"A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes."-Mark Twain
One of the basic axioms of law is that fraud vitiates consent. One of the foundational principles of democratic governance is that legitimacy rests on the informed consent of the governed. Come November, those principles will be tested in California.
Billionaire Meg Whitman, a former EBay CEO who surpassed the $100 million mark in campaign spending nearly a month prior to the traditional Labor Day kickoff of the Fall campaign, who, by Sept. 16, had donated a record-smashing $119 million of her own funds to her campaign, who refused to meet with former California Democratic Governor Jerry Brown and Republican State Insurance Commissioner Steve Poisner in a pre-primary debate, has knowingly sought to fill the gaping knowledge deficit created by the corporate media's gross neglect of its fourth estate responsibilities with disinformation about Brown, her Democratic opponent.
When confronted by an analysis which exposed a powerful but deliberately deceptive ad (video below) which shows former President Bill Clinton accusing Brown of lying about his tax record based on a CNN report which is now known to be erroneous, Whitman's spokesperson, Darrell Ng dismissed the idea of pulling the deceptive ad as "ridiculous"...
Taking a page from the successful hit campaign the Republican right ran against former White House Green Jobs Advisor Van Jones, one of rightwing activist Andrew Breitbart's website's "Andrew Breitbart Presents...Big Journalism," is now attempting to use a McCarthy-like guilt-by-association smear against Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan.
But my own 2005 interview with their latest target kinda blows the very basis for their entire attempted High-Tech Lynching/Conspiracy Theory....
I'm certain that John would have been simply flabbergasted at the outpouring of emotional response and moving tributes upon his passing --- in particular from various public officials, many of whom he'd been at odds with at various times over the years.
The latest comes this morning in the form of condolences, and a very moving statement on his loss, from OH Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner via her Director of Communications, Patrick Gallaway...
Last week our friends, voting rights attorney John Bonifaz of VoterAction.org and Greg Moore of the NAACP National Voter Fund, testified at a U.S. House Administrative Committee hearing on the 2008 Presidential Primaries and Caucuses and "What we've learned so far."
What we've learned, as Bonifaz explained in his opening statement (written version here [PDF], full video at the end of this article) is that "jurisdictions across the country are increasingly outsourcing, to private vendors, key election functions, and in the process, compromising the transparency and public control of our elections."
While all of that is likely old hat, by now, to readers of The BRAD BLOG, where our hair has been on fire about same for many years now, there was an interesting moment during the Q&A with a Republican congressman and panelists Moore and Bonifaz, as seen in the very short exchange (just under two minutes) in the video clip posted above left.
The Congressman --- at least momentarily --- stepped off the GOP reservation, to admit that the private corporations that fail in their outsourced election duties "should be fired"...
Today our friends at VoterAction announced an action alert to ask the United State's Congress to take action to investigate "the increasing influence and control that private companies wage in the way we conduct our elections and to determine whether certain US voting systems companies have committed crimes under federal and state anti-fraud statutes which should be referred to the appropriate authorities for prosecution".
VoterAction is asking that you sign a petition to congress.
Their statement follows on the heels of evidence revealed in Dan Rather's stunning investigative report on "The Trouble with Touchscreens" (complete video now posted here) and charges that the report "raises serious questions as to whether US voting systems companies have engaged in commercial fraud by knowingly marketing defective products to jurisdictions throughout the country."
It may not be a very good day in the corporate offices at Diebold, but The BRAD BLOG has learned some big news that may well indicate today is a very good day indeed for the voters of America and specifically in California.
As incoming Sec. of State Debra Bowen was sworn in to her new office just moments ago, The BRAD BLOG can now reveal that one of the nation's top critics of unverifiable electronic voting systems --- and a key player across several states in the legal battles against voting machine companies such as Diebold, ES&S, Sequoia Voting Systems, and Hart Intercivic --- is today being named by the new California Sec. of State Debra Bowen as Deputy SoS for Voting Systems Technology and Policy.
Lowell Finley, the lead attorney for the non-partisan voting machine legal watchdog organization VoterAction.org, will be named to the position today.
In his new capacity, Finley will oversee testing and certification for all voting machine technology in the State of California. In a phone call this morning, Finley confirmed that he would be working closely in his new role with key national associations like the National Institute for Science and Technology (NIST) and the U.S. Elections Assistance Commission (EAC).
E-voting critics and at least one California Registrar of Voters have hailed both the swearing in of Bowen as SoS and her appointment of Finley, expressing delight to The BRAD BLOG over the news, characterizing it as a "colossal surprise" and a "very, very good sign for the future of voters' rights in California."
America's voting machine companies are less likely to feel quite as happy about the news.
Finley and VoterAction have filed a number of landmark lawsuits in several states, including in California, over the past year or so, demanding an immediate halt to the use and purchase of Direct Recording Electronic (DRE/touch-screen) voting systems and decertification of many of those systems, as well as improved processes for certification of such systems.
VoterAction is one of over 30 Election Reform organizations who recently went on record with an open letter to Members of Congress demanding federal legislation requiring a paper ballot for every vote cast in America. Such legislation would effectively ban the use of DRE systems, with or without a so-callled "Voter Verified Paper Trail" (VVPAT).
Bowen has been a dogged critic of former Secretary of State Bruce McPherson during her candidacy and in her role overseeing the Elections Committee as a California State Senator. She has criticized his lack of oversight and lax testing procedures, and has championed a "Voters' Bill of Rights" for the Golden State.
While a suit by VoterAction.org filed against former SoS McPherson and several CA Registrars of Voting --- concerning McPherson's certification of Diebold TSx touch-screen systems --- is still pending in state court, the disposition of that suit will likely change due to the fact that the lead defendant, McPherson, is no longer in office.
The Berkeley-based attorney Finley --- also one of the attorneys representing voter plaintiffs in the contested election in Florida's 13th Congressional district in Sarasota --- had one of his most recent and notable successes last September, when a Colorado judge ordered a complete review of certification procedures for voting machines in the state. The court found the official placed in charge of testing and certification didn't have the qualifications necessary, and performed little or no testing. That man, John Gardner, was appointed by former CO Sec. of State Donetta Davidson, who has been appointed by George W. Bush to head the U.S. Elections Assistance Commission.
The news of Finley's appointment will undoubtedly be of concern to the major voting machine companies that received little oversight from the former Sec. of State McPherson.
"I wish I was a fly on the wall in the offices at Diebold as they learn of this appointment. I'm sure jaws will be dropping and damage control will be ramping up," John Gideon of election watchdog organization VotersUnite.org told us today. (Gideon is also a frequent Guest Blogger here at The BRAD BLOG.) ...
An instructional web page, explaining the ES&S touch-screen electronic voting machines in use during Florida's disputed FL-13 U.S. House Election gives faulty information to voters about the way the county's paperless voting systems works, The BRAD BLOG has learned.
The information offered on the county's election website, concerning the crucial process during which voters might choose to adjust any "undervotes" found on their electronic "ballots" at the end of the voting process, is misleading and incorrect. According to several sources, the systems in use during the contested November 7th U.S. House race between Vern Buchanan (R) and Christine Jennings (D) did not operate as advertised by the Sarasota County website.
The county web page in question is described as "a technical look at how the ES&S iVotronic touch screen system works." Yet, Sarasota's ES&S iVotronic systems, apparently, didn't work as described on the site.
The "VOTE button" on the iVotronic, as explained by the text on the website, will cast the vote only after the summary page is given to the voters, allowing them to explicitly approve or disapprove of any undervotes found on their "ballots."
"The iVotronic will review the ballot for any races for which the voter did not cast a vote (undervote), and asks if this is the intent of the voter," according to the webpage. The voter is then said to receive a YES or NO option to confirm their intention of undervoting in the particular race(s).
(The webpage is here. Click the #5 option to see how the "VOTE button" on the system is supposed to work. A screenshot of the page follows at the end of this article.)
Lowell Finley, however, an attorney for VoterAction.org --- one of several non-partisan organizations leading a voter lawsuit demanding a revote in the election --- tells The BRAD BLOG that "the statement on the Sarasota website is false" and that voters were not given such an option on November 7th.
We also inquired about the matter on Friday afternoon with the office of "the Honorable" Kathy Dent, Sarasota County's Supervisor of Elections...
The Coalition For Voting Integrity (CVI) in Pennsylvania has announced that beginning tonight and weekly they will be doing a one-hour radio program that centers on voting issues and democracy.
The program can be heard locally in the SE Pennsylvania and S New Jersey area via WNJC Radio 1360AM or it can be heard live via the internet by going here. They are encouraging audience participation so if you have questions/comments for tonights guest, Lowell Finley of VoterAction you can call 856 227 1360.
We are happy to see another group sharing their voices with Brad and the others who are on the radio spreading the good, bad and ugly news about our elections. The whole CVI Press Release has upcoming guests and more information....
More VoterAction.org lawsuits and complaints are now being filed to stop the use and/or purchase of electronic voting systems around the country. On Wednesday, two more. One in California, another in Wisconsin.
In Alameda County, CA a suit was filed to stop of the use of Sequoia Voting Systems touch-screen DRE's, alleging the county "has not performed independent, expert security vulnerability testing on its new Sequoia voting equipment. The group claims such testing was a prerequisite stipulated by county supervisors before the county would issue payment for the system." ...
I just received a phone call from Holly Jacobson of VoterAction.org, the group that has supported voter lawsuits attempting to decertify e-voting machines in Colorado, California, Arizona, Pennsylvania and elsewhere.
She called us from Colorado just after leaving the courtroom, where the case in that state against the use and purchase of e-voting systems made by Diebold, ES&S, Sequoia and Hart InterCivic was being heard yesterday. She called and said: "We won!"
That call came moments after I'd received a report that CNN's Lou Dobbs had reported an hour or so ago that they had lost the case...
In a just issued Press Release, VoterAction has announced that California voters are challenging the use of the Diebold TSx touch screen voting system and that they have filed a motion for preliminary injunction in state court.
This announcement follows the July 18 announcement that an attempt by the state to move the original suit from the state courts to federal court had failed.
Just reported by VoterAction.org, the great group led by attorney Lowell Finley, is that a US District Court Judge has sent the lawsuit, Holder v. McPherson et. al. back to state court. This is a victory for the voters of the state of California and is the first giant step in stopping the use of Diebold touch-screen voting machines in the state. VoterAction's press release follows in full...
VoterAction.org, a non-partisan group of voters who recently filed suit against CA Sec. of State Bruce McPherson and 18 county registrars, has submitted new papers in a court filing today in support of their call for an injunction against the use and purchase of touch-screen Diebold voting machines in the state.
The latest filing, described in a press release issued earlier today, includes new information based on the recent reports of the San Diego County Diebold voting machine "sleepovers" with poll workers, in the days and weeks prior to the recent U.S. House Special Election in California's 50th congressional district.
Among the new declarations in the filing today are statements from several poll workers, of whom The BRAD BLOG originally reported as having taken home programmed, election-ready, highly-hackable Diebold voting machines to be stored in their cars and garages in the days preceeding the "bellwether" U.S. House special election.
I (Brad Friedman) was also asked to submit a declaration for the filing based on my interview with San Diego County Registrar of Voters, Mikel Haas. Haas had admitted to me during that interview that storage of programmed voting machines in poll workers' cars could "not be considered secure." His admission would suggest that the new federal requirements, as issued March 22, 2006 by the National Association of State Elections Directors (NASED), mandating "secure storage" of programmed voting machines were violated.
"Failure to comply with this addendum negates the voting system's status as a NASED-qualified voting system," the official memorandum clearly states.
With regard to the demonstrated failure of state Registrars like Haas to comply with the new requirements, and in support of the injunction sought to ban the use of these machines in the state, today's statement says, "Recent experience has shown that stop-gap security conditions imposed by the Secretary of State do not solve the problems."
The California voters’ preliminary injunction motion is supported by sworn testimony from volunteer poll workers in San Diego and Modesto Counties regarding serious physical security breaches, including assigned “sleepovers”, or home storage of electronic voting machines and missing security seals over memory card portals.
Recent experience has shown that stop-gap security conditions imposed by the Secretary of State do not solve the problems, and use of this system in the upcoming election presents a grave danger of voter disenfranchisement and election result manipulation.
In her testimony, Escondido, CA poll volunteer, Patricia Mack Newton, who stored a machine in her Jeep and then garage for a full seven days prior to elections, stated, "I was shocked when we were told we would be taking the machines home, especially since we had received no training on how to secure the machines, or if we were supposed to do so.
In a complaint said to be the broadest yet filed to halt the rise of the electronic voting machines, a non-partisan group of voters have announced they are filing suit today in Colorado to stop the purchase and use of Direct Recording Electronic ("DRE" or touch-screen) voting machines in the state, The BRAD BLOG can now reveal.
The suit, being filed today in Denver District Court and modeled after similar actions filed previously in California, Arizona and New Mexico, calls for an immediate halt to the use of touch-screen machines made by all four of the major electronic voting machine vendors currentlly doing business in Colorado.
The group, advised and organized by VoterAction.org contends that voting machines made by Diebold, Sequoia Voting Systems, Election Systems and Software Inc. (ES&S) and Hart InterCivic "have a well-documented history of problems with security, reliability, verifiability, and disability access."
According to a press release issued this morning (posted in full below) by the Denver law firm of Wheeler Trigg Kennedy LLP the machines "are easily hacked and compromised, and have a history of operational problems which have disrupted elections across the country."
Defendants named in the suit include Colorado Secretary of State Gigi Dennis and the Boards of county commissioners in 9 different CO counties.
"The Secretary of State's Office has failed to issue rules setting minimum standards for security of these systems. The election rules permit the DRE manufacturers to simply tell the State that their machines are secure," said Wheller Trigg Kennedy attorney Paul Hultin in the release. "Worse, the Secretary is not following the law. No certification reports required by law have been prepared even though these systems have been certified for months and counties are preparing to use these dubious systems in the upcoming election," he says.
"Some of the security risks with these machines are so high that it is unconscionable that their manufacturers, who have known of the problems for years, have not taken the necessary steps to correct them," says Univesity of Iowa computer science Professor Dr. Doug Jones, who is one of several experts who will be offering testimony in the case.
"The Help America Vote Act is being turned on its head, weakening the integrity of our elections in the rush to purchase untrustworthy DRE computerized voting systems," said Lowell Finley, Co-counsel for the Colorado voter plaintiffs, election law expert, and Co-director of Voter Action, according to the release. "The sanctity of our elections is too important to turn over to private corporations which operate without accountability. There are better and more secure options available, such as optical scan-paper balloting."