JUST IN: Protest hearing to be streamed LIVE Thursday @ 3pm ET...
By Brad Friedman on 6/16/2010, 7:54pm PT  

First, some very good news just in: The hearing for the protest to the results of last week's SC Democratic U.S. Senate primary will be streamed live on Thursday at 3pm ET via Live.VicRawl.com.

The protest will be heard by the Executive Board of the South Carolina Democratic Party to consider Judge Vic Rawl's protest to last week's bizarre election.

Second, I'm happy to say that I have finally been able to make contact with the campaign of former state legislator and Circuit Court Judge Vic Rawl. I had a somewhat lengthy conversation earlier today with his campaign manager Walter Ludwig, and continue to be happy to report that it seems they have a very good grasp of the issues at stake --- in relation to the horrific ES&S e-voting system --- in their challenge to the 100% unverifiable election of Alvin Greene in SC's recent Democratic U.S. Senate primary race.

As I noted last night, in discussing Rawl's interview yesterday on Fox, given the sharp learning curve for those unfamiliar with the complex issues involved with e-voting and Election Integrity, they've done an excellent job of getting up to speed, at least inasmuch as possible in the short time they've been forced to become "experts" on the topic.

That, of course, is just another pitfall of using insanely complicated rocket science instead of common sense and eyeballs to add one plus one plus one in our current electoral system. Most candidates with questions about their election results simply can't afford the resources and computer scientists and time needed for the forensic investigation of these systems --- that's if they're even allowed access to the often proprietary trade-secret hardware and software --- following an election and prior to the date by which they must file and argue a legal challenge. That, as opposed to simply examining paper ballots and chain of custody procedures, as would be the case with sane, paper ballot elections.

Ludwig seems to understand just how bad the voting system is that voters were forced to use in SC's recent election, the same system used in dozens of other states despite The BRAD BLOG's best efforts over the past six years to warn of the dangers.

"These machines are incredibly frail and subject to manipulation. They don't work very well." In short, Ludwig told me, "They're crap."...

'Arti-factual' Results

The case he'll present tomorrow to the state Democratic Party's executive committee does not include evidence of direct manipulation, but rather, a three-pronged case combining the known problems and historical failures of the ES&S iVotronic system, in combination with the statistical and political improbabilities that Greene, an unemployed, unknown candidate who did no campaigning whatsoever, could have legitimately received some 60% of the total vote.

"The results appear to be artificial, or 'arti-factual', as some people might say. As we've done our analysis, it just doesn't hold up," said Ludwig.

Speaking to the oft-cited fallacy being forwarded in the media that both candidates were equally unknown entities, who each did little or no campaigning, Ludwig re-iterated what Rawl has been saying in his recent media appearances. "There is an inherent presumption that these were equivalent campaigns. We campaigned, the other guy just simply didn't."

Rawl has said he'd raised hundreds of thousands of dollars during the campaign, appeared at some 80 campaign events all across the state since March 1st, and had hundreds of campaign volunteers. By way of contrast, Greene didn't have a campaign website, had no volunteers, no campaign literature, and doesn't even own a computer or a cell phone.

I pointed Ludwig to a number of academic findings in regard to the state's Direct Recording Electronic (DRE, usually touch-screen) voting systems which he hadn't yet known of, and discussed my concerns about the sensitive memory cards used in those systems for both programming the ballot and recording votes.

As manipulation of the memory cards are one of the direct ways to potentially manipulate the machines, I've been very troubled by reports received by the campaign that some pollworkers were said to have been repeatedly accessing and swapping out memory cards throughout Election Day. Ludwig says that the cards have yet to be examined or quarantined. I strongly advised, as I have since first reporting this story, that someone get a court order for that immediately.

[UPDATE: Daniel Tencer at RAW STORY reports late tonight that the ACLU has sent a letter [PDF] to the SC State Election Commission requesting the preservation of "the flash cards (memory chips) inside their touch-screen voting machines used in the June 8, 2010, primary election". I'm not sure they've got the wording precisely right there. Both the memory/programming cartridges and the computer's internal memory chips and/or hard drives need to be retained. But close enough. We'll see if the Commission complies --- or if it's too late. A court order is what is needed here. And quickly.]

A (Very) Brief History of Recent ES&S Failure [Link to this section]

The history of failure in e-voting is a long one, but it's littered with failures, specifically, by the ES&S voting system, that company being the nation's currently-largest election vendor. Ludwig said the campaign was familiar with some of their documented failures, but not all.

So in the public interest of the Rawl campaign, South Carolina voters, and voters across the country, I thought it might be useful to offer a mercifully brief and wholly incomplete round-up of just some of the most recent ES&S voting system failures that The BRAD BLOG has helped to document over the years, in advance of tomorrow's 3pm ET hearing in Columbia. (In no particular order)...

Faulkner County, AR - Though the ES&S iVotronics were said have "worked to perfection" during testing and early voting, a number of election outcomes in the 2008 local primaries had to be reversed after it was discovered the internal numbers didn't match with the systems "paper trails". The County Election Commissioner said the failure "should not have been possible".

Sarasota County, FL - The 2006 special election for U.S. House between Vern Buchanan (R) and Christine Jennings (D) was ultimately decided by just 369 votes after an extraordinary undervote rate resulted in the disappearance of some 18,000 votes on ES&S iVotronics in Sarasota. (See our special coverage category here.) Speculative cause for the missing votes were attributed to bad ballot design on the touch-screens, leading some voters to not notice the race. But that explanation failed to account for the hundreds of complaints filed on Election Day that voters were unable to vote for Jennings even after trying again and again to have the touch-screen register a vote for her. The Rawl campaign has suggested they have heard similar accounts from voters in SC. Scientific investigations by both FSU and the GAO were both, ultimately, inconclusive.

Monroe County, AR - Thousands of votes are reported on Election Night, and then promptly disappear after the May 18th U.S. Senate primary election. Neither state nor local officials have yet been able to explain what happened or why.

Clay County, KY - Six high-ranking election officials --- including the County Clerk, a Circuit Court Judge and the School Superintendent --- are found guilty of federal election fraud after it was found that they'd been buying and selling votes for decades. Most recently, in 2006, they had drafted conspirators change their registration from R to D in order to work at the polls and change the votes of voters on ES&S iVotronic touch-screens after each voter had finished voting.

Pottawatomie County, IA - The results of a number of races in the 2006 GOP Republican primary are overturned after a hand-count is ordered when the County Clerk noticed a young college student that nobody had heard of, had defeated a long-time incumbent in one of the races. (Sound familiar?) The hand-count revealed that a number of those who thought they'd lost, had actually won. Unlike most of the other problems listed here, this race was conducted on ES&S' paper ballot system, but was said to have been caused by misprogramming of the tabulators. (On a related note, please see Bev Harris of BlackBoxVoting.org's analysis of what she believes may have happened in SC.)

Los Angeles County, CA - In the statewide 2008 primary, on an ES&S InkaVote Plus (an electronic ballot marking device, as opposed to a touch-screen system), the system misprinted 4 of the 12 votes I'd cast. The cause was attributed to a poll worker having punched in the wrong ID number into the system when setting up my ballot. Once again, however, in the 2010 primary, on the same machines at the same precinct, I was given the incorrect ballot, twice, by two different machines and ended up voting manually on paper, instead of having all of my selections misprinted.

Carroll County, AR - During the recent May 18th "Super-ish Tuesday" election, a candidate for County Clerk filed a complaint after a local Circuit Court Judge gave an affidavit detailing his own attempt to vote for the candidate had resulted in the ES&S iVotronic touch-screen flipping the vote to his opponent. One of the Judge's employees --- who had voted at a different location, at a different time --- reported the same problem.

Palo Pinto County, TX - Reports of touch-screen vote-flipping on the ES&S iVotronic machines during early voting in the 2008 Presidential election.

Berkeley County, WV - Man reports touch-screen vote flips 5 times on the ES&S iVotronic machine during early voting in the 2008 Presidential Election.

Jackson and Putnam Counties, WV - Residents in both counties report touch-screen vote-flipping on the ES&S iVotronics during early voting in the 2008 Presidential Election. As reports persisted, a filmmaker captures, on video, a vote-flipping on the screen during Jackson County Clerk's demonstration of how "calibrating" the touch-screen solves the problem. In this case, as seen in the video, it didn't.

Davidson County, TN - Election Integrity filmmaker Patricia Earnhardt reports trouble getting the ES&S iVotronic to register her vote, despite repeated tries during early voting in the 2008 Presidential Election. A pollworker called over to help tries to choose for her, only to see a different candidate get selected on the touch-screen.

Clay County, AR - It's discovered that pre-election tests were not performed and, therefore, machine totals on the ES&S iVotronics were not "zeroed out" before voting began on Election Day in the 2008 general election.

White County, AR - A virtual ES&S meltdown occurred during local primary elections in 2008. Errors included "5,360 votes, or 86 percent above the number of votes cast"; ballot misprogramming; names left off the ballot entirely; and complete malfunction of the absentee paper-ballot op-scan reader.

Cleburne County, AR - During a 2006 run-off election, a mayoral candidate in Heber Springs went to the County Clerk's office to investigate reports from family members of vote-flipping on ES&S iVotronic machines. After the Clerk told him that such flipping was not possible, they were both able to watch it happen before their eyes twenty times in a row!

Orlando, FL; Benton County, AR; Poinsette County, AR - Various 2006 ES&S iVotronic messes, including more votes than citizens in several areas of Benton County, enormous undervote rates across several counties in FL and, one of our favorites, in Poinsette County, AR, a candidate for mayor in the small town of Waldenburg receives ZERO votes, despite both he and his wife (at the very least) having attempted to vote for him!

There are, of course, many more such cases in 2008, 2006 and earlier. But that oughta hold you for now. Good luck tomorrow, Judge Rawl! Thank you for standing up for democracy!

Watch the protest hearing right here LIVE on Thursday at 3pm ET/Noon PT.

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Previously related at The BRAD BLOG:

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