After an amazingly encouraging week or two, we head into the July 4th weekend with a whole bunch of stuff we've been trying to clear off our desk. Plus: Lots of breaking news and an encouraging ending for the weekend...
Couldn't find many more on this topic this week. Guess ensuring that legal voters can actually cast their ballot this November isn't all that important. On the other hand, there are dozens of toons this week about that guy who said some stuff and who also happens to know someone that's running for President (to paraphrase Jon Stewart on the Rev. Wright nonsense).
Indiana’s use of a wide range of voting systems and some produced by smaller vendors has historically proved to be problematic. There is no reason to expect next Tuesday’s primary to be anything different. North Carolina seems to have gotten past their issues with voting machines. It would be great if neither state had problems. One can only hope....
As I've been trying to help people understand, this Indiana polling place Photo ID restriction law, as upheld last week by the Supreme Court, is so much worse than most folks realize right now.
It is, as previously predicted, already beginning to spread like wildfire to other states, such as Missouri, where the Republicans control both legislature and state house, and where even a few thousand legal Democratic votes, shaved cynically off of the results in places like the city of St. Louis next November, can be the difference between the state going "red" instead of "blue."
The following remarkable tale of a U.S. Army vet who has fought in three conflicts for our country, and who has won multiple medals for his service, including two bronze stars, purple heart, etc., who has been registered to vote since 1968, but who is now having a helluva time being able to cast a ballot in Indiana, will likely become all too typical now. The report comes from from the Nuvo weekly in the Hoosier state, and was sent in by BRAD BLOG reader "RC."
It is absolutely maddening, at least to those of us who give a damn about American values, such as democracy, the U.S. Constitution, patriotism, love of country, etc., so it may mean little to the vast majority of Republicans out there today. Please, at least, read the lede to the story below and --- if you're a Republican who supports this anti-American bullshit --- please let us know, in comments, why why this sort of treatment of our troops is okay with you. All of this, despite Indiana's own admission during the SCOTUS hearing, that there has never been, in the state's entire history, a single known instance of polling place voter impersonation fraud of the type this law is supposedly meant to keep from happening...
The mysteries keep piling up around the Sequoia voting machines used in New Jersey. This time Princeton University computer scientist Ed Felten has uncovered a phantom vote for Obama in summary tapes from three voting machines used in the state's February 5th primary in Pennsauken District 6.
See Kim Zetter's WIRED report for the details, where, incidentally, she notes, "no problem shows up for the Republican primary numbers."
Yesterday Cuyahoga Co announced that in preparation for a lawsuit against Diebold/Premier they were going to have their old DRE voting system inspected by Systest Labs. This is a clear conflict of interest because Systest is presently testing the new Premier Assure voting system for EAC certification. Today the news from Ohio is that Secretary of State Brunner wants to get rid of the requirement that voting systems used in Ohio must be federally tested against the voting systems standards and federally certified. She wants the state to hire a lab to do the work [is there any doubt which lab?] for the state and to the state’s standards. Today’s news was accompanied by a statement that Brunner wants to eliminate the need to have the equipment also meet federal standards for accuracy, security, and reliability. What the reporter, or more likely whomever he spoke with in Brunner’s office, does not understand is that accuracy is a mandate of federal law. HAVA dictates the accuracy of voting machines; not the voluntary voting system standards....
A small plane, carrying the co-founder of Venezuelan voting machine company Smartmatic, crashed earlier this week shortly after take-off from the Caracas airport, killing two employees of the company, and several others on board and on the ground. The initial reports from a foreign paper indicated that the cause of the crash may have been the unusual failure of both engines on the small plane.
Smartmatic has been named as a subject in several recent, exclusive, investigative reports here at The BRAD BLOG, surrounding questions of the Venezuelan firm's apparent continuing control over the American e-voting company, Sequoia Voting Systems.
Reports of Monday's crash also indicate that several highly-placed Venezuelan officials were, interestingly, among the first to respond after the plane crashed.
A founding partner of the Smartmatic voting system, headquartered in Boca Raton, was killed this week in Venezuela when a private plane he was traveling in plummeted into a home near the Caracas airport.
Alfredy Jose Anzola Jaumotte, 34, one of the creators of the voting system program, died at an area hospital Tuesday.
Also killed in the accident were the pilot, Mario Jose Donadi, a convicted drug-trafficker in both the United States and Venezuela; Smartmatic employee Eduardo Ramirez and two residents of the home that was struck by the falling aircraft at about 10 a.m. Monday
Smartmatic is the once-owner and --- as a very recent series of investigative reports from The BRAD BLOG has revealed (see, most notably: here, here and here) --- the still-controlling parent company to Oakland/Denver-based Sequoia Voting Systems, which is currently amidst a hostile takeover imbroglio with competitor Hart InterCivic of Austin, TX.
Despite claiming to have sold Sequoia to a management-led buyout team last November, and thus divested of all control of the company under pressure from an investigation by the U.S. Treasury Departments Commission of Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), our recent exclusive investigative reports here have revealed that Smartmatic still holds direct and/or indirect control over several key aspects of Sequoia's operation, including ownership of the intellectual property (IP) rights for Sequoia's voting machines and tabulator software, and the right to negotiate where Sequoia may or may not compete in foreign markets...
Any job applicant knows that background checks are routine – especially for jobs involving authority or oversight of money. So why didn’t the San Diego Republican Party do a simple Google search before naming Tony Krvaric as its chairman?
...Or did they?...
Online research reveals that Krvaric is the co-founder of Fairlight, a band of software crackers which later evolved into an international video and software piracy group that law enforcement authorities say is among the world’s largest such crime rings.
...Well, go figure.
That skill set should come in very handy down there in, of all places, San Diego, where the far-right Republican Board of Supes, and the far-right Republican Registrar of Voters office, have never met a hackable Diebold electronic voting system they didn't love.
I recall "Strider" (Krvaric) and the "Fairlight" boyz from my own C-64 and BBS "warez" swapping days in the late 80's. Those guys, and the other incredibly competitive pirate crews, could crack anything, anytime, usually within minutes after a new piece of software hit the market (and often, even before it did!).
But no doubt, the air-tight, mission-critical, impenetrablesecurity in Diebold's voting systems would be beyond the reach of d00dz like Strider and friends. And, of course, there's far more to gain by a 17-year-old "Strider" cracking the codes of, say, International Karate Plus and Shoot 'em Up Construction Kit than there ever would be for him, as county GOP chair, to hack an election in San Diego, right? I mean, what would possibly be the upside to that?
Miriam Raftery's excellent two-part investigative exclusive for RAW STORY (and for me, at least, a trip down memory lane) is here (Part 1) and here (Part 2).
Prices now slashed in The BRAD BLOG's Fund Drive! Please support our continuing coverage of your election system, as found nowhere else. Click here for a number of cool new collector's edition Premium products now available starting at just $5!
In this space in yesterday’s DVN I made comments about “Women’s Voices; Women Vote” and their actions, as reported by the media, in North Carolina. Some readers have responded in defense of “WVWV.” Until yesterday I had not heard of that organization but the media reports that I read led me to believe that voters in NC were very possibly being disenfranchised by robo-calls made by this group. As I make every attempt possible to keep this space non-partisan I did not mention any names. Since yesterday’s DVN “WVWV’s” actions seem to have become a partisan issue. I regret the involvement of DVN in this issue, though I do want to condemn the use of robo-calls by any organization no matter whom they are supporting or what their goal. ...
Faced with extraordinarily bad press concerning her company's failed voting machines, which a NJ judge has now ordered to be independently examined (decidedly not by the "blonde nymph"-seeking dude Sequoia originally employed for their own "independent examination"), an impending hostile takeover by competitor Hart InterCivic, and her own boss's recent admission that the company doesn't even control the intellectual property rights to its own voting machines, Sequoia Voting Systems VP of Communications & External Affairs (and part owner), Michelle Shafer, has been left fairly desperate to find some "good news" lately with which to try and fool the company's clients.
But Never-Say-Die Shafer doesn't give up the ghost easily. So in a quick, if somewhat sad, bottom-of-the-barrel scraping article posted to her "Ballot Blog" at the Sequoia website this week, she attempted to trumpet the "Keystone State Success" for Sequoia, following last week's PA primary.
"Pennsylvania elections went very well last week," she writes. "We’ve had a chance to check in with our customers in York, Montgomery and Northampton counties, and it looks like it was a successful primary for all of them," blogged Shafer, before going on to quote the "success" of the company's voting systems, as reported by two different PA newspapers.
One selective quote, from one of the papers, sings the praises of Sequoia's AVC Advantage e-voting machines (the same ones which were found to have failed to tabulate votes correctly in NJ's recent Super Tuesday primary), because "Even the older people liked them."
But the same papers Shafer selectively quoted from also offered not-so-wonderful stories about the "success" of the company's machines in Pennsylvania.
Here's what Shafer --- who may as well tattoo a permanent "Kick Me!" sign on her back at this point --- seems to have forgotten to quote, from the very same articles she pointed to, in her blog item about them...
TARPON SPRINGS, Fla. - Florida authorities confirmed that Deborah Jeane Palfrey, convicted of running a high-end prostitution ring in Washington, is dead in a suspected suicide, NBC News reported.
The body of the 52-year-old woman was found in a shed near her mother's mobile home Thursday morning in Tarpon Springs, about 20 miles northwest of Tampa.
Palfrey, known as the "D.C. Madam," was convicted April 15 by a federal jury of running a prostitution service that catered to members of Washington's political elite, including Sen. David Vitter, R-La.
Palfrey faced a maximum of 55 years in prison and was free pending her sentencing July 24.
One of the escort service employees was former University of Maryland, Baltimore County, professor Brandy Britton, who was arrested on prostitution charges in 2006. She committed suicide in January before she was scheduled to go to trial.
Last year, Palfrey said she, too, was humiliated by her prostitution charges, but said: "I guess I'm made of something that Brandy Britton wasn't made of."
Palfrey had, at times, cooperated with The BRAD BLOG, serving as a reliable source for various reports as her story unfolded. We send our condolences to both her family and friends.
UPDATE:Monica Hess at WaPo notes Palfrey's death by hanging, and asks "Why do we feel so sad?":
Maybe we feel sad because of the gendered irony. The powerful men whose names surfaced in the scandal, the ones who did not appear in the courtroom, who did not have to discuss their menstrual cycles publicly, have all remained unscathed.
David Vitter is still that good-looking junior senator from Louisiana. Harlan K. Ullman (creator of "shock and awe") is listed as a senior associate on the Web site of the Center for Strategic and International Studies. Former State Department official Randall L. Tobias, who previously oversaw AIDS relief, promoting abstinence and a policy requiring grant recipients to swear they opposed prostitution, slunk back to Indiana after his resignation. There, he was appointed president of the board of the Indianapolis Airport Authority. The city's mayor said that America "believed in second chances."
She would have been thinking that she provided a legitimate service --- that college-educated women answered her City Paper ads of their own free will, and that men contacted her of theirs. She would have been thinking that if this was a crime at all, it was surely a victimless one between consenting adults. (Do we feel sad because, deep down, we think that she's right?)
We've never been contacted by the makers of HBO's upcoming Recount film, which promises to be a theatrical re-telling of the 2000 Presidential Election Debacle in Florida. Yet, we'll chalk it up to one helluva/swelluva coincidence, that the preview for the film, as seen below, happens to use The BRAD BLOG's own personal "theme song," Stuck in the Middle With You. Go figure...
HBO's film begins airing May 25, and while we hate to give away the ending, Al Gore won [PDF].
Of course, that's only if one bothers to count all of the ballots actually successfully cast (if not counted) in the state of Florida, as a media and academic consortium did, as seen at the link above, revealing that by every possible chad-counting standard (hanging, pregnant, swinging, etc.) Al Gore received more votes than George W. Bush. Period.
That might help to explain why Bush had to go to his friends on the Supreme Court to get them not to allow the ballots to be counted, in one of the most remarkably liberal acts of judicial activism, undercutting states' rights, in the history of this nation.
But we're guessing the film has that other, less accurate ending, implying that Bush actual "won" Florida (which he didn't).
In either case, since the myths of the FL 2000 election are likely to be re-debated afresh with the release of HBO's film, we wanted to a) Offer the link above (showing that Gore received more votes in FL than Bush) and b) Remind you, and the entirety of the corporate mainstream media, which ignored it when the following report first aired, that the chads on those ballots in Florida hung for a reason. As 7 former employees of Sequoia Voting Systems, the company which produced FL's paper ballots in 2000, attest on-camera, they were forced by company superiors to use inferior paper for those ballots, only the ones going to Florida, and were further ordered to misalign the chads on those paper ballots, but only for those going to Dem stronghold Palm Beach County.
That, after decades of producing ballots which never featured a hanging chad.
If you've yet to see it, here's the mind-blowing section of Dan Rather's remarkable HDNet report which aired last summer, but was picked up by absolutely nobody in the CMSM thereafter. If you can't watch the following, the transcript is posted here. But if you've not seen this one yet, please prepare to be amazed, and appalled...