Maddow warns: 'With this many top of ticket races tied, turnout will be everything...Now we watch for the ways that people will try to stop voters from turning out or from having their votes counted, by hook or by crook'...
Joining Karl Rove and Alberto "Fredo" Gonzales in announcing their retirements is Conny McCormack, the much embattled and always friendly to voting machine vendors Registrar of Voters for Los Angeles County, the most populous county in the nation.
In a statement on the LA County Registrar's website McCormack begins by saying:
After 30 years of public service, I have decided to retire at the end of this year. It has been an honor to serve the residents of Los Angeles County for the past 12 years as Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk and to lead a Department of exceptionally talented and dedicated employees committed to providing top quality service in all three diverse functional areas --- from election administration to recording property deeds to maintaining the public’s official records regarding voting, property ownership, birth, death, marriage, and more.
Here's a picture from a Diebold brochure that features McCormack. Could our question that accompanies the picture, which we used in a recent article on McCormack's expressed concerns for Diebold's profits, be an omen of what is to happen in the future?
UPDATE FROM BRAD: Despite McCormack's exit statement to the contrary, as linked above, she has left Los Angeles County a mess. At this time, we have no idea what voting system will be used in next February's Presidential Primary Election, as she's sided with the vendors, rather than the voters, when it came to meeting the requirements for CA SoS Debra Bowen's "Top-to-Bottom Review" of voting systems.
Furthermore, while she joined the throng of California Registrars all too happy to rush to the media, to bitch about having just six months to implement Bowen's new security requirements with just six months before the next big primary, it's telling that she's willing to leave nation's largest county altogether just a month before that primary. What does that tell you about her (and the other Registrars') feigned concern about having enough time to make sure the voters are well served in the next election?
The question is not will she go to work for a voting company, the only question seems to be which one, and how soon.
Here's an in-depth, in-person interview I did with Tom Klammer for his Tell Somebody show last week in Kansas City, MO, on KKFI. This is the first part of the interview, and he promises to run the rest next week. The conversation was on Election and Media issues in Missouri and across the country, including more on GOP anti-democracy, vote-suppressor Thor Hearne from the hometown of the headquarters for his law firm, Lathrop & Gage. A bit of drama is added, as if it's needed, as thunder is heard throughout the interview.
Brad Friedman interviewed on Tell Somebody with Tom Klammer, aired 8/24/07 (appx. 35 mins):
UPDATE: Part Two of my interview with Klammer was run on the following Friday. Here is that show, featuring the rest of our in-depth interview, focusing on the failures of touch-screen voting and duplicity by the voting machine companies.
Brad Friedman interviewed on Tell Somebody with Tom Klammer, Part Two aired 8/31/07 (appx. 39 mins):
My name is Clint Curtis, and I am running for Congress in Florida’s 24th District because I am fed up with the corruption and incompetence that continues to plague us in Washington. I'm running because the people of this country deserve honest representation and strong leadership that reflects the true will of the people.
As long-time BRAD BLOG readers may remember, I have dedicated myself to the cause of election integrity ever since a corrupt congressman asked me to create a prototype vote-rigging software program while we were both working for the same Florida software company back in 2000.
Since then, I have stepped into the sunshine to tell the story, and have become one of the nation's leading advocates for election reform. Working with non-partisan election integrity groups across the nation, I have fought hard for legislation that mandates the use of paper ballots. The state of Florida just passed such legislation earlier this year --- an enormous victory for proponents of election reform and a great win, finaly, for the voters of Florida.
My district is bordered by Cocoa Beach, Kennedy Space Center, Daytona Beach and Orlando. It is a district of stark contrast between the haves and the have nots. Million dollar beachfront palaces sit just a scant few miles away from thousands who subsist in grinding poverty, bereft of hope. This is Florida’s Space Coast, a region of stunning beauty and spectacular innovation, but we have the misfortune to be represented by one of the most corrupt Republicans in Congress, the very same congressman who asked me to create that vote-rigging program: Tom Feeney.
But I will need your help in running against Feeney, and more importantly for the moment, helping the Democratic power structure in Washington D.C. understand we are ready, willing and able to take this seat and remove Tom Feeney once and for all.
For those of you who are new to The BRAD BLOG and may not be familiar with my story, up until just a few years ago I was a stereotypical, mild-mannered software engineer who would have never in a million years considered running for public office. As I said in a post last week, introducing myself to readers at Daily Kos, I’m just a ‘regular guy,’ a middle class citizen, working hard to make ends meet, like so many of you. And sad to say, for too many years, I bought into the myth that people like us can’t really make much a difference.
I've been a programmer since 1985. I've worked on projects as diverse as NASA to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Department. Although I was always an independently inclined voter, for years I identified more with Republicans than Democrats. I thought they shared my values of integrity, ethics, and honesty. I believe many of them still do. But that trust was shattered when I came to discover what shameless depths bad apple Republican politicians have now sunk to...
Three Pennsylvania counties are considering pulling their old lever voting machines out of mothballs for this November's general election. The counties' "Plan B" comes in the wake of a refusal by e-voting machine company Advance Voting Systems (AVS) to pay the bill to federal "Independent Testing Authority" (ITA) lab iBeta Quality Assurance which has, according to NJ's Express-Times, found "thousands of source code irregularities and 24 documentation irregularities with AVS machines."
A problem in AVS's currently certified systems in PA makes them impossible to use as is in the upcoming elections.
iBeta is one of the private testing labs recently given approval by the U.S. Elections Assistance Commission (EAC) to test voting systems at the federal level. The labs, however, are still paid by the voting machine companies themselves.
The EAC's letter [PDF] also indicated that iBeta discovered AVS machines, contrary to the submitted documentation, used a different motherboard than those on the machines submitted for testing.
It's unclear, according to some of the reports from the PA papers, whether lever machines may legally be used in their elections, or if the counties may have to move to....wait for it...paper ballots in this November's municipal elections.
The Express-Times reveals the extraordinary arrogance of the voting machine companies, who, until heat has recently been brought to bear on both the EAC and the companies, had for years received a rubber-stamp for qualification of their systems by federal testers --- no matter how poorly the systems were built. After the EAC notified the company that certification testing was being suspended at iBeta due to lack of payment, "Howard Van Pelt, Advanced Voting Solutions president, maintained the machines are certified, regardless of what the commission says," according to the Express-Times.
Van Pelt, however, is wrong. But he, and the others like him, are used to receiving a free pass from the EAC and other Federal and local authorities for so many years that they may still be under the impression they can do whatever they want, despite what the federal government tells them and despite what the law says.
Yet AVS may not be the only voting machine company we may soon find unwilling --- or unable --- to pay for testing of voting systems, which could subsequently plunge elections in other states and counties into danger of not being carried out at all...
More information about the following report is available here. Since its airing, election legal watchdog Voter Action has called for a full Congressional investigation into the possibility of commercial fraud by the voting machine companies as based upon some of the startling information revealed in this exposé...
NOTE: As the original Google version of this report has been taken down for some reason, we are making it available here, in three easy to watch segments. Additionally, a complete transcript is now posted here, courtesy of Jerry Berkman.
Part 1 (30:09): Concentrates on voting machine vendor ES&S and their previously undisclosed touch-screen sweatshop factories in Manila...
Part 2 (8:07): Dan Rather interviews electronic voting apologist, machine tester, Michael Shamos...
Part 3 (26:25): The "HOLY COW!" revelations about Florida 2000 and the seven whistleblowers from Sequoia who reveal, for the first time, that "somebody" at Sequoia purposely used lower grade paper and misaligned the chads (for Palm Beach County, FL specifically) on the paper ballots used in that Presidential Election (see additional comments from John Gideon and Brad Friedman on this section below)...
UPDATE By John Gideon: The revelations in Rather's report from the Sequoia punch-card printers, that inferior paper was used in the 2000 election in Palm Beach, are stunning. It was all about corporate greed. Sequoia Voting Systems has a big anvil hanging over their heads and it is hanging by a thread. No wonder Smartmatic only paid $16M for Sequoia which had assets over $40M. The previous owners of Sequoia, De La Rue, wanted out and now Smartmatic wants out but who is going to buy Sequoia now with all of their liabilities?
ADDITIONAL UPDATE FROM BRAD: Holy cow! If you haven't seen this thing, you must. The second half of the program, after the stunning revelations of the ES&S sweatshop in Manila, followed by a mostly useless interview with voting machine apologist Michael Shamos, breaks some enormous news concerning Sequoia's apparent effort to create havoc with Florida's punch-cards in 2000. With seven company whistleblowers, all interviewed on camera, and by name, objecting to the company's use of faulty paper and then misalignment of chads, specifically for Democratic Palm Beach County only, this thing could lead to huge fallout.
The remarkable report --- for which Rather should receive some kind of award --- reopens 2000, as nobody at Sequoia is willing to cop to signing off on the bad paper and misaligned chads business after all seven employees interview had refused to do so. Who gamed that election? At whose orders? And doesn't that open up new questions concerning Clint Curtis' allegations that he was asked by Tom Feeney, prior to the 2000 election, to create software to rig a touch-screen voting system. Up until now, one of the criticism of Curtis' claims has been that "nobody was even thinking about touch-screens prior to the 2000 election. This report, and the fact that Sequoia was using touch-screens as early as 1998 in Riverside County, CA, may blow that wide open.
UPDATE 8/28/07: More details on the above update, and this report seals up yet another allegation of the formerly Republican whistleblower Clint Curtis, now here...
Today our friends at VoterAction announced an action alert to ask the United State's Congress to take action to investigate "the increasing influence and control that private companies wage in the way we conduct our elections and to determine whether certain US voting systems companies have committed crimes under federal and state anti-fraud statutes which should be referred to the appropriate authorities for prosecution".
VoterAction is asking that you sign a petition to congress.
Their statement follows on the heels of evidence revealed in Dan Rather's stunning investigative report on "The Trouble with Touchscreens" (complete video now posted here) and charges that the report "raises serious questions as to whether US voting systems companies have engaged in commercial fraud by knowingly marketing defective products to jurisdictions throughout the country."
If you're within driving, walking, running distance of St. Louis, Missouri, please consider coming out Thursday Night to the Eliot Unitarian Chapel in Kirkwood (216 East Argonne) for an Election Integrity evening.
I'll be speaking and answering questions and heckles, right here in Thor Hearne Country, after a screening of Dorothy Fadiman's excellent documentary, Stealing America: Vote by Vote (which is being submitted for an Academy Award nomination, btw).
The sponsors of the free event, Missourians for Honest Elections, have also invited to speak both Thor Hearne, chief Bush/Cheney/GOP voter disenfranchiser and founder of the "American Center for Voting Rights" (ACVR), as well Paul DiGregorio, former St. Louis County Election Director turned chair of the U.S. Elections Assistance Commission (EAC) who parlayed those jobs into his current position at the ironically named Internet voting company Everyone Counts. Those St. Louisans, and several others currently serving on the county's Board of Elections have all so far declined the invitation to show up, speak, and answer questions.
So I guess I'll have to talk about them instead.
WHEN: Thursday, August 16, 2007. Film at 6:30pm CT, I speak at 7:30pm CT. WHERE: Eliot Unitarian Chapel, 216 E. Argonne, Kirkwood, MO (map) MORE DETAILS:Here and here, along with some kind words from the Fired Up! Missouri folks right here.
Here's an in-studio radio appearance I did yesterday with the great newsman, Don Marsh on KWMU, St. Louis' NPR station. Exit pollster and political scientist Ken Warren also joined us by phone for the 45 minute interview with callers, etc. St. Louis County Election Director, John Diehl was supposed to call in late in the program. He never showed. Go figure.
As we reported on Sunday, Dan Rather's investigation of the voting machine industry is causing a stir. Apparently the Election Assistance Commission (EAC) decided that something in the Rather report did not match up with what ES&S had reported to them.
The voting machine company failed to disclose that their equipment was being made in a sweatshop in the Philippines even though they are supposed to reveal all such information to the federal EAC. In a strange fit of responsible behavior, the EAC has sent them a letter of reprimand (letter is posted in full below). Though the notice amounts to little more than a friendly slap on the wrist.
Similarly, the EAC has sent a letter to voting machine company Advanced Voting Systems (AVS), for secretly replacing mother boards in their systems without certification or approval. That letter is also posted at the end of this article.
An interview with Rather, earlier this afternoon on CNN's Situation Room, is now posted at right. Rather's startling report will be airing beginning this evening at 8PM EDT and will air on HD Net over the next few days. It will also be on-line for those who cannot get HD Net. We'll try to provide links as soon as one becomes available. Our report from Sunday included a disturbing 12 minute preview version.
UPDATE FROM BRAD : Kim Zetter at WIRED adds a few details to this issue moments ago, including this interesting revelation of some ES&S sleight-of-hand to hide their Filipino sweatshop...
ES&S did not respond to a call for comment. So I asked the EAC for the list that ES&S submitted regarding its manufacturing facilities. Here it is:
FutureLogic; Phoenix, AZPivot International; Lenexa, KS Ricoh Electronics; Tustin, CA Technical Support , Inc; Omaha, NE Xten Industries; Kenosha, WI
Notice that ES&S's list does include Pivot International, based in Kansas, but it does not mention that Pivot actually has the machines assembled at the Teletech factory in Manila.
The full letters from the EAC can be found here [PDF]. A text version of both are found below...
Here are a few money shots, from one of the very few articles we've been able to find that gets it right, since the release of CA Secretary of State Bowen's landmark, independent review of the utter failures of every single electronic voting system that has been rubber-stamp certified by her horribly irresponsible predecessor, Bruce McPherson, and the near-entirety of CA Elections Officials who have been misleading and whining about the findings ever since...
The most important results of last fall's election are just now in, and dozens of county voting registrars who invested hundreds of millions of dollars in high-tech voting machines are the losers, exposed as careless at best, irresponsible at worst.
Only a few California voters realized it during that election season, but the trustworthiness of this state's entire voting process was at stake. The candidate who favored questioning all electronic voting machines won.
And soon after Democrat Debra Bowen took over as secretary of state last winter, she ordered a "top-to-bottom review" of electronic voting and vote-counting systems. The results expose the failures of the registrars: Every voting system they've bought since 2000, except those whose maker didn't readily submit them to testing, proved corruptible.
No one would know this today if former Republican Secretary of State Bruce McPherson had won last year. Despite serious questions about machines made by Diebold Election Systems, Hart InterCivic, Sequoia Voting Systems and Election Systems & Software (ES&S), McPherson never seriously examined the possibility that votes cast on them could be altered.
[I]f McPherson were still around, registrars wouldn't be whining now about "chaos" or the expense of carrying out Bowen's corrective edicts. Nor would they be worrying about facing questions for months to come about how they could spend so much on machines that can be corrupted.
The objection that voters do not get as much access as Bowen's hacking team also doesn't stand up. Her testers unscrewed panels to get around tamper-proof seals. They got inside virtually all machines. Any precinct worker who stores machines in closets or garages has as much opportunity as they did. So might county staffers wishing to sneak-attack machines in storage between elections.
Most suspicious election outcomes have suggested such insider interference, not tampering by voters at actual polling stations.
Last night Congressman Dennis Kucinich was one of two guests on the Election Integrity radio program, "Voice of the Voters," which airs weekly at 8PM Eastern on WNJC Radio 1360AM and streams live.
The subject was voting machines, the vendors, and the voters, and Kucinich raised the possibility that the recent studies done on such systems in California might be the basis of a lawsuit to throw out "that technology." He said felt that legal action, in this instance, may be a faster route than waiting on Congress to act.
He also discussed his concerns about the use of Direct Recording Electronic (DRE, usually touch-screen) voting machines in general, and expressed his feeling that they do not allow for confidence by the electorate. "There is a question of validity of an election. People have to know their vote counts and is counted," he told host Mary Ann Gould, "People cannot be guaranteed that with the present DRE system."
Here is the audio of Kucinich's the interview with Mary Ann Gould on yesterday's "Voice of the Voters" (about 20 mins):
(Hat tip to Alan Breslauer for preparing the audio.)
Blogged by Brad Friedman from the road in Oklahoma...
"By November 2008, every voter would be given a verifiable paper ballot," Congressman Rush Holt (D-NJ) lies to Steven Rosenfeld at AlterNet today concerning his flawed Election Reform Bill (HR811) which is still pending in Congress.
Despite the comments to Rosenfeld, Holt's legislation does not require a "paper ballot" --- no matter how many times he tries to put lipstick on that pig.
The state of California recently found the very voting systems Holt is pushing to see used across the entire nation to be easily hackable and not in compliance with federal requirements for disabilities voters. The state also found the "paper trail" that Holt's bill is to require for such systems, and which California already uses, cannot stop the tampering with votes found to be so easy on such systems.
California's unprecedented independent study and actions "just adds more weight, more urgency to the need to pass federal standards," Holt told Rosenfeld concerning Bowen's appropriate decision to restrict the use of the systems. "We can't go into another federal election with machines that do no allow voters to verify their votes," he said --- despite the fact that his legislation does exactly that.
While Holt continues his disappointing campaign to deceive voters, media, and Congress Members into believing that "paper trails" are actually paper ballots, America seems to be moving on without him for the time being. In addition to the new restrictions in California, the use of DREs was recently banned entirely in Florida and New Mexico, and other states are re-evaluating their use of such systems.
HR 811's most powerful proponent/advocacy-group inside the beltway, People for the American Way (PFAW), is on record as preferring non-verifiable DRE voting systems over real paper ballots. They'd both do well to reconsider their positions, and adopt the voters' desire for paper ballots --- ones which are actually counted --- and a full ban on DREs.
Mr. Holt: Your deceptive misuse of the words "paper ballots" is a dog which no longer hunts. Please stop it.
[DISCLOSURE: I was asked to work with Holt's office on the language in HR 811 prior to its introduction in the U.S. House. Though I strongly urged they ban the use of DRE systems, that particular recommendation was not taken. I was, however, told that if I could convince PFAW to accept such a ban, they'd adjust their legislation immediately. So far, that has yet to happen. PFAW can be reached at PFAW@PFAW.org.]
Blogged by Brad Friedman from somewhere in Oklahoma...
The shameful assault by California Elections Officials on the state's voters in the wake of CA Sos Debra Bowen's correct, yet courageous, decision to decertify and then limit the use of Diebold and other vendors' unreliable, hackable touch-screen (DRE) voting machines continues.
McCormack told the [Los Angeles] Board of Supervisors that Friday's decision by Secretary of State Debra Bowen requires all votes made on computer touch-screen systems to be hand-counted after the election to ensure accuracy.
Normally, only 1 percent of those votes are manually recounted.
"It's a shock that we'd have to hand-count at 100 percent," McCormack said.
McCormack said Bowen's order requires the county's vendors to pay the costs of that recount, which she estimated at $400,000 per election.
"I think we have to see what the vendors are going to say about that," McCormack said. "The vendors aren't going to make much money in Los Angeles County if they have to pay $400,000 for the recount."
But Supervisor Gloria Molina upbraided McCormack for her concerns about the vendors' profit margins.
"I think you are walking close to the edge," Molina said. "I don't understand why you are so protective of the vendors. You keep saying you are concerned about what this is going to cost them.
"It's really none of our business. It shouldn't be in our interest to protect the vendors' profits."
Why is McCormack "so protective of the vendors," as Molina asks? The answer may lie in determining whom McCormack is really working for.
She's supposed to be working for the voters, of course, not the vendors. But that's never stopped Conny, apparently. Here's Cover Girl Conny as she appears on the Diebold sales brochure to help them sell their voting systems...
McCormack has, of course, joined --- and even led --- the state's Elections Officials in their the outragous (and fallacious) attacks on Bowen, the state's chief Election Official.
In the meantime, McCormack hasn't bothered to attack either Diebold for lying to her and us about the security of their voting systems, or ES&S --- the vendor of her paper based voting system, used by most Los Angelinos --- for refusing to supply their op-scan source code, as per state law, for Bowen's "Top-to-Bottom Review." The ES&S InkaVote system has therefore been completely decertified for the moment.
The vendors lie and withhold information illegally, but Conny continues to fight for them and their profits. Not one word on behalf of the voters. What a disgraceful display.
Filed by Brad Friedman from Diebold Country (Plano, TX)...
There have been some first class examples of horrendous journalism in the wake of CA SoS Debra Bowen's historic attempts to begin righting the e-voting wrong late last Friday Night. (You can see a bunch of them for yourselves linked in John Gideon's 'Daily Voting News' yesterday.) In story after story, Election Officials --- most ubiquitously Steven Weir, Registrar of Contra Costa and President of the California Assoc. of Clerks and Elections Officials (CACEO), but many others as well --- and Voting Machine Spokesliars are directly quoted making one demonstrably false statement after another.
The majority of the journalists covering the beat don't seem to have a clue that they are being lied to, or how to counter it. A good start, however, would be to improve the ratio of Vendors/Elections Officials quoted to the number of Election Integrity advocates quoted. In many of the stories, there is barely a peep from the EI folks, who actually know what's going on (versus the Journalists who don't, and the Election Officials and Company Employees who are willing to lie to them). There is also a dearth of reporting on the opinions of actual voters and how they feel, since they are the ones who will be most notably affected by Bowen's long overdue changes to the Golden State's voting system.
Of all the stories we've reviewed since Friday, however, this Sunday piece from John Wildermuth in the San Francisco Chronicle easily takes the cake for the most atrocious reporting, perhaps ever.
In his incredibly unbalanced, anti-Bowen article --- featuring the biased, misworded, and unsupported headline "Touch vote machine ban hurts counties" --- Wildermuth offers an astounding bit of "reporting" on Bowen's new restrictions for Direct Recording Electronic (DRE) touch-screen voting devices made by Diebold and Sequoia. In order to marginally meet federal requirements for a single disabled accessible voting device in each polling place (even though Bowen found that these systems do not meet such requirements), she's ordered no more than one such DRE device be used per polling place in counties who wish to deploy them for disabled voters.
Hold onto your hats, because Wildermuth, incredibly, mis-reported the point this way (emphasis added)...