As usual, we'll be BradCasting LIVE tonight from 9pm-Mid ET (6p-9p PT), coast-to-coast and around the globe from L.A.'s KTLK am1150 in beautiful downtown Burbank. Join us by tuning in, chatting in, Tweeting in and calling in! Our LIVE chat room will be up and rolling right here at The BRAD BLOG, as usual, while we are on the air. Please stop by and join the fun while you're listening! (The Chat Room will open, at the bottom of this item, a few minutes before airtime, see down below, just above "Comments" section.)
The Mike Malloy Show is nationally syndicated on air affiliates across the country and on SiriusXM Ch. 127. You may also listen online to the free LIVE audio stream at our Sante Fe affiliate KTRC 1260, or our Minnesota affiliate KTNF 950 (tell them you're from "Minnesota" when asked). Also, you should be able to listen live at WhiteRose Society if the radio gods are with us.
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POST-SHOW UPDATE: Fun show tonight, but you be the judge! Commercial-free audio archives are all now posted below for your listening pleasure (as are the chat room archives). See ya tomorrow night, for our final night in for Malloy this week!...
For two weeks since Election Day, we have been working to ensure every vote is counted accurately and fairly. We have made progress towards that goal, thanks to the dedication of our supporters and their unrelenting efforts to protect the integrity of the democratic process. While many questions remain unanswered, today I am announcing that I will take no further action to contest the outcome of this election.
While there are certainly still inaccuracies in the results, and the actions of the St. Lucie County and Palm Beach County Supervisors of Elections rightly raise questions in my mind and for many voters, after much analysis and this past weekend's recount in St. Lucie County, our legal team does not believe there are enough over-counted, undercounted or fraudulent votes to change the outcome of the election.
While a contest of the election results might have changed the vote totals, we do not have evidence that the outcome would change. Given the extremely high evidentiary hurdles involved in a successful challenge, I will not ask my generous supporters to help fund a drawn-out, expensive legal effort with little chance of success. Therefore, we will not contest the certification or challenge the seating of Congressman-elect Murphy.
Serving the people in the House of Representatives has been among the highest honors of my life, but this seat does not belong to me, or for that matter, to any individual. It belongs to the people.
I want to congratulate my opponent, Patrick Murphy, as the new Congressman from the 18th Congressional District. I pray he will serve his constituents with honor and integrity, and put the interests of our nation before his own.
With West's concession, however, there are still a few points to keep in mind moving forward...
It was a crazy weekend --- and that may be an understatement --- in St. Lucie County, Florida, as the fight continued over the questionable, completely unverified-by-humans, and extremely close computer-reported election results between Rep. Allen West (R) and Patrick Murphy (D) in the U.S. House race for Florida's 18th Congressional District.
Two things, if nothing else however, have become clear. 1) The Florida Democrats supporting the unverified computer-tallied results, which reportedly offer a slim margin in Murphy's favor, have become virtually indistinguishable from the Republicans who supported George W. Bush over Al Gore in the state during the 2000 Presidential Election debacle, and for the same, unjustifiable and partisan reasons. 2) Allen West has terrible and incompetent election attorneys.
Here's a recap of all that has happened --- and there has been quite a bit --- over the weekend, since we last covered the race on Friday, just after a St. Lucie Circuit Court judge denied West's motion demanding a retabulation of all eight days of Early Voting ballots in the county and just before the county's Canvassing Board took up the same issue shortly thereafter in what became a seven hour meeting of the board to determine how to proceed.
(And all of that in the wake of a previous partial retally of three out of eight days worth of early votes had resulted in the unexplained disappearance of some 800 votes when the same paper ballots were run through the same machines a second time due to unexplained "issues" with the electronic tabulation systems the first time around. That initial re-tally had resulted in a net gain of some 500 votes by West.)
The insane weekend events included a two-day machine "retabulation" of all Early Voting ballots in St. Lucie (one of three counties, along with Martin and Palm Beach, that make up FL-18); the discovery of more than 300 previously-untallied early ballots in the same county; new computer-reported tallies resulting in pick-ups by both candidates, for an overall gain of nearly 300 votes by the current leader Murphy; and a County Supervisor of Elections who ended up spending the weekend in the hospital...
A Circuit Court Judge in St. Lucie County today denied Florida's Republican Rep. Allen West's motion to order a re-tally of all Early Voting ballots in the county, after a partial re-tally of Early Votes last Sunday resulted in the disappearance of some 800 votes in the FL-18 U.S. House race between West and Democratic challenger Patrick Murphy.
It the second denial for West, a "Tea Party" favorite, in a Florida court room, where he had previously filed a motion to impound paper ballots and voting systems before all ballots had even yet been run through them.
"In denying West's motion," the paper said, "Vaughn noted the [St. Lucie County] canvassing board is considering the issue at a meeting this afternoon. The judge also said that West has other legal remedies - specifically mentioning a statute that allows a candidate to contest an election within 10 days of the final certification of results. That certification is scheduled for Tuesday."
Murphy's attorney argued in response that there was "no basis for a full recount of early votes and if the canvassing board orders a full recount of them, the Murphy campaign will go to court to try to block it."
"If the canvassing board were to decide that they want to do that without any evidentiary basis to do so, we'll be back before your honor with a motion for injunctive relief against them doing it because under the law the statute that we cited for your honor they have absolutely no right to do it," the Post quotes Murphy attorney Gerald Richman as arguing in court today.
No "evidentiary basis"? Really? A partial selection of ballots --- just the last three days of eight days of Early Voting --- are re-tallied by the same machines that tallied them originally, but give a completely different result the second time they are tallied and that isn't "evidentiary basis" for re-tallying all of the votes? If that isn't a basis for a full public hand-count of all ballots, I'm not sure what is. Unfortunately, without a court order, thanks to the state's Republican legislature following the 2000 Presidential Election debacle in that state, it's illegal to hand-count paper ballots once they've been tallied by an electronic machine.
[Update: See bottom of story for update on what happened at the canvassing board on Friday, and much more!]
I was on Thom Hartmann's TV show, The Big Picture, last night to discuss the FL-18 U.S. House mess where West currently trails Murphy by a very slim margin, according to oft-failed, easily-manipulated, paper ballot optical-scan computers made by three different private companies in the three different counties that make up Florida's newly redistricted 18th Congressional District.
As we've covered in detail here at The BRAD BLOG, a margin of some 2,400 votes out of some 330,000 votes tallied as of last Friday was dwindled down to just under 2,000 votes as of last Sunday when St. Lucie County --- one of the three, along with Martin and Palm Beach Counties, that make up FL-18 --- carried out a partial re-tally of Early Voting ballots due, they say, to an unexplained "issue" on the Diebold optical-scan systems used to tally those ballots in the county.
Nonetheless, at this time, West is still some 250 votes shy of a mandated state "recount" which is triggered when the margin is .5% or less. Currently, the margin is just eight one-hundredths of a percentage point shy of that mark, at .58%, with West having filed his court for an expanded re-tally of all Early Voting ballots in St. Lucie earlier this week. While his court motion had called for a full re-tally of all Early Votes in St. Lucie, the motion failed to request a re-tally of either Election Day votes, absentee ballots or any of the ballots in FL-18's other two counties, for unexplained reasons (the West campaign has not replied to our queries on that) as we also discussed on Hartmann's show...
West did file an amended complaint this morning before the hearing, seeking a re-tally of absentee ballots in St. Lucie as well, after the campaign claimed they had found "significant problems" with the records for some of those votes, charging that the number of absentee ballots in some precincts exceeds the number of voters listed as casting absentee ballots there...
A court hearing has been set for Friday in St. Lucie County, Florida, to hear arguments by Republican Rep. Allen West, who is now seeking a recount of all Early Voting ballots cast in the county.
Over the weekend, some 800 votes simply appear to have vanished from the tally in Florida's 18th District razor-thin U.S. House race between West and his Democratic opponent Patrick Murphy (D), after an unexplained partial re-tally of ballots cast during the last three days of Florida's eight days of Early Voting in the county, one of three that make up the new FL-18.
With very good reason, West is demanding that all Early Voting ballots be re-tallied in St. Lucie, on the heels of the unexplained "issues" with memory cards in the Diebold electronic optical-scan tabulators that county officials cited vaguely as the reason for Sunday's partial re-tally.
Where the extreme and extremely controversial West and his supporters have claimed the election is being "stolen" on behalf of Murphy --- a claim for which we are aware of no actual evidence --- The BRAD BLOG has now twice reported in great detail (first here and then here) on the oft-failed, easily-manipulated electronic systems, made by three different companies, in each of the three different counties (St. Lucie, Martin, and Palm Beach) that now constitute FL-18.
Why West has failed to demand a full hand-count of all ballots, in all three counties, as opposed to just the Early Voting ballots in St. Lucie, is a question that West's campaign has yet to resolve for us. Our queries to the campaign, to date, have gone unanswered.
Whether a hand-count, versus another machine count by the same faulty machines, is even allowable in Florida, remains to be seen, since the state's Republican-majority legislature, following the 2000 Presidential Election debacle in the state, insanely mandated that paper ballots, once tallied by a computer, could not be examined by hand.
A mandatory "recount" (a re-tally by the same machines) is required in Florida when the margin between the two top candidates is 0.5% or less. The margin in FL-18 is now just 249 votes shy of that threshold.
Given that 800 votes seem to have simply disappeared without explanation --- Murphy lost 667 and West lost 132 votes during Sunday's partial re-tally, decreasing Murphy's lead over West by 535 votes in a race where just 1,907 votes (out of some 330,000 votes cast), or 0.58%, now separate the two --- and given that the different tally occurred while re-scanning the very same ballots on the very same machines, it's almost beyond comprehension that both parties, at this point, aren't calling for a full, public hand-count of all paper ballots in all three counties in hopes of determining who really won and who really lost the race.
At this point, who knows if the machines were right the first time they tallied the same ballots, or the second time they tallied the same ballots, or, for that matter, either of the times they tallied the same ballots? Anybody else without a partisan dog in this hunt, other than us, beginning to see the problem here?...
While we've been watching the situation, and talking about it on radio over the past week, here at The BRAD BLOG we've yet to have time to cover what's going on in Arizona --- most acutely in Maricopa County (Phoenix) --- where some half a million ballots remain untallied a week after the election when many Hispanic voters who thought they were registered to vote, were directed to cast a provisional ballot instead...for some reason.
Under Arizona law, those voters have until Wednesday to show up to the County Clerk's office with ID to prove they are who they said they were when they cast their ballots last week. The approximately 486,405 uncounted ballots across the state include 307,620 early ballots and 178,785 provisionals. That's 1 out of 4 ballots cast across the state still not included in the results, to date.
In the bargain, a whole bunch of Arizona races --- including their U.S. Senate race, a number of U.S. House races, and several state and local races --- remain officially "undecided" at the moment and/or could see their currently announced "winners" become losers.
The DoJ's Civil Rights Division, according to TPM, may, or may not, be keeping their eyes on the situation there.
The Hispanic community in the state, thankfully, is not taking this one sitting down...especially not after standing in line for hours just to cast their vote, or, in this case, provisional ballots that may or may not be counted. They have been surrounding the Maricopa County Clerk's office in a 24 hour vigil, and phone-banking to call those who were forced to vote provisionally, to let them know they need to get back to the Clerk's office ASAP to try and assure their vote actually gets counted.
This is among the darkest sides of the GOP's War on Democracy that we've been covering all year (for many years, actually) and the shameful battle continues at this hour. We may have more details in the days ahead (on this, and other uncounted ballots and undecided races in other states as well), but, for now, Rachel Maddow did a great overview on MSNBC last night, of the assault on democracy currently being played out in Arizona...
On Sunday, election officials in St. Lucie County, Florida re-tallied votes from the last three days of Early Voting, citing what county officials described cryptically as "an issue with the memory cards that record the ballots when they're fed through the machines originally."
Among the races which saw a partial re-tally of paper ballots, as they were sent through the same optical-scan systems which scanned them the first time, was the contentious and very close U.S. House race in Florida's new 18th Congressional district. As The BRAD BLOG reported in detail late last week, Democratic candidate Patrick Murphy was said to have been leading Republican Rep. Allen West in the race by a very slim margin --- just .78% at the time --- after initial Election Day tallies in all three counties which comprise the new district. The extreme and often extremely controversial, far Rightwing West currently represents Florida's 22nd District, but is now running in the new, redistricted 18th.
Following Sunday's re-tally, both candidates reportedly lost votes. West lost 132 votes while Murphy lost an extraordinary 667, for an overall pickup by West of some 535 votes.
On Friday, Murphy was said to have been leading West --- whose attorneys have already been in court, unsuccessfully demanding that voting systems and paper ballots be immediately impounded --- by just 2,456 votes out of approximately 318,000 tallied at the time.
After Sunday's partial re-tally, Murphy is still said to be leading West, according to the Florida Division of Elections website, but by just 1,907 votes. The current .58% margin of difference puts West just barely outside of the .5% margin that would trigger an automatic "recount" (albeit by the same faulty machines) in the state of Florida.
In our report on Friday, supporting West's demand for a hand-count of all paper ballots in the race, we detailed the three different electronic tabulation systems used in each of the counties --- St. Lucie, Martin and Palm Beach --- which now comprise FL-18, and how each of those systems have a long track record for failure during elections, mistallies and the ability to be easily manipulated by both hackers and election insiders alike.
Following the partial re-tally on Sunday, West's attorneys and supporters were predictably outraged and claiming, without presenting any actual evidence to support them, that "liberals" and/or St. Lucie's Supervisor of Elections Gertrude Walker, a Democrat, was attempting to "steal" the race...
Last Saturday, we told you about a rare case of polling place voter fraud, when a Republican voter attempted to vote twice in Nevada during Early Voting in the state. Appropriately enough, she was quickly arrested and taking into custody by the FBI. Nevada's system of preventing double-voting at the polls worked well and efficiently, it seems, despite the woman's deluded, disinformed, Fox "News"-fueled belief to the contrary.
Now, however, 56-year old Roxanne Rubin, the woman who was arrested when she showed up for work at the Riviera hotel-casino last Friday for her attempted voter fraud, is reportedly claiming that she was just "testing" the system.
And she's not the only one. On Election Day, another Republican, this one a party-trained poll watcher, was detained in New Mexico after claiming to have been "testing" the system by obtaining a second ballot.
Ironically, after years of false allegations of "Democratic voter fraud" by the GOP and their minions, it has been Republicans this year who have been found defrauding the system in state after state, in case after case. They are failing their own "test"...
Well, imagine that, the very first reported fraud of Election Day 2012 appears to have been committed by the supposedly anti-fraud, Rightwing "election integrity" group, True the Vote, in Ohio. Their election observers poll-challengers, as Plunderbund reports, "will not be allowed in Franklin County polling locations" today after they appear to have forged signatures of their very own volunteers...
This seems to be the first official video of touch-screen vote-flipping 2012, reportedly captured today in Pennsylvania, where elected officials so disrespect their own voters that they still force almost all of them to vote on these 100% unverifiable systems...
I initially selected Obama but Romney was highlighted. I assumed it was being picky so I deselected Romney and tried Obama again, this time more carefully, and still got Romney. Being a software developer, I immediately went into troubleshoot mode. I first thought the calibration was off and tried selecting Jill Stein to actually highlight Obama. Nope. Jill Stein was selected just fine. Next I deselected her and started at the top of Romney's name and started tapping very closely together to find the 'active areas'. From the top of Romney's button down to the bottom of the black checkbox beside Obama's name was all active for Romney. From the bottom of that same checkbox to the bottom of the Obama button (basically a small white sliver) is what let me choose Obama. Stein's button was fine. All other buttons worked fine.
Of course, this same sort of thing has happened every single election since 100% unverifiable touch-screen voting was forced on Americans ten years ago or so, but when it was first heavily reported by Democrats as having happened in 2004 all across the country, Republicans (and elections officials of all parties) called them "conspiracy theorists" and sore losers. Here's just a couple of examples caught on video from 2008. I've even written an entire chapter for Sonoma University's Project Censored book, Censored 2010, about the largely unreported nationwide vote-flipping epidemic during the 2008 election.
This year, it's been the Republicans who have finally decided, wisely, to be concerned about it. Last week, the GOP sent a letter [PDF] to top election officials in six different states, offering bad advice to them about what they should do, after a few unconfirmed complaints of touch-screen votes flipping from Romney to Obama were reported.
We've only seen a few reports of this, but don't necessarily doubt it. While, historically, most touch-screen votes flip away from Ds, we've seen reports of them flipping to Ds on a few occasions as well. Either way, these systems are 100% unverifiable (with or without a so-called paper trail print out, as some have) and should never be used in any American election. The GOP has sent their letter to Secretaries of State in NV, OH, KS, MO and CO, and the Executive Dir. of the Election Board in NC. Three of those folks are Ds, three are Rs. The letter requests that they "Make arrangements for additional technicians on Election Day in case of increased calibration problems." Of course, when machines flip votes, they should be taken out of service, not re-calibrated when they are in "Election Mode" and most sensitive to manipulation. The letter also foolishly asks for signs to be posted warning voters to "double-check that the voting machine properly recorded their vote", which is, with these sorts of machines, scientifically impossible.
Fortunately, it's being reported that the machine seen above has been taken out of service, rather than re-calibrated as so often happens, and as the GOP stupidly requested be done in such instances.
[Update: Mother Jones is now reporting that PA Dept of State officials are saying "they recalibrated the machine, did a test run, and put it back online." That's the dumbest thing they could do. Wonder who "fixed" it?]
All of that said, last night we offered several tips for voting today in ways that might help maximize the chances of your vote being counted and counted accurately. We included these quick tips on WHAT TO DO IF YOUR VOTE FLIPS ON A TOUCH-SCREEN MACHINE:
Earlier today, Brad Friedman reported in detail on the uncertified, "experimental" software patches that Ohio's Secretary of State Jon Husted (R) had secretly contracted [PDF] with Election Systems & Software, Inc. (ES&S) to create and install at the very last minute onto electronic central vote tabulation systems in 39 Ohio counties, encompassing more than 4 million Buckeye State voters.
We noted that Bob Fitrakis, one of the Ohio journalists at the Columbus Free Press who had initially broken the story late last week, was planning to file a legal complaint and temporary restraining order in hopes of blocking the use of the mysterious, untested software on the ES&S central tabulation systems in those counties.
Late tonight, just hours from the official opening of Election Day polls in the Buckeye State tomorrow, we obtained copies of both the complaint [PDF] and the motion for a temporary restraining order [PDF] which have now been filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio, Eastern Division and where oral argument has been scheduled for tomorrow morning, Election Day, at 9am local time before Judge Gregory L. Frost, a George W. Bush appointee...
Wow! We've got a new winner of the much sought, if incredibly rarely bestowed "BRAD BLOG Intellectually Honest Conservative Award!" It's so rarely bestowed, in fact, that it seems like several years since we've found anyone to bestow one upon for some odd reason...
Former John McCain 2008 presidential campaign adviser Steve Schmidt said in an interview Monday that voter fraud is not a serious problem in U.S. elections, despite conservatives' extensive talk of such a threat.
"It's part of the mythology now in the Republican Party that there's widespread voter fraud all across the country. In fact, there's not," Schmidt said on MSNBC
"And, so, I think that all of this stuff that has transpired over the last two years is in search of a solution to a problem --- voting fraud --- that doesn't really exist, when you look deeply at that question," Schmidt said.
Might have been nice if Schmidt had said something about this earlier, for example when his old boss, during a 2008 Presidential Debate falsely claimed that ACORN was "perpetrating one of the greatest frauds in voter history in this country, maybe destroying the fabric of democracy." Or when his party was on a tear passing purposely disenfranchising polling place Photo ID restriction laws in advance of this year's Presidential election.
Nonetheless, so desperate are we to find an Intellectually Honest Conservative out there somewhere, anywhere, that we'll even generously overlook all of that today and simply say: Congratulations, Mr. Schmidt! And thank you!
An Obama volunteer in Greene County reports some mysterious canvassing activity whereby people are coming by asking if the resident has voted and if not offering them the fraudulent ability to vote in their doorway via an iPad.
The story was relayed to us by Obama campaign volunteer Anita Dobrzelecki, who says she was calling committed Obama supporters to confirm they had voted. She reached a woman who said she had not, but that she “wanted to vote like my fiancée voted.”
When asked, the young woman said that a man came to her fiancée’s door and asked if he had voted. When he answered no, he was asked who he wanted to vote for. He answered Obama. The man at the door says “Great! You can do that right now” and presented an iPad with what looked like an electronic ballot. He made a selection and was told his vote was counted and he did not need to submit an absentee ballot or go to the polls.
We had heard a rumor of this kind of activity also happening in the Youngstown area, but there were very little details on that story and we’ve been unable to find anyone to talk to about it. The Youngstown story wasn’t fully consistent with this Greene County report as it included the marking of a paper type ballot and also included an “I Voted” sticker.
Plunderbund also offers additional smart advice on what to do in the event this may happen to you, including "getting as much information as possible about the person at your door. Ask for their identification and get a picture with your cell phone if you can."
Last week, Bob Fitrakis and Gerry Bello at FreePress.org reported an important story concerning what they described as "uncertified 'experimental' software patches" being installed at the last minute on electronic vote tabulation systems in 39 Ohio counties which service more than 4 million voters Buckeye State voters.
The story included a copy of the contract [PDF] between Republican Ohio Sec. of State Jon Husted's office and ES&S, the nation's largest e-voting system manufacturer, for a new, last minute piece of software created to the custom specifications of the Sec. of State. The contract itself describes the software as "High-level enhancements to ES&S' election reporting software that extend beyond the current features and functionality of the software to facilitate a custom-developed State Election Results Reporting File."
A subsequent story at The Free Press the following day included text said to be from a November 1 memo sent from the OH SoS Election Counsel Brandi Laser Seske to a number of state election officials confirming the use of the new, uncertified software on Ohio's tabulator systems. The memo claims that "its function is to aid in the reporting of results" by converting them "into a format that can be read by the Secretary of State's election night reporting system."
On Friday evening, at Huffington Post, journalist Art Levine followed up with a piece that, among other things, advanced the story by breaking the news that Fitrakis and his attorney Cliff Arnebeck were filing a lawsuit for an immediate injunction against Husted and ES&S to "halt the use of secretly installed, unauthorized 'experimental' software in 39 counties' tabulators". Levine also reported that Arnebeck had referred the matter to the Cincinnati FBI for criminal investigation of what the Ohio attorney describes as "a flagrant violation of the law."
"Before you add new software, you need approval of a state board," says Arnebeck. "They are installing an uncertified, suspect software patch that interfaces between the county's vote tabulation equipment and state tabulators." Arnebeck's alarm is understandable.
Since the story initially broke, I've been trying to learn as much as I could about what is actually going on here. During that time, a few in the mainstream media have gotten wind of the story as well, including NBC News and CNN, and have been able to press Husted and other officials in his office into finally responding to the concerns publicly. The Ohio officials have attempted to downplay the concerns, though in doing so, they appear to have given misleading information which, at times, seems to conflict even with the contract itself.
I've also spoken to computer scientists and election integrity experts, in trying to make sense of all of this, though many of them seem to be scratching their heads as well. My own queries to the Sec. of State's office have gone unanswered, as had Fitrakis' and Bello's before they published their initial story, begging the question as to why, if this software is as benign as Ohio officials are suggesting, they didn't respond immediately to say as much. Furthermore, why did they keep the contract a secret? Why did they wait until just before the election to have this work done? And why did they feel it was appropriate to circumvent both federal and state testing and certification programs for the software in the bargain?
I'd like to have been able to learn much more before running anything on this at all, frankly. But the lack of time between now and Tuesday's election --- in which Ohio's results are universally believed to be key to determining the next President of the United States --- preclude that.
So, based on the information I've been able to glean so far, allow me to try to explain, in as simple terms as I can, what we current know and what we don't, and what the serious concerns are all about.
And, just to pre-respond to those supposed journalists who have shown a proclivity for reading comprehension issues, let me be clear: No, this does not mean I am charging that there is a conspiracy to rig or steal the Ohio election. While there certainly could be, if there is, I don't know about it, nor am I charging there is any such conspiracy at this time. The secretive, seemingly extra-legal way in which SoS Husted's office is going about whatever it is they are trying to do, however, at the very last minute before the election, along with the explanations they've given for it to date, and concerns about similar cases in the past, in both Ohio and elsewhere, are certainly cause for any reasonable skeptic or journalist to be suspect and investigate what could be going on. And so I am...