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Latest Featured Reports | Tuesday, September 16, 2014
'Green News Report' 9/16/14
  w/ Brad & Desi
Hottest year on record in CA, hottest Aug. on record for planet; Record hurricane hits Cabo San Lucas; Warm-water fish found in Alaska; PLUS: Burlington, VT now 100% renewable!...
Previous GNRs: 9/11/14 - 9/9/14 - Archives...
Wife-Beating Federal Judge Finally Mentioned on MSNBC
MSNBC contributor asks about lack of outrage, impeachment for federal judge Mark Fuller who beat his wife bloody in August...
Outrage Slowly Grows After Wife-Beating Federal Judge Avoids Prosecution
Fellow GOP District Court judge calls for accountability, says 'no one should trust Mark Fuller's judgment in a federal trial courtroom'...
GOP PHOTO ID RESTRICTION LAW RESTORED IN WI
Republican voter suppression laws getting huge boosts from GOP-appointed federal judges in NC, where 100s recently disenfranchised, and now in WI, in advance of critical mid-terms...
Not Taking the ISIS Bait
The media and the U.S. Government have decided to give the latest barbaric idiots to rise up in the Middle East all the publicity they crave, despite the 'exaggerated' threat posed to the U.S., or even in the region. We're not interested in playing along...
'Green News Report' 9/11/14
  w/ Brad & Desi
Greenhouse gas emissions jump at record rate; Australia's emissions soar after carbon tax axed; Oceans acidifying at historic rate; PLUS: Some good news: Ozone Hole begone!...
Previous GNRs: 9/9/14 - 9/4/14 - Archives...
Accountability for Judge Fuller?; O, Mighty ISIS!:
KPFK 'BradCast'
Will Alabama's wife-beating U.S. District Court Judge face impeachment? Plus: Callers, lots of 'em, on what to do about ISIS...
Wife-Beaters: Rice Loses Job; Judge Fuller Continues Lifetime Appointment
America was outraged by the NFL superstar. So, what about Alabama's federal judge who beat his wife bloody and is now off scot-free?...
'Green News Report' 9/9/14
Floods: Catastrophic in Pakistan, Historic in Phoenix; Hillary on Global Warming; Rand Paul dismisses; PLUS: Lobster Boat Blockade wins!...
GA GOP State Senator: Too Many Black People Will Vote in DeKalb County!
Vows to close 'election loophole' allowing convenient Early Voting in area 'dominated by African Americans'; UPDATE: Says just wants 'more educated voters'...
GOP Allows 'Citizens United' Amendment to Move Forward, Will Vote Against
Koch Brothers' beneficiary Sen. Rand Paul wouldn't even allow that much...
NYT Public Editor Calls Out Paper for Phony 'Balance' on 'Voter Fraud', Global Warming
Margaret Sullivan's no weasel (unlike a predecessor). She's calling out the 'paper of record' again for misreporting on GOP myths...
Siegelman's Judge Strikes Deal to Avoid Trial After Beating Wife Bloody
U.S. District Court Judge Mark Fuller to have record expunged following drug/alcohol evaluation, domestic abuse counseling...
ObamaCare 'Nightmare': 2015 Premiums Rates to DECLINE in Many Major Cities
This whole 'tyrannical government takeover of health care' thing is really a disaster...for Republicans...
Federal Judge Orders Restoration of Early Voting Hours in OH -- Again
'Ohio GOP keeps trying to cut early voting and federal courts keep striking the cuts down'...
'Green News Report' 9/4/14
Accountability for BP in Gulf Oil Spill Disaster and for PG&E in deadly pipeline explosion; CA bans plastic bags, regulates groundwater for first time in history...
The Corruption of U.S. District Court Judge Martin Feldman: KPFK 'BradCast'
GUEST: Attorney and BRAD BLOG legal analyst Ernest A. Canning...
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...


Voters, State Law, Rendered Meaningless, Plaintiffs Likely to Appeal Decision to CA Supreme Court...
By Brad Friedman on 3/22/2007 6:35pm PT  
"We need not (and do not) resolve the question of whether the election contest at issue here fits within the category of election contests that may be entertained without infringing on Congress' authority because the instant dispute can, and should, be resolved on a much narrower ground — mootness."
-- CA Court of Appeals (4th District), Majority Opinion, Jacobson v. Bilbray, 3/20/07

Need more evidence for why election results need to be right on Election Night? Look no further than the now-infamous CA50 Busby/Bilbray Special U.S. House Election to replace Randy "Duke" Cunningham last June.

The latest chapter finds an Appellate Court in California dismissing the case on the grounds that the issue is now "moot" because the six month term for the original election being challenged has now ended. That, despite the defense never even having raised the issue. And thus, the voters' right to even have a proper recount as afforded by state law, in order to find out who had the most votes in an election, is usurped by the U.S. Congress's ultimate Constitutional authority to decide who will be seated in its chambers....

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

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But Secretary Bowen Says Board of Supes Proposed 'Ground Rules' for Test 'Overly Narrow,' 'Would Prove Little and Give Voters False Sense of Security'
Supervisor Stone's Hope for SoS Participation in '1000 to 1' Bet with Election Integrity Advocates under Unilateral, Unrealistic Restrictions Flatly Rejected by State's New Election Chief...
By Brad Friedman on 2/26/2007 4:33pm PT  

California's new Secretary of State, Debra Bowen, has flatly rejected a request from Riverside County, CA County Supervisor Jeff Stone to participate in a "hack test" challenge originally proposed to Election Integrity Advocates in response to their concerns about security and accuracy for the county's electronic touch-screen voting machines, The BRAD BLOG has learned.

In a letter sent to Stone last week obtained by The BRAD BLOG (posted in full at the end of this article), Secretary Bowen found that though there was no state law to prohibit such a test, her office would not participate, in part due to the narrow restrictions initially insisted upon by Supervisor Stone.

In her reply to a letter sent in early January to outgoing Secretary of State Bruce McPherson just days before he would leave office, Bowen wrote, "I am not aware of any state law that would prohibit the type of security test that you described in your letter." Unlike Bowen, the former SoS had been seen as far more favorable towards relaxed security issues for electronic voting.

As The BRAD BLOG originally reported last December, Stone had initially challenged local Election Integrity advocates "a thousand to one," during a public hearing, that a programmer would be unable to "manipulate" the county's voting system.

In her letter to McPherson Bowen joined other computer security professionals who had previously rejected Stone's unilateral suggestions for ground rules, calling them "overly narrow," potentially giving voters a "false sense of security." Stone had written to the former SoS that just "15 minutes would be allotted" for the test and the programmer who accepted the challenge --- noted computer security expert Harri Hursti --- would be prohibited from using any tools or reaching around the back of the machine. "In every sense," Stone wrote, "he would be like any voter on Election Day approaching a voting unit at the polls."

Bowen, however, balked at Stone's unilateral ground rules, writing in response...

While I appreciate and applaud your goal of increasing the voters' confidence in the systems they use to cast their ballots, an overly narrow test such as the one you have constructed would, at best, prove very little and, at worst, give voters a false sense of security. Your demonstration, if the results are as you expect, can prove only that it is difficult to successfully tamper with voting equiopment in a limited time frame in a polling place setting if poll workers have the ability to preclude voters from taking certain actions (e.g., reaching around the back of the machine) and/or bringing certain items (e.g., tools) into the voting booth with them.

As you know, voting equipment is subject to tampering in a wide range of settings.

This test you have proposed wouldn't address the issue of whether a someone who can reach around the back of the machine undetected or can bring a tool into the voting booth without being noticed by a poll worker will be able to gain access to the machine.

As well, Bowen also highlighted the point made by Election Integrity Advocates, computer security professionals, and even the Baker/Carter "Blue Ribbon" National Election Reform Commission that made the point that the greatest threat to e-voting security likely comes from election insiders, such as officials or poll workers who have been allowed to take pre-programmed, election-ready systems home with them in the days prior to the election as allowed by Riverside County.

Such insider access is seen as a far greater threat to security than that from voters on Election Day. As Bowen wrote in reply...

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

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By Brad Friedman on 2/22/2007 1:06pm PT  

San Francisco is considering "upgrading" their voting systems to use Sequoia machines. They are demanding that the company publicly disclose their software source code for all to see. It's called transparency. That's a good thing.

But Sequoia is refusing. Yesterday, there was another discussion/debate on the topic at an SF Board of Supes hearing. The San Francisco Examiner reported this laugh line from the Sequoia spokeshole:

Steven Bennet, a Sequoia representative, said Sequoia won't agree to public disclosure [of source code on voting machines] since it would "jeopardize the security to all of our customers in California and across the country."

For those just joining the fun, who may be unfamiliar with guffaw-worthiness of Bennet's claim about concern for the security of his company's shitty voting systems, we'll refer you to this small sampling of previous relevant BRAD BLOG articles:

...Along with a heads up that we'll have more --- much more --- on Sequoia's "concerns" about the security of their voting systems (or lack thereof) in a detailed investigative report in the very near future...

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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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New Jersey Attorney to Ask Judge for Decertification of Company's 'AVC Advantage' System After Machines Found Untested by State
Princeton Professor Paid $86 For Online Purchase of 5 Machines That a NJ County Paid $40,000 for...
By John Gideon on 2/10/2007 10:52pm PT  

Guest Blogged by John Gideon, with additional reporting by Brad Friedman

"We can take a version of Sequoia's software program and modify it to do something different --- like appear to count votes, but really move them from one candidate to another. And it can be programmed to do that only on Tuesdays in November, and at any other time. You can't detect it," Princeton's Professor of Computer Science Andrew Appel explains in New Jersey's Star-Ledger today.

Like Diebold's touch-screen machines before them, Sequoia's voting machines have now been found to be hackable in seconds by a Princeton University professor who says the systems could be "easily...rigged to throw an election." Someone may wish to let the folks in Riverside County, CA, know since County Supervisors there recently issued a "thousand to one" bet that their Sequoia voting systems couldn't be manipulated.

In the same report, it was revealed that an attorney has filed suit, claiming the Sequoia AVC Advantage Direct Recording Electronic (DRE) voting machines used in 18 of New Jersey's 21 counties were never reviewed by the state before they were improperly certified for use and that Princeton's Appel was able to acquire five Sequoia voting machines for only $86. The same machines were recently purchased by the state for $8,000 apiece.

According to the Star-Ledger...

[Attorney Penny] Venetis filed legal papers Friday claiming the state never certified some 10,000 Sequoia AVC Advantage machines as secure or reliable as required by law.

"There is zero documentation --- no proof whatsoever --- that any state official has ever reviewed Sequoia machines," Venetis, co-director of the Rutgers Constitutional Litigation Clinic, said in an interview. "This means you cannot use them. ... These machines are being used to count most of the votes in the state without being tested in any way, shape or form."

Venetis argues that the state certification is in violation of NJ state law which says such systems must "correctly register and accurately count all votes cast," be "of durable construction" to be used "safely, efficiently, and accurately."

The lack of documentation and testing, however, is hardly the only problem, as reported by the paper today. "Had the machines been tested," Election Integrity advocates have found, "they would have proved to be a hacker's dream."

Princeton Computer Science Professor Andrew Appel revealed that he bought 5 of the Advantage voting machines from an on-line government equipment clearinghouse for a total of $86. Virtually identical machines were bought in 2005 by Essex County New Jersey for $8,000 per machine.

"Appel had to submit only minimal personal information and a cashier's check to close the deal," the Star-Ledger reports. He and his team then put the 5 machines to good use...

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

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The California County Supervisor Continues to Hide Behind Unrealistic 'Conditions' on His Sequoia Voting Machine 'Hack Challenge'
COLUMNIST: 'A test that doesn't allow the hacker to work on the machines as handled prior to the election and after it is no real test at all.'
By Brad Friedman on 1/18/2007 5:14pm PT  

There were two fresh articles this week in the media on the Riverside Hack Challenge as initially reported by The BRAD BLOG after the throw-down by Riverside County Supervisor Jeff Stone to Election Integrity Advocates just before the holidays in early December.

You'll recall he bet "a thousand to one" that the county's touch-screen Sequoia voting system could not be hacked. He did so during a public meeting on video tape. If you don't recall, we'll summarize as briefly as we can. He challenged and the Election Integrity Advocates accepted, as noted voting machine hacker and computer security expert Harri Hursti agreed to take the challenge, and then Stone and the rest of the Riverside Supervisors began to go wobbly. Stone even went so far as to invent ridiculous, unrealistic, unilateral conditions for the hack test in a desperate letter sent to then-outgoing Secretary of State Bruce McPherson, in an apparent hope for a life line from the county's old, but now out-of-power, state ally up in Sacramento. He doesn't appear to have gotten one. The new SoS Debra Bowen's office has informally told The BRAD BLOG they see no legal hurdles to such an independent test of voting machine security.

But with internationally respected computer security experts such as Hursti and Dr. Herbert F. Thompson of Security Innovation (the author of some 12 books on the topic including How to Break Software Security: Effective Techniques for Security Testing and The Software Vulnerability Guide) and others having pointed out that Stone's unilaterally created conditions meant to simulate an attempted hack by a voter on election day were silly, unrealistic, and not the way such a penetration test would ever be carried out in the real world, Stone continues to cower behind them as reported by both media reports this week.

In doing so, Stone is tacitly admitting, of course, that his county's electronic voting systems --- which the Board of Supervisors and Riverside Registrar of Voters Barbara Dunmore have devoutly declared to be "secure" --- are, in fact, anything but.

They know damned well they are not. And their evidence-free claims to the contrary over the last 10 years or so are revealed as little more than unsubstantiated hot air now that their true lack of confidence in their own voting systems has been put on display for the world.

As they well know --- as do the Election Integrity advocates on the ground in Riverside --- the real threat to unsecured, hackable Electronic Voting Machines comes from insiders. That much has been written about time and again by computer security experts and in any number of reports on the topic. Even the biased and partisan and pro-electronic voting machine Baker/Carter Commission admitted as much when their final report on National Election Reform said, "Software can be modified maliciously before being installed into individual voting machines. There is no reason to trust insiders in the election industry any more than in other industries."

Revealed along with Stone's disingenuous "condition" in his letter to McPherson, that the hack tester may not "reach around the back of the machine" --- (Stone may have forgotten when he made his challenge initially that The BRAD BLOG had long ago reported that voters could vote as many times as they wanted on Sequoia touch-screen systems by merely pressing a yellow button on the back of the machine) --- the folks in Riverside have exposed themselves as knowing full well about the unreliability of their crappy, unsecured voting system.

Unless Stone allows a legitimate security penetration test to be held on his systems, as would occur in the commercial world for any such mission-critical, secure system, he is signaling to his constituents, the state of California, and America that even he has no confidence in the security of the equipment supplied to his voters to exercise their precious democratic franchise.

Two more reporters picked up the shameful tale this week in local media.

The Desert Sun's Nicole C. Brambila filed a short piece on Sunday headlined "Hacking debate gains traction" in which Stone and his pusillanimous peeps once again re-iterate the phony conditions for "no tools and no dismantling the machine. And, the hacker has to infiltrate the system in 15 minutes, the estimated time it takes a voter to do his or her civic duty."

We laugh knowingly in Stone's general direction. Even as he likely cries inside.

Of fresh note in Brambila's piece are these final grafs...

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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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ALSO: LA Times Blogger Calls us 'State's Most Persistent Blogger-Watchdog on the Dangers of E-Voting'
By Brad Friedman on 1/9/2007 11:57am PT  

There's been a fair amount of media coverage (at least in California papers), since our scoop yesterday of new CA SoS Debra Bowen's brilliant appointment of dogged E-voting critic and VoterAction.org attorney Lowell Finley to the post of Deputy SoS for Voting Systems Technology and Policy.

There are a couple more ironic points to the Finley appointment above and beyond the ones we mentioned yesterday. One we knew about, another we hadn't.

In his report on the matter, Oakland Tribune's Ian Hoffman reminds us of the qui tam lawsuit filed by Finley against voting machine company Diebold and joined by the state in 2004, which eventually resulted in a settlement:

Working with Bev Harris of BlackBoxVoting.org, Finley sued Diebold Election Systems Inc., alleging the firm made misrepresentations to Alameda County and California to sell its voting machines. Diebold settled the case for $2.6 million.

In a point we hadn't previously known, the Los Angeles Times blogger on state capitol and gubernatorial issues, Robert Sallady, highlighted our coverage here --- describing us as "The state's most persistent blogger-watchdog on the dangers of voting technology" (thank you, sir) --- and advanced the story a bit with this irony-laden chestnut about the man who will now, officially, be working as an appointed member of Schwarzenegger's own Executive Branch:

Almost exactly three years ago, Finley represented Bill Camp of the Sacramento Labor Council. They successfully convinced a Superior Court judge that Schwarzenegger had illegally "loaned" his campaign $4.5 million. The ruling forced Schwarzenegger to pay the money back from his own pocket rather than through campaign contributions. The absurdly optimist governor called the ruling "fantastic," but Finley told the S.F. Chronicle (me, working there) at the time: "He is on some kind of medication that I would like to have a prescription for."

Office Christmas parties next year in Sacramento ought to be a hoot. Hopefully the Governator supplies the medication.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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As Tom Elias Writes the Single Best MSM Article We've Ever Seen on the Current State of E-Voting!
By Brad Friedman on 1/5/2007 2:34pm PT  

Syndicated California columnist, Thomas D. Elias, has written the single best MSM article we've ever read on the problems with the current state of our electoral system. Period.

In covering changes planned by incoming CA Secretary of State Debra Bowen, Elias --- for the first time, at least that I've ever seen anywhere in the MSM --- squarely places the blame for the entire fine mess we're in exactly where it belongs: On the voting machine companies and the elections officials who have been their enablers and apologists...

An anxious time is just about to begin for the two interest groups that have done more than anyone else in recent years to make Californians feel uncertain about the integrity of their elections.

Those two groups: The makers of electronic voting machines of various types, many of whose devices have been shown to be both hackable and problematic in other ways. And county voter registrars who bought those machines largely with many millions of dollars derived from the federal Help America Vote Act, which was more concerned about speed of conversion to new technologies than whether they were trustworthy.

BOOM! Outta the park!

Those two grafs alone are enough for us to nominate Elias for a Pulitzer. Yes, the reporting on this matter in the MSM has been so indescribably horrible from the get-go that we're willing to give it all up just for those two grafs which finally tell the story correctly.

But Elias doesn't stop there. While we recommend you read his entire piece in full we'll highlight a few of the most notable grafs just to make sure as many eyeballs as possible actually get to see them --- for the good news they offer about a possibly brighter future for elections in California (and thus, the rest of the country) and for the fact that they have actually been printed in a fairly major metropolitan newspaper.

On Bowen's plans for full 'top to bottom review' of outgoing SoS McPherson's rubber-stamp certification of all electronic voting machines...

"We are going to do a top to bottom review of every voting system in use anywhere in California," Bowen said in an interview. "Yes, I would consider decertifying machines that my predecessor approved. Unfortunately, we've spent a lot of money on equipment that's not ready for prime time. Any Fortune 500 company would have sent those machines back with a letter saying they just don't do what they're supposed to."

On the truth (finally!) about the feckless and incompetent McPherson...

Her appointed predecessor and defeated autumn opponent, the former Republican State Sen. Bruce McPherson of Santa Cruz was anything but a skeptic, certifying virtually any machine any county registrar wanted to buy and imposing questionable checks on their performance.

On the infamous voting machine "sleepovers" (as first revealed by The BRAD BLOG)...

"I believe the sleepovers are illegal," said Bowen, an attorney. "If a system is designed so it can't be used without sitting in someone's garage for two weeks, we should not be using that system. We could fix this by using a bonded delivery service like Brinks to deliver machines to polling places at a set time."

In short, the voting machine status quo will not be lasting long in the nascent Bowen era.

On the worthlessness of so-called "paper trails" and the difficulty candidates face in paying exorbitant costs for recounts as capriciously and arbitrarily priced by Registrars...

Bowen recognizes that a paper trail is worthless unless it's usable. "I think $50,000 to do a recount where it might be merited is a tiny price to pay for democracy and to keep people from saying ‘forget about the election, they'll never count our votes anyway.' " So she'll support at least a partial public subsidy of recounts, where they appear justified.

NOTE: The BRAD BLOG covered the cost quoted for a recount in last summer's Special U.S. House Election in CA-50's Francine Busby/Brian Bilbray race. The cost, capriciously and arbitrarily quoted for that recount in order to make it impossible by the horrendous San Diego County Registar of Voters Mikel Haas: $150,000!

Elias also speaks of Sequoia's yellow button "feature" (also first revealed on these pages, but who's counting?) and more. All of which, apparently, forces the Ventura County Star to label the piece, regretablly, as "opinion." But so be it. We'll take what we can get.

If you'd like to send a thank you note to Elias and the VCS Editors, please click here!

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Sends Letter to Outgoing CA Sec. of State Attempting to Create New Conditions for Hack Test! Computer Security Experts Deride!
EXCLUSIVE: Riverside County Supervisor Jeff Stone's Complete Letter to SoS Bruce McPherson
By Brad Friedman on 1/5/2007 2:16am PT  

In a letter obtained by The BRAD BLOG, Riverside County, California, Supervisor Jeff Stone attempts to move the goal posts concerning the ill-considered challenge he issued to Election Integrity advocates in December during a public, video-taped meeting.

The letter, sent by Stone on Wednesday to outgoing California Secretary of State Bruce McPherson, attempts to unilaterally create unrealistic (some might say desperate) conditions for a proposed hack test of the county's electronic touch-screen voting machines, made by Sequoia Voting Systems. When Stone initially issued the challenge, he included no such ground rules.

Computer scientists and security experts interviewed by The BRAD BLOG, as well as a number of reports and studies from nationally-recognized bodies, understand what Stone apparently doesn't: the major threat to voting machine malfeasance comes not from a voter walking up to a voting system on Election Day, but rather from insiders who are easily able to gain unsupervised access to the machines.

The letter to McPherson from Stone is posted in full at the end of this article.

As we reported in mid-December, Stone had challenged Election Integrity advocates from Democracy for America-Temecula Valley, during a public meeting of the County Supervisors, to bring in a programmer willing to attempt a hack of Riverside's voting system. His offer was simply "to set up an appointment with one of our machines and I’d like him or her [the programmer] to verify that they can manipulate that machine."

At the time, Stone also said that he was willing to "bet a thousand to one that they cannot do it." (A transcript of the entire, very brief exchange was posted in full in our initial report of the incident, along with links to two different video tapes of the encounter.)

The challenge was accepted the following week by the activists, who announced that noted Finnish computer security expert Harri Hursti had volulnteered to perform the tests. Hursti previously hacked a paper-based Diebold optical-scan voting system in Leon County, Florida, at the end of 2005, and helped to discover alarming vulnerabilities in Diebold touch-screen systems a few months later in Emery County, Utah.

At the same time, a number of other election integrity advocates announced they would stake $1000 for charity on the bet against Stone's $1 million.

Stone's challenge, as seen in the videos and transcript, specified no ground rules for the hack test, despite what Stone indicates in his letter to McPherson. The Secretary of State recently lost his election bid to the incoming Debra Bowen, who will take office this coming Monday. McPherson had been much criticized for his lax testing of voting systems and his close relationship with a number of voting machine companies such as Diebold. He had also been quite friendly with the all-Republican Board of Supervisors in Riverside, The BRAD BLOG has learned from sources on the ground. Bowen has been an outspoken critic of McPherson's rubber-stamp certification of electronic voting systems in the state as well as the lack of adequate security standards specified for their use.

In his letter --- notably sent to McPherson and not to Bowen --- Stone creates a number of ground rules which were neither specified at the time of the challenge, nor the norm for standard security and vulnerability testing of computer software and hardware. He incorrectly characterizes the December exchange with Election Integrity advocate Maxine Ewig this way, unilaterally creating absurd conditions for the testing in the process...

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

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By Brad Friedman on 1/4/2007 10:38am PT  

To follow up on a story we covered last October when arrests were made in Orange County, California after it was discovered that "bounty hunters" were being paid per Republican voter registration form they gathered and had switched Democratic (and Green and even non-citizen) voter registration forms to Republican...LA Times is reporting today that sentencing for the first two of the 12 arrested has let the pair off with "time served" and three years probation:

A couple who admitted to their roles in an Orange County voter registration scandal each were sentenced Wednesday to three years' formal probation.

Jason Holly, 36, and Jessica Sundell, 23, were among 12 people arrested last fall and charged with signing up voters during a registration drive that resulted in dozens of Democrats fraudulently being signed up as Republicans.
...
The scandal, which surfaced nearly a year ago, embarrassed the county's Republican Party and underscored problems that can arise with signature-gathering and voter registration campaigns in which the workers are paid by the signature.

Campaign watchdogs have derisively called that practice a "bounty hunter" system.

One of the 12 defendants, Don Williams, remains a fugitive.

The others await court appearances and face up to three years in prison.

AP adds a couple of details on how the scam was perpetrated:

According to prosecutors, the recruiters went to shopping malls and campuses and asked residents to sign petitions for lower taxes or stricter sex offender laws, then tricked them into signing voter registration cards for the Republican party. The registration drive paid up to $10 per registrant.

Neither of the reports went into much detail on exactly who was behind the scheme, aside from statements from GOP spokesmen that they knew nothing about it. Naturally.

(Anybody spoken to Nathan Sproul lately?)

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Now-Former 13-Year Election Official Who Once Told Us Voters We Need to Have 'Trust and Faith' in How He Would Count Votes --- May Avoid Jail Time in Light of Plea Deal
By Brad Friedman on 12/21/2006 2:32pm PT  

In October of 2005, just prior to the Monterey County, California, November election with their new Sequoia touch-screen voting systems, Registrar of Voters Tony Anchundo and I had an exchange on the radio.

I asked him how discrepancies would be handled, if any where found between the machine-reported results on the county's new systems and their planned audit of the so-called "paper trails" from those unreliable systems.

The 13-year election official told me, "There is obviously going to have to be some trust and faith in the elections official, or in this case, it's me." (Audio of full interview here, text transcript here, Court TV's Catherine Crier picked up on our reporting of this in a video editorial here.)

In July of 2006, Tony "Trust Me" Anchundo was charged with 43 criminal counts, including charges of forgery, misapplication of funds, embezzlement, falsification of accounts, and grand theft of nearly $80,000 of county money.

And finally, yesterday, Anchundo pleaded "no contest" to all 43 criminal charges. His plea deal may help him avoid any jail time at all. He was facing a possibility of some 12 years in prison.

Anchundo is the response to any election official, politician, or voting machine company spokeshole who tells us that we must have trust in our election officials that they will do the right thing, that they'd never do anything untoward, or game an election...despite their insider access to voting equipment which can be tampered with to allow a single person to steal an entire election without a trace left behind.

Trust them? Not bloody likely. Our country and constitution were not founded on trust, but on checks and balances. The disgraced and disgraceful Anchundo is the object lesson in that regard for all time.

Truly honest elections officials will be the first to tell you they should not be trusted. Leon County, Florida Supervisor of Elections Ion Sancho said in a speech last May, "Trust no one. If it can't be verified, it can't be used." Yolo County, California Registrar-Clerk Freddie Oakley wrote last June in response to many of her colleagues, "They also argue that, 'We have to trust our poll workers…' To this I can only say…only if they are incorruptible."

MORAL: Trust no one when it comes to your elections. Especially those who tell you they should be trusted.

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By Brad Friedman on 12/19/2006 9:05am PT  

Concerning Riverside County, California, Supervisor Jeff Stone's public, video taped "thousand to one" bet to Election Integrity advocates that they couldn't find a hacker who could manipulate the county's Sequoia voting system, and the acceptance of that challenge by noted Finnish hacker of Diebold systems Harri Hursti, the Press Enterprise's Dan Bernstein wrote an amusing column last week which we meant to run previously. Here's a bit of it now in any case...

What will the famed Harri Hursti (reputed defanger of Diebold touch screens) attempt to hack? A Sequoia machine? A vote-counting nerve center? How much time will he have? Will it be a realistic test, proving that nefarious elections workers could pull an inside job?

And if Harri the Hacker succeeds, what then? Sayonara Sequoia? Hello Hanging Chad? And what's this 1,000-to-1 odds business? Would Harri be paid in tax dollars? "I Voted" stickers? Jeff Stone press releases?

Even bigger question: Once Hot Rod Harri has hacked (or gotten thwacked), will we know once and for all that RivCo touch screens are untouchable or need to be touched up?

Also of note, last week the unapologetically rightwing San Diego Union-Tribune also ran an item on the challenge. Though it ran prior to the announcement that Hursti was happy to play along. We don't believe they've followed it up since with the additional news.

Still waiting for Stone's reply to the acceptance of the challenge, on Hursti's behalf, by the DFA-Temecula/SAVE R VOTE folks. Last week, Stone and the rest of the RivCo supes were going wobbly on the offer. We'll see if they wobble off the cliff entirely (and admitting, in the bargain, that their voting systems are not secure) before or after the holidays. The final public meeting, until after the new year, is this morning. We'll let ya know if anything of note comes about.

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The Diebold Whistleblower Looks Back with Gratitude and Forward with Hope...
By Steve Heller on 12/17/2006 7:13pm PT  

Special to The BRAD BLOG by Guest Blogger Stephen Heller

Hi, my name is Steve Heller. Some have referred to me as the "Diebold Whistleblower." For those unfamiliar with my case, you can find a good summation here. You can read articles about the resolution of the case http://www.bradblog.com/?p=3826\">here, here and here.

Brad has been kind enough to allow me this chance to thank you, the progressive community, for all the help and support you gave my wife and me during this very difficult time. We could hardly believe the incredible amount of emotional sustenance and encouragement, as well as all the financial donations to my defense fund, that we received.

We heard from people from all parts of the United States (including Guam and Puerto Rico), and from many parts of the world; the United Kingdom, Japan, Holland, the Netherlands, Germany, France, Brazil, New Zealand, and quite a handful from Canada. Of particular pride to us were the handful of notes and even donations from U.S. military personnel; those really meant a lot to us. We know that soldiers don't make any money, and for some of them to kick in a few bucks for my defense fund really touched me. They're being asked to give so much, and here they were trying to help me and my wife. Truly, we were astounded at the support we received, and I cannot begin to thank all of you enough. Thank you so very, very much. A thousand, million times over, I thank you, and my wife thanks you.

I can't find the words to express our appreciation and thanks to all who donated to the defense fund. In mostly small amounts, the donations added up to enough to cover all the legal expenses we incurred after the fund was established, and that was an astounding thing. Such an outpouring from the world wide progressive community was humbling. I don't know if I would have been as generous to someone in my situation as people were to me, and for me that's a lesson learned.

In many ways, the smaller donations meant more to us than the larger ones. I'll never forget getting a card with a crumpled $5 bill inside and a note written in the quavery handwriting of an elderly person. The note said "I'm sorry this donation is so small, but my monthly check will only go so far. Good luck and God bless you." I can't even begin to describe how much that note, and so many notes and emails like it, whether accompanied by a donation or not, meant to me and my wife. Everyone who contacted us received a reply, either by email or letter, but please allow me to thank you all yet again.

At the risk of embarrassing some people, I want to mention a few names of those who really were exceptionally kind and generous with their time and in many cases even with their hard-earned money…

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

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