U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy spanked the Montana GOP's Executive Director Jake Eaton for his unsubstantiated (and since-withdrawn) challenge to 6,000 voters in Democratic-leaning counties yesterday, solely on the basis that they'd filed change of address forms within the last 18 months.
"In his zeal to protect what he sees as Montana's fragile democracy from these transient hordes," the Judge wrote in his order, in response to state Dems and even the Obama campaign who stepped up to challenge the out-and-out attempt at voter suppression, "Eaton ignored the very law that answers his challenges."
“One can imagine the mischief an immature political operative could inject into an election cycle were he to use the statutes, not for their intended purpose of protecting the integrity of the people's democracy, but rather to execute a tawdry political ploy," Malloy wrote.
"The timing of these challenges is so transparent that it defies common sense to believe the purpose is anything but political chicanery," he added before noting that the challenges clearly violate federal law, since they come so close before an election, and focused only on counties where Democratic-leaning voters live.
When we covered the Montana GOP's waving the white flag of surrender yesterday, in light of actually being challenged (for a change) by Democrats, we also noted that we hoped they would not drop their lawsuit, even as the bully-boy Republicans had decided to cut and run...
Last Friday, we told you about the bogus challenges --- 6,000 of them --- made by the Montana GOP against voters in six Democratic-leaning counties in the state, based solely on the fact that the voters had filed change of address forms with the U.S. Postal Service within the last 18 months. The GOP claimed, with a straight face, they were fighting "voter fraud", even though there was indications of no such fraud, and the result was little more than chaos at the election offices, just 30 days out from a major election.
One of the GOP's challenged voters turned out to be an Army Reservist who would be unable to verify his authenticity --- and thus would lose his right to vote under the challenge --- since he was in New Jersey, about to ship out for his second tour of duty in Iraq.
Well, we've got some good news on this story, for a welcome change...
Several days ago, in this space, we recommended that voters who have the ability to vote “straight party” do not exercise that right. Yes, it is easier because all you have to do is mark one box on the ballot for the top-of-the-ticket votes are all taken care of for you. However, consider this. In North Carolina (and South Carolina also) the “straight party” vote does NOT include President.
According to the first “Featured” article, ballots in North Carolina have the following words: “A Straight Party vote is a vote for all candidates of that party in partisan offices. Individual partisan office selections are not necessary if you select a Straight Party below.” What the ballot doesn’t tell you is that this does not include President. How many thousands of voters will vote straight-party but not for President in North and South Carolina?
In our second “Featured” article we learn another good reason not to vote straight party. New Mexico is one of the states that allows straight party voting, including the presidential race. However, if the ballots are not properly programmed and thorough pre-election testing is not accomplished, there is no telling what may be the result of voting straight party. Voters should not take a chance that the county has tested thoroughly. Voters should not take a chance that their machine may not even register straight party votes for their party while it does for the other party. Don’t trust them. Forego the “straight party” selection and pick each candidate individually.
The straight party states are: North Carolina, South Carolina, New Mexico, Utah, Oklahoma, Texas, Alabama, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Iowa, Wisconsin, Michigan, Indiana, West Virginia, and Rhode Island. ...
Considering many of the staggering results of Thursday's New York Times/CBS News poll, overall media coverage and examination of the findings have been less than thorough. With the seeming sea change that has occurred, when comparing public opinion before both conventions to public opinion now (the period measured in the poll), you might think it would garner at least as much attention as, say, lipstick-on-a-pig palooza.
Taken as a whole, findings of this poll --- some noted in Thursday's national media discourse, some not --- paint the bleakest picture yet for the McCain/Palin ticket.
Tribune Media Services' Bob Koehler was one of the first voices, from within the corporate mainstream media, to speak about the bastardization of our current electoral system. He did so, beginning way back in the darkest days of 2005, when writing and/or saying such things aloud got folks fired, spiked, and otherwise Dixie Chicked for daring to speak such truths in a country which once claimed to believe in "freedom of speech" and "freedom of the press."
From Ohio's 2004 abberation of democracy, to voting systems that don't work, to those who would do anything to win, such as keep voters from voting however they can, Koehler has continued to bang the drum, no matter the heat he has taken in return.
This week he continues to beat that drum, and offers us a few kind words in the bargain, yet again. Here's a few key grafs from his latest, headlined "Goo Goo Government"...
TALLAHASSEE — A new pitch for John McCain's presidential campaign aimed at older Democratic voters is causing complaints by Democrats and concern by elections officials.
The piece, paid for by the Republican National Committee and authorized by McCain, tells voters it is seeking to double-check their "unconfirmed" party affiliations while asking for money. A letter signed by McCain tells the Democrats: "We have you registered as a Republican."
"I was a little bit shocked and a little bit surprised," said recipient Bill Smith, 81, of Tampa, who calls himself a lifelong Democrat and has been registered at his current address since 2000.
The RNC declined to discuss the mailer, which Democrats said has landed in five counties: Duval, Hillsborough, Collier, Miami-Dade and Escambia.
The article goes on to note that FL's Republican SoS Kurt Browning believes the mailing is "confusing" and "unfortunate", but does not note whether or not he plans to do anything about it. We're not holding our breath. Neither are we holding it for Democrats down there to do much about it either.
The mailings sent to registered Democrats appear to be classic "caging" letters, marked as "Do Not Forward", so that they will then be returned to the GOP if there is any problem with delivery. Those returned letters will likely then be used as a basis to challenge the legitimacy of those particular voters on Election Day....
We had the chance to interview former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman inside the Pepsi Center on Wednesday, during the Democratic National Convention.
Our concise conversation ranges from the Congressional Democrats' failure to call for a full House vote on Contempt of Congress by Karl Rove, Siegelman's 2002 election which he believes was "stolen electronically," the corporate media's inability to investigate or report on it, and the concern about whether or not Democrats will be in a forgive and forget mode after this session of Congress if Obama is successful in his quest for the White House.
Here's our complete interview (appx. 6 mins)...
Some pull-quotes from the interview...
On Rove: "If we do not vote the contempt citation, Karl Rove is simply going to get in his getaway car and thumb his nose at the Constitution, Congress, and the American people. It creates almost two systems of justice: one for the powerful, those connected to the White House, and then another system for you and me and the rest of the people."
On Democrats: "Democrats are so magnanimous in victory, as they were after Watergate, they did nothing. After the Iran-Contra scandal, they did nothing. But what Democrats are going to want to do is get on with positive programs, to fix the damage that has been done by the Bush administration...But I view this as part of that positive change. Finding out who hijacked the Department of Justice and who used it as a political weapon."
On his 'stolen' 2002 election: "I went to bed the winner. The media had been sent home. The pollworkers had been sent home. The party chairmen had been given their copies of the election results. And then after midnight a light went on in the basement of the capitol, the basement of the courthouse, in the sheriff's office, and 5,200 votes that were mine were shifted to my opponent."
The complete text transcript of the interview follows in full below (thanks to Emily Levy of VelvetRevolution.us)...
Curtis called Kosmas a "conservative blue-dog Democrat." He said "She could change her name to Republican and never have to change a vote."
Kosmas, in return, might ask, "Curtis who?"
She said she doesn't know Curtis.
"I am running as a Democrat," Kosmas said.
"Running as a Democrat." A telling phrase, that.
While Kosmas claims to be against the war, it turns out she co-sponsored a resolution, adopted on March 21, 2003, while in the Florida legislature that pledged "support of President Bush in his stand against Saddam Hussein".
Unfortunately, Kosmas isn't the only hand-picked Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) candidate being put up this year almost solely on the basis of the DCCC's short-sighted conjecture that they can win in a previously "red" district because the candidate either has lots of their own money, or is damned-near a Republican.
Yesterday, our buddy Howie Klein - who knows more about on-the-ground politics and the real positions of Congressional candidates than anyone we know --- decimated the DCCC for their drive to put "Democrats" in office, at any cost. The "Stalinist" effort, as he describes it, to put such candidates as Kosmas in office (whether or not they end up voting with Republicans more often than Democrats!) has been the basis of the DCCC's "Red to Blue" program launched under the previous DCCC chair Rep. Rahm Emanuel and still in play under its new chair, Chris Van Hollen....
A Bush-appointed federal judge has found that White House aides, such as Josh Bolten and Harriet Miers (and even Karl Rove, though he wasn't a part of this court case, and so not named) must show up when called by Congress to testify:
“The executive’s current claim of absolute immunity from compelled Congressional process for senior presidential aides is without any support in the case law,” Judge John D. Bates ruled in United States District Court.
Judge Bates, who was appointed to the bench by President Bush in 2001, said Ms. Miers cannot simply ignore a subpoena to appear but must state her refusal in person. Moreover, he ruled, both she and Mr. Bolten must provide all non-privileged documents related to the dismissals.
The NYTimes report goes on to note that "The White House is almost certain to appeal the ruling."
Of course they are. Tick, tick, tick...
In related news...Nancy Pelosi, said --- incredibly --- when asked about why she won't Impeach on ABC's The View this week: "I thought that Impeachment would be divisive...If someone had a crime that the President had committed, that would be a different story."
Huh? Did she seriously say that? Yes, she did. See the remarkable video at right for proof, along with Kucinich's response to her breath-taking comments.
Impeachment shouldn't be done, she continued, with two feet firmly planted in her Bizarro World, "unless you have the goods that this President committed a crime."
(Pardon us while we pick up our head from the floor...)
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...
BUILDING A CITIZEN ARMY TO MONITOR ELECTIONS - All of us, in all 50 states, should be very concerned about what's going to happen on January 3. The stated results --- generated with secret central tabulation --- will play a large role in which candidate YOU can vote for in your state.
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 E-MAILBLOG ITEM TO SOMEONE YOU KNOW IN IOWA.
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...
The final day of testimony over the Pima County Democratic Party's public records request featured the remainder of the county's witnesses for the defense, a surprise call on an adverse witness, and pugnacious closing arguments. The matter now rests with Judge Michael Miller, who says he will decide the case within the next two weeks.
In brief, the Pima County (Tucson) Democratic Party is demanding Pima County release the Diebold GEMS tabulator databases containing voting data from the 2006 election, and those from all future elections, arguing that they are public records. The GEMS software is highly insecure, allowing anyone with access to the computer it runs on to manipulate the outcome of elections at will and likely cover their tracks. Elections are thus highly succeptable to manipulation by elections insiders, and there is no way to detect or deter them without access to the databases for forensic analysis. Pima County's position is that we should trust them to take care of that risk through internal checks and balances, and that releasing the databases simply creates more security risks by outsiders seeking to hack an election.
Both experts sought to convince the judge of the many security threats posed by release of the GEMS databases, and in my view, failed to sustain that position under the cross examination of the Democrats' attorney Bill Risner. Risner poked holes in all the threat scenarios the experts presented, showing them to be impracticable, absurd, or simply undefined.
The trial is heading into overtime. What was to be the third and final day of the trial ended with the Democratic Party having rested their case at the afternoon break and the County just getting into their witness list. Judge Miller called to reconvene at 8:30 a.m. Friday morning with a determination to finish the trial.
In brief, the Pima County (Tucson) Democratic Party is challenging Pima County to release the Diebold GEMS tabulator databases containing voting data from the 2006 election, and those from all future elections, on the presumption that they should be public records. There is a belief that the databases, if obtained by the party, may show fraud or other malfeasance by county election officials. The county maintains that releasing such information will make tampering in future elections easier, even though those same county officials and insiders have all the means and opportunity to manipulate elections.
Crane didn't do the county any favors. He undermined his own credibility, developed a great fondness for the expression "I can't recall," and, upon questioning by Judge Miller, revealed that the security threats the County claims are posed by the release of the GEMS database following an election are illusory or highly implausible.
Once the Democratic Party rested their case, the county moved for a judgment as a matter of law, which asks the judge to decide the case in their favor on just the plaintiff's testimony. It is largely a pro forma motion, but it provided an opportunity for counsels to frame the case thus far. Democrats' attorney Bill Risner took the opportunity to test a few of the themes that will likely figure in his closing arguments.
That footage of Risner making his case, is about 10 minutes long and is presented at the end of this post, hot off our press pool camera, in a BRAD BLOG exclusive. The judge took only a few minutes to decide that the plaintiffs had presented a sufficient case that the County must proceed with their side of the case.
The County put on their first witness, the elections director of Gila County, Arizona, another jurisdiction using an identical GEMS tabulation system. The choice backfired significantly. Her testimony revealed that she was completely ignorant of any security issues with the Diebold system her county uses, presumably because she relies on the Arizona Secretary of State and the Diebold corporation for security information. Her county contracts out their election preparation to a private company based in Glendale, Arizona, rather than do it in-house like in Pima County. The private company she contracts with just sends them back a prepared database, which the county then uses in their elections, never having checked the contents of the database.
Except for logic and accuracy testing (running a few sample ballots), the integrity of Gila County's elections rests entirely on the honesty of that private contractor.
The county then put on Merle King, the director of Georgia's Kennesaw College Center for Election Systems. The Democrats' legal team calls him 'The Man from Diebold.' He is a professional expert witness in voting systems who never saw a Diebold system he didn't love. The county made quite a production of eliciting the information that Mr. King had been paid the handsome sum of $10 to appear. I guess it was meant to illustrate how independent he is, but his expenses are being underwritten by someone: my money is on Diebold. His testimony and more will be available tomorrow.
In the meantime, enjoy the Democratic Party's champion Bill Risner presenting his motion for judgment, direct from the courtroom yesterday...
It was a day packed with testimony Wednesday in Tucson as the plaintiffs' attorney, Bill Risner, continued to crank through his witness list. The day ended with the last witness that will be called by the Democratic Party, Bryan Crane, whom Pima County Attorneys have repeatedly labeled "much maligned," just preparing for a rehabilitating friendly cross-examination by Pima County attorneys. Crane's testimony is pivotal to the case, and will be posted in its entirety tomorrow after cross and re-direct are complete.
To get up to speed with details on what this trial about, please see my introductory post, and if you missed yesterday's action, you may want to take a look at my summary of day one. In general, the Pima County (Tucson) Democratic Party, is challenging Pima County to release the Diebold GEMS tabulator databases containing voting data from the 2006 election on the presumption that it should be of public record. There is a belief that the databases, if obtained by the party, may show fraud and other malfeasance by county election officials. The county maintains that releasing such information will make tampering in future elections more feasible, even though those same county officials and insiders, currently have the easiest route to tampering with such elections, since they already have all the access they need to such information.
The witnesses on Wednesday included a slate of employees from the Pima County elections department. The summaries of the testimony of Isabel Araiza, Robert Evans, Chester Crowley, Romi Romero, and Mary Martinson are posted together on BlogForArizona.
These employees' testimony was sought by the plaintiffs to try to establish a pattern of negligent oversight and security procedures at the elections department, including the actions of head programmer, Bryan Crane (deposition video footage of Crane at bottom of this article), taking backups of election data home and illegally printing summaries that included current vote totals in the midst of elections and then sharing that data with persons not part of the election department.
The prime witnesses of the day, however, were Brad Nelson, the director of the elections department, Crane, the "much maligned" head programmer, and the man with responsibility for the entire bureaucracy, Chuck Huckleberry, the County Administrator...
It was an eventful day in the courtroom in Pima County yesterday, with opening statements and the first two plaintiff's witnesses' testimony. Already, the general shape of the controversy is becoming more clear and many of the media access issues have been favorably resolved. The Election Integrity press pool is providing video to local news and other interested parties on a non-exclusive basis and there is a ground-swell of support and interest in the trial and use of the resultant footage among journalists and documentarians.
See our initial backgrounder/intro to this trial, as posted yesterday, right here.
The position of the Democratic Party, argued in the courtroom yesterday, is that the statutory role of the political parties in Arizona, and in America historically, has been to oversee and participate deeply in our elections. The elections belong to the people, not the government. The database the party seeks access to on behalf of all political parties is the only computer record of the election that can provide the information needed to ensure that elections insiders cannot, and have not, manipulated the election. Absent a clear statement by the legislature, the parties should not be denied access to this crucial information to carry out their traditional role of ensuring the public's political rights. Certainly no tortured interpretation of outdated language regarding computer technology from a statute written in the 1980s should be allowed to deny the people access to their election data, only a clear and unambiguous expression from the legislature should be able to do that.
The position of Pima County, however, is that the database requested must remain confidential.
They argue that providing the database to the political parties would violate the standards promulgated by the Arizona Secretary of State because the files contain procedural information and code that is used to program elections machines, and could reveal information that might compromise future elections. The county agrees that the Diebold GEMS software used to tabulate votes has serious security flaws, but that is all the more reason to not allow the information in the database into the public domain...