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'Special Coverage' Archives
GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal 2012...
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The Secret Koch Brothers Tapes...


On Election Meltdown 2006...
By Brad Friedman on 12/1/2006 12:01pm PT  

I appeared on the "Week in Review" program, hosted by Bob Jimenez, a week or two ago out here in Los Angeles to discuss fallout from the 2006 Election Meltdown. The show was taped on November 17th and aired the following week. Thanks to Alan Breslauer, the video is now finally available below here at The BRAD BLOG.

Discussion included problems in California from Riverside to Monterey, Sequoia's yellow button, Diebold's sleepovers in San Diego, lack of paper ballots and voters turned away without being allowed to vote by the thousands around the country, Sarasota's mess, the failures of Bruce McPherson, Michael Haas, and other lousy elections officials, the need for reform, the mainstream corporate media's dismal failure, and more.

It's about 15 minutes of mind-blowing information, crackling wit, rapier-like rejoinders to the skeptics on the 5-person panel program, and generally brilliant repartee from yours truly...Well, it's about 15 minutes anyway.

On a side note, the show airs on the Time-Warner Channel out here since they swallowed up Adelphia over the summer. Though the public-affairs program has been running for nearly 20 years in LA, it looks like T-W is about to stop airing it all together. A great pity, that. Yet another casualty of unchecked mass media consolidation.


-- Streaming Flash version...

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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!... ---

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State Which Fought Release of Diebold Data Showing 200+ Percent Turnout in 2004 is Again Fighting Against Transparency
By Brad Friedman on 11/28/2006 2:47pm PT  

The state of Alaska which, as avid BRAD BLOG readers will recall, had been fighting tooth and nail to keep from releasing their database of how voters voted back in 2004, is at it again. Now, despite a court order, the state is refusing to release the new 2006 database, according to a press release just issued by the state Democratic Party. (Press release posted in full at the bottom of this item.)

Previously, the outgoing Governor Murkowski went so far as to have his top security man issue a memo saying release of the 2004 database would be a "security risk." The state had argued prior to that that they could not release the database because it was a "company secret" of Diebold's, according to their contract with the Anti-American Voting Company. All of that after Democrats had discovered a 200% voter turnout in some jurisdications across the state.

Murkowski's daughter Lisa, whom Frank had appointed to fill his seat in the Senate when he ascended to Governor, was in a very close race for that seat in 2004. In fact, most polls showed her trailing against her opponent prior to Election Day.

A court eventually forced the state to release the 2004 database but it was found to contain hundreds of edits since the 2004 election, including as late as July of 2006, prior to the release of the data.

See all of the stories in our Alaska category for the bizarre roller-coaster ride on this issue in the state.

Now it appears that Alaska is at it again, fighting to not release the database from the 2006 election in the only state that we know of where the Democratic Party themselves are actually fighting for complete transparency.

Here's the first two grafs from today's Press Release just issued. The complete press release follows below it...

Anchorage - The Alaska Division of Elections is violating the public records law and should immediately release copies of the electronic records of the 2006 election results so they can be examined before the election is certified, Alaska Democratic Party Chair Jake Metcalfe said today.

"Once again, the Division of Elections is flaunting the law with excuses and delays by refusing to release critical public records," Metcalfe said. "Judge Joannides has already ordered them to make copies of each version of the 2006 GEMS database, so it is no burden on them to just release those copies that they are already making. Why won't they release the records and give the public access to them as they are required by law to do?" Metcalfe said.

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

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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!... ---

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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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'Tens of Thousands Encountered Voting Machine Failures, Confusion over New ID Rules,' Reports Paper...
By Brad Friedman on 11/26/2006 2:35pm PT  

The New York Times' Ian Urbina (this time with Christopher Drew) continues to stay on point with his Electoral Failures coverage at the Grey Lady. Unlike Urbina's last report, this time he wasn't undermined by the Times headline writers. (Does anyone with a hard copy of the paper know what page this was reported on, btw?)

To his additional credit, he didn't use the word "glitch" even once. Thank you, Ian. Here are a few highlights from his piece in today's paper...

After six years of technological research, more than $4 billion spent by Washington on new machinery and a widespread overhaul of the nation’s voting system, this month’s midterm election revealed that the country is still far from able to ensure that every vote counts.

Tens of thousands of voters, scattered across more than 25 states, encountered serious problems at the polls, including failures in sophisticated new voting machines and confusion over new identification rules, according to interviews with election experts and officials.

Of course, BRAD BLOG readers will remember our desperate call for "Emergency Paper Ballots" here in the weeks prior to the election. On that, Urbina reports...

In many places, the difficulties led to shortages of substitute paper ballots and long lines that caused many voters to leave without casting ballots.

Wow. Who could have predicted that?!

And there's more...Of course, the "experts" (word used very cautiously!) are beginning to notice that things on Nov. 7th were worse than they had originally understood. "Voting problems may actually have been wider than initially estimated, with many malfunctions simply overlooked," reports the Times.

So how bad were they? How about 60,000 missing votes in Florida, bad. 20,000 voters who couldn't vote in Colorado, bad. Or in Arkansas, where "election officials tallied votes three times in one county, and each time the number of ballots cast changed by more than 30,000," bad.

And then there's the erstwhile election "expert" Doug Chapin of Electionline.org whose "expert" opinion ensures his presence in just about any mainstream media coverage of these matters. Mr. Chapin continues, on schedule, working all sides of the street in Urbina's piece. It's a tricky juggling act for this "expert" --- mustn't offend the Voting Machine Companies or the Elections Officials who pay his bills, or even, to a lesser extent, the Election Integrity advocates who might just call him a phony if he's not careful --- but, as John Gideon pointed out in yesterday's DVN, even Chapin's having a difficult time avoiding the obvious:

"If the success of an election is to be measured according to whether each voter’s voice is heard, then we would have to conclude that this past election was not entirely a success," said Doug Chapin, director of Electionline.org, a nonpartisan election group that plans to release a report Wednesday with a state-by-state assessment of voting. "In places where the margin of victory was bigger than the margin of error, we looked away from the problems, but in 2008 we might not have that luxury."

And the award for "Understatment of the Year" goes to...

UPDATE 9:01pm PT: Reader Adele writes to tell us that Urbina's article was on "page 30 of 36 pages in the National section" of today's paper.

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While Scientists and Partisans Have Appropriate Concerns About the Team Florida Has Commissioned to Investigate
But We're Thankful, At Least, That the National Media is Beginning to Wake Up...Sorta...Kinda...Momentarily...Maybe...
By Brad Friedman on 11/24/2006 4:17pm PT  

Let's start with Krugman's "When Votes Disappear":

I've been shocked at how little national attention the mess in Sarasota has received. Here we have as clear a demonstration as we're ever likely to see that warnings from computer scientists about the dangers of paperless electronic voting are valid - and most Americans probably haven't even heard about it.

As far as I can tell, the reason Florida-13 hasn't become a major national story is that neither control of Congress nor control of the White House is on the line. But do we have to wait for a constitutional crisis to realize that we're in danger of becoming a digital-age banana republic?

"In danger of becoming..."?!! Okay, it's Thanksgiving weekend, so we'll just be thankful Krugman has decided to finally notice.

He also notes the concerns about the very partisan (natch) Prof. Alec Yasinsac whose been placed in charge of Florida's state investigation despite having "made an appearance on the steps of the Florida Supreme Court during the 2000 recount battle wearing a 'Bush Won' sign," as Krugman reports.

We'll also note that Livermore Labs' Prof. David Jefferson, who spent the last two weeks in Sarasota himself writes in several comments here at The BRAD BLOG that he is more optimistic about Yasinsac and the state investigation over all. Johns-Hopkins computer scientist Avi Rubin reports a similar sentiment on his blog today, defending Yasinsac and concluding about Krugman:

Sadly, I think this incident illustrates that this columnist is willing to embrace whatever circumstances and appearances serve his message with no regard for whether they are legitimate.

While we certainly hope that the Jefferson/Rubin evaluation/hopes end up being the correct ones, we're not sure they are keeping in mind the necessity of even the appearance of impartiality here.

If Yasinsac's group finds trouble in the machines, great. It can be said that even a tream led by a Republican partisan agreed the machines were to blame. On the other hand, if Yasinsac's group concludes there was no problem with the machines, the analysis will receive no confidence from the general public...where such confidence is much needed right about now.

Yasinsac should recuse himself from the team of analysts for exactly that reason, even if the rest of his team at Florida State University --- whom Rubin regards as excellent --- stay on the job. The same is true, and for the same reason --- as we discussed the other day --- for David Drury, who is also on the team, even though he is the man responsible for certifying these paperless ES&S touch-screen systems in the first place for the state of Florida. A "machines worked fine" conclusion from the team, as long as both Drury and Yasinsac are on it, will be regarded as partisan and/or self-serving. Whether it actually is will be completely beside the point.

Moving on then...Even WaPo's E.J. Dionne is beginning to get it. Today, he writes something remarkably similar to what I wrote for ComputerWorld on the day after the election about the huge bullets that the nation just happened to dodge on November 7th. Here's Dionne this morning...

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

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Second Member of State-Convened Investigative Panel Charged With Having 'Vested Interested' in Demonstrating That the Failed ES&S Touch-Screen Voting Systems 'Functioned Properly'...
By Brad Friedman on 11/22/2006 1:19pm PT  

Sarasota's Herald-Tribune has emerged as the bible of local, and in-depth, coverage in the FL-13 undervote fiasco. Today, however, the Orlando Sentinel published the results of an audit of "records of 17,846 touch-screen ballots that included no vote in the tightly contested 13th District congressional race to determine whom voters selected in other major races." They find that those ballots strongly favored the Democrats:

The group of nearly 18,000 voters that registered no choice in Sarasota's disputed congressional election solidly backed Democratic candidates in all five of Florida's statewide races, an Orlando Sentinel analysis of ballot data shows.

Among these voters, even the weakest Democrat --- agriculture-commissioner candidate Eric Copeland --- outpaced a much-better-known Republican incumbent by 551 votes.

The trend, which continues up the ticket to the race for governor and U.S. Senate, suggests that if votes were truly cast and lost --- as Democrat Christine Jennings maintains --- they were votes that likely cost her the congressional election.

The Herald-Tribune editorial board today correctly writes that "Jennings Should Not Concede" as they argue there is "too much room for doubt about election's true outcome."

And finally, for the moment, one of the groups involved in the voter lawsuit --- which calls for an investigation and a revote in the election where 18,000 votes went "missing" with the margin between the two leading candidates at just below 400 votes --- charges that the state-convened audit committee is cooked (no suprise, this is Florida after all). In a news release sent to us moments ago, and posted in full below, People for the American Way reports that committee member David Drury, the man responsible for certifying voting machines for the state of Florida, clearly has "a vested interest in finding that the [paperless ES&S touchscreen machines used in FL-13, which] he certified functioned properly." Additionally, the PFAW release points out, Drury is also responsible for approving the shipment and "illegal distribution" of uncertified voting machines to the state of Florida.

Oh, and Sarasota County's Supervisor of Elections, Kathy Dent, has still not resigned. Just thought we'd mention that.

The complete PFAW press release follows in full below...

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

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Complaint and Press Release from Election Integrity Groups Posted Here in Full
PLUS VIDEO: Republican Election Supervisor Dent Failed to Take Corrective Action Before the Election, While Democrat Jennings --- and Her REPUBLICAN(!) Attorney --- Stand Very Tall...
By Brad Friedman on 11/21/2006 1:51pm PT  
"The voters of Sarasota and of the entire country deserve answers about what went wrong with this voting system. This is not about Democrats, this is not about Republicans. It's about fixing a voting system that appears to be broken.

I believe we all feel strongly that our next representative to the U.S. Congress should be chosen by the will of the people and not by a problem in the voting machines.

I am committed to seeing that the will of the voters is carried out in this election of 2006. I will not rest until the intended votes are counted and every person's vote is counted and reflected accurately."

-- Christine Jennings (D), Press Conference, Sarasota Florida, 11/21/06

Details follow below the fold on the voters' lawsuit filed today calling for an investigation and full re-vote in the FL-13 U.S. House race between Christine Jennings (D) and Vern Buchanan (R). There are currently 363 votes between the two of them, with more than 18,000 votes unaccounted for on the paperless ES&S touch-screen systems used in Sarasota County. We'd give more of a recap of our story so far, but the press release from the four non-partisan groups who filed the case --- Voter Action, Electronic Frontier Foundation, ACLU, and People for the American Way (Florida) --- does a great job in summarizing the issues. We recommend you give it a read.

For our complete FL-13 coverage, you may click here for all of our stories to date, in reverse order.

UPDATE: The full complaint is now available for download here [PDF].

One point, however, to make clear, especially in light of the many calls for Sarasota County Supervisor of Elections, Kathy Dent, to take responsbility for the disastrous administration of this election by resigning immediately: the press release notes that the legal complaint charges "misconduct by election officials" and "evidence that legal votes were rejected in sufficient numbers to place in doubt the outcome of the election.":

The voters’ lawsuit cites misconduct of election officials, including the failure of Sarasota Supervisor of Elections Kathy Dent, to adequately investigate, identify or report equipment malfunctions, software malfunctions, or ballot layout errors in the ES&S iVotronic touch screen voting machines, even after receiving numerous complaints about the machines from voters and poll workers during the two week period of early voting.

Indeed, Dent knew about the problem well before Election Day, according to her statement on this video, and yet clearly failed to take appropriate remedial steps before 18,000+ votes were lost to the ether in her paperless ES&S touch-screen voting machines.

By the way, the Democratic candidate Jennings held a press conference herself yesterday (video here) --- along with her Republican(!) attorney --- and answered to Buchanan's obnoxious press conference held earlier in the day (we covered that here.)

As far as we're concerned, Jennings, in making her pledge that she "will not rest until the intended votes are counted and every person's vote is counted and reflected accurately" --- along with her courage in not allowing herself to be pushed around by the anti-democratic thuggery of her opponent --- has shown herself to be the model of what every candidate ought to look and sound like in the wake of such a horrendously administered election, in which the ability to determine the will of the people has been so clearly subverted.

The press release from the groups filing a lawsuit on behalf of Florida's voters follows in full...

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

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Stephen Heller Agrees to Plead Guilty, Pay $10,000, Apologize and Receive Three Years Probation After Being Charged with 'Burglary' for Sharing Diebold Lawfirm's Privileged Documents with Newspaper, Election Integrity Activists
Tells BRAD BLOG He Has 'No Assets Left, Other Than House' and Deal is Meant to Protect Him and His Wife as 'Best Deal I Could Get Based on the Circumstances'
By Brad Friedman on 11/20/2006 8:53pm PT  

Stephen Heller, the Los Angeles whistleblower who turned over documents from Diebold's attorney, Jones Day, in 2004 showing the Voting Machine Company had illegally installed uncertified hardware and software in California --- and was preparing to lie about it --- has pled guilty, according to a statement tonight from the LA County District Attorney's office.

In an email moments ago from Heller, he tells us that he and his wife "are very happy it is over."

Heller, whose story we detailed in an article [PDF] published by Hustler some months ago, was a temporary worker at the voting machine company law firm when he stumbled across the troubling documents.

At the time, we quoted Michael Kohn, general counsel for the National Whistleblower Center, as saying, "This is a very rare instance. In fact, the only one of which I’m aware, in which a whistleblower has been charged with a felony. I find it outrageous."

Outrageous indeed --- especially considering Diebold voting systems were decertified by the state when it was found the company was attempting to game the certification process, shortly after Heller shared the documents with the Oakland Tribune and election watchdog BlackBoxVoting.org.

But Heller doesn't have the same kind of money for high-priced attorneys that Diebold does (that would be your money that Diebold uses for this sort of thing, by the way); we're not suprised he opted for the deal.

In an email message from Heller sent to The BRAD BLOG tonight, he wrote:

"My wife and I are very happy it is over. The deal will protect me and my wife and our assets (we have no assets left, other than our house, but whatever we are able to accumulate in the future cannot be taken away from us in civil court). My attorneys and I think this is the best deal I could get based on the circumstances."

The LA County DA's statement says Heller pled to "unlawfully accessing the company computer in connection with its legal representation of Diebold Inc." and they quote his formal "apology" as follows:

"Today, I pled guilty to unlawfully taking Jones Day's privileged documents without its permission while I worked there. There was no excuse for my conduct. I very much regret taking the documents. I also regret any disparaging statements suggesting that Jones Day committed any wrongful acts. Upon reflection, I now believe and understand that such statements were unjustified. I apologize to Jones Day and its client."

A notice added tonight to the Stephen Heller Defense Fund website says "The case has been resolved! More details will follow soon." It goes on to thank supporters, urging them to "check back soon because Stephen is going to post the entire story here soon."

Heller tells us he's being contacted by the media tonight and plans to send a more detailed statement to The BRAD BLOG by morning.

UPDATE: 11/21/06 5:00pm PT: As promised, a new story, including a fresh exclusive statement from Heller --- concerning his thoughts on Diebold, American Elections and that he may have his sentenced reduced in a year --- is now posted here.

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ALSO: Non-Partisan Election Integrity Groups To Sue for Revote in U.S. House Race, Announce Press Conference (News Release Posted Here in Full)
By Brad Friedman on 11/20/2006 3:12pm PT  

Below are screenshots from the much-discussed first two pages of the Sarasota, Florida, ballot as seen on the paperless ES&S touch-screens on November 7th, 2006. Some 18,000 voters did not register a vote in the 13th Congressional district race between Christine Jennings and Vern Buchanan. Or, at least, the ES&S voting machines failed to register their vote in any case.

When we first received these screenshots, it took us three or four times scrolling through them before we could even find the Jennings/Buchanan race. But see below and decide for yourselves.

Several non-partisan Election Integrity groups will be filing suit tomorrow in Florida to call for a re-vote in the election. The public-interest watchdog groups claim that voters were disenfranchised by the thousands in the race due to poor ballot design and a faulty voting system. A press conference tomorrow has been scheduled for Tuesday at 1pm ET on the steps of the Sarasota County Courthouse (the news release announcing the presser is posted in full at the end of this article).

A lawsuit contesting the results and calling for a new election was filed this morning by Jennings and, as The BRAD BLOG reported earlier today, Buchanan held a press conference this morning in which he called on Jennings to "stop listening" to the Election Integrity groups which he says "have hijacked the election." (Full video, transcript here.)

Buchanan's call for Jennings to concede comes despite the 18,000 lost votes and the microscopic 367 vote margin between the two of them as reported in the now-officially certified results.

Full-sized screenshots of the complete ballot can be downloaded here [PDF, 7.5mb]. Screenshots of the first two pages, resized to fit on The BRAD BLOG --- where the Jennings/Buchanan race can be seen spilling over to the second page of the "ballot," above the more clearly defined "STATE" races follow...

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

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Transcript, Video of Buchanan's Morning Press Conference After Florida Certifies Race with 369 Vote Margin...
By Brad Friedman on 11/20/2006 1:57pm PT  

UPDATE: Screenshots from the paperless ES&S voting systems, showing the controversial placement of the Jennings/Buchanan race on the ballot in Sarasota County only, are now posted EXCLUSIVELY here.

In a press conference this morning, Vern Buchanan (R) called on Christine Jennings (D) to concede in the race for the U.S. House in Florida's 13th Congressional district. In a process right out of the Bush/Cheney 2000 Florida Election debacle, the state of Florida certified the race today despite a 369 vote difference between the two and more than 18,000 still-unexplained "undervotes" registered on the paperless ES&S touch-screen voting machines used in Sarasota County.

A video of Buchanan's press conference is here. A complete transcript of his obnoxious statement follows at the end of this article.

We've stayed out of the "politics" in this race up until now, arguing only that the voters of FL-13 should have their voice heard despite overwhelming evidence of voting machine malfunction. However, given Buchanan's regrettable despicable attack on Jennings in his news conference this morning and, even more so, his attack on the non-partisan groups currently fighting for electoral integrity in the race, we've little choice but to point out the emergence of Buchanan as yet another democracy hater in Florida following the Bush/Cheney 2000 playbook almost to the reprehensible letter.

Putting his own self-interest before that of the public's, Buchanan called on Jennings "to put the interest of the public before her own self-interest," and called on his Democratic opponent --- ironcially fighting for the old seat of outgoing Katherine Harris --- to concede.

Buchanan characterized the contest filed today in court by Jennings (as we reported yesterday would be "coming soon") as "baseless litigation" and said that it's time for her to "stop listening to high-priced lawyers and out of town special interest groups who have hijacked the process to advance their own agenda."

Hijacked the process to advance their own agenda?!

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

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Brad's Dad Again Holds Feet to the Fire at the Polling Place...This Time Over Unconstitutional Photo ID Restrictions...
By Harvey Friedman on 11/20/2006 10:05am PT  

Guest Blogged by Harvey Friedman (Brad's father)

ED NOTE: My dad previously guest blogged his amusing experience at the polls in St. Louis County during their primary election in August held on new touch-screen and/or optical-scan systems made by ES&S. Prior to that, it was reported he that he was instrumental in encouraging the county to not choose Diebold systems (they chose ES&S instead, for good or bad). Today, he shares his anectodes of again holding election officials' feet to the fire during the recent general election there. As he's never been an activist, or even political in anyway prior to all of this, I couldn't be prouder.

As I reviewed the St. Louis Post Dispatch on the day after the November 7th election, I was drawn to an article titled "Secretary of State Blasts County on IDs". The article said, in part:

The Missouri secretary of state says St. Louis County election officials may have confused voters — even intimidated them — by asking for identification that went beyond what is required.

Secretary of State Robin Carnahan's office notified the county as early as last week about her concerns and alerted the U.S. attorney's office, which handles voter obstruction cases.

The state Supreme Court last month threw out a law stating that a voter needed a photo identification to cast a ballot. But some county election workers still were asking voters on Tuesday whether they had a photo or signature ID.

The article went on to say that "The St. Louis County Board of Elections, which oversees the largest jurisdiction of voters in the state, is appointed by Gov. Matt Blunt."

As BRAD BLOG readers may know, Blunt's right-hand man for years on voting issues was none other than "Thor" Hearne, the self-declared "non-partisan" founder of the American Center for Voting Rights (ACVR). The ACVR has been pushing for restrictive Photo ID requirement laws all across the country since the 2004 election. Most of those laws have been found to be unconstitutional, despite Hearne – the "non-partisan" who was the national general counsel for Bush/Cheney '04 Inc. – and the ACVR's continuing attempt to convince America that there is a massive problem with voters voting twice and illegal aliens voting and so forth.

After reading the article and talking to Brad about my election day experience, it seems that perhaps others might be interested in my interesting personal experience while voting during the November 7th election here in St. Louis County....

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

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Candidate, as well as Non-Partisan Groups, Lining up for Legal Action, Demanding Investigation, Re-Vote, Accountability
Election Supervisor Kathy Dent --- Directly Responsible for the Mess --- Has Yet to Resign...
By Brad Friedman on 11/19/2006 3:28pm PT  

The BRAD BLOG has learned that several lawsuits are likely to be launched this week in the Sarasota, Florida, election meltdown where some 18,000 votes failed to register on the county's paperless ES&S touch-screen voting systems on November 7th. Fewer than 400 votes currently divide candidates Vern Buchanan (R) and Christine Jennings (D), who are vying to fill disgraced former Sec. of State Katherine Harris's U.S. House seat in Florida's 13th congressional district.

A number of sources have confirmed to The BRAD BLOG that Jennings's legal team --- who previously filed court papers to impound voting machines and data for a possible investigation --- are preparing to file legal action to challenge the legitimacy of the race, perhaps as soon as this week.

As well, non-partisan legal election watchdog VoterAction.org has announced they will be filing suit this week along with People for the American Way Foundation, the ACLU of Florida, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and Common Cause. Velvet Revolution.us (of which The BRAD BLOG is a co-founder) is also joining in support of the action. A plea to citizens by Voter Action, seeking help in funding the lawsuit, follows in full at the end of this article.

This graf, from Voter Action's announcement, is of particular note in light of our own previous call for the resignation of Sarasota's atrocious Supervisor of Elections, Kathy Dent --- the person responsible, perhaps more than any other, for leading her constituents into this otherwise avoidable debacle [emphasis in original]:

This is an unparalleled opportunity to shed light on the continuing election crisis that plagues Florida, to expose the problems inherent in electronic voting systems, and to demonstrate the harm that can be caused by elections officials with a pro-vendor and anti-voter bias.

Sarasota's Herald-Tribune has been doing a very good job of covering the mess since it happened (if not prior to its occurring when something might actually have been done to avoid it).

Today, Herald-Trib columnist Rich Brooks joins the drumbeat of those calling for a full re-vote, writing this weekend: "[I]t's clear that a special election is needed to ensure a fair process. That's preferable to sending the wrong representative to Washington."

In an article on the many phone calls received from Sarasota voters detailing their experiences in trying to vote in the 13th District race, the Herald-Tribune reports today:

The vast majority of voters interviewed by the Herald-Tribune reported one of two major problems.

Either they couldn't find the District 13 race as they scrolled through their voting screens (about 36 percent) or their votes for either candidate did not initially register on the ballot summary page (more than 62 percent).
...
[M]any of the voters interviewed bristled at the notion that they were somehow careless or clueless and thus missed the race. Most of them --- ranging in age from 19 to 91 --- were keenly interested in the race and were familiar with touch-screen technology.
...
The most prevalent problem callers reported encountering happened when they touched a candidate's name, only to find that their vote hadn't registered on the ballot review page

Clearly, had Dent simply chosen a voting technology that would have allowed voters to express their intent on a paper ballot, this mess could never have occurred. Dent has gone out of her way for years to ensure that Sarasota voters would have no way of avoiding the problem they now face. Hopefully the courts will offer a way for the voters to express their actual intent in this important House election.

And the most important hope of all: That this election underscores everything that is wrong with E-Voting in our country and that we must do away (at the very least) with touch-screen voting systems...with or without a "paper trail."

Voter Action's announcement of their intended legal action and a plea for support follows in full...

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

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MadCow Morning News Exposé on How Things Went South Down in Florida's 13th Congressional District...
By Brad Friedman on 11/17/2006 4:35pm PT  

In a nifty and well-sourced bit of investigative journalism that makes The BRAD BLOG's muckracking heart go pitter-patter, an outfit known as Madcow Morning News (we wish they were called Washington Post) filed a peach of an exposé last Wednesday on Sarasota County's Supervisor of Elections Kathy Dent, and Gary L. Greenhalgh, the ES&S voting machine company Vice-President with the questionable past, who appears to have serviced her.

The detailed reporting underscores our previous call for Dent to resign in light of her egregious failures in Florida's 13th district U.S. House race, where the voters are still paying the price. Please do yourself a favor and read the report in full.

Here's a few Dent money shots:

Ironically, while lobbying Sarasota County Commissioners in a successful campaign to spend millions on new touch screen electronic voting machines in 2001, one of Dent's primary arguments was that the new machines would lower the rate of uncounted votes, which then stood at barely one percent, versus the 13% undervote in the election last week.

"I do think we're going to see those numbers drop," Dent told Commissioners. "We're looking more for accuracy and the confidence that the voters have in the system."

And this ironic plum from Greelhalgh --- whom Madcow reports as regularly being in perilously close proximity to those convicted of bribery and other kickbacks to elections officials --- from back in 1985:

"The problem with computer-assisted voting systems is that they centralize the opportunity for fraud," Greenhalgh said, in a July 29, 1985 story in the New York Times.

"There is a massive potential for problems."

Reported the Times: "Mr. Greenhalgh said that while lever-type voting machines could have their counts rigged only machine by machine, counting votes by computer was done at one central site in most counties."

(Hat-tip to BRAD BLOG perennial "Old Turk")

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