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Latest Featured Reports | Thursday, November 27, 2014
'KPFK' BradCast: Maine Mystery, Ferguson Fury and Thanks for Something
'My thanks to all of you this Thanksgiving which, as a few callers reminded me, isn't nearly as terrible as it seemed before this week's show'...
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Oxford English Dictionary's 2014 Word of the Year: 'Vape'
That small point likely underscores some very encouraging news for the health of the world...
'Green News Report' 11/18/14
  w/ Brad & Desi
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Sanders on Colbert: Midterms a Vote Against Both Parties
For those mad at us for asserting 'not voting IS a vote', look who just said the same thing...
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Email obtained by BRAD BLOG reveals County's top election official ignored warnings from election experts, leading to shortages...
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Brad on Hartmann TV: Election 2014 Mess
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IN MEMORIAM: Tomas Young, 1979-2014
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About Last Night: KPFK 'BradCast'
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VIDEO: 'Rise of the Tea Bags'
Brad interviews American patriots...
'Democracy's Gold Standard'
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?...

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Arrest in VA: GOP Voter Reg Scandal Widens
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ALL TOGETHER: ROVE, SPROUL, KOCHS, RNC
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'Fired' Sproul Group 'Cloned', Still Working for Republicans in At Least 10 States
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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 PROBE LAUNCHED INTO GOP VOTER REGISTRATION FRAUD SCANDAL IN FL
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CAUGHT ON TAPE: COORDINATED NATIONWIDE GOP VOTER REG SCAM
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VIDEO: Brad Breaks GOP Reg Fraud Scandal on Hartmann TV
Breaking coverage as the RNC fires their Romney-tied voter registration firm, Strategic Allied Consulting...

RNC FIRES NATIONAL VOTER REGISTRATION FIRM FOR FRAUD
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EXCLUSIVE: Intvw w/ FL Official Who First Discovered GOP Reg Fraud
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The Secret Koch Brothers Tapes...


...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)

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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.)

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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!)

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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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As Ever, With Election Reform Legislation the Devil is in the Details...So Learn the Details BEFORE Supporting or Rejecting This Bill!
By Brad Friedman on 2/6/2007 2:15pm PT  

Blogged by Brad from the road...

Congressman Rush Holt's (D-NJ) new, re-written Election Reform legislation --- now known as HR811, previously known as HR550 in the last Congress --- has been introduced today. It's now available here [PDF].

Holt's bill is the first of several competing Election Reform bills which will be introduced in the House and Senate by various members. Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-CA) is to hold hearings tomorrow (Wednesday) on "The Hazards of Electronic Voting: Focus on the Machinery of Democracy" in the Senate Rules and Administration Committee, which she now chairs.

We continue to be on the road, and are thus not able to sit and focus as long as we'd usually like on any one thing. But we will have much to say on Holt's legislation and other bills in the coming days and weeks.

While groups such as VoteTrustUSA, People for the American Way (PFAW) and CommonCause are urging their members to endorse this legislation, for now we'd encourage you to actually read it before making any such decisions.

CommonCause, for example, urged members to endorse this legislation with a campaign begun weeks ago, before the final version was even introduced (the bill has been changed substantially in the ensuing weeks and recent drafts). As of this morning, PFAW had offered several misleading and down-right incorrect bullet points in support of the legislation on their petition page, calling on members to support the bill. We contacted them about that, and at least they've now removed the misleading bullet points, even if they still urge members to support the legislation. More on all of that in the near future as well.

Holt's bill, as proposed, does indeed offer many good and much-needed provisions. However, it also includes several troubling and dangerous loopholes, in our opinion.

By way of full disclosure, we consulted with Holt's office on this bill, having been allowed access to several drafts over the last month or two, about which we were able to offer input. Much of that input was included in subsequent drafts and remains now in the far-better final version. However, other input was not included, and thus we still have concerns about some of the existing loopholes in the bill.

For the moment though, we'd ask you to simply read it and share your thoughts. More on all of this soon...

(We would also ask you again to sign the Open Letter to Congress from more than 40 non-partisan Election Integrity organizations demanding a paper BALLOT --- one that must actually be counted --- for every vote cast, along with a complete ban on disenfranchising DRE/Touch-screen voting machines, which must never again be used in an American election!)

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According to Democratic U.S. Congressman Wexler, New Republican Gov. Crist to Send Touch-Screen/DRE's 'The Way of the Butterfly Ballot'
By Brad Friedman on 1/30/2007 9:24pm PT  

Blogged by Brad --- with elan --- from the road...

This is huge. Though it was buried in today's Daily Voting News, as it broke late, it is most decidedly siren-worthy! Big time!

Florida's new Republican Governor Charlie Crist, working with Democratic U.S. House Member Robert Wexler, will reportedly be recommending millions of dollars to replace every one of Florida's horrendous touch-screen voting machines with optical-scan systems featuring: A PAPER BALLOT FOR EVERY VOTE CAST!

Gov. Charlie Crist is preparing to recommend that the controversial touch-screen voting machines used in Broward, Palm Beach, and 13 other Florida counties be scrapped and replaced with optical scanners that would count paper ballots.

U.S. Rep. Robert Wexler, D-Boca Raton, said the governor would recommend spending at least $20 million on optical scanners for the 15 counties with touch-screen machines when he presents his proposed budget to the state Legislature on Friday.

Palm Beach Post confirms. So does AP.

Don't be confused by the references to "paper trails" in the linked articles. Optical scan systems use a paper BALLOT, not a "paper trail".

Free at last? Free at last? Thank God Almighty the Sunshine State may be free at last!?

We shall see. But this could be the best news to come down the pike for democracy fans since Woman's Suffrage. We'll be watching. And then, of course, we've got to make certain there are appropriate audits and other measures to ensure the op-scan systems aren't hacked as they were in Leon County, Florida, last December.

But a path is built one stone at a time. And this could be a very big stone. So for tonight, we'll go to sleep, for a change, with a smile on our face...God Bless America.

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Princeton's Computer Science Professor, Ed Felten, Begins to Look at the Failed Jennings/Buchanan U.S. House Race in Florida, But Seems to Buy Into a Flawed Theory and Solution
'Paper Trails' on Sarasota's Voting Machines Would Have Made the Situation Worse, Not Better...
By Brad Friedman on 1/30/2007 1:33pm PT  

Blogged by Brad Friedman from on the road...

To be clear, despite the headline, we don't mean to call Princeton's computer science professor Ed Felten "stupid" by any means. We do, however, mean to make clear --- in no uncertain terms --- that the oft-floated idea that adding so-called "paper trails" to failed, paperless ES&S touch-screen voting machines, such as those used in last November's U.S. House race in Sarasota between Christine Jennings (D) and Vern Buchanan (R), would not have avoided the situation we're now in. In fact, such "Voter Verified Paper Audit Trails" (VVPAT) added to Direct Recording Electronic (DRE/touch-screen) systems would likely make our current crisis of democracy worse instead of better.

As we've said before, DREs with or without a VVPAT are a threat to democracy. VVPATs are little more than a band-aid at best, and more likely serve only as a panacea to offer a false sense of security.

Adding a "paper trail" to a DRE/touch-screen system is like requiring a seat belt in a Ford Pinto; what good will the seat belts do when the Pinto explodes?

Today then, Princeton's Felten (he of the infamous Diebold Touch-Screen Virus Hack) has posted an article on his blog looking at what may have happened in the contested U.S. House race in Florida's 13th Congressional District between Jennings and Buchanan, in which some 18,000 votes seem to have disappeared completely on the paperless ES&S touch-screen voting machines. Just 369 votes separate the two candidates in the flawed state-certified final results.

In his essay, the first of a promised series to come this week, Felten correctly points out that the situation can only be attributed to problems with the ES&S voting machines themselves, since the undervote rate for the very same race in the very same county was a reasonable 2.5% on the paper absentee ballots, but jumped nearly 15% as recorded on the ES&S touch-screen machines.

Even ES&S's only expert witness so far to take the stand --- Dartmouth College's political (not computer) scientist, Michael Herron --- in the election contest down in Florida admitted that were it not for problems voters encountered in using those voting machines, Jennings likely would have been named the winner. That point was reported by Sarasota Herald Tribune who reported on the testimony this way: "Had those ballots been cast without problems, Jennings would have won by as many as 3,000 votes, according to the ES&S expert's statistical 'best guess.'" Reporting from both Wired News and our own discussions just after the testimony with Lowell Finley, the attorney for VoterAction.org, one of several non-partisan groups who argued the case on behalf of the Florida voter plaintiffs who joined Christine Jennings in filing an election contest, confirmed that point as well.

So the question --- for those legitimately trying to figure out what went wrong, as opposed to Buchanan and his supporters who simply want to claim the House seat as their own, even if it's an aberration of democracy --- is whether the problem was due to bad ballot design, machine malfunction, or, most likely, some combination of both. With just 369 votes between the two candidates in the state-certified final result (which is being challenged in both Florida courts and the U.S. House), virtually every analysis has determined that even a minor machine malfunction would likely have thrown the race to the Republican in the Democrat's strongest areas in Sarasota. That's where the largest undervote rates occured.

Felten's thesis, however, as he begins to discuss today in his first article on the topic, would seem to suggest --- incorrectly, in our view --- that a "paper trail" on those paperless touch-screens would have avoided this problem. We'll answer by suggesting it would only have made it worse.

In the meantime, an as-yet under-reported affidavit obtained by The BRAD BLOG from a poll worker, which accompanied a complaint filed by a Republican (yep, you read that right) in Sarasota who believes machine malfunction was clearly the culprit, seems to demonstrate clearly that a problem with the ES&S iVotronic system, not a problem finding the race on the ballot, was to blame for the massive undervote rate.

Couple that with two excellent reports from Daniel Hopsicker as filed last week (one here, the second here) analyzing, in crystal-clear detail, a number of contemporaneous news reports from Sarasota before, during, and after the election, it becomes very clear that machine failure was the problem in the FL-13 election and not "bad ballot design" --- the favored theory of folks hoping to keep the "provisionally seated" Buchanan in power.

Hopsicker's excellent review of those news reports, both as the problem was first emerging and just after the election, when voters' and poll workers' recollections were still fresh, reveals that voter and poll worker complaints at that time overwhelmingly focused on problems voters had casting their votes in particular races and not on problems finding particular races on the ballots!

We'll take a look at the complaint filed by the Republican mentioned above, along with the poll-worker affidavit, in a future report this week. But for now, we'll look at Felten's "Paper Trails Would Have Avoided the Problem" theory.

As Felten averred today...

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

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Take-No-Prisoners Email by New Presidential Campaign Chief Highly Critical of Bush, Congressional Democrats
Ad to be Placed in 'Roll Call', Supporters Asked to Sign Petition Demanding Congress Cut Off Funding for New War Plan
By Brad Friedman on 1/17/2007 5:11pm PT  

In a harshly worded fund raising letter sent to members of John Edwards's 2008 presidential campaign e-mail list late this afternoon, his new Campaign Manager, former Congressman David Bonior (D-MI), holds little back in his sharp criticism of both George W. Bush and Democratic members of Congress for their Iraq War policies and politics. (Email posted in full at end of this article.)

The email --- with the eye-popping, if impolitic, subject line "Total Bull" --- first takes aim at Bush's recent pronouncements, as reported by U.S. News and World Report and elsewhere after Bush's appearance on CBS' 60 Minutes last Sunday, "that Congress does not have the power to stop his proposed escalation of the war in Iraq."

"That's bull," Bonior writes before going on in the email to criticize his former Democratic colleagues in Congress, taking them to task for their failure to "step up to the plate and use their power to stop the president from escalating the war."

"I can assure you that Congress does have the power to stop this escalation," says the 26-year former Congressman.

"Some [in Congress] are calling for symbolic statements that do nothing to stop the escalation," he writes. "If you hear a member of Congress say 'non-binding resolution,' then you're really hearing them say 'pass the buck.'"

"And some members of Congress are waiting for --- well, we don't know what they're waiting for."

Citing Edwards's position "calling on Congress to stand up and take responsibility by using its power to prevent this war from getting any worse," Bonior goes on to announce the campaign's plan to run a full page ad in Roll Call, with a petition against the escalation and the "tens of thousands" of signatures from supporters who've signed it. The e-mail asks supporters to contribute money as well towards purchase of the ad.

Edwards's short petition, which can be signed here, calls on Congress to block funding for Bush's escalation plan. It reads in full:

I am opposed to President Bush's plan to send additional troops to Iraq. Congress must act now to block funding of Bush's escalation of the war — and demand that the President provide a plan to leave Iraq.

LATE RELATED-ISH UPDATE: First Zogby poll out of Iowa shows Edwards leading the Dem pack with 27%. Far ahead of "second tier dog-fight" between Obama, Hillary, and home state Gov. Vilsack. No big surprises on the Republican side with McCain and Giuliani duking it out, though Newt coming in an eyebrow-raisingly close third place. (Thanks reader TC for the tip.)

The e-mail sent to supporters via the JohnEdwards.com mailing list follows in full below...

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

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UPDATE: Gore Spokes Says It Ain't So, Reuters Was Wrong
ADDITIONAL VIDEO UPDATE: Hearting Huckabee...
By Brad Friedman on 1/15/2007 7:31pm PT  

Boy, I really hope this is wrong. Or that something changes it. Otherwise, I see nobody amongst the current crop of Dems that I could perceive of supporting. Again.

Exceptions would be a big "perhaps, we'll see much much later" in either John Edwards or Wes Clark. But man would it be a shame for both America and the World --- whether you'd support him or not --- if Gore chose not to run again. Again.

UPDATE: Melinda Henneberger says it ain't so:

As it turns out, though, Gore did no such thing, and contrary to the Reuters report out of Tokyo, has not definitively ruled out another presidential run. (Neither has he given those close to him any indication he's seriously considering it, though many in his party continue to hope he'll reconsider.)

"Absolutely nothing new,'' Gore spokesman Michael Feldman said of the report. "He's been saying the same thing for six years - that he's not running but has not completely ruled it out - and depending on where he is, it's reported differently.''

(Hat-tip to BRAD BLOG reader KestrelBrightEyes)

RELATED-ISH UPDATE: Btw, on the Republican side, I might suggest one of the dark horses that Democrats should be most concerned about is Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee. His recent appearance on The Daily Show may give you an idea why. That is, if he can make it through the hard right phony "conservative" hurdles of the primary process.

Daily Show's Huckabee Interview on Vid here: Part 1, Part 2.

Beyond this interview, I don't know much about him, so I welcome reader feedback --- particularly from Arkansans and others with an inside angle on him.

UPDATE RELATED TO THE PREVIOUS RELATED-ISH UPDATE: E.J. Dionne has a similar thought at nearly the same moment. Calls Huckabee "the brightest star among Republican presidential dark horses" and "the Republican to watch."

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State Lawmakers Moving Towards Paper 'Trail' Voting Instead of Paper BALLOTS...
By Brad Friedman on 1/13/2007 7:21pm PT  

Maryland was one of the first states in the country (along with Georgia) to adopt Diebold's paperless touch-screen voting. Now that they've learned from that mistake, it looks like their legislature is preparing to make the same mistake again by moving to paper trail voting, instead of paper ballots, according to the Washington Post.

If you're still confused about the difference --- and even if you're not --- please see this short and to-the-point Open Letter to Congress Members, and the accompanying e-mail petition, signed and released by more than 35 non-partisan Election Integrity organizations just before the holidays.

It calls for a paper ballot --- not "trail" or "record" --- for every vote cast in America. That is, of course, the only acceptable first-step solution on the long road towards restoring America's electoral system and the voters' confidence therein.

After you've read it and signed it, please pass it on. Maybe Maryland will take notice before they screw things up again. We certainly hope so.

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Debra Bowen Appoints Lowell Finley of Election Integrity Watchdog Group VoterAction.org to Role of 'Deputy SoS for Voting Systems Technology and Policy'
[UPDATED] Critics of E-Voting Hail News as 'Collosal Suprise,' Very Good for Voters, Very Bad for the Nation's Electronic Voting Machine Companies...
By Brad Friedman on 1/8/2007 2:31pm PT  

It may not be a very good day in the corporate offices at Diebold, but The BRAD BLOG has learned some big news that may well indicate today is a very good day indeed for the voters of America and specifically in California.

As incoming Sec. of State Debra Bowen was sworn in to her new office just moments ago, The BRAD BLOG can now reveal that one of the nation's top critics of unverifiable electronic voting systems --- and a key player across several states in the legal battles against voting machine companies such as Diebold, ES&S, Sequoia Voting Systems, and Hart Intercivic --- is today being named by the new California Sec. of State Debra Bowen as Deputy SoS for Voting Systems Technology and Policy.

Lowell Finley, the lead attorney for the non-partisan voting machine legal watchdog organization VoterAction.org, will be named to the position today.

In his new capacity, Finley will oversee testing and certification for all voting machine technology in the State of California. In a phone call this morning, Finley confirmed that he would be working closely in his new role with key national associations like the National Institute for Science and Technology (NIST) and the U.S. Elections Assistance Commission (EAC).

E-voting critics and at least one California Registrar of Voters have hailed both the swearing in of Bowen as SoS and her appointment of Finley, expressing delight to The BRAD BLOG over the news, characterizing it as a "colossal surprise" and a "very, very good sign for the future of voters' rights in California."

America's voting machine companies are less likely to feel quite as happy about the news.

Finley and VoterAction have filed a number of landmark lawsuits in several states, including in California, over the past year or so, demanding an immediate halt to the use and purchase of Direct Recording Electronic (DRE/touch-screen) voting systems and decertification of many of those systems, as well as improved processes for certification of such systems.

VoterAction is one of over 30 Election Reform organizations who recently went on record with an open letter to Members of Congress demanding federal legislation requiring a paper ballot for every vote cast in America. Such legislation would effectively ban the use of DRE systems, with or without a so-callled "Voter Verified Paper Trail" (VVPAT).

Bowen has been a dogged critic of former Secretary of State Bruce McPherson during her candidacy and in her role overseeing the Elections Committee as a California State Senator. She has criticized his lack of oversight and lax testing procedures, and has championed a "Voters' Bill of Rights" for the Golden State.

While a suit by VoterAction.org filed against former SoS McPherson and several CA Registrars of Voting --- concerning McPherson's certification of Diebold TSx touch-screen systems --- is still pending in state court, the disposition of that suit will likely change due to the fact that the lead defendant, McPherson, is no longer in office.

The Berkeley-based attorney Finley --- also one of the attorneys representing voter plaintiffs in the contested election in Florida's 13th Congressional district in Sarasota --- had one of his most recent and notable successes last September, when a Colorado judge ordered a complete review of certification procedures for voting machines in the state. The court found the official placed in charge of testing and certification didn't have the qualifications necessary, and performed little or no testing. That man, John Gardner, was appointed by former CO Sec. of State Donetta Davidson, who has been appointed by George W. Bush to head the U.S. Elections Assistance Commission.

The news of Finley's appointment will undoubtedly be of concern to the major voting machine companies that received little oversight from the former Sec. of State McPherson.

"I wish I was a fly on the wall in the offices at Diebold as they learn of this appointment. I'm sure jaws will be dropping and damage control will be ramping up," John Gideon of election watchdog organization VotersUnite.org told us today. (Gideon is also a frequent Guest Blogger here at The BRAD BLOG.) ...

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

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As Tom Elias Writes the Single Best MSM Article We've Ever Seen on the Current State of E-Voting!
By Brad Friedman on 1/5/2007 2:34pm PT  

Syndicated California columnist, Thomas D. Elias, has written the single best MSM article we've ever read on the problems with the current state of our electoral system. Period.

In covering changes planned by incoming CA Secretary of State Debra Bowen, Elias --- for the first time, at least that I've ever seen anywhere in the MSM --- squarely places the blame for the entire fine mess we're in exactly where it belongs: On the voting machine companies and the elections officials who have been their enablers and apologists...

An anxious time is just about to begin for the two interest groups that have done more than anyone else in recent years to make Californians feel uncertain about the integrity of their elections.

Those two groups: The makers of electronic voting machines of various types, many of whose devices have been shown to be both hackable and problematic in other ways. And county voter registrars who bought those machines largely with many millions of dollars derived from the federal Help America Vote Act, which was more concerned about speed of conversion to new technologies than whether they were trustworthy.

BOOM! Outta the park!

Those two grafs alone are enough for us to nominate Elias for a Pulitzer. Yes, the reporting on this matter in the MSM has been so indescribably horrible from the get-go that we're willing to give it all up just for those two grafs which finally tell the story correctly.

But Elias doesn't stop there. While we recommend you read his entire piece in full we'll highlight a few of the most notable grafs just to make sure as many eyeballs as possible actually get to see them --- for the good news they offer about a possibly brighter future for elections in California (and thus, the rest of the country) and for the fact that they have actually been printed in a fairly major metropolitan newspaper.

On Bowen's plans for full 'top to bottom review' of outgoing SoS McPherson's rubber-stamp certification of all electronic voting machines...

"We are going to do a top to bottom review of every voting system in use anywhere in California," Bowen said in an interview. "Yes, I would consider decertifying machines that my predecessor approved. Unfortunately, we've spent a lot of money on equipment that's not ready for prime time. Any Fortune 500 company would have sent those machines back with a letter saying they just don't do what they're supposed to."

On the truth (finally!) about the feckless and incompetent McPherson...

Her appointed predecessor and defeated autumn opponent, the former Republican State Sen. Bruce McPherson of Santa Cruz was anything but a skeptic, certifying virtually any machine any county registrar wanted to buy and imposing questionable checks on their performance.

On the infamous voting machine "sleepovers" (as first revealed by The BRAD BLOG)...

"I believe the sleepovers are illegal," said Bowen, an attorney. "If a system is designed so it can't be used without sitting in someone's garage for two weeks, we should not be using that system. We could fix this by using a bonded delivery service like Brinks to deliver machines to polling places at a set time."

In short, the voting machine status quo will not be lasting long in the nascent Bowen era.

On the worthlessness of so-called "paper trails" and the difficulty candidates face in paying exorbitant costs for recounts as capriciously and arbitrarily priced by Registrars...

Bowen recognizes that a paper trail is worthless unless it's usable. "I think $50,000 to do a recount where it might be merited is a tiny price to pay for democracy and to keep people from saying ‘forget about the election, they'll never count our votes anyway.' " So she'll support at least a partial public subsidy of recounts, where they appear justified.

NOTE: The BRAD BLOG covered the cost quoted for a recount in last summer's Special U.S. House Election in CA-50's Francine Busby/Brian Bilbray race. The cost, capriciously and arbitrarily quoted for that recount in order to make it impossible by the horrendous San Diego County Registar of Voters Mikel Haas: $150,000!

Elias also speaks of Sequoia's yellow button "feature" (also first revealed on these pages, but who's counting?) and more. All of which, apparently, forces the Ventura County Star to label the piece, regretablly, as "opinion." But so be it. We'll take what we can get.

If you'd like to send a thank you note to Elias and the VCS Editors, please click here!

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Congressman, Author of Leading U.S. House Election Reform Bill, Replies in BRAD BLOG Comments to Our Article Critical of His Quoted Statement Suggesting Touch-Screen Systems Should Not Be Replaced Due to Cost Factors...
By Brad Friedman on 12/8/2006 2:02pm PT  

In a posted comment here at The BRAD BLOG, Congressman Rush Holt (D-NJ) has responded to an article we filed earlier this week in which we expressed concern about a recently quoted comment of his. Our original piece discussed his statement at an Election Reform symposium at Rutgers University, as quoted on Tuesday in by New Jersey's Herald News, about the financial cost of moving away from Electronic Voting Machines in light of recent purchases made by jurisdictions across the country.

The Congressman's comments are, indeed, quite notable as we read them, and they deserve to be highlighted here --- as the piece from last Tuesday has now scrolled far down the main page and his reply posted today would otherwise likely go unnoticed by many...

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

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