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Latest Featured Reports | Tuesday, July 29, 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...
Previous GNRs: 7/24/14 - 7/22/14 - Archives...
'A Kind of Propaganda War'
After U.N. denial, NBC's David Gregory apologized for use of unverified Israeli video claiming to show rockets fired from U.N. refugee shelter in Gaza where at least 15 were killed by Israel last week...
Bi-Partisan House to Obama: Get Out of Iraq
Overwhelming, if largely symbolic vote in the U.S. House, directs the President to pull U.S. troops back out of Iraq. Directive seen as stinging rebuke to GOP war haws in Senate..
'Green News Report' 7/24/14
  w/ Brad & Desi
Breaking: Storm ravages VA campground; New rules for explosive oil trains; Big win against Big Oil in small Maine town; PLUS: U.S. and Rush Limbaugh lead world in denial...
Previous GNRs: 7/22/14 - 7/17/14 - Archives...
Israeli Attack on UN Shelter Kills At Least 15 in Gaza
The strategy of bombing children, but warning them first, will almost certainly result in years of peace and prosperity for the region...
The Good Fight Continues: KPFK 'BradCast'
Brad speaks with John Wellington Ennis, documentarian and activist, on his newest film and his decade-long fight for election integrity...
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
Record wildfires in Pacific NW; June 2014 was hottest globally on record; EPA blocks Pebble Mine; CA blocks water pollution; PLUS: To cut emmissions, cut the beef...
Aborted Statewide 'Recount' Reveals It's a Great Time to Steal an Election in California
In the closest election in state history, even a well-funded candidate couldn't afford to find out if he actually lost...
'I Never Realized Voter ID Fraud Had Not Been Proven'
A RW caller's admission to Brad on NC radio underscores unparalleled propaganda power of Fox 'News'...
John Oliver On America's Prison Problems...With Singing Muppets!
HBO's Last Week Tonight offered smarter (and certainly funnier) coverage than you're likely to see anywhere else...
No, JFK Didn't Steal 1960 From Nixon
Another Zombie Myth that just won't die gets knocked down again...for now...even as its persistence continues to fuel false Republican claims of 'voter fraud' even today...
CA Ballot Prop to Overturn 'Citizens United'
Measure calls for Amendment 'to make clear that rights protected by the U.S. Constitution are the rights of natural persons only'...
UK Deputy PM Condemns Israel's 'Deliberate Use of Disproportionate Response'
Nick Clegg calls attacks on Gaza 'collective punishment' that 'incubates next generation of extremists' and 'needs to come to an end'...
'Green News Report' 7/17/14
Australia's RW govt repeals landmark carbon tax; Obama action on global warming impacts; Record wildfire season in West; PLUS: CA gets tough on water wasters...
Kochs Radical 'Libertarianism' Broke KA
More than 100 top GOPers endorse Republican Gov. Brownback's Dem opponent after tax cuts for wealthy have busted the extremist Koch Brothers' home state...
NATIONWIDE STUDY FINDS ALMOST NO VOTER FRAUD
Just 10 cases of in-person impersonation in all 50 states since 2000...
VIDEO: 'Rise of the Tea Bags'
Brad interviews American patriots...
'Democracy's Gold Standard'
Hand-marked, hand-counted ballots...
Brad's Upcoming Appearances
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Media Appearance Archives...
'Special Coverage' Archives
GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal 2012...
VA GOP VOTER REG FRAUDSTER OFF HOOK
Felony charges dropped against VA Republican caught trashing voter registrations before last year's election. Did GOP AG, Prosecutor conflicts of interest play role?...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Governor's Open Letter: 'One person, one vote is in jeopardy if we do not act boldly and immediately'
But How Long Will the Bill Take To Come Into Effect?
By John Gideon on 3/1/2006 6:40pm PT  

Guest Blogged by John Gideon

"American citizens once took for granted that every vote mattered, but no longer. It is time that we, the elected state officials, work to restore American's confidence in our electoral systems and undertake reform that moves to eliminate skepticism and uncertainty." --- NM Governor Bill Richardson's 3/1/06 Letter "To the State Officials of the 50 United States of America" (Posted in full below)

Today Governor Bill Richardson of New Mexico made a powerful statement to officials in all states (see full letter below) as he announced that tomorrow he would be signing legislation that would require the state of New Mexico to go to a paper ballot based voting system. No longer will the state use Sequoia DRE (touch-screen) voting machines...the machines that reported large numbers of undervotes in previous elections...The same machines that disenfranchised minority voters...The technology Richardson describes as "simply fail[ing] to pass the test of reliability" in his open letter published today.

The Governor has also announced that the bill's signing ceremony will be webcast. The announcement says:

We hope you will join the Governor, concerned citizens and legislators as the Governor's signature moves New Mexico forward by ensuring that our democracy continues to flourish. The live webcast will begin Thursday at 11:00am MST (1:00pm Eastern) and can be viewed at:

www.billrichardson2006.com/reform/paperballots

Please watch the webcast, take a moment to look at the Governor's proposals, and sign the petition to get your state, and the rest of America, to make every vote count

This all sounds wonderful, except???opponents of the legislation managed to get the legislation amended so that voting systems "owned or used" as of 1 May 2006 that do not use paper ballots can continue to be used until, among other things, debt on purchases of those machines are paid by the state. Then, the bill that appropriated funds to pay off the debt died in committee. Now the state needs to find the money to pay off the debt.

UPDATE 3/3/06: Signing ceremony video and petition calling on all states to join NM now here.

The complete letter from Gov. Richardson of New Mexico follows...

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

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Pima County Election Director Brad Nelson Launches Outburst Towards Election Reform Advocate in Response to Question About New Touch-Screen Voting Machines
Letter Calls for Censure of Official as Onlookers Stunned by Encounter, Feared Violence Would Break Out...
By Brad Friedman on 2/27/2006 10:57am PT  

The battle between Election Officials and Election Integrity Advocates has been simmering and intensifying for some time. Last week, in Arizona, one such confrontation boiled over briefly into an outburst at a public meeting which was documented on video tape. In what could be a preview for the Electoral Integrity fight still to come, Pima County, Arizona's Election Director Brad Nelson went into a short tirade last Tuesday as the video camera rolled during a local Democratic precinct council meeting in the state's 26th Legislative District.

The BRAD BLOG has obtained the exclusive video of the event which reveals the Republican Nelson flying off the handle and shouting as he confronts Election Integrity Advocate, John Brakey, "nose to nose" during a question about Diebold's DRE (touch-screen) voting machines. Before Brakey was able to get to his main question concerning Nelson's plans for Logic and Accuracy testing on the machines, he was interupted by Nelson's outburst over whether or not he had, in fact, signed a contract for use of the new voting machines in the county.

Diebold's hackable touch-screen machines have been recently approved for first-time use in the state by Arizona's Secretary of State Jan Brewer.

Ironically enough --- especially in light of this new video --- Brewer herself recently referred to election integrity advocates as "anarchists" in an interview with the Arizona Star after demonstrators concerned about Diebold interrupted her re-election campaign announcement just after the first of this year.

While Nelson's confrontational rant was just short of anarchic, it certainly sent a shockwave of concern throughout the room of stunned onlookers.

One of the witnesses present, Rev. Gerry Straatemeier, described the "intimidating behavior" displayed in the incident as "completely out of line for a public official". Straatemeier was so troubled by the display that she sent an open letter to the Pima County Board of Supervisors calling for Nelson to be censured for the behavior. In the letter (posted in full at the end of this item, along with a text transcript of the event) Straatemeier says, "I really thought he was going to land a blow on Mr. Brakey and I was scared to death."

In the video, Nelson charges towards the camera at one point --- which Brakey was standing near --- coming so close that it's impossible to see anything but his chest in full camera's full frame.

Straatemeier, in her letter, suggests the tirade was an attempt to intimidate Brakey --- and other election integrity advocates --- from further inquiry into the controversial Diebold touch-screen voting equipment now coming into Arizona despite a Dept. of Homeland Security warning that their tabulator software is hackable, a non-partisan GAO report confirming the failures and loss of ballots via electronic voting, and a recent independent analysis [PDF] commissioned by the Sec. of State of California which warns about the hackable "interpreted code" used in Diebold voting machines despite a ban on such code by the federal Help America Vote Act (HAVA) guidelines.

As we reported in May of last year, Brakey has for some time been closely investigating a number of troubling anomalies in recent Arizona elections. His intensive work auditing his own precinct in Pima County, where he says evidence suggest fraud occurred in the 2004 election, was covered in detail last year by The Tuscon Weekly. That work has brought him in contact many times in the past with Nelson --- without incident apparently, until last week.

Last Tuesday, as the following video shows, the simmering frustration and growing anger roiling up between many Election Officials and Election Reformers, has finally begun to make its way to the surface and into the public eye...


Additional versions of the video...
-- Video in Streaming Flash format...
-- Video in Windows Media format...

===
UPDATE 3/17/06: Tuscon's local NBC affiliate runs a report including this video, Nelson says he is sorry for the outburts. Full report here...
===

A complete text transcript of the incident, and a copy of Straatemeier's open letter to the Pima County Board of Supervisors calling for censure of Nelson follows...

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

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Lots of Electoral Stuff in One Neat Package...
By Brad Friedman on 2/22/2006 10:00pm PT  

Notable news around the nation in regard to Electronic Voting, Election Reform and Voting in general is coming now at a more and more frenetic pace. We've got much more we're personally working on, but today there were a few other small-ish, yet notable-ish stories worth mentioning. Here they are --- wrapped into one single, user-friendly, BRAD BLOG item...

1) California May Want to Get Ready for Diebold Related Lawsuits
Voter Action --- the group who has successfully received a Temporary Restraining Order against the purchase of Sequoia voting machines in New Mexico while they enjoy unprecedented "discovery" on such machines --- has turned their eye towards Diebold in California, given the latest developments/shenanigans concerning SoS Bruce McPherson's re-certification in apparent violation of state laws and regulalations. The Voter Action press release issued today indicates that litigation in California, similar to that in New Mexico, might be very appropriate. Stay tuned.

2) Greens/Libertarians Demand Reinstatement of Federal Ohio '04 Recount Suit
Yes, they're still fighting for your vote to be counted. A Federal judge recently dismissed their lawsuit charging that the 2004 Ohio Presidential Recount was gamed. The reason for the dismissal: The point was now moot, since the 2004 recount procedures would not be used again. But, according to 2004 Green Party Presidential Candidate David Cobb, what the judge didn't know when he dismissed the case, was that Ohio's SOB SoS, J. Kenneth Blackwell, recently announced that recount procedures would be the same in the future. Game back on, says Cobb in his motion to re-instate the case.

3) Diebold Whistleblower Charged With Three Felony Counts
The LA Times reports today (link above) that Stephen Heller, the man who released internal memos from Diebold's California law firm in 2002 showing they were aware of a number of election law violations pled "not guilty" to the charges. Says his attorney, "Certainly, someone who saw those documents could have reasonably believed that thousands of voters were going to be potentially disenfranchised in upcoming elections." Diebold fought to keep the docs from being published. They lost. Eventually it all led to a multi-million dollar settlement with California and BlackBoxVoting.org, who has more on this...

4) TV News Waking Up to Election Reform Issues!
WGAL in Philadelphia covers the Electoral mess hitting their state. The second of their two-part report takes a look into the unsavory legal backgrounds of virtually ALL of the American Voting Machine companies. From ES&S to Sequoia to Danaher to Diebold, etc. Here's to more local news outlets jumping into the game where the national media is failing!

5) George W. Bush Acts Like He Gives a Damn About the Voting Rights Act
A few years ago, he didn't know what it was. Now, with it coming up for renewal in 2007, after his Dept. of Justice has all but gutted it, Bush has the temerity to call for its renewal as if he cares about it. Says Bush in this short video today (thanks David Edwards!): The VRA is a "milestone in the history of civil Rights. Congress must act to renew the Voting Rights Act of 1965." Like he could give a shit.

6) Parallel Universe: Election Reform as Covered by Fox "News"
A preview of how the MSM (led as usual by Fox) will likely cover Election Reform as soon as they notice the massive crisis. Which is to say, they'll report on everything that doesn't matter, but that which Fox and the GOP tells them is important. In their article, Fox, of course, puts the emphasis on States that haven't implemented HAVA fast enough, Photo ID requirement laws, the non-existent problem of "Voter Fraud" (yes, all the Baker/Carter Commission cretins, including our friend, the unrepentant Robert Pastor make unsurprisingly Fox-friendly cameos) and finally, at the end --- the very end --- a brief nod to a few concerns about Electronic Voting. The biggest concern there? "Inexperienced poll workers" having problems with the "new technology." Hey, it's the "#1 Name in News" for a reason, baby!

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FEATURING: An EXCLUSIVE Video Tape Interview with CA's Clueless SoS Stating 'We'll Wait to Hear from the Feds About Diebold Before Certifying' (apparently, he was just kidding)
ALSO: Action Items for Americans Who Care About Democracy --- Five Phone Calls is All We Ask Right Now to Force E-Voting Vendors to Answer Questions Under Oath!
By Brad Friedman on 2/21/2006 2:18pm PT  

Inveterate Huff Po contributor, R.J. Eskow picks up on our coverage of the latest mind-blowing Dieboldery by California Sec. of State Bruce McPherson and what it may bode for the Golden State as the GOP sets their sights on political manifest destiny.

Connecting a few dots, and noting big Bush Adminstration gunslingers, like Steve Schmidt, who are roving their way westward to help shore up the Governator's re-elect prospects out here, Eskow concludes:

So what does this all mean? It suggests that California, with its treasure trove of congressional seats and 2008 electoral votes, is the next battleground. Yes, Gov. Schwarzenegger is wildly unpopular now. But, as the GOP proved in the 2004 Presidential race, unpopularity need not be a barrier to re-election - especially when Diebold machines are counting the votes.

All the 'heavy hitters' are coming into town, their shiny cars pulling up to the curb. You've seen the movie. You know what happens next. If you live in California, my friend and blog-comrade skippy has a suggestion for how you can help.

Note: Eskow's appropriate concerns about McPherson's inexplicable Diebold double-cross don't even mention the Dept. of Homeland Security's warning about their hackable tabulator software, the recently flipped-without-a-trace-left-behind mock election in Leon County, FL, the GAO Report confirming the dangers of electronic voting, and his link to a page describing the failure rate of Diebold machines in a massive election test last summer pins the percentage of failed Diebold touch-screen machines at just 10% (a later report confirmed the number was more like 20%, and a later one still pegged it at 30%.)

It also still remains unexplained why McPherson didn't wait to hear back from the federal "Independent Testing Authority" (ITA) --- which isn't actually independent, as it's created and funded by the Voting Machine Companies themselves --- to whom McPherson had sent back the Diebold memory cards after the Leon County hack test revealed their machines employed hackable "interpreted code" which is expressly banned by the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) guidelines for software used in electronic voting machines.

Back in December, McPherson's office sent a letter to Diebold explaining that they would not re-certify Diebold in California until the ITA completed their re-examination of the code in light of the hack test discovery:

We require this additional review before proceeding with further consideration of your application for certification in California. Once we have received a report from the federal ITA adequately analyzing this source code, in addition to the technical and operational specifications relating to the memory card and interpreter, we will expeditiously proceed with our comprehensive review of your application.

Apparently, the SoS's office was just kidding.

They went ahead and re-certified Diebold out here last week without waiting to hear back. They announced their decision late on Friday, at the start of the long holiday weekend and in apparent defiance of state election law and McPherson's own "10 Strict Standards" [PDF] which include "State certification testing does not begin until the federal qualification testing is successfully completed."

Apparently, he was just kidding about that as well.

With all of that in mind, readers of this blog would be remiss if they failed to take the actions described in Eskow's link to Skippy. Five phone-calls and/or emails this week are all that may be needed to finally see representatives from these unpatriotic Voting Machine firms subpeonaed and forced to answer questions --- under oath --- in a public hearing before elected officials concerning their secret software, shitty machines and under-the-table efforts to work around state and federal election laws. Hit that link, and call the five members of the California legislature's Rules Committee now!

By the way, McPherson himself also refused to show up at that hearing and refused to send a representative from his office to boot.

It should also be noted that Diebold is not the only bad player here. Add ES&S, Hart-Intercivic, Sequoia and several others to the list of cowardly unAmerican firms who recently refused the invitation to show up to testify before the California State Senate's Election Committee last week. All of those companies, apparently, believe it's none of our damned business how they count the votes (or not) in our American democracy.

Take action.

For full disclosure, we should also mention that we had the privilege of meeting both R.J. and Skippy in person over the weekend in an L.A. Blogger's get together out here. Good folks all of them, and we're delighted to see them jump into this most important game of all.

And finally --- since we've been looking for a good excuse to post this video --- we'll take this opportunity to give you an exclusive peek inside the "brain" of the man whose perplexing decision to re-certify voting machines and software known to be flawed and hackable may well effect similar decisions by Elections Officials around the entire country.

The following short Q&A with CA's SoS was video-taped by Dave Berman of GuvWurld about two weeks prior to the recent about face by McPherson. It's somewhat revealing --- particularly in the last couple of minutes where Dave gets to ask the questions --- as to the mindset and intellectual capabilities of the man currently appointed by Arnold to oversee free and fair elections in the country's largest "voting market" (as Diebold refers to it).

At one point in the questioning, when asked about the re-examination of Diebold software by the ITA, McPherson says, "If they're going to be certified, they're going to have to meet those levels of satisfactions to me...We, uh, we've, uh, just said that, uh, you have to meet these strict requirements and if they do, we'll consider it."

Apparently, McPherson was just kidding there as well....Since he recertified them without, apparently, waiting to hear back from the ITA.

Without further ado then, we give you the man, the myth, the elusive and rarely seen genius that is California Sec. of State Bruce McPherson --- as videotaped exclusively about two weeks ago in Humboldt County, just prior to his re-certification of Diebold voting machines in this state.


-- Video in Streaming Flash format...
-- Video in Windows Media format...

UPDATE: CA State Senator Debra Bowen (chair of the Senate Elections Committee) issues her own call to action to force McPherson to review his outrageous decision. Her reasons are summarized thusly:

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

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State Senator Outraged, Says Machines, Certification Violates State, Federal Standards and Law...
SoS' Own Report Agrees! McPherson Waits Until 5pm Friday of Holiday Weekend to Announce! [UPDATED WITH MUCH MORE INFO...]
By John Gideon on 2/17/2006 6:29pm PT  

Guest Blogged by John Gideon (with some additional updates/info from Brad)

Updated with much more information...

Secretary of State McPherson seems to have a thing for making major announcements late on Fridays just before holidays. Following in what seems to be a pattern of his, he announced late this afternoon that he was certifying Diebold Optical Scan and AccuVote TSx (touch-screens) for use in elections in the state.

The re-certification (they had been originally decertified in California in 2004 when it was revealed Diebold had installed illegal software updates on the machines) is conditional on some items but not on the one thing point he had announced last December when he sent the system back to federal authorities for further testing. At that time he said he was sending the machine's memory cards to the federal Independent Testing Authority (ITA) Lab for reinspection in light of the news out of Leon County, Florida that the cards used "intepreted code" which is specifically banned by the Help America Vote Act (HAVA). A "hack test" in that county revealed that an entirely election could have its results flipped by a hacker exploiting that "interpreted code" --- without a trace being left behind.

McPherson made his announcement today without waiting to hear back from the ITA lab.

Last summer, after a massive mock election test with Diebold touch-screen machines revealed that 10% of them failed entirely with screens freezing and printers jamming --- later reports would reveal that as many as 30% of the machines actually failed! --- McPherson said, "We certainly can't take any kind of risk like that with this kind of device on California voters."

Apparently the Secretary of State of America's largest "voting market," as Diebold refers to it, was just kidding about that.

State Senator Debra Bowen, (D-Redondo Beach), the chairwoman of the Senate Elections, Reapportionment, & Constitutional Amendments Committee issued the following Press Release after learning of McPherson's remarkable decision.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Evan Goldberg (###) ###-4028/(###) ###-9176

February 17, 2006

BOWEN ON SECRETARY OF STATE'S DECISION TO RE-CERTIFY DIEBOLD MACHINES FOR USE IN CALIFORNIA

SACRAMENTO ? "How the Secretary can re-certify the Diebold machines when they don't comply with California law, they violate the standards set by the Election Assistance Commission (EAC) that the Secretary said he intended to follow, and he still doesn't have the report back from the ITAs that he said he was waiting for is beyond me."

That's how Senator Debra Bowen (D-Redondo Beach), the chairwoman of the Senate Elections, Reapportionment, & Constitutional Amendments Committee, reacted to today's decision by the Secretary of State to re-certify Diebold's electronic voting machines for the 2006 elections.

"Last December, the Secretary announced with great fanfare that he was sending the Diebold machines back for review by the Independent Testing Authorities (ITAs) because the memory cards those machines rely on hadn't been reviewed," continued Bowen. "Now, contrary to what he said two months ago, he's approving the Diebold machines without waiting for the report from the ITAs. Instead, he's basing his decision on a supposedly 'independent state audit' that no one has seen before today. There's a March 1 public hearing for four other voting machine vendors before their machines can be certified for use in California, so what was the rush to certify Diebold and side-step a public hearing on this issue?"

Seventeen California counties rely on the Diebold optical scan machines and a number of other counties have bought or are planning to buy the Diebold TSx touch-screen machines to use in the 2006 elections in order to comply with the federal Help America Vote Act (HAVA). The Secretary's decision is only good for the 2006 elections and comes with a number of conditions.

"In August, the Secretary said any machine approved in California would have to comply with all federal standards and regulations, yet the EAC bans machines that contain interpreted code and these Diebold machines rely on that type of code to operate, so he's gone back on that commitment," continued Bowen. "In December, he said he'd wait for a report from the ITAs before acting on the Diebold re-certification request, yet now he's re-certified the Diebold machines without hearing from the ITAs. He says he's acting based on the recommendations of an 'independent state audit' that came out on Tuesday, but the California State Auditor hasn't issued any reports on this issue and hasn't been asked to do a report. Asking a board appointed by the Secretary to make recommendations doesn't constitute an 'independent state audit' in my book.

"The other thing that no one has mentioned is the fact that the Diebold machines don't comply with the state's paper trail law because they don't provide blind or visually impaired voters with a 'read-back' of what the paper trail recorded, they only read back what the machine recorded electronically," noted Bowen. "That's not what the law requires, yet the Secretary has decided to go ahead and approve these machines for use anyway. If the Secretary wants to say he's changing his mind and lowering the safeguards California voters are entitled to have to ensure their votes are accurately counted, that's certainly his decision to make, but saying these Diebold machines comply with state law and with all federal regulations and requirements simply isn't accurate."

Under Elections Code Sections 19250 and 19251, all direct recording electronic (DRE) voting systems have to come with an accessible voter verified paper audit trail (AVVPAT). The AVVPAT must be "provided or conveyed to voters via both a visual and a nonvisual method, such as through an audio component." The Diebold TSx doesn't contain that feature, therefore making the AVVPAT that all DREs are required to have as of January 1, 2006, useless for blind or visually-impaired voters.

###

VOTING SYSTEMS HEARINGS, MARCH 1:
Also of note is the announcement of public hearings (as mentioned in Bowen's release) persuant to the certification of various voting systems, many of which are still not federally qualified. This announcement is not accompanied by any of the test reports necessary for citizens to go to this hearing with any knowledge of what the state found in their testing. Perhaps this is because none of these systems have been tested by the state yet?

...DEVELOPING...MUCH MORE BELOW...UPDATES, ACTION ITEMS, ADDITIONAL INFO...

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

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Dan Eggen Continues His Series of Reports on Adminstration Political Appointees Overruling the Opinions of Career Voting Rights Attorneys...
By Brad Friedman on 1/23/2006 1:01am PT  

Last month, we reported how the George W. Bush administration has effectively gutted the beloved, 40-year old Voting Rights Act. He has done so by allowing political appointees in the Department of Justice to override the recommendations of career attorneys in the Voting Rights division who had recommended against the Georgia Photo ID Requirement Law and Tom Delay's Texas Congressional Redistricting Scheme.

In both cases, the career attorneys at DoJ had written lengthy memos opposing the new laws --- 4 out of 5 of them in the GA case, 8 out of 8 in the TX case --- only to be overruled by Bush's political cronies. Dan Eggen of The Washington Post broke both of those stories, with some exemplary reporting, after obtaining the leaked memos.

Later, the DoJ mandated that no such written opinions would be allowed in the future.

Eggen, on Page A1 of Monday's WaPo, now has more on the fallout and allegations of politics being played with the VRA within DoJ, as Bush continues to dismantle as many American Values as he can before leaving office...Here's some highlights (or lowlights, as the case may be)...

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

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SoS Decides It Will Be Better To Wait For The Court To Make A Decision
By John Gideon on 1/6/2006 2:51pm PT  

Guest Blogged by John Gideon of VotersUnite.org and VoteTrustUSA.Org

According to a January 3 article on VoteTrustUSA, Secretary of State Rebecca Vigil-Giron delayed the purchase of 800 Sequoia Edge touch screen voting machines that some New Mexico counties had chosen to meet federal accessibility requirements.

On January 5 Voter Action amplified and corrected the statements of the Secretary. In their press release, Voter Action said:

"The Secretary of State has said the reason to buy the Sequoia AVC Edge touchscreen voting machines is to make voting easier for disabled voters, as required by the federal Help America Vote Act (HAVA). In fact, the Edge machines fail to accommodate the disabled or meet HAVA requirements, as shown in a powerful and detailed expert affidavit filed by the plaintiffs. In addition, the machines lack printers to produce voter verifiable and auditable paper ballots, as required by the New Mexico Election Code, and do not accurately record and count votes, as required by the New Mexico Constitution. To the contrary, the Sequoia Edge voting system has a record of losing thousands of votes, switching votes, and failing to record votes cast in Spanish."

NOTE: There is presently NO Sequoia voting system that meets the presently in force voting systems standards. The best that Sequoia can do is to meet standards that are 15 years old. Today this reporter called the Election Assistance Commission and I was told that Sequoia has nothing close to federal qualification at this time. This means that counties who have purchased their voting machines on the promise of being compliant by January 1, 2006 cannot meet the Help America Vote Act of 2002 accessibility mandates.

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By John Gideon on 12/23/2005 8:53pm PT  

Guest Blogged by John Gideon of VotersUnite.org

I want to take this opportunity to wish all of the readers of "Daily Voting News" a wonderful holiday season. As long as there is voting news over this weekend DVN will continue to publish it. It is with a mixture of sadness and immense pride in my associate of over two years that I post this announcement regarding VotersUnite: "December 23, 2005. After two years of providing the public with accurate information about voting systems and related issues, Ellen Theisen is now working toward election transparency in a different way - by offering the Vote-PAD as an accessible alternative to computerized voting devices. To avoid any potential conflict of interest, Ellen is terminating her association with VotersUnite.Org, effective immediately." In today's news the AP has announced that the SoS of CA has warned ES&S about problems with their voting machines and has threatened that proceedings to decertify will begin if the problems are not solved....

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

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Citizen Activists, Increasing Concerns about Diebold Security, Company Integrity Said to Have Been Key to Decision!
ALSO: FOIA Requests Filed About Closed-Door Hearings, Concerns Emerge About ES&S, the Company Chosen Instead of Diebold, and a Diebold Lobbyist Reportedly Inquires About BRAD BLOG...And FAMILY!!!
By Brad Friedman on 12/22/2005 3:23pm PT  

Add St. Louis County, Missouri to the growing list of Elections Boards around the country who have now rejected Diebold, Inc. voting machines in the last-minute scramble to select new election hardware, prior to the Jan. 1, 2006 Help America Vote Act deadline to have such "upgrades" paid for with Federal tax dollars.

The bad news for the once-great, now-disgraced Diebold, Inc. (stock symbol: DBD) of North Canton, Ohio, comes as the latest blow in a long string of disappointments for the company, which last week saw the resignation of its CEO, the filing of several Class Action Securities Fraud lawsuits, and the devasting revelation that their voting machines can be easily hacked, allowing the results of Diebold elections to be completely reversed.

The loss of the contract in St. Louis County, who chose to go instead with Election Systems and Software, Inc. (ES&S), is estimated by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch to be at least $9.6 million.

The last minute decision came amid intense lobbying by both citizens' election integrity advocacy groups and paid Diebold lobbyists --- at least one of whom was reported to have inquired about both The BRAD BLOG itself and the financial background of the father of yours truly!

There are also growing concerns about the security of voting equipment sold by ES&S, as well, in light of various states and counties around the country selecting them, instead of Diebold, as the contractor to privatize their public elections.

The County's decision to go with ES&S, instead of Diebold, comes just days after the City of St. Louis (distinct from the county) decided unanimously to go with Diebold. The City's decision occurred even after Diebold's machines were exposed as completely insecure in a so-called "hack test" in Leon County, Florida that resulted in the tally of a test election being completely reversed. A few days later Volusia County, Florida decided against Diebold, and shortly thereafter the State of California "punted" the issue, for now, back to the Feds, stating there were "unresolved significant security concerns" with Diebold's voting machines. The California decision, though not yet definitive, is undoubtedly one of the biggest blows for Diebold, since it is regarded by the company as America's largest "voting market."

The City of St. Louis may come to regret their decision as much as they eventually came to regret allowing the County to split off from it, back in the days when the County was sparsely populated and seen as draining tax dollars from the City. Today, St. Louis County's population is over 1 million, while the City continues to stagnate at a population of just over 300 thousand.

According to reports from both grassroots organization Missourians for Honest Elections and Jo Mannies of The Post, information and concerns about about the latest failures of Diebold voting machines, brought to the County's Board of Election by citizens, was crucial to the BoE's decision. As reported by Mannies in a story on The Post website last night:

Board member Anita Yeckel acknowledged that the controversy surrounding one of the contenders, Diebold Election Systems, was a factor in her decision.

"There was a lot of publicity about Diebold that hadn't been resolved," she said.

In the version of the story which ran in today's paper, the following addition to the above was found:

She added that she personally thought Ohio-based Diebold was "a terrific company."

There was no explanation for that added quote and we have been unable to reach Mannies for comment today.

According to Virginia Harris, a volunteer with Missourians for Honest Elections, St. Louis county resident Harvey Friedman (father of this blogger) was instrumental, along with several others, in bringing the latest disturbing news about the Diebold company to the attention of the Board of Elections.

On a personal note; While my father has never shown a proclivity towards political activism in the past, to the knowledge of this exceedingly proud blogger, I couldn't be more impressed with his tenacious efforts to inform the St. Louis County BoE members of the many growing concerns about Diebold, and to hold their collective feet to the fire in the bargain. The tree, apparently, does not grow far from the fallen apple. Thank you, Dad. And congratulations for the positive effect of your good work in my old home town!

The activism of Friedman the Elder, and the reporting of The BRAD BLOG, apparently has not escaped the notice of at least one person, said to be a Diebold lobbyist present at the series of recent BoE hearings in St. Louis. After Mannies of The Post ran a short blog item highlighting both our hometown connection and our father --- whom she met and interviewed at the hearings --- Lou Hamilton, reportedly representing Diebold, was said to have "thanked" Mannies for "the outing of BRAD BLOG" (whatever that might mean) and to have asked her "Who is Brad's father? What does he do for a living?", according to a report of the incident.

Hamilton is apparently the CEO of "strategic communications consulting service" Hamilton & Company, and described in an article by Mannies as "a prominent Democratic consultant." More information on Hamilton and his company is available here. We have been unable to reach either Hamilton or Mannies for additional comment on the information reported above, which was emailed to us yesterday.

While attention to the many anti-democratic maneuvers of Diebold, whose former CEO Walden O'Dell infamously pledged his personal committment "to helping Ohio deliver its electoral votes" to George W. Bush in a fundraising letter to Republicans prior to the 2004 election, has been increasingly well-publicized, ES&S has escaped the scrutiny of many Election Reform advocates.

The fact, however, is that ES&S' voting machines are not known to be any more secure than Diebold's, as reported in an eye-opening article yesterday by Wired News. In the report, adjunct computer science professor at the Florida Institute of Technology, Hugh Thompson, who also took part in the Leon County "hack test" last week, is concerned about the voting equipment being purchased from companies other than Diebold:

"Looking at these systems doesn't send off signals that ... if we just get rid of Diebold and go to another vendor we'll be safe," Thompson said. "We know the Diebold machines are vulnerable. As for ES&S, we don't know that they're bad but we don't know that they're (good) either."

Earlier this year, ES&S acquired distribution rights to the AutoMARK system, which has been described as far superior and far more secure than ES&S' own touch-screen and optical scan voting machines. As well, the AutoMARK system, which produces a paper ballot for every vote cast, is said to be accessible to disabled citizens in ways which ES&S and Diebold machines are not, according to a number of disabled citizen's advocacy groups. In Florida's Leon County, the Board of Elections has decided to contract with ES&S, with the intention of using the AutoMARK system once it becomes certified by the state.

St. Louis County's BoE has decided against the AutoMARK system, and instead will purchase 1,750 ES&S touch-screen machines for use in municipal races, along with 500 precinct-level optical-scan tabulators for use in Federal races, according to Harris, with whom we spoke by telephone earlier today. She suspects that ES&S is not dealing honestly with their newly acquired "partners" at AutoMARK, whom she contends ES&S is "defrauding" by over-pricing and under-representing their machines when dealing with potential clients on State and County elections boards.

"In my opinion, ES&S fraudulently priced the AutoMARK machines so high on their bid, that there was no way they could compete with ES&S's DRE [touch-screen] machines or anybody else's for that matter," she told us. Harris claims to have a copy of the bids submitted and hopes to share them with The BRAD BLOG soon.

The wrangling over which vendor to select in St. Louis County occurred shortly after several "closed door sessions" of the St. Louis County Board of Elections, who met privately with Voting Machine vendors and locked out the public and election integrity advocates. Those "closed door sessions" appear to be in violation of Missouri state law, and since then, The BRAD BLOG has learned, "Freedom of Information Act" (FOIA) requests have been filed with the County for the minutes of those closed door sessions. We will, as always, keep you up to date on details that may be revealed by those FOIA requests if and when the County complies with them.

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19 NM counties agree that Sequoia DREs should not be used by their voters
By John Gideon on 12/21/2005 3:04pm PT  

Guest Blogged by John Gideon of VoteTrustUSA.org

Last month The BRAD BLOG reported on an important lawsuit underway in New Mexico. We can now report that a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) has been filed and that plaintiffs have been added to the suit.

Today, attorneys for Patricia Rosas Lopategui, et al. and against Secretary of State Rebecca Vigil-Giron, et al. filed a temporary restraining order asking District Judge Eugenio Mathis for an emergency order blocking the Secretary of State from spending millions of dollars on Sequoia AVC Edge touch screen voting machines for use in Bernalillo, Dona Ana, Santa Fe and 11 other counties. According to their press release VoterAction, the group who is providing support to the attorneys and the plaintiffs in this case, says:

The plaintiffs allege that the machines are not accessible by disabled voters and violate a state law requirement for voter verifiable paper trail printers, necessary for meaningful audits and recounts. Plaintiffs also submitted substantial evidence that the Sequoia touchscreen voting systems are inaccurate and unreliable, having lost thousands of votes and switched countless others in recent elections.

As a part of their case, plaintiffs submitted the affidavit of Noel Runyan, an expert on the design of disabled access devices. Mr. Runyan, who is blind, gave this harsh assessment:

In my opinion, the Sequoia AVC Edge DRE does not satisfy the disability access requirements of HAVA, as incorporated into New Mexico law. This opinion is based on (1) the Edge's complete lack of any accommodation for persons with severe physical dexterity impairments who are unable to use touchscreens or keypads; (2) the gross inadequacy of the Edge's audio assist feature for persons who are blind or low vision; and (3) the Edge's failure to accommodate elderly voters who have developed severe visual impairments with age but are unfamiliar with and unable to cope with audio-only access technology because they have had normal vision most of their lives. In short, it is my opinion that a large portion of disabled citizens who attempt to cast their votes on Sequoia AVC Edge voting machines will be unable to do so.

The work done by these attorneys has already begun to reap benefits outside of the state of New Mexico as attorneys in other states have begun asking for advice and assistance. VoterAction has a copy of the filing and all attached exhibits posted on their website.

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DoJ Staff Attorneys Now Barred From Offering Opinions in VRA Cases After WaPo Exposed Political Appointees Overruled Civil Rights Division Staffers
By Brad Friedman on 12/10/2005 1:15pm PT  

The beloved 40 year-old Voting Right Acts, implemented by Lyndon B. Johnson after violence and death to Voting Rights activists in Selma, Alabama in 1965 has been all but gutted by the George W. Bush administration. The VRA celebrated it's 40th anniversary this summer, even as Bush's Department of Justice was destroying one of its most important measures by covert political caveat.

That gutting now appears to be becoming a still greater threat to our democracy as it is being institutionalized by recent policy changes which bar career Voting Rights staffers and attorneys in the DoJ from offering opinions on new laws that fall under the jurisdication of the VRA.

Two recent reports by Dan Eggen of the Washington Post revealed that Bush political appointees in the DoJ has overruled the recommendations of career staffers and attorneys in the Voting Rights division tasked with determining the legality of two separate laws sent to the department for "pre-approval" under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act.

Section 5 requires that states with a history of discriminatory election practices --- like Texas and Georgia --- must receive pre-approval from the DoJ before implementing any changes to their voting systems. It prohibits "retrogressive" changes to voting laws, or laws that would bring harm to minority voters.

In the last several weeks Eggen has reported on remarkable memos leaked by DoJ staffers showing that they had recommended against approval of new laws both in Georgia, where the legislature had insituted a new Photo ID requirement at the polls, and in Texas, where then Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-TX) had helped to redistrict the state to allow for more Republican representatives after the GOP gained control of the state house in 2002.

Georgia's law has since been ruled unconstitutional by two Federal Courts who deemed the law to be a "Jim Crow-era Poll Tax". Texas' law has resulted in 7 additional Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives. The fallout from the DeLay led gerrymander of Texas districts has resulted in several indictments for DeLay and his cronies who helped force it through the legislature and allegedly conspired with the Republican National Committee to launder money in support of GOP candidates running for the new seats. The Texas law, which had been unanimously recommended against by 8 DoJ staffers, including the lead attorney in the Voting Rights Act division, still stands.

Today Eggen reports that such staff opinions are now completely banned in Bush's Department of "Justice"!

The Justice Department has barred staff attorneys from offering recommendations in major Voting Rights Act cases, marking a significant change in the procedures meant to insulate such decisions from politics, congressional aides and current and former employees familiar with the issue said.

Disclosure of the change comes amid growing public criticism of Justice Department decisions to approve Republican-engineered plans in Texas and Georgia that were found to hurt minority voters by career staff attorneys who analyzed the plans. Political appointees overruled staff findings in both cases.

The one ray of hope that Eggen offers is that Sen. Arlen Spector (R-PA) is considering Senate Judiciary Committee Hearings...at least on the Texas redistricting case.

We often bristle when we hear those on the Left criticize the Bush Administration as Fascistic. It's simply too easy to ascribe to them the worst possible traits as a blunt political weapon. But if the issues discussed above don't send a shiver down the spine of every democracy-loving American it's either because they don't understand what's actually at stake --- and being dismantled in the process --- or they simply don't give a damn about this country's most important legacy to the world: A free and fair electoral system where all citizens are given an equal voice in the selection of our leaders...or at least a system as close to that as we can possibly muster.

Our Republic is in grave danger.

Another in our series of occassional and annoying reminders that it is your support that allows us to keep going. Please help support The BRAD BLOG with a donation if you can. It means the world.
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Measure Approved by Attorney General Even After 4 of 5 Staffers Wrote 51-Page Memo Advising Against Law
(Election-Related News Actually Makes WaPo's Front Page!)
By Brad Friedman on 11/17/2005 1:57pm PT  

A page one story in today's Washington Post reports that a 51-page memo obtained by the paper, shows Dept. of Justice staffers had rejected a controversial new Photo ID requirement law for voters in Georgia, but that their recommendations were overruled and the measure was approved anyway by the Bush appointed Attorney General.

Georgia's new law was recently rejected as unconstitutional by two Federal Courts who equated it to a "Jim Crow-era poll tax" after its approval by the DoJ despite the recommendation against it by 4 out of 5 staffers in the DoJ's Voting Rights Act division.

The law would have required all voters to present a Photo ID at the poll, available for $20 to those who did not have one. The measure, which, like all such measures currently being pushed around the country by Republicans, is alleged to be disproportionately disenfranchising to minority (read: Democratic-leaning) voters.

Despite a complete dearth of evidence to demonstrate that Photo ID requirements are useful in combatting the non-existent epidemic of "Voter Fraud" in America, Republican legislators in Georgia and other states are attempting to ramrod such measures through their state legislatures. Even the creators of the Georgia law were unable to cite a single example of fraud in the state which would have been held off by the new legislation.

Indeed, the self-described "non-partisan" GOP front-group calling itself the American Center for Voting Rights has been fervently attempting to perpetrate the hoax of a "Voter Fraud" epidemic on voters for at least the past six months. They've made the cause their number one plan in attempting to further disenfranchise millions of minority, elderly, poor and urban-dwelling voters, all of whom are far more likely to vote Democratic and not own drivers licenses.

The Voting Rights Act of 1965, parts of which are up for renewal by this Justice Department in 2007, requires states such as Georgia to have any such new laws that may effect voters to be "pre-cleared" by the DoJ.

According to WaPo...

State Rep. Tyrone L. Brooks Sr., a Democrat and president of the Georgia Association of Black Elected Officials, said he was not surprised by the Justice Department's position in the case.

"Some of my colleagues told me early on that, because of politics in the Bush administration, no matter what the staff recommendation was, this would be approved by the attorney general," Brooks said. "It's disappointing that the staff recommendation was not accepted, because that has been the norm since 1965."

UPDATE 12/2/05: Bush DoJ does it again! This time with a unanimous decision against Tom DeLay's Texas redistricting! Turns out that too was overruled by his DoJ cronies!

UPDATE 12/10/05: Now the DoJ has barred staffers from offering opinions at all! Democracy crumbles...

For more information on the "non-partisan" tax-exempt ACVR scam and the snakeoil salesmen who invented it, Bush/Cheney '04 National General Counsel Mark F. "Thor" Hearne and RNC Communications Director Jim Dyke, please see BRAD BLOG's full Special Coverage of the "American Center for Voting Rights" at http://www.BradBlog.com/ACVR.
This is another in our series of occassional and annoying reminders that it is your support that allows us to keep going. Please help support The BRAD BLOG with a donation if you can. It means the world.
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Kept From Inspecting Voting Machines as Promised
Process So Far Has Revealed Votes Changed from One Candidate to Another, Disappearing All Together...
By Brad Friedman on 11/12/2005 5:19pm PT  

We've failed to report too terribly much on it to date, but there is a very important lawsuit quietly proceeding in New Mexico which is challenging the results of the 2004 Presidential Election there. The final result of that election was very close, and Election Reform advocates --- and indeed a great deal of evidence --- suggest that something was amiss there. Michael Collins wrote a good article about the suit a couple of weeks ago for New Zealand's SCOOP.

Yesterday, VoterAction.org sent out an email about some roadblocks that the plaintiffs are suddenly facing in the discovery phase of the trial. They were supposed to have been allowed to have experts inspect --- for the first time --- the Electronic Voting Machines that were used in the '04 Election, along with the actual results that they gave.

All of a sudden, Voter Action says, the county clerks have flat-out refused to permit the inspections by the plaintiffs' experts. That, after some interesting evidence has already been found by the experts during discovery, like tests where they were able to see votes for one candidate being registered for their opponent (as has been so widely reported as happening in so many elections of late!) and ballots being confirmed with NO choice for President at all, which wasn't supposed to have been possible on at least one of the machine types being looked at.

Voter Action didn't post the article from their email on their website, so we'll post it here in its entirety. Check it out...

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

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Conyers: GA Legislature Should Have Never Passed 'Modern Day Poll Tax'
By Brad Friedman on 10/18/2005 3:11pm PT  

A federal judge has just issued an injunction to keep the new Photo ID requirements at polling places in the state of Georgia from moving forward. As reported many times on The BRAD BLOG, the requirement for photo ID at the polls would disenfranchise anywhere from 10 to 20 million Americans who do not have driver licenses --- mainly the elderly, minorities, the poor and other urban dwellers.

The call for Photo ID at the polling place is the latest attempt by Republicans who hope to further disenfranchise Democratic-leaning voters across the country. The effort has been pushed hard by the self-declared "non-partisan" phony GOP "voting rights" group calling themselves the American Center for Voting Rights and was called for by the shameful Baker/Carter National Election Reform Commission, which was led by disenfranchisement expert and Bush family crony James A. Baker along with high-level GOP operatives from the ACVR.

This just in from AP...

ATLANTA (AP) --- A federal court has barred Georgia from enforcing a new state law requiring voters to show photo identification at the polls.

In the ruling issued today, the U.S. District Court in Rome agreed with critics who claimed the law amounts to an unconstitutional poll tax.

The U.S. Justice Department approved the law in August. The department said that while Attorney General Alberto Gonzales did NOT object to the state's voter I-D requirement, the federal agency's approval did NOT preclude lawsuits against it.

The Republican-backed measure sparked racial tension during the state's legislative session last spring. Most of Georgia's black lawmakers walked out at the state Capitol when it was approved.

In a news release just issued to The BRAD BLOG, Congressman John Conyers (D-MI), ranking minority member of the U.S. House Judiciary Committee, lauded the decision to stop what he referred to as "a modern day poll tax."

Says Conyers in the release: "Truth be told, the issue should have never reached this point - the Georgia Legislature should never have passed this modern day poll tax, the Governor should not have signed it, and the Justice Department should have intervened to stop it. That is why 21 Members and I asked the Department to prevent this law from taking effect."

The full press release from Conyers office follows...

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

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Whether Those Who Hate America and Democracy Like it Or Not.
PLUS: A Song to Fight for Democracy By...
By Brad Friedman on 10/8/2005 11:05am PT  

{Blogged by Brad on the road...}

The fight for democracy in America --- even as we still scratch our head with continued wonder that a "pro-democracy" movement is actually necessary in the United States of America in 2005 --- continues to be a difficult one. But the fight is well worth it. Even as our victories tend to come in small, but continually accruing pieces.

We're not supposed to be talking about this issue at all, 11 months after November 2nd, 2004...and yet more and more are doing so every day. The Mainstream Corporate Media may not get it yet. But the ranks of great patriots who give a damn about their country continues to burgeon as the noise in favor of an accountable democracy increases every day due to the folks like the good readers of The BRAD BLOG who take their civic duty to heart.

Here are just a few of the latest positive signs in the continuing fight for a free, fair, verifiable and transparent democracy that many would prefer we simply didn't even discuss. We will continue to do so nonetheless. The burden is well worth carrying. The rewards for doing so are well worth the effort.

Debra LoGuercio, editor of Winters Express and columnist in Daily Republic and elsewhere, makes it a hat trick with her third column in as many weeks on our tenuous Electoral System. She was haunted by the siren sounded by our first article on the Diebold insider we dubbed DIEB-THROAT, who alerted us to the Dept. of Homeland Security website where a Cyber Alert was issued last year prior to the election about the vulnerability to hackers in Diebold's central tabulator software. That vulnerability has, by Diebold's own admission, never been addressed.

In her latest column titled "E-voting fraud is an American issue" LoGuercio joins the ranks of those of us who continue to be stunned at the remarkable indifference by the Mainstream Corporate Media to what DIEB-THROAT refered to as "one of the greatest threats democracy has ever known":

So many topics, so little column space. And yet soooooo much e-mail. In the media, we talk of a story having �legs,� meaning that it just keeps running. It seems the topic of electronic voting fraud is a centipede.

I've accumulated a mountain of studies and reports on Diebold's electronic voting machines since I wrote the Dieb-Throat columns, all pointing to the same conclusion: The software can be hacked - undetected - relatively easily by someone with the technology skills.
...
Why isn't the national media all over this topic like stink on a monkey? Why are we hearing about Brad and Angelina rather than a story that may shatter the foundation of American democracy if it's true? Maybe it's just not sexy enough. Maybe it won't move enough Viagra. Or maybe the grotesquely wealthy owners of the national media don't want this issue to come to light.
...
Maybe that's why people are frantically encouraging me to keep pushing the issue, as if they're pinning their hopes on me. If that's the case, we're in big trouble. In the media world, I'm not even a small fish in a small pond. I'll keep on splashing, but it's hard for a guppy in a mud puddle to make waves.

However, it brings to mind a children's story about Swimmy, a little fish that encouraged all the other little fish to swim together in the formation of one large fish. Working together, they survived the perilous waters among the sharks. That's what all us little fish must do - swim together.

Again, read her full column to find out about her response from AP and NBC affiliates when she contacted them about all of this, and see if you can find a way to help swim together with her efforts. It's well worth it, and the support means the world to folks like us who go out on a limb on these matters...even when doing so may be neither popular nor the easiest thing to do.

In the meantime, there are signs that more and more folks are taking notice of what is going on and walking out on that limb as well. C-NET's News.com ran an article yesterday by Declan McCullah headlined "E-voting hobbled by security concerns".

The first couple of grafs:

It's been nearly five years since Americans received a painful education on the perils of traditional voting machines in Florida and almost one year since the 2004 election revealed perplexing irregularities in Ohio's vote tabulation methods.

Yet no uniform security standards exist for electronic voting machines. Even though they were used to tabulate a third of the votes in last year's presidential run, nearly all electronic voting machines in use today remain black boxes without external methods of verifying that the results have not been altered or sabotaged.

The article covers both the ongoing concerns, and the internal debates --- even amongst election reformers --- about how and when to produce and count paper ballots...or "receipts" as they are regrettably becoming known in many circles.

On the point of the difference between reformers on these issues, I hope to produce a one-page "Declaration of Democracy" in the next couple of weeks, a page on which we worked diligently at the Portland Election Reform summit. I believe we can bridge the differences between reformers on these matters to get everyone on the same page. I've been working hard on that effort personally behind the scenes, and hope to have something to show for it in the next couple of weeks. Just by way of a heads-up...So that perhaps we may be able to "swim together" on these issues.

A second article from News.com published yesterday over at ZDNet covers a similar discussion on the problems with E-Voting vulnerability and the need to open the software for inspection:

Overlooked bugs and malicious code pose a plausible threat to software on electronic voting machines, a panel of election experts said Friday.

And finally, there it was yesterday...smack dab in the middle of The New York Times: a full-page ad that asks the the too-obvious questions, "Would you trust a bank that refused to issue ATM receipts? Will you trust your democracy to voting machines without them?"

The ad calls for support of Rep. Rush Holt's (D-NJ) H.R. 550 "Voter Confidence and Increased Accessibility Act of 2005" which we generally support as a good first step towards accountability. (You can send your words of support as well to your folks in congress quickly by using Velvet Revolution's easy Email generator here.)

Here's the very welcome ad, signed by many election reformers. Amongst them, our friend the heroic Robert Koehler (listen to our interview with Koehler at the Portland Summit as broadcast on The BRAD SHOW by clicking here and selecting HOUR 3.)

To read the full text of the ad in PDF format, click it, or click here.

Let's all keep swimming...together...

If you need some added inspiration to keep up the fight for democracy, we'll strongly recommend this great song [mp3], courtesy of Victoria Parks. "It's well worth fighting for..."

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