‘It was just chaos’: Broken machines, incomplete voter rolls leave some wondering whether their ballots will count

By Matt Pearce

California voters faced a tough time at the polls Tuesday, with many voters saying they have encountered broken machines, polling sites that opened late and incomplete voter rolls, particularly in Los Angeles County.

The result? Instead of a quick in-and-out vote, many California voters were handed the dreaded pink provisional ballot — which takes longer to fill out, longer for election officials to verify and which tends to leave voters wondering whether their votes will be counted.

This year’s presidential primary race has already been one of the most bitter in recent memory. Before Tuesday’svote, Bernie Sanders supporters accused the media of depressing Democratic turnout by calling the nomination for Hillary Clinton before polls opened in California.

Those feelings haven’t gotten any less raw Tuesday as hundreds of Californians complained of voting problems to the national nonpartisan voter hotline run by the Lawyers’ Committee For Civil Rights Under Law.

It’s difficult to get a sense for how widespread the problems are or how they compare to recent elections. But experts said the culprit for Tuesday’s voting problems seems to be a confluence of factors — old voting machines, a competitive election that has drawn new voters, plus complex state voting laws that can be hard for poll volunteers and voters to follow.

“Presidential primary elections in California are the hardest elections of all. … This election reminds me of 2008 in that regard,” said Kim Alexander, president of the nonpartisan California Voter Foundation. “Our voter registration deadline is 15 days before election day, and that gives all the counties, and especially L.A. County, very little time to get their polling place rosters updated with all the voters.”

When Sanders supporter Brandon Silverman, 29, showed up at his polling station in Echo Park at 8:15 a.m., he said poll workers immediately handed him a provisional ballot, explaining that their machine wasn’t working yet. The full list of voters’ names for the precincts also seemed to be missing.

Silverman, an assistant television editor, quickly called a Sanders voter hotline and L.A. County voting officials. About 45 minutes later, the problems seemed to be resolved and he was able to cast a regular ballot, he said. But the chaos shook his confidence in the fairness of the electoral process a little, especially after hearing other precincts and states struggle with voting problems this year.

“I tend to agree with most of the Bernie supporters who are disappointed in the media’s handling of the superdelegate counts, but I tend to shy away from the people saying it’s ‘stolen’ or ‘rigged,’” Silverman said. “I’d like to not think the worst, but at a certain point you think, is it a coincidence?”

In Bell, Albert Grey showed up at his polling site Tuesday morning to find that the vote-counting machine seemed to be jammed, and there didn’t seem to be a supervisor on site. So he left without voting.

“I still have my ballot, I’m going to go back, see if the machine is working, and if it is, I’m going to vote,” Grey said.

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Democrats Are Now the Aggressive War Party

June 8, 2016

Exclusive: For nearly a half century – since late in the Vietnam War – the Democrats have been the less warlike of the two parties, but that has flipped with the choice of war hawk Hillary Clinton, writes Robert Parry.

By Robert Parry

The Democratic Party has moved from being what you might call a reluctant war party to an aggressive war party with its selection of Hillary Clinton as its presumptive presidential nominee. With minimal debate, this historic change brings full circle the arc of the party’s anti-war attitudes that began in 1968 and have now ended in 2016.

Since the Vietnam War, the Democrats have been viewed as the more peaceful of the two major parties, with the Republicans often attacking Democratic candidates as “soft” regarding use of military force.

But former Secretary of State Clinton has made it clear that she is eager to use military force to achieve “regime change” in countries that get in the way of U.S. desires. She abides by neoconservative strategies of violent interventions especially in the Middle East and she strikes a belligerent posture as well toward nuclear-armed Russia and, to a lesser extent, China.

Amid the celebrations about picking the first woman as a major party’s presumptive nominee, Democrats appear to have given little thought to the fact that they have abandoned a near half-century standing as the party more skeptical about the use of military force. Clinton is an unabashed war hawk who has shown no inclination to rethink her pro-war attitudes.

As a U.S. senator from New York, Clinton voted for and avidly supported the Iraq War, only cooling her enthusiasm in 2006 when it became clear that the Democratic base had turned decisively against the war and her hawkish position endangered her chances for the 2008 presidential nomination, which she lost to Barack Obama, an Iraq War opponent.

However, to ease tensions with the Clinton wing of the party, Obama selected Clinton to be his Secretary of State, one of the first and most fateful decisions of his presidency. He also kept on George W. Bush’s Defense Secretary Robert Gates and neocon members of the military high command, such as Gen. David Petraeus.

This “Team of Rivals” – named after Abraham Lincoln’s initial Civil War cabinet – ensured a powerful bloc of pro-war sentiment, which pushed Obama toward more militaristic solutions than he otherwise favored, notably the wasteful counterinsurgency “surge” in Afghanistan in 2009 which did little beyond get another 1,000 U.S. soldiers killed and many more Afghans.

Clinton was a strong supporter of that “surge” – and Gates reported in his memoir that she acknowledged only opposing the Iraq War “surge” in 2007 for political reasons. Inside Obama’s foreign policy councils, Clinton routinely took the most neoconservative positions, such as defending a 2009 coup in Honduras that ousted a progressive president.

Clinton also sabotaged early efforts to work out an agreement in which Iran surrendered much of its low-enriched uranium, including an initiative in 2010 organized at Obama’s request by the leaders of Brazil and Turkey. Clinton sank that deal and escalated tensions with Iran along the lines favored by Israel’s right-wing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a Clinton favorite.

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CALIFORNIA PRIMARY: MILLIONS OF VOTE-BY-MAIL BALLOTS ARE STILL UNCOUNTED, WILL ALTER THE FINAL COUNT

By DAWN PAPPLE

non-partisan Field Poll estimated that more Californians would vote by mail in the California primary than would vote at a polling location, L.A. Times announced Wednesday morning. Setting a new record for primary voting, more voters in California are believed to have voted using the mail-in method than voted Tuesday at polling locations. L.A. Times says that California’s primary has become more like an “election week” than an election day.

Over half of all registered voters in California (53 percent) are registered to vote with a ballot that they fill out at their leisure and drop into the mailbox instead of feeding into the ballot box. In total, 8 million voters are believed to have participated in California’s primary, and those who have chosen to vote by mail had until the election day to get their ballots postmarked. Any ballot postmarked by Tuesday, June 6, will be counted and included in the official count.

“Vote-by-mail ballots that are mailed must be postmarked on or before Election Day and received by your county elections office no later than 3 days after Election Day.”

Although the Associated Press declared 100 percent of districts reporting as of Wednesday, the reality is that ballots from vote-by-mail voters in California haven’t even all been delivered by the mail carrier to their destinations yet. So far, just over 5 million votes are accounted for, but 8 million total voters were anticipated, according to The Field Poll. Nearly 3 million ballots might still be up in the air, soon to be counted.

This figure of 3 million votes left to still be counted was also announced by the independent analysts for Target Book. Traditionally, those ballots that aren’t counted by the time the AP announces the anticipatory winners tend to be the ballots of young Democratic voters and Latino voters.

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CALIFORNIA PRIMARY: MILLIONS OF VOTE-BY-MAIL BALLOTS ARE STILL UNCOUNTED, WILL ALTER THE FINAL COUNT

By DAWN PAPPLE

 

non-partisan Field Poll estimated that more Californians would vote by mail in the California primary than would vote at a polling location, L.A. Times announced Wednesday morning. Setting a new record for primary voting, more voters in California are believed to have voted using the mail-in method than voted Tuesday at polling locations. L.A. Times says that California’s primary has become more like an “election week” than an election day.

Over half of all registered voters in California (53 percent) are registered to vote with a ballot that they fill out at their leisure and drop into the mailbox instead of feeding into the ballot box. In total, 8 million voters are believed to have participated in California’s primary, and those who have chosen to vote by mail had until the election day to get their ballots postmarked. Any ballot postmarked by Tuesday, June 6, will be counted and included in the official count.

“Vote-by-mail ballots that are mailed must be postmarked on or before Election Day and received by your county elections office no later than 3 days after Election Day.”

Although the Associated Press declared 100 percent of districts reporting as of Wednesday, the reality is that ballots from vote-by-mail voters in California haven’t even all been delivered by the mail carrier to their destinations yet. So far, just over 5 million votes are accounted for, but 8 million total voters were anticipated, according to The Field Poll. Nearly 3 million ballots might still be up in the air, soon to be counted.

This figure of 3 million votes left to still be counted was also announced by the independent analysts for Target Book. Traditionally, those ballots that aren’t counted by the time the AP announces the anticipatory winners tend to be the ballots of young Democratic voters and Latino voters.

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The Evidence About Prostitution That the New York Times Ignored

By Rachel Moran

On May 5, Emily Bazelon, staff writer for The New York Times, published an article—“Should Prostitution be a Crime”—that had been months in the making. I know this because Bazelon interviewed me for it during an hour-long phone call and an exchange of more than 30 emails.

What strikes me now is her reaction when I mentioned that the women in my movement often have to deal with journalists who come to the issue of prostitution with their biases intact and their objectivity fragmented.

“I am not biased,” she snapped.

“I am not suggesting you are,” I replied. It occurred to me, however, that she probably had a reason for being defensive, and, sure as night follows day, it turned out she did.

Bazelon’s mischaracterization of the issue of prostitution, in my opinion, was confirmed and reaffirmed in her article in ways too numerous to document here. Her piece has had to be corrected three times (including her contention that Dutch prostitution is confined to Amsterdam, when it is, as any European could tell you, countrywide.) U.S. psychologist and academic Melissa Farley, who was quoted in Bazelon’s article, has filed a demand for correction of Bazelon’s misquote of Farley; as of this writing (June 1, 2016), the New York Times has refused to correct it.

Bazelon also stated that there had been no reported cases of trafficking in New Zealand, somehow managing to miss that on April 14, 2015, Naengnoi Sriphet was sentenced to 27 months in prison by Auckland District Court for recruiting women from Thailand to work in a “massage parlour” in Auckland.

Bazelon’s fact-checker contacted me to ask whether it would be fair to say that I believed Amnesty International had taken its pro-decriminalization stance from pimps and sex-traffickers. I responded that it would not be fair to say so without qualifying that statement, and I reminded her of what I’d told Bazelon several times already: that Amnesty International had taken their cues from the Global Network of Sex Work Projects, then co-chaired by Alejandra Gil, who has since been convicted and is serving a 15-year sentence in a Mexican prison for sex trafficking.

Bazelon ignored my conversation with her fact-checker and attributed to me a one-line fragment of what I’d said, making no mention of the Global Network of Sex Work Projects, Gil or her sex-trafficking conviction.

Bazelon then invited Amnesty to respond to me without ever fully disclosing what it was in fact responding to.

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Why did the DOE’s Lawrence Livermore National Lab produce a 2015 study suggesting that anthrax was NOT used as a bioweapon in Rhodesia’s civil war?

by Meryl Nass

Rhodesia is no more, having been renamed Zimbabwe after it became a majority-ruled black nation in 1980. Rhodesia was a British territory before 1965, when the 5% white minority seized control to preclude Britain granting majority rule.  A civil war ensued, with the two sides divided by race.  By the war’s end in 1980, the black “guerrilla” “terrorist” “communist” side had been attacked with chemical and biological weapons including organophosphate “nerve gas,” rat poison, cholera, anthrax and arguably other chem-bio agents.

I was first to publicly identify this anthrax epidemic, which killed at least 182 people and affected 10,000, to be an act of biological warfare, in 1992.  Subsequently much literature (scientific, historical and memoir, originating from Zimbabwe, South Africa, the UK and US) has amplified the evidence base and added details, though much remains hidden. Of interest, this confirmatory literature includes a report from the US Naval War College and US Air War College, and a book and related episode of BBC TV’s Panorama.  The history of anthrax biowarfare in Rhodesia seemed incontrovertible.

US DOE’s Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory takes aim at this history, misses widely

I was forwarded a report produced in 2015 by a scientist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL), disputing that the Rhodesian anthrax epidemic was due to biological warfare. The study was published by LLNL, rather than in a peer-reviewed journal, yet it required considerable resources to produce. The report ran to 43 pages and 56 footnotes.

In order to claim the epidemic occurred naturally, the report’s author, Stephan P Velsko, employed a method he termed “opinion calculus,” by which he transmuted the actual facts of the epidemic into opinions and (often incorrect) assertions. He then assigned weights to the opinions and assertions (the weights being his opinions) and used a mathematical construct, Dempster-Shafer theory, to impart a scientific veneer to the gobbledygook calculations.

Unable to marshall any evidence to support his conclusion that biological warfare did not occur, Velsko jettisoned all the existing evidence to instead favor the absence of evidence, claiming,  “Many items of evidence that have been proffered over the years are shown to be nearly irrelevant to the final conclusion, while the absence of certain expected types of evidence plays a critical role in the assessment.” 

Here are three examples (from many more I could cite) of Velsko/LLNL’s arguments:

1.  Although anthrax cases were required to be reported in Rhodesia, Velsko disputes the meaning of the huge size of the epidemic, suggesting it was inflated by poor quality reporting.  While reporting rates for any rare disease always increase as doctors become more familiar with it, Velsko never mentions the fact that the Rhodesian event remains, by far, the largest anthrax epidemic in world history.

2.  Velsko disputes that the epidemic jumped from district to district in a geographic and temporal pattern unknown to other anthrax epidemics, twisting the history. He claims instead that the epidemic was localized to one epicenter, with nearby peripheral cases caused by transport of meat.  In order to make this claim, he omits the considerable evidence of when and where cases occurred.

However, I previously recorded the dates and locations of cases using Zimbabwe’s public health records and other sources.  Below is a new photo of the map I annotated in 1992 with multicolored stars for reported anthrax case locations, and numbers of cases, where known.  Some of the stars have gone missing, but it should be obvious that cases were identified widely within Zimbabwe’s borders (marked in yellow).  Visible, but more difficult to see, are the case numbers which, despite Velsko’s claims, were considerable from east of Harare to northwest of Bulawayo. Additionally, the star colors indicate the temporal movement of the epidemic to new areas, a feature unique to this epidemic but disputed by Velsko.

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Placebo Ballots: Stealing California from Bernie Using an old GOP vote-snatching trick

By Greg Palast with Dennis J Bernstein for Reader Supported News

 

[Los Angeles]  Woop!  Woop!  Alert!  Some California poll workers have been told to give “provisional” ballots to all independent voters in Tuesday’s Democratic Party.

That’s wrong.  That’s evil.  That’s sick and illegal.

Here’s the 411.  If you’re registered as an independent voter in California, you have the right to vote in the Democratic Presidential Primary.  Just ask for the ballot.

But look out!  Reports out of Orange County are that some poll workers have been told to give “No Party Preference” (NPP), that is, an independent voter, a PROVISIONAL ballot, as opposed to a regular ballot.

Do NOT accept a provisional ballot. As one poll worker told me, “They simply don’t get counted.”

Who would benefit from this switcheroo from legal ballot to “provisional” ballot?  It’s just a stone cold fact that independent voters favor Senator Bernie Sanders. Among voters who describe themselves as having “no party preference,” Sanders leads Sec. Hillary Clinton by a humongous 40 points—though Hillary is hugely ahead among registered Democrats.

So one way to steal the election is to make sure those independent voters’ ballots end up in the garbage, uncounted.

Two million “Placebo Ballots” not counted
And for our readers in the other 49 states:  you can bet that the GOP will be shunting voters to these placebo provisional ballots in November.  In the last presidential election, over two MILLION voters, overwhelmingly  voters of color, were shifted to these rarely-counted ballots.  Two million voters could have just written their votes on bubbles.  That’s how they steal elections.

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Fighting for CA Workers, Sanders Slams NYT for Ignoring ‘Real Issues’

‘Our campaign is about defeating Secretary Clinton on the real issues.’

by Nika Knight, staff writer

“I have a real problem with the New York Times, which from day one has been trying to be very dismissive of our campaign and has been very negative about our campaign.” (Photo: Roger Jones/flickr/cc)

In an interview with Chuck Todd on Meet the Press on Sunday, Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders had harsh words for media more interested in stoking candidates’ antagonism toward each other instead of focusing “on the real issues” of a shrinking middle class and rising wealth inequality in America.

“I have a real problem with the New York Times, which from day one has been trying to be very dismissive of our campaign and has been very negative about our campaign.”
—Bernie Sanders

Speaking from his campaign stop in Santa Barbara, Calif., Sanders called out the New York Times in particular: “The New York Times—I’ll tell you,” Sanders said, “I have a real problem with the New York Times, which from day one has been trying to be very dismissive of our campaign and has been very negative about our campaign.”

Sanders continued:

You can go out and you can talk to millions of people and you get any response that you want. Our campaign is about defeating Secretary Clinton on the real issues. I want to break up the big banks, she doesn’t. I want to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour, she wants $12 an hour. I voted against the war in Iraq, she voted for the war in Iraq. I believe we should ban fracking, she does not. I believe we should have a tax on carbon and deal aggressively with climate change, that is not her position. Those are some of the issues that I am campaigning on. The New York Times goes around and talks to a handful of people, does a front-page story, that is a problem with the New York Times and not for my campaign.

Sanders also argued that “in order for the Democrats to win” against Trump in November, “they’re going to have to address the needs of working people, standing up to wall street, standing up to the greed of corporate America, even now and then standing up to the media.”

When pressed by Todd to weigh in on the FBI investigation of Clinton’s email practices while Secretary of State, Sanders reiterated, “I think the American people are tired of that type of politics. I think the media and the candidates have got to talk about why the middle class is in decline and why we have massive levels of income and wealth inequality. Those have been talking about. And those are the issues I focus on.”

“I just gave an hour long speech here in Santa Barbara,” Sanders continued, “and it wasn’t about emails, it was about the future of the middle class and some of the fundamental problems that they’re facing.”

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