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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?




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!... ---




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!... ---




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.



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!... ---




(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.




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.




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....




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!... ---




'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.




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!... ---




Information on Sunday's 'Revote Rally' and Video Testimony from Voters Who Had Trouble in Sarasota on November 7th
ALSO: Lead Attorney on Lawsuit Says Court-Allowed Testing Will Corrupt the Voting Machines...
By Brad Friedman on 12/1/2006 3:15pm PT  

People for the American Way (PFAW) just released the following update on the latest goings on in the FL-13 battle where their lawsuit (filed along with several Election Integrity organizations) has now been joined by the court with Democratic candidate Christine Jennings's own suit. Both are calling for a revote.

The press release (posted in full below) says that the state-run audit testing of a few of the machines in use on Election Day is an "excercise in futility" due to the small sampling size of the tests and the fact that the commission chosen to carry it out has reasons to ensure that nothing is actually found to be "wrong" with the paperless ES&S voting machines on which some 18,000 votes disappeared in the U.S. House race down there.

By the way, I recently spoke with Lowell Finley, the lead attorney from VoterAction.org, one of the groups filing the lawsuit on behalf of voters down there. He confirmed that the machines being used for today's testing --- two chosen by Buchanan, two by Jennings (from precincts with the highest undervote rate) --- will essentially be compromised by today's state-run audit testing. Though Finley and the others tried to make that point to the judge assigned to the matter, that testing these machines in this way would corrupt the original data, the court decided to allow the state to use them in this way nonetheless.

PFAW's news release, issued moments ago, also gives details and a link for more info concerning this Sunday's planned "Revote Rally" in Sarasota, as well as a link to video testimony from more than 50 voters who had trouble voting in the Jennings/Buchanan race on November 7th.

The PFAW press release follows in full below...

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




State Officials Blame 'Human Error' of State Officials Who Performed Tests in the State's Official Testing...
...While County Commissioners Make Plans to Scrap Their $4.5 Million Dollar Touch-Screen System...
By Brad Friedman on 11/29/2006 1:11pm PT  

Yesterday Sarasota County, FL, began their state-run test audits of the paperless ES&S touch-screen systems used in Florida's 13th District House race where 18,000 votes disappeared, resulting in a 369 vote margin between Christine Jennings (D) and Vern Buchanan (R) to fill the seat vacated by former Secretary of State of Katherine Harris.

The first day of testing revealed miscounting errors on all four of the machines used during the test, according to the Sarasota Herald-Tribune and at least two citizen observers who blogged their account of the day's testing.

State officials who convened the panel blamed the miscounting on...wait for it...human error!

Of course they did. The panel itself has already been plagued with controversy after Election Integrity organizations criticized the selection of several members assigned to the commission, including the very partisan Alec Yasinsac, who appeared on the steps of Florida Supreme Court in 2000 wearing a "Bush Won" button, and David Drury, the state official who certified these particular systems in the first place for the state of Florida, declaring them safe and accurate for use in an election.

The first day of testing employed machines that were not actually used in the November 7th election (Friday's testing will include machines actually used that day) and were not performed under normal voting conditions (e.g., the machines were hung from the wall, instead of placed on stands to approximate the height they would be for most voters --- important, since these machines tend to register votes differently for tall voters than they do for other voters.)

Nonetheless, errors in the counting were registered by all of the machines used in testing. The results differed from the votes in "scripted" ballots that state testers had punched into them. Ironically, the errors ended up giving Jennings a higher vote total than she should have had according to the prepared voting scripts.

The Herald-Trib --- who, by the way, has reinstated its FL-13 Special Coverage page since we pointed out its removal a few days ago --- is reporting today that, "All four voting machines that officials used to simulate the Nov. 7 election had miscounts, and three of them had miscounts in the District 13 race."

A diarist over at DailyKos who has been on-site, covering the day-by-day details of the goings-on --- and who has a user name we well approve of --- "BeTheMedia" describes yesterday's results this way:

Some testers required two or three attempts to get a touch to register on the screen. Some appeared to have one in every three attempts to register a touch fail. So, even practiced test voters are having trouble with the touchscreens during the "audit." Not a good sign.
...
While today's procedure may have tested for a narrow range of possibilities, it failed to test broadly for a wider range of possibilities that could have been revealed by more rigorous and thorough testing. It is valid and reasonable for testing to try to make a system fail. That's what thorough testing is supposed to do.

The tests today did indeed revealed discrepancies. At least three votes recorded as undervotes in the election changed to Jennings votes in today's "audit." That's comes out to an approximate 7% shift in a race decided by less than two-tenths of one percent. It will be quite interesting to see how the State Division of Elections explains this shift.

And, of course, it is interesting to see how the State explained the shift, though their explanation is no longer much of a suprise...

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




Mayoral Candidate's Own Votes Repeatedly Flipped in County Clerk's Office --- in Front of County Clerk --- Told 'Election Must Go On, Go Get Court Order'
By Brad Friedman on 11/27/2006 5:30pm PT  

Yes, we're as tired of writing about it as you likely are of reading about it. But as run-off elections proceed (Arkansas's is tomorrow), touch-screen votes are still flipping from one candidate to the other on ES&S's touch-screen machines during early voting. (ES&S made the touch-screen machines in FL-13, btw.)

Heber Springs, Arkansas, mayoral run-off candidate Jackie McPherson began to suspect problems when both his mother-in-law and her mom told him their attempted vote for him flipped over to McPherson's opponent during early voting. He went to the Cleburne County Clerk's office to test the problem for himself --- in front of the County Clerk, who at first told him it was not possible --- and then they were both able to watch the vote flip about 20 times in a row.

McPherson says the head of the local Elections Commission then told him "the election would have to go on," and that he "would have to get a court order to review the machines and the problem that obviously exists."

Neato, huh?

Key grafs fom McPherson's description of his vote-flipping adventure at the County Clerk's office are below. The Sun-Times full coverage is here...

And the beat goes on...

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




Other Than That Mrs. Lincoln, How Was the Play?
By Brad Friedman on 11/27/2006 4:27pm PT  

Apropos of our previous piece --- in which we pointed out that nothing exists until the corporate mainstream media says it does --- Associated Press has now officially characterized the Florida 13th Congressional Race as a "meltdown" --- one which is "a microcosm of the 2000 Florida election fiasco that put George W. Bush in the White House."

Of course, simply calling it a "meltdown" (gosh, where have we heard that description before?), doesn't mean the corporate mainstream media will treat it as one. If it's really "a microcosm of 2000," one would think the issue would lead to banner headlines everywhere. It should, of course, since the only actual difference between Florida's Bush/Gore 2000 and Florida's Jennings/Buchanan 2006 is that, as good luck would have it, the balance of neither Congress nor the White House depends on the final outcome. But that's just a stroke of luck. One that --- one would think --- even the CMSM could connect the dots on.

But perhaps not.

Even Sarasota's Herald-Trib which, as we've previously pointed out, has been the bible of mainstream FL-13 coverage, has now disappeared their website link to, and apparently ceased updating, their FL-13 Special Coverage page.

We hope that will change since the story is, quite clearly, far from over down there and we've been closely following the Herald-Trib's excellent body of coverage and archives for reference.

But for now, at least, it's back to the blogs for the latest. Paul Kiel over at TPMMuckraker has the latest updates on this week's scheduled and controversial (some would say pre-discredited) state-run audit of the paperless ES&S touch-screen machines which caused 18,000 votes to disappear in the election.

UPDATE: We also meant to point you to this spot-on satire from H-T columnist Daryl Lease, by the way, when we originally published this article.

In case you missed it, over the Thanksgiving Weekend the Orlando Sentinel found that --- had the machines actually worked as well-advertised and promised --- the Democratic candidate Christine Jennings would have won the race that has since been certified by the state of Florida in favor of the Republican candidate Vern Buchanan.

With that, and the following statement from Katherine Harris (whose U.S. House seat, ironically, is the one at stake in FL-13) quoted by the AP article which kicked off this item --- "Now we're the national model instead of the national concern. There'll never be a hanging, dangling or pregnant chad again," she said in 2001 when Florida certified their "upgrade" to the machines they now use --- we might suggest the following new slogan for the Sunshine State...even if it's perhaps too long to fit on license plates:

Florida: Fucking up American Elections Since at Least 2000

For the record...AP also mentions that Florida's former and now-disgraced Secretary of State --- never one previously to let anything get between her and a press appearance --- seems to be taking a page from Diebold's Cut-and-Run PR Playbook at this point: "Harris, who lost her bid for U.S. Senate, did not respond to several messages left this week by The Associated Press."




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