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Latest Featured Reports | Thursday, July 24, 2014
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"It took one hour and 57 minutes for the execution to be completed, and Wood was gasping for more than an hour and a half of that time"..."Wood, 55, gasped more than 600 times before he died"...
'Green News Report' 7/22/14
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Record wildfires burn the Pacific Northwest; June 2014 was hottest globally on record; EPA blocks Pebble Mine; CA blocks water pollution; PLUS: To cut emmissions, cut the beef...
Previous GNRs: 7/17/14 - 7/15/14 - Archives...
Aborted Statewide 'Recount' Reveals It's a Great Time to Steal an Election in California
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No, JFK Didn't Steal the 1960 Election From Nixon
Another Zombie Myth that just won't die gets knocked down again...for now...even as its persistence continues to fuel false Republican claims of 'voter fraud' even today...
CA Adds Call to Overturn 'Citizens United' to Ballot
Measure calls for Amendment 'to make clear that rights protected by the U.S. Constitution are the rights of natural persons only'...
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Nick Clegg calls attacks on Gaza 'collective punishment' that 'incubates next generation of extremists' and 'needs to come to an end'...
'Green News Report' 7/17/14
  w/ Brad & Desi
Australia's RW govt repeals landmark carbon tax; Obama takes action on global warming impacts; Record wildfire season in West; PLUS: California gets tough on water wasters...
Previous GNRs: 7/15/14 - 7/10/14 - Archives...
Koch Brothers' Radical Libertarianism Broke Kansas
More than 100 top GOPers endorse Republican Gov. Sam Brownback's Democratic opponent after tax cuts for the wealthy have busted the extremist Koch Brothers' home state...
Killing Zombie Myths Dead: KPFK 'BradCast'
Brad takes on a bunch of lies this week that just won't die this week -- from e-cigs to Ann Coulter's voter fraud to 'global cooling' to the death penalty to marriage equality in Mississippi and more...
FEDERAL JUDGE FINDS CA DEATH PENALTY VIOLATES U.S. CONSTITUTION
George W. Bush appointee rules state system violates Constitution's ban of 'cruel and unusual punishments'...
'Green News Report' 7/15/14
Divesting from fossil fuels; Germany gives $1b to climate fund; Australia carbon tax repeal; All-electric Formula E racing revs up; PLUS: Climate denier Murdoch...
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GOP Voter Fraud Queen Ann Coulter Urges MS Senate Candidate McDaniel to NOT Pursue Fraud Concerns
Given her well-documented personal history, perhaps she shoulda stayed out of this one?...
'Green News Report' 7/10/14
Debunking the 70's 'global cooling' myth; Anti-science coal nuts in KY; BP oil in Gulf fish; Canada tar sands linked to cancer; PLUS: Pesticide killing birds & bees...
Challenging 'The Nation's Most Restrictive Voter Suppression Law': KPFK 'BradCast'
Journalist Ari Berman, just out of the federal courtroom in North Carolina, joins Brad to discuss the federal case; Plus MUCH MORE...
NATIONWIDE STUDY FINDS ALMOST NO VOTER FRAUD
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'Democracy's Gold Standard'
Hand-marked, hand-counted ballots...
Brad's Upcoming Appearances
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'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
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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
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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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Another visit on Thom Hartmann's Big Picture with new news on several developing Election Integrity stories...

CAUGHT ON TAPE: COORDINATED NATIONWIDE GOP VOTER REG SCAM
The GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal reveals insidious nationwide registration scheme to keep Obama supporters from even registering to vote...

CRIMINAL ELECTION FRAUD COMPLAINT FILED AGAINST GOP 'FRAUD' FIRM
Scandal spreads to 11 FL counties, other states; RNC, Romney try to contain damage, split from GOP operative...

RICK SCOTT GETS ROLLED IN GOP REGISTRATION FRAUD SCANDAL
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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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The Secret Koch Brothers Tapes...


Freedom of political choice vs. slavery in post-'Citizens United' America...
By Ernest A. Canning on 8/27/2012 2:39pm PT  

Guest blogged by Ernest A. Canning

In a case where the employment of several members of the United Public Workers (UPW) was terminated after they failed to fully participate in unpaid, off-duty campaign activities on behalf of a union-supported Congressional candidate, three Republican members of the Federal Elections Commission produced an astounding Aug. 21 decision. They ruled that it is perfectly lawful for unions and corporations to compel their members and employees to engage in such activities, sans compensation, as part of "independent campaign efforts."

In their "Statement of Reasons" [PDF], the three GOP Commissioners explained the basis for their remarkable ruling.

They acknowledged that the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971, 2 USC §441b(a), as well as FEC "regulations prohibit a labor organization [or a corporation] from facilitating the making of a contribution by means of 'coercion, such as the threat of a detrimental job action...to make a contribution or engage in fundraising activities on behalf of a candidate." But, they wrote: "These provisions do not apply to UPW's independent campaign efforts."

UPW's independent use of its paid workforce to campaign for a federal candidate post-Citizen's United was not contemplated by Congress and, consequently, is not prohibited by either the Act or Commission regulations.

The FEC's three Republican appointees thus presented not only a novel but a remarkable extension of Citizens United given that 2 USC §441b(c) makes it "unlawful" even for a corporation's or union's "segregated fund" to provide "anything of value" that is secured by a threat of financial reprisal. The statute mandates that employees must be told about their "right to refuse to so contribute without any reprisal."

In their separate "Statement of Reasons" [PDF], the three FEC Democrats, along with Office of General Counsel (OGC), found a clear-cut violation of Section 441b. "Nothing in Citizens United," the FEC Democrats opined, "suggests...that the Court intended to expand the rights of corporations and unions at the expense of their employees' longstanding rights to be free from coercion and to express or decline to express their political views."

According to the Congressional Research Service [PDF], at least four votes are required for the FEC "to exercise core functions." Thus, the 3-3 deadlock prevented the FEC from disciplining the union for anything beyond the fine for non-reporting of the "independent expenditure."

Setting aside the fact that the OGC's and FEC Democrats' interpretation appears to find direct support in the language of Section 441b of the U.S. Code, there's a fundamental constitutional issue that arises from the disturbing GOP interpretation of Citizens United which neither side addressed --- slavery!...

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

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Some restrictions may apply, however, even as expansion of voting rights is a welcome change of pace to GOP contraction
UPDATE: Bill passes, is on way to Governor's desk...
By Brad Friedman on 8/27/2012 6:35am PT  

Late last week, Scott Keyes at ThinkProgess reported on a "Majority Victory for Voting Rights Advocates as California Legislature Approves Election Day Registration".

The new EDR law, which is, as Keyes reports, "on the cusp of passing", is expected to be signed by Gov. Jerry Brown (D) and would, indeed, be a victory for voters in the Golden State.

According to the NYU's Brennan Center for Justice, "Election Day registration boosts turnout by approximately 5–7 points in those states that allow eligible citizens to register on Election Day --- with a decreased dependence on provisional ballots and without any reported increase in voter fraud."

If passed and signed as expected, however, the law --- a welcome expansion to the franchise amidst recent draconian Republican efforts to restrict voting rights --- would not take effect until 2015 or later, according to Dean Logan, the Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk for Los Angeles County, the largest voting jurisdiction in the nation.

"The bill's implementation is tied to completion of the Vote Cal statewide voter registration database; which is a ways off," he told The BRAD BLOG on Friday. Logan says he is "Generally...supportive of the bill and to expanding access and options for voters," though he notes that "L.A. County has not taken a formal position on it."

While the new law will, no doubt, be a net plus for voters here in California, and for the pro-democracy movement across the country over all, there are a few other issues with the way the law has been written which might make it slightly less of a plus for voters than apparent at first blush, as Logan helped us to understand...

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

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By Ernest A. Canning on 8/24/2012 12:24pm PT  

Guest blogged by Ernest A. Canning

Speaking to a crowd of supporters from the balcony of Ecuador's U.K. Embassy last Sunday, WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange, demanded that the United States end its "war on whistleblowers" --- a war that, Assange said, not only threatens WikiLeaks but "the freedom of expression and the health of our societies." The U.S., he said, must choose between returning to the "revolutionary values" upon which it was founded, or "lurch off the precipice, dragging us all into a dangerous and oppressive world under which journalists fall silent under fear of prosecution."

Assange credited citizen activism for the fact that Britain did not carry out its unlawful threat last week to "storm" Ecuador's Embassy, stating:

If the UK did not throw away the Vienna Conventions the other night, it was because the world was watching. And the world was watching because you were watching.

So the next time somebody tells you it is pointless to defend those rights that we hold dear, remind them of your vigil in the dark before the Embassy of Ecuador. Remind them how, in the morning, the sun came up on a different world, and a courageous Latin American nation took a stand for justice.

Assange called upon the U.S. to "pledge, before the world, that it will not pursue journalists for shining a light on the secret crimes of the powerful."

"There must be no more foolish talk about prosecuting any media organization, be it WikiLeaks or be it the New York Times," he declared. "The U.S. Administration's war on whistleblowers must end."

The controversial Assange went on to call for the release of "one of the world's foremost political prisoners, Bradley Manning," noting that the former Army Intelligence Analyst had just "spent his 815th day of detention without trial. The legal maximum is 120 days."

Manning is the U.S. Army Private alleged to have released classified material to Assange's WikiLeaks. Legendary Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg, during a late 2010 interview with Brad Friedman, described Manning as a "patriot" for his release of the documents.

The full video of Assange's 8/19/12 statement from the balcony of London's Ecuadorian Embassy, where he has been granted asylum by the Latin American country, follows below...

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

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Voting rights advocates must stop saying 'Voter ID' when they mean disenfranchising 'polling place Photo ID restrictions'...
By Brad Friedman on 8/23/2012 11:40am PT  

Please get it straight: the concern is about "polling place Photo ID restrictions" not "Voter ID".

I've tried to warn progressives about this for years, to little avail, but discussing concerns about "Voter ID" is akin (pun intended?) to talking about "Legitimate Rape".

After all, everyone is against "legitimate rape"! But using that phrase, as most instinctively seem to understand, allows for the misleading subconscious notion idea that there is some other kind of rape that is less "legitimate".

In the same way, "Voter ID" is quite reasonable sounding --- after all, who could be against the reasonable sounding idea of identifying oneself before voting? --- but Republican-enacted polling place Photo ID restrictions are a different matter all together. Republicans know that very well, even if Democrats still can't seem to get it.

Both phrases, "Legitimate Rape" and "Voter ID", each reasonable sounding enough, miss the point and are tremendously misleading. Republican vote suppressors know that, so they love it when Democrats and progressives and voting rights advocates use the phrase "Voter ID" instead of "polling place Photo ID restrictions."

The fact is, the majority of states already require some form of reasonable identification of voters before voting, at least at the polling place. For that matter, federal law --- the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) of 2002 --- already requires "Voter ID" in all 50 states when voting for the first time at the polling place, if the voter did not register in person and present ID at that time...

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

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By Brad Friedman on 8/22/2012 8:08pm PT  

With the partisanship heating up in the battle for voting rights in Ohio again this year --- as Republican Sec. of State John Husted actually threatens to fire two Democratic Board of Election officials in Montgomery County for daring to vote in favor of expanded Early Voting hours --- it seemed a good time to check in with the former Sec. of State Jennifer Brunner (D).

All of this comes on the heels of the Obama Administration suing to restore Early Voting for all on the last three days before the election, which Republicans are now allowing only active duty military members in Ohio to do, and after previous rulings by Husted resulted in expanded Early Voting hours in Republican-leaning counties, and no expanded Early Voting hours in the largest Democratic-leaning counties.

Brunner (author of the forthcoming Cupcakes & Courage) joined me on today's BradCast on KPFK/Pacifica Radio here in Los Angeles and offered some inside skinny on what she did in 2008 to help correct the 2004 disasters that plagued the state during that year's Presidential election debacle under her horrible predecessor, J. Kenneth Blackwell (R) --- who also served as co-chair for the Bush/Cheney re-election campaign while serving as the state's chief election official --- and what now seems to be going on under her successor Husted, as he limits Early Voting hours across the entire state, despite the great success it has been up until now for voters there.

She explained the constitutional powers of the Ohio Sec. of State and told me she believes the attempt by Republicans to shorten weekend Early Voting hours --- which were allowed as recently as this year's primary elections in Ohio --- was "clearly aimed at 'Souls to the Polls'," the effort by African-American churches to encourage their congregations to get out and vote on the Sunday before the election.

The result of all of this right now, as the former Secretary of State understated it during our conversation: "A bit of a donnybrook in Ohio."

I asked for her response to the remark by Doug Preisse, Chair of the Franklin County Republican Party and a member of the county's Board of Elections when he said he felt "we shouldn't contort the voting process to accommodate the urban --- read African-American --- voter-turnout machine." She said she felt that that --- and his response to Democrats' charge that Republicans are trying to suppress the vote is "bullshit, quote me" --- was all "very unfortunate."

"We're already in a rancorous climate, starting from Congress and the Presidential election on down," she said. "Why stir up the pot and pit voters against each other? Enough of that was done in 2008. There was so much political capital spent in 2008 on whipping up these fake allegations of voter fraud and now four years later, people realize --- what were there, ten cases around the country since 2000? --- this is so unnecessary."

"The bottom line is," she continued, "voting is not a partisan issue. It should never be a partisan issue. Having control of the rules is not political booty. It really should be a place where everyone walks into that room, they drop their partisan cloak, they stand up, they act like grown-ups, and they say 'Let's do what's fair, because our future depends on it.'"

All of that, and more, follows in today's BradCast...

Download MP3 or listen online below [appx 58 mins]...

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Please support The BRAD BLOG's fiercely independent, award-winning coverage of your electoral system, as available from no other media outlet in the nation, with a donation to help us keep going (Snail mail, more options here). If you like, we'll send you some great, award-winning election integrity documentary films in return! Details right here...

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Federal lawsuit to prevent mass disenfranchisement may be imminent...
By Ernest A. Canning on 8/22/2012 12:35pm PT  

Guest blogged by Ernest A. Canning

Pennsylvania has refused to turn over documents that the U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ) had sought in order to determine whether the state's new polling place Photo ID restriction law is in violation of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act (VRA) and other federal laws.

As previously reported by The BRAD BLOG, on July 23, Assistant Attorney General Thomas E. Perez submitted a four-page letter [PDF] to Carol Aichele, the Acting Secretary of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania (coincidentally, the wife of Gov. Tom Corbett's Chief of Staff), requesting information in electronic format for 16 broad categories of documents that the DoJ felt were needed to evaluate whether the Keystone State's Photo ID law complied with federal laws barring discriminatory election laws.

In an Aug. 17 letter [PDF], the Commonwealth's General Counsel, James D. Schultz, responded to Perez, by telling him that PA would not comply with what Schultz described as an "unprecedented attempt to compel [PA], a state not within the purview Section 5 of the VRA, to present information concerning compliance with Section 2 of the VRA."

Section 5 of the VRA requires some 16 different jurisdictions in the U.S., with a history of racial discrimination, to get pre-clearance for new election-related laws. Pennsylvania is not one of those jurisdictions. However, all 50 states are barred from instituting discriminatory laws under Section 2 of the act.

Schultz accused the DoJ of targeting "a growing number of states…simply because they instituted legislation designed to insure the integrity of the voting process"...

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'Paycheck Protection' Initiative just another scheme to further erode union voices in politics...
By Ernest A. Canning on 8/20/2012 8:35am PT  

Guest editorial by Ernest A. Canning

California’s Proposition 32 --- the so-called "Paycheck Protection" Initiative --- is nothing less than a cynical attempt by "the one percent" to manipulate the revulsion now felt by "the 99 percent" towards the U.S. Supreme Court's infamous Citizens United ruling in order to solidify the ability of corporate wealth and power to destroy any semblance of government of, for or by the people.

The text of the initiative, set for this November's ballot in the Golden State, reads as follows:

"Prohibits unions from using payroll-deducted funds for political purposes. Applies same use prohibition to payroll deductions, if any, by corporations or government contractors. Prohibits union and corporate contributions to candidates and their committees. Prohibits government contractor contributions to elected officers or their committees."

In a video decrying the ballot measure, the "No on 32: Stop the Special Exemptions Act" campaign, describe it as "Miracle-Grow for...billionaires and their super PACs"...

The initiative was drafted by the Lincoln Club of Orange County --- the same group of right-wing mega millionaires and billionaires whose political hit piece, Hillary: The Movie became the centerpiece of the Citizens United ruling and the ensuing, democracy-destroying flood of dark money into our political system. Its top "$50,000 and over" donors represent a list of the state's wealthiest corporatist Republicans.

Although corporations enjoy a 15-to-1 advantage in political donations over organized labor, according to Open Secrets.org, CA's Prop 32 lumps these two very different forms of organizations under the same "special interest" umbrella.

Under the guise of ending the corrupting influence of "special interest" monies, Proposition 32's wealthy backers seek to eliminate the ability of organized labor to fund campaign ads for political candidates that would otherwise compete with the dominant corporate message, while providing loopholes that are large enough for "the one percent" to haul a trainload of politically corrupting gold bullion from Ft. Knox to Sacramento...

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But Election Day Registration still at risk because of proposed Photo ID ballot measure...
By Ernest A. Canning on 8/18/2012 10:34am PT  

Guest blogged by Ernest A. Canning

On Friday, U.S. District Court Judge Donovan W. Frank dismissed an amended complaint seeking to end Election Day Registration in Minnesota, as filed by a number of right-wing organizations in Minnesota Voters Alliance v. Ritchie.

In his 22-page Memorandum of Opinion and Order [PDF], Judge Frank rejected the plaintiffs central claim that MN Secretary of State Mark Ritchie and other election officials "violated the rights of eligible voters by diluting their votes with the votes of EDRs [Election Day Registered voters]."

Plaintiffs claims, the court stated, were "based on the erroneous premise that election officials must verify voters' eligibility before their votes are counted." Citing appellate authority, the court noted that "flawless elections are not constitutionally guaranteed" and that the plaintiffs had failed to allege facts that would establish that state election officials "engaged in invidious discrimination or intentional misconduct."

Judge Frank also ruled that the plaintiffs had admittedly failed to exhaust state remedies which would have permitted them to challenge an individual's eligibility to vote.

While Election Day Registration in MN is preserved, for now, it remains at risk thanks to a second prong attack on the state's popular, and inclusive, program ...

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By Brad Friedman on 8/16/2012 10:58pm PT  

Some good-ish news late tonight for Florida voters, and more bad-ish news for Republican Gov. Rick Scott and friends, as reported by AP:

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — A federal court says a Florida law that restricts the number of early-voting days could result in a dramatic reduction in participation by blacks.

The Republican-controlled Florida legislature last year cut the number of early-voting days to 8 from 12.

But the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia ruled late Thursday that because of the law's potential impact on minority voters, it would not allow Florida to put the changes in place in five Florida counties covered by federal voting laws.

The 119-page ruling did say there were ways that the state could ultimately come up with a plan to change early voting that would not adversely affect minority voting rights.

Still, the ruling raises the prospect that Florida will have two different types of early voting for this year's crucial presidential election.

To unpack this (without having looked at the actual ruling yet), while this is certainly positive news in general, it only applies to the five counties in Florida covered by Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act (VRA). Those jurisdictions require pre-clearance from either the U.S. Dept. of Justice or a 3-judge panel from the U.S. District Court in D.C. for new election-related laws, thanks to the long history of racial discrimination in those jurisdictions.

Three of the counties, Hardee, Hendry and Monroe are fairly small, with fewer than 100,000 voters. Collier (home of Naples) has a population of more than 300,000 and the largest of the five, Hillsborough, is home to Tampa, with a population of about 1.2 million voters. It will also be the home of the upcoming Republican National Convention.

As AP notes, that could mean that only those five counties have 12 days of early voting, while the rest of the state (the other 62 counties), are still restricted to 8. Given that Republicans hung a hat on pretending to demand consistent rules across the state for vote counting during the Bush v. Gore fight in 2000, and that the state Supreme Court agreed, I imagine another fight may be in store on this matter, and how the Republican-run state will --- or won't --- enact consistent Early Voting hours across the state.

This case was decided by the U.S. District Court in D.C. because the state of Florida decided to bypass the DoJ, thinking they'd have better luck with the court system. They were wrong.

It's been a tough year for the state of Florida's attempt to game the voting system in their favor this year, so far, under the rule of their Tea Party Governor. Though, lord knows, they've tried.

In May, a federal judge blocked the bulk of their new voter registration restrictions which had forced the League of Women Voters to call off their registration drive in the Sunshine State for the first time in 72 years, rather than face onerous new rules, fines and even jail time. Last month, after almost all of the state's Supervisors of Elections refused to carry out a hugely flawed voter roll purge of "potential non-citizen voters" (almost all of whom were not), Scott and his hand-picked Sec. of State Ken Detzner were forced to halt their purge (subsequently misreported by the corporate mainstream media), even after pretending the federal government was blocking the purge to keep non-citizen voters on the rolls (they weren't, and Florida knew it, as documents we published exclusively proved.)

Oh, and then there was the former state Republican Chair who admitted, under oath, in a 630-page deposition, that party officials "were talking about voter suppression and keeping blacks from voting," during his tenure.

Here's a thought, Florida Republicans: Come up with good ideas that help the citizens of the state by improving their general welfare and domestic tranquility and maybe they'll just vote for you all by themselves without you having to game the system and suppress the vote. Or, you can just keep doing what you're doing.

[Hat-tip @JeffersonObama on the Twitters.]

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Please support The BRAD BLOG's fiercely independent, award-winning coverage of your electoral system, as available from no other media outlet in the nation, with a donation to help us keep going (Snail mail, more options here). If you like, we'll send you some great, award-winning election integrity documentary films in return! Details right here...

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Diplomatic row said to threaten fabric of international law...
By Ernest A. Canning on 8/16/2012 11:23am PT  

Guest blogged by Ernest A. Canning

Undaunted by a U.K. threat to "storm" Ecuador's London embassy if the Latin American nation refused to hand over WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to British authorities, this morning, Ecuador granted Assange's request for political asylum.

At a press conference in Quito, Ecuador's foreign minister Ricardo Patino strongly denounced the threat received from the U.K.: "Today we've received a threat by the United Kingdom, a clear and written threat that they could storm our embassy in London if Ecuador refuses to hand in Julian Assange."

Ecuador's decision to grant asylum in the face of the U.K.'s threat have not only triggered a diplomatic row but have threatened to tear apart the very fabric of international rule of law, according to experts. Where one could anticipate Sweden's denouncement of Ecuador's asylum decision as "unacceptable", as it summoned Ecuador's ambassador to Stockholm, the British threat to storm Ecuador's embassy was described by University of Australia Professor of International Law Don Rothwell as "extraordinary" and a "significant violation" of Article 22 of the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Rights that could "find its way before an international court."

As Ecuador's foreign minister issued an angry denouncement of the U.K. threat, noting that his nation was "not a British colony", American filmmaker Michael Moore called on his friends in the U.K. to mount a protest of the U.K. threat outside Ecuador's London embassy. Occupy Wall Street protesters called for "people to take part in a 24/7 occupation of the British consulate in New York." Reuters reported a "clash between protesters and British police outside of Ecuador's embassy."

But, as discussed in a must-read opinion piece by Mark Weisbrot of the UK Guardian, the very concept of an international rule of law is open to question given the impunity by which the United States and its allies have operated both at home and abroad...

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

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Exhaustive analysis finds fraud that might be deterred by polling place Photo ID restrictions 'virtually non-existent'...
By Brad Friedman on 8/15/2012 10:04pm PT  

Of course, we've been spending the better part of the last ten years making the exact same case, so none of this should come as a surprise to long-time readers of The BRAD BLOG. But now a major new nationwide analysis by News21 of all known cases of election fraud in the U.S. since 2000 underscores our years of accurate and detailed reporting once again...

A new nationwide analysis of 2,068 alleged election-fraud cases since 2000 shows that while fraud has occurred, the rate is infinitesimal, and in-person voter impersonation on Election Day, which prompted 37 state legislatures to enact or consider tough voter ID laws, is virtually non-existent.

In an exhaustive public records search, reporters from the investigative reporting project "News21" sent thousands of requests to elections officers in all 50 states, asking for every case of fraudulent activity including registration fraud, absentee ballot fraud, vote buying, false election counts, campaign fraud, casting an ineligible vote, voting twice, voter impersonation fraud and intimidation.

Analysis of the resulting comprehensive News21 election fraud database turned up 10 cases of voter impersonation. With 146 million registered voters in the United States during that time, those 10 cases represent one out of about every 15 million prospective voters.

10 cases. 10 cases of in-person voter impersonation that might have been deterred by polling place Photo ID restrictions out of hundreds of millions of votes cast in all 50 states since 2000 --- restrictions which, according to study after study, could keep as many as 21 million perfectly legal eligible voters from being able to cast their legal vote.

But, again, the Republicans who have been enacting these laws are doing it for exactly that reason: to keep those who are most likely to lack the type of state-issued Photo ID required to vote under these new restrictions --- the elderly, minorities, the poor and students (read: Democratic-leaning voters) --- from being able to cast their legal vote.

For those in the corporate mainstream media still unaware of what this is called (this includes you, NPR), it's called Voter Suppression.

And this exhaustive new study, once again, makes that case crystal clear...

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

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Plaintiffs vow to appeal ruling by Republican judge as 1.6 million legal votes said to be imperiled by new law this November...
UPDATED: Plaintiffs filed formal notice of appeal...
By Brad Friedman on 8/15/2012 12:02pm PT  

A state court has upheld the state constitutionality of the new Republican-enacted polling place Photo ID restriction law in Pennsylvania which critics say may imperil the votes of more than a million legally registered voters in the Keystone State this November.

In his 70-page ruling [PDF] issued today, Commonwealth Court Judge Robert Simpson acknowledged that the plaintiffs, represented by the ACLU and other civil rights organizations, "did an excellent job of 'putting a face' to those burdened by the voter ID requirement," but failed to demonstrate "facial unconstitutionality". The judge did not rule on the merits of the case, but on whether or not it could be enjoined by the court.

That, despite the fact that:

  • The Pennsylvania state Constitution guarantees that "Every citizen 21 years of age [lowered to 18 years of age by the twenty-sixth amendment to the U.S. Constitution]...shall be entitled to vote at all elections," subject to certain restrictions by the General Assembly as to who may register to vote.
  • Independent studies have determined that some 1.6 million otherwise eligible voters in PA, including nearly a million in Democratic-leaning Philadelphia alone, may lack an unexpired state-issued driver's license by this November's Presidential election, which is just 83 days away.
  • The state admitted, before the trial even began, that they were unaware of any "investigations or prosecutions of in-person voter fraud in Pennsylvania"; that they "are not aware of any incidents of in-person voter fraud in Pennsylvania and do not have direct personal knowledge of in person voter fraud elsewhere"; and that the state would offer no evidence at the trial "that in person voter fraud is likely to occur in November 2012 in the absence of the Photo ID law."
  • The Republican Secretary of the Commonwealth, charged with implementing the law, admitted on the stand that she does not "know what the law says."
  • The Republican Governor who signed the bill, and lied about "voter fraud" in the state, does not even know what type of ID would now be eligible for voting under the new restrictions.
  • The Republican House Majority Leader admitted that the bill, passed in the state legislature without a single Democratic vote, was meant to "allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania" this year.
  • During the trial, as described by plaintiffs, "[S]tate officials admitted they underestimated the number of registered voters without acceptable photo ID, admitted the law will disenfranchise voters, admitted the law will hold different voters to different standards, admitted voters casting an absentee ballot will be able to vote without ID."

Given all of the above, following the close of the trial, the plaintiffs had predicted a "slam dunk" ruling in their favor. We had also predicted that the law was likely to "go down in flames."

We're still reviewing the opinion of Judge Simpson, who is a Republican, and will have a more detailed analysis of the specifics of his ruling in the coming days.

Plaintiffs have already vowed to appeal the case to the state Supreme Court, where four votes will be needed to overturn the Commonwealth Court's ruling. Currently, there is a 3-3 Republican/Democratic split on the high court, as the 7th jurist, a Republican, has stepped aside for the moment pending a corruption investigation. If the state Supreme Court splits on the verdict, Simpson's ruling would hold. Though, depending on how the state Supremes decide, and if federal rulings are a part of whatever decision they may make, it is possible the plaintiffs could later take the case to the U.S. Supreme Court in the event that the state Supreme Court fails to overturn the lower court's verdict.

Separately, the U.S. Dept. of Justice has opened it's own investigation of the law to determine whether or not it may be in violation of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and/or the U.S. Constitution's Equal Protection clause. They may decide to file their own federal case to block the law in the weeks ahead.

UPDATE 8/18/12: On Aug. 16 plaintiffs filed a formal notice of appeal. Once the opening brief is available, The BRAD BLOG will furnish a detailed analysis of that appeal in the context of the rationale applied by Simpson, along with an assessment of the alternative litigation which the U.S. Department of Justice could potentially file in U.S. District Court.

UPDATE 9/4/12: The plaintiffs have now filed their appeal to the PA Supreme Court. Our legal analyst Ernest Canning details their appeal and some of the absurdities they point out in the original ruling by the Commonwealth Court judge right here...

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By Brad Friedman on 8/14/2012 10:04pm PT  

"I understand that this is a Republican talking point because I've heard it repeated over and over again ... These numbers have been debunked, as you know... You can't just repeat it and make it true, sir."

I don't know what's gotten into CNN's Soledad O'Brien lately, but, to bastardize apocryphal Lincoln, can we send a whole case of it to the rest of the Beltway Press Corps?

We highlighted a similar moment from O'Brien in June, when she doggedly attempted to get an actual answer from a Senior Romney Adviser on whether the presumptive GOP nominee still supports Arizona's controversial "Papers Please" law. She refused to let it go --- like a real journalist or something.

Again today she went full "Newsroom" on Mitt Romney surrogate John Sununu, the Chair of his National Steering Committing, especially on his attempt to lie about Obama having "gutted Medicare"...

Watch:

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By Ernest A. Canning on 8/6/2012 11:50am PT  

Guest blogged by Ernest A. Canning

In the third of our three-part series on the U.S. Government's failed 'War on Drugs,' earlier this year, we noted that drug prohibition was vital to the very existence of the deadly Mexican drug cartels. As we noted, the carnage, which included 13,000 deaths inside Mexico in "the first three quarters of 2011 --- a number that does not include the more than 5,000 people who have disappeared" --- is now spilling over the border into the U.S.

Over the past five years, some 60,000 have died in the Mexican drug war, and "the U.S. has played a big part in it," according to a new video from the Brave New Foundation on behalf of GunWar.org. The free flow of increasingly sophisticated weaponry from the U.S. to Mexico --- extremely profitable for the U.S. small arms industry and deadly for innocent civilians --- is part of the very "scourge" which the U.N. was seeking to address in its Arms Trade Treaty negotiations before the Obama Administration caved in the face of the National Rifle Association's campaign of blatant lies about the accord.

All of the Mexican carnage, as the video explains, is due, in no small part, to the tremendously lax oversight of the sale of such weapons here in the U.S., thanks to the political strong-arming by groups such as the NRA who oppose virtually any and all oversight or regulation of any type.

"Around 70% of all firearms seized in Mexico and submitted for tracing, come from the United States," Brave New World explains. "Most gun sellers don't care. The more they sell, the more they profit."

The additionally tragic irony underscoring these facts: All of this has played out even as Republicans have spent the last year or so pretending to be concerned about their so-called "Fast and Furious scandal", the poorly-considered ATF "gun walking" program begun by the Bush Administration and continued by members of the ATF based in Arizona during the Obama Administration. A federal program designed (poorly or otherwise) to try and catch gun-runners and drug lords: Bad --- at least when it's carried out by a Democratic administration. Little to no restriction on the "legal" purchase of military-grade assault weapons in the U.S., resulting in tens of thousands of them pouring over the border for decades: That's just one of the many benefit that members receive in exchange for sending their hard-earned cash to the terrorist-enabling NRA...

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By Ernest A. Canning on 8/2/2012 4:26pm PT  

Guest blogged by Ernest A. Canning with Brad Friedman

Cowering in the face of blatantly false claims by the terrorist-enablers and dishonest fear-mongerers of the National Rifle Association (NRA), and one of their most vocal lying supporters, the Obama administration torpedoed talks at the United Nations on a proposed international treaty which sought to regulate the $60 billion international small arms trade.

The talks were designed to deal with a problem the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs describes as having created "a worldwide scourge" that has placed weapons in the hands of insurgents, armed gang members, drug lords, pirates and terrorists.

Dishonestly claiming the treaty was intended to regulate domestic U.S. arms sales, the NRA and its supporter, former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton, led a wholly deceptive charge against the long-sought treaty.

The accord, says Suzanne Nossel, Executive Director of Amnesty International, was meant "to prevent countries and arms exporters from selling guns and military hardware to human rights abusers." But such a treaty was a bridge too far for those, like Bolton and the leadership of the NRA, who favor the profits U.S. arms manufacturers can realize if they can sell firearms to anyone and everyone. And, for now, even the Obama administration, which has, time and again, wilted whenever it feels the heat that accompanies an NRA 2nd Amendment propaganda barrage, has proven willing to sacrifice a much needed international treaty rather than square off with the terrorist-enabling NRA and their lies.

"Any treaty that includes civilian firearms ownership in its scope will be met with the NRA's greatest force of opposition," NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre said during his purposely deceptive testimony at the UN earlier this month. What he purposely failed to note? The treaty had absolutely nothing to do with "civilian firearms ownership" in the U.S. of any kind.

LaPierre's testimony was just another chapter in the NRA's long-perpetuated scam to continue pimping for the firearms industry by hoaxing their membership into believing that the Obama Administration --- which has, several times, expanded the rights of civilian firearms owners since taking office --- is secretly plotting to undermine the 2nd Amendment in hopes of taking guns away from law abiding citizens.

"I am here to announce NRA's strong opposition to anti-freedom policies that disregard American citizens right to self-defense," LaPierre lied during his UN testimony. "We will not stand idly by while international organizations, whether state-based or stateless, attempt to undermine the fundamental liberties our men and women in uniform have fought so bravely to preserve...and on which our entire American system of government is based"...

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

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