By Brad Friedman on 8/18/2008, 3:53pm PT  

Blogged by Brad from the road...

A lot of voting zeitgeist in the media of late. What took ya so long, folks? Wanted to wait until it was largely too damned late to do anything about it? Same story. New year.

In any case, on the road to Denver right now, so time enough only to round up some of the most notable must-reads on everything from: The GOP "voter fraud" scam growing in intensity between here and November (a theme I'll also be discussing in my column for the UK's Guardian this week); Election officials finally acknowledging their machines don't work, but remaining unwilling to correctly place the blame or otherwise do much about it; Faint glimmers of actual improvement at the previously dreadful U.S. Elections Assistance Commission (EAC); A bit of news from the "Rove Cybergate" election fraud case in OH, and; The one phrase you'll want to get very well familiar with between here and November 2 (hint: my name is in it, but it has nothing to do with me.)

Read on...

The GOP "Voter Fraud" Scam on the Rise...

"ClammyC" over at dKos continues as one of a very few responsible bloggers to deal with this issue over at that site. Check out his very smart "'Voter fraud' = 'we will suppress the vote'" piece which picks up on the always smart "D-Day" over at Digby, who, in turn, highlights again the whole GOP "voter fraud" canard that we've been pounding on since, oh, early 2005 or so.

Writes D-Day: "With an uninspiring candidate, an enthusiasm gap and a host of fundamentals against them, obstruction and suppression is really all the Republicans have left," which links to a WSJ article on the "prospects for [Democratic voter] fraud in Virginia and Pennsylvania."

Says D-Day in reply: "Read: we're [the GOP] going to lose Virginia and Pennsylvania unless we invalidate hundreds of thousands of legal votes through bogus voter fraud claims."

I'll recommend clicking on all of the above links, as D-Day concludes, in a theme I've written about for my UK Guardian column this week, "The roar of voter fraud will reach its loudest din in the next few months." You bet it will.

E-Voting Broken, EAC Improving (Moderately)...

Then there's the voting machine business, about which election officials around the country are finally acknolwedging a problem. Some of them. But as John Gideon noted on Sunday, they continue to misplace the blame and/or refuse to get accountability from the folks (namely, the voting machine companies) who sold them a bill of goods and crappy, untested machines in the first place. Unfortunately, they received a bit of assistance in misplacing that blame by the NYTimes article on the matter that Gideon's piece quotes from.

I rarely have much positive to say about the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, but on their new and more rigorous certification testing procedures, they are right to take as long as is needed. That voting machine companies and elections officials alike are blaming the EAC for taking too long in the process of testing new systems is quite simply laughable and outrageous. Apparently those two groups prefer that the same testing procedures that allowed this junk to get on the market in the first place (which is to say, almost no testing at all) be reinstated. The Times piece suggests that election officials actually believe the voting machine companies (again), when they argue that all their woes would be fixed by a new generation of machines (machines that are failing, yet again, in federal testing!).

I'm happy to give new EAC chair Rosemary Rodriguez a hat-tip for sticking to her guns, and allowing federal testers to take all the time they need to do things right --- or something approximating that --- this time around. While the EAC is still a woeful organization, wholly failed in its mission as set forth in the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) of 2002, there have been a number of positive, if incremental, changes under Rodriguez' leadership.

That's an encouraging sign given the disaster the Commission had become (calling it "a joke" would be too kind) following the resignation of its first chair, Rev. DeForest Soaries. The Republican Bush-appointee quit after he came to learn that the entire premise for the organization was regarded as little more than a nuisance by the folks in D.C. who set it up (Congress, Bush). As we noted, exclusively unfortunately, in 2006, Soaries believed there were no standards in place for e-voting systems and that the systems in place were "ripe for stealing elections." Of course, few either noticed or cared at the time, no matter how loudly we tried to yell and scream about it.

Then there's CBS, which, as usual, brings up the rear with its too little, too late coverage. (Which part of the word "new" do you guys not understand in the phrase "CBS News"?)

"I think the equipment is gonna be fine, it's the other issues that give me nightmares," Rodriguez is quoted as saying, in the CBS package that ran over the weekend (embedded at right). I'll hope that comment was taken out of context and/or part of what she believes her job is in trying to offer confidence to the electorate, even though zero --- absolutely zero --- confidence should be had in these systems at this point.

Nonetheless, as to not folding to pressure from officials and private voting machine corporations that want the feds to ease up on the testing: Please stick to your guns, Ms. Rodriguez! The election officials and voting machine companies that own them (and your woefully compromised Executive Director, Tom Wilkey, to boot) can all go to straight to hell!

[UPDATE: E-voting watchdog Bev Harris notes in comments that Gracia Hillman, along with Rodriguez, the other Democratic appointee to the Commission, has issued a rebuttal statement to the Times making it clear that she's in favor of allowing any uncertified, untested piece of voting machine crap to be used by anybody. See Hillman's outrageous reply here.]

As expected, the e-vote company spokesholes continue to simply lie to the public and the news media. Though the lackluster comments reported by CBS from Diebold's spokesman, Chris Riggall (yes, that's actually the unfortunate name of Diebold's current spokesman!), show that the bar has reached an all time low. In regard to the lawsuit OH SoS Jennifer Brunner has filed against the company for its machines' failure to count untold number of votes, here's the best Riggall could do:

"We are in fact in compliance with the terms of the contracts," says Chris Riggall, a spokesman for Premier [Diebold], which has voting equipment in 34 states.

"We have provided a high-quality system," Riggall says.

That's some high praise there. Over at ES&S, they are still satisfied with simply out-and-out lying about their voting systems:

"Touch-screen voting machines have proven to be accurate, reliable, and secure time and time again," says Ken Fields, a spokesman for ES&S.

Fields says the ES&S equipment deployed in 43 states complies "with rigorous standards for quality, accuracy, security, and reliability."

Those comments, writ large, are utter and demonstrable lies which should have been challenged by CBS.'s John Bonifaz, as usual, gets it right in his comments to the Tiffany Network, as seen in the written version of its report:

"What has happened since Florida 2000 is we've taken a problem that was a disaster for that election and made it exponentially worse," says John Bonifaz, legal director of the watchdog Voter Action.

"These machines cannot be trusted for the counting and recording of our votes," Bonifaz says. "Computer scientists around the country have demonstrated that in less than 60 seconds one of these machines can be broken into and can infect the entire system on which people are voting."

Those are the cold, hard facts, Jack, as we head towards November 2nd. Though there was one hopeful nugget in CBS' report:

[D]oubts about touch-screens have reached the point that ES&S, Premier [Diebold], and Sequoia tell CBS News they're no longer getting any new orders for counties switching their systems to touch-screens.


McClatchy News Service's excellent reporter Greg Gordon cuts to the quick on many of these same points on Friday in "Did Washington waste millions on faulty voting machines?" Uh, yeah, do ya think?

Meanwhile, Back in Ohio...

Speaking of OH SoS Jennifer Brunner, she's recently filed, along with the OH AG, a motion opposing plaintiff's motion to lift the stay in the King Lincoln Bronzewell v. Sec. of State case alleging violations of the voting rights act in the Buckey State in 2004 under previous SoS J. Kenneth Blackwell. The motion to lift the stay was filed by plaintiff's attorneys, Cliff Arnebeck and Bob Fitrakis, seeking to allow them to depose Karl Rove, GOP IT guru Mike Connell, members of the Rapp Family (owners of Triad, a computer firm that managed elections in many OH counties in 2004), and others.

We've covered the new developments in the King Lincoln case in several recent articles:

And we'll kick it over to John Michael Spinelli, who covers the SoS/AG response to the motion. (Note to our friend "Spin": The concern here, as referenced in your headline, is not "voter fraud," but rather Election Fraud! The voters are doing fine. Please leave them alone!)

Hat-tip to BRAD BLOG commenter "Paladin Must Go" for bringing Spin's latest piece to our attention. Though we take issue with a few points made by PMG, we appreciate the tip, and his/her comments are certainly worth reading.

In a related item (which deserves more coverage than we have time for at the moment), Steve Heller over at has unearthed an interview with Republican cyber-security expert Stephen Spoonamore, who has been tapped by Arnebeck as an expert witness in the Ohio case. The interview on the fraud capacity of Ohio's voting machines, taped in 2006 by a network correspondent, has never been seen. Until now.

[DISCLOSURE: The BRAD BLOG is a co-founder of VR, who has been supporting Arnebeck's efforts there. VR has now dedicated a page in support of the Rove CyberGate matter.]

And Finally...Please Learn This Phrase Right Now!

If you don't know what it is, do yourself a favor and read up on "The Bradley Effect" now.

No matter what the reason, no matter what happens in the upcoming Presidential Election, should Obama end up losing, you will hear that phrase used endlessly to explain the loss. Whether it can legitimately explain such a loss will make no difference, it will be one of the key reasons used to explain it, accurate or not.

I'm sorry to say, I have a feeling you're likely going to be hearing that phrase a lot between now and November and, should the worst comes to pass, that phrase will be on the lips of every media (and blogosphere) pundit in the world for days and weeks thereafter as history and conventional wisdom are quickly concreted. Read up on it now. Weep about it later.

Remember, polls --- be they pre-election or exit polls --- mean nothing anymore to the mainstream corporate media. At least when they are found to be in conflict with the reported results of an election. As a well-regarded pollster recently told me off record, "Election results are the gold standard when it comes to polls." And, it seems, he actually believed that. Guess he hadn't read much of The BRAD BLOG.

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