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Latest Featured Reports | Saturday, August 2, 2014
Ladies and Gentleman, Lenar Whitney...
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GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal 2012...
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FULL LETTER POSTED: ES&S Urged State, Local Officials to Take Corrective Measures Three Months Prior to Contested Jennings/Buchanan Race Last November
Election Integrity Advocate's Warning About Bug Also Ignored Both Before and After Election...
By Brad Friedman on 3/13/2007 4:28pm PT  

Melinda Henneberger at Huffington Post runs a news item today concerning an August 2006 letter from the voting machine company ES&S to Florida Elections officials warning about a defect in the iVotronic touch-screen voting machine which succeeded in losing the votes of some 18,000 voters in the razor-thin election between Christine Jennings (D) and Vern Buchanan (R) in Florida's 13th U.S. House Congressional district. Buchanan was provisionally seated, pending a Congressional challenge and state lawsuit filed by Jennings, after he was declared the "winner" by 369 votes.

The Sarasota, FL, Election Supervisor, Kathy Dent, decided against both having their machines patched to take care of the defect and posting a warning notice for voters as advised by ES&S. "No one in the State of Florida updated," their machines after receiving the letter, Dent told Henneberger. "That's because it was too close to the election. It was a state decision that it was too late to make changes."

Notably, as you'll see in the full letter as posted below, it was CC'd to David Drury, the Chief of Florida's Bureau of Voting Systems Certification. Drury, responsible for overseeing state certification of voting systems, in an extraordinary conflict of interest as we've noted several times previously, was part of the state team commissioned to audit the iVotronic systems used in the election. The commission was empaneled after the state was forced to relent and launch such an investigation in light of the controversy after their initial denials that there was any problem at all with the extraordinarily high undervote rate in the Sarasota-only section of the race.

The ES&S letter, as Henneberger noted, was only seen recently by Jennings's attorneys since "it was not provided to them by election officials as it should have been under discovery motions in the case," according to one of her attorneys.

Instead, the legal team came across the document only recently as posted "on a North Carolina-based website on election reform," according to Henneberger.

That website, as it turns out, is the NC Coalition for Verified Voting as founded by Election Integrity advocate Joyce McCloy. McCloy had attempted, both before and after the election, to get the attention of elections officials and the Jennings legal team. The letter, not linked by Henneberger, is posted here [PDF]. We've also posted the letter in full, as well, at the bottom of this article.

McCloy wrote The BRAD BLOG today expressing her frustration at trying to get anyone in Florida to take notice of the letter warning of "slow response times" to voters' attempts to select candidates on the ballot.

"I sent that memo (and my concerns) to anyone I could think of," McCloy explained in her email, "and this year to every election reform list serve that I could, posted it on political message boards. I asked and asked - has this bug been fixed?"

Apparently the answer is no; the bug was neither fixed, nor did Dent bother to warn voters in Sarasota about the problem as had been advised in the letter by ES&S.

As Henneberger reports today...

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

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By Alan Breslauer on 2/28/2007 11:37am PT  

Guest Blogged by Alan Breslauer

Wolf Blitzer asks Florida's new Republican Governor Charlie Crist if there could be a replay in 2008 of the "2000 election fiasco?" Crist believes that his budget recommendation, which calls for $32 million to be spent implementing a "paper trail" system (in actuality, he's called for the replacement of touch-screen systems with paper ballot-based optical-scan systems) will cure Florida's election problems. He also offers up this gem:

The most important thing we can do in democracy is to insure the democratic process and the integrity thereof. We feel very strongly about that in Florida.

However, when Wolf questions Crist about the 18,000 missing votes in "Orlando" from the 2006 election (he meant Sarasota in the still-contested FL-13 U.S. House race), Crist answers that his concern is "going forward." Thus, it seems Florida has felt very strongly about democracy for about three months now (who was running the place before Crist?). Not to be outdone, Wolf "presses" by holding his feet to the fire... asking a softball question...unrelated to Orlando Sarasota, about whether Florida will be "ready" by 2008.

Meanwhile, one would think that Americans would be a little more concerned about getting Florida elections right after experiencing the last six years of Bush. Yet, despite statistical evidence that all but guaranteed her victory in FL-13, Christine Jennings remains on the outside looking in. At least with Al Gore the mountains of evidence that he won Florida did not surface until after the Supreme Court gifted the election to Bush. With Jennings we do not have the luxury of such an excuse and it is inexcusable.

ADDENDUM BY BRAD: Wolf Blitzer is a complete and utter, unmitigated moron of indescribable proportions. Rivaled only in his utter and embarrassing cluelessness by Chris Wallace...And meanwhile, I have to beg for milk money. Amazing.

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Says State Report 'Provides Even More Compelling Reasons to Seek Investigation'...
By Brad Friedman on 2/23/2007 5:08pm PT  

The Christine Jennings (D) campaign has just sent us a statement concerning today's release of the state-commissioned audit of the flawed election during her race against Vern Buchanan (R) last November in Florida's 13th Congressional District.

See our earlier full coverage of the state reports here...

"The audit of Sarasota County’s voting system was flawed, incomplete, and provides even more compelling reasons for the Christine Jennings campaign to seek a thorough investigation by outside experts," the statement begins.

The complete Jennings statement follows below...

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

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Election Integrity Advocates Contesting Race Call Report 'A Whitewash,' Cite Partisan Makeup, Conflict of Interest, Flawed Test Methods of Audit Commission
Two State Reports Released Late Friday Afternoon Reveal Contested Results Imperiled by Extraordinarily Complex Touch-Screen Voting System...
By Brad Friedman on 2/23/2007 3:39pm PT  

Late this afternoon, the state of Florida released a state-commissioned audit report detailing their investigation into the contested U.S. House Election in Florida's 13th Congressional district between Christine Jennings (D) and Vern Buchanan (R).

In two lengthy and carefully worded reports, released along with a statement from the new Secretary of State, Kurt Browning (R), the state audit report [PDF] concludes that "The audit team found no evidence to suggest or conclude that the official certified election results did not reflect the actual votes cast."

A statement issued in response by People for the American Way (PFAW), who, along with VoterAction.org, are representing the voter plaintiffs contesting the election in the state, have described the report as "a whitewash." Their statement, posted in full at the end of this article, points to the partisan makeup and conflicts of interest in the commission empaneled by the state to examine the firmware of the paperless ES&S iVotronic touch-screen voting machines used in the race.

The report "is the result of a flawed process overseen by people with a stake in the outcome," said PFAW President Ralph Neas in the statement, which also details a number of other flaws in the state's "independent" commission.

Additionally, The BRAD BLOG has found that details in one of the reports actually contradict both Browning's statement and the conclusion of the state's official audit. The reports, as well, reveal a stultifyingly complex process being employed to manage the most basic point of any election: The simple task of adding one plus one plus one...

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

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Princeton Professor Listed as Team Member Reveals He Is Not on State Convened Panel
Yet More Reason to Doubt Credibility of Partisan, Interest-Conflicted Group of Scientists Said to be Investigating Failed U.S. House Race in Sarasota...
By Brad Friedman on 2/5/2007 1:17pm PT  

Blogged by Brad Friedman from Phoenix, AZ...

While Florida's new Republican Governor Charlie Crist deserves credit, perhaps even a rarely-bestowed BRAD BLOG "Intellectually Honest Conservative" Award --- for his recent announcement alongside Rep. Robert Wexler (D-FL) that he would propose some $32 million to replace the Sunshine State's failed touch-screen voting machines with paper-based optical scan systems, it seems that the old state guard is still lying and covering up for their failed e-voting systems which undermined democracy last November.

An article on the Crist/Wexler initiative from last Friday's New York Times offered this refreshing quote from the Florida Republican on concerns about the cost of tossing the state's recently purchased touch-screen systems: "The price of freedom is not cheap. The importance of a democratic system of voting that we can trust, that we can have confidence in, is incredibly important."

To that, we say, right on. But apparently the folks in Crist's Department of State (DOS) have yet to get the memo that it's time to stop covering up the massive electoral system failures in Florida.

In a blog item today by Princeton University's computer science Professor Ed Felten, he reveals that the state's "independent audit" of the contested 13th Congressional District election between Democrat Christine Jennings and Republican Vern Buchanan --- in which some 18,000 votes disappeared on Sarasota County's paperless touch-screen machines in a race decided by just 369 votes --- is built on more lies than previously realized.

The Princeton University professor who led the team that revealed Diebold touch-screen systems could be hacked in less than 60 seconds and implanted with a vote-stealing virus which could undetectedly flip an entire election has exposed yet another lie from the state-convened team of scientists supposedly investigating the FL-13 incident.

The audit team, convened by state officials at the FL Department of State, has been appropriately criticized for its partisan make-up, lack of transparency, and apparent conflicts of interest in demonstrating that they were not to blame for having certified the very voting systems they have charged themselves with "investigating."

Felten, however, has revealed the case is even worse than that. Apparently they have lied about who is actually on the team, listing Felten in official documents as one of the team members despite his early refusal to take part in the state-run investigation...

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

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Princeton's Computer Science Professor, Ed Felten, Begins to Look at the Failed Jennings/Buchanan U.S. House Race in Florida, But Seems to Buy Into a Flawed Theory and Solution
'Paper Trails' on Sarasota's Voting Machines Would Have Made the Situation Worse, Not Better...
By Brad Friedman on 1/30/2007 1:33pm PT  

Blogged by Brad Friedman from on the road...

To be clear, despite the headline, we don't mean to call Princeton's computer science professor Ed Felten "stupid" by any means. We do, however, mean to make clear --- in no uncertain terms --- that the oft-floated idea that adding so-called "paper trails" to failed, paperless ES&S touch-screen voting machines, such as those used in last November's U.S. House race in Sarasota between Christine Jennings (D) and Vern Buchanan (R), would not have avoided the situation we're now in. In fact, such "Voter Verified Paper Audit Trails" (VVPAT) added to Direct Recording Electronic (DRE/touch-screen) systems would likely make our current crisis of democracy worse instead of better.

As we've said before, DREs with or without a VVPAT are a threat to democracy. VVPATs are little more than a band-aid at best, and more likely serve only as a panacea to offer a false sense of security.

Adding a "paper trail" to a DRE/touch-screen system is like requiring a seat belt in a Ford Pinto; what good will the seat belts do when the Pinto explodes?

Today then, Princeton's Felten (he of the infamous Diebold Touch-Screen Virus Hack) has posted an article on his blog looking at what may have happened in the contested U.S. House race in Florida's 13th Congressional District between Jennings and Buchanan, in which some 18,000 votes seem to have disappeared completely on the paperless ES&S touch-screen voting machines. Just 369 votes separate the two candidates in the flawed state-certified final results.

In his essay, the first of a promised series to come this week, Felten correctly points out that the situation can only be attributed to problems with the ES&S voting machines themselves, since the undervote rate for the very same race in the very same county was a reasonable 2.5% on the paper absentee ballots, but jumped nearly 15% as recorded on the ES&S touch-screen machines.

Even ES&S's only expert witness so far to take the stand --- Dartmouth College's political (not computer) scientist, Michael Herron --- in the election contest down in Florida admitted that were it not for problems voters encountered in using those voting machines, Jennings likely would have been named the winner. That point was reported by Sarasota Herald Tribune who reported on the testimony this way: "Had those ballots been cast without problems, Jennings would have won by as many as 3,000 votes, according to the ES&S expert's statistical 'best guess.'" Reporting from both Wired News and our own discussions just after the testimony with Lowell Finley, the attorney for VoterAction.org, one of several non-partisan groups who argued the case on behalf of the Florida voter plaintiffs who joined Christine Jennings in filing an election contest, confirmed that point as well.

So the question --- for those legitimately trying to figure out what went wrong, as opposed to Buchanan and his supporters who simply want to claim the House seat as their own, even if it's an aberration of democracy --- is whether the problem was due to bad ballot design, machine malfunction, or, most likely, some combination of both. With just 369 votes between the two candidates in the state-certified final result (which is being challenged in both Florida courts and the U.S. House), virtually every analysis has determined that even a minor machine malfunction would likely have thrown the race to the Republican in the Democrat's strongest areas in Sarasota. That's where the largest undervote rates occured.

Felten's thesis, however, as he begins to discuss today in his first article on the topic, would seem to suggest --- incorrectly, in our view --- that a "paper trail" on those paperless touch-screens would have avoided this problem. We'll answer by suggesting it would only have made it worse.

In the meantime, an as-yet under-reported affidavit obtained by The BRAD BLOG from a poll worker, which accompanied a complaint filed by a Republican (yep, you read that right) in Sarasota who believes machine malfunction was clearly the culprit, seems to demonstrate clearly that a problem with the ES&S iVotronic system, not a problem finding the race on the ballot, was to blame for the massive undervote rate.

Couple that with two excellent reports from Daniel Hopsicker as filed last week (one here, the second here) analyzing, in crystal-clear detail, a number of contemporaneous news reports from Sarasota before, during, and after the election, it becomes very clear that machine failure was the problem in the FL-13 election and not "bad ballot design" --- the favored theory of folks hoping to keep the "provisionally seated" Buchanan in power.

Hopsicker's excellent review of those news reports, both as the problem was first emerging and just after the election, when voters' and poll workers' recollections were still fresh, reveals that voter and poll worker complaints at that time overwhelmingly focused on problems voters had casting their votes in particular races and not on problems finding particular races on the ballots!

We'll take a look at the complaint filed by the Republican mentioned above, along with the poll-worker affidavit, in a future report this week. But for now, we'll look at Felten's "Paper Trails Would Have Avoided the Problem" theory.

As Felten averred today...

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

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By Brad Friedman on 1/11/2007 7:56pm PT  

Melinda Henneberger interviews Christine Jennings, who would have won her race for the U.S. House in Florida's 13th district were it not for the ES&S touch-screen voting machines in Sarasota County, which robbed her (so far) of her rightful seat.

We guess candidates have to actually get screwed by these machines themselves before they are capable of fully appreciating the dangers about which we write here virtually every day. At the end of Henneberger's piece, she quotes Jennings in reference to some of the oft-ignored Election Integrity Advocates (like yours truly) who have long been trying to raise the reddest of flags. In this case, Jennings refers to the good folks of the Sarasota Alliance for Fair Elections (SAFE) with an "I'd wish I'd listened to them" sub-text impossible to ignore...

"Those people with the Sarasota Alliance for Fair Elections? I used to pat them on the back at Democratic meetings, but I had no idea. The vote is the great equalizer in this country - and when we've lost that, we've really lost something.''

So what will it take for the rest of the Democratic Party to start getting it?

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Voting Machine Company Claims Chairwoman's Missive 'An Attempt to Intimidate, Unduly Influence' Florida Court
Plaintiff Attorney Says Claim is 'Remarkable,' 'Takes a Lot of Chutzpah'
By Brad Friedman on 1/9/2007 9:46pm PT  

Describing it as a "threat...intended to interfere with the independence of the judiciary" in Florida's 13th Congressional District election contest, one of the defendants in the case, Elections Systems & Software, Inc. (ES&S), has filed a motion to strike a letter sent last week to Florida's appellate court from the Chair of the U.S. House Administration Committee, The BRAD BLOG has learned.

Attorneys for the plaintiffs describe the motion as "remarkable" and "a blatant thumb in the eye of Congress."

In her January 5th letter [PDF], the new Democratic chair of the committee, Juanita Millender-McDonald, responded to a lower court's decision at the end of the year refusing the release of the computer source code used on the paperless ES&S touch-screen systems during last November's contested election. Circuit Court Judge William L. Gary held in his decision at that time that the proprietary "trade secrets" of ES&S took precedence over Florida voters' right to know what actually occurred in their own U.S. House election.

The plaintiffs in the case --- Democrat Christine Jennings and several non-partisan election watchdog groups --- had requested review of the source code to aid in an independent expert investigation to help determine what went wrong when Sarasota's touch-screen systems, made by ES&S, failed to report some 18,000 votes in Jennings's race for the U.S. House against the Republican Vern Buchanan.

Buchanan was certified as the "winner" by the state of Florida despite his 369 vote margin and questions about the contest based on the extraordinarily high undervote rate on Sarasota County's voting systems. The still-unexplained undervote rate in the county was approximately five times higher than in the same race in neighboring counties, and similarly much higher than the undervote rate in the same race on the paper absentee ballots in the very same county.

In today's motion [PDF], obtained this afternoon by The BRAD BLOG, ES&S demands the court strike Millender-McDonald's letter from the record. They claim that it's an "unauthorized, non-party response" and that her letter was a "thinly veiled attempt...to intimidate this Court and unduly influence its deliberations in order to give Petitioner [Jennings], a member of Millender-McDonald's political party, an unwarranted advantage in this election contest."

That, despite the fact that Jennings has challenged the election in the U.S. House under the Federal Contested Elections Act and that a letter [PDF], similarly from the U.S. House Administration Committee --- then under Republican rule --- sent to a California court was instrumental and cited by the Judge in the dismissal of a contested U.S. House Special Election last summer between Brian Bilbray (R) and Francine Busby (D) in California's 50th district.

David Becker, a Senior Attorney at PFAW Foundation, one of the groups supporting the voter plaintiffs in the case, tells The BRAD BLOG that the claims made by ES&S in their motion "take a lot of chutzpah." ...

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

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Debra Bowen Appoints Lowell Finley of Election Integrity Watchdog Group VoterAction.org to Role of 'Deputy SoS for Voting Systems Technology and Policy'
[UPDATED] Critics of E-Voting Hail News as 'Collosal Suprise,' Very Good for Voters, Very Bad for the Nation's Electronic Voting Machine Companies...
By Brad Friedman on 1/8/2007 2:31pm PT  

It may not be a very good day in the corporate offices at Diebold, but The BRAD BLOG has learned some big news that may well indicate today is a very good day indeed for the voters of America and specifically in California.

As incoming Sec. of State Debra Bowen was sworn in to her new office just moments ago, The BRAD BLOG can now reveal that one of the nation's top critics of unverifiable electronic voting systems --- and a key player across several states in the legal battles against voting machine companies such as Diebold, ES&S, Sequoia Voting Systems, and Hart Intercivic --- is today being named by the new California Sec. of State Debra Bowen as Deputy SoS for Voting Systems Technology and Policy.

Lowell Finley, the lead attorney for the non-partisan voting machine legal watchdog organization VoterAction.org, will be named to the position today.

In his new capacity, Finley will oversee testing and certification for all voting machine technology in the State of California. In a phone call this morning, Finley confirmed that he would be working closely in his new role with key national associations like the National Institute for Science and Technology (NIST) and the U.S. Elections Assistance Commission (EAC).

E-voting critics and at least one California Registrar of Voters have hailed both the swearing in of Bowen as SoS and her appointment of Finley, expressing delight to The BRAD BLOG over the news, characterizing it as a "colossal surprise" and a "very, very good sign for the future of voters' rights in California."

America's voting machine companies are less likely to feel quite as happy about the news.

Finley and VoterAction have filed a number of landmark lawsuits in several states, including in California, over the past year or so, demanding an immediate halt to the use and purchase of Direct Recording Electronic (DRE/touch-screen) voting systems and decertification of many of those systems, as well as improved processes for certification of such systems.

VoterAction is one of over 30 Election Reform organizations who recently went on record with an open letter to Members of Congress demanding federal legislation requiring a paper ballot for every vote cast in America. Such legislation would effectively ban the use of DRE systems, with or without a so-callled "Voter Verified Paper Trail" (VVPAT).

Bowen has been a dogged critic of former Secretary of State Bruce McPherson during her candidacy and in her role overseeing the Elections Committee as a California State Senator. She has criticized his lack of oversight and lax testing procedures, and has championed a "Voters' Bill of Rights" for the Golden State.

While a suit by VoterAction.org filed against former SoS McPherson and several CA Registrars of Voting --- concerning McPherson's certification of Diebold TSx touch-screen systems --- is still pending in state court, the disposition of that suit will likely change due to the fact that the lead defendant, McPherson, is no longer in office.

The Berkeley-based attorney Finley --- also one of the attorneys representing voter plaintiffs in the contested election in Florida's 13th Congressional district in Sarasota --- had one of his most recent and notable successes last September, when a Colorado judge ordered a complete review of certification procedures for voting machines in the state. The court found the official placed in charge of testing and certification didn't have the qualifications necessary, and performed little or no testing. That man, John Gardner, was appointed by former CO Sec. of State Donetta Davidson, who has been appointed by George W. Bush to head the U.S. Elections Assistance Commission.

The news of Finley's appointment will undoubtedly be of concern to the major voting machine companies that received little oversight from the former Sec. of State McPherson.

"I wish I was a fly on the wall in the offices at Diebold as they learn of this appointment. I'm sure jaws will be dropping and damage control will be ramping up," John Gideon of election watchdog organization VotersUnite.org told us today. (Gideon is also a frequent Guest Blogger here at The BRAD BLOG.) ...

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

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Letter Could be Precursor to Congressional Subpeona as Necessary...
By Brad Friedman on 1/5/2007 3:18pm PT  

Congresswoman Juanita Millender-McDonald, the new chair of the U.S. House Administration Committee, has sent a letter to the Florida Court of Appeals currently reviewing the absurd decision made late in the day on the last day the year by circuit court Judge William L. Gary to disallow release of the source code from the paperless ES&S touch-screen voting machines to the plaintiffs who have requested it in the state election contest in the U.S. House race in Florida's 13th district.

Gary found at the time that release of the material would "result in destroying or at least gutting the protections afforded those who own the trade secrets." In other words, the private corporate interests of the ES&S voting machine company was more important than allowing Florida voters to try and determine the valid winner of an election.

The election is one of five now being contested in the U.S. House under the Federal Contested Elections Act, and we'd suggest Millender-McDonald's letter may serve as a precursor warning to the courts that the committee may use their subpeona power to get at the source code if the Florida courts refuse to allow its release.

Electronic Frontier Foundation covers the news here with the short letter itself linked here [PDF].

It is [...] of concern that the parties have been unable to agree upon, and that, on December 29th, the lower court declined to order, the requested access to the hardware and software (including the source code) needed to test the contestant's central claim: voting machine malfunction.
...
[T]he House is well served in its own deliberations by having before it a complete record. Consequently, Florida law will facilitate the evaluation of the election contest pending before the House to the extent that it provides access to relevant and critical evidence. I am confident that this can be done in a way that accommodates the valid interests of the parties, and resolution of these issues may obviate the need for the House to address them.
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Two Media Releases Issued On the Conditional Seating of U.S. House Candidates
By Brad Friedman on 1/4/2007 4:11pm PT  

Two groups have issued media releases concerning the provisional seating of Congressional candidates in the U.S. House.

Both releases laud Congressman Rush Holt (D-NJ) for championing the challenges in the U.S. House.

The first one, issued yesterday by a representative from the Democratic Clint Curtis campaign, points out that there are four Florida elections being contested in the House under the Federal Contested Elections Act, including Curtis's race in Florida's 24th district against the corrupt Republican Tom Feeney (whose violation of House travel rules seems to have been discovered by the Ethics Committee last summer, but was only announced yesterday along with a gentle rap on the wrist and a polite request that he cough up the money equivalent to what Feeney estimates was paid by Jack Abramoff for Feeney to go and play golf with him in Scotland).

In addition to the FL-24 Curtis/Feeney challenge and the FL-13 Christine Jennings(D)/Vern Buchanan(R) race, the release also states that challenges have been filed in the FL-5 John Russell(D)/Ginny Brown-Waite(R) contest (Update: Tampa Tribune catches up, posts details here.) and the FL-21 Frank Gonzales(D)/Lincoln Diaz-Balart(R) race.

Though they didn't mention those last two races, USA Today reported yesterday that the election in Louisiana's 4th district between Patti Cox (D) and Jim McCrery (R) is also being contested on the allegation that McCrery isn't actually a resident of the district, or even the state.

The second news release is from People for the America Way (PFAW) today and focuses on the Jennings/Buchanan touch-screen debacle in FL-13, where PFAW is one of the groups contesting the election in State court and calling for a revote.

In a comment sent to The BRAD BLOG last night from Holt's office in reply to the Curtis statement, the office says Holt's actions in the House "will focus on Christine Jennings and FL-13, but the ruling will apply broadly." As well, they say that while Holt will be "championing the cause of anyone who has a pending legal or official house electoral contest, the genesis of his involvement is certainly with" Jennings and that he's "more able to attest to the merits of her case."

The fight to ensure that the voice of the voters is heard --- and heard accurately and legally --- continues. Both releases are posted in full below...

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

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Judge finds Plaintiffs' Request for 'Access to Trade Secrets' of ES&S Would 'Result in Destroying, Gutting' Voting Machine Company's 'Protections,' Rules Jennings's, Voters' Motion Based on 'Nothing More Than Conjecture'
[FURTHER STORY UPDATES] Plaintiffs Announce They Will Appeal Decision, Additional Late Details on Congressional Challenge to House Seating of Buchanan...
By Brad Friedman on 12/29/2006 1:27pm PT  

In a ruling issued this afternoon just prior to the Holiday weekend, the presiding Florida Circuit Court Judge William L. Gary denied the plaintiffs motion to allow review of the source code for the paperless touch-screen machines used in the contested U.S. House race in Florida's 13th district between Democrat Christine Jennings and Republican Vern Buchanan.

Jennings, and a number of Florida voters and Election Integrity organizations, had filed suit asking for a revote and to allow them to review the software used on the voting machines made by Election Systems and Software, Inc. (ES&S), after some 18,000 votes seemed to have disappeared in the race to fill the U.S. House seat vacated by former FL Secretary of State Katherine Harris. The state has previously certified Buchanan as the winner by a 369 vote margin.

Gary's terse ruling [PDF], issued this afternoon denying the motion to compel the company to turn over their source code, states that ES&S has a right to keep their software hidden from review by both the Jennings camp and voters, supporting the company's "right" to keep their "trade secrets" protected.

An audit of the machines was previously conducted by a panel convened by the state. The various plaintiff groups had roundly criticized both the make-up of the panel and the procedures used during the testing, characterizing it as an "exercise in futility." The panel was led by a known hard-right Republican partisan and included the state's own official responsible for voting machine certification. No independent Election Integrity advocates were included on the panel.

That audit --- to nobody's surprise --- revealed no problems in the hardware or software as tested. But the plaintiffs have argued that only an independent investigation of the source code used on the Direct Recording Electronic (DRE) voting machines might reveal reasons for the inexplicably large undervote rate in the race, more than 12%, only found on Sarasota's paperless touch-screen systems. Absentee paper balloting in the county, and on voting machines in other counties which make up the FL-13 district, revealed no such anomalous undervote rate. Undervote rates on paper absentee ballots in the same race, in the same county, were just over 2.5%.

Neither the Buchanan camp, nor anyone else, has been able to give a credible explanation for the disparity.

Gary's ruling denying Plaintiffs' motion to examine the voting machine source code finds that:

D. The machines now challenged were tested as required by law prior to the early voting and election day voting and were found to be working properly.

E. Because the election was a close one and due to Plaintiffs' allegations an audit was conducted on the voting system to verify its accuracy.

F. Two parallel tests were conducted on the subject screen systems and representatives of both Plaintiffs and Defendants were present. The test results revealed 100% accuracy of the equipment in reporting the vote selections.

G. Plaintiffs have presented no evidence to demonstrate that the parallel testing was flawed and or the results not valid.

H. The testimony of Plaintiffs' experts was nothing more than conjecture and not supported by credible evidence.

I. For this Court to grant Plaintiffs' motions would require this Court to find that it is reasonably necessary for the Plaintiffs to have access to the trade secrets of Defendant, Election Systems & Software, Inc., based on nothing more than speculation and conjecture, and would result in destroying or at least gutting the protections afforded those who own the trade secrets.

The plaintiffs had been requesting a revote for the election in the Florida circuit court. Jennings has filed a contest in the U.S. Congress, under the Constitutional provision which allows the House to determine the seating of members. When the new Congress convenes in January they must decide whether to seat Buchanan as is, seat him provisionally, seat Jennings instead, or leave the seat vacant, essentially forcing a Special Election in FL-13, or take some other action.

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

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Editorial Says it's 'Game Over' for DRE Voting Machines --- With or Without a So-Called 'Paper Trail'
By Brad Friedman on 12/26/2006 3:30pm PT  

The Orlando Sentinel sends me a Christmas gift. While it's not exactly that I may have asked for, this being the charitable season I'll look the other way and be thankful for what I got. Particularly as the Sentinel (or the Slantinel as some in the Sunshine State aptly refer to it) has never been particularly democracy-friendly.

Here then, a few highlights from their weekend editorial entitled "Drop touch-screens - Our position: It's time to pull the plug on the failed experiment of electronic voting"...

Nothing is more sacred or vital to the survival of democracy than the ability to cast a vote with the confidence that vote will be counted accurately.
...
Whatever happens in the race between Ms. Jennings and Mr. Buchanan, one thing is clear: The experiment with touch-screen voting is a failure. Florida and other states should scrap touch-screens and use the pen-and-paper ballots of the optical-scan method, allowing a verifiable, independent recount.
...
[P]aper-trail systems present other problems. Printers can jam and run out of paper. There is ample evidence that today's touch-screen machines are too complicated for volunteer poll workers to handle, and adding a printer would only make that worse.
...
[S]aving money is the last reason to use these flawed touch-screen machines. If we are going to spend money on anything, it should be on elections.

Generations of soldiers have paid a much higher price in securing the right to vote from themselves and others, fighting and dying in places like Lexington and Concord to Kabul and Baghdad.

Let's remember that the hard-fought right to vote isn't worth much without the confidence the votes will count.

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By Brad Friedman on 12/26/2006 6:05am PT  

We hinted at this last week when Florida's corrupt Rep. Tom Feeney (R-Abramoff) expressed his obnoxious indignation over the democratic (small "d") Congressional election challenge filed by Christine Jennings (D) against Vern Buchanan (R) in the FL-13 U.S. House race. This is the contest in which the perpetually election-challenged state of Florida certified Buchanan as the winner by 369 votes, even though some 18,000 votes seem to have disappeared altogether on Sarasota County's paperless ES&S touch-screen voting machines.

The challenge brought Feeney slithering out from under his rock to charge that Jennings' Constitutional request that Congress not seat Buchanan --- who appears to have "won" only due to failures in Sarasota's voting equipment (which even ES&S's own "expert witness" admitted on the witness stand during a hearing on the election contests filed by both Jennings and voters in Florida) --- amounted to "total political dictatorship."

At least that's what Feeney told the Orlando Sentinel at the time.

What he doesn't seem to have told them is that he too is the object of a similar Constitutional challenge in Congress by his own opponent, Clint Curtis, in the race for U.S. House in Florida's 24th district.

Curtis, who originally exposed Feeney's alleged attempt to create touch-screen vote-rigging software back in 2000 (a story broken by The BRAD BLOG in 2004 and followed in detail ever since), campaigned to unseat Feeney this year for the first time, but was declared the loser. Curtis disagrees.

Warren Stewart at VoteTrustUSA covered both the Curtis and Jennings challenges on the Thursday before XMas weekend, along with a posting of the complaints filed by both candidates (Curtis' complaint here, Jennings's complaint here, both in WORD format) as filed in Congress. We've yet to review either complaint or discuss them with either candidate personally, so we'll refer to Stewart's coverage and the actual complaints for the moment and let you people do some work for a change. ;-)

The Orlando Sentinel, however, picked up on the story of Curtis's challenge on Xmas Eve in a brief post in their "This Just In" section. Here's the full item...

Curtis down, but he's not out --- right?

Clint Curtis, who challenged Rep. Tom Feeney, R-Oviedo, in the general election, lost by nearly 28,000 votes. Or did he? Curtis, a Democrat whose campaign centered on questioning the integrity of the nation's vote-counting system, has filed formal notice of an election challenge with the U.S. House of Representatives.

Among the charges is that official voting results are "wrong, unreliable and not worthy of any election in this country." Why? Mishandling of election laws, malfunctioning voting machines and --- wait for it --- the likelihood that affidavits furnished by Curtis from voters who say they voted for him will add up to more than the totals reflected in the official record.

Whew! Stay tuned.

Stay tuned, indeed...The saga continues...

For more info on The BRAD BLOG's continuing investigative series on
The Clint Curtis/Tom Feeney/Yang Enterprises Vote-Rigging Scandal series, please see:
- A Quick Summary of the story so far.
- An Index of all the Key Articles & Evidence in the series so far.
- Curtis ran for U.S. Congress against Feeney in 2006.
For more info, see: www.ClintCurtis.com
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By Alan Breslauer on 12/23/2006 12:47pm PT  

Guest Blogged by Alan Breslauer


Christine Jennings and her lawyer, Kendall Coffey, appeared Wednesday on Lou Dobbs Tonight with guest host Kitty Pilgrim to discuss the latest news concerning Florida's 13th Congressional District. As BRAD BLOG has reported often (most recently here, here and here), Vern Buchanan was declared the winner in Florida's 13th after the disappearance of 18,000 votes left the Republican with a paltry 369 vote lead over his opponent Jennings. Subsequently, a handful of experts including one provided by e-voting manufacturer ES&S, concluded that the inclusion of the missing votes would have propelled Jennings to an easy victory based on an analysis of the Sarasota votes which did not spontaneously combust.

Unfortunately, the will of the people is a foreign concept among those controlling the Florida election apparatus which declared Buchanan the winner after recounting nothing a couple of times. With no paper trail (much less a paper BALLOT, and there is a big difference!), a "recount" merely refers to state election staffers testing whether a few selected machines are working properly and is entirely unrelated to the vote count. By certifying Buchanan the winner, the state forced Jennings to seek relief in the Florida courts.

This did not sit well with Sean Hannity who, with Buchanan on as a guest a few weeks ago, found the entire affair "unbelievable" and further evidence that Democrats are sore losers. Juxtaposing the Hannity clip as well as Tom Feeney's reaction to the election controversy, recounted by Brad here, to Jennings appearance on CNN (clip above right), makes for quite an interesting experiment. While hardly evidence that could be used in a court of law like the damning statistical evidence, the contrast is, nevertheless, telling.

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