Saturday, February 24, 2007

Petition to the CA Secretary of State

A complaint has been filed with the office of the CA Secretary of State requesting there be an investigation of elections in San Diego. Over the course of this past year, it has become increasingly obvious that there are flaws in the system that need to be addressed if we are to have full faith in our election process. The complaint documents numerous problems in the election system here in San Diego, and asks Debra Bowen's office to investigate the issues associated with "sleepovers", violations of the chain of custody, poor auditing procedures, and the undermining the ability of voters to choose paper ballots.

The Help America Vote Act pushed inadequate and wholy inappropriate technology into our elections. Electronic voting machines (particularly the touchscreen DREs) are prone to error, easy to manipulate, and do not produce a paper ballot. It has been proven time and again that they are not only hackable, but the potential exists for a person with nefarious intent to completely change the results. The software is propriatary (owned by the manufacturers of the voting equipment) which means it is secret and not available for public inspections, despite the fact that our elections should be nothing less than fully open and transparent. This situation forces us to put our trust in the private corporations that now control our elections. We can't see our vote. We can't count our vote. We have stepped into an age of faith-based voting, and that is not acceptable.

Adding fuel to this fire, the San Diego Registrar of Voters office has stonewalled efforts by citizens and election integrity activists to bring transparency to the election process. They have also violated the required chain of custody and security measures that the state has put in place to protect our vote, by allowing these hackable machines to be stored in the homes, cars and garages of poll workers for weeks at a time before election day. Security issues were ignored or minimized, In addition, the required post-election audit was compromised by the fact that it was not truly random since the precincts to be audited were known before the votes were counted.

The registrar also made efforts to avoid informing voters about their right to vote on paper ballots, and in court they opposed a voter’s request to ensure that sufficient quantities of paper ballots be made available and to require that notices be placed at the polls informing voters that they could vote on paper ballots. It seems the San Diego Registrar of Voters views the public as an impediment and an inconvenience, when elections really belong to US. Elections are the method by which citizens confer power our government. It is not a gift from them to us. We own it, and it's time to take it back.

Please take a moment to review the complaint and/or sign the petition Petition to the CA Secretary of State.

We, the undersigned, believe that citizens of a democracy are self-governing. Because citizens are the source of all government power, we demand that our government be responsive to our concerns and answer our questions.
We are concerned about the conduct of our elections in San Diego County as reported in the Complaint to California Secretary of State And Petition from San Diego County Citizens to Investigate Compliance with Election Laws filed regarding the November 7, 2006, election.
We hereby petition the California Secretary of State to exercise the authority given to her by the citizens of this state to investigate and report on the issues raised in the complaint.

The petition
The Complaint

Labels: ,

Friday, February 23, 2007

The Cost of War

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Amend the Holt Bill

Progressive Democrats of America has an Action Alert on their website where you can write a letter to your Congresscritter telling them you want amendments and changes to the Holt Bill that will ban DRE technology and require paper ballots.

As I've mentioned before, there are lots of reasons to like the Holt bill (HR 811), but it further entrenches the faulty DRE-type voting machines into the election system, AND it does't draw a clear distinction between a paper trail vs a paper ballot. Those are serious defects in the bill as it currently stands. A big enough "but" to keep me from enthusiastically endorsing the bill or signing the petetions being circulated about the issue by MoveOn and PFAW. I would strong support the Holt bill if it were amended as suggested in this PDA Action Alert. Once again, yay for PDA. They consistantly get it right.

These issues are also why Maxine Waters is withdrawing her co-sponsorship of the bill.

And since I've not mentioned it in a few days, here's a reminder to sign the petition asking Debra Bowen, California Secretary of State, to investigate election practicies in San Diego that are outlined in this complaint.

The complaint reports on the violations of the certification requirements under state and federal law, the failure to properly test the machines pursuant to official procedures, the policy of undermining the right to vote on paper ballots, and the disregard of basic auditing principles in conducting the required one percent manual tally. - Ken Simpkins

All good reasons for the Secretary of State to take a closer look at the process.

Labels: , , ,

Arlington West at SDSU 2/22/07

Monday, February 19, 2007

Ken Simpkins guest blogs at Brad Blog

Attorney Ken Simpkins guest blogged at Brad Blog this afternoon, writing about the complaint filed with the CA Secretary of State and the accompanying petition.

The complaint documents numerous problems in the election system here in San Diego, and asks Debra Bowen's office to investigate the issues associated with "sleepovers", violations of the chain of custody, poor auditing procedures, and undermining the ability of voters to choose paper ballots.

Bowen has already opined that the "sleepovers" are illegal, so I hope she uses this opportunity to investigate the whole shoddy mess.

Labels: ,

Sunday, February 18, 2007

If you like the war in Iraq, you'll love war with Iran!

Michael Gomel (who kindly allows me to occasionally steal his photos from Flickr) wrote the following statement after participating in a UPJ conference call, and it was posted to the SDCPJ mailing list this past week.

So reads the ad by United for Peace and Justice placed this week in
the weekly Congressional Magazine that Our congressional legislators

UPJ held a conference call with activist organizations around the US
on Wednesday, February 7, 2007 and again on Tuesday Feb 13 for those
who missed the first one. As a participant in that conference call -
with Phyllis Bennis giving the informational update and strategy
ideas in an opening address and a Q & A for an hr after - I will do
my best here to inform All of how we might proceed to hope to stop
War at Iran.

This is our main best focus!

We who got our news from the human rights based, unembedded, independent media knew early about the creation of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) founded by Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz over 5 years ago inside the Pentagon and without Pentagon or other oversite where Feith cherry picked intelligence to create the (intelligence) lies to manufacture consent for the Invasion and Occupation of Iraq. Despite this news in the independent media, the corporate mainstream press spread the lies and beat the drums of war. The media lied and like the DIA falsely connected Sadam Hussein to
WMD's, to Al-Qaeda, to "terrorism", and even to 9-11. MANY AMERICANS even now still think/believe this crap. That is why I repeat it here.

Colin Powell gave his damning speech to the UN and only later admitted he didn't believe the intelligence reports he was announcing to The World.

Then the Downing Street Memos were leaked and gave "official" proof of these lies as a matter of Policy strategy. Many of us hoped that this would be a call to the integrity of our elected officials and to the media getting it right. The War ravaged on.

This year, 2007, The Pentagon Inspector General's report has publicly delineated that Feith (DIA) falsely created intelligence approved by Wolfowitz and Rumsfeld.
This again confirming the Downing Street Memos as Truth.

The War in Iraq still goes on. They got it so that "the horse could leave the barn" almost 4 years ago - 4 yrs and 700,000 Iraqi deaths, and over 3000 American KIA ago with 100,000s on all sides direly wounded.

War at Iran would be evenly impossibly worse. The entire Middle East could explode in unrest and turmoil - both cross borders and within country's borders. For Americans at home and abroad, Iran would be able to retaliate against US forces in US bases in every Arab country in the Middle East. Al-Qaeda and other violent goups who already have waiting lines for their admissions applications would be overrun
with huge numbers of new hatefilled recruits.

Moreso, Iran is not weakened militarily like Iraq was after the sanctions. They have weapons to defend themselves and even to attack US warships. This is why the US Coast Guard has had ships and crews sent to the Gulf to help in sea rescue operations.

A nuclear attack on Iran would be utter shame for the US with a 60 year world policy of no first strike by any nation. Radiation fallout would be utterly criminal.

Iran has the rights under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty to build a reactor for power. They have hadinspections. The Shah wanted a reactor built for their power needs and Cheney as a member of Gerald Ford's gov't said it was legitimate and was giving him one - until the Revolution came and it didn't get built. Israel, Pakistan, and India are not even signatories to the treaty and are in violation. THE US ITSELF is in violation. Iran is not. National Intelligence estimates place Iran's ability - not desire - to build a bomb at 4-10 years. Like the Baker Hamilton Study said -

UPJ would like a WMD-FREE ZONE in all the Middle East. That's a dream we have and most in the Middle East share.

For the US warmongering propaganda machine, the Nuclear issue has not been enough to drum up a war. Only 1 in 5 Amercians in the latest Polls this week think military
action is acceptable.

SO, then now we have the crap about weapons and roadside bombs as if being supplied by Iran. LIES. NO PROOF ala Gen Pace Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff at Pentagon. MORESO, what isn't reported is that 90% of attacks at US forces are by the Sunni insurgents who are as anti-Iran as the US. AND any sensible person should be aware of the worldwide weapons blackmarket which Desmond Tutu decried worldwide at Xmas time. And what of the many massive arsenals In Sadam's Iraq that the US military commanders left unguarded and were of course all systematically looted?

And we need to reiterate these points to people so they are keener than to believe the war propaganda being drummed up now - and to come louder soon - in the mainstream media by the Gov't.

The Neocons dream of Empire and control over all resources and the subservience of all gov'ts. They see the current day as a chance to deflect criticism and attention away from Iraq and to try to hold onto power in 2008 elections for the White House.
They wanted the oil and gas pipelines that run through the Caucaus's Mountains in Afghanistan. They wanted the rich oil reserves and they wanted permanent huge military bases in Iraq. Now they want Iran's oil and untapped natural gas reserves. They want forcible control of the Straits of Hormuz They also want dominance and they see Iran as a nation with wealth, water, large area. large population, and water -
a powerful nation that could greatly influence the Middle East - and they want US dominance without question and by force - not treaties and diplomacy.

China, Russia, and Indonesia have strong economic ties to Tehran and could be pushed into this war also.

What is also always forgotten amidst the rhetoric is that Iran's equally bellicose speaking President is a figurehed compared to The Supreme Council. His political faction lost all recent elections to moderate forces. His is by far not the only voice nor the voice of Iran. There are indeed other "voices." And now in the news is Khomeini's Comprehensive Peace treaty initiative to the US and Israel in 2003. One that Rice denied and has just been called on that lie by her underlings. One that Colin Powell said he "couldn't sell to the White House". One that definitely existed!!

UPJ stated that Congress was currently a weaker link in stopping war at Iran. Public pressure is needed. The US is trying to manufacture or trigger an incident - like the fake Gulf of Tonkin - to rally for a war. Israel could also be used as one to strike first - as if for their own future safety - and then the US come to their defense. Even though no defense treaty exists with Israel, Congress would
surely approve such a war.

What is needed is a "Bolland Ammendment", UPJ knows, an amendment in the 80's against Reagan's supporting the Contras against Nicaruaga. Currently Rep Jones has a bill and Rep Barbara Lee an even sronger one. Either could prohibit funds for war at Iran and serve as a "Bolland" ammendment. Sen Byrd of W Va, is currently writing one for
the Senate.

HOWEVER, the advice is that our job is best to put pressure by educating the public and reaching the media as to how "they lied then and they lie now". Lobby Congress indeed, but by building a stronger public awareness with which to influence them.

Nationwide local Rallies March 17-19 should very strongly speak out for diplomacy and against the dangers of War with Iran thereby putting big pressure on.

Some insider analysts even worry that March 17-19 might be too late.

Check UPJ's website for petitions and actions and new strategies that
the Steering Commitee may come up with
in the coming days.


Peace Up,
Michael Gomel
Activist San Diego

Labels: , ,

Bring Their Buddies Home

The below is from an email from Bring Their Buddies Home. I believe this is the third Bring Their Buddies Home memorial. My son and I went to the first, but I have to work tomorrow despite the President's Day holiday. But you can go! If you live south of Carlsbad, you can take the train. Last time, my son and I made a day of it.

Bring Their Buddies Home -- a Public Act of Art

Join us this Monday, Feb. 19th (Presidents' Day)
Hwy 101 (Carlsbad Blvd) at Tamarack Ave, Carlsbad
Arrive 9 - 9:30 AM to sign & and get positioned,
Wear Black, No Signs
Stand in silence 10:00 AM - 11:00 AM

On Monday, Feb. 19th (President's Day) hundreds of San Diego residents will come together in a collaborative effort to illustrate the tragic consequences of war and champion non-violent solutions to conflict, by being part of an Act of Art. You may remember that I organized a similar event in November 2005, the day after Thanksgiving.

The Bring Their Buddies Home Vigil will happen between 10:00 and 11:00 AM along Hwy 101 in Carlsbad, stretching north and south of Tamarack Ave. Everyone is invited to participate by standing in silence, dressed in black, with each person wearing a memorial page with the name of one of the fallen troops. The vigil is meant to declare, by our silent presence, that we honor the sacrifice of the U.S. troops who have died in Iraq and that it's time to Bring Their Buddies Home.

Bring your family and friends - the larger the turnout, the more effective our message will be. Here is a non-confrontational way to show that you support our troops AND want to bring them home.

The Press is already giving this event great coverage. Today's Local News covered it on the front page on Wednesday, and it was written up in the Union Tribune, Light Connection and Zengers. North County Time will have a stroy about it on Saturday. NPR & KPBS have called for interviews. This is going to be a historical event - please come be a part of it.

See for details.

Labels: , ,

Friday, February 16, 2007

Petition to the California Secretary of State

The following is the executive summary from a complaint and petition to be filed with the California Secretary of State by Ken Simpkins. The complaint covers many of the problems with recent elections in San Diego county, and requests that Debra Bowen investigate the situation. Please give it a look, and if you're from SD region, sign the petition. Let's show that citizens ARE concerned about the process and the security of our elections.

The complete complaint can be found here, and there are copies of the petition that can be printed out for signatures, and forwarded to Ken Simpkins. You can write to sospetition at for further details.

Executive Summary

The conduct of elections in San Diego County has raised significant concerns for the electorate. This complaint is meant to address some of the most serious concerns raised by the November 7, 2006, election, and to request that the Secretary of State’s Office investigate and report on the issues raised.

The perceptions of citizens are that the requirements for the certification of the Diebold election machines used in San Diego County have not been complied with. Requirements for acceptance testing and logic and accuracy testing have not been fully complied with. Requirements for maintaining a strict chain of custody for securing memory cards (ballot boxes) put in place to address vulnerabilities to tampering revealed by public and private studies have been violated. The requirement for removing election machines from service when security seals are discovered to be removed was ignored. Voting machines without seals were allowed to continue in service without regard to the risk that votes cast on the machines could be deemed illegal and discarded. The requirement that all available reports are to be printed from each machine at the end of the election and before the memory card is removed from the machine was not complied with. In San Diego County, all of the available reports are not printed, or are printed after the cards are removed from the machine.

While the People own their elections, elections officials in San Diego County appear to view the public as an adversary to an official agenda that seems more aligned with partisan and corporate interests than with democratic values. Citizens attempting to observe the conduct of the November election report interference by poll workers and elections officials in a way that undermines citizens’ rights. Attempts to document problems at the polls were subverted by poll workers and elections officials by misinterpreting and misapplying election protocols.

The Secretary of State’s Office issued a requirement that paper ballots be available to voters. A policy to undermine the paper ballot requirement revealed itself through the conduct of elections officials. Poll worker training included instructions to promote the machines and not to inform voters of the availability of paper ballots. Poll workers who raised questions about the machines were dismissed from their jobs for failing to prove their loyalty to the machines. A request made in court that notice be posted at polling places informing voters about the availability of paper ballots, and that an adequate supply of paper ballots be ensured, was opposed by officials. At least one poll worker who attempted to inform voters about paper ballots on election day was forcefully instructed to stop advising voters of their rights by her colleagues and was ostracized from the group for doing so. Elections officials refused to count regular paper ballots until after electronic ballots were counted.

The value and the intent of the one percent audit of the canvass were defeated by the manner in which the audit was performed. Election officials were informed of the precincts to be audited prior to performing the canvass. The audit results suggest that a statistically significant difference between the machine count and the paper count exists. When discrepancies in the audit were reported, the Registrar of Voters refused to explain the discrepancies prior to certifying the election.

more here....

Labels: ,

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Are We A Democracy?

On 2/14 I attended a panel discussion entitled, Are We a Democracy? Vote Counting in the United States which featured Dr. Steven Freeman the author of Was The 2004 Presidential Election Stolen?

Yes, I know it was Valentines Day. I made my hubby take me to dinner first.

Freeman also appeared on Full Focus later that evening and the video can be found here.

The other speakers were Attorney Paul Lehto who spoke on "Legal and Political Standards for Verifying Democracy" and Attorney Ken Simpkins who's talk was about the need for election reform in San Diego.

It was a great presentation on the state of our system of elections, and Freeman and Lehto will be taking it on the road. I'll get more info about when and where and will post it here. It was worthwhile and interesting, and I recommend hearing them on this issue.

Labels: ,

Friday, February 09, 2007

The Holt bill....again.

I've been reading over the Holt bill which has been introduced in the House of Representatives as an amendment to the Help America Vote Act, which sorely needs amending. I'm not finished mulling it over, and I still have questions. You should see my marked up copy of the bill! That said, I think it smells like progress. It's not perfect, but it's pretty good. Some of the positive aspects include:

  • It requires durable, archival quality paper ballots (more on that below)
  • It addresses the need for a system that can be used by the disabled, non-native speakers, and those with literacy problems.
  • It prohibits the use of "undisclosed" software in voting systems
  • It prohibits the use of wireless communication devices in voting systems. (hello? No brainer.)
  • It requires a chain of custody of the voting machines be tightened up, and that election officicals shall:

"ensure that all voting machines and related supplies to be used in the election shall remain secured within storage facilities arranged for by the election official and shall not be removed from such facilities until such time as they are to be delivered to the relevant polling place and secured at the polling place until used in the elections."

Long story short: No Sleepovers.

  • It says emergency paper ballots should not only be available, but they are required to post a notice saying you have the right to a paper ballot. These paper ballots are to be treated as regular ballots, and NOT provisional ballots (which sometimes don't get counted, ya know?)
  • It addresses conflict of interest issues with the voting machine manufactures and testing laboratories.
  • It provides money to the states for implementation.
  • It states that elections can not be certified until the audits are complete.

It also talks about audit requirements. I need to read this over and study a little more. I'll admit I don't know lots and lots about the current auditing requirements, so I don't have an opinion (yet) on whether this is an improvement or not. It does require each state to have an Election Audit Board comprised of members representing the political parties and one unaffiliated member so there are at least seven members on the state boards.


It doesn't abolish DREs, much to my disappointment. I'm not surprised though. I imagine any politician would be hesitant, from a political perspective, to consider flushing away all the money that's been spent on DREs. I still think the voting machine companies should be held accountable for selling us a bill of goods. I want a refund.

Anyway...we still have DREs to deal with, and unfortunately, the bill says that a DRE paper trail is a ballot! That's not a ballot!!! That's a cash register receipt!!! But, it's also not durable, archival paper....which makes me wonder if this bill would end up requiring the DREs to actually print a ballot that would then be hand counted or scanned with an optical scanner. It certainly can be interpreted that way.

"ballots..shall be marked, printed or recorded on durable paper of archival quality capable of withstanding multiple counts and recounts without compromising the fundamental integrity of the ballots, and capable of retaining the information marked, printed or recorded on them for the full duration of the retention and preservation period called for by title III of the Civil Rights Act of 1960 or under applicable State law, whichever is longer."

Do you think the "paper trail" from a DRE meets that standard? I don't.

As for other probems with the bill, Bev Harris of Black Box Voting has a list of her objections. I respect Bev and BBV very much, but I don't agree with all of her thoughts on the bill. I do agree that the EAC needs to be impartial and not "scandal-ridden" but if there's going to be federal involvement in elections like everyone's been begging for, there's gonna be a commission or department or agency or board or something. The fact that there's a federal board doesn't equate to a "dictatorship", but it needs to be run fairly, impartially, openly and in a non-partisan manner. As for the "mush" language, that's how most legislation is written, IME. If you read much legislation, you'll see that it's often intentionally vague. Sometimes it's for political cover, and sometimes its just about the need for wiggle room in implementation process. They're leaving the details to the administrators who are supposed to comply with both the letter and the spirit of the law. It's just that it's typical, and to me, not a reason to oppose the bill. And it's not's a version that amends another bill and that's how bills are written....eventually it gets put right into the original bill with strike-throughs on the edits and it's easier to see the context....but for me, that's not a reason to be oppose this bill.

One bill isn't going to solve all the problems in the system. Like it or not, the government runs on incremental change. It's slow. It's plodding. It's maddening. But it's the way it is. People in my circle of election integrity compadres are mostly not very happy about this bill, but after reading it myself I see it as a mostly positive step. It's not the whole trip, by any means (I mean, we still have these damn DREs) but it's progress. I'm not completely sold on the idea of all hand counted, all paper, all the time ballots, and computers are a fact of life. I believe we can use them in our elections, but not carelessly and thoughtlessly as we have thus far.

As I hear others talking about this bill one of their biggest problem seems to be the paper trail vs paper ballot issue, but I think the fact that ballots have to be on durable, archival quality paper that can withstand an audit will make the DRE paper trail obsolete. I would be much happier with this bill if it specifically said that paper trails are NOT ballots. And I'd be much much MUCH happier if the Holt bill said the voting machine manufacturers have to take back their garbage and give the taxpayers a big ol' refund, but I don't see THAT happening anytime soon. This is pretty good for now. It still needs some work, but it's pretty good, and I'm not willing to completely toss out the good, in search of the perfect. I think we can work to improve existing legislation AND fight for hand counted ballots at the same time.

So there's my blah blah blah after a preliminary reading of the Holt bill. Please stay tuned ...

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

As usual, Brad Blog is the leading source of info on election integrity issues. John Bonifaz was a guest blogger today, and he makes some good points about the Holt bill that was introduced today. Long story needs work. It's not ready for prime time. PFAW endorses it, but I can't agree as long as the bill says DREs with paper trails are good enough. I don't like the touch screens. I want paper ballots. It's ok with me if they're scanned, but they need to be available for recount. Those cash register rolls on the DREs are not ballots.

Here’s the bottom line: The DRE technology is fundamentally flawed for recording and counting our votes. The Holt bill, unless amended, will further codify into law the use of this technology, piling onto the disaster of HAVA (the Help America Vote Act of 2002) a new disaster.


We can and we should press for the principled position here: an amendment to the Holt bill that would ban the continued use of DREs and require a real paper ballot. Otherwise, we're going to wake up in 2008 realizing the new disaster we helped to create.

Labels: , ,