Guest blogged by Steve Huff, with additional updates by Brad Friedman.
NOTE: The original version of this blog entry was published here. This version has been updated several times, specifically for The BRAD BLOG. See updates at end of article...
Police are investigating a possible double murder and suicide in an Orlando, Florida, residence owned by the former Executive Director of the Georgia Republican Party.
The Orange County Sheriff was called to 2420 Hickory Oak Blvd. in Orlando early Thursday. There they found three dead white men and two live dogs. The men may have been dead since Tuesday.
The home where they were found dead was owned by a political consultant/strategist of Rep. Tom Feeney (R-FL), the one who worked on the Congressman's smear campaign against vote-rigging whistleblower Clint Curtis last year. More details on that campaign below.
Feeney describes Gonzalez as "a born political consultant." On commenting on the news, Feeney said of Gonzalez, "He was an adviser and strategist for me and became a very good friend."
ED NOTE: ARTICLE UPDATED TO REFLECT SEQUOIA AND MICHELLE SHAFER'S SHAMELESSLY SCRUBBED, DOCTORED, BACKDATED DOCUMENT. SEE EXPLANATION MID-ARTICLE. - BF
This morning I woke up to an email from Michelle Shafer, Vice President of Communications and External Affairs for Sequoia Voting Systems. Shafer wanted to point out that I had misstated the facts in yesterday's "Daily Voting News" when I asked, "And what about the sale of Sequoia? Smartmatic has been looking for a buyer for Sequoia for over a year now."
Shafer pointed me to a Sequoia press release, from December 22, 2006, in which they say, "The company also today announced its intent to seek an acquirer for Oakland-based Sequoia Voting Systems, a leading provider of voting technology in the United States that Smartmatic has owned since March 2005."
In other words, they've been seeking a buyer for 8 months, not a full year as I'd reported. I responded to let her know I'd be more than happy to issue a correction in today's DVN, as well note the error in the DVN posting here at The BRAD BLOG.
We are interested in being as factual as possible, and regret any error made, no matter how small. When we find one, we try to correct it immediately and transparently.
And, because our email discussion concerned being factual, I pointed out to Shafer that the press release she pointed me to had a number of wholly incorrect facts that she needed to clear up. Her press release from last December, incorrectly states:
"The U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) has not raised any issues about Sequoia's equipment in the 2006 elections, and the EAC requires that all voting systems receive extensive federal and state testing. Specifically, significant federal, state and local electoral safeguards were in place during the 2006 elections, and even more robust federal safeguards will come into effect in 2007. Sequoia takes these requirements very seriously and has complied with all applicable federal and state requirements."
She is flat out wrong. On a number of counts. Which I pointed out to her in my response. Her response to that was...we'll call it...a bit surprising...
More information about the following report is available here. Since its airing, election legal watchdog Voter Action has called for a full Congressional investigation into the possibility of commercial fraud by the voting machine companies as based upon some of the startling information revealed in this exposé...
NOTE: As the original Google version of this report has been taken down for some reason, we are making it available here, in three easy to watch segments. Additionally, a complete transcript is now posted here, courtesy of Jerry Berkman.
Part 1 (30:09): Concentrates on voting machine vendor ES&S and their previously undisclosed touch-screen sweatshop factories in Manila...
Part 2 (8:07): Dan Rather interviews electronic voting apologist, machine tester, Michael Shamos...
Part 3 (26:25): The "HOLY COW!" revelations about Florida 2000 and the seven whistleblowers from Sequoia who reveal, for the first time, that "somebody" at Sequoia purposely used lower grade paper and misaligned the chads (for Palm Beach County, FL specifically) on the paper ballots used in that Presidential Election (see additional comments from John Gideon and Brad Friedman on this section below)...
UPDATE By John Gideon: The revelations in Rather's report from the Sequoia punch-card printers, that inferior paper was used in the 2000 election in Palm Beach, are stunning. It was all about corporate greed. Sequoia Voting Systems has a big anvil hanging over their heads and it is hanging by a thread. No wonder Smartmatic only paid $16M for Sequoia which had assets over $40M. The previous owners of Sequoia, De La Rue, wanted out and now Smartmatic wants out but who is going to buy Sequoia now with all of their liabilities?
ADDITIONAL UPDATE FROM BRAD: Holy cow! If you haven't seen this thing, you must. The second half of the program, after the stunning revelations of the ES&S sweatshop in Manila, followed by a mostly useless interview with voting machine apologist Michael Shamos, breaks some enormous news concerning Sequoia's apparent effort to create havoc with Florida's punch-cards in 2000. With seven company whistleblowers, all interviewed on camera, and by name, objecting to the company's use of faulty paper and then misalignment of chads, specifically for Democratic Palm Beach County only, this thing could lead to huge fallout.
The remarkable report --- for which Rather should receive some kind of award --- reopens 2000, as nobody at Sequoia is willing to cop to signing off on the bad paper and misaligned chads business after all seven employees interview had refused to do so. Who gamed that election? At whose orders? And doesn't that open up new questions concerning Clint Curtis' allegations that he was asked by Tom Feeney, prior to the 2000 election, to create software to rig a touch-screen voting system. Up until now, one of the criticism of Curtis' claims has been that "nobody was even thinking about touch-screens prior to the 2000 election. This report, and the fact that Sequoia was using touch-screens as early as 1998 in Riverside County, CA, may blow that wide open.
UPDATE 8/28/07: More details on the above update, and this report seals up yet another allegation of the formerly Republican whistleblower Clint Curtis, now here...
On July 27, the Florida State University Security and Assurance in Information Technology Laboratory (SAIT) issued a report on the results of a review of the source code for the Diebold voting system that was in the state of Florida certification process. This report was commissioned by the Secretary of State, Kurt Browning.
On July 31, Browning sent a letter to Diebold to tell them that the system would not be certified as it was presented to the state and that the company had until August 17 to fix the problems or the certification process would be stopped. Included in that letter were three pages of required software repairs.
On August 10, Browning sent a congratulatory letter to Diebold to let them know all of the code fixes were successfully inspected by the SAIT Lab. and the state and that the Diebold optical-scan system and AutoMark were to be certified for use by the state.
That's less than two weeks from report of numerous problems to repairs to the source code to reinspection to issuance of certification.
How did this happen so fast?
UPDATE August 12 It appears that the changes that were made to the code had already been made in a newer version of the code that is in the federal testing process. The Independent Test Authority sent that code to Florida State and that is what was inspected and passed. I am being told that the report by the SAIT will be published early in the week.
Meanwhile...Back in Florida's 13th Congressional District, where Christine Jennings has already announced plans to run again in 2008 for the seat she almost certainly already won in 2006, but hasn't been allowed to sit in it due to ES&S's touch-screen voting machines standing in the way of democracy...
WASHINGTON --- Federal investigators have found several potential shortcomings in previous state and local reviews of the disputed election results in Sarasota County's November election, keeping them from ruling out the prospect that the touch-screen voting machines were compromised.
That, from Sarasota Herald-Tribune, despite Sarasota County's still-unresigned Supervisor of Elections and democracy-hater-in-chief, Kathy Dent hiding shamelessly behind the skirts of the flawed and misrepresented state-convened "audit" of the voting systems used in her disastrously run election. The federal investigators from the GAO seems to be countering the state's and Dent's assertions that their own review proved that 'there was nothing wrong with the voting systems.'
Our sources say that the GAO reports that "gaps" were found during their investigation. Though --- as with nearly everything involving E-voting --- the investigation into what happened last November is shrouded in secrecy for now. So it remains unclear to the lowly voters as to what those "gaps" are that the GAO has discovered and which may have aborted their preferred choice of representation in the U.S. House...
According to a story in the Miami Herald by Marc Caputo;
"the Florida Secretary of State's office has conducted an elections study that confirmed Tuesday what a maverick voting chief discovered nearly two years ago: Insider computer hackers can change votes without a trace on Diebold optical-scan machines."
The study by the Florida State University Security and Assurance In Information Technology Laboratory (SAIT) has found that the issues discovered by Harri Hursti in the now famous Hursti I hack have not been addressed by Diebold. The SAIT Team also inspected the state's Diebold DREs and DRE Bootloader.
In a letter to David Byrd of Diebold, Secretary of State Kurt Browning gave Diebold until August 17 to correct the identified problems. Failure to do that will result in the system not being certified for use in the next election in the state.
Bad news for the RNC. New emails reveal their "Voter Fraud Strategy Conference Call" just prior to the 2004 Presidential elections, with plans to use Vote Caging lists to challenge voters in swings states from OH to PA to FL to NM. The effort seems to have been spearheaded by Tim Griffin.
Previously undisclosed documents detail how Republican operatives, with the knowledge of several White House officials, engaged in an illegal, racially-motivated effort to suppress tens of thousands of votes during the 2004 presidential campaign in a state where George W. Bush was trailing his Democratic challenger, Senator John Kerry.
The documents also contain details describing how Bush-Cheney 2004 campaign officials, and at least one individual who worked for White House political adviser Karl Rove, planned to stop minorities residing in Cuyahoga County from voting on election day.
The efforts to purge voters from registration rolls was spearheaded by Tim Griffin, a former Republican National Committee opposition researcher. Griffin recently resigned from his post as interim US attorney for Little Rock Arkansas. His predecessor, Bud Cummins, was forced out to make way for Griffin.
Another set of documents, 43 pages of emails, provided to Truthout by the PBS news program "NOW," contains blueprints for a massive effort undertaken by RNC operatives in 2004, to challenge the eligibility of voters expected to support Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry in states such as Nevada, New Mexico, Florida and Pennsylvania.
One email, dated September 30, 2004, and sent to a dozen or so staffers on the Bush-Cheney campaign and the RNC, under the subject line "voter fraud strategy conference call," describes how campaign staffers planned to challenge the veracity of votes in a handful of battleground states in the event of a Democratic victory.
Furthermore, the emails show the Bush-Cheney campaign and RNC staffers compiled voter-challenge lists that targeted probable Democratic voters in at least five states: New Mexico, Ohio, Florida, Nevada and Pennsylvania. Voting rights lawyers have made allegations of so called "vote caging," against Republicans previously. These emails provide more evidence. One Republican operative involved in the planning wrote "we can do this in NV, FL, PA and NM because we have a list to run against the Absentee Ballot requests, and should."
Truthout has a bevy of emails that I haven't been able to review, but we'll have the producer of tomorrow's NOW story on the Peter B. Collins Show tomorrow (which I'm still Guest Hosting through the end of the week) to discuss this story.
And yes, Bush/Cheney '04 Inc's national general counsel, who would later go on to create the phony "grassroots" GOP front-group, American Center for Voting Rights (ACVR), was right there in the thick of it all...
Slowly but surely, the issue of felonious Republican "Vote Caging" during the 2004 Presidential Election is making its way into the consciousness of media, federal, state, and local elected officials and --- whether they like it or not --- the Bush/Cheney campaign officials who were involved in the practice despite repeated consent decrees signed by the RNC that they would no longer use the tactic to target minority voters for removal from voting rolls.
Today, the Florida Times-Union is reporting that, "Internal city memos show the issue of Republican 'vote caging' efforts in Jacksonville's African-American neighborhoods was discussed in the weeks before the 2004 election, contradicting recent claims by former Duval County Republican leader Mike Hightower - the Bush-Cheney campaign's local chairman at the time."
The report goes on to say that Hightower had previously denied any knowledge of the practice of vote caging, which includes sending registered letters, marked "Do Not Forward," to targeted voters along with a request to return a postcard. When the postcards are not returned, officials might then take measures to challenge the voters at the polls, or remove them entirely from the voting rolls.
Last month, Hightower reportedly told that paper that the issue of caging never came up in county meetings prior to the elections, and that he had never heard "of that expression or that practice."
The Internal memos show otherwise, according to the paper. In fact, the issue came up quite regularly at meetings. Nonetheless, Hightower --- pulling a Bob Dole and referring to himself in the third person --- is sticking by his denial...
Amy Goodman interviews former Marine spokesperson Josh Rushing on Democracy Now about his experiences serving at CENTCOM at the start of the Iraq war. In addition to sending over a Hollywood set designer to build a platform costing hundreds of thousands of dollars, Washington sent political operative Jim Wilkinson, who ran the media operation like a political campaign. According to Rushing, Wilkinson is also "credited with coming up with the line about Gore having invented the Internet," had his hand in the "Brooks Brothers Riot" during the 2000 Florida election recount, and was the guy handing George W. the bullhorn at Ground Zero on September 14, 2001.
Sarasota's Herald-Tribunehighlights why it's imperative to get election results right on Election Night...
Probe of District 13 race is slowing
Democrat Christine Jennings was pinning her hopes of winning the 13th District congressional seat on the Democratic majority in Congress.
But a month after essentially abandoning her legal challenge in a Florida court, Jennings is finding her gamble to rely on Congress could take far longer than her supporters had hoped.
The U.S. Government Accountability Office is set to tell Congress on Thursday that it needs until September just to determine what other audits, investigations, and court proceedings have already turned up. Then, the GAO would go before Congress again to determine how much additional time, if any, it needs to produce a formal report for Congress with its own research, said Nancy Kingsbury, a spokeswoman for the GAO.
That would hardly conclude the investigation. The report would need to be vetted by a task force and then voted on by a full committee in Congress before it could then go before the full U.S. House, which has final say over the dispute.
That would all have to happen in the eight weeks between Labor Day and the targeted adjournment on Oct. 27 for the rest of the year.
The Congressional challenge is due to problems with touch-screen DRE voting systems in the district which resulted in 18,000 lost votes, in a race certified as having been "won" by the Republican Vern Buchanan over the Democrat Christine Jennings by a 369 vote margin. Even the machine vendor (ES&S)'s own expert in court admitted that Jennings would have most likely won were it not for problems with their touch-screen DRE voting machines during the race.
A recent study of DRE voting systems found that two-thirds of voters didn't bother to check their review screens at the end of the voting process on such systems, and that even if they check them, they do not notice votes that have been flipped by the system. The study concludes that paper trail records, printed out after the review screen on DREs, would similarly not be noticed or checked for accuracy. Those findings confirm earlier results from an MIT/Caltech study which looked at similar issues.
The embarrassments caused by the District 13 race in Florida helped lead the Republican-controlled House and Senate in Florida to finally legislate a ban on DRE touch-screen voting machines altogether.
Supporters of Rush Holt's HR811 Election Reform bill in the U.S. House, however, have said that it's impossible to get a similar ban in the Democratically-controlled House and Senate, so they've refused to add such a ban to their sweeping bill. Those who have made the claim that a DRE ban could never win passage in the Democratically-controlled House and Senate have yet to offer any evidence for that claim, or even offer a single name of a supporter of the bill who would vote against it if it included such a ban.
The bill currently has 216 co-sponsors, although ComputerWorld today confirmed our report from earlier this week that Presidential Candidate Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) plans to withdraw his co-sponsorship of the bill.
The FL-13 election, meanwhile, was held back in November of 2006. The earliest timetable detailed in the Herald-Trib article, quoted above, would result in a decision on the matter by October of 2007. The Republican Vern Buchanan, who most likely lost the race by nearly everyone's (but his and Sean Hannity's) estimation, continues to vote with the GOP caucus in the House while the Democratic candidate, whom Sarasota voters had tried to send to the U.S. House, bides her time in Florida.
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.
Hapless Democratic strategist Bob Shrum's comments on this morning's Meet The Press are fascinating in their own right but have added resonance considering U.S. House candidate John Russell's Guest Post early today, concerning last November's Florida elections. Shrum believes (and allegedly Gore too) that Gore won Florida and the 2000 election. He also tells an interesting story about Gore joking about Bush getting caught cheating the day before the election. Cheating, elections, Florida, seems like an epidemic.
Guest blogged by John Russell, 2006 Democratic Candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives in Florida's 5th Congressional District
Just prior to the 1pm start of a recent U.S. House Administration Committee meeting, about which I had received third-hand notification that several contested Congressional elections from 2006 (including my own) were to be brought up and recommended for dismissal, I made several calls to House offices in the vain hope that I might be able to have our Constitutional rights protected and upheld.
Pragmatist that I am, I offered House Administration Committee Counsel, Tom Hicks, my thoughts, hoping that he would bring my concerns to the Committee’s attention. Understanding fully the genesis and context of this meeting --- held without notice to the contestants --- Mr. Hicks was apparently poised to enter one of those smoke-filled rooms we used to hear about.
Apparently, at that point, there was no citing of Constitutional rights convincing enough for this group of rascals to interfere with their plans to “slide our contests under the rug” and hopefully out the doors of Congress. I concluded my voice mail plea not to ignore our Constitutional right to due process by asking Mr. Hicks, “This is still America… is it not?”
The blatant disregard of the Federal Contested Elections Act and the U.S. Constitution by members of Congress exhibited in this meeting is beyond the pale. The Committee members’ audacity is only exceeded by the dearth of factual information regarding policy and political issues provided to the general public by the now defunct Fourth Estate, which has been replaced by the corporate media. As a candidate for federal office, I have now become completely acclimated to the ways and means of the liberally right-wing media in how candidates are at once dismembered, or accordingly contrived, by “The Establishment's” voice...
A number of mainstream news outlets (for a pleasant change) followed up on our report yesterday (full version here, quick summary here) on the SQL Slammer Worm virus which hit Sarasota County's database network on the first day of Early Voting last year, wreaking havoc which disallowed voting for two hours in the now-contest FL-13 U.S. House election between Christine Jennings (D) and Vern Buchanan (R). No telling what got into the MSM'ers, but perhaps it's because we ran the story at Computerworld first instead of here at the "dreaded" and "unreliable" blog.
Either way, of the several outlets we found who picked up the story (with more on the way, we're told, and local TV news coverage which we haven't been able to find online), the Brandenton Herald's coverage led the pack in advancing the story which they said "caused a stir Wednesday".
Their report includes a quote from Jennings --- who was named the loser in the race by just 369 votes, despite 18,000 reported undervotes on the county's ES&S iVotronic touch-screen voting machines --- saying "I read the story on the Internet and I was surprised...I need to know more about it. It does bring up some security issues that I think need to be looked at."
Her campaign spokesperson, David Kochman adds, "It makes you wonder what else is there that they haven't done to take care of the machines and protect them."
But Kochman does help answer one very important question we asked in our piece yesterday, about whether or not the county had notified the plaintiff's attorneys about this incident via the discovery process...