Elections News StoriesExcerpts of Key Elections News Stories in Major Media
Note: This comprehensive list of elections news stories is usually updated once a week. Explore our full index to revealing excerpts of key major media news stories on several dozen engaging topics. And don't miss amazing excerpts from 20 of the most revealing news articles ever published.
A viral video of New York Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez using a "Corruption Game" to highlight the need for campaign finance reform during a House Oversight Committee hearing last Wednesday has become the most viewed video of any politician in Twitter history. In her "corruption game," Ocasio-Cortez launched into a "lightning round" of questions for a panel of ethics experts in a bid to demonstrate just how easy it is for corrupt lawmakers - and even, hypothetically, the president of the U.S. - to avoid accountability under current government ethics laws. The 29-year-old lawmaker was able to highlight how a political "bad guy" would be able to enrich themselves and advance their interests "even if that means putting [their] interests ahead of the American people." Her examples ranged from taking "special interest dark money" from corporate PACs to fund a campaign to using hush money payments to make potential scandals disappear and writing laws that benefit donors and then buying stocks in their companies for personal financial gain. "So," Ocasio-Cortez said, in summary: "We have a system that is fundamentally broken. We have these influences existing in this body, which means that these influences are here, in this committee, shaping the questions that are being asked of you all right now. Would you say that that's correct?" "Yes," one expert, Walter Michael Shaub Jr. ... who previously served as the director of the U.S. Office of Government Ethics, responded.
Note: Note: Don't miss this most revealing video at the link above. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing government corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.
The headline in the New York Times reads: “Sanders and Warren Meet and Agree: They Both Are Probably Running.” At first, the story ... reads like standard election news. Dig deeper, though, and you find signs of negative media campaigns already beginning in earnest. Over the past few weeks, multiple outlets have published negative pieces about Warren in particular, deploying coverage gimmicks used to disparage candidates early in presidential campaigns before. The gist of the new Times piece is that the Warren and Sanders, if they do run, “will not enjoy an easy path to the nomination.” We’re 23 months away from Election Day. It’s beyond premature to be fretting about electability questions. Common phrases used to camouflage invented narratives include “whispers abound,” “questions linger” and today’s golden oldie from the Times, “concerns” (as in, the prospect of Warren and Sanders running has “stirred concerns”). The papers are all citing each other’s negative stories as evidence for Warren’s problems. Warren is the rare prospective presidential candidate with actual knowledge of how Wall Street works who is not a billionaire, a private equity chief or a bank lawyer. As for Sanders, the Times, which has a history of less-than-friendly history with this candidate, is also engaging in the invented-narrative game already. The national press [is] already inventing frivolous reasons to toss people with good ideas out of the race.
Steve Bannon’s political operation to help rightwing populists triumph in next year’s European parliamentary elections is in disarray after he conceded that his campaign efforts could be illegal in most of the countries in which he planned to intervene. The former chief strategist to Donald Trump has spent months trying to recruit European parties to his Brussels-based group, the Movement, which he promised would operate as kind of a political consultancy for like-minded parties campaigning in the bloc-wide vote in May 2019. But the Guardian has established that Bannon would be barred or prevented from doing any meaningful work in nine of the 13 countries in which he is seeking to campaign. Bannon’s intervention in European politics comes amid heightened sensitivity about foreign involvement in elections. Questions have been mounting over the scale of Russia’s influence over the 2016 US presidential campaign and the UK’s referendum to leave the EU. Bannon ... has pledged to spend millions of dollars to provide nativist and ultra-conservative European parties free access to specialised polling data, analytics, social media advice and help with candidate selection. But officials working on electoral law and independent experts in multiple countries said this kind of assistance would be ... banned in France, Spain, Poland, Czech Republic, Hungary and Finland.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing elections corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.
Floridians for a Fair Shake and 13 other groups around the country are funded and coordinated out of a single office in Washington, with the goal of battering Republicans for their health care and economic policies during the midterm elections. At the center of the effort is an opaquely named Democratic organization, the Hub Project, which is on track to spend nearly $30 million since 2017 pressuring members of Congress in their districts. The great bulk of its funding has come from so-called dark money - funds from donors who are not legally required to reveal their names. With that money, the Hub Project ... set up an array of affiliate groups around the country, many with vaguely sympathetic names like Keep Iowa Healthy, New Jersey for a Better Future and North Carolinians for a Fair Economy. The Hub Project then used them to mobilize volunteers and run advertising on policy issues against Republican members of Congress many months before the election. Several Democratic operatives involved in the group likened its role to that of Americans for Prosperity, the conservative advocacy network funded by the billionaire Koch brothers ... on a significantly smaller scale. Mr. Gerney, the group’s executive director, said in an interview that the initiative targeting several dozen congressional districts had been designed to keep the focus on the Republicans’ legislative agenda in an election heavily dominated by ... personality. He described it as a test case.
Note: Read more about the secretive political groups funded by dark money. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing elections corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.
Georgia secretary of state and gubernatorial candidate Brian Kemp improperly purged more than 340,000 voters from the state’s registration rolls, an investigation charges. Greg Palast, a journalist and the director of the Palast Investigative Fund, said an analysis he commissioned found 340,134 voters were removed from the rolls on the grounds that they had moved – but they actually still live at the address where they are registered. “Their registration is cancelled. Not pending, not inactive – cancelled. If they show up to vote on 6 November, they will not be allowed to vote. That’s wrong,” Palast [said]. It’s the latest voting rights controversy to crop up in the Georgia governor’s race, which pits Republican Kemp against Democrat Stacey Abrams, who if elected would become the first African American woman governor of any state. Lawsuits have also charged that Kemp blocked the registrations of 50,000 would-be voters, 80% of them black, Latino or Asian, because of minor discrepancies in the spelling or spacing of their name. Another suit targeted the state’s most diverse county after it rejected an unusually large number of absentee ballots. “Brian Kemp has abused his power as secretary of state of Georgia to purge the voting rolls of Georgia primarily of black and brown people,” said Joe Beasley, an Atlanta civil rights activist. “If he had ... integrity, he would have stepped aside as secretary of state, because you can’t referee an election in which you stand to be a winner.”
Marsha Appling-Nunez was showing the college students she teaches how to check online if they're registered to vote when she made a troubling discovery. Despite being an active Georgia voter who had cast ballots in recent elections, she was no longer registered. She tried re-registering, but with about one month left before a November election ... Appling-Nunez's application is one of over 53,000 sitting on hold with Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp's office. Kemp, who's also the Republican candidate for governor, is in charge of elections and voter registration in Georgia. His Democratic opponent, former state Rep. Stacey Abrams, and voting rights advocacy groups charge that Kemp is systematically using his office to suppress votes and tilt the election, and that his policies disproportionately affect black and minority voters. Through a process that Kemp calls voter roll maintenance and his opponents call voter roll purges, Kemp's office has cancelled over 1.4 million voter registrations since 2012. Nearly 670,000 registrations were cancelled in 2017 alone. According to records obtained from Kemp's office through a public records request, Appling-Nunez's application - like many of the 53,000 registrations on hold with Kemp's office - was flagged because it ran afoul of the state's "exact match" verification process. An analysis of the records obtained by The Associated Press reveals racial disparity in the process. Georgia's population is approximately 32 percent black, according to the U.S. Census, but the list of voter registrations on hold with Kemp's office is nearly 70 percent black.
Crystal Mason, the woman who became the poster child for voter suppression when she was sentenced to five years for casting a ballot in Texas, has gone into federal prison. Mason’s crime was to cast a ballot in the 2016 presidential election. An African American woman, she had been encouraged by her mother to do her civic duty and vote. When she turned up to the polling station her name was not on the register, so she cast a provisional ballot that was never counted. She did not read the small print of the form that said that anyone who has been convicted of a felony – as she had, having previously been convicted of tax fraud – was prohibited from voting under Texas law. For casting a vote that was not counted, she will now serve 10 months in the federal system. While locked up it is likely that her final appeals in state court will be exhausted, which means she could be passed at the end of the 10 months directly to state custody for a further five years. Her lawyer, Alison Grinter, said she was dismayed to see Mason ripped from her family. “This is an act of voter intimidation, not the will of a free people.” Grinter added: Texas ... has one of the most strict voter ID laws in the country. Fort Worth ... has been particularly hardline, not only prosecuting Mason but also going after a Hispanic woman, Rosa Ortega, for mistakenly voting as a non-US citizen. Ortega, 37, who had permanent resident status in the US having come to the country as an infant, was sentenced to eight years in prison to be followed by deportation.
As the 2018 elections approach, the American intelligence community is issuing increasingly dire warnings about potential interference from Russia and other countries. D.H.S. has now conducted remote-scanning and on-site assessments of state and county election systems. These [measures] don’t address core vulnerabilities in voting machines or the systems used to program them. And they ignore the fact that many voting machines that elections officials insist are disconnected from the internet — and therefore beyond the reach of hackers — are in fact accessible by way of the modems they use to transmit vote totals on election night. Add to this the fact that states don’t conduct robust postelection audits ... and there’s a good chance we simply won’t know if someone has altered the digital votes in the next election. How did our election system get so vulnerable, and why haven’t officials tried harder to fix it? The answer, ultimately, comes down to politics and money: The voting machines are made by well-connected private companies that wield immense control over their proprietary software, often fighting vigorously in court to prevent anyone from examining it when things go awry. The stakes are high. But the focus on Russia, or any would-be election manipulators, ignores the underlying issue — the myriad vulnerabilities that riddle the system and the ill-considered decisions that got us here.
Note: The major media have severely neglected reporting on elections manipulations that have been going on for many decades. For undeniable evidence of this, see our Elections Information Center.
A little-known, billionaire-funded organization, called Americans for Prosperity (AFP), has tilted American politics to the right. [It] is at the center of the political network created and directed by the billionaire conservative industrialists, Charles and David Koch. AFP has quietly pushed behind the scenes for many of the most important conservative victories across the nation, including the anti-union bills that passed in former union strongholds such as Wisconsin, Michigan, and Ohio. AFP’s laser-like focus on anti-union legislation ... reflects strategic calculations. AFP has recognized that to make lasting change in US politics, the Koch network would need to permanently weaken the organizations that support liberal candidates and causes – and above all, the labor movement. In constructing AFP, the Kochs have created a vehicle that is perfectly positioned to reshape American politics. AFP focuses on both elections and policy battles at all levels of government. Its activities are mostly centrally directed. And even though grassroots participants do not have much say in the direction of the group, AFP has nearly 3 million citizen activists signed up to mobilize for candidates and policy causes. Taken together, AFP’s grassroots volunteers and staffing rival those of the Republican party itself. By providing resources to support GOP candidates and officials, and exerting leverage on them once elected, AFP has been able to pull the Republican party to the far right on economic, tax and regulatory issues.
Note: The Koch brothers' secretive empire spent nearly $1 billion on US elections in 2016. Along with opposing organized labor, this empire has been killing public transit projects across the country. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on government corruption and the manipulation of public perception.
Georgia and four other states do not use paper ballots as a backup for electronic voting machines. In Washington, a group of bi-partisan lawmakers are banding to mandate the extra security measure across the nation. But right now, the Secretary of State, Brian Kemp is facing a federal lawsuit because he's reluctant to make the change before the upcoming November 6 election. In 2017, an investigation into the current system which uses 15 year old voting kiosks, was determined in serious jeopardy. But nothing was done. Instead, several databases with vital information was missing that could've assisted in the remedy. Democrat candidate Lisa Ring says voters are complaining they've been expunged from the rolls, that their designated and confirmed polling place was closed when they arrived for the Primary election, even worse, some saw their vote changing in front of their eyes. Candidate Lisa Ring/(D) Georgia 1st District: "We've heard reports all over the state of these old machines often not taking a person's vote. It'll change. Change the vote. And, sometimes, if people don't catch it, we don't know if the vote is being recorded accurately." Georgia is facing other election concerns as well. There is controversy over the boundary line drawn for at least one voting district, several polls were almost closed in a majority black district and the lawsuit looming in federal court. Georgia voters head to the polls November 6 to elect a new governor.
Note: How strange that the article was initially titled "Georgia Voters Watch Their Ballots Mysteriously Switch," as you can tell by looking at the URL, yet then it was changed. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing elections corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.
Four days before the 2016 congressional primary in her Northern California district, Erin Schrode woke up to tens of thousands of messages. They were ... in her email, on her cellphone, on her Facebook and her Twitter and her Instagram. “All would laugh with glee as they gang raped her and then bashed her bagel eating brains in,” one said. It has been two years since Ms. Schrode ... lost her Democratic primary and moved on. But the abuse - a toxic sludge of online trolling steeped in misogyny and anti-Semitism that also included photoshopped images of her face stretched into a Nazi lampshade and references to “preheating the ovens” - never stopped. The 2018 election cycle has brought a surge of female candidates. A record number of women ran or are running for the Senate, the House and governorships. And in the process, they are finding that harassment and threats, already common for women, can be amplified in political races - especially if the candidate is a member of a minority group. Last year, sexist and anti-Semitic abuse helped drive Kim Weaver, an Iowa Democrat, out of her race against Representative Steve King. The neo-Nazi website The Daily Stormer published an article ... titled, as Ms. Weaver recalled it, “Meet the Whore Who’s Running Against Steve King,” increasing what was already an onslaught of threats. When she withdrew from the race, Mr. King suggested she had made up the threats. No independent organization appears to formally track incidents of harassment.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing elections corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.
An 11-year-old has been able to hack into a replica of Florida’s election system in 10 minutes during a test ahead of upcoming US midterm elections this November. The boy was the fastest of 35 children who were able to hack into replicas of the websites of six swing states during the three-day Def Con security convention. The results of those efforts to test the strength of US election infrastructure will be passed onto the states, and the National Association of Secretaries of State - the officials responsible for tallying and confirming vote totals - said that they welcome the efforts. The results highlight potential security lapses amid heightened concern that American voter rolls will be tampered with in the upcoming midterm elections, and after President Donald Trump’s national security team warned that Russia had launched “pervasive” efforts to interfere in America’s 2018 elections. The convention indicated that the hackers were able to change party names in the systems, and added as many as 12 billion votes to candidates. “Candidates names were changed to ‘Bob Da Builder’ and ‘Richard Nixon’s head’,” the convention said in a tweet. The winning hacker was identified as Emmett Brewer, a boy whose Twitter account says he lives in Austin, Texas.
Note: 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.
Many critical election systems in the United States are poorly secured and protected against malicious attacks. In the 15 years since electronic voting machines were first adopted by many states, numerous reports by computer scientists have shown nearly every make and model to be vulnerable to hacking. The systems were not initially designed with robust security in mind, and even where security features were included, experts have found them to be poorly implemented with glaring holes. But for as long as experts have warned about security problems, voting machine makers and election officials have denied that the machines can be remotely hacked. Election officials also assert that routine procedures they perform would detect if someone altered transmitted votes or machine software. Experts, however, say ... that vendor claims about security can’t be trusted. "Vendors have absolutely fumbled every single attempt in security," says Jacob D. Stauffer, vice president of operations for Coherent Cyber, who has conducted voting-machine security assessments for California’s secretary of state for a decade. Stauffer and colleagues ... found the voting machines and election-management systems to be rife with security problems. Attackers could theoretically intercept unofficial results as they’re transmitted on election night — or, worse, use the modem connections to reach back into election machines at either end and install malware or alter election software and official results.
Note: 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.
When Crystal Mason appears in federal court in Fort Worth, Texas, this week she has been warned by her lawyers to be prepared for the worst. Mason, a 43-year-old mother of three, has been sentenced to five years in Texas state penitentiary. All because she committed the crime of voting. On 8 November 2016 ... she walked to her local Fort Worth polling station to perform her civic duty as a US citizen. To her surprise, her name wasn’t registered on the voting rolls, so she cast a provisional ballot. She didn’t ... know that under Texas’s strict electoral laws, she was ineligible to vote. By dint of a previous conviction for tax fraud, for which she had served five years in prison ... she was one of 500,000 Texans barred from the electoral process. After Trump’s victory she was called to a Fort Worth courthouse [and] received her five-year sentence for illegal voting. There is a cruel irony to Crystal Mason’s predicament. While it is true that Fort Worth has a major problem with democracy ... the crisis is not that people are voting illegally, but that they are not voting at all. In 2016, researchers at Portland State University compared the turnout in mayoral ballots in 50 US cities. Fort Worth ... had a turnout of just 6%. With participation rates at such dire levels, politicians might be expected to try with equal urgency to boost voting. But at both national and Texas state level, the response from Republicans has been quite the opposite – they have embarked on a rash of efforts that tend to suppress turnout.
Note: A commission formed by President Trump to investigate supposed voter fraud found no evidence to support Trump's claims that 3 to 5 million people voted illegally in 2016. Maine Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap said the commission was, "the most bizarre thing I’ve ever been a part of." For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing elections corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.
One of the country’s largest voting machine makers has admitted in a letter to a U.S. senator that some of its past election-management systems had remote-access software preinstalled, despite past denials that any of its systems were equipped with such software. Election Systems and Software (ES&S) told Democratic Senator Ron Wyden ... that the company provided election equipment with remote connection software to an unspecified number of states from 2000 to 2006. “ES&S provided pcAnywhere remote connection software on the [Election-Management System] workstation to a small number of customers between 2000 and 2006,” wrote Tom Burt, ES&S president. The election-management system is used to count official election results and sometimes to program voting machines. PcAnywhere was the name of the remote-access software made by Symantec. In 2012, Symantec told all of its customers to disable or to uninstall the software after admitting it had been hacked in 2006, at the same time that ES&S was selling election-management systems with pcAnywhere preinstalled. ES&S would not say how many systems were sold with the software from 2000 to 2006 but stressed the company stopped using it in 2007, after it was prohibited by the Election Assistance Commission. A computer science professor at Carnegie Mellon University discovered in 2011 that the technology was pre-installed on an election-management system that was sold to a Pennsylvania county.
Note: For more on this threat to democracy, see this excellent essay. 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.
Maine Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap, one of the 11 members of the commission formed by President Trump to investigate supposed voter fraud, issued a scathing rebuke of the disbanded panel on Friday, accusing Vice Chair Kris Kobach and the White House of making false statements and saying that he had concluded that the panel had been set up to try to validate the president’s baseless claims about fraudulent votes in the 2016 election. Before it was disbanded by Trump in January, the panel had never presented any findings or evidence of widespread voter fraud. But the White House claimed at the time that it had shut down the commission despite “substantial evidence of voter fraud” due to the mounting legal challenges it faced from states. Dunlap said of ... more than 8,000 pages of [commission documents that were turned over to him], “It wasn’t just a matter of investigating President Trump’s claims that 3 to 5 million people voted illegally, but the goal of the commission seems to have been to validate those claims.” Dunlap said that ... the voting fraud panel was marked by obfuscation, secrecy and confusion related to the work the panel was engaged in. So Dunlap filed a lawsuit against the commission ... alleging that he and the other Democratic members were being excluded from its work and materials. He received the documents he sought only ... after a federal judge ordered the administration to turn them over, despite the objections of the Justice Department.
Note: 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.
In every American election there are some voters who show up to their polling place ready to cast a ballot, only to find their name isn’t on the registration list. The reason? Voter purges, an often flawed effort to update voter rolls by removing voters’ names from registration lists. Virginians fell victim in 2013, when nearly 39,000 voters were removed when the state relied on faulty data to determine which names should be deleted. In 2016 it was New Yorkers, when the New York City board of elections wrongly deleted more than 200,000 names. A new Brennan Center report found that purges could threaten the right to vote for millions in November. Purges have increased particularly in a handful of largely southern states which were freed from oversight by the supreme court’s landmark 2013 decision in Shelby County v Holder. Before Shelby County, areas around the country with histories of racial discrimination in voting were prohibited from making election changes without first showing that the change would not make minority voters worse off. Some states and jurisdictions are using bad information to determine who should be removed from the rolls, like relying on a faulty list that flags eligible voters as ineligible. Some are depending on matching criteria used by a problematic purge database called Crosscheck, which has been found to be more likely to flag African American, Asian American and Latino voters for removal than Caucasian voters.
Tax-exempt nonprofit organizations supposedly devoted to “social welfare” can spend large amounts of money to influence elections without publicly disclosing the identities of their donors. But instead of cracking down on the use of “dark money” for political purposes, the Internal Revenue Service has decided to stop requiring these groups to reveal even to the government the sources of their funding. On Monday, the IRS and the Treasury Department announced they would no longer require 501(c)(4) groups ... to supply the government with the identities of donors who gave more than $5,000 in a single year. It’s a step backward that could make it easier for money from foreign sources to find its way into U.S. elections. But while this week’s policy change may not affect what the public may learn about political spending by so-called social welfare groups, it could make it more difficult for the government to police laws against spending by foreigners on U.S. elections. Fred Wertheimer, president of the campaign reform group Democracy 21, warned that, with the end of the reporting requirement, “there is no way to determine if a 501(c)(4) advocacy group that is spending money to influence federal elections is taking that money from [a] foreign interest.”
The documentary “Dark Money” turns a story about campaign finance into a political thriller. Beyond that - in a veritable magic trick in these divisive times - viewers may well find themselves rooting for politicians who don’t share their political views. “Dark Money” ... delves into a seemingly nonpartisan issue: the use of anonymous funds to influence political campaigns on both sides of the aisle. Director Kimberly Reed ... first became interested in the topic after Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission, the 2010 U.S. Supreme Court decision that political spending was a protected form of free speech. “I joked around for years that I was going to change my name to Cassandra, because nobody was listening to my prophecies of doom,” said Reed. “You could just see that campaign finance was going to get worse and worse, and I watched it happen every election cycle.” The outcome has been even grimmer than she imagined. In addition to the flood of corporate money that funded super PACs, a more insidious tidal wave started to wash over the country in the form of anonymous donations, or “dark money.” Looking for a way into the challenging material, Reed found it in ... her home state of Montana. Former Federal Election Commission Chair Ann Ravel appears in “Dark Money” to provide a depressing counterpoint to Montana’s battle. “It’s such a good movie,” Ravel said, “because Kim juxtaposes what’s happening on the federal level with the hopeful side in Montana and in other states.”
Note: Find out more about this important documentary on the film's official website. 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.
Which is worse, corruption you can see or corruption you can't? In Dark Money, a documentary about invisible corporate shenanigans in her home state of Montana, director Kimberly Reed makes the incisive case that the latter threatens to sink our democracy outright. Dark Money opens and closes with a flock of geese flying over a toxic copper quarry. As Reed's story unfolds, we learn that the beautiful birds' mass demise is only a tiny fraction of the wreckage caused by shady money moguls tinkering with electoral campaigns over a hundred years of Montana history. Montana is also ... the only state, according to Reed, to have fought back locally against the U.S. Supreme Court's 2010 rollback of laws preventing corporations and unions using their treasury funds for electioneering. Reed shows how Democrats and Republicans running for political and judicial office found themselves targeted by vicious attack ads from deep-pocketed non-profits with blandly vanilla names like Citizens United or Americans For Prosperity, or strategically crowd-pleasing monikers like Mothers Against Child Predators. No one had ever heard of these shape-shifting advocacy groups, and it was difficult to track the money back to the shadowy ideologues hiding behind them. [The] film shows how, with the Internet's global reach and the ever-growing concentration of money and power, dark money is redrawing the political landscape in ways that render parties irrelevant and imperil democracy itself.
Note: Find out more about this important documentary on the film's official website. 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.
The nation’s largest voting equipment vendor has for at least nine years coaxed state and local elections officials to serve on an “advisory board” that gathers twice annually for company-sponsored conferences, including one last year at a ritzy Las Vegas resort hotel. The arrangement could compromise the integrity of the officials' decisions. As many as a dozen election officials attended the March 2, 2017 Las Vegas meeting, with a number of them accepting airfare, lodging, meals and, according to one participant, a ticket to a show on the Strip from their voting systems vendor, Nebraska-based Election Systems and Software (ES&S). The unusual practice, which has not previously been reported, offers a glimpse of one way in which a voting equipment manufacturer has sought to cement relationships with government officials, some of whom play roles in the award of millions of dollars in contracts. Ethics experts and election watchdogs say the company's hospitality and hobnobbing with government officials is potentially corrupting. Many states are continuing a shift to voting systems that produce paper backup ballots, so vote counts can be verified in post-election audits. ES&S is peddling electronic ballot-marking devices that produce paper ballots to be fed into optical scanners – equipment that critics contend should be limited to use by disabled voters. Paper ballots, they say, are far less expensive and can be scanned and quickly tabulated.
Note: Why all the focus on Russia manipulating US elections, when this alone shows how US elections are being manipulated by internal groups? For undeniable evidence that elections have been manipulated for years by political groups in the country, see our Elections Information Center.
State police have detained and disarmed the entire police force of a town in western Mexico where a mayoral candidate was killed on Thursday. Video of the detention aired by local media showed uniformed officers hitting each other as gunshots go off in the background. The Michoacán state police force said, "All the officers of the Ocampo municipal police force were detained for an internal affairs investigation." The state police department did not directly tie the detentions to the ... killing of Fernando Ángeles Juárez, the mayoral candidate for the leftist Democratic Revolution Party. He was killed in Ocampo, Michoacán. Ángeles Juárez is just one of at least 18 candidates killed so far in campaigns leading up to the July 1 elections. Just last week, another mayoral candidate was also gunned down in the conflict-ridden rural town of Aguililla in Michoacán. Almost all of the 18 candidates killed across the country so far have been running for local posts in the July 1 elections, which will also decide the presidency, governorships and Congress. Other politicians who were considering a run have been killed before they could even register as candidates. [Mexican security analyst Alejandro] Hope noted, “there has been a breakdown in the management of disputes,” largely in rural areas, where turf wars between rival gangs have heated up, even as the government has become overextended and less able to intervene.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing police corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.
This is a tale of two defendants and two systems of justice. Suspected of colluding with the Russian government, the former campaign manager for Donald Trump, [Paul Manafort, was] indicted on a dozen charges involving conspiracy, money laundering, bank fraud, and lying to federal investigators. Manafort avoided jail by posting $10 million in bond, though he was confined to his luxury condo in Alexandria, Virginia. Reality Winner, an Air Force veteran and former contractor for the National Security Agency ... was accused of leaking an NSA document that showed how Russians tried to hack American voting systems in 2016. Her case is related to Manafort’s in this sense: While Manafort is suspected of aiding the Russian effort, Winner is accused of warning Americans about it. Even though she has been indicted on just one count of leaking classified information and faces far less prison time than Manafort, the judge in her case ... denied her bail. Winner spent the holidays at the Lincolnton jail, which is smaller in its entirety than Manafort’s Hampton’s estate. The U.S. government rarely acts kindly toward the leakers it chooses to prosecute - unless they happen to be popular figures like David Petraeus, the former general and CIA director who shared with his girlfriend several notebooks filled with top-secret information; he was allowed to plead guilty to just a misdemeanor charge. Last year, Attorney General Jeff Sessions proudly announced that the DOJ was investigating three times as many leaks as in the Obama era.
Note: The NSA document Winner is accused of leaking revealed high-level interference in a US election. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on corruption in the intelligence community and in the judicial system.
Four decades ago, [CIA operative Stefan] Halper was responsible for a long-forgotten spying scandal involving the 1980 election. The Reagan campaign – using CIA officials managed by Halper, reportedly under the direction of former CIA Director and then-Vice-Presidential candidate George H.W. Bush – got caught running a spying operation from inside the Carter administration. The plot involved CIA operatives passing classified information about Carter’s foreign policy to Reagan campaign officials. Over the past several weeks, House Republicans have been claiming that the FBI during the 2016 election used an operative to spy on the Trump campaign, and they triggered outrage within the FBI by trying to learn his identity. On May 8, the Washington Post described the informant as “a top-secret intelligence source” and cited DOJ officials as arguing that disclosure of his name “could risk lives by potentially exposing the source, a U.S. citizen who has provided intelligence to the CIA and FBI.” But now ... everyone knows the name of the FBI’s informant: Stefan Halper. So as it turns out, the informant used by the FBI in 2016 to gather information on the Trump campaign was not some previously unknown, top-secret asset whose exposure as an operative could jeopardize lives. Quite the contrary: his decades of work for the CIA – including his role in an obviously unethical if not criminal spying operation during the 1980 presidential campaign – is quite publicly known.
We brought together a panel of more than 100 cybersecurity leaders from across government, the private sector, academia and the research community for a new feature called The Network — an ongoing, informal survey. Our first survey revealed deep concerns that states aren’t prepared to defend themselves against the types of cyberattacks that disrupted the 2016 presidential election. Several experts said that state voter registration databases are particularly vulnerable — and make an appealing target for attackers who want to sow confusion and undermine confidence in the voting process. “The voting machines themselves are only part of the story,” said Matt Blaze, a cryptographer and computer science professor. “The ‘back end’ systems, used by states and counties for voter registration and counting ballots, are equally critical to election security, and these systems are often connected, directly or indirectly, to the Internet.” Jay Kaplan, co-founder of the cybersecurity firm Synack, notes a bright spot: The Election Assistance Commission has a national voting system certification program to independently verify that a voting system meets security requirements. “However, testing for this certification is completely optional,” said Kaplan. “States can set their own standards for voting systems. As such, some states are significantly more buttoned up than others. The reality is states are understaffed, underfunded, and are too heavily reliant on election-system vendors securing their own systems.”
Note: Many states have purchased electronic voting machines that are surprisingly easy to hack from private companies. It has also been clearly demonstrated that elections software purchased from private companies to manage voter registration in many states is vulnerable to common cyberattacks. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing elections corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.
A Texas woman was sentenced to five years in prison for voting in the 2016 presidential election when she was ineligible because she was on probation. Crystal Mason ... is a former tax preparer who was previously convicted in 2012 on charges related to inflating refunds for clients. She testified that she didn’t know people convicted of felonies can’t vote until they complete their sentence, The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported. She told the newspaper last year following her indictment that she had gone to vote at her mother’s encouragement and wasn’t told when released from federal prison that she could not cast a ballot. Mason’s ... case was prosecuted in Tarrant County, the same place where a Mexican national last year was sentenced to eight years in prison over illegal voting. Voting illegally in Texas is a second-degree felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison. Mason used a provisional ballot to vote, and it was not counted. She believes she was being targeted for prosecution because she voted for Democrat Hillary Clinton over Republican Donald Trump for president. Voter fraud convictions are rare, but Texas Republicans leaders have zealously pursued a crackdown on illegal voting in recent years. A federal judge has twice blocked Texas’ voter ID law. Mason testified that when she voted ... she signed a provisional ballot affidavit stating that she had not been convicted of a felony. Prosecutors said she signed the form with the intent to vote illegally, but Mason’s attorney called it a mistake.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing elections corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.
The Arizona legislature passed a bill that protects anonymous political spending Thursday, less than a month after Tempe, Arizona, residents voted overwhelmingly to increase transparency on that type of spending in local elections. The battle between city and state opens a new front in the national debate over so-called “dark money” in politics; it's also the first time a state has moved to ban local governments from shining light on secret spending. This type of spending is most consequential at the local level, experts say, because since local elections are relatively cheap and receive little media coverage, ads or mailers backed by just a few thousand dollars of dark money can easily dominate a campaign. More than 90 percent of Tempe voters cast ballots for an amendment to the city’s charter requiring all groups spending more than $1,000 on local races to disclose their donors in March. In response, the Republican-controlled Arizona Legislature passed a bill last week that bans local governments from requiring non-profit groups, the most common dark money vehicles, to disclose the source of their funding. Thanks to the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision, these groups can spend an unlimited amount of money on elections, so long as they don’t coordinate with candidates and their parties. Anonymous spending has surged. As a result, cities and states have passed their own political disclosure laws. Denver and Philadelphia, for example, have passed laws requiring disclosure of dark money.
Note: South Dakota citizens also voted for tougher ethics laws, only to have this reversed by the state's Republicans. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing elections corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.
Ex-CIA Director James Woolsey said it himself. Yes, the U.S. meddles in other countries elections. But when we do it, it’s for the right reasons. “Only for a very good cause,” he says, because our government is ensuring foreign elections result in “democracy.” But doesn’t democracy demand that people decide for themselves? And how well has U.S. meddling actually worked out? According to Carnegie Mellon University researcher Dov Levin, the United States has attempted to sway elections in other countries more than 80 times worldwide between 1946 and 2000. But those 80+ instances of the U.S. interfering with other nations elections does not include regime change efforts. In the 1970s in Chile, the CIA conducted a botched kidnapping of General René Schneider, the Chilean Army’s commander-in-chief, that resulted in Schneider’s death. The plot was an effort to undermine the presidency of Salvador Allende, which may have fueled the violent coup that led to Allende’s overthrow. In 1974, Henry Kissinger was quoted in Newsweek, saying about Chile: “I don’t see why we have to let a country go communist due to the irresponsibility of its own people.” Levin’s tally also does not include covert coup d’etats where our government overthrows a foreign leader like the the U.S. did in Iran in 1953 or in Guatemala in 1954. In fact, Salon magazine documents 35 nations in which the United States has overthrown legitimate governments and or supported fascists, drug lords or terrorists. U.S. intervention is rarely about democracy.
Note: Truth in Media is one of the few media outlets speaking truth from a balanced place with reliable facts can be verified. Don't miss the excellent video at the webpage above. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing elections corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.
Sitting in a hotel bar, Alexander Nix, who runs the political data firm Cambridge Analytica, had a few ideas for a prospective client looking for help in a foreign election. The firm could send an attractive woman to seduce a rival candidate and secretly videotape the encounter, Mr. Nix said, or send someone posing as a wealthy land developer to pass a bribe. “We have a long history of working behind the scenes,” Mr. Nix said. The prospective client, though, was actually a reporter. The encounter was secretly filmed as part of a monthslong investigation into Cambridge Analytica, the data firm with ties to President Trump’s 2016 campaign. The results of Channel 4’s work were broadcast ... days after reports ... that the firm had harvested the data from more than 50 million Facebook profiles in its bid to develop techniques for predicting the behavior of individual American voters. Less noticed has been the work that Cambridge Analytica and its parent company, the SCL Group, have done outside the United States. “Many of our clients don’t want to be seen to be working with a foreign company,” he told the Channel 4 reporter. “We can set up fake IDs and websites.” Mr. Nix ... boasted that Cambridge Analytica employs front companies and former spies on behalf of political clients. The information that is uncovered ... is then put “into the bloodstream to the internet,” said Mark Turnbull, another Cambridge executive. “Then watch it grow,” he added. “It has to happen without anyone thinking, ‘That’s propaganda.’”
Note: Watch an astounding video revealing how Cambridge Analytica has successfully manipulated national elections around the world using sleazy tactics like pretty women to entrap candidates and offering major bribes while recording the exchange. And here is a video featuring the whistleblower who exposed this.
At 24, [Christopher Wylie] came up with an idea that led to the foundation of a company called Cambridge Analytica, a data analytics firm that went on to claim a major role in the Leave campaign for Britain’s EU membership referendum, and later became a key figure in digital operations during Donald Trump’s election campaign. In 2014, Steve Bannon ... was Wylie’s boss. And Robert Mercer, the secretive US hedge-fund billionaire and Republican donor, was Cambridge Analytica’s investor. The idea they bought into was to bring big data and social media to an established military methodology – “information operations” – then turn it on the US electorate. By , Steve Bannon had become Trump’s chief strategist. Cambridge Analytica’s parent company, SCL, had won contracts with the US State Department and was pitching to the Pentagon, and Wylie was genuinely freaked out. “It’s insane,” he told me one night. “The company has created psychological profiles of 230 million Americans. And now they want to work with the Pentagon? It’s like Nixon on steroids.” He ended up showing me a tranche of documents that laid out the secret workings behind Cambridge Analytica. Wylie ... came up with a plan to harvest the Facebook profiles of millions of people in the US, and to use their private and personal information to create sophisticated psychological and political profiles. And then target them with political ads designed to work on their particular psychological makeup.
Note: Billionaire Robert Mercer used this new new technology to build a corporate empire capable of swinging elections by using military propaganda strategies on civilian populations. The above article further details how mass media is being combined with Big Data to produce powerful new forms of mind control. Watch an astounding video revealing how Cambridge Analytica has successfully manipulated national elections around the world.
Imagine it is the spring of 2019. A bottom-feeding website, perhaps tied to Russia, “surfaces” video of a sex scene starring an 18-year-old Kirsten Gillibrand. It is soon debunked as a fake, the product of a user-friendly video application that employs generative adversarial network technology to convincingly swap out one face for another. Then it is fall. The junior senator from New York State announces her campaign for the presidency. At a diner in New Hampshire, one “low information” voter asks another: “Kirsten What’s-her-name? She’s running for president? Didn’t she have something to do with pornography?” Welcome to the shape of things to come. The technology [is] closer than you might think. And even when fake video isn’t perfect, it can convince people who want to be convinced, especially when it reinforces ... stereotypes. It might be impossible to stop the advance of this kind of technology. But the relevant algorithms here aren’t only the ones that run on computer hardware. They are also the ones that undergird our too easily hacked media system, where garbage acquires the perfumed scent of legitimacy with all too much ease. It already feels as though we are living in an alternative science-fiction universe where no one agrees on what it true. Just think how much worse it will be when fake news becomes fake video. Democracy assumes that its citizens share the same reality. We’re about to find out whether democracy can be preserved when this assumption no longer holds.
Note: Read more about producing fake video with computer programs. While governments have long been developing technologies to produce very convincing illusions, and it has become trivial to edit video footage of a person talking to change their words and facial expressions, this emerging technology makes it possible to manipulate mass media in previously impossible ways.
The CIA has accused Russia of interfering in the 2016 presidential election. But critics might point out the U.S. has done similar things. The U.S. has a long history of attempting to influence presidential elections in other countries – it's done so as many as 81 times between 1946 and 2000, according to a database amassed by political scientist Dov Levin of Carnegie Mellon University. That number doesn't include military coups and regime change efforts following the election of candidates the U.S. didn't like, notably those in Iran, Guatemala and Chile. Levin defines intervention as "a costly act which is designed to determine the election results [in favor of] one of the two sides." These acts, carried out in secret two-thirds of the time, include funding the election campaigns of specific parties, disseminating misinformation or propaganda, training locals of only one side in various campaigning or get-out-the-vote techniques, helping one side design their campaign materials, making public pronouncements or threats in favor of or against a candidate, and providing or withdrawing foreign aid. The U.S. hasn't been the only one trying to interfere in other countries' elections. Russia attempted to sway 36 foreign elections from the end of World War II to the turn of the century – meaning that, in total, at least one of the two great powers of the 20th century intervened in about 1 of every 9 competitive, national-level executive elections in that time period.
A year ago today, President Donald Trump’s newly sworn–in national security adviser, Michael Flynn, met privately in his West Wing office with FBI investigators interested in his communications with Russia's ambassador, without a lawyer or the knowledge of the president and other top White House officials. Flynn's FBI interview on Jan. 24, 2017, set in motion an extraordinary sequence of events. Flynn was fired as national security adviser after 24 days on the job, the acting attorney general was fired 10 days after the president took office, the FBI director was allegedly pressured by the president to let go of an investigation into Flynn, and then eventually fired himself. The attorney general recused himself from a federal investigation into Russia's meddling in the 2016 U.S. election and possible collusion with the sitting president's campaign, and a special counsel was appointed. The developments ensnared the president in an obstruction of justice inquiry. By the end of 2017, special counsel Robert Mueller’s team had spoken with Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats; Mike Rogers, the director of the National Security Agency; former FBI Director James Comey; and numerous members of Trump’s campaign and White House inner circle. Flynn pleaded guilty last month to lying to the FBI. For Trump opponents, his war with the FBI is an effort to undermine the Russia investigation. For Trump and his allies, he’s battling a conspiracy within the top ranks of the Justice Department to undermine his presidency.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing government corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.
Opposition parties in Honduras have attacked the failure of the US to denounce the controversial declaration of President Juan Orlando Hernández as winner of a widely disputed election. International observers with the Organization of American States say the vote was so discredited that it was impossible to declare a valid result. But the US State Department noted that an election court had ratified the result of the November 26 election. Honduras' Supreme Electoral Tribunal said Hernández won the election with 42.9% of the votes, edging his main challenger, Salvador Nasralla, who was declared second with 41.24%. The opposition accuses Hernandez of stuffing the court with supporters who helped him change the constitution to allow him to seek a second term. Hundreds of angry opposition supporters protested in the streets of the capital Tegucigalpa Monday following the announcement of the court's decision. The US has a large military base in Honduras, which has led to accusations that both the current and previous US administrations are turning a blind eye to political violence and corruption in the country. The Organization of American States raised a string of concerns about the election, [and] referred to "deliberate human intrusions in the computer system, intentional elimination of digital traces," and "pouches of votes open or lacking votes." The administration of Hernández has also been dogged by allegations of corruption and drug trafficking.
Note: Honduras was one of only eight countries which backed Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as capital of Israel. In 2017, leaked court documents raised concerns that the 2016 murder of an Honduran activist was "an extrajudicial killing planned by military intelligence specialists linked to the country’s US–trained special forces". For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing elections corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.
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.
A small nonprofit called the Judicial Crisis Network poured millions into a campaign to stop the Senate from confirming Barack Obama’s Supreme Court pick last year, and then spent millions more supporting President Donald Trump’s choice for the same seat. JCN’s money came almost entirely from yet another secretive nonprofit, the Wellspring Committee, which flooded JCN with nearly $23.5 million in 2016. Most of Wellspring’s funds, in turn, came from a single mysterious donor who gave the organization almost $28.5 million. Like JCN, Wellspring - at one time tied to ... conservative industrialists Charles and David Koch - is a nonprofit that is supposed to be dedicated to social welfare functions and doesn’t have to disclose the names of its benefactors. Since the 2010 Citizens United Supreme Court decision loosened certain constraints on political spending, these and other ... groups have become increasingly politically active while providing anonymity to their donors. "Wellspring Committee acted as a dark money conduit to provide an extra layer of secrecy to whomever was bankrolling the Judicial Crisis Network ads," [said] Brendan Fischer of the ... Campaign Legal Center. "This has the effect of layering secrecy on top of secrecy, and almost entirely insulating donors from any form of public accountability." The American Future Fund, another former Koch “dark money” nonprofit, pulled in $2 million from Wellspring last year. It spent more than $12.7 million in 2016 federal elections without disclosing its donors.
Note: Read more about the influence of billionaire oligarchs on US politics. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing elections corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.
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.
Hackers were able to successfully breach the software of U.S. voting machines in less than two hours at a competition in Las Vegas. The event exposed glaring deficiencies in the security of U.S. voting infrastructure. According to the Register, the hackers at the DEF CON conference Friday were given voting machines, and competed to access them by physically breaking them open and hacking them remotely. Some devices had remote ports, which could be used to insert devices with malicious software, others insecure WiFi connections, or outdated software such as Windows XP, rendering them exposed to hacking attacks. The machines, manufactured by companies including Diebold, Sequoia and Winvote equipment, were purchased over eBay or at government auctions. In June, the Intercept published leaked NSA documents showing that Russian agents hacked a U.S. voting systems manufacturer in the weeks leading to last year’s presidential election. NSA contractor Reality Leigh Winner, 25, was subsequently charged with removing classified material from a government facility and mailing it to a news outlet. “Without question, our voting systems are weak and susceptible. Thanks to the contributions of the hacker community today, we've uncovered even more about exactly how,” said Jake Braun, the Chief Executive Officer of Cambridge Global Advisors and Managing Director of Cambridge Global Capital, who designed the hacking competition.
Note: Many who follow elections closely have known and spread the word for years about serious vulnerabilities in US electronic voting. Read an enlightening analysis of elections hacking in the US which raises many serious questions. And don't miss the critically important information provided in our Elections Information Center.
In 2006, Princeton computer science professor Edward Felten received an anonymous message offering him a Diebold AccuVote TS, one of the most widely used touch-screen voting machines at the time. Felten’s team then spent the summer working ... to reverse-engineer the machine. In September 2006, they published a research paper and an accompanying video detailing how they could spread malicious code to the AccuVote TS to change the record of the votes to produce whatever outcome the code writers desired. And the code could spread from one machine to another like a virus. That was more than a decade ago, but Georgia still uses the AccuVote TS. The state is one of five ― the others are Delaware, Louisiana, New Jersey and South Carolina ― that rely entirely on [direct-recording electronic machines, or] DREs for voting. Ten other states use a combination of paper ballots and DRE machines that leave no paper trail. Many use a newer version of the AccuVote known as the TSX ― even though computer scientists have demonstrated that machine, too, is vulnerable to hacking. Others use the Sequoia AVC Advantage, which Princeton professor Andrew Appel demonstrated could be similarly manipulated in a 2007 legal filing. On Nov. 7, the day before last year’s elections, former CIA Director James Woolsey flagged DRE voting machines as a key vulnerability. “If I were a bad guy from another country who wanted to disrupt the American system ... I’d concentrate on messing up the touch-screen systems,” he told Fox News.
Note: Many who follow elections closely have known and spread the word for years about serious vulnerabilities in US electronic voting. Read an enlightening analysis of elections hacking in the US which raises many serious questions. And don't miss the critically important information provided in our Elections Information Center.
House Republicans are seeking to defund the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, the sole federal agency that exclusively works to ensure the voting process is secure. The defunding move comes as the EAC is working with the Federal Bureau of Investigation to examine an attack late last year on the agency’s computer systems by a Russian-speaking hacker. The Election Assistance Commission said in December it was “working with federal law enforcement agencies to investigate the potential breach and its effects.” The commission provides election-management guidelines and develops specifications for certifying voting systems, though responsibility for administering elections ultimately falls to state and local governments. The hacking probe is being conducted at the same time the FBI is undertaking a broader investigation into Russia meddling in the 2016 presidential election, including attempts to get into state election databases, and whether anyone working with President Donald Trump’s campaign colluded in the effort. Mr. Trump and his campaign have denied any collusion with Russian hacking. The hack appeared to include a breach of the EAC’s administrative-access credentials as well as access to nonpublic reports on flaws in voting machines, according to ... an analyst with cybersecurity firm Recorded Future.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing elections corruption news articles from reliable major media sources. And don't miss the critically important information provided in our Elections Information Center.
Forty-five states and the District of Columbia are mounting a bipartisan rebellion against President Donald Trump’s commission on vote fraud by either declining to release any of the requested data or by providing only limited information to the panel. The Presidential Advisory Commission on Voter Integrity's request for extensive personal information about voters has ignited a firestorm in many states, including from both Republican and Democrat officials who oversee elections. The panel is seeking "dates of birth, political party (if recorded in your state), last four digits of social security number if available, voter history (elections voted in) from 2006 onward, active/inactive status, cancelled status, information regarding any felony convictions, information regarding voter registration in another state, information regarding military status, and overseas citizen information." Nineteen states - both red and blue - and D.C. are flat-out refusing to comply with the request, citing privacy concerns and some claiming the 15-member vote fraud panel is politically-motivated. Many officials have expressed disbelief and outrage at the commission's call to hand over a staggering amount of voter data, some of which they say is confidential or sensitive. It is unclear how the commission plans to move forward after the backlash. The panel is slated to meet later this month.
Note: After several lawsuits, the voting panel is now telling states to hold off on sending data. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing elections corruption news articles from reliable major media sources. And don't miss the critically important information provided in our Elections Information Center.
President Trump's Election Integrity Commission is asking all 50 states to turn over all publicly available voter registration data, including highly sensitive information about voters' political affiliation, Social Security numbers, criminal history and military status. The request was initiated by commission co-chair Kris Kobach, the secretary of state in Kansas and a fervent believer that voter fraud is widespread despite decades of evidence to the contrary. In Kansas, Kobach championed the use of Crosscheck, a multistate database of voter registration information that authorities use to check whether voters are registered in two states. Kobach has said he's interested in using a similar process to compare state voter roll data to a federal database of legal immigrants. Crosscheck's matching algorithms are highly inaccurate. A recent working paper by researchers at Stanford, the University of Pennsylvania, Harvard and Microsoft found that Crosscheck's algorithm returns about 200 false positives for every one legitimate instance of double registration it finds. “We're concerned about unlawful voter purging, which has been something that Kris Kobach has been leading the charge,” said Vanita Gupta of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and former head of the Justice Department's civil rights division. Some of Kobach's voter ID requirements have been struck down in federal court, with one federal judge ruling that they constituted “mass denial of a fundamental constitutional right.”
Note: Learn how 25 states are resisting this request in this Washington Post article. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing elections corruption news articles from reliable major media sources. And don't miss the critically important information provided in our Elections Information Center.
Sensitive personal details relating to almost 200 million US citizens have been accidentally exposed by a marketing firm contracted by the Republican National Committee. The 1.1 terabytes of data includes birthdates, home addresses, telephone numbers and political views of nearly 62% of the entire US population. The data was available on a publicly accessible Amazon cloud server. Anyone could access the data. The information seems to have been collected from a wide range of sources - from posts on controversial banned threads on the social network Reddit, to committees that raised funds for the Republican Party. The information was stored in spreadsheets uploaded to a server owned by Deep Root Analytics. It had last been updated in January. Although it is known that political parties routinely gather data on voters, this is the largest breach of electoral data in the US to date and privacy experts are concerned about the sheer scale of the data gathered. "This is not just sensitive, it's intimate information, predictions about people's behaviour, opinions and beliefs that people have never decided to disclose to anyone," [said] Privacy International's policy officer Frederike Kaltheuner. However, the issue of data collection and using computer models to predict voter behaviour is not just limited to marketing firms - Privacy International says that the entire online advertising ecosystem operates in the same way.
Note: Elites like hedge fund billionaire Robert Mercer have been backing a major effort to produce powerful new forms of mind control by combining mass media with Big Data. As the data collected for this purpose becomes increasingly accessible, privacy disappears.
People connected to the Russian government tried to hack election-related computer systems in 21 states. Samuel Liles, the Department of Homeland Security’s acting director of the Office of Intelligence and Analysis Cyber Division, said vote-tallying mechanisms were unaffected and that the hackers appeared to be scanning for vulnerabilities — which Liles likened to walking down the street and looking at homes to see who might be inside. Liles was testifying before the Senate Intelligence Committee, which is investigating Russia’s efforts to meddle in the 2016 presidential election. Officials in Arizona and Illinois had previously confirmed that hackers targeted their voter registration system. In a separate hearing ... former Department of Homeland Security secretary Jeh Johnson testified that Russia’s meddling ... was “unprecedented, the scale and the scope of what we saw them doing.” He said the severity of Russia’s efforts persuaded him to sign onto an Oct. 7 statement publicly blaming the Kremlin for what had happened. “We needed to do it, and we needed to do it well before the election to inform American voters of what we saw,” Johnson said. FBI Assistant Director of Counterintelligence Bill Priestap ... said Russia for years has tried to influence U.S. elections but that the “scale” and “aggressiveness” of its efforts in 2016 made the attempts more significant.
Note: Many who follow elections closely have known and spread the word for years about serious vulnerabilities in US electronic voting, yet only now that Russia is involved is it getting widespread coverage. Do you really think the Russians are the only ones who have hacked US elections? Read an enlightening analysis of elections hacking in the US which raises many serious questions. And don't miss the critically important information provided in our Elections Information Center.
Russia’s cyberattack on the U.S. electoral system before [the recent] election was far more widespread than has been publicly revealed, including incursions into voter databases and software systems in almost twice as many states as previously reported. In Illinois, investigators found evidence that cyber intruders tried to delete or alter voter data. The hackers accessed software designed to be used by poll workers on Election Day, and in at least one state accessed a campaign finance database. Details of the wave of attacks, in the summer and fall of 2016, were provided by three people with direct knowledge of the U.S. investigation into the matter. In all, the Russian hackers hit systems in a total of 39 states. The scope and sophistication so concerned Obama administration officials that they took an unprecedented step -- complaining directly to Moscow over a modern-day “red phone.” In October, two of the people said, the White House contacted the Kremlin on the back channel to offer detailed documents of what it said was Russia’s role in election meddling and to warn that the attacks risked setting off a broader conflict. The new details, buttressed by a classified National Security Agency document recently disclosed by the Intercept ... paint a worrisome picture for future elections: [This is] the newest portrayal of potentially deep vulnerabilities in the U.S.’s patchwork of voting technologies.
Note: Many who follow elections closely have known and spread the word for years about serious vulnerabilities in US electronic voting, yet only now that Russia is involved is it getting widespread coverage. Do you really think the Russians are the only ones who have hacked US elections? Read an enlightening analysis of elections hacking in the US which raises many serious questions. And don't miss the critically important information provided in our Elections Information Center.
Russian military intelligence attempted to cyber-attack a U.S. voting software supplier and more than 100 local election officials in the days leading up to the 2016 presidential election, The Intercept reported Monday. According to an NSA document ... Russian military intelligence cyber-attacked a U.S. voting software supplier, using information gained in that attack to “launch a voter registration-themed spear-phishing campaign targeting U.S. local government organizations. Russian General Staff Main Intelligence Directorate actors … executed cyber espionage operations against a named U.S. company in August 2016, evidently to obtain information on elections-related software and hardware solutions,” the document states. The operation gave the hackers “persistent access” to the targeted computers, allowing them to “survey the victims for items of interest.” But Pamela Smith, president of election integrity watchdog Verified Voting, said the hacking might have kept some Americans from voting. “If someone has access to a state voter database, they can take malicious action by modifying or removing information,” she told The Intercept. “This could affect whether someone has the ability to cast a regular ballot or be required to cast a ‘provisional’ ballot — which ... may mean the voter has to jump through certain hoops such as proving their information to the election official before their eligibility is affirmed.”
Note: Why have those who set up our elections allowed private companies to develop software which can be hacked? For undeniable evidence our voting systems have not been safe for years, read summaries of these major media news articles.
The story of Cambridge Analytica is one of the most profoundly unsettling of our time. SCL/Cambridge Analytica [is] effectively part of the ... defence establishment. This is not just a story about social psychology and data analytics. It has to be understood in terms of a military contractor using military strategies on a civilian population. David Miller, a professor of sociology ... and an authority in psyops and propaganda, says it is “an extraordinary scandal that this should be anywhere near a democracy.” David, [an] ex-Cambridge Analytica employee, [was] working at the firm when it introduced mass data-harvesting to its psychological warfare techniques. “It brought psychology, propaganda and technology together in this powerful new way,” David [said]. Facebook was the source of the psychological insights that enabled Cambridge Analytica to target individuals. The company ... bought consumer datasets – on everything from magazine subscriptions to airline travel – and uniquely it appended these with the psych data to voter files. “The goal is to capture every single aspect of every voter’s information environment,” said David. “And the personality data enabled Cambridge Analytica to craft individual messages.” Cambridge Analytica could target people high in neuroticism, for example, with images of immigrants “swamping” the country. Brexit came down to ... just over 1% of registered voters. It’s not a stretch to believe that ... the global 1% found a way to influence this crucial 1% of British voters.
Note: Another Guardian article recently exposed how billionaire Robert Mercer used new technology to build a corporate empire capable of swinging elections. The above article further details how mass media is being combined with Big Data to produce powerful new forms of mind control.
Carnegie Mellon University researcher Dov Levin [has compiled a] historical database that tracks U.S. involvement in meddling with foreign elections over the years. The U.S. has ... tried to influence the outcome of another country's election ... more than 80 times worldwide between 1946 and 2000. One example of that was our intervention in Serbia, Yugoslavia in the 2000 election there. Slobodan Milosevic was running for re-election, and we didn't want him to stay in power there. So we intervened in various ways for the opposition candidate, Vojislav Kostunica. And we gave funding to the opposition, and we gave them training and campaigning aide. That assistance was crucial in enabling the opposition to win. About one-third of [election interventions] are public, and two-third of them are covert. In other words, they're not known to the voters in the target before the election. Covert coup d'etats like the United States did in Iran in 1953 or in Guatemala in 1954 [were not counted, only times] when the United States [tried] directly to influence an election for one of the sides. The United States is the most common user of this technique. Russia or the Soviet Union since 1945 has used it half as much. My estimate has been 36 cases between 1946 to 2000. We know also that the Chinese have used this technique and the Venezuelans when the late Hugo Chavez was still in power in Venezuela and other countries.
I Googled “mainstream media is…” And there it was. Google’s autocomplete suggestions: “mainstream media is… dead, dying, fake news, fake, finished”. Google’s first suggested link ... leads to a website called CNSnews.com and an article: “The Mainstream media are dead.” How had it, an obscure site I’d never heard of, dominated Google’s search algorithm on the topic? In the “About us” tab, I learn CNSnews is owned by the Media Research Center. It receives a large bulk of its funding – more than $10m in the past decade – from a single source, the hedge fund billionaire Robert Mercer. Robert Mercer is the money behind an awful lot of things. He was Trump’s single biggest donor. Since 2010, Mercer has donated $45m to different political campaigns – all Republican – and another $50m to non-profits – all rightwing, ultra-conservative. This is a billionaire who is ... trying to reshape the world according to his personal beliefs. He is reported to have a $10m stake in the [Cambridge Analytica], which was spun out of a bigger British company called SCL Group. It specialises in “election management strategies” and “messaging and information operations”, refined over 25 years. In military circles this is known as “psyops” – psychological operations. Cambridge Analytica makes the astonishing boast that it has psychological profiles based on 5,000 separate pieces of data on 220 million American voters. With this, a computer ... can predict and potentially control human behaviour. It’s incredibly dangerous.
[Cameron] Harris started by crafting the headline: “BREAKING: ‘Tens of thousands’ of fraudulent Clinton votes found in Ohio warehouse.” In a raucous election year defined by made-up stories, Mr. Harris ... and his ersatz-news website, ChristianTimesNewspaper.com, make for an illuminating tale. Contacted by a reporter who had discovered an electronic clue that revealed his secret authorship of ChristianTimesNewspaper.com, he was wary at first. “This topic is rather sensitive,” Mr. Harris said, noting that he was trying to build a political consulting business. But eventually he agreed to tell the story of his foray into fake news, a very part-time gig that ... paid him about $1,000 an hour in web advertising revenue. He seemed to regard his experience with a combination of guilt about having spread falsehoods and pride at doing it so skillfully. He pushed the button and the story was launched on Sept. 30, blazing across the web like some kind of counterfeit comet. “Even before I posted it, I knew it would take off,” Mr. Harris recalled. He was correct. The ballot box story, promoted by a half-dozen Facebook pages Mr. Harris had created for the purpose, flew around the web, fueled by indignant comments from people who were certain that Mrs. Clinton was going to cheat Mr. Trump of victory and who welcomed the proof. It was eventually shared with six million people. The money, not the politics, was the point, he insisted. Mr. Harris said he would have been willing to promote Mrs. Clinton and smear Mr. Trump had those tactics been lucrative.
Citing increasingly sophisticated cyber bad actors and an election infrastructure that's "vital to our national interests," Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson is designating U.S. election systems critical infrastructure. The determination came after months of review and despite opposition from many states worried that the designation would lead to increased federal regulation or oversight on the many decentralized and locally run voting systems across the country. A 2013 presidential directive identified 16 sectors as critical infrastructures, including energy, financial services, health care, transportation, food and agriculture and communications. Discussions about whether to designate elections systems as critical infrastructure surfaced after hackers targeted the voter registration systems of more than 20 states in the months prior to the November election. While the designation puts responsibilities on the Department of Homeland Security, it does not require entities that are determined "critical infrastructure" to participate. Much of the nation's critical infrastructure is in the private sector. The designation allows for information to be withheld from the public when state, local and private partners meet to discuss election infrastructure security - potentially injecting secrecy into an election process that's traditionally and expressly a transparent process.
Note: It doesn't take much to read between the lines on this one and see this claim that elections are vital to the national interest as the first step in the DHS taking power away from the states and getting directly involved in US elections. Pay close attention to this one. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing elections corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.
The U.S. agency charged with ensuring that voting machines meet security standards was itself penetrated by a hacker after the November elections, according to a security firm working with law enforcement on the matter. The security firm, Recorded Future, was monitoring underground electronic markets where hackers buy and sell wares and discovered someone offering log-on credentials for access to computers at the U.S. Election Assistance Commission. Posing as a potential buyer, the researchers ... discovered that the Russian-speaking hacker had obtained the credentials of more than 100 people at the election commission after exploiting a common database vulnerability. The hacker was trying to sell information about the vulnerability to a Middle Eastern government for several thousand dollars. The election commission certifies voting systems and develops standards for technical guidelines and best practices for election officials across the country. The researchers said the hacker had an unusual business model, scanning for ways to break into all manner of businesses and other entities and then moving rapidly to sell that access. “We don’t think he actually works for any government or is super sophisticated,” Barysevich said. In the case of the election commission, the hacker used methods including an SQL injection, a well known and preventable flaw, obtaining a list of user names and obfuscated passwords, which he was then able to crack.
Note: The security firm Recorded Future was launched by the investment arms of the CIA and Google. 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.
By far the most populous of the three states that strip lifelong voting rights from people with felony convictions, Florida is home to some 1.5 million residents who can never again cast a ballot unless pardoned by the state’s governor. Florida’s legions of disenfranchised voters are disproportionately Democrat-leaning minorities - including nearly a quarter of Florida’s black population - numbers that advocates say amount to a long-standing and often ignored civil rights catastrophe. This ... mass disenfranchisement could have changed the outcome of some particularly important elections. Recently, after the state’s ... governor clamped down on the ability of ex-felons to have their rights restored, Donald Trump won the crucial swing state by a margin less than a tenth the size of the state’s disenfranchised population, leading some to question the effect that felony disenfranchisement may have had on the size of Trump’s Electoral College win. National groups, including the Democratic Party, have shown little interest in placing real resources behind recent efforts to roll back the country’s most impactful voting restriction. Yet in recent weeks, even without any significant organizational backing, a coalition composed largely of disenfranchised Floridians quietly reached a new landmark in a long and laborious fight to overturn the state’s law. On Monday ... Florida’s high court announced it had set a March date to consider the proposal to allow a referendum on the 2018 ballot asking voters to roll back the state’s felony voting restriction.
The CIA has concluded in a secret assessment that Russia intervened in the 2016 election to help Donald Trump win the presidency, rather than just to undermine confidence in the U.S. electoral system, according to officials briefed on the matter. Intelligence agencies have identified individuals with connections to the Russian government who provided WikiLeaks with thousands of hacked emails from the Democratic National Committee and others. “It is the assessment of the intelligence community that Russia’s goal here was to favor one candidate over the other, to help Trump get elected,” said a senior U.S. official. “That’s the consensus view.” The CIA shared its latest assessment with key senators in a closed-door briefing on Capitol Hill last week. The CIA presentation ... fell short of a formal U.S. assessment produced by all 17 intelligence agencies. A senior U.S. official said there were minor disagreements among intelligence officials about the agency’s assessment, in part because some questions remain unanswered. For example, intelligence agencies do not have specific intelligence showing officials in the Kremlin “directing” the identified individuals to pass the Democratic emails to WikiLeaks. Some key ... lawmakers have continued to question the quality of evidence supporting Russian involvement. “I’ll be the first one to come out and point at Russia if there’s clear evidence, but there is no clear evidence - even now,” said [chairman of the House Intelligence Committee] Devin Nunes.
Note: The above article comes on the heels of the Washington Post's promotion of an anti-Russian "McCarthyite blacklist" which smeared dozens of U.S. news sites as “routine peddlers of Russian propaganda.” For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on elections corruption and the manipulation of public perception.
US intelligence agencies have concluded that Russia interfered in last month’s presidential election. Officials ... were told that intelligence agencies had found that individuals linked to the Russian government had provided WikiLeaks with thousands of confidential emails stolen from the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and others. The emails were steadily leaked via WikiLeaks ... revealing that DNC figures had colluded to harm the chances of [Clinton’s] nomination rival Bernie Sanders, and later giving examples of collusion between her campaign and figures in the media to blindside Trump in debates. The Kremlin has rejected the hacking accusations. WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has previously said the DNC leaks were not linked to Russia. A ... senior official cited by the Washington Post conceded that intelligence agencies did not have specific proof that the Kremlin was “directing” the hackers. Craig Murray, the former UK ambassador to Uzbekistan, who is a close associate of Assange, [said of] the CIA claims: “They are absolutely making it up ... I know who leaked them. “They are certainly not Russian and it’s an insider. It’s a leak, not a hack; the two are different things. “If ... the CIA’s statement refers to people who are known to be linked to the Russian state, they would have arrested someone. America has not been shy about arresting whistleblowers and it’s not been shy about extraditing hackers. They plainly have no knowledge whatsoever.”
Note: The Guardian newspaper's website removed all front page links to the above article just three hours after it was published. In its place, the Guardian ran a new article that was entirely supportive of what Wikileaks affiliate Craig Murray calls "the CIA’s blatant lie" about the leaked DNC emails. A short essay by WantToKnow.info team member Mark Bailey explores this apparent media manipulation.
The final result of the US presidential election is still unclear almost a month after polling day – and the recount in Michigan has now been thrown into chaos because of broken voting machines. As officials began a full recount in the swing state, it emerged that faulty machines mean half of all votes cast in the city of Detroit may be ineligible for recount. A third of voting precincts in Wayne County, that largest of Michigan's counties, could also be disqualified. The problems were discovered after voting clerks were unable to match the number of votes cast on the machines with the number of people who had been registered at polling stations. Officials said at least 87 of Detroit’s decade-old voting machines had failed on Election Day, with many jamming when ballot papers were fed in. In 392 of the city’s 662 voting precincts, the number of votes recorded on machines was not the same as the number of voters registered by polling station staff. According to Michigan state law, voting precincts where polling registers do not match with voting machines cannot be included in a recount. In that situation, the original election result will stand. The potential recount ineligibility of so many areas could hinder Hillary Clinton, who significantly outperformed Mr Trump in both Detroit and Wayne County and whose hopes of winning Michigan rest largely on uncounted ballots being found in Wayne County.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing elections news articles from reliable major media sources. Then explore the excellent, reliable resources provided in our Elections Information Center.
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.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing elections news articles from reliable major media sources. Then explore the excellent, reliable resources provided in our Elections Information Center.
In your Monday editorial, “Russia’s roulette,” you mentioned the “alarming evidence” of my government’s alleged involvement in the U.S. presidential elections. I do believe that it’s just nonsense, but if you insist that it’s true, then it would be interesting and necessary to see the evidence. I am sure that your respected newspaper meticulously worked through all the proofs before publishing the above-mentioned editorial. Unfortunately, nobody, including my government, despite numerous official requests, has never been presented with the onus probandi. The latter will not come from just repeating the unsubstantiated accusations over and over again or referring to unknown “independent researchers.” As far as I know, (National Security Agency Director) Adm. Michael Rogers in his recent interview with Wall Street Journal has never mentioned RUSSIA, while the official statement of Oct. 7 that has been repeatedly referred to, has never INDICTED Russia (“believing” and even being “confident” is something very different). Without evidence, in every state of law, with the United States being one of them, the principle of the presumption of innocence prevails. And accusations remain pure speculation. In this case, ill-intentioned.
Note: The above was written by Maxim Goncharov, a press attaché with the Russian Consulate in San Francisco. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing elections news articles from reliable major media sources. Then explore the excellent, reliable resources provided in our Elections Information Center.
Hackers set the tone for the final 100 days of the election, starting with the pilfered emails of the Democratic National Committee that were released by Wikileaks in late July. The leak established a precedent for reporting on stolen digital information in the election. U.S. officials fingered Russia as the likely backer behind the hacks. Up to 20 percent of Americans ... cast votes on digital systems without a paper trail during this election. There are enough weak spots peppered around the country to distill doubt if multiple incidents occur, said James Scott, senior fellow at the Institute for Critical Infrastructure Technology. “With the kind of stealth and sophistication that’s already out there, why wouldn’t a nation-state, cyber-criminal gang or activist group go into election systems that are completely vulnerable?” Scott said. The biggest cyber breaches to influence Tuesday’s events may have occurred months ago and involved voter registration data. While identity theft is a concern ... the primary way hackers might exploit these stolen records is via a misinformation campaign ... Scott said, citing a Colombian hacker who used such tactics to manipulate elections in nine countries across Latin America. An unnamed Department of Homeland Security official told Politico in late September that at least 20 state elections systems had been probed by hackers. If a fraction of the electronic votes filed at Tuesday’s polls or during early voting come into question, then it opens the door for challenges by political candidates.
Note: Read this article for more serious evidence the US elections results were manipulated. Explore also an excellent essay by two of the best elections researchers showing how gross manipulations of the recent US election may have had a major impact on the results. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing elections news articles from reliable major media sources. Then explore the excellent, reliable resources provided in our Elections Information Center.
There is one story this week that deserves top priority: Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. On Tuesday, the director of the National Security Agency, Admiral Michael Rogers, was asked about the WikiLeaks release of hacked information during the campaign, and he said, "This was a conscious effort by a nation-state to attempt to achieve a specific effect." This was a stunning statement that has echoed other remarks from senior US officials. He was saying that Russia directly intervened in the US election to obtain a desired end: presumably to undermine confidence in US elections or to elect Donald Trump - or both. If the FBI, CIA, and other intelligence agencies are digging into the Russian effort to affect US politics, there is no guarantee that what they uncover will be shared with the public. The investigative activities of these agencies are not designed for public enlightenment or assurance. That's the job of Congress. When traumatic events and scandals that threaten the nation or its government have occurred ... Congress has conducted investigations and held hearings. The goal has been to unearth what went wrong and to allow the government and the public to evaluate their leaders and consider safeguards to prevent future calamities and misconduct. That is what is required now. So far, the only Capitol Hill legislator who has publicly called for [a congressional inquiry that includes open hearings and ends with a public report] is Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.).
Note: Read this article for more serious evidence the US elections results were manipulated. Explore also an excellent essay by two of the best elections researchers showing how gross manipulations of the recent US election may have had a major impact on the results. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing elections news articles from reliable major media sources. Then explore the excellent, reliable resources provided in our Elections Information Center.
Hillary Clinton's campaign intends to back the statewide election recount effort in the battleground state of Wisconsin spearheaded by third-party candidate Jill Stein. The Clinton team had been quiet about Stein's crusade, but campaign lawyer Marc Elias said that because a recount was set into motion Friday — and could begin as soon as next week — they want to see a "fair" process for all involved. President-elect Donald Trump slammed the effort as a "scam by the Green Party for an election that has already been conceded." The Wisconsin Election Commission staff announced Saturday that it has already pulled together a timeline it expects the commission to approve. Stein's campaign is trying to raise as much as $7 million for the effort online — and it had garnered more than $5.9 million as of Saturday evening. Stein, the Green Party's presidential nominee, also has plans to file recount efforts in Michigan, where NBC News has yet to officially call a winner, and Pennsylvania. Trump still holds narrow leads in all three states, and his victories in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin provided him with the Electoral College advantage he needed to win the presidency. Over the last few weeks, lawyers and data scientists have urged the campaign to consider a recount, according to Elias' post. He also said a deciding factor was Russia's reported interference in the U.S. election process.
Note: Read a much more detailed account in this essay as to why they are calling for a recount. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing elections news articles from reliable major media sources. Then explore the excellent, reliable resources provided in our Elections Information Center.
Federal investigators believe Russian hackers were behind cyberattacks on a contractor for Florida's election system that may have exposed the personal data of Florida voters. The [cyberattack] comes on the heels of hacks in Illinois, in which personal data of tens of thousands of voters may have been stolen, and one in Arizona, in which investigators now believe the data of voters was likely exposed. Several states have reported attempted scans of their computer systems, which often is a precursor to a breach. The vendor hack in Florida prompted the FBI last week to coordinate an emergency call with county election supervisors who operate the election system in the perennial battleground state. FBI investigators believe the the hacks and attempted intrusions of state election sites were carried out by hackers working for Russian intelligence. The cyberattacks on election registration sites are focused on parts of the US election system that wouldn't affect the votes cast or the vote counts, according to US officials. Instead, the intruders are targeting registration systems. In a statement last Friday, the Director of National Intelligence and the Homeland Security Department formally [blamed] Russia for hacking political organizations, including the Democratic National Committee, and orchestrating the release of private emails in an attempt to meddle in the US elections.
Note: Common sense alone would tell us that there are hackers capable of manipulating elections results, especially since many of the voting machines are privately owned. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing elections news articles from reliable major media sources. Then explore the excellent, reliable resources provided in our Elections Information Center.
Here is what we need to understand: a hell of a lot of people are in pain. Under neoliberal policies of deregulation, privatisation, austerity and corporate trade, their living standards have declined precipitously. They have lost jobs. They have lost pensions. They have lost much of the safety net that used to make these losses less frightening. They see a future for their kids even worse than their precarious present. At the same time, they have witnessed the rise of the Davos class, a hyper-connected network of banking and tech billionaires, elected leaders who are awfully cosy with those interests, and Hollywood celebrities who make the whole thing seem unbearably glamorous. They know in their hearts that this rising wealth and power is somehow directly connected to their growing debts and powerlessness. For the people who saw security and status as their birthright ... these losses are unbearable. Donald Trump speaks directly to that pain. The Brexit campaign spoke to that pain. So do all of the rising far-right parties in Europe. They answer it with nostalgic nationalism and anger at remote economic bureaucracies. And of course, they answer it by bashing immigrants and people of colour, vilifying Muslims, and degrading women. Elite neoliberalism has nothing to offer that pain, because neoliberalism unleashed the Davos class.
Note: Learn more about the highly secretive Davos class in these summaries of major media articles on secret societies. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on government corruption and income inequality.
Election judges in Clinton Township, Butler County confirmed there were issues with two of their eight automated voting machines. Most of the issues came when people tried to vote straight party ticket. However, others said they specifically wanted to vote for Republican Donald Trump only to see their vote switched before their eyes to Democrat Hillary Clinton. “I went back, pressed Trump again. Three times I did this, so then I called one of the women that were working the polls over. And she said you must be doing it wrong. She did it three times and it defaulted to Hillary every time,” Bobbie Lee Hawranko said. Pennsylvania State Rep. Daryl Metcalfe went to Clinton Township to check on the reports for himself. In Allegheny County, officials said they heard reports about machines not recording vote choices, so they sent experts to examine those machines: “In each of those cases, there has been no evidence that the machines are working incorrectly. In every election there are machines that need to be re-calibrated following transport. So far today, we have reset three machines. This is in line with what we see in each election.” Pennsylvania Secretary of State Pedro Cortes says the GOP reported problems with about 25 out of nearly 24,000 machines statewide.
Note: How is it possible for this to happen? And how many other machines are malfunctioning? For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing elections news articles from reliable major media sources. Then explore the excellent, reliable resources provided in our Elections Information Center.
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.
Note: Why is the major media not reporting this important and inspiring news? Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
California voters faced a tough time at the polls [on June 7th], with many voters saying they have encountered broken machines, polling sites that opened late and incomplete voter rolls, particularly in Los Angeles County. Many California voters were handed the dreaded pink provisional ballot - which takes longer to fill out, longer for election officials to verify and which tends to leave voters wondering whether their votes will be counted. It’s difficult to get a sense for how widespread the problems are. Tuesday’s voting problems seems to be a confluence of factors - old voting machines, a competitive election that has drawn new voters, plus complex state voting laws that can be hard for poll volunteers and voters to follow. Albert Grey showed up at his polling site Tuesday morning to find that the vote-counting machine seemed to be jammed, and there didn’t seem to be a supervisor on site. So he left without voting. Many California voters reported showing up to their polling sites only to find that their names were not listed on the voting rolls, leaving them to cast a provisional ballot. Sanders supporter Jonathan Daniel Brown accused Democrats of “purging votes” when he discovered he was not on the voting rolls at his polling station despite being registered. Brown ... refused to take a provisional ballot, and his complaints drew the attention of Los Angeles County Registrar-County Clerk Dean Logan, who intervened. Eventually, Brown said he was allowed to cast a regular ballot - though not before Brown said a poll worker called the police on him.
Hillary Clinton took nearly every precaution to ensure voters would never know what she told investment bankers, lobbyists and corporate executives in dozens of closed-door paid speeches before running for president. Turns out, the Democratic presidential nominee had good reason to do so. She is ... happy to cut backroom deals with corporate interests and curry favor with Wall Street for campaign dollars. The WikiLeaks organization on Friday posted ... emails obtained in a hack of the Clinton campaign chairman’s personal email account. Among the documents posted online was an internal review of the speeches conducted by campaign aides to survey the political damage her remarks could cause if they ever became public. In what aides calculated were the most damaging passages, she reflects on the necessity of “unsavory” political dealing. To investment bankers from Goldman Sachs and BlackRock, Clinton admits that she’s “kind of far removed” from the middle-class upbringing that she frequently touts on the campaign trail. And in speeches to some of the country’s biggest banks, she highlighted her long ties to Wall Street ... saying that she views the financial industry as a partner in government regulation. In an effort to keep those speeches private, strongly worded contracts prohibited unauthorized recordings, reporters were banned and, in some cases, blog posts about her remarks pulled off websites.
Note: BBC has an article listing 11 intriguing revelations from the recent Wikileaks release. The emails also showed discussion of the Clinton campaign's interest in "elevating" Trump and other 'extreme' Republican candidates to make the party's eventual nominee 'unpalatable'. In 2013 alone, Clinton received $2.3 million for delivering these speeches. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on corruption in government and in the financial industry.
As the 1973 Yom Kippur war between Israel and neighboring Arab states intensified, I was in an underground missile launch center in Montana with a crewmate when we received an emergency message to prepare for nuclear war with the Soviet Union. We trusted the president to defuse the crisis and avert a nuclear war. Dwight D. Eisenhower recoiled at the concept of nuclear overkill, where far more people are killed than necessary to defeat an enemy. Richard M. Nixon (president during the 1973 Arab-Israeli war) ... worried about the way war plans “lightly tossed about millions of deaths.” Ronald Reagan, for all his thunder about the Soviet Union being “an evil empire” and joking that “we begin bombing in five minutes,” was privately averse to nuclear weapons. Donald J. Trump is of a radically different ilk and temperament from past presidents. In 1973, as it turned out, President Nixon was not in charge when the order came down to prepare for nuclear conflict. Under stress from the Watergate scandal, he had retired for the evening, drunk. His unelected advisers, led by the national security adviser, Henry A. Kissinger, and Defense Secretary James R. Schlesinger, ran the show that night. Our trust in the president was misplaced. He was not even awake when my crewmate and I saddled up for nuclear war. The president had lost personal control of the situation. But upon reflection, it would have been far scarier if a cocksure Mr. Trump, consulting no one but himself, had been there calling the shots.
Super PACs seeking to influence the 2016 elections have collected more than $1 billion, a record haul driven by jumbo-sized contributions from rich donors on both sides of the aisle. Just 10 mega-donor individuals and couples contributed nearly 20 percent of the $1.1 billion raised by super PACs by the end of August. The total exceeds the $853 million that super PACs collected in the entire 2012 cycle. The top givers were split roughly equally along party lines, with five Republicans, four Democrats and one independent. Together, super PACs seeking to sway the White House and congressional races have pumped more than $674 million into TV ads and other outreach through September, filings show. By the end of the 2012 elections, such groups had spent $608 million. The figures illustrate how American campaigns have been reordered by the ability to give unlimited sums to political committees. In the six years since the Supreme Court’s Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission decision created new paths for massive contributions to flow into elections, a tiny sliver of donors with immense financial capacity have rushed to participate. Along with the $1.1 billion raised by super PACs, hundreds of millions more has been directed into politically active nonprofits on both sides of the aisle that can keep the names of their contributors secret. The huge sums washing through campaigns are contributing to a growing estrangement between voters and the political system.
Note: Read more about how ghost corporations are funding the 2016 elections. 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.
In January, Oregon became the first state in the country to begin automatically registering eligible citizens to vote when they obtain or renew their driver’s licenses or state IDs, completely shifting the burden of voter registration from the individual to the government. Four other states have passed similar laws and more than half have considered doing so this year - more than two decades after the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 directed states to make it easier for citizens to register to vote at offices that provide public assistance, including motor vehicle agencies. In Oregon, DMV customers ... who show up in the department’s computer system as eligible but unregistered, are added by default to voter rolls without party affiliation; they later select a political party or opt out using a form sent to them in the mail. That subtle difference - requiring people to take an extra step to opt out if they don’t want to be registered - is producing results. “So far, it’s working,” said Jonathan Brater, of the Brennan Center of Justice at the New York University School of Law, an advocate for the modernization of voter registration. Just two years ago, barely a handful of states were considering this form of voter registration. But technology has made it easier to seamlessly transfer data between agencies, and states increasingly are taking advantage of it. Legislatures in three other states have passed automatic voter registration laws: West Virginia, Vermont, and California.
Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
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.
Could an American election’s outcome be altered by a malicious actor on a computer keyboard? I have had three jobs that, together, taught me at least one thing: If it’s a computer, it can be hacked. I served as the White House senior cybersecurity policy adviser. I served on [President Obama's] five-person post–Edward Snowden investigative group on the National Security Agency, intelligence and technology. And for over a decade I have advised American corporations on cybersecurity. Those experiences confirm my belief that if sophisticated hackers want to get into any computer or electronic device, even one that is not connected to the internet, they can do so. Now consider that a majority of states use some kind of combination of electronic voting and a type of paper trail, but there is no standard nationwide. In most states the data that are used to determine who won an election are processed by networked, computerized devices. There are almost no locations that exclusively use paper ballots. Some states ... employ electronic voting machines that produce no paper trail, therefore there is nothing to count or recount and no way to ensure that what a voter intended is what was recorded and transmitted. If someone makes the charge after this election that the results were altered by hackers, our country has almost no way of credibly refuting that claim. Thus American voters will have no way to know if they can trust the results of the election.
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.
With the 2016 presidential race already well underway, it's time for us to take cyber threats to our electoral process much more seriously. Hackers could [target] a voting machine [by] attacking the network the machines are being run on at a voting precinct, physically tampering with the device or the network hardware to install malware, attacking the voting machine company's network or employees to get malware into the devices or steal passwords before they are released to a government and target the back-end government network used to manage them. Imagine a hacker deleting voter registration forms ... or switching a person's party affiliation to block him/her from voting in the proper primary. Or deleting a politician's filed paperwork, putting his/her candidacy in jeopardy. There are also a lot of ways hackers could derail campaign fundraising. Since campaign contributions are public records, it would be easy for hackers to ... steal the credit card numbers of donors in order to harass them ... as well as engage in identity theft and financial fraud. But hackers wouldn't even have to go this far. Simply announcing publicly that they planned to hack supporters might be enough to dissuade potential donors.
Note: Since this article was published, voter registration rolls in Illinois and possibly Arizona have already been targeted by hackers. And Wikileaks recently published thousands of documents, reportedly obtained by an email hack, which exposed significant elections corruption in the US.
Russia was behind the hacks into the Democratic National Committee’s computer network that led to the release of thousands of internal emails just before the party’s convention began, U.S. intelligence agencies have reportedly concluded. The FBI is investigating. WikiLeaks promises there is more data to come. The political nature of this cyberattack means that Democrats and Republicans are trying to spin this as much as possible. Even so, we have to accept that someone is attacking our nation’s computer systems in an apparent attempt to influence a presidential election. This kind of cyberattack targets the very core of our democratic process. And it points to the possibility of an even worse problem in November. Over the years, more and more states have moved to electronic voting machines and have flirted with Internet voting. These systems are insecure and vulnerable to attack. But while computer security experts ... have sounded the alarm for many years, states have largely ignored the threat, and the machine manufacturers have thrown up enough obfuscating babble that election officials are largely mollified. Government interference with foreign elections isn’t new, and in fact, that’s something the United States itself has repeatedly done in recent history. But what is new is a foreign government interfering with a U.S. national election on a large scale. Our democracy cannot tolerate it, and we as citizens cannot accept it.
Princeton professor Andrew Appel decided to hack into a voting machine. He bought one online. Appel parted with $82 and became the owner of ...the Sequoia AVC Advantage, one of the oldest and vulnerable, electronic voting machines in the United States. He summoned a graduate student named Alex Halderman, who could pick the machine’s lock in seven seconds. Clutching a screwdriver, [Appel then] deftly wedged out the four ROM chips - they weren’t soldered into the circuit board, as sense might dictate - making it simple to replace them with one of his own: A version of modified firmware that could throw off the machine’s results, subtly altering the tally of votes, never to betray a hint to the voter. The attack was concluded in minutes. Elections could be vulnerable at myriad strike points, among them the software that aggregates the precinct vote totals, and the voter registration rolls that are increasingly digitized. But the threat, the cyber experts say, starts with the machines that tally the votes and crucially keep a record of them - or, in some cases, don't. It’s not just the voting machines themselves - it’s the desktop and laptop computers that election officials use. And the computers that aggregate the results together from all of the optical scans. If any of those get hacked, it could could significantly disrupt the election. Hackers this year have [already] targeted voter registration rolls in Illinois and possibly Arizona, another attack highlighted by the Princeton alums.
Note: For the text of the video at the above link and more, see this webpage. 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.
Before the 2010 Supreme Court decision known as Citizens United, all money spent in federal elections urging the election or defeat of a candidate had to originate from identifiable human beings. Corporations and unions were forbidden from involvement beyond organizing individuals’ contributions. Then Citizens United struck down the prohibition ... so corporations had the right to spend unlimited money espousing their political views. This was the birth of Super PACs. Citizens United [also] opened ... paths for foreign money to flow into the U.S. political process. The 2016 election has seen a surge of contributions to Super PACs by so-called ghost corporations, which appear to exist solely to make those donations and whose ownership is unknown. Almost all large publicly traded U.S. companies have some degree of foreign ownership. Any donations by such corporations are technically partially of foreign origin. Nonprofit corporations ... have always been able to accept unlimited donations from individuals or corporations, but before Citizens United, could engage in little federal political activity. Now, thanks to the combination of Citizens United and a 2007 Supreme Court decision, “social welfare” organizations ... and trade associations [can] make independent political expenditures just like Super PACs. Unlike Super PACs, they are not required to publicly disclose their donors. This is why contributions to politically active nonprofits are often referred to as “dark money.”
Note: Read more about how ghost corporations are funding the 2016 elections. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about elections corruption and the manipulation of public perception. Then explore the excellent, reliable resources provided in our Elections Information Center.
The chief executive of the Democratic National Committee and two other top officials have resigned in the wake of an email hack that embarrassed the party on the eve of its presidential nominating convention. CEO Amy Dacey, Chief Finance Officer Brad Marshall and Communications Director Luis Miranda left their jobs on Tuesday, the party said in a statement. The resignations are the latest fallout from the hacked emails, which exposed an apparent lack of neutrality in the primary race between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, with some party officials disparaging Sanders. Marshall wrote the most explosive email, questioning Sanders' Jewish faith and suggesting he could be portrayed as an atheist. He has apologized for the missive. Earlier, party chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz resigned her position and, after being booed at a pre-convention appearance last week in Philadelphia, chose not to speak from the convention stage. The cache of more than 19,000 messages was made public by the group WikiLeaks just before the convention. Democratic Party officials learned in late April that their systems had been attacked after they discovered malicious software on their computers.
WikiLeaks published the DNC’s hacked emails. There has been a flurry of accusations – including from the Hillary Clinton campaign – that Russian president Vladimir Putin orchestrated both the hack and the leak, in an attempt to help Donald Trump win the presidency. It’s amazing how quickly the media are willing to forgo any skepticism and jump to conspiracy-tinged conclusions where Putin is involved. There is some circumstantial evidence that the hack may have originated in Russia, but there are also many questions that haven’t been resolved. As Adam Johnson detailed, when you look closely, the evidence is shoddy and often contradictory. The bulk of the “evidence” has come from the statements of cybersecurity firms FireEye and Crowdstrike, both of which have lucrative contracts with the US government. As FireEye’s CEO once made clear, his company has a financial stake in nation-state hacking tensions. As Edward Snowden pointed out ... with an accompanying NSA document, “Our government specifically authorized the hacking of political parties.” The US has also considered hacking and then releasing sensitive and embarrassing information in China in retaliation for cybersecurity attacks, as the New York Times reported last year. If the US wants to place blame at the feet of the Russians, they should do so transparently and in public, without leaving it to anonymous officials and cybersecurity firms to make claims without providing hard evidence.
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.
Federal election observers can only be sent to five states in this year’s U.S. presidential election, among the smallest deployments since the Voting Rights Act was passed in 1965 to end racial discrimination at the ballot box. The plan ... reflects changes brought about by the Supreme Court’s 2013 decision to strike down parts of the Act, a signature legislative achievement of the 1960s civil rights movement. Voting rights advocates told Reuters they were concerned that the scaling-back of observers would make it harder to detect and counter efforts to intimidate or hinder voters, especially in southern states with a history of racial discrimination at the ballot box. The Supreme Court ruling undercut ... the Justice Department’s ability to select voting areas it deemed at risk of racial discrimination and deploy observers there. Eleven mostly Southern states had been certified as needing federal observers by the department. Federal observers can still be sent to monitor elections but only when authorized by federal court rulings. Currently, courts have done so in five states: Alabama, Alaska, California, Louisiana, and New York, according to the Justice Department. In recent presidential elections, the Justice Department has sent more than 780 people to watch elections around the country. Attorney General Loretta Lynch said on Friday the Justice Department's ability to deploy election observers had been "severely curtailed" by the Supreme Court’s decision.
The push and pull over what is on the record is one of journalism’s perennial battles. But those negotiations typically took place case by case, free from the red pens of press minders. Now, with a millisecond Twitter news cycle and an unforgiving, gaffe-obsessed media culture, politicians and their advisers are routinely demanding that reporters allow them final editing power over any published quotations. Quote approval is standard practice for the Obama campaign, used by many top strategists and almost all mid-level aides ... at the White House - almost anyone other than spokesmen who are paid to be quoted. (And sometimes it applies even to them.) It is also commonplace throughout Washington and on the campaign trail. From Capitol Hill to the Treasury Department, interviews granted only with quote approval have become the default position. Those officials who dare to speak out of school, but fearful of making the slightest off-message remark, shroud even the most innocuous and anodyne quotations in anonymity by insisting they be referred to as a “top Democrat” or a “Republican strategist.” It is a double-edged sword for journalists, who are getting the on-the-record quotes they have long asked for, but losing much of the spontaneity and authenticity in their interviews. Many journalists spoke about the editing only if granted anonymity, an irony that did not escape them. Those who did speak on the record said the restrictions seem only to be growing.
The Associated Press - on a day when nobody voted - surprised everyone by abruptly declaring the Democratic Party primary over and Hillary Clinton the victor. The decree, issued the night before the California primary in which polls show Clinton and Bernie Sanders in a very close race, was based on the media organization’s survey of “superdelegates”: the Democratic Party’s 720 insiders, corporate donors, and officials whose votes for the presidential nominee count the same as the actually elected delegates. AP claims that superdelegates who had not previously announced their intentions privately told AP reporters that they intend to vote for Clinton, bringing her over the threshold. AP is concealing the identity of the decisive superdelegates who said this. Although the Sanders campaign rejected the validity of AP’s declaration - on the ground that the superdelegates do not vote until the convention and he intends to try to persuade them to vote for him - most major media outlets ... declared Clinton the winner. This is the perfect symbolic ending to the Democratic Party primary: The nomination is consecrated by a media organization, on a day when nobody voted, based on secret discussions with anonymous establishment insiders and donors whose identities the media organization - incredibly - conceals. For a party run by insiders and funded by corporate interests, it’s only fitting that its nomination process ends with such an ignominious, awkward, and undemocratic sputter.
Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton is ramping up her fundraising schedule, attending a number of fundraisers this week that cost donors six-figures to attend. The former secretary of state attended a pair of small, intimate gatherings in New York City on Thursday evening that cost donors a minimum of $100,000 to attend. On Wednesday, she attended two $100,000-a-head events in Englewood, N.J., and New York City. [The] Thursday event was at the home of Lynn Forester de Rothschild, a prominent New York businesswoman and supporter of Mrs. Clinton and Democratic candidates. Six-figure fundraisers are a new frontier in presidential politics, made possible by a 2014 Supreme Court case that tossed a key contribution limit governing how much donors could give across the board in a single election cycle. As a result, campaigns and parties can now fundraise in tandem with each other. Mrs. Clinton’s events on Thursday [were] not the campaign’s first foray into high-dollar fundraising. In April, the campaign held an event at the home of actor George Clooney. The event cost $33,400 to attend, though donors who contributed $353,400 could sit at the head table.
Note: Read about Hillary's direct connections with the Rothschild family, as revealed through Wikileaks data. Read also a recent Washington Post article stating that control over US politics by the financial elites has ushered the country into a "new Gilded Age". For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing elections corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.
Voting machines around the United States are coming to the end of their useful lives. That could be a serious problem for next year's presidential elections. According to a new report by the Brennan Center for Justice ... 43 states will use some voting equipment next year that's at least 10 years old. "We're not saying that all the systems are going to fail on Election Day. But the closer you get to this end of projected lifespan, the more likely you're going to see problems," said Larry Norden, one of the report's authors. Problems such as vote flipping - that's when a voter presses one candidate's name only to have the opponent's name light up. It happens when the glue on touch-screen machines gets old and erodes. Norden said everything's coming to a head at once because almost every state bought new computerized voting equipment right after the disputed 2000 election, using $2 billion in federal aid. But he says now there's neither the money nor the same sense of urgency. "More than one official has said to me [that] legislators [and] county funders are waiting for a disaster, which I think is crazy," he said. Disaster does seem increasingly possible. Earlier this year, the state of Virginia realized that machines used in 20 percent of the state were vulnerable to hackers and immediately ordered them replaced. The Brennan Center found a similar pattern in other states. Wealthier counties are getting new equipment, while poorer ones are not.
Note: Read more on the major problems with electronic voting machines in the US. 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.
Computer security experts have warned for years that some voting machines are vulnerable to attack. And this week, in Virginia, the state Board of Elections decided to impose an immediate ban on touchscreen voting machines used in 20 percent of the state's precincts, because of newly discovered security concerns. The problems emerged on Election Day last November. "One machine would go and crash. They'd bring it back up. Another one would crash," said Edgardo Cortes, the state's elections commissioner. State auditors investigated. While using their smartphones, they were able to connect to the voting machines' wireless network, which is used to tally votes. Investigators easily guessed the system's passwords - in one case, it was "abcde" - and were then able to change the vote counts remotely without detection. Jeremy Epstein is co-founder of Virginia Verified Voting and one of many computer experts who had warned about the security flaws. He's not at all surprised by the state's findings. Epstein said the vulnerabilities could be used to create a lot of mischief, "to change the list of races, change the list of candidates, change the votes that have been recorded, change the totals recorded, things like that."
Note: Read more on the major problems with electronic voting machines in the US. 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.
A small core of super-rich individuals is responsible for the record sums cascading into the coffers of super PACs for the 2016 elections, a dynamic that harks back to the financing of presidential campaigns in the Gilded Age. Close to half the money - 41 percent - raised by the groups by the end of February came from just 50 mega-donors and their relatives, according to a Washington Post analysis. Donors this cycle have given more than $607 million to 2,300 super PACs, which can accept unlimited contributions from individuals and corporations. That means super PAC money is on track to surpass the $828 million that the Center for Responsive Politics found was raised by such groups for the 2012 elections. The top 50 contributors together donated $248 million personally and through their privately held companies, or more than $4 out of every $10 raised by all super PACs. The last time political wealth was so concentrated was in 1896, when corporations and banking moguls helped McKinley, the Republican candidate, outspend Democratic rival William Jennings Bryan. Populist anger over how presidential races were financed led to a 1907 ban on corporations donating to federal campaigns. Forty years later, Congress prohibited unions and corporations from making independent expenditures in federal races. The picture dramatically changed in 2010, when the Supreme Court said in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission that corporations and unions could spend unlimited sums on politics.
Note: The "Koch Empire" alone plans to spend $889 million on US elections in 2016. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about elections corruption and the manipulation of public perception. Then explore the excellent, reliable resources provided in our Elections Information Center.
A protest movement calling on Congress to “end the corruption of big money in our politics” and “ensure free and fair elections,” converged on Capitol Hill on Monday, staging a nonviolent sit-in that resulted in over 400 arrests. While the action, dubbed #DemocracySpring, garnered wide coverage on social media and over 136,000 tweets, cable news programs found little time to cover the political protests. During daytime and afternoon news segments, CNN did not devote any coverage to the actions. MSNBC mentioned the protests for approximately 12 seconds, while Fox News mentioned the arrests and discussed the protests for about 17 seconds. Hosts on both networks misrepresented the protests. The focus on systemic political corruption ... during the rally yesterday was ignored. The protests were widely covered by CSPAN, Al Jazeera, and NPR, among other outlets. But cable news programs, which specialize in American political news, were another story. The parent companies of cable news networks are closely tied to the Washington establishment being challenged by protesters. Comcast, parent company of MSNBC, is among the biggest spenders on political lobbying. Broadcasting companies have lobbied in recent years against reforms that would diminish the role of big money in election campaigns largely because the bulk of campaign funds are spent on television advertisements. [An] estimated ... $4.4 billion [will] be spent on television ads during the election cycle this year.
Mercenary hackers helped Enrique Peńa Nieto win Mexico’s 2012 presidential election, according to an imprisoned Colombian hacker who says he was involved. Andrés Sepúlveda ... claimed he had also helped to manipulate elections in nine countries across Latin America by stealing data, installing malware and creating fake waves of enthusiasm and derision on social media. In an interview with Bloomberg Businessweek, the Colombian – who is currently serving a 10-year prison sentence - boasted of his ability to hack into campaign networks and manipulate opinion. “My job was to do actions of dirty war and psychological operations, black propaganda, rumours – the whole dark side of politics that nobody knows exists but everyone can see,” the 31-year-old told Bloomberg. Although he was well paid for his work, Sepúlveda said his primary motive was political. He supported right and centre-right candidates against what he called “dictatorships and socialists governments”. In Mexico ... he reportedly had a $600,000 budget, [and] used a “virtual army” of fake Twitter accounts to direct public debate. “When I realized that people believe what the internet says more than reality, I discovered that I had the power to make people believe almost anything,” he told Bloomberg. To varying degrees, he said he applied similar tactics in other elections over an eight-year period in in Venezuela, Nicaragua, Panama, Honduras, El Salvador, Colombia, Costa Rica and Guatemala. Sepúlveda is now in jail for hacking crimes related to Colombia’s 2014 presidential election.
Note: Read an excellent article on how electronic voting machines are likely being manipulated in the 2016 US elections. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about elections corruption and the manipulation of public opinion.
A trust called DE First Holdings was quietly formed in Delaware. A day later, the entity dropped $1 million into a super PAC. The trust, whose owner remains unknown, is part of a growing cadre of mystery outfits financing big-money super PACs. Many were formed just days or weeks before making six- or seven-figure contributions - an arrangement that ... violates a long-standing federal ban on straw donors. But the individuals behind the “ghost corporations” appear to face little risk of reprisal from [the] Federal Election Commission. The 2016 campaign has already seen the highest rate of corporate donations since the Supreme Court unleashed such spending with its 2010 Citizens United v. FEC decision. One out of every eight dollars collected by super PACs this election cycle have come from corporate coffers, including millions flowing from opaque and hard-to-trace entities. Such groups, which can accept unlimited donations ... are on track to far exceed the $86 million they gave to super PACs in the entire 2012 presidential cycle. A significant share of the money is coming from newly formed LLCs. Several campaign finance watchdog groups have filed complaints with the FEC against the recent pop-up LLCs, but the chances of the agency’s looking into the cases appear slim. Last month, the agency closed a nearly five-year-old complaint about a limited liability company allegedly used to mask a donor’s identity — unable to even agree whether it merited investigation.
Note: The "Koch Empire" alone plans to spend $889 million on US elections in 2016. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about elections corruption and the manipulation of public perception. Then explore the excellent, reliable resources provided in our Elections Information Center.
Cynthia Perez, a lawyer, stopped by a polling site on her way to work. She found a line so long she could not see the end of it. Days later, angry and baffled [Arizona] voters are still trying to make sense of how democracy is working in Maricopa County, the state’s most populous, where officials cut the number of polling places by 70 percent to save money - to 60 from 200 in the last presidential election. That translated to a single polling place for every 108,000 residents in Phoenix, a majority-minority city that had exceptional turnout in Tuesday’s Democratic and Republican primaries. Many observers saw Arizona as ... pointing toward potential problems nationally. The presidential election will be the first since the Supreme Court dismantled a crucial section of the Voting Rights Act in 2013, freeing nine states, including Arizona and parts of seven others, to change their election laws without advance federal approval. Arizona has a long history of discrimination against minorities, preventing American Indians from voting for much of its history because they were considered “wards of the nation,” imposing English literacy tests on prospective voters and printing English-only election materials even as the state’s Spanish-speaking population grew. On Tuesday, calls poured into the office of Arizona’s attorney general ... well into the night, as people heard poll workers tell them to go home, “the election has already been decided,” said a spokesman.
It’s still up for debate whether or not the media “created” Donald Trump - or, at least, the GOP presidential frontrunner version of him - but there is no doubt the billionaire reality TV star turned politician has meant big ratings - and income - for networks. Leslie Moonves, the chairman of CBS, admitted as much on Monday. “It may not be good for America, but it’s damn good for CBS,” Moonves said at a Morgan Stanley conference in San Francisco. In addition to around-the-clock TV news coverage of Trump and his fellow presidential candidates (but, mainly Trump), major broadcast and cable networks have pulled in record ratings for televised debates throughout this election cycle. Roughly 13.5 million tuned in to CBS for a GOP debate last month, making that one of the most-watched debates so far this year, as nearly 5 million more viewers tuned in to watch Trump battle his GOP rivals than did for a Democratic debate on CBS last November. Thanks to those high ratings, networks have reportedly been able to gouge advertisers for higher ad-rates during this cycle’s debates. Moonves indicated that he is more than happy to have Trump in the White House race if it means more advertising money.
The world is undergoing a populist revival. From the revolt against austerity led by the Syriza Party in Greece and the Podemos Party in Spain, to Jeremy Corbyn's surprise victory as Labour leader in the UK, to Donald Trump's ascendancy in the Republican polls, to Bernie Sanders' surprisingly strong challenge to Hillary Clinton - contenders with their fingers on the popular pulse are surging ahead of their establishment rivals. What Sanders is proposing ... is a real financial revolution, a fundamental change in the system itself. Banks today have usurped the power to create the national money supply. As the Bank of England recently acknowledged, banks create money whenever they make loans. Banks determine who gets the money and on what terms. How can banking be made to serve the needs of the people and the economy, while preserving the more functional aspects of today's highly sophisticated global banking system? We could have a system of publicly-owned banks that were locally controlled, operating independently to serve the needs of their own communities. Making these banks public institutions would differ from the current system only in that the banks would have a mandate to serve the public interest, and the profits would be returned to the local government for public use.
Note: Why is the only US presidential candidate talking seriously about bank reform being given little attention by mainstream media? For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about corruption in government and in the financial industry.
New FEC filings show that all of the $417,250 in monetary donations to a Super PAC called “Black Americans for a Better Future” comes from conservative white businessmen - including $400,000, or 96 percent of the total, from white billionaire hedge fund manager Robert Mercer. Mercer, co-CEO of Renaissance Technologies on Long Island, is best-known politically for donating $11,000,000 to Keep the Promise I, a Super PAC backing Ted Cruz’s presidential run. BABF appears to exist solely as a vehicle for Washington, D.C., consultant Raynard Jackson, who is African-American. Jackson is quoted on his firm’s website stating that “You have a fundamental right to pursue business interests with the least amount of interference from the government.” Jackson has elsewhere accused Barack Obama of “relentless pandering to homosexuals.” At an event in November 2015 at the National Press Club, which cost BABF $13,252.79 for the venue and catering, Jackson said that “Having well-trained, credible, experienced African-Americans constantly challenging the liberal orthodoxy in the media will create a tectonic shift in the perception of the Republican Party within the Black community.” Other donations to BABF [include] $10,000 from Keller Investment Properties of Utah, whose CEO is the white Scott Keller, a member of Mitt Romney’s donor network, [and] $5,000 from the very white Marc Stanley Goldman.
The father of the billionaires Charles G. and David H. Koch helped construct a major oil refinery in Nazi Germany that was personally approved by Adolf Hitler, according to a new history of the Kochs and other wealthy families. The book, “Dark Money,” by Jane Mayer, traces the rise of the modern conservative movement through the activism and money of a handful of rich donors. The book is largely focused on the Koch family, stretching back to its involvement in the far-right John Birch Society and the political and business activities of the father, Fred C. Koch, who found some of his earliest business success overseas in the years leading up to World War II. One venture was a partnership with the American Nazi sympathizer William Rhodes Davis, who, according to Ms. Mayer, hired Mr. Koch to help build the third-largest oil refinery in the Third Reich, a critical industrial cog in Hitler’s war machine. The Kochs’ vast political network, a major force in Republican politics today, was “originally designed as a means of off-loading the costs of the Koch Industries environmental and regulatory fights onto others” by persuading other rich business owners to contribute to Koch-controlled political groups. In Ms. Mayer’s telling, the Kochs helped bankroll - through a skein of nonprofit organizations with minimal public disclosure - decades of victories in state capitals and in Washington, often leaving no fingerprints.
Note: Coincidentally, George Bush's grandfather, the late US senator Prescott Bush, was also in business with the Nazis. The conservative political network overseen by the Koch brothers plans to spend $889 million on US elections in 2016. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing elections corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.
A group formed this year by executives and lobbyists for the defense contracting industry is taking credit for “driving the national debate on foreign policy during the 2016 presidential election,” and in particular for getting Republican presidential candidates to call for escalating military action in Syria. In an email to supporters over the weekend, Mike Rogers, the founder of Americans for Peace, Prosperity, and Security, hailed the group for “pushing candidates on national security.” The email also highlighted a quote from Jeb Bush at an APPS forum calling for the U.S. to be prepared for a “long haul” war on ISIS, and a similar comment from Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., who said the U.S. should engage ISIS as it had against the Taliban in Afghanistan. APPS was formed by current and former officials from Raytheon, BAE Systems, SAIC, and other major defense contractors. Lobbyists who represent the defense industry are also involved. Rogers, the former House Intelligence Committee chairman who retired from Congress last year, also represents private clients. To “help elect a president who supports American engagement and a strong foreign policy,” the group spends money on public events in primary states and encourages presidential candidates to take hawkish positions.
The headlines about Donald Trump hitting new highs in national polls are tremendously deceptive, as they only measure his support among self-declared Republican primary voters, a small subset of the nation as a whole. For example, in [a] recent NBC/Wall Street Journal poll, Trump was the first choice of 27 percent of the Republican voters who responded. Given the weighted samples in this poll (38 percent identify as Republican or leaning Republican) this translates into Trump capturing the support of about 11 percent of American voters in total. In the same poll, 37 percent of Democratic voters supported Democratic contender Bernie Sanders. Given the weighted samples (43 percent identify as Democrat or leaning Democrat) that translates into roughly 16 percent of all American voters. Additionally, in a recent Quinnipiac poll, Sanders beat Trump in a head-to-head matchup - by an even larger margin than Hillary Clinton did. But in terms of coverage by the mainstream media, Trump is besting Sanders 23 to 1, by some estimates. Some of this can be explained by the fact that Trump is the GOP frontrunner, and Sanders has consistently run second to Clinton. But it’s also partly because of what a spectacle Trump has made of himself - and because the media has consistently treated Sanders as a marginal candidate. Media executives view Trump’s outrageous antics as good for their bottom line. “Go Donald! Keep getting out there!” Les Moonves, the chief executive of CBS, [recently] cheered.
Women have been elected to municipal councils in Saudi Arabia for the first time after a ban on women taking part in elections was lifted. At least four women were elected, the state-run Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported. Other news agencies put the number between nine and 17. The vote is being seen as a landmark in the conservative kingdom. However, the councils have limited powers. Saudi women still face many curbs in public life, including driving. A total of 978 women registered as candidates, alongside 5,938 men. Officials said about 130,000 women had registered to vote in Saturday's poll, compared with 1.35 million men. The disparity was attributed by female voters to bureaucratic obstacles and a lack of transport, the AFP news agency says. Female candidates were also not allowed to address male voters directly during campaigning. Elections of any kind are rare in the Saudi kingdom - Saturday was only the third time in history that Saudis had gone to the polls. There were no elections in the 40 years between 1965 and 2005. The decision to allow women to take part was taken by the late King Abdullah and is seen as a key part of his legacy. In announcing the reforms, King Abdullah said women in Saudi Arabia "have demonstrated positions that expressed correct opinions and advice". Before he died in January, he appointed 30 women to the country's top advisory Shura Council. There were 2,100 council seats available in Saturday's vote. An additional 1,050 seats are appointed with approval from the king.
Note: Remember that Saudi Arabia was recently selected to head a UN human rights panel. Yet they only now are allowing women to vote and public beheadings are still commonplace.
Half of all the money contributed so far to Democratic and Republican presidential candidates - $176 million - has come from just 158 families, along with the companies they own or control. Who are these people? According to the report, most of these big contributors live in exclusive neighborhoods where they have private security guards instead of public police officers, private health facilities rather than public parks and pools. Most send their kids and grand kids to elite private schools rather than public schools. They fly in private jets and get driven in private limousines rather than rely on public transportation. They don't have to worry about whether Social Security or Medicare will be there for them in their retirement because they've put away huge fortunes. It's doubtful that most of these 158 are contributing to these campaigns out of the goodness of their hearts. They're largely making investments, just the way they make other investments. And the success of these investments depends on whether their candidates get elected, and will lower their taxes even further, expand tax loopholes, shred health and safety and environmental regulations so their companies can make even more money, and cut Social Security and Medicare and programs for the poor - and thereby allow these 158 and others like them to secede even more from the rest of our society. These people are, after all, are living in their own separate society. They want to elect people who will represent them, not the rest of us.
Note: This essay was written by former US Secretary of Labor Robert Reich. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing income inequality news articles from reliable major media sources.
When you ... cast your vote for the various candidates and public propositions at an electronic voting machine, how confident are you that the results will be tabulated honestly? If you feel less than sanguine about it and do a bit of the research to assuage your doubts, be prepared to feel even less confident afterwards. My statistical analysis shows patterns indicative of vote manipulation in machines. These results form a pattern that goes across the nation and back a number of election cycles. The data reveals multiple (at least two) agents working independently to successfully alter voting results. The official report from the congressional hearing on [the 2004 Ohio presidential] election describes it as 'the abuse and manipulation of electronic voting machines and the arbitrary and illegal behavior of a number of elected and election officials which effectively disenfranchised tens of thousands of voters in order to change the outcome of an election.' For a thorough assessment, [read] 'Post-Election Audits: Restoring Trust in Elections' published by the Brennan Center for Justice. Voting machine software ... is proprietary and even the election officials are not allowed to inspect it. This is termed Black Box Voting and combined with Direct Recording Electronic (DRE) voting, which permits touchscreen machines and does not require a paper trail allows a situation ripe for exploitation. We have a serious pervasive and systematic problem with electronic voting machines.
They are deploying their vast wealth in the political arena, providing almost half of all the seed money raised to support Democratic and Republican presidential candidates. Just 158 families, along with companies they own or control, contributed $176 million in the first phase of the campaign, a New York Times investigation found. Not since before Watergate have so few people and businesses provided so much early money in a campaign, most of it through channels legalized by the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision five years ago. The 158 families each contributed $250,000 or more in the campaign through June 30. An additional 200 families gave more than $100,000. Together, the two groups contributed well over half the money in the presidential election - the vast majority of it supporting Republicans. “The campaign finance system is now a countervailing force to the way the actual voters of the country are evolving and the policies they want,” said Ruy Teixeira, a political and demographic expert. The donor families’ wealth reflects, in part, the vast growth of the financial-services sector and the boom in oil and gas. They are also the beneficiaries of political and economic forces that are driving widening inequality. Together, the [energy and finance] industries accounted for well over half of the cash contributed by the top 158 families.
Note: What does it mean for democracy when billionaire oligarchs have their own political party? For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing elections news articles from reliable major media sources. Then explore the excellent, reliable resources provided in our Elections Information Center.
Amid a massive corruption scandal which has tarnished Brazil’s political class and driven the country’s president to the brink of impeachment, the Brazilian supreme court has banned corporate donations to candidates and parties in future elections. With eight votes in favour and three against, the court declared late on Thursday that the rules allowing companies to donate to election campaigns were unconstitutional. Rosa Weber, one of the judges who ruled in favour of the ban, argued that undue economic influence comprised the legitimacy of the country’s elections. “The influence of economic power has ended up transforming the electoral process into a rigged political game, a despicable pantomime which makes the voter a puppet, simultaneously undermining citizenship, democracy and popular sovereignty.” According to “The Spoils of Victory”, a US academic study into campaign donations and government contracts in Brazil, corporate donors to the PT in the 2006 elections received between 14 to 39 times the value of their donations in government contracts. The case was brought to the supreme court around one and a half years ago by the Order of Brazilian Attorneys (OAB). On Thursday the organization’s secretary general, Cláudio Pereira de Souza Neto, celebrated the decision. “It is what Brazilian society has been hoping for, even more so in these times of crisis,” he said, adding that the court order should make future elections cheaper.
Note: What do you think might happen if the US and Europe banned corporations from making political contributions? Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
Jeremy Corbyn’s stunning transformation from perennial leftist rebel to leader of Britain’s Labour Party upended British politics Saturday. The Corbyn victory represented an extraordinary rebuke to Labour’s more centrist powers-that-be, especially to former prime minister Tony Blair, who had campaigned vigorously against Corbyn. But interventions from Blair and other party heavyweights apparently did little to halt Corbyn’s momentum and may have even backfired. In a fiery victory speech, Corbyn vowed to combat society’s “grotesque inequality” and make Britain a more humane country. Corbyn has often bucked the Labour leadership on critical issues — including the vote to authorize the Iraq war — and his message resonated among Labour voters who believe their party has been reduced to a pale imitation of the Tories, especially as it lurched to the center under Blair. He has previously called for Britain to leave NATO, favors unilateral nuclear disarmament and champions the nationalization of vast sectors of the economy. He has also said that he will apologize on behalf of Labour for the Iraq invasion and that Blair could face war-crimes charges. In Britain ... voters on both ends of the spectrum are looking for alternatives to the traditional power-brokers. “This isn’t just a leftist phenomenon. It’s a populist phenomenon,” [Queen Mary University professor Tim] Bale said. “It’s the idea that voters are fed up with politics as usual and an elite that’s compromised.”
Note: Former prime minister Tony Blair was reported to have personally made millions from warmongering, and was convicted in a symbolic Malaysian trial of “crimes against peace” in Iraq. Will Corbyn actually attempt to bring formal charges against Blair in the U.K.?
Former president Jimmy Carter said Tuesday on the nationally syndicated radio show the Thom Hartmann Program that the United States is now an “oligarchy” in which “unlimited political bribery” has created “a complete subversion of our political system as a payoff to major contributors.” Carter was responding to a question from Hartmann about recent Supreme Court decisions on campaign financing like Citizens United. HARTMANN: "Our Supreme Court has now said, 'unlimited money in politics.' It seems like a violation of principles of democracy. ... Your thoughts on that?" CARTER: "It violates the essence of what made America a great country in its political system. Now it’s just an oligarchy, with unlimited political bribery being the essence of getting the nominations for president or to elect the president. And the same thing applies to governors and U.S. senators and congress members. So now we’ve just seen a complete subversion of our political system as a payoff to major contributors, who want and expect and sometimes get favors for themselves after the election’s over. ... The incumbents, Democrats and Republicans, look upon this unlimited money as a great benefit to themselves. Somebody’s who’s already in Congress has a lot more to sell to an avid contributor than somebody who’s just a challenger." Carter’s statement [has been added] to this list of politicians acknowledging that money controls politics.
Americans are required to register if they want to vote; as of this week, Oregonians will have to register not to. Gov. Kate Brown signed a first-in-the-nation bill to automatically register all eligible Oregonians to vote when they obtain or renew a driver’s license or state identification card. Those who are registered through the new process will be notified by mail and will be given three weeks to take themselves off the voting rolls. If they do not opt out, the secretary of state’s office will mail them a ballot automatically 20 days before any election. Oregon was the first state in the country to switch to all-mail voting when Ballot Measure 60 was passed in 1998 by a wide margin. Washington state and Colorado later followed suit. Currently, there are about 2.2 million registered voters in Oregon, said Tony Green, spokesman for Secretary of State Jeanne Atkins, and an additional 800,000 are not registered but eligible. The new law is expected to bring nearly half of those onto the voter rolls. For those who are already registered to vote, he said, “there will be no change. But if you move, your information will be automatically transferred. You don’t have to manually re-register. You only have to do one thing — change your driver's license address.” The change was not universally embraced. HB 2177 passed both chambers of the state Legislature without a single Republican vote in its favor.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing elections news articles from reliable major media sources.
President Obama has spent the summer at war with his own party over how to write the rules of global trade. Not since Woodrow Wilson promised to break the “money monopoly” ... has the Democratic Party found itself so inflamed against the intersection of wealth and power. The giants of the party now find their credentials, and motivations, under attack. The new fire is fueled by a shift in economics that feels like a crisis for many Americans. Real wages have increased 138% for the top 1% of American income earners since 1979, but only 15% for the 90% below. From 2002 to 2013, the only groups of American households that did not see their real incomes on average decline or stagnate were headed by college graduates and young people in their 20s. At the same time, over a quarter-century, fixed costs such as housing, education and health care have outpaced inflation. [Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s] message ... is that both Republicans and Democrats have misread the economic challenge and been co-opted by the forces of greed. “The pressure on the middle class is not simply a natural force,” she says. “It is the result of deliberate decisions made by the leaders of this country.” America’s enemy, in other words, lurks within. “This is not a top-vs.-bottom story,” she continues. “This is a top-and-everyone-else story. This is a 90-10 story.” Two-thirds of Americans now believe that wealth should be more evenly distributed. An even greater share of the country supports raising taxes on those who make more than $1 million.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing income inequality news articles from reliable major media sources. Then explore the excellent, reliable resources provided in our Elections Information Center.
Federal law designates the secretary of state as “responsible for the continuous supervision and general direction of sales” of arms, military hardware and services to foreign countries. In practice, that meant that [Hillary] Clinton was charged with rejecting or approving weapons deals — and when it came to Clinton Foundation donors, Hillary Clinton’s State Department did a whole lot of approving. While Clinton was secretary of state, her department approved $165 billion worth of commercial arms sales to Clinton Foundation donors. That figure ... is almost double the value of arms sales to those countries during the same period of President George W. Bush’s second term. The Clinton-led State Department also authorized $151 billion of separate Pentagon-brokered deals for 16 of the countries that gave to the Clinton Foundation. That was a 143 percent increase in completed sales to those nations over the same time frame during the Bush administration. The 143 percent increase in U.S. arms sales to Clinton Foundation donors compares to an 80 percent increase in such sales to all countries over the same time period. American military contractors and their affiliates that donated to the Clinton Foundation — and in some cases, helped finance speaking fees to Bill Clinton — also got in on the action. Those firms and their subsidiaries were listed as contractors in $163 billion worth of arms deals authorized by the Clinton State Department.
Note: If you can not access this article at the link above, it is also available here. If you look at war and global politics from the point of view of war profiteering, you can see why despite popular opposition to war, it never stops. Read an excellent essay by a top US general exposing how war is a racket.
Former House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers has formed a new pressure group ... to serve as the “premiere national security and foreign policy organization during the 2016 debate” and to “help elect a president who supports American engagement and a strong foreign policy.” Roger’s group, Americans for Peace, Prosperity, and Security, is hosting candidate events and intends to host a candidate forum later this year. A look at the business executives helping APPS steer presidential candidates towards more hawkish positions reveals that many are defense contractors who stand to gain financially from continued militarism. Rogers may have a conflict of interest as well. Explaining the goals of his group to a news outlet in Indiana, Rogers lamented the lack of “surveillance capabilities” and warned of increasing threat of cyberwarfare. “It’s not unusual for the arms industry to use front groups to press for a more aggressive foreign policy,” says William Hartung, director of the Arms & Security Project at the Center for International Policy. “It sounds a lot more credible when a group called ‘Americans for Peace, Prosperity and Security’ calls for a policy shift than if the same argument comes out of the mouth of an arms executive or lobbyist whose livelihood is tied to the spread of tension and conflict,” Hartung said.
Note: Read a powerful essay by a top US general exposing the war machine titled "War is a Racket." For more, see concise summaries of deeply revealing electoral process corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.
The world’s biggest and most profitable fossil fuel companies are receiving huge and rising subsidies from US taxpayers, a practice slammed as absurd by a presidential candidate given the threat of climate change. A Guardian investigation of three specific projects, run by Shell, ExxonMobil and Marathon Petroleum, has revealed that the subsidies were all granted by politicians who received significant campaign contributions from the fossil fuel industry. “At a time when scientists tell us we need to reduce carbon pollution to prevent catastrophic climate change, it is absurd to provide massive taxpayer subsidies that pad fossil-fuel companies’ already enormous profits,” said senator Bernie Sanders, who announced on 30 April he is running for president. Sanders, with representative Keith Ellison, recently proposed an End Polluter Welfare Act, which they say would cut $135bn of US subsidies for fossil fuel companies over the next decade. “Between 2010 and 2014, the oil, coal, gas, utility, and natural resource extraction industries spent $1.8bn on lobbying,” according to Sanders and Ellison. Globally in 2013, the most recent figures available, the coal, oil and gas industries benefited from subsidies of $550bn, four times those given to renewable energy. In 2009, President Barack Obama called on the G20 to eliminate fossil fuel subsidies but since then US federal subsidies have risen by 45%. Every single well, pipeline, refinery, coal and gas plant in the country is heavily subsidised.
The leader of the Federal Election Commission, the agency charged with regulating the way political money is raised and spent, says she has largely given up hope of reining in abuses in the 2016 presidential campaign. “The likelihood of the laws being enforced is slim,” Ann M. Ravel, the chairwoman, said in an interview. “People think the F.E.C. is dysfunctional. It’s worse than dysfunctional.” Her unusually frank assessment reflects a worsening stalemate among the agency’s six commissioners. They are perpetually locked in 3-to-3 ties along party lines on key votes because of a fundamental disagreement over the mandate of the commission, which was created 40 years ago in response to the political corruption of Watergate. The F.E.C.’s paralysis comes at a particularly critical time because of the sea change brought about by the Supreme Court’s decision in 2010 in the Citizens United case, which freed corporations and unions to spend unlimited funds in support of political candidates. Experts predict that the 2016 race could produce a record fund-raising haul of as much as $10 billion, with the growth fueled by well-financed outside groups. On their own, the conservative billionaires Charles G. and David H. Koch have promised to spend $889 million through their political network.
Note: Read about how Citizens United paved the way for billionaire oligarchs to become their own political party. For more, see concise summaries of deeply revealing electoral process corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.
Big Wall Street banks are so upset with U.S. Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren's call for them to be broken up that some have discussed withholding campaign donations to Senate Democrats in symbolic protest. Representatives from Citigroup, JPMorgan, Goldman Sachs and Bank of America, have met to discuss ways to urge Democrats, including Warren and Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown, to soften their party's tone toward Wall Street. Citigroup has decided to withhold donations for now to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee over concerns that Senate Democrats could give Warren and lawmakers who share her views more power, sources inside the bank told Reuters. The Massachusetts senator's economic populism and take-no-prisoners approach has won her a strong following. Warren, a former Harvard Law professor who joined the Senate Banking Committee after taking office in 2013, has accused big banks and other financial firms of unfair dealings that harm the middle class and help the rich grow richer. In a Dec. 12 speech, she mentioned Citi several times as an example of a bank that had grown too large, saying it should have been broken apart by the Dodd-Frank financial reform law. In January, Warren angered Wall Street when she successfully blocked the nomination of a banker Antonio Weiss to a top post at the Treasury Department. She argued that as a regulator he would likely be too deferential to his former Wall Street colleagues.
The political network overseen by the conservative billionaires Charles G. and David H. Koch plans to spend close to $900 million on the 2016 campaign, an unparalleled effort by coordinated outside groups to shape a presidential election that is already on track to be the most expensive in history. The spending goal ... would allow their political organization to operate at the same financial scale as the Democratic and Republican Parties. It would require a significant financial commitment from the Kochs and roughly 300 other donors they have recruited ... to influence legislation and campaigns across the country, leveraging Republican control of Congress and the party’s dominance of state capitols to push for deregulation, tax cuts and smaller government. The [increased budget] reflects the rising ambition and expanded reach of the Koch operation. In 2012, the Kochs’ network spent just under $400 million, an astonishing sum at the time. The $889 million spending goal for 2016 would put it on track to spend nearly as much as the campaigns of each party’s presidential nominee. The Kochs are longtime opponents of campaign disclosure laws. Their network is constructed chiefly of nonprofit groups that are not required to reveal donors.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing elections news articles from reliable major media sources.
Zephyr Teachout took only 34 percent of the vote in [2014's] Democratic primary against New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, but she succeeded in bringing her old-fashioned populist platform to the attention of the media and a broad audience of voters. Outside of New York, of course, it's still only a few people who have had exposure to Teachout's unusual political views. The Fordham University law professor has consistently argued -- on the stump and in her academic work -- that the government should do more to ensure free competition, both in elections and in the economy. She is calling for more aggressive government in these areas, but to the end of decentralizing political and financial power. Public financing of campaigns was one of two main planks in her platform. The other plank was a renewed commitment to preventing monopolies and oligopolies in business. She argues that in industries from health care to banking to meat processing, policies adopted during the Reagan administration have permitted mergers and acquisitions resulting in the concentration of market power in the hands of a few firms. As a result ... consumers pay higher prices and workers are paid less, and large firms can lobby in a coordinated way for legislative protection from would-be competitors. As Democrats decide on a compelling agenda to rally voters in 2016 ... the ideas Teachout has advocated could be appealing.
Note: Learn how Teachout spent 1/40th of what her opponent did in the elections, yet she still gained over 30% of the vote. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing elections news articles from reliable major media sources.
Attorneys general in at least a dozen states are working with energy companies and other corporate interests, which in turn are providing them with record amounts of money for their political campaigns, including at least $16 million this year. The Times reported previously how individual attorneys general have shut down investigations, changed policies or agreed to more corporate-friendly settlement terms [for] campaign benefactors. But the attorneys general are also working collectively. Out of public view, corporate representatives and attorneys general are coordinating legal strategy and other efforts to fight federal regulations, according to a review of thousands of emails and court documents and dozens of interviews. Attorney General Scott Pruitt of Oklahoma [used his post] to help start what he and allies called the Rule of Law campaign. That campaign, in which attorneys general band together to operate like a large national law firm, has been used to back lawsuits and other challenges against the Obama administration on environmental issues, the Affordable Care Act and securities regulation. The most recent target is the president’s executive action on immigration. Coordination between the corporations and teams of attorneys general involved in the Rule of Law effort also involves actual litigation to try to clear roadblocks to energy projects, documents show.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing government corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.
Congressional liberals rebelled Wednesday against a must-pass spending bill that would ... roll back critical limits on Wall Street and sharply increase the influence of wealthy campaign donors. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), a popular figure on the left, led the insurrection with a speech on the Senate floor, calling the $1.01 trillion spending bill “the worst of government for the rich and powerful.” Meanwhile, White House press secretary Josh Earnest said, “I don’t think the vast majority of Democrats or even Republicans are going to look too kindly on a Congress that’s ready to go back and start doing the bidding of Wall Street interests again.” On the Senate floor, Warren said the changes in the spending bill “would let derivatives traders on Wall Street gamble with taxpayer money and get bailed out by the government when their risky bets threaten to blow up our financial system.” She added: “These are the same banks that nearly broke the economy in 2008 and destroyed millions of jobs.” Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), who opposed the 2013 bill, said he would vote against the new spending measure in its current form. The change to Dodd-Frank coupled with the campaign finance provision makes for a toxic blend, he said. Van Hollen was one of the few Democrats willing to risk a government shutdown by blocking the bill. Pressed by reporters, even Warren would not make that commitment.
The end-of-year spending bill deal crafted by congressional leaders Tuesday would dramatically expand the amount of money that wealthy political donors could inject into the national parties, drastically undercutting the 2002 landmark McCain-Feingold campaign finance overhaul. The language – inserted on page 1,599 of the 1,603-page bill – would allow ... a donor who gave the maximum $32,400 this year to the Democratic National Committee or Republican National Committee ... to donate another $291,600 on top of that to the party’s additional arms -- a total of $324,000, ten times the current limit. In a two-year election cycle, a couple could give $1,296,000 to a party's various accounts. "These provisions have never been considered by the House or Senate, and were never even publicly mentioned before today," said Fred Wertheimer, president of the advocacy group Democracy 21. Adam Smith, spokesman for the group Every Voice, said in a statement, “Very few people can write checks almost twice the size of the country’s median income, but that’s what this provision will allow. It gives the biggest donors another opportunity to influence politics and buys them more access to politicians.” Campaign finance experts were taken aback by the scope of the measure, rumors of which first surfaced Tuesday, hours before the deal was finalized.
Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren -- not Hillary Clinton -- is the top progressive choice for president in 2016, according to a new poll. Forty two percent of respondents favor Warren, and Vermont Independent Senator Bernie Sanders also edges out Clinton with 24% compared to her 23%, according to results from the 2016 Presidential Pulse Poll commissioned by progressive grassroots organization Democracy for America. These results come amid a groundswell of activism from the Democratic party's more liberal wing, which has called for a contested 2016 primary and has often questioned Clinton's financial ties to Wall Street. "Elizabeth Warren won by a large margin because she inspires Democrats by valiantly fighting for populist progressive policies to address income inequality in the face of Wall Street resistance -- and because she regularly engages with the grassroots base of her party," said Charles Chamberlain, the group's executive director, in a release of the poll. He noted, however, that the poll's biggest finding is not that support for Warren among liberal voters is widespread, but that progressives want to make sure that the Democratic nomination process is a "contest, not a coronation." Warren repeatedly told CNN's Gloria Borger in an interview that she has no intention of running for president.
Note: Watch a great video of Warren at the link above. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing election process news articles from reliable major media sources.
The most disturbing trend in the financing of American political campaigns is not the magnitude of the money being spent. It’s that more and more of that money is not going through the campaigns themselves — where donations must be disclosed and limited — but from nonprofit groups that are being set up for the express purpose of frustrating any attempt to identify their funders. This infusion of “dark money” all but obliterates the post-Watergate notion that Americans have a right to know who is behind ... candidates. In this new world order, various players are operating under different sets of rules — and some seem to be creating their own, aware that this Supreme Court seems disinclined to stop them. We know, for example, that billionaire investor Tom Steyer spent $74 million on behalf of Democratic candidates who were committed to doing something about climate change. There is no exact figure on how much was spent at the other end of the spectrum by the Koch brothers, the conservative oil barons who funnel much of their donations through nonprofits that are not required to list their funding sources under the tax code. A memo by the Koch brothers’ main political arm, leaked to Politico in May, forecast a budget of $125 million in this election. Such obfuscation is becoming more commonplace. The average voter is left without knowing who really is behind these campaigns. But make no mistake: Our elected officials are well aware of their benefactors and their expectations.
Note: For more along these lines, see these summaries of deeply revealing election news articles from reliable sources.
There is a certain genius in how we snug Election Day up against Halloween on the calendar. We scare each other for fun and profit on the last day of October every year. In even-numbered years ... we scare each other on the first Tuesday thereafter, too. This year, the closing argument from the Republican side is a whole bunch of ghastly fantasies: Ebola, the Islamic State, vague but nefarious aspersions about stolen elections and a whole bunch of terrifying fantasies about our border with Mexico. On the other side, Democrats want to keep control of the Senate, so their best fear pitch is that if Republicans take over, things in Washington will suddenly get worse. That’s a little hard to take as we coast into the closing days of what is literally the least productive Congress in the modern history of Congress. For all the politicking on the threat posed by the Islamic State, Congress decided to neither debate nor vote on the U.S. military fight against the group in Iraq or Syria. As the president announced expanded military deployments in the region, Congress cancelled its remaining workdays in October and November, until after the election. Congress thinks it’s more advantageous to run ads about how scary the Islamic State is than to face the real threat of actually taking a vote on what to do about that threat. Halloween is over, but the most deeply craven, vacuous political season in years has followed down its ghostly trail.
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Before 2002, parties could accept unlimited donations from individuals or groups (corporations, labor unions, etc.). The McCain-Feingold law, as it came to be known, banned soft-money contributions, and it also prohibited political groups that operate outside the regulated system and its donation limits from running “issue ads” that appear to help or hurt a candidate close to an election. In 2010, the Citizens United decision by the Supreme Court effectively blew apart the McCain-Feingold restrictions on outside groups and their use of corporate and labor money in elections. That same year, a related ruling from a lower court made it easier for wealthy individuals to finance those groups. What followed has been the most unbridled spending in elections since before Watergate. In 2000, outside groups spent $52 million on campaigns, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. By 2012, that number had increased to $1 billion. The result was a massive power shift. With the advent of Citizens United, any players with the wherewithal, and there are surprisingly many of them, can start what are in essence their own political parties, built around pet causes or industries and backing politicians uniquely answerable to them. No longer do they have to buy into the system. Instead, they buy their own pieces of it outright. “Suddenly, we privatized politics,” says Trevor Potter, an election lawyer who helped draft the McCain-Feingold law.
Note: To understand the decisive role that money plays in elections politics, read this entire, revealing article. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing election process news articles from reliable major media sources. For more along these lines, see the excellent, reliable resources provided in our Elections Information Center.
Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission in 2010 tossed aside decades of legislative restrictions, freeing corporations and unions to spend as much as they wished. Six months ago, the Supreme Court took its Citizens United decision further. In McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission, it struck down long standing caps on what an individual may contribute to all federal candidates, collectively, in any two-year election cycle. With conservative justices dominant, the court expanded the concept that money is equivalent to speech, protected by the First Amendment. Corporations, it said, enjoy the same political rights as individuals. A study by the Sunlight Foundation, an advocate for government transparency, found that 31,385 people — that is 1 percent of 1 percent of the United States population — accounted for 28 percent of all disclosed contributions in the 2012 elections. This year, an analysis by The New York Times shows, more than half of broadcast advertising in the midterm elections has been paid for by groups that reveal little or nothing about their donors. Overwhelmingly, the main beneficiaries have been conservative organizations.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing election news articles from reliable major media sources. For more along these lines, see the excellent, reliable resources provided in our Elections Information Center.
Addicted to each other’s power and money, the political parties and their corporate donors are constantly trying to enlarge their relationship out of sight of the American public. An accidental Internet disclosure last month showed that the stealthy form of political corruption known as “dark money” now fully permeates governor’s offices around the country, allowing corporations to push past legal barriers and gather enormous influence. This has been going on nationally for several years ... after wealthy interests claimed that a series of legal decisions allowed them to give unlimited and undisclosed amounts to “social welfare” groups that pretended not to engage in politics. (The tax code prohibits these groups from having politics as a primary purpose.) Now it turns out that both the Republican and Democratic governors’ associations have also set up social welfare groups ... with the purpose of raising secret political money. Thanks to the computer slip ... we now know some of the people and corporations that secretly contributed. Companies that gave at the highest level (more than $250,000) included Exxon Mobil, the Corrections Corporation of America, Pfizer and the Koch companies. In exchange for their private donations, “members” of [one key] group were invited to a symposium last year [where] they were allowed to meet with (and lobby) some of the highest-ranking officials and regulators in states with Republican governors. Big donors are given “the greatest opportunity possible to meet and talk informally with the Republican governors and their key staff members.” The Democratic Governors Association does exactly the same thing, regularly providing access to top state executives in exchange for large contributions. Both parties are routinely selling access to the nation’s governors and their staffs to those with the most resources.
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Together, Charles and David Koch control one of the world's largest fortunes, which they are using to buy up our political system. The Kochs [have] cornered the market on Republican politics and are nakedly attempting to buy Congress and the White House. Koch-affiliated organizations raised some $400 million during the 2012 election, and aim to spend another $290 million to elect Republicans in this year's midterms. Koch ... is larger than IBM, Honda or Hewlett-Packard and is America's second-largest private company. Brothers Charles and David are each worth more than $40 billion. But what they don't want you to know is how they made all that money. The company's stock response to inquiries from reporters: "We are privately held and don't disclose this information." The company's troubled legal history – including a trail of congressional investigations ... civil lawsuits and felony convictions ... combine to cast an unwelcome spotlight on the toxic empire. The company has paid out record civil and criminal environmental penalties. According to the University of Massachusetts Amherst's Political Economy Research Institute, only three companies rank among the top 30 polluters of America's air, water and climate: ExxonMobil, American Electric Power and Koch Industries. Koch Industries dumps more pollutants into the nation's waterways than General Electric and International Paper combined. Koch has profited precisely by dumping billions of pounds of pollutants into our waters and skies. The Koch brothers get richer as the costs of what Koch destroys are foisted on the rest of us – in the form of ill health, foul water and a climate crisis that threatens life as we know it on this planet.
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Republicans and Democrats, and groups sympathetic to each, spend millions on sophisticated technology to gain an advantage. But sometimes, a simple coding mistake can lay bare documents and data that were supposed to be concealed from the prying eyes of the public. Such an error by the Republican Governors Association recently resulted in the disclosure of exactly the kind of information that political committees given tax-exempt status usually keep secret, namely their corporate donors and the size of their checks. The documents, many of which the Republican officials have since removed from their website, showed that many of America’s most prominent companies, from Aetna to Walmart, had poured millions of dollars into the campaigns of Republican governors since 2008. “This is a classic example of how corporations are trying to use secret money, hidden from the American people, to buy influence, and how the governors association is selling it,” said Fred Wertheimer, the president of Democracy 21. The trove of documents, discovered by watchdogs at the Democrat-aligned Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, or CREW, sheds light on the secretive world of 501(c)(4) political groups, just as the battle over their future intensifies. The tax-exempt Republican Governors Public Policy Committee is not required to disclose anything, even as donors hit the links, rub shoulders and trade policy talk with governors and their top staff members. In a tit for tat, the Republican association unearthed documents from the Democratic Governors Association that also name corporate donors and the benefits.
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Wall Street is one of the biggest sources of funding for presidential campaigns, and many of the Republican Party's potential 2016 contenders are governors. And so, last week, the GOP filed a federal lawsuit aimed at overturning the ... law that bars those governors from raising campaign money from Wall Street executives who manage their states' pension funds. In this case, New York's and Tennessee's Republican parties are represented by two former Bush administration officials, one of whose firms just won the Supreme Court case invalidating campaign contribution limits on large donors. In their complaint, the parties argue that people managing state pension money have a First Amendment right to make large donations to state officials who award those lucrative money management contracts. With the $3 trillion public pension system controlled by elected officials now generating billions of dollars worth of management fees for Wall Street, Securities and Exchange Commission regulators originally passed the rule to make sure retirees' money wasn't being handed out based on politicians' desire to pay back their campaign donors. The suit comes only a few weeks after the SEC issued its first fines under the rule - against a firm whose executives made campaign donations to Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett, a Republican, and Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter, a Democrat. In a statement on that case, the SEC promised more enforcement of the pay-to-play rule in the future. The GOP lawsuit aims to stop that promise from becoming a reality.
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It’s not enough, apparently, that some of the wealthiest Americans spend millions to elect their candidates to Congress. Now they are using their fortunes to lobby Congress against any limits on their ability to buy elections. Koch Companies Public Sector, part of the industrial group owned by a well-known pair of conservative brothers, has hired a big-name firm to lobby Congress on campaign-finance issues, according to a registration form filed a few weeks ago. The form doesn’t say what those issues are, but there are several bills in the House that would reduce the role of anonymous big money in campaigns, and restrict the kinds of super PACs and nonprofit groups that the Koch brothers and others have inflated with cash. Clearly, it’s vital to the Kochs and others like them to prevent such limits from being enacted; their network raised $400 million in 2012, and it has been extremely active again this year. To that end, they have done something ordinary citizens cannot do: They hired the lobbying firm of a well-known former senator, Don Nickles, Republican of Oklahoma, to press their interests. Mr. Nickles started his firm a few months after leaving the Senate in 2005, and he takes in up to $8 million a year from big firms like Exxon Mobil, General Motors and Walmart. This is a perfect illustration of the cumulative power of cash in today’s Washington. Members of Congress get elected with substantial help from check writers like the Kochs and others. Once there, they do the bidding of former members paid by the Kochs to preserve their business interests and fight off campaign-finance reforms.
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Charles and David Koch wrapped up their annual summer seminar on June 16. [Their] combined net worth is more than $100 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. The highly secretive mega-donor conference, called “American Courage: Our Commitment to a Free Society,” featured a who’s who of Republican political elites. 300 individuals—worth at least a billion each—were present. The explicit goal was to raise $500 million to take the Senate in the 2014 midterms and another $500 million “to make sure Hillary Clinton is never president.” The Koch network raised an estimated $407 million in the 2012 presidential election, according to an analysis by The Washington Post and the Center for Responsive Politics. Intriguing in its ambiguity was the “Energy: Changing the Narrative” session, presumably meant to change the narrative of climate change to one of energy independence. The Kochs are investing large sums in “a new energy initiative with what looks like a deregulatory, pro-consumer spin” to combat President Obama’s new regulations on carbon dioxide emissions and liberal billionaire Tom Steyer’s $100 million commitment to fight climate change. It is not hard to see why the Kochs, as the owners of a large carbon-based energy conglomerate with interests in oil, natural gas and coal, are some of the most vocal climate deniers. In 2013, Forbes listed Koch Industries as the second largest privately held company in the country. This conclave of billionaires is determined to roll back Obamacare and carbon restrictions. In an America where money equals speech, Koch is king.
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The political network backed by the Koch brothers, already spending tens of millions of dollars this year to boost Republicans’ chances of retaking the Senate, is expanding its national playbook as part of a long-term strategy designed to strengthen conservatives heading into the 2016 presidential campaign. The effort, part of an overall budget that organizers expect to total nearly $300 million this year, includes broadening outreach to veterans, viewed as an energized constituency in the wake of the recent Veterans Affairs scandal, and messages tailored for Latinos and young people, long considered core Democratic constituencies. The strategy for 2014 includes a new super PAC that can pour all its money into overt election activity. The plan underscores the huge reach of the Koch-backed operation, a singular force in American politics that has functioned outside the traditional campaign finance system. The Koch-backed network, a coalition of nonprofit organizations not required to disclose their donors, raised $407 million in the 2012 cycle, a presidential election year in which outside spending increased greatly on both sides of the aisle. This year, the network is likely to outstrip other organizations on both the left and the right with spending on television ads and on-the-ground organizing. Its main political organ, the free-market advocacy group Americans for Prosperity, has 240 full-time employees in 32 states, more than double the size of its 2012 staff.
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The US is dominated by a rich and powerful elite. So concludes a recent study by Princeton University Prof Martin Gilens and Northwestern University Prof Benjamin I Page. Multivariate analysis indicates that economic elites and organised groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on US government policy, while average citizens and mass-based interest groups have little or no independent influence. In English: the wealthy few move policy, while the average American has little power. The two professors came to this conclusion after reviewing answers to 1,779 survey questions asked between 1981 and 2002 on public policy issues. They broke the responses down by income level, and then determined how often certain income levels and organised interest groups saw their policy preferences enacted. "A proposed policy change with low support among economically elite Americans (one-out-of-five in favour) is adopted only about 18% of the time," they write, "while a proposed change with high support (four-out-of-five in favour) is adopted about 45% of the time." When a majority of citizens disagrees with economic elites and/or with organised interests, they generally lose. Moreover, because of the strong status quo bias built into the US political system, even when fairly large majorities of Americans favour policy change, they generally do not get it. They conclude: "We believe that if policymaking is dominated by powerful business organisations and a small number of affluent Americans, then America's claims to being a democratic society are seriously threatened."
Note: For more on the antidemocratic impacts of income inequality, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.
America is not yet an oligarchy, but that's where Charles and David Koch and a few other billionaires are taking us. Around a quarter century ago, as income and wealth began concentrating at the top, the Republican and Democratic parties started to morph into mechanisms for extracting money, mostly from wealthy people. Finally, after the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision in 2010, billionaires began creating their own political mechanisms, separate from the political parties. They now give big money directly to political candidates of their choice, and mount their own media campaigns to sway public opinion toward their own views. So far in the 2014 election cycle, Americans for Prosperity, the Koch brothers' political front group, has aired more than 17,000 broadcast TV commercials, compared with only 2,100 aired by Republican Party groups. Americans for Prosperity has also been outspending top Democratic super PACs in nearly all of the Senate races Republicans are targeting this year. In seven of the nine races, the difference in total spending is at least 2-to-1, and Democratic super PACs have had virtually no air presence in five of the nine states. Four of the top five contributors to 2014 super PACs are now giving money to political operations they themselves created, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Billionaires squaring off against each other isn't remotely a democracy. When billionaires supplant political parties, candidates are beholden directly to the billionaires. And if and when those candidates win election, the billionaires will be completely in charge.
Note: For more on the systemic control of money in US elections, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.
As constitutional scholars digest the [Supreme Court’s latest decision freeing donors to spend more money on campaigns], it has already set off a bipartisan scramble for campaign cash, thrusting party leaders, lawmakers with leadership PACs, and candidates into a fierce competition. The ruling allows donors to make the maximum contribution to an unlimited number of campaigns, freeing donors from caps that required them to pick and prioritize from among each party’s candidates and national committees. And while the decision could inject tens of millions of additional dollars into the 2014 races, it has also left some candidates and party leaders with a new concern: that the biggest donors will get tired of writing new checks. Fund-raisers and donors in both parties said they had begun to get a wave of tentative and not-so-tentative requests for new checks or future commitments, as the leaders of the parties’ congressional wings compete with each other and with the Republican and Democratic National Committees. All are focusing on a relatively limited group of donors in both parties who appeared to have given the maximum allowed or come close to the old cap — the people most likely to write additional checks after [the court’s] decision.
Note: For more on corruption in the US electoral process, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.
Lawmakers of both parties are desperately trying to stop the Internal Revenue Service from interfering with the most powerful political invention that ever fell into their laps: the use of non-profit groups as a source of unlimited and anonymous campaign money. An investigation now unfolding in Utah ... exposes in remarkable detail how profoundly the non-profit system can be corrupted for the benefit of a single industry and a single politician. The politician involved was John Swallow, a former lobbyist for an empire of payday-loan and check-cashing companies. When Mr. Swallow ran for Utah Attorney General as a Republican in 2012, his strategist established several social-welfare groups, which don’t have to name their donors, so that the payday-loan industry could support him financially without anyone knowing. The groups collected hundreds of thousands of dollars in secret donations from the industry, and the money was used to run attack ads against Mr. Swallow’s opponent, who wanted to crack down on payday lenders. The ads worked, and Mr. Swallow was elected. When the I.R.S. started looking into the non-profit groups and demanding documentation, ... Congressional Republicans accused the agency (falsely) of singling out conservative non-profit groups. Eventually, a parallel state investigation drove Mr. Swallow from office; he resigned last fall, and last week a state legislative panel accused him of breaching the public trust by hanging “a veritable ‘for sale’ sign on the office door that invited moneyed interests to seek special treatment and favors.”
Note: For more on serious problems with the US electoral system, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.
Democrats have been staggered by a $20 million advertising blitz produced by Americans for Prosperity, the conservative advocacy group organized and financed by the Koch brothers, billionaire industrialists. The ads take aim at House and Senate candidates for re-election who have supported the health law, and blame them for the hyped-up problems with the law’s rollout that now seem to be the sole plank in this year’s Republican platform. In 2012 ... the Koch network raised $407 million, which was secreted among 17 groups with cryptic names and purposes that were designed to make it impossible to figure out the names of donors the Kochs worked with. As one tax expert told [The Washington Post], “it’s designed to make it opaque as to where the money is coming from and where the money is going.” The Democrats have smaller versions of these operations, though they are more focused on building a super PAC to collect unlimited donations supporting Hillary Rodham Clinton in 2016, and they lack the resources to compete with the Kochs at this stage. The clandestine influence of the Kochs ... would be much reduced if they were forced to play in the sunshine. The Internal Revenue Service and several lawmakers are beginning to step up their interest in preventing “social welfare” organizations and other tax-sheltered groups from being used as political conduits, but they have encountered the usual resistance from Republican lawmakers. Considering how effectively the Koch brothers are doing their job, it’s easy to see why.
Note: For more on major flaws in the US electoral system, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.
Money is flooding into federal elections in the post-Citizens United era. And yet the agency tasked with monitoring and regulating all of that activity is close to crippled due to staff cuts and partisan bickering. That’s according to Dave Levinthal of the Center for Public Integrity, which released a massive analysis on the Federal Election Commission and its problems earlier this week. Among the problems with the agency Levinthal identified include: * The commission over the past year has reached a paralyzing all-time low in its ability to reach consensus, stalling action on dozens of rulemaking, audit and enforcement matters, some of which are years old. * Despite an explosion in political spending hastened by key Supreme Court decisions, the agency’s funding has remained flat for five years and staffing levels have fallen to a 15-year low. * Analysts charged with scouring disclosure reports to ensure candidates and political committees are complying with laws have a nearly quarter-million-page backlog. This is the rule-making and rule-enforcing entity for all federal money in politics. We live in an age in which public financing of presidential elections is a thing of the past — 2012 is the first election since Watergate where neither major party nominee accepted public funds for the general election – and, thanks to super PACs, wealthy individuals have more power than ever. The price tag for the 2012 election topped $6 billion, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. As Levinthal puts it: “As the nation heads into what will undoubtedly be the most expensive midterm election in history and a 2016 presidential election that, in no small way, has already begun, the FEC is rotting from the inside out.”
Note: For more on deep problems in the US electoral system, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.
A proposal to require labeling of genetically engineered foods and seeds in Washington state enjoyed broad public support in polls this summer. That was before some of the largest food companies swooped in to spend more so consumers would know less about what they are eating. The Grocery Manufacturers Association, a Washington-based trade group that represents companies such as ConAgra Foods and Kraft Foods, was responsible for $11 million of the $22 million campaign against the initiative, compared with about $9 million by pro-labeling advocates. The GMA's campaign made the difference. The initiative, which had 66 percent support in a September survey, was defeated by 51 percent to 49 percent. The grocers, who opposed the proposal as arbitrary and costly for businesses, raised more than $2.3 million from PepsiCo Inc. and about $1.5 million each from Coca-Cola Co., [and] Nestle USA. Those groups also were part of a $45 million campaign that defeated a labeling initiative in California last year. "Spending is not a problem" for organizations opposed to labeling requirements, said Colin O'Neil, director of government affairs for the Center for Food Safety, which backed the Washington state initiative. "These companies will spend whatever it takes to defeat labeling at the state level." If that's the case, the trade associations and their members will be issuing a lot more checks as fights over labeling food are breaking out in other states and advocates are pressing the matter in Congress with proposed legislation from both sides awaiting action.
Note: For more on the risks from genetically-modified organisms in food and the environment, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.
A secretive nonprofit group with ties to the billionaire conservative businessmen Charles and David Koch admitted to improperly failing to disclose more than $15 million in contributions it funneled into state referendum battles in California. The group, the Arizona-based Center to Protect Patient Rights, is one of the largest political nonprofits in the country, serving as a conduit for tens of millions of dollars in political spending, much of it raised by the Kochs and their political operation and spent by other nonprofits active in the 2010 and 2012 elections. The settlement, announced by Attorney General Kamala D. Harris of California and the Fair Political Practices Commission, which enforce California’s campaign finance laws, includes one of the largest penalties ever assessed on a political group for failing to disclose donations. The center and another Arizona group involved in the transactions, Americans for Responsible Leadership, will pay a $1 million fine, while two California groups must turn over $15 million in contributions they received. Together, the groups are part of an intricate, interlocking network of political nonprofits that have taken on a prominent role in state and national politics in recent years, bolstered by legal and regulatory shifts, including the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision in 2010. Records and documents uncovered during the California investigation provide a rare glimpse into how such groups closely coordinate transfers of money that mask the sources of the contributions and skirt state and federal disclosure rules. “This case highlights the nationwide scourge of dark money nonprofit networks hiding the identities of their contributors,” Ann Ravel, the commission’s chairwoman, said in a statement.
Note: For more on electoral corruption, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.
Azerbaijan's big presidential election ... was anticipated to be neither free nor fair. President Ilham Aliyev, who took over from his father 10 years ago, has stepped up intimidation of activists and journalists. Rights groups are complaining about free speech restrictions and one-sided state media coverage. The BBC's headline for its story on the election reads "The Pre-Determined President." So expectations were pretty low. [But] it was a bit awkward when Azerbaijan's election authorities released vote results – a full day before voting had even started. The vote counts ... were pushed out on an official smartphone app run by the Central Election Commission. It showed Aliyev as "winning" with 72.76 percent of the vote. That's on track with his official vote counts in previous elections: 76.84 percent of the vote in 2003 and 87 percent in 2008. In second place was opposition candidate Jamil Hasanli with 7.4 percent of the vote. The data were quickly recalled. The official story is that the app's developer had mistakenly sent out the 2008 election results as part of a test. But that's a bit flimsy, given that the released totals show the candidates from this week, not from 2008. As of this writing, Azerbaijan's election authorities say they've counted 80 percent of the ballots, with Aliyev winning just under 85 percent of the vote so far. He's been officially reelected.
Note: And for any who think elections manipulation only happens in smaller, corrupt countries, see undeniable evidence of major manipulation of elections in the U.S. and elsewhere at this link. For more on electoral corruption, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.
So you think the American electoral system is broken? New research out of MIT lays bare just how bad it really is. Here are the five most outrageous facts from "Waiting to Vote," a forthcoming paper by Charles Stewart III for the Journal of Law and Politics, on long lines in the 2012 election. 1. African-American voters wait in line nearly twice as long as white voters. "Viewed nationally, African-Americans waited an average of 23 minutes to vote, compared to 12 minutes for whites." 2. Hispanic voters wait in line one-and-a-half times as long as white voters. "Hispanics waited 19 minutes" – again, compared to a 12-minute wait for whites. 3. Democrats wait in line 45 percent longer than ... Republicans. "Strong Democrats waited an average of 16 minutes, compared to an average of 11 minutes for strong Republicans." 4. Voting in Florida remains a [disgrace] – even compared to other big states. "Waiting times varied tremendously across the states in 2012, ranging from less than two minutes in Vermont to 39 minutes in Florida. 5. The federal Election Assistance Commission is on its last legs. It is supposed to have four commissioners. It currently has four vacancies."It is for answering questions such as this – how to shorten lines in urban areas and a few states where they exist statewide – that the Election Assistance Commission was created. Unfortunately, the EAC has become a 'zombie commission,' without commissioners and therefore without a clear agenda."
Note: For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on electoral fraud, click here.
Declassified tapes of President Lyndon Johnson's telephone calls provide a fresh insight into his world. Among the revelations - he caught Richard Nixon sabotaging the Vietnam peace talks... but said nothing. By the time of the election in November 1968, LBJ had evidence Nixon had sabotaged the Vietnam war peace talks - or, as he put it, that Nixon was guilty of treason and had "blood on his hands". Now, for the first time, the whole story can be told. It begins in the summer of 1968. Nixon feared a breakthrough at the Paris Peace talks designed to find a negotiated settlement to the Vietnam war, and he knew this would derail his campaign. He therefore set up a clandestine back-channel involving Anna Chennault, a senior campaign adviser. At a July meeting in Nixon's New York apartment, the South Vietnamese ambassador was told Chennault represented Nixon and spoke for the campaign. If any message needed to be passed to the South Vietnamese president, Nguyen Van Thieu, it would come via Chennault. In late October 1968 there were major concessions from Hanoi which promised to allow meaningful talks to get underway in Paris - concessions that would justify Johnson calling for a complete bombing halt of North Vietnam. This was exactly what Nixon feared. Chennault was despatched to the South Vietnamese embassy with a clear message: the South Vietnamese government should withdraw from the talks, refuse to deal with Johnson, and if Nixon was elected, they would get a much better deal. So on the eve of his planned announcement of a halt to the bombing, Johnson learned the South Vietnamese were pulling out.
Note: For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on government corruption, click here.
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.
The flaws in the American election system are deep and widespread, extending beyond isolated voting issues in a few locations and flaring up in states rich and poor, according to a major new study from the Pew Charitable Trusts. The group ranked all 50 states based on more than 15 criteria, including wait times, lost votes and problems with absentee and provisional ballots, and the order often confounds the conventional wisdom. In 2010, for instance, Mississippi ranked last over all. But it was preceded by two surprises: New York and California. “Poor Southern states perform well, and they perform badly,” said Heather K. Gerken, a law professor at Yale and a Pew adviser. “Rich New England states perform well and badly — mostly badly.” A main goal of the exercise, which grew out of Professor’s Gerken’s 2009 book, The Democracy Index, was to shame poor performers into doing better, she said. Some states ... lost very few votes because of shortcomings in voting technology and voter confusion, with the best 10 reporting failure rates of 0.5 percent or less in 2008. In West Virginia, by contrast, the rate was 3.2 percent. The Pew study focused on the 2008 and 2010 elections, the most recent ones for which comprehensive data were available. The study also found wide variation in how easy registering to vote can be. North Dakota does not even require it, and Alabama and Kansas reported rejecting less than 0.05 percent of registration applications in 2008. But Pennsylvania and Indiana each rejected more than half of the registration applications they received in 2010.
Note: For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on major inadequacies in US electoral procedures, click here.
In his bid to become Secretary of Defense, former Sen. Chuck Hagel has come under fire from both the left and right for his comments on Iraq, Israel and gays. His membership on the board of one of America's largest oil companies, however, has caused barely a stir. Since 2010, Hagel has served on the board of Chevron Corp., a position he would have to leave if he wins Senate confirmation as defense secretary. He received $301,199 in compensation from the San Ramon company in 2011, including $184,000 in stock. Chevron is a major federal contractor, with more than $501 million in sales to the U.S. government in the last fiscal year. But critics of the "revolving door" between the federal government and the private sector haven't raised any complaints about Hagel. That's largely due to the nature of Chevron's federal contracts. Almost all the money Chevron made from the U.S. government in fiscal year 2012 came from selling fuel to the Pentagon, according to a government website that tracks federal spending. Chevron, the nation's second-largest oil company, has a history of politically connected board members. Condoleezza Rice served on the company's board before becoming national security adviser for President George W. Bush. The practice of former federal officials landing jobs with government contractors - and vice versa - has long angered many government watchdogs. They were appalled when Obama, early in his first term, nominated a lobbyist for the Raytheon Corp. to serve as deputy secretary of defense.
Note: US Defense Secretary nominee Chuck Hagel has also been implicated in serious elections manipulations by none other than the New York Times. For more, see this link.
Charlie Matulka, who lost to Senator Chuck Hagel of Nebraska [in 2002], does not trust the results in his election. Most of the votes were cast on paper ballots that were scanned into computerized vote-counting machines, which happen to have been manufactured by a company Mr. Hagel used to run. Mr. Matulka, suspicious of Senator Hagel's ties to the voting machine company, demanded a hand recount of the paper ballots. Nebraska law did not allow it, he was informed. In his primary race in 1996, Mr. Hagel, who had lived in Virginia for 20 years, beat the state attorney general by nearly two to one. In the general election, he defeated the governor, who had been elected two years earlier in a landslide. In 2002, against Mr. Matulka, he won more than 80 percent of the vote. What gets conspiracy theorists excited is not just Mr. Hagel's prodigious wins, but his job before jumping into the 1996 race: heading American Information Systems, the manufacturer of the machines that count 85 percent of Nebraska's votes. Rob Behler ... who helped prepare Georgia's machines for the 2002 election, says secret computer codes were installed late in the process. Votes ''could have been manipulated,'' he says, and the election thrown. Among the growing ranks of electronic-voting skeptics ... Mr. Hagel's wins in 1996 and 2002 have taken on mythic status. The problem is, there is no way to prove the right man was elected. A healthy democracy must avoid even the appearance of corruption. [The] Nebraska elections fail this test.
After working a 10-hour shift on Election Day, painter Richard Jordan headed to his east Orange County polling place at about 4:30 p.m. Based on more than a decade of voting, he expected to be in and out in minutes. Three hours later, Jordan's back ached, he was hungry, thirsty — and nowhere near a voting booth. So he left. As it turned out, his Goldenrod Road precinct didn't close until 11 p.m. Like Jordan, as many as 49,000 people across Central Florida were discouraged from voting because of long lines on Election Day, according to a researcher at Ohio State University who analyzed election data compiled by the Orlando Sentinel. About 30,000 of those discouraged voters — most of them in Orange and Osceola counties — likely would have backed Democratic President Barack Obama, according to Theodore Allen, an associate professor of industrial engineering at OSU. Allen's first analysis of the impact of long lines at the polls was done in 2004, when he estimated that more than 20,000 voters in Franklin County, Ohio, where Ohio State is located, were discouraged from casting ballots in the razor-close contest between President George W. Bush and Democrat John Kerry. His review indicated that for every additional hour that a precinct stayed open past 7 p.m. — a good indicator of line length throughout the day — turnout dropped by as much as 4.8 percent. The precincts with the longest lines, he found, had some of the lowest turnouts.
Note: For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on major problems with the US electoral system, click here.
A new Florida law that contributed to long voter lines and caused some to abandon voting altogether was intentionally designed by Florida GOP staff and consultants to inhibit Democratic voters, former GOP officials and current GOP consultants have told The Palm Beach Post. Republican leaders said in proposing the law that it was meant to save money and fight voter fraud. But a former GOP chairman and former Gov. Charlie Crist, both of whom have been ousted from the party, now say that fraud concerns were advanced only as subterfuge for the law's main purpose: GOP victory. Former Republican Party of Florida Chairman Jim Greer says he attended various meetings, beginning in 2009, at which party staffers and consultants pushed for reductions in early voting days and hours. "The Republican Party, the strategists, the consultants, they firmly believe that early voting is bad for Republican Party candidates," Greer told The Post. "It's done for one reason and one reason only. ... 'We've got to cut down on early voting because early voting is not good for us,"' Greer said he was told by those staffers and consultants. "They never came in to see me and tell me we had a (voter) fraud issue," Greer said. "It's all a marketing ploy." Greer's statements about the motivations for the party's legislative efforts, implemented by a GOP-majority House and Senate in Tallahassee in 2011, are backed by Crist — also now on the outs with the party — and two veteran GOP campaign consultants.
Note: For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on corruption of the US electoral system, click here.
At around 11:25 pm EST on election night, Karl Rove knew something had gone terribly wrong. Minutes earlier, Fox News called the key battleground state of Ohio for President Obama, sealing his re-election. But as the network took live shots of jubilant Obama supporters camped outside the Obama re-election headquarters in Chicago celebrating their victory, Karl Rove began building a case against the call his employer network had just made. Rove explained that when Fox called Ohio, only 74% of the vote was in, showing President Obama with a lead of roughly 30,000 votes. But, as Rove contended, with 77% reporting according to the Ohio Secretary of State office, the President’s lead had been slashed to just 991 votes. “We gotta be careful about calling the thing,” Rove said. Rove was supremely confident that the numbers coming in from Ohio throughout the night that favored President Obama weren’t indicative of who would win Ohio when all the votes were ultimately tabulated by the state's computers. With a quarter of the vote still out there, Rove was anticipating a shift to the Right just after 11 pm, which, coincidentally, is exactly what happened in 2004. So the question is: on election night this year, when Karl Rove was protesting the call his network had just made in Ohio, was Rove anticipating a wave of unpredicted vote totals to swing the election back to Mitt Romney after a statewide server crash, just as had happened in 2004? Just two days after Election Day ... Anonymous released a press statement claiming it did indeed prevent an attempt by Rove to steal the election for Mitt Romney.
Note: We don't normally use Truthout as a source, but as no major media sources covered this most important news, we've included it here. We have independent, reliable sources confirming that it is very likely that Rove tried to swing this election, as he did in 2004, but was stymied by an anonymous group. For another inspiring article describing how Karl Rove may have been stopped from manipulating the US elections, click here. And for a well researched articled suggesting that it was not Anonymous who stopped Karl Rove, but another group called "the protectors," click here.
Computer problems, as well as human ones, have drawn complaints across the US as millions of Americans go to the polls. One Pennsylvania voter highlighted a problem with voting machines on YouTube, complete with video, in which a touchscreen changed his choice from President Barack Obama to Republican Mitt Romney. "I initially selected Obama but Romney was highlighted," the man wrote. "I assumed it was being picky so I deselected Romney and tried Obama again, this time more carefully, and still got Romney." This was not the first allegation of foul-ups with electronic machines. In Ohio, some Republicans claimed machines were changing Romney votes to Obama, while Democrats accused Republican state officials of installing untested "experimental" software at the last minute. In Florida, The Tampa Bay Times reported that hundreds of voters received automated "robo-calls" telling them the election was on Wednesday. An official told the paper a glitch in the phone system allowed the calls to go through early on Tuesday, telling voters the election was "tomorrow". A similar glitch was reported in the US capital Washington. The Arizona Republic reported that robo-calls directed voters to the wrong polling stations, and that Democrats claimed it was an intentional effort by Republicans to misdirect people amid a tight Senate race.
Note: For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on elections corruption, click here.
Karl Rove and his investors were the biggest losers on Election Day. The Republican strategist created the model for outside money groups that raised and spent more than $1 billion on the Nov. 6 elections -- many of which saw almost no return for their money. Rove, through his two political outfits, American Crossroads and Crossroads Grassroots Policy Strategies, backed unsuccessful Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney with $127 million on more than 82,000 television spots. Down the ballot, 10 of the 12 Senate candidates and four of the nine House candidates the Rove groups supported also lost their races. The Election Day results showed Rove’s strategy of bringing in huge donations from a few wealthy benefactors and spending that money almost completely on television advertising failed. The Center for Responsive Politics estimates the two Crossroads groups spent about $176 million, making them the top non-candidate and non-party spender of the election. Rove has bragged of raising more than $300 million for his groups. American Crossroads, a super-political action committee, discloses its contributors and spending to the Federal Election Commission. Its affiliate, Crossroads GPS, is organized as a nonprofit social-welfare group that conceals its donors and reports only a fraction of its political activities. The return on investment for American Crossroads donors was 1 percent, according to an analysis by the Sunlight Foundation, a Washington-based group that advocates for open government.
Note: This article fails to mention Rove's highly disturbing involvement in clandestine manipulation of the vote count, which has been documented by excellent researchers such as Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman. For more on this most important news that never got reported in the major media, click here and here. And for an excellent, incisive essay showing how the elections integrity movement helped to protect the recent U.S. elections, click here.
Ending some but not all of the mystery behind an anonymous $11 million donation, an Arizona group revealed under court order ... that the money it pumped into California's ballot wars was funneled through two groups -- one tied to David and Charles Koch, the billionaire brothers who have played a huge role in spreading anonymous political cash around the country. The two conservative groups, Americans for Job Security and the Center to Protect Patient Rights, are part of a tangled web of so-called dark donors who operate largely out of public view, shielded by their status as nonprofit advocacy groups that are supposedly not involved primarily in politics. While the groups have been identified, however, individual donors who have bankrolled them remain a mystery. "This isn't going to stop here," said Ann Ravel, chairwoman of the Fair Political Practices Commission, the state's political watchdog. "They admitted to money laundering." The FPPC determined that the Arizona group, Americans for Responsible Leadership, had violated California campaign law. Money laundering -- sending money through multiple sources to conceal the original donor -- is a misdemeanor. But a conspiracy to commit money laundering is a felony. The donation, the largest anonymous contribution to a ballot measure campaign in California history, was made to the Small Business Action Committee, a conservative PAC running a campaign for Proposition 32, the measure that would curb labor's ability to collect political cash, and against Proposition 30, Gov. Jerry Brown's tax-hike initiative.
Note: For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on elections corruption, click here.
The secret vote was, in its time, a great idea. Before the secret ballot was popularized, it was standard practice to intimidate and threaten voters. But few know that America hasn't always had secret ballots. Indeed, the secret ballot didn't even originate in the US – the system we use is known, actually, as the "Australian ballot". The majority of US states did not move to that system – in which publicly-provided, printed ballots with the names of the candidates are marked in secret – until after 1884. By now, reams of solid reporting have documented the aberrations, high jinks, missing hard drives, voting machines that weirdly revert to one candidate, voting machines owned by friends of the candidate of one party, and other aspects of systematic corruption that attend America's voting. Solid reporting on the war on voting, and on the corruption of the voting infrastructure, continues to mount. It is crazy to ask Americans to have pure faith that the system is incorruptible, and to ask them to just drop their votes into a black hole and trust in the Lord – or Diebold. Here is my modest proposal: let us end the secret ballot, because we have reached a point, with the internet, in which transparency and accountability is more important than absolute secrecy. The votes get tallied and posted – with their corresponding numbers – online on a public site, and major media reproduce the lists. And I can check my number (unidentifiable to anyone else) to check whether my vote was correctly registered. This would allow, in one sweep, all citizens to watch the watchers.
Note: For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on elections corruption, click here.
Although a ballot initiative to label foods containing genetically modified organisms failed in California, the organizers behind the measure say their movement is better organized and larger than ever before. Supporters of California’s Proposition 37 are not giving up the fight after Tuesday’s rejection. In fact, they’re saying that the organizing around the initiative helped forge a diffuse group of individuals interested in healthy food into a powerful, organized movement. “The Organic Consumers Association is a million strong," said Ronnie Cummins, the founder and director of that group said. "We have 5 million people on our email list and we’re looking forward to continuing this battle.” While the initiative won urban coastal counties such as Los Angeles and San Francisco, it lost in the state’s central valleys. “We just didn't have the funds to compete on the air” in those regions, said Stacy Malkan, media director at California Right to Know. “Many of those voters were getting their news from TV and we couldn't compete with them.” Companies like Monsanto, DuPont, and Pepsi poured nearly $50 million dollars into opposing the measure—about seven times what its supporters were able to raise—and spent most of the money on television and radio ads. Throughout the campaign, the truthfulness of advertisements opposing the measure came into question. At one point, the No on 37 campaign ran an ad that identified Henry I. Miller, an opponent of the measure, as a professor at Stanford University. The campaign was forced to pull the ad after Stanford announced that Dr. Miller was not a professor there.
Note: Though polls have shown 90% of Americans want their food labeled if it contains GMOs, huge spending by big industry managed to defeat this California proposition by a narrow margin. Sometimes money does have a hugely disproportionate role in politics. For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on elections corruption, click here.
The moneymen behind the outfit spending the most on the Medicare attack ads ... will not show their faces. The money is being spent through a Washington-based group, Americans for Tax Reform (ATR), that calls itself a “social welfare” nonprofit, so it does not need to reveal its donors to the public. This sort of thing has been happening a lot this year in House and Senate races around the country. Candidates have found their modest war chests, filled with checks for $2,500 or less, swamped by outside groups, which have no limits on the donations they can collect. In all, more than $800 million was spent through mid-October on election ads by outside groups, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Of that total, nearly 1 in 4 dollars is so-called dark money, meaning the identities of the donors remain a secret. Voters watching TV, listening to the radio or receiving direct-mail appeals know only the names of the front organizations that bought the ads. In the past two years, American politics has been transformed by a surge in spending. One fact tells the story: explicit political-ad spending by outside groups in 2012 is on track to double the combined total spent by outside groups in each of the four elections since 2002. Ads purchased with untraceable money tend to be among the most vicious. Nearly 9 in 10 dark-money spots are negative, and an analysis by the Annenberg Public Policy Center found that 26% of the ads are deceptive. Almost all of it — 83%, according to one review — has been directed against Democrats.
Note: For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on the corruption of the US electoral system, click here.
It's a revolting spectacle: the two presidential candidates engaged in a frantic and demeaning scramble for money. By 6 November, Barack Obama and Mitt Romney will each have raised more than $1bn. Other groups have already spent a further billion. Every election costs more than the one before; every election, as a result, drags the United States deeper into cronyism and corruption. Is it conceivable, for instance, that Romney, whose top five donors are all Wall Street banks, would put the financial sector back in its cage? Or that Obama, who has received $700,000 from both Microsoft and Google, would challenge their monopolistic powers? Or, in the Senate, that the leading climate change denier James Inhofe, whose biggest donors are fossil fuel companies, could change his views, even when confronted by an overwhelming weight of evidence? The US feeding frenzy shows how the safeguards and structures of a nominal democracy can remain in place while the system they define mutates into plutocracy. Despite perpetual attempts to reform it, US campaign finance is now more corrupt and corrupting than it has been for decades. It is hard to see how it can be redeemed. If the corporate cronies and billionaires' bootlickers who currently hold office were to vote to change the system, they'd commit political suicide. We should see this system as a ghastly warning of what happens if a nation fails to purge the big money from politics.
Note: For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on the corruption of the US electoral system, click here.
The [electronic voting] machines used in Hamilton County, Ohio — the county home of Cincinnati — are supplied by Hart Intercivic, a national provider of voting systems in use in a wide variety of counties scattered throughout the states of Texas, Oklahoma, Hawaii, Colorado and Ohio. A test conducted in 2007 by the Ohio Secretary of State revealed that five of the electronic voting systems the state was looking to use in the upcoming 2008 presidential election had failed badly, each easily susceptible to chicanery that could alter the results of an election. As reported in the New York Times, “At polling stations, teams working on the study were able to pick locks to access memory cards and use hand-held devices to plug false vote counts into machines. At boards of election, they were able to introduce malignant software into servers.” It turns out that Hart Intercivic is owned, in large part, by H.I.G. Capital — a large investment fund with billions of dollars under management — that was founded by a fellow named Tony Tamer. H.I.G. employees hold at least two of the five Hart Intercivic board seats. Tony Tamer, H.I.G.’s founder, turns out to be a major bundler for the Mitt Romney campaign, along with three other directors of H.I.G. who are also big-time money raisers for Romney. Two of those directors — Douglas Berman and Brian Schwartz — were actually in attendance at the now infamous “47 percent” fundraiser in Boca Raton, Florida. Two members of the Hart Intercivic board of directors, Neil Tuch and Jeff Bohl, have made direct contributions to the Romney campaign.
Note: The author of this article was attacked by National Review Online for this piece. To see his rebuttal, click here. To sign a petition to launch an investigation on this critical matter, click here. For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on serious problems with the US elections system, click here.
Rapid advances in the development of cyberweapons and malicious software mean that electronic-voting machines used in the 2012 election could be hacked, potentially tipping the presidential election or a number of other races. [A University of Pennsylvania] study concluded "virtually every important software security mechanism is vulnerable." Most at risk are paperless e-voting machines, which don’t print out any record of votes. Four swing states – Pennsylvania, Virginia, Colorado, and Florida – rely to varying degrees on paperless machines. Alex Halderman, a researcher at the University of Michigan, and a colleague at Princeton University hacked into a paperless touch-screen voting machine in 2010 and installed the video game Pac-Man. Similarly, he and Princeton researchers in 2006 demonstrated that if someone could get a few minutes’ unattended access to a paperless machine, that person could install a software virus that could spread to other machines and switch those machines’ votes before deleting all traces of itself. Among the 23 states that use touch-screen Direct-Recording Electronic (DREs) machines ... only California, Indiana, and Ohio were rated excellent in a national report this summer by Verified Voting. For a savvy hacker, the time and access needed to infect a machine is so small that it could be done while in a voting booth. A hacker could in theory use the Internet to target an e-voting machine company, which would then unknowingly infect its own machines when it serviced them. It's impossible to know if newer machines and software are really secure because their source code is largely unavailable for analysis. Voting-equipment makers frequently say their software is a trade secret.
Note: For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on serious problems with the US elections system, click here.
[The] liberal political magazine In These Times obtained and published a packet of voting information sent to 45,000 employees of Koch Industries paper subsidiary Georgia-Pacific. The materials include a list of Koch-endorsed candidates — those who “have received support from a Koch company or Koch PAC”, the company’s political action committee. For Oregon staffers, that list is comprised solely of Republicans: 14 of them at state level, plus the Romney/Ryan presidential ticket. Koch Industries’ Koch PAC has indeed supported Democrats this election, but only to the tune of $23,500, backing four Democrats in Congressional races. By contrast, Koch PAC has spent $1.162 million on Republican candidates for the House, plus another $152,000 on GOP Senate hopefuls. FEC disclosures show that the Koch Industries group donated $25,000 to the the official Romney/Ryan fundraising committee in August, as well as $30,000 each to the National Republican Congressional Committee, National Republican Senatorial Committee and Republican National Committee. In fact, Koch PAC’s giving has become increasingly partisan over the years. The group’s donations to Democratic candidates make up 1.7% of their federal expenditure so far this election cycle, versus just over 15% in 2008 and just under 22% in 2004.
Note: For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on electoral corruption, click here.
A television spot opposing Proposition 37, the genetically engineered food labeling initiative, was pulled briefly this week to better identify a think-tank researcher attacking the ballot issue. The controversy came as the opponents of the ballot measure, with $35 million in contributions from the food industry and biochemical firms, expanded a week-old television advertising blitz. [The] No on 37 spot ... featured an academic, identified on screen as “Dr. Henry I. Miller M.D., Stanford University, founding dir. FDA Office of Technology.” He is standing in an ornately vaulted campus walkway. Lawyers for the Proposition 37 campaign complained to Stanford’s general counsel, noting that the Stanford ID on the screen appeared to violate the university’s policy against use of the Stanford name by consultants. What’s more, Miller is not a Stanford professor but, rather, a research fellow at the Hoover Institution, a conservative think tank housed on the Stanford campus, the letter said. Stanford agreed. The university, spokeswoman Lisa Lapin said, “doesn’t take any positions on candidates or ballot measures, and we do not allow political filming on campus.” The filmmakers also are removing “the campus from the background of the video," she said. Stanford’s request to edit the Miller video "is proof positive of the lack of credibility and lack of integrity of the No on 37 campaign,” said Yes on 37 spokeswoman Stacy Malkan.
Note: This Henry Miller is the same scientist who, according to Forbes, stated that some people could benefit from the low levels of radiation released by the Fukushima meltdowns, and has argued strongly for the reintroduction of DDT. Do you think he might be a little biased towards big business? For lots more questionable behavior by this supposed expert, click here.
Breaking from two decades of tradition, this year’s election exit poll is set to include surveys of voters in 31 states, not all 50 as it has for the past five presidential elections, according to multiple people involved in the planning. The decision by the National Election Pool — a joint venture of the major television networks and The Associated Press — is sure to cause some pain to election watchers across the country. Voters in the excluded states will still be interviewed as part of a national exit poll, but state-level estimates of the partisan, age or racial makeups of electorates won’t be available as they have been since 1992. The lack of data may hamper election night analyses in some states, and it will almost certainly limit post-election research for years to come. Here is a list of the states that will be excluded from coverage: Alaska, Arkansas, Delaware, District of Columbia, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Kentucky, Louisiana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, West Virginia and Wyoming.
Note: How sad that the one poll considered to be the most reliable is being cancelled in 19 states. This opens the door wide to elections manipulation. For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on the flawed electoral system in the US, click here.
The new stealth campaign against three Florida Supreme Court justices is being backed by those meddling right-wing billionaires from Wichita, Charles and David Koch. Last week they uncorked the first of a series of commercials from their political action committee, Americans for Prosperity. The targets are Justices R. Fred Lewis, Barbara Pariente and Peggy Quince. They were three of the five-vote majority that in 2010 knocked down a half-baked amendment slapped together by state lawmakers seeking to nullify the federal Affordable Health Care Act. The Florida Supreme Court upheld lower court decisions in finding that the proposed amendment contained “misleading and ambiguous language,” the hallmark of practically everything produced by this Legislature. On the November ballot, Lewis, Pariente and Quince are up for merit retention, meaning voters can choose to retain them or not. This simple system was put in place to keep the state’s high court above the sleaze of political races. The mission of the Kochs, hiding as always behind their super PAC, is to get the three justices dumped at the polls so that Gov. Rick Scott can appoint replacements. The last thing these guys want is fair judges who know the law; they want partisan judges who’ll obediently support their political agenda. It’s worse than just trying to buy an election. It’s trying to hijack Florida’s justice system at the highest levels.
Note: For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on the control of elections by corporations and rich individuals, click here.
A former judge has been sentenced to more than 26 years in federal prison for his role in a conspiracy to gain power and control politics in an eastern Kentucky county. U.S. District Judge Danny Reeves said 67-year-old former Clay County Circuit Judge R. Cletus Maricle headed the conspiracy and therefore got the longest sentence so far. Maricle and seven others were convicted in March 2010 of multiple charges, including racketeering, money laundering and voter fraud. Prosecutors say more than 8,000 people were paid $50 each for their votes in one election and 150 votes were stolen by changing voting machines.
Note: For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on electoral fraud, click here.
Voter fraud has a shocking new meaning in eastern Kentucky [where] major cocaine and marijuana dealers admitted to buying votes to steal elections. "We believe that drug money did buy votes," Kerry B. Harvey, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Kentucky, said. He described a stunning vote-buying scheme that includes "very extensive, organized criminal activity, involving hundreds of thousands of dollars, and in many cases that involves drug money." He says the problem is rooted in economic woes, which is why votes are routinely for sale. In that part of the state, jobs are scarce and poverty is high. Controlling local government means controlling jobs. â€śThese folks go out and hijack the local elections for their own purposes and then they use those jobs to enrich themselves and their confederates. It really is a terrible problem and it has to be stopped,â€ť Harvey explains. In Clay County, according to court testimony, some of the funds to purchase votes came from massive cocaine and marijuana drug trafficking operations. â€I always bought votes,â€ť Kenneth Day testified. The 60-year-old was serving 18 years in federal prison for multimillion-dollar drug trafficking. Prosecutors say he dealt in "millions of dollars in drugs, marijuana, cocaine, and methamphetamineâ€ť and â€śhad developed one of the most successful drug trafficking businesses in the whole entire region.â€ť He also dealt in votes. Day was not only an admitted drug trafficker, but he also had served as the longtime Clay County Republican commissioner of the Board of Elections.
Note: For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on serious problems with the US elections process, click here.
Nate Silver, one of the nation's pre-eminent poll interpreters, voiced the exasperation of many when he tweeted: "The. Polls. Have. Stopped. Making. Any. Sense." At this time of year, the difference between poll results can be explained by everything from who is being surveyed (are they "likely" voters or just "registered") to how many cell phone users (who are generally younger and from more diverse backgrounds) are contacted to how the questions are worded. And while top pollsters try to adhere to common standards and best practices, there is a lot of room for interpretation in the way each constructs their universe of respondents. Pollsters have realized that the days of interviewing voters purely via landline telephones are long gone. The future, like many industries, is heading online and onto mobile devices. For now, the most daunting question involves how to integrate cell phone users. At least 25 percent of Americans use only cell phones. But it is illegal to place robocalls to cell phones. So pollsters who conduct surveys using automated telephone dialing must use a human dialer to conduct live interviews with cell phone respondents. Why make such an effort? Because experts say cell phone users are not only demographically different from landline-only users, but they also tend to have different attitudes. And within another decade, a majority of the U.S. population could be using only cell phones.
Note: For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on serious problems with the US elections process, click here.
Former President Jimmy Carter issued a blistering indictment of the U.S. electoral process ..., saying it is shot through with "financial corruption" that threatens American democracy. Carter said "we have one of the worst election processes in the world right in the United States of America, and it's almost entirely because of the excessive influx of money." The 39th president lamented a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision that allows unlimited contributions to third-party groups that don't have to disclose their donors. The dynamic is fed, Carter said, by an income tax code that exacerbates the gap between the wealthiest Americans and the rest of the electorate, allowing the rich even greater influence over public discourse and electioneering. He added that he hopes the "Supreme Court will reverse that stupid ruling," referring to the case known as Citizens United. He said the United States should return to publicly financed elections for president. The system technically is still in place, but it is voluntary and both President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney have chosen to bypass the taxpayer money because they can amass far more on their own. "You know how much I raised to run against Gerald Ford? Zero," Carter said, referring to his 1976 general election opponent. "You know how much I raised to run against Ronald Reagan? Zero. You know how much will be raised this year by all presidential, Senate and House campaigns? $6 billion. That's 6,000 millions."
Note: For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on our dysfunctional electoral system, 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.
For all the superheated rhetoric of yet another election cycle, it's as clear as ever that the Republican and Democratic parties in Washington pretty much support the same economic policies. Indeed, any honest perusal of congressional votes proves that the party establishments are roughly the same when it comes to financial deregulation (less of it), job-killing free trade (more of it), bailouts (more of them) and corporate taxes (less of them). Politicians and partisan media outlets deny this obvious reality, of course. But they do so because they have a vested interest in the red-versus-blue "polarization" narrative from which they generate campaign contributions and ratings, respectively. It's also why more Americans are tuning out of politics. Pretending this is some big divide is a farce. Both parties are proposing to enrich the already rich while hiding the two-headed monster behind a mask of conflict.
Note: For a powerful essay revealing the deeper agenda behind largely fabricated polarizations, click here.
Nearly 70 percent of voters think super PACs should be outlawed, and more than half “strongly” do. We can hardly believe that the billionaire brothers David and Charles Koch will spend more this year than John McCain’s entire presidential campaign raised in 2008. We can’t stand the constant flood of negative ads on every channel or the ominous anonymity of the interests behind them. The Roberts Court sees all this and refuses to acknowledge that it “give[s] rise to corruption or the appearance of corruption.” Fortunately, if on the question of campaign finance the Supreme Court is immune to the court of public opinion, progressives are fighting through other avenues to transform today’s corrupt system into one that is fair, transparent and participatory. In [the] state of New York, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has launched a path-breaking investigation of tax-exempt groups that might be fraudulently funneling funds into politics, including a “charitable foundation” affiliated with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Meanwhile, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is partnering with Protect Our Democracy ... to apply the same successful, grass-roots pressure they used in getting same-sex marriage passed to our campaign finance system. They have joined with citizen activists who are looking to New York City’s successful, multiple-match public financing system. A Brennan Center for Justice study showed that this system promoted diversity among candidates and donors and reduced the influence of corporate money.
Note: For key reports from major media sources on problems with US elections, click here.
President Barack Obama's campaign has recruited a legion of lawyers to be on standby for this year's election as legal disputes surrounding the voting process escalate. Thousands of attorneys and support staffers have agreed to aid in the effort, providing a mass of legal support that appears to be unrivaled by Republicans or precedent. Obama's campaign says it is particularly concerned about the implementation of new voter ID laws across the country, the possibility of anti-fraud activists challenging legitimate voters and the handling of voter registrations in the most competitive states. Republicans are building their own legal teams for the election. They say they're focused on preventing fraud -- making sure people don't vote unless they're eligible -- rather than turning away qualified voters. Since the disputed 2000 presidential election, both parties have increasingly concentrated on building legal teams -- including high-priced lawyers who are well-known in political circles -- for the Election Day run-up. The Bush-Gore election demonstrated to both sides the importance of every vote and the fact that the rules for voting and counting might actually determine the outcome. The Florida count in 2000 was decided by just 537 votes and ultimately landed in the Supreme Court.
Note: For key reports from major media sources on serious dysfunctions in the US elections process, click here.
Few states in the union have done more in recent years to restrict and suppress voting — particularly by groups who lean Democratic, such as young people, the poor and minorities — than Florida. In May 2011, the state’s Republican-led Legislature passed and the Republican governor, Rick Scott, signed a sweeping election law that cut early voting short and imposed onerous burdens on voter registration groups by requiring them to turn in registration applications within 48 hours of the time they are signed or face fines. The threat of fines has meant that many groups that traditionally registered voters in the state have abandoned the effort, and it appears to be contributing to fewer new registrations. According to a March analysis of registration data by The Times, “in the months since its new law took effect in May, 81,471 fewer Floridians have registered to vote than during the same period before the 2008 presidential election.” Recently, the state announced that it would begin another round of voter purging to ensure that no ineligible voters were mistakenly on the voter rolls. As the New York University School of Law’s Brennan Center for Justice pointed out last week: “In 2000, Florida’s efforts to purge persons with criminal convictions from the rolls led to, by conservative estimates, close to 12,000 eligible voters being removed” from the rolls. As most of us remember, George W. Bush beat Al Gore in the state of Florida that year, after the recounts and the Supreme Court stepped in, by 537 votes.
Note: For key reports from major media sources on serious problems within the US electoral process, click here.
With Ron Paul forces at the reins, the Maine Republican Convention elected nearly all of the slate supporting the Texas congressman at the GOP national convention during a chaotic, two-day state convention that ended Sunday. In a series of votes highlighting the deep division within the state GOP, at least 21 of 24 delegates from Maine going to the GOP nominating convention in Tampa, Fla., will support Paul, and not the presumptive nominee, Mitt Romney. In addition, Paul supporters captured most of the seats on the state Republican committee, party officials said, making their takeover virtually complete. Paul supporters, who took over the convention Saturday after electing a convention chairman, say Maine would become the sixth state to elect a majority of Paul backers to the national convention, assuring the libertarian-leaning congressman a prime-time podium at the Tampa gathering. Paul finished a close second behind Romney in Maine's GOP caucuses in February but those results were nonbinding. The announcement of Maine's at-large delegates came in the wake of charges and counter-charges of ballot tampering and other indiscretions leading to the election of a Paul slate and the mainstream faction's efforts to block it. The state convention was one of the best attended, with nearly 2,800 delegates, party leaders said.
The surprising retirement of moderate Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe of Maine moves congressional centrists a step closer to extinction and highlights the great paradox of American politics. Even with her party standing a good chance to regain the Senate majority, Snowe wanted no more of the endless gridlock that has rendered Congress barely able to carry out the most basic functions, such as keeping the federal government’s doors open. She expressed frustration “that an atmosphere of polarization and ‘my way or the highway’ ideologies has become pervasive in campaigns and in our governing institutions.” Snowe is one of the few remaining moderate Republicans, a group that once dominated the Northeast and vied for control of the national GOP under leaders such as Nelson Rockefeller. She was instrumental in forcing President George W. Bush to limit the size of his 2001 tax cut. She was one of three Senate Republicans who backed President Barack Obama’s 2009 stimulus plan. “She just quit in disgust,” even though she easily could have won a fourth term this fall, said Matt Bennett of the centrist-Democratic group Third Way. By some measures, Snowe is the Senate’s most liberal Republican and Ben Nelson of Nebraska is its most conservative Democrat. Both are retiring this year, raising serious possibilities they will be replaced by less moderate members of the opposite party, further widening the chamber’s partisan divide.
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney is back on track after winning the Maine caucuses. What the headlines haven't told you is that what happened in Maine is the messiest caucus Republicans have had so far, and it may not be over yet. Maine is not a major state during national primaries. Only 24 delegates come out of Maine to the national convention. But what happened there over the weekend does more than raise eyebrows. It is enough to make you question, was the caucus fixed? Saturday night, February 11, the head of the Maine GOP, Charlie Webster, announced that Governor Mitt Romney won the Maine caucus by a slim margin. Official totals read Romney barely winning the caucus by less than 200 votes. The only problem, the governor was declared the winner with only 84 percent of precincts counted. Two counties, Washington County and Hancock County had not yet held their caucuses. In Hancock, County Republicans had decided to hold their caucus this Saturday on February 18. In Washington County, the state GOP canceled the caucus because of snow concerns. Turns out, the area only got a light dusting. The big problem here, Mr. Webster says even when those caucuses are held this Saturday, the votes won't count. And that is just the beginning of the problems in Maine.
Note: For a great series of diagrams showing the strong links and revolving door between US Government and big business, click here.
What if Democrats and Republicans were two wings of the same bird of prey? What if elections were actually useful tools of social control? What if they just provided the populace with meaningless participation in a process that validates an establishment that never meaningfully changes? What if that establishment doesn’t want and doesn’t have the consent of the governed? What if the two-party system were actually a mechanism used to limit so-called public opinion? What if there were more than two sides to every issue, but the two parties wanted to box you in to one of their corners? What if there’s no such thing as public opinion, because every thinking person has opinions that are uniquely his own? What if public opinion were just a manufactured narrative that makes it easier to convince people that if their views are different, there’s something wrong with that – or something wrong with them? What if the whole purpose of the Democratic and Republican parties was not to expand voters’ choices, but to limit them? What if the widely perceived differences between the two parties were just an illusion? What if the heart of government policy remains the same, no matter who’s in the White House? What if the heart of government policy remains the same, no matter what the people want? What if both parties just want power and are willing to have young people fight meaningless wars to enhance that power?
Note: The speaker on this Fox news clip, Andrew P. Napolitano, is a former judge of the Superior Court of New Jersey. His most recent book is It Is Dangerous to Be Right When the Government Is Wrong: The Case for Personal Freedom.
The truly decisive element [in Republican presidential debates] has been ... money. Lots of it. This is not new. But since a 2010 supreme court ruling allowing unlimited campaign contributions by corporations and unions, it has become particularly acute. Moreover, the contributors can remain anonymous. The organisations that are taking advantage of this new law are known as Super Pacs. In 2008 election spending doubled compared with 2004. This year industry analysts believe the money spent just on television ads is set to leap by almost 80% compared with four years ago. Money in American politics was already an elephant in the room. Now the supreme court has given it a laxative, taken away the shovel, and asked us to ignore both the sight and the stench. This is not a partisan point. Almost two-thirds of Americans believe the government should limit individual contributions – with a majority among Republicans, Democrats and independents. The trend towards oligarchy in the polity is already clear. There are 250 millionaires in Congress. As a whole, the polity's median net worth is $891,506, nine times the typical US household. The influence of money at this level corrupts an entire political culture and in no small part explains the depth of cynicism, alienation and mistrust Americans now have for their politicians.
Note: For lots more from reliable sources on the control of the US electoral system by corporate money, click here.
The 2012 campaign will be dominated by wealthy corporations, unions and individuals who can anonymously spend as much as they want in favor of a candidate - thanks to how the Supreme Court decided the Citizens United case two years ago today. The decision gave birth to a new type of political action committee, the super PAC. Analysts [say the ruling] is enabling wealthy interests to be able to shape the political system like never before. The millions of dollars spent fueling this winter's bloodbath of attack ads in the Republican presidential primary is probably just a sneak preview of a stream of ham-fisted political advertising expected this year - all the way down to congressional races. Through organizations with names like Winning Our Future, wealthy interests can furtively fund the type of nasty TV ads that torpedoed then-surging Newt Gingrich before the Iowa caucuses and later carpet-bombed South Carolinians with commercials calling Mitt Romney a job-killing "corporate raider" when he led the Bain Capital private equity firm. At the same time, presidential aspirants can claim that they had nothing to do with the attacks because the presidential campaigns can't legally communicate with the super PACs doing the dirty work. Still, the super PACs in favor of Gingrich and Romney are run by the candidates' former top associates, political pros familiar with their thinking and strategy.
Note: For lots more from reliable, verifiable sources on the serious flaws in the US electoral process, click here.
The Montana Supreme Court issued a stunning ruling Dec. 30 that rejected arguments that the U.S. Supreme Court's landmark ruling in Citizens United vs. FEC applied to Montana's century-old ban on corporate election spending. The 5-2 ruling overturned a lower court and reinstated Montana's Corrupt Practices Act, a citizen initiative passed to confront some of the most overt corporate corruption in American history. Citizens United struck down a federal law that prohibited corporations from directly spending company funds to advocate for or against political candidates. Justice Kennedy's majority opinion in Citizens United ... asserted that "independent expenditures, including those made by corporations, do not give rise to corruption or the appearance of corruption." That astounding claim promptly birthed super PACs, which can accept unlimited donations to support their favored candidate and attack his or her opponents. By the time the public knows the people or corporations behind the super PAC attacks, four primaries will be complete and the winner may be apparent. The Montana ruling is cause for celebration, but its value can only be realized if other states and courts follow. An appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court is likely and, without far more visible public advocacy for the democratic republic promised by our Constitution, the Roberts court is unlikely to veer from its agenda of steadily enlarging corporate privilege.
Note: For illuminating analyses from reliable sources of the threats to democracy from corporate money in the US elections, click here.
The Montana Supreme Court restored the state’s century-old ban on direct spending by corporations on political candidates or committees in a ruling ... that interest groups say bucks a high-profile U.S. Supreme Court decision granting political speech rights to corporations. The corporation that brought the case, and is also fighting accusations that it illegally gathers anonymous donations to fuel political attacks, said the state Supreme Court got it wrong. The lawsuit was prompted by the U.S. Supreme Court Citizens United decision from last year granting political speech rights to corporations. A lower court then ruled the state ban was unconstitutional in the wake of the high court’s decision. But the Montana Supreme Court on Friday reversed the lower state court’s analysis and application of the Citizen United case. The Montana Supreme Court said Montana has a “compelling interest” to uphold its rationally tailored campaign finance laws that include a combination of restrictions and disclosure requirements. A group seeking to undo the Citizen United decision lauded the Montana high court, with its co-founder saying it was a “huge victory for democracy.” “With this ruling, the Montana Supreme Court now sets up the first test case for the U.S. Supreme Court to revisit its Citizens United decision, a decision which poses a direct and serious threat to our democracy,” John Bonifaz, of Free Speech For People, said in a statement.
Note: For revealing reports from major media sources on corporate influence on the electoral process, click here.
More than 2.5 million voters have left the Democratic and Republican parties since the 2008 elections, while the number of independent voters continues to grow. A USA TODAY analysis of state voter registration statistics shows registered Democrats declined in 25 of the 28 states that register voters by party. Republicans dipped in 21 states, while independents increased in 18 states. The trend is acute in states that are key to next year's presidential race. In the eight swing states that register voters by party, Democrats' registration is down by 800,000 and Republicans' by 350,000. Independents have gained 325,000. Registered Democrats still dominate the political playing field with more than 42 million voters, compared to 30 million Republicans and 24 million independents.
Researchers from the Argonne National Laboratory in Illinois have developed a hack that, for about $26 and an 8th-grade science education, can remotely manipulate the electronic voting machines used by millions of voters all across the U.S. The researchers ... performed their proof-of-concept hack on a Diebold Accuvote TS electronic voting machine, a type of touchscreen Direct Recording Electronic (DRE) voting system that is widely used for government elections. Diebold's voting-machine business is now owned by the Denver-based Dominion Voting Systems, whose e-voting machines are used in about 22 states. Roger Johnston and Jon Warner from Argonne National Laboratory's Vulnerability Assessment Team demonstrate three different ways an attacker could tamper with, and remotely take full control, of the e-voting machine simply by attaching what they call a piece of "alien electronics" into the machine's circuit board. The electronic hacking tool consists of a $1.29 microprocessor and a circuit board that costs about $8. Together with the $15 remote control, which enabled the researchers to modify votes from up to a half-mile away, the whole hack runs about $26.
Ignored by the media and dismissed by the Republican Party in general, liberty-minded Congressman Ron Paul leaped into third place today in the Gallup Presidential Nomination preference poll. Paul jumped over Michele Bachmann, relegating her to fourth-place in the current poll. Apparently the American people are starting to take notice, too. According to the most recent Rasmussen survey of likely voters, Ron Paul is a mere one point behind President Obama in a head-to-head matchup - a better result than any of the other GOP contenders received. This is despite the media blackout around Ron Paul's campaign, and despite the media's insistence that Ron Paul can't beat Obama. This poll suggests he can.
Note: We have seen a consistent and systematic campaign to block news reportage of candidates who are exposing the deeper political agenda like Congress members Ron Paul and Dennis Kucinich. For how the media is controlled to make this happen, click here.
President Obama is proposing an executive order to require federal contractors to disclose their political spending, and Congress is hopping mad. Twenty-one Republicans (including House Majority Leader Eric Cantor) sent Obama a letter calling the proposed order "a blatant attempt to intimidate." The anger is bipartisan: The second-ranking House Democrat, Steny Hoyer, has come out against it, too. Meanwhile, business groups are firing up their lobbying machines: The American League of Lobbyists, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Business Roundtable all have condemned the order and launched a concerted attempt to prevent Obama from signing it. The voices on the other side are considerably less powerful: ethics groups, watchdogs and the general public. The order is clearly an attempt to roll back some of the damage from the Supreme Court's decision in the Citizens United case, which allowed corporations and unions to make direct political expenditures without disclosure. The order is a small step toward correcting the outsized influence that wealthy individuals and corporations now have on our political process. That's why it's important for Obama to sign the order. And that's why it's meeting with such stiff opposition. For the sake of the public, the president must make political contributions more transparent.
Note: For an excellent two-page summary of major problems with the electoral system in the US, click here.
A conservative incumbent surged to a commanding lead in Wisconsin’s hotly contested Supreme Court election [on April 7], after a predominantly GOP county’s clerk announced she had incorrectly entered vote totals in the race seen as a referendum on Republican Gov. Scott Walker’s divisive union rights law. Waukesha County Clerk Kathy Nickolaus said more than 14,000 votes weren’t reported to The Associated Press on [April 5, election day] due to “human error.’’ Nickolaus previously worked for a GOP caucus that was under the control of Justice David Prosser, who was speaker of the Assembly at the time and who now stands to benefit from the clerk’s error. Before the announcement, it was assumed 68-year-old conservative Prosser’s race against liberal assistant state attorney general JoAnne Kloppenburg was headed for a recount. But Waukesha County’s corrected totals gave Prosser a 7,500-vote lead, which is likely to stand. Opponents of the law that takes away nearly all public employee collective bargaining rights had hoped a Kloppenburg victory would set the stage for the high court to strike it down. Rep. Peter Barca, Democratic Assembly minority leader, said the mistake raises significant suspicion that could warrant an investigation. “It doesn’t instill confidence in her competence or integrity,’’ Barca said.
Note: This article states, "a clerk discovered 14,000 unrecorded votes." Why didn't this make huge headlines? Why didn't AP and other news agencies point out how easily corrupted the US election system is? How can votes just be "discovered"? For lots more on severe corruption in the elections system, click here.
The newly created independent political groups known as super PACs, which raised and spent millions of dollars on last month's elections, drew much of their funding from private-equity partners and others in the financial industry, according to new financial disclosure reports. The 72 super PACs, all formed this year, together spent $83.7 million on the election. The figures provide the best indication yet of the impact of recent Supreme Court decisions that opened the door for wealthy individuals and corporations to give unlimited contributions. The financial disclosure reports also underscore the extent to which the flow of corporate money will be tied to political goals. Private-equity partners and hedge fund managers, for example, have a substantial stake in several issues before Congress, primarily the taxes they pay on their earnings. "Super PACs provide a means for the super wealthy to have even more influence and an even greater voice in the political process," said Meredith McGehee, a lobbyist for the Campaign Legal Center, which advocates for tighter regulation of money in politics.
Note: For key reports on growing threats to the US electoral process, click here.
It's a perfect storm. I'm talking about the dangers facing our democracy. First, income in America is now more concentrated in fewer hands than it has been in 80 years. Almost a quarter of total income generated in the United States is going to the top 1 percent of Americans. The top one-tenth of 1 percent of Americans now earn as much as the bottom 120 million of us. Who are these people? They're top executives of big corporations and Wall Street, hedge-fund managers and private equity managers. Hundreds of millions of dollars are pouring into advertisements for and against candidates - without a trace of where the dollars are coming from. They're laundered through a handful of groups. Most Americans are in trouble. Their jobs, incomes, savings and even homes are on the line. They need a government that's working for them, not for the privileged and the powerful. Yet their state and local taxes are rising. And their services are being cut. There's no jobs bill to speak of. Washington says nothing can be done. There's no money left. No money? The marginal income tax rate on the very rich is the lowest it has been in more than 80 years. Under President Dwight Eisenhower ... it was 91 percent. Now it's 36 percent. We're losing our democracy to a different system. It's called plutocracy.
Note: Whether you are on the left or right of the political spectrum, this incisive article by former US Sect. of Labor Robert Reich is well worth reading in its entirety. For more in income inequality, click here.
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.
Note: For many revealing major media reports on the corruptibility of electronic voting systems, click here.
This week, I was hacking my way through the Florida swampland known as the Office of Secretary of State Katherine Harris and found a couple thousand more names of voters electronically 'disappeared' from the vote rolls. About half of those named are African-Americans. They had the right to vote, but they never made it to the balloting booths. When we left off our Florida story two weeks ago, The Observer discovered that Harris's office had ordered the elimination of 8,000 Florida voters on the grounds that they had committed felonies in other states. None had. Harris bought the bum list from a company called ChoicePoint, a firm whose Atlanta executive suite and boardroom are filled with Republican funders. ChoicePoint, we have learned, picked up the list of faux felons from state officials in ... Texas. In fact, it was a roster of people who, like their Governor, George W, had committed nothing more than misdemeanours. Most of those targeted to have their names 'scrubbed' from the voter roles were African-Americans, Hispanics and poor white folk, likely voters for Vice-President Gore. Add it up. The dead-wrong Texas list, the uncorrected 'corrected' list, plus the out-of-state ex-con list. It's enough to swing a presidential election.
Note: The entire article at the above link is highly recommended. It provides virtual proof of criminal fraud that would have changed the results of the U.S. 2000 presidential election. For lots more on blatant deception in the decisive Florida count in this election, click here.
The Supreme Court has handed lobbyists a new weapon. A lobbyist can now tell any elected official: if you vote wrong, my company ... will spend unlimited sums explicitly advertising against your re-election. “We have got a million we can spend advertising for you or against you — whichever one you want,’ ”a lobbyist can tell lawmakers, said Lawrence M. Noble, ... former general counsel of the Federal Election Commission. It is expected to unleash a torrent of attack advertisements from outside groups aiming to sway voters, without any candidate having to take the criticism for dirty campaigning. The biggest beneficiaries might be well-placed incumbents whose favor companies and interests groups are eager to court. It could also have a big impact on state and local governments, where a few million dollars can have more influence on elections. Fred Wertheimer, a longtime advocate of campaign finance laws, said the decision “wipes out a hundred years of history” during which American laws have sought to tamp down corporate power to influence elections.
Note: If you want to voice your opinion about this recent Supreme Court ruling, click here. For many key articles from reliable sources on serious flaws in the electoral process in the US, click here.
With a single, disastrous 5-to-4 ruling, the Supreme Court has thrust politics back to the robber-baron era of the 19th century. Disingenuously waving the flag of the First Amendment, the court’s conservative majority has paved the way for corporations to use their vast treasuries to overwhelm elections and intimidate elected officials into doing their bidding. Congress must act immediately to limit the damage of this radical decision, which strikes at the heart of democracy. As a result of Thursday’s ruling, corporations have been unleashed from the longstanding ban against their spending directly on political campaigns and will be free to spend as much money as they want to elect and defeat candidates. The ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission radically reverses well-established law and erodes a wall that has stood for a century between corporations and electoral politics. The founders of this nation warned about the dangers of corporate influence. The real solution lies in getting the court’s ruling overturned.
Note: The crux of the argument used by the Supreme Court is that under US law, corporations are treated as persons and therefore given Constitutional rights meant for people. Should we then give them the right to vote? For many key articles from reliable sources on serious flaws in the electoral process in the US, click here.
Diebold Inc. has sold its money-losing U.S. election-systems business, just seven years after acquiring it amid hopes of rising demand for voting technology upgrades in the wake of the 2000 presidential election fiasco. Diebold [said] it sold the voting-machine unit to privately held Election Systems & Software Inc. for $5 million, about one-fifth of what it paid in 2002. "There were assumptions we made in that space that didn't materialize," Diebold spokesman Mike Jacobsen said. Diebold, which was the industry's biggest maker of electronic voting machines heading into the 2004 presidential election, was in the spotlight as concerns increased about the reliability and security of the electronic systems. Diebold also suffered from a perception problem when the company's then-Chief Executive Walden O'Dell very publicly supported and fundraised for President George W. Bush in his re-election campaign.
Note: This article fails to mention that the merger of Diebold and ES&S creates a major monopoly on US voting machines in the hands of companies owned by staunch conservatives. For more vital information on this and the suspicious death of the principal witness related to Karl Rove in an key Ohio elections case, click here.
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.
Note: For key articles from reliable sources exposing the many flaws in electronic voting systems, click here.
Five Clay County [Kentucky] officials, including the circuit court judge, the county clerk, and election officers were arrested Thursday after they were indicted on federal charges accusing them of using corrupt tactics to obtain political power and personal gain. The 10-count indictment, unsealed Thursday, accused the defendants of a conspiracy from March 2002 until November 2006 that violated the Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO). The defendants were also indicted for extortion, mail fraud, obstruction of justice, conspiracy to injure voters' rights and conspiracy to commit voter fraud. According to the indictment, these alleged criminal actions affected the outcome of federal, local, and state primary and general elections in 2002, 2004, and 2006. Clay County Circuit Court Judge Russell Cletus Maricle, 65, and school superintendent Douglas C. Adams, 57, allegedly used their status in the county to influence the appointment of corrupt members to the Clay County Board of Election Officials. [They also] caused election officers to commit acts of extortion, mail fraud, and bribery. Clay County Clerk, Freddy Thompson, 45, allegedly provided money to election officers to be distributed by the officers to buy votes. He also instructed officers how to change votes at the voting machine. Paul E. Bishop, 60, ... hosted alleged meetings at his home where money was pooled together by candidates and distributed to election officers, including himself. He was also accused of instructing the officers how to change votes at the voting machine. The investigation preceding the indictment was conducted by the FBI, Kentucky State Police, and Appalachia
Note: For some strange reason, the article is no longer available at the link above. To read it on an MSNBC affiliate website, click here. The media have almost always proclaimed that voting machine tampering has never been proven to affect election outcome. This article demonstrates that not only does it happen, but it may be much more prevalent than most would think. For more on this indictment, click here. For more reliable information on widespread election fraud, click here.
Mystery surrounds the death of a Republican pollster, recently compelled to give evidence about alleged election fraud in the 2004 election in Ohio, after he was killed in a plane crash. Top internet strategist Michael Connell, 45, was the only person in his single-engine private plane that crashed three miles short of the Akron-Canton airport on Friday night as he prepared to land. He had worked on Mr Bush's two presidential campaigns, advised John McCain this year and was also linked to allegedly missing White House emails in the 2006 controversy over a string of firings of US attorneys. The death of the married father of four immediately triggered conspiracy theories amid speculation that he had been about to reveal embarrassing details of the complicity of senior members of the Bush administration in fixing an election and destroying incriminating emails. In a blog posting entitled "One of my sources died in a plane crash last night...", Larisa Alexandrovna of The Raw Story revealed that Mr Connell had been talking to her about the Ohio case alleging that vote-tampering during the 2004 presidential election resulted in civil rights violations. "Mike was getting ready to talk. He was frightened... I am not saying that this was a hit nor am I resigned to this being simply an accident either. I am no expert on aviation and cannot provide an opinion on the matter. What I am saying, however, is that given the context, this event needs to be examined carefully."
Important Note: This death becomes even stranger considering that attorneys had sought protection for Connell against threats from Karl Rove in late July (click here). He also was apparently warned not to fly.
Voting rolls, which are maintained by local election officials, are one of the weakest links in American democracy and problems are growing. 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. 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. 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. 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.
Note: A recent report in Rolling Stone by Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and Greg Palast details many of these tactics to eliminate voters from the rolls. To watch a related video by Greg Palast click here. For many disturbing reports from major media sources on threats to free and fair elections in the US, click here. And for a powerful, five-minute video showing both the ways your vote can disappear and what you can do about it, click here.
In the 13 years David Moore worked for the Gallup Poll, he learned that media polls are not used to uncover the “will” or thoughts of the public, but rather to manufacture a “public opinion” that grabs the attention of journalists and can be used to fill media news holes. [Moore] draws on first-hand experience as well as the history of modern media polling practices – focusing particularly on the four most influential polls: New York Times/CBS News, Washington Post/ABC News, Pew Research, and USA Today/Gallup – to reveal the inner-workings of pollsters and the cycle of bias that tends to promote the powerful and suppress dissent in his new book The Opinion Makers: An Insider Exposes the Truth Behind the Polls. Analyzing pollsters’ problematic methodology ... Moore reveals how polls distort voters’ election preferences as well as the public’s support for or opposition to government policies. The net result, he says, is that polls give false readings of which candidates voters prefer and what the public wants, which ultimately determines the democratic process. In his new book, Moore shows how polls create a “legitimacy spin cycle.” Those in power frame an issue to favor their position, while the press limits its coverage of sources that might disagree with the administration. Pollsters, in turn, develop surveys to dovetail with the news stories and the people – many of whom have little idea of what is happening beyond the limited information presented to them by the news media – are pressured into answering questions that reinforce the original position of those in power.
Note: For lots more on the many threats to free and fair elections in the United States, click here.
Disclosure of an election computer glitch that could drop ballot totals for entire precincts is stirring new worries that an unofficial laboratory testing system failed for years to detect an array of flaws in $1.5 billion worth of voting equipment sold nationwide since 2003. Texas-based Premier Elections Solutions [formerly Diebold Inc.] last week alerted at least 1,750 jurisdictions across the country that special precautions are needed to address the problem in tabulation software affecting all 19 of its models dating back a decade. Voting experts reacted skeptically to the company's assertion that election workers' routine crosschecks of ballot totals would have spotted any instances where its servers failed to register some precinct vote totals when receiving data from multiple memory cards. Like nearly all of the nation's modern voting equipment, Premier's products were declared "qualified" under a voluntary testing process overseen from the mid 1990s until 2005 by the National Association of State Election Directors. Computer scientists, some state officials and election watchdog groups allege that the NASED-sponsored testing system was a recipe for disaster, shrouded in secrecy, and allowing equipment makers to help design the tests. As a result, charged Susan Greenhalgh, a spokeswoman for watchdog group Voter Action, the systems on which Americans will decide the race between Barack Obama and John McCain in November are "scandalously flawed"' and "the integrity of this election is in question."
Note: Why isn't this important news being picked up by other major media?
Were software patches that didn't fix problems but instead changed results applied to electronic voting machines in two Georgia counties? Were the patches applied at the instruction of a top Diebold executive, without informing local election officials? This charge has been leveled several times since a rather surprising election in which two Democratic candidates had comfortable leads in polls just before Election Day yet lost by substantial margins. Of course, there's a strong correlation between your degree of suspicion of those results and which party you support. But we should all be frightened if there's no way to prove that tampering didn't occur. And when voting machines are electronic, paperless and proprietary, it's all but impossible to do a recount or check for errors in a way that can uncover a malicious hack. Election consultant Chris Hood told Rolling Stone magazine that he was working for Diebold in Georgia in 2002 when the head of the company's election division arrived to distribute a patch to workers. That code was applied to only about 5,000 machines in two counties. Hood says it was an unauthorized patch that was kept hidden from state officials. The Georgia allegations are disturbing but, sadly, not unique. An attorney and IT security consultant last month cited that incident to renew challenges to 2004 Ohio elections, which had a similar mix of paperless Diebold machines and statistically curious results.
Note: For many more reports of the risks associated with electronic voting systems, click here.
Like many people, Alan Dechert was outraged when the 2000 presidential election was thrown to the Supreme Court because nobody could figure out how Florida's voters had voted. An engineer who has designed and tested software for a living, he thinks the outcomes of elections should never be in doubt. So Dechert and a couple of colleagues founded the Open Voting Consortium, a nonprofit group dedicated to delivering "trustable and open voting systems." In addition to lobbying against proprietary voting machines, they have spent the last several years working with scientists and engineers around the world to design and build a voting machine of their own. On Tuesday their machine will be put to the test at LinuxWorld in San Francisco, where the 10,000 people who are expected to attend the conference will get to vote in a mock presidential election pitting Barack Obama against John McCain. "The voting system in the U.S. is still not sufficiently accurate to determine the winner in a very close election," said Dechert, who has worked at Borland International and Intel developing and testing software. "By the time we're done (with the mock election), nobody will have any doubt." The code that runs this voting machine is based on the work of a former [U.C.] Berkeley student, Ka-Ping Yee, who now works at Google. At a price of about $400, the new voting machine is a tenth of the cost of proprietary machines ... because it's simply designed and based on free software. Its workings are transparent, he said, unlike some of the electronic voting machines that California decertified for security problems.
Note: How could the U.S. government allow private companies to develop machines with secret codes the government can't access in the first place? For a summary of the many problems with proprietary electronic voting machines, click here.
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.
Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama, who are running for president as economic populists, are benefiting handsomely from Wall Street donations, easily surpassing Republican John McCain in campaign contributions from the troubled financial services sector. It is part of a broader fundraising shift toward Democrats, compared to past campaigns when Republicans were the favorites of Wall Street. The flow of campaign cash is a measure of how open-fisted banks and other financial institutions have been to politicians of both parties. Concern is rising that "no matter who the Democratic nominee is and who wins in November, Wall Street will have a friend in the White House," said Massie Ritsch of the nonprofit Center for Responsive Politics, which tracks campaign donations. "The door will be open to these big banks." Sen. Clinton of New York is leading the way, bringing in at least $6.29 million from the securities and investment industry, compared with $6.03 million for Sen. Obama of Illinois and $2.59 million for McCain. Those figures include donations from the investment companies' employees and political action committees. The candidates' receipts reflect a broader trend that demonstrates how money follows power in Washington. It suggests that the nation's money managers are betting heavily that either Clinton or Obama will capture the White House and that Democrats will retain control of Congress. "What that Wall Street money means is that few people in Washington, including the leading presidential candidates, say a thing when the government moves to bail out Wall Street before it helps homeowners," said David Sirota, a liberal activist and former congressional aide.
Note: For more insight into the relationship between big finance and big government, click here.
The US, EU and other democracies are accepting flawed and unfair elections out of political expediency, Human Rights Watch says in its annual report. Allowing autocrats to pose as democrats without demanding they uphold civil and political rights risked undermining human rights worldwide, it warned. HRW said Pakistan, Thailand, Bahrain, Jordan, Nigeria, Kenya and Russia had been falsely claiming to be democratic. In the report, HRW said established democracies such as the US and members of the European Union were increasingly tolerating autocrats "claiming the mantle of democracy". "In 2007 too many governments ... acted as if simply holding a vote is enough to prove a nation 'democratic', and Washington, Brussels and European capitals played along. The Bush administration has spoken of its commitment to democracy abroad but often kept silent about the need for all governments to respect human rights." HRW Executive Director Kenneth Roth said it had become too easy for autocrats to get away with mounting a sham democracy "because too many Western governments insist on elections and leave it at that. They don't press governments on the key human rights issues that make democracy function - a free press, peaceful assembly, and a functioning civil society that can really challenge power. It seems Washington and European governments will accept even the most dubious election so long as the 'victor' is a strategic or commercial ally," Mr Roth said.
The Nevada Supreme Court's ruling allowing a cable network to exclude Rep. Dennis Kucinich from a Democratic presidential debate was barely a blip on the media radar screen. But in the long term, the court decision might prove to be [very] significant. It constituted the strongest judicial statement yet of news organizations' near-absolute power to control participation in pre-election forums. Kucinich, the Ohio congressman who polls in the low single digits but has a fervent following among his party's anti-war base, [charged] that the cable channel had promised to let him in when he met its standards, then abruptly changed those standards to keep him out. MSNBC said initially that the debate was open to Democrats who placed in the top four in a national poll. It invited Kucinich on Jan. 9 after a Gallup Poll a few days earlier ranked him fourth. But two days later, after New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson dropped out of the race, the channel narrowed its criteria to the top three candidates and withdrew Kucinich's invitation. The day before the debate, a Nevada judge ordered MSNBC to let Kucinich participate, saying the cable operator had entered into a binding contract that it couldn't rescind once the candidate accepted. The state's high court quickly granted review and, an hour before the debate, ruled 7-0 in the cable channel's favor. The bottom line: Debates, the public's sole opportunity to see competing candidates in a neutral setting, are the prerogative of the sponsoring organizations - typically, these days, the news media - which set the criteria and have free rein to alter them.
Note: For a summary of reliable reports on major problems with the electoral process, click here.
Well, new questions tonight about the electronic voting machines that will be used in the upcoming South Carolina primary. Those voting machines do not have a paper trail, and as Kitty Pilgrim now reports, that could leave this election vulnerable to fraud and a possibility of recounting. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) KITTY PILGRIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Election activists warn the 11,400 ES&S voting machines used in the [South Carolina] primaries could malfunction. And without a paper trail, will not be able to be accurately recounted. This as New Hampshire begins recounting its results today. New Hampshire's recount [is] made possible by their paper trail. South Carolina's state attorney general defends its paperless system saying in the event of a botched election, "Our grand jury would investigate and we would prosecute any election fraud that goes on." But fraud isn't the only concern. HOLLY JACOBSON, VOTERACTION.ORG: It's not just that these systems can be tampered with, but also that the systems have been seemingly designed poorly, and they fail on Election Day. Fraud or intent for fraud aside, these systems just don't seem to work well. And that, we know. PILGRIM: In Sarasota County, Florida, in 2006, the congressional race tallied an alarmingly high number of missing votes, 18,000. In 2007, security concerns led Ohio to decommission a similar model to those that will be used in South Carolina. The South Carolina League of Women's Voters released a report this week, "This system has not been designed with security as a basic requirement and it should not be used for voting in South Carolina."(END VIDEOTAPE)
Note: For a summary of reliable reports on major problems with the new electronic voting machines, click here.
For days, poll after poll showed Illinois Sen. Barack Obama opening a big lead heading into the New Hampshire Democratic primary. But when the votes were counted, New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton won. Even she seemed surprised. Were the polls all wrong? Did the pollsters misjudge how many women would vote? Did voters lie when pollsters called? Regardless of the answers, many analysts urged a post-mortem to figure out what the heck happened in New Hampshire. "It is simply unprecedented for so many polls to have been so wrong," said Gary Langer, the polling director for ABC News, in a memo posted at his Web site. "We need to know why." Pollsters accurately predicted John McCain's comeback win in the GOP race. They nailed John Edwards' third-place finish among Democrats. But at least a dozen polls had the senator from Illinois defeating Clinton, almost all showing Obama gaining and opening a lead on Clinton. One survey for C-SPAN and Reuters showed Obama up 42-29 percent over Clinton. Six public polls for news media and universities showed him with an average lead of 8.3 percentage points. None showed Clinton close, let alone ahead. Yet she beat Obama by 39-36 percent. So what happened? A number of bloggers Wednesday cited the "wildly inaccurate" polls as evidence that the vote was rigged. "Other folks that I've spoken to ... share my concern at this hour," wrote blogger Brad Friedman, a Los Angeles-based election-fraud watchdog, on bradblog.com. Bloggers across the nation keyed into the fact that 81 percent of New Hampshire votes were being counted on machines that an HBO documentary alleged are easily hacked.
Note: The Los Angeles Times exit poll showed Obama with 44% and Clinton with 35%. Many experts claim that polls can not be off that much. A Washington Post blog mentions the interesting fact "Vote tallies from the New Hampshire Secretary of State show that she won by 4.23 percentage points in the counties using Diebold optical scanners, but lost by 5.81 points in those where paper ballots are counted by hand." For lots more on voting manipulation, click here. The HBO documentary available here is also highly revealing.
Democrat Dennis Kucinich, who won less than 2 percent of the vote in the New Hampshire primary, said Thursday he wants a recount to ensure that all ballots in his party's contest were counted. The Ohio congressman cited "serious and credible reports, allegations and rumors" about the integrity of Tuesday results. In a letter dated Thursday, Kucinich said he does not expect significant changes in his vote total, but wants assurance that "100 percent of the voters had 100 percent of their votes counted." Kucinich alluded to online reports alleging disparities around the state between hand-counted ballots, which tended to favor Sen. Barack Obama, and machine-counted ones that tended to favor Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton. He also noted the difference between pre-election polls, which indicated Obama would win, and Clinton's triumph by a 39 percent to 37 percent margin. [Deputy Secretary of State David] Scanlon said his office had received several phone calls since Tuesday, mostly from outside the state, questioning the results. New Hampshire's voting machines are not linked in any way, which Scanlon says reduces the likelihood of tampering with results on a statewide level. Also, the results can be checked against paper ballots. "I think people from out of state don't completely understand how our process works and they compare it to the system that might exist in Florida or Ohio, where they have had serious problems," he said. "Perhaps the best thing that could happen for us is to have a recount to show the people that ... the votes that were cast on election day were accurately reflected in the results."
Note: Except for this sparsely reported AP story, why didn't any media articles raise the question of voting machine manipulation? The SF Chronicle pointed out, "Pollster Mervin Field, a dean of American polling who has been measuring public opinion for more than six decades, notes that seven public and two private polls all reported on ... the day before the election that Obama was ahead of Clinton anywhere from 9 to 11 points." MSNBC's Chris Matthews stated: "Even our own exit polls, taken as people came out of voting, showed [Obama] ahead. So what's going on here?" For lots more on voting manipulation, click here.
In the last three election cycles, touch-screen machines have become one of the most mysterious and divisive elements in modern electoral politics. In hundreds of instances ... they [have failed] unpredictably, and in extremely strange ways; voters report that their choices “flip” from one candidate to another before their eyes; machines crash or begin to count backward; votes simply vanish. Most famously, in the November 2006 Congressional election in Sarasota, Fla., touch-screen machines recorded an 18,000-person “undervote” for a race decided by fewer than 400 votes. The earliest critiques of digital voting booths came from the fringe — disgruntled citizens and ... computer geeks — but the fears have now risen to the highest levels of government. One by one, states are renouncing the use of touch-screen voting machines. California and Florida decided to get rid of their electronic voting machines last spring, and last month, Colorado decertified about half of its touch-screen devices. Also last month, Jennifer Brunner, the Ohio secretary of state, released a report in the wake of the Cuyahoga crashes arguing that touch-screens “may jeopardize the integrity of the voting process.” She was so worried she is now forcing Cuyahoga to scrap its touch-screen machines and go back to paper-based voting — before the Ohio primary, scheduled for March 4. Michael Shamos, a computer scientist at Carnegie Mellon University who has examined voting-machine systems for more than 25 years, estimates that about 10 percent of the touch-screen machines “fail” in each election.
Note: 10% of the machines fail, yet many still believe the results from previous elections were accurate. For many revealing reports on the serious problems with electronic voting machines, click here.
On the day she died, Benazir Bhutto planned to hand over to visiting U.S. lawmakers a report accusing Pakistan's intelligence services of a plot to rig parliamentary elections, sources close to the slain former Pakistani prime minister told CNN Tuesday. Bhutto was assassinated Thursday, hours before a scheduled meeting with Rep. Patrick Kennedy, D-Rhode Island, and Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pennsylvania. "Where an opposing candidate is strong in an area, they [supporters of President Pervez Musharraf] have planned to create a conflict at the polling station, even killing people if necessary, to stop polls at least three to four hours," the document says. The report also accused the government of planning to tamper with ballots and voter lists, intimidate opposition candidates and misuse U.S.-made equipment to monitor communications of opponents. One Bhutto source said the document was compiled at her request and said the information came from sources inside the police and intelligence services. Sen. Latif Khosa ... accused the powerful Inter-Services Intelligence of operating a rigging cell from a safe house in the capital, Islamabad. The goal, he said, is to change voting results electronically on election day. "The ISI has set up a mega-computer system where they can hack any computer in Pakistan and connect with the Election Commission," he said. Media outlets in Pakistan, India and Bangladesh have run reports alleging that retired Brig. Gen. Ejaz Shah -- formerly an Inter-Services Intelligence officer and now head of the civilian Intelligence Bureau -- is involved in the vote rigging plans. Shah's name also turned up in a letter Bhutto wrote to Musharraf after the first attempt on her life on October 18, when she returned to Pakistan after eight years in exile. In the letter, the media reported, Shah was one of four Pakistani officials Bhutto named as people who wanted her dead.
Note: It is an extremely odd "coincidence" that Benazir Bhutto was planning to meet Senator Arlen Specter later in the day on which she was assassinated in Rawalpindi, headquarters of the Pakistani military dictatorship. Specter was the inventor of the official "magic bullet" theory of the John F. Kennedy assassination, which purported to explain the physical evidence of several bullets from different directions in the bodies of Kennedy and Texas Governor John Connally as having been caused by just one bullet from the rifle of Lee Harvey Oswald.
An audit of last November’s general election in the Cleveland area has found that hundreds of votes were lost, that others were recorded twice and that software used to count the ballots was vulnerable to data problems. In a state that was pivotal to President Bush’s election and re-election, Cuyahoga County, which includes Cleveland, has seen more than its share of recent election troubles. Lines at polls there were hours long in the 2004 general election. And in the primaries last May, the county’s first experience with electronic voting, poll workers were absent or poorly trained, computer cards on which votes had been recorded were lost, and one polling place opened hours late. The audit found that some batches of ballots registered in optical scan machines had been scanned twice, producing a double count of those ballots. Other ballots were deleted because of flawed data and, owing to human error, were not rescanned, the committee found. The optical scan and touch-screen machines used in the county were made by Diebold Election Systems Inc. The audit committee said Microsoft’s JET file-sharing database system, which Diebold used, was known to have previously had problems that could result in corruption of the database. The audit committee was allowed only a limited review of the data collected by Diebold. The panel tried to gain access to the raw data, but Diebold claimed that the information was proprietary. Barbara Simons, a ... past president of the Association for Computing Machinery, said: “There is no excuse for Diebold’s having used such an insecure and unreliable database. There were far more reliable databases available over 20 years ago.” The committee called for extensive changes to ensure the integrity of future elections, among them streamlining the process by eliminating either optical scanner or touch-screen machines.
Note: For major media stories revealing the critical state of the US electoral system, click here.
California Secretary of State Debra Bowen sued a Nebraska voting machine company on Monday, seeking fines and reimbursements of nearly $15 million from the firm for allegedly selling nearly 1,000 uncertified machines to San Francisco and ... Solano, Marin, Merced and Colusa counties. Bowen learned of the possible violation last July and ordered an investigation. "ES&S ignored the law over and over and over again, and it got caught," Bowen said in a statement after filing suit against the company. "I am not going to stand on the sidelines and watch a voting system vendor come into the state, ignore the laws and make millions of dollars from California's taxpayers in the process." Bowen's decision could be a windfall for the affected counties. In the suit, the secretary of state is seeking a $10,000 penalty for each of the uncertified machines sold in the state, with half that fine intended to go to the counties that bought them. ES&S also would have to reimburse the counties for the full cost of the machines, but the counties would be able to keep the AutoMARKs, which are now slated to receive full state certification in early December. The reimbursement rule was added to the state election code in 2004 in an effort to boost the penalties against companies that ignore the state's certification rules. "I was surprised to see this happen," Bowen said in a telephone conference call Monday afternoon. "I hope this will be the last time I have to use (the new penalties)." Bowen said there is no ambiguity in the law. "Changes ... must be submitted to the secretary of state before a voting machine can be sold or used in California," she said. "California law doesn't ask the manufacturer to decide whether the changes are small or large or medium-size." California only learned about the changes when an ES&S representative inadvertently mentioned the new version of the AutoMARK in a telephone conference call with state election officials. The company never even mentioned to the state or the five counties that changes had been made to the machines that were shipped, Bowen said.
Note: For many revealing articles on the serious problems with the new electronic voting machines, click here.
The college student who was told what question to ask at one of New York Sen. Hillary Clinton's campaign events said "voters have the right to know what happened" and she wasn't the only one who was planted. In an exclusive on-camera interview with CNN, Muriel Gallo-Chasanoff, a 19-year-old sophomore at Grinnell College in Grinnell, Iowa, said giving anyone specific questions to ask is "dishonest," and the whole incident has given her a negative outlook on politics. Gallo-Chasanoff ... said what happened was simple: She said a senior Clinton staffer asked if she'd like to ask the senator a question after an energy speech the Democratic presidential hopeful gave in Newton, Iowa, on November 6. "I sort of thought about it, and I said 'Yeah, can I ask how her energy plan compares to the other candidates' energy plans?'" Gallo-Chasanoff said Monday night. According to Gallo-Chasanoff, the staffer said, " 'I don't think that's a good idea, because I don't know how familiar she is with their plans.' " He then opened a binder to a page that, according to Gallo-Chasanoff, had about eight questions on it. "The top one was planned specifically for a college student," she added. "It said 'college student' in brackets and then the question." Topping that sheet of paper was the following: "As a young person, I'm worried about the long-term effects of global warming. How does your plan combat climate change?" And while she said she would have rather used her own question, Gallo-Chasanoff said she didn't have a problem asking the campaign's because she "likes to be agreeable," adding that since she told the staffer she'd ask their pre-typed question she "didn't want to go back on my word." Clinton campaign spokesman Mo Elleithee said ... Clinton had "no idea who she was calling on." Gallo-Chasanoff wasn't so sure. "It seemed like she knew to call on me because there were so many people, and ... I was the only college student in that area," she said. Gallo-Chasanoff said she wasn't the only person given a question.
Note: Click on the link above to watch videos of the student asking the planted question and of the full interview with CNN.
Was there a White House plot to illegally suppress votes in 2004? Is there a similar plan for the upcoming elections? This week NOW examines documents and evidence that points to a Republican Party plan designed to keep Democrats from voting, allegedly by targeting people based on their race and ethnicity with key battleground states like Ohio and Florida of particular interest. "It was a partisan, discriminatory attempt to challenge voters of color," Eddie Hailes, a senior attorney for The Advancement Project, a civil rights group, told NOW. Was the White House involved? David Iglesias, one of the fired U.S. Attorneys, thinks so: "It's reprehensible. It's unethical, it's unlawful. It may very well be criminal." Iglesias told NOW he was repeatedly urged by his superiors at the Justice Department to investigate allegations of false voter registrations. After his investigations came up short, Iglesias said Republican officials got angry and complained to White House aide Karl Rove. Soon after Iglesias lost his job. As a result of allegations by Iglesias and others, Congress is investigating whether the White House acted unlawfully. While Attorney General Alberto Gonzales refused to answer many questions about the controversy as he testified before the Senate this week, Iglesias told NOW he believes the White House is keeping documents from Congress to protect the Bush Administration. "That's why there has been such a circling of the wagons around Karl Rove and Harriet Miers and Sarah Taylor. I believe there to be incriminating, possibly criminally incriminating evidence contained in those e-mails and other memoranda," he said.
Note: To read further reports from the major media on the many serious problems in the US electoral process, click here.
US cash dispenser and security company Diebold has admitted that it has failed to find a buyer for its troubled electronic voting machine business. Diebold and other manufacturers of such voting machines have been hit by criticism that they are unreliable and vulnerable to tampering. Growing unease about the machines in the US has led to a number of delayed orders from states. Diebold said that as a result, its 2007 revenues would fall $120m (Ł61m). It added that it would now allow the unit to operate more independently, with a separate board of directors and, possibly, a new management structure. Diebold said it had not ruled out another attempt at a full or partial sale. Some 50 million Americans, about 30% of registered voters, used electronic machines to cast their vote in the 2004 presidential election. The machines were introduced in the aftermath of the problems caused by antiquated punch-card systems in the 2000 presidential election. However, there has since been growing concern that electronic machines may be equally as unreliable.
Note: For more reliable information on the serious problems with the new electronic voting machines, click here.
Across California, bleary-eyed voting watchdogs, registrars and public officials spent the day trying to digest [Secretary of State Debra] Bowen's late Friday decision to limit electronic balloting and install various new safeguards. The former Democratic state senator, an electronic voting skeptic who fought in the Legislature to require a paper trail for digital ballots, [took action] after University of California researchers found security flaws in three electronic systems. Barring a legal challenge, Bowen's actions will force 21 counties to shutter most of their touch-screen machines. Those counties, who use machines made by Diebold Election Systems and Sequoia Voting Systems, will instead ask most voters to fill bubbles on paper ballots to make their selections, a method known as "optical scan." Dan Ashby, [an] electronic voting critic who heads the California Election Protection Network, praised Bowen for her actions. "Election officials are probably going to fight tooth and nail against the decertification order, but we think truth and logic are on our side," Ashby said. "The best use for the machines would be to melt them down for scrap. But before we can do that, we have to do a withdrawal in stages." Bowen estimated that more than two-thirds of California voters already cast paper ballots, a number she believes will continue to rise as more people vote absentee.
Note: The Sacramento Bee, within two days of its publication, restricted access to this story, requiring registration to read it. Secretary of State Bowen is under attack throughout the state for having proven the hackability of electronic voting machines. Many Registrars of Voters are threatening to ignore the new regulations, and they are getting a lot of press coverage as they attempt to reverse Bowen's decision. You can show support for Debra Bowen through contacting the media, writing letters to editors, or by signing this petition. For more reliable, verifiable information about the serious problems with new electronic voting machines, 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.
A congressional task force called Thursday for a speedy resolution to a southwest Florida election dispute that questions the accuracy of ATM-style voting machines. Democrat Christine Jennings claims that touch-screen voting machines in Sarasota County failed to register up to 18,000 votes. Republican Vern Buchanan was declared the winner by 369 votes after two recounts and a state audit found no problems. GAO investigators will gather information on Sarasota County's voting systems, analyze the 18,000 so-called ''undervotes,'' review tests and audits done after the election and determine if more tests are needed. Jennings said Thursday the she was pleased even though the approach brings her no closer to gaining access to hardware and software that the machines' maker, Omaha, Neb.-based Election Systems & Software Inc., says is a trade secret.
Note: The software in electronic voting machines is considered proprietary information, kept secret from Congress, the courts and even the President. Yet any computer programmer will tell you that this software can be manipulated. To join in demanding transparency in our elections process, contact your political representatives by clicking here. For more reliable information on this issue vital to democracy, click here.
In an e-mail uncovered and released by the House Judiciary Committee last month, Tim Griffin, once Karl Rove's right-hand man, gloated that "no [U.S.] national press picked up" a BBC Television story reporting that the Rove team had developed an elaborate scheme to challenge the votes of thousands of African Americans in the 2004 election. Griffin wasn't exactly right. The Los Angeles Times did run a follow-up article. But ... most of the major U.S. newspapers and the vast majority of television news programs ignored the story even though it came at a critical moment just weeks before the election. In fact, not one U.S. newsperson even bothered to ask me or the BBC for the data and research we had painstakingly done. The truth is, I knew that a story like this one would never be reported in my own country [the U.S.], because investigative reporting ... is dying. Again and again, I see this pattern repeated. Back in December 2000, I received two computer disks from the office of Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris. Analysis of the data ... indicated that Harris' office had purged thousands of African Americans from Florida's voter rolls as "felons." Florida now admits that many of these voters were not in fact felons. Nevertheless, the blacklisting helped cost Al Gore the White House. I reported on the phony felon purge in Britain's Guardian and Observer and on the BBC while Gore was still in the race, while the count was still on. Yet the story of the Florida purge never appeared in the U.S. daily papers or on television ... until months later, that is, after the Supreme Court had decided the election.
Note: The American-born author of this article, BBC reporter Greg Palast, has repeatedly exposed major corruption in the British media, yet the U.S. press often ignores his well-researched stories. For possibly the most amazing story he wrote which got virtually no U.S. media coverage, click here.
For six years, the Bush administration, aided by Justice Department political appointees, has pursued an aggressive legal effort to restrict voter turnout in key battleground states in ways that favor Republican political candidates, according to former department lawyers and public records and documents. Facing nationwide voter registration drives by Democratic-leaning groups, the administration alleged widespread election fraud and endorsed proposals for tougher state and federal voter identification laws. The administration ... has repeatedly invoked allegations of widespread voter fraud to justify tougher voter ID measures and other steps to restrict access to the ballot, even though research suggests that voter fraud is rare. Since President Bush's first attorney general, John Ashcroft ... launched a ''Ballot Access and Voter Integrity Initiative'' in 2001, Justice Department political appointees have exhorted U.S. attorneys to prosecute voter fraud cases, and the department's Civil Rights Division has sought to roll back policies to protect minority voting rights. Several of [the eight fired U.S. attorneys] were ousted in part because they failed to bring voter fraud cases important to Republican politicians. Virtually every significant decision affecting election balloting since 2001 ... has come down on the side of Republicans, notably in Florida, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio, Washington ... where recent elections have been decided by narrow margins. In the last six years, the number of voters registered at state government agencies that provide services to the poor and disabled has been cut in half, to one million.
Note: Doublespeak, like the "Ballot Access" initiative, is often used to disguise the fact that the effect of the initiative is the opposite of what the title suggests. Think about the results of the "War on Terror" and "War on Drugs." The amount of terror and drug use has expanded dramatically since these were initiated. Could this be a purposeful maneuver? For more, click here.
Three county elections workers conspired to avoid a more thorough recount of ballots in the 2004 presidential election, a prosecutor told jurors during opening statements of their trial Thursday. Witnesses testified that, two days before a planned recount, selected ballots were counted so the result would be determined. "The evidence will show that this recount was rigged, maybe not for political reasons, but rigged nonetheless," Prosecutor Kevin Baxter said. "They did this so they could spend a day rather than weeks or months" on the recount, he said. Defense attorneys said in their opening statements that the workers in Cuyahoga County didn't do anything out of the ordinary. "They just were doing it the way they were always doing it," said defense attorney Roger Synenberg, representing Kathleen Dreamer, a ballot manager. Charged with various counts each of election misconduct or interference are Jacqueline Maiden, the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections' coordinator, who was the board's third-highest ranking employee when she was indicted last March; Rosie Grier, assistant manager of the board's ballot department; and Dreamer. Baxter said testimony in the case will show that instead of conducting a random count, the workers chose sample precincts for the Dec. 16, 2004, recount that did not have questionable results to ensure that no discrepancies would emerge. "This was a very hush operation," Baxter said. There were allegations in several counties of similar presorting of ballots for the recounts that state law says are to be random.
Note: For lots more reliable, verifiable information on elections manipulations, click here.
A state appeals court has restored voting rights to as many as 100,000 Californians who are in county jails on probation from felony convictions, and who were disenfranchised by the state a year ago, based on a new legal interpretation. That interpretation abruptly reversed the state's reading of the law for the previous 30 years, the court noted in last week's ruling. The state's top election official said he will not appeal. Most of those affected by the decision are young men, typically racial or ethnic minorities, who have committed nonviolent crimes, said Maya Harris, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California and a lawyer in the case. "It sure is nice to have a win for democracy," she said after last week's ruling. In the 3-0 ruling, Justice William Stein also said the state constitutional provision at issue was passed by the voters in 1974 to lift some previous restrictions on the right to vote, and should be interpreted in favor of participation in elections.
It probably means little now to Howard Dean, but CNN's top executive believes his network overplayed the infamous clip of Dean's "scream" after the Iowa caucuses. "It was a big story, but the challenge in a 24-hour news network is that you try to keep all of your different viewers throughout the day informed without overdoing it," said Princell Hair, CNN's general manager. The media explosion turned the former Democratic presidential front-runner into a punch line and arguably hastened his campaign's free fall. It's also an instructive look at how television news and entertainment works today. "It was totally unfair," said Joe Trippi, who lost his job as Dean's campaign manager in the fallout. Trippi accepts that the footage was newsworthy, but he figured it was a one-day story. Instead, CNN cable and broadcast news networks aired Dean's Iowa exclamation 633 times — and that doesn't include local news or talk shows — in the four days after it was made. "It shouldn't be an anvil that you keep hammering to destroy his candidacy," Trippi said. The cable news networks ran and reran the video. They analyzed it. They ran footage of the late-night comedians joking about it. They played the instant Internet songs that sampled Dean's shout. Virtually overnight, the "I Have a Scream" speech became legend. It took on such a life, said Paul Slavin, senior vice president of ABC News, that "the amount of attention it was receiving necessitated more attention." Neither Slavin nor Mark Lukasiewicz, NBC News executive producer in charge of political coverage, believe the coverage was overdone. Roger Ailes, Fox News chairman, told ABC News it was "overplayed a bit."
Note: If the above link fails, click here for the full article and more.
During the past two years, [Actor Stephen] Heller tapped the family savings and lost two jobs while fighting charges that he took copies of documents from a law firm where he worked. Prosecutors said he copied more than 500 pages of documents, including memos suggesting Diebold may have broken state law by providing Alameda County with electronic voting machines that hadn't been certified by state officials. Soon after, Heller gave the documents to Bev Harris, founder of Black Box Voting, which was involved in a lawsuit claiming Diebold used uncertified software in 17 counties. Harris then turned them over to the secretary of state and the Oakland Tribune. Heller was sentenced Monday to three years probation and ordered to pay his former law firm $10,000 in restitution. The records detailed potential problems with electronic voting machines made by Diebold. Heller was hailed by digital rights and political activists as a whistle-blower who tried to do the right thing. Some observers believe prosecuting Heller could prevent other people from revealing potential flaws with electronic voting systems. Some of Diebold's machines failed to work properly in the March 2004 primary election. Two months later, then-Secretary of State Kevin Shelley decertified 14,000 Diebold electronic voting machines. [Shelley's] lawsuit was eventually joined by the state attorney general's office. Diebold settled for $2.6 million last year. Heller hopes his case will bring about changes and prevent corporations from keeping details of election equipment and software secret. "The only thing that should be secret is our ballots," Heller said.
Note: So a whistleblower who exposes major corruption later proven to be true is fined and penalized. What kind of system is this? For lots more, click here.
By the 2008 presidential election, voters around the country are likely to see sweeping changes in how they cast their ballots and how those ballots are counted. New federal guidelines, along with legislation given a strong chance to pass in Congress next year, will probably combine to make the paperless voting machines obsolete. Motivated in part by voting problems during the midterm elections last month, the changes are a result of a growing skepticism among local and state election officials, federal legislators and the scientific community about the reliability and security of the paperless touch-screen machines used by about 30 percent of American voters. Various forms of vote-counting software used around the country ... will for the first time be inspected by federal authorities, and the code could be made public. Last year, New Mexico spent $14 million to replace its touch screens. Other states are spending millions more to retrofit the machines to add paper trails. Because some printers malfunctioned last month, election commissioners in Cuyahoga County, Ohio, which includes Cleveland, said last week that they were considering scrapping their new $17 million system of touch-screen machines. Under changes approved by the Election Assistance Commission yesterday, voting machine manufacturers would have to make their crucial software code available to federal inspectors. The code is now checked mainly by private testing laboratories paid by the manufacturers.
Note: How is it possible that the government allowed voting machine companies to keep their software secret even from the government? We may never know how many votes were manipulated. For more, click here.
Paperless electronic voting machines used throughout ... much of the country "cannot be made secure," according to draft recommendations issued this week by a federal agency that advises the U.S. Election Assistance Commission. The assessment by the National Institute of Standards and Technology, one of the government's premier research centers, is the most sweeping condemnation of such voting systems by a federal agency. NIST said that voting systems should allow election officials to recount ballots independently from a voting machine's software. The recommendations endorse "optical-scan" systems in which voters mark paper ballots that are read by a computer and electronic systems that print a paper summary of each ballot, which voters review and elections officials save for recounts. NIST says in its report that the lack of a paper trail for each vote "is one of the main reasons behind continued questions about voting system security and diminished public confidence in elections." The report repeats the contention of the computer security community that "a single programmer could 'rig' a major election." NIST says that voting systems should not rely on a machine's software to provide a record of the votes cast. Some electronic voting system manufacturers have introduced models that include printers to produce a separate record of each vote -- and that can be verified by a voter before leaving the machine -- but such paper trails have had their own problems. Printers have jammed or otherwise failed, causing some election directors to question whether a paper trail is an improvement.
Note: Another federal advisory panel amazingly rejects requiring a paper trail days after the above report is released. To read the CBS News/AP article on this, 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.
The Washington, D.C.-based Sierra Club is the latest environmental group to use Ford Motor Co.'s high-profile centennial party next week to pressure the automaker to boost the fuel economy of its cars and trucks. Once a fan of Ford Chairman and CEO Bill Ford Jr., the Sierra Club said Tuesday it will place ads in the New York Times and BusinessWeek magazine slamming the company's environmental record. The ads -- being published to coincide with Ford's 100th anniversary June 16 -- say Ford has failed to improve the fuel efficiency of its vehicles. After depicting technological advances in other industries, the ad says that Ford's Model T, which went 25 miles on a gallon of gasoline, was more fuel efficient than the current Ford Explorer sport-utility vehicle -- which manages just 16 miles per gallon.
Note: To understand why all of this isn't being reported in headline news around the country, click here.
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.
On Monday Florida will begin its first recount for a federal election since the botched 2000 presidential contest. The disputed race...is one place where the kind of machines used by 40% of American voters this week may have malfunctioned significantly enough to alter the outcome of a seat in Congress. An E-mail by a key election official [indicates] she may have known well before Election Day the machines weren't working properly. Republican Vern Buchanan beat Democrat Christine Jennings by 373 votes with 237,842 counted. That tiny margin – less than one-half of one percent – triggered an automatic recount under Florida state law. The Jennings campaign believes thousands of votes in the district's most populous county went unrecorded. In Sarasota County...nearly one in every six (16%) Election Day voters either skipped or missed the hotly contested House race. The Democrat won 53% of the vote in Sarasota County. Had even half the 17,811 "missing" machine votes been recorded...she would have overcome her margin of defeat. Only two-and-half percent of absentee ballots ignored the House race. Would six times as many people from the same place do so on Election Day? They didn't anywhere else in the district. Dozens of Sarasota County voters called "election protection" hotlines. Some did catch their "undervote." But what will happen in Sarasota...is less of a recount than a re-tally of the same results, because Florida is among the 15 states that do not allow touch screen machines to produce a paper trail.
Note: With no paper trail, if the voting machines were manipulated, there is no way to prove what really happened. How could our government have approved machines without a paper trail?
Voting appears to be very popular in Daggett County, Utah. Daggett County has registered 947 voters for Tuesday's election. According to the most recent Census figures, that's four more than the county's population in 2005. A spokesman for Attorney General Mark Shurtleff says complaints of vote-stuffing in the county are being investigated. Democrats suspect County Clerk Vickie McKee is letting outsiders swell the Daggett County registration rolls to give Republicans an advantage. The Democrats also say the father of a Republican deputy running for sheriff has 14 adults registered at his household. McKee hasn't responded to messages from The Associated Press.
Note: In such a small county, it is easy to spot the discrepancies. How often does this happen in much bigger counties and go unnoticed? For more, click here.
The touch-screen voting machines Katherine Harris championed as secretary of state after the 2000 presidential recount may have botched this year's election to replace her in the U.S. House, and it's likely going to mean another Florida recount. More than 18,000 Sarasota County voters who marked other races didn't have a vote register in the House race, a rate much higher than the rest of the district. The county's elections supervisor, Kathy Dent, had requested the team after one of the candidates reported complaints about voting machines malfunctioning. Earlier, Dent defended her staff and the machines, arguing that the thousands of voters must have either overlooked the race...or simply decided not to vote for either candidate in a race marked by mudslinging. But she couldn't explain why the undervote rate in her county was so much higher than in the four other counties in the district. Republican Vern Buchanan declared victory in the race with a 373-vote lead over Democrat Christine Jennings—less than 0.2 percent. Florida law requires a machine recount if the difference between the top candidates is less than half a percent. If the machine tallies find a margin of less than a quarter percent, a manual recount is conducted. To do a manual recount for touch-screens, officials go back over the images of the electronic ballots where the machine didn't register a choice. State rules essentially say that if the machine doesn't show that a voter chose a candidate, the voter is assumed to have meant to skip the race. It would be tough to prove otherwise.
Programming errors and inexperience dealing with electronic voting machines frustrated poll workers in hundreds of precincts Tuesday, delaying voters in several states and leaving some with little choice but to use paper ballots instead. In Indiana's Marion County, electronic optical-scan machines that read paper ballots initially weren't working right in more than 100 precincts. Election officials in Delaware County, Ind., and Lebanon County, Pa., extended polling hours because of early machine troubles blamed on bad programming. Republicans in Passaic County, N.J., complained a ballot had been pre-marked on some machines with a vote for the Democratic Senate candidate. In Colorado, Democratic Party officials said they would ask a state judge to keep Denver polling places open an extra two hours Tuesday because of long lines. A national Election Protection coalition logged 9,000 calls by noon on [their elections] hotline. In one case, a poll worker unintentionally wiped the electronic ballot activators. Some machines...jammed when they were turned on. One location suspended voting for 45 minutes because it received the wrong machine. But voting equipment companies said they hadn't seen anything beyond the norm and blamed most of the problems on human error. Nearly half of all voters were using optical-scan systems. Thirty-eight percent were casting votes on touchscreen machines that have been criticized as susceptible to hackers. Many states established voter registration databases for the first time and found problems matching drivers' license and Social Security data with voter rolls, sometimes simply because of a middle initial.
The U.S.'s new voting systems are only as good as the people who program and use them. In one week, more than 80 million Americans will go to the polls, and a record number of them—90%—will either cast their vote on a computer or have it tabulated that way. There are going to be problems. Some will be machine malfunctions. Some could come from sabotage by poll workers. But in a venture this large, trouble is most likely to come from just plain human error. Four years after Congress passed a law requiring every state to vote by a method more reliable than the punch-card system that paralyzed Florida and the nation in 2000, the 2006 election is shaping up into a contest not just between Democrats and Republicans but also between people who believe in technology and those who fear machines cannot be trusted to count votes in a closely divided democracy. Princeton computer scientist Edward Felten and a couple of graduate students this past summer tested the defenses of a voting machine made by Diebold. They were able to quickly infect the device with a standard memory-access card in which they had installed a preprogrammed chip. Other computer scientists have also breached electronic voting machines. Congressman Vernon Ehlers, a Michigan Republican who has been holding hearings this fall, says manufacturers "have produced machines that are very vulnerable, not very reliable and I suspect fairly easy to hack." Concerns about fraud are heightened by the fact that with some electronic voting machines, there is no such thing as a real recount [i.e. paper trail].
Note: For a highly important 12-minute video of the court witness testimony of a computer expert who was personally involved in the manipulation of votes, see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JEzY2tnwExs. For more on this, click here. For a three-minute Fox News clip showing how easy it is to infect a voting machine with a virus which secretly changes the elections results: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8JESZiLpBLE.
Exit-poll data will be under lock and key Election Day to help networks avoid the Bush-Gore debacle of 2000 - and prevent bloggers from trumpeting results before the polls close. The crucial info - which could provide an early hint if a Democratic wave is in fact under way - will be squirreled away in a windowless New York office room dubbed the "Quarantine Room," the Washington Post first reported. A media consortium established to track polling results has set up ironclad rules to prevent leaks to news-hungry Web sites like the Drudge Report. Only two staffers from each of the TV networks and The Associated Press will be authorized to tear through the exit-poll data at the vote vault. Those staffers will have to surrender their cellphones, laptop computers and BlackBerrys - it's the price of admission. And they won't be able communicate with their offices until 5 p.m.
Note: Could this be a means of preventing "problems" with large discrepancies between exit polls and the elections results? How do we know that the two staffers selected from each network won't manipulate the results? Several TV networks had difficulties in the 2004 election describing sudden changes in the results of the exit polls during the elections. For lots more, see http://www.WantToKnow.info/electionscoverups
HBO's Hacking Democracy...tells the story of Bev Harris, a grandmother and writer who started investigating the subject of electronic voting in 2002 after questioning her county's switch to electronic touch-screen voting machines. Unsatisfied with their explanation, Harris set out to learn about electronic voting systems on her own, and in doing so stumbled upon shocking revelations about the vulnerability of the software and hardware. Harris, who went on to form the watchdog group BlackBoxVoting.org, recently spoke with TVGuide. TVGuide: [Diebold is] taking issue with...the hacking demonstration which shows how central tabulators can be tampered with by modifying a single memory card. Harris: It's interesting they would bring that up because the State of California commissioned its own independent study. Diebold was ordered to cooperate with the study. All of the scientists said, "The hack is real, and it is dangerous." And they found 16 additional vulnerabilities. TVGuide: Watching this unsettling documentary, you come away feeling like paper-chad ballots are our best bet. Harris: Actually, those are counted by a computer, as well. This election, 45 percent of the jurisdictions in New Hampshire will be counting by hand. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) has introduced a bill into the U.S. Congress to have the entire presidential race counted by hand in 2008. Canada counts their federal elections by hand, and they have the results generally in about four hours, and with little controversy. The missing ingredient has been the citizens. Any system that we end up with has to be one that citizens can oversee.
Important Note: Don't miss this powerful, highly revealing documentary now available for free viewing on the Internet at http://www.WantToKnow.info/electionsvideodocumentary.
Diebold Inc. demanded that cable network HBO cancel a documentary that questions the integrity of its voting machines, calling the program inaccurate and unfair. The program, "Hacking Democracy," is scheduled to debut on Nov. 2, five days before the 2006 U.S. midterm elections. The film claims Diebold voting machines aren't tamper-proof and can be manipulated to change voting results. "Hacking Democracy" is "replete with material examples of inaccurate reporting," Diebold Election System President David Byrd said in a letter to HBO President and Chief Executive Officer Chris Albrecht. "We stand by the film," HBO spokesman Jeff Cusson said in an interview. "We have no intention of withdrawing it from our schedule." This is Diebold's second defense of its system since last month. On Sept. 26, Byrd wrote to Jann Wenner, editor and publisher of Rolling Stone, saying a story written by Robert F. Kennedy Jr., "Will the Next Election Be Hacked?" was "error- riddled" and that readers "deserve a better researched and reported article." The documentary is based on the work of Bev Harris of Renton, founder of BlackBoxVoting.org, which monitors election accuracy. Harris says on the HBO Web site that she found "secret program files" used by Diebold for its electronic voting machines. Harris copied them and distributed the programs to others as a way to show the vulnerability of a system designed to safeguard voting, according to the Web site.
Note: For the revealing story in Rolling Stone, click here.
[CNN News anchor Lou] DOBBS: Florida the scene of one of this country's worst election breakdowns ever. Already a series of e-voting glitches have plagued early voting in the state of Florida. KITTY PILGRIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Voter activists are warning there have been problems with electronic machines in Florida in early voting. Some of the most populous counties...have reported serious problems. In seven percent of precincts, the number of votes didn't match the tally of registered voters. PAMELA HAENGEL, VOTING INTEGRITY ALLIANCE: In Pinellas County in the primaries we found over 150 calibration errors from precinct workers' logs. That's when a voter goes to touch the screen and it hops to a candidate that they didn't necessarily vote for. PILGRIM: Today, Governor Jeb Bush gave his full vote of confidence to the machine. REGINALD MITCHELL, PEOPLE FOR THE AMERICAN WAY: Despite all the problems...we have nothing in place for a paper trail in Florida. SUSAN PYNCHON, FLORIDA ELECTION COALITION: The voting started at 8:00. At five minutes before 10:00, the power failed. PILGRIM: That power outage kept the electronic voting machines down for hours and hundreds of voters were turned away. PILGRIM: Another problem, in some places representatives of the voting machines company are in charge of running the software that tabulates the votes. DOBBS: This is one troubling, concerning report on top of another. We are beginning to behave like a Banana Republic. PILGRIM: It's unbelievably shocking this close to the election we're dealing with this. DOBBS: Unbelievable. It's just -- it's incredible.
The federal government is investigating the takeover last year of a leading American manufacturer of electronic voting systems by a small software company that has been linked to the leftist Venezuelan government of President Hugo Chávez. The inquiry is focusing on the Venezuelan owners of the software company, the Smartmatic Corporation...and its subsidiary, Sequoia Voting Systems of Oakland, Calif.. Smartmatic was a little-known firm with no experience in voting technology before it was chosen by the Venezuelan authorities to replace the country’s elections machinery ahead of a contentious referendum that confirmed Mr. Chávez as president in August 2004. With a windfall of some $120 million from its first three contracts with Venezuela, Smartmatic then bought the much larger and more established Sequoia Voting Systems, which now has voting equipment installed in 17 states and the District of Columbia. The concern over Smartmatic’s purchase of Sequoia comes amid rising unease about the security of touch-screen voting machines and other electronic elections systems. The concerns about possible ties between the owners of Smartmatic and the Chávez government have been well known to United States foreign-policy officials since before the 2004 recall election in which Mr. Chávez...won by an official margin of nearly 20 percent. But after a municipal primary election in Chicago in March, Sequoia voting machines were blamed for a series of delays and irregularities. Smartmatic’s new president, Jack A. Blaine, acknowledged in a public hearing that Smartmatic workers had been flown up from Venezuela to help with the vote.
After a week of early voting, a handful of glitches with electronic voting machines have drawn the ire of voters, reassurances from elections supervisors -- and a caution against the careless casting of ballots. Several South Florida voters say the choices they touched on the electronic screens were not the ones that appeared on the review screen -- the final voting step. In Broward County, for example, they don't know how widespread the machine problems are because there's no process for poll workers to quickly report minor issues and no central database of machine problems. Debra A. Reed voted with her boss on Wednesday at African-American Research Library and Cultural Center near Fort Lauderdale. Her vote went smoothly, but boss Gary Rudolf called her over to look at what was happening on his machine. He touched the screen for gubernatorial candidate Jim Davis, a Democrat, but the review screen repeatedly registered the Republican, Charlie Crist. A poll worker then helped Rudolf, but it took three tries to get it right, Reed said. Broward Supervisor of Elections spokeswoman Mary Cooney said it's not uncommon for screens on heavily used machines to slip out of sync, making votes register incorrectly.
Two weeks before the midterm elections, at least 10 states...remain ripe for voting problems, according to a study released yesterday by a nonpartisan clearinghouse that tracks electoral reforms across the United States. The report by Electionline.org says those states, and possibly others, could encounter trouble on Election Day because they have a combustible mix of fledgling voting-machine technology, confusion over voting procedures or recent litigation over election rules -- and close races. The report cautions that the Nov. 7 elections, which will determine which political party controls the House and Senate, promise "to bring more of what voters have come to expect since the 2000 elections -- a divided body politic...and the possibility -- if not certainty -- of problems at polls nationwide." The report of the clearinghouse, sponsored by the Pew Charitable Trusts, is the latest of several warnings in recent weeks and months by organizations and scholars who say that electoral problems persist in spite of six years of efforts by the federal government and states to correct voting flaws. The decisions by many states to convert to electronic voting machines have yielded new concerns about whether they are secure and accurate, about paper records as backup proof and...about whether the electronic or paper record should be considered the official tally if a candidate demands a recount.
A non-partisan civic organization today claimed it had hacked into the voter database for the 1.35 million voters in the city of Chicago. Bob Wilson, an official with the Illinois Ballot Integrity Project — which bills itself as a not-for-profit civic organization dedicated to the correction of election system deficiencies — tells ABC News that last week his organization hacked the database, which contains detailed information about hundreds of thousands of Chicago voters, including their Social Security numbers, and dates of birth. "It was a serious identity theft problem, but also a problem that could potentially create problems with the election," Wilson said. A nefarious hacker could have changed every voter's status from active to inactive, which would have prevented them from voting, he said. "Or we could've changed the information on what precinct you were in or what polling place you were supposed to go to," he said. "There were ways that we could potentially change the entire online data base and disenfranchise voters throughout the entire city of Chicago. If we'd wanted to, we could've wiped the entire database out."
Cheryl Kagan, a former Maryland Democratic legislator, was shocked when she opened her mail [and] discovered three computer discs. The discs contained the secret source code for vote-counting that could be used to alter the votes cast through Maryland's new electronic voting machines. An independent report commissioned by the state of Maryland...shows myriad other security flaws. Computer experts and government officials have voiced serious concerns that if these machines malfunction, no paper record will exist for a recount. Even worse is the fear that an election could be hacked. Princeton University researchers using an Accuvote TS — a touch screen version of the Diebold machine — showed how easy it would be to deploy a virus that would, in seconds, flip the vote of any election. Cyber-security expert Stephen Spoonamore [says] Diebold's "system is utterly unsecured. The entire cyber-security community is begging them to come back to reality and secure our nation's voting." There is also the matter of computer glitches. In primary elections...machines malfunctioned in Texas, where 100,000 votes were added. In Maryland, screens froze and memory cards went missing. Gov. Robert Ehrlich, a Republican running for reelection, advised residents to vote by absentee ballot because he had no confidence in the machines. Electronic voting machines were supposed to be the solution to the paper ballot problems from the 2000 presidential election. But to many critics, America's voting system has gone out of the frying pan and into the fire.
A Florida law that bars exit polling near voting places violates the press' rights under the First Amendment, a lawsuit filed by The Associated Press and five television networks alleges. The lawsuits...contend that state laws that prohibit asking a voter a "fact" or "opinion" within 100 feet of a polling place is unconstitutional. The AP and the five television networks - ABC, CNN, CBS, Fox News and NBC - formed a consortium to collect exit-polling data in Florida and other states. The news organizations had also challenged a 2004 directive by Ohio's elections chief against exit polling within 100 feet of a voting place. On Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Michael H. Watson ruled the verbal order by Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell before the 2004 presidential election violated the press' rights under the First Amendment. A federal judge ruled in 1988 that a Florida law prohibiting exit polling within 150 feet of polling places was unconstitutional.
Note: A university study of exit polls in the 2004 election showed strong evidence of elections manipulations. Could this be why certain powerful individuals want to limit exit polls?
Election results were held up for six days in Cuyahoga County last May, testing the patience of voters and damaging their confidence. Ohio's most populous county will hold its second election in November using touch-screen voting machines made by North Canton-based Diebold Inc. The first attempt at electronic voting during the May primary was marred by problems, including poll workers who were not prepared to operate the machines and memory cards that were misplaced or lost. Vote counts were delayed six days when roughly 18,000 improperly printed absentee ballots had to be hand-counted because they couldn't be scanned by Diebold's optical scan machines. The county...isn't alone nationally. In Cook County, Ill., results were delayed a week because of mechanical and human failures connected to new voting machines. At a recent meeting, where a kitchen timer ticks off each speaker's allotted five minutes during the public comment period, voter Daniel Kozminski of Solon questioned the integrity of Diebold's machines, citing various reports. He also scoffed at the board's refusal to post results from individual precincts on the Web to help verify vote totals. Diebold has defended its machines from several disparaging studies, including one by a Princeton University computer science professor which claims the company's machines are vulnerable to hacking. On the net - Black Box Voting: http://www.blackboxvoting.org/
Note: Memory cards were lost? That would mean hundreds—if not thousands—of votes could go uncounted. Why is this not getting more press coverage? For more: http://www.WantToKnow.info/electionsinformation
Three Senate Democrats proposed emergency legislation today to reimburse states for printing paper ballots that can be ready at polling places in case of problems with electronic voting machines on Nov. 7. The proposal is a response to grass-roots pressure and growing concern by local and state officials about touch-screen machines. “If someone asks for a paper ballot they ought to be able to have it,” said Senator Barbara Boxer of California. Dozens of states are using optical-scan and touch-screen machines to comply with federal laws intended to phase out lever and punch-card machines after the hanging-chads confusion of the 2000 presidential election. Widespread problems were reported with the new technology and among poll workers using the machines this year in primaries in Arkansas, Illinois, Maryland, Ohio and elsewhere. Local and state officials have expressed concern that the new systems might not be ready to handle increased turnouts. Election experts fear that the lack of a paper trail with most touch-screen machines will leave no way to verify votes in case of fraud or computer failure. Last week, Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. of Maryland, a Republican, joined the skeptics, saying he lacked confidence in his state’s new $106 million electronic system and suggesting that state officials offer all voters paper ballots as an alternative.
Note: To sign an online petition supporting the move for paper ballots in case of problems with electronic ones, click here. For another great effort to clean up our elections, click here. And for lots more reliable, verifiable information on elections cover-ups: http://www.WantToKnow.info/electionsinformation
Almost half of all Americans believe the November elections have more influence than market forces. For them, the plunge at the pump is about politics, not economics. According to a new Gallup poll, 42 percent of respondents agreed with the statement that the Bush administration "deliberately manipulated the price of gasoline so that it would decrease before this fall's elections." Fifty-three percent of those surveyed did not believe in this conspiracy theory, while 5 percent said they had no opinion. The excitement—and suspicion—among U.S. motorists follows a post-summer decline in gasoline prices that even veteran analysts and gas station owners concede has been steeper than usual. The retail price of gasoline has plunged by 50 cents, or 17 percent, over the past month to average $2.38 a gallon nationwide, according to Energy Department statistics. That is 42.5 cents lower than a year ago, when the energy industry was still reeling from the aftermath of hurricanes Katrina and Rita, which damaged petroleum platforms, pipelines and refineries across the Gulf Coast. Fimat USA oil analyst Antoine Halff said there is no doubt that "the downturn in prices is welcome news from an electoral standpoint for the ruling party." But he scoffed at the notion that the U.S. president had the power to muscle around a global market.
There is little assurance your vote will count. As we've been reporting almost nightly...for more than a year, electronic voting machines are placing our democracy at risk. These machines time and again have been demonstrated to be extremely vulnerable to tampering and error, and many of them have no voter-verified paper trail. Only 27 states have laws requiring the use of voter-verified paper trails. 15 states [have] no mandated requirements for safeguarding your vote. During the 2004 presidential election, one voting machine...added nearly 3,900 additional votes to Bush's total. Officials caught the machine's error because only 638 voters cast presidential ballots at that precinct, but in a heavily populated district, can we really be sure the votes will be counted correctly? [In] the May primary election in Cuyahoga County, Ohio...the electronic voting machines' four sources of vote totals -- individual ballots, paper trail summary, election archives and memory cards -- didn't even match up. The report concluded that relying on the current system for Cuyahoga County's more than 1.3 million people should be viewed as "a calculated risk." Are we really willing to risk our democracy? A 2005 Government Accountability Office report on electronic voting confirmed the worst fears of watchdog groups and election officials. "There is evidence that some of these concerns have been realized and have caused problems with recent elections, resulting in the loss and miscount of votes." That is simply unacceptable. Congress and the White House need to immediately take steps to assure the integrity of electronic voting with paper trails that could be audited in any recount.
Note: For lots more reliable, verifiable information on the various aspects of the elections cover-up, see http://www.wanttoknow.info/electionsinformation
An overhaul in how states and localities record votes and administer elections since the Florida recount battle six years ago has created conditions that could trigger a repeat...of last week's Election Day debacle. In Maryland last Tuesday, a combination of human blunders and technological glitches caused long lines and delays in vote-counting. The problems, which followed ones earlier this year in Ohio, Illinois and several other states, have contributed to doubts among some experts about whether the new systems are reliable. What is clear is that electronic machines have their own imponderables. In Montgomery County, the breakdown came when election officials failed to provide precinct workers with the access cards needed to operate electronic voting machines. In Prince George's County, computers...failed to transmit data to the central election office. At least nine other states have had trouble this year with new voting technology. In Ohio, results from the May primary election were delayed for nearly a week in Cuyahoga County (Cleveland) when thousands of absentee ballots were incorrectly formatted. Twenty-seven states require electronic voting machines to produce a paper trail available for auditing during a recount, but an analysis of Cuyahoga County's paper trail...showed that a tenth of the receipts were uncountable. For several years, prominent computer scientists have taken aim at the electronic voting machines. In analyses of the software that runs widely used models of the machines...scientists have shown how they could manipulate the machine to report a vote total that differed from the actual total cast by voters. In the Nov. 7 election, more than 80 percent of voters will use electronic voting machines.
Note: For lots more critical information on elections, see http://www.WantToKnow.info/electionsinformation
A Princeton University computer science professor added new fuel Wednesday to claims that electronic voting machines used across much of the country are vulnerable to hacking that could alter vote totals or disable machines. In a paper posted on the university's Web site, Edward Felten and two graduate students described how they had tested a Diebold AccuVote-TS machine they obtained, found ways to quickly upload malicious programs and even developed a computer virus able to spread such programs between machines. About 80 percent of American voters are expected to use some form of electronic voting in the upcoming election. The AccuVote-TS is commonly used across the country, along with a newer model, the AccuVote-TSx. The machine Felten tested, obtained in May from an undisclosed source, was the same type used across Maryland in its primary election Tuesday, according to Ross Goldstein, a deputy administrator with the state's Board of Elections. Felten and graduate students Ariel Feldman and Alex Halderman...say they designed software capable of modifying all records, audit logs and counters kept by the voting machine, ensuring that a careful forensic examination would find nothing wrong. The programs were able to modify vote totals or cause machines to break down, something that could alter the course of an election if machines were located in crucial polling stations.
Note: To see the full paper on Princeton's website along with an excellent video demonstrating how election results can easily be corrupted: http://itpolicy.princeton.edu/voting. These machines have been used in several previous elections. As there was no paper trail for most of the electronic machines, we have no way of knowing if votes were manipulated. For more on this topic vital to our democracy, see our Elections Information Center at http://www.WantToKnow.info/electionsinformation.
New election machines, as mandated and funded by federal law, may create a new election debacle instead of correcting the old one. In 2002, Congress passed the Help America Vote Act (HAVA), which allocated $3.6 billion for all 50 states to update their voting systems. Some industry analysts suggest that the government implemented the new technology too quickly to the detriment of not only security and performance of the new machines, but the integrity of our democratic process. Avi Rubin, a computer science professor at John Hopkins University...performed an analysis of voting machines produced by Diebold. But his recommendation that the machines not be used in elections fell on deaf ears. NOW traveled to Oakland County, Michigan on Primary Day, where election workers encountered more than a few frustrating snags, even when demonstrating the machines for us. In one instance, it took five attempts for the machine to accept a ballot. We also checked in on other states. What we found were alarming scenes of computer and human error, poor results validation, nonexistent contingency plans, and extreme vulnerability to tampering. In half of 37 primaries held this year, there were technical problems associated with the new HAVA-mandated technology. These included an extra 100,000 votes recorded but never cast in Texas, which was blamed on a programming error [and] ballot counting malfunctions in Iowa that declared losing candidates as winners.
It's hard to believe that nearly six years after the disasters of Florida in 2000, states still haven't mastered the art of counting votes accurately. The most troubling evidence comes from Ohio...whose electoral votes decided the 2004 presidential election. A recent government report details enormous flaws in the election system in Ohio's biggest county, problems that may not be fixable before the 2008 election. Cuyahoga County, which includes Cleveland...recently adopted Diebold electronic voting machines that produce a voter-verified paper record of every vote cast. Investigators compared the vote totals recorded on the machines after this year's primary with the paper records produced by the machines. The numbers should have been the same, but often there were large and unexplained discrepancies. The report also found that nearly 10 percent of the paper records were destroyed, blank, illegible, or otherwise compromised. Some of these problems may be explored further in a federal lawsuit challenging Ohio's administration of its 2004 election. Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell...has been criticized for many decisions he made on election matters that year. New York's Legislature was shamefully slow in passing the law needed to start adopting new voting machines statewide. Now localities are just starting to evaluate voting machine companies as they scramble to put machines in place in time for the 2007 election. Because of a federal lawsuit, New York has to make the switch a year early.
Note: Why has the media barely mentioned the federal lawsuit challenging Ohio's administration of the 2004 election? This was the state that determined the winner. For more on elections cover-up, click here.
You don't like hanging chads? Get ready for cheating chips and doctored drives. I am a computer scientist. I own seven Macintosh computers, one Windows machine and a Palm Treo 700p. So why am I advocating the use of 17th-century technology for voting in the 21st century? The 2000 debacle in Florida spurred a rush to computerize voting. While computers are very proficient...we should not rely on computers alone to count votes in public elections. The people who program them make mistakes. They are more vulnerable to manipulation than most people realize. Even an event as common as a power glitch could cause a hard disk to fail or a magnetic card that holds votes to permanently lose its data. In a 2003 election in Boone County, Ind., DREs recorded 144,000 votes in one precinct populated with fewer than 6,000 registered voters. Consider one simple mode of attack...called overwriting the boot loader. In overwriting it an attacker can, for example, make the machine count every fifth Republican vote as a Democratic vote, swap the vote outcome at the end of the election or produce a completely fabricated result. To stage this attack, a night janitor at the polling place would need only a few seconds' worth of access to the computer's memory card slot. DREs have a transparency problem: You can't easily discover if they've been tinkered with. It's one thing to suspect that officials have miscounted hanging chads, but something else entirely for people to wonder whether a corrupt programmer working behind the scenes has rigged a computer to help his side.
Problems with elections in Ohio's most populous county are so severe that it's unlikely they can be completely fixed by November, or even by the 2008 presidential election, a report commissioned by Cuyahoga County and released Tuesday says. A nonprofit group hired to review the county's first election with new electronic voting machines found several problems with the May 2 primary. "The election system in its entirety exhibits shortcomings with extremely serious consequences, especially in the event of a close election," wrote Steven Hertzberg, director of the study by the San Francisco-based Election Science Institute. The report, part of a $341,000 review ordered by county commissioners, suggests that the county revamp poll worker training, develop a plan to ensure all electronic votes are counted in the case of a manual count and consider adding machines to avoid long lines that might scare voters away. Mark Radke, director of marketing for Diebold subsidiary Diebold Election Systems...blamed inadequately trained poll workers, saying the totals didn't always add up because some changed memory cards without also changing the paper receipt rolls.
Note: Interesting that the electronic voting machine makers are blaming the poll workers for vote totals that didn't add up.. Interesting also to note that no mention is made of the serious problems in this county during the 2004 presidential election. For more reliable information: http://www.WantToKnow.info/electionsinformation
Computerized voting was supposed to be the cure for ballot fiascos such as the 2000 presidential election, but activist groups say it has only worsened the problem. Lawsuits have been filed in at least nine states, alleging that the machines are wide open to computer hackers and prone to temperamental fits of technology that have assigned votes to the wrong candidate. About 80 percent of American voters will use some form of electronic voting in the November election. New York University's Brennan Center for Justice released a one-year study last month that determined that the three most popular types of U.S. voting machines "pose a real danger" to election integrity. More than 120 security threats were identified, including wireless machines that could be hacked "by virtually any member of the public with some (computer) knowledge" and a PC card. Diebold spokesman David Bear said his company's technology "has proven to be more accurate" than punch cards. The company's former CEO, Wally O'Dell, authored a 2003 Republican fundraising letter that promised, "I am committed to helping Ohio deliver its electoral votes to the president next year." Bear said there has been no evidence in any election of hackers breaching electronic security measures. However...Lowell Finley, co-director of Voter Action...said, "We had dozens of affidavits from voters in New Mexico who said they touched one candidate's name, but the machine picked the opponent," he said. In the state's biggest county, home to Albuquerque, touch-screens machines purchased from Sequoia lost 13,000 votes.
Note: For lots more on elections problems, see http://www.WantToKnow.info/electionsinformation
To determine what it would take to hack a U.S. election, a team of cybersecurity experts turned to a fictional battleground state called Pennasota. The state uses electronic voting machines. The experts...concluded in a report issued yesterday that it would take only one person, with a sophisticated technical knowledge and timely access to the software that runs the voting machines, to change the outcome. The report, which was unveiled at a Capitol Hill news conference by New York University's Brennan Center for Justice and billed as the most authoritative to date, tackles some of the most contentious questions about the security of electronic voting. The report concluded that the three major electronic voting systems in use have significant security and reliability vulnerabilities. But it added that most of these vulnerabilities can be overcome by auditing printed voting records to spot irregularities. And while 26 states require paper records of votes, fewer than half of those require regular audits. Republican Reps. Tom Cole (Okla.) and Thomas M. Davis III (Va.), chairman of the House Government Reform Committee, joined Rep. Rush D. Holt (D-N.J.) in calling for a law that would set strict requirements for electronic voting machines.
Most of the electronic voting machines widely adopted since the disputed 2000 presidential election "pose a real danger to the integrity of national, state and local elections," a report out Tuesday concludes. There are more than 120 security threats to the three most commonly purchased electronic voting systems, the study by the Brennan Center for Justice says. For what it calls the most comprehensive review of its kind, the New York City-based non-partisan think tank convened a task force of election officials, computer scientists and security experts to study e-voting vulnerabilities. Together, the three systems account for 80% of the voting machines that will be used in this November's election. Lawsuits have been filed in at least six states to block the purchase or use of computerized machines. Election officials in California and Pennsylvania recently issued urgent warnings to local polling supervisors about potential software problems in touch-screen voting machines. Among the findings: Using corrupt software to switch votes from one candidate to another is the easiest way to attack all three systems; the most vulnerable voting machines use wireless components open to attack by "virtually any member of the public with some knowledge and a personal digital assistant;" even electronic systems that use voter-verified paper records are subject to attack unless they are regularly audited; most states have not implemented election procedures or countermeasures to detect software attacks.
Note: For an abundance of reliable, verifiable information on elections manipulations:
Nov. 2, 2004...the exit polls were predicting a victory for Senator John Kerry. But the counts that were being reported on TV bore little resemblance to the exit poll projections. In key state after state, tallies differed significantly from the projections. In every case, that shift favored President George W. Bush. Nationwide, exit polls projected a 51 to 48 percent Kerry victory, the mirror image of Bush's 51 to 48 percent win. The discrepancy [was] beyond the statistical margin of error. The media largely ignored this exit poll discrepancy. In Ohio, Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell, the Ohio co-chairman of the 2004 Bush/Cheney Campaign...used the power of his office to affect turnout and thwart voters in heavily Democratic areas. Vote suppression and electoral irregularities in Ohio have been documented. In the words of DNC Chairman Howard Dean: "More than a quarter of all Ohio voters reported problems with their voting experience." 64 percent of Americans voted on direct recorded electronic voting machines or optical-scan systems. According to a September 2005 General Accountability Office investigation, such systems contained flaws that "could allow unauthorized personnel to disrupt operations or modify data and programs that are critical to...the integrity of the voting process." The report also indicated that for rural and small-town precincts...the difference between the exit poll results and the official count is three times greater in precincts where voters used machines than in precincts using paper ballots alone.
The blogosphere has been abuzz. But in the days since Rolling Stone magazine published a long piece that accused Republicans of widespread and intentional cheating that affected the outcome of the last presidential election, the silence in America's establishment media has been deafening. In terms of bad news judgment, this could turn out to be the 2006 equivalent of the infamous "Downing Street memo," the London Times story that was initially greeted by the U.S. media with a collective yawn. Robert Kennedy Jr.'s Rolling Stone mega-essay is titled "Was the 2004 Election Stolen?" While Kennedy's article perhaps gives far too much weight to suspicious discrepancies between exit polls and the final election outcome, it meticulously asserts and documents questionable methods of purging voter rolls, intentionally created long lines at Democratic polling places, court-defying practices regarding registrations and provisional ballots, a phony terrorist alert on Election Day and final tallies in some counties and precincts that...simply don't make sense. Three Cleveland-area election officials have been indicted for illegally rigging the recount. Kennedy's 11,000-word article was Rolling Stone's cover story. But for the most part, national and regional newspapers, the major networks and news services have behaved as if the article was never published. But Kennedy's article is not just old news rehashed. Its 11,000 words, not counting the 208 footnotes, most of which contain Web addresses for links to source information.
Note: To read Kennedy's detailed allegations on the Rolling Stone website:
In a country that spends so much time extolling the glories of democracy, it's amazing how many elected officials go out of their way to discourage voting. States are adopting rules that make it hard, and financially perilous, for nonpartisan groups to register new voters. Florida recently reached a new low when it actually bullied the League of Women Voters into stopping its voter registration efforts in the state. The Legislature did this by adopting a law that seems intended to scare away anyone who wants to run a voter registration drive. Since registration drives are particularly important for bringing poor people, minority groups and less educated voters into the process, the law appears to be designed to keep such people from voting. In Washington, a new law prevents people from voting if the secretary of state fails to match the information on their registration form with government databases. There are many reasons that names, Social Security numbers and other data may not match, including typing mistakes. The state is supposed to contact people whose data does not match, but the process is too tilted against voters. Colorado recently imposed criminal penalties on volunteers who slip up in registration drives. Protecting the integrity of voting is important, but many of these rules seem motivated by a partisan desire to suppress the vote, and particular kinds of voters, rather than to make sure that those who are entitled to vote [can] do so.
A a report by Finnish security expert Harri Hursti analyzed Diebold voting machines for an organization called Black Box Voting. Hursti found unheralded vulnerabilities in the machines. Experts are calling them the most serious voting-machine flaws ever documented. It requires only a few minutes of pre-election access to a Diebold machine to open the machine and insert a PC card that, if it contained malicious code, could reprogram the machine to give control to the violator. The machine could go dead on Election Day or throw votes to the wrong candidate. Worse, it's even possible for such ballot-tampering software to trick authorized technicians into thinking that everything is working fine, an illusion you couldn't pull off with pre-electronic systems. If it so happens that someone not supposed to use the machine—or an election official who wants to put his or her thumb on the scale of democracy—takes advantage of this fast track to fraud, that's not Diebold's problem. "When you're using a paperless voting system, there is no security," says David Dill, a Stanford professor who founded the election-reform organization Verified Voting.
The League of Women Voters has been signing up voters ever since women won the right to vote in 1920. But now, for the first time in the League's storied history, a branch of the organization has shut down its operations to protest a new Florida law that the League claims will have a chilling effect on voter registration -- in a state that already has one of the nation's most notoriously dysfunctional election systems. The League's Florida branch acknowledged that it had recently ceased efforts to register voters because of what it calls the law's draconian fines against organizations (other than political parties) for submitting forms late. The League of Women Voters of Florida joined several other pubic interest and labor groups, including the Florida AFL-CIO, in challenging the constitutionality of the law, which went into effect Jan. 1. They are asking the U.S. District Court to immediately suspend the fines -- which the groups say could bankrupt their voter registration budgets. The challenged law imposes civil fines of $250 for each voter registration application submitted more than 10 days after it is collected, $500 for each application submitted after any voter registration deadline, and $5,000 for each application [not] submitted. Plaintiffs are strictly liable for these fines, even if their inability to meet the statutory deadlines results from events beyond their control, such as the destruction of applications in a hurricane."
With primary election dates fast approaching in many states, officials in Pennsylvania and California issued urgent directives in recent days about a potential security risk in their Diebold Election Systems touch-screen voting machines, while other states with similar equipment hurried to assess the seriousness of the problem. "It's the most severe security flaw ever discovered in a voting system," said Michael I. Shamos, a professor of computer science at Carnegie Mellon University. "This is the barn door being wide open," said Douglas W. Jones, a professor of computer science at the University of Iowa. The new concerns about Diebold's equipment were discovered by Harri Hursti, a Finnish computer expert who was working at the request of Black Box Voting. As word of Mr. Hursti's findings spread, Diebold issued a warning to recipients of thousands of its machines, saying that it had found a "theoretical security vulnerability" that "could potentially allow unauthorized software to be loaded onto the system." Aviel Rubin, a professor of computer science at Johns Hopkins University, did the first in-depth analysis of the security flaws in the source code for Diebold touch-screen machines in 2003. After studying the latest problem, he said: "I almost had a heart attack. The implications of this are pretty astounding."
Note: For a recent Wall Street Journal article with more serious concerns, click here. No mention is made that these same problems existed in all recent elections using these machines. For key articles from other major media showing a major problem with electronic machines, click here.
Some advocates of a 2002 law mandating upgrades of the nation's voting machinery now worry the overhaul is making things worse. Proponents of the Help America Vote Act are filing lawsuits to block some state and election officials' efforts to comply with the act. The Help America Vote Act called for upgrading election equipment to guard against another contested outcome such as the 2000 presidential vote. At the time, the electronic voting machines were seen as a reliable contrast to the older technology. The lawsuits—nine so far—coincide with a stampede by state and county officials to spend $3 billion allocated by Congress to help pay for upgrades. To comply with the Help America Vote Act, a number of states and dozens of counties purchased touch-screen voting machines. The 2004 presidential campaign and some early primary elections this year have provided evidence that the machines don't always work smoothly. And several states, after experiencing problems with touch-screen electronic systems, abandoned them to return to optically scanned paper ballots, already commonly used for absentee balloting. Typically, paper ballots require a voter to use a pencil to fill in a circle. The system is less costly to buy and maintain, and provides a paper record of ballots that can be reviewed in close or disputed elections. In Indiana, an ES&S employee alerted local-election officials that another ES&S worker had installed unauthorized software on the machines before the election. That and other disputes led to a multimillion-dollar settlement.
Note: See our new elections cover-up summary at http://www.WantToKnow.info/electionsmanipulations
The Securities and Exchange Commission is looking into how voting-machine maker Diebold Inc. reports revenue. The informal inquiry into Diebold, which also makes security equipment and ATMs, apparently involves two occasions when the company had to restate revenue, company spokesman Mike Jacobsen said. Both situations involved the voting machine business. Diebold shipped voting machines in Ohio in the second quarter of 2005 and made a change to report that revenue in the third quarter. The SEC normally does not comment on investigations.
Note: For very concerning information on Diebold ownership, see http://www.WantToKnow.info/votingproblems
The last three election cycles in the US have been marked by controversy...about the fairness and accuracy of the voting process. The coming cycle promises more of the same. In California, the League of Women Voters has protested against a new, computerised statewide election registry that the group says is improperly rejecting registered voters, while county clerks in several Indiana jurisdictions complained that the electronic ballots programmed by the vendors of their electronic voting machines had been delivered late, were incorrect and poorly proofread. The clerk for Marion County – the state’s most populous – said that, so far, nine rounds of “fixes” had been required; she was unsure whether the primary vote today could be held without problems, according to The Indianapolis Star. In Florida...the election supervisor for Leon County allowed anti-electronic voting activists to try breaching security in the county’s optical scan voting system, prompting the big three electronic voting systems companies – Diebold, Election Systems & Services, and Sequoia – to refuse to sell the county new machines. The US Government Accountability Office issued a report with a litany of potential flaws in the reliability and security of electronic voting and warned that steps needed to ensure voter confidence in the integrity of the vote were unlikely to be in place in time for the 2006 election.
Note: For more on problems with electronic voting machines: click here.
Among those who worry that hackers might sabotage election tallies, Ion Sancho is something of a hero. The maverick elections supervisor in Leon County, Fla., last year helped show that electronic voting machines from one of the major manufacturers are vulnerable...and would allow election workers to alter vote counts without detection. Now, however, Sancho may be paying an unexpected price for his whistle-blowing: None of the state-approved companies here will sell him the voting machines the county needs. "I believe I'm being singled out for punishment by the vendors," he said. The trouble began last year when Sancho allowed a Finnish computer scientist to test Leon County's Diebold voting machines, a common type that uses an optical scanner to count votes from ballots that voters have marked. Some tests...showed that elections workers could alter the vote tallies by manipulating the removable memory cards in the voting machines, and do so without detection. Last month, California elections officials arranged for experts to perform a similar analysis of the Diebold machines and also found them vulnerable -- noting a wider variety of flaws than Sancho's experts had. A spokesman said Diebold will not sell to Sancho without assurances that he will not permit more such tests, which the company considers a reckless use of the machines.
Maryland Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R) has embraced a legislative proposal to abandon the state's touch-screen voting machines for the coming election, in which he is a candidate, and to lease others that provide a paper record to verify results. Ehrlich's endorsement is the latest turn in the debate over Maryland's electronic voting machines that were used in nearly every polling place in the 2004 election. The state has committed $90 million to the system, which critics say is vulnerable to tampering. Last month, Ehrlich -- who championed the Diebold machines in 2003 -- express[ed] concern about reliability questions raised in California and Florida about those machines. A review of California's voting systems found more than a dozen vulnerabilities that security analysts said could be fixed. More than two dozen states now have some requirement for vote verification.
Note: These vulnerabilities were discovered after the machines were used widely in previous elections. Before those elections, voting machine manufacturers and elections officials insisted there were no such vulnerabilities. For lots more cover-ups around elections, see http://www.WantToKnow.info/electionsinformation
As the Leon County supervisor of elections, Ion Sancho's job is to make sure voting is free of fraud. Four times over the past year Sancho told computer specialists to break in to his voting system. And on all four occasions they did, changing results with what the specialists described as relatively unsophisticated hacking techniques. To Sancho, the results showed the vulnerability of voting equipment manufactured by Ohio-based Diebold Election Systems, which is used by Leon County and many other jurisdictions around the country. "While electronic voting systems hold promise for improving the election process," the Government Accountability Office said in a report to Congress last year, there are still pressing concerns about "security and reliability . . . design flaws" and other issues. Election officials have repeatedly clashed with voting-machine manufacturers. A new wave of concern over today's voting technologies, started in 2003, when a Seattle-based activist named Bev Harris released thousands of Diebold documents she said she found on an unsecured portion of the company's Web site. Some computer scientists said the documents showed Diebold's systems were vulnerable to attack. Today, more than 800 jurisdictions use their technology, Harris said.
Note: Integrity in elections is not a partisan issue. For lots more reliable, verifiable information raising serious questions about fair elections, see http://www.WantToKnow.info/electionsinformation
A controversial electronic voting system must undergo federal security testing before it can be approved for use in California, Secretary of State Bruce McPherson said Tuesday. Diebold Election System's optical scan and touch-screen voting systems...will have their state certification delayed for the second time, McPherson said. "We have determined that there is sufficient cause for additional federal evaluation," he said in a statement. "Unresolved significant security concerns exist with respect to the memory card" because the federal government never reviewed the software that programs the card, said Caren Daniels-Meade, head of the secretary of state's election division, in a letter to Diebold. "We strongly believe it is the duty and responsibility of the secretary of state and you to make sure that the ultimate users of your products -- the voters of California -- have a voting system that has been thoroughly and rigorously evaluated." Diebold officials declined to comment directly on McPherson's concerns. The secretary of state first refused to certify the Diebold systems in July, after 20 percent of the new, printer-equipped electronic voting machines malfunctioned during a test in San Joaquin County.
Diebold, the controversial electronic voting machine manufacturer, is coming off a tumultuous week. Its chief executive, Walden O'Dell, resigned. It was hit with a pair of class-action lawsuits charging insider trading and misrepresentation, and a county in Florida concluded that Diebold's voting machines could be hacked. The counting of votes is a public trust. Diebold, whose machines count many votes, has never acted as if it understood this. Mr. O'Dell made national headlines when he wrote a fund-raising letter before the 2004 election expressing his commitment to help deliver the electoral votes of Ohio - where Diebold is based, and where its machines are used - to President Bush. Under pressure, Diebold barred its top officials from contributing to campaigns. But this month, The Plain Dealer in Cleveland reported that three executives not covered by the ban continued to make contributions. Diebold's voting machines have a troubled history. The company was accused of installing improperly certified software, which is illegal, in a 2002 governor's race in Georgia. Across the country, it reached a multimillion-dollar settlement with the California attorney general last year of a lawsuit alleging that it made false claims about the security of its machines.
Note: Kevin Shelley, the California attorney general mentioned here, was eventually forced out of office by an aggressive media campaign accusing him of things we know are done by almost all politicians. For reliable information on this, see http://www.wanttoknow.info/050207kevinshelleysresignation.
Two law firms representing investors are suing Diebold Inc., claiming the Ohio company made misleading comments about its electronic voting machine business that led to artificially high share prices. The lawsuits filed this week in U.S. District Court in Cleveland claim Diebold was "unable to assure the quality and working order of its voting machine products." The plaintiff claims the company tried to conceal the problems from investors. Both lawsuits seek class-action status. Both firms allege that Diebold violated federal securities laws by making misleading statements about the health of its voting machine business, causing Diebold stock to artificially rise. The resignation came after several years of controversy surrounding the security and reliability of Diebold's touch-screen voting machines and O'Dell's ties to President Bush. Besides concerns about security and reliability of the touch-screens, O'Dell was criticized in 2003 when he invited people to a fundraiser for Bush with a letter stating he planned to help "Ohio deliver its electoral votes to the president." Ohio turned out to be the state that clinched Bush's re-election in 2004.
A political operative with hacking skills could alter the results of any election on Diebold-made voting machines -- and possibly other new voting systems in Florida -- according to the state capital's election supervisor, who said Diebold software has failed repeated tests. "That's kind of scary. If there's no paper trail, you have to rely solely on electronic results. And now we know that they can be manipulated under the right conditions, without a person even leaving a fingerprint," said Sancho, who once headed the state's elections supervisors association. Sancho said Diebold isn't the only one to blame for hacker-prone equipment. The Florida secretary of state's office should have caught these problems early on, he said. A spokeswoman for the secretary of state's office said any faults Sancho found were between him and Diebold. A nonprofit election-monitoring group called BlackBoxVoting.org...hired Herbert Thompson, a computer-science professor and strategist at Security Innovation, which tests software for companies such as Google and Microsoft. Thompson told The Herald he was "shocked" at how easy it was to get in, make the loser the winner and leave without a trace. He typed five lines of computer code -- and switched 5,000 votes from one candidate to another."I am positive an eighth grader could do this," Thompson said.
Tests on an optical-scan voting system used around the country showed it is vulnerable to hacking that can change the outcome of races without leaving evidence of fraud, a county election supervisor said. The voting system maker, Diebold Inc., sent a letter in response that questioned the test results and said the test was "a very foolish and irresponsible act" that may [have] violated licensing agreements. Diebold's letter was...sent to the state of Florida, Leon County and the county election supervisor, Ion Sancho. In one of the tests conducted for Sancho and the non-profit election-monitoring group BlackBoxVoting.org, the researchers were able to get into the system easily, make the loser the winner and leave without a trace. In the other test, the researcher who had hacked into the voting machine's memory card was able to hide votes, make losers out of winners and leave no trace of the changes, said BlackBox founder Bev Harris.
One of the nation's leading suppliers of electronic voting machines may decide against selling new equipment in North Carolina after a judge declined Monday to protect it from criminal prosecution should it fail to disclose software code as required by state law. Diebold...is worried it could be charged with a felony if officials determine the company failed to make all of its code some of which is owned by third-party software firms, including Microsoft Corp. available for examination by election officials in case of a voting mishap. The requirement is part of the minimum voting equipment standards approved by state lawmakers earlier this year following the loss of more than 4,400 electronic ballots in Carteret County during the November 2004 election. The lost votes threw at least one close statewide race into uncertainty for more than two months. Diebold machines were blamed for voting disruptions in a California primary election last year. California has refused to certify some machines because of their malfunction rate.
California election officials have rejected an electronic voting machine by Diebold after tests revealed unacceptable levels of screen freezes and paper jams. Three counties already have purchased the TSX voting machine, which was found to have a failure rate of 10%. Secretary of State Bruce McPherson said that was too much of a risk and notified company officials in a letter sent Wednesday. In a mock election held last week to test the 96 touch-screen machines, McPherson noted in the letter that his staff encountered "problems with paper jamming on the … printer module." The state withdrew certification for some of Diebold's e-voting equipment in April 2004 after then-Secretary of State Kevin Shelley found those systems unreliable because they lacked a paper trail.
Note: Kevin Shelley was eventually forced to resign in a scandal that was frequent front page headlines in California, yet the accusations against him could have been used against almost any politician.
ES&S, Diebold, and Sequoia are the companies primarily involved in implementing the new, often faulty, technology at voting stations throughout the country. All three have strong ties to the Bush Administration along with major defense contractors in the United States. Some of the most generous contributors to Republican campaigns are also some of the largest investors in ES&S, Sequoia, and Diebold. Most notable of these are government defense contractors Northrup-Grumman, Lockheed-Martin, Electronic Data Systems.
We have found numerous, serious election irregularities in the Ohio presidential election. Cumulatively, these irregularities, which affected hundreds of thousand of votes and voters in Ohio, raise grave doubts regarding whether it can be said the Ohio electors selected on December 13, 2004, were chosen in a manner that conforms to Ohio law, let alone federal requirements and constitutional standards. In many cases these irregularities were caused by intentional misconduct and illegal behavior, much of it involving Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell, the co-chair of the Bush-Cheney campaign in Ohio. First...the following actions by Mr. Blackwell, the Republican Party and election officials disenfranchised hundreds of thousands of Ohio citizens. The misallocation of voting machines led to unprecedented long lines. Mr. Blackwell's widely reviled decision to reject voter registration applications based on paper weight may have resulted in thousands of new voters not being registered in time for the 2004 election. Mr. Blackwell's decision to prevent voters who requested absentee ballots but did not receive them on a timely basis from being able to receive provisional ballots likely disenfranchised thousands, if not tens of thousands. A federal court found Mr. Blackwell's order to be illegal. Second, on election day, there were numerous unexplained anomalies and irregularities involving hundreds of thousands of votes that have yet to be accounted for. There were 93,000 spoiled ballots where no vote was cast for president, the vast majority of which have yet to be inspected.
A review of election results in 10 counties nationwide by the Scripps Howard News Service found more than 12,000 ballots that weren't counted in the presidential race, almost one in every 10 ballots cast in those counties. When the mistakes were pointed out to local officials, some were chagrined; others said they didn't want to be bothered correcting mistakes.
Voters in Utah County had more than a one in five chance that their ballots did not get counted in the initial, unofficial tally from Election Day. A programming glitch in the punch-card counter dropped 33,000 ballots from the totals - all of them straight-party ballots. That was more than 22 percent of the 145,769 ballots cast in the Republican stronghold. "The card readers were fine; it was just the way it was programmed initially," Utah County elections coordinator Kristen Swensen said Friday. "It was just off by one letter."
A hand recount of ballots cast using optical scanning technology gave a Democrat enough extra votes to bump a Republican from victory in a county commissioner's race. The erroneous tally was caused when the Fidlar Election Co. scanning system recorded straight-Democratic Party votes as votes for Libertarians in southeastern Indiana's Franklin County.
Note: How many cases like this go unnoticed?
In Baker County, Fla...there are 12,887 registered voters: 69.3 percent are Democrats, 24.3 percent are Republicans. Yet 2,180 of county residents voted for Kerry while 7,738 voted for Bush -- the opposite of what some election critics say was the typically pattern elsewhere in the United States. In Florida's Dixie County...77.5 percent of the 4,988 registered voters are Democrats, 15 percent are Republicans. On Election Day, Bush carried the county with 4,433 votes vs. 1,959 for Kerry. Nationally, few outlets have pursued the story of what happened in Baker and Dixie.
Officials in Franklin County — which includes state capital Columbus — acknowledged that they may have improperly counted votes for Bush because of a touch-screen voting system malfunction. A precinct in the county reported that a 4,000-vote margin won by Bush appeared to exceed the number of registered voters.”
Note: How many cases like this go unnoticed? How can we trust our elections to unreliable machines?
Note: The best reporting by far in the mainstream media of the 2004 election was by MSNBC's news anchor Keith Olbermann. Both on TV and on his blog, Mr. Olbermann asked the tough questions. He even asked why other major media weren't reporting
many of these crucial stories. His most excellent blog gave continual
updates of developments in the elections scandals. Here are a few key
quotes from three of the entries there:
Nov. 7, 6:55 p.m: Officials in Warren County, Ohio, "locked down" its administration building to prevent anybody from observing the vote count there....Emergency Services Director Frank Young explained that he had been advised by the federal government to implement the measures for the sake of Homeland Security. The majority of the media has yet to touch the other stories of Ohio or huge margins for Bush in Florida counties in which registered Democrats outnumber registered Republicans 2-1.
Nov. 9, 12:55 a.m: ...the remarkable results out of Cuyahoga County, Ohio. In 29 precincts there, the County's website shows, we had the most unexpected results in years: more votes than voters. I'll repeat that: more votes than voters. 93,000 more votes than voters. [more on this below]
November 10, 12:43 p.m: The computerized balloting in North Carolina is so thoroughly messed up that all state-wide voting may be thrown out and a second election day scheduled.
Dec. 2, 8:13 p.m.: We are not only busting our humps on the voting irregularities beat, but we remain the only mainstream news organization to continue to cover this vital story.
Note: Click below to watch 16 minutes of the excellent MSNBC news program broadcast nationally on November 11th covering this topic. Note that it may take several minutes to download. You must have installed either QuickTime (QT) or Windows Media. For dial-up connections, use the 56K option.
http://websrvr20.audiovideoweb.com/avwebdswebsrvr2143/news_video/5.countdown_300k.mov (QT high speed)
http://websrvr20.audiovideoweb.com/avwebdswebsrvr2143/news_video/5.countdown_56k.mov (QT 56K)
http://win20ca.audiovideoweb.com/ca20win15004/5.countdown_300k.wmv (Windows Media high speed)
http://win20ca.audiovideoweb.com/ca20win15004/5.countdown_56k.wmv (Windows Media 56K)
In Florida's counties using results from optically scanned paper ballots - fed into a central tabulator PC and thus vulnerable to hacking - the results seem to contain substantial anomalies. In Baker County, for example, with 12,887 registered voters, 69.3% of them Democrats and 24.3% of them Republicans, the vote was only 2,180 for Kerry and 7,738 for Bush, the opposite of what is seen everywhere else in the country where registered Democrats largely voted for Kerry. In Dixie County, with 4,988 registered voters, 77.5% of them Democrats and a mere 15% registered as Republicans, only 1,959 people voted for Kerry, but 4,433 voted for Bush. The pattern repeats over and over again - but only in the counties where optical scanners were used.
The vote counting was marred in several places by computer glitches. The most serious appears to be in Ohio, which provided Bush with his decisive margin. Election officials in Franklin County, in the Columbus area, said yesterday that a computer error gave Bush 3,893 extra votes in one precinct. Bush actually received 365 votes in the precinct out of 638 votes cast. It was not clear whether Ohio experienced any other problems with electronic ballots. About 30 percent of the voters in the state voted electronically. In one North Carolina county, more than 4,500 votes were lost because officials misjudged the amount of data that could be stored electronically by a computer.
An error with an electronic voting system gave President Bush 3,893 extra votes in suburban Columbus, elections officials said. Franklin County's unofficial results had Bush receiving 4,258 votes to Democrat John Kerry's 260 votes in a precinct in Gahanna. Records show only 638 voters cast ballots in that precinct. In one North Carolina county, more than 4,500 votes were lost because officials mistakenly believed a computer that stored ballots electronically could hold more data than it did. And in San Francisco, a malfunction with custom voting software could delay efforts to declare the winners of four races for county supervisor. In the Ohio precinct in question, the votes are recorded onto a cartridge. On one of the three machines at that precinct, a malfunction occurred in the recording process, Damschroder said. He could not explain how the malfunction occurred. Damschroder said people who had seen poll results on the election board's Web site called to point out the discrepancy. The reader also recorded zero votes in a county commissioner race on the machine.
A North Carolina newspaper reports that "a systems software glitch in Craven County's electronic voting equipment is being blamed for a vote miscount that ... swelled the number of votes for president here by 11,283 more votes than the total number cast.
Early Thursday, as Broward County elections officials wrapped up after a long day of canvassing votes, something unusual caught their eye. Tallies should go up as more votes are counted. That's simple math. But in some races, the numbers had gone down. Officials found the software used in Broward can handle only 32,000 votes per precinct. After that, the system starts counting backward."
Thousands of new votes on some constitutional amendment questions were discovered early Thursday, potentially forcing a recount on the question of a South Florida vote on slot machines. As absentee ballot counting wound down after midnight in Broward County's elections warehouse, attorneys scrutinizing the close vote on Amendment Four noticed that vote totals changed in an unexpected way after 13,000 final ballots were counted. Election officials quickly determined the problem was caused by the Unity Software that pulls together votes from five machines tabulating absentee ballots. Because no precinct has more than 32,000 voters, the software caps the total votes at that number. From there, it begins to count backward. The glitch was discovered two years ago, and should have been corrected by software manufacturer ES&S of Omaha, Neb., according to Broward County Mayor Ilene Lieberman. "I was so angry last night," Lieberman said. She spoke to representatives from ES&S early Thursday morning, and later was having a spirited telephone conversation with Secretary of State Glenda Hood.
Sarpy County election officials are trying to figure out how they ended up with more votes than voters in the general election. Sarpy County borrowed the election equipment from Omaha-based Election Systems & Software. Its employees operated the machines that are now double-checking the ballots. No one is sure exactly what went wrong.
Note: What the article fails to mention is that with no paper trail, there is not way to know what happened. How is it possible we let our elections use machines that could not be audited or verified?
In LaPorte County, Indiana, a Democratic stronghold, electronic voting machines decided that each precinct only had 300 voters. "At about 7 p.m. Tuesday," according to this report, "it was noticed that the first two or three printouts from individual precinct reports all listed an identical number of voters. Each precinct was listed as having 300 registered voters. That means the total number of voters for the county would be 22,200, although there are more than 79,000 registered voters.
Voters nationwide reported some 1,100 problems with electronic voting machines on Tuesday, including trouble choosing their intended candidates. There were also several dozen voters in six states...who said the wrong candidates appeared on their touch-screen machine's checkout screen. In many cases, voters said they intended to select John Kerry...but when the computer asked them to verify the choice it showed them instead opting for President Bush. The reports did highlight computer scientists' concerns about touch screens, which they say are prone to tampering and unreliable unless they produce paper records for recounts. Roberta Harvey, 57, of Clearwater, Fla., said she had tried at least a half dozen times to select Kerry-Edwards when she voted Tuesday at Northwood Presbyterian Church. After 10 minutes trying to change her selection, the Pinellas County resident said she called a poll worker and got a wet-wipe napkin to clean the touch screen as well as a pencil so she could use its eraser-end instead of her finger. Harvey said it took about 10 attempts to select Kerry before and a summary screen confirmed her intended selection. The Election Protection Coalition received a total of 32 reports of touch-screen voters who selected one candidate only to have another show up on the summary screen, Cindy Cohn, legal director of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a coalition member.
Concern over electronic voting technology was not assuaged Tuesday as glitches, confusion and human error raised a welter of problems across the country. Nearly one in three voters, including about half of those in Florida, were expected to cast ballots using ATM-style voting machines that computer scientists have criticized for their potential for software glitches, hacking and malfunctioning. In Volusia County, Fla., a memory card in an optical-scan voting machine failed Monday at an early voting site and didn't count 13,000 ballots. Most of the ATM-style machines, including all of Florida's, lack paper records that could be used to verify the electronic results in a recount. The Electronic Frontier Foundation's VerifiedVoting.org, which has been monitoring the implementation of e-voting machines in the U.S., warned on Monday that over 20 percent of the machines tested by observers around the country failed to record votes properly. "A request filed in King County, Washington...uncovered an internal audit log containing a three-hour deletion on election night; 'trouble slips' revealing suspicious modem activity; and profound problems with security, including accidental disclosure of critically sensitive remote access information to poll workers, office personnel, and even, in a shocking blunder, to Black Box Voting activists."
A team of former National Security Agency (NSA) computer experts conducted a weeklong exercise with six Diebold machines and a server. According to team leader Michael Wertheimer, the group uncovered "considerable security risks." They found that the smart cards used to provide supervisors with access to the machines could be easily hacked; the removable media containing voting information was protected by flimsy locks that the team picked in under a minute using bent paper clips. The paper clips weren't even necessary, since all 32,000 keys supplied by Diebold for the machines are identical, allowing any key to open all of the machines. On the software side, the most glaring weakness was in election headquarters servers: Dell PCs ran the Windows 2000 operating system without Microsoft's security upgrade patches, which left servers susceptible to viruses and worms, enabling a remote attacker to tamper with election systems by phone.
In South Carolina, officials bought machines too late for adequate testing. And on many of their onscreen ballots, the presidential contest included names of candidates from local elections. Several Texas counties are thousands of votes short because a bug in the software failed to record Spanish-language ballots. For hundreds of thousands of votes, there will be no paper record at all. In Colorado, a group of hackers is boasting that they stole a box of electronic smartcards used to activate e-voting machines and reprogrammed them to allow multiple votes, just for fun. In virtually every state, officials failed to invite outside technical experts to participate in the process of e-voting machine selection. Because none of the major vendors of e-voting machines release their code for security testing, states and counties are forced to trust vendors' own assessments of their machines' reliability.
According to the official website of the Secretary of State, the state of Wyoming produced a strange miracle by turning out 106% of registered voters for the 2004 elections! The percentage of registered voters who turn out to vote has been rising rapidly over the last 10 years. Could this have anything to do with the increase in electronic voting machines and the accompanying increased ease of elections fraud?
Two strange deaths dramatically changed the balance of power in U.S. government for two recent years. Democratic Senate candidate Mel Carnahan died in a private plane crash on Oct. 16, 2000, just three weeks before the 2000 elections. Mr. Carnahan went on to win the race as a dead man against his rival John Ashcroft. Carnahan's wife was appointed to fill his position, but as she was appointed rather than elected, her Senate term was limited to two years rather than the normal six. She lost her 2002 race to her Republican opponent. On Oct. 24, 2002, just two weeks before the 2002 elections, Democratic Senate candidate Paul Wellstone was killed in a plane crash. His wife died with him. Wellstone had been projected to win the election. There are many suspicious circumstances surrounding Wellstone's death. Isn't it quite a coincidence that these two Democratic candidates both died in plane crashes only two years apart, both just weeks before the elections? It's even more of a coincidence that both were very progressive Democrats. Wellstone was often labeled the most progressive member of Senate.
Some of electronic voting's loudest defenders have been state and local election officials. Many of those same officials have financial ties to voting machine companies. Former secretaries of state from Florida and Georgia have signed on as lobbyists for Election Systems and Software and Diebold Election Systems. When Bill Jones left office as California's secretary of state in 2003, he quickly became a consultant to Sequoia Voting Systems. His assistant secretary of state took a full-time job there. The list goes on. Even while in office, many election officials are happy to accept voting machine companies' largess. Forty-three percent of the budget of the National Association of Secretaries of State comes from voting machine companies and other vendors. State governments in a growing number of states...have pushed through much-needed laws that require electronic voting machines to produce paper records. But these groups have faced intense opposition from election officials [who] argued that voter-verifiable paper trails...are impractical. While they may sincerely think that electronic voting machines are so trustworthy that there is no need for a paper record of votes, their views have to be regarded with suspicion until their conflicts are addressed.
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."
This fall, 30 percent of us will cast our votes by touching a screen on a computerized voting machines. The good news is, these machines don't have any of the problems of paper ballots. The bad news is, they may have much worse problems all their own. [California] Secretary of State Kevin Shelley: "There was a wholesale breakdown in the election last March in...San Diego. Untold thousands of individuals were turned away and denied their right to vote because the voting equipment couldn't start." So many of the machines malfunctioned or ran unapproved software that Shelley took the extraordinary step of decertifying them. Then there's the software worry. Avi Rubin, a computer-science professor at Johns Hopkins University, spent two weeks analyzing the software from the world's biggest voting-machine company, Diebold Election Systems, which has over 50 percent of the market. "We found all kinds of problems in the code," he said. "Upon looking at the source code for Diebold, it was pretty clear that this was a real amateur job. The concern I have is that those machines will be programmed from the start to favor one candidate over another," says Rubin. A Diebold plot to rig the elections? Where did that idea come from? The rumors began with this letter from Diebold's CEO, Wally Odell, who was moonlighting as a Republican fundraiser. In his invitation to a benefit for Bush last August, he wrote, "I am committed to helping Ohio deliver its electoral votes to the president." But Rubin says he is not accusing Diebold of rigging elections. "I'm just saying that they could do it and that we shouldn't allow our elections to be under control of vendors when there are ways of designing voting machines such that the vendors don't have the control of them."
Two convicted felons' roles in running elections in King County have raised new questions about the adequacy of safeguards to protect the integrity of elections. County election officials were unaware of convicted embezzler Jeffrey W. Dean's criminal background when he was named in 1999 to lead an outside team that would design a computer system for managing elections. Dean, who used his computer savvy to cover up his embezzlement of $465,341 from a Seattle law firm in the 1980s, was given keys to the election offices on the fifth floor of the King County Administration Building. And he had unrestricted access to the elections office's high-security computer room where votes are tallied. Dean, 60, has not been involved in King County elections since 2002, but John L. Elder, 48, a convicted drug dealer who was imprisoned with Dean at the Cedar Creek Corrections Center and worked with Dean on county contracts, supervises the printing of ballots and the sorting and mailing of absentee ballots. Dean...put his computer expertise and his election savvy to work when Global Election Systems asked him for help. Dean, whose family business, Spectrum Print and Mail Services had been doing printing and mailing for King County elections for several years, was familiar with the county's voter-registration data. In 1988 [a] law firm confronted Dean over accounting discrepancies. According to Barry Wolf, a partner in the now-defunct Culp firm...Dean disguised his thefts by altering computer records. Dean was [later] appointed to the Global board of directors and named senior vice president with an annual salary of $144,000. When Diebold completed its purchase of Global in January 2002, Diebold reviewed employees' backgrounds and learned of Dean's and Elder's convictions. Dean lost his job but stayed on as a consultant on the Voter View project. Diebold Election Systems marketing director Mark Radke said Dean left the company because he wasn't needed. Radke declined to say whether Dean's criminal past played a role in his departure.
Concerned citizens have been warning that new electronic voting technology being rolled out nationwide can be used to steal elections. Now there is proof. When the State of Maryland hired a computer security firm to test its new machines, these paid hackers had little trouble casting multiple votes and taking over the machines' vote-recording mechanisms. Computer-security experts [who tried] to foil the safeguards and interfere with an election...were disturbingly successful. It was an "easy matter," they reported, to reprogram the access cards used by voters and vote multiple times. They were able to attach a keyboard to a voting terminal and change its vote count. And...they were able to change votes from a remote location. The Maryland study shows convincingly that more security is needed for electronic voting, starting with voter-verified paper trails. Maryland's 16,000 machines all have identical locks on two sensitive mechanisms, which can be opened by any one of 32,000 keys. The security team had no trouble making duplicates...although that proved unnecessary since one team member picked the lock in "approximately 10 seconds." Diebold, the machines' manufacturer, rushed to issue a self-congratulatory press release with the headline "Maryland Security Study Validates Diebold Election Systems Equipment." The study's authors were shocked to see their findings spun so positively. In Boone County, Ind., last fall...an electronic system initially recorded more than 144,000 votes in an election with fewer than 19,000 registered voters. Given the growing body of evidence, it is clear that electronic voting machines cannot be trusted until more safeguards are in place.
Note: How is Diebold able to brag about its success when the tests clearly fairled.Why didn't this news make front page headlines?
Diebold, Inc. is one of the largest distributors of electronic voting machines. There are no proven cases of fraud or miscounting with Diebold machines as yet. However...these systems provide no "barometer for judging accuracy," says computer science professor Edward Felten. He contends that since all tallying takes place inside the system, voters have no way of knowing if their vote was truly registered. "A programmer could put malicious code in the software, or there could be a bug." On July 30, Diebold agreed. The company posted on their homepage that "a combination of malevolent insiders and unscrupulous voters could tamper with [election] results." But company spokespeople say any machines would be susceptible to that level of fraud. Therefore, they say, their technology can not be expected to guard against it. Diebold has used copyright laws to quash internal memos and e-mails admitting to security flaws and refuses to make their voting machine software code available for independent inspection. Ina Fairfax, Va. school board election. Some voters noticed "when they pushed the button for a given candidate an X would appear over the candidate's name and then later disappear," Felten said. After testing, it was found that about 10 percent of votes were being invisibly dropped. And, according to an Associated Press story published in December, Diebold's staff might include characters willing to engage in malicious actions. Jeffrey Dean, a chief programmer for the company, has spent time in a Washington, D.C., jail for embezzlement and tampering with computer files.
At least five convicted felons secured management positions at a manufacturer of electronic voting machines, according to critics demanding more stringent background checks for people responsible for voting machine software. Voter advocate Bev Harris alleged Tuesday that managers of a subsidiary of Diebold Inc., one of the country's largest voting equipment vendors, included a cocaine trafficker, a man who conducted fraudulent stock transactions, and a programmer jailed for falsifying computer records. The programmer, Jeffrey Dean, wrote and maintained proprietary code used to count hundreds of thousands of votes as senior vice president of Global Election Systems Inc. Diebold purchased GES in January 2002. According to a public court document released before GES hired him, Dean served time in a Washington correctional facility for stealing money and tampering with computer files in a scheme that "involved a high degree of sophistication and planning." The former GES is Diebold's wholly owned subsidiary, Global Election Management Systems, which produces the operating system that touch-screen voting terminals use. Computer programmers say software bugs, hackers or electrical outages could cause more than 50,000 touch-screen machines used in precincts nationwide to delete or alter votes.
Note: Why was this not reported in the top media in front page headlines?
In mid-August 2003, Walden W. O'Dell, the chief executive of Diebold, wrote a letter inviting 100 wealthy friends to a fund-raiser at his home in a suburb of Columbus, Ohio. He wrote, "I am committed to helping Ohio deliver its electoral votes to the president next year." A longtime Republican, he is a member of President Bush's "Rangers and Pioneers," an elite group of loyalists who have raised at least $100,000 each for the 2004 race. Through Diebold Election Systems, Mr. O'Dell's company is among the country's biggest suppliers of paperless, touch-screen voting machines.
Note: This Nov. 2003 article became pay for view only shortly after the 2004 elections. For lots more reliable, verifiable information on various aspects of the elections cover-up, see our Elections Information Center at http://www.WantToKnow.info/electionsinformation.
The software that runs many high-tech voting machines contains serious flaws that would allow voters to cast extra votes and permit poll workers to alter ballots without being detected, computer security researchers said. "We found some stunning, stunning flaws," said Aviel D. Rubin, technical director of the Information Security Institute at Johns Hopkins University, who led a team. Diebold Election Systems...has about 33,000 voting machines operating in the United States. The systems...could be tricked by anyone with $100 worth of computer equipment, said Adam Stubblefield, a co-author of the paper. "Practically anyone in the country -- from a teenager on up -- could produce these smart cards that could allow someone to vote as many times as they like." The list of flaws in the Diebold software is long, according to the paper, which is online at avirubin.com/vote.pdf. Ballots could be altered by anyone with access to a machine, so that a voter might think he is casting a ballot for one candidate while the vote is recorded for an opponent. Douglas W. Jones, an associate professor of computer science at the University of Iowa, said he was shocked to discover flaws cited in Mr. Rubin's paper that he had mentioned to the system's developers about five years ago. "That such flaws have not been corrected in half a decade is awful." Peter G. Neumann, an expert in computer security at SRI International, said the Diebold code was "just the tip of the iceberg" of problems with electronic voting.
Note: Why wasn't this front page headlines in all media?
We are coming into Tallahassee. A very expensive contract between Governor Jeb [Bush]'s division of elections and a private company named DBT...accidentally wiped off the voter rolls thousands of Democratic voters. [We're on the] 18th floor division of elections. We have come to ask Mr Clayton Roberts, the director, a few questions. "It says here in the contract that the verification is supposed to be done by DBT. That you paid them $4 million. It could look to others don't you think that you paid $4 million to purchase this election for the Republican party. 95% wrong on the felon list. Mr Roberts, could you answer the question regarding the contract?" Instead, Mr Roberts called out State troopers. The difficult questions are: Did Governor Jeb Bush, his Secretary of State Katherine Harris, and her Director of Elections, Clayton Roberts, know they had wrongly barred 22,000 black, Democrat voters before the elections? After the elections did they use their powers to prevent the count of 20,000 votes for the Democrats? CAMPAIGNER: "Were people taken out of polls and stopped from voting? Yes, I think that was not right." Altogether, it looks like this cost the Democrats about 22,000 votes in Florida, which George Bush won by only 537 votes. In all, Palm Beach voting machines misread 27,000 ballots. Jeb Bush's Secretary of State, Katharine Harris, stopped them counting these votes by hand.
Note: You can watch a video of this and much more fascinating information at the BBC link above. To read a brief summary of BBC reporter Greg Palast's coverage of the 2000 election results in Floriday, see http://www.WantToKnow.info/massmedia#palast. And why wasn't this incredibly vital information reported in any of the American media?
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