TALLAHASSEE — A new pitch for John McCain's presidential campaign aimed at older Democratic voters is causing complaints by Democrats and concern by elections officials.
The piece, paid for by the Republican National Committee and authorized by McCain, tells voters it is seeking to double-check their "unconfirmed" party affiliations while asking for money. A letter signed by McCain tells the Democrats: "We have you registered as a Republican."
"I was a little bit shocked and a little bit surprised," said recipient Bill Smith, 81, of Tampa, who calls himself a lifelong Democrat and has been registered at his current address since 2000.
The RNC declined to discuss the mailer, which Democrats said has landed in five counties: Duval, Hillsborough, Collier, Miami-Dade and Escambia.
The article goes on to note that FL's Republican SoS Kurt Browning believes the mailing is "confusing" and "unfortunate", but does not note whether or not he plans to do anything about it. We're not holding our breath. Neither are we holding it for Democrats down there to do much about it either.
The mailings sent to registered Democrats appear to be classic "caging" letters, marked as "Do Not Forward", so that they will then be returned to the GOP if there is any problem with delivery. Those returned letters will likely then be used as a basis to challenge the legitimacy of those particular voters on Election Day....
MSNBC reports on the Dem injunction filed this week to try and stop the MI GOP's "anything-to-win" scheme to use home foreclosure lists to challenge voters at the polls this year. Kieth Olbermann discusses the matter with Allen Raymond, the formerly-jailed Republican, election rigger, and author of How To Rig an Election. Raymond notes that the scheme, while unseemly, is hardly unusual for the GOP...
Rather than being cowed by the press' mini-sermons about truth-telling, McCain and Palin are practically laughing at the press.
Can you blame them?
Nope, and Eric Boehlert explains why. After years of having abdicated their Constitutionally-guaranteed role as watchdog for the public, the corporate media's too-little, too-late, temporary stint at actually reporting is now regarded as little more than a joke. And one that not even McCain/Palin feel they need to take seriously. What they've sowed, so shall we reap.
I'll once again be hosting KPFK/Pacifica's "Special Election Year Coverage" hour from 2p-3p PT (5p-6p ET) today (Wednesday).
I hope to be focusing on plans (or lack thereof) by both Democrats and Republicans to help protect your vote, though neither the Obama/DNC nor the McCain/RNC has so far been particularly forthcoming in offering a rep to discuss those plans. So if they don't show up, I guess I'll have to discuss their plans myself. To bad for them, I guess.
Guests scheduled for today...
JON GREENBAUM - Director of the National Lawyers Committee's Voting Rights Project, on their new, non-partisan, 866OurVote.org election protection effort announced today.
KPFK is heard at 90.7FM in Los Angeles and 98.7FM in Santa Barbara and streams live on the net at KPFK.org. Please tune in, stream in, and call-in at 818-985-5735, if you like.
POST-SHOW UPDATE: It was another lively, and hopefully very informative show today, with a bunch o' great calls and more. Unfortunately, our best laid plans for Mark Crispin Miller were for naught, as we lost him on the Long Island Railroad somewhere, but Jon Greenbaum was great, with a lotta good info, and some interesting information concerning the National Lawyers Committee's support for a bill that supported the continued use of touch-screen voting machines. I'm hopeful they will consider changing their position in the future, even as they're doing a great job of serving the voters with their 866-OUR-VOTE election protection effort this season!
BTW...I hope those within spittin' distance of L.A. will come to the screening of Uncounted in Los Angeles --- as mentioned during the show, next Tuesday (9/23) at Fairfax Cinemas, 7907 Beverly Blvd. --- where you'll be able to spit on me, filmmaker David Earnhardt, "Diebold Document Whistleblower" Steve Heller, and host Jerry Quickly of KPFK in the Q&A that follows. If you can't come, you can get the DVD at the website, OR help support our work here and get a special version of the DVD, signed by Earnhardt, in exchange for a contribution of $50 or more to The BRAD BLOG.
I've been quite critical of the Obama/DNC plan (or lack thereof) for "election protection" this year, noting that it looks, smells and sounds a lot like a slightly beefed-up version of the Kerry/DNC "we'll have thousands of lawyers in place on Election Day should anything go wrong."
On Election Day, of course, if DNC lawyers are still trying to keep up with what's going on, it's already game over. While for years Osama Bin Laden and Muslim extremists had supposedly declared war on the U.S., as the legend goes, America paid little attention until it was too late. So it is with the raging Republican War on Democracy, where proactive steps are necessary (beginning long ago, but we'll take what we can get at this point) to join the war and push back against the GOP's assault on the most democratic of all values, the right to freely cast one's vote, to have that vote counted, and to have it counted accurately.
Back in 2006, after speaking to a group of DNC election attorneys in Chicago, I wrote about the "Dysfunction at the DNC" and the persistent cluelessness they had displayed at the time concerning a number of very real threats to our electoral system. While Obama has certainly displayed a tendency to understand at least some of the issues at stake --- far more so than his '04 counterpart --- the party, from every sign I'm able to get, remains out of touch with the serious threats they face: from the massive front-end disenfranchisement efforts, about which they are at least somewhat aware, to the back-end disenfranchisement efforts via manipulation and/or often-undiscoverable "tabulation error" of completely un-transparent electronic voting systems used in virtually every county, in every state in the union.
So we may be grasping for any optimistic straw we can find here, but at least today we have one such sign of proactivity from the Obama/DNC that we can tell you about...
"Strategists say that Mr. McCain can now count on a more motivated social conservative base to help him in areas like southern Ohio, where the 2004 race was settled."
--The New York Times, Sept. 7, 2008, A1
"In investigating the 2004 election in Ohio--examining pollbooks, talking to pollworkers and election officials, as well as reading local newspaper accounts --we could find no data of a late surge to the polls by born-again Christians. What we did find is certified voting totals in areas favoring Bush that didn't match the number of voters who officially signed-in on the poll sign-in sheets."
--Email from Bob Fitrakis of The Columbus Free Press, Sept. 7, 2008
To understand how Team McCain intends to get away with stealing this election, we must recall how Team Bush got away with it four years ago. (Those aren't two different teams.)
The plan for stealing this contest has everything to do with the ostensibly surprising choice of Sarah Palin as McCain's VP.
Wow. Poor Tucker Bounds. First CNN's right-leaning Campbell Brown (she's married to Bush Admin loyalist/lackey Dan Senor, despite the fact that CNN rarely, if ever, discloses that serious conflict of interest) committed a rare act of actual journalism by asking Bounds what foreign affairs experience Sarah Palin had. The McCain/Palin shill had nothing, and embarrassed himself under Brown's repeated, and responsible, prodding. So the McCain camp subsequently cancelled an interview with CNN's Larry King, claiming "that exchange was over the line" because Brown bothered to ask actual questions, and follow-ups, of their campaign.
And now, it seems that even Fox "News" is holding a McCain foot to the fire for some currently inexplicable reason. Fox's Megyn Kelly went after Bounds in regard to the McCain camp's continuing lies, and new ad claiming Obama plans to raise taxes on the middle class, despite countless independent think-tanks that have studied the Obama tax plan and have reported the McCain claim to be simply untrue.
"I want to hold you accountable for what McCain is doing," Kelly said for some reason today. ThinkProgress has details, here's their video...
The remarkable video of Brown's grilling of Bounds on CNN during the Republican Convention follows below, in case you missed it previously, or in case you'd like a nourishing second helping of freshly grilled Tucker...
Despite last week's agreement by the Dept. of Veteran Affairs to follow federal law --- after months of pressure from vet groups, members of Congress, and the public --- and relent to allow voter registration drives on the department's federal facilities, The BRAD BLOG has learned that the department is continuing to block non-partisan groups access to our wounded warriors in order to sign up voters. With most voter registration deadlines for the general election just one month away, the continuing stonewall, in this case by the San Francisco VA, continues to outrage.
The non-partisan Veterans for Peace organization has now been forced to file an emergency motion with the court in order to gain access. They contacted us this morning with the following statement...
Preminger Seeks Enforcement of Court Mandate Against VA Interference with Voter Registration Drives
By Scott Rafferty, attorney | Press Release
PUBLISHED: September 15, 2008
WASHINGTON – On September 12, 2008, the San Francisco VA prohibited Veterans for Peace (“VFP”) from registering voters, even though a recent “directive” instructs local officials to “facilitate” nonpartisan groups who wish to register voters. VFP is 501(c)(3) humanitarian and educational organization. VA officials told VFP that their visit would be delayed for at least 12 days by an investigation into each visitors “political activities” and a tuberculosis test, which requires two medical appointments. This violates a February 2008 court mandate.
In February 2008, the Federal Circuit in Washington held that VA cannot impose special requirements on visitors because of the content of their message. The Federal Circuit ruled that the VA cannot use its rule against “unauthorized demonstrations” to interfere with voter registration unless there is physical “disturbance” that also offends “decorum and decency.”
Today’s emergency motion seeks to enforce that order.
"Having registered only 414 veterans nationwide, the VA needs all the help it can get," notes the press release from VFP, which continues in full below...
Following up on the arrest last week of Pima County (Tuscon), Arizona, election integrity advocate John Brakey... You'll recall, he was arrested after noticing that some 7 out of 10 bags of ballots being counted during a post-election audit last week were missing their proper security seals.
As an election observer representing both the Libertarian and Democratic parties during the hand-count audit of a Sept. 2nd state Primary, Brakey began to ask questions about the bags --- which had supposedly been chosen at random the day before --- prompting Pima's Brad "Election Director Gone Wild" Nelson to call the sheriff on him.
Despite the missing seals (which even Nelson admitted to himself, as seen in the Channel 9-KGUN video report we posted with our original coverage of the incident), the Pima County Board of Supervisors went ahead and certified the election canvass anyway, "over the objections of activists who wanted the county to wait until an additional hand audit could be conducted over the weekend," according to the Arizona Daily Star.
"The supervisors said they were very concerned about persistent problems in the Division of Elections, but they could not legally postpone the canvass," the paper reported over the weekend. That, despite a news conference that Brakey and the other activists held late in the week to call for a new audit, using properly sealed ballots, "and focusing on contested supervisor races, of which there were three."
They have also called for the removal of the beleaguered, hot-headed and perhaps even criminal Nelson, after years of problems and obstructions from the Pima Election Director. According to the Daily Star, at least one of the Supervisors agrees it's time for Nelson to to be removed...
On Friday, Judge Tomi Green of the Hind County, Mississippi, circuit court issued an order [7 page pdf] pertaining to the case of Trudy Berger, et al. vs Governor Haley Barbour and Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann. For background on this case, see our coverage from Thursday, but in brief, Barbour and Hosemann recently issued a sample ballot for the upcoming general election, as required by state law. They buried the special election for Senator Trent Lott's (R) old seat --- between former Mississippi governor Ronnie Musgrove (D) and Roger Wicker (R) --- at the very bottom of the ballot, even though state law requires that races for federal office must be at the top of the ballot.
Despite the clear state law, Barbour and Hosemann claimed that, because this was a special election, it should go at the bottom of the ballot. We believe it was an attempt on their part to "hide" the race, because while Wicker is slightly ahead in the polls currently, he is thought to be vulnerable and Musgrove, a popular former governor, may well unseat Wicker (who was temporarily appointed by Barbour to fill Lott's seat following his resignation at the beginning of the year.)
In Judge Green's ruling, she ordered the Governor and Secretary of State to follow the law. She ordered that the Musgrove/Wicker race must be near the top of the ballot with the other federal races. She found that because the Musgrove/Wicker race is a special election, it should be indicated as such not by placing it at the bottom of the ballot, but that it "must be accomplished by simply bold typing 'SPECIAL ELECTION' as a 'header' above the title of the office sought."
Barbour has announced he will appeal the decision...
In today’s featured article the Brennan Center for Justice and the Advancement Project have reported that thousands of Florida voters may be disenfranchised by a last minute decision by the Secretary of State, Kurt Browning, to enforce a “no match, no vote” law. “No match, no vote” essentially says that if a voters name or information on their registration does not exactly match their name or information on their ID they cannot vote or they can vote a provisional ballot and take the same ID to the county election office after the election to prove they are who they say they are.
"This 11th-hour decision is an ill-advised move to apply a policy the state has never enforced in its current form, at a time when registration activity is at its highest," stated Beverlye Neal, director of the Florida State Conference of the NAACP, a plaintiff in a lawsuit that challenges Florida's matching law. "The Secretary's decision will put thousands of real Florida citizens at risk due to bureaucratic typos that under the 'no-match, no-vote' law will prevent them from voting this November," said Alvaro Fernandez of the Southwest Voter Registration and Education Project, another plaintiff in the case.
"Voters who do everything right, who submit forms that are complete, timely, and accurate, will suddenly find themselves unregistered when they go to vote, just because someone somewhere punched the wrong letter on a keyboard," said Myrna Pérez, counsel at the Brennan Center for Justice. "The no match, no vote policy is unjust and unnecessary, and Florida voters will pay the price this fall," stated Jean-Robert Lafortune, president of the Haitian-American Grassroots Coalition, another plaintiff in the lawsuit...
I've been getting panicked email and phone calls, and everything else, since a caller to the Thom Hartmann Program yesterday mentioned receiving an Absentee Ballot Request form in the mail from the McCain campaign. Apparently, the caller from Wisconsin was a Democrat, suspected foul play (and not without reason!) and was followed by several other callers and emailers reporting the same in that state and others around the country.
Lee Rayburn, who was guest hosting for Thom, called me just after he got off the air yesterday to let me know what was going on, and to forward some of the emails he had been receiving so I could check them out to figure out what was going on. In fact, I had already received some of those McCain Absentee Ballot Request forms from others in the days preceding yesterday's show.
Well, with panic among Dems (understandably) reaching a fevered pitch by last night, claims of "massive Republican vote caging" going on, as based on these mailings, he asked me to come on today and explain what I was able to learn about the situation. (Audio of interview posted below.)
As discussed during my appearance with Lee on Thom's show this morning, in this case at least, those mailers seem to be generally on the up and up. While it appears to be a massive and very aggressive GOTV effort from the McCain campaign --- even targeting Democrats in places they consider "swing states," like Wisconsin --- there doesn't seem to be anything nefarious going on with these particular mailings. At least so far as I've been able to tell...
On Tuesday, while the corporate media was helping along John McCain's faux controversy over lipstick and farm animals, and while Republicans were otherwise preparing to celebrate 9/11 on Thursday, a group of so-called "third-party" Presidential candidates gathered for a news conference at the National Press Club, as sponsored by Congressman Ron Paul (R-TX)'s CampaignForLiberty.org. Paul's introductory statement, endorsing third-party candidates as a whole, is here.
Paul recently announced his refusal to endorse his party's nominee, John McCain, despite their personal entreaties. The entire press conference is on video here.
The three candidates who did show, all spoke to various aspects of the detrimental nature of the dangerous two-party duopoly the country is currently saddled with, thanks in no small part to the corporate media's unwavering support thereof. (See this condescending coverage from WaPo clown Dana Milbank, whose never run for even dog catcher, as far as I know, much less President on a national party ticket, by way of just one such example.)
Only McKinney spoke directly to the issues surrounding Election Integrity. She is, to my knowledge, the only Presidential candidate of any party this year, to speak substantively to the most important matter underscoring every freedom we have and every serious issue we face in this nation.
She begins her remarks by pointing out: "What has not been mentioned this morning, and has rarely been mentioned throughout this presidential election season, is the issue of election integrity." She speaks rather eloquently both about "massive disenfranchisement" and "manipulation of electronic voting machines." The video clip of her comments on the topic (appx. 3 mins, courtesy Alan Breslauer) is below. A text-transcript is included at the end of this article…
None of the candidates, including McKinney, have yet signed the StandingForVoters.org pledge to challenge any questionable election results and not concede until every vote is counted, and counted accurately. We (The BRAD BLOG is a co-founder of VelvetRevolution.us, the creators of the StandingForVoters.org initiative) welcome all such candidates, from any political party, running for any office on the national, state or local level, to sign the pledge and stand up for voters as they have/will stand up for them. The SFV campaign calls on voters to demand candidates sign the pledge, and makes materials available to hand to them during campaign events. For more info, see the website or write to info@StandingForVoters.org.
The text transcript of Cynthia McKinney's statement yesterday on Election Integrity, follows below…
D.C. election officials blamed a defective computer memory cartridge yesterday for producing what appeared to be thousands of write-in votes that officials say did not exist.
The glitch caused initially inaccurate results in several contests, including two high-profile council races, and created a chaotic scene at Board of Elections and Ethics headquarters Tuesday night. Even with an extremely low turnout, there was no clarity well after midnight, when 50 people, among them candidates and their attorneys, crowded into the election board lobby and demanded answers from officials.
These are voting machines made by Sequoia Voting Systems, whose systems have failed in many recent elections. Their Edge touch-screen system, with its Verivote paper-trail printer, was featured in a video released this week by the UC Santa Barbra Computer Security Group. The video from the scientists at UCSB offers step-by-step instructions on how a single person can hack such a voting system, in about two-seconds, resulting in a county-wide flipped election that even a full post-election hand count of the systems paper trails would not reveal.
It has been pointed out on one of my mailing lists that this same issue may have taken place in Alameda Co, CA, in Feb. 2008.
UPDATE: As expected Sequoia Voting Systems has now made a statement that their investigation shows that the problem was user error or --- in a fresh new excuse for the company --- possibly even "static discharge". The Washington Post reports: