Dan Ashby's blog

Let's Examine the MA Evidence

Rather than emulate the mainstream press and political opinion pundits in writing off Martha Coakley's defeat as the consequence of a poorly-run campaign, let's make an effort to examine the evidence from Tuesday's special Senate election in Massachusetts.

There's more than enough evidence in the surface debris to suggest that the methods for counting and reporting the votes have more to do with the reputed outcome, than all the post-facto speculations about voter motivation rolled up together.

Blaming the losing candidate for an inept campaign is always convenient, but in this case that's really not sufficient to explain the 15% reversal from pre-election tracking polls.

If you have any press reports, first-hand observations, or other accounts of election irregularities from Tuesday's special election for Senate  (such as ballots pre-marked for Brown, etc.) please send in those items to 
Info@ElectionDefenseAlliance.org with "Senate MA" in the subject line.

Also, if you kept records of pre-election tracking polls, or made screen captures of any early election results, please
send those as well.

While the political press and blogs are picking apart weaknesses in the Coakley campaign -- all of which may be true -- on the EDA site we're directing attention to fundamental questions
the political press and blogs habitually overlook, about how the votes were counted and reported.

Massachusetts is crawling with reasons to doubt the veracity of the reported election results. Here are some of them:

First,
a report by Bev Harris
examining the MA voting results by jurisdiction, according to the vote-counting methodology employed, machine or hand-count.

Keep in mind that all of MA's votes are managed by a single contractor, LHS Associates, and all the machines (whether
labeled ES&S or Diebold/Premiere) are now owned and operated by a single E-voting vendor, ES&S.

http://electiondefensealliance.org/MA-Senate-Coakley-Brown-Results

Second, Bev Harris demonstrates how
early, unofficial newsmedia "election calls" are used to condition perception of electoral outcome reality,  resulting in reactions such as premature candidate concessions.  (As Bradblog described it, Coakley set a new world record).

http://electiondefensealliance.org/eda-blogs/bev_harris/210110/newsmedia-false-calls

Third, a review of the fishy Obama-Clinton results in the
2008 MA presidential primary
, analyzed by Jonathan Simon and Bruce O'Dell.

Massachusetts holds the national record for most extreme divergence (15.5% ) between exit polls and reputed official results.

http://electiondefensealliance.org/Primaries_2008_Managed_Manipulation

Excerpt:

2/5/2008: Super Tuesday

Super Tuesday was essentially a standoff, each candidate doing what was necessary to remain viable. There were, however, several exit poll-vote count disparities far beyond the expected margin of error, each involving a shift toward Clinton.

In Massachusetts, another LHS state like New Hampshire, the shift was a whopping 15.5%, turning a projected narrow Obama victory into a 15% Clinton rout.

In Arizona, site of some of the most dubious counting antics over the past several election cycles, the pro-Clinton shift was 11%, again reversing the outcome.

And in New Jersey, where machines are currently under high scrutiny supported by a court order, the shift was 8.6%.

Each of these shifts was well beyond the margin of error of the respective polls. Each resulted in shifts in delegate count to Obama’s detriment, as well as the loss of two victories that would have put a very different complexion on the outcome of Super Tuesday as a whole. The overall effect was, again, to maintain Clinton’s viability.

_________________________

Unfortunately, in this Brown-Coakley special Senate election, there were no exit polls at all.

 


2010 Resolution: Make the Working Groups Work

December 31, 2009

A Message to All EDA Working Group Members


Hello Everyone,

I'm writing to you today with a request and resolution that 2010 be the year
that we finally make the EDA Working Groups work the way we know they can, and should.

We have the people,  the communication channels, and collaborative applications. (See note about New Forums below).

What we need most of all, are active group coordinators to help the groups cohere and get up their own working momentum.

Once group members start working together on projects, members will likely be self-directing.
That's been my experience working in  small groups, and probably yours as well.

But even the most self-initiating of groups have some need for group leadership to organize and rally members.

Call for Candidate Nominations and Coordinator Elections


At present, half of the groups have no coordinators at all.

Several of our current coordinators, who have been in the role since EDA began in July, 2006,  have expressed
the desire to move on and let someone new take over for them.

This transition from the old to new year is the perfect time to choose one (or two) of you to be each group's designated, voting representative(s) to the EDA Coordinating Council for 2010.

As you probably realize, the initial cohort of coordinators were assigned their roles by the EDA co-founders in July 2006, with the expectation that after the November 2006 elections, beginning in the first of the new 2007 year, elections would be held in all the Working Groups and a new council of elected coordinators would be formed.

That never happened.
We were engaged in putting out electoral brush fires.
Getting coordinators elected kept getting moved down the priority list.

But now we have the time and the opportunity for a fresh start.

We would like to have each of the groups choose their representative(s) to the EDA Coordinating Council in January.


Those of you who enjoy facilitating group interaction, please take the initiative.
Announce to your group that you're willing to take on this role.
 

Because Your Vote Should Count

Source: Gouverneurtimes.com

Click NY 23 tag for related articles

Commentary

by Richard Hayes Phillips, Ph.D.  
Tuesday, 01 December 2009

For nearly a century, as long as most of us can remember, lever machines have been used for voting in elections throughout New York State.  They have proved durable and reliable.  The votes have been counted at the polling place, in public, with the tallied numbers in plain view for all to see.  Any errors in reporting have been easily corrected by simply looking at “odometers” on the machines.

This fall, for the first time, as a “pilot” program, optical scanners were substituted for lever machines in much of the state, including most of the 23rd Congressional District, and problems with the vote count emerged on an unprecedented scale.

In at least four counties, the initial vote counts reported on Election Night were so far from the truth as to cause a candidate to concede prematurely.  Having never before witnessed such unreliable numbers, he doubted not the vote count, but his own ability to draw enough supporters to the polls.
________________________________
'All of the shifting of votes from one Congressional candidate to another

hurt Hoffman and helped an opponent. 

So far as I know, the vote shifting that occurred in these counties

was never once to Hoffman’s benefit.'
________________________________
 
But when the reported numbers were examined district by district, patterns began to emerge that were easily concealed at the county level.  In numerous election districts in Jefferson, Madison, Oneida and Oswego counties, the entire vote count for Doug Hoffman on the Conservative Party line was shifted to other candidates.  Sometimes Hoffman received the few votes of his opponents on the Independence or Working Families party lines, and sometimes he was left with no votes at all.

It is not entirely clear how this vote switching happened.  The Boards of Elections tend to blame the poll workers for misreading the computer printouts.  But votes were not only denied to Hoffman; his votes were delivered to his opponents.  For the “human error” explanation to be true, poll workers in more than a dozen polling places must have made the same two mistakes.

Perhaps the machines themselves reported the false numbers, or perhaps the votes were deliberately shifted in an attempt to run up a high enough margin on Election Night to get Hoffman to concede.  A forensic examination of the computer tapes and the “tally sheets” from the affected polling places should tell the tale.

This is not idle speculation.  The vote counts in these districts make clear that thousands of votes were affected.  And this is only what we know about.  With concealed electronic vote counting, partial shifts of the vote count could occur without a trace, and not be readily apparent in the election results.

Most, perhaps all, of the false counts reported on Election Night may have been corrected during recanvassing, especially in Oneida County where lever machines were still used.  But that is not the point.  The results reported on Election Night should never have been so terribly wrong in the first place.

Perhaps these alterations of the vote count were not of such magnitude as to reverse the outcome of the election.  But that is not the point.  Thousands of votes were not counted as cast.  We were denied our most fundamental right in what passes for a democracy.
________________________________
The short-term remedy is to call this federally funded, court-ordered, “pilot” election

an utter failure, and bring back the lever machines that served us so well for so long.'

________________________________
 
Auditing elections is a difficult task.  Rarely does an election investigator have access to all the information needed to determine how many votes there were, and if all the votes were counted.  So few people have experience in the field that peer review is difficult to obtain in a timely manner.  All of this has to be done during a very short period of time within which an election can be challenged.  Mistakes are just as inevitable in an election audit as in the actual counting of votes.

But I have seen enough to be convinced that not all of the false numbers can be attributed to “human error.”  All of the shifting of votes from one Congressional candidate to another hurt Hoffman and helped an opponent.  So far as I know, the vote shifting that occurred in these counties was never once to Hoffman’s benefit.

The short-term remedy is to call this federally funded, court-ordered, “pilot” election an utter failure, and bring back the lever machines that served us so well for so long.  If a states’ rights movement is required to bring this about, so be it.

The long-term remedy is to question the very system that presumed to tell us how to run our elections.  This country belongs to the people, not to the federal government.  All New Yorkers, regardless of party affiliation, should demand a transparent, reliable vote count.  Our only power is our right to vote.  And if our votes are not counted as cast, then we have nothing.  We are powerless and disenfranchised, and we don’t live the lives we think we do.
___________________________________

Richard Hayes Phillips, Ph.D., is one of the leading election fraud investigators in the United States.  His book on the 2004 Ohio election, Witness to a Crime: A Citizens’ Audit of an American Election, based on examination of some 30,000 photographs of actual ballots, poll books, and other election records, is available at http://www.witnesstoacrime.com

Iran Election Protests and the End of Top-down News Control

About this blog:
The EDA Director's Blog will be largely about strategy and tactics for organizing the mass citizen movement that will be necessary to bring about real transparency and public accountability in U.S. elections. I'll be sharing ideas and techniques that election integrity activists can adopt and apply anywhere -- and I'll welcome your ideas and recommendations. -- Dan Ashby



Source:   The TED Blog, http://blog.ted.com/2009/06/clay_shirky_how.php

Clay Shirky: How Cellphones, Twitter, Facebook Can Make History

While news from Iran streams to the world, Clay Shirky shows how Facebook, Twitter and TXTs help citizens in repressive regimes to report on real news, bypassing censors (however briefly). The end of top-down control of news is changing the nature of politics.

 

Video location: http://www.ted.com/talks/view/id/575
(Recorded at TED@State, at the US State Department, June 2009, in Washington, DC. Duration: 17:03)

Watch Clay Shirky's talk from TED@State on TED.com where you can download this TEDTalk, rate it, comment on it and find other talks and performances from our archive of 450+ TEDTalks.

Get TED delivered:
Subscribe to the TEDTalks video podcast via RSS

Judge Rules Michigan Voter Purge Violates Federal Law

Source: The Advancement Project
UNITED STATES STUDENT ASSOCIATION FOUNDATION v. LAND
Download the Court Order

Judge Rules Michigan Voter Purge Program Violates Federal Law

October 14, 2008
In a major victory for voting rights, a judge yesterday ruled that Michigan's voter removal program violates federal law and ordered the state to stop illegally purging voters from the rolls.

The decision comes in a lawsuit filed last month by Advancement Project, the American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of Michigan, and the law firm of Pepper Hamilton LLP.

"We are gratified that the judge ordered the state of Michigan to halt its unlawful purge program," said Bradley Heard, senior attorney with Advancement Project. "This decision protects thousands of Michigan residents' voting rights from being infringed upon during this important and historic presidential election, and beyond. It is now up to the state of Michigan to afford these voters the protections that federal law requires."

Judge Stephen J. Murphy of the U.S. District Court of the Eastern District of Michigan ruled that one of Michigan's voter removal programs violates the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 (NVRA).

In question was a Michigan state law requiring local clerks to nullify the registrations of newly-registered voters whenever their original voter identification cards are returned by the post office as undeliverable. Detroit elections officials report that nearly 30,000 voters per year in that city alone are removed from the rolls as a result of this state election law.

The NVRA permits voters to remain on the voter rolls for at least two federal elections after voter registration cards are returned.

TERRI LYNN LAND, Michigan Secretary of State; CHRISTOPHER M. THOMAS, Michigan Director of Elections; and FRANCES MCMULLAN, City Clerk for the City of Ypsilanti, Michigan, in their official capacities, Defendants.

Judge Murphy ordered that state to "immediately discontinue their practice of cancelling or rejecting a voter's registration based upon the return of the voter's original voter identification card as undeliverable."

The plaintiffs in the case are the United States Student Association (USSA) and the ACLU of Michigan. The parties have asked the federal court to schedule a hearing as soon as possible and to enter an immediate temporary injunction barring further purges under these programs. Attorneys in this case are Heard of Advancement Project; Bell-Platts and Neil Bradley of the ACLU Voting Rights Project; Moss and Michael Steinberg of the ACLU of Michigan; and Matthew J. Lund, Mary K. Deon and Deborah Kovsky of Pepper Hamilton LLP.


From the Order:

'WHEREFORE, it is hereby ORDERED that the defendants Michigan Secretary of State and the Michigan Director of Elections:

(1) Immediately discontinue their practice of cancelling or rejecting a voter's registration based upon the return of the voter's original voter identification card as undeliverable;

(2) Remove the "rejected" marking in the QVF from the registrations of all voters whose original voter IDs have been returned as undeliverable since January 1, 2006 until the present, unless rejection was warranted for some other lawful reason;

(3) Make no other designation, including but not limited to "cancelled," in these voters' registration records in the QVF or elsewhere, that will prevent their ballots from being counted if they appear at the polls and give whatever further proof of Michigan residence is required or permitted under applicable state and federal law; unless such a designation is warranted by written notice from the voter or for some reason other than change of residence;

(4) Preserve and not destroy until after December 31, 2009, any and all records relating to maintenance of Michigan's voter registration files that have, since January 1, 2006, resulted in the cancellation of the registration of voters who have applied for out of state driver’s licenses, or the cancellation or rejection of voters’ registrations based upon the return of original voter identification cards ; and

(5) Give no order, direction, or encouragement that any other government official or any other person engage in activity hereby prohibited to them. It is further ORDERED that the defendants Michigan Secretary of State, the Michigan Director of Elections, and the Ypsilanti City Clerk file an answer to the complaint in this action no later than fourteen days from the date of this Order.

SO ORDERED. s/Stephen J. Murphy, III STEPHEN J. MURPHY, III United States District Judge

Download the Court Order



CASE DOCUMENTS Source: ACLU

News 
Advancement Project And ACLU Sue Michigan Secretary Of State Over Unlawful Voter Purging (9/18/2008)

Legal Documents 
United States Student Association Foundation v. Land - Order
(10/13/2008)
United States Student Association Foundation v. Land - Complaint (9/17/2008)
United States Student Association Foundation v. Land - Ex Parte Motion
9/17/2008)
United States Student Association Foundation v. Land - Motion for Preliminary Injunction (9/17/2008)
United States Student Association Foundation v. Land - Request For Expedited Consideration (9/17/2008)

Reverse Mississippi's Deliberate Ballot Design Manipulation

Action of the Day 091708 -- [prepared by the Care2 Petition Site: http://www.care2.com ]

EDA editor's note:
We are reproducing the text of the Care2 Alert verbatim. The facts speak for themselves.

Republican officials in Mississippi in charge of the state's election procedures have deliberately chosen to alter ballot design in violation of state law and common sense, with the predictable result that voters will be disoriented and many will probably error when voting on the U.S. Senate race.

Denouncing the perpetrators of partisan election manipulations like this one is NOT a partisan act on our part. Election fraud, manipulation, and dirty tricks are wrong no matter who the perpetrators are -- and it is a multipartisan civic duty to put a stop to it.


Republican officials in Mississippi must be desperate. They're pulling out the stops in election shenanigans in an attempt to confuse voters, hoping to push a close Senate contest to the Republican candidate.

Tell the Mississippi governor:   The purposefully confusing ballot is illegal!
http://www.care2.com/go/z/e/0Xto/wRCg/E0DA

The Republican Secretary of State decided to bury the Senate race below all local contests on the ballot.
The race, between interim Senator Roger Wicker -- a Republican temporarily appointed to replace Trent Lott -- and former Democratic Governor Ronnie Musgrove, is expected to be close, making it one of the most important in the state.

Not only does burying this Senate race below all the local ones confuse voters, it's a direct violation of state election law, which clearly states that federal races must be on the top of the ballot!

Tell Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour -- who approved the ballot -- to reverse his decision in order to maintain the integrity of America's electoral process!
Petition action link:   http://www.care2.com/go/z/e/0Xto/wRCg/E0DA

Seeing Through Sequoia's Transparent Election System

Staying Focused on the Real Solutions


10.27.09

Today's announcement of the Sequoia Frontier open-source E-voting system is a significant fork in the trail to election integrity, but it would be a mistake to confuse this half-way mark for our destination.

I had thought ES&S would be first to market with an all-open-source E-voting system. No doubt, they're not far behind. The dwindling number of E-voting vendors still in business are now obliged to follow suit or be expunged from the marketplace, and for that we should be glad.

Although Sequoia's press release is essentially good news, the operative reality is that between now and sometime after 2012 when the open-source voting system announced today is certified for use,  there will be another federal election  conducted with the same batch of secretly programmed black boxes that hijacked the U.S. government in 2000, 2002, 2004, and 2006, and skewed the 2008 primaries, and whose predecessors, more likely than not, have been manipulating elections since shortly after their introduction in 1965.

Even if it weren't so dangerous, misapplied technology would still be an unnecessary distraction from the philosophical and practical issues that are properly the core issues of electoral democracy.

It's up to the EI movement to explain to the voting public, that even though open-source code, open data schema, and human-readable data formats are undeniably improvements over the secret, closed voting software currently in use,  these features do not and can not address these fundamental civil rights principles  on which democracy depends:

1. All aspects of the electoral process (except the casting of secret ballots) should be transparently observable and accountable to the citizenry,  without the intermediation of secret actors or unobservable software processes.

2. Public elections should be a wholly public exercise, free of dependence on for-profit corporations or any technological priesthood.

Even as the E-voting industry as a whole follows Sequoia in a transition to open-source platforms, the public will remain  dependent on private contractors, costly equipment, expensive upgrades, and even more expensive maintenance and service fees in perpetuity, so long as the institution of software-mediated voting is allowed to supplant the appropriately low-tech, citizen-mediated election model based on voter-marked paper ballots hand-counted in the precincts on election night, by the citizens themselves.
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