Who Really Won?

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Into The Abyss

The first chairman of a federal voting agency created after the 2000 election dispute is resigning, saying the government has not shown enough commitment to reform.

DeForest Soaries, 53, said he wanted to spend more time with his family in New Jersey, he added that his decision was prompted in part by what he called a lack of support.

"All four of us had to work without staff, without offices, without resources. I don't think our sense of personal obligation has been matched by a corresponding sense of commitment to real reform from the federal government," he said.

Soaries, a Republican former New Jersey secretary of state, was the White House's pick to join the Election Assistance Commission, created by the Help America Vote Act of 2002 to help states enact voting reforms.

A Baptist minister, Soaries was confirmed by the Senate in December 2003 and elected the independent agency's first chairman by his three fellow commissioners.

Soaries and the other commissioners complained from the beginning that the group was underfunded and neglected by the lawmakers who created it.

"It's bad enough to be working under extremely adverse circumstances, but what throws your thinking into an abyss, as it were, is why you would be doing that when, for instance, you have to beg Congress for money as if the commission was your idea," Soaries said.

White House spokesman Allen Abney said only, "We appreciate his service and we are working to fill the vacancy promptly."

Envisioned as a clearinghouse for election information that would make recommendations about technology and other issues and distribute $2.3 billion to states for voting improvements, the commission initially couldn't afford its own office space. The commissioners were appointed nine months later than envisioned by the Help America Vote Act, and of a $10 million budget authorized for 2004, the panel received just $1.2 million.

(T)he commission has failed to preside over the kinds of sweeping reforms some hoped for, with many counties still relying in November on the same punch-card and lever machines derided after the 2000 election. Soaries said the commission is making progress with improvements, including technical guidelines and centralized voter registration lists, that are supposed to be in place for the 2006 election.

"There is so much more work to do to bring federal elections to the standard I think that the citizens expect, and there doesn't seem to be a corresponding sense of urgency among the policy-makers in Washington," Soaries said. "Nor does there seem to be a national consensus among leaders of the states about what success looks like."

Friday, April 22, 2005

Never Forget November 2nd

Common Cause has a short video for you to watch lest we forget what happened last November...

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Conyers on the Election "Reform" Hearings

Rep. John Conyers posts over at DailyKos:

The first meeting of the Baker-Carter election commission was disappointing and, at times, outrageous and tainted with racially-charged innuendo. Let me make absolutely clear that I greatly admire former President Jimmy Carter and believe he was insightful and on-target throughout the hearing. However, given the incredible lack of balance and profound lack of good faith demonstrated by some of Carter's fellow commissioners and many of the witnesses at this hearing, at times he seemed to be a very lonely voice of sanity.

The remarks of Mr. James Baker, III, which were echoed by a number of right wing political operatives called as witnesses, seemed to have a singular purpose of spreading hoaxes and conspiracy theories about ineligible Democratic voters being allowed to cast votes. The remedy was cleverly repeated like a broken record, "photo ID, photo ID, photo ID." Right wing pundit John Fund was called as an "expert" witness by the hearing and offered racially charged proposals with racially charged rhetoric.


On a panel supposedly designed to address "voting technology," only one of the four witnesses, Professor David Dill, spoke of the need for a voter verified paper ballot. Two of the witnesses on this panel spoke in total opposition to such a proposal.

The pattern of the hearing was clear: Republican political operatives, with little or no track record of involvement in voting rights issues, facing non-partisan advocates for civil rights. Predictably, this hardly was a fair fight. The deck was stacked from the beginning.

What can be said of a commission that holds such a hearing? What hope is there for the recommendations of such a Commission? I am scheduled to meet with Commission officials this week and I am trying very hard to have an open mind. But, frankly, at this point - seeing this first hearing - I think we should all be very wary of this Commission's objectives.

Monday, April 11, 2005

PA Dumps Some Touch Screen Machines

Pennsylvania officials Thursday barred three counties from using a touch-screen voting system that apparently contributed to an unusual number of uncounted votes in the November election.

Pennsylvania Secretary of State Pedro Cortes said officials do not believe the undercount would have changed the outcome of any races in Mercer, Beaver and Greene counties.

Still, he said, "there are enough problems with this system that in our estimation it's in the best interests of the voters" to stop using them immediately.

The decertification of the UniLect Patriot voting machine came barely a month before this year's May 17 municipal primary election.

It was not immediately clear how voters in the three western Pennsylvania counties, the only ones in the state using the UniLect system, would cast their ballots.

The system also was blamed for lost votes in two North Carolina counties last year.

Kerry (Mildly) Speaks Up Again

any voters in last year's presidential election were denied access to the polls through trickery and intimidation, former Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry told a voters' group Sunday.

"Last year too many people were denied their right to vote, too many who tried to vote were intimidated," the Massachusetts senator said at an event sponsored by the state League of Women Voters.

"There is no magic wand. No one person is going to stand up and suddenly say it's going to change tomorrow. You have to do that," he said.

Kerry supporters have charged that voting irregularities in largely Democratic areas made it difficult for voters to cast ballots in the November election. A lawsuit in Ohio cited long lines and a shortage of voting machines in predominantly minority neighborhoods, but the Ohio Supreme Court dismissed the suit.

Kerry also cited examples Sunday of how people were duped into not voting.

"Leaflets are handed out saying Democrats vote on Wednesday, Republicans vote on Tuesday. People are told in telephone calls that if you've ever had a parking ticket, you're not allowed to vote," he said.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Prosecutor to probe Cuyahoga County recount

Erie County Prosecutor Kevin J. Baxter is investigating whether the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections broke the law in its recount of ballots from the November presidential election.

Cuyahoga County Prosecutor William Mason appointed Baxter as a special prosecutor in the case because the board of elections is Mason's client, which could pose a conflict of interest, said Mason spokeswoman Jamie Dalton.

``If it goes nowhere, it goes nowhere,'' Baxter said. ``We'll just start from the beginning... This is rather preliminary.''

The complaints allege that the board violated state law because the precincts it recounted were neither randomly selected nor was the opening of ballots properly witnessed.

In addition, Cobb and Badnarik allege that there were problems with the board's ballot-transfer cases, which can reveal whether the precinct used the ballots assigned to it or whether ballots from other precincts were used.

Finally, they contend that the county's vote-tabulation machines were used improperly and that discrepancies exist between the certified recount and the certified original vote.

All this was done to cover up problems in the November vote and ensure that no hand-recount would have to be done around the county, the letter from Cobb and Badnarik alleges.

According to the complaint filed by both the candidates and their lawyer, Richard Kerger of Toledo, the board did not randomly select 3 percent of the county's precincts to recount, as required by state law. Instead, the county selected recount precincts only from among those with 550 voters or more, which eliminated 90 percent of the county's precincts, according to the letter.

As Caner put it in his shorter e-mail: ``This is similar to randomly drawing a card out of a deck, but before doing so, eliminating all suits but hearts.''

In addition, the candidates' letter contends that the way the precincts were chosen seems ``to be of a special sort: those in which (U.S. Sen. John) Kerry received either his largest or second largest number of votes in the ward. This meant that precincts in which (President) Bush received an unusually high number of votes could not be examined, nor could the precincts in which the third-party candidates received unusually high vote totals.''

The letter said there is no way this phenomenon happened at random.

More allegations

The letter alleges that Maiden admitted in a Dec. 22 meeting that ``ballots in selected precincts had been opened without the presence of witnesses and had been sorted and hand counted in advance of the original recount'' -- setting up a test-run to assure that the recount would comport closely with the original count so that a full hand count wouldn't have to be conducted.

As for the transfer-case problem, the letter alleges that on Dec. 17, a number of precincts were found to have had problems -- namely some ballots assigned to one precinct were used in another, or too many or too few ballots were used.

The letter suggested that ``the (election) staff had been assigned to clean-up the tell-tale evidence of election irregularities within the cases.''

Kerger said Thursday that Cuyahoga County was the only county to receive a letter like the one he referred to Mason's office. He said generally he understands that county boards of elections, mostly made up of volunteers, aren't going to run perfect elections. ``If we hold the Super Bowl every four years, we wouldn't expect the referees to be perfect,'' he said.

However, what he found in Cuyahoga County was different. There ``it seemed to be more than just a mistake,'' he said.

St Pete's Times Explains The Clint Curtis Story For Ya

Those crazy blogs!

Now some Internet Web sites that traffic in conspiracy theories have fashioned something of a political thriller out of a series of apparently unrelated events they say prove the elections really were stolen.

The tale reaches far beyond elections to include a dead investigator for the state Department of Transportation, a $210 red Coach purse, gambling trips to Las Vegas and Biloxi, Miss., a Chinese computer expert charged with illegally shipping computer chips to Beijing and an Oviedo computer firm accused of overbilling the state.

And the villain? U.S. Rep. Tom Feeney, an Oviedo Republican elected to Congress in 2002 after spending two years as state House Speaker.

To the Internet blogs - short for Web logs - the hero of this tale is Clint Curtis, a 46-year-old computer programmer and self-styled book author, who says Feeney asked him to come up with an undetectable system to fix elections.

See how the MSM -short for Mainstream media - covers this story here where you can read this tidbit:

On March 3, Curtis passed a lie detector test given by Tim Robinson, retired chief polygraph operator for the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Computer Expert Weighs In

A group of distinguished computer scientists and mathematicians, including nine Ph.D.s, says it has found statistical evidence that vote counts of the 2004 U.S. presidential election were tampered with in one or more states, affecting the outcome.

To support its claims, the group, known as USCountVotes.org, shows that exit polls taken on Nov. 2 cannot be reconciled with announced vote tallies in some states.

Since ballot-box stuffing has a long and rich history in the U.S., the Ph.D.s behind the new report say they're disappointed that "Edison/Mitofsky did not even consider this hypothesis." Vote tampering has been attributed to both Democrats and Republicans in elections past. In the 1960 race, for example, John F. Kennedy won the state of Illinois by only 9,000 votes, and allegations that ballots were manufactured by the Daley political machine have never been settled with finality.

Asked how votes in one or more states could have been changed to affect the outcome in 2004, Bruce O'Dell, the vice president of USCountVotes.org, pointed out that about 30% of U.S. votes are now cast on equipment that cannot be audited. Once a count is issued by these electronic ballot boxes, the number cannot be double-checked against paper ballots.

"Many security professionals can identify a dozen different methods to alter these results," O'Dell said.

O'Dell pointed to Ohio, where a change of only about 60,000 voters would have given that state's electors, and thereby the election, to Kerry. A recount in that state was meaningless, he said, because (among other things) only a few, pre-selected polling places were recounted and equipment vendors had been inexplicably allowed to re-program election machinery after Nov. 2.

Entire article here.

Mandate, Anyone?

And you gotta wonder if it's got the usual Gallup Republican bias:

President George W. Bush's approval rating has plunged to the lowest level of any president since World War II at this point in his second term, the Gallup Organization reported today.

"All other presidents who were re-elected to a second term had approval ratings well above 50% in the March following their re-election," Gallup reported. Bush's current rating is 45%. The next lowest was Reagan with 56% in March 1985.

Gallup noted that more challenges lie ahead for Bush, including public doubts about his Social Security plan and Iraq policies.

Here are the ratings for presidents as recorded by Gallup in the March following their re-election:

Truman, 1949: 57%.

Eisenhower, 1957: 65%.

Johnson, 1965: 69%.

Nixon, 1973: 57%.

Reagan, 1985: 56%.

Clinton, 1997: 59% .

Bush, 2005: 45% .

Friday, April 01, 2005

No Foolin': Republicans Want to Make Voting Harder

Legislation that would require voters to show photo identification before casting ballots has touched off fierce debate in three states, with opponents complaining the measures represent a return to the days of poll taxes and Jim Crow.

Lawmakers in Georgia and Indiana walked off the job to protest the proposals, which they say would deprive the poor, the elderly and minorities of the right to vote. Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle, a Democrat, has already vetoed a similar measure and has vowed to do so again.

Ohio intends to adopt a similar standard in upcoming election- reform legislation - applying it, as suggested by the federal Help America Vote Act, solely to first- time voters in federal elections who register by mail. A separate Ohio proposal, introduced by State Sen. Bob Spada, a North Royalton Republican, would require a photo ID of all voters - as the controversial measures in Indiana, Georgia and Wisconsin would.

Critics say such measures do not provide good alternatives for those without photo IDs.

Georgia's proposal, for example, would allow people without photo IDs to cast provisional ballots but require them to return within 48 hours with a picture ID.

State Sen. Vincent Fort, an At lanta Democrat, said that amounts to "an updated form of Jim Crow," referring to segregation-era laws that kept blacks from voting. About 100 people rallied outside the Georgia Capitol last week to protest the legislation, which passed the state Senate on Tuesday and now goes to the House.

Wisconsin would require a government-issued photo ID from nearly all voters. Exceptions would be granted for domestic abuse victims, nursing home residents and those who have lost their driver's license.

Indiana would exempt only those who sign affidavits swearing they are too poor to get an ID or that they have religious objections to obtaining one.

Opponents of Indiana's measure contend there is no solid evidence of fraud at the polls. Supporters argue that perception matters as much as reality, and people who think fraud is going to cancel out their ballot will not bother to vote.

Yep, the Republicans want to make it harder to vote based on a fictional perception which matters as much as reality. Why do they hate reality so much?

Deja Review


A computer glitch caused Miami-Dade County's electronic voting machines to throw out hundreds of ballots in a special election March 8 and raised questions about votes in five other municipal elections, officials said. The problem came to light when officials noticed a high number of undervotes in the election on whether to have slot machines at tracks and jai alai frontons. That measure was defeated. Undervotes are ballots with no recorded votes. The undervotes would not have changed the results of any of the elections, the county elections supervisor said, but the county manager called for a review. (AP)


FLORIDA: ELECTIONS CHIEF RESIGNS The elections chief of Florida's largest county has resigned amid revelations of voting problems in six elections. The Miami-Dade elections supervisor, Constance Kaplan, resigned Thursday; her chief deputy, Lester Sola, will take over temporarily. Ms. Kaplan, a longtime Chicago elections official was hired by Miami in June 2003 to repair problems from the 2000 presidential election, when the county was heavily criticized after 28,000 ballots, mostly punch cards, went uncounted. In a special election held concerning slot machines last month, there were a high number of ballots with no recorded votes - known as undervotes - and the county manager, George Burgess, said Ms. Kaplan's explanation, a software glitch, was inadequate. (AP)