James Ridgeway

James Ridgeway

In 1965, James Ridgeway helped launch the modern muckraking era by revealing that General Motors had hired private eyes to spy on an obscure consumer advocate named Ralph Nader. He worked for many years at the Village Voice, has written 16 books, and has codirected Blood in the Face, a film about the far right. In 2012, he was named a Soros Justice Media Fellow.

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How to Make Sure Your Vote Counts..

| Mon Nov. 6, 2006 4:37 PM EST

Before you head out to vote tomorrow, you may want to take a look at some of the basic advice given us today from three different groups: Warren Stewart at VoteTrustUSA, Mary Boyle at Common Cause, and Joe Irrera of a Tennessee group called Gathering to Save Our Democracy.

Begin with this simple advice: In general, if challenged on eligibility, says Warren Stewart of VoteTrustUSA, "don't leave the voting place without casting a provisional ballot."

However, be careful what you do, for Common Cause points out "if a poll worker tells you you're at the wrong precint, don't try to vote on a provisional ballot because in many states provisional ballots won't be counted unless they are cast in the right precinct." Try to go to the correct precinct and then cast your vote.

If you vote by machine, and something looks fishy and you don't think your vote is being accurately tabulated, ask to vote on another machine.

Finally, says Common Cause, "if you run into problems, ask a poll worker for help. They are there for assistance. If your right to vote is being challenged, you can call for legal assistance at 1-800-OUR-VOTE and to report a problem or find your polling place, call 1-866-MYVOTE 1."

A real gloomy view about all this comes from Tennessee where Joe Irrera ,Vice-President of Information Systems at Gathering to Save Our Democracy, said the following:

Unfortunately, as a voter tomorrow there's not a whole lot you can watch out for except screen calibration errors on your touchscreen voting machine. In other words, candidate flipping in the final voter selection review, before confirming your vote.

As the recent Princeton University study confirms, illegal software can easily be introduced into that touchscreen voting machine via the memory card, which secretly miscounts votes. The voter would never know it when the final machine totals tape is printed after the polls close.

Most of the danger is unseen below the surface. I'm referring to the central tabulator computers. These are the ordinary Windows computers that are fed the totals from each of the voting districts. In Shelby County (Memphis area), Tennessee we're already dealing with illegal software and a network connection that was found on both the main and backup Diebold GEMS computers which would facilitate manually altering vote totals in the database. We only discovered this because several local primary candidates contested the final vote tally and were able to bring in their own computer expert to examine the equipment.

The Diebold GEMS central tabulator software is frighteningly insecure and when you couple this with an internet-enabled network connection to the PC, you have the capacity to alter tens, perhaps hundreds of thousands of votes for that county, from anywhere in the world! Thanks to the internet, I have a downloaded, working copy of GEMS on my home PC, including the Shelby County primary vote totals database. I'm less knowledgeable of the ES&S central tabulator because of the wall of secrecy the voting machine manufacturers have been legislatively allowed to hide behind. However, considering both Diebold Election Systems and Election Systems & Software originated from the same company (Data Mark), I'm not optimistic.

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More Election Day Problems

| Mon Nov. 6, 2006 2:14 PM EST

According to a press release from People for the American Way, there are several different sorts of voting problems that have already occurred:

Voter intimidation:
California, Maryland, Illinois, New York, Texas

Machines and technology snafus:
Maryland, California, Illinois, Tennessee

New voter ID laws:
Ohio, Arizona, Indiana

A run on absentee ballots:
Pennsylvania, California, Maryland

Election Irregularities: Already Happening

| Mon Nov. 6, 2006 1:56 PM EST

Warren Stewart, policy director for VoteTrustUSA, a nonprofit that tracks voting irregularities at the state and local level, is reporting that voting problems have already begun. In 15 states there are provisions for early voting, and that's where the problems are occurring.

So far 5 states are involved. Voter choices are being flipped to the opposite candidates on all 4 electronic voting machines -- Diebold TSx, Sequoia Edge, ES&S iVotronic, and Hart InterCivic eSlate.

"Three counties in Texas report vote-flipping on the Diebold and ES&S machines," Stewart writes. "Three counties in Florida report vote-flipping on the ES&S and Sequoia machines. One county in Illinois, on the Sequioa Edge, and one county in Arkansas, on the ES&S iVotronic. In some cases, when the voter selects one candidate, the machine shows an opponent is selected instead."

A South Florida voter reports: "When I touched the one [button] for the Democratic vote, that button disappeared and the vote went to the Republican."

And from Illinois: "Corrine Stoker pushed the button for one candidate, but her voting machine showed she voted for the opponent."

Church and State

| Mon Nov. 6, 2006 10:45 AM EST

A Christian Broadcasting Network blog has been asking readers "Which issues will affect your vote during the midterm elections?''

Excerpts from the discussion last week:

"Forget the politics. I am in no mood today. Let's just remember we all worship the same God, who is most merciful and benevolent, and must be heartbroken to see this quarreling. A situation too complicated to explain that has been most stressful for me has just been resolved by what can only be divine intervention. At the moment, I don't care who wins Congress, or if Baptists ever let gays marry, I'm just overjoyed I'm not losing the person I love most. Thank you, Jesus." —orpheus1984

"What difference does it make regarding political issues. Once a man or woman is elected into office, their whole character changes and all of a sudden they take ownership of the state they represent, or their country, and forget to represent the people. 'The People' is the last of their concern as long as they get their personal 'agenda'. As far as truth in government is concerned, it does not exist. Immorality, killing the unborn, homosexuality, lieing [sic], murder, theft are all reflective of the minds that govern this country" —darmar48

"I am just amazed at what a crazy frightening disease religion really is. Please keep it away from children and animals." —liberate

"…I believe our country has real problems to deal with, and none of them are the so called 'values' issues conservatives use to rally the faithful. How much time and money did the last Congress spend on such peripheral issues such as gay marriage, flag burning and Terri Schiavo while ignoring Social Security, the health care crisis in our country and gun control. No matter which side of these issues you fall on, you have to admit all these things have a far greater impact on our country than whether two people who love each other." —deacnblews

Read the discussion postings to date here.

And This Man Wants to be President?

| Sun Nov. 5, 2006 1:14 PM EST

Rudy Giuliani went to Pennsylvania this weekend to try and shore up Rick Santorum's tottering campaign for re-election to the Senate. "He really is something very, very special," Giuliani said of Santorum. "We can't afford to lose someone like that."

"After September 11, there is no excuse for not adequately seeing the threat," Giuliani said in a Wilkes Barre speech Friday. "If Rick Santorum is not re-elected and his opponent is elected and people like his opponent are elected, they are going to push us very, very hard to go back on defense against terrorists rather than being on offense the way we are now."

In an accompanying "Dear Conservative" fund raising note, Santorum pleads, "The stakes in this race are incredibly high! The choices voters will make on Tuesday will decide which party leads our country -- the common-sense, conservative leaders dedicated to defeating Islamic fascists and those who want to kill Americans, or the far-left liberal defeatists like John Kerry who will cut-and-run in the War on Terror and demoralize our troops by implying they are 'uneducated.'"

"P.S.,'' says Santorum, "The pundits and polls have given up on me, but I know that together we can defy the odds."

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