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The Secret Koch Brothers Tapes...

By John Gideon on 12/26/2005 4:41pm PT  

Guest Blogged by John Gideon of VotersUnite.org

The news today is sparse, to say the least, with news mainly from Connecticut and Pennsylvania, two states that are still trying to figure out what the future of their voting will look like....

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




2100+ American Troops Dead! 15,000+ Wounded! 30,000+ Iraqis Dead! 300 Billion American Tax-Payer Dollars Spent! Country Inches Ever Closer to Civil War!
Go Team America!
By Brad Friedman on 12/26/2005 2:12pm PT  

Regular BRAD BLOG comment trolls (well, one at least, with little better to do, apparently, then jerk-off to hot Fox News Alerts) have criticized us for lack of coverage of the recent so-called "Historic" Iraqi elections. (Even, we should note, while they don't seem to give a damn about our own American electoral system in desperate tatters.)

We apologize for the oversight.

So congratulations to the Iraqi Shiite Mullahs who have gained control of the country's parliament with the singular help of $300 billion in tax payer dollars ("That's your money, you should get to keep it." - GWB) and at the expense of more than 2100+ American lives!

Yeah, Team America! Spreading Freedom and Democracy around the globe!

The BRAD BLOG congratulates George W. Bush for his unwaivering optimism and steely resolve in "staying the course" in light of all those freedom-hating Liberal nay-sayers who didn't believe that another Iran in the Middle East was such a great idea. You sure showed them!

But the biggest congratulations of all, are reserved for Iraq's new leader! The peace, freedom and democracy-loving Muqtada al-Sadr!

CONGRATULATIONS! Way to go, Muqtada!

Or, to quote from the 'Iraq Rising' blog (oft-linked by Neo-Con wingnut blogs, btw) as run by a "Pro-Liberation" Iraqi, here's what he posted a few days ago:

Congratulations America,

welcome to the Islamic devided wartorn republic of Shit hole Iraq.. Watch your Petrol Gas pomp prices go up.. A bunch off idiots, the whole lot of ya....

Iraq Rising.. More like Iraq dying..

Blogg closed.

Of course, if you've been paying attention to the under-reported rumblings out of Iraq, you know that the pro-Western(ish) factions (well, the factions that the American government supports anyway, like the one-time CIA asset, one-time prime minister, Ayad Allawi) performed miserably in the election. And they, like the Sunni's who also didn't care for the results, are now rumbling about armed rebellion against the newly elected theocratic majority in parliament as the country inches ever closer towards finally setting a very hot match to the powder keg of full-blown civil war that continues to loom.

All of that, while Christians in the country are reportedly fleeing to Syria and elsewhere. Ironic, as Juan Cole points out, as "the secular Arab nationalist regimes like the Syrian Baath have typically been favorable to local Christians, since they downplay religious identity." (But we'll get them next!) It was not an especially very merry for the Christians who still remained in Iraq this year.

Even the wingnut Pajamas Media is having a tough time finding anybody amongst their bevvy of Pro-War bloggers who are happy about the results. (UPDATE: For more on the Rightwing Welfare to Pajamas Media bloggers, see Jane's thoughts today, btw.)

But, hey, who can forget those purple fingers, huh?! What a triumph!!!

So much for "Peace on Earth"...Oh, well, we tried. It was Christmas. So we tried.




A Look Back at the Most Notable Stories from the Week That Was In Our Continually Crumbling Democracy...
By John Gideon on 12/25/2005 5:25pm PT  

Guest Blogged by John Gideon, of VotersUnite and VoteTrustUSA

As an introduction, the "DVN Top 5" is a feature in the weekly voting newsletter of VoteTrustUSA. The December 19 edition can be found here. The selection of what will be the "Top 5" for each week and where it goes on the list is all mine. The fact that you may disagree with my choices is great because it shows that you have been reading the DVN articles that I've posted throughout the week here on The BRAD BLOG!...

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




By Brad Friedman on 12/25/2005 12:07pm PT  




By John Gideon on 12/24/2005 5:10pm PT  

Guest Blogged by John Gideon of VotersUnite.org

There is not much in the way of new news today. I guess this is to be expected. Have a great Christmas. ...

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




Yellow Dog Blog Calls it Hands Down for Ritter...
By Brad Friedman on 12/24/2005 12:26pm PT  

"I am as opposed to this war as strongly as one can possibly be against this war," said Ritter firmly. "I cannot come up with one justification worthy of a single American life for why we're in Iraq. And we cannot solve Iraq until we get some answers about the war's foundation. And, I'll tell you right now, it's the most corrupt foundation imaginable."
...
Ritter ended the debate with passion that brought the most enthusiastic reaction from the crowd.

"This is a war that's not worth the life of one American because it's a war based on a lie. And no amount of revisionism will make those lies true," he said. "And if you support this ridiculous notion that the ends justifies the means, then come up here, throw your passport on the stage and get the hell out of my country because that's un-American."

From Bob Geiger's excellent coverage of the recent debate between Scott Ritter and Christopher Hitchens. By Geiger's account at least, it sounds like Ritter cleaned Hitchens' clock. (A clock, we might add, which could well use some cleaning...even if a filthy, dirty, broken one still manages to be right twice a day.)




By John Gideon on 12/23/2005 8:53pm PT  

Guest Blogged by John Gideon of VotersUnite.org

I want to take this opportunity to wish all of the readers of "Daily Voting News" a wonderful holiday season. As long as there is voting news over this weekend DVN will continue to publish it. It is with a mixture of sadness and immense pride in my associate of over two years that I post this announcement regarding VotersUnite: "December 23, 2005. After two years of providing the public with accurate information about voting systems and related issues, Ellen Theisen is now working toward election transparency in a different way - by offering the Vote-PAD as an accessible alternative to computerized voting devices. To avoid any potential conflict of interest, Ellen is terminating her association with VotersUnite.Org, effective immediately." In today's news the AP has announced that the SoS of CA has warned ES&S about problems with their voting machines and has threatened that proceedings to decertify will begin if the problems are not solved....

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




Letter from SoS to Voting Machine Co. Warns of Numerous Problems Discovered on Touch-Screen, Optical Scan Machines!
State Senator Outraged, Comments to BRAD BLOG, Calls for Full Release of Information by State!...And Releases Statement on Related Matters...
By Brad Friedman on 12/23/2005 5:05pm PT  

Holy cow...perhaps this explains why California Sec. of State Bruce McPherson suddenly started turning inexplicably back to Diebold some time around mid-November of this year after having decertified them already back in 2004, and then finding them to have failed massively in a recent mock election test over the summer.

"Information about problems with voting machines should not have been delayed long enough to become a lump of coal in California's Christmas stocking," half-joked State Senator Debra Bowen to The BRAD BLOG upon reading the following astounding new story.

AP's Juliet Williams reports today on a letter written by McPherson's office to voting machine vendor, Election Systems & Software, Inc. (ES&S) after the recent Special Election here on Nov. 8th. The letter documents a number of very serious problems discovered on ES&S voting equipment during the election. Apparently the SoS threatened ES&S with decertification in the bargain, similar to the one Diebold faced in the state back in 2004 under the previous Sec. of State Kevin Shelley...

SACRAMENTO - California election officials have told one of the country's largest manufacturers of voting machines to repair its software after problems with vote counts and verification surfaced during California's November special election.

In a letter obtained by The Associated Press, Assistant Secretary of State for Elections Bradley J. Clark threatened to start the process of decertifying Election Systems and Software machines for use in California if senior officials didn't address the concerns immediately.

"The California Secretary of State is deeply concerned about problems experienced by counties utilizing ES&S voting equipment and software," Clark wrote in a letter addressed to company president Aldo Tesi nine days after the Nov. 8 election.

Software problems included incorrect counting of turnout figures, a malfunction that prevented voters from verifying that their choices were registered accurately and one machine recording the wrong vote during a test, according to the letter.

Eleven California counties used the company's voting machines during the special election. Election Systems and Software equipment also is used in 45 other states.

The problems in California are similar to ones the company has experienced elsewhere. During a 2004 primary election in Hawaii, glitches with the company's optical scanners led to a miscount of about 6,000 votes.
...
A spokeswoman for Secretary of State Bruce McPherson declined to elaborate further on the Election Day mishaps, the problems discussed in the letter or the company's assertion that state officials are pleased with its proposed solutions.

In other words, it's none of the voters damned business what problems occurred in their own elections just five weeks ago! And had Williams not discovered the letter, none of the citizens in California, or for that matter States and Counties around the country --- all of whom are making their last minute decisions on which vendors to sign with prior to the Jan 1, 2006 HAVA deadline --- would have ever known about any of these problems with ES&S machinery!

CA State Senator Debra Bowen, who has been a leader in the state on issues of election integrity, was clearly irked upon reading this news, as reflected in this comment she just shared with The BRAD BLOG, asking [emphasis hers]: "WHY IS IT THAT WE HAVE BEEN IN THE DARK ABOUT THE PROBLEMS WITH ES&S FOR FIVE WEEKS?"

She went on to call on the SoS to release all pertinent information on these matters in her missive:

When is the public entitled to know? This kind of secrecy is completely unacceptable.

I call on the Secretary of State to immediately release all correspondence to all vendors, and all documentation related to the certification of any and all voting equipment and voting systems. Information about problems with voting machines should not have been delayed long enough to become a lump of coal in California's Christmas stocking.

As well, she promised to reiterate those concerns with a "formal request" in her official capacity soon.

Yet, there's still more that SoS's office doesn't feel, apparently, that voter's have the right to know. Back to the AP coverage:

Clark's letter said that on Nov. 8 a state monitoring team "experienced an alarming error on the iVotronic system in Merced County, where a voter chose one candidate but the vote was recorded for another candidate. This error is documented on videotape and demonstrates that it was not an operator error, but was, rather, an error in the system."
...
Fields said company officials have reviewed the state's videotape and blamed the problem on the tester's long fingernails.
...
"The iVotronic touch screens are designed to be used by soft-touched objects," he said. "We do not recommend sharp, hard objects like a stylus, a pen or fingernails."

Lovely. A device created to be used by touching the screen with ones finger, won't work if fingernails are used. Good thinking!

In all honesty, however, the entire "fingernail" defense from ES&S sounds like a bunch of nonsense to us. Once again, we've got a documented and video-taped report of "Vote Hopping", not unlike the thousands of similar reports that American's testified to back in November of 2004 after the Presidential Election --- only to be dismissed and called "conspiracy theorists" later when they testified to the incidents, and signed official affidavits along with it.

And just a bit more from the article:

According to the secretary of state's letter, other problems discovered in California Nov. 8 include:

_ The company's software incorrectly counting the total turnout figures for counties that used multiple ballot cards: "This problem was a recurrence of a problem experienced by your customers in November 2004; you have had a year to correct this known problem, and have not done so," the letter stated.
...
_ The touch-screen machine used in Merced County did not properly display the summary of votes, "making it impossible for voters to confirm their vote choices in those contests," the letter stated.

We had more on the troubles with the ES&S company --- just in case they were under the impression that Diebold deserved all the BRAD BLOG "love" --- in this previous item.

Between ES&S and Diebold, the two companies currently tally more than 80% of America's votes. They have each been run by two brothers named Urosevich. And while Diebold, Inc. in total, is a larger company than ES&S, the latter is actually a larger provider of Voting Systems and Machinery around the country.

AP's Williams deserves big props her reporting here! So...thank you to her! Please put us out of "business" entirely! And soon if you don't mind!

On further related matters from Sen. Bowen, who is running for Sec. of State in 2006 herself, she's been a rather busy bee of late, even if everyone else in Sacramento has already knocked off for the holidays.

A "Letter to the Editor" of hers was published in today's Tallahassee Democrat down in Florida, lauding Leon County's Ion Sancho for his leadership on the recent Diebold "Hack Test" which revealed that an Electronic Election could be entirely flipped by a hacker without as much as a trace being left behind.

As well, she issued a press release late yesterday spelling out how California's law requiring Voting Machine Companies to place their source code in escrow is virtually identical to the law in North Carolina which Diebold yesterday said they could not abide by and thus stated their intention to withdraw from the state completely. If that was the case in NC, suggests Bowen, then apparently Diebold needs to withdraw from CA as well.

She also states her serious concerns about the so-called "Independent Testing Authority" (not so "independent", they're chosen and paid for by the Voting Machine Vendors, and not so "authoritative" since they seem to rubber-stamp just about anything the companies send to them!) The ITA's are supposed to certify all of this software and hardware on the Federal level. Recently, as Bowen points out, Sec. of State McPherson opted to "punt" the matter of Diebold's hackable memory cards back to the ITA rather than doing what Sancho did; Simply decertify them and their crappy machines once and for all from all further elections!

As her press release on the ITA matters has not yet been published anywhere as far as we know, we offer her our Christmas gift by doing so here, in full, below...Happy Holidays, Senator...We look forward to coming to Sacramento in '07 for your Inaugural as the next California SoS...

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




By Brad Friedman on 12/22/2005 9:35pm PT  

The widely-read inside-the-beltway "Hotline" from National Journal notices our series of reports, of late, and seems to recognize (finally) that there may be something rotten in the State of Diebold.

They "assign" further coverage on these matters to Tom Edsall (WaPo), Scott Shane (NY Times), Sharon Theimer (AP), Mark Memmott (USA Today), and Bloomberg News. We'll see who takes them up on it.

Any of the above may feel free to contact me if they'd like to know where a few of the bodies are buried. I'm happy to help. And, otherwise, here's a friendly starter page to help fill you in on on what you missed "while you were out."




By John Gideon on 12/22/2005 8:08pm PT  

Guest Blogged by John Gideon of VotersUnite.org

One day after winning a court decision in North Carolina that seemed to open the door wide for Diebold to ply their wares in the state; they decided to pull out. Their concern is that they could be charged with a felony if officials determine the company failed to send a copy of all the software its machines use to a special holding company assigned by the state. They say they don't have permission to provide code that is owned by third parties such as Microsoft Corp. This leaves ES&S as the only approved vendor in the state. There is concern from St. Louis Co., MO that ES&S may be over-pricing their AutoMARK machines in an attempt to force some counties into purchasing their DREs....

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




Sends Letter to State Announcing Intention to Withdraw in Light of State Law Requirement for Submission of Source Code!
Said to be happy to help state change their law, however!
By Brad Friedman on 12/22/2005 3:51pm PT  

For those who have followed the recent yet storied history of Diebold in North Carolina, The BRAD BLOG has just received word that there has been yet one more late-breaking twist! We can now confirm that, in fact, Diebold is removing their company from contention for the lucrative election systems contracts in the state in light of a state law which requires Voting Machine Companies to submit their full source-code to the state for inspection. At least for now.

A letter just obtained by The BRAD BLOG, sent from Diebold to the NC State Board of Elections, confirms that indeed, the company which had previously fought a state law requiring the submission and inspection of their voting equipment's software source code has decided they'd rather quit than fight, and is withdrawing their bid to contract with the state of NC for the time being, pending their ability to convince NC to change their laws!

According to the letter, dated Dec. 20th, 2005 and sent by a Diebold attorney to NC's State Board of Elections Executive Directory, Gary Bartlett, Diebold has decided they cannot comply with the current state law requiring full source code submission. The letter claims that Diebold is prepared to submit their own source code, but not that of third parties which is used by Diebold in their voting systems, including Operating System software and pre-packaged third-party tools.

Diebold, however, in the letter written by attorney Charles R. Owen, and apparently sent via Email on Diebold stationery, says that Diebold "is prepared to work closely with the North Carolina State Board of Elections ('SBE') in drafting a modification" to the law which they contend neither they nor other vendors can meet. It goes on to say that such a modification to the state law would be one "that meets the true intent of the legislature while at the same time imposing reasonable requirements on all vendors that are capable of being met."

Owen adds, however, that they will be "unable to comply with the deadlines imposed by the SBE in addition to the requirements of state law."

-- Here is the full 12/21/05 Letter from Diebold [PDF] to the NC State Board of Elections.

John Gideon, of VotersUnite.org and VoteTrustUSA, as well as a frequent Guest Blogger here at BRAD BLOG, received word of this decision not long ago via an email sent from a source in NC:

I have just got the official word. Diebold withdrew from NC today because their CEO would not sign the document making him criminally liable for disclosing the source code.

This is what I was talking about in my post yesterday, but I couldn't be too specific.

Thank GOD! We did it. This has been one hell of a battle.

The email was a follow up to word Gideon received late last night from the source who was reportedly waiting to get "the official word" on the matter.

The back and forth between Diebold, North Carolina, and Election Integrity advocates has been an intense roller-coaster ride over the last several weeks as reported in several BRAD BLOG stories which followed all the various ups and downs.

Several weeks ago, Diebold had attempted to receive an exemption from the state court for submitting their complete source code into escrow. They were denied that exemption by the court and announced that they would therefore be unable to do business with North Carolina. Just a day or so later, the state announced they were going to go ahead and certify Diebold anyway based on a partial submission of source code even though that appeared to violate state law. That became known as the "Immaculate Certification" since it came just a day or so after the Ohio-based company had said they'd submit some of their source code to the state after all. Election integrity advocates had argued that their was no way the state could have complied with state law for inspection of the code in the short between the company's submission, and the states certification. The decision to certify at that point, was apparently led by the former Diebold employee, Keith Long, who had recently left the company to join North Carolina's commission advising the State Board of Elections.

Several days later then, a lawsuit was filed by NC citizen, Joyce McCloy, to challenge the state's decision to certify Diebold, contending that it was done against state law. And now, apparently, even Diebold agrees.

North Carolina passed their new, tougher state elections laws, after at least 4,500 votes were entirely lost in Carteret County on a single electronic voting machine made by UniLect, Inc. during the 2004 Presidential Election.

Where things will go from here, we can only guess. But, as ever, we will do our best to stay on top of the story as it moves forward...or backwards...or sideways...as the case, when dealing with Diebold...may eventually be...

UPDATE: AP now has the story, reports that only one vendor is left in NC willing to meet the state law requirements. ES&S. More more on the problems of ES&S, and a few other remarkable items, see this BRAD BLOG story from earlier today.




Citizen Activists, Increasing Concerns about Diebold Security, Company Integrity Said to Have Been Key to Decision!
ALSO: FOIA Requests Filed About Closed-Door Hearings, Concerns Emerge About ES&S, the Company Chosen Instead of Diebold, and a Diebold Lobbyist Reportedly Inquires About BRAD BLOG...And FAMILY!!!
By Brad Friedman on 12/22/2005 3:23pm PT  

Add St. Louis County, Missouri to the growing list of Elections Boards around the country who have now rejected Diebold, Inc. voting machines in the last-minute scramble to select new election hardware, prior to the Jan. 1, 2006 Help America Vote Act deadline to have such "upgrades" paid for with Federal tax dollars.

The bad news for the once-great, now-disgraced Diebold, Inc. (stock symbol: DBD) of North Canton, Ohio, comes as the latest blow in a long string of disappointments for the company, which last week saw the resignation of its CEO, the filing of several Class Action Securities Fraud lawsuits, and the devasting revelation that their voting machines can be easily hacked, allowing the results of Diebold elections to be completely reversed.

The loss of the contract in St. Louis County, who chose to go instead with Election Systems and Software, Inc. (ES&S), is estimated by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch to be at least $9.6 million.

The last minute decision came amid intense lobbying by both citizens' election integrity advocacy groups and paid Diebold lobbyists --- at least one of whom was reported to have inquired about both The BRAD BLOG itself and the financial background of the father of yours truly!

There are also growing concerns about the security of voting equipment sold by ES&S, as well, in light of various states and counties around the country selecting them, instead of Diebold, as the contractor to privatize their public elections.

The County's decision to go with ES&S, instead of Diebold, comes just days after the City of St. Louis (distinct from the county) decided unanimously to go with Diebold. The City's decision occurred even after Diebold's machines were exposed as completely insecure in a so-called "hack test" in Leon County, Florida that resulted in the tally of a test election being completely reversed. A few days later Volusia County, Florida decided against Diebold, and shortly thereafter the State of California "punted" the issue, for now, back to the Feds, stating there were "unresolved significant security concerns" with Diebold's voting machines. The California decision, though not yet definitive, is undoubtedly one of the biggest blows for Diebold, since it is regarded by the company as America's largest "voting market."

The City of St. Louis may come to regret their decision as much as they eventually came to regret allowing the County to split off from it, back in the days when the County was sparsely populated and seen as draining tax dollars from the City. Today, St. Louis County's population is over 1 million, while the City continues to stagnate at a population of just over 300 thousand.

According to reports from both grassroots organization Missourians for Honest Elections and Jo Mannies of The Post, information and concerns about about the latest failures of Diebold voting machines, brought to the County's Board of Election by citizens, was crucial to the BoE's decision. As reported by Mannies in a story on The Post website last night:

Board member Anita Yeckel acknowledged that the controversy surrounding one of the contenders, Diebold Election Systems, was a factor in her decision.

"There was a lot of publicity about Diebold that hadn't been resolved," she said.

In the version of the story which ran in today's paper, the following addition to the above was found:

She added that she personally thought Ohio-based Diebold was "a terrific company."

There was no explanation for that added quote and we have been unable to reach Mannies for comment today.

According to Virginia Harris, a volunteer with Missourians for Honest Elections, St. Louis county resident Harvey Friedman (father of this blogger) was instrumental, along with several others, in bringing the latest disturbing news about the Diebold company to the attention of the Board of Elections.

On a personal note; While my father has never shown a proclivity towards political activism in the past, to the knowledge of this exceedingly proud blogger, I couldn't be more impressed with his tenacious efforts to inform the St. Louis County BoE members of the many growing concerns about Diebold, and to hold their collective feet to the fire in the bargain. The tree, apparently, does not grow far from the fallen apple. Thank you, Dad. And congratulations for the positive effect of your good work in my old home town!

The activism of Friedman the Elder, and the reporting of The BRAD BLOG, apparently has not escaped the notice of at least one person, said to be a Diebold lobbyist present at the series of recent BoE hearings in St. Louis. After Mannies of The Post ran a short blog item highlighting both our hometown connection and our father --- whom she met and interviewed at the hearings --- Lou Hamilton, reportedly representing Diebold, was said to have "thanked" Mannies for "the outing of BRAD BLOG" (whatever that might mean) and to have asked her "Who is Brad's father? What does he do for a living?", according to a report of the incident.

Hamilton is apparently the CEO of "strategic communications consulting service" Hamilton & Company, and described in an article by Mannies as "a prominent Democratic consultant." More information on Hamilton and his company is available here. We have been unable to reach either Hamilton or Mannies for additional comment on the information reported above, which was emailed to us yesterday.

While attention to the many anti-democratic maneuvers of Diebold, whose former CEO Walden O'Dell infamously pledged his personal committment "to helping Ohio deliver its electoral votes" to George W. Bush in a fundraising letter to Republicans prior to the 2004 election, has been increasingly well-publicized, ES&S has escaped the scrutiny of many Election Reform advocates.

The fact, however, is that ES&S' voting machines are not known to be any more secure than Diebold's, as reported in an eye-opening article yesterday by Wired News. In the report, adjunct computer science professor at the Florida Institute of Technology, Hugh Thompson, who also took part in the Leon County "hack test" last week, is concerned about the voting equipment being purchased from companies other than Diebold:

"Looking at these systems doesn't send off signals that ... if we just get rid of Diebold and go to another vendor we'll be safe," Thompson said. "We know the Diebold machines are vulnerable. As for ES&S, we don't know that they're bad but we don't know that they're (good) either."

Earlier this year, ES&S acquired distribution rights to the AutoMARK system, which has been described as far superior and far more secure than ES&S' own touch-screen and optical scan voting machines. As well, the AutoMARK system, which produces a paper ballot for every vote cast, is said to be accessible to disabled citizens in ways which ES&S and Diebold machines are not, according to a number of disabled citizen's advocacy groups. In Florida's Leon County, the Board of Elections has decided to contract with ES&S, with the intention of using the AutoMARK system once it becomes certified by the state.

St. Louis County's BoE has decided against the AutoMARK system, and instead will purchase 1,750 ES&S touch-screen machines for use in municipal races, along with 500 precinct-level optical-scan tabulators for use in Federal races, according to Harris, with whom we spoke by telephone earlier today. She suspects that ES&S is not dealing honestly with their newly acquired "partners" at AutoMARK, whom she contends ES&S is "defrauding" by over-pricing and under-representing their machines when dealing with potential clients on State and County elections boards.

"In my opinion, ES&S fraudulently priced the AutoMARK machines so high on their bid, that there was no way they could compete with ES&S's DRE [touch-screen] machines or anybody else's for that matter," she told us. Harris claims to have a copy of the bids submitted and hopes to share them with The BRAD BLOG soon.

The wrangling over which vendor to select in St. Louis County occurred shortly after several "closed door sessions" of the St. Louis County Board of Elections, who met privately with Voting Machine vendors and locked out the public and election integrity advocates. Those "closed door sessions" appear to be in violation of Missouri state law, and since then, The BRAD BLOG has learned, "Freedom of Information Act" (FOIA) requests have been filed with the County for the minutes of those closed door sessions. We will, as always, keep you up to date on details that may be revealed by those FOIA requests if and when the County complies with them.




By John Gideon on 12/21/2005 6:17pm PT  

Guest Blogged by John Gideon of VotersUnite.org

Today has to be a bad day for two voting machine vendors. Diebold was told by the California SoS to send their system back to the Independent Test Authorities because some specific source code needs to be re-examined. In the meantime the state will not certify any Diebold voting machines. This morning a Temporary Restraining Order was filed by voters in New Mexico against the purchase of any Sequoia Edge voting machines. Included in the TRO is a statement from a developer of aides for disabled persons, who also happens to be blind, who correctly points out that the Sequoia AVC Edge DRE does not satisfy the disability access requirements of HAVA. There has been one disturbing announcement as a judge in North Carolina found for the state board of elections and against the voters of the state who pointed out that the voting systems certified by the state did not meet the law. Also in California a federal audit found that $3.8M of elections funds had been improperly spent by the previous SoS....

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




19 NM counties agree that Sequoia DREs should not be used by their voters
By John Gideon on 12/21/2005 3:04pm PT  

Guest Blogged by John Gideon of VoteTrustUSA.org

Last month The BRAD BLOG reported on an important lawsuit underway in New Mexico. We can now report that a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) has been filed and that plaintiffs have been added to the suit.

Today, attorneys for Patricia Rosas Lopategui, et al. and against Secretary of State Rebecca Vigil-Giron, et al. filed a temporary restraining order asking District Judge Eugenio Mathis for an emergency order blocking the Secretary of State from spending millions of dollars on Sequoia AVC Edge touch screen voting machines for use in Bernalillo, Dona Ana, Santa Fe and 11 other counties. According to their press release VoterAction, the group who is providing support to the attorneys and the plaintiffs in this case, says:

The plaintiffs allege that the machines are not accessible by disabled voters and violate a state law requirement for voter verifiable paper trail printers, necessary for meaningful audits and recounts. Plaintiffs also submitted substantial evidence that the Sequoia touchscreen voting systems are inaccurate and unreliable, having lost thousands of votes and switched countless others in recent elections.

As a part of their case, plaintiffs submitted the affidavit of Noel Runyan, an expert on the design of disabled access devices. Mr. Runyan, who is blind, gave this harsh assessment:

In my opinion, the Sequoia AVC Edge DRE does not satisfy the disability access requirements of HAVA, as incorporated into New Mexico law. This opinion is based on (1) the Edge's complete lack of any accommodation for persons with severe physical dexterity impairments who are unable to use touchscreens or keypads; (2) the gross inadequacy of the Edge's audio assist feature for persons who are blind or low vision; and (3) the Edge's failure to accommodate elderly voters who have developed severe visual impairments with age but are unfamiliar with and unable to cope with audio-only access technology because they have had normal vision most of their lives. In short, it is my opinion that a large portion of disabled citizens who attempt to cast their votes on Sequoia AVC Edge voting machines will be unable to do so.

The work done by these attorneys has already begun to reap benefits outside of the state of New Mexico as attorneys in other states have begun asking for advice and assistance. VoterAction has a copy of the filing and all attached exhibits posted on their website.




A By-Request Open Thread...
By Brad Friedman on 12/21/2005 11:33am PT  

Unfortunately, I'm likely off the grid for the bulk of the day/evening today. So, unless the mighty fine Guest Bloggers jump in, feel free to Be the Blog! BRAD BLOG regular, "Dredd" requested an Open Thread recently, so Happy HOLIDAYS, old boy!

In my stead, it'll be as if I'm here by my kicking the Open Thread off with a few things "BRAD" that all have roughly something to do with your occasionally humble host, but that I otherwise don't know what to do with...

Hometown Boy Does Good-ish
Jo Mannies of my one-time hometown paper, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch blogs about me. Please note that the commenters in St. Louis on both that item, and the one preceeding it about the city of St. Louis choosing Diebold (the county has yet to make their final determination), need some education and some help. Feel free to offer it to them politely.

Thanks for the Honor Danny!
The notable author/filmmaker Danny Schecter, currently of MediaChannel.org has taken note of The BRAD BLOG as one of the notable blogs listed amongst his notable list of "Media Heroes". Coming from someone such as Schecter, that is no small honor. Given the company we share on his list, we are about as humbled as we are cable of being. We'll not even note he called us "Brad's Blog" since humble beggars shouldn't be choosers. (For more on humble begging, read on to the end of this item...)

FINALLY! A Good Excuse to Go Out and Buy Hustler!
I've got a short piece in the January February issue, on stands now, so I'm told, about DIEB-THROAT! Go get it! Lemme know you think, since I've yet to see the final version. Finally, you can tell people you really did buy it for the articles!

FINALLY! A Good Excuse to Go Out and Buy Mother Jones!
I've got an article about Dan Borchers --- he the Conservative (real one) working on an Anti-Ann Coulter documentary as first discussed in this BRAD BLOG Exclusive --- in the January issue. Now also out on stands, or so I'm told. If you prefer to save your money, for a CHRISTMAKKAKWANZA DONATION to your friendly neighborhood BRAD BLOG, you can read the MoJo article online here. Be sure to note the cool Spewing Ann graphic with it!

And Speaking of Donations...and Beggars...
Remember, just a few days left to make your end of year tax-deductible donations! Of course, we're not tax-deductable as far as I know, but really...Who does more good for the world? Those losers over at Save the Children or The BRAD BLOG? ;-)

Okay. After you send the tax-deductible part to them, feel free to share whatever might left with us. We could use the end o' year help.

Alternately, a monthly subscription of any amount you choose (see the blue form on the right of this page) is also a very lovely way to end one helluva roller-coaster ride of a year!

(And don't forget the swell merchandise in The BRAD STORE! Though who knows if it'll get there in time for the Holidays...Well, hell, there's eight full days of Chanukah to come! So, sure! It'll make it!...Maybe.)

Discuss all or none of the above...in comments below...




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