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Latest Featured Reports | Wednesday, July 30, 2014
'Green News Report' 7/29/14
  w/ Brad & Desi
Obama Admin approves sonic cannons for offshore oil exploration; Bizarre weather across U.S.; CO judge nixes fracking ban; PLUS: Neil Young wants your help in the rainforest...
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'Green News Report' 7/24/14
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What We Do Now
"It took one hour and 57 minutes for the execution to be completed, and Wood was gasping for more than an hour and a half of that time"..."Wood, 55, gasped more than 600 times before he died"...
'Green News Report' 7/22/14
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HBO's Last Week Tonight offered smarter (and certainly funnier) coverage than you're likely to see anywhere else...
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'Green News Report' 7/17/14
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Kochs Radical 'Libertarianism' Broke KA
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'Democracy's Gold Standard'
Hand-marked, hand-counted ballots...
Brad's Upcoming Appearances
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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
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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
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FINALLY: FOX ON GOP REG FRAUD SCANDAL
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CRIMINAL PROBE LAUNCHED INTO GOP VOTER REGISTRATION FRAUD SCANDAL IN FL
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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...

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RNC FIRES NATIONAL VOTER REGISTRATION FIRM FOR FRAUD
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The Secret Koch Brothers Tapes...


Take Action to Counter Their Unapologetically Deceptive, Anti-Democracy Efforts to Misinform Nancy Pelosi!
By Brad Friedman on 7/11/2007 10:49am PT  

Blogged by Brad Friedman from St. Louis...

UPDATE: The BRAD BLOG has heard from sources, though we've not been able to get confirmation from Congress, that HR 811 may come up for a vote on the floor as early as tomorrow (Thursday). Please read below and take action!

People for the American Way (PFAW) --- previously the "good guys" in many a fight for your democracy --- continues their dishonest and misleading campaign to support Rep. Rush Holt's dangerous Election Reform Bill (HR 811).

The bill, as written --- despite our having helped to draft it prior to its introduction --- currently fails on a number of levels. Most notably, in its institutionalization of the use of disenfranchising Direct Recording Electronic (DRE) touch-screen voting machines for all of America. Such machines use secret, unverifiable, invisible ballots to count your vote.

As The BRAD BLOG has shown many times previously, PFAW --- by their own multiple written and spoken admissions --- PFAW actually prefers the use of DRE touch-screen voting systems over paper based systems, and thus has become the number one supporter of the Holt bill. Worse, they are joining (perhaps even leading) Holt's office in misleading America about what the bill does and doesn't do.

As HR 811 comes towards the U.S. House floor for a vote, PFAW is ramping up their efforts by sending out emails to members requesting they call Nancy Pelosi's office at (202) 225-4965.

We suggest you do the same. But demand that Pelosi amend the bill to include a ban on DRE voting systems or otherwise vote against the bill.

Then send this item to everyone you know!

Among the dishonest information propagated by PFAW during their pro-Holt campaign: The claim that a DRE ban could not pass in a Democratic-controlled Congress, despite such a ban passing recently passing in the state of Florida with a Republican House and Senate. PFAW has made the claim repeatedly and convinced other Election Integrity organizations of its validity, but has refused to offer a single name of a single Congress member who now supports Holt's bill, but who would vote against it if it included a ban on dangerous DRE voting systems.

Among the knowingly dishonest, Frank Luntz-like deceptions that PFAW is now shamefully using in their continuing disinfo campaign (online version here, excerpts posted below from their email sent yesterday) contain the following misleading and/or incorrect claims about provisions in the Holt bill:

  • It would avoid the problem that occurred last November in Sarasota when 18,000 votes were lost on touch-screen DRE systems. It wouldn't. And they know that.
  • It would require that "ALL voting machines must produce a paper ballot." It doesn't. And they know that.
  • It would require that "ALL voting machine vendors MUST make the machines' software available for inspection." It does. But only for so-called "experts," only after a problem is discovered in an election, and only if those "experts" sign non-disclosure agreements. Despite PFAW's claim that the bill will allow for "No Secret Source Code," the bill will continue to allow for secret source code in every American election.

PFAW should be ashamed of themselves. You can email PFAW at PFAW@PFAW.org or call them with your complaints at: 202-467-4999 or 800-326-7329.

Excerpts from their deceptive email, sent yesterday, follow below...

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

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As a New Effort is Mounted by Election Integrity Advocates to Contact Congress Members Concerning the Drive to Ban DRE Touch-Screen Voting Systems Once and For All...
By Brad Friedman on 7/9/2007 10:22am PT  

Blogged by Brad Friedman from St. Louis...

Charging that Congressman Rush Holt's (D-NJ) Election Reform bill (HR 811) "does not address the concerns that Americans have, to do something about electronic voting," Ohio's Rep. Dennis Kucinich reiterated his withdrawal of support for the controversial legislation last Friday.

In an interview on the Peter B. Collins show, the Democratic presidential candidate confirmed earlier reports that he intended to drop his co-sponsorship of the bill in favor of requiring paper ballots for American elections. HR 811, as currently written, fails to ban dangerous electronic touch-screen (DRE) voting systems.

Last week, Election Integrity advocates announced a new effort to contact Congress members in order to learn their position on the Holt bill, and whether or not they would support such a ban. They are asking for help from the public in contacting all members of the U.S. House. (More details on the effort, and how you can help, below.)

"I'm hopeful that Congressman Holt will modify his bill before he pushes for passage of it," Kucinich told host Peter B. Collins during a short interview late Friday.

Here's the short audio of the exchange concerning the Holt Bill [less than 2 mins]:

Here's the transcript of the exchange:

PETER B. COLLINS: You have recently removed yourself as a co-sponsor of 811, am I correct?

KUCINICH: I have. Rush Holt's a fine person and I really enjoy serving with him. But I have to say, the bill does not address the concerns that Americans have, to do something about electronic voting, and to make sure that we protect ourselves from the kind of manipulation of an election that can occur with the insufficient controls on software and hardware in this era of electronic voting.

That's why I've advocated paper ballots in all federal elections. That's the paper trail. That's that old time religion in politics where at least you had a chance for a fair count. Every American deserves to know that his or her vote counts and is going to be counted.

And you may remember that in the last election, when it came to the Electoral College, I was one of the few members who challenged the election in the Electoral College and voted against certification of the election based on what happened in Ohio. As did, by the way, Senator [Barbara] Boxer [D-CA], she was one of the leaders on that.

PBC: Indeed, yes...

KUCINICH: And so, we have to stand up and be counted. I'm hopeful that Congressman Holt will modify his bill before he pushes for passage of it.

Kucinich had originally announced his intention to drop his co-sponsorship of the bill last month when asked about it by Election Integrity advocates during a phone appearance at DemocracyFest in New Hampshire. The Ohio Congressman's name is still listed as a co-sponsor, along with 215 others, on the Library of Congress website, but The BRAD BLOG has been told by a source familiar with the LOC's Thomas database that co-sponsorship lists on that site are no longer updated after bills have been introduced and then voted out of committee...

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

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Peter B. Collins Show Hosts Extremely Lively Discussion on Pros and Cons of Controversial House Bill's Allowance for Use of Dangerous DRE Touch-Screen Voting Systems
ALSO: CA SoS Debra Bowen Refuses to Support HR 811, Concerned About Putting 'Paper Trails Into Statute'...
By Brad Friedman on 7/2/2007 6:35am PT  

Blogged by Brad from Nashville after Escaping Atlanta...

"It's been a thriller," said the eponymous host of the Peter B. Collins Show as Friday's live radio debate wrapped up between myself and attorney Lawrence D. Norden, Chair of the NYU Brennan Center for Justice's Task Force on Voting System Security.

Norden made, in our spirited debate, what I believe to be some stunning admissions.

Complete "must listen" audio of the debate is available at the end of this article...

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

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Founder, Front Man, Thor Hearne, Crawls Out from Under His Rock to Provide a Few Laughs
Even as His Vote Suppression Efforts Continue to Haunt the DoJ, America's Electoral System...
By Brad Friedman on 7/1/2007 11:43pm PT  

Blogged by Brad from Nashville...

While it's tough keeping up from the road --- where we will be for a long while still --- we rest much easier knowing that Greg Gordon of McClatchy Newspapers continues to lift the rocks and scrape off the slime that's found under them in the name of the disgraced "non-partisan" GOP front group calling themselves the "American Center for Voting Rights" (ACVR) and their vote-suppressor in chief, the Bush/Cheney '04 General Counsel, Mark F. "Thor" Hearne.

Today, Gordon advances the ACVR story --- which we broke more than two years ago and have been drilling down into ever since --- with the latest in his string of doozies that he's been rolling out since jumping on the beat.

His latest must-read begins by detailing the ACVR Menace as it reached its tentacles into New Mexico and the case behind the political firing of U.S. Attorney David Iglesias.

He also details some fresh gut-busters from our friend Thor, whose turds just don't seem to have the same luster they once did, when previously offered to a far less dubious media...

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

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Confusion over Paper Ballots
By Bob Bancroft on 6/22/2007 4:03pm PT  

Guest blogged by Bob Bancroft

On today's Morning Edition , NPR’s Pam Fessler reports the growing frustration of election officials around the country. Those interviewed express a general consensus that fussing over the right to vote is simply not worth all the headaches. Elaine Ludwig, Chief Clerk of Lebanon County, PA, says she’s “had enough,” threatening that she and many others will quit if any election reform is passed into law.

That’s disturbing.

But there is a more basic problem in NPR’s reporting on the issue: a deep misunderstanding of what is being debated, and why.

Morning Edition host Renée Montagne introduces the segment (about “Toys and Voting Machines,” no kidding) by describing Rep. Rush Holt's H.R.811 as “legislation to require paper ballots for all voting equipment.” Oh, Renée, if only it were so simple! Sadly, that legislation, the bill that guarantees a paper ballot in every state, does not exist.

Rep. Holt told NPR, “States must provide, they owe it to the voters to provide, voting systems that are transparent and reliable and accessible and verifiable.”

Well said, sir. Yet the current incarnation of Rep. Holt’s bill falls short. In place of transparency, we are given mandatory non-disclosure agreements. In place of verifiable voting, we are given paper printouts.

Printouts, Renée, not ballots...

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

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New Yorkers win Round One in fight for source code protections
By Bo Lipari on 6/22/2007 2:54pm PT  

Guest Blogged by Bo Lipari of New Yorkers for Verified Voting

The following was posted to my Blog on June 22, 2007

I’m pleased to report that due to a huge outpouring of calls from citizens, and three intense days and nights working the Capitol halls by New Yorkers for Verified Voting and the League of Women Voters/NY, New York State's voting machine laws were not weakened or tampered with in any way. Neither the Microsoft amendment nor any other proposals being pushed by voting machine vendor lobbyists made it into any of the thousands of bills passed in this last crazy week of the session. The citizens of New York State stood up to these powerful private interests and won.

A rapid response by citizens to this threat to our essential protections resulted in over 3,000 calls to legislators in just over two days. This huge outpouring from the public averted the threat of a stealth amendment slipping into law unnoticed, as so often happens in this last hectic week in Albany. Every legislator I talked to over the last three days was impressed by the volume of calls and the passionate reaction, and promised they would watch the bills carefully for back door changes, adding their eyes to ours. They reaffirmed their commitment to keeping New York’s voting machine laws among the strongest in the nation, and in the end, they came through. The public’s response to this threat has kept our representatives vigilant and committed to keeping New York State’s voting machine laws among the strongest in the nation.

Keeping our strict laws intact was an essential win for us, but this is only Round One. The next battleground will be the New York State Board of Elections, where the four commissioners are discussing how to interpret the New York State law. And yes, you guessed it, one of the interpretations being promoted by some of these decision makers would allow the voting machine vendors to use Microsoft and other source code in voting technology that would not be subject to review in the event of election problems. Our next task will be to make sure the State Board of Elections understands what we’ve told the State Legislature, that the public’s will is expressed precisely in the letter of our election law – ALL source code must be handed over, not just some pieces of it. Our elections, and the technologies we use to conduct them, belong to us. And we the people aim to keep it that way.

But today, let’s celebrate. Congratulations friends, we did it!

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Hearing Clearly Reveals Continuing Lack of Interest in the Vote Caging Issue at DOJ
But McNulty Testimony Throws Little Light on DOJ Hirings and Firings
By Margie Burns on 6/21/2007 7:38pm PT  

Guest blogged from D.C. by Margie Burns

Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty returned to testify before Congress one more time today, but without shedding much new light on the much-criticized firings and hirings, alleged to be politically motivated, in the Department of Justice.

The Subcommittee on Commercial and Administrative Law of the House Judiciary Committee, in another attempt to extract some truth about the DOJ personnel matter, held a hearing with McNulty as the sole witness. Under polite, soft-spoken but excruciatingly poignant questioning by Committee Chair John Conyers (D-MI), McNulty did clarify one thing: indeed it does seem that his part of the DOJ has done very little about “caging.”

Caging, as Rep. Cannon (R-UT) helpfully pointed out, “is a term of art in mailhouses” – it refers to the place where letters go when they have no address, all batched up in a separate room.

As Conyers gently reminded the audience, “caging” in the context of elections “is not an issue of the mail at all.” Voter caging, in the context of elections, means blocking voters out – choosing whole lists of voters whose vote will be challenged, chosen by whom and the criteria for challenge enunciated by whom, under this administration, still not fully explained.

Actually, not explained at all. Though it wasn't for Conyers' lack of trying to get information from McNulty about it...

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

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The Pro-HR811 Crowd Unleash All Manner of Personal Attacks Against Those Who Dare Oppose Thier Beloved Legislation as Written...
By Brad Friedman on 6/18/2007 2:00pm PT  

We've alluded to it before, and even in this article we'll not adequately reveal the depths to which some in the Election Integrity community have plumbed, but the Pro-HR811 folks are in full-court PR press mode of late in order to see Rush Holt's Election Reform bill passed in the U.S. House. By hook or by crook.

Despite claims passed on by supporters that the bill would come up for a full House vote in the past week or two, no such vote came to pass, although one could be scheduled at any time now that the bill has left committee. Inquiries seeking information on an official date for such a floor vote, sent by The BRAD BLOG to Holt's once-responsive legislative aide working on the legislation, have not been answered.

We too would like to see some version of the bill passed. But as it currently stands there are too many enormous flaws in the bill to earn our support, as we've discussed on these pages in great detail. (Here's one recent example.) As we've described, one of our greatest concerns is the bill's institutionalization of Direct Recording Electronic (DRE) touch-screen voting machines for use in American democracy. Such systems, even with the so-called "Voter-Verified Paper Audit Trails" (VVPATs) mandated by the bill --- and perhaps especially with such a mandate --- are antithetical to democracy, as they allow no way for voters to ever verify their invisible electronic ballots as accurate before or after the votes are cast and counted. The VVPATs themselves, as mandated by Holt, are also another problem which may make elections easier to steal, rather than harder. But we'll go into more detail on that at a later date.

There are a host of other reasons why DREs should never be used. Most supporters of Holt's bill --- except for People for the American Way (PFAW), which actually prefers such machines to paper-based systems --- recognize that. Nonethless, they've allowed PFAW and Holt's office to snow them into believing that a DRE ban could not pass in a Democratic Congress, while apparently the Republican dominated House and Senate in Florida, of all places, were able to ban such machines once and for all. Go figure.

As we described recently, it seems that none of the folks who've bought into the "DRE ban can't pass Congress" line seem to have bothered to ask for any evidence of the premise before passing it on to others. Or if they have, they've yet to share the evidence with the public, so that we might lobby those Congress Members who currently support the Holt bill, but would vote against it if it included a ban on DREs, so that the public might either educate them or otherwise discover and expose their reasons for supporting such dangerous machines in our democracy.

Anyway, the propaganda campaign from the pro-Holters is in full swing right now both behind and in front of the scenes as they place editorials and work the back-channel email lists. In the process --- and with the at least passive approval of Holt's office --- they seem hell-bent on destroying the character of any and all who they perceive as being in their way. Yours truly is no exception, of course, as we've been ruthlessly savaged by many of the "loudest" folks who want to see Holt passed --- even if they need to make stuff up about it and/or otherwise mislead Americans and Congress Members about what the bill actually does and doesn't do.

By way of example, see the email posted in full below, as written by NCVoter.net's Joyce McCloy, an ardent pro-Holter and forwarded by another, Kathy Dopp of UtahCountVotes.org. It was posted and then circulated to several large Election Integrity email lists. We can't help but highlight one of the grafs which refers to us directly, if only for the irony --- sure to be lost on the authors --- of our highlighting the charge here in the first place...

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

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The Republican Who Most Likely Lost the Race, Held on Touch-Screen DRE Voting Systems, Continues to Serve in Congress as the Democrat Who Won Doesn't...
By Brad Friedman on 6/14/2007 6:08pm PT  

Sarasota's Herald-Tribune highlights why it's imperative to get election results right on Election Night...

Probe of District 13 race is slowing

Democrat Christine Jennings was pinning her hopes of winning the 13th District congressional seat on the Democratic majority in Congress.

But a month after essentially abandoning her legal challenge in a Florida court, Jennings is finding her gamble to rely on Congress could take far longer than her supporters had hoped.

The U.S. Government Accountability Office is set to tell Congress on Thursday that it needs until September just to determine what other audits, investigations, and court proceedings have already turned up. Then, the GAO would go before Congress again to determine how much additional time, if any, it needs to produce a formal report for Congress with its own research, said Nancy Kingsbury, a spokeswoman for the GAO.

That would hardly conclude the investigation. The report would need to be vetted by a task force and then voted on by a full committee in Congress before it could then go before the full U.S. House, which has final say over the dispute.

That would all have to happen in the eight weeks between Labor Day and the targeted adjournment on Oct. 27 for the rest of the year.

The Congressional challenge is due to problems with touch-screen DRE voting systems in the district which resulted in 18,000 lost votes, in a race certified as having been "won" by the Republican Vern Buchanan over the Democrat Christine Jennings by a 369 vote margin. Even the machine vendor (ES&S)'s own expert in court admitted that Jennings would have most likely won were it not for problems with their touch-screen DRE voting machines during the race.

A recent study of DRE voting systems found that two-thirds of voters didn't bother to check their review screens at the end of the voting process on such systems, and that even if they check them, they do not notice votes that have been flipped by the system. The study concludes that paper trail records, printed out after the review screen on DREs, would similarly not be noticed or checked for accuracy. Those findings confirm earlier results from an MIT/Caltech study which looked at similar issues.

The embarrassments caused by the District 13 race in Florida helped lead the Republican-controlled House and Senate in Florida to finally legislate a ban on DRE touch-screen voting machines altogether.

Supporters of Rush Holt's HR811 Election Reform bill in the U.S. House, however, have said that it's impossible to get a similar ban in the Democratically-controlled House and Senate, so they've refused to add such a ban to their sweeping bill. Those who have made the claim that a DRE ban could never win passage in the Democratically-controlled House and Senate have yet to offer any evidence for that claim, or even offer a single name of a supporter of the bill who would vote against it if it included such a ban.

The bill currently has 216 co-sponsors, although ComputerWorld today confirmed our report from earlier this week that Presidential Candidate Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) plans to withdraw his co-sponsorship of the bill.

The FL-13 election, meanwhile, was held back in November of 2006. The earliest timetable detailed in the Herald-Trib article, quoted above, would result in a decision on the matter by October of 2007. The Republican Vern Buchanan, who most likely lost the race by nearly everyone's (but his and Sean Hannity's) estimation, continues to vote with the GOP caucus in the House while the Democratic candidate, whom Sarasota voters had tried to send to the U.S. House, bides her time in Florida.

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If Voters Don't Notice Incorrect Votes on The Review Screen in Front of Their Face, Why Would They Notice it on a So-Called 'Paper Trail' Printed Afterward?
By John Gideon on 6/13/2007 9:35am PT  

Guest Blogged by John Gideon of VotersUnite.org

A new study supports the contentions of Election Integrity advocates who oppose Rush Holt's election reform bill on the basis that it allows for the use of Direct Recording Electronic (DRE) touch-screen voting systems. Supporters of the bill claim that the bills mandate to require so-called "Voter-Verified Paper Audit Trail" (VVPAT) printers on such DRE systems mitigate the concerns about the machines notorious inaccuracy and proven tamperability. The new study strongly indicates otherwise.

In her recently released doctoral thesis, “The Usability of Electronic Voting Machines and How Votes Can Be Changed Without Detection” [PDF], Rice University researcher and Doctoral candidate Sarah P. Everett reveals that review screens, presented to voters at the end of the voting process on DRE voting machines, fail to be effective.

Of 66 participants from the general Houston population, with a median age of 45 and an even distribution of educational levels only 32% of the voters noticed that malicious changes had been made to their review screens during mock election testing.

A further test was accomplished with 101 participants, with an even gender split (51 males, 50 females), a median age of 40, with most having either some college education or holding a degree. Of those, only 37% of the participants noticed that vote flipping had occurred on their review screens during mock election testing.

Also shocking is that of those 101 participants 6% walked away from the voting machine without pushing the button to cast their ballot. Instead, they just left the voting process at the final review screen. Thus, had this been a real election, a full 6% of the voters would not have had their ballots counted at all.

So when only about one-third of the voters actually review their ballot on the ballot review screen and notice problems why would anyone think that adding a "Voter-Verified Paper Audit Trail" printer to a DRE will solve any problem? Rather than adding useless and expensive printers; why not just get rid of these machines all together?

In fact, Ms. Everett states, when it comes the use of DRE voting systems [emphasis added]...

[A]s the situation currently stands, voters cannot be depended upon to check the validity of their vote. Many security experts and election reform groups are calling for VVPATs to be required on all DREs and as of the 2006 elections, nearly half of the states mandated that their DREs have paper trails (electionline.org, 2006). However, these studies show that solutions to DRE security problems that require voter verification of their ballots may not solve vote-flipping problems. Users are not even checking their ballots on the review screen that is presented directly in front of them.
...
The findings here suggest that it is highly unlikely that voters will detect changes to their ballots on the VVPAT that prints out on a roll of paper next to the machine if they are not even noticing them on a screen presented directly in front of them.

===

Take action to amend the Holt Election Reform Bill!
DEMAND A BAN ON DRE/TOUCH-SCREEN VOTING!
- Email Congress!
- Call you members!
See www.BradBlog.com/Holt for more details, coverage, talking points & information on all of the above!
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An Anaylsis by a Leading Election Integrity Advocate Charges That Where Rep. Rush Holt's House Bill on Election Reform Poses Dangers to Democracy, A New Bill Introduced in the Senate is Even Far Worse...
By Ellen Theisen on 6/12/2007 1:14pm PT  

Guest blogged by Ellen Theisen, Co-Director of VotersUnite.Org

Yesterday I discussed the dangers presented by Rush Holt's Election Reform bill, HR 811, now pending a floor vote in the House. I detailed seven points which, taken as a whole, lead me to believe that the bill does more harm than good.

Senator Dianne Feinstein’s bill S. 1487, “The Ballot Integrity Act of 2007,” was introduced on May 24, 2007. Some were expecting it to be a companion to, and improvement on, Holt’s bill, H.R. 811. Far from an improvement, S. 1487 introduces surprising — and disturbing — new provisions.

It includes many of the most troubling points of the Holt bill, but goes even farther in the wrong direction away from what is needed for Electoral Integrity in America, presenting instead a grave danger to our democracy.

The bill systematically dismantles government by the people, and it provides a legal excuse for expanding the disenfranchisement of “distinct communities” such as racial minorities.

(The following excerpt discusses only how S. 1487 functions like a Voting Rights Act in reverse. I've posted a more complete analysis of the bill at VotersUnite.org.)

Historically, racial minorities have been prevented from voting by violence, poll taxes, highly subjective literacy tests, police dogs, and so on. The Voting Rights Act of 1965 was landmark legislation to remove such obstacles and clear the path for all voters to have a voice in elections.

A shameful provision in S. 1487 functions as a Voting Rights Act in reverse. “They” (historically disenfranchised communities) would get to vote, but the bill allows for the future massive loss of “their” voices through machine malfunction or other means, while limiting the vote loss that would be acceptable in jurisdictions where “they” aren’t as predominant....

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By Brad Friedman on 6/11/2007 10:38pm PT  

In today's "Daily Voting News" John Gideon mentions the "banter back and forth between members of the Election Integrity community" over Rush Holt's controversial HR 811 Election Reform bill. "Banter" is a very nice way, for the very polite Mr. Gideon, to describe it. I'd call it just short of a shooting war.

In any case, while debate over such sweeping attempts at reforming our entire electoral system are essential, the continuing efforts by the pro-Holt folks to lobby in favor of their bill by offering deceptive and misleading information about it are certainly not useful to anyone. The bill itself is misleading by describing paper trails created by touch-screen voting machines as "paper ballots." The fact is, such trails aren't ballots. They are simply records (perhaps accurate, perhaps not, there is no way for any voter to know for certain) of the voters' votes. They are not actually used in the tally of results on Election Night, and almost never thereafter either.

BRAD BLOG readers are likely well familiar by now with various, and, worse, misleading claims about the bill from Holt's office staffers themselves and People for the American Way (PFAW) in particular, the biggest lobbyist/proponent for the bill. Much of that is covered in articles on our Holt Bill Special Coverage page.

The latest entrant into the mislead sweepstakes is Pam Smith, President of Verified Voting. John points to her editorial today in the DVN, which begins this way...

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Says Everything Other Than A Paper Ballot Is A 'Racket and Fraud' And 'Should Never Have Been Allowed to Happen'
By Alan Breslauer on 6/11/2007 5:28pm PT  

Guest Blogged by Alan Breslauer

The one George W. Bush supporter who spoke up against the debacle of Ohio's 2004 election in a March, 2005, Vanity Fair article titled, "Ohio's Odd Numbers," told The BRAD BLOG at a book signing last Tuesday in Santa Monica that E-votng is a "racket and fraud" which "should never have been allowed to happen." The outspoken controversialist told us that although he recently became an American citizen he has no plans to vote, believing that his vote would not count in any case "as long as there are machines."

Hitchens, who found the 2004 Ohio results "impossible to swallow," says during the short video-taped encounter that "there has to be a paper ballot." In his 2005 Vanity Fair piece detailing the many problems discovered during Ohio's presidential election, he contended that without reforms to the system Americans will continue to be "treated like serfs or extras when they present themselves to exercise their franchise."

The short video-taped encounter with Hitchens follows in full below...

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Announces Plans to 'Continue Oversight Hearings on Election Integrity' and Re-Introduce Legislation Calling for Hand-Counted Paper Ballots in Presidential Elections...
By Brad Friedman on 6/11/2007 5:04pm PT  

Democratic Presidential Candidate Rep. Dennis Kucinich announced plans to drop his support of Congressman Rush Holt (D-NJ)'s controversial election reform bill, HR 811, during a telephone appearance at a New Hampshire activist event over the weekend. The Ohio congressman and outspoken critic of the Iraq War also announced that he plans to re-introduce "The Paper Ballot Act," (HR 6200) a bill he filed in the last Congress, requiring the hand counting of paper ballots in Presidential elections.

Kucinich "announced he will advise Rep. Holt that the he will not be supporting HR 811, a voter reform bill rapidly losing support," according to a press release issued today by his New Hampshire campaign spokesman....

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A Leading Election Integrity Advocate Speaks Out Against 7 Serious Failures in the Latest Holt Election Reform Bill ...
By Ellen Theisen on 6/10/2007 9:22pm PT  

Guest blogged by Ellen Theisen, Co-Director of VotersUnite.Org

(This is the first of a two-part series. Tomorrow: An excerpt from the author's companion article, “Senator Feinstein’s Election Reform Bill: A Constitutional Heresy,” describing even graver concerns about S. 1487, a bill recently introduced in the Senate.)

In September of 2003, when I was working with VerifiedVoting, Greg Dinger, Keone Kealoha, and I coordinated the first national activist effort in the current grassroots election integrity movement. We had a calling campaign to get more co-sponsors for Representative Rush Holt’s (D-NJ) election reform bill, then called HR 2239. In two months, the number of co-sponsors more than doubled — from 29 to 61. After the disastrous November 2003 Fairfax, Virginia, election, we rejoiced when Republican Representative Tom Davis (R-VA) signed on and the bill became bipartisan. By the end of 2003, there were 94 co-sponsors.

But Rep. Bob Ney (R-OH) was chairman of the House Administration Committee, and the bill never even got a hearing. Nor did Holt’s subsequent version of the bill in the 109th Congress, HR 550. But this year’s bill in the 110th, HR 811, has been marked up in committee and is expected to soon come to the House floor for a vote. This should be a time for celebration for me, but it’s not.

After more than three years of supporting election reform bills introduced by Representative Rush Holt, I am saddened to see the many severe flaws in the version of HR 811 as it was passed out of committee last month. This year’s bill had serious flaws when it was introduced in January. Primarily, it failed to accommodate a nearly unanimous agreement among citizen activists and computer scientists who have watched election disasters over the past three years — the agreement that electronic voting machines (DREs) should not be used in U.S. elections. I worked with many people to try to get an amendment requiring a paper ballot, one that was actually to be counted, for every vote cast. To my mind, that one significant improvement would have been worth tolerating the other flaws.

But the bill that was passed out of committee still allows for invisible, unverifiable, electronic ballots on DRE touch-screens as the official ballot for the all-important initial count where electronic voting systems are used. Adding a "paper trail" to those machines makes no real difference. Voters still can’t verify the electrical charges that make up the ballots that are counted on Election Night by the DRE.

In addition to other flaws that remained in the bill as it came out of committee, some changes removed valuable safeguards from the bill, and other changes introduced new problems. (Both versions of the bill can be viewed by inputting "HR 811" at the government's legislation search engine, Thomas.gov. The complete text of the current version is here. )

In my opinion, HR 811 will cause more problems than it will solve.

My primary objection is the extreme shift in the concept of “democracy” that the bill institutes legally. Specifically, it gives a federal stamp of approval to “ballots” that will never be counted, and it endorses secret vote-counting.

Let me explain seven of the bill's severe failures....

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

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