Brad takes on a bunch of lies this week that just won't die this week -- from e-cigs to Ann Coulter's voter fraud to 'global cooling' to the death penalty to marriage equality in Mississippi and more...
"...[W]ithout full transparency of results, this fraud would not have been uncovered." - Markos Moulitsas, Daily Kos founder, 6/29/10
There's an interesting bit of news today --- ironically enough, from Daily Kos --- which underscores the importance of citizen access to, and transparency of, election data, at least if anyone ever hopes to be able to root out and/or discover fraud, be it in elections or virtually anything else.
I say "ironically enough," because Daily Kos --- including both its founder Markos Moulitsas and a number of its front-page writers --- have, for years at their site, poo-pooed concerns about election fraud and e-voting by disinforming their readers about the very serious concerns presented by the disastrous election system used in most of the U.S. By marginalizing such concerns as little more than "conspiracy theory," they have continued to ill-serve both their readers' and their own self-interest (that of electing Democrats to office) in the bargain.
More, in a moment, on today's news from Kos himself, accidentally underscoring the long disservice his site has offered to readers on the e-voting front. But first, a personal incident involving hamburgers yesterday also serves to underscore, yet again, a related issue, and why hand-marked paper ballots --- and actually bothering to count them --- is an absolute imperative for Election Integrity...
PRATTVILLE --- District Attorney Randall Houston is investigating possible voting improprieties in Autauga County after someone allegedly gained improper access to the circuit clerk's computer.
At issue is a vote cast in the name of a Prattville man. His name wasn't on the list of final absentee voters Circuit Clerk Whit Moncrief produced the night before the primary election. After the election, the man's name was on the list as having voted absentee.
Houston said he is confident the veracity of the countywide vote tally hasn't been compromised. Autauga County is a strong Republican county, and news of the recount of the GOP nomination for governor has been front page news for the past two weeks.
[Houston said,] "[W]e are in the early stages of the investigation. We have to go where the evidence takes us. We may find other problems as we go forward with this matter."
"I ran a final report of all absentee voters the night before the election and this man's name was not on the list," Moncrief said. "From my recollection and the records at my disposal, this man didn't vote absentee. How his name got on the absentee list following the election is beyond me.
"The only thing I can think of is someone tapped into the computer used for absentees from outside my office."
The computer that records absentee information sits beside Moncrief's desk in his courthouse office. Access is double-password protected, and Moncrief said he hasn't given his passwords to anyone. When the problem regarding the security of the system came to light about mid-week, he said that he changed both of his passwords.
Judge Vic Rawl just released a public statement on the heels of the SC Democratic Party Executive Board's insane rejection yesterday of his protest to the 100% unverifiable ES&S iVotronic touch-screen system's announced "victory" of Alvin Greene to be the state's Democratic nominee for the U.S. Senate. Rawl's statement reads in part:
I wanted you to hear from me that we will not be appealing last night’s decision by the Democratic Executive Committee to reject our protest of the election results. My campaign for the United States Senate has ended.
The issues we raised about the lack of election integrity in South Carolina are real, and they are not going away unless people act. I assure you that I will continue to speak out about our frail and vulnerable election system in the months to come.
Rawl's comments follow on both his own impromptu remarks after yesterday's protest was rejected, and his Campaign Manager Walter Ludwig's barely-contained on-the-record comments following the hearing: "We're certainly disappointed, but the unique circumstances of this election gave us an opportunity to put the specter of voting machines in front of the national public in the strongest way since Bush v. Gore."
As we'll be guest hosting the Mike Malloy Show again for the first week of July, hopefully Rawl and/or Ludwig will be able to join us to explain what the hell happened, what they intend to do about it, and what the hell is wrong with SC's shameful, apparently democracy-hating, Democratic Party Executive Board. (See yesterday's report & live blog of the hearings for all the insane details.)
The South Carolina Democratic Party Executive Board rejected Judge Vic Rawl's official protest to the results of last week's U.S. Senate primary, despite no evidence presented that the results were accurate, and despite Alvin Greene having not even shown up to the protest hearing. Rawl had originally filed his protest based, in large part, on the "well-documented unreliability and unverifiability of the voting machines used in South Carolina."
Greene's election as the Democratic party nominee for the U.S. Senate, to run against incumbent Republican Sen. Jim DeMint, stands. The vote of the Executive Board was 38.5 to 7.5 in favor of rejecting Rawl's protest and upholding the results. Not kidding.
The Rawl campaign presented an impressive five-hour case in Columbia today, including two computer scientists and security experts who both asserted that there was no reasonable explanation for election results other than some kind of voting system malfunction in either the hardware or software. Voters testified that they had trouble selecting Rawl on the ES&S iVotronic touch-screen systems, and that their votes were flipped to Greene. Campaign workers testified that they received calls all throughout Election Day concerning problems with the machines and reports that pollworkers were swapping out sensitive memory cartridges.
Despite the historical record of failure of the ES&S voting system, and numerous state-sponsored studies (in state's other than SC) which all found that the systems are poorly coded and exceptionally vulnerable to malicious manipulation, Rawl's team of computer scientists were not allowed access to the voting system hardware and software in order to examine it for bugs or tampering.
Rawl's attorney instructed the Executive Board that they were required to vote on the protest on the basis of whether the evidence presented in the hearing demonstrated the results to be true and accurate or not. No evidence was presented that the results were accurate, only that they were not. Nonetheless, the SC Democratic Party's Executive Board voted resoundingly to reject Rawl's protest, which the candidate has said he will not appeal.
After the motion was rejected, and the meeting adjourned, Rawl quieted the crowd to say a few words (the following is now transcribed directly from the audio)...
First, some very good news just in: The hearing for the protest to the results of last week's SC Democratic U.S. Senate primary will be streamed live on Thursday at 3pm ET via Live.VicRawl.com.
The protest will be heard by the Executive Board of the South Carolina Democratic Party to consider Judge Vic Rawl's protest to last week's bizarre election.
Second, I'm happy to say that I have finally been able to make contact with the campaign of former state legislator and Circuit Court Judge Vic Rawl. I had a somewhat lengthy conversation earlier today with his campaign manager Walter Ludwig, and continue to be happy to report that it seems they have a very good grasp of the issues at stake --- in relation to the horrific ES&S e-voting system --- in their challenge to the 100% unverifiable election of Alvin Greene in SC's recent Democratic U.S. Senate primary race.
As I noted last night, in discussing Rawl's interview yesterday on Fox, given the sharp learning curve for those unfamiliar with the complex issues involved with e-voting and Election Integrity, they've done an excellent job of getting up to speed, at least inasmuch as possible in the short time they've been forced to become "experts" on the topic.
That, of course, is just another pitfall of using insanely complicated rocket science instead of common sense and eyeballs to add one plus one plus one in our current electoral system. Most candidates with questions about their election results simply can't afford the resources and computer scientists and time needed for the forensic investigation of these systems --- that's if they're even allowed access to the often proprietary trade-secret hardware and software --- following an election and prior to the date by which they must file and argue a legal challenge. That, as opposed to simply examining paper ballots and chain of custody procedures, as would be the case with sane, paper ballot elections.
Ludwig seems to understand just how bad the voting system is that voters were forced to use in SC's recent election, the same system used in dozens of other states despite The BRAD BLOG's best efforts over the past six years to warn of the dangers.
"These machines are incredibly frail and subject to manipulation. They don't work very well." In short, Ludwig told me, "They're crap."...
There are a number of points in Andreas Antonopoulos' article at Network World yesterday with which I respectfully disagree (eg. His assertion that counting paper ballots by hand might take longer than with machines, and nuances in regard to his belief that a federal standard for voting machines is the answer, etc.)
But for someone who doesn't cover the unique circumstances of e-voting exclusively or in great detail, he is essentially right on the money in his general assertions about the insane, 100% unverifiable nature of South Carolina's recent primary election. In regard to the questions about Alvin Greene's impossible-to-prove "win" over Judge Vic Rawl for the Democratic nomination to run for U.S. Senate, he writes, among other things:
How have we reached the point where the only way to audit an election is statistics? Why can't we get a robust, audited and validated election result? The simple answer is that we can, but we choose not to.
[T]he best solution is paper and pencil. It is auditable, secure, repeatable, easy and robust.
I note the above today, largely in response to the dead-enders, who I've begun to hear from yet again of late, who describe folks like me as "Luddites" or somehow "against progress". Those who believe that elections ought to be 100% verifiable by the citizenry --- and that any sort of concealed vote counting, electronic or otherwise, is a grave threat to democracy --- are not "Luddites". We are well-informed realists and patriots.
For the record, I spent some ten years of my life making my living as a computer programmer. Network World's Antonopoulos, author of the magazine's "Security: Risk and Reward" blog, is also senior vice president and founding partner at the the IT consulting and research firm, Nemertes Research. And the bulk of the science on which all of my reporting is based, comes directly from the top computer scientists and security experts in the world.
If anyone would like to call us "Luddites", after all of these years being proven right, again and again, on these issues, bring it on. You're only succeed in making yourself appear grossly ill-informed. Or worse.
[My thanks to "HeartlandLiberal" at dKos for bringing the Network World piece to my attention, and, for kicking back a bit at the many horribly dis-informed and mis-informed Kossacks who have been ignoring and/or poo-pooing these issues for years, to their own shame and disservice.]
Former Circuit Court Judge Vic Rawl's official protest against the results of South Carolina's Democratic U.S. Senate primary election last Tuesday --- when he was purportedly beaten by Alvin Greene, a jobless man who didn't campaign and didn't even have a campaign website --- will focus on what he describes as "systemic issues involving the software of the voting machine," according to the four-term, former state legislator in an interview with Fox "News" today.
The video and transcript of that interview --- in which Rawl displayed a very impressive command of the issues surrounding the 100% unverifiable ES&S iVotronic touch-screen voting machines used in the election --- are posted below. It's well worth reading and/or watching.
But first, Democratic House Majority Whip Rep. James Clyburn (D-SC) also appeared on Fox today where he said, "I believe there was hacking done into that computer." He later added, that because SC used the type of voting machines that have been decertified by so many other states, "maybe somebody wanted machines that were easily hacked into."
Take a look...
Clyburn's comments are remarkable --- certainly for a currently-serving Democratic official, much less one as high ranking as he is. Perhaps his comments will help change the way the bulk of the mainstream media has been covering this issue to date. They've been looking at everything but the obvious potential for computer failure or manipulation, even though Rawl has been going out of his way to point to it --- as we saw in his remarkable statement announcing his protest of the election results filed yesterday, due, in no small part, to "the well-documented unreliability and unverifiability of the voting machines used in South Carolina."
Since speculating on the accuracy of the results, or lack thereof, is all that most of us can do, given the nature of the type of e-voting system in use in SC which offer zero proof of actual winners and losers, there is certainly every reason to believe the election could have been hacked. The state's woeful ES&S system --- both its voting machines and its central tabulators --- has been shown time and again, in scientific report after scientific report, to be easily manipulated, particularly by a well-placed election insider.
That said, there still remain other less nefarious explanations for the results, and it should also be noted that Clyburn got quite a few of the details --- albeit fairly minor ones in the scope of his main point, if rather important to the rest of the country --- wrong...
The local Charleston, South Carolina, NBC affiliate, WCBD, was hoodwinked by someone; apparently it was the SC Election Commission. In the following report, WCBD's Larry Collins says that he has checked on the claim that "there is no independent paper back up from [South Carolina's] touch machines." He then goes on to inaccurately report, presumably from information given to him by the state election commission, that "there is a paper trail" on the state's ES&S iVotronic voting systems...
Collins' reporting is patently inaccurate.
The pieces of paper seen hanging in the background behind him are end of the day reports or possibly some "poll tapes," printed out after polls close, showing the purported tallies from each machine or precinct. They are not auditable "paper trail" records of voters' votes, and they are not verified in any way, shape, or form by the voter.
Those printouts can say absolutely anything, as printed, including the actual vote counts, erroneous vote counts due to machine malfunction or misprogramming, or, as seen in the following Fox "News" clip, vote counts that have been purposely manipulated by tampering and/or the inclusion of a virus implanted on one of the voting machines' memory cards...
Vic Rawl says inexplicable Democratic primary contest casts 'cloud' over state election; Notes 'irregularities', problem reports from voters, poll workers, vows 'electoral reform', calls for 'full and unblinking investigation of overall integrity' of state's ES&S voting system...
UPDATE: 'Burden of proof' on Rawls. Good luck with that.
A formal challenge to the announced results of South Carolina's Democratic primary for the U.S. Senate has now been filed by Judge Vic Rawl, the candidate who wasn't announced the winner by the state's oft-failed, easily-manipulated, 100% unverifiable ES&S e-voting system.
The statement points generally to a number of findings being made by the campaign as independent experts have analyzed the results, voting patterns and problems being reported by poll workers and voters on Election Day where the unknown, unemployed candidate Alvin Greene defeated Rawl on the unverifiable ES&S iVotronic touch-screen voting systems, performing 11 points better on those machines than he did in the paper-based absentee results. The oft-failed, easily-manipulated ES&S election results reporting system gave Greene a 59% to 41% "victory" over Rawl.
Greene did no campaigning, had no name recognition, had no campaign website, faces felony obscenity charges and managed, somehow, according to the electronic results, to best Rawl, a four-term state legislator to win the nomination to face incumbent Republican U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint in this November's general election.
We've covered details and analysis of this bizarre matter in two previous articles since last Tuesday's election:
As you'll see below, Rawl's official statement today reads as an indictment of the state's electronic voting system and, frankly, as a summary of years of The BRAD BLOG's oft-ignored reporting (and warnings) about the ES&S e-voting system's disastrously failed record...
This post is an update to our earlier one today, which highlighted early, unexplained disparities seen by academic experts working on behalf of South Carolina Democrats, between paper-ballot absentee voting results and those from the 100% unverifiable ES&S iVotronic touch-screen systems used on Election Day last Tuesday in South Carolina for the Democratic U.S. Senate primary race between the unheard of, jobless candidate Alvin Greene (who did absolutely no campaigning), and state legislator Vic Rawl (who did).
As we detailed in the previous post, Greene's "victory," thus far, seems to make absolutely no legitimate sense to state Democrats, or anybody else, in truth. The disparities in the voting patterns were described by experts quoted in Politico earlier today as "curious," "staggering," and "red flags," and by Election Integrity experts who we quoted as "clear signs of election fraud." Please read that post first for the full background on this story.
We've already included one update to our previous post, based on a post by Tom Schaller at FiveThirtyEight.com, a site which focuses on statistical analysis of elections. That post examined the possibility of the race factor in Greene's "win" over Rawl as the former is African American while the latter is white. Schaller's analysis of precinct data in the race, however, as compared to non-white registrants in each, found "no relationship between the race of a county's registrants and Greene's performance in that county," thus largely, but not entirely, ruling out race as an explanation for the bizarre results.
While Schaller had posited four existing possibilities for what "could have happened here" in his original article --- including the possibility of "systematic" election fraud --- he has now filed a follow-up report describing the matter as "getting weirder by the hour." His new piece includes a number of reports from other statistical experts which "suggest tampering, or at least machine malfunction, perhaps at the highest level"...
Nobody in the South Carolina Democratic Party had ever heard of Alvin Greene, the jobless candidate for the Democratic U.S. Senate nomination, before he reportedly defeated state legislator Vic Rawl last Tuesday. That, despite the jobless candidate's lack of actual campaigning, campaign website, or even spending any money on a campaign as far as anyone can tell. And there remain questions at this hour, as to where he even came up with the $10,440 filing fee to get on the ballot in the first place. Greene's interview on MSNBC last night is one of the most bizarre ever seen on television (full video posted at end of article).
Unless something changes between now and November, however, Greene's inexplicable victory will pit him against the state's often-controversial, and far-Rightwing Republican incumbent, Sen. Jim DeMint.
But where some have suggested Greene was a "plant" in the race, experts now examining the actual election result data from both SC's unverifiable Election Day touch-screen machines and its electronically counted paper-ballot absentee voting system are noting "curious" and even "staggering" disparities, suggesting what some Election Integrity experts are describing at this hour as "clear signs of ELECTION FRAUD in South Carolina"...
In a burst of judicial activism, the Supreme Court on Tuesday upended the gubernatorial race in Arizona, cutting off matching funds to candidates participating in the state's public campaign finance system. Suddenly, three candidates, including Gov. Jan Brewer, can no longer receive public funds they had counted on to run against a free-spending wealthy opponent.
The court's reckless order muscling into the race was terse and did not say whether there were any dissents, though it is hard to imagine there were not. An opinion explaining its reasoning will have to wait until the next term, assuming it takes the case, but by that time the state's general election will be over and its model campaign finance system substantially demolished.
It seems likely that the Roberts court will use this case to continue its destruction of the laws and systems set up in recent decades to reduce the influence of big money in politics. By the time it is finished, millionaires and corporations will have regained an enormous voice in American politics, at the expense of candidates who have to raise money the old-fashioned way and, ultimately, at the expense of voters.
"Regained," New York Times? Did we miss something? Had the "millionaires and corporations" previously lost their "enormous voice in American Politics"???
Maddow covered some of the details in quickie coverage last night, observing: "It's great news for anyone psyched to get all the riff-raff out of politics so we can get over this whole democracy fantasy and just settle down to being ruled by our economic overlords, like the founding fathers intended."...
Today, as I tried to vote on the same system, the failure was even worse. Incredibly. And not just because I cover issues of Election Integrity for a "living."
I spent more than two and a half hours not casting a vote on the system before eventually I, the poll workers, and, apparently, the folks at the L.A. County Registrar's central help desk call center, simply gave up. A complete and total failure of the e-voting system for disabled voters in the nation's largest voting jurisdiction. Again. On a system the county spent millions to buy in order to comply with the federal Help America Vote Act (HAVA) boondoggle by allowing disabled voters to cast their votes independently. Complete and total failure.
I did my best to document the disaster as it happened, in real time, on my Twitter feed. But the cell signal was very bad at the polling place, so not everything got out. But here's what happened in detail, and with a few graphics tossed in...
As we flagged last night, early reports today are that the concerns about the polling place fiasco in Garland County, Arkansas, have now "come to full flower."
Garland Election Commissioner Charles Tapp had unilaterally (without the vote of his two other commissioners) decided to reduce the number of polling locations from 42 during the general primary on May 18th, to just 2 for today's run-off primary.
The decision is expected to most drastically affect Lt. Gov. Bill Halter, who did exceptionally well in the county during the general Democratic primary in his now-very-tight race against incumbent U.S. Senator Blanche Lincoln.
After Tapp had announced that an additional polling place would be opened last Saturday for early voting to ease the expected crowds today, he changed his mind at the last moment, and "hundreds of voters" are said to have shown up on Saturday, without being allowed to vote.
Today, long lines and parking problems are being reported at the county's only two open polling places, after 12,000 had cast votes in the general primary on May 8th...
Elections are being held in some 13 states (Arkansas, California, Georgia, Iowa, Maine, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, North Dakota, South Carolina, South Dakota, Virginia) today. Lord help us.
A reminder how helpful screenshots of election results taken from official websites on election night and in the days following, can potentially be, can be found in our recent exclusive on the still unexplained results from the Monroe County, Arkansas, May 18th primary, where thousands of votes "disappeared" in the days after the election.
If you don't know how to take a screenshot, here's the quick primer (at least on a PC): While viewing the page in question, hold the ALT button and hit the PrtScreen button. Then paste the ensuing clipboard graphic into a graphics program, and save with a filename that includes both the date and time the shot was taken. Hopefully someone else can explain how to do that on a Mac in comments.
Of course, as you hear or read of problems at the polls throughout the day, feel free to email us with details and URLs, and we'll do our best to look into it.
On the more-political-less-Election-Integrity side of the equation, The BRAD BLOG's resident attorney/historian-in-chief Ernest Canning has offered a number of recent, noteworthy articles on matters related to the ballot out here in CA, perhaps they're worth re-linking this morning. Of particular interest --- even to readers across the country --- should be the top item below, concerning Prop 16, and the deceptive way in which a huge corporate power is attempting to deceive voters with the use of millions of dollars to support a phony campaign.
For that matter, in reviewing the articles below, they each speak to one common element: the outlandish power that money holds, now more than ever, when it comes to our "democracy"...