Monday, November 19, 2007

2008 Elections - Rigged for the Republicans?

Elliot D. Cohen: The Fate of a Free Presidential Election in 2008 May Now Depend on the Senate:
by Elliot D. Cohen

Submitted by BuzzFlash on Mon, 11/19/2007 - 10:24am.

In 1972, Nixon's burglars, all members of the Committee to Reelect the President, had to risk breaking into Democratic National Headquarters to try to gain an unfair election advantage for the GOP over its Democratic opponent. Now, with Total Information Awareness in place, the Bush White House may not even have to flip a switch to have the Dems' private e-mails and phone conversations delivered to its doorstep. Unfortunately, this may only be the tip of the iceberg for the fate of free elections in America if Congress decides to grant legal status and retroactive immunity to this massive surveillance and data mining operation conducted by giant telecoms on behalf of the President.
Last week, the Senate Judiciary Committee failed to decide on provisions of the FISA Amendments Act of 2007 that would grant telecom corporations ironclad retroactive immunity against civil suits and criminal prosecution for helping the Bush Administration engage in systematic, widespread, warrantless surveillance and data mining of the contents of both domestic and foreign phone and e-mail messages of Americans since at least 2001, and possibly earlier. Instead, the Committee sent two versions of the bill to the full Senate, one of which granted retroactive immunity to telecoms and the other of which did not. Now, the fate of Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable search and seizure -- including its implications for the future of free and fair elections in America -- rests in the hands of the Senate.
In The New York Times article on November 14, 2002, William Safire warned about the dangers of the Total Information Awareness project:
"Every purchase you make with a credit card, every magazine subscription you buy and medical prescription you fill, every Web site you visit and e-mail you send or receive, every academic grade you receive, every bank deposit you make, every trip you book and every event you attend -- all these transactions and communications will go into what the Defense Department describes as ''a virtual, centralized grand database.'' To this computerized dossier on your private life from commercial sources, add every piece of information that government has about you -- passport application, driver's license and bridge toll records, judicial and divorce records, complaints from nosy neighbors to the F.B.I., your lifetime paper trail plus the latest hidden camera surveillance -- and you have the supersnoop's dream: a ''Total Information Awareness'' about every U.S. citizen.
"In the same article, Safire also maintained that the project had been given a $200 million budget to create computer dossiers on 300 million Americans.
But in 2003, the dangers of which Safire warned were addressed by Congress, or at least so it seemed. Amid outcry from civil liberties advocates, this TIA project, which then operated under the Department of Defense (DOD), was defunded. However, under a classified addendum to the Department of Defense Appropriation Act for fiscal year 2004, lawmakers secretly continued funding of TIA component technologies. It did so under two conditions: first, these technologies were transferred to a government agency other than the DOD; and second, they were used only for foreign surveillance and not for spying on American citizens.

According to a 2006 article published in the National Journal, the program was subsequently transferred to an arm of the National Security Agency (NSA). This technology acquired by NSA included technology for integrating the various components of the program as well as artificial intelligence for searching and analyzing massive amounts of electronic message content, according to predefined search criteria. Since the TIA project's R&D also included translating voice messages such as telephone conversations in diverse spoken languages into searchable text messages, it is reasonable to believe that the NSA also had access to such language translation software.
It is therefore not likely a coincidence that the same type of technology as just described now appears to be deployed by the NSA in a massive surveillance and data mining operation being conducted with the assistance of telecom corporations, notably AT&T. Currently pending against AT&T are at least 30 civil suits, including a class action suit filed by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) alleging that AT&T helped the NSA to illegally spy on the phone and e-mail messages of millions of Americas by copying and routing all incoming electronic messages to secret rooms hidden deep inside major AT&T hubs within the United States. According to EFF, these secret rooms, which require NSA clearance, contain "powerful computer equipment connected to separate networks." "This equipment," it claims, "is designed to analyze communications at high speed, and can be programmed to review and select out the contents and traffic patterns of communications according to user-defined rules."
Apparently, the TIA project, presumed to have been scrapped in 2003, is not now just in the research and development stage; it has actually been deployed. Seen in this light, the recent merger between AT&T and Southern Bell takes on new significance. Whatever else it portends, the granting of this merger by a Bush top-heavy Federal Communication Commission can also be seen as a logistical move to expand the sweep of TIA. This also explains why AT&T was willing to cooperate with the White House in engaging in surveillance activities, the legality of which its army of attorneys could have well anticipated would eventually be challenged -- and could easily expose the corporation to costly lawsuits. Like other corporate decisions, AT&T's decision had to be based on a careful cost-benefit analysis with the prospect of lucrative mergers such as the one with Southern Bell weighing in on the positive side. At the same time, this also explains why the Bush Administration now seeks to shield AT&T from civil and criminal liability for its assistance. To do otherwise would not only be to expose its own unlawful, clandestine surveillance of American citizens -- including the lies it has disseminated to the public about such activity having been restricted to foreign surveillance; but also it would place in peril the infrastructure of a massive surveillance and data mining system that has the potential to intercept, store, search, and analyze the flow of information coming into and out of the United States.
With the present deployment of TIA, it may be pointless to speak of democracy. Free elections are no longer possible when the regime in power has the ability to control the transfer of information. In fact, in a March 7, 2007 report, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) has expressed concerns about relying on telecommunication services for transmitting electronic votes from individual polling stations to a central tabulation center. It states,
"Computer security experts have raised concerns... about voting system standards that are not sufficient to address the weaknesses inherent in telecommunications and networking services. ...Regarding telecommunications and networking services, selected computer security experts believe that relying on any use of telecommunications or networking services, including wireless communications, exposes electronic voting systems to risks that make it difficult to adequately ensure their security and reliability -- even with safeguards such as encryption and digital signatures in place.
"While the issues surrounding electronic voting are highly technical and controversial, it is beyond question that a telecom such as AT&T that strains the electronic flow of information, according to undisclosed search criteria, could also in principle act as a so-called "man in the middle" by intercepting, analyzing, and changing votes before they reach their final destination.
If telecoms become immune from investigation, then such voter fraud could be carried out en mass without the possibility of judicial review. There would be nothing more destructive to the existence of democracy than the inability for transfer of power to occur by a free election, according to the rule of law and a constitutional procedure.
The fate of democracy may therefore now be in the hands of Congress. If retroactive legal immunity is given to telecom corporations, this will not only mark the beginning of the end for the Fourth Amendment but also for democracy in America. Sadly, those Americans who quip that, in the interest of defending freedom and democracy, they do not care if their phone and e-mail messages are examined by government, do not grasp the self-defeating nature of what they are saying. In giving up their Fourth Amendment rights, they will have also given up their democracy.
Presently, the American Civil Liberties Organization (ACLU), in addition to a few other advocacy organizations, is working against granting telecoms retroactive legal immunity. Americans who want to preserve democracy have a moral obligation to send a letter to their Senators telling them to block passage of this measure.

We Must Stop the Rigging of the 2008 Elections
More information, interesting articles, and lots of links to check at this site. The information below is from the site.

The 2000, 2002, and 2004 elections were clearly stolen by the Republicans, led by Karl Rove and his Nazi operatives. John Kerry showed himself to be a ringer; his cowardly refusal to contest the 2004 election proved beyond doubt that he was a shill for the demonic cabal, pretending to be a genuine Democratic candidate.
The fact that the votes of the American people in 2006 were allowed to be counted somewhat fairly does not change the fact of the previous rigging of elections by the Republicans. Contrary to Democratic leaders and self-appointed "progressive" pundits, we must continue to work for election reform:
How American Elections Became a Criminal Enterprise I
How American Elections Became a Criminal Enterprise II
Bobby Kennedy, Jr.: How the 2004 Election Was Stolen
Fitrakis Exposes Manjoo Lies
The Specifics of Republican Election Rigging
Kerry Actually Won the 2004 Election!
Even in the 2006 election, in many Republican stronghold states and precincts GOP rigging of elections most likely occurred--investigations are still pending.
In the June 6, 2006 U.S. House special run-off election in California's 50th congressional district, SD County Registrar of Voters, Mikel Haas, apparently approved by California's Secretary of State Bruce McPherson, openly admitted that tamperable and hackable electronic voting machines in San Diego County were completely comprimised by sending the machines home with poll workers, in some cases for weeks at a time, prior to the election.
Unfortunately, like Kerry, Francine Busby folded her tents and refused to contest a clearly rigged election. In the 2006 regular election, there appear to have been election irregularities in the Busy-Bilbray race again. Whether a legitimate investigation will be carried remains to be seen.
If we're to have any chance of stopping the continuing Republican theft of elections in the forseeable future, we must find Democratic or third-party candidates willing and courageous enough to contest an election when that becomes necessary.
Some otherwise intelligent progressives feel--for all the wrong reasons--that contesting elections is unsporting or is the sign of a mean-spirited conspiracy-nut mentality. Ernest Partridge, Co-Editor of the Crisis Papers, quite aptly calls these people "gulliberals." The list includes Al Franken, Paul Begalla, Arianna Huffington, David Corn, Bernie Sanders, and some writers for and Mother Jones. How much evidence of criminal behavior do these so-called liberals require before they realize that stealing elections is the same kind of Bush junta behavior as lying about weapons of mass destruction, domestic spying, and rampant criminal behavior in all arenas.
The fact that the cabal has pushed computerized voting to the extent they have--making federal money available, meeting in secret in 2004 to plan a propaganda blitz, involving all the conspirators in the criminal action--this made it clear that they saw computerized voting as the way to steal any election they choose to.
One of a series of studies indicating that current touch-screen technology is seriously flawed is a published study that documents a host of security flaws in a leading touch-screen voting system. This report has caused election officials across the United States to question the use of electronic voting machines. The report comes from a team of computer experts from Johns Hopkins and Rice University who examined the “source code,” the software that runs the Diebold AccuVote-TS voting system used in 37 states.
In light of this recent study, Representative Rush Holt (D-N.J.) stated that “unless Congress acts to pass legislation that would make sure that all computer voting machines have a paper record that voters can verify when they cast their ballots, voters and election officials will have no way of knowing whether the computers are counting votes properly.” Holt has introduced a new bill, H.R. 2239, which would require computerized voting machines to provide voter-verified audit trails.
In the presidential election of 2000, our right to elect our leaders was hijacked and we are now being ruled by a junta who rigged the election in Florida through criminal action and perpetrated a coup d'etat with the complicity of the Supreme Court. It is absolutely imperative that we fight to regain our voting rights and take back our country from this puppet of the demonic cabal. As Thomas Paine indicated, without our voting rights we are reduced to the status of slaves.
Hitler rose to power through a rigged election in 1933 Germany in exactly the same way Bush II did in 2000 America. The cowed German people in 1933 refused to rise up against Hitler and the Nazi horror ensued.
The growing list of Bush II's terrorist acts against the American people and the world now stares us in the face. Decent Americans are ashamed to view Dubya's face on TV or in newspapers and realize that we have allowed this mindless gangster to remain in power.

"If voting changed anything, they'd make it illegal."
Emma Goldman

The Menace of Electronic Manipulation of Voting Data

In the 2000, the midterm 2002, and the 2004 elections, electronic manipulation of voting data meant that our democratic right to have our votes counted fairly and accurately was taken from us by the Bush junta.
Greg Palast, the investigative reporter for BBC and the Observer, was the first to expose the 2000 Florida vote crimes. He discovered that ninety-four thousand (94,000) people -- over half of them African American --were put on a "scrub list" in Florida by then Secretary of State Katherine Harris and Governor Jeb Bush. This criminal behavior resulted in the people on the scrub list being blocked from voting in the 2000 election.
When the NAACP sued the voting data company, ChoicePoint's DBT, for violating the civil rights of thousands of Florida black citizens, they won their suit. DBT admitted that only 5% of the people listed on the "scrub list" were unqualified to vote. In other words, 89,300 voters on the 2000 scrub list should be re-entered on the Florida election rolls as qualified voters. Florida did not rectify this mistake and reinstate the illegally disqualified voters by the time of the 2002 election. And as yet there is no evidence to indicate that they have been reinstated for the 2004 election.
The fact that Jeb Bush and Katherine Harris were never prosecuted for this heinous crime is part of the Bush II junta's long line of illegal activities, which include the much delayed-prosecution of such criminals as Bush friend, Ken Lay.
Because of the use of electronic voting, we can't be sure that key races in 2002--such as that of Mondale in Minnesota and Carnahan in Missouri and the entire 2004 election--were not the result of massive vote fraud. We can be sure that the last Florida gubernatorial race was completely fixed. In Georgia, the supposed defeat of Democratic incumbent and war-hero Max Cleland by Saxby Chambliss was very likely a vote-rigging effort on the part of the state officials in charge.
November 2002, Baldwin County, Alabama - No one at the voting machine company can explain the mystery votes that changed after polling places had closed, flipping the election from the Democratic winner to a Republican in the Alabama governor’s race. “Something happened. I don’t have enough intelligence to say exactly what,” said Mark Kelley of ES&S. Baldwin County results showed that Democrat Don Siegelman earned enough votes to win the state of Alabama. All the observers went home. The next morning, however, 6,300 of Siegelman’s votes inexplicably had disappeared, and the election was handed to Republican Bob Riley. A recount was requested, but denied.
In a recent interview with Guerilla News Network, Greg Palast provided even more disturbing information about the Bush junta vote scam:
"What’s new on the election story? It’s grim. Our president has signed the Help America Vote Act. When George W. Bush is going to help me vote, I’m concerned. "They’re pushing it to go digital, and I think a lot of people are getting distracted worrying about the hacking. The real game is what the Civil Rights Commission calls the “no count,” which is machines that don’t work, power failures, machines that lock up. Hey, you have a laptop, right? Your presidency is hanging on it. This isn’t about whether the machines work or not—they work perfectly. That’s where I investigated. I went into Broward County’s white precinct where touch screen voting works just wonderful, like a coconut oil massage. Real smooth. And you go into the black precincts and it’s like plantation whips brought out in digital form. Precincts were shut down for hours while they told people, come back tomorrow. Power failures. You name it. In the black community, thousands of votes were lost in Broward County with the touch screen vote. "In the new edition of the book, I am revealing something that was discovered by the Civil Rights Commission in their raw data. 1.9 million votes were cast and never counted in the last election. Thrown in the friggin’ garbage cans. Half of those were cast by African-Americans. And it’s state after state after state, with all kinds of different machines. The biggest game they play is saying “blacks don’t have education, they can’t figure out the ballot.” That’s a wonderful little racist out. If you give black people the same machines, they have the same vote count as white people. Election supervisors told me they told the Jebster about it beforehand. You can’t find this stuff in mainstream newspapers. Ted Koppel runs this story and it’s, “blacks is too dumb to figure out how to vote.” Dig: You’re one thousand times more likely to lose your vote if you’re black than if you’re white."
Election Rigging 2008--Here It Comes!At present, there is no effective way to guard against election fraud when electronic, touch screen voting is used in specific precincts. For example, votes can easily be lost through "software glitches" and Democratic votes can mysteriously become Republican votes and no one can prove the rigging took place.
The "touch" screen computers are made by ES&S, the vendor chosen by Katherine Harris, then Florida Secretary of State and current congressperson. The lobbyist who sold that company's system to Jeb and Katherine was Sandy Mortham, founder of Women for Jeb and Harris' predecessor as Secretary of State. Mortham was the person who instigated the scam in 1998 to find black voters who could be disqualified.
ES&S machines, not surprisingly, failed to work in black precincts in 2002. And with electronic voting there is ordinarily no paper ballot back-up.

"When you become entitled to exercise the right of voting for public officers, let it be impressed on your mind that God commands you to choose for rulers, 'just men who will rule in the fear of God.' The preservation of [our] government depends on the faithful discharge of this Duty; if the citizens neglect their Duty and place unprincipled men in office, the government will soon be corrupted; laws will be made, not for the public good so much as for selfish or local purposes; corrupt or incompetent men will be appointed to execute the Laws; the public revenues will be squandered on unworthy men; and the rights of the citizen will be violated or disregarded. If [our] government fails to secure public prosperity and happiness, it must be because the citizens neglect the Divine Commands, and elect bad men to make and administer the Laws."
Noah Webster (1758-1843)

The Republican-dominated Congress has pushed through new legislation that gives the Secretaries of State almost total control in purging voters from the election rolls. Previously, local election boards controlled this process and representatives of both Parties in local precincts watched the process carefully. With these new laws, there is a significant threat that partisan Secretaries of States will create voting rolls that favor Republicans.
Three companies (Election System & Software-ES&S, Diebold, and Sequoia) tabulate as much as 85 percent of the vote in the United States. These voting machine companies are privately held, with the second largest (Sequoia) foreign-owned.
Key members of active political campaigns own stock in some of the voting machine companies, constituting an obvious conflict of interest. For example, Senator Chuck Hagel (R-NE) and his campaign treasurer, Michael R. McCarthy, hold top executive positions and have investments in companies that produce the machines that counted Hagel's votes for the 1996 and 2002 elections. A number of investigators of voting machine "glitches" have discovered that most often these benefit Republican candidates rather than Democratic candidates.
"The vitality of America's democracy depends on the fairness and accuracy of America's elections," President George W. Bush said as he signed Help America Vote Act into law on October 29, 2002. This act allocated $3.9 billion in federal money to the states over the next three years to buy electronic voting machines to replace paper ballot voting systems. It's clear from Bush's endorsement of this bill that it's part of the overall Republican game plan to deliver all electoral precincts into the hands of the voting-machine manipulators.
The handful of election technology companies that have positioned themselves to reap the bulk of the money from the legislation all have direct ties to the Republican party in general and to Republican politicians in particular. The most expensive direct recording electronic (DRE) system (computerized touch-screen voting machine) is the one these companies are pushing most aggressively across the United States.
DRE computerized touch-screen voting machines offer no real-time verification of a vote beyond what appears on the screen. The source codes behind these machines are proprietary to the company that makes them. Any computer programmer knows that it is a simple matter to add a line of code to switch votes from one candidate to another or lose those votes you don't want recorded.
Palm Beach County, Florida, the county plagued by the chad-recount issue in November 2000, spent $14.5 million in 2002 to purchase 3800 new touch-screen voting machines from Sequoia Voting Systems.
Florida: A Long History of Election Rigging
Florida seems to be the vote fraud capital of the United States. It's clear that's why Florida--with Jeb Bush as governor--was chosen by the Bush family controllers as the scene for the Stealing of the Presidency, 2000.
From 1970-1989, Journalists James and Kenneth Collier discovered a string of vote fraud activities going on in a number of Florida counties. The brothers actually managed to videotape members of the League of Women voters forging ballots and found hard evidence that Shouptronics and Printomatic voting machines were rigged in the Dade County Elections. Their book Votescam: The Stealing of America was the result of their long-term investigations.
Along with attorney Ellis Rubin, the Colliers turned over the evidence to the Assistant State Attorney for Florida. Unfortunately, that happened to be Janet Reno, who killed the investigation immediately. Mike Wallace of 60 Minutes taped a segment on the Dade County Vote Fraud, but it never aired.
Investigations into Electronic Vote Rigging
Independent tests on computerized touch-screen voting machines and other electronic voting technology have shown repeatedly that there is no way to assure that vote tampering has not occurred at any step in the election process.
A 1988 test of Illinois voting machines worked with tens of thousands of ballots instead of the few dozen normally used for the accuracy testing. The results: over one fourth of the machines which had passed the standard accuracy test were found to have mistabulated the larger test vote results.
There is no good reason to change from a paper ballot system to a computerized voting system--except if you plan to rig elections. Most of Europe still uses paper ballots. In Canada's last national election, paper ballots were hand-counted in 4 hours. Yet today, 98% of votes in America are tabulated by voting machines.

"It’s not the voting that’s democracy, it’s the counting.
Tom Stoppard, British playwright

There are a number of dedicated people who investigate the possibility of voting machine fraud on an ongoing basis. One of the most courageous investigators of vote fraud is Bev Harris, who demonstrated how voting machines are being used to rig elections
Harris has proven that votes can be changed, passwords can be bypassed, and audit trails can be altered.

Harris' new book Black Box Voting rips open the world of electronic vote fraud.

Sandeep Atwal's provocative article How George W. Bush Won the 2004 Presidential Election is must reading for Americans intent on taking back their voting rights from the Bush II junta. Rebecca Mercuri, a Research Fellow at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University and president of Notable Software, testifies frequently before Congress and numerous state agencies about computer fraud. She states:

"I am adamantly opposed to the use of fully electronic or Internet-based systems
for use in anonymous balloting and vote tabulation applications. The reasons for
my opposition are manyfold, and are expressed in my writings as well as those of
other well-respected computer security experts. At the present time, it is my
strong recommendation that all election officials REFRAIN from procuring ANY
system that does not provide an indisputable paper ballot."

Three Articles at One Site

Treason Orchestrated to Undermine US Citizens at the Polls

Thanks to a great organization,, and other great sites information is breaking out about the great American Patriot from Emery County, Utah, Bruce Funk. Funk found the Diebold machines put into his care to be faulty, and brought in a third party to check them out, finding them to be frought with problems. This has brought down the wrath of the establishment in Utah against him, and where is the Utah Media? Silent. Silent on critical issues.

County clerk refuses to conduct election with Diebold machines

What started as a routine Emery County Commission meeting on March 21 ended in a flash of anger from Bruce Funk, Emery County Clerk. The drama began last November when the Emery County Commission approved the use of Diebold Election voting machines. The state of Utah voted to use the Diebold as the machine of choice statewide. The state agreed to foot the bill for the purchase of the machines for the counties.
Emery County took delivery of the Diebold machines on Dec. 27, 2005.
At the Feb. 7 commission meeting, Funk reported to the commission on the testing of the Diebold election machines with Diebold personnel. At that time he reported that six of 40 machines had failed and two of those had been repaired and the other four sent back to Diebold. Funk said the state was supposed to have tested the machines before sending them to the county. Bad batteries and jammed printers as well as machines with old elections stored on them were among the problems cited. The state was supposed to send new machines to the county.
“I don’t feel comfortable with the machines,” said Funk. Funk said he would not accept or use the Diebold machines as the election official for the county. The ballot provider who has been used in the past said they can’t provide the ballots for Diebold machines.

Black Box Voting : From BBV: Touch-screens fails security test; Diebold retaliates

The state of Utah has known that a critical security risk exists in its Diebold TSx touch-screens, but chose to punish the courageous public official responsible for identifying the defect instead oftaking any efforts to learn what the problem is and correct it.
Utah officials ignored the warning entirely, and instead flew Diebold attorneys to Emery County on the governor's airplane, where theDiebold lawyers were allowed to sit into a private executive session. In this session, a decision appears to have been made to block Emery County Elections director Bruce Funk from executing his duties.
In Utah, the law requires that any employment decision be publicly noticed (it was not) and the county attorney is the designated counsel for county elections officials (County Attorney David Blackwell chose to side with Diebold against Bruce Funk). According to a taperecording of the public portion of the meeting, Bruce Funk repeatedly requested an attorney, but this was denied to him.
Will the Supreme Court Steal the Election for the Republicans in 2008? Will California Become the Next Florida?
Mark Karlin, Editor and Publisher,
November 23, 2007
To begin the BuzzFlash editor’s blog, I ran a series on how the Republican blitzkrieg to fill the federal bench with partisan hacks – beginning seriously with the Reagan Administration – has profoundly and negatively impacted the Constitutional balance of powers. We used the example of how D.C U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Judge David Sentelle has been a Zelig at protecting the interests of Republican executive branch powers and illegalities, and how just one jurist can alter the course of democracy to serve partisan interests.
But for many of us, we need only go back to election 2000 to remember how despite lower court rulings to the contrary, Nino Scalia led a Supreme Court coup to put George W. Bush in power even though he had lost the national election by more than 540,000 votes and would have lost the Florida race if all the votes had been counted. Scalia’s original explanation of why the recount in Florida should be halted was based, he wrote, on the absurd and mind-boggling "concern" that, in essence, if all the votes were counted it might undercut the credibility of the presumed winner, George W. Bush.
In short, Scalia halted the right of a state to run its own election count because the results might make Al Gore the victor and, therefore, make it harder for Bush to assume the presidency once the Supreme Court made a decision to rule that the recount was not valid. So Scalia nullified the votes of American citizens so that he and the other felonious four could appoint Bush and Cheney before it could be determined that they had actually lost the election.
And so, after Scalia’s bizarrely illogical and legally untenable court order, the Supreme Court issued a ruling – in the dark of the night – that Gore had lost, but that the ruling would only apply to that particular case and would not set a precedent. In short, for Bush and Cheney, "we will make a partisan exception to the role of state’s rights in elections and the right of every vote to be counted."
That brings us to the on-again, off-again, on-again effort (initiated and originally funded by a Giuliani backer) in California to place a referendum on the June ballot to proportionally award the electoral votes of the largest state in the Union. The inevitable result would be to give the Republican presidential candidate approximately as many electoral votes from the State of California as – let’s say – Ohio. Of course, as it currently stands without the passage of the proposition -- short of some GOP miracle -- California, the largest state in the Union, will award all its electoral votes to the Democratic nominee, whoever that might be.
So let’s say that the GOP's latest dirty trick (petition signatures are currently being collected, with charges that many people are being deceived about what they are signing) succeeds in getting the electoral split on the ballot in the California primary (some say that it might have to wait to be on the ballot until the November presidential election, but with wording that it would be effective for that election). And let’s assume that it passes (if it makes it to the ballot), which is a distinct possibility according to some polling.
Well, using a referendum process to alter the allocation of electoral votes by a proposition could become a Constitutional question, because it can be legally argued that such a decision is solely the province of a state legislature, as one possible challenge would contend.
So then let’s say that the Democratic Party or another plaintiff -- the Democratic Presidential Candidate -- asks the courts to declare such a referendum, if passed, as not legally enforceable. And let’s assume that the lower courts agree with the plaintiffs and award all the California electoral votes to the Democratic candidate for president.
So we are back to the end of 2000. The Republican candidate makes an emergency appeal to the Supreme Court to hear the case. Nino Scalia – or Roberts, Alito or Thomas – accepts the petition. Kennedy, one of the felonious five, is still on the court.
You got it; now a slightly altered majority (Alito replaced O’Connor) declare that the referendum process was legal and that the Republican candidate for president should be given a proportional share of the California electoral votes – and that allocation would potentially – considering the close electoral split between Dems and Republicans -- be enough to put the GOP candidate in the White House.
Of course, such a ruling would apply to this specific case in California in 2008, right?
Such things are not implausible. It happened in 2000.
It is what occurs when the Democrats confirm Federalist Society hacks whose loyalty is to the extreme right wing and the Republican Party, not to the Constitution.
It is, unfortunately, not a scenario for 2008 that can be easily dismissed.
Democracy can’t survive when one party controls the umpires.
Voting machines could bring Election Day glitches
By Brandon Griggs, CNN
October 30, 2008
(CNN) -- Eight years after Florida's hanging chads exasperated voters and helped usher in sweeping changes in voting technology, many election observers remain concerned about the accuracy of the electronic voting systems most Americans will use November 4.
Touch-screen machines can occasionally fail or register votes for unintended candidates. Optical-scan systems can have trouble reading paper ballots that are too long or marked with the wrong ink. At least one study suggests that electronic voting machines can be easily hacked.
And some 9 million voters, including many in the battleground states of Ohio and Florida, will use equipment that has changed since March, increasing concerns about errors next Tuesday.
"You can be almost certain that there will be irregularities in some places around the country," said Rep. Rush Holt, D-New Jersey. "The problem now is that roughly a third of voters nationwide will use unverifiable electronic machines. So if there are uncertainties, there will be no way to resolve them."
With early voting under way in 31 states, these problems have already surfaced. In recent weeks, voters in West Virginia, Colorado, Tennessee and Texas have reported that touch-screen machines registered their votes, at least initially, for the wrong candidate or party.
This scenario even turns up in Sunday's episode of "The Simpsons," already leaked on the Internet, in which Homer's electronic vote for Barack Obama is recorded for John McCain by a sinister machine that then devours him.
"There are going to be places where voting machines break down. It happens every time there is an election," said Susan Greenhalgh, spokeswoman for Voter Action, a nonpartisan organization dedicated to integrity in elections. "We have to hope that there aren't problems with the accuracy."
For this presidential election, 55 percent of American voters are casting ballots via optical-scan systems, up from 49 percent two years ago. One-third of Americans are voting by electronic touch screen. The state of New York still votes largely by mechanical lever machines -- those curtained relics from the 1960s -- while several small counties in Maine and Vermont still use old-fashioned paper ballots, counted by hand.
And those infamous punch-card systems? They're still used in a handful of counties in Idaho, the last state in the nation to do so. Tell us about your early voting experience
Some observers believe this patchwork quilt of electronic, mechanical and paper balloting from state to state -- even county to county -- makes it more difficult to regulate voting systems. According to a joint report released this month by three nonprofit democracy groups, including Common Cause, 22 states use electronic voting machines that produce no voter-verifiable paper record.
"It's a huge mess," Greenhalgh told CNN. "This is the most important fundamental characteristic of our country. It is our democracy ... and our votes need to be recorded and counted in a way we can trust."
Holt, the New Jersey congressman, has unsuccessfully sought legislation that would establish national standards of verifiable elections. A recent House bill that would reimburse states and counties for backup paper ballots also was defeated.
Election officials nationwide rushed to embrace new voting technology after the disputed 2000 presidential election, in which Florida's punch-card balloting system was blamed for thousands of miscast votes. Congress in 2002 passed the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) to replace punch-card systems with newer, upgraded equipment. The act also created a bipartisan agency, the Election Assistance Commission, to oversee and certify voting systems.
Flush with federal money, many states and counties purchased shiny touch-screen, or direct-recording electronic (DRE) machines. Their simple interface, similar to an ATM's, allow voters to cast votes by pressing a colored area on a display screen.
A University of Missouri study of 2004 voting results found that newer touch-screen machines had an error rate of 1 percent, compared with 1.7 percent for punch-card ballots. But the Election Assistance Commission has yet to certify any of these machines. And election watchdog groups complain many of the machines do not produce a paper record of votes cast, making it difficult to verify disputed results.
"The lessons that some people took away from Florida in 2000 weren't necessarily the right lessons," said Pamela Smith, president of the Verified Voting Foundation, a nonprofit group that advocates for reliable elections. "There was this sense that paper must be bad because of the problems people had with the hanging chads.
"But you need a hard copy record so you can go back and confirm the results," Smith added. "The issue really is about the public having justifiable confidence in the outcome."
Most concerns about electronic voting have focused on touch-screen machines. Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner sued the maker of the touch-screen equipment used in half of Ohio's 88 counties in August after an investigation showed the machines "dropped" votes in recent elections when memory cards were uploaded to computer servers.
Critics also say the machines can be easily manipulated.
Andrew Appel, a professor at Princeton University's Center for Information Technology, issued a report earlier this month that said the touch-screen machines used in 18 New Jersey counties can be hacked into in as little as seven minutes. Appel said that someone could replace a memory chip inside a voting machine with one containing a fraudulent computer program that tweaks the results.
Ken Fields, spokesman for ES&S Inc., one of the four major providers of electronic voting systems in the United States, insists that his company's touch-screen machines have enough safeguards. ES&S machines operate on a closed computer network and contain three independent memory chips that can be cross-referenced against one another to confirm balloting results, he said.
"I assure you the technology is tested rigorously and has to demonstrate that it's precisely accurate and secure," he said. "We can't speak for anybody else. But the experience we have seen is that the equipment works as it's designed, and works well."
Most electronic voting machines are equipped to produce paper records if required by an audit, said David Beirne, executive director of the Election Technology Council, a trade association for voting-system vendors. Recent reports of "vote-flipping" on touch-screen machines -- when a vote for one candidate is recorded as a vote for another -- can be explained by voter error or election workers not properly calibrating the machines, Beirne said.
By 2006, some jurisdictions around the country were mothballing their DRE equipment in favor of optical-scan machines. Voters use a pen or pencil to mark paper ballots, in the way that students fill standardized tests, which are then fed into scanners that record the results.
Many observers believe that optical scanners -- especially ones that count the ballots at the election precinct, not at a central office -- are the most reliable voting method. Those systems' error rate in 2004, according to the University of Missouri study, was 0.7 percent.
If a voter has made a mistake filling out his or her ballot, the optical scanner will spit out out the ballot and give the voter a chance to correct the error before leaving the polling place, Appel said.
"This not a silver bullet. No technology is perfect," Appel told CNN. "But at least the optical scan ballots have a better resistance to [inaccuracies]."
So how can voters on Tuesday be absolutely sure that their ballots are being recorded with 100 percent accuracy? They can't, most election observers say. But election watchdogs and voting-system industry officials agree on one thing: People voting on touch-screen machines should take their time, read the ballot instructions carefully and not be afraid to ask for help.
"If the equipment is not participating the way you think it should be, don't hit the 'cast vote' button," said Rosemary Rodriguez, chair of the federal Election Assistance Commission. "Call an election official, a poll worker for help. Get it addressed immediately and on the spot. There is no going back if you hit the 'cast vote' button."
CNN correspondent Miles O'Brien and CNN producer Marsha Walton contributed to this report.