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The Secret Koch Brothers Tapes...

By John Gideon on 9/7/2008 5:06pm PT  

Guest Blogged by John Gideon of VotersUnite.org

Today’s featured article is, again, from Palm Beach Co Florida. The quotes in this article make it clear that failing elections supervisors are going to blame the transition from DRE voting systems to optical-scan voting systems for any failures they encounter this election season.

“It was extremely challenging to make the transition" from touch screens to optical scanning of paper ballots in just three months, Elections Supervisor Arthur Anderson said”. Yes, I’m sure it was a challenge. Just as much a challenge as the successful move from DRE to Optical-Scan accomplished by the state of New Mexico a couple years ago or the same change made by Cuyahoga Co. Ohio prior to this year’s presidential primary. New Mexico and Cuyahoga Co didn’t seem to have anywhere near the problems that Palm Beach Co had.

“[County Judge Barry] Cohen said there were no numbers on the documents he signed to certify the judicial race on Tuesday. County Commissioner Addie Greene said she didn't notice whether vote totals were listed.” This judge has now admitted to signing legal documents without having all of the numbers filled-in. Now, I’m not an attorney but this seems to me to be an admission of misfeasance on the part of a county election official and probably the whole canvassing board on which Mr. Cohen serves.

And then there is this gem; "I decided whatever system (Palm Beach County) buys next time, I'm not buying it," joked Kay Clem, elections supervisor for Indian River County, the only other county in the state with Sequoia equipment. "I feel bad for them, it's tough. I can't imagine dealing with all those paper ballots. It must be a nightmare." This quote from an elections supervisor who allowed an experiment to be done with real votes in a real election and that resulted in over 10,000 votes being mis-reported....

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




Tucson's John Brakey 'Frog Marched' Out of Counting Room After Noticing Ballot Bags With Missing Security Seals
Incident Latest in String of Embarrassments for Pima County's Disgraceful Election Director Brad Nelson...
By Brad Friedman on 9/7/2008 3:16pm PT  

Pima County (Tucson), Arizona Election Integrity advocate and expert John Brakey was arrested last night while performing his job as an election supervisor, on behalf of both the Democratic and Libertarian parties, during a post-election hand-count audit of ballots.

Brakey becomes the latest in a growing string of EI advocates to be arrested and/or barred from observing (Brakey was lucky enough to merit both "honors" apparently) while attempting to assure accuracy, fairness, and transparency in voting and in the reporting of election results on behalf of citizens.

The problem erupted after Brakey had noticed a number of ballot bags being counted in the post-election audit were missing their proper security seals. He began to ask questions about those bags, which eventually led to his arrest at the demand of Pima County's Brad "Election Director Gone Wild" Nelson, a man with whom Brakey has had a number of unfortunate (for Nelson) run-ins over the years.

After news of his arrest, "the county elections building was swarming with television news crews," according to a report by Election Defense Alliance (EDA), of which Brakey is a member. Indeed, KGUN's video report on the incident is very good, as the Tucson media --- given Brakey's success in lawsuits and legislation over the years on behalf of voters --- has come to see him as a reliable source on such matters...

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




By John Gideon on 9/6/2008 4:34pm PT  

Guest Blogged by John Gideon of VotersUnite.org

In this space yesterday I mentioned that the Colorado state Election Director, Holly Lowder, had resigned and no reason had been given at that time. It seems that an investigation shows that she shared an address and phone number with a vendor of software services to her office and to 30 counties in the state. Of course everyone is telling the media that she just retired but the fact that this retirement happens just two months before a national election raises many eyebrows.

In previous DVNs we talked about Indian River Co, FL and the idiocy of doing an experiment in the middle of a real election. If you will recall the experiment led to an error which caused some ballots to be double-recorded. The Supervisor of Elections had reported 5,189 votes had been counted twice but yesterday she claims that she “misspoke” and that the total is actually over 10,000 votes.

And finally Palm Beach Co, FL has essentially admitted to a total disaster in election administration. The state has certified the primary election except for the one judicial race in question in Palm Beach Co. Every candidate in every race probably has good reason to question the results in their particular race. The state will probably now step in and oversee the election in November. There is no longer any confidence in that office. ...

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




The Republican War on Voting continues...
By Brad Friedman on 9/6/2008 3:16pm PT  

As the youth and minority vote alone this year could make the difference in this year's Presidential election, the following chilling edict issued recently by the Registrar of Montgomery County, Virginia (home to Virginia Tech University), unfortunately comes as little surprise...and likely an omen as to what we'll be seeing much more of between her and November 4th...

The Code of Virginia states that a student must declare a legal residence in order to register. A legal residence can be either a student's permanent address from home or their current college residence. By making Montgomery County your permanent residence, you have declared your independence from your parents and can no longer be claimed as a dependent on their income tax filings --- check with your tax professional. If you have a scholarship attached to your former residence, you could lose this funding. And, if you change your registration to Montgomery County, Virginia Code requires you to change your driver's license and car registration to your present address within 30 days.

Steve Heller has the complete dope at VelvetRevolution.us' Election Protection Strike Force site...

UPDATE 9/8/08: New York Times jumps into the furor on "the local registrar of elections [who] issued two releases incorrectly suggesting a range of dire possibilities for students who registered to vote at their college" and many other similar instances around the country.

Prices now slashed in The BRAD BLOG's 2008 Election Integrity Fund Drive! Please support our continuing coverage of your election system, as found nowhere else. Click here for a number of cool new collector's edition Premium products now available starting at just $5!



Holly Lowder Had Taken Up Residence With Contractor Who Provided Registration Roll Software to the State
Neither the Sec. of State, nor the Husband of the Election Chief Knew About the Relationship, Even as Other Such Relationships Have Been Encouraged by Federal Legislation...
By Brad Friedman on 9/6/2008 1:04pm PT  

-- Brad Friedman

Last night we offered the quick skinny on the abrupt resignation of Colorado's state Election Director, Holly Lowder, just 60 days out from what promises to be one of the largest and most important --- and potentially closest --- elections in the state's history.

We summarized some of the dizzying background on the exceptionally embarrassing and dysfunctional state of certification, decertification and recertification of e-voting systems in the Centennial State over the last two years, under current Sec. of State, Republican Mike Coffman (who is overseeing his own election for the U.S. House this November), and in previous years under two former Republican SoS' (one of whom was promoted by George W. Bush to do the same lousy job of e-vote testing for the U.S. Election Assistance Commission).

We also suggested, based on information from sources in the states, that the old euphemism about "election officials being in bed with voting vendors" may well become more than just a euphemism when the full explanation for Lowder's sudden departure became known.

And today, as we'd hinted last night, some of that information has now become known...

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




No Official Explanation Yet for Holly Lowder's Sudden and Unexpected Departure, Just 60 Days Prior to Presidential Election in a Very Important 'Swing State'
...But We Have a Few Well-Informed Guesses...
By Brad Friedman on 9/5/2008 10:31pm PT  

From Rocky Mountain News today...

The director of elections at the secretary of state's office resigned suddenly Thursday.

The departure of Holly Lowder, former Alamosa County clerk, comes two months before what is expected to be one of the biggest elections in recent Colorado history. Lowder's work centered on the implementation of the new statewide voter registration system, said Richard Coolidge, spokesman for the agency.

Lowder could not be reached for comment.
...
Coolidge would not give details on why Lowder stepped down. He said Thursday was her last day.
...
Larimer County Clerk Scott Doyle said Lowder was more involved with the voter database early on but had become less involved in recent months.

AP reports that county officials were notified of Lowder's departure via email on Thursday, from the SoS office, which noted only that she had "retired and wanted to 'pursue other opportunities.'"

Sources in CO tell us there will be more coming, likely tomorrow, on this. We're also told that there may be a salacious aspect here that might just make the well-worn euphemism about "election officials being in bed with voting machine vendors," um, somewhat more than just a euphemism. (Talk about your voting machine "sleepovers"!)

[See update for more details on the above, now at bottom of article!]

Aside from the noteworthiness of Lowder's sudden exit, as pointed out in the article, in regard to the importance of Colorado in this year's elections --- the state's 9 electoral votes are thought to be very much up for grabs this year, despite going to Bush in the previous two elections --- BRAD BLOG readers will remember a bit of the background here concerning the utterly dysfunctional state of e-voting in the Centennial State under their current SoS, Mike Coffman...

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




By John Gideon on 9/5/2008 4:43pm PT  

Palm Beach Co had first responders joining with election officials and other volunteers out searching polling places looking for 2,500 lost ballots. Meanwhile the state has certified the state-wide primary election except the one judicial race that has been at the center of the incredible problems in the county. One question must be answered; if there are 2500 ballots missing and that one race is still in question then what about every other race on the Palm Beach ballots that is within 2,500 votes? They should all be in question and any candidate in any of those races who does not file a complaint is not giving their supporters their due.

In a surprise report we have learned that Holly Lowder, the Colorado State Elections Director has resigned. No reason has been given for that action and no one is talking but we are hearing the story will be told tomorrow.

Yesterday in this space I pointed out, incorrectly, that in the audit in Broward Co seven precincts disagreed by as much as 95 percent. What I should have said is “The results in seven precincts resembled original results by 95 percent or more”....

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




John McCain's Attempt to Use 'Injured Troops as Political Props' as Successful as Bush/McCain 'War on Terror'...
By Brad Friedman on 9/5/2008 11:16am PT  

Last night, we noted the bizarre choice of backdrop that led to the first five minutes, or so, of McCain's acceptance speech being given in front of a classic green screen. For those who watched the speech, they likely realize that the green in close-up was the lawn from a larger backdrop of what appeared to be a mansion.

Our thought: One of McCain's?! Odd choice, that.

Turns out, no, it wasn't one of his houses, it was an even dumber selection from the geniuses what run the GOP, who want you to entrust them to run the country...

John Aravosis explains what that backdrop actually was...

You're gonna love this. ... In fact, the picture was of Walter Reed. No, not Walter Reed Army Medical Center where injured troops are treated - though that was clearly McCain's intent, to use our injured troops as a political prop (just as last night they dared show footage of the planes crashing into the World Trade Center, and the towers falling) - no, in fact, McCain posted a photo of Walter Reed Middle School, a school for kids in California that has nothing to do with Walter Reed the military hospital. They actually thought the school was the Army hospital. Apparently McCain just discovered the Google.

Great vetting.

With these chuckleheads in charge, little wonder the "war on terror" is going so well. For our money, the hit of the night last night was the courageous American from Iraq Veterans Against the War who managed to get the real message out to the whole wide world, over the pool camera feed during McCain's speech...

(NOTE: We'll be hosting The Randi Rhodes Show on Monday. We've learned it was Adam Kokesh who managed this very successful demonstration and smart use of his First Amendment freedoms last night, and we're going to try to get him on the air with us!)




(Or is it 'Sexist' to Point That Out?)
By Brad Friedman on 9/4/2008 8:11pm PT  

Stephen Colbert is likely beside himself, as the first 5 minutes, or so, of John McCain's nomination acceptance speech at the RNC were effectively done, incredibly enough, in front of a green screen.

And beyond that...your thoughts?

UPDATE: Explanation for that green screen (yes, the explanation is even dumber than you can imagine!) right here...




By John Gideon on 9/4/2008 5:00pm PT  

Readers will recall that as of yesterday Palm Beach Co Florida officials had lost well over 3,000 ballots sometime between the primary election and an election recount. Earlier today there were announcements that over 2700 ballots had been found. Late this afternoon the officials were supposed to meet to announce whether they had found all of the missing ballots and why those ballots went missing in the first place.

Were the ballots run through the high-speed optical scan machines during the recount and did the machines pick-up two or more ballots at a time thus not counting all of the ballots? Or, were the ballots in bins that were never counted?

The media is not clear on this issue yet so we are going to have to wait to find this out. If the machines were, in fact, grabbing two or more ballots at a time jurisdictions around the country need to be made aware of this possibility.

Meanwhile a report from Broward Co of the result of their state-mandated audit is a bit troubling. The county appears to have hand-counted one race on ballots from 16 precincts. The media is reporting that nine of the precincts hand-count matches the machine results. Seven precincts resembled original results by 95 percent or more. That is a huge number and should raise red flags.

Instead one official said, “When you're dealing with people and paper, that's the best you're going to get.” How about agreeing 100% and you keep counting until you are sure that the people and paper are not the problem and then you find out what problem the machines had?...

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




By Brad Friedman on 9/4/2008 1:55pm PT  




Gloves Come Off as Governor of Alaska Turned Vice-Presidential Nominee, Comes Out Slugging
AP: Speech 'Stretched the Truth'...
By Brad Friedman on 9/3/2008 8:23pm PT  

Transcript/video...

AP...

ST. PAUL, Minn. - Greeted by thunderous applause, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin presented herself to the Republican National Convention on Wednesday, and millions of Americans watching from home, as a small-town outsider ready to join John McCain's ticket in waging "a tough fight in this election against confident opponents at a crucial hour for our country."
...
Largely unknown outside her home state, Palin told the convention: "I had the privilege of living most of my life in a small town. I was just your average hockey mom, and signed up for the PTA because I wanted to make my kids' public education better," she said, speaking of her home town of Wasilla, Alaska, with a population of about 6,500.
...
Before becoming governor, Palin served as mayor of Wasilla, she recounted, adding: "And since our opponents in this presidential election seem to look down on that experience, let me explain to them what the job involves. I guess a small-town mayor is sort of like a 'community organizer,' except that you have actual responsibilities."

UPDATE: AP does some fact-checking on Palin's speech and notes that "In some cases" she "stretched the truth." Here's a couple of the examples they offer (similar fact-checks are also offered, at the same link, for Romney and Huckabee's speeches):

PALIN: ''I have protected the taxpayers by vetoing wasteful spending ... and championed reform to end the abuses of earmark spending by Congress. I told the Congress 'thanks but no thanks' for that Bridge to Nowhere.''

THE FACTS: As mayor of Wasilla, Palin hired a lobbyist and traveled to Washington annually to support earmarks for the town totaling $27 million. In her two years as governor, Alaska has requested nearly $750 million in special federal spending, by far the largest per-capita request in the nation. While Palin notes she rejected plans to build a $398 million bridge from Ketchikan to an island with 50 residents and an airport, that opposition came only after the plan was ridiculed nationally as a ''bridge to nowhere.''
...
PALIN: ''The Democratic nominee for president supports plans to raise income taxes, raise payroll taxes, raise investment income taxes, raise the death tax, raise business taxes, and increase the tax burden on the American people by hundreds of billions of dollars.''

THE FACTS: The Tax Policy Center, a think tank run jointly by the Brookings Institution and the Urban Institute, concluded that Obama's plan would increase after-tax income for middle-income taxpayers by about 5 percent by 2012, or nearly $2,200 annually. McCain's plan, which cuts taxes across all income levels, would raise after tax-income for middle-income taxpayers by 3 percent, the center concluded.




By John Gideon on 9/3/2008 4:37pm PT  

Just as an example of how screwed-up are Florida election laws yesterday Indian River Co.’s Canvassing Board approved the primary election results. Hopefully the reader will recall that Indian River had over 5000 ballots that were counted twice because someone decided to do a test in the middle of a real election and then failed to properly remove the results in that test. The result was ballots from 40 polling sites that were counted twice. Luckily an observant poll worker realized the totals for her site were double what they should have been. She pointed out the mistake and the county found their error.

Tomorrow the board must do a state mandated audit to ensure their voting machines were correctly counting the votes. If the poll worker hadn’t been observant and if this audit were to find the problem, or any other problem that might exist with the vote count, NOTHING can/could be done because the results have already been approved by the Canvassing Board.

One has to wonder what some officials in Florida are thinking when they make stupid rules. This audit is newly mandated. Why didn’t they mandate it to happen before canvassing the election? Post election audits are great. We need them everywhere and following every election but they have to be timed in such a way as to mean something if problems are found. If they don’t have a purpose (to ensure the votes were properly counted) then they are a waste of tax money....

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




The Record on 'Palin-tology' Continues to Grow in Advance of Her Speech Tonight...
By Brad Friedman on 9/3/2008 1:12pm PT  

Blogger "BoBo2020" compiled "130 Things to remember when Palin speaks tonight".

The nearly-exhaustive linked list of things we know (so far) about the Alaskan Governor and John McCain's selection of her as his Veep, begins by asking what the choice says about McCain's decision making process. Near the top of the list comes the following admissions from the Arizona Senators' own autobiography, explaining what the blogger describes as McCain's "COLOSSALLY bad judgement" in selecting Palin:

"I make them (decisions) quickly as I can, quicker than the other fellow, if I can," Mr. McCain wrote, with his top adviser Mark Salter, in his 2002 book, "Worth the Fighting For." "Often my haste is a mistake, but I live with the consequences without complaint.



By John Gideon on 9/2/2008 4:32pm PT  

Guest Blogged by John Gideon of VotersUnite.org

The news from Palm Beach Co Florida is not getting any better. The official recount is complete as required by the state. By state law they have exactly one week to count ballots, rectify any problems, do any required recounts, and certify that everything is correct. Of course that is all without any court orders and it looks more and more like this election will be going to the courts.

The original election evening count seems to have been 102,523 and the final recount total was 99,045. The only race that was recounted was a race for a judicial seat and the winner flipped from one candidate to another from the original to the final recount. The original difference was 17 votes and the final was 60 votes.

The big question is what happened to over 3,400 ballots. The losing candidate will be going to court to ask that question among others. And now any candidate in any other race who lost by less than 3,400 votes is also being encouraged to go to court and demand a recount or re-election.

There is a lot wrong with this situation. The state is wrong in forcing a quick handling of the ballots. No wonder mistakes are made and more seem to be made in Florida than most other states. A complete investigation must be held inside the county to figure out what happened and why it happened. Was it administration issues or the voting system? And why did members of the county canvassing board sign an official document that had no final numbers on it? The voters need to know that and they need to know before November....




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