines that don't
supply a paper trail go against every principle of accounting and auditing
that's being taught in American business schools," he insisted.
- "These machines are set up to provide paper trails.
No business in America would buy a machine that didn't provide a paper
trail to audit and verify its transaction. Now, they want the people to
purchase machines that you can't audit? It's absurd."
- Gibbs was in Columbus, Ohio, proudly displaying his TruVote
machine that offered a "VVPAT, that's a voter verified paper audit
trail" he noted.
- Gibbs also suggested that I look into the "people
behind the other machines." He offered that "Diebold and ES&S
are real interesting and all Republicans. If you're an investigative reporter
go ahead and investigate. You'll find some interesting material."
- Gibbs' TruVote machine is a marvel. After voters touch
the screen, a paper ballot prints out under plexiglass and once the voter
compares it to his actual vote and approves it, the ballot drops into a
lockbox and is issued a numbered receipt. The voter's receipt allows the
tracking of his particular vote to make sure that it was transferred from
the polling place to the election tabulation center.
- My encounter with Gibbs led to a cover story in the Columbus
Free Press March-April issue, entitled, "Diebold, electronic voting
and the vast right-wing conspiracy." The thesis I advanced in the
Free Press article is that some of the same right-wing individuals who
backed the CIA's covert actions and overthrowing of democratic elections
in the Third World in the 1980s are now involved in privatized touch screen
voting. Additionally I co-wrote an article with Harvey Wasserman that was
posted at MotherJones.com on March 5. Both articles outlined ties between
far right elements of the Republican Party and Diebold and ES&S, which
count the majority of the nation's electronic votes.
- As I wrote in the Free Press article, "Proponents
of a paper trail were emboldened when Athan Gibbs, president and CEO of
TruVote International, demonstrated a voting machine at a vendor's fair
in Columbus that provides two separate voting receipts."
- In an interview on WVKO radio, Gibbs calmly and methodically
explained the dangers of "black box" touch screen voting. "It
absolutely makes no sense to buy electronic voting machines that can't
produce a paper trail. Inevitably, computers mess up. How are you going
to have a recount, or correct malfunctions without a paper trail?"
- Now, the man asking the obvious question, and demonstrating
an obvious tangible solution is dead in another tragic accident, a week
after both articles were in circulation.
- When I called TruVote International to verify Gibbs'
death, I reached Chief Financial Officer Adrenne Brandon who assured me
"We're going on in his memory. Weíre going to make this happen."
- Every American concerned with democracy should pledge
to make this happen. To beat back the rush for state governments to purchase
privatized, partisan and unreliable electronic voting machines without
verified paper trails.
- Gibbs' last words to me were "How do you explain
what happened to Senator Max Cleland in Georgia. How do you explain that?
The Maryland study and the Johns Hopkins scientists have warned us against
'blind faith voting.' These systems can be hacked into. They found patches
in Georgia and the people servicing the machine had entered the machines
during the voting process. How can we the people accept this? No more blind
- - Dr. Bob Fitrakis also is a political science professor,
and author of numerous articles and books.
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