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Latest Featured Reports | Thursday, August 21, 2014
Rep. Hank Johnson on Ferguson and His Bill to Stop Police Militarization:
KPFK 'BradCast'
The Democratic U.S. Congressman from Georgia's 4th district joins Brad...
Republicans Call Ferguson Voter Registration 'Disgusting'
Rightwingers decry effort 'to register Democratic voters' following the killing of Michael Brown. But who said anything about 'Democratic voters'?...
Seriously, Ferguson Police?
The front page of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reminds again how ridiculous the era of post-9/11 Wars has become, as does yet another comparison to the Bundy Bunch...
'Green News Report' 8/19/14
  w/ Brad & Desi
Oregon nixes coal export facility; July 2014 4th hottest; Fracking industry illegally using diesel fuel, threatening water; PLUS GOP officials secretly accept climate science...
Previous GNRs: 8/14/14 - 8/12/14 - Archives...
Yes, Elections Still Matter: Brad on 'David Pakman Show'
With so many corrupt, corporatist politicians, even on the Democratic side, does voting and fighting voter suppression still even matter?...
Tale of Two Protests
The armed Bundy Bunch and the unarmed peaceful protesters of Ferguson -- one group was courageous enough to have possibly brought substantive, positive change to the nation...
97-Year Old Loses Right to Vote in KS for Lack of Photo ID
Kansas Sec. of State and long-time Republican 'voter fraud' fraudster Kris Kobach wins another one, as senior citizens turned away without voting on Primary Election Day...
'Green News Report' 8/14/14
  w/ Brad & Desi
Historic storms, floods from NE to MI to NY, as CA breaks more heat records; China dumping coal, breaking solar records; PLUS: Jimmy Carter slams climate-denying 'nutcases'...
Previous GNRs: 8/12/14 - 8/5/14 - Archives...
News Summer from Hell Continues:
KPFK 'BradCast'
Peace activist and author David Swanson joins Brad to explain why using military force in Iraq, even to stop a genocide, is a terrible idea. PLUS: Much more...
Journalists Now Being Arrested in Ferguson
Reporters pulled out of a McDonald's by militarized police while covering protests of police killing of Michael Brown. Freedom-fighting 'Tea Party' 'patriots' still AWOL...
'Green News Report' 8/12/14
Is weather now more extreme?; ExxonMobil begins drilling with Russia in the Arctic; Methane rising; PLUS: U.S. underestimated Keystone XL emissions...
CA Supremes Nix Corporate Personhood 'Advisory Measure' from 2014 Ballot
Prop 49, a CA ballot initiative calling on Congress to amend the Constitution, will not be allowed on this year's ballot after all...
SIEGELMAN JUDGE ARRESTED FOR BATTERY
Controversial Republican federal judge Mark Fuller charged with beating wife; Daughter of AL's former, now-jailed Governor calls news 'shocking', 'karma'...
Keystone XL Emissions Vastly Underestimated by State Dept.: New Report
Independent study finds carbon pollution may increase four times the amount previously predicted by U.S....
1 BILLION Votes, 31 POSSIBLE Cases of Fraud
Law professor and voting rights expert reveals startling new numbers underscoring the massive, years long GOP polling place Photo ID restriction scam...
GOP Rep Decries 'Disgusting, Despicable Smear Campaign' After Primary Election
In his victory speech, Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI) lashed out at his U.S. Chamber-backed Republican opponents...
NATIONWIDE STUDY FINDS ALMOST NO VOTER FRAUD
Just 10 cases of in-person impersonation in all 50 states since 2000...
VIDEO: 'Rise of the Tea Bags'
Brad interviews American patriots...
'Democracy's Gold Standard'
Hand-marked, hand-counted ballots...
Brad's Upcoming Appearances
(All times listed as PACIFIC TIME unless noted)
Media Appearance Archives...
'Special Coverage' Archives
GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal 2012...
VA GOP VOTER REG FRAUDSTER OFF HOOK
Felony charges dropped against VA Republican caught trashing voter registrations before last year's election. Did GOP AG, Prosecutor conflicts of interest play role?...

Criminal GOP Voter Registration Fraud Probe Expanding in VA
State investigators widening criminal probe of man arrested destroying registration forms, said now looking at violations of law by Nathan Sproul's RNC-hired firm...

DOJ PROBE SOUGHT AFTER VA ARREST
Arrest of RNC/Sproul man caught destroying registration forms brings official calls for wider criminal probe from compromised VA AG Cuccinelli and U.S. AG Holder...

Arrest in VA: GOP Voter Reg Scandal Widens
'RNC official' charged on 13 counts, for allegely trashing voter registration forms in a dumpster, worked for Romney consultant, 'fired' GOP operative Nathan Sproul...

ALL TOGETHER: ROVE, SPROUL, KOCHS, RNC
His Super-PAC, his voter registration (fraud) firm & their 'Americans for Prosperity' are all based out of same top RNC legal office in Virginia...

LATimes: RNC's 'Fired' Sproul Working for Repubs in 'as Many as 30 States'
So much for the RNC's 'zero tolerance' policy, as discredited Republican registration fraud operative still hiring for dozens of GOP 'Get Out The Vote' campaigns...

'Fired' Sproul Group 'Cloned', Still Working for Republicans in At Least 10 States
The other companies of Romney's GOP operative Nathan Sproul, at center of Voter Registration Fraud Scandal, still at it; Congressional Dems seek answers...

FINALLY: FOX ON GOP REG FRAUD SCANDAL
The belated and begrudging coverage by Fox' Eric Shawn includes two different video reports featuring an interview with The BRAD BLOG's Brad Friedman...

COLORADO FOLLOWS FLORIDA WITH GOP CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION
Repub Sec. of State Gessler ignores expanding GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal, rants about evidence-free 'Dem Voter Fraud' at Tea Party event...

CRIMINAL PROBE LAUNCHED INTO GOP VOTER REGISTRATION FRAUD SCANDAL IN FL
FL Dept. of Law Enforcement confirms 'enough evidence to warrant full-blown investigation'; Election officials told fraudulent forms 'may become evidence in court'...

Brad Breaks PA Photo ID & GOP Registration Fraud Scandal News on Hartmann TV
Another visit on Thom Hartmann's Big Picture with new news on several developing Election Integrity stories...

CAUGHT ON TAPE: COORDINATED NATIONWIDE GOP VOTER REG SCAM
The GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal reveals insidious nationwide registration scheme to keep Obama supporters from even registering to vote...

CRIMINAL ELECTION FRAUD COMPLAINT FILED AGAINST GOP 'FRAUD' FIRM
Scandal spreads to 11 FL counties, other states; RNC, Romney try to contain damage, split from GOP operative...

RICK SCOTT GETS ROLLED IN GOP REGISTRATION FRAUD SCANDAL
Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL) sends blistering letter to Gov. Rick Scott (R) demanding bi-partisan reg fraud probe in FL; Slams 'shocking and hypocritical' silence, lack of action...

VIDEO: Brad Breaks GOP Reg Fraud Scandal on Hartmann TV
Breaking coverage as the RNC fires their Romney-tied voter registration firm, Strategic Allied Consulting...

RNC FIRES NATIONAL VOTER REGISTRATION FIRM FOR FRAUD
After FL & NC GOP fire Romney-tied group, RNC does same; Dead people found reg'd as new voters; RNC paid firm over $3m over 2 months in 5 battleground states...

EXCLUSIVE: Intvw w/ FL Official Who First Discovered GOP Reg Fraud
After fraudulent registration forms from Romney-tied GOP firm found in Palm Beach, Election Supe says state's 'fraud'-obsessed top election official failed to return call...

GOP REGISTRATION FRAUD FOUND IN FL
State GOP fires Romney-tied registration firm after fraudulent forms found in Palm Beach; Firm hired 'at request of RNC' in FL, NC, VA, NV & CO...
The Secret Koch Brothers Tapes...


Presidential Candidate Becomes First to Join Growing Movement When Queried About Issue at Campaign Event in California
Edwards Becomes Second Politician in a Week to Announce Support for the Election Integrity Movement After Being Asked About it at Public Event
By Brad Friedman on 3/3/2007 11:05pm PT  

While it's unlikely to get as much attention as Ann Coulter calling him a "faggot" during her speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) last night, The BRAD BLOG has learned that John Edwards is the first Presidential Candidate to announce his support for a growing movement calling for a ban on the use of all Direct Recording Electronic (DRE, usually touch-screen) voting systems in American elections.

The BRAD BLOG was contacted late last night by Progressive Democrats of America (PDA) Board Chair Mimi Kennedy with the news that during a campaign event in Los Angeles Edwards agreed to join her organization in calling for an end to electronic ballots in American elections.

PDA has been one of many groups calling for the ban and other important amendments to Rep. Rush Holt's (D-NJ) new Election Reform bill (HR 811), recently introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Kennedy, an activist and actress well known for her role as Dharma's mother on ABC's Dharma and Greg, told The BRAD BLOG that during a Q & A period following his address last night, she asked Edwards whether he would join PDA in their campaign calling for "the complete removal of all Touch-Screen Direct Record Electronic voting machines from U.S. elections, with or without a paper trail."

Drawing an "X" in the air as the question was being asked, Edwards --- who was reportedly upset at Sen. John Kerry's decision not to contest the 2004 Presidential Election count, or lack thereof, in Ohio --- answered with a definitive "Yes!"

"Yes!" echoed Kennedy in response as the audience reportedly cheered and applauded.

Edwards's public support for a ban on DRE voting systems follows just over a week after Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA) was asked a related question by an Election Integrity advocate at a public event at the University of California/Santa Cruz. Waters announced, in response to the query, that she would be withdrawing her co-sponsorship of the Holt bill in the wake of the growing concerns about several troubling shortcomings in the proposed legislation.

Kennedy attended the event, sponsored by the Pacific Palisades Democratic Club, with friend and former TAXI co-star Rhea Perlman, who unsuccessfully tried to video tape the Q & A session on her cell phone. The BRAD BLOG is attempting to locate a complete video of the event and we'll update this item if and when we do.

Before an audience estimated at 400, Kennedy rose and said to the former Vice-Presidential candidate...

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

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First Subpoenas Issued by Dems Since Taking Control of Congress...
By Brad Friedman on 3/1/2007 3:51pm PT  

As The BRAD BLOG reported yesterday would happen today, the U.S. House Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on Administrative Law has today voted to issue subpoenas in the matter of the forced firing of U.S. Attorneys at the Dept. of Justice after pressure from higher-ups.

According to a statement just received by The BRAD BLOG (full statement posted below), the subcommittee voted to issue subpoenas requiring former U.S. Attorneys David C. Iglesias, Carol Lam, H.E. Cummins, III, and John McKay to appear at a hearing next Tuesday.

"The former U.S. Attorneys are alleging very serious charges against the Administration and we need to hear from them," Judiciary Chairman John Conyers (D-MI) says in his statement. "We want to hear their stories and we want the Administration to address the charges head on so that we can get to the bottom of this."

The subpoenas, issued as a "last resort" according to subcommittee Chairwoman, Linda Sánchez (D-CA), are the first to be issued by the Democrats since taking control of Congress.

We must run, so we'll refer you to the full statement below for more details for the moment...

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

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Common Cause Election Issue Rep Relies on Same Old Discredited Talking Point Chestnuts to Avoid Calling for Ban of DRE/Touch-Screen Voting Machines
Link to Complete Text-Transcript, Audio...
By Brad Friedman on 3/1/2007 3:38pm PT  

Last Friday, during my regular weekly appearance on The Peter B. Collins Show, Susannah Goodman of Common Cause was invited to join us for a discussion of the Holt Election Reform Bill (HR811).

Common Cause is one of the groups which currently supports the bill as is, and doesn't believe it's necessary to amend it to require a full ban on DRE (Direct Recording Electronic, usually touch-screen) voting systems. As we've discussed here in some detail, a number of these large public advocacy groups, such as Common Cause, People for the American Way (PFAW), MoveOn, and VoteTrustUSA have been not only supporting the Holt bill, but using disingenuous and/or very weak and/or very naive talking points to back up their support for the bill.

Susannah used most of those talking points in our discussion/debate from last Friday. I take no particular joy in pointing this out, or the similar behavior of the other groups, or Holt's office themselves, in regard to all of this. I believe them to essentially be "good guys" on these matters, but on this point, they are dangerously and irresponsibly wrong, in my opinion. Heading into another Presidential Election, still using disenfranchising DRE systems is a recipe for potential disaster that America simply cannot afford after two previously questionable (putting it kindly) elections.

The entire text transcript may be read online, along with the full audio, posted here...

Here's a quick sampling of our discussion...

BRAD: Susannah suggested that someone here is calling for a hand count [of paper ballots]. I’m not. I know that there’s a lot of folks who are and that’s fine by me. There are some places that do do hand counting – up in New Hampshire, I believe, they do some hand counting. But the point is, she had mentioned going back and counting 3% of the ballots in an audit later on. My question is why Susannah, or anyone else, wouldn’t be in favor of counting 100% of the ballots in the first place, using those optical scan machines or a hand count, either one. … Why wouldn’t we just count these ballots, these paper ballots, in the first place on Election Day? That’s what we need. That’s what Americans need…

PBC: And Susannah, in an ideal world I imagine you’d support elimination of the DREs. But do you think that’s an achievable goal in the near term, either by ’08 or 2010?

GOODMAN: Well, I actually think it’s a bit of a red herring. I mean, I think that, as Brad was saying, you know, you could take 100% of those ballots and you still scan them through an optical scanner. That’s still electronic.

BRAD: No problem. That’s great.

GOODMAN: It’s - the counting piece of this is electronic and it’s, it will absolutely, 100%, there will be a time when it absolutely fails, because it’s a machine and machines break.

BRAD: Well, that’s right, but we’ll have a paper ballot that’s been marked by the voter that they’ll be able to then go back and check, by any means necessary. We will not have that with the touch-screen system. And I’d be interested in - Peter said that you assumed that she’d be, Susannah would be in favor of banning those DREs. I’d like to actually know where Common Cause and Susannah is – would you guys be in favor of a ban on touch-screen voting machines?

GOODMAN: I, that’s not where we are, and the reason is that, I really see this bill as, I mean, what you have in, for example in New Mexico, is there are people that can mark a ballot by hand, but there are people that cannot mark a ballot by hand, because they have a vision impairment, or they’re blind, or they don’t have use of their hands, and…

Full transcript here...

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Tavis Smiley Asks Rep. Waxman Who Is To Blame For Missing Billions In Iraq
By Alan Breslauer on 3/1/2007 12:23pm PT  

Guest Blogged by Alan Breslauer

California Representative (and mine) Henry Waxman, the Chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, answers questions about Iraq last night with Tavis Smiley on PBS. After Waxman explains how at least $12 billion allocated for Iraqi reconstruction went missing, an incredulous Smiley states:

Can I ask a real simple question? Who would be in our government, so stuck on stupid, such an idiot, as to fly $12 billion in cash into a war zone.

Waxman lays most of the blame on the Republican-led Congress which failed in its oversight responsibilities. Similarly deplorable is what the reconstruction effort accomplished, considering Iraq's billions and our own additional $20 billion. According to Waxman:

The oil production is behind prewar levels. The electricity doesn't even last eight hours in Baghdad. In some places they have no electricity at all. And electricity is below prewar levels. Even drinking water is not available, and if you are going to measure it, it is not as good as it was before the war.

But while "Iraqis and the American people are not better off" for the war, Waxman does identify one group that has made out extraordinarily well:

But the ones who are really better off are all these contractors. Haliburton, Bechtel, all these different big contractors. They got mega mega monopoly contracts. They subcontracted and the subcontractors subcontracted and there are layers of costs on top of layers of costs. A lot of people made money out this who were the contractors.
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AlterNet Runs a Freshened-Up Version of BRAD BLOG's Story From Last Week
PLUS: New Holt Election Reform Bill 'Special Coverage' Page Now Live at BRAD BLOG...
By Brad Friedman on 2/28/2007 8:42pm PT  

AlterNet's front page today is featuring a fresh version of my story from last week on the false dichotomies being forwarded by Rep. Rush Holt (D-NJ) and the supporters of his Election Reform bill, HR 811 [PDF], as written. It outlines the unsupported talking points and disingenuous arguments being made to prop up the failings of the bill (most notably, its failure to ban DREs) by Holt's office as well as his public-advocacy group supporters like PFAW, Common Cause, MoveOn, VoteTrustUSA, etc...

The original BRAD BLOG version was here. The updated Alternet version (including a bit more background on the brouhaha for newbies is here: "False Choices in the Debate on Voting Technology"

I've also now set up a new "Special Coverage" page for the Holt Bill Debate here: www.BradBlog.com/Holt. It includes the most notable BRAD BLOG stories since the bill dropped, as well as essential articles and calls to action elsewhere. I hope it'll be a useful source. It's also always available from the red "Special Coverage" box in the right sidebar.

Also related...A new "Anti-DRE Talking Points" document from VotersUnite.org (HTML version with links & grafs..., 2-Page PDF version...) features simple bullet-points on why DRE/touch-screen voting systems must be banned and the urgent need to reform the Holt bill to ensure it. Both versions of that doc are also linked from the new Holt Special Coverage page.

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'Subpoenas will be Issued,' Says House Judiciary Aide in Advance of Tomorrow's Vote, Next Week's Hearings
ALSO: House Judiciary Committee Will Hold Hearings Next Wednesday on 'Election Reform and Irregularities'
By Brad Friedman on 2/28/2007 4:48pm PT  

Two media statements released from members of the U.S. House Judiciary Committee indicate that subpoenas will soon be issued in the matter of the allegedly coerced firings of U.S. Attorneys in the Department of Justice. A vote will take place tomorrow in the Subcommittee on Commercial and Administrative Law on whether to issue the subpoenas to Justice Dept. officials Carol Lam, David Iglesias, H.E. Cummins, III, and John McKay to compel them to appear before a subcommittee hearing next week.

As well, The BRAD BLOG has learned the Judiciary Committee will also hold hearings next week on matters related to "Election Reform and Irregularities."

According to a Committee staffer, "subpoenas will be issued" tomorrow in the U.S. Attorney matter. If so, it would be the first time the Democrats have exercised their newly-gained subpoena power since wresting control of Congress from Republicans...

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

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Comparison of Voting Data from 2004 to 2006 Shows Hispanic Undervote Plunged 69% as the 'Civil Rights' Case for DREs Continues to Fall Apart
ALSO: New Concerns Emerge About Racial Profiling vis a vis Touch-Screen Voting Systems...
By Brad Friedman on 2/26/2007 11:50am PT  

"We were looking for any impact the change to paper ballots may have had on New Mexico’s historically high undervote rate. When we found the dramatic drop in Native American precincts, we were shocked," says New Mexico's Theron Horton. The Election Defense Alliance (EDA) activist added, "something was going on with the DREs in those precincts in 2004."

Something indeed.

Details now out from New Mexico reveal that undervote rates dropped precipitously in both Native American and Hispanic areas after the state moved from DRE (Direct Recording Electronic touch-screen) voting systems in 2004 to paper-based optical-scan systems in 2006. In Native American areas, undervote rates plummeted some 85%. In Hispanic communities, the rate dropped by 69% according to the precinct data reviewed by EDA, VotersUnite.org and VoteTrustUSA.org.

Ellen Theisen, then-Executive Director of VotersUnite.org, reviewed the original high undervote rates in the state after the 2004 elections, but hadn't broken it down to compare DRE/touch-screen vs. Op-Scan precincts. "When I heard of Theron’s work," Theisen says in today's press release, "I performed the comparison, and found that it’s the paper ballots that made the difference in the minority precincts.”

New Mexico banned the use of DREs across the state after their disastrous experience with Sequoia touch-screen voting machines during the 2004 Presidential Election. They now require a paper ballot for every vote cast statewide.

As he signed the bill which banned DREs into law in early 2006, New Mexico's Gov. Bill Richardson wrote a letter to Election Officials in all 50 states, warning that while "some believe that computer touch screen machines are the future of electoral systems...the technology simply fails to pass the test of reliability."

"One person, one vote is in jeopardy if we do not act boldly and immediately," Richardson implored, while decrying the failures of DREs in his state and supporting paper ballots. "When a vote is cast, a vote should be counted," he wrote.

The BRAD BLOG has reported on the urgent need to ban disenfranchising DRE voting systems --- with or without a so-called "paper trail" --- from all American elections.

Here's an easy to understand graph from the short, two-page report [PDF] published on the New Mexico data over the weekend along with the raw data at VotersUnite.org:

Any questions?

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Calls for a Return to Paper Ballots During Commemorative MLK, Jr., Keynote Address in Santa Cruz!
California Congresswoman is First of Bill's 192 Co-Sponsors to Pull Support Amid Heavy Criticism of Legislation by Election Integrity Advocates...
By Emily Levy on 2/21/2007 2:31pm PT  

Guest Blogged by Emily Levy of VelvetRevolution.us with additional reporting by Brad Friedman

During a question and answer period after a speech at a Black History Month event last night sponsored by the University of California Santa Cruz, Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA) announced that she plans to withdraw her co-sponsorship of Rep. Rush Holt's Election Reform Legislation, (HR 811).

Citing the bill's failure to require paper ballots, allowing for uncounted "paper trails" instead, Waters replied to a question of mine that she would be "glad to withdraw [her] name from the bill" when she returns to Washington on Tuesday in the wake of recent conversations she's had in California with Election Integrity advocates. The announcement drew an enthusiastic round of applause from those in attendance at Tuesday night's 23rd Annual Martin Luther King, Jr., Memorial Convocation at UCSC which was keynoted by Waters.

Waters would be the first of the bill's current 192 House co-sponsors to withdraw her support. (The full list of current co-sponsors is available here.) Given her leadership on civil rights and election-related issues over the years, Waters's move could be significant in the current debate which has seen Democrats and a number of their public-advocacy group supporters use the issue of civil rights, ironically enough, to support the continued use of DRE/touch-screen systems as allowed by the Holt legislation.

As The BRAD BLOG reported yesterday, "language minority" activists have contended that touch-screen systems are better able to serve voters whose first language is not English. That, despite any empirical evidence in support of the notion.

The Holt bill had received early support from a number of Democratic public-advocacy groups such as PFAW, MoveOn, Common Cause, and others, though the controversial bill has gone on to draw criticism, since it's filing, from Election Integrity advocates here at The BRAD BLOG and elsewhere for its failure to fully ban disenfranchising DRE/touch-screen voting systems and several other notable concerns.

Waters began her speech Tuesday Night by discussing the dire condition of our election system, asking, "What would Dr. Martin Luther King say" about the 2000 election in Florida, about the purging of supposed felons from voter rolls, about proposed voter ID cards, intimidation at the polls in Florida and Ohio, voting machines without "paper trails," and related issues. She did not discuss HR 811 during the course of her main address.

In the brief question and answer period following her speech, I asked Waters if she was aware that the Election Integrity movement --- the folks who have investigated, exposed, and challenged the horrors of electronic voting --- strongly opposed Holt's legislation.

"What would it take," I asked, "for you to withdraw your support?" ...

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

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Misrepresentation of the 'Opposition,' Fear of Failure, and a Bizarre, Unsubstantiated 'Civil Rights' Argument All Employed to Avoid Legitimate Debate on the Dangers of the Pending Legislation...
By Brad Friedman on 2/20/2007 1:01pm PT  

We've been discussing the pros and cons of Rep. Rush Holt's Election Reform bill (HR 811 [PDF]) since it dropped two weeks ago in the House.

There is, no doubt, much more to say about the specific pros and cons in detail here as we move forward. For the moment, allow me to first address three false dichotomies opportunistically and/or disingenuously and/or naively being used by supporters of Holt's legislation in order to help see it passed by Congress.

In doing so, I'll share some of what I've learned over the past several weeks via my personal investigations into why the Democrats who support the bill, along with their closely-allied public advocacy groups, are currently unable or unwilling to show the necessary courage to insist upon the banning of disenfranchising, failed DRE/touch-screen voting system technology from all American elections.

The inability, or unwillingness, of such groups to stand up and call for what most know to be the right thing is occurring despite the fact that most of those groups actually agree --- and will admit privately, if not always publicly --- that DRE technology has no place in our electoral system and is a grave menace to true Electoral Integrity.

Collectively, these three arguments are being used to shore up support for a bill which offers much good (DISCLOSURE: I participated in the drafting of the bill myself, and did what I could --- sometimes successfully, sometimes not --- to improve its language and provisions), yet ultimately may prove to be as dangerous as the disastrous Help America Vote Act (HAVA) and risks becoming known as HAVA 2 by 2008. And, as I've pointed out before, this time the Democrats won't have the Republicans or Bob Ney to blame.

FALSE DICHOTOMY #1:
It's Either Holt or Hand-Counted Paper Ballots...

The first of the three false dichotomies being forwarded by some of the bill's supporters is to suggest that there are only two choices: Pass the Holt bill 'as is,' or continue an unwinnable campaign for all hand-counted paper ballots (HCPB).

The now oft-repeated intimation is the very definition of a strawman, a canard, and a truly disingenuous false dichotomy. ...

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

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Guest Blogger Attorney Ken Simpkins Seeks Your Help in Bringing Accountability to One of America's Worst Elections Officials...
By Ken Simpkins on 2/18/2007 4:39pm PT  

Guest Blogged by Ken Simpkins

ED NOTE: Over the last nine months or so, along with attorney Paul Lehto, Carlsbad, CA attorney Simpkins has filed a number of voter lawsuits in San Diego in his continuing attempt to help bring accountability to the unaccountable San Diego County Registrar of Voters, Mikel Haas and his atrocious elections administration. Those suits included complaints and appeals in the now-infamous Busby/Bilbray Special Election as well as voter lawsuits brought both before and after last November's General Election in San Diego.

After being stonewalled by the San Diego County Registrar of Voters Office on requests for recounts, information regarding the right to vote on paper ballots, and the results of an audit of the November 2006 election, citizens are taking action. Last Thursday, a complaint [PDF] was submitted to the new California Secretary of State, Debra Bowen, addressing voters’ concerns. Secretary Bowen was voted into office on the promise of cleaning up elections.

SD County's Registrar of Voters, Mikel Haas, has attracted the attention of The BRAD BLOG for many months as "one of the worst elections officials in the country." His policy of sending pre-programmed, election-ready Diebold voting machines home with poll workers weeks in advance of elections, without any training on security or assurance that the machines would be held in a secure environment, likewise attracted the ire of many San Diego County voters. Those same voters are signing a petition urging the Secretary of State to investigate the allegations in the complaint and report on the findings. I urge you to sign it as well.

The complaint reports on the violations of the certification requirements under state and federal law, the failure to properly test the machines pursuant to official procedures, the policy of undermining the right to vote on paper ballots, and the disregard of basic auditing principles in conducting the required one percent manual tally.

The voting machine "sleepover" policy is one example of the disregard by the Registrar of Voters of the proven vulnerabilities of the Diebold machines, which can be hacked in one minute and made to change the outcome of an election. In defending the sleepover policy, Mr. Haas points to the "tamper-evident" tape used to seal the memory card compartment as sufficient security against fraud. But, when one observer discovered on election day that the tape had been removed from the machines at two precincts, and reported the violation of the certification requirements to Mr. Haas, he refused to take the machines out of service and allowed voters to cast their votes on the then-uncertified machines...

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

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Flawed Bill Continues to Fast-Track While Supporters Ignore the Concerns of Those Who Know the Issue Best
HR811 On Schedule to Become 'HAVA 2' Unless Radically Amended, Improved...
By Brad Friedman on 2/14/2007 12:00pm PT  

Blogged from the road by Brad Friedman...

Yes, I'm still on the road. And thus I'm still unable to fully and completely cover events surrounding the dangerous provisions of the Holt Election Reform legislation (HR 811).

For the short term then, I'll quickly point to a few notable critiques of the bill, as currently written, from the Election Integrity community.

Why Democratic-based public advocacy groups such as MoveOn, Common Cause and PFAW are supporting this bill in direct conflict with the bulk of the Election Integrity community continues to be beyond me. Perhaps worse, they are doing so via campaigns that succeed in misleading their members about the facts of the bill.

As I've said many times, though the Holt legislation contains many good and needed provisions, it has several serious flaws --- including, perhaps most notably, a failure to ban all disenfranchising DRE/touch-screen systems --- which will likely lead to this bill being seen as "HAVA 2" by 2008 if it's passed as is.

Unlike the Help America Vote Act of 2002 (HAVA 1), the Dems will not have Republicans and the disgraced former Rep. Bob Ney to blame when the shortcomings in the bill are revealed before, during, and after the next Presidential Election.

Quickly then --- before I must shuffle to the next hotel --- allow me to point you to the "Essential Revisions to HR 811" as drafted by many in the Elections Integrity community and hosted by VotersUnite.org and signed by several other notable Election Integrity groups such as VoterAction.org, BlackBoxVoting.org, and many others.

As well, a blind technology expert, Noel Runyan, has today released a scientific paper, "Improving Voter Access," documenting the failures of existing DRE/touch-screen technology (to-be-institutionalized by the Holt Bill if passed) to meet the needs of the disabilities community. The paper is released under the notable auspices of both Demos and VoterAction.org. Press release here.

Bev Harris of BlackBoxVoting.org has issued her own statement/concerns as well right here: "Beware of the Bandwagon --- A concise list of problems with Holt Bill HR 811"

Just after the Holt Bill dropped, we also ran a notable Guest Blog from Demos's Democracy Fellow and the founder of the National Voting Rights Institute, John Bonifaz, who is critical of the bill's lack of a ban on DREs: "Why the Holt Election Reform Bill Must be Amended to Guarantee a Real Paper Ballot."

Those are just a few of many such statements from various elements of the Election Integrity community concerning the Holt Bill as it's currently written.

It's simply mindblowing that so many Congress members, including Sen. Bill Nelson of Florida --- who issued his own near-clone of HR811 yesterday in the Senate --- along with so many Democratic-based public advocacy groups continue to ignore the concerns of the EI community, who know this issue best.

The fact that even Florida's new Republican (and surprisingly progressive) Governor and new Secretary of State are ahead of the Democrats on this one, and are calling for DREs to be replaced by optical-scan systems (for the most part, if not during early voting or for disabled voters) should be a clear sign that something is terribly wrong here.

While everyone seems to finally understand the need for Election Reform (well, that took long enough!), the notion that any bill is better than a bill which will actually be effective is extraordinarily short-sighted. Passing a bill likely to institutionalize dysfunction and continue our Electoral Meltdowns for years to come should be the last thing that Democrats and their supporters wish to do.

Why they seem to be tripping over themselves to do it continues to be far beyond me.

If you haven't already done so, please sign the Paper Ballot Campaign's Open Letter to Congress demanding a paper ballot --- which is actually tabulated --- and a ban of DREs once and for all.

(DISCLOSURE: I was allowed by Holt's office to participate during the drafting process of HR811 and was able to succeed in adding some improvements to some of the language, as well as encourage the addition of several important new provisions in the bill. Nonetheless, the bill, as written, still contains many dangerous loopholes as alluded to above. Next week, once home, I hope to offer a more complete and specific analysis of both the good and bad points in the legislation, which seems to be continuing to fast-track though Congress. Unfortunately.)

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Guest Blogger and Constitutional Attorney John Bonifaz on Concerns About Holt's 'Voter Confidence and Increased Accessibility Act of 2007' (HR 811)
By John Bonifaz on 2/6/2007 3:51pm PT  

Guest Blogged by John Bonifaz

Ed Note: John Bonifaz is a constitutional attorney, the founder of the National Voting Rights Institute and a Senior Legal Fellow of Demos' Democracy Program. He further serves as co-counsel for VoterAction.org on behalf of the voter plaintiffs in the Sarasota FL-13 case.

Earlier today, The BRAD BLOG posted a short article about the new Holt Election Reform bill in the U.S. House urging readers to read it before either endorsing or rejecting the legislation. We hope to have a thorough analysis of the bill in the coming days and weeks. For now, Mr. Bonifaz, given his background, credentials and current work on the FL-13 case, provides a useful and important perspective on the new legislation.

Today, Congressman Rush Holt introduced H.R. 811 [PDF], a bill trumpeted as requiring “a voter-verified permanent paper ballot.” But before we all jump on this train as the new guarantee that our votes will be properly counted in future elections, we ought to beware of the warning flag. A paper trail from DRE (Direct Recording Electronic, usually touch-screen) machines cannot protect the integrity of our elections.

Here’s the bottom line: The DRE technology is fundamentally flawed for recording and counting our votes. The Holt bill, unless amended, will further codify into law the use of this technology, piling onto the disaster of HAVA (the Help America Vote Act of 2002) a new disaster.

Florida Governor Charlie Crist recently announced proposed state funding to replace DREs in the state with optical scan machines for election days and Florida is moving forward on certifying the AutoMARK machine, a ballot marking device NOT a direct recording device. New Mexico has already moved away from DREs and has a blended system of optical scan machines and AutoMARK. New York may soon go that way, as may California and Ohio.

Why, in the face of this movement in the states, should we embrace a bill in Congress that allows for the continued use of DREs? Yes, optical scan can also be vulnerable to being hacked, but at least with optical scan, there are still paper ballots (marked by hand or by a ballot marking device) that can be audited or recounted to ensure that our votes are properly counted. DREs provide no such guarantee.

Yes, the Holt bill tries to say it is requiring a paper ballot even for DREs, but, in the end, a DRE "paper ballot" is nothing more than a paper trail, which requires voters to verify their votes after they have cast them in the DRE machines. Studies show that most voters will not spend the time to verify their votes after casting them into DRE machines. Thus, the "voter-verified paper ballot" is a fiction when it comes to DREs.

If none of this is convincing, we need to look no further than Sarasota, the current epicenter of this debate. A "voter-verified" paper ballot or paper trail in Sarasota would not have erased the problem with the 18,000 missing votes in the FL-13 congressional election. With most voters not verifying their votes, most of those missing votes would still be missing --- and with no way to recover them and derive voter intent.

As Brad Friedman rightly says, placing a paper trail on DREs is like placing a seatbelt in the Ford Pinto. The Pinto will still explode --- so what is the point of installing a seatbelt?

We can and we should press for the principled position here: an amendment to the Holt bill that would ban the continued use of DREs and require a real paper ballot. Otherwise, we're going to wake up in 2008 realizing the new disaster we helped to create.

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As Ever, With Election Reform Legislation the Devil is in the Details...So Learn the Details BEFORE Supporting or Rejecting This Bill!
By Brad Friedman on 2/6/2007 2:15pm PT  

Blogged by Brad from the road...

Congressman Rush Holt's (D-NJ) new, re-written Election Reform legislation --- now known as HR811, previously known as HR550 in the last Congress --- has been introduced today. It's now available here [PDF].

Holt's bill is the first of several competing Election Reform bills which will be introduced in the House and Senate by various members. Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-CA) is to hold hearings tomorrow (Wednesday) on "The Hazards of Electronic Voting: Focus on the Machinery of Democracy" in the Senate Rules and Administration Committee, which she now chairs.

We continue to be on the road, and are thus not able to sit and focus as long as we'd usually like on any one thing. But we will have much to say on Holt's legislation and other bills in the coming days and weeks.

While groups such as VoteTrustUSA, People for the American Way (PFAW) and CommonCause are urging their members to endorse this legislation, for now we'd encourage you to actually read it before making any such decisions.

CommonCause, for example, urged members to endorse this legislation with a campaign begun weeks ago, before the final version was even introduced (the bill has been changed substantially in the ensuing weeks and recent drafts). As of this morning, PFAW had offered several misleading and down-right incorrect bullet points in support of the legislation on their petition page, calling on members to support the bill. We contacted them about that, and at least they've now removed the misleading bullet points, even if they still urge members to support the legislation. More on all of that in the near future as well.

Holt's bill, as proposed, does indeed offer many good and much-needed provisions. However, it also includes several troubling and dangerous loopholes, in our opinion.

By way of full disclosure, we consulted with Holt's office on this bill, having been allowed access to several drafts over the last month or two, about which we were able to offer input. Much of that input was included in subsequent drafts and remains now in the far-better final version. However, other input was not included, and thus we still have concerns about some of the existing loopholes in the bill.

For the moment though, we'd ask you to simply read it and share your thoughts. More on all of this soon...

(We would also ask you again to sign the Open Letter to Congress from more than 40 non-partisan Election Integrity organizations demanding a paper BALLOT --- one that must actually be counted --- for every vote cast, along with a complete ban on disenfranchising DRE/Touch-screen voting machines, which must never again be used in an American election!)

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Conyers and Feingold Announce Judiciary Hearings on Bush Admistration Policy in Both Senate and House...
By Brad Friedman on 1/25/2007 2:16pm PT  

At the turn of the new year, we dubbed 2007 "The Year of Accountability." So, let it begin.

Two announcements were released today concerning upcoming oversight and investigative hearings in Congress on Bush Administration policy. If you can imagine such a thing.

In the House, Rep. John Conyers (D-MI), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee --- the one which would lead the way concerning any Articles of Impeachment for a sitting U.S. President or Vice-President --- announced today that hearings would be held next Wednesday in the committee on "Presidential Signing Statements under the Bush Administration: A Threat to Checks and Balances and the Rule of Law?" (Complete media release, with details, scheduled witnesses, etc. at end of this article.)

In the Senate, Russ Feingold (D-WI) will chair Judiciary Committee hearings on "Congress's Power to End a War." In a media advisory just released, (posted in full below) Feingold refers to Congress's "power of the purse to redeploy our troops safely from Iraq so that we can refocus on the global terrorist networks that threaten our national security."

"This hearing will help inform my colleagues and the public about Congress’s power to end a war and how that power has been used in the past," Feingold is quoted in the release. As well, he promises to to introduce new legislation to do exactly that in the Senate. "I will soon be introducing legislation to use the power of the purse to end what is clearly one of the greatest mistakes in the history of our nation’s foreign policy," the senator said.

Neither of the Constitutionally mandated oversight hearings will be held in a basement broom closet, but rather in proper Congressional Hearing Rooms.

UPDATE 8:22pm PT White House says they "will cooperate." Of course they will.

The complete media releases from Conyers and Feingold, with dates, times, locations, and expected witnesses, follow below...

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

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Ohio's Former U.S. Congressman, Author of Help America Vote Act, Loses Voting Privileges as Felon, Keeps $29,000 Annual Congressional Pension...
By Brad Friedman on 1/19/2007 9:55am PT  

It's now just over a year to the day since we first described the now-disgraced and now-former Congressman Bob Ney (R-OH) as the "Soon-to-be-Indicted Bob Ney" in our exposé connecting the dots between him, his former Chief of Staff turned Diebold's top lobbyist on Capitol Hill, David DiStefano, Jack Abramoff's Greenburg Traurig firm and the whole Help America Vote Act (HAVA) sham which Ney pushed through Congress via his crooked chairmanship of the U.S. House Administration Committee.

Back then, few had heard of him. But today, Ney was convicted and sentenced to 30 months in the federal pen after pleading guilty to "illegally accepting trips, meals, drinks, tickets to concerts and sporting events and other items worth tens of thousands of dollars in return for official acts performed for lobbyist Abramoff and his clients."

Ney's long-overdue trip up the river comes despite defense pleas for mercy and sentencing to rehab in light of their claims that it was the evil bottle that dunnit. As ever, Ney continues to avoid taking responsibility. Happily, the judge didn't buy it. Oh, well. Couldn't have happened to a nicer guy.

As a felon, Ney will no longer be able to vote in the state of Ohio, even as America will be stuck with his disastrous and cynical HAVA legislation for years. And despite House Democrats' plans to remove pensions for convicted members, apparently the action will not be retroactive. So Ney will get to retain his $29,000 annual pension from the House. Forever. Nice work if you can get it.

Anyway, another one bites the dust. Now, about the soon-to-be-indicted George W. Bush...

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