Legal

Court Orders Re-Evaluation of New Jersey E-voting Machines

http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2010/02/njs_11k_electronic_voting_mach.html

Source: NJ.com

N.J.'s 11K Electronic Voting Machines Ordered  Re-evaluated to Determine Accuracy, Reliability

By Jeanette M. Rundquist
February 01, 2010, 8:22PM

TRENTON -- New Jersey’s 11,000 voting machines must be re-evaluated by a qualified panel of experts to determine whether they are "accurate and reliable," a Superior Court judge ruled today, in a case challenging the validity of computerized voting machines that do not produce a paper record.

voting-machine-warehouse-belleville.JPG
All voting machines and vote tally transmitting systems must be disconnected from the Internet; all people who work with them, and third-party vendors who examine or transport the machines, must undergo criminal background checks; and the state must put in place a protocol for inspecting voting machines, to ensure they have not been tampered with, ruled Superior Court Judge Linda Feinberg in Mercer County.

She did not, however, go one step further and enforce a 2005 state statute requiring that all voting machines in New Jersey produce a voter-verified paper ballot.

 


Technician James Kaufman checks out a back-up voting
in a Belleville warehouse
in this November 2009 file photo. 

"I am disappointed the court did not take the step of mandating a voter-verified paper trail or scrapping the electronic machines altogether," said Assemblyman Reed Gusciora (D-Princeton Borough) one of a group of Mercer County residents who brought the suit against the state.

The suit was brought five and half years ago by plaintiffs who wanted to improve election security in New Jersey. The plaintiffs, including a voter who said, after casting her ballot in 2004, she received no indication her vote was recorded, charged the state’s touch-screen machines were vulnerable to tampering that could allow vote fraud.

Sequoia Claims Victory, But State Exam May Find to Contrary

http://www.nj.com/mercer/index.ssf/2010/02/voting_machine_ruling_a_victor.html

Source: NJ.com

Voting Machine Ruling a Victory, Says Sequoia

By Meir Rinde
February 02, 2010, 6:26PM

The maker of New Jersey’s voting machines is hailing a Superior Court ruling on the security of the devices as a victory, while the lawyer who sued to have the machines discarded said she still expects state experts to find they have serious flaws.

Sequoia Voting Systems “is exceedingly pleased with the court’s decision that affirms what Sequoia and our customers throughout New Jersey and the United States have long known and experienced — that our voting equipment is indeed safe, accurate and reliable,” CEO Jack A. Blaine said in a press release.

In her ruling Monday, Mercer County Superior Court Judge Linda Feinberg acknowledged that New Jersey has used Sequoia systems for over 15 years without finding any evidence that an election has been compromised through manipulation of the machines, the firm said.

_____________________________________

“If the judge thought their machines were really great,
she would not have said a panel of computer experts has to look at them
and has the option of finding them not fit for use” 
-- Penny Venetis, plaintiffs' attorney

_____________________________________

 

The Colorado-based company highlighted a number of other favorable findings. Feinberg agreed that the mere possibility of criminal tampering with the machines was not sufficient to restrict their use, that during normal use they are “safe, accurate and reliable,” and that paperless voting does not violate voters’ rights.

The company said it supports measures Feinberg ordered the state to undertake, including keeping the machines disconnected from the Internet, monitoring them using video cameras or other means and instituting security training for municipal clerks and other officials.

Feinberg also ordered the state to have a reformulated panel of computer experts report on the machines’ reliability within 120 days, a decision that plaintiffs said could still lead to the machines being scrapped or retrofitted to produce an auditable paper record.

Sequoia said it was happy with the decision nonetheless.

“We look forward to the review of the (Sequoia) voting equipment by New Jersey’s expanded certification panel and working cooperatively with this group,” Blaine said.

Two members of the three-person committee that evaluates the state’s voting machines will be replaced to satisfy the judge’s order, said Paul Loriquet, a spokesman for the Attorney General’s office, which represented the Division of Elections in the suit.

The court called for “reexamining that committee and hiring two mechanical experts who have expertise in hardware and software,” he said. “The Division of Elections is in the process of finding replacements to carry out this mission.”

Division officials were “delighted” that Feinberg found no constitutional violations and that the machines met legal requirements, Loriquet said.

Penny Venetis, the Rutgers law professor who sued the state in 2004 on behalf of Assemblyman Reed Gusciora, D-Ewing, and other plaintiffs, said Sequoia failed to acknowledge that Feinberg had deferred to the state on the machines’ fate, rather than simply upholding their use.

“If the judge thought their machines were really great, she would not have said a panel of computer experts has to look at them and has the option of finding them not fit for use,” she said yesterday.

Venetis said it was unfair to say the state’s 11,000 voting machines have been free of problems, since the plaintiffs’ experts were only able to examine two of the machines, and then only after a lengthy legal battle.

If members of the reconstituted state panel conduct an objective examination, “they are going to agree with our world-class computer voting experts that these machines cannot be used,” she said.

She also dismissed the Sequoia argument, which Feinberg accepted, that manipulating the machines by installing a computer chip or other tampering would take too long to pose a real threat.

“To think somebody wouldn’t spend six months doing something that is fairly easy to do to alter an election is naïve, considering how much effort is put into placing a candidate on the ballot,” Venetis said.

Contact Meir Rinde at mrinde@njtimes.com or (609) 989-5717.



'Citizens United' Decision Further Weakens U.S. Democracy

Source:  OpEdNews
http://www.opednews.com/articles/The-Supreme-Court-decision-by-Ralph-Nader-100122-424.html


January 22, 2010

The Supreme Court Decision Further Weakens Our Democracy

By Ralph Nader

Yesterday's 5-4 decision by the U.S. Supreme Court in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission shreds the fabric of our already weakened democracy by allowing corporations to more completely dominate our corrupted electoral process. It is outrageous that corporations already attempt to influence or bribe our political candidates through their political action committees (PACs), which solicit employees and shareholders for donations.

With this decision, corporations can now directly pour vast amounts of corporate money, through independent expenditures, into the electoral swamp already flooded with corporate campaign PAC contribution dollars. Without approval from their shareholders, corporations can reward or intimidate people running for office at the local, state, and national levels.

Much of this 183 page opinion requires readers to enter into a fantasy world and accept the twisted logic of Justice Kennedy, who delivered the opinion of the Court, joined by Chief Justice Roberts, and Justices Scalia, Alito, and Thomas. Imagine the majority saying the "Government may not suppress political speech based on the speaker's corporate identity."

Perhaps Justice Kennedy didn't hear that the financial sector invested more than $5 billion in political influence purchasing in Washington over the past decade, with as many as 3,000 lobbyists winning deregulation and other policy decisions that led directly to the current financial collapse, according to a 231-page report titled: "Sold Out: How Wall Street and Washington Betrayed America" (See: WallStreetWatch.org).

The Center for Responsive Politics reported that last year the U.S. Chamber of Commerce spent $144 million to influence Congress and state legislatures.

The Center also reported big lobbying expenditures by the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) which spent $26 million in 2009. Drug companies like Pfizer, Amgen and Eli Lilly also poured tens of millions of dollars into federal lobbying in 2009. The health insurance industry trade group America's Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) also spent several million lobbying Congress. No wonder Single Payer Health insurance - supported by the majority of people, doctors, and nurses - isn't moving in Congress.

Energy companies like ExxonMobil and Chevron are also big spenders. No wonder we have a national energy policy that is pro-fossil fuel and that does little to advance renewable energy (See: OpenSecrets.Org).

No wonder we have the best Congress money can buy.

I suppose Justice Kennedy thinks corporations that overwhelm members of Congress with campaign contributions need to have still more influence in the electoral arena. Spending millions to lobby Congress and making substantial PAC contributions just isn't enough for a majority of the Supreme Court. The dictate by the five activist Justices was too much for even Republican Senator John McCain, who commented that he was troubled by their "extreme naivete."

There is a glimmer of hope and a touch of reality in yesterday's Supreme Court decision. Unfortunately it is the powerful 90 page dissent in this case by Justice Stevens joined by Justices Ginsburg, Breyer, and Sotomayor. Justice Stevens recognizes the power corporations wield in our political economy. Justice Stevens finds it "absurd to think that the First Amendment prohibits legislatures from taking into account the corporate identity of a sponsor of electoral advocacy." He flatly declares that, "The Court's ruling threatens to undermine the integrity of elected institutions across the Nation."

He notes that the, Framers of our Constitution "had little trouble distinguishing corporations from human beings, and when they constitutionalized the right to free speech in the First Amendment, it was the free speech of individual Americans that they had in mind." Right he is, for the words "corporation" or "company" do not exist in our Constitution.

Justice Stevens concludes his dissent as follows:

"At bottom, the Court's opinion is thus a rejection of the common sense of the American people, who have recognized a need to prevent corporations from undermining self government since the founding, and who have fought against the distinctive corrupting potential of corporate electioneering since the days of Theodore Roosevelt. It is a strange time to repudiate that common sense. While American democracy is imperfect, few outside the majority of this Court would have thought its flaws included a dearth of corporate money in politics."

Indeed, this corporatist, anti-voter majority decision is so extreme that it should galvanize a grassroots effort to enact a simple Constitutional amendment to once and for all end corporate personhood and curtail the corrosive impact of big money on politics. It is time to prevent corporate campaign contributions from commercializing our elections and drowning out the voices and values of citizens and voters. It is way overdue to overthrow "King Corporation" and restore the sovereignty of "We the People"! Remember that corporations, chartered by the state, are our servants, not our masters.

Legislation sponsored by Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL) and Representative John Larson (D-CT) would encourage unlimited small-dollar donations from individuals and provide candidates with public funding in exchange for refusing corporate contributions or private contributions of more than $100.

It is also time for shareholder resolutions, company by company, directing the corporate boards of directors to pledge not to use company money to directly favor or oppose candidates for public office.

If you want to join the efforts to rollback the corporate concessions the Supreme Court made yesterday, visit Citizen.Org and freespeechforpeople.org.

Move to Amend 'Citizens United' and Abolish Corporate Personhood

Source:   http://www.movetoamend.org/learn-more

Republished here as a public service with full attribution to the originating source, MovetoAmend.org

Learn More

The Supreme Court decision in Citizens United is here:
http://www.supremecourtus.gov/opinions/09pdf/08-205.pdf

Read the opinions, and you will see why Justice Stevens, in his dissent, was compelled to state the obvious:

. . . . corporations have no consciences, no beliefs, no feelings, no thoughts, no desires. Corporations help structure and facilitate the activities of human beings, to be sure, and their “personhood” often serves as a useful legal fiction. But they are not themselves members of “We the People” by whom and for whom our Constitution was established.

Like to learn more? Here are some good places to begin . . .

~ History of the Corporation ~
~ The Need for Constitutional Reform ~
~ Building a Democracy Movement ~

History of the Corporation

Sourcewatch: Corporate Rights
This special SourceWatch page has links to the real story about the Supreme Court's revolutionary and unconstitutional decision to asserting that federal laws cannot limit corporate "speech."
See: http://sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Portal:Corporate_Rights

Abolish Corporate Personhood
This speech, given by Molly Morgan of the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, follows the history of corporate power from the American Revolution to the present, detailing the ways in which the powerful elite have used the Constitution, the Courts and the corporation to quash the rights of We the People.
See: http://www.wilpf.org/docs/ccp/corp/ACP/Personhood_Talk.pdf

The Democracy Crisis
In this PowerPoint presentation, Riki Ott--a marine biologist and toxicologist from Alaska who fought Exxon for twenty years after the Valdez oil spill--shows that the spill was not just an ecological crisis, but a manifestation of a democracy crisis.
See: http://ultimatecivics.org/spresent.html

Corporatization: An Internal Clash of Civilizations
The authors write that, "Within the framework of U.S. constitutional law, in which personhood conveys fundamental protections against state action, the dubious doctrine of corporate personhood has allowed corporations to gain constitutional insulation from democratic control of corporate investment in key activities, including electioneering, lobbying, advertising, resource extraction, and manufacturing."
See: http://www.democracysquare.org/files_public/TNIyearb05us.pdf

The "Right" to Harm the Environment
Jan Edwards and Alis Valencia use this article to make the connection between corporate personhood and the destruction of the environment, going through the Bill of Rights and citing specific instances in which corporations used these rights to devastate the planet and local
communities.
See: http://www.californiademocracy.org/corporations/resource/environ.pdf

Taking Care of Business
Richard Grossman explains the history of corporate rule, contrasting it with the power of state legislators to control corporations and offering specific stories of states exercising their power to reign in corporate power. Explains the relationship between the Supreme Court and corporate constitutional rights, and explains how to use the state charter power to abolish those rights.
See: http://www.nancho.net/bigbody/chrtink1.html

The Essence of the Corporation
Ben Manski follows the legal history of the corporation from the ancient world to the early days of the Republic in order to understand its essence.
See: http://www.libertytreefdr.org/publications/manski_essence_of_the_corpora...

The Need for Constitutional Reform

Significant Cases in the Evolution of Corporate "Rights"
Reclaim Democracy has developed an excellent compendium of 20th century federal court decisions that have expanded federal protections for corporations against the public good.
See: http://reclaimdemocracy.org/personhood/#significant

Timeline
This timeline by Jan Edwards lays out the cases that gave corporations the
rights of persons and compares it to the struggles for rights for actual
persons.
See: http://www.californiademocracy.org/corporations/resource/timeline.pdf

Voting Rights Amendment
Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr., is the lead sponsor of the Right to Vote Amendment, knows that, "In a democracy there is nothing more fundamental than having the right to vote."
See: http://jackson.house.gov/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=72...
and: http://archive.fairvote.org/?page=205

Voter Bill of Rights
The Voter Bill of Rights is a document embraced by hundreds of voting rights organizations. It was originally a product of the 2001 Democracy Summer program, following the election debacle of 2000. It was amended for the 2004 No Stolen Elections! campaign, and amended again for the No More Stolen Elections! campaign in 2008.
See: http://www.nomorestolenelections.org/resources/voter_bill_of_rights

Why So Many Good State Laws Are "Unconstitutional"
Corporate anthropologist Jane Anne Morris writes that, "Using the commerce clause, the "free trade" mantra of the time, they decided that states could not ban the manufacture, import, and sale of a substance that obviously many states wanted to ban. In other words [the] . . . . Supreme Court acted as a legislature."
See: http://www.poclad.org/bwa/Spring08.htm#pinkoleo

Municipal Government and Local Democracy
As provided by CELDF, J. Allen Smith informed us in 1907 that, "The powerful corporate interests engaged in the exploitation of municipal franchises are securely entrenched behind a series of constitutional and legal checks on the majority which makes it extremely difficult for public opinion to exercise any effective control over them."
See: http://www.celdf.org/HomeRule/JAllenSmithMunicipalGovernment/tabid/227/D...

Why Regulation Alone Won't Work
Regulatory agencies are often controlled by the industries they were formed to regulate. There is even a term for the phenomenon-- "regulatory capture." And a captured regulatory agency that serves the interests of the corporations that are supposed to regulate--with the power of the government behind them-- is very often worse than no regulation whatsoever. Corporate anthropologist Jane Anne Morris describes the history, and suggests what to do about it.
See: http://www.poclad.org/bwa/fall98.htm

Building a Democracy Movement

Extending Democracy
In this video, Ben Manski, Diane Farsetta and Kevin Alexander Gray join the Progressive Magazine in addressing the challenge of extending democracy in the United States:
See: http://www.democracysquare.org/publications/video_extending_democracy

How and Why the People of Humboldt County Defended Local Democracy
Katilin Sopoci-Belknap, co-campaign manager the Measure T initiative banning
corporate money in local elections, speaks at a community forum about the
history of corporate power. She describes how corporations seized our First
Amendment right to free speech, equated speech with money and hijacked the
ability of communities to govern and defend themselves against abuse.
http://votelocalcontrol.org/sopoci-belknap.htm

SCOTUS: Corporate Purchase of Elections = 'Free Speech'

Source: http://freespeechforpeople.org/resources

Freespeech for People.org

"On January 21, 2010, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that corporations are entitled to spend unlimited funds in our elections. The First Amendment was never intended to protect corporations.

This cannot stand. Join our campaign to protest this decision. Protect our democracy! Free speech is for people — not corporations."

freespeechforpeople.org is a campaign sponsored by Voter Action (voteraction.org), Public Citizen (citizen.org), the Center for Corporate Policy (corporatepolicy.org)  and American Independent Business Alliance (amiba.net) to restore the First Amendment's free speech guarantees for the people, and to preserve and promote democracy and self-government.  We are joined by a growing wave of people around the country.

http://freespeechforpeople.org/about

Responses to the  Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission  Supreme Court Ruling
 

Read the Freespeech for People.org  press release responding to the Supreme Court decision issued January 21, 2010.

Read the Freespeech for People constitutional  draft amendment.

Read the Supreme Court ruling.

Listen to press call on Supreme Court decision.

Read background articles  . . . Resources continue @ Read More
 

A Censored Headline and Why It Matters

A Censored Headline and Why It Matters:

German High Court Outlaws Electronic Voting

Justices of the German Federal Constitutional Court.  Image

Michael Collins

(DailyCensored.Com)  The justices above are clearly the most rational group of high level functionaries in the industrialized world.  They did what no other court would do in Europe or the United States.  They effectively outlawed electronic voting.  On March 3, 2009, the German Federal Constitutional Court declared that the electronic voting machines used in the 2005 Bundestag elections for the German national parliament were outside of the bounds of the German Constitution.

They reasoned that electronic voting is not verifiable because citizen votes are counted in secret.  It  obscured a technology inaccessible to all but a very few initiates.  Most importantly, the German high court noted, electronic voting machines don't allow citizens to "reliably examine, when the vote is cast, whether the vote has been recorded in an unadulterated manner" Mar. 3, 2009.

The written opinion effectively bars electronic voting in future elections based on the complexity of voting machines and the inability of voters to watch their vote being counted.  This raises the bar of acceptability well above the meaningless solutions offered by "paper trails" for touch screen voting or the so-called "paper ballots" for computerized optical scan voting machines, the most popular form of voting in the United States.

Germany's 2009 Bundestag elections were conducted with hand counted paper ballots.

Have you heard that one of the world's leading economic powers, the fourth largest economy in the world, banned electronic voting;  said it was undemocratic?  Given the multitude of problems encountered in the U.S. and the number of questionable election results, wouldn't it make sense that when Germany banned electronic voting and replaced it with paper ballots, there would be at least a days worth of national coverage in the United States?

Nothing like that occurred.  The Associated Press (Times of India) story on the verdict danced around the periphery of the world media market with coverage in Turkey, India, Australia, and Ireland.  But there were no major media takers for the AP story in the United States.

There was every reason to carry the story.  In a 2006 Zogby poll, 92% of the 1028 registered voters surveyed said they agreed with this statement:

Citizens have the right to view and obtain information about how election officials count votes - 92% agreeNew Zogby Poll On Electronic Voting Attitudes  Aug. 21, 2006

That's exactly the proposition that the German court upheld.  Surely there was an audience for the German decision but there was hardly a word from corporate media.

Why did this happen?

Germany's Federal Constitutional Court Rules E-Voting Unconstitutional

Copyright © 2009 BVerfG

 

 

 

Save New York's Lever Voting System

Prevent Secret Vote Counting on Theft-Enabling Computers From Becoming A Reality in New York

Tell the New York state judiciary to uphold our constitutional right to a transparent, secure, theft-deterring electoral system. New York voters do not consent to voting on undetectably mutable, software-driven voting machines.

Contribute to the Election Transparency Coalition legal fund

Want to do more?  Volunteer! Click here

To learn more go to Election Transparency Coalition blog.

See what you can do to prevent our birthright from being stolen.


Alternatives to Forced E-Voting Proposed in US Justice v. NY State HAVA Suit

Click here for 12.15.07 Press Release on Amicus Brief Click Here to Download the Amicus Brief

Scroll down for links to all amici declarations and exhibits filed in this case.

United States v. New York State Board of Elections

No. 06-CV-0262, U.S. District Court, Northern District of New York

. • Complaint:
This lawsuit, filed March 1, 2006, seeks declaratory and injunctive relief for the Defendants’ alleged failure to implement the voting system standards and statewide voter list provisions of HAVA. With respect to the voting system standards, the complaint supports its allegation by noting that the State Board failed to (1) approve any voting systems, (2) adopt any final rules or regulations related to voting systems, and (3) obtain any voting systems that comply with the requirements of HAVA.

With respect to statewide voter list, the complaint notes that, among other things, the has failed to (1) publish any rules or regulations governing the statewide voter list, (2) take the necessary steps to contract for the development of a statewide voter database, and (3) establish the necessary agreements with the Social Security Administration to match voter registration information.

• Status:
The U.S. Justice Department sought a preliminary injunction on March 6, which was granted by the court on 23, 2006. The court ordered the State Board of Elections to file a remedial HAVA implementation plan by April 10, 2006, and provided ten days to respond, later extended to eighteen days. State filed its HAVA plan with court on April 10, and Plaintiffs’ responded on April 18th agreeing to the plan. On June 2, the court ruled that the Board’s HAVA plan would bring the state, over time, into full compliance and set a series of deadlines for implementation and reporting. Currently before the court is a motion to intervene by a diverse coalition of civic organizations that is concerned about the adequacy of the state’s plan.

• Parties: This lawsuit was filed by the Voting Section of the Department of Justice against the New York State Board of Elections, its co-executive directors, and the State of York.


All amici declarations filed in this case are available for download from the links you see immediately below this text window.

Litigation and Legal Issues

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