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Latest Featured Reports | Friday, December 19, 2014
'Green News Report' 12/18/14
  w/ Brad & Desi
Nothin' but good news for a change! - NY bans fracking!; Obama protects AK's Bristol Bay!; PLUS: More indictments for 'Freedom Industries' in WV toxic chemical spill!...
Previous GNRs: 12/16/14 - 12/11/14 - Archives...
Brad on Hartmann Radio: Wrapping Up a Few More Election 2014 Races
Yes, some of us are still paying attention.
Plus: A BRAD BLOG 'Programming Note'...
'Green News Report' 12/16/14
  w/ Brad & Desi
Congress wraps for year w/ GOP anti-enviro initiatives to be signed by Prez; UN summit wraps up in Peru - ALL nations are in for Paris; PLUS: Another Bush, another climate denier...
Previous GNRs: 12/11/14 - 12/9/14 - Archives...
Bloomberg Editors Refuse to Correct Inaccurate, Misleading Photo ID Editorial
Read the 'mind-boggling' responses to BRAD BLOG's emailed explanation of blatant errors and inaccuracies in Francis Barry's op-ed...
Proponents of Oregon GMO Measure 92 Concede Defeat
Adverse court ruling, barring inclusion of 4,600 rejected ballots, signals end of road (for now) of state's most expensive campaign, decided by just 800 votes out of 1.5 million cast...
'Green News Report' 12/11/14
  w/ Brad & Desi
GOP anti-enviro wish list in "Cromnibus" bill; Crunch time at UN climate talks; Calls for an end to fossil fuels; Australia goaded into action; PLUS: CEO indicted for WV chemical spill...
Previous GNRs: 12/9/14 - 12/4/14 - Archives...
The Clint Curtis Story, Ten Years Later: A KPFK 'BradCast' Special Edition
It's been 10 years since we broke the whistleblower's claim about vote-rigging software, Rep. Tom Feeney (R) and more. So it seemed a good time to catch up with him...
SOLVED: Mystery that Flipped Maine Senate Election!
21 'phantom ballots' flipped the results of a Nov. 4th state Senate election from D to R. But a dramatic turn of events and hand-counted paper ballots have now resolved the mystery...
'Green News Report' 12/9/14
  w/ Brad & Desi
Super Typhoon Hagupit blows 2014 into record books; Doesn't look good for KXL, if Obama on Colbert Report can be believed; PLUS: Rich v. Poor divisions stall UN climate talks...
Previous GNRs: 12/4/14 - 12/2/14 - Archives...
Bad News for Fox 'News' Viewers: 'Fox & Friends' Calls for Voter Literacy Tests
If they had to pass a test on American history and government, Fox 'News' viewers, as studies show, would be in big, big trouble...
Thousands of Ballots Excluded from Oregon's GMO Ballot Measure 'Recount'
Proponents charge interference by out-of-state corporate opponents, state's failure to count legal ballots due to 'signature problems'...
NC Repubs Trying to Run-Out Clock on Voter Suppression Lawsuit (Again)?
Plaintiffs charge state attempt to reschedule next summer's federal trial 'unsupportable', 'disingenuous'...
'Green News Report' 12/4/14
Biggest German utility spins off fossil fuel assets; Fossil fuel biz running scared? FL punishes homeowners for not polluting; PLUS: MSNBC's Big Coal infomercial...
House Judiciary Letter Suggests Impeachment for Wife-Beating Judge
Bi-partisan congressmen seek update from 11th Circuit Court, cite potential impeachment of Judge Mark Fuller...
'Green News Report' 12/2/14
New UN summit underway; Record rain, drought in CA; Global cost of falling oil prices; PLUS: Legacy of world's worst industrial disaster, 30 years later...
'Recount', Concerns in AZ U.S. House Race
Razor-thin computer-reported margin, failed paper-ballot tabulators, untallied provisionals, terrible 'recount' rules leave Barber-McSally contest in AZ-2 unsettled...
'KPFK' BradCast: Maine Mystery, Ferguson Fury and Thanks for Something
'My thanks to all of you this Thanksgiving which, as a few callers reminded me, isn't nearly as terrible as it seems'...
Mysterious Ballots Flip Maine Senate Recount Result From Democratic to Republican
21 'phantom' ballots appear out of nowhere in tiny Maine town, reverse results of very close state contest...
'Recount' for Oregon's GMO Ballot Measure
Fewer than 900 votes separate 'Yes' from 'No' on 'Right to Know' Measure 92, out of more than 1.5 million paper ballots tallied by computers statewide in Nov. 4 election...
'Green News Report' 11/25/14
Cuomo blames meteorologists for his Buffalo storm fail; Canada protests another tar sands pipeline, lead's world in deforestation; PLUS: World Bank's dire warning...
No Indictment in Ferguson Shooting
A few thoughts on the St. Louis County Prosecutor's extraordinary spectacle and miscarriage of justice in the killing of Michael Brown...
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...


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?

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

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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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ADDITIONAL MATERIAL: Details of Attorney Oral Arguments Concerning Whether the U.S. Congress Can Overrule State Election Laws Simply by Swearing Someone In
Also, Updates on Some of the Sad Players...Some Gone, Others (Hopefully) on Their Way Out...
By Brad Friedman on 1/10/2007 11:05am PT  

Yes, like the Energizer Bunny, the case in CA50 (Jacobson v. Bilbray) is still going. The first oral arguments on the appeal took place on Monday.

To recap: the original case was filed last Summer by San Diego voters Gail Jacobson and Lillian Ritt against then-candidate Brian Bilbray and SD County Registrar of Voters/Voter Hater Mikel Haas, after a BRAD BLOG report revealed that pre-programmed, election-ready, hackable-in-60-seconds Diebold voting machines were sent home illegally (in our rarely humble opinion, though one shared in a recent interview by California's new Secretary of State Debra Bowen) with poll workers on overnight "sleepovers" days and weeks before the U.S. House Special Election last July to replace the disgraced Randy "Duke" Cunningham.

There is much more than just the "sleepovers" at question in the case, like the fact that Haas, one of America's worst Elections Officials, arbitrarily and capriciously quoted a legal request by voters for a hand-count in the race at $150,000, effectively stymieing the possibility that such a count would happen at all. Also at issue is the fact that the case was tossed out by a lower court judge after the Bilbray team argued --- with the help of a letter [PDF] from the then-Republican U.S. House Admin Committee in Congress --- that California courts and voters had no say over the issue.

In that letter, the House Admin Committee argued that they, not the California courts or voters, had sole jurisdiction over the case once Bilbray was sworn in. He was sworn in after a fax was sent claiming he was the winner of the election, from the very partisan and now-former CA SoS Bruce McPherson's deputy, Susan Lapsley. Lapsley sent the fax just days after the election, despite the controversy that had erupted over the effectively-decertified voting systems used in the race, the slim reported margin between the two candidates, and the fact that the state hadn't yet actually certified the race, in which tens of thousands of votes in San Diego county had yet to be counted at the time.

Attorney Paul Lehto, working with Carlsbad attorney Ken Simpkins, filed both the original case and the appeal. UPDATE: We've now got a number of accounts of the argument from folks in the courtroom on Monday.

First, Simpkins sends us the following update (which is shorter than our recap) from the first day of hearings last Monday in the appellate case...

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

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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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Madame Speaker and...That Other Guy...
By Brad Friedman on 1/4/2007 11:13am PT  

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