If you haven't noticed, a lot of the links in these daily "Democracy in Danger" posts I've been writing have sent you to BradBlog.com. The man behind the BradBlog is one Brad Friedman, a guy absolutely bent on protecting our democracy--but not by fighting terrorists or bailing out the banks, but by doing his best to call attention to voting problems.

Yep, voting is the most basic of rights we have in this country and is, quite literally, the way we make sure we get to keep all of our other rights. See, that's the big myth our country is founded upon--the idea that there are certain inalienable rights granted to us by our creator. The reality is that our rights are actually granted to us by each other. That's right--each one of us agrees that every human should be allowed to do certain things. You and I protect our own rights and the rights of each other. The way we make sure our government doesn't take those rights away is by voting the right people into office. If the voting process itself is flawed someway, well, you can see how democracy can find itself in danger.

This is where Brad Friedman comes in. He has spent years covering voting irregularities here in the US. He's done absurd amounts of research and dedicated nearly every post in his blog to presenting news and information regarding voting rights in America. Vote switching, voter caging and voter suppression in general are some of the specifics he covers. The man is an Internet superhero for voters across the country.

So, I don't know if they give the Pulitizer Prize to bloggers, but if they do, Brad Friedman should get it for his dogged blogging on the topic of voting.

He is truly fighting the good fight and deserves to be recognized for it. Oh and he's a fellow-independent--he goes after both parties for their tactics, even blaming the Democrats for not standing up for themselves as sections of America that are likely to vote Democrat have their votes threatened.

So, NOTE TO PULITZER PEOPLE: BRAD FRIEDMAN FOR THE PULITZER, PLEASE!

Brad Friedman is the Internet's Edward R. Murrow for voting rights.

OK, now on to the news round up for today's Democracy In Danger:

PA Counties Said Unprepared to Serve Voters, Meet Court Order for Emergency Paper Ballots
Election Official: '80 percent of Counties Do Not Have Emergency Ballots'...
www.bradblog.com/?p=6597
What this story boils down to is this: counties in Pennsylvania aren't likely to have enough paper ballots should half of the electronic machines fail (as required by a recent directive). If that many machines fail, that means a huge number of people will be unable to vote with them. Think of this like not having enough lifeboats on the Titanic for everyone aboard.

Early & Absentee Voting Scandals in D.C. & L.A.
www.bradblog.com/?p=6594
It turns out that thousands of voters in DC never got their absentee ballots and will now have to vote in person. Meanwhile LA, "the world's largest voting jurisdiction," according to Friedman, has just a single early voting location. Well, if I were still an LA resident, you can bet I'd be heading over there right now to check it out. As it is, I don't believe NYC does early voting, but I should look into it.

I couldn't find anything new on voting irregularities as CNN.com this afternoon, so I checked out MSNBC.com instead and found a couple stories worth checking out. Here they are:

10 choke points for Election Day
What could go wrong? E-voting glitches, legal challenges and more
www.msnbc.msn.com/id/27464554
Sadly, while this article does talk about voting problems, it calls the intentional suppression of votes and illegitimate voters as "funny business," also managing to make this a partisan issue, rather than pointing out that everyone should want all votes counted. The article goes on to show a serious lack of understanding of the challenges facing voters. The author seems to think of election laws as forces of nature, where the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) came down from On High, requiring states to use voter registration databases that can be matched to IDs. If there's a typo in the database some "persnickety" states will not allow the voter to vote. The author of the article also seems to think "vote-flipping" is just a magical "phenomenon" that "will allocate your vote to the wrong candidate."

Isn't that neat? He calls it "misallocation" due to "miscalibrated" touchscreens--instead of calling it what it is: faulty technology. Once again, I fall back to my position that if my iPhone touchscreen doesn't need calibration, why does American democracy's touchscreen?

I think I'm going to have to tear that article a new one in a separate post. It serves well as an example of how the MSM (MainStream Media) thinks our democracy is not important. Why else would author, Alan Boyle, use words like "persnickety" to describe the states that take the HAVA seriously?

Here's the other MSNBC.com article:

Voter registration smashes records
States say 188 million have signed up to vote — but experts add caveats
www.msnbc.msn.com/id/27459551
This article, while not directly reporting on voting irregularities, does provide a symbolic warning for all of us to expect MAJOR voting issues on November 4. Even if half of those 188 million new voters actually show up to vote on Tuesday, that means 94 million more people will be showing up at polling places compared to previous years. That's a lot more pressure than those poling places are likely used to. Already (see above) we see that Pennsylvania won't have enough paper ballots should more than 50% of their electronic ballot machines crash. This is going to be the messiest damn election EVER. Geh--that article is written by Alan Boyle, too. Sheesh--doesn't MSNBC.com have anyone else on board to write about elections?? HEY! MSNBC.com! I'm looking for work! Why not hire me? I seem to know WAY more than this Boyle guy when it comes to elections!!

:P

Voter machine erratically switches selection
Equipment picks Ralph Nader when John McCain is chosen
worldnetdaily.com/index.php?fa=PAGE.view&pageId=79565
This is more coverage of that video that shows a West VA election official demonstrating how sometimes touchscreen machines need to be recalibrated. The funny thing is, even after he recalibrates it, the machine still switches to a candidate other than Obama when Obama is touched.

Video spurs concerns over West Virginia voting machines
www.timeswv.com/westvirginia/local_story_304194135.html
Here's more coverage of the video. However, this time it seems like West VA officials are claiming it doesn't show anything wrong at all. The article refers to comments made by DepSecO'State Sarah Bailey who apparently explained that:

...the machines allow voters to select a straight ticket and then depart from that for individual races. She said Secretary of State Betty Ireland plans to complain about the video to the U.S. Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.


I've just watched the video again and I think I see what Bailey means here. For some odd reason the official touches the button for "straight Democrat" and Obama lights up--but then, without saying anything, he inexplicably hits the "Nader" button. Then he does something else, the screen flashes and then he sees the Nader choice and apparently forgets that he, himself just pressed it seconds ago. So, it's possible that the machine works fine.

Of course, this still doesn't excuse why an uncalibrated machine was actively taking votes during early voting. It also doesn't explain why voting machines are so crappily made that they have touchscreens that need to be calibrated when technology as ubiquitous as the iPhone doesn't. It also doesn't excuse the fact that there is no way to prove you voted one way or another with an electronic ballot machine. You simply must trust the technology to not fail.

W. Virginia Gives E-Voting VP an Award While Machines Malfunction
A day after West Virginia secretary of state Betty Ireland held a press conference to address vote-switching problems with touchscreen voting machines made by Election Systems & Software, she presented an award of merit to an ES&S vice president, who had abruptly and mysteriously left the company in May after 11 years of service, according to the Charleston Gazette.
blog.wired.com/27bstroke6/2008/10/w-virginia-give.html
This just shows you how absurd our leaders can be. Giving awards to people for designing generally untrustworthy machines that can't provide absolute proof that a citizen voted one way or another.

So, that's it for today regarding election irregularity news. I'll post more later if anything new comes along, but today is Halloween so I may not hear about it until tomorrow. Either way, I'll be posting about voting irregularities when ever I think it's necessary.