Officials Confirm: Tainted Election Results Still Features Thousands of Uncounted Ballots, Unofficial Numbers, No Winner has Been Certified!
Now Why Would The Republicans Do That?
By Brad Friedman on 6/13/2006, 4:59pm PT  

In light of our recent reports that California's special run-off election to fill the seat of disgraced former Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham in the 50th congressional was carried out on voting machines tainted by massive security breaches --- having been sent home with poll workers in the weeks prior to the election in violation of several state and federal directives --- Republicans have rushed to swear in the "winner" Brian Bilbray in Washington D.C. this morning, despite the election results being unverified, ballots still being counted and the "winner" not even certified in the state.

The Associated Press, who ran a photo today of a "mock swearing-in ceremony" in House Speaker Dennis Haster's office, also ran a story, widely carried unquestioningly around the country, describing Bilbray's official first day in the U.S. House, as if the election results had been legitimized. They haven't been.

"Bilbray sworn in to replace Rep. Cunningham," says the headline accompanying a story written by AP's Erica Warner and picked up widely. The story gives no indication that the questionable results of the election have yet to be certified by the state of California.

AP's coverage has been published widely today by, amongst scores of others, USA Today and Washington Post.

And yet, four sources in the CA-50's San Diego County Registrar of Voters office, including the Registrar himself, Michael Haas, along with two officials in the CA Secretary of State's office have confirmed to The BRAD BLOG that there are thousands of votes still be counted in the closely watched race, which has yet to be officially certified by either the county or the state...

Ashley Giovannettone, Communications Director for the CA Secretary of State's office confirmed that nothing has been certified yet and that only unofficial results have been posted on the SoS and County websites. "The counties have a 28-day canvassing period to collect and count the results of the races," she told us.

"We didn't do anything out of the ordinary to complete the count in that race any earlier than the others," said Cathy Glaser, Supervisor of Campaign Services in the San Diego County Registrar's office. "We haven't certified it yet."

"We're not going to certify until June 30th or so. There's still provisional ballots and things like that outstanding," confirmed Barbara Walther, Supervisor Clerk of Candidate Filings in the SD County Registrar's office. Referring to the reports so far showing Bilbray leading his Democratic opponent Francine Busby, Walther said, "These are not official results I can tell you that."

So why then would the Republicans rush to hold a swearing-in ceremony before the cameras and media, and before counts were even completed, and before California state's mandatory 1% random audit of ballots has even begun?

And why would AP report the swearing-in as if it was based on official results? Apparently the standards for verifying information are somewhat lower for the AP than they are for bloggers. At least for this blogger.

As The BRAD BLOG has been reporting --- nearly exclusively for the last week since Tuesday's special run-off election contest --- the unofficial results of the race itself are without verifiable evidence given that Diebold voting machines are hackable via dozens a methods, by the company's own admission. In light of the county's admissions that Diebold machines (both optical-scan and touch-screen) were sent home with poll workers in the days and weeks prior to the election, in apparent defiance of mandates both from the California Secretary of State and the National Association of State Election Directors (NASED), why would anybody in the media report information that is plainy unverified and uncorroborated?

Last week we reported that AP had reported early results of the race, charging that Bilbray had "narrowly beat" his opponent Busby in what they described as a "Bellweather House Race." We challenged AP at the time to prove their assertion, since it simply cannot be done given the fact that the security of the voting systems was breached by sending machines home unsecured by poll workers. Thus, all tabulations as reported by the Diebold optical scanners --- which are highly unsecure and easily tampered with --- must therefore be considered as contaminated.

We spoke moments ago with Mikel Haas, the SD County Registrar of Voters and asked if he considered storage in people's cars or garages --- as poll workers have told us they did in fact do with these machines --- would be considered secure.

"No," he said, "we would advise them not to do that."

When we read that quote back to him later in the conversation to confirm, he wished to modify the thought, explaining that storage of poll machines in people's cars "may be secure...but it's not the most secure."

He also confirmed that both Diebold touch-screen (DRE) and optical-scan systems were sent home with poll workers in the days and weeks prior to the election.

We'll have more on the security issues, and apparent violations of both state and federal requirements for certification of these machines, in an upcoming report which will show that San Diego used machines that failed to meet certification requirements in last Tuesday's race.

A staffer at AP who answered the phone in their DC bureau, but refused to speak on the record, has said they would check out the story and issue a correction if it is merited.

The conventional wisdom, however, has already been established --- even as of election night --- that the Republican Bilbray defeated the Democrat Busby. In case there was any doubt, a swearing-in ceremony has now been held and --- as covered by AP and others --- has now been reported around the world as if any of it were actually legitimate.

All of which harkens back to the Bush/Gore 2000 Presidential Election when, amongst other things argued by the Bush team to the Supreme Court, it was argued that their candidate, George W. Bush, would be irreparably harmed if a recount in Florida showed that he didn't actually win. That, since the media had already reported the "winner" --- unconfirmed and wrong [PDF] as it eventually turned out to be --- as George W. Bush.

America's fictional democracy lives on...San Diego's Union-Tribune, reported the swearing-in ceremony today this way:

Tuesday, after he swore he would uphold the U.S. Constitution, after House Speaker Dennis Hastert of Illinois said "congratulations," and after applause burst out around him, the 55-year-old Bilbray gave a quick, firm nod of his head, as if to say: "It's done."

Done, indeed.

CORRECTION: The story above was originally headlined "Republicans Rush to Stage Phony Bilbray Swearing in Ceremony! AP, Hosts of Other Media Report it as Real!" --- In fact, it now seems that only the photo-op carried by AP was a "mock ceremony" but that indeed, Bilbray was sworn in officially and gave his first speech on the floor of the House today. That, despite the fact, as the story accurately reported, the counting of votes has not yet concluded in the CA-50th race, and has not been certified by either California State or San Diego County officials. We have edited the story above to reflect the updated information.

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