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Latest Featured Reports | Saturday, October 25, 2014
Touch-Screens Flip 'No' to 'Yes' on TN Abortion Measure
After the state GOP repealed the law to move to paper ballots, votes now reportedly flipping again on a controversial Amendment to the state Constitution...
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NJ Governor and 2016 Presidential hopeful offers interesting reason why Republicans in three key states need to win in 2014...
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Sentencing of South Africa's Oscar Pistorius offers stark reminder of concepts that seem to have gone missing from the justice system in the U.S...
'Green News Report' 10/21/14
  w/ Brad & Desi
GOP candidates still dodging climate Qs; Mountaintop removal coal mining promotes lung cancer; 2014 on track as hottest year on record; PLUS: LEGO breaks up with Shell Oil...
Previous GNRs: 10/14/14 - 10/16/14 - Archives...
Everything Old is Texas Again
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Congresswoman Sets Impeachment Deadline for Federal Judge Mark Fuller
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SCOTUS ALLOWS TEXAS' DISCRIMINATORY GOP PHOTO ID LAW TO USED IN MIDTERMS
Despite uncontested findings striking down the law as a racially-motivated, 'unconstitutional poll tax', it will be implemented this year...
'Dead Heat' and 'Dirty Tricks': The Nightmare Scenario
Maddow warns: 'With this many top of ticket races tied, turnout will be everything...Now we watch for the ways that people will try to stop voters from turning out or from having their votes counted, by hook or by crook'...
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GOP Photo ID law, which lower court found intentionally discriminatory, is different from recent cases before High Court, say plaintiffs...
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Ryan backs away (sort of) from climate change denial; NatGas isn't a bridge to lower-emissions; PLUS: Did Lockheed-Martin really invent a compact nuclear fusion reactor?...
Bloomberg on BRAD BLOG on Judge Richard Posner on Photo ID Voting Laws...
'By the sounds of it, the floor that supported voter-ID laws has just given way'...
'BradCast': WI, TX, AR Photo ID Rulings
Trouble keeping up with the on-again/off-again court rulings on GOP voter suppression laws? Brad tries to make sense of it all for ya...
WTF?!: FL Gov. Rick Scott Refuses To Appear at Debate With Gov. Charlie Crist
Watch the video. They're calling it 'FanGate'. We're just calling it Florida...
Arkansas Supreme Court Strikes Down State GOP's Photo ID Voting Law
Court determines law, passed over Dem Governor's veto, violates explicit right to vote in state Constitution...
5th Circuit Appeals Panel Restores Texas GOP's 'Discriminatory' Photo ID Law
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Repub Judge Who Approved Nation's 1st Photo ID Law in 2008 Writes Devastating Dissent Against Them
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'Democracy's Gold Standard'
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
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
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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...

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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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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
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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...

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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
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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
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The Secret Koch Brothers Tapes...


With Brad Friedman & Desi Doyen...
By Desi Doyen on 5/3/2012 3:01pm PT  


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IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Environmental group sues to halt killing practices of federal wildlife agency; Court Urged to Order Decision on Nuclear Waste Site; Dept. Of Energy Investigating Harvesting Energy From Methane Hydrates; Pollution from Pavement Sealers?; Rising Coal Exports Have Montana Rail Communities Braced for Worst; AEI& Brookings Must-Read: 'The Republicans Are The Problem'... PLUS: Plant Study Flags Dangers Of Warming World ... and much, MUCH more! ...

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Media, Congress yawn...
By Brad Friedman on 8/17/2009 10:05am PT  

RAW STORY's coverage of the news, and the release of the video demonstration of how to hack a Sequoia AVC Advantage electronic voting machine, began this way last week:

A team of computer scientists at University of California, San Diego, the University of Michigan and Princeton University announced a new way to electronically steal votes Monday.

"We wanted to find if a real criminal could do this, starting from scratch, with no access to source code or other closely guarded technical information," the announcer begins. "We faced several challenges: getting a voting machine, figuring out how it works, discovering a weakness, overcoming the machine's security features and constructing attack software."

"In the end we found that it is possible to undetectably change votes and that such an attack takes a lot less time and money than one might expect," the announcer said.

A Princeton professor was able to acquire five voting machines for just $82 that had been resold on a government surplus website. The acquired machines were originally sold by Sequoia Voting Systems.

Hacks of our electronic voting systems used to be big news. Now though, it's been done so many times, and is apparently so simple to do, that the news hardly registers in the corporate mainstream media (if it ever did in the first place). Yet, almost nothing has been done about virtually any of it to date.

We reported on the Princeton professor, Andrew Appel, acquiring the five Sequoia AVC machines two and a half years ago, that he was able to pick the lock "in seven seconds", and change the chips inside to do anything he might want the machine to do, including change votes after the close of polls on Election Day. The five machines that Appel purchased for $82 on the Internet were purchased by New Jersey just a few years earlier for $10,000 a piece. The state still uses the same hackable, 100% unverifiable voting machines, despite numerous failures during actual elections.

At the time of Appel's purchase, Sequoia Voting System had been touting their "tamperproof products, including ... the AVC Advantage," which, they said, "are sought after from coast to coast for their accuracy and reliability."...

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

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Editorial on key national election reform bill egregiously misrepresented by both the 'Paper of Record' and the Democratic U.S. Congressman who authored it...
By Brad Friedman on 7/15/2009 12:27pm PT  

It's been nearly a month since the New York Times misinformed readers by describing NJ Democratic Congressman Rush Holt's national election reform bill (H.R. 2894) by inaccurately writing that it "would require paper ballots to be used for every vote cast in November 2010."

As it's currently written, it will do no such thing. It won't be until 2014 that a paper ballot for "every vote cast" will be required.

Election integrity expert Ellen Theisen, of VotersUnite.org (who had previously endorsed the bill, until withdrawing the group's endorsement after a different provision was amended prior to final introduction), told us earlier this month she believed the Times' assertion, in the unbylined editorial, was a "glaring inaccuracy" and a "complete misrepresentation of the bill."

Election attorney John Bonifaz, director of VoterAction.org, which has fervently endorsed this version of Holt's bill, later concurred, in response to a request for comment from The BRAD BLOG, that the Times was inaccurate in its representation of the bill.

While the Times has yet to take note, or issue a correction, Holt himself has responded to our concerns by somewhat re-writing the bullet-point on his website --- which had previously offered inaccurate language describing the bill almost identical to the Times' mischaracterization --- in order to somewhat more accurately describe what the bill actually does...

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

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A week later, the 'paper of record' fails to correct egregious 'paper ballots' error in endorsement editorial
Democratic Congressman's own website touts endorsement, repeats same fictitious information about bill...
By Brad Friedman on 7/1/2009 1:19pm PT  

It was a "glaring inaccuracy," according to VotersUnite.org's Ellen Theisen last week.

Yet, even though it's been more than a full week since the New York Times ran an editorial endorsing Rep. Rush Holt (D-NJ)'s new election reform bill (H.R. 2894), in which they included a huge factual error about the legislation, they have failed to issue a correction. Neither have they even bothered to respond to letters to the editor detailing the error, sent to them when we first pointed out the problem last week.

While several aspects of their editorial misled readers about the bill, as we detailed in our original article, one assertion made by the "paper of record" was just out and out incorrect, when they erroneously asserted the following:

Mr. Holt's bill would require paper ballots to be used for every vote cast in November 2010.

On that point, the Times is just plain wrong. Any reading of the bill would quickly reveal as much. Theisen would later call it a "complete misrepresentation."

While the bill, as currently written, would require Direct Recording Electronic (DRE, usually touch-screen) voting machines to print "paper trails" (otherwise known as "voter verifiable paper audit trails" or "VVPAT") by 2010, it decidely does not "require a paper ballot to be used for every vote cast in November 2010." Paper ballots for every voter will not be required by Holt's bill, as it's currently written, and as it's been introduced in the House, until 2014. That's two federal elections away, including one Presidential election. The Times is off by four years in their assertion.

That the NYTimes --- again, known as the "paper of record" for a reason --- would get something as important as that blatantly wrong in an editorial endorsing such a sweeping piece of legislation, is rather incredible in the first place. That they've not bothered to issue a correction, or even respond to a letter pointing out the error, is mind-boggling.

But their appears at least one reason --- though hardly an excuse --- that the Times might have gotten it so wrong. Congressman Holt makes the same wholly erroneous assertion about his own bill on his own Congressional webpage...

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

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Editorial endorsing Rep. Holt's Election Bill Misleads, Gets Facts Wrong...
By Brad Friedman on 6/23/2009 3:28pm PT  

The New York Times just doesn't get it. You'd think, by now, they would. But they don't. And they should print a correction immediately.

In a brief, unbylined editorial yesterday, headlined "How to Trust Electronic Voting," the paper endorses this year's version of Rep. Rush Holt's election reform bill (H.R. 2894). The editorial is misleading and, even worse, blatantly (and inexcusably) inaccurate on at least one important point...

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

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'Final' draft for introduction, committee process sees important improvement following criticism from BRAD BLOG last month; But substantive concerns still remain
A review of the good, the bad and the still ugly...
By Brad Friedman on 3/31/2009 2:32pm PT  

Due, in no small part, to the concerns expressed in our February analysis of the January draft version of this year's Election Reform bill being introduced by Rep. Rush Holt (D-NJ) in the U.S. House, along with a bit of "lobbying" his office for a key change after the publication of that article, the updated version of the bill [PDF], said by his office to be the "final" one before introduction, has been slightly --- one might even say, significantly --- improved to meet one of our major concerns.

Still, while there is a lot of much-needed reform in this federal legislation, there remain many concerns with it as well. So let's take a quick, updated look at the good, the bad and the ugly in the soon-to-be-introduced "final" version of Holt's "Voter Confidence and Increased Accessibility Act of 2009"...

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

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Election Integrity expert Bev Harris compares 'secret software' provisions, 'persistent' e-voting proposals to process that allowed for 'Corporate Personhood'...
By Brad Friedman on 2/25/2009 1:12pm PT  

From BlackBoxVoting.org's Bev Harris, on the section of the new Election Reform bill being proposed in the U.S. House by Rep. Rush Holt (D-NJ), which would federally institutionalize secret software for vote counting, and the requirement of non-disclosure agreements for those who are lucky enough to be allowed permission to examine it...

I've been engaged in debate in private listservs on the so-called "new" Holt Bill, which is basically exactly the same as the old Holt Bill, and every bit as much a danger to our liberty as the other Holt Bill.

In fact, clause for clause, it's pretty much the same. Now, one wonders, in a new administration and with new political realities, why would one put forth a bill that supports secret vote counting?

The Holt Bill, like the persistent reappearance of Internet Voting proposals, reminds me very much of the process corporations followed in the late 1800s while grabbing "corporate personhood." They kept coming back to the well, year after year, defeat after defeat, until one year, someone fell asleep at the wheel and corporations grabbed the "right" to personhood.

What we are seeing in elections today is the surreptitious dismantling of self-government. Heck, if corporations can be persons, why not just choose our decisionmakers and in fact, just vote for us?

Well, we wouldn't allow that, because we'd know that is actually just slavery, giving up our inalienable right to self-government. So it must be done surreptitiously.

Last week, we analyzed the latest draft version [PDF] of Holt's soon-to-be-introduced "Voter Confidence and Increased Accessibility Act" bill in depth. We detailed the dangers of its provisions allowing for secret software --- which even he and his office admit have been included in the bill because Capitol Hill lobbyists from "the proprietary software industry...won" the battle over full software and hardware disclosure --- along with Holt's continued insistence on allowing for the use of unreliable, unverifiable touch-screen voting devices.

The BRAD BLOG has covered your electoral system, tirelessly, fiercely and independently for years, like no other media outlet in the nation. Please support our work, which only you help to fund, with a donation to help us continue the work so few are willing to do. If you like, we'll send you some great, award-winning election integrity documentary films in return! Details on that right here...
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Bill 'improved' to require paper ballots, but they may be marked or printed by computer devices which offer most of the same dangers as current Direct Recording Electronic (DRE) devices...
Additional concerns remain in the previously-defeated, newly-rewritten draft version of the landmark legislation...
By Brad Friedman on 2/20/2009 12:54pm PT  

-- Brad Friedman

Congressman Rush Holt (D-NJ) is preparing to drop a new version of the "Voter Confidence and Increased Accessibility Act" legislation which met so much resistance during the last Congress from both Election Integrity advocates and those opposed to any reform whatsoever alike.

A recent draft of the new legislation [PDF], as obtained by The BRAD BLOG, is an improvement over last session's controversial HR 811 bill (which we covered, at the time, in exhausting detail, as indexed on this special coverage page) in that it would ban the use of Direct Recording Electronic (DRE) voting devices by the 2012 general election. However, the new bill fails to ban all forms of computerized touch-screen voting and, indeed, encourages it through federal funding to help jurisdictions move from DREs to similar, but non-tabulating, Ballot Marking Devices (BMDs).

We could well jump out of the frying pan, and into yet another frying pan, if the legislation passes as currently drafted.

BMDs, which often use touch-screens to allow voters to make selections, offer many of the same flaws and dangers that DRE voting systems do, such as: the possibility that votes may be flipped on the touch-screen to selections other than those chosen by the voter (as seen in state after state on DREs over the last several election cycles); failures to boot up and power outages which keep citizens from being able to vote at all; machine shortages which cause long lines, discouraging voters from waiting to vote; and the requirement for voters to attempt to verify the accuracy of their ballots on three separate occasions, before the computer-marked version of the paper ballot is actually cast.

Holt has offered The BRAD BLOG a fairly puzzling response to our concerns, at least as we read it, which we'll share in full below.

Moreover, in addition to encouraging the use of troublesome, expensive, and hackable electronic BMDs, the new bill would federally institutionalize the ability of private election companies to keep their hardware and software from public review by requiring that anyone who wishes to examine the systems and source code for integrity, must show cause, get "approval" from a governmental body (largely, only scientists, academics, or election officials need apply) and sign a non-disclosure agreement before being allowed to do so.

While the bill offers some improvements over previous versions, the major flaws still inherent in the legislation --- as it's currently drafted --- will fail to ensure the security, accuracy, and transparency that American democracy requires and deserves. As a sweeping piece of (much-needed) federal reform, we'd better make sure that we get it right this time, since it'll be years, perhaps decades, before we get another bite at that apple should this legislation actually be signed into law this time...

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

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BRAD BLOG an 'Irresponsible Nutter Site' Doing the Cause of Election Integrity 'Far More Harm Than Good', According to Irresponsible, Evidence-Free Comment Posted by Front-Page Diarist at Once-Prestigous Blogsite...
UPDATE: The Daily Kos Swiftboater 'DHinMI' is Actually Dana Houle, Recently Resigned Chief of Staff of Rush Holt/Steny Hoyer Supporter, NH's U.S. Rep Paul Hodes
By Brad Friedman on 2/16/2008 3:38pm PT  

[UPDATED: See end of article for information on who this "DHinMI" tool actually is.]

Markos Moulitsas and the band of self-important anonymous losers that he's allowed to dominate the front page at the world's largest supposedly-Progressive blogsite continue their cowardly march towards full self-destruction.

Today's example comes by way of a comment from the anonymous (read: cowardly) "DHinMI", one of the loudest, most obnoxious and knowledge-challenged of Kos' stable of front-page sidekicks hell-bent on further discrediting the once-prestigious website:

Though, unlike Bev Harris and ourselves, who put our real names behind everything we do, "DHinMI" enjoys anonymity as he/she spews his/her unsupported, fact-free allegations. He/she does, however, offer an email address where folks might try to offer this numbskull a few facts if he/she ever becomes interested in any (which seems rather unlikely at this point): DHinMI@yahoo.com

"DHinMI's" comment, ironically enough, is posted in support of a front page article by Moulitsas himself today, in regard to a NYTimes article reporting that some 80 precincts in some of NYC's most African-American dominated precincts registered 0 votes for Barack Obama in their unofficial tallies. Kos then goes on to wonder if the article thus indicates that NYC's "voting machines don't spit out paper ballots? That should be SOP for these things."

NYC, of course, still uses the old lever machines which, of course, do not "spit out paper ballots", something that it seems great champions for the cause of Election Integrity, such as Kos and "DHinMI", ought to know by now.

What "should be SOP for these things," is that people who write at high-profile, influential Internet sites ought to learn what they're writing about before they write about them so that they don't mislead folks into believing they know what they're talking about.

Today's Daily Dose of Daily Kos loser-dom comes on the heels of yesterday's report in which they ominously threatened former CIA agent, Larry Johnson, with permanent banning should he have the temerity to continue his support of Hillary Clinton on their site. Why they seem hell-bent on proving Bill O'Reilly right over there remains a mystery to us, and further begs the question of how long it'll be before the dKos readers who tend to "get it", even as the front-pagers don't, will continue on at that place.

Previous BRAD BLOG-reported examples of dKos front-pagers, including "DHinMI" and Kos himself, busily destroying dKos' previously good name can be found here.

UPDATE: "DHinMI" isn't that anonymous after all. And whaddaya know, he's a member of the official Democratic Party machine. Knock us over with a feather...

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

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By Brad Friedman on 2/3/2008 9:39pm PT  

Rep. Rush Holt (D-NJ) continues misleading America about his two different election reforms bills. On Saturday night's CBS Evening News (video here), he says, in regard to the upcoming Super Tuesday Election: "There will be states around the country where the election results will be in question, and there will be no way to resolve the question."

What he fails to mention is that, should either of his own two federal Election Reform bills be passed into law as currently written, there will still be states around the country where the election results will be in question, and there will still be no way to resolve the question, because he still refuses to include a ban on touch-screen voting machines in either of his two bills.

Incredibly, even his newly introduced "Emergency" bill (which we wrote about back here) would give money for paper ballots only to jurisdictions that don't already use unverifiable touch-screen (DRE) voting systems with so-called "paper trails"...

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

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Says 'Anything Of Value Should Be Auditable And We Know Votes Are Valuable'
Steps Necessary 'To Give Voters The Confidence That They Deserve That Their Votes Will Be Counted As They Intended'
By Alan Breslauer on 1/11/2008 6:22pm PT  

Guest Blogged by Alan Breslauer


IMPORTANT NOTE FROM BRAD: In the above clip, Rep. Rush Holt (D-NJ) speaks about the necessity of a paper ballot for every vote cast, that can be "audited" after an election to ensure voter intent was recorded accurately. It should be noted, however, that while he plans to introduce a small "emergency bill" next week, which would give money to jurisdictions who wish to provide paper ballots to voters in the November 2008 election only, his larger Election Reform bill (HR811) that he has previously been pushing (and refers to near the end of the segment) does not, despite what the Congressman says, require paper ballots be used.

HR811 would continue to allow for DRE (usually called touch-screen) voting systems to be used, as long as they have a so-called "paper trail" printer. DRE "paper trails", however, do not provide a reliable, auditable record of voter intent. Only voter-marked paper ballots --- such as the ones used in New Hampshire --- provide such assurances of an auditable election result. See this Special Coverage page for more info on HR811.

DREs with or without so-called "paper trails" cannot be used safely in any American election. Period.

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Simplified Legislation Offers Money to Jurisdictions Who Wish to Move to Paper Ballots, Optional Audits...
By Brad Friedman on 12/28/2007 1:31pm PT  

Rep. Rush Holt (D-NJ) is trying again. After learning a lesson or two, from his failed attempt to push an unpopular Election Reform bill (HR811) through Congress, he's scaling back in hopes of getting something passed that may help bring accountability to the 2008 election cycle.

The latest version of the bill, coming in at a relatively slim 20 pages, is available here [PDF].

We certainly applaud the effort in general, and note that it mirrors some of the simple, doable-by-'08 initiatives we've been speaking with a few folks in Congress about behind the scenes.

In brief, the bill we've been discussing, with several Congressional offices, after common ground discussions with a number of EI advocates, a representative from the National Association of Counties (NaCO) and even a Republican who had initially worked on the Help America Vote Act (HAVA), but disliked the resulting bill, would call for the following:

  • Money to states and/or counties who wish to move to paper ballot systems.
  • A requirement that all voters be asked before voting if they wish to vote on paper (and that those paper ballots actually be counted before unofficial tallies are released to the media).
  • Grant money to further study disability voting technology and hand-counting systems.
  • Restrictions to no more than one DRE per polling place to marginally meet HAVA's mandate for voters with disabilities.

Holt's new bill would do a few, if not all of those things.

In his run at it this time, his bill would simply offer federal funding for jurisdictions who wish to move to paper ballots (that's good), and also offer money to help pay for post-election audits of those ballots...if they choose to do so. It also sets aside money for study of disability voting technology, as we'd also recommended.

Perhaps he has become a bit too timid after his previous unfortunate experience. Though the bill has not yet been introduced officially --- so language is not yet finalized, thus we'll hold full fire until we see the final product --- the audits recommended in his bill would be optional. As well, there are currently no requirements in his bill to mandate that Election Officials actually count those paper ballots, paid for with federal dollars, before releasing unofficial vote tallies to the media. That last is no small point (just ask Al Gore or Christine Jennings).

And most puzzling of all, in the bill which would only apply to the 2008 general election, there is also no requirement at all to make those federally-funded paper ballots available to all voters who'd like to vote on them.

It seems to us that if a state or county chooses to take federal money to pay for their paper ballots, attaching a few common sense strings, like the ones mentioned above, would be perfectly appropriate. Perhaps such changes can be made during the committee process or on the Senate side.

But hey, no bill's perfect, and this one certainly appears to be a welcome step, at least, in the right direction. It would help to begin turning the Titanic around by making the move to paper ballots much easier. And, most notably, it would not federally institutionalize secret software and Direct Recording Electronic (DRE, touch-screen) voting machines as Holt's previous HR811 would have. That bill, and the many concerns about it, was exhaustively covered by The BRAD BLOG over the past year. (See our special coverage here.)

Steve Rosenfeld at Alternet has details on Holt's new initiative, along with a few scintillating --- and mostly accurate --- quoted comments in reply from yours truly and a few others.

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Nelson and Co-Sponsor Whitehouse Rewrite Originally Introduced Bill to Do Away with Discredited Systems by 2012 and 'Any Subsequent Year'
By Brad Friedman on 11/1/2007 11:07pm PT  

-- By Brad Friedman

After months of being told over and over by Rep. Rush Holt's (D-NJ) office, People for the American Way (PFAW), and many of the other most ardent supporters of Holt's flawed Election Reform Bill (HR811) that "there is no support in Congress for a ban on DREs," it looks like they must have been wrong. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) and co-sponsor Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) filed such a bill today.

Here's the complete bill [PDF] which we've yet to read in full. But note this item from page 41, Line 7:

RESTRICTION ON USE OF DIRECT RECORDING ELECTRONIC VOTING SYSTEMS -
A direct recording electronic voting system may not be used to administer any election for Federal office held in 2012 or any subsequent year.

A ban on such machines, finally? Yes! By 2012? Unfortunately, yes. But let's overlook that last point for a moment.

In a statement issued by Nelson today, pointing out that DRE (often referred to as "touch-screen") voting systems are "unreliable and vulnerable to error," the senator says, "The bottom line is we have to ensure every vote is counted – and, counted properly...Citizens must have confidence in the integrity of their elections.”

The new language banning DREs was added today to a previous version of the same bill which Nelson had introduced originally in early Summer. This version "would be the first [bill] to seek a ban on electronic touch-screen voting machines in federal elections nationwide," according to his statement, which adds that the language was updated after a recent meeting with Florida's Republican Secretary of State Kurt Browning, once an ardent support of DRE voting systems.

When Nelson's original version of the legislation was introduced some months ago, it was largely a "clone version" of Holt's original HR811 introduced in the House, but with a number of extra provisions addressing concerns of voter intimidation and suppression.

Little attention had been given to Nelson's bill at the time, since the Rules Committee was regarded as having jurisdiction for any Election Reform bills in the Senate, and the committee chair, Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-CA), had made clear she intended to introduce her own version of Election Reform as the Senate counterpart to Holt's. She eventually introduced S. 1487, which has been subsequently criticized by Election Integrity advocates as being even more flawed then Holt's much-criticized bill.

(FULL DISCLOSURE: We were invited to work on the Holt bill prior to its introduction, and succeeded in adding several much-improved provisions. Yet the bill, as currently written --- and far more so since being drastically watered down throughout the committee process --- has failed to garner our support.)

DREs: "Not a Reasonable Voting System"

Neither Feinstein's nor Holt's bill had called for a ban on DRE voting systems, however, despite an outcry among Election Integrity advocates and a host of computer scientists and security experts who argued that DREs were vulnerable to hacking, non-transparent, prone to error, antithetical to democracy, and thus simply could not be used safely in elections. With or without a so-called "Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail" (VVPAT) printer attached.

Johns Hopkins computer professor Avi Rubin testified earlier this year that "after four years of studying the issue, I now believe that a DRE with a VVPAT is not a reasonable voting system."

Stanford professor and VerifiedVoting.org founder David Dill, arguing in favor of the Holt bill, admitted, "I would personally prefer to see optical scan machines used nationwide."

And former legislative director of VoteTrustUSA.org Warren Stewart, now also of VerifiedVoting, had told a Senate panel earlier this year that while there were disagreements among some in the EI movement, most had agreed that touch-screen systems must not not be used. "While this broad based movement embraces a wide range of proposals and positions," he testified, "it is unified in the conclusion that the direct electronic recording of votes to computer memory is inimical to democracy."

And yet, all three of the above advocates, along with many others, continued to argue --- while failing to offer any actual evidence for the claim --- that there was simply no support for the idea of a DRE ban in either house of the U.S. Congress.

All the while, The BRAD BLOG had maintained that they, and the other Holt supporters, had fallen victim to a hoax by People for the American Way (PFAW). The popular public advocacy group had long pushed the unsupported notion that there was no congressional support for such a ban, in order to see the bill passed specifically without such a ban. It was one of several false notions being forwarded by the group in favor of the bill, as we argued both here and at Alernet early in the year.

A careful examination of PFAW's on-the-record statements, and numerous on and off-the-record conversations with their Executive Director and legislative leaders by The BRAD BLOG over many months, revealed that PFAW (almost inexplicably) has actually been advocating in favor of the use of dangerous DRE voting systems in American elections. It's fair to say that Holt's bill had thus been held hostage to ensure that such systems would not be banned.

But then came the fallout from the failed 13th Congressional District election last November in Nelson's home state, followed by California Sec. of State Debra Bowen's landmark scientific findings, Rep. Susan Davis's (D-CA) amendment this past summer, and a killer editorial from the New York Times as the tide began to slowly turn...

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

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The BRAD BLOG Speaks with Dennis and His Wife About Voting Rights, Election Reform, Impeachment, and the Need for an Outcry from the American People
Rep. Kucinich Vows to Use 'Privileged Resolution' to Force Vote on Impeachment of Cheney in U.S. House...
By Emily Levy on 10/24/2007 5:35am PT  

Guest Blogged by Emily Levy

ED NOTE: The BRAD BLOG's Emily Levy sat down with Dennis Kucinich on Sunday, just before serving as a hand-counter for votes in the first Democratic San Mateo County Presidential Straw Poll. Results of that poll are below. Kucinich spoke about his plans to force a vote in the U.S. House on the Impeachment of Dick Cheney; on having officially removed his name as co-sponsor of Rep. Rush Holt's flawed Election Reform Bill; his interest in hand-counted paper ballots; and concerns about e-voting systems. As it turns out, however, his wife Elizabeth may have stolen the show with an impassioned speech on what America must do to restore "a rigged and a fake political system," which, she told Levy, is "very, very undemocratic."

===

Candidate Kucinich was surrounded by supporters after his speech to Democrats in San Mateo County, just south of San Francisco, over the weekend. One asked the U.S. House Rep (D-OH) about the failures of the current Congress to protect the Constitution. "If Congress did the right thing," he answered, "they would be talking … about impeachment."

At that point, I broke in with a question:

EMILY LEVY: What do you think it'll take for more of your colleagues to do the right thing?

REP. DENNIS KUCINICH: The American people: an outcry. That's what we ought to be talking about.

EL: What do they hear? What do they hear? I mean, I hear the American people screaming. How come they can't hear?

DK: They aren't. You're exactly right. You know, I introduced House Resolution 333 because I heard from the American people and they said they wanted some response to make Dick Cheney accountable for the statements that he made that took us into a war based on lies. And the statements he made that would take us into a conflict against Iran. Again, more lies.

The President is now openly invoking the specter of World War III with respect to Iran. He ought to be held accountable also. I'm the only member of Congress who stepped forward on the issue of making Dick Cheney accountable. And now we have 21 members who've joined me. That's a step in the right direction. But I'm going to go beyond that. I'm going to call a privileged resolution, at which point, would force a vote --- at least if it's only on a procedural motion --- members are going to have to confront this issue of impeachment. They're not going to escape it. This is a question of defending our Constitution. It really is.

(In a follow up phone call with the Congressman last night, I asked when he intended to introduce the privileged resolution in the House. He said it would happen in "the next few weeks," but couldn't be more specific. Now back to San Mateo...)

Kucinich burst into laughter when I showed him the teabag tag hanging from my shirt pocket. I praised his ingeniously deadpan appearance on The Colbert Report. He searched around in his jacket pocket for his mini-Colbert but was unable to produce the little guy.

While I waited for my turn to speak with Kucinich alone, I spoke with his wife, Elizabeth, who was "enjoying the last day of my twenties." (Happy birthday, Elizabeth.) I asked her the question that was really on my mind: Knowing what he knows about the theft of the last two presidential elections, why would her husband run for president?

After she said, "Are you kidding?" several times with increasing alacrity, I asked if I could turn on my voice recorder...

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

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Tight Three-Way Race Falling Victim to Crappy Voting Technology - Who Could Have Predicted It?
RELATED: Federal Bill That Wouldn't Have Corrected the Problem - Rush Holt's HR 811 - Back 'In the Freezer' in the House, According to Roll Call...
By Brad Friedman on 9/20/2007 2:16pm PT  

We were in Nashville a couple of months ago, at a meeting of the Davidson County Board of Elections. We tried to warn them that they would run into trouble with their ES&S touch-screen voting machines, probably sooner, rather than later. But the Kool-Aid drunk Republicans on the board would have none of it. "Paper ballots are the biggest scam ever perpetrated on America," one of them told us. To our astonishment, he actually seemed to believe himself.

That GOP blend must be some very tasty Kool-Aid.

Meanwhile, the nice Democrats who were in the majority on the board sat there and said and did nothing. They were very very nice. And completely clueless.

And now, next door in Memphis (Shelby County), where they use equally bad Diebold touch-screen machines, Mayor Willie Herenton is calling for an end to Early Voting, which began this week, as reports of votes flipping began coming into his office just after polls opened...

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

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