[Update 4/1/09: Murphy's lead shrank to just 25 votes "after local election officials began double-checking totals and their math today".]
Can't you citizens make up your minds?! Please?! The NY-20 U.S. House Special Election held today to fill the vacant seat of now Senator Kirsten Gillibrand is, of course, too close to call. Big time. Sigh.
The Democratic candidate Scott Murphy leads the Republican Jim Tedisco by just 65 25 votes out of more than 150,000 votes cast at the polls (lever machines, the last state to have them), with 100% of the precincts now having reported in tonight. It would be quite a come-from-behind victory for Murphy if he's able to pull it off, as Tedisco had been leading in the polls, in the heavily Republican district, until just a few days ago.
Of course, this will all now come down to the absentee ballots cast in the race. Just like Minnesota. The NY Board of Elections must now work out a schedule for their counting, as there are still a number of days for those to come in. It's being reported tonight that some 10,055 absentee ballots went out, "including 1,882 military and overseas ballots, of which 5,907 total had been returned" so far.
As Gregg Levine at FDL noticed earlier this afternoon, in a peculiar legal move, the NY Republican Party filed a strange legal motion [PDF], long before the polls were even closed, including this pre-emptive election challenge:
Ordering the respondent New York State Board of Elections and the Commissioners thereof to certify the name of James Tedisco as elected to the public office of Member of the U.S. House of Representatives, 20th Congressional District, in Dutchess, New York, at the Special Election held therefor on the 31st Day of March, 2009, or alternatively enjoining the improper issuance of a certificate of election for the said public office.
That part of the motion, Levine reports in a followup was "struck out by the court on the spot". They didn't buy the old "heads I win, tails you lose" routine from the GOP, apparently.
This race is headed to the court system, which will oversee the counting and recounting of votes. One problem Murphy might have is that Al Franken's lawyers aren't available right now. And in Tedisco's favor, Norm Coleman's attorneys are busy, too.
UPDATE 4/8/09: Over the past week, the lead has shifted back and forth several times between Murpy and Tedisco in advance of the hand-count of some 7,000 absentee paper ballots set to begin today. We've got a quick update on the week's roller coaster ride as the count gets underway, now posted here...
Just in from St. Paul, the 3-judge panel in MN's U.S. Senate Election Contest have returned to issue a ruling...
In a potentially decisive ruling, a panel of three judges today ordered up to 400 new absentee ballots opened and counted, far fewer than Republican Norm Coleman had sought in his effort to overcome a lead held by DFLer Al Franken.
The ballots appear to include some that Franken had identified as wrongly rejected as well as ballots that Coleman wanted opened in his quest to overcome a 225-vote lead that Franken gained after a recount.
Al Franken's attorney Marc Elias says: "We are pleased...Obviously, the math is going to be very difficult for former Sen. Coleman and his lawyers at this point."
Former Sen. Norm Coleman's attorney Ben Ginsberg admits: "It is pretty much of a longshot with that few ballots being put in play...We are disappointed. But we feel the court is wrong and we will appeal." During a teleconference this afternoon he strongly hinted they plan to appeal all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, if necessary.
Earlier this week, Republican Sen. John Cornyn, chair of the Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee (RSCC) threatened "WWIII" if the Democrats seat Franken before they appeal the case to the U.S. Supreme Court, if necessary, and even if those appeals take "years."
After reviewing evidence for some 980 previously rejected absentee ballots, as submitted for consideration by both candidates, the judges found that just 400 of them met likely grounds for being opened, counted and added to the final results, though only once they are able to review the actual ballots themselves will they know for certain. They rejected Coleman's plea to use lenient standards for determining which ballots should be counted, holding instead to the strict rule of law, and allowing ballots only for possible counting if they were clearly, legally cast, according to very specific state parameters.
The judges review, they took pains to point out, was exceedingly thorough...
Today the CA Sec. of State, Debra Bowen, announced that she will be decertifying the voting system that lost votes in Humboldt Co. This action is being taken after a state investigation that found that the Diebold/Premier voting system violates the standards because of problems with its audit logs as well as the inaccuracy of one version used in the state.
Humboldt Co has already decided to switch to another vendor and the other two counties are already upgrading their systems so Bowen’s action does nothing at all. The fact that she is ignoring the audit log problems means that she is giving her tacit stamp of approval on the Diebold/Premier systems that have the audit log problem.
I am going to begin posting links to new information that I find on the United States Election Assistance Commission website. I hope this will help keep the reader aware of part of what is going on in Washington DC with regards to our elections.
After this Wednesday evening’s “Daily Voting News” we will be taking a well-deserved hiatus to attend a conference. DVN will resume on Sunday evening.
Due, in no small part, to the concerns expressed in our February analysis of the January draft version of this year's Election Reform bill being introduced by Rep. Rush Holt (D-NJ) in the U.S. House, along with a bit of "lobbying" his office for a key change after the publication of that article, the updated version of the bill [PDF], said by his office to be the "final" one before introduction, has been slightly --- one might even say, significantly --- improved to meet one of our major concerns.
Still, while there is a lot of much-needed reform in this federal legislation, there remain many concerns with it as well. So let's take a quick, updated look at the good, the bad and the ugly in the soon-to-be-introduced "final" version of Holt's "Voter Confidence and Increased Accessibility Act of 2009"...
IN TODAY'S AUDIO REPORT: Obama gets tough with US automakers while a new electric car looks for a manufacturing plant; Earth Hour vs. Earth Haters; PLUS: The White House vegetable garden makes some people very uncomfortable; AND: If you're "green-curious", the Sierra Club has the site for you ...All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (links below): Prescription drugs found in fish, and the world's first biodegradable chewing gum (because you didn't know conventional gum wasn't biodegradable, now did you?). See below for more!
Info/links on stuff we talked about on today's episode, plus MORE green news, all follows below...
There's folks to the right of Ann Coulter? Well, yeah, since Coulter is little more than a phony "conservative" opportunist (and voter fraud felon). We always enjoy it, of course, when these guys eat themselves alive. So who are we to stop them? And we're equally glad to know that the cowardly Coulter also now runs away during interviews with them on the radio, just as she did with us way back in 2005.
Here's the latest video campaign, launched by the anti-choicers on the right, wherein Coulter can't run fast enough...over and over again. As Coulter's '08 endorsed Mitt Romney is likely the closest thing resembling a "legitimate" front-runner for 2012 --- at least by GOP standards --- it'll be fun to watch this internecine fight ramp up between now and then...
(Hat-tip Wendy Norris, who has more at Colorado Independent)
As we wait for the 3-judge panel in Minnesota to issue their verdict in former Sen. Norm Coleman's U.S. Senate race, in which the Democratic challenger Al Franken was found to be the winner by a bi-partisan state canvassing board, D.C. lawmakers are cranking up the political battle which awaits beyond that decision, which could come any day now, and its predictable appeal to the MN Supreme Court by the loser (who will "probably" be Coleman, according to his own attorney).
Sen. "Big Bad" John Cornyn (R-TX), the chair of the National Republican SenatorialConspiratorial Committee (NRSC), is now threatening "World War III" if the Dems try to seat Franken before a U.S. Supreme Court appeal is completed, or even a new federal suit that could be filed by Coleman in U.S. District Court if he chooses...even if those additional judicial processes could take "years"...
Tesla Motors revealed its all-electric Model S sedan last week in Los Angeles. At half the price of its Roadster model, which was $109,000, the Model S will be priced at $49,900 after tax credits ($57,400 before such credits). "After factoring in savings on gas," Tesla points out, that's "comparable to a $35,000 Ford sedan," the New York Times reports. A blog item from the Timesdescribes the Model S as "sleek, sporty and sexy."
Tesla hopes the price tag will come down to "less than $30,000," as the price "will presumably go down as the technology improves." They plan the manufactured version to get 300 miles to a single charge, with a 45-minute recharge time.
While the company has raised millions from private investors, they need still more to be able to set up a production plant, which they plan to do in Southern California. But, for the moment, they are waiting on federal loan programs, as the credit market has otherwise locked up, according to the Times.
In the meantime, Detroit's big three automakers are also asking for federal funds and, in advance of President Obama's announcement of plans for the auto-industry, he has reportedly demanded that GM's CEO step down. So let's add one plus one here...
“Our voting machines cannot be hacked.” “Our voting system is not hooked up to the Internet so it is secure.” We hear this time and time again from the vendors and from election officials. Yet if it uses computers and they use software they can be hacked. Our ‘Featured’ article is another story of computer systems being looted by bad actors. Who could believe that our voting systems are not vulnerable and ripe for manipulation by the same types?...
As reported in today’s ‘Featured’ article the EAC has finally posted the transcription of their hearing from Feb 26 and 27. This is the hearing in which CIA cybersecurity expert, Steven Stigall said, “I follow the vote. And wherever the vote becomes an electron and touches a computer, that's an opportunity for a malicious actor potentially to...make bad things happen,”...
Presentation to election officials underscores years of reporting at The BRAD BLOG, including dangers of voting machine 'sleepovers,' and Sequoia Voting Systems' continuing ties to Venezuela's Hugo Chavez...
"I follow the vote. And wherever the vote becomes an electron and touches a computer, that's an opportunity for a malicious actor potentially to...make bad things happen," CIA cybersecurity expert Steven Stigall explained, in a stunning presentation to a U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) field hearing held one month ago in Orlando.
As initially reported earlier this week by Greg Gordon at McClatchy, "Stigall said that voting equipment connected to the Internet could be hacked, and machines that weren't connected could be compromised wirelessly. Eleven U.S. states have banned or limited wireless capability in voting equipment, but Stigall said that election officials didn't always know it when wireless cards were embedded in their machines."
"The CIA got interested in electronic systems a few years ago," Gordon reports Stigall as explaining at the EAC hearing, "after concluding that foreigners might try to hack U.S. election systems."
But as disturbing as Stigall's presentation was, what's almost as disturbing is that it took more than 11 days, McClatchy's coverage, a number of FOIA requests from VotersUnite's John Gideon (a frequent guest blogger here), and a couple of articles from BRAD BLOG alum, Michael Richardson of the Examiner (his coverage is here and here), before the EAC finally released the complete transcript of the meeting [WORD], including Stigall's remarks.
"The presenter did not provide the presentation, 'Computers and Elections: The Growing Potential for Cyber Vote Fraud', to the EAC, so we have no materials responsive to your request," Gideon was told in response to his Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to the EAC, as reported by Richardson. "We received the transcript on March 16, 2009, and it will be publicly available in the next few days."
As of last night, 10 days since the EAC admits they received the transcript of their own event which had taken place 20 days earlier, they had neither sent it to Gideon in response to his request, nor posted it on their website. As of this morning, a month since the hearing, it's finally up on their website, thanks in part, no doubt, to the pressure brought on the EAC by the public to do so. Even then, Stigall's remarks are not posted separately, as other presentations are, but rather, one has to go looking for the full transcript of the actual event to find it. So why both the delay and obfuscation from the famously dysfunctional (a nice way to put it) federal agency? Make your own best guesses, since there is no official explanation for the moment.
Happily, there were others at the meeting who had transcribed the CIA cybersecurity expert's startling remarks --- decimating the idea of supposedly "secure" e-voting --- independently, who then helped to bring it to the public's attention. Clearly, the strongly pro-e-voting EAC had/has little intention of doing so themselves.
Stigall's presentation, and we've got much more of it excerpted below, include a passel of disturbing thoughts. Many of them we've tried to impart on these pages for years, including comments which point up the dangers we've tried to warn about concerning pre-election voting machine "sleepovers" at the houses of pollworkers, and more indications of the dangers of Sequoia Voting Systems clandestine, on-going relationship with the Hugo Chavez-tied Venezuelan e-voting firm Smartmatic, as we reported exclusively here one year ago --- to little interest from the corporate media, despite Sequoia's claims to federal investigators that they had severed all ties with the firm...
Today’s ‘Featured’ article [PDF] begins, “Florida’s Department of State is proposing a few strategically placed words that would gut Florida Statute 104.29, a brief but powerful law that currently offers Florida citizens their greatest protection for election observation. The altered language is buried on page 61 of a 68-page elections bill1 still in draft form, which, as soon as it is finalized, will be presented to the State Legislature for approval.
Also ‘Featured’ are two press releases (here and here) from Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney’s website with regards to new legislation that will help military and overseas voters.
Correction: In this space yesterday I inferred that Humboldt Co had made the decision to move from Premier/Diebold to another vendor based on the problems encountered by the county in the Nov. 2008 elections. In fact the decision to change vendors had been made before that election....