A Censored Headline and Why It Matters

German High Court Outlaws Electronic Voting

Justices of the German Federal Constitutional Court.  Image

Michael Collins

(DailyCensored.Com)  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 United States.

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 statement:

Citizens have the right to view and obtain information about how election officials count votes – 92% agreeNew 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 produce 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 here bit.

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 Bev Harris

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)

This article may be reproduced in whole or in part with attribution of authorship and a link to this article.

9 responses to “A Censored Headline and Why It Matters

  1. Fantastic coverage and important matter, Michael.

    Thank you for exemplifying the fourth estate, and clanging the alarms.

  2. The ESS acquisition prompted it and I should have mentioned it;) but alas. The human element of this story is amazing when you think of it. Father and son liberate the spirit of democracy. That couldn’t have been an easy legal effort but they pulled off. I love their pic together. The son knows what he did … its a peak moment!

  3. William J. Kelleher, Ph.D.

    Telling the Truth, and Why it Matters

    Mr. Collins has written a huge distortion of the German Supreme Court’s opinion in this case. [ad hominem portion deleted by the editors] the court upheld the challenged paperless electronic election, and denied the plaintiff’s request for a scrutiny of the election.

    Mr. Collins is bewildered by the lack of coverage in the US press of the opinion, as he portrays it. [ad hominem portion deleted by the editors]

    Op Ed has an accurate summary of the opinion, at:

    Truth matters because you can’t have Justice without it.

    William J. Kelleher, Ph.D.

    • well, I knew that OpEdNews was shilling for corporations now, but to stoop so low as to print THE EXACT OPPOSITE of the truth confounds me!

      The Times of India (Associated Press) March 3, 2009
      German court rules against voting machines:

      Germany’s highest court ruled Tuesday that the use of voting machines in the country’s last election was unconstitutional, a verdict that likely will mean no machines will be used when Germans vote this September.

      “The Federal Constitutional Court upheld two complaints about the use of the machines in 2005. It found they violated provisions requiring that voters be able to assure themselves – without specific technical knowledge – that their vote was recorded correctly.

      “However, it upheld the result of the 2005 election, saying there was no evidence that the machines malfunctioned or were manipulated….

      “Judge Andreas Vosskuhle stressed that the court was not banning machines for good, but said the machines used so far did not meet its standards.”

      So, whatever technobabble spin you’ve put on this decision, WJK, clearly, it just ain’t the truth.

      But thanks for the heads up that OEN is featuring the work of people who want internet voting! Any website with integrity would delete your article and issue a public retraction and apology.

      • Readers can decide very simply what the meaning of the court decision is by reading the summary here: http://tinyurl.com/d7xlu2 and the full decision here http://tinyurl.com/yknzjep . The summary is better since it was issued from the court and is more concise.

        Lets see what a lawyer said about the case, a lawyer who has actually tried elections and voting rights cases and written extensively, Paul Lehto.

        Germany Bans Computerized Voting By Paul Lehto

        “Computerized voting machines used by 2 million of Germany’s 5 million voters in 2005 are unconstitutional and not in line with democratic standards, especially the publicity of the counting (i.e. transparency, visibility). Thus, the 2009 elections – European Parliament in June and the Bundestag (German parliament) elections in September may not use existing voting machines and will be on paper and hand counted. “

    • You’re following me around the internet responding to this article with the exact same comments. . I should be flattered but your absolutism and condescension, not to mention the unwelcome familiarity, create a strange ambiance.

      The notion that the “story” here is about the endorsement of a “paperless” election is simply non sense. Those are endorsed all the time in Germany and elsewhere. The 2005 Bundestag was nearly four years old on March 3, 2009. The expectation that it would be dissolved was not one that anyone involved expected to see materialize. If you would listen to the interview of Dr. Wiesner linked in the article, you would know that. As indicated elsewhere, you have not bothered. Nevertheless, you persist.

      The German court decision prohibited the future use of past e-voting systems and caused a sufficient stir to stop new trials of optical scans. This court set the bar for “democratic” elections and citizen rights a t a level that a free people demand — accessible voting systems, rather than obscure technical mazes plus the ability to witness the voting process, rather than techno-magic shows run by third rate, privately held technology firms.

      Public trust in elections systems has plummeted. It’s so low in controversial elections, it creates a question of the legitimacy concerning those who prevail. When 53% of the people lacked real confidence in the 2004 election (as measured in 2006), the thud of the machines hitting the bottom of the harbour was undeniable.

      Now, a vehicle that is noted for spamming, junk mail, pornography, and assorted scams is promoted by you as a means of conducting elections. Good luck with that one.

      • William J. Kelleher, Ph.D.

        Hey Good Buddy!

        A wise Truth Teller once wrote:
        “In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.”

        You’re taking this thing entirely too personally. I’m not following “you” around the Internet. In a time of universal deceit, I’m trying to give your readers some truth. My focus is on them, not you.

        I believe in free speech. Some web site editors would delete articles they don’t like, and apologize for printing them. But I’m posting my comments on your article because I believe that most editors would allow conflicting stories to stand. Let the readers investigate for themselves which side is telling it like it is, and which side is spreading misinformation.

        [ad hominem portion deleted by the editors. Last warning.]

        RE your last statement, are you saying that you would never stoop so low as to use “a vehicle that is noted for spamming, junk mail, pornography, and assorted scams” as a means of communication?


  4. oh, and here’s another MSM article… this one from Newsweek, WJK – It looks like the legal departments at Associated Press and Newsweek drew the same conclusion Collins drew, which is the opposite of your erroneous conclusion!

    Here’s the Newsweek statement:

    “After almost two years of deliberations, Germany’s Supreme Court ruled in March that e-voting was unconstitutional because the average citizen could not be expected to understand the exact steps involved in the recording and tallying of votes. ”

    but, hey, WJK, maybe your spin will confuse OEN readers just enough, eh? Isn’t that the point of deception, after all?

    Shame on you.

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