Acording to the Initial Report from a landmark independent forensic audit of Venango County, PA’s touch-screen voting system — the same system used in dozens of states across the state and country — someone used a computer that was not a part of county’s election network to remotely access the central election tabulator computer, illegally, “on multiple occasions.” Despite the disturbing report, as obtained by The BRAD BLOG and posted in full below, we may never get to learn who did it or why, if Venango’s County Commissioners, a local judge, and the nation’s largest e-voting company have their way. And that’s not all we won’t get to find out about.
The battle for election integrity continues in Venango, with the County Commissioners teaming up with e-voting vendor Election Systems & Software, Inc. (ES&S) on one side, and the county’s renegade interim Republican-majority Board of Elections on the other. The Commissioners and ES&S have been working to spike the independent scientific forensic audit of the county’s failed electronic voting machines that was commissioned by the interim Board of Elections. Making matters worse, the Board has now been removed from power by a county judge, a decision they are attempting to appeal as the three-person board and their supporters continue to fight the entrenched establishment for transparency and accountability in the rural Western Pennsylvania county. Read More
On Friday. U.S. Representative Glenn Harper [R-MS] posted a press release on Facebook suggesting that the two remaining members of the U.S. Election Assistance Commission had resigned, leaving the agency with no members and rendering the EAC, in his words, a “ZOMBIE AGENCY.” Harper, of course, is the sponsor of recent legislation to terminate the EAC, which was approved earlier this month in a largely party-line vote in the House. If indeed the EAC is now empty (while the resignations aren’t yet public, I have no reason to doubt the reports are accurate) we may be seeing the beginning of the end of the EAC and its duties under the Help America Vote Act of 2002 (HAVA).
There will be lots of opportunities to discuss the work of the EAC – and more importantly, what will happen to that work if the agency does indeed disappear – but as part of that discussion I think Congress as an institution needs to own its role in the birth and life of the EAC and what impact it might have had on the agency’s performance and potential demise. Read More
The Supreme Court Friday night blocked a redistricting plan for Texas drawn by a panel of federal judges, putting the justices in the middle of a partisan battle over how the state’s electoral maps should change to recognize the state’s burgeoning minority population.
Texas had objected to the judicially drawn maps, which analysts said would increase chances for Democrats and minorities, and favored maps drawn by the Republican-dominated legislature. Attorney General Greg Abbott (R) requested the Supreme Court’s intervention; the justices will hear arguments Jan. 9. Candidates already have begun to register to run under the districts drawn by the panel of federal judges in San Antonio, and it appears likely the state’s March primaries now will be delayed.
The plans drawn by the legislature do not have the approval needed by several southern states, including Texas, that are covered by a part of the Voting Rights Act that requires federal “pre-clearance” of any electoral changes that could affect minority political power.
More than half a dozen states have passed new laws to reduce early voting, setting up a clash with civil rights groups and Democrats who claim the rules could disenfranchise minority voters in the 2012 election for the White House and Congress. Among states with new restrictions: Wisconsin and Florida, presidential swing states that also are key battlegrounds in the fight for control of the U.S. Senate, where Democrats hold a narrow advantage.
In Florida, nearly 3.3 million Democrats cast in-person ballots before Election Day in the 2008 contest that swept President Obama into power. By contrast, 810,666 Florida Republicans participated in the in-person early voting that year, according to the Florida secretary of State’s office. Obama won the state by 3 percentage points.
Five other states — Ohio, Georgia, Maine, Tennessee and West Virginia— this year approved laws shortening early voting, according to the non-partisan National Conference of State Legislatures. With the exception of West Virginia, Republicans control the governor’s offices and legislatures in those states. The Republican-controlled Legislature in another key presidential battleground state, North Carolina, plans to revisit a proposal next year to reduce early voting from 16 days to 10. Read More
Remember those stifling hot days back in July, when the air conditioning was turned off in some Bucks County-owned buildings for a few hours in the late afternoon? Turns out the move might save taxpayers some money. Commissioner Chairman Charley Martin said at Wednesday’s commissioners meeting that the county hit two of the five peak days recorded by power companies and “we’ll get some revenue back. So that’s a good thing.”
… Commissioner Diane Marseglia voted against spending $171,000 for a warranty extension and software license fee for the county’s Danaher electronic voting machines. “Are we ever getting out of this contract?” she asked.
Martin, who was the top vote-getter in the Nov. 8 election in which Republicans held their board majority, quickly responded, “Look at the great results we got for the last election, commissioner. We’re happy to use these machines.” Most in the room enjoyed a laugh. Read More
Civil rights activists protested stricter voting laws Saturday with a march from the New York offices of Koch Industries, whose owners have supported an organization that favors tighter safeguards against election fraud.
“You can’t accomplish anything if you’re not prepared to fight,” said U.S. Rep. Charles Rangel, wearing a hat with embroidered with “NAACP.” Rangel and other labor leaders and politicians said they wanted to roll back new voting rules passed in several states.
Some of the laws passed in more than a dozen states around the country include requiring photo IDs at the ballot box and restricting voting by ex-felons. Critics say the laws will have a negative effect on blacks, Latinos, students and the elderly. Read More
Ruthelle Frank was born Aug. 21, 1927, in her home in Brokaw. It was a hard birth; there were complications. A doctor had to come up from Wausau to see that she and her mother made it through. Frank ended up paralyzed on the left side of her body. To this day, she walks with a shuffle and doesn’t have much use of one arm.
Her mother recorded her birth in the family Bible. Frank still has it. A few months later, when Ruthelle was baptized, her mother got a notarized certificate of baptism. She still has that document, too. What she never had – and in 84 years, never needed – was a birth certificate.
But without a birth certificate, Frank cannot get a state ID card. And without a state ID card, according to Wisconsin’s new voter ID law, she won’t be able to vote next year. A diminutive, fiery woman who has voted in every election since 1948 and is an elected official herself, Frank finds the prospect of being turned away from the polls infuriating. Read More
A senior member of the House of Representatives has called on the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to study its options on whether to lease the Precinct Optical Scan (PCOS) machines for the 2013 and 2016 elections or to just buy them, whichever is advantageous to the government in financing the elections.
Puwersa ng Masang Pilipino Rep. Rufus Rodriguez of Cagayan de Oro has filed House Resolution 1909, urging the House’s Committee on Suffrage and Electoral Reforms to conduct an inquiry on the plans of the Comelec to lease new PCOS machines for the 2013 elections at a cost of P8 billion, instead of purchasing the same PCOS machines that were used during the 2010 elections for only P1.8 billion, taking into consideration the huge savings for government.
Rodriguez said the Comelec can purchase the PCOS machines for the 2013 and 2016 polls by paying the balance of 33 percent, or P1.8 billion, under its contract with Smartmatic, a private company which owns the PCOS machines. However, Rodriguez cautioned that if the Comelec would lease the machines from Smartmatic for the 2013 and 2016 elections, the government would spend P22 billion. Read More
Dmitry Peskov told the AFP news agency: “Even if you add up all this so-called evidence, it accounts for just over 0.5 percent of the total number of votes.
“So even if hypothetically you recognise that they are being contested in court, then in any case, this can in no way affect the question of the vote’s legitimacy or the overall results.”
His comments followed an order from President Dmitry Medvedev for election authorities to look into reports of vote-fixing after the ruling party’s narrow victory sparked the largest protest rallies since the 1990s. Mr Medvedev was roundly humiliated however after his Facebook page, in which he posted a message denouncing Saturday’s 50,000-strong rally in Moscow, was flooded by protesters criticising the Russian president.
The post, which came on the same day that the controversial head of the elections commission avoided an attempt to remove him, sparked disbelief and disgust and within two hours more than 3,500 people had posted comments, the vast majority overwhelmingly negative. Read More
Mikhail Prokhorov, one of Russia’s richest tycoons and the owner of the New Jersey Nets basketball team, said Monday he will run against Prime Minister Vladimir Putin in the March presidential election.
Prokhorov, whose wealth Forbes magazine has estimated at $18 billion, has been cautious not to cross Putin’s path in the past. But the tycoon’s candidacy may now pose a serious challenge to Putin, whose authority has been dented by his party’s poor showing in Russia’s Dec. 4 parliamentary election and allegations of widespread fraud during the balloting.
Putin’s party only won about 50 percent of that vote, compared to 64 percent four years ago, and the fraud allegations have allowed opposition parties to successfully mount massive anti-Putin protests in Russia. “The society is waking up,” Prokhorov said at the news conference in Moscow to announce his candidacy. “Those authorities who will fail to establish a dialogue with the society will have to go.” Read More
Dmitry Medvedev, in the wake of protests by thousands of Russians, announced over the weekend that the results of the Dec. 4 parliamentary elections would be recounted. But the election, which many western observers pronounced as fraudulent, also may be the reason that Vladimir Putin will face a new and stronger challenger in the upcoming presidential election. A week of protests in Russia have forced President Dmitry Medvedev to agree to a review of bitterly contested parliamentary elections.
Tens of thousands of protesters took to the streets of Moscow over the weekend in protests and on Sunday, Medvedev agreed to investigate perceived improprieties in the elections. Monitors from the European Union and United States described irregularities including ballot box stuffing.
Medvedev made his announcement on Facebook, saying there would be investigations into allegations of voter fraud. Read More
Syrians on Monday headed to about 14,500 ballot boxes nationwide to take part in the municipal elections for the country’s 14 governorates, a move that is considered as a showcase of Syria’s new democracy at a time when the unabated violence in some flash points scores new victims.
The elections, held every four years, come at a time when Syria is facing unparalleled internal and external pressures and is struggling to hunt down what it called terrorist gangs messing with its security and stability and carrying out foreign agenda to spark chaos and instability in the country. According to official statistics, 42,889 candidates were competing for 17,588 council seats, as some 14,500 ballot boxes have been distributed over 7,500 electoral center across Syria.
Minister of Local Administration Omar Ghalawanji urged Syrians to vote and practice their “constitutional right in choosing their representatives at the local administration council.” “The Syrian people are showing a determination to complete the construction of democratic life that is no longer a mere slogan but rather a genuine practice cherished throughout the past years,” state-run SANA news agency quoted Ghalawanji as saying. Read More
Tunisia’s constituent assembly has adopted a provisional constitution that sets the stage for the country to name a new government, nearly two months after its first post-revolution election. The 217-member assembly, elected in November, individually approved each of the 26 clauses of the document to get state institutions back on the move.
The adopted document outlines the conditions and procedures to be followed by the country’s executive, legislature and judiciary until general elections are held, possibly in a year, and a final constitution is agreed.
The vote – 141 in favour, 37 against and 39 abstentions from a boycotting opposition – came after a tumultuous five-day debate that saw thousands of people demonstrating outside the assembly building, at times over what role Islam should play in the country’s new order. Read More
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe was endorsed again by his party to stand for elections expected next year, but analysts say even for a veteran political survivor, the 87-year-old leader will find it harder to convince voters to extend his rule after 32 years in power.
Mugabe, they said, would face young voters, many born after independence from Britain in 1980, who may not be overly impressed with his party’s tales of its leadership role in the liberation struggle and are instead desperate to find jobs in the country which has the world’s highest unemployment rate.
Zanu-PF members want Mugabe to hand over the reins to a younger leader, but nobody has ever openly challenged him due to a generous political patronage system and his ability to patiently wear down opponents and keep them guessing on his next move. Read More