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By Brad Friedman on 8/4/2006 9:03am PT  

Motel Blogged from the road by Brad...

In addition to the previous article mentioned in Florida, more Voting Machine 'Sleepover' coverage today, this time from Marc Songini in ComputerWorld...

A lawsuit has grown out of alleged breaches in security procedures around electronic voting machines in San Diego County after a hotly contested congressional election, throwing a spotlight on the reliability of the machines themselves.

The suit, filed on Monday, requests that a special election on June 6 to fill the 50th Congressional District seat be invalidated. It also seeks a complete hand recount of the paper ballots, said Paul Lehto, an Everett, Wash.-based attorney handling the case. The suit was filed in Superior Court in San Diego and names Mikel Haas, county registrar of voters, and Brian Bilbray, the winner of the seat, as defendants.

San Diego voters used AccuVote optical-scan and TSx touch-screen systems from Diebold Election Systems.

Whatever the specific merits of the suit, it could heighten some citizens' concerns about e-voting technology if critics' claims of the inherent security deficiencies get debated in court during the run-up to the fall elections.

One of the main points raised by the suit is the so-called sleepover policy, under which Haas directed that all the machines be released to poll worker supervisors before the election. These sleepovers lasted from three days to more than a week.

"During these sleepovers, the voting machines were unsecured, subject to access by innumerable neighbors, strangers and family members, and stored without records or proof of actual chain of custody, eliminating the ability of any person to detect whether or not fraud or improper access to the voting machines occurred," according to the lawsuit.

"The sleepover issue is fairly egregious," said Lehto. Tampering with one card in one device conceivably could change race results.
...
This lawsuit is an example of what could happen in upcoming contests, said Brad Friedman, who covers e-voting issues in his blog. "Is this the sort of thing we want to see happen in 435 House races, 33 Senate races and 20-something gubernatorial races around the country on Nov. 7 this year?" said Friedman.

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Catskill Center For Independence Denies They Took Anything But Claim Money Was Offered...And This Isn't the First Such Example...
By John Gideon on 8/2/2006 8:55pm PT  

Guest Blogged by John Gideon

Today Oneonta, NY's The Daily Star reported that Chris Zachmeyer, executive director of the Catskill Center For Independence, said Tuesday that voting-machine manufacturers have tried to contribute money to her organization, which has given testimony on which voting machines Otsego County should buy.

"It’s happened a couple of times," said Zachmeyer, who declined to identify the manufacturers.

"I told them, ’I’d love to take your money, but I can’t,"’ Zachmeyer said. "Those were my words exactly, and I would love to take their money because they’ve got deep pockets and we’re a small agency."

"But to what end?" Zachmeyer asked. "We would lose any credibility that we ever had, and no amount of money is worth it.

"We exist totally on our credibility," she said. "If people don’t trust what we have to say, we might as well lock our doors and go home."

But with "millions of dollars at stake" it may well be that "back-door deals" may have been made as Voting Machine companies may be paying disabilities groups to testify on their behalf. It wouldn't be the first time.

As the article goes on to report...

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

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By John Gideon on 8/1/2006 1:26pm PT  

Guest Blogged by John Gideon

Yesterday, according to an article in The Bakersfield Californian, a panel of California state senators held a hearing in Bakersfield to discern what happened in the county during the June 6 state primary. The panel consisted of Sen. Debra Bowen, D-Redondo Beach; Sen. Roy Ashburn, R-Bakersfield; and Sen. Joseph Dunn, D-Garden Grove.

The California Senate Select Committee on Integrity of Elections has launched an investigation into problems in elections in the state. That investigation started in Kern County (Bakersfield) with testimony by County Deputy Registrar of Voters Sandy Brockman, Diebold Election Systems official Mike Rockenstein, and other election workers.

Brockman stood in for her boss, Auditor-Controller Ann Barnett, who was on vacation and not available to answer questions about why some voters were not able to vote in the primary. In fact, the paper reports:

Ashburn asked why Barnett wasn't there to answer his tough questions about the decisions she made.

Brockman said Barnett was on vacation.

"She had scheduled vacation time prior to them calling this hearing," Brockman said.

Later, Ashburn said that "she (Barnett) chose not to be here. I got the impression at several points that Sandy Brockman had to take responsibility for actions that were made by Ann Barnett."

Ashburn was critical of Barnett immediately after the June 6 election. He called for Secretary of State Bruce McPherson to investigate the county's election bungles.

The questioning was all about mistakes:

Committee members pelted local elections officials with searing questions about why they failed the voters.

State Sen. Roy Ashburn, R-Bakersfield, asked why touch-screen voting machines failed and paper ballots ran out making voting nearly impossible for as many as 500 Kern County voters.

County Deputy Registrar of Voters Sandy Brockman, sitting in for elections boss Auditor-Controller Ann Barnett, took the brunt of Ashburn's questions.

Under his questioning, she said Barnett decided not to train elections workers on the use of paper ballots and decided to send only the minimum number of paper ballots to each polling place.

Elections workers testified they were told not to use paper ballots.

But when electronic voting cards failed, the paper ballots ran out and as many as 500 voters could have lost the chance to vote, Brockman said.

The Diebold representative got his turn to answer some hard questions from Sen. Dunn:

Diebold made the voting machines and electronic ballot cards that malfunctioned in Kern County on June 6.

Through the negligence of Diebold, Dunn said, hundreds of Kern County voters were turned away at the polls and lost their chance to vote.

If a chance to vote is priceless, Dunn asked Rockenstein, how much would Diebold be willing to pay voters who could prove they couldn't vote because of the company's mistakes?

Rockenstein said he had no answer to that question.

The next stop by the panel has been unannounced so far. Could San Diego Co. be very far down on their list?

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Republican Primary Saw Popular Incumbent Nearly Lose, Save for a Hand Count of the Paper Ballots
Unlike San Diego's Busby/Bilbray Race, Iowa Election Officials Took Concerns of Election Accuracy Seriously!
By Brad Friedman on 8/1/2006 12:59pm PT  

"More evidence tonight that the security of our elections, the integrity of our democracy are at risk from electronic voting machines. A county in Iowa has just come close to putting the wrong candidate in office because of a massive programming error."

This Dobbs report underscores the problems in the Busby/Bilbray CA50 election fiasco, as the candidates shown as losing the election based on the optical-scan count in Iowa were later found to be winners --- but only after the ballots were actually counted by hand to determine if they were counted accurately by the machine! They were not.

By way of ironic side note, the Iowa Republican primary election in question, as we've noted here many time before, took place on June 6th --- the same day as the flawed Busby/Bilbray election...in which nobody has yet bothered to count the op-scan votes in order to find out if the results were reported accurately. Election integrity, it seems, is more important in some states than in others, we guess.

Says Dobbs in his closing remarks to Kitty Pilgrim: "If this message is not getting through that's emanating from every corner of the country using these voting machines, I don't know what it will take."


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

(Hat tip David Edwards for the video, John Gideon for the transcript and tracking, etc.)

The complete text transcript of the Lou Dobbs/Kitty Pilgrim report follows...

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

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PLUS: Audio of Attorney Paul Lehto on Ed Schultz Discussing Details of the Case...
ALSO: Tons of Local Media Coverage of the Contest Filing...
By Brad Friedman on 7/31/2006 4:56pm PT  

Blogged by Brad on the road...

The case to challenge the announced results of the Busby/Bilbray election was filed today in San Diego County's California Superior Court as reported earlier this morning in some detail. The case number is: GIC870044 and may be downloaded here...

-- Busby/Bilbray Election Contest complaint, [PDF]

There's some extraordinary and fresh stuff in the suit that you'll want to read, since I'm still on the road and unable to cover as thoroughly as usual.

The local media covered the press conference held and attorney Paul Lehto appeared on Ed Schultz. Coverage of both follows...

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

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By Brad Friedman on 7/31/2006 11:48am PT  

Blogged by Brad from the road...

I was able to listen in via cell phone to the Press Conference just held outside the San Diego courthouse where Attorney Paul Lehto has filed a lawsuit to contest the results of the Busby/Bilbray election.

I wasn't able to hear everything...but here are a few quotes as transcribed as best as I could from speakers Lehto, Judy Hess, Barbara Gail Jacobson and Mimi Kennedy...

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

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Lehto on San Diego County Registrar's Inability to Deploy Voting Machines Securely: 'If he can’t handle it, he should get a new job.'
ALSO: Lehto Now Scheduled to Appear on Ed Schultz Today at 5:30pm ET (2:30pm PT)
By Brad Friedman on 7/31/2006 10:18am PT  

Blogged by Brad on the road...

RAW STORY's Miriam Raftery offers more details on today's filing of an Election Contest in the Busby/Bilbray race (covered by The BRAD BLOG late last night). Her excellent coverage includes an exclusive interview with attorney Paul Lehto who is speeding to the courthouse in San Diego even as I write this, with a press conference to follow at 10:30am PT as reported previously.

He's also now scheduled to appear on the nationally syndicated Ed Schultz radio program to discuss the lawsuit with Big Ed at 5:30pm ET (2:30pm PT). [UPDATE: Audio from Big Ed appearance now available for download here.]

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Press Conference to be Held on the Court House Steps in San Diego at 10:30am PT Just After Filing...
By Winter Patriot on 7/30/2006 8:58pm PT  


Guest blogged by Winter Patriot

[UPDATE: RAW STORY covers the filing here along with an exclusive interview with attorney Paul Lehto. Details from the press conference held earlier today here. Lehto to appear on Ed Schultz radio show at 2:30pm ET to discuss the case.]

[FURTHER UPDATE: The full complaint is now available to download here.]

For all advocates of election integity, and especially for those in San Diego, Monday is going to be a big day. Attorney Paul Lehto is on the scene and Monday morning he will be filing a contest to the U.S. House special election held on June 6th in California's 50th congressional district to replace disgraced Republican Congressman Randy "Duke" Cunningham.

According to a press release issued by a group of Election Integrity advocates organizing themselves as the CA-50 Action Group, a press release will be held on the steps of the Court House in San Diego at 10:30am, just after the filing. (The BRAD BLOG has received an advance copy of the press release. It is posted in full at the bottom of this article.)

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

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By John Gideon on 7/30/2006 8:07pm PT  

Guest Blogged by John Gideon

Today the Arizona Daily Star printed their awaited opinion piece that has three members of the county government responding to questions that were compiled by the paper's staff from their readers' responses to the paper's ill-researched editorial of earlier in the week.

Responding to the Letter To The Editor comments and questions were County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry, who allowed the county to spend over a million dollars to buy new Diebold TSx machines. Also responding are Elections Director Brad Nelson and John H. Moffatt, of the county's Office of Strategic Technology Planning. Both are proponents of the Diebold TSx. And, by the way the questions/concerns were answered, both seem willing to do nearly anything to ensure Diebold gets the Pima Co. taxpayers' money...

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

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By Brad Friedman on 7/29/2006 9:39am PT  

Four great letters to the Union-Tribune editor, as published today in reply to their horrendous, irresponsible, factually incorrect and unsigned editorial posted a few days ago (which Emily Levy angrily and adeptly blogged about here a few days ago.)

One of the letters published comes from San Diego County Democractic Party Chair, Jess Durfee, who the original editorial smugly referred to as "the local Democratic Party boss." Biased much, Union-Tribune?

Want an extra laugh? This rightwing rag has been calling themselves a "watchdog" for the people in a series of recent TV ads. No, seriously. That's what they tell people. As laughable: Their published Mission Statement says: "Journalistic excellence is our commitment to readers. Above all, integrity." Apparently, they were just kidding.

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By Brad Friedman on 7/28/2006 6:51pm PT  

Mimi Kennedy of Progressive Democrats of America (PDA) and Emily Levy of California Election Protection Network (CPEN) appeared smartly today in my usual weekly Friday slot on The Peter B. Collins Show. Somehow, from somewhere, off to the side of a blistering hot stretch of highway in the middle of the Great Plains, I found a computer and net access from which I could secretly listen in (don't tell them.)

A busman's holiday.

They were all three tremendous on the topic mess that is the Busby/Bilbray CA50 election fiasco and on the anti-American, democracy-hating, truth-averse San Diego County Registrar Mikel Haas and his facilitating partner-in-crime CA Sec. of State Bruce McPherson. They offer a few hints as well about what's to come on those topics within the next few days (and what it is that's been keeping me from getting fully off the grid for the last week or so.)

Give 'em a listen...

-- Mimi and Emily on the Peter B. Collins Show, 7/28/06 [MP3]

And one quick personal word about Peter B... He has, nearly single-handedly, devoted more air time time to the issue of Electoral Integrity over the past year or so than just about anybody else across the entire media spectrum. Not just with my weekly appearances, but with many other guests and discussions on the same issues. For that, this country owes him an enormous debt of gratitude. Especially while the bulk of the media still fails to deal with this issue head on. PBC's willingness to use his platform for the public good, instead of distraction, is not to be "misunderestimated". Thank you, Peter. I'll be back. Though hopefully not too soon. ;-)

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By John Gideon on 7/28/2006 9:07am PT  

Dobbs has this to say (tongue in cheek) when talking about Diebold's denial of any problems while there is evidence of vote tallying problems, "A minor, minor consideration when one is holding an election is to be able to count the vote."

A written transcript follows...


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

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

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Press Coverage Fails to Note Any Connection to Failure of Their E-Voting Business
News You Can't Lose, Unless You Snooze, Plus Some Fascinating Analysis
By Winter Patriot on 7/27/2006 8:26am PT  

Guest blogged by Winter Patriot, with a big assist from Brad and another from long-time BRAD BLOG friend and ally, Robert Lockwood Mills

Our friends at Diebold were all over the business pages yesterday, and the numbers seemed much more precise than the verbal descriptions. All the reports agreed that Diebold's second-quarter profits were down, compared to last year, by either 46 or 46.3 percent. They also seemed to agree on what lines of business Diebold pursues. And judging from what they've written, Dieblod has nothing to do with elections!

Pfew! What a relief! For a while there, I was starting to think these Diebold guys were a threat to our democracy! I guess I must have spent too much time reading Internet Blogs!

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

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By John Gideon on 7/26/2006 5:31pm PT  

"More evidence tonight that many of this nation's elected officials remain somewhat out of step or just completely in the dark as far as their constituents are concerned. At least half the states in this country are now requiring a paper trail for electronic voting machine ballots. But in Maryland, that kind of common sense and concern about our democracy has hit a roadblock."


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

A written transcript follows...

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

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San Diego County Registrar Mikel Haas is Still Being Allowed to Get Away With Screwing the Very Voters He's been Entrusted to Serve...
By Brad Friedman on 7/26/2006 11:50am PT  

Blogged on the road by Brad...

Mimi Kennedy, chair of Progressive Democrats of America, makes some noise re: the Busby/Bilbray election fiasco over at Huffington Post yesterday...

Lawless Elections: Sleepovers, Voter Vault and San Diego

Please note that PDA has been on top of this issue from Day 1, proving to be the only large national organization (along with VelvetRevolution.us, of course) to meet this issue with the seriousness that it deserves. For that, they deserve mountains of credit and support in return. Mimi has spoken at most of the CA50 Busby/Bilbray related Townhall Meetings and Press Conferences and has been organizing nationally to fight for accountability on this matter as well as to ensure the same mess won't happen around the country this November.

In other words, they're fighting for electoral integrity now rather than waiting until November. Their efforts should be a model for all groups, nationally and locally, who take election integrity seriously. As I've tried to stress many times, fighting for accountability in Busby/Bilbray now is about accountability across the nation prior to the election.

If there's one thing Busby/Bilbray teaches us, it's how difficult it is to fight for accountability after an election has been held when irresponsible, appointed elections officials like San Diego County Registrar of Voters Mikel Haas are given credibility by the media simply because they have a title before their name. No matter how little they deserve such credibility and no matter how illegally and irresponsibly they administer an election against the best interests of the very voters they are supposed to be serving.

And now...I'm back off the grid. Don't bother me. I'm trying to notice trees and mountains and the sky. (When the phone's not ringing...urgh...)

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