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Hopping around with Hope

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                  17 April 2008: Hopping Around with Hope

Even as Hill and Bam-Bam were duking it out on prime time ABC, with Stephanopoulos out in left field still smarting from Travelgate, there was much to take in on Renaissance Radio also, where three different EI affiliates from three different regions were interviewed.

     From Georgia, Garland Favorito of spoke of their lawsuit that challenges the legality and constitutionality of electronic voting (compare New Jersey’s lawsuit still pending). From Florida, Ellen Brodsky of the Broward Election Reform Coalition discussed the “Mystery of Broward County,” that is, the turnout of 110 percent of their electorate in 2006. From Pennsylvania, Sara Haile-Mariam spoke encouraging words about “youth on the ground” in anticipation of the April 22 primary that the whole country will be watching, even CNN.

     Jim Strait, this evening’s host, first cautioned voters on how best to deal with the Danaher DREs, how best to try to get the vote counted and not lost in cyberspace. Press the button decisively and make sure to examine the screen carefully to be sure you’ve voted for those you want in office. Then don’t leave before pressing the green “vote” button, or else your vote will be discarded by others to clear the screen.

     Garland Favorito, the first guest interviewed, recalled that Georgia was the first state in the country to sprint to DREs after the Florida catastrophe in 2000, and the only state to use the same machine throughout—in this case the Diebold Accuvote DS R6.

     There was one problem with the sprint: Georgia’s constitution requires secret ballots and audit trails, neither of which the Diebold DREs supply.

     Georgia’s new secretary of state agrees with Favorito’s group and supports its lawsuit. The defense, led by the state’s attorney general, hinges on the definition of “ballot,” challenging that those gestures “touched” into cyberspace create a ballot of sorts.

     The constitution also requires a verifiable vote, which the Diebolds in question can’t provide, coughing up when requested a carbon copy of the tabulated result.

     Begun in 2006, the lawsuit is due to be settled in the next few months. And then, said Favorito, there is bound to be an appeal to Georgia’s supreme court by either side, something his side won’t be able to support without pro bono legal assistance.

     The suit is against the state, not Diebold, which has remained remarkably distant from this activity. There’s no need for technical expertise in this case, Favorito clarified. But if his side wins, the nation will know.

     Details are available at They want to hear from people all over the country and fundraise also, if possible.


To the tune of the new song “Stop Me Before I Vote Again,” Ellen Brodsky of the Broward County Election Reform Commission, spoke of the “110 percent turnout” recorded by the same machines, ES&S Ivotronic, that plagued Sarasota two years ago.       

     The machines have a long history of counting backward, she said.

     The reason for the 110 percent turnout? Other precincts’ votes were combined in the report turned in after the election. Brodsky’s group challenged these results to a chilly reception. No testing of the machines was carried out, but there was the consolation that Broward County was not alone in this quandary, which was reported elsewhere also.

     Re the complicated and long-desired introduction of optical scanners to replace the Ivotronics and their peers, contracts with vendors vary throughout the state, including performance bonds. Benchmarks also vary.

     Broward County, if you haven’t guessed, suffers from the worst voting problems in the state, whereas the neighboring Miami-Dade enjoys the best situation, including a responsible supervisor of elections working hard to train voters and poll workers in time for the November election.

     The best county falls short though, said Jim, lacking a good performance bond.

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A jack of some trades, writing and editing among them, Marta Steele, an admitted and proud holdover from the late sixties, returned to activism ten years ago after first establishing her skills as a college [mostly adjunct] professor in three (more...)
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