Over 100 computer science and social sciences faculty from more than 20 colleges and universities across the state of New York have signed a letter to the governor, legislature and local election officials to urge them to replace the state’s lever machines with optical-scan machines.
Our friends in New Jersey have an urgent request for people from throughout the US to call the Governors office and ask Gov. Corzine to call off his Attorney General who wants to gut S-507 which many consider to be model legislation for post-election audits. Read about the bill and action Here
The GOP in Wharton Co Texas has taken the step to tell the county election office that their primary will be done using paper ballots and not the county's vote switching Ivotronics.
Those stories, and the rest of today's notable voting news items, all linked below...
A late-night report from the Firedoglake blog last night indicated that a Republican-backed initiative to split California's 55 electoral votes by Congressional district has been "withdrawn." In fact, it has not, as The BRAD BLOG has confirmed this morning, with both the California Secretary of State's office and the initial proponent of the original initiative. Democrats have regarded the ballot initiative as a dirty trick by Republicans desperate to hold on to the White House in the 2008 general election.
The current version of the initiative, which has raised millions of dollars, is said to have garnered some 400,000 signatures in support and continues to move forward as planned.
There had been two nearly identical initiatives in circulation attempting to gather enough signatures to qualify for the ballot in next June's election in California. The original measure, known as "07-0016," as filed by Anthony F. Andrade Jr., has indeed been withdrawn, according to the California Sec. of State website. But the version of the measure most likely to make its way onto the ballot next year, "07-0032,, barrels full steam ahead for the time being.
The BRAD BLOG has confirmed that point with two officials at the CA Sec. of State's office. We have also confirmed it with Andrade himself, a colorful fellow with whom we spoke earlier today, who now supports the other, still-active, initiative.
Andrade, who says that he's a BRAD BLOG reader himself, submitted the original initiative in May of this year. It was approved for signature circulation on July 3, before the nearly identical initiative, submitted by Thomas W. Hiltachk, a former associate of Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, was filed on July 10.
Hiltachk's initiative continues to gain momentum and money from Republican backers, while Andrade's original proposal was finally withdrawn from circulation, officially, on November 27.
Andrade, who says he's "a libertarian at heart," told us that Hiltachk saw his original initiative and decided to file a version of his own.
"This asshole goes and reads my initiative, and says 'Ah, I'm gonna file a duplicate,'" he told The BRAD BLOG this morning. "This asshole says he has $2 million," and then it turned out he didn't have a dime. "Perhaps the polite word is 'flake,'" Andrade clarified later during the call.
The Hiltachk proposal was indeed pronounced dead by the LA Times several weeks ago after it was found to have been backed by Rudy Giuliani supporters. The measure has since found new sponsors, also reportedly tied to both Giuliani, as well as California's 49th district U.S. Rep. Darrell Issa. There have also been subsequent allegations of fraud in the gathering of petitions for the measure.
Andrade believes the original backers of the proposal were looking at it as a way to raise money for themselves.
At first labeling the measure a "people's initiative" (after we described it as a "Republican initiative"), Andrade admitted that, while he considers himself more of a libertarian and a Ron Paul supporter, he's most interested in stopping Hillary Clinton from gaining the White House...
Yesterday, we learned that when he was mayor of New York, Rudolph Giuliani allegedly played a shell game to hide from taxpayers --- and his scornful wife --- the cost of dragging his security details along when he traveled out to Long Island to visit his then-girlfriend, Judith Nathan. Now comes news that he assigned a car and driver from the NYPD to Nathan during their affair:
Well before it was publicly known he was seeing her, then-married New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani provided a police driver and city car for his mistress Judith Nathan, former senior city officials tell the Blotter on ABCNews.com.
"She used the [police department] as her personal taxi service," said one former city official who worked for Giuliani.
The former city officials said Giuliani expanded the budget for his security detail at the time. Politico.com reported yesterday that many of the security expenses were initially billed to obscure city agencies, effectively hiding them from oversight.
Last December, Alan G. Hevesi, the New York State Comptroller, pleaded guilty to defrauding the government and resigned his position after it was revealed that he had detailed a state employee to attend his wife, who was an invalid:
Mr. Hevesi, the state’s top fiscal watchdog, told the court in a hoarse voice that one of the state workers he had assigned as a driver for his wife, Carol, had done much more than provide security for her. Prosecutors filed court papers revealing that the worker had also watered her plants, driven her to Bloomingdale’s and dropped off her dry cleaning.
In addition to pleading guilty to a felony, Hevesi paid a fine of $5,000 and reimbursed the state for $206,000.
No word as of yet whether New York's Democratic governor, Eliot Spitzer, will look into allegations that Giuliani used public employees to carry out personal services for him and his girlfriend.
Knox Co Ohio reports that they have successfully certified the votes from Nov. 6. However, in doing that certification they found that votes from three precincts (418 votes) were counted twice. The problem, as reported by the media, was that an ES&S contract employee forgot to clear one report before running another. ES&S contract employee? Why was the county not counting those ballots and doing the reports? It’s bad enough that we have given over our elections to vendor’s proprietary software but to actually invite the vendors in to do our work; i.e. counting the votes and doing the reporting; is inexcusable. And what does the county want to do about this problem? They are turning to the County Prosecutor for a decision on what action they should take with regards to ES&S in the future. My advice, for what it’s worth, do the job you were hired for and count the people’s votes. If you can’t do that job then quit and put someone into the position who can do the job....
Washington Post reports on outgoing Republican Senator Chuck Hagel's comments last night during an address at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York. It seems he doesn't care much for the Bush Administration...
Hagel, who considered running for the GOP presidential nomination as an antiwar candidate, told the foreign policy experts that he would give the Bush administration "the lowest grade of any I've known."
"I have to say this is one of the most arrogant, incompetent administrations I've ever seen or ever read about," Hagel said, according to our colleague Robert Kaiser, who attended the speech. In case his audience didn't get the point, Hagel also said: "They have failed the country."
(NOTE: We're well aware of Hagel's troubling one-time ownership of voting machine company ES&S, before becoming the first Republican Senator to be elected in Nebraska in a dog's age... on ES&S voting machines. It is in spite that ignominy that we offer this most coveted award.)
Fundraising is down dramatically nationwide for the Republican Party, but things are especially bad here in California, where the state GOP is in such dire straits that its ability to compete in both state and federal races could be affected.
But while the state party is cutting programs and considering layoffs, hundreds of thousands of dollars are flowing in from out-of-state fatcat supporters of Rudy Giuliani --- funds the state GOP can't touch because they are earmarked specifically to promote a ballot initiative that would, if passed, give Rudy (i.e., the Republican presidential candidate) 20 or so of the state's 55 Electoral College Votes, even if he loses the state to the Democratic candidate.
The California Republican Party has been in a death spiral since the 1990s when, under former Gov. Pete Wilson, the decision was made to make illegal immigration its signature issue. It's way too soon to send for the embalmers but the current crisis couldn't be worse:
While we put a lot of miles on our car, at our own expense, we're not nearly clever enough to figure out how to get to places like Hawaii or Cape Cod, much less trick the government into picking up the tab like the DoJ's John "Minorities Die First" Tanner.
But we will be visiting lovely Denver for a day or two in December, as we've been invited to speak this weekend at Progress Now's Root Camp on our way back towards Los Angeles.
If you're in the 'hood, please stop by for some Election Integrity strategizing in the Mile High City and to say hello! In addition to discussing EI and blogging at the free conference, we'll also be moderating a Q&A to follow a screening of David Earnhardt's new documentary UNCOUNTED: The New Math of American Elections. Would love to see ya there!
Blogged by Brad Friedman from the Kansas/Colorado border...
Salt Lake City Weekly covers the state's recent electoral woes in the wake of moving to Diebold touch-screen voting machines. They even use a word we reference often here at The BRAD BLOG in regard to upcoming elections: "train wreck."
Meanwhile, in Salt Lake County, election officials are trying to figure out how to persuade voters not to come to the polls. With the switch from punch cards to touch-screen voting, the county ended up with 40 percent fewer polling booths. A large turnout will overwhelm the setup, says county Clerk Sherrie Swensen.
The presidential primary in February might be a good test of what is in store next year. Utah is participating in Super Tuesday with Mitt Romney on the ballot, and Swensen expects at least 40 percent turnout. If the vote goes anything like the recent city election, it could be a train wreck.
Utah, of course, was the home of one of the most notorious touch-screen voting system investigations in the country when Emery County Clerk Bruce Funk allowed renowned computer security expert Harri Hursti and e-voting watchdog group BlackBoxVoting.org to examine the new Diebold touch-screen systems forced on him for use by the state.
For his diligence on behalf of his voters, Funk, the 23-year elected County Clerk, was subsequently locked out of his office and removed from his job with the support of the very state officials who had gone into business with Diebold to create the mess the state now faces.
Blogged by Brad from somewhere near the Kansas/Colorado border...
Not only is John Tanner confused about whose right to vote he's supposed to be protecting (everybody's, even elderly minorities') as head of the DoJ Civil Rights Division, Voting Section, he's also apparently under the impression that the U.S. Government is his personal sponsor for high-flying trips to vacation hotspots like Hawaii and elsewhere for himself and his deputy, Susana Lorenzo-Giguere.
Paul Kiel has a complete, detailed, and highly-recommended investigative report over at TPM Muck, as Tanner could even be facing felony charges, should several current DoJ Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) investigations into his activities pan out. Kiel's report begins this way...
When John Tanner, chief of the Civil Rights Division's voting section, appeared before a Congressional panel last month, he was upbraided by Democrats for his "ineffectiveness." Little did they know that as the section, probably the most politicized in the Justice Department under the Bush Administration, has done less and less to protect African-American voters from discrimination, Tanner has been seeing the country on the taxpayers' dime.
He even managed to make taxpayer-funded trips to Hawaii in three consecutive years, two of them a week long. One Department lawyer who accompanied Tanner on his first trip took the earliest available flight back after having completed all necessary work in just two business days. But Tanner insisted on staying a full week, despite the lack of apparent Department business. It's a crime for government officials to use public funds for personal travel.
A review of Justice Department documents obtained by TPMmuckraker shows just how extensive Tanner's travel has been. From May of 2005 when Tanner became chief of the section through the end of 2006, he took 36 trips, traveling 97 days over those 19 months. By comparison, Tanner's predecessor Joe Rich took only two trips from 2003 through his retirement in April 2005, a total of six days of taxpayer funded travel over those 28 month
The BRAD BLOG helped kick off a firestorm surrounding the DoJ's voting rights chief Tanner last September when we video-taped and reported on his astounding statement that "minorities don't become elderly, the way white people do. They die first."
Former prosecutor Melanie Sloan, of ethics watchdog Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), says, in response to the litany of latest allegations, that if new AG Michael Mukasey was "serious about cleaning up the Department, he'd just get rid of Tanner."
We'll see if he does. Please leave your guesses in comments about the exact date on which Tanner will either be fired or suddenly discover that he needs to spend more time with his family. We'll announce the name of whoever is closest when (and if) it actually happens.
Yesterday, in this space, I stated that a problem in Wharton Co Texas had votes switching from a GOP candidate to a Democrat. In fact that information was incorrect. The election was a non-partisan election on constitutional amendments. There clearly was, however, vote swapping taking place. The information regarding the vote switching in Pennsylvania was correct. My apologies for the erroneous information.
The EAC terminated all certification of the Advanced Voting Solutions voting system that was being tested by iBeta. This renders the AVS system used in three Pennsylvania counties useless. Northampton and Lackawanna Counties are now discussing suing the vendor.
Twenty percent of the vvpat tapes from Diebold/Premier DREs used recently in Cuyahoga Co Ohio are damaged beyond use. The SoS has given the county permission to run ballot images from the DREs for recounts. Thus no voter verified paper ballots will be used to recount 20% of the votes. Diebold is looking for a way to blame election officials or the voters, of course.
Those stories, and the rest of today's notable voting news items, are all linked below...
First some ancient history: In the fall of 2002, the Bush administration was preoccupied with ramming its Iraq war resolution through Congress. It wasn't that they needed the resolution to go to war. Not hardly.
What the Bush team wanted was to get the Congress on the record about the war before the midterm elections that November --- in particular the resolution was intended to cause a rift between bloodthirsty voters back home and antiwar Democrats in the House. They also hoped to use votes for the resolution by Democratic senators who might run against Bush in 2004, including Sens. Kerry, Clinton, Edwards, and Lieberman, to name a few, as a wedge issue to separate them from their liberal base.
The war resolution was part of a "marketing campaign," as Andy Card, the White House chief of staff, referred to it, that had been put together by the Iraq Study Group, an elite corps inside the West Wing that included, among others, Karl Rove.
Last Wednesday, a mere five years after helping ram the war resolution through Congress, Karl Rove went on Charlie Rose and rewrote history as brazenly as it has ever been done:
A recount after next year's presidential election could mean disaster for Cuyahoga County based on problems discovered Tuesday with paper records produced by electronic voting machines.
More than 20 percent of the printouts from touch-screen voting machines were unreadable and had to be reprinted. Board of Elections workers found the damaged ballots when they conducted a recount Tuesday of two races, which involved only 17 of the county's 1,436 precincts.
"If it is as close as it's been for the last two presidential elections and it's that close again in 2008, God help us if we have to depend on Cuyahoga County as the deciding factor with regard to making the decision on who the next president of the United States is," said County Commissioner Jimmy Dimora, a longtime opponent of the county's touch-screen voting system.
"This is very much a cause for concern," board member Inajo Davis Chappell said. "All the technology issues pose a challenge to us, especially given the volume of voters we expect in the primary."
The county still doesn't know why its vote-counting software crashed twice election night. An investigation into the software problem could begin next week, once the county's recounts are finished.
"I wish those paper trails would come out pristine --- and they don't, and they're not going to," [Board of Elections Director Jane] Platten said. "We're going to have to deal with it again."
While the county was able to re-print paper trails on these machines to be counted in the recount, the practice completely defeats the point of such paper trails in the first place, since they are supposed to be verified by the voter (even though we know they usually aren't, and even when they are, voters fail to notice vote-flips).
If the paper trails are re-printed from the internal machine numbers, which can't possibly be verified by the voter, there is absolutely no point in even having such paper trails at all.
So again we ask, when is SoS Jennifer Brunner going to simply declare these machines uncertified all together. When will the rest of the election officials in the country declare same? It looks like it won't be before the 2008 elections begin. So...here we go again...
Recent polls show that Mike Huckabee, the former governor of Arkansas and Baptist preacher, is rising in popularity in Iowa, where he is cutting into Mitt Romney's lead. (Romney has 28 percent, Huckabee has 24 percent in the ABC news survey; Romney is at 27 percent and Huckabee's at 18 percent in the local KCCI-TV poll.) He's also moving up in in Florida, where he's running second to Rudolph Giuliani, 26 percent to 17 percent --- leaving good ol' boy actor Fred Thompson in fifth place with 9 percent.
With Thompson's campaign fading, Huckabee becomes the last best hope for the GOP's Christian nationalist base. Unlike Thompson, Huckabee is authentically one of them. He believes in the inerrancy of the Bible and says he does not believe in evolution. He wants to amend the Constitution to outlaw abortion, and he is the only candidate who has smeared a gay person in the debates, so far.
But Mike Huckabee comes with some serious baggage, and with his rise in the polls comes new scrutiny of his record as governor Arkansas, both in the media and by his opponents, who are quickly finding his record in Little Rock to be what opposition researchers might call a "target-rich environment."
The scandals associated with the Huckabee administration in Arkansas include:
A rapist released at Huckabee's behest who went on to murder his next victim
Accusations that Huckabee and his family misappropriated tax-payer funds for personal use
The charge that at the end of his term, Huckabee ordered the destruction of government computers worth over $300,000, apparently to obstruct possible future investigations
While he was governor, the state of Arkansas raised taxes by hundreds of millions of dollars
Recently we were asked to answer some questions sent to us by someone in Wharton Co Texas concerning vote-switching. In the Wharton Co situation votes for a GOP candidate were switched on the touchscreen to the Democratic candidate. In doing a little research I looked at machine malfunctions over the past year with regard to ES&S Ivotronic DREs and chose Pennsylvania I was reminded that in Nov. 2006 there were reports from 12 counties that used Ivotronic machines of vote-switching and in every case the votes were from GOP to Democratic candidates. The inaccurate, unreliable voting systems sold to state and county election officials were sold simply due to the greed of the vendors. The machines need to be recalled sooner and not later and replaced by paper ballot supported voting systems....