On today's BradCast, the Des Moines Register joins the fray to declare "something smells" in Iowa's Democratic caucus results and procedures. Bev Harris of Black Box Voting joins us to examine the concerns about "caucus integrity" on both the Democratic and Republican sides --- what we know, what we don't, and what we should. [Link to the complete audio of the program is at the bottom of this article.]
With partisans on the Right and Left now charging, appropriately or not, that the caucuses were "stolen", and both the Register and Sanders' camp calling for state Democrats to release raw vote totals, Harris notes: "Really, the bottom line is, if they won't disclose stuff, then it smells. If they disclose it, everybody can see for themselves."
"People say, well, there's problems in every election," she continues. "My mantra is: That may be true, but let's see the problems. All I'm saying is let us see them, and let us address them. Most people I talk to --- even if they're very partisan --- they say, 'If I can see it and we lost fair and square, I will accept that.' It really ticks people off when you say, 'we won, and we aren't going to show you how.'"
I ask her about the (now infamous, for some reason) coin tosses, videos revealing chaos and/or miscounts at certain locations, charges that the election was "stolen" for Hillary Clinton and much more, including Donald Trump's charge that Ted Cruz "stole" the election from him and that it amounted to "voter fraud".
"They call everything voter fraud!," Harris tells me. "It's so odd! Even Trump is claiming that when one of the candidates spreads some gossip that wasn't true about another candidate, that that was voter fraud! How is this voter fraud? Can we just call it was it is, which is a problem with election integrity, or in some cases election tampering. But it's not about the voters. Why are we pointing fingers at the most idealistic level, the voters?"
We go on to discuss worries about the even less transparent New Hampshire Primary, where most of the state still uses the same Diebold paper ballot optical-scan computer systems to tally votes that were seen flipping a mock election in HBO's Emmy-nominated 2006 documentary Hacking Democracy. (Watch how it was done right here, and feel free to be concerned when the 100% unverified results are reported next Tuesday night.)
Among the recommendations Harris offers for those concerned about Election Integrity next week (and for the rest of the year, frankly): "One thing I think is really important --- is for people to get out their mobile phones, take a picture of the results at the polling place [at the end of the night] and they can text it to themselves, to a friend, put 'em on Facebook, Tweet it." She says that puts a timestamp on the graphic image of results as they were produced by computers at the precinct, which can later be compared to the results reported by the state on the web. "I think that's one thing that's pretty important this time. Just photograph the paperwork. It's not hard. Ship it off electronically somewhere, which will automatically timestamp it."
That's particularly important in places like New Hampshire where, she explains, the state "very quietly, and actually wrongfully, passed a law in 2003 so that we cannot go back and look at [paper ballots after the election] ... In New Hampshire, they put an amendment on an unrelated bill, the dark of night, and quietly said 'ballots are not a public record anymore'. So while they may say, 'we have ballots and anyone can look', that's not true. I tried."
Finally, we discuss another heartbreaking loss this week to the Election Integrity community. Last night, we lost Riverside County, California's longtime EI champion, Tom Courbat. A Vietnam-era vet stationed in South Korea, Tom heroically battled multiple myeloma related to Agent Orange exposure for years. As I note on today's show, I spoke with Tom on the phone several times throughout those years about EI issues, even when he was literally in the hospital receiving chemo therapy.
Tom appeared on air with me on a number of occasions over the years, and was often an important source for many blockbuster stories here at The BRAD BLOG. (For example, the 2006 discovery of the infamous "Yellow Button" on the back of Sequoia touch-screen systems that allow voters to cast as many votes as they like until physically restrained from doing so; the 2007 "hack" challenge to the cowardly Riverside County Board of Supervisors who fought in favor of 100% unverifiable voting systems; the blocked recount of CA's anti-GMO initiative, Prop 37, in 2013; And the 2013 law he successfully shepherded through the CA legislature to require that counties release election results in downloadable formats; Those are just some of the reasons why, in 2007, we called Tom a "Hero of Democracy" who is "one of many such quiet, and usually unrecognized, heroes around the country, to whom our nation owes a debt of gratitude which can never be adequately repaid.")
Rest in peace, my friend. You deserve it. I miss you already, but will always remain inspired by you...
Download MP3 or listen to complete show online below...
(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)