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stealing the election: voter suppression in texas

Republicans are conducting a concerted and organized effort to steal the 2020 election.  Part of that effort is voter suppression.  Republicans know that they cannot win an election where the population is allowed to freely vote, so they are trying to make it as difficult as possible to cast a vote.

The governor or Texas has just issued a proclamation closing (as of October 2) satellite offices where people can drop off main-in ballots.  He says that counties are only allowed to have one drop off point.  Some counties now have as many as 12 drop off points.  This move also requires early voting clerks to allow poll watchers to observe ballot delivery.  The drop off points were there to help voters, especially those who have questions about the postal service.

Abbott had previously extended early voting and allowed early drop-off. 

See Chuck Lindell (@chucklindell)

Texas Democratic Party Chair, Gilberto Hinojosa, issued a statement about the closings which said, courts all over the country, including the Fifth Circuit yesterday, held that it was too late to change election rules.  Hinojosa said that there was a “movement that will beat them (republicans) at the ballot box.”  “…there’s nothing these cheaters can do about it.”   

As Alejandro Villegas (@thecorpmex) points out, there are 254 counties in Texas.  Harris County has over 4.7 million residents.  Harris County has a population larger than 25 states.  There were over 1.2 million votes cast in 2016.  In Brewster county, it’s a 90 minute drive from the far end of the county to the county seat.

You can read about the lawsuits filed in Texas by Democracy Docket to help ensure that people can vote.  All of these are opposed by Republicans. 

In Texas, there are lawsuits currently in the system about

  1. allowing people to register to vote with motor vehicle transactions (like license renewals, etc.)
  2. a recent change in Texas law which limits the discretion of county election administrators in providing temporary early voting locations to help people who have limited access to transportation, like students.
  3. the elimination of straight ticket voting.  Texas will eliminate straight ticket voting for the first time in 2020.  It is widely used in Texas. Two-thirds of voters cast a straight ticket ballot in 2018.  This will lead to longer lines and wait times which will deter voting.
  4. a prohibition against accepting electronically signed voter registration applications.  
  5. Covid Election relief.  The lawsuit seeks to make Texas provide prepaid postage for absentee ballots, accepting all ballots postmarked on or before the Election Day, prohibit enforcement of signature matching, allow voters to correct a signature mismatch, and allows voters to designate any third party to collect their voted and sealed absentee ballot.

See democracydocket.com/state/Texas

WEDNESDAY MORNING NEWS

Donald Trump is not trying to win an election, he’s trying to steal one.

Florida conflict over felons

https://thehill.com/homenews/campaign/518845-battle-over-voting-rights-of-felons-intensifies-in-florida

The Attorney General of Florida, Ashley Moody is asking for an investigation of Bloomberg for paying the fines of felons that Florida voters (FLORIDA VOTERS) voted to give rights to vote.

In 2018, the people of Florida voted to restore voting rights to former felons who had completed their sentences.  Desperate to keep people form voting, Republicans passed a law in 2019 requiring felons to pay any fees, or fines go vote. 

Jacobin

“surveillance capitalism” is an existential threat to our societies.

https://www.jacobinmag.com/2020/09/social-media-platform-capitalism-the-social-dilemma

don’t blame social media, blame capitalism.

“Are we to believe that social polarization is the product of Facebook, and not the fact that income inequality has returned to pre–Great Depression levels (and is likely much worse due to the pandemic)?”

Barrett – An Enemy of Workers

https://www.jacobinmag.com/2020/09/supreme-court-pick-trump-amy-coney-barrett-gig-economy-workers

GEORGIA VOTING RIGHTS CASES

https://www.brennancenter.org/our-work/court-cases/voting-rights-litigation-2020#Georgia

news notes:

  • Cory Booker – “I think Democrats are gonna continue to appeal to the sense of honor that when someone gives their word, as Lindsey Graham did, that they can’t just break it.”  (MSNBC)  As Mehdi Hasan said on Twitter: “Don’t know whether to laugh or cry.”
  • China is imprisoning Uighurs (The Guardian)
  • DeJoy has told a judge that the USPS cannot reassemble the hundreds of high speed mail-sorting machines they dismantled.  Surprise, surprise.   The judge noted that 72% of the decommissioned machines were located in counties where Clinton got the most votes in 2016.  (Bloomberg)
  • In 2000, Al Gore and the Democratic Party “handed George W. Bush the presidency by placing its faith in the Supreme Court – and by refusing to support mass mobilizations demanding that every vote be counted.” (Jacobin)

georgia: stealing the election

“Nothing should be more self-evident than the simple statement that for an election to have legitimacy, the counting process must be observable” Code Red by Jonathan Simon.

In many states, however, Republican party officials have worked to make sure that the counting process is not observable.  They have spent millions of taxpayer dollars to fool us into believing that we have a fair, observable system when we do not.

In the state of Georgia, to give but one example, the government of Brian Kemp (who himself benefited from vote manipulation that edged him into the governorship) is using tax payer money to make sure that the voting process is secret.

Georgia had used a paperless, touchscreen voting machine system since 2002.  When we voted, our votes disappeared into a cyber world that could not be checked, verified, or audited.

The state then ignored warnings from independent researchers that the system had been easily penetrated through the internet.  Because state officials refused to admit the problems with the system, it became necessary to file a lawsuit in 2017.  The problems were found by the court to be  so egregious, that in 2019, a federal court order had to be issued to require Georgia to stop using the all‑electronic voting system by year’s end because of the system’s proven vulnerability to cyberattack (Curling v. Raffensperger).

The response from Republican government officials was not to return to hand-marked paper ballots, but to spend over $100 million dollars on a new voting machine system that was designed not to secure the vote, but to convince voters (and the court) that votes were “secured.” 

In addition to the amount of money paid for the voting system, an untold amount of state money was used in a PR campaign to dupe the people of Georgia into believing that this new system was an improvement over the last one.  It was not.

What the new, outrageously expensive system did was to introduce a piece of paper into the process, what they called a “paper ballot,” that was printed by a machine.  Officials then crowed that the vote was verifiable.  And, they went around the state recruiting organizations and groups to pose with the new state “I Secured my Vote” propaganda.  But, the paper, the “ballot” was nothing more than a prop in the theatre production that was to look like an “election.”

The process works like this:

The voter’s identification is checked in on an electronic polling book (computer) that has records of registered voters.  If registered the voter is given a card. 

This card is inserted into another machine, a Ballot Marking Device (BMD).

The voter then touches a screen to record his/her votes.

When finished, the BMD issues a “ballot.”

So, the BMD records the vote and marks a “ballot” for the voter.  It then prints out that ballot with words that are said to reflect the voting preferences. 

The voter is asked (encouraged) to take that ballot to a different station and check the words to make sure that they accurately reflect the voting preferences, i.e., how you voted.

Then, the voter takes the ballot and feeds it into a scanner which records the vote.  The ballots collect inside the scanner which looks (ironically enough) like an enormous trash can.

Now, first of all, every polling place is mandated to stock readers, glasses that magnify the words on the ballot because the print is so small.  This obviously in and of itself discourages voters from checking the ballots.   

But, more importantly, what they don’t tell the voter is that the words on the ballot are not what is counted when s/he puts the ballot into the scanner.  The words, the ones telling the voter who s/he voted for are meaningless gibberish.  They are decoration, props.  The words printed on the “ballot” have no relation to the vote counted by the scanner. 

What the scanner counts is a bar code printed at the bottom of the ballot.  You cannot read the barcode.  In most cases, not even computer experts can read the barcode in these electronic voting systems.  You have no idea what the scanner records, and you cannot check it with readers or without them.

So, just imagine this.  You vote on a machine, it prints out words on a piece of paper that reflect who you voted for.  You check these words to make sure that they reflect who you voted for.  You put this paper in the scanner and this machine records not what you checked, but something you cannot check, a barcode at the bottom of the page.  You have been duped.

But, you might say, these ballots are still paper, physical, they can be recounted if there is a problem.  This is better than the completely paperless system before.  Perhaps, but this actually makes no difference if the recount does not examine the words printed on the ballot. 

The state of Georgia has made clear that any recount (and recounts are not easy to get) will only involve running the ballots through the scanner again, a second time.  They have explicitly stated that there will be no examination of the match between the printed words and the barcodes.

So, the new voting system is designed not to provide a “transparent, fair, accurate, and verifiable election processes…” (as U.S. District Judge Totenberg mandated in 2019) but exactly the opposite.  The new voting system is engineered to make people believe that it is transparent and verifiable, and to give them pieces of paper they can hold and “check” in order to fool them. 

Judge Totenberg held a hearing this week to consider a preliminary injunction brought on behalf of the people of Georgia, to force the state to use hand-marked paper ballots in the November election for people who are voting in person.

But, after spending the outrageous $100 million for the new voting system/propaganda system, the lawyers for the state of Georgia maintain that this would be too expensive and too cumbersome.

We must start asking and demanding answers to questions about why the state of Georgia spent this enormous amount of money on a voting system that doesn’t ensure transparency and now is spending more money fighting measures to try to ensure transparency.

VOTING RIGHTS: STEALING THE 2020 ELECTION

code red

Jennifer Cohn recently interviewed exit-poll specialist Jonathan Simon.  This is an interview which is essential to understanding what is likely to happen in 2020.  The Republicans have thousands of initiatives proceeding throughout the system and throughout the country to ensure a Republican victory.  While the Democrats and the media seem occasionally concerned with the possibility that Trump may refuse to leave office should he lose, they refuse to confront what evidence from 2000 clearly shows, i.e., that the Republicans will run every scheme imaginable to steal the vote itself.

People simply do not want to confront the fact that the election itself will be fraudulent.  The following are excerpts from the interview by Jennifer Cohn.

VOTING RIGHTS: STEALING THE ELECTION: Jonathan SIMON INTERVIEW

  • 2000 was a “harbinger of things to come.” It included hanging chads, a partisan Secretary of State in Florida, voting machine memory card “errors” that subtracted votes from Gore, a bogus voter purge.
  • Kavanaugh and Roberts, two of the people who helped stop the election recount in florida in 2000 are in positions of power today. Roger Stone helped organize the “Brooks Brothers riot” to intimidate recount workers and stall the recount so it would be hard to complete the recount before the deadline.
  • After the GOP blocked the recount, they suckered the Democrats into passing the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) in 2002. This allocated billions of dollars for new electronic voting machines many of which made recounts impossible because they didn’t use paper ballots.  There were Democrats who co-sponsored HAVA.
  • Hillar Clinton and Schumer were the only two democrats to oppose the HAVA.
  • Georgia was the first state to deploy paperless (unrecountable, unauditable) touchscreen voting machines statewide. After that there were several “poll-defying” GOP victories.  The GOP took the governorship and have held power ever since.
  • The 2000 election between Gore and bush was decided by 537 votes in Florida.
  • In 2004, Ohio Secretary of State, Ken Blackwell, was also the Ohio Bush Campaign’s Honorary chairman. The current Secretary of State in Ohio, Frank laRose, has recently banned more than 1 drop box per county.
  • Late on election night, Kerry led. Ohio’s server went down for no reason that has ever been explained.  Blackwell had set up a backup server controlled by Mike Connell (who was Karl Rove’s IT guy).  The server routed Ohio’s results to Tennessee.  When the main server went back up, Bush had the lead.

 

ESSENTIAL ARTICLE: The Thin Blue Line Between Violent, Pro-Trump Militias and Police, The Intercept

rittenhouse with gun

Devereaux, Ryan (8/28/20) “The thin blue…” The Intercept.

“We appreciate you guys. We really do.”

That’s what the police officers in vehicles told a gathering of armed men on the streets of Kenosha, Wisconsin while throwing them bottles of water.  One of those men then killed two protesters and seriously wounded another.

After shooting a protester, the assailant made a call saying “I just killed somebody.”  He then ran away while other young men tried to save the protester’s life.

The shooter, Kyle Rittenhouse, approached police with his arms up and his AR-15 gun strapped around his chest.  He was virtually ignored and allowed to return home even though other protesters were telling the police that he had just shot someone.

Knosha County Sheriff David Beth offered no explanation as to why Rittenhouse was permitted to leave the scene of the shootings.  In addition to being identified as a shooter out after curfew, the 17-year-old was not old enough to legally carry the weapon he had.

When asked about Rittenhouse leaving the scene, the sheriff said:  “I don’t have a clue.”  He later added: “I don’t even know the man’s name.”

Just hours before the shooting, the Kenosha Guard, a local militia group issued a “call to arms” over Facebook.  This call was amplified by the conspiracy theory website, InfoWars.  They urged private citizens to arm themselves and come out in defense of private property.

Sheriff Beth said at a press conference that the group sought to be deputized, a request he claims he rejected.  But, you only have to watch Rittenhouse walking toward the police, an AK-15 strapped around his chest to realize that he assumed the police would regard him as an ally.

“Mike German, a former FBI agent who went undercover in far-right groups in the 1990s and who is now at the Brennan Center for Justice, noted that law enforcement’s tendency to back off in the face armed right-wing protests was evident in altercations during Trump’s 2016 run for office, and has continued throughout his administration. “To see the police continuing to treat these far-right militants as friendlies is troubling,” he said.” (Quote from the Intercept)

Among the myriad factors contributing to the political violence and unrest the country is now witnessing is an inversion of the relationship between some elements of the armed right and the federal government…. “The anti-government movement is no longer anti-government in the sense that the federal government is no longer its enemy.” “Trump has changed that calculation — the militias, the larger anti-government world, is essentially a pro-Trump political formation.” (Quote from the Intercept)

Posts Rittenhouse made on social media indicate that his worldview was drenched in a militarized culture that has animated large swaths of the country after nearly two decades of war and the emergence of law enforcement as a powerful cultural and political constituency. Embedded in that worldview is a “tactical” community with its own symbols and language, built around the idea of constant threat, good guys versus bad guys, and the sacred role of guns in maintaining social order.

In Philadelphia earlier this summer, a meeting between Vice President Mike Pence and the local police union also featured members of the Proud Boys, a right-wing street-fighting gang that often shows up at pro-police protests to brawl with leftists.

Mackey, Robert (8/27/20) “Trump supporters…” The Intercept.

When Tucker Carlson set off a firestorm of criticism on Wednesday — by describing a 17-year-old Trump supporter who opened fire on protesters in Kenosha, Wisconsin on Tuesday, killing two, as a well-meaning kid who decided he “had to maintain order” in the Democrat-run state because “no one else would” — the Fox News host was surfacing an idea that had already spread widely on the far-right.

The Intercept: Militia and the Thin Blue Line