The BRAD BLOG Because it's not about Right or Left, it's about Right and Wrong! Fri, 24 Oct 2014 23:12:31 +0000 en Touch-Screen Votes Flip 'No' to 'Yes' on Abortion Amendment to State Constitution in TN Fri, 24 Oct 2014 21:39:43 +0000 Brad Friedman Election Irregularities Election Reform Tennessee Rights And Freedoms Touch-Screen Vote Flipping Election 2014 Just after this morning's official start of our regular biennial coverage of votes flipping on 100% unverifiable touch-screen voting systems around the country, this report comes in right on cue from the great state of Tennessee...

"I honestly sort of slapped my head and said, 'Why me? Why did this happen to me?'" said Bernie Ellis, of Santa Fe.

Ellis said he voted "no" on Amendment One Thursday. Before he submitted his ballot, he noticed a problem.

"Sometime between when I cast my vote and when I got to the review page, the machine had changed my vote to a 'yes,'" Ellis said.

Beverley Turner, of Columbia, experienced the same issue last Friday when she tried voting "no" on the same position.

Both Ellis and Turner voted at the Maury County Election Commission.
Tennessee's 95 counties use touch screen election machines.

Amendment 1 is a TN ballot measure that would amend the state constitution to allow the legislature to "to enact, amend, or repeal statutes regarding abortion, including, but not limited to, circumstances of pregnancy resulting from rape or incest or when necessary to save the life of the mother."

Ellis, who explains what happens in the video posted below, happens to be a long-time election integrity advocate in Tennessee. He was very instrumental in helping the state legislature pass, nearly unanimously, the Tennessee Voter Confidence Act (TVCA), a 2008 law to move to all of their 95 counties to paper ballots. Shamefully, after TN Republicans took over the legislature later that year (via the statewide touch-screen voting system, in a year when the GOP got trounced literally everywhere else in the country), they fought and then eventually repealed the reform which would have done away with the state's 100% unverifiable e-voting system.

The Republican fervor to continue the use of such unverifiable voting systems in the state may have been best reflected by a comment offered directly to us in 2007 at a meeting of the Davidson County (Nashville) election commission. After Tennessee election integrity documentarians David and Patricia Earnhardt (filmmakers of the award-winning Uncounted: The New Math of American Elections, which both Ellis and I happen to appear in) reported seeing their own votes flip on touch-screen systems in Davidson County during Early Voting for the 2008 Presidential Election there, we explained:

In 2007 we had the displeasure of attending a meeting of the Davidson County, TN, Election Commission ourselves. While the Democrats on the committee were in the majority, the three hapless Democratic members were run roughshod over by the two Republicans who virtually ran the entire meeting themselves.

The Republican who seemed to be in charge of things, Commissioner Lynn Greer, while the actual Chair Eddie Bryan did almost nothing, actually told us after the meeting --- and after we'd spoken during it, to warn about the troubles they would have with their touch-screen systems --- that "paper ballots are the greatest fraud ever perpetrated on America."

It seemed as though he actually believed those words as they came out of his mouth.

Greer later became Chair of the county's Election Commission after Republicans took over the state legislature that year for the first time since Reconstruction.

For much more on the issue of touch-screen vote-flipping, what you need to be concerned about, what you don't need to be concerned about, and what you can do about all of it, please see our earlier detailed story today on votes now reportedly flipping Democratic to Republican on Diebold touch-screens in Texas and flipping Republican to Democratic on Sequoia touch-screens in Illinois.

The systems reportedly flipping votes in Maury County, TN are the infamous iVotronics made by ES&S, the nation's largest voting machine manufacturer and the one with, perhaps, the longest and most spectacular history of election failures in the U.S.

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Here's the video report on the Maury County vote flips from WSMV...

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E-Votes Flip D to R in Texas, R to D in Illinois: More Trouble With Touch-Screens (2014 Edition) Fri, 24 Oct 2014 13:05:19 +0000 Brad Friedman Diebold/Premier Election Irregularities Election Reform Sequoia Voting Systems Texas Illinois Election Fraud Paper Ballots Legislation Touch-Screen Vote Flipping Dominion Voting Election 2014 And so begins our traditional, biennial (if not more frequent) coverage of partisans understandably freaking out when their 100% unverifiable touch-screen votes are seen flipping on screen from a candidate or candidates of their preferred party to a candidate or candidates from a different party.

Historically, over the past decade since we've been covering it (and related issues), this issue has occurred far more often for Democratic voters seeing their votes flip to Republicans. Nonetheless, the opposite phenomenon (as well the scenario involving third party or independent candidates) is not entirely uncommon. And, in all cases, voters should be concerned, election officials should be embarrassed and elected officials who continue to allow the use of these unverifiable secret vote-counting systems --- antithetical to American democracy and public elections as they are --- should beg forgiveness from their constituents, rather than begging for more money and more unverifiable votes.

As Early Voting is now under way in much of the country, we are, predictably, beginning to receive our first reports from voters seeing their votes flipped before their eyes on touch-screen voting systems. One such case involves a tip we received about straight-party Democratic votes reportedly flipping to Republican straight-party votes in Collin County, TX. Another case, reported widely on Thursday in the rightwing media, concerns a similar incident in Cook County, IL, where a GOP candidate says that his attempted Republican votes flipped before his very eyes to Democratic ones on that county's unverifiable touch-screen voting systems.

There is good and bad news here. And there are a number of myths and truths about these systems and these sorts of incidents which we've documented almost non-stop over the past ten years at The BRAD BLOG. So let's review a few key points about what actually occurred and didn't, what you should be concerned about in both the TX and IL cases and what you should do if it happens to you, as these occurrences are almost certainly going to continue between now and Election Day on November 4th...

Diebold touch-screen failure in Collin County, TX

We received a tip from a reader who reports that a woman she knows in Collin County, Texas "tried to vote a straight Dem ticket and the machine flipped her votes to all-Republican straight ticket. When she complained, they unplugged the machine, put her on a second one, and THE SAME THING HAPPENED."

The reader reports that the voter, who voted on Tuesday this week after the start of early voting in Texas on Monday, finally "manually voted for each race," rather than using the straight ticket option available to voters in the Lone Star State. We've asked for a number of additional details, but have only received a few of them, so we won't go into great detail on those yet.

In any event, we checked in with Sharon Rowe, the Election Administrator in Collin County, a well-populated, middle-class area of Texas just outside of Dallas, encompassing the cities of Plano and McKinney, the county seat.

Rowe says she received a similar report. She said that it came from someone claiming to be a friend of the voter, as did our tip, but that she asked for more details and for the actual voter to file an official report. (Reporting such incidents to county election headquarters and the Sec. of State --- as well as independent election integrity organizations and media --- is very important and helpful in all such cases.) Rowe said she hadn't yet received the additional information either, and we don't yet know if there are two different incidents or the same one being reported to both her and us.

Nonetheless, Rowe said what while she has yet to receive any other similar reports in Collin County so far this year, incidents like this (or these) have occurred at various times in the past.

We can confirm such similar incidents happening all across the country, in every single election year, as we've reported on many of them over the years. Straight-ticket voting on these systems, in particular, has been a notorious point of failure and vote-flipping over the years in states where the straight-ticket option is made available to voters.

Rowe explained that "if your finger is too close to one box, for one party, if you hit it too high or too low, it may select the other party." The incident, as she came to understand it based on the facts known so far, "tells me her selection was a little too high in the box," since the active part of the screen is "not just the box itself, it's the whole line."

Sadly, that is the best-case explanation for what happened. It's entirely possible, as in the incident in Illinois that we'll get to in a second, that the entire touch-screen was knocked out of calibration during transport. "It's equipment that gets carefully transported," Rowe told The BRAD BLOG, "but it gets transported in trucks" and can get jostled around and knocked out of calibration.

None of that is particular unusual, unfortunately. These systems are garbage, frankly, designed and manufactured incredibly cheaply (see Part 1 of this 2007 report for some jaw-dropping examples) and, in the case of the specific 100% unverifiable e-voting systems used in Collin County, pretty old at this point.

The Collin County seat, McKinney, is immediately next door to Allen, TX, which is where the headquarters for Diebold Election Systems, Inc. was based before the parent company, Diebold, Inc., first split off the division to become its own company called Premier, and then Premier was purchased outright by other e-voting companies. [See photos from our fun/disturbing visit to the Diebold Election Systems headquarters in Allen some years ago!]

The heavily-Republican county still uses those old Diebold touch-screen systems, without the paper-roll add-on system called "Voter-Verifiable Paper Audit Trails" or VVPATs. But it makes no difference. Whether or not touch-screen systems offer VVPATs, it is still 100% impossible to know that any vote ever cast on one of them during an election for any candidate or initiative on the ballot was ever registered accurately as to any voters' intent. That is why we regard such systems --- even with the VVPAT paper tape rolls that are found on some of them in other states --- as 100% unverifiable voting. The public can never know if any vote cast on them was recorded accurately for any voter after the election.

Bottom line: Even when these systems have not malfunctioned or been manipulated, it's impossible for the public to ever know that's the case. That, in itself, threatens the very core of democracy, confidence in public elections.

Still, those types of 100% unverifiable systems are still used in many parts of TX, IL and, similarly shamefully, parts or all of several other states, including VA, NJ, PA, NC, SC, GA, TN and elsewhere.

"We tell people to look at your summary screen" near the end of the voting process, Rowe warns, "to make sure the ballot is the way you want it."

Examining the summary screen is important, of course, as often-inexplicable errors have been discovered on them by voters over the years, including Oprah in 2008! Nonetheless, even if the summary screen displays the selections the voter had hoped to choose, it remains 100% impossible to know that the tabulator will actually register the vote that way.

For voters in counties that allow only touch-screen voting on Election Day or during Early Voting, you are wise to ask for a paper, absentee ballot that you can hand-mark with your own selections. If allowable (check with your County Clerk), deliver the hand-marked paper ballot to your precinct or county headquarters on Election Day itself, to maximize the likelihood of your vote being counted and counted accurately, even though it will most likely be tabulated in secret on a computer tabulator.

If we receive noteworthy updates or verifiable information on the Collin County incident, we'll let you know.

Sequoia touch-screen failure in Cook County, IL

In a report from the rightwing Illinois Review, as echoed by the rightwing Illinois Watchdog, as echoed by the rightwing Fox "News", Jim Moynihan, an Illinois Republican State Representative candidate, reports that he too saw votes flip --- even his own --- from Republican to Democratic on the 100% unverifiable Cook County touch-screen voting systems in Illinois on Monday.

"While early voting at the Schaumburg Public Library today, I tried to cast a vote for myself and instead it cast the vote for my opponent," the Review reports Moynihan saying. "You could imagine my surprise as the same thing happened with a number of races when I tried to vote for a Republican and the machine registered a vote for a Democrat."

The story is very similar to many we've heard, including from voters and candidates alike, such as Carolyn Goodman, the victorious mayoral candidate in Las Vegas in 2011. She too saw her vote for herself flip before her eyes on Nevada's touch-screen systems, made by Sequoia, the same company who makes the systems used by Moynihan in the Cook County incident.

The Watchdog confirmed Moynihan's vote-flipping report with the Cook County Clerk's Deputy Communications Director Jim Scalzitti who said there was "a calibration error of the touch-screen on the machine". It was then taken out of service. Moynihan reportedly cast his vote, without a problem, on a different one.

Those are the same unverifiable touch-screen voting systems, in the same county where President Obama recently cast his Early Vote, just as he did in 2012 when he quipped in response to a reporter's question: "I can't tell you who I voted for". Given the type of system he foolishly chose to vote on, his joke was more true than perhaps even he realized.

Scalzitti, in heavily-Democratic Cook County (Chicago), stressed that Moynihan's errant votes were not actually registered at anytime by the system, but he warned, as did Rowe in Collin County, TX, "that voters are always asked to make sure the votes they cast are correct before they are counted," according to the Watchdog.

We haven't confirmed the IL report ourselves, but as in TX, it's all too familiar to hundreds of similar confirmed reports in years past.

Whether the problem was simply a calibration issue is hard to know for certain. (Here's video of an election official in West Virginia explaining how touch-screens need to be recalibrated from time to time, only to see votes flip again on the same machine even after he's recalibrated it.) Though the "good news" that most voters should take away from these types of reports is that this type of an incident is most likely not part of a scheme to defraud the voter. We'll explain why that is in a moment.

The 100% unverifiable touch-screens used in Cook County are made by Sequoia Voting Systems which, like Diebold, was also sold off to another e-voting company. In fact, both Diebold (once run by a rightwinger who promised to help "Ohio deliver its electoral votes to" George W. Bush in 2004) and Sequoia (spun off from parent company Smartmatic, a Venezuelan firm once tied to Hugo Chavez) have now both been sold off to a Canadian-based firm named Dominion Voting.

Before the sale, Sequoia's then CEO Jack Blaine had lied to Cook County officials about the fact that, as The BRAD BLOG revealed exclusively in 2008, the Venezuelan parent company actually owned the intellectual property rights to those systems. As we revealed after Sequoia was sold to Dominion, the Venezuelan firm still controls those IP rights.

[Update: Touch-screen systems made by yet a different manufacturer, ES&S, the nation's largest e-voting company, now reportedly flipping votes on a abortion amendment to the state constitution in Tennessee.]

Why worry?

In both of these cases, whether they involved possible "voter error", as described in Republican Collin County, TX or a calibration problem, as claimed in Democratic Cook County, IL, it is most likely not the result of nefariousness. Here's why that is. These systems are incredibly easy, particularly for insiders, to hack and/or flip results with very little possibility of detection. California's Top-to-Bottom Review of both of these exact same touch-screen systems some years ago found that each --- along with every other computer voting or paper-ballot computer tabulation system they tested --- could be manipulated down to the tabulator level in a matter of seconds.

But touch-screen vote-flipping is usually not a sign of manipulated elections. Any inside manipulator or outside hacker would be foolish to display a flipped vote on the screen. Instead, they'd simply allow the voter to think they voted one way, but record the vote differently inside the system for a much smaller chance of being detected. Signaling to the voter that you are flipping their vote is as dumb as hacking Pac-Man onto the screen, which, yes, one computer scientist did on a Sequoia touch-screen system back in 2010.

Still, outside hacks that could reveal themselves to actual voters are not that difficult to pull off and very cheap, as we reported in 2011 after scientists from the U.S. Dept. of Energy's Argonne National Laboratory in Illinois discovered. They showed how to remotely take control of a Diebold touch-screen system with, "basically an 8th grade science shop" education and about $26 worth of parts from Radio Shack, as the scientists demonstrated on video at the time. So, it's not impossible. It would just be stupid. Gaming the system from the inside is much safer for someone trying to hijack an election.

(We are attempting to not barrage you with dozens of more links to articles here detailing these systems being hacked, being vulnerable to manipulation, failing in election after election and all manner other problems which you can find on the pages of The BRAD BLOG if you're interested in searching through the archives. Don't even ask us about that little yellow button on the back of the Sequoia touch-screens! You're welcome.)

In any event, partisans are once again screaming: "THE REPUBLICANS/DEMOCRATS ARE STEALING THIS ELECTION!" (Even where it may not be true, they have every right to shout that, given the continuing use of these types of systems. See more details as to why in our own detailing of similar concerns in the Harry Reid/Sharron Angel U.S. Senate race back in 2012). Nonetheless, touch-screen vote-flipping is usually not evidence of such a theft.

It is, however, more evidence, and a stark reminder, that votes tabulated in secret --- whether cast on touch-screens or on hand-marked paper ballots tabulated by secret vote-counting computers --- are antithetical to what used to be the American ideal of publicly-owned and publicly-tabulated elections. We have now privatized and outsourced our system of democracy to proprietary equipment made private corporations which tally almost all of our votes in complete secret.

While hand-marked paper ballots, publicly hand-counted at the precinct in front of all parties and video cameras, with results posted at the precinct before ballots are moved anywhere, remains "Democracy's Gold Standard" (while also being the most difficult system to game), the vast majority of votes in the U.S.A. are now tallied, either correctly or incorrectly, on computer systems. Without counting hand-marked paper ballots by hand, there is no way to know whether the tabulators tallied them correctly.

On the other hand, there is never any way to know that any touch-screen votes --- like the ones cast in Collin County, TX and Cook County, IL --- were tallied as the voters intended, no matter what is shown to them on the summary screen or even the VVPAT, if there is one.

The plague of the spread of touch-screen e-voting systems had largely been stopped in the U.S. some years ago after mountains of these types of reports, complete failures during election after election (failure to start up at all, thousands of unexplained "lost" votes, etc.), and both public and private industry studies by computer scientists and security experts confirming them all to be exceedingly vulnerable to both failure and fraud, to manipulation and malfunction.

Unfortunately, voters are still required to vote on many of these same failed systems on Election Day and during Early Voting around the country. (Making matters worse --- and reversing the otherwise slow demise of the touch-screen voting system in the U.S. --- is Los Angeles County, the largest voting jurisdiction in the nation, which is now working on developing an all-new type of touch-screen voting system which, as we've exhaustively explained, will be equally unverifiable after an election.)

What can we do?

For those concerned about the integrity of elections run on touch-screens, or even paper-ballot systems tallied by computers, public oversight remains your only hope, as difficult as that can be with these type of systems. On Election Night, take photographs of the results paper tapes that are printed out from them before their memory cards are transported to election headquarters. Final results have a way of "changing" between the precinct and county headquarters, and photos of the paper tapes can become useful later.

Watching and documenting tabulation after the election, even on paper ballot systems, is important as well, even if its nearly impossible to detect the most direct type of results manipulation on a computer tabulator.

If you must vote on a touch-screen system and you see your vote flipping on the screen, here's the advice we offered when the first touch-screenvote flips began to appear in 2012 --- in that case, Barack Obama votes were seen flipping to Mitt Romney --- in PA:

  • Try to capture it with your cell phone camera.
  • Call poll supervisors to observe the problem.
  • Fill out a problem report.
  • Refuse to vote on that machine.
  • Request that the machine be taken out of service.
  • Get the serial number of the machine if possible (may be difficult in some cases).
  • Tell other voters in line which machine it was and that they should NOT vote on that machine!
  • Report it to county/town election office.
  • Report it to the Secretary of State.
  • Call local reporters and tell them the story.
  • Call 866-OUR-VOTE and tell them.
  • Contact bloggers and Election Integrity websites.
  • Raise holy hell.

And, again, if you have the option in your own jurisdiction, please vote on paper ballots if at all possible. If you don't have that option where you live, request an absentee ballot if possible, and then deliver it on Election Day personally in order to maximize the chances of your vote being counted accurately.

Other than that, good luck again, America! And, next year, please consider our decade-long advice to not wait until the days just before the election to demand a better system for casting and counting votes in what we used to pretend was the greatest democracy on earth.

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Christie Says GOP Governors Need to Win in 2014 So They Can Control 'Voting Mechanisms' in 2016 Thu, 23 Oct 2014 15:05:43 +0000 Brad Friedman Ohio Florida Election Reform New Jersey Election Fraud Rights And Freedoms U.S. Constitution Wisconsin Photo ID Laws Voter Registration Vote Caging Chris Christie Voting Rights Act Scott Walker Rick Scott Charlie Crist Election 2016 Election 2014 On the stump this week for Republican candidates, NJ's Gov. Chris Christie said GOP governors need to win this year, so they can be in control of the "voting mechanisms" during what he believes might be his own run for President in 2016. He cited three races in particular, in three states that would be crucial to him as the GOP nominee, as reported by New Jersey's The Record...

Governor Christie pushed further into the contentious debate over voting rights than ever before, saying Tuesday that Republicans need to win gubernatorial races this year so that they're the ones controlling "voting mechanisms" going into the next presidential election.

Republican governors are facing intense fights in the courts over laws they pushed that require specific identification in order to vote and that reduce early voting opportunities. Critics say those laws sharply curtail the numbers of poor and minority voters, who would likely vote for Democrats. Christie - who vetoed a bill to extend early voting in New Jersey - is campaigning for many of those governors now as he considers a run for president in 2016.

Christie stressed the need to keep Republicans in charge of states - and overseeing state-level voting regulations - ahead of the next presidential election.
"Would you rather have Rick Scott in Florida overseeing the voting mechanism, or Charlie Crist? Would you rather have Scott Walker in Wisconsin overseeing the voting mechanism, or would you rather have Mary Burke? Who would you rather have in Ohio, John Kasich or Ed FitzGerald?" he asked.

Great questions, Governor Christie! Let's take a crack at offering some answers for ya...

"Would you rather have Rick Scott in Florida overseeing the voting mechanism, or Charlie Crist?"

As Governor, Republican Rick Scott shortened the number of early voting days in Florida leading to a refusal to extend hours even after enormous wait times at the polls and 6-hour long lines on Election Day. More than 200,000 voters couldn't vote because of it. He then offered an apology, of sorts, after the election, along with a call to restore the early voting days before his own election this year. He also restricted voter registration, leading to the League of Women Voters' to end their 70 year voting drive in the state, but was later found to be in violation of the federal Voting Rights Act and ordered by a federal court to remove the "onerous" restrictions. He also attempted to remove thousands of "non-citizens" from the voting rolls, even though it turned out there were virtually zero "non-citizens" on the rolls. He then faced an uprising from Republican and Democratic election officials alike when he tried, last year, to put new limits on absentee voting. Nonetheless, Scott has kept up his attempted voter suppression even this year.

Oh, and Rick Scott was also in control of the "voting mechanisms" as Governor of Florida in 2012 when the state Republican Party hired a long-time GOP operative who ran companies with a sordid history of voter registration fraud allegations to run GOP voter registration efforts. That didn't work out well, when hundreds of fraudulent registrations began showing up across the state in the lead-up to the Presidential Election, as collected by the firm's workers and turned in to election officials by the state GOP. A fourth GOP registration worker was arrested in Florida on multiple voter registration felony charges just a few weeks ago as a result of state law-enforcement's two-year criminal investigation into the matter.

Scott's challenger for Florida Governor this year is Charlie Crist, who is now a Democrat, but used to be the Republican Governor of Florida. As Florida Governor, Charlie Crist restored the voting franchise to non-violent felons who had served their time, but then Scott rolled back those reforms, resulting in more than 1.5 million former felons who have been robbed of their right to vote in the Sunshine State. While Governor Crist also got rid of the 100% unverifiable touch-screen voting machines that had plagued the state of Florida for years. After leaving the Republican Party, Crist said it was "crystal clear" that GOP claims that Photo ID voting restrictions are needed to stop "voter fraud" is "bunk".

Advantage: Crist!

"Would you rather have Scott Walker in Wisconsin overseeing the voting mechanism, or would you rather have Mary Burke?"

Moving on to Wisconsin. Republican Governor Scott Walker has spent years championing and lying about the GOP Photo ID voting law in that state, the one which was found in violation of the state constitution by several different state judges, and also in violation of the U.S. Constitution by a federal judge after a full trial on the merits. Despite the attempt to enact the law which would have, among other things, barred the use of Veterans IDs for voting purposes, the U.S. District Court judge who presided over the trial determined that it could disenfranchise as many as 300,000 legally registered voters, despite the fact that "defendants could not point to a single instance of known voter impersonation occurring in Wisconsin at any time in the recent past." The judge added that it was "absolutely clear" that Walker's Photo ID restrictions would "prevent more legitimate votes from being cast than fraudulent votes."

On that basis alone, advantage to Walker's opponent Mary Burke!

"Who would you rather have in Ohio, John Kasich or Ed FitzGerald?"

Finally, when it comes to the "voting mechanisms" in Ohio, the choice seems very clear as well Republican Governor John Kasich signed into law new restrictions on early voting that rolled back very successful reforms instituted after the state's disastrous 2004 election, which featured 6 to 8 hour lines, and the last vote cast in the state around 2am on Wednesday morning. Despite the success of those reforms, Kasich's first attempted roll back of early voting on the Sunday before elections for all but active duty military in 2012 was nixed by the U.S. District Court and upheld by the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals.

After the election, Kasich signed a law which rolled back a full week of early voting, including the one week in which voters could both register and vote at the same time, and further approved the end of some evening and Sunday voting hours, which are regarded as "Souls to the Polls" day for African-American churches who get out the vote on the final Sunday before Election Day. Both a U.S. District Court and the 6th Circuit Court of Appeal once again ordered those restriction on voting restored, but the ruling was later vacated by the U.S. Supreme Court on the basis that it was too soon before voting was to begin to make the changes.

And, again, on that basis, advantage clearly goes to Kasich's Democratic opponent Ed FitzGerald.

But perhaps Christie wasn't posing those question to us, since we actually give a damn about voting rights, no matter whose are being violated by ambitious politicians who prefer to cheat and control the "voting mechanisms" to "win", rather than respect the voting rights of all voters.

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CNN vs. CBC on Today's Shooting in Ottawa Thu, 23 Oct 2014 06:40:11 +0000 Brad Friedman CNN Mainstream Corporate Media Canada CBC The Daily Beasts's Scott Bixby tweeted the following side-by-side screen captures earlier today, with the caption "U.S. cable news vs. Canadian public news"...

Heather "Digby" Parton posted the photo and added adding: "How embarrassing". Indeed.

James West at Mother Jones offers more on this theme, noting "Canada's coverage of the Ottawa shootings put American cable news to shame". Pretty easy though. As West writes, along with examples, "The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation today gave a master class in calm, credible breaking news reporting."

Well, we'd hate to have that.

Ginsburg Errs in TX Photo ID Voting Law Dissent, BRAD BLOG Helps Correct Official SCOTUS Opinion Wed, 22 Oct 2014 21:35:47 +0000 Brad Friedman BRAD BLOG Election Reform Texas Rights And Freedoms U.S. Constitution Wisconsin Military/Overseas Voting Photo ID Laws Republicans U.S. Supreme Court Election 2014 Well, it is still very likely that some 600,000 legally registered voters in Texas will find themselves unable to vote at the polls this year in the Lone Star State, thanks to the U.S. Supreme Court's horrible weekend order leaving the state GOP's Photo ID voting law in place for now, pending the state's appeal to the ruling of a lower court earlier this month which found the law to be intentionally discriminatory and an "unconstitutional poll tax".

But at least the record on that law for now, as described in Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's sharp pre-dawn dissent issued Saturday morning (joined by Justices Sotomayor and Kagan) is now accurately reflected at the U.S. Supreme Court, thanks, in part, to The BRAD BLOG's questions about what appeared to be an error in her opinion.

Ginsburg had originally stated in her otherwise on-point dissent (which the 81-year old Justice literally stayed up all night working on, before releasing it at 5am ET on Saturday morning!) that Texas will not "accept photo ID cards issued by the U. S. Department of Veterans' Affairs" for voting this year.

The "good" news is, that assertion does not appear to be true, and Ginsburg, following a chain of events spurred by our background inquiry, has now corrected the record in her official opinion published by the Court.

Here's what happened...

Even though Texas has required every voter to present ID at the polling place since 2003, state Republicans have been trying for years to make it more difficult (for certain people, such as minorities, students, the poor and elderly) to vote by radically decreasing the type of IDs that are considered acceptable for voting. For example, the previous law allowed birth certificates "or other document(s) confirming birth that is admissible in a court of law and establishes the person's identity" to be used in order to vote. The previous law also allowed, for voting identification purposes, "official mail addressed to the person by name from a governmental entity; a copy of a current utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck, or other government document that shows the name and address of the voter".

The new law, SB 14, does away with all of those, even though the state was only able to cite, out of some 20 million votes cast in Texas over the past ten years since the old law was enacted, a total of two (2) cases of in-person polling place voter impersonation cases (which is the only type of voter fraud this law could possibly deter) during the full trial on the merits of the law earlier this year.

After a year of discovery and a 9-day trial, law was struck down after being found to be unconstitutional and purposefully discriminatory against minority voters who disproportionately lack the very specific and now limited type of Photo ID required to vote at the polling place under the new GOP law. It was also ruled to amount to an unconstitutional poll tax, since even the so-called "free" IDs issued for voting purposes by the state would require the presentation of documents, such as a birth certificate, that cost money to purchase.

Texas appealed the ruling, seeking a stay of the U.S. District Court's injunction before this year's mid-term election. The 5th Circuit Court of Appeal issued that stay. The appellate court did not contest the lower court's findings --- in fact, they conceded that "The individual voter plaintiffs may be harmed by the issuance of this stay" --- but, with early voting set to begin last Monday (October 20), they cited a per se rule by the U.S. Supreme Court barring last minute changes to voting rules.

Plaintiffs then filed an Emergency Application with SCOTUS to vacate the stay, but the Supremes denied the petition without comment. As Ginsburg suggested in her dissent, their reasons were due to their precedent of disallowing last minute changes to voting rules, even though, in this case, failing to change the rules would very likely result in the disenfranchisement of tens of thousands of legally registered voters.

SCOTUS' order on the TX law was issued on Saturday morning, along with Ginsburg's scathing 6-page dissent, which, citing the Court's refusal to allow a very similar GOP voting restriction in Wisconsin just one week earlier, included the following passage:

Texas will not accept several forms of photo ID permitted under the Wisconsin law the Court considered last week. For example, Wisconsin's law permits a photo ID from an in-state four-year college and one from a federally recognized Indian tribe. Texas, under Senate Bill 14, accepts neither. Nor will Texas accept photo ID cards issued by the U. S. Department of Veterans' Affairs.

On Monday, citing Ginsburg's dissent on Twitter, we mentioned that while concealed carry weapons permits are now allowable for voting in Texas, neither state-issued student Photo IDs or U.S. Veterans IDs are acceptable under SB 14.

We were challenged on that latter point by a Twitter supporter of Greg Abbott, who is defending the GOP law as state Attorney General in TX, even while likely benefiting from it in his run for Governor against his Democratic challenger Wendy Davis.

The Twitter user, @Photog_Momma4, cited a document [PDF] posted by the Dallas County Elections Department showing Veterans Affairs ID cards to be one of the Photo IDs now allowed for in-person voting in Texas.

Dallas County also offered another document [PDF] on their website, from the Texas Sec. of State's office, showing VA cards to be acceptable for voting:

The TX legislature's copy of the final version of SB 14 [PDF] didn't necessarily clear things up. It says that "a United States military identification card that contains the person's photograph that has not expired or that expired no earlier than 60 days before the date of presentation" is allowable for voting, though the statute doesn't specifically note that a Veterans Affairs ID qualifies as "military identification card". The law also removed a passage from the previous TX voter ID law that allowed the list of IDs to include "any other form of identification prescribed by the secretary of state".

Making matters murkier still, if VA cards don't include expiration dates on them, as the SoS notes, it might be difficult for poll workers to determine what would qualify them to be "expired" or not.

Furthermore, in the plaintiff's emergency petition to SCOTUS [PDF], they included a declaration from the Dallas County Election Administrator, asserting that it would be easier for poll workers, not harder, to enforce the previous voter ID law for this election.

That declaration included this clear-as-mud assertion (p. 191):

7. Since SB 14 went into effect last year, we have received inconsistent and confusing information about the photo law and its implementation. For example, just last week, a supervisor in our elections office noticed that the Secretary of State's office sent around training materials that incorrectly suggested that certain forms of veterans' identification lacked expiration dates. Because he is a veteran, he knows that these veterans' IDs actually have expiration dates. After he contacted the Secretary of State's office about this, the SOS office promised to look into the matter. However, the training materials sent out statewide by the SOS are erroneous on this point.

As we looked further into this entire fine mess very late on Monday night, we sent an inquiry to Loyola University's Justin Levitt and University of California-Irvine's Rick Hasen, both election law experts, to see if they had any explanation or additional details on the apparent contradiction between Ginsburg's claim that Veterans Affairs IDs were not acceptable for voting under SB 14 in Texas, and the materials from the TX Sec. of State seemingly to the contrary.

Levitt, who has testified as an expert before the U.S. Senate in regard to these types of completely unnecessary and disenfranchising Photo ID laws, told us that, while he wasn't certain, he thought Ginsburg might have been wrong on that one point. He didn't know where her info on it might have been coming from, but thought, perhaps, that she was "referring to some incorrect info apparently circulated at one point by the Secretary of State". (See the paragraph from the Dallas County Election Administrator's declaration above.)

Hasen, whose exhaustively comprehensive Election Law Blog is frequently cited by the mainstream media, replied to the email conversation Tuesday morning to say: "I will post the question on the blog and see if someone has a better answer".

As promised, just minutes later, he posted the issue on his blog --- "A Small Error in Justice Ginsburg Texas Voter ID Dissent?" --- asking "Can anyone from Texas clarify?"

By Tuesday afternoon, Hasen added this update to the item:

Update: The Texas Secretary of State's office has responded via Twitter: "Veterans Affairs ID cards are an acceptable form of photo ID in TX. See slides 20 & 21 here: http://www.sos.state.tx....ptable-forms-of-ID.pdf\"

This seems to confirm Justice Ginsburg made a small error in her decision. I expect to see that sentence deleted or altered.

The PDF file the TX SoS linked to is an updated (4/25/2014) version of the 10/17/2013 PDF by the same name that we found on the Dallas County Election Division website, from which the VA Photo ID graphic posted above was taken.

Whether the Sec. of State is following the letter of the law in their pronouncement is still unclear. Nonetheless, unless challenged, their word is presumably final on this matter.

This morning, Hasen published this breaking item, citing a report from SCOTUSblog noting that Justice Ginsburg had corrected her error and re-issued her dissent:

Yesterday I had a post noting an apparent small error in Justice Ginsburg's dissent in the Texas voter id case. The Justice said a Veterans ID card was not acceptable for voting, but it appears that it is acceptable.

Today the Justice issued a revised dissent. SCOTUSBlog reports:

In ticking off her objections, Ginsburg wrote that Texas would not even accept "photo ID cards issued by the U.S. Department of Veterans' Affairs." On Wednesday, the Justice conceded that that comment was incorrect. That kind of ID card, she said through the Court's public information office, is "an acceptable form of photo identification for voting in Texas." So she simply deleted the sentence, and reissued the opinion. The Court also said that she had made "small stylistic changes" on two pages of her opinion, and that the corrected version could be read on the Court's website.

So, if you're keeping track, Ginsburg's initial, apparently incorrect dissent is here [PDF] and her newly revised dissent, with the error about Veterans IDs corrected, is now here [PDF].

While errors in SCOTUS opinions are not all that unusual, NPR's Nina Totenberg reports tonight that "Justice Ginsburg instructed the press office to announce that the opinion had 'contained an error' and that it was being corrected." That makes her, according to Totenberg, "the first justice to call the public's attention to her own mistake."

On the legal blog Concurring Opinions today, Ronald K.L. Collins notes the revision "after professor flags error", and asks:

How often does it happen that a law professor flags a factual error in a Supreme Court opinion and the Justice thereafter changes that opinion to correct the error? Answer: not that often.

So when it happens, some of us think that credit should be given. Okay?

Okay. Collins doesn't note The BRAD BLOG's role in all of this, which is fine, as he couldn't have known about it. Hasen referred only to us in his original post as "A few people", following the emailed conversation we instigated with Levitt and him.

So, for whatever its worth, there's the full story of how The BRAD BLOG helped, at least in part, to change a U.S. Supreme Court opinion.

In Wisconsin in 2012, after that state's Republicans first instituted their own draconian Photo ID voting law (which was blocked this year by the Supreme Court after a lower court, as in Texas, found it to be unconstitutional after a full trial on the merits), veterans were turned away from the polling place when showing their VA ID in order to vote, despite being legally registered voters. Yes, the Wisconsin GOP Photo ID law does bar the use of Veterans' IDs. Perhaps that's what led to Ginsburg's confusion.

A law this awful and confusing, which blatantly threatens the right to vote to otherwise perfectly legal TX voters, should never have been allowed to take effect. Nonetheless, the clearer we can all be about what this restriction now does and doesn't do, the better for voters this year --- at least until all such laws, as Reagan-appointed conservative Judge Richard Posner suggests, are confirmed by SCOTUS to be unconstitutional next year.

So, while the change in Ginsburg's dissent today doesn't change the actual terrible, discriminatory and unconstitutional new Photo ID voting restrictions in Texas for now, if it means that a few of our veterans --- for example, some of those who defended democracy by defeating the Nazis in WWII, but who no longer have a drivers license because they are too old to drive --- realize that they can vote after all this year in the Lone Star State by presenting their U.S. Veterans' Affairs ID card, it will most certainly have been worth all of the otherwise-uncredited effort.

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'Mercy' and 'Restorative Justice'? Imagine That. Wed, 22 Oct 2014 02:50:22 +0000 Brad Friedman Accountability I haven't been following this case at all, but I happened to be up very late last night when the cable news nets switched LIVE, around 2am out here, to carry the sentencing pronouncement for South Africa's Oscar Pistorius on the charge of "culpable homicide" (akin to manslaughter in the U.S.), for which he's been convicted in the 2013 killing of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.

The presiding judge for South Africa's High Court was Thokozile Masipa, an appointee of Nelson Mandela. She read her complete sentencing ruling aloud from the bench in the courtroom.

I was struck by one section that included several ideas that I don't recall hearing lately, if ever, in any sentencing for a criminal case of this sort in the U.S...

JUDGE THOKOZILE MASIPA: ...For a very good reason, an appropriate sentence should neither be too light, nor too severe. The former might cause the public to lose confidence in the justice system, and people might be tempted to take the law into their own hands.

On the other hand, the latter might break the accused and the result might be just the opposite of what the punishment set out to do, which ultimately is to rehabilitate the accused, and to give him an opportunity, where possible, to become a useful member of society once more.

I have considered all of the evidence placed before me, and all the submissions and arguments by counsel. I have weighed all the relevant factors, the purposes of punishment and all forms of punishment, including restorative justice principles. I have also taken into account the seriousness of the offense which led to the death of the deceased, the personal circumstances of the accused and the interests of society. I have taken the particular circumstances of the accused at the time of the offense into account.

Having regard to the circumstances in the matter, I am of the view that a non-custodial sentence would send a wrong message to the community. On the other hand, a long sentence would not be appropriate either, as it would lack the element of mercy.

A sentence cannot be said to be appropriate without the feelings of mercy for the accused and hope for his reformation... I am mindful of the fact that true mercy has nothing to do with weakness or modeling sympathy for the criminal, but it is an element of justice.
The following is what I consider to be a sentence that is fair and just both to society and to the accused.

Pistorius was ultimately given a maximum 5-year prison sentence for his crime of culpable homicide, a lesser charge than either common murder or murder with direct intent, as defined in South African law. He also received a 3-year suspended sentence for related charges, to be served concurrently. The BBC reports that the double-amputee superstar sprinter could be freed from jail in as few as 10 months, but that Steenkamp's parents were "happy with the sentence and relieved the case was over."

As I said, I haven't been following the case closely, and from what I have heard, I don't find Pistorius' explanation for what happened to be particularly persuasive or even credible. Moreover, I don't know anything at all really about the South African justice system, so I don't have any particularly informed opinion on whether Pistorius' sentence is either fair or unfair, appropriate or inappropriate in this situation. None of that is the point of this post.

I was just simply struck by the concepts of "mercy", "rehabilitation", "reformation" and "restorative justice" being raised at all, as they were by the judge, in a case like this, and her point that punishment for such crimes --- at least in South Africa --- is not mean to "break the accused", but to help to rehabilitate them.

Those concepts of crime and punishment now seem about as foreign, absent and miles away from our modern day system of justice in the United States as...well, South Africa.

In Memoriam: Ben Bradlee Wed, 22 Oct 2014 02:20:14 +0000 Brad Friedman Washington Post In Memoriam Daniel Ellsberg Richard Nixon Media Reform

BEN BRADLEE, 1921 - 2014

'Green News Report' - October 21, 2014 Tue, 21 Oct 2014 22:37:19 +0000 Desi Doyen Alaska Connecticut Environment Democrats Republicans Green News Coal 'Tea Party' Oil Climate change Election 2014 Oceans

IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Republican candidates continue to dodge the climate change question; Mountaintop removal coal mining promotes lung cancer; 'Significant' oil spill in Louisiana bayou; 2014 on track to be hottest year on record; PLUS: LEGO breaks up with Shell Oil... All that and more in today's Green News Report!

Listen online here, or Download MP3 (6 mins)...


CORRECTION: Today's episode of the GNR incorrectly identifies Rep. John Yarmuth (D) as a U.S. Congressman from West Virginia. In fact, he represents Kentucky. We apologize for the error!

Got comments, tips, love letters, hate mail? Drop us a line at or right here at the comments link below. All GNRs are always archived at

IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Republicans: "I am not a scientist" on climate change, but let me advise you on Ebola; Rooftop solar: utilities must adapt or die; Extinction watch: only 6 white rhinos left; Zombie glacier surprises glaciologists; Oceans to lose $1 trillion in value due to acidification; New Method factory will be world's largest rooftop farm... PLUS: A Man For All Seasons: Remembering Rick Piltz, Climate Science Whistleblower... and much, MUCH more! ...


'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (Stuff we didn't have time for in today's audio report)...

  • A Man For All Seasons: Remembering Rick Piltz, Climate Science Whistleblower (Climate Progress) [emphasis added]:
    Rick Piltz, a true climate hero, passed away Saturday. Readers knew him best as the founder and Director of the website Climate Science Watch, which we regularly cited and reposted. But Rick was sui generis, a man of principle, a genuine whistle blower.
  • Climate Change vs. Ebola: GOP Says We're Not Scientists Except When We Are (Rude Pundit) [emphasis added]:
    Republicans are glad to tell you that either the evidence is inconclusive or that they are too dumb to understand the science when it comes to climate change, so they think it's wrong to act like it's a crisis and refuse to do anything to slow or halt it. However, they will go bugnuts crazy and try to cause panic when it comes to the science around the spread of Ebola, even when they have it wrong.
  • Rooftop solar is just the beginning; utilities must innovate or go extinct (Grist):
    Sooner or later, there must be a wholesale rethinking of the utility business model. And if utilities are smart, they’ll do it sooner.
  • Death Of Northern White Rhino Leaves Only Six Left In Existence (Climate Progress):
    No northern white rhinos are known to have survived in the wild, and Suni was one of the last two breeding males in the world leaving the future of his species in serious doubt. "The species now stands at the brink of complete extinction, a sorry testament to the greed of the human race," said the conservancy in a statement.
  • Zombie Glacier Surprises Scientists (Climate Central):
    The discovery of a ghoulishly semi-lifeless glacier in southeastern Iceland doesn't just create a new zombie class of frozen rivers of water. It raises questions about the accuracy of conventional approaches to measuring the growth and retreat of similar glaciers.
  • Oceans Could Lose $1 Trillion in Value Due to Acidification (Scientific American):
    A very young field of research is trying to measure the costs of oceans growing more acidic.
  • Lab technician confesses to faking water samples at request of coal companies (Charleston Gazette):
    Employees of a Raleigh County laboratory falsified water quality samples under pressure from their coal company clients, a laboratory technician and supervisor who pleaded guilty to conspiracy to violate the Clean Water Act told a federal judge earlier this month.
  • Method’s New Factory to Host World’s Largest Rooftop Farm (Triple Pundit)
  • Environmental Issues Become a Force in Political Advertising (NY Times):
    Ads mentioning energy, climate change and the environment - over 125,000 spots and climbing on the Senate side - have surged to record levels during the 2014 midterm election cycle.
  • Amid California's drought, a bruising battle for cheap water (LA Times):
    In truth, neither is to blame for Westlands' woes so much as the simple fact that the nation's largest irrigation district is in the wrong place.
  • Lifecycle Study Shows Renewable Electricity Is Greener Than All Other Sources: (Climate Central):
    [R]esearchers conducted the first-ever lifecycle analysis of a wide-scale global rollout of new wind, hydro and solar power plants, asking whether shifting from coal and natural gas power generation to renewables would increase or decrease certain types of pollution.
    [O]ver time, the environmental impact of extracting those raw materials declines, pollution decreases and the total quantity of those materials likely needed for renewables is a fraction of the volume of those materials being mined today, the study says.
  • Study: Natural gas surge won't slow global warming (AP) [emphasis added]:
    [T]he new international study says an expansion of natural gas use by 2050 would also keep other energy-producing technologies like wind, solar and nuclear, from being used more. And those technologies are even better than natural gas for avoiding global warming.
  • Defense Sec. Hagel: Climate change will challenge US military (AP) [emphasis added]:
    "Climate change is a 'threat multiplier' because it has the potential to exacerbate many of the challenges we already confront today - from infectious disease to armed insurgencies - and to produce new challenges in the future," Hagel said.
  • 4 Scenarios Show What Climate Change Will Do To The Earth, From Pretty Bad To Disaster (Fast CoExist):
    But exactly how bad is still an open question, and a lot depends not only on how we react, but how quickly. The rate at which humans cut down on greenhouse gas emissions--if we do choose to cut them--will have a large bearing on how the world turns out by 2100, the forecasts reveal.

FOR MORE on Climate Science and Climate Change, go to our Green News Report: Essential Background Page

  • Skeptical Science: Database with FULL DEBUNKING of ALL Climate Science Denier Myths
  • How to Solve Global Warming: It's the Energy Supply (Scientific American):
    Restraining global warming to no more than 2 degrees Celsius will require changing how the world produces and uses energy to power its cities and factories, heats and cools buildings, as well as moves people and goods in airplanes, trains, cars, ships and trucks, according to the IPCC. Changes are required not just in technology, but also in people's behavior.
  • Warning: Even in the best-case scenario, climate change will kick our asses (Grist)
  • NASA Video: Warming over the last 130 years, and into the next 100 years:

  • ]]>
    On the Upside in Texas... Tue, 21 Oct 2014 00:11:48 +0000 Brad Friedman Election Reform Texas Election Fraud Rights And Freedoms Photo ID Laws Republicans U.S. Supreme Court Election 2014 ...They can probably save money on signage by just changing the dates on some of the old signs...

    I had tweeted over the weekend...

    To which @TexasTruthSerum replied with the photo above and the comment...

    Yes. They are going backwards in Texas. For now.

    After a year of legal discovery and a full nine-day trial, the U.S. District Court in Texas found the state's Republican Photo ID voting restriction to be both purposefully discriminatory and an "unconstitutional poll tax" likely to prevent some 600,000 legally registered voters from voting this year. The court also documented the state's decades-long history of purposely attempting to keep certain people away from the polling place with similar disenfranchisement schemes.

    Neither the appellate court nor the U.S. Supreme Court disagreed with the District Court. But, rather than simply continuing to enforce the state's previous ID law, as ordered by the District Court --- a law in effect since 2003, which already required that every voter present one of many different types of ID at the polling place when voting, and despite just two convictions for polling place voter impersonation out of more than 20 million votes cast in Texas over the past decade --- the U.S. Supreme Court is now allowing the purposefully discriminatory new law to be used during this year's midterm elections anyway.

    Early voting began today (Monday, Oct. 20th) in the Lone Star State. Good luck, Texas. Sorry we failed to protect all of your (previously) legal voters from purposeful discrimination by desperate Republican officials, including state Attorney General Greg Abbott who defended the law in court (and lied about it), even as he campaigned to benefit from it this year while campaigning to be the next Governor of Texas.

    * * *
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    Congresswoman Declares Impeachment Deadline for Wife-Beating Federal Judge; Court Unseals Divorce Docs From Fuller's Previous Marriage Mon, 20 Oct 2014 21:19:31 +0000 Brad Friedman Alabama Impeachment Accountability U.S. House Mark Fuller Terri Sewell It's been a very busy few weeks here of late, just trying to keep up with all of the roller coaster court rulings (here's the latest, and its not good), thanks to GOP voter suppression laws around the country. (Your donations to our efforts in that regard help a great deal --- thank you and please!)

    So, with a very few minutes pause in the voter suppression action on Friday morning, we were finally able to catch you all up with the latest in the Judge Mark Fuller wife-beating case on Friday.

    Naturally, no sooner did we do so, when a few more noteworthy events happened in the case...

    1) Alabama's Democratic U.S. Congresswoman Rep. Terri Sewell says that if Fuller doesn't resign by Nov. 12, she will introduce impeachment proceedings against the Judge (who otherwise enjoys a lifetime appointment to the federal bench) in the U.S. House of Representatives.

    "Judge Fuller's high-profile position does not shield his victim from the emotional and physical violence he inflicts upon her and any legal immunity he is granted is a violation of justice," Sewell wrote in an op-ed for Montgomery Advertisers. "There is no treatment or counseling program that can resurrect what Judge Fuller has compromised as one who sits in the judgment of others."

    "I cannot battle violence against women while turning a blind eye to Judge Fuller. Should he not resign prior to Congress' return to Washington on November 12, I will institute impeachment proceedings," Sewell vowed. "This process will be long, and it will be daunting. Even more daunting, however, is the crisis of domestic violence."

    Alabama, where U.S. District Court Judge Mark Fuller dispenses his form of "justice", has "ranked among the five states for most women killed by their male partners" in three of the past five years, the Congresswoman noted.

    2) Alabama Media Group ( was successful in their motion to have Fuller's 2012 divorce documents unsealed after they'd been mysteriously removed from public inspection two years ago, despite the "strenuous" objections of his first wife, Lisa Boyd Fuller. Before being unsealed, the documents that had been obtained and published by independent media outlets in 2012, suggested Fuller was not a "first time offender", as his deal to avoid prosecution entirely after his August arrest on charges of beating second wife Kelli Fuller would suggest. The divorce papers included allegations by his first wife that Judge Fuller also "hit, kicked, struck, or otherwise physically abused" both her and their children; drove under the influence of alcohol with their kids in the car; was addicted to prescription medication and had an "extramarital affair" and "sexual intercourse" with his court bailiff Kelli Gregg who ultimately became the Judge's second wife/victim Kelli Fuller.

    Those allegations were contained in a damning Request for Admissions document filed by Lisa Fuller, requiring the Judge respond as whether he admitted or denied each one.

    Now that the full documents have been unsealed, according to the Montgomery Advertiser this morning, they do not appear to contain Fuller's responses to those charges. Rather, the couple ended up settling their divorce shortly after the order was originally issued to seal the documents. Details of that settlement remain under seal, and, perhaps due to a confidentiality agreement between the parties, neither Lisa nor her attorneys have spoken up since Fuller's arrest on hauntingly similar allegations by his second wife Kelli in August.

    The Dothan Eagle reports that Fuller "quickly asked a court to restrict public access to the documents after his then-wife asked a series of potentially embarrassing questions." They report that "An attorney for U.S. District Judge Mark Fuller filed a motion in 2012 asking a Montgomery County court to seal the record minutes after a lawyer for then-wife Lisa Fuller submitted a document asking about possible marital misconduct, records show."

    "Lisa Fuller's lawyer submitted the questions on April 20, 2012, and Mark Fuller's attorney asked a court to seal the case less than 90 minutes later," the paper says.

    Today, Fuller's Birmingham attorney, Barry Ragsdale, once again downplayed the first wife's allegations of abuse against her and her children in the court documents, describing them as mere "rhetorical questions". He maintained his claim that "The complaint contains no allegations of prior domestic violence." Once again, here is the document in question. Decide for yourself whether they contain allegations of "prior domestic violence" or not.

    The Advertiser also reports, in response to Lisa Fuller's allegation of prescription drug abuse by her then-Husband, that, "Following the sealing of the case, subpoenas to six different pharmacies were sent out, seeking information on Fuller's prescription drug use. The results of those subpoenas were not clear from documents available in the file."

    As we detailed on Friday, Fuller's Birmingham attorney Ragsdale calls questions about what happened during Judge Fuller's first marriage little more than "nonsense" and "gossip". Of course, he also claims that there "was not a beating, kicking or slapping" in the incident for which Fuller was arrested in August at the Ritz-Carlton in Atlanta after a chilling 911 call by his second wife Kelli.

    Here, once again, is the audio from that 911 call in video format, so it's easy for sharing. You can decide if there is anything to worry about in the incident or if, as Fuller's attorney says about the allegations of similar abuse during his first marriage, this is all just "nonsense", "gossip" and nothing more than "rhetorical questions" from one of the federal Judge's first alleged domestic violence victims...

    More "nonsense" and "gossip" from our previously detailed documentation of the Judge Mark Fuller wife-beating incident, arrest, and "get out of jail free" card for the "first time offender", follows below...

    * * *

    Recently related previous stories at The BRAD BLOG:

    8/11/2014: "Federal Judge in Don Siegelman Case Arrested, Charged with Abusing Wife in Atlanta Hotel"
    8/25/2014: "Federal Judge Who Was Arrested for Beating His Wife (and Who Sentenced Don Siegelman) Is Now Hoping to Avoid Prosecution Altogether"
    9/5/2014: "BREAKING: Federal Judge Who Presided Over Siegelman Case and Who Recently Beat His Own Wife Bloody Strikes Deal to Avoid Prosecution"
    9/10/2014: "NFL's Ray Rice Loses Job for Knocking Out Wife, Federal Judge Mark Fuller Keeps Lifetime Appointment After Beating Wife Bloody"
    9/15/2014: "Republican Senior Federal Judge, Domestic Abuse Experts Call for Accountability for Wife-Beating U.S. District Court Judge Mark Fuller"
    9/15/2014: "Wife-Beating Federal Judge Mark Fuller Finally Mentioned on MSNBC [VIDEO]"
    9/17/2014:"Chris Hayes Plays Horrifying 911 Call From Federal Judge Mark Fuller's Wife; Sounds of Her Apparently Being Struck Can Be Clearly Heard"
    9/19/2014:"'A Matter of Time': U.S. Senators, Representatives Finally Call for Some Accountability for Wife-Beating Federal Judge Mark Fuller"
    9/23/2014:"Washington Post Finally Calls for Investigation, Impeachment of Wife-Beating Federal Judge"
    &bull: 10/17/2014:"Attorney For Judge Mark Fuller Says Wife Beating Incident No Big Deal; Chilling 911 AUDIO and Former AL Gov. Siegelman Suggest Otherwise"