Friday, December 24, 2004

New York Times Gives Front-Page Coverage to Ohio Voting Problems

Voting Problems in Ohio Spur Call for Overhaul
By JAMES DAO, FORD FESSENDEN
and TOM ZELLER Jr.

New York Times, December 24, 2004

COLUMBUS, Ohio, Dec. 22 - William Shambora, 53, is the kind of diligent voter who once assumed that his ballot always counted. He got a rude awakening this year.

Mr. Shambora, an economics professor at Ohio University, moved during the summer but failed to notify the Athens County Board of Elections until the day before the presidential election. An official told him to use a provisional ballot.

But under Ohio law, provisional ballots are valid only when cast from a voter's correct precinct. Mr. Shambora was given a ballot for the wrong precinct, a fact he did not learn until after the election. Two weeks later, the board discarded his vote, adding him to a list of more than 300 provisional ballots that were rejected in that heavily Democratic county.

"It seems like such a confused system," said Mr. Shambora, a John Kerry supporter who blames himself for the mistake. "Maybe if enough people's votes had counted, the election might have turned out differently."

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Conyers Requests Raw Exit Poll Data from Networks

From Raw Story:

The following letter [shown at Raw Story], issued by Rep. John Conyers, Jr. (D-Mich), calls on the five major television networks and the Associated Press to release the raw exit poll data from the 2004 presidential election. The letter below, acquired by RAW STORY late this afternoon, is a facsimile; the congressman's office said an actual image of the letter will not be released until Wednesday.

The letter was sent to: Anne Sweeney, Co-Chairman, Media Networks, The Walt Disney Company and President, Disney-ABC Television Group; Bob Wright, President, NBC; Gail Berman, President, FOX; Jim Walton President, CNN; Thomas Curley, President, Associated Press; and Andrew Heyward, President, CBS.

"As you are aware, the American citizenry has voiced a collective lack of faith in government to carry out fair election procedures," Conyers writes. "It is important that the Judiciary Committee access raw voter poll data so that discrepancies between those numbers and certified election results can be investigated...Without the raw data, the Committee will be severely handicapped in its efforts to show the need for serious election reform in the United States."

...

Monday, December 20, 2004

U Chicago Statistician finds US Vote Results at Odds with Exit Polls

The United States of Ukraine?: Exit Polls Leave Little Doubt that in a Free and Fair Election John Kerry Would Have Won both the Electoral College and the Popular Vote
by Ron Baiman
December 19, 2004

reported in The Free Press, and originally noted at Cannonfire.

from the report's conclusion:

These unexplained statistical anomalies in the vote count in critical states, such as Ohio, Florida, and Pennsylvania, and in the national popular vote for the 2004 Presidential elections, indicate:

a) Implausibly erroneous exit sampling especially for the national sample and forthe most critical states where one would have expected pollsters to be most careful, and/or

b) Election fraud and/or discriminatory voter suppression that resulted in a in an election result in Ohio, Florida, and other states, and in the nationalpopular vote outcome, that is contrary to what would have occurred in a free and fair election.

I conclude that, based on the best exit sample data currently available, neither the national popular vote, or many of the certified state election results, are credible and should not be regarded as a true reflection of the intent of national electorate, or of many state voters, until a complete and thorough investigation of the possibilities a) and b) above is completed.

An election that is not “free” because of discriminatory suppression of the vote by not supplying an adequate number of voting machines, or by other means, could lead to an exit sampling discrepancy, as exit sampling is in part based on historic patterns of voterturnout. However the actual outcome in such an election would not be free or fair and would be less reflective of voter intent than exit sampling. Analysis of raw precinct levelexit samples (which so far have not been released) should shed some light on where and when changes in the weights for raw precinct numbers, necessary to get state samples,were made.

This raises the more general question of what form of vote counting is more reliable.Vote counting that is overseen by a highly partisan Secretary of State with a clear vested interest in the outcome with election equipment that leaves no audible paper trail and/orcentral tabulating equipment that has been shown to easily hacked, or vote counting by exit sampling firms whose major vested interest is in getting the prediction right.13 These“unfair” elections in the U.S. mirror the situation in the Ukraine where one party controlled the collection and tabulation of the vote. At a minimum one would havethought that the oldest democracy in the world would implement its elections with unbiased civil servants and a uniform code of regulations. “Neutral” electionimplementation was a key demand of the Ukrainian opposition.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Berkeley City Council Announces Call for Investigation into Election 2004 Irregularities

Berkeley Pries Open Votergate, Calls for Immediate U.S. Election Investigation

The day after electors cast votes at state capitols nationwide, at the regular meeting of the Berkeley City Council, half the public speakers expressed concern for democracy, given problems on Nov. 2 including minority and student vote suppression.

Berkeley, CA (PRWEB) December 16, 2004 -- The day after electors cast votes at state capitols nationwide, at the regular meeting of the Berkeley City Council, half the public speakers expressed concern for democracy, given problems on Nov. 2 including minority and student vote suppression. By unanimous consent, the Berkeley City Council adopted the "Resolution Supporting the Request that the Government Accountability Office Immediately Undertake an Investigation of Voting Irregularities in the 2004 Elections." Drafted by Berkeley's Peace and Justice Commission, the Resolution also lists 17 measures to improve elections.

Outgoing Vice Mayor and civil rights champion Maudelle Shirek agrees with District 3's newly elected Max Anderson that, "It's extremely important for the foundations of our democracy that every citizen's vote is counted. Fraud or manipulation, whether not counting votes or suppression of voters, should be of vital concern to all."

Councilmember Kriss Worthington added, "Politically, technologically and bureaucratically, undemocratic forces have stopped America from counting every vote. We must demand justice for purged voters, provisional voters and discouraged voters forced to stand in line for hours. As the United States risks our soldiers' lives to invade Iraq to 'spread democracy' it is tragically incomplete at home."

...

Home of the free speech movement, Berkeley often tackles injustices. After hearing the citizens speak at the Tuesday night meeting, Mayor Tom Bates proclaimed, "Nothing is more fundamental than a free, fair election. When you start tinkering with that, it throws the whole system into disarray. I am pleased that we are taking this stand." The City Council then adopted, by unanimous consent, the "Resolution Supporting the Request that the GAO Immediately Undertake an Investigation of Voting Irregularities in the 2004 Elections." It is posted on the web at www.berkeleyresolution.blogspot.com.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Election 2004 Voting Irregularities Covered (not mocked) by New York Times & Washington Post

Lawmaker Seeks Inquiry Into Ohio Vote
By TOM ZELLER Jr., December 15, 2004
New York Times

The ranking Democratic member of the House Judiciary Committee, Representative John Conyers Jr. of Michigan, plans to ask the Federal Bureau of Investigation and a county prosecutor in Ohio today to explore "inappropriate and likely illegal election tampering" in at least one and perhaps several Ohio counties.

The request for an investigation, made in a letter that was also provided to The New York Times, includes accounts from at least two county employees, but is based largely on a sworn affidavit provided by the Hocking County deputy director of elections, Sherole Eaton.

Among other things, Ms. Eaton says in her affidavit that a representative of Triad Governmental Systems, the Ohio firm that created and maintains the vote-counting software in dozens of Ohio counties, made several adjustments to the Hocking County tabulator last Friday, in advance of the state's recount, which is taking place this week.

...


Several Factors Contributed to 'Lost' Voters in Ohio
By Michael Powell and Peter Slevin, December 15, 2004
Washington Post

...

Electoral problems prevented many thousands of Ohioans from voting on Nov. 2. In Columbus, bipartisan estimates say that 5,000 to 15,000 frustrated voters turned away without casting ballots. It is unlikely that such "lost" voters would have changed the election result -- Ohio tipped to President Bush by a 118,000-vote margin and cemented his electoral college majority.

But similar problems occurred across the state and fueled protest marches and demands for a recount. The foul-ups appeared particularly acute in Democratic-leaning districts, according to interviews with voters, poll workers, election observers and election board and party officials, as well as an examination of precinct voting patterns in several cities.

In Cleveland, poorly trained poll workers apparently gave faulty instructions to voters that led to the disqualification of thousands of provisional ballots and misdirected several hundred votes to third-party candidates. In Youngstown, 25 electronic machines transferred an unknown number of votes for Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) to the Bush column.

In Columbus, Cincinnati and Toledo, and on college campuses, election officials allocated far too few voting machines to busy precincts, with the result that voters stood on line as long as 10 hours -- many leaving without voting. Some longtime voters discovered their registrations had been purged.

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Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Witness says Voting Company Tampered with Machines

Witness says voting company tampered with machines after vote and tried to plant false information into Ohio recount

Green says voting company tampered with recount effort

By John Byrne | RAW STORY Editor

David Cobb, the unsuccessful Green Party presidential candidate, aired startling allegations at the Democratic House Judiciary Committee’s Columbus hearings Monday, alleging that a voting company representative tampered with voting equipment in Columbus last Friday and attempted to plant false information into the Ohio recount.

Cobb says that a witness who had requested anonymity watched a representative of Triad Systems enter the Columbus Board of Elections unannounced and tamper with a vote tabulator which then lost all data.

The representative then, Cobb said, tried to convince employees to post false information so that it would appear as if the data was valid and had never been lost.

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Sunday, December 12, 2004

Zogby Poll: 42.5% said Concerns about Voting Irregularties were Valid

From Cannonfire

A Zogby poll recently addressed the question of whether "problems" with vote counting affected the outcome. 42.5% replied that these concerns were either "very valid" or "somewhat valid." That's a high number, considering the dismissive coverage in the mainstream media, and even in the progressive news organs. Let's keep up the fight!

Ohioans Protest its Electoral College's Intention to Cast its Vote before Recount is Complete

Associated Press, seen at Raw Story

Dissidents protest Monday's Electoral College vote in key swing state Ohio
Sunday December 12, 2004

By JOHN McCARTHY
Associated Press Writer

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) As it has done for 200 years, Ohio's delegation to the Electoral College is to meet Monday to cast ballots for president and vice president but this time, there are demands that the electors wait until after a recount.

The Electoral College's vote in the Ohio Senate chamber is expected to be accompanied by demonstrations outside the Capitol sponsored by groups who don't accept that President Bush won the key swing state by 119,000 votes, guaranteeing his victory over Democrat John Kerry.

A demonstration was held Sunday as about 100 people gathered outside the Ohio Statehouse to protest the delegation's vote.

Led by a coalition representing the Green and Libertarian parties, the dissidents are paying for recounts in each of Ohio's 88 counties that will begin this week. The recount is not expected to be complete until next week.

``John Kerry conceded so early in the process that it's maddening,'' said Kat L'Estrange of We Do Not Concede, an activist group born after the election that believes Kerry was the real winner in Ohio and nationally.

Saturday, December 11, 2004

Conyers (R-MI) Leads Congressional Hearings on Voting Irregularities

Doubts Persist About Election Results

By RACHEL KONRAD, Associated Press
Fri Dec 10, 5:57 PM ET

As the Electoral College prepares to certify President Bush's re-election on Monday, concerns persist about the integrity of the nation's voting system — particularly in Ohio, where details continue to emerge of technology failures, voter confusion and overcrowded polling stations in minority and poor neighborhoods.

Few mainstream politicians dispute Bush's victory, and the incumbent's 3.5 million-vote margin nationwide was wider than any of the reported problems, which included insufficient or incomplete provisional ballots and, in some places, brazen partisan shenanigans.

But that is not stopping a disparate assortment of personalities — prominent among them Democratic congressman John Conyers Jr. of Michigan, the Rev. Jesse Jackson and presidential candidates of the Green and Libertarian parties — from questioning the accuracy of certified results and demanding investigations.

Of greatest concern is the extent of disenfranchisement in the critical swing state of Ohio, whose 20 electoral votes guaranteed Bush's victory.

"It's critical that we investigate and understand any and every voting irregularity anywhere in our country, not because it would change the outcome of the election but because Americans have to believe that their votes are counted in our democracy," John Kerry said this week, after calling for a statewide recount in Ohio.

The nation's voting system, despite improvements since the 2000 Florida fiasco, remains a locally administered patchwork whose lack of national uniformity distinguishes the United States from many other democracies.

Although most complaints have come from Democrats and the third-party candidates, Republicans and bipartisan groups acknowledge problems. The Government Accountability Office is investigating election problems. Rep. Bob Ney, R-Ohio and chairman of the House Administration Committee, will oversee an inquiry next year.

The U.S. Election Assistance Commission, created in 2002, is also scrutinizing the outcome. It plans to publish in January the government's first report on the voting, which will serve as the basis for congressional recommendations and reforms.

"We definitely did not have a glitch-free election," said EAC chairman DeForest Soaries Jr., a Bush appointee.

Rev. Jackson and other activists want wholesale changes in the U.S. voting process, ideally before the 2006 midterm elections. Jackson says the most distressing problem appears to be the lack of nationwide standards. No federal agency enforces regulations when states or counties fail to comply with internal procedures.

Without national standards, he said, some poor counties have inferior equipment and insufficient numbers of voting machines to support dense populations.

...

Conyers, the top Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, began examining Ohio's problems in a hearing this past week attended by eight Democratic lawmakers.

Among his concerns was that voters in urban, minority and Democratic precincts waited in lines up to eight hours — even though in Youngstown, election administrators had extra voting terminals stored in a warehouse. Conyers also charged that a "campaign of deception" directed some Democrats to wrong polling places, where they were forced to cast provisional ballots.

Last week, Conyers sent a letter to Blackwell asking him to cooperate in a Democratic investigation of "substantial irregularities" in Ohio, which certified a 119,000-vote margin for Bush. That is some 17,000 votes fewer than Blackwell's original estimate of 136,00

...

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Raw Election 2004 Exit Poll Data Will Not be Released

Cannonfire reports:

Warren Mitofsky, who ran the exit polls that arched many a skeptical eyebrow, will not appear at the House Judiciary Committee hearing. Worse, he will not make his raw data available. His claim: Said data is "proprietary information."

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Programmer Built Vote Rigging Prototype at Republican Congressman's Request

Brad Blog reports on an addavit from a programmer who helped rig the election:

WHISTLEBLOWER AFFIDAVIT: Programmer Built Vote Rigging Prototype at Republican Congressman's Request

CLAIM: Rep. Tom Feeney (R-FL) Asked Company to Create E-Vote Fraud Software

In stunning revelations set to rock the vote from Tallahassee to Capitol Hill -- and perhaps even a bit further up Pennsylvania Avenue -- a Florida computer programmer has now made remarkable claims in a detailed sworn affidavit, signed this morning and obtained exclusively by The BRAD BLOG!

- Affidavit in .PDF format at Brad Blog

The programmer claims that he designed and built a "vote rigging" software program at the behest of then Florida Congressman, now U.S. Congressman, Republican Tom Feeney of Florida's 24th Congressional District.

Clint Curtis, 46, claims that he built the software for Feeney in 2000 while working at a sofware design and engineering company in Oviedo, Florida (Feeney's home district).

Curtis, in his affidavit, says that as technical advisor and programmer at Yang Enterprises, Inc. (YEI) he was present at company meetings where Feeney was present "on at least a dozen occasions".

Feeney, who had run in 1994 as Jeb Bush's running-mate in his initial unsuccessful bid for Florida Governor, was serving as both corporate counsel and registered lobbyist for YEI during the period that Curtis worked at the company. Feeney was also concurrently serving as a Florida state congressman while performing those services for YEI. Feeney would eventually become Speaker of the Florida House before being elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2002. He is now a member of the U.S. House Judiciary Committee.

At an October 2000 meeting with Feeney, according to the affidavit and BRAD BLOG interviews with Curtis over the past three days, Feeney inquired whether the company could build a "vote fraud software prototype".

At least three YEI employees are said to have been present at that meeting; Curtis, company owner, Mrs. Li Woan Yang, and her executive secretary, Mike Cohen. Two other YEI employees may have come in and out at different points of the meeting according to Curtis.

Curtis says that Feeney "was very specific in the design and specifications required for this program. "He detailed, in his own words, that; (a) the program needed to be touch-screen capable (b) the user should be able to trigger the program without any additional equipment (c) the programming to accomplish this needed to stay hidden even if the source code was inspected."

Though there was no problem with the first two requirements, Curtis explained to the Congressman that it would be "virtually impossible to hide such code written to change the voting results if anyone is able to review the uncompiled source code"Nonetheless, he was asked at the meeting by Mrs. Yang to build the prototype anyway.

Curtis, "a life-long Republican" at the time, claims that it was his initial belief that Feeney's interest was in trying to stop Democrats from using "such a program to steal an election". Curtis had assumed that Feeney, "wanted to be able to detect and prevent that if it occurred."Upon delivery of the software design and documentation on CD to Mrs. Yang, Curtis again explained to her that it would be impossible to hide routines created to manipulate the vote if anybody would be able to inspect the precompiled source code.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

U.S. House Judiciary Dems to Announce Hearings on Voter Irregularities

Brad Blog reports:


A source inside the House Judiciary Committee has informed The BRAD BLOG that Democratic members of the committee will be announcing public hearings in Washington to begin next Wednesday on Voting Irregularities in Election 2004.

Scheduling is currently under way and the hearings are "99% certain" according to the source, who hopes the official announcement will be made tomorrow.

The hearings will be held by the Democratic members only at this time since all Republican members of the committee have refused to take part in the investigation so far.

The House Democrats hope to hear testimony from a number of witnesses concerning the thousands of reported cases of mistabulated votes, voter suppression and other concerns about electronic voting on Nov. 2nd.

...

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Jesse Jackson: "We can live with winning and losing. We cannot live with fraud and stealing"

Yet another major news outlet has coverage of the story today. This one includes some eloquence from Jackson.

One month after election, battle for Ohio continues

By John McCarthy | Associated Press (printed in the San Franscisco Examiner
Tuesday, November 30, 2004

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Nearly a month after John Kerry conceded Ohio to President Bush, complaints and challenges about the balloting are mounting as activists including the Rev. Jesse Jackson demand closer scrutiny to ensure the votes are being counted on the up-and-up.

Jackson held rallies in Ohio over the weekend to draw attention to the vote, and another critic plans to ask the state Supreme Court this week to decide the validity of the election.

There have been demands for a recount and complaints about uncounted punch-card votes, disqualified provisional ballots and a ballot-machine error that gave hundreds of extra votes to Bush.

Jackson said too many questions have been raised to let the vote stand without further examination. "We can live with winning and losing. We cannot live with fraud and stealing," he said.

Some Major Papers Finally Covering U.S. Voting Irregularities, not just Ukraine's

Coverage of Voting Irregularites in the Guardian, Boston Globe, and the Washington Post:

Voters to challenge US election

Julian Borger in Washington
Wednesday December 1, 2004
The Guardian

George Bush's victory in the US presidential election will be challenged in Ohio's supreme court today, when a group of Democratic voters will allege widespread fraud.

President Bush clinched re-election by winning the state of Ohio on November 2 by a margin of 136,000 votes over the Democratic candidate, John Kerry. Despite claims of fraud and technical glitches, Senator Kerry decided that they were not big enough to affect the result and conceded the election on November 3.

However, Cliff Arnebeck, a lawyer representing a group of voters challenging the Ohio result, claimed new analysis of various anomalies suggested it was rigged.

"We'll be calling for a reversal of the result based on evidence developed in the course of litigation," Mr Arnebeck told The Guardian yesterday. "Exit polling and substantial irregularities excluded votes that should have been counted. There is evidence that votes cast for one candidate were moved to the column of the other candidate."

Voting Errors Tallied Nationwide

Brian C. Mooney
Boston Globe, December 1, 2004

[Nice map of election day problems accompanies the piece]

More than 4,000 votes vanished without a trace into a computer's overloaded memory in one North Carolina county, and about a hundred paper ballots were thrown out by mistake in another. In Texas, a county needed help from a laboratory in Canada to unlock the memory of a touch-screen machine and unearth five dozen votes.

In other places, machine undercounting or overcounting of votes was a problem. Several thousand votes were mistakenly double-counted in North Carolina, Ohio, Nebraska, and Washington state. Some votes in other areas were at first credited to the wrong candidates, with one Indiana county, by some quirk, misallocating several hundred votes for Democrats to Libertarians. In Florida, some machines temporarily indicated votes intended for challenger John F. Kerry were for President Bush, and vice versa.

In the month since the election, serious instances of voting machine problems or human errors in ballot counts have been documented in at least a dozen states, each involving from scores of ballots to as many as 12,000 votes, as in a North Carolina county. On Election Day, or in later reconciling tallies of ballots and voters, local officials discovered problems and corrected final counts. In some cases, the changes altered the outcomes of local races. But in North Carolina, the problems were so serious that the state may hold a rare second vote, redoing a contest for state agriculture commissioner decided by fewer votes than the number of ballots lost.

...

Of complaints about long lines that discouraged some from voting and allegations that there was a shortage of machines in some urban Democratic areas, LoParo said such decisions in Ohio are made by county boards of elections with two Republicans and two Democrats.

Long waits in Ohio and elsewhere resulted from the system being overwhelmed by a high turnout, said Doug Chapin, director of the nonpartisan electionline.org, which monitors reform efforts.

More attention should be paid to providing an adequate number of machines in polling places, he said, as well as ''finishing the job" mandated by the Help America Vote Act. Forty states, for example, have yet to comply with a mandate to establish a central, statewide database of registered voters. That will reduce questions about voter eligibility at election time, Chapin said.

Whatever the outcome of the recounts and the official inquiries by federal agencies, the impetus for improve voting systems will not fade, he said.

''This is not a fringe issue, because a sizable group is interested in pursuing this as a policy issue going forward," Chapin said. ''There's now a critical mass of people involved who want to address the problems that occurred in 2004. This issue is not going to go away."


Kerry Team Seeks to Join Fight to Get Ohio County to Recount
Brian Faler, Washington Post
Wednesday, December 1, 2004; Page A08

Sen. John F. Kerry's presidential campaign asked an Ohio judge yesterday to allow it to join a legal fight there over whether election officials in one county may sit out the state's impending recount.

A pair of third-party presidential candidates, who said that reports of problems at the polls on Election Day are not being addressed, are forcing the Buckeye State to recount its entire presidential vote. But David A. Yost, a lawyer for Delaware County, just outside Columbus, won a temporary restraining order last week blocking any recount there. He told the Columbus Dispatch that a second count would be a poor use of county resources. President Bush won the mostly Republican area handily, unofficial results show.
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