Former Republican U.S. Senate candidate and 'Tea Party' favorite Joe Miller is no stranger to flawed election processes in Alaska. The BRAD BLOG strongly supported Miller's attempt to receive a hand-count of questionable results in his 2010 race against Democrat Scott McAdams and victorious Republican write-in candidate Sen. Lisa Murkowski.
The experience left him understanding, as he writes in a statement given today to the progressive Alaska blog The Mudflats, that "the integrity of elections is one of the bedrocks of our nation" and "a non-partisan issue, critical to the survival of our Republic."
We've been in touch with Miller ourselves, both during his own election contest, offering advice on how his campaign might achieve oversight of the results that were tallied only by Diebold optical-scan computers (either accurately or inaccurately, who knows?), and at various times in the months that followed. Last September, Miller linked from his own website, to our exclusive on the findings by Argonne National Laboratory that Diebold systems can by hacked by remote control with little more than an 8th grade computer science education and about $10 to $25 in electronic parts.
Now the frequently far Right politician is ringing in on the recent election disaster in Anchorage, which we detailed here last month, after a ballot proposition to extend anti-discrimination measures to the LGBT community was set to win by big margins according to a conservative pollster [PDF] just before the election, but ended up "losing", according to the Diebold op-scan systems, by an even greater margin for reasons which still remain a mystery...
Alaska's April 3rd Municipal election was marred by, among too many other things, ballot shortages that inexplicably plagued more than half of Anchorage's precincts, as well as broken security seals on Diebold Accuvote paper-ballot op-scan tabulators which, as the Deputy Municipal Clerk confirmed to us during an interview for our original report, she had instructed poll workers to simply ignore. We detailed the madness of that instruction at the time, citing a number of security analyses by world class computer science and security experts warning of the "real threat" to election results posed by inappropriate memory card access, should they become unprotected prior to or during an election
"[A]nyone who has access to a memory card of the [Diebold Accuvote op-scan], and can tamper it (i.e. modify its contents) ... can indeed modify the election results from that machine in a number of ways," one of those studies [PDF] as commissioned by the state of CA warns. "The fact that the the results are incorrect cannot be detected except by a recount of the original paper ballots."
The oft-failed, easily-manipulated Diebold Accuvote op-scan system is used in more than 1,000 jurisdictions in the U.S., across all or parts of 24 different states, and will be used to once again tally paper ballots in the 2012 Presidential Election as well in the upcoming historic state recall elections in Wisconsin.
In light of the many disturbing anomalies in the Anchorage election --- for example, it now appears that Prop 5 actually won in the absentee ballot tally [PDF], while reportedly losing by huge numbers on Election Day --- Progressives there have called for a complete investigation of the election process and a full hand-count and audit of paper ballots, at a minimum, and preferably a new vote entirely, given the extraordinary number of problems that have been revealed since the election.
Alaska's conservative pollster, David Dittman, when asked by a blogger last week about the nearly 25 point "YES" to "NO" swing between his pre-election poll of Prop 5 and the unverified final results of the election, called it "one of the highest I can remember."
"I think if you look back historically, the polls have been pretty darned good," he explained. "We have on our website the graphic tracks, we have the final poll and the election, it’s just within a percent. It’s dead on. And I think if you look back over time, the polls have been pretty darn reliable. And in this case you’ve got like a ten percent shift or maybe even twenty."
While some have criticized those questioning the results of the Prop 5 election as "partisan sore losers" or "conspiracy theorists" (the Rightwing Mayor on the ballot, who is also the former boss of the Deputy Municipal Clerk in question, is said to have won his race by almost exactly the margin that had been predicted in the same pre-election poll by Dittman), Miller, no stranger to partisanship himself, sees it differently, according to his statement issued to Jeanne Devon at The Mudflats today.
"As reasonable people from all political stripes recognize," Miller wrote, "the integrity of elections is one of the bedrocks of our nation. ‘We the People’ is a rallying cry for many Americans, and this is manifested in our ability to vote, so that the people control what government does, and not vice versa."
"What should be simple – voting – tends to become overly complex," he accurately noted. "But vote integrity is not just about the outcome, it is about a process in which voters can have confidence."
Devon writes that she, as well as progressive Alaska blogger and broadcaster Shannyn Moore (who put Miller and his campaign in touch with The BRAD BLOG, during his 2010 contest), "strongly supported Joe Miller’s (and Scott McAdams’) right to a full hand count of paper ballots in the 2010 election, and for processes that were fair, laws that were consistent, and the ultimate right of citizens to have confidence in their electoral process."
Today, Miller returned the non-partisan courtesy when he wrote:
Devon adds: "Many thanks to Mr. Miller for stepping up and proving that though we may disagree ideologically on many issues, there will always be people on both sides who put aside partisanship for the sake of this cornerstone of our democracy. Accusations of 'sour grapes' from either side of the aisle do nothing but sabotage genuine efforts to ensure free and fair elections for everyone."
We agree with Miller on very little politically --- even on one element of his statement where he writes that "it is imperative that voters be permitted to conduct a hand count, at their own expense, of any election." In truth, voters should not have to pay for their own hand-counts, they should be automatic, as "Democracy's Gold Standard", in every election. But on the core issue of election integrity, we're more than happy --- proud, in fact --- to stand arm-and-arm with "Tea Party" Joe Miller.
The Anchorage Assembly has postponed final certification of the April 3rd election, for the time being, until May 3rd. The 11-member Assembly now faces the decision whether to certify as is, call for a complete hand-count audit, name a special investigator and/or blue ribbon commission to investigate what happened and/or call for a new election entirely.
With both progressives and Joe Miller decrying what happened on April 3rd, it seems difficult to imagine that the Assembly would simply accept the inexcusably flawed results of this election as is.