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By Brad Friedman on 9/13/2007 11:00am PT  

Well, that's somewhat amusing. An 800 number that I just gave out to folks while on the Thom Hartmann Program for the U.S. Capitol Switchboard has now apparently been switched to an "adult" phone service! Whoops!

Please use this one instead: 1-800-828-0498

I've just tested it, and it gets you through to Congress. Successfully. Though perhaps not as much fun as the other number, this one will allow you to ask for your Congress Members and tell them it's time to ban DRE touch-screen voting machines once and for all! No more excuses.

Even the New York Times editorialized just last week that "electronic voting has been an abysmal failure" and then they went on (finally!) to call for a federal bill "banning the use of touch-screen voting machines."

Rep. Susan Davis (D-CA) has filed an amendment to the fatally flawed Holt Election Reform Bill (HR 811) that restricts such machines, but even that doesn't go far enough. Worse, the House Rules Committee may not even allow her amendment to be debated or added to the bill. So call your reps, and demand that they amend the Holt Election Reform Bill (HR 811) to ban touch-screen voting machines and to require a paper ballot for every vote cast in America!

Holt's bill does not do that right now --- no matter how much propaganda you are given to the contrary by the bill's supporters!

Please don't dial the other number that I gave out on the air. As Peter B. Collins --- who's sitting in for Hartmann today --- said: that number is apparently for Sen. David Vitter's private use only. Our apologies for the confusion. Especially to the Senator.

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Will House Democrats Seize the Opportunity Before Them?
By Bob Bancroft on 9/10/2007 9:33am PT  

Guest Blogged by Bob Bancroft of VotersUnite

Just over a month has passed since California Secretary of State Bowen’s ground-breaking “Top to Bottom” review was made public. The study, conducted over the course of nearly half a year, took a comprehensive look at electronic voting machines that directly record and tabulate votes. The results were unambiguous.

According to the report, “all systems analyzed were inadequate to ensure accuracy and integrity of the election results”. Computer scientists found that the secret software “contains serious design flaws that...attackers could exploit to affect election outcomes.” Despite the oft-cited rationale that e-voting expands the franchise for people with disabilities, the report starkly concluded that “[N]one met the accessibility requirements of current law”.

This report, along with countless others, leaves little doubt as to the correct course of action. As the New York Times put it in a recent editorial, “Electronic voting has been an abysmal failure.” The editors of "The Paper of Record" joined election integrity activists and watchdog groups across the country in calling upon Congress to ban these machines.

In fact, some members of Congress have caught on. Rep. Susan Davis (D-CA) said in a recent statement, “The wealth of data and opinions on this topic are so strong that I feel Congress would be remiss if we do not allow a debate on the question of whether and how Direct Recording Electronic (DRE) Voting Machines should be used in federal elections.”

Despite all of this, Democratic House leadership continues to push Rep. Rush Holt's HR 811, a bill so badly compromised that one member of the powerful House Rules Committee reportedly referred to it as “Microsoft 811”. Alcee Hastings (D-FL) was referring to the fact that some of the bill’s most vital protections were stripped, replaced by new, vendor-friendly language allegedly supplied by Microsoft.

So it seems the most vocal opposition to this Democrat-sponsored bill comes from fellow Democrats. The irony was not lost on House Republicans, who took some satisfaction pointing out the in-fighting. All of this begs the question: why does House leadership continue its stubborn support of e-voting?

Only Majority Leader Steny Hoyer knows for certain.

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

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Republicans 'Chortle' as House Democrats Wrangle in an Attempt to Bring Real Election Reform to a Crumbling System of Democracy...
By Brad Friedman on 9/7/2007 10:54am PT  

By Brad Friedman from Richfield, UT...

As we reported from a source late last night, today's scheduled hearing in the House Rules Committee for Rush Holt's Election Reform Bill (HR 811) has been canceled. The same source had also said that if the hearing was canceled, it could mean an "indefinite hold" for the controversial legislation.

Today, Republicans are predictably enjoying what has been termed as a Democratic "split," by The Hill, and a Democratic "revolt," by Politico, in the majority-led Rules Committee, once known as "The Speakers Committee" since it's generally the last stop before legislation hits the House Floor. It's also the place where the leadership determines whether amendments will be allowed to be brought for such legislation.

Of course, what Republicans seem to find most amusing is that Democrats in Congress don't necessarily march in lock-step, as they do. Instead, the Democrats seem to have this crazy idea that in a democracy, there should be actual, responsible debate, care, and attention to details for an Election Reform bill which would have enormous national consequences to every local, state, and federal race in the union for decades to come. Go figure.

"Democrats believe in democracy, unlike that monolith we had before," committee chairwoman Louise Slaughter (D-NY) told The Hill.

Nonetheless, the Republicans are attempting to make partisan hay from the situation. Minority Leader John Boehner's website described the situation as a "House Committee Meltdown" yesterday. A spokesperson for David Drier (R-CA), the ranking member on the House Committee described the situation as "chaos."

They're all right. Democracy is chaos. Though the Holt bill has been largely dysfunctional from the get-go as its lead author, Rush Holt (D-NJ) began with a very open process, inviting many voices (including our own) into the bill's drafting process, but then shut down the process in favor of both fear and agenda-driven interests...

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

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Folks Still Need to Contact Rules Committee, Scheduled to Reconvene Friday Morning at 10:30am ET, Though That Could be Changing
Reps. Hinchey and Lee Now Joined as Co-Sponsors of Davis's Amendment...
By Brad Friedman on 9/7/2007 12:07am PT  

Blogged by Brad Friedman from Richfield, UT (Bruce Funk Country!)...

[UPDATE: As we reported from our source late last night in the article below, the Rules Committee hearing today was indeed canceled. See below for more details.]

Have been on the road all day, so playing late-night catch up. So here's a few tid-bits, items, rumors, and innuendos as we've been able to collect them from various sources concerning the latest on the fate of the Holt Election Reform Bill (HR 811) in the U.S. House and the proposed Susan Davis (D-CA) amendment for it.

To briefly recap, Davis's amendment, if allowed by the House Rules Committee to be considered with the bill, would limit use of Direct Recording Electronic (DRE) voting machines to one per polling place on Election Day, but allow their full use during Early Voting periods. Unlike CA Secretary of State Debra Bowen's similar restriction, her amendment, as currently drafted, would not require a 100% manual count of the touch-screen "paper trails." Many more details on that amendment reported here yesterday, followed by a full statement we received from Davis herself later in the evening, in which she described the matter of whether to use DREs or not as the "800 pound gorilla" that folks in Congress, up until now, have been largely afraid of debating at all.

But that seems to be changing quickly.

The New York Times last night gave the idea of a full ban on DREs a boost when they called for exactly that in a long-overdue editorial in this morning's paper calling E-voting an "abysmal failure." They said, "It is unfortunate that the [Holt] bill does not contain a provision banning the use of touch-screen voting machines," adding, "There is still time before the bill becomes law to add a ban on touch-screen voting." And, "If the House fails to do so, the Senate should," and that putting it off to 2012 --- as Davis's amendment as currently drafted does --- is "too long to wait." Huzzah.

Now to the latest updates at this hour...

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

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Says 'Electronic Voting Has Been an Abysmal Failure,' Calls on Congress to Add DRE Ban to Rush Holt's Election Reform Bill...
By Brad Friedman on 9/5/2007 11:14pm PT  

Blogged by Brad from Colorado...

In an editorial for Thursday's paper, the New York Times has finally called for an all-out ban on touch-screen voting machines.

Writing that "electronic voting has been an abysmal failure," the newspaper of record --- which has been an abysmal failure, overall, in investigating and reporting on election-related issues over the past many years --- opines in favor of the flawed Rush Holt Election Reform Bill, though aptly declares that "The bill lacks one important thing: a ban on touch-screen voting machines."

They add that "there is still time before the bill becomes law to add a ban on touch-screen voting" and that scheduling such changes for 2012 is "too long to wait."

Here are the grafs that the Times gets almost exactly right [emphasis ours]:

It is unfortunate that the bill does not contain a provision banning the use of touch-screen voting machines. A touch-screen ban would encourage states to use optical scan machines, which rely on paper ballots read by a computer, like a standardized test form. Optical scans are less expensive and less vulnerable to vote theft.

There is still time before the bill becomes law to add a ban on touch-screen voting. If the House fails to do so, the Senate should, and it should fight for it to be in the final bill.

There has been a spirited debate about how quickly to require reforms to be implemented. There have been calls for putting a solution off until 2012. That is too long to wait.

Not to look a gift horse in the mouth, but what took you so long, New York Times? But never mind that. The question now is: What is taking Congress --- specifically Congressional Democrats --- so long?

It's E-Voting: Game Over. Time to ban DREs once and for all, precisely as The BRAD BLOG has been calling for now for years. Even the NY Times gets it. Finally. So can we now please end this infernal nightmare once and for all?

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The California Congresswoman Hopes Her Attempt to Amend the Rush Holt Election Reform Bill 'Sparks Debate' on the Issue of Banning Touch-Screen Voting Systems
Says 'Wealth of Data So Strong, Congress Would be Remiss If We Do Not Allow a Debate'...
By Brad Friedman on 9/5/2007 10:48pm PT  

"As we have looked closely at all the issues concerning Election Day voting systems, we are still ignoring the 800 pound gorilla in the room," declared California Congresswoman Susan Davis in a statement sent to The BRAD BLOG late this afternoon.

That 800 pound gorilla, Davis goes on to say, is "the question of whether and how Direct Recording Electronic (DRE) Voting Machines should be used in federal elections."

Her statement (posted in full at the end of this article) followed on the heels of our exclusive BRAD BLOG report earlier today detailing Davis's attempt to restrict the use of DREs (often referred to as touch-screen voting machines) to no more than one per polling place on Election Day in federal elections.

Davis's proposed amendment is stalled for the moment as the U.S. House Rules Committee debates whether Rep. Rush Holt's (D-NJ) flawed and controversial Election Reform Bill (HR 811) will be sent to the floor of the House at all and, if so, whether or not amendments will be allowed with it. (See this morning's report for more specifics and details.)

The amendment is similar to, though weaker than, California Secretary of State Debra Bowen's recently imposed restrictions on DRE voting systems in the Golden State, which also require a manual hand-count of 100% of the so-called "paper trails" produced by the touch-screen machines.

"There is one controversial issue that seems to come up again and again in my discussions with voters, activists, and elections officials. It is an issue that has been dealt with in many states including my home state of California just recently with the Secretary of State’s Top-to-Bottom review," Davis said, adding that "the wealth of data and opinions on this topic are so strong that I feel Congress would be remiss if we do not allow a debate on" the use of DREs in federal elections.

As a member of the House Administration Committee, which passed the bill some months ago along party lines, Davis could have brought such an amendment then. Indeed, we personally met with Davis earlier this year in her home district in San Diego --- the site of more than a few controversial touch-screen elections --- in hopes of conveying the dangers of such voting systems. While clearly concerned about the issue at the time, Davis was not yet prepared to call for either a ban or any sort of restriction on the machines that failed at hundreds, if not thousands, of precincts across the country during the 2006 election cycle.

But that was before Bowen's landmark analysis, as carried out by computer scientists at the University of California, added fuel to the anti-DRE fire, finding severe and alarming vulnerabilities in every e-voting system they tested.

With the Bowen wind at the backs of California's sizable and powerful Congressional contingent, things may well be changing, if Davis's "attempt [to] spark debate on this issue" is any indication.

In concluding her statement, Davis expressed her hope that Congress might finally address the now-unavoidable question of DRE usage in the wake of what has become a virtual mountain of evidence against them.

"Our democracy is too important to ignore this issue any longer," the Congresswoman concluded.

Rep. Susan Davis's complete statement is posted in full below...

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

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Tune in at 8pm ET (5pm PT)! Call in at 856-227-1360!
'Be the Media' With Us as We Jump in to Guest Host at Last Minute from Colorado!
By Brad Friedman on 9/5/2007 4:20pm PT  

Blogged by Brad from somewhere in Colorado...

Have just been asked to fill in, at the last minute, as Guest Host for Mary Ann Gould on her Voice of the Voters radio program tonight at 8pm ET (5pm PT).

Please join us as I jump in to host her show as heard on the air on WNJC 1360AM in Philadelphia and South New Jersey (Rush Holt country!), and across the world via this online listening link.

We'll have more details on today's breaking Holt bill information, the Davis amendment, and other late-breaking voting news.

As we're doing this at the last minute, without guests or preparation, we'll be happy to take your calls, questions and thoughts at 856-227-1360. As usual, VoV and BRAD BLOG stalwart John Gideon of VotersUnite.org, a weekly regular on the show, will also be joining us to discuss all the latest!

Please join us, call us, and otherwise consider this an Open thread for use during the show! (Hit the Comments link below, let us know what's on your mind and then hit REFRESH to keep up with the conversation!)


POST-SHOW UPDATE: Thanks for those who tuned in! Apologies to those who had a bad net stream. Apparently we overloaded their stream. Here then is the archived hour, with all of the day's Rush Holt news, and guests Bob Fitrakis, Bruce Funk, Paddy Schaeffer and John Gideon.

Brad Guest Hosting Voice of the Voters, 9/5/07 (appx. 1 hour)...

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Gives the State Eight Days To Find An Alternative To Touch-Screen Voting Machines
Ruling in Holt's Home State Disallows the Very Voting Machines His Federal Bill Would Institutionalize!
By John Gideon on 9/5/2007 12:22pm PT  

Just announced this morning and reported by The New Jersey Star-Ledger is the news that a state judge has given the state Attorney General eight days to report an alternate means of voting to the state's 10,000 touch-screen machines.

The ruling undoubtedly comes as an embarrassment to Congressman Rush Holt of New Jersey, who has been championing an Election Reform bill in the U.S. House that would allow for the very voting systems the judge in his own state has now disallowed.

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

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The BRAD BLOG Has Confirmed That Congresswoman Susan Davis Will Introduce Such an Amendment This Afternoon --- If Allowed --- as Rush Holt's Controversial HR 811 Goes to Rules Committee Before Introduction on House Floor
UPDATED SEVERAL TIMES: Amendment Now Endorsed by MoveOn, Verified Voting, VoteTrustUSA; Source Says Holt on Defensive in Committee Hearing...
By Brad Friedman on 9/5/2007 9:49am PT  

By Brad Friedman from Glenwood Springs, CO...

[ED NOTE: Many updates have been posted throughout the day on this item. Please see bottom of article for the latest updates!]

An amendment to either ban or restrict the use of Direct Recording Electronic (DRE, usually touch-screen) voting systems may be added to Rep. Rush Holt's (D-NJ) Election Reform Bill by California Congresswoman Susan Davis today, The BRAD BLOG can now confirm.

After learning of the possibility early this morning, we have now confirmed with Davis's office that she is mulling such an amendment to present to the House Rules Committee, which is set to meet this afternoon at 3pm ET to determine which amendments will be allowed for debate on Holt's controversial HR 811 election bill. The legislation is currently scheduled to come up for debate on the House Floor as soon as it's passed out of the Rules Committee.

UPDATE: Davis's office has now confirmed they will bring such an amendment if allowed by the Rules Committee and by Leadership.

The committee will decide whether or not to allow amendments to the bill at all once it's on the House floor. The BRAD BLOG has learned that the committee essentially has three options in that regard. They can move the bill forward with a "Closed Rule," meaning no amendments are allowed on the bill; a "Restricted Rule," meaning only certain amendments will be allowed for debate, or an "Open Rule," which would allow any amendment to be brought to the bill while it's on the House floor.

The phone and fax numbers for members of the Rules Committee are posted below, along with the contact information for House Leaders Nancy Pelosi and Steny Hoyer, who would be instrumental in allowing such an amendment to be brought.

At this hour, Davis's office is considering language for such an amendment, conferring with legal authorities and gauging potential support from colleagues. They may be considering restrictions on DRE usage, rather than a complete ban, along the lines of what California's Secretary of State Debra Bowen implemented recently after her independent "Top-to-Bottom Review" found severe vulnerabilities in all of the states certified touch-screen voting systems.

After the landmark study, carried out by the University of California, Bowen implemented restrictions on DRE systems made by Diebold, Sequoia Voting Systems, and other major manufacturers. Only one DRE per polling place will be allowed in California's 2008 elections in order to marginally meet federal accessibility requirements for disabled voters. Bowen's restrictions also allow for DRE use in Early Voting, though all such systems must have 100% of their "Voter Verified Paper Audit Trails" (VVPATs) manually counted.

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

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'It's No Longer my Bill,' Says Congressman of Software Giant's Successful Removal of One of the Bill's Once-Postive Provisions
Call it 'Microsoft 811' Writes an Election Integrity Advocate...
By Brad Friedman on 9/4/2007 3:13pm PT  

Blogged by Brad from Colorado...

We've been in the woods and off the grid for the past several days, only to return to find that Rep. Rush Holt's (D-NJ) hugely flawed Election Reform bill, HR 811, is said again to finally be coming up for a vote in the U.S. House this week. The claim of an imminent vote on the House floor has been made many times in the past by Holt and his supporters, though this time it's now actually on the schedule of the House Rules Committee for a vote tomorrow on an amendment, as described yesterday by VotersUnite.org's John Gideon, that would move the bill forward even without a mandate that it actually be funded. As well, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) has the bill penciled onto his full House Floor calendar to come up as part of business as early as tomorrow, even though it's currently listed there as "Subject to a Rule" --- presumably in reference to whatever happens in the Rules Committee.

As usual, the scheduling, whether real or imagined, as it has been in the past, brings another surge of misinformation from the bill's powerful supporters. Leading the way this time around is MoveOn.org, which sent out an email to members over the weekend asking if it should support the latest "compromise" version of the bill as it's been hammered out, reportedly, between Hoyer and Holt and secretly brokered behind closed doors by longtime HR811 supporters People for the American Way (PFAW).

While MoveOn is asking members if it should support the bill, the mailing --- more accurately described as a "push poll" --- shows MoveOn's hand by misrepresenting quite a bit of what the bill actually does and doesn't do. So we'd be surprised if its members came out as anything but in favor of supporting the bill. But more on that deceptive mailer in a moment, along with some news on Holt himself reportedly now distancing himself from aspects of his very own bill!...

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

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Rep. Brad Sherman Tells Us He'll Drop Support For HR 811 If CA SoS Debra Bowen Won't Support It
In a Recent Radio Interview, She Said She Does Not...
By Alan Breslauer on 8/30/2007 7:50am PT  

Guest Blogged by Alan Breslauer

Last Thursday we had the opportunity to speak briefly with California U.S. House Rep. Brad Sherman about election integrity reform during one of his appearances here. Sherman, who had nothing but praise for the election integrity efforts of CA Secretary of State Debra Bowen, is a cosponsor of Rep. Rush Holt's (D-NJ) controversial “Voter Confidence and Increased Accessibility Act of 2007,” otherwise infamously known as HR 811.

Sherman stated that he believed that Bowen's landmark, independent “Top-to-Bottom Review” of Direct Recording Electronic (DRE) voting systems --- which resulted in the near-decertification of all but one California voting system after it was found they were all vulnerable to hackers and manipulation and failed to meet even marginal federal disabled voter accessibility standards --- was consistent with the Holt Bill that relies so heavily on the use of the same DRE voting systems.

That Sherman was apparently confused about the difference between what Bowen's study revealed (DREs are not safe to use in elections) and what Holt's bill allows (DREs, as long as they have so-called paper trails of the type Bowen's study found could not guarantee secure, accurate elections), is little surprise. Even in the wake of findings which undermine his own bill, Holt has been using Bowen's study, disingenuously, to tout his own exceedingly flawed bill as The BRAD BLOG reported some weeks ago.

However, to Sherman's credit, he agreed to withdraw his co-sponsorship of HR 811 if he learned that Bowen did not support it.

With this in mind, we direct the Congressman to radio talk show host Peter B. Collins's interview with Bowen on June 27, 2007 (audio below, appx 3 mins). Responding to a direct question from Collins about whether she supports the Holt bill, Bowen responded, "I have not. I have worked with the author to try to strengthen the bill, but have not taken a position of support."

We have sent on this information to the Congressman's office, per his instructions, and await his reply.

The BRAD BLOG has previously reported on several other HR 811 co-sponsors, including Reps. Maxine Waters and Dennis Kucinich, who have indicated their intent to withdraw from the bill in the wake of strong opposition to a number of the bill's provisions by many advocates in the Election Integrity community.

UPDATE: Congressman Sherman responds through staffer Esther Azal:

Alan,

According to the conversation you had with the Congressman, he stated that he would withdraw his support of the Holt Bill if Debra Bowen were to "oppose" it. I spoke to Debra Bowen's office and her legislative staff informed me that she has not taken an official position on this piece of legislation.

Thank you for the link.

Esther

Take action to amend the Holt Election Reform Bill!
DEMAND A BAN ON DRE/TOUCH-SCREEN VOTING!
- Email Congress!
- Call your members!
See www.BradBlog.com/Holt for more details, coverage, talking points & information on all of the above!
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Tells AlterNet That His Legislation Would Require Paper Ballots, But It Doesn't...
By Brad Friedman on 8/8/2007 9:54am PT  

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Take action to amend the Holt Election Reform Bill!
DEMAND A BAN ON DRE/TOUCH-SCREEN VOTING!
- Email Congress!
- Call your members!
See www.BradBlog.com/Holt for more details, coverage, talking points & information on all of the above!
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With People for the American Way (PFAW) Serving as Broker, Press Agent...
By Bob Bancroft on 7/30/2007 9:05am PT  

Guest Blogged by Bob Bancroft of VotersUnite

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Blogged by Brad Friedman from somewhere in Texas...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Blogged by Brad from Houston...

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

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

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

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

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

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