Maddow warns: 'With this many top of ticket races tied, turnout will be everything...Now we watch for the ways that people will try to stop voters from turning out or from having their votes counted, by hook or by crook'...
Guest Blogged by Alan Breslauer
Earlier this month, writer, director, producer, and actor John Wellington Ennis released a free online election documentary titled Free For All. The trailer (4:21, at right) for the smart, informative, and hugely entertaining flick is below (with none other than Brad Friedman serving as the video thumbnail) while the entire movie can be downloaded here.
The Pima County, Arizona, Diebold vote tabulation system was manipulated to "pass" a 2006 ballot initiative when, in fact, the measure was actually voted down, according to a startling new allegation revealed today by the election watchdog group Audit AZ.
The long-running election integrity battles in Pima flared up again this afternoon as an explosive affidavit from a former county official was released at a press conference held by the tenacious local organization. On the heels of several recent Audit AZ court victories, resulting in the unprecedented if long overdue release of mountains of previously "proprietary" Diebold election databases, today's presser was well attended by much of the local media.
The conference was held as news comes that the ballots for the 2006 Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) election are set to be destroyed, according to a letter sent by the Pima County Treasurer to the Chair of the Pima County Democratic Party, Vince Rabago. The June 2008 letter, posted at the end of this article, says that Rabago has the right to request that the ballots not be destroyed, which would save them temporarily. Bill Risner, the lawyer for the successful suit to obtain copies of the county's election databases, said at the press conference that the State Attorney General needs to step in and not only demand that the ballots be saved but order that they be counted to see if the total agrees with the "official" numbers that came out of the election department's computer given the extraordinary new allegations.
The potentially explosive new piece of information introduced during the press conference was a sworn affidavit from Zbigniew Osmolski, a former Pima County employee, stating that Bryan Crane, the computer operator at the Pima County Elections Division, told him, during a conversation in a bar, that the RTA Election was "fixed...on the instructions of his bosses."
According to Osmolski's affidavit (posted in full at the end of this article):
During that conversation Bryan Crane told me he "fixed" the RTA, or Regional Transportation Authority election on the instructions of his bosses and he did what he was told to do. Mr. Crane expressed his concern about being indicted and said he would like to talk but couldn't trust anyone.
The affidavit is the latest in a series of red flags concerning the RTA election. Other red flags include: (1) This was a sales tax increase, the type of vote that usually fails, and it looked like it was going down in the days prior to the election; (2) The database on the vote counting computer was erased and replaced a day into the early ballot scanning; (3) Unauthorized vote total summary reports were printed during the counting; (4) A tape of the original ballot layout stored with the Secretary of State --- which could have indicated if the vote was flipped --- was sent back to the County, which lost it; (5) An investigation into the election completed by the Attorney General's office was cursory and inconclusive.
A video of the press conference is now available here...
The Osmolski affidavit and County Treasurer's letter concerning the impending destruction of the ballots from the RTA election follow below...
Committee weighs risks, benefits of electronic voting machines Fla. 'vote-flipping' programmer voices doubts about tool
Clint Curtis touched a hidden button on the screen of a simulated electronic voting machine as onlookers witnessed votes switch from one candidate to another.
The House Committee on Elections invited Curtis, a computer programmer from Florida, to testify Wednesday on the accuracy, risks, benefits and security of electronic voting technology. The committee also heard from other expert witnesses, election officials and the Texas secretary of state.
Curtis said a Florida representative approached him in 2000 to design "vote-flipping" software to help the congressman win an election. Requesting a fraudulent program for a machine is not illegal in Florida, but using one is.
"You cannot trust electronic machines, no matter how many honest people you have. It only takes one person with access to the machine," said Curtis, an advocate for hand-counted paper ballots. "Programmers can be bought."
The committee watched as Curtis clicked on an invisible button that suddenly placed the losing candidate of his mock election safely in the lead.
"24 lines of code can flip an election," Curtis said.
He offered to write a new code from scratch in less than three minutes, emphasizing the ease of creating a "flipping" code.
On Wednesday, coverage of his testimony by the Dayton-Beach News-Journal (who endorsed Curtis during his 2006 run against Tom Feeney, the Republican U.S. House Rep who Curtis alleges asked him to create vote-rigging software) included this:
"They seem to understand," Curtis said in a telephone interview afterwards. "They seem to get it. I think they'll do what Florida did, get rid of (electronic touch screens) and get something voters can count on."
For those who don't know Curtis, where have you been? You can read his remarkable story, first broken by The BRAD BLOG back in late 2004, summarized here. He is now hoping to run against Feeney again in Florida again this year, though he must first win his Primary against a Democratic Party-backed candidate. If you'd like to help him beat the millionaire chosen by the short-sighted Dem insiders, please stop by (and feel free to donate!!!) at www.ClintCurtis.com.
DISCLOSURE: We were invited, by the Republican who heads the committee, to testify at the hearing this week as well. Due to prior travel plans, unfortunately, we were unable to be there, but happy that Curtis, and several others who we recommended, were able to show up and speak truth to power.
All that, just since the first few days of January this year.
We promised to keep an eye on the track conditions, even as everyone else was obsessed with the horse race, and so far, I think we've delivered.
If you are able to express your support with an online donation, it would be as appreciated as it is needed.
We have been forced to scale back our Summer travel plans for shortage of funds, and prices of fuel. But we've still got places we have to get to, beginning with a family commitment this coming week that will put us on the road again for the next several weeks.
Our 2008 Election Integrity Fund Drive continues, allowing you --- for as little as a $5/monthly commitment --- to receive any one of three items described at that link. If you can spare more per month, we'll toss in more Premium gifts in return.
If you can contribute at least $50 one time, we'll send you a collector's edition DVD of the remarkable documentary, Uncounted: The New Math of American Elections, hand-signed by the filmmaker, David Earnhardt. (DISCLOSURE: I'm in it, but it's a good film anyway.)
I can't express how much I hate asking folks for help here. Especially these days. But as blog ads have largely dried up for much of the blogosphere so far this season, and as The BRAD BLOG has no corporate or foundational funding, we have nowhere to go but to you.
If you can help us keep going, I commit to continuing the same investigative, muckraking, cry-till-ya-laugh, laugh-till-ya-cry coverage of our American democracy that you will find nowhere else. Although if I can find a few days off between now and the conventions, I'm gonna try to take 'em. Not that I usually have much luck at that sort of thing. But it won't stop me from trying.
As always, your support means the world. Thank you, in advance... --- Brad
Looks like we're coming into rewards season at the White House for longtime Bush loyalists. Of course, we thought that's what the last seven year were about, but we digress.
Apparently, being named as a criminal co-conspirator in Articles of Impeachment is worthy of a prize from this particular White House, as Bush/Cheney '04 Inc.'s self-proclaimed "non-partisan" "longtime voting rights advocate" --- and not-self-proclaimed national champion GOP vote-suppressor Thor Hearne --- received yet another thank you gift from the White House today: A non-partisan appointment to a "non-partisan Commission" (according to the nationally renowned liar Thor) by George W. Bush.
Jo Mannies of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, one of the few reporters Thor will answer the phone for (other than those at "liberal media" outlets such as NYTimes, NPR, USA Today and again at USA Today) writes today, while failing to note Hearne's infamous entry into the history books on the floor of the U.S. House this week...
UPDATE: Now back home, and watching Kucinich myself on C-SPAN. He's been reading for hours, and may have hours ahead still. As mentioned on the air, I was consulted for these Articles of Impeachment and submitted a number of suggestions and material concerning impeachable offenses related to election tampering by George W. Bush and his agents. Don't know whether those articles are still in the final version. We shall see. But I wanted to be sure to disclose that.
No doubt we'll be talking about this tomorrow on the PBC Show (which I'm Guest Hosting all week). We're trying to get Kucinich for tomorrow's show...if he still has any voice left.
FURTHER UPDATE: Looks like the election-related Articles of Impeachment made it into the final version, including a mention of GOP "voter fraud" sheister Mark F. "Thor" Hearne of front-group American Center for Voting Rights (ACVR). Nice to see Hearne get the recognition on the floor of the U.S. Congress that he so richly deserves.
Kucinich introduced a resolution last year to impeach Vice President Dick Cheney. That resolution was killed, but only after Republicans initially voted in favor of taking up the measure to force a debate.
In fact, his Articles of Impeachment against Dick Cheney were not "killed," they were sent to the House Judiciary Committee, where they remain without action having been taken on them by the Dem leadership, despite best efforts by folks like Rep. Robert Wexler (D-FL), and others.
Article 28 - Tampering with Free and Fair Elections (7:20)
Article 29 - Violation of the Voting Rights Act of 1965
Part 1 (8:54), Part 2 (9:39)
POST-ADJOURNMENT UPDATE: Just prior to midnight ET, Kucinich finally finished reading the list of High Crimes and Misdemeanors. Equal Justice Society writes:
"We've waited seven years to find one Member of Congress brave enough to stand up for our Constitution, for which generations of Americans have fought and died," said Bob Fertik, President of Democrats.com. "We are thrilled and honored that Dennis Kucinich has chosen to be that one genuine patriot. We congratulate him on his historic leadership, and pledge to do everything in our power to persuade Congress to adopt all 35 Articles and put George W. Bush on trial before the Senate of the United States, exactly as the Founding Fathers wanted."
"Some might question why Congressman Kucinich has done this now," continued Fertik. "My question is why 434 other Congress Members have not done it before. Despite the uncountable and unspeakable crimes this administration has committed, George Bush and Dick Cheney remain in power and immune from prosecution. Congress must impeach Bush and Cheney now - before they further abuse their power by pardoning for all of their crimes."
Email or call (202-224-3121) your Member of Congress to support Rep. Kucinich's Articles of Impeachment. And sign the petition at Democrats.com.
Be sure to let them know about Coulter's several felony acts down in Palm Beach County, Florida, (well-documented at the link above) by writing to them at their super-special tipster address: VoterFraud@FoxNews.com.
GoLeft's coverage of the story follows (1:45 mins), with a kind nod to The BRAD BLOG, as they join our call to action...
From their coverage:
The new claim being made by Fox is that illegal immigrants are going to be casting votes in November, playing on right-wing anti-immigrant sentiments. Fox News has now set out to find the evidence of fraud that the Bush Department of Justice could not, whipping up their audience with the threat of non-citizens "getting a fake ID, a driver's license, or a social security card and voting in this year's election." The network has even gone as far as creating a special email address for evidence - Voterfraud@foxnews.com. Brad Friedman of the Brad Blog has encouraged people to submit the case of Ann Coulter, who as Brad says, "knowingly lied about her address on her voter registration form in Palm Beach County, Florida; proceeded to break the law again by knowingly voting at the wrong precinct; then lied about it repeatedly; hired a former Bush attorney to protect her; and even called her FBI ex-boyfriend to save her, when it looked like the Palm Beach County Sheriff might actually bring charges.
“According to mythology, Apollo, the sun god, was so taken with Trojan Cassandra’s beauty that he gave her the gift of prophecy. When she did not return his love, he punished her with a curse. Reluctant to revoke a gift once given, Apollo’s curse was to make Cassandra’s prophesies fall on deaf ears.” ~Cassandra, Chanting, page vii.
Cassandra, Chanting is a novel that — while copyrighted in 2008 — will be nothing short of too familiar to election integrity activists around the country.
The blurb on the jacket starts out by saying:
At the center of Cassandra, Chanting is a plot to steal the next American presidential election. Written by an election world insider who must remain anonymous, the novel exposes in authentic and chilling detail just how vulnerable our electoral system is today.
But even though the plot is intriguing, it isn’t what I found most intriguing. And even though the book’s primary message of our election system’s vulnerability is as serious as it is true, the author’s stark revelation of that truth isn’t what captured my heart.
As a long-time election integrity activist, what I loved most about the book is that the anonymous author has clearly been paying attention, and he (yes, that much we've been able to learn about him - ed) managed to put into novel form the Alice In Wonderland world that many of us have been living in for the past three, four, five, or even more years...
Last week we told you about the hard fought victory by the Pima County (Tucson), Arizona, Democrats to finally gain access to the Diebold databases which include the tallies of how folks voted in elections going all the way back to 1998.
The county had argued (on Diebold's behalf, natch) that the database files were both proprietary, and a security risk should they be released. The judge, finally, found that to be nonsense, and ordered the release of the files which the local Election Integrity advocates now hope to comb over for evidence of fraud and/or other malfeasance.
Now that they've got all the info, they're seeking a geek or two who may be able to help build a tool to make it a bit easier to go through the mountains of data they now finally have access to.
AZ's Libertarian Election Integrity champ Jim March, whose been working closely with the Dems, sends us the following "Help Wanted" ad, seeking a programmer to help 'em make sense of "the world's largest private collection of Diebold election data files anywhere." (Note: If someone could kindly Slashdot this item to maximize the number of coder geek eyeballs it gets in front of, it'd be much appreciated!)...
What's a Grand Ol' Party to do when they wish to disenfranchise Democratic voters via the specious specter of "voter fraud" when they can't actually find any evidence to make their case? Why, call their media wing at Fox "News" of course!
Fox picks up today where the DoJ and Republican Party have had no luck so far, but not for lack of trying. Hey, if you can't beat 'em, publicize 'em, and make it sound like you're beating 'em, at least.
David Edwards and Muriel Kane report at RAW STORY today that Fox is running a "special investigation" into non-citizens throwing elections:
"Could illegal immigrants sway an election?' Eric Shawn of Fox News asked on Wednesday, raising the terrifying specter of "people who are not even citizens voting for whomever they want."
Since 2005, the Bush administration has been pushing the idea that "voter fraud" is a widespread problem, even firing US Attorneys who did not make the investigation of claims of fraud a priority. However, investigations have never found more than a handful of votes being cast illegally, while requiring proof of citizenship seems likely to disenfranchise hundreds of thousands of voters, mostly the poor and elderly who may not be able to secure required documentation.
Fox News has now set out to find the evidence of fraud that the Bush Department of Justice could not, whipping up their audience with the threat of non-citizens "getting a fake ID, a driver's license, or a social security card and voting in this year's election."
"If you think there's voter fraud where you live, or there are other election problems, we at Fox News want to know about it," Shawn told viewers. "You can email us. ... firstname.lastname@example.org."
Well, you heard 'em, kids. Fox is looking for voter fraud! Feel free to email them this link: http://www.bradblog.com/CoulterFraud documenting the no-uncertain-terms case of Ann Coulter having committed voter fraud in Palm Beach County, Florida!
Fox would love to hear from you at: email@example.com. Feel free to let 'em know I sent you, in case they have any further questions. I'll be happy to speak to them, and help 'em root out those voter fraud criminals!
BTW, Fox & Friends, at least, already knows about Coulter's voter fraud, since they called me last year to ask me to appear on their morning show to talk about it after Liz Smith ran an item on the matter in Murdoch's NY Post pointing to BRAD BLOG's coverage...
"The recount never really happened," notes Kevin Spacey, correctly, about the 2000 Florida election debacle in his interview Wednesday night on Countdown, in advance of Recount, HBO's theatrical retelling of the nightmare. The film premieres this Sunday.
Some weeks ago, we ran an item which included the theatrical trailer for the film and noted that we've neither seen it, nor been contacted by anybody from the production (they didn't purchase an ad here either, boo hoo) but that they did manage to use our "Stuck in the Middle With You" theme song for the film, curiously enough, as you'll see in the trailer. We'll take it as a compliment, as if we have a choice.
We also noted, with evidence, that Al Gore received more votes than George W. Bush in the state of Florida in 2000, and that seven whistleblowers from the company, Sequoia Voting Systems, who produced the paper ballots for Florida, have come forward to reveal that they were forced by someone to use bad paper on those ballots (only in Florida) against their objections, and to misalign the chads on them (only in Palm Beach County). To this day, other than Dan Rather at HDNet, who originally ran the report, nobody in the corporate media has found that story worthy of following up, or even merely reporting.
But for the third in our countdown of productions with the word "count" in its title, we turn to our friend Mary Mancini, who smartly blogs at the website of the documentary film Uncounted (We're in it, so see FULL DISCLOSURE at end of this article). Mancini notes that Olbermann, during his interview with Spacey (at left, including clip from film), joined so many other journalists who have taken the opportunity of the premiere of HBO's film to miss more than a few good journalistic opportunities...
With all the publicity surrounding this movie, now would be the perfect time for journalists to take the national conversation to the next level and ask the most logical follow up questions:
1) Why wasn’t our electoral process equipped, as Kevin Spacey says in the interview, “to handle margins of victory so small and margins of error so big” in 2000?
2) Are we equipped to do so now?
Another great opportunity was lost last night when during the interview Spacey explains the punch-card recount process:
That when you have a margin of victory so small, you have to go to what is called an automatic machine recount and yet, 18 counties, over 1,500,00 votes, didn’t bother to put their ballots back through the machine. They just re-tabulated the memory card, and you always get a different count when you do a machine recount. So, when you kind of realize that, well, that’s ’cause people just couldn’t bother to do it, um, it’s pretty stunning that…that…so..when Baker and Bush kept coming out and saying, “The votes have been counted, and they’ve been counted again, and Gore wants to count them a third time,” they were actually never counted.
No, they weren't. And the Supreme Court demanded that they remain uncounted, so Bush could be named "President."
Only the media and academic consortium who actually did bother to count all of those ballots [PDF] afterwards in Florida would know that Gore received more votes than Bush. Period. Even if they've done a superb job of keeping that little fact to themselves ever since. Whether HBO's Recount tells that truth, we'll have to wait until Sunday to find out.
Following below, for your convenience, are both the HBO trailer for Recount and, once again, the breathtaking Dan Rather report on the gaming of the paper ballots in Florida's 2000 election...
Some 33,500 registered voters in Oregon received two ballots in the mail for this year's primary election in the country's only 100% Vote-by-Mail (VBM) state. Though Secretary of State Bill Bradbury says he's confident the problem will be handled, and that no voter will get to cast two ballots, that snafu is a small concern compared to the larger ones presented by VBM.
Many Oregonians will tell you they believe their system is wonderful, yet many of the Election Integrity advocates on the ground there, including many we've spoke with at the Oregon Voting Rights Coalition, warn that the success of the state's VBM program is largely based on good procedures put in place by Bradbury, and which they fear may disappear, as they are not statutory, when he is someday no longer the state's SoS.
In the meantime, one of the unintended consequences of the success that EI advocates have had in helping to expose the failures of electronic voting systems, is that absentee and/or VBM systems have been growing in popularity.
For the voters, they believe such systems offer a "paper trail" not available to voters using touch-screen systems at the polling place. Many are unaware that their mailed-in ballots will be scanned by the same error-prone, easily manipulated optical-scan machines which handle paper ballots for precinct-based voting. But even worse, ballots mailed in, if they arrive safely, and are counted at all, are usually counted "in the dark," versus ballots scanned either at the polls on Election Day, or at county headquarters after the close of polls when citizens are often there to watch.
It is also much harder to track such ballots. Unlike ballots cast at the polls, where sign-in rosters can be compared to the number of ballots counted, it's far more difficult to match up such numbers after ballots are dropped into the black hole that is the U.S. Postal System.
For both major political parties, particularly the Democrats of late, the control they can have over ensuring voter "turnout" under such systems, and the increased participation that comes with it, is a big plus, and one of the reasons why they've been pushing mail-in elections of late.
But for those of us who prize transparency, security, privacy, and verifiable accuracy over partisan politics, all VBM elections remain a terrible idea. Here's why...
Texas' Republican Attorney General has found that there's little or no "voter fraud" of note down there either, despite a promise two years ago, according to the Dallas Morning News, to "root out what he called an epidemic of voter fraud in Texas," and his creation of a special unit which "tapped a $1.4 million federal crime-fighting grant" to expose the election stealing rascals.
For all of his crime-fighting in those two years, across the big Lonestar State, TX AG Greg Abbott has prosecuted just 26 cases, "all against Democrats, and almost all involving blacks or Hispanics," according to the Morning News, most of which resulted in "small fines and little or no jail time."
Additionally, almost all of them (18 of 26) involved mail-in absentee ballots where elderly voters were "illegally" given assistance in mailing their ballots, versus in-person voter impersonation of the type that cynical GOP attempts to mandate draconian polling place Photo ID restrictions are purportedly meant to deter. (In reality, they are meant to deter Democrats from being able to cast their legal ballots, so Republicans can more easily "win" elections.)
Just eight of the 26 prosecuted cases, the Morning News found, out of Abbott's two-year effort, involved any kind of ineligible or manufactured votes --- only 2 actually involved individuals casting fraudulent ballots at the polls, the rest were registration fraud issues --- and none of them revealed any larger conspiratorial scheme meant to effect the results of an election.
In the meantime, critics charge Abbott has been ignoring complaints about Republican election skulduggery, and we'd be remiss if we didn't point out that nobody has bothered to prosecute Republicanist Ann Coulter, for her several demonstrable voter fraud-related felony crimes in Florida despite, dead-to-rights evidence as published by The BRAD BLOG since early 2006.
We'd also like to point out, that in addition to there not being "an epidemic of voter fraud in Texas," there is similarly no such epidemic among space aliens either. Though Ted Rall suggests we may wish to implement some new measures there too...just in case...
The software most likely to steal elections is the BALLOT DEFINITION SOFTWARE loaded onto paper-based optical-scan and DRE (usually, touch-screen) voting machines in county elections offices across the U.S. just before the machines are sealed with security tape and transported to election polling locations.
And yet, the frightening reality is that there is little or no oversight of that software itself, nor of the people --- usually sub-contractors, who could be anyone from a non-U.S. citizen, to a criminal, to a political party operative --- who program that ballot definition software. Moreover, there is little or no testing of such software, despite the fact that it stores the ballot positions for all candidates and initiatives on every ballot, on every voting machine, and tallies the votes for all of them on election day.
For all of the concerns about election fraud, via the electronic voting systems in use across the nation today, and the eye on the source code for the software itself, few seem to have their eye on the ballot definition software, which can --- even on e-voting systems where the hardware, and main program software has been tested, certified, and audited --- succeed in flipping an election without detection, either by error, or on purpose.