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Early Voting Sees Reports of Voter Intimidation, Machine Malfunctions October 28, 2008

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Amy Goodman, Democracy, Now!

October 22, 2008

Earlyvotingnewweb

Early Voting Sees Reports of Voter Intimidation, Machine Malfunctions

Early voting has begun, and problems are already emerging at the polls. In West Virginia, voters using touchscreen machines have claimed their votes were switched from Democrat to Republican. In North Carolina, a group of McCain supporters heckled a group of mostly black supporters of Barack Obama. In Ohio, Republicans are being accused of trying to scare newly registered voters by filing lawsuits that question their eligibility. We speak to NYU professor Mark Crispin Miller, author of Loser Take All: Election Fraud and the Subversion of Democracy. [includes rush transcript]

Guest:

Mark Crispin Miller, professor of media culture and communication at New York University. He is the author of several books, most recently Loser Take All: Election Fraud and the Subversion of Democracy, 2000-2008. His previous book is called Fooled Again: How the Right Stole the 2004 Election and Why They’ll Steal the Next One Too.

Rush Transcript

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AMY GOODMAN: Just days after reports that six early voters in at least two West Virginia counties claimed their votes were switched from Democrat to Republican, a couple in Nashville, Tennessee reported similar problems with paperless voting machines. In West Virginia, one voter said, “I hit Obama, and it switched to McCain. I am really concerned about that. If McCain wins, there was something wrong with the machines.”

 

In Tennessee, a filmmaker couple also had difficulties casting their vote for the Democratic candidate, the Brad Blog reports. They had to hit the Obama button several times before it actually registered, and in one case it momentarily flipped from Obama to Green Party candidate Cynthia McKinney. Patricia Earnhardt said, “The McKinney button was located five rows below the Obama button.” The couple in Nashville were using machines made by the same company as those in the counties in West Virginia—by Election Systems and Software.

 

Meanwhile, there are reports of long lines at early voting sites in several other states, including some counties in Texas, Florida, Nevada and New Mexico.

 

Mark Crispin Miller is a media critic who’s been focused on voter problems and election fraud in this country. He’s a professor at New York University, author of several books. Most recently he edited Loser Take All: Election Fraud and the Subversion of Democracy, 2000-2008. His previous book, Fooled Again: How the Right Stole the 2004 Election and Why They’ll Steal the Next One Too.

Mark Crispin Miller now joins us in the firehouse studio. Welcome to Democracy Now!

MARK CRISPIN MILLER: Great to be here.

AMY GOODMAN: What are your concerns right now, Mark?

MARK CRISPIN MILLER: Well, you’ve referred to a couple of them already. We now see a burst of vote flipping by machines, electronic voting machines in a couple of states. This is something that we saw in at least eleven states in the 2004 election, hundreds and hundreds of people coming forward to say, “I pushed the button for Kerry, and the button for Bush lit up.” So, clearly, this was a systematic programming decision by the people in charge of the machines, which in that case and this one is the Republican Party. We’re also seeing systematic shortages of working voting machines in Democratic precincts only. This is also something that did not happen only in Ohio in 2004, but happened nationwide. That election was, in fact, stolen.

AMY GOODMAN: How do you know that?

MARK CRISPIN MILLER: Well, I know because there’s been an audit of the vote in eighteen counties of Ohio by a researcher named Richard Hayes Phillips, who had his team literally scrutinize every single ballot that was warehoused in eighteen Ohio counties. They took over 30,000 digital photographs. This is not speculation, Amy. This is a meticulous, careful, specific and conclusive demonstration that John Kerry actually won some 200,000 votes in those eighteen counties only that were taken away from him. Bush’s official victory margin, you may recall, was about 118,000. So there is no question about it. Ohio was stolen.

AMY GOODMAN: When they—OK, so they have the pictures of all these—

MARK CRISPIN MILLER: Pictures, there’s a CD with this book that you can—

AMY GOODMAN: But they have the pictures of the ballots.

MARK CRISPIN MILLER: Of the variously altered, mutilated ballots, yes. Ballots with stickers placed over the square that people had blacked in for Kerry/Edwards; somebody else blacks in Bush/Cheney. Thousands and thousands of ballots that were pre-marked before they were distributed, so that people would mark different boxes on them, and then they would be invalidated.

Even more chilling is the fact that after Phillips did his research, the boards of elections in fifty-five Ohio counties destroyed all or some of their ballots in defiance of a court order. So we have criminal behavior here of a kind of grand and systematic kind. But the point is—not to engage in what Sarah Palin calls finger-pointing backwards, the point here is to note that we’re dealing with a consistent pattern of subversive behavior by the Republican Party since 2000 and extending all the way up to the present. What we’re seeing now is an especially brazen and diverse range of dirty tricks and tactics that are being used both to suppress the vote and also to enable election fraud.

AMY GOODMAN: Ohio has been very much in the news this past week, not around the issue of voter suppression, but around the issue of fraudulent registration forms, the concern about them being handed in by the organization ACORN.

MARK CRISPIN MILLER: Yeah, the whole ACORN thing is a first-class propaganda drive. ACORN has done nothing wrong. ACORN has, however, been guilty of trying to register low-income citizens to vote. Because they’ve been in the sights of the Republican Party for several years now, they’ve always been extremely scrupulous about checking the registration forms that they garner from their volunteers.

You know, they pay people, basically, to register other voters. So, naturally, from time to time, some volunteer who wants the money will fill out a registration form, you know, with Mickey Mouse or the names of the Dallas Cowboys, something like that. Precisely because that is an ever-present possibility, the people at ACORN have always scrupulously checked the forms before submitting them.

And ten days ago, what they did was, in Las Vegas, their office in Las Vegas, they found a number of these suspicious forms, handed them over directly to the Secretary of State in Nevada, and his response was to turn around and say, “Aha! Here is evidence that you’re conspiring to commit voter fraud.” Now, that effort, that drive went from Nevada to Missouri to Ohio, and now we hear that the FBI is investigating ACORN.

The important point here, Amy, is that voter fraud is practically nonexistent. Several studies have taken a close look at this and found that there really is no voter fraud of this kind.

AMY GOODMAN: Robert Greenwald of Brave New Films has put out a new short film about ACORN and the attacks against them. Let me play an excerpt.

    SEN. JOHN McCAIN: We need to know the full extent of Senator Obama’s relationship with ACORN, who is now on the verge of maybe perpetrating one of the greatest frauds in voter history in this country, maybe destroying the fabric of democracy.

    GOV. SARAH PALIN: John and I are calling on the Obama campaign to release communications it has had with this group and to do so immediately.

    CARMEN ARIAS: These attacks on ACORN are part of a pattern of voter suppression that the GOP has been carrying on for a long time.

    PAUL WEYRICH: They want everybody to vote. I don’t want everybody to vote. Elections are not won by a majority of people. They never have been, from the beginning of our country, and they are not now. As a matter of fact, our leverage in the elections, quite candidly, goes up as the voting populace goes down.

    ANDREW SULLIVAN: The McCain campaign has now two camps. And one of them is already assuming that he’s lost, and he’s aiming for the post-election warfare in the Republican Party, and part of that is the ACORN strategy, which is trying to delegitimize the result in advance, if Obama were to win, by saying it was rigged by minority voters. That’s what this is about.

    SEN. JOHN McCAIN: Someone here keeps yelling “ACORN, ACORN.” Now, let me just say to you, there are serious allegations of voter fraud in the battleground states across America. They must be investigated.

    NATHAN HENDERSON-JAMES: Let’s look at North Carolina. We turned in 28,000 applications in North Carolina, and there are investigations into four of them right now. Over 95 percent of the cards we turned in were error-free. So we’re talking about an extremely small percentage of the overall 1.3 million cards collected. To suggest that this is some kind of widespread criminal conspiracy is just absurd.

    MONTAGE OF NEWSCASTERS: ACORN. ACORN. ACORN—is a left-wing—radical—extremist community group.

    CARMEN ARIAS: This is hardly the first time that these Rove-style tactics have been used to suppress low-income minorities.

    NATHAN HENDERSON-JAMES: They did it in 2000.

    GREG PALAST: Voters were being removed from the registries by the Secretary of State, Katherine Harris.

    NATHAN HENDERSON-JAMES: They did it in 2004.

    UNIDENTIFIED: Evidence has emerged that in the last presidential election the Republican Party organized efforts to suppress the votes of active-duty military, low-income and minority voters by challenging their registrations. The Republicans put in motion a plan to hold down the Democratic vote in key battleground states. Many are convinced that Republican officials broke the law.

    NATHAN HENDERSON-JAMES: And they’re doing it again right now.

    CARMEN ARIAS: Suppressing the low-income minority voters can swing an entire election. A handful of improperly filled-out voter registration cards cannot.

 

AMY GOODMAN: That, an excerpt of a piece by Robert Greenwald and Brave New Films. Professor Mark Crispin Miller?

MARK CRISPIN MILLER: Yeah, well, I think he hit the nail right on the head. The important point to get here is that the party that is itself engaging in disenfranchisement on a massive scale, the deliberate, systematic disenfranchisement of arguably millions of Americans, is clouding the issue by accusing—essentially accusing its victims of doing the same thing. OK?

Voter fraud—I want to repeat this—is virtually nonexistent. There have been several academic studies of this notion of whether individuals actually stuffed ballot boxes or show up at polling places pretending to be somebody else. There’s actually not a single known case of any such type of voter fraud being prosecuted by the Department of Justice. And yet, that notion of voter fraud is used as the pretext for taking steps that do demonstrably result in tens of thousands of people being unable to vote, you see? It’s a really masterful strategy. And I only wish that the Democratic Party had all this time been aggressive in pointing out that the Republicans are the party engaged in disenfranchisement.

AMY GOODMAN: Mark Crispin Miller, we have to break. When we come back, I want to ask you about a man named Stephen Spoonamore—

MARK CRISPIN MILLER: Right.

AMY GOODMAN: —a prominent expert, supposedly, on computer fraud, and what he has to say. Stay with us.

[break]

AMY GOODMAN: Mark Crispin Miller, professor of media, culture and communication at New York University is our guest. His most recent book, Loser Take All. Who is Stephen Spoonamore?

MARK CRISPIN MILLER: Stephen Spoonamore is a conservative Republican, a former McCain supporter and, most importantly, a renowned and highly successful expert at the detection of computer fraud. That’s his profession. He works for major banks. He works for foreign governments. He works for the Secret Service. Those are his clients.

He knows personally the principal players in Bush-Cheney’s conspiracy to subvert our elections through electronic means since 2000, and he has named these principal players. Specifically, he has named a man named Mike Connell. Mike Connell, according to Spoonamore, is Karl Rove’s computer guru. This is the guy who has helped Bush-Cheney fix election results through computers since Florida 2000, in Ohio in 2004, also in the stolen re-election of Governor Don Siegelman in Alabama in 2002, also in the stolen re-election of Senator Max Cleland in Georgia in 2002.

AMY GOODMAN: How?

MARK CRISPIN MILLER: Well, basically, they use a kind of architecture that’s called Man in the Middle, and it involves shunting election returns data through a separate computer somewhere else. This is something that computer criminals do all the time with banks. Spoonamore explains that the Man in the Middle setup is extremely effective and basically undetectable as a way to change election results.

Now, the scariest thing is that Connell told Spoonamore that the reason why he has helped Bush-Cheney steal these elections for the last eight years has been to save the babies. See? We have to understand that there’s a very powerful component of religious fanaticism at work in the election fraud conspiracy. We saw a little bit of that in Greenswald’s film, where Paul Weyrich was talking about how we don’t want people voting.

AMY GOODMAN: The conservative activist.

MARK CRISPIN MILLER: Well, because the majority is a majority of unbelievers. They’re pro-choice. They’re corrupt. They’re evil. They don’t get it. It’s therefore necessary to fix election results in order to prevent the unjust and the unrighteous from taking over.

AMY GOODMAN: Professor Mark Crispin Miller, you keep saying the election was clearly stolen in 2004. This is not a widely held belief. Why do you think more information is not known about this?

MARK CRISPIN MILLER: Because the press and the Democratic Party have steadfastly refused simply to mention, much less discuss, the evidence.

AMY GOODMAN: You talked to John Kerry.

MARK CRISPIN MILLER: I talked to John Kerry. In fact, the last time I was with you, I was here to talk about that conversation with him. On October 28th, 2005, we met. I gave him a copy of my book Fooled Again, and we discussed the last election, and he told me, with some vehemence, that he believed it was stolen.

AMY GOODMAN: In Ohio in 2004—and Ohio, key battleground state right now—

MARK CRISPIN MILLER: Right.

AMY GOODMAN: And we remember at Kenyon, for example, those long, long lines in 2004, people waiting for hours.

MARK CRISPIN MILLER: Right.

AMY GOODMAN: When you talk about the computer setup for 2004, explain further.

MARK CRISPIN MILLER: Well, what happened was, with the election results that were coming into Ken Blackwell’s website, right, in real time—

AMY GOODMAN: The former Secretary of State of Ohio.

MARK CRISPIN MILLER: The former Secretary of State.

AMY GOODMAN: The former chair of the Bush-Cheney campaign there.

MARK CRISPIN MILLER: And co-chair of Bush-Cheney and a big-time election thief and an ardent theocrat, by the way. The election returns went basically from his website to another computer that was in a basement in Chattanooga, Tennessee, under the control of Spoonamore and a guy with another private company, another evangelical. The data was shunted through that computer and then back to the Secretary of State’s website.

Spoonamore says that this Man in the Middle setup has only one purpose, and that is fraud. There’s no other reason to do it. And he believes that such a system is still in place in Ohio, it’s in place in a number of other states. And the crucial fact to bear in mind here, since we’re talking about John McCain attacking ACORN and so on, is that Mike Connell is now working for John McCain.

Now, on the strength of Spoonamore’s testimony, right, it’s driving a RICO lawsuit in Ohio. On the strength of his testimony, Connell has been subpoenaed. He was subpoenaed last week for a deposition, so that he can answer questions on the record, under oath, about what he’s been up to. He and a bevy of Republican lawyers have been very, very vigorously fighting this subpoena, because, of course, they don’t want him to testify ’til after Election Day.

AMY GOODMAN: Professor Mark Crispin Miller, the Bradley Effect that is being discussed, explain what it is and how you feel it’s being used.

MARK CRISPIN MILLER: The Bradley Effect is a theory which holds that African American candidates do better in pre-election polls than they do in elections, because white racists are shy about admitting to pollsters that they wouldn’t vote for a black man. So they will tell pollsters, “Sure, I’ll vote for him.” Then they sneak into the polling booth and listen to the inner Klansman, you know, they vote as racists.

Now, the problem with this theory is that there are almost no examples of its having happened. It’s named for Tom Bradley, the mayor of Los Angeles, who ran for the governor of California and did much better in polls beforehand than he did on Election Day. Well, it turns out, if you study that race, that the reason why he lost was that a lot of bad news about his tenure in Los Angeles came out just before the election. That’s the reason why people often lose elections. There are only two races that we know of where the Bradley Effect may arguably have obtained, both in 1989: Doug Wilder’s run for the governor of Virginia and David Dinkins’s first run for the mayor of New York, where Dinkins didn’t do as well as we thought he would. Well, in his second run, the polls were dead on.

The point is, we’re talking about two races that may form the basis for this idea that Barack Obama, with his enormous lead, may lose because of millions and millions of closet racists, you know, who will say one thing to pollsters, out of a fear of not seeming politically correct, and then vote a different way. I’ll tell you why I worry about this. Something that you very, very badly need to steal elections, aside from the apparatus and the volunteers and all the money and everything, is a narrative. You have to have a convincing rationale to explain an upset victory. Four years ago, the rationale was millions of values voters materialized on the horizon at the end of the day, and like Jesus with loaves and fishes, they suddenly multiplied and voted for Bush, and then they disappeared. Well, there’s no evidence that that actually happened. But it served as a narrative. This time, I’m afraid the primary narrative will be racism: Barack Obama actually lost, despite all predictions, because so many Americans are racist.

I think that this is, first of all, unverifiable. We don’t know that it’s true, whereas we do know all the stuff about vote suppression and election fraud. But I’m afraid that people will be encouraged to accept this line to prevent them from taking a hard look at the real reasons why Obama may have “lost”—and I put “lost” in quotation marks.

AMY GOODMAN: Mark Crispin Miller, I want to thank you for being with us. Mark Crispin Miller is a professor at New York University and author of, well, the latest book he edited, this came out just this summer, Loser Take All: Election Fraud and the Subversion of Democracy, 2000-2008.

ACORN Has Long Been in Republicans’ Cross Hairs October 24, 2008

Posted by rogerhollander in Barack Obama, Electoral Fraud, John McCain, U.S. Election 2008.
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Peter Overby, NPR

Morning Edition, October 15, 2008 · Republicans continued the drumbeat of allegations against ACORN on Tuesday. Sen. John McCain’s presidential campaign, the Republican National Committee and others accuse the grassroots group of widespread voter registration fraud. It’s the latest, and most bitter, battle in a long conflict between conservatives and ACORN.

ACORN, which stands for the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, makes no secret of its progressive tilt. Its top job isn’t CEO, it’s chief organizer.

“We’re like a community union,” says Bertha Lewis, the interim chief organizer. “Our folks are low and moderate income. And we’ve been doing the fight on bread-and-butter issues for 38 years.”

Those bread-and-butter issues have recently included predatory lending and mortgages. Not long ago, ACORN forced Countrywide Financial into an agreement to help homeowners trapped in their subprime loans. In 1996, it led a campaign in Philadelphia to stop Pennsylvania from selling liquor stores to raise money for sports arenas.

“We have huge needs around education, around housing, around jobs programs, around social services,” Bruce Dorpalen of ACORN Housing said at the time. “And to devote that kind of money to sports stadiums is just wrong.”

At a 2006 rally in Miami, ACORN featured a friend who now seems surprising: McCain. As a senator, he was pushing an immigration reform bill supported by ACORN and other progressive groups. ACORN members waved “McCain ’08” signs at the rally as McCain said, “What makes America special is what’s in this room tonight. That’s what makes America special.”

Now, McCain’s campaign has accused ACORN of flooding America’s polling places with illegal voters. The campaign and the RNC also have played up Democratic Sen. Barack Obama’s ties to ACORN.

Obama responded Tuesday, calling his relationship to the group “pretty straightforward.”

In 1995, Obama said, he represented ACORN in a lawsuit against the state of Illinois. “My partner in that representation was the U.S. Justice Department, in having Illinois implement what was called the motor voter law, to make sure that people could go to DMVs and driver’s license facilities to get registered. It wasn’t being implemented,” he said.

There are other connections that conservatives have highlighted. Obama ran a voter-registration project in Chicago in 1992 under the banner of Project Vote, and years later, the national Project Vote affiliated with ACORN. Earlier this year, his presidential campaign indirectly paid ACORN more than $800,000 for campaign work in the primaries. And ACORN’s political action committee has endorsed Obama.

But conservatives have been after ACORN for years.

“It is an organization that has a very outsized role in the democratic process,” says Tim Miller of the business-backed Employment Policies Institute, which produced a 2006 report titled “Rotten ACORN, America’s Bad Seed.”

Miller points to the ouster of ACORN’s founder earlier this year after the controller, the founder’s brother, had embezzled nearly a million dollars.

“When you think about a truly transparent organization, there would never be any way somebody could embezzle such a large amount,” he says.

The Employment Policies Institute also criticizes ACORN’s organizational structure. ACORN has dozens of subsidiaries. Some get federal funds. Some get money from charities such as the liberal Charles Stewart Mott Foundation and the not-so-liberal Bank of America Charitable Foundation.

Miller says ACORN moves money around among the subsidiaries. He says it “essentially gives them a cloak that prevents people from seeing really how they’re spending money that comes, in some cases, from the taxpayers, in other cases, comes from members of their organization who pay dues.”

But right now, voter fraud is the GOP’s top campaign message. The Republican National Committee produced an online ad called “ACORN Chicago” that reads: “Nationwide voter fraud. Barack Obama. Bad judgment. Blind ambition. Too risky for America.”

Lewis, ACORN’s chief organizer, says the group’s profile has never been so high. “This election, this linking us to Obama in order to try to damage him, that’s a great opportunity,” she says.

Will Evans of the Center for Investigative Reporting contributed to this piece.

Sorry, I Can’t Find Your Name October 24, 2008

Posted by rogerhollander in Barack Obama, Electoral Fraud, John McCain, U.S. Election 2008.
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by: The New York Times | Editorial

 

    Before Mississippi’s March presidential primary, one county election official improperly removed more than 8,000 voters from the eligible-voter rolls, including a Republican Congressional candidate. Fortunately, the secretary of state’s office learned of the purge in time and restored the voters.

    It’s disturbing that a single official (who acted after mailings to voters were returned) could come so close to disenfranchising thousands of voters. But voting rolls, which are maintained by local election officials, are one of the weakest links in American democracy and problems are growing.

    Some of these problems are no doubt the result of honest mistakes, but in far too many cases they appear to be driven by partisanship. While there are almost no examples in recent memory of serious fraud at the polls, Republicans have been pressing for sweeping voter purges in many states. They have also fought to make it harder to enroll new voters. Voting experts say there could be serious problems at the polls on Nov. 4.

    When voters die or move to a new address, or when duplicate registrations are found, a purge is necessary to uphold the integrity of the rolls. New registrations must also be properly screened so only eligible voters get added. The trouble is that these tasks generally occur in secret, with no chance for voters or their advocates to observe or protest when mistakes are made.

    A number of states – including the battleground state of Florida – have adopted no match, no vote rules. Voters can be removed from the rolls if their names do not match a second list, such as a Social Security or driver’s license database. But (like the U.S. mail) lists of this kind are notoriously mistake-filled, and one typo can cause a no match. In Ohio, Republicans recently sued the secretary of state, demanding that she provide local officials with a dubious match list. As many as 200,000 new voters could have been blocked from casting ballots. The Supreme Court rejected the suit, but Republicans are still looking for ways to use the list on Election Day.

    Congress and the states need to develop clear and accurate rules for purges and new-voter verification that ensure that eligible voters remain on the rolls – and make it much harder for partisans to game the system. These rules should be public, and voters who are disqualified should be notified and given ample time before Election Day to reverse the decision.

    For this election, voters need to be prepared to fight for their right to cast a ballot. They should try to confirm before Nov. 4 that they are on the rolls – something that in many states can be done on a secretary of state or board of elections Web site. If their state permits it, they should vote early. Any voter who finds that their name has disappeared from the rolls will then have time to challenge mistakes.

    If voters find on Election Day that their names are not on the rolls, they should contact a voters’ rights group like Election Protection, at 1-866-OUR-VOTE, or a political campaign, which can advocate for them. They should not, except as a last resort, cast a provisional ballot, since it is less likely to be counted.

    There is a desperate need for reform of the way voting rolls are kept. Until then, election officials, voting rights advocates and voters must do everything they can to ensure that all eligible voters are allowed to vote.

Who Gets to Vote? October 17, 2008

Posted by rogerhollander in Barack Obama, Electoral Fraud, John McCain, Sarah Palin, U.S. Election 2008.
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By Amy Goodman

October 16, 2008/truthdig.com

The 2008 presidential election may see the highest participation in U.S. history. Voter-registration organizations and local election boards have been overwhelmed by enthusiastic people eager to vote. But not everyone is happy about this blossoming of democracy.

ACORN, the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, has become a lightning rod for the right wing. ACORN’s Web site notes that “the electorate does not reflect the citizenry of the United States of America. It skews whiter, older, more educated and more affluent than the citizenry as a whole.” Bertha Lewis, ACORN’s lead organizer, told me: “We organize low- and moderate-income people, usually folks who are minorities—African-Americans, Latinos, Asians and working-class white people. And most of these folks have always been disenfranchised out of the electoral process. … We’ve registered 1.3 million new voters across the country over an 18-month period of time. We had over 13,000 hard-working voter-registration workers. And we may have had a few bad apples, but I don’t know any organization that didn’t.”

Barack Obama himself was questioned about ACORN’s problematic registrations. He said: “Having run a voter-registration drive, I know how problems arise. This is typically a situation where ACORN probably paid people to get registrations, and these folks, not wanting to actually register people, because that’s actually hard work, just went into a phone book or made up names and submitted false registrations to get paid. So there’s been fraud perpetrated on probably ACORN, if they paid these individuals and they actually didn’t do registrations. But this isn’t a situation where there’s actually people who are going to try to vote, because these are phony names.”

ACORN has seen some clearly fraudulent registrations submitted, with names like “Mickey Mouse” turned in. ACORN says it reviews all the registration forms. However, it does not serve as the ultimate arbiter of which registrations are fraudulent. In fact, ACORN cannot legally throw away any voter-registration cards. It flags suspicious cards and submits them to the appropriate state election authority to make the judgment.

Republicans are increasingly alarmed at the shifting demographics of the United States. Minorities tend to vote Democratic, and the United States is slowly becoming a majority minority country—by 2050, whites will no longer represent a majority in the U.S. As right-wing commentator Patrick Buchanan lamented in 2004: “In 1960, when JFK defeated Nixon, America was a nation of 160 million, 90 percent white and 10 percent black, with a few million Hispanics and Asians sprinkled among us. We were one nation, one people. We worshiped the same God, spoke the same English language.” Buchanan’s xenophobia highlights a political reality: Immigration and mobilization of the urban poor are shifting the electorate to the Democrats, especially in key swing states like New Mexico, Colorado, Florida and Ohio.

The federal Help America Vote Act was passed in 2002 in response to the electoral crisis of 2000. But it requires new voters to present identification at the polling place, which critics allege is a modern-day Jim Crow law. Robert F. Kennedy Jr. (the son of the assassinated 1968 presidential candidate) said recently: “I have an ID, and most Americans have an ID. But one out of every 10 Americans don’t have a government-issued ID, because they don’t travel abroad, so they don’t have passports, and they don’t drive a car, so they don’t have driver’s licenses. The number rises to one in five when you’re dealing with the African-American community.” The online Michigan Messenger revealed that Michigan Republicans were planning to use a list of people with foreclosed homes to purge voter rolls. And a federal judge in Detroit has just ordered that 1,500 people be restored to the Michigan voter rolls, based on “voter caging”—purging people if mail to them is returned as undeliverable. The scandal around the firing of U.S. attorneys, which ultimately led to the resignation of U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, was based largely on the refusal of the Republican prosecutors to pursue unfounded voter-fraud cases.

Citizen groups like Election Protection and Video the Vote are organizing to document and report problems at the polls on Nov. 4. It is more likely that they will see honest people denied the right to vote, purged from the voter rolls, than an attempt by Mickey Mouse to vote Obama.

Denis Moynihan contributed research to this column.
© 2008 Amy Goodman

Amy Goodman is the host of “Democracy Now!” a daily international TV/radio news hour airing on more than 700 stations in North America. She has been awarded the 2008 Right Livelihood Award, dubbed the “Alternative Nobel” prize, and will receive the award in the Swedish Parliament in December.

Justices Rules Against Ohio G.O.P. in Voting Case October 17, 2008

Posted by rogerhollander in Electoral Fraud, John McCain, U.S. Election 2008.
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by: Adam Liptak and Ian Urbina, The New York Times

photo
Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner attends a hearing in Columbus. (Photo: Kiichiro Sato/AP)

    Washington – The Supreme Court on Friday overturned a lower court’s order requiring state officials in Ohio to supply information that would have made it easier to challenge prospective voters. The decision was a setback for Ohio Republicans, who had sued to force the Ohio secretary of state, a Democrat, to provide information about database mismatches to county officials.

    The decision has the potential to affect as many as 200,000 of the 660,000 new voters who have been registered in Ohio since Jan. 1, according Social Security Administration and state election officials.

    The Supreme Court, in a brief, unsigned decision, said lower federal courts in Ohio should not have ordered the secretary of state, Jennifer Brunner, to turn over the information. The court acted just before a deadline requiring Ms. Brunner to act set by a federal judge in Columbus.

    A 2002 federal law, the Help America Vote Act, or HAVA, requires states to check voter registration applications against government databases like those for driver’s license records. Names that do not match are flagged. Ohio Republicans sought to require Ms. Brunner to provide information about mismatches to local officials.

    Those officials could use information to require voters to cast provisional ballots rather than regular ones. They could also allow partisan poll workers to challenge people on the lists. Given Democratic success in registering new voters this year, those actions would probably affect that party’s supporters disproportionately.

    The court said it expressed “no opinion on the question whether HAVA is being properly implemented.” But it said that Congress probably had not intended to allow private litigants like political parties to sue to enforce the part of the law concerning databases.

    Ms. Brunner welcomed Friday’s ruling from the Supreme Court.

    “Our nation’s highest court has protected the voting rights of all Ohioans, allowing our bipartisan elections officials to continue preparing for a successful November election,” Ms. Brunner said. “We filed this appeal to protect all Ohio voters from illegal challenges and barriers that unfairly silence the votes of some to the advantage of others.”

    Edward B. Foley, a law professor at Ohio State, said the Supreme Court’s action in letting state authorities handle matters in the face of a late challenge was consistent with a general premise of election law. “Federal court intervention is a last resort, even if it’s not at the last minute,” Professor Foley said.

    A federal judge in Columbus ordered Ms. Brunner to supply the information on Oct. 9, and the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, in Cincinnati, affirmed that decision on Tuesday by a vote of 10-to-6.

    The majority decision in the Sixth Circuit acknowledged that the question about whether private parties may sue under the 2002 law was a close one. But Judge Jeffrey S. Sutton said that question could be deferred, as what the Republican party sought was just information.

    No one argues, Judge Sutton wrote, “that a mismatch necessarily requires a voter to be removed from the rolls.” A mismatch may merely prompt further investigation, he said, one that may be satisfied with an explanation as simple as a recent address change.

    Voting experts and state election officials added that many voters were likely to be flagged erroneously because the databases used to check voter registrations were prone to errors. Most non-matches are the result of typographical errors by government officials, computer errors, use of nicknames or middle initials, not voter ineligibility, they said.

    In one audit of match failures in 2004 by New York City election officials, more than 80 percent of the failures were found to have resulted from errors by government officials; most of the remaining failures were because of immaterial discrepancies between the two records.

    Ms. Brunner had also argued that requiring so many voters to cast provisional ballots would raise tensions at the polls and worsen lines and confusion on Election Day in a year when she is expecting unprecedented turnout.

    The state Republican Party rejected those arguments.

    “Secretary Brunner has fought every effort to validate hundreds of thousands of questionable registrations,” said Ohio Republican Party Chairman Robert Bennett. “As far as I’m concerned, Secretary Brunner is actively working to conceal fraudulent activity in this election.”

    The Ohio Republican Party had said it wanted the list so that local election officials could clear up any discrepancies before Election Day and in cases where that was not possible, those voters should vote using a provision ballot. Provisional ballots in Ohio are held for 10 days before being counted while workers check eligibility, and they are often subject to partisan wrangling and legal fights.

    Friday’s decision also means that the Ohio Republican Party will not be able to make public information requests to get the data so that poll workers can raise voter challenges at the polls.

    In 2004, President George W. Bush won Ohio by a margin of about 118,000 votes. During that race, litigation over Republican plans to challenge about 35,000 voters went to Justice John Paul Stevens on the eve of the election. Justice Stevens said it was too close to the election to intervene, but he added that he expected both sides to act in good faith. The Republicans dropped plans for their challenges.

    Polling in the state shows Senator Barack Obama, the Democratic presidential nominee, with a slight lead on his Republican challenger, Senator John McCain.

Steal Back Your Vote October 15, 2008

Posted by rogerhollander in U.S. Election 2008.
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by: Sari Gelzer, t r u t h o u t | Report

photo
Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and Greg Palast have teamed up to tell voters how to ensure their votes will be counted. (Artwork: http://www.stealbackyourvote.org)

    Greg Palast and Robert F. Kennedy Jr. believe that the 2008 elections have already been stolen. What’s an American to do given these circumstances? They suggest: “Steal it back”.

    Palast, an investigative journalist, and Kennedy, a voting rights attorney, paired up to create a nonpartisan voter guide that illustrates the six ways that American votes will be stolen this election and seven ways to steal them back.

    You may ask who’s stealing your votes. Palast and Kennedy believe that the Help America Vote Act (HAVA), created in 2002, is one of the main reasons votes are systematically being stolen. Secretaries of state attempting to comply with HAVA are purging voters from the registration rolls and blocking new ones from registering. The purging occurs if a voter’s name does not match a government database.

Those who are at most risk for having their vote stolen are new voters, people of color, low-income, elderly and swing state voters, Palast told Truthout.

    In 2006, Palast says that 40 percent of citizens who were purged from the voter rolls in California had Islamic, Vietnamese, Chinese and Hispanic names. These names were at most risk for misspellings.

    The Steal Back Your Vote Guidelines promote the importance of going to the secretary of state Web site for your state to confirm that you are registered ahead of the election.

    The New York Times appeared to confirm Palast and Kennedy’s findings on mass voter purges in its report last week titled “States’ Actions to Block Voters Appear Illegal”. The newspaper found that tens of thousands of eligible voters were being illegally purged ahead of the 2008 elections.

    In the crucial swing states of Indiana, Nevada, North Carolina and Ohio, The New York Times reported that Social Security databases are being used to verify voters, as opposed to more accurate state databases. Federal law requires Social Security databases to be used for verification only as a last resort.

    The swing states of Michigan and Colorado are also violating federal law, according to The New York Times, because they are removing voters from the registration rolls within 90 days of the presidential election.

    When a name has been purged from the voter rolls, election workers will hand out a provisional ballot. However, Palast points to 1.1 million provisional ballots that went uncounted in the 2004 elections as proof that provisional ballots often go uncounted.

    “Once you sign that provisional ballot, the chances are officially one in three that your ballot will be thrown in the garbage can,” said Palast.

    In their guide, Palast and Kennedy write that a provisional ballot will most often render a vote uncounted. They suggest seeking adjudication on the spot, by calling a voter’s rights hotline instead of accepting and signing the provisional ballot.

    “Don’t go postal,” says Palast, urging voters not to mail in their ballot.

    Palast told Truthout: “All you need is the most minor error, like you didn’t use your middle initial in your registration; not enough postage cost a third of a million votes in the US the last time around because most ballots are two stamps, not one. There’s a million ways to not count your vote on a mail-in; don’t do it.”

    The other suggestions in the “Steal Back Your Vote” guide include voting early, getting involved in voter-registration and get-out-the-vote organizations, and pursuing legal action if disenfranchised.

    Palast and Kennedy will be following the 2008 elections as they unfold, including publishing reports in Rolling Stone and BBC news.

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