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By Brad Friedman on 5/27/2008 1:29pm PT  

Not really. But it's a damned funny headline. And it's probably accurate "enough" for the New York Times, where accuracy doesn't much matter anymore, apparently.

We'll have some of our own thoughts very soon on Recount, which we much enjoyed over the holiday weekend. Until then, our preview of the new HBO film, filed before we finally got to see it when in premiered Sunday night, is posted here.

But it's worth noting, for the moment, that the New York Times, the disgraced "Paper of Record," even today persists in misreporting the story of the 2000 Florida Election debacle. As Larry Beinhart documents today at Smirking Chimp:

"In 2001 painstaking postmortems of the Florida count, one by The New York Times and another by a consortium of newspapers, concluded that Mr. Bush would have come out slightly ahead, even if all the votes counted throughout the state had been retallied."
-- Alessandra Stanley, New York Times, May 23, 2008 in a review of the HBO television movie, Recount

That's not true.

The New York Times did not do its own recount. It did participate in a consortium. Here's what they actually said:

"If all the ballots had been reviewed under any of seven single standards, and combined with the results of an examination of overvotes, Mr. Gore would have won, by a very narrow margin."
-- Ford Fessenden And John M. Broder, New York Times, November 12, 2001

Why did Ms. Stanley make such an important and fundamental error?

It is not a trivial matter. It is a common piece of misinformation. Many, many people believe it. Now a few more do, as a result of Ms. Stanley's review.

It is not a trivial matter. Because that misinformation was created by one of the most bizarre, and still completely unexplained, journalistic events in modern times.

Here's what happened.

Read Beinhart's piece for the remarkable details in what really is one of the "most bizarre, and still completely unexplained, journalist events in modern times." Unfortunately, he doesn't include links in his coverage (please add them if you can, Larry!), but for the doubters, here's the report [PDF] showing that Al Gore did, in fact, receive more votes in Florida in 2000 than George W. Bush. That, despite the stunningly contrary headlines, as Beinhart shows, from almost every paper that reported on that complete state count. Even the papers who bothered to report --- if you read them closely enough --- that Gore received more votes than Bush, still used inexplicably misleading headlines for the story.

Given the wholly inaccurate claim, as includied in their review of Recount, it would appear that NYTimes is intent on simply ensuring the matter is inaccurately reported forever. We'll remember to keep that, and their year-long front page pre-Iraq War-mongering, in mind next time we're inevitably told by some wingnut on the radio, just how "liberal" the NYTimes is.

Also, it's with no small amount of sadness that we note the passing of legendary producer/director/actor Sydney Pollack who died on Monday at the age of 73.

Pollack had been slated to direct Recount originally, but was forced to bow out due to being diagnosed with cancer last August. He lived, at least, long enough to see Recount premiered on Sunday night on HBO. He had stayed on with the production as Executive Producer.

Given his great sense of humor, we'd like to believe he would well have appreciated the satirical headline above.

Prices now slashed in The BRAD BLOG's 2008 Election Integrity Fund Drive! Please support our continuing coverage of your election system, as found nowhere else. Click here for a number of cool new collector's edition Premium products now available starting at just $5!
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HBO's Retelling of the 2000 Florida Election Debacle on Sunday Raises Interesting Questions about 2008 Certain to be Ignored as Quickly as Possible by the American Corporate Mainstream Media...
By Brad Friedman on 5/23/2008 6:35am PT  

"The recount never really happened," notes Kevin Spacey, correctly, about the 2000 Florida election debacle in his interview Wednesday night on Countdown, in advance of Recount, HBO's theatrical retelling of the nightmare. The film premieres this Sunday.

Some weeks ago, we ran an item which included the theatrical trailer for the film and noted that we've neither seen it, nor been contacted by anybody from the production (they didn't purchase an ad here either, boo hoo) but that they did manage to use our "Stuck in the Middle With You" theme song for the film, curiously enough, as you'll see in the trailer. We'll take it as a compliment, as if we have a choice.

We also noted, with evidence, that Al Gore received more votes than George W. Bush in the state of Florida in 2000, and that seven whistleblowers from the company, Sequoia Voting Systems, who produced the paper ballots for Florida, have come forward to reveal that they were forced by someone to use bad paper on those ballots (only in Florida) against their objections, and to misalign the chads on them (only in Palm Beach County). To this day, other than Dan Rather at HDNet, who originally ran the report, nobody in the corporate media has found that story worthy of following up, or even merely reporting.


But for the third in our countdown of productions with the word "count" in its title, we turn to our friend Mary Mancini, who smartly blogs at the website of the documentary film Uncounted (We're in it, so see FULL DISCLOSURE at end of this article). Mancini notes that Olbermann, during his interview with Spacey (at left, including clip from film), joined so many other journalists who have taken the opportunity of the premiere of HBO's film to miss more than a few good journalistic opportunities...

With all the publicity surrounding this movie, now would be the perfect time for journalists to take the national conversation to the next level and ask the most logical follow up questions:

1) Why wasn’t our electoral process equipped, as Kevin Spacey says in the interview, “to handle margins of victory so small and margins of error so big” in 2000?
2) Are we equipped to do so now?
...
Another great opportunity was lost last night when during the interview Spacey explains the punch-card recount process:

That when you have a margin of victory so small, you have to go to what is called an automatic machine recount and yet, 18 counties, over 1,500,00 votes, didn’t bother to put their ballots back through the machine. They just re-tabulated the memory card, and you always get a different count when you do a machine recount. So, when you kind of realize that, well, that’s ’cause people just couldn’t bother to do it, um, it’s pretty stunning that…that…so..when Baker and Bush kept coming out and saying, “The votes have been counted, and they’ve been counted again, and Gore wants to count them a third time,” they were actually never counted.

No, they weren't. And the Supreme Court demanded that they remain uncounted, so Bush could be named "President."

Only the media and academic consortium who actually did bother to count all of those ballots [PDF] afterwards in Florida would know that Gore received more votes than Bush. Period. Even if they've done a superb job of keeping that little fact to themselves ever since. Whether HBO's Recount tells that truth, we'll have to wait until Sunday to find out.

Following below, for your convenience, are both the HBO trailer for Recount and, once again, the breathtaking Dan Rather report on the gaming of the paper ballots in Florida's 2000 election...

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

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FL Supreme Court Justice: 'What's Wrong With Getting Elections Right?'
FL SoS in Response: 'Why Throw Monkey Wrench Into Outcomes?'
By Brad Friedman on 5/8/2008 2:09pm PT  

"Why in the world would either the Legislature or the secretary of state or anybody object to local elections officials trying to ensure that their system operates as intended and that they get it right?" asked FL Supreme Court Justice Harry Lee Anstead as he crawled out of his cave to officiate at a hearing yesterday in Tallahassee.

The nearly-unheard of voice of reason momentarily reared its lonely head on Wednesday, if perhaps just temporarily, from the Alice in Wonderland rabbit hole down which American elections have almost entirely disappeared.

Anstead was questioning attorneys representing Sarasota's still-unresigned, democracy-hating Election Supervisor Kathy Dent and FL's Sec. of State Kurt Browning. The pair are attempting to nullify the democratic (small "d") citizens' ballot initiative successfully voted in by a majority of Sarasota voters in 2006. The initiative called for improvements in the county's election system --- including paper ballots with post-election audits --- in hopes of offering more accuracy and integrity.

Needless to say, Dent and Browning are against that idea.

The following snippet of yesterday's extraordinary exchange --- including the attorney's remarkable response to Anstead's question --- comes from a Sarasota Herald Tribune report today.

Silly Harry. Clearly he needs to get out more...

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

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PLUS: Time to Watch Dan Rather's Report With the Sequoia Paper Ballot Whistleblowers Again...
By Brad Friedman on 5/1/2008 8:30am PT  

We've never been contacted by the makers of HBO's upcoming Recount film, which promises to be a theatrical re-telling of the 2000 Presidential Election Debacle in Florida. Yet, we'll chalk it up to one helluva/swelluva coincidence, that the preview for the film, as seen below, happens to use The BRAD BLOG's own personal "theme song," Stuck in the Middle With You. Go figure...


HBO's film begins airing May 25, and while we hate to give away the ending, Al Gore won [PDF].

Of course, that's only if one bothers to count all of the ballots actually successfully cast (if not counted) in the state of Florida, as a media and academic consortium did, as seen at the link above, revealing that by every possible chad-counting standard (hanging, pregnant, swinging, etc.) Al Gore received more votes than George W. Bush. Period.

That might help to explain why Bush had to go to his friends on the Supreme Court to get them not to allow the ballots to be counted, in one of the most remarkably liberal acts of judicial activism, undercutting states' rights, in the history of this nation.

But we're guessing the film has that other, less accurate ending, implying that Bush actual "won" Florida (which he didn't).

In either case, since the myths of the FL 2000 election are likely to be re-debated afresh with the release of HBO's film, we wanted to a) Offer the link above (showing that Gore received more votes in FL than Bush) and b) Remind you, and the entirety of the corporate mainstream media, which ignored it when the following report first aired, that the chads on those ballots in Florida hung for a reason. As 7 former employees of Sequoia Voting Systems, the company which produced FL's paper ballots in 2000, attest on-camera, they were forced by company superiors to use inferior paper for those ballots, only the ones going to Florida, and were further ordered to misalign the chads on those paper ballots, but only for those going to Dem stronghold Palm Beach County.

That, after decades of producing ballots which never featured a hanging chad.

If you've yet to see it, here's the mind-blowing section of Dan Rather's remarkable HDNet report which aired last summer, but was picked up by absolutely nobody in the CMSM thereafter. If you can't watch the following, the transcript is posted here. But if you've not seen this one yet, please prepare to be amazed, and appalled...

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

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Yes, we said 'liar.' And if you hadn't known that already, here's even more hard evidence...
By Brad Friedman on 4/30/2008 11:10am PT  


On Election Day in 2006, in Sarasota County's 13th U.S. Congressional district race, some 18,000 votes cast on ES&S iVotronic touch-screen systems failed to register a vote for either candidate on the ballot. It was an extraordinarily high undervote rate, which has never been explained, in an election outcome determined by just 369 votes. (BRAD BLOG's long series of reports on FL-13 here.)

Nonetheless, just last year, the county's horrible, and still un-resigned, Supervisor of Elections, Kathy Dent (one of the country's absolute worst), lied to a bunch of colleagues during a speaking engagement at the Pacific Northwest Election Conference.

"It was only after the results were in and the 18,000 undervotes were revealed that all of a sudden there were all of these folks that started saying well they couldn't touch the machines ... and their vote wasn't registering," she tells her colleagues, as seen in the video above right, as captured by Ginny Ross of the Oregon Voter Rights Coalition.

"But they were all after the fact," Dent informs the crowd, "and there were no phone calls coming into my office. So it's a little bit of an indication that there may have been some politics involved in this."

Documentation from her own office, however (yes, a paper trail!), shows incontestably that the Election Director's comments, as caught on tape, are a complete and utter and unrepentant fabrication...

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

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By Brad Friedman on 4/16/2008 1:29pm PT  

The Sarasota Herald-Tribune's column today on the awful Sarasota, FL, Supervisor of Elections, Kathy Dent --- and the criminal complaint against her outrageous, unlawful Election Day, in-precinct campaigning against a 2006 ballot initiative to ban touch-screen voting machines in the county (the initiative passed, despite her best efforts, and carefully placed brochures on voter sign-in tables!) --- is so good that I don't want to quote from it.

I want you to read it.

As the Herald-Trib describes, as revealed in Dent's interview conducted by the Florida Dept. of Law Enforcement, concerning her inappropriate (and illegal) placement of pro-touch-screen brochures in polling places, Dent admits she was aware of a voter's complaint about it, but ignored it "because she had assumed it was from 'one of the activists' that had been criticizing her and her machines."

The FDLE report on the matter, including their interview with the apparently-pathological Ms. Dent, as referenced in the column as "good reading", may be downloaded here [PDF, 16mb].

Dent, of course, is the woman who also presided over the FL-13 U.S. Congressional election that same year, when 18,000 votes disappeared in her county only, and only on her precious, now-banned, ES&S Ivotronic touch-screen machines, as the Republican Vern Buchanan reportedly edged out Democrat Christine Jennings by just 369 votes.

If the linked column doesn't give you enough of an idea of what a horrible, anti-democracy villain Dent really is, perhaps the following lovely, 30-second phone message --- left on the voice mail of Tallahassee' Election Supervisor (and democracy hero), Ion Sancho, moments after he appeared on a Fort Myers radio show, heard in Sarasota, in which he was asked about, and praised, the Sarasota citizen ballot initiative to do away with the touch-screens --- will give you some idea:

Sancho adds that Dent was also scheduled to appear on the same program, but begged off, likely after she'd heard that he would also be a guest. Though when he got off the air and checked his cell phone messages, he found she'd called immediately after the program. So she was apparently available to listen to it, at least, even if she didn't have the courage to come on and defend her views.

We hope to have more soon on Dent and this case --- for which she's (incredibly) been exonorated by the FDLE --- in the not-too-distant future.

CORRECTION/UPDATE: We originally characterized the phone call from Dent to Sancho, posted above, as being in regard to the FL-13 election fiasco. In fact, Dent's call to Sancho was made prior to the '06 Election, in reference to his radio interview comments on the Election Reform initiative, as now explained above. We touched base with Sancho just now, and he had some additional thoughts about Dent and her inappropriate campaign to defeat the initiative in question. Said Sancho: "This woman knowingly campaigned against an initiative on the ballot. If she wanted to do that, at a minimum, she should have formed a political action committee to do so. Supervisors of Elections don't give up their right to free speech, but they have to follow the law, particularly if they wish to influence anything on the ballot."

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In 2008 He'll Have to Face the Democrats' Insider-Approved Candidate Before He Can Run Again in Florida Against his Own Crooked Republican Arch-Nemesis, Rep. Tom Feeney
And He's Taking None of it Lying Down...
By Jim Cirile on 4/7/2008 9:54am PT  

Special to The BRAD BLOG by Jim Cirile

Clint Curtis doesn’t know when to quit.

The Florida computer programmer turned infamous whistleblower was allegedly asked by Jeb Bush crony (and future FL-24-R Congressman) Tom Feeney to write vote-flipping software for him in 2000 (here's the quick summary version of BRAD BLOG's coverage of the scandal). At the time, Curtis, then a loyal Republican, delivered the vote-rigging prototype to Feeney under the assumption that his software would be used to prevent e-voting manipulation by Democrats. When Curtis learned that the true purpose was to game the election results in South Florida, he blew the whistle.

A stacked-deck investigation by the Florida Ethics Commission --- where 6 of the 8 members of the panel are either Bush or Feeney appointees, or closely tied to one or both --- dismissed Curtis’ allegations without allowing him to testify, and without examining email and other evidence in the case, in violation of FL law. But Curtis would not go quietly.

He became a crusader, speaking at election integrity events around the country and eventually delivering jaw-dropping testimony (video here) to a stunned Congressional committee (who did nothing in response). Curtis even passed a lie detector test administered by the retired chief polygrapher for the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. Meanwhile, Feeney has been branded among the “Top 25 Most Corrupt in Congress,” for three years straight, by CREW, the non-partisan DC ethics watchdog group, most notably for his involvement --- and golf junket to Scotland --- with disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

In 2006, Curtis launched his first congressional bid --- now as a Democrat --- taking on Feeney himself for his FL-24 seat. A pre-election Zogby poll showed Curtis in a statistical dead heat with Feeney --- despite Feeney’s big-money smear campaign against Curtis (‘CrazyClintCurtis.com’ featured doctored photos of Curtis wearing a tin foil hat). But on election night, Feeney was announced the winner 57%/43%. Problem is, those election results didn’t make much sense based on the Zogby poll or Curtis’ own internal polling. So Curtis did something remarkable. He filed a Congressional election challenge.

His team went door to door collecting signed affidavits from FL-24 voters testifying as to how they voted. They found the results to be wildly off, by double digits in some places. Despite this evidence, the Democratically controlled House committee summarily dismissed his election challenge, along with several others, without bothering to even review Curtis' evidence.

And yet, Curtis is once again going after the FL-24 Congressional seat. Only this time, he’s not just running against Feeney. First he must defeat an attempt to challenge him by the Democratic party's hand-picked candidate.

We caught up with Curtis on the campaign trail where he made it clear, in our exclusive interview, that he had no intention of lying down or rolling over for naysayers, Democratic insiders, the woman chosen by the DCCC to challenge him, and certainly not the corrupt Tom Feeney...

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

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'It's Simply Not Possible for the State to Hold Another Election, Even If the Party Were to Pay for It' - Florida Dem Chair
By Jon Ponder on 3/17/2008 5:46pm PT  

Guest blogged by Jon Ponder, Pensito Review.

So now what?

The Florida Democratic Party said this afternoon it won't pursue a do-over of its contested primary, putting the dispute squarely in the lap of the Democratic National Committee's rules committee next month.

Florida officials had floated the idea last week of a mail-in vote, but questions quickly arose about its logistics and fairness. The consensus from thousands of Democrats is against a revote, Representative Karen L. Thurman, the state party's chairwoman, says in a letter to Democrats.

"A party-run primary or caucus has been ruled out, and it's simply not possible for the state to hold another election, even if the Party were to pay for it," Thurman writes.

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One Destined for a Museum, Some Sent to an Election Near You, Others to be Gone Forever...Finally...
By Brad Friedman on 3/10/2008 4:24pm PT  

Blogged by Brad from the road...

The report is music to our ears, and far too long in coming. From today's Tampa Tribune...

TAMPA - Workers today started loading more than 3,000 touch-screen voting machines destined to be resold, disassembled or crunched into bits by a recycler as Hillsborough County begins changing how ballots are cast and counted.
...
The devices will be replaced by machines that scan and record paper ballots as part of a legislatively mandated change requiring a paper trail after elections.
...
The machines being hauled away by Creative Recycling of Tampa were 6 years old. The company has a state contract to dispose of 27,785 of the touch-screen machines in counties using them.

Hillsborough County's Supervisor of Elections, Buddy Johnson, offers the best use of the machines --- he says in the article that "he wanted to donate one to the county's history museum" --- but beware, while some are to be scrapped, some of these bad machines may show up at an election near you...

The first step for the recycling company is to try selling the machines to states that still allow touch-screen voting.

Then, Creative Recycling workers will extract parts that can be resold, such as a thermal printer in each machine.

Any pieces that can't be sold will wind up shoved into a two-story-tall machine that will mash them into bits that will be separated and recycled.

We shall drift off to bed tonight, imagining the sweet, sweet sound of touch-screen voting machines being "mashed into bits." We never thought we'd say it, but: Thank you, Florida.

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Note to Daily Kos Gatekeepers: Ban Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. Immediately!!!
By Brad Friedman on 2/21/2008 12:46pm PT  

Our friends Bobby Kennedy Jr. and GoLeft.tv interview another of our friends, Election Integrity hero Ion Sancho, the legendary Leon County, FL, Supervisor of Elections, on the election messes in New Hampshire, Florida, Los Angeles, and everywhere else. (And thanks for the kind hat-tip, guys...even though The BRAD BLOG never claimed there was fraud in NH. But we're happy to let that slide, since the interview was live, and you might have been talking about someone else. And we know you mean well.)


WARNING: Markos Moulitsas and the other front-pagers and gatekeeping denialists at Daily Kos should not watch the above interview! If Robert F. Kennedy Jr. has a user record over there, you should go ahead and ban him right now! Make sure he's never allowed to write at dKos! In this interview, he has the temerity to talk about concerns with the way the New Hampshire Primary Election was conducted! Can you believe it?! And he's even a Hillary Clinton supporter! Clearly, he, like The BRAD BLOG, is "doing far more harm than good," as you like to say, for the Election Integrity movement! What will the Democratic Party and the Mainstream Corporate Media say about your site if that "nutter" Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is allowed to post over there?! Quickly --- before he damages the credibility of your site --- you better go ahead and ban RFK Jr. in advance! As you know, better safe than sorry, boys!

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Brother Raul, 76, Remains in Charge
By Jon Ponder on 2/19/2008 4:41am PT  

Guest blogged by Jon Ponder, Pensito Review.

Fidel Castro, Cuba's supreme leader since January 1959, has announced he will retire:

Cuban leader Fidel Castro told compatriots early today that he would not accept another term as president, throwing open the Communist-ruled island's leadership for the first time in nearly 50 years.

Castro, 81, and ailing with an undisclosed intestinal disorder, announced in a statement carried on the state-run Granma International newspaper website early today that he was stepping down as head of state.

His announcement left little wiggle room for a comeback: "I do not aspire to and will not accept, I repeat, I neither want nor will accept, the position of president of the Council of State and commander in chief."

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'Unofficial Results' on County Website Shows Turnout Exceeds Registered Voters in Precinct D001
Officials Have No Explanation for Now, Said to Be 'Still Reviewing That Information'...
By Brad Friedman on 1/31/2008 3:23pm PT  

Turnout at Broward County, Florida's precinct D001 was excellent in last Tuesday's primary election, according to the "unofficial results" posted on this county webpage.

With 1,028 ballots cast, and 930 registered voters at the precincts, voters having turned out, the turnout was an impressive 110.54%!

The BRAD BLOG called the Broward County Supervisor of Elections office to find out if there was any explanation for these numbers. We spoke with Patricia McCallister, an assistant to Supervisor Dr. Brenda C. Snipes...

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

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Same Model Used in New Hampshire and Hacked in HBO Documentary, as Other Reported Voting System Problems Crop Up Around the Sunshine State During Today's Primary Election...
By Brad Friedman on 1/29/2008 5:37pm PT  

Diebold (which now calls itself Premier Election Systems) quietly released a "Product Advisory Notice" last Friday to the state of Florida, concerning an explained malfunction in the paper-based optical-scan voting machine used across the state. While reports of problems on those systems, and others, began surfacing throughout the day today across the Sunshine State.

The Diebold advisory warns that "No Error Message is Displayed when Ballot Fails to Feed Completely Through AccuVote-OS."

The AccuVote-OS is Diebold's precinct-based optical-scan ballot counter. The advisory is said to apply to "AccuVote-OS with Version 1.94w firmware" --- the same system which was used in New Hampshire earlier this month, and the one on which ballots were found to have gone uncounted or miscounted in virtually all of the precincts counted during Dennis Kucinich's election contest in that state.

Diebold's AccuVote-OS with v1.94w firmware is the identical system seen being hacked in HBO's Hacking Democracy after code found to be in violation of federal Voting System Guidelines was discovered on the system, and exploited to flip a mock paper ballot election without detection in late 2005.

Last November, The BRAD BLOG offered an investigative report on Diebold memory card failures discovered in Florida, and other states, about which both Diebold and the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) --- mandated by law as a clearing house for such issues --- refused to notify jurisdictions that use the same system about the problem.

Though it was too late to check by the time we obtained a copy of the advisory, we are aware of no such notice having been sent to either New Hampshire nor any of the many other jurisdictions around the country which use the same, fatally flawed hardware and software...

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Sequoia Voting Machine Freezes While Rightwing Radio Host Tries to Vote in Republican Primary in Sunshine State...
By Brad Friedman on 1/29/2008 4:29pm PT  

Earlier today from a Palm Beach Post blog item...

Count Rush Limbaugh among the voters confused by Palm Beach County’s touch-screen machines.

On his syndicated talk show this afternoon, Limbaugh said he was trying to vote in today’s primary when the screen seemed to freeze or “stick” on the list of presidential candidates.

“I hit ‘Next’ and it didn’t go there,” said Limbaugh, who lives in Palm Beach and often recounts the county’s electoral foibles on his show.

Then he hit the “Back” button and “got my candidate page again with the vote already recorded there. So I said ‘hmmmmm, I wonder if this is going to count twice.”

So he unclicked his favored candidate, clicked that candidate again and hit “Next” a second time - and it worked.

“I don’t know if I voted twice,” he said. “Probably not.”

For the record, although Florida's Republican governor and legislature have voted to finally trash the touch-screens and move to all paper ballot elections, today's Primary still uses the old touch-screens in many counties. Elsewhere, problems are occurring --- yet again --- with the paper-based Diebold op-scan systems in the Sunshine State. The same machines used in New Hampshire, and the same ones seen being hacked in HBO's Hacking Democracy, are reportedly failing in several locations there. More on that soon.

The touch-screen systems used by Palm Beach County, also home of voter fraud felon Ann Coulter, are made by Sequoia Voting Systems.

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Some Election Officials Voice Concern That Recent Changes Restricting Use Of Some Voting Machines Jeopardizes Integrity Of Elections
But Secretary Of State Debra Bowen Defends Actions By Calling Voting Machines 'A Major Threat To Democracy'
By Alan Breslauer on 1/16/2008 8:27pm PT  

Guest Blogged by Alan Breslauer

According to a NewsHour report, some county election officials in California believe that changes ordered by Secretary of State Debra Bowen, including decertifying some voting machines, may put the integrity of upcoming elections in jeopardy. Seriously. This despite Bowen's explanation for her actions:

Bowen: Our scientist found that every system they looked at could be compromised in ways that made me uncomfortable. They were able to bypass security seals by undoing two screws and opening the whole machine. They were able to change the results without ever having any knowledge of the computer code itself.

Steve Weir, an election official from Contra Costa County, explains why election officials are concerned with Bowen's directives not to use some newly purchased machines:

Weir: You can't keep changing voting systems. You don't make changes to your voting system without really jeopardizing your own security and your own reliability, um, this close to an election.

However, Stanford professor David Dill backs Bowen and proclaims, "It seems that there is almost a national consensus that we have a serious problem". Dan Ashby, of the Election Defense Alliance, agrees that the use of voting machines is a dangerous endeavor:

Ashby:The election department public servants are not capable of running the election without having all kinds of technical help from the voting machine companies. [Which is dangerous because] They have the access and the means, motive and opportunity, if they were inclined, to change the programming in ways that no election official or voting member of the public could possibly perceive such that it would change the outcome of the election in an undetectable untraceable way.

Voting machines pose another, often overlooked, problem beyond the technical problems most often associated with such machines. Mainly, voting machines have led to a vast public distrust of elections. According to Bowen, the lack of trust in voting machines has caused people to "check out and not participate" and is thus, "a major threat to democracy".

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