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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.

A Mighty Hoax from ACORN Grows October 18, 2008

Posted by rogerhollander in Barack Obama, Electoral Fraud, John McCain, U.S. Election 2008.
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by: Michael Winship, t r u t h o u t | Perspective

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Michael Winship sees the ACORN “election fraud” story as one of the urban legends that come up every election cycle.

   

 

 ACORN and election fraud. Hang on. As soon as I can get the alligator that crawled out of my toilet back into the New York City sewers where it belongs, I can turn my attention to this very important topic.

    You see, the ACORN “election fraud” story is one of those urban legends, like fake moon landings and alligators in the sewers, and it appears three or four weeks before every recent national election with the regularity of the swallows returning to Capistrano. First, the basics: ACORN, which stands for the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, is an activist group working with low- and moderate-income families to, among many other things, register voters. To do this, they hire people to go around signing up the unregistered, killing two birds with one stone – giving employment to people who need it (some with criminal records) and providing the opportunity to vote to members of minority communities whose voices all too often go unheard.

    What happens is that some of those hired to do the registering, who are paid by the name, make people up. As a result, you’ll discover that among the registrants are such obvious fakes as Mickey Mouse and the starting line-up of the Dallas Cowboys, among others.

    This is where the Republican meme kicks in. As they have in past elections (although now louder and more angrily than ever), the G.O.P. has made ACORN the red flag du jour as the party tries to mobilize its conservative base and, allegedly, attempts to suppress the vote and distract attention from accusations of election tampering made against them, too.

    The charge is that these fake registrations will create havoc at the polls. On Tuesday morning, former Republican Sens. John Danforth and Warren Rudman, chairs of Senator McCain’s Honest and Open Elections Committee, held a press conference and described the results of the bad seeds in ACORN’s registration program as “a potential nightmare.” Danforth said he was concerned “that this election night and the days that follow will be a rerun of 2000, and even worse than 2000.”

    John McCain raised it at Wednesday night’s final debate and went further, adding, “We need to know the full extent of Senator Obama’s relationship with ACORN, who [sic] 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 É”

    Obama replied, “ACORN is a community organization. Apparently, what they have done is they were paying people to go out and register folks. And apparently, some of the people who were out there didn’t really register people; they just filled out a bunch of names. Had nothing to do with us. We were not involved.”

    Which is not to say Obama has not been associated with ACORN in the recent past. He has. As he said in the debate, as a lawyer, he joined with the group in partnership with the US Justice Department to implement a motor voter registration law in Illinois – allowing folks to register to vote at their local DMV. His work as a community organizer bought him into contact with ACORN, the organization received money from the Woods Fund while he was a board member there, and his presidential campaign gave ACORN more than $800,000 to help with get-out-the-vote campaigns during the primary season – but not, apparently, for registration drives.

    All of this distracts from several important points. ACORN has registered 1.3 million voters and maintains that in virtually every instance it is ACORN that has reported the incidents of fraud.

    As the organization asserted in a response to Senator McCain, “ACORN hired 13,000 field workers to register people to vote. In any endeavor of this size, some people will engage in inappropriate conduct. ACORN has a zero tolerance policy and terminated any field workers caught engaging in questionable activity. At the end of the day, as ACORN is paying these people to register voters, it is ACORN that is defrauded.”

    Arrests have been made, as well they should be.

    Add to this the simple fact that registration fraud is not election fraud. Seventy-five made-up people who are registered as, say, “Brad Pitt,” are not likely going to show up at some polling place on November 4 to vote in the election. Because they don’t exist. (Besides, Angelina would never give them time off from babysitting duties.)

    Granted, there are ways to mail in an absentee ballot under a fake name and, too, from time to time some joker is going to come to the polls and try to bluff his or her way in. But despite the charge that thousands and thousands of fakes will flood the machines and throw off the count, it does not happen very often. And according to ACORN, “Even RNC [Republican National Committee] General Counsel Sean Cairncross has recently acknowledged he is not aware of a single improper vote cast as a result of bad cards submitted in the course of an organized voter registration effort.”

    Not that this has stopped the G.O.P. from banging the same drum every national election. And amnesiac members of the media and some government agencies from buying into it every time. Last year, The New York Times reported that the federal Election Assistance Commission, created by the Help America Vote Act, legislation enacted after the Florida debacle, was told by a pair of experts – one Republican, the other described as having “liberal leanings” – that there was not that much fraud to be found. But their conclusions were downplayed.

    As per the Times, “Though the original report said that among experts ‘there is widespread but not unanimous agreement that there is little polling place fraud,’ the final version of the report released to the public concluded in its executive summary that ‘there is a great deal of debate on the pervasiveness of fraud.'”

    Which raises the ongoing investigation of the Justice Department’s firing of those eight US attorneys shortly after President Bush’s re-election. It shouldn’t be forgotten that despite official explanations, half of them were let go after refusing to prosecute vote fraud charges demanded by Republicans. The attorneys had determined there was little or no evidence of skullduggery; certainly not enough to prosecute.

    (In an interview with Talking Points Memo on Thursday, one of those fired attorneys, David Iglesias, reacted to reports that the FBI has launched an investigation of ACORN: “I’m astounded that this issue is being trotted out again. Based on what I saw in 2004 and 2006, it’s a scare tactic.”)

    What’s equally if not more scary are continued allegations of Republican attempts at “caging” minority voters – making challenge lists of African- and Hispanic-Americans registered in heavily Democratic districts. Just this week, a federal judge in Michigan ruled that voters could not be purged from the rolls in that state simply because their mailing address was invalid – this followed a failed attempt by a Michigan Republican county chairman to use a list of foreclosed homes as the basis of voter challenges.

    This comes on the heels of a recent report from the Brennan Center at New York University documenting how state officials – often with the best of intentions – purge huge numbers of perfectly legal voters from the rolls.

    As my colleague Bill Moyers reported, “Hundreds of thousands of legal voters may have been dumped in recent years, many without ever being notified.” The report describes a “process that is shrouded in secrecy, prone to error, and vulnerable to manipulation.”

    Hardly reassuring words if you want democracy to work, and sadly, not an urban legend, but the simple truth.

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

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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

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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.

GOP Attacks on American Voters Turn Desperate, Ugly and Dangerous October 11, 2008

Posted by rogerhollander in John McCain, U.S. Election 2008.
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by: Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman, The Free Press

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GOP attacks on voter rights, voter registration drives and open elections are on the rise across the nation. (Photo: Getty Images)

    The GOP assault on American voters has hit full stride as the economy and John McCain tank in synch.

    With just over three weeks until election day, the Republicans have mounted an all-out attack against newly registered voters and the organizations working to sign them up. As many as 75% of these new voters are expected to vote Democratic, but the attacks have also spread to long-established voters as well. Recent calculations show more than a million more newly registered Democrats in Ohio than Republicans.

    The usual drumbeat claiming massive voter fraud has become ceaseless at Fox “News” and other right wing media mouthpieces.

    As expected, the assault centers in Ohio, which once again could decide the presidency, but has manifested throughout the nation:

    1) A Republican sheriff in Greene County, Ohio, has demanded social security and other records from 302 local voters whose ballots he apparently wants to negate. Sheriff Gene Fischer has requested registration cards and address forms for all Greene County residents who voted in a special session established in Ohio allowing new voters to register and vote on the same day. The process was challenged in court by the GOP. The Ohio Supreme Court turned down that challenge, and allowed the same-day voting to proceed. But now Fischer claims telephone calls complaining about the potential for voter fraud have prompted him to go after the information.

    In Franklin County, home of Ohio State University, Columbus State Community College, Capital University, Ohio Dominican University, and Otterbein College, election protection observers are reporting continuing surveillance by Republicans at Veterans Memorial, the site for early voting. The observers have documented Republican operatives taking photographs and writing down license plate numbers of voters. Election activists expect similar criminal charges as in Greene County to be filed in the state’s capital.

    Greene County is home to Wright State, Central State, Wilberforce and Cedarville Universities, along with Antioch College, which was recently put out of business by a right-wing putsch on its board of directors.

    Llyn McCoy, Greene County’s deputy elections director, says names, telephone and Social Security numbers will be blacked out of any records handed over to the Sheriff. According to McCoy, the Sheriff says he has no evidence of voter fraud other than phone calls stating fraud was a possibility. It is widely assumed that the same-day registration/voting option was exercised primarily by students who lean heavily Democratic. In 2004, African-American students from Wright State, Central State and Wilberforce were regularly challenged on their registration credentials and forced to endure waiting in lines to vote for hours. Students at Cedarville, a Christian school, made no such reports. Sheriff Fischer’s targeting of historically black college students, the core of Obama-mania, is intended to send a chilling effect through the ranks of these Democratic voters.

    2) U.S. District Court Judge George C. Smith, a Reagan appointee, has approved a GOP lawsuit demanding that the state give county boards of elections great leeway in attacking new voter registration forms. The decision, framed under the Help America Vote Act, would allow Republican challengers access to data from the Bureau of Motor Vehicles and the Social Security agency to challenge new voters. The Judge noted that Ohio law permits challenges to absentee ballots, thousands of which have been pouring in to elections boards. If allowed to stand, it could give the GOP the right to shred ballots already cast in the Buckeye State, with the precedent possibly being used to further enable a GOP nationwide disenfranchisement campaign. Smith gave Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner a week to respond. Brunner has stated she will appeal.

    3) Before the ruling, Brunner announced at the close of registration that the number of registered voters in Ohio had jumped by 665,949, from 7,518,189 active voters on January 1, 2008, to 8,184,138 active voters now. About 5.4 million votes were officially counted in Ohio’s 2004 presidential election. Then-Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell certified a Bush victory of less than 119,000 votes. A massive GOP disenfranchisement campaign could easily exceed that margin.

    4) The New York Times has reported that boards of elections in at least nine crucial states, including Ohio, have violated federal law in conducting purges and have been illegally using Social Security data bases as part of those purges. The Times’ Ian Urbina quotes Colorado Secretary of State Mike Coffman as asking the Colorado Attorney-General to review how some 2,500 citizens were removed from the registration lists there. The Times has cited purges in Colorado, Louisiana and Michigan that have apparently been conducted within 90 days of the upcoming November 4 election, violating federal law that allows states to expunge only those who have been convicted of a felony, moved out of state or died.

    5) The Times has also reported that boards of elections in Nevada, North Carolina, Michigan, Indiana and Ohio have illegally used federal Social Security databases to flag and possibly eliminate voters whose registration applications were suspected of irregularities. The Times reported some 37,000 Colorado voters removed in the three weeks after July 21; Secretary Coffman said the number was 14,000.

    6) Michigan elections director Christopher Thomas said his state had removed about 11,000 voters in August, while the Times estimated the real number to be closer to 33,000. Thomas refused to make the purged files public. Michigan Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land is a long-standing Republican partisan whose political activism traces back to the mid-70s when she worked for Gerald Ford’s campaign in high school. Critics charge that she functions in the traditional of Florida’s Katherine Harris and Ohio’s J. Kenneth Blackwell.

    7) North Carolina’s BOE director Gary Bartlett dismissed concerns raised by the Social Security Administration about possible mis-used of SS files to purge registrations there in conjunction with drivers licenses. The SSI contends Social Security numbers can only be accessed when there is no drivers license or other form of state ID available.

    8) A CBS News report has revealed organized caging attempts by the GOP to eliminate registered voters from the rolls in 19 states. The report marks one of the first initiated by a corporate news organization isolating Republican anti-vote campaigning.

    9) An electronic voting machine in New Mexico was found to be operating on faulty software which could have eliminated hundreds of votes. The glitch was apparently corrected, but was of a type that could result in thousands of votes being lost on Election Day 2008, as they were in 2000 and 2004.

    10) The grassroots organizing group ACORN has come under serious attack in Nevada, Missouri, Ohio and elsewhere from Republicans attempting to negate the thousands of generally low-income citizens ACORN has registered to vote. As a matter of law, ACORN is required to report irregular registrations that come through its process. But GOP operatives have equated these with “fraudulent” filings, and a have ramped up a smear and fear campaign aimed at negating thousands of legitimate ACORN registrants throughout the US.

    11) The GOP continues to resist attempts to subpoena Michael Connell, a shady Republican computer operative who programmed the 2000 Bush-Cheney web site. Connell was also hired by former Ohio Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell in 2004 to tabulate the Ohio vote count. Under Connell, Ohio’s vote totals were shunted to a computer bank in the same basement in Chattanooga, Tennessee, that housed the servers of the Republican National Committee. In the early hours of the morning after election day, vote totals mysteriously began shifting from Kerry to Bush, swinging the 2004 election. Connell’s cyber-security industry colleague Stephen Spoonamore, a Republican and former McCain supporter, has said that Connell may be able to shed light on vote count rigging in the 2008 vote count as well. Attorneys in the King-Lincoln-Bronzeville civil rights lawsuit have thus far been unable to secure Connell’s sworn testimony.

    12) CNN has reported that Obama’s surging poll numbers may leave him “in position to steal Virginia from the GOP.” Virginia hasn’t backed a Democratic presidential candidate since Lyndon Johnson in 1964, but CNN’s use of the word “steal” has raised hackles among election protection activists who argue the flow of theft is in the other direction.

    As the moment of truth arrives, McCain-Palin attacks based on race, alleged “terrorist” ties and more are sure to increasingly dominate the GOP campaign. But far more insidious will be an all-out assault on voter registration in the name of “voter fraud,” and on finding new ways to undermine the national vote, most importantly on electronic voting machines of the kind programmed by Michael Connell.

    If those supporting the democratic process are not exceedingly vigilant, the GOP could use these tactics to once again take the White House.

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