The computers got it wrong. The losing candidates were declared and certified as the "winners." But they didn't actually receive more votes than their opponents. This time, we happened to find out.
As long-time readers of The BRAD BLOG know, there's a reason we routinely slam election officials and media for announcing wholly-unverified computer-reported results of elections before any of the ballots are actually examined by human beings.
So called, post-election "random audits" of a tiny number of paper ballots --- where paper ballots exist, where officials even bother to do that much --- are almost always useless, easily gamed, and, at any rate, almost always poorly carried out. Post-election spot-checks are no substitute for actually, ya know, counting actual ballots.
Nonetheless, election officials and media simply presume that optically-scanned ballots have been correctly tallied on Election Night because, after all, "computers are more reliable than human beings," as they like to say, and any result, apparently, is far more important than an accurate result reflecting the actual will of the voters.
The situation is made still worse in states like Florida where horrible election laws actually prohibit human beings from examining paper ballots to assure they've been tallied accurately after they've already been processed by a computer system. And it's all made even worse than that in Florida as the state has turned election results verification on its head by requiring results be certified just six days after the election, long before results can actually be canvassed by officials for any type of accuracy.
With all of that in mind, and all of the warnings The BRAD BLOG has long offered about optical-scan tallying systems, guess what's just happened in Palm Beach County, Florida --- one of the absolute most disastrous counties for elections in the entire country?...
In today's New York Times, Jim Arkedis and Lindsay Mark Lewis of the Progressive Policy Institute (Lewis also previously worked for the DNC), warn that Super-PACS aren't just perverting the electoral system through millions in deceptive ads for or against the candidates they are secretly funded to support, but they may also pose an even more direct, more insidious threat to our democracy.
After acknowledging that even President Obama is now embracing the same shadowy-funded PACs he once claimed to eschew, as he refuses to "unilaterally disarm", there is a different between inclinations of left and right, in that one side generally works to increase voter turnout, while the other hopes to suppress it. The lack of accountability and the supposed "firewall" of separation between Super PACs and candidates creates a situation rife for the worst kind of dirty tricks and voter suppression in an atmosphere which is even more difficult to regulate than in the past (when such dirty tricks were already pretty easy to pull off without paying a price --- or, at least, without a price that could be paid before it was far too late).
Their warning is both compelling and ominous, particularly as we don't need to look very far into the recent past --- even here at The BRAD BLOG --- in order to find evidence in support of it...
IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT:Another big win for Big Oil in the U.S. Senate; Another offshore drilling leak threatens to become another major offshore disaster; Another warning about accelerating climate change from the U.N.; Another study explains why the Right hates science; PLUS: Poo Power! Icky turns to awesome with new energy innovation ... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Interior Dept. Approves Shell Arctic Spill Response Plan; 3-D Designs More Than Double the Solar Power Generated; Scientists Map Red Tide Algae; Churches Step Up Environmental Activism; Damaged Japan Reactor Has High Radiation, No Water; CA's San Onofre nuke plant to remain shut down; New EPA regs deliver major benefits: study ... PLUS: Daily Mail = FAIL: Scientist Sets Record Straight on Medieval Warming Research ... and much, MUCH more! ...
Our own crack legal analyst Ernie Canning pulls together many of the strands we've been reporting here, for many months, on the Wisconsin GOP's attempt to dismantle voting rights in their state in advance of both the 2012 Presidential Election and, perhaps more importantly, before the upcoming recall elections of Gov. Scott Walker, Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch and four Republican state Senators.
It's all a part of the continuing "War for Wisconsin" which we've been covering in great detail here at The BRAD BLOG for quite a while.
If you've had any trouble keeping up, or missed any of the thrilling chapters in the state Republicans' if-ya-can't-beat-'em-disenfranchise-'em, take-no-prisoners assault on the voting rights of legal voters, Ernie puts it all together and brings you right up to date in an interview today by OpEdNews' Joan Brunwasser...
Note, in particular, how both the Republican and Democratic commissioners concur on what should not be a partisan issue. They are doing a great service to their voters. Read the story and then I'll share the even better news with you below that...
HUDSON-Columbia County's election commissioners have counted 100% of the paper ballots in every election for the past two years, ever since the county switched to using new voting machines as part of a federal mandate. Their approach can delay the final vote tally and it may seem an odd when technology has taken over so many manual tasks.
But they question the accuracy of the results for the new machines and see no reason to stop checking them by hand.
“The most accurate and reliable method is a 100% visual audit,” Elections Commissioner Jason Nastke (R) said Tuesday. He referred to multiple scanner miscounts in Greenport in a past election. “The machines are not completely reliable,” he said.
“Hand counting allows for voter intent to be taken into consideration,” said Election Commissioner Virginia Martin (D). “If someone has circled rather than filled in the ovals, it counts when the ballots are hand counted, but with machine counting, the only allowed discrepancies involve machine error, not human error.”
Optical scanners were viewed as a welcome alternative when compared to the more expensive and less secure touch screen machines that were the only other option during the push to have counties purchase and install new voting machines in 2009.
In a commentary published in the Times Union newspaper in Albany last week, Buffalo attorney Peter Reese wrote that the new voting system has led to “tens of thousands of invalid overvotes,” citing specific cases, including one near Buffalo that he was involved with. He blames New York's HAVA compliance law.
Many voting activists favored the optical scanning system because it uses paper ballots that should allow an easy method of verification. Many hoped all the ballots would be posted online to allow easy oversight by citizens. But the law only calls for a small, random sampling of 3% of the machines to monitor accuracy. In Columbia County that would mean hand counting the results of one machine, said Ms. Martin. Both commissioners agree that a sample of this size is inadequate.
“The beauty of our situation is that the two election commissioners have agreed in advance to hand count ballots,” said Ms. Martin. After a primary, when one party might have the lead, it would be tougher to agree on something like this, she said.
“Although we're looking into a different kind of audit, it seems easier just to hand count and you have great voter confidence…. We have a very strict chain of custody procedure, with redundancy built into our system. Those who see our accounting procedures know we leave nothing to chance,” Ms. Martin said.
I couldn't be more delighted than to read the above. Well, actually, I could be.
From the story, as written, it was unclear whether or not Columbia was hand-counting in a central location, after ballots were moved from the polling place, or whether they were actually hand-counting at each precinct after the close of polls, with all parties, video-cameras and members of the public overseeing the counting and results posted decentrally at the polling place before ballots are moved anywhere.
So I dropped a note to both Commissioners Nastke and Martin to see if they were counting centrally (after ballots had been moved, and thus, questions about the secure chain of custody could arise) and, if so, whether they had any plans to try hand-counting publicly at the polling place in future elections, as per what we consider around here to be "Democracy's Gold Standard".
I received a very speedy --- and quite encouraging --- reply from Virginia Martin. Here it is in full...
OTTAWA — A large-scale cyber-attack involving more than 10,000 computers was responsible for the online polling problems during Saturday's NDP leadership vote, according to Scytl Canada, the company contracted by the party to conduct the vote.
While the attack in no way compromised the sanctity of the vote — in other words, no ballots cast by bona fide NDP members were added, subtracted or changed — Scytl indicated in a statement Tuesday that the attack was an attempt to crash or slow down websites by "saturating servers with bogus external communications requests that deny legitimate users access" — otherwise known as a distributed denial of service attack.
And we know the attack by 10,000 computers "in no way compromised the sanctity of the vote" how, exactly? Well, because they say so, silly!
We know Scytl's elections are secure because, as we noted in January when the Spanish-based company purchased S.O.E., the largest "election management company" in the U.S. (they do online results reporting, etc.), they told us so in their own press release announcing the acquisition. And they told us twice! They couldn't tell us they were secure unless they really were! Am I right, Sequoia Voting Systems?
IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Warning - world water crisis (and wars?) ahead; Senate to vote on repeal of Big Oil subsidies; New EPA rules: the beginning of the end for coal?; Climate scientists warn the planet is approaching tipping points; PLUS: It's confirmed - BP's oil still killing in the Gulf of Mexico... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): 2 UK offshore drilling platforms evacuated due to gas cloud; Japan Shuts Down Its Next-To-Last Nuclear Reactor; The financial bubble is nothing compared to the $22 trillion 'carbon bubble'; US states propose 3 new water pipelines; Judge overturns EPA veto of mountaintop removal Spruce Mine; Panel says MSHA partially responsible for Upper Big Branch Mine disaster; New bird-friendly wind energy designs; Enviros sue to see 'proprietary' fracking chemicals; Denizens of the Deep: James Cameron's deep-sea dive ... PLUS: Think solar power can't compete with big utilities? Think again ... and much, MUCH more! ...
Out of scores of journalists who work for the Gannett Wisconsin Media-owned Green Bay Press-Gazette, just seven were willing to offer their personal, non-business related support for a recall of Wisconsin's controversial Gov. Scott Walker. They are now being disciplined.
The rest, the vast majority of Press-Gazette employees, all cast a vote for their support of the Republican Walker's fitness to complete his term as governor by refusing to sign the petition for his recall.
How can we now trust them to report without bias on the Walker story they are tasked with covering in a neutral fashion?!
Despite the clear and unethical conflict of interest demonstrated by their support for Walker --- for which the Governor is almost certainly grateful --- those journalist are somehow still expected to cover the Democratic Party and union-supported political challenges against him and his administration in an impartial manner.
Clearly, that is impossible. At least according to an editorial published last night by Kevin Corrado, the president and publisher of the Green Bay Press-Gazette...
I don't necessarily care for the Affordable Care Act (ACA or "ObamaCare"), any more than any other non-disinformed, non-wingnut. Neither am I enough of a Constitutional expert to argue for or against its Constitutionality, which is currently being argued in front of the U.S. Supreme Court.
But over the last several days, on Twitter, I've been asking to hear from folks who have been negatively affected by "ObamaCare" personally, in any way whatsoever. Given the fits and tortured distortions and twisted outrages that Republicans have been pretending to throw over the law, and its individual mandate requiring those who do not already have health insurance to buy some, I'm sure there must be many personal horror stories to relate, right?
I've got a lot of wingnuts and Breitbots who follow me on the Twitters, and they are usually all too happy to take whatever shots they can at me or Obama or anything else they can imagineer, even if they have to make shit up to do it. But, in this case, not a one of 'em was able to point to a single instance of being negatively affected personally by "ObamaCare" in any way. Go figure.
In Wisconsin, two Dane County Circuit Court judges, David Flanagan and Richard Niess both issued injunctions against the state GOP's polling place photo ID restriction ("Act 23") --- Flanagan's temporary, Niess' permanent --- after finding that the law was in direct violation of the WI state constitution's guaranteed right to vote.
Immediately after the first of those two injunctions, issued by Judge Flanagan in Milwaukee Branch of the NAACP v. Walker, the WI GOP filed an ethics complaint with the WI Judicial Commission, alleging that the judge had violated the WI Code of Judicial Conduct because he had signed a petition to recall Gov. Scott Walker (R) and failed to disclose that fact before issuing his ruling.
It's turns out that Republican Florida state Rep. Dennis Baxley is far more odious than we realized when, last December, we described him as, among other things, "reprehensible", "anti-American" and "democracy-hating".
It was just such a racially motivated killing that appears to have resulted in the shooting death of unarmed 17-year old African-American Trayvon Martin, by George Zimmerman in a gated community in Sanford, FL late last month. Zimmerman, who has admitted to shooting Martin --- just minutes after he is heard on a 911 call whispering "fucking coons" and being told by the dispatcher to not follow Martin --- is still a free man today, and still in possession of his gun and [see CORRECTION note below] concealed weapon permit, thanks in no small part to Baxley's law.
What follows is brief coverage of Baxley from MSNBC's Rachel Maddow Show last night, including clips of his advocacy for the bill back in 2005, when he argued that "this is gonna be a safer state" and "this bill will stop crime in its tracks". Then, after that, we'll remind you why, and what, we had written about this despicable creep last December...
IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Zombie Keystone pipeline rises again, as Obama fast-tracks southern leg; The Waxman cometh with a deficit-cutting carbon tax proposal, while the GOP protects Big Oil's billion-dollar subsidies; Exxon Valdez to the scrap heap of history; PLUS: It's World Water Day --- do you know where your clean water is?... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): GOP vs. the Navy on clean energy; Fracking: Is Dimock’s water really safe?; U.S. slaps low tariffs on Chinese solar panels; Beekeepers urge ban on toxic pesticide; Myths and Facts: Germans switch from nukes to renewables; SCOTUS rules against EPA; Denmark to boost offshore wind; Damage to oceans could cost $2tr by 2100 ... PLUS: House Republican accidentally tells truth about Solyndra investigation ... and much, MUCH more! ...
We've been covering the extraordinary means by which the GOP establishment has been going to shut out the voices of the organized and well-numbered supporters of Republican Presidential candidate, Rep. Ron Paul at caucuses and delegate conventions, of late.
Here's our recent coverage of the extraordinary scenes (and, thankfully, video) of what happened at the Missouri Caucuses in St. Charles County over the weekend and in Athens-Clarke County, GA the weekend prior. (You can watch all the videos referenced in this broadcast at that link.)
Here's my appearance on RT TV Tuesday night discussing the entire fine mess, and charging that the "GOP establishment hates democracy". (That video has been viewed more than 13,000 times in the 24 hours since being posted by RT after its airing on the satellite/cable channel.)
Today, on my KPFK/Pacifica Radio show, I was joined by two of the key players at both of those of remarkable scenes. My guests were Brent Stafford, the Paul organizer seen, incredibly enough, being arrested while trying to reconvene the aborted caucus in St. Charles after pandemonium had broken out inside, and Lori Bone of Athens, who was seen (also on video, thankfully) trying to demand an explanation from Republican Party officials in GA after they'd rammed through a slate of delegates at the Clarke County GOP convention, and then ended the proceedings, ignoring the Paul supporters majority --- all in blatant violation of the official rules.
Stafford told us the St. Charles County GOP is likely to be forced to hold a new caucus (since they didn't even get to vote on delegates before everything broke down, as police were called to the scene). That ought to be interesting.
And Bone explained how Paul supporters in Clarke County took it upon themselves to reconvene the caucus the next day in order to elect their own slate of delegates for the upcoming district and state GOP conventions. Thought ought to be even interestinger.
After my conversation with Stafford and Bone, we finished things up with a bit of Green News Report with the always lovely and very wise Desi Doyen....
Once again, the host was RT's Liz Wahl. Here's what happened today...
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UPDATE: Wow. 438 756 comments on this video at YouTube in the 3 18 hours since it was posted there, where it has now been viewed more than 10,000 times during that period.
By the way, for those who have asked over there, the complete videos of what happened on Saturday in St. Charles, MO and the Saturday before that in Clarke County, GA, as referenced in the conversation above, are all posted right here.
Also, Brent Stafford, the Ron Paul supporter who was arrested outside the aborted GOP caucus in St. Charles, MO over the weekend, will be my guest on my KPFK/Pacifica Radio show Wednesday at 3p PT. It will stream live right here.
UPDATE 3/2/12: My KPFK/Pacifica interview with Stafford, mentioned above, is now posted here.