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Latest Featured Reports | Friday, December 19, 2014
'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!...
Previous GNRs: 12/16/14 - 12/11/14 - Archives...
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
GOP anti-enviro wish list in "Cromnibus" bill; Crunch time at UN climate talks; Calls for an end to fossil fuels; Australia goaded into action; PLUS: CEO indicted for WV chemical spill...
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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...
Previous GNRs: 12/4/14 - 12/2/14 - Archives...
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
Bi-partisan congressmen seek update from 11th Circuit Court, cite potential impeachment of Judge Mark Fuller...
'Green News Report' 12/2/14
New UN summit underway; Record rain, drought in CA; Global cost of falling oil prices; PLUS: Legacy of world's worst industrial disaster, 30 years later...
'Recount', Concerns in AZ U.S. House Race
Razor-thin computer-reported margin, failed paper-ballot tabulators, untallied provisionals, terrible 'recount' rules leave Barber-McSally contest in AZ-2 unsettled...
'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...
VIDEO: 'Rise of the Tea Bags'
Brad interviews American patriots...
'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...


Says State Report 'Provides Even More Compelling Reasons to Seek Investigation'...
By Brad Friedman on 2/23/2007 5:08pm PT  

The Christine Jennings (D) campaign has just sent us a statement concerning today's release of the state-commissioned audit of the flawed election during her race against Vern Buchanan (R) last November in Florida's 13th Congressional District.

See our earlier full coverage of the state reports here...

"The audit of Sarasota County’s voting system was flawed, incomplete, and provides even more compelling reasons for the Christine Jennings campaign to seek a thorough investigation by outside experts," the statement begins.

The complete Jennings statement follows below...

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

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Election Integrity Advocates Contesting Race Call Report 'A Whitewash,' Cite Partisan Makeup, Conflict of Interest, Flawed Test Methods of Audit Commission
Two State Reports Released Late Friday Afternoon Reveal Contested Results Imperiled by Extraordinarily Complex Touch-Screen Voting System...
By Brad Friedman on 2/23/2007 3:39pm PT  

Late this afternoon, the state of Florida released a state-commissioned audit report detailing their investigation into the contested U.S. House Election in Florida's 13th Congressional district between Christine Jennings (D) and Vern Buchanan (R).

In two lengthy and carefully worded reports, released along with a statement from the new Secretary of State, Kurt Browning (R), the state audit report [PDF] concludes that "The audit team found no evidence to suggest or conclude that the official certified election results did not reflect the actual votes cast."

A statement issued in response by People for the American Way (PFAW), who, along with VoterAction.org, are representing the voter plaintiffs contesting the election in the state, have described the report as "a whitewash." Their statement, posted in full at the end of this article, points to the partisan makeup and conflicts of interest in the commission empaneled by the state to examine the firmware of the paperless ES&S iVotronic touch-screen voting machines used in the race.

The report "is the result of a flawed process overseen by people with a stake in the outcome," said PFAW President Ralph Neas in the statement, which also details a number of other flaws in the state's "independent" commission.

Additionally, The BRAD BLOG has found that details in one of the reports actually contradict both Browning's statement and the conclusion of the state's official audit. The reports, as well, reveal a stultifyingly complex process being employed to manage the most basic point of any election: The simple task of adding one plus one plus one...

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

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Princeton Professor Listed as Team Member Reveals He Is Not on State Convened Panel
Yet More Reason to Doubt Credibility of Partisan, Interest-Conflicted Group of Scientists Said to be Investigating Failed U.S. House Race in Sarasota...
By Brad Friedman on 2/5/2007 1:17pm PT  

Blogged by Brad Friedman from Phoenix, AZ...

While Florida's new Republican Governor Charlie Crist deserves credit, perhaps even a rarely-bestowed BRAD BLOG "Intellectually Honest Conservative" Award --- for his recent announcement alongside Rep. Robert Wexler (D-FL) that he would propose some $32 million to replace the Sunshine State's failed touch-screen voting machines with paper-based optical scan systems, it seems that the old state guard is still lying and covering up for their failed e-voting systems which undermined democracy last November.

An article on the Crist/Wexler initiative from last Friday's New York Times offered this refreshing quote from the Florida Republican on concerns about the cost of tossing the state's recently purchased touch-screen systems: "The price of freedom is not cheap. The importance of a democratic system of voting that we can trust, that we can have confidence in, is incredibly important."

To that, we say, right on. But apparently the folks in Crist's Department of State (DOS) have yet to get the memo that it's time to stop covering up the massive electoral system failures in Florida.

In a blog item today by Princeton University's computer science Professor Ed Felten, he reveals that the state's "independent audit" of the contested 13th Congressional District election between Democrat Christine Jennings and Republican Vern Buchanan --- in which some 18,000 votes disappeared on Sarasota County's paperless touch-screen machines in a race decided by just 369 votes --- is built on more lies than previously realized.

The Princeton University professor who led the team that revealed Diebold touch-screen systems could be hacked in less than 60 seconds and implanted with a vote-stealing virus which could undetectedly flip an entire election has exposed yet another lie from the state-convened team of scientists supposedly investigating the FL-13 incident.

The audit team, convened by state officials at the FL Department of State, has been appropriately criticized for its partisan make-up, lack of transparency, and apparent conflicts of interest in demonstrating that they were not to blame for having certified the very voting systems they have charged themselves with "investigating."

Felten, however, has revealed the case is even worse than that. Apparently they have lied about who is actually on the team, listing Felten in official documents as one of the team members despite his early refusal to take part in the state-run investigation...

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

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Princeton's Computer Science Professor, Ed Felten, Begins to Look at the Failed Jennings/Buchanan U.S. House Race in Florida, But Seems to Buy Into a Flawed Theory and Solution
'Paper Trails' on Sarasota's Voting Machines Would Have Made the Situation Worse, Not Better...
By Brad Friedman on 1/30/2007 1:33pm PT  

Blogged by Brad Friedman from on the road...

To be clear, despite the headline, we don't mean to call Princeton's computer science professor Ed Felten "stupid" by any means. We do, however, mean to make clear --- in no uncertain terms --- that the oft-floated idea that adding so-called "paper trails" to failed, paperless ES&S touch-screen voting machines, such as those used in last November's U.S. House race in Sarasota between Christine Jennings (D) and Vern Buchanan (R), would not have avoided the situation we're now in. In fact, such "Voter Verified Paper Audit Trails" (VVPAT) added to Direct Recording Electronic (DRE/touch-screen) systems would likely make our current crisis of democracy worse instead of better.

As we've said before, DREs with or without a VVPAT are a threat to democracy. VVPATs are little more than a band-aid at best, and more likely serve only as a panacea to offer a false sense of security.

Adding a "paper trail" to a DRE/touch-screen system is like requiring a seat belt in a Ford Pinto; what good will the seat belts do when the Pinto explodes?

Today then, Princeton's Felten (he of the infamous Diebold Touch-Screen Virus Hack) has posted an article on his blog looking at what may have happened in the contested U.S. House race in Florida's 13th Congressional District between Jennings and Buchanan, in which some 18,000 votes seem to have disappeared completely on the paperless ES&S touch-screen voting machines. Just 369 votes separate the two candidates in the flawed state-certified final results.

In his essay, the first of a promised series to come this week, Felten correctly points out that the situation can only be attributed to problems with the ES&S voting machines themselves, since the undervote rate for the very same race in the very same county was a reasonable 2.5% on the paper absentee ballots, but jumped nearly 15% as recorded on the ES&S touch-screen machines.

Even ES&S's only expert witness so far to take the stand --- Dartmouth College's political (not computer) scientist, Michael Herron --- in the election contest down in Florida admitted that were it not for problems voters encountered in using those voting machines, Jennings likely would have been named the winner. That point was reported by Sarasota Herald Tribune who reported on the testimony this way: "Had those ballots been cast without problems, Jennings would have won by as many as 3,000 votes, according to the ES&S expert's statistical 'best guess.'" Reporting from both Wired News and our own discussions just after the testimony with Lowell Finley, the attorney for VoterAction.org, one of several non-partisan groups who argued the case on behalf of the Florida voter plaintiffs who joined Christine Jennings in filing an election contest, confirmed that point as well.

So the question --- for those legitimately trying to figure out what went wrong, as opposed to Buchanan and his supporters who simply want to claim the House seat as their own, even if it's an aberration of democracy --- is whether the problem was due to bad ballot design, machine malfunction, or, most likely, some combination of both. With just 369 votes between the two candidates in the state-certified final result (which is being challenged in both Florida courts and the U.S. House), virtually every analysis has determined that even a minor machine malfunction would likely have thrown the race to the Republican in the Democrat's strongest areas in Sarasota. That's where the largest undervote rates occured.

Felten's thesis, however, as he begins to discuss today in his first article on the topic, would seem to suggest --- incorrectly, in our view --- that a "paper trail" on those paperless touch-screens would have avoided this problem. We'll answer by suggesting it would only have made it worse.

In the meantime, an as-yet under-reported affidavit obtained by The BRAD BLOG from a poll worker, which accompanied a complaint filed by a Republican (yep, you read that right) in Sarasota who believes machine malfunction was clearly the culprit, seems to demonstrate clearly that a problem with the ES&S iVotronic system, not a problem finding the race on the ballot, was to blame for the massive undervote rate.

Couple that with two excellent reports from Daniel Hopsicker as filed last week (one here, the second here) analyzing, in crystal-clear detail, a number of contemporaneous news reports from Sarasota before, during, and after the election, it becomes very clear that machine failure was the problem in the FL-13 election and not "bad ballot design" --- the favored theory of folks hoping to keep the "provisionally seated" Buchanan in power.

Hopsicker's excellent review of those news reports, both as the problem was first emerging and just after the election, when voters' and poll workers' recollections were still fresh, reveals that voter and poll worker complaints at that time overwhelmingly focused on problems voters had casting their votes in particular races and not on problems finding particular races on the ballots!

We'll take a look at the complaint filed by the Republican mentioned above, along with the poll-worker affidavit, in a future report this week. But for now, we'll look at Felten's "Paper Trails Would Have Avoided the Problem" theory.

As Felten averred today...

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

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By Brad Friedman on 1/11/2007 7:56pm PT  

Melinda Henneberger interviews Christine Jennings, who would have won her race for the U.S. House in Florida's 13th district were it not for the ES&S touch-screen voting machines in Sarasota County, which robbed her (so far) of her rightful seat.

We guess candidates have to actually get screwed by these machines themselves before they are capable of fully appreciating the dangers about which we write here virtually every day. At the end of Henneberger's piece, she quotes Jennings in reference to some of the oft-ignored Election Integrity Advocates (like yours truly) who have long been trying to raise the reddest of flags. In this case, Jennings refers to the good folks of the Sarasota Alliance for Fair Elections (SAFE) with an "I'd wish I'd listened to them" sub-text impossible to ignore...

"Those people with the Sarasota Alliance for Fair Elections? I used to pat them on the back at Democratic meetings, but I had no idea. The vote is the great equalizer in this country - and when we've lost that, we've really lost something.''

So what will it take for the rest of the Democratic Party to start getting it?

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Voting Machine Company Claims Chairwoman's Missive 'An Attempt to Intimidate, Unduly Influence' Florida Court
Plaintiff Attorney Says Claim is 'Remarkable,' 'Takes a Lot of Chutzpah'
By Brad Friedman on 1/9/2007 9:46pm PT  

Describing it as a "threat...intended to interfere with the independence of the judiciary" in Florida's 13th Congressional District election contest, one of the defendants in the case, Elections Systems & Software, Inc. (ES&S), has filed a motion to strike a letter sent last week to Florida's appellate court from the Chair of the U.S. House Administration Committee, The BRAD BLOG has learned.

Attorneys for the plaintiffs describe the motion as "remarkable" and "a blatant thumb in the eye of Congress."

In her January 5th letter [PDF], the new Democratic chair of the committee, Juanita Millender-McDonald, responded to a lower court's decision at the end of the year refusing the release of the computer source code used on the paperless ES&S touch-screen systems during last November's contested election. Circuit Court Judge William L. Gary held in his decision at that time that the proprietary "trade secrets" of ES&S took precedence over Florida voters' right to know what actually occurred in their own U.S. House election.

The plaintiffs in the case --- Democrat Christine Jennings and several non-partisan election watchdog groups --- had requested review of the source code to aid in an independent expert investigation to help determine what went wrong when Sarasota's touch-screen systems, made by ES&S, failed to report some 18,000 votes in Jennings's race for the U.S. House against the Republican Vern Buchanan.

Buchanan was certified as the "winner" by the state of Florida despite his 369 vote margin and questions about the contest based on the extraordinarily high undervote rate on Sarasota County's voting systems. The still-unexplained undervote rate in the county was approximately five times higher than in the same race in neighboring counties, and similarly much higher than the undervote rate in the same race on the paper absentee ballots in the very same county.

In today's motion [PDF], obtained this afternoon by The BRAD BLOG, ES&S demands the court strike Millender-McDonald's letter from the record. They claim that it's an "unauthorized, non-party response" and that her letter was a "thinly veiled attempt...to intimidate this Court and unduly influence its deliberations in order to give Petitioner [Jennings], a member of Millender-McDonald's political party, an unwarranted advantage in this election contest."

That, despite the fact that Jennings has challenged the election in the U.S. House under the Federal Contested Elections Act and that a letter [PDF], similarly from the U.S. House Administration Committee --- then under Republican rule --- sent to a California court was instrumental and cited by the Judge in the dismissal of a contested U.S. House Special Election last summer between Brian Bilbray (R) and Francine Busby (D) in California's 50th district.

David Becker, a Senior Attorney at PFAW Foundation, one of the groups supporting the voter plaintiffs in the case, tells The BRAD BLOG that the claims made by ES&S in their motion "take a lot of chutzpah." ...

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

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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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Letter Could be Precursor to Congressional Subpeona as Necessary...
By Brad Friedman on 1/5/2007 3:18pm PT  

Congresswoman Juanita Millender-McDonald, the new chair of the U.S. House Administration Committee, has sent a letter to the Florida Court of Appeals currently reviewing the absurd decision made late in the day on the last day the year by circuit court Judge William L. Gary to disallow release of the source code from the paperless ES&S touch-screen voting machines to the plaintiffs who have requested it in the state election contest in the U.S. House race in Florida's 13th district.

Gary found at the time that release of the material would "result in destroying or at least gutting the protections afforded those who own the trade secrets." In other words, the private corporate interests of the ES&S voting machine company was more important than allowing Florida voters to try and determine the valid winner of an election.

The election is one of five now being contested in the U.S. House under the Federal Contested Elections Act, and we'd suggest Millender-McDonald's letter may serve as a precursor warning to the courts that the committee may use their subpeona power to get at the source code if the Florida courts refuse to allow its release.

Electronic Frontier Foundation covers the news here with the short letter itself linked here [PDF].

It is [...] of concern that the parties have been unable to agree upon, and that, on December 29th, the lower court declined to order, the requested access to the hardware and software (including the source code) needed to test the contestant's central claim: voting machine malfunction.
...
[T]he House is well served in its own deliberations by having before it a complete record. Consequently, Florida law will facilitate the evaluation of the election contest pending before the House to the extent that it provides access to relevant and critical evidence. I am confident that this can be done in a way that accommodates the valid interests of the parties, and resolution of these issues may obviate the need for the House to address them.
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Judge finds Plaintiffs' Request for 'Access to Trade Secrets' of ES&S Would 'Result in Destroying, Gutting' Voting Machine Company's 'Protections,' Rules Jennings's, Voters' Motion Based on 'Nothing More Than Conjecture'
[FURTHER STORY UPDATES] Plaintiffs Announce They Will Appeal Decision, Additional Late Details on Congressional Challenge to House Seating of Buchanan...
By Brad Friedman on 12/29/2006 1:27pm PT  

In a ruling issued this afternoon just prior to the Holiday weekend, the presiding Florida Circuit Court Judge William L. Gary denied the plaintiffs motion to allow review of the source code for the paperless touch-screen machines used in the contested U.S. House race in Florida's 13th district between Democrat Christine Jennings and Republican Vern Buchanan.

Jennings, and a number of Florida voters and Election Integrity organizations, had filed suit asking for a revote and to allow them to review the software used on the voting machines made by Election Systems and Software, Inc. (ES&S), after some 18,000 votes seemed to have disappeared in the race to fill the U.S. House seat vacated by former FL Secretary of State Katherine Harris. The state has previously certified Buchanan as the winner by a 369 vote margin.

Gary's terse ruling [PDF], issued this afternoon denying the motion to compel the company to turn over their source code, states that ES&S has a right to keep their software hidden from review by both the Jennings camp and voters, supporting the company's "right" to keep their "trade secrets" protected.

An audit of the machines was previously conducted by a panel convened by the state. The various plaintiff groups had roundly criticized both the make-up of the panel and the procedures used during the testing, characterizing it as an "exercise in futility." The panel was led by a known hard-right Republican partisan and included the state's own official responsible for voting machine certification. No independent Election Integrity advocates were included on the panel.

That audit --- to nobody's surprise --- revealed no problems in the hardware or software as tested. But the plaintiffs have argued that only an independent investigation of the source code used on the Direct Recording Electronic (DRE) voting machines might reveal reasons for the inexplicably large undervote rate in the race, more than 12%, only found on Sarasota's paperless touch-screen systems. Absentee paper balloting in the county, and on voting machines in other counties which make up the FL-13 district, revealed no such anomalous undervote rate. Undervote rates on paper absentee ballots in the same race, in the same county, were just over 2.5%.

Neither the Buchanan camp, nor anyone else, has been able to give a credible explanation for the disparity.

Gary's ruling denying Plaintiffs' motion to examine the voting machine source code finds that:

D. The machines now challenged were tested as required by law prior to the early voting and election day voting and were found to be working properly.

E. Because the election was a close one and due to Plaintiffs' allegations an audit was conducted on the voting system to verify its accuracy.

F. Two parallel tests were conducted on the subject screen systems and representatives of both Plaintiffs and Defendants were present. The test results revealed 100% accuracy of the equipment in reporting the vote selections.

G. Plaintiffs have presented no evidence to demonstrate that the parallel testing was flawed and or the results not valid.

H. The testimony of Plaintiffs' experts was nothing more than conjecture and not supported by credible evidence.

I. For this Court to grant Plaintiffs' motions would require this Court to find that it is reasonably necessary for the Plaintiffs to have access to the trade secrets of Defendant, Election Systems & Software, Inc., based on nothing more than speculation and conjecture, and would result in destroying or at least gutting the protections afforded those who own the trade secrets.

The plaintiffs had been requesting a revote for the election in the Florida circuit court. Jennings has filed a contest in the U.S. Congress, under the Constitutional provision which allows the House to determine the seating of members. When the new Congress convenes in January they must decide whether to seat Buchanan as is, seat him provisionally, seat Jennings instead, or leave the seat vacant, essentially forcing a Special Election in FL-13, or take some other action.

--- 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 Alan Breslauer on 12/23/2006 12:47pm PT  

Guest Blogged by Alan Breslauer


Christine Jennings and her lawyer, Kendall Coffey, appeared Wednesday on Lou Dobbs Tonight with guest host Kitty Pilgrim to discuss the latest news concerning Florida's 13th Congressional District. As BRAD BLOG has reported often (most recently here, here and here), Vern Buchanan was declared the winner in Florida's 13th after the disappearance of 18,000 votes left the Republican with a paltry 369 vote lead over his opponent Jennings. Subsequently, a handful of experts including one provided by e-voting manufacturer ES&S, concluded that the inclusion of the missing votes would have propelled Jennings to an easy victory based on an analysis of the Sarasota votes which did not spontaneously combust.

Unfortunately, the will of the people is a foreign concept among those controlling the Florida election apparatus which declared Buchanan the winner after recounting nothing a couple of times. With no paper trail (much less a paper BALLOT, and there is a big difference!), a "recount" merely refers to state election staffers testing whether a few selected machines are working properly and is entirely unrelated to the vote count. By certifying Buchanan the winner, the state forced Jennings to seek relief in the Florida courts.

This did not sit well with Sean Hannity who, with Buchanan on as a guest a few weeks ago, found the entire affair "unbelievable" and further evidence that Democrats are sore losers. Juxtaposing the Hannity clip as well as Tom Feeney's reaction to the election controversy, recounted by Brad here, to Jennings appearance on CNN (clip above right), makes for quite an interesting experiment. While hardly evidence that could be used in a court of law like the damning statistical evidence, the contrast is, nevertheless, telling.

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And Who Knows 'Total Political Dictatorship' Better Than the Corrupt Bully-Boy Feeney?!
(Who Also Has Now Had a Congressional Challenge Filed in His Own Election!)
By Brad Friedman on 12/21/2006 2:31pm PT  

Tom Feeney (R-Abramoff) is back! And he's not taking any shit from any of those democracy loving pussies!

Now that he's temporarily been sent back to the U.S. House of Representatives --- after having spent more than $1 million in corporate PAC money to achieve an unimpressive victory over Clint Curtis, the computer programmer who spent about $40k on his campaign and has accused Feeney of conspiring to create vote-rigging software in Florida --- Feeney is ready to rumble!

"That is total political dictatorship," Feeney tells the Orlando Sentinel today in regard to the Congressional election challenge filed yesterday by Democrat Christine Jennings in the U.S. House after 18,000 votes disappeared in her recent election in Florida's 13th District, leading to a reported "loss" by 369 votes to Republican Vern Buchanan.

And, if anybody knows anything about "total political dictatorship" it would be Tom Feeney. The man who, as Speaker of the Florida House in 2000, promised to deliver the state's Electoral Votes to George W. Bush no matter what those democracy haters on the U.S. Supreme Court had to say about it!; the man who worked as general counsel and registered lobbyist (even while speaker of the Florida House) for a company that had harbored at least one illegal alien who pled guilty to charges related to sending Hellfire anti-tank missile chips to Communist China; the man who keeps his campaign headquarters in the firm's headquarters building even today!; the man who didn't raise a peep when the Republican controlled U.S. House sent a letter ordering a California judge to dismiss a lawful election contest in San Diego's special U.S. House election last Summer after the House had rushed to swear in apparent-winner Brian Bilbray just 7 days after the election, with thousands of votes still uncounted and a full two weeks before the state would even certify the close and disputed election which was run illegally on compromised, decertified electronic voting machines.

Now --- even after the only expert witness put forward in Florida by ES&S, the voting machine company that makes the touch-screen systems used in FL-13, admitted yesterday on the stand that Jennings would have won the election were it not for problems with the voting equipment --- Feeney is the man sticking his bright red, irony-impaired face out to declare that Democrats would be participating in "total political dictatorship" by exercising their constitutional right to "determine the manner and seating of their members."

"Total political dictatorship" - Nobody knows it better than Tom Feeney.

Oh, and could he also be so angry about this because it turns out that Clint Curtis himself has now filed a Congressional challenge in his race against Feeney? More on that, hopefully, later....

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County Elections Website Claims Voters Are Asked for Specific 'YES or NO' Confirmation of Undervotes at End of Voting Process
Sources Confirm it Didn't Happen That Way in Contested FL-13 U.S. House Race on November 7th...
By Brad Friedman on 12/10/2006 5:05pm PT  

An instructional web page, explaining the ES&S touch-screen electronic voting machines in use during Florida's disputed FL-13 U.S. House Election gives faulty information to voters about the way the county's paperless voting systems works, The BRAD BLOG has learned.

The information offered on the county's election website, concerning the crucial process during which voters might choose to adjust any "undervotes" found on their electronic "ballots" at the end of the voting process, is misleading and incorrect. According to several sources, the systems in use during the contested November 7th U.S. House race between Vern Buchanan (R) and Christine Jennings (D) did not operate as advertised by the Sarasota County website.

The county web page in question is described as "a technical look at how the ES&S iVotronic touch screen system works." Yet, Sarasota's ES&S iVotronic systems, apparently, didn't work as described on the site.

The "VOTE button" on the iVotronic, as explained by the text on the website, will cast the vote only after the summary page is given to the voters, allowing them to explicitly approve or disapprove of any undervotes found on their "ballots."

"The iVotronic will review the ballot for any races for which the voter did not cast a vote (undervote), and asks if this is the intent of the voter," according to the webpage. The voter is then said to receive a YES or NO option to confirm their intention of undervoting in the particular race(s).

(The webpage is here. Click the #5 option to see how the "VOTE button" on the system is supposed to work. A screenshot of the page follows at the end of this article.)

Lowell Finley, however, an attorney for VoterAction.org --- one of several non-partisan organizations leading a voter lawsuit demanding a revote in the election --- tells The BRAD BLOG that "the statement on the Sarasota website is false" and that voters were not given such an option on November 7th.

We also inquired about the matter on Friday afternoon with the office of "the Honorable" Kathy Dent, Sarasota County's Supervisor of Elections...

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

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'Constitutional Option' Likely to be Invoked in Fight Over U.S. House Seat According to Paper
Howard Dean Says Election 'Not Valid', Agrees House Should Not Seat Buchanan; Tom Feeney Bullies...
By Brad Friedman on 12/7/2006 9:35am PT  

ED NOTE: See our own thoughts on the "Constitutional Option" of a Congressional challenge in the Jennings/Buchanan FL-13 race, and how this version differs from the same law (mis)applied in last Summer's Busby/Bilbray Special U.S. House election in CA-50 as posted yesterday.

From today's St. Petersburg Times...

WASHINGTON — Republican Vern Buchanan may be the official winner in a messy Sarasota-area Congressional race, but Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean says the Democratic-controlled Congress should not seat Buchanan without another election.

“Absolutely not,’’ Dean said in a taped “Political Connections” interview airing Sunday on Bay News 9. “You cannot seat someone if you don’t have an election that’s valid.

“This election is not valid. There are 18,000 people who may have voted and we don’t know what happened to their votes,” he said. “You can bet that if the Republicans were 500 votes short they’d be calling for a new election, and they’d be right.”

On Wednesday, Democrat Christine Jennings said she will ask the U.S. House to take the extreme measure of conducting its own investigation into the election.

In a side note, Rep. Tom Feeney (R-Abramoff), a man who knows a thing or two about both bad elections and bullying people to get his way, is quoted in the story as well:

“I think there would be a huge pushback in terms of the American people,’’ said Rep. Tom Feeney, an Orlando area Republican. “I think that the consequences of that would be severe for the Democratic leadership.”

Feeney, aside from allegedly asking computer programmer turned whistleblower Clint Curtis to create vote-rigging software back in 2000 (which is notorious enough), notoriously also announced, back in 2000 as Speaker of the Florida House, that he would take it upon himself to ensure that Florida's Electors went to George W. Bush no matter what the United States Supreme Court would ultimately decide during the 2000 imbroglio.

Feeney is a bully of the highest reknown. With a fresh election "victory" under his belt (albeit one which his challenger, the whistleblower-turned-candidate Curtis, has questioned) watch for him to crank up his bully-boy-ness as things move forward in this and other related affairs in the new Congress. Watch for The BRAD BLOG to keep calling him on it.

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VIDEO - Hannity Begins to Carry Disingenuous Buckets of Anti-Democracy Water
Jennings May Have to Play the Congressional Constitutional Card to Gain the House Seat Which Obviously Should Belong to Her...
By Brad Friedman on 12/6/2006 3:11pm PT  

It's a lovely change of pace when some of the other "big boy bloggers" beat me to the punch on Election Integrity-related stories. Perhaps I can start sleeping in for a while. I could use it.

That said, TPMMuckraker gives us a fine update on the FL-13 sitch, and Sean Hannity's virtuoso performance in what is likely his most disingenuous performance to date last night on Hannity & Colmes, where Republican Vern Buchanan spouted off with neither a Democratic nor a non-partisan Election Integrity advocate to counter his nonsense.

In addition to TPMM's points, it should also be pointed out that Hannity stated incorrectly --- twice --- that Sarasota is the strongest Republican stronghold in the contest. That, despite, his later admission that the Democratic Christine Jennings won the area by 7%.

As well, Hannity (again unchecked) is allowed to rant about how Republicans don't challenge elections when they lose, they accept defeat gracefully. Guess Sean doesn't read The BRAD BLOG and thus doesn't know about the Conservative TX Supreme Court Justice Steven Smith, or the mess in Maricopa County, AZ, still percolating from back in 2004, or the fact that Rick Santorum and the PA Republican party demanded that touch-screen systems where votes reportedly flipped be impounded in 27 counties on Election Day, just to name a few instances.

But we'd expect nothing less from water boy Hannity.

Most of note in the video, perhaps, is Buchanan's un-checked (and by now, expected) outrageous claim that Jennings is "destroying democracy" by calling for a revote. A funny turn of phrase from a guy who is doing everything he can to ensure that the rather clear voices of the voters are ignored in favor of a 369 vote "victory" gained only due to faulty, paperless touch-screen voting machines.

Even Buchanan is unable, in the clip, to explain why 18,000 votes in Jennings's strongest county simply disappeared. Of course, he'd have to admit he lost if forced to come up with an answer to that mystery. So he avoids the question twice by explaining only that "there's a lot of speculation out there you can read."

Got nothing, Vern? But don't give a damn anyway? We thought so. Now that's what we call "destroying democracy"!

In other FL-13 coverage around the 'sphere, both the Sarasota Herald-Tribune and a group of political scientists [PDF] are averring that it was bad ballot design which caused the problem (The BRAD BLOG earlier posted a photo of the way in which the race was displayed on the touch-screen systems, such that it would have been very easy for voters not to see the race at all on Sarasota's ES&S touch-screen machines.)

The "bad ballot design" explanation, however --- that voters didn't notice the race --- fails to account for all of the affidavits from voters claiming they tried and tried to vote in the race, but couldn't get their vote to register properly for Jennings, as one of the attorneys representing the voter lawsuit calling for a revote recently told us.

Finally, DailyKos (of all places) has some decent front page coverage of the rather conservative (we've found) Election Law professor Rick Hasen's explanation [PDF] of the Constitutional card that can be played by the U.S. House to settle the matter. At this point, it's looking more and more like that will be the way this thing is ultimately settled...

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

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