It must be nice to be the king and get to decide who does and doesn't get to vote for (or against) you and your friends, just like the
King Governor of Iowa...
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...|
It must be nice to be the king and get to decide who does and doesn't get to vote for (or against) you and your friends, just like the
King Governor of Iowa...
"True the Vote" (TTV), the Orwellian-named Republican "voter fraud" front group with a long and sordid history of deception and fraud won't take 'no' for an answer. Release the hounds.
The group has filed a formal notice of appeal [PDF] of U.S. District Court Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos' recent refusal to permit TTV to intervene as a party defendant in the U.S. Justice Department's (DoJ) federal legal challenge to SB-14, the Texas polling place Photo ID statute.
Judge Ramos found that the interests of the organization --- which masquerades as an "election integrity" group in order to actually advocate for voter suppression --- were already adequately represented in the lawsuit by the state of Texas itself.
As they were filing their notice of appeal, the disgraced GOP "voter fraud" front man, Hans von Spakovsky --- who also just happens to serve on the "advisory board" for TTV --- challenged the court's rejection of the groups Motion to Intervene in an article published at the right-wing National Review. His work there, as usual, represents a masterful example of deception, dishonesty and well-remunerated cherry-picking. That is, apparently, what Hans von Spakovsky does for a living.
He is amongst good friends in the Republican Fraud community this time out...
The "recount" is not going well so far for Virginia state Senator Mark Obenshain (R). What had been the closest statewide race in history, while still close, is beginning to open up for state Senator Mark Herring (D), who had been previously certified by the State Board of Elections as the "winner" of the November 5th state Attorney General's race.
After two days of what suffices for a "recount" in the Old Dominion's election to replace outgoing Republican AG Ken Cuccinelli, Herring's state-certified 165 vote lead prior to the "recount" expanded to more than 800 votes on Tuesday, out of more than 2.2 million cast. According to the Democrat's campaign, more than 70% of the votes have now been re-tallied across the commonwealth as of Tuesday night. The three-days of re-tallying will end Wednesday, with a three-judge panel in Richmond making the final determinations on any challenged ballots by Friday.
Herring may have hired MN Sen. Al Franken's election recount attorney to represent him in VA, but the three-day affair there, so far, is nothing like the epic six-month-plus post-election hand-count in the 2008 U.S. Senate race between Franken and his Republican opponent Sen. Norm Coleman.
There, every single paper ballot was examined publicly, by hand. The time it took was, in no small part, due to the transparent thoroughness of the counting, but perhaps much more to Coleman's attempts to challenge everything he possibly could, arguably as a way to forestall what would become a very short-lived filibuster-proof Democratic super-majority in the U.S. Senate once Franken was finally seated in July of 2009.
In Virginia, as we've described several times in detail, the "recount" process is barely a count at all, given that most votes in the state are still cast on 100% unverifiable (and unrecountable) Direct Recording Electronic (DRE, usually touch-screen) voting systems. The rest of the votes are cast on paper ballots, but those are tallied by often-inaccurate, easily-gamed optical-scan computer tabulators, either correctly or incorrectly --- without a hand-count, there's no way to know. By Virginia's "recount" statute, almost all of those paper ballots are simply being run through the same optical-scanners again, rather than examined by human beings. The exception is ballots that register no vote for either candidate during the re-scanning. Those are then set aside and examined by hand during the "recount".
But, in a race as close as this one, there are more than enough paper ballots to flip the results from one candidate to the other during such a post-election tally.
In this case, however --- at least as of Tuesday night --- it's not looking good for Obenshain, as Herring is racking up more newly tallied votes than the Republican in almost every locality where there have been any changes to the totals at all...
A federal District court judge has nixed a rightwing "voter fraud" group's Motion to Intervene on behalf of the state of Texas in the U.S. Dept. of Justice's lawsuit to block the Lone Star state's polling place Photo ID restriction law.
Last month, The BRAD BLOG reported on the DoJ's Opposition motion filed in response to the motion by the Republican "voter fraud" fraudsters who call themselves "True the Vote" (TTV). In its motion, TTV sought to become a party to the DoJ's federal legal challenge to SB-14, the state's polling place Photo ID restriction law which TX Attorney General Greg Abbott (R) instituted just hours after the U.S. Supreme Court demolished one of the central protections of the long-standing federal Voting Rights Act this past summer.
Last week, U.S. District Court Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos tersely dismissed TTV's motion, issuing a two-page order [PDF] finding that the organization's "interests are generalized and are adequately represented by the State Defendants."
"The Court finds that True the Vote's intended contribution to this case may be accomplished without the necessity of, or burden incident to, making it a party," Ramos said.
The Judge's ruling was in line with the DoJ's own response to TTV's motion. They had argued that the group had not established a right to intervene because their motion detailed little more than a generalized grievance and because its allegation "that illegal voting might be prevented by enforcement of SB 14 is, at best, speculative." Permissive intervention was inappropriate because, the DoJ argued at the time, since the group was adequately represented already by the State of Texas itself. Its participation in the case, the DoJ claimed, would be unduly burdensome in that the group seeks to divert the court's attention from the legal issues relating to polling place Photo ID restriction laws "to issues concerning True the Vote's numerous allegations of purported voter registration irregularities."
In our previous piece on the DoJ's response to True the Vote, we highlighted the group's extraordinary track record of deceptive voter suppression tactics and noted that it would be "absurd" that the hapless TTV should be ever be taken seriously by anybody, much less allowed to intervene in a critical federal lawsuit.
Although the court will still permit TTV to file amicus curiae (friend of the court) briefs, last week's ruling should serve to help expedite the proceedings without unnecessary diversionary tactics from this unreliable, deceptive Republican voter suppression front group.
Judge Ramos has set a September 2014 trial date in the case, which will come just two months before Abbott, defending the state as AG, will likely face his own election contest for Governor as the Texas Republican Party's currently-presumptive nominee. This past September, we detailed how the TX law at issue had already been found in violation of both federal law and the Constitution in previous cases that had come before the courts prior to the U.S. Supreme Court carving out the heart of the federal Voting Rights Act in late June of this year.
[This article now cross-published by The Progressive...]
We've discussed, many times over the years, the madness of Internet Voting schemes. Today we've got yet another piece of disturbing evidence that underscores why such a scheme for American democracy would be nothing short of insane.
The BRAD BLOG has highlighted how easily Internet elections can be hacked by all sorts of nefarious folks (perhaps most disturbingly, without the knowledge of election officials); how various experiments in Internet Voting have proved disastrous (Hello, Canada! Hello, Honolulu! Hello, Oscars!); and how it is simply impossible to do a true pilot test of any such Internet Voting schemes in advance, since the most dangerous tactics that bad guys might throw at an Internet-based election in order to game it are actually illegal. Because of that, good guy "white hat hackers" wouldn't be able to use those same techniques to test the security of any Internet Voting scheme before it was actually put into use in a live election.
Moreover --- and perhaps the deal-breaker when it comes to the viability of Internet Voting ever being workable in public elections --- even if the Internet Voting scheme remains secure, there is no way that the citizenry can know that was the case. Any such scheme would require faith and trust in others, which is decidedly not what our system of oversight and checks and balances in public elections is supposed to be built on. Thus, even a secured Internet Voting scheme would seriously undermine the basic tenets of, and overall confidence in, American democracy.
Now, Kim Zetter at Wired's "Threat Level" blog offers yet another reason why the Internet, as it currently exists, is simply unfit to serve as a means for secure online voting. Her recently published article, which doesn't focus on voting, is alarmingly headlined "Someone's Been Siphoning Data Through a Huge Security Hole in the Internet".
And no, in this case, it's not the NSA. At least as far as we know.
Zetter details a "huge security hole" indeed, one which, as she documents, was found to have been used earlier this year to re-route "vast amounts" of U.S. Internet data all the way out to Belarus and Iceland, where it was intercepted in a classic "man-in-the-middle" fashion, before being sent on to its intended receiver. During the hijack attack, the senders and receivers of the Internet data were none the wiser, just as would likely be the case if the same gaping security hole in the Internet's existing architecture was used to hijack votes cast over the Internet, change them, and then send them on to the server of the intended election official recipient...
I'm in the middle of a number of other things, but I wanted to just offer a quick --- and very belated --- note of congrats to longtime citizen Election Integrity advocate Tom Courbat of Riverside County, CA. (Decidedly not to be confused with Pennsylvania's democracy-hating Gov. Tom Corbett.)
Late in the summer, California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) signed AB 831, a short and simple bill, brought to the legislature by Courbat and introduced there by a Republican, requiring elections officials in CA counties to publish the "Statement of Vote" --- the official precinct-by-precinct results --- to their websites "in a downloadable spreadsheet format".
While that doesn't seem extraordinary --- and may even come to a surprise to many who might have presumed all elections officials already do that --- it really is an important and helpful bill for those who understand the difficulty and frustration, in many cases, that citizens may sometimes have in trying to oversee election results. Some of you "election geeks", in particular, may appreciate how difficult it can often be to make sense of questionable election results, or to double-check very close races in places where precinct results are not made available at all, or where they are published only in HTML or PDF formats which are not easily imported into a spreadsheet where numbers can be more carefully examined for inconsistencies, irregularities or simply missing votes.
As Courbat noted after the bill was signed, the new CA state law "will make it much easier for candidates and election integrity advocates to rapidly analyze election results for any anomalies."
"Candidates wishing to request a recount have only five days after publication of the Statement of Vote to file for a recount," he noted. "Since recounts can be quite expensive, this capability to analyze sometimes voluminous data can be the deciding factor in a go/no-go decision by a candidate."
As anyone who followed our harrowing detailed coverage this year of Virginia's still-ongoing November 5th Attorney General's race may recall, it was, in fact, exceedingly close citizen scrutiny of precinct-by-precinct results which discovered some 3,000 missing votes from Election Night results. Those "found" votes may well turn out to have made the difference in that state's closest-ever statewide race (which currently has a 165 vote margin as it heads into VA's version of a "recount" just over a week from now)...
After many months of chatting back and forth via email, we were both finally able to work out our schedules so that I could talk with Dr. Michael E. Mann live on air today on the KPFK/Pacifica Radio BradCast!
Mann, for those who don't know, is the creator of the famous (or infamous, depending on whether you're sponsored and/or duped by the fossil fuel industry or not), "Hockey Stick Graph", which is likely the most controversial graph in history and certainly among the most consequential, as he agreed during our conversation today.
The "Hockey Stick Graph", showing stable and even declining temperatures in the Northern Hemisphere over the past thousand years, until they suddenly spike upwards over the last hundred (similar in shape to a hockey stick), thrust the physicist and climatologist Mann into a world of global warming and climate change controversy that he told me he could never have imagined. Following its publication over the past decade, while the recipient of many awards and honors, he has also received death threats, had his professional emails stolen (in the pretend "ClimateGate" scandal), and has been the focus of an unprecedented smear campaign by science denialists, including attacks by sitting U.S. Congressmen and (unsuccessful) subpoenas of his private documents and email by woeful Rightwing denialists and tools like (the happily outgoing) Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli.
Environmental activist and author Bill McKibben, who describes Mann as "a hero", has correctly noted that "very few people have sounded more important alarms about our climate future, and very few people have paid a higher price for doing so."
Mann's latest book, The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars: Dispatches from the Front Lines, now in paperback with a new foreword by Bill Nye "The Science Guy", tells the whole story and much more. (Tell Big Fossil Fuel to go to hell by buying a copy!)
My conversation with Mann today ranged from all of that, to the parallel denier tactics employed by both Big Tobacco and Big Fossil Fuel, to whether or not scientists should enter the political realm, to why it is that so many TV weathermen seem to be denialists (though the vast majority actually aren't.)
In the back end of the show, I covered the new uprising by Florida election officials against FL Sec. of State Ken Detzner, new Pope news(!) and much more. Enjoy the show!...
Download MP3 or listen online below [appx 58 mins]...
At this point, the slogan for Republican Secretaries of State around the country seems to be: "If it ain't broke, break it!"
That's certainly the case in Florida, where Sec. of State Ken Detzner --- fresh off his and Governor Rick Scott's embarrassing and failed 2012 purge of supposed "non-citizen voters" from the rolls (with another more recent attempt underway since then) --- is at it again. And this time, Detzner seems to be facing a full-blown uprising from county Supervisors of Elections (SOE) refusing to carry out a new directive which would make it more difficult for absentee voters to cast their ballot.
The elected SOEs are claiming that the new directive by Detzner, an appointee of Gov. Rick Scott (R), was neither asked for nor necessary under state law. They Supervisors have also denied Detzner's initial claim that the directive was issued in response to requests by two SOEs.
Last week, Detzner issued a directive [PDF] to county SOEs instructing them that they may no longer allow voters to use secured remote absentee ballot drop-off stations created at locations like public libraries and tax-collectors offices. Suddenly, according to Detzner's new rules, all absentee ballots must either be mailed in, or dropped off at county election offices.
The directive was issued just prior to an upcoming special election to replace the late, long-serving Republican Congressman Bill Young in the 13th Congressional District, and it has led to both suspicion for its motives, and somewhat of a bi-partisan mutiny from election officials, leading one well-known Florida SOE to respond tersely to The BRAD BLOG's request for comment last week this way: "I do have a comment, legally it's not worth the paper it's printed on"...
Election 2013 is but a memory --- good or bad --- for much of the nation. But, in Virginia, election officials, attorneys and partisans will still be busy as elves throughout much of the holiday season, and potentially even beyond, determining final results of the statewide November 5th Attorney General's election this year.
Last week, on the day before Thanksgiving, Virginia's Republican AG candidate Mark Obenshain filed for a recount [PDF] of the incredibly close race at the Richmond Circuit Court. Two days prior, his Democratic challenger Mark Herring had been certified by the state as the winner of the race by just 165 votes out of more than 2.2 million votes cast early last month.
Should those state-certified results hold, Herring would replace Republican Ken Cuccinelli as Virginia's AG. Cuccinelli was unsuccessful in his own run for Governor in November against Democrat Terry McAuliffe. Along with the Democratic win in the Lt. Governor's race as well, a Herring victory would result in the first time since 1969 that Democrats held all three statewide offices, and the first time in twenty years that Virginia will have a Democratic AG.
A "recount", in Virginia, however --- as we've documented previously (see last section of this article) --- amounts to much less than it may seem, given the technology used in the state and some of the ridiculous "recount" laws specified by the Virginia election code [PDF].
As bad as those "recount" statutes are, however, a margin of 165 votes could certainly be reversed, even in a state where most votes are currently recorded (either accurately or inaccurately, who knows?) by 100% unverifiable Direct Recording Electronic (DRE, usually touch-screen) voting systems, and where the rest are tallied (either accurately or inaccurately, who knows?) by paper-ballot optical-scan tabulators that will be used once again to "recount" (either accurately or inaccurately, who knows?) most of the state's paper ballots.
Yes, that's right. Hundreds of thousands of 100% unverifiable electronic votes cast in the closest statewide race in VA state history cannot be "recounted" now in any meaningful way. For those votes, state election code specifies that, during the "recount", election officials will merely recheck the voting machine computer printouts from Election Night to make sure the certified results match. Meanwhile --- and short of a court order --- votes that were cast on paper ballots will simply be run through the same optical-scan computers that tallied them the first time, after they've been reprogrammed to set aside all ballots which the scanner sees as an over vote, an under vote or a write-in vote in the AG's race. Those set aside paper ballots, at least, will then be examined by hand, in public, by actual human beings.
As ridiculous as the VA "recount" statute is, the "contest" law --- another procedure which the candidate who loses the "recount" may file thereafter --- is even more ridiculous. But, depending on the results of the "recount", that may be the only option Obenshain is left with...and it could result in a GOP "victory", even with fewer recorded popular votes, presuming there are enough heavily partisan Republicans in the VA state legislature...
The last graf from an AP article describing the plunge in spending by "outside" Rightwing groups, so far this year, on 2014 campaigns...
[This article now cross-published by The Progressive...]
The U.S. Department of Justice has filed a vigorous Opposition [PDF] to a Motion to Intervene [PDF] filed by the Republican "voter fraud" group calling itself "True the Vote." In its motion, True the Vote seeks to become a party to the DoJ's federal legal challenge to Texas's polling place Photo ID restriction law, SB-14.
The DoJ's opposition is rather straightforward. The right wing-funded True the Vote, they argue, has not established that it is entitled to intervene because it sets forth nothing more than a generalized grievance and because its allegation "that illegal voting might be prevented by enforcement of SB 14 is, at best, speculative."
Anyone familiar with this organization and its history, should appreciate how absurd it is that they should be taken seriously at any time, much less allowed to intervene in a critical lawsuit filed in federal court.
Permissive intervention is inappropriate, according to the DoJ, because True the Vote has failed to establish that its interests would not be adequately represented by the State of Texas. Indeed, its participation in the case, DoJ says, would be unduly burdensome in that the group seeks to divert the court's attention from the legal issues relating to polling place Photo ID restriction laws "to issues concerning True the Vote’s numerous allegations of purported voter registration irregularities."
The DoJ notes that, for identical reasons, True the Vote, whose 2011 list of "Recommendations for Legislation" [PDF] was topped by the desire to enact the polling place Photo ID law at issue, was excluded from participating in the Department's legal challenge to last year's ill-fated effort by Florida's Gov. Rick Scott (R) to purge "potential non-citizens" from the Sunshine State's eligible voter rolls.
True the Vote's deceptive tactics should come as no surprise to long time readers of The BRAD BLOG. The group is essentially the latest pretend "election integrity" arm of the Koch brothers-funded, Paul Weyrich co-founded, American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)-fueled GOP effort to enact voter suppression laws across the country.
The nature of their hostile, anti-voter tactics, according to the Houston NAACP, included an alleged attack upon its "volunteer poll monitors for handing out water to voters at Early Vote locations and for assisting Disabled and Elderly voters by standing in line for them or asking younger people in line to let the elderly and disabled go ahead of them in the line to vote."
We reported yesterday on the incredibly close race for Attorney General in Virginia. With more than 2.2 million votes cast, the margin between Mark Obenshain (R) and Mark Herring (D) has been within a few hundred votes since Election Night on Tuesday.
Within the last few hours, an unexplained discrepancy has been discovered by those combing over the reported numbers in Fairfax County. The county leans heavily Democratic and, unlike much of the rest of the state which uses 100% unverifiable touch-screen, Fairfax uses optically-scanned paper ballots for its main vote tabulation system.
After Democrats reportedly won both the Governor and Lt. Governor races, only the AG's remains undecided at the top of the ticket. For the last 24 hours or so, the Republican Obenshain has been leading during the canvassing of ballots by about 700 votes, as absentee and provisionals are tallied and doubled-checked.
But now, thanks to some smart detective work by both a Democratic political team in Fairfax County and by Dave Wasserman of the non-partisan Cook Political Report, the fortunes for the Democrat candidate Herring may just have taken a big turn, even as a new mystery is added to the equation...
[This article now cross-published by The Progressive...]
Former U.S. House Speaker Jim Wright (D) was denied a Photo ID for voting purposes in Texas over the weekend by the state's Department of Public Safety (DPS).
The 90-year old Wright, who is lucky enough to have an assistant to drive him to and from the DPS office, says that while he believes he'll be able to get an ID in time to vote in this Tuesday's election, he's concerned the state's "unduly stringent requirements on voters" will reduce turnout.
According to the Star-Telegram, Wright's driver's license expired in 2010 and --- because he no longer drives --- he didn't bother to renew it. That expired license, he learned Saturday, is not good enough to obtain a Photo ID to vote under the law TX Republicans passed in 2011. That law will be in effect, for the first time, on Tuesday. The state statute had previously been nixed just last year by the U.S. Dept. of Justice and by a 3-judge federal court panel after being found discriminatory, in violation of the Voting Rights Act (VRA), as based on statistics supplied by the state itself.
Thanks to the U.S. Supreme Court gutting a key provision of the VRA over the summer, however, Texas announced the law would finally be enforced for the upcoming election.
Wright is hardly the only well known figure to be stung so far by the Lone Star State Republicans' purposely disenfranchising law. And the hoops that many voters --- even ones like Wright, who says he's voted in every single election since 1944 --- must now jump through in order to have a chance at their vote even being counted at all, is remarkable...
The reasoning employed by Chief Justice John Roberts in Shelby County—that Section 5 of the act was such a spectacular success that it is no longer necessary—was the equivalent of taking down speed cameras and traffic lights and removing speed limits from a dangerous intersection because they had combined to reduce accidents and traffic deaths.
I won't be surprised if history finds the Shelby County ruling, along with Citizens United, to be right up there in the Dred Scott pantheon of terrible rulings by a U.S. Supreme Court. That both occurred within years of each others on the John Roberts Court speaks volumes --- and does not bode well for whatever may still be to come.
How's that for a scary Halloween night posting?...
If you haven't been able to follow Reagan-appointed federal appellate court judge Richard Posner's stunning disavowal of his landmark 2007 polling place Photo ID law ruling - from admitting he got it wrong a few weeks ago...to unconvincingly unadmitting it this week --- I'd hardly blame ya.
On this week's BradCast on KPFK/Pacifica Radio, I tried to help make sense of the Photo ID Posner Coaster, as much as possible, and explain where it leaves the continuing fight against the ramped up GOP voter suppression in this country.
We also covered the criminal charges recently filed against repeat offender Diebold (for what the U.S. Attorney described as "a worldwide pattern of criminal conduct"); the new way that KS and AZ have come up with to keep legal voters from voting; and, with NJ Gov. Chris Christie up for re-election next week and taking a bow for his post-"Superstorm Sandy" performance one year ago this week, it seemed a good time to revisit the secret Koch Brothers audio tapes we revealed in 2011, when Christie was lauded at a secret Koch Brothers meeting in Colorado, where brother David introduced him proudly as "my kind of guy", among other praises sung.
Oh, and Desi Doyen joined us, as usual, for the latest Green News Report and lessons --- learned or otherwise --- one year after "Sandy"...
MP3 Download or listen online below [appx 58 mins]...
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