Who Really Won?

Monday, September 19, 2005

Voting Reform?

Warning that public confidence in the nation's election system is flagging, a commission headed by former president Jimmy Carter and former secretary of state James A. Baker III today will call for significant changes in how Americans vote, including photo IDs for all voters, verifiable paper trails for electronic voting machines and impartial administration of elections.

The report concludes that, despite changes required under the Help America Vote Act of 2002, far more must be done to restore integrity to an election system that suffers from sloppy management, treats voters differently not only from state to state but also within states, and that too often frustrates rather than encourages voters' efforts to participate in what is considered a basic American right.

The 2002 federal legislation grew out of the disputed election of 2000 and is not yet fully implemented. But the Carter-Baker commission said that even with some important changes in place, the 2004 election was marred by many of the same errors as the 2000 election. "Had the margin of victory for the [2004] presidential contest been narrower, the lengthy dispute that followed the 2000 election could have been repeated," the report states.

Disputes over the counting of provisional ballots, the accuracy of registration lists, long lines at some polling places, timely administration of absentee ballots and questions about the security of some electronic voting machines tarnished the 2004 elections.

James Baker? Is that like letting Saddam look for those missing WMDs? Like OJ looking for the real killer?

And requiring photo IDs from everyone? Yeah, let's make voting harder since we never hear about poor participation levels of our citizens...

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Poll Tax Returns

You gotta give the Republicans, they're great at making you re-fight battles you thought were long over:

In 1966, the Supreme Court held that the poll tax was unconstitutional. Nearly 40 years later, Georgia is still charging people to vote, this time with a new voter ID law that requires many people without driver's licenses -- a group that is disproportionately poor, black and elderly -- to pay $20 or more for a state ID card. Georgia went ahead with this even though there is not a single place in the entire city of Atlanta where the cards are sold. The law is a national disgrace.

Until recently, Georgia, like most states, accepted many forms of identification at the polls. But starting this month, it is accepting only government-issued photo IDs. People with driver's licenses are fine. But many people without them have to buy a state ID card to vote, at a cost of $20 for a five-year card or $35 for 10 years.

The cards are sold in 58 locations, in a state with 159 counties. It is outrageous that Atlanta does not have a single location. (The state says it plans to open one soon.) But the burden is also great on people in rural parts of the state.

The Republicans who pushed the law through, and Gov. Sonny Perdue, also a Republican, who signed it, say that it is intended to prevent fraud. But it seems clear that it is about keeping certain people away from the polls, for political advantage. The vast majority of fraud complaints in Georgia, according to its secretary of state, Cathy Cox, involve absentee ballots, which are unaffected by the new law. Cox says she is unaware of a single documented case in recent years of fraud through impersonation of a voter at the polls.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Dieb-Throat Speaks to BradBlog

The source is acknowledging that the company's "upper management" -- as well as "top government officials" -- were keenly aware of the "undocumented backdoor" in Diebold's main "GEM Central Tabulator" software well prior to the 2004 election. A branch of the Federal Government even posted a security warning on the Internet.

Pointing to a little-noticed "Cyber Security Alert" issued by the United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT), a division of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the source inside Diebold -- who "for the time being" is requesting anonymity due to a continuing sensitive relationship with the company -- is charging that Diebold's technicians, including at least one of its lead programmers, knew about the security flaw and that the company instructed them to keep quiet about it.

"Diebold threatened violators with immediate dismissal," the insider, who we'll call DIEB-THROAT, explained recently to The BRAD BLOG via email. "In 2005, after one newly hired member of Diebold's technical staff pointed out the security flaw, he was criticized and isolated."

In phone interviews, DIEB-THROAT confirmed that the matters were well known within the company, but that a "culture of fear" had been developed to assure that employees, including technicians, vendors and programmers kept those issues to themselves.

The "Cyber Security Alert" from US-CERT was issued in late August of 2004 and is still available online via the US-CERT website. The alert warns that "A vulnerability exists due to an undocumented backdoor account, which could [sic: allow] a local or remote authenticated malicious user [sic: to] modify votes."

The alert, assessed to be of "MEDIUM" risk on the US-CERT security bulletin, goes on to add that there is "No workaround or patch available at time of publishing."

Rest here....

Thursday, September 08, 2005

2000 Election Revisited

Remember those 2 guys involved in the 2000 election? How'd they do with Hurricane Katrina?

This guy

appointed these guys:

Reversing an eight-year crusade to rid the now-embattled Federal Emegency Management Agency of political patronage, a newly elected George W. Bush in 2001 named two key players in his Florida recount fight to important FEMA posts.

Neither man, Jacksonville attorney Reynold Hoover and Miami lawyer Mark Wallace, had any experience in emergency management before they were named by the Bush administration to FEMA.

Hoover, a longtime "explosives expert" with the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms who became a lawyer in 1996, is still with FEMA as its director of national security coordination. Wallace left the Bush administration in 2004 to become deputy manager of the president's re-election campaign, and is now a lobbyist.

They are two more names to add to the list of political appointees and out-and-out hacks at FEMA. Many are calling for the firing of agency chief Michael Brown, the ousted head of a horse association who was hired at FEMA in 2001 along with his college roommate, top Bush advisor Joe Allbaugh. And it was reported yesterday that FEMA's No. 2 and No. 3 officials, Patrick Rhode and Scott Morris, are also former campaign aides.

Consider this quote:

"FEMA is widely viewed as a 'dumping ground,' a turkey farm, if you will, where large numbers of positions exist that can be conveniently and quietly filled by political appointment," the preliminary report said. "This has led to a situation where top officials, having little or no experience in disaster or emergency management, are creating substantial morale problems among careerists and professionals. "

Then there's the other guy:

Al Gore, private citizen with, certainly, a certain clout, began an initiative on Thursday, September 1st. He personally and privately rented an American Airlines jet and crew, got a doctor friend of his and several nurses, and on Saturday morning, he flew to Louis Armstrong airport in New Orleans, gathered up 140 elderly and ill people from the triage center there and flew them to the Knoxville, Tennessee airport. They were met by relief workers who unloaded the plane and took the people to area hospitals which were on alert and ready to welcome the people. After being checked out, those who were able were taken to a Red Cross shelter set up at a local church. Mr. Gore and his doctor had intended to make a second trip on Saturday, but the undertaking - the loading on and the loading off took several hours each, and by the time he could go back to N.O., it was getting dark and, of course, there are no landing lights at the airport in N.O. Sunday, they flew to Dallas and collected another planeload of refugees and brought them to Chattanooga. That's as far as my information goes. I only know this because the local paper was at the Knoxville airport and got pictures of the people and Mr. Gore moving among them, helping them off the plane. His doctor spoke briefly to the local press, saying, "Al called and asked for help. So here I am."

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Hope In Ohio?

The Ohio secretary of state announced yesterday that a series of election-related constitutional amendments had qualified for the November ballot, including one intended to strip Republican elected officials of their control over drawing legislative districts.

The amendments are sponsored by Reform Ohio Now, a coalition dominated by Democrats, unions and watchdog groups. It celebrated the announcement and said a statewide campaign to win approval in November had begun.

"It's not like we're posting yard signs yet, but we're close to that," the campaign manager of Reform Ohio Now, Scarlett Bauder, said. "Right now the time is ripe for reform."

The State Supreme Court rejected last month a Republican-backed move to disqualify the measures, but a second suit by a former Republican state senator is to be heard tomorrow in an appeals court in Columbus.

The former senator, Richard H. Finan, wants the amendments declared invalid because Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell allowed Reform Ohio Now to use out-of-state signature gatherers.

Mr. Finan has said the redistricting measure, if approved, could cost Republicans in Ohio 6 of their 12 seats in Congress and would probably inspire similar Democratic-backed efforts in other states dominated by Republicans.

A spokesman for the Ohio First Education Fund, a group founded by Mr. Finan, said Republicans were moving forward with fund-raising in case they lost the court battle.

The spokesman, David L. Hopcraft, said the campaign was drawing money from outside the state because of Ohio's significance as a swing state in presidential elections, though he did not give specific dollar amounts.

"If the issues make it to the ballot," Mr. Hopcraft said, "we will have a vigorous campaign that speaks to the ballot-box power of every Ohioan, which we think is clearly threatened under these amendments."

"These issues," he added, "are being backed by people who did not like the results of the last election and want to nullify Ohio's vote."

Ms. Bauder said Reform Ohio Now, which has raised $1.2 million, had enemies on both sides of the aisle.

"To me, that says it is true reform, because people in both parties don't like it," she said.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

If the Recount Was Done Right....

..why would this happen?

Two Cuyahoga County elections officials were indicted Tuesday on charges of not handling ballots correctly during the recount of the 2004 presidential election.

Kathleen Dreamer, manager of the board's ballot department, and the assistant manager, Rosie Grier, were each charged with six counts of failing to follow Ohio laws that spell out how ballots are selected and reviewed during a recount.

The most serious charges carry a maximum of 18 months in prison.

The charges stem from a complaint first raised last December by Toledo lawyer Richard Kerger, who watched over the recount on behalf of two third-party candidates.

Kerger charged that elections officials failed to randomly select precincts that were supposed to be counted by hand and compared against ballots tabulated by a machine; conduct test-runs before witnesses; and investigate discrepancies between vote totals.

Baxter would not offer details of his investigation but said he examined allegations that officials took "measures in order to all but assure that there would not be a countywide hand count."