Silly Politicians: Eric Cantor wants to End Overtime for Hourly Workers

I just read a blog about how Rep. Eric Cantor is going to recommend ending the ability of hourly workers to get overtime.

Games Silly Politicians Play

The Daily Kos reports about Mr. Cantor’s very ridiculous waste of time in trying to pass a federal law to end overtime for hourly workers. Why would anyone want to end overtime for hourly workers? It is purely Games Silly Politicians Play.

Doesn’t Eric Cantor have anything better to do than try and find ways to cheat hard-working folks out of pay they deserve for work done beyond working 40 hours/week or on holidays?

Why is Eric Cantor trying to find ways to take money away from people and turn back Fair Labor Standards? Shouldn’t he be trying to find ways to create more jobs and help more people make money than just the top 1%?

Something is wrong with Congress when the GOP majority party in the House keeps looking backwards while trying to walk forward.

This is what walking backwards into the future looks like. Congress better wake up soon to save our economy from the sequester damage

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Michelle Obama Shows How Moms Dance Today

Jimmy Fallon and First Lady Michelle Obama dance in honor of the “Let’s Move” campaign to get America moving.


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Ohio SOS Jon Husted: Uncertified “Experimental Software Patches” & Provisional Ballot Controversies

Election Protection Cat is working to protect the Ohio election by monitoring all electronic voting machines. Photo Credit: Dewey by angela n on flickr cc

Election Protection Cat is working to protect the Ohio election by monitoring all electronic voting machines. Photo Credit: Dewey by angela n on flickr cc

Is this a deja vu? It seems that current GOP Secretary of State Jon Husted in 2012 is taking a page from former Ohio GOP Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell’s playbook from the disastrous 2004 Ohio election. In the Ohio 2004 Presidential election, votes mysteriously changed in the middle of the night from Kerry to Bush. Thousands of voters in primarily democratic strongholds were forced to cast provisional ballots. Thousands of provisional ballots were never counted in Ohio.

Ohio Provisional Ballots: Will they be Counted in Time or at All?

Did Kenneth Blackwell and Jon Husted compare notes? It seems like the policies of Republican Ohio Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell from 2004 were handed down directly to Republican Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted in 2012.

Ari Berman of The Nation, published the article: “Eleventh-Hour GOP Voter Suppression Could Swing Ohio”:

“Once again Husted is playing the voter suppression card, this time at the eleventh hour, in a controversial new directive concerning provisional ballots. In an order to election officials on Friday night, Husted shifted the burden of correctly filling out a provisional ballot from the poll worker to the voter, specifically pertaining to the recording of a voter’s form of ID, which was previously the poll worker’s responsibility. Any provisional ballot with incorrect information will not be counted, Husted maintains. This seemingly innocuous change has the potential to impact the counting of thousands of votes in Ohio and could swing the election in this closely contested battleground.”

Another problem: Ohio provisional ballots don’t have to be counted until 14 days after the election. FOURTEEN DAYS. OK, so if there are 100,000 or more provisional ballots and the election is close and they aren’t counted until 14 days after November 6th, how will that affect the Ohio election?

This is a recipe for another disaster unless the candidates, or at least the Democrats, have the backbone to call for hand-counted ballots through recounts. That’s right. It is time in 2012 to not just give up the election like Kerry did in 2004 despite rampant voter suppression from long lines where voters in Democratic strongholds waited in line in Ohio for as much as 9-11 hours, and outright election fraud. President Obama should take a lesson from how now Senator Al Franken never gave up seeking the truth from his election even though many people said he should. Franken won by a slim margin, but he stuck it out until all votes were properly hand-counted. Bravo Al Franken!

Then There are the Untested Uncertified “Experimental Software Patches” inserted into voting machines in 39 Ohio Counties by Republican SoS Jon Husted

As if the voter suppression tactics of GOP SoS Husted isn’t enough where he cut early voting hours for Ohioans and changed provisional ballot rules, he now has the gall to skirt Ohio state law by deciding to insert “experimental software patches” into ES&S (Election Systems and Software) electronic voting machines in 39 Ohio counties. Why would GOP Ohio SoS Husted decide to suddenly do this? It is totally astounding especially since this software has not been seen by anyone who has the responsibility of testing and certifying the election software. Is Husted deliberately undermining the security of the Ohio vote and voting rights of its citizens?

Here is a report about the possible Man In The Middle attack that occurred during the Ohio 2004 election. Kenneth Blackwell hired Mike Connell of GovTech Solutions and its subcontractor Smartech. The story of what happened in 2004 is still being pieced together. However, what is fact is that Triad GSI, another IT company hired by some Ohio counties in 2004, is on record for switching out hard drives from voting equipment in the midst of the 2004 election–which looked suspiciously like they were covering their tracks for electronic manipulation of ballots. Also, through a lawsuit the computer configuration set up by GovTech and Smartech showed a classic Man In The Middle configuration where someone changed ballot total data coming from the counties to the Ohio Secretary of State website. According to GOP computer security expert Stephen Spoonamore, after looking at the architecture of the way Smartech & GovTech set up the computer connections to the web, it was likely that data was changed.

Is There A Plan to Steal the Ohio Election through Multiple Means?

Now suddenly within a few days before the Nov. 6, 2012 election, GOP Ohio SoS Husted decided to put “experimental software patches” into voting machines. As Harry Hursti showed in the “Hursti Hack.” It is easy to change vote totals through altering software on memory cards or inserting software into electronic voting machines.

In a new article published in The Free Press by Gerry Bello and Bob Fitrakis, the writers say the “uncertified” software could possibly corrupt votes and have security flaws open to “man in the middle” attacks:

“This uncertified and untested software could easily malfunction and corrupt votes on the central tabulation machines, thus destroying any electronic record of the actual votes by citizens. This “experimental” software, as outlined in the contract, has no security protocols. A “man in the middle” attack, like the one that stole the Ohio election for George W. Bush in 2004, could be directly facilitated by this untested and uncertified software installation.

The Secretary of State’s office has used every legal contortion to avoid the use of science and the possibility of public scrutiny of this possibly illegal software. The Free Press will continue to report on this story as it develops.”

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Romney’s Odd Hotheaded Comments about Foreign Policy Reveal his Inexperience

Foreign Policy Cat is shocked by Mitt Romney's Missteps on Foreign Policy Issues. Photo Credit: 365 x 19 Cat Posing by david masters on flickr cc

Foreign Policy Cat is shocked by Mitt Romney’s Missteps on Foreign Policy Issues. Photo Credit: 365 x 19 Cat Posing by david masters on flickr cc

Romney’s Negative Political Maneuvering

What was Mitt Romney thinking when he angrily accused President Obama of things that President Obama never said or did? Romney seems to be reading from a script that uses certain hot-button key words meant to rile-up his base. Mitt Romney’s recent inflammatory comments about the Obama’s administration’s response to the attacks on the Libyan and Egyptian U.S. diplomatic missions appeared to be political grandstanding.

Even Republican foreign policy experts were shocked at Romney’s strange attack on President Obama.

On PBS, Nicholas Burns, Former U.S. Ambassador who served both Republican and Democratic administrations said he watched President Obama’s response to the tragic attacks on the U.S. Libyan Consulate and the U.S. Egyptian Embassy. He said President Obama, “in no way shape or form apologized.” …

“I don’t think it was right for Governor Romney to have jumped in before he knew all the facts.”

Mitt Romney’s Foreign Policy Blunder

President Obama stated on September 12, 2012 in response to Romney’s inappropriate comments:

“Governor Romney seems to have a tendency to shoot first and aim later. And as President, one of the things I’ve learned is that you can’t do that.”

Scott Galupo in an article from The American Conservative stated in his article, “The First Unmistakable Sign of Panic from the Romney Campaign”:

“The Romney campaign’s reaction to the attacks on U.S. diplomatic missions in Egypt and Libya was, as Daniel Larison says, “hasty and stupid.”

Romney’s Preliminary Foreign Policy Team Would Return to NeoCon Days of G. W. Bush

An article by Alex Kane on Alternet, “Mitt Romney’s Dangerous Foreign Policy Team: Nostalgic for Bush, Hellbent on War with Iran” clearly shows that Romney’s foreign policy approach and prospective team would most likely return to an outdated and dangerous cold war mentality:

“The most striking aspect of Romney’s approach to foreign policy is its lack of creativity — its brazen willingness to recycle Bush-era talking points, attitudes, and of course personnel,” said Peter Certo, a researcher at Right Web, a project of the Institute for Policy Studies. “A Romney administration would be a fresh canvas for the neocons to paint on.”

In a recent speech about foreign policy Romney claimed he would utilize military might. It appears that his world view is all about hard power with the idea that the United States should arrogantly utilize its big guns to push its interests.

Balanced Foreign Policy requires Wisdom, Courage and Diplomatic Skills

A healthy relationship with foreign countries and its peoples around the world requires an ability to use wisdom, courage, diplomacy and what is characterized as “smart” power.

Based on Romney’s recent foreign policy statements including his bizarre comments about Russia being the biggest threat to the U.S., it is clear that Romney would take the U.S. back to the 20th Century and a cold war strategy of foreign policy.

We are in the 21st Century and we have new challenges. We need leaders capable of bringing people together and focusing on the importance of dialogue and diplomacy over the outdated idea that “might makes right”.

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SMARTech, Boss Rove and the 2004 and 2012 Ohio Elections

Two political election integrity cats just read Boss Rove by Craig Unger and they don't understand how Karl Rove claims he doesn't know about SMARTech which was used in the Ohio 2004 election and is slated to be used in the Ohio 2012 Election. Will the votes mysteriously shift in the middle of the night like they did in 2004 at 11:14 pm when votes went to SMARTech servers in Chatanooga TN? Photo Credit: BC CATS bu John Schanlaub on flickr cc

Two political election integrity cats just read Boss Rove by Craig Unger and they don’t understand how Karl Rove claims he doesn’t know about SMARTech which was used in the Ohio 2004 election and is slated to be used in the Ohio 2012 Election. Will the votes mysteriously shift in the middle of the night like they did in 2004 at 11:14 pm when votes went to SMARTech servers in Chattanooga TN? Photo Credit: BC CATS bu John Schanlaub on flickr cc

DEMOCRACY NOW! interviewed author Craig Unger who wrote the book: Boss Rove: Inside Karl Rove’s Secret Kingdom of Power

Democracy Now! Interview with Craig Unger, author of Boss Rove: Inside Karl Rove's Secret Kingdom of Power

Democracy Now! Interview with Craig Unger, author of Boss Rove: Inside Karl Rove’s Secret Kingdom of Power

Craig Unger explains how in 2004 former Ohio GOP Secretary of State Ken Blackwell employed SMARTech (owned by Averbeck) together with Michael Connell (New Media Communications and GovTech). Unger said that Michael Connell used SMARTech’s Chattanooga Tennessee computers to host Connell’s websites, many of which were created for the Republican party and related organizations.

Republican-Connected IT company, SMARTech, to be Used in the 2012 Ohio Presidential Election

In 20012 the current Ohio GOP Secretary of State Jon Husted plans to once again use SMARTech for the 2012 Ohio Presidential Election. It would be interesting to know how SOS Husted plans to utilize SMARTech and if he will admit knowledge of the use of SMARTech. Will the computer IT architecture be similar to the one created in 2004 where Stephen Spoonamore claimed the architecture was a classic Man-In-The Middle attack format for the ability to manipulate vote totals.

Craig Unger on New Book, “Boss Rove: Inside Karl Rove’s Secret Kingdom of Power.” 1 of 2

Craig Unger on New Book, “Boss Rove: Inside Karl Rove’s Secret Kingdom of Power.” 2 of 2

Boss Rove, the 2004 Ohio Election and IT firm SMARTech

Democracy Now! Amy Goodman asked Craig Unger about what happened in the Ohio 2004 election and Karl Rove’s connection with that election. Here is a portion of the transcript:

AMY GOODMAN: So now let’s go back to Ohio, in fact, Ohio and SMARTech. This is the one chance you ever had to question Karl Rove about that.

CRAIG UNGER: Exactly. And I met Karl Rove in Alabama, and I asked him. And he said, “SMARTech? What’s that? I’ve never heard of it.”

Well, SMARTech is a high-tech company in Chattanooga. And what you see with Rove’s methodology is he manages to have things happen in his benefit, and there are no fingerprints. But I traced the ownership of SMARTech and its precursors, and the original company was funded by two—its precursor, rather, was funded by two Republicans named Bill DeWitt and Mercer Reynolds. Mercer Reynolds was finance chairman of the Republican Party. In ’04, he raised about a quarter of a billion dollars for the Bush-Cheney campaign. And in the ’80s, they had bailed out George W. Bush in his oil ventures, DeWitt and Reynolds had. So they were very, very close to him.

And this company started off as a very legitimate high-tech company in Chattanooga during the dot-com boom. It later reformed under a different name and different ownership, but by then it had become very much a political operation. So, this was a highly, highly partisan Republican high-tech company. It hosted—its biggest clients included the Bush-Cheney campaign, it included Jeb Bush, it included the Republican National Committee. It streamed live the convention, the Republican convention.

And somehow or other, in 2004, in the state of Ohio, which was the single most crucial state in the Electoral College, when it came to the actual voting, the secretary of state of Ohio, a guy named Ken Blackwell—and the secretary of state’s job is to—part of it is to ensure fair, nonpartisan elections—happened to be co-chair of the Bush campaign. Now, there’s no conflict there. And he gave a contract to host the fail oversight for the Republican—rather, for the votes in 2004, to none other than SMARTech. And this is where things went a little crazy.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: But how was that allowed to happen even? I mean—

CRAIG UNGER: Well, I mean, I think it is a huge conflict of interest on the face of it for the secretary of state of a party to be affiliated with one campaign or the other. And we saw it, of course, in Florida in 2000 with Katherine Harris.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, 2004, election night, tell us the story.

CRAIG UNGER: Right, Well, about at 11:14 p.m., things started to happen, exactly 11:14 p.m. And as the votes came in, it was clear it was going to be an all-nighter in terms of the results. And around 11:00, Florida was called for Bush, and that meant the entire fate of the election hinged on Ohio. So, suddenly—excuse me—the servers for the secretary of state’s computers were flooded with queries.

AMY GOODMAN: Ohio secretary of state.

CRAIG UNGER: Exactly. And they needed to lock into the fail oversight in Chattanooga with SMARTech. And this is where the results went a little crazy. And suddenly, an enormous number of irregular returns came in, and the votes shifted. The exit polls had shown Kerry winning Ohio, and therefore the election. And it looked like he had won the presidential election. I remember that day vividly because I was getting reports from the exit polls, and I went around telling people it looked like Kerry had won. But there was a 6.7 percent difference between the exit polls and the actual results. And as a result, the election ended up going to Bush. And that was the entire story.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: In writing about what happened in Ohio as well as in Alabama, one of the things that you say about Rove is that a case can be made that for the last three decades he’s been putting a systematic attempt to game the American electoral system by whatever means necessary. What kind of vision does Karl Rove have for the Republican Party and for American politics?

CRAIG UNGER: Right. Well, I don’t think he’s an ideologue. I think he’s about winning. And he’s often been compared to a guy named Mark Hanna, who more than a century ago was the political mind behind President William McKinley. He was a senator from Ohio, but he was also a political operative who put McKinley in the White House and forged a realignment. There’s always been this talk of a permanent Republican majority that Rove is trying to forge, and he sees it, the nation, as being entirely Republican. And, in fact, I think that’s Rove’s line, and I don’t buy it.

Ken Blackwell at August 2012 Republican Convention Denies any Knowledge of SMARTech in Interview with Democracy Now

Ken Blackwell claims he didn’t know anything about SMARTech which his office employed in a contract in 2004 for the 2004 Presidential Election even though court documents in a lawsuit show a signed contract between SMARTech and the Ohio Secretary of State’s Office.
Partial Transcript from Interview with Ken Blackwell by Democracy Now! producer Mike Burke:

MIKE BURKE: One more question, sir. Last week on our program, we interviewed the journalist Craig Unger, who has a new book about Karl Rove. He dedicates a lot of time in the book to the 2004 election in Ohio.

KEN BLACKWELL: That’s good.

MIKE BURKE: And he raised serious questions about—

KEN BLACKWELL: What kind of questions did he raise?

MIKE BURKE: Well, he had questions about the accuracy of the vote. And he—

KEN BLACKWELL: Look, let me tell you something about—no, no, let me tell you something about 2004. I hear a lot of urban myths about 2004 about voter suppression and long voter lines. And the case study that they use is Franklin County. Franklin County is where Columbus is located, and there were long lines. But there were long lines due to tremendous efforts by both sides to get out the vote and a decision that was made that students at Ohio State University would vote in Columbus as opposed to their home precincts.

But what I think is incumbent upon you to get across to your folks, who view you, is this: that in Ohio, voting machine location is determined by 88 county boards of elections. Each one of those boards of elections have two members—two Democrats and two Republicans. In 2004, the head of the Franklin County Board of Elections was a guy by the named Bill Anthony. He was a labor leader. He was vice chairman of the Franklin County party, Democratic Party. He was a co-chairman of the Kerry campaign, and he was African American. I don’t think that he would have allowed voting machines to deliberately not be placed in African-American communities.

MIKE BURKE: Sir, but is—

KEN BLACKWELL: But it is—no, excuse me, sir—but it is this notion that the secretary of state made a determination, therefore getting long lines that frustrated African-American voters, that was not the case. I haven’t read the book, so I won’t comment on it.

MIKE BURKE: But I’m not asking about the book, in particular, sir.

KEN BLACKWELL: I won’t comment.

MIKE BURKE: But, sir—

KEN BLACKWELL: I won’t comment.

MIKE BURKE: But, sir, he asked about a company called SMARTech.

KEN BLACKWELL: I don’t know anything about SMARTech.


KEN BLACKWELL: So, that’s—that’s—

MIKE BURKE: My understanding is that Ohio actually had a contract with this company.

KEN BLACKWELL: You know what? Let me tell you something.


KEN BLACKWELL: I, in fact, gave you my time.

MIKE BURKE: Right, and—

KEN BLACKWELL: And—excuse me. I gave you my time. In Ohio in 2004, we had a record turnout of African-American voters.

MIKE BURKE: But that’s not my question.

KEN BLACKWELL: Excuse me. Excuse me. Excuse me.

MIKE BURKE: My question, sir, was about SMARTech.

KEN BLACKWELL: My answer—my answer is this—

MIKE BURKE: Right, but you’re not answering my question.

KEN BLACKWELL: No, my answer is this: Ohio, examined by Ohio newspapers and election authorities, had a good election, a clean election—not a perfect election, but a good and fair election—

MIKE BURKE: But the question—

KEN BLACKWELL: —in 2004.

MIKE BURKE: But the question raised in this book, sir—

KEN BLACKWELL: That is my answer. Over and out.


Do you think Karl Rove and Ken Blackwell need to take lie detector tests? How can they possibly deny knowledge of SMARTech with a straight face? Will Ohio election integrity folks check into the status of the use of SMARTech in the 2004 and 2012 elections? Perhaps for the integrity of the vote totals in Ohio it would seem like a pretty good idea. Meaow!

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Ohio Elections In the Spotlight

Election Cat wants to make sure the Ohio Election isn't stolen or rigged. She saw the role SmarTech and Triad played in the 2004 election is can't believe Ohio Sec of State is using them again for 2012 despite concerns that they possibly manipulated electronic voting machine tallies of the election. Photo Credit: Cat out of Bag by AlishaV on flickr cc

Election Cat wants to make sure the Ohio Election isn’t stolen or rigged. She saw the role SmarTech and Triad played in the 2004 election and she can’t believe GOP Ohio Sec of State Jon Husted is using them again for 2012 despite concerns that they possibly manipulated electronic voting machine tallies in the 2004 Presidential election. Photo Credit: Cat out of Bag by AlishaV on flickr cc

The Continuing Saga of Voting in Ohio

Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman wrote about the Ohio Election Debacle of 2004 and have been vigilent ever since to insure that Ohio elections are fair and honest. However, in a recent article in Counterpunch, the dynamic election integrity duo wrote an article, “Four Ways Ohio Republicans Are Already Stealing the 2012 Elections,” sounding alarm bells that the Ohio Republican Party operatives may already be stealing the 2012 election.

Fitrakis and Wasserman remind the American public that Republicans used similar multiple strategies in 2000 and 2004 to block the vote and possibly even change the vote tallies through computer manipulation of electronic voting machines.

1.  Purging the Vote

At least 1,250,000 citizens have been purged from Ohio voting rolls since 2009 by the GOP. According to the above article, the purge mostly affects citizens in urban and Democratic leaning counties.

2.  Republican-Connected Firms Own & Maintain Electronic Voting Machines in Ohio

Those who are eligible to vote in Ohio have another hurdle to insure their votes are properly counted. The voting machines they vote on are owned, operated, programmed and maintained “and will be tallied” by Republican-connected firms, including Diebold (now Premier), ES&S and Triad. The firm, Triad, has a troublesome past in how they mishandled the 2004 election. Will they mishandle the 2012 election using similar tactics? Smartech, located in Chattanooga, Tennessee, owned by Averbeck, played a major role in the 2004 Ohio elections.

3.  One-Party Rule in Ohio

The GOP controls “both houses of the Ohio Legislature, the governorship, the secretary of state’s office, and the state supreme court.” Without independent election monitors many voters may be incorrectly asked to show photo ID even though voters can use 17 different types of ID to prove who they are. Will groups like “True the Vote” who have vowed to question people to stop “voter fraud” disenfranchise American citizens in Ohio?

4.  Early Voting

10.6% of the votes cast in Ohio in 2004 were “early votes” “via absentee ballots.” However, at that time a person could only cast an absentee ballot if they were actually “absent.” Meanwhile in-person voting “at the 42 predominantly black inner-city precincts in Columbus voters waited between 3-7 hours to vote.”

Republicans in 2012 tried to allow early-voting for the GOP on week-ends in Republican counties while restricting early voting in Democratic leaning counties. Ohio Secretary of State Husted claimed he was “leveling the playing field” by restricting early voting on all weekends, including the week-end before the November 6 election for everyone. However, there was a backlash from Democrats like State Representative Charleta Tavares. She claimed blocking the vote the weekend before the election was designed to “suppress Democratic voters,” particularly African-American voters who voted “95% for Obama in 2008.”

Threat to Democracy:

What separates the United States from dictatorships is that we pride ourselves on having free, fair, honest and accurate elections. However, if partisan electronic voting companies own the machines, program the machines, maintain the machines and tally the votes, will they do so in a way that upholds the integrity of the vote?

It is worrisome that the same partisan-leaning firms, Smartech and Triad, that botched the Ohio 2004 election are once again major players in managing and counting the votes in Ohio. Here is an article with a summary of the GAO report: “Elections: Federal Efforts to Improve Security and Reliability of Electronic Voting Systems Are Under Way, but Key Activities Need to Be Completed”.

In the important King Lincoln Bronzeville v. Blackwell case, a detailed computer configuration is included which shows how the 2004 Election in Ohio was hacked by a Man-In-The Middle attack. It shows how computerized votes went to SmarTech’s computers in Chatanooga TN before reaching the former GOP Ohio Sec. of State’s Office, Ken Blackwell’s website where tallies from throughout the state were tabulated in the 2004 Presidential Election.

Here is a letter from lead Attorney Cliff Arnebeck for the King Lincoln Case where he exchanged emails with GOP IT security expert Stephen Spoonamore.

In the letter IT Security Expert Stephen Spoonamore states:

“Yes. They would have had data input capacities. The system might have been set up to log which source generated the data, but probably did not.”

“They [SmarTech] had full access and could change things when and if they wants.”

“SmarTech was a man in the middle. In my opinion they were not designed as a mirror, they were designed specifically to be a man in the middle.”

Stephen Spoonamore, Computer Security Guru, Election Theft with Voting Machines

A Man-In-The-Middle computer attack is when someone can intercept communications and change data through the configuration of the computer architecture. Stephen Spoonamore explained to Arnebeck that SmarTech and now deceased Mike Connell from GovTech Solutions arranged a special type of computer set-up that would be a Man In The Middle setup where electronic information including ballot tallies could be manipulated. Is that what happened in 2004 when suddenly overnight ballots shifted from John Kerry to G. W. Bush?

We must be vigilent and insure that our elections are properly administered and that our votes are properly counted as we cast them, not as others want them to be for their own political purposes. Protect the 2012 Vote.

Let’s Monitor the Vote Counting and the Voting Machines

Homer Simpson Tries to Vote for Obama in Ohio in 2008

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Will Congress Solve Problems Instead of Being Partisan?

Cats and Dogs get along, so why can't Democrats and Republicans? Photo Credit: Buddy and Chubbs by ckay on flickr cc

Cats and Dogs get along without resorting to cat or dog fights, so why can’t Democrats and Republicans? Photo Credit: Buddy and Chubbs by ckay on flickr cc

The American Enterprise Institute’s (AEI) June 11, 2012 forum, “Conservatism and the Republican Party” featured Norman Ornstein, Resident Scholar at AEI, and Steven Hayward, Public Policy Senior Fellow at AEI providing their views on the topic.

Ornstein said the “litmus test positions” Republicans take to prove they are conservative enough causes gridlock in Washington D.C. He said Republicans feel obliged to hold to these positions once they take them which contributes to an inability to problem-solve together across party lines about key issues confronting Americans today. He addresses these concerns in his new book, “It’s Even Worse Than It Looks.”

Norman Ornstein said of the problem with Republicans like Romney being pressured to take certain positions on immigration as part of the litmus test of whether they are conservative enough:

Mitt Romney is not just the etch-a-sketch guy, but the chameleon.”

Steven Hayward expressed his concern about the Republican majority party in Congress. He said:

“I think the Republican party atrophied in those decades when they were out of power. …The democrats became a more legislative party. They are better at running Congress. There is no question of that. And Republicans have yet to prove that they are any good in governing as a majority.”

Norm Ornstein relayed when President Obama said he was for the framework of the bipartisan Gang of Six Plan on the Budget as a starting point, a senior Republican leadership aide told Politico that if the President was for the plan, that kills it for Republicans because they would then be against it. Ornstein argued that this kind of purely ideological knee jerk reaction by conservatives on issues because President Obama is for something is exactly what needs to change in Washington D.C.

Haywood says, “The quickest way for Obama to kill a deal he doesn’t like is to praise it publicly up front. Maybe I’m being too clever and cynical, I don’t know.”

Ornstein said that we have a population that is aging and living longer. This will require that we will have some increases in entitlements. He said currently we have tax rates that are the lowest level of the GDP since the 1950’s, and the idea that cutting them further will enable us to deal with deficits and debt is just bizarre.

On the Debt Ceiling Debacle

Ornstein said both parties are hypocritical when it comes to extending the debt ceiling because depending on which party is in power, they switch their positions to support the administration that reflects their own party when their party wants to extend the ceiling. He is concerned that repeating the debt-ceiling fiasco of 2011 will possibly further damage our economic standing in the world and could have ripple effects that would harm our economy.

Norm Ornstein recommends some reforms like reforming the filibuster. He thinks moving beyond “tribal politics” is challenging but must be done to effectively tackle problems like health care.

Ornstein said the single largest component of Medicare and Medicaid confronting us is long-term care for the elderly. We fund it largely through Medicaid. He said that cutting Medicaid to the states could have disastrous consequences that would result in insufficient care for our aging parents and friends. He challenges liberals and conservatives to sit down and truly problem solve these issues. Ornstein said that major costs facing the U.S. are related to health care costs.

Ornstein says it is ridiculous that conservatives claim Democrats are socialist when they didn’t even back a single-payer system.

However, Hayward isn’t supportive of reforming the filibuster.

Even though they disagreed about how to achieve the results, both Hayward and Ornstein expressed the need for democrats and republicans to come together to solve our countries problems.

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Voter Suppression via “True the Vote” Voter Intimidation Tactics

Election Integrity cat wants to know what is really going on at the True the Vote Ohio Summit – especially the discussion between former Ohio Republican Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell and the current Ohio Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted. She hopes SOS Husted is less partisan than Blackwell since the 2004 Ohio election was a disaster for insuring an honest fair election for all Ohioans. Photo Credit by Cat by NathanF on flickr cc

“True the Vote” accused of Voter Suppression Tactics

The organization called “True the Vote” sounds like it wants to insure voter protection from the title of the group. However, according to folks who have attended recent events sponsored by True the Vote like the summit August 18, 2012 in Colorado, the attendees of this organization’s events are being schooled in tactics to intimidate and target voters they consider “liberal”. Attendees to these summits learn tactics for questioning voters at the polls, trying to find ways to purge voters from election rolls before an election – especially minorities who may tend to vote democratic.

“True the Vote” wants to appear non-partisan. However, their actions reveal they are out to intimidate voters who do not vote their way, the Republican way.

True the Vote Ohio Summit August 25, 2012

All the speakers they have selected for the True the Vote Summit on August 25, 2012 in Ohio are Republicans according to the press release. Here is a screen shot of their press release:

Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted and former Ohio Republican Secretary of State Ken Blackwell speak together at the Ohio True the Vote Summit August 25, 2012

Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted and former Ohio Republican Secretary of State Ken Blackwell speak together at the Ohio True the Vote Summit August 25, 2012

They claim they are cosponsoring the event with Ohio Voter Protection. However, who exactly are they referring to? There is an organization called Ohio Voter Protection Coalition, but no organization of note called just Ohio Voter Protection. The only speakers scheduled in their press release are all people who are partisan folks on the Republican side of the aisle.

Here is an article by someone who went undercover to find out what goes on at True the Vote events:

Steven Rosenfeld in his article “Going Undercover at the GOP’s Voter Vigilante Project to Disrupt the Nov. Election” said of Katherine Englebrecht and then John Fund, author of a book claiming there is massive voter fraud (even though evidence shows there has been only 10 convicted folks since 2ooo):

Her war stories [Katherine Englebrecht – founder of King Street Patriots of which True the Vote emerged] continued. They were low-rent compared to later speakers, who described a full-throated U.S. Justice Department conspiracy to ignore discrimination against white voters, or Fund telling people that they should enjoy bullying liberals because they were doing God’s work. “Your opposition are cartoon characters. They are. They are fun to beat up. They are fun to humiliate,” he intoned. “You are on the side of the angels. And these people are just frauds, charlatans and liars.”

Joyce Beatty speaks on voter suppression organization efforts in Ohio

Joyce Beatty said “True the Vote” which was investigated by DOJ for voter intimidation in 2010 “are trying to kill the vote.”

Featured Speakers include Former Ohio Republican Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell (2003-2007) and current Ohio Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted (2011 to the present).

Former Ohio GOP Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell has the distinction of overseeing one of the worst election debacles during the 2004 Presidential Election in Ohio. This 2004 Ohio election resulted in the most inept and troubling elections for voters in the history of Ohio elections. For details about the problems with that election, see this earlier post and this report, “Preserving Democracy: What Went Wrong in Ohio”.

Here is an excerpt from the above report executive summary:

Chronology of Events [November 4, 2004]
The Lead Up to the 2004 Ohio Presidential Election In Ohio – In the days leading up to election day 2004, a consensus appeared to have emerged among observers that the state of Ohio would be one of the battleground states that would decide who would be elected the Forty-fourth President of the United States. (See Susan Page, Swing States Lean to Kerry: Democrat Ties Bush Nationally, USA TODAY, Nov. 1, 2004; Anne E. Kornblut, Big Push to the Finish: Bush, Kerry Make Last Stand in Crucial States, BOSTON GLOBE, Nov. 1, 2004; Mike Allen and Lois Romano, A Feverish Pitch in Final Hours, WASH. POST, Oct. 31, 2004.)   Both the Democratic and Republican Presidential campaigns, as well as outside groups, had spent considerable time and resources to win the state, but the day before the election, the Democratic candidate, Senator John Kerry, appeared to have the edge. The Democratic Party also had vastly outperformed its Republican counterparts in registering voters in this key state. (See Ford Fessenden, A Big Increase Of New Voters in Swing States, N.Y. TIMES, Sept. 26, 2004.)

Election Day – Numerous irregularities were reported throughout Ohio. In particular, in predominately Democratic and African-American areas, the voting process was chaotic, taxing and ultimately fruitless for many. The repeated and suspicious challenges of voter eligibility and a lack of inadequate number of voting machines in these areas worked in concert to slow voting to a crawl, with voting lines as long as ten hours.  Voters reported bizarre “glitches” in voting machines where votes for Senator Kerry were registered as votes for the President [GW Bush].    The counting process was similarly chaotic and suspect.

The election was so riddled with problems primarily in democratic strongholds that a special investigative report revealed the horrors voters experienced on election day that November 2004. Here is a partial list:

*  not enough voting machines and broken nonworking voting machines resulting in voters, primarily democrats or minorities, waiting in lines for up to 9 hours

*  voters incorrectly purged from voting rolls

*  voter intimidation at the polls questioning if they were citizens or registered voters

*  voters in democratic areas received notices saying democrats should vote on a different day than the actual election

*  problems with the way the votes were tabulated resulting in questions about the final tally.

*  problems with absentee ballots reaching voters in time for them to cast a ballot.

*  problems with provisional ballots. Very few were ever counted once they were cast.

*  93,000 ballots that had the selection for President missing.

* Electronic DRE machines that switched voter’s votes from Kerry to Bush

Kenneth Blackwell’s administration of the 2004 Ohio General Election was a travesty of justice. As Secretary of State one would think that once in office, that person would dispense with partisan issues and want to insure that all Americans regardless of party affiliation would be encouraged to vote and have their votes properly counted. However, under Kenneth Blackwell, it seems that every dirty trick in the book was used to disenfranchise and discourage American citizens in Ohio from voting on that day or any other day.

Since the current Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted was meeting at the same “True the Vote” Ohio Summit as Blackwell, one wonders what tips they are trading regarding elections. Hopefully, no tips, because any tips Blackwell would trade based on his track record would most likely bode badly for fair elections for people of any political party except Republicans.

Chairman Redfern on Ohio Republican Voter Disenfranchisement

In the final 3 days of the 2008 early election cycle under former Ohio Democratic Secretary of State Judith Bruner, 93,000 people voted from all parties. However, during the 2004 election under former Ohio Republican Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell, 15,000 voters in Franklin County in the city of Columbus went home because they were unable to continue waiting in line to cast a ballot.

It is clear that early voting the last 3 days before the official election insures there are less lines and that working people can vote outside of working hours. That is why it makes no sense that Ohio Secretary of State Husted would then eliminate the last 3 days of early voting which includes a necessary week-end that would make it easier for voters to cast a ballot in person, especially if they work on election day. Also, allowing voters to cast a ballot 3 days before the election on November 6, 2012 will free up polls and insure voters will not necessarily have to wait long hours to cast a vote on election day. It seems Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted should rethink his decision if he really cares about the freedom of all Americans to be able to cast a ballot.

Mr. Husted should realize that the Ohio election is being watched carefully by all Americans and people around the world to see if he takes tips from Ken Blackwell or if he charts his own course to truly act in a non-partisan fashion to protect every citizen’s vote. It is time to get beyond the party partisanship and allow Americans to decide who they want for their elected representatives, instead of rigging an election in oh so many dirty trick ways out of the Karl Rove handbook of dirty tricks.

Bill Moyers Essay: Share Your Stories of Voter Suppression

Bill Moyers encourages Americans to stand up and stop voter suppression.

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PA Voter ID Law Could Disenfranchise Over 750,000 Legal Voters

Election cat is on watch to protect the vote. She heard that 750,000 Pennsylvania residents don’t have proper voter id for the 2012 election and she is looking for an honest politician to stop this voter suppression right now! Photo Credit: Spider Cat by rabbot on flickr cc

Are Republicans Undermining the Civil Right for U.S. Citizens to Cast a Vote?

There you have it. The fraud of voter fraud could end up disenfranchising millions of people nationwide from being able to cast a vote in the 2012 U.S. Presidential Election. In Pennsylvania over 750,000 legal voters could be prevented from casting a vote in the upcoming election because they don’t have proper “voter ID.” This is all in the name of “freedom”.

Pundits continue to demonstrate they have been infected with the “freedom talking point syndrome” where they are impelled to say “freedom” to justify any type of voter ID law or anything else because “freedom” is supposedly a magic talking point in Frank Luntz land.

According to ThinkProgress Alex Brown’s article, “Over 750,000 Pennsylvanians Could Be Disinfrancised by Voter ID Law,”:

“A comparison, carried out by state officials, of registered voters and PennDOT ID databases show that only 92 percent of Pennsylvanis’s 8.2 million voters have an acceptable voter ID. In Philadelphia, where voters will be hardest hit by the new law 18 percent of voters lack proper ID. State officials had previously [mistakenly] estimated that 99 percent of voters had acceptable IDs:”

“What’s truly scary about this report is that it makes my case,” Allegheny County Controller Chelsa Wagner said. “About 10 percent of otherwise eligible Pennsylvanians are disenfranchised by the Voter ID law. That’s not an acceptable number of people to tell that they can’t vote.” Disenfranchised groups, Wagner said, include older residents, students and the poor.

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Stealing the Election Vote by Vote in Ohio in 2004 and 2012?

Election Cat is upset that Republican Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted cut back on early voting hours on week-ends, just days before the 2012 election. She thinks Ohio SOS Husted might not care about helping everyone have access to casting a vote. It seems Husted’s predecessor Democratic Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner was concerned about long lines from 2004 and she allowed extra hours on week-ends for early voting in Ohio in 2008. Photo Credit: 1 Lazy persian cat by Magnus Brath on flickr cc

Remember Ohio 2004 to Protect the Vote in Ohio 2012

The 2012 Election is less than 75 days away and GOP Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted elected in 2010 has proven with recent decisions to cut early voting hours that he is not interested in helping more voters to be able to cast their vote. In fact, he even suspended two democrats who wanted to extend early voting hours on week-ends before the November 2012 election.

Jon Husted attempted to appear “fair” by saying he will keep early voting polls open until 7 pm on week days, but there will be no additional hours on week-ends. In 2008 three days before the election 93,000 voters took advantage of early voting hours on week-ends, especially after church on Sunday. However, Jon Husted has cut out that option which seems purely politically motivated to suppress the vote for mostly minority and democratic voters. Husted claims he’s cutting hours due to cost. However, comments made by Doug Preiss, chairman of the county Republican Party and elections board member who voted against weekend hours in an email to “The Dispatch” reveal a bias to perhaps not care to help working people have access to the polls:

“I guess I really actually feel we shouldn’t contort the voting process to accommodate the urban – read African-American – voter-turnout machine,” said Doug Preiss, chairman of the county Republican Party and elections board member who voted against weekend hours, in an email to “The Dispatch.”

The Columbus Dispatch reported reactions of Ohio voters to Husted’s cuts to early voting on week-ends:

Deidre Reese, coordinator of Ohio Unity Coalition, said Husted’s decree does not accommodate the schedules of many working people.

In 2008, Democratic Ohio Secretary of State, Jennifer Brunner,  (elected in November 2006) corrected many problems from the 2004 election. There were more voting machines for everyone, long lines were eliminated thanks to early voting extended hours for working people who could not come during the work day. Yet, with the election of the current GOP Ohio Secretary of State Husted in 2010, Ohio election protection to insure everyone gets to vote seems to have made a complete about face in the wrong direction. See for yourself.

In Ohio’s 2004 election there were horrible lines. At the time GOP Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell was responsible for overseeing the 2004 election. Many primarily Democratic precincts had less voting machines compared to Republican precincts resulting in long lines.

Link to transcript of video

(Final difference between Kerry v Bush, Bush won by less than 120,000 votes.)

According to a Mother Jones article, “The Dog That Voted and Other Election Fraud Yarns” by Kevin Drum, voter fraud is the talking point used to justify voter suppression tactics. Here Drum recounts election problems with the 2004 Ohio election:

But if Republicans spent the 2004 election season feverishly warning that Democrats were scheming to steal the White House, it was nothing compared to the furor among Democrats after the election. The early exit polls on Election Day had suggested that John Kerry was leading in virtually every key state, including the crucial battleground of Ohio. Yet by the time all the actual votes were counted, Kerry’s anticipated victory turned into a narrow loss—by a mere 120,000-vote margin in Ohio—and Bush secured a second term.

[So, you might be wondering, what’s wrong with laws requiring photo ID? Simple: Too many people can’t easily get one.]
Outrage boiled over immediately, and not just around muttered conspiracy theories that Republicans might have rigged Ohio’s Diebold voting machines. Balloting problems were so widespread in 2004 that when the Democratic staff of the House Judiciary Committee wrote a report titled “What Went Wrong in Ohio,” the executive summary alone was three pages long. The bill of particulars was damning: Misallocation of voting machines led to long lines in Democratic precincts; Republicans knocked minority voters off the rolls with “caging” tactics (sending letters to voters’ listed addresses and purging those whose mail was returned); some 93,000 ballots were declared spoiled and left uncounted. The report blamed one man above all for these problems: Ohio’s Republican secretary of state, Kenneth Blackwell, who was also a state co-chair for the Bush-Cheney campaign. In one notorious move, Blackwell ordered county election boards to reject voter registration forms printed on paper of “less than 80 lb. text weight.” (This order, at least, was later rescinded.)

Here is the Status Report of the House Judiciary Committee Democratic Staff, “Preserving Democracy: What Went Wrong in Ohio.” The report outlines the multiple failures of the Ohio Secretary of State, Ken Blackwell, to protect the vote for all Ohio voters. Here is a partial list of some of the egregious violations cited in the above report:

  • The misallocation of voting machines led to unprecedented long lines that disenfranchised scores, if not hundreds of thousands of predominantly minority and Democratic voters. This was illustrated by the fact that the Washington Post reported that in Franklin County, “27 of the 30 wards with the most machines per registered voter showed majorities for Bush. At the other end of the spectrum, six of the seven wards with the fewest machines delivered large margins for Kerry.”1 (p. 4-5)
  • Mr. Blackwell’s decision to restrict provisional ballots resulted in the disenfranchisement of tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of voters, again predominantly minority and Democratic voters. (p. 5)
  • Mr. Blackwell’s widely reviled decision to reject voter registration applications based on paper weight may have resulted in thousands of new voters not being registered in time for the 2004 election.
  • The Ohio Republican Party’s decision to engage in preelection “caging” tactics, selectively targeting 35,000 predominantly minority voters for intimidation had a negative impact on voter turnout. The Third Circuit found these activities to be illegal and in direct violation of consent decrees barring the Republican Party from targeting minority voters for poll challenges.
  • The Ohio Republican Party’s decision to utilize thousands of partisan challengers concentrated in minority and Democratic areas likely disenfranchised tens of thousands of legal voters, who were not only intimidated, but became discouraged by the long lines.    Shockingly, these disruptions were publicly predicted and acknowledged by Republican officials: Mark Weaver, a lawyer for the Ohio Republican Party, admitted the challenges “can’t help but create chaos, longer lines and frustration.”
  • Mr. Blackwell’s decision to prevent voters who requested absentee ballots but did not receive them on a timely basis from being able to receive provisional ballots likely disenfranchised thousands, if not tens of thousands, of voters, particularly seniors. A federal court found Mr. Blackwell’s order to be illegal and in violation of HAVA. (p. 5-6)
  • There were widespread instances of intimidation and misinformation in violation of the Voting Rights Act, the Civil Rights Act of 1968, Equal Protection, Due Process and the Ohio right to vote. Mr. Blackwell’s apparent failure to institute a single investigation into these many serious allegations represents a violation of his statutory duty under Ohio law to investigate election irregularities. (p. 6)
  • We learned of improper purging and other registration errors by election officials that likely disenfranchised tens of thousands of voters statewide. The Greater Cleveland Voter Registration Coalition projects that in Cuyahoga County alone over 10,000 Ohio citizens lost their right to vote as a result of official registration errors. (p. 6)
  • There were 93,000 spoiled ballots where no vote was cast for president, the vast majority of which have yet to be inspected. The problem was particularly acute in two precincts in Montgomery County which had an undervote rate of over 25% each – accounting for nearly 6,000 voters who stood in line to vote, but purportedly declined to vote for president. (p. 6)
  • There were numerous, significant unexplained irregularities in other counties throughout the state: (i) in Mahoning county at least 25 electronic machines transferred an unknown number of Kerry votes to the Bush column; (ii) Warren County locked out public observers from vote counting citing an FBI warning about a potential terrorist threat, yet the FBI states that it issued no such warning; (iii) the voting records of Perry county show significantly more votes than voters in some precincts, significantly less ballots than voters in other precincts, and voters casting more than one ballot; (iv) in Butler county a down ballot and underfunded Democratic State Supreme Court candidate implausibly received more votes than the best funded Democratic Presidential candidate in history; (v) in Cuyahoga county, poll worker error may have led to little known third- party candidates receiving twenty times more votes than such candidates had ever received in otherwise reliably Democratic leaning areas; (vi) in Miami county, voter turnout was an improbable and highly suspect 98.55 percent, and after 100 percent of the precincts were reported, an additional 19,000 extra votes were recorded for President Bush.

In November 2006 a new Ohio Democratic Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner was elected. She determined to correct the abuses of her predecessor, GOP SOS Kenneth Blackwell. Brunner wanted to restore trust in the Ohio election system and prevent the senseless problems that erupted from the 2004 election. She allowed early voting and extended hours for voting on week-ends.

Here is a video of Jennifer Brunner explaining why she decided to run in 2010 for Senator of Ohio as she completed her term as Secretary of State of 4 years.

The result was that in 2008 over 3% of the population of Ohio voted in early elections. That is 147,000 people.
Remember in 2004, the Presidential election was won by G. W. Bush with less than 120,000 votes which seemed to disappear overnight from John Kerry. There are still unanswered questions regarding what happened to ballots in cyberspace at that time.

See this article for more information regarding the bizarre change in ballots in the Ohio 2004 election in the evening hours after the polls closed. It seems the bigger threat to secure elections is election fraud by computer manipulation instead of in person voter fraud used to pass horrible repressive voter I.D. laws across the red states, especially in swing states like Florida and Ohio.

Possible 2004 Election Computer Manipulation by Karl Rove’s IT Guru Michael Connell

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