Four hundred and eighty-eight voters, all but four lifelong Democrats, and nearly all Black, had their voting history erased by Shelby County (Memphis) election workers, setting them up for purge from the voter list. These selective alterations appear to target the race of US Congressman Steve Cohen (D-TN-09).
To alter voting histories for a selected set of voters, putting them at risk for strategically selected and improper removal from the voting list, is to demean them, to treat them as if they have less worth as human beings than they do. And to demean them is to wrong them. What Shelby County's election staff has done, in altering the records, is morally wrong.
Shelby County voters owe a debt of gratitude to Darrick "D" Harris (no relation). This information has come to light because, when I spoke with Harris by telephone recently, he expressed concern to me about his discovery that his voting history had somehow evaporated.
An active Democratic voter and political consultant, Harris had copies of voter databases containing his own voter history. He knows he votes regularly, but as of Oct. 2011, the voter list reports that he has never voted --- not once!...
The head of a firm which was paid some $50,000 by the Republican Party in Sacramento to sign up new Republican voters this year has "an extensive criminal history, including a prison sentence for stealing from a family she befriended and buying a van with funds stolen from a youth agency."
Moreover, one of the employees that "professional con-artist" Monica Harris, the head of the GOP's Momentum Political Services, hired to work with her at the firm, where she was paid per Republican registration, recently pleaded guilty to fraud charges in a multimillion-dollar mortgage scheme.
The growing scandal, all but ignored by those on the Right who professionally pretend that Democrats and ACORN are stealing elections, underscores yet again the extent to which the Republican Party is willing to go in order to win elections, even while falsely accusing Democrats of undermining them...
Absentee ballots that normally would have been sent to voters as early as Tuesday won't get mailed until Friday, according to the head of the state's election agency.
The situation arose because of a conflict between state election law and the state constitution, which lays out a tight time frame between a primary and recall election, said Kevin Kennedy, director of the state Government Accountability Board.
Under one state law, absentee ballots should have been available Tuesday because the recall election of Gov. Scott Walker and four GOP state senators is three weeks away, on June 5. But another law says ballots cannot be made available in a general election until after the period to ask for a recount in the primary passes, and that won't happen for the May 8 primary until Friday, Kennedy said.
Normally, there is a longer period between a primary and general election. But the state constitution requires four weeks between a primary and a recall election. That causes conflicts between the absentee schedule and the election certification schedule, Kennedy said.
As a result, a small number of people who will be out of town June 5 won't be able to vote because they won't be able to get an absentee ballot this week, Kennedy said Tuesday.
"We're dealing with a short time frame," Kennedy said. "Some people are going to get caught."
State law used to allow election clerks to email absentee ballots to voters at the discretion of the clerks. Voters would then fill out the ballots and return them through traditional mail. But last year, Republican lawmakers eliminated the ability of clerks to do that except in limited circumstances.
"It would be wise to go back to allowing municipal clerks to transmit (ballots) electronically. We thought it was shortsighted" for legislators to change that law, Kennedy said.
The Journal-Sentinel goes on to report that the Republican who amended the law claimed the change was needed "because some municipalities emailed out ballots while others did not, and she thought all communities should handle it the same way." And her even weaker reasoning was that "what voters returned by traditional mail had to be transferred by clerks onto ballots, which she said could be time-consuming for staff on election day."
While this development doesn't seem, in and of itself, to be an issue nefariously targeted at undermining the Scott Walker recall election specifically (as it had appeared in some of the more vague reportage I'd seen elsewhere this morning), it's certainly troubling for those folks leaving town this week who will not receive ballots in time to vote, and who will have no recourse to receive them while overseas. Those folks are most likely disenfranchised, whether that was the plan or not, thanks to the short-sighted amendment to state law written by state Sen. Mary Lazich, Republican of New Berlin.
The mailers, which offered incorrect dates and deadlines, and instructed voters to send back the forms to the PO Box of a "Right to Life" group in Wisconsin, were sent out not only by the Kochs' AFP, but almost identical misleading mailers were sent out by a mysterious "group" calling itself "United Sportsmen of Wisconsin". As The BRAD BLOG subsequently reported, to the surprise of almost nobody, the front man for that purported WI gun organization, John W. Connors, turns out to have been a longtime AFP affiliate and National Director, with a history of running deceptive campaigns.
Watch for these same insidious democracy haters and their ugly dirty tricks tactics to appear very soon now in advance of the historic June 5th recall elections of Walker, his Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch and four Republican state Senators whose seats --- along with the political balance of the state Senate --- are all now up for grabs.
Then I was joined by Sacramento, CA Registrar of Voters Jill Lavine to discuss the thousands of fraudulent voter registration forms turned in by the GOP-hired firmed Momentum Political Services, as we detailed late last week. Lavine tells me that she's confident that in her nine years as Registrar, there has been no in-person impersonation at the polling place, despite the continuing pattern of GOP voter registration fraud in the state and the Republican push to disenfranchise (largely Democratic) voters by claiming, disingenuously, that polling place Photo ID restrictions have anything to do with "voter fraud".
We then enjoyed a quick visit with the lovely Desi Doyen from the Green News Report, fresh off her guest-hosting gig this afternoon on The Young Turks (I'll try to post that video soon!)
Finally, since it's called The BradCast, I was joined by Brad Jacobson to discuss his terrifying new report at Alternet on the "ticking time-bomb" that is the precarious Spent Fuel Pool --- now fully exposed, 100 feet off the ground in a listing building --- at Fukushima Daiichi's reactor #4. His report should scare the hell out of you. It certainly does me. And the scariest part: It's being covered by virtually nobody in the mainstream corporate media. I guess that's what The BradCast is for.
Last week, The BRAD BLOG's legal analyst Ernest Canning reported on the lawsuit filed by the League of Women Voters, the NAACP and the ACLU in Pennsylvania, together with the Homeless Advocacy Project and the Advancement Project, against the state Republicans' new polling place Photo ID restriction passed into law in March.
The law, unless it's blocked, is set to make it much harder, if not impossible for many previously-legal student, elderly, minority and urban dwelling voters to cast their vote this November.
Canning predicts, however, that, like a similar GOP law in Wisconsin this year, and one in Missouri back in 2006, the new attempt to remove voting rights will be found in violation of the fundamental right to vote guaranteed under Pennsylvania's state Constitution. We'll see if he's correct.
In the meantime, the lawsuit, Applewhite vs Commonwealth of Pennsylvania [PDF] names 11 plaintiffs, the majority of whom have tried to get a birth certificate in order to then obtain their so-called "free" ID to vote from the state under the new law --- only to be told there is no record of their births. Several of those plaintiffs, not surprisingly, were born in the Jim Crow south and are now facing the forces of disenfranchisement again under the GOP law this year even up in the Keystone State in 2012.
Last week, MSNBC's Al Sharpton interviewed the lead plaintiff in the complaint, 92-year old Viviette Applewhite who marched for civil rights alongside Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in Georgia, and who has been voting in Presidential elections without a problem for more than 50 years. She has never had a driver's license and, though she says she paid a fee for a birth certificate from the state, she has never received it.
Despite the fact that state officials have been unable to produce evidence of in-person, polling place impersonation --- the only type of voter fraud that could possibly be deterred by polling place Photo ID laws --- Republicans seem more than happy to disenfranchise long-time voters like Applewhite and potentially tens of thousands of others this year.
Applewhite says she believes it's all little more than an effort to stop President Obama from being re-elected, and she fears there are far more people than many realize who will be disenfranchised this year unless the law is overturned.
"Looks like most of the people in my building, they're senior citizens, but they don't have the proper thing to vote with," she says near the end of the interview, "and it's going to be a whole lotta people that's not going to be able to vote"...
Judith Browne Dianis, civil rights litigator at the Advancement Project also appears in the interview above and correctly notes: "This is not about preventing fraud, it's about preventing voting."
She is supported in that contention, ironically enough, by PA's Republican Governor Tom Corbett, seen in a clip above exhorting his supporters to help him keep turnout below 50% during his recent election. Moreever, just after Corbett signed the GOP's voter suppression bill in March, he lied to the media by claiming that it was needed since Pennsylvanians had seen 112% voter turnout in some precincts. Longtime election watchdog Marybeth Kuznick of VotePA, however, told us the Governor's claim was "ludicrous."
For more on the plaintiffs in the PA complaint who are facing disenfranchisement for the first time in their lives --- folks like 59-year old Wilola Shinholster Lee, 72-year old Grover Freeland, 86-year old Dorothy Barksdale and 93-year old Bea Booker --- and why Ernie Canning predicts the new legal challenge will be successful in the Keystone State, see his report from last week right here.
You're unlikely to hear a peep about this on Fox "News" (unless they happen to have me on), but the California Secretary of State's Election Fraud Division is now reportedly investigating a firm hired by the Sacramento County Republican Party said to have submitted thousands of fraudulent voter registration forms.
According to a report today from Sacramento ABC affiliate News10 [see video posted below], a private, for-profit firm calling itself Momentum Political Services, hired by the local Republican Party "to boost GOP registration ranks in key battleground communities" has turned in more than 3,100 invalid voter registration cards during their recent drive.
[UPDATE 5/7/12: According to Sacramento Bee's 5/5/12 report, the number of bad registration forms is much higher than 3,100. The paper reports that since September, out of some 31,000 cards turned in by Momentum Political Services, "at least one-fourth of them have been thrown out because of inaccuracies," according to the Sacramento Registrar of Voters. That puts the questionable registrations from the GOP's company at more than 7,500.]
Voter registration forms have allegedly been turned in with fake addresses, voter names that don't exist, duplicate Social Security numbers, and party affiliations that seem to have been changed "by someone" to Republican. The head of the firm has admitted she has hired workers with criminal backgrounds, as found via Craigslist.
The charges of serial voter registration fraud sound very similar to those leveled in 2008 against another outfit hired by the California State GOP to register Republican voters before that year's Presidential election. In that case, the head of the firm was arrested, and eventually pleaded guilty to voter registration charges himself.
In 2006, another firm hired by the CA Republican Party turned in thousands of registration forms with fake names and an error rate as high as 60 percent. And in 2004, a firm hired by the GOP was investigated in a number of states for shredding Democratic voter registrations and tossing them into dumpsters. Despite those allegations, the same folks were later hired by the McCain/Palin campaign in 2008 to run voter registration drives before the Presidential election.
Of course, you probably haven't heard of any of those stories, even while you've heard plenty about a handful of ACORN workers --- no actual ACORN officials, mind you, and they were never hired by the Democratic Party, and never led to a fraudulent vote --- turning in fraudulent registration forms in past years.
But nobody who ever worked for the non-profit ACORN has ever been accused of what these Republican firms continue to do on behalf of the Republican officials who hire them, paying them per Republican registration, year after year, as is once again apparent in the allegations surfacing today against Momentum Political Services...
No matter the strongest admonitions against it, for years, by virtually all computer science and security experts to offer an opinion on it --- ya know, the folks who actually know how this stuff works, or doesn't --- proponents of Internet Voting are relentless in their advocacy. Kind of how the proponents of polling place e-voting used to tell us that such schemes were tamper-proof, error-free and much more secure than paper.
No matter how many Internet Voting schemes fall flat on their face (voter participation plummeted 83% when Honolulu tried it), get entirely hacked (even by computers in Iran and China) or are taken down by a 10,000 computer denial of service attack (but that was in Canada, so no biggie, right?), some seem to care so little about transparent, oversee-able democracy and self-governance, that they are willing to risk entire elections and the verifiable votes of the citizenry in order to carry out such dangerous and ill-considered adventures.
And so, yet again, with all of those warnings ignored, we find another online election has been wholly compromised --- and now cancelled --- after it was discovered that a business school student hacked into it and stole hundreds of passwords and IDs, so that he could fix the results of the election...
[NOTE: I interviewed 90-year old Joyce Block from Pennsylvania, the woman discussed in the story below, today (Wed, 4/25) on my KPFK/Pacific Radio show, and she offered a bit of a "good news" update on her story. That interview is now posted here. - BF]
And now it's the voters in Pennsylvania who are beginning to lose their right to vote under new Republican voter suppression laws. The latest story of a citizen having their rights robbed by Big Government GOP disenfranchisement laws is that of Joyce Block, a 90-year old grandmother from Doylestown who has voted for 70 years without a problem --- until now.
We've been reporting for some time on legal voters who are being disenfranchised by Republican-passed polling place Photo ID restrictions around the country. For example, in Indiana there were the 80- and 90-year old nuns who were turned away from the polls in 2008 after that state's first-in-the-nation Photo ID restriction had taken away the rights they'd freely and legally exercised for decades at their own monastery. (They were turned away that year by the poll worker, their fellow sister, who had been forced to follow the new voter suppression law.)
Of course, that same law in the Hoosier State didn't prevent their top election official, charged with overseeing the law, Republican Sec. of State Charlie White, from committing three voter fraud felonies himself. He was found guilty in February of this year and forced to leave office. But these laws aren't actually meant to stop voter fraud. Even proponents of such laws are unable to cite any cases of polling place impersonation --- the only type of voter fraud that could possible be deterred by such laws --- which might have been prevented in their state by polling place Photo ID restrictions. These laws are meant solely to disenfranchise perfectly legal, usually Democratic-leaning voters who disproportionately lack the type of ID now needed to vote in states where these laws have been approved.
We told you about 87-year old Ruthelle Frank, an elected town official in Wisconsin who would have to come up with more than $200 for her "free" ID to vote under the GOP's new law there. And then there was 77-year old Bettye Jones for whom it would be strictly impossible to vote at all under WI's law which was, thankfully, recently found to be in violation of the state Constitution by two separate judges in two separate lawsuits in the Badger State.
Down in Tennessee, we told you about 96-year old Dorothy Cooper who was denied a "free" Photo ID, as now needed to vote there, even though she had her birth certificate to prove she was who she said she was. And we also highlighted 93-year old Thelma Mitchell, who used to clean the Governor's office in the statehouse, but was told that her ID was no longer good enough to cast a vote in the Volunteer State.
We could, of course, go on and on and on with such examples, even as we could detail the many high-profile Republicans who have committed voter fraud --- folks like Mitt Romney and Ann Coulter and many others, to name just a few --- who would not have been prevented from committing their crimes even under Photo ID restrictions, because that's not how voter fraud generally occurs and not the sort of voters these laws are meant to disenfranchise. It is, however, a swell way to keep hundreds of thousands, even millions, of perfectly legal --- largely elderly, minority and student (read: Democratic leaning) --- voters from being able to cast their legal vote.
And now, in Pennsylvania, the most recent state where Republicans have approved a polling place Photo ID restriction law --- and where the state's Republican Governor Tom Corbett blatantly lied about it to the media --- we see the 90-year old grandmother-in-law of a local Borough Council president who looks as if she'll be forced to break her perfect 70-year voting record this November, as she too is unable to receive the supposedly "free" ID soon required to vote in the Keystone State...
Several weeks ago we told you that Kathy Nickolaus, the controversial and oft-failed County Clerk of Waukesha County, WI, was stepping aside for the state's upcoming recall primary and general elections on May 8 and June 5.
The news that she would not be performing her usual election administration duties came on the heels of yet another embarrassing debacle in the state's most Republican county during their April 3rd Presidential Primary.
Nickolaus' decision to temporarily hand over her duties to Waukesha's Deputy Clerk Kelly Yaeger for the two recall elections was prompted after calls for her resignation by the chair of the County Executive Board as well as local newspapers. The most recent mess was said to have been caused by a failure of her computer system to upload computer-reported elections results of county municipalities until 6am on the morning following that election.
The temporary replacement by her Deputy offered little comfort for Washburn. Prompted by recent disturbing news that elections run on electronic tabulation systems identical to those used in Waukesha County had recently been found to have named several losing candidates as "winners" in elections in a different state, Washburn, a Republican, suggested he had little basis for confidence in whatever reported results might come out of the state's most Republican-leaning county in the upcoming recalls.
It appears that Washburn is not alone. Late Friday, it was reported that a number of the municipalities in Waukesha will be bypassing the County Clerk's office entirely by first sending their election night results straight to the Government Accountability Board (G.A.B.), the state's top election agency. But it may be new concerns about computer-tallied results in the Badger State that present even greater problems for the historic elections beginning next month in the Badger State...
I know I shouldn't be, but I'm still amazed at the absolute cluelessness of far too many election officials. Yes, some of them are great, know exactly what they're talking about, and realize that the electronic voting systems we use in this nation --- every single one of them --- are complete garbage.
Last month, we reported on a recent Palm Beach County, FL, election in which the paper-ballot optical-scan system declared several losing candidates as the "winners." Thanks to the diligence the Supervisor of Elections Susan Bucher --- who told me when we spoke, "I don't want you to have to trust your election officials. I think your election officials have to prove it." --- the software failure on the Sequoia Voting Systems tabulator was discovered and the correct winners of the election were ultimately discovered via a 100% hand-count instead, weeks after the election.
Also last month, we highlighted two great election officials in Columbia County, NY where both the Democratic and Republican Election Commissioners are smart enough to refuse to rely on the electronic optical-scanners made by Dominion Voting that were forced on them by the state. They choose, instead, to count 100% of their paper ballots by hand.
"Since I, as election commissioner, have to certify to the accuracy of any election run under my watch, that steers me in the direction of a more elemental process --- a hand count under the watchful gaze of individuals who are invested in its accuracy," Democratic Commissioner Virginia Martin wrote in her must-read 2010 op-ed, explaining her refusal to rely on computer tabulated elections. The Republican Commissioner, Jason Nastke, agrees with his counterpart. "The most accurate and reliable method is a 100% visual audit," he told The Columbia Paper, "The machines are not completely reliable."
Late last year The BRAD BLOG reported in detail on the Interim Board of Elections (two Republicans, one Democrat) in Venango County, PA, who bucked their own County Commissioners and legal threats from ES&S, the nation's largest e-voting company, to have their 100% unverifiable touch-screen systems independently investigated after failures in several recent elections. The forensic study found the central tabulator had been "remotely accessed" by someone on "multiple occasions," including for 80 minutes on the night before the 2010 general election. As thanks, the commissioners were pushed out of their jobs before the investigation was completed. Asked why the County Commissioners and ES&S were so opposed to an independent forensic analysis by two Carnegie-Mellon computer scientists, the Republican Director of the Board, Craig Adams told me: "They know there's something wrong."
Those are just a few of the many great election officials I've had the pleasure of reporting on over the years, and the voters of their respective counties are very lucky to be served by them.
And then there are the election officials of Anchorage, Alaska, where, on April 3rd, there was another disastrous election, held on Diebold op-scan systems, in a state becoming known for its disastrous elections.
"Those are amazing machines - utterly amazing," Anchorage Election Commissioner Gwen Mathew told members of the Anchorage Assembly last Friday night during a working session as they tried to unravel the latest disaster.
"It is impossible for them to go haywire," she misinformed the law makers. "They are highly accurate. I think that I could almost say that they're totally accurate. I've never found a discrepancy."
"You can get as 'conspiracy theory' as you want," Anchorage's Deputy Municipal Clerk Jacqueline Duke said when I asked her about some of the many reported concerns about the validity of the election in Alaska on Monday. She seemed to have even more faith in the infallibility of the machines than Mathew...
During yesterday's Wisconsin primary election, a number of paper ballots were sent out in several counties that were reportedly too wide to be tabulated by the computerized optical-scan systems used to tally ballots in the state. The same exact thing happened just two weeks ago during the Illinois primary sending election officials into a panic and causing delays for some voters.
Then, as now, the problem has been chalked up to a paper-cutting error by the printers. Perhaps that's true, perhaps it's not. We'll take them at their word, barring evidence to the contrary. Innocent errors can and do happen.
But whether that's an accurate explanation or not, one way in which the failure was dealt with in both Illinois and Wisconsin continues to be extremely troubling and, frankly, offense: the practice of election workers manually "remaking" the ballots of voters after the election, in ostensible secret, and before they are tabulated...
Our own crack legal analyst Ernie Canning pulls together many of the strands we've been reporting here, for many months, on the Wisconsin GOP's attempt to dismantle voting rights in their state in advance of both the 2012 Presidential Election and, perhaps more importantly, before the upcoming recall elections of Gov. Scott Walker, Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch and four Republican state Senators.
It's all a part of the continuing "War for Wisconsin" which we've been covering in great detail here at The BRAD BLOG for quite a while.
If you've had any trouble keeping up, or missed any of the thrilling chapters in the state Republicans' if-ya-can't-beat-'em-disenfranchise-'em, take-no-prisoners assault on the voting rights of legal voters, Ernie puts it all together and brings you right up to date in an interview today by OpEdNews' Joan Brunwasser...
It's turns out that Republican Florida state Rep. Dennis Baxley is far more odious than we realized when, last December, we described him as, among other things, "reprehensible", "anti-American" and "democracy-hating".
It was just such a racially motivated killing that appears to have resulted in the shooting death of unarmed 17-year old African-American Trayvon Martin, by George Zimmerman in a gated community in Sanford, FL late last month. Zimmerman, who has admitted to shooting Martin --- just minutes after he is heard on a 911 call whispering "fucking coons" and being told by the dispatcher to not follow Martin --- is still a free man today, and still in possession of his gun and [see CORRECTION note below] concealed weapon permit, thanks in no small part to Baxley's law.
What follows is brief coverage of Baxley from MSNBC's Rachel Maddow Show last night, including clips of his advocacy for the bill back in 2005, when he argued that "this is gonna be a safer state" and "this bill will stop crime in its tracks". Then, after that, we'll remind you why, and what, we had written about this despicable creep last December...
We've been covering the extraordinary means by which the GOP establishment has been going to shut out the voices of the organized and well-numbered supporters of Republican Presidential candidate, Rep. Ron Paul at caucuses and delegate conventions, of late.
Here's our recent coverage of the extraordinary scenes (and, thankfully, video) of what happened at the Missouri Caucuses in St. Charles County over the weekend and in Athens-Clarke County, GA the weekend prior. (You can watch all the videos referenced in this broadcast at that link.)
Here's my appearance on RT TV Tuesday night discussing the entire fine mess, and charging that the "GOP establishment hates democracy". (That video has been viewed more than 13,000 times in the 24 hours since being posted by RT after its airing on the satellite/cable channel.)
Today, on my KPFK/Pacifica Radio show, I was joined by two of the key players at both of those of remarkable scenes. My guests were Brent Stafford, the Paul organizer seen, incredibly enough, being arrested while trying to reconvene the aborted caucus in St. Charles after pandemonium had broken out inside, and Lori Bone of Athens, who was seen (also on video, thankfully) trying to demand an explanation from Republican Party officials in GA after they'd rammed through a slate of delegates at the Clarke County GOP convention, and then ended the proceedings, ignoring the Paul supporters majority --- all in blatant violation of the official rules.
Stafford told us the St. Charles County GOP is likely to be forced to hold a new caucus (since they didn't even get to vote on delegates before everything broke down, as police were called to the scene). That ought to be interesting.
And Bone explained how Paul supporters in Clarke County took it upon themselves to reconvene the caucus the next day in order to elect their own slate of delegates for the upcoming district and state GOP conventions. Thought ought to be even interestinger.
After my conversation with Stafford and Bone, we finished things up with a bit of Green News Report with the always lovely and very wise Desi Doyen....
Once again, the host was RT's Liz Wahl. Here's what happened today...
* * *
UPDATE: Wow. 438 756 comments on this video at YouTube in the 3 18 hours since it was posted there, where it has now been viewed more than 10,000 times during that period.
By the way, for those who have asked over there, the complete videos of what happened on Saturday in St. Charles, MO and the Saturday before that in Clarke County, GA, as referenced in the conversation above, are all posted right here.
Also, Brent Stafford, the Ron Paul supporter who was arrested outside the aborted GOP caucus in St. Charles, MO over the weekend, will be my guest on my KPFK/Pacifica Radio show Wednesday at 3p PT. It will stream live right here.
UPDATE 3/2/12: My KPFK/Pacifica interview with Stafford, mentioned above, is now posted here.