Who Really Won?

Saturday, February 26, 2005

Truthout: Kerry Edwards Again Join the Cause

Truthout reports this, with links:

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.

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).

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Coming Soon in FLA: One Stop Election Stealing

As far as overseeing elections, Florida's secretaries of state haven't exactly generated positive buzz so far this century.

Let us not dwell on infamous Election 2000. Even last year's presidential election challenged the administrative abilities of Florida's Secretary of State.

Florida's place as one of the states with "the most egregious, or at least alleged egregious, irregularities of voting" was reaffirmed just last week by a ranking member of Congress, whose committee was stood up by Glenda Hood during its inquiry into national election reforms.

The state office's reputation is due largely to the unreliability of its list of former felons who should have been allowed to vote once their civil rights had been restored, but weren't. It took local supervisors of elections to attempt to straighten this out. Likewise, the Secretary of State's supreme overconfidence in the veracity of voting equipment that had no ability to produce a "paper trail" flew in the face of major and serious legal challenges.

Yet on Wednesday, Ms. Hood sent to the Legislature a last-minute bill usurping and centralizing in her appointed office the authority currently held by the elected supervisors of elections in all 67 counties.

The proposal basically renders these constitutional officers paper-shufflers, putting the major decisions about voters, registration and the carrying out of elections in the hands of a novice staff of 22 people here in Tallahassee.

The bill inexplicably includes unprecedented penalty language that is quite simply fightin' words to supervisors. In this bill, they're described as potential "violators" if they willfully fail to follow "directives issued by the Secretary of State."

Leon County Elections Supervisor Ion Sancho has been a national voice of authority on how to properly conduct an election - and something of a pain in the side to Ms. Hood and Gov. Jeb Bush, whom he has often challenged. Mr. Sancho is rightfully steamed at this run at centralizing the complex responsibility of running elections - a responsibility that Florida voters and the constitution give to county supervisors - in Ms. Hood's office.

"This is really a radical reorganization of how elections are administered in Florida," said Mr. Sancho. "This is akin to saying we have 67 sheriffs in Florida but now they are all subject to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, which will tell them how to police their jurisdiction."

It's also troubling that this 200-plus-page rewrite of the election law comes less than three weeks before the 2005 legislative session, too late for supervisors of elections to find sponsors for and file alternative bills. And, oddly, this whopper of a change wasn't even mentioned in a joint house-senate committee meeting on election reforms two weeks ago.

Ms. Hood, this takes some kind of nerve.

Friday, February 18, 2005

Conyers and Feingold File Their Brief

From The Free Press:

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.”

And more from the Free Press:

More on the Ohio Attorney General's attempt to sanction lawyers and its unintended consequences plus Congresswoman Jones' outrage at Kenneth Blackwell.

Happy Holiday!

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.

In addition to creating a 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.

Monday, February 14, 2005

Isolated Pro Bush Incident "Explained"

The maker of Franklin County's election machines has pinpointed the error that made a laptop computer give thousands of extra votes to President Bush on election night: Just like any overworked and distracted human, the machine was trying to do too much at once.

The mistake, caught several days after the election, had Bush receiving 4,258 votes in a precinct in the Columbus suburb of Gahanna where only 638 voters cast ballots. The corrected official count showed 365 votes for bush.

The uncapitalized bush is in the article, not a comment from here.

Then the simple explanation of this isolated incident follows:

Since December, Damschroder has said the error occurred when cartridges from individual voting machines were inserted into a reader connected to a laptop that sends data over secure lines to a central computer.

Danaher Controls, the voting machine manufacturer based in Gurnee, Ill., inspected the counting system from beginning to end and agreed that was when the error occurred, then figured out how.

Technicians concluded the laptop was busy completing another task just as numbers from that precinct were being fed into it.

"As a result, the laptop did not receive the data as fast as it was sent," said an elections board report on the probe. "Consequently, data was lost."

Danaher went further, identifying what computer bytes in the data disappeared. By feeding in data missing those bytes, technicians produced the same wrong vote total.

Makes sense, eh?

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Even Ticking Off Republicans

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."

Rep. Juanita Millender-McDonald of California, the top Democrat on the committee, said "the arrogance of these secretaries of state to not be here today is an affront."

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Green Party Still Working For US

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.

UPDATED: Tales From The Dark Side

Vanity Fair's Christopher Hitchens (who's spent his recent years on the Dark Side) takes a look at the Ohio election issues in the current Vanity Fair. I was expecting him to tell us how the exit polls got it wrong, but instead he writes that something's fishy since so many 'isolated incidents' favored Bush over Kerry.

Of course, Vanity Fair does not post its articles on the internet, so you'll have to buy it and read it....it's the "Hollywood" issue.


Here's some excerpts:

No conspiracy theorist, and no fan of John Kerry's, the author nevertheless found the Ohio polling results impossible to swallow: Given what happened in that key state on Election Day 2004, both democracy and common sense cry out for a court-ordered inspection of its new voting machines.

I did not think that John Kerry should have been President of any country at any time.

The Federal Election Commission, which has been a risible body for far too long, ought to make Ohio its business. The Diebold company, which also manufactures A.T.M.'s, should not receive another dime until it can produce a voting system that is similarly reliable. And Americans should cease to be treated like serfs or extras when they present themselves to exercise their franchise.

First, the county-by-county and precinct-by-precinct discepencies. In Butler County, for example, a Democrat running for State Supreme Court chief justice received 61,559 votes. The Kerry-Edwards ticket drew about 5,000 fewer votes, at 56,243. This contrasts rather markedly with the behavior of the Republican electorate in that county, who cast about 40,000 fewer votes for their judicial nominee than they did for Bush and Cheney. (The latter pattern, with vote totals tapering down from the top of the ticket, is by far the more general-and probable-one nationwide and statewide)...In 11 other counties, the same Democratic judicial nominee, C. Ellen Connally, managed to outpoll the Democratic presidential and vice-presidential nominees by hundreds and sometimes thousands of votes. In Cuyahoga County, which includes the city of Cleveland, two largely black precincts on the East Side voted like this. In Precinct 4F: Kerry 290, Bush 21, Peroutka 215. In Precinct 4N: Kerry 318, Bush 11, Badnarik, 163....In 2000, Ralph Nader's best year, the total vote received in Precinct 4f by all third-party candidates combined was eight.

In Montgomery County, two precincts recorded a combined undervote of almost 6,000...that number represents an undervote of 25 percent, in a county where undervoting averages out at just 2 percent. Democratic precincts had 75% more undervotes than Republican ones.

In Precinct 1B of Gehanna, in Franklin County, a computerized voting machine recorded a total of 4,258 votes for Bush and 260 votes for Kerry. In that precinct, however, there are only 800 registered voters, of whom 638 showed up.

Miami County also managed to report 19,000 additional votes for Bush after 100 percent of the precincts had reported on Election Day.

Machines are fallible and so are humans, and shit happens, to be sure, and no doubt many Ohio voters were able to record their choices promptly and without grotesque anomalies. But what strikes my eye is this: in practically every case where lines were too long or machines too few the foul-up was in a Democratic county or precinct, and in practically every case where machines produced impossible or improbable outcomes it was the challenger who suffered and the actual or potential Democratic voters who were shortchanged, discouraged, or held up to ridicule as chronic undervoters or as sudden converts to fringe-party losers.

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."

I asked her finally, what would be the logical grounds for deducing that any tampering had in fact occurred. "Well. I understand from what I have read", she said, "that the early exit polls on the day were believed by both parties." That, I was able to tell her from direct experience, was true. But it wasn't quite enough, either. So I asked, "What if all the anomalies and malfunctions, to give them a neutral name, were distributed along one axis of consistency: in other words, that they kept on disadvantaging only one candidate?" My question was hypothetical as she had made no particular study if Ohio, but she replied at once, "Then that would be quite serious."

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

For The Record

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.

Sunday, February 06, 2005

No Do Over In Washington

Repuglicans in Washington are stuck using torts to save their battle for the governorship:

Dealing a blow to Republicans seeking a revote for Washington governor, a Chelan County Superior Court judge has ruled that even if Republicans win their election challenge he can't order a new election.

"The court doesn't have that authority," Judge John E. Bridges told a rapt courtroom on Friday in this Eastern Washington city.

Though the judge dashed their hopes of a spring revote, Republicans said the courts still could nullify the election, forcing Gregoire to vacate the office until a new general election in November.

Rossi has repeatedly said he doesn't want to be anointed governor by the courts, and Lane reiterated that pledge on Friday.

"That's not the remedy we're seeking," she said.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Sore Loser Won't Move On

Rossi lives his days in a strange limbo. He did not return to his career as a real-estate salesman. He is not directly trying to affect state policy. He does not counter things Gregoire does as state CEO. But to the uninitiated, this operation overlooking Interstate 405 has the odd feel of a government in waiting.

Every few days, Republicans stage a press conference to remind voters of the problems with the vote-counting — and to reaffirm the idea that the Rossi challenge of the election has not gone away.