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State Which Fought Release of Diebold Data Showing 200+ Percent Turnout in 2004 is Again Fighting Against Transparency
By Brad Friedman on 11/28/2006 2:47pm PT  

The state of Alaska which, as avid BRAD BLOG readers will recall, had been fighting tooth and nail to keep from releasing their database of how voters voted back in 2004, is at it again. Now, despite a court order, the state is refusing to release the new 2006 database, according to a press release just issued by the state Democratic Party. (Press release posted in full at the bottom of this item.)

Previously, the outgoing Governor Murkowski went so far as to have his top security man issue a memo saying release of the 2004 database would be a "security risk." The state had argued prior to that that they could not release the database because it was a "company secret" of Diebold's, according to their contract with the Anti-American Voting Company. All of that after Democrats had discovered a 200% voter turnout in some jurisdications across the state.

Murkowski's daughter Lisa, whom Frank had appointed to fill his seat in the Senate when he ascended to Governor, was in a very close race for that seat in 2004. In fact, most polls showed her trailing against her opponent prior to Election Day.

A court eventually forced the state to release the 2004 database but it was found to contain hundreds of edits since the 2004 election, including as late as July of 2006, prior to the release of the data.

See all of the stories in our Alaska category for the bizarre roller-coaster ride on this issue in the state.

Now it appears that Alaska is at it again, fighting to not release the database from the 2006 election in the only state that we know of where the Democratic Party themselves are actually fighting for complete transparency.

Here's the first two grafs from today's Press Release just issued. The complete press release follows below it...

Anchorage - The Alaska Division of Elections is violating the public records law and should immediately release copies of the electronic records of the 2006 election results so they can be examined before the election is certified, Alaska Democratic Party Chair Jake Metcalfe said today.

"Once again, the Division of Elections is flaunting the law with excuses and delays by refusing to release critical public records," Metcalfe said. "Judge Joannides has already ordered them to make copies of each version of the 2006 GEMS database, so it is no burden on them to just release those copies that they are already making. Why won't they release the records and give the public access to them as they are required by law to do?" Metcalfe said.

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

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By John Gideon on 7/24/2006 3:41pm PT  

Guest Blogged by John Gideon

The following shocking information just came in to "Train Wreck Central" from Brad who is on the road, lord knows where. A special hat tip to Thom Hartmann and Rich McClear of KUDO1080, the Air America Radio affiliate in Anchorage, Alaska.

As readers of The BRAD BLOG know, Diebold and the State of Alaska have been doing all they can to keep the State Democratic Party from looking at the data from the machines used by the voters to register their choices and by the local officials to tally the votes. The BRAD BLOG has reported that questions began to arise about results from the 2004 election, including the reported revelation that "district-by-district vote totals add up to 292,267 votes for President Bush, but his official total was only 190,889." The Democrats asked for election data from the Diebold machines and the state has 'flip-flopped' on whether they would release it or not. This resulted in claims by the state that any data they released would be proprietary and would belong to Diebold Elections Systems Inc. (DESI).

The above led the state Democratic party to file a lawsuit to get the data they have been requesting.

The following is from an email from Rich McClear:

The State of Alaska website shows 16 of 40 house districts with more than 200% voter turnout, Also, if you add up the vote totals from each district they come to more than 100,000 votes for state wide candidates than the summary reports show.

More than 7 months ago the Democrats asked for an explanation. The state said it could not release the data files because they were proprietary to Diebold.

Diebold gave the state permission to release the files.

The state still refused. The Democrats went to court, the state asked for extension after extension. Their final extension expired Thursday and they replied to the Court, in a 200 page document, that since it is a month from the primary election, they can't release the database without compromising the primary. There is not enough time to rebuild the central tabulator file if they release the data before the election.

The Democrats have to respond to the court Monday. To respond to a 200 page document would usually require the Democrats to ask for an extension but they are working throughout the weekend to get the filing in Monday. Right now I have the Democratic Spokesperson scheduled for my show Monday Morning.

The State stalled for 7 months and when they ran out the legal clock they claim it is too late to release the information because it is too close to the primary. I find it interesting that this has not been picked up by the local press yet, save KUDO.

So the state and Diebold have stalled, flip-flopped, obfuscated and misled while they kept the Democrats from proving that there were huge problems with the election results in 2004. One can only hope that the court will decide that the stall needs to stop now, but it might be best not to hold your breath.

* * *

UPDATE 11/28/06: Alaska is at it again. They're refusing to release the 2006 election database despite a court order to do so. Details now here...

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Contends Information on How Voters Voted is Not 'Security Risk' as Cited by State
Would like to know why there was 200% voter turnout, and many other still-unexplained anomolies in election... [UPDATED WITH FULL COMPLAINT AS FILED]
By Brad Friedman on 4/18/2006 10:18pm PT  

In what appears to be the only known case of the Democratic Party itself (to our brain-addled knowledge anyway, since we've been on the road for the last several days for last minute super-secret meetings that have left us exhausted for the moment), the Alaska Dems and the DNC Alaska Communications Director have announced a lawsuit is being filed to demand the state release election records from 2004.

Yes, they are still trying to figure out what happened in 2004. And in America 2006, apparently such info can only be obtained (perhaps) by going to court!

The complete press release issued today is posted in full below, but here's a recap on this mind-numbing story up until now:

In December 2005, the Dems asked the state for the election data files from the '04 election. They were told that they couldn't have that information, because the state's contract with Alaska made that information a "company secret" of Diebold's!

After complaints to the state, and the state's consultation with Diebold, the state agreed to release the information, but only after informing the Dems they'd have to cover the cost of (and this is a direct quote from their letter), "manipulating the data" before releasing it!

Finally, before the data could be released --- "manipulated" or otherwise --- the state's top security official announced they would not release the information after all because it was a "security risk."

Oh, how I wish I was making this shit up. But I'm not.

So, now the Dems up there are showing a rare bit of spine and going to court to get at that highly secret and super dangerous information otherwise known as "how American citizens voted in an election two years ago."

Why are they so interested in this info in the first place? Here's a graf or two from the release (which you should read in full below for full impact!):

According to the Division of Elections' vote reports that were produced by the state's Diebold computer system and are posted on the Division's official web site, a far larger number of votes were cast than the official totals reported in the statewide summary. In the case of President George Bush's votes, the district-by-district totals add up to 292,267, but his official total was only 190,889, a difference of 101,378 votes. In the U.S. Senate race, Lisa Murkowski received 226,992 votes in the district-by-district totals, but her official total was only 149,446, a difference of 77,546 votes.

In 20 of the 40 State House Districts, more ballots were cast than there are registered voters in the district, according to information on the state's web site. In 16 election districts, the voter turnout percentage shown is over 200%.

"Alaskans must have an accurate accounting of the 2004 election results. "The accountability of our election system is at stake. Confidence in the integrity of our elections is fundamental to our democracy," [Alaska Democratic Party Chair Jake] Metcalfe said.

UPDATE 4/19/06: The entire complaint, filed as #3AN-06-7035 CI, is now available here [PDF]. Coverage from today's Alaska Daily News is here.

The entire press release from the Alaska Dems follows...

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

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State's Top Security Officer Refuses Public Record Release of Diebold GEMS Database Files
The Latest Chapter in the Rollercoaster Battle to Audit Puzzling 2004 Poll Numbers Continues...
By Brad Friedman on 2/24/2006 7:51pm PT  

A bizarre story concerning Alaska's 2004 Election has taken yet another even more bizarre turn this week, The BRAD BLOG has learned.

A long-standing public records request for the release of Election 2004 database files created by Diebold's voting system had been long delayed after several odd twists and turns, including the revelation of a contract with the state claiming the information to be a "company secret."

But while it finally appeared as though the state had agreed to release the information (after reserving the right to "manipulate the data" in consultation with Diebold before releasing it), the state's top Security Official has now --- at the last minute --- stepped in to deny the request. The grounds for the denial: the release of the information poses a "security risk" to the state of Alaska.

The state Democratic party has been attempting since December of last year to review the Diebold GEMS tabulator data files from the 2004 election in order to audit some of the strange results discovered in the state, including a reported voter turnout of more than 200% in some areas.

"At this point," Democratic Party spokesperson Kay Brown told the Anchorage Daily News in January, "it's impossible to say whether the correct candidates were declared the winner in all Alaska races from 2004."

Some of the questionable results from the 2004 Election were outlined in a January 23rd letter [PDF] to the state's Division of Elections from the Alaska Democratic Party chairman, Jake Metcalfe. Amongst the anomolies detailed in Metcalfe's letter: "district-by-district vote totals add up to 292,267 votes for President Bush, but his official total was only 190,889."

The state Division of Elections, which had previously relented and agreed to release the data after refusing at first to do so, announced its latest about-face in a letter to Metcalfe on Wednesday citing the following concern from Alaska's Chief Security Officer Darrell Davis after he reviewed the public records request:

"release of any security related information creates a serious threat to our ability to ensure confidentiality, integrity, and availability of our systems and services..."

The complete letters from Alaska's Division of Elections Director Whitney Brewster and Chief Security Officer Darrell Davis are both available in full here [PDF].

The earlier twists in this strange tale occurred first in January and then in early February.

In late January, we reported that the state had refused to release the Election Data Files on the grounds that their contract with Diebold disallowed the release of the files. Their contract, apparently, recognizes the voter information to be a "company secret" and thus the proprietary property of the company which could not be released to the voters of Alaska.

A week or so later, in early Februrary we reported that the state and Diebold had capitulated. Sort of. After conferring with Diebold, the state relented and agreed to release the files. However, they reserved the right to --- sit down for this --- "manipulate the data" in consultation with Diebold before releasing them!

As the Elections Director Brewster stated in a February 3rd letter [PDF] to Metcalfe announcing they would release the data:

To this end, we are consulting with the Enterprise Technology Systems in the Department of Administration as well as Diebold on this issue...please be advised that the Division will charge for its costs incurred in manipulating the data to provide the records you seek."

And now, the new wrinkle, the state's "security risks" lead them to announce that "after careful consideration," they "will not authorize the release of the GEMS database or audit files" after all.

"Delivery of the database itself, and some of the information contained within this database," says the letter from Davis, "presents numerous security risks to the State of Alaska Government."

We couldn't make this stuff up if we tried.

So just to recap: First the voters of Alaska were not allowed to see their own voting data from the 2004 Election because it was the proprietary "company secret" property of Diebold. Then they would be allowed to see it as long as the state and Diebold could "manipulate the data" before releasing it. And now finally it's determined that allowing the voters to see how they actually voted in the 2004 Election would be a "security risk" to the state of Alaska.

No word yet on whether the Alaska Democratic Party will take the matter to court to seek resolution.

The American War on Democracy continues...

(Hat-tip to VoteTrustUSA.org for the heads up and additional information!)

* * *

UPDATE 4/18/06: The insane roller coaster continues. State Democrats are forced to file a lawsuit to get at the records showing how voters voted in 2004. Details now here...

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Waives 'Proprietary Rights' to Public Voting Data Files...Though Reserves the Right to 'Manipulate the Data' Before Release!
PLUS: CEO Swidarski Works the AP PR Rope Line and Suggests Diebold's Election Division May Be For Sale, While Both AP and 'USA Today' Get the Story Wrong --- Again --- in Their Continuing Efforts on Behalf of America's Electronic Voting Machine Companies...
By Brad Friedman on 2/7/2006 2:47pm PT  

Good news (perhaps) regarding our previous story on Diebold's refusal to allow the voters of Alaska to look at their own voting data since the Electronic Voting Machine vendor claimed the file format of their GEMS tabulation software was a "company secret" in their contract with the state.

But now, according to a letter from Alaska's Election Officials, published at BlackBoxVoting.org from Alaska's election authorities, "Diebold has agreed to waive its proprietary rights to the GEMS database files."

That apparent capitulation by the Voting Machine Company may set a precedent with wider implications for other states and counties seeking access to such data and other forms of transparency in public elections. See the BBV link above for more thoughts on some of the possibilities.

That said, there is still reason to be cautious about this news for a number of reasons. Note the following --- almost incredible wording --- from the published letter [emphasis ours]...

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

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Contract with State said to Bar Release of 'Company Secrets' Such as Records of Who Citizens Actually Voted For
Democratic Official: 'It's impossible to say whether the correct candidates were declared the winner in all Alaska races from 2004'
By Brad Friedman on 1/24/2006 2:39pm PT  

In just one more story which illustrates the many undemocratic dangers of allowing private companies to "own" our public elections, Diebold, Inc., one of America's largest Voting Machine Companies is currently blocking citizens in Alaska from viewing election data from the 2004 general election!

"All Alaska races from 2004" are now being questioned, said a Democratic party official in a written letter to the state Elections Director.

Questions have begun to arise about results from that election, including the reported revelation that "district-by-district vote totals add up to 292,267 votes for President Bush, but his official total was only 190,889."

The BRAD BLOG has obtained a copy of the letter sent yesterday by Jake Metcalfe, chair of the Alaska Democratic Party to Whitney Brewster of the Alaska Division of Elections. The letter responds to Brewster's refusal to supply the party with the requested data files and outlines a number of additional concerns about the reported 2004 election results.

The complete letter is available for download here [PDF].

Anchorage Daily News covers the emerging controversy today. Some highlights here [emphasis ours]:

The state Division of Elections has refused to turn over its electronic voting files to the Democrats, arguing that the data format belongs to a private company and can't be made public.

The Alaska Democratic Party says the information is a public record essential for verifying the accuracy of the 2004 general election and must be provided.

The official vote results from the last general election are riddled with discrepancies and impossible for the public to make sense of, the Democrats said Monday. A detailed analysis of the underlying data could answer lingering questions about an election many thought was over more than a year ago, they say.
...
At this point, it's impossible to say whether the correct candidates were declared the winner in all Alaska races from 2004, [Democratic spokeswoman, Kay] Brown said.

The private contractor hired to provide Alaska's electronic voting machines is Diebold Election Systems.
...
Diebold told the state it owns the format, which can't be released because it's a company secret.
...
[U]nder the state's contract with Diebold, that cannot be released, Brewster said.

Never mind, of course, that Diebold's "company secret" has been available for download from the Internet for years, since the company --- who claims to specialize in security solutions --- left the information sitting unprotected on a public download site.

The full story is here...

(Hat tip to our friend Peter B. Collins of KRXA 540-am in Monterey, CA for the lead!)

* * *

UPDATE 2/7/06: Alaska capitulates...sort of. Details now here...

ReddIt this story!



By Brad Friedman on 9/17/2004 3:36pm PT  
Alaska Supreme Court OK's marijuana use

Juneau, AK, Sep. 15 (UPI) --- The state Supreme Court has affirmed the rights of Alaskan adults to possess four ounces of marijuana for personal use in the home.

The ruling lets stand a Court of Appeals' August 2003 decision that determined a ballot initiative passed by voters in 1990 outlawing any amount of the drug to be unconstitutional.
...
Alaska is the 12th state to decriminalize the personal use of the drug.

At this time, the Bush/Ashcroft Justice Dept. believes Federal Big Government trumps States Rights and the Choice of the Voters in these matters.

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