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Safeguarding democracy. Safeguarding your vote. Support the watchdogs at BlackBox Voting

From Bev at BlackBox Voting:

Things are shakin’ and movin’ — please pass this along, feel free to post it or quote from this great new information. [Update on new machines in New York near the bottom.]

End of year tax-deductible donations – needed for 2010 work!
http://www.blackboxvoting.org/donate.html or mail to:
Black Box Voting – 330 SW 43rd St Suite K
PMB 547
Renton, WA 98057

In September, Black Box Voting notified you of our formal 21-page anti-trust complaint with the US Dept. of Justice regarding the acquisition of Diebold’s elections unit by voting machine megamonster Election Systems & Software (ES&S). You may have heard that Florida just launched a formal investigation.

Well, roll it out, folks: The USDOJ has just announced its federal investigation, and 14 individual states have now followed suit. You can discuss this here:
http://www.bbvforums.org/forums/messages/8/80787.html

I’ll include a more detailed update on the expansion into federal anti-trust investigations below, but first some quick notes on other actions:

– The voting rights community is getting a real shot in the arm from CPAs. The CPAs are providing necessary muscle to address missing and mismatched records. Now look at this!

– In Detroit, Tom Barrow – a candidate for mayor who happens to be a CPA, and his campaign manager who also happens to be a CPA, refused to knuckle under to the ol’ buffalo shuffle that we’ve all become so disgusted with. They audited the seals on the absentee ballot boxes and — as Black Box Voting found in the New Hampshire 2008 presidential primary; as John Brakey found in Pima County AZ, as Cynthia McKinney found in Georgia in her U.S. congressional race — the seals were mismatched, broken or missing.

You can discuss this here: http://www.bbvforums.org/forums/messages/8/80778.html

MY PERSONAL FAVORITE EXAMPLE: Hundreds of votes were “counted” and certified from two absentee ballot boxes which happened to be empty. And (as Black Box Voting found in Palm Beach County in the 2004 presidential election), voting machine reports had the wrong times on them. What we had found was votes cast weeks early and in the middle of the night (nothing was done about it then, and we had to litigate to get the records); what they found in Detroit was ES&S M100 poll tapes run hours before the polls closed, and sometimes a day later. And they found dozens of mismatched, broken and missing seals.

NOW CHECK THIS OUT — THIS IS HUGE: In an unprecedented and crucially important move, over 50% of the Detroit ballots have now been DISQUALIFIED in the recount. This is the correct course of action. You CANNOT do a meaningful count when chain of custody has been breached, though until now, most election jurisdictions shrug and use the compromised ballots (wherever they come from) anyway.

THINGS ARE SNOWBALLING IN ASPEN COLORADO:

Former CPA Marilyn Marks is working with Black Box Voting to push through crucial litigation in Aspen, Colorado to enforce election freedom of information rights. Her lawsuit has the potential for immediate impact in 44 of Colorado’s 64 counties, and 10 percent of jurisdictions nationwide. Her action also has potential to impact the state of New York with its implementation of ballot image scanners. The Aspen Times recently covered Black Box Voting’s position on this issue, here: http://www.aspentimes.com/article/20091219/LETTER/912199999/1020&ParentProfile=1058

Marks and well-known voting rights advocate Harvie Branscomb have, predictably, been getting a public thrashing and a big ol’ smear campaign complete with people who hide behind screen names to lob invective at them. If you feel what they are doing is important, feel free to register at the Aspen Times and chime in with your comments in support of this important action.

You can also discuss this on Black Box Voting here:
http://www.bbvforums.org/forums/messages/8/80769.html

AND NOW FOR AN UPDATE ON THE FEDERAL ROLLOUT OF THE ANTI-TRUST INVESTIGATION:

The Black Box Voting complaint provided hard-to-obtain details on jurisdiction by jurisdiction voting machine purchases, proving overconcentration of the industry with the Herfindahl Index, used by the USDOJ to ascertain whether acquisitions create an anticompetitive marketplace. We also documented numerous specific instances of past anti-competitive behavior and unfair practices. In addition, we provided the USDOJ with legal citations indicating that acquisitions which violate antitrust laws can be rolled back up to at least two years after the acquisition goes through. (Ironically, the legal analysis came from Diebold’s own law firm, working on an entirely different case.)

ES&S officials lied to county election officials, claiming the deal wasn’t subject to anti-trust laws because it was too small. While it did fly under the radar because the dollar amount evaded an automatic hold on the acquisition, the provision invoking a hold does not have any impact on whether the deal is, ultimately, a violation of anti-trust laws.

Black Box Voting received a letter from the US Dept. of Justice last month indicating that they were paying attention to our complaint, and stating an intent to investigate providing that their initial inquiries corroborated the anti-competitive practices. (And how could they not?)

Reuters News just announced that the US DoJ and 14 individual states have launched formal antitrust investigations into the acquisition of Diebold’s Premier Election Solutions by Election Systems & Software (ES&S).

Here is the Reuters article: U.S. opens probe of Diebold unit sale … The U.S. Department of Justice and 14 states have opened investigations into the sale of Diebold Inc’s (DBD.N) voting machines business to Election Systems & Software that could lead to the unwinding of the September sale,

http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSN1925508020091219?type=marketsNews

Would the investigations have proceeded without the formal complaint by Black Box Voting? One would hope so. But our research consummated seven years of investigation and field work, and provided crucial evidence regarding market delineation in over 5,000 elections jurisdictions — information that is exceptionally difficult to produce with precision and links to the dozens of official source documents needed (some of which were only available because we had earlier obtained them through freedom of information requests).

If — when — the deal is killed, authorities can seek restitution from the voting machine companies for the cost of the investigation and their legal work, and they can require that ES&S divest itself of the Diebold purchase.

* * * *

ODDS AND ENDS

We are currently working on a shocking investigation of vote-by-mail processing in California and Colorado, so stay tuned. And go get ready to add to your list of convicted felons, because we’re looking into a secret vote by mail database deal that will curl your toes.

THE STATE OF MAINE has told me they are now considering posting their results in a timely manner. It was amazing – the statement I was told by the Maine Secretary of State’s office was so outrageous I wrote it down word for word. I requested the results for the Gay Marriage initiative, many days after the election, and after the deadline for deciding whether to seek a recount had passed.

They said, and I quote: “We have not and do not give out results to anyone.”  That’s right. When I asked how anyone knew whether to seek a recount, they said people had to take their best guess of results by reading it in the newspaper, which, they added, does NOT get its results from the secretary of state, but instead published unofficial results from volunteers. I requested copies of two towns from the Sec. State: On seven ballot questions, each with two choices, for a total of 28 items, not a single one was correctly reported in the newspaper and of the 28, eight were off by hundreds of votes. Twenty-three days after the election, I obtained full results. Most matched, but at least half a dozen locations had very large errors in newspaper reports.

NEW YORK: Numerous accounting anomalies surfaced during the election, and around the state of New York, many different problems surfaced with the new machines, which were tested in 15 counties and are scheduled to be rolled out statewide. Though we have received explanations, speculations, theories and hypotheses, the only thing that really matters is the evidence. Black Box Voting has requested signed poll tapes, signed Election Night Tally Sheets, and other documents from several New York counties where the new Sequoia/Dominion ImageCast machines did weird things. I’ll let you know the real story when we get the documents.

Aren’t you glad someone is looking into this stuff? Please support Black Box Voting with a generous year-end donation. We very much need and appreciate it!

* * * * *

Let’s have joyous holidays, and then steel our resolve to restore our right to public right to know for every essential step of our public elections.

Bev Harris
Founder – Black Box Voting

Forward to a friend:
http://app.icontact.com/icp/sub/forward?m=682237&s=50769950&c=R5F6&cid=325456

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