June 18, 2008

The votes not counted

Posted in Barack Obama, Elections, paper ballots, politics, voter fraud, Voter ID, voter suppression, voting, voting machines, Voting Rights tagged , , , , , at 10:13 pm by bluebanshee

Every election cycle in the U.S. there are votes that never get counted –but not because of computer glitches on paperless voting machines, as if often assumed. The computer glitches happen and no paper trail is there to give silent evidence of the missing votes. Much energy has been devoted to replacing paperless voting machines with systems that have a voter verified paper record without also considering the other source of missing votes.

What am I talking about? What other type of missing vote is there besides the ones lost inside the electronic world of computerized voting machines? The answer, of course is that the other type of votes that never get counted are the ones that never get cast. Tragically millions of votes are never cast in jurisdictions across America each election cycle for a wide variety of reasons –partisan dirty tricks, voter suppression, voter intimidation, purged voting rolls, misinformation campaigns targeted at certain groups of voters, or simply voting machine shortages in inner city precincts. It is these uncounted votes that never show up in the winning (or losing) margin but in close races can mean the difference between victory or defeat. Read the rest of this entry »


February 18, 2008

Obama might get another delegate or two in NY

Posted in Barack Obama, Elections, Hillary Clinton, voting, voting machines tagged , , , , , , at 5:23 pm by bluebanshee

Looks like the election results in New York will be revised with Barack Obama possible gaining in his delegate count.

Black voters are heavily represented in the 94th Election District in Harlem’s 70th Assembly District. Yet according to the unofficial results from the New York Democratic primary last week, not a single vote in the district was cast for Senator Barack Obama.

That anomaly was not unique. In fact, a review by The New York Times of the unofficial results reported on primary night found about 80 election districts among the city’s 6,106 where Mr. Obama supposedly did not receive even one vote, including cases where he ran a respectable race in a nearby district. http://tinyurl.com/38a6r5

The above report in the NYT caused much alarm across the country — with many folks suggesting that there was some chicanery on the part of Clinton supporters in her home state. In fact, the explanation offered by Doug Kellner of the New York State Board of Elections is much more plausible: Read the rest of this entry »

Counting every vote

Posted in Barack Obama, Double bubble, Elections, ES&S, Hillary Clinton, paper ballots, politics, voting, voting machines, Voting Rights, Washington Republican caucus tagged , , , , , , at 3:28 pm by bluebanshee

Making ‘one person one vote’ a reality in this country

In the rush-rush hurry-hurry to announce election results there have already been some miscounts and uncounted ballots this primary season.  This should not happen.  If we are going to truly be a democracy of “one person one vote” we need to be sure that all ballots cast by eligible voters are counted.

For example, there’s the recent example in the Washington state Republican caucuses where the winner was declared in a close race before all the votes were counted.  Entire counties did not have their results included in the tally: Read the rest of this entry »

January 14, 2008

Only Diebold knows for sure …

Posted in Diebold, election audits, Elections, NH Primary, paper ballots, politics, voting, voting machines tagged , , , , , , , at 9:19 pm by bluebanshee

…And the rest of us will find out via a recount in New Hampshire.  Because Diebold won’t tell.

The paper ballots hold the key.

I have said before and I will say it again here — paper ballots are not enough to ensure election integrity and transparency.  You’ve got to do something with the paper to check the election results — like a mandatory routine audit.  If New Hampshire had a law on the books requiring a post-election audit we would not be in the ignominious position of

  • first, begging for a candidate, any candidate,  to step forward and ask for a recount and,
  • second, scrambling around to help raise funds to pay the thousands of dollars it costs to recount all the ballots even in a small state like New Hampshire.

We are grateful that Democrat Kucinich and Republican Howard have stepped forward to help find answers the  burning questions:  Who really won the primary —  and, could the vote have been hacked? Read the rest of this entry »

January 12, 2008

Remembering ‘Being There’ … or why Chauncey Gardener could not vote in today’s America

Posted in Being There, Elections, Peter Sellers, politics, Voter ID, voting, Voting Rights tagged , , , , at 3:56 pm by bluebanshee

I have fond memories of the 1979 movie “Being There” starring Peter Sellers. It is a skillful dissection of politics and power where the audience is “in” on the joke from the beginning.

For those who aren’t familiar with this last Peter Sellers flick here’s a brief synopsis: the story revolves around Chance, a simple gardener who has spent his entire life with “the old man” in a big house where he tends the garden and watches TV. After the death of “the old man,” Chance, is evicted and wanders the streets of Washington D.C. where he encounters Rand, a wealthy business man. Rand takes Chance under his wing. Through a series of mis-understandings, Chance becomes known as Chauncey Gardener, whose utterances about gardening are interpreted as evidence of deep wisdom and understanding. Chauncey becomes a media darling who is touted by political power brokers to become the next president

So what does this movie have to do with politics today? Nothing, really — except that it illustrates the role of the media and political spinmeisters in creating a political candidate.

However, it also provides an interesting frame for thinking about citizenship and the demand for Real ID at every turn in our daily lives, including the vote in some states. Read the rest of this entry »

November 24, 2007

Just a coincidence?

Posted in politics, Uncategorized, voter suppression, voting tagged , , , , at 5:29 am by bluebanshee

So now we find out that there has been a surge in applications for citizenship — a fairly predictable consequence of an impending fee increase. The backlog stands at about 1.4 million and the wait has jumped from 7 months to an estimated 16-18 months. Those eligible for citizenship rush to get their applications in before the deadline and the the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service is unable to cope. They say they hired 1500 new employees to deal with the deluge of applications but the backlog mushrooms out of control nonetheless.

Of course, once one remembers that Citizenship and Immigration is part of the Homeland Security department the pattern becomes clear — this is just another branch of the folks who have brought us color-coded security alerts and  the dreadful mismanagement of the Katrina disaster.   More bumbling in yet another part of Homeland  (In)Security — or so it would seem on the surface.

But wait a minute — is there a more sinister pattern here?  If these 1.4 million applicants have to wait 16-18 months to become citizens then they will probably not be able to vote in the 2008 presidential election.   This could have a significant impact on elections in several states with high concentrations of applicants such as Florida. Read the rest of this entry »

November 11, 2007

Changing the way U.S. Senate campaigns are paid for

Posted in Barack Obama, Elections, Fair Elections Now Act, politics, Russ Feingold tagged , , , at 3:49 am by bluebanshee

In a rare candid moment a U.S. Senator told a group of constituents that he wished he could spend more time on legislative matters — he felt he had to spend way too much time doing fundraising. So instead of being able to devote his attention to the job the voters had sent him to Washington to do, he had to allocate a significant chunk of time to dialing for dollars or attending fundraising events. This Senator said he would favor public financing of campaigns — so he could spend more time on lawmaking and less on seeking cash for the next campaign.

The good news is that Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) has introduced S. 1285, a bill that looks like the dream bill for senators like the one described above who want to change the way Senate campaigns are financed. The Fair Elections Now Act is supported by a consortium made up of Common Cause, the Brennan Center for Justice, Democracy Matters, the Public Campaign, Public Citizen and U.S. PIRG.

While this seems to be a novel approach for U.S. Senate candidates, publicly financing of campaigns has been successfully deployed on the state level in Arizona and Maine and in municipalities like Portland, Oregon (where the catchy phrase “voter owned elections” is used to describe it). Read the rest of this entry »

October 21, 2007

Why all the red herrings about no-excuse absentee voting?

Posted in Elections, politics, voting tagged , , , , at 5:44 am by bluebanshee

The House Committee on Administration held a hearing about no-excuse absentee voting and did not mention Oregon, the state where everyone votes absentee. I find it peculiar that no one with experience with the Oregon system was asked to offer testimony to the committee. There was testimony from Vermont — and speculation from a member of the committee that absentee voting might provide fraud and intimidation.

But no evidence was offered that there fraud and intimidation is more prevalent in mail voting systems than in polling place voting. A Republican member of the committee exhibited typical GOP paranoia about voter ID requirements. The so-called Real ID for voting is a solution in search of a problem. In recent elections the number of cases of voter fraud, in which a person casts a ballot that they are not entitled to cast, can be numbered on the fingers of one hand. However, the risk of disenfranchisement to legitimate voters who do not meet stringent ID requirements is high: the poor, the young, the elderly and victims of disasters like Katrina would all face difficult obstacles to obtaining ID to ensure their right to vote.

I wonder why voter preferences and convenience are not directly addressed at hearings like this. There are reasons why voter participation rates are greater with no-excuse absentee voting is that it really makes it easier for citizens to vote when they don’t have to squeeze it into a work day. The scheduling of elections on Tuesdays is an artifact of a prior age. Until election day is moved to a weekend, voters will continue to vote absentee in ever greater numbers whenever the option is available.

House subcommittee debates expanded absentee vote

Partisan divide over access, security remains strong

By Evan Smith

On October 16, the House Administration Subcommittee on Elections held a hearing on “Expanding and Improving Opportunities to Vote by Mail or Absentee.” The focus of the hearing was H.R. 281, “The Universal Right to Vote by Mail Act of 2007,” introduced by Rep. Susan Davis (D-Calif.), which would require all states provide no-excuse absentee voting in federal elections beginning in 2008. Read the rest of this entry »

More details on cybercrime threats to U.S. elections

Posted in Elections, politics tagged , , , , , at 1:52 am by bluebanshee


Cybercrimes may have occurred in recent elections. There have been frequent suspicions but no conclusive proof. Now it is possible that ever more sophisticated schemes may be used to skew election results. This should be required reading for all candidates and their staff. But the focus is usually more on creating a new direct-mail piece or tv commercial.

Hackers could skew US elections

  • 13:38 09 October 2007
  • NewScientist.com news service
  • Jessica Marshall


The web may not deserve its reputation as a great democratic tool, security experts say. They predict voters will increasingly be targeted by internet-based dirty tricks campaigns, and that the perpetrators will find it easier to cover their tracks.

While politicians have been quick to embrace the internet as an enabler for democracy, established security threats like spam emails and botnets – collections of “zombie” computers remotely controlled by hackers – all open new avenues for fraudulent campaigning. So said experts at an e-crime summit at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania last week.

Dirty tricks are not new. On US election day in 2002, the lines of a “get-out-the-voters” phone campaign sponsored by the New Hampshire Democratic Party were clogged by prank calls. In the 2006 election, 14000 Latino voters in Orange County, California, received letters telling them it was illegal for immigrants to vote.

Read the rest of this entry »

Cybercrime — something every candidate should worry about

Posted in Cybercrime, Elections, politics tagged , , , at 1:30 am by bluebanshee

The harsh reality is that computers can do more untraceable damage to election campaigns — and most candidates and their high-priced consultants are oblivious to the threats and therefore do nothing to protect themselves from cybercrime. The article below focuses on federal elections but the same kinds of dirty tricks can impact any political campaign — from proverbial dogcatcher on up to those with aspirations of occupying the Oval Office. Some of these threats are so insidious that it would be hard to prove that they ever happened. But others like “typosquatting” should be addressed by every campaign that uses the internet.

Cybercrime Threats to the 2008 Federal Elections


Oliver Friedrichs of Symantec chaired a panel at last week’s APWG e-Crime Research Summit in Pittsburgh. He has now published much of his work in a chapter from the forthcoming “Crimeware” book.

Here is Oliver’s summary of what is covered:

Abuse of Candidates’ Internet Domain Names and Typo Squatting – In order
to determine the current level of domain name speculation and typo
squatting in the 2008 federal U.S. election, we performed an analysis of
17 well known candidate domain names in order to seek out domain
speculators and typo squatters. Our results were interesting to say the
least. Candidates have not done a good job at protecting themselves.
Some of the examples of infringement are quite interesting and humorous.

Read the rest of this entry »

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