Golden slumbers

From Tim Sloan/AFP/Getty Images
The NY Times today reported that Chinese officials were outraged over the White House accrediting a reporter who screamed at Mr. Hu from the stands, and mistakenly referring to China by the name of its archrival Taiwan. Adding insult to injury, here’s a picture of Vice President Dick Cheney sleeping during Mr. Hu’s press conference.

DRE emergency!! Stewart v. Blackwell….

From Paul Lehto:

Re: Stewart v Blackwell, to-be-published 6th Circuit case that came down Friday April 21, 2006; opinion at http://www.ca6.uscourts.gov/opinions.pdf/06a0143p-06.pdf

On Wednesday evening our time (Thursday New Zealand time) as you know the “Cramdown” essay was published on the NZ Scoop site, arguing that DREs are being crammed down the throat of American democracy by the structure of HAVA as it interacts with voting rights. See http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/HL0604/S00233.htm

On Friday, the Cramdown just became force feeding with a firehose. It held that punch card and central count optical scan systems were, RELATIVE TO TOUCH SCREEN DRE’s, unconstitutional under the Equal Protection of the US Constitution as interpreted by Bush v Gore.To the extent voting technologies have differing error rates, it creates a huge force to require statewide DREs (or other technologies). Uniformity avoids such equal protection claims.

However, as pointed out Wednesday in the cramdown piece, HAVA heavily favors DREs in its structure and probably in its outright intent (though we need not resolve the question of intent to see and prove the actual impact in favor of DREs from the statutes themselves, among other factors)

Previous History: The United States District Court had previously denied the Pro-Touch Screen plaintiff’s equal protection claim, which said that punch card and central count optical scan systems violated the Equal Protection clause of the US Constitution by disproportionately disfranchising minority voters. The District Court also held that it would reach the SAME result under either “rational basis review” or the higher and only meaningful standard of review of “strict scrutiny”.

Holding: In reversing the District Court’s unpublished decision with a decision to be published, the 6th Circuit followed BUSH V. GORE and held that some counties counting a certain way while other counties counting another way violates equal protection. The 6th circuit held that it was bound by precedent of Bush v Gore.

This means that states must apparently have a uniform system of vote recordation/tabulation or else any significant disparities in error rates for those systems would violate the equal protection. And, unlike the district court which used rational basis, the Sixth Circuit suggested that strict scrutiny should apply. However, the District Court had previously said that the level of scrutiny did not affect it’s analysis. So the District court will now have new law to apply, but the clarification that strict scrutiny applies probably won’t affect the result, if anything it increases the court’s concern or activism level to intervene to insure uniform voting technology throughout the state.

While my analysis is ongoing (and I’m taking a copy of the 47 page opinion to the Y today while the kids swim) there appears to be two major implications with two caveats that are not encouraging:

(1) If states use different technologies including CENTRAL COUNT optical scan and DRE, if they generate different error rates they can violate Equal Protection under Bush v Gore

(2) At least for the 6th Circuit if not the nation, the Holt “audits” that thereafter require the paper to prevail in “at least 2%” of the precincts actually audited is a slam bam thank you ma’am reversal under Bush v Gore because the portion audited is treated unequally relative to the rest of the county and state. One can audit to one’s heart’s delight, but the notion that one precinct or county gets its votes counted more accurately than another offends Bush v Gore. Bush v Gore ignored the fact that counties or precincts are not “protected classes” like minority voters are, but it is the law of the land so in effect it created a new protected class under Equal Protection jurisprudence.

CAVEATS: The Sixth Circuit case may be headed to the US Supreme Court, in which case all bets are off, but we’re not necessarily improving….

Second CAVEAT: UNTIL CHANGED OR MODIFIED OR REJECTED BY OTHER CIRCUITS, THIS OPINION IS A STRONG FORCE FOR CONSISTENT STATEWIDE VOTING TECHNOLOGY, REJECTING COUNTY BY COUNTY DIVERSITY in voting systems, to the extent they have distinguishable error rates.

Paul Lehto

MCM and Bo Lipari at Pace Law School

WILL YOUR NEXT VOTE COUNT?
Monday April 24 7:30 PM
Pace Law School Campus
Moot Court Room
78 North Broadway
White Plains 10603

You are invited to a panel discussion on the critically important issue of which machines will be chosen to count our votes in future elections in New York.

If we get this decision wrong, political activity and action on all other issues won’t much matter. Nothing is more precious or more basic to the democratic process than our right to have our votes counted.

The panel features two of the most knowledgeable and interesting speakers on this subject — NYU professor Mark Crispin Miller, author of Fooled Again: How the Right Stole the 2004 Election and Why They’ll Steal the Next One Too, and Bo Lipari, executive director of New Yorkers for Verified Voting, a non-partisan, not-for-profit organization.

Sponsored by Citizens for Voting Integrity, Westchester Progressive Democrats, Westchester-Putnam Chapter of Working Families Party, Pace Law Democrats, Westchester Progressive Forum and the Sierra Club Lower Hudson Group.

Directions to Moot Court Room on Pace Law School Campus:
By Car From I-287 Exit 6 onto North Broadway (Route 22 south). Proceed to the fifth light and turn left onto campus. The Moot Court Room is on the bottom floor (“Ground”) of the Gerber Glass Library.

By Train: Harlem Division of Metro North stops in White Plains. It is a 35 minute ride from Grand Central Terminal. At the White Plains station, you can either take a cab ($5) or look for the Pace shuttle bus — a small white bus that shuttles back and forth between the train station, the Business School campus in White Plains, and the Law School at times and frequencies loosely coordinated with the trains. http://law.pace.edu/currentstudents/shuttle-bus.html. It is a ten-minute walk from the station. Go directly across Main Street to North Broadway, turn left, and go about a half-mile uphill to the Law School campus.

C-SPAN2 Appearance

Fooled Again: How the Right Stole the 2004 Election & Why They’ll Steal the Next One Too (Unless We Stop Them)
Mark Crispin Miller

Watch now

Description: Mark Crispin Miller argues that the outcome of the 2004 election, in many states including Ohio, was manipulated to favor George Bush and the Republican party. He discusses the evidence he has for this charge and talks about the reaction that Sen. John Kerry had when presented with the evidence. Professor Miller also argues that the Republican party has been taken over by religious fundamentalists who see their opponents as evil and whose ultimate goal is to bring about Armageddon. The talk was hosted by the University of Massachusetts – Amherst.

Also airing on C-SPAN2 – Monday April 24th, 2:30am

A crucial essay

Cramdown, Stripdown, Lockdown Democracy In The USA
Thursday, 20 April 2006, 10:44 am
Article: Michael Collins

SIMPLE QUESTIONS — TROUBLING ANSWERS

  • Q&A Session with a Commissioner of the Elections
  • Assistance Commission Reveals Massive Violations of Citizen Rights
  • Secret Vote Counting Crammed Down the Throat of Democracy

Special Report for “Scoop” Independent Media
First in a Series on HAVA and the EAC
by Michael Collins
Washington, DC

The Help America Vote Act of 2002 (HAVA) was passed on the heels of the Florida 2000 presidential election and its “hanging chad” problem. These ambiguous ballot chads riveted and frustrated the nation for a couple of months in late 2000. However, few thought the solution to the ambiguity of hanging chad evidence of a voter’s intent would be to completely eliminate that evidence.

Read more.

And some day he will do something about it!

Howard Dean on Diebold: “These machines are a problem”
by David Grossman
Fri Apr 21, 2006 at 10:37:28 PM PDT
The transcript of the breakfast I attended with Howard Dean is now online. The night before the breakfast, I asked folks on here what would be a good question(s) to ask, and the question I ended up asking Dean was from ronald III.

The question was about Diebold and voting fraud and I picked the question because after searching around, there didn’t seem to be almost anything on record from Dean or the DNC on the subject (and it’s an important subject).

David Grossman’s diary :: ::
Here’s my question and Dean’s answer from the transcript (if you’ve got 15 to 20 minutes and are very interested in Howard Dean, it’s a good read):
David Grossman: Governor, one question by way of the blog Daily Kos. How concerned are you and others at the DNC about Diebold voting machines, and…
Dean: Very.
Grossman: …other issues of voting fraud?
Dean: Very concerned. I am actually calling Democratic public officials. I called one yesterday to try to head off the use of these machines. We spent half a million dollars after the election with a task force, headed by Donna Brazile but made up of academics that were relatively neutral and very careful, to look at these machines very carefully. We concluded that are easily hackable and cannot be verified and that they are not reliable. And we concluded the best machine you can use is an opti-scan machine because at least it has paper ballots and you still get the rapidity of the counting. There are Democratic officials who still use these because they get huge amounts of money from the federal government to buy these kinds of machines, well, not just … the other machines, the Sequoias and Diebolds and such. I’m not an expert on these machines, although someone did actually teach me how to hack one on live TV once, which was kind of fun. It’s pretty shocking — I know so little about the intricacies of all this stuff so … I wouldn’t pretend I … I did change the vote totals on the machines, but I don’t know if it was really — could have been a program that was elaborately programmed to fool me into thinking I was doing something I really wasn’t doing.

Read more.

More bad news

Released at 11:00 p.m. on Friday night….

Army suicides hit highest level since 1993
83 soldiers killed themselves in 2005, up from 67 the previous year
The Associated Press
Updated: 11:27 p.m. ET April 21, 2006

WASHINGTON – The number of U.S. Army soldiers who took their own lives increased last year to the highest total since 1993, despite a growing effort by the Army to detect and prevent suicides.

In 2005, a total of 83 soldiers committed suicide, compared with 67 in 2004, and 60 in 2003 – the year U.S.-led forces invaded Iraq. Four other deaths in 2005 are being investigated as possible suicides but have not yet been confirmed. The totals include active duty Army soldiers and deployed National Guard and Reserve troops.

“Although we are not alarmed by the slight increase, we do take suicide prevention very seriously,” said Army spokesman Col. Joseph Curtin.

“We have increased the number of combat stress teams, increased suicide prevention and training, and we are working very aggressively to change the culture so that soldiers feel comfortable coming forward with their personal problems in a culture where historically admitting mental health issues was frowned upon,” Curtin said.

Read more.

The cyber-noose is tightening

News Update from Citizens for Legitimate Government
21 April 2006

Gonzales calls for mandatory Web labeling law 20 Apr 2006 Web site operators posting sexually explicit information must place official government warning labels on their pages or risk being imprisoned for up to five years, the Bush administration proposed Thursday… Attorney General Alberto Gonzales also warned that Internet service providers must begin to retain records of their customers’ activities to aid in future criminal prosecutions and indicated that legislation might be necessary there as well.


Read more.

Alert for Dutchess County voters!

From Vicky Perry:

Hello friends,

We must quickly mobilize all Dutchess county voters! Please forward this email to all concerned citizens in Dutchess County. We are pushing an email campaign for paper-ballot, optical scan voting.

Please go to: http://www.mhvv.org/letters_dutchessCL.htm

The form on that page helps you to compose a special email to your county legislator pressing for support of a May resolution.

Let’s follow the good example set by Ulster County this month!

Vicky Perry,
MidHudson Verified Voting, coordinator
http://www.mhvv.org

Brownshirt tapped as Rove's replacement

From Eileen Sutton:

New Bush Policy Chief Was “GOP Rioter” During Bush-Gore Recount
The man Bush tapped to fill Karl Rove’s spot as his policy wizard is none other than Joel Kaplan, who took part in the infamous “Brooks Brothers riot” of 2000. That’s when a bunch of Washington GOP operatives, posing as outraged Floridians, waved fists, chanted “Stop the fraud!” and pounded windows in an effort to intimidate officials engaged in the Florida recount effort.