Standing up to the NRA after Roanoke, horrifying U.S. gun death toll; PLUS: Denying global warming on Katrina's 10th anniversary; Trump's ugly nativism; Good news for Dems; Marriage dead-enders in KY...
The final day of testimony over the Pima County Democratic Party's public records request featured the remainder of the county's witnesses for the defense, a surprise call on an adverse witness, and pugnacious closing arguments. The matter now rests with Judge Michael Miller, who says he will decide the case within the next two weeks.
In brief, the Pima County (Tucson) Democratic Party is demanding Pima County release the Diebold GEMS tabulator databases containing voting data from the 2006 election, and those from all future elections, arguing that they are public records. The GEMS software is highly insecure, allowing anyone with access to the computer it runs on to manipulate the outcome of elections at will and likely cover their tracks. Elections are thus highly succeptable to manipulation by elections insiders, and there is no way to detect or deter them without access to the databases for forensic analysis. Pima County's position is that we should trust them to take care of that risk through internal checks and balances, and that releasing the databases simply creates more security risks by outsiders seeking to hack an election.
Both experts sought to convince the judge of the many security threats posed by release of the GEMS databases, and in my view, failed to sustain that position under the cross examination of the Democrats' attorney Bill Risner. Risner poked holes in all the threat scenarios the experts presented, showing them to be impracticable, absurd, or simply undefined.
She even had her G-man former beau go as far as to name a BRAD BLOG Guest Blogger as a "stalker," despite a complete lack of any evidence for same, as justification for lying on her voter registration form. This is one sick person. But you likely already knew that.
Controversial conservative writer Ann Coulter didn't break election laws when she registered at an address other than hers in Palm Beach and voted in the wrong precinct in February 2006.
That's what the Florida Elections Commission declared after investigating a complaint of fraud that WPB Democratic political consultant Richard Giorgio made this summer. The reason? The two-year statute of limitations expired. The clock started ticking when Coulter registered to vote, shortly after her arrival in June 2005, not when she voted.
And though the commission verbally slapped the TV quote-machine for not listening to a poll worker who tried to steer her to the right place, investigators found no probable cause that Coulter willfully violated the law.
Commission counsel Charles Finkel couldn't be reached for comment, but Giorgio called the opinion "arbitrary."
"We have an election commission that's hesitant to enforce the law," he said.
Coulter's voting also has been investigated, so far, by Palm Beach Police, the PBC Supervisor of Elections and the sheriff's office — and all declined to file charges.
She's as innocent as O.J. --- But with far fewer scruples.
Next time you hear Republicans ginning up unevidenced claims of massive "Democratic Voter Fraud," just point them right here: http://www.BradBlog.com/CoulterFraud and note that not one damn Republican in Florida, or the United States of America, did a damn thing about it.
Please feel free to contribute to our Ann Coulter Dishonor Fund via an online donation to The BRAD BLOG in order to continue our efforts to investigate and highlight --- and find accountability for --- criminals such as Coulter.
The court case in Pima Co Arizona goes into its fourth, and what is supposed to be last, day today.
While the Secretary of State of Ohio, Jennifer Brunner, is asking Cuyahoga Co to look into changing over to optical-scan and paper ballots for future elections. It’s probably time for the county to tell Diebold/Premier to bring in a large garbage truck and pick-up the trash. Then file a lawsuit for misrepresenting their product as something that would work.
Those stories, and all the other notable voting news today, linked below...
Guest blogged by Jon Ponder of Pensito Review, with additional reporting by Brad Friedman
The Republican Party's effort to unilaterally award itself 20 or so of California's 55 Electoral College votes in next year's Presidential Election has failed to reach its fundraising goals for a second time, according to the LA Times today...
A proposed initiative that drew national attention for its potential to affect next year's presidential election will not appear on the June ballot, organizers said Thursday.
Republican backers of the measure, which could have tilted the presidential contest toward the GOP nominee by changing how California awards electoral votes, conceded that they were unable to raise sufficient funds.
Dave Gilliard, the manager of the current campaign, expressed bewilderment over the fact that more GOP fatcats did not pour money into the campaign.
"I was surprised that more people that finance these types of efforts didn't step forward...We had strong supporters and good supporters but didn't come anywhere close to making the budget," Gilliard told the Los Angeles Times.
Gilliard's "surprise" is itself surprising. GOP big money donors know, just as certainly Gilliard must know, that ballot initiatives tend to fail if California voters suspect the proposition has a hidden agenda.
The stated intent of Gilliard's initiative was to make the California system "fair." In fact, the real purpose was to give about 40 percent of the state's Electoral College votes to the 2008 Republican Presidential nominee.
In September, the measure had been pronounced dead by the LA Times after the campaign's manager discovered that its sole donation had been laundered through a front group to disguise the donor's identity as a campaign chair and fundraiser for GOP presidential candidate Rudolph Giuliani. It was brought back to life in October after Congressman Darrell Issa (R-CA) kicked in $100,000 and the California Republican Party --- who would more recently cry that they were cash poor --- donated $150,000 towards the scheme.
In November, reports began to surface that the backers were using an initiative relating to kids with cancer as a cover to gather signatures in what appears to have been a fraudulent attempt to gain signatures for the measure. And The BRAD BLOG recently offered an exclusive interview with Anthony F. Andrade Jr., the man who originally proposed the scheme to split California's electoral votes. Andrade's comments about the initiative, and all manner of things --- including labeling homosexuals as "loony" and Bill and Hillary Clinton as "pricks" and "assholes" --- were colorful, to say the least.
But like Jason in a bad Friday the Thirteenth movie the measure may not be fully dead yet. The LA Times also reports today that proponents of the scheme "were holding out hope that the measure could appear on the November ballot with the presidential contest. But [Gilliard] said that was a dicey scenario: Even if it is on that ballot and wins voter approval, it might not affect the 2008 election."
A video report from CBS News over the weekend, showing apparent efforts by supporters to fraudulently receive signatures for the measure, follows below...
Wednesday night, George Bush's spokesperson Dana Perino was forced to acknowledge in an email that Bush had been lying to the American people both about the status of Iran's nuclear capabilities and about when he was informed that Iran's nuclear program had been suspended.
Yesterday, however, when she asked if Bush was "candid" about what he knew and when he knew it, Perino answered, "Yes, he was." Then, as proof of his candor, she launched into this tortured peroration:
If you look at the rest of that sentence, what the President --- the President was clearly told that there was new information that was coming in, but he wasn't told the details of it. And the President was also told that the intelligence community was going to need to go back and check out to find out if it's true. What I said is that [Director of National Intelligence Mike] McConnell told the President, if the new information turns out to be true, what we thought we knew for sure is right: Iran does, in fact, have a covert nuclear weapons program, but it may be suspended. He said that there were many streams of information that were coming in that could be potentially in conflict. They didn't have a lot of confidence in the information yet.
When challenged on the fact that her parsing did not square with what Bush actually said, Perino waved off the gap in credibility with this obviously scripted-in-advance bit of tripe:
I can see where you could see that the President could have been more precise in that language, but the President was being truthful.
The emphasis on "truthful" is hers. (And she will trot out the "he could have been more precise" nonsense twice more in the session.)
The White House press corps was refreshingly aggressive in putting Perino through her paces. As the session wore on, she sounded increasingly like her predecessor, Scott McClellan, in a skirt, deploying McClellan's usual tricks --- holding forth at length to answer a simple question and changing the subject whenever possible --- in order to avoid producing a sound bite. On the other hand, she couldn't entirely avoid that fact that Bush lied:
Q Dana, but listen to what he said: "He didn't tell me what the information was; he did tell me it was going to take a while to analyze." Was the President told that there was a possibility that Iran's nuclear program could be suspended? That's what you said he was told.
MS. PERINO: Yes, the President was told that there is new information [in August]...
Meanwhile, in the real world, no one --- except increasingly desperate neo-cons and Bush-cult dead-enders --- believes Perino, Bush or Cheney on this matter. What little credibility Bush, and, by extension, the United States, had on Iran among our allies and other stakeholders in the Middle East has evaporated. And rightly so, why should any foreign government put stock in anything the Bush administration has to say now?
Our only hope is that no serious world crisis erupts until the United States changes leadership in 13 months, and, presumably --- hopefully --- a normal president and administration take charge at long last.
The trial is heading into overtime. What was to be the third and final day of the trial ended with the Democratic Party having rested their case at the afternoon break and the County just getting into their witness list. Judge Miller called to reconvene at 8:30 a.m. Friday morning with a determination to finish the trial.
In brief, the Pima County (Tucson) Democratic Party is challenging Pima County to release the Diebold GEMS tabulator databases containing voting data from the 2006 election, and those from all future elections, on the presumption that they should be public records. There is a belief that the databases, if obtained by the party, may show fraud or other malfeasance by county election officials. The county maintains that releasing such information will make tampering in future elections easier, even though those same county officials and insiders have all the means and opportunity to manipulate elections.
Crane didn't do the county any favors. He undermined his own credibility, developed a great fondness for the expression "I can't recall," and, upon questioning by Judge Miller, revealed that the security threats the County claims are posed by the release of the GEMS database following an election are illusory or highly implausible.
Once the Democratic Party rested their case, the county moved for a judgment as a matter of law, which asks the judge to decide the case in their favor on just the plaintiff's testimony. It is largely a pro forma motion, but it provided an opportunity for counsels to frame the case thus far. Democrats' attorney Bill Risner took the opportunity to test a few of the themes that will likely figure in his closing arguments.
That footage of Risner making his case, is about 10 minutes long and is presented at the end of this post, hot off our press pool camera, in a BRAD BLOG exclusive. The judge took only a few minutes to decide that the plaintiffs had presented a sufficient case that the County must proceed with their side of the case.
The County put on their first witness, the elections director of Gila County, Arizona, another jurisdiction using an identical GEMS tabulation system. The choice backfired significantly. Her testimony revealed that she was completely ignorant of any security issues with the Diebold system her county uses, presumably because she relies on the Arizona Secretary of State and the Diebold corporation for security information. Her county contracts out their election preparation to a private company based in Glendale, Arizona, rather than do it in-house like in Pima County. The private company she contracts with just sends them back a prepared database, which the county then uses in their elections, never having checked the contents of the database.
Except for logic and accuracy testing (running a few sample ballots), the integrity of Gila County's elections rests entirely on the honesty of that private contractor.
The county then put on Merle King, the director of Georgia's Kennesaw College Center for Election Systems. The Democrats' legal team calls him 'The Man from Diebold.' He is a professional expert witness in voting systems who never saw a Diebold system he didn't love. The county made quite a production of eliciting the information that Mr. King had been paid the handsome sum of $10 to appear. I guess it was meant to illustrate how independent he is, but his expenses are being underwritten by someone: my money is on Diebold. His testimony and more will be available tomorrow.
In the meantime, enjoy the Democratic Party's champion Bill Risner presenting his motion for judgment, direct from the courtroom yesterday...
For election watchers there will be a special congressional election next week in northwest Ohio. There will also be another congressional election in Virginia at the same time. In the Virginia election voters are being given their choice between DRE or paper ballots.
Goshen New York held an election on a $70M school bond issue and brought out two lever machines to count the votes. As the counters on both machines hit 999, they each rolled back to 000 like an overused car odometer. The question that will never be answered is, for which side were those 1,998 votes cast?
Those stories, and the rest of today's notable voting news, all linked below...
The White House has quietly admitted that George Bush lied to reporters at a news conference on Tuesday when he said he was not informed by intelligence officials that Iran's nuclear weapons program had been suspended in 2003.
On Tuesday, Bush denied he knew the program had been disbanded when he warned the American people in October that Iran's pursuit of nuclear weapons could unleash World War III. Now, as we reported last night at Pensito Review, Bush press flack Dana Perino confirmed off-camera to reporters that, in fact, Bush learned about the suspension of Iran's weapons program in August.
The White House made a stunning admission Wednesday that appeared to suggest President Bush has directly contradicted himself about when he learned U.S. intelligence that Iran had halted its nuclear weapons program...
After taking a reporters' question earlier today about exactly what the President was told, White House press secretary Dana Perino provided a response to reporters Wednesday night.
Perino stated Bush had been told in August that Iran suspended it's covert nuclear weapons program.
"In August, DNI Director McConnell advised President Bush that the intelligence community would not be able to meet a congressionally imposed deadline requiring a National Intelligence Estimate on Iran because new information had been obtained just as they were about to finalize the report," Perino wrote in an emailed response.
"He said that if the new information turns out to be true, what we thought we knew for sure is right. Iran does in fact have a covert nuclear weapons program, but it may be suspended," Perino's email said.
Perino also said McConnell told the President the new information might cause the intelligence community to change its assessment of Iran's covert nuclear program.
Of course, Perino's latest version of who-knew-what-and-when may well be yet another lie. New Yorker reporter Seymour Hersh said earlier yesterday that Dick Cheney knew about the Iranian program's suspension as late as last November, and that he had "kept his foot on the neck of that report" until last week.
The White House has apparently been successful in burying the news that Bush lied at the news conference on Tuesday about when he was informed about the suspension of the Iranian program --- and that, by extension both Bush and Cheney have been lying to the American public for months about the threat Iran poses to world peace.
It was a day packed with testimony Wednesday in Tucson as the plaintiffs' attorney, Bill Risner, continued to crank through his witness list. The day ended with the last witness that will be called by the Democratic Party, Bryan Crane, whom Pima County Attorneys have repeatedly labeled "much maligned," just preparing for a rehabilitating friendly cross-examination by Pima County attorneys. Crane's testimony is pivotal to the case, and will be posted in its entirety tomorrow after cross and re-direct are complete.
To get up to speed with details on what this trial about, please see my introductory post, and if you missed yesterday's action, you may want to take a look at my summary of day one. In general, the Pima County (Tucson) Democratic Party, is challenging Pima County to release the Diebold GEMS tabulator databases containing voting data from the 2006 election on the presumption that it should be of public record. There is a belief that the databases, if obtained by the party, may show fraud and other malfeasance by county election officials. The county maintains that releasing such information will make tampering in future elections more feasible, even though those same county officials and insiders, currently have the easiest route to tampering with such elections, since they already have all the access they need to such information.
The witnesses on Wednesday included a slate of employees from the Pima County elections department. The summaries of the testimony of Isabel Araiza, Robert Evans, Chester Crowley, Romi Romero, and Mary Martinson are posted together on BlogForArizona.
These employees' testimony was sought by the plaintiffs to try to establish a pattern of negligent oversight and security procedures at the elections department, including the actions of head programmer, Bryan Crane (deposition video footage of Crane at bottom of this article), taking backups of election data home and illegally printing summaries that included current vote totals in the midst of elections and then sharing that data with persons not part of the election department.
The prime witnesses of the day, however, were Brad Nelson, the director of the elections department, Crane, the "much maligned" head programmer, and the man with responsibility for the entire bureaucracy, Chuck Huckleberry, the County Administrator...
Okay, we retract our hundreds of articles with evidence that Voter Fraud (as opposed to Election Fraud) is exceedingly rare. At least when it comes to Republicans and Florida.
The St. Petersburg Times is reporting that Mitt Romney supporters stuffed the "ballot box" (actually touch-screen DRE voting machines) by voting multiple times at last week's GOP straw poll in Tampa, FL, just prior to the Republican CNN/YouTube debate. Ironically enough, the video evidence, some of it posted at the end of this article, has been posted all over YouTube.
According to the Times...
Lined up at the voting machines, Paul supporters flaunted their single tickets and pledged to vote only once.
Meanwhile, some Romney supporters openly admitted to using rolls of tickets to vote multiple times. Romney won the poll with 893 votes, while Paul finished with 534.
It was all caught on tape, and the local Paul supporters rushed to share their complaints with the rest of the world.
By week's end, at least three videos hit YouTube, documenting Romney supporters - including prominent lawyer and lobbyist Fred Leonhardt - openly casting multiple votes.
In one video, a Clearwater woman and Paul supporter sat on a couch and accused Pinellas County GOP chairman and straw poll organizer Tony DiMatteo of threatening bodily harm if she didn't stop complaining.
"Tony's exact words on the phone to me was, 'If you make a big deal out of this, you will get hurt,'" Sofie Lefebvre said in the video. "And I was shocked. At that point, I realized that there was a lot more corruption going on than we even realized before."
DiMatteo dismissed the incident, calling it a non-issue that he refused to discuss any further.
"I've read some of those comments [angry ones, from Paul supporters accompanying several Youtube videos]," he said. "These are a bunch of people that need to get lives and don't understand what really happened here."
Granted, these GOP straw polls are phony from the get-go. The candidates buy tickets and give them out to supporters to show up and vote for them. They're fund raisers for the local Republican parties. But, theoretically, it's supposed to be one vote per ticket per person.
HAVA mandated that all punch-card voting systems be replaced? Not at all. In fact a close reading of the law will prove that there are protections for punch-card and hand counted paper ballots. 12 counties in Idaho are still using their punch-card voting system. Seldom do you see Idaho as a source for any articles on this page and never have you seen an article on this page about a problem with voting in Idaho.
Many of you know our friend Bernie Ellis of “Gathering To Save Our Democracy” His is a story much too long for this space but I wanted to pass on some good news about Bernie to all of his friends. Yesterday Bernie learned that his probation had been cut in half and that he is now a totally free man. One of his first actions today was to re-register to vote....
Will The 2008 Vote Be Fair? That was the topic addressed by host David Brancaccio and former Justice Department official David Becker on NOW last Friday. Part I (at left, 10:01) begins with a discussion of Photo ID laws to prevent the "invented problem" of voter fraud. The discussion continues at the 6:15 mark on the topics of voter caging and voter purging --- when the DoJ requires jurisdictions to purge their voter rolls when they do not match census estimates.
Part II (at right, 9:50) begins with Becker explaining how the Bush 43 Justice Department has subverted its traditional mission: "During about a five year span, not one single case was brought on behalf of African Americans in the Voting Section of the Civil Rights Division". Becker goes on to state that policies were established that favored Republicans and disfavored Democrats in an effort to "gam[e] the system" to retain power.
Next, Brancaccio and Becker explore how the U.S. Attorney scandal fits in to the bigger picture. Becker: "The DoJ, especially under Alberto Gonzales, was being used as an arm of the right wing of the Republican Party to effectuate partisan gains in elections". Finally, the program concludes with a discussion on voting machines and Florida's 13th District.
Repercussions continue to shake out in the wake of the release this week of a National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) that says Iran abandoned its nuclear weapons program four years ago.
At a news conference yesterday, George Bush denied knowing that U.S. intelligence had learned the Iranian program had been suspended when he warned the American people last month that Iran was on the verge of launching World War III. He was not lying, Bush suggested, but rather his own incompetence and famous lack of curiosity led him to give the false warning. Bush said that when Director of National Intelligence (DNI) Mike McConnell told him in August that new information about the Iranian nuclear program had come to light, he simply did not bother to ask the DNI about the nature of the new developments.
If the muted response to this assertion, from reporters at the news conference, is a guide, journalists close to the White House appear to believe that while it may be unacceptable for Bush to lie to them, it is perfectly okay for him to issue false predictions about an impending apocalypse if the warnings are based entirely on his ineptitude as commander-in-chief and his personal lack of curiosity.
As if all of that isn't a sorry enough state of affairs, today we learn that Dick Cheney has known about --- and actively suppressed --- the intelligence community's finding for over a year. In particular, Cheney knew that Iran suspended its weapons program when he made this statement on Oct. 21, 2007, in an address to a Washington think tank...
It was an eventful day in the courtroom in Pima County yesterday, with opening statements and the first two plaintiff's witnesses' testimony. Already, the general shape of the controversy is becoming more clear and many of the media access issues have been favorably resolved. The Election Integrity press pool is providing video to local news and other interested parties on a non-exclusive basis and there is a ground-swell of support and interest in the trial and use of the resultant footage among journalists and documentarians.
See our initial backgrounder/intro to this trial, as posted yesterday, right here.
The position of the Democratic Party, argued in the courtroom yesterday, is that the statutory role of the political parties in Arizona, and in America historically, has been to oversee and participate deeply in our elections. The elections belong to the people, not the government. The database the party seeks access to on behalf of all political parties is the only computer record of the election that can provide the information needed to ensure that elections insiders cannot, and have not, manipulated the election. Absent a clear statement by the legislature, the parties should not be denied access to this crucial information to carry out their traditional role of ensuring the public's political rights. Certainly no tortured interpretation of outdated language regarding computer technology from a statute written in the 1980s should be allowed to deny the people access to their election data, only a clear and unambiguous expression from the legislature should be able to do that.
The position of Pima County, however, is that the database requested must remain confidential.
They argue that providing the database to the political parties would violate the standards promulgated by the Arizona Secretary of State because the files contain procedural information and code that is used to program elections machines, and could reveal information that might compromise future elections. The county agrees that the Diebold GEMS software used to tabulate votes has serious security flaws, but that is all the more reason to not allow the information in the database into the public domain...