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ALSO: Supreme Court to Hear Photo ID Case...
By Brad Friedman on 9/26/2007 12:51pm PT  

We're getting really tired of picking on Democrats. But with clueless Senators like Nebraska's Ben Nelson, it seems like we continue to have little choice.

Picking up from where we left off yesterday regarding this morning's vote in the Senate Rules Committee on whether or not to send a recommendation for approval on the FEC nomination of the DOJ's GOP "Voter Fraud" flim-flam operative, Hans von Spakovsky, to the full Senate. Again we again defer to Paul Kiel's TPMMuckraker report that the Democrats, thanks to a defection from Nelson, were unable to reject the nomination outright and will have to pick up the fight on the Senate floor, where the GOP (unlike the Dems) will march in lockstep to get what they want. Even from the minority...

This morning's result: faced with the defection of a Democrat on the committee, later revealed to be Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE), Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) chose to agree to send all four nominees, two Democrats and two Republicans, to the floor without recommendation. In other words, the committee did not vote to approve von Spakovsky, but he got through nonetheless.

Next up is a vote before the full Senate, and how that vote will occur will be determined by negotiations between the Democratic and Republican leadership. Republicans are likely to seek a vote on all four nominees at once and have threatened to spike all the Democratic nominees if Democrats seek to block von Spakovsky.

Feinstein only said during the hearing that a Democrat had advised her that he would support von Spakovsky's nomination. In comments to reporters after the hearing, she identified that senator as Sen. Nelson.

More on the evil von Spakovsky here.

More details on today's negotiations here, including Feinstein's statement: "I don’t feel that this is an unbiased individual." Minority Leader Mitch McConnnel's (R-KY) hardball in return: "None of these nominees will move across the Senate unless they move together."

In related your-right-to-legally-cast-a-vote-is-under-attack news, as Arlen Parsa covered for us in a bit more detail earlier, the Supreme Court has agreed to hear a Democratic challenge to Indiana's voter disenfranchising Photo ID law.

The very smart Election Law Blog's Rick Hasen sees this as good news for opponents of such laws, but we've got our money on a 5 to 4 ruling in favor of the GOP law, created (by Thor Hearne and Friends) in the hopes of keeping Democratic voters from being able to cast their votes on Election Day. We hope we're wrong, but Bush's Supreme Court hasn't given us much to be hopeful about.

You'll note the supporters of the restrictive, Jim Crow-type legislation have been unable to offer a single case of a voter in the state voting as someone else at the polling place.

Perhaps Sen. Ben Nelson would like to issue a resolution in support of such laws? Idiot.

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By Arlen Parsa on 9/26/2007 10:56am PT  

Guest Blogged by Arlen Parsa of The Daily Background

The good news is that for the first time, the Supreme Court has agreed to take up the issue of whether or not GOP-supported laws that require voters to present specific types of photo identification at polling places are constitutional.

The bad news: it's Bush's Supreme Court.

The New York Times reports today that SCOTUS will consider the issue after mixed rulings in several states where photo-ID laws have both been upheld and struck down. A bit of background from the Times:

All of the laws have been enacted since the disputed Florida vote in the 2000 presidential election, and all have been pushed by Republican legislators who maintain that the laws are necessary to deter voter fraud. The laws have been resisted and challenged by Democrats who argue that they exaggerate the dangers and incidence of voter fraud while impermissibly sacrificing voter access. The case the court accepted was brought by Democrats from Indiana.

Democrats argue that the laws place a particular burden on eligible voters who are poor or elderly and who lack driver’s licenses and ready access to substitute forms of identification. Under the Indiana law, passed by the Republican-controlled Legislature in 2005, the photo ID must be current, so that an elderly person who is no longer driving would not be able to use an expired license as identification.

Both the ACLU and the NAACP plan to argue the case, which is an appeal from a lower court, against the Indiana law before SCOTUS in the coming months. Remarked the lone dissenting judge from the lower court ruling, Terence T. Evans, "Let’s not beat around the bush. The Indiana voter photo ID law is a not-too-thinly-veiled attempt to discourage election-day turnout by certain folks believed to skew Democratic." Now there's a judge that doesn't mince words!

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

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Santa Cruz, California's Election Clerk Comes Back for Another Helping...
By Brad Friedman on 9/21/2007 3:58pm PT  

[UPDATED POST-SHOW]

Santa Cruz County Clerk, Gail Pellerin joined us on the Peter B. Collins Show again tonight, live, to follow up on last week's interesting and rather spirited (at times, contentious-ish) hour.

The audio archive and full text transcript of last week's hour is posted here if you missed it.

The audio from this week's show, along with the transcript, courtesy of Santa Cruz voter Emily Levy of VelvetRevolution.us.

Since last Friday's show, CA SoS Debra Bowen has pronounced that the voting machine "sleepovers" Pellerin told us she'd planned for her Sequoia voting systems again in 2008 "don't comply with the security requirements" for those voting systems in California.

As well, we've gotten the opportunity to chat a bit via email with Pellerin since then, and are encouraged that we can begin working more together than apart, as is necessary, I think, for Election Integrity advocates and Elections Officials. It's the voting machine companies who are the real villains in this matter, and they've been quite successful at driving an opportunistic wedge between advocates and officials.


UPDATE, AUDIO & TRANSCRIPT: The show went very well. Pellerin stuck around for the entire hour and it was a great discussion with several interesting and newsworthy revelations, along with some very good callers as well. I think we may be getting somewhere. At least I'm hopefully tonight for the good folks of Santa Cruz...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Debra Bowen Says 'Sleepovers Don't Comply With Security Requirements...It's Really Simple'
Reply to BRAD BLOG Question During Conference Call Monday, Most Direct, Definitive Statement on the Controversial Practice Since She's Taken Office...
By Brad Friedman on 9/18/2007 4:15am PT  

She's hinted as much previously, and her new security requirements issued in the wake of her landmark "Top-to-Bottom Review" of e-voting systems would seem to preclude them, but CA Secretary of State, Debra Bowen has now given her most direct comment to date on the matter of voting machine "sleepovers".

"Sleepovers don't comply with the security requirements," Bowen said in response to a question we submitted on the matter during a conference call with the Secretary sponsored by the Courage Campaign.

"It's really simple," she added, after a pause following her immediate, direct reply to the question.

She went on to explain how unauthorized access to a single machine, by a single person, could allow an entire county's election to be flipped, putting everyone's election at risk.

The complete question and Bowen's full answer is transcribed at the end of this article.

The matter of voting machine "sleepovers" --- the practice of sending pre-programmed, election-ready voting systems home with pollworkers, often days and weeks prior to elections, for deliver to polls on Election Day --- first became a controversy last year after The BRAD BLOG exposed the issue as it occurred during San Diego's special election to replace disgraced Republican U.S. House Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham. Our exhaustive coverage (see: Busby/Bilbray category) of the resulting scandal, continued throughout some 100 articles here.

The special election in San Diego was the first federal contest to have taken place after several analysis of Diebold's e-voting system found that the systems utilized undisclosed software code prohibited by federal standards. The particular type of code is banned at the federal level since it can be exploited to flip an election undetectably.

Subsequent studies at Princeton University and elsewhere revealed that inappropriate access by a single person, to a single machine, could virally affect every other machine used across the same county.

The revelations made the notion of voting machine "sleepovers" all the more stunning to those of us who recognized the remarkable threat the practice posed to the security of our elections...

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

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Rep. Hinchey 'Deeply Disappointed,' Calls Unwillingness to Debate Issue a 'Shame'
AlterNet Covers Latest Political Landscape Surrounding HR 811...
By Brad Friedman on 9/17/2007 2:06pm PT  

Citing "recent developments outside Washington that bolster critics who say DRE [usually, touch-screen voting] systems are too insecure and unreliable for use in elections," AlterNet's Steve Rosenfeld surveys the political landscape in regard to Rush Holt's impending time-bomb of an Election Reform Bill, known as HR 811.

The controversial bill that refuses to die is again said to be headed back to House Rules Committee this week, where a rule concerning whether or not amendments will be allowed to the bill when/if it reaches the House Floor will be set.

Rosenfeld reports Speaker Nancy Pelosi's office is being dodgy about whether or not Rep. Susan Davis's (C-CA) amendment to restrict the use of Direct Recording Electronic (DRE) touch-screen systems will be allowed for debate. "I don't have an answer for you," a spokesperson told him, "I have no way of knowing. This is a comprehensive bill. This is a process that is moving."

Last week, Davis said, in a statement sent to The BRAD BLOG, that "we are still ignoring the 800 pound gorilla in the room," in regard to Congress's fear of discussing whether or not to allow the use of DRE systems which are now being banned by states across the country.

Her amendment was followed by an editorial from the New York Times charging that "electronic voting has been an abysmal failure," and calling for a "provision banning the use of touch-screen voting machines" to be added to Holt's bill. They add that such a provision should be in place in time for the 2008 election, though Davis's amendment, as currently written, only calls for a restriction to one DRE per polling place, by 2012.

Majority Leader Steny Hoyer has been a supporter of HR 811 since a secret "compromise" version, recently brokered behind closed doors by out-of-touch DRE-supporters, People for the American Way (PFAW), and Holt was agreed upon several weeks ago.

Pelosi has remained largely mum concerning her position on the bill, which does not require paper ballots, despite the blatant lie that Holt offered Rosenfeld in a report some weeks ago after CA SoS Debra Bowen's independent study at University of California found "severe vulnerabilities" in DRE voting systems. Such vulnerabilities, her study found, would not be safe-guarded against use of the paper trails that the Holt/Hoyer/PFAW compromise bill mandates.

Congressman Maurice Hinchey (D-NY), now a co-sponsor of Davis's amendment --- along with Barbara Lee from California --- and a previous critic of the Holt Bill, is now critical of the Democratic leadership. He seems to indicate, in comments given to Rosenfeld, that Davis's amendment will not be allowed for consideration:

"The potential for manipulation of national elections with the use of touch-screen machines is much too serious for this Congress to allow their continued use --- let alone to encourage additional states to convert to DREs," he said. "Regrettably, the Democratic leadership was still unwilling to allow the Davis amendment to be considered before the full House."

"That's a shame, because this is an important issue about which many voters are justifiably concerned," he said. "I'm deeply disappointed that we won't even have the opportunity to have an open debate about the merit of these very dangerous touch-screen devices."

Quoting an industry watcher who straight out proclaims "The DRE is dead," Rosenfeld reviews a number of national and media developments that support that assessment.

Apparently, that message hasn't gotten through to Holt and the tone-deaf, out of touch Democratic Leadership on the Hill, however.

"While these events and trends are unfolding," Rosenfeld astutely sums up, "in Washington the House Democratic leadership has been accommodating interest groups that want to see continued use of the very voting systems that are being discredited across the country."

You may reach your Congress Members, along with Hoyer and Pelosi's office, to register your own opinions, via the Capitol switchboard at: 1-800-828-0498.

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County Clerk Has 'Faith' in Her Sequoia Voting System, Plans to Continue Voting Machine 'Sleepovers' in 2008...
By Brad Friedman on 9/17/2007 9:05am PT  

I'll withhold most of my personal thoughts here for the moment, since Gail Pellerin, County Clerk for Santa Cruz County, CA, has agreed to come back to continue this discussion on the Peter B. Collins Show this Friday. For the moment then, I'll just let you listen and offer your own thoughts on this conversation from last Friday's show.

Pellerin and I appeared on PBC's radio show to discuss issues of Election Integrity, CA SoS Debra Bowen's "Top-to-Bottom Review" and the Sequoia Voting System that Pellerin uses in Santa Cruz, the hometown of former CA SoS Bruce McPherson.

She is on the public record as having said last July at the public hearing in Sacramento for Bowen's TTB Review: "I can guarantee that every eligible vote is counted accurately," about which, you can imagine, I challenged her on the show. As well, in the interview (complete audio below) she commits to sending her voting systems home yet again on "sleepovers" with poll workers in next year's elections. I also had a thing or two to say to say about that, as you may have guessed. Suffice to say, it was a lively interview.

Pellerin --- presumably a Democrat, as she once worked in the CA state assembly for then-Speaker Willie Brown --- was scheduled only for the first half-hour of the show, but fortunately called back for the final segment to answer some of the questions that I didn't have time to ask her about when she was on the air. I greatly appreciate her willingness to do so and to stand up to the fire.

You'll want to stay tuned for that final segment.

As well, be sure to tune in this Friday at 5pm on the PBC Show (listening link here), where she has agreed to come back and pick up where we left off. I greatly appreciate her willingness to do so. The continued discussion can only benefit voters both in Santa Cruz (one of the locations where Peter's show is heard live on the air) and across the nation, where Elections Officials and Election Integrity advocates must continue to find ways to work together to solve our problems and push back at the damaging, cynical, divisive, selfish, and inaccurate propaganda being forwarded by the Voting Machine Companies.

NOTE 9/22/07: Pellerin returned for another full hour on 9/21/07, the week following this broadcast, in order to follow up on this week's interview. That subsequent second interview and text transcript has now been posted here...

-- Santa Cruz County, CA, County Clerk Gail Pellerin and Brad Friedman on the Peter B. Collins Show, 9/14/07 (appx 41 mins. w/ commercials now removed):

Complete text-transcript of the hour now follows below...

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

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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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Commissioners Want to 'Scrap' Touch-Screen Systems After Tech Budget Allocation of $1.9 Million Exceeded by $6.5 Million in 2006...
By Brad Friedman on 9/7/2007 4:50pm PT  

From Crain's Cleveland Business...

Cuyahoga County commissioners are annoyed at the growing cost of the county’s electronic voting system, and they vented their frustrations with the county’s election process at their meeting today.

“We should sue Diebold,” said Commissioner Jimmy Dimora, referring to Premier Election Solutions Inc., the new name for the Diebold Inc. subsidiary that sells electronic voting machines. The company sold the county electronic voting machines that have played a role in Election Day problems in recent years.

Bravo, Mr. Dimora. Of course you should!

But, ah, here's the rub...

[A]ssistant county prosecutor David Lambert questioned the wisdom of suing a vendor whose support the county relies on to maintain its voting machines and computer systems.

“We need Diebold to fix (the machines),“ he said.

We'll leave you to parse the phrasing of that last quote as you may.

The article goes on to point out that Dimora wants to "scrap the Diebold touch-screen system" after it turns out the county paid "$6.5 million above the $1.9 million originally budgeted for extra help and training before the November 2006 election."

Yes, but think of all the trees they saved! (That would be irony. For all of you Republicans following along.)

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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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