Republican Party efforts to stop thousands of voters from casting meaningful ballots in 2008 because their registration information does not match government databases with high error rates was set back by legal rulings in Wisconsin, Ohio and Nevada on Thursday.
In Wisconsin, a judge threw out a lawsuit by the state Attorney General, who also is the McCain campaign co-chair. In Ohio and Nevada, each state's top election official issued an order or opinion rejecting such 'no-match' voter challenges.
While Republican officials criticized these moves, it appears that momentum is building against GOP efforts to use ambiguities in voter registration laws to challenge large numbers of 2008 voters...
The website of the Ohio Secretary of State is being set to "static mode" following a recent series of "security breach" attempts, as well as suspicious packages and a number of death threats sent to the office, according to a press release issued late this afternoon. (Posted in full at end of this article.)
The threats against Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner's office come in the wake of a rash of recent burglaries and vandalism at ACORN offices in Massachusetts and Seattle, as well as death threats delivered to a number of their workers following much-hyped media reports of "voter fraud" by the community organization. The attacks against the group escalated following the Republican Presidential nominee John McCain's comments about ACORN "voter fraud" at a recent rally, and his extraordinary allegation that ACORN was "on the verge of maybe perpetrating one of the greatest frauds in voter history in this country, maybe destroying the fabric of democracy" at last week's Presidential debate.
Notably, there has been no actual evidence of any such "voter fraud" by ACORN, simply allegations by many on the right.
The recent threats against Brunner and her office follow on criticism from state Republicans, who have launched a number of legal suits against her during the final weeks leading up to this November's election...
See below for a rather breathtaking "Round-up of Problems Facing Voters Nationwide", such as registration backlogs, illegal voting roll purges, deceptive practices and dirty tricks, etc., now plaguing American voters across the country with just 17 days left before our country's biggest election ever.
All of that, while Fox "News" (whose asked me to come on live tomorrow, Sunday, at 2:40pm PT, btw, along with my old friend John Fund "for balance") continues to misreport, alarm and deceive their viewers in regard to the GOP's phony ACORN "voter fraud" fraud. Unfortunately, it's not just Fox who is irresponsibly and dangerously misreporting that scam --- though they seem to have made a small cottage industry out of it of late --- CNN and MSNBC have been filed loads of equally inaccurate and misleading reports on it as well.
Fox "News" and its Rupert Murdoch-owned print brethren, the New York Post, continue to bang the GOP's phony ACORN "voter fraud" drum, but as far as I can tell, they've failed to come up with a single incident of any actual voter fraud committed by the dastardly "left-wing extremists."
Yes, Ann Coulter has committed felony voter fraud, but neither of the Murdoch outfits has yet to note that point, even while they go wall-to-wall with misleading reports claiming that ACORN is committing massive "voter fraud" on behalf of the Democrats.
Those who wish to believe in the hoax, however, attempt to link to article after article about allegations of voter fraud carried out by ACORN. And yet, the articles themselves --- if one bothers to actually read them --- reveal that either 1) They describe allegations and investigations brought by Republican agents, with little or no evidence of any wrong doing, and certainly no "voter fraud," 2) Where voter registration fraud has occurred it has been by rogue ACORN employees, originally reported to authorities by ACORN themselves (who are the actual victims of any such fraud by their employees), or 3) Smoke and mirrors are used to cloud the fact that not a single fraudulent vote has actually been cast by anyone.
Let's take a look at just two recent, oft-linked, oft-quoted New York Post articles from today and last week to give you an idea of how the scam works, and how the rightwing suckers fall for it. Every time...
The GOP's October "Surprise" continues...Even as it's no surprise at all that they are hoping to cause absolute bedlam at the polls. They are off to a good start, as the Democrats seem to be caught flat-footed, despite years of warnings about all of this.
COLUMBUS, Ohio - Law enforcement officials in southwest Ohio are seeking information on hundreds of voters who registered and voted during Ohio's weeklong same-day voting window.
Greene County Sheriff Gene Fischer and representatives of County Prosecutor Stephen Haller have contacted the local Board of Elections asking for the voter registration cards of everyone who voted during the six-day window, which ended Monday.
Haller is the former law partner of Mike DeWine, the former Republican senator who is chairing presidential nominee John McCain's Ohio campaign.
[Update: In an updated version of the AP report quoted above, it's noted that Sheriff Fisher is "a Republican," that Green County is "rich with Democrat-leaning college students," and that Fisher requested the voter information after "he had been inundated with phone calls from people concerned about possible fraud." In other words, no actual evidence of anything, just angry Republicans, fired up by chasing their own tails after Fox/RNC told them too. Smelling the rats here, yet?]
Of course, the GOP's ACORN "Voter Fraud" Scam was picked up today by John McCain on the stump (and, mercilessly, on Fox "News" all morning, naturally). Here's McCain putting the scare tactics first, and democracy and country second, if even that high on his list. Here's the shameful video...
We've been reporting on the GOP's October "Surprise" over the last few days (challenges to Democratic voter registrations in a number of states, and, perhaps more notably, their bogus PR campaign to charge that ACORN, a community organization that heroically registers millions of low-income voters who nobody else bothers to, is committing "voter fraud." See here, here and here, for example.)
But the November Surprise, as we've been trying to warn for many months (if not years), will undoubtedly be the thousands who show up to the polls to vote on November 4th, only to find out that they have somehow "fallen off" the voter rolls.
We've urged folks to check their registrations, even if they recently voted in a primary election, to make sure they haven't been purged (info on how to do that quickly in all 50 states, right here).
Today, the New York Times has published a scathing report, based on a detailed investigation revealing that "Tens of thousands of eligible voters in at least six swing states have been removed from the rolls or have been blocked from registering in ways that appear to violate federal law."
The RNC isn't even trying to pretend like they are independent from their media arm, Fox "News", anymore, apparently.
Here's today's RNC press release. It's, quite literally, a transcript of this morning's Fox & Friends, wherein the FNC/RNC clowns "report" on yesterday's PR stunt/raid on a Las Vegas ACORN office and then, for good measure, prime the pump for yet another similar raid in Missouri (another swing state, go figure.) Needless to say, it's utter stuff and nonsense, with zero evidence of "criminality" by ACORN --- as explained in our coverage yesterday, all civic organizations are required by law to turn over ANY signed voter registration applications even when they are known to have problems -- and includes plenty of unsubstantiated hearsay and garbage, as if it were actually fact. So, naturally, it's been released as a press release by the RNC, as is.
Unless they find that yesterday's PR stunt in NV has blown up on them (and it might, as folks, even some in the corporate media, are beginning to understand what a desperate scam this GOP "voter fraud" hoax really is) we'll expect a similar stunt or two, akin to the one in Vegas, soon in MO, OH, and anywhere the GOP feels they need a phony reason to challenge elections, intimidate voters, and otherwise cause havoc at the polls before, during and even after Election Day.
Earlier today, I was reminded that similar nonsense occurred just days prior to the 2004 Presidential Election, when the wingnuts falsely reported that ACORN had registered a terrorist to vote in Ohio. And, of course, the DoJ famously violated it's own written rules when it brought similar "voter fraud" charges against ACORN workers just days before the '06 election.
Why do these people hate democracy? Oh, yeah, because if legal voters are actually allowed to vote, and to have their vote counted accurately, the Republicans will lose. At least this year. So, let's hear it one more time for modern-day Republican Deity Paul Weyrich who sent out this year's marching orders some 28 years ago (the video is 40 seconds, but it should tell you just about all you need to know)...
It shouldn't be necessary --- at least if we had a corporate media which did their Constitutionally-protected jobs --- but since ACORN doesn't have the budget of FNC/RNC, here's an ACORN press statement, issued late this afternoon, concerning the bogus Vegas raid/PR stunt yesterday...
There were a few more technical/geek-ish items that I didn't include in the version that ran over there, thinking they were more appropriate for the real tech and election integrity geeks (like me) out there. Those issues are now published in a much shorter Q&A running today at ComputerWorld.
In these previously unpublished exchanges, posted to CW this morning, Brunner offers some insider detail about her recent lawsuit against Diebold/Premier, concerning the revelation that their tabulators simply drop thousands of votes without notice; the depth of her surprise at the results of her landmark "EVEREST" security tests of Ohio's e-voting machines; and what may lie beyond e-voting, such as the possibility of hand-counting in Ohio.
The BRAD BLOG covers your electoral system, fiercely and independently, as no other media outlet in the nation does. Please support our work with a donation to help us keep going. If you like, we'll send you some great election integrity documentary films in return. Details on that right here...
The dirty tricks are starting even earlier than usual this year. According to the Philadelphia Daily News, "An anonymous flier circulating in African-American neighborhoods in North and West Philadelphia states that voters who are facing outstanding arrest warrants or who have unpaid traffic tickets may be arrested at the polls on Election Day."
The Daily News goes on to note that "Deputy Mayor for Public Safety Everett Gillison, who learned of the flier last week, said that the message is completely false."
Here's the misleading, dirty tricks flier...
The information seen above is an old, and venerable trick meant to scare Democrats, usually African-Americans, away from the the voting booth. We'll likely see much more of it --- and the variation of it, fliers that "inform" voters that Democrats are supposed to vote on Wednesday --- between now and November 4th.
A few similar dirty tricks fliers that were circulated in 2004, in Wisconsin and Ohio, are reposted below as a reminder...
By the our count, at least twelve Ohio counties have split the presidential contest over two columns on their paper ballots for this November's election. This "column split" often confuses voters and results in double voting in the presidential race and an uncounted vote. Today the Brennan Center urged election officials and advocates in Ohio to make sure that voters are aware of the split, and to make sure they vote only once for president.
As a quick glance will show, it's no surprise that many voters cast two votes for president when the contest is listed across two separate columns
A sample of the split ballot follows below, and looks like it could result in a lot of spoiled ballots from overvotes, and folks writing in their choice for President in addition to filling in the bubble on the first column. More details from Larry Norden at the Brennan Center here...
[Ed Note: Cliff Arnebeck, the Ohio attorney representing the plaintiffs in the case discussed below, will be joining me Wednesday evening to talk about the case, when I sit in to Guest Host The Mike Malloy Show, which I'll be doing Wed-Fri this week, from 9p-Midnight ET (6p-9p PT) - BF]
A recent flurry of activity in the long-standing King Lincoln v. OH Sec. of State lawsuit concerning voting rights violations in the state during the 2004 election has resulted in the judge lifting the stay to allow depositions to be taken of key GOP tech-guru Mike Connell, and potentially others, such as Karl Rove.
A subpoena has now been served to Connell, who was recently described by the attorneys working on the case, as a 'high-IQ Forrest Gump...at the scene of every GOP crime.'
Federal District Court Judge Algenon Marbley's brief order [PDF], agreeing to lift the stay, was quietly issued on September 19th. It reads:
On motion of the plaintiffs and agreement of the defendant Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner, the stay in this matter is lifted for the sole purpose of permitting the plaintiffs to take the deposition of Michael Connell and any other witnesses whose testimony, in the judgment of these parties, may be warranted based upon the deposition of Michael Connell.
The BRAD BLOG had learned about the latest court action, which could soon entangle Rove as well, some time ago, but we were asked by parties involved in the case to embargo the information until such time as they were able to serve Connell with his subpoena...
As you'll note by the increase in items in John Gideon's Daily Voting News, coverage of election concerns is again reaching a fevered pitch. When it comes to election machines, most of those reports come far too late to effect any real change (other than perhaps to help encourage election officials to ensure there will be plenty of paper ballots on hand, to make sure they tell voters and poll workers about them, and then to finally count those damned ballots!)
It's clear, however, that while most election officials likely do their job honestly, there are a great number of them around the country who have little interest in voters --- certain voters --- being allowed to excercise their franchise at all.
While there is little time to do much about the machines, as they prepare to melt down, there is still time do something on the front-end voter suppression issues. Yet sadly, despite a few spotty efforts around the country, it seems those parties that do have an interest in voters actually voting (such as Obama and the DNC) have little clue about what they are facing. At least from what I've been able to learn about coordinated plans --- or lack thereof --- to combat the Republican assault on voting.
And, all the while, as Democrats dither, the well-coordinated Republican War on Democracy continues apace around the country, with new and disturbing reports coming out almost by the hour, revealing the national extent of the GOP's anti-democracy campaign.
The effort, by a number of election officials in so-called "swing states" around the country, meant to keep Democratic-leaning voters, such as students and minorities, from casting votes this year, is remarkable and growing. It is, of course, also appalling...
I sat down with Ohio's Secretary of State, Jennifer Brunner, for an exclusive, detailed, one-on-one interview while in Denver at the Democratic National Convention a few weeks ago. We chatted for nearly an hour and a half in what was the first opportunity we'd had to speak, in detail, since my interview with her last December, following the release of Ohio's landmark "EVEREST" testing of e-voting systems finding "critical security failures" on virtually all fronts.
We covered a lot of interesting, and even newsworthy topics in our recent discussion, just published at AlterNet, as the Buckeye State barrels towards either redemption or disaster in the 2008 election. In my Q&A with the Secretary of State we discuss, among other things:
Challenges and surprises she's faced since becoming SoS in 2007, even by constituencies one might think would otherwise be supportive of her;
Concerns about her tie-breaking decision to move Cuyahoga County (Cleveland) to an all paper ballot system, just 73 days before the state's primary election last March;
Directives she's issued (and will be issueing) for this year's general election, such as requiring counties to inform all voters that they may vote on paper ballots; that there must be two lines created at polling places --- one for those who wish to vote on paper, and another for those who prefer to vote on touch-screen; the end of voting machine "sleepovers" at poll workers' houses prior to elections, and other new security requirements;
Whether or not there has ever been any accountability for so much that went wrong in 2004 in places like Warren County, where press and public were famously locked out of the counting room on Election Night, or in Knox County, where the last vote was not cast at Kenyon College until 4am on the morning following Election Day;
Concerns about student access to polling places this year, and steps being taken to try to help assure it;
Whether citizens may use video cameras in the polling place to document what may go on there this year;
And beyond all of that: Will Ohio be ready for whatever may come this November, and will it be the Buckeye State again in 2008, or the "blackeye" state that it became in 2004?
As you'll see, Brunner seems to feel confident that Ohio "will be ready" this year, even as the challenges sure to come will be monumental. Of course, I hope she's right. Undoubtedly, as I hope you'll agree after reading the piece, the voters of the state --- of all parties --- are surely in far better hands than they were with the criminal J. Kenneth Blackwell (former SoS, co-chair of Bush/Cheney '04) at the helm four years ago. Still, there are many reasons for worry, and I do my best, in the interview, to ask tough questions and push for answers where I can.
As noted in my intro to the Q&A over there, we also discussed a number of more complicated issues, better suited for technical/computer/election junkies (such as myself, and perhaps readers of The BRAD BLOG.) I'll be running the shorter, geekier portions of our interview, in which we discussed lawsuits with Diebold, the future of e-voting and the possibility of hand-counting in Ohio, elsewhere shortly. [Update 10/8/08: That portion of the interview now published at ComputerWorld here...]