Public Disinformation Campaign Continues with North County Times Article
By Emily Levy on 7/23/2006, 10:44am PT  

Guest blogged by Emily Levy of the California Election Protection Network and the CA-50 Action Committee

While San Diego's North County Times could have been reporting on Friday's protest outside the Registrar of Voters' office, instead the NCTimes donated its column-inches to the noble cause of further misinforming the public about the June 6 election debacle and the people's fight for democracy.

In Recount fee goes unpaid: San Diego Registrar says no recount happening in 50th District race, staff writer Erin Schultz appears satisfied to report Registrar of Voters Mikel Haas's lies as fact:

A voter's request for a recount of the June 6 special election ballots from the 50th Congressional District has been halted because the woman requesting the recount did not pay a required fee, the San Diego County Registrar's office said this week.

The poor woman went to all the trouble of filing for a hand count under the recount provision and then didn't bother to pay the fee, eh? Not so fast. It just might be relevant to mention that it was an improperly required fee. The only fees the Registrar of Voters' office is allowed to charge are the actual costs of a recount. The exorbitant $6,000 demanded by the RoV's office as a deposit for the first day’s counting should have been reduced significantly when the voter requesting the recount advised the RoV that no counting panel would be needed on the first day, as she was still awaiting documents needed in order to proceed with the recount. Haas has failed to provide these documents despite Barbara Gail Jacobsen’s being legally entitled to have them and despite—or perhaps because of—their significance to the recount.

And why weren't the documents provided? What is Haas trying to hide?

San Diego resident Barbara Jacobson earlier this month requested a hand recount of the more than 158,000 ballots cast in the June 6 runoff election to replace former Congressman Randy "Duke" Cunningham. Republican Brian Bilbray beat Democratic opponent Francine Busby by more than 5 percentage points in the special election runoff.

It might be true that Brian Bilbray beat Francine Busby by more than five percentage points. But neither reporter Schultz nor RoV Haas knows that. No one will know who won this election until the paper ballots and paper trails have been counted by hand. It’s time for the media to stop reporting as fact claims that they cannot verify. This election was held on uncertified and therefore illegal voting machines. Votes cast on illegal machines are votes illegally cast.

As CA-50 Action Committee Coordinator Judy Hess pointed out in her speech at the protest the NCTimes failed to cover on Friday, "[N]one of us actually cast legal votes. Instead, we all engaged in an exercise which looked like voting, and felt like voting, but was not, in fact, and as a matter of law, actual voting." Her full speech is worth reading (and you can find it at the bottom of this post).

The recount request was one of a number of public calls for scrutiny of the voting machines used in the June 6 runoff. Election reformers argue that the voting machines were vulnerable to tampering and, therefore, the election results are not valid. But they have not pointed to proof that tampering took place.

"Election reformers" who understand that these Diebold machines are vulnerable to tampering include SOS McPherson’s leading computer scientist, David Jefferson, who says the optical scan machines used in the San Diego election are guilty of "the most serious vulnerability that we've ever seen in a voting system."

No proof of tampering is necessary here. The machines having been exposed to the risk of tampering that would be undetectable is enough to decertify them for use in the election, according to California Secretary of State Bruce McPherson’s own conditional certification of the Diebold machines .

If it’s no problem to conduct an election on illegal voting machines, why is the State bothering to certify voting machines in the first place? Why not use a toaster to process votes? That would at least make it clearer that at this point our democracy is toast!

Haas has said registrars across the state frequently let precinct captains take the machines home before an election, so they will be able to have machines at polling places early on election day.

Officials with the Secretary of State's office have said there is no law prohibiting such a practice.

As The BRAD BLOG has previously pointed out, there’s no law prohibiting setting fire to voting machines, either. But there are legal requirements in place that would make both of these acts illegal.

Yes, electronic voting machines have been sent home with poll workers in the past. But that was before new state and federal regulations issued earlier this year, which make voting machine sleepovers no longer viable, legal or secure. Why would Haas fail to mention that minor detail? What is he hiding? Can you say "C-Y-A?"

…[T]he CA-50 Action Committee is forming to collect money to legally challenge the registrar. The group does not necessarily plan to call for a recount, said spokeswoman Judy Hess.

Just a quick note on that one. Notice the sentence construction? This group of hard-working, committed volunteers has what purpose? To "collect money...." Not quite. The purpose of the CA-50 Action Committee is to promote election integrity, not to collect money.

"This is not necessarily about challenging the outcome [of the election]," Hess said in a phone interview Friday. "This is about the fact that we contend our elections were not valid."

In other words, the CA-50 Action Committee, of which I am a member, is not claiming that the announced outcome of the election is incorrect. We are not claiming that Francine Busby won. We are claiming—declaring, in fact—that no one knows who won the election. We are absolutely challenging the announcement of an outcome when none can be verified.

The article quotes alleged defeated candidate Francine Busby as saying:

"The most important thing is that people in San Diego County can have full confidence in the voting process."

If Busby is correctly quoted here then she’s missing a crucial point. The most important thing is not that voters have full confidence, but that there be a basis for confidence. Public confidence can be manufactured by government disinformation such as has become Mikel Haas’s hobby of late and media disinformation such as Schultz’s article. But a disinformed yet confident public does not a democracy make. We deserve and demand transparent, verifiable elections.

Contact Erin Schultz at (760) 739-6644 or eschultz@nctimes.com. To comment, go to nctimes.com .

Now there’s something in the article I can agree with! Did you get that? “Contact Erin Schultz.” Tell her how confident you’re feeling about your democracy these days. And while you’re at it, tell her how confident you feel about the media when it reports facts it cannot independently verify.

***

Here is the full text of the speech delivered by Judy Hess on July 21, 2006.

Hello, and thank you for coming to this Rally to support our rights as voters.

My name is Judy Hess, and I am the Coordinator of the CA 50 Action Committee, an organization formed to respond to the security failures in the June 6 Primary and Special Election in the 50th District of the State of California.

As you may know, members of the CA 50 Action Committee and other voting integrity groups appeared before the County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday to ask that they have open hearings about those security vulnerabilities. I was not allowed to complete my statement before the Board, and I would like to share it with you now.

I am Judith Hess, Precinct Leader for Precinct # 532870 and Poll Watcher there.

On June 6, 2006, we went to our polling places and filled out the appropriate spaces on our paper ballots, and fed those ballots into the optical scanners. However, it is my belief that none of us actually cast legal votes. Instead, we all engaged in an exercise which looked like voting, and felt like voting, but was not, in fact, and as a matter of law, actual voting.

The reason is this: before our optical scanners and touch screen machines arrived at the polls, they had been technically decertified by the removal, days and weeks before, of these machines from the safekeeping of the Registrar of Voters. They went into homes, garages and cars, and stayed there until the morning of the election. These security breaches rendered them decertified by Federal and State standards.

Moreover, these particular machines—the optical scanners on which almost all of our votes were counted have profound security vulnerabilities.

One person, in one minute, can hack this model, change the results of an entire election and leave NO trace of the hacking.

At my polling place at Olympic View Elementary School in Eastlake Greens, we shared space in the school auditorium with Precinct No. 533120.

My polling place opened promptly and efficiently at 7am.

However the optical scanners, ballots and all other equipment needed by Precinct No. 533120 were absent without leave.

They remained absent until 11:18 am while a parade of horribles took place.

The person delivering everything could not be found. Pollworkers at the direction of the Registrar of Voters made 3 attempts to meet with the individual who had the equipment—at a Lowe's parking lot, at an IHOP parking lot, and in front of a 7/11 store directly across the street from Southwestern College, but the poll workers returned to the auditorium, each time empty handed and unhappy. This individual simply did not show up at the rendezvous points. I was told by a poll worker that they understood the Registrar was about to have the police search for her.

Ultimately the machines arrived, and the polls opened a few minutes after noon. But no one can know where they had been, for how long, or what had happened to them.

I submit to you representative photographs of events as I personally recorded them.

I point out that I am a Democrat, but the Precinct on whose behalf I speak today is predominantly Republican. This is an American issue, not a partisan one.

I submit to you that having these voting machines out of the custody of our Registrar and rendered insecure and decertified is a violation of the sanctity of our most fundamental democratic process.

I urge you to investigate these sleepovers, and the entire voting process in San Diego County for November, lest we again engage in what a court of law may later deem a sham exercise.

This story tells us that we need the CA 50 Action Committee.

We have formed to make all of our votes matter. We have formed to call this Registrar to account. We have formed to make sure that this election fiasco cannot happen again, and we are prepared to take whatever legal action is necessary to make our voting process secure.

The June 6 Congressional Election in the 50th District was the first in the election cycle of 2006, when we will, as a nation, decide our collective future, in a time of great world peril.

This San Diego County elective process, with hackable machines in homes, cars and who knows where, is no way to start the cycle with 435 House Seats will be on the ballot in November.

Therefore, the CA 50 Action Committee has drawn a line in the sand.

We will make San Diego County an example for the rest of our great nation, and we declare that:

“WE WILL FIGHT THIS BATTLE HERE, SO WE DON’T HAVE TO FIGHT IT ALL OVER THE COUNTRY IN NOVEMBER!”

We are getting real help. Brad Friedman of BRAD BLOG is telling our story, and we are putting it out to the press regularly.

National Attention has been drawn to San Diego County and our Election Machine Sleepovers.

Lou Dobbs has shown film of the machines in a garage, and found this frightening and unacceptable.

Court TV's Catherine Crier featured the San Diego County Sleepovers in an excellent overview of the election integrity issues.

Yesterday, she had Brad, a founding member of CA 50, on her program with Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. to talk about these election issues.

We will take action. We ask for the support and help of Republicans, Democrats, Libertarians, Greens—all voters who want our elections to be secure and transparent.

But we need your help. Please go to our website www.nosleepovers.org and join us. There is a Contributions link on our website, and also a store to buy logo merchandise.

This fight will be costly. We need your help. All donations are needed and welcome. Please be as generous as you can afford to be.

Our democracy is depending on you.

Thank you.

If you have enjoyed this post, you may also enjoy the following related items:

in which Winter Patriot deconstructs a piece of so-called journalism from the San Diego Union-Tribune: SD Union-Tribune: 'Reliability of voting machines questioned' / Brad Blog: Reliability of U-T 'news article' questioned!

in which Brad debunks Haas' most commonly used bits of disinformation: Dear Mikel Haas: Please Stop Lying to the Media and Your Constituents (Who You Are Supposed to be Serving)…

UPDATE {from WP}: Many thanks to "kenelson" for posting a link to the current location of the NCTimes article. I have updated Emily's piece accordingly. Please note that you can leave comments about this article at the bottom of this page. You can also send feedback directly to the author, Erin Schultz, at eschultz@nctimes.com. And we hope that you will do so.