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Maryland politics is quickly becoming bizarro-land. We have a Republican Governor, Ehrlich, coming out and demanding paper ballots for November's mid-term elections. Ehrlich's demands are met by Maryland Democratic officials, notably Linda Lamone & Mike Miller, as "crazy" and that it "cannot happen" and "will not happen."

But, most striking of all, there are new votes which have been unearthed from the 9/12 primary:

In Montgomery and Prince George's counties yesterday, election officials continued to count the thousands of paper provisional ballots that could determine the outcome of the 4th Congressional District Democratic primary race between incumbent U.S. Rep. Albert R. Wynn and challenger Donna Edwards. Prince George's officials yesterday cracked opened 26 machines and retrieved votes that had not been counted.

More on the newly-unearthed votes:
In the days since then, [Prince George's election officials] have also discovered that dozens of memory cards were not counted after the election; some remained locked in voting machines for days.

Yesterday, county election officials began opening selected machines to locate the missing cards and capture the voting information contained on them.

This is in addition to the mysterious truck which showed up at the Board of Elections on the evening after the primary. The article doesn't state whether or not these are additional votes from MD-04, but this is just the latest in a pattern of incompetence and carelessness by those who run and organize elections state-wide.

Back to Ehrlich and paper ballots:

Henry Fawell, a spokesman for Ehrlich, said the governor's top priority was to replace the electronic poll books, used to check in voters. But he said Ehrlich "is also interested in moving voters to a paper ballot for this year's general election."

"He realizes it's a tall order," Fawell said. But moving to paper ballots would "eliminate the chronic problems that electronic voting machines demonstrated [Sept. 12] with respect to crashing and susceptibility to tampering."

As was noted here previously, an earlier MD bill which would have mandated optical scanners and paper ballots passed the Maryland House. However, it later died in the Senate, as you'll read below.

Linda Lamone, the state elections board head, was the architect of the electronic poll books.

According to VoteTrust, Miller and his fellow Senate Committee members (with Lamone's backing):

...voted to use the money intended for accurate, auditable, and accessible equipment and spend it on electronic poll books instead and they're using inflated prices to defeat the move to paper ballots.

A House Delegate was even quoted as saying that Lamone was "trying anything she can to sabotage this bill." Lamone is the ex-President of the National Association of State Election Directors (NASED). (She's currently an adviser to NASED, which is responsible for selecting the "independent" testing authorities whose task it is to scrutinize voting systems for federal certification.) Lamone and her peers at NASED have a history of scoffing at (or lying about) all debate regarding the integrity of voting machines and particularly the necessity of voter-verified paper trails. Back in 2002, Lamone allowed four counties to use Diebold voting machines despite the systems not being certified. (The machines would only be certified a year and a half later, though certification is rather meaningless when the testing practices are suspect.)

Lamone said just this past August:

"I think the system is fabulous...It's probably the most secure system in the country."

According to the Gazette:

When Ehrlich became governor in 2002, the Democratic legislature changed the rules even further -- now Linda Lamone can only be removed by an 80 percent supermajority of the full elections board and even when removed she keeps her job until her successor is approved (if ever) by the state Senate, controlled by Democrats!

In other words, at the prospect of a GOP governor the Democrats installed a Democratic elections-administrator for life.

...and given Lamone's close relationship with Mike Miller, Lamone will be that Democrat. Indeed, back in 2004, an attempt to remove Lamone was tried and later overturned by a circuit court judge.

As for the MD legislative action earlier in the year:

The amended bill, reported by the Ways and Means Committee, passed the House of Delegates by a vote of 137-0 on March 7, 2006, five weeks before the end of the 2006 session. It was hailed by VVPBAT supporters for its detailed language and high standards for both security and transparency.

The House-adopted bill was immediately referred to the Senate Education, Health and Environmental Affairs (ESE) committee, chaired by Senator Paula Hollinger. Prior to holding a hearing on HB 244, Senator Hollinger invited Diebold to demonstrate its newest paperless voting machine, the TSx. No other vendors were invited to the demonstration.

During the session, Diebold was hardly a silent voice in Annapolis. They hired a former staffer for Senate President Miller as a lobbyist, and a former Mikulski staff person to be their P.R. person. The Elections Administrator has been in Annapolis for many years and is said to have close ties to Senate President Mike Miller. This trio spread rumors around the state about the alleged inaccuracy of optical scanners.

When in doubt, grease a few palms and go on a PR blitz. It's the 21st century's version of leadership. Unfortunately, its the voters of Maryland who are getting the shaft as they face voter suppression via election-day chaos and, as has been reported, having to vote on pieces of scrap paper. Is this what you call progress?

Thanks Linda! Thanks Mike! Thanks Paula! Thanks to all of you who have turned our state into one synonymous with Ohio and Florida in terms of election fiascos. You're really doing a heck of a job!

Update [2006-9-21 0:35:55 by jorndorff]: More on the newly-discovered votes here and here. Jonathan Shurberg, an attorney for Edwards, said that the news "makes me sick to my stomach" and that "I don't have any confidence that there is an accurate vote count going on."

Antonetti said the votes that were being counted Wednesday were in machines that were left at various precincts primary election night. They could not be retrieved at the time, because the buildings they were in were locked. The machines were returned to the election board's warehouse in Upper Marlboro throughout the week, even as complaints about a variety of problems with the balloting mounted. As workers opened the cases holding the machines yesterday, they showed the candidates and reporters the untouched tamper tape, which is supposed to assure the board that the machines have not been disturbed. But some candidates were hearing about the voting machines for the first time on Wednesday morning.

Originally posted to jorndorff on Wed Sep 20, 2006 at 08:47 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tips? n/t (23+ / 0-)

    'Everybody's born-again these days; if you're not born-again you're dead, you're out of touch, yours is a minority view, you lose.' Barthelme 'Nat.Sel.'

    by jorndorff on Wed Sep 20, 2006 at 08:47:46 PM PDT

  •  Holy Crap (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cosette, wiscmass, ca democrat

    They're just now realizing that votes went uncounted from machines?

    Where are we - some backwater third world country?

    Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering. -8.75 / -6.10

    by Alegre on Wed Sep 20, 2006 at 08:51:47 PM PDT

  •  It makes me especially crazy... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    wiscmass

    ... when people say "if the Democrats were in power, they wouldn't care about this issue."

    Yes, they would, and they would fix it.  

    "If I don't get my crackers, I'm going to get angry." -7.50; -6.21

    by sgoldinger on Wed Sep 20, 2006 at 08:54:35 PM PDT

  •  I agree that paper ballots for NOV be required. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bincbom, juliesie

    And Edwards needs to file NOW and have a judge order a full paper revote by the voters in her district next Tuesday.  If she waits until the votes are finalized then it will be too late.

    The Diebold company machine is already working behind the scenes to say - we can't stop now if we are going to do the General Election in November.

    Voter intent can only be expressed if the voters get a chance to vote and have their votes counted.  A single subject paper ballot should be easy to do.  Get the judge to allow notice to voters by publishing full page ads in the papers, notices on TV, and a postcard mailing to voters as to their polling place.  

    How do you know a Republican is lying? Ask one: If the Republicans can lower gas prices for 60 days before an election, why won't they do it all the time?

    by ca democrat on Wed Sep 20, 2006 at 09:20:26 PM PDT

  •  Maryland Makes Florida Look Great (3+ / 0-)

    Let's face it, these Diebold DRE machines with no ballot trail are to great a fraud temptation.

    I have never heard of ANYTHING as fucked up as this Maryland election.  This is just unbelievable.

    The Republican Governor is right.  PAPER BALLOTS for November.  Enough of this crap.

  •  Tell MD Senate President Miller to support PAPER (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    doinaheckuvanutjob, ca democrat

    MD State Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller's email address is:

    thomas.v.mike.miller@senate.state.md.us

    Miller said it "cannot happen.  It will not happen."

    Tell him to MAKE it happen.

  •  Former Marylander (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ca democrat

    What an embarrassment.

    I never believed I'd agree with Ehrlich on anything, but he's right on this. We used paper ballots with optical scan in Baltimore County and it seems like a damn near perfect system to me.

    I can't fathom Miller's motives here. This appears to be another example of one-party rule gone overboard.

    Unlike the situation nationally, the Republicans in Maryland are the ones who suspect the elections are rigged, going back (recently anyway) to Ellen Sauerbrey's (Sourgrapes) loss to Parris Glendening, a graduate of the Prince George's County machine.

    It's way past time for free, fair, and verifiable elections, with no ballot box stuffing and frathouse dirty tricks, and let the votes fall where they may.

    You measure a democracy by the freedom it gives its dissidents, not the freedom it gives its assimilated conformists. -- Abbie Hoffman

    by frostyinPA on Wed Sep 20, 2006 at 10:35:36 PM PDT

    •  Oh I remember that (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ca democrat

      I went to bed election night in 1994, thinking that Sauerbrey had won the election. It was suprise to find out that Glendening had over taken her late in the vote count. Apparently final returns from Baltimore City enabled him to squeak by Sauerbrey. When I had awoken he had been declared the winner.

      Weeks and months afterwards Sauerbery complaineda bou tthe "stolen election". She filed pointless lawsuits, claimed that "dead people" had voted for her. She became known as "Ellen Sourgrapes". Only when it was clear that Glendening was going to be inaugurated did she finally relent.

      Four years later Glendening was the most unpopular governor in the country. She ran again and ending up losing by a solid margin. Glendening defeated her 55-45%. Not a complete landslide, but still a solid margin nonetheless.

      No one likes candidates who come off as "sore losers". If Edwards wants to fight this she should be careful not to end up like Sauerbrey.

      http://www.keen.com/jiacinto For DC related travel advice, please visit that link.

      by jiacinto on Wed Sep 20, 2006 at 10:39:45 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Well (0+ / 0-)

    I think this is more about gross incompetence than a "massive conspiracy". I don't think Ehrlich had the election "rigged" so that Edwards would lose. For if Ehrlich et al wanted to "steal the election" they would have at least made it so that William Donald Schaffer (D), Ehrlich's strongest Democratic supporter, won his primary for Controller. They would have also made it so that MFume would win the Senate primary, whom polls indicated would have had a more difficult challenge against Steele.

    http://www.keen.com/jiacinto For DC related travel advice, please visit that link.

    by jiacinto on Wed Sep 20, 2006 at 10:35:42 PM PDT

    •  Don't kid yourself (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ca democrat

      While it may not be stolen, what we see her is an attempt by Diebold to control what goes on electorally in MD.

      Politicians of either party are being pressured or encouraged to let Diebold do as it pleases.

      This robs the citizen from their rights to a voting process that is fair, honest, transparent and accountable.

      It is tantamount to treason, really, to allow a corporation sovereignty over our votes rather than the citizenry.

      It is clear that Diebold is gaming the system in MD, whether to steal elections or simply to make money from being the provider.

      That is wrong, and it cannot stand.

      And it's already happened in Georgia.

  •  I sent this e-mail yesterday (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ca democrat

    [I also posted this on Sweet Georgia Peach's "The final nail in the Diebold coffin" yesterday, but it's even more appropriate here]

    Dear Member of the Maryland State Board of Elections:

    A recent study by Ariel J. Feldman, and J. Alex Halderman and Edward W. Felten of Princeton University revealed that the Diebold Accu Vote-TS electronic voting machine is "vulnerable to extremely serious attacks".

    The report concluded that:
    · Malicious software running on a single voting machine can steal votes with little risk of detection;
    · Anyone who has physical access to a voting machine or to a memory card that will later be inserted into a machine can install malicious software;
    · This malicious software can take the form of a computer virus that in the normal use of the Diebold voting machine technical system (such as software upgrades or loading ballot templates) can be propagated to multiple voting machines.

    The full report can be accessed on the internet at: http://itpolicy.princeton.edu/...

    The nature of the threat is that it is possible for one individual with a technical knowledge of computers and the Windows CE operating system to easily and undetectably steal an election. Because of its lack of a voter-verifiable paper trail, such a compromise of the Diebold system can only be detected via the science of exit polling--the accuracy of which was called into question after exit polls during the 2004 Presidential election varied significantly from the returns from electronic voting machines.

    It is clear from this report that the Diebold Accu Vote-TS electronic voting machine cannot be considered secure and reliable given current security, hardware and software issues. It clearly violates Maryland Code TITLE 9 SUBTITLE 1 § 9-102 (c ) Standards for certification which states that:

    "The State Board may not certify a voting system unless the State Board determines that:
    (1) the voting system will:
     (i) protect the secrecy of the ballot;
     (ii) protect the security of the voting process;
     (iii) count and record all votes accurately;
     (iv) accommodate any ballot used under this article;
     (v) protect all other rights of voters and candidates; and
     (vi) be capable of creating a paper record of all votes cast in order that an audit trail is available in the event of a recount;"

    I specifically guide your attention to items (ii), (iii), (v), and (vi).

    Given the problems in the use of electronic voting machines at this time, I respectfully request, under Maryland Code TITLE 9 SUBTITLE 1 § 9-103, that these electronic voting machines be decertified immediately and not used in the upcoming election in November.

    I would like the choice of using a traditional paper ballot at the polling station on election day--and not as a provisional ballot but as a fully valid and counted vote. I could then be sure that my vote at least is being recorded and counted accurately. I am willing to wait the several days that may be required for manual-count election returns. I would then at least trust that the election is valid or can be recounted and verified.

    It is also possible that Diebold, by representing this technical system of voting machines to the State of Maryland as a secure means of conducting elections has committed fraud and also, as a corporate person, may be an accessory to the violation of the Maryland Code TITLE 16 SUBTITLE 2 § 16-206, "Offenses as to ballots and balloting in general", which says that:
    (a)  In general.- A person may not:
    (2) misrepresent the person's ability to mark a ballot or operate voting equipment;
    (4) induce or attempt to induce a voter to mark the voter's ballot in a certain way;
    (6) destroy or deface a ballot;

    The Diebold system  appears to facilitate all of these acts.

    I respectfully urge the State Board of Elections to investigate and take action as required by law.

    Thank you,

    .......

  •  Practical question (0+ / 0-)

    How many total machines were used in the MD-04 portion of PG County?  This would help in evaluating how many potential votes are in play here with these "new" machines, or whether irregularities are evident based on the totals registered by those machines.

    "In time you can turn these obsessions into careers."

    by looking italian on Thu Sep 21, 2006 at 06:58:35 AM PDT

  •  thank for the update (0+ / 0-)

    i still suspect incompetance not conspiracy is at fault...

    •  the result is still the same, deny the voters (0+ / 0-)

      will.

      How do you know a Republican is lying? Ask one: If the Republicans can lower gas prices for 60 days before an election, why won't they do it all the time?

      by ca democrat on Thu Sep 21, 2006 at 11:18:42 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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