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ISSUE #114
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Features

ArrowSchlep Boys
Failing forward in one act

Allan Uthman

ArrowThe Britney Budget
Matt Taibbi

ArrowEeny, Meeny, Miny, Moe
Blogger and journalist Brad Friedman of The Brad Blog on the hijacking of democracy and more

ArrowObama
The best BS artist since Slick Willy

Matt Taibbi

ArrowSweet Nothings
Lies my paper told me

Allan Uthman

ArrowMenace in Seat 36F
Based on a True Story

Michael J. Smith

ArrowBEAST gets poetic on dat ass!
Saul Williams schools us on Hip Hop and our choice of lunch

ArrowCelebrity Buttholes Will Be the End of Us
A. Monkey

ArrowThe BEAST Melanin / Electability Index

ArrowThe Truth Spin
Sometimes, honesty really is the best policy

Allan Uthman

ArrowTV Highlights
CBSs Numb3rs signals the end of the end of the American Empire

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

Departments
ArrowKino Korner: Movies
The Abandoned, Wild Hogs, The Number 23, Zodiac, Reno 911!: Miami, Amazing Grace, Black Snake Moan, Shooter, The Astronaut Farmer, Inland Empire

ArrowBEAST-O-Scopes
As divined by your ethereal guide

Arrow[sic] - Letters
The Pussy of the Christ, How Great We Art, Dumb Shit, PhD, All You Need is Loathe and more

 

Eeny, Meeny, Miny, Moe

Do you think that the Democratic gains in the midterm elections have had a deflating effect on the election integrity movement?

Actually, by and large no, and I’m happy to say that because I was concerned about that. I think it has had a deflating effect only in a very small respect, in that the general public out there—the folks who were terrified, “Oh, are they going to throw another election?” Those people have turned their attention to other things for the moment. But the election integrity movement as a whole is really making as much noise and raising as much hell as ever. And that is good to see, because the entire movement sort of came out of 2000, and then certainly 2004, and you had a lot of progressive folks, folks on the left who made it up. Now, mind you, there are a bunch of Republicans and libertarians and intellectually honest conservatives—when you can find them—that are in the movement as well, but by and large there’s a lot of progressives. And I did have those concerns, and it has not come to pass. In fact, in many ways it has made the fight a lot easier, because there was that notion, the sore loser, sour grapes notion that had always been used; “Oh you guys are just mad because you can’t win elections.” And now folks like that can say, “We won the election and we are still mad.” I used to hear that a lot: “You’re just an angry lefty who is angry that Kerry didn’t win,” and I always had to point out, “Well, frankly, I didn’t vote for John Kerry.” It has never really been about that for me. So I think that it has actually been good. I also think what happened in Florida-13 in many ways has been a godsend.

Tell us a little bit about the problems in Florida’s 13th.

I’ll give you the short version: Essentially, you’ve got a race decided by just 369 votes, and yet 18,000 votes completely disappeared. That’s a problem. And these are on paperless, touch screen voting machines. And when I say disappeared it means that 18,000 voters appear to have not voted only in that race, but only in that particular county—I think district 13 makes up about 5 different counties—and only on those touch screen DRE voting machines—DRE is direct recording electronic. So it was a huge undervote rate, some 15%, even higher in some precincts, and in fact, what the bad guys have been saying here is that they just didn’t want to vote; they were angry with both Jennings and Buchanan; it was a dirty campaign, whatever. It doesn’t bear out, because in fact the other counties in that same race had normal undercount rates in the same race. And even in Sarasota County itself, on the paper ballots, the absentee paper ballots, you had a normal undervote rate. So there really is no explanation for it other than something went wrong with those machines. And even the only expert to be put on the stand by the voting machine company, ES&S [Election Systems and Software], has admitted that were it not for problems with the voting machines, Jennings would have won. So, it’s pretty extraordinary and in one sense a bullet has been dodged in that the balance of the House was not hanging on that one race.

What kind of legal remedy is there for Jennings at this point?

There are a couple. There are two concurrent lawsuits in the state of Florida, one by Christine Jennings and one by voters that are essentially calling for a revote and they are fighting now to get the source code to those voting machines, and incredibly, the judge down there ruled initially that they could not have the source code because it’s the private trade secret of the company, which underscores pretty much everything that is wrong with this idea of private companies counting our vote with secret software so that we can never see what’s going on. That is one remedy; the other remedy is up in Congress, the Federal Contested Elections Act, where they can file essentially for a ruling from Congress, which constitutionally has the right to determine if members have been seated properly. They’ve currently seated Buchanan provisionally; they have the option to keep him seated, to remove him, to seat Jennings instead, or to remove Buchanan and seat nobody, in which case it would trigger a revote down there in Florida, which is probably the fairest way to do it.

Dianne Feinstein has asked the Government Accounting Office to do an investigation of the matter. She’s in charge of the Senate Rules Committee. Over in the house, [Juanita] Millender-McDonald is in charge of the House Administration Committee and she has made it clear that she would like an investigation and would like to see the plaintiffs down there in Florida get the source code to see what has happened. The state ran an audit; the audit itself had all kinds of problems. I’m sure you’re not surprised; it’s Florida, so there are a bunch of partisan Republicans on the committee, as well as the guy sort of overseeing the whole thing is the guy who certified those machines in the first place for the state of Florida. So, you know, he would have a bit of a stake in coming out with those reports saying everything is fine. So, that’s what’s going on, but it’s really good news, even though we dodged a bullet. Had George Allen decided to challenge his election in Virginia, we would have another constitutional crisis on our hands. So that’s how close we are with all of this stuff, that’s why it is so important that we get it right, and that’s why, though it’s good news that this is highlighting this issue, the bad news is that folks out there are under the impression that paper trails would have made difference down in Sarasota. Paper trails would have made no difference. We need paper ballots, not paper trails on these touch screen machines.

Because the undervoting wouldn’t leave a trail at any rate…

That’s right. The fact of the matter is that 18,000 voters failed to either notice or be able to change their undervote when it was right there in front of their face on the computer screen, so where these folks get the notion that they are going to notice it on a tiny little piece of paper, checking it a second time—where they get the idea that is going to make any difference is somewhat beyond me. And studies have shown that people don’t actually check those so-called voter verified paper audit trails, and remember, with 18,000 votes, all you need is 369 of those people not to have the time or interest to notice that there is a problem in that race for us to have the same result. So it is somewhat maddening, because I even see folks who I consider to be on the good side of this fight, Common Cause and People for the American Way and so forth, out there telling people if we only had a paper trail in Florida this would not have happened. Baloney.

Do you recommend a hand count?

No—well a hand count is fine, but optical scan works well enough if we have the proper audits of those optical scan ballots. But the key here is that you need a paper ballot. No matter how it’s counted, you need a paper ballot.

So you can go back and look at it?

Not just so that you can go back and look at it; so you can count it in the first place. I mean, that’s what’s remarkable, even about this new Rush Holt legislation [HR-811, the Voter Confidence and Increased Accessibility Act], which I should mention I worked on with their office, and hopefully was able to improve it quite a bit. That said, I still can’t support it at this time, because it will allow for DRE voting machines, which means we will have ballots that are never counted. But it’s quite remarkable to ponder the idea that folks like me are actually fighting for people to be able to mark a ballot, and then to have that ballot actually counted, by anyone at any time. I mean, it’s like I’m trying to convince the Democrats to invent the wheel or something.

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