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Latest Featured Reports | Wednesday, November 25, 2015
'Green News Report' 11/24/15
  w/ Brad & Desi
Carbon tax coming to Alberta tar sands; Obama: Paris conf must proceed; Senate Repubs to monkeywrench int'l agreement; PLUS: FDA okays GMO salmon for humans...
Previous GNRs: 11/19/15 - 11/17/15 - Archives...
Sunday 'This Means War' Toons
PDiddie's must-see collection of the past shameful week's best -- and most dead-on and occassionally horrifying -- toons...
ISIS Wins in US House; Plus: TPP, NAFTA and the Return of KXL?: 'BradCast' 11/19/15
With guest David Dayen of Salon, Fiscal Times, The Intercept, et al...
'Green News Report' 11/19/15
  w/ Brad & Desi
House GOP's war against climate scientists; October 2015 was hottest on record; Fossil fuel subsidies at $500B/year; UK phases out coal; PLUS: Canada kills another tar sands pipeline...
Previous GNRs: 11/17/15 - 11/12/15 - Archives...
Home of the Brave:
'BradCast' 11/18/15
GOP Governors and Presidential candidates help ISIS dreams come true by turning against refugees from war-torn Syria, as some Americans follow their lead by turning against fellow citizens after the Paris attacks...
How NOT to Respond to the Paris Terror Attacks: 'BradCast' 11/17/15
Anti-war author David Swanson on how we got here, how the media and politicians continue to make it worse, and what we must do instead...
'Green News Report' 11/17/15
  w/ Brad & Desi
Climate gets short shrift in 2nd Dem Debate; Yes, climate change is a NatSec threat; Intn'l climate talks in Paris after attacks; PLUS: NY's Cuomo vetoes major NatGas project...
Previous GNRs: 11/12/15 - 11/10/15 - Archives...
A Word About Paris; Coverage of CBS' Dem Debate in Iowa: 'BradCast' 11/16/15
Salon's Heather Digby Parton and longtime GOPer Fred Karger on the debate the DNC didn't want you to watch...
Sunday Somewhat Horrible Toons
PDiddie's round-up of a number of smart toons in the wake of the horrific terror attacks in Paris...
'Very Similar, If Not Identical': DoJ's Big Tobacco Prosecutor on Case Against ExxonMobil: 'BradCast' 11/12/15
Attorney Sharon Eubanks on RICO, conspiracy and the big lies of Big Tobacco and Big Oil...
'Green News Report' 11/12/15
2016 Republican and Democratic Presidential candidates talk climate, energy, and the path forward in GOP Debate and Dem Forum...
Decoding and Debunking Fox Biz Channel's GOP Debate: 'BradCast' 11/11/15
Smartest post-debate analysis anywhere! With journalists Heather Digby Parton and David Dayen...
Impossible Results for OH Pot Measure?: 'BradCast' 11/10/15
Screenshots suggest disappearing 'Yes' votes; OH SoS offers us explanation. PLUS: Calls for KY hand-count...
'Green News Report' 11/10/15
Obama rejects KXL; Big Coal caught lying about climate change; ExxonMobil facing probe; PLUS: 2nd cyclone for Yemen & Sea World responds to critics...
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...
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...

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...

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...

The belated and begrudging coverage by Fox' Eric Shawn includes two different video reports featuring an interview with The BRAD BLOG's Brad Friedman...

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

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...

The GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal reveals insidious nationwide registration scheme to keep Obama supporters from even registering to vote...

Scandal spreads to 11 FL counties, other states; RNC, Romney try to contain damage, split from GOP operative...

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...

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...

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...

County Registrar Asks for Permission to Use Same Uncertified ES&S Touch-Screen Machines Again, Despite Cost and State's $15 Million Lawsuit Against Distributor...
By Brad Friedman on 11/24/2007 9:44pm PT  

Blogged by Brad from St. Louis, MO...

Things are really expensive in Marin County, California. For example, the cost to the county, so far, for each vote cast on their brand-new AutoMARK touch-screen voting machines has been $45,588.23.

Yes, that's more than $45,000 per vote for each of the 17 votes cast on the county's 130 machines over the last two countywide elections since they began using them.

And apparently, the county's elected Registrar of Voters, Michael Smith, really wants to continue using those machines, even though ES&S, the company which distributes them, is now being sued by the State of California for deploying uncertified AutoMARK machines in counties across the state, in violation of state law.

Nonetheless, Smith is asking CA Secretary of State Debra Bowen if he can continue using the uncertified machines in the upcoming Presidential Primary election next February, despite all of that, according to the Marin Independent Journal, who reports today:

Marin was one of five California counties that bought the machines. The county spent $775,000 to buy 130 machines. They were used by 17 voters in the two countywide elections during which they were used.

True, the cost per vote on the AutoMARK in Marin will theoretically come down with each successive election in which they are used (depending on what ES&S charges the county to program them each time, plus the excessive costs of warranties). In a decade or two, at this rate, if the same machines are still in use, each vote cast would come at a bargain basement price of just a few thousand dollars a piece.

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

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Voting Machine Company Allegedly Violated Law by Deploying Uncertified Touch-Screen Machines in Several CA Counties and Lying About It in Public Hearings...
By Brad Friedman on 11/19/2007 4:01pm PT  

Blogged by Brad (quickly) from the road...

California Sec. of State Debra Bowen has announced a $15 million lawsuit against voting machine company ES&S for their use of uncertified AutoMARK voting systems in the state.

The BRAD BLOG initially reported on the likelihood of such a suit, in some detail, after Bowen's initial announcement of ES&S's violations of state law last August.

“ES&S ignored the law over and over and over again, and it got caught,” said Bowen in a press release just issued this evening. “California law is very clear on this issue. I am not going to stand on the sidelines and watch a voting system vendor come into this state, ignore the laws, and make millions of dollars from California’s taxpayers in the process.”

According to the release, ES&S seems to have simply lied about their use of the uncertified voting systems in the state of California. "The Secretary of State’s office held a public hearing on the matter on October 15, 2007. At that hearing, ES&S asserted the Secretary of State was notified about changes to the AutoMARK. However, ES&S provided no evidence before, during, or after the hearing to substantiate its claim."

Such deceptive practices are not uncommon for ES&S, as well as the other major e-voting machine companies. Diebold's touch-screen voting systems were decertified in the state in 2004, after it had been found that they had similarly deployed uncertified hardware and sofware, in violation of state law, in a number of counties in the state.

The complete press release from CA Sec. of State Debra Bowen's office follows below...

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

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One Caused no Problems; the Other Impacted a High-Profile Local Election...
By Ellen Theisen on 11/16/2007 2:32pm PT  

Guest Blogged by Ellen Theisen of VotersUnite.Org


Individuals installing Trane air conditioning units observed smoking and smelled a burning odor in three units during installation testing procedures. No injuries were reported.

In cooperation with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, Trane voluntarily initiated a product safety recall of the offending 265 volt model and included the 208 and 230 volt models even though no incidents were observed with those models.


During the November 2006 general election in Tennessee, a defect in the voltage system caused a Hart InterCivic eSlate voting machine to start smoking. Approximately 2,625 citizens were injured when the voting machine refused to report their votes.

Hart InterCivic failed to retrieve the votes and took no action to protect consumers or voters. According to one report, a Knoxville computer company retrieved the votes from the chips inside the machine.

The votes were essential to deciding an extremely controversial, deadlocked pension question involving Knox County sheriff's officers.

The question eventually passed by 497 votes out of over 103,000 cast — less than ½% margin. The plan will cost tax payers $15 million initially and a projected $100 million over the next 20 years.

For the first time ever in Tennessee a county will borrow money (by selling bonds) to pay for a pension fund.


It's time to call for accountability in the machinery of our electoral system. Please sign the petition in support of VoterAction's call for Congressional investigations into blatant and destructive commercial fraud in the electronic voting machine industry.

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One Witness, a Computer Expert, Expresses Shock at How Easy It Is to Change Vote Totals
By Jon Ponder on 11/16/2007 8:30am PT  

Guest blogged by Jon Ponder, Pensito Review.

As anyone who has given electronic voting more than a cursory look knows, the "flexibility" of these computer systems is also their weakest and most dangerous link. This weakness was underscored in Houston earlier this week when Johnnie German, the Harris County administrator of elections --- with proper witnesses looking on, including representatives of the two major parties --- accessed the county's eSlate system and altered the tally of votes on a tax referendum from the Nov. 6 ballot, according to the Houston Chronicle:

German's late-night deed, said by officials to be a first-time event in the six years Harris County has used the eSlate voting system, has rekindled the debate about whether the newest electronic methods for counting votes should be trusted.

What German graphically demonstrated was that with the proper physical and informational access, one person can alter the results of an election in a county of 1.8 million registered voters.

One witness, John R. Berman, a computer expert representing the Democrats, was unpleasantly surprised at how easily the votes could be changed:

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

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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, 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"

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, 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:

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 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 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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