Brad Blog

Did GOP Insiders Steal the Kentucky Governor's Race for Tea Partier Matt Bevin?

We see, again, the nightmare scenario I've warned about for so many years: a U.S. election where all of the pre-election polls suggest Candidate X is set to win, but Candidate Y ends up winning by a huge margin instead and nobody even bothers to verify that the computer tabulated results accurately reflect the intent of the voters.

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The Secret to Bill O’Reilly’s Professional Survival

This post originally appeared on The BRAD BLOG.

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Conservative Icon Federal Judge Sees the Light - Writes Amazing Dissent on Voter ID Laws

If you read just one top-to-bottom dismantling of every supposed premise in support of disenfranchising Photo ID voting restrictions laws in your lifetime, let it be this one [PDF]!

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Appalling: War on Science Now Includes War on Science Museums

As we noted when citing the excellent recent episode of Fox' COSMOS, which explained the causes and dangers of global warming in a way that turned a long-time, self-described "climate denier" colleague of ours into a "believer," the documented facts of science don't require "belief." Scientific facts are still true, whether one chooses to believe them or not.

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The Right-Wing's Despicable New Voter Suppression Scheme

The man who wrote Arizona's "Papers Please" law before running for Kansas Secretary of State in 2010 on the premise of stamping out "voter fraud" there ... before winning and subsequently not being able to find much, if any of it, at all, is nonetheless still at work attempting to keep legitimate voters from being able to cast their vote under the premise that thousands of non-citizens are somehow, secretly, illegally voting in the state of Kansas.

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Watch: 14-Year Old Activist Destroys TV Host on Monsanto, GMO Labeling

This 14-year old Canadian girl, Rachel Parent, is tremendous. Watch her clean the clock of the TV host who bad-mouthed opponents of Monsanto and their GMOs and those who support the "Right to Know" campaign to require genetically modified foods to be labelled as such.

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Operative Linked To Voter Registration Fraud Still Working For GOP?

Questions continue to grow about Nathan Sproul and his various companies’ multi-million dollar work for the Republican National Committee, despite claims that they’ve broken ties with him on the heels of a nationwide GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal. A virtual clone of his discredited Strategic Allied Consulting firm appears to still be operating on behalf of Republicans in at least 10 states.

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Some PA Counties May Ignore Paper Ballot Court Order

In the suburban county of Montgomery, just outside of Philadelphia, election officials have, inexcusably, been caught off guard by a new, court-mandated directive by PA's Secretary of the Commonwealth Pedro Cortes.

The direct requires that counties have enough emergency paper ballots (EPBs) on hand at polling places to ensure that voters can vote if half, or more, of a precinct's voting machines break down. County officials admit today that they were completely unprepared for the directive, and even for the likelihood of serious machine failure, despite known problems with the touch-screen voting systems they use, or the extraordinary voter turnout long-predicted for next Tuesday.

The new directive [PDF] was issued yesterday, following a court order in a that suit was filed last week against the Democratic Secretary, by the NAACP and a local election protection coalition. It followed on Cortes' directive a month a go that EPBs only needed to be given out to voters in the event of failure of 100% of a precinct's machines.

Cortes' original directive, and even the one issued yesterday, has been seen at odds with a PA statutory provision that allowed counties to offer paper ballots in the event that just one machine had failed. PA uses Direct Recording Electronic (DRE, usually touch-screen) voting systems across most of the state, and is a key battleground for John McCain's attempt to win the White House this year

Montgomery County's voter services Director, Joseph R. Passarella said on Friday that his county is not prepared to meet the directive, despite known problems and historic failures of electronic voting machines on Election Day in Pennsylvania and elsewhere, or even the widely-predicted unprecedented turnout that's expected.

He also said, according to the Philadelphia Intelligencer , that an "estimated…80 percent of the state's other counties do not have emergency ballots, having used provisional ballots for both purposes in the past."

Incredibly, Passarella also admitted today that he had previously planned to give just 100 provisional ballots, and 100 emergency ballots to each precinct.

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Voting Rights Groups Sue PA for Paper Ballots

Finally! A lawsuit has finally been filed today in federal District Court in Pennsylvania, against the Democratic Secretary of the Commonwealth, Pedro A. Cortes and the Commissioner of the state's Election Commission, Chet Harhut, over Cortes' recent decree that paper ballots only need be given out to voters in the event that every voting machine in a precinct breaks down.

That stunning decry was in opposition to PA's state law which allows election officials the discretion to give emergency paper ballots to voters if even a single machine breaks down in a precinct.

That neither Obama nor the DNC have said a word about this in the month or so since Cortes issued his decry has been maddening, and should be an outrage to voters of all parties in the Keystone State, sure to be another battleground state this November. The lawsuit was finally filed today by the state's NAACP in concert with the 866-MYVOTE1 Election Reform Network.

While the complaint should call for paper ballots to be made available to any voter who wishes one, or, at a minimum, to be given out if just one machine breaks down in a precinct, or even if the wait time in line is longer than 30 minutes, unfortunately, the suit calls very conservatively for emergency paper ballots to be given out if 50% or more of the voting machines in a precinct break down. But at least it's something, we guess, particularly in lieu of Obama and/or the DNC taking any action at all here, given they have the most to lose by the ridiculous action from state Democrats.

Pennsylvania uses unverifiable Direct Recording Electronic (DRE, usually touch-screen) machines across most of the state, and saw machine failure after failure, as we documented in detail during their April primary this year. The failures resulted in untold numbers of disenfranchised voters, as noted in news reports, and logged by calls to the 866-MYVOTE1 hotline…

"Voters should not be forced to wait hours in line in order to exercise their fundamental right to vote," said John Bonifaz, legal director for VoterAction.org and co-counsel for the plaintiffs in a statement issued today. "While the use of electronic voting machines continues to pose a separate threat to the integrity of the vote-counting process, federal court intervention is necessary to ensure that voters will not be disenfranchised by long lines on Election Day in Pennsylvania, when these machines become inoperable."

California Republican Arrested for Voter Fraud

Yesterday the Los Angeles Times reported on the Republican voter registration outfit who had allegedly been illegally changing thousands of registrations from Democratic to Republican.

Last night the head of that GOP backed group, Mark Anthony Jacoby of Young Political Majors (YPM), was arrested by the California State Election Fraud Taskforce and the Oxnard Police.

According to California Secretary of State Debra Bowen's press release, Jacoby himself had committed voter registration fraud and perjury by lying on his own voter registration form. (That's similar to what Ann Coulter did, though she not only committed felony voter registration fraud, she also committed actual voter fraud, as well, even though such fraud is exceedingly rare.)

It was my pleasure to break this story today on Fox "News" of all places! Thanks to VotersUnite! editor John Gideon for getting it posted as I was on the roll towards the studio. I'll have the video up of my appearance on Fox, and the "Fox News Alert" I was able to do, later tonight.

Please note, this isn't the first time there have been serious problems with GOP-gathered voter registrations in CA, as outlined recently at Alternet. Looks like the GOP's voter registration record for errors far outpaced ACORN! Whaddaya know?

New Study Details Massive Voter Roll Purges Underway in At Least 19 States

Tonight's CBS Evening News finally covered what may well be the November Surprise that we've been trying to warn about for months here at The BRAD BLOG: Massive voter roll purges being done in secret, with little or no oversight, and often under federal Justice Department cover, in states and counties around the country.



And the Democrats, who likely have the most to lose via such secret purges, are doing little or nothing about it.


The CBS story, posted below (appx 2 mins) starts with an elderly New Jersey voter who was suddenly removed from the voting rolls after thirty years, for apparently no reason whatsoever, before launching into findings from a new non-partisan Brennan Center for Justice study on "Voter Purges".


We've yet to read this Brennan report, but the brief coverage from tonight's Evening News notes 10,000 voters purged in Mississippi, 21,000 in Louisiana and "to top it off, another new study discovered 19 states are ignoring federal law (the National Voter Registration Act), banning systematic purges within 90 days of a federal election."


Among those 19, are a number of battleground states. The report lists: Alabama, Colorado, Connecticut, Delware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Maryland, Masachusetts, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Texas and Washington, as places where massive purges have recently taken place.

UC Scientists Release Voting Machine Hacking Video

The Computer Security Group at the University of California Santa Barbara (UCSB) has released a short, chilling video demonstrating how a single person can hack an election on a touch-screen voting system -- even one with a so-called "Voter Verifiable Paper Trail" (VVPAT) added to it -- in such a way that it is highly unlikely that the manipulation would ever be detected by either the public or election officials.

The video, which shows "just examples of the different ways in which the system can be compromised" is the latest in a similar string of such demonstrations that have been released over the last two years, all showing how easily electronic voting systems can be tampered with, often undetectably.

In the UCSB video posted below, the hack of Sequoia voting system being prepared for use in an entire county, is done in approximately 3 seconds, by a single person with simple insider access and a $10 USB thumb drive. Every machine used in the county, in such a case, would be effected. Moreover, the viral hack would not be discovered by pre-election "Logic and Accuracy" testing -- in cases were election officials actually bother to perform such tests prior to elections -- nor would it likely be discovered even in the event of a complete, 100% post-election audit of the touch-screen "paper-trail" records.

The hack demonstration, prepared by the UCSB scientists as part of California's 2007 "Top-to-Bottom Review" of all of the state's e-voting systems, also reveals how so-called "security seals" placed on such machines after they've been programmed for an election, can be easily defeated without detection ...

How and Why It Was Done

The landmark California study, which employed dozens of the world's top computer scientists and security experts, was commissioned by Sec. of State Debra Bowen. The first-of-its-kind, independent state analysis, included hack tests -- so-called, "Red Team" attacks -- to analyze the security of the e-voting systems. All of the systems studied were easily defeated by the testers.

The UCSB group was in charge of the analysis of voting machines made by Sequoia Voting Systems.

The methods used in the hack of a Sequoia Edge direct recording electronic (DRE, touch-screen) system -- a system which includes the Sequoia Verivote paper-trail printer, as seen in the video -- were original described in the Red Team security analysis [PDF] of the Sequoia systems as published by the Secretary of State.

The video demonstrating the voting system manipulation was prepared at the same time, but had not been released publicly until now. The scientists involved in the tests declined to speak on the record as to their reasons for releasing it at this time.

"We found a number of major flaws that can be exploited to compromise the integrity, confidentiality, and availability of the voting process," explains the UCSB website where the video was released. "In particular, we developed a virus-like software that can spread across the voting system, modifying the firmware of the voting machines."

The page goes on to explain that "The modified firmware is able to steal votes even in the presence of a Voter-Verified Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT)." In addition to the hack of the paper-trail touch-screen system, the UCSB scientists also demonstrate, in the video, how the Sequoia Edge touch-screen voting system may be accessed and manipulated even after so-called "security seals" have been applied to the machine following pre-election programming. The members of the team in the demonstration are seen access the system, while the plastic "security seals" are remain undisturbed in the process.

"Security seals" of this type, as used in California and elsewhere -- seen being easily defeated in the video -- have been cited by election officials and voting machine companies alike as key to the secure use of electronic voting machines such as the one seen being hacked in the video above.

E-Voting "Fatally Flawed"

"The video shows how one can use a simple USB key to infect the laptop used to prepare the cards that initialize the various voting devices. As a result, the cards are loaded with a malicious software component," UCSB explains.

"When a card is inserted in a voting terminal, the malicious software exploits a vulnerability in the terminal loading procedure and installs a modified firmware, effectively 'brainwashing' the terminal. Later, when the terminal is used by the voters to cast their votes, the firmware uses a number of different techniques to modify the contents of the ballots being cast."The UCSB Security Group page notes that electronic voting systems are exceedingly vulnerable to malicious manipulation of the type demonstrated in their video.

"While most critical systems are continuously scrutinized and evaluated for safety and correctness, electronic voting systems are not subject to the same level of scrutiny," they write.

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Step by Step Guide to Hacking Electronic Voting Machines


The Computer Security Group at the University of California Santa Barbara (UCSB) has released a short, chilling video demonstrating how a single person can hack an election on a touch-screen voting system --- even one with a so-called "Voter Verifiable Paper Trail" (VVPAT) added to it --- in such a way that it is highly unlikely that the manipulation would ever be detected by either the public or election officials.


The video which shows "just examples of the different ways in which the system can be compromised" is the latest in a similar string of such demonstrations that have been released over the last two years, all showing how easily electronic voting systems can be tampered with, often undetectably.


In the UCSB video posted below, the hack of Sequoia voting system being prepared for use in an entire county, is done in approximately 3 seconds, by a single person with simple insider access and a $10 USB thumb drive. Every machine used in the county, in such a case, would be effected. Moreover, the viral hack would not be discovered by pre-election "Logic and Accuracy" testing --- in cases were election officials actually bother to perform such tests prior to elections --- nor would it likely be discovered even in the event of a complete, 100% post-election audit of the touch-screen "paper-trail" records.


The hack demonstration, prepared by the UCSB scientists as part of California's 2007 "Top-to-Bottom Review" of all of the state's e-voting systems, also reveals how so-called "security seals" placed on such machines after they've been programmed for an election, can be easily defeated without detection...
























How and Why It Was Done...

Voting Machine CEO Reportedly Lies About Foreign Ownership of Firm

The CEO and President of one of America's largest voting machine companies, Sequoia Voting Systems, gave both deceptive, and carefully selective answers in his reply to a letter sent earlier this year from two high-ranking officials in Chicago, according to documents recently obtained during an ongoing investigation by the Brad Blog.

Sequoia's chief executive, Jack Blaine, repeated knowingly false answers, at least three different times, in his January 18 response to Chicago Alderman Edward M. Burke and the Chair of Chicago's Board of Election Commissioners Langdon D. Neal. The pair had written to the company on January 11, expressing concerns about the truth behind Sequoia's claims that they had completely divested from their purportedly "former" parent company, Smartmatic, the Venezuelan-run firm with direct ties to Hugo Chavez and his government.

Last year, as media reports revealed the true extent of Smartmatic's shadowy foreign ownership -- and with it, the direct control of some 20% of U.S. elections -- the firm came under close scrutiny by federal investigators from Treasury Department, the FBI and the IRS. In November of last year, Sequoia announced that it had "completely" divested from Smartmatic in a management team-led buyout, thus ending an official review by Treasury's Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS).

But in January, the officials from the Windy City -- where Sequoia holds one of the company's most lucrative contracts -- had continuing concerns about whether the sale was legitimate, or simply a dodge to avoid scrutiny by federal investigators. They were right to be concerned.

In their letter, Burke and Neale requested written responses from Sequoia after what was described as "evasive" and "troublesome" sworn testimony from Blaine the previous year, following "malfunctions of Sequoia voting machines during primary elections held on March 21, 2006."

In his testimony before a Chicago City Council joint committee in April of 2006, Blaine had claimed he didn't know the specific details of the financial arrangement that existed between Sequoia Voting Systems, Inc. and the Smartmatic Corporation, despite being president of both companies at the time. He did, however, manage to admit to the joint committee that at least 15 Venezuelan nationals were flown in to assist in the tabulation of votes in the troubled March '06 election and that the Venezuelans had access to Sequoia's source code. Blaine also conceded that it was "possible" that Chavez' government could hold an interest in the company, but that he wasn't certain because the ownership of Smartmatic was concealed in an off-shore trust.

In their series of follow-up questions to Blaine in January 2008, Alderman Burke noted that "the entire Smartmatic episode has served as a reminder of how important it is to know and trust who is counting the votes in our elections."

"It is therefore important," he continued, "to confirm that the sale of Sequoia by Smartmatic is not a sham transaction designed to fool regulators and to further confirm that Smartmatic and the government of Venezuela have no ability to influence or control the new owners of Sequoia."

Blaine's written responses to the officials, sent to Neale the following week, were dishonest, misleading, and even cleverly evasive on at least one crucially important point. His answers also contradict details recently exposed in a series of investigative exclusives by the Brad Blog, revealing several startling facts about the true ownership and control of Sequoia.

Moreover, after we broke the news in April, concerning the attempted hostile takeover of Sequoia by competitor Hart InterCivic, Blaine appeared to joke with employees during a confidential company-wide "town hall" teleconference about "the line" he used with yet another Chicago official, Cook County Clerk, David Orr. "He accepted it completely," Blaine told employees, as he underscored the importance of keeping details of the attempted takeover confidential, and how he was being less than forthcoming about it with the company's customers ...

Lying About Smartmatic's Control of Sequoia

In November of last year, as a federal investigation by the Treasury Department's CFIUS was closing in on the true provenance of Smartmatic's shadowy ownership, and after a failed attempt to find an outside buyer for the company, Blaine and several other Sequoia and/or Smartmatic executives formed SVS Holdings Inc., and proceeded to purchase Sequoia from the parent company.

However, a recent series of exclusive Brad Blog investigative reports has revealed that the sale, which succeeded in moving CFIUS to end their official review of the matter, was not what it seemed to be.

Recent court documents unearthed and published by the Brad Blog, detailing the terms of the attempted hostile takeover of Sequoia by competitor Hart InterCivic, make clear that Smartmatic still retains the intellectual property (IP) rights over Sequoia's popular, if oft-failed e-voting systems, as well as licensing control of the software used in their voting machines and tabulators.

The April 2008 opinion [PDF] by Delaware's Court of Chancery Vice Chancellor Stephen P. Lamb also disclosed an element of the confidential agreement struck between CFIUS and Smartmatic last year, which had apparently disallowed even "indirect" control over Sequoia Voting Systems, Inc. by the Venezuelan firm.

However, as we reported in late April, statements made by Blaine himself, during a confidential company-wide teleconference convened to explain the attempted hostile takeover in the wake of our report, confirmed that Sequoia has no claim to the IP rights of voting systems bearing the name Sequoia, including those electronic systems recently purchased by Cook County and the Chicago Board of Elections. Rather, it is Smartmatic that retains control of those rights, as the software itself is used by Sequoia under a continuing licensing agreement with the off-shore company which continues to supply the hardware and software used in Venezuelan elections under Chavez. Blaine's January '08 letter [PDF], in response to Alderman Burke and Chairman Neal's letter [PDF] earlier that month, claims -- at least three times -- that his management-led buy-out team had "completely eliminated" Smartmatic's "ownership, control and operational rights of any kind in Sequoia."

"Any rumors or speculation to the contrary are wrong and unfounded," Blaine wrote to the Chicago officials.

Blaine's thrice-repeated line was the same one, word for word, used by Sequoia in their official announcement of "new corporate ownership" in November of 2007 as they appeared to be breaking away from Smartmatic. In describing the general details of the financial arrangement, the press release used what would become Blaine's Chicago boiler plate explanation, that the deal "completely eliminates Smartmatic's ownership, control and operational rights of any kind in Sequoia."

But our reporting to date -- and Blaine's curious failure to respond at all to one key question from Burke, while offering answers, accurate or otherwise, to all the others -- demonstrates that Blaine blatantly misled the Chicago officials in response to their well-merited concerns.

"It Doesn't Matter Whether We Have the IP or Not"

During the April 11th, 2008 conference call which Blaine convened to explain the attempted Hart takeover to his employees, after we broke the story, he was confronted with a question from an employee about one of the details in our report. The employee asked about the ownership of the Intellectual Property (IP) rights of the voting systems sold in the United States by Sequoia.

"It doesn't matter whether you have the IP rights, or you don't have the IP rights," Blaine explained on the call that he'd repeatedly stressed should remain confidential. His comments were in direct contradiction to both what he'd told the Chicago officials in January and what his company had been representing to election officials and in courtrooms across the country.

"We have the source code, and we have the right to modify it any way we want to modify it," he explained to the employee, concerning the company's ongoing licensing agreement with Smartmatic. "So it doesn't matter really whether we have the IP or not."

He then went on to claim that he didn't care all that much about those IP rights during his negotiations the previous year with Smartmatic.

"I didn't particularly want the IP ... As we've discussed in the past, I believe we've really come across the perfect time to change our portfolio going forward. And it's not gonna be dependent on the Smartmatic technology, or the IP or anything else. It's gonna be dependent on what we collectively believe the market, and what the future standards, will require."

While intending to "maintain" existing voting systems they'd sold, now in use across the United States, he was more interested in selling the company's new line of voting machines, "code named: System Nine", as he elucidated to his underlings.

The admission was quite a departure from his repeated written claims to Chicago's Alderman and Chair of their Election Commission, that "Smartmatic has no ownership, control and operational rights of any kind in Sequoia."

Additionally, the Delaware court documents also revealed that Smartmatic had succeeded in including an interesting non-compete provision in their negotiations to sell Sequoia to Hart. The proposed agreement would bar Hart from competing with Smartmatic for elections business in a number of foreign countries.

"Hart promises not to compete with Smartmatic in Latin America, the Philippines, and Belgium," Vice Chancellor Lamb wrote in describing the proposed Hart/Smartmatic agreement. "In return, Smartmatic promises to grant Hart a license to use its intellectual property found in Sequoia's machines."

The written opinion from Lamb further underscores the control Smartmatic retains over Sequoia, and which they will likely continue to retain whether or not Hart is successful in their takeover attempt.

The management team who had purchased Sequoia, Blaine's SVS Holdings Inc., has the right in their original contract to match the deal from Hart. Sources at both companies confirm that Sequoia/SVS is attempting to do exactly that, and may even be successful (we hope to have more, in the near future, on the attempts by Sequoia/SVS to save themselves, and the extraordinary financial measures and risks they are currently undertaking to try and do so.)

So whether SVS Holdings or Hart InterCivic wrestles some of the company away from Smartmatic, which currently holds a $2 million loan note from SVS' original "purchase" of the company, the Venezuelan Chavez-tied firm will still have control over software licensing rights and intellectual property rights for the voting systems used in some 20% of U.S. elections.

Smartmatic also has the continuing right to determine where Sequoia may or may not do business outside of the U.S.

All, in direct contradiction to claims that last years "new corporate ownership" had "completely eliminate[d] Smartmatic's ownership, control and operational rights of any kind in Sequoia."

For their part, Hart InterCivic, a direct competitor of Sequoia's, who Blaine told his employees on the conference call currently maintains control of some 8% of the election industry in the U.S., has troubles of their own. They are facing a company whistleblower's federal fraud lawsuit unsealed last March.

No matter what, it seems, those who've gone into business with Sequoia will be saddled with Smartmatic whether they know it, or like it, or not. And worse, they may possibly even be forced to do business with a company facing a federal false claims lawsuit to boot.

As if Blaine's thrice-stated written deception to the two Chicago officials wasn't blatant enough, he appears to have attempted to fool the officials regarding these same points in one other curious point in his written reply. The January 11, 2008 letter from Alderman Burke and Chairman Neal had requested Blaine answer and/or produce supporting documents in response to a series of bulleted questions.

Most of those questions were re-typed in Blaine's response, and numbered, (eg. "Ald. Burke Question #1") preceding each answer offered in response by Blaine.

But one question/request -- which would have been #5 -- was completely skipped by Blaine in his responses. Given his sequential numbering of the previously un-numbered questions, the "oversight" was easy to miss, since question #6 became numbered as question #5 and so on. Only close comparison with the original reveals that Blaine disappeared one of the questions entirely.

The question/request which Blaine failed to even address in his response:

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