Saturday, March 11, 2006

The Theft of the Presidency: Both 2004 and 2000

"The morning after the 2004 presidential election was eerily similar to the morning after the 2000 presidential election. All the well-founded predictions that George W. Bush would lose went out the window, and he was once again, by some sleight-of-hand, installed in the office previously awarded to him by the Supreme Court.

"Something was seriously wrong. There were questions, not all of them from Democrats, but the American press ignored them. . . "

The above two paragraphs commence an excellent account that traces the history of the Theft of the 2004 Election by the Bush Administration and its cronies (including, probably, the three e-voting machine manufacturers that were able to get certified -- despite software and hardware problems inherent in their systems.) So, read the entire article at:

If you found that article valuable, read about the theft of the 2000 presidency, as rubber-stamped by the U.S. Supreme Court. This is at:

Retired Supreme Court Justice O'Connor Warns Of Dictatorship

Sandra Day O’Connor, the recently retired Supreme Court justice, no longer faces the obligation of keeping her mouth shut. Last Thursday, in a speech at Georgetown University, she openly criticized Republicans who criticized the courts.

O'Connor said that Republicans challenge the independence of judges and the freedoms of all Americans.

O’Connor said that attacks on the judiciary by some Republican leaders pose a direct threat to our constitutional freedoms. O’Connor began by conceding that courts do have the power to make presidents or the Congress or governors, as she put it “really, really angry.” "But," she continued, "if we don’t make them mad some of the time we probably aren’t doing our jobs as judges, and our effectiveness is premised on the notion that we won’t be subject to retaliation for our judicial acts."

"The nation’s founders wrote repeatedly," she said, "that without an independent judiciary to protect individual rights from the other branches of government, those rights and privileges would amount to nothing." But, said O’Connor, "as the founding fathers knew statutes and constitutions don’t protect judicial independence, people do."

And then, without actually naming names, she took aim at former House GOP leader Tom DeLay. She quoted his attacks on the courts at a meeting of the conservative Christian group JUSTICE SUNDAY last year when DeLay went after the courts for rulings on abortion, prayer and the Terri Schiavo case. This, said O’Connor, was after the federal courts had applied Congress’ one-time only statute about Schiavo as it was written. Not, said O’Connor, as the congressman might have wished it were written. This response to this flagrant display of judicial restraint, said O’Connor, her voice dripping with sarcasm, was that the congressman blasted the courts.

It gets worse, she said, noting that death threats against judges are increasing. It doesn’t help, she said, when a high-profile senator suggests there may be a connection between violence against judges and decisions that the senator disagrees with. She didn’t name him, but it was Texas senator John Cornyn who made that statement, after a Georgia judge was murdered in the courtroom and the family of a federal judge in Illinois murdered in the judge’s home. O’Connor observed that there have been a lot of suggestions lately for so-called judicial reforms, recommendations for the massive impeachment of judges, stripping the courts of jurisdiction and cutting judicial budgets to punish offending judges. Any of these might be debatable, she said, as long as they are not retaliation for decisions that political leaders disagree with.

"I," said O’Connor, "am against judicial reforms driven by nakedly partisan reasoning."

Pointing to the experiences of developing countries and former communist countries where interference with an independent judiciary has allowed dictatorship to flourish, O’Connor said we must be ever-vigilant against those who would strong-arm the judiciary into adopting their preferred policies. "It takes a lot of degeneration before a country falls into dictatorship, she said, but we should avoid these ends by avoiding these beginnings."

This summary is from the Raw Story. The audio can be heard at

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Summit County, OH Voting Has 30% Failure Rate In Tests

Posted on Beacon Journal, Thu, Mar. 09, 2006

By Lisa A. Abraham, Beacon Journal staff writer

The computer memory cards in the newoptical-scan voting equipment at the Summit County Board of Elections have experienced a 30 percent failure rate in testing this week.

A spokeswoman for the company that makes the voting machines said the problem can be corrected before the May 2 primary.

A consulting company that Ohio Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell hired has been in the county since Monday testing all the new voting equipment before its planned use May 2.

Tests on Monday and Tuesday showed that about 30 percent of the computer memory cards -- which should read and store vote tabulations -- did not work, Elections Board Director Bryan Williams said. "We are noticing a high failure rate," he said Wednesday.

Election Systems & Software in Omaha, Neb., makes the machines. Williams said ES&S officials believe they have isolated the problem to the computer cards produced by one of its subcontractors. ES&S contracts with several companies to make the memory cards, Williams said.

"We're looking into the extent to which this affects others," said Ellen Bogard, spokeswoman for ES&S. "It will be remedied if there are other cards that need to be replaced."

The first 177 cards tested Monday worked flawlessly, Williams said. When testing began on the remaining 348 cards, however, the failure rate was so high that the rest were thrown out. ES&S had a second batch of cards sent to Akron on Tuesday, but Williams said those cards experienced a similar failure rate. He said a third batch is expected to arrive today.

Optical-scan voting involves a printed paper ballot that a voter marks by filling in a circle with a pencil -- similar to the way students take standardized tests. The ballots then are fed into a scanner that reads the marks and records votes on a computerized memory card.

The Summit elections board bought 525 readers -- one for each of the county's 475 voting precincts, plus 50 extras.

"With the majority of them, the memory card cannot be read by the computer," Williams said.

He said company officials told him all the cards by the particular maker have been recalled in Ohio and may be recalled nationally.

Jerry Amick, ES&S' account service manager for Ohio, said 28 Ohio counties have the company's optical-scan machines, but testing in those counties showed no problems. "No other counties in Ohio got the bad cards; they already have pre-testing done," Amick said.

He denied that the cards by this particular manufacturer were distributed nationally and said a national recall will not be necessary. Amick would not name the manufacturer.

Bogard said the cards are like a floppy disk and "are easily managed if there is an issue. The testing process worked. We've identified the problem. It will be remedied well before any election," she said.

Williams said testing of the voting equipment will continue in Summit through April.

Blackwell spokesman James Lee said the secretary of state's office is confident the problems will be fixed and said the testing of the equipment will continue. "This is all part of the testing process. This is why we test," he said.

But Wayne Jones, chairman of the elections board and one of its two Democratic members, said the problems only reaffirm for him that the wrong voting machines were selected for the county. "I had trouble with the technology to begin with, and this just reaffirms the bad decision that was made," he said.

The elections board split along party lines when deciding what voting system to buy to replace the county's punch-card system. Democrats wanted to buy touch-screen voting machines made by Summit County manufacturer Diebold. Republicans wanted the ES&S optical scan system. Blackwell broke the tie vote in December.

Republican board member Alex Arshinkoff said Wednesday he was not familiar enough with the problems to offer comment.
Lisa A. Abraham can be reached at 330-996-3737 or

Incumbents return in a big way (Voting Machines "Flipped" Votes to Them!)

Marshall Cook, who ran against incumbents in Pinellas County, Florida, tried to vote for himself on an e-voting machine made by Sequoia. It kept "flipping" his vote in favor of his opponent, the encumbent! The following is buried in the BOTTOM of an article on how incumbents won the election (unbelievable!):

And on Election Day Cook charged that the voting machines malfunctioned in several precincts, including his own precinct at Skyview Recreation Center. When Cook tried to vote for himself, the machine defaulted to a vote for Taylor. A precinct worker finally moved Cook to a different booth. [I am sure that this solved the voting problem . . .]

Later in the day, Cook said he had other reports of voting machines malfunctioning in similar ways.

Nancy Whitlock, communications director for the Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections Office, said there had been a problem at Cook's precinct. One machine, she said, registered a different answer when voters touched it. Poll workers recalibrated it to fix the problem.

Whitlock said she did not know how many people had voted before the problem was caught. But the machines, she said, allow voters to look at their votes before finalizing them.

No one else complained, so it is unlikely the problem affected many, if any, other votes, she said.

Tarrant County, TX has a computer glitch in Primaries

Posted on Thu, Mar. 09, 2006
Vote spike blamed on program snafu

An undetected computer glitch in Tarrant County led to inflated election returns in Tuesday's primaries but did not alter the outcome of any local race, elections and county officials said Wednesday.

The error caused Tarrant County to report as many as 100,000 votes in both primaries that never were cast, dropping the local turnout from a possible record high of about 158,103 voters to about 58,000.

Because the errors added votes equally for each candidate, the glitch did not change the outcome of Tarrant County races but narrowed the margin of victory in some statewide races. In the close Republican primary race for Texas Supreme Court, for example, incumbent Don Willett edged past former Justice Steve Smith by only about 1 percentage point with the corrected vote tallies.

Questions about possible problems were raised by election staff late Tuesday night, as it became apparent to some that the county would far exceed the 76,000 votes cast in the 2002 primary elections.

"We didn't think there was a problem," Hamilton said. "We should have stopped right then.

"But we didn't question it at that time."

Read the full article at

Also at

County officials said the only race potentially affected was the close contest between GOP incumbent Don Willett and challenger Steve Smith for the Texas Supreme Court Place 2 seat. It's not clear yet whether the new numbers would alter the outcome of that race.

David Rogers, campaign manager for Mr. Smith, said his candidate is considering asking the secretary of state for a recount. Mr. Smith originally lost by 21,000 votes, but the margin is now fewer than 5,000.

"That is less than 1 percent," Mr. Rogers said. "We are looking at the statute tonight, and we'll probably make a decision [about a recount] in the next 24 hours."

Texas Primary Augurs Upcoming E-Trouble in E-Merica.

Go to to see problems with e-voting systems in Texas primaries the other day. Keep in mind that the problems in 'E-Lections' generally don't begin to surface until some time after Election Day...

(The links to these articles are found in
1. Galveston County - New voting system, same problems (Hart eSlate and eScan)
2. Jefferson County - Voting woes mar debut of electronic ballots (ES&S iVotronic)
3. Jefferson County - Confusion mars new voting process
4. Robertson County - Robertson County vote tallies delayed (ES&S AutoMark)
5. Tom Green County - Computer problems delay election returns (Hart eScan)
6. Webb County - Cuellar defeats Rodriguez in congressional grudge match (Counting problems – ES&S)
7. Webb and Bexar County - ‘Glitches' get blame in Webb (ES&S)

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

New voting system, same problems (Galveston)

This is the first article that there were problems with e-voting systems in the Texas primary:

By TJ Aulds
The Daily News

Published March 8, 2006
Galveston County’s elections were to have moved into the computer age Tuesday with the party primaries.

But despite a new electronic voting system and new software for voter registration, problems long a part of the county’s election night history cropped up again.

Thousands of voters never received registration cards. It was a problem that had the phones at the county courthouse ringing with calls from frustrated voters across the county.

It’s been a nightmare, it really has,” said County Tax Assessor-Collector Cheryl Johnson, who is also the county’s voter registrar.

Johnson blamed the problem on a glitch with new software that was required under state law. The cards printed fine, but postal service scanning machines had trouble reading many of the addresses, she said.

I’d say it’s easily 10,000 that came back, probably closer to 20,000,” Johnson said as she pointed at boxes full voter registration cards with bright yellow postal stickers indicating addresses were not valid.

You always get some that come back because of a problem with the address, but with many of these we found there aren’t any problems with the addresses,” Johnson said. In many cases, she said, the glitch caused letters to be mailed to people stating they needed to update their addresses with the county, when they had never moved.

Problems retrieving data from the new eSlate system delayed the release of election results. The first returns, which included the results of the 5,700 early votes, did not emerge until 9:20 p.m. — two and half hours after the polls had closed.

County Clerk Mary Ann Daigle said it was mostly human error that caused the delays. The ballot board, a group of elected judges who go through mail-in ballots by hand, was delayed because of a late mail run, she said.

Poll workers at two locations, one in Texas City and the other in Galveston, also failed to bring all of the required equipment to the courthouse for counting, she said.

Daigle said problems existed at at least two polling locations where the eSlate and eScan systems used in the election malfunction more than once. The systems shut down at the Municipal Utility District No. 12 in Bayou Vista and at Weis Middle School, forcing those wanting to cast ballots to do so using emergency ballots. Daigle said those equipment malfunctions though did not have anything to do with the delays.

Johnson promised an investigation into the irregularities with the voter registration.

That was little comfort to Sharon Tipton, who moved from Galveston to Santa Fe in November. She was one of those who never received a registration card; her husband received his.

In January, I checked on it and was told I had to complete the change form again, even though my husband’s information had been sent in the same envelope as mine originally,” said Tipton. “I went to the west county (annex) and completed the form again.

Still no card arrived.

I didn’t even bother to go and vote,” said Tipton, who could have still voted had she provided a driver’s license or other form of identification.

Even then, a provisional ballot could have been filed until her correct address information could be verified, Johnson said.

Maryland Gov.: Touch-Screen Voting Fallible (Want's paper receipts!)

Touch-Screen Voting Fallible, Ehrlich Says
Elections Official Urged To Back Paper-Ballot Bill

By Ann E. Marimow
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, March 6, 2006; B01

Maryland Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R) has embraced a legislative proposal to abandon the state's touch-screen voting machines for the coming election, in which he is a candidate, and to lease others that provide a paper record to verify results.

"Maryland's lack of a paper trail means we are no longer a national leader in elections systems and that our equipment is susceptible to system failures," the governor wrote in a letter to be delivered today to the chairman of the State Board of Elections. "It is inexcusable for us not to be prepared for a catastrophic system failure in the 2006 cycle."

Ehrlich's endorsement is the latest turn in the debate over Maryland's electronic voting machines that were used in nearly every polling place in the 2004 election. The state has committed $90 million to the system, which critics say is vulnerable to tampering.

State Elections Board Chairman Gilles W. Burger and Administrator Linda H. Lamone have defended the current system, made by Diebold Election Systems, as secure and the most accurate in the nation.

Switching to optical scan machines, which use paper ballots, is "not ideal," Burger said in a letter to Ehrlich late last month, because it would introduce such problems as printing errors and questions of voter intent. Burger and Lamone say they also are concerned that voters in the state's largest jurisdictions -- Prince George's and Montgomery counties and the city of Baltimore -- have never used an optical scan system for voting at the polls.

The governor's letter is part of an ongoing debate between Maryland's political leaders and elections officials about how and when voters should cast ballots in the 2006 election.

Last month, Ehrlich -- who championed the Diebold machines in 2003 -- wrote to Burger to express concern about reliability questions raised in California and Florida about those machines, which Ehrlich said would be exacerbated by early voting. A review of California's voting systems found more than a dozen vulnerabilities that security analysts said could be fixed; the California secretary of state has granted conditional certification.

In the February letter, Ehrlich told Burger that he had lost confidence in the elections board to conduct accurate contests. He backed a paper trail but did not offer a specific plan. More than two dozen states now have some requirement for vote verification.

In the latest letter, of which a copy was given to The Washington Post, Ehrlich calls on Burger to endorse legislation by House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Sheila E. Hixson (D-Montgomery) that would require the state to lease an optical scan system for the coming election. Hixson has said it would cost the state less than $16 million; the elections board has estimated it at more than $60 million.

The bill was approved by Hixson's committee Friday. Its chances in the Senate are less certain because Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D-Calvert) does not favor leasing new machines for the 2006 elections.

Ehrlich's latest letter also recommends that there be two independent security studies of the electronic machines and that the board "aggressively and publicly" push to delay plans for early voting.

© 2006 The Washington Post Company

"Paper Ballot Rectipts" May be added to Georgia's electronic voting machines!

It seems that there ARE some Republicans with a modicum of integrity! Three precincts (only?) will get to see a form of "paper ballot" in their e-voting machines.

Posted on Mon, Mar. 06, 2006

GA Senate Approves Study of Voting Paper Trail

Associated Press

ATLANTA - The state Senate on Monday unanimously approved a plan that could lead to paper ballots being added to Georgia's electronic voting machines.

"My hope is that this legislation will take us one more step forward toward having the most trustworthy, secure voting system in the country," said Sen. Bill Stephens, R-Canton, the plan's sponsor and a candidate for secretary of state in this year's election.

According to the plan, which passed 51-0, precincts in Bibb, Camden and Cobb counties would be outfitted with the paper balloting for November's general election.

If all went well, the state could add the receipts to all of its voting machines by the 2008 presidential election, Stephens said.

Under current SoS Cathy Cox, Georgia switched to an all-electronic voting system in 2002 in the aftermath of the chaotic presidential vote in Florida.

Under the Stephens plan, voters don't keep a copy of their ballot, but instead would be able to review the paper receipt under a clear, plastic cover before finalizing their vote.

The paper ballots could be used in the event of a recount or other challenge to an election's vote total.

Cox, a Democrat running for governor, supports the bill.

Senate Democratic Leader Robert Brown, of Macon, said he supports the measure, but would have liked to see at least one rural county participate in the pilot program and to have seen more counties involved in the test.

The plan now goes to the House. Senate Bill 500,

Voting machine stolen from elections judge

FABULOUS SECURITY! I hope that the e-Voting machine is returned . . . AFTER the thief figures out where all of the flaws are (and submits a report to the public)!

Voting machine stolen from elections judge

11:50 AM CST on Monday, March 6, 2006
From Dallas News - Staff Reports

An electronic voting machine was stolen from the home of a Dallas County elections judge over the weekend.

Sgt. Don Peritz, a Dallas County Sheriff spokesman, said the judge notified sheriff's dispatchers Sunday afternoon that the iVotronic touch-screen machine was stolen from his home in the 200 block of East 5th Street.

Dallas County Elections Administrator Bruce Sherbet said the machine will not function without an additional piece of hardware called a personalized electronic ballot, or PEB.

Mr. Sherbet said his employees identified the serial number of the stolen machine and have blocked it from any access to the elections system, reducing the risk of vote fraud.

Dallas County purchased about 750 of the ADA-compliant special voting machines for visually impaired and blind voters. The machines cost about $3,000 each, roughly the same amount the county puts out for an electronic touch-screen voting machine.

Sgt. Peritz said sheriff's detectives are investigating the theft.

Dallas Morning News staff writer Herb Booth contributed to this report.