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'Green News Report' 12/18/14
  w/ Brad & Desi
Nothin' but good news for a change! - NY bans fracking!; Obama protects AK's Bristol Bay!; PLUS: More indictments for 'Freedom Industries' in WV toxic chemical spill!...
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Brad on Hartmann Radio: Wrapping Up a Few More Election 2014 Races
Yes, some of us are still paying attention.
Plus: A BRAD BLOG 'Programming Note'...
'Green News Report' 12/16/14
  w/ Brad & Desi
Congress wraps for year w/ GOP anti-enviro initiatives to be signed by Prez; UN summit wraps up in Peru - ALL nations are in for Paris; PLUS: Another Bush, another climate denier...
Previous GNRs: 12/11/14 - 12/9/14 - Archives...
Bloomberg Editors Refuse to Correct Inaccurate, Misleading Photo ID Editorial
Read the 'mind-boggling' responses to BRAD BLOG's emailed explanation of blatant errors and inaccuracies in Francis Barry's op-ed...
Proponents of Oregon GMO Measure 92 Concede Defeat
Adverse court ruling, barring inclusion of 4,600 rejected ballots, signals end of road (for now) of state's most expensive campaign, decided by just 800 votes out of 1.5 million cast...
'Green News Report' 12/11/14
  w/ Brad & Desi
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The Clint Curtis Story, Ten Years Later: A KPFK 'BradCast' Special Edition
It's been 10 years since we broke the whistleblower's claim about vote-rigging software, Rep. Tom Feeney (R) and more. So it seemed a good time to catch up with him...
SOLVED: Mystery that Flipped Maine Senate Election!
21 'phantom ballots' flipped the results of a Nov. 4th state Senate election from D to R. But a dramatic turn of events and hand-counted paper ballots have now resolved the mystery...
'Green News Report' 12/9/14
  w/ Brad & Desi
Super Typhoon Hagupit blows 2014 into record books; Doesn't look good for KXL, if Obama on Colbert Report can be believed; PLUS: Rich v. Poor divisions stall UN climate talks...
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Bad News for Fox 'News' Viewers: 'Fox & Friends' Calls for Voter Literacy Tests
If they had to pass a test on American history and government, Fox 'News' viewers, as studies show, would be in big, big trouble...
Thousands of Ballots Excluded from Oregon's GMO Ballot Measure 'Recount'
Proponents charge interference by out-of-state corporate opponents, state's failure to count legal ballots due to 'signature problems'...
NC Repubs Trying to Run-Out Clock on Voter Suppression Lawsuit (Again)?
Plaintiffs charge state attempt to reschedule next summer's federal trial 'unsupportable', 'disingenuous'...
'Green News Report' 12/4/14
Biggest German utility spins off fossil fuel assets; Fossil fuel biz running scared? FL punishes homeowners for not polluting; PLUS: MSNBC's Big Coal infomercial...
House Judiciary Letter Suggests Impeachment for Wife-Beating Judge
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'Green News Report' 12/2/14
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'Recount', Concerns in AZ U.S. House Race
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'KPFK' BradCast: Maine Mystery, Ferguson Fury and Thanks for Something
'My thanks to all of you this Thanksgiving which, as a few callers reminded me, isn't nearly as terrible as it seems'...
Mysterious Ballots Flip Maine Senate Recount Result From Democratic to Republican
21 'phantom' ballots appear out of nowhere in tiny Maine town, reverse results of very close state contest...
'Recount' for Oregon's GMO Ballot Measure
Fewer than 900 votes separate 'Yes' from 'No' on 'Right to Know' Measure 92, out of more than 1.5 million paper ballots tallied by computers statewide in Nov. 4 election...
'Green News Report' 11/25/14
Cuomo blames meteorologists for his Buffalo storm fail; Canada protests another tar sands pipeline, lead's world in deforestation; PLUS: World Bank's dire warning...
No Indictment in Ferguson Shooting
A few thoughts on the St. Louis County Prosecutor's extraordinary spectacle and miscarriage of justice in the killing of Michael Brown...
NATIONWIDE STUDY FINDS ALMOST NO VOTER FRAUD
Just 10 cases of in-person impersonation in all 50 states since 2000...
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'Democracy's Gold Standard'
Hand-marked, hand-counted ballots...
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GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal 2012...
VA GOP VOTER REG FRAUDSTER OFF HOOK
Felony charges dropped against VA Republican caught trashing voter registrations before last year's election. Did GOP AG, Prosecutor conflicts of interest play role?...

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

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

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

ALL TOGETHER: ROVE, SPROUL, KOCHS, RNC
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...


But Secretary Bowen Says Board of Supes Proposed 'Ground Rules' for Test 'Overly Narrow,' 'Would Prove Little and Give Voters False Sense of Security'
Supervisor Stone's Hope for SoS Participation in '1000 to 1' Bet with Election Integrity Advocates under Unilateral, Unrealistic Restrictions Flatly Rejected by State's New Election Chief...
By Brad Friedman on 2/26/2007 4:33pm PT  

California's new Secretary of State, Debra Bowen, has flatly rejected a request from Riverside County, CA County Supervisor Jeff Stone to participate in a "hack test" challenge originally proposed to Election Integrity Advocates in response to their concerns about security and accuracy for the county's electronic touch-screen voting machines, The BRAD BLOG has learned.

In a letter sent to Stone last week obtained by The BRAD BLOG (posted in full at the end of this article), Secretary Bowen found that though there was no state law to prohibit such a test, her office would not participate, in part due to the narrow restrictions initially insisted upon by Supervisor Stone.

In her reply to a letter sent in early January to outgoing Secretary of State Bruce McPherson just days before he would leave office, Bowen wrote, "I am not aware of any state law that would prohibit the type of security test that you described in your letter." Unlike Bowen, the former SoS had been seen as far more favorable towards relaxed security issues for electronic voting.

As The BRAD BLOG originally reported last December, Stone had initially challenged local Election Integrity advocates "a thousand to one," during a public hearing, that a programmer would be unable to "manipulate" the county's voting system.

In her letter to McPherson Bowen joined other computer security professionals who had previously rejected Stone's unilateral suggestions for ground rules, calling them "overly narrow," potentially giving voters a "false sense of security." Stone had written to the former SoS that just "15 minutes would be allotted" for the test and the programmer who accepted the challenge --- noted computer security expert Harri Hursti --- would be prohibited from using any tools or reaching around the back of the machine. "In every sense," Stone wrote, "he would be like any voter on Election Day approaching a voting unit at the polls."

Bowen, however, balked at Stone's unilateral ground rules, writing in response...

While I appreciate and applaud your goal of increasing the voters' confidence in the systems they use to cast their ballots, an overly narrow test such as the one you have constructed would, at best, prove very little and, at worst, give voters a false sense of security. Your demonstration, if the results are as you expect, can prove only that it is difficult to successfully tamper with voting equiopment in a limited time frame in a polling place setting if poll workers have the ability to preclude voters from taking certain actions (e.g., reaching around the back of the machine) and/or bringing certain items (e.g., tools) into the voting booth with them.

As you know, voting equipment is subject to tampering in a wide range of settings.

This test you have proposed wouldn't address the issue of whether a someone who can reach around the back of the machine undetected or can bring a tool into the voting booth without being noticed by a poll worker will be able to gain access to the machine.

As well, Bowen also highlighted the point made by Election Integrity Advocates, computer security professionals, and even the Baker/Carter "Blue Ribbon" National Election Reform Commission that made the point that the greatest threat to e-voting security likely comes from election insiders, such as officials or poll workers who have been allowed to take pre-programmed, election-ready systems home with them in the days prior to the election as allowed by Riverside County.

Such insider access is seen as a far greater threat to security than that from voters on Election Day. As Bowen wrote in reply...

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

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Comparison of Voting Data from 2004 to 2006 Shows Hispanic Undervote Plunged 69% as the 'Civil Rights' Case for DREs Continues to Fall Apart
ALSO: New Concerns Emerge About Racial Profiling vis a vis Touch-Screen Voting Systems...
By Brad Friedman on 2/26/2007 11:50am PT  

"We were looking for any impact the change to paper ballots may have had on New Mexico’s historically high undervote rate. When we found the dramatic drop in Native American precincts, we were shocked," says New Mexico's Theron Horton. The Election Defense Alliance (EDA) activist added, "something was going on with the DREs in those precincts in 2004."

Something indeed.

Details now out from New Mexico reveal that undervote rates dropped precipitously in both Native American and Hispanic areas after the state moved from DRE (Direct Recording Electronic touch-screen) voting systems in 2004 to paper-based optical-scan systems in 2006. In Native American areas, undervote rates plummeted some 85%. In Hispanic communities, the rate dropped by 69% according to the precinct data reviewed by EDA, VotersUnite.org and VoteTrustUSA.org.

Ellen Theisen, then-Executive Director of VotersUnite.org, reviewed the original high undervote rates in the state after the 2004 elections, but hadn't broken it down to compare DRE/touch-screen vs. Op-Scan precincts. "When I heard of Theron’s work," Theisen says in today's press release, "I performed the comparison, and found that it’s the paper ballots that made the difference in the minority precincts.”

New Mexico banned the use of DREs across the state after their disastrous experience with Sequoia touch-screen voting machines during the 2004 Presidential Election. They now require a paper ballot for every vote cast statewide.

As he signed the bill which banned DREs into law in early 2006, New Mexico's Gov. Bill Richardson wrote a letter to Election Officials in all 50 states, warning that while "some believe that computer touch screen machines are the future of electoral systems...the technology simply fails to pass the test of reliability."

"One person, one vote is in jeopardy if we do not act boldly and immediately," Richardson implored, while decrying the failures of DREs in his state and supporting paper ballots. "When a vote is cast, a vote should be counted," he wrote.

The BRAD BLOG has reported on the urgent need to ban disenfranchising DRE voting systems --- with or without a so-called "paper trail" --- from all American elections.

Here's an easy to understand graph from the short, two-page report [PDF] published on the New Mexico data over the weekend along with the raw data at VotersUnite.org:

Any questions?

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

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By Brad Friedman on 2/22/2007 1:06pm PT  

San Francisco is considering "upgrading" their voting systems to use Sequoia machines. They are demanding that the company publicly disclose their software source code for all to see. It's called transparency. That's a good thing.

But Sequoia is refusing. Yesterday, there was another discussion/debate on the topic at an SF Board of Supes hearing. The San Francisco Examiner reported this laugh line from the Sequoia spokeshole:

Steven Bennet, a Sequoia representative, said Sequoia won't agree to public disclosure [of source code on voting machines] since it would "jeopardize the security to all of our customers in California and across the country."

For those just joining the fun, who may be unfamiliar with guffaw-worthiness of Bennet's claim about concern for the security of his company's shitty voting systems, we'll refer you to this small sampling of previous relevant BRAD BLOG articles:

...Along with a heads up that we'll have more --- much more --- on Sequoia's "concerns" about the security of their voting systems (or lack thereof) in a detailed investigative report in the very near future...

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New Jersey Attorney to Ask Judge for Decertification of Company's 'AVC Advantage' System After Machines Found Untested by State
Princeton Professor Paid $86 For Online Purchase of 5 Machines That a NJ County Paid $40,000 for...
By John Gideon on 2/10/2007 10:52pm PT  

Guest Blogged by John Gideon, with additional reporting by Brad Friedman

"We can take a version of Sequoia's software program and modify it to do something different --- like appear to count votes, but really move them from one candidate to another. And it can be programmed to do that only on Tuesdays in November, and at any other time. You can't detect it," Princeton's Professor of Computer Science Andrew Appel explains in New Jersey's Star-Ledger today.

Like Diebold's touch-screen machines before them, Sequoia's voting machines have now been found to be hackable in seconds by a Princeton University professor who says the systems could be "easily...rigged to throw an election." Someone may wish to let the folks in Riverside County, CA, know since County Supervisors there recently issued a "thousand to one" bet that their Sequoia voting systems couldn't be manipulated.

In the same report, it was revealed that an attorney has filed suit, claiming the Sequoia AVC Advantage Direct Recording Electronic (DRE) voting machines used in 18 of New Jersey's 21 counties were never reviewed by the state before they were improperly certified for use and that Princeton's Appel was able to acquire five Sequoia voting machines for only $86. The same machines were recently purchased by the state for $8,000 apiece.

According to the Star-Ledger...

[Attorney Penny] Venetis filed legal papers Friday claiming the state never certified some 10,000 Sequoia AVC Advantage machines as secure or reliable as required by law.

"There is zero documentation --- no proof whatsoever --- that any state official has ever reviewed Sequoia machines," Venetis, co-director of the Rutgers Constitutional Litigation Clinic, said in an interview. "This means you cannot use them. ... These machines are being used to count most of the votes in the state without being tested in any way, shape or form."

Venetis argues that the state certification is in violation of NJ state law which says such systems must "correctly register and accurately count all votes cast," be "of durable construction" to be used "safely, efficiently, and accurately."

The lack of documentation and testing, however, is hardly the only problem, as reported by the paper today. "Had the machines been tested," Election Integrity advocates have found, "they would have proved to be a hacker's dream."

Princeton Computer Science Professor Andrew Appel revealed that he bought 5 of the Advantage voting machines from an on-line government equipment clearinghouse for a total of $86. Virtually identical machines were bought in 2005 by Essex County New Jersey for $8,000 per machine.

"Appel had to submit only minimal personal information and a cashier's check to close the deal," the Star-Ledger reports. He and his team then put the 5 machines to good use...

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

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The California County Supervisor Continues to Hide Behind Unrealistic 'Conditions' on His Sequoia Voting Machine 'Hack Challenge'
COLUMNIST: 'A test that doesn't allow the hacker to work on the machines as handled prior to the election and after it is no real test at all.'
By Brad Friedman on 1/18/2007 5:14pm PT  

There were two fresh articles this week in the media on the Riverside Hack Challenge as initially reported by The BRAD BLOG after the throw-down by Riverside County Supervisor Jeff Stone to Election Integrity Advocates just before the holidays in early December.

You'll recall he bet "a thousand to one" that the county's touch-screen Sequoia voting system could not be hacked. He did so during a public meeting on video tape. If you don't recall, we'll summarize as briefly as we can. He challenged and the Election Integrity Advocates accepted, as noted voting machine hacker and computer security expert Harri Hursti agreed to take the challenge, and then Stone and the rest of the Riverside Supervisors began to go wobbly. Stone even went so far as to invent ridiculous, unrealistic, unilateral conditions for the hack test in a desperate letter sent to then-outgoing Secretary of State Bruce McPherson, in an apparent hope for a life line from the county's old, but now out-of-power, state ally up in Sacramento. He doesn't appear to have gotten one. The new SoS Debra Bowen's office has informally told The BRAD BLOG they see no legal hurdles to such an independent test of voting machine security.

But with internationally respected computer security experts such as Hursti and Dr. Herbert F. Thompson of Security Innovation (the author of some 12 books on the topic including How to Break Software Security: Effective Techniques for Security Testing and The Software Vulnerability Guide) and others having pointed out that Stone's unilaterally created conditions meant to simulate an attempted hack by a voter on election day were silly, unrealistic, and not the way such a penetration test would ever be carried out in the real world, Stone continues to cower behind them as reported by both media reports this week.

In doing so, Stone is tacitly admitting, of course, that his county's electronic voting systems --- which the Board of Supervisors and Riverside Registrar of Voters Barbara Dunmore have devoutly declared to be "secure" --- are, in fact, anything but.

They know damned well they are not. And their evidence-free claims to the contrary over the last 10 years or so are revealed as little more than unsubstantiated hot air now that their true lack of confidence in their own voting systems has been put on display for the world.

As they well know --- as do the Election Integrity advocates on the ground in Riverside --- the real threat to unsecured, hackable Electronic Voting Machines comes from insiders. That much has been written about time and again by computer security experts and in any number of reports on the topic. Even the biased and partisan and pro-electronic voting machine Baker/Carter Commission admitted as much when their final report on National Election Reform said, "Software can be modified maliciously before being installed into individual voting machines. There is no reason to trust insiders in the election industry any more than in other industries."

Revealed along with Stone's disingenuous "condition" in his letter to McPherson, that the hack tester may not "reach around the back of the machine" --- (Stone may have forgotten when he made his challenge initially that The BRAD BLOG had long ago reported that voters could vote as many times as they wanted on Sequoia touch-screen systems by merely pressing a yellow button on the back of the machine) --- the folks in Riverside have exposed themselves as knowing full well about the unreliability of their crappy, unsecured voting system.

Unless Stone allows a legitimate security penetration test to be held on his systems, as would occur in the commercial world for any such mission-critical, secure system, he is signaling to his constituents, the state of California, and America that even he has no confidence in the security of the equipment supplied to his voters to exercise their precious democratic franchise.

Two more reporters picked up the shameful tale this week in local media.

The Desert Sun's Nicole C. Brambila filed a short piece on Sunday headlined "Hacking debate gains traction" in which Stone and his pusillanimous peeps once again re-iterate the phony conditions for "no tools and no dismantling the machine. And, the hacker has to infiltrate the system in 15 minutes, the estimated time it takes a voter to do his or her civic duty."

We laugh knowingly in Stone's general direction. Even as he likely cries inside.

Of fresh note in Brambila's piece are these final grafs...

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Debra Bowen Appoints Lowell Finley of Election Integrity Watchdog Group VoterAction.org to Role of 'Deputy SoS for Voting Systems Technology and Policy'
[UPDATED] Critics of E-Voting Hail News as 'Collosal Suprise,' Very Good for Voters, Very Bad for the Nation's Electronic Voting Machine Companies...
By Brad Friedman on 1/8/2007 2:31pm PT  

It may not be a very good day in the corporate offices at Diebold, but The BRAD BLOG has learned some big news that may well indicate today is a very good day indeed for the voters of America and specifically in California.

As incoming Sec. of State Debra Bowen was sworn in to her new office just moments ago, The BRAD BLOG can now reveal that one of the nation's top critics of unverifiable electronic voting systems --- and a key player across several states in the legal battles against voting machine companies such as Diebold, ES&S, Sequoia Voting Systems, and Hart Intercivic --- is today being named by the new California Sec. of State Debra Bowen as Deputy SoS for Voting Systems Technology and Policy.

Lowell Finley, the lead attorney for the non-partisan voting machine legal watchdog organization VoterAction.org, will be named to the position today.

In his new capacity, Finley will oversee testing and certification for all voting machine technology in the State of California. In a phone call this morning, Finley confirmed that he would be working closely in his new role with key national associations like the National Institute for Science and Technology (NIST) and the U.S. Elections Assistance Commission (EAC).

E-voting critics and at least one California Registrar of Voters have hailed both the swearing in of Bowen as SoS and her appointment of Finley, expressing delight to The BRAD BLOG over the news, characterizing it as a "colossal surprise" and a "very, very good sign for the future of voters' rights in California."

America's voting machine companies are less likely to feel quite as happy about the news.

Finley and VoterAction have filed a number of landmark lawsuits in several states, including in California, over the past year or so, demanding an immediate halt to the use and purchase of Direct Recording Electronic (DRE/touch-screen) voting systems and decertification of many of those systems, as well as improved processes for certification of such systems.

VoterAction is one of over 30 Election Reform organizations who recently went on record with an open letter to Members of Congress demanding federal legislation requiring a paper ballot for every vote cast in America. Such legislation would effectively ban the use of DRE systems, with or without a so-callled "Voter Verified Paper Trail" (VVPAT).

Bowen has been a dogged critic of former Secretary of State Bruce McPherson during her candidacy and in her role overseeing the Elections Committee as a California State Senator. She has criticized his lack of oversight and lax testing procedures, and has championed a "Voters' Bill of Rights" for the Golden State.

While a suit by VoterAction.org filed against former SoS McPherson and several CA Registrars of Voting --- concerning McPherson's certification of Diebold TSx touch-screen systems --- is still pending in state court, the disposition of that suit will likely change due to the fact that the lead defendant, McPherson, is no longer in office.

The Berkeley-based attorney Finley --- also one of the attorneys representing voter plaintiffs in the contested election in Florida's 13th Congressional district in Sarasota --- had one of his most recent and notable successes last September, when a Colorado judge ordered a complete review of certification procedures for voting machines in the state. The court found the official placed in charge of testing and certification didn't have the qualifications necessary, and performed little or no testing. That man, John Gardner, was appointed by former CO Sec. of State Donetta Davidson, who has been appointed by George W. Bush to head the U.S. Elections Assistance Commission.

The news of Finley's appointment will undoubtedly be of concern to the major voting machine companies that received little oversight from the former Sec. of State McPherson.

"I wish I was a fly on the wall in the offices at Diebold as they learn of this appointment. I'm sure jaws will be dropping and damage control will be ramping up," John Gideon of election watchdog organization VotersUnite.org told us today. (Gideon is also a frequent Guest Blogger here at The BRAD BLOG.) ...

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

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Sends Letter to Outgoing CA Sec. of State Attempting to Create New Conditions for Hack Test! Computer Security Experts Deride!
EXCLUSIVE: Riverside County Supervisor Jeff Stone's Complete Letter to SoS Bruce McPherson
By Brad Friedman on 1/5/2007 2:16am PT  

In a letter obtained by The BRAD BLOG, Riverside County, California, Supervisor Jeff Stone attempts to move the goal posts concerning the ill-considered challenge he issued to Election Integrity advocates in December during a public, video-taped meeting.

The letter, sent by Stone on Wednesday to outgoing California Secretary of State Bruce McPherson, attempts to unilaterally create unrealistic (some might say desperate) conditions for a proposed hack test of the county's electronic touch-screen voting machines, made by Sequoia Voting Systems. When Stone initially issued the challenge, he included no such ground rules.

Computer scientists and security experts interviewed by The BRAD BLOG, as well as a number of reports and studies from nationally-recognized bodies, understand what Stone apparently doesn't: the major threat to voting machine malfeasance comes not from a voter walking up to a voting system on Election Day, but rather from insiders who are easily able to gain unsupervised access to the machines.

The letter to McPherson from Stone is posted in full at the end of this article.

As we reported in mid-December, Stone had challenged Election Integrity advocates from Democracy for America-Temecula Valley, during a public meeting of the County Supervisors, to bring in a programmer willing to attempt a hack of Riverside's voting system. His offer was simply "to set up an appointment with one of our machines and I’d like him or her [the programmer] to verify that they can manipulate that machine."

At the time, Stone also said that he was willing to "bet a thousand to one that they cannot do it." (A transcript of the entire, very brief exchange was posted in full in our initial report of the incident, along with links to two different video tapes of the encounter.)

The challenge was accepted the following week by the activists, who announced that noted Finnish computer security expert Harri Hursti had volulnteered to perform the tests. Hursti previously hacked a paper-based Diebold optical-scan voting system in Leon County, Florida, at the end of 2005, and helped to discover alarming vulnerabilities in Diebold touch-screen systems a few months later in Emery County, Utah.

At the same time, a number of other election integrity advocates announced they would stake $1000 for charity on the bet against Stone's $1 million.

Stone's challenge, as seen in the videos and transcript, specified no ground rules for the hack test, despite what Stone indicates in his letter to McPherson. The Secretary of State recently lost his election bid to the incoming Debra Bowen, who will take office this coming Monday. McPherson had been much criticized for his lax testing of voting systems and his close relationship with a number of voting machine companies such as Diebold. He had also been quite friendly with the all-Republican Board of Supervisors in Riverside, The BRAD BLOG has learned from sources on the ground. Bowen has been an outspoken critic of McPherson's rubber-stamp certification of electronic voting systems in the state as well as the lack of adequate security standards specified for their use.

In his letter --- notably sent to McPherson and not to Bowen --- Stone creates a number of ground rules which were neither specified at the time of the challenge, nor the norm for standard security and vulnerability testing of computer software and hardware. He incorrectly characterizes the December exchange with Election Integrity advocate Maxine Ewig this way, unilaterally creating absurd conditions for the testing in the process...

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

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(Might Have Been #1, But Diebold Handled the Vote Tabulation)
By Brad Friedman on 12/27/2006 1:03pm PT  

Tech Mag PCWorld named E-Voting #3 on their list of "The 21 Biggest Technology Mistakes of 2006"...

3. Hacking the Vote
Are electronic voting machines insecure? In May, security researchers discovered a previously unknown backdoor in Diebold's AccuVote-TS touch-screen voting machines that could allow an attacker to manipulate votes, cause malfunctions, or create a 'voting virus' that spreads from machine to machine--all in under a minute and with little fear of detection. Meanwhile, Princeton researchers also found Diebold's touch-screen machines could be opened with the same kind of key used for hotel mini-bars, offering easy access to the machine's memory card. Diebold promised to fix the vulnerability eventually, but also said they weren't too worried. Why? Because such hacks would require "evil and nefarious election officials"--who don't exist.

We feel much better now.

Big Mistake: Allowing insecure voting machines anywhere near this country's electoral process.

Bigger Mistake: Electing Homer Simpson president--which might happen if we keep using these machines.

We've come a long way, baby.

And we also take year-end great pride in that folks look back on Princeton's Diebold Virus Hack as one of the seminal moments in this whole sordid affair. (The machine used in the research was a DRE/touch-screen system supplied to VelvetRevolution.us by a BRAD BLOG source and we then gave it to Princeton for their now-infamous study.)

First they ignore you.
Then they laugh at you.
Then they attack you.
Then you win.

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By Brad Friedman on 12/19/2006 9:05am PT  

Concerning Riverside County, California, Supervisor Jeff Stone's public, video taped "thousand to one" bet to Election Integrity advocates that they couldn't find a hacker who could manipulate the county's Sequoia voting system, and the acceptance of that challenge by noted Finnish hacker of Diebold systems Harri Hursti, the Press Enterprise's Dan Bernstein wrote an amusing column last week which we meant to run previously. Here's a bit of it now in any case...

What will the famed Harri Hursti (reputed defanger of Diebold touch screens) attempt to hack? A Sequoia machine? A vote-counting nerve center? How much time will he have? Will it be a realistic test, proving that nefarious elections workers could pull an inside job?

And if Harri the Hacker succeeds, what then? Sayonara Sequoia? Hello Hanging Chad? And what's this 1,000-to-1 odds business? Would Harri be paid in tax dollars? "I Voted" stickers? Jeff Stone press releases?

Even bigger question: Once Hot Rod Harri has hacked (or gotten thwacked), will we know once and for all that RivCo touch screens are untouchable or need to be touched up?

Also of note, last week the unapologetically rightwing San Diego Union-Tribune also ran an item on the challenge. Though it ran prior to the announcement that Hursti was happy to play along. We don't believe they've followed it up since with the additional news.

Still waiting for Stone's reply to the acceptance of the challenge, on Hursti's behalf, by the DFA-Temecula/SAVE R VOTE folks. Last week, Stone and the rest of the RivCo supes were going wobbly on the offer. We'll see if they wobble off the cliff entirely (and admitting, in the bargain, that their voting systems are not secure) before or after the holidays. The final public meeting, until after the new year, is this morning. We'll let ya know if anything of note comes about.

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Press Coverage Reveals Board of Supervisors, Sequoia Laying Groundwork to Try and Wriggle Out of '1000 to 1' Bet Their Voting Machines Can't Be Hacked...
By Brad Friedman on 12/13/2006 3:23pm PT  

As usual, we scooped everyone yesterday with our scintillating coverage of noted computer security expert/programmer Harri Hursti's agreement to accept the challenge thrown down by Riverside County, California, Supervisor Jeff Stone to allow someone to come in an attempt to "manipulate" the county's electronic voting equipment made by Sequoia Voting Systems.

The local media in Southern California, however, have now been fairly quick to jump into the game as well with several articles on the matter so far today. Their reports reveal that both the County Board of Supervisors and Sequoia, both as expected, are beginning to try and create some wiggle room to back out from the "thousand to one" bet Stone made publicly last week to local Election Integrity advocates.

Several national Election Integrity individuals and watchdog organization VelvetRevolution.us (VR) have staked $1000 on the bet and have helped to facilitate the participation of Hursti. None of the press coverage dealt with that point. [DISCLOSURE: The BRAD BLOG is a co-founder of VelvetRevolution.us and would be more than willing to discuss that aspect with any such media, if they wish. We can be reached here.]

Stone's video-taped shot-from-the-hip "bet" to local advocate Maxine Ewig, allowing that he would arrange with a programmer to "set up an appointment with one of our machines and...verify that they can manipulate that machine," was issued during a public meeting of the Board of Supervisors last week. (Streaming video of the exchange can be seen here, a text transcript is here.)

Stone also added, "And maybe we should bring the media in and let’s see if your programmer can manipulate that machine. My guess is that it is not gonna happen, but I’m willing to take a chance on that."

Well, the "media" are "in" for the moment. Yet reports in the news today already indicate that the rest of Riverside County's all-Republican 5-person Board of Supervisors and the voting machine company, Sequoia, may be less confident than Stone that their equipment can stand up to any actual independent security analysis such as one that Hursti would be likely bring.

For the record, our call to Stone yesterday for comment has still gone unreturned.

Press reports today reveal that both the board, the company --- and even Stone --- are already laying the groundwork for several "outs" for themselves. Anyone surprised? Let's take a look...

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

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Harri Hursti --- The Lead Programmer Who Hacked Diebold Systems in Both Florida and Utah --- Looking Forward to Testing the Security Vulnerability of Riverside County's Systems!
Election Integrity Individuals, Group, Stake $1000 for Charity on Supervisor Jeff Stone's Offer!
By Brad Friedman on 12/12/2006 3:47pm PT  

An expert computer security programmer who successfully manipulated the results of a mock election held on a Diebold optical-scan voting machine in Florida, as well as finding major security vulnerabilities on a Diebold touch-screen system in Utah, has agreed to meet a public challenge to "manipulate" a Sequoia voting system in Riverside County, California.

Finnish computer security expert Harri Hursti, who along with Dr. Herbert H. Thompson
of Security Innovation accomplished the landmark Diebold voting machine manipulations, has agreed to meet the open challenge put forward by Riverside County Supervisor Jeff Stone during a video-taped public board meeting last week.

Several national Election Integrity individuals, along with the non-partisan watchdog organization VelvetRevolution.us, have agreed to stake $1000 to meet Stone's "thousand to one" bet that the county's voting machines, made by Sequoia Voting Systems, can indeed be manipulated.

As The BRAD BLOG reported last week, the gauntlet was thrown down at the county's Board of Supervisors meeting when, during the public comment period, Stone issued his challenge to Maxine Ewig, an Election Integrity advocate from the SAVE R VOTE project of Democracy for America (DFA) - Temecula Valley.

(Our original story linked to a video of the exchange as posted on the County's website. A different camera angle on the challenge, revealing an interesting expression or two from the County's Executive Officer, Larry Parrish, is now posted here in Streaming Flash Video, appx. 2 and a half minutes.)

The SAVE R VOTE members were on hand at the meeting to express a series of concerns about the security and accuracy of the county's voting systems in light of problems which plagued the county's 2006 election. The county has decided to create a "Blue Ribbon Commission" to look into reported problems, but announced today that they will not be including any of the Election Integrity advocate citizens from SAVE R VOTE on the panel.

After denials from several Supervisors that there were serious security concerns in their voting systems, DFA's Maxine Ewig had informed the board during the public comment period last week that she had been told by a programmer that they "had not seen any machine or program that could not be manipulated."

In response, Stone interrupted to make his challenge, offering "to set up an appointment with one of our machines" in order to "verify that [a programmer] can manipulate that machine."

"I'm gonna bet a thousand to one that they cannot do it," Stone said, before adding, "we should bring the media in" to witness the attempted manipulation.

It wouldn't be the first time Hursti hacked a voting system in front of the media. Both he and Thompson were seen performing a now-infamous Diebold optical-scan system hack in Leon County, Florida, in the recent HBO documentary film Hacking Democracy.

Hursti, writing to The BRAD BLOG from Shanghai where he is currently working on another project, decried the lack of "hack testing" for electronic voting systems now used across America and welcomed the opportunity to test Riverside's Sequoia system.

"It is important that all vendors' makes and models are tested against obvious attacks," he wrote.

Prior to the final confirmation of Hursti's agreement to participate in the hack test, DFA - Temecula Valley issued a press release this morning lauding Stone for the opportunity being presented for independent experts to test the county's voting system vulnerabilities. (Complete press release posted at end of this article.)

In an email sent to The BRAD BLOG earlier today, Ewig wrote that she was "pleased [to have] Hursti's commitment to come to Riverside County to demonstrate the vulnerability" of the Sequoia systems.

Security Innovation's Thompson --- who worked with Hursti, along with election watchdog group BlackBoxVoting.org, on the hack of the Diebold optical-scan system in Leon County, FL, last December as well as the touch-screen system last March in Emery County, UT --- was also excited at the opportunity to examine Riverside's voting system....

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

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Challenges Election Integrity Advocates to 'See if Your Programmer Can Manipulate That Machine' at Public, Video Taped Meeting!
Invites Media to Witness Challenge!
By Brad Friedman on 12/6/2006 7:54pm PT  

Riverside County, California, Supervisor Jeff Stone laid down the gauntlet to Election Integrity advocates at a public meeting on Tuesday, offering to bet them "a thousand to one" they can't hack into the county's electronic voting machines made by Sequoia Voting Systems.

Near the end of a contentious meeting of the Board of Supervisors, in which the county's five person board accepted the final canvass of results from the November 7th election from Riverside County Registrar Barbara Dunmore, Stone made his challenge to one of a number of activists from the SAVE R VOTE election watchdog coalition. The advocates were on hand to give testimony about problems they witnessed during the recent election, to present their own report to the board (PDFs: Report, Photos#1, Photos#2), and ask that at least one of their members be appointed to a "Blue Ribbon Commission" being convened by the county to investigate problems during the election.

In the videotaped exchange with Stone, Maxine Ewig, a co-founder of Democracy for America - Temecula Valley and a SAVE R VOTE member, tells the county supervisors that she was informed by a programmer that they "had not seen any machine or program that could not be manipulated."

In response, Stone interrupted Ewig's testimony to offer his challenge.

"I'd like to challenge that programmer," Stone says in the video clip (complete transcript of the exchange at the bottom of this article), "and I'd like to set up an appointment with one of our machines and I'd like him or her to verify that they can manipulate that machine. And I'm gonna bet a thousand to one that they cannot do it...I'll make that challenge."

Stone's stunning challenge continued with an invitation to the media --- reporters from several local papers were on hand --- to witness the attempted voting machine manipulation.

"I'm challenging you to challenge her or him and I...I believe we can make that happen," he said. "And maybe we should bring the media in and let's see if your programmer can manipulate that machine. My guess is that it is not gonna happen, but I'm willing to take a chance on that."

How far Stone may be "willing to take" that "chance" remains to be seen. In the wake of the news, which was reported today briefly by both the Desert Sun and the Press Enterprise, several national Election Integrity advocates have informed The BRAD BLOG that they would be willing to put some money on the line towards accepting Stone's challenge. We hope to have more details on that as the matter develops.

Riverside is the first county in the nation to use touch-screen voting systems. Local Election Integrity advocates have, for some time, been waging a fight for more transparency, security, and accountability from the county and, specifically, the county's Registrar of Voters Barbara Dunmore.

SAVE R VOTE member Tom Courbat was on hand for the proceedings. Courbat is one of the activists who, as The BRAD BLOG broke in the days just prior to the November 7th election, helped reveal the "Yellow Button" on the back of Sequoia touch-screen machines which could allow a voter to cast as many votes as they wish on those systems.

He complained during his testimony to the board about the planned make up of the county's "Blue Ribbon Commission." The county is convening the panel to investigate several failures during the recent Election and the "operational problems of the registrar of voters office," as Courbat told us tonight.

Courbat suggested to the board that they appoint at least one citizen Election Integrity advocate to the panel after, earlier in the meeting, a board member had responded to critics by saying they didn't want to include anybody who was predisposed against electronic voting systems.

Courbat countered by suggesting that a mix of those both in favor and against such systems would be a healthy idea for the commission. The board seemed less than moved by the idea, and Ewig then proceeded by opening her own testimony informing the board that members of SAVE R VOTE had not come to this cause originally against electronic voting. Rather, she explained, their current position was based on "their own study over the past two years."

It was then that Stone answered with his challenge. The exchange is available on the county's website via online video here (Scroll to the 2:10:00 mark for the beginning of the exchange. NOTE: This video link may only work in Internet Explorer w/ Media Windows Player. Another video of the same event, from a different camera angle --- with some priceless expressions from at least one of the Supervisors --- is now posted below in Streaming Flash.)


-- Streaming Flash Version...

It is unclear whether or not Stone is aware of either Sequoia's "Yellow Button" issue or, as we reported earlier this year, that Dr. Michael Shamos of Carnegie Mellon University accidentally hacked into a Sequoia system while demonstrating how such systems couldn't be hacked.

Shamos, a supporter of electronic voting systems, was testing Sequoia's voting machines for the commonwealth of Pennsylvania when he was able "in an instant," as it was reported last March, "to transform a handful of votes into thousands."

We'll hope Supervisor Stone has some deep pockets, as he may have to come up with quite a few dollars to back up his "thousand to one" challenge.

A complete text transcript of the short exchange between Supervisor Jeff Stone and Maxine Ewig follows in full...

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

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PLUS: Sequoia's Spokehole Lies Again and Rush Holt Disappoints...
By Brad Friedman on 12/5/2006 2:41am PT  

At a panel discussion this week at Rutgers University, an unusually frank admission was made by an Elections Official. Then, less surprisingly, a Voting Machine company spokesperson told a lie. And finally, Congressman Rush Holt (D-NJ) made a disappointing admission. All according to a report in New Jersey's Herald News.

New Jersey's Passaic County Clerk Karen Brown admitted --- out loud --- at the forum that she has no way to prove votes are counted accurately as reported by her Sequoia DRE [Direct Recording Electronic] touch-screen voting systems, since they employ proprietary software which she has no access to. Even after the election was certified, she expressed reservations:

"How do I prove that all of the votes have been counted properly? How do we determine whether the software is working properly?" Brown asked. "We have to rely on the vendor and their software."

We're happy to see another honest Election Official make herself heard and making a point we've been trying to make here for some time nonetheless. Such officials who tell the truth, out loud, are a far too-rare breed.

But there were problems in Brown's county. Amongst them, two voting districts where results where transferred electronically from the precinct to the clerk's office and the tallies failed to match the vote totals as reported by the machines.

Naturally, the spokeshole from Sequoia refused to take responsibility...For anything...

Michelle Shafer, a Sequoia spokeswoman, said that the company was not the manufacturer of the technology that transmitted the results to the county clerk's office and therefore could not vouch for its performance.

...Before going on to simply lie to the reporter with a few chestnuts or two, circa 2005, which have long since been discredited...

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

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Election Defense Alliance Says 'Major Miscount In U.S. Election' Cost Dems 3 Million Votes Nationwide!
National Exit Poll Once Again Adjusted to Match Vote Totals, Report Says
By Emily Levy on 11/17/2006 1:08pm PT  

Guest blogged by Emily Levy of Velvet Revolution

Election Defense Alliance (EDA), a national election integrity organization, issued a press release yesterday announcing their new report, "Landslide Denied: Exit Polls vs. Vote Count 2006."

According to EDA, the Edison-Mitofsky National Exit Poll, conducted by a consortium of news organizations, showed at 7 p.m. on Election Night an 11.5% vote margin in favor of Dems nationwide. But by 1:00 p.m. on the following day, according to EDA, "[T]he Edison-Mitofsky poll had been adjusted, by a process known as 'forcing,' to match the reported vote totals for the election." The adjusted exit polls showed "a 7.6 percent margin exactly mirroring the reported vote totals."

It was EDA co-founder Jonathan Simon whose foresight in downloading the Edison-Mitofsky exit polls on Election Night 2004 before those polls were adjusted made the discovery of the now-infamous "red shift" possible. Analysis of the original exit polls from 2004 became one of the most compelling bodies of evidence to suggest that the 2004 election was stolen on behalf of George W. Bush.

Now EDA reveals evidence of similar manipulation of this year's election. In his story Clear Evidence 2006 Congressional Election Hacked, executive editor of OpEdNews Rob Kall quotes Simon as saying:

We see evidence of pervasive fraud, but apparently calibrated to political conditions existing before recent developments shifted the political landscape...so 'the fix' turned out not to be sufficient for the actual circumstances...."When you set out to rig an election, you want to do just enough to win. The greater the shift from expectations, (from exit polling, pre-election polling, demographics) the greater the risk of exposure--of provoking investigation. What was plenty to win on October 1 fell short on November 7.

The BRAD BLOG wishes to point out the difference between election "hacking" and "rigging." Hacking can be done by outsiders armed with such difficult-to-obtain weapons as a hotel mini-bar key (in the case of the Diebold TSx) or a finger (in the case of the Sequoia touchscreen machines). Rigging would be done by an insider such as someone working for an electronic voting machine company or a department of elections. The evidence of skewed results in the 2006 Congressional election doesn't specifically prove whether hacking or rigging or both occurred, but certainly magnifies the call for further investigation into irregularities in the 2006 elections. Will this new report help the newly-elected-but-apparently-robbed-of-its-landslide Democratic Majority Congress understand the importance of revamping our election system before 2008?

The next phase of Election Defense Alliance's work will be to analyze results of specific Congressional races. This work will include analysis of exit polls commissioned by Velvet Revolution (of which The BRAD BLOG is a co-founder) and other independent organizations. Perhaps then we will find out how many Democratic (or even Republican) candidates who have been declared losers actually won their races.

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Several Undecided Races Might Have Been Decided by the Number of Voters (Who Should Have Been Allowed to Vote on Paper) Unable to Wait for Voting Machines at One Precinct Alone...
By Brad Friedman on 11/16/2006 1:27pm PT  

Add the Monterey County, California, Acting Registrar of Voters, Claudio Valenzuela, to our ever-growing list of Elections Officials who ought to resign immediately in the wake of extraordinary failures to assure that every legally registered voter who chooses to vote actually gets to vote, and then gets to have that vote counted accurately.

Valenzuela --- who recently replaced the corrupt former Registrar Tony "Trust Me" Anchundo after he was charged with 43 criminal counts --- incredibly instructed poll workers not to give paper ballots to voters despite an order from the Secretary of State prior to the election that any CA voter who wishes to vote on paper may have one --- and despite lines of more than an hour for voters due to problems with the county's crappy new Sequoia electronic touch-screen voting machines.

As smartly reported by the Monterey Weekly today, poll watcher Susan Sisson recounts the story of dozens of voters giving up and leaving without casting a vote in her one precinct alone after she was reprimanded for reminding poll workers that they could/should give a paper ballot to those who wanted them, or those who couldn't afford to wait in line for hours on end.

Despite at least four still-undecided races in Monterey, where one candidate leads by anywhere from 47 to just 14 votes --- few enough that those voters who couldn't afford to wait in long lines for the machines, but could have voted on paper and made the difference in those races at Sisson's precinct alone! --- Valenzuela stands by his horrendous anti-democracy directive to poll workers:

"We did what we could," Valenzuela says. "We trained all of our workers, we gave them what they needed, and they deserve credit for their hard work. Nobody was denied the right to vote. Nobody. If you walked out because you were tired and didn’t want to wait, that was your choice. We can’t do anything about that."

The folks in Monterey ought to be up in arms about this jerk. Should be storming the County Board out there and demanding accountability and this guy's resignation.

Read the full article. It's just amazing what's going on in our electoral system. But it won't change until citizens on the ground demand that it does!

Let's hope the incoming Secretary of State, Debra Bowen, busts some asses about this sort of thing where the failed, disgraced, outgoing SoS, Bruce McPherson, clearly didn't give a damn.

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