w/ Brad & Desi
NATIONWIDE STUDY FINDS ALMOST NO VOTER FRAUD
Just 10 cases of in-person impersonation in all 50 states since 2000...
VIDEO: 'Rise of the Tea Bags'
Brad interviews American patriots...
'Democracy's Gold Standard'
Hand-marked, hand-counted ballots...
GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal 2012...
The Secret Koch Brothers Tapes...
|MORE BRAD BLOG 'SPECIAL COVERAGE' PAGES...|
The big news for the day is the announcement that California's SoS McPherson has conditionally certified Diebold AccuVote OS and TSx voting machines for use in the state. This announcement has many people puzzled and mad. Has McPherson bowed to pressure from the counties and, in actuality, set them up for legal problems? It seems that may be the case. Meanwhile in Maryland ES&S steps forward and says they have no idea what Linda Lamone is saying when she says no one can provide a paper based system to the state before November. They say they can do it no problem. Could it be that Linda Lamone has been caught in another lie?...
Guest Blogged by Kevin Zeese
EDITOR'S NOTE: Kevin Zeese is an independent candidate running for the U.S. Senate in Maryland. His following "Open Letter to the Maryland Media" comes on the heels of Thursday's news of Republican MD Governor Robert Ehrlich's letter announcing, amongst other things, that he "no longer [has] confidence in the State Board of Elections' ability to conduct fair and accurate elections in 2006." In the letter, Ehrlich expressly singles out Democratic Election Administrator Linda Lamone, charging that she and the SBE have been "working primarily on behalf of partisan legislators and their interests" and questions her claims that Diebold's paperless touch-screen voting machines --- deployed across the state in 2002 as part of Diebold's "showcase" roll-out of their new system --- could not be replaced by voting devices with voter-verified paper trails in time for the 2006 election. Ehrlich called for paper ballots in his letter.
It was also revealed on Thursday, that Lamone had allowed uncertified Diebold voting machines to be used in elections in Maryland in both 2002 and 2004. Diebold's election equipment has since been show to be hackable, prone to massive failure, and has lost votes in recent elections according to a recently released non-partisan GAO Report, a recent "hack test" in Leon County, FL, and scores of other confirmed reports, studies and analysis from around the country. Lamone is also the curent President of the National Association of State Election Directors (NASED).
Given the national implications of this matter and the media's general lack of coverage of these important matters, we're happy to honor Zeese's request to run the letter in full here at BRAD BLOG.
OPEN LETTER TO THE MARYLAND MEDIA
There is an unreported elections scandal in Maryland. Part of the story has been reported on the web in an article I wrote, at RAW STORY and at TrueVoteMD.org at the hearing. It has yet to be reported in the traditional media.
Kelly Brewington in the Baltimore Sun demonstrated in an article today ("Voting machine maker says new system doable by fall") that whenever Linda Lamone makes a claim, the media should either ask for documentation or get independent verification - from somewhere other than Diebold. Lamone testified in the Senate this week that it was not possible to get new machines by the fall, but the manufacturer told Ms. Brewington that they could provide appropriate equipment in time for the elections.
As someone running in what will become a close three way race for the U.S. Senate, I am very concerned that Maryland have voting equipment that voters can trust and that can be counted in an open and transparent manner in 2006. Every legislative office in the state and the governor is up for election. Maryland cannot afford to use insecure machines, that have a history of machine failure and that do not allow for an independent recount. Therefore I favor leasing an optical scan system for one year and use that time to develop a long-term solution that ensures accurate, transparent and trustworthy elections in Maryland.
LETTER CONT'D BELOW...
In California, SoS Bruce McPherson reached down and deep and certified Diebold for use in the state with some conditions. Note that there has still been no report from the federal ITA that was asked to reinspect the Diebold memory card. At the same time, in Maryland, Diebold and Linda Lamone have taken to ignoring the truth, or misrepresenting it as they ignore proof of lost votes in elections and try to assure voters that there are no problems. And good news from New Mexico where the state legislature has passed a voter verified paper ballot bill....
Guest Blogged by John Gideon (with some additional updates/info from Brad)
Updated with much more information...
Secretary of State McPherson seems to have a thing for making major announcements late on Fridays just before holidays. Following in what seems to be a pattern of his, he announced late this afternoon that he was certifying Diebold Optical Scan and AccuVote TSx (touch-screens) for use in elections in the state.
The re-certification (they had been originally decertified in California in 2004 when it was revealed Diebold had installed illegal software updates on the machines) is conditional on some items but not on the one thing point he had announced last December when he sent the system back to federal authorities for further testing. At that time he said he was sending the machine's memory cards to the federal Independent Testing Authority (ITA) Lab for reinspection in light of the news out of Leon County, Florida that the cards used "intepreted code" which is specifically banned by the Help America Vote Act (HAVA). A "hack test" in that county revealed that an entirely election could have its results flipped by a hacker exploiting that "interpreted code" --- without a trace being left behind.
McPherson made his announcement today without waiting to hear back from the ITA lab.
Last summer, after a massive mock election test with Diebold touch-screen machines revealed that 10% of them failed entirely with screens freezing and printers jamming --- later reports would reveal that as many as 30% of the machines actually failed! --- McPherson said, "We certainly can't take any kind of risk like that with this kind of device on California voters."
Apparently the Secretary of State of America's largest "voting market," as Diebold refers to it, was just kidding about that.
State Senator Debra Bowen, (D-Redondo Beach), the chairwoman of the Senate Elections, Reapportionment, & Constitutional Amendments Committee issued the following Press Release after learning of McPherson's remarkable decision.
February 17, 2006
BOWEN ON SECRETARY OF STATE'S DECISION TO RE-CERTIFY DIEBOLD MACHINES FOR USE IN CALIFORNIA
SACRAMENTO ? "How the Secretary can re-certify the Diebold machines when they don't comply with California law, they violate the standards set by the Election Assistance Commission (EAC) that the Secretary said he intended to follow, and he still doesn't have the report back from the ITAs that he said he was waiting for is beyond me."
That's how Senator Debra Bowen (D-Redondo Beach), the chairwoman of the Senate Elections, Reapportionment, & Constitutional Amendments Committee, reacted to today's decision by the Secretary of State to re-certify Diebold's electronic voting machines for the 2006 elections.
"Last December, the Secretary announced with great fanfare that he was sending the Diebold machines back for review by the Independent Testing Authorities (ITAs) because the memory cards those machines rely on hadn't been reviewed," continued Bowen. "Now, contrary to what he said two months ago, he's approving the Diebold machines without waiting for the report from the ITAs. Instead, he's basing his decision on a supposedly 'independent state audit' that no one has seen before today. There's a March 1 public hearing for four other voting machine vendors before their machines can be certified for use in California, so what was the rush to certify Diebold and side-step a public hearing on this issue?"
Seventeen California counties rely on the Diebold optical scan machines and a number of other counties have bought or are planning to buy the Diebold TSx touch-screen machines to use in the 2006 elections in order to comply with the federal Help America Vote Act (HAVA). The Secretary's decision is only good for the 2006 elections and comes with a number of conditions.
"In August, the Secretary said any machine approved in California would have to comply with all federal standards and regulations, yet the EAC bans machines that contain interpreted code and these Diebold machines rely on that type of code to operate, so he's gone back on that commitment," continued Bowen. "In December, he said he'd wait for a report from the ITAs before acting on the Diebold re-certification request, yet now he's re-certified the Diebold machines without hearing from the ITAs. He says he's acting based on the recommendations of an 'independent state audit' that came out on Tuesday, but the California State Auditor hasn't issued any reports on this issue and hasn't been asked to do a report. Asking a board appointed by the Secretary to make recommendations doesn't constitute an 'independent state audit' in my book.
"The other thing that no one has mentioned is the fact that the Diebold machines don't comply with the state's paper trail law because they don't provide blind or visually impaired voters with a 'read-back' of what the paper trail recorded, they only read back what the machine recorded electronically," noted Bowen. "That's not what the law requires, yet the Secretary has decided to go ahead and approve these machines for use anyway. If the Secretary wants to say he's changing his mind and lowering the safeguards California voters are entitled to have to ensure their votes are accurately counted, that's certainly his decision to make, but saying these Diebold machines comply with state law and with all federal regulations and requirements simply isn't accurate."
Under Elections Code Sections 19250 and 19251, all direct recording electronic (DRE) voting systems have to come with an accessible voter verified paper audit trail (AVVPAT). The AVVPAT must be "provided or conveyed to voters via both a visual and a nonvisual method, such as through an audio component." The Diebold TSx doesn't contain that feature, therefore making the AVVPAT that all DREs are required to have as of January 1, 2006, useless for blind or visually-impaired voters.
VOTING SYSTEMS HEARINGS, MARCH 1:
Also of note is the announcement of public hearings (as mentioned in Bowen's release) persuant to the certification of various voting systems, many of which are still not federally qualified. This announcement is not accompanied by any of the test reports necessary for citizens to go to this hearing with any knowledge of what the state found in their testing. Perhaps this is because none of these systems have been tested by the state yet?
...DEVELOPING...MUCH MORE BELOW...UPDATES, ACTION ITEMS, ADDITIONAL INFO...
I'm guest hosting The Young Turks radio program again tonight from 6p-9p ET (3p-6p PT), this time along with Michael Shure for a Campaign '06 Preview Special!
Rest assured, we'll be talking plenty about Impeachment, Election Reform issues and the Battle Royale in the Dem party about direction along with it!
Please tune in via Sirius Satellite Channel 146 or watch/listen to the video webcast at www.TheYoungTurks.com. Call in to say hey, if you like, at 866-99SIRIUS!
Special Guests to include: Political Analyst Larry Sabato, Jon Solz from Iraq/Afghanistan Vets of America PAC (IAVAPAC), and Congressional Candidates Francine Busby (running for Duke Cunningham's seat in CA's 50th), Chris Murphy (CT's 5th), Ed Perlmutter (CO's 7th) and our old friend Tony Trupiano (MI's 11th)!
Please join us! And Open Thread right here throughout the show as you like!
It got pushed way down today with a lot of other breaking news and video, so this is a reminder to check out our story on what happened yesterday in Maryland. It's huge. And there is much more to come out of that state and that story soon. So be sure to get up to speed on it!
The news today is full of news from Maryland in regards to the letter from Gov. Ehrlich to the State Elections Board. Is this another nail in Diebold's coffin? The fact that they have raised their maintenance charges 1000% over four years is astonishing. Also, counties in Pennsylvania are still trying to decide what they can do in the aftermath of the court decision of earlier in the week. And, the DoJ has given their opinion to Connecticut and they have promised to work with them to meet HAVA mandates....
Guest blogged by David Edwards
On Wednesday night, Australia's SBS Dateline aired the following report containing new graphic images and videos of abuses at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. The report, which contains full motion video documenting mistreatment of prisoners, is more disturbing even than the various still photographs which have been posted elsewhere on the web.
Since the announcement of Dick Cheney's shooting of Harry Whittington during a hunting outing over the weekend, the White House has failed to post the video of its daily Press Briefings on their website, The BRAD BLOG can report.
The video of briefings given by White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan in the James S. Brady Briefing room are usually posted along with the written transcript of those briefings. So far, despite daily promises on the front page of the White House website that the video will be posted "shortly", none of the posted text transcript pages since the shooting have included the promised video from the recent contentious briefings.
"Today's Press Briefing with White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan has concluded. Video from the Press Briefing will be available on the web site shortly," says the front page each day (see screenshot below), and yet as of today, 2/16/05, the video of the briefings from both 2/13, 2/14 and 2/16 have not been made available on the White House website. We wonder why
Video from briefings held for the White House Press Corps in the main James S. Brady Briefing Room, as opposed to teleconferenced briefings or "Press Gaggles" aboard Air Force One, are routinely posted along with the text transcript.
In October of 2004 --- just prior to the November Presidential Election --- The BRAD BLOG discovered that the White House had been removing or "scrubbing" various embarrassing information from their website. The information surreptitiously removed, in apparent violation of the Presidential Records Act of 1978, included a web page listing countries described as part of the "Coalition of the Willing" in Iraq. A massive amount of audio and video, such as George W. Bush's press conference in which he said he was "not that concerned" about Osama bin Laden, was subsequently discovered to have been removed as well.
The Washington Post picked up on our reporting at the time, and eventually, after pressure from the MSM, the White House restored all of that audio and video in the week just prior to the election. Though they never restored their list of "Coalition Member" countries reportedly fighting with the United States in Iraq.
When we contacted the White House for comment at approximately 6:15pm ET, the switchboard operator informed us that there was nobody available to give comment on the matter since "office hours are 9 to 5pm Eastern time" and that we'd have to call back tomorrow. We were told she could not take a message for us, "since nobody is in the office."
When the operator asked where we were from, and we told her BradBlog.com we were immediately put through to a woman in the Media Affairs office.
When we asked about the reason for the missing video, we were put briefly on hold before she returned to report that a "spokesperson" in the Media Affairs office said, "They're actually working on getting that video up right now," but she was able to receive no explanation for the delay. The woman identified herself as "an intern" in the office.
UPDATE: Within an hour of our contact with the White House, they have now added the video from Monday and Tuesday's (2/13 & 2/14) briefings to the transcript pages. Presumably video from today's briefing (2/16) will be added as well, though we didn't catch the front page of the website this morning to see if it had been promised as the previous ones had been.
A United Nations report on the Guantánamo Bay detention center found that evidence of detainee abuse "amounts to torture". The report also said that the United States is violating international law and said that the prison should be closed "without further delay."
Compare the quality and content of these video reports from BBC and NBC News. Why does the NBC report spend a large portion of the time discrediting the findings while BBC digs deeper by interviewing U.N. officials and human rights advocates?
Guest blogged by David Edwards
On Tuesday, a former NSA employee, Russell Tice, testified before the House Government Reform Subcommittee on National Security, Emerging Threats and International Relations. Tice told the committee that he was concerned that undisclosed domestic spying programs were far more widespread than the recently exposed Bush/NSA warrantless wiretap program.
One or more still classified "Special Access" surveillance program may be monitoring the communications of "millions of Americans". While Tice could not share classified details of the program(s), he believes that the Constitution and FISA laws are being violated.
An article published by UPI has more information about the widespread domestic surveillance programs.
The hearings focused on protection for whistleblowers and a pattern of retaliations by the Bush Administration. This article from the Christian Science Monitor provides an excellent summary of testimony from whistleblowers appearing before the committee.
Diebold plowed millions into advertising campaigns across the state in order to declare the dawn of their new electronic voting age. "It's Here!" screamed billboards on buses, billboards, mall kiosks and television commercials --- "Maryland's Better Way to Vote".
Diebold's dream has become a nightmare for the once-great company.
In the letter sent by Maryland's Republican governor Robert L. Ehrlich, Jr. to the State Board of Elections on Wednesday, he declares that he "no longer [has] confidence in the State Board of Elections' ability to conduct fair and accurate elections in 2006."
Citing the "widespread national concern about the reliability and security of electronic voting systems," the decertification and denial of certification of Diebold around the country, and the need to "get aggressive in responding to citizens' concerns over public confidence in the elections system," Ehrlich says it's time to demand paper ballots once again in the State of Maryland.
"It is my personal belief," writes Ehrlich in a letter to BoE Chairman, Gilles Burger, "that the voters of Maryland should be allowed to vote a paper ballot or have a voter verification paper-trail to electronic voting as reassurance to voters that their votes are being accurately cast."
In his excoriating letter to Burger, the Governor goes on to cite the 78% increase in base cost for the system over original estimates and the --- sit down for this --- "1000% increase for estimates of the annual maintenance costs for this system."
"The cost of Maryland's Diebold voting machines has skyrocketed as our confidence in the system has plummeted," wrote the Governor.
Finally, the letter concludes with a brutal condemnation of the MD Elections Administrator, Linda Lamone, charging that her work and that of her staff, has been "primarily on behalf of partisan legislators and their interests and not on the interests of the citizens of Maryland."
Lamone, who is currently President of the National Association of State Elections Directors (NASED) has been a champion of Diebold's paperless touch-screen machines in the state. She recently testified to the state Senate that there was not enough time or money to add "voter-vefied paper trails" to Maryland's touch-screen machines prior to the 2006 election. As well, she has maintained for years that the system is safe, reliable and secure. Those claims are not well-founded.
An internal review by the state Elections Board after the 2004 election titled "Lessons Learned" [PDF] reveals that "189 voting units (7%) of units deployed failed on Election Day. An additional 122 voting units (or 5%) were suspect based on number of votes captured."
Those documented failures, of course, are just the ones we know about. In Leon County, Florida, when Diebold machines were hacked last December, it was done without a trace being left behind.
Washinton Post's Thursday coverage of Ehrlich's letter quotes him as telling reporters, "Maryland is not prepared to conduct an election."
Some Democrats in the Maryland Senate, however, are critical of Ehrlich who, they point out, had previously blocked efforts to include "voter-verified paper trails" on Maryland's paperless touch-screen machines.
That, however, was several months, and many "Diebold hacks" ago. Despite Diebold spokesman David "Baghdad" Bear's predictable response that there is still nothing to worry about and these machines work just great! --- there is most definitely something to worry about and the machines are terrible. Democrats in Maryland would be wise to recognize that, and be wary of getting lost in partisan politics, even if they were the ones responsible for deploying these crappy systems across the state in the first place.
The BRAD BLOG cannot overstate the devastating impact of Ehrlich's letter on the future of Diebold's Electronic Voting Machine hopes for this country. And it comes not a moment too soon.
[UPDATE: RAW STORY reports Maryland used Diebold machines in 2002 Gubernatorial Election and 2002 primary without certification, in violation of the law! And more...]
The entire 4-page letter from Ehrlich is here [PDF]. Extended "must read" selections follow...
Today has been another busy day. There has been a lot of fallout from the court decision in Pennsylvania and that has caused a lot of counties to question what they can or cannot do as far as buying new machines. Some are just ignoring everything and they plan on continuing to sign contracts. There is also talk of an appeal to the courts ruling by the state. In Alaska the state is delaying releasing any election records to the state Democrat party. In New Mexico a paper ballot bill has passed the House and is near to going for a signature and to becoming state law. And Utah has turned their back on 'Early Voting'. And late breaking from Maryland is news that the Governor has joined Reps and Dems in the state legislature who are all asking for a voter verified paper ballot....
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