In following up on Robert F. Kennedy Jr. recent piece in Rolling Stone offering reams of evidence suggesting that the 2004 Presidential Election was most likely stolen, NY Times columnist Bob Herbert op/eds today:
w/ Brad & Desi
w/ Brad & Desi
NATIONWIDE STUDY FINDS ALMOST NO VOTER FRAUD
Just 10 cases of in-person impersonation in all 50 states since 2000...
VIDEO: 'Rise of the Tea Bags'
Brad interviews American patriots...
'Democracy's Gold Standard'
Hand-marked, hand-counted ballots...
GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal 2012...
The Secret Koch Brothers Tapes...
|MORE BRAD BLOG 'SPECIAL COVERAGE' PAGES...|
In following up on Robert F. Kennedy Jr. recent piece in Rolling Stone offering reams of evidence suggesting that the 2004 Presidential Election was most likely stolen, NY Times columnist Bob Herbert op/eds today:
Seattle Post-Intelligencer's associate publisher, Kenneth F. Bunting deserves high praise for his mea culpa in re: the lack of mainstream media coverage (including at his own paper) on RFK Jr.'s recent copiously detailed article in Rolling Stone on whether or not the 2004 Presidential Election was stolen.
His op/ed today is a breath of fresh air and a must read. A very few key excerpts are below.
More to the point, we'll ask then, if Bunting might like to give a story such as the Busby/Bilbray stuff we've been reporting on the attention that it deserves before it becomes too late and the subject of a later "we shoulda reported on it back then" editorial.
Bunting's posted email address is KenBunting@seattlepi.com. Mine is TheBradBlog@cville.com if you'd like to give it to him along with kudos for his piece. I'd be happy to speak with any and all media types about what's going on here and help point them to where the bodies may well be buried...This story could very much use a bigger boat right now...
In terms of bad news judgment, this could turn out to be the 2006 equivalent of the infamous "Downing Street memo," the London Times story that was initially greeted by the U.S. media with a collective yawn.
Wolf Blitzer hosted a "debate"/ambush on CNN's Situation Room between Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and former Bush/Cheney '04 spokesman, Terry Holt. In his Rolling Stone article Kennedy shows that Republicans prevented 350,000 voters from voting or having their votes counted.
Blitzer allowed a more civil discussion than did Tucker Carlson in another recent interview with Kennedy. CNN must have decided that an interview with Kennedy --- which would be entirely warranted --- would have appeared partisan. Republicans don't need someone who is uniquely qualified to defend their illegal electioneering in Ohio. Terry Holt can parrot the same tired GOP
lies talking points and unsubstantiated, evidence-free charges as well as any talking head.
Holt said he would turn Kennedy's charges of Republic election rigging "on it's head". His first line of defense was that "an exhaustive bipartisan study of all 88 counties in Ohio was conducted after the election and Republicans and Democrats... have agreed that there was no significant or insignificant fraud." Kennedy is quick with a strong response, saying that, "there has no been no bipartisan commission... It's simply wrong to say that."
Holt wasted no time in blaming the voter. The true threat to America's democracy are the statistically insignificant fake voter registrations. Especially dangerous are those voters that attempt to "stuff the ballot box" registering with fake names like "Mickey Mouse" and "Michael Jordan". Holt's second talking point is a favorite in the Republican's long term strategy to restrict voting rights. They use this argument for everything from establishing voter Ids to purging Democrat voters from the rolls.
Robert Kennedy found his voice and easily defeated Holt's weak attempt to divert attention from the real issues. A few "Mickey Mouse" registrations hardly compare to the fact that Republicans stole the 2004 Presidential election by subverting the will of 350,000 voters in Ohio.
UPDATE FROM BRAD: Allow me to add to David's analysis here that there is not one known instance of phony "Mickey Mouse" or "Michael Jordan" registrations actually recorded as having voted. Holt spent no time speaking to the serious charges made by Kennedy in Rolling Stone but rather made up his own phony, unsupported nonsense. All the while Blitzer charged Kennedy didn't present evidence to support his charges (apparently, only if RJK Jr. had brought forward someone admitting they personally rigged the election would that have been evidence of anything). In the meantime, Blitzer allowed Holt to spread his unsubstantiated garbage without being challenged even once.
The complete text transcript from the video interview from Friday, June 2nd's edition of The Situation Room on CNN follows...
Tucker Carlson hosted Robert F. Kennedy Jr. last night on MSNBC's The Situation. Kennedy has written an extensive new article in Rolling Stone which exposes how the the Republicans planned, coordinated and executed a plan to subvert the will of voters and put George Bush back in the White House.
As usual, Carlson conducts the interview with the attention span and intellect of a 3-year old (and that may be an insult to 3-year olds). Before Kennedy is allowed to speak, Tucker begins pulling out thinly veiled Republican and corporate media talking points designed to halt any post-election debate. In his lead-in, Tucker says, "Is it really possible that a conspiracy of this magnitude has been kept quiet this long?" Seconds later, turning to Robert Kennedy, Tucker asks, "You are alleging a massive (Carlson's emphasis) conspiracy to, as you put it, fix the 2004 election. A conspiracy of this size would have required the complicity of literally thousands of people. Why have none of those people come forward to admit they were part of it?"
By ignoring the evidence and repeatedly putting together words like "conspiracy" and "massive", Tucker uses one of the first and favorite talking points for those wishing to discourage the truth about Republican electioneering. Tucker implies that a conspiracy to steal a presidential election is logistically impossible. Anyone who believes such theories are irrelevant "crack pots", internet kooks, partisans and wear tinfoil hats to block out the mind control signals.
Tucker's next trusty talking point minimizes the evidence: "I have no doubt --- and I don't think that anybody would --- that there were voting irregularities in this election as there are in any election. Probably some crookedness, again, as there are in any election ." Carlson is implying that liberals, frustrated by Kerry's loss, are blowing normal election imperfections way out of proportion.
Tucker Carlson continued an assault on Kennedy and his article throughout the short interview. Kennedy fights for time to respond and does a good job indicting the media (and Tucker) for ignoring a very obvious problem. Tucker responds by saying that if the stolen election were real then it would have been a news story --- as if truth and reality only exists if the media reports on it.
In the end, Robert F. Kennedy Jr., managed to remain poised and believable. This interview alone may have done little to prove to MSNBC's viewers that there is significant evidence of a stolen election --- but the piece did prove one thing to us: Tucker Carlson is a complete ass.
UPDATE FROM BRAD: Speaking of complete asses... Wolf Blitzer is scheduled to interview RFK Jr. tonight at 7pm ET (4pm PT) on The Situation Room.
The online version of the article has detailed footnotes for sourcing, etc., which Rolling Stone tells us are not available in the published articles to hit stands tomorrow around the country. The issue is currently available on newsstands in both NYC and LA, according to an RS spokesman.
Here are extended excerpts from the article...
Republicans derided anyone who expressed doubts about Bush's victory as nut cases in "tinfoil hats," while the national media, with few exceptions, did little to question the validity of the election. The Washington Post immediately dismissed allegations of fraud as "conspiracy theories," and The New York Times declared that "there is no evidence of vote theft or errors on a large scale." But despite the media blackout, indications continued to emerge that something deeply troubling had taken place in 2004.
Nearly half of the 6 million American voters living abroad never received their ballots ? or received them too late to vote ? after the Pentagon unaccountably shut down a state-of-the-art Web site used to file overseas registrations. A consulting firm called Sproul & Associates, which was hired by the Republican National Committee to register voters in six battleground states, was discovered shredding Democratic registrations. In New Mexico, which was decided by 5,988 votes, malfunctioning machines mysteriously failed to properly register a presidential vote on more than 20,000 ballots. Nationwide, according to the federal commission charged with implementing election reforms, as many as 1 million ballots were spoiled by faulty voting equipment ? roughly one for every 100 cast.
The reports were especially disturbing in Ohio, the critical battleground state that clinched Bush's victory in the Electoral College. Officials there purged tens of thousands of eligible voters from the rolls, neglected to process registration cards generated by Democratic voter drives, shortchanged Democratic precincts when they allocated voting machines and illegally derailed a recount that could have given Kerry the presidency. A precinct in an evangelical church in Miami County recorded an impossibly high turnout of ninety-eight percent, while a polling place in inner-city Cleveland recorded an equally impossible turnout of only seven percent. In Warren County, GOP election officials even invented a nonexistent terrorist threat to bar the media from monitoring the official vote count.
But what is most anomalous about the irregularities in 2004 was their decidedly partisan bent: Almost without exception they hurt John Kerry and benefited George Bush. After carefully examining the evidence, I've become convinced that the president's party mounted a massive, coordinated campaign to subvert the will of the people in 2004. Across the country, Republican election officials and party stalwarts employed a wide range of illegal and unethical tactics to fix the election.
In what may be the single most astounding fact from the election, one in every four Ohio citizens who registered to vote in 2004 showed up at the polls only to discover that they were not listed on the rolls, thanks to GOP efforts to stem the unprecedented flood of Democrats eager to cast ballots. And that doesn't even take into account the troubling evidence of outright fraud, which indicates that upwards of 80,000 votes for Kerry were counted instead for Bush. That alone is a swing of more than 160,000 votes ? enough to have put John Kerry in the White House.
Indeed, the extent of the GOP's effort to rig the vote shocked even the most experienced observers of American elections. "Ohio was as dirty an election as America has ever seen," Lou Harris, the father of modern political polling, told me. "You look at the turnout and votes in individual precincts, compared to the historic patterns in those counties, and you can tell where the discrepancies are. They stand out like a sore thumb."
As The BRAD BLOG reported exclusively yesterday, Robert F. Kennedy Jr.'s Rolling Stone exposé on 2004's questionable Presidential Election is set to hit the stands tomorrow (Friday). The online version is promised for today and we will, of course, link up as soon as it's publicly available.
We're reviewing the final version of the article as published in RS right now and will have more on it later today, of course. In the meantime, Rolling Stone has issued their own press release with a few more details (posted in full below).
According to the release, the article will contend that "Republicans prevented more than 350,000 voters --- the overwhelming majority of them Democratic --- from casting ballots or having their votes counted" on Election Night. Says Rolling Stone...
Myriad Election Night "irregularities" in the Buckeye State, along with a nearly-impossible late-night shift from Kerry to Bush in a full 10 out of 11 Exit Polls in battleground states are covered as well. Again, from RS's press release:
The complete text of the Press Release for the article follows...
A damning and detailed feature article, written by Robert F. Kennedy Jr., for Rolling Stone and documenting evidence of the theft of the 2004 Presidential Election is set to hit newstands this Friday, The BRAD BLOG can now confirm. The online version of the article will be posted tomorrow (Thursday) morning.
The article --- headlined on the cover as "Did Bush Steal the 2004 Election?: How 350,000 Votes Disappeared in Ohio" --- has been several months in development and will contend that a concerted effort was undertaken by high-level Republican officials to steal the Election in Ohio --- and thus the country --- in 2004!
Kennedy told The BRAD BLOG this morning that "the best evidence says the Republicans succeeded" in their plan.
He writes in the 10-page long article, and confirmed to us today, that evidence shows Ohio Sec. of State J. Kenneth Blackwell was "certainly in on" the scheme, and there are indications that the effort went all the way up to the White House.
Kennedy, who is co-host of Ring of Fire, a weekend show on Air America Radio, is an environmental attorney and the son of the late Robert F. Kennedy. This is his first public foray into the realm of Election Fraud, Election Integrity, Electronic Voting and, in particular, the questionable results of Election 2004.
A major publicity push is currently in the works to accompany the feature story which is sure to get the attention of more than a few D.C. and Buckeye State pols in addition to the mainstream media who have, of late, begun reporting more frequently on the litany of concerns and now-documented evidence that new electronic voting machines are hackable through a number of means.
Several public appearances are currently being scheduled for Kennedy in the coming weeks, including an appearance on The Colbert Report currently scheduled for Monday, June 12. (UPDATE: RS contacts us to say there may be a schedule change for the Colbert appearance. We'll update with more details when available.)
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Sources have told The BRAD BLOG that Kennedy "does not hold back in this article."
One of the election integrity advocates involved in research and development with Kennedy on the story told us a number of weeks ago that "[Kennedy] essentially says everything that those of us who have been contending there was massive chicanery in the '04 election were right, and the media and politicians who ignored it at the time were wrong."
We'll have more details and information shortly from the story which includes quotes from Democrats such as Howard Dean and John Kerry, as well as pollster Lou Harris who also questions the validity of the 2004 Presidential Election in Ohio according to the article...
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A sidebar included with the article calls for an investigation into Electronic Voting machines prior to upcoming elections...More soon...
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Keeping in mind that a mere 6 votes registered for Kerry instead of Bush at each precint in Ohio in 2004 would have given the state, and the Presidency, to Kerry, here's a few quotes from the article...
Howard Dean: "I'm not confident that the election in Ohio was fairly decided."
U.S. Congressman from Ohio, Rep. Dennis Kucinich: "The secretary of state is supposed to administer elections ? not throw them."
Pollster Lou Harris of the Harris Poll --- described in the piece as "the father of modern day political polling" --- says: "Ohio was as dirty an election as America has ever seen."
Despite Harris' comments, which may be amongst the most explosive in the article, Kerry himself brings up the rear...
John Kerry: "Can I draw a conclusion that they played tough games and clearly had intent to reduce the level of our vote? Yes, absolutely. Can I tell you to a certainty that it made the difference in the election? I can't. There's no way for me to do that. If I could have done that, then obviously I would have found some legal recourse."
Ed note: Glad to have so many of you folks stopping by to check out this story. While waiting for RFK Jr.'s story which focuses largely on what happened in 2004, please check out BRAD BLOG's front page for a list of just a few of our "Hot Stories" (links at top of page) covering our crumbling electoral system in 2006! Including more scandalously under-reported stories than you can shake a stick at! From Diebold's now-proven hackable election systems to Ann Coulter's own felonious voting fraud to ES&S's complete electoral meltdown so far this year to Bob Ney and Jack Abramoff's dirty hands in the creation of the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) which has brought about the rise of these god-forsaken machines to the tune of 4 billion tax-payer dollars. Also, much more to come from Kennedy as well on the mess we face in 2006 as well, by the way, in the not too distant future. Stay tuned.
UPDATE 7/1/06: Rolling Stone issues a press release on the article with more details. Online posting a full article to come soon today.
EXTENDED EXCERPTS FROM THE ARTICLE, INCLUDING NEW EVIDENCE SUGGESTING A STOLEN ELECTION NOW AVAILABLE HERE...
In the lawsuit, the county seeks $925,074 in damages from UniLect of Dublin, Calif., for the company's Patriot touch-screen voting machines.
The machines were in use in the 2004 presidential election in Mercer County, where votes were apparently lost.
In April of 2005, we reported on those machines, the UniLect Patriots, being decertified in PA.
Previously, on November 4, 2004 --- two days after the Presidential Election --- we reported that more than 4,500 votes were completely lost on the same machines in Carteret County, NC.
That same day, in the same report, we discussed the same machines in use in Ohio on Election Day.
While the incident in NC led to new laws in the state requiring full source-code submission to the state by Electronic Voting Machine vendors, and the problems in PA have led to state decertification and now a lawsuit against the company, we're aware of no action that has ever been taken by the state of OH to investigate what might have happened and whether or not votes were similarly lost on UniLect Patriot machines in the Buckeye state that same night.
Good thing what happened in OH on November 2, 2004 wasn't all that important.
In what appears to be the only known case of the Democratic Party itself (to our brain-addled knowledge anyway, since we've been on the road for the last several days for last minute super-secret meetings that have left us exhausted for the moment), the Alaska Dems and the DNC Alaska Communications Director have announced a lawsuit is being filed to demand the state release election records from 2004.
Yes, they are still trying to figure out what happened in 2004. And in America 2006, apparently such info can only be obtained (perhaps) by going to court!
The complete press release issued today is posted in full below, but here's a recap on this mind-numbing story up until now:
In December 2005, the Dems asked the state for the election data files from the '04 election. They were told that they couldn't have that information, because the state's contract with Alaska made that information a "company secret" of Diebold's!
After complaints to the state, and the state's consultation with Diebold, the state agreed to release the information, but only after informing the Dems they'd have to cover the cost of (and this is a direct quote from their letter), "manipulating the data" before releasing it!
Finally, before the data could be released --- "manipulated" or otherwise --- the state's top security official announced they would not release the information after all because it was a "security risk."
Oh, how I wish I was making this shit up. But I'm not.
So, now the Dems up there are showing a rare bit of spine and going to court to get at that highly secret and super dangerous information otherwise known as "how American citizens voted in an election two years ago."
Why are they so interested in this info in the first place? Here's a graf or two from the release (which you should read in full below for full impact!):
In 20 of the 40 State House Districts, more ballots were cast than there are registered voters in the district, according to information on the state's web site. In 16 election districts, the voter turnout percentage shown is over 200%.
"Alaskans must have an accurate accounting of the 2004 election results. "The accountability of our election system is at stake. Confidence in the integrity of our elections is fundamental to our democracy," [Alaska Democratic Party Chair Jake] Metcalfe said.
The entire press release from the Alaska Dems follows...
Before I register my complaint here with Matt Taibbi's otherwise excellent article on the background of "Mr. Republican" Jack Abramoff and "The secret history of the most corrupt man in Washington," as published in the April 6th edition of Rolling Stone, I'll point to this smart graf amongst many such smart grafs in a very well-researched and informative piece:
Taibbi's piece covers in detail some of the many scams that Abramoff and the rest of the nationwide Republican Network of dishonest, opportunistic players who now comprise the power structure of the Republican party --- or the "vast rightwing conspiracy" as Hillary correctly described it. It's an ugly, but accurate portrait of those who have hijacked all that America was supposed to have stood for while an otherwise distracted and/or media-whipped public was trained to look the other way --- or otherwise give the benefit of the doubt to some very very bad guys who have earned no such benefit.
Those bad guys now run the country, its government, its corporations and its media virtually in its entirety. And more shamefull still, they've got goons played for suckers who are so daft and gullible that, to this day, they run around and play apologist for these people who --- I guess they don't realize it --- are fucking them hard up their own asses with their own hard-earned money and blindly offered good-will. You'll find many of those dopes repeating Fox "News" and Limbaugh-isms over Thanksgiving dinners everywhere, and otherwise plying their foolish and self-destructive trade wherever they can. A stroll through some of the most trollish comments left here at The BRAD BLOG reveals these people have left only the dimmest of connections to Reality as it exists in 2006 on the planet Earth.
With those accolades for Taibbi's work now out of the way, allow me to point to this earlier graf in his piece (emphasis added)...
"Lurking in the background" must be MSM code for: Reported by BRAD BLOG but otherwise ignored.
We're glad to see Taibbi pick up on some of our reporting as he writes...
...But it would certainly help to keep such bad guys from affecting so much corruption and damage for so many years before they actually get busted, if Taibbi would be kind enough to point out some of the sources --- independent, alternative, "blog" or otherwise --- who have been trying to blow such whistles for so long.
With appropriate credit and recognition from the mainstream, as we opined a several weeks ago, reporting such as ours and many others would likely have the effect of stopping the bad guys before they manage to wreak quite as much havoc on our once-great American democracy.
We'd hope that even the usually independent-minded Rolling Stone would keep such important points in mind by choosing to give appropriate attribution where possible in their future reporting. As we've said before: It matters.
Racing to prepare for Guest Hosting the Peter B. Collins Show later today, so can't give more context for now (more on this during the show today, no doubt), but this out this morning from the Cleveland Plain-Dealer.
Regular BRAD BLOG readers will be familiar with the stories of the three Cuyahoga County, OH Elections Workers who have been indicted on felony charges for gaming the 2004 recount, but this report provides many more details and corroboration from the Prosecutors. It also reminds us, that though the Elections Workers have been indicted on felony charges, they continue to work at the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections! Only in Ohio! (well, okay, maybe Florida, too...)
This is incredibly mind-blowing...Even to us...
After the 2004 presidential election, Cuyahoga County election workers secretly skirted rules designed to make sure all votes were counted correctly, a special prosecutor charges.
Three top county elections officials have been indicted, and Erie County Prosecutor Kevin Baxter says more indictments are possible.
Internet bloggers have cried foul since 2004 about election results in Ohio, one of the key states in deciding the election. They have been tracking Baxter's investigation with online posts about the indictments.
Baxter's prosecution centers on Ohio's safeguards for ensuring that every vote is counted.
Baxter charges that Cuyahoga election workers - mindful of the monthlong Florida recount in 2000 - not only ignored the safeguards but worked to defeat them during Ohio's 2004 recount.
Candidates for president from the Green and Libertarian parties requested the Ohio recount. State laws and regulations specify how a recount works.
Election workers in each county are supposed to count 3 percent of the ballots by hand and by machine, randomly choosing precincts for that count.
If the hand and machine counts match, the other 97 percent of the votes are recounted by machine. If the numbers don't match, workers repeat the effort. If they still don't match exactly, the workers must complete the recount by hand, a tedious process that could take weeks and cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.
But the fix was in at the Cuyahoga elections board, Baxter charges.
Days before the Dec. 16 recount, workers opened the ballots and hand-counted enough votes to identify precincts where the machine count matched.
"If it didn't balance, they excluded those precincts," Baxter said.
"The preselection process was done outside of any witnesses, without anyone's knowledge except for [people at] the Board of Elections."
On the official recount day, employees pretended to pick precincts randomly, Baxter says. Dozens of Cuyahoga County election workers sat at 20 folding tables in front of dozens of witnesses and reporters.
They did the hand and machine count of 3 percent of the votes 34 of the 1,436 precincts and when the totals matched, the recount was completed by machines.
"They screwed with the process and increased the probability, if not the certainty, that there would not be a full countywide hand count," Baxter said.
[Executive director of the Cuyahoga County elections board, Michael] Vu acknowledged that the selection of precincts was not completely random because precincts with 550 votes or fewer were not used.
Nor were precincts counted where the number of ballots handed out on Election Day failed to match the number of ballots cast.
Baxter has said he can't understand why the three people indicted all managers - continue to work at the election office.
UPDATE 1/24/2007: Two of the indicted election officials found guilty of gaming the recount, charged with maximum penalty. Details...
Guest Blogged by John Gideon
Today Governor Bill Richardson of New Mexico made a powerful statement to officials in all states (see full letter below) as he announced that tomorrow he would be signing legislation that would require the state of New Mexico to go to a paper ballot based voting system. No longer will the state use Sequoia DRE (touch-screen) voting machines...the machines that reported large numbers of undervotes in previous elections...The same machines that disenfranchised minority voters...The technology Richardson describes as "simply fail[ing] to pass the test of reliability" in his open letter published today.
The Governor has also announced that the bill's signing ceremony will be webcast. The announcement says:
Please watch the webcast, take a moment to look at the Governor's proposals, and sign the petition to get your state, and the rest of America, to make every vote count
This all sounds wonderful, except???opponents of the legislation managed to get the legislation amended so that voting systems "owned or used" as of 1 May 2006 that do not use paper ballots can continue to be used until, among other things, debt on purchases of those machines are paid by the state. Then, the bill that appropriated funds to pay off the debt died in committee. Now the state needs to find the money to pay off the debt.
UPDATE 3/3/06: Signing ceremony video and petition calling on all states to join NM now here.
The complete letter from Gov. Richardson of New Mexico follows...
A bizarre story concerning Alaska's 2004 Election has taken yet another even more bizarre turn this week, The BRAD BLOG has learned.
A long-standing public records request for the release of Election 2004 database files created by Diebold's voting system had been long delayed after several odd twists and turns, including the revelation of a contract with the state claiming the information to be a "company secret."
But while it finally appeared as though the state had agreed to release the information (after reserving the right to "manipulate the data" in consultation with Diebold before releasing it), the state's top Security Official has now --- at the last minute --- stepped in to deny the request. The grounds for the denial: the release of the information poses a "security risk" to the state of Alaska.
The state Democratic party has been attempting since December of last year to review the Diebold GEMS tabulator data files from the 2004 election in order to audit some of the strange results discovered in the state, including a reported voter turnout of more than 200% in some areas.
"At this point," Democratic Party spokesperson Kay Brown told the Anchorage Daily News in January, "it's impossible to say whether the correct candidates were declared the winner in all Alaska races from 2004."
Some of the questionable results from the 2004 Election were outlined in a January 23rd letter [PDF] to the state's Division of Elections from the Alaska Democratic Party chairman, Jake Metcalfe. Amongst the anomolies detailed in Metcalfe's letter: "district-by-district vote totals add up to 292,267 votes for President Bush, but his official total was only 190,889."
The state Division of Elections, which had previously relented and agreed to release the data after refusing at first to do so, announced its latest about-face in a letter to Metcalfe on Wednesday citing the following concern from Alaska's Chief Security Officer Darrell Davis after he reviewed the public records request:
The complete letters from Alaska's Division of Elections Director Whitney Brewster and Chief Security Officer Darrell Davis are both available in full here [PDF].
The earlier twists in this strange tale occurred first in January and then in early February.
In late January, we reported that the state had refused to release the Election Data Files on the grounds that their contract with Diebold disallowed the release of the files. Their contract, apparently, recognizes the voter information to be a "company secret" and thus the proprietary property of the company which could not be released to the voters of Alaska.
A week or so later, in early Februrary we reported that the state and Diebold had capitulated. Sort of. After conferring with Diebold, the state relented and agreed to release the files. However, they reserved the right to --- sit down for this --- "manipulate the data" in consultation with Diebold before releasing them!
As the Elections Director Brewster stated in a February 3rd letter [PDF] to Metcalfe announcing they would release the data:
And now, the new wrinkle, the state's "security risks" lead them to announce that "after careful consideration," they "will not authorize the release of the GEMS database or audit files" after all.
"Delivery of the database itself, and some of the information contained within this database," says the letter from Davis, "presents numerous security risks to the State of Alaska Government."
We couldn't make this stuff up if we tried.
So just to recap: First the voters of Alaska were not allowed to see their own voting data from the 2004 Election because it was the proprietary "company secret" property of Diebold. Then they would be allowed to see it as long as the state and Diebold could "manipulate the data" before releasing it. And now finally it's determined that allowing the voters to see how they actually voted in the 2004 Election would be a "security risk" to the state of Alaska.
No word yet on whether the Alaska Democratic Party will take the matter to court to seek resolution.
The American War on Democracy continues...
UPDATE 4/18/06: The insane roller coaster continues. State Democrats are forced to file a lawsuit to get at the records showing how voters voted in 2004. Details now here...
Good news (perhaps) regarding our previous story on Diebold's refusal to allow the voters of Alaska to look at their own voting data since the Electronic Voting Machine vendor claimed the file format of their GEMS tabulation software was a "company secret" in their contract with the state.
But now, according to a letter from Alaska's Election Officials, published at BlackBoxVoting.org from Alaska's election authorities, "Diebold has agreed to waive its proprietary rights to the GEMS database files."
That apparent capitulation by the Voting Machine Company may set a precedent with wider implications for other states and counties seeking access to such data and other forms of transparency in public elections. See the BBV link above for more thoughts on some of the possibilities.
That said, there is still reason to be cautious about this news for a number of reasons. Note the following --- almost incredible wording --- from the published letter [emphasis ours]...
In just one more story which illustrates the many undemocratic dangers of allowing private companies to "own" our public elections, Diebold, Inc., one of America's largest Voting Machine Companies is currently blocking citizens in Alaska from viewing election data from the 2004 general election!
"All Alaska races from 2004" are now being questioned, said a Democratic party official in a written letter to the state Elections Director.
Questions have begun to arise about results from that election, including the reported revelation that "district-by-district vote totals add up to 292,267 votes for President Bush, but his official total was only 190,889."
The BRAD BLOG has obtained a copy of the letter sent yesterday by Jake Metcalfe, chair of the Alaska Democratic Party to Whitney Brewster of the Alaska Division of Elections. The letter responds to Brewster's refusal to supply the party with the requested data files and outlines a number of additional concerns about the reported 2004 election results.
Anchorage Daily News covers the emerging controversy today. Some highlights here [emphasis ours]:
The Alaska Democratic Party says the information is a public record essential for verifying the accuracy of the 2004 general election and must be provided.
The official vote results from the last general election are riddled with discrepancies and impossible for the public to make sense of, the Democrats said Monday. A detailed analysis of the underlying data could answer lingering questions about an election many thought was over more than a year ago, they say.
At this point, it's impossible to say whether the correct candidates were declared the winner in all Alaska races from 2004, [Democratic spokeswoman, Kay] Brown said.
The private contractor hired to provide Alaska's electronic voting machines is Diebold Election Systems.
Diebold told the state it owns the format, which can't be released because it's a company secret.
[U]nder the state's contract with Diebold, that cannot be released, Brewster said.
Never mind, of course, that Diebold's "company secret" has been available for download from the Internet for years, since the company --- who claims to specialize in security solutions --- left the information sitting unprotected on a public download site.
(Hat tip to our friend Peter B. Collins of KRXA 540-am in Monterey, CA for the lead!)
UPDATE 2/7/06: Alaska capitulates...sort of. Details now here...
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