It is a sad comment on the state of our politics that Charles Blow feels the necessity to apologize for a mild, but crucial criticism of the Biden Administration.
Tag: Voting rights
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.
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.
“…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
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.
The New York Times yesterday published an article about Biden’s “war room,” a “major new legal operation” to deal with election protection. Staffed with hundreds of lawyers and big names like Eric Holder, we are led to believe that the Biden campaign will, unlike campaigns before it (Clinton and Kerry, for example) be prepared to handle any threat to the election process.
But, the article itself and the attitudes expressed by the people involved in this “operation,” demonstrate that both the NYT and the Biden campaign have swallowed hook, line and sinker the head-fake of the Trump administration.
The Biden campaign is described as responding to “baseless accusations of widespread fraud.” But, the accusations of fraud are not baseless.
“It’s going to be fraud all over the place,” Trump said in June. “This will be, in my opinion, the most corrupt election in the history of our country…” Trump should know. The Republican party is orchestrating the corruption.
But, by accusing the Democrats of fraud, early and often, the Republicans accomplish the same head-fake they pulled off in 2016. The Republicans yell fraud. The Democrats respond that the election will be fair. The head of this “operation” stated: “We can and will hold a free and fair election this fall and be able to trust the results.” The Republicans cheat like hell and win. The Democrats are left holding their private parts. How many times do we have to watch this happen?
There the legal battles being conducted in numerous states, especially in swing states to suppress the vote. In Florida, for example, an appeals court ruled Friday that people who had completed sentences for felonies would have to pay fines and fees before they could vote thereby imposing a poll tax. This is only one example.
Nowhere, nowhere does the article mention an effort of the Biden “war room” to confront perhaps the most dangerous of all threats to the integrity of the election, the utter lack of transparency of the vote count.
In fact what the article demonstrates clearly is that the Biden campaign is not going to touch this issue, and the corporate media is not going to bring it up.
As Jonathan Simon has written:
“We are about to head into the most critical set of elections in living memory continuing to permit our votes to be counted unobservably and without verification in the partisan, proprietary, pitch-dark of cyberspace and trusting that manifestly corruptible process to deliver the truth—an honest and accurate counting of our votes.”
It’s a war room preparing for the wrong war, and we ought to be asking why?
If you have not started following Jennifer Cohn on Twitter, you should. She is essential if you want to understand what is likely to happen in the 2020 election with election security.
Among the things you should note for today are:
- Even when the GOP allows Hand Marked Paper Ballots, they are careful to ensure that no one gets to look at them in a meaningful way. In 2000 and also in 2016, the GOP blocked hand recounts despite irregularities with electronic totals.
- 6,000 votes disappeared in the dead of election night in Don Siegelman’s run for governor in Alabama in 2002. Alabama’s Attorney General (Republican Bill Pryor), a client of Karl Rove, seized the paper ballots in question before Siegelman could have them recounted. Pryor then illegally certified the results.
- Siegelman’s experience is just one example of blatant, before our eyes, vote cheating. The Republicans cheated, stole an election, and none of them were ever prosecuted. Don Siegelman was the one who wound up in prison.
People you can follow onTwitter: @jennifercohn1, @DonSiegelman, @JonathanSimon14,
Don Siegelman’s book: Stealing our Democracy. https://www.amazon.com/Stealing-Our-Democracy-Political-Assassination/dp/1588384292/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=don+siegelman&qid=1598819261&sr=8-1
- Belarusian president Alexander Lukashenko has ordered protests to end in the capital Minsk. Protests are also going on in Khabarovsk. https://news.yahoo.com/belarus-crisis-unsettling-putin-home-162603296.html
- Olga Lautman (@olgaNYC1211) is reporting on Twitter that according to “Bild Media sources” the Kremlin is sending troops into Belarus in support of Lukashenko and to stop the protests. Alexandra Chalupa (@AlexandraChalup) notes that this is similar to actions Russia took in 2014 when they sent “humanitarian aid” into Urkaine followed by a military convoy.
- According to Greg Palast: 22% of all mail-in ballots don’t get counted.
- In 2016, more than 141,000 ballots were disqualified because someone challenged the signature.
- In 2016, in Michigan 75,000 ballots were not counted in Detroit, machines broke down. Trump supposedly won by 10,000 votes.
- In Wisconsin in 2016, over a hundred thousand students were told right before the election that they could not vote with their university issued ID.
- In Georgia, to vote with a mail-in ballot in the primary, there was a part of the ballot you had to unattach (it has no perforations) before you return the ballot. Also, if your signature changed from the signature you used when you signed up for your driver’s license, your ballot could be challenged and thrown away. For example, if you signed your driver’s license Christina J. Johns and you sign your ballot “Christina Johns” they can throw it out.
- Greg Palast’s book “How Trump Stole 2020 “is a must read. But, the most interesting fact to come out of this book is that presented with the evidence of the stealing of votes, the Clinton campaign would not challenge the results. Does anybody think that the Biden campaign will do any differently?
- And, while I’m on the subject, the Obama administration failed to hold officials from the Bush administration accountable for torture or domestic surveillance. And they refused to prosecute those responsible for the 2008 financial crisis. They said they wanted to move ahead.
- I will eat my left arm off if a Biden administration does any differently. They will not hold the criminals and grifters and treasonous bastards in the Trump administration responsible for their crimes. They will also say “Let’s move ahead.” “Let’s look at the future not the past.”
- On the first night of the Democratic Convention, the Michigan Governor, Gretchen Whitmer bragged that Obama and Biden “didn’t waste time” blaming those who were responsible for the worst economic disaster since the Great Depression. No, why “waste time” enforcing the law for white collar, corporate and political criminals. It’s too easy to wind up among them.