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The Secret Koch Brothers Tapes...


By Alan Breslauer on 12/23/2006 12:47pm PT  

Guest Blogged by Alan Breslauer


Christine Jennings and her lawyer, Kendall Coffey, appeared Wednesday on Lou Dobbs Tonight with guest host Kitty Pilgrim to discuss the latest news concerning Florida's 13th Congressional District. As BRAD BLOG has reported often (most recently here, here and here), Vern Buchanan was declared the winner in Florida's 13th after the disappearance of 18,000 votes left the Republican with a paltry 369 vote lead over his opponent Jennings. Subsequently, a handful of experts including one provided by e-voting manufacturer ES&S, concluded that the inclusion of the missing votes would have propelled Jennings to an easy victory based on an analysis of the Sarasota votes which did not spontaneously combust.

Unfortunately, the will of the people is a foreign concept among those controlling the Florida election apparatus which declared Buchanan the winner after recounting nothing a couple of times. With no paper trail (much less a paper BALLOT, and there is a big difference!), a "recount" merely refers to state election staffers testing whether a few selected machines are working properly and is entirely unrelated to the vote count. By certifying Buchanan the winner, the state forced Jennings to seek relief in the Florida courts.

This did not sit well with Sean Hannity who, with Buchanan on as a guest a few weeks ago, found the entire affair "unbelievable" and further evidence that Democrats are sore losers. Juxtaposing the Hannity clip as well as Tom Feeney's reaction to the election controversy, recounted by Brad here, to Jennings appearance on CNN (clip above right), makes for quite an interesting experiment. While hardly evidence that could be used in a court of law like the damning statistical evidence, the contrast is, nevertheless, telling.

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County Elections Website Claims Voters Are Asked for Specific 'YES or NO' Confirmation of Undervotes at End of Voting Process
Sources Confirm it Didn't Happen That Way in Contested FL-13 U.S. House Race on November 7th...
By Brad Friedman on 12/10/2006 5:05pm PT  

An instructional web page, explaining the ES&S touch-screen electronic voting machines in use during Florida's disputed FL-13 U.S. House Election gives faulty information to voters about the way the county's paperless voting systems works, The BRAD BLOG has learned.

The information offered on the county's election website, concerning the crucial process during which voters might choose to adjust any "undervotes" found on their electronic "ballots" at the end of the voting process, is misleading and incorrect. According to several sources, the systems in use during the contested November 7th U.S. House race between Vern Buchanan (R) and Christine Jennings (D) did not operate as advertised by the Sarasota County website.

The county web page in question is described as "a technical look at how the ES&S iVotronic touch screen system works." Yet, Sarasota's ES&S iVotronic systems, apparently, didn't work as described on the site.

The "VOTE button" on the iVotronic, as explained by the text on the website, will cast the vote only after the summary page is given to the voters, allowing them to explicitly approve or disapprove of any undervotes found on their "ballots."

"The iVotronic will review the ballot for any races for which the voter did not cast a vote (undervote), and asks if this is the intent of the voter," according to the webpage. The voter is then said to receive a YES or NO option to confirm their intention of undervoting in the particular race(s).

(The webpage is here. Click the #5 option to see how the "VOTE button" on the system is supposed to work. A screenshot of the page follows at the end of this article.)

Lowell Finley, however, an attorney for VoterAction.org --- one of several non-partisan organizations leading a voter lawsuit demanding a revote in the election --- tells The BRAD BLOG that "the statement on the Sarasota website is false" and that voters were not given such an option on November 7th.

We also inquired about the matter on Friday afternoon with the office of "the Honorable" Kathy Dent, Sarasota County's Supervisor of Elections...

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

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By Brad Friedman on 12/10/2006 12:36pm PT  

A li'l bit of Sunday morning radio. Me with the always delightful Christine Craft of Sacramento's 1240am Talk City sitting in over at San Francisco's (and Oakland's and San Jose's and elsewhere's) big old KGO 810am. Talking Election Integrity with a loads of good callers incoming. Unfortunately, none of them called me a whacko, tinfoil hat-wearing conspiracy theorist no matter how hard I tried. Funny, but where I almost always used to get such callers, we don't seem to hear from them much (if ever) anymore. Go figure.

The appearance is just 34 minutes --- after I removed the commercials from the hour long segment --- of Sunday morning Braditude for your listening pleasure...


-- Brad with Christine Craft on KGO, 12/10/06 [MP3]

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By Brad Friedman on 12/7/2006 12:35pm PT  

From Tribune Media Services' Robert Koehler, in his latest column, "Electronic Treason"...

Electronic voting, like the war in Iraq, is starting to get bad press. And following the debacle of last month's midterm elections, a lot of people have begun to demand an exit strategy.

Surely there ought to be a limit to the number of egregiously wrong turns the same ideologues are allowed to make at one time.
...
A year and a half ago, when I first started writing about disenfranchisement and the troubling evidence of electronic voting fraud in the 2004 election, this was not a respectable topic for mainstream discourse. Those who broached it were relegated to a spectrum of mockery that ran from "sore loser" to "conspiracy nut." But the ongoing horror show of "glitches" perpetrated on democracy by touchscreen voting machines this year can no longer be ignored even by those who would prefer to, and e-voting disasters are now being reported with some regularity.

We feel ya, Bob. And thanks for being there where few dared to go back in those dark days of mid-2005.

Read the rest at Koehler's own site or at Huff Po.

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'Constitutional Option' Likely to be Invoked in Fight Over U.S. House Seat According to Paper
Howard Dean Says Election 'Not Valid', Agrees House Should Not Seat Buchanan; Tom Feeney Bullies...
By Brad Friedman on 12/7/2006 9:35am PT  

ED NOTE: See our own thoughts on the "Constitutional Option" of a Congressional challenge in the Jennings/Buchanan FL-13 race, and how this version differs from the same law (mis)applied in last Summer's Busby/Bilbray Special U.S. House election in CA-50 as posted yesterday.

From today's St. Petersburg Times...

WASHINGTON — Republican Vern Buchanan may be the official winner in a messy Sarasota-area Congressional race, but Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean says the Democratic-controlled Congress should not seat Buchanan without another election.

“Absolutely not,’’ Dean said in a taped “Political Connections” interview airing Sunday on Bay News 9. “You cannot seat someone if you don’t have an election that’s valid.

“This election is not valid. There are 18,000 people who may have voted and we don’t know what happened to their votes,” he said. “You can bet that if the Republicans were 500 votes short they’d be calling for a new election, and they’d be right.”

On Wednesday, Democrat Christine Jennings said she will ask the U.S. House to take the extreme measure of conducting its own investigation into the election.

In a side note, Rep. Tom Feeney (R-Abramoff), a man who knows a thing or two about both bad elections and bullying people to get his way, is quoted in the story as well:

“I think there would be a huge pushback in terms of the American people,’’ said Rep. Tom Feeney, an Orlando area Republican. “I think that the consequences of that would be severe for the Democratic leadership.”

Feeney, aside from allegedly asking computer programmer turned whistleblower Clint Curtis to create vote-rigging software back in 2000 (which is notorious enough), notoriously also announced, back in 2000 as Speaker of the Florida House, that he would take it upon himself to ensure that Florida's Electors went to George W. Bush no matter what the United States Supreme Court would ultimately decide during the 2000 imbroglio.

Feeney is a bully of the highest reknown. With a fresh election "victory" under his belt (albeit one which his challenger, the whistleblower-turned-candidate Curtis, has questioned) watch for him to crank up his bully-boy-ness as things move forward in this and other related affairs in the new Congress. Watch for The BRAD BLOG to keep calling him on it.

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Challenges Election Integrity Advocates to 'See if Your Programmer Can Manipulate That Machine' at Public, Video Taped Meeting!
Invites Media to Witness Challenge!
By Brad Friedman on 12/6/2006 7:54pm PT  

Riverside County, California, Supervisor Jeff Stone laid down the gauntlet to Election Integrity advocates at a public meeting on Tuesday, offering to bet them "a thousand to one" they can't hack into the county's electronic voting machines made by Sequoia Voting Systems.

Near the end of a contentious meeting of the Board of Supervisors, in which the county's five person board accepted the final canvass of results from the November 7th election from Riverside County Registrar Barbara Dunmore, Stone made his challenge to one of a number of activists from the SAVE R VOTE election watchdog coalition. The advocates were on hand to give testimony about problems they witnessed during the recent election, to present their own report to the board (PDFs: Report, Photos#1, Photos#2), and ask that at least one of their members be appointed to a "Blue Ribbon Commission" being convened by the county to investigate problems during the election.

In the videotaped exchange with Stone, Maxine Ewig, a co-founder of Democracy for America - Temecula Valley and a SAVE R VOTE member, tells the county supervisors that she was informed by a programmer that they "had not seen any machine or program that could not be manipulated."

In response, Stone interrupted Ewig's testimony to offer his challenge.

"I'd like to challenge that programmer," Stone says in the video clip (complete transcript of the exchange at the bottom of this article), "and I'd like to set up an appointment with one of our machines and I'd like him or her to verify that they can manipulate that machine. And I'm gonna bet a thousand to one that they cannot do it...I'll make that challenge."

Stone's stunning challenge continued with an invitation to the media --- reporters from several local papers were on hand --- to witness the attempted voting machine manipulation.

"I'm challenging you to challenge her or him and I...I believe we can make that happen," he said. "And maybe we should bring the media in and let's see if your programmer can manipulate that machine. My guess is that it is not gonna happen, but I'm willing to take a chance on that."

How far Stone may be "willing to take" that "chance" remains to be seen. In the wake of the news, which was reported today briefly by both the Desert Sun and the Press Enterprise, several national Election Integrity advocates have informed The BRAD BLOG that they would be willing to put some money on the line towards accepting Stone's challenge. We hope to have more details on that as the matter develops.

Riverside is the first county in the nation to use touch-screen voting systems. Local Election Integrity advocates have, for some time, been waging a fight for more transparency, security, and accountability from the county and, specifically, the county's Registrar of Voters Barbara Dunmore.

SAVE R VOTE member Tom Courbat was on hand for the proceedings. Courbat is one of the activists who, as The BRAD BLOG broke in the days just prior to the November 7th election, helped reveal the "Yellow Button" on the back of Sequoia touch-screen machines which could allow a voter to cast as many votes as they wish on those systems.

He complained during his testimony to the board about the planned make up of the county's "Blue Ribbon Commission." The county is convening the panel to investigate several failures during the recent Election and the "operational problems of the registrar of voters office," as Courbat told us tonight.

Courbat suggested to the board that they appoint at least one citizen Election Integrity advocate to the panel after, earlier in the meeting, a board member had responded to critics by saying they didn't want to include anybody who was predisposed against electronic voting systems.

Courbat countered by suggesting that a mix of those both in favor and against such systems would be a healthy idea for the commission. The board seemed less than moved by the idea, and Ewig then proceeded by opening her own testimony informing the board that members of SAVE R VOTE had not come to this cause originally against electronic voting. Rather, she explained, their current position was based on "their own study over the past two years."

It was then that Stone answered with his challenge. The exchange is available on the county's website via online video here (Scroll to the 2:10:00 mark for the beginning of the exchange. NOTE: This video link may only work in Internet Explorer w/ Media Windows Player. Another video of the same event, from a different camera angle --- with some priceless expressions from at least one of the Supervisors --- is now posted below in Streaming Flash.)


-- Streaming Flash Version...

It is unclear whether or not Stone is aware of either Sequoia's "Yellow Button" issue or, as we reported earlier this year, that Dr. Michael Shamos of Carnegie Mellon University accidentally hacked into a Sequoia system while demonstrating how such systems couldn't be hacked.

Shamos, a supporter of electronic voting systems, was testing Sequoia's voting machines for the commonwealth of Pennsylvania when he was able "in an instant," as it was reported last March, "to transform a handful of votes into thousands."

We'll hope Supervisor Stone has some deep pockets, as he may have to come up with quite a few dollars to back up his "thousand to one" challenge.

A complete text transcript of the short exchange between Supervisor Jeff Stone and Maxine Ewig follows in full...

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

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VIDEO - Hannity Begins to Carry Disingenuous Buckets of Anti-Democracy Water
Jennings May Have to Play the Congressional Constitutional Card to Gain the House Seat Which Obviously Should Belong to Her...
By Brad Friedman on 12/6/2006 3:11pm PT  

It's a lovely change of pace when some of the other "big boy bloggers" beat me to the punch on Election Integrity-related stories. Perhaps I can start sleeping in for a while. I could use it.

That said, TPMMuckraker gives us a fine update on the FL-13 sitch, and Sean Hannity's virtuoso performance in what is likely his most disingenuous performance to date last night on Hannity & Colmes, where Republican Vern Buchanan spouted off with neither a Democratic nor a non-partisan Election Integrity advocate to counter his nonsense.

In addition to TPMM's points, it should also be pointed out that Hannity stated incorrectly --- twice --- that Sarasota is the strongest Republican stronghold in the contest. That, despite, his later admission that the Democratic Christine Jennings won the area by 7%.

As well, Hannity (again unchecked) is allowed to rant about how Republicans don't challenge elections when they lose, they accept defeat gracefully. Guess Sean doesn't read The BRAD BLOG and thus doesn't know about the Conservative TX Supreme Court Justice Steven Smith, or the mess in Maricopa County, AZ, still percolating from back in 2004, or the fact that Rick Santorum and the PA Republican party demanded that touch-screen systems where votes reportedly flipped be impounded in 27 counties on Election Day, just to name a few instances.

But we'd expect nothing less from water boy Hannity.

Most of note in the video, perhaps, is Buchanan's un-checked (and by now, expected) outrageous claim that Jennings is "destroying democracy" by calling for a revote. A funny turn of phrase from a guy who is doing everything he can to ensure that the rather clear voices of the voters are ignored in favor of a 369 vote "victory" gained only due to faulty, paperless touch-screen voting machines.

Even Buchanan is unable, in the clip, to explain why 18,000 votes in Jennings's strongest county simply disappeared. Of course, he'd have to admit he lost if forced to come up with an answer to that mystery. So he avoids the question twice by explaining only that "there's a lot of speculation out there you can read."

Got nothing, Vern? But don't give a damn anyway? We thought so. Now that's what we call "destroying democracy"!

In other FL-13 coverage around the 'sphere, both the Sarasota Herald-Tribune and a group of political scientists [PDF] are averring that it was bad ballot design which caused the problem (The BRAD BLOG earlier posted a photo of the way in which the race was displayed on the touch-screen systems, such that it would have been very easy for voters not to see the race at all on Sarasota's ES&S touch-screen machines.)

The "bad ballot design" explanation, however --- that voters didn't notice the race --- fails to account for all of the affidavits from voters claiming they tried and tried to vote in the race, but couldn't get their vote to register properly for Jennings, as one of the attorneys representing the voter lawsuit calling for a revote recently told us.

Finally, DailyKos (of all places) has some decent front page coverage of the rather conservative (we've found) Election Law professor Rick Hasen's explanation [PDF] of the Constitutional card that can be played by the U.S. House to settle the matter. At this point, it's looking more and more like that will be the way this thing is ultimately settled...

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

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Founder of Phony Anti-Democracy GOP Front Group, Bush/Cheney Operative, Welcomed Again as 'Expert' at America's Federal Elections Oversight Commission Hearings...
By Brad Friedman on 12/5/2006 4:30pm PT  

Need any more proof that the U.S. Elections Assistance Commission (EAC) which was formed by the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) is hopelessly compromised and utterly ineffective beyond repair?

Here's the agenda [PDF] for their Dec. 7th "Public Meeting." On Panel 2 for the "Assessing the 2006 Election" is, of course, the wholly discredited, democracy-loathing, high-level GOP operative scam artist and Bush/Cheney '04 national counsel, Mark F. "Thor" Hearne. Again.

Apparently he has a bought and paid for permanent seat at the table, next to his St. Louis colleague and partner in Anti-Americanism, the outgoing EAC chair Paul DeGregorio.

You'll note Hearne no longer even bills himself as being the founder of the phony, self-declared "non-partisan" "American Center for Voting Rights" (ACVR) anymore since his GOP front group astroturf organization --- created solely to deflect from real Election Fraud concerns and push a contrived "epidemic" of Voter Fraud on an unsuspecting public so as to establish disenfranchising Photo ID restrictions at polls across the country --- has been so thoroughly discredited. (You're welcome.)

As I frequently say, this democracy ain't gonna save itself. Particularly with cretins such as "Thor" doing all they can to game your American democracy for their own contemptible partisan interests.

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

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

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

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

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

The PFAW press release follows in full below...

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

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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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