Who Really Won?

Friday, October 28, 2005

Poll Tax Proposal Fails

In a case that some have called a showdown over voting rights, a U.S. appeals court yesterday upheld an injunction barring the state of Georgia from enforcing a law requiring citizens to get government-issued photo identification in order to vote.

The ruling allows thousands of Georgians who do not have government-issued identification, such as driver's licenses and passports, to vote in the Nov. 8 municipal elections without obtaining a special digital identification card, which costs $20 for five years. In prior elections, Georgians could use any one of 17 types of identification that show the person's name and address, including a driver's license, utility bill, bank statement or a paycheck, to gain access to a voting booth.

Last week, when issuing the injunction, U.S. District Judge Harold L. Murphy likened the law to a Jim Crow-era poll tax that required residents, most of them black, to pay back taxes before voting. He said the law appeared to violate the Constitution for that reason. In the 2004 election, about 150,000 Georgians voted without producing government-issued identification.

"Obviously, we're very pleased with the decision," said Daniel Levitas of the American Civil Liberties Union, which joined the NAACP and other groups in a federal lawsuit against the Georgia law. "It's especially timely to see the federal courts step in to protect the precious rights of voters. This decision confirms our contention that the Georgia ID law poses a constitutional hurdle to the right to vote."

Of course, Republicans will not give up the fight!!

State officials say they will challenge the decision by the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals...

Maybe because of all that dreaded fraud??

Secretary of State Cathy Cox, a Democrat who oversees the election process, said there has not been a proven case of voter fraud in the state in nearly a decade.

Friday, October 21, 2005

GAO, Whaddya Know?

The "Non-Partisan" GAO has released its report on our electronic voting machines. Some of the findings:

1. Some electronic voting systems did not encrypt cast ballots or system audit logs, thus making it possible to alter them without detection.

2. It is easy to alter a file defining how a ballot appears, making it possible for someone to vote for one candidate and actually be recorded as voting for an entirely different candidate.

3. Falsifying election results without leaving any evidence of such an action by using altered memory cards.

4. Access to the voting network was easily compromised because not all digital recording electronic voting systems (DREs) had supervisory functions password-protected, so access to one machine provided access to the whole network.

5. Supervisory across to the voting network was also compromised by repeated use of the same user IDs combined with easily guessed passwords.

6. The locks protecting access to the system were easily picked and keys were simple to copy.

7. One DRE model was shown to have been networked in such a rudimentary fashion that a power failure on one machine would cause the entire network to fail.

8. GAO identified further problems with the security protocols and background screening practices for vendor personnel.

You can read John Conyer's take here, and get the whole PDF here.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Iraq Constitution Election: Saddam-Like Result

As long as it starts with a "9" it's not quite as bad as Saddam:

Iraqi election officials said Monday that they were investigating "unusually high" vote totals in 12 Shiite and Kurdish provinces, where as many as 99 percent of the voters were reported to have cast ballots in favor of Iraq's new constitution. The investigation raised the possibility that the results of the referendum could be called into question.

In a statement on Monday evening, the Independent Election Commission of Iraq said the results of the referendum on Saturday would have to be delayed "a few days" because the apparently high number of "yes" votes required election workers to "recheck, compare and audit" the results.

The statement made no mention of the possibility of fraud, but said results were being re-examined to comply with internationally accepted standards. Election officials say that under those standards, voting procedures should be re-examined anytime a candidate or a ballot question got more than 90 percent of the vote.

Members of the commission declined to give any details. But one official with knowledge of the balloting said the 12 provinces where the "yes" votes exceeded 90 percent all had populations that were majority Shiite or Kurdish. Leaders from those communities strongly endorsed the proposed constitution.

Some of the provinces, the official said, reported that 99 percent of the ballots counted were cast in favor of the constitution.
It is difficult to imagine why any Shiite or Kurdish political leaders would resort to fraud. Together the two groups make up about 80 percent of Iraq's population.

None of the provinces cited for a closer look had Sunni majorities, the official said, although there were reports of similarly lopsided votes against the constitution in some Sunni areas. There are 3 Sunni majority provinces, of a total of 18.

"When you find consistently very, very high numbers, then that is cause for further checking," said the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. "Anything over 90 percent either way usually leads to further investigation."

October 16, 2002:

Iraq declared Saddam Hussein the winner Wednesday with 100 percent of the votes in a referendum in which he was the sole candidate, perpetuating his two-decade reign and prompting bursts of celebratory gunfire in Baghdad's streets.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Exporting (Republican Dirty Tricks As Well As) Democracy to Iraq

Dozens of locals, all planning to vote against the draft constitution, had been turned away from the single polling station in town. Lying 40 miles north of Baghdad and just south of Samarra, Ishaki is in the middle of Iraq's Sunni central region, Saddam Hussein's old heartland.

According to election officials here, all those rejected were registered at another polling station 3 miles away -- the only place they would be allowed to vote under the referendum's stringent rules. But a driving ban inside all urban areas, designed to stop suicide bomb attacks, meant these Sunnis, entering the democratic process for the first time, had effectively been disenfranchised.

Hamid Hassan Mohammad, a 28-year-old school principal in the village of Jazeera, part of the wider Ishaki area, said there was a conspiracy to prevent Sunnis from casting votes.

Shortly after being told to leave the polling station, he said, "Maybe they did this on purpose. There are a lot of organizations who have spent a lot of money on this referendum, and they want to see they get the right result. ... There are lots of empty ballot papers, and their top officials will be filling them in with 'yes' to make sure the constitution passes. It's the fault of those in high positions and the bosses in Baghdad, and they will fix it."

Coordinators for the Independent Electoral Commission for Iraq in the area, supported by a huge U.S. troop presence and Iraqi security services, insisted it was a genuine mistake and rushed to remedy the situation, removing the voting restriction. But for Sunnis, out in force on Saturday after January's election boycott, the damage had been done.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Second Term Thoughts

Poll: Americans Favor Bush's Impeachment If He Lied about Iraq

By a margin of 50% to 44%, Americans want Congress to consider impeaching President Bush if he lied about the war in Iraq, according to a new poll commissioned by AfterDowningStreet.org, a grassroots coalition that supports a Congressional investigation of President Bush's decision to invade Iraq in 2003.

The poll was conducted by Ipsos Public Affairs, the highly-regarded non-partisan polling company. The poll interviewed 1,001 U.S. adults on October 6-9.

The poll found that 50% agreed with the statement:

"If President Bush did not tell the truth about his reasons for going to war with Iraq, Congress should consider holding him accountable by impeaching him."

44% disagreed, and 6% said they didn't know or declined to answer. The poll has a +/- 3.1% margin of error.

Among those who felt strongly either way, 39% strongly agreed, while 30% strongly disagreed.