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Message from concerned Diebold voter

I had to drive the kiddo to school this morning, so I decided to whip into the Harrington Library parking lot to get my vote on. I went in, gave my voter card and then went to the Diebold machine to vote for liquor in Richardson and a straight Libertarian Party ticket. This was the first time I ever voted straight ticket, but I know the candidates in my area and thought it a good decision. Everything seemed to go OK and I left happy.

Tonight I received an email from M.B. Blankenship, a not so happy voter. (Actually, Wes Benedict forwarded the message.)

To: director@lptexas.org

I voted early October 23, 2006 at my Precinct 74 that is in Dallas, but tied to Collin County. This was not the first time I voted on a computer so my experience can not be blamed on insecurity of what I was doing.

I am a independent voter who has never voted for a party, but for the individuals who run for office.

The beginning of the ballot was concerning a bond issue for Dallas with many items that filled the screen. I voted all those and moved on to the votes for individual candidates for state office.

I DID NOT VOTE FOR ANY REPUBLICANS. I was very careful about my choices and watched as each X was placed in the correct box.

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ROFL of the Day: Diebold as Secure as a Wells-Fargo Truck

DieboldMan.jpgDon’t click the picture unless you wish to see Diebold Sales Rep ‘Buck’ Jones demonstrating a Touch-Screen Voting Machine as the Mississippi Secretary of State declares it “The Most Secure Thing Outside of a Wells-Fargo Truck!” From BradBlog:

Not long after Jones says to the camera: “I’m not gonna see it on the Internet or anything like that, right?”, Mississippi Secretary of State, Eric Clark declares incredibly: “I think this is the best machine that’s available in the country. That’s what I think. And that’s based on a lot of folks who have studied it. And I think it was already secure without the voter-verifiable paper trail. But I think it is so secure now, it is the most secure thing outside of a Wells-Fargo truck!”

Diebold: Voting for AmeriKa so you don’t have to.

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Diebold Investigated for Manipulating Data (and These aren’t even Election Related)

If you can’t trust the company which brings us our election results, then who can you trust? If someone were to survey on the issue, I’d expect that Diebold would poll lower than ousted HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy or even George W. Bush. Now I’m guessing Diebold’s favorability factor (and stock prices) will plummet considerably lower. From The Brad Blog:

The investigation of Diebold by the SEC, which we had heard previously about through background sources over the past several months, comes on the heels of a class action Securities Fraud litigation suit, originally reported exclusively by The BRAD BLOG just before it was filed last December.

That suit came on the heels of a growing number of reports on the reliability and vulnerability of Diebold’s electronic voting machines and concerns about their larger ATM division.

Last September, just days after we reported on an anonymous Diebold insider, nicknamed “DIEB-THROAT”, who pointed us to a Dept. of Homeland Security “Cyber Security Alert” about vulnerabilities in Diebold’s election software, the company’s stock-prices plummeted more than 15%.

While the stock price has remained lower than the nearly all-time highs it had been at just prior to the sudden drop, the price per share has been slowing inching back up over the last several months since the resignation of former CEO Walden O’Dell who was apparently pushed out just prior to the filing of the Securities Fraud suit which complained of insider trading, stock price manipulation and other malfeasance by eight current and former top Diebold executives.

At least former Diebold stock owner Kenneth Blackwell won’t be investigating this case.

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Diebold and Ohio: Nothing Ever Changes

DieboldOhioCompany.jpgWhile Ohio faces continued problems with their voting machines, one thing is becoming readily apparant: One man, one vote is no longer considered the standard. The AP is reporting a host of new problems with Ohio’s voting system after Tuesday’s primary election:

Election officials had trouble printing ballot receipts, finding lost votes and tabulating election results in Tuesday’s primary. Some election workers were late or did not show up at all in Cleveland’s Cuyahoga County, the state’s largest. Others could not figure out how to turn on the machines.

“Ohio’s quickly getting this reputation as most corrupt and maybe most incompetent,” said Chris Link, executive director of the
American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio, which fielded dozens of complaints from voters.

Being the one who advised Michael Badnarik to take Ohio to court after the 2004 elections, I’ve been following that state’s response in cleaning up their system. The one thing which is becoming quite clear over time is that the standard for determining if an election result is valid deals with statisitics and no longer relies on the age-old tradition of one man, one vote. Here’s an example:

Glitches were reported across the state, and a few local races remained undecided Wednesday while counting continued. The number of outstanding votes was too small to affect races for governor, Congress and statewide offices.

Columbus attorney Cliff Arnebeck, who handles voting-rights cases, said many of the problems were expected. “You could see in the absence of adequate training, people could just screw up,” he said.

And another:

Cuyahoga County was searching for memory cards holding votes from 74 polling locations. Spokeswoman Jane Platten said the cards might have been left in machines, but she would not discuss details, citing security concerns. The county had reported results from about 98 percent of precincts by Wednesday night.

And another:

Link, of the American Civil Liberties Union, said the problems went far beyond minor snags that could be expected, including complaints that voters were sent away by poll workers who were perplexed by the machines. In those cases, voters should have been offered paper ballots.

And another:

Workers failed to open one polling place until 1:30 p.m. Robert Bennett, the state GOP chairman and head of the Cuyahoga Elections Board, said they might have been criminally negligent and referred the case to prosecutors.

And another:

“We’ve had poll workers with the old system who after 10 years still made mistakes,” Damschroder said. “It’s going to be a learning curve no matter what we do.”

See how they excuse themselves from being 100% accurate:

In North Carolina, the state’s election chief also reported a good experience. Gary Bartlett said the machines arrived in February, giving officials two months to test the systems and instruct poll workers. Only minor problems arose in the primary.

“For a first-time rollout, we’ve got to be pleased,” Bartlett said.

Since when is “only minor problems” considered a good experience? The only “good experience” can be the vote of every citizen being properly counted.

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Kucinich loses seat in redistricting ploy, “Joe The Plumber” narrowly wins GOP primary

He keeps a tiny copy of the consitution in his pocket, and if you look in the constitution's pocket there's an even tinier Kucinich.

I have to feel a teensiest bit sorry for Ohio congressman Dennis Kucinich today. He’s spent the last few months watching his support crumble as a redrawing of the districts map pushed him (and me) into what is now called the 9th district. His re-election fate now stretched from the west bank of the Cuyahoga river to the East side of Toledo. An eighty mile long strip of gorgeous gerrymandering along the shore of Lake Erie.

80+ miles from end to end.. the more you know ===

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Hacking our elections with big money and power… The formula for modern elections is simple: Candidates must have significant sums of money to compete in primaries. That means anyone absent real money is left out. More importantly, those with the most money have the biggest advantage. Combining money with favorable media is generally a sure winner.
FLASHBACK: “Hotel minibar” keys open Diebold voting machines…
WHO TO TRUST: Open Source Digital Voting Foundation…

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LP’s New “Get Out The Vote” Tool

BallotBase.org screenshotThere had been talk of it for a while, and it’s good to see that the LP is finally taking some strategic cues from the DNC and GOP and has created a shared voter database — BallotBase.org — that any campaign should easily tap into with very little effort and has successfully tested it in the wild with great beta results:

The Ballot Base had already received some attention before it was officially launched. A test run of the new political tool was performed in California’s 50th Congressional District, where Libertarian Paul King was running for the seat vacated by Duke Cunningham. King was opposed by Republican Brian Bilbray and Democrat Francine Busby. The LP’s new Ballot Base helped the Libertarian candidate to more than triple his number of votes.

Because of the disparity between his primary and his special election vote totals, a writer at the Web site Democratic Underground noted that something seemed amiss. The popular site Huffington Post ran an article suggesting a Diebold conspiracy was the reason that King received significantly more votes than Libertarian candidates in neighboring districts. In reality, it was Ballot Base.

If we’ve got tools powerful enough to get the opposition crying foul about conspiracy theories, we’re doing something right.

Austin Cassidy also covered this yesterday on Third Party Watch, but I just want to reiterate/clarify a comment I made over there:

This is one of those tools that may be ugly as sin, but will end up making the LP a contender in many races. Most casual observers don’t realize how important current databases of voter rolls, but believe me, the GOP and DNC are more than equiped in this arena (ever wonder why you get a crapload of mail right before an election? this is why).

It’ll be interesting to see how the sharing works and if state parties will actually jump into this (I have a race here in OH that I’d like to use this for, but LPO will have to buy the data from the SOS first).

I do stand by saying it’s ugly as sin… hopefully someone with design skills will send them a mockup of a better version to pique their interest. If the process for tapping in is as simple as signing up then this should be a boon for campaigns, but I’m hoping it doesn’t require state parties to commit a lot of extra money buying voter rolls, because I can imagine quite a few will balk at it simply out of resistance to anything new that requires effort.

Regardless, if you’ve ever wondered how you can help campaigns in your area, one way would be to go ahead and sign up (well, if you can… it appears that functionality is totally borked, at least for Firefox users).

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And They Call Libertarians Conspiracy Theorists?

croppedlpconvention.JPGYou’ve probably never heard me say anything positive about Diebold before. To be sure, I’m the one who advised Michael Badnarik to pursue recount efforts and related lawsuits in Ohio over the 2004 presidential elections. The Libertarian Party is running a candidate against Ken Blackwell, as well. With this background in place, I’ll tell you about the fun we had with this one at the office today.

Over at Democratic Underground, they are asking:

In the special election PAUL KING got 2201 votes, but King a libertarian, in his own Primary only got: 536 votes. Where did the 1665 votes come from?

Paul King is the LP candidate who recently ran against Republican Brian Bilbray and Democrat Francine Busby in the CA-50 special election for Duke Cunningham’s recently vacated seat. What they spent is a lot of time researching why King’s vote total bumped way up as compared to his primary returns and why it wasn’t consistent with Libertarian candidates in neighboring districts.

At Huffington Post, they seem to think Diebold is involved:

The CA-50 special election came up and here’s where everyone fell short. Here was an opportunity for Markos to bring up the highly dubious Diebold machines used in t’t he election and how election volunteers were allowed to bring the machines home. In addition, where was the mention that, with Bilbray’s margin of victory at round 6,000 votes, there are still, according to the San Diego County Registrar of Voters, more than 34,000 absentee and provisional ballots that haven’t been counted yet? Why did Busby concede knowing this? Why did Libertarian candidate Paul King receive roughly 500 more votes (2201 votes so far) than any other Libertarian running (around 1700 each) in Tuesday’s vote? Even if the additional ballots are counted and Bilbray still wins, there are some puzzling questions that need answers.

Guess what, guys. It’s the new super top secret GOTV tool the Libertarian Party will be implementing soon. All of the details won’t be announced until the LP Convention, but here’s the teaser we put out (since everyone gave us such a sweet opening for it) today:

Technology’s hand was at work, but it wasn’t Diebold deviousness. Rather, it was a successful trial run of a new LP GOTV (Get Out the Vote) project and the hard work of a handful of dedicated Libertarians who volunteered their time.

Developed by LPHQ and one great consultant, this new tool allows Libertarian volunteers to help boost LP vote totals, including gaining and maintaining ballot status. .

Stay tuned for more. This project is set to be officially unveiled at this year’s Libertarian Party National Convention over July Fourth Weekend.

I’d suggest we could all remove our tin foil hats if I hadn’t found out about some mystery lettering (illustrated above) at the front page for the LP Convention site. Perhaps the Libertarian Party has been hacked by evil Diebold programmers after all.

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Why I’m Ecstatic Over the Iraqi Elections

Iraqi electionsWe recently received an email from a reader challenging us to write something positive about the Iraq elections:

How about the elections. I’ll bet the farm not a one of you can write a blog putting a positive spin on the elections. It would go against your antiwar stand to even admit that anything has gone right.

The challenge is made. You may say something slightly positive but will offset it with mostly negative comments.

Try being positive at least once. I’ll bet the troops there would appreciate it instead of having to read negative comments about them and the Iraq war.

Write a whole blog positive about the election. How about it?

So here it is. There will be absolutely nothing negative said in this piece about the elections, the occupation of Iraq, the troops or anything of that nature. Nothing but positive accolades… are you ready?

Let’s face it, liberal, conservative or libertarian: you have to be happy that Iraq is holding some legitimate elections to elect their own representative government. I’m absolutely jubilant that violence is finally subsiding enough that millions of Iraqis were able to vote without fear of retribution on their choice of candidates out of about 5 major parties.

Why am I so overjoyed?

Because if it can happen in Iraq, maybe it can happen here.

I look forward to the day when we are finally able to extricate our military from the streets of Iraq and bring them back home to the U.S., so that they can topple our own two-party duopoly who have manipulated the legislative system with mickey mouse laws limiting the choices for who can run for office, gerrymandering of districts, corruption and intimidation at the polls. Because by gosh, I’m absolutely purple with jealously over how much choice Iraq has.

I want our troops to give to Americans what they have given to Iraqis:

Choice in candidates – I don’t know about you, but I don’t enjoy living in a country run by Dem and Dumber. There’s plenty of parties other than Democrats and Republicans, but due to the laws that they wrote to facilitate the continuing two-party choke-hold, you may have never heard of them.

Ability to run for office – How about a cruise missile to the Ministry of the FEC? If Bill Gates or Donald Trump wanted to bankroll their favorite candidate with millions of dollars (with the caveat being they will not receive government favors), then by all means let them.

Faith in results – Let’s dispense with this paperless Diebold voting computer malarkey. If we can’t verify the results aren’t being tabulated accurate and the machines are unhackable (this means mandating open source code), then that machine won’t be used;

Faith in leadership – Maybe, just maybe if we had elections in the same spirit as Iraq, we would have a far more representative system where a wider spectrum of opinion and policy is presented. I know I have a lot more faith in a product if it’s subjected to peer review, and I’d sure as heck have a lot more faith in my government if there were more than two sides presented on every issue.

So there ya go reader, you wanted my positive assessment of the Iraq elections, you got it. I’m absolutely ecstatic that the Iraqis have a cavalcade of representation to choose from, I certainly hope we can learn from them.

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October Surprise

October Surprise!I’ve been waiting for this kind of site to come out. Essentially it’s a simple poll site which asks “What tricks will BushCo pull to attempt to win the election in November? Well, he’ll probably try something around or before October. Welcome to October Surprise!” Here’s the current results of the poll:

What Will Happen Before The Election?
41.8% – Osama bin Laden captured!
18.4% – Spectacular terrorist attack on US soil!
15.2% – Vote is threatened by terrorist attacks, vote suspended due to red alert.
8.4% – Diebold Election Systems fixes the vote in battleground states.
7.2% – Escalation in Israel, Iran, or North Korea. US opens a new war front.
4.9% – US pulls out of Iraq in October, leaving the UN in charge.
4.1% – WMD’s found in Iraq!

Total votes: 844

October Surprise (via BoingBoing)

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