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GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal 2012...
VA GOP VOTER REG FRAUDSTER OFF HOOK
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The Secret Koch Brothers Tapes...

(Without Telling Us What Was Wrong in the First Place)
Some Quick Damage Control After Secret Letter Uncovered Threats of Decertification for Voting Machine Company by SoS in the Golden State
By Brad Friedman on 12/29/2005 11:11am PT  

Everything's fine. Nothing to worry about. These aren't the droids you're looking for. That was the message out of Sacramento yesterday in regards to the newly exposed concerns about ES&S voting machines in California as recently revealed by a secret letter from California's Secretary of State. That letter was written and sent five weeks ago privately, but only reported publicly for the first time last week after it was uncovered by an AP reporter.

Of course, CA SoS Bruce McPherson's office has yet to actually inform the voters (you remember them, don't you, Mr. McPherson?) of the "problems experienced by counties utilitizing ES&S voting equipment and software" as discovered during the recent November Special Election which "deeply concerned" the SoS enough to threaten ES&S with decertification in the entire state, according to the letter.

But the message out yesterday is that all is well, and no --- you pesky voters don't need to worry your pretty little selves about a thing!

According to the Vallejo Times-Herald (note how the concern in the lede here is for Elections Officials as opposed to Voters!):

Solano County leaders could breathe a sigh of relief Tuesday when the state announced it would not decertify voting machines used here.

If the state had gone forward with its threat to decertify the Election Systems and Software used in Solano and in 10 other California counties, it likely would have meant Solano would have to replace its voting machines for the second time in nearly two years.

Yea! The Solano County leaders don't have to worry about a thing! Merry Christmas, Bedford Falls!

But after threatening potential decertification of the ES&S voting machine company, a Secretary of State's office spokeswoman said Tuesday the state was satisfied the company would make necessary improvements.

Specifically, in a letter obtained by The Associated Press, Assistant Secretary of State for Elections Bradley J. Clark warned he'd start the process of decertifying ES&S machines for use in California if senior officials didn't address concerns with vote counts and verification, problems that surfaced during the state's Nov. 8 special election. The concerns needed to be dealt with immediately, the letter said.

"They've thoroughly met our needs," Secretary of State spokeswoman Jennifer Kerns said Tuesday, adding that the company addressed the concerns "one by one."

What exactly are those needs, Ms. Kerns? Do the California Voters have any right to know about them? Or will it require investigative reporters and bloggers with bad attitudes to uncover still more secret letters and documents sent to the Voting Machine Companies that we, the Voters (you remember us, don't you, Ms. Kern?), are paying with our tax-dollars to privatize our public elections?!

State Senator Debra Bowen had previously called on you "to immediately release all corrspondence to all vendors, and all documentation related to the certification of any and all voting equipment and voting systems." Have the SoS's office done so? It would certainly be appreciated, so we could judge for ourselves about those "one by one" needs that ES&S has "thoroughly met". And we speak as California Voters ourselves here, by the way.

Bowen also asked, "When is the public entitled to know?" Which, of course, we'd like to know as well. She also added "This kind of secrecy is completely unacceptable." And, of course, we agree to that as well.

So, Mr. McPherson or Ms. Kerns --- or whoever it is that is making decisions up there in Sacramento while you suppose that few are paying attention between Christmas and New Years --- would you like to answer the Senator's call on behalf of the voters of California for whom you work?

Our lines are always open. We'll be happy to help you disseminate all of that information. If you actually care about such things. We'll even try and get rid of the bad attitude when we do just for fairness sake. But you'll have to meet us halfway. If you work for us (as you're supposed to), then we'll do our best to work with you.

(Hat tip to the eagle-eyed John Gideon, who, unlike Diebold, actually means it when he says he "never rests".)




Thanks to all The BRAD BLOG supporters and readers for an extraordinary year!
Fasten your seatbelts for 2006! It's Gonna Be a Bumpy Ride...
By Brad Friedman on 12/28/2005 4:44pm PT  


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You like me! Your really do like me!
By Brad Friedman on 12/28/2005 3:04pm PT  

From another adoring BRAD BLOG reader!...

FROM: Jeanne Newcomb [email address redacted for privacy]
SUBJECT: [none given]

You are a sadly misinformed fool. Oh yes, and a LIAR as well. Leave.

No details given beyond that, on either what we're misinformed on or have lied about. Oh, well. Too bad. I might have "left" had she only bothered to convince me of the errors of my ways. Guess I'm stayin'!

Then there's this from a Velvet Revolution lover/emailer...

FROM: Charles Bouy [email address redacted for privacy]
SUBJECT: commie bastards

Go fuck yourself you commie bastards.

No apparent recognition there that it was, in fact, a "Velvet Revolution" that helped overthrow the "commie bastards" in Eastern Europe. But perhaps such nuance is lost on "patriots" like Charles.

Can ya feel the love?! :-)




By Brad Friedman on 12/27/2005 7:20pm PT  

I've seen the excellent piece by Juan Cole on the "Top 10 Myths about Iraq in 2005" linked by several blogs already, so perhaps you've already seen it. Either way, I think it's well worth linking to here and I recommend you give it a quick read if you haven't already. As Cole points out, there are many complexities in the Iraq situation, which don't necessarily translate well to the sound bites we're accustomed to in the "rough and ready, two-party American political arena."

Cole explains some of those complexities in a very straightforward and informative fashion. Amongst the one or two of the myths that jumped out at me, personally, and have been driving me crazy when I hear them repeated by wingnuts on both TV and in comments here...

7. The new Iraqi constitution is a victory for Western, liberal values in the Middle East. The constitution made Islam the religion of state. It stipulates that the civil parliament may pass no legislation that contradicts the established laws of Islam. It looks forward to clerics serving on court benches. It allows individuals to opt out of secular, civil personal status laws (for marriage, divorce, alimony, inheritance) and to choose relgious canon law instead. Islamic law gives girls, e.g., only half the amount of inheritance received by their brothers. Instead of a federal government, the constitution establishes a loose supervisory role for Baghdad and devolves most powers, including claims on future oil finds, on provinces and provincial confederacies, such that it is difficult to see how the country will be able to hold together.

Got that? Okay, good. So --- wingnuts --- please spare me the crap about how wonderful it is that your man Bush has finally brought democracy and freedom for all to the Middle East. You may be willing to bullshit yourselves, but please don't bother to try and wipe that stench off on me.

In another section of Cole's rather fair and rather balanced assessment, from which both "sides" of the American political food-fight are bound to harvest fresh ammo, is this:

far more Sunni Arabs support the guerrilla movement today than supported it in September of 2004, and more supported it in September of 2004 than had in September of 2003.

Got that one, too? The "terrorists" are increasing, not decreasing vis a vis this pathetically run charade.

Finally, the myth that "The Bush administration wanted free elections in Iraq" is quickly dispatched by Cole as "simply not true". But the still-more maddening piece of this bit of treacherous wingnut mythology, refers back to the point above about the increasing insurgency. In giving the real history of the Bush Administration's various flip-flops throughout the American occupation in regards to holding free and fair democratic elections in Iraq, Cole points out how the Bushies played their cave to Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani (who had demanded free elections back in late 2003) in order to avoid troubles that might effect Bush's own election back here in America. The results of Bush's personal political power play meant the insurgency was allowed to grow worse, so Bush might be allowed to be elected in 2004:

Soon thereafter, Bush caved and gave the ayatollah everything he demanded. Except that he was apparently afraid that open, non-manipulated elections in Iraq might become a factor in the US presidential campaign, so he got the elections postponed to January 2005. This enormous delay allowed the country to fall into much worse chaos

Lovely. And Team Bush has the unmitigated gall to accuse Democrats of "playing politics" with the Iraq War?! Puh-lease.

Check out all 10 of the myths as explained by someone who actually knows what's going on on the ground. How refreshing.




(And Everybody Else Who Stands in the Way of Their 'Christian' Agenda)
By Brad Friedman on 12/27/2005 11:53am PT  

Now that the War on Christmas is finally over (picture me kissing some random woman in Times Square amidst tons of falling confetti to celebrate VC Day!), shouldn't O'Reilly's War on Chanukah be getting under way? We've got at least 7 days left to object to all of those still-hanging "Happy Holidays!" and "Merry Christmas!" banners at Sears and Target to offend those who believe this is a Judeo-Christian country as the X-Warriors have been claiming for the last several weeks (whenever they are "politically correct" enough to add that "Judeo" part, anyway).

But don't hold your breath for the Maccabean Troops to begin their Fox "News" Circus offensive any time soon. That whole "we support Jews and Israel" thing is (surprise!) just another Rightwing ruse for more votes to further entrench their Christo-Governmental agenda. And if those pesky Christ Killers don't watch it, the Wingnuts may just declare they're not the "Jew Lovers" they've been pretending to be after all!

For you Jews out there who still support the Rightwing Nuts and Christian-Right Religious Zealots (by no means mutually exclusive groups) under the misleading pretense that "they are strong supporters of Israel" take a look at what Media Matters reported last week on recent comments made by Don Wildmon, the President of the extremist religio-political group calling itself The American Family Association.

In reply to to the Anti-Defamation League President, Abraham H. Foxman, who had been critical of Christian Right groups attempting to "Christianize America" Wildmon recently said:

"Well, all right then. If that's the way you feel, then we just won't support Israel anymore."

Wow. Talk about your fair weather "friends".

The Wingnuts --- in whom various Jewish folks have given their support in a Faustian bargain (and that would include several members of my own family!) --- may act as if they are supporters of Israel. But make no mistake, it is not because they are supporters of the Jews.

Any such belief or support for such cynical wingnuttery is wholly misplaced as I have tried to point out for some time. Wildmon's comments above illustrate that fact nicely.

Now if someone would just inform the apparently just-plain-insane Jew, Don Feder of "Jews Against Anti-Christian Defamation" that he's being played for a chump by these cretins. Ghengis Don, as he proudly calls himself, recently told his wingnut "press" pals that "America is a Christian Nation." Oh, well...

P.S. The fickle Wildmon and his American Family Ass. have also put Wingnut Sen. Rick Santorum --- of all people --- on notice too! It seems you just can't please some "American" "Families".




By Brad Friedman on 12/26/2005 11:05pm PT  

Courtesy of Tom Tomorrow...

(Speaking of the above...keep your eyes on that li'l countdown clock on the top right of every BRAD BLOG page. I'm just sayin'.)




2100+ American Troops Dead! 15,000+ Wounded! 30,000+ Iraqis Dead! 300 Billion American Tax-Payer Dollars Spent! Country Inches Ever Closer to Civil War!
Go Team America!
By Brad Friedman on 12/26/2005 2:12pm PT  

Regular BRAD BLOG comment trolls (well, one at least, with little better to do, apparently, then jerk-off to hot Fox News Alerts) have criticized us for lack of coverage of the recent so-called "Historic" Iraqi elections. (Even, we should note, while they don't seem to give a damn about our own American electoral system in desperate tatters.)

We apologize for the oversight.

So congratulations to the Iraqi Shiite Mullahs who have gained control of the country's parliament with the singular help of $300 billion in tax payer dollars ("That's your money, you should get to keep it." - GWB) and at the expense of more than 2100+ American lives!

Yeah, Team America! Spreading Freedom and Democracy around the globe!

The BRAD BLOG congratulates George W. Bush for his unwaivering optimism and steely resolve in "staying the course" in light of all those freedom-hating Liberal nay-sayers who didn't believe that another Iran in the Middle East was such a great idea. You sure showed them!

But the biggest congratulations of all, are reserved for Iraq's new leader! The peace, freedom and democracy-loving Muqtada al-Sadr!

CONGRATULATIONS! Way to go, Muqtada!

Or, to quote from the 'Iraq Rising' blog (oft-linked by Neo-Con wingnut blogs, btw) as run by a "Pro-Liberation" Iraqi, here's what he posted a few days ago:

Congratulations America,

welcome to the Islamic devided wartorn republic of Shit hole Iraq.. Watch your Petrol Gas pomp prices go up.. A bunch off idiots, the whole lot of ya....

Iraq Rising.. More like Iraq dying..

Blogg closed.

Of course, if you've been paying attention to the under-reported rumblings out of Iraq, you know that the pro-Western(ish) factions (well, the factions that the American government supports anyway, like the one-time CIA asset, one-time prime minister, Ayad Allawi) performed miserably in the election. And they, like the Sunni's who also didn't care for the results, are now rumbling about armed rebellion against the newly elected theocratic majority in parliament as the country inches ever closer towards finally setting a very hot match to the powder keg of full-blown civil war that continues to loom.

All of that, while Christians in the country are reportedly fleeing to Syria and elsewhere. Ironic, as Juan Cole points out, as "the secular Arab nationalist regimes like the Syrian Baath have typically been favorable to local Christians, since they downplay religious identity." (But we'll get them next!) It was not an especially very merry for the Christians who still remained in Iraq this year.

Even the wingnut Pajamas Media is having a tough time finding anybody amongst their bevvy of Pro-War bloggers who are happy about the results. (UPDATE: For more on the Rightwing Welfare to Pajamas Media bloggers, see Jane's thoughts today, btw.)

But, hey, who can forget those purple fingers, huh?! What a triumph!!!

So much for "Peace on Earth"...Oh, well, we tried. It was Christmas. So we tried.




By Brad Friedman on 12/25/2005 12:07pm PT  




Yellow Dog Blog Calls it Hands Down for Ritter...
By Brad Friedman on 12/24/2005 12:26pm PT  

"I am as opposed to this war as strongly as one can possibly be against this war," said Ritter firmly. "I cannot come up with one justification worthy of a single American life for why we're in Iraq. And we cannot solve Iraq until we get some answers about the war's foundation. And, I'll tell you right now, it's the most corrupt foundation imaginable."
...
Ritter ended the debate with passion that brought the most enthusiastic reaction from the crowd.

"This is a war that's not worth the life of one American because it's a war based on a lie. And no amount of revisionism will make those lies true," he said. "And if you support this ridiculous notion that the ends justifies the means, then come up here, throw your passport on the stage and get the hell out of my country because that's un-American."

From Bob Geiger's excellent coverage of the recent debate between Scott Ritter and Christopher Hitchens. By Geiger's account at least, it sounds like Ritter cleaned Hitchens' clock. (A clock, we might add, which could well use some cleaning...even if a filthy, dirty, broken one still manages to be right twice a day.)




Letter from SoS to Voting Machine Co. Warns of Numerous Problems Discovered on Touch-Screen, Optical Scan Machines!
State Senator Outraged, Comments to BRAD BLOG, Calls for Full Release of Information by State!...And Releases Statement on Related Matters...
By Brad Friedman on 12/23/2005 5:05pm PT  

Holy cow...perhaps this explains why California Sec. of State Bruce McPherson suddenly started turning inexplicably back to Diebold some time around mid-November of this year after having decertified them already back in 2004, and then finding them to have failed massively in a recent mock election test over the summer.

"Information about problems with voting machines should not have been delayed long enough to become a lump of coal in California's Christmas stocking," half-joked State Senator Debra Bowen to The BRAD BLOG upon reading the following astounding new story.

AP's Juliet Williams reports today on a letter written by McPherson's office to voting machine vendor, Election Systems & Software, Inc. (ES&S) after the recent Special Election here on Nov. 8th. The letter documents a number of very serious problems discovered on ES&S voting equipment during the election. Apparently the SoS threatened ES&S with decertification in the bargain, similar to the one Diebold faced in the state back in 2004 under the previous Sec. of State Kevin Shelley...

SACRAMENTO - California election officials have told one of the country's largest manufacturers of voting machines to repair its software after problems with vote counts and verification surfaced during California's November special election.

In a letter obtained by The Associated Press, Assistant Secretary of State for Elections Bradley J. Clark threatened to start the process of decertifying Election Systems and Software machines for use in California if senior officials didn't address the concerns immediately.

"The California Secretary of State is deeply concerned about problems experienced by counties utilizing ES&S voting equipment and software," Clark wrote in a letter addressed to company president Aldo Tesi nine days after the Nov. 8 election.

Software problems included incorrect counting of turnout figures, a malfunction that prevented voters from verifying that their choices were registered accurately and one machine recording the wrong vote during a test, according to the letter.

Eleven California counties used the company's voting machines during the special election. Election Systems and Software equipment also is used in 45 other states.

The problems in California are similar to ones the company has experienced elsewhere. During a 2004 primary election in Hawaii, glitches with the company's optical scanners led to a miscount of about 6,000 votes.
...
A spokeswoman for Secretary of State Bruce McPherson declined to elaborate further on the Election Day mishaps, the problems discussed in the letter or the company's assertion that state officials are pleased with its proposed solutions.

In other words, it's none of the voters damned business what problems occurred in their own elections just five weeks ago! And had Williams not discovered the letter, none of the citizens in California, or for that matter States and Counties around the country --- all of whom are making their last minute decisions on which vendors to sign with prior to the Jan 1, 2006 HAVA deadline --- would have ever known about any of these problems with ES&S machinery!

CA State Senator Debra Bowen, who has been a leader in the state on issues of election integrity, was clearly irked upon reading this news, as reflected in this comment she just shared with The BRAD BLOG, asking [emphasis hers]: "WHY IS IT THAT WE HAVE BEEN IN THE DARK ABOUT THE PROBLEMS WITH ES&S FOR FIVE WEEKS?"

She went on to call on the SoS to release all pertinent information on these matters in her missive:

When is the public entitled to know? This kind of secrecy is completely unacceptable.

I call on the Secretary of State to immediately release all correspondence to all vendors, and all documentation related to the certification of any and all voting equipment and voting systems. Information about problems with voting machines should not have been delayed long enough to become a lump of coal in California's Christmas stocking.

As well, she promised to reiterate those concerns with a "formal request" in her official capacity soon.

Yet, there's still more that SoS's office doesn't feel, apparently, that voter's have the right to know. Back to the AP coverage:

Clark's letter said that on Nov. 8 a state monitoring team "experienced an alarming error on the iVotronic system in Merced County, where a voter chose one candidate but the vote was recorded for another candidate. This error is documented on videotape and demonstrates that it was not an operator error, but was, rather, an error in the system."
...
Fields said company officials have reviewed the state's videotape and blamed the problem on the tester's long fingernails.
...
"The iVotronic touch screens are designed to be used by soft-touched objects," he said. "We do not recommend sharp, hard objects like a stylus, a pen or fingernails."

Lovely. A device created to be used by touching the screen with ones finger, won't work if fingernails are used. Good thinking!

In all honesty, however, the entire "fingernail" defense from ES&S sounds like a bunch of nonsense to us. Once again, we've got a documented and video-taped report of "Vote Hopping", not unlike the thousands of similar reports that American's testified to back in November of 2004 after the Presidential Election --- only to be dismissed and called "conspiracy theorists" later when they testified to the incidents, and signed official affidavits along with it.

And just a bit more from the article:

According to the secretary of state's letter, other problems discovered in California Nov. 8 include:

_ The company's software incorrectly counting the total turnout figures for counties that used multiple ballot cards: "This problem was a recurrence of a problem experienced by your customers in November 2004; you have had a year to correct this known problem, and have not done so," the letter stated.
...
_ The touch-screen machine used in Merced County did not properly display the summary of votes, "making it impossible for voters to confirm their vote choices in those contests," the letter stated.

We had more on the troubles with the ES&S company --- just in case they were under the impression that Diebold deserved all the BRAD BLOG "love" --- in this previous item.

Between ES&S and Diebold, the two companies currently tally more than 80% of America's votes. They have each been run by two brothers named Urosevich. And while Diebold, Inc. in total, is a larger company than ES&S, the latter is actually a larger provider of Voting Systems and Machinery around the country.

AP's Williams deserves big props her reporting here! So...thank you to her! Please put us out of "business" entirely! And soon if you don't mind!

On further related matters from Sen. Bowen, who is running for Sec. of State in 2006 herself, she's been a rather busy bee of late, even if everyone else in Sacramento has already knocked off for the holidays.

A "Letter to the Editor" of hers was published in today's Tallahassee Democrat down in Florida, lauding Leon County's Ion Sancho for his leadership on the recent Diebold "Hack Test" which revealed that an Electronic Election could be entirely flipped by a hacker without as much as a trace being left behind.

As well, she issued a press release late yesterday spelling out how California's law requiring Voting Machine Companies to place their source code in escrow is virtually identical to the law in North Carolina which Diebold yesterday said they could not abide by and thus stated their intention to withdraw from the state completely. If that was the case in NC, suggests Bowen, then apparently Diebold needs to withdraw from CA as well.

She also states her serious concerns about the so-called "Independent Testing Authority" (not so "independent", they're chosen and paid for by the Voting Machine Vendors, and not so "authoritative" since they seem to rubber-stamp just about anything the companies send to them!) The ITA's are supposed to certify all of this software and hardware on the Federal level. Recently, as Bowen points out, Sec. of State McPherson opted to "punt" the matter of Diebold's hackable memory cards back to the ITA rather than doing what Sancho did; Simply decertify them and their crappy machines once and for all from all further elections!

As her press release on the ITA matters has not yet been published anywhere as far as we know, we offer her our Christmas gift by doing so here, in full, below...Happy Holidays, Senator...We look forward to coming to Sacramento in '07 for your Inaugural as the next California SoS...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---




By Brad Friedman on 12/22/2005 9:35pm PT  

The widely-read inside-the-beltway "Hotline" from National Journal notices our series of reports, of late, and seems to recognize (finally) that there may be something rotten in the State of Diebold.

They "assign" further coverage on these matters to Tom Edsall (WaPo), Scott Shane (NY Times), Sharon Theimer (AP), Mark Memmott (USA Today), and Bloomberg News. We'll see who takes them up on it.

Any of the above may feel free to contact me if they'd like to know where a few of the bodies are buried. I'm happy to help. And, otherwise, here's a friendly starter page to help fill you in on on what you missed "while you were out."




Sends Letter to State Announcing Intention to Withdraw in Light of State Law Requirement for Submission of Source Code!
Said to be happy to help state change their law, however!
By Brad Friedman on 12/22/2005 3:51pm PT  

For those who have followed the recent yet storied history of Diebold in North Carolina, The BRAD BLOG has just received word that there has been yet one more late-breaking twist! We can now confirm that, in fact, Diebold is removing their company from contention for the lucrative election systems contracts in the state in light of a state law which requires Voting Machine Companies to submit their full source-code to the state for inspection. At least for now.

A letter just obtained by The BRAD BLOG, sent from Diebold to the NC State Board of Elections, confirms that indeed, the company which had previously fought a state law requiring the submission and inspection of their voting equipment's software source code has decided they'd rather quit than fight, and is withdrawing their bid to contract with the state of NC for the time being, pending their ability to convince NC to change their laws!

According to the letter, dated Dec. 20th, 2005 and sent by a Diebold attorney to NC's State Board of Elections Executive Directory, Gary Bartlett, Diebold has decided they cannot comply with the current state law requiring full source code submission. The letter claims that Diebold is prepared to submit their own source code, but not that of third parties which is used by Diebold in their voting systems, including Operating System software and pre-packaged third-party tools.

Diebold, however, in the letter written by attorney Charles R. Owen, and apparently sent via Email on Diebold stationery, says that Diebold "is prepared to work closely with the North Carolina State Board of Elections ('SBE') in drafting a modification" to the law which they contend neither they nor other vendors can meet. It goes on to say that such a modification to the state law would be one "that meets the true intent of the legislature while at the same time imposing reasonable requirements on all vendors that are capable of being met."

Owen adds, however, that they will be "unable to comply with the deadlines imposed by the SBE in addition to the requirements of state law."

-- Here is the full 12/21/05 Letter from Diebold [PDF] to the NC State Board of Elections.

John Gideon, of VotersUnite.org and VoteTrustUSA, as well as a frequent Guest Blogger here at BRAD BLOG, received word of this decision not long ago via an email sent from a source in NC:

I have just got the official word. Diebold withdrew from NC today because their CEO would not sign the document making him criminally liable for disclosing the source code.

This is what I was talking about in my post yesterday, but I couldn't be too specific.

Thank GOD! We did it. This has been one hell of a battle.

The email was a follow up to word Gideon received late last night from the source who was reportedly waiting to get "the official word" on the matter.

The back and forth between Diebold, North Carolina, and Election Integrity advocates has been an intense roller-coaster ride over the last several weeks as reported in several BRAD BLOG stories which followed all the various ups and downs.

Several weeks ago, Diebold had attempted to receive an exemption from the state court for submitting their complete source code into escrow. They were denied that exemption by the court and announced that they would therefore be unable to do business with North Carolina. Just a day or so later, the state announced they were going to go ahead and certify Diebold anyway based on a partial submission of source code even though that appeared to violate state law. That became known as the "Immaculate Certification" since it came just a day or so after the Ohio-based company had said they'd submit some of their source code to the state after all. Election integrity advocates had argued that their was no way the state could have complied with state law for inspection of the code in the short between the company's submission, and the states certification. The decision to certify at that point, was apparently led by the former Diebold employee, Keith Long, who had recently left the company to join North Carolina's commission advising the State Board of Elections.

Several days later then, a lawsuit was filed by NC citizen, Joyce McCloy, to challenge the state's decision to certify Diebold, contending that it was done against state law. And now, apparently, even Diebold agrees.

North Carolina passed their new, tougher state elections laws, after at least 4,500 votes were entirely lost in Carteret County on a single electronic voting machine made by UniLect, Inc. during the 2004 Presidential Election.

Where things will go from here, we can only guess. But, as ever, we will do our best to stay on top of the story as it moves forward...or backwards...or sideways...as the case, when dealing with Diebold...may eventually be...

UPDATE: AP now has the story, reports that only one vendor is left in NC willing to meet the state law requirements. ES&S. More more on the problems of ES&S, and a few other remarkable items, see this BRAD BLOG story from earlier today.




Citizen Activists, Increasing Concerns about Diebold Security, Company Integrity Said to Have Been Key to Decision!
ALSO: FOIA Requests Filed About Closed-Door Hearings, Concerns Emerge About ES&S, the Company Chosen Instead of Diebold, and a Diebold Lobbyist Reportedly Inquires About BRAD BLOG...And FAMILY!!!
By Brad Friedman on 12/22/2005 3:23pm PT  

Add St. Louis County, Missouri to the growing list of Elections Boards around the country who have now rejected Diebold, Inc. voting machines in the last-minute scramble to select new election hardware, prior to the Jan. 1, 2006 Help America Vote Act deadline to have such "upgrades" paid for with Federal tax dollars.

The bad news for the once-great, now-disgraced Diebold, Inc. (stock symbol: DBD) of North Canton, Ohio, comes as the latest blow in a long string of disappointments for the company, which last week saw the resignation of its CEO, the filing of several Class Action Securities Fraud lawsuits, and the devasting revelation that their voting machines can be easily hacked, allowing the results of Diebold elections to be completely reversed.

The loss of the contract in St. Louis County, who chose to go instead with Election Systems and Software, Inc. (ES&S), is estimated by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch to be at least $9.6 million.

The last minute decision came amid intense lobbying by both citizens' election integrity advocacy groups and paid Diebold lobbyists --- at least one of whom was reported to have inquired about both The BRAD BLOG itself and the financial background of the father of yours truly!

There are also growing concerns about the security of voting equipment sold by ES&S, as well, in light of various states and counties around the country selecting them, instead of Diebold, as the contractor to privatize their public elections.

The County's decision to go with ES&S, instead of Diebold, comes just days after the City of St. Louis (distinct from the county) decided unanimously to go with Diebold. The City's decision occurred even after Diebold's machines were exposed as completely insecure in a so-called "hack test" in Leon County, Florida that resulted in the tally of a test election being completely reversed. A few days later Volusia County, Florida decided against Diebold, and shortly thereafter the State of California "punted" the issue, for now, back to the Feds, stating there were "unresolved significant security concerns" with Diebold's voting machines. The California decision, though not yet definitive, is undoubtedly one of the biggest blows for Diebold, since it is regarded by the company as America's largest "voting market."

The City of St. Louis may come to regret their decision as much as they eventually came to regret allowing the County to split off from it, back in the days when the County was sparsely populated and seen as draining tax dollars from the City. Today, St. Louis County's population is over 1 million, while the City continues to stagnate at a population of just over 300 thousand.

According to reports from both grassroots organization Missourians for Honest Elections and Jo Mannies of The Post, information and concerns about about the latest failures of Diebold voting machines, brought to the County's Board of Election by citizens, was crucial to the BoE's decision. As reported by Mannies in a story on The Post website last night:

Board member Anita Yeckel acknowledged that the controversy surrounding one of the contenders, Diebold Election Systems, was a factor in her decision.

"There was a lot of publicity about Diebold that hadn't been resolved," she said.

In the version of the story which ran in today's paper, the following addition to the above was found:

She added that she personally thought Ohio-based Diebold was "a terrific company."

There was no explanation for that added quote and we have been unable to reach Mannies for comment today.

According to Virginia Harris, a volunteer with Missourians for Honest Elections, St. Louis county resident Harvey Friedman (father of this blogger) was instrumental, along with several others, in bringing the latest disturbing news about the Diebold company to the attention of the Board of Elections.

On a personal note; While my father has never shown a proclivity towards political activism in the past, to the knowledge of this exceedingly proud blogger, I couldn't be more impressed with his tenacious efforts to inform the St. Louis County BoE members of the many growing concerns about Diebold, and to hold their collective feet to the fire in the bargain. The tree, apparently, does not grow far from the fallen apple. Thank you, Dad. And congratulations for the positive effect of your good work in my old home town!

The activism of Friedman the Elder, and the reporting of The BRAD BLOG, apparently has not escaped the notice of at least one person, said to be a Diebold lobbyist present at the series of recent BoE hearings in St. Louis. After Mannies of The Post ran a short blog item highlighting both our hometown connection and our father --- whom she met and interviewed at the hearings --- Lou Hamilton, reportedly representing Diebold, was said to have "thanked" Mannies for "the outing of BRAD BLOG" (whatever that might mean) and to have asked her "Who is Brad's father? What does he do for a living?", according to a report of the incident.

Hamilton is apparently the CEO of "strategic communications consulting service" Hamilton & Company, and described in an article by Mannies as "a prominent Democratic consultant." More information on Hamilton and his company is available here. We have been unable to reach either Hamilton or Mannies for additional comment on the information reported above, which was emailed to us yesterday.

While attention to the many anti-democratic maneuvers of Diebold, whose former CEO Walden O'Dell infamously pledged his personal committment "to helping Ohio deliver its electoral votes" to George W. Bush in a fundraising letter to Republicans prior to the 2004 election, has been increasingly well-publicized, ES&S has escaped the scrutiny of many Election Reform advocates.

The fact, however, is that ES&S' voting machines are not known to be any more secure than Diebold's, as reported in an eye-opening article yesterday by Wired News. In the report, adjunct computer science professor at the Florida Institute of Technology, Hugh Thompson, who also took part in the Leon County "hack test" last week, is concerned about the voting equipment being purchased from companies other than Diebold:

"Looking at these systems doesn't send off signals that ... if we just get rid of Diebold and go to another vendor we'll be safe," Thompson said. "We know the Diebold machines are vulnerable. As for ES&S, we don't know that they're bad but we don't know that they're (good) either."

Earlier this year, ES&S acquired distribution rights to the AutoMARK system, which has been described as far superior and far more secure than ES&S' own touch-screen and optical scan voting machines. As well, the AutoMARK system, which produces a paper ballot for every vote cast, is said to be accessible to disabled citizens in ways which ES&S and Diebold machines are not, according to a number of disabled citizen's advocacy groups. In Florida's Leon County, the Board of Elections has decided to contract with ES&S, with the intention of using the AutoMARK system once it becomes certified by the state.

St. Louis County's BoE has decided against the AutoMARK system, and instead will purchase 1,750 ES&S touch-screen machines for use in municipal races, along with 500 precinct-level optical-scan tabulators for use in Federal races, according to Harris, with whom we spoke by telephone earlier today. She suspects that ES&S is not dealing honestly with their newly acquired "partners" at AutoMARK, whom she contends ES&S is "defrauding" by over-pricing and under-representing their machines when dealing with potential clients on State and County elections boards.

"In my opinion, ES&S fraudulently priced the AutoMARK machines so high on their bid, that there was no way they could compete with ES&S's DRE [touch-screen] machines or anybody else's for that matter," she told us. Harris claims to have a copy of the bids submitted and hopes to share them with The BRAD BLOG soon.

The wrangling over which vendor to select in St. Louis County occurred shortly after several "closed door sessions" of the St. Louis County Board of Elections, who met privately with Voting Machine vendors and locked out the public and election integrity advocates. Those "closed door sessions" appear to be in violation of Missouri state law, and since then, The BRAD BLOG has learned, "Freedom of Information Act" (FOIA) requests have been filed with the County for the minutes of those closed door sessions. We will, as always, keep you up to date on details that may be revealed by those FOIA requests if and when the County complies with them.




A By-Request Open Thread...
By Brad Friedman on 12/21/2005 11:33am PT  

Unfortunately, I'm likely off the grid for the bulk of the day/evening today. So, unless the mighty fine Guest Bloggers jump in, feel free to Be the Blog! BRAD BLOG regular, "Dredd" requested an Open Thread recently, so Happy HOLIDAYS, old boy!

In my stead, it'll be as if I'm here by my kicking the Open Thread off with a few things "BRAD" that all have roughly something to do with your occasionally humble host, but that I otherwise don't know what to do with...

Hometown Boy Does Good-ish
Jo Mannies of my one-time hometown paper, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch blogs about me. Please note that the commenters in St. Louis on both that item, and the one preceeding it about the city of St. Louis choosing Diebold (the county has yet to make their final determination), need some education and some help. Feel free to offer it to them politely.

Thanks for the Honor Danny!
The notable author/filmmaker Danny Schecter, currently of MediaChannel.org has taken note of The BRAD BLOG as one of the notable blogs listed amongst his notable list of "Media Heroes". Coming from someone such as Schecter, that is no small honor. Given the company we share on his list, we are about as humbled as we are cable of being. We'll not even note he called us "Brad's Blog" since humble beggars shouldn't be choosers. (For more on humble begging, read on to the end of this item...)

FINALLY! A Good Excuse to Go Out and Buy Hustler!
I've got a short piece in the January February issue, on stands now, so I'm told, about DIEB-THROAT! Go get it! Lemme know you think, since I've yet to see the final version. Finally, you can tell people you really did buy it for the articles!

FINALLY! A Good Excuse to Go Out and Buy Mother Jones!
I've got an article about Dan Borchers --- he the Conservative (real one) working on an Anti-Ann Coulter documentary as first discussed in this BRAD BLOG Exclusive --- in the January issue. Now also out on stands, or so I'm told. If you prefer to save your money, for a CHRISTMAKKAKWANZA DONATION to your friendly neighborhood BRAD BLOG, you can read the MoJo article online here. Be sure to note the cool Spewing Ann graphic with it!

And Speaking of Donations...and Beggars...
Remember, just a few days left to make your end of year tax-deductible donations! Of course, we're not tax-deductable as far as I know, but really...Who does more good for the world? Those losers over at Save the Children or The BRAD BLOG? ;-)

Okay. After you send the tax-deductible part to them, feel free to share whatever might left with us. We could use the end o' year help.

Alternately, a monthly subscription of any amount you choose (see the blue form on the right of this page) is also a very lovely way to end one helluva roller-coaster ride of a year!

(And don't forget the swell merchandise in The BRAD STORE! Though who knows if it'll get there in time for the Holidays...Well, hell, there's eight full days of Chanukah to come! So, sure! It'll make it!...Maybe.)

Discuss all or none of the above...in comments below...




Federal Judge Rules Dover, PA 'Intelligent Design' Mandate in Biology Class Unconstitutional...
By Brad Friedman on 12/21/2005 11:31am PT  

Yesterday, from AP:

Dover Area School Board members violated the Constitution when they ordered that its biology curriculum must include the notion that life on Earth was produced by an unidentified intelligent cause, U.S. District Judge John E. Jones III said. Several members repeatedly lied to cover their motives even while professing religious beliefs, he said.

The school board policy, adopted in October 2004, was believed to have been the first of its kind in the nation.

"The citizens of the Dover area were poorly served by the members of the Board who voted for the ID [Intelligent Design] Policy," Jones wrote.
...
"We find that the secular purposes claimed by the Board amount to a pretext for the Board's real purpose, which was to promote religion in the public school classroom," he wrote in his 139-page opinion.

The Dover policy required students to hear a statement about intelligent design before ninth-grade biology lessons on evolution. The statement said Charles Darwin's theory is "not a fact" and has inexplicable "gaps." It refers students to an intelligent-design textbook, "Of Pandas and People," for more information.
...
Said the judge: "It is ironic that several of these individuals, who so staunchly and proudly touted their religious convictions in public, would time and again lie to cover their tracks and disguise the real purpose behind the ID Policy."

We should also note that the smart voters of Dover, removed all of the board members responsible for this idiocy from their jobs in last November's election.




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