Stopping H.R. 550 because we can't compromise on democracy
by Nancy Tobi and Paul Lehto
The premise of the Help America Vote Act (HAVA), that public oversight
of elections can be outsourced to corporate interests with secret vote
counting technology, is dangerous to American democracy. We need a
moratorium on new legislation; an accounting of HAVA monies spent, on
what, to whom, and to what end; and a recovery plan from the HAVA
disaster. We reject compromise legislation like H.R. 550, because
there is no compromise on democracy.
For complete memo and actions to take:
November 19, 2006
Stopping H.R. 550 because we can't compromise on democracy
November 17, 2006
Major Miscount of the Vote in 2006 Election:
Reported Results Skewed 4 Percent Toward GOP
Election Defense Alliance Calls for Investigation
BOSTON, MA - November 17, 2006
CONTACT: Jonathan Simon 617.538.6012
Election Defense Alliance, a national election integrity organization, issued an urgent call today for an investigation into the 2006 election results and a moratorium on deployment of all electronic voting equipment after analysis of national exit polling data indicated a major undercount of Democratic votes and an overcount of Republican votes in congressional races across the country. These findings are an alarming indictment of the American election system in which 80% of voters used electronic voting equipment.
As in 2004, the Exit Poll and the reported election results do not add up. But this time there is an objective yardstick in the methodology that establishes the validity of the Exit Poll and exposes the inaccuracy of the election returns. These findings are detailed in a paper published today on the EDA website.
The Edison-Mitofsky media Exit Poll, posted Election Night on CNN.com, had a sample base of more than 10,000 voters, and showed Democratic House candidates winning over Republicans by an 11.5 percent margin.
The reported vote count showed Democrats winning by a 7.6 margin, 3.9 percent less than the Exit Poll and far outside the poll’s +/-1-percent margin of error. This discrepancy entailed at least 3,000,000 votes.
The Exit Poll was then adjusted, by a process known as “forcing,” to match reported election vote totals. The final result, posted at 1:00 p.m. November 8, showed Democrats winning by a 7.6 percent margin, exactly mirroring the reported vote totals.
The objective yardstick was the proportion of respondents who indicated they had voted for Bush or Kerry in 2004. The sample in the already weighted Election Night Exit Poll had 47 percent Bush voters and 45 percent Kerry voters, a valid sample given the very conservative assumption that Republicans and Democrats turned out with equal enthusiasm in 2006. However, after the forcing process, the sample contained 49 percent Bush voters and only 43 percent Kerry supporters. This 6 percent gap is more than twice the size of the 2004 Bush win of 2.8 percent. It indicates a significant over-sampling of Republican voters in the adjusted 2006 Exit Poll.
Such a gross oversample of Republicans was necessary to match the actual vote counts, which therefore could not have been an accurate count of the actual electorate. Had the intended votes been accurately tallied, this election would have produced a Democratic landslide of epic proportions.
Read the Full Report: http://www.ElectionDefenseAlliance.org.
EDA mail: Dan@electiondefensealliance.org
"The right of voting for representatives is the primary right by which all other rights are protected.
To take away this right is to reduce a man to slavery. . . "
November 12, 2006
Electronic Frontier Foundation Reports: Widespread Problems With Electronic Voting All Across Country
The Electronic Frontier Foundation reports that electronic voting problems on Election Day 2006 left many voters wondering whether their votes had been counted:
Electronic Voting Machine Headaches Shut Out Citizens
Delays Mean Long Lines for Voters in Florida, Utah, and Other States
San Francisco - Problems with electronic voting machine failures kept some polls from opening, created long lines, and left many voters puzzled about whether their votes were counted in Tuesday's high stakes election.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) joined a nationwide team of technology lawyers and other experts staffing nationwide call centers and legal command posts on Election Day. The volunteers chronicled election problems, assisted voters, and worked with election officials to pull malfunctioning machines wherever possible. By 8:00 pm ET on Tuesday, over 17,000 incidents, including machine-related problems, had been reported to the Election Protection Coalition's 866-OUR-VOTE hotline.
The types of machine problems reported to EFF volunteers were wide-ranging in both size and scope. Polls opened late for machine-related reasons in polling places throughout the country, including Ohio, Florida, Georgia, Virginia, Utah, Indiana, Illinois, Tennessee, and California. In Broward County, Florida, voting machines failed to start up at one polling place, leaving some citizens unable to cast votes for hours. EFF and the Election Protection Coalition sought to keep the polling place open late to accommodate voters frustrated by the delays, but the officials refused. In Utah County, Utah, more than 100 precincts opened one to two hours late on Tuesday due to problems with machines. Both county and state election officials refused to keep polling stations open longer to make up for the lost time, and a judge also turned down a voter's plea for extended hours brought by EFF.
"If election officials insist on depending on this unreliable technology, they should be prepared to react appropriately when things go wrong," said EFF Legal Director Cindy Cohn. "Voters should not have to bear the brunt of this poor planning. We are very disappointed that the court did not recognize that."
"Jumping vote" problems -- touchscreen machines displaying selections not intended by voters -- once again appeared across the country and across machine models. Some voters again encountered difficulty making or changing selections on touchscreen machines, resulting in long lines and frustrated voters leaving polling places. Optical scan machines also broke down in many places, most prominently in Cook County, Illinois, but also in Los Angeles, California, also leading to long delays for voters.
November 10, 2006
According to Fox News, "the exit polls this election (2006) were still skewed 6-8% in favor of the Democrats" (They think backwards at Fox, of course).
The only attempt to explain the "skew" in 2004 was known as the rBr theory ("Reluctant Bush Responder"). According to the theory, Republicans avoid participating in exit polls in greater numbers than Democrats. But statistical analysis of the data in 2004 showed that in more heavily Republican precincts where you'd expect higher rates of non-participation (if rBr were true) and, therefore, more highly skewed exit polls-- the opposite occurred, indicating that rBr doesn't fit the observed patterns.
The 2004 raw exit poll data was never released for full analysis and we'll see even less of the data for 2006.
The most likely explanation is that our entire vote counting system favored Republicans by 6-8% in this election and that the exit polls are correct while the official results are corrupt.
The only reason the Democrats did so well in 2006 is that Democrats actually won by margins of 6-8% greater than the official results showed.
I ran through the list of close races where Republicans won and there was only one race (Tennessee Ford(D) vs. Corker(R)) on the Senate side, however in the House, at least 15 races were within 6%, meaning that the Dems probably should have won an additional 15 seats or so in the House if the Republicans hadn't rigged the system this year, assuming that the error is in the official results (not the exit polls) and that the bias was a fairly uniform 6% nationwide. These are, of course, very rough estimates. And alarming too.
So, the Democratic victory was no mere "Thumping" as Bush described it. We smited them. We devastated them. We completely overwhelmed, stomped, creamed, killed, slaughtered and trounced them. We beat them so bad, they couldn't even win by cheating.
Yes, indeedy, we sure did. Oh, yeah. Big time.
But, make no mistake, they're still cheating. There were at least 30-40 different cheating tactics used in 2004 and they weren't just invented in 2004-- no organization can build such a smoothly operating racket overnight. What we're up against has a measure of business-as-usual to it, developed over decades of corrupt "worst practices" that may take another decade or two to expose and stop.
But stop it we must. As it turns out, in 2006, "within stealing distance" meant about 6-8%. In 2008, it will probably be a higher number. If we don't level the playing field in the next two years, we may never get another chance. It shouldn't be too much to ask of our new Democratic Congress to enact verifiable elections with paper ballots, since 92% of Americans want that. Just imagine how bad Bush would look vetoing paper ballots. Imagine how bad Congress people would look if they didn't vote yes in an attempt to override the veto with a 2/3 majority. I hope you'll contact your Representatives in Congress and let them know that you expect nothing less.
Thanks for everything you DID to get us this far! Celebrate our victories, but don't let up!
* A "paper trail" is necessary but not sufficient to ensure verifiable elections and I am strongly in favor of a system of paper ballots, handled in a multi-partisan-observed unbroken chain of custody and counted by redundant "dumb" optical scanners. (I know, "optical scanners" is a hot button among Election Reform people who typically favor hand-counting, but please read my full paper to understand why redundant "dumb" optical scanners would be safe and practical).
The system I propose and presented at We Count 2006 is detailed in the paper I delivered, "A Practical Election System with Integrity" online at http://www.marcbaber.com/ElectionReform.htm (click on the "PDF" link).
My hope is to get endorsements of this system from a coalition of Election Reform groups and launch a new election business to facilitate elections carried out in the fashion I've described.
November 08, 2006
During some dark days in 2004, I witnessed firsthand the courage and patriotism of the people of Ohio. As the forces of darkness arrayed to deprive them of their right to vote, they fought their best to stand up for their rights. They lost that battle, but never gave up the fight, and resolved to come back even stronger next time.
In these days of 2006 I have seen their quiet courage again, overcoming all of the chicanery and fraud and disenfranchisement levelled against them, and coming back to throw the cheaters out of office.
In 2006, all across the country, people of good conscience came out in droves, and despite thousands and thousands of incidents of disenfranchisement and vote fraud, managed to send a clear message, that we are not taking it any more.
Our leader, Congressman John Conyers, can now lead the House Judiciary Committee, instead of having to run shadow hearings because Republican members failed to honor their oaths.
I salute the people of Ohio and am proud to be your friend.
I salute the voting rights activists of Ohio, who never gave up.
I salute the people of America, for taking us back a step from the brink.
I remind all of us that despite our celebration of this great victory, our next step is to return to the ramparts to resume our watch, for it is only through "eternal vigilance" that we can keep the precious flame of democracy alive.
November 06, 2006
Reported by the Cleveland Plain Dealer:
Another glitch for Cuyahoga election
Judge OKs scanning absentee votes early, but machines malfunction
Saturday, November 04, 2006
Joan Mazzolini and James F. McCarty
Plain Dealer Reporters
A judge ruled Friday that scanning of absentee ballots can start early, but the ruling could be meaningless in Cuyahoga County unless election officials overcome a potentially devastating glitch in their scanners.
Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge Dan Gaul's ruling, which applies to all 88 counties in Ohio, says scanning may begin at 7 a.m. Monday, 19 hours earlier than Secretary of State Ken Blackwell planned to allow.
County Commissioner Jimmy Dimora and County Prosecutor Bill Mason asked for the ruling to make sure as many as 100,000 absentee ballots get counted in Cuyahoga County by the end of Election Day.
November 01, 2006
This is What Democracy Looks Like !
The whole world will be watching next week's election, and Cuyahoga County's will be a major object of focus. WCPN will host World Have Your Say here in Cleveland on the 7th and 8th. Director Michael Vu was on Lou Dobbs on Sunday night and on CNN today. And wait until the new film, Hacking Democracy, airs this Thursday?
A few patriots have been tracking Cuyahoga County Board Of Elections over the past two years and know that there is absolutely NO basis for confidence in the accurate and honest tallying of our votes by Diebold touch screen voting machines and the Diebold central tabulator. The May debacle, the missing memory cards, the discrepancies among totals, the destruction of all May election data from the memory cards, and the refusal to post election results, the utilization of electronic voting machines in general, and the Recount indictments, are but a few of the reasons we believe it is essential to have election-day vote-count verification (to the extent to which CCBOE and Kenneth Blackwell will let us.)
For those in or near Cuyahoga County, we must be vigilant this November 7th to make sure our votes are counted accurately!
There are many opportunities for citizens to be vigilant next Tuesday, and I'm describing yet another, one that focuses on protecting the vote count:
Vote Count Protection Project
in conjunction with Dr. Steven Freeman and Dr. Ken Warren
This project seeks to verify the vote counts on election day by, first, conducting simple Election Verification Exit Polls, and second, having "inside" people jot down the machine summary-report totals for the top 4 races and 1 issue. So we need "inside" people: poll workers, election-day technicians and observers, to capture the "system" data and record it on a simple data collection form. We also need "outside" pollsters to ask voters to fill out a very short and simple questionnaire.
Sample data collection forms and questionnaires can be found here:
For more details about this important project, see http://www.ohiovigilance.org or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I am certain this project will be a fun, interesting and rewarding experience--a civic duty more meaningful than jury duty--and you'll meet lots of good people also engaging to restore democracy. (There are other roles you can play, as well, in the days leading up to Nov 7th and after the election. We need techies to do analysis on election day and after!)
Victoria Lovegren, Ph.D.
Founder, Ohio Vigilance
Please forward widely!
P.S. If you are not yet an "observer", we can arrange for you to get that status, in which case you can be inside the polls during the end-of-day closing procedures.