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Melissa G Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-04-06 10:29 PM
Original message
Election Reform, Fraud, & Related News ...Sunday, March 5th
Election Reform, Fraud, & Related News Sunday, March 5th

All members welcome and encouraged to participate.


Please post Election Reform, Fraud, & Related News on this thread.

If you can:
1. Post stories and announcements you find on the web.

2. Post stories using the new Spring 2006 Edition of "Election Fraud and Reform News Directory" listed here:

3. Re-post stories and announcements you find on DU, providing a link to the original thread with thanks to the Original Poster, too.

4. Start a discussion thread by re-posting a story you see on this thread.

Please "Recommend" for the Greatest Page (it's the link just below).

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Melissa G Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-04-06 10:49 PM
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1. DeLay Will Face Voters' Verdict This Week

DeLay Will Face Voters' Verdict This Week
Indicted Republican Campaigns Quietly For Texas Primary

By Sylvia Moreno and Chris Cillizza
Washington Post Staff Writers
Sunday, March 5, 2006; Page A05


But for the first time -- with DeLay under criminal indictment, rebuked three times by the House ethics committee and linked to former GOP lobbyist Jack Abramoff, who has pleaded guilty to political corruption charges -- the couple is not sure whether their congressman will again get their votes.

In Tuesday's Republican primary election here, undecided voters such as the Deatses could make the crucial difference for DeLay, whose hold on the seat has never been challenged seriously. But emboldened by DeLay's legal and ethical troubles, three Republicans have stepped up to oppose his renomination.

If DeLay emerges as the party's candidate, the road to reelection will not get any smoother. Former representative Nick Lampson, who has no opponent in the Democratic primary, has been running since last year and, with $1.4 million, has slightly more cash on hand than DeLay, according to the latest campaign finance report. A Houston Chronicle poll in January showed Lampson with a lead over DeLay of eight percentage points.

It will not help DeLay that his district is more Democratic, ironically by his own making. DeLay's legal and ethical entanglements stem from his efforts to redistrict Texas to elect more Republicans to the U.S. House.

Always a strong candidate in his own races, DeLay surrendered GOP voters in the realignment to bolster some other Republican districts. Now, after contending with indictment and departure from the House leadership, he could be facing the loss of the very seat he used to rise to power
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Melissa G Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-04-06 10:58 PM
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2. S..D. Conservatives Seek Roe V. Wade Fight

S.D. Conservatives Seek Roe V. Wade Fight

By CARSON WALKER, Associated Press Writer
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. - South Dakota is suddenly in the vanguard of the movement to overturn Roe v. Wade. But in truth, it was a role that was decades in the making.

Since the 1973 Supreme Court decision establishing the right to an abortion, the state Legislature has become increasingly dominated by lawmakers from both parties promoting what they see as traditional family values. In fact, in the 1990s, South Dakota's Democrats dropped abortion rights from their party platform.

The conservative shift culminated last week in passage of a bill to outlaw nearly all abortions a measure aimed ultimately at getting Roe v. Wade overturned.

"At one time, the Legislature was pretty evenly divided between Republicans and Democrats," said Thelma Underberg, executive director of National Abortion Rights Action League Pro-choice South Dakota. "But through redistricting, they managed to get rid of a number of women ... (who) were progressive."
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Melissa G Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-04-06 11:13 PM
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3. TX Democrats' governor contest one of leading state races Tuesday

Democrats' governor contest one of leading state races Tuesday
Associated Press
AUSTIN - Democrats may be the down-and-out party in Texas, but their primary for governor is among the most lively of the statewide races in Tuesday's election.
Former congressmen Chris Bell and Bob Gammage have traveled the state criticizing Republican Gov. Rick Perry, and sparring with each other some, as they fight to be the Democratic nominee.
Bell, 46, known for filing the first House ethics complaint against former majority leader Tom DeLay, describes himself as the future of the state's Democratic Party. Gammage, 67, a former legislator and Texas Supreme Court justice, argues he's the strongest voice against what he calls corruption stretching from DeLay in Washington to Perry in Austin.
Whoever wins advances to the November general election, presumably to face Perry and any independent candidates who make the ballot.

With only minor opposition in Tuesday's GOP primary, Perry appeared nonplussed as the election approached. It's his eighth run for state office, and he has never lost.
"I've been doing this for 22 years. This is just another day at the office for me, and as will Tuesday be and then there will be Wednesday," Perry said in Houston, when asked about his primary contest.

Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn and author Kinky Friedman are running for governor as independents. To get on the November ballot, they have to each collect 45,540 signatures from registered voters who don't cast ballots in a party primary.
Voter turnout in primaries typically is low. It's possible the presence of prominent independent candidates waiting to circulate petitions could push turnout lower than usual.
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Melissa G Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-04-06 11:23 PM
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4. Santorum's satisfaction rating is tied to the president's.

Last Updated: March 4, 2006 - 5:15 AM EST
Poll shows Rendell, Swann too close to call
Casey had double-digit lead over Santorum in a hypothetical election. Santorum's satisfaction rating is tied to the president's.
By John L. Micek
Call Harrisburg Bureau

HARRISBURG | Eight months before Election Day, Democratic Gov. Ed Rendell and Republican Lynn Swann are in a virtual dead heat, even though Pennsylvanians have serious questions about the former football star's qualifications to lead, a new Morning Call/Muhlenberg College poll has found.

Rendell holds a 46 percent to 43 percent edge over Swann, a political newcomer, the statewide survey of 668 voters shows. Conducted Feb. 25 through Thursday, its results include voters who are solidly committed or just leaning toward one candidate or another. The poll's margin of error is plus or minus 3.8 percentage points.

The same survey shows Democratic state Treasurer Bob Casey Jr. with a double-digit lead over U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa.

In a hypothetical match-up held today, Casey would defeat Santorum 49 percent to

37 percent in one of the most closely watched U.S. Senate contests in the country. Again, those results include solid supporters and leaners.
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Melissa G Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-04-06 11:35 PM
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5. Burlington, Vt., to become first to elect mayor using instant runoff

Burlington, Vt., to become first to elect mayor using instant runoff

By Ross Sneyd

9:51 a.m. March 4, 2006

BURLINGTON, Vt. Runoff elections are typically cumbersome processes, taking weeks and sometimes months to determine a winner. Burlington is going to do it all instantly.
In an innovation known as instant runoff voting, the results of Tuesday's five-candidate election for mayor and whatever runoffs are needed to settle it will all be known soon after polls close.

For the first time in a mayoral election in the United States, voters will mark their ballots for their favorite candidate, along with their second, third, fourth and fifth choices.

If none of the five gets 50 percent of the vote on the first round, the candidate with the lowest vote total would be eliminated. Then the second choice of the voters who made that candidate their initial pick would be counted, and so on.

As soon as somebody gets to 50 percent, it stops, said Jo LaMarche, the city's election director.
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Melissa G Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-04-06 11:45 PM
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6. Elections: The Ohio Vote Debacle by Bob Fitrakis & Harvey Wasserman

March 4, 2006

Elections: The Ohio Vote Debacle
by Bob Fitrakis & Harvey Wasserman

While life goes on during the Bush2 nightmare, so does the research on what really happened in Ohio in 2004 to give George W. Bush a second term.

In our 2005 compendium "How the GOP Stole America's 2004 Election & Is Rigging 2008," we list more than a hundred different ways the Republican Party denied the democratic process in the Buckeye State. For a book of documents to be published Sept. 11 by the New Press entitled "What Happened in Ohio," we are continuing to dig.

It turns out, we missed more than a few of the dirty tricks Karl Rove, Ken Blackwell and their GOP used to get themselves four more years. In an election won with death by a thousand cuts, some that are still hidden go very deep. Over the next few weeks we will list them as they are verified.

One of them has just surfaced to the staggering tune of 175,000 purged voters in Cuyahoga County (Cleveland), the traditional stronghold of the Ohio Democratic Party. An additional 10,000 that registered to vote there for the 2004 election were lost due to "clerical error."
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Melissa G Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-04-06 11:52 PM
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7. State orders security safeguards for voting machines
Thanks to Amaryllis for the link and the DU discussion here

Published Friday, March 3, 2006
State orders security safeguards for voting machines

Associated Press Writer

The state has recommended on Friday that elections officials across Florida enhance security safeguards for all voting systems after tests in California and Tallahassee exposed weaknesses.

Leon County Supervisor of Elections Ion Sancho called the technical advisory a vindication of his findings last year that some Diebold optical-scan voting machines can be hacked by election office insiders to change results.

"In other words, you could steal the election and no one would ever know," Sancho said.


Sancho said the California testing verified his earlier results, which had been disputed by the Division of Elections and Diebold. Sancho contends he has been ostracized by the voting machine industry as a result of his dispute with Diebold.

For the rest:
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Melissa G Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-04-06 11:57 PM
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8. Diebold Whistleblower Facing Charges

S F Bay area indymedia..

Diebold Whistleblower Facing Charges
by messenger Saturday, Mar. 04, 2006 at 5:01 PM
An open letter to Bruce McPherson and the citizens of the United States

As California goes, so goes the nation. While a $4 billion company and the California secretary of state flaunt the law, an honest citizen is charged with a felony and may face jail time. His crime? Releasing documents describing Diebold's criminal acts.

We will release a full story on the courageous Steve Heller shortly. You could not ask for a more pure and honest whistleblower. This is a man who saw something that he knew was wrong, and made sure it got to authorities. Soon after his documents got to the California secretary of state and to the California attorney general, then-sec. state Kevin Shelley decertified Diebold and recommended criminal prosecution of Diebold.


The only one who was prosecuted is a quiet honest citizen who made sure the documents reached authorities. It is now two years later. The Los Angeles County District Attorney has waited until the attention was off the election to quietly prosecute Steve Heller.

While Steve Heller is charged with felonies for (a) looking at a computer screen and (b) making a copy, and (c) having said copy delivered to the authorities, the new Calif. secretary of state is engaging in a frightening pattern of ignoring the law.
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Melissa G Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-05-06 12:02 AM
Response to Original message
9. "Definitive Proof" of Election Fraud?
Edited on Sun Mar-05-06 12:04 AM by Melissa G
Thanks to LongTomH for the post below
DU discussion thread here...
Original message
"Definitive Proof" of Election Fraud?
The proprietor of the X-Ray Oscar Poppa Lima blog has found, what he considers "definitive proof" of election fraud in 2000, 2004, and probably 2002:

In the 2004 presidential election, an electronic voting machine (manufacturer: ES&S) in Youngstown, Ohio (Mahoning County) recorded NEGATIVE 25 MILLION votes for Kerry.

Computer professionals will realize what has probably happened; a signed integer field has gone negative. In a signed integer field, the leftmost bit controls the sign, positive or negative. So, if you try to enter a humongous value - say 4 billion / 4,000,000,000, actually anything more than 2,147,483,647, that leftmost bit gets turned on. The arithmetic chip in the machine is just an electronic adding machine; positive or negative only gets noticed at the software level.

What the XOPL blogger thinks happend is:

It's pretty simple really: I'm a computer scientist, and every time I've talked to a fellow geek I've said that if the electronic voting machines can be hacked/rigged that some white hat ("good" hacker) out there would only have to register some ridiculous number of votes say a number greater than the population of the USA or the population of the planet in order to bring the issue to the table for the media and every America. That kind of move would be an obvious sign of tampering, as compared to somebody who wanted to actually sway the election results who would simply only change a few thousand or hundred votes here and there.

At least, that's what he would do:

If I was going to make a point about the complete terror of electronic voting machines, I would register a ridiculously huge number of votes for one candidate in order to force a National dialogue. And I've shown above that SOMEBODY DID THIS.

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Melissa G Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-05-06 12:26 AM
Response to Original message
10. Daily voting News by John Gideon - Bradblog link...

Thanks to John Gideon and Bradblog for faithfully bringing us great reporting and wonderfully comprehensive lists of voting news!

'Daily Voting News' For March 04, 2006
Guest Blogged by John Gideon of and VoteTrustUSA.Org

The state of Florida has decided that just maybe they need to do something about security and the Diebold machines. They issued a technical advisory that tends to vindicate Ion Sancho. In New York advocacy groups, individuals and civil rights groups have filed to intervene in the DoJ suit against the state. And it appears that Burlington, Vermont will be the first US city to elect it's mayor using "instant run-off voting"....

CA: Opinion - Why voting registrars seek snail mail ballots LINK

CA: State official visits county voting office LINK

CO: Larimer County - County tries out new voting machine (Diebold TS) LINK

FL: State Issues 'Technical Advisory' for 'Security Enhancements' on 'All Voting Systems' in State! LINK

FL: State orders security safeguards for voting machines LINK

FL: State issues new voting guidelines LINK

FL: Voting bosses must boost security LINK

FL: State: Absentee vote count 'will not be a problem' in elections LINK

IL: Cook County - Claypool takes early voting to court LINK

NC: Craven County - Craven bid to modify voting booths with new equipment gains approval LINK

NC: Person County - New voting machines expected in next 2 weeks (ES&S OS) LINK

NY: New York Voters and Civic Groups Intervene in DOJ Lawsuit LINK

PA: Fayette County - New voting machines needed in Fayette LINK

PA: Luzerne County - Voting boss promises new devices to be ready (ES&S iVotronic) LINK

VT: Burlington to become first to elect mayor using instant runoff LINK

Link to John Gideon and bradblog here
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Melissa G Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-05-06 12:38 AM
Response to Original message
11. Democracy being stolen

Democracy being stolen



Even with all the corruption and millions of dollars spent on mindless campaign advertising, nothing is more precious and valuable than a vote. It is the equivalent of free will given to man from God. To no other entity should you ever give up the sanctity of your vote or your free will.

Well, at least we still have our free will. Your vote in Riverside County has been outsourced to Sequoia Voting Systems, apparently owned by a company out of Venezuela. Precise information is elusive, because it can be difficult to track corporate ownership in these times of acquisitions and globalization.

The Republican Party essentially owns voting machines in the USA. This is not bad news for Democrats; it is a devastating blow to democracy. Votes are not stolen from a political party ---- they can only be taken away from their rightful owners, the American people.

Weeks before the 2004 election, New York Congressman Peter King was captured on video saying, "It's over. The election's over, we won. It's all over but the counting and we'll take care of the counting."

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Melissa G Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-05-06 01:01 AM
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12. Poll workers to verify voting machine information

Poll workers to verify voting machine information
By George Bennett

Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Beginning in the fall, precinct paperwork will include a space for poll workers to write down the date and time as it appears on electronic voting machines at the beginning and end of election day. That's an attempt to allay tampering fears fanned by Harris at a recent public meeting.

Harris, a nationally known critic of paperless voting who founded the group Black Box Voting, told the county's Elections Technology Advisory Committee on Feb. 23 that odd dates on event logs from about 40 of the county's approximately 4,300 voting machines in the 2004 election raised "insider tampering" concerns.

Elections Supervisor Arthur Anderson, who capitalized on concerns about electronic voting to win office in 2004, says he doesn't see anything nefarious in the incorrect dates on about 1 percent of machines. But he pledged to look into the matter.

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Melissa G Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-05-06 10:09 AM
Response to Original message
13. MD Lawmakers head into overdrive

Sunday March 5, 2006
Lawmakers head into overdrive



Much of the contention started at the very beginning of the session in January, when legislators spent most of the first three weeks voting to override 17 of Gov. Robert Ehrlich's vetoes from last year's session - including a number of controversial election bills.

Del. LeRoy E. Myers, R-Washington/Allegany, voted against most of the overrides, but especially opposed the three vetoed election bills. They permit voters to vote absentee on demand, to vote early and to vote outside their designated precincts. Myers and other Republicans contended that without more time to prepare for such changes before this year's elections, the state could be vulnerable to widespread voter fraud - particularly with potentially close races for governor and the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Paul Sarbanes.

On Friday, Myers was one of only three members of the House Ways and Means Committee to vote against sending a bill to the full House that will prevent the state from using its touch-screen voting terminals this year, reverting instead to the optical-scan system used in elections past. Using the optical-scan system, the bill's sponsors argue, will allow a paper record of a voter's ballot choices; such records aren't available with touch-screen terminals.

Providing optical-scan systems throughout the state will cost an estimated $12.5 million. Myers said proponents of the bill were "bowing to the wishes of a very few, and wasting money" by putting the touch-screen systems already purchased "on the shelf."
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Algorem Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-05-06 12:54 PM
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14. Documentary about dirty Newark election up for an Oscar tonight
Edited on Sun Mar-05-06 01:04 PM by Algorem
(saw it on PBS a few months a go,there's a scene at Booker campaign headquarters,I think, where one of his campaign workers is on phone and she says that one of their people at a precinct polling place is telling her that a voting machine (or machines)is rigged there.can't seem to find a specific reference to that scene on the net,though.)

Documentary about Newark up for an Oscar on Sunday

Associated Press Writer

NEWARK, N.J. -- Since his Oscar nomination for director, producer and writer of a documentary about the 2002 Newark mayor's race, Marshall Curry has been getting lots of calls.

From people he hasn't heard from in 20 years, from agents, from distributors wanting to show "Street Fight" in movie theaters and on DVDs.

His 82-minute film chronicles the bare-knuckles race for mayor of New Jersey's largest city between Cory Booker, a 32-year-old Rhodes Scholar and Yale Law School graduate, and Sharpe James, the popular incumbent first elected mayor in 1986. James won by 3,500 votes.

Curry, 36, said he doesn't think he'll take home a golden statue on Sunday...


There's a saying that democracy is a contact sport. The Academy Award-nominated film "Street Fight" gives you a ringside seat. Even if you know the outcome from national reports, or lived in Newark at the time, this insider's chronicle of the 2002 race for mayor in Newark, New Jersey is riveting, delivering a dramatic account of youthful energy and ideals running headlong into old-guard machine politics and racial demagoguery. These opposing forces are, of course, nothing new in American elections. But, in Newark in 2002, a black mayor was using these tactics against a black challenger.

Early on, a staffer for Cory Booker, the upstart challenger in the race, warns that this election will be decided in the streets. "Street Fight" lives up to the staffer's prediction and to its own title as the campaign between Booker and four-time Mayor Sharpe James devolves from dirty tricks to intimidation to the threat of worse. The film crew itself becomes a target for Mayor James' supporters and the mayor himself who see everyone as either for them or against them.

At first, the 32-year old Booker, a recently elected councilman for the city's poor Central Ward, mounts a rather respectful challenge to the incumbent. In Newark, after all, politics are non-partisan, and both men are Democrats. Booker recognizes that the mayor, representing a first generation of black politicians who came up the hard way, is personally popular and has raised Newark's stature with corporate, downtown-centered development, including a new Performing Arts Center and minor-league baseball stadium.

But Booker questions the value of the mayor's policies to the city's poorer neighborhoods and residents. He cites Newark's sky-high murder rate, a poverty level over 30%, and an astounding high school dropout rate of 60%. Booker suggests that it's time for a new generation to bring Newark's downtown "renaissance" to all the city's residents...

...what do you see as the similarities and differences in the way the James campaign was run and the way the Republicans ran the 2004 presidential campaign? I'm especially interested in your comments as it pertains to the before mentioned employment of stereotypes.

Curry: In addition to the things that the James campaign was saying on the record to reporters, there was an even more extreme "whisper campaign" that was taking place on the ground. Mayor James is a remarkably skilled politician who has never lost an election in 32 years, and he generally knows when to be charming and folksy (e.g. making the speech in the Portuguese section of Newark) and when to be crass (calling Booker "white" and a "snake" at small gatherings where there were no press.) To answer your second question, I think one of the main lessons of the Newark election is that a lie told over and over can be very powerful particularly when it is not challenged by the press or by a seasoned, aggressive campaign. We were editing the film during the 2004 presidential election, and when I first heard the Republican attacks on Kerry's war record I thought to myself, "Wow, this really seems familiar." However one might feel about Kerry's positions, it is indisputable that he was a war hero who put his life on the line answering his country's call, and to question that seemed akin to questioning whether Cory Booker is "really black." ... /

A Political 'Street Fight' in Newark

By Ada Calhoun, Posted March 1, 2006.

How did a mayoral election in corruption-ravaged Newark, N.J., become the subject of a surprisingly suspenseful Oscar-nominated documentary?

Few cities in America are as rife with both corruption and civic pride as Newark, N.J. Documentary filmmaker Marshall Curry spent the 2002 election season absorbing plenty of both as he attempted to make a film about the candidates for mayor: the long-time incumbent, Sharpe James, and the 32-year-old upstart, Cory Booker.

Both are black, but James grew up poor while Booker was raised in the suburbs. James is an everyman making a six-figure salary; Booker is a golden boy living in the projects he's trying to revitalize. James' administration is notorious for corruption; Booker is as squeaky clean as they come. When James starts playing dirty -- spreading damaging lies about Booker, harassing Booker's supporters, even going after Curry -- the campaign turns brutal, turning the documentary into a thriller about how ugly the political machine can be.

We spoke with Curry shortly after "Street Fight" (which showed on PBS and is now available on DVD) was nominated for the Best Documentary Feature Oscar...

A rough-and-ready look at rough-and-tumble politics

By Sam Allis, Globe Staff | March 3, 2006 /

Properly told, political underdog stories are as compelling as pratfalls from banana peels are funny. Each is timeless and carries an integrity impervious to cynicism.

''Street Fight," which has been nominated for an Academy Award for best documentary feature, is a classic tale that pits a bright young reformer against a city machine. For starters, it's real. There's no need for Robert Redford here. We've got Cory Booker, a dazzling product of Stanford and Yale Law School and a Rhodes Scholar to boot, who runs for mayor of Newark in 2002 against the 16-year incumbent and old-fashioned political boss, Sharpe James.

Booker, 32, is a photogenic, light-skinned black man challenging an older, dark-skinned black man. As the contest tightens, race, of all things, emerges as an issue, and we end up with a marquee political fight that attracts national attention.

The documentary is simple and strong and small. Its grit lifts it above its mechanical shortcomings, which are manifest. Marshall Curry, who wrote, produced, filmed, and directed ''Street Fight," made it on a shoestring and moxie. It is his first feature-length documentary and it shows. His camera work is primitive and the film has its dead spots. But these are minor problems in a story too good to ignore...

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Wilms Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-05-06 04:14 PM
Response to Original message
15. GA: Senate to vote on paper trail for ballot machines

Senate to vote on paper trail for ballot machines

By Mike Billips


ATLANTA - Some Bibb voters would see a paper backup to their electronically cast ballot this fall, under a bill being considered by the state Senate.

Senate Bill 500, sponsored by Sen. Bill Stephens, R-Canton, calls for testing the new system in three pilot precincts in Bibb, Camden and Cobb counties this November. The bill is up for a vote Monday.

The bill was trimmed down from its original form, which would have required all Georgia voting machines to provide a reviewable print of each vote by 2007.


Stephens worked with Secretary of State Cathy Cox's office in crafting the current form of the bill. Cox, a Democrat, is a candidate for governor this fall.

"We think it's a good idea, a good step toward a paper receipt function for our voting system," said Cox spokesman Chris Riggall.

Stephens said the bill had bipartisan support in committee, and he expects it to pass with similar support on the floor. "The paper trail, unlike voter ID, seems to be almost universally accepted," he said.


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Wilms Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-05-06 04:22 PM
Response to Original message
16.  Voting machine support costly - Elections boards and counties stunned by

Voting machine support costly

Elections boards and counties stunned by expense; state aid for training ends after primary

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Mary Beth Lane

The cost of service contracts for new touchscreen voting machines has left county elections officials across Ohio in sticker shock.


The full coverage plan offered by Diebold Election Systems to service its touch-screen voting machines in Fairfield County, for example, would cost $90,000 a year. Partial-coverage options are available at $60,000 and $21,000 a year.

"It just about blew our minds away," said Alice Nicolia, director of the county Board of Elections.
In poorer Perry County, a Diebold service contract is out of the question.
"We just do not have the money," said Janie DePinto, elections board director. Her board is considering hiring a cheaper consultant to provide technical support at election times.


Fairfield is among 47 counties that picked Diebold touch-screens. Costs for service contracts with Diebold were higher than anticipated.

The state has a five-year warranty contract with Diebold and Election Systems & Software, another company that sold voting machines to Ohio counties, for the equipment itself. Under the contract, the state is paying the companies to train and provide technical support to county elections boards through the May primary.


A company spokeswoman declined to discuss the terms of service contracts that Election Systems & Software might offer its customers. When Diebold began distributing proposals to county elections officials at their conference in January, some were shocked.

So were county commissioners. "This completely blind-sided the county," said Ray Feikert, a Holmes County commissioner in northeastern Ohio. "Its kind of a back-door expense that no one saw coming."

Diebolds service contracts are priced depending on county size, level of support desired and number of elections annually. For Holmes and Perry counties, the proposals are $16,000, $35,000 or $50,000 annually. Like Perry County, Holmes County might search for a cheaper option, Feikert said.


Diebolds full coverage would cost $110,000 annually in Montgomery County. Harsmans board is considering buying partial coverage and using a county information-technology worker for extra technical support.


"The irony is that the small counties will have a bigger need for these contracts, but they wont have the money to pay for them," Harsman said. "Elections boards are going to county commissioners, and commissioners are kicking and screaming. Its not a pretty situation at all. But when the dust settles, a high percentage of counties are going to need this, and county commissioners are going to have to find the funding."



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