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By John Gideon on 4/27/2006 7:55pm PT  

Guest Blogged by John Gideon of VotersUnite.org and VoteTrustUSA.Org

Texas 'ES&S Counties' will probably be using hand counted paper ballots in the run-off elections on May 13. They have already been given permission to use paper ballots by the state. I highly recommended that people interested in the workings of a small voting technology vendor read the article entitled, "Vote of confidence? Firm has low profile" (link below). The article is an expose on MicroVote and worth the time. New York announced their new voting machine standards today. West Virginia announced that out-dated software has been installed on their iVotronics....

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

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By David Edwards on 4/27/2006 5:57pm PT  

Guest blogged by David Edwards of Veredictum.com


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The BRAD BLOG is reporting that Bush signed a bill into law before it passed both houses of Congress:

11 ranking Members of the United States House of Representatives will be filing a law suit in U.S. District court on Friday, The BRAD BLOG has learned, seeking a permanent injunction of "Deficit Reduction Act" which George W. Bush signed into law on February 8th of this year, despite its not having passed both houses of Congress.

Rep. Fortney "Pete" Stark is reported to have said, "Schoolhouse Rock has taught generations of Americans how a bill becomes a law..."

We dug up this video to remind the President of the proper Constitutional procedure for signing a law.

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By David Edwards on 4/27/2006 2:50pm PT  

Guest blogged by David Edwards of Veredictum.com


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Jon Stewart reports on another important decision by the president. Stewart takes his first shots at Tony Snow as Bush's new Press Secretary.

If this first segment is any indication then Mr. Snow may soon become a favorite subject for Daily Show viewers.

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EXCLUSIVE DETAILS: Complete lawsuit, Timeline from House Members...
Alleges Violation of U.S. Constitution Which Requires Both Chambers Must Pass Law Before Signing by President
By Brad Friedman on 4/27/2006 2:17pm PT  

"Schoolhouse Rock has taught generations of Americans how a bill becomes a law," says Rep. " said Rep. Fortney "Pete" Stark (D-CA), the ranking Democrat on the U.S. House Ways and Means Health Subcommittee in a press release just issued by 11 U.S. Congressmen.

"As most school children can attest," Stark says, "a bill is just a bill on Capitol Hill until it passes both the House and Senate in identical form and is signed by the President ? or Congress overrides his veto. I'm sorry we've had to resort to this lawsuit, but I am committed to protecting our democracy."

11 ranking Members of the United States House of Representatives will be filing a law suit in U.S. District court on Friday, The BRAD BLOG has learned, seeking a permanent injunction of "Deficit Reduction Act" which George W. Bush signed into law on February 8th of this year, despite its not having passed both houses of Congress.

The BRAD BLOG has obtained an exclusive copy of the suit to be filed tomorrow by Congressman John Conyers (D-MI) and 10 other Democratic law makers, as well as a timeline of the events in the matter as compiled by the House members.

-- COMPLAINT IN FULL [WORD format].
-- Timeline of the events [WORD format].

"On February, 8 at 3:43 p.m.," the complaint alleges, Bush signed a bill that "never was passed by the United States House of Representatives."

The difference in the language of the House and Senate bills, is a clause requiring Medicare to cover rent for "certain durable medical equipment." The version of the bill pased by the House requires payments for 36 months. The Senate version requires payments for only 13 months.

The difference in the cost of the federal outlays for the two different versions is said to be approximately $2 billion.

The two houses of Congress were never able to pass a joint version of the bill, and yet, House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL) and President Pro Tem of the United States Senate, Ted Stevens (R-AK), "signed a statement attesting that the bill signed by the President had been passed by both the United States House and the United States Senate."

"Once again the Administration is playing fast and loose with the Constitution," Conyers says in a Press Release (posted in full at the end of this article).

"Anyone who has passed the sixth grade knows that before a bill can become a law, both Houses of Congress must approve it. That the Bush Administration is now saying otherwise underscores the Constitutional crisis we are facing in this country."

Several other members were equally clear in the press release which excoriates the Bush Administration for yet another Constitutional transgression.

Says Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS), Ranking Member of the Homeland Security Committee in the release: "Time and time again the President has sought to discard the Constitution as if it were an old shoe."

Congressman Charles Rangel (D-NY), Ranking Member of the Ways and Means Committee is quoted as saying, "the Constitution is clear --- legislation signed by the President must be passed by both the House and the Senate. In allowing the President to sign a bill that was not passed by the House, Congressional Republicans made a mockery of the legislative process."

The "FACTS" section of the complaint explains the matter quite clearly...

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

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Director of Elections Sends Letter Authorizing Measure in Light of Latest Failure by Electronic Voting Machine Vendor
Says Company's Performance in Most Recent - of Many Similar Incidences Around the Country - is 'Completely Unacceptable and Disturbing'
By Brad Friedman on 4/27/2006 11:46am PT  

On Monday, Texas Director of Elections Ann McGeehan sent a letter to all state Election Officials authorizing them to create "emergency paper ballots" in light of statewide failures by Election System & Software, Inc. (ES&S) to provide ballots in time for the state's upcoming May 13 Runoff Elections, The BRAD BLOG has learned.

Early voting begins on Monday for those elections and counties across the state do not yet have ballots and, in many cases, programming for their optical-scan and touch-screen voting machines. ES&S has contracts with more than 140 Texas counties.

McGeehan has instructed officials to create and number their own paper ballots, secure boxes to store them in, and hire additional workers to manually hand count ballots as an emergency procedure to deal with the rapidly deteriorating situation.

The letter from McGeehan (posted in full exclusively at the end of this article) --- which does not mention ES&S by name, but refers to the Omaha, Nebraska-based company only as "a certified voting systems vendor" --- was sent in response to complaints from officials around the state that "programming media or, in some cases, your ballots" had not been received yet by officials.

In a statement to the San Antonio's Express-News this morning, Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff says, "It sure is exasperating...We are looking at avenues to hold them responsible for this." Bexar County is just one of more than 140 in Texas with whom ES&S has contracts.

"They made their priorities," Wolff says, "and I think Texas certainly wasn't one of them."

The BRAD BLOG has also received statements from officials in other states who were still more direct in expressing their frustration with the company's business practices now being described by some as including "coercion" and "threats."

This most recent embarrassment for ES&S, the country's largest Electronic Voting Machine Vendor, is just the latest in what has now become an epidemic string of failures to meet contractual obligations in scores of states and counties across the country. The BRAD BLOG has reported on many of these troubling problems in a long series of articles in hopes of connecting the dots of those failures to illustrate and warn of the rapidly approaching E-Voting train wreck.

So far, both the mainstream corporate media, as well as many elections officials across the country have --- to the delight of ES&S --- failed to notice the remarkably clear pattern of delinquency and failure the company has demonstrated time and again across the nation in recent weeks and months.

Texas was plagued, during their recent March 7th Primary Election, by a host of failures in voting equipment made by both ES&S and Hart InterCivic, another voting machine vendor certified to do business in the state. Those failures on Election Day led to a statewide Election Contest filed by a former Republican Supreme Court Justice after tabulators failed and electronic ballots were misprogrammed and miscounted.

In Jefferson County, TX officials threatened to withhold payment after the debacle until their machines were fixed by ES&S. The company, however, answered by reportedly refusing to program the machines at all for the state's upcoming Runoff Elections unless payment was made in full. The county, in a bind, was forced to comply with the strong-arm tactics.

And now, with new elections just weeks away, officials all over the state are finding themselves --- like many other states across the country --- without the promised ballots from ES&S and scrambling for alternative solutions. Election Director McGeehan describes the situation as "completely unacceptable." Writing in her letter to Election Officials, she says:

We recognize that this kind of service from a certified voting systems vendors [sic] is completely unacceptable and disturbing. We will be pursuing all appropriate remedies from a state level that are available to us.

In the letter, McGeehan goes on to explain that officials should crate "emergency paper ballots" by either creating their own, or using "PDF format to print copies of the ballot" in cases were "proofs" had been previously supplied by ES&S.

Instructions are included for number and initializing thousands of ballots by hand:

After you print a copy of the ballot, you will need to put a ballot number at the top of the ballot beginning with the next ballot number of the last number of your original ballot order. In other words, if you ordered 15,000 ballots numbered 1-15,000, any ballots you create would be numbered beginning with the number 15,001. You will need to put your initials on the back of the ballot so you can determine it was an official ballot provided by you.

Further, officials are instructed that they may have to manually hand count ballots that would otherwise be counted by either optical-scan systems or recorded by touch-screen voting machines.

They are also told to create boxes for the ballot storage and find people to count them. McGeehan writes...

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

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By Brad Friedman on 4/27/2006 11:07am PT  

They're melting down...


Developing...More shortly...

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By David Edwards on 4/27/2006 8:01am PT  

Guest blogged by David Edwards of Veredictum.com


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George W. Bush's poll numbers continue drop in the newest NBC/Wall Street Journal Poll. Americans are now most concerned about gas prices followed by Iran nuclear weapons, illegal immigration and Iraq.

2 out of 3 Americans believe that the country is on the wrong track. 3 out of 4 people polled have lost confidence in the economy. 62% disapprove of the President's handling of Iraq.

Bush's approval rating dropped to 36% in this poll. Katie Couric suggests that the White House might be relieved that the President's approval only dropped one point.

There was also some bad news for Democrats in the NBC/Wall Street Journal Poll. When asked who should control Congress, people preferred Democrats over Republicans by 6%. This is down from a 13% margin in the last poll. The overall approval for Congress dropped significantly from 33% to 22% which is considered to be bad news for the Republicans who now control congress. The sinking approval of Congress may lead to low voter turnout for both parties.

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As Posted by Fox 'News'!
By Brad Friedman on 4/26/2006 7:21pm PT  

Fox "News", of all sites, posts the full lyrics to Neil Young's "Let's Impeach the President" tune to be released this Friday online along with his Living With War album.

[See BRAD BLOG's (p)review of the album as posted last weekend.]

Says Roger Friedman at Fox about the album; "[It's] an incendiary, moving, totally American document of peaceful protest that is going to make a lot of people crazy one way or another."

He calls it "serious and searing" and an "extraordinary and eye opening new recording."

About "Let's Impeach the President," Friedman describes it as "a melodic, rocking, campfire ode" and "the catchiest protest song since Country Joe and the Fish's anti-Vietnam ditty, 'I Feel Like I'm Fixin' to Die.'"

Enough hype for ya? Okay, then...

Here, for the first time, the lyrics to Neil Young's "Let's Impeach the President":

Let's impeach the president for lying
And leading our country into war
Abusing all the power that we gave him
And shipping all our money out the door
He's the man who hired all the criminals
The White House shadows who hide behind closed doors
And bend the facts to fit with their new stories
Of why we have to send our men to war

Let's impeach the president for spying
On citizens inside their own homes
Breaking every law in the country
By tapping our computers and telephones
What if Al Qaeda blew up the levees
Would New Orleans have been safer that way
Sheltered by our government's protection
Or was someone just not home that day?

Let's impeach the president
For hijacking our religion and using it to get elected
Dividing our country into colors
And still leaving black people neglected
Thank god he's racking down on steroids
Since he sold his old baseball team
There's lot of people looking at big trouble
But of course the president is clean
Thank God

While waiting for Friday, be sure to check out Op-Critical's new protest songs (and video contest), which RAW STORY covered a day or two ago, along with Justice Through Music's collection of protest tunes to hold you over.

UPDATE 4/28/06: The complete album --- as well as the single "Let's Impeach the President --- is now released online for your listening pleasure...

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By John Gideon on 4/26/2006 5:16pm PT  

Guest Blogged by John Gideon of VotersUnite.org and VoteTrustUSA.Org

Nevada County (California) Registrar of Voters/County Clerk-Recorder Kathleen Smith recommended against contracting with ES&S for AutoMark deployment for the June 6, 2006, election, at the Board of Supervisors meeting yesterday. Mr. Tom O'Brien of ES&S said ES&S would not agree to the County's request for contract terms regarding shared cost of upgrades or specific trade-in terms on future improved equipment. Now, 41 days before California's Primary Election, Lou Dedier of ES&S refuses to provide services to Nevada County (software coding for optical scan ballot tabulation equipment) for the June 6 election without a service agreement. A typically arrogant act by a company that does not care if they lose business because they have much more than they can possibly handle....

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

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(The BRAD BLOG Makes it Into Song!)
By Brad Friedman on 4/26/2006 12:34pm PT  

BRAD BLOG reader and kick-ass blues man Shannon Williford (that's him at right) sends us a rockin' blues ditty titled simply "Election Reform".

While we're fairly certain it's the first blues tune to include the word "blogs" in the lyrics, we're damn near positive it's the first one to include the words "BradBlog.com" in it. And even "VotersUnite.org" (shout out to our pal John Gideon!) makes the cut for that matter. And others as well!

Shannon posted the lyrics, some observations on playing this song around Nashville and a few other thoughts on the current state of anti-establishment music in this comment on our Neil Young Living With War album review.

The tune certainly makes me smile. Hope it does the same for you. Turn up the speakers and...Give it a listen!

(Here are additional details on Williford's Delicious Blues Stew!)

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BRAD BLOG's WH Reporter Confronts McClellan, Who Ducks the Issue...
By Eric Brewer on 4/26/2006 12:26pm PT  

Special to BRAD BLOG by BTC News White House Correspondent Eric Brewer

Today at the White House I asked Scott McClellan about this bombshell buried near the end of R. Jeffrey Smith and Dafna Linzer's article on the firing of Mary McCarthy from the CIA in last Sunday's Washington Post:

The White House also has recently barraged the agency with questions about the political affiliations of some of its senior intelligence officers, according to intelligence officials.

Now why would the White House care about whether a CIA intelligence officer was a Democrat or a Republican? Has Dick Cheney decided that the only way to avoid future embarrassments like Plame and Pillar and Drumheller is to make sure all employees at U.S. intelligence agencies are plugged into the Borg mind? I asked Scott:

The Washington Post reported on Sunday that, according to intelligence officials, the White House has recently been asking the CIA questions about the political affiliations of some of its senior intelligence officers. Has the CIA been complying with the White House's requests?

Naturally, Scott knew nothing:

I know nothing about that report. Maybe I missed it when we were in California. Peter, go ahead.

As David Corn and Dan Froomkin have noted, we need to get some better answers.

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But ES&S Has a Brilliant New Plan for Technical Support!
By John Gideon on 4/26/2006 7:40am PT  

Guest Blogged by John Gideon

Regular readers will remember the last time we discussed Summit County, Ohio and the failure of their E-Voting vendor, Elections Systems and Software (ES&S), to get anything right. First they discovered that 30% of the memory cards, which store vote totals and other vital information, had completely failed. Later, they were able to get the number down to 10%. And then, as reported by THE BRAD BLOG the Director of the Board of Elections, Brian Williams, had announced that he had no confidence in ES&S and was predicting failures in the primary election that will be held next Tuesday, May 2.
Bad enough? Not for Train Wreck '06!

Today the county announced that they have completed all testing of their ES&S optical-scan voting machines and another 17 memory cards suddenly failed. These are cards that had previously been tested over and over again with no problems.

But never fear. If there are problems on Election Day, ES&S has a plan!

They've now announced that their technical team for on-the-ground assistance will be made-up of 19 university students from the University of Akron. The students will get training on Saturday. Yes, one day of training and they will be expected to represent ES&S for all technical matters in Tuesday's primary.

And, on top of all of that, two-thirds of the ballots needed for primary day have still not been received from the printer, an ES&S hired contractor.

Full speed ahead!

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By David Edwards on 4/26/2006 6:14am PT  

Guest blogged by David Edwards of Veredictum.com


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It looks like the conservative Fox News host, Tony Snow, will be the new White House Press Secretary. Snow is probably one of the more mature right-wing pundits. He has often been very critical of President Bush. In November of 2005 after Republicans lost Virginia's Governor race, Snow wrote, "His wavering conservatism has become an active concern among Republicans, who wish he would stop cowering under the bed and start fighting back... The newly passive George Bush has become something of an embarrassment."

It's an interesting PR move by the White House. Fox News predicts that Snow will command more respect from the White House Press Corps. Will the reporters go easier on Snow? NBC's David Gregory says that he will not change his aggressive style.

Here are a few more quotes from Snow (compiled by MSNBC):

  • "[President Bush has] lost control of the Federal Budget" - 03/17/2006
     
  • "No president has looked this impotent this long..." - 09/30/2005
     
  • "The English Language has become a minefield for the man. whose malaprops makes him the political heir not of Ronald Reagan but Norm Crosby... At one point last week, he stunned a friendly audience by barking out absurd and inappropriate words, like a soul tortured with Tourette's" - 08/25/2000
     
  • "The newly passive George Bush has become something of an embarrassment." - 11/11/2005

UPDATE FROM BRAD: Let's also not overlook Snow's mountain of irresponsible and inaccurate "reporting". A few examples here and then more here. Plus MediaMatters has some suggested questions for Tony's first snow job day.

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By John Gideon on 4/25/2006 5:19pm PT  

Guest Blogged by John Gideon of VotersUnite.org and VoteTrustUSA.Org

"Over a very short period of time, we and West Virginia counties are working to literally revolutionize the way elections are run in the state," according to ES&S spokesperson Jill Friedman Wilson in an email to the Associated Press. Revolutionize as in don't meet contracted dates? Disabilities accessible voting machines are not programmed going into the second week of early voting. Also Pulaski County, Arkansas joins the ES&S hit-parade today as they announce that there is no software for their DREs. The last round of testing of the Summit County memory cards found 17 more failures. And how does ES&S plan on covering an problems in the county? They are hiring 19 University students, giving them a days training and sending them out to represent the company....

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

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You have the right to fight back! Here's how?
By John Gideon on 4/25/2006 3:48pm PT  

Did you know that if your state took any funds from the federal government to purchase voting machines you have the legal right to file a complaint? And that you must be given a public hearing in the bargain if you ask for one?

According to the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) Section 402 any person who believes that there is a violation of any provision of HAVA Title III (including a violation which has occurred, is occurring, or is about to occur) may file a complaint which must then be dealt with in 90 days time.

Title III of HAVA is the section that includes such things as the accessibility mandates of voting devices for disabled-voters, the ability to verify the votes selected by the voter on the ballot before the ballot is cast and counted, the requirement for warning voters of overvotes, audit capacity of voting systems, provisional voting, computerized statewide voter registration lists, and other issues.

Part of this right to file a complaint is the right to request, and be granted, an on-the-record public hearing of your complaint. This cannot be denied to you according to federal law.

Realizing that I had this right, I spoke with some attorneys who are working on voting technology issues and I was told that actions that I took by filing a complaint would not hurt their work in any way and it might be helpful as it will help to build a public paper record. I then composed my complaint, which is now posted at VoteTrustUSA in full, and filed it yesterday.

We'll see where it goes, but I wanted to mention this to BRAD BLOG readers who might consider doing the same thing. HAVA mandates that every state must create a process for such complaints to be filed by voters. Check with your Secretary of State's office to see what might be required in your state.

If "6 or 7" of us do this in each state, who knows what might come of it? Since all the states have different procedures, please feel free to share your experiences for others here in comments, along with any tips for filing in your own state as you may find them.

Feel free to use my complaint as a template if you like, or drop me an email if you have any specific questions

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