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Latest Featured Reports | Sunday, November 23, 2014
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Brad's Upcoming Appearances
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'Special Coverage' Archives
GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal 2012...
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The Secret Koch Brothers Tapes...


Brunner's New Directive Also Requires Such Ballots Actually Be Counted Before Unofficial Results are Released to the Public, Media
Concerns Remain About Centralized County Tabulation, However...
By Brad Friedman on 1/3/2008 11:01am PT  

Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner issued a short, unambiguous and to-the-point directive [PDF] last night, to all 56 counties in Ohio still employing unverifiable Direct Recording Electronic (DRE, usually touch-screen) voting machines, that they must make a paper ballot available at the polling place to any voter who wishes to vote on one.

Brava!

Her directive even goes so far as to require those paper ballots actually be counted "on election night as part of the unofficial canvass."

Brava again! The requirement to actually count those paper ballots before unofficial results are release to the public and media is a key component that has been missing from the various federal legislative efforts, including Rep. Rush Holt's (D-NJ) latest bill as currently drafted, as well as his previous one (HR811), that would begin to put paper back into the polling place.

Every state in the country should follow suit! As well, we recommend that, at the very least, Brunner issue a further directive that signs shall be conspicuously and clearly posted in each polling place to inform voters of their right to vote on paper, if they wish. Better still, a directive that requires every voter to be asked by voting officials, before they vote, if they wish to vote on paper. We have previously recommended such a "paper or plastic?" requirement for any jurisdiction in America that still allows for the use of horrible DRE systems (including those with or without a useless, so-called "paper trail").

Until then, Democracy advocates in the Buckeye state will need to launch an important, and potentially expensive (but crucial), education campaign to inform voters of their right to vote on paper!

With the very good general news from Brunner, let's hope she soon realizes the underlying reasons for serious concerns about, and the great dangers of, not counting and posting precinct voting results at the precinct, before they are sent back to county headquarters for central tabulation.

Brunner's recent independent testing of Ohio's e-voting systems (known as EVEREST) led her to recommend the abolishment of all DRE systems in the state, although she did not issue a binding directive to that end. At the same time, her recommendation to ban precinct-based counting, in favor of central-based counting, has drawn a great deal of criticism from Election Integrity advocates. Rightly so, in our opinion, even if she came to her recommendation through well-meaning advice from some of the folks who advised on the study, including computer security experts, and election officials of the sort who would be inappropriately entrusted with complete control over that dangerously centralized counting process.

(You can read our direct challenges to Brunner on that point, and her explanations for the decision, in our recent exclusive interview with her, just after the release of EVEREST.)

One quick note to Mark Niquette and Columbus Dispatch concerning their coverage of this issue in this morning's paper...

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

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Simplified Legislation Offers Money to Jurisdictions Who Wish to Move to Paper Ballots, Optional Audits...
By Brad Friedman on 12/28/2007 1:31pm PT  

Rep. Rush Holt (D-NJ) is trying again. After learning a lesson or two, from his failed attempt to push an unpopular Election Reform bill (HR811) through Congress, he's scaling back in hopes of getting something passed that may help bring accountability to the 2008 election cycle.

The latest version of the bill, coming in at a relatively slim 20 pages, is available here [PDF].

We certainly applaud the effort in general, and note that it mirrors some of the simple, doable-by-'08 initiatives we've been speaking with a few folks in Congress about behind the scenes.

In brief, the bill we've been discussing, with several Congressional offices, after common ground discussions with a number of EI advocates, a representative from the National Association of Counties (NaCO) and even a Republican who had initially worked on the Help America Vote Act (HAVA), but disliked the resulting bill, would call for the following:

  • Money to states and/or counties who wish to move to paper ballot systems.
  • A requirement that all voters be asked before voting if they wish to vote on paper (and that those paper ballots actually be counted before unofficial tallies are released to the media).
  • Grant money to further study disability voting technology and hand-counting systems.
  • Restrictions to no more than one DRE per polling place to marginally meet HAVA's mandate for voters with disabilities.

Holt's new bill would do a few, if not all of those things.

In his run at it this time, his bill would simply offer federal funding for jurisdictions who wish to move to paper ballots (that's good), and also offer money to help pay for post-election audits of those ballots...if they choose to do so. It also sets aside money for study of disability voting technology, as we'd also recommended.

Perhaps he has become a bit too timid after his previous unfortunate experience. Though the bill has not yet been introduced officially --- so language is not yet finalized, thus we'll hold full fire until we see the final product --- the audits recommended in his bill would be optional. As well, there are currently no requirements in his bill to mandate that Election Officials actually count those paper ballots, paid for with federal dollars, before releasing unofficial vote tallies to the media. That last is no small point (just ask Al Gore or Christine Jennings).

And most puzzling of all, in the bill which would only apply to the 2008 general election, there is also no requirement at all to make those federally-funded paper ballots available to all voters who'd like to vote on them.

It seems to us that if a state or county chooses to take federal money to pay for their paper ballots, attaching a few common sense strings, like the ones mentioned above, would be perfectly appropriate. Perhaps such changes can be made during the committee process or on the Senate side.

But hey, no bill's perfect, and this one certainly appears to be a welcome step, at least, in the right direction. It would help to begin turning the Titanic around by making the move to paper ballots much easier. And, most notably, it would not federally institutionalize secret software and Direct Recording Electronic (DRE, touch-screen) voting machines as Holt's previous HR811 would have. That bill, and the many concerns about it, was exhaustively covered by The BRAD BLOG over the past year. (See our special coverage here.)

Steve Rosenfeld at Alternet has details on Holt's new initiative, along with a few scintillating --- and mostly accurate --- quoted comments in reply from yours truly and a few others.

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Result of State's First Ever Testing of E-Voting Systems Find All Systems 'Vulnerable' to Manipulation and Theft by 'Simple Techniques'
SoS Brunner Recommends Paper Ballots Optically-Scanned at County Headquarters for Buckeye State...
By Brad Friedman on 12/14/2007 2:35pm PT  

The results of new, unprecedented testing of e-voting machines in the state of Ohio are in, and the findings mirror the landmark results of a similar test carried out earlier this year in California.

"Ohio's electronic voting systems have 'critical security failures' which could impact the integrity of elections in the Buckeye State," says Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner in a statement which accompanied the release of the report today on the SoS' website. Brunner, a Democrat, was joined in her press conference (video now here), called today to discuss the results of the testing, by Ohio's Republican House Speaker, Jon Husted.

Brunner is calling for a ban on all Direct Recording Electronic (DRE, usually touch-screen) voting systems in the state, along with a ban on precinct-based optical-scan paper based systems, charging that the central counting of ballots at the county would eliminate "points of entry creating unnecessary voting system risk."

The State's bi-partisan "Evaluation & Validation of Election-Related Equipment, Standards & Testing" (EVEREST) report finds, as did California's study, as did virtually every other independent test of such systems, that violating the security and manipulating the "federal approved" electronic voting systems, is a breeze.

"To put it in every-day terms," Brunner said, "the tools needed to compromise an accurate vote count could be as simple as tampering with the paper audit trail connector or using a magnet and a personal digital assistant."

"The results underscore the need for a fundamental change in the structure of Ohio’s election system to ensure ballot and voting system security while still making voting convenient and accessible to all Ohio voters," said Brunner, who has come under fire from Election Integrity advocates for failing to act quickly enough concerning the voting systems to be used in next year's crucial election, as well as for failing to seek accountability for the exceedingly well-documented and now-infamous charges of election fraud and voter suppression in the 2004 Presidential election under her predecessor J. Kenneth Blackwell.

While the effort is long overdue in Ohio, actions being taken by Brunner, in light of the test results, are less stringent than those taken by California Secretary of State Debra Bowen after tests in her state. Brunner's recommendations, some of them quite puzzling, are likely to come under some fire in the bargain, from Election Integrity advocates in Ohio and elsewhere...

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

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PBS Explores Many Of The Ways Republicans And The DoJ Are Working To Disenfranchise Democratic Leaning Voters
By Alan Breslauer on 12/5/2007 11:18am PT  

Guest Blogged by Alan Breslauer

Will The 2008 Vote Be Fair? That was the topic addressed by host David Brancaccio and former Justice Department official David Becker on NOW last Friday. Part I (at left, 10:01) begins with a discussion of Photo ID laws to prevent the "invented problem" of voter fraud. The discussion continues at the 6:15 mark on the topics of voter caging and voter purging --- when the DoJ requires jurisdictions to purge their voter rolls when they do not match census estimates.

Part II (at right, 9:50) begins with Becker explaining how the Bush 43 Justice Department has subverted its traditional mission: "During about a five year span, not one single case was brought on behalf of African Americans in the Voting Section of the Civil Rights Division". Becker goes on to state that policies were established that favored Republicans and disfavored Democrats in an effort to "gam[e] the system" to retain power.

Next, Brancaccio and Becker explore how the U.S. Attorney scandal fits in to the bigger picture. Becker: "The DoJ, especially under Alberto Gonzales, was being used as an arm of the right wing of the Republican Party to effectuate partisan gains in elections". Finally, the program concludes with a discussion on voting machines and Florida's 13th District.

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First Democratic Candidate to Answer Directly on the Issue, in Response to Why Tuesday?'s Candidate Challenge...
By Brad Friedman on 11/15/2007 11:15am PT  

Blogged by Brad from the road...

"What we need, is we need paper ballots, so votes can be verified," says John Edwards directly in response to Why Tuesday's video Candidate Challenge. He says a bunch of other good stuff on the topic as well in his brief response...


Edwards is the only Democratic candidate so far (12 candidates from both parties have so far answered the challenge issued by Why Tuesday's Jacob Soboroff) to speak that directly to the issue of paper ballots, and other needed reforms.

On the R side, believe it or not, only Duncan Hunter understands the need for paper ballots. But then again, he also sees imaginary "people that are illegally in the country being rounded up, herded into the polls, we've seen that in California, voting illegally." So we'd have to call his position on election reform a wash.

Also, watch for our buddy Jake's questions on Election Reform to be asked of all of the candidates at tonight's Democratic debate, where his video question was voted into the Top 10 questions (atleast at last count before they shut down voting!) after being voted into the top 10 at 10Questions.com, a project of TechPresident in cooperation with the NYTimes Editorial Board and MSNBC. They will pose all the top 10 questions to the candidates over the next month and ask for a video response, similar to the Why Tuesday? Candidate Challenge. Waytago, Jake!

Why Tuesday? will be at the CNN/YouTube Republican debate in Florida on Nov 28th and The BRAD BLOG looks forward to further partnership with them (Why Tuesday?, not necessarily Republicans, CNN or YouTube) :-)

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Magazine Says Nelson-Whitehouse Senate Bill Calling for 2012 Ban on Dangerous DRE Voting Systems a 'Stunning Reversal'
Uses Our Own 'Ford Pinto' Metaphor in Article Spurring One Writer to Proclaim to BRAD BLOG: 'DREs Are Now Junk in Mainstream Publications Such as Time!'
By Brad Friedman on 11/4/2007 1:56pm PT  

Sure, the reporter at TIME magazine gets much of the terminology wrong (hey, he works for TIME, he doesn't have the kind of resources we do here at The BRAD BLOG to get things right when we report them, so we'll cut him some slack), but as a national writer friend of ours commented in a late-night email last night, "DREs are now junk, officially, in mainstream publications such as Time.com"

Well, it's about damned time.

Reporting on the new Nelson-Whitehouse Election Reform bill, which we covered late last week, and which would ban Direct Recording Electronic (DRE, usually touch-screen) voting systems by 2012, TIME declares that the reversal, since 2000, away from such unverifiable, unauditable, unsecurable voting machines "couldn't be more stunning," adding that the bill is "the clearest sign yet of the stampede away from touch-screen."

The report also quotes Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) mirroring his comments when he released the legislation with co-sponsor Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) as saying "Voters have to feel confident that their ballot will count as intended." Last week he had said, in his statement, that DREs are "unreliable and vulnerable to error," and that "[t]he bottom line is we have to ensure every vote is counted – and, counted properly."

To which occasional BRAD BLOG Guest Blogger, Emily Levy of VelvetRevolution.us, asked Nelson rhetorically in comments here, if that's true, "as declared in your November 1 statement, why would you be willing to wait until 2012 for DREs to be banned?...I mean, isn't there a somewhat important election coming up in, oh, let's say, 2008?"

Good point, Em!

The TIME piece also quotes Dan McCrea, of the Florida Voters Coalition borrowing one of our own oft-used metaphors (which we are quite happy to donate to the cause!) in regard to those who fear banning DREs would be a huge waste of their previous investment in the shitty machines.

McCrea tells TIME that such thinking is similar to "buying a fleet of Pintos whose gas tanks you later find out blow up on you, but insisting you're going to keep using them because you spent all that money on them."

Thanks for getting that into TIME, Dan! Smartly done!

He also points out, for those who claim there is not enough time to switch away from dangerous DREs to paper ballots before the November 2008 Presidential Election, "New Mexico voted to convert back to a paper ballot system in the spring of 2006 and had it ready by last November's elections."

Thanks again, Dan. Now if we can just get those Democrats and Election Integrity folks who continue to negotiate with themselves by watering down their own bills, and putting off reform for years down the road --- in order to garner support from folks who are going to oppose them on such bills no matter what --- to start realizing that, and calling instead for real reform NOW, we might actually be in business!

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Nelson and Co-Sponsor Whitehouse Rewrite Originally Introduced Bill to Do Away with Discredited Systems by 2012 and 'Any Subsequent Year'
By Brad Friedman on 11/1/2007 11:07pm PT  

-- By Brad Friedman

After months of being told over and over by Rep. Rush Holt's (D-NJ) office, People for the American Way (PFAW), and many of the other most ardent supporters of Holt's flawed Election Reform Bill (HR811) that "there is no support in Congress for a ban on DREs," it looks like they must have been wrong. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) and co-sponsor Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) filed such a bill today.

Here's the complete bill [PDF] which we've yet to read in full. But note this item from page 41, Line 7:

RESTRICTION ON USE OF DIRECT RECORDING ELECTRONIC VOTING SYSTEMS -
A direct recording electronic voting system may not be used to administer any election for Federal office held in 2012 or any subsequent year.

A ban on such machines, finally? Yes! By 2012? Unfortunately, yes. But let's overlook that last point for a moment.

In a statement issued by Nelson today, pointing out that DRE (often referred to as "touch-screen") voting systems are "unreliable and vulnerable to error," the senator says, "The bottom line is we have to ensure every vote is counted – and, counted properly...Citizens must have confidence in the integrity of their elections.”

The new language banning DREs was added today to a previous version of the same bill which Nelson had introduced originally in early Summer. This version "would be the first [bill] to seek a ban on electronic touch-screen voting machines in federal elections nationwide," according to his statement, which adds that the language was updated after a recent meeting with Florida's Republican Secretary of State Kurt Browning, once an ardent support of DRE voting systems.

When Nelson's original version of the legislation was introduced some months ago, it was largely a "clone version" of Holt's original HR811 introduced in the House, but with a number of extra provisions addressing concerns of voter intimidation and suppression.

Little attention had been given to Nelson's bill at the time, since the Rules Committee was regarded as having jurisdiction for any Election Reform bills in the Senate, and the committee chair, Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-CA), had made clear she intended to introduce her own version of Election Reform as the Senate counterpart to Holt's. She eventually introduced S. 1487, which has been subsequently criticized by Election Integrity advocates as being even more flawed then Holt's much-criticized bill.

(FULL DISCLOSURE: We were invited to work on the Holt bill prior to its introduction, and succeeded in adding several much-improved provisions. Yet the bill, as currently written --- and far more so since being drastically watered down throughout the committee process --- has failed to garner our support.)

DREs: "Not a Reasonable Voting System"

Neither Feinstein's nor Holt's bill had called for a ban on DRE voting systems, however, despite an outcry among Election Integrity advocates and a host of computer scientists and security experts who argued that DREs were vulnerable to hacking, non-transparent, prone to error, antithetical to democracy, and thus simply could not be used safely in elections. With or without a so-called "Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail" (VVPAT) printer attached.

Johns Hopkins computer professor Avi Rubin testified earlier this year that "after four years of studying the issue, I now believe that a DRE with a VVPAT is not a reasonable voting system."

Stanford professor and VerifiedVoting.org founder David Dill, arguing in favor of the Holt bill, admitted, "I would personally prefer to see optical scan machines used nationwide."

And former legislative director of VoteTrustUSA.org Warren Stewart, now also of VerifiedVoting, had told a Senate panel earlier this year that while there were disagreements among some in the EI movement, most had agreed that touch-screen systems must not not be used. "While this broad based movement embraces a wide range of proposals and positions," he testified, "it is unified in the conclusion that the direct electronic recording of votes to computer memory is inimical to democracy."

And yet, all three of the above advocates, along with many others, continued to argue --- while failing to offer any actual evidence for the claim --- that there was simply no support for the idea of a DRE ban in either house of the U.S. Congress.

All the while, The BRAD BLOG had maintained that they, and the other Holt supporters, had fallen victim to a hoax by People for the American Way (PFAW). The popular public advocacy group had long pushed the unsupported notion that there was no congressional support for such a ban, in order to see the bill passed specifically without such a ban. It was one of several false notions being forwarded by the group in favor of the bill, as we argued both here and at Alernet early in the year.

A careful examination of PFAW's on-the-record statements, and numerous on and off-the-record conversations with their Executive Director and legislative leaders by The BRAD BLOG over many months, revealed that PFAW (almost inexplicably) has actually been advocating in favor of the use of dangerous DRE voting systems in American elections. It's fair to say that Holt's bill had thus been held hostage to ensure that such systems would not be banned.

But then came the fallout from the failed 13th Congressional District election last November in Nelson's home state, followed by California Sec. of State Debra Bowen's landmark scientific findings, Rep. Susan Davis's (D-CA) amendment this past summer, and a killer editorial from the New York Times as the tide began to slowly turn...

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

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Announces Plans to 'Continue Oversight Hearings on Election Integrity' and Re-Introduce Legislation Calling for Hand-Counted Paper Ballots in Presidential Elections...
By Brad Friedman on 6/11/2007 5:04pm PT  

Democratic Presidential Candidate Rep. Dennis Kucinich announced plans to drop his support of Congressman Rush Holt (D-NJ)'s controversial election reform bill, HR 811, during a telephone appearance at a New Hampshire activist event over the weekend. The Ohio congressman and outspoken critic of the Iraq War also announced that he plans to re-introduce "The Paper Ballot Act," (HR 6200) a bill he filed in the last Congress, requiring the hand counting of paper ballots in Presidential elections.

Kucinich "announced he will advise Rep. Holt that the he will not be supporting HR 811, a voter reform bill rapidly losing support," according to a press release issued today by his New Hampshire campaign spokesman....

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

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The Holt Election Reform Propaganda Machine Has Said a Ban on DRE Touch-Screen Voting Machines Couldn't Pass in Congress, But Has Yet to Name a Single Supporter Who Would Vote Against Such a Ban
Looking for a Single Name Here...Anybody?...
By Brad Friedman on 6/4/2007 1:09pm PT  

For months, supporters of Rep. Rush Holt's Election Reform Bill (HR 811) - from computer scientists such as David Dill and Avi Rubin to extremely powerful advocacy groups such as People for the American Way (PFAW) and VoteTrustUSA --- have been telling critics who believe that Direct Recording Electronic (DRE) touch-screen systems are antithetical to democracy that an amendment to his bill, requiring a ban on such systems, could not be passed by Congress.

They appear to have accepted the talking point as gospel, and thus have argued that any attempt to amend the current bill (and the matching one in the Senate) is a fruitless endeavor, and we should therefore support the bill as is because something is better than nothing.

In the case of PFAW, they've actually been responsible, in no small part, from selling that line to the public.

Never mind that if the many respected Election Integrity advocates and computer scientists repeating that unsubstantiated argument actually announced they would not support any federal Election Reform legislation that failed to include such a ban --- one which most of them have said they'd support (PFAW not included) --- we might actually get such a ban added to the bill.

Nonetheless, despite my best efforts, I have yet to be able to find a single congress member who supports the bill as currently written, without such a ban, who will go on record --- or even admit off-record --- that they would vote against the Election Reform bill if it included a ban on DREs.

I have yet to be able to find one.

Anyone have a name for me? Even just one?

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

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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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Sticker Shock May Force Jurisdictions to Revert to Hand Counted Paper Ballots Next Year...
By Brad Friedman on 12/19/2006 10:05am PT  

If you needed any more evidence to counter the argument that it would be "too expensive" to dump all the shitty, unreliable, inaccurate, hackable, disenfranchising touch-screen (DRE) voting systems in favor of paper ballots, just take a look at Utah. They're the state which pushed out heroic 23-year Emery County Election Clerk Bruce Funk because he had the temerity to allow independent computer security experts to test the Diebold touch-screen systems the state was forcing him to use. (The experts found massive security flaws described as "the most severe" ever discovered.)

Well, now Utah has finally discovered that their switch from punch-cards to shitty, unreliable, inaccurate, hackable, disenfranchising Diebold touch-screen systems has doubled the cost of their elections. And then some. Get a load of this from the Salt-Lake Tribune...

"I'm not sure any of us realized how much it is going to cost to own and operate this system," said Michael Cragun, elections director for the Lieutenant Governor's Office.

Those costs are so prohibitive that many Utahns in next year's local elections will revert to a voting style used for generations: checking a box on a paper ballot.
...
City leaders are worried, having heard rumors they may have to triple their election budget if they go with the touch-screen machines.
...
in August 2005, [Lt. Gov. Gary] Herbert signed a contract with Texas-based Diebold Election Systems for $24.5 million. He paid the tab with a federal grant issued through HAVA.

In return, Utah received about 3,000 voting machines and the technical support to run statewide elections this year and in 2008.

But it is now becoming clear that was just the start of the costs.

"We are not sure everyone understood what happened when they flicked that first domino over," Cragun said.
...
Salt Lake County Clerk Sherrie Swensen says she had to double the pay for poll workers because of the necessary training. She now spends $12,000 per month storing the bulky machines. And all of the memory cards, batteries and other essential machine accessories cost her office an extra $138,000 this year.

These costs will continue to accrue as Swensen and other county clerks say they need more machines for the 2008 presidential election.

Unbelievable. I love how they're running around and saying "we had no idea!"... Idiots.

Have I mentioned lately how important it is that you --- and everybody you know --- sign this petition to demand Congress require a paper BALLOT for every vote cast (and get rid, once and for all, of all the shitty, unreliable, inaccurate, hackable, disenfranchising Direct Recording Electronic touch-screen voting systems in the bargain)?! As they say...Don't wait! ACT NOW!

(Hat-tip John Gideon)

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Campaign to End Use of Electronic DRE Voting Systems Launched by Several Organizations Previously Supportive of Rep. Rush Holt's HR550 Election Reform Bill
Citizens Asked to Join Effort and Send Letter to Their Own Congress Members...
By Brad Friedman on 12/14/2006 2:41pm PT  

Please click here to tell your Congress Members you agree!

More than 35 non-partisan Election Integrity organizations, many of them previously supporters of Rep. Rush Holt's HR550 Election Reform legislation, are launching a campaign today designed to send a clear message to Congress that American Democracy needs nothing less than a paper ballot --- not a "trail" or a "record" --- for every vote cast.

A press release from the groups is now posted here.

VelvetRevolution.us, of which The BRAD BLOG is a co-founder, has worked with a number of other leading national non-partisan Election Integrity organizations --- including VoterAction.org, VotersUnite.org, the National Voting Rights Institute, TrueMajorityAction.org, the Dolores Huerta Foundation --- and many state and local groups to release the following Open Letter this morning...

This is a crucial moment as Congress finally begins to introduce Election Reform legislation that --- we hope --- may go a long way towards correcting so many of the ills plaguing our democracy since the introduction of the horribly flawed Help America Vote Act (HAVA) of 2002.

The BRAD BLOG has reported on, and spoken many times about, the need for a paper ballot for every vote cast. While it won't cure every ill facing our democracy today, it is arguably the most important element needed to ensure eventual reform. The reasons for that need, and the necessity of doing away with all Direct Recording Electronic (DRE) voting systems in the bargain, are plainly summarized in the letter below.

We've also discussed the need here for citizens to rise up and help take their democracy back. Now is the moment for us to make that happen. We ask that all citizens join us by Emailing the following letter to their Congress Members. We've made it simple for you, and ask that you take the matter into your own hands by circulating this address far and wide to help spread the message:

http://www.VelvetRevolut...s/Campaigns/PaperBallots

The time is now...The letter is below...

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

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'Tens of Thousands Encountered Voting Machine Failures, Confusion over New ID Rules,' Reports Paper...
By Brad Friedman on 11/26/2006 2:35pm PT  

The New York Times' Ian Urbina (this time with Christopher Drew) continues to stay on point with his Electoral Failures coverage at the Grey Lady. Unlike Urbina's last report, this time he wasn't undermined by the Times headline writers. (Does anyone with a hard copy of the paper know what page this was reported on, btw?)

To his additional credit, he didn't use the word "glitch" even once. Thank you, Ian. Here are a few highlights from his piece in today's paper...

After six years of technological research, more than $4 billion spent by Washington on new machinery and a widespread overhaul of the nation’s voting system, this month’s midterm election revealed that the country is still far from able to ensure that every vote counts.

Tens of thousands of voters, scattered across more than 25 states, encountered serious problems at the polls, including failures in sophisticated new voting machines and confusion over new identification rules, according to interviews with election experts and officials.

Of course, BRAD BLOG readers will remember our desperate call for "Emergency Paper Ballots" here in the weeks prior to the election. On that, Urbina reports...

In many places, the difficulties led to shortages of substitute paper ballots and long lines that caused many voters to leave without casting ballots.

Wow. Who could have predicted that?!

And there's more...Of course, the "experts" (word used very cautiously!) are beginning to notice that things on Nov. 7th were worse than they had originally understood. "Voting problems may actually have been wider than initially estimated, with many malfunctions simply overlooked," reports the Times.

So how bad were they? How about 60,000 missing votes in Florida, bad. 20,000 voters who couldn't vote in Colorado, bad. Or in Arkansas, where "election officials tallied votes three times in one county, and each time the number of ballots cast changed by more than 30,000," bad.

And then there's the erstwhile election "expert" Doug Chapin of Electionline.org whose "expert" opinion ensures his presence in just about any mainstream media coverage of these matters. Mr. Chapin continues, on schedule, working all sides of the street in Urbina's piece. It's a tricky juggling act for this "expert" --- mustn't offend the Voting Machine Companies or the Elections Officials who pay his bills, or even, to a lesser extent, the Election Integrity advocates who might just call him a phony if he's not careful --- but, as John Gideon pointed out in yesterday's DVN, even Chapin's having a difficult time avoiding the obvious:

"If the success of an election is to be measured according to whether each voter’s voice is heard, then we would have to conclude that this past election was not entirely a success," said Doug Chapin, director of Electionline.org, a nonpartisan election group that plans to release a report Wednesday with a state-by-state assessment of voting. "In places where the margin of victory was bigger than the margin of error, we looked away from the problems, but in 2008 we might not have that luxury."

And the award for "Understatment of the Year" goes to...

UPDATE 9:01pm PT: Reader Adele writes to tell us that Urbina's article was on "page 30 of 36 pages in the National section" of today's paper.

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Several Undecided Races Might Have Been Decided by the Number of Voters (Who Should Have Been Allowed to Vote on Paper) Unable to Wait for Voting Machines at One Precinct Alone...
By Brad Friedman on 11/16/2006 1:27pm PT  

Add the Monterey County, California, Acting Registrar of Voters, Claudio Valenzuela, to our ever-growing list of Elections Officials who ought to resign immediately in the wake of extraordinary failures to assure that every legally registered voter who chooses to vote actually gets to vote, and then gets to have that vote counted accurately.

Valenzuela --- who recently replaced the corrupt former Registrar Tony "Trust Me" Anchundo after he was charged with 43 criminal counts --- incredibly instructed poll workers not to give paper ballots to voters despite an order from the Secretary of State prior to the election that any CA voter who wishes to vote on paper may have one --- and despite lines of more than an hour for voters due to problems with the county's crappy new Sequoia electronic touch-screen voting machines.

As smartly reported by the Monterey Weekly today, poll watcher Susan Sisson recounts the story of dozens of voters giving up and leaving without casting a vote in her one precinct alone after she was reprimanded for reminding poll workers that they could/should give a paper ballot to those who wanted them, or those who couldn't afford to wait in line for hours on end.

Despite at least four still-undecided races in Monterey, where one candidate leads by anywhere from 47 to just 14 votes --- few enough that those voters who couldn't afford to wait in long lines for the machines, but could have voted on paper and made the difference in those races at Sisson's precinct alone! --- Valenzuela stands by his horrendous anti-democracy directive to poll workers:

"We did what we could," Valenzuela says. "We trained all of our workers, we gave them what they needed, and they deserve credit for their hard work. Nobody was denied the right to vote. Nobody. If you walked out because you were tired and didn’t want to wait, that was your choice. We can’t do anything about that."

The folks in Monterey ought to be up in arms about this jerk. Should be storming the County Board out there and demanding accountability and this guy's resignation.

Read the full article. It's just amazing what's going on in our electoral system. But it won't change until citizens on the ground demand that it does!

Let's hope the incoming Secretary of State, Debra Bowen, busts some asses about this sort of thing where the failed, disgraced, outgoing SoS, Bruce McPherson, clearly didn't give a damn.

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Election Attorney Paul Lehto Blames Registrar Mikel Haas's Administration of Election, Refusal to Properly Count Paper Ballots for Discrepancy
Says, 'Abuse of Discretion' Improperly Delayed Count of Paper Ballots, Creates 'Second Class Ballots, Voters'
By Brad Friedman on 11/10/2006 12:43pm PT  

This just in from attorney Paul Lehto concerning the People's Republic of San Diego, where one of the country's most irresponsible Registrar of Voters, Mikel Haas, defied the California Secretary of State by refusing to count paper ballots as "normal ballots" on Election Night.

Lehto says Exit Polling data commissioned from Zogby International shows a '6-Point Distortion' from the "results" as so far announced by Haas's office in the Francine Busby/Brian Bilbray U.S. House election in California's 50th Congressional district.

The complete results of the Zogby polling is available for download here [PDF].

NOTE: Busby (D) has appropriately refused to concede the race against her opponent Bilbray (R) until all votes have been properly counted. As of this moment, the San Diego County Registrar's website shows "100%" of precincts reporting despite thousands of uncounted paper ballots, absentee ballots and provisional ballots. Those "results" show Bilbray leading Busby 53% to 43%.

In fact, however, given Haas's defiance of the California Secretary of State's order to provide an adequate number of paper ballots for all voters who, in California, may vote by paper for any reason if they wish, coupled with his irresonsible --- and likely illegal --- decision to send all of the county's pre-programmed, election-ready, hackable Diebold touch-screen voting systems home on "sleepovers" with pollworkers for a full three weeks prior to the election, it is literally impossible for there to be any confidence in any of the reported "results" as announced for any election this year in San Diego. The county's elections are now officially and wholly corrupted by Haas's abominable and disgraceful election administration, fed by his apparent loathing of voters and democracy.

ALSO NOTE: The VelvetRevolution.us Election Strike Force, of which The BRAD BLOG is a co-founder, contributed to the funding of this Zogby poll. Please consider donating to VR in support of such efforts!

Lehto's press release follows in full...

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - NOVEMBER 10, 2006
Contact: Paul Lehto, Esq., 425.422.1387

CA 50 EXIT POLL ESTIMATES 6-POINT DISTORTION ENABLED BY REGISTRAR’S ABUSE OF DISCRETION

Haas’ Decision To Delay Paper Ballot Count
Artificially Inflates Votes For Republican

November 10, 2006 San Diego, CA – Attorney Paul Lehto, a national expert on election integrity, today released the results of an independent Zogby exit poll of voters in the November 7 election in California’s 50th District. The exit poll shows the race much tighter than the results published by the San Diego Registrar of Voters as of the day after the election, six percentage points closer. Moreover, after adjustment for an oversampling of Bilbray voters, the adjusted poll shows Democrat Francine Busby well within the margin of error, making the race uncertain in actual outcome. Paper based votes yet to be counted favor Francine Busby, such as paper ballots obtained at the polls, which constitute 6.4% of all voters and favor Busby 58% to 39%.

The poll also contains important findings about the relationship between different forms of voting and voter demographics, revealing a tendency for Democrats to use paper ballots versus other forms of voting such as electronic machines. In violation of state and federal law, and despite lawsuits filed to stop the process, San Diego Registrar of Voters Mikel Haas delayed the paper ballot count for paper ballots obtained at the polls by fully qualified voters, preferring to have other forms of ballots have been counted preferentially first, attempting to justify this second class service to paper-based voters by stating “this is an electronic election” when in fact the public is legally allowed a choice of either technology.

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

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