Rupture feared; Workers contaminated; New evacs 'recommended'... PLUS: German study uses French data to corroborate findings from Austrian, U.S. scientists, suggesting Fukushima disaster should be reclassified as 'level 7' accident, on par with Chernobyl...
"It was a great demonstration of democracy, whether you agree or disagree with the outcome," Huffington Post's political reporter Howard Fineman told Ed Schultz on MSNBC late tonight, while discussing the results of the historic Wisconsin recall elections.
Fineman's comment is either accurate or it is not. Just as the results reported by the computers across the Badger State are either accurate or not. Who knows? Nobody in WI does, and that's exactly the problem.
The early Exit Poll results had reportedly predicted the race between Republican Gov. Scott Walker and Democratic Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett a virtual tie, leading media to plan for a long night tonight. A second round of Exit Polls results, however, was said to have given Walker a broader lead over Barrett. Even so, we were told, the race based on the Exit Poll data alone was still "too close to call." Those data were either accurate or they were not.
Of course, the raw, unadjusted Exit Polling data are no longer entrusted to us mere mortals. They can be seen only by members of the mainstream media, and we are simply left to trust them to report it all accurately to us or not. And when, after all, have we not been able to rely on the mainstream media to report everything accurately to us?
But never mind the Exit Polls. We've got real polls, real votes, actual ballots now to tell us who won or lost. If only we'd bother to actually count them...
After well over a year of political, if not all out civil war in Wisconsin in the wake of the state's Republican Gov. Scott Walker and the majority-GOP legislature unilaterally stripping many of the state's citizens of their rights to collectively bargain, Walker's fate is finally up for grabs today, along with that of his Lt. Governor Rebecca Kleefisch and the political balance of the state Senate via the seats of four Republican state Senators.
A Democratic win in just one of those Senate seats will return the majority in that body to the Democrats, making remarkably extreme actions like those we've seen over the past two years in the Badger State much more difficult to accomplish no matter who wins today's gubernatorial race.
But we'll see what happens today, tonight and, under several foreboding scenarios, over the next several weeks and/or months as the citizens of the state exercise some direct and wonderful democracy today at the ballot box --- or, at least, at the computerized tabulators.
Aside from expectedly heavy turnout being reported across the state (and particularly in Milwaukee), and races that are thought to be exceedingly tight, here are a few morning news items out of Wisconsin which may (or may not) turn out to have much more relevance in the near future, depending on how things go in the next several hours...
We're just back in town, with lots of catchup work to do. But with Wisconsin's Recall Elections tomorrow, here are some important actions that folks (of any party!) who care about accurate election results can do to help protect the election results.
Remember, WI mostly votes on paper ballots. Unfortunately, however, most of those paper ballots are tabulated in secret inside of computers systems similar or identical to ones which have failed time again elsewhere, as seen most recently in places like Palm Beach County, FL and New York City. In WI, there is no mandated manual examination of paper ballots after the computer tabulates them in order to make sure they were tabulated accurately. That's a very bad (and dangerous) system.
In New York City, it took nearly two years, but finally last month, ES&S, the company which manufacturers the paper-ballot optical scanners now used there, admitted that it was a flaw in their scanners which led to thousands of votes going uncounted during the 2010 elections. The company admitted to the system failure after the New York Daily News confirmed an error rate of 70% during the primary election and 54% in the general election in just one precinct in the South Bronx after a public records request and hand-count of the paper ballots. Those same flawed systems, the ES&S model DS200 paper-ballot op-scan system, are used in much of Lincoln, Portage and Wood Counties in WI.
There are many other systems used across the Badger State which have similarly failed in election after election. As always, "Democracy's Gold Standard" is a full public hand-count of ballots by actual human beings on election night, at the precinct, in front of all parties and video cameras, with results posted right there before ballots are moved anywhere. Unfortunately, that is rarely, if ever, done in Wisconsin. So it's up to you to try and help ensure the results on Tuesday are as accurate as possible, at least until those paper ballots are actually hand-counted and confirmed to have been tabulated accurately --- if they ever are.
To that end, here's a few things you can do tomorrow in Wisconsin (and one thing you can do even if you're not in Wisconsin), to help cover at least a few of the bases where computer tabulation systems can either be gamed or might simply malfunction to report inaccurate results...
Reports by the Miami Herald and by Democracy Now report that the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has "ordered Florida...to end a controversial voter purge that's primarily targeted Latino, Democratic and independent-minded voters" (see video below) may not be technically accurate.
Both refer to the two-page letter submitted by T. Christian Herren, the chief lawyer of the DOJ's Voting Rights Division, to FL officials which suggested that the purge, ordered by Republican Gov. Rick Scott under the unsubstantiated pretense that the state had thousands of non-citizens registered to vote, violated Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act because FL had not sought preclearance for the new voter roll purge either from the DOJ or a federal court. Herren, as the Miami Herald article observed, demanded that FL officials "advise whether the State intends to cease the practice," but stopped short of issuing an actual "order" that FL immediately cease and desist.
Election officials across the state have confirmed that the Governor's purge list includes hundreds, if not thousands, of legally registered U.S. citizens who are improperly identified as "non-citizens" to be removed from the rolls.
Only five of Florida's 67 counties are "covered jurisdictions" under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. That means that while Supervisors of Elections in some counties had vowed not to carry out Scott's purge, others, like Seminal County's Republican Supervisor of Elections Mike Ertel, signified their intent to carry out what amounts to a new form of GOP "caging lists" in which those voters who do not respond to official letters in a designated fashion are automatically purged from the eligible voter rolls. On Friday, an attorney from the Florida State Association of Supervisors of Elections, representing all 67 counties, sent a memo to officials recommending they do not carry out the scrub as called for by the state.
The DOJ letter to FL also noted that the voter roll purge across the entire state appears to be in violation of the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA), which bans the removal of voters from the rolls in the 90 days prior to a federal election. Florida is set to hold its federal primary election on August 14th, making May 16th the last legal day for the type of voter roll maintenance the state now claims to be carrying out.
Even assuming that Herren's letter to the state amounts to a DOJ "order," it may not be enough to stop what The Advancement Project estimated in its May 17 letter to Herren [PDF] could ultimately produce an illegal purge of as many as 180,000 otherwise eligible voters based on a flawed, eleventh hour pre-election effort to match voter rolls against the FL driver's license data base.
After receiving the letter from the DOJ, Florida Dept. of State Spokesperson Chris Cates said they intended to continue with their purge anyway. "Bottom line is," Cates told Think Progress, "we are firmly committed to doing the right thing and preventing ineligible voters from being able to cast a ballot."
The purge has already ensnared U.S. citizens like Bill Internicola, the 91-year old, Brooklyn-born, World War II veteran and Bronze Star recipient who fought in the Battle of the Bulge and Archibald Bowyer, another 91-year old WWII vet who has been citizen since the age of 2, and who received his letter from the state warning he would be purged just as his wife had died.
To halt the purge, groups like the ACLU and the DOJ may need to initiate a federal lawsuit in which they seek yet another preliminary injunction, like the one issued late Thursday by U.S. District Court Judge Robert L. Hinkle in League of Women Voters v. Browning [PDF]. That ruling, as we reported on Thursday, spoke to a different aspect of this year's GOP voter suppression effort in FL. Hinkle's ruling ordered an official federal injunction on the draconian restrictions imposed on voter registration workers by the FL GOP, which had earlier led to groups like the League of Women Voters of Florida being forced to cancel their voter registration drives for the first time in some 70 years.
Florida has until June 6th to official respond to the U.S. Dept. of Justice.
* * *
Video of Democracy Now segment on the DOJ's response to the FL purge follows...
As I'm on the road and largely off the grid this week, I was about to post the following video from last night's Rachel Maddow Show, thanking her for covering so much of what we've been covering here at The BRAD BLOG, for so long, in one nice long top-of-show segment.
I'm still going to do that, but below that, I'm happy to post a press release just sent out by the non-partisan Brennan Center for Justice at NYU, breaking the news that a federal judge has issued a preliminary injunction blocking the "key provisions of a restrictive voting law in Florida today." The Brennan Center describes the ruling as "a breakthrough victory for Florida voters and voting rights advocates nationwide."
The new law, H.B. 1355, had included onerous criminal restrictions on third-party voter registration workers. The new rules were so onerous, in fact, that the League of Women Voters of Florida was forced to call off their registration drive in the state for the first time in 70 years. In the wake of the FL GOP's new law, high school teachers had been charged with crimes for registering their own students to vote, and a registration worker had received a threatening letter from the Sec. of State for turning in voter registrations one hour late after a holiday weekend.
U.S. District Court Judge Robert L. Hinkle blocked most of the FL law's new registration requirements today, finding they accomplished little more than suppressing the registration of new voters without serving any legitimate state interest. "If the goal is to discourage voter-registration drives and thus also to make it harder for new voters to register, this may work," wrote Hinkle in his frequently scathing decision [PDF].
The Brennan Center quotes from Hinkle's ruling this way: "Together speech and voting are constitutional rights of special significance; they are the rights most protective of all others, joined in this respect by the ability to vindicate one's rights in a federal court. … [W]hen a plaintiff loses an opportunity to register a voter, the opportunity is gone forever ... And allowing responsible organizations to conduct voter-registration drives --- thus making it easier for citizens to register and vote --- promotes democracy."
See the Brennan Center's full release today posted below. It's very good news, as once again another law passed by the GOP with the intention of nothing more than suppressing the vote of largely Democratic-leaning voters is found to be in violation of the Constitution and/or federal law, as has been the case with almost every single one of these GOP-passed laws over the past year --- at least when someone (too often not the U.S. Dept. of Justice, unfortunately) bothers to go to court to challenge them.
Yesterday, at Rolling Stone, Ari Berman had calculated that some 35,000 Florida voters stand to be purged this year if the Republicans' new voter suppression efforts there are carried out in full.
As to Rachel Maddow last night, here's some of the very important coverage she offered at the top of the show, including details on the state of Florida's current effort to purge thousands of legal voters from the rolls by claiming, inaccurately, that they are non-citizens. (NOTE: That effort is a separate voter suppression measure by Republicans in the state of Florida, and is not related to today's federal court ruling blocking the earlier voter suppression measure by Republicans in the state of Florida)...
Four hundred and eighty-eight voters, all but four lifelong Democrats, and nearly all Black, had their voting history erased by Shelby County (Memphis) election workers, setting them up for purge from the voter list. These selective alterations appear to target the race of US Congressman Steve Cohen (D-TN-09).
To alter voting histories for a selected set of voters, putting them at risk for strategically selected and improper removal from the voting list, is to demean them, to treat them as if they have less worth as human beings than they do. And to demean them is to wrong them. What Shelby County's election staff has done, in altering the records, is morally wrong.
Shelby County voters owe a debt of gratitude to Darrick "D" Harris (no relation). This information has come to light because, when I spoke with Harris by telephone recently, he expressed concern to me about his discovery that his voting history had somehow evaporated.
An active Democratic voter and political consultant, Harris had copies of voter databases containing his own voter history. He knows he votes regularly, but as of Oct. 2011, the voter list reports that he has never voted --- not once!...
"Last night," Daily Kos blogger "Wisco Wherls" wrote today, "I felt like an atypically politically-motivated little kid on Christmas Eve waiting to receive the only gift I asked for: a chance to reclaim our Wisconsin from tyranny."
Wisco was so excited about the first day of Early Voting in the Badger State's historic recall elections of Republican Gov. Scott Walker, Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch and four Republican state Senators, that he (or she?) "ascended the front steps [of the Middleton City Hall] at 7:40 a.m., five minutes earlier than the building was even scheduled to open," in order to be among the first to cast a vote for Tom Barrett for Governor and Mahlon Mitchell for Lieutenant Governor.
Wisconsin voters were supposed to be able to cast early, in-person "absentee ballots" beginning today, according to state law and a memo sent to the state's Municipal Clerks [PDF] last week by the Government Accountability Board (G.A.B.), the state's top election agency. But, alas, Wisco would leave disappointed this morning --- unable to cast what he/she had hoped might even be the first recall vote cast in the entire state --- after being told (inaccurately) that absentee ballots for Early Voting had not yet arrived at the Middleton municipal City Hall.
"I left my phone number and received confirmation that they will supposedly call me as soon as the ballots arrive," Wisco wrote today. "I guess that's what I get for getting my ass out of bed early for once. Nothing like waking up on Christmas morning only to find a lump of fucking coal in your stocking."
The blogger, appropriately enough, described the situation as "unequivocally unacceptable."
But we may have some good news for Wisco Wherls and the rest of Wisconsin's voters. The problem that he/she ran into may have been only an isolated incident, and the result of a miscommunication at the Middleton City Hall, at least according to a statement we received from the G.A.B. late today, after we'd inquired about the reported problem.
Though there remain other concerns with the way Municipal Clerks are handling the delay in the printing and receipt of official absentee ballots, which had not yet arrived at some municipalities around the state in time for the first official day for Early Voting...
The head of a firm which was paid some $50,000 by the Republican Party in Sacramento to sign up new Republican voters this year has "an extensive criminal history, including a prison sentence for stealing from a family she befriended and buying a van with funds stolen from a youth agency."
Moreover, one of the employees that "professional con-artist" Monica Harris, the head of the GOP's Momentum Political Services, hired to work with her at the firm, where she was paid per Republican registration, recently pleaded guilty to fraud charges in a multimillion-dollar mortgage scheme.
The growing scandal, all but ignored by those on the Right who professionally pretend that Democrats and ACORN are stealing elections, underscores yet again the extent to which the Republican Party is willing to go in order to win elections, even while falsely accusing Democrats of undermining them...
Absentee ballots that normally would have been sent to voters as early as Tuesday won't get mailed until Friday, according to the head of the state's election agency.
The situation arose because of a conflict between state election law and the state constitution, which lays out a tight time frame between a primary and recall election, said Kevin Kennedy, director of the state Government Accountability Board.
Under one state law, absentee ballots should have been available Tuesday because the recall election of Gov. Scott Walker and four GOP state senators is three weeks away, on June 5. But another law says ballots cannot be made available in a general election until after the period to ask for a recount in the primary passes, and that won't happen for the May 8 primary until Friday, Kennedy said.
Normally, there is a longer period between a primary and general election. But the state constitution requires four weeks between a primary and a recall election. That causes conflicts between the absentee schedule and the election certification schedule, Kennedy said.
As a result, a small number of people who will be out of town June 5 won't be able to vote because they won't be able to get an absentee ballot this week, Kennedy said Tuesday.
"We're dealing with a short time frame," Kennedy said. "Some people are going to get caught."
State law used to allow election clerks to email absentee ballots to voters at the discretion of the clerks. Voters would then fill out the ballots and return them through traditional mail. But last year, Republican lawmakers eliminated the ability of clerks to do that except in limited circumstances.
"It would be wise to go back to allowing municipal clerks to transmit (ballots) electronically. We thought it was shortsighted" for legislators to change that law, Kennedy said.
The Journal-Sentinel goes on to report that the Republican who amended the law claimed the change was needed "because some municipalities emailed out ballots while others did not, and she thought all communities should handle it the same way." And her even weaker reasoning was that "what voters returned by traditional mail had to be transferred by clerks onto ballots, which she said could be time-consuming for staff on election day."
While this development doesn't seem, in and of itself, to be an issue nefariously targeted at undermining the Scott Walker recall election specifically (as it had appeared in some of the more vague reportage I'd seen elsewhere this morning), it's certainly troubling for those folks leaving town this week who will not receive ballots in time to vote, and who will have no recourse to receive them while overseas. Those folks are most likely disenfranchised, whether that was the plan or not, thanks to the short-sighted amendment to state law written by state Sen. Mary Lazich, Republican of New Berlin.
The mailers, which offered incorrect dates and deadlines, and instructed voters to send back the forms to the PO Box of a "Right to Life" group in Wisconsin, were sent out not only by the Kochs' AFP, but almost identical misleading mailers were sent out by a mysterious "group" calling itself "United Sportsmen of Wisconsin". As The BRAD BLOG subsequently reported, to the surprise of almost nobody, the front man for that purported WI gun organization, John W. Connors, turns out to have been a longtime AFP affiliate and National Director, with a history of running deceptive campaigns.
Watch for these same insidious democracy haters and their ugly dirty tricks tactics to appear very soon now in advance of the historic June 5th recall elections of Walker, his Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch and four Republican state Senators whose seats --- along with the political balance of the state Senate --- are all now up for grabs.
New paper ballot optical-scan computer tabulator systems used to tally millions of votes in New York --- as well as "swing states" such as Florida, Ohio and Wisconsin --- do not tally votes correctly. That stunning admission comes courtesy of a new report released by the private company which manufactures, sells, services and programs the systems which are now believed to have mistallied tens of thousands of ballots in New York in 2010.
The votes of more than ten million voters could be affected by a newly revealed failure in the voting systems set for use in those four states in this year's Presidential election, and in more than 50 different jurisdictions in Wisconsin during next month's historic recall elections.
Election Systems & Software, Inc. (ES&S), the largest e-voting machine company in the U.S. and the maker of the paper ballot op-scan tally systems in question, have confirmed that their systems may overheat when used over several hours (for example, during an election!), and that they then may mistally and/or incorrectly discard anywhere from 30% to 70% of votes scanned by the machines.
The only way to know that a hand-marked paper ballot had been mistallied by the system would be to examine the ballots by hand to assure that the computer had read and recorded the voters' selections correctly.
The New York Daily News editorial board --- which has been persistently forcing the issue on state Election Officials who initially ignored massive mistallies discovered in the South Bronx during the state's 2010 election --- reports on ES&S' confirmation of the latest failure in a story headlined "We told you so: Newfangled voting machine screwed up". Their article today begins this way...
You know those new electronic vote-scanning machines that are supposed to be foolproof in reading and counting every ballot in an election? Well, they're anything but foolproof.
In fact, they can screw up voter tallies to a fare-thee-well even after technicians carefully calibrate and test them.
So state and city election officials have discovered, along with the machine's manufacturer, thanks to insistent prodding by this page.
Earlier this year, the newspaper discovered --- through public records requests for the paper ballots in a single precinct in the South Bronx --- that the ES&S model DS200 op-scan system had failed to count some 70% of paper ballots correctly in the 2010 primary election. In that November's general election, some 54% of the ballots were mistallied at the same precinct.
The result, as confirmed by ES&S, tens of thousands of perfectly valid votes may have gone uncounted, while thousands of "phantom votes" in races that voters hadn't intended to vote in at all were counted as valid votes.
The Daily News characterizes the initial response by election officials in NY, after the paper had discovered the massive failures, as "a statement of severe psychological denial."
All of the above likely sounds very familiar to long-time readers of The BRAD BLOG, where we are considering changing the name of our news site to "We Told You So: Newfangled Voting Machines Screw Up," as a tip of the hat to the NY Daily News, and to better reflect a great deal of our nearly 10 years worth of content here.
Unfortunately, the latest example of secret vote-tallying computers made by private companies failing to accurate tally our once-public elections, is not only affecting New York. Moreover, the failure isn't isolated to the ES&S model DS200 paper ballot optical-scan system. As we've reported here for years, and on a number of recent occasions over just the past few months, similar failures have been discovered in other states and on other similarly designed paper ballot optical-scan systems.
If you think that simply because you are not forced to vote on a 100% unverifiable touch-screen voting machine that your ballot will be counted and counted accurately this year, think again...
Good news for democracy. Bad news for the GOP deceivers and the billionaire sociopaths, like the Koch brothers, who fund them. Missouri's courts have shown that their state's nickname, "The Show-Me State," is apropos.
In Weinschenk v. State (2006), the MO Supreme Court struck down a GOP-enacted polling place photo ID law because it violated the Equal Protection clause of the MO Constitution which treats voting as a "fundamental right." It recognized a compelling governmental interest in preventing voter fraud, but observed that "the Photo-ID Requirement is intended to prevent only impersonation of a registered voter and will not affect absentee ballot or registration fraud."
As the GOP could not muster evidence of in-person impersonation, they failed to establish that their 2006 Photo ID law was narrowly tailored to achieve a compelling governmental interest. The Court, in Weinschenk, based on the facts presented, also determined that the 2006 GOP Photo ID law operated as an unconstitutional poll tax, thereby violating the 24th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
But since when have Republicans hell-bent on undermining our system of electoral democracy let a few negative court rulings or fundamental Constitutional rights stand in their way?...
Then I was joined by Sacramento, CA Registrar of Voters Jill Lavine to discuss the thousands of fraudulent voter registration forms turned in by the GOP-hired firmed Momentum Political Services, as we detailed late last week. Lavine tells me that she's confident that in her nine years as Registrar, there has been no in-person impersonation at the polling place, despite the continuing pattern of GOP voter registration fraud in the state and the Republican push to disenfranchise (largely Democratic) voters by claiming, disingenuously, that polling place Photo ID restrictions have anything to do with "voter fraud".
We then enjoyed a quick visit with the lovely Desi Doyen from the Green News Report, fresh off her guest-hosting gig this afternoon on The Young Turks (I'll try to post that video soon!)
Finally, since it's called The BradCast, I was joined by Brad Jacobson to discuss his terrifying new report at Alternet on the "ticking time-bomb" that is the precarious Spent Fuel Pool --- now fully exposed, 100 feet off the ground in a listing building --- at Fukushima Daiichi's reactor #4. His report should scare the hell out of you. It certainly does me. And the scariest part: It's being covered by virtually nobody in the mainstream corporate media. I guess that's what The BradCast is for.
Last week, The BRAD BLOG's legal analyst Ernest Canning reported on the lawsuit filed by the League of Women Voters, the NAACP and the ACLU in Pennsylvania, together with the Homeless Advocacy Project and the Advancement Project, against the state Republicans' new polling place Photo ID restriction passed into law in March.
The law, unless it's blocked, is set to make it much harder, if not impossible for many previously-legal student, elderly, minority and urban dwelling voters to cast their vote this November.
Canning predicts, however, that, like a similar GOP law in Wisconsin this year, and one in Missouri back in 2006, the new attempt to remove voting rights will be found in violation of the fundamental right to vote guaranteed under Pennsylvania's state Constitution. We'll see if he's correct.
In the meantime, the lawsuit, Applewhite vs Commonwealth of Pennsylvania [PDF] names 11 plaintiffs, the majority of whom have tried to get a birth certificate in order to then obtain their so-called "free" ID to vote from the state under the new law --- only to be told there is no record of their births. Several of those plaintiffs, not surprisingly, were born in the Jim Crow south and are now facing the forces of disenfranchisement again under the GOP law this year even up in the Keystone State in 2012.
Last week, MSNBC's Al Sharpton interviewed the lead plaintiff in the complaint, 92-year old Viviette Applewhite who marched for civil rights alongside Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in Georgia, and who has been voting in Presidential elections without a problem for more than 50 years. She has never had a driver's license and, though she says she paid a fee for a birth certificate from the state, she has never received it.
Despite the fact that state officials have been unable to produce evidence of in-person, polling place impersonation --- the only type of voter fraud that could possibly be deterred by polling place Photo ID laws --- Republicans seem more than happy to disenfranchise long-time voters like Applewhite and potentially tens of thousands of others this year.
Applewhite says she believes it's all little more than an effort to stop President Obama from being re-elected, and she fears there are far more people than many realize who will be disenfranchised this year unless the law is overturned.
"Looks like most of the people in my building, they're senior citizens, but they don't have the proper thing to vote with," she says near the end of the interview, "and it's going to be a whole lotta people that's not going to be able to vote"...
Judith Browne Dianis, civil rights litigator at the Advancement Project also appears in the interview above and correctly notes: "This is not about preventing fraud, it's about preventing voting."
She is supported in that contention, ironically enough, by PA's Republican Governor Tom Corbett, seen in a clip above exhorting his supporters to help him keep turnout below 50% during his recent election. Moreoever, just after Corbett signed the GOP's voter suppression bill in March, he lied to the media by claiming that it was needed since Pennsylvanis had seen 112% voter turnout in some precincts. Longtime election watchdog Marybeth Kuznick of VotePA, however, told us the Governor's claim was "ludicrous."
For more on the plaintiffs in the PA complaint who are facing disenfranchisement for the first time in their lives --- folks like 59-year old Wilola Shinholster Lee, 72-year old Grover Freeland, 86-year old Dorothy Barksdale and 93-year old Bea Booker --- and why Ernie Canning predicts the new legal challenge will be successful in the Keystone State, see his report from last week right here.
You're unlikely to hear a peep about this on Fox "News" (unless they happen to have me on), but the California Secretary of State's Election Fraud Division is now reportedly investigating a firm hired by the Sacramento County Republican Party said to have submitted thousands of fraudulent voter registration forms.
According to a report today from Sacramento ABC affiliate News10 [see video posted below], a private, for-profit firm calling itself Momentum Political Services, hired by the local Republican Party "to boost GOP registration ranks in key battleground communities" has turned in more than 3,100 invalid voter registration cards during their recent drive.
[UPDATE 5/7/12: According to Sacramento Bee's 5/5/12 report, the number of bad registration forms is much higher than 3,100. The paper reports that since September, out of some 31,000 cards turned in by Momentum Political Services, "at least one-fourth of them have been thrown out because of inaccuracies," according to the Sacramento Registrar of Voters. That puts the questionable registrations from the GOP's company at more than 7,500.]
Voter registration forms have allegedly been turned in with fake addresses, voter names that don't exist, duplicate Social Security numbers, and party affiliations that seem to have been changed "by someone" to Republican. The head of the firm has admitted she has hired workers with criminal backgrounds, as found via Craigslist.
The charges of serial voter registration fraud sound very similar to those leveled in 2008 against another outfit hired by the California State GOP to register Republican voters before that year's Presidential election. In that case, the head of the firm was arrested, and eventually pleaded guilty to voter registration charges himself.
In 2006, another firm hired by the CA Republican Party turned in thousands of registration forms with fake names and an error rate as high as 60 percent. And in 2004, a firm hired by the GOP was investigated in a number of states for shredding Democratic voter registrations and tossing them into dumpsters. Despite those allegations, the same folks were later hired by the McCain/Palin campaign in 2008 to run voter registration drives before the Presidential election.
Of course, you probably haven't heard of any of those stories, even while you've heard plenty about a handful of ACORN workers --- no actual ACORN officials, mind you, and they were never hired by the Democratic Party, and never led to a fraudulent vote --- turning in fraudulent registration forms in past years.
But nobody who ever worked for the non-profit ACORN has ever been accused of what these Republican firms continue to do on behalf of the Republican officials who hire them, paying them per Republican registration, year after year, as is once again apparent in the allegations surfacing today against Momentum Political Services...
92-year old Viviette Applewhite, 59-year old Wilola Shinholster Lee, 72-year old Grover Freeland, 86-year old Dorothy Barksdale and 93-year old Bea Booker are just a few of the Pennsylvania residents and long-time legal voters now fighting to retain their right to vote under the state GOP's new polling place Photo ID restrictions, according to a new lawsuit filed this week in the Keystone State.
The complaint goes on to argue that "there are countless other Pennsylvanians like them [some 80-90,000 according to the state's own data], who will lose the most cherished of all rights, the right to vote, unless the Photo ID Law is declared unconstitutional."
There is now, indeed, a very good chance that the law will, in fact, be declared unconstitutional according to The BRAD BLOG's analysis of the complaint, the state constitution and prior rulings in similar cases.
PA is just the latest of more than a dozen states over the past year where Republican-controlled legislatures and executive mansions have instituted voter disenfranchising polling place Photo ID restrictions. Governor Tom Corbett signed his state's bill into law in March, and promptly lied about his reasons for supporting the removal of voting rights for those lacking Photo ID on Election Day, claiming, without evidence, that some precincts in the state had 112% voter turnout in recent elections. As we reported at the time, that charge was dismissed as "ludicrous" and without evidence by a longtime state election integrity expert.
Nonetheless, "Act 18" has become the law of the land in Pennsylvania, for now, and, unless successfully challenged, will require that voters present a state-issued Photo ID when voting at the polling place in this year's November Presidential election for the very first time.
For the identical reasons that The BRAD BLOG accurately predicted that the League of Women Voters' legal challenge to a polling place Photo ID restriction law under similar provisions of the Wisconsin's Constitution would prevail (absent a political intervention from the Badger State's extraordinarily partisan Supreme Court), we also predict that new legal challenge filed this week in PA, attempting to block the state's draconian polling place Photo ID law, will similarly succeed...