Monday, February 28, 2005

The vote you cast may not be tallied

1 out of 100 shown uncounted in 2004

Vicki Haddock, Insight Staff Writer
Sunday, February 27, 2005

You read the newspapers, watch the candidates' debates, mull the issues with friends, and then you do your democratic duty:

You vote.

Or you think you vote.

Perhaps your ballot gets jammed in an overstuffed machine, or is accidentally shipped to a warehouse, or gets miscounted due to human or computer error. Maybe it is spit out because of a dangling chad or a stray dot of ink, or because your signature is loopier than when you registered. Ballots even get tossed into the trash -- it has happened.

Chances are you'll never even know you were disenfranchised.

This reality is part of the rationale behind legislation proposed by Democratic Sens. Barbara Boxer of California, Hillary Clinton of New York and John Kerry of Massachusetts to require dozens of reforms including required random recounts and a paper trail on electronic voting. The legislation has a wonderfully idealistic name: the Count Every Vote Act.

Such a goal is rather akin to a lifetime batting average of 1.000 -- worth striving for, but impossible to attain.

Although it is a deeply held American principle that every vote counts, research has found that 1 out of every 100 ballots cast in the 2004 election for president weren't counted.

In most elections, the uncounted votes are insignificant: the margin of error is smaller than the margin of victory.

But some recent elections have been infinitesimally close. Statistics has a name for such outcomes: ties. Nobody will ever know who really won because a recount is no more scientific than a coin flip.

Yet inevitably, someone must win. The loser is left to complain about voting irregularities, suggest the election was stolen, perhaps even take it to court.

This month, the GOP in Washington state is trying to persuade a judge to undo the inauguration of a Democratic governor who won on a second recount by a margin of just 129 votes. And many Democrats nationwide still begrudge George W. Bush -- who in 2000 won Florida's electoral votes and thus the presidency by a margin of 0.0009 percent -- with bumper stickers proclaiming "Hail to the Thief."

We in San Francisco can be thankful we've been spared a too-close-to-call election, given the troubled history of the city registrar's office. Among past snafus: Ballots were belatedly discovered stuck in a machine, misfiled in a warehouse, and soaked and spread in a microwave to dry -- not to mention the seriocomic tale of ballot box lids washing up all over San Francisco Bay. (Voters were assured that the boxes contained no actual ballots.)

Voters were less fortunate in the November election in San Diego, where 5, 547 residents had their votes for mayor discarded because, although they wrote in the name of candidate Donna Frye, they failed to fill in the bubble next to her name. Had all of those votes been counted, she would have won by a 3,400- vote margin. Instead, Mayor Dick Murphy has settled in for another term, and Frye's supporters went to court contending -- unsuccessfully -- that a technicality was thwarting the will of the people.

For years, researchers with the Cal Tech/MIT Voting Technology Project have studied what happens to votes that seemingly disappear. They've found vast differences among different techniques of voting. They have concluded, for example, that punch cards produced uncounted presidential votes nearly twice as often as alternatives such as optically scanned paper ballots and ATM- like electronic machines. They've also noted that some of those uncounted votes can be attributed to voters who deliberately opted not to vote for any candidate for president.

In an analysis released earlier this month, these researchers concluded that the presidential election of 2004, in which 1 in 91 votes didn't count, was run "much better" than the 2000 election, in which 1 in 53 ballots didn't count.

"In a close election, no level of accuracy is quite enough, is it, short of perfection?" asks Kirk Wolter, a University of Chicago statistics professor who supervised the team hired by the media to review Florida ballots after the Bush-Gore fiasco of 2000. "There are huge potential error rates, and the reason we've lived with it so long is because very few people knew about it, and elections weren't that close. ... Now we know better."

Even though the 2004 presidential contest was not as close as 2000, skeptics were able to cite instances of voting irregularities and ask the ominous "What if?" More than 70 percent of voters in Ohio used the same punch- card system that wreaked such havoc in Florida in 2000.

Democrats complained about problems such as ridiculously long waits to vote in minority precincts -- up to 10 hours -- while Republicans could cite irregularities of their own, including the Toledo man charged with a felony for allegedly submitting 100 phony registrations for would-be voters such as "Mary Poppins" and "Dick Tracy" -- in exchange for cocaine.

But for a marathon photo finish: Republican Dino Rossi won the Washington governor's race on the first count and a machine recount -- the latter by just 42 votes, or 0.00001 percent of the total. Then Seattle Democrats found 732 absentee ballots omitted because election workers had made errors, such as failing to verify voters' signatures -- mistakes that came to light after King County Council Chairman Larry Phillips discovered his own vote hadn't counted. A second recount, this one by hand, concluded with Democrat Christine Gregoire eking out victory.

Republican Rossi watched his rival's swearing-in ceremony on television at his Rossi Revote Headquarters, saying, "Most people believe that Washington does not have a legitimately elected governor."

The federal government appropriated money via its Help America Vote Act to pay for election reforms, including phasing out punch cards. The National Commission on Election Reform has recommended that states reduce their error rates below 2 percent no matter what mechanism they use.

But a headlong rush toward electronic machines hit the skids after computer experts raised faith-shaking concerns that systems without paper trails could be corrupted by a dishonest election official or even an outside hacker.

Elections expert Henry Brady, professor of political science and public policy at UC Berkeley, advocates "mall testing" new systems among regular folks. Although he says vote counts are improving, progress is "excruciatingly slow, and we're still not where we should be."

But nothing can guarantee a fool-proof national election -- one that requires billions and billions of transactions.

"I think we have thousands of state and county election workers who are doing a great job, but at the end of the day, the system they have to work with defeats them," said self-described elections geek Doug Chapin, director of the nonpartisan clearinghouse electionline.org. "A close-up view of any election reveals it for what it is: part idealism, part realism and part duct tape and chewing gum."

Sunday, February 27, 2005

New Criminal Complaint Filed in Licking County, Ohio

Election Fraud by Licking County Officials Exposed in Criminal Complaint Filed by Paul D. Harmon

Ray Beckerman

We have learned that Paul D. Harmon, an independent candidate for Domestic Relations Court Judge in Licking County, Ohio, filed a criminal complaint against Licking County election officials on February 18th.

The complaint, based on events in a Licking County race in which there were more "no votes" than votes cast for any candidate, accuses the officials of fraud involving "votomatic" punch card votes, of perjury, of destroying evidence, tampering with records, thwarting the administration of the recount laws, destruction of the secrecy of, and tampering with, absentee ballots, and other similar misconduct.

Mr. Harmon, a Newark, Ohio, attorney, and native of Granville, Ohio, lost by 200 votes. Of the 78,000 votes cast, the Republican candidate received 14,300, and Mr. Harmon 14,100. 18,000 votes were never counted.

During and after the ensuing mandatory recount, Licking County officials illegally refused to permit recount witnesses to view the uncounted ballots, or to inspect the machines, and on more than one occasion misrepresented the number of voting machines that had been used.
They have also admitted that blank ballots were stored in unsecured facilites.

It has also been learned that, although in one or more Democratic precincts voters were subjected to waits of 4 hours or more in order to vote, 50 unused voting machines had been kept 'in reserve' by the Republican director and deputy director of the Licking County Board of elections.

It is anticipated that an independent prosecutor will be appointed to investigate the complaint.
As we obtain more details of the Licking County incidents, documents, and court proceedings, this post will be updated and expanded.

Friday, February 25, 2005

Kerry/Edwards File More Ohio Election Motions

By WilliamPitt,

Kerry-Edwards 2004 has just made two filings in the Ohio recount case currently pending before Federal Judge Edmund Sargus in Columbus, Ohio.

Kerry-Edwards 2004 has been relatively quiet in this case for the past several weeks and its filings today indicate its continued interest and involvement in this litigation.

In December 2004, presidential candidates David Cobb and Michael Badnarik filed extensive documentation with the court demonstrating that the recount they had requested in Ohio of the 2004 presidential vote had been conducted with inconsistent standards throughout the state, in violation of the equal protection and due process guarantees under the US Constitution (see Bush v. Gore).

Cobb and Badnarik filed amended counterclaims seeking a new recount to be conducted with uniform standards, in accordance with the US Constitution. (As an example, 97% of the ballots have yet to be counted by hand in Ohio and, more than often, the 3% of the vote that each county counted by hand was not randomly selected, as required by Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell's own guidelines) To access the amended counterclaims, see this document (Adobe required).

In addition, in December, Cobb and Badnarik filed a motion to preserve all ballots and machinery connected to the 2004 presidential election and to take limited expedited discovery to investigate the Triad voting machine company's tampering with the recount. To access the memorandum in support of this motion, see this document (Adobe required).

The amended counterclaims and these motions are pending before Judge Sargus.

On February 11, 2005, Cobb and Badnarik filed a motion for a hearing before Judge Sargus on these pending matters.

On February 14, Judge Sargus issued an order granting the motion to dismiss the Delaware County Board of Elections' complaint (which had sought to prevent the recount in that county) and asking for briefing in 15 days on the question of whether the case should be transferred to Judge Carr in Toledo (for the Northern District of Ohio) where a prior case seeking to expedite the recount had been filed in November 2004.

Yesterday, Cobb and Badnarik filed a statement on the transfer question.

Today, Kerry-Edwards filed a document in support of that statement. Most significant, Kerry-Edwards also filed today a separate document in support of the motion for hearing with two critical attachments: 1) a declaration from Kerry-Edwards attorney Don McTigue regarding a survey he conducted of Kerry-Edwards county recount coordinators; 2) a summary chart of the results of that survey (which highlight the inconsistent standards applied during the recount).

The five documents filed by Kerry/Edwards are here, here, here, here, and here. Adobe is required for all of them.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Tubbs-Jones outlines Count Every Vote Act

Exclusive: Congresswoman who challenged Ohio votes explains ‘Count Every Vote Act’

By Matthew Cardinale RAW STORY Contributor

In an exclusive interview with RAW STORY, the House Democrat who signed the challenge to Ohio’s electoral votes spoke passionately about her new Count Every Vote Act, a bill aimed at enhancing federal election standards to address problems which arose in recent elections.

The bill, said Rep. Stephanie Tubbs-Jones (D-OH), seeks to ensure guidelines regarding provisional ballots and paper records for electronic voting. It would also create a federal voting holiday and allow ex-felons to vote.

Tubbs-Jones, a former judge, relished the opportunity to flesh out the bill, saying Tuesday that the mainstream press had focused largely on specific provisions.

“I was on a radio show recently and the guy kept wanting to focus on the provision to make Election Day a national holiday,” Rep. Tubbs-Jones said.

The 65-page Senate version of the bill was introduced by Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) on behalf of Sens. Boxer (D-CA), Kerry (D-MA), Lautenberg (D-NJ), and Milkulski (D-MD). Comparable legislation was introduced by Tubbs-Jones (D-OH) in the House.

The bill would mandate certain aspects of how states run federal elections. It would require a voter-verified paper trail for electronic voting, create uniform standards for provisional ballots, and make Election Day a national holiday.

In addition, Count Every Vote would allow ex-felons to vote in federal elections, make electronic voting source codes available for government record, and prevent Secretaries of State from participating in partisan campaign activities.

The bill also includes federal funding provisions to assist states’ compliance.

Common Cause, a progressive advocacy group, said they appreciated the fact the bill addressed myriad issues.

“While there are other specific single bills already out there, like the paper trail for electronic voting bill, this bill is meant to set the Gold Standard for fixing these problems,” Common Cause Vice President of Policy and Research Ed Davis said.

“The federal government has passed very few mandates regarding voting,” Davis added. “Even if they are specific to federal elections, it typically pushes states to follow them too, because it doesn’t make much sense for states to hold two separate elections.”

Paper Trail

Rep. Tubbs-Jones asserts that a paper trail for electronic voting is essential.

“Computers are by no means flawless,” the congresswoman told RAW STORY. “When we had our hearings in Ohio, we had a technical expert who said it could be rigged.”

“I’m more concerned that there are more problems than actually came to light,” she added.

Tubbs-Jones’s Chief of Staff, Patrice Willoughby, clarified the need for a paper trail.

“Electronic machines have the capacity to print the vote as it is taking place, but they haven’t been calibrated to do so in many cases, so there’s no way to audit,” Willoughby said, adding there also is no law currently requiring such a record to be maintained. “It’s like when you’re doing accounting and you want to compare your receipts from each transaction with your whole tally. There’s no way to compare the individual votes with the tallying at the end of the day.”

“The integrity of the system is the most important thing, and we have to make sure that the system is transparent in order to ensure that integrity,” said Willoughby.

Common Cause’s Davis said Count Every Vote would solve the problem, allowing for an audit to verify the vote tally was accurate.

“As a voter, you would be able to print out from the machine a voter-verifiable ballot,” Davis said. “You could verify it. It would stay on record but would not include your name or have any information to identify you from the paper record.”

“If you talk to most computer science people, they will tell you software is complex, inevitably there are errors, and there are ways to write malicious coding into the software,” Davis continued. “The other thing, for anyone who uses computers, they’re not perfect, they crash, they break down, and they lose information.”

In the 2004 election, for example, one Ohio precinct’s “technical glitch” caused almost 4,000 extra votes to be recorded, most of which had been assigned to President Bush. In other states where computer voting was used, voters complained that the screen would switch to “Bush” even when they had selected “Kerry.”

“Also in North Carolina, a machine stopped counting votes at a certain point and about 4,000 votes were lost,” Davis added. “People voted, but the votes were just lost.”

Ex-Felon Voting

Rep. Tubbs-Jones also explained why she felt ex-felons deserved to be able to vote.

“Part of the bill is to allow ex-felons to vote because we want to give them an opportunity to become part of society again,” Tubbs-Jones said. “Once they serve their time, they ought to be part our society again. The trend has been that a disproportionate number of African Americans are in the criminal justice system for drug offenses and are coming out at a large rate. I don’t know how ex-felons are going to vote [in terms of party preference], but they should be able to vote.

“They want a job,” she continued. “They want a family. They want full participation in the process. They do want to vote, especially when many of them are aware that the situation they’re in has to do with policies and who’s in office.

“We brandish freedom and democracy around the world; why not here?” she asked.

Provisional Ballots

Count Every Vote also provides guidelines for creating a uniform process of handling provisional ballots.

“In Ohio in 2004, our Secretary of State [Kenneth Blackwell] issued different rules in the Primary Election and the General Election regarding provisional ballots,” Congresswoman Tubbs-Jones said. “What he did was within the law–but the point is, he made it so restrictive. Currently states’ laws on provisional ballots are so different.”

“Provisional ballots are really a backup,” added Ed Davis of Common Cause. “The problem is not usually with voters, but with voter lists. There are duplicate names, or sometimes states purge the names of people who should be registered.

“Different states purge voters for a variety of reasons; some states do it because a person didn’t vote in the last two years,” Davis continued.

“Also, sometimes officials will tell voters to go to the wrong polling place… Then on Election Day, there’s no time to direct people to the right precinct, that is, if polling places even have that information,” he added. “If you show up at the wrong precinct in some states, they won’t count your ballot. You shouldn’t be prevented from voting for President for any reason.”

Davis says Democrats will need to win over Republicans to get the legislation passed.

In the overall elections policy landscape this year, Davis explained, “Republicans are more concerned with voter fraud, and Democrats think it should be easier for people to vote,” and that voter fraud is not as a widespread problem as voting barriers and disenfranchisement.

“Republicans have tried to avoid this issue because to admit that something needs to be fixed is like admitting something was wrong with the 2004 election,” Davis added.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Tackling Election Reform

New York Times

After a second consecutive presidential election marred by significant flaws in the mechanics of voting, it's time for Congress to take a hard look at fixing the system. Two Senate bills aim to do that. A Republican-sponsored bill is narrowly tailored around making electronic voting more reliable. A more ambitious bill, sponsored by the Democrats, would take on a broad array of problems, from long lines at the polls to odious maneuvers aimed at keeping people from voting. Both bills would greatly improve the functioning of American democracy.

The Republican bill, introduced by Senator John Ensign of Nevada, would focus on the most critical weakness in the system by requiring that electronic voting machines produce voter-verifiable paper records of the votes cast. The paper records would take precedence when there were inconsistencies.

Mr. Ensign's bill does not go as far as another paper-trail bill that has been introduced in the House by Representative Rush Holt, a New Jersey Democrat. That bill is preferable because it includes other safeguards, like requiring an audit of some paper records as a spot-check for the electronic totals. Still, Mr. Ensign's bill would be a good step, and its Republican sponsorship and narrow focus could give it real momentum in this Congress.

The Democratic Senate bill, introduced last week by Senators Hillary Clinton, Barbara Boxer, John Kerry and Frank Lautenberg, is now the gold standard for election reform. It would require not only paper records, but recounts in 2 percent of all polling places or precincts, and restrictions on political activity by voting machine manufacturers.

The bill would also take on lines at the polls - which stretched up to 10 hours this year - by requiring standards for the minimum number of voting machines per precinct. It would limit the states' ability to throw out voter registration forms and provisional ballots on technicalities, and prevent them from using onerous identification requirements to turn away eligible voters. And it would strike a blow against vote suppression by outlawing the use of deception - like fliers giving the wrong date for a election - to keep people from voting.

Some important big-picture reforms would also be made by that Democratic Senate bill. It would make Election Day a holiday, freeing up people to vote and serve as poll workers, and it would require states to allow early voting. It would bar chief election officials, including secretaries of state, from engaging in partisan politics. And it would require states to restore the vote to felons who have paid their debts to society; many of them are now barred from voting.

Election reform should not be a partisan issue. No member of Congress should be satisfied with a system in which voters are forced to wait in line for hours or to vote on unreliable machines. Americans from across the political spectrum were moved to see Iraqi voters going to the polls last month. Congress should take that idealism and direct it toward making our own election system the best it can be.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Blackwell presidential election sanctions briefs

by Various individuals

February 22, 2005

The following documents are supporting documents in the Blackwell presidential election sanctions case in Ohio. For more information about the sanctions, read the following articles.

http://www.freepress.org/departments/display/19/2005/1138, http://www.freepress.org/departments/display/19/2005/1102, and see other articles in the Election 2004 department.

Briefs

MEMORANDUM OF UNITED STATES REPRESENTATIVE JOHN CONYERS, JR. AS AMICUS CURIAE IN OPPOSITION TO MOTION OF SECRETARY OF STATE BLACKWELL FOR SANCTIONS PURSUANT TO CIV. R. 11 AND S. CT. PRAC. R. XIV, §5

MEMORANDUM OF UNITED STATES REPRESENTATIVE JOHN CONYERS, JR. AS AMICUS CURIAE IN OPPOSITION TO MOTION OF SECRETARY OF STATE BLACKWELL AND OHIO’S TWENTY PRESIDENTIAL ELECTORS FOR SANCTIONS PURSUANT TO CIV. R 11 AND S. CT. PRAC. R. XIV, §5

MEMORANDUM OF UNITED STATES REPRESENTATIVE JOHN CONYERS, JR. AS AMICUS CURIAE IN OPPOSITION TO MOTION OF SECRETARY OF STATE BLACKWELL AND OHIO’S TWENTY PRESIDENTIAL ELECTORS FOR SANCTIONS PURSUANT TO CIV. R. 11 AND S. CT. PRAC. R. XIV, §5

MOTION ON BEHALF OF PROPOSED AMICI CURIAE FOR LEAVE TO JOIN AS AMICI CURIAE IN THE MEMORANDUM OF UNITED STATES REPRESENTATIVE JOHN CONYERS, JR., AS AMICUS CURIAE IN OPPOSITION TO MOTION OF SECRETARY OF STATE BLACKWELL AND OHIO’S TWENTY ELECTORS FOR SANCTIONS PURSUANT TO CIV. R. 11 AND S. CT. PRAC. R. XIV, §5

Monday, February 21, 2005

Invisible Ballots

Governments are installing computerized voting systems with no paper record to verify accuracy. Elections will be controlled by companies that do not allow voters to inspect their software. If vote counting becomes privatized, there may be no way to get it back. Hightech vote fraud is already a reality. If you value your vote, you must get this information to your friends – and fast!

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Who Got Glitched

An Election Reform Teach-In

Saturday, February 19, 2005

An Easy Solution

The Vote Integrity Method

Friday, February 18, 2005

Senators Clinton and Boxer, Representative Tubbs Jones and Others to Unveil Major Election Reform Bill

Legislation Would Enact Sweeping Reforms by Next Major Election Cycle in 2006

WASHINGTON, DC— U.S. Senators Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) and Barbara Boxer (D-CA) today unveiled comprehensive voting reform legislation to make sure that every American is able to vote and every vote is counted. Senators Clinton and Boxer announced the legislation today in a press conference joined by Representative Stephanie Tubbs Jones (D-OH), who will sponsor the legislation in the House of Representatives, and voting rights advocates.

"Voting is the most precious right of every citizen, and we have a moral obligation to ensure the integrity of our voting process," said Senator Clinton. "The smooth functioning of our democracy depends on voters having faith in the fairness and accuracy of our voting system, and the Count Every Vote Act is an important step toward restoring this covenant. We must be able to easily and accurately count every vote so that every vote counts."

Added Senator Boxer: "Every citizen of this country should be guaranteed that their vote matters, that their vote is counted, and that in the voting booth, their vote has a much weight as that of any CEO, any member of Congress, or any President. Our democracy is the centerpiece of who we are as a nation, and we must take action to ensure that the American people have full confidence in our electoral system."

"I am pleased to join with Senators Clinton and Boxer in introducing companion legislation in the House as we continue our efforts to ensure that every American is afforded their Constitutional right to vote," said Representative Tubbs Jones. "This legislation seeks to combat the tremendous voting irregularities that plagued both the 2000 and 2004 elections. If in fact we see it is our obligation to secure democracy around the world, to monitor and oversee free and fair elections in other countries, most recently in Iraq, then we must ensure, protect and guarantee the right to vote right here at home."

The Count Every Vote Act of 2005 will provide a voter verified paper ballot for every vote cast in electronic voting machines and ensures access to voter verification for all citizens, including language minority voters, illiterate voters and voters with disabilities. The bill mandates that this ballot be the official ballot for purposes of a recount. The bill sets a uniform standard for provisional ballots so that every qualified voter will know their votes are treated equally, and requires the Federal Election Assistance Commission to issue standards that ensure uniform access to voting machines and trained election personnel in every community. The bill also improves security measures for electronic voting machines.

To encourage more citizens to exercise their right to vote, the Count Every Vote Act designates Election Day a federal holiday and requires early voting in each state. The bill also enacts "no-excuse" absentee balloting, enacts fair and uniform voter registration and identification, and requires states to allow citizens to register to vote on Election Day. It also requires the Election Assistance Commission to work with states to reduce wait times for voters at polling places. In addition, the legislation restores voting rights for felons who have repaid their debt to society.

The Count Every Vote Act also includes measures to protect voters from deceptive practices and conflicts of interest that harm voter trust in the integrity of the system. In particular, the bill restricts the ability of chief state election officials as well as owners and senior managers of voting machine manufacturers to engage in certain kinds of political activity. The bill also makes it a federal crime to commit deceptive practices, such as sending flyers into minority neighborhoods telling voters the wrong voting date, and makes these practices a felony punishable by up to a year of imprisonment.

Today, representatives from civil rights organizations and voting rights advocates praised the legislation, including People For the American Way, Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under the Law, NAACP, Common Cause, the National Voting Rights Institute, DEMOS and the National Asian Pacific American Legal Consortium. The leaders emphasized the urgent need for the bill.

"Every American citizen should be able to cast a vote that counts, and it should not be difficult," said Ralph G. Neas, President of People For the American Way, one of the founding members of the Election Protection coalition. "This bill provides practical, secure accessible solutions at the ballot box for Americans with disabilities, those who speak languages other than English, and other Americans who face hurdles in exercising their voting rights. It's a great bill."

"The Count Every Vote Act will go a long way toward restoring dignity to our nation's electoral system and will provide citizens across the nation with an opportunity to effectively participate in democratic decision-making," said Barbara R. Arnwine, Executive Director of the Lawyers' Committee.

Senators Clinton and Boxer first introduced election reform legislation in the 108th Congress, together with former Senator Bob Graham. In the meantime, another election cycle showed evidence of problems in the Federal election system, including long wait times to vote, erroneous purging of voters, voter suppression and intimidation and unequal access to the voting process. The Count Every Vote Act requires that all provisions be in place for the next major election cycle in 2006.

"We cannot let another Election Day go by without doing everything we can to make sure that voters have confidence in our voting system and exercise their right to vote," underscored Senator Clinton. "This shouldn't be a Republican or Democratic issue. This is a voter issue, plain and simple. I call upon my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to work with us to implement these common sense measures."

Senators Clinton and Boxer and Representative Tubbs Jones will work in the 109th Congress to keep attention to this issue and urge action.

Sen. Clinton Pushes for Voting Holiday

Friday February 18, 2005 6:01 AM

By DEVLIN BARRETT

WASHINGTON (AP) - Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, a possible White House candidate in 2008, joined 2004 nominee John Kerry and other Democrats Thursday in urging that Election Day be made a federal holiday to encourage voting.

She also pushed for legislation that would allow all ex-felons to vote.

Standing with Massachusetts Sen. Kerry and other Democrats who had alleged voting irregularities in the 2004 contest, Clinton said, "Once again we had a federal election that demonstrates we have a long way to go.''

"I think it's also necessary to make sure our elections meet the highest national standards,'' said the New York senator.

She and Kerry, both considered contenders for the 2008 nomination, were joined by Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones, D-Ohio, and Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., who forced a highly unusual House and Senate debate Jan. 6 on the presidential election results.

Kerry, who lost the national contest by 3.3 million votes nationwide, and 118,000 within Ohio, denied the bill was an attempt to discredit the 2004 results.

"This has nothing to do with me,'' said Kerry. "It is not partisan, or shouldn't be.''

Clinton echoed those comments, though her senatorial re-election committee, Friends of Hillary, is pushing the bill hard.

Visitors to the group's Web site are greeted first with a full-page form asking people to endorse the Count Every Vote Act.

"My Web site has information about everything I work on. This is federal holiday for voting, the bill would:

-Require paper receipts for votes.

-Authorize $500 million to help states make the changes in voting systems and equipment.

-Allow ex-felons to vote. Currently an estimated 4.7 million Americans are barred from voting because of their criminal records.

-Require adoption of the changes in time for the 2006 election.

Boxer said the bill "is meant to ensure the election debacle of 2000, and the serious election irregularities of 2004, never ever happen again.''

Both parties have called for changes to ensure a more accurate vote count. Republican efforts have centered on reducing voter fraud, while Democrats have called for making access to the ballot box easier and simpler.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Rep. John Conyers Jr. Launches Blog

Check out John Conyers' blog. A great way to stay up to date with one of the greatest patriots of our time.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

CONYERS AND OTHERS FILE AMICUS BRIEF IN OHIO SUPREME COURT

February 14, 2005

Today, Congressman John Conyers, Jr., Ranking Member of the House Judiciary Committee, will be filing an amicus brief in the Ohio Supreme Court with the support of Senator Russ Feingold and 17 other members of the House of Representatives recommending that the Court not sanction the attorneys who brought Ohio election contest in Moss v. Bush (no.04-2088). Mr. Conyers offered the following statement:

"The attorneys in this case had reason to believe that the election results did not reflect the will of the electorate. In good faith, they brought a case based not only on statistical probability but the depositions and affidavits of computer experts, statisticians, and election volunteers. In only a couple months, these attorneys have amassed over 900 pages of evidence. "While we take no opinion on the underlying case, we firmly support the right of citizens to challenge elections results in court when they have a good faith basis to do so. Truly, Secretary

Blackwell's attempt to sanction these attorneys is meant to send a message to anyone who dare challenge his questionable election administration. For our democracy to work properly, we can't allow this sort of intimidation by state officials."

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

States fall behind on voting-system improvements

Repairs to the nation's voting system, already long overdue, are likely to remain uncompleted by the 2006 congressional elections, top state election officials warn.

A Letter from the Cobb Voting Rights Group

Dear Friends,

Thank you for your support. The response to our call for contributions and volunteers to make the Ohio Recount a reality was amazing. We have been humbled by this outpouring of support and feel privileged to have stood up on behalf of the people of this country and the democratic process we cherish.

On January 7, the day after Congress debated the historic challenge to Ohio's tainted Electoral College votes, the New York Times wrote: "In many ways, the debate came about because of the relentless efforts of a small group of third-party activists, liberal lawyers, Internet muckrakers, and civil rights groups..."

A week after the election, after thousands of reports of irregularities, intimidation and stories of voters standing four-six-eight hours in the rain, we decided to demand a recount of the Ohio vote and asked Michael Badnarik of the Libertarian Party to join us. Within ten days of making our announcement, we received over 6,000 individual donations from voters around the country who feel, as we do, that the integrity of our democracy is at stake. By the time the recount began, over 3,400 volunteers had offered to help witness the recount.

Genuine democracy takes the hard work of ordinary citizens doing extraordinary things.We sent our recount request and filing fee to all of Ohio's 88 counties on November 18th. We then filed in federal court asking that the process be expedited because it was clear that Ohio's Republican Secretary of State, J. Kenneth Blackwell, planned to delay certifying the statewide vote totals until the last possible moment - December 6th - the day before the Ohio Electors were certified. We went to court again on December 3rd, this time defending ourselves from a suit filed against us by Delaware County, who didn't want to do the recount. On December 10th, we went back to federal court asking for judicial intervention because we were alarmed at the widely varying standards being proposed for the recount by the County Boards of Elections.

In each case, the court made it clear that while we had a right to a recount, the court would not grant emergency relief since our campaign would not suffer "irreparable harm" as we were unlikely to gain any electors.

The Ohio Recount began on December 13 at 7am. Almost all the County Boards of Elections did not follow Ohio law and did not randomly select the precincts to be hand counted. Other problems included a lack of security for the ballots and voting machines and the refusal of some counties to do a full hand recount when required by law to do so.

In some places, witnesses were threatened with expulsion if they asked questions and were told to stand up to twenty feet away from where the recount was taking place. In far too few places, our volunteers were treated with the respect they deserved. On December 30th, we filed an amended complaint in federal court, demanding that the recount of Ohio's presidential vote be done again, this time in conformance with state and federal law.

The recount was frustrating, exhausting - and inspiring. At every step, the established power structure was against us. But We The People, all of us who worked together to make the recount and the challenge to Ohio's electors, were there to stand up for our right to vote and for the right for those votes to be counted. We trained two thousand volunteers to serve as legal witnesses for the recount. You can read preliminary reports from these witnesses and our County Coordinators at www.votecobb.org/recount/ohio reports/.

Although we still have many more reports to sift through and post to our site, we already know that the recount re-enfranchised thousands of voters. In Coshocton County alone, one thousand and eighty new votes were counted because of our recount demand.
Together, we are building a loud and joyous movement for democracy.

The Green Party is committed to genuine grassroots democracy. Remember that the founders of this country denied many people—including women and people of color—the right to vote. Our democracy is constantly evolving. In order to create an accountable and transparent democratic process worthy of our country and people, we need many electoral reforms. We need an end to partisan administration of elections. We need voter verifiable paper trails and meaningful recounts. We need Election Day Registration (EDR), already in use in six states, so that every eligible citizen who shows up on Election Day can register and vote.

Our current, undemocratic voting system often forces people to vote for a candidate they don't really support in order to keep an even worse candidate out of office. Instant Runoff Voting (IRV) is a simple solution that allows people to vote their conscience and rank candidates in their order of preference. IRV guarantees that the winner has the support of a majority of voters. IRV also eliminates the "spoiler" dynamic in elections.

We urgently need publicly funded elections to eliminate the influence of private money in our democracy and allow ordinary citizens to run for - and win - public office. We need to change restrictive ballot access laws which deny voters choice. We need to abolish the anachronistic Electoral College. We need a constitutional right to vote, something provided for in the interim constitutions of Iraq and Afghanistan but not in the U.S. Constitution. Over four million Americans are not allowed to vote because of felony disenfranchisement laws that strip voting rights from citizens with criminal records, many of whom have fully completed their sentences.

It is not enough to ensure that every vote is counted; we want every vote to count towards the result. We need a multi-party democracy with proportional representation, where candidates and parties are elected in proportion to the level of support received at the polls. An entire Voters Bill of Rights needs to be enacted (www.codepinkalert.org/National Actions Voter Bill of Rights.shtml).

The second generation of the voting rights movement, committed to these critical electoral reforms, is a growing, vibrant force.

The Green Party will continue the important work of building genuine democracy. We are poised and ready to work in cooperation and collaboration with individuals and parties across the political spectrum. If you have not already done so, please take a moment to visit www.gp.org to learn more about the Green Party. If you're in Ohio, you can find the Ohio Green Party at www.ohiogreens.org. And please continue to visit our web site, www.votecobb.org. which is a valuable resource for information on electoral reform and the New Voting Rights Movement.

Together, we are making progress towards a more just, peaceful, sustainable and democratic world. In solidarity,

David Cobb
2004 Green Party presidential candidate

Lynne Serpe
Ohio Recount Manager

PS. Your input is essential for continuing to create genuine democracy. Please contribute your time and talents and donate to your state Green Party, the national Green Party or to your favorite voting rights organization. A list of voting rights organizations can be found at www. votecobb.org/resources/sites/.

Thank you!

Monday, February 14, 2005

The Honest Elections Clause of the Constitutition

How to Re-Establish Legitimacy of the American Electoral Process

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Election 2004 Master List

Did your vote count? You have a right to know. Checkout this amazing compilation of facts.

Saturday, February 12, 2005

Rep. Tubbs Jones Outraged at Blackwell's Behavior

Congresswoman Tubbs Jones Outraged at Blackwell's Failure to Appear During House Administration Hearing

by Office of Rep. Tubbs Jones
February 12, 2005

Washington, D.C. – Today, Congresswoman Stephanie Tubbs Jones spoke before the House Administration Committee during their hearing on the Implementation of the Help America Vote Act following the 2004 election.

"I am thoroughly disappointed that the Secretary of State from my home state of Ohio, Ken Blackwell, chose not to testify today before the House Administration Committee," stated Rep. Tubbs Jones. "Just as he created tremendous confusion among voters in Cuyahoga County and across the state of Ohio during this past election by issuing bizarre directives and playing partisan politics, his failure to testify before this committee today shows that he is not committed to improving our election system. "

I would have thought that he would have seen this hearing as an opportunity to further examine the problems that occurred during this past election and work to develop a plan of action for addressing them. The Secretaries of State from key battleground States such as Iowa, New Mexico and Indiana felt it important enough to attend this hearing today. Ken Blackwell owed it the people of Ohio and of this country to be at this hearing today. They deserve the truth!"

Congresswoman Tubbs Jones recently introduced legislation with Rep. John Conyers in introducing the Voting Opportunity and Technology Enhancement Rights Act, or the VOTER Act of 2005 which seeks to combat the tremendous voting irregularities that plagued both the 2000 and 2004 elections.

Friday, February 11, 2005

Blackwell Order Ruled Illegal By OH Judges, But Too Late

83 of 88 Counties Strong-Armed Toward Diebold and ES&S By Now-Voided Edict

By ADVOCATE STAFF

It's official: the arbitrary (February 9th) deadline set by J. Kenneth Blackwell for Ohio counties to choose new voting systems has been ruled illegal by not one, but two Ohio judges.

[See The Advocate's prior coverage of this story here].

Blackwell's spokesman, Carlo LoParo, thumbed his nose at the judges, telling the press that 83 of Ohio's 88 counties had already -- due to pressure from Blackwell -- been forced to choose between the Secretary of State's two preferred voting systems, one from Republican-connected equipment manufacturer Diebold, Inc., and the other from...

...Republican-connected equipment manufacturer ES&S.

[Article].

LoParo had previously told the Ohio press corps, in a thinly-veiled threat directed at county Boards of Election, that Blackwell's order "carries the weight of law, and he expects that to be complied with." [Article].

Blackwell's now-voided administrative decree left companies with no publicly-acknowledged Republican ties too little time to bring their machines into compliance with the Help America Vote Act, or HAVA.

It appears, therefore, that the vast majority of Ohio voters in 2006 and 2008 will vote on Diebold and ES&S voting machines. Indeed, only five counties in the state still have the option of using machines by companies with no ties to the national Republican Party.

Had Blackwell not violated Ohio law by forcing the state's counties to choose new systems by February 9th, these other voting machine manufacturers would have had until the end of this year to become HAVA-compliant -- proving, once again, that Blackwell reaps enormous political and strategic benefits every time he violates state law.

And that he has never been held to account for his actions.

Yet.

Take note, kids -- this is how adults display their "moral values" to the next generation.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

No shows from Florida and Ohio disappoint committee

From the AP: No-Shows Annoy Group Probing 2004 Election. Also covered: Voting Committee Examines 2004 Election.

Starting on a sour note, lawmakers holding the first congressional review of the 2004 vote were upset by the absence of top election officials from Ohio and Florida, states with many balloting complaints.

The chairman of the House Administration Committee said he would hold hearings away from Washington and continue to seek testimony from Ohio's secretary of state, Kenneth Blackwell, and Florida's Glenda Hood.

"I am disappointed that they are not here," said Rep. Bob Ney, R-Ohio. "We can have disagreements, but you can't run and you can't hide."

Also this from the Nashua Advocate: Vanity Fair's Christopher Hitchens, a Bush Supporter, Calls for Ohio Investigation: "There Is Something Wrong About the Ohio Election"

Whichever way you shake it, or hold it up to the light, there is something wrong about the Ohio election that refuses to add up. The sheer number of irregularities compelled a formal recount, which was completed in late December and which came out much the same as the original one, with 176 fewer votes for George Bush. But this was a meaningless exercise in reassurance, since there is simply no means of checking, for example, how many "vote hops" the computerized machines might have performed unnoticed....there is one soothing explanation that I don't trust anymore. It was said, often in reply to charges of vote tampering, that it would have had to be "a conspiracy so immense" as to involve a dangerously large number of people. Indeed, some Ohio Democrats themselves laughed off some of the charges, saying that they too would have had to be part of the plan. The stakes are very high: one defector or turncoat with hard evidence could send the principals to jail forever and permanently discredit the party that had engaged in fraud.

I had the chance to spend quality time with someone who came to me well recommended, who did not believe that fraud had yet actually been demonstrated, whose background was in the manufacture of the machines, and who wanted to be anonymous. It certainly could be done, she said, and only a very, very few people, would have to be "in on it."

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

FBI checking Clermont, Ohio voting

Congressman claims tampering

By Reid Forgrave
Enquirer staff writer

BATAVIA - The Federal Bureau of Investigation is interviewing members of the Clermont County Board of Elections because of a Democratic Congressman's claim of vote-tampering during the presidential election.

The allegations stem from white oval-shaped stickers, about the size of an M&M, placed on fewer than 100 ballots.

Poll workers used them on Election Day to correct mistaken votes and determine intent on the optical scan ballots. Some voters, for example, marked their vote, but also etched a small mark in the space for another candidate, which threw off the machines.

Michael Brooks, a spokesman with the FBI's office in Cincinnati, confirmed Tuesday that the agency is conducting preliminary interviews with Clermont elections officials. The bureau hasn't yet decided to open a formal investigation.

The FBI is responding to a letter from Rep. John Conyers Jr., D-Mich., requesting an investigation "of vote-tampering if not outright fraud" based on recount observers' statements.

Clermont Republicans, as well as the elections board director, dismissed the allegations as a ploy by some Democrats to "muddy the waters" of President Bush's victory in Ohio - where a 118,599-vote victory over Sen. John Kerry sealed Bush's second term.

"It's a farce," said Tim Rudd, chair of the Clermont County Republican Party and member of the bipartisan elections board. "I don't know what they're trying to do here. What we did see (during the state-mandated recount) was a couple of white ovals used to correct ballots for the voters' intent. What they didn't see was 50,000 adhesive ovals on these ballots."

Critics admit the alleged discrepancy wouldn't affect the outcome, but they say every vote count is a matter of principle.

"I don't think anyone would be foolish enough to say the election was stolen," said Bob Drake, a University of Cincinnati professor and Green Party recount observer. "It has nothing to do with the outcome of the election. We simply want the count to be accurate.

Board of Elections Director Dan Bare said elections are never perfect. He denied that there was any election fraud and said he welcomed the FBI scrutiny of the counting process, which includes one Republican and one Democrat through every step.

Cobb and Badnarik File Memorandum of Law in Recount Case

DATE FOR HEARING IN NEW OHIO RECOUNT CASE CAN NOW BE SET

Ohio Election Fraud

Green Party presidential candidate David Cobb's pending request to have the flawed recount of Ohio's presidential vote be done again, this time in conformance with state and federal law, moved a step closer to judicial resolution with the filing last week of the final necessary documents before the matter can be heard by a federal judge.

Attorneys acting on behalf of Cobb and Libertarian presidential candidate Michael Badnarik, filed a legal Memorandum on February 3, countering the "remarkable assertion" of Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell that he is not a proper party to the recount litigation and that the lawsuit filed by the presidential candidates should be dismissed.

"Mr. Blackwell and Ohio Attorney General Jim Petro are doing their utmost to keep the public and the proper authorities from finding out what went wrong with Ohio's presidential election and the bungled recount which followed it. Collectively, they have refused to testify before members of Congress and they have sought sanctions against attorneys prosecuting legitimate election claims. It is not at all surprising that they are claiming a federal court has no jurisdiction in the oversight of a federal election. It's not surprising, it's simply ridiculous," said Blair Bobier, Media Director for the Cobb-LaMarche 2004 Green Party presidential campaign.

The matter is pending in the Eastern Division of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio, before Judge Edmund Sargus.

Whether the Ohio election and subsequent recount were conducted fairly and with uniform standards has become a national issue since Cobb and Badnarik first demanded the Ohio recount back in November. The recount set the stage for investigations conducted by Representative John Conyers of Michigan, rallies featuring the Reverend Jesse Jackson, and the historic challenge to Ohio's Electoral College votes on January 6, before a joint session of Congress. The issue has galvanized activists all across the country and has resulted in Congressional legislation, a well-attended national conference and the emergence of a New Voting Rights Movement.

Problems with the recount included a lack of security for the ballots and voting machines-including allegations of interference with voting machines by representatives of the Diebold and Triad corporations-and the refusal of some counties to do a full hand recount when Ohio law required them to do so. One of the most significant problems with the recount was that few of Ohio's 88 counties randomly selected sample precincts for the recount as is required by state law.

Additional information about the recount and the New Voting Rights Movement can be found at http://www.votecobb.org. The website for the national Green Party is http://www.gp.org.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

You Shameless Hypocrites

Breaking News: Take That, Wisconsin G.O.P. -- New Hampshire Voter Suppression Case Leads to Convictions and Incarceration for G.O.P. Conspirators

also

GOP Consultant Sentenced in Phone Jamming

Monday, February 07, 2005

Put it on my bill, please

Battle of the Bills: G.O.P. Election Reform Bill Now Before Senate Considered By Progressive Activists to Be Better Than Democratic One; Sun Explodes

By ADVOCATE STAFF

Here at The Advocate, we call it like we see it -- and what we see as we look out on the election reform movement today is two competing and mutually exclusive election reform bills in the U.S. Senate. And we prefer the Republican one. Sponsored by Senator John Ensign (R-NV), the Voting Integrity and Verification Act of 2005 (VIVA) would accomplish four vital objectives, and do so in time for the 2006 general election (text taken from the official report of The National Ballot Integrity Project):

1. "Voters [will] be able to verify the accuracy of their ballot 'in a private and independent manner' by allowing the voter to review an individual paper version of the 'voter's ballot' before the 'voter's ballot' is cast and counted;
2. "All electronic records produced by any voting system will be consistent with the paper records";
3. "In the event of any inconsistencies or irregularities between any electronic records and paper records, the voter-verified paper record is considered the true and correct record of the votes cast";
4. "The paper ballots [will] be used as the official record for the purpose of any recount or audit conducted with respect to any election for Federal Office."

The text of VIVA 2005 (which would serve as a retroactive amendment to the 2002 Help America Vote Act, or HAVA) can be found here.

In contrast to VIVA, a competing bill recently introduced by Senator Dodd, a Connecticut Democrat, would allow for other forms of audit besides paper, would not take effect until 2009, and would only impact machines purchased in 2009 or after.

This is unacceptable.

The primary features of the Dodd legislation include (again credit here to The National Ballot Integrity Project, see link above):

1. "Mandates a list of verification options that must be offered to each voter: a paper record, an audio record, pictorial record, electronic record or any other means of verification which is equal or superior to verification through the use of a paper record";
2. "Takes effect on January 1, 2009,";
3. "[Does not apply] to any voting system purchased before that date [January 1, 2009]";
4. "[Could] interfer[e] with state-level voter-verified paper ballot bills that have already been passed into law by a number of states";
5. "[Could] further restrict[] the range of HAVA-compliant choices from which states can choose to meet their voting system needs [and lead to] more paperless DREs."

The text of the Dodd Bill (also known as "S.17" or the "Voting Opportunity and Technology Enhancement Rights Act of 2005 [VOTER]," and also technically treated as a HAVA amendment) can be found [in .pdf format] here.

We at The Advocate must note here that VOTER 2005 does have numerous strong suits, and these features should and must be part of any pending or future election reform legislation.

Among these features are the following:

1. a standardized federal absentee ballot which can be used by anyone, regardless of whether they have an "excuse" for not voting in person (these ballots would only have to be postmarked by Election Day, but could arrive at their destination as many as ten days later; spelling errors or other technical mistakes would not invalidate the ballot; the ballot would be accessible for download from the internet; this provision would take effect on January 1, 2007);
2. provisional ballots would be counted, regardless of where they were cast within a state, if the voter who cast the ballot was eligible to vote (this provision would take effect on January 1, 2007)
3. there must be "uniform and nondiscriminatory geographic distribution" of voting systems across voting precincts based on a pre-approved algorithm to be adopted by the Election Assistance Commission (this provision would take effect on January 1, 2007);
4. same-day registration will be allowed in all states where federal offices are at stake (this provision would take effect on January 1, 2007);
5. "Not later than 45 days before any Federal election, each State shall provide public notice of all names which have been removed from the voter registration list of such State" (this provision would take effect on January 1, 2007);
6. regarding so-called "early voting," VOTER says "each State shall allow individuals to vote in an election for Federal office not less than 15 days prior to the day scheduled for such election in the same manner as voting is allowed on such day" (with uniform hours each day and at least four hours of open polls each day; and non-discriminatory placement of voting machines, as above; this provision would take effect on January 1, 2007);
7. internet voter registration would be allowed, and all other forms of voter registration would be made easier;
8. studies pending into whether Election Day should be a national holiday would be greatly accelerated;
9. rules regarding the regulation of a federal election could not be changed less than 15 days before a general election; and
10. "voting rights and civil rights organizations" and "nonpartisan domestic observers and international observers" would have equal access to polling places as compared to that access allowed for "party challengers."

Let us be clear -- VOTER is a great bill in many respects.

Unfortunately, its most important provisions either take effect too late, affect too few voting systems, or conflict with the efforts now being made by election reform advocates to move toward a paper audit -- not audio, not pictorial, not electronic -- for all ballots cast in the United States.

The Advocate urges the passing of VIVA and the immediate redirecting of the provisions of VOTER itemized in the numbered list above to a new election reform bill.

Like VIVA, that's a bill we would support.

Sunday, February 06, 2005

“SHUT UP!,” THEY EXPLAIN

By Ernest Partridge
Co-Editor, "The Crisis Papers."
February 1, 2005

Have you noticed?

Those of us who suspect that the election was stolen (a.k.a. “conspiracy nuts”), have presented an impressive array of evidence – statistical, anecdotal and circumstantial – to support our claims. In response to this we have been provided scant rebuttal evidence.

Instead, we have been ridiculed, vilified, and, most damaging of all, ignored. If our concerns are warranted, then the manipulation of the past election (and perhaps the elections of 2000 and 2002 as well) is arguably the most important news event since the founding of our republic, for a fraudulent national election strikes at the very heart of our democracy. If we the people of the United States are no longer able to remove the government through the ballot box, we are no longer ruled “with the consent of the governed.” Government of, by, and for the people is finished.

Furthermore, “the press” (which we now call “the media”) is no longer our defense against tyranny, for it now serves the government.

To be sure, the conventional view that George Bush and the Republicans won the election “fair and square,” is not without a few defenses. But, as I attempted to demonstrate in my previous essay (“Has the Case for Election Fraud been Refuted”), these arguments do not stand up to close inspection. And what, for the most part, is the response when the skeptics confront the media and the “winners” with their questions and their evidence, and demand an explanation?

“Shut Up!,” they explain.

In this essay, I will take a different approach to the issue of electoral integrity. Rather than continue with accusations and evidence, both new and re-iterated, I will pose a series of questions – questions which, for the most part, have been ignored by the media and by the beneficiaries of the past election, the Bush Administration and the Republican Party.

It is far better that we ask questions about the integrity of our elections than make accusations. Accusations soon become tedious and wear out their welcome. But questions put our adversaries on the defensive – which is where they most assuredly belong.

These are questions about the last three elections that must not be allowed to fade away. Not unless and until they are plausibly answered. And if they are not plausibly answered, then decisive action by the American citizens is very much in order. These questions have not been answered, and there is little evidence so far that they ever will be.

“Shut Up!” “Get over it!” “Let’s move on!” Are not answers.

Now to the questions:

Can the GOP provide proof that the paperless voting machines and the compiling computers (manufactured and coded by Republicans) provided accurate tallies of the voting? Could they do so if they wanted to? If not, why not?

Clearly the Republicans can provide no such proof directly, because the machines were deliberately designed not to provide such proof – there are no paper records, and the source code (software) is secret. Thus, in response to the demand for validation, the manufacturers have only one possible response: “Trust us!”

Of course, voting results could be audited and validated if it were required by law. In fact, validation is required in the state of Nevada, and thus, in that state at least, e-voting machines produce paper records of each vote.

Even without paper records, indirect methods of validation can be devised. For example, a sampling of e-voting machines could be selected at random during election day, “pulled” from the precincts, and checked for input/output consistency. Another method would be a random selection of polling precincts where voters would be asked to vote first with e-voting machines and then again with paper ballots. (Only one vote per voter would officially count, of course). If the machines were “fixed,” this would show up in a comparison of the totals. (For more detail, see my blog of October 30, 2004). With both of these cases, of course, the selection of test machines must be totally random and performed during election day. No such validation procedures were performed anywhere during the November 2, election.

Absent paper records and election day verification procedures, there remain statistical analyses. As I have argued elsewhere (here, here, and here), these studies indicate compelling evidence of fraud. Predictably, they have been almost totally ignored by the mainstream media.

Why won’t the e-voting machines provide auditable paper records?

I’ve heard two answers to this question, both laughably inadequate: (a) paper records would be prohibitively expensive, and (b) paper records would be impossibly impractical. Both excuses have been decisively refuted by perfectly affordable and practical use of paper validation in the state of Nevada. In addition, Diebold Corp., one of the two largest manufacturers of e-voting machines, also makes ATM machines and the credit card mechanisms on gasoline pumps. Both, of course, produce paper records. So why not also for e-voting machines?

A few months ago, I happened to see on CSPAN a hearing by the Federal Election Commission on the e-voting machines. When asked if paper records would be feasible, one witness produced a printout that was several feet long, and proclaimed that such a printout would be required for every vote. This of course was a damnable lie, clearly exposed, once again, by the employment of paper validation in Nevada. That “demonstration” before the Commission can only be interpreted as evidence of the desperation of those who doggedly oppose (for whatever covert reasons) the use of paper records of e-voting.

Why won’t the Diebold and ES&S corporations publish their source codes?

The standard answer is these codes are the private (“proprietary”) property of the corporations, and thus must be kept secret to protect that property. Kinda like Col. Sanders' recipe for Kentucky Fried Chicken.

But there are patent and copyright laws to protect “intellectual property.” Moreover, most of the “property” protected by copyright, namely musical and literary works, are by their very nature, public entities – i.e., not “secret.” So if songs and novels and essays and movies can all be protected by copyrights, why not the source codes for e-voting and vote compiling machines? The insistence by the voting code writers that these codes most nonetheless be kept secret, can only lead one to wonder: “just what are they trying to hide?”

If Diebold, ES&S, etc. have, as they contend, nothing to hide, why do they continue to compromise their reputations by refusing to release the codes for public inspection?

The computerized compiling of regional (e.g., statewide) returns provides another opportunity for election fraud. Is it possible to ensure the accuracy of the compiling process and to defeat attempts to "rig" these totals through computer hacking? If so, are such verification methods in use? If not, then why not?

It is, in fact, possible to ensure the accuracy of compiled election returns. One strategy would be to utilize two independent parallel compiling methods and teams. If the resulting totals are identical, there is very little chance of fraud. If there is a significant disparity in the results, then a recount by yet another method should be initiated automatically. I am not aware that such validation procedures were operating in the last elections. So, to summarize the answers to this three-part question: Yes, it is possible to check and ensure the accuracy of statewide compilations. No, it appears that these verification methods are not in use. The third part -- "if not, why not?" -- is for the defenders of the present system to answer.

Our remaining questions stand alone, and require no commentary.

Congressman Rush Holt (D. NJ) and Senator Hillary Clinton (D. NY) both introduced bills that would require paper records of votes cast on e-voting machines. Both bills were killed in the House and Senate committees by the Republican leadership in both houses. Why are the Congressional Republicans opposed to paper validation of e-voting machines?

Why will the Edison Media Research and Mitofsky International not release the raw exit polling data from the Ohio election? What reasons do they give for the alleged “error” in the early Ohio exit polls?

Why were exit polls in uncontested states and states with auditable returns extremely accurate, while the exit polls in the “battleground states” were not?

Why did almost all the exit poll “errors” throughout the US favor Bush, while the very few exceptions were all within the margin of error?

What are the odds of this happening, purely “by chance?” Qualified statisticians (e.g. Dr. Steven Freeman, Jonathan Simon, and Dr. Ron Baiman) have calculated these odds to be “statistically impossible.” Why are these statistical analyses not scrupulously rebutted, but instead are ridiculed or else simply ignored?

Without question, many laws were broken (especially in Ohio), specifically the federal “Voting Rights Act.” In Nevada and Oregon, Democratic registration forms were trashed, and so noted by competent witnesses. Why are there no indictments?

In the 2000 election, Republican staff members from Washington were flown down to Miami, where they disrupted and shut down an official government activity – the recounting of ballots. Why were there no indictments?

Do all the above questions add up to “reasonable doubt” that the election of 2004 was fair, and that subsequent elections will be fair? Is this a degree of “reasonable doubt” that might lead a grand jury to indict?

If, as the accusers contend, the party in control of the unauditable machines and the secret software can not be voted out of office, can that government in any sense be said to possess “the consent of the governed”, and can the US government be said to be a democracy?

Can we therefore afford not to investigate these accusations and thus to continue to use voting machinery that is not secure and verifiable? Can we, in short, allow ourselves to “just get over it”?

When such questions as these arise, why should the burden of proof be placed on the skeptics? Don’t we, as citizens, have the right to expect that the elections are fair, and that our government will establish rigorous and public safeguards to secure that right? (See my “Do We Still Have a Democracy?)

Why have the above questions rarely been raised and investigated in the mainstream media?

And finally:

Suppose you wanted to set up a fraudulent voting system that would assure victory for your party and yet con the public into believing the system was fair and accurate. How could you improve upon the e-voting system in place – with its secret software and its unauditable and unverifiable “output,” combined with a totally incurious mass media?

These questions must be asked, repeatedly and relentlessly, until they are either plausibly answered or, more likely, the public finally comes to realize and appreciate that there are no acceptable answers to these questions. For it is becoming ever-more apparent that the authentic though hidden and unspoken answers to these questions must lead to the inescapable conclusion that our national elections are farces and frauds, and that we the people have thus lost the capacity to replace our government through the ballot box. If this is the case, that government, put simply, no longer rules with "the consent of the governed."

We must therefore demand the return of fair and verifiable elections and with that realization, the restoration of government of, by and for the people. And we must devoutly hope that this can be accomplished peacefully. For as John F. Kennedy warned: "Those who make peaceful revolution impossible, will make violent revolution inevitable."

Copyright 2005, by Ernest Partridge

Saturday, February 05, 2005

America's Illegitimate Election 2004 Video

Never forget what happened on November 2nd, 2004... Here's a video to help...We've updated the short video compiled by a few Velvet Revolutionaries from Democratic Underground. It is our hope that this video may serve as the definitive record of what happened in American during the 2004 Presidential Election. It documents -- in a few short minutes -- how your American right to a free, fair and transparent electoral system has been taken from you by the cynical and un-democratic powers-that-be. This sort of thing should never happen in the world's most important democracy. And yet -- again in 2004 -- it did. Enough is enough. It's time for the people to take both our country and our democracy back. If you still have any questions about that, please take a look at this video.

Friday, February 04, 2005

Rep. Conyers Introduces Voting Rights Act

CONYERS INTRODUCES THE “VOTING OPPORTUNITY AND
TECHNOLOGY ENHANCEMENT RIGHTS ACT”

February 2, 2005

Congressman John Conyers, Jr., Ranking Member of the House Judiciary Committee, issued the following statement upon introduction of the “Voting Opportunity and Technology Enhancement Rights Act,” or the “VOTER Act of 2005":

“We have just experienced the second consecutive presidential election where issues were raised concerning irregularities and improprieties. For example, in Ohio we learned of the misallocation of voting machines, which led to lines of ten hours or more and disenfranchised scores, if not hundreds of thousands, of predominantly minority voters. We also learned of numerous incidents of voter intimidation, as well as the dissemination of misleading information. Members on both sides of the aisle acknowledge that further reforms are needed to ensure that all of our citizens' rights to vote are protected.

As a result, the VOTER Act will provide for a uniform Federal write-in/absentee ballot;require states to provide for a verifiable audit trail; ensure that provisional ballots cast anywhere in a state are counted; eliminate disparities in the allocation of voting machines and poll workers among a state's precincts; mandate early voting and election day registration procedures; protect against improper purging of legistration lists in federal elections; provide for a study regarding making election day a public holiday; ease voter registration requirements; allow voter identification by written affidavit; study eliminating partisan election officials from administering federal elections; enhance training for election officials; require the use of publicly available open source software in voting machines; provide uniform standards for vote recounts; prohibit voting machine companies from engaging in political activities; and enhance legal protections against voter intimidation and threats.

The legislation is supported by the NAACP, the NAACP Voter Fund, the Progressive Democrats of America, the UAW, the Black Leadership Forum, Rainbow Push, and the National Voting Rights Institute. The legislation is the House counterpart to S. 17, legislation introduced in the Senate by Senator Chris Dodd on behalf of the Senate Democratic Leadership.

It is imperative that we have elections that count every vote of every eligible voter. A provisional ballot cast anywhere in the State of Ohio should count just as it does in the State of Iowa. There is no reason that voters in inner city areas should be forced to wait in long lines,while their counterparts in the suburbs are able to vote immediately. If voters in Oregon can vote early, why can't voters in Michigan; if citizens of Idaho enjoy same day registration, why can't voters in Florida; and if voters in Wisconsin can have their elections administered by nonpartisan boards, why can't the rest of us?

If there is any issue that is central to our democracy, it is ensuring that eligible voters are able to participate in our elections. Enacting the VOTER Act of 2005 will help ensure that we restore trust in our election system.”

Rep. Conyers Requests CRS Investigation into Voting Irregularities

CONYERS AND OTHER MEMBERS REQUEST CONGRESSIONAL RESEARCH SERVICE INVESTIGATION INTO VOTING IRREGULARITIES

February 2, 2005

Congressman John Conyers, Jr., and twenty two other Members, sent the following letter to Daniel Mullhollan, Director of the Congressional Research Service, requesting a 50 state survey of all reported voting irregularities from the past election:

Dear Mr. Mullhollan:

We are writing to ask that the Congressional Research Service, (CRS) prepare a 50 state survey of irregularities reported by the media (including internet based media) and compiled by public interest groups, non-profits and academics in the most recent election. We believe that such a study will be a vital resource to Congress as we turn from the controversies of the most recent election to the complex issue of voting reform.

Though our principal focus is on irregularities relating to the presidential election, we are also interested in learning of significant irregularities concerning other elected offices as well. We would ask that you review media reports involving irregularities and controversies in the pre-election day period (e.g, concerning registration, purging, determination of election day rules); election day (e.g., machine glitches, machine shortages, voter intimidation, ballot confusion, lack of handicapped accessible machinery, and voter misinformation); and post-election (e.g., counting provisional ballots, recount irregularities, litigation).

We are not asking that you characterize these irregularities. Rather we simply want your staff to complete the research, access the results, and divide by state and by incident. Where possible it would be helpful if you could note how the incident or irregularity was resolved. For example, was an improper purging cured? Was the cause of a machine glitch ascertained? Was the person responsible for disseminating false information pursued, is a case pending?

We are happy to work with you to develop the most efficacious means of narrowing this request, completing the research, determining the pertinent time periods to review and categories to analyze. We would note that the General Accounting Office is also reviewing the most recent election, however their review is far more narrowly focused on a small number of systemic issues. They are not atempting to survey the complete landscape of irregularities as we are requesting of CRS.

We are also willing to work with you in developing an agreeable time line for completing this important survey, although we are hopeful that it can be completed in the next several months, so that it may be as helpful as possible to the Congress as we work on voting reform.

Sincerely,

John Conyers, Barbara Lee, Chris Van Hollen, Jim McDermott, Donald Payne, Dennis Kucinich, Barney Frank, Maxine Waters, Lynn Woolsey, Anthony Weiner, Sam Farr, Major Owens, Chaka Fattah, Bill Clay, Elijah Cummings, Robert Scott, Zoe Lofgren, Melvin Watt, Corrine Brown, Jesse Jackson, Jr., Sheila Jackson- Lee, Stephanie Tubbs Jones

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Dems to Investigate Ohio Election

Democrats will investigate Ohio vote National party to spend up to $500K
By Carl WeiserEnquirer Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON - The national Democratic Party will spend up to $500,000 to investigate voting problems that critics say might have occurred last year in the battleground state of Ohio, the party's leader said Tuesday.

"I want them to open up the machines," outgoing Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe told Gannett News Service and USA Today reporters. "If there's nothing wrong with the machines, we ought to be able to go in and take a look at them."

Since November's presidential election, a small but vocal chorus of liberal activists has complained that the vote in Ohio was miscounted - either through conspiracy or errors - and the wrong man elected president. Had Ohio's 20 electoral votes gone to Sen. John Kerry, he would be president today.

McAuliffe and other Democrats have acknowledged that Bush won the election. "The election wasn't stolen," McAuliffe declared.

But he said the DNC's investigation was a bow to "blogworld," referring to activists who write Web logs about politics and continue to talk about a stolen election. There's even a Web site, www.bushstole04.com, largely about the Ohio vote.

McAuliffe said he has assembled a team of about 20 experts in law, statistics and computer analysis. They'll crunch numbers, file freedom of information requests and talk with election officials.

"This is a classic problem with the Democratic Party. Rather than focus on improving their team's performance, they obsess over the officiating," said Ohio Republican chairman Bob Bennett.

Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell said through a spokesman that Ohio's votes have already been counted three times - on Election Night, the official canvass and an official recount.

Ohio Attorney Sanctions Backfires

Ohio Attorney-General's attack on election protection attorneys draws mountain of documentation on state's stolen election, including new study on exit polls

by Steve Rosenfeld and Harvey Wasserman
February 3, 2005

Stiff legal sanctions sought by Ohio's Republican Attorney General James Petro against four attorneys who have questioned the results of the 2004 presidential balloting here has produced an unintended consequence -- a massive counter-filing that has put on the official record a mountain of contentions by those who argue that election was stolen.

In filings that include well over 1,000 pages of critical documentation, attorneys Robert Fitrakis, Susan Truitt, Peter Peckarsky and Cliff Arnebeck have counter-attacked. Their defense motions include renewed assertions that widespread irregularities threw the true outcome of the November vote count into serious doubt. That assertion has now been lent important backing by a major academic study on the exit polls that showed John Kerry winning the November vote count.

Petro's suit is widely viewed as an attempt at revenge and intimidation against the grassroots movement that led to the first Congressional challenge to a state's Electoral College delegation since 1876. The attorney general's action was officially requested by Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell, who administered the Ohio presidential balloting while serving as co-chair of the state's Bush-Cheney campaign. Petro and Blackwell have labeled as "frivolous" the election challenge filing. Their demand for sanctions will be reviewed by the Republican justice of the Ohio Supreme Court.

Though Petro's filing was aimed at backing down further challenges to the Ohio vote, it has allowed the election protection attorneys to enter into the official archives critical documentation detailing dozens of problems with Ohio's presidential balloting. Among the documents now made part of Ohio's legal archives is a congressional investigation report from Rep. John Conyers that seriously questions the November 2 outcome.

The two now-infamous lawsuits in question, Moss v. Bush and Moss v. Moyer, argued that irregularities involving enough votes to switch the state's electors from Bush to Kerry, and from Supreme Court justice Tom Moyer to challenger Ellen Connally, gave the public the right to file suit. Underlying much of the challenge have been wide ranging questions about whether Blackwell administered the election in a partisan manner.

Blackwell refused to testify in the case, and he has removed from public access critical documents relating to the vote count.

Under Ohio law, an original action to contest election allows only deposition testimony. It was impossible during the ten days of discovery to take the depositions of tens of thousands of disenfranchised voters, the majority African-American. But, as a result of Petro’s sanctions motion, the attorneys were able to enter into evidence (as Exhibits 1 & 2) explosive first-hand sworn testimony from November 13 and 15 public hearings in Columbus about voting irregularities. Excerpts from these first-person accounts were published on the House Judiciary Committee Democrats webpage and were used by some three-dozen U.S. Representatives and Senators to challenge Ohio’s Electoral College certification in Congress on January 6.

That historic challenge and ensuing national debate deeply embarrassed Ohio's Republican establishment. Blackwell was explicitly criticized on the floor of Congress for partisan behavior in administering the election. In return, Blackwell -- who is running for governor -- has issued personal attacks against the election protection attorneys who filed the Moss lawsuits, at one point referring to Fitrakis in public as "a complete idiot."

In documents filed with the Ohio Supreme Court, Petro’s office charges that the citizen contestors – Ohio voters - and their attorneys lacked evidence and proceeded in bad faith to file the challenge. Petro says the election challenge was a "political nuisance" lawsuit, and as such, the legal team should be fined -- personally -- many thousands of dollars.

As the sanctions motion moves toward a hearing before Ohio’s Supreme Court, hundreds of sworn statements are now permanently in the public record, documenting the massive voting problems which led to Bush's contested win in Ohio.

Equally significant, the attorneys were able to place into the court record the 102-page Status Report of the House Judiciary Democratic Staff entitled "What Went Wrong in Ohio?" Spearheaded by Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) the report concludes, "We have found numerous, serious election irregularities in the Ohio presidential election which resulted in a significant disenfranchisement of voters. Cumulatively, these irregularities, which affected hundreds of thousands of votes and voters in Ohio, raise grave doubts whether it can be said the Ohio electors selected on December 13, 2004 were chosen in a manner that conforms to Ohio law, let alone federal requirements and constitutional standards."

A motion was also filed asking the court to allow an amicus curiae brief from Rep. Conyers in support of the contesters counsel. Fitrakis, Truitt, Peckarsky and Arnebeck have entered affidavits swearing that they had proceeded in good faith in contesting the election.

Also entered into evidence was a letter dated December 23, 2004 from Peckarsky to John Zucker, Senior Vice President for Law and Regulation at ABC that outlined an agreement to "maintain intact Mitofsky's exit poll data" and that it "not be altered or destroyed"; and a letter from Truitt dated December 27, 2004 confirming a telephone conversation, with Richard Coglianese, Ohio Assistant Attorney General, "to the effect that regardless of the need for the deposition and regardless of the amount of notice provided (whether days or months) you will not allow the deposition of your client, J. Kenneth Blackwell, the co-chair of the Bush-Cheney campaign in Ohio, to occur at any time for any reason."

Arnebeck filed a separate memorandum opposing the sanctions that began: "The Attorney General's motion for sanctions is false and defamatory. It appears to be submitted for the partisan purpose of attempting to discredit those who brought the challenge . . ." Arnebeck told the court that the Attorney General filed the sanctions motion for intimidation purposes and it was aimed at public interest attorneys.

"In this instance the Attorney General of the State of Ohio may unwittingly have placed himself in a position of obstructing justice rather than upholding it through the filing of this partisan motion, which is lacking merit and is intended to terminate the search for truth and accountability in an election of profound importance to the citizens of Ohio, the United States and the world," Arnebeck concluded.

Fitrakis, who also holds a Ph.D. in political science and served as an international observer in the 1994 elections in El Salvador and co-authored and edited the international observer's report to the United Nations, charged that Petro's actions should be regarded as "an act of political retaliation and state repression." In the affidavit he also states that the "Ohio elections fail basic standards of transparency" under international law.

In the meantime, a high-powered team of researchers concluded "the many anecdotal reports of voting irregularities create a context in which the possibility that the overall vote count was substantially corrupted must be taken seriously. The hypothesis that the discrepancy between the exit polls and election results is due to errors in the official election tally is a coherent theory."

The report comes from USCountVotes, which convened ten mathematicians, statisticians and other researchers to evaluate recent assertions by Warren Mitofsky and other pollsters that the November 2 exit polling may have been wrong. Among the assertions by the pollsters is that more Republicans than Democrats may have refused to be polled after casting their ballots.

But the USCountVotes study points out that the numbers of voters polls in Republican precincts was actually higher than in Democratic ones. Mitofsky and others have said the disparities between their exit polls and the final outcome were "most likely due to Kerry voters participating in the exit polls at a higher rate than Bush voters." But, says the USCountVotes study, "no evidence is offered to support this conclusion. In fact, data newly released in the report suggests that Bush supporters might have been OVERREPRESENTED in the exit polls, widening the disparity to be explained."

The report adds that no data in the pollster's report "supports the hypothesis that Kerry voters were more likely than Bush voters to cooperate with pollsters, and the data suggests that the opposite may have been true."

Should Ohio's Republican-dominated Supreme Court decide to take revenge on the four election protection attorneys, it will have a mountain of data to disregard. But whatever the decision, that mountain of assertions about who really won Ohio and thus the presidency is now a part of the state's permanent legal landscape.

Blaming the Messengers

Published: February 3, 2005
New York Times Editorial

One of the strengths of our democracy is that citizens are free to question the results of an election. But four lawyers who did just that in Ohio, contesting President Bush's victory, are now facing sanctions. These lawyers, and other skeptics, may not have cast significant doubt on the legitimacy of the outcome. But punishing them for trying would send a disturbing message.

Clifford Arnebeck and three other lawyers contested the vote totals in Ohio, whose 20 electoral votes put President Bush over the top. Ohio had many problems on Election Day, including lines of up to 10 hours to vote, and a shortage of voting machines in African-American neighborhoods. But they were nowhere near widespread enough to erase Mr. Bush's margin of more than 118,000 votes. The lawyers also charged fraud, but they never proved their case.

Ohio's attorney general, who represents Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell in the matter, has asked the State Supreme Court to sanction Mr. Arnebeck and the others for mounting a "frivolous" challenge. Even though their case was weak, these lawyers did a public service by raising concerns that many voters shared. The burden put on Ohio's courts by their challenge was minimal. Courts know what to do when they get a weak case: throw it out.

Imposing sanctions would be likely to deter people from raising concerns about future elections, and ultimately undermine public confidence in the electoral process. The Ohio Supreme Court should make it clear that people have the right to challenge election results without fear of retribution.

It is odd that Mr. Blackwell, of all people, is requesting sanctions. He made many bad decisions as Ohio's top elections official, including one to reject voter registrations filed on insufficiently thick paper, an order he later retracted. Mr. Blackwell and the officials responsible for the 10-hour lines have not been held accountable for putting unnecessary obstacles in the way of Ohio voters. It will be a poor reflection on our election system if the only ones punished are the lawyers who tried to point out these deficiencies.