I should say first off I don't have a dog in the hunt. I support neither Obama nor Clinton in this nomination race and couldn't tell you now whether I'd vote for either of them next November. I've stated long ago that both of those candidates have plenty of supporters, so I'll be supporting the voters this year, since they don't have nearly enough support.
With that said, this morning's meeting in the DNC Rules & Bylaws Committee (RBC) has been an interesting one to watch. All sides in the unfortunate matters of fighting over how to seat (or not) the delegations from Florida and Michigan at this year's national convention have argued smartly for their various cases.
But where the DNC's RBC is concerned --- no matter which candidate the various members of the committee may already be on record as supporting in general --- there should be only one consideration in their ultimate decision: what will be best for the party itself and whichever candidate ends up being their nominee.
Everyone at today's meeting spoke in general consensus that party unity is key. If that's truly their belief, then every side in the dispute needs to place unification first as the top priority for any final rulings on whether and how to seat the MI and FL delegations at the Democratic Convention.
To that end, the version for those with short attention spans: The party must agree to the Florida compromise which nets a 19 delegate advantage for Clinton while giving delegates at the convention a 50% vote. They must also agree to the Michigan state party's compromise of awarding the Michigan delegates 69/59 in Clinton's favor with a 50% vote at the convention.
And while it's not necessarily germane to the decisions being made by the DNC RBC today, Rep. Robert Wexler of Florida should be made Barack Obama's Vice Presidential nominee.
For the longer explanation of the above, please read on...
By all means, let's not pay attention to this report until after November.
This is a follow-up to several previous items we ran last week (here, here and here) on a number of elections in Arkansas where the outcome was reversed after the lucky discovery of mistallies on the ES&S electronic voting system which failed widely in a number of counties during local primary elections there last week.
Here's the latest explanation, most notable passages excerpted below, on what went wrong in Faulkner County's very low turnout election for their District 45 State Representative Democratic Primary in which voters casting ballots in the Cadron Township Constable race had their votes recorded erroneously for the Dist. 45 State Rep race instead.
While these same touch-screen voting systems, the ES&S iVotronic, are widely used across the country, and have failed notoriously in a number of races over the years, and thus, theoretically prone to the same or worse failures this November when the turnout will be far higher, the full article by Joe Lamb in Arkansas' Log Cabin Democrat notes two more additionally chilling points:
"[T]he votes for the constable race were later found to have recorded accurately on the voter-verifiable paper trail and therefore would not have appeared erroneous to voters either." (Which means there also would have been a fight, in any contested recount, about which numbers actually reflected voter intent!)
"What makes the situation all the more baffling, [Faulkner County Election Commissioner Bruce Haggard] added, is that the machine in question, along with its associated software and coding, were found to have worked to perfection during early voting." (So pre-election tests and early voting gave no indication that something would go wrong on election day, despite election official and voting machine company claims that such tests protect against such problems!)
Last week we told you about the hard fought victory by the Pima County (Tucson), Arizona, Democrats to finally gain access to the Diebold databases which include the tallies of how folks voted in elections going all the way back to 1998.
The county had argued (on Diebold's behalf, natch) that the database files were both proprietary, and a security risk should they be released. The judge, finally, found that to be nonsense, and ordered the release of the files which the local Election Integrity advocates now hope to comb over for evidence of fraud and/or other malfeasance.
Now that they've got all the info, they're seeking a geek or two who may be able to help build a tool to make it a bit easier to go through the mountains of data they now finally have access to.
AZ's Libertarian Election Integrity champ Jim March, whose been working closely with the Dems, sends us the following "Help Wanted" ad, seeking a programmer to help 'em make sense of "the world's largest private collection of Diebold election data files anywhere." (Note: If someone could kindly Slashdot this item to maximize the number of coder geek eyeballs it gets in front of, it'd be much appreciated!)...
Last Thursday Keith Olbermann began an excellent conversation with George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley on the Karl Rove subpoena matter by stating, "Joe Wilson's dream of watching Karl Rove frog marched out of the White House in handcuffs is long since gone. But a new dream has been born tonight. What about a Turdblossom perp walk out of the front door of Fix News."
As seen in the video at right, the freshly shorn former Ambassador responds to the news and our question at a small gathering where he was speaking in Los Angeles. He said he was unsure whether or not Congress will be able to "get to" Rove, though he was certainly behind the effort.
"Whether they will actually be able to get to Karl I don't know," Wilson told us. "But it's great to keep the pressure on him. It forces him back on defense." He then added: "It's amazing to me the extent to which these guys have operated with absolute impunity, absolute disregard for American law and American jurisprudence."
Following below is the entire 40 minutes or so of Wilson's talk to the small gathering last week in Los Angeles, covering all aspects of his ordeal with the Bush administration...
We've long argued that same-sex marriage was, for all intents and purposes, a done deal. Marriage equality, under virtually any legitimate conservative reading of the U.S. and most state Constitutions, cannot be denied.
If the segment, at right, from tonight's O'Reilly Factor is any indication, it looks like even Bill O'Reilly is finally coming to grips with that fact, in light of the new poll showing for the first time that a majority of Californians are finally in favor.
Neither O'Reilly, nor his guest, "family law attorney" and "gay marriage opponent" Don Schweitzer, seem to be able to come up with a single legitimate reason to oppose it. The uncomfortable silences while they reach for something...anything...is really something to see. And if they've lost O'Reilly, well, the dead-enders may take a while longer to get the message, but it's over. The good guys will win this one...
What's a Grand Ol' Party to do when they wish to disenfranchise Democratic voters via the specious specter of "voter fraud" when they can't actually find any evidence to make their case? Why, call their media wing at Fox "News" of course!
Fox picks up today where the DoJ and Republican Party have had no luck so far, but not for lack of trying. Hey, if you can't beat 'em, publicize 'em, and make it sound like you're beating 'em, at least.
David Edwards and Muriel Kane report at RAW STORY today that Fox is running a "special investigation" into non-citizens throwing elections:
"Could illegal immigrants sway an election?' Eric Shawn of Fox News asked on Wednesday, raising the terrifying specter of "people who are not even citizens voting for whomever they want."
Since 2005, the Bush administration has been pushing the idea that "voter fraud" is a widespread problem, even firing US Attorneys who did not make the investigation of claims of fraud a priority. However, investigations have never found more than a handful of votes being cast illegally, while requiring proof of citizenship seems likely to disenfranchise hundreds of thousands of voters, mostly the poor and elderly who may not be able to secure required documentation.
Fox News has now set out to find the evidence of fraud that the Bush Department of Justice could not, whipping up their audience with the threat of non-citizens "getting a fake ID, a driver's license, or a social security card and voting in this year's election."
"If you think there's voter fraud where you live, or there are other election problems, we at Fox News want to know about it," Shawn told viewers. "You can email us. ... firstname.lastname@example.org."
Well, you heard 'em, kids. Fox is looking for voter fraud! Feel free to email them this link: https://bradblog.com/CoulterFraud documenting the no-uncertain-terms case of Ann Coulter having committed voter fraud in Palm Beach County, Florida!
Fox would love to hear from you at: email@example.com. Feel free to let 'em know I sent you, in case they have any further questions. I'll be happy to speak to them, and help 'em root out those voter fraud criminals!
BTW, Fox & Friends, at least, already knows about Coulter's voter fraud, since they called me last year to ask me to appear on their morning show to talk about it after Liz Smith ran an item on the matter in Murdoch's NY Post pointing to BRAD BLOG's coverage...
I don't mind admitting it. For an Election Integrity journalist, HBO's Recount is pure pornography. Anticipation for Sunday's Memorial Day premiere showing was at the top of last weekend's holiday agenda. And the excitement grew still more late Friday when the good folks of PDA Florida made my week (my month? my year? my last four eight years?) by sending me an actual Palm Beach County "CES Votomatic III" voting booth, one which they tell me was among the 24 used in HBO's film itself.
Since I have a very difficult time paying the bills around here --- contrary to popular opinion, election integrity blogging isn't the windfall it might otherwise appear --- perhaps I'll consider the kind gift a reward for my too-many years on this beat. Though perhaps my consolation prize would be a better way to look at it.
When I first opened it, actual chads (HBO's film advises the plural of "chad" is actually "chad") from the 2000 election spilled out of the machine all over the office floor. The gods of democracy and the goddess of the Butterfly Ballot were taunting me. I rather enjoyed it. I learned long ago that I'd have little choice.
So it was with great anticipation that I sat down on Sunday night to watch the film as it premiered, along with the "Diebold Document Whistleblower" (and my new colleague at VelvetRevolution.us) Steven Heller and his wife, and Robert Carillo Cohen, one of the filmmakers of HBO's landmark documentary, the Emmy-nominated Hacking Democracy which enjoyed a re-airing earlier in the day, as the cable net set the stage for its newest democracy thriller/heart-breaker, Recount.
None of us, including Heller, who anticipated hating the fictionalized re-telling of America's crushing democratic abortion of 2000, would be disappointed...
The actions and attitudes of election officials all too often seem like Alice's experiences down the rabbit hole. So, it's nice occasionally to report on positive developments by public officials who actually listen to the concerns of citizens, rather than simply ignoring serious defects discovered in our voting systems. I'm happy to report such a story today. For a change.
On May 6, Patty Murphy, Voting Systems Support, Secretary of State’s Office, notified my VotersUnite.org colleague and fellow Washington state resident John Gideon and me that two new voting systems were to be tested for state certification here on May 13 through May 16, and that the Review Board would hold a hearing on May 23. The Board’s job is to thoroughly review certification applications and make recommendations to the Secretary of State. The two systems were:
An ES&S AutoMark/optical scanner system, tested against federal standards and qualified by NASED.
A new, untested touch-screen/optical scanner system made by Sequoia Voting Systems
John and I were concerned about the Sequoia system. Pierce County, WA, voters recently voted to use Ranked Choice Voting (RCV), a system where voters may specify their preferences in particular races on the ballot as "first choice," "second choice," or "third choice." However, no state-certified system had the software needed to tabulate RCV ballots. So Sequoia developed their software specifically for Pierce County. They had applied for “emergency” provisional certification from the state, which would allow them to bypass state requirements for independent testing to the federal standards.
Tabulating RCV ballots is much more complicated than tabulating traditional ballots. With RCV, after voters mark their first, second, and third choices for certain offices, the tabulation is done in a series of “rounds.” The candidate with the fewest “first choice” votes after each round is eliminated; then in the next round the second choice on those ballots is counted as if it were the first choice. Rounds continue until one candidate has the majority of the votes. For a fuller explanation, see the Pierce County website.
John and I had planned to go to the testing on May 14, but at the last minute the testing for that day was called off so officials could investigate a problem that had shown up the previous day.
As we found out later, officials had found the Sequoia system had tallied votes wrong.
Later in the day, the SoS office's Murphy emailed us to let us know what happened...
Not really. But it's a damned funny headline. And it's probably accurate "enough" for the New York Times, where accuracy doesn't much matter anymore, apparently.
We'll have some of our own thoughts very soon on Recount, which we much enjoyed over the holiday weekend. Until then, our preview of the new HBO film, filed before we finally got to see it when in premiered Sunday night, is posted here.
But it's worth noting, for the moment, that the New York Times, the disgraced "Paper of Record," even today persists in misreporting the story of the 2000 Florida Election debacle. As Larry Beinhart documents today at Smirking Chimp:
"In 2001 painstaking postmortems of the Florida count, one by The New York Times and another by a consortium of newspapers, concluded that Mr. Bush would have come out slightly ahead, even if all the votes counted throughout the state had been retallied."
-- Alessandra Stanley, New York Times, May 23, 2008 in a review of the HBO television movie, Recount
That's not true.
The New York Times did not do its own recount. It did participate in a consortium. Here's what they actually said:
"If all the ballots had been reviewed under any of seven single standards, and combined with the results of an examination of overvotes, Mr. Gore would have won, by a very narrow margin."
-- Ford Fessenden And John M. Broder, New York Times, November 12, 2001
Why did Ms. Stanley make such an important and fundamental error?
It is not a trivial matter. It is a common piece of misinformation. Many, many people believe it. Now a few more do, as a result of Ms. Stanley's review.
It is not a trivial matter. Because that misinformation was created by one of the most bizarre, and still completely unexplained, journalistic events in modern times.
Here's what happened.
Read Beinhart's piece for the remarkable details in what really is one of the "most bizarre, and still completely unexplained, journalist events in modern times." Unfortunately, he doesn't include links in his coverage (please add them if you can, Larry!), but for the doubters, here's the report [PDF] showing that Al Gore did, in fact, receive more votes in Florida in 2000 than George W. Bush. That, despite the stunningly contrary headlines, as Beinhart shows, from almost every paper that reported on that complete state count. Even the papers who bothered to report --- if you read them closely enough --- that Gore received more votes than Bush, still used inexplicably misleading headlines for the story.
Given the wholly inaccurate claim, as includied in their review of Recount, it would appear that NYTimes is intent on simply ensuring the matter is inaccurately reported forever. We'll remember to keep that, and their year-long front page pre-Iraq War-mongering, in mind next time we're inevitably told by some wingnut on the radio, just how "liberal" the NYTimes is.
Pollack had been slated to direct Recount originally, but was forced to bow out due to being diagnosed with cancer last August. He lived, at least, long enough to see Recount premiered on Sunday night on HBO. He had stayed on with the production as Executive Producer.
Given his great sense of humor, we'd like to believe he would well have appreciated the satirical headline above.
We first asked Shepston, an airplane engineer, about election integrity issues. Interestingly, despite running in the extremely "red" Orange County against the Republican Miller and expressing concern for election integrity issues in general, Shepston was not worried about the fairness of elections in his own district:
"I vote in my district and I do think we have fair elections there... I do worry about election integrity in general. I wonder what Republicans are afraid of when they don't want to have fair elections. I don't want to have to guess, I don't want to have to trust that my vote or that voters' votes count. I want verified ballots."
Unfortunately, as Orange County is one of two counties left in California where unverifiable DRE (usually touch-screen) voting machines have been allowed for use by all, Shepston seems somewhat out of step with the ability, or lack thereof, to verify even a single vote cast on such machines in his own district. Almost inexplicably, CA SoS Debra Bowen decertified use of almost all DRE systems in the state, other than one per polling place to meet federal accessibility voting standards, and DRE machines made by Hart InterCivic. Shepston's Orange County still uses those wholly unverifiable Hart voting machines.
Shepston, who says he considers himself part of the netroots movement, is a political newcomer who was encouraged to run for office by fellow bloggers at the Daily Kos website. Yet despite the fact that many of these bloggers are helping with Shepston's campaign, he directed some harsh words towards the Daily Kos:
"It's not the community that it used to be... And what's happened is that now that I've been there for so long I know the good writers and I go to just them. I don't branch out because it seems like every other diary that I get to it's just not worth it to me anymore. I don't learn anything... It's turned into a shouting match sometimes. It's not the same community that it was when I was there before."
Our complete interview (6:46), shot this week at a fund raising event here in Los Angeles with Ambassador Joe Wilson (more videos to come), follows below. You can find out more about Shepston at his Ron Shepston for United States Congress website...
Faulkner Co, Arkansas, media are reporting that there was a tabulating error on machines in at least one precinct. In the East Cadron B precinct the iVotronic moved votes for Cadron Township Constable candidate John Edwards to Linda Tyler, who was a candidate for House District 45. This seems to be “vote flipping plus.”
Two US Senators have now joined together to sponsor bipartisan legislation that will ensure the continued use of DREs. In this case they require the voter has a means of verification but that verification can be paper, video, audio, or even electronic. Does that mean that the review screen on the present DREs is good enough? It may be.
I will be publishing DVN tomorrow and then we will be going on a week hiatus while the editor, publisher, writer, and chief cook and bottle washer takes his annual trip to chase the wily Alaska Salmon. Unfortunately the lodge now has wireless so I may be able to keep up with some of the most important news as it happens....