Sunday, September 6, 2009

Why ES&S-Diebold sale is wrong, Easier to cage voters in Florida? Feds to monitor Cleveland election

Voting machine monopoly cont'd: "ES&S Acquires Premier Election Solutions. This is just wrong on so many levels....All this (problems with ES&S) and we keep buying their machines and now ES&S is rewarded with a bigger market share." Diebold stock surges as voting co sold at $45 million loss. "The sale represents the end of an embarrassing era for Diebold. " Meanwhile, another reason to worry about an ES&S/Diebold consolidation: Vanderburgh Co is ditching ES&S service, says ES&S has been overcharging since 2003. "They made some money, yes, but they made a little too much money as far as I'm concerned. I think they took advantage." Vanderburgh County Clerk Susan Kirk.
Florida's election dept's new voter roll rules may disenfranchise voters.
Madison CO KY switching to paper for 2010. Federal officials will monitor Cleveland Ohio's election on Tuesday. Atlantic City NJ Mayoral candidate Marty Small and 13 of his campaign workers were indicted for several absentee ballot fraud schemes. In Pierce Co WA an Op/Ed "If poll voting dies, RCV could be partly responsible." (precinct count scanners were decertified).
Corporate cash in campaigns? The oral arguments for the case of Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission are set for Wednesday, September 9. Check out the
website for "The Committee to Modernize Voter Registration" In Afghanistan the election results from nearly 450 polling places were set aside pending an investigation and Pres Karzai is moving closer to the 50% threshold. India sees more opposition to electronic voting.

AL. "Large chunks of Birmingham city council campaign cash untraceable"
The Birmingham News reports: Large chunks of campaign cash contributed to Birmingham City Council candidates are untraceable because the contributing political action committees haven't filed either campaign disclosure forms or organizational papers, an apparent violation of Alabama's Fair Campaign Practices Act.
In other cases, the source of the money that fueled city races can't be determined because the cash was transferred among PACs before being given to candidates, a Birmingham News review of financial disclosure forms shows.

CA. Some Theorists Withhold Best-Voting-System Award
September 2, 2009 The Oscars is shaking up its voting system, though not in a way that most voting theorists applaud...The new system for best-picture voting is just like the procedure for selecting nominees. It’s called single transferable vote and is similar to an instant-runoff election. Voters will rank the 10 nominees from 1 to 10...“Some voters, by raising an alternative from last to first place, [could] cause it to lose — just the opposite effect of what one would want a voting system to induce,” Brams said. Also possible is the scenario in which “some voters, by actually voting as opposed to not showing up at the polls, hurt the alternatives they rank highest.”

FL. The Florida Department of Elections proposes new rules that may make voter caging easier. The new rules address maintenance of voter registration rolls. If these rules are approved, it may be easier to wrongly purge legal voters from the rolls.You may read the rule at this link.
The accompanying forms to be completed by supervisors of elections at (scroll down to Proposed Rule 1S-2.041, FVRS Address and Records Maintenance Activities).
There is no article link.

IA. County using new software in Tuesday election
WATERLOO --- Black Hawk County will use a new software program in some polling places to assist precinct officials during Tuesday's school board election.The program, Precinct Atlas, is an electronic poll book designed to help process voters effectively and consistently.

IN. Changing Election Support Provider Could Save County Bi...
Vanderburgh County could find an extra $200,000. in this year's budget. The county election board is severing its ties with the company that provides support services for the county's voting machines. Board member Susan Kirk says ES&S has been over-charging for services in their contract that was signed in 2003....The county will continue to use the same computer software that was provided by ES&S. The board is looking into using a new company to provide support services.

IN. EVANSVILLE — Vanderburgh County wants a divorce from the manufacturer of its voting machines and a new marriage with a company it says will charge much less.
Citing nearly $112,000 that it says Omaha, Neb.-based Election Systems & Software owes the county, the Vanderburgh County Election Board voted Friday to formally decline the company's continued equipment support services.

KY. A new way of voting
Paper ballots an option in 2010
Out with the new and in with the old. That is the idea behind a different option Madison County residents will have in the May 2010 primary elections.
...“They’re (the Kentucky State Board of Elections) having a lot of complaints,” said Madison Judge/Executive Kent Clark at a January fiscal court meeting. “They (electronic voting machines) have become too complicated for a lot of people to use, and so they’re looking, as other states are, to going back to the paper ballot.”

MT. Reform of secret ballotsBy Bob Brown
In the reconstruction period following the Civil War, black people who had been slaves were given their first opportunity as free citizens to vote... Brutal harassment of unsure and frightened black voters was rampant at the traditionally open polling places in the South in the 1870's. To confront this infringement on a citizen's right to vote, the reform of the secret ballot, already in widespread use in Australia, was introduced and enforced to the extent possible across the South....Under the guise of the "Employee Free Choice Act," American workers could be denied the right to the secret ballot in deciding whether to unionize their work places...With a secret ballot, workers can freely vote their own honestly held beliefs. Without it they cannot

NJ. Atlantic City Councilman Marty Small and 13 Individuals Who Worked on His Mayoral Campaign Indicted on Charges They Conspired in Fraudulent Messenger Ballot Schemes
View indictment pdf
TRENTON – Attorney General Anne Milgram announced that Atlantic City Councilman Marty Small and 13 individuals who worked on his unsuccessful 2009 mayoral campaign were indicted today on charges they conspired to commit election fraud during the June Democratic primary through a variety of schemes involving messenger absentee ballots...."We charge that they disenfranchised voters by destroying messenger ballots that were voted for Small’s opponents and submitting ballots as votes for Small from people who never received them."

OH. Federal officials will monitor Tuesday's election in Cleveland
CLEVELAND, Ohio — Federal officials will monitor polling places during Tuesday's election in Cleveland, marking the third time since 2006 that they have come to the city.
A spokesman for the U.S. Department of Justice declined to say why it is interested in the nonpartisan election. It is also unclear how many monitors will come here and where they will be stationed.

OK. Odd timing for city elections Low voter turnout only helps the fringe candidates win office
Strangely enough, the Tuesday after Labor Day — the day most people dedicate to complaining about their sunburns — is election day in Tulsa.... it's the only bite voters will get at the election apple because only candidates in one party filed for office...Move it: There's a simple solution to this problem: Quit trying to be cute with the municipal election cycle. The dirty little secret is that some elected officials aren't interested in big turnouts. It's a lot easier to win a City Council primary with 3,000 votes in play than one that has two or three times that many people taking part.

TN. Purge by Shelby County Election Commission of voter-registration rolls brings scrutiny
September 6, 2009 A decision by the Republican-controlled Shelby County Election Commission to purge inactive voters from the voter-registration rolls has at least one local activist worried that certain Democratic voters will wind up disenfranchised.
The election commission has stripped close to 60,000 inactive registered voters from the books since January, a move election commission officials say is standard practice after a presidential election... "The real question is, what's the criteria and how do they go about purging?" Kyles said. "I don't know the benefits from purging directly after a presidential election. (Joseph Kyles, vice president of the Memphis chapter of the Rainbow PUSH Coalition)

WA. If poll voting dies, RCV could be partly responsible. Opinion.
...Last year when we implemented “Ranked Choice Voting,” we lost certification of our optical scan tabulators at the polls. As a result, it forced us to begin conducting polling place elections differently. No longer could votes be counted electronically at the polling site. Rather, the ballots had to be transported to our Elections Center for tabulation after 8:00 p.m. election eve. This we refer to as a “Central Count” environment.
Consequently, we were forced to recruit, hire and train 114 extra workers to support each polling site...RCV might not be such a complicating factor after November, when voters get to decide for the third time whether they want to conduct county elections in the runoff fashion.

Committee to Modernize Voter Registration launches
Monday marked the launch of the Committee to Modernize Voter Registration, founded by former political campaign rivals Marc E. Elias and Trevor Potter, as an effort to bring the voter registration process into the 21st century...To read more about the problems with voter registration and to learn about The Committee to Modernize Voter Registration's proposed solutions, visit their website.

Articles on ES&S purchase of Diebold

US. Diebold Selling Their Voting Machine Division - cartoon

ES&S Acquires Premier Election Solutions. This is just wrong on so many levels.

...The monopoly is but a part of the troubling equation. Consider the Government Accountability Office's (GOA) stunted investigation of Sarasota's 2006 District 13 with its 18,000 missing votes...ES&S virtually owns the election process. ES&S manufactures the machines, produces test data, defines the testing process, counts the votes, determines the winner, and declares the election valid...Consider the absence of election laws and comprehensive processes that recognize bogus election results and mandate clear and immediate corrective action...Consider the technical challenges experienced by these two companies...Consider the ES&S technical problems the GAO did not find and why...Throughout it all, ES&S failed to disclose, failed to accept responsibility, and consistently failed to produce a product that accurately counts our votes. All this and we keep buying their machines and now ES&S is rewarded with a bigger market share.

Consolidation in E-Voting Market: ES&S Buys Premier
ES&S is reportedly the largest e-voting company, and Premier was the second-largest, so the deal represents a substantial consolidation in the market. The odds of one major e-voting company breaking from the pack and embracing up-to-date security engineering are now even slimmer than before. Premier had seemed like the company most likely to change its ways.
The sale represents the end of an embarrassing era for Diebold.

Diebold Finally Dumps E-Voting Division... But Sells It To Equally Problematic ES&S from the that-makes-it-better? dept
Ah, Diebold. One of the "big three" e-voting providers out there, its name was the first one that got associated with the problems of e-voting machines, despite problems being found across the board in players in that's not like ES&S is any better. It, too, has had
massive problems with its e-voting machines, while the company has a history of stonewalling attempts by gov't officials to review their code....Now, with the combined ES&S/Diebold/Premier, a ridiculous large percentage of the country's e-voting machines now belong to one company, with an amazingly long family tree of faulty machines and a history of attacking anyone who points out those flaws.

Diebold dumps a headache (fascinating audio report)
Northeast Ohio company sells its electronic voting divisionWKSU's M.L. Schultze reports
Green-based Diebold has found a buyer for its electronic voting-machine business. And despite the fact that the company will take at least a $45 million loss on the deal, Diebold's stock spiked at the news.

Diebold Sells Its Voting Machine Unit to Competitor (NY Times)
...In 2007, Diebold, a maker of A.T.M.’s, distanced itself from the election unit, renaming it Premier, allowing it to operate more independently and giving it a separate board.
Premier operates in 33 states and Election Systems & Software operates election services in 39 states and overseas.
S. Candice Hoke, an election law professor at Cleveland State University, said the sale raises questions about the consolidation of election services. “It’s a massive consolidation of voting-system vendors,” she said.

Diebold Dumps Voting Machine Business For Peanuts
...The company sold its election systems business for $5 million. It had
acquired the business in 2002 from Global Election Systems for $26 million...The sale now narrows the market to two major players: Election Systems and Software and Sequoia Voting Systems

Diebold sells Voting Systems Business to Rival, raises consolidation concerns
The move effectively consolidates the electronic voting business in the hands of two privately held companies -- Election Systems & Software and Sequoia Voting Systems. Consolidation is not good news for elections watchers. In a broadcast interview, Candice Hoke of the
Center for Election Integrity at Cleveland State University warns that the sale "creates tremendous power over our voting system and that concerns a number of people." ...Even with the sale, Diebold still faces lawsuits from a number of local government.

Articles on Citizens United vs FEC

Argument preview: Corporations in politics. Scotus blog explains what is at stake -
September 4th, 2009 5:48 pm Lyle Denniston NOTE: The Supreme Court case set for argument on Wednesday, Sept. 9, Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission(08-205), originated in the past Term. It is now being reargued.

Should businesses be able to give to politicians?
Since Teddy Roosevelt was president, corporate money in federal politics has been restricted by U.S. law. That could change. The U.S. Supreme Court meets Wednesday over whether to overturn two prior rulings. Sparking it all -- "Hillary: The Movie."
...The problem of corporations using their immense aggregate wealth in a campaign is that if corporations begin spending $1 million or $5 million or $10 million in a campaign to directly elect or defeat a candidate, this has enormous capacity to buy influence over our elected officials.,0,2068571.story


Afghanistan. Defining moment for Afghanistan
Election officials in Afghanistan are still counting votes, but say President Hamid Karzai is moving closer to the 50% threshold which would represent victory. But they also have more than 2,000 claims of fraud to investigate. The BBC's Chris Morris in Kabul says the outcome will be critical for Afghanistan.

Afghan officials disqualify votes from 450 polling places
The move could herald more mass disqualifications amid allegations of fraud in the presidential election. Nevertheless, Hamid Karzai inches toward winning...results from nearly 450 polling places were set aside pending an investigation,0,7124933.story

India. EVMs: The question of manipulation
Would you put your money in an ATM machine which can't tell you when your cash was stolen or which won't give you a receipt for your cash deposit? Ten out of 10 respondents would reply with an emphatic 'no way'.
So why does the Indian electorate trust its valuable vote to an electronic voting machine (EVM) which provides no audit trail and no receipt?

Iran. Iran reformist Web site names post-election victims
(CNN) -- An Iranian reformist Web site on Friday released the identities of 72 people it says were killed by government forces in the aftermath of Iran's disputed presidential elections.
The list posted on Norooz News' Web site is more than double government estimates, which put the death toll of protesters between 25 and 30. Norooz gives the names, ages and details surrounding most of the victims' deaths, which range from being shot by members of the Basij militia to being beaten to death in Tehran's Evin prison.

Voting News by Joyce McCloy.
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