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The Secret Koch Brothers Tapes...

Recommends System Where Candidates Revealed On Election Day With Diebold Still Choosing The President On Behalf Of Voters
By Alan Breslauer on 8/22/2007 11:12pm PT  

Guest Blogged by Alan Breslauer




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By John Gideon on 8/22/2007 8:00pm PT  

Guest Blogged by John Gideon of VotersUnite.org

So now ES&S is in trouble, again, in California. They appear to have sold uncertified AutoMark voting systems to counties and those systems were used in recent elections. I think it is important to know that this is an ES&S issue and not an AutoMark issue. AutoMark is a separate company that happened, at the time, to have an exclusive sales agreement with ES&S. Hopefully AutoMark will distance themselves from ES&S....

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

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NOW Exposes Underhanded Insurance Company Tactics To Bolster Bottom Line At Homeowners Expense
By Alan Breslauer on 8/22/2007 11:40am PT  

Guest Blogged by Alan Breslauer

PBS's NOW with David Brancaccio, in collaboration with Bloomberg Markets magazine, dedicated last Friday's entire episode (23:12) to exposing the underhanded tactics used by the insurance industry to bolster its bottom line at the expense of homeowners. One common tactic involves insurance companies replacing the phrase "guaranteed replacement value" with "extended replacement value" in policies without informing homeowners that the latter will result in a drastic reduction in benefits.

None of this was surprising to John Garamendi, California's Lieutenant Governor and former Insurance Commissioner, who states on camera, "The first commandment of the insurance industry is, 'Thou shalt pay as little, as late, as possible.'"

UPDATE: Video available at the NOW website.

DISCLOSURE: The producer of the NOW piece is a relative of mine.

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Speech to VFW Today May Be His Lowest Moment Yet - And That Is Saying a Lot
By Jon Ponder on 8/22/2007 10:01am PT  

Guest blogged by Jon Ponder, Pensito Review

When you hear the sound bites from George W. Bush's speech to the Veterans of Foreign Wars today in which he compares his botched war in Iraq to the Vietnam war, think about what he was doing while thousands of U.S. soldiers were wounded and killed in the mud of Southeast Asia.

As is well known, rather than serving in Vietnam, George W. Bush spent the war years in a cushy assignment to the "Champagne Unit" of the Texas Air National Guard. There are witnesses from that era who say Bush's main preoccupations then were doing drugs, chasing women and driving drunk. There are also rumors he seriously damaged a fighter jet while taxiing it on a runway.

Conversely, no witnesses have ever been found who can verify that he completed his service with honor --- and there is circumstantial evidence that he did not. Around the time he was in the TNG, the Pentagon began requiring drug testing of all military pilots. The record indicates that Bush never submitted to a physical after the drug testing was required — and thus was never honorably discharged.

Today, in what may be his most astoundingly outrageous speech to date, Bush had the temerity to lecture the American people about lessons the country should have learned from Vietnam:

"Three decades later, there is a legitimate debate about how we got into the Vietnam War and how we left... Whatever your position in that debate, one unmistakable legacy of Vietnam is that the price of America's withdrawal was paid by millions of innocent citizens whose agonies would add to our vocabulary new terms like 'boat people,' 're-education camps,' and 'killing fields.'"

And:

"Here at home, some can argue our withdrawal from Vietnam carried no price to American credibility, but the terrorists see things differently."

Just when you think there is nowhere lower Bush can go to try to fool people into supporting his illegal and misbegotten war, he finds a way to make us even more disgusted with him, the people who work for him and their rank incompetence --- as well as with our leaders who insist on allowing him to remain in office.

Update: Flip-flop alert: In 2004, Bush bristled at comparisons between Iraq and Vietnam: "I think the analogy is false. I also happen to think that analogy sends the wrong message to our troops, and sends the wrong message to the enemy."

Update 2: The complete text of Bush's speech is here. The excerpt about Vietnam follows below the fold:

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

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By John Gideon on 8/21/2007 8:00pm PT  

Guest Blogged by John Gideon of VotersUnite.org

Here we go again with more wrong-doing by a voting machine vendor. This time ES&S (no surprise there) got caught modifying AutoMark voting machines used in many California counties by voters with disabilities. California state election law does not allow any modification to any voting system without notification to the SOS and a determination that the modification does not affect the accuracy and efficiency of that system. It seems that ES&S made a modification to hundreds of AutoMark machines used in counties across the state and did it with no notification. The state has announced a public hearing for 20 September when specific relief will be discussed. That relief could be $10,000 per incident and/or decertification and/or banishment from the state for one to three years and/or other fines or restitution including refund of all tax-payer money spent to purchase those machines. It will be interesting to see how many local election officials suddenly come to ES&S’s defense. And the burning question is whether the modification was federally approved and how many other states have machines modified by ES&S in the dark of the night?...

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

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Richard Stickler Was Recess Appointment By Bush After Nomination Twice Rejected By REPUBLICAN Congress
By Alan Breslauer on 8/21/2007 2:04pm PT  

Guest Blogged by Alan Breslauer

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You Decide Whether We Report...
By Brad Friedman on 8/21/2007 11:39am PT  

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Mass Sell-Off by Company Officers Occurs Simultaneously Just Days Prior to Stock Price Plunge, Announcement of Jettisoning of Election Division
'There's Smoke There,' Financial Analyst Tells BRAD BLOG About Transactions at Controversial Company Now Under SEC Invesgiation...
By Brad Friedman on 8/21/2007 10:09am PT  

By Brad Friedman from St. Louis, MO...

On a recent Tuesday in August, several days after California Secretary of State Debra Bowen's pronouncement of decertification and then new, restrictive recertification of Diebold, Inc., voting systems, ten officers of the company simultaneously sold off some 10,379 shares of stock at a near 52-week high for the troubled company.

The ten Diebold insiders sold at $53.05 per share, netting more than half a million dollars in the transactions. The stock would begin to plummet nearly 15% a week later, just before it was disclosed that Diebold would spin off its elections division into a new company called "Premier Elections Solutions," after which the stock began a modest recovery.

Two days after the mass August 7th sale, two more Diebold officers would sell another 2,166 shares at the same $53.05 price.

All told, The BRAD BLOG has found the insider sales totaled $665,512 in the week before the value of the company's stock price would plunge in a massive sell-off triggered by a top financial analyst who had lowered the company's rating from "buy" to "hold."

Notably, the sales by the company officers did not occur immediately before or after the release of Bowen's findings of severe vulnerabilities in the company's voting machines, or immediately before or after her decertification/recertification announcement.

Instead, the sales came on a weekday when nothing else publicly --- other than the report we filed concerning security issues noted during our visit to Diebold headquarters in Allen, TX --- would seem to have prompted the sale.

A financial analyst that we spoke to, who asked not to be named, said he saw the spike in sales by the company officers as "a point of interest," noting "some smoke there," and adding that he found it notable that there had been no similar pattern of sell-offs by company officials in Diebold's recent history.

While the public did not yet know, on August 7th, of the impending plan to jettison Diebold's election division into a new, "independent" outfit with a new name, officers of the parent company likely had known long ago about the planned move...

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

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Company's AutoMARK Ballot Marking Devices Unapproved at State and Federal Levels, Could Bring $10,000 Fine Per Machine, Full Refund of Purchase Price, Prohibition from Doing Business in State
STATEMENT: SoS Bowen Says 1000 Uncertified Voting Machines Sold to Counties, She Intends to 'Go After Company For Full Allowable Penalty,' Millions 'Taken from Counties' Pockets'...
By Brad Friedman on 8/21/2007 9:34am PT  

By Brad Friedman from St. Louis, MO...

ED NOTE: Story now updated with additional information and statement from Secretary of State Debra Bowen.

"ES&S sold nearly 1,000 voting machines in California without telling the counties that bought them that they had never been certified for use in this state," CA Secretary of State Debra Bowen announced in a statement released moments ago. (Complete statement now posted at end of article).

"Given that each machine costs about $5,000, it appears ES&S has taken $5 million out of the pockets of several California counties, that were simply trying to follow the law and equip their polling places with certified voting machines."

"Not only did ES&S sell machines to California counties that weren’t state certified, it’s clear the machines weren’t even federally certified when the company delivered them to California,” Bowen continued in the no-holds-barred statement. "While ES&S may not like California law, I expect the company to follow the law and not trample over it by selling uncertified voting equipment in this state."

She went on to add that she intends "to go after the company for the full $9.72 million in penalties allowable by law, along with the original $5 million the company took from counties’ pockets."

She ain't kidding! ES&S, the country's largest distributor of voting machines, looks to be in a lot of trouble in California.

Earlier we reported that a public notice from the CA Secretary of State's office was posted this morning by Thad Hall of CalTech announcing that the company "has violated" CA Elections Code by modifying "hundreds of units of a version of the AutoMARK ballot marking device" without certification or permission of the Secretary of State...

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

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(Thank You Steven Harmon!)
By Brad Friedman on 8/20/2007 8:18pm PT  

Blogged by Brad from St. Louis...

Finally! Someone in the mainstream media asks the question that's been answered long ago. At least to those paying attention.

Kudos to Steven Harmon of the MediaNews Sacramento Bureau for finally discussing it out loud in the several mainstream California media outlets that ran his excellent story over the weekend.

Please go read it.

And feel free to laugh out loud at the embarrassing comments by Steve Weir, Registrar of Voters for Contra Costa, CA, and President of the CA Association of Clerks and Elections (CACEO), when he says: "Is the relationship between clerks and vendors an indication of something?...Is it pervasive and nefarious? I don't see it."

Though in the next breath Weir says: "It's been a tight-knit community for years and years, and that relationship might have been too close." Oh, do ya think?

Then comes the following guffaw, courtesy of Sequoia's professional liar/damage control expert/document doctorer, Michelle Shafer, when she says: "There's nothing odd about our relations with our customers...We support conferences and educational events that election officials and staffs attend. Without this support and sponsorship, it would be very hard for these organizations to conduct conferences or have meaningful programming."

(Please note, Shafer is now also the lead lobbyist for the Electronic Technology Council (ETC), the desperate voting machine company trade group.)

Andrew Gumbel, author of Steal This Vote, gets it absolutely right in reply when he says: "[The voting machine companies] went about selling their machines by schmoozing people into believing this would be a great American solution...Now, after they bought into this, county registrars can't tell if the system doesn't work, because it suits them so well from a bureaucratic point of view. They spent a lot of money and don't want to admit they were wrong."

Bingo.

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By John Gideon on 8/20/2007 8:00pm PT  

Guest Blogged by John Gideon of VotersUnite.org

Have voting machine vendors violated state and federal fraud statutes?

I’ll leave the answer for that question to the attorneys. Have the vendors sold their voting systems with a promise of maintaining the secrecy of the vote? Have any of the vendors represented their DREs as being accessible? Have vendors represented their systems as being totally in compliance with the federal voting systems standards? If the answer to any one of these questions is yes then the vendor misrepresented their products. Hundreds of millions of dollars have now flowed from the tax payer, through state and local election offices to the vendors. Instead of buying more lies the people spending our money need to go back to the vendors and begin to ask questions. Prove to us that your system meets all of the accessibility mandates in the law.

Prove to us that the system you sold us maintains secrecy of the vote.

Prove to us that your system does not contain banned interpreted code.

If you can’t prove it then give us our money back. If you refuse to give our money back then be prepared to go to court.

Much more to back up the above, and the other notable voting news stories today, all linked below...

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

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Buckeye State Election Integrity Advocates Match Votes to Voters on the State's ES&S Voting Systems
Systems from Other Companies, Such as Diebold, Have the Same Problem...No Matter How Much Their Spokespeople Lie About It...
By Brad Friedman on 8/20/2007 4:15pm PT  

By Brad Friedman from St. Louis, MO...

Enough. Enough. Enough already with this nightmare. It's time to decertify, ban, burn, crush, destroy all Direct Recording Electronic (DRE) touch-screen voting machines. Period.

DREs should never be allowed for use in another American election. Period.

Here's the lede from today's latest head-spinner, courtesy of Declan McCullagh at C|NET News...

Two Ohio activists have discovered that e-voting machines made by Election Systems and Software and used across the country produce time-stamped paper trails that permit the reconstruction of an election's results--including allowing voter names to be matched to their actual votes.
...
Ohio law permits anyone to walk into a county election office and obtain two crucial documents: a list of voters in the order they voted, and a time-stamped list of the actual votes. "We simply take the two pieces of paper together, merge them, and then we have which voter voted and in which way," said James Moyer, a longtime privacy activist and poll worker who lives in Columbus, Ohio.
...
Moyer and fellow activist Jim Cropcho tested this by dropping by the election office of Delaware County, about 20 miles north of Columbus, and reviewing the results for a May 2006 vote to extend a property tax to fund mental retardation services (PDF). Their results indicate who voted "yes" and who voted "no"--and show that local couples (the Bennets, for instance) didn't always see eye-to-eye on the tax.

ES&S machines are used in 38 states, and, of course, the ES&S spokesperson quoted in the article blames Ohio's procedures for allowing such records to be viewed by the public in the first place. Remember, the voting machine companies hate transparency and don't believe citizens should have the right to see anything concerning their own democracy.

They will also try to distract from the fact that the greatest threat to election integrity and security comes from election insiders --- such as voting machine company employees and elections officials --- rather than the public at large.

The well-reported and sourced C|NET article explains that the other major voting machine companies, Sequoia and Diebold, both deny that the same thing --- matching voters to votes --- is possible with their machines. An unnamed Diebold spokesperson, as usual, goes so far as to lie about the matter to the reporter, claiming they don't include time-stamps on the records for security and privacy reason. He/she added, "We're very sensitive to the integrity of the process."

That Diebold spokesperson is, of course, lying.

Last week, The BRAD BLOG detailed fraudulent claims on Diebold's website which said that on their touch-screen systems "the order of cast ballots is scrambled to further insure ballot anonymity." That claim runs counter to the findings of University of California's recent "Top-to-Bottom Review" of all certified voting systems in the state. The UC findings [PDF] on Diebold's voting system source code, as commissioned by California Secretary of State Debra Bowen, revealed precisely the opposite to be the truth...

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

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Yet Another One Bites the Dust in Continuing U.S. Attorney Purge Scandal...
By Brad Friedman on 8/20/2007 4:07pm PT  

TPMMuckraker has the scoop on the latest now-former U.S. Attorney to resign entirely from the DoJ in the wake of the U.S. Attorney Purge scandal. Bradley Schlozman had reportedly been under investigation by the DoJ's inspector general. Schlozman had been moved into the U.S. Attorney position in Western Missouri before subsequently bringing bogus "voter fraud" indictments in the state just prior to the November 2006 general election.

The MO indictments were in violation of the DoJ's own written rules, which disallowed such cases being brought during an election period. After leaving his post in Kansas City recently, Schlozman had been reassigned at DoJ in the office which oversees all U.S. Attorneys. He was recently called to testify to the Senate Judiciary Committee, where he was on the receiving end of angry disbelieving questions by Sen. Patrick Leahy (video of the exchange here). After the testimony, a DoJ insider told The BRAD BLOG that he found testimony to be "on the razor's edge of purjury." Schlozman would later send clarification of his testimony to the Senate Committee.

Schlozzie --- along with Hans von Spakovsky, who still awaits Senate confirmation for appointment as head the FEC, after he'd previously been recess-appointed by Bush last year --- have been much criticized by DoJ insiders for helping to gut the Voting Rights section of the department's Civil Rights division.

While dozens of DoJ and White House officials have been forced to quit in the wake of the scandal, the White House and DoJ continue to insist that no illegalities or improprieties were committed.

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By John Gideon on 8/19/2007 8:00pm PT  

Guest Blogged by John Gideon of VotersUnite.org

Recently a VP for one of the vendors told me in an email that I should not necessarily believe all of the voting machine failures reported by the media. She said, “I would hope you would know not to believe everything reported by the media! There are many factual errors and opinions that are expressed by the media which do not necessarily equate to the truth of each and every scenario.” Then she told me, “You should speak to the election officials who conducted these elections below and others where problems are reported for more accurate information.” In my response I asked if I should be talking to all of the election officials who have now become vendors, or were vendors only to come back to being election officials.

What confidence should I have in getting the truth from a Kathryn Ferguson, who was the elections director in Clark Co., Nevada, and brought Sequoia DREs into that county then moved to Santa Clara Co., California, where she brought in Sequoia DREs only to quit and be rewarded by Sequoia with a job? Or, any of the thousands of election officials who have spent hundreds of thousands of their voters' tax money to buy voting systems that don’t work, from vendors who deceive them about those systems, and now must defend those purchases or look like fools?

As usual, links to all of today's voting news stories (including one that hits on the above point) all found below...

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

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Not-Yet-Bankrupt Company's New Website Fails to 'Highlight' Discredited, Inaccurate, Easily-Hacked System...
By Brad Friedman on 8/19/2007 8:05am PT  

-- By Brad Friedman from St. Louis...

Diebold's once-vaunted Direct Recording Electronic (DRE) touch-screen voting machines are going the way of the Edsel.

Even the front page of their silly new "Premier Elections Solutions" website fails to include the discredited devices as one of their "Highlighted Products." Instead, Diebold/Premier, the morally bankrupt, if not-yet-financially bankrupt spinoff company, is pushing their failed E-Pollbook systems, their paper-based optical-scan systems (which also frequently fail), and their long-ago-proven-hackable GEMS tabulating system.

Though they show a small picture of their DRE, it's neither identified, linked, nor mentioned on the front page of their new site. That, despite their many years and millions of dollars spent pushing and lying about the hackable, inaccurate, unAmerican voting machine/scams.

Diebold's DREs were recently decertified [PDF] for use in the state of California for anything above one machine per polling place to marginally meet federal disabled voter requirements (even though CA found they failed to even meet disabled accessibility standards). Johns Hopkins Computer Scientist Avi Rubin also enumerated, in an article last Thursday, a few reasons why nobody is any longer interested in the DREs that Diebold/Premier may --- or may not be --- still selling.

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