Conned

The New Press Invites You To:

Conned: Felon Disenfranchisement and American Democracy
A Public Forum with Marc Mauer, Sasha Abramsky, Monifa Bandele and Juan Cartagena,
Moderated by Ellis Cose

Join The New Press for a public forum addressing the effects of mass imprisonment on voting rights and democracy, along with the national campaigns being waged to challenge felony disenfranchisement policies in the courts, legislatures, and communities. This event celebrates the new edition and re-release of RACE TO INCARCERATE and the new release of CONNED: How Millions Went to Prison, Lost the Vote,and Helped Send George W. Bush to the White House.

Featuring:

Marc Mauer
The Sentencing Project’s Executive Director / Author of RACE TO INCARCERATE

Sasha Abramsky
Demos Senior Fellow / Author of CONNED

Monifa Bandele
The Right to Vote Campaign

Juan Cartagena
Community Service Society

Moderated by Ellis Cose, Newsweek Columnist and Author of The Rage of a Privileged Class

Friday, April 28, 2006 7:00 p.m.
The New School: Wollman Hall
65 West 11th Street, 5th floor
$5

TICKET INFORMATION:
Reservations can be taken by phone at (212) 229-5488 or via email at boxoffice[at]newschool.edu
The Box Office is open for in-person purchases at
66 West 12th St, main floor,
Mon.-Thurs. 1-8 p.m., Fri. 1-7 p.m.

Abramoff linked to NH phone-jamming scandal

“Fueling the controversy is evidence that New Hampshire Democrats uncovered showing that two of lobbyist Abramoff’s Indian-tribe clients cut checks to the New Hampshire Republican Party roughly equal to the costs of the phone jamming.”

Senate Vote Inquiry Widens as Democrats Probe White House Link
April 24 (Bloomberg) — To Republicans, the New Hampshire phone-jamming incident is an isolated case of political dirty tricks that took place more than three years ago.

To Democrats, it’s a scandal with echoes of Watergate that may reach all the way to the White House.

Republican leaders are facing questions stemming from a criminal case involving efforts to suppress voter turnout in a U.S. Senate election in the state in 2002. Republican John Sununu won that race over Democrat Jeanne Shaheen, helping Republicans retake control of the Senate.

The facts, on the surface at least, are suspicious: dozens of phone calls to the White House by a man later convicted in the case; the national Republican Party agreeing to pay more than $2.5 million in legal bills; phones jammed on Election Day, not only of Democrats but of a firefighters’ group, in the first U.S. congressional elections since the Sept. 11 attacks. Democrats say that disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff may even be involved.

Read more.

Groundwork for election fraud from coast to coast

More from Paul Lehto:
A brand new published case in the 6th Circuit called Stewart v Blackwell holds that punchcards and central count optical scan voting systems are unconstitutional under the Bush v. Gore (2000) Equal Protection analysis, while touch screen DREs are upheld. http://www.ca6.uscourts.gov/opinions.pdf/06a0143p-06.pdf
The method of analysis the Stewart v. Blackwell case uses distinguishes between “notice” technologies that inform the voter that they have undervoted or overvoted, and “non-notice” technologies like central count optical scan that do not give a special notice. This is generally how the Court distinguished the upheld technologies from the struck down technologies. Note, however, that paper ballots are a “non-notice” technology, in that they do not talk back to the voter and inform them of possible mistakes regarding overvoting or undervoting. Thus, paper ballots appear highly likely to be subject to challenge in a future case where paper ballots are used.
Although a state could have statewide paper ballots and thereby seem on the surface to avoid a direct equal protection challenge, the *separate* HAVA requirement for disabled-accessible voting that is satisfied on a per se basis by one DRE per polling place under a specific HAVA subsection will directly have the effect of re-injecting the Equal Protection issue right back into each and every hand counted paper ballot polling place even in a state composed entirely of paper ballots, because the disabled accessible voting system that supplements the paper ballots is by definition *different* than the nondisabled voting system, just like a person using a wheelchair is a different “locomotion” system than a person walking on two legs. The only system that currently can serve both and avoid equal protection issues while keeping undervoting and overvoting rates the same for the disabled and the nondisabled is DREs.
HAVA was written right on the heels of Bush v. Gore and some people seem to have had that case in mind, perhaps others were not thinking of Bush v. Gore when they voted on HAVA.
Stewart v. Blackwell still found Bush v. Gore to be binding Equal Protection precedent despite the line in Bush v. Gore saying that it ‘wasn’t’ of precedential value.
To fully appreciate Stewart v. Blackwell’s equal protection holding, understanding some basic point is critical, so I ran these points below by even a professor of Constitutional Law who agreed they are accurate:
1. The law does not have to be fair, nor does it have to be just, nor does it have to follow science. It only needs to be Constitutional.
2. Bush v. Gore is grounded on the Equal Protection Clause to the US Constitution
3. The Supreme Court is the last word on interpreting the constitution. Period.
3(a). A non-caveat to the previous sentence: Though Congress can reverse a Supreme Court case that only involves interpretation of a statute (such as by amending the statute in question), nothing Congress says or does can interpret the Constitution contrary to the Supreme Court’s interpretation of it. It is, as stated earlier, the last word on Constitutional matters.
4. In addition to complying with HAVA (the Help America Vote Act) and state law, voting technologies must also comply with Bush v. Gore. These three are all separate sources of law impacting the arena of voting systems, though they occasionally interact, they are still separate sources of law.
*******************************
The April 21, 2006 Holding in Stewart v. Blackwell, 6th Circuit:
Citing Bush v. Gore and stating that it was precedent even if the US Supreme Court said at one point that it wasn’t precedent, different ways of counting votes that generate different error rates were held to violate the Constitution. Specifically, the Equal Protection Clause is violated when “non-notice” voting systems (punch-cards and central count optical scan) end up with higher residual error rates than “notice” technologies (DREs and precinct count opscans that specifically warn the voter as to overvotes and undervotes)
Note that non-notice systems like central count opscan and paper ballots can comply with HAVA via voter education programs. However, that is totally independent of whether they comply with equal protection. If the problem is defined, as it is in Stewart v Blackwell, as a problem with the TECHNOLOGY’s notice or lack thereof, it does not make sense as a remedy to have voter education, as HAVA does, because it is the technology that needs to be “educated” so to speak. So, while only central count op-scans were technically at issue in this case, the saving clause that protects both central count opscans and paper ballots under HAVA by allowing voter education to substitute was not going to save central opscans from equal protection attack under Bush v. Gore. And, central opscans were in fact struck down in Stewart V Blackwell, while paper ballots were not in the counties challenged or generally used in Ohio.
So, paper ballots will not survive either when their case comes up IF THEY HAVE THE HIGHER RESIDUAL OR ERROR NUMBERS relative to DREs or the technology paper is being compared to.
Another possibility is the recognition that the wrong questions are being asked here, or questions that are too narrow, because notice focuses on what DREs are good at it, and ignores all their problems. For example, a broader notion of “accuracy” could be litigated, that would include other security considerations and so forth. But this, IMHO, is just another structural factor that favors DRes in HAVA, as explained in more Detail in the essay Cramdown, Stripdown, Lockdown Democracy in the United STates. See http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/HL0604/S00233.htm
The bottom line is that the availability of Equal Protection attack on county by county or precinct by precinct basis will have a powerful effect to “encourage” uniform voting systems throughout a given state. In turn, with federal law supreme that is the force that helps to “encourage” uniformity between all states. With many jurisdictions going with HAVA’s “one DRE per polling place” language, that may well lead to an equal protection challenge, where the disabled and the nondisabled citizens get together and say “hey, we need to be all on the same system to comply with equal protection”. Just the mere threat of such a suit is enough to constitute a pressure on a county making a decision, in addition to all the other pressures they are under.
First the voting system was privatized, under the belief that Bush v Gore was a one time deal. Now Bush v Gore is resuscitated (or it was never dead) and the Equal Protection analysis it offers will federalize our v

oting system. HAVA heavily favoring DREs as explained in the Cramdown piece above, means touch screen DREs will run the table unless activists find a new and better way to fight, and do it fast.

CONCLUSION — HOW IT WILL GO DOWN

*********HAVA says by statute that HAVA’s accessibility for the disabled provision is “satisfied by one DRE per polling place”. that’s the “safe harbor” or “free pass” for DREs. There’s never a guarantee in the law but that comes close. That one DRE per polling place can then create “equal protection issues” under the overbroad and poorly reasoned Bush V Gore holding if the error rates of the technologies that are being used in said DRE-disabled polling places differ from the other technologies in the polling place or even in other counties, which current research seems to indicate they do. THus, to avoid equal protection challenges, counties and states “should” convert to all DREs. Counties will also want to convert to all DREs for other reasons not fully developed here, including concerns that small numbers of voters on the DREs since only disabled voters will be using them will mean that the privacy of the ballot for disabled voters will be violated. One of the few solutions to that problem is to have more voters or all voters vote on DREs….***********

Yes, there will be stragglers, it will take a few years, there will be holdouts. Many jurisdictions won’t have to have a gun held to their head, their own lawyers will read the statutes and advise as to the risks and the “appropriate” DRE decisions will be made. In addition, we don’t have to reach 100% DREs nationwide in order to in effect be DRE Nation.
As elucidated further in the Cramdown piece above, the only clearly apparent and possible solution is to attack the secret vote counting and lack of transparency, because that can not occur under ANY voting system, of any type. http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/HL0604/S00233.htm

Mugged in Maryland

Mugged by Diebold, and the Democrats


April 21, 2006

Reality Check:
reporting from Maryland

by Mary Howe Kiraly
For voting integrity activists in Maryland, the 2006 Legislative Session ended as a disappointment and a reality check. We began the session believing that, if we could pass a paper ballot bill in the House of Delegates, this legislation was a certainty in the State Senate (where similar legislation had 23 of 47 Senators on board as co-sponsors). How wrong we were.

The dream bill, which included leasing optical scan for the fall, passed the House unanimously. The Governor changed positions and supported a paper ballot, backing up that support with a funding request. Then the legislation moved to the “friendly” Senate, where it languished, never to move to a floor vote before the session ended.

What happened? We cannot say for certain but here are some facts that can be assembled a number of ways, depending on one’s degree of cynicism.

Read more.

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.