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Historian Jon Wiener of The Nation and KPFK on his case for why Dems needn't worry, and what we think he may be overlooking...
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FL Rep.: Dems to 'Sit-In' Until Vote or GOP 'Hauls People Off Floor': 'BradCast' 6/22/16
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Was Orlando the 'Worst Mass Shooting in U.S. History?': 'BradCast' 6/21/16
Guest: USC historian Ariela J. Gross | ALSO: Trump's disastrous fundraising numbers; New polls; 700th 'GNR'!...
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OUR 700TH EPISODE!!! Record heat in S.W.; Bernie wants YOU to fight climate change; PLUS: Obama climate change warning for national parks...
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Brad has a few thoughts. Plus: Sanders' call for progressive candidates and GOP/NRA/Trump gun lies, and more evidence elections matter...
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Former CDC Injury Chief on Federal Gun Research 'Ban': 'BradCast' 6/16/16
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Fights over both continue, after Orlando Massacre and Presidential primary voting. We cover the latest on both, take listener calls, and more...
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Hand-marked, hand-counted ballots...
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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
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DOJ PROBE SOUGHT AFTER VA ARREST
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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
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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
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CRIMINAL PROBE LAUNCHED INTO GOP VOTER REGISTRATION FRAUD SCANDAL IN FL
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The Secret Koch Brothers Tapes...


...And Plan to Defeat Him Once and For All...
By Clint Curtis on 8/26/2007 2:49pm PT  

Guest Blogged by Clint Curtis

My name is Clint Curtis, and I am running for Congress in Florida’s 24th District because I am fed up with the corruption and incompetence that continues to plague us in Washington. I'm running because the people of this country deserve honest representation and strong leadership that reflects the true will of the people.

As long-time BRAD BLOG readers may remember, I have dedicated myself to the cause of election integrity ever since a corrupt congressman asked me to create a prototype vote-rigging software program while we were both working for the same Florida software company back in 2000.

Since then, I have stepped into the sunshine to tell the story, and have become one of the nation's leading advocates for election reform. Working with non-partisan election integrity groups across the nation, I have fought hard for legislation that mandates the use of paper ballots. The state of Florida just passed such legislation earlier this year --- an enormous victory for proponents of election reform and a great win, finaly, for the voters of Florida.

My district is bordered by Cocoa Beach, Kennedy Space Center, Daytona Beach and Orlando. It is a district of stark contrast between the haves and the have nots. Million dollar beachfront palaces sit just a scant few miles away from thousands who subsist in grinding poverty, bereft of hope. This is Florida’s Space Coast, a region of stunning beauty and spectacular innovation, but we have the misfortune to be represented by one of the most corrupt Republicans in Congress, the very same congressman who asked me to create that vote-rigging program: Tom Feeney.

Tom Feeney is the latest Republican congressman to fall under the shadow of the Jack Abramoff bribery and corruption scandal. Feeney is now under investigation by the FBI for his dealings with Abramoff. The writing is on the wall, making Florida’s 24th District one of the top three targeted races in the country.

But I will need your help in running against Feeney, and more importantly for the moment, helping the Democratic power structure in Washington D.C. understand we are ready, willing and able to take this seat and remove Tom Feeney once and for all.

For those of you who are new to The BRAD BLOG and may not be familiar with my story, up until just a few years ago I was a stereotypical, mild-mannered software engineer who would have never in a million years considered running for public office. As I said in a post last week, introducing myself to readers at Daily Kos, I’m just a ‘regular guy,’ a middle class citizen, working hard to make ends meet, like so many of you. And sad to say, for too many years, I bought into the myth that people like us can’t really make much a difference.

I've been a programmer since 1985. I've worked on projects as diverse as NASA to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Department. Although I was always an independently inclined voter, for years I identified more with Republicans than Democrats. I thought they shared my values of integrity, ethics, and honesty. I believe many of them still do. But that trust was shattered when I came to discover what shameless depths bad apple Republican politicians have now sunk to...

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




Ralph Gonzalez, Whose Firm Created 'CrazyClintCurtis.com' Smear Website, Apparently Murdered
Gonzalez's Strategum Group consulted for Feeney, Worked with Ralph Reed, GA Rep. Tom Price [Updated Several Times With Add'l Details]
By Steve Huff on 8/23/2007 7:28pm PT  

Guest blogged by Steve Huff, with additional updates by Brad Friedman.

NOTE: The original version of this blog entry was published here. This version has been updated several times, specifically for The BRAD BLOG. See updates at end of article...

Police are investigating a possible double murder and suicide in an Orlando, Florida, residence owned by the former Executive Director of the Georgia Republican Party.

The Orange County Sheriff was called to 2420 Hickory Oak Blvd. in Orlando early Thursday. There they found three dead white men and two live dogs. The men may have been dead since Tuesday.

The home where they were found dead was owned by a political consultant/strategist of Rep. Tom Feeney (R-FL), the one who worked on the Congressman's smear campaign against vote-rigging whistleblower Clint Curtis last year. More details on that campaign below.

Feeney describes Gonzalez as "a born political consultant." On commenting on the news, Feeney said of Gonzalez, "He was an adviser and strategist for me and became a very good friend."

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




Results Delayed as Atleast 1500 Paper Ballots Re-Counted By Hand (Fortunately, There WERE Paper Ballots To Re-Count!)
Ron Paul Supporters Were Right to be Worried About Republican's Choice of Diebold to Tally Votes...
By John Gideon on 8/11/2007 7:49pm PT  

Guest Blogged by John Gideon of VotersUnite.org

As we reported on July 15, Ron Paul's supporters were concerned that Diebold touch-screen voting machines were going to be used in the Iowa Republican Straw Poll. Well, it turns out the concerns about touch-screens were misplaced, as the GOP chose paper-based Diebold optical-scan machines instead. But their fears of Diebold may well have been justified as two of their op-scan systems failed and delayed the reported results.

While GOP candidate Mitt Romney may have walked away with a winning edge in the Iowa Straw Poll, Diebold was true to form as their voting system failed to count ballots correctly. As the Des Moines Register is reporting two of Diebold's optical scanners failed and 1500 paper ballots had to be manually recounted by hand...

Voting machine difficulties delayed the announcement of the vote totals. About 1,500 ballots needed to be recounted, said Mary Tiffany, a spokeswoman for Republican Party of Iowa.

Two machines caused the problem, said State Auditor David Vaudt. “What likely happened is someone submitted their ballot too quickly after the other,” he said. The ballots from those machines were hand counted, then re-fed into the system to recalculate the vote. A campaign poll-watcher said in one instance, a black box contained 500 paper ballots but the machine’s memory said it had scanned in 498.

At least there were paper ballots that could be hand counted when the machines failed. Had the Republican's used Direct Recording Electronic (DRE) voting machines --- as millions of Americans are forced to do each Election Day --- there would have been nothing to go back to when the machines failed.

UPDATE: The Atlantic is reporting the number of ballots which had to be "re-run" as "about 4,500".

Either way, there were reportedly 14,203 total ballots cast. So going by the Des Moines Register's reported numbers, more than 10.5% of the ballots had to be recounted. If we go by The Atlantic's reported numbers, nearly 32% of the ballots in the Iowa Republican Straw Poll had to be recounted by hand.




On Election Integrity Program Says 'There Might Be a Legal Basis For A Lawsuit That Deals With Denying The Right To Vote'...
By John Gideon on 8/9/2007 1:00pm PT  

Guest Blogged by John Gideon, VotersUnite.Org

Last night Congressman Dennis Kucinich was one of two guests on the Election Integrity radio program, "Voice of the Voters," which airs weekly at 8PM Eastern on WNJC Radio 1360AM and streams live.

The subject was voting machines, the vendors, and the voters, and Kucinich raised the possibility that the recent studies done on such systems in California might be the basis of a lawsuit to throw out "that technology." He said felt that legal action, in this instance, may be a faster route than waiting on Congress to act.

He also discussed his concerns about the use of Direct Recording Electronic (DRE, usually touch-screen) voting machines in general, and expressed his feeling that they do not allow for confidence by the electorate. "There is a question of validity of an election. People have to know their vote counts and is counted," he told host Mary Ann Gould, "People cannot be guaranteed that with the present DRE system."

Here is the audio of Kucinich's the interview with Mary Ann Gould on yesterday's "Voice of the Voters" (about 20 mins):

(Hat tip to Alan Breslauer for preparing the audio.)




Progressive Democrats of Los Angeles Lobby for Accountability in Meeting with Chairman of House Oversight Committee...
By Brad Friedman on 8/9/2007 12:53pm PT  

Marcy Winograd, former Democratic candidate for the U.S. House and President of the Progressive Democrats of Los Angeles (PDLA), sent the following e-mail missive to PDLA members earlier today describing a meeting on Tuesday with Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA), the chairman of the House Oversight Committee.

The conversation regarding Impeachment, the Congressman's views on same, and the arguments made by the activists in favor of it are interesting and offer some insight into both Waxman's thinking at this moment and, undoubtedly, that of many other House Democrats who clearly are seeing things differently from inside the Beltway than those of us outside of it.

We can only hope that all U.S. House and Senate members are getting such an earful now that they're on recess and back in their home districts. Here's Winograd's instructive report in full...

Waxman Says He Will Keep an Open Mind on Impeachment

Congressman Waxman, Chair of the House Oversight Committee, told an impeachment
delegation meeting with him in his Los Angeles office, Tues., Aug. 7, 2007, that he would mull over his constituents' articulate arguments, watch the Bill Moyers' interview on impeachment, and weigh whether there was sufficient evidence to, not just impeach, but convict Bush and Cheney. Waxman told the delegation it was not enough to believe Bush and Cheney were responsible for high crimes; his decision to support or co-sponsor an impeachment resolution must be predicated on the knowledge that there is overwhelming evidence for a conviction.

Progressive Democrats of Los Angeles, California's 41st Assembly District Delegates, the Los Angeles National Impeachment Center, and the LA Green Party participated in the office delegation, while a group of impeachment supporters rallied outside, holding Impeachment is Patriotic signs and a huge banner that read Impeachment is on Our Table.

Inside, the 14 impeachment lobbyists meeting with Waxman offered multiple arguments...

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




Tells AlterNet That His Legislation Would Require Paper Ballots, But It Doesn't...
By Brad Friedman on 8/8/2007 9:54am PT  

Blogged by Brad Friedman from the road in Oklahoma...

"By November 2008, every voter would be given a verifiable paper ballot," Congressman Rush Holt (D-NJ) lies to Steven Rosenfeld at AlterNet today concerning his flawed Election Reform Bill (HR811) which is still pending in Congress.

Despite the comments to Rosenfeld, Holt's legislation does not require a "paper ballot" --- no matter how many times he tries to put lipstick on that pig.

The state of California recently found the very voting systems Holt is pushing to see used across the entire nation to be easily hackable and not in compliance with federal requirements for disabilities voters. The state also found the "paper trail" that Holt's bill is to require for such systems, and which California already uses, cannot stop the tampering with votes found to be so easy on such systems.

Despite CA SoS Debra Bowen having decertified and severely restricted the use of Direct Recording Electronic (DRE, usually touch-screen) voting machines with so-called "Voter Verified Paper Audit Trails" (VVPATs) last Friday --- as the Holt bill would allow for use --- and despite her having found that such paper trails do not protect voters and do not even meet minimal disabled accessibility standards, Holt continues apace to push his paper trail bill.

California's unprecedented independent study and actions "just adds more weight, more urgency to the need to pass federal standards," Holt told Rosenfeld concerning Bowen's appropriate decision to restrict the use of the systems. "We can't go into another federal election with machines that do no allow voters to verify their votes," he said --- despite the fact that his legislation does exactly that.

While Holt continues his disappointing campaign to deceive voters, media, and Congress Members into believing that "paper trails" are actually paper ballots, America seems to be moving on without him for the time being. In addition to the new restrictions in California, the use of DREs was recently banned entirely in Florida and New Mexico, and other states are re-evaluating their use of such systems.

HR 811's most powerful proponent/advocacy-group inside the beltway, People for the American Way (PFAW), is on record as preferring non-verifiable DRE voting systems over real paper ballots. They'd both do well to reconsider their positions, and adopt the voters' desire for paper ballots --- ones which are actually counted --- and a full ban on DREs.

Mr. Holt: Your deceptive misuse of the words "paper ballots" is a dog which no longer hunts. Please stop it.

[DISCLOSURE: I was asked to work with Holt's office on the language in HR 811 prior to its introduction in the U.S. House. Though I strongly urged they ban the use of DRE systems, that particular recommendation was not taken. I was, however, told that if I could convince PFAW to accept such a ban, they'd adjust their legislation immediately. So far, that has yet to happen. PFAW can be reached at PFAW@PFAW.org.]

Take action to amend the Holt Election Reform Bill!
DEMAND A BAN ON DRE/TOUCH-SCREEN VOTING!
- Email Congress!
- Call your members!
See www.BradBlog.com/Holt for more details, coverage, talking points & information on all of the above!



Unlike Articles of Impeachment the Hinchey/Feingold Resolutions, if Passed, Would Carry Absolutely No Actual Consequences for the Men Accused of 'Disregarding Rule of Law'
Was Hinchey Just Kidding When He Described the Admin Just Weeks Ago as 'The Most Impeachable in the History of Our Country'?...
By Brad Friedman on 8/6/2007 10:46am PT  

Blogged by Brad from the road...in Texas...

Now UPDATED with a response from Hinchey's office. See update at end of article.

Democratic members of the U.S. House and Senate have announced they are prepared to issue a very, very stern slap on the wrist to George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, and Alberto Gonzales.

Moments ago, in a joint news release (posted in full below) issued by Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) and Rep. Maurice Hinchey (D-NY), it was announced that Censure resolutions, which have absolutely no force of law or actual consequences if passed, would be brought against the three men in both chambers.

"From misleading this country into invading Iraq to establishing a warrantless domestic spy program, this White House has continuously misled and deceived the American people while disregarding the rule of law that guides our democracy," says Hinchey in the statement.

Of course, it could be argued that a resolution of Censure, in lieu of a trial on Articles of Impeachment, is one of the only ways the U.S. Senate can bring some form of historic accountability to the three accused men until such Articles of Impeachment are sent to them by the U.S. House. But where the Senate may be limited in that they cannot bring their own Articles of Impeachment, the U.S. House has no such excuse.

The Censure resolution brought by Hinchey seems to fly in the face of his own comments on the Peter B. Collins Show just weeks ago when he said that this administration was "the most impeachable in the history of our country." From the transcript/audio of the interview:

HINCHEY: I think that this administration --- both the President and the Vice-President --- are the most impeachable in the history of our country. They have engaged in activities that have not only made them impeachable, but they have engaged in activities that have violated, in a criminal way, very important federal laws.

And yet, Hinchey is now supporting only Censure, apparently.

If Hinchey and his 19 co-sponsors in the House believe the White House needs condemnation for the points they describe in their resolutions of Censure --- which read like a swell description of Impeachable High Crimes and Misdemeanors --- then they have little excuse not to perform their Constitutional Duty and bring forward Articles of Impeachment in the House for this precise set of serious crimes which, as Hinchey said, "disregard the rule of law that guides our democracy."

Then again, courage of conviction is not something Democrats are too often accused of.

While we were unable to reach the White House for comment, we are fairly well able to anticipate their expected reaction to the Democrats latest attempt at "accountability":

The press release from Feingold and Hinchey, announcing Censure Resolutions in both the House and Senate, follows in full below. Following that is an update with a response from Hinchey's office to the comments above...

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




With People for the American Way (PFAW) Serving as Broker, Press Agent...
By Bob Bancroft on 7/30/2007 9:05am PT  

Guest Blogged by Bob Bancroft of VotersUnite

Rep. Rush Holt's HR 811 Election Reform bill has become an enigma. After years of healthy dialogue with the election integrity community, Congressman Holt’s office now seems unresponsive. Just last week, rumors began to circulate that the Holt bill was adrift, its future uncertain. We later learned that the bill had entered into a series of secret negotiations, involving Majority Leader Hoyer, Speaker Pelosi, and other undisclosed parties.

Despite repeated attempts to contact anyone from the offices of Holt, Hoyer or Pelosi for a simple update, the week went by without a single call returned.

Now, we receive our first glimpse of the newly compromised Holt. We learn of the bill not from its author, nor Leader Hoyer, nor any elected, public official. Instead, it would seem that communications surrounding the bill flow through People For the American Way (PFAW), in the form of a late-Friday press release.

On Saturday, the New York Times confirmed that it was PFAW's President, Ralph Neas, in fact, who brokered the deal.

At a time when public confidence in our elected officials, and indeed the very process by which they are elected, is badly shaken, this is not helpful. VotersUnite will form an opinion of Hoyer-Holt only after careful reading of the text, which remains unavailable at the time of this writing. However, we are troubled that our Representatives would choose to conduct themselves in this circuitous manner, especially while considering something as fundamental as our right to vote.

Following is the full text of the original press release on the new, compromise version of HR-811, as issued by PFAW on Friday...

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




PLUS: Following up with Bowen on the ES&S LA County InkaVote Issue, and the Bizarre Comments from Steve Weir, President of CA Election Officials Association
By Brad Friedman on 7/29/2007 10:31am PT  

Blogged by Brad Friedman from somewhere in Texas...

We'll certainly have more, from various voices, in the days ahead concerning CA SoS Debra Bowen's landmark independent "Top-to-Bottom Review" of electronic voting systems. The reports from the teams at University of California are now available online here.

As well, Bowen will be taking public statements on these reports both via email at votingsystems@sos.ca.gov and, in person, during a public hearing tomorrow (Monday, July 30) at her office in Sacramento beginning at 10:00am. She'll announce her decisions for decertification or otherwise next Friday, August 3rd. So your input is important, as she mentioned on during a media phone call last Friday.

But even while the results, as Bowen described them on that phone call just prior to their release, found that "the independent teams of analysts were able to bypass both physical and software security measures in every system tested," and as the report on accessibility for disabled voters found that none of the Direct Recording Electronic (DRE, usually touch-screen) voting systems met federal disability standards, Democrats and People for the America Way (PFAW) in the U.S. House were busy hammering out a deal to institutionalize the continued use of such disastrous voting systems into federal law.

Out of touch much? Which part of a transparent, counted, paper ballot (not a "trail" or a "record") for every vote cast in America do these guys not understand?

Late Friday, as Bowen's UC Report was being released, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) and Rep. Rush Holt (D-NJ) finally came to terms, reportedly, on a deal for a revision of Holt's HR 811 Election Reform bill which allows for the use of DREs as preferred, almost exclusively, by PFAW, elections offficials, and voting machine companies. We've been reporting for months that PFAW was the main insider advocacy group moving the ball with this disappointing bill, and Saturday's New York Times confirms that it was "Ralph G. Neas, president of People for the American Way, [who] helped broker the deal" between Holt and House Leadership.

That despite Neas having previously chided me for suggesting that PFAW had the power to make or break this legislation in Congress. As we've also long reported, of course, by their own written admissions, PFAW prefers unaccountable DRE systems to paper ballot voting systems.

And though Christopher Drew's reporting at the New York Times is getting slightly better with each new story, it would be nice if "The Paper of Record" could learn enough about our voting systems so they could accurately report, and help Americans understand what's really at stake here and how the technology actually works.

Drew reported --- misleadingly --- that "The House bill would require every state to use paper records that would let voters verify that their ballots had been correctly cast and that would be available for recounts."

That's just plain wrong. The fact is that adding "cash-register-style printers to...touch-screen machines," as Drew describes it, does not allow a voter to verify that their "ballots had been correctly cast." It allows them only to verify that the paper record of their invisibly-cast electronic ballot accurately matches their intention. Maybe. The fact is: There is no way to verify that a voter's vote is correctly cast on a DRE touch-screen voting machine. Period.

Unless, of course, it's me who is out of touch in presuming that if a "ballot" is "cast" it means it will actually be counted by someone or something. Paper trails added to DRE systems are not counted --- only the internal, invisible, unverifiable ballots are. A "cash-register-style" print-out prior to the ballot being cast and counted internally does not change that.

But more on all of that, and Bowen's UC reports, as we move forward. For the moment, if you'll allow me, I wanted to touch base on a few items I asked Bowen about during the phone call which followed up on several specific issues that we've been reporting on here at The BRAD BLOG over the last several weeks.

Specifically, I asked her whether there had yet been a resolution to the discrepancies in version numbers for LA County's InkaVote system source code as turned in by ES&S, versus the version secretly stored in escrow. And whether or not she could explain the comments reportedly made by Steve Weir, Registrar-Clerk of Contra Costa County, CA and President of the California Association of Clerks and Elections Officials (CACEO), that CA election officials could choose to ignore Bowen's recommendations if they wanted to.

According to Bowen (full transcript and audio below) the ES&S LA County InkaVote issue remains unresolved, and she's unaware of what Weir might have been referring to. A transcript of my questions with Bowen follows, and I hope to have more on Weir soon --- and the adversarial comments he's been making in the media on behalf of CACEO --- but this article has already become much longer than I had intended...

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




Elizabeth De La Vega Says Attempt to use Executive Privilege to Stymie Contempt Proceedings by U.S. Attorney Would Be 'Grounds for Impeachment'
Conyers Asks 'What Are We Waiting For?' at Event in San Diego According to Caller on Peter B. Collins Show...
By Brad Friedman on 7/21/2007 4:41pm PT  

Blogged by Brad Friedman from the road in Houston...

Heat for Impeachment continues to build as a former U.S. Prosecutor told me yesterday that she feels "it's almost as if the Bush administration is asking to be impeached," and as Congressman John Conyers (D-MI) reportedly opened an appearance with a crowd of supporters on Friday by proclaiming, "What are we waiting for? Let's take these two guys out!"

While discussing the extraordinary claim reported Friday from an anonymous senior administration official in the Washington Post, charging that George W. Bush has the power to order his Dept. of Justice to not pursue criminal contempt charges as brought by the House against his own administration, former Asst. U.S. Attorney Elizabeth de la Vega made a rather notable point of her own.

Calling it "shocking" and noting that the claim was made only by an anonymous source --- not actually announced as official policy by Bush --- de la Vega, the author of United States V. George W. Bush et al., told me that, should such an extraordinary legal argument be made as official policy, that action in and of itself would be an impeachable offense as she sees it.

She made the point during our on-air discussion about Impeachment during Friday's Peter B. Collins radio show which I am Guest Hosting weekdays through July 27. (An audio clip of the exchange is posted at the end of this article)

"Congress really needs to get serious, at this point, because [the administration is] just being completely defiant and have absolutely no grounds for taking this position," she told me.

"I really think, it's almost as if the Bush administration is asking to be impeached," she said. "It is not true that the President can instruct the Department of Justice not to charge his own people. Especially when he's implicated in this as well."

In reference to the administration's claims of Executive Privilege to block the Congressional subpoenas for testimony and documents from former Bush attorney Harriet Miers and current Chief of Staff Joshua Bolten, de la Vega advised Congress to ignore the claims made by the unnamed official and proceed with contempt charges.

If Bush should make that legal argument officially, that in itself would be grounds for impeachment, according to the former federal prosecutor...

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




As The New York Times Fails to Report on the Payola He and His Group Have Received from the Voting Machine Companies...
By Brad Friedman on 7/21/2007 1:54pm PT  

Blogged by Brad from Houston...

Christopher Drew at New York Times follows up his article yesterday on the possible/pending death of the Holt Election Reform Bill (HR 811). In today's piece, however, he begins to report on the fact that there are alternatives to DRE touch-screen machines which offer the same interface for disabled voters, but without the dangers, as I opined about yesterday.

Of course, even that option --- an electronic assistive device that offers touch-screen voting and/or audio voting for disabled and blind voters --- is not good enough for Jim Dickson of the American Assoc. of People with Disabilities (AAPD), who is quoted by the Times as continuing to use his considerable access and ability to bully Congress members into sticking with DREs only. What the New York Times fails to report when mentioning Dickson is that he's received thousands of dollars from various voting machine companies who also prefer that every American be saddled with their shitty, unaccountable, inaccurate, easily-hackable DRE technology.

Christopher Drew and the NY Times have a responsibility to disclose that point when quoting Dickson as a source in their stories. They were the ones, after all, who reported on Dickson and the AAPD having "received $26,000 from voting machine companies" in 2004 alone.

Instead, Dickson is reported by the Times only as "a lobbyist for the American Association of People with Disabilities...whose group prefers the touch-screens."

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




By Brad Friedman on 7/20/2007 2:04pm PT  

I'll likely speak more about this today while Guest Hosting the Peter B. Collins Show, but I had some thoughts while reading the New York Times piece that John Gideon posted here late last night on the last minute compromises being attempted to keep the Holt Election Reform Bill from its rumored death throes.

The subject of accessible voting systems for the disabled comes up throughout the piece with Holt reportedly "express[ing] a preference for optically scanned ballots marked by voters, but...House leaders...siding with advocates for the handicapped, who fear that they cannot use optical ballots without help."

Later, it's reported that "Advocates for the blind and the disabled also threatened to oppose the bill if it went too far in discouraging the use of touch-screen machines before the optical scanners were made easier for them to use," with Steny Hoyer (D-MD) and Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) reportedly concerned about "undercut[ing] any of the gains that the disabled had made in voting without assistance."

That issue has always been a concern of election integrity folks, even while a large swath of the disabled community, including the powerful blind lobbyist Jim Dickson, his organization The American Association of Persons with Disabilities, and the entire National Federation of the Blind, had long ago become compromised when they accepted huge donations from voting machine companies such as Diebold.

But the fact is nowhere in the Times piece is it mentioned that blind and disabled voters could still use non-tabulating electronic touch-screen voting systems which produce a real paper ballot to be counted by another means without posing the same dangers as Direct Recording Electronic (DRE) voting systems.

Thus, both the blind and disabled communities, along with the apparently-less-than-educated members of the U.S. House and Senate, seem unaware that there are even such devices available. The lack of distinction between those two types of devices must really be laid at the feet of Rush Holt himself who has conflated the idea of DREs with non-tabulating Ballot Marking Devices (BMDs) from the get-go...

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




By John Gideon on 7/19/2007 8:56pm PT  

Guest Blogged by John Gideon, VotersUnite.Org

In early editions of Friday's New York Times, Christopher Drew is reporting that Rep Rush Holt (D-NJ)'s controversial election reform bill, HR 811, has been sent back for a re-write. Pressure from state and local groups and disability advocates has caused House leadership to reconsider making sweeping changes before 2012, accordin to Drew.

House Democratic officials say they are now working on compromise legislation that could allow hundreds of counties in 20 states to simply add tiny, cash-register-style printers to their touch-screen machines for the 2008 and 2010 elections, while waiting for manufacturers to develop better technology by 2012.

House officials said the compromise would ensure that all voting machines nationwide would have some kind of paper trail in 2008 through which voters could verify that their ballots were properly recorded and that could be used in recounts. Under the plan, New York, which has delayed replacing its old lever machines, would be the only state that would have to change its entire voting system by November 2008.

Drew goes on to report:

As a result, the proposed compromise is a blow to some computer scientists and other activists, who would like to get rid of the touch-screen machines used by nearly 40 percent of American voters. They had hoped that a tighter deadline would force states and localities to quickly shift from touch-screens to optical-scan systems, in which ballots are marked by the voters themselves rather than being generated by computers.

But state and local election officials, weary from all the changes they had already made, argued that it is already too late to make such significant changes without creating chaos next year. Advocates for the blind and the disabled also threatened to oppose the bill if it went too far in discouraging the use of touch-screen machines before the optical scanners were made easier for them to use. And House officials — led by the majority leader, Representative Steny H. Hoyer, Democrat of Maryland, who is trying to broker the deal — said they wanted to avoid another buying spree if better equipment might be available later.

We will continue to watch this story.




'Not Dead Yet' Says Holt Office...
By Brad Friedman on 7/19/2007 11:16am PT  

Kim Zetter at WIRED has the latest at her Threat Level blog...




By Rebecca Mercuri on 7/19/2007 9:52am PT  

Guest Blogged by Rebecca Mercuri

(NOTE: The archived appearance of Dr. Mercuri on the Peter B. Collins show, as Guest Hosted by Brad Friedman, discussing this article and other matters surrounding Holt's Election Reform bill is now available here....)

Anyone who has been anywhere in the blogosphere in the months since Rush Holt's HR 811 Election Reform bill was introduced knows that a schism appears to have developed in the voting advocacy community. I say "appears" because it's not terribly clear to me at this point whether this schism existed all along and now the fires are being stoked by rogue insiders in order to fuel a "divide and conquer" effort that benefits voting system vendors who can rise like Phoenixes out of the ashes of the activists, or whether Congressman Holt's bill is a litmus test being used to decide who'll continue to get a seat at the table (to testify at hearings) and a chunk of the grant money and other set-asides for election "research" projects. Maybe both of these actions (and others) are in play.

This has been reminding me a lot lately of Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters, riding on the hippie bus to the 1964 New York World's Fair. Tom Wolfe quoted Kesey saying: "There are going to be times when we can't wait for somebody. Now, you're either on the bus or off the bus. If you're on the bus, and you get left behind, then you'll find it again. If you're off the bus in the first place --- then it won't make a damn." Wolfe went on to explain "And nobody had to have it spelled out for them. Everything was becoming allegorical, understood by the group mind, and especially this: You're either on the bus ... or off the bus."

That dividing line between where the bus ends and the rest of the world begins, right where Wolfe was sitting, is the only place to get some decent perspective on the whole situation. So I'm perched at that vantage point, and inside the voting bus I'm seeing Brad Friedman, Bev Harris, Lynn Landes, Rob Kall, Teresa Hommel, Ellen Theisen, Mark Crispin Miller, Greg Palast, Ion Sancho, Doug Kelner, David Chaum, and Dennis Kucinich all arguing about something, but the vibe is upbeat. And outside the bus there's Doug Lewis, Wally O'Dell, Tom Wilkey, Theresa LePore, Linda Lamone, Jeb Bush, Karl Rove, Hans von Spakovsky, Jim Dickson, and Matt Damschroeder just milling around. These are not comprehensive lists (since I'm somewhat myopic and have never been very good with names or faces), and I'm certainly not saying that any of these folks have affiliations with each other, though maybe some do.

What's bugging me is that I can't tell whether Rush Holt and HR 811 are on the bus, or not, right now. Though the bill's predecessor versions (from the prior two Congresses) seemed to be on the bus, none of Holt's bills have ever made it totally clear that the voter verified papers would actually be the real ballots, by ensuring that 100% of them would be counted (preferably by hand, in public, and before the election night returns are reported).

The folks who are truly on the bus all seem to grasp this reality. Holt's latest bill, especially the revised version, comes with Avi Rubin, David Dill, Barbara Simons, and maybe even Ron Rivest, each of whom have wandered on and off the bus before. Plus now there's the Microsoft attorneys too, and Holt's backyard buddy Avante, who hopped on when the bus passed through their adjacent parking lots (see photo below).

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




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