House holds Bannon in contempt; TX Lt. Gov. pays out for GOP voter fraud; CA GOP's recall boondoggle; Vets dump Sinema; Manchin could dump Dems; TX steals minority House seats; IL boosts Dems (a little)...
[Now updated at bottom with details from the indictments.]
Those of us who have demanded transparent voting systems because we understand that only the ability for complete citizen oversight and transparency can effectively counter those who would game elections, have been disingenuously criticized over the years as somehow questioning the integrity of the hard-working, honest election officials out there.
The fact is, those who know anything about computer security understand that it is the insiders who are, by far, the greatest threat to security on such systems, as even the phony, GOP-operative-created Baker/Carter National Election Reform Commission determined in its final report: "There is no reason to trust insiders in the election industry any more than in other industries."
The best election officials in the country, however, will underscore that point, and agree that there is no reason any citizen should ever have to simply "trust" them.
Over the years, we've detailed the arrests and other unsavory behavior of many of the not-so-good election officials who, we were told, should simply have been trusted (our "favorite" has always been the case of Monterey CA's Tony Anchundo, who told us on air we should "trust" him, just a month or two before being arrested on 43 counts).
Well, now we've got a whole passel of still more crooked officials to add to the list. Moreover: The Kentucky officials arrested and indicted today, "including the circuit court judge, the county clerk, and election officers" of Clay County, have been charged with "chang[ing] votes at the voting machine" and showing others how to do it!
If a judge’s ruling in Pima County, Arizona, stands, ballots from the long-contested 2006 Regional Transit Authority (RTA) election will be destroyed, and there will never be a definitive answer as to whether or not the election may have been rigged, as critics have charged.
It’s too late for the actual results of the election to be changed, but knowing whether the election was tampered with is critical to guaranteeing the integrity of future elections, according to local Election Integrity advocates who won a landmark lawsuit, resulting in the unprecedented release of terrabytes of Diebold databases. The databases, containing information on how voters voted, were found by the judge in the suit, to be public records.
Yet, the same people who ran the '06 RTA election are still in charge of elections in Pima County, and the same election software is still in place. If one election was rigged, there is little stopping them from rigging others in the future.
The RTA bond measure was reportedly passed by voters in 2006, but Pima County Democrats and Libertarians believe there is substantial evidence the measure actually went down and the results were flipped in the vote counting computer. The optical-scan paper ballots themselves have never actually been counted. They’re sitting in sealed boxes in the County Treasurer’s office, and may soon be destroyed. The Democrats and Libertarians went to court last month, asking the judge to save the ballots, so they may actually be counted in the future.
In his ruling, however, Judge Charles Harrington's claims he has no jurisdiction in the matter...
All 185 of the completely unverifiable Diebold touch-screen voting machines used in Northumberland County, PA's election were ordered impounded by a judge Tuesday night after complaints from both the Republican and Democratic parties. Officials from both parties had filed requested action following reports from voters that straight-party ticket votes were not showing voters the names of their selection for President on the summary screen near the end of the 100% faith-based touch-screen voting process.
Problems with straight-party voting, particularly on touch-screen voting systems, were reported in a number of states that allow the practice, during the early voting period in the days leading up to Election Day.
While one Diebold AccuVote touch-screen machine was impounded by an official in Colorado following reports of votes flipping on the screen from Democratic to Republican candidates in early voting --- and even with hundreds of similar startling problems reported directly to the Obama campaign as The BRAD BLOG reported exclusively on Monday --- no other action was taken on or before Election Day to remove these wholly unverifiable systems from use until Tuesday night's court-ordered quarantine of the Northumberland County machines.
The same unverifiable machines made by Diebold were used in a number of states, including the entirety of Georgia where a run-off has been scheduled following a tight race for the U.S. Senate there. The same models were also found, by a landmark Princeton study in 2006, to be easily susceptible to malicious viruses that could result in a flipped election which would be difficult, if not impossible, to discover...
16,632 votes are unaccounted for in a Palm Beach County election recount following last Tuesday's state primary, according to Ellen H. Brodsky, non-partisan candidate for Supervisor of Elections in Broward County and a long-time Election Integrity advocate.
The machine recount was completed early Saturday morning in the Circuit Court race between Judge Richard Wennet and challenger William Abramson, Brodsky reports via email. The machine recount was completed at 4:30am, in the race in which Wennet and Abramson were separated by just 18 votes in the initial machine tally. Palm Beach County recently changed voting systems again, moving from faulty touch-screen voting systems to --- apparently --- faulty optical-scan paper-ballot systems made by Sequoia Voting Systems, Inc. [PDF].
The still-unexplained "disappearance" of votes in the machine recount "has severe repercussions," Brodsky wrote in an email alert this afternoon describing the re-scan of some 90,000 ballots.
"With 16,632 less votes on summary report," she writes, it "portends dire consequences for the November election and all elections."
The question remains as to how many votes were lost in other races on the same ballot which were not included in last night's re-tally. Florida state law disallows hand-counting of paper ballots which have already been counted by machine, other than in special circumstances. We'll see if this ends up being one of those circumstances. Theoretically, a hand-count would determine the correct totals for the race, where the machine-count has misreported totals. [UPDATE: Palm Beach Post reports the machine recount was close enough to allow for a hand-count of over votes and undervotes. See more in the update at end of this article.]
Sequoia's voting machines have seen notorious failures of late, including lost votes and other problems, around the country...
Congratulations to filmmaker David Earnhardt and crew! See below for the press release, just out today from Starz, announcing that his seminal election integrity documentary, Uncounted: The New Math of American Elections, will be premiering on several of the pay cable net's outlets beginning on August 28th.
"Think your vote counts? Think again," the announcement trumpets, before describing the film as "A searing indictment of the election process as it affected both the 2004 and 2006 Elections...And could affect the outcome of the 2008 Election."
We, of course, have been singing Uncounted's praises for quite some time here at The BRAD BLOG --- even though we're prominently featured in it, we highly recommend it nonetheless --- and we'll take this opportunity to again remind readers that Earnhardt has been kind enough to offer hand-signed DVD versions of the film available as a premium here only for our readers.
(Snail mail donations are also welcome; see the blue box on the right of every page here for our address. For other related premium offers, helpful in keeping our work going, please see this page. As always, your support is greatly appreciated and much needed! It will also help us with gas money to get out to the Democratic Convention next, where we're sure the Dems will just be delighted to see us, after having refused us press credentials. But, of course, we've got a Plan B. Wish us luck! And thanks in advance for any help you can offer!)
The complete news release, announcing Uncounted's premiere on the Starz network, follows below...
Arizona's election watchdog group, Audit AZ, went to the state Attorney General in its efforts to learn the truth about Pima County's 2006 RTA (Regional Transportation Authority) election. Attorney Bill Risner handed Arizona AG Terry Goddard a letter detailing the evidence suggesting that the RTA election was flipped. The clearly written letter is accompanied by dozens of documents as well as video links to depositions and testimony from the 2007 court case Risner won for the Pima County Democratic Party. As a result of that case, every political party in the county has access to Diebold's database files, recording how voters voted, from previous and future elections.
In May, 2007, on the heels of questions about the results of the '06 RTA election following polls and previous elections in which similar initiatives were rejected by voters, the Arizona Attorney General's office launched a criminal investigation into the RTA election. The software quality assurance firm, iBeta, was given computer databases to look over which indicated the vote counting might have been tampered with. Though iBeta saw instances of possible tampering, it decided they were simply the result of "human error." Using tortured logic, iBeta said the signs of possible tampering were evidence that there was actually no tampering, since anyone who knew how to manipulate the data would also know how to cover their computer tracks and leave no evidence behind.
Risner's letter explains how the direction of the AG's investigation was, incredibly, set by the suspects themselves, members of the Pima County Elections Division. Those officials, Risner details, purposely turned the investigation away from the very evidence which could have proven their guilt in manipulating the results.
Those very same officials are named in a startling new affidavit from a former county employee who recently came forward to allege he was told by a Pima County election official that they had "fixed" the RTA election...
The Pima County, Arizona, Diebold vote tabulation system was manipulated to "pass" a 2006 ballot initiative when, in fact, the measure was actually voted down, according to a startling new allegation revealed today by the election watchdog group Audit AZ.
The long-running election integrity battles in Pima flared up again this afternoon as an explosive affidavit from a former county official was released at a press conference held by the tenacious local organization. On the heels of several recent Audit AZ court victories, resulting in the unprecedented if long overdue release of mountains of previously "proprietary" Diebold election databases, today's presser was well attended by much of the local media.
The conference was held as news comes that the ballots for the 2006 Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) election are set to be destroyed, according to a letter sent by the Pima County Treasurer to the Chair of the Pima County Democratic Party, Vince Rabago. The June 2008 letter, posted at the end of this article, says that Rabago has the right to request that the ballots not be destroyed, which would save them temporarily. Bill Risner, the lawyer for the successful suit to obtain copies of the county's election databases, said at the press conference that the State Attorney General needs to step in and not only demand that the ballots be saved but order that they be counted to see if the total agrees with the "official" numbers that came out of the election department's computer given the extraordinary new allegations.
The potentially explosive new piece of information introduced during the press conference was a sworn affidavit from Zbigniew Osmolski, a former Pima County employee, stating that Bryan Crane, the computer operator at the Pima County Elections Division, told him, during a conversation in a bar, that the RTA Election was "fixed...on the instructions of his bosses."
According to Osmolski's affidavit (posted in full at the end of this article):
During that conversation Bryan Crane told me he "fixed" the RTA, or Regional Transportation Authority election on the instructions of his bosses and he did what he was told to do. Mr. Crane expressed his concern about being indicted and said he would like to talk but couldn't trust anyone.
The affidavit is the latest in a series of red flags concerning the RTA election. Other red flags include: (1) This was a sales tax increase, the type of vote that usually fails, and it looked like it was going down in the days prior to the election; (2) The database on the vote counting computer was erased and replaced a day into the early ballot scanning; (3) Unauthorized vote total summary reports were printed during the counting; (4) A tape of the original ballot layout stored with the Secretary of State --- which could have indicated if the vote was flipped --- was sent back to the County, which lost it; (5) An investigation into the election completed by the Attorney General's office was cursory and inconclusive.
A video of the press conference is now available here...
The Osmolski affidavit and County Treasurer's letter concerning the impending destruction of the ballots from the RTA election follow below...
Good news for voters across American on Friday, as the judge in the Pima County, AZ, court case has finally agreed that citizens can try and see how citizens voted in elections, even if they are run by Diebold.
Via email from AZ Electon Integrity advocate Jim March...
Judge Miller's final decision came in this morning on the public records case filed by the Pima Democratic Party.In short:
All Diebold database files held in the trust's vault are to be released.These go back to 1998.
Database files in future elections are to be made available at the time of the final canvass.The judge appears to be suggesting that CD/DVDs or similar media with this material be prepared by the county for immediate release so that the material can affect challenges within the statutory five-day limit from the day of the canvass.
There is nothing in this order regarding the legal bills rung up by [plaintiff's] Attorney Bill Risner. However, given the now-absolute victory in this revised order (attacheded note:download here [PDF]) plus recent changes to AZ law supporting legal fees and costs where a government agency loses a public records suit, it seems very clear Mr. Risner is getting paid
More power to you if you can figure out who the actual bad guys are here, versus the actual good guys (if any) in the following news, breaking this afternoon. At this point, the corruption across so many federal agencies has become so pervasive we couldn't even begin to guess at what's actually going on here, and who, if anyone anymore, can be trusted.
Call it the unintended (or, the intended) consequences of the Bush Era of Shame and Criminality.
On Election Day in 2006, in Sarasota County's 13th U.S. Congressional district race, some 18,000 votes cast on ES&S iVotronic touch-screen systems failed to register a vote for either candidate on the ballot. It was an extraordinarily high undervote rate, which has never been explained, in an election outcome determined by just 369 votes. (BRAD BLOG's long series of reports on FL-13 here.)
Nonetheless, just last year, the county's horrible, and still un-resigned, Supervisor of Elections, Kathy Dent (one of the country's absolute worst), lied to a bunch of colleagues during a speaking engagement at the Pacific Northwest Election Conference.
"It was only after the results were in and the 18,000 undervotes were revealed that all of a sudden there were all of these folks that started saying well they couldn't touch the machines ... and their vote wasn't registering," she tells her colleagues, as seen in the video above right, as captured by Ginny Ross of the Oregon Voter Rights Coalition.
"But they were all after the fact," Dent informs the crowd, "and there were no phone calls coming into my office. So it's a little bit of an indication that there may have been some politics involved in this."
Documentation from her own office, however (yes, a paper trail!), shows incontestably that the Election Director's comments, as caught on tape, are a complete and utter and unrepentant fabrication...
At least one photo I hadn't previously seen, even as Pennsylvania officials were telling the media that all was going well last Tuesday. Even while we documented, in no uncertain terms, that it wasn't.
(Hat-tip to NCVoter's Joyce McCloy, to whom we wish the best of luck in the upcoming North Carolina primary. What could possibly go wrong?)
UPDATE: Several readers have written in to point out the above photo does come from Allentown, PA, but from the 2006 election, as originally reported here. Can't believe I'd never seen that photo before! In any case, happy to put it on the official BRAD BLOG record here, as just one more way these machines can fail on Election Day, leaving the possibility of voters unable to even cast a ballot (much less have it be counted in a way that can be verified as accurate, a notion that is strictly impossible with the type of voting machine seen above, even when it "works" as designed!)
The Sarasota Herald-Tribune's column today on the awful Sarasota, FL, Supervisor of Elections, Kathy Dent --- and the criminal complaint against her outrageous, unlawful Election Day, in-precinct campaigning against a 2006 ballot initiative to ban touch-screen voting machines in the county (the initiative passed, despite her best efforts, and carefully placed brochures on voter sign-in tables!) --- is so good that I don't want to quote from it.
As the Herald-Trib describes, as revealed in Dent's interview conducted by the Florida Dept. of Law Enforcement, concerning her inappropriate (and illegal) placement of pro-touch-screen brochures in polling places, Dent admits she was aware of a voter's complaint about it, but ignored it "because she had assumed it was from 'one of the activists' that had been criticizing her and her machines."
The FDLE report on the matter, including their interview with the apparently-pathological Ms. Dent, as referenced in the column as "good reading", may be downloaded here [PDF, 16mb].
Dent, of course, is the woman who also presided over the FL-13 U.S. Congressional election that same year, when 18,000 votes disappeared in her county only, and only on her precious, now-banned, ES&S Ivotronic touch-screen machines, as the Republican Vern Buchanan reportedly edged out Democrat Christine Jennings by just 369 votes.
If the linked column doesn't give you enough of an idea of what a horrible, anti-democracy villain Dent really is, perhaps the following lovely, 30-second phone message --- left on the voice mail of Tallahassee' Election Supervisor (and democracy hero), Ion Sancho, moments after he appeared on a Fort Myers radio show, heard in Sarasota, in which he was asked about, and praised, the Sarasota citizen ballot initiative to do away with the touch-screens --- will give you some idea:
Sancho adds that Dent was also scheduled to appear on the same program, but begged off, likely after she'd heard that he would also be a guest. Though when he got off the air and checked his cell phone messages, he found she'd called immediately after the program. So she was apparently available to listen to it, at least, even if she didn't have the courage to come on and defend her views.
We hope to have more soon on Dent and this case --- for which she's (incredibly) been exonorated by the FDLE --- in the not-too-distant future.
CORRECTION/UPDATE: We originally characterized the phone call from Dent to Sancho, posted above, as being in regard to the FL-13 election fiasco. In fact, Dent's call to Sancho was made prior to the '06 Election, in reference to his radio interview comments on the Election Reform initiative, as now explained above. We touched base with Sancho just now, and he had some additional thoughts about Dent and her inappropriate campaign to defeat the initiative in question. Said Sancho: "This woman knowingly campaigned against an initiative on the ballot. If she wanted to do that, at a minimum, she should have formed a political action committee to do so. Supervisors of Elections don't give up their right to free speech, but they have to follow the law, particularly if they wish to influence anything on the ballot."
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Ohio's Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner is planning "a first-of-its-kind audit of votes from the March 4 presidential primaries, saying the outcome should help ensure the integrity of future elections," according to a report this morning from the Columbus Dispatch.
"Brunner is calling on 11 counties to volunteer for the audit, in which at least 7 percent of the votes cast in each county would be rechecked by hand," the paper reports.
That's good. But there are a couple of points that we hope she is well aware of, since such post-election audits can offer a deceptive result in a number of cases...especially on touch-screen machines...and especially in Ohio...
MSNBC's Dan Abrams continued, for the third day in a row, on the Don Siegelman beat today. The former Democratic Alabama Governor, who still sits in jail pending an appeal for his non-violent crime, is alleged to have been railroaded by Karl Rove and political operatives in the state while running for re-election in 2006.
In 2002 he had won his election, according to the announced results on Election Night, only to wake up the next morning to find that a Republican election director claimed to have discovered a "glitch" (sound familiar, regular BRAD BLOG readers?) in the electronic vote counts overnight, resulting in Siegelman's loss. He was never allowed a recount after the vote tallies somehow changed on the electronic voting machines due to the "glitch," as it was described officially, by court probate officers.
Neither the 60 Minutes report on Siegelman from Sunday, nor any of Abrams' reports so far this week (here's Tuesday's and Wednesday's) including today's, as posted at the end of this article, have yet delved, with any depth, into that aspect of what seems clearly to have been a well-run political frame-up --- or, yes, a conspiracy --- to do away with the one Democrat who had been able to win statewide elections in an otherwise very Republican-leaning state.
We hope to have more on that aspect of the case soon.
On today's MSNBC "Bush League Justice" report, Abrams spoke with both Siegelman's attorney, Vince Kilborn, as well as Grant Woods, the former Republican Attorney General from Arizona who has been among the most outspoken of the 52 former Republican and Democratic Attorneys General who have called on Congress for an investigation and a special prosecutor to be named in the case.
Abrams repeated his call, from yesterday, for the immediate release of Siegelman from prison, pending appeal of his case, as would be customary in other similar, non-violent cases. Abrams enumerated his chief concerns about the prosecution and the trial as run by federal judge Mark Fuller, as follows...
Dan Abrams once again tackles the Don Siegelman case in his stellar "Bush League Justice" series on MSNBC. Tonight's guests included Scott Horton of Harper's, former Alabama GOP operative Dana Jill Simpson, and Governor Siegelman's daughter, Dana Siegelman.
Abrams and Horton opened the segment discussing the remarkable 60 Minutesblackout of the Siegelman story in Alabama on Sunday. According to the local CBS station the blackout occurred because of a faulty receiver. An incredulous Abrams then proceeded to make a mockery out of the laughable excuse:
It's sooo hard to believe - the notion that a receiver, in Alabama, just during the Siegelman story, just during 60 Minutes - I mean, they got it resolved, right? Right at the end, just as the story is finishing up, right?
After playing more of his interview with Karl Rove accuser Simpson from yesterday's show, Abrams made his first of many calls for Governor Siegelman's release from prison:
But there are serious questions that should lead the Justice Department and the judge to, at the very least, release Siegelman while he appeals.
Amazingly, Siegelman is unable to appeal his case because the government has failed to produce a transcript of the trial which was completed over 18 months ago.
Later Dana Siegelman tries to answer some of the many unanswerable questions regarding her father's case before flat out telling Abrams that the judge is "trying to keep her dad hushed as long as he possibly can" and that her father "knows Karl Rove is behind this."
Part 1 (9:49), Part 2 (2:08)
RELATED:Note that part of The BRAD BLOG's encounter with Karl Rove on Monday appears at the beginning of the segment. You can also catch two former "Bush League Justice" installments about the Siegelman case here at The BRAD BLOG: In the most recent, posted Tuesday Abrams called on AG Mukasey to open an investigation into the case and in the other, back in December, Abrams was the first in the mainstream corporate media to cover the Siegelman case.