Friday, March 03, 2006

Mayor and 13 Others Charged With Fixing Election

This small group must not be as connected to the "powers that be" in Washington!

New York Times:
Published: March 3, 2006

WISE, Va., March 2 (AP) — An investigation that began with accusations that cigarettes, alcohol and pork rinds were offered for votes in a small coal-mining town led to the indictment Thursday of the mayor and 13 other people on charges of election fraud and corruption.

A state grand jury indicted the 14 on charges of fixing the May 2004 election in Appalachia, a town of about 2,000 in Virginia's rugged southwest corner. A town councilman, a police captain and a police officer were also named in the 269-count indictment.

Most of those indicted face multiple counts, all of which are felonies. Most of the counts carry a maximum punishment of at least 10 years in prison.

Thursday, March 02, 2006


Is New York acting to protect the rights of its citizens to vote for the candidate of their choice (without having their votes altered)? I think so. I think "Big Brother" is trying to ensure continuing GOP control of this country by forcing all states to install flawed electronic voting machines that intentionally "err to the right." Three cheers to NY for standing up for its people! Forcing the states to install untrustworthy e-voting machines should cause outrage across this country. Yet, it rarely is mentioned; except when a state refused to follow the GOP plan. Read the following article from the Los Angeles Times (on the web at,1,6322576.story)

U.S. Is Suing New York Over 2002 Voting Law
The state has been the slowest to implement the Help America Vote Act, according to federal officials, and could lose $49 million in aid.
From Associated Press
March, 2 2006

ALBANY, N.Y. — The Department of Justice sued the state of New York on Wednesday over its worst-in-the-nation record of complying with the Help America Vote Act, the first time federal officials have sued a state over the new voting requirements.

Adopted after the disputed 2000 presidential election, the act was designed to update the nation's voting systems. Supporters of the act have identified New York as making the least progress in complying with the legislation.

But a frequent critic of New York's compliance said the federal lawsuit might "do more harm than good" by forcing New York to quickly buy new voting machines that could be low-quality. That could "throw this [2006] election into chaos," said Neal Rosenstein of the New York Public Interest Research Group.

"It's absurd to rush such a process," he said. "The rotten HAVA implementation process on the state level shouldn't be mirrored by a rotten judicial enforcement process."

The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in Albany and charged that the state had failed to put in place a system that would allow disabled voters to cast their own ballots capable of generating a paper record, and that the state had failed to create a statewide computerized voter registration database.

"HAVA contains important reforms designed to ensure that elections for federal office will both allow access to all voters and ensure the integrity of the process," said Wan J. Kim, assistant attorney general for civil rights, in a statement released by the department. "We believe today's lawsuit will help ensure that New York voters enjoy the benefits of these important reforms." [Here's my comment: If there is the slightest chance that these machines could manipulate the vote, then what is "the integrity of the process" about which Wan Kim speaks? Why are they rushing into a potential electorial abyss?]

The state had been negotiating with Justice Department officials for weeks to avoid the suit.

The lawsuit seeks a court order requiring the state to promptly submit a plan detailing how it will comply with the law signed by President Bush in 2002. The provisions at issue in Wednesday's lawsuit took effect Jan. 1.

Thus far, New York has received $221 million in federal aid to help it comply with requirements, including $49 million specifically dedicated to replacing the state's lever-action voting machines. A news release from the Justice Department said New York could lose the $49 million if it does not have new voting machines in place by the state primary election in September. State officials have said it is unlikely they will be required to return the money.

There was no immediate response Wednesday to the lawsuit from New York Atty. Gen. Eliot Spitzer, who has been representing the state in talks with Justice Department officials.

Federal officials have also been talking to other states about their progress on the act.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Voting Activists accused by PA Secretary of State of stalling HAVA

As a heavy handed tactic to force counties to buy unverifiable, paperless electronic voting machines; the federal Department of Justice sent a strongly worded letter to the State of Pennsylvania saying that all counties must be in compliance with HAVA by the May 16 Primary Election. Disgusting. The Republicans are going to win by a landslide in November! I am watching this in dismay.

Voting Activists accused by PA Secretary of State of stalling HAVA

Blaming the Victims?


For Immediate Release: February 28, 2006


Westmoreland County citizens responded strongly today to Secretary of State Pedro Cortés’ recent memorandum that stated their court case has impeded the progress Pennsylvania counties are making toward buying new voting machines to comply with the federal Help America Vote Act by the May 16 primary election.

Ten Westmoreland voters filed a lawsuit last month along with state senator Jim Ferlo who represents part of the county, seeking to preserve the right to choose a voting system under the Pennsylvania Constitution and approve any change from lever machines to electronic voting by referendum. Earlier this month Commonwealth Court Judge Dan Pellegrini ruled in favor of the citizens, but Westmoreland County and the Pennsylvania Department of State have appealed that decision to the State Supreme Court. In the meantime, Secretary Cortés’ memorandum was sent to all county officials and appeared on Governor Ed Rendell’s web site over the weekend.

As lead plaintiff in the suit, Mary Beth Kuznik expressed dismay that an honest effort made by citizens to preserve the rights of all Pennsylvanians under the state Constitution was being blamed for a delay in buying voting machines and a potential loss of Help America Vote Act funding.

Nothing could be further from the truth,” said Kuznik, who is also founder of the election integrity alliance VotePA. “Regardless of whether or not our suit was filed, Pennsylvania has been way behind in getting voting systems certified. Counties could have held the referendum required by our state Constitution and still have met the HAVA deadline, but many held off on their decision because they were waiting until well into the new year for more machines to come out.

According to Kuznik, no voting machines were certified by the Pennsylvania Department of State under HAVA until August 2005, and then there was only one available -- albeit a good one -- until mid-November. She said that information and leadership was lacking with counties being forced to rely on the vendors' biased information rather than hard facts about the machines. This has led many officials to make a choice based on price and promises rather than concrete information.

The notion that our group of citizens somehow acted to disrupt HAVA is absurd,” Kuznik said, “and I personally told Secretary Cortés’ staff several times that it was already too late long before our suit was filed. I am an elected Inspector of Elections, a pollworker myself, and I know the training and logistics that will be involved to make the switch to a new system. To make the May deadline, machines should have been ordered in November or December at the latest, but the Department of State was still examining voting machines in January and acting like there was plenty of time.

In further developments, the federal Department of Justice involved itself in the matter when it sent a strongly worded letter to the State of Pennsylvania saying that all counties must be in compliance with the HAVA by the May 16 Primary Election. The move was seen by Kuznik and her group as a heavy handed tactic to force counties to buy unverifiable, paperless electronic voting machines.

Under HAVA, counties are required meet certain standards that are largely resulting in a move to electronic voting methods. The mandate leaves many voters concerned that the newer, largely untested computerized systems are prone to breakdowns, fraud, and potentially thousands or millions of lost or miscounted votes. Citizen groups and computer experts have called for equipping machines with the ability to produce a paper either marked or verified by the voter, and keeping the papers available in a locked ballot box to serve as the official record of the vote in case of audit, machine breakdown, or recount.

Kuznik said that her group and others are calling upon Secretary Cortés and Governor Rendell take the next step to make sure that votes are protected by pushing for hearings and ultimate passage of SB 977 / HB 2000.

SB 977 and its identical House version HB 2000 would provide that all voting systems in the state produce a paper record or ballot allowing voters to verify that their choices are being recorded as cast, with an audit of 5% of the precincts chosen at random in each election. The bills, proposed by Senator Joe Conti (R-Bucks) and Representative Dan Frankel (D-Allegheny) have co-sponsorship of over one-fourth of their respective houses, but are delayed in the State Government committees and have been unable to move to either the public hearings called for by the Governor’s Task Force on Election Reform, or to a floor vote in the General Assembly.

Pennsylvanians want to see and verify their vote on a piece of recountable, auditable paper,” said Kuznik. “Regardless of the outcome of the Westmoreland County lawsuit, let’s get these bills moving and passed into law so that when we do move to the new machines our citizens can be confident that their votes will be counted accurately.”


Governor's statement:

Cortés' memo (Note: this is in Adobe Acrobat format):

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

In Their Own Words: Republicans on Perjury & Obstruction of Justice

I found a post on that is a good read. It is called "In Their Own Words: Republicans on Perjury & Obstruction of Justice" and I highly recommend it...
"Recently, Republicans have been implying that an indictment for perjury is simply a "technicality." But they didn't always feel that way. Here's a collection of things they had to say then."
Here are some gems:
Current Majority Leader Roy Blunt (R-MO) – "This is not about the president's personal conduct...When the president commits perjury that clearly is an attack on the judiciary, on the rule of law." [AP, 12/16/98]
Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA) – "Perjury and obstruction of justice are serious offenses which must not be tolerated by anyone in our society." [Washington Post, 2/12/99]
Senator Michael DeWine (R-OH) – "Obstruction of justice and perjury strike at the very heart of our system of justice...Perjury is also a very serious crime...The judiciary is designed to be a mechanism for finding the truth-so that justice can be done. Perjury perverts the judiciary, turning it into a mechanism that accepts lies-so that injustice may prevail." [Congressional Record, 2/12/99]
There are quite a few more at

Oil Industry Contributes to Imbalance of Power

The president's budget fuels up alternative energy, but compared to Big Oil's political activity, is the cleaner-power industry shouting into the wind? [I say, "YES!"]

By Courtney Mabeus

February 17, 2006 | To rehabilitate a nation he has diagnosed as “addicted to oil,” President Bush has proposed a number of initiatives to spark alternative energy development. His proposals, outlined in this year’s State of the Union address and his 2007 budget, mark a surprising shift in attitude given the president and Vice President Cheney’s ties to the oil and gas industry that once employed them. Although Big Oil and its alternative little sisters share an objective—to provide energy to the nation’s consumers—campaign finance records indicate they could not be more different politically.

The oil and gas industry, currently enjoying record profits, has contributed more than $186 million to political candidates and parties since 1989, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. About 75 percent of the industry’s contributions went to Republicans. Exxon Mobil Corp., which reported the highest profit in U.S. history just before Bush’s January address to Congress, and ChevronTexaco are two of the all-time top contributors to political campaigns.

By contrast, political contributors associated with solar, wind, ethanol and other sources of power development have given just 1 percent of what contributors associated with oil and gas have—a little more than $2 million to federal candidates and parties. Cruise lines and manufacturers of nutritional supplements are among the many industries that have given more. Nearly 60 percent of alternative energy’s money went to Democrats, the minority party in Congress right now.

Unless the industry raises its profile in Washington, legislation favoring alternative power sources may stand little chance—especially if it’s at the expense of oil and gas.

The oil and gas industry’s contribution patterns have become steadily more Republican since the GOP takeover of Congress in 1994. In this 2005-06 election cycle, the top two recipients of the industry’s campaign contributions are Texas Republicans—former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, with more than $95,000 from the industry, and House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Joe Barton, with more than $91,000. The industry’s top recipient during the 2003-04 election cycle was another Republican from Texas: President Bush. He received more than $2.6 million from oil and gas interests.

Please read the rest of the article at:

Pima County, AZ Election Director Launches Outburst When Questioned about DIEBOLD purchases!

I am beginning to suspect that there is more to Arizona's decision to purchase Diebold voting machines for the upcoming mid-term elections. . . A Republican is trying to keep his job. So, in order to ensure that he keeps it, he is installing intentionally flawed Diebold voting machines (which always err to the right.) Sometimes the guilty just get angry! Read on:

Pima County Election Director Brad Nelson Launches Outburst At Election Reform Advocate in Response to Question About New Touch-Screen Voting Machines
Letter Calls for Censure of Official as Onlookers Stunned by Encounter, Feared Violence Would Break Out...

The battle between Election Officials and Election Integrity Advocates has been simmering and intensifying for some time. Last week, in Arizona, one such confrontation boiled over briefly into an outburst...

The battle between Election Officials and Election Integrity Advocates has been simmering and intensifying for some time. Last week, in Arizona, one such confrontation boiled over briefly into an outburst at a public meeting which was documented on video tape. In what could be a preview for the Electoral Integrity fight still to come, Pima County, Arizona's Election Director Brad Nelson went into a short tirade last Tuesday as the video camera rolled during a local Democratic precinct council meeting in the state's 26th Legislative District.

The BRAD BLOG has obtained the exclusive video of the event which reveals the Republican Nelson flying off the handle and shouting as he confronts Election Integrity Advocate, John Brakey, "nose to nose" during a question about Diebold's DRE (touch-screen) voting machines. Before Brakey was able to get to his main question concerning Nelson's plans for Logic and Accuracy testing on the machines, he was interupted by Nelson's outburst over whether or not he had, in fact, signed a contract for use of the new voting machines in the county.

Diebold's hackable touch-screen machines have been recently approved for first-time use in the state by Arizona's Secretary of State Jan Brewer.

While Nelson's confrontational rant was just short of anarchic, it certainly sent a shockwave of concern throughout the room of stunned onlookers.

One of the witnesses present, Rev. Gerry Straatemeier, described the "intimidating behavior" displayed in the incident as "completely out of line for a public official". Straatemeier was so troubled by the display that she sent an open letter to the Pima County Board of Supervisors calling for Nelson to be censured for the behavior. In the letter (posted in full at the end of this item, along with a text transcript of the event) Straatemeier says, "I really thought he was going to land a blow on Mr. Brakey and I was scared to death."

In the video, Nelson charges towards the camera at one point -- which Brakey was standing near -- coming so close that it's impossible to see anything but his chest in full camera's full frame.

Straatemeier, in her letter, suggests the tirade was an attempt to intimidate Brakey -- and other election integrity advocates -- from further inquiry into the controversial Diebold touch-screen voting equipment now coming into Arizona despite a Dept. of Homeland Security warning that their tabulator software is hackable, a non-partisan GAO report confirming the failures and loss of ballots via electronic voting, and a recent independent analysis [PDF] commissioned by the Sec. of State of California which warns about the hackable "interpeted code" used in Diebold voting machines despite a ban on such code by the federal Help America Vote Act (HAVA) guidelines.

As we reported in May of last year, Brakey has for some time been closely investigating a number of troubling anomolies in recent Arizona elections. His intensive work auditing his own precinct in Pima County, where he says evidence suggest fraud occurred in the 2004 election, was covered in detail last year by The Tuscon Weekly. That work has brought him in contact many times in the past with Nelson -- without incident apparently, until last week.

Last Tuesday, as the following video shows, the simmering frustration and growing anger roiling up between many Election Officials and Election Reformers, has finally begun to make its way to the surface and into the public eye...

A complete text transcript of the incident, and a copy of Straatemeier's open letter to the Pima County Board of Supervisors calling for censure of Nelson is located at!

AZ State Secretary Defends Purchase of Diebold Voting Machines

By Howard Fischer
Capitol Media Services
Tucson, Arizona | Published: 01.05.2006

PHOENIX - Secretary of State Jan Brewer on Thursday defended the decision to purchase touch-screen voting equipment from the Diebold Corp.

Her comments came during and after what was supposed to be a routine announcement by the Glendale Republican who wants another four years in office.

But a small group of protestors, apparently mobilized by comments made Thursday morning about Diebold by a Phoenix radio talk show host, showed up with hand-made signs decrying the purchase.

A Brewer campaign worker had to call Capitol police to have the protestors moved back so Brewer could give her speech - a speech which boasted of the state getting rid of the last punch card ballots as part of her accomplishments since being elected in 2002 but one that never mentioned the Diebold contract.

But Brewer, responding to media questions, called the noisy protestors "anarchists" and said they were off base.

"I don't think there is a problem with the Diebold equipment," she said. Brewer said a committee investigated the bids and the machines passed on the guidelines.

"I think that there are a lot of conspiracy theorists out there that are trying to blow this completely, totally out of proportion," she said.

Most Arizona counties already have bought and use Diebold machines for optical scanning of ballots.

Brewer's office got involved after federal law required states to purchase machines for their counties which are accessible to the disabled. That led to an award Friday to buy touch-screen machines for every polling place, most of them from Diebold.

Last year Leon County, Fla., got rid of its Diebold scanners after it was shown they can be "hacked" to alter election results without leaving a trace. Since that time some other communities have refused to purchase machines from that company.

But state Elections Director Joe Kanefield, who works for Brewer, said that Florida test was meaningless.

"It was a flaw that could be inherent in any system if security measures are not in place," he said. Kanefield said the testers were given access to the heart of the machine, something he said cannot happen with the protocols that govern Arizona election law.

"I established very precise procedures and security measure so this would not happen in Arizona," she said.

One of the protestors Thursday was Ernest Hancock, a long-time Libertarian Party activist who hopes to be his party's nominee for Brewer's office. He complained that the touch screens are flawed because they leave no paper trail to be counted if there are questions about whether a machine accurately recorded the votes.

Kanefield said, though, the machines ordered by the state do produce a paper receipt which is kept by election officials in case of a court challenge.

Brewer, a former state senator and Maricopa County supervisor, faces a primary challenge from former Phoenix Mayor Skip Rimsza. The only other formally announced candidate in the race is former Tucson city councilman Bruce Wheeler.

2004 Balloting Irregularities in Pima Arizona

John Brakey insists there was fraud at one precinct during November's election--and he has evidence backing him up. This article is old. But, interestingly, Pima County, Arizona's Election Director Brad Nelson went into a short tirade just last Tuesday (as a video camera rolled) during a local Democratic precinct council meeting in the Arizona's 26th Legislative District. I am posting that as well.

By DAVE DEVINE, Published at on MAY 26, 2005:

Pacing as he talks, John Brakey believes he has uncovered serious problems with November's election results in Pima County--results that could have national implications.

Brakey admits he was a Democratic Party poll watcher who was escorted from his own precinct. But after six months of extensive research, Brakey is convinced what he saw on Election Day was voter fraud.

He accuses some of the people who worked at his polling place of stealing votes for George Bush. "These people knew exactly how the system works. I know those people were in there doing bad things," Brakey says.

Contacted by Brakey the day after Election Day, Pima County's director of elections, Brad Nelson, looked into the complaint. "There were four Republicans and three Democrats working at the polling place," Nelson says, "and I spoke to as many of them as I could. They have all attested in writing ... that everything was fine."

Acknowledging the poll workers did make errors in how they handled both the balloting and bookkeeping processes, Nelson indicates that some of them won't be asked back for future elections. Then he adds: "There were bookkeeping problems, but I can't find anything to substantiate irregularities that affected the outcome of the election."

After countless hours of research, Brakey ardently disagrees. He thinks poll workers obtained ballots by marking "spoiled" on some valid ballots and then casting their own choices as replacements.

Brakey also believes several people who requested early ballots but came to the precinct on Election Day had their "provisional" ballots manipulated there. Based on the records he has, Brakey additionally insists that other votes were cast by poll workers who covered up the act by making it appear people who didn't vote actually did.

Scattered across Brakey's dining room table are stacks of election documents for his precinct. He has entered all the data into a computer that allows him to track the voters. "The county looks at numbers," he emphasizes, "but I looked at names."

Once the alleged problems are meticulously explained, with the paperwork carefully examined, it makes for a strong argument that well more than 10 percent of the almost 900 votes from Brakey's polling place were questionably handled. It was a very busy day at the precinct, but the irregularities are glaring.

Among numerous categories of problems, several stand out. Thirty-nine questionable "provisional" ballots were apparently improperly placed into the optical-scan vote-counting machine instead of being sent to the Pima County Recorder's Office for verification. In addition, while the poll workers certified there were 59 provisional ballots cast, only 53 people actually signed as having done so.

The list of problems grows longer. Some voters' names appear twice on the official roster of those who showed up on Election Day, indicating they were given two ballots. Precinct records also indicate that several people were provided a second ballot because they spoiled the first one, but Brakey says he has contacted a handful of these people--and they deny it happened. Based on that, he believes poll workers cast at least some of these second votes.

Nineteen people also didn't sign in at the precinct, but according to the polling place paper trail, a few of them did cast ballots there. Others from this same list aren't shown as voting by the recorder's office, but claim they did. One person in this latter category, when contacted by phone by the Weekly, was positive she did vote in November.

For those who did not sign in on Election Day but had a ballot given out in their name, it's possible someone else may have gotten it. An example is a Libertarian voter who didn't sign in, and is not shown as voting by the Pima County Recorder. Her name, however, appears on the roster, prepared by poll workers, of those who actually received ballots--but she is mistakenly listed as a Republican.

When asked to explain this particular discrepancy, Nelson replies: "I have to fall back on what the board workers told me. But that absolutely should not happen."

Brakey thinks this process was intended both to create votes for George Bush and to switch some intended for John Kerry to Bush. "It was all part of a strategy," he says, "with the intent to convert enough Democratic votes to Republican to win the (national) popular vote."

Not satisfied with his own analysis, Brakey hooked up with David Griscom, a 33-year employee of the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, D.C., before his retirement to Tucson last year. Reviewing the precinct results statistically, Griscom says he found the data supports Brakey's views.

"There was fraud," Griscom insists after trying to mathematically reconstruct what happened at the polling place. "I think the poll workers arbitrarily picked some innocent people and were in cahoots with other voters."

These serious allegations were turned over to the Pima County Attorney's office. After an investigation, the case was recently closed, based in part on Nelson's written assertion that he found "the integrity of the November 2, 2004 General Election at (the) Precinct sound and reliable."

Brakey remains undeterred, saying of the county election's director: "He's a bureaucrat and wants this swept under the rug."

Even though John Kerry received only 1 percent less of the precinct's votes than Al Gore did in 2000, Brakey continues to believe there was foul play involved last year.

"No way was this gross error," he insists. "The only way you screw things up this bad is you have to plan. It was methodically planned out. But if it was gross error, we have a pretty bad system, and your vote is a joke."

Alaska Rebuffs Raw 2004 Vote Data (Who actually won in 2004 is unknown!)

You know about Florida. You know about Ohio. But did you know about ALASKA? If Diebold's e-voting machines incorrectly counted votes in Bush's favor in 2004, in these three states, then Kerry should be president. What will happen in the 2006 Elections? Is it any wonder that California's Republican Secretary of State Bruce McPherson recently certified Diebold e-voting machines for the upcoming Mid-Term elections - after the UC Berkeley computer experts reported that the Diebold machines were FLAWED? SHAME ON HIM!

State [of Alaska] Rebuffs Raw Vote Demand

STANDOFF: Democrats Want 2004 base Election Data;
Machine Firm Is Playing Coy.

By LISA DEMER, Anchorage Daily News (Published: January 24, 2006)

The state Division of Elections has refused to turn over its electronic voting files to the Democrats, arguing that the data format belongs to a private company and can't be made public.

The Alaska Democratic Party says the information is a public record essential for verifying the accuracy of the 2004 general election and must be provided.

The official vote results from the last general election are riddled with discrepancies and impossible for the public to make sense of, the Democrats said Monday. A detailed analysis of the underlying data could answer lingering questions about an election many thought was over more than a year ago, they say.

"Basically what they say is they want to give us a printout from the (electronic) file. They don't want to give us the file itself. It doesn't enable us to get to the bottom of what we need to know," said Kay Brown, spokeswoman for the party.

At this point, it's impossible to say whether the correct candidates were declared the winner in all Alaska races from 2004, Brown said.

The private contractor hired to provide Alaska's electronic voting machines is Diebold Election Systems. It has told Alaska officials it owns the "structure of the database" though the data itself is public.

State officials say the Democrats have it wrong.

"The issue is not about whether public information can be released, because the Division of Elections has already offered to provide the information requested by the (Alaska Democratic Party)," elections director Whitney Brewster said in a written statement. "The issue is that the (Democratic Party) is asking for a file format the state of Alaska uses but does not own."

Diebold told the state it owns the format, which can't be released because it's a company secret.

Diebold maintains its voting systems produce accurate results, as proven through recounts in numerous close races, said Mark Radke, Diebold director of marketing.

Questions still hound the company. Some elections officials in other states are questioning whether its electronic machines are secure. Investors have sued the Ohio-based parent company, Diebold Inc., over whether it concealed problems with its voting machines, among other issues. Its chief executive, who once vowed to deliver Ohio electoral votes to President Bush, recently stepped down.

The latest controversy concerns the database holding the results of Alaska's 2004 general election. Democrats say it's important for them to see the database in its original structure ---- the format in which the data was created and now is stored and reported. That's how they hope to figure out if the votes were registered and reported accurately.

But under the state's contract with Diebold, that cannot be released, Brewster said.

Documents provided by the Democrats show that Brewster contacted Diebold and was told the public data can be released only after being transferred to a common format such as Microsoft Excel.

In a Jan. 6 e-mail, Diebold's lawyer, Charles R. Owen, told Brewster that "the structure of the database file ... is proprietary information."

Perhaps, but it's not secret. Anyone can examine Diebold's format on a Web site set up by activists who have been raising questions about the company, the Alaska Democrats said.

"Copies of these kinds of files have been sitting on the Internet for over two years, with Diebold's knowledge," said Jim March, an investigator with Black Box Voting, a private organization that calls itself a national consumer protection group for voters.

Diebold has blocked the group's efforts to get election files in California, Colorado and Washington state, March said. But the data format has been released in a Florida county and in Memphis, Tenn., during a challenge of a mayoral election, he said.

What the state has offered leaves out "the forensic traces we need to figure out what really happened," March said. The Black Box group is helping the Alaska Democratic Party.

"The results from the 2004 election in Alaska just plain look squirrelly," March said.

For instance, district-by-district vote totals add up to 292,267 votes for President Bush, but his official total was only 190,889.

Election officials have an explanation. Early votes for statewide candidates were not recorded by House district but rather were tallied for each of the state's four election regions. Those regional totals then were reported for every House district, essentially inflating the vote total many times over.

The results should be reported differently next time, officials have said.

Democrats also contend more than 2,000 Alaskans cast valid absentee ballots that weren't counted in official totals.

Unless they get the entire file, they won't be able to understand what caused the "bizarre and inaccurate reports" from Alaska's 2004 election, they say.

"These votes belong to us," Brown said. "These are all public record. It's wrong that a contractor like Diebold can keep us from seeing the record."

Daily News reporter Lisa Demer can be reached at and 257-4390.

Monday, February 27, 2006

The Corporation as a "Person" To Which Living Human Beings are Subservient

As a former corporate banker with both a business degree and a law degree, I am concerned at the losses Americans are increasingly suffering at the hands of large corporate interests. These corporate interests have much more power to line the pockets of politicians. And their lobbying efforts are emaciating the laws that were created to "establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity," as provided in the U.S. Constitution. Living, breathing human beings are less protected and have less rights, these days, than corporations. In effect, human beings are subservient to corporations. How did this happen?

The Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution was ratified in 1868, soon after the end of the Civil War. It declares that no state shall deprive "any person of life, liberty or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws." The "person" Congress and the ratifying states had in mind—the human being in need of equal protection, particularly in the states of the old Confederacy—was the newly-freed slave. But it applies to all human beings. And, as the result of a case 18 years later, it applies to corporations.

In 1886, the United States Supreme Court granted corporations the same rights as living persons under the 14th Amendment of the Constitution. The case was SANTA CLARA COUNTY v. SOUTHERN PACIFIC RAILROAD CO., 118 U.S. 394 (1886), and it held that a private corporation is a "person" entitled to the same legal rights and protections the Constitutions affords to any person. The doctrine of corporate “personhood” subsequently became a cornerstone of corporate law, and it was introduced into that 1886 decision without argument. According to the official case record, Supreme Court Justice Morrison Remick Waite simply pronounced before the beginning of argument in the case that:
"The court does not wish to hear argument on the question whether the provision in the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution, which forbids a State to deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws, applies to these corporations. We are all of opinion that it does.
I am not against the idea of corporate "personhood" in general. However, the actual application of "personhood" to corporations seems to accord mere human beings a lower status to corporations under the law.

Here are some examples:

1. Corporations have the right to put corporate money into politics; and corporations generally have much more money to "contribute." As a result, corporations have taken control of our major political parties and politicians. Corporations also contribute to politicians via PACs ("Political Action Committees," where corporate executives collect the money from employees and spend the money on lobbying efforts.)

2. Banks and businesses make tax-deductible contributions to political causes and lobbies that are intended to, and do influence the vote on Federal, state and local proposals. Mere human beings are not able to compete with these corporate “persons,” because they have less money to play with. Due to their lack of bargaining power, human beings do not have equal access to lobbies and politicians.

3. Corporations use the 4th Amendment right to privacy to keep out OSHA, EPA, and other protections intended to protect working human beings. (Remember the recent spate of coal mining disasters, where numerous human beings died. The mines had received hundreds of fines related to violations of health & safety codes; yet they failed to pay one penny, or to correct the violations.) Human beings work for dangerous corporations at their peril, because they have unequal bargaining power when it comes to the protection of their “health and safety.”

4. Unions were created as a way to give human beings some say in the way they are treated in corporations. Unions have been able to ensure that corporations pay a fair wage, but they also ensure that corporations provide safety in the workplace. Additionally, unions often act as a PAC for human beings. Under the current administration, corporations easily kick out unions whenever they can.

5. The Constitution provides that the bankruptcy laws throughout the U.S. shall be uniform. Powerful bank and corporate-sponsored credit card lobbyists rewrote the bankruptcy law (called the "Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act," which does not protect consumers.) This law, which took effect Oct. 17, 2005, effectively obliterated the ability of human beings to obtain a "fresh start" after filing for bankruptcy protection, if they are able to file at all. No longer can a human being be relieved from his debts by filing a bankruptcy petition. Again, the law was changed because human beings have unequal bargaining power over corporations.

6. Credit card companies change the terms of their credit card agreements AFTER consumers have used the credit cards. While Federal, state and local governments cannot pass ex post facto laws, and while contracts ordinarily cannot be amended unless both parties to the contract agree, such laws and rules do not apply to credit card companies (who, by the way, have reported record profits over the last several years.) In this one instance, credit card companies have more rights than governments! Because of the power to change their credit card agreements, credit card companies have been able to add charges, outrageous late fees, and exhorbitant interest rates; and consumers are powerless to fight them. There is absolutely no question that the credit card lobbies are powerful. Again, unequal bargaining power.

7. Corporations cannot go to jail is they are indicted for crimes. (How can you jail a fictional entity?)

8. Human beings often cannot afford to litigate against a corporation, whereas corporations have money set aside to litigate against humans.

These are just some of the examples. There are many more. We need to restore the rights of human beings in this country.

By the way, since the U.S. Constitution makes no mention of corporations anywhere, I wonder whether the powerful Federalist Society (which seeks to "limit" strictly the interpretation of the Constitution and not "insert" what was not originally intended) would seek to overturn Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad Co. How would they square this case with their doctrinal belief in "Original Intent?" One wonders . . .

AMERICA FOR SALE: The Cost of Republican Corruption

Download the full report here (Note: This link takes you directly to the Adobe Acrobat file, which is 762KB in size. You may want to right-click the link and select "Save Link As" to download it!)

Congresswoman Louise Slaughter (D-NY) released a 103 page (.pdf) report detailing the Republican culture of corruption and it's impact on the American people. There is no question that a true culture of corruption has developed under today's Republican Congress and the Bush White House. The real-life costs it has, and continues to have, for everyday Americans are staggering. The recent, and unprecedented, subversion of our legislative process and federal government is not simply an "inside the beltway" problem. America - all of America - is literally for sale. Here are some examples:
  • A Confusing and Expensive Medicare Program Millions of American seniors have been forced into a confusing and expensive new Medicare drug program that was not created for them, but for the insurance and drug industries who were given special access to shape this legislation.
  • An Energy "Strategy" That Saves No Energy While American consumers must live with an energy policy that the Energy Department itself has found will not reduce our high oil and gas prices, the Republican Congress and the Bush Administration have rewarded the oil companies with billions of dollars in new tax breaks and subsidies. [According to the Republicans, welfare for the rich is fine; but welfare for the poor is an abomination!]
  • Polluters Re-Writing Environmental Laws The quality of the air we breathe and the water we drink has been degraded because energy lobbyists temporarily working in the Bush Administration have undermined some of our country's most important environmental standards.
  • A Nation Still Vulnerable to Terrorist Attacks No American citizen can be sure that the billions of dollars the federal government is spending on homeland security projects are making us safer, rather than just making politically-connected defense contractors richer.
  • A Government Run by Political Hacks Americans have no confidence that their government will be able to adequately respond if a disaster (natural or man-made) strikes their community, because its agencies are staffed not by professionals, but by political cronies and lobbyists like Michael Brown, who botched the federal government's response to Hurricane Katrina.
  • Fat Cats Get Their Defense Contracts, but Soldiers Don't Get Their Body Armor American soldiers and their families don't know if they are going to have the body armor and other supplies they need to fight in Iraq, because Members of Congress are instead steering hundreds of millions of dollars to defense contracts for products and services the military often says it does not need and, at the same time, unscrupulous contractors like Halliburton are defrauding the government of millions of dollars.
  • Drug Companies Get Off the Hook if Their Products Injure Americans While American citizens, public health officials, and first responders worry about how our country would handle the outbreak of a flu pandemic, the Republican Congress recently relieved the pharmaceutical industry of any responsibility for the harm their vaccines or other products might cause during such a crisis.
  • Corporate Profits Up, American Family Income Down While record numbers of American workers are losing their good-paying jobs as well as their health and pension benefits, large corporations are enjoying new tax breaks and record profits, and are still free to move their corporate organizations overseas to avoid taxes.
  • Student Loan Debt, Student Loan Industry Profits Both at Record Highs Thanks to the efforts of newly-elected Majority Leader John Boehner, private student loan companies are some of the most profitable companies in America and American students are graduating with record student loan debt.

These examples show that our government is working on behalf of the special interests, not the public interest, and the time for a change is long overdue. The above are just a few examples taken from different sections of Congresswoman Slaughter's report showing that Republican politicians have taken care of special interests instead of the American people.

The report makes an attempt to quantify the damage caused by this Congress and the White House. For example:
  • 14.2 million American seniors (including millions of our sickest and most vulnerable seniors) are stuck in a complicated, expensive, and inefficient Medicare prescription drug program because the Republican Congress and the Bush Administration allowed lobbyists from the insurance and pharmaceutical industries to design this program.
  • 60 million American families who heat their homes with natural gas and 8 million families who heat with heating oil are paying higher bills this winter, even though the Republican Congress recently passed their "national energy plan" into law. Although this plan gives the energy industry billions in new tax breaks and subsidies, it doesn't lower prices for consumers or make our country more energy independent.
  • The 150,000 U.S. troops currently deployed in Iraq may not have the equipment they need because of waste, fraud and cronyism by the Republican Congress and the Department of Defense. While Halliburton and other companies with Republican connections get their contracts, our soldiers still don't have the body armor and armored vehicles they need to fight the war.
  • 750,000 households in the Gulf region are still displaced today, more than 5 months after Hurricane Katrina hit that region, at least in part because the political hacks the Bush Administration put in charge of crucial homeland security functions were not adequately prepared to prepare for or respond to this disaster.
  • More than 10 million students and their families will have larger student loans to repay because House Republicans, led by new Majority Leader John Boehner working hand-in-hand with his commercial loan industry allies, cut $12 billion from the student loan program in the recent reconciliation bill and shifted the costs on to students and their families.
Please read the full report. It will open your eyes.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Bush's Obstruction of History

By John Wertman, Sunday, February 26, 2006; B07 (

At some point in the next few months, President Bush is expected to announce his choice for the location of his presidential library. Once it's open, most of the media attention is likely to focus on the public exhibits, which will no doubt extol the president's compassionate conservatism, his leadership immediately after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and his impressive selections of John Roberts and Sam Alito for the Supreme Court.

More important to history, however, are the documents that the National Archives will store in the Bush library. These records tell the real story of an administration. Some reveal heartfelt empathy and honest division about a hard decision facing a president at a given moment in time; others may prove embarrassing and show nothing but the basest of political motivations. But for better or for worse, these records belong to the American people and should be available so that future generations can learn from the triumphs and failures of our past leaders.

It was chiefly for this reason that Congress passed the Presidential Records Act in 1978. The law was intended to ensure that after a period of no more than 12 years, presidential records, other than those dealing with existing national security matters and a few other exempted categories, would be made available to the public forever. Thus the law serves as the final check on indiscretion in office and the final basis for presidential accountability.

The law's presumption of public access held firm for more than two decades, but in 2001 President Bush used post-Sept. 11 security measures as a reason to issue an executive order that turns the law on its head. Bush's decree allows former presidents and their heirs to bar the release of documents for almost any reason. It flies in the face of congressional intent and forces our nation's leading historians to take legal action if they want to gain access to documents.

The executive order, No. 13233, drew quite a bit of attention when it was first issued. A group led by the watchdog organization Public Citizen challenged the order's legality in federal court, but the case has been plagued by procedural delays and is still pending. A handful of bills were introduced in Congress that would have overturned the order, but none made it farther than committee.

Unfortunately, time has taken its toll on efforts to force the order's repeal, and hardly any public or political attention is being paid to the issue today, even though it represents a wholesale change in the way the federal government preserves and promotes our national public memory. Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Fairfax County's Rep. Tom Davis (R), who chair the committees with jurisdiction over presidential records, have been approached numerous times by historians, scholars and public interest groups regarding the order, but they have failed to act. They should look to the commendable example of Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco (D), who recently released 100,000 pages of records related to the Hurricane Katrina response. Blanco seems willing to face deserved criticism if it will help prevent officials from repeating mistakes the next time we face similar crises.

I was lucky enough to have had a chance a few years ago to ask former president Gerald Ford about the Presidential Records Act and was struck by his answer. "I firmly believe that after X period of time, presidential papers, except for the most highly sensitive documents involving our national security, should be made available to the public," he said, "and the sooner the better." He also told me that the researchers he's talked to at his presidential library have been grateful that most of his documents were made available. Ford's answer is especially telling because of the way in which he took office: He followed what he called the long national nightmare of Watergate into the White House and has a better sense than most of the importance of presidential accountability.

Until the original intent of the law is restored, public access to the records of our former presidents stands in limbo. Congress must act now to correct this injustice or one day the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum may be derided as a hiding place for secrets concerning matters that dogged the administration.

The writer was on President Bill Clinton's White House staff from 1999 to 2001 and is now director of public policy at the Association of American Geographers. He will answer questions from 2 to 3 p.m. tomorrow on

© 2006 The Washington Post Company

Ohio Voting Fraud, Explained

As far as I'm concerned, this is the final and definitive proof that both the 2000 and 2004 elections (and probably the 2002 Congress races) were fradulent:

There's two pretty scary articles out there, one from the Free Press and another written by some tinfoil hat blogger.

In the case of the Free Press article, you can't really declare it as crazy lefty conspircy theory considering they are merely summarizing the Government Accountability Office's report (PDF) on elections problems. Incidentally, this GAO report has gotten very little coverage.

But the most telling piece of information is this...
In the 2004 presidential election, an electronic voting machine (manufacturer: ES&S) in Youngstown, Ohio (Mahoning County) recorded NEGATIVE 25 MILLION votes for Kerry. Sources: MSNBC, House.GOV PDF (Google HTML version), and any Google search for "voting machine in Mahoning County recorded a negative 25 million votes for Kerry".

So what is so significant about negative 25 million votes for Kerry that I would sit here are claim to you, at risk of looking like a totally nuts conspiracy theorist, that this piece of information finally cements for me that the 2004 election was fraudulent?

It's pretty simple really: I'm a computer scientist, and every time I've talked to a fellow geek I've said that if the electronic voting machines can be hacked/rigged that some white hat ("good" hacker) out there would only have to register some ridiculous number of votes – say a number greater than the population of the USA or the population of the planet – in order to bring the issue to the table for the media and every America. That kind of move would be an obvious sign of tampering, as compared to somebody who wanted to actually sway the election results who would simply only change a few thousand or hundred votes here and there.

Well, it happened. And, instead of a really, really big number they chose a number that would be equally suspicious: a negative number.

Or did they?

A few things don't make sense:
  1. Most white hats are (arguably) Democrats, so why would they cast negative votes against Kerry?
  2. Even if you think I'm wrong on point #1, the more important question is, why the hell would a voting machine be able to register a negative vote?
Well, that's just it really. I don't think this hacker trying to make his or her point did register a negative vote for Kerry. I think they registered a really, really BIG vote for Kerry.

Negative 25,000,000 is actually the same as +4,269,967,296 as far as your computer is concerned. Allow me to explain...

Most microchips these days represent an integer number as 32 ones and zeroes, or "bits." Both positive and negative numbers can be stored in the same 32 bits. A programmer has to tell the computer whether the number stored in the 32 bits is positive or negative. If the programmer tells the computer the number is signed (can be positive or negative) then the computer reads the integer as some value between -2,147,483,648 and 2,147,483,647. If the programmer tells the computer the number is unsigned (always positive) then the computer reads the integer as some value between 0 and 4,294,967,295.

In many computer programming languages, integers are by default signed... positive or negative. This is the case in the C language, which was most likely used for the voting machine. If the programmer is unskilled enough to write a hackable machine, then it is also quite likely they used the default for the integers rather than realising that votes would never be negative, and explicitly using unsigned integers. (Actually... totally regardless of whether the programmer used signed ints or unsigned ints, the actual mistake the programmer probably made was not using %u, and using %i or the very commonly used %d in their sprintf statements instead... which would have caused +4 billion to be logged as -25 million.)

So, the white hat hacker, who was desperately trying to tell our Nation that the machines cannot be trusted, registered FOUR BILLION votes for Kerry (that's 60% of the population of the planet). And, because the programmer was unskilled, this very big number got put into the 32-bits of a signed integer, which means this very large positive number was read by the computer as a smaller negative number (-25,000,000).

Ok, so wouldn't it be more likely that the hacker just put in a nice round number like -25,000,000 rather than 4,269,967,296? Of course! BUT, I'd say it is pretty obvious the number was rounded by the media in their reporting. It's just as effective and much easier to say "negative 25 million" on the news rather than 25,123,456 or whatever. Hell, you had better HOPE that number wasn't actually exactly -25,000,000, because if it was, then that almost surely excludes the possibility of a computer error.

So, in review...

If I was going to make a point about the complete terror of electronic voting machines, I would register a ridiculously huge number of votes for one candidate in order to force a National dialogue. And I've shown above that SOMEBODY DID THIS.

And mind you, this is just my analysis of one very specific situation. If you read the GAO report, or the summary from the Free Press you'll learn about many, many more reasons to believe our most fundamental democratic exercise has been compromised.

So, what do you do now? Petition your Congress members! Give them a call. Tell them to stop wasting their time on issues we'll never ever agree on as a country (like abortion, religion, the death penalty...), and instead concentrate on legislating our elections and ESPECIALLY electronic voting machines.

I DO NOT think we should use electronic voting machines at all, but if we do, they need to be
open source and have a paper trail. Moreover, they need to be audited before the election, and stored in a secure location after the audit until they are used in the elections, and then audited again afterwards.

This isn't a partisan issue. [snip] Every single American, regardless of political positioning, should want severely strict review of our elections in this country. Mr. Republican: wouldn't it burn you up if a machine counted your vote for Kerry instead of Bush? Kerry did win in many states and many counties you know......

Look, I know that this is all a pretty, dare I say, f**king big claim I'm making. It is, and should be, hard for anybody to swallow the idea that we can't trust our elections in this country. Nobody should want to have to believe something so terrible on a day to day basis.

But, the time has come to look at the facts. And, remember, this DOES NOT have to be about some wide sweeping conspiracy to get Bush back in the White House. It simply could have been only a few people acting alone. Many of the articles written on this subject offer compelling evidence of just that. Our elections need to be reviewed, not because of conspiracy, but because our electronic voting machines are so easily tampered with by pretty much anyone (and that's when they aren't simply just malfunctioning on their own).

This is why we need to drop the partisan bullshit on this topic and take a close look at our elections system... to prevent a few criminals out there from making our elections a fraud.

Good night, and good luck.