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Latest Featured Reports | Saturday, August 30, 2014
Erick Erickson's Global Warming Denialist Tantrum
Latest barometer of denialist desperation: The rightwing 'thought leader', as usual, is wrong on the facts and science, so he's just taking his ball and going home...
Video Captures GA Family Disowning, Assaulting 20-Year Old Gay Son
But there is a "happy" ending, of sorts, to this heartbreaking and disturbing story...
'Green News Report' 8/28/14
  w/ Brad & Desi
BP refinery explodes. Again.; UN report warns of 'irreversible' warming; Fines for oil, chem spills; 22% of world elec. is now green; PLUS: People's Climate March coming to NYC...
Previous GNRs: 8/26/14 - 8/21/14 - Archives...
Faking the Ferguson Docs:
KPFK 'BradCast'
Brad interviews open records advocate Charlie Grapski on his evidence that Ferguson and St. Louis County police are illegally withholding evidence in the killing of Michael Brown; Plus MUCH more...
Records Requests Suggest Ferguson, St. Louis County Police Involved in Cover-Up
How else to explain the missing details and required documentation of Officer Darren Wilson's killing of Michael Brown?...
'Green News Report' 8/26/14
  w/ Brad & Desi
Napa earthquake is a warning for CA's nuke plants; Another coal plant bites the dust; Cutting emissions will save $$$; PLUS: Fighting drought with a 'salmon cannon'...Yep...
Previous GNRs: 8/21/14 - 8/19/14 - Archives...
Our Story So Far: The WI GOP Photo ID Voting Restrictions
Trouble keeping up with all the court cases barring, then allowing, then barring the GOP's Photo ID voting restrictions in Wisconsin? Let us catch you up quickly with the latest...
Siegelman Judge, Arrested For Beating His Wife, May Avoid Prosecution Altogether
U.S. District Judge Mark Fuller checks in for 'treatment', may be able to duck prosecution...
Obama Orders Review of Police Militarization Program
In response to bi-partisan calls for reform and disturbing display by militarized local police in Ferguson, MO, the President takes aim at controversial Pentagon program...
Ryan Dismisses Elderly Voter's Question About His Medicare Cuts
2012 GOP Veep nom and 2016 hopeful 'charms' elderly voters in FL, by ignoring them...
Perry Tells NH Businessmen His Felony Indictment Was for a 'Bribery' Charge
Is this another 'oops' moment from the Repub TX Governor and 2016 hopeful? Or something else entirely?...
'Green News Report' 8/21/14
Too much rain in AZ desert; Another toxic spill in Ohio River; Solar breakthrough; Wind energy prices hit all-time low; PLUS: Auto-magically cleaning up Baltimore Harbor...
Rep. Hank Johnson on Ferguson and Demilitarizing the Police: KPFK 'BradCast'
The Democratic U.S. Congressman from Georgia's 4th district joins Bradto discuss his new bill...
Republicans Call Ferguson Voter Registration 'Disgusting'
Rightwingers decry effort 'to register Democratic voters' following the killing of Michael Brown...
Seriously, Ferguson Police?
The front page of the Post-Dispatch reminds again how ridiculous the era of post-9/11 Wars has become; Plus: another comparison to the Bundy Bunch...
'Green News Report' 8/19/14
OR nixes coal export facility; July 2014 4th hottest; Fracking industry illegally using diesel, threatening water; PLUS GOP officials secretly accept climate science...
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...
Brad's Upcoming Appearances
(All times listed as PACIFIC TIME unless noted)
Media Appearance Archives...
'Special Coverage' Archives
GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal 2012...
VA GOP VOTER REG FRAUDSTER OFF HOOK
Felony charges dropped against VA Republican caught trashing voter registrations before last year's election. Did GOP AG, Prosecutor conflicts of interest play role?...

Criminal GOP Voter Registration Fraud Probe Expanding in VA
State investigators widening criminal probe of man arrested destroying registration forms, said now looking at violations of law by Nathan Sproul's RNC-hired firm...

DOJ PROBE SOUGHT AFTER VA ARREST
Arrest of RNC/Sproul man caught destroying registration forms brings official calls for wider criminal probe from compromised VA AG Cuccinelli and U.S. AG Holder...

Arrest in VA: GOP Voter Reg Scandal Widens
'RNC official' charged on 13 counts, for allegely trashing voter registration forms in a dumpster, worked for Romney consultant, 'fired' GOP operative Nathan Sproul...

ALL TOGETHER: ROVE, SPROUL, KOCHS, RNC
His Super-PAC, his voter registration (fraud) firm & their 'Americans for Prosperity' are all based out of same top RNC legal office in Virginia...

LATimes: RNC's 'Fired' Sproul Working for Repubs in 'as Many as 30 States'
So much for the RNC's 'zero tolerance' policy, as discredited Republican registration fraud operative still hiring for dozens of GOP 'Get Out The Vote' campaigns...

'Fired' Sproul Group 'Cloned', Still Working for Republicans in At Least 10 States
The other companies of Romney's GOP operative Nathan Sproul, at center of Voter Registration Fraud Scandal, still at it; Congressional Dems seek answers...

FINALLY: FOX ON GOP REG FRAUD SCANDAL
The belated and begrudging coverage by Fox' Eric Shawn includes two different video reports featuring an interview with The BRAD BLOG's Brad Friedman...

COLORADO FOLLOWS FLORIDA WITH GOP CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION
Repub Sec. of State Gessler ignores expanding GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal, rants about evidence-free 'Dem Voter Fraud' at Tea Party event...

CRIMINAL PROBE LAUNCHED INTO GOP VOTER REGISTRATION FRAUD SCANDAL IN FL
FL Dept. of Law Enforcement confirms 'enough evidence to warrant full-blown investigation'; Election officials told fraudulent forms 'may become evidence in court'...

Brad Breaks PA Photo ID & GOP Registration Fraud Scandal News on Hartmann TV
Another visit on Thom Hartmann's Big Picture with new news on several developing Election Integrity stories...

CAUGHT ON TAPE: COORDINATED NATIONWIDE GOP VOTER REG SCAM
The GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal reveals insidious nationwide registration scheme to keep Obama supporters from even registering to vote...

CRIMINAL ELECTION FRAUD COMPLAINT FILED AGAINST GOP 'FRAUD' FIRM
Scandal spreads to 11 FL counties, other states; RNC, Romney try to contain damage, split from GOP operative...

RICK SCOTT GETS ROLLED IN GOP REGISTRATION FRAUD SCANDAL
Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL) sends blistering letter to Gov. Rick Scott (R) demanding bi-partisan reg fraud probe in FL; Slams 'shocking and hypocritical' silence, lack of action...

VIDEO: Brad Breaks GOP Reg Fraud Scandal on Hartmann TV
Breaking coverage as the RNC fires their Romney-tied voter registration firm, Strategic Allied Consulting...

RNC FIRES NATIONAL VOTER REGISTRATION FIRM FOR FRAUD
After FL & NC GOP fire Romney-tied group, RNC does same; Dead people found reg'd as new voters; RNC paid firm over $3m over 2 months in 5 battleground states...

EXCLUSIVE: Intvw w/ FL Official Who First Discovered GOP Reg Fraud
After fraudulent registration forms from Romney-tied GOP firm found in Palm Beach, Election Supe says state's 'fraud'-obsessed top election official failed to return call...

GOP REGISTRATION FRAUD FOUND IN FL
State GOP fires Romney-tied registration firm after fraudulent forms found in Palm Beach; Firm hired 'at request of RNC' in FL, NC, VA, NV & CO...
The Secret Koch Brothers Tapes...


First Democratic Candidate to Answer Directly on the Issue, in Response to Why Tuesday?'s Candidate Challenge...
By Brad Friedman on 11/15/2007 11:15am PT  

Blogged by Brad from the road...

"What we need, is we need paper ballots, so votes can be verified," says John Edwards directly in response to Why Tuesday's video Candidate Challenge. He says a bunch of other good stuff on the topic as well in his brief response...


Edwards is the only Democratic candidate so far (12 candidates from both parties have so far answered the challenge issued by Why Tuesday's Jacob Soboroff) to speak that directly to the issue of paper ballots, and other needed reforms.

On the R side, believe it or not, only Duncan Hunter understands the need for paper ballots. But then again, he also sees imaginary "people that are illegally in the country being rounded up, herded into the polls, we've seen that in California, voting illegally." So we'd have to call his position on election reform a wash.

Also, watch for our buddy Jake's questions on Election Reform to be asked of all of the candidates at tonight's Democratic debate, where his video question was voted into the Top 10 questions (atleast at last count before they shut down voting!) after being voted into the top 10 at 10Questions.com, a project of TechPresident in cooperation with the NYTimes Editorial Board and MSNBC. They will pose all the top 10 questions to the candidates over the next month and ask for a video response, similar to the Why Tuesday? Candidate Challenge. Waytago, Jake!

Why Tuesday? will be at the CNN/YouTube Republican debate in Florida on Nov 28th and The BRAD BLOG looks forward to further partnership with them (Why Tuesday?, not necessarily Republicans, CNN or YouTube) :-)

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UC Santa Barbara Student Says Citizens are Being Tricked into Signing Petition Under Guise of Supporting Cancer Hospitals for Kids...
By Brad Friedman on 11/15/2007 9:58am PT  

Blogged by Brad from the road...

Of course, the dirty trickster Republicans, who are again attempting to put an undead initiative on the California ballot to re-apportion the state's Electoral Votes to split them up by Congressional District (instead of winner-take-all, as it has been for years, and is in almost every other state), would never resort to dirty tricks --- and fraud --- to get their initiative onto the ballot, would they?

Worse, they would never stoop as low as using the guise of support for children's cancer hospitals to achieve their goal, would they?

This posted yesterday by a UC Santa Barbara graduate student...

Today I witnessed what I think is an incidence of ballot petition fraud relating to the electoral vote apportionment initiative - the proposal to apportion California's electoral votes by congressional district, unilaterally giving 19 of California's electoral votes to the Republicans in 2008.

Outside the UCEN (student center plus bookstore plus food court) at UC Santa Barbara, there were a number of people with cardboard clipboards soliciting people to sign ballot petitions for a proposal to spend $1 billion on cancer hospitals for kids. If you agree to sign, they tell you "you need to sign 4 times." What they do not tell you is that the three pages after the ballot initiative on cancer hospitals are different ballot initiatives: the second proposes to abolish eminent domain, the third proposals to abolish rent control, and the fourth is the proposal to apportion California's electoral votes by district (the so-called Dirty Tricks Initiative).

I should note that the clipboard is arranged such that a rubber band holding the petitions to the cardboard is positioned on the top of the page, across the actual ballot language in question - thus, partially hiding the text of the ballot initiatives on pages 2-4 unless you actually stop and pull down the top of the page.

I agreed to sign the cancer initiative, but the comment about signing four times raised a red flag, because I'm familiar with the structure of ballot petitions, so I paused before signing and looked at the other initiatives. However, I'm absolutely sure that most of the people signing, young college students on a rush to get their lunches and off to class, did not take this step.

(Thanks to BRAD BLOG reader GM for the tip.)

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Overflow Crowd in Nashville Prompts Scheduling of Several Additional Screenings...
By Brad Friedman on 11/14/2007 10:41am PT  

Blogged by Brad from somewhere in Colorado...

From the Nashville Scene's coverage of Monday's night premiere of Uncounted: The New Math of American Elections...

After all the work on the film, last night was “a real shot in the arm for all of us,” the director says—with one small exception. “There was a long, long line to get in,” Earnhardt says, chuckling. “The irony wasn’t lost on us.”

And from an emailer who just sent us the following, after having received and watched his signed DVD version of the film, that we sent to him via our recent premium offer (sorry, we've got no more, it sold out very quickly!)...

Dear Brad,

Received and watched Uncounted yesterday. I'm gonna start by ordering 10 more copies, giving them to friends, asking them to watch it, and then have them pass it on to another friend who cares. You don't think that'll count as a chain letter do you? What a great movie!!!!! FINALLY, SOMETHING THAT LAYS IT ALL OUT CLEARLY AND BEAUTIFULLY FOR THE WORLD TO SEE!!!!!!!If I was rich I'd buy thousands of copies but I'll have to be content to start with ten. My holiday presents to the country and the hope of restoring democracy here.

If you've yet to get your own copy of the DVD, we strongly recommend it! You can do that, as well as watch the film's trailer, right here.

DISCLOSURE: Though we show up in this film a number of times, and the filmmaker, David Earnhardt, has purchased a banner ad here at The BRAD BLOG for the film, we make no money from sales of the film, or even click-throughs on the ad. We just think it's damned good and ought to be seen by everyone in America, so we're happy to point it out.

Congrats to David on the great reaction at the premiere! He reported to us after Monday's screening in Nashville that "The enthusiasm people had was over the top positive - people cheered several times during the film - like when Steve Heller printed the documents (a rousing cheer!)" What? No cheers for my appearances, David? Never mind. Don't buy this film! ;-)

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Some Quantitative Numbers from the Brennan Center in Response to the GOP 'Voter Fraud/Photo ID' Scam...
By Brad Friedman on 11/14/2007 10:11am PT  

We don't normally run full articles from elsewhere, but since I'm on the road with very limited time online, and since this item is so important right now and of note to so much that we've covered here over the years (take a look at our Special Coverage page on ACVR to get a taste), I'm making an exception and taking the liberty.

The following is from Josh Marshall at TPM, and was originally published here yesterday. Click through the links below for much more detail!...

In our coverage of the US Attorney Purge story a major issue looming in the background was the Republican party's effort to reduce minority voting. And a key way of doing that was to get states to pass (and the gutted Voting section at DOJ to approve) so-called voter ID laws to crack down on vote fraud for which there was in fact no evidence.

The truth is that if you're an educated and reasonably well-off person who has time free to read about politics during the day at TPM you very likely have one or more pieces of ID, in all likelihood a driver's license. But among minorities, low-income voters, the young and the old that's often not the case. And those who don't have acceptable voter IDs are disproportionately Democrats.

Remember, the point of voter ID laws is not to eliminate fraud it is to eliminate Democratic voters. So if your voter ID law disenfranchises 10% of voters and 80% of those are Democrats you've just handed yourself several percentage points that can win you a bunch of close elections --- it's certainly easier than winning them the old fashioned way.

In any case, I return to this topic because one of these laws has been enacted in Indiana. And the Brennan Center and others have filed an amicus brief with a new quantitative study which finally puts real numbers on how many people will effectively lose their right to vote.

I'm quoting here from the press release on some of the study's key findings ....

# 21.8% of black Indiana voters do not have access to a valid photo ID (compared to 15.8% of white Indiana voters - a 6 point gap).

# When non-registered eligible voter responses are included - the gap widens. 28.3% of eligible black voters in the State of Indiana do not have valid photo ID (compared to 16.8% of eligible voting age white Indiana residents - a gap of 11.5 percent).

# The study found what it termed "a curvilinear pattern (similar to an upside down U-curve)" in the relationship between age and access to valid ID - younger voters and older voters were both less likely to have valid ID compared to voters in the middle categories. 22% of voters 18-34 did not have ID, nor did 19.4% over the age of 70. (compared to 16.2% of Indiana voters age 35-54 without valid ID and 14.1% for 55-69 year olds).

# 21% of Indiana registered voters with only a high school diploma did not have valid ID (compared to 11.5% of Indiana voters who have completed college - a gap of 9.5%).

# Those with valid ID are much more likely to be Republicans than those who do not have valid ID. Among registered voters with proper ID, 41.6% are registered Republicans, 32.5% are Democrats.

The study puts in a very stark relief what the Republican effort to keep minority and low-income voters from the polls is really about. And the Supreme Court will soon sign off on whether this is permitted --- a decision that will have a huge effect on voting rights in this country for years to come. Please take a moment to check out the press release and find out more.

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Federal Oversight Agency Continues Refusal to Notify Election Administrators About Known Failures in E-Voting Systems...
By Brad Friedman on 11/13/2007 11:57am PT  

By Brad Friedman from Richfield, Utah...

If there's a more ineffective federal agency than the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC), we're unaware of it.

The EAC was created in 2002 by the Help America Vote Act (HAVA), in large part to oversee federal certification and maintenance of e-voting systems for the entire country. One of their key mandates was to be a "clearinghouse" for information concerning such systems. Though they have been twice reprimanded by the non-partisan Government Accountability Office (GAO) for their failure to set up such a clearinghouse of information concerning known problems with voting systems, another news report over the weekend confirms that they are more determined than ever to avoid any such responsibility.

Incredible comments given by EAC spokesperson Jeannie Layson and EAC Chairwoman Donnetta Davidson to the Daytona Beach News-Journal underscore the agency's hellbent efforts to avoid any and all responsibility for alerting election officials to known failures of electronic voting systems made by private corporations such as Diebold, ES&S, Sequoia, and others.

The BRAD BLOG has chronicled the short, but storied, history of the EAC's failures, compromised nature, and unwillingness to do their job over the years, but the latest comments --- and subsequent lack of action --- as reported yesterday by M.C. Moewe in the News-Journal are nothing short of astonishing...

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

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Voting Machines Failures Reported (So Far) in Indiana, Georgia, Pennsylvania, Colorado, & Maryland...
UPDATE: Naturally, Ohio Joins the Group of States with Voting Failures...
By Brad Friedman on 11/7/2007 5:35am PT  

Voter turnout was light in many parts of the country yesterday. Ironically enough, that's the good news.

Alternet ran a preview of voter suppression issues of concern in yesterday's elections across the country. Sure enough, the author, Steve Rosenfeld, wrote in during the early evening to let us know there were problems concerning Photo ID issues popping up in pockets around the country, and that he'd have more soon. Our own Alan Breslauer touched base as well with several reports he'd been getting from around the country.

John Gideon's "Daily Voting News" yesterday pointed to some of those issues that had been reported in the media as of yesterday afternoon around the country. GOP voter suppression, through specious claims of Democratic "voter fraud" and the invented "need," therefore, for disenfranchising photo ID laws and challenges at the polls, is at the top of the Republican strategy for '08. Naturally, it was taken out for a test spin yesterday.

(Speaking of spin, don't miss wingnut Mychal Massie's despicable retread diatribe --- including the mandatory quotes from GOP "voter fraud" fraudster, John Fund, who wrote the book on it, literally --- in the wingnut WorldNetDaily. His tragically misguided piece, headlined "Vote fraud: Democrats' meal ticket" gives you just about all you need to know. Read it once, save yourself a thousand or so near-identical reads between now and November 2008. But we digress...)

The other major prong of voter disenfranchisment is, of course, the machine issue. Problems in that area, in particular, tend to reveal themselves in the days after elections. Early on election day such problems are frequently downplayed in the media, who tend to turn to Election Officials for information despite the inherent conflict of interest such officials have in hoping to portray their elections as "successful."

In the early hours, then, hints of such breakdowns are reported as little more than computer "glitches" "hiccups" "snafus" and "snags" (though "kinks" makes it debut today, see below) until later on, when the true extent of the voting system failures --- and that's what they are, not "kinks" --- become known.

With that in mind, here are just a few of those e-voting glitches, hiccups, snafus, snags, and yes, kinks, from around the country so far yesterday, as culled from Gideon's DVN last night...

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

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Company Recommends 'Rescheduling Elections,' Calling Voters to 'Re-Vote' as Part of Memory Card Failure Procedures; We Recommend Suing the Bastards...
ALSO: Voter-Supression Tactics in Play Around the US Today...
By Brad Friedman on 11/6/2007 4:22pm PT  


A good report from a couple of days ago from the I-Team in Cleveland, Ohio. Unfortunately, they tend to run such reports just before Election Days, when it's too damned late to do a damn thing about it.

Nonetheless, some very good stuff here. Of particular note are the points from Diebold's recommendations which "appear to border on the absurd," that should voting machine memory cards be lost, "elections must be re-scheduled." Or if they fail, as our recent story concerning Diebold's admissions about memory card failures in Florida pointed towards, the company says "all voters will have to be called in to re-vote."

Heckuva voting system guys. Check out the report, above right.

NOTE: Discussion of suing Diebold comes up in this piece yet again. Along with the same concerns, as heard elsewhere, about "the Catch-22" of suing voting machine vendors. Namely, counties are afraid to sue the company they rely on to run their next election! The counties and the vendors are "joined at the hip," as the I-Team report points out. Call it a soft form of extortion, really.

If you haven't already, please sign VoterAction's petition calling on Congress to "conduct a full investigation into the dangers associated with the privatization of our public elections and to determine whether certain US voting systems companies have committed crimes under federal and state anti-fraud laws."

For an early look at concerns, largely of voter-suppression issues, around the country, Alternet has a very good state-by-state preview this morning.

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Paper Also Calls On Congress To Reject FEC Nominee Hans Von Spakovsky
Editorializes That DoJ Voting Rights Section Is Run By Ideologues Most Concerned With Disenfranchising Minorities...
By Alan Breslauer on 11/6/2007 12:51pm PT  

Guest Blogged by Alan Breslauer

The NY Times calls for the firing of John Tanner, the chief of the Justice Department's Civil Rights voting section, because of the “offensive” and “bigoted” comments originally captured and reported by The BRAD BLOG:

A House Judiciary subcommittee was the site of a sad spectacle the other day: John Tanner, who heads the Justice Department’s voting section, trying to explain offensive, bigoted comments he made about minority voters. It was a shameful moment that crystallized the need for immediate steps to fight for the rights that Mr. Tanner has been working so hard to undermine.

The administration should, of course, fire Mr. Tanner. Congress should pass a bill to criminalize deceptive campaign practices. And it should reject a pending nominee to the Federal Election Commission, Hans von Spakovsky.

The Justice Department has a long history of protecting the voting rights of minorities. In the Bush administration, the department’s voting rights section has been taken over by ideologues most interested in denying the ballot to minorities, poor people and other groups likely to vote Democratic.
...
There have been calls for Mr. Tanner to be removed, and he should be, but that is not enough. The Senate must refuse to confirm Mr. von Spakovsky, an anti-voting-rights advocate cut from the same cloth as Mr. Tanner, to the F.E.C. Based on his record, Mr. von Spakovsky would use the job to undermine the right to vote.
...
This administration seems to believe that the right to vote is something only Democrats should care about. It is too important to be reduced to a partisan issue.

Also see The BRAD BLOG's extensive coverage on Hans von Spakovsky.

Tanner has come under a great deal of fire, since, our original report of his assertions that while it was "a shame" that elderly voters were likely disenfranchised by his approval --- on behalf of the DoJ, and against the advice of his staff --- of a Georgia Photo ID poll restriction, minorities were somehow better served by it. His objectionable, and now-discredited, argument: "Minorities don't become elderly the way white people do. They die first."

Among those who have previously called for Tanner's firing in some fashion: Sen. Barack Obama, Rep. Jerrold Nadler, Sen. Ted Kennedy, along with many other officials and organizations.

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'I think you've gotta have 'em...Having a real ballot, I think is important' The Republican Presidential Candidate Says
Go Figure...
By Brad Friedman on 11/5/2007 6:12pm PT  

Several weeks ago we excoriated Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) for his unsubstantiated claim, made during a recent Republican Presidential Debate, that "We have right now a real danger of people that are illegally in the country being rounded up, herded into the polls, we've seen that in California, voting illegally."

Multiple attempts to contact both his presidential campaign and congressional office for specifics on the allegations he was making went unanswered. So we best-guessed, and detailed, what we believed he was likely referring to, along with our final conclusion that, barring any information to the contrary from him, he and his claims were "entirely full of shit."

But fair's fair, and we're happy to recognize the odd moments when Hunter says or does something that isn't "entirely full of shit," especially when it has to do with paper ballots.

In this case, his response to our pal Jake Soboroff, who caught up with him in Iowa to interview him for the Why Tuesday? "Candidate Challenge" concerning election reform issues, is --- of the candidates Soboroff has gotten on tape so far (more on that below) --- the only one to directly point out the need for paper ballots in American elections...

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

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Magazine Says Nelson-Whitehouse Senate Bill Calling for 2012 Ban on Dangerous DRE Voting Systems a 'Stunning Reversal'
Uses Our Own 'Ford Pinto' Metaphor in Article Spurring One Writer to Proclaim to BRAD BLOG: 'DREs Are Now Junk in Mainstream Publications Such as Time!'
By Brad Friedman on 11/4/2007 1:56pm PT  

Sure, the reporter at TIME magazine gets much of the terminology wrong (hey, he works for TIME, he doesn't have the kind of resources we do here at The BRAD BLOG to get things right when we report them, so we'll cut him some slack), but as a national writer friend of ours commented in a late-night email last night, "DREs are now junk, officially, in mainstream publications such as Time.com"

Well, it's about damned time.

Reporting on the new Nelson-Whitehouse Election Reform bill, which we covered late last week, and which would ban Direct Recording Electronic (DRE, usually touch-screen) voting systems by 2012, TIME declares that the reversal, since 2000, away from such unverifiable, unauditable, unsecurable voting machines "couldn't be more stunning," adding that the bill is "the clearest sign yet of the stampede away from touch-screen."

The report also quotes Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) mirroring his comments when he released the legislation with co-sponsor Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) as saying "Voters have to feel confident that their ballot will count as intended." Last week he had said, in his statement, that DREs are "unreliable and vulnerable to error," and that "[t]he bottom line is we have to ensure every vote is counted – and, counted properly."

To which occasional BRAD BLOG Guest Blogger, Emily Levy of VelvetRevolution.us, asked Nelson rhetorically in comments here, if that's true, "as declared in your November 1 statement, why would you be willing to wait until 2012 for DREs to be banned?...I mean, isn't there a somewhat important election coming up in, oh, let's say, 2008?"

Good point, Em!

The TIME piece also quotes Dan McCrea, of the Florida Voters Coalition borrowing one of our own oft-used metaphors (which we are quite happy to donate to the cause!) in regard to those who fear banning DREs would be a huge waste of their previous investment in the shitty machines.

McCrea tells TIME that such thinking is similar to "buying a fleet of Pintos whose gas tanks you later find out blow up on you, but insisting you're going to keep using them because you spent all that money on them."

Thanks for getting that into TIME, Dan! Smartly done!

He also points out, for those who claim there is not enough time to switch away from dangerous DREs to paper ballots before the November 2008 Presidential Election, "New Mexico voted to convert back to a paper ballot system in the spring of 2006 and had it ready by last November's elections."

Thanks again, Dan. Now if we can just get those Democrats and Election Integrity folks who continue to negotiate with themselves by watering down their own bills, and putting off reform for years down the road --- in order to garner support from folks who are going to oppose them on such bills no matter what --- to start realizing that, and calling instead for real reform NOW, we might actually be in business!

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Nelson and Co-Sponsor Whitehouse Rewrite Originally Introduced Bill to Do Away with Discredited Systems by 2012 and 'Any Subsequent Year'
By Brad Friedman on 11/1/2007 11:07pm PT  

-- By Brad Friedman

After months of being told over and over by Rep. Rush Holt's (D-NJ) office, People for the American Way (PFAW), and many of the other most ardent supporters of Holt's flawed Election Reform Bill (HR811) that "there is no support in Congress for a ban on DREs," it looks like they must have been wrong. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) and co-sponsor Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) filed such a bill today.

Here's the complete bill [PDF] which we've yet to read in full. But note this item from page 41, Line 7:

RESTRICTION ON USE OF DIRECT RECORDING ELECTRONIC VOTING SYSTEMS -
A direct recording electronic voting system may not be used to administer any election for Federal office held in 2012 or any subsequent year.

A ban on such machines, finally? Yes! By 2012? Unfortunately, yes. But let's overlook that last point for a moment.

In a statement issued by Nelson today, pointing out that DRE (often referred to as "touch-screen") voting systems are "unreliable and vulnerable to error," the senator says, "The bottom line is we have to ensure every vote is counted – and, counted properly...Citizens must have confidence in the integrity of their elections.”

The new language banning DREs was added today to a previous version of the same bill which Nelson had introduced originally in early Summer. This version "would be the first [bill] to seek a ban on electronic touch-screen voting machines in federal elections nationwide," according to his statement, which adds that the language was updated after a recent meeting with Florida's Republican Secretary of State Kurt Browning, once an ardent support of DRE voting systems.

When Nelson's original version of the legislation was introduced some months ago, it was largely a "clone version" of Holt's original HR811 introduced in the House, but with a number of extra provisions addressing concerns of voter intimidation and suppression.

Little attention had been given to Nelson's bill at the time, since the Rules Committee was regarded as having jurisdiction for any Election Reform bills in the Senate, and the committee chair, Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-CA), had made clear she intended to introduce her own version of Election Reform as the Senate counterpart to Holt's. She eventually introduced S. 1487, which has been subsequently criticized by Election Integrity advocates as being even more flawed then Holt's much-criticized bill.

(FULL DISCLOSURE: We were invited to work on the Holt bill prior to its introduction, and succeeded in adding several much-improved provisions. Yet the bill, as currently written --- and far more so since being drastically watered down throughout the committee process --- has failed to garner our support.)

DREs: "Not a Reasonable Voting System"

Neither Feinstein's nor Holt's bill had called for a ban on DRE voting systems, however, despite an outcry among Election Integrity advocates and a host of computer scientists and security experts who argued that DREs were vulnerable to hacking, non-transparent, prone to error, antithetical to democracy, and thus simply could not be used safely in elections. With or without a so-called "Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail" (VVPAT) printer attached.

Johns Hopkins computer professor Avi Rubin testified earlier this year that "after four years of studying the issue, I now believe that a DRE with a VVPAT is not a reasonable voting system."

Stanford professor and VerifiedVoting.org founder David Dill, arguing in favor of the Holt bill, admitted, "I would personally prefer to see optical scan machines used nationwide."

And former legislative director of VoteTrustUSA.org Warren Stewart, now also of VerifiedVoting, had told a Senate panel earlier this year that while there were disagreements among some in the EI movement, most had agreed that touch-screen systems must not not be used. "While this broad based movement embraces a wide range of proposals and positions," he testified, "it is unified in the conclusion that the direct electronic recording of votes to computer memory is inimical to democracy."

And yet, all three of the above advocates, along with many others, continued to argue --- while failing to offer any actual evidence for the claim --- that there was simply no support for the idea of a DRE ban in either house of the U.S. Congress.

All the while, The BRAD BLOG had maintained that they, and the other Holt supporters, had fallen victim to a hoax by People for the American Way (PFAW). The popular public advocacy group had long pushed the unsupported notion that there was no congressional support for such a ban, in order to see the bill passed specifically without such a ban. It was one of several false notions being forwarded by the group in favor of the bill, as we argued both here and at Alernet early in the year.

A careful examination of PFAW's on-the-record statements, and numerous on and off-the-record conversations with their Executive Director and legislative leaders by The BRAD BLOG over many months, revealed that PFAW (almost inexplicably) has actually been advocating in favor of the use of dangerous DRE voting systems in American elections. It's fair to say that Holt's bill had thus been held hostage to ensure that such systems would not be banned.

But then came the fallout from the failed 13th Congressional District election last November in Nelson's home state, followed by California Sec. of State Debra Bowen's landmark scientific findings, Rep. Susan Davis's (D-CA) amendment this past summer, and a killer editorial from the New York Times as the tide began to slowly turn...

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

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Gives Details to BRAD BLOG Alleging Testimony from Chief of DoJ Civil Rights Division Voting Section 'Not Believable,' Full of 'Evasion and Prevarication'
'He Lost No Time in Twisting the Truth,' Says 'Anonymous' Staffer in E-Mailed Rebuttal...
By Brad Friedman on 10/31/2007 3:01pm PT  

During yesterday morning's contentious hearings in the House Judiciary subcommittee, featuring DoJ Voting Chief, John "Minorities Die First" Tanner, a staffer in that division who we've come to know contacted The BRAD BLOG to say "Tanner is lying through his teeth."

We asked the staffer --- who has requested to remain "anonymous" for obvious reasons --- to elucidate with details, which are now posted in full below...

I welcome the opportunity to respond to John Tanner's testimony yesterday in front of the House Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties.

We in the Voting Section were amazed to watch John Tanner's evasion and prevarication. He lost no time in twisting the truth. In his opening statement, he gives his usual litany about all the suits the [DoJ Civil Rights Division Voting] Section has filed. A huge percentage of them have been meaningless, the kinds of suits that never would have been filed under previous leadership. In the past, the Section Chief would pick up the phone, call the jurisdiction, and the jurisdiction would change its procedures. Only truly intransigent jurisdictions got sued. Now, the protocol is that even if we negotiate with the jurisdiction, we sue them, and many times, a previously negotiated consent decree is filed with the court the very same day the complaint is filed. The only possible justification for doing this is to pad the numbers of lawsuits we're filing.

Tanner says "The Section is so productive because of the energy, the enthusiasm, and the commitment of the Section staff." At this point, the only thing that the Section staff could conceivably be said to be energetic and enthusiastic about and committed to is the departure of John Tanner and his handpicked acting deputies, Susana Lorenzo-Giguere and Yvette Rivera. Tanner's ineptitude has done something most of the committed supporters of civil rights in the Section never thought possible: it's given us common cause with people across the aisle. We disagree with their ideology, but as one of them told me only today, Tanner has few supporters even over there. We are united in our belief in their inability to manage the Section. Aside from this, morale is at an ebb that even falls below that which existed when Hans von Spakovsky and Brad Schlozman ran roughshod over the Section.

The letter continues below...

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

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Dana Milbank Takes Down the DoJ's Voting Chief With His Own Testimony from Yesterday's House Judiciary Hearing
ADDITIONAL VIDEO SPANKINGS: Reps. Davis and Ellison's Q&As in Full...
By Brad Friedman on 10/31/2007 1:02pm PT  

Wow. Snap. Washington Post covered yesterday's House Judiciary subcommittee hearings in two separate articles today and via one hell of an online video to boot.

Dana Milbank covered on page 2, opening with "John Tanner is one sorry man." Dan Eggen covered the "political uproar" that we kicked off here at The BRAD BLOG several weeks ago, on page 4.

But it's Milbank's online "video sketch" that cuts to the bone, offering the best first-hand encapsulated coverage of the hearings we've seen to date (far better, even, than the PBS News Hour's version last night).

Consider the following montage a "Must See!" And one that almost makes one begin to feel sorry for John "Minorities Die First" Tanner...

...We said "almost." But not by much. A reply to Tanner's testimony yesterday --- from an insider still forced to work under him at the DoJ's Civil Rights Division Voting Section --- to come shortly.

In the meantime, if you've yet to see the full smack-downs that Tanner received yesterday at the hands of Reps. Artur Davis (D-AL) and then Keith Ellison (D-MN), the videos of both of those brutal Q&As are posted in full below, and are similarly "Must Sees!"...

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Faces Extremely Pointed Questions from Committee Members, Furious About Recent Comments Reported by The BRAD BLOG...
UPDATED NOW WITH VIDEO OF THE MOST CONTENTIOUS Q&A's...
By Brad Friedman on 10/30/2007 7:25am PT  

We're up before the West Coast dawn this morning to monitor the hearings in the U.S. House Judiciary's Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties featuring John "Minorities Die First" Tanner. His recent objectionable comments were originally video-taped and reported by The BRAD BLOG several weeks ago.

The most objectionable of those comments including his contention that it was a "shame" that elderly voters might be disenfranchised by a 2005 Georgia Photo ID poll restriction that he approved on behalf of DoJ and against the advice of four out of five of his career staffers, minorities would somehow benefit from it. His twisted reasoning was that "because our society is such that minorities don't become elderly. The way white people do. They die first."

Tanner, incredibly, is still the Chief of the Voting Section in the DoJ's Civil Rights Division.

It's being carried live and webcast on C-Span 3, as well as via the Judiciary Committee's own webcast.

Major points in our story so far...

Beyond that, Progress Report has an excellent round up of Tanner's "Erosion of Voter Rights" during his tenure.

The hearings have now ended, but our notes from our Live-Blogging of today's hearings are below, along with video clips of the key, and most pointed exchanges...

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

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Says John 'Minorities Die First' Tanner's Recent Remarks 'Underscore the GOP's Utter Disregard for the Integrity of our Nation's Election System'
Statement Issued in Advance of Tomorrow's U.S. House Judicary Hearings Featuring Testimony from Embattled DoJ Voting Rights Chief...
By Brad Friedman on 10/29/2007 12:46pm PT  

In advance of tomorrow morning's House Judiciary Committee hearing to feature testimony by DoJ Civil Rights Division Voting Section chief John "Minorities Die First" Tanner, DNC Chair Howard Dean and Donna Brazile of the DNC Voting Rights Institute have issued a statement calling for Tanner to be "immediately fired."

"In their latest scheme, the Republican Administration has manipulated the mission of the Department of Justice, firing US Attorneys who were unwilling to pursue phony 'voter fraud' cases, and politicized the Civil Rights Division," the statement (posted in full at the end of this article) reads.

The release goes on to decry the politicization of the Bush Department of Justice, and what is described as their "outright assault" on the right to vote.

"Tanner's outrageous comments underscore the GOP's utter disregard for the integrity of our nation's election system and are an affront to the spirit of the Voting Rights Act," Dean and Brazile said, before declaring that the embattled Voting Rights Section chief "should be fired immediately and replaced with someone who will work to make sure that all citizens are able to vote and have their vote counted."

They call on Judge Michael Mukasey, if he is confirmed as the next Attorney General, to "commit to replacing Tanner with someone who will protect our rights, not ignore them for a partisan agenda."

As The BRAD BLOG recently reported, however, Mukasey made clear in his recent Senate Confirmation hearings that he does not object to restrictive polling place Photo ID laws which critics contend may disenfranchise anywhere from 10 to 30 million largely Democratic-leaning voters who do not have such ID.

Previously, Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) and Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) have called for Tanner's firing. Senator Ted Kennedy (D-MA) wrote Mukasey last week to ask if he will review the matter and consider the termination of Tanner.

Tanner's objectionable comments were made several weeks ago during a panel discussion on Photo ID issues at the National Latino Congreso in Los Angeles. Tanner, who approved a controversial Georgia Photo ID law on behalf of the DoJ against the advice of the majority of the career staffers in the Voting Rights section, admitted the law would disenfranchise some elderly voters and added that while that was a "shame," minorities would somehow be positively affected by such laws since "they don't become elderly. They die first."

(A short clip of Tanner's comments is posted at left.)

The Georgia ID law was later found unconstitutional and overturned by two federal courts that compared the restriction to a modern-day Jim Crow-era poll tax.

Paul Kiel at TPM Muck has a few more thoughts in advance of tomorrow's Judiciary Committee hearings.

Though Tanner comments were originally video-taped and reported by The BRAD BLOG, the DNC press release credits Fox News.com (thanks guys!).

UPDATE: Tanner apologizes for remarks! Sort of...

The complete DNC statement from Howard Dean and Donna Brazile as just issued, follows below...

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

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