Rupture feared; Workers contaminated; New evacs 'recommended'... PLUS: German study uses French data to corroborate findings from Austrian, U.S. scientists, suggesting Fukushima disaster should be reclassified as 'level 7' accident, on par with Chernobyl...
Pima County (Tucson), Arizona Election Integrity advocate and expert John Brakey was arrested last night while performing his job as an election supervisor, on behalf of both the Democratic and Libertarian parties, during a post-election hand-count audit of ballots.
Brakey becomes the latest in a growing string of EI advocates to be arrested and/or barred from observing (Brakey was lucky enough to merit both "honors" apparently) while attempting to assure accuracy, fairness, and transparency in voting and in the reporting of election results on behalf of citizens.
The problem erupted after Brakey had noticed a number of ballot bags being counted in the post-election audit were missing their proper security seals. He began to ask questions about those bags, which eventually led to his arrest at the demand of Pima County's Brad "Election Director Gone Wild" Nelson, a man with whom Brakey has had a number of unfortunate (for Nelson) run-ins over the years.
After news of his arrest, "the county elections building was swarming with television news crews," according to a report by Election Defense Alliance (EDA), of which Brakey is a member. Indeed, KGUN's video report on the incident is very good, as the Tucson media --- given Brakey's success in lawsuits and legislation over the years on behalf of voters --- has come to see him as a reliable source on such matters...
Last night we offered the quick skinny on the abrupt resignation of Colorado's state Election Director, Holly Lowder, just 60 days out from what promises to be one of the largest and most important --- and potentially closest --- elections in the state's history.
We summarized some of the dizzying background on the exceptionally embarrassing and dysfunctional state of certification, decertification and recertification of e-voting systems in the Centennial State over the last two years, under current Sec. of State, Republican Mike Coffman (who is overseeing his own election for the U.S. House this November), and in previous years under two former Republican SoS' (one of whom was promoted by George W. Bush to do the same lousy job of e-vote testing for the U.S. Election Assistance Commission).
We also suggested, based on information from sources in the states, that the old euphemism about "election officials being in bed with voting vendors" may well become more than just a euphemism when the full explanation for Lowder's sudden departure became known.
And today, as we'd hinted last night, some of that information has now become known...
The director of elections at the secretary of state's office resigned suddenly Thursday.
The departure of Holly Lowder, former Alamosa County clerk, comes two months before what is expected to be one of the biggest elections in recent Colorado history. Lowder's work centered on the implementation of the new statewide voter registration system, said Richard Coolidge, spokesman for the agency.
Lowder could not be reached for comment.
Coolidge would not give details on why Lowder stepped down. He said Thursday was her last day.
Larimer County Clerk Scott Doyle said Lowder was more involved with the voter database early on but had become less involved in recent months.
AP reports that county officials were notified of Lowder's departure via email on Thursday, from the SoS office, which noted only that she had "retired and wanted to 'pursue other opportunities.'"
Sources in CO tell us there will be more coming, likely tomorrow, on this. We're also told that there may be a salacious aspect here that might just make the well-worn euphemism about "election officials being in bed with voting machine vendors," um, somewhat more than just a euphemism. (Talk about your voting machine "sleepovers"!)
[See update for more details on the above, now at bottom of article!]
Aside from the noteworthiness of Lowder's sudden exit, as pointed out in the article, in regard to the importance of Colorado in this year's elections --- the state's 9 electoral votes are thought to be very much up for grabs this year, despite going to Bush in the previous two elections --- BRAD BLOG readers will remember a bit of the background here concerning the utterly dysfunctional state of e-voting in the Centennial State under their current SoS, Mike Coffman...
Last night, we noted the bizarre choice of backdrop that led to the first five minutes, or so, of McCain's acceptance speech being given in front of a classic green screen. For those who watched the speech, they likely realize that the green in close-up was the lawn from a larger backdrop of what appeared to be a mansion.
Our thought: One of McCain's?! Odd choice, that.
Turns out, no, it wasn't one of his houses, it was an even dumber selection from the geniuses what run the GOP, who want you to entrust them to run the country...
John Aravosis explains what that backdrop actually was...
You're gonna love this. ... In fact, the picture was of Walter Reed. No, not Walter Reed Army Medical Center where injured troops are treated - though that was clearly McCain's intent, to use our injured troops as a political prop (just as last night they dared show footage of the planes crashing into the World Trade Center, and the towers falling) - no, in fact, McCain posted a photo of Walter Reed Middle School, a school for kids in California that has nothing to do with Walter Reed the military hospital. They actually thought the school was the Army hospital. Apparently McCain just discovered the Google.
With these chuckleheads in charge, little wonder the "war on terror" is going so well. For our money, the hit of the night last night was the courageous American from Iraq Veterans Against the War who managed to get the real message out to the whole wide world, over the pool camera feed during McCain's speech...
(NOTE: We'll be hosting The Randi Rhodes Show on Monday. We've learned it was Adam Kokesh who managed this very successful demonstration and smart use of his First Amendment freedoms last night, and we're going to try to get him on the air with us!)
Readers will recall that as of yesterday Palm Beach Co Florida officials had lost well over 3,000 ballots sometime between the primary election and an election recount. Earlier today there were announcements that over 2700 ballots had been found. Late this afternoon the officials were supposed to meet to announce whether they had found all of the missing ballots and why those ballots went missing in the first place.
Were the ballots run through the high-speed optical scan machines during the recount and did the machines pick-up two or more ballots at a time thus not counting all of the ballots? Or, were the ballots in bins that were never counted?
The media is not clear on this issue yet so we are going to have to wait to find this out. If the machines were, in fact, grabbing two or more ballots at a time jurisdictions around the country need to be made aware of this possibility.
Meanwhile a report from Broward Co of the result of their state-mandated audit is a bit troubling. The county appears to have hand-counted one race on ballots from 16 precincts. The media is reporting that nine of the precincts hand-count matches the machine results. Seven precincts resembled original results by 95 percent or more. That is a huge number and should raise red flags.
Instead one official said, “When you're dealing with people and paper, that's the best you're going to get.” How about agreeing 100% and you keep counting until you are sure that the people and paper are not the problem and then you find out what problem the machines had?...
ST. PAUL, Minn. - Greeted by thunderous applause, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin presented herself to the Republican National Convention on Wednesday, and millions of Americans watching from home, as a small-town outsider ready to join John McCain's ticket in waging "a tough fight in this election against confident opponents at a crucial hour for our country."
Largely unknown outside her home state, Palin told the convention: "I had the privilege of living most of my life in a small town. I was just your average hockey mom, and signed up for the PTA because I wanted to make my kids' public education better," she said, speaking of her home town of Wasilla, Alaska, with a population of about 6,500.
Before becoming governor, Palin served as mayor of Wasilla, she recounted, adding: "And since our opponents in this presidential election seem to look down on that experience, let me explain to them what the job involves. I guess a small-town mayor is sort of like a 'community organizer,' except that you have actual responsibilities."
UPDATE:AP does some fact-checking on Palin's speech and notes that "In some cases" she "stretched the truth." Here's a couple of the examples they offer (similar fact-checks are also offered, at the same link, for Romney and Huckabee's speeches):
PALIN: ''I have protected the taxpayers by vetoing wasteful spending ... and championed reform to end the abuses of earmark spending by Congress. I told the Congress 'thanks but no thanks' for that Bridge to Nowhere.''
THE FACTS: As mayor of Wasilla, Palin hired a lobbyist and traveled to Washington annually to support earmarks for the town totaling $27 million. In her two years as governor, Alaska has requested nearly $750 million in special federal spending, by far the largest per-capita request in the nation. While Palin notes she rejected plans to build a $398 million bridge from Ketchikan to an island with 50 residents and an airport, that opposition came only after the plan was ridiculed nationally as a ''bridge to nowhere.''
PALIN: ''The Democratic nominee for president supports plans to raise income taxes, raise payroll taxes, raise investment income taxes, raise the death tax, raise business taxes, and increase the tax burden on the American people by hundreds of billions of dollars.''
THE FACTS: The Tax Policy Center, a think tank run jointly by the Brookings Institution and the Urban Institute, concluded that Obama's plan would increase after-tax income for middle-income taxpayers by about 5 percent by 2012, or nearly $2,200 annually. McCain's plan, which cuts taxes across all income levels, would raise after tax-income for middle-income taxpayers by 3 percent, the center concluded.
The nearly-exhaustive linked list of things we know (so far) about the Alaskan Governor and John McCain's selection of her as his Veep, begins by asking what the choice says about McCain's decision making process. Near the top of the list comes the following admissions from the Arizona Senators' own autobiography, explaining what the blogger describes as McCain's "COLOSSALLY bad judgement" in selecting Palin:
"I make them (decisions) quickly as I can, quicker than the other fellow, if I can," Mr. McCain wrote, with his top adviser Mark Salter, in his 2002 book, "Worth the Fighting For." "Often my haste is a mistake, but I live with the consequences without complaint.
The news from Palm Beach Co Florida is not getting any better. The official recount is complete as required by the state. By state law they have exactly one week to count ballots, rectify any problems, do any required recounts, and certify that everything is correct. Of course that is all without any court orders and it looks more and more like this election will be going to the courts.
The original election evening count seems to have been 102,523 and the final recount total was 99,045. The only race that was recounted was a race for a judicial seat and the winner flipped from one candidate to another from the original to the final recount. The original difference was 17 votes and the final was 60 votes.
The big question is what happened to over 3,400 ballots. The losing candidate will be going to court to ask that question among others. And now any candidate in any other race who lost by less than 3,400 votes is also being encouraged to go to court and demand a recount or re-election.
There is a lot wrong with this situation. The state is wrong in forcing a quick handling of the ballots. No wonder mistakes are made and more seem to be made in Florida than most other states. A complete investigation must be held inside the county to figure out what happened and why it happened. Was it administration issues or the voting system? And why did members of the county canvassing board sign an official document that had no final numbers on it? The voters need to know that and they need to know before November....
The wealth of material on Sen. John McCain's Veep pick, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, just keeps getting richer. Apparently the old saying that you can never be too rich or too thin applies to resumes.
Last night, Brad covered a wide-range of recently emerging issues and concerns about Palin --- and McCain's judgment in having chosen her --- and asked whether she can even survive on the ticket through November 4th. Today, the New York Times front pages an Elisabeth Bumiller report revealing that McCain seems to have only begun vetting Palin last week, after his two preferred selections, pro-choice advocates Sen. Joe Lieberman and Gov. Mark Ridge, were nixed by the party's right wing.
So as Republicans scramble to vet their choice far too late, additional revelations continue to emerge (notably, beginning in the blogosphere, long before the MSM finally catches up.) The latest latest comes via Liz Arnett at Daily Kos, and includes videos in which the Alaska governor is seen as a member and supporter of the fringe Alaskan Independence Party (AIP), which aspires to secession from the union.
Steve Benen regards this latest information about Palin's past as perhaps "the most politically detrimental" of all the recently emerging discoveries about the little-known-until-now Governor of Alaska...
It's only Monday. John McCain announced his selection of Sarah Palin as his VP on Friday. Given that we've had a hurricane, the wrap of one convention, the beginning of another, and all of it over a Labor Day weekend, it's amazing how many questions about Palin --- and McCain's judgment in selecting her --- have come to light in just the past four days.
Were it not for the near-total lock on the media by the right wing, I can't see how she'd possibly make it through another week, much less the General Election. Even with that lock, I still don't see how she ultimately survives at this rate.
(Though Dem partisans might be careful what they wish for, as a second shot at it will almost certainly bring a more sensible, and palatable, pick.)
The most salacious of the concerns (so far) came today, as 1) the admission that Palin's unwed teenage daughter is pregnant and 2) she's now lawyering up in Alaska to fight the "TrooperGate" investigation.
And then there are all the other concerns and questions, becoming legion by the hour. The mountain of revelations has led conservative Andrew Sullivan to declare, in regard to McCain's arguably most important decision of the campaign: "McCain is more incompetent as an executive than Bush."
Obama partisan John Aravosis notes that McCain had six months to the make this decision, "longer to consider that choice than any other presidential candidate in history." Yet tomorrow's New York Times reveals that after McCain's first choices of Lieberman and Ridge were nixed by the wingnuts, he caved to them, and hastily installed Palin with virtually no vetting whatsoever. Add that to what's already known about McCain's flubbed roll-out of Palin (she was in favor of the "Bridge to Nowhere" before she was against it, she raised taxes even though they said she was a tax-cutter, etc.) and this Veep nomination is clearly in trouble
And if all of the above wasn't disaster enough for both Palin, and more importantly, McCain, there are the more routine questions of her actual positions and qualifications. You know, the stuff that's normally important to someone nominated to be a heartbeat away from the Presidency.
Take a look at this painful drubbing that McCain spokesman Tucker Bounds took from CNN's Campell Brown, of all people (she leans consistently right, and is married to diehard Bush Admin loyalist Dan Senor --- a point the network, to my knowledge, and its continuing shame, rarely, if ever, discloses) on the topic of Palin's foreign affairs experience...or utter lack thereof.
Then there's the more mundane, such as this chestnut, courtesy of Andrew Sullivan again:
Q: Are you offended by the phrase "Under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance? Why or why not?
PALIN: Not on your life. If it was good enough for the founding fathers, its good enough for me and I’ll fight in defense of our Pledge of Allegiance.
The phrase was added in 1954.
How she survives, I can only imagine; it has to be because we live in the media world we live in. But never mind what happens, for the truth of the issue, no matter how it's reported, Sullivan sums it up nicely:
"You know what this pick reminds me of? Invading a country with no plans for what to do once you got there."
16,632 votes are unaccounted for in a Palm Beach County election recount following last Tuesday's state primary, according to Ellen H. Brodsky, non-partisan candidate for Supervisor of Elections in Broward County and a long-time Election Integrity advocate.
The machine recount was completed early Saturday morning in the Circuit Court race between Judge Richard Wennet and challenger William Abramson, Brodsky reports via email. The machine recount was completed at 4:30am, in the race in which Wennet and Abramson were separated by just 18 votes in the initial machine tally. Palm Beach County recently changed voting systems again, moving from faulty touch-screen voting systems to --- apparently --- faulty optical-scan paper-ballot systems made by Sequoia Voting Systems, Inc. [PDF].
The still-unexplained "disappearance" of votes in the machine recount "has severe repercussions," Brodsky wrote in an email alert this afternoon describing the re-scan of some 90,000 ballots.
"With 16,632 less votes on summary report," she writes, it "portends dire consequences for the November election and all elections."
The question remains as to how many votes were lost in other races on the same ballot which were not included in last night's re-tally. Florida state law disallows hand-counting of paper ballots which have already been counted by machine, other than in special circumstances. We'll see if this ends up being one of those circumstances. Theoretically, a hand-count would determine the correct totals for the race, where the machine-count has misreported totals. [UPDATE: Palm Beach Post reports the machine recount was close enough to allow for a hand-count of over votes and undervotes. See more in the update at end of this article.]
Sequoia's voting machines have seen notorious failures of late, including lost votes and other problems, around the country...
On August 10, Karl Rove went on “Face The Nation” to argue that Senator Obama would make an “intensely political choice” for Vice President without regard for the “responsibilities of president.” At the time, Rove believed Obama would choose Tim Kaine, and argued against him by saying this:
With all due respect again to Governor Kaine, he’s been a governor for three years, he’s been able but undistinguished. I don’t think people could really name a big, important thing that he’s done. He was mayor of the 105th largest city in America. And again, with all due respect to Richmond, Virginia, it’s smaller than Chula Vista, California; Aurora, Colorado; Mesa or Gilbert, Arizona; north Las Vegas or Henderson, Nevada. It’s not a big town. So if he were to pick Governor Kaine, it would be an intensely political choice where he said, `You know what? I’m really not, first and foremost, concerned with, is this person capable of being president of the United States?
Rove argues that Kaine’s mayorship of Richmond (pop. 200,000+) is insignificant and that his 3 years as Governor of Virginia (pop. 7,712,091, GDP $383 million) has been “indistinguisahable.” If Rove was intellectually consistent, wouldn’t that mean Palin’s mayorship of Wasilla (pop. 8,000+) and 20 months as Alaska governor (pop. 683,478, GDP $44.5 million) makes her even less qualified than Kaine?
So, Karl, who made the “intensely political choice”?