Monday, September 21, 2009

ES&S-Diebold's "Ominous Monopoly", ACORN, NY "Count the Vote", Internet Voting Whackamole in FL

ES&S purchase of Diebold "The Most Ominous Monopoly". Congratulations to Brad Friedman, who has a piece about the Acorn controversy published in the Guardian UK.
Florida has a bill, HB 131 that would allow overseas voters to cast ballots by email.
New Jersey's early voting (by mail) could diminish effect of "October Surprise"?

Boulder Co releases report blaming software problems for the slow count of the 2008 election. Al Kolwicz, a member of the CO. Voter Group said: "There were thousands of dollars spent to ensure that this kind of problem that was exhibited didn't happen," he said. "If it's possible to circumvent that procedure (with an incompatible device driver), what could be happening with the counting software?" . This is an all too common story, elections as beta tests for overpriced electronic voting systems.

Shelby Co TN has been "aggressively" paring its voter rolls, but officials say they are acting in accordance with federal law.

New York voting activists oppose replacing lever machines " until paper ballot security and proper auditing is mandated by state law or regulations." Teresa Hommel of worries that ""Once we give up the lever machines, we will never get the law to require better security or audits,". More transparency measures are needed with computerized voting. Hommel says "When the levers are broken, everyone can see it. When computers are programmed incorrectly, no one can see it."

The Wisconsin DOJ defends code that prevents judges from joining political parties: "I believe that justice is blind. When someone walks into a courtroom they shouldn't have to worry about whether or not the judge sitting there has an 'R' or a 'D 'behind their name," ~ Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen. Does the First Amendment Apply to Corporations?
Congratulations! New Zealand women have been voting for 116 years.

CA. The Future of Voting Systems in Los Angeles County
September 19th, 2009

CA & FL. Residual votes in LA and Palm Beach Counties *
...In 2008, the residual vote rate for Florida was 0.7%, compared to 1.3% in California. If California could reduce that rate to Florida’s, over 82,000 additional votes would be recovered among Golden State residents in presidential years. The number for LA County alone is over 20,000.

CA. Newsweek’s Jonathan Alter Writes in Support of “Top-Two”
September 19th, 2009 Newsweek’s latest issue carries this column by its columnist Jonathan Alter, in favor of “top-two” election systems. Here is his column, which is titled, “The Jackass-Reduction Plan.” Here is the text of a letter Ballot Access News has just sent to Jonathan Alter, outlining six reasons why he should change his mind:

CO. More to the story
Dear Editor: I was surprised to read that Aspen's City Council is still denying access to the digital images of ballots

CO. Slow Boulder vote count blamed on software glitch *Hart Intercivic ballot scanners. 9/19/2009 (AP) — BOULDER, Colo. - Boulder County election officials say a software problem led to the delay in counting votes last November, when the county processed 172,531 ballots. The county processes paper ballots by scanning them into images that are then counted. Last November, election workers discovered the counting system sometimes counted specks of dust as votes.
County Clerk and Recorder Hillary Hall released a report Friday that said the problem was an incompatible device driver installed on scanning machines. The incompatible driver disrupted communications between the scanners and ballot-counting software from Hart InterCivic.

CO. Boulder County: Incompatible software caused ballot-counting problems *Hart Intercivic scanners.
Glitch discovered after 9-month investigation
09/18/2009 Before each election, a certified version of the Ballot Now software must be reinstalled, Hall said. Last year, the county also installed an updated version of the software that goes with the county's Kodak scanners, called the Scan Validation Tool. And when it did, the new validation tool replaced one of the drivers installed by the Ballot Now software with its own driver.
Ultimately, the new driver disrupted communication between the scanner and the ballot-counting software, causing specks of dust and other abnormalities that would normally be overlooked to be counted as phantom votes.

CT. CTNewsJunkie:
Will Lawmakers Fix Campaign Finance Next Week?
September 19, 2009

FL. HB 131 - Relating to Elections - 2010 sponsored by Adams
09/18/09 HOUSE Filed Bill would allow overseas military to transmit voted ballots over the internet. "provides that overseas voter may request absentee ballot & transmit voted ballot by facsimile or electronic mail;"
Bill HB 131 legislative information at this link:

September 20, 2009 Florida Voters Alert: Rule 1S-2.041 would make caging easier, speak up now

GA. GA Gov Perdue orders the state to cut off ACORN
September 18 Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue signed an executive order Thursday forbidding the state from issuing any contracts to ACORN (Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now)..Perdue also ordered all state agencies to cut off funding to the group unless they are legally obligated. He asked for all accounting of such legal obligations to be filed with his office by September 23.

GA Op-Ed in Athens, Georgia Newspaper on Ballot Access Barriers
September 19th, 2009 The Athens Banner-Herald, of Athens, Georgia, ran this op-ed on September 17, by Jeffrey Moss. Moss deplored Georgia’s ballot access laws, which have kept all minor party candidates for U.S. House off the ballot (in regularly-scheduled elections) ever since 1942.

IA. New software cuts time for voters, saves money
September 18, 2009 When voters showed up at their precincts for the Ogden and Boone community school board elections Sept. 8, they were met by poll workers with laptop computers.
“It’s an electronic poll book,” Meier said. “You type the first three letters of the last name and the first letter of the first name. The program finds and confirms the name, address and birth date. It really helps save time.”
A few birth date errors were discovered in Ogden, something workers were able to immediately correct with the software, Meier said.
“Sometimes, the handwriting wasn’t clear enough at the original registration,” he said. “Several people had moved, too, so we were able to change that quickly.

MO. Howard County Clerk’s Office works to update voter registration rolls

NC. Topsail seminar set to go over voting rules
September 19, 2009 Topsail seminar set to go over voting rules
The State Board of Elections will hold an educational seminar on Topsail Island this week to discuss voting laws...The issue of legal residency and who can vote has long been a contentious one in North Carolina beach towns..While the seminar is intended to address questions about voter residency, voting law and other voting issues, it is intended to be educational, Bartlett said. “This is a learning experience,” he said. “This is not the time for accusations. This is strictly learning.”

NM. Absentee ballot requests overload clerk's office
9/17. "All the campaigns are sending people toward absentee voting as a way to get out the vote, which is fine with us. It's just that it causes a large volume," City Clerk Randy Autio said.

NJ. Campaigns in New Jersey adjust for mail-in voting
..."What (voting by mail) does is create a three-week Election Day, and for a candidate who has no money, it is a killer," Shaftan said.
A candidate's party matters more, he said, while the candidate and his or her issues matter less...Studies show the ballots increase turnout and change how campaigns are run. A 2008 analysis by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology of 3,310 elections in seven states found that mail-in ballots overall boost turnout by about 10 percent.
Their effect is greatest on lower-turnout elections

NY. Count the Vote
Sun Sep 20, 2009 ...New York is about to replace our lever voting machines and accessible equipment for voters with disabilities... the audit mandated by state law is a flat 3%, which is insufficient to prove that all winners identified by the scanners are correct.
The state needs "statistically-significant" audits.... The current situation jeopardizes the vote for everyone. Activists working on the auditing issue are Teresa Hommel of and Howard Stanislevic of Hommel opposes replacing our lever machines until paper ballot security and proper auditing is mandated by state law or regulations.
"Once we give up the lever machines, we will never get the law to require better security or audits.."

PA. U.S. District Court Confirms Denise Carey’s Victory in Wilkes-Barre Petition Fees Case September 19th, 2009
Back on November 18, 2008, a federal jury in Scranton, Pennsylvania, had awarded Denise Carey $67,000 in her lawsuit against her home city of Wilkes-Barre

TN. To purge or not to purge: Controversy brews over voter rolls
Controversy brews over process striking registered voters off rolls
Sunday, September 20, 2009 The Republican-controlled Shelby County Election Commission has been aggressively purging the voter registration roll this year following a registration binge by Democrats last fall.
If there is any relationship it's tenuous, though, and the commission has been carefully following federal law as it has pared the list of Shelby County voters to about 600,000.

WI. Wisconsin AG defends council against judge's First Amendment challenge
MADISON, Wis. (Legal Newsline) - The Wisconsin Department of Justice defended its judicial code that does not allow judges to join political parties in front of the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals.
The case involves challenges to Supreme Court judicial conduct rules that prohibit judges and judicial candidates from joining political parties, making endorsements in partisan elections and directly soliciting campaign donations.


Acorn – the new Republican bogeyman
If rightwing operatives succeed in bringing down the community group, Democrats and minorities will have lost a valuable ally.
Brad Friedman, Sunday 20 September 2009
...But when a few actual low-level bad apples – who happen to be African-American, and working for a group fighting for the American Dream for all Americans – commit petty stupidity, the entire organisation must be brought down in order to save the country.

The Most Ominous Monopoly (Diebold sale to ES&S)
Last week the most ominous monopoly in America's long history opened its gaping jaws. Sniffing the air and casting its gaze around for victims, the horrifying leviathan took its first breaths amidst reports of the merger of Election Systems & Software (ES&S) and Diebold...When Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson contemplated a democratic form of government, they never conceived that their vision might be placed in the hands of partisan capitalists prepared to install programmable robots as the ultimate custodians of democracy.

2010 Election Administration and Voting Survey (Seeks comment).
Background The U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) seeks comment from the public on its 2010 Election Administration and Voting Survey (Survey). Readers will find that the 2010 Survey is very similar in content to the 2008 Survey. While most questions remain unchanged, the survey does provide some additional guidance on the EAC’s statutory requirements...The comment period ends on November 9, 2009 at 4:00 p.m. EDT.

Citizens United v FEC

Giving corporate money more clout in elections is scary
Sept 20. In a little-noticed series of events, the U.S. Supreme Court could be about to radically change the landscape of U.S. politics.
...The roots of this potential constitutional train wreck go back to, appropriately enough, the case of Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad in 1886...
the court reporter who wrote the headnote, or summary, to the decision, declared “…Corporations are persons within the intent of the clause in section 1 of the 14th Amendment to the Constitution…"...Call me old-fashioned, but I wish we’d stick to the current system. You know, the one where they just buy politicians.

Does the First Amendment Apply to Corporations?
That is the question being considered by the Supreme Court after hearings last week in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission

The New DC Circuit Opinion in Emily's List, Citizens United, and the Role of Political Parties...In today's Emily's List decision..If this opinion stands, coupled with an overruling of Austin and McConnell in Citizens United, political parties will be at a serious disadvantage

New Zealand women have been voting for 116 years
Women’s suffrage 1893: New Zealand is the first in the world to give women the vote.
Every 19th September women in New Zealand celebrate and remembered with gratitude, the struggle for the right to vote

Voting News by Joyce McCloy.
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