Category Archives: Voting rights

STEALING THE ELECTION: GEORGIA

The state of Georgia sent a memo today to all County Registrars. In this memo, headed “Be wary of false and misleading information re: ICX update” the State of Georgia accused attorneys involved in litigation of “false and misleading allegations.”

The memo, which is in tone and content, completely unprofessional, Chris Harvey, Elections Division warns county election officials about correspondence they “may have received” from “activists.”

The “activists” in question are attorneys who are fighting in court to try to ensure that the state of Georgia does not install a last-minute update to the software in Dominion voting machines used across the state.

Warning county officials, the state writes:

“These activists have been suing the state and Georgia counties for years because they disagree with the decision of the Georgia General Assembly to use electronic ballot-marking devices instead of hand-marked paper ballots. Because their preferred policy was not enacted, they have tried to force their preferred policy on the state through litigation. The latest correspondence makes false and misleading allegations regarding the recent update to the ICX (touchscreen) component of Georgia’s voting system.”

The updates to the software were said to be necessary because of problems that arose with the Dominion voting system at the beginning of recent testing for the upcoming election.

Attorneys trying to bring some transparency to this update process have been dismissed as has their case. The SOS’s office is arguing that updates do not have to be verified or certified. The citizens of Georgia should just trust them to reprogram voting machines less than two weeks before early voting begins.

stealing the vote: state developments

STEALING THE VOTE:

•       The Supreme Court has sided with South Carolina Republicans attempting to suppress the vote by reinstating a law requiring witness signature for mail-in ballots.  This decreases the vote by making it more difficult for people to vote, requiring them to risk COVID by having someone else witness the ballot, and provides yet another point top invalidate votes (the verifying and matching of the witness signature). 

•       In Florida, the voter registration website crashed and stayed down for several hours on Monday, the deadline to register.  Again, every obstacle decreases the vote which is what the Republicans are counting on.

•       In Iowa, Republicans blocked sending out ballots that had pre-filled voter information on them. Tens of thousands of ballots were invalidated.  This means confusion, the likelihood that people will send in the wrong ballot, and the necessity of the state to send out replacement ballots a month before the election.

These are three incidents in three states, being replicated all over the country.    

 In Georgia, software on all the states voting machines is being replaced A MONTH BEFORE THE ELECTION.  This software change is being done by the voting machine company, unverified, unexamined, and uncertified. 

The Republicans are pulling out all the stops.  They have too much at stake to lose this election.  They are going to lie, cheat and finally steal this election and the Democrats and the media are going to be caught off guard.  VOTING IS NOT GOING TO BE ENOUGH.

And: Pennsylvania’s online system for registering to vote and applying for and tracking mail ballots crashed over the weekend, triggering an outage that stretched for more than 24 hours and prompted frustration from voters weeks before critical election deadlines.

stealing the election: georgia problems with the $104 million dollar voting system

Court Hearing: Georgia

In a hearing conducted this morning in federal court in Georgia, the Secretary of State’s (SOS’s) office and the Coalition for Good Governance (CFGG) sparred over errors already found in the new $104 million (at least) electronic voting machine system Brian Kemp’s government bought and paid for with taxpayer money.

On Friday, the SOS’s office issued a bulletin to all of Georgia’s 159 counties telling them to stop Logistics and Analysis (L&A) testing of election devices and systems. The SOS’s office said that an error had been uncovered in the database and the entire database would have to be replaced. 

The error had evidently caused candidates in a multi-candidate race to disappear from the screen, the “disappearing colum” problem.

In court on Monday morning the SOS’S office changed their position and said that would not have to replace the database. They were instead changing the software.

This information was news to the Coalition for Good Governance (CFGG).  They, like the rest of the public, were under the assumption that the database would be replaced.  Lawyers for CFGG argued that changing of the software after voting had already begun was an even more serious problem than replacing the database.

And, CFGG argued that there was not (as the SOS’S office had maintained) just one problem.  There were three problems uncovered by Georgia counties once they started testing. According to CFGG, the State had disclosed one problem but not all of the problems.

Three Problems Not Just One

As lawyers for CFGG pointed out, the State had disclosed only one problem but not two other problems that CFGG had been made aware of. 

Because of a subpoena, lawyers for CFGG were supposed to witness the testing of a scanner in Cherokee County, Georgia.  But, when CFGG contacted Cherokee County to arrange for this witnessing, officials told them that they could come but that the scanner wasn’t recording votes.  This problem was a different problem than the “disappearing column” one reported to the press by the SOS.  The attorney for CFGG noted that he had talked with officials in Cherokee County Monday morning and the scanner was still not working.

The other, third problem the SOS was not disclosing was a problem in Irwin County, where votes for a write-in candidate were not registering at all.  

Lawyers for the SOS’S office basically dismissed concerns expressed over all of the problems, accusing the CFGG of making mountains out of molehills. 

The Seriousness of the Problem

In the hearing, the SOS repeatedly minimized the seriousness of the problems and expressed contempt for the lawyers at CFGG. At one point, the SOS’s office argued that the robustness of their testing ensured that problems like the “disappearing columns” problem would not only be found but would be corrected. 

The CFGG argued, however, that just because one needle is found hidden in the haystack, that doesn’t mean that the location of all the other needles was known.  The SOS found out about the “disappearing column” problem, argued the CFGG attorney by accident, a “freakish” discovery.  Just because this problem was uncovered in testing that didn’t mean that ALL problems were discovered or wound be discovered.  There is no way of knowing how many other problems there are out there that haven’t been reported or have been dismissed. 

The SOS’s office repeatedly in the hearing tried to behave as if the “disappearing column” problem was the only problem and that this problem was “diminimus” meaning not very serious.   Evidently in state law, if a problem with the voting system is deemed to be “diminimus” then there are certain actions that aren’t required.  In other words, if the problem is deemed not to be serious, serious actions doesn’t need to be taken. 

SOS officials argued that some testing lab (what lab?) found the “disappearing column” problem to be “diminimus.” What we don’t know is what procedure was used for declaring the problem to be “diminimus?”  And, this completely ignores the other problems.

Anybody with a brain would question this determination.  Who decides that a problem with the election system is “not serious” as opposed to “serious?”  What are the rules about establishing a “serious” as opposed to a “non serious” problem. 

But, in court this morning, the SOS’s office tried to trivialize these questions and also to assert dominion over the issue.   Gabriel Sterling, for the SOS;s office, stated: “That is how it’s done and that is how we will continue to do it.”  The authoritarian tone of that statement is inescapable.

The “Disappearing Column” Problem

As mentioned earlier, the State’s argument in the hearing was that the system’s testing regime is so “robust” that it found the “disappearing column” problem and that it will find all the other possible problems.

The State argued that the “disappearing column” problem occurred only when a specific behavior pattern is exhibited by the voter.  What this means is that if the voter is looking at the screen where the state has listed multiple candidates and then flips back a screen to look at a previous screen (for example, to double check a choice) that is when the “disappearing screen” occurs.  My understanding from the hearing is that the State maintains that the “disappearing screen” doesn’t happen every time a voter goes back a screen, just sometimes.  

This is a $104 million (at least) voting system.  But, voters moving back and forth between screens either checking a previous choice or through error, throws the entire system into chaos and makes legally eligible candidates disappear off the voting screen.  The State argued that voters rarely choose to move back to check another screen.  But, THEY DON’T KNOW THIS.  How would they know this?

And why with a $104 system, hasn’t somebody thought about the possibility of a voter flipping back a screen? Flipping from screen to screen is something that anybody who uses a computer does every day.  $104 million and this is a problem? 

The Numbers in the Name Problem

Not only have the architects of a $104 million system not ever thought of the possibility of voters flipping back and forth between screens, they also haven’t thought of other possibilities. The “disappearing column” problem is one issue and evidently the one the State of Georgia has chosen to deal with. But there are two other problems.

In Irwin County, election officials were so conscientious in their testing that they made sure that every write-in candidate would be recorded.  Because the state certifies qualified write-in candidates and sends a list to county officials, the head of elections in Irwin county decided to check those names against the machines. 

What he found was that one write-in candidate couldn’t be chosen.  The machine wouldn’t accept the choice.  The reason?  The candidate had numbers in his name.  Using a $104 million voting system, this is a problem.   The candidate chose to use the name PresidentR19boddie.  Why?  I have no idea.

But, because the officials in Irwin County were conscientious, they made sure that a vote for any of the write-in candidates would be recorded.  What they found was that the program would only allow letters, not numerals.  Again, this is a $104 million voting system. 

The Scanner Problem in Cherokee County

Because of a subpoena granted in the lawsuit brought by CFGG, experts from CFGG were supposed to witness the functioning or testing of a scanner in Cherokee County.  When lawyers from CFGG contacted Cherokee County to arrange this witnessing, the officials told CFGG that they could come to Cherokee county, but the scanner wasn’t working.  

According to lawyers from CFGG speaking during the hearing on Monday morning, they contacted the SOS’s office multiple times during the weekend to alert them to the problem in Cherokee County.  The SOS’s office ignored them and didn’t even respond.  Lawyers from the CFGG pointed out to the State that this problem was different from the one the State was alerting counties about with the “disappearing columns.”  But, as the lawyers from CFGG characterized it there were “crickets.”

In the hearing, lawyers for the SOS’s office maintained that they were not aware of the problem in Cherokee County.  Lawyers for the CFGG pointed out that they had repeatedly notified the state and had talked to Cherokee County on Monday morning and confirmed that the scanner was still not working.

Confusion

The CFGG attorneys also pointed out in the hearing that whatever the problems were, even after the bulletin issued by the SOS’s office to stop L&A analysis, some counties were proceeding.  So, it appeared that some counties hadn’t even understood the bulletin.  There was confusion among the county officials.

Software

In the end, SOS officials claimed that they were going to change not the database, as they had told the counties on Friday, but the software.  In the hearing at least the question of who was going to approve of, check, and certify this change in software was not answered. 

Elections security expert Jennifer Cohn argued that this change of the software was even more serious and fraught with potential for security risks than a change in the database.

stealing the election: georgia

On Friday, 26 September 2020, the Secretary of State’s office in Georgia sent out a notification to county elections offices.  The notification alerted county officials that the state had discovered a programming error involving the state’s touchscreens.  These touchscreens are part of a new election system bought by Governor Brian Kemp’s administration that cost the taxpayers of Georgia almost $150 million. 

This expensive new voting system was pushed through right before the 2020 election despite warnings that it was too cumbersome and impossible to establish before the 2020 election.  Georgia’s Secretary of State, Brad Raffensperger was quoted in February of 2020 as saying: “This is the fastest and the largest implementation that’s ever been done in America.”  

When poll worker training was started in Georgia, manuals were incomplete, and at least some devices were not working. 

The programming error found on Friday, will require the state to reprogram 30,000 new touchscreens called Ballot-Marking-Devices (BMDs).  It is difficult to see how this is possible before early voting starts on October 12.

The Coalition for Good Government discovered the flaw in the database hours after the SOS’s office notified county officials.

 According to Jeanne Dufort, an election security commentator (9/25/20, Twitter): the “flawed database that has halted critical election preparation in GA shows the risks of outsourced elections.  The SOS relied on the vendor to prepare election data bases for all GA counties, and failed to exercise proper oversight – putting the statewide election at risk.”

“We do not know the nature of the database flaw, other than it caused the state to stop LAT (Logic and Accuracy Testing), and inform counties completed LAT is wasted.”

Reading:

Gray, Justin (2/4/20) Georgia Sets up a New Voting System.  WSBTV uote fro Article: The new machines are more secure than Georgia’s old voting machines because they generate paper ballots.

https://www.wsbtv.com/news/local/georgia-sets-up-new-voting-system-2020/BBKHZH5DOREF7MHSCRVEAHMXYU/

GPB Voting SYStem

https://www.gpb.org/news/2019/03/18/heres-what-vendors-say-it-would-cost-replace-georgias-voting-system

stealing the election: georgia

I Secured my Vote – Georgia Propaganda

The repeated threat by Trump that he may not cede power even if the 2020 vote goes against him, accomplishes two things.

First, it normalizes any such refusal should it become necessary.  His base has been psychologically groomed for five years to accept the notion that the vote is “rigged” not for Trump but against him and that any actions the Republicans take in response to this rigging, is warranted.  I have no doubt that most of this base would now welcome, indeed celebrate, a refusal of Trump to leave office.  And, I have no doubt that Republican elected officials would support him.   

Second, this repeated harping on the “rigging” of the election, draws out Democrats to deny the assertion.  Democrat after Democrat goes on television (just like they did in 2016) asserting that everyone must accept the outcome of the vote as legitimate.  In 2016, they did so believing that Hillary Clinton was going to win.  Barak Obama was so certain Clinton was going to win, he backed down on telling the American people the truth about Russian interference in the election.  Clinton, he is reported to have thought, would sort it out.

2020 seems to be shaping up in very much the same way.  Just as in 2016, poll after poll indicates that the Democrat will win.  Corporate Democratic strategists and pundits are sending out resumes and planning their second or third home purchase. 

But, as Jonathan Simon (election specialist and author of Code Red) has pointed out regarding this election, the Republicans are gaming out several bites at the electoral apple. 

By generating massive attention to norm-shattering methods of stealing the election (having the states choose the electors, refusing to leave office, declaring a victory immediately and claiming all the mail-in ballots are false, filing more lawsuits and throwing the race into the Supreme Court) Republicans are successfully deflecting attention away from what is a more insidious enterprise, manipulating the vote count itself.

Election security is not something I ever intended to research.  Then, I went to my yearly poll worker training in Georgia.  I walked out at lunch convinced that there was something very wrong with the new voting system recently purchased by Brian Kemp’s government. 

I am not a technical person, not by any stretch of the imagination a computer person, but even I could tell that the training was focused as much on propaganda as it was on administering an election.  For example, signs we had used for years in the polling place were now being thrown away and replaced with “secure the vote” signs.  The standard lapel stickers saying “I voted”, was now “I secured my vote.” Why had the state invested all this money in convincing us this vote was secure?

I could also tell that if the things that routinely went wrong with the technology in my own house (printers inexplicably not working, scanners backing up and jamming) went wrong on election day, it was going to be a disaster.  It was also evident to me that the measures that were being taken to “secure the vote” were geared toward threats to elections held years ago, before computers entered the picture. 

In addition, we were discouraged from asking “political” questions, i.e., how the various computerized machines were programmed, or what kept them secure from being hacked.

Parts of the election technology, the poll books that were supposed to tell us whether a person was registered to vote, wouldn’t even work in the training session.  The county official who was in charge of training us to operate this equipment could not get the poll book to work for the entire morning.

The county official first told us that these polling books (computers) were secure because they never left the control of the county election officials, and then when she couldn’t get it to work blamed this on the fact that the polling book had been in somebody else’s control before the training session. 

And, then there was the discussion of the printed “ballot” that voters were supposed to check for accuracy before putting it in the scanner.  We were told that there would be a designated poll worker who would encourage voters to check their ballots to make sure that the “Ballot Marking Device” had accurately recorded their vote. It was mandatory for each polling place to have readers available, glasses so that people could read the ballots.  This was necessary because the print was so small.

I came home disgusted, distressed and feeling like I had been part of a scam.  There was just too much push to convince us how secure this new outrageously expensive voting system was.  I’ve always been like one of those horses that balks at the gate if you lead them too fast.  You start trying too hard to convince me of something, I’m going to yank my head back and jerk the reins out of your hand.

I felt horrible about walking out of the training.  The women that run the county elections are wonderful people.  The people I had worked with on election day in the past were wonderful, conscientious, dedicated.  But I just couldn’t do this one.

So, I started researching.  I had run across information before about manipulation of the vote count, especially in the race between Stacey Abrams and Brian Kemp.  But, I hadn’t spend much time reading about it.  It’s not easy reading for a number of reasons.  But I remembered the server that had been wiped clean after the Abrams race when it got down to actually recounting the votes. 

The same people who orchestrated the highly suspect election where Kemp beat Abrams were now spending a whole lot of our money trying to convince us that our vote was “secure.” I couldn’t shake the feeling that there was something wrong.

Then, I stumbled across the information (never talked about in the training) that the paper ballot printed out for voters, the paper that had their choices printed on it was not what the scanners counted.  The printed words (that were too small to read without glasses) were meaningless.  The scanner actually used a bar code at the bottom of the ballot to record the vote.  So, this ballot, this thing that the Kemp administration kept telling people was a verifiable paper ballot, was not that at all.  When voters were told to check the printed words on the ballot to make sure their votes had been accurately recorded, they were being scammed, conned, fooled.  The scanner didn’t pay the least bit of attention to the printed words.  It recorded a vote coded into the bar code.  The voter couldn’t read the bar code, couldn’t verify it.  The election officials couldn’t even read the bar code. 

I knew then I was going to have to devote a considerable amount of time trying to understand this.

After following Jennifer Cohn and Jonathan Simon, listening to an interview between the two of them and reading Jonathan Simon’s book “Code Red,” it became evident to me that Georgia was just one part of a national effort by Republicans to steal this election. 

That fact becomes more and more evident with every day.

Ginsburg, celebrity culture and “civil grace.”

Saturday 19 September 2020

I despise the celebrity culture that has taken over this country.  The Democratic National Convention was nothing other than a cheap, vacuous, celebrity infomercial devoid of policy and full of “cult of personality” programming.  It was an embarrassment. 

Somehow, we were supposed to believe that because Joe Biden is a nice guy and has lost family members, he should be president of the United States.  Somehow, we were supposed to pat ourselves on the back and glory in the fact that we had nominated an African American, Asian woman to be vice president.  Never mind the policies of these two people.  Never mind their histories.  It is supposed to be enough that these two are telegenic, just as nice as they can be, and fit certain categories of human beings.

That is evidently where we are.

After the convention we were treated to more infomercials.  In one of them, Kamala Harris had a charming, laughing, conversation with Barak Obama about Biden liking ice cream and wearing a certain kind of sunglasses.  This was seriously intended to get us to vote for the Democrats – the fact that the party elite could chat on television and laugh about the personal foibles of the candidate.  This is what they think of us.  This is nothing but insulting.

In the true fashion of this celebrity worship culture we have going on, the corporate media is this weekend, endlessly talking about the life of Ruth Bader Ginsburg.  We are in the middle of a war for  a democratic society, and we are engaging in celebrity worship.

As Elie Mystal pointed out writing in the Nation, we don’t have time for this, and Ginsburg would be the first person to see that we don’t have time for this.

Ginsburg occupied a pivotal position on the U.S. Supreme Court and her death has created a crisis that just illustrates the dysfunction of the government and the society.  The death of a judge, one judge, shouldn’t throw the country into a crisis.  The appointment of one judge shouldn’t mean the difference between democracy and authoritarianism.  But, it does.  It hands to the Republicans the opportunity to conclusively warp this society into an authoritarian kleptocratic state devoid of rights for regular ordinary human beings. 

This is where we are.  We have to fight this authoritarian take-over with everything in our beings.  But, tonight, on CNN they are hosting Scalia’s son to discuss (out of all the other things about Ginsburg’s life) the beautiful relationship between Ginsburg and one of the arch enemies of law and therefore democracy, Antonin Scalia. 

I’m sorry but I just can’t stomach this.  I suppose there is somewhere, something laudatory about being able to be friends with people who are sitting at the peak of privilege and wealth and power and working to destroy democracy and the rule of law for the rest of us, but I just don’t see it. 

If we have to sit through this eulogizing of Ginsburg, the last thing we need is to have right-wing Federalist Society zealots to talk about her.  The last thing we need is to try to convince people that what we need is more bipartisan cooperation.  No, we need less, and we need to fight for democratic law and democratic institutions.

The corporate Democrats who have much more reason to talk about Ginsburg, are bad enough.  Last night, Nina Totenberg was on Rachael Maddow talking about her friendship with Ginsberg.  She said wistfully that Ginsburg had planned to retire in 2016 and have her successor named by the first woman president.  Isn’t that special?  I might plan to have thoroughbred horses fly out of my ass, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to happen.

This story was presented as if it demonstrated something positive about Ginsburg, and it has been retweeted today by people who obviously think the same thing.

To me, it just demonstrates what was wrong with the Democratic Party elite in 2016 and what is still wrong with the Democratic Party elite today. 

Barak Obama declined to tell the American people the truth about something crucially important to them.  He refused to tell them that Russian operatives had intervened in the 2016 election to the extent of penetrating the voting systems in 50 states. 

Obama made this decision, as far as I can tell, because first, he was afraid of the reaction of Republicans if he came out and told the American people without bipartisan support.  He was so afraid of appearing partisan he lied by omission, lied about something vital to the functioning of democracy.  Mitch McConnell refused to join Obama and make a public, bipartisan statement and Obama didn’t have the guts to do it alone.

Second, Barak Obama was afraid of tarnishing his cherished legacy by appearing to be “partisan” in the 2016 election.  He was more concerned with his legacy (to people who despise him) than his country. 

Third, Barak Obama was so sure Hillary Clinton was going to win, he decided he wouldn’t have to tell the truth to the American people.  Clinton could solve the problem after she was elected.

All three of these excuses stink to high heaven and again illustrate something characteristic about the Democratic corporate elite.

This professional class of Democrats think they know better than the American people how to run the country.  They think that their judgement is better than everybody else’s. 

They can handle, among themselves, an unprecedented intrusion into the election process.  Why tell the unwashed masses?

Obama reportedly thought that telling the truth would shake the confidence of the American people in the election process.  He’s not the only member of the Democratic elite to think this.  There are an astounding number of people out there who will react like vicious dogs if the integrity of the election process is even questioned.

The logic of this position just amazes me.  It goes something like this.  The election process has been corrupted but we mustn’t tell the American people because it might shake their confidence in an election process that because of corruption can be no longer relied on.  So, it’s better to have the American people believe a lie, continue to trust an election system that can’t be trusted.  It’s better because we (the Democratic elite) can deal with it ourselves, behind closed doors.  That worked out really well.

This same kind of hubris evidently led Ruth Bader Ginsburg to think she could continue (in ill health and advanced age) to sit on the Supreme Court and have Clinton name her replacement.  Having the first woman president name her replacement made a good story, a fitting end to her career.  And, like Obama, she was convinced (so convinced she was willing to risk our future) that Clinton was going to win.  Even with a compromised election process (which they all knew about), Clinton’s baggage and low approval ratings and an e-mail scandal, Clinton was going to win.  Why?  Because they wanted her to.

I’ve got news for these people.  They don’t get to determine what’s going to happen.  They don’t control events.  What kind of delusional hubris leads one to stay in a position at the Supreme Court, a crucial position, a history changing pivotal position, counting on the fact that they are going to waltz out with the first woman president because that’s what they want to happen?

I’m sorry.  Ginsburg appears to have been a wonderful person, lawyer, activist, but someone genuinely concerned with and committed to the struggle, with the future of the country for ordinary people, would have resigned during Obama’s administration to make sure that the ideals she believed in and fought so hard for, had a chance of continuing. 

And, I fault not only Ginsburg but Obama and his administration for not pushing her resignation.  I ask you: What is wrong with these people?   

I keep going back to a film quote.  As Yankees are overrunning Atlanta, Aunt Pittypat is concerned about Scarlet having a chaperone.  Dr. Meade, in utter and complete frustration yells:  “Good God, woman, this is a war, not a garden party.”

But, this Democratic elite – the politicians, the “strategists,” the pollsters, the pundits – all of them are so filled with pride and smug assuredness that they can’t see what is happening around them.

Even now, after all the mistakes of 2016, the Democratic corporate elite seems to be waltzing off an electoral cliff supported by their own delusions.

Ginsburg wasn’t a healthy 50-year-old.  They knew she was ill, had known for years.  If they couldn’t convince her to resign when Obama could nominate a successor, they should have had a strategy for what they were going to do if she suddenly died during Trump’s administration.  They should have hit the ground running on Friday night, not sat stunned, grief stricken, and still counting on the Republicans to “do the right thing.” 

I mean, Jesus F…ing Christ.  Anybody who is now, four years into this administration, relying in any way on the Republicans to do the right thing, is just brain dead (I include Cory Booker in that category).

For the first time on Friday night, I heard Chris Hayes interview somebody (Rebecca Traister) who sounded like I and a lot of other people have felt for four years.  Traister was and said she was terrified and furious.  She sounded like somebody who was terrified and furious, not like the stable of “calmers”, the “institutions are holding” gang on MSNBC who have been interviewed today.  Cory Booker, Klobuchar, the presidential historians, Hirono (as much as I love her), Capehart, Jarrett.

I swear I think that part of the deal to convince all the corporate democrats to drop out of the race and endorse Biden was an agreement by MSNBC to interview them every fifteen minutes.

Last week, Cory Booker was on Ari Melber’s (also disgustingly celebrity laden) show claiming that what we needed was a “return to civic grace.”  That’s Booker’s answer to an authoritarian take-over, a return to “civic grace.”  I’m sure Mitch McConnell will take that “return to civic grace” and stuff it up Booker’s nose.

Stealing the election: Just today

The Head Fake

  • Trump in a news conference (or whatever that things is he does when he comes out and lies for an extended period of time) is preparing the population for a “disaster” on election day.  He keeps repeating the scenario and thereby painting the picture for his supporters of total confusion.  Today he said that the Republicans are appealing to the courts who he hopes will “see this clearly and stop it.”  He called the sending out of ballots to citizens as “the scam of all time.”
  • The reporter for CNN falls for the head fake and says: Mail in voting is safe.  There is no fraud and there are no missing ballots as Trump accused.
  • So, once again, just as in 2016, the Republicans scream rigging, the Democrats and the media yell, no rigging.  The Republicans rig and the Democrats and the media are left stunned. 

Election Security: Stealing the Election

  • Jennifer Cohn is tweeting that the DeVos family company Amway partnered with Russia’s Alfa Bank in 2014.  It was Alfa Bank that was pinging both Trump Tower and Spectrum Health thousands of times in the summer of 2016.  This has never been explained.
  • Run, don’t walk to get a copy of Jonathan Simon’s “Code Red” 2020 edition.
  • Trump is tweeting that the Governor of Virginia (where early voting starts today) “wants to take away your guns,” and “is in favor of executing babies after birth.” 
  • According to Jennifer Cohn, (relying on Woodward), Russians installed malware in the voter registration systems of “at least two” Florida counties.  The malware was designed to erase voters. (Twitter)
  • Precinct ballot scanners in Michigan, Wisconsin and Florida include wireless modems that connect scanners and county central tabulators to the internet. (Twitter, Jennifer Cohn)
  • Texas, Tennessee, Indiana, Minnesota, Illinois, and Rhode Island also have modems that need to be removed before the election. (Cohn, Twitter)

Information on voting of Interest:

  • Zetter, Kim (8/8/19) “Critical U.S. ElectionSystems…” Vice

Other Information of Interest

  • Podcast on 9/11 Blindspot.
  • 102 of 140 inmates at a women’s prison in South Dakota have tested positive for Coronavirus. (AP)

Stealing the election one lawsuit at the time

“…the Trump campaign, the Republican Party and their judicial allies are not worrying about the Constitution. They are in full burn-it-down, win-at-any-cost mode.”  The Nation, John Nichols

https://www.thenation.com/article/politics/wisconsin-court-voter-suppression/

Even though the corporate media seems drawn to the notion of Trump refusing to leave the White House after a massive win by Biden, there is another much more likely scenario.  As Nichols writes: “…what could turn out to be the most concerted effort to overturn the will of the people is taking place before most ballots are cast.”

In a thousand different ways, the Republicans are deploying strategies to steal the election before it even beings.  Nichols details “legal challenges, lawsuits, court orders, decisions and rulings in so many states.”  It is, he says, a “strategic assault on voting rights.”

In May of 2020, the NYT was reporting millions of dollars allocated by the GOP to fund legal actions. This was part of a $20 million plan to challenge “voters deemed suspicious.”

In locality after locality, the Republicans and their teams of lawyers and jurists are placing barriers to high-turnout election.  In some states, like Florida and Georgia, this includes taxpayer funded efforts being carried out by Republican minions such as Ron DeSantis and Brian Kemp. 

In Florida, in addition to roadblocks to voting by mail, lawyers working for the Republican governor have secured a decision from the US Court of Appeals for the 11rh Circuit to require former felons to pay off any outstanding court fees before they can vote.  This is after the voters in Florida voted to allow former felons to vote.  But, the new poll tax approved by the court, means that some 774,000 former felons are now charged for the right to vote.  It is instructive to remember that Clinton lost Florida by less than 115,000 votes.

In Iowa, a successful legal challenge meant that absentee ballot requests already sent out were voided because the requests contained identifying voter information already filled in.  Republicans succeeded in having 64,000 requests voided in two counties.

In Pennsylvania, Republican lawyers are seeking to prevent voters from using drop boxes to deliver absentee ballots.  The drop boxes were intended to help compensate for the post office slow downs that will delay the ballots if mailed. 

Pennsylvania legislators have tried to ban drop boxes entirely and put new restrictions on deadlines for requesting mail in ballots.  Trump won Pennsylvania by less than 45,000 votes.

In some states, the courts have not allowed the Republican party to get away with this pre-election voter suppression.  In Ohio, for example, a judge ruled that the Republican Secretary of State, Frank LaRose’s, move to limit the use of drop boxes was “arbitrary and unreasonable.”

In Wisconsin, the State Supreme Court voted to let 1 million requested absentee ballots be sent to voters after the distribution of the ballots had been delayed.  There was a dispute over whether the Green Party had qualified for the ballot.   

But, in Texas last week, a panel of the US Court of Appeals for the fifth circuit ruled that Texas did not have to offer vote by mail to all eligible voters.  They embraced a Republican argument that the state should be allowed to mandate a 65-and-over age limit for voting absentee.

These lawsuits and many others form an attack on voting rights, the use of the courts to restrict voting in districts where Biden is thought to be ahead. 

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.