Standing up to the NRA after Roanoke, horrifying U.S. gun death toll; PLUS: Denying global warming on Katrina's 10th anniversary; Trump's ugly nativism; Good news for Dems; Marriage dead-enders in KY...
Tomorrow (Friday) there will be a hearing in Washington DC to discuss and take testimony about the failures in the DC primary election. How did one precinct have over a thousand more votes than it had voters? Again this seems to clearly be a machine issue.
The tie that binds Palm Beach Co and Washington DC together is that their voting machines were all supplied by Sequoia Voting Systems...
ADDENDUM FROM BRAD: More details on all of the above now here...
Congrats to David Earnhardt and company on winning "Best Documentary" at last weekend's San Diego Film Festival, for Uncounted: The New Math of American Elections! I'm quite sure the win was due to my appearance at the Q&A following the Saturday night screening down there.
And finally...if you'd like a copy of both great documentaries (I'm in both, but they're really good anyway!), a donation of $75 or more will get 'em both shipped straight to ya! (Snail mail also works for all of the above: Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594, Los Angeles, CA 90028)
Congrats and thanks all around! People are getting the message because you are making noise!
Kansas City Star is among the first out of the box to review the film, calling it a "Must See!" and declaring that it "plays like a high-tension political thriller."
The terrifying feature-length documentary, shot in high-definition video, details, for the first time, the complete Clint Curtis/Tom Feeney/Yang Enterprises vote-rigging scandal, in all of its, yes, sometimes very gory detail. It also tells a tale of the media, as it details my attempts to tell the story over the last four years, to a corrupt, detached, and too-often frightened corporate media. The BRAD BLOG broke the Curtis story originally in late 2004, and we've been investigating and reporting on it ever since.
The DVD of MSVL is finally available for purchase at VotingLies.com and will also be premiering beginning this weekend on LinkTV, for those of you lucky enough to get the satellite TV channel. See LinkTV's main Murder, Spies page for air dates and times, as well as an extended five-minute preview of the film. Sharaf has been kind enough to offer the DVD --- signed by herself and myself --- available as our newest, and perhaps most appropriate, BRAD BLOG premium ever! An online donation of $50 or more gets you your own copy! (And just in time for Halloween!) Snail mail works as well, if you prefer to send a check to: Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594, Los Angeles, CA 90028. The support is greatly appreciated and very much needed.
LinkTV narrates their own 60-second preview of MSVL below...
For those who aren't familiar with the remarkable Curtis/Feeney story of the Florida software programmer who says he was asked by a powerful Republican to create vote-rigging software, where have you been? See this summary version for the quick details.
For those who are familiar with the story, you will learn details in MSVL you never knew, along with new interviews on the case from Gore Vidal, reporter Bob Fitrakis, computer security expert Harri Hursti, whistleblower Steve Heller, Curtis co-worker Mavis Georgalis, and many more!
While the Curtis story has been told, often beautifully, in a number of other documentaries, such as Uncounted: The New Math of American Elections and Stealing America: Vote-by-Vote, this is the first to go all the way into all of the frightening details underscoring this case, including the mysterious death of Florida's Inspector General Raymond Lemme while investigating the allegations, and the bizarre case of the convicted Chinese spy, Hai Lin "Henry" Nee, who worked at the firm with Curtis.
A few quotes from some of the early reviews:
"Must see!...Plays like a high-tension political thriller...Amazingly elaborate and detailed...Want to get hoppin' mad? This'll do it...Let's hear it for paper ballots." - Bob Butler, Kansas City Star
The film is also screening at a number of upcoming film-festivals around the country, including the New Jersey Film Festival this weekend. See the MSVL website for dates & times.
Four years later, I'm happy to still be here to see the release of the film, quite frankly. There were some pretty scary days back there. It's regrettable that nobody's yet gone to jail, but maybe we're getting closer. For many of you who found this blog because of the Curtis story back in 2004, thank you for all of the support throughout the years! I hope you'll get the film, enjoy it, and continue to spread the word.
Rep. Tom Feeney (R-FL) --- cited for the third year in a row by a public interest watchdog as one of the "Most Corrupt Members of Congress" --- has finally decided to "apologize" for going on that $75,000 lobbyist-funded junket to play golf in Scotland in 2003, along with the disgraced, and convicted, Jack Abramoff. The "apology" comes in the form of a desperate, 30-second campaign ad (at left.)
Feeney is the last remaining member of Congress to have gone on one of those Abramoff-funded private jet trips to hit the links in St. Andrews. The other two, Tom Delay (R-TX), who went in 2001, and Bob Ney (R-OH), who went in 2002, have both left Congress in disgrace and under indictment.
You'll note that the ad --- in which Feeney never bothers to mention that he's a Republican --- ends, laughably, with: "Because public service is about being honest, even when you make a mistake."
That line might more appropriately, at least for Feeney, have been: "Public service is about admitting that you broke the law, five years after you took a huge favor from a corrupt lobbyist and were finally forced to admit it outloud in a desperate, last-ditch attempt, to save your Congressional meal ticket."
But he might have had trouble getting all of that into his :30 spot.
The ad also says, on screen: "Get the facts: Tom Feeney.com" Might we suggest if you really want the facts on Tom Feeney, one of the filthiest players remaining in Congress, that you see instead our special coverage page about him, and former Republican computer programmer Clint Curtis. Curtis worked at the same company as Feeney, back when Feeney was both the powerful Speaker of the Florida House and a lobbyist for the software firm with millions of dollars in state contracts. The same company also employed undocumented Chinese aliens working on systems for NASA and others, even as Feeney has continued to protect that company to this day (he was also their one-time general counsel) and has housed his campaign headquarters in their building.
A remarkable documentary film, Murder, Spies & Voting Lies, covering that story, and The BRAD BLOG's attempts to tell it over the last four years, has just been released. If you'd rather learn the facts in movie form, please check out that film! NOTE: It's terrifying and includes untold details on at least two grizzly deaths related to the Curtis/Feeney scandal.
Curtis himself eventually switched to the Democratic Party following the incident and, after Congress refused to take action on Feeney, he ran unsuccessfully against him in 2006. His attempts to do so again this year were derailed by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), which backed wealthy opponent Suzanne Kosmas in the primary. With polls showing the well-funded Kosmas in a tight race with Feeney, clearly, one of the dirtiest Republicans in America is now running very scared.
TALLAHASSEE — A new pitch for John McCain's presidential campaign aimed at older Democratic voters is causing complaints by Democrats and concern by elections officials.
The piece, paid for by the Republican National Committee and authorized by McCain, tells voters it is seeking to double-check their "unconfirmed" party affiliations while asking for money. A letter signed by McCain tells the Democrats: "We have you registered as a Republican."
"I was a little bit shocked and a little bit surprised," said recipient Bill Smith, 81, of Tampa, who calls himself a lifelong Democrat and has been registered at his current address since 2000.
The RNC declined to discuss the mailer, which Democrats said has landed in five counties: Duval, Hillsborough, Collier, Miami-Dade and Escambia.
The article goes on to note that FL's Republican SoS Kurt Browning believes the mailing is "confusing" and "unfortunate", but does not note whether or not he plans to do anything about it. We're not holding our breath. Neither are we holding it for Democrats down there to do much about it either.
The mailings sent to registered Democrats appear to be classic "caging" letters, marked as "Do Not Forward", so that they will then be returned to the GOP if there is any problem with delivery. Those returned letters will likely then be used as a basis to challenge the legitimacy of those particular voters on Election Day....
In today’s featured article the Brennan Center for Justice and the Advancement Project have reported that thousands of Florida voters may be disenfranchised by a last minute decision by the Secretary of State, Kurt Browning, to enforce a “no match, no vote” law. “No match, no vote” essentially says that if a voters name or information on their registration does not exactly match their name or information on their ID they cannot vote or they can vote a provisional ballot and take the same ID to the county election office after the election to prove they are who they say they are.
"This 11th-hour decision is an ill-advised move to apply a policy the state has never enforced in its current form, at a time when registration activity is at its highest," stated Beverlye Neal, director of the Florida State Conference of the NAACP, a plaintiff in a lawsuit that challenges Florida's matching law. "The Secretary's decision will put thousands of real Florida citizens at risk due to bureaucratic typos that under the 'no-match, no-vote' law will prevent them from voting this November," said Alvaro Fernandez of the Southwest Voter Registration and Education Project, another plaintiff in the case.
"Voters who do everything right, who submit forms that are complete, timely, and accurate, will suddenly find themselves unregistered when they go to vote, just because someone somewhere punched the wrong letter on a keyboard," said Myrna Pérez, counsel at the Brennan Center for Justice. "The no match, no vote policy is unjust and unnecessary, and Florida voters will pay the price this fall," stated Jean-Robert Lafortune, president of the Haitian-American Grassroots Coalition, another plaintiff in the lawsuit...
Three recent stories have come to light about the Republican Party's latest and sometimes illegal efforts at voter disenfranchisement. Unfortunately, these three stories are only the very tip of an enormous iceberg.
Before we go into details, please, if you're registered to vote, check on the status of your registration NOW, before you get turned away from the polls this November. You can check your registration status here with our friends at VotersUnite.org. This is even more important if you are African-American, Hispanic/Latino, elderly, a college student, or low income; statistically and historically, Americans in those four categories are disenfranchised in greater numbers than any other segment of the American populace. PLEASE check on the status of your registration. This bears repeating: Check your registration status here.
And of course, if you're not registered to vote, what in the hell are you waiting for??
First, Michigan... We've learned from the Michigan Messenger that James Carabelli, the Republican Party commissioner for Macomb County, is "planning to use a list of foreclosed homes to block people from voting in the upcoming election as part of the state GOP's effort to challenge some voters on Election Day."
Carabelli, as quoted in the Messenger, says, "We will have a list of foreclosed homes and will make sure people aren't voting from those addresses."
But J. Gerald Hebert, a former voting rights litigator for the U.S. Justice Department and currently the Executive Director and Director of Litigation for Campaign Legal Center, says the practice is simply illegal...
Readers will recall that as of yesterday Palm Beach Co Florida officials had lost well over 3,000 ballots sometime between the primary election and an election recount. Earlier today there were announcements that over 2700 ballots had been found. Late this afternoon the officials were supposed to meet to announce whether they had found all of the missing ballots and why those ballots went missing in the first place.
Were the ballots run through the high-speed optical scan machines during the recount and did the machines pick-up two or more ballots at a time thus not counting all of the ballots? Or, were the ballots in bins that were never counted?
The media is not clear on this issue yet so we are going to have to wait to find this out. If the machines were, in fact, grabbing two or more ballots at a time jurisdictions around the country need to be made aware of this possibility.
Meanwhile a report from Broward Co of the result of their state-mandated audit is a bit troubling. The county appears to have hand-counted one race on ballots from 16 precincts. The media is reporting that nine of the precincts hand-count matches the machine results. Seven precincts resembled original results by 95 percent or more. That is a huge number and should raise red flags.
Instead one official said, “When you're dealing with people and paper, that's the best you're going to get.” How about agreeing 100% and you keep counting until you are sure that the people and paper are not the problem and then you find out what problem the machines had?...
The news from Palm Beach Co Florida is not getting any better. The official recount is complete as required by the state. By state law they have exactly one week to count ballots, rectify any problems, do any required recounts, and certify that everything is correct. Of course that is all without any court orders and it looks more and more like this election will be going to the courts.
The original election evening count seems to have been 102,523 and the final recount total was 99,045. The only race that was recounted was a race for a judicial seat and the winner flipped from one candidate to another from the original to the final recount. The original difference was 17 votes and the final was 60 votes.
The big question is what happened to over 3,400 ballots. The losing candidate will be going to court to ask that question among others. And now any candidate in any other race who lost by less than 3,400 votes is also being encouraged to go to court and demand a recount or re-election.
There is a lot wrong with this situation. The state is wrong in forcing a quick handling of the ballots. No wonder mistakes are made and more seem to be made in Florida than most other states. A complete investigation must be held inside the county to figure out what happened and why it happened. Was it administration issues or the voting system? And why did members of the county canvassing board sign an official document that had no final numbers on it? The voters need to know that and they need to know before November....
16,632 votes are unaccounted for in a Palm Beach County election recount following last Tuesday's state primary, according to Ellen H. Brodsky, non-partisan candidate for Supervisor of Elections in Broward County and a long-time Election Integrity advocate.
The machine recount was completed early Saturday morning in the Circuit Court race between Judge Richard Wennet and challenger William Abramson, Brodsky reports via email. The machine recount was completed at 4:30am, in the race in which Wennet and Abramson were separated by just 18 votes in the initial machine tally. Palm Beach County recently changed voting systems again, moving from faulty touch-screen voting systems to --- apparently --- faulty optical-scan paper-ballot systems made by Sequoia Voting Systems, Inc. [PDF].
The still-unexplained "disappearance" of votes in the machine recount "has severe repercussions," Brodsky wrote in an email alert this afternoon describing the re-scan of some 90,000 ballots.
"With 16,632 less votes on summary report," she writes, it "portends dire consequences for the November election and all elections."
The question remains as to how many votes were lost in other races on the same ballot which were not included in last night's re-tally. Florida state law disallows hand-counting of paper ballots which have already been counted by machine, other than in special circumstances. We'll see if this ends up being one of those circumstances. Theoretically, a hand-count would determine the correct totals for the race, where the machine-count has misreported totals. [UPDATE: Palm Beach Post reports the machine recount was close enough to allow for a hand-count of over votes and undervotes. See more in the update at end of this article.]
Sequoia's voting machines have seen notorious failures of late, including lost votes and other problems, around the country...
Today Premier/Diebold has again had to accept the blame for voting machine failures. This time the optical scan machines that had tallied absentee ballots in Sarasota County would not upload the totals to the main server and refused to post elections in Hillsborough County. Election officials in Sarasota ended up having to count 10,000 ballots by hand. It is a good thing they had the paper ballots to count by hand or those votes would have been lost....
In an article this morning from the St Petersburgh (FL) Times the reporters report that Diebold/Premier voting systems failed to work properly in Hillsborough County.
By far the largest problem cropped up in Hillsborough, which Browning had criticized when Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections Buddy Johnson took longer than any other supervisor to buy optical scan technology. Through bidding, Hillsborough picked a company called Premier Voting Solutions. Its voting systems are used in 34 states, and about 30 of Florida's 67 counties.
However, after major computer problems cropped up during Ohio's March elections, the manufacturer acknowledged last week that its software contains a critical programming error. Because of the error, votes can be dropped while being electronically transferred from memory cards. As a result, the company sent out a nationwide customer alert with recommended actions to deal with the problem.
An hour after the polls closed in Hillsborough, Johnson told reporters that his vote counting system had developed a computer problem that was preventing it from posting the tallies electronically — and he blamed Premier Voting Solutions.
"I haven't been able to get a straight answer from Premier, but I will by the end of the night," he said. "I expect them to fix this issue. We've paid a lot of money. My staff has done a great job.''
Johnson said other counties were having similar problems, but [Secretary of State Kurt] Browning's staff said no other counties statewide had reported a similar glitch. Still, Johnson insisted the problem didn't lie with his office.
However, Florida Today reports that Brevard County had problems with their Diebold voting machines and this problem is recurring...
Velvet Revolution - co-founded by Brad Friedman - today launched its newest campaign at StandingForVoters.org, calling on candidates across the country to pledge to challenge elections when necessary.
"This election, let's make democracy the winner!" the Standing For Voters site proclaims. Readers of The BRAD BLOG know that's quite a stretch, that we're a long way from having a true democracy in this country. Yet challenges by candidates --- before, during and after the elections --- could be an important step in the right direction. In many situations, only candidates have standing to challenge elections.
StandingForVoters.org is primarily directed towards candidates themselves and serves to educate them about election integrity issues, types of election challenges, and recent history of candidates who challenged elections. Voters are encouraged to participate by finding candidates who will pledge; tips about how to do this are provided on the site, including:
Attend candidates' nights or other campaign activities. During the Q&A portion of the program, make a statement about the importance of election integrity and ask the candidates publicly if they will sign the Standing for Voters pledge.
Call in to radio shows where candidates are being interviewed. Ask the candidates on the air to sign the pledge.
Write a letter to the editor or an op-ed piece in the local newspaper urging candidates to pledge. (You can also encourage the paper only to endorse candidates who have made the pledge.)
Visit candidates' websites and send them emails asking them to sign the pledge. Include a link to StandingForVoters.org.
Talk to your local political clubs. Find out who has direct contact with candidates and enlist their help.
Once one candidate for a particular office has signed on, call their opponents and ask them to match that pledge.
The first two candidates to sign the site's more robust pledge, "The Super Pledge," are no strangers to election integrity issues. Ellen Brodsky, candidate for Supervisor of Elections in notorious Broward County, Florida is a long-time election integrity advocate, founding Broward Election Reform Coalition. Brodsky was thrilled to pledge, saying, "You can count on me to speak about fair, accurate and transparent elections in every breath I take."...
If folks in Florida's 24th Congressional district don't dump this sleaze bucket (presuming he's not tossed in jail first for his involvement with Jack Abramoff, for which he's under FBI investigation), I can't even imagine what they'd be thinking,
Here's most of the 30-second robocall, as posted by the Sentinel, in which a Feeney volunteer endorses Curtis on behalf of Feeney's filthy campaign...
Just when you think he's hit rock-bottom, it turns out there is no dirty trick too unseemly for Feeney. Can there be any more question about Curtis' claims about him? What wouldn't Feeney do to try and gain an advantage in an election? Gaming the system again. As ever. (As he also did when Curtis ran against him in '06). What an appalling little --- very little --- figure of a man.
Curtis called Kosmas a "conservative blue-dog Democrat." He said "She could change her name to Republican and never have to change a vote."
Kosmas, in return, might ask, "Curtis who?"
She said she doesn't know Curtis.
"I am running as a Democrat," Kosmas said.
"Running as a Democrat." A telling phrase, that.
While Kosmas claims to be against the war, it turns out she co-sponsored a resolution, adopted on March 21, 2003, while in the Florida legislature that pledged "support of President Bush in his stand against Saddam Hussein".
Unfortunately, Kosmas isn't the only hand-picked Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) candidate being put up this year almost solely on the basis of the DCCC's short-sighted conjecture that they can win in a previously "red" district because the candidate either has lots of their own money, or is damned-near a Republican.
Yesterday, our buddy Howie Klein - who knows more about on-the-ground politics and the real positions of Congressional candidates than anyone we know --- decimated the DCCC for their drive to put "Democrats" in office, at any cost. The "Stalinist" effort, as he describes it, to put such candidates as Kosmas in office (whether or not they end up voting with Republicans more often than Democrats!) has been the basis of the DCCC's "Red to Blue" program launched under the previous DCCC chair Rep. Rahm Emanuel and still in play under its new chair, Chris Van Hollen....