Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Cavuto to Joe the Tabaagger - "Do You Feel Like Custer?"

Cavuto hasn't yet been asked to explain his question, but given that Miller had been openly critical of several aspects of Alaska Native life and corporate structure since early in the race, and that Murkowski was strongly backed by the monied parts of Native infrastructure here, it is possible Cavuto was somehow trying to be contextual.

Some seem to be surprised that Alaska's Shannyn Moore has come to the defense of 'Miller's Last Stand." She posted an essay earlier today that gives context to what Miller was saying in the Cavuto interview, when he stated, "The voters of Alaska deserve to have a consistent standard apply to the future, whether or not they deserve integrity in the vote, and those are questions that are not answered yet."

Miller is right, and Moore's essay goes into this in great detail. Back in August, Miller brought up the vulnerabilities of our state's Diebold election scanning equipment:

The Division of Elections investigated and found the most alarming allegation in the Van Flein complaint was unfounded. Van Flein alleged Roman used the state computer at the Division of Elections office in Wasilla and that for 20 minutes "this Murkowski observer was in the state's voter records viewing private information and, we are told, accessed the state's election management system."

Van Flein wrote in the complaint that the state's Diebold voting software "contains vulnerabilities that may allow someone to install malicious software to discount votes." Van Flein suggested that there may need to be a hand count of ballots or an IT computer audit in order to verify that Roman didn't do anything like that.

Elections officials said Roman did request access to the computer with the state's voter registration system but was not allowed. Alaska Division of Elections Director Gail Fenumiai said he would have not been able to compromise the system anyway. "There is no GEMS server in the Wasilla office

Van Flein said Monday night that the complaint was verified by Miller election observers on the scene. "We have a statement from an eye witness establishing that the Murkowski observer in fact was using the Division of Elections desk top computer for up to 10 minutes," he said.

Alaska Division of Elections Director Fenumiai disputed that, saying the observer did not use any state computer.

Elections officials said Roman did break the rules by texting from inside the ballot room. He also tried to bring a large bag into the room, against instructions, which Miller campaign lawyer Van Flein described as a potential way to make ballots "disappear."
At the time, citing this, I noted:
Of course these machines - the Diebold Accuvote system - can be manipulated. It's quite funny that it is finally wingnut Teabaggers who are bringing the long-known flaws in the machines, how they are used and how the votes are collated and tabulated at higher levels to the fore in the Alaska press.
Shannyn Moore, in her article, notes:
I’ve written another piece like this. It was after the last election. I said it the three elections before that. In the words of baseball great Yogi Berra, it’s Déjà vu all over again! I’m writing and talking about the same thing, in what has become an even-year ritual: Alaska doesn’t count votes properly and hasn’t for years. Alaska still uses the Diebold Accuvote Optical Scanners. The same Diebold machines California “decertified” because of the “Deck Zero” anomaly after the company admitted the software error plagues all versions of their paper ballot op-scan systems, deleting the first batch of scanned ballots under certain circumstances without alerting elections officials to the deletion.
She goes on to present a history of what has and hasn't resulted from the Alaska Democratic Party's lawsuit over anomalies in the 2004 election, particularly in the U.S. Senate race between Tony Knowles and Lisa Murkowski:

The Democratic Party obtained the 2004 Diebold Global Election Management System (GEMS) database by suing the Division of Elections in State Superior Court. That suit was made necessary because the Division of Elections insisted that the database was not public record. The Division of Elections refused for more than nine months to release the GEMS database, but did so a few days before a hearing was scheduled to begin in Superior Court.

According to the Division of Elections’ Diebold-produced vote reports for 2004, as posted on the Division’s official web site, a far larger number of votes were cast than the official totals reported in the statewide summary. In the case of President George W. Bush’s votes, the district-by-district totals add up to 292,267, but his official total was only 190,889-a difference of 101,378 votes. In that year’s U.S. Senate race, Lisa Murkowski received 226,992 votes in the district-by-district totals, but her official total was only 149,446-a difference of 77,546 votes.

I have similar questions about some of the anomalies in the 2008 Berkowitz-Young U.S. House tallies, but Ethan hasn't shown interest in pursuing questions to the state.

Moore goes on to describe her concern about the numbers as they appear for last month's election:

In 2007, the University of Alaska began an audit of the Alaska election process. They followed in the footsteps of similar recommendations from universities in Florida and California. A “fix it” list was created that included replacing the software. To date, there has been no report on the suggested fixes.

Move along, nothing to see.

Fast forward to 2010.

Despite heavy national media coverage and historic Citizens United money spent on Alaska’s hotly contested and much-watched three-way US Senate race, the results, if we are to believe them, were a surprisingly low voter turnout. In fact, this election was one of the lowest turnouts since they started tracking ballots cast versus registered voters in the mid-1970s.

It’s strange that Anchorage appearances by both Rachel Maddow and Glenn Beck covering the high profile race had such a chilling effect on voters. It’s curious that the forgotten gubernatorial race, reportedly, had several hundred more votes recorded than the attention-grabbing U.S. Senate race. Furthermore, as returns from around the state poured in on election night, the percentages between candidates in statewide races never changed throughout the evening-despite Juneau, for instance, being ideologically opposite of Wasilla.

Moore's next argument doesn't strike me as well-founded, and some of the comparisons in it are a stretch:

Election chain of custody is the unbroken trail of overseeable accountability that ensures the physical security of our ballots during an election. Goldbelt Security Services was contracted by the Alaska Division of Elections to provide the security and transportation of the ballots to Juneau. Goldbelt is an Alaska Native Corporation with SBA 8(a) status-meaning they are eligible for sole-source, no-bid government contracts. The 8(a) program was relentlessly attacked by Joe Miller. The Alaska Native 8(a)’s unanimously backed Lisa and provided tremendous financial support in the bargain. As they transported the record of the state’s future, Goldbelt Security had a tremendous stake in the outcome of the election. Imagine if the Alaska Division of Elections contracted Drop Zone Security to transport and guard the election ballots. How would the Murkowski camp react?

First of all, Goldbelt is a licenced, bonded security service:

Goldbelt Security Services is a Goldbelt, Incorporated subsidiary providing residential and commercial security services in Alaska. The company, a leader in professional security services, is headquartered in Juneau, Alaska. Currently Goldbelt Security Services – Alaska offers armored transport services, guard services, electronic monitoring services, security consulting and custom services to Alaska communities.

All personnel are carefully screened and receive detailed job orientation and on-going training related to industry standards and State licensing requirements. Attention is given to CPR, first aid, customer service relations, and patrol techniques.

A second division, Goldbelt Security Services – Governmental Services was added in 2008 to provide professional security services required for a variety of governmental contracts.

Dropzone is a tarpaper shack across Spenard Avenue from where the strip club Robert Hansen found most of his victims used to operate. Dropzone doesn't qualify to guard any important property, but Goldbelt certainly does.

That being said, Moore's article is the first to tie together Miller's interest in Alaska voter integrity with that of the previous (and persent?) other complainant, The Alaska Democratic Party.

I hope he hangs in there until some of these long unresolved voter integrity problems gain more airing. Possibly they'll enter the radar of Alaska voters enough that voters will want to complete the unfinished audit of our voting system the state has either abandoned or hidden from view.

1 comment:

Mark said...

Miller was barking about electronic voting in one of his interviews on "Armed America Radio" before the election. I agreed with his assertion that the best direction to go in regard to electronic voting is run like hell.
On the other hand, I watched the Bethel City Hall precinct during counting for a while and was very impressed at their implementation of the two (wo)man rule/no lone zone when the machines were open.
Mark Springer