A lot of voting zeitgeist in the media of late. What took ya so long, folks? Wanted to wait until it was largely too damned late to do anything about it? Same story. New year.
In any case, on the road to Denver right now, so time enough only to round up some of the most notable must-reads on everything from: The GOP "voter fraud" scam growing in intensity between here and November (a theme I'll also be discussing in my column for the UK's Guardian this week); Election officials finally acknowledging their machines don't work, but remaining unwilling to correctly place the blame or otherwise do much about it; Faint glimmers of actual improvement at the previously dreadful U.S. Elections Assistance Commission (EAC); A bit of news from the "Rove Cybergate" election fraud case in OH, and; The one phrase you'll want to get very well familiar with between here and November 2 (hint: my name is in it, but it has nothing to do with me.)
The New York Times has again given a platform to the voting machine vendors to voice their displeasure with a system that is forcing them to actually provide voting systems that are fully tested and certified. The vendors, and some election officials, seem to want to continue the old system of poorly tested and rubber-stamped voting systems counting our votes.
In his article, Ian Urbina, quotes Jennifer Brunner, who says:
“We need the federal oversight to create consistent standards and to hold the manufacturers to a certain level of quality, but we also have to be able to get the equipment when we need it. Right now, that equipment is not coming, and we’re left making contingency plans.”
If Brunner expects high quality and consistent standards, all she needs to do is look to the vendors and question them on why they put out a product that fails in testing. Her state's recent countersuit of Premier/Diebold was a start, but why did she wait until she was sued by the vendor before taking that step? As we asked recently, why did she ignore the pleadings of Election Integrity Attorneys and computer scientists who counseled her to file a suit against Premier/Diebold for breach of contract for so long?
Brunner also needs to question the National Association of State Election Directors (NASED) qualification system (most often referred to as "federal certification" by most officials and vendors) and those involved in the process as to why they allowed non-compliant voting systems to be given their stamp of approval on behalf of the federal government in the first place. If the so-called federal Independent Test Authorities and NASED had done their jobs prior to 2007, the machines used in Ohio and the rest of the nation would not now be constantly failing, and the voters would have far more confidence in the electoral system.
Doug Chapin of the Pew Center project electionline.org must have just come from last week's Election Center conference, where election officials and vendor representatives gather and talk about issues of importance to the lucrative American Voting Industry. He is quoted in the Times with this remarkable comment...
If I lived in Butler Co Ohio I would be very concerned about whether my vote was going to be counted this November. If you recall Butler Co uses Diebold/Premier DREs and in the March primary and April recount over 200 votes nearly went uncounted. The cause of the problem proved to be a conflict between the voting system software and anti-virus software. Rather than take action against Diebold/Premier, as recommended by Election Integrity attorneys, the state sat back until the vendor sued them and nearly forced the state to counter-sue. But the county, and many others in the state, will be using the same voting system with the same software in November.
Diebold/Premier claims to have a software patch but also claims it will be years before they can use it because it has to have federal approval. Meanwhile, Secretary of State spokesman Kevin Kidder says, "We've never lost a vote because of the problems we cite in the counterclaim because election officials have caught them. We can't prevent it. We can only catch the problem and correct it."
As good as election officials may be they cannot and will not catch everything and when they don’t find a problem it means votes are lost or incorrectly tabulated. The solution should have been to force the counties involved to go to paper based systems. It’s too late for that now...
For over two years Election Integrity attorneys have been urging the state of Ohio to file suit against Diebold/Premier, ES&S, and Hart for failure to meet their contractual obligations with the state. The Secretary of State ignored that urging. It was only after Diebold/Premier filed suit against the state that the state took action in a countersuit. Rather than being courageous plaintiffs in this case, the state is a defendant and Diebold/Premier chose the most favorable court to hear the case. If the state had done the right thing two years ago they very well may have had the funds to have gotten rid of all Diebold DREs in the state for this November. Instead counties are still at the mercy of Diebold and their flawed voting systems. And remember, it may be Diebold/Premier in this case but the other vendors play the same game in different ball parks. They are all complicit. For more on this issue see HERE....
Today Jennifer Brunner, the Ohio Secretary of State, announced that she has filed a counterclaim in a lawsuit with Premier (Diebold) Election Solutions. The counterclaim asks for damages, including punitive damages, against the vendor for voting machine malfunctions and for the company’s claims that warranties on equipment have expired. Brunner is arguing that problems with the voting systems caused votes to be “dropped” when memory cards were uploaded to the server. There is evidence that this happened in at least 11 of the 43 counties that used Diebold DREs in past elections. The company, apparently, agrees there was a problem, as they issued a product advisory on this problem in May. One question is outstanding now: How many counties in how many states had the same problem and never realized it? It’s time to cut our loses and get rid of those damn machines....
So we learned last week that new information concerning Republican high-tech guru Mike Connell's alleged participation in computer-aided fraud from Florida to Ohio to the Swiftboaters to RNC headquarters to Congress has helped lead Ohio attorney Cliff Arnebeck to reignite a long-standing federal lawsuit concerning Ohio's 2004 Presidential Election.
We learned this week that Connell may have been threatened by Karl Rove should the GOP's "high IQ Forrest Gump" --- so described for his uncanny ability to be found "at the scene of every [GOP] crime" --- fail to "take the fall" for election fraud in Ohio, according to a letter sent by Arnebeck to AG Michael Mukasey asking for Connell's protection.
The following clip (appx 6:45 mins) from the new documentary film, FREE FOR ALL! (downloadable in full, free for all, at www.freeforall.tv) by filmmaker John Ennis, gives us a small taste of who Connell is, and how he fits into the big picture.
BRAD BLOG readers will likely recognize a few faces here. Please enjoy...
Ohio Attorney Cliff Arnebeck, who notified Attorney General Mukasey yesterday about threats made by Karl Rove against the GOP's high-tech guru, Mike Connell, as we reported last night, will join Peter B. Collins and me during my weekly Friday 5pm PT appearance on PBC's syndicated radio show.
You'll be able to listen online at www.PeterBCollins.com if his show is not aired in your town. And you may call in with questions and comments for Arnebeck or myself at 888-5-PeterB (or post them here, and I'll try to ask them). Hope you'll tune in!
POST-SHOW UPDATE: Arnebeck joined us for the first half-hour of the show and dropped a few interesting details during our discussion. Among them: 1) Bush can't pardon someone convicted under a civil RICO case, which is what Arnebeck is compiling. (Also, can't remember if it came up during the interview, but as some have suggested that Rove simply invoke Executive Privilege to avoid being deposed in this case, Exec Privilege does not come into play in such a case. It only refers to Congressional testimony.) 2) Connell had agreed to meet with the House Judiciary Comm. several months ago, but so far Judiciary hasn't followed up. 3) Arnebeck makes a tantalizing reference to the finding in the Paula Jones case that sitting Presidents may be deposed in civil cases. More detail on those points and others in the audio interview. Download MP3 or listen online here...
Karl Rove has threatened a GOP high-tech guru and his wife, if he does not "'take the fall' for election fraud in Ohio," according to a letter sent this morning to Attorney General Michael Mukasey, by Ohio election attorney Cliff Arnebeck.
The email, posted in full below, details threats against Mike Connell of the Republican firm New Media Communications, which describes itself on its website as "a powerhouse in the field of Republican website development and Internet services" and having "played a strategic role in helping the GOP expand its technological supremacy."
Connell was described in a recent interview with the plaintiff's attorneys in Ohio as a "high IQ Forrest Gump" for his appearance "at the scene of every [GOP] crime" from Florida 2000 to Ohio 2004 to the RNC email system to the installation of the currently-used Congressional computer network firewall.
Connell and his firm are currently employed by the John McCain campaign, as well as the RNC and other Republican and so-called "faith-based" organizations.
In a phone call this afternoon, Arnebeck could not publicly reveal specific details of the information that triggered his concern about the threats to Connell. The message to the IT man from Rove is said to have been sent via a go-between in Ohio. That information led Arnebeck to contact Mukasey after he found the reports to be credible and troubling.
"If there's a credible threat, which I regard this to be," he told The BRAD BLOG, "I have a professional duty to report it."
Attempts to reach Connell for comment late this afternoon were not successful.
The motion was made following the discovery of new information, including details from a Republican data security expert, leading Arnebeck towards seeking depositions of Rove, Connell, and other GOP operatives believed to have participated in the gaming of election results in 2004. A letter [PDF] was sent to Mukasey at the same time last week, asking him to retain email and other documents from Rove...
As we broke earlier this week, after previous snubs and threats of subpoenas, Ohio's disgracefully-partisan former Sec. of State J. Kenneth Blackwell was finally set to testify to the House Judiciary Committee today (as well as another legendary GOP vote suppressor, former FEC chair and DoJ Voting Rights Division gamer, Hans von Spakovsky.)
After a late start, and a then a blackout of the Judiciary Committee's webcast feed just after Blackwell began his opening statement ("Thank you Mr. Chairman..." and then suddenly the feed went out), things picked up again during the opening statement of GOP propagandist/attorney Cleta Mitchell who went on and on about the same old nonsense concerning "voter fraud" via voter registration applications submitted by ACORN, the GOP's old "voter fraud" strawman...
The U.S. House Judiciary Committee's subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties will be holding a hearing this Thursday on "Lessons Learned from the 2004 Presidential Election."
Though no press release has yet been sent out by the Committee, and the link to the hearing's page at the Judiciary website is currently broken, The BRAD BLOG has both good news and bad news to report here.
The good news: Ohio's former Sec. of State J. Kenneth Blackwell has been invited to testify and has confirmed that he will actually show up this time, according to several Judiciary sources. Blackwell had previously snubbed the committee's earlier invitation to testify back in February about the myriad crimes that were committed on and by his watch in the 2004 Presidential Election.
Following his last refusal to appear --- when he responded to the committee claiming "my schedule will not permit me to attend the hearings" --- Judiciary Committee spokesperson Jonathon Godfrey hinted that a subpoena might be forthcoming if Blackwell continued to refuse to appear. This time, at least as of today, it looks like he's coming, according to confirmation by Godfrey this afternoon. Thus guaranteeing what should be a very lively hearing.
More good news: Shameless GOP "voter fraud" zealot and disgraced former FEC chair Hans Von Spakovsky will also be appearing. By invitation of the Republicans on the committee, amusingly enough. What were they thinking in inviting this embarrassment? Beats us, but we're happy to hear he'll be back on the Congressional hot seat. Thanks Repubs!
'Whether He's Pulling the Gun or Not...He's the Guy Who Made the Gun,' Allege Buckeye Lawyers About Man Said to Have Been Behind Florida 2000, Ohio 2004, RNC Emails, Congressional Computer Networks, & More...
Last week Ohio Attorney Cliff Arnebeck held a press conference in Columbus to announce his motion to lift the stay on the long-running King Lincoln Bronzeville v. Blackwell lawsuit in which massive improprieties, irregularities, and violations of the Voting Rights Act are alleged to have taken place in the 2004 Presidential Election in Ohio.
In the wake of the failure by the Buckeye State's Attorney General to properly investigate the allegations, and new evidence and testimony unearthed by Arnebeck and other private investigators, he is now asking that the stay on the lawsuit be lifted by the court in order to refocus the case and depose Karl Rove, and a number of other top GOP operatives believed to be involved in manipulating the results of the '04 election.
One of those operatives is Republican tech-guru Mike Connell.
Steve Heller covered last week's press conference for us, which featured comments from data security expert Stephen Spoonamore alleging fraud in the '04 election and Arnebeck's assertion that he believes "Rove will be identified as having engaged in a corrupt, ongoing pattern of corrupt activities specifically affecting the situation here in Ohio."
After last week's presser, Velvet Revolution's Brett Kimberlin sat down to follow up with Arnebeck and attorney/investigative journalist Bob Fitrakis, who participated in both the original '04 election lawsuits and has reported in detail on the related matters continuously since then at the Columbus Free Press.
In the video-taped interview, posted at right (appx. 10 mins), the two attorneys focus specifically on their concerns about GOP operative/IT specialist Connell, who, they allege, has been found to have been "at the scene of the crime" for numerous questionable elections since 2000. Connell's firm was also responsible for creating the RNC email systems used by Karl Rove and others. He is also said to have installed the existing Congressional computer networks for high-security House and Senate committees such as Judiciary and Intelligence.
The complete text transcript of the interview follows below...
Transcript of the 7/17/2008 VelvetRevolution.us Interview
with Cliff Arnebeck and Bob Fitrakis
VELVET REVOLUTION: Cliff and Bob you just had a press conference, talking about the next steps you are going to take in litigation. It looks like you're looking for discovery to understand the facts behind what happened in 2004 and make sure this doesn't happen in 2008. Can you give us an idea of the kinds of people or the names of people that you intend to target?
CLIFF ARNEBECK: At the very top of the list is probably Mike Connell. For the same reason that Spoonamore is so valuable to us as a witness, Connell has a breadth of perspective in this stuff and when Connell, with his politics and his position, identifies Triad and the Rapp family as an area, as a point of vulnerability - Well, we're saying, if Connell makes the same observation --which we think he will because if you look at this objectively, it makes no sense. Here's a guy, he's a mathematician or an engineer or whatever; we anticipate he is going to say "Yeah, that looks odd."
So Connell's an important witness and because we're talking about a conspiracy, one of the problems is you say 'where's the coordination, where's the communication?' --- Here's one individual who's been part of all the elements of the things that we think are problematic.
BOB FITRAKIS: He's a high IQ Forrest Gump. It's like everything important --- 2000 election Florida; 2004 Ohio; firewall in Congress --- he happens to show up and be the builder of these [im]penetrable forces and also may know who has the key to get in.
VR: So he's at the scene of the crime... whether he's pulling the gun or not.
FITRAKIS: Every single crime --- Well even more than that. He's the guy who made the gun.
At a press conference this morning in Columbus, Ohio, Cliff Arnebeck, lead attorney for the plaintiffs in the case of King Lincoln Bronzeville v. Blackwell, announced that he is filing a motion to "lift the stay in the case [and] proceed with targeted discovery in order to help protect the integrity of the 2008 election."
Courtesy of our colleagues at Velvet Revolution, you can watch the entire press conference here, and an interview with Cliff Arnebeck and Bob Fitrakis is here.
Arnebeck will also "be providing copies of document hold notices to the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform and the U.S. Justice Department for Karl Rove emails from the White House."
See PDFs of the hold letter to AG Mukasey here, the hold letter to the U.S. Chamber here, and the motion to lift the stay here.
This case has the potential to put some of the most powerful people in the country in jail, according to Arnebeck, as he was joined by a well-respected, life-long Republican computer security expert who charged that the red flags seen during Ohio's 2004 Presidential Election would have been cause for "a fraud investigation in a bank, but it doesn't when it comes to our vote."
"This entire system is being programmed in secret by programmers who have no oversight by anybody," the expert charged, as Arnebeck detailed allegations of complicity by a number of powerful GOP operatives and companies who had unique access both to the election results as reported in 2004, as well as to U.S. House and Senate computer networks even today.
The presser was attended by some of the corporate-controlled media, including the head of the Ohio AP bureau, the Columbus Dispatch, and IndyMedia. Listening in by phone were ABC News, our friends from RAW STORY, and I, your humble blogger. I recorded the presser, so I have no links for the quotes in this post, but I transcribed them word-for-word and can vouch for their accuracy.
One of the more delightful and interesting quotes comes from Arnebeck, concerning what he expects to discover as the stay is lifted: "[W]e anticipate Mr. Rove will be identified as having engaged in a corrupt, ongoing pattern of corrupt activities specifically affecting the situation here in Ohio."
There is good news for the campaign of Barack Obama in polls from states that are traditionally keys to winning the general election. However, it is too soon to tell if the upticks are indicators of a trend toward Obama or simply "bumps" resulting from his finally clinching the Democratic nomination from Hillary Clinton.
Quinnipiac Polls in Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania released Wednesday indicate that Barack Obama leads John McCain in all three battleground states...
Well, at least Democrats --- in Ohio anyway --- prove they know how impeachment is supposed to work. When it comes to impeaching one of their own anyway. In this case, OH's Democratic AG Marc Dann.
Democrats still know what the word "impeachment" means.
They are willing to use it, at least when it involves going after one of their own.
Holding one's own party accountable is something Republicans might learn from (but won't).
Democrats at the national level would be well-served to remind themselves of their Constitutional responsibility to do the same at the federal level when High Crimes and Misdemeanors have occurred (but won't).
Sex scandals are the Highest Crime and Misdemeanor of them all.
For the record, when Dann was running for Attorney General in '06, he campaigned to Election Integrity folks such as Bob Fitrakis, Cliff Arnebeck, Paddy Shaffer, and others in the Buckeye State that he intended to bring accountability to folks like former SoS J. Kenneth Blackwell and others, for the crimes committed to deliver OH for Bush in '04.
He promised, at the time, "to put whoever were to mess with Ohio elections in jail."
"If necessary," he said, "I could even convene a grand jury to take a look at the 2004 election. And I think that may be something that we may want to look at...to get to the truth about what happened in 2004."
The short video of those promises is at left. Apparently, he was just kidding.
UPDATE: Dann resigns. So, additional lesson here: When impeached for crimes actually committed, the accused tends to resign, rather than fight.
Over two years ago, the U.S. Justice Department filed a lawsuit against New York State to force the state to comply with the federal requirement to equip every polling place with voting systems that are accessible to people with disabilities, as mandated by the Help America Vote Act of 2002 (HAVA).
Meanwhile, the DoJ has taken no action at all to stop any state from using voting equipment that has been proven to violate HAVA’s requirement for accurate vote-counting.
While it's important for every citizen, disabled or not, to be able to vote privately, a private vote is meaningless if that vote is not counted accurately. Despite the equal weight HAVA gave to both important mandates, the federal requirement for accurate vote-counting is being wholly ignored by the states, and even the federal government.
Two recent incidents which have been making headlines --- in New Jersey and Ohio --- illustrate clear, undeniable violations of the federal accuracy requirement. They are impossible to deny or ignore. For the moment, however, federal officials are doing exactly that...