Brad Friedman: Why To Be Suspicious Of Every Election

Elections should never be trusted, nor should they be believed. They should be secure and verifiable.

Long an ‘exporter of democracy’ to the rest of the world, there is ample evidence that the United States lacks even the most rudimentary, basic protections necessary to preserve voting integrity within its own borders.

Some of the evidence is circumstantial, some is statistical, and some is pretty direct and clear-cut. Taken together, a pattern emerges strongly suggesting that ever since voting machines, and especially electronic voting tabulators were introduced in the United States, we’ve had a string of suspect election results that frankly are not consistent with a free and fair voting outcome.

This week, we're joined by Brad Friedman, election integrity analyst to understand better the systems and practices currently in place to collect and tally votes in America. As we gear up to elect our next president, it's clear that numerous concerns exist about the state of 'free and fair' voting in our country:
Trust is different than 'verifiable'. Trust, frankly, has no place in elections. There is no reason to ever trust anybody. We need to be able to verify all of this.

There are basically two different types of electronic voting systems that are currently used today.

One is the touchscreen system that people know about. They’ve seen those votes flipping and so forth. Those machines are, in fact, 100 percent unverifiable – period. I’ve asked the companies that make the systems many times, if they have any evidence whatsoever that any vote ever cast on one of those machines during an election, for any candidate or initiative on the ballot, if any of those votes have ever been recorded as per the voter’s intent, any evidence whatsoever. They have none – they are 100 percent unverifiable. Thankfully, many states are getting rid of those and they’re moving to paper ballots.

The problem, however, with hand marked paper ballots is that most of them are run through optical scan computers to be scanned. The problem is, they often don’t work. You can’t tell whether they have worked properly, whether they have accurately recorded the vote, unless you actually hand count the paper ballots – begging the question of why the hell are we using these optical scan systems in the first place. So when you have a paper ballot, at least it is verifiable if anybody bothers to do a hand count. But we don’t bother to do so in this country; almost never. When problems are found, often they are completely ignored.

So that’s why I’ve argued for years now that the most transparent and reliable way to run an election is to hand count the paper ballots at the precinct on election night publicly in front of everyone with the results posted at the precinct before those ballots are moved anywhere.

Short of that, it really is faith-based elections. We’re trusting that they’re recorded accurately, even though we’ve got so much evidence that they often are not. I think it’s a crazy way to run a democracy if you ask me(…)

There is every reason to be suspicious of every election. There’s a lot of money at stake, a lot of money, a lot of power at stake in these elections and so people should be suspicious about them.

No matter what you do, people will try to game elections. There’s just too much at stake for people to not want to try to do that. That’s why you need a system that is as transparent as possible because people are going to try to game it. The trick is you have as many eyeballs looking as possible to make it as difficult as possible to game the election. That’s the trick; and when you begin to use security by obscurity and hide the way that votes are actually counted and the way that votes are actually cast and the systems that are used to tally them, we have no idea in the end.

I think that’s just absolutely crazy. Every time I come out and make that argument, it depends what election has just happened, but I’m then branded either a Democratic partisan, a Republican partisan, a Bernie supporter, a Hillary supporter – whatever it is. People don’t like to hear these facts. So I’ve had to go to bat for a lot of candidates who I would have never ever even considered voting for. But I think that their supporters have the right to know whether they won or lost, and have the right to know that the election was tabulated accurately. That’s what we no longer have in this country and it’s ridiculous.

Click the play button below to listen to Chris’ interview with Brad Friedman (53m:45s)

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at

Here's one approach. Most states have these available now.
Withdraw all consent.

If you didn’t vote, you can’t complain. So your answer won’t work.
if you voted and lost, you can’t complain. You had your chance, and failed. You’re a failure.
If you voted and won and YOUR candidate does the opposite of what he said or what you expected, you can’t complain.
I have a problem here. I think the name of the problem is Republic. I think the name of the problem is corruption. I think the name of the problem is…

Not saying complain. Think TPTB care one iota about anyone’s complaining?
Withdraw. Walk away. Remove your physical, mental and spiritual energy and dependance on the system. In ways small and big, any way you can, each and every day, lawfully. Withdraw your consent. Don’t pine, don’t talk. Do.
Remember the phrase “Derive their just powers from the consent of the governed”.

What a great interview.  So many things I didn't know.
Voting is an interesting problem - a lot more interesting than I realized.   Its not just about counting - its also about how to keep the process of counting transparent, with individual ballots still being secret, and at the same time making vote-selling impossible.

His solution ends up being very low tech.  That's because it has to be, to allow ordinary people to be able to verify the process.

This is a problem that absolutely does not benefit from automation.

Given the systems now in place, and the stakes involved, I'm convinced that some number of our elections are rigged at this point.  Its just too easy to do.  I have a sense of the NSA's capability - they could do it without much difficulty.  Given that, and the Deep State's interest in affecting domestic outcomes, anything close will end up going the way they want.  "In the name of national security and keeping America safe."



Little Rhode Island has used a combination voting system for a number of years (I know it existed prior to Bush v. Gore)  Each voter gets a paper ballot and must use a marker to make their choices.  The paper is put, by the voter, into a scanner which instantly reads the ballot.  If someone has marked two candidates for the same office, or has put random marks on the ballot, it is rejected, and poll workers will give the voter another one to do over. (Thus no hanging chads or other questionable ballots.)  The system allows the voter to write in a candidate and lets you not vote for an office if you do not want any of the candidates.
The results are calculated by each scanner and printed out in each polling place at the end of the evening. (Write ins will only be calculated later when the ballots are reviewed.) I believe that in recent years the scanners may also download results directly to the Secretary of State so that there is an electronic total just minutes after polls close. Members of both major parties are present in each polling station to review the printout and to seal boxes which will keep the paper ballots if there is need for a recount.

There have been relatively few issues here in recent years and even very close elections have been resolved to most folks satisfaction by doing a recount of the paper ballots.

I was encouraged to hear this presentation as it confirmed a suspicion of mine that the purely computerized systems are ripe for fraud.

A word on voter id.  I have been generally in favor of the idea and have had little sympathy for folks who claimed they had no identification to meet the requirements.  My thought process being that if you cannot figure out how to get an id maybe the republic would be better off without you being part of the process.

The first time I voted under Rhode Island's voter id law I was almost not allowed to vote.  My legal name has Jr. at the end.  When I was getting my driver's license years ago the clerk at the DMV did not require that I use Jr. (At 16 I didn't want to be a Jr.).  My license has never had jr. after my name.  Becoming an attorney, I was required to use my full name.  Purchasing a property with a bank loan required use of my full name.  My voter id matched my full name as I used the property deed to show proof of residence. Even though a couple of the poll workers knew me, they were so concerned about following the law they almost didn't accept my license as valid id. Since that time I have brought my passport and license each time I go to vote and I have  much more sympathy for the people who say the id laws are disenfranchising otherwise eligible voters.


PS.Memorial Day thoughts for all who have given their lives in service of country.  My deepest respect for them and their families.



The optical scanners are also ripe for fraud with the only thing standing between a fair and a rigged election is a hand count of the ballots by both sides to confirm what the optical scanner has produced.

I'm glad to hear there have been recounts in your precinct and that the recount and the scanner matched up well.

For a demonstration of just how rigged the optical scanner might be, there's this:


I'm happy to report that canada still uses paper ballots with hand counting I believe. Wonder how that will last. Haven't listened to the interview because the transcript isn't up yet but my suggestion for voting in the us would be for everyone to show up to the polls but no one cast a single vote, instead put that effort into protesting outside with signs. 

Both the 2000 and 2004 presidential election were hacked in Ohio in exactly the same way.  There was a lawsuit about it which I think was buried.  You can read about it at

It involved setting up a shadow server system across the border in Tennessee which was swapped with the Ohio state election server after the polls closed.  Recall that in both years the exit poll data did not match the official results.  In 2000 everyone was focused on Florida and the Ohio irregularities were off the radar.

There's also an excellent treatment of the whole affair in "Family Of Secrets" by Russ Baker.

There's a good article on voter manipulation and fraud at


Voting is the second most useless thing you can do. Not voting is the most useless. I understand your approach, but it won't be considered as you suggest. They don't care enough to analyze the real reasons for low voter turnout when a simple phrase like " voter apathy" suffices. All non-voters will be glommed into the same bucket.

I find that the more local an issue or candidate is, the more impact my vote has. National elections are governed by the antiquated electoral college. If your State is predominantly blue/red, you are taken for granted. It is only in the "Battle ground" States that it really matters. I remember reading that the 2012 presidential election boiled down to 44 counties. The candidates all have their highly paid political strategists who figure how to game these results. Whatever strategy works is a winning strategy - especially if nobody catches them at it.

Does it really matter who wins? Will any candidate's rhetoric actually see the light of day after the oath has been taken? That person may make an attempt to bring the promises to light, but the political cost won't be worth it. As a result, nobody will be as bad as you fear nor as good as you hope.

Look at the real issues that need to be addressed - we discuss these in just about every thread on PP. The reason those issues haven't been addressed is that there isn't any practical solution available. As long as the bus isn't careening over the edge of the cliff, there is still time to kick the can.

I will vote in November. I can either vote against someone or I can vote for someone. Electorally, my vote doesn't really matter, so I'll likely pick one of the fringe candidates that aligns closest to my views. Am I just throwing away my vote? With all the obstacles to a fair result, who isn't throwing their vote away?


 "We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion . . . Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other." John Adams

Voting machines equals fraud in counting; its inevitable.  As soon as I saw this article I thought of this. (Which confirms exactly what Brad is saying)

Computerphile people know their computing machines, they know the games that they are being asked to play in our behalf.  If the computer 'maker' says his computer is going to miscount your election, and says not to use his counting machines, you should not use his counting machines.

Well, the statements above only apply if you would like the count to be accurate.  If you don't want vote counting accuracy, then it is great to have electronic counting machines.  I guess it is just a matter of perspective.   


Small airplanes are incredibly dangerous, especially in the weeks prior to testifying in a voting fraud investigation.

Michael Connell, the Bush family and Karl Rove’s IT guru, was heading home from Washington D.C. to attend his company’s Christmas party on Friday, December 19th in 2008. An accomplished pilot, he was flying from the College Park, Maryland airport to the Akron-Canton airport in Ohio under unremarkable weather conditions. Yet his Piper Saratoga plane suddenly dove to the ground between two houses in an upscale neighborhood, when he was just 2.5 miles from the airport. The site was roped off, cleaned up within two hours at night against protocol, and the next day his wife found his omniscient Blackberry missing from his still intact knapsack.
From The Ghost of Rigged Elections Past
The Free Press has uncovered crucial documents that shed light on Connell’s mysterious death as the fifth anniversary of his tragic accident approaches. The document reveals that then-Ohio Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell had signed a legal Statement of Work (SOW) contract with Connell for IT work on the infamous Election Night 2004.... Connell and Blackwell agreed fourteen months prior to the 2004 election that that Connell would have “remote monitoring capabilities” to the computer counting Ohio’s presidential vote. That means Blackwell planned more than a year in advance for Connell’s private partisan external third party company and a subcontractor to have unfettered secret access to Ohio’s 2004 vote tally. The newly discovered contract contains an “Exhibit B” which called for a “mirror” website to handle Ohio’s 2004 actual vote count on Election Night provided by Connell’s company, GovTech... to provide a failover solution in the event of failure of the primary installation on Election Day.” Ohio’s 2004 votes were outsourced to Smartech in Chattanooga, Tennessee, owned by right-wing evangelical publisher Jeff Averbeck, subcontracted by Connell. The vote count inexplicably flipped at 12:21am changing from Kerry winning by over 3 percentage points to Bush winning by over 3 percentage points. Overall, there was an unexplainable rapid 6.7% shift in the vote count.
However, the architecture map of the computer linkage (here and here) shows that Connell's computer was not in a failover arrangement (an emergency back up), but a man-in-the-middle.  The man-in-the-middle is a fraud scam where a middle computer is surreptitiously placed between two other computers where it can secretly read and write into the data stream.
Expert witness Stephen Spoonamore, renowned bank and computer fraud expert and GOP member, concluded from the architectural maps of the Ohio 2004 election reporting system that: “Smartech was a man in the middle. In my opinion they were not designed as a mirror, they were designed specifically to be a man in the middle.” A “man in the middle” is a deliberate computer hacking setup, which allows a third party to sit in between computer transmissions and illegally alter the data. A mirror site, by contrast, is designed as a backup site in case the main computer configuration fails. In a sworn affidavit to the court, Spoonamore declared: “The Smartech system was set up precisely as a King Pin computer used in criminal acts against banking or credit card processes and had the needed level of access to both county tabulators and Secretary of State computers to allow whoever was running Smartech computers to decide the output of the county tabulators under its control.
Connell's death came at a moment where election protection attorneys and others appeared to be closing in on critical irregularities and illegalities.

It is very important to remember not to fly in small airplanes while waiting to testify against the elite.

Sand_Puppy wrote:  "It is very important to remember not to fly in small airplanes while waiting to testify against the elite."
And as Michael Hastings could tell you, when you are all done, you'd best stay away from automobiles, too. 

Come to think of it, bicycles are extremely hazardous too. And so are food processors and toilets.


Clearly a case of pilot error.  Which is to say, its an error to be called as a witness in a case that could get a whole lot of people in trouble that are way above your pay grade.
CAF likes to say how "they" (presumably Mr Global and his friends) can kill with impunity.  Another case in point here, I guess.

In my dreams, there will be a massive disclosure of all this stuff, and we'll get to see (like the citizens of East Germany, when the files of the Stazi were thrown open to public inspection) exactly who is doing what.

In the meantime, private planes are probably not a great idea.  Or modern cars that can be bluejacked.  And if you just hide in your home, you might become depressed and commit suicide.

I do get the sense that it isn't particularly safe to be a player in this game.  Working for Mr Global may have its rewards, but as soon as you become a liability, you are removed from the board.

A quote from the Tao of Pooh:

While sitting on the banks of the P’u River, Chuang-tse was approached by two representatives of the Prince of Ch’u, who offered him a position at court.  Chuang-tse watched the water flowing by as if he had not heard.  Finally, he remarked, ‘I am told that the Prince has a sacred tortoise, over two thousand years old, which is kept in a box, wrapped in silk and brocade.’ ‘That is true,’ the officials replied.  ‘If the tortoise had been given a choice,’ Chuang-tse continued, “which do you think he would have liked better--to have been alive in the mud or dead within the palace?’  ‘To have been alive in the mud, of course,’ the men answered.  ‘I too prefer the mud, said Chuang-tse. ‘Goodbye.’”
Like Chuang-tse, I prefer my life in the (figurative) mud.

grover, i agree with t2h completely.
i will not vote, i categorically refuse to vote, voting is immoral.

no human being or group of human beings has the right to impose their will on others through threat of violence.

and that's what government is, it's a monopoly on violence within a specific geographical area. don't like what the country is doing? well, you better do your part to support it, otherwise men with badges and guns are going to come and straighten you out, citizen!

when you vote for someone, you give approval and consent, that the person you're voting for, should impose the ideas that you believe in, using threat of violence or actual violence if necessary, to push your chosen agenda. and that's just wrong.

you're correct that you stand more of a chance to make an impact on a local level. however, that impact can and should be based on voluntary cooperation between autonomous human beings that respect each other, not based on the tyranny of the majority (or minority plus media control, campaign contributions, electoral fraud, or whatever the case may be) imposing their will on those who disagree or simply those that just want to be left alone.

we can cooperate, we can organize, we can deal with issues that come up, without involving government (force) in the situation.

government is barbarism, and it is my belief and hope that we will evolve beyond it, that it will be relegated to the dustbin of history much like slavery has been (for the most part).


When the governmental process is prone to being rigged (as it is) regardless of the source government…
… when agricultural-warlike government is the most effective at overthrowing all other governments and itself too,
… when democratic principles are a fraud the world over;
… when Republican representation is a fraud the world over…
… when the only way to conquer such a government is to take it on voluntarily, and then battle it to the death so that one or both die and the surviving government is worse than either antecedent governments…
… then you cannot say that people get the government they deserve, except that you also judge that the living deserve death for the offense of living.
I am not a demon; I do not judge that the living deserve death for the offense of living.
Therefore I say we do NOT get the government we deserve. I say rather that the spirits of this government we have deserve death for taking offense at life.

Reflector, I completely agree about voting withdrawal, and I believe it's everyone's right to exercise their thoughtful, considered right NOT to vote. In Australia citizens are legally required to vote in state and federal elections. Imagine the soul-destroying prospect of having to choose (on a 2-party preferred basis anyway) between two lunatics: Kevin Rudd or Tony Abbott. Imagine that that's it - that's your very limited choice. Do you choose the banana or the monkey? I believe US is going through the same sort of replay with Trump & Clinton. You poor buggers.

My take on the right to abstain is very closely aligned with the views of the legendary, gone-way-too-soon George Carlin. Out of respect to those with sensitive ears I haven't posted a link to the video below, but "George Carlin doesn't vote" is available on a YouTube search. In it he justifies his abstinence on the basis of 2 things:

  1. voting is meaningless - America was "bought & sold & paid for a long time ago". Many have opined the same thing (G. Edward Griffin and the like);

  2. if you vote you have no right to complain (an idea opposite to the oft-touted view). If you vote incompetent, immoral, corrupt people into power then it's the non-voters who have the right to complain. Not an entirely unreasonable position, albeit passive.


You raised the theme of local governance. I believe that'll only ever be effective with a financial impact as well. There has to be an active collective will of the populace to break the financial might of huge corporations - perhaps through the emergence of strong local non-monetary economies & a boycotting of corporate products on a massive scale. To change that will you need education on a large scale. Then awareness. Then momentum. Without doubt it'll be a long road.


There are so many examples of election rigging that should, in a society that values integrity and understand basic math, have triggered immediate and powerful criminal investigations.
But virtually none ever have.

And the cases are really extreme and utterly, completely, friggen obvious.


Symbolically speaking, this era was inaugurated by Chuck Hagel, an unknown millionaire who ran for one of Nebraska’s U.S. Senate seats in 1996. Initially Hagel trailed the popular Democratic governor, Ben Nelson, who had been elected in a landslide two years earlier.

Three days before the election, however, a poll conducted by the Omaha World-Herald showed a dead heat, with 47 percent of respondents favoring each candidate. David Moore, who was then managing editor of the Gallup Poll, told the paper, “We can’t predict the outcome.”

Hagel’s victory in the general election, invariably referred to as an “upset,” handed the seat to the GOP for the first time in eighteen years. Hagel trounced Nelson by fifteen points. Even for those who had factored in the governor’s deteriorating numbers and a last-minute barrage of negative ads, this divergence from pre-election polling was enough to raise eyebrows across the nation.

Few Americans knew that until shortly before the election, Hagel had been chairman of the company whose computerized voting machines would soon count his own votes: Election Systems & Software (then called American Information Systems).

Hagel stepped down from his post just two weeks before announcing his candidacy. Yet he retained millions of dollars in stock in the McCarthy Group, which owned ES&S. And Michael McCarthy, the parent company’s founder, was Hagel’s campaign treasurer.

Whether Hagel’s relationship to ES&S ensured his victory is open to speculation. But the surprising scale of his win awakened a new fear among voting-rights activists and raised a disturbing question: Who controls the new technology of Election Night?

“Why would someone who owns a voting-machine company want to run for office?” asked Charlie Matulka, a Democrat who contested Hagel’s Senate seat in 2002. Speaking at a press conference shortly before the election, he added: “Is this the fox guarding the henhouse?”

A construction worker with limited funding and name recognition, Matulka was obviously a less formidable competitor than Nelson. Still, Hagel won an astonishing 83 percent of the vote—among the largest margins of victory in any statewide race in Nebraska’s history. And with nearly 400,000 registered Democrats on the rolls, Matulka managed to scrape up only 70,290 votes.

Hagel had never actually disclosed his financial ties to ES&S, and Matulka requested an investigation by the Senate Ethics Committee. His request was rejected. Equally futile was his call for a hand count of the ballots, since a state law specified that recounts had to be conducted using the very same “vote-counting device” that was used to begin with—in this case, the ES&S optical scanners.

Hmmmm...a former executive of the voting machine company wins in a landslide?  And the results cannot be hand counted - by law?

And those same voting machines and their software have been proven over and over again to be utterly insecure and wide open to corruption?

The wonder of it all is not that election rigging has happened, but that it generates a zero response from the mainstream press or the SEC or the FBI or the state's own criminal justice apparatus.

None.  Nada.  Nothing.  Chirping crickets.