Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Box Office Poison 

If George W. Bush offers to endorse your candidacy, run like hell. Corzine takes Jersey, Kaine takes Virginia, and Chris Coleman pimp-slaps Democratic incumbent Randy Kelly, who broke ranks to support Bush in 2004, in the St. Paul mayoral race.

In California, the usual hilarity ensued when purported "government voter guides" sent voters to the wrong polling places:
When I got there, the poll workers told me 1) my name was not on the rolls, and that 2) I should probably go vote "somewhere else", or, that I could vote "provisionally."

I decided to drive to the church and once I arrived there, was able to vote. When I told the poll workers at the church what had happened at the elementary school, I was told "That's been happening all day, people coming in here who aren't on the rolls, other people coming in saying they've been to 2-3 polling places looking for their poll."

Apparently, LA County officials switched (hundreds of) thousands of people's appropriate polling places LAST NIGHT AT TEN P.M.--too late to notify anyone.
Zemblan patriot J.M. reports that soon-to-be-one-term Governor A. Schwarzeknockers ran into a spot of trouble today when he tried to cast his own ballot in the special election he promoted, which cost Californians an estimated $70 million:
When Schwarzenegger arrived at his polling place in Brentwood, he was told he would have to submit a provisional ballot. But a quick call to the Los Angeles County Registar-Recorder Office confirmed that he had not voted previously, and he was allowed to vote by normal ballot, said Kristin Heffron, chief deputy for the office.

The problem originated Oct. 25, when officials at early voting sites across the county were asked to enter sample names into voting computers to make sure they were connected to the main election office in Norwalk . . . .

Schwarzenegger was not one of the sample names, but someone at a Pasadena location entered it anyway, perhaps in an attempt at whimsy, Heffron said. The testers were supposed to cancel the transactions once the tests were complete, but whoever entered Schwarzenegger's name did not, making it appear initially that he had voted . . . .

Kim Alexander, president of the nonpartisan California Voter Foundation, said the incident was troubling. The group opposes paperless electronic voter machines because they don't leave a paper trail, making situations like Schwarzenegger's difficult to resolve.
SIDEBAR: Since hardly anyone else seems to be talking about it, allow us to direct your attention to an article recommended by Zemblan patriot B.K., in which Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman summarize the shocking findings of the GAO's investigation into voting irregularities in the presidential election of 2004:
Among other things, the GAO confirms that:

1. Some electronic voting machines "did not encrypt cast ballots or system audit logs, and it was possible to alter both without being detected." In other words, the GAO now confirms that electronic voting machines provided an open door to flip an entire vote count. More than 800,000 votes were cast in Ohio on electronic voting machines, some seven times Bush's official margin of victory.

2. "It was possible to alter the files that define how a ballot looks and works so that the votes for one candidate could be recorded for a different candidate." Numerous sworn statements and affidavits assert that this did happen in Ohio 2004.

3. "Vendors installed uncertified versions of voting system software at the local level." 3. Falsifying election results without leaving any evidence of such an action by using altered memory cards can easily be done, according to the GAO.

4. The GAO also confirms that access to the voting network was easily compromised because not all digital recording electronic voting systems (DREs) had supervisory functions password-protected, so access to one machine provided access to the whole network. This critical finding confirms that rigging the 2004 vote did not require a "widespread conspiracy" but rather the cooperation of a very small number of operatives with the power to tap into the networked machines and thus change large numbers of votes at will. With 800,000 votes cast on electronic machines in Ohio, flipping the number needed to give Bush 118,775 could be easily done by just one programmer.

5. Access to the voting network was also compromised by repeated use of the same user IDs combined with easily guessed passwords. So even relatively amateur hackers could have gained access to and altered the Ohio vote tallies.

6. The locks protecting access to the system were easily picked and keys were simple to copy, meaning, again, getting into the system was an easy matter.

7. One DRE model was shown to have been networked in such a rudimentary fashion that a power failure on one machine would cause the entire network to fail, re-emphasizing the fragility of the system on which the Presidency of the United States was decided.

8. GAO identified further problems with the security protocols and background screening practices for vendor personnel, confirming still more easy access to the system.

In essence, the GAO study makes it clear that no bank, grocery store or mom & pop chop shop would dare operate its business on a computer system as flimsy, fragile and easily manipulated as the one on which the 2004 election turned.
Brad Friedman (of BradBlog and HuffPo) describes the inexplicable news blackout thus:
Six high-ranking U.S. Congressmen (3 Dems and 3 Reps) issued the incredibly rare joint News Release together. Two of those Congressmen were Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI) and Rep. John Conyers (D-MI), chairman and ranking minority member, respectively, of the U.S. House Judiciary Committee respectively. You do understand how rare it is that those two can agree on anything much less issue a joint press release, right?!

And yet, none of the above has been carried by even one wire service or one major American Newspaper. Not one.

News of the landmark non-partisan report and bi-partisan news release was carried on a few Internet sites (here, here and here) in a few tech journals (here, here and here) and a couple of tiny independent newspapers (here and here). But there has not been a single wire-service (not AP, not UPI, not Reuters, not AFP etc.) nor a single mainstream American print newspaper (not NYTimes, not Washington Post, not any of them) to run even a paragraph on any of it. Not one.
If you haven't dozed off yet, here's a brief explanation of why New Mexico led the nation in presidential undervotes.

UPDATE: We are pleased to add that, in California, all six of the Governor's initiatives were decisively smacked down.

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