WTF?! 200,000 votes?!
Of course, this is just one of the reasons why we always encourage candidates to not concede on Election Night...
w/ Brad & Desi
w/ Brad & Desi
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WTF?! 200,000 votes?!
Of course, this is just one of the reasons why we always encourage candidates to not concede on Election Night...
Problems with New York's new electronic voting system are being reported across the state today, according to the New York Times. Today's primary elections mark the first statewide use of the new, paper-based optical-scan systems which have been been the cause of much controversy among election officials and Election Integrity advocates over the last several months and years in the Empire State.
New York is the last state in the union to replace their older election system --- much of the state, as well as all of New York City had previously used mechanical lever machines --- with new-fangled, failure-prone, easily-manipulated computerized systems following the federal Help America Vote Act (HAVA) of 2002 which was enacted in the wake of the 2000 Presidential Election debacle.
In New York City, where Wall Street Journal reports the problems are "most severe" --- including reports from Mayor Bloomberg on "reports of broken and missing scanners, poor customer service and poll sites opening two to four hours late" --- the new systems are made by ES&S, the nation's largest voting machine company, and one with a storied history of election failures.
The systems used in other parts of the state are largely manufactured by the Canadian firm Dominion Voting, formerly as a partnership with Sequoia Voting Systems. Dominion eventually bought out cash-strapped Sequoia's portion of the NY state deal before buying out Sequoia entirely earlier this year. The purchase of Sequoia, then the nation's third-largest e-voting firm, on the heels of their purchase of Diebold/Premiere just weeks prior, has vaulted Dominion, virtually overnight, to one of the largest e-voting vendors in the U.S..
[Read The BRAD BLOG's recent exclusive on the Dominion purchase of Sequoia, and their attempts to cover up the continuing relationship that Sequoia has with a Venezuelan firm tied to President Hugo Chavez.]
Some state election officials and Election Integrity advocates alike had long-warned against the implementation of these new systems, going so far as to take the issue to court and to testify to the inability of certifying the accuracy of elections run on the new machines.
According to the Times this morning, some polling places "did not open for more than 90 minutes" in Brooklyn; elsewhere, every ballot scanned "was returning a the 'system error'" message; and across the state, there have been reports of "longer-than-usual delays and troubles with the scanners that are supposed to swallow and tabulate the new, SAT-style ballots"...
While barreling westward across the Great Plains yesterday, I received an urgent text message from Bev Harris of the non-partisan election integrity watchdog organization BlackBoxVoting.org. She and Susan Pynchon, an election integrity advocate from Florida Fair Elections Coalition, had traveled to Shelby County (Memphis), Tennessee, following reports of massive voter disenfranchisement during the state's August 5th elections.
She and Pynchon have been in the county, on behalf of a number of the candidates affected by the apparent disaster for the last two weeks.
"Wildest election tampering yet in memphis," Harris' detailed text message read. "7 out of eight candidates black in black locations with 70 percent dems but white republican sweep."
"Ten candidates filed lawsuit today," the message continued, as she explained that over the past two weeks she and Pynchon "watched as [election officials] wheeled cartloads of computers out of the building. Thousands and thousands of votes don't add up...poll tapes in trash and much more."
"Even the candidates could not get their own results and were told they were 'not available,'" she wrote. "They certified [the elections] and STILL did not give out results until threatened by a lawyer and even then the results said 'unofficial'. There is hilarious video of repub lawyer shouting 'keep those women away from me!'"...
We were on the road all day long yesterday, after getting the morning's Green News Report. We finally got off the road and back on the grid as the sun was setting here in the Midwest, and as "results" began coming in from some of the five different states (Alaska, Arizona, Florida, Oklahoma and Vermont) holding primary elections last night.
It seemed a good moment to ask a question on Twitter about what we'd missed so far. In the bargain, we received some interesting Twitter replies from NBC's Chief White House Correspondent and election results guy Chuck Todd, in regard to counting ballots and the fact that he (and others) were busy reporting "results" to the world, even as not one single ballot had yet to be counted by any human being in all of the United States by that point.
Here's how some of that conversation on Twitter went...
This is your Sequoia touch-screen voting machine....
This is your Sequoia touch-screen voting machine with Pac-Man hacked onto it without disturbing any of the "tamper-evident" seals supposedly meant to protect it from hackers...
Canadian-based Dominion Voting Systems has quietly announced its second acquisition of a major U.S. voting machine company in as many months and, right out of the gate, they've lied about it. Not an auspicious beginning for the company which may now, virtually overnight, have become the dominant private e-voting machine company in this country.
In our recent breaking coverage detailing the SEC's fraud lawsuits filed against Diebold and a number of their top executives --- including their former Chief Financial Officer who, as we reported exclusively back in 2007, was the top earner from an apparent insider sell-off at the company just days before its stock would plummet from its all-time high on the announcement of spinning off their troubled election division to a "new" company renamed Premier --- we noted that Diebold/Premier's assets had recently been purchased by a small Canadian firm by the name of Dominion Voting. But Dominion hasn't stopped there.
Their purchase of Diebold/Premier's assets was actually made from ES&S, the world's largest voting machine company, who was forced to divest of the assets they'd purchased from Diebold (previously, the second largest voting machine company in the country) for $5 million last year, as part of an anti-trust suit settlement with the DoJ.
In our coverage, we noted the comment of Dominion CEO John Poulos who, in the company's press release [PDF] announcing the Diebold/Premier asset acquisition, stated ominously: "We are extremely pleased to conclude this transaction, which...will allow Dominion to expand its capabilities and operational footprint to every corner of the United States."
Indeed, the DoJ-scuttled ES&S merger with Diebold/Premier had been legally challenged since, among other reasons, the merger of the largest e-voting company with the country's second largest would have given a single company control of at least 70% of all votes cast in the nation.
What we had replaced for length, however, with the ellipses in Poulos' quote above, was this [emphasis added]: "We are extremely pleased to conclude this transaction, which will restore much-needed competition to the American voting systems market and will allow Dominion to expand its capabilities and operational footprint to every corner of the United States."
How much is Poulos actually interested in "restor[ing] much-needed competition" for "the American voting systems market"? Apparently not so much, as according to a company press release [PDF] quietly issued late in the afternoon on Friday, June 4th, Dominion has now also acquired what had previously been the third largest voting machine company in the U.S., Sequoia Voting Systems.
Not surprisingly, that late Friday announcement didn't say anything at all about "competition".
Worse, as The BRAD BLOG has confirmed, the new press release from Dominion simply lied about what the company has and hasn't purchased from Sequoia, a company which had lied themselves, for years, about the real ownership of its proprietary voting systems...
Diebold “regularly manipulated earnings to meet forecasts,” the SEC said in the complaint filed today in federal court in Washington. The agency is seeking an unspecified civil penalty in the case.
The case is U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission v. Diebold Inc., 10cv908, U.S. District Court, District of Columbia (Washington).
But wait! There's more...
Incredible. This would be the equivalent of appointing the sitting Vice President of Exxon Mobil to an EPA advisory committee, but Ed Smith has now been appointed to the disastrous U.S. Election Assistance Commission's (EAC's) Technical Guidelines Development Committee as one of their new "Technical and Scientific Experts."
From the EAC's email announcement on Friday (posted in full at end of article):
So Smith went from voting machine company Hart Intercivic to voting machine company Sequoia Voting Systems and is now at voting machine company Dominion Voting Systems, where he is a VP, selling e-voting systems to jurisdictions around the country that receive federal money doled out by the EAC. And now he'll also sit on an advisory board at the EAC helping to advise which one of those companies sees their systems certified for use in U.S. elections by the EAC. Just amazing.
But that's not even half the story of why this is just incredible, and another huge black eye for the EAC. (How many eyes do they have left to blacken at this point?) If you're not a long time reader of The BRAD BLOG reader, and don't recall who this Ed Smith is, read on. It's simply stultifying...
My latest special to the Right-leaning Gouverneur Times of Upstate NY details multiple "urgent" warnings that state and federal officials received over the last year from multiple election advocacy groups concerning the dangers and pitfalls of the state's e-voting pilot program which came crashing down on voters during the recent NY-23 Special Election for the U.S. House.
They were warned, over and over and over again, about the dangers of using uncertified e-voting systems in real live elections, yet, despite the concerns expressed by experts about using real voters "as guinea pigs," it appears officials took no action in response.
John Conklin, the Director of Public Information for New York State's Board of Elections has now issued a statement in response to the Gouverneur Times' article by Nathan Barker last week, alleging a "VIRUS in the VOTING MACHINES" [caps in original headline] which, the paper says, "tainted the results" of the recent Special Election for the U.S. House in NY's 23rd Congressional district.
We responded to Barker's detailed article ourselves over the weekend at some length, noting both the accurate and inaccurate information and assertions included in the online publication's coverage.
Conklin's response has drawn two responses in turn from the Gouverneur Times, as the right-leaning publication appears to have joined in the fight for election integrity, at least on behalf of their favored Conservative Party candidate whose apparent election loss has indeed been "tainted" by the very same concerns about which The BRAD BLOG has been warning for years. We're happy to see their new-found concerns, even as Republican partisans in political alignment with the Times have been ignoring and/or disparaging similar reports for years following elections in which Democrats have been the apparent victims of similarly failed voting systems...
On Thursday, Nathan Barker of upstate New York's Gouverneur Times --- a far-Right online publication (featuring columns by the likes of Michelle Malkin, Oliver North, Chuck Norris, and all the rest of the wingnutters) --- filed a lengthy, and somewhat breathless, report alleging a computer virus had infected several of the new e-voting systems in first-time use during the November 7th Special Election in NY's 23rd Congressional district between Democratic candidate Bill Owens, Conservative Party candidate Doug Hoffman, and Republican Dede Scozzafava (who dropped out of the race just prior to Election Day and threw her support to the Democrat).
Barker charged that a "VIRUS in the VOTING MACHINES" [his caps] resulted in "tainted results," "casting doubt on the accuracy of counts retrieved from any of the machines" used in the election.
Owens was reported to have won the election by a small margin on Election Night --- made smaller as errors were discovered during the post-election canvass --- before being hastily sworn in to the U.S. House just a few days later, in time to provide a crucial Democratic vote in favor of the health care insurance reform bill.
Barker's detailed report clearly offers a hard-right undertone, obviously in support of the Conservative Party candidate Hoffman. The article also advances several unsubstantiated conspiracy theories and features a number of out-and-out inaccuracies as well. A number of the piece's key allegations, though important, are also disputed by election officials, and at least one lead member of New York's election integrity community --- which is, itself, split between supporters of the new optical-scan e-voting systems and those calling for the retention of the Empire State's long-used mechanical lever voting machines.
Nonetheless, Barker raises a number of significant points and important concerns, about which The BRAD BLOG has been warning for years, often in the face of derision, notably from the same Rightwing circles crying foul now, who had previously dismissed such concerns as those of 'tin-foil hat wearing, sore losers and conspiracy theorists' despite actual hard evidence and scientifically-sound details proffered about such concerns.
It's somewhat amusing to see some on the Right, now that they have concerns about a close election, suddenly find religion on the very issues they'd derided as nonsense so stridently in the past. It's very tempting to either disregard them now entirely, or torture them mercilessly on that point. But we'll try to take the high road here since their central concerns, now that they've finally arrived and no matter how long overdue, have been ones that we've shared for years, whether or not they might have stood to adversely affect Democrats, Republicans or independents.
The bottom line is that whether a computer virus, malicious or otherwise, affected the results of the NY-23 Special Election or not --- we've seen no actual evidence that it did, and state officials offer a differing explanation for the e-voting system failures that did occur --- it certainly could have. The direct threat to democracy inherent in the concerns expressed by Barker (whether substantiated or not), underscore the foolishness of using such secret vote-counting systems at all. In New York --- where voters, in real elections, are essentially being forced to serve as beta testers of these new, federally-uncertified systems, made by a company with a long track-record of failure, lies, obfuscation, near-bankruptcy, secretive foreign ownership, election disaster after disaster, and dissembling to the media, as well as federal, state and local officials --- the foolishness is all the more apparent, unnecessary, unfortunate and a clear and present threat to democracy itself...
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