"What is a vote worth?" Venango County, PA's Election Board Chairman Craig Adams, a Republican, asked last week. "If the vote is counted it is priceless. If it is not counted, I don't care what it costs. Let's get a right."
"After months of legal wrangling," Marybeth Kuznik of the non-partisan Election Integrity advocacy group VotePA told The BRAD BLOG last week, Venango County's landmark independent forensic examination of the notoriously unreliable and 100% unverifiable ES&S iVotronic Direct Recording Electronic (DRE, most often touch-screen) e-voting system finally got under way.
Kuznik explained that the study comes in the wake of the heavily Republican-leaning county having experienced "numerous reports of vote-flipping, candidates missing from screens, write-ins missing, and high undervote rates in their May 17 Primary." Some candidates on the ballots even were reported by the voting machines to have received zero votes...
Guest blogged by Ernest A. Canning
(With additional reporting and snark by Brad Friedman)
Maine's GOP Chairman, Charlie Webster, displayed a remarkable level of ignorance about the right of college students to register and vote in the Pine Tree State during a recent appearance on local radio, weeks after virtually everyone in the state has been trying to explain to him that he is off his nut.
Earlier this summer, Webster raised eyebrows (and more than a few laughs) when he brought the names of some 200 out-of-state college students to the ME Secretary of State, seeking an investigation for "voter fraud."
"I am convinced that my research proves that [voter] fraud is a problem, and I’ve only found the tip of the iceberg," Webster said during a press conference at the State House at the time, though he shared no evidence of any of the students having voted twice, or otherwise having illegally registered.
"Josh", a Right-leaning caller from Madison, WI and a self-identified "civil" and "very fair" person was incredulous that Wisconsin's new voter-suppressing polling place Photo ID restrictions would actually disenfranchise any voters, since they would have a year, he said, to get themselves one if they didn't already have one.
Most telling, though, was the way "Josh" --- a seemingly nice guy, but one who has been used and abused by the folks on the Right who are playing him for an idiot --- began his call explaining what a fair person he was because, as he informed me, he "used to have a Muslim co-worker" with whom he was able to "sit and talk". They even "used to be able to debate" without, presumably, the Muslim co-worker trying to blow him up or, I guess, vice versa!
Here's my amusing/distressing conversation with "Josh" from the Tuesday, June 21 Mike Malloy Show. [Appx 4.5 mins]...
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By the way, here's some information on those 80- and 90-year old nuns turned away from the polling place in 2008 for lack of Photo ID, as I mentioned in reply to "Josh" during the call. And here are the remarkable hoops those nuns, and everybody else in Indiana, must now jump through in order to keep their vote from being completely thrown out if they don't happen to have an Indiana-issued Photo ID on Election Day.
Ironic, all of that, particularly in light of Charlie White, Indiana's new Republican Sec. of State (charged with overseeing the state's election laws), who is currently facing 7 felony indictments, 3 of them for voter fraud, which, curiously enough, were not detected or deterred by Indiana's draconian, voter-suppressing, polling place Photo ID restrictions. But, I guess, he's not a 90-year old nun, a student, or a WWII veteran.
[Update 1/27/11: IL's Supreme Court has determined Emanuel meets the residency requirements to run for Mayor in Chicago, overturning the lower court's ruling referenced below. Not that any of that makes any difference in regard to the details about Chicago's voting system as offered in the following article. So please read on.]
Perhaps you've been keeping up with the kerfuffle over the past day or two over former White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel's bid to be on Chicago's ballot in the upcoming February mayoral race there. On Monday, a court determined his residency status was not sufficient and ordered him removed from the ballot, while on Tuesday the court of appeals has temporarily stayed that order, leaving him on the ballot for now, after agreeing to hear his appeal.
But in modern-day Chicago, "appearing on the ballot" is not quite as straightforward as one might think, given the 100% unverifiable touch-screen voting systems now forced on hundreds of thousands of voters in the Windy City.
Over the years, we've covered specific failures of the very same Sequoia e-voting systems that are used in Chicago and elsewhere across the country, as well as the remarkable duplicity of the company's top officials. So it seems like this would be a good moment to remind folks of the most disturbing Sequoia/Chicago related incidents.
One involves Oprah's "lost" vote on the Sequoia touch-screen systems used there in the 2008 Presidential general election, the other involves the CEO of Sequoia Voting Systems simply lying to Chicago officials about his company's direct business partnership with a Venezuelan e-voting firm tied to Hugo Chavez, and the fact that the Venezuelan firm, Smartmatic, still owns the intellectual property (IP) rights to the e-voting systems used by Chicago voters --- even as the new owners of Sequoia continue to lie about it...
In a recent article, "The Left Has Nowhere to Go", Chris Hedges joins Ralph Nader in attributing the quadrennial failure of third party candidates to muster a meaningful challenge to the two-party system to a "cowardice" of the left.
Hedges, who described a 2008 vote for either Nader or Cynthia McKinney as "an act of defiance," quotes Nader as stating that "the more outrageous the Republicans become...the more the left has to accept the slightly less outrageous corporate Democrats." Hedges adds:
Nader fears a repeat of the left’s cowardice in the next election, a cowardice that has further empowered the lunatic fringe of the Republican Party, maintained the role of the Democratic Party as a lackey for corporations, and accelerated the reconfiguration of the country into a neo-feudalist state. Either we begin to practice a fierce moral autonomy and rise up in multiple acts of physical defiance that have no discernible short-term benefit, or we accept the inevitability of corporate slavery.
While Nader and Hedges have accurately described the existing "lesser evil" paradigm as coming into play during each Presidential election, where only one Republican and one Democrat are perceived as "viable" options, neither Nader nor Hedges acknowledges the extent to which their own tactical inflexibility has reinforced the existing paradigm.
Nader himself would be wise to reflect on that reality in advance of the 2012 primary season...
Scary black man with weapon outside a polling place somewhere!!! It's a scandal!!! A "voter suppression" outrage!!! And Obama's scary black men are coming to get you next!!!
I don't care much about this silly story and, apparently, neither did any voters. Not a single one of them filed a complaint of "voter intimidation" during the 2008 "incident" captured on video for a minute or so outside a polling place in a largely minority area of Philadelphia and then played endlessly on Fox "News" ever since. Naturally, the footage is always accompanied by some sort of pretend "outrage" from the Fox host in each instance.
As the incident has even less relevance to the lives of Americans as the death of Natalie Holloway, we haven't covered it more than once or twice here, most recently last July when Washington Post Ombudsman Andrew Alexander took the bait in support of his paper's regard of the non-story as some sort of "political bombshell".
But, with the death-by-fake-scandal of ACORN, the Republicans need something on which to hang their fake, vaguely "voter fraud"-related, very much black people-related investigations in Congress as they take over the majority in the House. So, get used to it. We're all gonna be forced to hear about this silly story --- over and over again --- whether we like it or not, in the coming months (and, probably even years!) as the GOP hold hearings and "investigations" on this story, rather than on ones which actually matter.
So to that end, if you're not already familiar with the ridiculous "scandal" concerning the "intimidation" by two jackasses from the so-called "New Black Panther Party" at a polling place in 2008, Adam Serwer's summary at WaPo today (of all places) has you covered. He's even honest enough to take his paper on directly for the ink they continue to give to the non-story courtesy of their Rightwing columnist (one of many) Jennifer Rubin.
Gosh, I wonder if, when the GOP hold their hearings on "voter intimidation" at the polling place, they'll also be demanding that Eric Holder prosecute this guy as well. Somehow, I'm doubting it.
Democratic operatives took pictures Tuesday of Lawrence Moretti near a polling place at 848 N. Mill Road in Addison wearing a black jacket and a blue cap with bright yellow letters emblazoned with the letters "ICE," the logo of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency.
"First of all, that polling place is located in a heavily Hispanic area," said DuPage Democratic Party Chairman Bob Peickert. "He had choices between hats that he could have put on his head and he chose one that could lead someone to conclude he was a law enforcement officer. What motivates him to stand out in front of that place if for no other reason than to intimidate?"
Local GOP officials in heavily Republican DuPage County say charges that Moretti's presence for hours in front of a heavily-Hispanic polling place wearing an "ICE" cap amounts to any kind of "intimidation" are baseless. Of course, this is the same county where the far Rightwing Republican Party operative, Dan Curry, who runs a blog called ReverseSpin.com is actually paid $3,000 a month by tax-payers [PDF] to serve as Public Relations director for the shamelessly partisan county Election Commission, as we described to the editors of the Naperville Sun following one of Curry's hit pieces on behalf of the Commission in 2008.
The issue also serves to put a long-manufactured and ginned-up Republican/Fox "News" charge of "voter intimidation" from 2008 in an interesting new light.
Here's the GOP's remarkable response to the charges of "intimidation" by Moretti in the Daily Herald...
The political positions of those describing themselves as sympathetic to the "Tea Party" represent a vast minority view, far outside of the mainstream positions represented by 2008 voters, according to a new poll commissioned by Project Vote.
The study finds self-described "Tea Partiers," and their political concerns, are far outweighed by the views of everyone else, despite the absurdly out-of-proportion coverage granted to them by the corporate mainstream media.
Analysis of the findings from around the net also underscores what we've long argued here at The BRAD BLOG: the Tea Baggers don't actually give a damn about "the deficit" or even the Constitution. If they did, they wouldn't have waited until after Republicans lost the elections in 2008 to start marching and decrying the deficit explosion (and supposed concerns about Constitutional rights) brought about under the previous Administration. They would have been out marching along with the real Tea Partiers, those who supported Ron Paul as long ago as 2007, and his concerns about unbridled deficit spending and the trampling of Constitutional rights during the eight years of the Bush Administration.
Here are some of the key findings from the new poll. In them, we learn what every MSMer should have endeavored to figure out and take into account long ago, before granting so much free exposure to the radical extremist fringe represented by these people...
This November, after all that we've learned over so many years, twenty percent of the nation will still engage in blind-faith voting on DREs that are 100% unverifiable, with or without a so-called "Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail" (VVPAT). Elsewhere, the vast majority of Americans will feed paper ballots into easily hacked optical scan systems and then quietly accept the results that the machines spew out without demanding a hand count of the paper ballots.
The corporate media will dutifully publish the reported "results" without so much as mentioning that in most jurisdictions not a single ballot will have been counted by a human being.
With Brad Friedman and Desi Doyen off enjoying some much needed R & R, I thought some levity was in order, courtesy of this hilarious, if somewhat dated, Onion video.
UPDATE FROM BRAD 9/6/10: Now that I'm almost back on the grid, a quick addition here to note that we ran this same video back on February 25, 2008. That it still has resonance and meaning today --- after all that we've learned about the 100% unverifiable nature of such systems --- says a great deal, since we're still foolishly using these things all across the country, as Ernie pointed out. Also related from The Onion, as we ran in November of 2008, there's this: "Sequoia Touch-Screen Elected 44th President".
Californians have been drawn within the cross-hairs of a propaganda blitz bought and paid for by Meg Whitman, the billionaire former CEO of eBay, who, since declaring her intent to run for governor in February, 2009, has already contributed $59 million of her own money to her "campaign" --- a one-sided political phenomenon which has seen a stealth candidate, with disturbing connections to Goldman Sachs, soar to the top of the polls because the electoral process has been emasculated by the absence of mandatory debates and meaningful investigative journalism.
Apparently Whitman now feels that campaigning exclusively by way of paid-for propaganda (political ads) will not be enough to evade scrutiny of her economic "plan" to "rescue" California's economy (a rehash of Bush tax cuts for wealthy people and business, the elimination of climate change regulations and imposition of further draconian spending cuts to a state government already operating on life support --- a plan which a group of economists, including Stanford University's Kenneth Arrow, a Nobel laureate, have derided as policies which would "deepen California's budget crisis and are likely to reduce employment and economic growth").
Whitman has now pandered to what she may mistakenly believe was a majority of Californians who voted against marriage equality in passing Proposition 8...
Sorry, Mr. Gibbs, but your description of a "professional left" whose critiques of your boss, President Barack Obama, should be disregarded as the "crazy" musings of "people who ought to be drug tested" reflects that you are both authoritarian and out-of-touch.
The vast majority of citizens who supported the President in 2008 favor positions on policies that are far more progressive than anything which has emerged from either the corporate-controlled Democratic "leadership" in Congress or the Obama White House. The majority of Americans are by no means obligated to ignore the "democracy deficit" or the betrayal of the President's promise to bring "change we can believe in."
While one can readily agree that many of the Obama administration's policies are an improvement over those which are advanced by the reactionary fascist billionaires, and their mindless "Tea Party" followers, there are many instances in which the policies of the current administration threaten more harm than those of its predecessor. E.g,, those documented by a recent ACLU report (see Democracy Now video below) in which the current administration has created policies that may "enshrine permanently within the law policies and practices that were widely considered extreme and unlawful during the Bush administration."
Perhaps most disturbing is that the President's zeal to please his true constituency --- corporate America, Wall Street and the military-industrial complex --- comes from the same Presidential candidate whose soaring and lofty, yet deceptive campaign rhetoric gave rise to hope in so many that Election Day 2008 would mark a return to economic fairness, transparency, a restoration of the rule of law, an end to the fear-driven perpetual "war on terror," and a restoration of nature's ecological balance.
Even during the darkest days of the Bush/Cheney cabal, there was the hope that the foundering American ship of state could be righted by way of the electoral process. By raising the hopes of the American people during the course of the 2008 campaign, only to dash those hopes by betraying his own rhetoric, President Obama has, in some measure, caused more harm than the Bush/Cheney regime...
If you didn't already know that the latest Fox "News" fake "outrage" about the jackass from the New Black Panther Party who was caught on video standing outside a Philadelphia polling place with a nightstick in 2008 was another predictably trumped-up Rightwing scam story, Jamison Foser will help you understand why that is.
But as with the phony ACORN "Pimp" Hoax, the most unsettling part of this latest scam is not just that Fox is promoting a phony story, round-the-clock, to rile up and scare their gullible viewers. That's what they do. We all know that by now. Or should. What's disturbing is that so-called Ombudsmen at major, theoretically non-wingnut "liberal media" outlets have yet to figure any of that out.
This time around, it's Washington Post's Ombudsman Andrew Alexander who takes the bait --- hook, line, nightstick, and phony whistleblower --- in support of his paper's coverage of what they shamefully headlined as a "political bombshell." Hoax Accomplished. Again.
Media Matters' Simon Maloy predicted this story would play out in exactly this way back on July 2nd [emphasis ours]:
1. Right-wingers shout loudly about bogus story.
2. Fox News picks up bogus story, reports on it incessantly.
3. Right-wingers and Fox News start complaining that "liberal media" are ignoring bogus story. 4. Other outlets are shamed into covering bogus story, mini-frenzy ensues.
5. Pundits credit Fox News for "being ahead of the curve."
6. Responsible media outlets determine bogus story is bogus long after damage is done.
[Ed Note: L.A. County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk Dean Logan was my guest on Wednesday night to discuss this report and its associated issues, as I am guest hosting the Mike Malloy Show again this week. The audio archive of that interview is now posted here. - BF]
The Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk's office has issued a 5-page report on the complete failure I experienced while attempting to cast a ballot on the county's electronic voting system during this year's June 8th statewide primary.
The failures that I encountered last month --- as I detailed that night --- mirrored, almost exactly, those that occurred when I attempted to use the very same system, at the very same polling place, during the statewide primary in June of 2008 when the ES&S InkaVote Plus e-voting system that time had misprinted 4 out of 12 of my votes.
This time, it didn't misprint my ballot because I caught the problem --- on two separate machines --- before getting to the point where the system would have printed out my ballot. And this time, just as they concluded after a detailed investigation last time, L.A. County Registrar Dean Logan's office is chalking it up to, essentially, 'human error', in addition to limitations and inadequacies of the e-voting system itself...