Elections News ArticlesExcerpts of Key Elections News Articles in Media
Forbes has seen numerous reports of broken machines causing epic queues and peeving voters. One of the more concerning tales came from New Jersey, where one voter complained not only of machines being broken but claimed an official decided to say "maybe Russians did it". If an official did say those words, whether in seriousness or in jest, it'd have been unwise given fears around Russia's hacking of the election, following the breach of the Democratic National Committee earlier this year. Many took to Twitter to complain about broken machines, including those voting in Michigan, North Carolina, Texas, Columbia and San Francisco. Most complaints have come from New York and Detroit. ProPublica also reported issues across Illinois, Kentucky and Ohio. The Tennessean reported issues ... too. A spokesperson for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) [stated] the department has been offering cybersecurity assistance to state, county and local election agencies, and found vulnerabilities during system scans, though wouldn't disclose their nature or provenance. Voting machines have always been vulnerable, said Matt Bernhard ... an expert on the security of electoral systems. "This year isn't that different, other than I'm expecting higher turnout which may stress the infrastructure more," added Bernhard, who yesterday released a report highlighting how different areas of the U.S. use poorly-protected machines.
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The Maine Clean Elections Act, originally passed in 1996 and strengthened in 2015, gives candidates the option to finance campaigns with taxpayer dollars. Candidates who choose to run a publicly financed campaign don’t need to spend time courting wealthy donors - in fact, they’re prohibited from raising private money. Instead, constituents show their support through $5 contributions to the Maine Clean Elections Fund made on behalf of a candidate. But that money doesn’t go to the candidate - instead, it shows support and helps fund the public-financing program. Once candidates have raised the required number of donations, they receive a flat fee from the state, which can vary depending on the office being sought. During [State representative Joyce] McCreight’s first campaign, in 2014, the state gave her nearly $5,000 once she’d collected 60 contributions. She won, and by the end of her first term, she’d helped to write a bill that makes it easy for low-income people without insurance to get reproductive health [services]. The bill passed, and McCreight expects it to save the state $2.5 million a year. McCreight’s story ... was made possible by a network of activists who came together in 1995 to draft and support the Maine Clean Elections Act. The Clean Elections system has given Maine the most economically diverse legislature in the nation. About 14 percent of Maine legislators are working class: waitresses, cashiers, machinists. Only 2 percent of the U.S. Congress comes from similar backgrounds.
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The pervasive influence of corporate cash in the democratic process, and the extraordinary lengths to which politicians, lobbyists and even judges go to solicit money, are laid bare in sealed court documents leaked to the Guardian. The John Doe files amount to 1,500 pages of largely unseen material gathered in evidence by prosecutors investigating alleged irregularities in political fundraising. Last year the Wisconsin supreme court ordered that all the documents should be destroyed, though a set survived that has now been obtained by the news organisation. The files open a window on a world that is very rarely glimpsed by the public, in which millions of dollars are secretly donated by major corporations and super-wealthy individuals to third-party groups in an attempt to sway elections. Five Wisconsin prosecutors carried out a deep investigation into what they suspected were criminal campaign-finance violations by the campaign committee of Scott Walker, Wisconsin governor. In 2015, Justice Prosser refused to recuse himself from a case in which the state supreme court sat in judgment over the John Doe investigation, despite the fact that the investigation focused on precisely the same network of lobbying groups and donors that had helped him hang onto his seat. The judge joined a majority of four conservative justices who voted to terminate the investigation and destroy all the documents now leaked to the Guardian.
If there is anything positive to say about the 2016 elections, it's that they have finally forced an end to the official denial of computerized election rigging. In the past month, the fact that our voting technology is a hacker's paradise has been validated by no less than all the major TV news networks. Of course, the corporate media and political parties are now professing "shock" at the very prospect that US elections can be manipulated, and yes, even stolen. Yet it has long been an open secret that game-changing races have been decided not by voters, but by insiders; from the presidential race of 1960, appropriated for John Kennedy by Democratic muscle in Chicago, to the two victories secured for George W. Bush by GOP fixers in Florida and hackers in Ohio. Among other suspect elections in recent years are key Congressional races hijacked by combinations of voter suppression, gerrymandering, dark money and the ugly little secret of American elections: rigged voting machines. How is this possible? Because over many decades, our public elections have been privatized and outsourced to a handful of corporations and dozens of private service vendors. Some have even been convicted of crimes, including bribery, bid rigging, kickback schemes, lying to voting officials and computer fraud. In turn, these shady corporations have sold us billions in "proprietary" computerized voting systems, [while] election laws have slowly been altered to facilitate this quiet transition to more "expedient" private control.
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The FBI has uncovered evidence that foreign hackers penetrated two state election databases in recent weeks, prompting the bureau to warn election officials across the country to take new steps to enhance the security of their computer systems. The FBI warning [was] titled “Targeting Activity Against State Board of Election Systems.” The alert, labeled as restricted for “NEED TO KNOW recipients,” disclosed that the bureau was investigating cyberintrusions against two state election websites this summer, including one that resulted in the “exfiltration,” or theft, of voter registration data. The bulletin does not identify the states in question, but sources familiar with the document say it refers to the targeting by suspected foreign hackers of voter registration databases in Arizona and Illinois. In the Illinois case, officials were forced to shut down the state’s voter registration system for 10 days in late July, after the hackers managed to download personal data on up to 200,000 state voters, Ken Menzel, the general counsel of the Illinois Board of Elections, said in an interview. FBI agents confirmed to [Menzel] that the perpetrators were believed to be foreign hackers, although they were not identified by country. Agents told him they had reached no conclusions, and other experts say the hackers could also have been common cybercriminals hoping to steal personal data on state voters for fraudulent purposes, such as obtaining bogus tax refunds.
Recent attempts at campaign-directed cyber-attacks have raised red flags about just how vulnerable the upcoming U.S. election is to hackers. The most vulnerable aspect of the voting process is the individual ballot. But in a digital world, far more is susceptible to tampering than the ballot itself. With digital tools integrated throughout the electoral process ... potential weak spots show up long before anyone casts the first vote. Gabriella Coleman, Wolfe Chair in Scientific and Technological Literacy at McGill University and author of the book Hacker, Hoaxer, Whistleblower, Spy: The Many Faces of Anonymous, warned even poorly executed hacks can be successful. "If you seed enough doubt, it doesn't matter if the system has been hacked or not, because people won't trust the system." With the rise of new technologies there is potential for individuals, governments, terrorist groups or hackers to use internet-based tools strategically to leak sensitive documents, collect private information and influence voter opinion and sentiment. A recent Bloomberg exposé featured a South American political hacker who engaged for a decade in what he calls "psychological operations." He created software to manage and direct an army of fake Twitter accounts. He could change the names, profile pictures, and biographies of thousands of fake accounts to suit his particular needs at the time, using those virtual crowds to sway trends and public opinion.
Note: Read more about South American political hacker Andrés Sepúlveda's effective manipulation of elections in nine countries. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing elections corruption news articles from reliable major media sources. Then explore the excellent, reliable resources provided in our Elections Information Center.
19,000 internal Democratic Party emails released on Friday by WikiLeaks [set] off a frenzy on the eve of the party’s quadrennial nominating convention and forc[ed] the resignation of the party chairwoman, Debbie Wasserman Schultz. Some of the emails revealed internal discussion by D.N.C. officials — obligated under party rules to remain neutral in the presidential primary — about how to discredit Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, enraging some of his supporters. Some ... are highly critical of Mr. Sanders. But the leaked cache also included thousands of emails exchanged by Democratic officials and party fund-raisers, revealing in rarely seen detail the elaborate, ingratiating and often bluntly transactional exchanges necessary to harvest hundreds of millions of dollars from the party’s wealthy donor class. The emails capture a world where seating charts are arranged with dollar totals in mind, where a White House celebration of gay pride is a thinly disguised occasion for rewarding wealthy donors and where physical proximity to the president is the most precious of currencies. Donors who raise $1.25 million for the party — or who give $467,000 — are entitled to priority booking in a top hotel, nightly access to V.I.P. lounges and an “exclusive roundtable and campaign briefing with high-level Democratic officials,” according to a promotional brochure obtained by The Times.
Note: This informative article reveals in detail how much influence wealth has on the democratic process. Democracy in America more resembles a system of one dollar per vote than one person per vote. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing elections corruption news articles from reliable major media sources. Then explore the excellent, reliable resources provided in our Elections Information Center.
With studies suggesting that long lines at the polls cost Democrats hundreds of thousands of votes in November, party leaders are beginning a push to make voting and voter registration easier, setting up a likely new conflict with Republicans over a deeply polarizing issue. Democrats in the House and Senate have already introduced bills that would require states to provide online voter registration and allow at least 15 days of early voting, among other things. Fourteen states are also considering whether to expand early voting, including the battlegrounds of Florida, Ohio and Virginia, according to FairVote, a nonprofit group that advocates electoral change. Several recent polls and studies suggest that long waiting times in some places depressed turnout in 2012 and that lines were longest in cities, where Democrats outnumber Republicans. In a New York Times/CBS News poll taken shortly after Election Day, 18 percent of Democrats said they waited at least a half-hour to vote, compared with 11 percent of independents and 9 percent of Republicans. A Massachusetts Institute of Technology analysis determined that blacks and Hispanics waited nearly twice as long in line to vote on average than whites. Florida had the nation’s longest lines, at 45 minutes, followed by the District of Columbia, Maryland, South Carolina and Virginia, according to Charles Stewart III, the political science professor who conducted the analysis. A separate analysis, by an Ohio State University professor and The Orlando Sentinel, concluded that more than 200,000 voters in Florida “gave up in frustration” without voting.
Note: For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on major inadequacies in US electoral procedures, click here.
Who's buying our democracy? Wall Street financiers, the Koch brothers, and casino magnates Sheldon Adelson and Steve Wynn, among others. And they're doing much of it in secret. It's a perfect storm - the combination of three waves that are about to drown government as we know it. The first is the greatest concentration of wealth in America in more than a century. The 400 richest Americans are richer than the bottom 150 million Americans put together. The trend started 30 years ago, and it's related to globalization and technological changes that have stymied wage growth for most people, "trickle-down economics," ... tax cuts and the steady decline in the bargaining power of organized labor. The second is the wave of unlimited political contributions, courtesy of ... one of the worst decisions in Supreme Court history, Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission, the 2010 ruling that held that corporations are people under the First Amendment, [meaning] that virtually any billionaire can contribute as much to a political campaign as he wants. The third is complete secrecy about who's contributing how much to whom. Political fronts posing as charitable, nonprofit "social welfare" organizations ... don't have to disclose their donors. As a result, outfits like the Chamber of Commerce and Karl Rove's Crossroads GPS are taking in hundreds of millions from corporations that don't even tell their own shareholders what political payments they're making. Separately, any one of these three would be bad enough. Put the three together, and our democracy is being sold down the drain.
Note: The author of this article, Robert Reich, is a professor of public policy at UC Berkeley and former U.S. secretary of labor, and author of the newly released Beyond Outrage: What Has Gone Wrong With Our Economy and Our Democracy, and How to Fix It.
The CIA, which has been monitoring foreign countries' use of electronic voting systems, has reported apparent vote-rigging schemes in Venezuela, Macedonia and Ukraine and a raft of concerns about the machines' vulnerability to tampering. In a presentation that could provide disturbing lessons for the United States, where electronic voting is becoming universal, [CIA cybersecurity expert] Steve Stigall summarized what he described as attempts to use computers to undermine democratic elections in developing nations. His remarks have received no news media attention until now. Stigall told the Election Assistance Commission ... that computerized electoral systems can be manipulated at five stages, from altering voter registration lists to posting results. Stigall said voting equipment connected to the Internet could be hacked, and machines that weren't connected could be compromised wirelessly. Eleven U.S. states have banned or limited wireless capability in voting equipment, but Stigall said elections officials didn't always know it when wireless cards were embedded in their machines. Stigall said that most Web-based ballot systems had proved to be insecure. The commission has been criticized for giving states more than $1 billion to buy electronic equipment without first setting performance standards. Numerous computer-security experts have concluded that U.S. systems can be hacked, and allegations of tampering in Ohio, Florida and other swing states have triggered a campaign to require all voting machines to produce paper audit trails.
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Charlie Black, senior adviser to John McCain, caused a fluff by saying that a terrorist attack on U.S. soil would be a "big advantage" to his candidate. No one mentioned that eight years ago, the Project for a New American Century called for "a new Pearl Harbor" that could move the American people to accept the neoconservative vision of militarized global domination. Then 9/11 happened, lifting George W. Bush from the shadows of a disputed election to the heights of a "war presidency." Bush has taken on unprecedented powers since the events of 9/11. On that day, the president issued his "Declaration of Emergency by Reason of Certain Terrorist Attacks" under the authority of the National Emergencies Act. This declaration, which can be rescinded by joint resolution of Congress, has instead been extended six times. In 2007, the declaration was quietly strengthened with the issuance of National Security Presidential Directive 51, which gave the president the authority to do whatever he deems necessary in a vaguely defined "catastrophic emergency," including everything from canceling elections to suspending the Constitution to launching a nuclear attack. Not a single congressional hearing was held on this directive. Will Congress act decisively to remove the president's emergency powers, challenge the directive and defend the Constitution?
[California] Assemblywoman Mary Hayashi had no intention of voting for AB2818, a bill that the Castro Valley Democrat feared could undermine its stated goal of protecting affordable housing. But on May 28, she nearly approved it - without her knowledge, and without her presence on the Assembly floor. As the roll call began, Hayashi was engaged in a budget subcommittee meeting on the Capitol's fourth floor. Suddenly, two floors below, the light next to her name on the big electronic voting board in the Assembly chamber turned green, a "yes" vote. Seconds later, it turned red. Then green. Red. Green. Finally, after 22 seconds of alternating colors, the space next to Hayashi's name went blank. While there are conflicting accounts of exactly what caused this dizzying sequence, this much is clear: Two people had their hands on Hayashi's voting switches during the roll call on AB2818 - and one was acting against her will. "Ghost voting" was not the only disturbing episode as the Assembly took up 316 bills in the three days leading up to the deadline for measures to pass their house of origin. In the frenzied treadmill, there was little or no debate on most matters, important bills died when legislators failed to vote, and votes were being cast for members without their express consent. In the Hayashi case, eyewitnesses said her initial "yes" vote was cast by Assemblyman Kevin de León, D-Los Angeles, an assistant majority floor leader who colleagues said had taken the liberty of voting for other missing members as bills were being rushed to beat the deadline. "I don't recall it, but I don't deny it either," de León said.
Note: For lots more on problems with voting systems, click here.
State-sanctioned teams of computer hackers were able to break through the security of virtually every model of California's voting machines and change results or take control of some of the systems' electronic functions, according to a University of California study. The researchers "were able to bypass physical and software security in every machine they tested,'' said Secretary of State Debra Bowen, who authorized the "top to bottom review" of every voting system certified by the state. Neither Bowen nor the investigators were willing to say exactly how vulnerable California elections are to computer hackers. The review included voting equipment from every company approved for use in the state. Bowen said ... that the report is only one piece of information she will use to decide which voting systems are secure enough to use in February's presidential primary election.
Note: For more reliable, verifiable information on the problems with new electronic voting machines, click here.
After six years of technological research, more than $4 billion spent by Washington on new machinery and a widespread overhaul of the nation’s voting system, this month’s midterm election revealed that the country is still far from able to ensure that every vote counts. Tens of thousands of voters, scattered across more than 25 states, encountered serious problems at the polls. The difficulties led to shortages of substitute paper ballots and long lines that caused many voters to leave without casting ballots. Voting experts say it is impossible to say how many votes were not counted that should have been. In Florida alone, the discrepancies ... amount to more than 60,000 votes. In Colorado, as many as 20,000 people gave up trying to vote ... as new online systems for verifying voter registrations crashed repeatedly. In Arkansas, election officials tallied votes three times in one county, and each time the number of ballots cast changed by more than 30,000. Election experts say that with electronic voting machines, the potential consequences of misdeeds or errors are of a [great] magnitude. A single software error can affect thousands of votes, especially with machines that keep no paper record. In Ohio, thousands of voters were turned away or forced to file provisional ballots by poll workers puzzled by voter-identification rules. In Pennsylvania, the machines crashed or refused to start, producing many reports of vote-flipping [where] voters press the button for one candidate but a different candidate’s name appears on the screen. In Ohio, even a congressman, Steve Chabot, a Republican, was turned away from his polling place because the address listed on his driver’s license was different than his home address.
There were many problems with voting in this election. In at least one Congressional race, the evidence strongly suggests that paperless voting machines failed to count thousands of votes, and that the disappearance of these votes delivered the race to the wrong candidate. [In] Florida’s 13th Congressional District .. according to the official vote count, the Republicans [won] narrowly. The problem is that the official vote count isn’t credible. In much of the 13th District, the voting pattern looks normal. But in Sarasota County, which used touch-screen voting machines ... almost 18,000 voters — nearly 15 percent of those who cast ballots using the machines — supposedly failed to vote for either candidate in the hotly contested Congressional race. That compares with undervote rates ranging from 2.2 to 5.3 percent in neighboring counties. The Herald-Tribune of Sarasota ... interviewed hundreds of voters. About a third of those interviewed by the paper reported that they couldn’t even find the Congressional race on the screen. Moreover, more than 60 percent of those interviewed ... reported that they did cast a vote in the Congressional race — but that this vote didn’t show up on the ballot summary page. An Orlando Sentinel examination of other votes cast by those who supposedly failed to cast a vote ... shows that they strongly favored Democrats, and Mr. Buchanan won the official count by only 369 votes. For the nation as a whole, the important thing isn’t who gets seated to represent Florida’s 13th District. It’s whether the voting disaster there leads to legislation requiring voter verification and a paper trail. I’ve been shocked at how little national attention the mess in Sarasota has received.
Last week’s elections provided a lot of disturbing news about the reliability of electronic voting. In a Congressional race...Sarasota County [Florida] reported that more than 18,000 people, or one in eight, did not choose either candidate. That “undervote” of nearly 13 percent is hard to believe, given that only about 2.5 percent of absentee voters did not vote. Ms. Jennings trails Mr. Buchanan by about 400 votes. The serious questions about the Buchanan - Jennings race only add to the high level of mistrust that many people already feel about electronic voting. Congress has resisted all appeals to pass a law that would ensure that electronic voting is honest and accurate across the nation. Partisan secretaries of state continue to skew the rules to favor their parties and political allies. States are adopting harsh standards for voter registration drives to make it harder for people to register. Some states have adopted an indefensible rule that provisional ballots cast at the wrong table of the correct polling place must be thrown out. Congress has failed to address these and other important flaws with the mechanics of the election system. But this...may be about to change. Senator Feinstein is saying that providing fair access to the ballot will be among her committee’s top priorities in the coming year. Election reform has tended to be a partisan issue, with Democrats arguing for reform and Republicans resisting it. It shouldn’t be. Congressional Democrats should make fixing this country’s broken system of elections a top priority, and Republicans should join them.
It's easier to rig an electronic voting machine than a Las Vegas slot machine, says University of Pennsylvania visiting professor Steve Freeman. That's because Vegas slots are better monitored and regulated than America's voting machines, Freeman writes in a book, Was the 2004 Presidential Election Stolen?: Exit Polls, Election Fraud, and the Official Count, that argues, among other things, that President Bush may owe his 2004 win to an unfair vote count. Software: Slot Machine: State of Nevada has access to all software. Illegal to use software that is not on file. Voting Machine: Software is a trade secret. Spot Checking: Slot Machine: State gaming inspectors show up unannounced at casinos to compare computer chips with those on file. If there is a discrepancy, the machine is shut down and investigated. Voting Machine: No checks are required. Election officials have no chip to compare with the one found in the machine. Background Security: Slot Machine: Manufacturers subjected to background checks. Employees are investigated for criminal records. Voting Machine: Citizens have no way of knowing, for example, whether programmers have been convicted of fraud. Equipment Certification: Slot Machine: By a public agency at arm's length from manufacturers. Public questions invited. Voting Machine: By for-profit companies chosen and paid by the manufacturers. No public information on how the testing is done.
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The three companies that certify the nation's voting technologies operate in secrecy, and refuse to discuss flaws in the machines to be used by nearly one in three voters in November. Federal regulators have virtually no oversight over testing of the technology. The certification process, in part because the voting machine companies pay for it, is described as obsolete by those charged with overseeing it. Despite concerns over whether the so-called touchscreen machines can be trusted, the testing companies won't say publicly if they have encountered shoddy workmanship. They say they are committed to secrecy in their contracts with the voting machines' makers — even though tax money ultimately buys or leases the machines. Michael Shamos, a Carnegie Mellon computer scientist and electronic voting expert, told lawmakers in Washington, D.C. "I find it grotesque that an organization charged with such a heavy responsibility feels no obligation to explain to anyone what it is doing." The system for "testing and certifying voting equipment in this country is not only broken, but is virtually nonexistent," Shamos added. More than a decade ago, the Federal Election Commission authorized the National Association of State Election Directors to choose the independent testers. On its Web site, the association says the three testing outfits "have neither the staff nor the time to explain the process to the public, the news media or jurisdictions."
A South Florida law professor, running to unseat Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, is calling for a federal investigation into the destruction of all ballots cast in the August 2016 Democratic primary in Broward County. The challenger, Tim Canova, has made repeated public-records requests and filed a lawsuit seeking access to paper ballots cast in his unsuccessful race last year against the former Democratic National Committee chair in Florida’s 23rd congressional district. A statistical analysis of the primary conducted last year suggested the election results were “potentially implausible.” the Broward supervisor of elections, Brenda Snipes, has taken no action on requests ... to examine the ballots. Instead, Dr. Snipes has urged a judge to throw Canova’s lawsuit out. Despite the pending records requests and the ongoing litigation, Snipes ordered the ballots and other election documents destroyed. The lack of a paper trail verifying voter choices undercuts the ability to identify systemic election fraud and might make such fraud impossible to detect. The Aug. 30 Democratic primary in Broward was being closely watched across the country. A month earlier ... Wasserman Schultz was ousted as chairwoman of the DNC. She was removed over allegations that she and other party officials had rigged the Democratic presidential primary process to favor Hillary Clinton over Bernie Sanders. The pro-Clinton fix was first divulged in DNC emails ... released to the public in the months leading up to the election.
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San Francisco has taken a tentative step toward deciding on whether it will become the first local government in the country to run its voting machines on open-source software. The notion of shifting away from using proprietary technology sold by private companies to computer code made freely available for anyone to use and modify has been talked about for years. But it’s been getting more attention since the city allocated $300,000 to study the issue. Proponents of open-source voting systems say local governments using them would be able to hold elections with an unprecedented level of control, transparency and security. California Secretary of State Alex Padilla has said he would support an open-source voting system, assuming it could pass the state’s certification protocols. Open-source software could allow the city to more fully understand and adjust how votes are tallied. Currently, vendors of electronic voting equipment provide few details about how their machines operate, claiming those details are proprietary. Governments are also beholden to private vendors if they want to make a change to the software running the machines.
Note: How crazy that the technology behind the US electronic voting system is held privately and the government cannot even inspect the technology used. Do you think there is the potential for fraud? For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing elections corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.
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