Still running from one thing to another today, so only the briefest coverage here for now, on two very important points (and even victories!) today...
w/ Brad & Desi
NATIONWIDE STUDY FINDS ALMOST NO VOTER FRAUD
Just 10 cases of in-person impersonation in all 50 states since 2000...
VIDEO: 'Rise of the Tea Bags'
Brad interviews American patriots...
'Democracy's Gold Standard'
Hand-marked, hand-counted ballots...
GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal 2012...
The Secret Koch Brothers Tapes...
|MORE BRAD BLOG 'SPECIAL COVERAGE' PAGES...|
Still running from one thing to another today, so only the briefest coverage here for now, on two very important points (and even victories!) today...
We've been reporting on the GOP's October "Surprise" over the last few days (challenges to Democratic voter registrations in a number of states, and, perhaps more notably, their bogus PR campaign to charge that ACORN, a community organization that heroically registers millions of low-income voters who nobody else bothers to, is committing "voter fraud." See here, here and here, for example.)
But the November Surprise, as we've been trying to warn for many months (if not years), will undoubtedly be the thousands who show up to the polls to vote on November 4th, only to find out that they have somehow "fallen off" the voter rolls.
We've urged folks to check their registrations, even if they recently voted in a primary election, to make sure they haven't been purged (info on how to do that quickly in all 50 states, right here).
Late last month, CBS News reported on voter purges occurring in at least 19 states across the country, many of them swing states, naturally.
Today, the New York Times has published a scathing report, based on a detailed investigation revealing that "Tens of thousands of eligible voters in at least six swing states have been removed from the rolls or have been blocked from registering in ways that appear to violate federal law."
We've got to run out to host an hour of "Election Year Special Coverage" right now on KPFK/Pacifica, (guests to include filmmakers Patty Sharaf of Murder, Spies & Voting Lies: The Clint Curtis Story and John Ennis of Free For All!: One Dude's Quest for Democracy), so here are some very notable, must-read excerpts from the Times full report for the moment. So, we may have more thoughts on all of this later today, but for now, please read on!...
In today’s featured article the Brennan Center for Justice and the Advancement Project have reported that thousands of Florida voters may be disenfranchised by a last minute decision by the Secretary of State, Kurt Browning, to enforce a “no match, no vote” law. “No match, no vote” essentially says that if a voters name or information on their registration does not exactly match their name or information on their ID they cannot vote or they can vote a provisional ballot and take the same ID to the county election office after the election to prove they are who they say they are.
"This 11th-hour decision is an ill-advised move to apply a policy the state has never enforced in its current form, at a time when registration activity is at its highest," stated Beverlye Neal, director of the Florida State Conference of the NAACP, a plaintiff in a lawsuit that challenges Florida's matching law. "The Secretary's decision will put thousands of real Florida citizens at risk due to bureaucratic typos that under the 'no-match, no-vote' law will prevent them from voting this November," said Alvaro Fernandez of the Southwest Voter Registration and Education Project, another plaintiff in the case.
"Voters who do everything right, who submit forms that are complete, timely, and accurate, will suddenly find themselves unregistered when they go to vote, just because someone somewhere punched the wrong letter on a keyboard," said Myrna Pérez, counsel at the Brennan Center for Justice. "The no match, no vote policy is unjust and unnecessary, and Florida voters will pay the price this fall," stated Jean-Robert Lafortune, president of the Haitian-American Grassroots Coalition, another plaintiff in the lawsuit...
-- Brad Friedman
Last night we offered the quick skinny on the abrupt resignation of Colorado's state Election Director, Holly Lowder, just 60 days out from what promises to be one of the largest and most important --- and potentially closest --- elections in the state's history.
We summarized some of the dizzying background on the exceptionally embarrassing and dysfunctional state of certification, decertification and recertification of e-voting systems in the Centennial State over the last two years, under current Sec. of State, Republican Mike Coffman (who is overseeing his own election for the U.S. House this November), and in previous years under two former Republican SoS' (one of whom was promoted by George W. Bush to do the same lousy job of e-vote testing for the U.S. Election Assistance Commission).
We also suggested, based on information from sources in the states, that the old euphemism about "election officials being in bed with voting vendors" may well become more than just a euphemism when the full explanation for Lowder's sudden departure became known.
And today, as we'd hinted last night, some of that information has now become known...
Those conspiracy theorists over at Scientific American just refuse to move on and get over it.
Here's the latest headline from those whackos: "Planning to E-Vote? Read This First", subtitled "With less than three months before the presidential election, the hotly contested state, Ohio, along with others, continue to have problems with E-voting technology."
The tin-foil hatters over there (so-called scientists) have the temerity to report stuff like this:
What next? Aliens sending anthrax letters?
Addendum: To those who didn't get it, yes, my comments above about "conspiracy theorists" were, in fact, satirical. The SA article is right on target, a must-read, and concurs with virtually everything we've been trying to get across here on The BRAD BLOG for about 4 years straight. Even as we, ironically, were tarred by the democracy-haters as "conspiracy theorists". Hope that clarifies.
Guest blogged by John Washburn
I have been a long time critic of the federal 2002 Voting System Standards (2002 VSS) and of the 2005 Voluntary Voting System Guidelines (2005 VVSG). In fact, both sets of standards are virtually worthless. There are two reasons for this. First, the requirements enumerated in the standards are, in and of themselves, much too weak for something as vital as administering an election. Second, both sets of standards have an explicit loophole that allows almost all the requirements — weak as they are — to be ignored. This second objection was first brought to my attention two years ago by Howard Stanislevic.
We now have proof that this loophole is used by the labs in order to “pass” systems that don’t meet the standards. The proof is laid out clearly in the most recent certification test report submitted to the Election Assistance Commission (EAC) by SysTest labs (one of the labs accredited by the EAC and the National Institute of Standards and Technology - NIST). SysTest recommended certification for the new voting system by Premier Election Solutions (formerly Diebold) even though the lab's findings listed 79 specific failures to meet the standards.
As you read this article, keep in mind that the standards actually allow 77 of these 79 failures to be ignored!...
Reported by Brad Friedman, from the road...
The whistleblower lawsuit against voting machine company Hart InterCivic, as filed in federal court on behalf of former employee William Singer, has been withdrawn following a decision by the Supreme Court that makes pursuing the case nearly impossible, according to the law firm who originally filed the complaint.
The suit had been sealed for nearly two years as the Dept. of Justice asked for extension after extension during their decision on whether or not to join the case. Earlier this year, they ultimately decided not to join the case, as we reported last March, leaving the firm of Levin Papantonio Thomas Mitchell Echsner & Proctor, P.A to proceed on their own. The DoJ declines to join some 76% of such cases.
In the interim, while waiting for the DoJ, the case of Rockwell Intl Corp. v. U.S. [PDF] came before the U.S. Supreme Court, and the findings in that decision, as attorney Mike Papantonio told The BRAD BLOG, has "made it next to impossible to proceed with any and all federal whistleblower (qui tam) cases."
The decision found that Rockwell was required to pay millions of dollars under the federal False Claims Act to the federal government, but that the relator of the case --- the insider who blew the whistle --- was not entitled to any of that money, nor even for the millions of dollars accrued in legal costs since the amended complaint, filed with the Justice Dept., included information about which the relator did not have direct inside knowledge.
The SCOTUS finding, as expressed for the majority by Justice Antonin Scalia, may well hamstring future whistleblower cases in federal courts, according to legal experts.
"I used to think qui tam was the way to go," Papantonio told me as his firm was weighing their decision on how to proceed after the case was finally unsealed, "but now I just don't know anymore."
Papantonio's Florida law firm has used the qui tam laws successfully in the past, and has taken on giants such as the Tobacco Industry. After he and his radio partner Robert F. Kennedy Jr. had learned about Singer's case from The BRAD BLOG --- we originally reported Singer's extraordinary saga back in early 2006 --- they decided to launch the federal fraud suit on his behalf later that year.
(I was interviewed about the withdrawal of the federal case by Mike Papantonio for this weekend's Ring of Fire radio program, which he co-hosts with Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.. A video version of the interview is also posted on their GoLeft.TV site. Both versions are now posted in full at the end of this article.)
Though the attorneys working on the case have gone out of their way to express their faith in both Singer and his remarkable complaint --- detailing more than 40 federal fraud allegations, and accusing Hart of doctoring voting machines, covering up system failures, including the loss and miscounting of votes, and other malfeasance, in order to attain contracts and payment under the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) of 2002 --- the chance that millions of dollars spent pursuing the case might be unrecoverable at the end of the process, even if successful, in light of the Rockwell decision, forced them to withdraw the complaint from federal court...
Last week I reported in great detail that four out of the twelve votes I'd cast on my ballot on L.A. County's e-voting system, during California's state primary on June 3rd, were flipped to candidates that I hadn't voted for. The ES&S InkaVote Plus system printed my ballot incorrectly.
I was voting on the audio ballot voting system meant primarily for blind and visually-impaired voters. Had I not been able to inspect my ballot visually after it had printed --- for example, had I been blind --- I would never have known that I was about to cast votes for candidates that I had not selected.
Because the "disabled-accessible" e-voting system at my own precinct was not working, again, for the second election in a row, I was told I'd have to cast a provisional ballot on the "disabled-accessible" e-voting system at the other "precinct," in the same polling place, in the same room, as my own "precinct."
The machine had been down all day, and nobody had come out to replace or repair it, even though the county had been called early in the day and told about the problem. Last election, on Super Tuesday, the machine was also broken, and none of the poll workers would touch it, due to exposed wires.
This time, despite asking to vote in a specific party's open primary, I was given a non-partisan audio ballot to compound the fiasco when I tried to vote provisionally on the other "precinct's" e-voting system that was up and running, even though not a single voter had used it in either this, or the previous election.
The voting went smoothly enough --- even if it took 20 minutes to move through the short audio ballot, shorter than usual because it was a state primary, and because I wasn't allowed to vote in partisan races for some reason --- at least until it misprinted my selections, which I had confirmed as correct while actually moving through the audio selections.
Luckily, after noticing that the e-voting system had printed my ballot incorrectly, I was allowed to VOID that ballot, and this time chose to vote on a regular, hand-marked paper ballot instead. My hand filled in the ballot far more accurately than the computer did.
That night, I alerted officials at the CA Sec. of State's office and L.A. County's acting Registrar of Voters, Dean Logan, about the problem, and the machines and ballots in question were isolated for testing. Whether someone who wasn't a loud, muckracking journalist, specializing in issues of election integrity, would have had that kind of quick service, I can't tell you.
Logan promised the machine would be tested, and the SoS office promised to follow the testing closely.
Earlier this week, Logan sent me an update via email, with photos, on what the investigation had so far found. The problem, Logan wrote, is being attributed to the "human error" of the poll workers who, he says, entered incorrect information into the e-voting system when setting up my ballot for me to vote.
Logan's complete email, detailing the findings of the cursory investigation to date, follows below, along with my email in response to it. As you'll see, the all-too de rigueur "human error" excuse does not sit well with me...
-- Brad Friedman, The BRAD BLOG
As a fairly well-known Election Integrity journalist who has personally covered, for years, the myriad election woes of thousands (if not millions) of voters around the country who have tried to bring seemingly endless stories of votes flipped on e-voting systems to the attention of officials, these stories always continue to be remarkable to me, even if not to many others in the rest of the mainstream media.
It's even more troubling when one realizes that so little ever seems to be done in light of so many of these horror stories, as those very same failed systems are still deployed across the nation, with little or no modification to correct the mountains of documented problems even now, as we head towards an election likely to be of historic proportions this November.
What follows is yet another one of those stories, where a voter had vote selections flipped by the electronic voting system, such that candidates were chosen other than the ones intended to be selected by the voter, though no fault of his own.
But this time, the voter is me.
Though I've covered so many of these stories, it was nonetheless remarkable to see it happen before ones very eyes, as occurred yesterday when I voted here in Los Angeles during our very low turnout California state Primary election.
The ES&S electronic voting system that I used to try to vote on yesterday, ended up flipping a total of 4 out of the 12 contests and initiatives for which I had attempted to vote.
Right before my very eyes, the computer-printed ballot produced by the voting system I was using, incorrectly filled in bubbles for four of the races I was voting in. Had I not been incredibly careful, after the ballot was printed out, to painstakingly compare what was printed to what I actually voted for, I'd have never known my votes were being given to candidates I did not vote for.
Had I been a blind voter --- as the system I was using is largely intended for use by the disabled --- I would have cast my ballot without having a clue that a full 40% of the votes I'd tried to cast for various California Superior Court judges were flipped to other candidates...
I don't mind admitting it. For an Election Integrity journalist, HBO's Recount is pure pornography. Anticipation for Sunday's Memorial Day premiere showing was at the top of last weekend's holiday agenda. And the excitement grew still more late Friday when the good folks of PDA Florida made my week (my month? my year? my last
four eight years?) by sending me an actual Palm Beach County "CES Votomatic III" voting booth, one which they tell me was among the 24 used in HBO's film itself.
Since I have a very difficult time paying the bills around here --- contrary to popular opinion, election integrity blogging isn't the windfall it might otherwise appear --- perhaps I'll consider the kind gift a reward for my too-many years on this beat. Though perhaps my consolation prize would be a better way to look at it.
When I first opened it, actual chads (HBO's film advises the plural of "chad" is actually "chad") from the 2000 election spilled out of the machine all over the office floor. The gods of democracy and the goddess of the Butterfly Ballot were taunting me. I rather enjoyed it. I learned long ago that I'd have little choice.
So it was with great anticipation that I sat down on Sunday night to watch the film as it premiered, along with the "Diebold Document Whistleblower" (and my new colleague at VelvetRevolution.us) Steven Heller and his wife, and Robert Carillo Cohen, one of the filmmakers of HBO's landmark documentary, the Emmy-nominated Hacking Democracy which enjoyed a re-airing earlier in the day, as the cable net set the stage for its newest democracy thriller/heart-breaker, Recount.
None of us, including Heller, who anticipated hating the fictionalized re-telling of America's crushing democratic abortion of 2000, would be disappointed...
Last week our friends, voting rights attorney John Bonifaz of VoterAction.org and Greg Moore of the NAACP National Voter Fund, testified at a U.S. House Administrative Committee hearing on the 2008 Presidential Primaries and Caucuses and "What we've learned so far."
What we've learned, as Bonifaz explained in his opening statement (written version here [PDF], full video at the end of this article) is that "jurisdictions across the country are increasingly outsourcing, to private vendors, key election functions, and in the process, compromising the transparency and public control of our elections."
While all of that is likely old hat, by now, to readers of The BRAD BLOG, where our hair has been on fire about same for many years now, there was an interesting moment during the Q&A with a Republican congressman and panelists Moore and Bonifaz, as seen in the very short exchange (just under two minutes) in the video clip posted above left.
The Congressman --- at least momentarily --- stepped off the GOP reservation, to admit that the private corporations that fail in their outsourced election duties "should be fired"...
-- By Brad Friedman and John Gideon
New Jersey's Department of State, which at the beginning of this month took over all state-wide election duties from the state Attorney General's office, may be celebrating its new duties by sipping down a few glasses of Sequoia Voting Systems-flavored kool-aid in regards to the continuing saga of the Sequoia AVC Advantage touch-screen voting systems which failed during, and after, the state's Super Tuesday primary.
In a press release issued late last week --- which Sequoia was all too happy to selectively feature on its website --- the NJ Dept. of State made a couple of curious, and indeed misleading, announcements. Among them:
That, despite the finding of a NJ judge last Tuesday declaring that failed voting machines in some six different counties were to be subpoenaed by plaintiffs and subjected to mandatory independent review in order to determine the reason why at least sixty machines reported voter totals on their end-of-day paper tapes which disagreed with the internal numbers reported by the machines.
After the judge's order last week, Sequoia quickly moved to try and quash the subpeonas [PDF, 82 pages], despite the fact that they are not actually a party to the long-running court battle between the state of NJ and citizen plaintiffs suing them in hopes of getting rid of the touch-screen systems altogether (or, in lieu of that, have paper-trail printers added to them).
As Pennsylvania prepares to use the very same flawed Sequoia AVC Advantage voting machines in next week's crucial primary, we've tried to sort out what is --- and isn't --- going on in this New Jersey mess. We've also tried to determine who is reading the disputed paper tapes correctly, since a Princeton scientist seems to read them one way, while the SoS office and two of the NJ counties (which had originally read them as the Princeton Prof did) have suddenly decided to read them another way.
What we can tell you indisputably, however, is that if it's debatable as to what those paper tapes actually say, then those voting systems are in violation of the federal law which mandates "a permanent paper record with a manual audit capacity" that "shall be available as an official record." If there's a question about what the "paper record" from each machine actually says, than it certainly can't be used as an "official record" for auditing purposes.
To sort out the mess, we've touched base with the plaintiff's attorney in the case, as well as with the NJ SoS. Sequoia's spokesperson, VP and part-owner (for the moment) Michelle Shafer, on the other hand, doesn't seem to want to talk to us anymore for some reason...
Guest blogged by Ellen Theisen, VotersUnite.Org
Over two years ago, the U.S. Justice Department filed a lawsuit against New York State to force the state to comply with the federal requirement to equip every polling place with voting systems that are accessible to people with disabilities, as mandated by the Help America Vote Act of 2002 (HAVA).
Meanwhile, the DoJ has taken no action at all to stop any state from using voting equipment that has been proven to violate HAVA’s requirement for accurate vote-counting.
While it's important for every citizen, disabled or not, to be able to vote privately, a private vote is meaningless if that vote is not counted accurately. Despite the equal weight HAVA gave to both important mandates, the federal requirement for accurate vote-counting is being wholly ignored by the states, and even the federal government.
Two recent incidents which have been making headlines --- in New Jersey and Ohio --- illustrate clear, undeniable violations of the federal accuracy requirement. They are impossible to deny or ignore. For the moment, however, federal officials are doing exactly that...
After virtually ignoring the issue for some six straight years, our hometown newspaper, The Los Angeles Times, has run a two-part, 2,800-word "series" on concerns about voting machines, right on schedule, just in time to do absolutely no good at all before next week's upcoming Tsunami Tuesday election in the state. Waytago, LATimes!
The series reports absolutely nothing that has not already been reported over the last several years here at The BRAD BLOG, which is why the LATimes folks makes the big bucks and we don't.
They do, however, include an important point at the very end of the second article, in quoting from one of the country's most notable long-time voting machine apologists, Kimball Brace...
Guest Blogged by Alan Breslauer
According to a NewsHour report, some county election officials in California believe that changes ordered by Secretary of State Debra Bowen, including decertifying some voting machines, may put the integrity of upcoming elections in jeopardy. Seriously. This despite Bowen's explanation for her actions:
Steve Weir, an election official from Contra Costa County, explains why election officials are concerned with Bowen's directives not to use some newly purchased machines:
However, Stanford professor David Dill backs Bowen and proclaims, "It seems that there is almost a national consensus that we have a serious problem". Dan Ashby, of the Election Defense Alliance, agrees that the use of voting machines is a dangerous endeavor:
Voting machines pose another, often overlooked, problem beyond the technical problems most often associated with such machines. Mainly, voting machines have led to a vast public distrust of elections. According to Bowen, the lack of trust in voting machines has caused people to "check out and not participate" and is thus, "a major threat to democracy".
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