As expected, the barrage of stories in the national media concerning problems with e-voting systems --- as usual, too late to make much of a difference before the next election cycle --- continues...
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As expected, the barrage of stories in the national media concerning problems with e-voting systems --- as usual, too late to make much of a difference before the next election cycle --- continues...
Richard Wolfe of USA Today, needs some new sources in his Rolodex.
In two decenti-ish and important stories today about massive failures and inaccurate voter purges in the new voter registration databases mandated by the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) of 2002, Wolfe quotes two discredited operatives:
To the substance of the two stories, both running today...The first, on legal voters being tossed off voting roles all across the country, Wolfe reports:
The databases are only as good as the information fed into them by applicants and election officials. That can lead to human errors as well as variations from state to state. Colorado, for instance, knocked nearly 20% of its voters off the rolls between the 2004 and 2006 elections. Arkansas purged 3%, according to Election Assistance Commission data.
Perhaps the worst problems are in Florida, where a Gannett News Service analysis found more than 14,000 people whose voter registrations were disputed by the state because they didn't match other databases; about 75% are minorities.
Wolfe then goes on to close the story with a comment apologizing for the federal government's failure in all of the above, by quoting Wilkey, the federal government's man who oversaw the failures, on behalf of the EAC, on all of the above...
The Election Integrity advocate gets quoted in graf 3 of an AP story on Election Integrity. Go figure...
In December alone, top election officials in Ohio and Colorado declared that widely used voting equipment is unfit for elections.
"Every system that is out there, one state or another has found that they are no good," said John Gideon of the advocacy group Voters Unite. "Everybody is starting to look at this now and starting to realize that there is something wrong."
Nice. That, as opposed to the EI expert showing up, maybe, in the penultimate graf, only to be finally countered at the end by the voting machine company spokeshole or election official who then lies: "Everything's just fine! Our machines work great!"
What runs via AP matters, as its picked up by, um, everybody. So it's good to see them covering this issue finally, with our buddy John Gideon getting the featured prominence he deserves, in a story which will likely be widely read.
And now to be both beggar and chooser: there's a minor error or two, a couple of dubious points in the story, and, most notably, a quote or two (one from the CO SoS) that underscores the failure of AP, and the rest of the corporate media, to adequately report on this issue, at least up until now...
At least someone's bringing some accountability of some sort this year....
Looks like our old friends at Diebold have left us with an end-of-year gift, as their share prices continued tumbling today to close the year at $28.98/share. Just a smidgeon above their
5-year 7-year low set earlier in the day. (DBD stock hasn't been this worthless since April of 2001.)
But, as we reported in our recent summary of the years-long undoing of one of America's worst voting machine companies (we know, it's a close contest), there has yet to be any accountability, for the company insiders who, with stunningly fortuitous coincidental timing, just happened to sell off thousands of shares at $53.04 last August.
Those lucky executives moved at just the right time, right near the year's peak of $54.50, last August, and just prior to the precipitous 43% plunge over the rest of the year. We --- and we alone, unfortunately --- reported on that apparent insider trading just after the sell-off in late Summer.
Whether the recently announced DoJ investigation of Diebold has anything to do with that chicanery, we can't tell ya. And we're still waiting for any of the thousands of Election Officials, who've been screwed by the once-beloved America-hating company, to file suit themselves. But at least the shareholders, if no one else so far, are beginning to bring some accountability.
Happy New Years, Diebold! We'll see ya on the other side. And that's one thing upon which, you can finally count correctly, for a change...
Guest Blogged by Alan Breslauer
Conservative talk radio host Hugh Hewitt is a professional propagandist. Any remaining doubt that Hewitt was not a legitimate journalist was removed earlier this month by former White House counsel, Dan Bartlett, who had the following exchange with The Texas Monthly:
Bartlett: That’s when you start going, “Hmm . . .” Because they do reach people who are influential.
TM: Well, they reach the president’s base.
Bartlett: That’s what I mean by influential. I mean, talk about a direct IV into the vein of your support. It’s a very efficient way to communicate. They regurgitate exactly and put up on their blogs what you said to them. It is something that we’ve cultivated and have really tried to put quite a bit of focus on.
But pointing out the obvious fact that wingnut bloggers and talk-radio hosts are hardwired to do White House bidding is hardly newsworthy.
What makes Hewitt an interesting study today is that his overwhelming support for presidential candidate Mitt Romney has exposed his propagandist ways to even his "conservative" listeners, one of whom recently noted on air, before being cut off by Hewitt, the host's apparent "man crush" on the Presidential Candidate...
We don't pretend to fully understand the strange and confusing mechanics of the Iowa Caucuses (the Hawkeye Caucii, as Rush refers to them), nor do we make predictions about the results of such things (Edwards and Huckabee), but BlackBoxVoting.org sent out a missive over the weekend, with some very helpful information about how the Election Integrity aspect of the two respective party caucuses will, or won't, work, along with a the request to forward the info to folks in Iowa.
As the corporate MSM will undoubtedly be watching the horses only as they cross the finish line --- not bothering to notice what their owners and jockies are up to on the way there --- we're happy to help with anything that increases citizen participation and transparency in the process, and empowers citizen vigilance and reporting. So with that, we pass along the following important and interesting info from BBV's Bev Harris...
Black Box Voting has only a few members in Iowa. We need your help to forward this message to other distribution outlets and to every single person you know in Iowa. By positioning itself as the first presidential preference contest in the nation, Iowa has a disproportionate influence on candidate viability --- which candidates can stay in the race, and how well they'll do.
Although some will tell you that the system has checks and balances because delegates assigned at the Jan. 3 Iowa precinct caucuses will go to a county convention where their vote will be clear, this is misleading. Iowa's convention is months away --- more than a month AFTER "Super Duper Tuesday" and many if not most candidates will have dropped out by then, so the delegates at the county conventions ALWAYS are reapportioned and NEVER match the original caucus results.
The situation is very serious, especially for Republican election integrity but also for the Democrats.
WHAT CAN YOU DO? If you live in Iowa, instructions are within the message below. If you do not live in Iowa, but can go observe, photograph and act as a citizen reporter, that would be magnificent. But, if you don't want to freeze your buns in Iowa in January, here's what you CAN do: FORWARD THIS
If you don't know someone in Iowa, forward this e-mail to activism groups and write letters to news organizations.
"Problems and issues with the Iowa Caucuses" --- for both the Democratic and Republican parties, including the lack of precinct-based reporting of tallies, and even an apparently Republican-leaning company who is running one of the Democratic caucus web servers --- "And what every Iowan can do" about it, follow below from the BBV newsletter...
Worth remembering as 2008 is about to begin...
Rep. Rush Holt (D-NJ) is trying again. After learning a lesson or two, from his failed attempt to push an unpopular Election Reform bill (HR811) through Congress, he's scaling back in hopes of getting something passed that may help bring accountability to the 2008 election cycle.
The latest version of the bill, coming in at a relatively slim 20 pages, is available here [PDF].
We certainly applaud the effort in general, and note that it mirrors some of the simple, doable-by-'08 initiatives we've been speaking with a few folks in Congress about behind the scenes.
In brief, the bill we've been discussing, with several Congressional offices, after common ground discussions with a number of EI advocates, a representative from the National Association of Counties (NaCO) and even a Republican who had initially worked on the Help America Vote Act (HAVA), but disliked the resulting bill, would call for the following:
Holt's new bill would do a few, if not all of those things.
In his run at it this time, his bill would simply offer federal funding for jurisdictions who wish to move to paper ballots (that's good), and also offer money to help pay for post-election audits of those ballots...if they choose to do so. It also sets aside money for study of disability voting technology, as we'd also recommended.
Perhaps he has become a bit too timid after his previous unfortunate experience. Though the bill has not yet been introduced officially --- so language is not yet finalized, thus we'll hold full fire until we see the final product --- the audits recommended in his bill would be optional. As well, there are currently no requirements in his bill to mandate that Election Officials actually count those paper ballots, paid for with federal dollars, before releasing unofficial vote tallies to the media. That last is no small point (just ask Al Gore or Christine Jennings).
And most puzzling of all, in the bill which would only apply to the 2008 general election, there is also no requirement at all to make those federally-funded paper ballots available to all voters who'd like to vote on them.
It seems to us that if a state or county chooses to take federal money to pay for their paper ballots, attaching a few common sense strings, like the ones mentioned above, would be perfectly appropriate. Perhaps such changes can be made during the committee process or on the Senate side.
But hey, no bill's perfect, and this one certainly appears to be a welcome step, at least, in the right direction. It would help to begin turning the Titanic around by making the move to paper ballots much easier. And, most notably, it would not federally institutionalize secret software and Direct Recording Electronic (DRE, touch-screen) voting machines as Holt's previous HR811 would have. That bill, and the many concerns about it, was exhaustively covered by The BRAD BLOG over the past year. (See our special coverage here.)
Steve Rosenfeld at Alternet has details on Holt's new initiative, along with a few scintillating --- and mostly accurate --- quoted comments in reply from yours truly and a few others.
"To date, the Kansas GOP has identified and caged more voters in the last 11 months than the previous two years!" brags Kansas GOP chairman Kris Kobach in his end-of-year letter.
Blue Tide Rising has the scoop, along with details on what "vote caging" is, for those who don't know by now. We should note, however, it's not immediately clear from Kobach's letter what exactly he means by his use of the term, and if he's referring to the illegal type of caging or not.
In any case, it's clear that the undemocratic (small "d") practice of working to keep Democratic (large "D") voters off the rolls, through any means necessary, in order to keep them from voting, through any means necessary, has been mainlined as perhaps the top strategy for the GOP in 2008. Even Bush's Dept. of Justice, under the hand of John "Minorities Die First" Tanner, has now been officially mobilized to direct such practices on behalf of the Republican States of America.
For more, see PBS's long-overdue video report from last summer, on the GOP's sordid history of vote caging and the corporate American mainstream media's failure to cover it when it might have mattered.
Plus, Crooks & Liars has details on the piece of work that is this Kris Kobach, a former counsel to then-Attorney General John Ashcroft.
Guest Blogged by Alan Breslauer
For much more on the medias role in spreading lies and propaganda about Al Gore see Robert Parry's informative, "Al Gore v. The Media" at Consortium News, "The Press vs. Al Gore" at Rolling Stone and many a post at The Daily Howler and Media Matters.
The death spiral for the 131 year-old company, once respectfully known as Diebold, continues, as its stock price falls to a 5-year low today, near year's end (currently $29.23/share and still sinking, from a 52-week high of $54.50/share), along with the additional news that the U.S. Department of Justice has now joined the SEC in an investigation concerning the company's "Enron-like" bookkeeping tricks...
Diebold announced in early October that it has been engaged in an ongoing discussion with the SEC’s Office of the Chief Accountant regarding its former use of the "bill and hold" method of recognizing revenue.
Under bill and hold, ownership of a product contractually passes to a customer and revenue is recognized by the supplier prior to delivery of the product to the customer.
Diebold said it’s in continuing talks with the Office of the Chief Accountant so that it can determine what the company termed “the most appropriate revenue recognition method” to replace its bill and hold practice.
The BRAD BLOG, of course, originally reported on the SEC's investigation into Diebold's book-keeping chicanery back in May of 2006, just a few months after our first exclusive report, based on information from a company insider we dubbed DIEB-THROAT, preceded a 20% stock-price plunge just days afterward.
At the time, back in late September 2005, the stock price plunged to a 52-week low of about $44.37/share (which we're sure they'd kill for now --- not that we wish to give them any ideas) and DIEB-THROAT told us in response to the related news: "the last time this kind of deception occurred it was called Enron."
Then came a class action securities fraud suit against the company in December 2005, as first broken by The BRAD BLOG natch, before the parallel SEC investigation first became public.
Since then, following one independent study after another after another after another, finding their electronic voting systems to be virus-prone, hackable, unreliable and inaccurate, the company finally dumped it's controversial CEO who had infamously promised in a Republican fundraising letter that he was "committed to helping Ohio deliver its electoral votes to" George W. Bush in 2004, before attempting again to fool the American public by renaming its election division "Premiere Elections Solutions" (same pig, fresh lipstick), just after stock prices plummeted again in August of this year to $47.60 as The BRAD BLOG noticed what appeared to us, and at least one financial analyst, to be possible insider trading among a number of company officials.
Prices have continued to fall ever since --- a lucky coincidence, no doubt, for those executives who just happened to unload a bunch of stock near the year's high at $53.05 - to today's 5-year low of $29.20.
Additional bad news arrived last Friday for Diebold when a new study by the state of Ohio found their systems to be easily hackable (again), with better news coming last Tuesday as the state of Colorado's own certification tests, surprisingly, gave their their machines a pass while decertifying many others. Yesterday, however, the reason for the inexplicable get-out-of-jail card they received in CO may have become a bit clearer: As it turns out, the Republican Secretary of State who oversaw the new certification testing, Mike Coffman, is running for Congress, and his campaign shares the same consultants as Diebold/Premier in the state. Go figure.
Diebold/Premiere's spokeshole, Chris Riggall told the Rocky Mountain News in response yesterday, that the company just had no idea about the extraordinary conflict of interest. But with the mission already accomplished, he announced to the paper: "Effective tonight that relationship is terminated."
With their stock-price still spiraling this morning, Diebold is quoted by Crain's Cleveland Business today as saying the company "anticipates [the DoJ] review will be completed in the first quarter of 2008" ... Though rest assured, The BRAD BLOG's review of the company won't be completed by then. Not by a long shot.
Merry Christmas, Diebold!
Republicans in the Senate are refusing to allow an up-or-down vote on nominations to the FEC, which means that at the end of the year when the terms of four current appointees end --- including previously recess-appointed GOP "vote fraud" zealot Hans von Spakovsy --- there will not be enough commissioners to even hold a vote. An interesting, if troubling, notion for a Presidential Election year.
But, as the GOP would not allow votes on the three other nominees (two Democrats and one Republican) after a block had been put on von Spakovsky by Senators Obama (D-IL) and Feingold (D-WI), and as Majority Leader Reid (D-NV) plans to hold pro forma Senate sessions to keep Bush from making another inappropriate recess appointment to the committee, and as Bush also refuses to send up a replacement nominee for von Spakovsky...it looks like that's where we're headed.
TPM Muck has the story, and Reid's statement on the floor today.
So it looks like another GOP vote fraudster goes down for now, now that Democrats have chosen to stand up a bit, for a change. But like all of these guys --- and like any good Bond villain --- they may not stay "dead" for long.
RELATED: Speaking of which, our DoJ Voting Rights section sources tell us John "Minorities Die First" Tanner has still not left the office, as we originally reported in a late-night posting on Tuesday! That, despite having supposedly "resigned immediately" as of last Friday! What's going on here? Is he deleting files on his computer? Was his whole resignation, and supposed reassignment to another job in the Civil Rights Division, just a hoax to get Congress off the DoJ's back? We're trying to figure it out.
Writes one of our sources to The BRAD BLOG this evening: "Tanner is obviously having problems letting go. He's in the office every day. Since his office is in a corner of the building, nobody can be exactly sure what's going on."
Another Voting Section source also writes to say, "Tanner is still there." And adds, "Its awkward. His co-conspirators dine with him."
PSSST... Could someone on the House Judiciary Committee please call the DoJ Office of Legal Affairs and find out what the hell he's still doing in his office?! What is he waiting for, Christmas (of 2008?)
More when, and if, we can learn anything...
UPDATE 12/21/07: He was still in the office today, Friday, a full week after resigning last Friday "effective immediately". A staffer in the voting section, when we called to check, said she expected that he'd be back next Wednesday, after the long holiday weekend.
-- By Brad Friedman, The BRAD BLOG
The BRAD BLOG spoke on Wednesday, by telephone, with Ohio's Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner, for an exclusive in-depth interview following the release of her state's unprecedented "Evaluation & Validation of Election-Related Equipment, Standards & Testing" (EVEREST) review of e-voting systems.
While the bi-partisan, multi-teamed, scientific testing carried out, by a unique combination of both corporate and academic computer scientists and security experts, has won praise from most, if not all (see, predictably, here and here) quarters, the specific recommendations for changes to Ohio's voting system in its wake, as made by Brunner, have garnered a fair amount of criticism and concern from Election Integrity and Administration experts. Indeed, The BRAD BLOG has reported a number of our own concerns about those recommendations, as detailed last Friday upon the release of the report.
One thing is clear: the view from EVEREST is a mountain of "critical security failures" in Ohio's electronic voting systems --- the very same systems which will also be in use in other states and counties all across the U.S. in 2008. The question now is what can be done to mitigate the chances of yet another Ohio election meltdown next year, given the short time before before the state's primary in March, and the rapidly-approaching November general election when many eyes, no doubt, will again be on the Buckeye State.
In our interview --- the first of its kind to be published post-EVEREST --- we challenged the state's new Democratic Secretary, a former state judge, to answer to a number of growing concerns about her '08 recommendations, and whether she may be open to changing them in light of concerns. As well, we asked her about the criticism leveed against her by on-the-ground citizen Election Integrity advocates in the state, who have been critical of her for not having done enough to bring accountability following the J. Kenneth Blackwell regime, under whom Ohio's election system was so infamously gamed in 2004.
Our in-depth, exclusive interview with Ohio's new, and already embattled Secretary of State, follows in full...
Newly missing e-voting chips isn't the only election news to break out of the People's Republic of San Diego County today.
The sunny Southern California enclave, which has succeeded in making an infamous name for itself over the last several years by running some of the most poorly administrated and least transparent elections in the nation, is now suing California's Sec. of State Debra Bowen for her new security mitigation mandate requiring a hand audit of a random 10% sampling of ballots, in elections where the final result margin is less than one-half of 1%.
The full complaint may be downloaded here [PDF].
Deborah Seiler, the former sales rep for voting machine companies Diebold and Sequoia, who was recently named Registrar of Voters for San Diego County, believes Bowen's mandate is onerous in that it would "create extra work and delays" for her office following elections, as the North County Times described it.
Seiler and the county are "alleging that Bowen overstepped her authority in requiring new recount procedures in close races beginning in February," according to the paper, which quotes a spokesperson from Bowen's office defending the legal right of the Secretary to issue such directives as she sees fit.
Bowen's spokesperson, Nicole Winger, confirmed to The BRAD BLOG that the office is confident the Secretary of State may issue such "use procedures," along with voting system certification, which must be followed by counties that choose to use those particular systems. She adds that prior administrations have issued similar use procedures along with system certification, and that their statutory right to do so has held up in past court cases.
According to Winger...
More good news out of Florida, where a judge has tossed out an outrageous anti-voter law which, critics charge, could well have disenfranchised thousands of Sunshine State voters (again) just in time for the 2008 Presidential Election. We spoke just last week with Ion Sancho, Leon County (Tallahassee)'s legendary Supervisor of Elections, who expressed grave concerns about this very law, even as Republican's promise to appeal the judge's decision, and continue other anti-voter related efforts about the country.
According to the Miami Herald's breaking coverage this morning...
About 14,000 people have not been able to register because of Florida's ''no match'' law that requires a citizen's name on a voter registration form be matched with a Social Security number or driver's license number. The law has been challenged by the NAACP and other groups that say the law unfairly blocks blacks and Hispanics from being able to register to vote.
U.S. District Judge Stephan Mickle rejected arguments from the state that the law is needed to deter possible voter fraud, pointing out that the state has not been able to prove that the 14,000 voters now in limbo engaged in voter fraud. He said the requirements put in place by Florida lawmakers apper to conflict with federal voting rights laws.
''The disenfranchisement, however unintentional, causes damage to the election system that cannot be repaired after the election has passed,'' Mickle wrote in the order.
The article goes on to report that FL's appointed Republican Secretary of State, Kurt Browning, says the state will appeal the ruling, about which he says, "in my view the Legislature appropriately enacted this important anti-fraud provision as part of Florida's Election Code."
Browning's comments, unfortunately, come as little surprise for a number of disturbing reasons...
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