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For The Record  

FTR #470 Democracy Imperiled

Record­ed July 25, 2004
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As the title indi­cates, this broad­cast exam­ines grave threats to what remains of Amer­i­can democ­ra­cy. Much of the first half of the pro­gram exam­ines the issue of elec­tron­ic vot­ing. Con­trolled by a small group of inter­con­nect­ed far-right­ists, com­pa­nies like Diebold, ES&S and Sequoia have proved noto­ri­ous­ly unre­li­able in past elec­tions. Sig­nif­i­cant­ly, the peo­ple in charge of these firms are also close­ly con­nect­ed to the covert oper­a­tions milieu of the 1980’s that spawned the Iran/Contra and Iraq­gate scan­dals. The pro­gram reviews the pos­si­bil­i­ty of a man-made earth­quake affect­ing the elec­tion. In the con­text of the Machi­avel­lian nature of this admin­is­tra­tion, it is worth not­ing that Machi­avel­li coun­seled that a leader destroy a soci­ety with demo­c­ra­t­ic tra­di­tions, lest it regroup and restore those tra­di­tions. The pro­gram con­cludes with an exam­i­na­tion of the pro­found­ly anti-demo­c­ra­t­ic atti­tudes of Paul Weyrich and those in pow­er in the Bush admin­is­tra­tion.

Pro­gram High­lights Include: The Uro­se­vich broth­ers and their pro­found influ­ence on the devel­op­ment of both Diebold and ES&S—two of the com­pa­nies at the epi­cen­ter of elec­tron­ic vot­ing; the rela­tion­ship of the Uro­se­vich broth­ers to the far-right wing Ahman­son fam­i­ly; the Ahman­son family’s links to Paul Weyrich’s Coun­cil on Nation­al Pol­i­cy; the pres­ence on the Coun­cil on Nation­al Pol­i­cy of Iran/Contra play­ers Oliv­er North and Gen. John Singlaub; the close rela­tion­ship of Diebold, ES&S and Repub­li­can Sen­a­tor Chuck Hagel; Diebold’s appar­ent role in help­ing to swing the call­ing of Flori­da for Bush in 2000; the sus­pi­cious per­for­mance of Diebold machines in the 2002 off-year elec­tions; the sus­pi­cious death of Athan Gibbs (who devel­oped a viable alter­na­tive to Diebold machines); Gen­er­al Tom­my Franks’ pre­dic­tion that a ter­ror­ist inci­dent with WMD’s could lead to the impo­si­tion of a mil­i­tary-style gov­ern­ment in the U.S.; the explic­it­ly anti-demo­c­ra­t­ic views of Paul Weyrich and his milieu; a state­ment by the sec­re­tary to for­mer Pres­i­dent Ger­ald Ford that the US entered World War II on the wrong side.

1. Begin­ning with a sub­ject touched on in FTRs 466, 468, the pro­gram dis­cuss­es the issue of elec­tron­ic vot­ing and the small cabal of extreme right-wingers at the foun­da­tion of the com­pa­nies that man­u­fac­ture these machines. One of the most impor­tant of these is the Diebold com­pa­ny. Head­ed by Wal­ly O’Dell—an ardent Bush supporter—the com­pa­ny makes a num­ber of auto­mat­ed devices such as ATM machines. Inter­est­ing­ly, Diebold’s vot­ing machines are the only ones that do not have pro­duce a ver­i­fi­able paper trail. “ . . . If Ohio’s Repub­li­can Sec­re­tary of State Ken­neth Black­well has his way, Diebold will receive a con­tract to sup­ply touch screen elec­tron­ic vot­ing machines for much of the state. None of these Diebold machines will pro­vide a paper receipt of the vote. Diebold, locat­ed in North Can­ton, Ohio, does its pri­ma­ry busi­ness in ATM and tick­et-vend­ing machines. Crit­ics of Diebold point out that vir­tu­al­ly every oth­er machine the com­pa­ny makes pro­vides a paper trail to ver­i­fy the machine’s cal­cu­la­tions. Odd­ly, only the vot­ing machines lack this essen­tial func­tion.”(“Diebold, Elec­tron­ic Vot­ing and the Vast Right-Wing Con­spir­a­cy” by Bob Fitrakis; The Free Press; 2/24/2004; p. 1.)

2. “State Sen­a­tor Tere­sa Fedor of Tole­do intro­duced Sen­ate Bill 167 late last year man­dat­ing that every vot­ing machine in Ohio gen­er­ate a ‘vot­er ver­i­fied paper audit trail.’ Sec­re­tary of State Black­well has denounced any attempt to require a paper trail as an effort to ‘derail’ elec­tion reform. Blackwell’s polit­i­cal career is an inter­est­ing one: he emerged as a black activist in Cincin­nati sup­port­ing munic­i­pal char­ter reform, became an elect­ed Demo­c­rat, then an Inde­pen­dent, and now is a promi­nent Repub­li­can with his eyes on the governor’s man­sion.” (Idem.)

3. The issue at the fore­front of this dis­cus­sion has come into sharp focus as a result of the elec­toral irreg­u­lar­i­ties in the 2000 elec­tion. The 2002 Help Amer­i­ca Vote Act may have actu­al­ly con­tributed to the prob­lem by man­dat­ing that elec­tron­ic vot­ing machines should take the place of punch card machines. “A joint study by the Cal­i­for­nia and Mass­a­chu­setts Insti­tutes of Tech­nol­o­gy fol­low­ing the 2000 elec­tion deter­mined that between 1.5 and 2 mil­lion votes were not count­ed due to con­fus­ing paper bal­lots or faulty equip­ment. The fed­er­al government’s solu­tion to the prob­lem was to pass the Help Amer­i­ca Vote Act (HAVA) of 2002. One of the law’s stat­ed goals was ‘Replace­ment of punch card and lever vot­ing machines.’ The new vot­ing machines would be high-tech touch screen com­put­ers, but if there’s no paper trail, how do you know if there’s been a com­put­er glitch? How can the results be trust­ed? And how do you recount to see if the actu­al votes match the computer’s tal­ly?” (Ibid.; pp. 1–2.)

4. Many crit­ics have focused on the irreg­u­lar­i­ties that have plagued Diebold machines in the past. “Bev Har­ris, author of Black Box Vot­ing: Bal­lot tam­per­ing in the 21st Cen­tu­ry, argues that with­out a paper trail, these machines are open to mas­sive vot­er fraud. Diebold has already placed some 50,000 machines in 37 states and their track record is caus­ing Har­ris, Johns Hop­kins Uni­ver­si­ty pro­fes­sors and oth­ers great con­cern. Johns Hop­kins researchers at the Infor­ma­tion Secu­ri­ty Insti­tute issued a report declar­ing that Diebold’s elec­tron­ic vot­ing soft­ware con­tained ‘stun­ning flaws.’ The researchers con­clud­ed that vote totals could be altered at the vot­ing machines and by remote access. Diebold vig­or­ous­ly refut­ed the Johns Hop­kins report, claim­ing the researchers came to ‘a mul­ti­tude of false con­clu­sions.’” (Ibid.; p. 2.)

5. “Per­haps to set­tle the issue, appar­ent­ly an insid­er leaked doc­u­ments from the Diebold elec­tion Sys­tems web­site and post­ed inter­nal doc­u­ments from the com­pa­ny to Har­ris’ web­site. Diebold went to court to stop, accord­ing to court records, the ‘whole­sale repro­duc­tion’ of some 13,000 pages of com­pa­ny mate­r­i­al. The Asso­ci­at­ed Press report­ed in Novem­ber 2003 that: ‘Com­put­er pro­gram­mers, ISPs and stu­dents at [at] least 20 uni­ver­si­ties, includ­ing the Uni­ver­si­ty of Cal­i­for­nia, Berke­ley, and the Mass­a­chu­setts Insti­tute of Tech­nol­o­gy received cease and desist let­ters’ from Diebold. A group of Swarth­more Col­lege stu­dents launched an ‘elec­tron­ic civ­il dis­obe­di­ence’ cam­paign to keep the hacked doc­u­ments per­ma­nent­ly post­ed on the Inter­net.” (Idem.)

6. Irreg­u­lar­i­ties in the Volu­sia Coun­ty (Flori­da) Diebold machines appear to have led to the pre­ma­ture media call of Flori­da as hav­ing been won by Bush. (For more about the Flori­da elec­toral irreg­u­lar­i­ties, see—among oth­er pro­grams—FTRs 259, 268.) “Har­ris writes that the doc­u­ments expose how the main­stream media reversed their call pro­ject­ing Al Gore as win­ner of Flori­da after some­one ‘sub­tract­ed 16, 022 votes from Al Gore, and in still some unde­fined way, added 4000 erro­neous votes to George W. Bush.’ Hours lat­er, the votes were returned. One memo from Lana Hires of Glob­al Elec­tion Sys­tems, now Diebold, reads: ‘I need some answers! Our depart­ment is being audit­ed by the Coun­ty. I have been wait­ing for some­one to give me an expla­na­tion as to why Precinct 216 gave Al Gore a minus 16,022 [votes] when it was uploaded.’ Anoth­er hacked inter­nal memo, writ­ten by Tal­bot Iredale, Senior VP of Research and Devel­op­ment for Diebold Elec­tion Sys­tems, doc­u­ments ‘unau­tho­rized’ replace­ment votes in Volu­sia Coun­ty.” (Idem.)

7. “Har­ris also uncov­ered a reveal­ing 87-page CBS news report and not­ed, ‘Accord­ing to CBS doc­u­ments, the erro­neous 20,000 votes in Volu­sia was direct­ly respon­si­ble for call­ing the elec­tion for Bush.’ The first per­son to call the elec­tion for Bush was Fox elec­tion ana­lyst John Ellis, who had the advan­tage of con­fer­ring with his promi­nent cousins George W. Bush and Flori­da Gov­er­nor Jeb Bush.” (Idem.)

8. In exam­in­ing the issue of elec­tron­ic vot­ing, it is essen­tial to note how a small cabal of close­ly con­nect­ed, extreme right-wingers dom­i­nates the few com­pa­nies involved in mak­ing these machines. The main names are: Bob and Todd Uro­se­vich, the Ahman­son fam­i­ly, Car­olyn Hunt, Chuck Hagel, Diebold, ES&S. Note the rela­tion­ships between these indi­vid­u­als and com­pa­nies that dom­i­nate the elec­tron­ic vot­ing mar­ket. “Increas­ing­ly, inves­tiga­tive writ­ers seek­ing an expla­na­tion have looked to Diebold’s his­to­ry for clues. The elec­tron­ic vot­ing indus­try is dom­i­nat­ed by only a few corporations—Diebold, Elec­tion Sys­tems & Soft­ware (ES&S) and Sequoia. Diebold and ES&S com­bined to count an esti­mat­ed 80% of U.S. black box elec­tron­ic votes. In the ear­ly 1980’s, broth­ers Bob and Todd Uro­se­vich found­ed ES&S’s orig­i­na­tor, Data Mark. The broth­ers Uro­se­vich obtained financ­ing from the far-Right Ahman­son fam­i­ly in 1984, which pur­chased a 68% own­er­ship stake, accord­ing to the Oma­ha World Her­ald. After broth­ers William and Robert Ahman­son infused Data Mark with new cap­i­tal, the name was changed to Amer­i­can Infor­ma­tion Sys­tems (AIS). Cal­i­for­nia news­pa­pers have long doc­u­ment­ed the Ahman­son family’s ties to right-wing evan­gel­i­cal Chris­t­ian and Repub­li­can cir­cles.” (Idem.)

9. Deeply involved in the cap­i­tal­iza­tion of the com­pa­nies that evolved into ES&S, the Ahman­son fam­i­ly is close­ly con­nect­ed to the Coun­cil on Nation­al Pol­i­cy, an insti­tu­tion dom­i­nat­ed by far-right wingers close­ly iden­ti­fied with the covert oper­a­tions of the 1980’s, such as the Iran/Contra and Iraq­gate scan­dals. “In 2001, the Los Ange­les Times report­ed, ‘ . . . pri­mar­i­ly fund­ed by evan­gel­i­cal Christians—particularly the wealthy Ahman­son fam­i­ly of Irvine—the [Dis­cov­ery] Institute’s $1‑million annu­al pro­gram has pro­duced 25 books, a stream of con­fer­ences and more than 100 fel­low­ships for doc­tor­al and post­doc­tor­al research.’ The chief phil­an­thropists of the Dis­cov­ery Insti­tute, that push­es cre­ation­ist sci­ence and edu­ca­tion in Cal­i­for­nia, are Howard and Rober­ta Ahman­son. Accord­ing to Group Watch, in the 1980’s Howard F. Ahman­son, Jr. was a mem­ber of the high­ly secre­tive far-Right Coun­cil for Nation­al Pol­i­cy, an orga­ni­za­tion that includ­ed Lieu­tenant Colonel Oliv­er North, Major Gen­er­al John K. Singlaub and oth­er Iran-Con­tra scan­dal nota­bles, as well as for­mer Klan mem­bers like Richard Shoff. Ahman­son, heir to a sav­ings and loan for­tune, is lit­tle report­ed on in the main­stream U.S. press. But, Eng­lish papers like The Inde­pen­dent are a bit more forth­com­ing on Ahmanson’s pol­i­tics.” (Ibid.; pp. 2–3.)

10. “ ‘On the right, fig­ures such as Richard Mel­lon Scaife and Howard Ahman­son have giv­en hun­dreds of mil­lions of dol­lars over sev­er­al decades to polit­i­cal projects both high (set­ting up the Her­itage Foun­da­tion think-tank, the dri­ving engine of the Rea­gan pres­i­den­cy) and low (bankrolling inves­ti­ga­tions into Pres­i­dent Clinton’s sex­u­al indis­cre­tions and the sui­cide of the White House insid­er Vin­cent Fos­ter),’ wrote The Inde­pen­dent last Novem­ber. The Sun­day Mail described an indi­vid­ual as, ‘ . . . a fun­da­men­tal­ist Chris­t­ian more in the mould of U.S. mul­ti-mil­lion­aire Howard Ahman­son, Jr., who uses his for­tune to pro­mote so-called tra­di­tion­al fam­i­ly val­ues . . . by wav­ing for­tunes under their noses, Ahman­son has the abil­i­ty to cajole can­di­dates into back­ing his right-wing Chris­t­ian agen­da.” (Ibid.; p. 3.)

11. Note the role of Chuck Hagel in the devel­op­ment of ES&S, one of the com­pa­nies deeply involved in the elec­tron­ic vot­ing busi­ness. The com­pa­ny grew con­sid­er­ably when it pur­chased BRC, found­ed in part by the far-right wing Hunt fam­i­ly of Texas. (The Hunts assist­ed in the found­ing of the Coun­cil on Nation­al Pol­i­cy.) “Ahman­son is also a chief con­trib­u­tor to the Chal­cedon Insti­tute that sup­ports the Chris­t­ian recon­struc­tion move­ment. The movement’s phi­los­o­phy advo­cates, among oth­er things, ‘man­dat­ing the death penal­ty for homo­sex­u­als and drunk­ards.’ The Ahman­son fam­i­ly sold their shares in Amer­i­can Infor­ma­tion Sys­tems to the McCarthy Group and the World Her­ald Com­pa­ny, Inc. Repub­li­can Sen­a­tor Chuck Hagel dis­closed in pub­lic doc­u­ments that he was the Chair­man of Amer­i­can Infor­ma­tion Sys­tems and claimed between a $1 to 5 mil­lion invest­ment in the McCarthy Group. In 1997, Amer­i­can Infor­ma­tion Sys­tems pur­chased Busi­ness Records Corp. (BRC), for­mer­ly Texas-based elec­tion com­pa­ny Cronus Indus­tries, to become ES&S. One of the BRC own­ers was Car­olyn Hunt of the right-wing Hunt oil fam­i­ly, which sup­plied much of the orig­i­nal mon­ey for the Coun­cil on Nation­al Pol­i­cy.” (Idem.)

12. Did Hagel’s ES&S con­nec­tion help with his “stun­ning” elec­toral upset? “In 1996, Hagel became the first elect­ed Repub­li­can Nebras­ka sen­a­tor in 24 years when he did sur­pris­ing­ly well in an elec­tion where the votes were ver­i­fied by the com­pa­ny he served as chair­man and [in which] he main­tained a finan­cial invest­ment. In both the 1996 and 2002 elec­tions, Hagel’s Es&S count­ed an esti­mat­ed 80% of his win­ning votes. Due to the con­tract­ing out of ser­vices, con­fi­den­tial­i­ty agree­ments between the State of Nebras­ka and the com­pa­ny kept this mat­ter out of the pub­lic eye. Hagel’s first elec­tion vic­to­ry was described as a ‘stun­ning upset’ by one Nebras­ka news­pa­per.” (Idem.)

13. “Hagel’s offi­cial biog­ra­phy states, ‘Pri­or to his elec­tion to the U.S. Sen­ate, Hagel worked in the pri­vate sec­tor as the Pres­i­dent of McCarthy and Com­pa­ny, an invest­ment bank­ing firm based in Oma­ha, Nebras­ka and served as Chair­man of the Board of Amer­i­can Infor­ma­tion Sys­tems.’ Dur­ing the first Bush pres­i­den­cy, Hagel served as Deputy Direc­tor and Chief Oper­at­ing Offi­cer of the 1990 Eco­nom­ic Sum­mit of Indus­tri­al­ized Nations (G‑7 Sum­mit).” (Idem.)

14. Again, note the inces­tu­ous struc­ture of Diebold, ES&S and both firms’ rela­tion­ship to Hagel and the Uro­se­vich broth­ers. “Bob Uro­se­vich was the Pro­gram­mer and CEO at AIS, before being replaced by Hagel. Bob now heads Diebold Elec­tion Sys­tems and his broth­er Todd is a top exec­u­tive at ES&S. Bob cre­at­ed Diebold’s orig­i­nal elec­tron­ic vot­ing machine soft­ware. Thus, the broth­ers Uro­se­vich, orig­i­nal­ly fund­ed by the far Right, fig­ure in the count­ing of approx­i­mate­ly 80% of elec­tron­ic vot­ing in the Unit­ed States.” (Idem.)

15. “Like Ohio, the State of Mary­land was dis­turbed by the poten­tial for mas­sive elec­tron­ic vot­er fraud. The vot­ers of that state were reas­sured when the state hired SAIC to mon­i­tor Diebold’s sys­tems. SAIC’s for­mer CEO is Admi­ral Bill Owens. Owens served as a mil­i­tary aide to both Vice Pres­i­dent Dick Cheney and for­mer Defense Sec­re­tary Frank Car­luc­ci, who now works with George H.W. Bush at the con­tro­ver­sial Car­lyle Group. Robert Gates, for­mer CIA direc­tor and close friend of the Bush fam­i­ly, also served on the SAIC Board.” (Ibid.; pp. 3–4.)

16. More on the high­ly sus­pi­cious track record of Diebold and ES&S: “Wher­ev­er Diebold and ES&S go, irreg­u­lar­i­ties and his­toric Repub­li­can upsets fol­low. Alas­tair Thomp­son, writ­ing for scoop.co of New Zealand, explored whether or not the 2002 U.S. mid-term elec­tions were ‘fixed by elec­tron­ic vot­ing machines sup­plied by Repub­li­can-affil­i­at­ed com­pa­nies.’ The scoop inves­ti­ga­tion con­clud­ed that: ‘The state where the biggest upset occurred, Geor­gia, is also the state that ran its elec­tion with the most elec­tron­ic vot­ing machines.’ Those machines were sup­plied by Diebold.” (Ibid.; p. 4.)

17. Note that Diebold machines returned iden­ti­cal vote counts for three Repub­li­can can­di­dates in Texas in 2002. “Wired News report­ed that ‘ . . . a

for­mer work­er in Diebold’s Geor­gia ware­house says the com­pa­ny installed patch­es on its machine before the state’s 2002 guber­na­to­r­i­al elec­tion that were nev­er cer­ti­fied by inde­pen­dent test­ing author­i­ties or cleared with Geor­gia elec­tion offi­cials.’ Ques­tions were raised in Texas when three Repub­li­can can­di­dates in Comal Coun­ty each received exact­ly the same num­ber of votes—18,181—on ES&S machines.” (Idem.)

18. Diebold installed uncer­ti­fied soft­ware in machines in 17 Cal­i­for­nia coun­ties using their equip­ment. Manip­u­lat­ing vote counts was a key fea­ture of the for­eign covert oper­a­tions of the Rea­gan and Bush (I) years. Recall that the Ahman­sons (deeply involved with the devel­op­ment of the com­pa­nies that make elec­tron­ic vot­ing machines and their soft­ware) were asso­ci­at­ed with peo­ple like Oliv­er North and John Singlaub—prime movers in many of those covert oper­a­tions. “Fol­low­ing the 2003 Cal­i­for­nia elec­tion, an audit of the com­pa­ny revealed that Diebold Elec­tion Sys­tems vot­ing machines installed uncer­ti­fied soft­ware in all 17 coun­ties using its equip­ment. For­mer CIA Sta­tion Chief John Stock­well writes that one of the favorite tac­tics of the CIA dur­ing the Rea­gan-Bush admin­is­tra­tion in the 1980’s was to con­trol coun­tries by manip­u­lat­ing the elec­tion process. ‘CIA apol­o­gists leap up and say, ‘Well, most of these things are not so bloody.’ And that’s true. You’re giv­ing politi­cians some mon­ey so he’ll throw his [sic] par­ty in this direc­tion or that one, or make false speech­es on your behalf, or some­thing like that. It may be non-vio­lent, but it’s still ille­gal inter­ven­tion in oth­er coun­tries’ affairs, rais­ing the ques­tion of whether or not we’re going to have a world in which laws, rules of behav­ior are respect­ed,’ Stock­well wrote. Doc­u­ments illus­trate that the Rea­gan and Bush admin­is­tra­tions sup­port­ed com­put­er manip­u­la­tion in both Noriega’s rise to pow­er in Pana­ma and in Mar­cos’ attempt to retain pow­er in the Philip­pines. Many of the Rea­gan administration’s staunchest sup­port­ers were mem­bers of the Coun­cil on Nation­al Pol­i­cy.” (Idem.)

19. Athan Gibbs and his Tru­Vote Inter­na­tion­al machines pro­vid­ed one ray of hope for those con­cerned about the per­ils of elec­tron­ic vot­ing. “Ohio Sen­a­tor Fedor con­tin­ues to fight valiant­ly for Sen­ate Bill 167 and the Holy Grail of the ‘vot­er ver­i­fied paper audit trail.’ Pro­po­nents of a paper trail were embold­ened when Athan Gibbs, Pres­i­dent and CEO of Tru­Vote Inter­na­tion­al, demon­strat­ed a vot­ing machine at a vendor’s fair in Colum­bus that pro­vides two sep­a­rate vot­ing receipts. The first paper receipt dis­plays the voter’s touch screen selec­tion under plex­i­glass that falls into a lock­box after the vot­er approves. Also, the Tru­Vote sys­tem pro­vides the vot­er with a receipt that includes a unique vot­er ID and pin num­ber which can be used to call in to a vot­er audit inter­net con­nec­tion to make sure the vote cast was actu­al­ly count­ed. Brooks Thomas, Coor­di­na­tor of Elec­tions in Ten­nessee, stat­ed, ‘I’ve not seen any­thing that com­pares to the Gibbs’ Tru­Vote val­i­da­tion sys­tem. . . .’ The Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of State of Geor­gia, Ter­rel L. Slay­ton, Jr., claimed Gibbs had come up with the ‘per­fect solu­tion.’ . . .” (Idem.)

20. HR 2239 is one piece of leg­is­la­tion that would require a paper vot­ing trail for all elec­tron­ic vot­ing machines. “ . . . U.S. Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Rush Holt intro­duced HR 2239, the Vot­er Con­fi­dence and Increased Acces­si­bil­i­ty Act of 2003 that would require elec­tron­ic vot­ing machines to pro­duce a paper trail so that vot­ers may ver­i­fy that their screen touch­es match their actu­al vote. Elec­tion offi­cials would also have a paper trail for recounts. As Black­well pres­sures the Ohio leg­is­la­ture to adopt elec­tron­ic vot­ing machines with­out a paper trail, Athan Gibbs won­ders, ‘Why would you buy a vot­ing machine from a com­pa­ny like Diebold which pro­vides a paper trail for every sin­gle machine it makes except its vot­ing machines? And then, when you ask it to ver­i­fy its num­bers, it hides behind ‘trade secrets.’ Maybe the Diebold deci­sion makes sense, if you believe, to para­phrase Hen­ry Kissinger, that democ­ra­cy is too impor­tant to leave up to the votes of the peo­ple.” (Ibid.; p. 5.)

21. The broad­cast then reviews the death of the afore­men­tioned Athan Gibbs, a crit­ic of com­put­er vot­ing machines that do not pro­vide a paper trail. Gibbs, who (as not­ed above) had devel­oped a tech­nol­o­gy that assured a viable account­ing of votes, was killed in a car/truck col­li­sion in Texas. “The sub­ject line on yesterday’s e‑mail read: ‘Anoth­er mys­te­ri­ous acci­dent solves a Bush prob­lem. Athan Gibbs dead, Diebold lives.’ The attached news sto­ry briefly described the untime­ly Fri­day, March 12th death of per­haps America’s most influ­en­tial advo­cate of a ver­i­fied vot­ing paper trail in the era of touch screen com­put­er vot­ing. Gibbs, an accoun­tant for more than 30 years and the inven­tor of the Tru­Vote sys­tem, died when his vehi­cle col­lid­ed with an 18-wheeled truck which rolled his Chevy Blaz­er sev­er­al times and forced it over the high­way retain­ing wall where it came to rest on its roof. . . .” (“Mys­te­ri­ous Death Ben­e­fits Bush” by Bob Fitrakis; Coastal Post; 4/2004; p. 1.)

22. Review­ing (from FTR#468) an emphat­i­cal­ly spec­u­la­tive item, the pro­gram exam­ines recent fore­casts of earth­quake activ­i­ty for Cal­i­for­nia lat­er this year. This infor­ma­tion is pre­sent­ed in the con­text of a num­ber of past broad­casts in which it has been estab­lished that tech­nol­o­gy exists for the delib­er­ate trig­ger­ing of earth­quakes, where suf­fi­cient slip­page exists on a fault sys­tem to pro­duce such an event. (For more about this, see FTR#69. FTRs 434, 440 dis­cuss the pos­si­bil­i­ty of a man-made quake in Cal­i­for­nia cal­cu­lat­ed to affect the elec­tion results.) The pos­si­bil­i­ty that a major quake occur­ring short­ly before the elec­tion might have a sig­nif­i­cant impact on the out­come should be care­ful­ly con­sid­ered. Such a dis­as­ter could lead to the delay or can­cel­la­tion of the elec­tion in Cal­i­for­nia and would have far-reach­ing con­se­quences for the U.S. as well. If the quake were severe, it could lead to an impo­si­tion of mar­tial law in the U.S., due to the far-reach­ing eco­nom­ic and eco­log­i­cal con­se­quences atten­dant upon such an event. A major Cal­i­for­nia quake would also hand polit­i­cal cen­ter stage to the Ter­mi­na­tor and George W. They could be pack­aged as the sav­iors of Cal­i­for­nia. The grate­ful cit­i­zens’ [delayed] votes would go to Bush, even though Schwarzeneg­ger will be the one who gar­ners most of the action. Such an event could well be used to posi­tion Schwarzeneg­ger for a run for nation­al office. “Sci­en­tists have found strik­ing evi­dence of a three-year cycle of earth­quakes on the San Andreas Fault, a devel­op­ment that might lead to the first prac­ti­cal short-term earth­quake fore­cast­ing in cen­tral Cal­i­for­nia. The new research, which one expert called a tour de force of geo­science, sug­gests that the next peak of the cycle is like­ly to come late this year. . . .”
(“San Andreas Quakes Show Cycli­cal Pat­tern: UC-Berke­ley Study Finds Fault Slip­ping in Peri­od­ic Bursts” by Keay David­son; San Fran­cis­co Chron­i­cle; 1/9/2004; p. 1.)

23. Yet anoth­er pre­dic­tion of a quake for Cal­i­for­nia for lat­er this year. “A US geo­physi­cist has set the sci­en­tif­ic world ablaze by claim­ing to have cracked a holy grail: accu­rate earth­quake pre­dic­tion, and warn­ing that a big one will soon hit south­ern Cal­i­for­nia. A Russ­ian-born Uni­ver­si­ty of Cal­i­for­nia at Los Ange­les pro­fes­sor Vladi­mi

r Keilis-Borok says he can fore­see major quakes by track­ing minor tem­blors and his­tor­i­cal pat­terns in seis­mic hotspots that could indi­cate more vio­lent shak­ing is on the way. And he has made a chill­ing pre­dic­tion that a quake mea­sur­ing at least 6.4 mag­ni­tude on the Richter scale will hit a 31,200-square-kilometer (12,000-square-mile) area of south­ern Cal­i­for­nia by Sep­tem­ber 5. . . .”
(“Expert Warns Cal­i­for­nia to Brace for Big Quake by Sep­tem­ber” (AFP); Yahoo.com; 4/15/2004; pp. 1–2.)

24. The pro­gram notes that Schwarzeneg­ger recent­ly replaced the head of the Cal­i­for­nia Nation­al Guard with a Repub­li­can. This may, or may not be of sig­nif­i­cance. Cer­tain­ly, the Nation­al Guard will be cen­tral­ly involved in any major dis­as­ter response in Cal­i­for­nia. Whether or not this is coin­ci­den­tal or of any sig­nif­i­cance at all remains to be seen. Schwarzeneg­ger also recent­ly replaced the head of the Cal­i­for­nia High­way Patrol—another insti­tu­tion that would be piv­otal­ly involved in a major emer­gency response by the state’s infra­struc­ture. “Gov. Arnold Schwarzeneg­ger abrupt­ly removed Maj. Gen. Paul Mon­roe as com­man­der of the Cal­i­for­nia Nation­al Guard on Tues­day and replaced him with Maj. Gen. Thomas Eres, who has served as direc­tor of the guard’s office of home­land secu­ri­ty. . . . His [Monroe’s] replace­ment, Eres, 59, takes over imme­di­ate­ly. Eres rose through the ranks dur­ing 35 years of ser­vice in the Nation­al Guard. In civil­ian life, he is senior part­ner in the Sacra­men­to law firm of Nos­saman, Gun­th­n­er, Knox & Elliott. He is a Repub­li­can. Mon­roe is a Demo­c­rat. . . .”
(“Schwarzeneg­ger Removes Nation­al Guard Com­man­der” by Carl Nolte; San Fran­cis­co Chron­i­cle; 3/4/2004; p. A19.)

25. In his intro­duc­tion to the por­tion of the pro­gram deal­ing with Cal­i­for­nia quake pre­dic­tions, Mr. Emory notes that this infor­ma­tion falls in a gray area that hov­ers between “real­i­ty” and “para­noia.” In that same vein, a [hope­ful­ly] humor­ous com­ment by Flori­da Gov­er­nor Jeb Bush may well be noth­ing more than the taste­less joke it appears to be. Let’s hope so, any­way. “ . . . Gov. Jeb Bush joked dur­ing a Flori­da Cab­i­net meet­ing Wednes­day that the peo­ple of San Fran­cis­co may be endan­gered and, ‘That’s prob­a­bly good news for the coun­try.’ The sub­ject was envi­ron­men­tal land and Bush was look­ing at a map show­ing loca­tions with a lot of dif­fer­ent wildlife. ‘It looks like the peo­ple of San Fran­cis­co are an endan­gered species, which may not be a bad thing. That’s prob­a­bly good news for the coun­try.’ Peo­ple in the room broke into laugh­ter. ‘Did I just say that out loud?’ the gov­er­nor asked.’”
(“Jeb Bush Says Peo­ple of San Fran­cis­co Are Endan­gered Species” by Jim Spark­man; Chron­Watch; 11/17/2003; p. 1.)

26. Among the fac­tors man­dat­ing dis­cus­sion of these trou­ble­some and (to some) far-fetched rumi­na­tions con­cern­ing pos­si­ble seis­mic sub­ver­sion of the elec­toral and demo­c­ra­t­ic process­es is the overt­ly Machi­avel­lian nature of this admin­is­tra­tion. One of the strat­a­gems that Machi­avel­li coun­seled in The Prince was the delib­er­ate use of anni­hi­la­tion to inter­dict a population’s renascent demo­c­ra­t­ic instincts. “Indeed, there is no sur­er way of keep­ing pos­ses­sion than by dev­as­ta­tion. Who­ev­er becomes the mas­ter of a city accus­tomed to free­dom, and does not destroy it, may expect to be destroyed him­self; because, when there is a rebel­lion, such a city jus­ti­fies itself by call­ing on the name of lib­er­ty and its ancient insti­tu­tions, nev­er for­got­ten despite the pass­ing of time and the ben­e­fits received from the new ruler. What­ev­er the conqueror’s actions or fore­sight, if the inhab­i­tants are not dis­persed and scat­tered, they will for­get nei­ther that name nor those insti­tu­tions; and at first oppor­tu­ni­ty they will at once have recourse to them, as did Pisa after hav­ing been kept in servi­tude for a hun­dred years by the Flo­ren­tines. . . .But in republics there is more life, more hatred, a greater desire for revenge; the mem­o­ry of their ancient lib­er­ty does not and can­not let them rest; in their case the surest way is to wipe them out. . . .”
(The Prince; Nic­co­lo Machi­avel­li; Pen­guin Clas­sics [trans­lat­ed by George Bull]; ISBN 0–14-044107–7; pp. 48–49.)

27. There has been wide­spread spec­u­la­tion about the pos­si­bil­i­ty of a ter­ror­ist inci­dent that might affect the elec­tion. Gen­er­al Tom­my Franks gave an inter­view in late 2003 in which he weighed the grave dan­ger to Amer­i­can democ­ra­cy that a ter­ror­ist inci­dent with WMD’s (weapons of mass destruc­tion) would pose. Those who see Al Qae­da and relat­ed orga­ni­za­tions as sim­ple agent-prova­ca­teurs con­trolled by the Bush admin­is­tra­tion are mak­ing a seri­ous mis­take. Both Al Qae­da and the Bush admin­is­tra­tion are tools of the Under­ground Reich—Bush & co. do not con­trol Al Qae­da. Nonethe­less, many in this admin­is­tra­tion would wel­come anoth­er dead­ly ter­ror­ist inci­dent as a vehi­cle for elim­i­nat­ing what remains of Amer­i­can democ­ra­cy. (As dis­cussed in—among oth­er programs—FTRs 372, 412, 441, 471—this admin­is­tra­tion and its allies might be more close­ly com­pared with the French pow­er elite in the pre-World War II peri­od. They active­ly wel­comed the Ger­man vic­to­ry in World War II, which they saw as the ide­al vehi­cle for elim­i­nat­ing French democ­ra­cy. The rela­tion­ship between this admin­is­tra­tion and Al Qae­da is anal­o­gous to the rela­tion­ship between the French pow­er elite and the Ger­man invaders. The Ger­man inva­sion of France in World War II was not a provo­ca­tion intend­ed to expand French influ­ence. Nonethe­less, it was antic­i­pat­ed and great­ly aid­ed by the French pow­er elite, who col­lab­o­rat­ed enthu­si­as­ti­cal­ly with the Third Reich.) “Gen. Tom­my Franks says that if the Unit­ed States is hit with a weapon of mass destruc­tion that inflicts large casu­al­ties, the Con­sti­tu­tion will like­ly be dis­card­ed in favor of a mil­i­tary form of gov­ern­ment. Franks, who suc­cess­ful­ly led the U.S. mil­i­tary oper­a­tion to lib­er­ate Iraq, expressed his wor­ries in an exten­sive inter­view he gave to the men’s lifestyle mag­a­zine Cig­ar Affi­ciona­do. In the magazine’s Decem­ber edi­tion, the for­mer com­man­der of the military’s Cen­tral Com­mand warned that if ter­ror­ists suc­ceed­ed in using a weapon of mass destruc­tion (WMD) against the U.S. or one of our allies, it would like­ly have cat­a­stroph­ic con­se­quences for our cher­ished repub­li­can form of gov­ern­ment.”
(“Gen. Franks Doubts Con­sti­tu­tion Will Sur­vive WMD Attack” by John O. Edwards; NewsMax.com; 12/21/2003; p. 1.)

28. “Dis­cussing the hypo­thet­i­cal dan­gers posed to the U.S. in the wake of Sept. 11, Franks said that ‘the worst thing that could hap­pen’ is if ter­ror­ists acquire and then use a bio­log­i­cal, chem­i­cal or nuclear weapon that inflicts heavy casu­al­ties. If that hap­pens, Franks said, ‘ . . . the West­ern world, the free world, los­es what it cher­ish­es most, and that is free­dom and lib­er­ty we’ve seen for a cou­ple of hun­dred years in this grand exper­i­ment that we call democ­ra­cy.’” (Idem.)

29. “Franks then offered ‘in a prac­ti­cal sense’ what he thinks would hap­pen in the after­math of such an attack. ‘It means the poten­tial of a weapon of mass destruc­tion and a ter­ror­ist, mas­sive, casu­al­ty-pro­duc­ing event some­where in the Weste

rn world—it may be in the Unit­ed States of America—that caus­es our pop­u­la­tion to ques­tion our own Con­sti­tu­tion and to begin to mil­i­ta­rize our coun­try in order to avoid a repeat of anoth­er mass, casu­al­ty-pro­duc­ing event. Which in fact, then begins to unrav­el the fab­ric of our Con­sti­tu­tion. Two steps, very, very impor­tant.’” (Idem.)

30. The pro­gram takes a look at the ide­ol­o­gy of Paul Weyrich. It is worth not­ing the close rela­tion­ship between Weyrich’s Coun­cil on Nation­al Pol­i­cy and the devel­op­ers of Diebold, ES&S etc. (Weyrich is also the founder of the Free Con­gress Foun­da­tion, one of the focal points of FTR#465.) As we look ahead to the elec­tions, we should not fail to note the enthu­si­asm with which the far-right ele­ments asso­ci­at­ed with the Bush admin­is­tra­tion view the elim­i­na­tion of the insti­tu­tions of Amer­i­can democ­ra­cy. Their French coun­ter­parts in the pre-World War II peri­od held sim­i­lar atti­tudes. It remains to be seen whether the “Vichy Amer­i­cans” of the Bush admin­is­tra­tion facil­i­tate the destruc­tion of our democ­ra­cy. “On Jan­u­ary 28, 2002, The Amer­i­can Prospect, Inc. pub­lished ‘Fair-Weath­er Friend; Going Down as it Came Up; School Sprays; They’re Back!’ a brief excerpt reads: ‘Two years ago, ur-con­ser­v­a­tive Paul Weyrich stunned the reli­gious right by call­ing for a retreat from tem­po­ral con­cerns. ‘Con­ser­v­a­tives have learned to suc­ceed in pol­i­tics,’ he wrote in an open let­ter that’s still avail­able on the Web site. ‘But that did not result in the adop­tion of our agen­da. The rea­son, I think, is that pol­i­tics itself has failed. And pol­i­tics has failed because of the col­lapse of the cul­ture.’ The right no longer had a ‘moral major­i­ty,’ he wrote. The solu­tion? ‘To look at ways to sep­a­rate our­selves from the insti­tu­tions that have been cap­tured by the ide­ol­o­gy of Polit­i­cal Cor­rect­ness, or by oth­er ene­mies of our tra­di­tion­al cul­ture.’ In essence, he said, the reli­gious right should espouse cul­tur­al and polit­i­cal separatism—by set­ting up its own schools, tele­vi­sion net­works, and even courts of law. The rest of the coun­try breathed a sigh of relief. No more sil­ly Dis­ney boy­cotts by south­ern Bap­tists. No more flaky school-board mem­bers, push­ing cre­ation­ism. No more Paul Weyrich!”
(“Paul Weyrich’s Teach­ing Man­u­al?”; pp. 1–2.)

31. “ ‘The whew, alas, was pre­ma­ture. It turns out that what Weyrich and his folks real­ly had in mind was less sep­a­ratism than gueril­la warfare—a ‘New Tra­di­tion­al­ist’ move­ment that, accord­ing to its man­i­festo, writ­ten by Weyrich pro­tégé Eric Heubeck and bear­ing the grandiose title ‘The Inte­gra­tion of The­o­ry and Prac­tice: A pro­gram for the New Tra­di­tion­al­ist Move­ment,’ would seek ‘to advance a true tra­di­tion­al­ist counter-cul­ture based on virtue, excel­lence, and self-dis­ci­pline.’ The New Traditionalists—who sound a lot like the Old Traditionalists—will ‘reject the mate­ri­al­ism, hedo­nism, con­sumerism, ego­ism, and the cult of self-actu­al­iza­tion which per­me­ate mod­ern life.’ Heubeck elab­o­rates: ‘We will not try to reform exist­ing insti­tu­tions. We only intend to weak­en them, and even­tu­al­ly destroy them. [Empha­sis added.] We will endeav­or to knock our oppo­nents off-bal­ance and unset­tle them at every oppor­tu­ni­ty. . .’” (Ibid.; p. 2.)

32. “ . . . The Bush admin­is­tra­tion is appar­ent­ly quite cozy with Weyrich. This quote from a Time mag­a­zine arti­cle is apro­pos, Time mag­a­zine wrote this: ‘Each Wednes­day, Rove dis­patch­es a top admin­is­tra­tion offi­cial to attend the reg­u­lar con­ser­v­a­tive-coali­tion lunch­es held at Paul Weyrich’s Free Con­gress Foun­da­tion. When activists call his office with a prob­lem, Rove doesn’t pass them off to an aide. He often responds him­self. When Weyrich heard a few weeks that Bush’s bud­get slashed fund­ing for a favorite project called the Police Corps, which gives schol­ar­ships and train­ing to police cadets, he com­plained to the White House. To Weyrich’s sur­prise, Rove called back, ‘We’ve tak­en care of it,’ Rove said. ‘The prob­lem is solved.’” (Idem.)

33. Con­clud­ing with an anec­dote illus­tra­tive of the anti-Demo­c­ra­t­ic, pro-fas­cist views present in the Amer­i­can polit­i­cal estab­lish­ment, the pro­gram presents an encounter a Wash­ing­ton lob­by­ist had with a promi­nent South­ern reac­tionary His views were echoed by the pri­vate sec­re­tary to then House Minor­i­ty leader [and lat­er Pres­i­dent] Ger­ald Ford. “In Jan­u­ary 1968, Haden Kirk­patrick, pub­lish­er of racing’s bible, Thor­ough­bred Record, and his wife gave a small din­ner par­ty at the Pavil­lon Restau­rant in New York. Dur­ing din­ner, we all start­ed dis­cussing the state of nation­al and inter­na­tion­al affairs. Haden turned to me and said: ‘The trou­ble is and always has been Franklin Delano Roo­sevelt. He got us in the Sec­ond World War on the wrong side.’ I was speech­less.”
(The Wash­ing­ton Pay-Off; by Robert N. Win­ter-Berg­er; Copy­right 1972 by Robert N. Win­ter-Berg­er; Lyle Stu­art, Inc. [HC]; ISBN 73–185421; p. 297.)

34. “Sev­er­al days lat­er, back in Wash­ing­ton, I recount­ed this sto­ry to Mil­dred Leonard, for many years Jer­ry Ford’s pri­vate sec­re­tary. [This refers to for­mer House Minor­i­ty Leader, Vice-Pres­i­dent and Pres­i­dent Ger­ald Ford.] Before I could add my per­son­al reac­tion to Haden’s remark, Mil­dred looked up at me and said: ‘You know, he’s right, Mr. Win­ter-Berg­er.’ I was even more amazed, hear­ing this in the Capi­tol of the Unit­ed States from the sec­re­tary of the House Minor­i­ty Leader.” (Idem.)

Discussion

4 comments for “FTR #470 Democracy Imperiled”

  1. For­mer Ohio Sec­re­tary of State Ken Black­well is now rais­ing mon­ey to pro­mote the GOP’s new push to rig the elec­toral col­lege:

    The Atlantic
    The GOP Plan to Take the Elec­toral-Vote-Rig­ging Scheme Nation­al
    Jan 25 2013, 11:35 AM ET

    Repub­li­can leg­is­la­tors in sev­er­al states have begun push­ing to appor­tion elec­toral-col­lege votes by con­gres­sion­al dis­trict, a move that has Democ­rats up in arms. Had a sim­i­lar scheme been in effect in 2012, nation­al­ly or in a hand­ful of key states, Mitt Rom­ney could have won the pres­i­den­cy despite los­ing the pop­u­lar vote. (David Gra­ham explains the idea, and why it’s so con­tro­ver­sial, here.)

    Up to now, these efforts appear to have sprout­ed inde­pen­dent­ly as the work of indi­vid­ual law­mak­ers in Vir­ginia, Michi­gan, Ohio, and Penn­syl­va­nia. The Vir­ginia plan has passed the state House of Del­e­gates and could become law as soon as next week.

    But now a Repub­li­can oper­a­tive has a plan to take the idea nation­al.

    Jor­dan Gehrke, a D.C.-based strate­gist who’s worked on pres­i­den­tial and Sen­ate cam­paigns, is team­ing up with Ken Black­well, a for­mer Ohio Repub­li­can sec­re­tary of state, to raise mon­ey for an effort to pro­pose sim­i­lar elec­toral reforms in states across the coun­try, he told me this week.

    Gehrke and Black­well have been talk­ing to major donors and plan to send a fundrais­ing email to grass­roots con­ser­v­a­tives ear­ly next week. The mon­ey would go toward pro­mot­ing sim­i­lar plans to appor­tion elec­toral votes by con­gres­sion­al dis­trict in states across the coun­try, poten­tial­ly even hir­ing lob­by­ists in state cap­i­tals.

    ...

    A word of advice to any donors to Black­well’s cam­paign: don’t plan on any audits for how the mon­ey is spent. That’s not how he rolls:

    The Free Press
    Diebold, elec­tron­ic vot­ing and the vast right-wing con­spir­a­cy
    Feb­ru­ary 24, 2004

    The Gov­er­nor of Ohio, Bob Taft, and oth­er promi­nent state offi­cials, com­mute to their down­town Colum­bus offices on Broad Street. This is the so-called “Gold­en Fin­ger,” the safe route through the major­i­ty black inner-city near east side. The Broad Street BP sta­tion, just east of down­town, is the place where afflu­ent sub­ur­ban­ites from Bex­ley can stop, gas up, get their cof­fee and New York Times. Those in need of cash vis­it BP’s Diebold man­u­fac­tured Cash­Source+ ATM machine which pro­vides a paper receipt of the trans­ac­tion to all cus­tomers upon request.

    Many of Taft’s and Pres­i­dent George W. Bush’s major donors, like Diebold’s cur­rent CEO Walden “Wal­ly” O’Dell, reside in Colum­bus’ north­west sub­urb Upper Arling­ton. O’Dell is on record stat­ing that he is “com­mit­ted to help­ing Ohio deliv­er its elec­toral votes to the Pres­i­dent” this year. On Sep­tem­ber 26, 2003, he host­ed an Ohio Repub­li­can Par­ty fundrais­er for Bush’s re-elec­tion at his Cotswold Manor man­sion. Tick­ets to the fundrais­er cost $1000 per cou­ple, but O’Dell’s fundrais­ing let­ter urged those attend­ing to “Donate or raise $10,000 for the Ohio Repub­li­can Par­ty.”

    Accord­ing to the Colum­bus Dis­patch: “Last year, O’Dell and his wife Patri­cia, cam­paigned for pas­sage of two liquor options that made their por­tion of Tremont Road wet.

    On Novem­ber 5, Upper Arling­ton res­i­dents nar­row­ly passed mea­sures that allowed fundrais­ing par­ties to offer more than beer, even though his 10,800-square-foot home is a res­i­dence, a per­mit is required because alco­hol is includ­ed in the price of fundrais­ing tick­ets. O’Dell is also allowed to serve “beer, wine and mixed drinks” at Sun­day fundrais­ers.

    O’Dell’s fund-rais­ing let­ter fol­lowed on the heels of a vis­it to Pres­i­dent Bush’s Craw­ford Texas ranch by “Pio­neers and Rangers,” the des­ig­na­tion for peo­ple who had raised $100,000 or more for Bush’s re-elec­tion.

    If Ohio’s Repub­li­can Sec­re­tary of State Ken­neth Black­well has his way, Diebold will receive a con­tract to sup­ply touch screen elec­tron­ic vot­ing machines for much of the state. None of these Diebold machines will pro­vide a paper receipt of the vote.

    Diebold, locat­ed in North Can­ton, Ohio, does its pri­ma­ry busi­ness in ATM and tick­et-vend­ing machines. Crit­ics of Diebold point out that vir­tu­al­ly every oth­er machine the com­pa­ny makes pro­vides a paper trail to ver­i­fy the machine’s cal­cu­la­tions. Odd­ly, only the vot­ing machines lack this essen­tial func­tion.

    State Sen­a­tor Tere­sa Fedor of Tole­do intro­duced Sen­ate Bill 167 late last year man­dat­ing that every vot­ing machine in Ohio gen­er­ate a “vot­er ver­i­fied paper audit trail.” Sec­re­tary of State Black­well has denounced any attempt to require a paper trail as an effort to “derail” elec­tion reform. Blackwell’s polit­i­cal career is an inter­est­ing one: he emerged as a black activist in Cincin­nati sup­port­ing munic­i­pal char­ter reform, became an elect­ed Demo­c­rat, then an Inde­pen­dent, and now is a promi­nent Repub­li­can with his eyes on the Governor’s man­sion.
    ...

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | January 25, 2013, 2:57 pm
  2. The US’s epi­dem­ic of vot­er-fraud fraud just keeps get­ting worse:

    MSNBC
    Kobach vot­er-fraud alle­ga­tions exposed as fraud­u­lent

    By Steve Benen
    02/10/15 04:01 PM

    When it comes to the so-called “Repub­li­can war on vot­ing,” few fig­ures are quite as noto­ri­ous as Kansas Sec­re­tary of State Kris Kobach ®. The far-right official’s antics dur­ing last fall’s U.S. Sen­ate race in Kansas were them­selves remark­able, but even before then, Kobach has earned a rep­u­ta­tion as a pio­neer in vot­er-sup­pres­sion tac­tics.

    Not sur­pris­ing­ly, fre­quent claims about “vot­er fraud” – a phe­nom­e­non that large­ly exists in the imag­i­na­tion of far-right activists – have become a Kobach sta­ple, though one par­tic­u­lar inci­dent is prov­ing to be a real prob­lem.

    Dur­ing last year’s elec­tion, the Kansas Sec­re­tary of State chas­tised U.S. Attor­ney Bar­ry Gris­som, com­plain­ing to the media that Kobach’s office had referred exam­ples of vot­er fraud to the Kansas-based fed­er­al pros­e­cu­tor, but Gris­som has refused to pros­e­cute. Worse, Kobach said the U.S. Attor­ney didn’t “know what he’s talk­ing about” when Gris­som said vot­er fraud doesn’t exist in Kansas.

    The AP reports today that when Kobach made these claims, he appears to have been brazen­ly lying (thanks to my col­league Tri­cia McK­in­ney for the heads-up).

    [I]n a Nov. 6 let­ter sent from Gris­som to Kobach and obtained by The Asso­ci­at­ed Press through an open records request, the pros­e­cu­tor respond­ed that his office received no such refer­rals from Kobach, and chid­ed the sec­re­tary of state for his state­ments.

    “Going for­ward, if your office deter­mines there has been an act of vot­er fraud please for­ward the mat­ter to me for inves­ti­ga­tion and pros­e­cu­tion,” Gris­som wrote. “Until then, so we can avoid mis­state­ments of facts for the future, for the record, we have received no vot­er fraud cas­es from your office in over four and a half years. And, I can assure you, I do know what I’m talk­ing about.”

    Wait, it gets worse.

    Kobach now con­cedes that when he said he’d referred vot­er-fraud cas­es to the U.S. Attorney’s office, he had not, in real­i­ty, referred vot­er-fraud cas­es to the U.S. Attorney’s office. But, the right-wing offi­cial told the AP, Kobach’s pre­de­ces­sor had alert­ed the fed­er­al pros­e­cu­tor to two rel­e­vant cas­es and Gris­som ignored those refer­rals.

    It turns out, that’s not true, either: fed­er­al inves­ti­ga­tors looked into those 2011 alle­ga­tions and, as the AP report not­ed, they con­clud­ed they were not vot­er fraud.

    Why in the world would Kobach make such demon­stra­bly false alle­ga­tions? Because he wants Kansas’ leg­is­la­ture to empow­er his office direct­ly to go after vot­er-fraud cas­es – which, remem­ber, are large­ly imag­i­nary.

    ...

    Huh, so Kansas’s Sec­re­tary of State, Kris Kobach, was claim­ing last fall that the US Attor­ney based in Kansas was ignor­ing all these cas­es of vot­er fraud that his office was send­ing them. But upon review it turns out that they did­n’t send any­thing at all.

    Clear­ly, the solu­tion here for how to address the issue of Kris Kobach’s fan­ta­sy vot­er fraud is to give Kobach even more pow­er to pros­e­cute all these cas­es him­self, with­out rely­ing on fed­er­al pros­e­cu­tors. Or local pros­e­cu­tors. Yeah, that should do the trick:

    Asso­ci­at­ed Press

    Kobach seek­ing pow­er to pros­e­cute sus­pect­ed vot­er fraud him­self

    The pro­posed leg­is­la­tion would also expand the Kansas attor­ney general’s pow­er to inde­pen­dent­ly pros­e­cute local elec­tion offens­es with­out get­ting coun­ty pros­e­cu­tors’ approval. It also increas­es vot­er fraud penal­ties.

    Feb­ru­ary 10, 2015

    By ROXANA HEGEMAN

    Kansas Sec­re­tary of State Kris Kobach, the archi­tect behind some of the nation’s strictest vot­er ID require­ments, is ask­ing law­mak­ers to give him the pow­er to press vot­er fraud charges because he says pros­e­cu­tors do not pur­sue cas­es he refers.

    The state’s top fed­er­al pros­e­cu­tor, how­ev­er, says Kobach has not sent any cas­es his way. Some coun­ty pros­e­cu­tors say cas­es that have been referred did not jus­ti­fy pros­e­cu­tion.

    Kobach pub­licly chas­tised Kansas-based U.S. Attor­ney Bar­ry Gris­som late last year, telling Tope­ka tele­vi­sion sta­tion WIBW he had referred vot­er fraud cas­es to Gris­som and that Gris­som didn’t “know what he’s talk­ing about” when he said vot­er fraud doesn’t exist in Kansas.

    But in a Nov. 6 let­ter sent from Gris­som to Kobach and obtained by the Asso­ci­at­ed Press through an open-records request, the pros­e­cu­tor respond­ed that his office received no such refer­rals from Kobach and chid­ed the sec­re­tary of state for his state­ments.

    ...

    Kobach acknowl­edged last week that his office nev­er has sent sus­pect­ed vot­er fraud cas­es to Gris­som, cit­ing instead what he said was inac­tion on cas­es referred by his pre­de­ces­sor. Gris­som said the FBI deter­mined two cas­es referred before Kobach took office in Jan­u­ary 2011 were not vot­er fraud.

    Kobach said last week that his office “felt it would be more pro­duc­tive to refer cas­es first to Kansas coun­ty attor­neys rather than send­ing them first to Mr. Grissom’s office.”

    “That is the approach we have tak­en for the last few years,” he said.

    Kobach told law­mak­ers last month that in the 2010 and 2012 Kansas elec­tions, for which there were 1.7 mil­lion reg­is­tered vot­ers, his office found 18 cas­es in which it appeared some­one dou­ble-vot­ed by vot­ing in advance and then at the polls.

    He said 15 cas­es were referred to coun­ty pros­e­cu­tors; one was dropped because the vot­er had died, one was sent to the FBI, and one was referred to the Texas attor­ney gen­er­al, who Kobach said was more aggres­sive about pur­su­ing vot­er fraud cas­es than some Kansas pros­e­cu­tors.

    Kobach said action was tak­en in only sev­en cas­es, which is why he needs the pow­er to press charges him­self.

    The Sedg­wick Coun­ty Dis­trict Attorney’s Office, locat­ed in the state’s largest met­ro­pol­i­tan area, said it inves­ti­gat­ed the one case Kobach referred there, but the facts behind it didn’t war­rant pros­e­cu­tion.

    The chief of staff for the Shawnee Coun­ty Attorney’s Office, Lee McGowan, said Kobach nev­er referred a vot­er fraud case to him, even though the case Kobach sent to the Texas attor­ney general’s office involved a Shawnee Coun­ty vot­er.

    “We have 105 coun­ties with 105 coun­ty attor­neys – I don’t know how hav­ing 106 is going to make it any bet­ter,” said Bar­ry Dis­ney, the senior deputy pros­e­cu­tor at the Riley Coun­ty attorney’s office. “I just don’t see the need for it.”

    In addi­tion to giv­ing the state’s top elec­tion office pros­e­cu­to­r­i­al author­i­ty, pro­posed leg­is­la­tion being pushed by Kobach would expand the Kansas attor­ney general’s pow­er to inde­pen­dent­ly pros­e­cute local elec­tion offens­es with­out get­ting coun­ty pros­e­cu­tors’ approval, which cur­rent­ly is required by Kansas law. It also increas­es vot­er fraud penal­ties.

    Pro­po­nents of strong vot­er ID laws say they’re designed to com­bat vot­er fraud. Crit­ics say they’re craft­ed to keep Demo­c­ra­t­ic-lean­ing con­stituen­cies – such as minori­ties and poor peo­ple – away from the polls.

    Stud­ies have shown minor­i­ty and low-income vot­ers are more like­ly to lack a driver’s license and have access to secure hous­ing, lead­ing to more fre­quent changes in address­es and vot­ing precincts.

    Ok, this clar­i­fies things a bit regard­ing why Kris Kobach claimed there was all this vot­er fraud going on but did­n’t actu­al­ly send the cas­es to the US Attor­ney’s office: Kris Kobach decid­ed to send these cas­es to coun­ty pros­e­cu­tors instead. Specif­i­cal­ly, after review 1.7 mil­lion votes cast in 2010 and 2012, Kobach’s office from a whole eigh­teen cas­es of pos­si­ble vot­er fraud. Fif­teen of those eigh­teen cas­es were referred to coun­ty pros­e­cu­tors. And since action was tak­en in only sev­en of those fif­teen cas­es, Kris Kobach now wants the Kansas state laws changed to give him the pow­er to pros­e­cute all these vot­er fraud cas­es all on his own.

    So will Kansas’s leg­is­la­ture grant Kobach his wish and allow an Attor­ney Gen­er­al was a track record of exag­ger­at­ing or lying about the extent of vot­er fraud cas­es act so he can pro­tect the pub­lic from 0.001% vot­er fraud? Yes. Yes they will:

    TPM DC
    Brown­back May Empow­er Kris Kobach To Pros­e­cute ‘Vot­er Fraud’ Cas­es Him­self

    By Daniel Strauss
    Pub­lished June 4, 2015, 6:00 AM EDT

    Kansas Gov. Sam Brown­back ® has five days before he must decide whether to sign a bill expand­ing the pow­er of Sec­re­tary of State Kris Kobach ® to pros­e­cute vot­er fraud cas­es.

    If Brown­back does sign the leg­is­la­tion, which has already passed both cham­bers of the state leg­is­la­ture, Kobach would be giv­en the pow­er to pros­e­cute vot­er fraud cas­es even when, accord­ing to crit­ics, local pros­e­cu­tors had opt­ed against mov­ing for­ward with those cas­es.

    Kobach is a promi­nent fig­ure in con­ser­v­a­tive “vot­er fraud” cir­cles, loud­ly declar­ing that vot­er fraud is ram­pant and push­ing new laws that have the effect of restrict­ing access to vot­ing, espe­cial­ly among vot­ers who tend to favor Democ­rats. Vot­ing experts, on the oth­er hand, point to stud­ies that show vot­er fraud is rel­a­tive­ly rare with neg­li­gi­ble impact on elec­tion out­comes.

    “I very much wor­ry about Kobach get­ting addi­tion­al pros­e­cu­to­r­i­al author­i­ty, as he seems to be some­one who is will­ing to make false or exag­ger­at­ed claims of vot­er fraud to fit his polit­i­cal nar­ra­tive,” elec­tion law expert Rich Hasen told TPM in an email.

    Under cur­rent Kansas law, Kobach must refer cas­es of vot­er fraud to local pros­e­cu­tors. Under the bill sit­ting on Brown­back­’s desk, those pros­e­cu­tors would still han­dle vot­er fraud cas­es but Kobach’s office could move crim­i­nal charges on its own. “The bill also would upgrade penal­ties for sev­er­al vot­ing offens­es to felonies from mis­de­meanors,” accord­ing to the Tope­ka Cap­i­tal-Jour­nal.

    Brown­back­’s office is mum about whether the gov­er­nor will sign the leg­is­la­tion.

    ...

    Kobach has been push­ing for this pros­e­cu­to­r­i­al author­i­ty for a while. In his re-elec­tion cam­paign in 2014 he por­trayed him­self as par­tic­u­lar­ly tough on vot­er fraud. He’s craft­ed some of the strictest vot­er ID laws in the coun­try and led the charge in call­ing for his state to require proof of cit­i­zen­ship in order to reg­is­ter to vote.

    In an inter­view with the Cap­i­tal-Jour­nal in May, after the bill passed by a slim 63–57 vote mar­gin in the Kansas House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives (it need­ed 63 votes to pass), Kobach said his office had iden­ti­fied 100 cas­es of vot­er fraud in the 2014 gen­er­al elec­tion cycle alone.

    The Asso­ci­at­ed Press in Feb­ru­ary not­ed that Kobach has griped about pros­e­cu­tors drag­ging their feet on vot­er fraud cas­es he refers to them. Kobach pre­vi­ous­ly squab­bled with Kansas U.S. Attor­ney Bar­ry Gris­som in 2014 over vot­er fraud cas­es, telling a local tele­vi­sion sta­tion that Gris­som had no idea “what he’s talk­ing about” when the fed­er­al pros­e­cu­tor said the ram­pant vot­er fraud Kobach has warned of does­n’t exist.

    Kobach’s cru­sade against vot­er fraud has been under­whelm­ing. In 2013 he reviewed 84 mil­lion votes in 22 states but only came up with 14 exam­ples of alleged vot­er fraud that were referred for pros­e­cu­tion, or a tiny 0.00000017 per­cent of the 84 mil­lion votes..

    In April TPM also report­ed that the chief data offi­cer for the Repub­li­can Nation­al Com­mit­tee sug­gest­ing that vot­er fraud real­ly only con­sti­tutes “about 1 per­cent” of votes cast.

    So the Kansas leg­is­la­ture (bare­ly) gave Kobach the green light to begin aggres­sive­ly pros­e­cut­ing all the vot­er fraud cas­es he can find. And, inter­est­ing­ly, just last month he claims to have found 100 cas­es of fraud in Kansas alone in 2014, which, if real, would appear to sug­gest a mas­sive increase in the amount of vot­er fraud from pre­vi­ous years giv­en Kobach’s own find­ings of 18 cas­es among 1.7 votes cast in 2010/2012 and only 14 cas­es the 22 mil­lion votes his office review in 2013.

    So once gov­er­nor Brown­back signs this new pow­er into law we’ll pre­sum­ably get to see just what kinds of cas­es trig­ger Kris Kobach’s fraud anten­nae. But since he claimed that those 100 poten­tial cas­es were cas­es of “dou­ble vot­ing”, that pre­sum­ably means he has­n’t start­ed look­ing into oth­er far more seri­ous types of vote fraud. Like this:

    The Asso­ci­at­ed Press

    Wichi­ta State math­e­mati­cian sues Kris Kobach, Sedg­wick Coun­ty elec­tions com­mis­sion­er seek­ing to audit vot­ing machines
    Woman wants to inves­ti­gate machines for vot­er fraud or demo­graph­ic trend

    By Rox­ana Hege­man
    Post­ed: April 1, 2015 — 4:58pm

    WICHITA — A Wichi­ta State Uni­ver­si­ty math­e­mati­cian sued the top Kansas elec­tion offi­cial Wednes­day seek­ing paper tapes from elec­tron­ic vot­ing machines, an effort to explain sta­tis­ti­cal anom­alies favor­ing Repub­li­cans in counts com­ing from large precincts across the coun­try.

    Beth Clark­son, chief sta­tis­ti­cian for the university’s Nation­al Insti­tute for Avi­a­tion Research, filed the open records law­suit in Sedg­wick Coun­ty Dis­trict Court as part of her per­son­al quest to find the answer to an unex­plained pat­tern that tran­scends elec­tions and states. The law­suit was amend­ed Wednes­day to name Sec­re­tary of State Kris Kobach and Sedg­wick Coun­ty Elec­tions Com­mis­sion­er Tabitha Lehman.

    Clark­son, a cer­ti­fied qual­i­ty engi­neer with a Ph.D. in sta­tis­tics, has ana­lyzed elec­tion returns in Kansas and else­where over sev­er­al elec­tions that indi­cate “a sta­tis­ti­cal­ly sig­nif­i­cant” pat­tern where the per­cent­age of Repub­li­can votes increase the larg­er the size of the precinct.

    While it is well-rec­og­nized that small­er, rur­al precincts tend to lean Repub­li­can, sta­tis­ti­cians have been unable to explain the con­sis­tent pat­tern favor­ing the Repub­li­cans that trends upward as the num­ber of votes cast in a precinct or oth­er vot­ing unit goes up. In pri­maries, the favored can­di­date appears to always be the Repub­li­can estab­lish­ment can­di­date, above a tea par­ty chal­lenger. And the upward trend for Repub­li­cans occurs once a vot­ing unit reach­es rough­ly 500 votes.

    “This is not just an anom­aly that occurred in one place,” Clark­son said. “It is a pat­tern that has occurred repeat­ed­ly in elec­tions across the Unit­ed States.”

    The pat­tern could be vot­er fraud or a demo­graph­ic trend that has not been picked up by exten­sive polling, she said.

    “I do not know why this trend is there, but I know that the pat­tern is there and one way to estab­lish that it is or is not elec­tion fraud is to go and do a phys­i­cal audit of paper records of vot­ing machines,” she said.

    Clark­son wants the hard-copies to check the error rate on elec­tron­ic vot­ing machines that were used in a vot­ing sta­tion in Sedg­wick Coun­ty to estab­lish a sta­tis­ti­cal mod­el.

    A spokes­woman for the sec­re­tary of state’s office said in an email that the office has not received a copy of the law­suit and is there­fore unable to com­ment on it. A phone mes­sage left at the Sedg­wick Coun­ty elec­tions office for Lehman was not imme­di­ate­ly returned.

    Clark­son became more inter­est­ed in the issue after read­ing a paper writ­ten by sta­tis­ti­cians Fran­cois Cho­quette and James John­son in 2012 of the Repub­li­can pri­ma­ry results show­ing strong sta­tis­ti­cal evi­dence of elec­tion manip­u­la­tion in Iowa, New Hamp­shire, Ari­zona, Ohio, Okla­homa, Alaba­ma, Louisiana, Wis­con­sin, West Vir­ginia and Ken­tucky.

    Clark­son said she couldn’t believe their find­ings, so she checked their math and found it was cor­rect and checked their mod­el selec­tion and found it appro­pri­ate. And then she pulled addi­tion­al data from oth­er elec­tions they hadn’t ana­lyzes and found the same pat­tern.

    ...

    So will Kobach takes a look into that kind of vot­er fraud once he has no excus­es what­so­ev­er for ignor­ing it? We’ll see...

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | June 4, 2015, 12:12 pm
  3. Check out the results of the DEF CON secu­ri­ty con­fer­ence “Vot­ing Machine Hack­ing Vil­lage”, a con­test to hack the rough­ly 30 dif­fer­ent vot­ing machines over a three day peri­od. It’s the kind of results that should make one ques­tion the results of elec­tions across the US: by the end of the con­test every last vot­ing machine was hacked:

    Giz­mo­do

    Every Vot­ing Machine at This Hack­ing Con­fer­ence Got Total­ly Pwned

    Kate Con­ger
    Mon­day 7/31/2017 12:25pm

    A noisy cheer went up from the crowd of hack­ers clus­tered around the vot­ing machine tucked into the back cor­ner of a casi­no con­fer­ence room—they’d just man­aged to load Rick Astley’s “Nev­er Gonna Give You Up” onto the Win­Vote, effec­tive­ly rick­rolling democ­ra­cy.

    The hack was easy to exe­cute. Two of the hack­ers work­ing on the touch­screen vot­ing machine, who iden­ti­fied only by their first names, Nick and Josh, had man­aged to install Win­dows Media Play­er on the machine and use it to play Astley’s clas­sic-turned-trolling-track.

    The rick­roll stunt was just one hack at the secu­ri­ty con­fer­ence DEF CON, which ran a three-day Vot­ing Machine Hack­ing Vil­lage to test the secu­ri­ty of var­i­ous machines and net­works used in US elec­tions. By the end of the week­end, every one of the rough­ly 30 machines at the vil­lage, includ­ing those used to tab­u­late votes and to check vot­ers in when they go to the polls, had been hacked. Even though sev­er­al of the exploits end­ed up pay­ing trib­ute to Ast­ley, they’re not jokes—they also present a seri­ous les­son about the secu­ri­ty vul­ner­a­bil­i­ties in vot­ing machines that leave them open to tam­per­ing and manip­u­la­tion. And the more vul­ner­a­ble our vot­ing infra­struc­ture is shown to be, the less con­fi­dence vot­ers may feel.

    “The real take­away is that you can install any soft­ware on this,” Nick told Giz­mo­do. “There’s no con­trol.” Nick had sim­ply con­nect­ed a key­board to an exposed USB port at the back of the Win­Vote, which was used in elec­tions as recent­ly as 2014, and was able to install what­ev­er soft­ware he want­ed from there.

    The vot­ing vil­lage is the brain­child of a who’s‑who list of secu­ri­ty experts: DEF CON founder Jeff Moss, cryp­tog­ra­ph­er Matt Blaze, com­put­er pro­gram­mer Har­ri Hursti (whose hack of Diebold vot­ing machines in 2005 bears the name “the Hursti Hack”), and oth­ers. Researchers have been uncov­er­ing prob­lems with vot­ing sys­tems for more than a decade, but the 2016 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion cat­a­pult­ed their work into the nation­al spot­light. Now the entire coun­try, and maybe the world, is pay­ing atten­tion. But poll work­ers and for­mer cam­paign offi­cials say that their pri­ma­ry secu­ri­ty con­cerns still aren’t with vot­ing machines them­selves but with pro­tect­ing vot­er reg­is­tra­tion sys­tems and defend­ing against basic phish­ing attacks like the ones used to gain entry to the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Nation­al Committee’s net­work.

    Meet the machines

    “This is the great Satan,” said Joseph Loren­zo Hall, the chief tech­nol­o­gist at the Cen­ter for Democ­ra­cy & Tech­nol­o­gy, ges­tur­ing dis­mis­sive­ly at the Win­Vote.

    The machine con­tains a cel­lu­lar modem chip that allows its soft­ware to be updat­ed remote­ly. “Unfor­tu­nate­ly, it also means that you can log into the damn thing from across the street if you know the right cre­den­tials,” Hall explained. “What’s hun­dreds of miles between net­worked friends?”

    The Win­Vote was the first machine to fall, with a hack­er achiev­ing remote code exe­cu­tion on the machine with­in the first hours of the vil­lage. Win­Votes were decer­ti­fied by Virginia’s elec­tion board in 2015 because of their secu­ri­ty vul­ner­a­bil­i­ties.

    Amer­i­can vot­ing sys­tems are large­ly cob­bled togeth­er with anti­quat­ed tech­nol­o­gy. Vot­ing machines can vary by state and coun­ty, and have to be cer­ti­fied by the Elec­tion Assis­tance Com­mis­sion. But oth­er devices, like the elec­tron­ic poll books used in some juris­dic­tions to check in vot­ers at their polling sta­tions, aren’t sub­ject to the cer­ti­fi­ca­tion process. Add in the vot­er reg­is­tra­tion data­bas­es themselves—which were report­ed­ly breached in 39 states last year—and you have a con­vo­lut­ed and vul­ner­a­ble sys­tem ripe for attack.

    The machines are most­ly new to the hack­ers at DEF CON. “They’re not very much fun, they’re like very bor­ing ATMs,” Hall joked. It’s obvi­ous that elec­tion sys­tems aren’t very secure, but it’s impor­tant to under­stand why the secu­ri­ty prob­lems exist in the first place, and why they’re so hard to fix.

    The secu­ri­ty indus­try encour­ages reg­u­lar soft­ware updates to patch bugs and keep machines as impen­e­tra­ble as pos­si­ble. But updat­ing the machines used in vot­ing sys­tems isn’t as easy as installing a patch because the machines are sub­ject to strict cer­ti­fi­ca­tion rules.

    Any major soft­ware update would require the state to redo its cer­ti­fi­ca­tion process. “It costs over $1 mil­lion to get cer­ti­fied,” Joshua Franklin, a secu­ri­ty spe­cial­ist with the Nation­al Insti­tute of Stan­dards and Technology’s cyber­se­cu­ri­ty and pri­va­cy appli­ca­tion unit, explained to atten­dees. Franklin said that even though the Elec­tion Assis­tance Commission’s most recent elec­tion secu­ri­ty stan­dards were released in 2015, most state’s machines are only com­pli­ant with stan­dards from 2002 because of the pro­hib­i­tive costs of updates.

    The cost breaks down to about $30-$40 per vot­er, esti­mates Tom Stan­io­n­is, an IT man­ag­er for a coun­ty elec­tion agency in Cal­i­for­nia who attend­ed the vil­lage in his per­son­al capac­i­ty. Most states just don’t have the mon­ey.

    “The real­i­ty is, we’ve known about issues with vot­ing machines for a long time,” Stan­io­n­is told Giz­mo­do. Since pur­chas­ing brand new sys­tems is out of the ques­tion, Stan­io­n­is said most states do their best to pro­tect the sys­tems they have, walling them off from the inter­net and stor­ing them secure­ly when they’re not being used.

    The rat king of decen­tral­ized state ven­dors and machines might actu­al­ly be a good defense dur­ing a gen­er­al election—it would force hack­ers to suc­cess­ful­ly tar­get many dis­parate sys­tems. “It would be real­ly hard in most juris­dic­tions to do any­thing to affect the vot­ing machines,” Stan­io­n­is said.

    Dif­fi­cult doesn’t mean impos­si­ble, though, and that’s what DEF CON’s hack­ers have set out to prove. If a hack­er tucked away in a cor­ner of a Las Vegas casi­no can alter a vote count, then sure­ly a nation-state attack­er can too.

    “The thing you have to ask about any new tech­nol­o­gy is, com­pared with the tech­nol­o­gy that pro­ceed­ed it, does this make that threat eas­i­er or hard­er? Does it make us bet­ter off or worse off?” Blaze told atten­dees. “Does what­ev­er the tech­nol­o­gy we’re using make this threat an eas­i­er threat or a tougher threat? That’s the ques­tion we haven’t real­ly been sharply ask­ing for very long.”

    ...

    ———-

    “Every Vot­ing Machine at This Hack­ing Con­fer­ence Got Total­ly Pwned” by Kate Con­ger; Giz­mo­do; 7/31/2017

    “The rick­roll stunt was just one hack at the secu­ri­ty con­fer­ence DEF CON, which ran a three-day Vot­ing Machine Hack­ing Vil­lage to test the secu­ri­ty of var­i­ous machines and net­works used in US elec­tions. By the end of the week­end, every one of the rough­ly 30 machines at the vil­lage, includ­ing those used to tab­u­late votes and to check vot­ers in when they go to the polls, had been hacked. Even though sev­er­al of the exploits end­ed up pay­ing trib­ute to Ast­ley, they’re not jokes—they also present a seri­ous les­son about the secu­ri­ty vul­ner­a­bil­i­ties in vot­ing machines that leave them open to tam­per­ing and manip­u­la­tion. And the more vul­ner­a­ble our vot­ing infra­struc­ture is shown to be, the less con­fi­dence vot­ers may feel.”

    30 dif­fer­ent machines and every last one was hacked. With­in a few days. And if you hap­pen to think this rep­re­sents a sub­stan­tial risk to the integri­ty of US elec­tions, sur­prise!, the GOP strong­ly dis­agrees, in word and action:

    The Huff­in­g­ton Post

    Repub­li­cans Want To Defund The Com­mis­sion That Fights Vot­ing Machine Hack­ing
    There is absolute­ly no jus­ti­fi­ca­tion for abol­ish­ing the Elec­tion Assis­tance Com­mis­sion.

    Rep. Ste­ny H. Hoy­er, Con­trib­u­tor Demo­c­ra­t­ic Whip in the U.S. House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives & Rep­re­sent­ing the Fifth Dis­trict of Mary­land
    08/02/2017 12:58 pm ET | Updat­ed

    This past week­end, hack­ers gath­ered in Las Vegas with a sim­ple mis­sion: break into America’s elec­tron­ic vot­ing machines and take con­trol. With­in min­utes, some had already suc­ceed­ed – but that’s a good thing. These hack­ers were part of a work­shop held to iden­ti­fy vul­ner­a­bil­i­ties so they can be fixed well before any Amer­i­cans cast actu­al votes next elec­tion. This exer­cise under­scores the very real dan­ger posed by out­dat­ed and inse­cure vot­ing-machine soft­ware – as well as the impor­tant mis­sion our gov­ern­ment must con­tin­ue under­tak­ing to close these vul­ner­a­bil­i­ties and safe­guard our elec­tions.

    How­ev­er, in their FY2018 fund­ing pro­pos­al, Repub­li­cans are going after the small but high­ly suc­cess­ful agency that pro­tects the integri­ty of our vot­ing sys­tems: the Elec­tion Assis­tance Com­mis­sion. In June, House Repub­li­cans includ­ed a pro­vi­sion in their Finan­cial Ser­vices and Gen­er­al Gov­ern­ment Appro­pri­a­tions bill that would abol­ish the Elec­tion Assis­tance Com­mis­sion.

    Many Amer­i­cans may not have heard of the Elec­tion Assis­tance Com­mis­sion, a four-mem­ber bipar­ti­san agency that Con­gress estab­lished in 2002 as part of the Help Amer­i­ca Vote Act, but nonethe­less they ben­e­fit great­ly from its work. Cre­at­ed to address the flaws in our nation’s vot­ing infra­struc­ture, which con­tributed to the dis­pute sur­round­ing the 2000 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion, the Elec­tion Assis­tance Com­mis­sion pro­tects Amer­i­cans’ votes by help­ing to ensure that state and local author­i­ties adopt best prac­tices and uphold the high­est stan­dards of secu­ri­ty for vot­ing tech­nol­o­gy.

    I was proud to be the lead Demo­c­ra­t­ic spon­sor of the bipar­ti­san Help Amer­i­ca Vote Act leg­is­la­tion that estab­lished the Elec­tion Assis­tance Com­mis­sion and charged it with help­ing state and local elec­tion offi­cials ensure free, fair, and safe elec­tions. Today, in a mea­sure of the Elec­tion Assis­tance Commission’s suc­cess, forty-sev­en of the fifty states rely on its vot­ing machine cer­ti­fi­ca­tion process and for mon­i­tor­ing of report­ed issues. The Elec­tion Assis­tance Com­mis­sion is crit­i­cal in facil­i­tat­ing the shar­ing of infor­ma­tion among states with regard to best prac­tices and rapid­ly iden­ti­fy­ing and address­ing flaws.

    ...

    Giv­en these threats and the Elec­tion Assis­tance Commission’s role in pro­tect­ing Amer­i­can vot­ers, abol­ish­ing the Com­mis­sion would be down­right fool­ish. For sev­er­al years, extreme right-wing Mem­bers of the House have been deter­mined to abol­ish the Elec­tion Assis­tance Com­mis­sion, with­out suc­cess, as a strong bipar­ti­san major­i­ty has con­tin­ued to rec­og­nize its ben­e­fits. With the inclu­sion of the dan­ger­ous pro­vi­sion to end the Elec­tion Assis­tance Commission’s work now includ­ed in one of the most impor­tant gov­ern­ment fund­ing bills the House will con­sid­er, it is now up to senior appro­pri­a­tors and the Elec­tion Assis­tance Commission’s bipar­ti­san sup­port­ers to step up and demand the provision’s removal.

    The rea­sons the Elec­tion Assis­tance Commission’s oppo­nents have giv­en for abol­ish­ing the Com­mis­sion have ranged from an insis­tence that it costs tax­pay­ers too much to the claim that it has become a bloat­ed bureau­cra­cy to the con­vic­tion that the Elec­tion Assis­tance Com­mis­sion intrudes on states’ rights. None of these rea­sons hold water. For one, the most Con­gress has ever fund­ed the Elec­tion Assis­tance Com­mis­sion over the course of a year was $10 mil­lion, and that was ear­ly in the agency’s exis­tence when it was focused on ini­tial­ly imple­ment­ing Help Amer­i­ca Vote Act. In recent years, the agency’s annu­al appro­pri­a­tion has rough­ly been $5 mil­lion. Fur­ther­more, at its peak, the Elec­tion Assis­tance Com­mis­sion employed just 60 indi­vid­u­als; near­ly all of those work­ing at the Com­mis­sion are experts in the field of elec­tion law and vot­ing tech­nol­o­gy. With regard to the ques­tion of its impact on states’ rights, the Elec­tion Assis­tance Com­mis­sion has vir­tu­al­ly no rule-mak­ing author­i­ty and, there­fore, has prac­ti­cal­ly no author­i­ty over how state and local elec­tion offi­cials car­ry out their elec­tions.

    There is absolute­ly no jus­ti­fi­ca­tion for abol­ish­ing the Elec­tion Assis­tance Com­mis­sion. Even the Trump admin­is­tra­tion includ­ed $9.2 mil­lion in fund­ing for the Com­mis­sion in its FY2018 bud­get pro­pos­al. While it’s very dis­ap­point­ing to see this pro­vi­sion abol­ish­ing the Elec­tion Assis­tance Com­mis­sion includ­ed in the ini­tial ver­sion of House Repub­li­cans’ fund­ing bill, there is still ample oppor­tu­ni­ty to cor­rect this error. That’s why I’m call­ing on all those from both par­ties who vot­ed for Help Amer­i­ca Vote Act in 2002 and who have sup­port­ed strength­en­ing our elec­tion sys­tems in the years since to do every­thing in our pow­er to have that pro­vi­sion removed and to enable the Elec­tion Assis­tance Com­mis­sion to con­tin­ue its crit­i­cal work.

    ...

    ———-

    ———-

    “Repub­li­cans Want To Defund The Com­mis­sion That Fights Vot­ing Machine Hack­ing” by Rep. Ste­ny H. Hoy­er; The Huff­in­g­ton Post; 08/02/2017

    “How­ev­er, in their FY2018 fund­ing pro­pos­al, Repub­li­cans are going after the small but high­ly suc­cess­ful agency that pro­tects the integri­ty of our vot­ing sys­tems: the Elec­tion Assis­tance Com­mis­sion. In June, House Repub­li­cans includ­ed a pro­vi­sion in their Finan­cial Ser­vices and Gen­er­al Gov­ern­ment Appro­pri­a­tions bill that would abol­ish the Elec­tion Assis­tance Com­mis­sion.

    And what was the GOP’s excuse for gut­ting the fund­ing of the fed­er­al agency tasked with try­ing to actu­al­ly address these issues? They says this under­fund­ed and under­staffed agency that has no rule-mak­ing author­i­ty is a waste of mon­ey, part of a bloat­ed bureau­cra­cy, and a vio­la­tion of states-rights:

    ...
    The rea­sons the Elec­tion Assis­tance Commission’s oppo­nents have giv­en for abol­ish­ing the Com­mis­sion have ranged from an insis­tence that it costs tax­pay­ers too much to the claim that it has become a bloat­ed bureau­cra­cy to the con­vic­tion that the Elec­tion Assis­tance Com­mis­sion intrudes on states’ rights. None of these rea­sons hold water. For one, the most Con­gress has ever fund­ed the Elec­tion Assis­tance Com­mis­sion over the course of a year was $10 mil­lion, and that was ear­ly in the agency’s exis­tence when it was focused on ini­tial­ly imple­ment­ing Help Amer­i­ca Vote Act. In recent years, the agency’s annu­al appro­pri­a­tion has rough­ly been $5 mil­lion. Fur­ther­more, at its peak, the Elec­tion Assis­tance Com­mis­sion employed just 60 indi­vid­u­als; near­ly all of those work­ing at the Com­mis­sion are experts in the field of elec­tion law and vot­ing tech­nol­o­gy. With regard to the ques­tion of its impact on states’ rights, the Elec­tion Assis­tance Com­mis­sion has vir­tu­al­ly no rule-mak­ing author­i­ty and, there­fore, has prac­ti­cal­ly no author­i­ty over how state and local elec­tion offi­cials car­ry out their elec­tions.
    ...

    So for every­one in the US, wel­come to Vot­ing Machine Hack­ing Vil­lage! It’s where you live. And have been liv­ing for a while, so the wel­comes aren’t real­ly nec­es­sary. Regard­less, wel­come home!

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | August 2, 2017, 1:28 pm
  4. Here’s an exam­ple of how the US polit­i­cal sys­tem remains wild­ly vul­ner­a­ble to bad faith actors and exceed­ing­ly sim­ple dis­in­for­ma­tion cam­paigns. In this case it appears to be a dis­in­for­ma­tion cam­paign start­ed by a sin­gle anony­mous snarky tweet that end­ed up get­ting ampli­fied by a twit­ter-bot net­work and result­ed in the wide­spread asser­tions by Repub­li­cans that last week’s elec­tion in Ken­tucky was some­how rigged: for­mer Ken­tucky gov­er­nor Matt Bevin final­ly con­ced­ed defeat today in last week’s elec­tion to Demo­c­rat Matt Beshear. The rea­son for the delay in admit­ting defeat was Bev­in’s request for a recount. The fact that a recount was request­ed isn’t con­tro­ver­sial but the rea­son for that request turns out to be a per­fect exam­ple of how bad faith accep­tance of low qual­i­ty dis­in­for­ma­tion is now the norm for Repub­li­can pol­i­tics and rep­re­sents a real threat to democ­ra­cy by casu­al­ly lead­ing to the valid­i­ty of elec­tion results. Short­ly after it became clear Bevin was going to lose, a flood of alle­ga­tions about “irreg­u­lar­i­ties” in the elec­tion flood twit­ter mak­ing alle­ga­tions like thou­sands of absen­tee bal­lots being ille­gal­ly count­ed. There was no actu­al basis for the claims and one of the most wide­ly cit­ed claim came from a sin­gle tweet by a user @Overlordkraken1 who tweet­ed out, “just shred­ded a box of Repub­li­can mail in bal­lots,” adding “Bye bye Bevin.” The tweet list­ed the user’s loca­tion as Louisville, but with Louisville mis­spelled. Bot net­works imme­di­ate­ly pounced on these evi­dence-free claims and soon a right-wing meme born:

    Louisville Couri­er Jour­nal

    Thou­sands of Twit­ter ‘bots’ tar­get­ed Ken­tucky with fake news on elec­tion night

    Joe Son­ka
    Pub­lished 1:35 p.m. ET Nov. 11, 2019

    LOUISVILLE — As the final votes trick­led in dur­ing last week’s Ken­tucky guber­na­to­r­i­al elec­tion, a net­work of auto­mat­ed Twit­ter accounts sud­den­ly sprang into action.

    They spread mis­in­for­ma­tion about the elec­tion being rigged, accord­ing to the CEO of a com­pa­ny that tracks polit­i­cal mis­in­for­ma­tion on social media.

    Gideon Blocq, the founder and CEO of Vine­Sight, told The Couri­er Jour­nal his com­pa­ny wit­nessed thou­sands of accounts with “bot-like” auto­mat­ed behav­ior spread­ing mis­in­for­ma­tion about the race, includ­ing a screen­shot of a tweet by one account claim­ing to have destroyed bal­lots with votes for incum­bent Repub­li­can Gov. Matt Bevin.

    “Imme­di­ate­ly at the end of the count­ing of the votes, these sto­ries start­ed pop­ping up in par­al­lel, all about the elec­tion being rigged,” Block said.

    One of the tweets spread­ing the fur­thest came from user @Overlordkraken1, which tweet­ed at 8:39 p.m. he had “just shred­ded a box of Repub­li­can mail in bal­lots,” adding “Bye bye Bevin.” The tweet list­ed the user’s loca­tion as Louisville, though it mis­spelled the word.

    Bevin would end up los­ing to Demo­c­ra­t­ic Andy Beshear by 5,189 votes, though the gov­er­nor told sup­port­ers at 10 p.m. Tues­day that he would not con­cede the race, sight­ing unspec­i­fied vot­ing “irreg­u­lar­i­ties.”

    The next day, Bevin request­ed an offi­cial recan­vass of the vote, alleg­ing wide­spread fraud and “thou­sands of absen­tee bal­lots that were ille­gal­ly count­ed.” In a Couri­er Jour­nal fact check of Bev­in’s claims, local elec­tions offi­cials refer to the alle­ga­tions as “ridicu­lous” and “flat­ly not true.”

    The gov­er­nor has not pro­vid­ed any proof for such claims, and spokesper­sons for his office and cam­paign have not respond­ed to ques­tions ask­ing if this tweet plays into Bev­in’s alle­ga­tions.

    After being retweet­ed at least 91 times, the account was sus­pend­ed — though Blocq said a screen­shot of the tweet was then post­ed Tues­day night and “we saw huge bot net­works just push­ing it around.”

    While the sus­pend­ed account was like­ly a real per­son just “trolling” with the shred­ding tweet, Blocq said “thou­sands” of bot accounts spread the screen­shot in par­al­lel with oth­er tweets alleg­ing that the elec­tion was rigged, show­ing “this is not a small oper­a­tion... it is not just one per­son doing this.”

    By ear­ly Wednes­day, some­one cre­at­ed a meme sug­gest­ing thou­sands of votes for Bevin were not count­ed because every oth­er Repub­li­can can­di­date on the bal­lot did so well. That also spread rapid­ly among social media. For exam­ple, one Twit­ter account with more than 117,000 fol­low­ers tweet­ed the meme along with the word “rigged!” which was retweet­ed more than 1,000 times over the next day, most­ly by bot accounts.

    ...

    While the influ­ence of Krem­lin-backed groups to spread mis­in­for­ma­tion in the 2016 pres­i­den­tial cam­paign is well doc­u­ment­ed, Blocq said he could not deter­mine the ori­gin of the bot net­work push­ing tweets about the Ken­tucky race, as he can only see pub­licly-avail­able data. How­ev­er, he said that those work­ing at Twit­ter would have more answers about the loca­tion of the bots.

    Twit­ter told The New York Times this week­end that the spread of mis­in­for­ma­tion regard­ing the Ken­tucky race for gov­er­nor large­ly appeared to orig­i­nate in the Unit­ed States.

    The Depart­ment of Home­land Secu­ri­ty tracks for­eign inter­fer­ence in U.S. elec­tions that exploits divi­sions through the spread of mis­in­for­ma­tion on social net­works.

    Bev­in’s request­ed recan­vass will take place on Thurs­day, with vot­ing offi­cials in each coun­ty check­ing to make sure they trans­mit­ted the cor­rect num­bers to the sec­re­tary of state.

    Repub­li­can state leg­is­la­tors have expressed skep­ti­cism that the recan­vass will sig­nif­i­cant­ly change the offi­cial vote totals and warned against Bevin cre­at­ing a “fish­ing expe­di­tion” by con­test­ing the elec­tion in the leg­is­la­ture if that is the case.

    Some leg­is­la­tors have also urged the gov­er­nor to present evi­dence of fraud or vot­ing irreg­u­lar­i­ties to the pub­lic if he has any, say­ing mak­ing such claims with­out any proof under­mines faith in the demo­c­ra­t­ic sys­tem.

    “Any attempt by Gov. Bevin to under­mine these results in the leg­is­la­ture is wrong and should be viewed as a direct attack on the demo­c­ra­t­ic process.” state Sen. Mor­gan McGar­vey, D‑Louisville, said. “Once the recan­vass is com­plete, the Gen­er­al Assem­bly must accept the out­come of this elec­tion and help Gov.-elect Beshear pre­pare for the 2020 bud­get.

    ———-

    “Thou­sands of Twit­ter ‘bots’ tar­get­ed Ken­tucky with fake news on elec­tion night” by Joe Son­ka; Louisville Couri­er Jour­nal; 11/11/2019

    “While the sus­pend­ed account was like­ly a real per­son just “trolling” with the shred­ding tweet, Blocq said “thou­sands” of bot accounts spread the screen­shot in par­al­lel with oth­er tweets alleg­ing that the elec­tion was rigged, show­ing “this is not a small oper­a­tion... it is not just one per­son doing this.”

    A sin­gle troll tweet gets picked up by a bot net­work and all of a sud­den that joke tweet gets treat­ed as real, despite the fact that none of the peo­ple who end­ed up refer­ring to these memes had any proof what­so­ev­er. Includ­ing Bev­in’s cam­paign, which relied on these vague alle­ga­tions for his recount demand but remained silent when asked for evi­dence.

    And while Bev­in’s cam­paign has now final­ly con­ced­ed the race, it’s not like the meme that the elec­tion was some­how stolen by the Democ­rats is going to just go away. Espe­cial­ly since, in the days fol­low­ing the elec­tion, Bevin went around talk­ing about how he did­n’t want to win a “dirty elec­tion” and sug­gest­ing that it was­n’t legit­i­mate:

    WDRB

    Gov. Matt Bevin cites pos­si­ble vot­ing fraud and ‘irreg­u­lar­i­ties’ as grounds for elec­tion recan­vass

    Nov 12, 2019 Updat­ed Nov 12, 2019

    LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) — Ken­tucky Gov. Matt Bevin said this week that he would not want to win a “dirty elec­tion,” and restat­ed his con­cerns about the poten­tial ille­git­i­ma­cy of Ken­tuck­y’s guber­na­to­r­i­al elec­tion.

    “I will tell you this, I would rather lose a clean elec­tion than to win a dirty elec­tion and I’ll be darned if I want to lose a dirty elec­tion. So to that end, let’s just make sure it’s legit,” he said.

    Bevin made the remarks Sun­day at the Young Amer­i­ca’s Foun­da­tion Fall Col­lege Retreat in Cal­i­for­nia.

    Bevin, a Repub­li­can and first-term gov­er­nor, lost the Nov. 5 elec­tion to Demo­c­ra­t­ic chal­lenger Andy Beshear, the state’s attor­ney gen­er­al and son of Bev­in’s pre­de­ces­sor, Steve Beshear.

    The younger Beshear got about 5,000 more votes than Bevin, but that was just a frac­tion of 1% of all votes cast. Bevin has not con­ced­ed, and instead has asked for a recan­vass, which is set for Thurs­day. Board of Elec­tion offi­cials will look at each vot­ing machine to make sure all vote totals were added cor­rect­ly.

    Bevin also has cit­ed “irreg­u­lar­i­ties” as a rea­son for not con­ced­ing, draw­ing sharp crit­i­cism from some state leg­is­la­tors, who have asked the gov­er­nor to pro­vide evi­dence for his claims. So far, Bevin has declined.

    ———-

    “Gov. Matt Bevin cites pos­si­ble vot­ing fraud and ‘irreg­u­lar­i­ties’ as grounds for elec­tion recan­vass”; WDRB; 11/12/2019

    ““I will tell you this, I would rather lose a clean elec­tion than to win a dirty elec­tion and I’ll be darned if I want to lose a dirty elec­tion. So to that end, let’s just make sure it’s legit,” he said.”

    He does­n’t want to “win dirty”. But he sure has no prob­lem los­ing dirty. That’s exact­ly what this his: the Repub­li­cans using a twit­ter-bot meme cam­paign to paint the incom­ing Demo­c­ra­t­ic admin­is­tra­tion as ille­git­i­mate and “dirty”. And they clear­ly know this is dirty because they clear­ly know there’s no actu­al evi­dence. Oth­er­wise they would point to it.

    And note that this isn’t just Bev­in’s cam­paign oppor­tunis­ti­cal­ly using these twit­ter memes. Just yes­ter­day, a new­ly formed group call­ing itself Cit­i­zens for Elec­tion Integri­ty held a news con­fer­ence call­ing for an inves­ti­ga­tion into the “irreg­u­lar­i­ties”. Bevin him­self tweet­ed in sup­port of the group, say­ing “For those inter­est­ed in the integri­ty of the elec­tion process in Ken­tucky and in Amer­i­ca (which should be ALL of us), this looks like an event worth attend­ing...” The group claims to just be self-described “moms”, but it turns out the group’s exec­u­tive direc­tor, Eri­ka Cal­i­han, was appoint­ed by Bevin to the Judi­cial Nom­i­nat­ing Com­mis­sion for the Ken­tucky Court of Appeals and Supreme Court in Jan­u­ary. One of the group’s claims is that the elec­tion was hacked but they pro­vid­ed no cred­i­ble evi­dence:

    Lex­ing­ton Her­ald Leader

    Group’s claims of irreg­u­lar­i­ties in Ken­tucky gov­er­nor elec­tion quick­ly debunked

    BY DANIEL DESROCHERS
    NOVEMBER 13, 2019 04:16 PM

    FRANKFORT
    A small group of self-described “moms” held a news con­fer­ence in the Ken­tucky Capi­tol Wednes­day after­noon to make claims of irreg­u­lar­i­ties in last week’s guber­na­to­r­i­al elec­tion, all of which were almost imme­di­ate­ly proven inac­cu­rate or irrel­e­vant.

    The group, which called itself the Cit­i­zens for Elec­tion Integri­ty, demand­ed that the State Board of Elec­tions release vot­er logs and data per­tain­ing to the elec­tion even though its claims were shown to be unfound­ed.

    ...

    On Wednes­day, Bevin lent the group cred­i­bil­i­ty on Twit­ter. “For those inter­est­ed in the integri­ty of the elec­tion process in Ken­tucky and in Amer­i­ca (which should be ALL of us), this looks like an event worth attend­ing...” he wrote. “I will plan to be in atten­dance at 2:00pm today in Frank­fort as my sched­ule allows...”

    He did not attend.

    The group is new­ly cre­at­ed, has no web­site and only cre­at­ed a Face­book page Mon­day. Its exec­u­tive direc­tor, Eri­ka Cal­i­han, sup­port­ed Bevin’s cam­paign and was appoint­ed by Bevin to the Judi­cial Nom­i­nat­ing Com­mis­sion for the Ken­tucky Court of Appeals and Supreme Court in Jan­u­ary.

    “Ken­tuck­ians do not deserve spec­u­la­tion for what has hap­pened,” Cal­i­han said. “Ken­tuck­ians deserve answers.”

    She then pro­ceed­ed to spec­u­late that Kentucky’s elec­tion had been hacked with­out pro­vid­ing any cred­i­ble evi­dence. She claimed the state’s elec­tion sys­tem was vul­ner­a­ble to attack because the state uses an online sys­tem to present unof­fi­cial elec­tion results to the pub­lic on elec­tion night.

    When pressed to present evi­dence that sup­port­ed its claims, the group called for an inves­ti­ga­tion.

    “We’re just moms,” Cal­i­han said. “Why are we doing this, we don’t want to be doing this. I’d rather be relax­ing with my kids, but here I am. We want the attor­ney gen­er­al to inves­ti­gate that.”

    The Office of the Attor­ney Gen­er­al said that by law it can­not pro­vide details about spe­cif­ic com­plaints or pend­ing elec­tions.

    “The nature of the calls dur­ing this cycle were typ­i­cal of the calls received in pre­vi­ous cycles,” said deputy Attor­ney Gen­er­al J. Michael Brown. “The most com­mon ques­tions received through the hot­line were pro­ce­dur­al or gen­er­al legal ques­tions.”

    Fayette Coun­ty Clerk Don Blevins said coun­ties keep vote totals on com­put­ers that are not con­nect­ed to the inter­net and that none of the vot­ing machines are con­nect­ed to the inter­net.

    “I’d like to point out that the web­site used for returns on elec­tion night is for pub­lic infor­ma­tion only and is not used to report elec­tion results,” Blevins said.

    The group high­light­ed four exam­ples of sup­posed vot­er fraud. The first was that of a col­lege stu­dent named Jacob Burd, whose fam­i­ly alleges that some­one vot­ed in his name in Jef­fer­son Coun­ty on Elec­tion Day. The group showed a video of Burd say­ing he was in Tam­pa that day and did not vote.

    The Jef­fer­son Coun­ty Board of Elec­tions said there are two Jacob Burds that vote at the same polling loca­tion, but are in dif­fer­ent precincts. One is 19 and the oth­er is not. The clerk’s office said it appeared the old­er Jacob Burd signed in the younger Jacob Burd’s place and the infor­ma­tion has been report­ed to the attor­ney general’s office.

    The group then high­light­ed the state’s unof­fi­cial vote totals in two coun­ties — Menifee and Ander­son — to ques­tion the integri­ty of the elec­tion.

    In Ander­son Coun­ty, elec­tion results pre­sent­ed on the county’s web­site did not match results on the State Board of Elec­tions web­site. Ander­son Coun­ty Clerk Jason Den­ny explained that the coun­ty acci­den­tal­ly failed to include absen­tee bal­lot totals in the num­bers sent to the state on elec­tion night.

    How­ev­er, the county’s offi­cial elec­tion results reflect the absen­tee bal­lots and every vote was count­ed, Den­ny said.

    “It looks like there was a dis­crep­an­cy,” Den­ny said. “It wasn’t.”

    The State Board of Elec­tions posts unof­fi­cial results on its web­site to inform the press and pub­lic about the elec­tion in a time­ly man­ner, but the board doesn’t cer­ti­fy the elec­tion based on the results dis­played on its web­site. Instead, each coun­ty sends a sep­a­rate form, signed by a Demo­c­rat, a Repub­li­can, the Coun­ty Clerk and the sher­iff, that cer­ti­fies the county’s offi­cial elec­tion results. Those results are then put into a report that is approved by the State Board of Elec­tions.

    The State Board of Elec­tions web­site also dis­played a dis­crep­an­cy in Menifee Coun­ty results. The web­site showed there were more votes cast in all six statewide elec­tions than total bal­lots cast. Menifee Coun­ty Clerk Krys­tal Chap­man said the dis­crep­an­cy was caused by the fact that the num­ber of total bal­lots cast did not include absen­tee bal­lots on the web­site.

    The group also cit­ed screen­shots of CNN on elec­tion night as evi­dence that elec­tion results were hacked. About 500 votes shift­ed from Bevin to Beshear on the two screen­shots.

    The group did not explain why this infor­ma­tion was rel­e­vant, since Ken­tucky elec­tion offi­cials do not use the num­bers dis­played on CNN when tal­ly­ing elec­tion results.

    ———-

    “Group’s claims of irreg­u­lar­i­ties in Ken­tucky gov­er­nor elec­tion quick­ly debunked” by DANIEL DESROCHERS; Lex­ing­ton Her­ald Leader; 11/13/2019

    “The group is new­ly cre­at­ed, has no web­site and only cre­at­ed a Face­book page Mon­day. Its exec­u­tive direc­tor, Eri­ka Cal­i­han, sup­port­ed Bevin’s cam­paign and was appoint­ed by Bevin to the Judi­cial Nom­i­nat­ing Com­mis­sion for the Ken­tucky Court of Appeals and Supreme Court in Jan­u­ary.

    The new­ly form group of “moms” assert­ing the elec­tion was hacked just hap­pens to have an exec­u­tive direc­tor who was a Bevin polit­i­cal appointee this year. What a coin­ci­dence. But they assure us they’re just con­cerned moms:

    ...
    “We’re just moms,” Cal­i­han said. “Why are we doing this, we don’t want to be doing this. I’d rather be relax­ing with my kids, but here I am. We want the attor­ney gen­er­al to inves­ti­gate that.”
    ...

    And as with Bevin, when asked for evi­dence of their claims, they pro­vide the flim­sy exam­ples and call for an inves­ti­ga­tion. In oth­er words, they know they are mak­ing base­less claims:

    ...

    She then pro­ceed­ed to spec­u­late that Kentucky’s elec­tion had been hacked with­out pro­vid­ing any cred­i­ble evi­dence. She claimed the state’s elec­tion sys­tem was vul­ner­a­ble to attack because the state uses an online sys­tem to present unof­fi­cial elec­tion results to the pub­lic on elec­tion night.

    When pressed to present evi­dence that sup­port­ed its claims, the group called for an inves­ti­ga­tion.

    ...

    The group also cit­ed screen­shots of CNN on elec­tion night as evi­dence that elec­tion results were hacked. About 500 votes shift­ed from Bevin to Beshear on the two screen­shots.

    The group did not explain why this infor­ma­tion was rel­e­vant, since Ken­tucky elec­tion offi­cials do not use the num­bers dis­played on CNN when tal­ly­ing elec­tion results.
    ...

    But hey, at least we final­ly found a way to make the GOP take the real threat of hack­ing elec­tron­ic vot­ing machines seri­ous­ly. Of course, mak­ing base­less claims isn’t real­ly tak­ing this seri­ous­ly and, if any­thing, will dam­age the cred­i­bil­i­ty of future legit­i­mate con­cerns about elec­tion hack­ing. But it’s progress. Sort of.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | November 14, 2019, 5:06 pm

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