Dems Claim 'Behind-the-Scenes' Effort, But No Evidence Offered to Support It...
By Brad Friedman on 10/26/2008, 8:01pm PT  

-- Brad Friedman, The BRAD BLOG

We've been reporting for the past week on what we see as the dismal failure of the DNC/Obama's much-vaunted team of "thousands of attorneys" ready to pounce on any reported problems in the electoral system around the country. In one article after another, we've reported here on votes being flipped on completely unverifiable Direct Recording Electronic (DRE, usually touch-screen) voting machines from Democratic candidates over to Republicans and others. We've so far reported on that occurring in 4 different states, and have since received reports from at least two more on different DRE systems doing the same thing, which we're trying to confirm and/or report here as soon as possible.

We've had to report on Democrats in PA being sued by the NAACP, because neither the DNC nor the Obama campaign was willing to stand up for voters to demand that emergency paper ballots be made available to voters in PA before every machine in a precinct breaks down, as decreed a month ago from PA's Democratic Sec. of the Commonwealth.

We haven't even had time to report that the Republicans have attempted to intervene in the case, to take the side of the PA Democrats to keep paper ballots from being given to voters. (Republicans' Motion to Intervene here [PDF] Note: it's incorrectly labeled as a "motion to intervene on behalf of plaintiffs," but it's actually a "motion to intervene on behalf of defendants," the Democrats.) How far are the state Dems off the mark, when Republicans agree with them on a matter like this? And yet, Obama and the DNC have done nothing over the past month to fight on behalf of the voters who, as we saw during the Primary mess in PA earlier this year, will surely find themselves unable to cast votes at all, in thousands of cases, due to machines that simply do not work.

We've taken no joy in any of that criticism, or in our assertion that the effort appears to be a slightly beefed-up version of John Kerry's 2004 effort. But as an independent election integrity advocate and journalist, supporting the voters rather than any of the Presidential candidates, we've had little choice.

But now, it seems, the Obama/DNC has finally come out of hiding to share what they are doing. Unfortunately, they just can't tell us what that is...

It's a Secret We Cannot Know or See ---
Just Like Votes on a Touch-Screen Machine

My colleague Steven Rosenfeld, over at AlterNet, who, after previously reporting the DNC's limp efforts at dealing with concerns about electronic vote counts some weeks ago, today offers an explanation from the DNC as to what they claim they are doing to protect your vote.

Turns out, they're doing plenty, if you believe the DNC. They're just doing it in complete secrecy "behind the scenes," offering no evidence for it, while all of the actual available evidence to the contrary that we can see with our own eyes is to be completely ignored, apparently.

As those I've spoken with in the DNC and Obama camps know, I'll be more than happy to report on what they are doing on these counts, but we don't take people's words for it around here anymore than we ask people to take ours. We offer evidence. If you have any, I'll be happy to share it with readers here, but I've yet to find any and none was given --- beyond words --- in Steve's article.

So, please go read Steve's article, which quotes some of my criticism of the DNC/Obama efforts from past articles here.

Then come back and read my response below as, unfortunately, Steve didn't initially offer me the opportunity to respond directly to the assertions made by the DNC as posted in the article. He's said he'd tack on my response to the end of his AlterNet piece shortly. But in either case, my response, in full, follows below...

While the work my colleague Steve Rosenfeld did in putting some of the DNC folks on record here is to be commended, a closer examination of the comments and documents reported from Justin Levitt, the DNC's National Voter Protection Counsel, offer a lot of distracting smoke, and little, if any, actual substance to back up the claims made that, as Levitt is quoted, "Our election protection effort, including our e-voting team, are prepared to respond rapidly and effectively to issues as they arise, including any issues involving technology."

While there is evidence to back up the claims of some of the limited efforts made to stop some of the GOP voter suppression efforts in MI and MT, for example, there is absolutely no evidence offered to substantiate the claim Levitt makes that the DNC or the Obama campaign is "responding in real-time" to the many issues of voting machine failures now being reported in a number of states, including WV, TN, TX, MO, NV and elsewhere.

He claims, in the report, that Obama/DNC attorneys are "often behind the scenes, but always active." That assertion mirrors similar ones I've received from other higher-ups in the DNC election protection hierarchy. But with each such claim, I continue to ask for evidence to back up that "behind the scenes" work and have, to date, been given none. To the contrary, all evidence that I have been able to gather demonstrates that precisely nothing is being done, at least when it comes to the concerns about the wholly unverifiable electronic voting machines being used to count approximately one third of the votes that will be cast this year.

The NAACP has even been forced to go to court to sue the Democratic Secretary of the Commonwealth in PA, after he decreed that paper ballots only need be given out if every machine in a precinct breaks down. The Obama/DNC team did nothing for more than a month, until the NAACP finally had to sue last week, and the Republicans joined the Democratic state officials in fighting the suit to require paper ballots if just a majority of machines break down (as so many did during PA's primary, disenfranchising countless thousands).

I'm pleased to see that the DNC has created a database of jurisdictions, equipment used, security procedures and laws in each of the thousands of counties, cities and townships in the country, as I had recommended when addressing their lead attorneys on these very issues at the DNC's 2006 summer meeting in Chicago.

I have little doubt that their efforts, and their "thousands of attorneys", are an improvement over similarly lacking efforts by John Kerry and the DNC in 2004. Nonetheless, until actual evidence is offered --- any evidence --- to back up the claims of the super-secret, behind-the-scenes effort in what should be a 100% transparent democracy, you'll pardon me if I remain not just exceedingly skeptical, but downright furious at the party's brazen willingness to allow millions of votes to go either uncounted, incorrectly recorded, or recorded in such a way that is 100% unverifiable by any human being.

Rosenfeld quotes from a DNC memo which asserts, among other things, that "We've been monitoring voting machines to ensure that they record the vote accurately."

Well, that's swell, but I'd love to know how they are able to monitor that even a single vote, ever cast on any Direct Recording Electronic (DRE, usually touch-screen) voting machine is being "accurately" recorded. I would love a single piece of evidence to prove that any vote, ever cast on such a device --- with or without a so-called "paper trail" sometimes attached to it --- has ever been recorded accurately during any election, for any candidate or initiative on the ballot. As I'm sure Levitt knows, no such evidence exists. To suggest otherwise is an insult to their voters, and to all voters.

To make matters worse, those same 100% unverifiable voting machines are now losing votes entirely and flipping untold others from Democratic candidates to Republican candidates and others in state after state. (Just a few examples can be found here, here, here, here, and here. I have many more that I've not yet been able to report due to time constraints.)

Those failed machines have not been removed from use, are still dangerously imperiling the accurate votes of millions, and ultimately, even if they worked as they are supposed to work, could never be verified as having accurately recorded even a single voters' intent as they desired.

The voters of this country --- Democratic, Republican, independent and everything else --- deserve far better from both major parties. But to suggest that we, the people, would be impressed, if only we were allowed to know the secret efforts being taken on our behalf by the Democratic Party, is an insult not only to Democrats, but to every American voter.

Got evidence of the work being done to ensure electronic vote counts are accurate, and that every voter matters this year? Please share it with us. Believe me, I'd be delighted to report that evidence at The BRAD BLOG, as I take no joy in being as critical as I have been forced to be about the Obama/DNC's lacking efforts on election protection, particularly given the out-and-out brazen efforts at all-out voter suppression by the GOP.

But until any such evidence is actually forthcoming, and while I've been receiving reports from some of those "thousands of attorneys" in the Obama/DNC attorney corps telling me what little efforts are being done, and until the claims that "we are on it" stop being countered by actual reported evidence on the ground, such claims are no more impressive or believable than George W. Bush's assertions over the last 6 years that "the War in Iraq is a great success," or that Brownie was doing "a heckuva job" down in New Orleans.

The DNC owes me nothing. If they don't wish to share the evidence with me, they don't have to. But they do owe their voters and supporters something more than smoke and mirrors. And, so far, the evidence for the claims made in the article above remain nowhere to be found --- just like the DNC attorneys and action on behalf of voters in counties where votes continue to flip or are being lost entirely.


Brad Friedman is a nationally recognized journalistic expert on issues of election integrity, and the creator and editor of The BRAD BLOG ( He also writes on these issues at the UK's Guardian, ComputerWorld, AlterNet and elsewhere, and has been invited to testify to the U.S. Elections Assistance Commission (EAC) and to other election officials and body around the country. More bio info here.

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