Friday, June 30, 2006

The Brennan Center Report

Another report confirms what voting activists have been saying all along. Check it out here (pdf summary).

It's called the Kathy Dopp Analyses The Brennan Center Report on Electronic Voting in the U.S. And it's a fairly detailed report. With the previous GAO report, and numberous books, and thousands of activists nationwide, we might just reach the tipping point yet. Here's a quick breakdown for those who don't want to read the full summary as a PDF.

The report recommends random audits, and several other procedures championed by voting activists for years. It also questions systems like Washington State's in which paper ballots exist, but are not routinely used for hand auditing. Machine recounts are not enough, apparently... something that should have been made clear by the hand recount in Washington of 2004.

Holy Illegal Prisons for Illegal Combatants Batman

Apparently the Supreme Court just slapped the Bush Administration around on Guantanamo, and the Military Tribunal System installed to try prisoners there. The ruling is only suprising in that the Supreme Court has been quite the rubber stamp for abuses by the Bush Administration. From the start by installing Bush as President the Supreme Court has been slowly and steadily stripping away Civil Rights in favor of Big Government control. In fact, just recently the Court ruled that Police don't have to knock to enter your house anymore.

Call me a skeptic, but one decent ruling does nothing to quell my fears of a court that has been packed by Conservatives. However, with this ruling Congress is finally poised to have hearings regarding the issues raised by Guantanamo.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Caleb Schaber in Baghdad

My friend, Caleb Schaber, who wrote for the UW Daily, and who ran against Greg Nickels, is back in Iraq. His most recent article appears here.

Caleb has pursued a more interesting life than most. Just google his name and you will find a soul that is further outside the mainstream than most gonzo journalists. As I was listening to a story by Mike Pesca on NPR's "All Thing's Considered" today about how some journalists are too chicken to cover Baghdad and news listeners are tiring of Iraq War News, I thought to myself what Caleb is doing in Afghanistan and Baghdad would make normal reporters pee themselves with fear, and his news and blog reports are far more interesting than mainstream media.

But without the AP behind his name, Caleb must fight his way into every assignment, and most the time he just creates his own. In fact he created his own newswire service, just to get the job done.

The Northern Nevada Newswire

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Randomly Drafing Poll Workers

Here's an interesting story from Mexico. Interesting, mostly, because it points out that in Mexico they simply draft 1 million people randomly to work the polls. Pretty much solves the problem of a lack of vote counters. And seems like a Patriotic thing to do. Kinda like the Jury System maybe.

"He said a comprehensive voting list, ballot papers that could not be falsified, an efficient counting system and the presence of 1 million people chosen at random to work at ballot booths would prevent vote fraud."

Monday, June 26, 2006

King County Needs a Team Bike Challenge

June is the Second Anual Team Bike Challenge in Santa Barbara. In order to replace and expand the region's "Bike to Work"" day, this Santa Barbara group challenges infrequent bicycle riders to change their habits by competing for a month with other teams.

In these days of high oil prices, air pollution, and global warming concerns, wouldn't it be nice to see someone like Global Warming cheerleader, Greg Nickels, get on a bike and publicize a good way to lower weight, improve traffic, and decrease air pollution. Why not a King County Team Bike challenge, and we can start by challenging all the fat polticians to change their lifestyles first?

Just a thought...

Read more here.

New Roads or New Ideas to Improve Congestion?

Germany works to solve their traffic problems through vision.

"The Ruhrpilot system constantly picks up electronic data on the traffic situation on motorways, federal highways, state highways and primary municipal roads and from 200 sensing points in urban centres such as Bochum, Dortmund, Essen and Gelsenkirchen. This traffic situation data is then analysed and integrated with data on other modes of transport, such as the railways and urban mass transit systems, reported from 11 towns, 4 boroughs and 13 transport operators, and thus provides the region with access to up-to-date traffic information and traffic forecasts.

Transport users can select a route which is optimal for their needs and decide how they wish to reach their destination - faster and safer than previously. This up-to-date information is already available on the internet and in future will also be disseminated by radio, newspapers, teletext, mobile telephones and motorway information displays."

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Is Canada Moving Away From Hand Counts?

This article suggests that Canada might be working to follow the United State's in foolishly changing their election systems. The all too familiar sounding approach combines Absentees and Private Computer companies making the "counting machines".

Vote By Mail Problem in NC, Poll Voting Fraud Doesn't Exist

From North Carolina
Vote By Mail Problems

The Commission found that actual fraud on election day at the polls is almost non-existent. Where the system breaks down is absentee ballots. The Commission discovered that blank ballots mailed to wrong addresses or to large residential buildings were easily intercepted. Further, citizens who vote at home, at nursing homes, at the workplace, or in church are more susceptible to pressure and intimidation. Vote-buying schemes are far more difficult to detect when citizens vote by mail. The Commission therefore recommended that “state and local jurisdictions should prohibit a person from handling absentee ballots other than the voter, an acknowledged family member, the U.S. Postal Service or election officials. The practice in some states of allowing candidates or party workers to pick-up and deliver absentee ballots should be eliminated.”

Friday, June 23, 2006

How Sig Verification Works, and What's Coming

A great Column in the Herald June 21st, 2006. It covers some of the key problems with signature verification, and the problems that are soon to encumber King County's election system.

Vote By Mail a Barrier to the Disabled?

"The WA State Legislature found that vote by mail can create a barrier that restricts the ability of many voters with disabilities."


Clallam County, unless it bucks the state trend, will likely act like The Help America Vote Act, HAVA, requires touchscreens. HAVA, of course, does not require touchscreens, but it's a mantra repeated so frequently most people just assume it is true.

Well I won't hold my breath to find out.

1965 Voting Rights Act

The fight over the re-enactment of the 1965 voting rights act is telling, much like when this Administration put Kissinger in charge of the 911 investigation. It shows the hand of those of both parties. And the partisan divide could not be clearer in this fight.

Democrats argue for "inclusive" voting procedures. Republicans argue for "exclusive" procedures. Democrats don't mind including a few extra felons here and there, or illegal voters of any stripe, because high turn-out generally favors Democrats, and Republicans would rather restrict the system to the fewest voters possible because low turn-out generally favors Republicans.

Much like in King County, the partisan divide only serves the corporate master's interest, and instead of reform we get more privatization, corporatization and corruption.

Real reform would look far different, and starts with:

1.VVPB, Voter-Verified Paper Ballots
2.An Elected Auditor
2.Run off elections when the margin of error exceeds the margin of victory
3.A renewed registration database, and clear registration procedures
4.Publicly owned open sourced software
5.Precinct Level Hand Audits of Optical Scan Ballots
6.Felony vote purge reform (cleaned up procedures for re-enfranchising the formerly incarcerated)
7.The restriction of Vote By Mail to those who truly need it
8.The retention of polling places
9.The eventual elimination of corporate controlled processes involved in elections
10.The prosecution of the companies that have so far been involved, and have lied to public officials, and seemingly participated in what seems like racketeering to this lonely activist.

But that's just where voting reform starts. I pledge to write a longer piece on what system we should adopt in King County over the next few weeks. But until we can start the conversation that addresses what system we want, all we can do is complain that the current system is broken. Fixing a broken system involves consensus building around the solution. It is no longer about pointing out the flaws. So from here I will continue to build my list of what “real voting reform” should look like.

Until then, here's a few articles on the Voting Rights Act debates in congress:

The ACLU's position press release

Article II

A great, longer piece on the problems with the Voting Rights Act from a left of center perspective

The Greg Palast analysis

Lone Star Article
A more right leaning perspective from The Lone Star Times.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

England Vote Fraud By Mail

From the Times Online

"OVER the next few days there will be probably the last chance this decade for Parliament to introduce stronger safeguards against voting fraud. At present, the opportunity looks as though it will be missed as the Electoral Administration Bill shuttles between the Commons and Lords before becoming law."

"The need for action has been underlined by the various scandals over postal and other vote frauds revealed in The Times. The Electoral Commission has for some time recommended changes to improve security."


Interesting how vote fraud by mail is always in the news.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Kill the Messenger, Ignore the Message

There are two articles that I wrote in college that a few in the blogosphere continually quote, and misquote, to try and attack my credibility. One was titled, “Chronic Problem Chronic Solution,” and one is titled, “Honesty is so Passe”. The first is an article I wrote, I believe, when I was 19, as a Sophomore about smoking marijuana for migraines. The second was an article I wrote upon graduating. One is satire, one is about medical marijuana, you can decide for yourself which is which.

I don't necessarily agree with my everything I wrote over 10 years ago when I was in college, but I have never hidden from these articles either. Yes, in my life I smoked pot for migraines, but today I wouldn't “thank” people involved in illegal drug trade, as I did in the article. It's a little too over-the-top for most people to find humorous, or to even see my point. However, I remain opposed to the drug war, and I continue to support medical marijuana. As for my satirical piece, Honesty is So Passe, I have typically relied on people to read it for themselves, because most people can easily comprehend my frustration concerning a liberal arts education, and the lack of job training college offers. Nowadays, at the age of 31 now, I believe I am a much different person than the college student who wrote these articles, but I admire the frank and outspoken person I was then, and still feel a passion to speak out about my beliefs.

The most interesting thing about these two articles, however, is that in the age of the Internet, the stupid stuff you wrote in college just might be around 10, 20, or 40 years later. And today, as an outspoken member of the public, it's even more interesting to me that there are people who track this stuff down in order to try and discredit the messenger. Obviously, this type of argument rarely fools anyone. Most people are more than capable of noticing when people attack the messenger and not the message.

Forced vote-by-mail schemes, Diebold Touchscreen machines, and the abject failure of King County Elections department have nothing to do with two articles I wrote in college.

But for those of you that are having problems with me, as a messenger, here's the articles:

Honesty Is So Passe

Chronic Problems, Chronic Solution

Feel free to post them far and wide. If your only weapon against logic and reason is to attack and discredit those you speak against, well, to quote George Bush, bring it on.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Democrats Vote for Diebold Touchscreens!

Yesterday, the King County Council voted 5 to 4 to move to Forced Vote By Mail and Diebold Touchscreen Voting Machines.

The only council members who spoke against the proposal to do away with the polls and bring in Diebold's Touchscreen Voting Machines were Republicans. Republican Kathy Lambert actually raised questions regarding the Diebold's TSX system and the potential for fraud when these machines are used. Living in King County feels more and more like Cook County, Illinois every day.

The last few weeks have been truly eye opening. On the national scale, I was a Dennis Kucinich Delegate in 2004, because he helped confront Diebold, by posting the infamous Diebold memos on his Congressional Website. But in Washington State, I have never found much help in the Democratic party concerning voting reform. Rank and file Democrats all over are pulling out there hair over this issue, but the Washington State Democratic leadership does not give a rats ass about opening the process, and addressing the concerns we as voting activists raise, loudly, daily, and perpetually.

With a very partisan vote, and with much disrespect shown to the multi-party coalition of activists working to save “Poll Place Voting” in King County, the County's Democrats showed that in the face of overwhelming public testimony, and what the Democrats kept calling, “valid concerns” throughout the June 5th public comment period, that the Democrats were willing to ignore those concerns and push this vote through.

Let's make it clear that the people that are voting to continue to support bringing in Diebold's Touchscreen Voting Machines, forced vote by mail, and doing away with poll places, virtually guaranteeing unverifiable elections procedures, include:

Bob Ferguson
Larry Gossett
Larry Phillips
Julia Patterson
Dow Constantine

King County deserves better than this.