After an amazingly encouraging week or two, we head into the July 4th weekend with a whole bunch of stuff we've been trying to clear off our desk. Plus: Lots of breaking news and an encouraging ending for the weekend...
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...
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.
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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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...
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.
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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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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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."
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...
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...
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.
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".
Richard Wolfe of USA Today, needs some new sources in his Rolodex.
In two decenti-ish and important stories today about massive failures and inaccurate voter purges in the new voter registration databases mandated by the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) of 2002, Wolfe quotes two discredited operatives:
U.S. Elections Assistance Commission executive director, Thomas Wilkey, the man who has failed miserably in his job of overseeing e-voting system certification on behalf of the EAC (or, more accurately, on behalf of America's voting machine companies), and
Our old friend, the discredited discredited (to all but the corporate mainstream media, apparently) chief GOP voter suppression operative, Mark F. "Thor" Hearne of the exposed and defunct Republican front group, "American Center for Voting Rights".
To the substance of the two stories, both running today...The first, on legal voters being tossed off voting roles all across the country, Wolfe reports:
From Florida to Washington, voters have been challenged because names or numbers on their registration forms did not exactly match other government databases, such as Social Security and motor vehicle agencies. "We know that eligible people have been thrown off the rolls," says Justin Levitt, a lawyer with the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law.
The databases are only as good as the information fed into them by applicants and election officials. That can lead to human errors as well as variations from state to state. Colorado, for instance, knocked nearly 20% of its voters off the rolls between the 2004 and 2006 elections. Arkansas purged 3%, according to Election Assistance Commission data.
Perhaps the worst problems are in Florida, where a Gannett News Service analysis found more than 14,000 people whose voter registrations were disputed by the state because they didn't match other databases; about 75% are minorities.
Wolfe then goes on to close the story with a comment apologizing for the federal government's failure in all of the above, by quoting Wilkey, the federal government's man who oversaw the failures, on behalf of the EAC, on all of the above...
More good news out of Florida, where a judge has tossed out an outrageous anti-voter law which, critics charge, could well have disenfranchised thousands of Sunshine State voters (again) just in time for the 2008 Presidential Election. We spoke just last week with Ion Sancho, Leon County (Tallahassee)'s legendary Supervisor of Elections, who expressed grave concerns about this very law, even as Republican's promise to appeal the judge's decision, and continue other anti-voter related efforts about the country.
TALLAHASSEE --- A federal judge ordered state election officials to stop enforcing a 2-year-old voter registration law, ruling Tuesday that there is already proof that the change put in place by the GOP-controlled Florida Legislature has resulted in ``actual harm to real individuals.''
About 14,000 people have not been able to register because of Florida's ''no match'' law that requires a citizen's name on a voter registration form be matched with a Social Security number or driver's license number. The law has been challenged by the NAACP and other groups that say the law unfairly blocks blacks and Hispanics from being able to register to vote.
U.S. District Judge Stephan Mickle rejected arguments from the state that the law is needed to deter possible voter fraud, pointing out that the state has not been able to prove that the 14,000 voters now in limbo engaged in voter fraud. He said the requirements put in place by Florida lawmakers apper to conflict with federal voting rights laws.
''The disenfranchisement, however unintentional, causes damage to the election system that cannot be repaired after the election has passed,'' Mickle wrote in the order.
The article goes on to report that FL's appointed Republican Secretary of State, Kurt Browning, says the state will appeal the ruling, about which he says, "in my view the Legislature appropriately enacted this important anti-fraud provision as part of Florida's Election Code."
Browning's comments, unfortunately, come as little surprise for a number of disturbing reasons...
She even had her G-man former beau go as far as to name a BRAD BLOG Guest Blogger as a "stalker," despite a complete lack of any evidence for same, as justification for lying on her voter registration form. This is one sick person. But you likely already knew that.
Controversial conservative writer Ann Coulter didn't break election laws when she registered at an address other than hers in Palm Beach and voted in the wrong precinct in February 2006.
That's what the Florida Elections Commission declared after investigating a complaint of fraud that WPB Democratic political consultant Richard Giorgio made this summer. The reason? The two-year statute of limitations expired. The clock started ticking when Coulter registered to vote, shortly after her arrival in June 2005, not when she voted.
And though the commission verbally slapped the TV quote-machine for not listening to a poll worker who tried to steer her to the right place, investigators found no probable cause that Coulter willfully violated the law.
Commission counsel Charles Finkel couldn't be reached for comment, but Giorgio called the opinion "arbitrary."
"We have an election commission that's hesitant to enforce the law," he said.
Coulter's voting also has been investigated, so far, by Palm Beach Police, the PBC Supervisor of Elections and the sheriff's office — and all declined to file charges.
She's as innocent as O.J. --- But with far fewer scruples.
Next time you hear Republicans ginning up unevidenced claims of massive "Democratic Voter Fraud," just point them right here: http://www.BradBlog.com/CoulterFraud and note that not one damn Republican in Florida, or the United States of America, did a damn thing about it.
Please feel free to contribute to our Ann Coulter Dishonor Fund via an online donation to The BRAD BLOG in order to continue our efforts to investigate and highlight --- and find accountability for --- criminals such as Coulter.
Okay, we retract our hundreds of articles with evidence that Voter Fraud (as opposed to Election Fraud) is exceedingly rare. At least when it comes to Republicans and Florida.
The St. Petersburg Times is reporting that Mitt Romney supporters stuffed the "ballot box" (actually touch-screen DRE voting machines) by voting multiple times at last week's GOP straw poll in Tampa, FL, just prior to the Republican CNN/YouTube debate. Ironically enough, the video evidence, some of it posted at the end of this article, has been posted all over YouTube.
According to the Times...
Lined up at the voting machines, Paul supporters flaunted their single tickets and pledged to vote only once.
Meanwhile, some Romney supporters openly admitted to using rolls of tickets to vote multiple times. Romney won the poll with 893 votes, while Paul finished with 534.
It was all caught on tape, and the local Paul supporters rushed to share their complaints with the rest of the world.
By week's end, at least three videos hit YouTube, documenting Romney supporters - including prominent lawyer and lobbyist Fred Leonhardt - openly casting multiple votes.
In one video, a Clearwater woman and Paul supporter sat on a couch and accused Pinellas County GOP chairman and straw poll organizer Tony DiMatteo of threatening bodily harm if she didn't stop complaining.
"Tony's exact words on the phone to me was, 'If you make a big deal out of this, you will get hurt,'" Sofie Lefebvre said in the video. "And I was shocked. At that point, I realized that there was a lot more corruption going on than we even realized before."
DiMatteo dismissed the incident, calling it a non-issue that he refused to discuss any further.
"I've read some of those comments [angry ones, from Paul supporters accompanying several Youtube videos]," he said. "These are a bunch of people that need to get lives and don't understand what really happened here."
Granted, these GOP straw polls are phony from the get-go. The candidates buy tickets and give them out to supporters to show up and vote for them. They're fund raisers for the local Republican parties. But, theoretically, it's supposed to be one vote per ticket per person.