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Federal Oversight Agency Continues Refusal to Notify Election Administrators About Known Failures in E-Voting Systems...
By Brad Friedman on 11/13/2007 11:57am PT  

By Brad Friedman from Richfield, Utah...

If there's a more ineffective federal agency than the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC), we're unaware of it.

The EAC was created in 2002 by the Help America Vote Act (HAVA), in large part to oversee federal certification and maintenance of e-voting systems for the entire country. One of their key mandates was to be a "clearinghouse" for information concerning such systems. Though they have been twice reprimanded by the non-partisan Government Accountability Office (GAO) for their failure to set up such a clearinghouse of information concerning known problems with voting systems, another news report over the weekend confirms that they are more determined than ever to avoid any such responsibility.

Incredible comments given by EAC spokesperson Jeannie Layson and EAC Chairwoman Donnetta Davidson to the Daytona Beach News-Journal underscore the agency's hellbent efforts to avoid any and all responsibility for alerting election officials to known failures of electronic voting systems made by private corporations such as Diebold, ES&S, Sequoia, and others.

The BRAD BLOG has chronicled the short, but storied, history of the EAC's failures, compromised nature, and unwillingness to do their job over the years, but the latest comments --- and subsequent lack of action --- as reported yesterday by M.C. Moewe in the News-Journal are nothing short of astonishing...

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

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By Brad Friedman on 11/8/2007 12:01am PT  

Blogged by Brad from Vegas, here for BlogWorld Expo...

Late last night I posted a sampling of some of the early problem reports coming in from Tuesday's election and noted that, as has been the pattern we've noticed, the early reports from the media, on the day of any election, tend to downplay problems with voting systems. That, in no small part, is because the media rely, at first, on information from Election Officials who have a vested interest in downplaying any problems as little more than a "glitch" here or there.

I also noted the breadth of actual Election Day problems with voting systems tend to come a day or so (or even longer) thereafter.

Based on John Gideon's "Daily Voting News" roundup tonight, I'd say the assessment was spot on. If nothing else, please just click that link, and browse down the headlines he has listed tonight, covering stories across the country on problems that occurred Tuesday.

And then remind yourself that this was an off-year election, with very low turnout in most places around the country. What could possibly go wrong when the real voting begins in early 2008 and beyond?

What the hell are we thinking?

(NOTE: I may be off-grid for much of the next day or two at least. So watch for brilliant Guest Bloggers to swoop in and take my place in driving you mad.)

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Voting Machines Failures Reported (So Far) in Indiana, Georgia, Pennsylvania, Colorado, & Maryland...
UPDATE: Naturally, Ohio Joins the Group of States with Voting Failures...
By Brad Friedman on 11/7/2007 5:35am PT  

Voter turnout was light in many parts of the country yesterday. Ironically enough, that's the good news.

Alternet ran a preview of voter suppression issues of concern in yesterday's elections across the country. Sure enough, the author, Steve Rosenfeld, wrote in during the early evening to let us know there were problems concerning Photo ID issues popping up in pockets around the country, and that he'd have more soon. Our own Alan Breslauer touched base as well with several reports he'd been getting from around the country.

John Gideon's "Daily Voting News" yesterday pointed to some of those issues that had been reported in the media as of yesterday afternoon around the country. GOP voter suppression, through specious claims of Democratic "voter fraud" and the invented "need," therefore, for disenfranchising photo ID laws and challenges at the polls, is at the top of the Republican strategy for '08. Naturally, it was taken out for a test spin yesterday.

(Speaking of spin, don't miss wingnut Mychal Massie's despicable retread diatribe --- including the mandatory quotes from GOP "voter fraud" fraudster, John Fund, who wrote the book on it, literally --- in the wingnut WorldNetDaily. His tragically misguided piece, headlined "Vote fraud: Democrats' meal ticket" gives you just about all you need to know. Read it once, save yourself a thousand or so near-identical reads between now and November 2008. But we digress...)

The other major prong of voter disenfranchisment is, of course, the machine issue. Problems in that area, in particular, tend to reveal themselves in the days after elections. Early on election day such problems are frequently downplayed in the media, who tend to turn to Election Officials for information despite the inherent conflict of interest such officials have in hoping to portray their elections as "successful."

In the early hours, then, hints of such breakdowns are reported as little more than computer "glitches" "hiccups" "snafus" and "snags" (though "kinks" makes it debut today, see below) until later on, when the true extent of the voting system failures --- and that's what they are, not "kinks" --- become known.

With that in mind, here are just a few of those e-voting glitches, hiccups, snafus, snags, and yes, kinks, from around the country so far yesterday, as culled from Gideon's DVN last night...

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

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Company Recommends 'Rescheduling Elections,' Calling Voters to 'Re-Vote' as Part of Memory Card Failure Procedures; We Recommend Suing the Bastards...
ALSO: Voter-Supression Tactics in Play Around the US Today...
By Brad Friedman on 11/6/2007 4:22pm PT  


A good report from a couple of days ago from the I-Team in Cleveland, Ohio. Unfortunately, they tend to run such reports just before Election Days, when it's too damned late to do a damn thing about it.

Nonetheless, some very good stuff here. Of particular note are the points from Diebold's recommendations which "appear to border on the absurd," that should voting machine memory cards be lost, "elections must be re-scheduled." Or if they fail, as our recent story concerning Diebold's admissions about memory card failures in Florida pointed towards, the company says "all voters will have to be called in to re-vote."

Heckuva voting system guys. Check out the report, above right.

NOTE: Discussion of suing Diebold comes up in this piece yet again. Along with the same concerns, as heard elsewhere, about "the Catch-22" of suing voting machine vendors. Namely, counties are afraid to sue the company they rely on to run their next election! The counties and the vendors are "joined at the hip," as the I-Team report points out. Call it a soft form of extortion, really.

If you haven't already, please sign VoterAction's petition calling on Congress to "conduct a full investigation into the dangers associated with the privatization of our public elections and to determine whether certain US voting systems companies have committed crimes under federal and state anti-fraud laws."

For an early look at concerns, largely of voter-suppression issues, around the country, Alternet has a very good state-by-state preview this morning.

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Measure, Co-Sponsored by 13 Dems, Would Prohibit 'Voter Supression' Tactic as Used in Florida in 2004 by Former Rove Associate, Interim US Attorney Tim Griffin...
By Brad Friedman on 11/5/2007 3:37pm PT  

Thirteen Democratic Senators have introduced a bill that would outlaw "voter caging," the practice of sending mail marked "Do Not Forward" to a targeted list of voters in hopes of using the returned mailings as a basis to challenge the right of the voters to vote.

The tactic was used by Republican operatives in both the 2000 and 2004 election, despite the Republican party having agreed in two consent decrees in 1981 and 1986 to end the practice.

A press release from Sen. John Kerry's (D-MA) office announcing the new bill is posted in full below.

"The practice of 'caging' is reprehensible and has absolutely no place in our democracy," Kerry says in the statement. "Here in America, every citizen, regardless of race, gender, religion or sexual orientation has the right to cast his or her vote. These are the very foundations of our democracy and this bill will ensure that we protect fundamental freedoms for millions of voters across our country."

The press release goes on to refer to evidence, much of it reported over the years here at The BRAD BLOG, of GOP vote caging that took place in important swing states such as Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania during the 2004 election. Kerry's statement also points out the re-emergence of the topic earlier this year, after former DoJ staffer Monica Goodling testified to a Congressional panel that information concerning the involvement of former Karl Rove associate and GOP opposition researcher Tim Griffin in voter caging had not been fully disclosed during previous Congressional testimony.

Goodling's revelations led to Griffin's sudden (and teary) resignation from his post as interim US Attorney in Arkansas, where he had been appointed by the DoJ under new provisions in the PATRIOT Act allowing such appointments without congressional approval.

The controversial practice of vote caging has been used primarily to target minority voters; evidence has shown that some who ended up on the caging lists were military personnel who were unable to return the mailings because they were deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan.

A DoJ investigation into Griffin's, and the GOP's, 2004 vote caging activities was then demanded by several U.S. senators last June. The American mainstream media have given little coverage to the issue of caging, despite original reporting from Greg Palast and the BBC prior to the 2004 Presidential Election.

In addition to Kerry, the original co-sponsors of the legislation include Senators Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Russ Feingold (D-Wis.), Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Barack Obama (D-Ill.), Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), and Chris Dodd (D-Conn.)

UPDATE: Here's the actual bill [PDF]. Looks good from a quick read, though the part that allows the U.S. Elections Assistance Commission (EAC) --- a four-member commission appointed by the President, and which has proven tremendously inept and compromised in all manner of things --- to add new reasons why voters may be challenged is a concern. The EAC shouldn't be entrusted with anything, much less deciding criteria for challenging voters' right to vote. But that's just our knee-jerk opinion.

The press statement from Kerry's office, announcing "The Caging Prohibition Act," is posted in full below...

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

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With Elections Impending Next Week, Company Downplays, Hides Failure Rate
Will The U.S. Elections Assistance Commission Take Action?...
By John Gideon on 11/4/2007 12:35pm PT  

Guest Blogged by John Gideon, VotersUnite.Org

Saturday's Daytona Beach News-Journal reports that Diebold Election Systems, now having renamed itself Premier Election Solutions, has admitted that some of its 25,000 optical scan voting machines used in Florida and elsewhere across the nation may have a problem that causes memory card failures during elections.

As we would expect, Florida election officials and Diebold/Premier have downplayed the problem as they say that the problem does not threaten the integrity of U.S. elections. However, the Volusia County, FL Supervisor of Elections, Ann McFall, said [emphasis ours], "I don't think votes are lost". Her office has also admitted that the problem has caused problems and adds to the cost of elections.

The U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) has yet to take action on this matter, despite impending elections, the commission's statutory mission as the oversight body for certification of electronic voting systems their mandated mission to be a "national clearinghouse" for information on them and two GAO reports critical of their failure to do any of the above. If they follow previous patterns, they will do absolutely nothing to alert other states and counties who use the same system, about this problem.

Diebold/Premier, of course, and again, is attempting to downplay the severity of their failures in Florida and refusing to release their own information gathered on it, characterizing the true extent of the failure as "proprietary business information"...

In Volusia County during the November 2006 election, 11 of 249 optical scan memory cards had to be replaced, according to a county report. In Flagler County, one of 51 cards failed.

Diebold officials said the 4.4 percent error rate in Volusia was unusual, that the average was about 1 percent. The company conducted a survey of 27 Florida counties that use its machines but refused to release the results, calling them "proprietary business information."

But because the News-Journal could not get the percentages from Diebold/Premier, they submitted public records requests to all counties affected and found the results were not quite as rosy as the company would have us believe...

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

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Mayor Calls for 'Paper Ballots'; County Clerk Lies About Federal Law to Support the Continued Use of Her Democracy-Busting DRE Voting System...
By Brad Friedman on 11/2/2007 7:04pm PT  

The latest e-vote mess with Texas...

A Travis County judge ruled Thursday that West Lake Hills' last City Council election will not be overturned, prompting the city's mayor to blast the electronic voting machines used in the election and call for a return to paper ballots.

The judge ruled on a lawsuit filed by Robin Vaughan, who lost by two votes in the city's May 2006 council election.
...
Two voters testified that poll workers confused them with people who have similar names and gave them incorrect electronic ballots that did not include the West Lake Hills races.
...
Minutes later [after the judge's verdict], West Lake Hills Mayor Mark Urdahl, who had supported Vaughan's unsuccessful campaign, said electronic voting machines were responsible for the dispute and should no longer be used. He said a major flaw with electronic voting is that, instead of poll workers handing out a ballot with personal information a voter can confirm, the workers hand out a ticket with a string of seemingly meaningless numbers that is inserted into a machine.

"If we had a paper ballot," Urdahl said after the trial, "we wouldn't be here."

So how many more such cases are we going to see in next week's elections, and more notably, in next year's elections? Hope you're ready for the meltdown to come.

In the above matter, it looks like the Travis County Clerk was more than happy to lie to the reporter so she could continue using her democracy-busting e-voting systems:

County Clerk Dana DeBeauvoir, who was at the trial, said the problems that led to the trial were caused by human error and are not inherent in voting machines. She told Urdahl that the county could not switch to paper ballots because doing so would violate federal and state laws intended to protect voters with disabilities.

That is, of course, complete and total bullshit.

Only one disabled accessible voting device (and it needn't be a DRE) is required per polling place, as per the federal Help America Vote Act. If Texas has some state law requiring that every voter use such systems, we are unaware of it. In other words, if the reporters quote was accurate, County Clerk DeBeauvoir was lying.

It's a shame the reporter on the piece, like so many at local papers who cover this beat on rare occassions, didn't know enough to call her on it.

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Opinions on Democracy, Media, Stolen Elections Now Posted on Tased, but not Confused, Andrew Meyer's Website...
By Brad Friedman on 10/30/2007 11:32am PT  

All criminal charges against Andrew "Don't Tase Me, Bro" Meyer have now been dropped in exchange for an apology from the 21-year old student. We guess he didn't "incite a riot" after all, as originally charged by the police [PDF] who tasered him.

AP covers here. NYTimes covers here.

Meyer, however, remains defiant, and stands by the line of questioning that got him tased (inappropriately, in our opinion) for asking three questions of Sen. John Kerry during a recent, now-infamous, event at the University of Florida (video here).

On his website today, now that he's out of hot water, Meyer posts a number of opinions including...

  • Tasers are bad: "Tasers are not 'non-lethal.' Since June 2001, more than 150 people in the United States have died after being struck by tasers. I do not believe a taser should have been used on me..."
  • Democracy is good: "We talk about fighting for democracy in Iraq. What about fighting for democracy at home? There is nothing more central to democracy than the right to vote, and while Americans are fighting and dying for democracy in Iraq, democracy in America is dying without a fight. America, our voting rights are being stolen from us..."
  • Our elections aren't fair: "Not only might your vote not count, but the "frontrunners" have already been decided for you. Why is anyone a "frontrunner" yet? No one has voted. ... The media, which is controlled by a few men, is deciding the agenda for the entire country..."
  • Forget about "Liberal" vs. "Conservative": "The United States have been divided. The country has been split into 'left vs. right,' 'Red state vs. Blue state,' 'CNN vs. FOX News.' This is all false division..."
  • Candidates on both sides are ignored: "The media has time all day to talk about Britney Spears or Lindsay Lohan, but millions of Americans have never heard the names Mike Gravel or Ron Paul..."
  • Stolen Elections: "The will of the American people was subverted in both the 2000 and 2004 elections..."
  • Wake up, America: "[D]emocracy depends on a free and fair election. If we the people do not decide the elections, than we the people are not living in a democracy. The problems of 2000 and 2004 have not been fixed. In fact, they have been expanded..."

Love him or hate him, we can't say we disagree with any of Meyer's general points. And we won't be issuing an apology about that.

Also not issuing apologies: Kerry and the majority of the students at the event who sat by and took no action as Meyer screamed in pain while being inappropriately tased by six police officers.

The Florida Police, however, acted appropriately according to a Florida Police review of the Florida Police actions. So we guess everything is just hunky-dory.

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Faces Extremely Pointed Questions from Committee Members, Furious About Recent Comments Reported by The BRAD BLOG...
UPDATED NOW WITH VIDEO OF THE MOST CONTENTIOUS Q&A's...
By Brad Friedman on 10/30/2007 7:25am PT  

We're up before the West Coast dawn this morning to monitor the hearings in the U.S. House Judiciary's Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties featuring John "Minorities Die First" Tanner. His recent objectionable comments were originally video-taped and reported by The BRAD BLOG several weeks ago.

The most objectionable of those comments including his contention that it was a "shame" that elderly voters might be disenfranchised by a 2005 Georgia Photo ID poll restriction that he approved on behalf of DoJ and against the advice of four out of five of his career staffers, minorities would somehow benefit from it. His twisted reasoning was that "because our society is such that minorities don't become elderly. The way white people do. They die first."

Tanner, incredibly, is still the Chief of the Voting Section in the DoJ's Civil Rights Division.

It's being carried live and webcast on C-Span 3, as well as via the Judiciary Committee's own webcast.

Major points in our story so far...

Beyond that, Progress Report has an excellent round up of Tanner's "Erosion of Voter Rights" during his tenure.

The hearings have now ended, but our notes from our Live-Blogging of today's hearings are below, along with video clips of the key, and most pointed exchanges...

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

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Email Sent to Supporters Describes Civil Rights Voting Chief's Comments as 'Pretty Unbelievable,' 'Last Straw'
Says: 'John Tanner has an obvious disregard for the voting rights of minorities and should not be in charge of protecting them'
By Brad Friedman on 10/23/2007 2:09pm PT  

"This is pretty unbelievable," begins the email send from the campaign manager of Presidential Candidate Barack Obama to supporters today.

The email, from David Pouffe, calls on members of the public to demand the DoJ fire its Civil Rights Division Voting Section chief, John Tanner, in the wake of disturbing and inaccurate comments, video-taped and first reported by The BRAD BLOG, as made during a recent panel discussion at the National Latino Congreso in Los Angeles.

The email, which exhorts readers to send emails to DoJ via their new "John Tanner Must Go" campaign at http://Action.BarackObama.com/TannerMustGo continues thusly [emphasis in original]:

John Tanner, the top ranking voting rights official at the Justice Department, was caught on video claiming that photo ID requirements do not disproportionately disenfranchise minority voters because: "Our society is such that minorities don't become elderly the way white people do; they die first."

He went on to argue, irrationally, that these requirements actually benefit minorities because: "Anything that disproportionately impacts the elderly has the opposite impact on minorities."

The letter to supporters from Obama's campaign manager, David Plouffe, is posted in full here.

Last week, Obama had sent a letter to Acting Attorney General Peter D. Keisler, demanding he immediately fire Tanner. Our coverage, along with his full letter, is here.

"The situation is clear," Plouffe writes in today's email after detailing a number of concerns about Tanner's record at the DoJ. "John Tanner has an obvious disregard for the voting rights of minorities and should not be in charge of protecting them."

Plouffe concludes by charging that "His recent comments are the last straw --- he must go."

Hearings have been tentatively confirmed by The BRAD BLOG as scheduled in the House Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties for October 30th at 10:00am ET. Tanner will be called as a witness and likely presented with clips from the video tape that we delivered yesterday in D.C. to committee staffers.

The chairman of the sub-committee, Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), has said he's hopeful that Tanner "will be as willing to provide lawmakers with the same candid views he has been providing at various public venues."

The chairman of the full House Judiciary Committee, Rep. John Conyers (D-MI), a 78-year old elderly minority member who, contrary to Tanner's assertions has not, in fact "die[d] first," has expressed consternation recently and over the years about the DoJ's chief voting official, including a 2005 letter in which he said he was "flabbergasted" at Tanner's contention that the reason for long voting lines in minority areas in Ohio's 2004 Presidential election was due to African Americans coming to the polls later in the day than non-minority voters.

The twisted conclusions from Tanner's "investigation" of voting problems reported during the 2004 Presidential election, including his assertion that minority voters actually had more access than whites to voting machines, were detailed in a letter, posted here in 2005, which can only be described as an extraordinary (and literal) "white washing" of the facts on the ground that day.

Conyers and his staff published a comprehensive report, entitled "Preserving Democracy: What Went Wrong in Ohio," as based on their own, far-reaching investigation after the election. We look forward to his questioning of Tanner next week.

Yesterday, we detailed additional allegations likely to be faced by Tanner in hearings next week.

A quick, video-taped snapshot of Tanner's most offensive --- and inaccurate, according to his former DoJ colleagues --- comments from the October 5th National Latino Congresso panel in Los Angeles, follows below...

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

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From DREs to the ACVR to the DOJ, The Republican Alphabet Soup Blueprint for Disenfranchisement and Miscounting in Next Year's Election Has Been a Well-Crafted and Well-Funded Work, Long in the Planning...
By Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman on 10/21/2007 5:04pm PT  

Special to The BRAD BLOG by Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman of The Columbus Free Press

ED NOTE: The following feature was originally published in the Autumn '07 print version of the Columbus Free Press. The comprehensive aerial overview --- connecting dots from 2000 to 2004 to the outlook for 2008, as based on a wide body of years-long investigative reportage and exposés as collected from a variety of sources, including The BRAD BLOG and many others --- offers such a useful round-up of "our story until now" that we thought running the piece in its entirety here would be a very good idea. We hope you agree.

With record low approval ratings for the Bush/Cheney regime and the albatross of an unpopular war hanging from the GOP's neck, do you think that a Democratic presidential candidate will win the White House, get us out of Iraq, and end our long national nightmare?

Think again – the mighty election theft machine Karl Rove used to steal the US presidency in 2000 and 2004 may be under attack, but it is still in place for the upcoming 2008 election.

With his usual devious mastery, Rove has seized upon the national outrage sparked by his electoral larceny and used it as smokescreen while he makes the American electoral system even MORE unfair, and even EASIER to rig. Thus the administration has fired federal attorneys when they would not participate in a nationwide campaign to deny minorities and the poor their access to the polls. It has spent millions of taxpayer dollars to install electronic voting machines that can be "flipped" with a few keystrokes. And under the guise of "reforming" our busted electoral system, it is setting us up for another presidential theft in 2008.

Thus it should come as no surprise that our exclusive investigations into the firings of eight federal prosecutors who refused to execute Rove’s plans for massive disenfranchisement of Democratic voters reveal a pattern of illegalities and fraud aimed at reducing the number of minority, poor and young voters at the core of Democratic support. In the wake of major news breaks, two felony convictions have come from the rigging of the illegal Ohio 2004 vote count and recount that gave George W. Bush a second illegitimate term. Stunning new admissions from county election boards that illegally destroyed voter records will almost certainly lead to new convictions. And the multi-million-dollar electronic voting machine scam that made possible the biggest electoral frauds in US history is under massive new attack, with key states moving to scrap the machines altogether in a desperate attempt to restore American democracy – but with the job far from done.

Rove, Ney and the Undead

Indeed, the Rovian theft engine is far from dead. The media groundwork has already been laid out for the Republicans to claim that hordes of illegal aliens have registered to vote. The Bush administration has been caught ordering public agencies – possibly in violation of the law – to cease registering voters. In an April, 2006 speech to the Republican National Lawyers Association, Rove openly alluded to the strategy of demanding photo ID and purging voter roles of poor, minority voters just as had been done in 2000 and 2004. And, as always with Bush/Rove, there is much more beneath the surface.

All that has happened to challenge the GOP death grip on the American vote count has been reported in the pages of Hustler and on the internet at FreePress.org, The BRAD BLOG and elsewhere, and is being seized upon by a national grassroots movement determined to restore American democracy next year.

Nowhere has that movement been more in evidence than with the high profile firestorm surrounding Bush administration Attorney General Alberto Gonzales’ firing of eight federal prosecutors without legitimate cause.

Evidence continues to surface from throughout the United States about this blatant Bush abuse of executive power. But we have traced the roots of the firings to an obscure Congressional hearing held at the statehouse in Columbus, Ohio, on March 21, 2005, and to a shadowy GOP operative named Mark F. "Thor" Hearne.

The hearing was conducted by none other than former US Rep. Bob Ney (R-18th OH). The once-powerful Ohio Congressman (who is now behind bars) was the godfather of the Help America Vote Act (HAVA), the national boondoggle that mandated electronic voting machines for the American electoral process.

That the machines would cost taxpayers billions was a big plus for Ney. They would come from Diebold and other companies that poured money into Republican coffers. Thanks largely to the manipulations of disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff, these e-voting machine companies would help guarantee the GOP’s ability to steal elections.

Ney’s hearing featured a marquee appearance by J. Kenneth Blackwell, the Secretary of State responsible for delivering Ohio’s decisive 2004 electoral votes to Bush. Blackwell was a key operative for the Bush election campaign in Florida in 2000 and co-chaired the Bush-Cheney 2004 re-election campaign in Ohio...

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

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Riverside County, California's Registrar of Voters Continues to Prove Herself to be an Unmitigated Disaster...
By Brad Friedman on 10/16/2007 6:58pm PT  

No time for the moment (particularly as we remain a bit under the weather) to recap the long and storied history of the national embarrassment that elections in Riverside County, California, have become. So for today, we'll just share links with you to two of the county's latest missteps.

Both of the latest boners were overseen --- yet again --- by Registrar of Voters Barbara Dunmore. The poor woman is clearly in way over her head and should --- as the former managing editor of the Press-Enterprise called for just over a week ago --- resign immediately. Or be fired. For the good of everyone.

Here's Dunmore last week inventing an ingeniously obnoxious scheme to raise $6.40 (yes, that number is no typo) for the county.

Here's Dunmore today, making ink yet again (almost literally), admitting that she screwed up --- again --- this time on the absentee ballots just sent out to her voters.

And here's hoping the Riverside County Board of Supervisors, no great geniuses themselves, finally realize it's time to find someone whose actually up to the job.

We shouldn't be too harsh, perhaps. After all, Dunmore took the job over from predecessor Mischelle Townsend, infamous for overseeing Riverside's ignominious place as the first county in the nation to go all touch-screen DRE. A $30 million disaster, that. But even more endearingly, Townsend once let fly with one of the greatest e-voting quotes of all time, during an interview with the filmmakers of HBO's Hacking Democracy (as seen on the DVD bonus footage).

Said Townsend with a straight face (but you should try not to laugh too hard): "Electronic touch-screen ballots are 100% accurate. We've not seen a single example in which their accuracy can be disputed."

Good luck, Riverside! Looks like you're gonna be needing it for quite a while at this rate!

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Anybody Feel Like Covering the Talk, Video Taping it, and/or Asking a Few Tough Questions on Behalf of The BRAD BLOG?
ALSO: October 30th Named as Date for Tanner's Testimony to House Judiciary Subcommittee...
By Brad Friedman on 10/15/2007 5:35am PT  

U.S. House Judiciary Committee staff informs us that October 30th will be the day for hearings with John Tanner, the DoJ Civil Rights Division's Voting Section chief. Tanner has caused a bit of a stir of late by suggesting that minorities needn't worry about being disenfranchised at the polls by restrictive Photo ID laws because they "die first" before become elderly (the original twisted BRAD BLOG video exclusive of Tanner's comments here). As well, Tanner's previous bizarre and unprecedented justifications on behalf of the DoJ, for why minorities have only themselves to blame for not being able to vote in Ohio in the 2004 Presidential Election have once again attracted the attention of John Conyers and his staff.

Though the hearing where Tanner will testify is currently planned for the 30th, we're told it won't be "official" until it appears on the official schedule for the Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties --- usually a week or so prior to the hearing.

In the meantime, however, democracy and accountability fans in the Northern California area may get their Tanner fix this Thursday, as he's schedule to appear for a talk at UC Berkley's Institute of Governmental Studies. The talk is scheduled for 3:30p-5:00p at the Institute's Library, 109 Moses Hall, as sponsored by the UC Berkeley Center for Latino Policy Research and the Election Administration Research Center (EARC). More details here.

Tanner's recent unbelievable comments to the National Latino Congresso --- "It's probably true that among those who don't [have Photo ID], it's primarily elderly persons. And that's a shame. Of course...our society is such that minorities don't become elderly. The way that white people do. They die first." --- made their way to both the Washington Post and the U.S. House Judiciary Committee.

So who knows what he'll say next?!

We hope a few BRAD BLOG readers who may be concerned with some of Tanner's statements and behavior at the DoJ might find their way to showing up at his UC Berkeley event this week to video tape and/or ask a few tough questions of the man who oversees voting rights on behalf of the federal government.

If so, we hope you'll share any notable comments (hopefully on video or audio) with us!

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Chairman of House Judiciary Committee is Troubled by Voting Chief John Tanner's 'Justification' for Inequal Treatment of Black Voters in Buckeye State
Plans to Address Matter 'Head On' in Upcoming Hearings...
By Brad Friedman on 10/12/2007 4:03pm PT  

Following up our earlier story today, the Chairman of the U.S. House Judiciary Committee, John Conyers (D-MI), has now released a statement in response to TPM Muckraker's story today with on-the-record comments from former DoJ officials questioning the seriousness (or lack thereof) of the "investigation" by the Department's chief Voting official, John Tanner, into the reported racial disparities at polling places during the 2004 Presidential Election in Ohio.

In Conyers' statement (posted in full at the end of this article) he says he's "concerned about the extreme lengths Mr. Tanner went to in order to justify the reasons African-Americans were not treated equally in the 2004 Ohio election," and charges that "The Department of Justice – since the Voting Rights Act of 1965 – has a responsibility to thoroughly investigate allegations of voter suppression and discrimination, like those made in Ohio in 2004."

Tanner's "investigation" at the time had, remarkably, charged that the reason for long lines in minority areas of Ohio was because minorities chose to vote late in the afternoon, instead of earlier in the day as white voters did.

Essentially, as RAW STORY's coverage this afternoon says, "black voters caused their own lines in the Ohio 2004 vote," if Tanner is to be believed.

But a report from TPM Muckraker earlier today quotes a former colleague of Tanner's, who accompanied him on his trip to Ohio during the "investigation," as saying, "did black precincts get neglected? I know we didn’t try very hard to find out."

Conyers originally responded to Tanner's investigation in 2005 with a letter of his own back in 2005, writing to then-Attorney General Alberto Gonzales that he was "flabbergasted that your office could reach such a casual conclusion without addressing the most serious charges of mis-allocation of votes in the County." He also expressed outrage that the DoJ chose to look into reports of election irregularities in only one Ohio county (Franklin).

Both Tanner's and Conyers' letters were posted and reported by The BRAD BLOG in 2005.

Today, the chairman says that in his 2005 landmark (though largely ignored, at the time) report entitled "Preserving Democracy: What Went Wrong in Ohio", he revealed "huge racial disparities in how voting machines were distributed in white and black precincts, among other findings." Yet Tanner had "found no discrepancies in the number of voting machines and attributed the long lines to the tendency of African-American voters to vote after work, as opposed to in the morning hours."

The BRAD BLOG has received indications from Conyers' office that he intends to question Tanner on these topics directly in an upcoming hearing. His statement today gives further indication of that.

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

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Hearings May Also Focus - Finally - on the Disenfranchisement That Occurred in Ohio During the 2004 Presidential Election Debacle, According to MUST READ TPM Muckraker Report...
Former DoJ Staffer on Disparity of Voting Machines in Minority Precincts: 'We Didn't Try Very Hard to Find Out'
By Brad Friedman on 10/12/2007 12:51pm PT  

Still more folks are beginning to notice our disturbing Monday exclusive, including both the Washington Post and the U.S. House Judiciary Committee, which will be taking up the matter, we are told (and a report at TPM Muckraker confirms), in upcoming sub-committee hearings.

While many blogs had covered our report, the MSM had yet to ring in until today's report from Al Kamen at Washington Post who picks up on our coverage of the recent controversial video-taped comments by John Tanner, the Chief of the Voting Rights section of the DoJ's Civil Rights division.

Tanner said last Friday in Los Angeles at the National Latino Congresso --- and our own Alan Breslauer was there with video camera and tough questions --- that while it's a "shame" that the elderly may be disenfranchised by restrictive Photo ID laws at the polling place, minorities needn't worry, as they are less disenfranchised, if only because "minorities don't become elderly. The way that white people do. They die first."

The argument Tanner was making implied that, somehow, it's white voters who are more disenfranchised by such restrictions, rather than black voters. And, despite actual evidence to the contrary, somehow, that's all okay with him in any case, even as the GOP pushes for more such laws all across the country, with a presidential election year upon us, little if any evidence of actual voter fraud that would be deterred by such laws, and some 10 to 30 million legally registered American voters (most, coincidentally, Democratic-leaning) who might well be disenfranchised in the bargain.

That from, yes, the Bush DoJ's Civil Rights Division Voting Section chief.

Unlike so many other MSM outlets who have picked up on our stories before, WaPo's Kamen properly attributes The BRAD BLOG, twice, concluding his column today with: "Please, take a moment --- you owe it to yourself as a citizen --- to watch Tanner's illuminating analysis on this issue at http://www.bradblog.com/?p=5145."

Thank you, Al.

But Paul Kiel has still more goodies on all of this, including confirmation that the DoJ has now agreed to allow Tanner to testify at an upcoming House Judiciary Committee hearing, despite having rebuffed such an invitation previously. Moreover, The BRAD BLOG can confirm that, in fact, the committee has requested a copy of the video of Tanner's comments for possible use during the hearing to be held by the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties.

More than that still, Kiel reports in a MUST READ today, on what may finally be a bit of long overdue encouraging news for Election Integrity advocates in Ohio, in relation to their continuing efforts to see some sort of justice done and/or accountability brought for the 2004 Election debacle in their state...

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

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