Wrong date in AZ; Purge in IN; Fake purge in FL; Vote-flipping in VA; Kochs team up with God; Voter suppression in TN?; TX AG hates U.N. observers; Really dumb election official in VA...
Once again, as they're coming in too fast for us to fully dig in to most of these, but you should know about them, so here's our quick round-up, for now, of the latest...
• Maricopa County, AZ Gives Wrong Election Date to Hispanic Voters. Again.: The largest county in AZ, the one with Phoenix in it, admitted last week that materials for Hispanic voters had incorrectly given the date of the November 6 election as November 8. They said it was a small error that didn't affect a lot of voters. This week, a spokesperson for the Maricopa County Elections Department admits that they did it again: "Yvonne Reed confirms to ABC15 that bookmarks distributed by the elections department incorrectly listed the date of the general election in Spanish as November 8. The flip side of the bookmark correctly lists the date in English as November 6. Reed tells ABC15 the bookmarks were distributed at the three election counters throughout Maricopa County and that the department has no way of knowing exactly how many people received the bookmarks."
• 13,000 La Porte County, IN Voters Wrongly Purged by GOP Officials: "Back in 2011, some 800 voters were supposed to be purged from the La Porte County voter registration system. Instead, more than 13,000 got the boot and now the voter registration office is scrambling to get them online before Nov. 6." La Porte Dems are calling for a federal investigation. Over at DailyKos, blogger Dan Briggs explains how it happened.
• Fake Voter Purge Letters Sent to Florida Voters: The phony letters have shown up in 23 counties, so far, warning voters they have 15 days to show up at the local Supervisor of Elections office and prove their citizenship, or they'll be removed from the rolls. Unlike the very real letters sent in FL Gov. Rick Scott and Sec. of State Ken Detzner's failed "non-citizen" voter purge earlier this year, these letters are forgeries meant to look real. "The letters mimic notices that local election officials did send out to voters this past spring and summer when the state began a process of trying to purge the voter rolls of noncitizens who were illegally registered to vote. The original process, which identified 2,600 voters as noncitizens, was fraught with problems and incorrectly targeted hundreds of naturalized citizens. ... [FL State Dept. Spokesman Chris] Cate said that the department was still collecting information and has notified all the election supervisors of the problem. He urged Florida voters who receive anything similar to contact election officials immediately." On Wednesday, the FBI joined in the investigation.
As we've yet to see a copy of the fake letter or email warning about it sent to FL's county Supervisors of Elections on Monday posted online, we've posted both of them here, since we received a copy from a source earlier this week.
• Touch-Screen Vote-flipping in VA: And so it begins again. Expect many more of these in the days ahead, as usual, particularly in states like VA which continue to have so little respect for voters that most are forced to cast their votes on 100% unverifiable touch-screen systems. An email sent to Fairfax County, VA Democrats on Wednesday warns: "We have received several reports of touch screen voting machines switching the names on the ballot before the vote is cast." It goes on to advise voters who experience the problem to "Stop and alert the Election Officer - don't vote on that machine; Record the number of the voting machine; Record the name and phone number of the voter affected" and then to notify the local Democratic office immediately. We'd also add you should notify the Sec. of State, the local media and call 866-OUR-VOTE if this should happen to you.
The Fairfax Dems also offer this very sage advice: "Also, we encourage voters to use paper ballots (optical scan machine) where available." But good luck finding paper ballots in VA. (If you can still vote absentee there, please do, but deliver the paper ballot in person on Election Day, if possible!)
When touch-screen machines flip votes, they should be taken out of service immediately and quarantined. Unfortunately, most election officials allow technicians to try and re-calibrate the machines while they are in "Election Mode" and most vulnerable to manipulation. It's insane. We've been saying the same thing for years now, but few election officials seem to give a damn.
• Kochs team up with religious groups to target voters: Our friend journalist Zach Roberts, part of Greg Palast's intrepid team, obtained audio recordings from a fundraiser at a Focus on the Family-related group in Alaska where the man who runs the Rightwing outfit there boasted of their new affiliation with the Koch Brothers, the million-dollar voter targeting database they'd acquired from them, and the fact that, in the wake of Citizens United, political and religious groups may now work together more seamlessly than ever. Said the Alaska Family Council and Alaska Family Action President Jim Minnery at the event: "And so, the organization Alaska Family Action has the same board; I'm still the person in charge of that organization. We literally have to switch the light switch off and on when [laughter from crowd] we have a board meeting, because we have to be a separate nonprofit corporation according to IRS regulations." Also in attendance at the event: former Alaska Lt. Gov. Loren Leman (R) and Alaskan Gov. Sean Parnell (R). Roberts also reports that "Thirty-eight states with 'family healthy councils' across the country are in the midst of forming action groups and working with the Koch brothers' Themis database to target voters." Minnery also told the crowd, when explaining how the Kochs pitched the database to him: "So, they introduced this project to us by basically saying, 'Listen, we know more about you guys than you could ever hope to know, but the good side is, we're going to be able to use this for the glory of God and to get conservatives in power'".
• Davidson County (Nashville), TN Poll Workers Being Trained to Turn Away Voters?: "'Poll workers have been trained by the election commission to judge them (voters) by how they sound and how they look to determine their citizenship,' explained Eben Cathy of the Tennessee Immigrant & Refugee Rights Coalition. Cathy's claims are based on a Powerpoint slide shown to poll workers who were trained in Davidson County earlier this month. On the slide, one bullet point states that only US Citizens who are Tennessee residents may vote. Below that are the words 'naturalized citizenship require reading, writing, speaking basic English.'"
Davidson County is also the place where the Republican official in charge of the Board of Elections once told us to our face that "paper ballots are the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people." Funny. Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) keeps saying it's Global Warming. These guys should have more meetings.
• TX AG Threatens to Arrest U.N. Observers: We previously told you that U.N. monitors from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe [OSCE] were planning to observe this year's election, following a request last March by the NAACP and other groups who were (justifiably) concerned about voter suppression. Texas AG Greg Abbot has another idea: "'The OSCE representatives are not authorized by Texas law to enter a polling place. It may be a criminal offense for OSCE's representatives to maintain a presence within 100 feet of a polling place's entrance,' he said. 'Failure to comply with these requirements could subject the OSCE's representatives to criminal prosecution for violating state law.'" --- Um, "may be"? Isn't he the AG? The OSCE responded Wednesday in a letter to Sec. of State Hillary Clinton: "'The United States, like all countries in the OSCE, has an obligation to invite ODIHR observers to observe its elections,' it said. 'The threat of criminal sanctions against OSCE/ODIHR observers is unacceptable.'"
Either way, the U.S. Dept. of Justice is also planning to observe in Texas this year...Unless Abbot thinks they have no right to be there either. Why so worried about people observing at the polls? Got something you don't want them to see, cowboy?
• VA County Registrar Incredible Dishonest or Just Stupid: The Washington Post joins the ranks of us "conspiracy theorists" by reporting on concerns about Mitt Romney's business associates and major supporters and their takeover of Hart Intercivic, the nation's third largest voting machine company. But it was the last line of the piece we found the most amusing: "Falls Church [,VA] registrar David Bjerke said that he was aware of the discussion surrounding Hart but that he regarded the system as completely secure. 'There’s no way for the count to be manipulated,' he said."
What a Bjerke.
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