Experts Warn of Tech Trends, Vote Frauds

Markets work in mysterious ways to improve the ways we live and work. Dr. Thomas W. Hazlett, the nation's foremost scholar on spectrum and related communications markets, provided his take on latest trends Aug. 9 on MTL Washington Update, the weekly public affairs radio show I co-host with Scott Draughon.

Dr. Thomas W. Hazlett

Hazlett, left, is a blunt-speaking professor of law & economics at George Mason University School of Law. He described his research at noon (EDT) on the show, available live nationwide, and now by archive. Click here to listen.

Greg PalastSeparately, our second guest was investigative reporter Greg Palast, at right, who discussed his new book about how voters can narrow the odds of vote fraud. Palast this week published 7 Ways to Beat the Ballot Bandits, an excerpt from his latest book, Billionaires & Ballot Bandits: How to Steal an Election in 9 Easy Steps. The article provides guidance for reducing the odds of what he regards as extreme vulnerability of voters to electronic fraud.

This includes, he says, the preregistration process whereby election officials play the odds of disenfranchising large numbers of voters based on demographics or geography on the odds the voters will support opposition candidates.

For years, Hazlett was one of the most provocative and well-received speakers at the semi-annual conventions I used to organize as CEO of the the Wireless Communications Association. He stood out from speaker faculties typically numbering more than 100 other speakers with his insights about trends, opportunities and irregularities -- all conveyed in an entertaining style.  I continue the relationship as a fellow at the George Mason's Information Economy Project, which he founded and directs.

We discussed, for example, one of Hazlett's most recent columns: "The iPhone Turns Five," published by the Wall Street Journal Online June 26. In it, he argues: " Forget the shouting about 'open' or 'closed' systems. The magic is in the dynamics of platform competition. This illustrates one of his longstanding themes as one the nation's most influential and widely published scholars on how markets best function in the high-tech communications sector."

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Hazlett was the first chief economist at the Federal Communications Commission (1991-92), is a highly prolific author for both scholarly and popular publications. He is a columnist for the New Technology Policy Forum hosted by the Financial Times. His book, Public Policy Toward Cable Television, was co-authored with Matthew L. Spitzer (MIT Press, 1997). He previously held faculty appointments at the University of California at Davis, Columbia University, and the Wharton School. His specialty is the economics of the Information Sector. He has provided expert testimony to federal and state courts, regulatory agencies, committees of Congress, foreign governments, and international organizations.

Ballot Box BanditsPalast holds a master's degree in business from the University of Chicago, where his professors included famed free markets expert Milton Friedman. Palast went on to become a private detective, investigative reporter, and an author.

A decade ago, Palast became well-known in Europe for his investigative reporting on voting fraud in the United States. His reports for the BBC and Guardian newspaper in the United Kingdom provided cutting-edge reporting on how Florida systematically eliminated under Secretary of State Kathleen Harris vast numbers of eligible voters. These were mostly African-Americans just before the 2000 election narrowly "won" by the governor's brother, George W. Bush, by a margin of some 500 votes.

Palast's 2002 book, The Best Democracy Money Can Buy, alleges the State of Florida gave a suspicious contract to a subsidiary of the massive data company ChoicePoint to purge voters. The result, he says, was purge of 91,000 eligible voters from the rolls without warning. For that reason, affected voters had no realistic ability to complain effectively when they were turned away at voting booths.Palast says the good news for the public is that his story was carried by the nation's largest newspaper and biggest broadcasting outlet. The bad news, says the native of California, is that the country whose media published the reporting the United Kingdom, not the United States.

Looking ahead to this years elections?

"Register and register, then register again," advises Palast. One example is below, with further details on his action-oriented website: Ballot Bandits.

Think you're registered to vote? Think again, Jack. With all this purg'n going on (13 million and counting), you could be x'd out and you don't know it. So check online with your Secretary of State's office or call your County Board of Elections. Then register your girlfriend, your wife, your mailman and your mommy. Then contact the Rainbow PUSH Coalition, the League of Women Voters and Rock the Vote and commit to a couple of days of door-to-door registration, especially at social service agency offices. In Florida, that means you'll get arrested. I'll send a file in a cake.

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Related News Coverage

Tech Trends and the Economy

Wall Street Journal Online, The iPhone Turns Five, Thomas W. Hazlett, June 26, 2012. Forget the shouting about 'open' or 'closed' systems. The magic is in the dynamics of platform competition.

Wall Street Journal Online, The Real 'Stimulus' Record, Arthur B. Laffer, Aug. 5, 2012. In country after country, increased government spending acted more like a depressant than a stimulant. Policy makers in Washington and other capitals around the world are debating whether to implement another round of stimulus spending to combat high unemployment and sputtering growth rates. But before they leap, they should take a good hard look at how that worked the first time around. It worked miserably, as indicated by the table nearby, which shows increases in government spending from 2007 to 2009 and subsequent changes in GDP growth rates. Of the 34 Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development nations, those with the largest spending spurts from 2007 to 2009 saw the least growth in GDP rates before and after the stimulus.

Election Fraud and Voter Suppression Claims

OpEd News, 7 Ways to Beat the Ballot Bandits, Greg Palast, Aug. 7, 2012. 1. Don't Don't DON'T Mail In Your Ballot. For those of you who mailed in your ballot, please tell me, what happened to it? You don't know, do you? I can tell you that in the last election, half a million absentee ballots were never counted, on the flimsiest of technical excuses. And when they don't count, you don't even know it. Worse: Tens of thousands of ballots are not mailed out to voters in time to return them -- in which case you're out of luck. Most states won't let you vote in-precinct once you've applied to vote absentee. Every time I hear of a voter going "absentee" to avoid computer screens, I want to "go postal." 2. Vote Early -- Before the Ballot Bandits Wake Up. Every state now lets voters cast ballots in designated polling stations and at county offices in the weeks before Election Day. Do it. Don't wait until Election Day to find out you have the wrong ID, your registration's "inactive," (9.9 million of you) or you're on some creep's challenge list. By Election Day, if your name is gone or tagged, there's little you can do but hold up the line.

Seven Stories Press, Billionaires & Ballot Bandits: How to Steal an Election in 9 Easy Steps by Greg Palast, Ted Rall and Robert F. Kennedy Jr., publication date: Sept. 18, 2012. Publisher's announcement: A close presidential election in November could well come down to contested states or even districts -- an election decided by vote theft? Told with Palast's no-holds-barred, reporter-on-the-beat style, the facts as he lays them out are staggering. What emerges in Billionaires & Ballot Bandits is the never-before-told-story of the epic battle being fought behind the scenes between the old money banking sector that still supports Obama, and the new hedge fund billionaires like Paul Singer who not only support Romney but also are among his key economic advisors., Justice Department Investigates Pennsylvania Voter ID Law, staff, Aug. 3, 2012. The Department of Justice has entered the political fray, opening an investigation into Pennsylvania’s voter ID law.  According to reports, a three-page letter was sent to Pennsylvania Acting Secretary of the Commonwealth Carol Aichele asking that the state release a complete voter registration list including race and voting history, as well as a listing people with valid state identification. In seeking the list, the Justice Department wants to make sure that Pennsylvania is not in violation of Section 2 of the Civil Rights Voting Act, which prohibits voting practices or procedures that discriminate on the basis of race, color, or membership in a particular language minority group.

Justice Integrity Project, Cutting Through Hype, Hypocrisy of Vote Fraud Claims, Andrew Kreig, Aug. 13, 2011. Recent events show why election theft deserves much more scrutiny than it receives from either government officials or news reporters. Most dramatically, a federal judge has released the 2008 testimony of GOP IT guru Michael Connell, right, as shown on a campaign website. The Ohio resident died in a mysterious plane crash that year after anonymous warnings he would be killed if he testified about his work with Karl Rove and others helping the Bush-Cheney ticket win in 2000 and 2004.

Vice Presidential and Convention News Coverage

Salon, The journalistic mind: Mark Halperin of Time provides some important insight into the behavior of his colleagues, Glenn Greenwald, Aug. 8, 2012. Few media behaviors are more pitiful than the intense fixation over the “Veepstakes”: a word that is at once nauseatingly vapid and yet incomparably valuable as a symbol of our nation’s pointless, juvenile political media. Time‘s Mark Halperin, needless to say, has a column today all about the “Veepstakes,” which begins by his proud announcement that he’s “covered all of these since 1992.” Behold our tough, intrepid, adversarial press corps. If there’s an afterlife, I feel sorry for the American Founders: imagine how they must feel looking down on all of this, thinking about all the work they did to enact a First Amendment to protect press freedoms, and wondering why they bothered. And I wonder what these “journalists” did to make them believe that the presidential campaign they cover “owes them”? Actual journalists think that their “careers will be made” if they expose serious wrongdoing on the part of those in power; these people think their careers will be made if they get to run in front of an MSNBC or CNN camera and announce Mitt Romney’s Vice Presidential pick 11 seconds before everyone else announces it (what Jay Rosen derides as an “ego scoop”). The latter view about what is career-making is probably more accurate than the former, which explains most everything.

OpEd News, How the GOP Establishment Stole the Nomination from Ron Paul, Jaret Glenn, Aug. 6, 2012. If you follow mainstream election coverage, you might think Mitt Romney has coasted to an honest, easy, well-deserved Republican nomination. Unfortunately for Republican voters, nothing could be further from the truth. The primary process has been an all-out slugfest and many of the delegates Romney has won may be the result of dirty tricks and even election fraud. The following narrative includes links to reports, first-hand testimonials, and video evidence highlighting actions taken by the GOP to ensure a Romney victory, at the expense of fracturing the party just prior to the general election. Party leaders at the county and state level have changed or violated party rules, cancelled caucuses, changed vote counts, thrown out entire counties of votes, counted public votes privately, called-in the SWAT team, and inexplicably replaced Paul delegates with Romney delegates to block Ron Paul from winning the nomination.