Guest Blogged by Alan Breslauer
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'Democracy's Gold Standard'
Hand-marked, hand-counted ballots...
GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal 2012...
The Secret Koch Brothers Tapes...
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Guest Blogged by Alan Breslauer
Now that we're finally back at The BRAD BLOG World News Headquarters in Los Angeles (for a few days at least) and have shaken off our road buzz (for now), gotten through the latest Sibel Edmonds blockbusters (until the next shoe drops) and have overcome last Friday's maddening 24 hour Internet outage, we've got some catching up to do on New Hampshire's continuing mess of a "recount."
Luckily for us, as we've been traveling for the last few days, and pulling off other related miracles, the hand counters in Concord took a break as of last Friday for a long weekend, which includes today's Martin Luther King Day holiday. As we all know, MLK would have hated the idea of anybody actually counting votes on his holiday, so we're glad the folks from the NH SoS office decided to let the ballots sit around and cool off in the darkness for three long days in a vault somewhere (maybe). The counting, which has so far covered just a small portion of all of the ballots, will resume on Tuesday.
So...From the latest hand count numbers, to the latest media coverage, to the latest reports from Election Integrity experts on the ground --- including one amazing photo essay illustrating New Hampshire's "chain of custody" protocol for its ballots, 80% of which have never been counted or examined by a single human being (that we know of) --- let's get caught up a bit.
Fasten your seatbelts and make sure your Pinto has a full tank of gas...
Who says Hillary doesn't have what it takes to beat Republicans at their own game next November?
In an afternoon press conference, the campaign's State Director David Cohen and Washington-based election attorney Bob Bauer said that an indeterminate number of caucus locations closed their doors at 11:30 AM --- a half hour before the noon starting time --- because manuals provided by Hillary Clinton's campaign incorrectly stated the earlier start time. Once the door to a caucus are closed, no other voters may participate, according to party rules.
Earlier in the day, Obama campaign manager David Plouffe sent this statement to volunteers:
“We currently have reports of over 200 separate incidents of trouble at caucus sites, including doors being closed up to thirty minutes early, registration forms running out so people were turned away, and ID being requested and checked in a non-uniform fashion. This is in addition to the Clinton campaign’s efforts to confuse voters and call into question the at-large caucus sites which clearly had an affect on turnout at these locations. These kinds of Clinton campaign tactics were part of an entire week’s worth of false, divisive, attacks designed to mislead caucus-goers and discredit the caucus itself."
At the Sunday afternoon press conference, the campaign said it had 300 election incident reports.
As mentioned last night in this disturbing article, the early results of the hand counts of one Diebold precinct in Dennis Kucinich's election contest in New Hampshire are now being posted, as they come in, at this New Hampshire SoS page.
As mentioned earlier today, NH SoS Bill Gardner told WMUR in NH that "We did nine of the 12 wards in Manchester, and a lot of the votes were exactly the same...Some went up by a vote or two." He didn't, of course, note that a lot of the vote counts (most of them) were off by 5 or more.
And now, the rest of the numbers from the rest of the Manchester wards are coming on. And get a load of Ward 5:
All of the other candidates seem to have lost votes as well. No clue who received them instead, and must run out to tonight's Oakland screening of UNCOUNTED: The New Math of American Elections. But I thought you'd want to know.
WMUR might want to know too. Since their only source seems to be whatever Gardner tells them. They can be contacted here.
There are more fresh numbers there, but we haven't yet had time to review 'em. Other than that, everything is fine with your election system. Or, as WMUR "reported" at 6pm ET today: "The continuing Democratic primary recount in New Hampshire has not found any voting problems."
UPDATE: The New Hampshire Union Leader reports this as the reason for the huge disparities discovered via the hand count:
We've been on the road, and thus, unable to confirm that explanation one way or another, or even add this update from yesterday's paper until now. But we're happy to share it with you nonetheless (even as some dKos fans in comments, have suggested our lack of pointing it out as some sort of "conspiracy theory". Get over yourself, kids. And stand up for democracy while you're at it!)
Also meanwhile...Out there in MSM world, where reality creates its own definition, WMUR is reporting that all is fine in New Hampshire:
Well, they're sort of correct. "Voting" problems aren't the concern. As we frequently point out, the voters are still doing fine. Leave them alone. The election problems, and the horrible administration thereof, are another matter entirely. And on that front, loads of problems have been "found." But only if you bother to look at them, of course.
Given WMUR's following quote from NH Sec. of State Bill Gardner, which is demonstrably wrong in 3 seconds time if you bother to look at the SoS's very own web page for hand count results, it's not a surprise that WMUR thinks everything is just rosy:
That is what we in the business of actual reporting would call: a lie. Check the numbers for yourself. Yeah, it's technical true that "a lot of the votes were exactly the same," as Gardner says, in the same way that a lot of the troops who go to Iraq don't get killed.
But many more vote counts were not at all the same, ranging anywhere from 5 to 8 votes off in regular cases, across almost all candidates.
And before you say that's no big deal, we'll remind you that in 2004, had just 6 votes per precinct been registered in Ohio for John Kerry instead of George W. Bush, we'd have a different person sitting in the White House right now.
Other than that, and the fact that Gardner has no idea where the memory cards are for his Diebold machines, and all other matter of horrible election oversight, yeah, everything's just fine in New Hampshire.
WMUR Newsroom contact page
Blogged by Brad Friedman from on the road...
(As mentioned in previous items, I'm now on the road --- currently in Oakland for the Thursday night screening of the more-ironically-named-than-ever documentary, UNCOUNTED: The New Math of American Elections --- and doing my best to keep up while moving. So apologies for the terse reports for the moment, as I continue to roll and have limited time online.)
LATEST OUT OF NH: Disparities being found during hand-counts of ballots, in many wards, many candidates. Diebold op-scan memory cards unaccounted for at the moment, Secretary of State (SoS) doesn't track them after elections, doesn't track error reports during elections. LHS Associates (see below) handles all of it instead, according to reports on the ground. Public records request reveals hundreds of ballots in one area scanned as blank due to incorrect ink used on ballots, and other problems on LHS problem report forms.
Numbers are now being posted from both the Democratic and Republican hand-counts in the NH Primary Election contest. So far, only wards in Manchester (Hillsborough County) have been hand-counted, and disparities between the original counts from the Diebold optical-scan machine and the hand inspections seem to be occurring in many wards, and for many candidates.
Here is the SoS Recount page with the totals, that I haven't yet been able to review in full.
While sources on the ground at the counting today have told me that officials were not announcing the originally counted results at the counting room, the SoS web page lists what they claim are the original counts --- previously verified by nobody --- versus the recounted numbers.
The disparities, as I've quickly been able to review them, are small, but consistent, in ward after ward, across almost all of the candidates. I'm told that the manufacturers of the optical-scan machines (in this case, Diebold) have estimated an expected error rate of 1% on this type of tallying device which, as noted by one of our contacts in NH, is ridiculous, if you consider that most states and counties only kick in "automatic recounts" when the margin between the two leading candidates is less than .5% or so.
ADDITIONALLY...Public records requests are being made on the spot, for errors and malfunctions at various voting precincts. An early review of the error forms turned over from the public record request made by Election Integrity experts overseeing the counting, has revealed that in Stratham there were some 550 ballots that were not read by the op-scan at all. They were seen as blank ballots. Officials there noticed the problem, and then hand-counted some 3000 ballots after the error was discovered.
Apparently, as we've seen elsewhere, voters were given the wrong pen to use and the op-scanners did not "see" this particular type of ink.
Some of the election day error and incident reports, as read to me over the phone just now by Susan Pynchon of Florida Fair Elections Coalition and Paddy Shaffer of Ohio Election Justice Campaign, both of whom are on the ground in NH overseeing the counts, and assisting Republican contest candidate Albert Howard...
PROBLEM: Printout indicated 550 "blank voted" ballots which indicated that bad pens were used.
SOLUTION: Went to Stratham to confirm that approximately 15 bad pens were used on election day. The town had, by that time, hand counted and announced those results as official.
PROBLEM: Too many blanks, used wrong marking pens
SOLUTION: Sent Gerry and Tina with lucid machines.
(Town of Lebanon, precinct #2, 9:00 (am or pm?))
PROBLEM: Corrupt Count.
SOLUTION: Shut off and back on. Count back to 155.
(Town of Manchester, 9:30pm)
PROBLEM: P/U 3rd Bad Machine per John S. (likely refers to John Silvestro, owner of LHS)
I spoke with Bev Harris of BlackBoxVoting.org, who is also on the ground in NH, and she asks: "If it wasn't 550 ballots, but just 55 or so in some places, would they even have seen it and known to recount ALL of the ballots?"
She also noted that the error report came from LHS Associates, the private company (with the, um, less-than-reputable background) that is the sole Diebold vendor, programmer, operator and service provider in NH and most of the other New England states.
(UPDATE: Harris has more of her own first-hand observations now posted here at BBV.)
LHS, apparently, is the one responsible for tracking (or not) and reporting (or not) any such errors, rather than the Secretary of State or local election officials. That tracks with previous BRAD BLOG reporting on LHS, and how they operate in Connecticut, where there are similar concerns for whether or not the SoS even knows what the error rates are for the system they use, since problem reports are given to LHS instead of to public officials.
The BRAD BLOG has reported within the past few days machine problems during the election in a number of towns. In fact, of the first four towns we called that used the Diebold machines, all four reported machine failures of one type or another.
FURTHER...Voting Rights attorney John Bonifaz, legal director of VoterAction.org, was on the scene today, and just told me that he has great concerns about the transparency of both the initial election and the hand-count auditing process that got under way in earnest today.
"I'm very concerned that this is not a fully transparent process that is happening there," he told me.
The sensitive memory cards containing the programming and tabulation from the Diebold optical-scanners are apparently "missing in action" for the moment. Those cards, as viewers of HBO's Hacking Democracy know by now, may be used to hack an election, such that only a proper hand-count of the paper ballots afterwards will reveal the hack. (See the video of that hack for yourself right here. The same exact machine being hacked in that film was used across the state to count 80% of the ballots in NH in last week's primary.)
And yet, says Bonifaz who spent time today speaking with New Hampshire Secretary of State, Assistant Secretary of State and Deputy Attorney General, nobody seems to have any idea where those cards are and what has become of them.
He says he was told by Secretary of State William Gardner that his office doesn't get involved in tracking what happens to those memory cards. Some have reportedly been returned to LHS, and may have had their memory erased already.
"When you have a private company counting 80% of the votes, and you later learn that the memory cards are unaccounted for, you have a serious question about the transparency and accountability in that process," Bonifaz said.
He notes that federal law requires all materials from elections be preserved for 22 months after the election. So if those materials have already been lost, destroyed, or over-written, there are legal questions that must be addressed.
Bonifaz also noted that while representatives and observers for the Hillary Clinton and Dennis Kucinich campaigns were on site, nobody at all seemed to be there from either the Barack Obama or John Edwards camps. (Incredibly enough, I might add!)
Our earlier report today had a number of important updates that you may wish to review. Including the fact that the Kucinich people have asked for more observers (with video cameras if you have them!) at the State Archives Bldg., 71 South Fruit Street, Concord, New Hampshire, to help oversee the 6 counting teams. Much more in that report as well...
UPDATE 1/17/08 6:25 PM PST by Emily Levy: There are enough volunteers for tomorrow's counting. After Friday's counting, the count will be suspended for the Dr. Martin Luther King Holiday weekend and is scheduled to resume next Tuesday. Folks on the ground in NH ask that you not show up there without talking with someone first, as they don't want anyone to make the trip unless they're needed. Volunteering will be coordinated, and that system is being set up now. Check back here for updates.
As you might have guessed, I'm buried for the moment in a blizzard of incoming calls, emails, and more (such as bad, and misleading, articles and blog items about all of this), even while trying to both learn more details on a number of fronts and keep up with media appearances to discuss the issues so Americans might better understand what's really going on here, and what the concerns really are.
So I'll have much more on all of this tonight, as I get caught up with a number of related items that I've been working on at the same time, while trying to keep up with all of the above.
Until then, consider this an Open Thread. And I hope you'll help me, by continuing to spread the facts about the questions at hand.
Those questions begin with this concern:
While pollsters and the MSM and even theoretically-Progressive bloggers are speculating about what might have gone wrong in dozens of different, independent, transparent pre-election polls --- almost all of which found precisely the same information --- very few seem to be questioning whether the completely unverified results, from 80% of New Hampshire, counted on hackable, error-prone Diebold machines, completely programmed, controlled, and operated by a single, private, less-than-respectable company (LHS Associates), were actually accurate in the first place.
At the same time, evidence exists that even the Exit Polls showed Obama was winning throughout the day, and there have been a number of eyebrow-raising questions about the reported results themselves, as discovered so far, during independent analysis of them. Not enough anomalies have yet been found, in my opinion, to raise any large red flags, but certainly a still-growing number of anomalies for yellow ones.
I'll add that even if the ballots, if they are ever actually counted, turn out to reveal a different result than reported, it could be due to error, not fraud, and if fraud, it needn't have been committed by anybody related, in any way, to the Clinton camp.
I believe we all deserve to know if the results, as reported, were accurate beyond a shadow of a doubt. That is the sensible and responsible question for the moment. And anybody who offers you reasons for why Clinton won (perhaps she did, we cannot know for sure at this time) or why Obama lost (perhaps he did, we cannot know for sure at this time) is doing nothing but irresponsibly speculating.
Discuss. More tonight...
(UPDATE: Okay, more tomorrow instead...promise. Lots going on.)
10 minutes on this morning's Stephanie Miller Show. Discussing why things like actually counting the ballots in New Hampshire would have been a great idea. And on the lunacy and self-destructiveness of progressives (like this uninformed front-pager over at dKos, and his even lesser-informed followers, such as Markos himself) buying into the conspiracy theory that the dozens of verified, independent, multiple-sourced pre-election polls were wrong, but the unverified and uncounted election results, as announced, are somehow magically known to be accurate.
The results might well be right. But unlike the transparent and verifiable polls, no human being has actually bothered to count or even examine 80% of the ballots in NH. So whose the irresponsible crackpot here? Some of these folks are digging their own November grave.
We stay up all night without sleeping and go on Steph's show, you decide...
It's been an exhausting day, as a few folks in the world are finally beginning to open their eyes, and realize that not counting ballots, and trusting instead, in error-prone, hackable machines for "faith-based results" doesn't make a lot of sense. Particularly in an election for which nobody --- and I mean nobody --- has come up with a legitimate explanation for the surprising results. Oh, there's been plenty of speculation, but no actual facts. So why it's so difficult for folks to realize that the biggest unknown here --- what the ballots actually said on them --- has gone wholly unexamined in 80% of NH, continues to elude me.
That point eludes Tribune Media Services columnist Bob Koehler too. So I hope you read his eye-opening take on that for Thursday's corporate mainstream papers.
As promised, in my long, and much-updated original piece from last night, first expressing concerns and asking questions about the NH results, folks today have been looking at the precinct numbers to compare the difference between those which "counted" ballots on Diebold op-scan systems (for about 80% of NH's voters), versus those that still hand-count ballots in the Granite State (about 20% of the votes).
Ben Moseley of The Contrarian, most succinctly covers what other folks have found as well today. Namely, a 7 point overall bump for Clinton over Obama where the machines were used instead of hand-counts...
Moseley responsibly notes, however, that there could well be other reasons for Clinton's popularity in areas where Diebold's machines are used, in lieu of actually counting ballots. For example, hand-counting in NH is generally done in the more rural areas and smaller precincts. Perhaps Obama is more popular, or Clinton less, in such areas for any number of reasons.
The comparisons are only anecdotally useful for that reason. However, had the hand-counted results matched up similarly to those in Diebold areas, it might well have been a sign that there was little to worry about. (Even if I personally think not counting ballots is always something to worry about. But that's just me, one of those whacky pro-Democracy fellers, I guess.)
Moseley a blogger and political science student from American University, writes about Clinton's Diebold bump: "Does this show election fraud? Right now I'm not sure, but the possibility definitely remains and must not be taken off the table."
Then, in two updates, he offers a coupla more eye-brow raisers...
Syndicated Tribune Media Services columnist Bob Koehler bumps up our serious concerns about last night's wholly untransparent, and still-uncounted (by anything but a hackable Diebold computer, and a company with an executive criminal past, to say the least) New Hampshire Primary election results, from "blogger conspiracy theory" to mainstream media concern.
Here are the first few grafs of his column, set to run in tomorrow's editions of subscribing mainstream media papers...
As the breathless sports coverage of the presidential primaries bursts around me this morning, I’m doing my best to resist surrendering to the contrived drama about “comeback kids” and the flying shrapnel of numbers and hold onto my troubled skepticism about the electoral process, or at least most of it.
First of all, before we get too enthusiastic about feminist solidarity or wax knowingly about New Hampshire Democrats’ traditional soft-heartedness toward the Clinton family, let’s ponder yet again the possibility of tainted results, which is such an unfun prospect most of the media can’t bear to remember that all the problems we’ve had with electronic voting machines — and Diebold machines in particular, which dominate New Hampshire polling places — remain unsolved.
Did the Hillary campaign really defy the pollsters? She had been trailing Barack Obama by 13 percentage points, 42 to 29, in a recent Zogby poll, as election watchdog Brad Friedman pointed out. And the weekend’s “rapturous packed rallies for Mr. Obama,” as the New York Times put it, “suggested Mrs. Clinton was in dire shape.”
So when she emerged from the Tuesday primary with an 8,000-vote and 3-percentage-point victory over Obama, perhaps — considering the notorious unreliability, not to mention hackability, of Diebold machines — the media might have hoisted a few red flags in the coverage, rather than immediately chalk the results up to Clinton’s tears and voter unpredictability. (Oh, if only more reporters considered red flags patriotic.)
The fact is, whatever actually happened in New Hampshire voting booths on Tuesday, our elections are horrifically insecure. For instance, Bev Harris, of the highly respected voting watchdog organization Black Box Voting, recently wrote that the Diebold 1.94w optical scan machines used in some 55 percent of New Hampshire precincts (representing more than 80 percent of the state’s voters) are “the exact same make, model and version hacked in the Black Box Voting project in Leon County (Florida)” a few years ago. They haven’t been upgraded; the security problems haven’t been fixed.
National, or at least media, denial about this situation doesn’t say much for the strength of our democracy.
The rest of the column is just as good, in which he discusses the MSM's "inability to incorporate news of ongoing voting-machine insecurity into actual election coverage."
[UPDATED several times at end of article, and still developing with new updates...]
I'm not sure why Obama would have conceded so soon, given the virtually inexplicable turn of events in New Hampshire tonight.
What's going on here? Before proceeding, I recommend you read the third section of the post I just ran an hour or so ago, concerning the way the ballots are counted in New Hampshire, largely on Diebold optical-scan voting systems, wholly controlled and programmed by a very very bad company named LHS Associates.
Those Diebold op-scan machines are the exact same ones that were hacked in the HBO documentary, Hacking Democracy. See the previous report, as I recommend, which also includes a video of that hack, and footage of the guy who runs LHS Associates.
That said, the the pre-election pollster's numbers (NOTE: that's not Exit Polls, but Pre-Election Polls!) were dead-on, for the most part, on the Republican side, as well as on the Democratic side. Except in the do-or-die (for Hillary) Clinton v. Obama race. I'm watching MSNBC right now, and they all seem to agree that the results, for the moment, defy explanation.
Here's a screenshot of a round up of all of the latest polls from RealClearPolitics.com tonight, and more, to get an idea of the serious concerns here...
Guest Editorial by Kenneth Anderson
Endlessly mundane and always uninformative, the moribund struggle for party nominations in what we so disrespectfully still call the "presidential campaign" inhabit a realm of such vacuous inanity one can palpably sense malignant tumors of ennui forming within.
While would-be Republican candidates spar for the GOP nomination by appealing to brain stem functions (that is, when they're not extolling us with tales of their heavenly devotion), Democrats carry themselves at only a marginally elevated level. This is not to say that there are not candidates --- on both sides --- who would like to raise the bar and address actual issues and policy, but those are shunned by our craven and cack-handed media mavens, who never seem to tire of their perceived role as king-maker in what has become --- for the world's "greatest democracy" --- an embarrassing spectacle of the most base and primitive dimensions. I suspect if media moguls could get Romney and Huckabee to square off in a cage fight, well, that would be next on the tour of the candidates. Who needs all this talk? Though the American public demand campaigns of substance, there appears too little of that on the political horizon, while furry idiots like Wolf Blitzer express puzzlement at the term "triangulating" as it pertains to Hillary Clinton.
What we constantly hear from the corporate media, though it is never stated quite so bluntly, is that those with the money become the kings. The American political campaign system is now a big-money bonanza for media corporations. These corporations prop up candidates with the most money knowing full well that that money will come straight back to them in the form of campaign advertising. The media are now simply advertisers for the biggest political spenders, which is perhaps the reason why the campaign cycle is now virtually continuous. It is a positive feedback loop, reinforcing in the minds of the public that the only viable candidates are the ones with the money, the polls reflect this, more money pours in for those "viable candidates," which in turn cycles right back to the media money machine.
Which is why I am constantly amazed that the so-called "progressive" blogs have chosen to endorse corporate-backed candidates like Hillary Clinton.
Though Dennis Kucinich espouses ideals resonant with most liberal voters, he is as marginalized by progressives as much as the mainstream media as "unelectable," though no one ever seems to understand or explain exactly what that means. Is it his ears?
By all appearances, blogs such as dKos, MyDD, etc, have now simply become another arm of the Democratic party and their backing of the major, big-money candidates simply because they are deemed "electable" entirely betrays the original purpose of their fora.
And yet, Fox "News" continues to anoint her (and the rest of the MSM plays along, as usual). Go figure.
Meanwhile, fellow Democrats Barack Obama of Illinois and John Edwards of North Carolina would defeat or tie every one of the Republicans, this latest survey shows.
The numbers, just out, are here...
Guest Blogged by Alan Breslauer
UPDATE: The mainstream media also critical of the "Clinton News Network (CNN)"
Among the experts trotted out by CNN to comment was James Carville, a Democratic strategist and CNN commentator who is also a close friend of Mrs. Clinton and a contributor to her campaign.
Mr. Carville’s presence aroused the fury of rivals and bloggers. They called it a conflict of interest and criticized CNN.
“Would it kill CNN to disclose that James Carville is a partisan Clinton supporter when talking about the presidential race?” Markos Moulitsas wrote on his liberal blog, Daily Kos. Mr. Moulitsas drew hundreds of comments.
We're not talking about the candidates here, but about the shamelessly high-pressure pitch machine that has replaced the Cable News Network's once smart and reliable campaign coverage. Was there ever a better backdrop than Las Vegas for the traveling wreck of a journalistic carnival that CNN's political journalism has become? And can there now be any doubt that, in his last life, Wolf Blitzer had a booth on the midway, barking for the bearded lady and the dog-faced boy?
Tim Dickinson at Rolling Stone wonders if Wolf Blitzer is a douche or just a dislikeable fellow for running interference on behalf of Hillary.
Eric Altermann thought Joe Biden won the debate while, "The loser was Wolf Blitzer."
And the Gateway Pundit has an excellent rundown on the entire CNN hearts Hillary debacle.
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