On today's BradCast: A new technical analysis of the root causes of the Election Night tabulation disaster that halted counting during the U.S. House primary special election in Georgia's 6th Congressional District last month finds several "critical security flaws" in the computerized tabulation system that, the reports authors find, could affect both the highly contested upcoming June run-off, as well as other elections across Georgia and the rest of the nation. [Audio link to complete show posted at bottom of article.]
But, first today: Former Acting Attorney General Sally Yates finally testified in the U.S. Senate on Monday about the concerns she relayed to White House legal counsel shortly after the January inauguration, that then National Security Advisor Michael Flynn had lied about his conversations with a Russian diplomat and had, therefore, opened himself up to compromise and blackmail. We cover some of her Congressional testimony today, which was still ongoing at airtime.
In the meantime, voters who might wish to respond at the voting booth to the many concerns about the Trump Administration continue to face new obstacles placed in their way by new Republican enacted restrictions on voting. Another example comes out of Iowa, where, on Friday, the Governor signed a bill to require one of a small number of government-issued Photo IDs at the polling place, despite any evidence that such a restriction would have prevented any voter fraud in the Hawkeye State.
But even voters who are able to cast a vote continue to have legitimate concerns as to whether their votes are counted as cast. That's certainly the case in states like Georgia, which still forces voters to vote on 100% unverifiable touch-screen systems. On today's BradCast, Garland Favorito, co-founder of the non-partisan election integrity organization VoterGA, joins us to discuss his group's disturbing new preliminary Root Cause Analysis [PDF], published late last week, finding "critical security flaws" at the heart of the computer tabulation disaster that occurred on Election Night in Fulton County during last month's U.S. House Special Election primary in Georgia's 6th Congressional District.
Favorito, a long time career IT professional, explains the group's finding of a number of serious flaws, and his response to the state's Republican Sec. of State Brian Kemp who dismissed the problem, which halted vote counting for several hours on April 18th, as little more than "human error". Favorito also notes that, despite Kemp's promise of an investigation into the matter, public records requests have revealed that nobody has been assigned to carry out the probe as of last week when VoterGA issued their report.
Favorito explains that a memory card --- with results from a completely different election --- were allowed to be uploaded to the GA-06 contest on Election Night, and that the GEMS computer tabulation system (used across the state, but also used in hundreds of counties in other states as well, even on paper ballot optical-scan systems) failed to prevent the invalid data from being sent to the central tabulator.
"The system should have caught that," he tells me. "We found that to be almost amazing and we would consider those to be absolutely critical software flaws, that there was no validation" either at the remote location where results were uploaded, or at the main database server when they were received at county headquarters. "So, basically, that scenario could play itself out again almost any time." The real concern, he adds: "a bad guy could in fact legitimately change the results of an election through fraud" via these newly discovered security flaws.
When I asked Favorito whether I am right to characterize the state's Diebold touch-screen systems as "100% unverifiable," Favorito says: "You're 100% plus accurate. They are unverifiable. There is no way to detect whether or not fraud really occurred. We do not have verifiable elections in Georgia."
In hopes of avoiding another disaster, VoterGA is calling on voters to request absentee paper ballots for the much anticipated and hotly contested June 20th runoff election between Democratic candidate Jon Ossoff and his Republican opponent Karen Handel, the state's former Sec. of State, in what has already "smashed" the all-time record for the most money ever spent to win a single U.S. House election.
"You could actually conduct this race on Election Night and report the results, by paper, by hand [counting], faster than you could lugging all those expensive unverifiable machines to all the different precincts, and then going through the same upload process again just for this one race. It would be faster and cheaper. That's the irony of the whole situation," he says.
Favorito also explains what, if any, evidence of fraud was uncovered by the VoterGA analysis; SoS Kemp's failure to even respond to computer scientists and e-voting experts at Verified Voting who called for paper ballots in GA following a "massive data breach" in March at Kennesaw State University's Center for Elections, which is contracted to program all of the state's voting systems and electronic poll books; and some of the past election disasters in Georgia, such as a 2005 local tax referendum, with billions of dollars of taxes at stake in Cobb County, when hundreds of "blank" touch-screen ballots were reported in the results, despite the measure being the only item on the ballot during that special election. ("Why would voters take the time to drive to the polls, stand in line --- because it was a pretty hot issue --- sign in, go up into the voting booth, put their card in, and then decide not to cast their ballot after they got in there? That's just hard to believe. In fact, It's just unbelievable," Favorito insists.)
There's much more in today's, frankly, alarming conversation which should be of concern not just to voters of all political stripes in GA, but all across the country, given these latest findings revealing, yet again, that electronically tabulated results can be corrupted or manipulated in a way that would be virtually impossible for election officials, much less the public, to ever detect. Little wonder the latest Electoral Integrity Project report out today from Harvard and the University of Sydney, rate U.S. elections, once again, as the "worst among western democracies"...
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Funny thing. For some reason, professional, weapons-grade Rightwing troll Ann Coulter doesn't think her fellow Republicans should waste their time looking into issues of vote fraud. We wonder why.
Coulter, writing an op-ed in Jackson, Mississippi's Clarion-Ledger yesterday, is hoping to urge Republican "Tea Party" Senate candidate Chris McDaniel to not challenge the results of his very close, June 24th primary runoff election against six-term incumbent Republican Sen. Thad Cochran, warning that doing so is a "primrose path to political oblivion."
Well, we thought we'd join the "fun" as well. So this morning we Tweeted our own modified version of Coulter's photo, and that new photo immediately began receiving dozens of Re-Tweets. So, perhaps it's also worth noting here for history...especially since it happens to be true...
This story is horrific. It struck me even more so this morning, given that I had just been in contact with Virginia state Senator Creigh Deeds (D) last week on several occasions and had asked him to appear as my guest on the KPFK/Pacifica Radio BradCast.
Deeds is currently said to be in critical condition after being stabbed multiple times today in his own home, "in the head and torso," according to officials. His son Gus was found dead in the same home, the victim of "an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound," the Richmond Times-Dispatch reports, adding the detail that the son "had been released Monday following a mental health evaluation performed under an emergency custody order." Joe St. George of CBS6 reports that Gus had withdrawn last month from William & Mary College.
"The son was evaluated Monday at Bath County hospital," Dennis Cropper, executive director of the Rockbridge County Community Services Board told the Times-Dispatch, "but was released because no psychiatric bed could be located across a wide area of western Virginia."
The best news that can be reported from all of this for now is that officials said at a noon ET news conference today that VA's 2009 Democratic Gubernatorial candidate was able to communicate with state police about the incident before he was airlifted to a medical facility.
I had been in touch with Deeds over the last week or two in the course of our in-depth coverage of the incredibly close VA Attorney General post-election tabulation...
The Connecticut State Election Commission announced this morning in Hartford that "it cannot make a full and fair determination of the allegations" against Ann Coulter who was alleged to have committed voter fraud twice in the state by voting illegally from her residence in New York City while being registered at her parents home in the Nutmeg State.
However, The BRAD BLOG can report that, based on the Commission's five-page "Findings and Conclusions", it appears the Connecticut board either overlooked or ignored key evidence, including specific documentation of Coulter's illegal voting history in the state of Florida (they were only off by more than a year!), as well as her own incriminating admissions on the Fox "News" Channel about living in New York City......
Will Ann Coulter finally be held accountable for having committed voter fraud? We may find out on October 14th when the matter will come up at a public hearing by Connecticut's State Elections Commission after an extraordinarily long two-year delay since the complaints about her allegedly illegal absentee votes in 2002 and 2004 were filed.
As The BRAD BLOG spent years documenting beyond a shadow of a doubt concerning her voter registration fraud and voter fraud in a different state, Florida, Ann Coulter committed third degree felony voter registration fraud, along with a first degree voter fraud misdemeanor, when she lied about her residency and then knowingly voted at the wrong polling place in Palm Beach County, FL, in 2005.
Years of lying to the media, as well as election and law enforcement officials, and a last-minute, inappropriate intervention by a former boyfriend in the FBI, helped run out the clock on those charges. Her offenses in the Sunshine State were eventually found to be beyond the statute of limitations by the Florida State Election Commission (FSEC). The stalling by other friendly Florida agencies took so long that the FSEC didn't receive the case until years after it had been originally reported to law enforcement by the Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections. So she got off the hook and was never held accountable for easily documented crimes in Florida. [After years of reporting that part of the story in pieces as it developed, we told the entire sordid tale in one fell swoop in Hustler magazine. That April 2008 exposé can be read in full here.]
However, in Connecticut, where official complaints were filed in 2009 --- by a conservative activist --- that she also committed absentee voter fraud in the years prior to moving to Florida, when she allegedly voted illegally from her residence in New York, there is no such statute of limitations for voter fraud. [See UPDATE at bottom of story for someone who disagrees with that point.]
After a 20-month delay, Coulter's case is finally coming up for a vote at a public hearing before CT's State Elections Enforcement Commission (SEEC) on October 14th at 9:00am, 20 Trinity St. in Hartford CT, according to an email from the commission's MaryAnn Stratton and confirmation from the commission's director of communication...
HAMILTON — The Butler County Board of Elections website is under attack from an outside source, according to Board of Elections Director Betty McGary.
Although the "attack" is delaying communication of results on the board of election's website, McGary said it is not having an impact on actual ballot counting.
“We do not think that anyone has hacked into our site, but we have crashed three servers. And in examining those servers, there are two unidentified sites that are deliberately diverting traffic.”
McGary added: “Our servers are under attack, we feel."
The board of elections' information technology department is still working on the issue, she said.
“Our IT is saying this is being done deliberately,” McGary said. “This is definitely something of a concern for us, but the votes are safe.”
Long-time readers of The BRAD BLOG will remember that similar "glitches" affected the 2004 Presidential Election in the Buckeye State when the election night reporting website went down late in the evening, was moved to the "back up servers" of a far Rightwing firm in Chattanooga, TN, before coming back up to show that George W. Bush had taken the lead over John Kerry.
That system was created by Mike Connell, the GOP's IT guru who, in 2008, was subpeonaed for a deposition in a long-standing 2004 election fraud suit, only to die in a mysteriousplane crane just weeks after the election, before he could testify in open court. Computer security experts have long charged that the results of Ohio's '04 Presidential election may have been compromised by a so-called "man in the middle" computer attack as the servers changed locations that night.
Similarly, in the hotly contested 2005 Special Election contest between Jean Schmidt (R) and Paul Hackett (D) for Ohio's 2nd Congressional District seat, central tabulator computers went down during late-night counting in Clermont County, only to come back up showing Schmidt with the lead over Hackett.
Whether something similar could be going on tonight in Butler County remains to be seen, but the attacks on the servers certainly seem worth noting here should further information become available over the next few hours, days, or weeks.
[See end of article for an UPDATE on the above story.]
In another part of Ohio, Cuyahoga County (Cleveland) experienced its own predictable failures with its ES&S precinct-based optical-scan vote tabulators during pre-election testing over the weekend. 89 of the county's 1,200 machines (6%) froze up entirely during those tests...
It's been nearly five months since the official complaint about Ann Coulter's alleged voter fraud in 2002 and 2004 was filed in Connecticut, yet state election officials continue to refuse comment on the status of the case beyond acknowledging that it's "still pending," as recently confirmed by The BRAD BLOG.
Several charges of absentee voter fraud were alleged in the complaint against Coulter in Connecticut, where evidence shows she cast absentee ballots illegally while living in her then permanent New York City residence.
In addition to the head of the California GOP's voter registration firm pleading guilty to fraud last week (his company, Young Political Majors, is under investigation in several other states as well, and is alleged to have secretly changed thousands of registrations from Democratic to Republican, denying voters the ability to cast votes in last year's primary), and the Republican election official in Kentucky who last month pleaded guilty to participating in a massive election fraud conspiracy beginning in 2002, there still remains the outstanding official investigation into the allegations against Coulter, the GOP's storied Queen of Voter Fraud.
If all you watched was the Fox "News" Channel, however, and their increasingly bizarre --- and yet still evidence-free --- "investigation" into "voter fraud" by ACORN, you'd have no idea. That, even though Coulter herself continues to parade in front of their cameras as a regular guest without ever being asked about the official inquiry in the second state to investigate voting improprieties by the GOP superstar.
"The delay in this case is inexplicable given they need to prove two things: where she registered to vote/voted and where she lived when she registered to vote/voted," the complainant in the case, Daniel Borchers, a Christian conservative who has long opposed Coulter's behavior, told The BRAD BLOG. "Both are easily proven."...
An official state investigation is now underway into multiple voter fraud charges against Rightwing author and one-time attorney Ann Coulter in Connecticut. The investigation began after a complaint was filed with the state's Elections Enforcement Commission on January 29, 2009.
The BRAD BLOG has exclusively obtained a copy of that one-page complaint which is posted in full, as filed with Joan M. Andrews, Director of Legal Affairs and Enforcement for the commission, at the end of this article.
The complaint was filed by Daniel Borchers, a conservative Christian critic of Coulter's following allegations in the New York Daily News in January that she had illegally voted by absentee ballot in CT, using her parents address there, in 2002 and 2004, despite being a resident of New York City at the time.
Though the allegations of Coulter having committed voter fraud in CT in 2002 and 2004 would be her first known instances of casting ballots illegally, they are not the first allegations of such crimes against Coulter. In 2005, after she moved from NY to Palm Beach, FL, she knowingly falsified her Voter Registration Form (a 3rd degree felony), knowingly voted at the wrong precinct (a 1st degree misdemeanor), as well as gave a false address for her drivers license (another 3rd degree felony).
Despite an inaccurate report from AP in May of 2007, subsequently picked up by other media, Coulter was never "cleared" of the voter fraud charges in FL.
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...
The oft-cited pollster Mark Blumenthal, who writes about all matters related to polling and its methodology on his Mystery Pollster blog, has posted the results of his analysis/investigation into what he feels may have gone awry in the Columbus Dispatch polling just prior to the November 8th election in Ohio.
We've previously reported on the final results of the five initiatives on the ballot in the Buckeye State two weeks ago - four of them part of an Election Reform package --- and the "staggeringly impossible" disparities, as we described them, revealed by those results when compared to the results of the Dispatch's final pre-election polling. To catch anybody up who hasn't seen the numbers, here's one set of them:
ISSUE 3 (Revise campaign contribution limits)
PRE-POLLING: 61% Yes, 25% No, 14% Undecided
FINAL RESULT: 33% Yes, 66% No
Blumenthal deserves kudos for his serious and detailed investigation into both the Dispatch survey's "long and remarkable history of success," as he describes it, and where he feels they might have gone so astoundingly wrong this year for the very first time. He points to a few changes in the methodology for the poll; the Dispatch didn't use the precise text of the initiatives in its survey; included an "Undecided" option for the first time; an examination of the data seems to show the poll occurred at a time that the electorate was in the process of changing its opinions on the issues; and finally that many voters found the text of the actual ballot initiatives to be long and confusing leading them to take the safer vote of "No" when they were not clear about what they were actually voting for.
Where he doesn't deserve credit is in his approach which presumes from the start that there must be something wrong with the polling itself --- but not the Election Results --- to explain the unprecedented disparity between the polling and the final results of the actual election.
As a pollster himself, he surely knows that it's quite simple to construct a poll in such a way that one can get back results which match just about any pre-determined outcome an unscrupulous pollster may hope for. Similarly, as with Blumenthal's earlier efforts to examine the disparity of Exit Poll Results vs. Final Election Results in last November's Presidential Election, his approach presumes from the get-go that the polling, not the results, are incorrect...and now we just need to figure out why.
Fair enough, in general. No doubt the articles we've written about the Ohio '05 election results, as well as the one from Fitrakis and Wasserman at Free Press, tend to presume that the election results are suspect, more so than the polling or its methodology.
The difference, however, is that while we welcome the search for reasons why the Dispatch's historically accurate poll might suddenly have failed for the first time in such an unprecedented matter, we have as much or more reason to be skeptical of Ohio's Electoral System which has been documented as full of unquestionable corruption and all-sorts of top-to-bottom malfeasance. Particularly over the last year or so since the Presidential Election.
In other words: Sure, we can, and should, go looking for reasons why the Dispatch poll might have failed so mightily for the first time in its history, as others (including Blumenthal) did with the Exit Polls from November '04 which also --- just a coincidence, we know --- failed so hugely for the first time in their history. We can likely find anomalies to somewhat explain what might justify a pre-determined conclusion that Election Results are right and Pre-Election Polling must be wrong. But why would Blumenthal, or anybody else, have reason to believe that scientifically run polls with methodologies developed and honed over decades, run by pollsters with (theoretically) no dog in the hunt, should be less reliable than an Electoral System being run on newly developed, newly introduced technology employing secret software that nobody inspects for validity or integrity? All of which is run on machines which have a tremendous and documented known failure rate and are run by partisan officials with not just a stake in the outcome, but whose very livelihoods (in the case of the recent Ohio initiatives, as well as last November's election) are at stake in the final results. ...
The Corporate Mainstream Media may not give a damn about our democracy. Neither might the bulk of our politicians on both the Left and Right side of the aisle. But clearly the citizens do, and even one rightwing blogger who has recently seen at least some of the light...
The response to our article on the "staggeringly impossible" results of last week's election in Ohio on several Election Reform initiatives which would have struck deep into the heart of far-right Republican Ohio Sec. of State J. Kenneth Blackwell has been notable to say the least.
We felt the report was notable enough that we decided to cross-post it both at BRAD BLOGandat HuffPo, where --- though it was never added to the front page as a "featured blog" --- it has already received an extraordinary 93 comments as of this posting.
To give you an idea of what that story documented, here are the numbers from just one of the four Election Reform initiatives which all ended up failing by numbers which defy reasonable explanation when compared to the historically accurate Columbus Dispatch poll, completed and published just days before the Election in the Buckeye state:
ISSUE 3 (Revise campaign contribution limits)
PRE-POLLING: 61% Yes, 25% No, 14% Undecided
FINAL RESULT: 33% Yes, 66% No
The results on that issue alone was so far askew that it was enough to give the usually dubious Mark Blumenthal of Mystery Pollster pause enough to comment, "These results had MP seriously wondering whether the pollsters or election officials had mistakenly transposed 'yes' and 'no' in their tables."
See the original post for a comparison of Polling vs Final Results for all of the initatives, but suffice to say while the one above was the most inexplicably out-of-whack, the others, with the exception of Issue 1 --- which was the only one supported by Ohio's Republican Governor and on which the Dispatch poll was virtually right on the money on "Yes" voters --- all of the initiative Final Results bring the entire election machinery in Ohio once again under deservedly fresh scrutiny.
(We'll remind you that Ohio's results in the '04 Presidential Election squeeker, where just 6 votes for Kerry instead of Bush at each precinct would have changed the entire result for the nation. And also that the results from that election remain completely suspect, largely uncounted, and never recounted according to state law even while several elections officials have either been indicted or remain under investigation for their role in gaming that fiasco...the one in the state which gave Bush enough electoral votes to claim the Presidency).
The original report we filed, discussed an article by Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman of the Free Press in Columbus where they've been detailing an extraordinary amount of the election chicanery and "irregularities" under the iron-fisted rule of Blackwell, the Ohio elections arbiter and Bush/Cheney '04 Co-Chair in a state which is currently a snakepit of Republican machinery and out-and-out corruption.
Amongst the comments at both BRAD BLOG and HuffPo where the blog item was posted, a few, as expected, have knee-jerked that it must have been the Columbus Dispatch polling that was wrong, rather than the Final Results reported by the State which added brand-spankin' new, and wholly unaccountable, unrecountable, untransparent, and undemocratic Electronic Voting Machines for the first time in this election to 44 of its 88 counties. Machines which use secret software on which voters are asked to trust --- but not verify --- that their votes will be recorded accurately...or at all.
In addition to those 44 counties (41 of them using the same machines by Diebold, Inc. that the Republican Sec. of State in California recently decertified for their 20% failure rate), several other counties already use Electronic Voting Machines, and nearly all of them use electronic tabulating machines of one brand or another to count those votes.
We spoke yesterday to Fitrakis about the Dispatch poll's "historic accuracy" (which he described as "legendary" in our phone call) and about the various wingnuts who predictably presume the polling, instead of the election results, were wrong...
So much crime fighting, so little time. I've fallen desperately behind on posting some of the radio appearances I've done of late. (Along with falling behind on everything else...so my continued apologies for unreplied email, unread comments, and un-everything I wish I had more time in each day for! I'm doing my best however, and will keep chasing to get caught where it's possible.) To make up for the unposted radio spots, here's a collection of some freshly minted ones of which you may choose to listen at your liesure...Or not.
3/21/05: 30 easy-goin' minutes from a 3/21/05 interview on Guy Rathbun's KCBX show, "An Evening With..." In this case, it was an evening with yours truly. On VR et al. I think it was a nice interview. Enjoyed it very much. Guy is good. The show won't actually air until 3/30/05, but Guy was kind enough to post the recorded interview on his archives today. So kind, in fact, that I'll let him us to the bandwidth for the MP3 of the interview.