w/ Brad & Desi
NATIONWIDE STUDY FINDS ALMOST NO VOTER FRAUD
Just 10 cases of in-person impersonation in all 50 states since 2000...
VIDEO: 'Rise of the Tea Bags'
Brad interviews American patriots...
'Democracy's Gold Standard'
Hand-marked, hand-counted ballots...
GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal 2012...
The Secret Koch Brothers Tapes...
|MORE BRAD BLOG 'SPECIAL COVERAGE' PAGES...|
What kind of a pathetic, backwards, third-world country would allow this sort of thing to happen?
Just in from BBC [emphasis added]...
Issack Hassan said the computer was multiplying each rejected vote by a factor of eight.
This led to huge disputes and allegations of fraud.
Vote-tallying has been restarted by hand following this and other glitches but Uhuru Kenyatta still has a large lead over Prime Minister Raila Odinga.
"For any rejected vote for any candidate, they were being multiplied by eight," said the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) chairman.
The number of rejected votes has fallen dramatically from more than 330,000 - 6% - during an initial count, to 58,644.
Ah, yes. An imperfect version of "Democracy's Gold Standard" (publicly hand-counted paper ballots at the precinct --- so, perhaps we'll call what they'll now be using in Kenya the "Silver Standard") to save the day again.
How long before folks realize that's the way that every self-respecting, self-governing democracy ought to be counting ballots in their elections in the first place?
[Hat-tip Bob Patterson.]
We have yet another potential mess concerning elections in New York City on the new optical-scan computer tabulation systems which recently replaced the mechanical lever machines used by the city for decades.
This time, the problem relates to the upcoming citywide elections in September which, if no candidate wins more than 40% in any of the primary races, a runoff will be required by state law, just two weeks later.
This is now a huge problem for the city, since there is concern that it could be all but impossible to re-prepare and fully re-test the computer optical-scan systems in the short time after the primary and before the runoff elections. It has left some, including Mayor Michael Bloomberg, as well as the NYC Board of Elections, seemingly regretting the move away from lever machines and considering bringing them out of mothballs for this year's runoffs.
"The computers just can't be programmed and readied in time for a runoff," ABC7's Dave Evans notes in his video report on Monday (posted below). "The old machines can be."
Further adding to the problems, says State Board of Elections Commissioner Doug Kellner "If there is a very close primary election, it may not be possible to determine the candidates in the runoff election in the time frame available."
Since New York state was the last in the nation to "upgrade" their voting systems from the old lever systems to new proprietary computer optical-scan systems over the last several years, the move has caused nothing but headaches in New York City and across the state...
Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia's obnoxious remark Wednesday about the Voting Rights Act as a "perpetuation of racial entitlement" wasn't the half of it.
Scalia is often held up by self-described "conservatives" as a model jurist, setting the standard for the type of "strict constructionism" or "originalist" interpretation of the Constitution that Republicans would like to see more of on the bench.
Jurists like Scalia, the pretend argument goes, are the antidote to those "liberal activist judges" who don't appreciate the limited authority of the judicial branch and who abuse their position in order to usurp the power of the executive and/or legislative branches by --- gasp! --- "legislating from the bench!"
Wednesday's shameful display by Scalia, however, during the Shelby v. Holder hearing at the U.S. Supreme Court, on whether or not Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act (VRA) ought to be discontinued, should serve to put the bald hypocrisy of that entire Republican myth to bed for good. The Supreme Court Justice beloved by the hard right demonstrated exactly why that hard right loves him --- and it has nothing to do with "conservatism" or "judicial restraint" or "strict constructionism" or any of those other absurd partisan talking points bandied about in regard to Scalia...
Early word on what happened today during the U.S. Supreme Court's hearing on the crucial Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act in Shelby County, AL v. Eric Holder is not encouraging. This could come to be seen as a very dark day for voting rights in this country, as a landmark provision of the 1965 Voting Rights Act may be on the verge of being dismantled and, arguably, a half a decade of civil rights advancements along with it.
Late last night we detailed what's at stake and how the activist Supremes are likely to intercede in what is clearly a Congressional duty, as specifically ascribed to them in the 15th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. That, despite a stunning 98 to 0 vote in the U.S. Senate to re-authorize the VRA for another 25 years as is, after 21 hearings and some 15,000 pages of documentation on the continuing blight of racial discrimination, as recently as 2006.
While it's always a perilous exercise to try and read the tea leaves from a SCOTUS hearing, The Nation's Ari Berman, who was present in the court room this morning, Tweets, disturbingly today: "In oral argument, Scalia likened Congressional support for Voting Rights Act to a 'perpetuation of racial entitlement'". He went on to indicate his "quick reaction" to the hearing was that, that while the five Republican Justices are "skeptical of Sec 5," there is a "small chance Kennedy can still be persuaded." He notes, that, incredibly, "Voter suppression attempts in [the] last election didn't even come up during SCOTUS arguments about Voting Rights Act".
Because the Supreme Court still operates in the 1800s, there was no live audio or video of today's hearing. The transcript, however,
should be made available later today [Update: transcript is now linked at the bottom of this article] and audio will be made available on Friday.
For now, NBC reports today's hearings this way:
NBC’s Pete Williams reported after the oral argument, "I think it’s a safe prediction to say that the Voting Rights Act, as it now stands, is not going to survive. The question is: how far will the Supreme Court go in striking parts of it down?"
Williams said what seemed to concern a majority of the justices was "the fact that the law is too backward looking."
Williams reported that during the one hour-and-15 minute oral argument, Justice Anthony Kennedy said that the post-World War II Marshall Plan to rebuild Europe "was a good thing at one time, but times change."
New York Times' Adam Liptak described today's hearing in more, if similarly disturbing detail this way...
The first section of the Fifteenth Amendment to the Constitution, ratified in 1870 after the Civil War and the abolition of slavery, reads simply: "The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude."
The second, and final section of the 15th Amendment, is even shorter: "The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation."
Congress is charged with determining the "appropriate legislation" to assure that voters are not discriminated against on the basis of race. And, though it took almost another 100 years after the ratification of the 15th Amendment to do so, the Voting Rights Act (VRA) of 1965 was passed to help ensure exactly that.
In 2006, in continuing its duty to uphold the Constitution, after 21 Congressional hearings, including testimony that amounted to some 15,000 pages of evidence, the VRA was re-authorized for another 25 years by an astounding 98 to 0 margin in the U.S. Senate and a nearly-as-impressive 390 to 33 in the U.S. House.
"There was a lot of invidious discrimination shown," says Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI), who chaired the U.S. House Judiciary Committee at the time. He characterized the hearings, which closely examined the extent to which racial discrimination still affects minority voters, as "one of the most extensive considerations of any piece of legislation that the United States Congress has dealt with in the twenty-seven and a half years that I have [served]."
That year's VRA re-authorization was signed into law by Republican George W. Bush. The law's three other federal re-authorizations (in 1970, 1975 and 1982) were also signed into law by Republican Presidents.
One of the most successful, and universally respected pieces of bi-partisan legislation in our nation's history, however, is now coming under serious attack from Republicans and a group of billionaire funders in the years following its last re-authorization. Since that year, an unprecedented number of challenges against the VRA --- specifically its Section 5, which applies to some 16 different jurisdictions with a long history of racial discrimination --- have been filed in the court system, at the same time that a tidal wave of voter suppression laws have been passed by GOP legislatures across the country, most notably, in many of the jurisdictions covered by Section 5.
A challenge to that section of the VRA, which served to block a number of new restrictions on voting and voter registration during the run-up to the 2012 election, will be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday, and the outlook for the crucial protections that Section 5 has offered for decades are now potentially in very grave danger of being struck down entirely...
With another papal election coming up, one might wonder how the papal elections, since 1059 or so, have managed to remain secure and unchallenged?
Here at The BRAD BLOG we've been calling for the same thing for U.S. elections for some time. Granted, it hasn't been 1000 years, it's just beginning to feel like it. We were even recently immortalized for that effort.
Schneier's breakdown of the voting process at papal enclaves is absolutely fascinating, particularly as the process they've developed over centuries mirrors much of what the process would look like if our nation ditched its secret, oft-failed, easily-manipulated, unoverseeable vote-tallying computers and modeled our tabulation process on the open, public, and very rarely challenged process used by the citizens in some 40% of New Hampshire's towns. It's almost identical, in many ways, to the one used to select new popes.
As Schneier notes, when a new pope is elected, "Every step of the election process is observed by everyone."
"The ballot is entirely paper-based," he explains, "and all ballot counting is done by hand. Votes are secret, but everything else is open"
Talk about your "Holy See"?! It's hand-counted PAPAL ballots!...
The good folks at Right About Now have decided to immortalize a quote from this September, 2009 op-ed of mine detailing my call for pilot projects around the country to develop much-needed data and benchmarks for what we describe around here as "Democracy's Gold Standard": Hand-marked paper ballots, publicly counted by hand at the precinct on Election Night, with the public, all political parties and even video cameras rolling, and results posted at the precinct before ballots are moved anywhere...
You can click on the cool graphic to enlarge it if you have any trouble reading it. And, about that quote, I totally agree!
Unfortunately, the supposedly "non-partisan" commission being convened [PDF] at the behest of the President --- and being co-chaired by an incredibly partisan former "Swift Boat" GOP operative --- in order to "fix" some of the problems which reared their ugly heads again during the 2012 election, such as long lines, difficulty in registration or casting overseas absentees ballots, is not currently set to review the extraordinary problems (here's just one recent example) that our nation has with vote tabulation in this country, much less explore the need for fully public, fully transparent, fully citizen-overseeable election result tabulation in a nation that supposedly prides itself on government of the people, by the people and for the people.
I was on Thom Hartmann's Big Picture last night to discuss the latest proposed GOP scheme, this one out of Pennsylvania, to rig the Electoral College to their advantage...
We've long argued that Vote-by-Mail elections are a terrible idea for democracy. You can see our quick list of our reasons right here. Nonetheless, in states like Oregon, which use Vote-by-Mail elections across the entire state, the citizens who don't appreciate the dangers of them, love them.
But once again last week, we were reminded of just one of the reasons they shouldn't love them, when a Bend, OR man was convicted of fraud after taking out a Craigslist ad claiming to offer $20 for blank ballots last November. With all registered voters in the state sent such a ballot, there is a lot of money to potentially be made from these types of crimes.
"All you need to do is bring your UNFILLED clean voting ballot and let us fill it out then you sign, then we hand it to the volunteer in the voting booth," the typo-filled ad promised. "Its that simple! Then you get $20. We'll be there all weekend through tuesday."
The perp, Aaron Hirschman, was convicted of a misdemeanor after offering a "full confession", according to the OR Attorney General's spokesperson, Jeff Manning who said that Hirschman "stated in his interview and at trial that he is an Internet 'troll' and that he posted the ad to 'agitate' and cause a stir."
The incident follows on another exploit of VBM ballots last November, when Deanna Swenson, an election official in Clackamas County, was indicted on 6 felony and 2 misdemeanor counts after being found to have allegedly filled in unvoted races in favor of Republican candidates while processing incoming mailed ballots.
Both Hirschman and Swenson got caught. That's good. The bigger question is how many don't get caught in such cases where the incentive for that kind of fraud --- the ability to change a lot of ballots to affect the results of an election, either by insider fraud or vote buying and selling --- is so high.
But, again, those cases highlight just two of the many reasons why VBM remains a terrible idea for democracy in any state.
Republicans like to pretend that there is a massive epidemic of "voter fraud" being carried out at polling places, despite the complete absence of evidence to demonstrate any such epidemic. They do so in order to push for polling place Photo ID restrictions in hopes of disenfranchising Democratic-leaning voters. Period.
On the other hand, election fraud does exist and "voter fraud" does occur. But, in almost all cases where it's found, it's via some form of mail-in voting, or at the hands of election insiders. Neither of those crimes are deterred by the polling place Photo ID restrictions Republicans continue to push for in state after state in hopes of disenfranchising legal voters for electoral gain.
A few seemingly remarkable items coming in via our Twitter feed today, all fueled by folks on the Right who are hoaxed into giving their hard-earned dollars to con-men...
• The crew at the pretend "news" site, Breitbart.com (specifically, Editor-at-Large Ben Shapiro) have successfully pushed a story about "Friends of Hamas" supporting SecDef-nominee, Sen. Chuck Hagel (R) somehow into the mainstream Rightwing media. The problem with the story --- which is meant to help target the first Presidential cabinet nominee in history to ever be filibustered (much less by his own party!) --- is that "Friends of Hamas", the "scary-sounding pro-Hagel group", doesn't actually seem to exist, according to Slate's Dave Weigel.
• George Zimmerman, the Florida "hero" who claimed that he was just "standing his ground" after having stalked and shot unarmed African-American teen Trayvon Martin last year has a) Reportedly burned through $300,000 in donated legal defense funds and is now considering asking the court to declare him "indigent", so the state would have to pay for his defense and b) Gained some 105 pounds since his arrest last year, according to ThinkProgress today. (Yes, that is what Zimmerman looks like now, at the top of this article.)
• But the most bizarre story of the day must surely be David Corn's at Mother Jones, where his latest investigative report into the profiteering "non-profit" racket called FreedomWorks (one of the nation's largest and most powerful so-called "Tea Party" groups) documents a video said to have been created by the group, but never shown publicly, which "included a scene in which a female intern wearing a panda suit simulates performing oral sex on Hillary Clinton." As Corn himself felt necessary to mention in an Author's note: "The previous sentence contains no typos."
Keep sending in those bucks to the Rightwing scam-artists, wingnuts! No, you're not being played for suckers in the least!
On today's KPFK/Pacifica Radio BradCast we covered the State of the Union Address last night, with extended focus on the President's call for election form and his new "Presidential Commission on Election Administration" [PDF], to be questionably co-chaired by Swift Boat GOP attorney Ben Ginsberg. As we noted yesterday, color us dubious about all of that.
My guest in the first half-hour was Marcia Johnson-Blanco, Co-Director of the Voting Rights Project at the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, and we also discussed their recent report on "Our Broken Voting Systems And How to Repair It", as well as the upcoming February 27th U.S. Supreme Court hearing in Shelby County v. Holder, challenging the Constitutionality of the Voting Rights Act's Section 5 protection of jurisdictions with a history of discrimination at the voting booth.
Suffice to say, she was more optimistic about all of the above than I was.
In most of the second half of the show, we focused on the many environmental issues raised in Obama's State of the Union with the Green News Report's Desi Doyen. I'm not sure who was more (or less) optimistic in that half of the show.
Download MP3 or listen online below [appx 58 mins]...
[UPDATED THRICE following the State of the Union address.]
Ryan J. Reilly had the scoop at HuffPo tonight. We're about to get another bipartisan commission on voting reforms...
The commission is one of a number of efforts the Obama administration is making to address the problems that plagued voting on Election Day 2012. The commission, which will focus specifically on Election Day issues and not broader voting reform, will likely be co-chaired by one Republican and one Democratic lawyer, according to one of the sources.
After the 2000 Presidential election fiasco, a bipartisan blue-ribbon commission headed by former Presidents Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford was created by Congress. The commission offered reforms that ultimately helped lead to the disastrous Help America Vote Act of 2002. That bill, among other things, offered some $4 billion in federal money to states in order to "upgrade" to computerized voting systems. Those same systems, using proprietary hardware and software from private vendors, tally votes in secret and continue to fail in election after election even today.
After the 2004 Presidential election fiasco, a private bipartisan commission was created, as The BRAD BLOG was the first to reveal, by high-level Republican operatives and former Bush/Cheney officials calling themselves the American Center for Voting Rights (ACVR). The private commission, formed in secret, was headed by Carter and longtime Bush family friend James A. Baker III, the man who took Bush's 2000 fight to keep ballots from being counted in the state of Florida all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. The inclusion of Baker on the commission led to an uproar from Election Integrity advocates, a furious response at The BRAD BLOG from the commission's Executive Director for our revelation of the scam, a letter from then Chair of the U.S. House Judiciary Committee Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) stating his "strong opposition" to Baker's presence on the commission, and then a guest-blog from Conyers himself, here at The BRAD BLOG.
As Conyers noted at the time, and as the sham Baker/Carter commission's report ultimately showed, the private commission was created in order to lay the groundwork for polling place Photo ID restrictions down the road. "Make no mistake about it," Conyers wrote here at the time, detailing his belief that the commission's push for Photo ID restrictions was "more of the same old Ken Blackwell-style Republican electoral dirty tricks, where Democratic voters are deliberately disenfranchised so that Republicans can win elections."
While the privately created Baker/Carter commission was meant to appear similar to the official Ford/Carter blue-ribbon commission (Ford was ailing at the time of the second commission, so was replaced with Baker), we can only hope that whatever new commission President Obama has in mind won't end up with the same "dead-on-arrival" recommendations as the ones from Baker and Carter. Though those recommendations were roundly criticized at the time, they are still cited today --- as if they were official recommendations --- by Republicans hoping to disenfranchise legal American voters through new restrictions on voting.
UPDATE: Reilly at HuffPo had it right. The President announced his call for a new commission during his State of the Union address tonight...
Yesterday on KPFK/Pacifica Radio's BradCast I was joined by Tom Courbat, longtime Election Integrity advocate and 25-year former CA county fiscal manager, and Dr. John Maa, who initiated and paid for the first "recount" of a statewide initiative in California (Prop 29).
Courbat helped lead the coalition who recently attempted a "recount" of Prop 37, which would have required Genetically Engineered Foods to be labeled as such. Maa unofficially advised the group, until the entire process was blocked by the outrageous, and seemingly illegal, pricing set for hand-counting paper ballots in Fresno County by their Registrar of Voters Brandi Orth, as we detailed in our exclusive Special Report on Monday.
One election official, Orth, effectively stopped the attempted confirmation of the computer-tabulated results of the election dead in its tracks, and once again put the lie to the notion that secretly-tallied paper ballots are just fine because "we can always count them after an election if there are any questions about the results."
Unfortunately, both Orth and CA Secretary of State Debra Bowen declined to join us on the show today to discuss the disturbing facts we uncovered in our special report, which UC Irvine election law professor and nationally-recognized elections expert Rick Hasen linked to Tuesday night, along with his assessment that the seemingly "arbitrary" pricing of attempts to oversee our own elections "calls for a legislative response."
Plus, in the second part of the show, a few quick news items and, as usual, a visit from Desi Doyen with the latest Green News Report.
Download MP3 or listen online below [appx 58 mins]...
THIS) UC Irvine election law professor and nationally recognized expert Rick Hasen links today to our exclusive special report from Monday which called out the Fresno County, CA Registrar of Voters for illegally overcharging for the citizen-attempted oversight "recount" of last November's Prop 37 initiative (which would have required Genetically Modified Foods to be labeled as such.) As we reported in that investigative report, her actions effectively stopped the attempted "recount" dead in its tracks, highlighted the possibilities for abuse by a single election official and the county-by-county disparities in "recount" pricing.
Our report also puts the lie to the notion that paper ballots, secretly-tabulated by computers, are just fine because if there are any concerns about the results of elections, we can always just count them by hand later. As our report detailed: no, we can't.
When linking to our report today, Hasen added: "This calls for a legislative response." Of course, we concur and thank the professor for noticing.
THAT) We'll be discussing that report today on my KPFK/Pacifica Radio BradCast at 3pm PT, when I'll be joined by Tom Courbat, who helped lead the attempted Prop 37 "recount", and Dr. John Maa who helped advise the effort after he, himself, requested and paid for the first statewide initiative "recount" ever after last June's failed Prop 29 initiative (which would have added a $1-per-pack cigarette tax to fund cancer research). Unfortunately, Fresno's Registrar Brandi Orth declined my invitation to join us on the show today to explain her position, while CA Sec. of State Debra Bowen's office has so far failed to respond at all to several invitations to do so. I'll hope that changes between now and showtime. You can listen LIVE from 3p to 4p PT right here.
THE OTHER THING) I'd been so busy over the past week or three working on that report that I haven't really had much opportunity to enjoy the fact that The BRAD BLOG is now, officially, in our tenth year of trouble-making and muckraking. I was, however, able to take some time to discuss it, and reminisce a bit, with our friend Angie Coiro of In Deep Radio up in San Francisco. You can listen to that interview right here. Long-time BRAD BLOGGERS may particularly enjoy it.
Relatedly, though I made a fairly impassioned pitch for support of The BRAD BLOG in my 9th Anniversary posting, and offered a very cool premium for those who may wish to purchase it, I've had astoundingly few folks willing to contribute or purchase the premium. Given the thousands who read this site every day, it's disappointing to be able to count those who have answered my plea on two hands.
If you've gotten anything of value from this site over the years, please consider supporting us with a donation, so we can try to make it through year number 10. We are truly reader supporter (that means you), and do not rely on foundational or corporate support. You are the only thing that gives us a chance to keep going. Please consider donating a little something, if you can.
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