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Latest Featured Reports | Tuesday, December 6, 2016
'Corporate Media Lied. We
are Escalating Fight in PA': 'BradCast' 12/5/16
Exclusive intvw w/ Stein campaign chief, Green 2004 nominee David Cobb. Also: MI ordered to begin count, ND pipeline blocked (for now)!...
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Hand, Machine 'Recounts' Begin in WI, Trump Blocks MI Count: 'BradCast' 12/1/16
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'Green News Report' 12/1/16
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Deadly drought-fueled fires in TN; Canada approves tar sands pipelines; 100M dead trees in CA drought; Toxic algae blooms in West again; PLUS: WA scientists turn CO2 to stone...
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'Green News Report' 11/29/16
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Election fraud investigator Richard Hayes Phillips on concerns about reported turnout in WI and much more...
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Guest host Angie Coiro on why the Presidential 'recount' battle in WI, MI, PA matters beyond 2016. She also speaks with guest Leland Faust and much more...
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Hand-marked, hand-counted ballots...
Brad's Upcoming Appearances
(All times listed as PACIFIC TIME unless noted)
Media Appearance Archives...
'Special Coverage' Archives
GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal 2012...
VA GOP VOTER REG FRAUDSTER OFF HOOK
Felony charges dropped against VA Republican caught trashing voter registrations before last year's election. Did GOP AG, Prosecutor conflicts of interest play role?...

Criminal GOP Voter Registration Fraud Probe Expanding in VA
State investigators widening criminal probe of man arrested destroying registration forms, said now looking at violations of law by Nathan Sproul's RNC-hired firm...

DOJ PROBE SOUGHT AFTER VA ARREST
Arrest of RNC/Sproul man caught destroying registration forms brings official calls for wider criminal probe from compromised VA AG Cuccinelli and U.S. AG Holder...

Arrest in VA: GOP Voter Reg Scandal Widens
'RNC official' charged on 13 counts, for allegely trashing voter registration forms in a dumpster, worked for Romney consultant, 'fired' GOP operative Nathan Sproul...

ALL TOGETHER: ROVE, SPROUL, KOCHS, RNC
His Super-PAC, his voter registration (fraud) firm & their 'Americans for Prosperity' are all based out of same top RNC legal office in Virginia...

LATimes: RNC's 'Fired' Sproul Working for Repubs in 'as Many as 30 States'
So much for the RNC's 'zero tolerance' policy, as discredited Republican registration fraud operative still hiring for dozens of GOP 'Get Out The Vote' campaigns...

'Fired' Sproul Group 'Cloned', Still Working for Republicans in At Least 10 States
The other companies of Romney's GOP operative Nathan Sproul, at center of Voter Registration Fraud Scandal, still at it; Congressional Dems seek answers...

FINALLY: FOX ON GOP REG FRAUD SCANDAL
The belated and begrudging coverage by Fox' Eric Shawn includes two different video reports featuring an interview with The BRAD BLOG's Brad Friedman...

COLORADO FOLLOWS FLORIDA WITH GOP CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION
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CRIMINAL ELECTION FRAUD COMPLAINT FILED AGAINST GOP 'FRAUD' FIRM
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The Secret Koch Brothers Tapes...


Since the EAC Refuses to Notify Them, We Hope You Will...
By Brad Friedman on 4/16/2007 4:32pm PT  

A commenter over at DU asked which states used the ES&S iVotronic touch-screen voting system found vulnerable to an undetectable countywide vote-flipping virus which can be implanted by a single person, as we reported this morning.

Based on our quick review of a county-by-county database of voting systems, sorted by state, as made available by Common Cause (EXCEL spreadsheet downloadable here) just prior to the November 2006 elections, it looks like the answer is 16 states in total.

Since the EAC refuses, as our report detailed, to do their job in notifying Elections Officials about this incredibly serious vulnerability, it looks like it's up to you to notify your state's Secretary of State and/or county Election Officials! Details on the vulnerability and mitigating steps that may be taken are detailed in this brief report at VotersUnite.org as written by a computer scientist and voting system expert well familiar with the newly discovered flaw. Please refer your voting officials to both our original article, and that scientific report for more details at the following URLs:

The states which use the ES&S iVotronic affected (with firmware versions either 8 or 9, with or without a so-called "Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail") are as follows:

  • Arkansas
  • Florida
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Missouri
  • New jersey
  • North Carolina
  • Ohio
  • Pennsylvania
  • South Carolina
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • West Virginia
  • Wisconsin

If we've missed any, or any of the states above do not use the system in at least one county, please let us know and we'll amend the list.

The BRAD BLOG and You - Doing the EAC's job for them. But without the $15 million budget (or the incomprehensible incompetence).




By Brad Friedman on 4/4/2007 4:48pm PT  

On a related note... In the corporate media's misleading and self-created "two-person race" for the Democratic Presidential nomination, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama have each raised approximately $25 million in the first quarter of this year.

Neither, however, has gone on record in favor a paper ballot --- one that is actually tabulated --- for every vote cast in America.




'Frivolous' Lawsuit Seeks to Void $9 Million Contract Awarded to Rival Voting Machine Vendor
A BRAD BLOG Exclusive Report from the Courtoom in Boston...
By Michael Richardson on 3/28/2007 1:48pm PT  

Guest Blogged By Michael Richardson

BOSTON - Diebold Election Systems, Inc., the controversial voting machine supplier, won't be supplying Massachusetts with its machines in 2008 and the company is not happy about it. So they are suing the state over the lost contract bid. But the solemn tone of Diebold's lawyer, William Weisberg, speaking in a hushed voice almost swallowed up by the stately, high-ceilinged courtroom of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court this week, drew laughter from the jovial judge with a Cheshire cat grin and raised chuckles from the courtroom audience.

In a real upside-down, topsy-turvy presentation, Diebold was arguing on behalf of the state's taxpayers and kept talking about the "public interest" --- all while pitching to get its lucrative contract approved. In February, after a year-and-a half selection process, Secretary of State William Galvin picked rival company ES&S to supply the state with AutoMARK, accessible electronic voting equipment, as mandated by the Help America Vote Act.

As reported by the Boston Globe...

Galvin chose AutoMARK voting machines, in part because he said the machines produce the same kind of ballot card as other voting machines, so the ballots could be counted together. He said the Diebold machines produced a paper trail that could compromise the secrecy of ballots cast.

He also said that disabled voters who tested all the machines preferred the AutoMARK machines.

The hearing in the recently filed lawsuit was over Diebold's three emergency motions for a temporary injunction to stop delivery of the ES&S equipment, an expedited discovery order, and a confidentiality order. The judge later ruled, after the hearing, against all three motions although he allowed the lawsuit to proceed on a regular schedule.

While laughing, the judge wondered aloud about admissions made by Weisberg in the news paper that seemed to wholly contradict his failed court room strategy...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---




Says 'Voting Machine Purists Should Not Let The Perfect be the Enemy of the Good'
We Disagree With Both the Premise and the Conclusion...
By Brad Friedman on 3/19/2007 5:57pm PT  

Using often inaccurate characterizations of my position, and the position of those like me who are in favor of amending Rep. Rush Holt's Election Reform Bill (HR811) to include a ban on Direct Recording Electronic (DRE, often called "touch-screen") voting systems, my friend Steve Rosenfeld filed an article today at AlterNet titled "Are Voting Machine Purists Standing in the Way of Reform?" which is critical of my position.

The piece is in direct response to an article of mine published at AlterNet several weeks ago on the false arguments being put forward by supporters of Rush Holt's Election Reform Bill (HR811) --- folks like PFAW, Common Cause, MoveOn, etc. --- in trying to see the bill passes as is and in opposition to an amendment that would ban dangerous, unverifiable, disenfranchising DRE voting systems.

In the editorial, Rosenfeld, describes folks like me, misleadingly, as "voting machine purists" and inaccurately suggest we have an "all or nothing approach" to Election Reform. Further, he goes on to mischaracterize a number of provisions of the Holt bill, as well as many of the arguments that have been made in favor of banning DREs.

I just spoke with Steve...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---




Robert Bennett, Ohio's GOP Chair and President of the Board of Elections in Ohio's Most Democratic County, Vows to Stay On
Growing Battle Underscores a Host of Other Myths, Disinfo Campaigns Concerning Buckeye State Election Administration...
By Brad Friedman on 3/19/2007 12:21pm PT  

Just out from AP...

CLEVELAND (AP) - All four election board members for Cuyahoga County, troubled by recount rigging charges and voting machine problems, have been told to resign or face being fired, a state official said Monday.

Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner said she called the four board members of Ohio's most populous county late Sunday, asking them to leave by close of business Wednesday.
...
Brunner, a Democrat, said new leadership is needed in the county before the 2008 presidential election. She said that if the board members don't resign by her deadline, they would face public hearings and removal.

The board's chairman, Robert Bennett, is also chairman of the state GOP in Ohio. His term on the board ends in 2010. The other board members are two Democrats and one Republican.
...
Bennett said Monday he plans to finish his term.

"We are making progress on our major goal, which is to restore voter confidence in Cuyahoga County elections," he said at a news conference

The issue comes in the wake of two Cuyahoga County Election Officials recently found guilty of rigging the 2004 Presidential Election recount and subsequently sentenced to the maximum 18 months in prison after they refused to cooperate with the state's special prosecutor, Kevin Baxter.

Both Baxter and the district court judge, Peter J. Corrigan, indicated they believed the conspiracy to game the recount was part of a larger, higher-reaching conspiracy. "It seems unlikely that your superiors wouldn't know what you were doing," Corrigan declared during the sentencing.

Brunner told the Plain-Dealer this morning that the convictions were "so serious that I don't think I had any alternative" but to request the resignations of the entire board. "It has to do with public confidence and perception," she said.

In a news conference this morning, Bennett vowed to fight Brunner in court rather than leave on his own accord.

Cuyahoga County's then-Election Director, Michael Vu, who was not charged in the incident but has since resigned, had previously admitted that sealed ballot boxes were opened and secretly counted prior to the state-mandated recount in order to assure the recount would not reveal any inconsistencies with the officially reported results. He has since recanted his original story.

After the recent sentencing, Bennett, who was ultimately responsible for overseeing the convicted elections officials --- supposedly one Republican and one Democrat --- who rigged a presidential election recount in his county said, incredibly enough, "the convictions are a travesty of justice."

The issue also underscores an important point we've been trying to make for years: Despite the claims by disgraced former Buckeye State SoS J. Kenneth Blackwell and his operatives (including Bennett) for the travesty that occurred in 2004, which suggest that Ohio's supposedly "bi-partisan" structure of county elections boards --- theoretically all comprised of two Republicans and two Democrats each --- prevents any partisan malfeasance, those boards and the officials who work under them have always served ultimately at the pleasure of the state SoS. That power and pressure were wielded frequently by Blackwell during his tenure, resulting in a host of not-so-bipartisan decisions and oversight from Ohio elections officials in 2004 and beyond.

UPDATE: We heartily recommend "OhioRebel's" superb citizen journalist coverage at ePluribus Media, with many useful additional details. Would that the non-citizen journalists were as thorough!




By Brad Friedman on 3/7/2007 1:19pm PT  

heheh...


(Hat-tip Josh Marshall, who claims he's "been assured that the creators are not connected to the Obama campaign.")




Presidential Candidate Becomes First to Join Growing Movement When Queried About Issue at Campaign Event in California
Edwards Becomes Second Politician in a Week to Announce Support for the Election Integrity Movement After Being Asked About it at Public Event
By Brad Friedman on 3/3/2007 11:05pm PT  

While it's unlikely to get as much attention as Ann Coulter calling him a "faggot" during her speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) last night, The BRAD BLOG has learned that John Edwards is the first Presidential Candidate to announce his support for a growing movement calling for a ban on the use of all Direct Recording Electronic (DRE, usually touch-screen) voting systems in American elections.

The BRAD BLOG was contacted late last night by Progressive Democrats of America (PDA) Board Chair Mimi Kennedy with the news that during a campaign event in Los Angeles Edwards agreed to join her organization in calling for an end to electronic ballots in American elections.

PDA has been one of many groups calling for the ban and other important amendments to Rep. Rush Holt's (D-NJ) new Election Reform bill (HR 811), recently introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Kennedy, an activist and actress well known for her role as Dharma's mother on ABC's Dharma and Greg, told The BRAD BLOG that during a Q & A period following his address last night, she asked Edwards whether he would join PDA in their campaign calling for "the complete removal of all Touch-Screen Direct Record Electronic voting machines from U.S. elections, with or without a paper trail."

Drawing an "X" in the air as the question was being asked, Edwards --- who was reportedly upset at Sen. John Kerry's decision not to contest the 2004 Presidential Election count, or lack thereof, in Ohio --- answered with a definitive "Yes!"

"Yes!" echoed Kennedy in response as the audience reportedly cheered and applauded.

Edwards's public support for a ban on DRE voting systems follows just over a week after Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA) was asked a related question by an Election Integrity advocate at a public event at the University of California/Santa Cruz. Waters announced, in response to the query, that she would be withdrawing her co-sponsorship of the Holt bill in the wake of the growing concerns about several troubling shortcomings in the proposed legislation.

Kennedy attended the event, sponsored by the Pacific Palisades Democratic Club, with friend and former TAXI co-star Rhea Perlman, who unsuccessfully tried to video tape the Q & A session on her cell phone. The BRAD BLOG is attempting to locate a complete video of the event and we'll update this item if and when we do.

Before an audience estimated at 400, Kennedy rose and said to the former Vice-Presidential candidate...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---




And Other 'Conservative Presidential Anxiety Conference' Highlights...
By Alan Breslauer on 3/2/2007 2:48pm PT  

Guest Blogged by Alan Breslauer

From Presidential wannabe Mike Huckabee referencing Ashton Kutcher's classic movie to a lot of hating on John McCain, this year's anxiety-filled Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) looks to be worth the price of admission and then some. Also included in this CNN clip is a look at conservative blogger reaction to the conference.




By Alan Breslauer on 2/28/2007 11:37am PT  

Guest Blogged by Alan Breslauer

Wolf Blitzer asks Florida's new Republican Governor Charlie Crist if there could be a replay in 2008 of the "2000 election fiasco?" Crist believes that his budget recommendation, which calls for $32 million to be spent implementing a "paper trail" system (in actuality, he's called for the replacement of touch-screen systems with paper ballot-based optical-scan systems) will cure Florida's election problems. He also offers up this gem:

The most important thing we can do in democracy is to insure the democratic process and the integrity thereof. We feel very strongly about that in Florida.

However, when Wolf questions Crist about the 18,000 missing votes in "Orlando" from the 2006 election (he meant Sarasota in the still-contested FL-13 U.S. House race), Crist answers that his concern is "going forward." Thus, it seems Florida has felt very strongly about democracy for about three months now (who was running the place before Crist?). Not to be outdone, Wolf "presses" by holding his feet to the fire... asking a softball question...unrelated to Orlando Sarasota, about whether Florida will be "ready" by 2008.

Meanwhile, one would think that Americans would be a little more concerned about getting Florida elections right after experiencing the last six years of Bush. Yet, despite statistical evidence that all but guaranteed her victory in FL-13, Christine Jennings remains on the outside looking in. At least with Al Gore the mountains of evidence that he won Florida did not surface until after the Supreme Court gifted the election to Bush. With Jennings we do not have the luxury of such an excuse and it is inexcusable.

ADDENDUM BY BRAD: Wolf Blitzer is a complete and utter, unmitigated moron of indescribable proportions. Rivaled only in his utter and embarrassing cluelessness by Chris Wallace...And meanwhile, I have to beg for milk money. Amazing.




By Alan Breslauer on 2/23/2007 12:33pm PT  

Guest Blogged by Alan Breslauer

Democrat Tom Vilsack, the centrist former Iowa governor, dropped out of the race for the presidency because he was unable to raise the millions of dollars necessary to compete with the better known candidates. Vilsack made it clear that "money and only money" was the reason for ending his bid.

Immediately after the announcement, the campaigns of other presidential hopefuls began seeking out Vilsack's staff and wooing his political backers. Senator Barack Obama, for example, sought the support of prominent Vilsack supporter Gary Hirshberg, the founder of Stonyfield Yogurt, within two minutes of the announcement today. Although noncommital, an impressed Hirshberg had this to say:

"Though we can wring our hands now about the role of money in these campaigns, it's still really vindicating to me to see, particularly here in New Hampshire, that grass-roots, house-to-house, person-to-person politics is still the order of the day. I think Senator Obama just proved that."

Read the AP story about Vilsack at The Huffington Post




By Brad Friedman on 2/22/2007 1:06pm PT  

San Francisco is considering "upgrading" their voting systems to use Sequoia machines. They are demanding that the company publicly disclose their software source code for all to see. It's called transparency. That's a good thing.

But Sequoia is refusing. Yesterday, there was another discussion/debate on the topic at an SF Board of Supes hearing. The San Francisco Examiner reported this laugh line from the Sequoia spokeshole:

Steven Bennet, a Sequoia representative, said Sequoia won't agree to public disclosure [of source code on voting machines] since it would "jeopardize the security to all of our customers in California and across the country."

For those just joining the fun, who may be unfamiliar with guffaw-worthiness of Bennet's claim about concern for the security of his company's shitty voting systems, we'll refer you to this small sampling of previous relevant BRAD BLOG articles:

...Along with a heads up that we'll have more --- much more --- on Sequoia's "concerns" about the security of their voting systems (or lack thereof) in a detailed investigative report in the very near future...




...Defends the Disastrous Help America Vote Act of 2002...Which He Co-Authored...
By Brad Friedman on 2/15/2007 11:25am PT  

Blogged by Brad from the road...

New Hampshire Election Integrity advocates bird-dogged the prospective Presidential Candidate and co-author of the disastrous Help America Vote Act (HAVA) of 2002, Sen. Christopher Dodd (D-CT), a couple of weeks ago concerning the failures of that bill. The short video follows.

We hope other folks will do same with Presidential Candidates from any and all parties and share their video tapes of responses. One of the things we learned in Arizona from Ted Downing, the chair of the Election Integrity Committee of the state's Democratic Party (the only state party in the union to have such a committee!), is that he plans to ask each and every Presidential Candidate to appoint an Election Integrity "Cabinet Member" to their campaign staff. We'll try to report back if and when any of those candidates take him up on that.

(Links to my radio interview with Downing and others in Arizona while Guest Hosting Mike Malloy and Peter B. Collin's shows are right here.)

We'll just add one comment in reply to the below video for the moment: Mr. Dodd, the system has not been "improved since 2000." It is far far worse.

(Hat-tip Nancy Tobi and the folks at Democracy for New Hampshire)




Flawed Bill Continues to Fast-Track While Supporters Ignore the Concerns of Those Who Know the Issue Best
HR811 On Schedule to Become 'HAVA 2' Unless Radically Amended, Improved...
By Brad Friedman on 2/14/2007 12:00pm PT  

Blogged from the road by Brad Friedman...

Yes, I'm still on the road. And thus I'm still unable to fully and completely cover events surrounding the dangerous provisions of the Holt Election Reform legislation (HR 811).

For the short term then, I'll quickly point to a few notable critiques of the bill, as currently written, from the Election Integrity community.

Why Democratic-based public advocacy groups such as MoveOn, Common Cause and PFAW are supporting this bill in direct conflict with the bulk of the Election Integrity community continues to be beyond me. Perhaps worse, they are doing so via campaigns that succeed in misleading their members about the facts of the bill.

As I've said many times, though the Holt legislation contains many good and needed provisions, it has several serious flaws --- including, perhaps most notably, a failure to ban all disenfranchising DRE/touch-screen systems --- which will likely lead to this bill being seen as "HAVA 2" by 2008 if it's passed as is.

Unlike the Help America Vote Act of 2002 (HAVA 1), the Dems will not have Republicans and the disgraced former Rep. Bob Ney to blame when the shortcomings in the bill are revealed before, during, and after the next Presidential Election.

Quickly then --- before I must shuffle to the next hotel --- allow me to point you to the "Essential Revisions to HR 811" as drafted by many in the Elections Integrity community and hosted by VotersUnite.org and signed by several other notable Election Integrity groups such as VoterAction.org, BlackBoxVoting.org, and many others.

As well, a blind technology expert, Noel Runyan, has today released a scientific paper, "Improving Voter Access," documenting the failures of existing DRE/touch-screen technology (to-be-institutionalized by the Holt Bill if passed) to meet the needs of the disabilities community. The paper is released under the notable auspices of both Demos and VoterAction.org. Press release here.

Bev Harris of BlackBoxVoting.org has issued her own statement/concerns as well right here: "Beware of the Bandwagon --- A concise list of problems with Holt Bill HR 811"

Just after the Holt Bill dropped, we also ran a notable Guest Blog from Demos's Democracy Fellow and the founder of the National Voting Rights Institute, John Bonifaz, who is critical of the bill's lack of a ban on DREs: "Why the Holt Election Reform Bill Must be Amended to Guarantee a Real Paper Ballot."

Those are just a few of many such statements from various elements of the Election Integrity community concerning the Holt Bill as it's currently written.

It's simply mindblowing that so many Congress members, including Sen. Bill Nelson of Florida --- who issued his own near-clone of HR811 yesterday in the Senate --- along with so many Democratic-based public advocacy groups continue to ignore the concerns of the EI community, who know this issue best.

The fact that even Florida's new Republican (and surprisingly progressive) Governor and new Secretary of State are ahead of the Democrats on this one, and are calling for DREs to be replaced by optical-scan systems (for the most part, if not during early voting or for disabled voters) should be a clear sign that something is terribly wrong here.

While everyone seems to finally understand the need for Election Reform (well, that took long enough!), the notion that any bill is better than a bill which will actually be effective is extraordinarily short-sighted. Passing a bill likely to institutionalize dysfunction and continue our Electoral Meltdowns for years to come should be the last thing that Democrats and their supporters wish to do.

Why they seem to be tripping over themselves to do it continues to be far beyond me.

If you haven't already done so, please sign the Paper Ballot Campaign's Open Letter to Congress demanding a paper ballot --- which is actually tabulated --- and a ban of DREs once and for all.

(DISCLOSURE: I was allowed by Holt's office to participate during the drafting process of HR811 and was able to succeed in adding some improvements to some of the language, as well as encourage the addition of several important new provisions in the bill. Nonetheless, the bill, as written, still contains many dangerous loopholes as alluded to above. Next week, once home, I hope to offer a more complete and specific analysis of both the good and bad points in the legislation, which seems to be continuing to fast-track though Congress. Unfortunately.)




Republican Kurt Browning, Former 'Ardent' DRE/Touch-Screen Supporter, Sees the Light...Whether He Likes it Or Not...
Now Will the Dems Do the Same???
By Brad Friedman on 2/7/2007 1:13pm PT  


Kurt Browning, the new Florida Sec. of State, says in the one-minute video clip at right that he's "physically and mentally exhausted from having to defend touch-screen voting systems."

That is, of course, a tremendous victory. Particularly in Florida. Particularly from a previously "ardent supporter of touch-screen voting systems" as he admits in the video.

"If voters don't have confidence in their voting systems, what do they have confidence in?" Browning smartly asks. To which we say, "Kudos!"

His statements dovetail smartly with new FL Republican Governor Charlie Crist's recently announced initiative to replace all DRE/touch-screen sysaskems in Florida with optical-scan, paper-based systems (though not for early voting or disabled voters, but we'll take what we can for now).

Nonetheless, Browning's "exhaustion" is a victory for you and democracy! Congratulations all! Keep up the good work! There are many out there who still need to be exhausted!

Now if we could just get the Democrats and some of their knee-jerk supporters out there to see the same light, perhaps we'd be closer to do the day when we can finally declare: "Touch-Screen Voting - Game Over!"

(Hat-tip Jeannie Dean, both for the video and her tireless work down there in Sarasota!)




Guest Blogger and Constitutional Attorney John Bonifaz on Concerns About Holt's 'Voter Confidence and Increased Accessibility Act of 2007' (HR 811)
By John Bonifaz on 2/6/2007 3:51pm PT  

Guest Blogged by John Bonifaz

Ed Note: John Bonifaz is a constitutional attorney, the founder of the National Voting Rights Institute and a Senior Legal Fellow of Demos' Democracy Program. He further serves as co-counsel for VoterAction.org on behalf of the voter plaintiffs in the Sarasota FL-13 case.

Earlier today, The BRAD BLOG posted a short article about the new Holt Election Reform bill in the U.S. House urging readers to read it before either endorsing or rejecting the legislation. We hope to have a thorough analysis of the bill in the coming days and weeks. For now, Mr. Bonifaz, given his background, credentials and current work on the FL-13 case, provides a useful and important perspective on the new legislation.

Today, Congressman Rush Holt introduced H.R. 811 [PDF], a bill trumpeted as requiring “a voter-verified permanent paper ballot.” But before we all jump on this train as the new guarantee that our votes will be properly counted in future elections, we ought to beware of the warning flag. A paper trail from DRE (Direct Recording Electronic, usually touch-screen) machines cannot protect the integrity of our elections.

Here’s the bottom line: The DRE technology is fundamentally flawed for recording and counting our votes. The Holt bill, unless amended, will further codify into law the use of this technology, piling onto the disaster of HAVA (the Help America Vote Act of 2002) a new disaster.

Florida Governor Charlie Crist recently announced proposed state funding to replace DREs in the state with optical scan machines for election days and Florida is moving forward on certifying the AutoMARK machine, a ballot marking device NOT a direct recording device. New Mexico has already moved away from DREs and has a blended system of optical scan machines and AutoMARK. New York may soon go that way, as may California and Ohio.

Why, in the face of this movement in the states, should we embrace a bill in Congress that allows for the continued use of DREs? Yes, optical scan can also be vulnerable to being hacked, but at least with optical scan, there are still paper ballots (marked by hand or by a ballot marking device) that can be audited or recounted to ensure that our votes are properly counted. DREs provide no such guarantee.

Yes, the Holt bill tries to say it is requiring a paper ballot even for DREs, but, in the end, a DRE "paper ballot" is nothing more than a paper trail, which requires voters to verify their votes after they have cast them in the DRE machines. Studies show that most voters will not spend the time to verify their votes after casting them into DRE machines. Thus, the "voter-verified paper ballot" is a fiction when it comes to DREs.

If none of this is convincing, we need to look no further than Sarasota, the current epicenter of this debate. A "voter-verified" paper ballot or paper trail in Sarasota would not have erased the problem with the 18,000 missing votes in the FL-13 congressional election. With most voters not verifying their votes, most of those missing votes would still be missing --- and with no way to recover them and derive voter intent.

As Brad Friedman rightly says, placing a paper trail on DREs is like placing a seatbelt in the Ford Pinto. The Pinto will still explode --- so what is the point of installing a seatbelt?

We can and we should press for the principled position here: an amendment to the Holt bill that would ban the continued use of DREs and require a real paper ballot. Otherwise, we're going to wake up in 2008 realizing the new disaster we helped to create.




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