I called Mark Coakley, General Registrar of Voters in Henrico County to get a few more details about what went wrong there...
w/ Brad & Desi
w/ Brad & Desi
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...
GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal 2012...
The Secret Koch Brothers Tapes...
|MORE BRAD BLOG 'SPECIAL COVERAGE' PAGES...|
I called Mark Coakley, General Registrar of Voters in Henrico County to get a few more details about what went wrong there...
I was joined today by The Nation's Ari Berman on my KPFK/Pacifica Radio show to discuss his new article today in Rolling Stone on "The GOP War on Voting". See my report on his article from earlier in the day right here.
This was an important discussion about an important article about one of the most important issues to directly effect the outcome of virtually every election in the nation in 2012. None of that, apparently, given what the rest of the MSM decided to cover today, is any where near as important as whether John Boehner will allow the President to speak to a joint session of Congress on Sept 7th or or whether it'll have to be on Sept 8th, and whether Christine O'Donnell or Sarah Palin will appear at a "Tea Party" event this weekend in Iowa.
And you wonder why we're in the mess we're in.
My conversation on "The GOP War on Voting" with Ari Berman today follows...
Download MP3 or listen online here [appx 27 mins]...
[NOTE: Ari Berman, author of the article discussed below, joined me on my KPFK/Pacifica Radio show today. That interview is now posted here. - BF]
While readers of The BRAD BLOG may be familiar with many of the items covered in Ari Berman's fine new article "The GOP War on Voting" at Rolling Stone today (and in its Sept 15, 2011 issue on newsstands), it's great to have a summary of all of the latest state-based assaults on voting rights instituted to date, in the wake of last year's Republican wave election, all in one place.
Berman covers all of these and more in his piece on the "unprecedented, centrally coordinated campaign to suppress the elements of the Democratic vote that elected Barack Obama in 2008," described by one civil rights advocate as "the most significant setback to voting rights in this country in a century"...
Guest blogged by Ernest A. Canning
"I don’t want everybody to vote," Paul Weyrich, co-founder of the billionaire-funded Heritage Foundation and the Moral Majority, said while addressing a right-wing Christian audience in 1980. "[O]ur leverage in the elections goes up as the voting populace goes down," he added after he denigrated those who seek "good government" through maximum, informed voter participation as people who suffer from the "goo goo syndrome."
Voter suppression has long been a staple of American politics, but the tsunami of new restrictions on the polling place now being rammed through by newly-elected Republican majorities in state after state is unprecedented, certainly since the era of Jim Crow was supposed to have been ended by the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
While most Americans may think of the poll tax and literacy tests as forms of voter suppression associated the Jim Crow South, the confirmation hearings of the late U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice William Renquist included sworn testimony from former U.S. Attorney James Brosnahan and others reflecting that, as an early 60's GOP activist, Renquist intimidated African-American and Hispanic voters in AZ by challenging their ability to read.
1965's Voting Rights Act outlawed both the poll tax and literacy tests. In more recent times, pursuant to a 1987 federal court consent decree, and a subsequent provision of the National Voting Rights Act of 1993, another GOP suppression tactic, "caging lists," was banned, though as documented by the BBC's Greg Palast, the Bush administration-led Plutocrats didn't let a little matter like illegality get in the way of their use.
21st Century voter suppression operates under cover. Or it had, until the new wave of legislation being passed by GOP legislatures across the country began hitting its stride. Until FL's then-governor Charlie Crist overturned it, for example, the state banned convicted felons from voting even years after they'd been released from prison. In Armed Madhouse, Palast asserts that prior to the 2000 Presidential election, FL's then Sec. of State Katherine Harris, appointed by Gov. Jeb Bush, the brother of candidate George W. Bush, purged 94,000 "felons" from the state's computerized voter rolls, though the only "crime" at least 91,000 were guilty of was "being Black, Democrat or both."
Over much of the past decade, voter suppression efforts have been bolstered by bogus "voter fraud" claims leveled at groups like ACORN, who aided in the registration of those who might be likely to vote against the GOP (minorities and the working class); "non-partisan" GOP astroturf groups like the phony American Center for Voting Rights (ACVR) created after the 2004 election solely to create and spread false propaganda about a Democratic "voter fraud" epidemic; laws meant to increase the legal risk to real non-partisan organizations for assisting in registration; draconian polling place "photo ID" restriction laws, and in a reduction of opportunities for early voting.
With the tide of GOP victories at the ballot box last November, those efforts have now been ramped up and are now front and center in some 30 state legislatures across the country...
Via Eric Kleefeld at TPM this afternoon, candidates jockeying for chairmanship of the RNC, including current chair Michael Steele, held a debate today, and, naturally, spoke at some length to one of the most important imaginary threats facing our republic: Massive Democratic voter fraud!!! Coincidentally, almost always by black people and Hispanic people, who probably shouldn't be voting anyway, and stuff!!!
The goal of this years-long campaign against imagined "Massive Democratic voter fraud!!!" is, as long-time readers of The BRAD BLOG know too well, meant to encourage the adoption of photo ID restrictions at the polling place (and, short of that, intimidating challenges to voters when they show up to vote) under the purported guise of "ballot integrity".
Never mind that George W. Bush's own Dept. of Justice was unable to find more than a handful of actual voter fraud culprits despite their unprecedented efforts to root out this menace. And, definitely never mind that studies cited [PDF] by the League of Women Voters, and many others, have warned that more than 20 million legal American voters --- most of them, coincidentally, minorities, elderly and students (read: Democratic-leaning voters) --- stand to be completely disenfranchised by such draconian restrictions since many of them do not have the type of government issued photo ID the Republicans believe can protect us from "Massive Democratic voter fraud!!!"
It's not new, of course. The modern Republican War on Voting has been ongoing for years, begun as long ago (at least) as Rightwing icon Paul Weyrich's incredible 1980 speech to preachers in Dallas with Reagan and Falwell on hand (see :40 video clip at end of article below). But it's clear, despite the Republican/Fox "News"/Andy Breitbart "pimp" hoax that succeeding in killing the GOP's former #1 "voter fraud" bogey man, ACORN, the fake story of "Massive Democratic voter fraud!!!" will continue as a helpful voter suppression meme for the GOP for years to come --- at least if the new RNC chair, whoever that may be, has anything to say about it.
Here, in part, is what each RNC chair candidate had to say today in response to the question about how they planned to combat "Massive Democratic voter fraud!!!" as the new leader of the GOP...
"did anyone else have to swear on a bible that their address was correct before they were able to vote? just wondering, because i did," Philadelphia voter Lindsay Granger wrote on her blog after voting in last Tuesday's mid-term election. "i had to lay my palm on the good book and state my name and address before i was allowed to sign my name in the voting log and enter the booth. they called it an affirmation. i call it creepy… and a little offensive…"
Granger notified VotersUnite.org last week after the incident which, she told the non-partisan election watchdog organization, made her "extremely uncomfortable because i'm not a Christian, and when i brought that up I was told to do it anyway."
In her blog item, Granger, an African-American, admitted to being "hypersensitive" given "the historical context of black people voting in america".
When informed of the incident, Bob Lee, the Voter Registration Administrator for the Philadelphia City Commissioners, confirmed to The BRAD BLOG that Bibles are, indeed, included in the package of election materials provided to each polling site, but says no such oath is required before casting a vote.
The incident reportedly took place at Philadelphia's Ward 15, Division 01 polling place at Trinity Baptist Church on Poplar Street. It was Granger's first time voting at that precinct after having moved recently from another area in the city.
Lee conceded that, based on Granger's description of the incident --- which he hadn't heard about until we contacted him for comment --- it sounded like the election board at the precinct "needs some training"...
And, also speaking of the long-waged Republican War on Democracy, it's nice to see a bit of in-depth coverage of issues that actually matter from local news reporters for a change. Here's Melissa Sims of KARK 4 News in Arkansas last night, on the vote caging of Tim Griffin, the Karl Rove protege installed as U.S. Attorney without Senate confirmation by the Bush Administration during their infamous U.S. Attorney purge.
Griffin, notoriously, was discovered to have sent caging emails to RNC colleagues during the 2004 election in Ohio. He denies any wrong-doing, though BBC investigative journalist and author [and occasional BRAD BLOG guest blogger] Greg Palast who first reported on the caging emails in Griffin's name, believes otherwise. Several other independent reporters similarly confirmed his involvement in the scheme. Griffin has never been held legally accountable, in any case, despite being forced to tearfully resign as USA during the Attorney Purge investigation. He is now, incredibly, the GOP's nominee for Arkansas' 2nd District U.S. Congressional seat, proving --- yet again --- that IOKIYR.
KARK's Simas took the time to cover the matter in some detail --- a 7-minute report is extraordinary for local news --- even as it's been largely ignored by...well, just about everybody, certainly in Arkansas, until now...
Note: Simas' written report published on KARK's ArkansasMatters.com website along with the video report, is very good as well.
[Much thanks to RAW REPLAY'S David Edwards for the video embed!]
UPDATE 10/20/10: Palast picks up on this same story and writes over at Truthout that attorney Robert Kennedy Jr., having looked at the Griffin caging emails, believes that what the SarahPAC-endorsed candidate Griffin did "was absolutely illegal and he should be in jail."
Thousands of borrowed e-voting machines made by Austin-based Hart Intercivic have begun arriving in Harris County (Houston), TX, this week in the wake of last month's massive warehouse fire which destroyed all 10,000 of the county's 100% unverifiable Direct Recording Electronic (DRE) voting systems in advance of early voting for the mid-term elections.
Some 3,000 machines are being loaned to Harris County from 15 different counties around Texas and one in Colorado. Paper ballots are also being printed up, thankfully, to help in an emergency pinch, though it's clear that Harris County Clerk Beverly Kaufman, a long-time fan of unverifiable electronic voting systems, hopes voters will use them, rather than paper. Most precincts, she says, will have just one less machine than they normally would for an election of the size expected this November.
Arson has not yet been ruled out as the cause of the overnight blaze which remains a mystery nearly three weeks after it destroyed some $40 million worth of voting equipment. While an official finding may still be months away, according to Houston's KPRC TV no accelerants have yet been found, and arson investigators seem to be focusing on "evidence that the fire started accidentally in the building's electrical system."
But before the ashes had finished smoldering, literally, partisans from both the Right and Left had already begun to speculate on what the fire might mean for the mid-term elections and who, if anybody, might have had a motive to touch off such a blaze.
As long-time readers of The BRAD BLOG may have guessed, some of the allegations had more basis in reality than others, as Republican activists, like clockwork, have begun their loud, if still-unsubstantiated, cries of "massive Democratic voter fraud" soon to "steal an election" near you.
The effort in Houston which, coincidentally or not, kicked off at almost the exact same moment as the voting machine fire, is particularly egregious and irresponsible in its effort to scare voters with unsubstantiated and hyperbolic charges of "voter fraud"...
Following on Brad Jacobson's investigative expose last month at RAW STORY concerning GOP operative turned EAC commissioner turned FEC commissioner Caroline Hunter, Velvet Revolution.us (VR) has filed a complaint [DOC] with the DC Court of Appeals asking for her disbarment based on the purposely misleading statements she offered under oath in a federal court hearing concerning allegations of voter suppression by the RNC in Ohio in the final days of the 2004 election. RAW's Muriel Kane provides details here...
And in other accountability news, VR's StopTheChamber.com campaign called yesterday for the arrest of Massey Energy CEO and U.S. Chamber of Commerce Director Don Blankenship for being "criminally culpable as any mass murderer," following the deaths of 29 miners at Massey's Upper Big Branch mine in West Virginia last week. RAW's Daniel Tencer covers that story here...
The heat is just beginning to build for Blankenship, and hopefully it will continue, as it should have long ago but for the millions he has spent to date to avoid virtually any and all such accountability. His ability to do so, using the abusive power of the U.S. Chamber to help in that effort, needs to end...
[Updated below with details on the second part of Jacobson's series, just posted at RAW STORY, in which he ties together Hunter's EAC appointment and dubious tenure, representing the RNC's nefarious "voter fraud" fraudster wing (which is to say, pretty much the entire RNC these days!) The second in the series offers important info and a good reminder of the names you'll be seeing again soon, singing the same old phony, discredited "voter fraud" songs once again as November nears, as sure as the sun rises in the East.]
Brad Jacobson has filed the first in a series of exclusives at RAW STORY concerning GOP operative and Bush-appointed FEC commissioner Caroline Hunter. [Disclosure: Jacobson has blogged at The BRAD BLOG in the past.] Here's the lede for his first excellent investigative report yesterday:
Legal experts say Hunter's submission of such statements under oath is a serious ethical and professional breach which could warrant a bar review and potential disbarment. At the time, Hunter was serving as deputy counsel to the Republican National Committee.
The report goes on to detail how Hunter --- who, as The BRAD BLOG has highlighted over the years, had previously been allowed to serve as a commissioner on the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) --- deceptively misrepresented the facts, on behalf of the RNC, in a 2004 voter caging hearing in federal court.
Jacobson quotes election law experts, including two long-time former DoJ Voting Section attorneys, who argue that while the way she couched her sworn testimony may "shield her from perjury charges," the statements she gave may "still pose ethical problems that potentially could result in her disbarment."...
While criticism of Obama and Democrats is as easy as it is appropriate (as well as frequently engaged in here), their failures on the marquee items --- Afghanistan, health care, torture accountability, etc., ya know, the items Fox "News" and the other wingnuts like to talk about --- tend to obscure the very real differences between the current administration and the former one across a broader, and much less sexy (by cable news standards), level. That's just one of the reasons I reject the far too lazy "Democrats are just the same as Republicans" knee-jerkisms.
While on the big ticket items, as noted above, there is far less difference in real world results than all of us would like, but below the radar, in executive departments and policies, the difference has been, at times, and in some areas, like night and day.
Desi Doyen and I have made this point on a number of occasions in our Green News Reports --- most recently in last Thursday's edition, highlighting new, important and aggressive policy changes and initiatives at the EPA, federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the Dept. of Interior.
Now, some important changes at the DoJ's Civil Rights Division, and of particular note to long time readers of The BRAD BLOG, its Voting Rights Division, are beginning to show real change and significantly for the better, whether you hear about it on Fox and CNN and MSNBC or not.
Adam Serwer of The American Prospect highlighted some of that positive change late last week on the heels of an upheaval at the DoJ's Voting Rights Division over which The BRAD BLOG played a very direct and significant role in 2007....
On the road and short on time, so forgive the lack of background... Politico tells the story --- though they fail to use the word "caging" because, well, it doesn't make the GOP look so great, and that's what the main interest of Politico seems to be in just about everything they do. They do, however, liberally use the Orwellian phrase "ballot security" instead, as the GOP no doubt appreciates.
These grafs from Politico, summarizing the RNC's rejected argument for moving to throw away the national consent decree they were forced to sign in the 80's, after getting busted caging minority voters from the voter rolls (illegally suppressing their vote) are rather amusing...
For various reasons, now seems a good moment to mention that The BRAD BLOG was honored this year with a prestigious Project Censored 2010 award for our coverage of the mysterious death of the GOP's IT guru Mike Connell. Connell, for those unfamiliar with the story (see background links at bottom of this article) was in the process of testifying about his rumored role in helping the GOP carry out fraud in Ohio's '04 Presidential Election when he was then reportedly threatened by Karl Rove. Weeks later he suddenly plunged to his death in a single-engine plane crash just before Christmas last year as he was preparing to land near Akron, on his way home from one of his frequent trips to D.C..
Project Censored, based out of Sonoma State University, has been highlighting overlooked stories each year since 1976, and was recognized by Walter Cronkite as "one of the organizations that we should listen to, to be assured our newspaper and our broadcasting outlets are practicing thorough and ethical journalism."
In addition to our "Excellence in Investigative Journalism" award from PC this year, as highlighted in their annual "Top 25 Censored Stories for 2010," I was also asked to write a chapter on problems faced by voters in Election 2008 for this year's book, Censored 2010: The Top 25 Censored Stories of 2008-09.
Co-Editors Peter Phillips and Mickey Huff have been kind enough to offer us a number of signed copies at a reduced rate so that we can offer them as premiums to readers of The BRAD BLOG to help continue our work here.
The 9,000 word chapter I wrote for the book is titled "Election 2008: Vanishing Votes, Disappearing Democracy and Media Misdirection" and includes sections named "And You Lose Your Vote! And You Lose Your Vote! And You Lose Your Vote!..."; "
First Worst in the Nation"; "America Flips Out, Media Barely Notices, Parties Barely Care"; "Democrats Nowhere to be Found"; and "Pay No Attention to the Man Behind the Curtain."
If you'd like a copy of this great book (Makes a great holiday gift! I'll sign it as well, if you wish!), chocked full of important, overlooked stories from the last year or so, along with follow-ups to them --- and a lot of real information on the story of Election 2008 seen here for the first time in print --- please do one of the following:
Your support is greatly appreciated, and tremendously needed, as we receive no foundational or corporate support for our work here! Your contributions are largely the only thing that keep us going! So thank you in advance for any help here!
Links to The BRAD BLOG's most recent coverage of the Mike Connell story follows below...
The case began in the early 1980s when the Democratic National Committee sued the RNC for voter suppression tactics that targeted about 45,000 people in low-income and minority areas. The RNC subjected minority voters in New Jersey to misleading election notices, the intimidating placement of off-duty police around polling places, and the unlawful practice of “voter caging” whereby unfounded voter challenge lists are compiled from returned mass direct mailings.
The case, DNC v. RNC, resulted in a 1982 decree in which the RNC agreed not to engage in voter caging and intimidation activities or to target minority voters.
Despite the consent decree, the RNC began using similar tricks in Louisiana in 1986. Under the guise of fraud prevention, the RNC facilitated voter caging programs and other tactics. Commenting on the program, Kris Wolfe, the Midwest RNC political director, sent a memo to Lanny Griffith, the Southern RNC political director, saying “I would guess this program will eliminate at least 60,000 to 80,000 folks from the rolls…If it’s a close race…this could keep the black vote down considerably.” The DNC filed a contempt motion to reopen the case and enjoin the RNC from conducting the Louisiana programs. Once again, the RNC voluntarily agreed to a consent decree rather than fight the claims in court. The result was a 1986 decree [PDF] in which the RNC agreed not to do any ballot security programs anywhere in the country without prior court approval.
More than 20 years later, on November 3, 2008, the RNC moved to terminate the 1982 and 1986 consent decrees. The RNC claims the consent decrees hamstring their efforts to combat voter fraud, despite the fact that voter fraud is less common than death by lightning.
Well, they got the Supreme Court. Now's as good a time as any to get "official" permission to suppress the vote again. Beats winning by actually getting more votes than the other guys, I guess.
-- Brad Friedman, The BRAD BLOG
Okay, so I've been asked on several occasions, since the election last year, what I regard as the top priorities for election reform in the U.S. of A. In hopes of keeping it simple, stupid, at least until I hear opinions on these back from you folks, here is a summary list of the most important, and most eminently-doable-at-the-federal-level reforms as I see it.
I welcome your thoughts, recommended changes, additions, etc. For the moment, this is not meant as a comprehensive list of all needed reforms, particularly at the various local levels. But it's meant as a list of the big ones, as I seem them, and the ones for which I believe we could actually find a consensus in this Congress sooner rather than later. Nor is this meant as whitepaper with arguments and details for each item. But hopefully most regular readers of The BRAD BLOG will understand what these reforms entail and why they are necessary, as written in this summarized, simple list.
After hearing from you all, I may post an updated version later and/or set these up on their own page, in order track legislation for each of them as they roll (or don't) through Congress. Here's the list...
A Few Great Blogs
· Baghdad Burning
· Brilliant at Breakfast
· Crooks and Liars
· Dan Froomkin
· Fired Up! Missouri
· Freedom's Phoenix
· Freeway Blogger
· Glenn Greenwald
· Huffington Post
· Jesus' General
· Juan Cole
· Washington Monthly
· Media Matters
· Nashua Advocate
· Oliver Willis
· RAW STORY
· Sanoma State's
Project Censored Sites:
· Daily Censored
· Media Freedom
· Project Censored
· Scholars & Rogues
· Skippy the Bush Kangaroo
· Talking Points Memo
· Think Progress
· Tom Tomorrow
· TV Newser
· Ben Sargent
· Bill Deore
· Bob Gorrell
· Cagle's Index
· Chan Lowe
· Don Wright
· Doug Marlette
· Glenn McCoy
· Jeff Danziger
· Joel Pett
· Mike Luckovich
· Non Sequitur
· Not Banned Yet
· Pat Oliphant
· Paul Conrad
· Ted Rall
· This Modern World
· Thomas Burns
· Tom Toles
· Tony Auth
· Stuart Carlson
Or by Snail Mail
Make check out to...
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