Yes, Ohio Republicans are still barred from limiting the early voting period and still required to restore the days and hours they had, yet again, tried to cut off. At least they are barred, again, for now.
On Wednesday, a unanimous three-judge panel of the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeal issued a 50-page ruling [PDF] in which it upheld a lower court's preliminary injunction from three weeks ago that prevented Ohio’s Republican Secretary of State John Husted from implementing a Feb. 19, 2014 GOP-engineered statute, and his own further Directive, which would have drastically reduced the number of early voting days and hours and eliminated same-day registration and voting during the first five days of a previously established 35-day period of early voting in the Buckeye State.
Reflecting the fact that he anticipated an adverse ruling, Ohio's Republican Attorney General Michael DeWine filed an Emergency Appeal for a Rehearing [PDF] by the full 6th Circuit, on the very same day the three-judge panel handed down their decision. His appeal presents essentially the same arguments that have now, repeatedly, been rejected by the courts, first in a 2012 case, Obama for America v. Husted, and now, again, in Ohio State Conference of the NAACP v. Husted...
See Munoz for all the details on the sleazy efforts being put forward by the Right's propaganda machine in their desperate attempt to salvage the only high-profile case they are able to cite that supports --- very meekly --- the disenfranchising Photo ID restriction laws they are trying to enact in state-after-state in order to keep Democratic-leaning voters from casting their otherwise legal votes. That, even though Crawford doesn't even actually say what its GOP advocates pretend that it says. (See our coverage of the DoJ's pending case against the Texas GOP's Photo ID law, to get an idea of how the Lone Star state's own Attorney General Greg Abbott is either lying about Crawford, or simply doesn't understand it. Take your pick.)
But I want to highlight a point or two that I haven't been able to cover previously on all of this, including comments given to The BRAD BLOG by one of the Democratic Party's lead attorneys on the original case, after what he describes as Posner's "stunning" admission.
Also, Justice John Paul Stevens, who wrote the U.S. Supreme Court's controlling decision in Crawford affirming Posner's lower court ruling, offered noteworthy comments as well recently, when he was asked about Posner's admission. Justice Stevens now offers a similar admission about his own SCOTUS ruling in the case...
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:
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!
President Barack Obama may have voted for Mitt Romney yesterday when he cast his Early Vote at the Martin Luther King Community Center in Chicago's 4th Ward. Nobody knows for sure. Even him.
He cast his vote on a 100% unverifiable touch-screen e-voting system made by Sequoia Voting Systems (which is now owned by a Canadian firm named Dominion Voting.) It is scientifically impossible to ever know if his vote was recorded accurately, as per his itent, or not on that type of voting system.
"I can't tell you who I voted for," the President joked, as noted by our colleague Mark Crispin Miller in a short blog item today wryly headlined "Obama votes for Romney". The President's joke may not have been nearly as funny as he had intended it.
We confirmed with the Chicago Board of Elections that Early Voters in the Windy City must do so on the oft-failed, incredibly-vulnerable, and easily-hacked (see below for details) Sequoia AVC Edge touch-screen voting system which is still used according to VerifiedVoting.org's database for Early, Disabled-Accessible or Standard polling place voting in some 234 jurisdictions across all or part of some 13 states, including Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Louisiana, Missouri, New Jersey, Nevada, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin.
The Intellectual Property of those Sequoia systems is still a proprietary trade secret owned by a Venezuelan firm named Smartmatic, which has been tied to the country's long-time President Hugo Chavez. That point was lied about by Sequoia's then CEO Jack Blaine when he was asked directly about it by a Chicago Alderman some years ago, as The BRAD BLOG detailed exclusively back in 2008.
A few other quick points of note which should deeply concern every voter in the nation --- of any party, or none at all --- about the 100% unverifiable Sequoia touch-screen voting systems that the President foolishly entrusted yesterday to accurately record his vote...
[UPDATE 10/24/12: We've now run through the limited number of books and DVDs that we had available. Thank you to those who helped out by donating. Your signed copies of Palast's book and DVD will be on the way to you soon! Thank you! And hopefully I'll be able to find more great premiums to offer in exchange for your support in the near future! Until then, your donations are always very welcome and still very much needed in support of the work we do here. Thank you, as ever. - Brad]
Covering this insane election season 24/7 means that I've had little or no time to try and raise funds to help keep our expenses in even minimal check here. I'm also lousy at it. I'd rather cover and break the news than raise money to help pay for doing it.
As you hopefully know, The BRAD BLOG does not receive any corporate or foundational support. We are 100% independent and need to stay that way. But that also means you guys need to help us out, if we are to keep the lights on here all.
Our muckraking BBC buddy Greg Palast has noticed the bind we're in, and has generously offered to try and help us out once again!
Again, we don't have a lot of these available, so it's first come first serve. But if you can help us out with a donation of $75 or more, we'll try to get both the signed Palast book (featuring his investigations of "the Koch Gang, Karl Rove, and Their Buck-Buddies") and his DVD off to ya ASAP, so you'll have both before the election!
Best way to get your signed copy of Greg's new book and his DVD is to donate here online with Credit Card or PayPal. (If you work quickly, you can also send a check via snail mail to: Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594, Los Angeles, CA 90028).
My great thanks in advance to any of you who can help us out here and, of course, to the good Mr. Palast!
Fox "News" has finally decided to cover the widening GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal. Sort of. Barely. And they've decided to include me in their coverage.
It took more than a week, and it was becoming embarrassing that they hadn't said a word about the national scandal rocking the Republican National Committee, so they had to say something because, ya know, "Fair and Balanced" and all.
I was interviewed by their "voter fraud" correspondent Eric Shawn late last week for use on Thursday night's Special Report with Bret Baier. He ended up running lengthier excerpts from the interview the following day on of their afternoon shows.
The video of both packages are posted in full below.
The Republican Party of Florida's top recipient of 2012 expenditures, a firm by the name of Strategic Allied Consulting, was just fired on Tuesday night, after more than 100 apparently fraudulent voter registration forms were discovered to have been turned in by the group to the Palm Beach County, FL Supervisor of Elections.
The firm appears to be another shell company of Nathan Sproul, a longtime, notorious Republican operative, hired year after year by GOP Presidential campaigns, despite being accused of shredding Democratic voter registration forms in a number of states over several past elections.
According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Strategic Allied Consulting has been paid some $667,000 this year by the FL GOP, presumably to run its voter registration campaigns in the state. That number, however, does not account for another identical payment made in August. The Palm Beach Post is reporting tonight that the firm received "more than $1.3 million" from the Republican Party of Florida "to register new voters."
The firm is not only tied to the FL GOP, but also to the Mitt Romney Campaign, which hired Sproul as a political consultant late last year, despite years of fraud allegations against his organizations in multiple states.
Moreover, the firm is also reportedly operating similar voter registration operations on behalf of the Republican Party, to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars, in a number of key battleground states this year, including North Carolina, Virginia and Colorado. Strategic Allied has recently taken steps to hide their ownership by Sproul's notorious firm, Sproul & Associates.
Palm Beach County Supervisor of Election Susan Bucher confirmed to The BRAD BLOG late this evening that she turned over 106 suspicious voter registration applications to the Florida State Attorney during a meeting yesterday afternoon in Palm Beach, after the "questionable" applications were submitted to her office by a worker for Strategic Allied.
The forms were said to all have similar signatures, changed addresses and party affiliations, and other defects which appear to have all been done by the same hand.
The case emerging in Florida tonight mirrors a similar incident reported earlier this year when more than a thousand fraudulent voter registration forms were discovered to have been turned in to the Sacramento County, CA Registrar of Voters by a group hired by that state's Republican Party.
But that's not the only similar case, as a massive GOP voter registration scheme, which appears to involve the upper-echelons of the national party, begins to emerge...
Secretary of State Jon Husted (R) has apologized to a U.S. District Court judge who ruled against him last week, after the Secretary appeared to have tried to undermine the court's ruling, pending an appeal by the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. The apology came in a motion today, after Husted was ordered by the judge to personally appear for a hearing next week.
In his ruling [PDF], Economus ordered the Secretary of State to restore Early Voting "on the three days immediately preceding Election Day for all eligible voters," just as it had been successfully implemented during the 2008 election, as the previous Sec. of State Jennifer Brunner, a Democrat, described to us during a recent interview. At the same time, the judge had also instructed the Buckeye State's current Secretary to "direct all Ohio elections boards to maintain a specific, consistent schedule on those three days, in keeping with [Husted's] earlier directive that only by doing so can he ensure that Ohio's election process is 'uniform, accessible for all, fair, and secure.'"
In response, rather than issuing a directive with uniform hours for voting in those three days before the November Presidential election, Husted issued a Directive on Tuesday notifying the state's 88 county Boards of Election that they should not establish hours for voting in those days, as the state was filing an appeal in the case.
"Announcing new hours before the court case reaches final resolution will only serve to confuse voters and conflict with the standard of uniformity," Husted wrote in the Directive, adding, "I am confident there will be sufficient time after the conclusion of the appeal process to set uniform hours across the state."
This afternoon, after being summoned to court in response to that Directive, Husted rescinded it and the state filed a motion [PDF] apologizing for what was interpreted as him having attempted to place his own personal stay on Economus' order. "The Secretary apologizes to the federal district court for creating that misimpression and has rescinded [the] Directive," the state writes in the motion, which seeks an official stay on the ruling, pending the Sixth Circuit's expedited appeal...
The recent spate of federal court victories in favor of voting rights across the nation continued today, as a U.S. District Court judge in Ohio sided with Democrats and the Obama campaign, finding that the removal of in-person Early Voting for all voters on the final three days before Election Day in the Buckeye State was an "arbitrary" decision made by the state's Republican lawmakers and Secretary of State.
The removal of in-person Early Voting in those last three days before the election --- when some 100,000 voters had cast their votes in the state during the 2008 Presidential Election --- for all but active-duty military voters, is likely to "irreparably harm" the voting rights of "low-income and minority voters [who] are disproportionately affected by the elimination of those voting days," according to the ruling by U.S. District Judge Peter Economus [PDF].
The ruling is another major win for Ohio voters, as the judge ruled in favor of the Democratic complaint seeking a temporary injunction on the state's new voting restrictions.
Through a convoluted series of legislative actions by Republican state lawmakers and rulings by Sec. of State John Husted, which we detailed earlier this month, Ohio had restricted Early Voting on the final weekend before the Tuesday election to all but active duty military voters. We also explained in that same article how the Romney campaign --- based on a false assertion initially posited by the Republican propaganda website Breitbart.com and subsequently forwarded loudly by Fox "News" --- argued dishonestly that the Obama campaign was attempting to "undermine" and restrict voting rights of the military, which the GOP nominee described on his Facebook page as an "outrage".
In fact, as the very first paragraph of the Obama complaint [PDF] made quite clear, the Democrats were not attempting to restrict the rights of military voters, but, in reality, suing to "restore in-person early voting for all Ohioans during the three days prior to Election Day," including for some 900,000 veterans in the state whose rights had similarly been removed by the Ohio Republicans.
Today, the Democrats' argument prevailed in federal court, as Economus found that "Plaintiffs have a constitutionally protected right to participate in the 2012 election --- and all elections --- on an equal basis with all Ohio voters, including [active duty military] voters"...
The decision, which otherwise seems like common sense, comes in the wake of tens of thousands of provisional ballots going uncounted after the 2008 Presidential election thanks to a provision in Ohio law which discards such ballots, even in the case where a poll worker has improperly instructed a voter to cast his or her ballot in the wrong place.
The ruling is a defeat for Ohio's Republican Sec. of State who, after working towards inclusiveness and voting rights earlier in his tenure, seems to have taken a hard right turn in many of his decisions of late, as the Presidential Election nears.
A voter might line up to vote at the wrong table/precinct, for example, only to be told they weren't found on that precinct's voter rolls and, rather than be directed by the poll worker to the correct "precinct", instructed to cast a provisional ballot at that table instead. That vote, before Monday's ruling, under existing Ohio law, would go uncounted. Many of those provisional ballots were cast in predominantly Democratic-leaning counties.
The Enquirer warned in their report last month that "tens of thousands of ballots are likely to be disqualified" once again in the key swing-state, during the 2012 Presidential election unless the provision was changed, as recommended by state election officials after the 2008 election.
On Monday, U.S. District Judge Algenon L. Marbley, citing Bush v. Gore of all things, ruled against Ohio Sec. of State Jon Husted (R), whose spokesman responded: "We respectfully disagree with the judge's ruling and will likely appeal."
Marbley found that Husted's belief that such ballots should not be counted "belies a fundamentally misguided view that the state need not protect the right to vote of individuals who, for any number of reasons, are required to cast a provisional ballot"...
Last week, as Tropical Storm Isaac was barreling towards Tampa, I posited that since Republicans "didn't get the message back in 2008" when Hurricane Gustav slammed into Louisiana on the first day of the RNC, cancelling the first day of their convention that year, it was a clear sign that "God hates the Republican National Convention".
Now that the first day of the RNC has once again been cancelled in 2012, thanks to what our own Desi Doyen dubbed "Tropical Storm Irony" during last Thursday's Green News Report, I've had time to rethink my feelings on this.
The storm, expected to turn into a hurricane in the next few hours, has already had an arguably positive effect on the RNC, as Donald Trump's appearance has now reportedly been cancelled given the shortened schedule to make up for the loss of the first day. That can only be good news for Republicans, frankly.
On the other hand...Isaac is now gaining strength and is said to be on a straight track towards New Orleans on Wednesday, as Veep pick Ryan was to give his address to the RNC, and as Mitt and friends were planning to party hardy with their best tea-bag laden hats and otherwise prepare for the balloons to drop in Tampa on Thursday night. Isaac now seems to be following in Katrina's footsteps, almost seven years to the day after that deadly storm struck, the levees failed the next day, and thousands were killed, even as Karl Rove was glad-handing fans in Crawford, TX at the same moment an entire American city was being wiped out.
Similar scenes would make for rather unseemly split-screens on network television those nights, to say the least. Might Isaac end up cancelling the entire convention this year? And would that be a good or bad thing for the 2012 crop of Republicans?
Final conclusion: God works in mysterious ways. Stay safe, NOLA!...
Brunner (author of the forthcoming Cupcakes & Courage) joined me on today's BradCast on KPFK/Pacifica Radio here in Los Angeles and offered some inside skinny on what she did in 2008 to help correct the 2004 disasters that plagued the state during that year's Presidential election debacle under her horrible predecessor, J. Kenneth Blackwell (R) --- who also served as co-chair for the Bush/Cheney re-election campaign while serving as the state's chief election official --- and what now seems to be going on under her successor Husted, as he limits Early Voting hours across the entire state, despite the great success it has been up until now for voters there.
She explained the constitutional powers of the Ohio Sec. of State and told me she believes the attempt by Republicans to shorten weekend Early Voting hours --- which were allowed as recently as this year's primary elections in Ohio --- was "clearly aimed at 'Souls to the Polls'," the effort by African-American churches to encourage their congregations to get out and vote on the Sunday before the election.
The result of all of this right now, as the former Secretary of State understated it during our conversation: "A bit of a donnybrook in Ohio."
I asked for her response to the remark by Doug Preisse, Chair of the Franklin County Republican Party and a member of the county's Board of Elections when he said he felt "we shouldn't contort the voting process to accommodate the urban --- read African-American --- voter-turnout machine." She said she felt that that --- and his response to Democrats' charge that Republicans are trying to suppress the vote is "bullshit, quote me" --- was all "very unfortunate."
"We're already in a rancorous climate, starting from Congress and the Presidential election on down," she said. "Why stir up the pot and pit voters against each other? Enough of that was done in 2008. There was so much political capital spent in 2008 on whipping up these fake allegations of voter fraud and now four years later, people realize --- what were there, ten cases around the country since 2000? --- this is so unnecessary."
"The bottom line is," she continued, "voting is not a partisan issue. It should never be a partisan issue. Having control of the rules is not political booty. It really should be a place where everyone walks into that room, they drop their partisan cloak, they stand up, they act like grown-ups, and they say 'Let's do what's fair, because our future depends on it.'"
All of that, and more, follows in today's BradCast...
"We're prepared for it, we've trained for it, we have contingency plan after contingency plan," Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn told CNN. But if the weather gets ugly, he says, "human safety, human life trumps politics."
You'll recall that the first day of the 2008 RNC in Minneapolis-St. Paul was all but scotched when Hurricane Gustav barreled through the Gulf to hit Louisiana, as the GOP was still particularly sensitive to George W. Bush's Katrina disaster just a few years earlier.
This time, God appears to be taking no chances, and is sending his wrath straight towards the site of the convention itself. At least that's what Jerry Falwell told me from the grave.