While God may have chosen him, if not the voters of Minnesota, evidence is growing that former Sen. Norm Coleman may be preparing for a "do-over" gambit. We'd offered speculation on this front a week or two ago, and yesterday, following another slog of a day at the U.S. Senate Election Contest court in St. Paul, the Republican's top legal spokes, Ben Ginsberg, described the election as "fatally-flawed" in his post-trial presser. The freshly floated phrase has re-ignited speculation about Coleman's longer-term legal strategy...
Remember back in 2000 when the Republicanists belittled elderly (and minority) voters, claiming that 'if they failed to fill out their ballots correctly, and failed to follow the simple voting rules, then they're idiots and their votes shouldn't be counted'? They made the case over and over again, cynically, of course, because it would mean that, even though more voters had intended to vote for Al Gore than George W. Bush (and actually did [PDF], had they bothered to count them all) Bush should still be allowed to "win" the Presidency.
Well, as we've had to say so many times during our previouscoverage of the GOP flip-floppery that is the election contest of former Senator Norm Coleman against Al Franken in MN: that was then and this is now.
At right, take a look at the short, approximately 1-minute video of Coleman (and FL 2000 Bush v. Gore) attorney Ben Ginsberg, trying to keep a straight face in a presser after his team argued today that yet another cherry-picked voter/witness whose absentee ballot was legitimately rejected --- in this case because she failed to sign the ballot --- should have her vote counted anyway.
Like we said, that was then and this now. So never mind that whole "voter fraud" argument. Not useful today for the GOP opportunists. And now, while I'll try to stay out of the deep weeds tonight on today's proceedings at the Coleman/Franken circus (you're welcome), Nate Silver at FiveThirtyEight.com argues convincingly --- based on fairly reliable reads of usually-predictable WSJ and other Wingnut Tea Leaves --- that Team Coleman may ultimately be angling for a do-over. That is, a re-vote for the entire election.
He may be right. Though there may be another plan, even though admittedly, the Coleman campaign is largely making all of this up as they go along, and any or all of the following guesswork may end up being their "strategy"...
Math/statistics/poll-wiz Nate Silver at FiveThirtyEight.com predicts the race between incumbent MN Sen. Norm Coleman (R) and challenger Al Franken (D) could result in a 27 vote win for Franken. That's right, just 27 votes.
With that in mind, every single vote matters, so it's of note that the Franken campaign is now wondering about some missing ballots in a number of counties. From Public Record's coverage last night:
According to the secretary of state's website, 1,074 people in Clay County voted on Election Day but only 1,069 ballots were produced by the county for the recount. In St. Louis County, 1,649 people voted on Election Day but the county turned over 1,646 ballots for the recount. And in Washington County, 1,464 voted on Election Day but 1,449 ballots were turned over for the recount. The shortfall can easily shift the election to Franken or Coleman's favor because the race between the candidates is so close.
That in mind, we'll take the opportunity to remind both parties in the recount of our earlier suggestion that they make public records requests (if they haven't already) for the invoices from printers of all of the original ballots, and then request that all ballots --- including unvoted ballots --- be counted as part of the final reconciliation of ballots. The number of voted, spoiled, and unvoted ballots should be exactly equal to the number of ballots shown as printed originally on those invoices. If not, there's a problem.
But while ballots have now turned up "missing," and absentees have been tossed from the hand count, the GOP seems to be preparing for a FL 2000 PR gambit to "win" at all costs...
We've got a few more notes/thoughts on a couple of related ballot issues that have bubbled up over the last few days as we've been driving across the country. Given the closeness of this race, these issues could ultimately end up deciding it one way or another, even as the GOP seems to be preparing a FL 2000 PR gambit to "win" at all costs, no matter the final outcome of the hand-count...
Well, isn't this rich? Tom Feeney --- yes, that Tom Feeney, the one who is alleged to have commissioned vote-rigging software for touch-screen voting machines in 2000, as testified to by former Republican software programmer Clint Curtis in a sworn affidavit, sworn testimony to congress, and a successful polygraph test --- went on Fox "News" this week to decry unsubstantiated charges of "voter fraud" by the low-income voter registration community organization ACORN.
(And if you're done laughing...)
Feeney --- the man who, as Speaker of the FL House in 2000, also promised to award all of the state's electoral votes to George W. Bush no matter what the ballots and Supreme Court had to say about it --- then went on to compare ACORN to the KKK...
Rady Ananda at OpEdNews opens her review of Murder, Spies & Voting Lies: The Clint Curtis Story by declaring it "the most explosive documentary produced in recent memory, involving murder, espionage, cover-up, electoral cyber fraud and a United States Member of Congress with ties to the Bush Administration."
More details, pull-quotes from other reviews, and video preview here.
Haven't seen it yet? If you've got LinkTV, you can still check it out there. Otherwise, DVDs are available for prchase at the MSVL website, or better still, for a few dollars more, you can get one signed by both myself and the filmmaker Patty Sharaf with a $50 donation right here!
What more could you ask for? Collectors versions of great documentaries for you to watch and share, and all the while supporting the work we do here, so we can keep on doing it! And maybe by the time we're done, democracy gets saved somewhere in the bargain and everyone's a winner!
(Snail-mail works for all of the above as well. Send to: Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594, Los Angeles, CA 90028)
Kansas City Star is among the first out of the box to review the film, calling it a "Must See!" and declaring that it "plays like a high-tension political thriller."
The terrifying feature-length documentary, shot in high-definition video, details, for the first time, the complete Clint Curtis/Tom Feeney/Yang Enterprises vote-rigging scandal, in all of its, yes, sometimes very gory detail. It also tells a tale of the media, as it details my attempts to tell the story over the last four years, to a corrupt, detached, and too-often frightened corporate media. The BRAD BLOG broke the Curtis story originally in late 2004, and we've been investigating and reporting on it ever since.
The DVD of MSVL is finally available for purchase at VotingLies.com and will also be premiering beginning this weekend on LinkTV, for those of you lucky enough to get the satellite TV channel. See LinkTV's main Murder, Spies page for air dates and times, as well as an extended five-minute preview of the film. Sharaf has been kind enough to offer the DVD --- signed by herself and myself --- available as our newest, and perhaps most appropriate, BRAD BLOG premium ever! An online donation of $50 or more gets you your own copy! (And just in time for Halloween!) Snail mail works as well, if you prefer to send a check to: Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594, Los Angeles, CA 90028. The support is greatly appreciated and very much needed.
LinkTV narrates their own 60-second preview of MSVL below...
For those who aren't familiar with the remarkable Curtis/Feeney story of the Florida software programmer who says he was asked by a powerful Republican to create vote-rigging software, where have you been? See this summary version for the quick details.
For those who are familiar with the story, you will learn details in MSVL you never knew, along with new interviews on the case from Gore Vidal, reporter Bob Fitrakis, computer security expert Harri Hursti, whistleblower Steve Heller, Curtis co-worker Mavis Georgalis, and many more!
While the Curtis story has been told, often beautifully, in a number of other documentaries, such as Uncounted: The New Math of American Elections and Stealing America: Vote-by-Vote, this is the first to go all the way into all of the frightening details underscoring this case, including the mysterious death of Florida's Inspector General Raymond Lemme while investigating the allegations, and the bizarre case of the convicted Chinese spy, Hai Lin "Henry" Nee, who worked at the firm with Curtis.
A few quotes from some of the early reviews:
"Must see!...Plays like a high-tension political thriller...Amazingly elaborate and detailed...Want to get hoppin' mad? This'll do it...Let's hear it for paper ballots." - Bob Butler, Kansas City Star
The film is also screening at a number of upcoming film-festivals around the country, including the New Jersey Film Festival this weekend. See the MSVL website for dates & times.
Four years later, I'm happy to still be here to see the release of the film, quite frankly. There were some pretty scary days back there. It's regrettable that nobody's yet gone to jail, but maybe we're getting closer. For many of you who found this blog because of the Curtis story back in 2004, thank you for all of the support throughout the years! I hope you'll get the film, enjoy it, and continue to spread the word.
16,632 votes are unaccounted for in a Palm Beach County election recount following last Tuesday's state primary, according to Ellen H. Brodsky, non-partisan candidate for Supervisor of Elections in Broward County and a long-time Election Integrity advocate.
The machine recount was completed early Saturday morning in the Circuit Court race between Judge Richard Wennet and challenger William Abramson, Brodsky reports via email. The machine recount was completed at 4:30am, in the race in which Wennet and Abramson were separated by just 18 votes in the initial machine tally. Palm Beach County recently changed voting systems again, moving from faulty touch-screen voting systems to --- apparently --- faulty optical-scan paper-ballot systems made by Sequoia Voting Systems, Inc. [PDF].
The still-unexplained "disappearance" of votes in the machine recount "has severe repercussions," Brodsky wrote in an email alert this afternoon describing the re-scan of some 90,000 ballots.
"With 16,632 less votes on summary report," she writes, it "portends dire consequences for the November election and all elections."
The question remains as to how many votes were lost in other races on the same ballot which were not included in last night's re-tally. Florida state law disallows hand-counting of paper ballots which have already been counted by machine, other than in special circumstances. We'll see if this ends up being one of those circumstances. Theoretically, a hand-count would determine the correct totals for the race, where the machine-count has misreported totals. [UPDATE: Palm Beach Post reports the machine recount was close enough to allow for a hand-count of over votes and undervotes. See more in the update at end of this article.]
Sequoia's voting machines have seen notorious failures of late, including lost votes and other problems, around the country...
At a press conference this morning in Columbus, Ohio, Cliff Arnebeck, lead attorney for the plaintiffs in the case of King Lincoln Bronzeville v. Blackwell, announced that he is filing a motion to "lift the stay in the case [and] proceed with targeted discovery in order to help protect the integrity of the 2008 election."
Courtesy of our colleagues at Velvet Revolution, you can watch the entire press conference here, and an interview with Cliff Arnebeck and Bob Fitrakis is here.
Arnebeck will also "be providing copies of document hold notices to the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform and the U.S. Justice Department for Karl Rove emails from the White House."
See PDFs of the hold letter to AG Mukasey here, the hold letter to the U.S. Chamber here, and the motion to lift the stay here.
This case has the potential to put some of the most powerful people in the country in jail, according to Arnebeck, as he was joined by a well-respected, life-long Republican computer security expert who charged that the red flags seen during Ohio's 2004 Presidential Election would have been cause for "a fraud investigation in a bank, but it doesn't when it comes to our vote."
"This entire system is being programmed in secret by programmers who have no oversight by anybody," the expert charged, as Arnebeck detailed allegations of complicity by a number of powerful GOP operatives and companies who had unique access both to the election results as reported in 2004, as well as to U.S. House and Senate computer networks even today.
The presser was attended by some of the corporate-controlled media, including the head of the Ohio AP bureau, the Columbus Dispatch, and IndyMedia. Listening in by phone were ABC News, our friends from RAW STORY, and I, your humble blogger. I recorded the presser, so I have no links for the quotes in this post, but I transcribed them word-for-word and can vouch for their accuracy.
One of the more delightful and interesting quotes comes from Arnebeck, concerning what he expects to discover as the stay is lifted: "[W]e anticipate Mr. Rove will be identified as having engaged in a corrupt, ongoing pattern of corrupt activities specifically affecting the situation here in Ohio."
I don't mind admitting it. For an Election Integrity journalist, HBO's Recount is pure pornography. Anticipation for Sunday's Memorial Day premiere showing was at the top of last weekend's holiday agenda. And the excitement grew still more late Friday when the good folks of PDA Florida made my week (my month? my year? my last four eight years?) by sending me an actual Palm Beach County "CES Votomatic III" voting booth, one which they tell me was among the 24 used in HBO's film itself.
Since I have a very difficult time paying the bills around here --- contrary to popular opinion, election integrity blogging isn't the windfall it might otherwise appear --- perhaps I'll consider the kind gift a reward for my too-many years on this beat. Though perhaps my consolation prize would be a better way to look at it.
When I first opened it, actual chads (HBO's film advises the plural of "chad" is actually "chad") from the 2000 election spilled out of the machine all over the office floor. The gods of democracy and the goddess of the Butterfly Ballot were taunting me. I rather enjoyed it. I learned long ago that I'd have little choice.
So it was with great anticipation that I sat down on Sunday night to watch the film as it premiered, along with the "Diebold Document Whistleblower" (and my new colleague at VelvetRevolution.us) Steven Heller and his wife, and Robert Carillo Cohen, one of the filmmakers of HBO's landmark documentary, the Emmy-nominated Hacking Democracy which enjoyed a re-airing earlier in the day, as the cable net set the stage for its newest democracy thriller/heart-breaker, Recount.
None of us, including Heller, who anticipated hating the fictionalized re-telling of America's crushing democratic abortion of 2000, would be disappointed...
Not really. But it's a damned funny headline. And it's probably accurate "enough" for the New York Times, where accuracy doesn't much matter anymore, apparently.
We'll have some of our own thoughts very soon on Recount, which we much enjoyed over the holiday weekend. Until then, our preview of the new HBO film, filed before we finally got to see it when in premiered Sunday night, is posted here.
But it's worth noting, for the moment, that the New York Times, the disgraced "Paper of Record," even today persists in misreporting the story of the 2000 Florida Election debacle. As Larry Beinhart documents today at Smirking Chimp:
"In 2001 painstaking postmortems of the Florida count, one by The New York Times and another by a consortium of newspapers, concluded that Mr. Bush would have come out slightly ahead, even if all the votes counted throughout the state had been retallied."
-- Alessandra Stanley, New York Times, May 23, 2008 in a review of the HBO television movie, Recount
That's not true.
The New York Times did not do its own recount. It did participate in a consortium. Here's what they actually said:
"If all the ballots had been reviewed under any of seven single standards, and combined with the results of an examination of overvotes, Mr. Gore would have won, by a very narrow margin."
-- Ford Fessenden And John M. Broder, New York Times, November 12, 2001
Why did Ms. Stanley make such an important and fundamental error?
It is not a trivial matter. It is a common piece of misinformation. Many, many people believe it. Now a few more do, as a result of Ms. Stanley's review.
It is not a trivial matter. Because that misinformation was created by one of the most bizarre, and still completely unexplained, journalistic events in modern times.
Here's what happened.
Read Beinhart's piece for the remarkable details in what really is one of the "most bizarre, and still completely unexplained, journalist events in modern times." Unfortunately, he doesn't include links in his coverage (please add them if you can, Larry!), but for the doubters, here's the report [PDF] showing that Al Gore did, in fact, receive more votes in Florida in 2000 than George W. Bush. That, despite the stunningly contrary headlines, as Beinhart shows, from almost every paper that reported on that complete state count. Even the papers who bothered to report --- if you read them closely enough --- that Gore received more votes than Bush, still used inexplicably misleading headlines for the story.
Given the wholly inaccurate claim, as includied in their review of Recount, it would appear that NYTimes is intent on simply ensuring the matter is inaccurately reported forever. We'll remember to keep that, and their year-long front page pre-Iraq War-mongering, in mind next time we're inevitably told by some wingnut on the radio, just how "liberal" the NYTimes is.
Pollack had been slated to direct Recount originally, but was forced to bow out due to being diagnosed with cancer last August. He lived, at least, long enough to see Recount premiered on Sunday night on HBO. He had stayed on with the production as Executive Producer.
Given his great sense of humor, we'd like to believe he would well have appreciated the satirical headline above.
"The recount never really happened," notes Kevin Spacey, correctly, about the 2000 Florida election debacle in his interview Wednesday night on Countdown, in advance of Recount, HBO's theatrical retelling of the nightmare. The film premieres this Sunday.
Some weeks ago, we ran an item which included the theatrical trailer for the film and noted that we've neither seen it, nor been contacted by anybody from the production (they didn't purchase an ad here either, boo hoo) but that they did manage to use our "Stuck in the Middle With You" theme song for the film, curiously enough, as you'll see in the trailer. We'll take it as a compliment, as if we have a choice.
We also noted, with evidence, that Al Gore received more votes than George W. Bush in the state of Florida in 2000, and that seven whistleblowers from the company, Sequoia Voting Systems, who produced the paper ballots for Florida, have come forward to reveal that they were forced by someone to use bad paper on those ballots (only in Florida) against their objections, and to misalign the chads on them (only in Palm Beach County). To this day, other than Dan Rather at HDNet, who originally ran the report, nobody in the corporate media has found that story worthy of following up, or even merely reporting.
But for the third in our countdown of productions with the word "count" in its title, we turn to our friend Mary Mancini, who smartly blogs at the website of the documentary film Uncounted (We're in it, so see FULL DISCLOSURE at end of this article). Mancini notes that Olbermann, during his interview with Spacey (at left, including clip from film), joined so many other journalists who have taken the opportunity of the premiere of HBO's film to miss more than a few good journalistic opportunities...
With all the publicity surrounding this movie, now would be the perfect time for journalists to take the national conversation to the next level and ask the most logical follow up questions:
1) Why wasn’t our electoral process equipped, as Kevin Spacey says in the interview, “to handle margins of victory so small and margins of error so big” in 2000?
2) Are we equipped to do so now?
Another great opportunity was lost last night when during the interview Spacey explains the punch-card recount process:
That when you have a margin of victory so small, you have to go to what is called an automatic machine recount and yet, 18 counties, over 1,500,00 votes, didn’t bother to put their ballots back through the machine. They just re-tabulated the memory card, and you always get a different count when you do a machine recount. So, when you kind of realize that, well, that’s ’cause people just couldn’t bother to do it, um, it’s pretty stunning that…that…so..when Baker and Bush kept coming out and saying, “The votes have been counted, and they’ve been counted again, and Gore wants to count them a third time,” they were actually never counted.
No, they weren't. And the Supreme Court demanded that they remain uncounted, so Bush could be named "President."
Only the media and academic consortium who actually did bother to count all of those ballots [PDF] afterwards in Florida would know that Gore received more votes than Bush. Period. Even if they've done a superb job of keeping that little fact to themselves ever since. Whether HBO's Recount tells that truth, we'll have to wait until Sunday to find out.
Following below, for your convenience, are both the HBO trailer for Recount and, once again, the breathtaking Dan Rather report on the gaming of the paper ballots in Florida's 2000 election...
We've never been contacted by the makers of HBO's upcoming Recount film, which promises to be a theatrical re-telling of the 2000 Presidential Election Debacle in Florida. Yet, we'll chalk it up to one helluva/swelluva coincidence, that the preview for the film, as seen below, happens to use The BRAD BLOG's own personal "theme song," Stuck in the Middle With You. Go figure...
HBO's film begins airing May 25, and while we hate to give away the ending, Al Gore won [PDF].
Of course, that's only if one bothers to count all of the ballots actually successfully cast (if not counted) in the state of Florida, as a media and academic consortium did, as seen at the link above, revealing that by every possible chad-counting standard (hanging, pregnant, swinging, etc.) Al Gore received more votes than George W. Bush. Period.
That might help to explain why Bush had to go to his friends on the Supreme Court to get them not to allow the ballots to be counted, in one of the most remarkably liberal acts of judicial activism, undercutting states' rights, in the history of this nation.
But we're guessing the film has that other, less accurate ending, implying that Bush actual "won" Florida (which he didn't).
In either case, since the myths of the FL 2000 election are likely to be re-debated afresh with the release of HBO's film, we wanted to a) Offer the link above (showing that Gore received more votes in FL than Bush) and b) Remind you, and the entirety of the corporate mainstream media, which ignored it when the following report first aired, that the chads on those ballots in Florida hung for a reason. As 7 former employees of Sequoia Voting Systems, the company which produced FL's paper ballots in 2000, attest on-camera, they were forced by company superiors to use inferior paper for those ballots, only the ones going to Florida, and were further ordered to misalign the chads on those paper ballots, but only for those going to Dem stronghold Palm Beach County.
That, after decades of producing ballots which never featured a hanging chad.
If you've yet to see it, here's the mind-blowing section of Dan Rather's remarkable HDNet report which aired last summer, but was picked up by absolutely nobody in the CMSM thereafter. If you can't watch the following, the transcript is posted here. But if you've not seen this one yet, please prepare to be amazed, and appalled...
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Before I became a real newsman, by the name of Brad Friedman, I played a fake newsman by the name of "Brad Friedman." The results were startlingly similar.
Before we get to this week's Super Duper Tsunami Bloody Tuesday, I thought it might be nice to have a smile before the storm and look back at Super Tuesday 2000. Back when things were still funny.
That year, on March 11th, I headed out to my polling place, with a video camera, as "Brad Friedman," one of the characters I played for a bunch of years on stage in a live comedy show that I co-produced here in Los Angeles called CRIME SCENE. (You can poke around and find some fun stuff to use against me in the old archives here.)
As you'll see in the following (hopefully) amusing video report, some of the candidate names were similar that year. And, as you'll see, then, as now, the line between fake reporting and real reporting was perilously thin. Enjoy...