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County Elections Website Claims Voters Are Asked for Specific 'YES or NO' Confirmation of Undervotes at End of Voting Process
Sources Confirm it Didn't Happen That Way in Contested FL-13 U.S. House Race on November 7th...
By Brad Friedman on 12/10/2006 5:05pm PT  

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...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---




By John Gideon on 12/10/2006 4:45pm PT  

Guest Blogged by John Gideon of VotersUnite.org

Summit Co. Ohio is now considering following in the foot steps of Douglas Co. Nebraska. Douglas Co., the home of ES&S, purchased a digital printer and now prints their own ballots for their ES&S op-scans. Douglas Co bought the printer for $120,000 and saved $75,000 in printing costs in the just completed election. And, they did not have to rely on ES&S to make any deadlines. They were in complete control. ...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---




By Brad Friedman on 12/10/2006 3:41pm PT  

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---




By Brad Friedman on 12/10/2006 12:36pm PT  

A li'l bit of Sunday morning radio. Me with the always delightful Christine Craft of Sacramento's 1240am Talk City sitting in over at San Francisco's (and Oakland's and San Jose's and elsewhere's) big old KGO 810am. Talking Election Integrity with a loads of good callers incoming. Unfortunately, none of them called me a whacko, tinfoil hat-wearing conspiracy theorist no matter how hard I tried. Funny, but where I almost always used to get such callers, we don't seem to hear from them much (if ever) anymore. Go figure.

The appearance is just 34 minutes --- after I removed the commercials from the hour long segment --- of Sunday morning Braditude for your listening pleasure...


-- Brad with Christine Craft on KGO, 12/10/06 [MP3]




By John Gideon on 12/9/2006 5:44pm PT  

Guest Blogged by John Gideon of VotersUnite.org

It seems that the Sarasota election problems along with the overwhelming vote by the people of that county who spoke out and told the county that they want a paper ballot, has influenced other counties in the state. There is now talk of converting from DREs to paper ballots or including a vvpat on the DREs in Volusia, Broward and Miami-Dade Counties. ...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---




Congressman, Author of Leading U.S. House Election Reform Bill, Replies in BRAD BLOG Comments to Our Article Critical of His Quoted Statement Suggesting Touch-Screen Systems Should Not Be Replaced Due to Cost Factors...
By Brad Friedman on 12/8/2006 2:02pm PT  

In a posted comment here at The BRAD BLOG, Congressman Rush Holt (D-NJ) has responded to an article we filed earlier this week in which we expressed concern about a recently quoted comment of his. Our original piece discussed his statement at an Election Reform symposium at Rutgers University, as quoted on Tuesday in by New Jersey's Herald News, about the financial cost of moving away from Electronic Voting Machines in light of recent purchases made by jurisdictions across the country.

The Congressman's comments are, indeed, quite notable as we read them, and they deserve to be highlighted here --- as the piece from last Tuesday has now scrolled far down the main page and his reply posted today would otherwise likely go unnoticed by many...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---




By John Gideon on 12/8/2006 2:00pm PT  

Guest Blogged by John Gideon of VotersUnite.org

"By the 2008 presidential election, voters around the country are likely to see sweeping changes in how they cast their ballots and how those ballots are counted," write Ian Urbina and Christopher Drew in today's NYTimes, "including an end to the use of most electronic voting machines without a paper trail." / The totally partisan EAC Commissioner Donetta Davidson has been named "Chairman" of that commission. "Ms. Davidson, speaking in her role as EAC commissioner, has publicly advocated for paperless electronic voting machines and opposed legislation that would require that electronic voting machines provide an independent means of verifying the accuracy of electronic vote totals. In addressing the recent TGDC meeting, Commissioner Davidson specifically urged the committee not to adopt a resolution that would require a voter verified paper audit trail for direct recording electronic voting machines."...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---




A Democracy Fellow and EAC Commissioned Researcher Says the Right is 'Propagating a Myth' in Order to Pass Disenfranchising Laws Said to Combat the Phony Perception They've Created
Not One Case of Voter Fraud Found by RNC in 2006...
By Tova Andrea Wang on 12/8/2006 8:35am PT  

Guest Blogged by Tova Andrea Wang, a Democracy Fellow at The Century Foundation.

ED NOTE: Ms. Wang was chosen by the U.S. Elections Assistance Commission (EAC) to provide research and analysis for a report on "voter fraud." That report --- about which an early "status report" version [PDF] leaked out after the EAC, apparently unhappy with the findings, failed to release it publicly --- showed little or no actual evidence of "voter fraud" in America. The EAC finally released their "final version" of the report [PDF] on December 7th, retitled with a freshly coined phrase: "Election Crimes."

Over the past month, the silence has been deafening.

For the past few years, many on the Right have been vociferously propagating the myth that voter fraud at the polling place is a rampant problem of crisis proportions. But we haven’t heard from them lately. In fact, as far as my research can discover (Nexis and Google news searches of multiple relevant terms), there has not been one confirmed report of any of these types of incidents in the 2006 election. Not one. Even the Republican National Committee’s vote fraud watch operation in their list of complaints from the 2006 election could not come up with one such case.

If you’ve been listening to the likes of John Fund, Thor Hearne, Ken Mehlman, and John Lott, you would think non-citizens are lining up to vote at the polls, mischievous partisans are voting multiple times by impersonating other voters, and dead people are voting in polling places across the country. In order to justify their argument that we need all voters to present government issued photo identification at the polls, they claim that this type of fraud is the biggest problem our electoral system confronts. They have been building and building this argument, hammering and hammering away at it to the point that it has now become the prevailing belief of the American public.

I won’t go into the recitation of all of the previous research that has been done on what a nonexistent problem polling place fraud is and the fraudulent disenfranchisement narrow voter identification requirements cause among perfectly eligible voters—disproportionately minorities, the poor, the elderly, and voters with disabilities (who by the way, according to conventional wisdom, are also all disproportionately Democratic voters). However, confronted with this continuously growing mountain of evidence undermining their case, it has been interesting to observe the evolution of the Right’s spinning of this issue of late.

In recent months, even before this election, slowly recognizing the remarkable weakness of their substantive argument, conservatives’ new tack has been to say that even if its true that there is not much polling place fraud, the simple fact that the American people believe it is occurring is a problem itself in that it is causing them to lose confidence in the election system. Well, no wonder they have the misguided belief that this is a problem—that’s the message the Right has been hammering away at them over the last few years. In any case, the argument goes that we need identification requirements not because they will in actuality do anything to enhance the integrity of the voting process, but because we need to reassure people who have the perception the process is corrupt.

Let me provide just a few examples of this...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---




Somebody Needs a Nap...
By Brad Friedman on 12/7/2006 5:33pm PT  




By John Gideon on 12/7/2006 4:36pm PT  

Guest Blogged by John Gideon of VotersUnite.org

The folks in Alaska may have a good idea that needs to be discussed (see the first article below). Essentially they are suggesting a separate, national, hand counted, paper ballot for President. Any registered voter can vote anywhere on that single race. The immediately apparent advantage is that it will enfranchise voters who may be away from home as they can walk into any polling place on election day, prove they are registered and vote the presidential ballot and that ballot would be counted, by hand, right along with every other ballot gathered at the polls. Of course, a glaring argument against is that this would require a national voter registration data base and states are having trouble just getting it right for themselves without joining all 50 plus the territories together into one. It may be an idea worth discussion and thought though. ...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---




By Brad Friedman on 12/7/2006 12:35pm PT  

From Tribune Media Services' Robert Koehler, in his latest column, "Electronic Treason"...

Electronic voting, like the war in Iraq, is starting to get bad press. And following the debacle of last month's midterm elections, a lot of people have begun to demand an exit strategy.

Surely there ought to be a limit to the number of egregiously wrong turns the same ideologues are allowed to make at one time.
...
A year and a half ago, when I first started writing about disenfranchisement and the troubling evidence of electronic voting fraud in the 2004 election, this was not a respectable topic for mainstream discourse. Those who broached it were relegated to a spectrum of mockery that ran from "sore loser" to "conspiracy nut." But the ongoing horror show of "glitches" perpetrated on democracy by touchscreen voting machines this year can no longer be ignored even by those who would prefer to, and e-voting disasters are now being reported with some regularity.

We feel ya, Bob. And thanks for being there where few dared to go back in those dark days of mid-2005.

Read the rest at Koehler's own site or at Huff Po.




'Constitutional Option' Likely to be Invoked in Fight Over U.S. House Seat According to Paper
Howard Dean Says Election 'Not Valid', Agrees House Should Not Seat Buchanan; Tom Feeney Bullies...
By Brad Friedman on 12/7/2006 9:35am PT  

ED NOTE: See our own thoughts on the "Constitutional Option" of a Congressional challenge in the Jennings/Buchanan FL-13 race, and how this version differs from the same law (mis)applied in last Summer's Busby/Bilbray Special U.S. House election in CA-50 as posted yesterday.

From today's St. Petersburg Times...

WASHINGTON — Republican Vern Buchanan may be the official winner in a messy Sarasota-area Congressional race, but Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean says the Democratic-controlled Congress should not seat Buchanan without another election.

“Absolutely not,’’ Dean said in a taped “Political Connections” interview airing Sunday on Bay News 9. “You cannot seat someone if you don’t have an election that’s valid.

“This election is not valid. There are 18,000 people who may have voted and we don’t know what happened to their votes,” he said. “You can bet that if the Republicans were 500 votes short they’d be calling for a new election, and they’d be right.”

On Wednesday, Democrat Christine Jennings said she will ask the U.S. House to take the extreme measure of conducting its own investigation into the election.

In a side note, Rep. Tom Feeney (R-Abramoff), a man who knows a thing or two about both bad elections and bullying people to get his way, is quoted in the story as well:

“I think there would be a huge pushback in terms of the American people,’’ said Rep. Tom Feeney, an Orlando area Republican. “I think that the consequences of that would be severe for the Democratic leadership.”

Feeney, aside from allegedly asking computer programmer turned whistleblower Clint Curtis to create vote-rigging software back in 2000 (which is notorious enough), notoriously also announced, back in 2000 as Speaker of the Florida House, that he would take it upon himself to ensure that Florida's Electors went to George W. Bush no matter what the United States Supreme Court would ultimately decide during the 2000 imbroglio.

Feeney is a bully of the highest reknown. With a fresh election "victory" under his belt (albeit one which his challenger, the whistleblower-turned-candidate Curtis, has questioned) watch for him to crank up his bully-boy-ness as things move forward in this and other related affairs in the new Congress. Watch for The BRAD BLOG to keep calling him on it.




Challenges Election Integrity Advocates to 'See if Your Programmer Can Manipulate That Machine' at Public, Video Taped Meeting!
Invites Media to Witness Challenge!
By Brad Friedman on 12/6/2006 7:54pm PT  

Riverside County, California, Supervisor Jeff Stone laid down the gauntlet to Election Integrity advocates at a public meeting on Tuesday, offering to bet them "a thousand to one" they can't hack into the county's electronic voting machines made by Sequoia Voting Systems.

Near the end of a contentious meeting of the Board of Supervisors, in which the county's five person board accepted the final canvass of results from the November 7th election from Riverside County Registrar Barbara Dunmore, Stone made his challenge to one of a number of activists from the SAVE R VOTE election watchdog coalition. The advocates were on hand to give testimony about problems they witnessed during the recent election, to present their own report to the board (PDFs: Report, Photos#1, Photos#2), and ask that at least one of their members be appointed to a "Blue Ribbon Commission" being convened by the county to investigate problems during the election.

In the videotaped exchange with Stone, Maxine Ewig, a co-founder of Democracy for America - Temecula Valley and a SAVE R VOTE member, tells the county supervisors that she was informed by a programmer that they "had not seen any machine or program that could not be manipulated."

In response, Stone interrupted Ewig's testimony to offer his challenge.

"I'd like to challenge that programmer," Stone says in the video clip (complete transcript of the exchange at the bottom of this article), "and I'd like to set up an appointment with one of our machines and I'd like him or her to verify that they can manipulate that machine. And I'm gonna bet a thousand to one that they cannot do it...I'll make that challenge."

Stone's stunning challenge continued with an invitation to the media --- reporters from several local papers were on hand --- to witness the attempted voting machine manipulation.

"I'm challenging you to challenge her or him and I...I believe we can make that happen," he said. "And maybe we should bring the media in and let's see if your programmer can manipulate that machine. My guess is that it is not gonna happen, but I'm willing to take a chance on that."

How far Stone may be "willing to take" that "chance" remains to be seen. In the wake of the news, which was reported today briefly by both the Desert Sun and the Press Enterprise, several national Election Integrity advocates have informed The BRAD BLOG that they would be willing to put some money on the line towards accepting Stone's challenge. We hope to have more details on that as the matter develops.

Riverside is the first county in the nation to use touch-screen voting systems. Local Election Integrity advocates have, for some time, been waging a fight for more transparency, security, and accountability from the county and, specifically, the county's Registrar of Voters Barbara Dunmore.

SAVE R VOTE member Tom Courbat was on hand for the proceedings. Courbat is one of the activists who, as The BRAD BLOG broke in the days just prior to the November 7th election, helped reveal the "Yellow Button" on the back of Sequoia touch-screen machines which could allow a voter to cast as many votes as they wish on those systems.

He complained during his testimony to the board about the planned make up of the county's "Blue Ribbon Commission." The county is convening the panel to investigate several failures during the recent Election and the "operational problems of the registrar of voters office," as Courbat told us tonight.

Courbat suggested to the board that they appoint at least one citizen Election Integrity advocate to the panel after, earlier in the meeting, a board member had responded to critics by saying they didn't want to include anybody who was predisposed against electronic voting systems.

Courbat countered by suggesting that a mix of those both in favor and against such systems would be a healthy idea for the commission. The board seemed less than moved by the idea, and Ewig then proceeded by opening her own testimony informing the board that members of SAVE R VOTE had not come to this cause originally against electronic voting. Rather, she explained, their current position was based on "their own study over the past two years."

It was then that Stone answered with his challenge. The exchange is available on the county's website via online video here (Scroll to the 2:10:00 mark for the beginning of the exchange. NOTE: This video link may only work in Internet Explorer w/ Media Windows Player. Another video of the same event, from a different camera angle --- with some priceless expressions from at least one of the Supervisors --- is now posted below in Streaming Flash.)


-- Streaming Flash Version...

It is unclear whether or not Stone is aware of either Sequoia's "Yellow Button" issue or, as we reported earlier this year, that Dr. Michael Shamos of Carnegie Mellon University accidentally hacked into a Sequoia system while demonstrating how such systems couldn't be hacked.

Shamos, a supporter of electronic voting systems, was testing Sequoia's voting machines for the commonwealth of Pennsylvania when he was able "in an instant," as it was reported last March, "to transform a handful of votes into thousands."

We'll hope Supervisor Stone has some deep pockets, as he may have to come up with quite a few dollars to back up his "thousand to one" challenge.

A complete text transcript of the short exchange between Supervisor Jeff Stone and Maxine Ewig follows in full...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---




By John Gideon on 12/6/2006 4:55pm PT  

Guest Blogged by John Gideon of VotersUnite.org

A county supervisor in Riverside Co. California has opened his mouth and may regret it. He has challenged the local advocacy group, SaveRVote, to bring in a computer expert and hack their Sequoia voting machines. They say it can't be done and are challenging someone to come in and prove them wrong. Any takers? / Recently EAC Commissioner Donnetta Davidson spoke before the "Florida State Association of Supervisor of Elections". Witnesses to that speech have reported that Ms. Davidson expressed concern that Democrats won control of the Senate in the recent election. Her concern? She stated that she had promises from Republicans in the Senate that legislation requiring a voter verified paper audit trail and audits would never come to the floor. Ms. Davidson's statements seem to be neither independent nor bipartisan and show a willingness to play politics rather than work for the good of the voter....

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---




VIDEO - Hannity Begins to Carry Disingenuous Buckets of Anti-Democracy Water
Jennings May Have to Play the Congressional Constitutional Card to Gain the House Seat Which Obviously Should Belong to Her...
By Brad Friedman on 12/6/2006 3:11pm PT  

It's a lovely change of pace when some of the other "big boy bloggers" beat me to the punch on Election Integrity-related stories. Perhaps I can start sleeping in for a while. I could use it.

That said, TPMMuckraker gives us a fine update on the FL-13 sitch, and Sean Hannity's virtuoso performance in what is likely his most disingenuous performance to date last night on Hannity & Colmes, where Republican Vern Buchanan spouted off with neither a Democratic nor a non-partisan Election Integrity advocate to counter his nonsense.

In addition to TPMM's points, it should also be pointed out that Hannity stated incorrectly --- twice --- that Sarasota is the strongest Republican stronghold in the contest. That, despite, his later admission that the Democratic Christine Jennings won the area by 7%.

As well, Hannity (again unchecked) is allowed to rant about how Republicans don't challenge elections when they lose, they accept defeat gracefully. Guess Sean doesn't read The BRAD BLOG and thus doesn't know about the Conservative TX Supreme Court Justice Steven Smith, or the mess in Maricopa County, AZ, still percolating from back in 2004, or the fact that Rick Santorum and the PA Republican party demanded that touch-screen systems where votes reportedly flipped be impounded in 27 counties on Election Day, just to name a few instances.

But we'd expect nothing less from water boy Hannity.

Most of note in the video, perhaps, is Buchanan's un-checked (and by now, expected) outrageous claim that Jennings is "destroying democracy" by calling for a revote. A funny turn of phrase from a guy who is doing everything he can to ensure that the rather clear voices of the voters are ignored in favor of a 369 vote "victory" gained only due to faulty, paperless touch-screen voting machines.

Even Buchanan is unable, in the clip, to explain why 18,000 votes in Jennings's strongest county simply disappeared. Of course, he'd have to admit he lost if forced to come up with an answer to that mystery. So he avoids the question twice by explaining only that "there's a lot of speculation out there you can read."

Got nothing, Vern? But don't give a damn anyway? We thought so. Now that's what we call "destroying democracy"!

In other FL-13 coverage around the 'sphere, both the Sarasota Herald-Tribune and a group of political scientists [PDF] are averring that it was bad ballot design which caused the problem (The BRAD BLOG earlier posted a photo of the way in which the race was displayed on the touch-screen systems, such that it would have been very easy for voters not to see the race at all on Sarasota's ES&S touch-screen machines.)

The "bad ballot design" explanation, however --- that voters didn't notice the race --- fails to account for all of the affidavits from voters claiming they tried and tried to vote in the race, but couldn't get their vote to register properly for Jennings, as one of the attorneys representing the voter lawsuit calling for a revote recently told us.

Finally, DailyKos (of all places) has some decent front page coverage of the rather conservative (we've found) Election Law professor Rick Hasen's explanation [PDF] of the Constitutional card that can be played by the U.S. House to settle the matter. At this point, it's looking more and more like that will be the way this thing is ultimately settled...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---




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