w/ Brad & Desi
BARCODED BALLOTS AND BALLOT MARKING DEVICES
BMDs pose a new threat to democracy in all 50 states...
VIDEO: 'Rise of the Tea Bags'
Brad interviews American patriots...
'Democracy's Gold Standard'
Hand-marked, hand-counted ballots...
GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal 2012...
The Secret Koch Brothers Tapes...
|MORE BRAD BLOG 'SPECIAL COVERAGE' PAGES...|
To follow up on a story we covered last October when arrests were made in Orange County, California after it was discovered that "bounty hunters" were being paid per Republican voter registration form they gathered and had switched Democratic (and Green and even non-citizen) voter registration forms to Republican...LA Times is reporting today that sentencing for the first two of the 12 arrested has let the pair off with "time served" and three years probation:
Jason Holly, 36, and Jessica Sundell, 23, were among 12 people arrested last fall and charged with signing up voters during a registration drive that resulted in dozens of Democrats fraudulently being signed up as Republicans.
The scandal, which surfaced nearly a year ago, embarrassed the county's Republican Party and underscored problems that can arise with signature-gathering and voter registration campaigns in which the workers are paid by the signature.
Campaign watchdogs have derisively called that practice a "bounty hunter" system.
One of the 12 defendants, Don Williams, remains a fugitive.
The others await court appearances and face up to three years in prison.
AP adds a couple of details on how the scam was perpetrated:
Neither of the reports went into much detail on exactly who was behind the scheme, aside from statements from GOP spokesmen that they knew nothing about it. Naturally.
A front page blockbuster set for tomorrow's New York Times reveals that one of the three approved labs which make up the so-called Independent Testing Authority (ITA) responsible for testing all electronic voting systems prior to certification has been barred from testing by the U.S. Elections Assistance Commission (EAC).
The Times reports that Ciber Inc. was barred from further testing last summer, but that the EAC failed to disclose the information to the public.
Thousands of electronic voting machines "okayed" by the Ciber labs were in use last November, despite what the Times reports as a failure by the company to follow quality-control procedures and an inability to "document that it was conducting all the required tests."
As The BRAD BLOG reported earlier today, thousands of reports of e-voting machine failures were documented across the country in a report released this week by a number of non-partisan election watchdog organizations.
Ciber is one of three companies selected and paid for by the Voting Machine Companies themselves to secretly test their electronic voting systems. The results of the testing by the ITA labs and the documented failures or successes are never released to the public.
As the Times is now reporting on their website:
The company, Ciber Inc. of Greenwood Village, Colo., has also come under fire from analysts hired by the state of New York over its plans to test new voting machines for the state. New York could eventually spend $200 million to replace its aging lever devices.
Experts on voting systems say the Ciber problems underscore long-standing worries about lax inspections in the secretive world of voting-machine testing. The action by the federal Election Assistance Commission seems certain to fan growing concerns about the reliability and security of the devices.
The commission acted last summer, but the problem was not disclosed then. Officials at the commission and Ciber confirmed the action in recent interviews.
Experts say the deficiencies of the laboratory suggest that crucial features like the vote-counting software and security against hacking may not have been thoroughly tested on many machines now in use.
“What’s scary is that we’ve been using systems in elections that Ciber had certified, and this calls into question those systems that they tested,” said Aviel D. Rubin, a computer science professor at Johns Hopkins.
Even though Washington and the states have spent billions to install the new technologies, the machine manufacturers have always paid for the tests that assess how well they work, and little has been disclosed about any flaws that were discovered.
While The BRAD BLOG has documented myriad failures on electronic voting machines over the last several months and years, we've also documented the dreadful failure of the EAC to perform oversight and the fact that they have been wholly compromised by partisan appointments, including their current (though outgoing) chairman Paul DiGrigorio and have withheld important reports from the public when the information revealed in them was not to the liking of the Republicans who head the committee.
As well, we ran shocking excerpts from an exclusive interview with the first head of the EAC, DeForest Soaries, detailing his unhappiness with both the White House and the Republican-led Congress to properly fund the commission formed by the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) of 2002 to oversee the certification of voting systems and other related matters. Soaries was appointed by George W. Bush and charged, in the shocking interview, that there are "no standards" for the voting equipment in use in America, that the White House and Congress misled him about the commission and "made things worse through the passage of the Help America Vote Act," and that due to underfunding and lack of attention, America now has an "inability to trust the technology that we use" in elections which he says are "ripe for stealing."
The excerpts we ran were from a network news interview with Soaries which was never aired by the network.
UPDATE: Lambert from Correntwire has some excellent details on Ciber's big money ties to the Republican party. He's critical of the Times' failure to point that out given they supplied some $72,000 to Republican candidates between 2001 and 2004. As well, he's got an excellent catch concerning the fact that Ciber's CEO dumped a bunch of stock just before year's end, leading Lambert to ask, "Insider trading, anyone?"
FURTHER UPDATE: Howard Stanislavic detailed a number of flaws discovered in Ciber's testing processes in New York last October at VoteTrustUSA.org. Needless to say, the Times gave him no credit for having beat them to a number of the items they reported in their story tonight. We feel ya, Howard.
(Hat-tip RAW STORY who had the early scoop on the Times story.)
We suspect this won't be the last time. Particularly if the Dems decide to play it safe instead of taking seriously the clear mandate for accountability they received at the polls last November.
Gold Star mom Cindy Sheehan, who lost her son Casey in Iraq, joined other protesters on Capitol Hill today to lobby Congress Members for a swift end to the War in Iraq. They interrupted a Democratic press conference today, held to announce ethics reform packages, with chants of "De-escalate! Investigate! Troops Home Now!" Rahm never stood a chance.
Of course, he might have seen it coming. This was on the Gold Star Families for Peace website today:
Fox "News" deemed to tell the story. David Edwards, over at RAW STORY, covers it along with the video.
UPDATE: New York Times blogged the incident tonight, and if you care to put any stock in those dreaded "bloggers," they described the pathetic reaction of Emanuel and the other Dems this way...
Guest Blogged by John Gideon of VotersUnite.org
Did you think that Florida is the only state that still has questions about voting machines and results? If you answered yes you were wrong. As in Florida Ohio has thousands of unexplained undervotes and concerns from candidates as to whether they really lost their elections. / "The evidence presented indicates that electronic voting in its current form is systematically flawed and will require significant corrective measures to remedy the problems that have been exposed," concludes the 23-page report issued by Voter Action, VotersUnite.Org and VoteTrustUSA....
A report [PDF] prepared by civic watchdog groups VotersUnite.org, VoteTrustUSA and Voter Action found the 2006 mid-term elections were marred by persistent and widespread voting machine malfunctions. In preparing the report “E-Voting Failures in the 2006 Mid-Term Elections,” the groups examined data collected from the Election Protection Coalition hotline (1-866 OUR VOTE) and the Voter Action hotline, reports submitted from Election Day pollworkers through the Pollworkers for Democracy project and local and national news accounts collected by VotersUnite.Org.
In all, 1022 accounts of machine related problems from more than 300 counties in 36 states were examined and categorized. The report summarizes and provides contextual and comparative analysis of the difficulties caused by each type of equipment problem, such as machine malfunctions that impeded polls from opening, machine failures at poll closing and vote tabulation, and votes lost or changed on the voting machine screen. It also includes first hand accounts from voters and pollworkers describing the machine difficulties they encountered on Election Day and how the machines hampered the voting process.
The report recounts incidents of voters leaving without casting a vote because the machines would not start or broke down during Election Day. Machines often failed to record the voter’s correct choice on the ballot or summary screen and caused voters to question if their vote was recorded. Several pollworker accounts described problems closing the machines, retrieving vote totals from the computerized systems, and aggregating the totals with software, sometimes counting votes multiple times or failing to count them at all. The report suggests that in some cases votes were lost.
Republican U.S. Congressman Tom Feeney of Florida's 24th District has been ordered today by the House Ethics Committee to pay $5,643 for the cost of a "recreational" golf trip to St. Andrews, Scotland, which he had taken with the now-disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff in 2003. The bill had been previously paid for by Abramoff, the committee has found.
The slap on the wrist issued today by the U.S. House Ethics Committee on the last day before the change-over to the new Congress was announced in a terse, one paragraph, bare-bones statement posted to the committee's website. AP reported the matter here. Outgoing defeated Congressman Curt Weldon (R-PA) was also found in violation of House rules and has agree to pay back more than $23,000 in inappropriate gifts.
The findings from the Ethics Committee, however, may be just the tip of the iceberg for Feeney as there continues to be a number of other allegations and claims of misconduct, both new and old, which still hang precariously over the Congressman's head.
The claimed cost of Feeney's Scotland trip, $5,643, was apparently supplied to the committee by the Congressman himself in March of 2005 after the many tentacles of the Abramoff corruption scandal were beginning to reveal themselves. Only after the trip had been reported by the media did Feeney take the matter to the Ethics Commission.
Feeney, who has been named for the second year running as one of the "Most Corrupt Members of Congress" by the non-partisan ethics watchdog group the Committee for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), had previously claimed that the trip, and several others, were pre-approved by the House Ethics Committee. As well, he had also originally claimed on his disclosure forms for the Scotland trip that it had been paid for by the National Center for Public Policy. The center has denied paying for the trip and Feeney has supplied no evidence that we're aware of that the Ethics Committee had pre-approved his vacation with Abramoff or any of the others.
In a statement released this afternoon, the National Center for Public Policy Research reiterated their denial of having had anything to do with Feeney's travels, despite continue statements from Feeney's office suggesting that they did. "The National Center for Public Policy Research played no role in this trip," the statement reads, "and only learned of its existence from media inquiries two years after it was taken."
No action has yet been taken on the other questionable vacations, one to Korea which was sponsored by he Korea-U.S. Exchange Council (KORUSEC), a registered foreign agent, and another to West Palm Beach, Florida, which Feeney had listed as having been paid for by a lobbying firm, which would also be a violation of House rules.
According to the Orlando Sentinel today, Feeney’s Chief of Staff Jason Roe --- who has had his own conduct questioned --- said of Feeney: "He’s personally and professionally embarrassed and considering it an expensive lesson."
The "lesson" however, was not all that "expensive" by Congressional standards, and certainly not if the $1.3 million that Feeney raised, mostly from corporate PACs, to spend on his recent campaign might be any indication of the funds that the once-exceedingly powerful Florida Republican has quick and easy access to.
"It's like he robbed a bank and was just asked to give back the money," said Naomi Seligman Steiner of CREW in deriding the light treatment given to Feeney by the commission.
The other two congressmen who had gone on junkets to St. Andrews with Abramoff, Tom Delay (R-TX) and Bob Ney (R-OH), have since resigned in the wake of criminal charges and guilty pleas. The cost for former Republican Majority Leader Delay's trip to Scotland with Abramoff was estimated to have been between $70,000 and $100,000. Feeney is the only Congress member of the three still serving in the U.S. House.
He was recently declared the winner by the state of Florida in the U.S. House race for 24th congressional district where Feeney ran one of the dirtiest --- and most expensive --- U.S. House campaigns in the nation against Clint Curtis, a computer programmer turned whistleblower. In early December of 2004, The BRAD BLOG broke the news of Curtis's affidavit alleging that Feeney was involved in a conspiracy to create electronic vote-rigging software when both men worked for the same Oviedo, Florida, software firm, Yang Enterprises, Inc. (YEI), in 2000. At the time, Feeney was employed as YEI's general counsel and registered lobbyist, even while he served as the powerful speaker of Florida's House of Representatives.
Curtis also charged at the time that Feeney had helped cover up a number of other legal violations by the company, including the employment of illegal aliens at YEI who he claimed had had been spying for Communist China. Curtis also alleged YEI was over-billing on state contracts and had been inserting illegal wiretapping modules into software the firm had been contracted to write for NASA and the Florida Dept. of Transportation (FDOT). In the ensuing years, one of YEI's employees, Hai Lin "Henry" Nee, the man Curtis accused of writing the wiretapping modules, pled guilty after being arrested by Federal Authorities in a four year sting in which he admitted sending computer chips used in Hellfire anti-tank missile guidance systems to Communist China. As well, a report issued by the State of Florida's Inspector General's office found that YEI had, in fact, over-billed the state of Florida on contracts and that Nee had indeed been an illegal alien.
Feeney, a good friend of Dr. and Mrs. Yang, the owners of YEI --- who have given thousands of dollars in campaign support to the disgraced congressman over the years --- still keeps his main campaign headquarters in the YEI office building in Oviedo, Florida, to this day. Feeney had previously been caught lying about his association with the Yangs.
Feeney's troubles, however, are likely far from over. As a member of the Republican Leadership in the 109th Congress --- he was a deputy whip --- Feeney has yet to detail what he knew about his Florida colleague Rep. Mark Foley's sexual transgressions with minors. After reports had surfaced that the Leadership had been made aware of the concerns about Foley many years ago, Curtis issued a press release during the campaign calling on Feeney to come clean on what he knew about Foley, when he knew it, and what he did about it. Feeney has stayed mum to this day, refusing to give details about his knowledge in the matter.
Feeney, who has claimed Curtis is both "crazy" and "a liar" has refused to take a polygraph test despite having been challenged publicly by Curtis, and others, to do so. For his part, Curtis successfully passed a lie detector test concerning his charges against Feeney and YEI back in early 2005.
Additionally, Curtis has since filed a challenge in Congress to the election of Feeney, claiming a number of irregularities found in the Diebold electronic voting systems used across several counties in Florida's 24th district. Yesterday, the National Election Data Archive issued an analysis [PDF] of precinct data for the election detailing a number of inexplicable discrepancies in the results as reported by the state of Florida. The non-partisan Election Integrity organization has announced that the discrepancies in the numbers are "consistent with a pattern that would be caused by voter disenfranchisement, vote fraud, or innocent miscount."
When the Congressional challenge was filed in the race between Christine Jennings (D) and Vern Buchanan (R) in the FL-13 race --- where the votes of some 18,000 Florida voters failed to register on ES&S touch-screen voting machines in Sarasota, with a reported margin of just 369 votes between the two candidates --- Feeney declared the Constitutional challenge to be "total political dictatorship." His statement was made to the media, however, before it was publicly known that Feeney's election would as well be challenged in the same Congress under the same Federal Contested Elections Act.
Curtis's challenge, and several others originating in the state of Florida, will reportedly be championed in the House by Congressman Rush Holt (D-NJ), who has long been an advocate for election reform in the U.S. House. We hope to have more details here at The BRAD BLOG on the Curtis challenge, and other related matters, shortly. Stay tuned...
In June of 2004, in light of a host of thuggish Republican tactics in the U.S. House, Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) sent a proposal for a "Minority Bill of Rights" to Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL) calling for a more equitable balance of power in the chamber. Her proposal called for keeping any such adjustment to the rules in place no matter which party was in the Majority. Hastert, refused even the courtesy of a reply.
Now, Republican members are circulating a "Dear Colleague" letter to gain support for such a bill. Now that they are in the minority, of course. Cry babies.
Justin Rood has the story, and the letter - "House GOP: Don't Hurt Us --- Please".
New signs of intelligent life discovered in New Jersey. According to AP...
The report, obtained by The Associated Press, found no compelling evidence that New Jersey’s death penalty, which has not been used in more than four decades, serves any purpose. It also found the death penalty costs taxpayers more than paying for prisoners to serve life terms without parole.
“There is increasing evidence that the death penalty is inconsistent with evolving standards of decency,” the report states.
The findings, authored by a 13-member commission created in late 2005 by the Legislature, found abolishing the death penalty would eliminate the danger of executing an innocent person and the risk of the punishment being unfairly implemented.
“The alternative of life imprisonment in a maximum security institution without the possibility of parole would sufficiently ensure public safety and address other legitimate social and penological interests, including the interests of the families of murder victims,” the report found.
Celese Fitzgerald, director of New Jerseyans for Alternatives to the Death Penalty, praised the findings.
“I’m pleased that the commission found what the evidence has stated for two decades,” she said, “that the death penalty is an outdated, risky, resource-straining hoax on victims’ families and should be abolished.”
And, oh yes, it's also immoral. For those who care about such things, in any case.
Guest Blogged by John Gideon of VotersUnite.org
Over the weekend from the Online Review...
1. The Rigged Presidential Election of 2004:Brought to you by Diebold and the Republican Party, the rigged presidential election of 2004 was the crowning achievement of George W. Bush. Naturally, the MNM have continued to repeat the lie that Bush won the election "fair and square," even though there are thousands of pages of documentation on how the election was stolen.
Unlike last year, and the year before, we're unable to muster up anything clever or ironic with which to kick off the new year. We are without explanation for the unusually somber tone of the evening at year's end. Perhaps it's the news of the last few days which have left us feeling less than giddy. At least for tonight.
Instead, we'll hope the coming year will be overflowing with mirth for us all, and that you'll join The BRAD BLOG in our one simple wish for 2007...
A Few Great Blogs
· Baghdad Burning
· Brilliant at Breakfast
· Crooks and Liars
· Dan Froomkin
· Fired Up! Missouri
· Freedom's Phoenix
· Freeway Blogger
· Glenn Greenwald
· Huffington Post
· Jesus' General
· Juan Cole
· Washington Monthly
· Media Matters
· Nashua Advocate
· Oliver Willis
· RAW STORY
· Sanoma State's
Project Censored Sites:
· Daily Censored
· Media Freedom
· Project Censored
· Scholars & Rogues
· Skippy the Bush Kangaroo
· Talking Points Memo
· Think Progress
· Tom Tomorrow
· TV Newser
· Ben Sargent
· Bill Deore
· Bob Gorrell
· Cagle's Index
· Chan Lowe
· Don Wright
· Doug Marlette
· Glenn McCoy
· Jeff Danziger
· Joel Pett
· Mike Luckovich
· Non Sequitur
· Not Banned Yet
· Pat Oliphant
· Paul Conrad
· Ted Rall
· This Modern World
· Thomas Burns
· Tom Toles
· Tony Auth
· Stuart Carlson
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