Elections News ArticlesExcerpts of key news articles on elections
Ending some but not all of the mystery behind an anonymous $11 million donation, an Arizona group revealed under court order ... that the money it pumped into California's ballot wars was funneled through two groups -- one tied to David and Charles Koch, the billionaire brothers who have played a huge role in spreading anonymous political cash around the country. The two conservative groups, Americans for Job Security and the Center to Protect Patient Rights, are part of a tangled web of so-called dark donors who operate largely out of public view, shielded by their status as nonprofit advocacy groups that are supposedly not involved primarily in politics. While the groups have been identified, however, individual donors who have bankrolled them remain a mystery. "This isn't going to stop here," said Ann Ravel, chairwoman of the Fair Political Practices Commission, the state's political watchdog. "They admitted to money laundering." The FPPC determined that the Arizona group, Americans for Responsible Leadership, had violated California campaign law. Money laundering -- sending money through multiple sources to conceal the original donor -- is a misdemeanor. But a conspiracy to commit money laundering is a felony. The donation, the largest anonymous contribution to a ballot measure campaign in California history, was made to the Small Business Action Committee, a conservative PAC running a campaign for Proposition 32, the measure that would curb labor's ability to collect political cash, and against Proposition 30, Gov. Jerry Brown's tax-hike initiative.
Note: For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on elections corruption, click here.
The moneymen behind the outfit spending the most on the Medicare attack ads ... will not show their faces. The money is being spent through a Washington-based group, Americans for Tax Reform (ATR), that calls itself a “social welfare” nonprofit, so it does not need to reveal its donors to the public. This sort of thing has been happening a lot this year in House and Senate races around the country. Candidates have found their modest war chests, filled with checks for $2,500 or less, swamped by outside groups, which have no limits on the donations they can collect. In all, more than $800 million was spent through mid-October on election ads by outside groups, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Of that total, nearly 1 in 4 dollars is so-called dark money, meaning the identities of the donors remain a secret. Voters watching TV, listening to the radio or receiving direct-mail appeals know only the names of the front organizations that bought the ads. In the past two years, American politics has been transformed by a surge in spending. One fact tells the story: explicit political-ad spending by outside groups in 2012 is on track to double the combined total spent by outside groups in each of the four elections since 2002. Ads purchased with untraceable money tend to be among the most vicious. Nearly 9 in 10 dark-money spots are negative, and an analysis by the Annenberg Public Policy Center found that 26% of the ads are deceptive. Almost all of it — 83%, according to one review — has been directed against Democrats.
Note: For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on the corruption of the US electoral system, click here.
It's a revolting spectacle: the two presidential candidates engaged in a frantic and demeaning scramble for money. By 6 November, Barack Obama and Mitt Romney will each have raised more than $1bn. Other groups have already spent a further billion. Every election costs more than the one before; every election, as a result, drags the United States deeper into cronyism and corruption. Is it conceivable, for instance, that Romney, whose top five donors are all Wall Street banks, would put the financial sector back in its cage? Or that Obama, who has received $700,000 from both Microsoft and Google, would challenge their monopolistic powers? Or, in the Senate, that the leading climate change denier James Inhofe, whose biggest donors are fossil fuel companies, could change his views, even when confronted by an overwhelming weight of evidence? The US feeding frenzy shows how the safeguards and structures of a nominal democracy can remain in place while the system they define mutates into plutocracy. Despite perpetual attempts to reform it, US campaign finance is now more corrupt and corrupting than it has been for decades. It is hard to see how it can be redeemed. If the corporate cronies and billionaires' bootlickers who currently hold office were to vote to change the system, they'd commit political suicide. We should see this system as a ghastly warning of what happens if a nation fails to purge the big money from politics.
Note: For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on the corruption of the US electoral system, click here.
President Barack Obama's campaign has recruited a legion of lawyers to be on standby for this year's election as legal disputes surrounding the voting process escalate. Thousands of attorneys and support staffers have agreed to aid in the effort, providing a mass of legal support that appears to be unrivaled by Republicans or precedent. Obama's campaign says it is particularly concerned about the implementation of new voter ID laws across the country, the possibility of anti-fraud activists challenging legitimate voters and the handling of voter registrations in the most competitive states. Republicans are building their own legal teams for the election. They say they're focused on preventing fraud -- making sure people don't vote unless they're eligible -- rather than turning away qualified voters. Since the disputed 2000 presidential election, both parties have increasingly concentrated on building legal teams -- including high-priced lawyers who are well-known in political circles -- for the Election Day run-up. The Bush-Gore election demonstrated to both sides the importance of every vote and the fact that the rules for voting and counting might actually determine the outcome. The Florida count in 2000 was decided by just 537 votes and ultimately landed in the Supreme Court.
Note: For key reports from major media sources on serious dysfunctions in the US elections process, click here.
Few states in the union have done more in recent years to restrict and suppress voting — particularly by groups who lean Democratic, such as young people, the poor and minorities — than Florida. In May 2011, the state’s Republican-led Legislature passed and the Republican governor, Rick Scott, signed a sweeping election law that cut early voting short and imposed onerous burdens on voter registration groups by requiring them to turn in registration applications within 48 hours of the time they are signed or face fines. The threat of fines has meant that many groups that traditionally registered voters in the state have abandoned the effort, and it appears to be contributing to fewer new registrations. According to a March analysis of registration data by The Times, “in the months since its new law took effect in May, 81,471 fewer Floridians have registered to vote than during the same period before the 2008 presidential election.” Recently, the state announced that it would begin another round of voter purging to ensure that no ineligible voters were mistakenly on the voter rolls. As the New York University School of Law’s Brennan Center for Justice pointed out last week: “In 2000, Florida’s efforts to purge persons with criminal convictions from the rolls led to, by conservative estimates, close to 12,000 eligible voters being removed” from the rolls. As most of us remember, George W. Bush beat Al Gore in the state of Florida that year, after the recounts and the Supreme Court stepped in, by 537 votes.
Note: For key reports from major media sources on serious problems within the US electoral process, click here.
The truly decisive element [in Republican presidential debates] has been ... money. Lots of it. This is not new. But since a 2010 supreme court ruling allowing unlimited campaign contributions by corporations and unions, it has become particularly acute. Moreover, the contributors can remain anonymous. The organisations that are taking advantage of this new law are known as Super Pacs. In 2008 election spending doubled compared with 2004. This year industry analysts believe the money spent just on television ads is set to leap by almost 80% compared with four years ago. Money in American politics was already an elephant in the room. Now the supreme court has given it a laxative, taken away the shovel, and asked us to ignore both the sight and the stench. This is not a partisan point. Almost two-thirds of Americans believe the government should limit individual contributions – with a majority among Republicans, Democrats and independents. The trend towards oligarchy in the polity is already clear. There are 250 millionaires in Congress. As a whole, the polity's median net worth is $891,506, nine times the typical US household. The influence of money at this level corrupts an entire political culture and in no small part explains the depth of cynicism, alienation and mistrust Americans now have for their politicians.
Note: For lots more from reliable sources on the control of the US electoral system by corporate money, click here.
The Montana Supreme Court restored the state’s century-old ban on direct spending by corporations on political candidates or committees in a ruling ... that interest groups say bucks a high-profile U.S. Supreme Court decision granting political speech rights to corporations. The corporation that brought the case, and is also fighting accusations that it illegally gathers anonymous donations to fuel political attacks, said the state Supreme Court got it wrong. The lawsuit was prompted by the U.S. Supreme Court Citizens United decision from last year granting political speech rights to corporations. A lower court then ruled the state ban was unconstitutional in the wake of the high court’s decision. But the Montana Supreme Court on Friday reversed the lower state court’s analysis and application of the Citizen United case. The Montana Supreme Court said Montana has a “compelling interest” to uphold its rationally tailored campaign finance laws that include a combination of restrictions and disclosure requirements. A group seeking to undo the Citizen United decision lauded the Montana high court, with its co-founder saying it was a “huge victory for democracy.” “With this ruling, the Montana Supreme Court now sets up the first test case for the U.S. Supreme Court to revisit its Citizens United decision, a decision which poses a direct and serious threat to our democracy,” John Bonifaz, of Free Speech For People, said in a statement.
Note: For revealing reports from major media sources on corporate influence on the electoral process, click here.
A former judge has been sentenced to more than 26 years in federal prison for his role in a conspiracy to gain power and control politics in an eastern Kentucky county. U.S. District Judge Danny Reeves said 67-year-old former Clay County Circuit Judge R. Cletus Maricle headed the conspiracy and therefore got the longest sentence so far. Maricle and seven others were convicted in March 2010 of multiple charges, including racketeering, money laundering and voter fraud. Prosecutors say more than 8,000 people were paid $50 each for their votes in one election and 150 votes were stolen by changing voting machines.
Note: For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on electoral fraud, click here.
The Supreme Court has handed lobbyists a new weapon. A lobbyist can now tell any elected official: if you vote wrong, my company ... will spend unlimited sums explicitly advertising against your re-election. “We have got a million we can spend advertising for you or against you — whichever one you want,’ ”a lobbyist can tell lawmakers, said Lawrence M. Noble, ... former general counsel of the Federal Election Commission. It is expected to unleash a torrent of attack advertisements from outside groups aiming to sway voters, without any candidate having to take the criticism for dirty campaigning. The biggest beneficiaries might be well-placed incumbents whose favor companies and interests groups are eager to court. It could also have a big impact on state and local governments, where a few million dollars can have more influence on elections. Fred Wertheimer, a longtime advocate of campaign finance laws, said the decision “wipes out a hundred years of history” during which American laws have sought to tamp down corporate power to influence elections.
Note: If you want to voice your opinion about this recent Supreme Court ruling, click here. For many key articles from reliable sources on serious flaws in the electoral process in the US, click here.
Mystery surrounds the death of a Republican pollster, recently compelled to give evidence about alleged election fraud in the 2004 election in Ohio, after he was killed in a plane crash. Top internet strategist Michael Connell, 45, was the only person in his single-engine private plane that crashed three miles short of the Akron-Canton airport on Friday night as he prepared to land. He had worked on Mr Bush's two presidential campaigns, advised John McCain this year and was also linked to allegedly missing White House emails in the 2006 controversy over a string of firings of US attorneys. The death of the married father of four immediately triggered conspiracy theories amid speculation that he had been about to reveal embarrassing details of the complicity of senior members of the Bush administration in fixing an election and destroying incriminating emails. In a blog posting entitled "One of my sources died in a plane crash last night...", Larisa Alexandrovna of The Raw Story revealed that Mr Connell had been talking to her about the Ohio case alleging that vote-tampering during the 2004 presidential election resulted in civil rights violations. "Mike was getting ready to talk. He was frightened... I am not saying that this was a hit nor am I resigned to this being simply an accident either. I am no expert on aviation and cannot provide an opinion on the matter. What I am saying, however, is that given the context, this event needs to be examined carefully."
Important Note: This death becomes even stranger considering that attorneys had sought protection for Connell against threats from Karl Rove in late July (click here). He also was apparently warned not to fly.
Disclosure of an election computer glitch that could drop ballot totals for entire precincts is stirring new worries that an unofficial laboratory testing system failed for years to detect an array of flaws in $1.5 billion worth of voting equipment sold nationwide since 2003. Texas-based Premier Elections Solutions [formerly Diebold Inc.] last week alerted at least 1,750 jurisdictions across the country that special precautions are needed to address the problem in tabulation software affecting all 19 of its models dating back a decade. Voting experts reacted skeptically to the company's assertion that election workers' routine crosschecks of ballot totals would have spotted any instances where its servers failed to register some precinct vote totals when receiving data from multiple memory cards. Like nearly all of the nation's modern voting equipment, Premier's products were declared "qualified" under a voluntary testing process overseen from the mid 1990s until 2005 by the National Association of State Election Directors. Computer scientists, some state officials and election watchdog groups allege that the NASED-sponsored testing system was a recipe for disaster, shrouded in secrecy, and allowing equipment makers to help design the tests. As a result, charged Susan Greenhalgh, a spokeswoman for watchdog group Voter Action, the systems on which Americans will decide the race between Barack Obama and John McCain in November are "scandalously flawed"' and "the integrity of this election is in question."
Note: Why isn't this important news being picked up by other major media?
Was there a White House plot to illegally suppress votes in 2004? Is there a similar plan for the upcoming elections? This week NOW examines documents and evidence that points to a Republican Party plan designed to keep Democrats from voting, allegedly by targeting people based on their race and ethnicity with key battleground states like Ohio and Florida of particular interest. "It was a partisan, discriminatory attempt to challenge voters of color," Eddie Hailes, a senior attorney for The Advancement Project, a civil rights group, told NOW. Was the White House involved? David Iglesias, one of the fired U.S. Attorneys, thinks so: "It's reprehensible. It's unethical, it's unlawful. It may very well be criminal." Iglesias told NOW he was repeatedly urged by his superiors at the Justice Department to investigate allegations of false voter registrations. After his investigations came up short, Iglesias said Republican officials got angry and complained to White House aide Karl Rove. Soon after Iglesias lost his job. As a result of allegations by Iglesias and others, Congress is investigating whether the White House acted unlawfully. While Attorney General Alberto Gonzales refused to answer many questions about the controversy as he testified before the Senate this week, Iglesias told NOW he believes the White House is keeping documents from Congress to protect the Bush Administration. "That's why there has been such a circling of the wagons around Karl Rove and Harriet Miers and Sarah Taylor. I believe there to be incriminating, possibly criminally incriminating evidence contained in those e-mails and other memoranda," he said.
Note: To read further reports from the major media on the many serious problems in the US electoral process, click here.
A Princeton University computer science professor added new fuel Wednesday to claims that electronic voting machines used across much of the country are vulnerable to hacking that could alter vote totals or disable machines. In a paper posted on the university's Web site, Edward Felten and two graduate students described how they had tested a Diebold AccuVote-TS machine they obtained, found ways to quickly upload malicious programs and even developed a computer virus able to spread such programs between machines. About 80 percent of American voters are expected to use some form of electronic voting in the upcoming election. The AccuVote-TS is commonly used across the country, along with a newer model, the AccuVote-TSx. The machine Felten tested, obtained in May from an undisclosed source, was the same type used across Maryland in its primary election Tuesday, according to Ross Goldstein, a deputy administrator with the state's Board of Elections. Felten and graduate students Ariel Feldman and Alex Halderman...say they designed software capable of modifying all records, audit logs and counters kept by the voting machine, ensuring that a careful forensic examination would find nothing wrong. The programs were able to modify vote totals or cause machines to break down, something that could alter the course of an election if machines were located in crucial polling stations.
Note: To see the full paper on Princeton's website along with an excellent video demonstrating how election results can easily be corrupted: http://itpolicy.princeton.edu/voting. These machines have been used in several previous elections. As there was no paper trail for most of the electronic machines, we have no way of knowing if votes were manipulated. For more on this topic vital to our democracy, see our Elections Information Center at http://www.WantToKnow.info/electionsinformation.
A a report by Finnish security expert Harri Hursti analyzed Diebold voting machines for an organization called Black Box Voting. Hursti found unheralded vulnerabilities in the machines. Experts are calling them the most serious voting-machine flaws ever documented. It requires only a few minutes of pre-election access to a Diebold machine to open the machine and insert a PC card that, if it contained malicious code, could reprogram the machine to give control to the violator. The machine could go dead on Election Day or throw votes to the wrong candidate. Worse, it's even possible for such ballot-tampering software to trick authorized technicians into thinking that everything is working fine, an illusion you couldn't pull off with pre-electronic systems. If it so happens that someone not supposed to use the machine—or an election official who wants to put his or her thumb on the scale of democracy—takes advantage of this fast track to fraud, that's not Diebold's problem. "When you're using a paperless voting system, there is no security," says David Dill, a Stanford professor who founded the election-reform organization Verified Voting.
With primary election dates fast approaching in many states, officials in Pennsylvania and California issued urgent directives in recent days about a potential security risk in their Diebold Election Systems touch-screen voting machines, while other states with similar equipment hurried to assess the seriousness of the problem. "It's the most severe security flaw ever discovered in a voting system," said Michael I. Shamos, a professor of computer science at Carnegie Mellon University. "This is the barn door being wide open," said Douglas W. Jones, a professor of computer science at the University of Iowa. The new concerns about Diebold's equipment were discovered by Harri Hursti, a Finnish computer expert who was working at the request of Black Box Voting. As word of Mr. Hursti's findings spread, Diebold issued a warning to recipients of thousands of its machines, saying that it had found a "theoretical security vulnerability" that "could potentially allow unauthorized software to be loaded onto the system." Aviel Rubin, a professor of computer science at Johns Hopkins University, did the first in-depth analysis of the security flaws in the source code for Diebold touch-screen machines in 2003. After studying the latest problem, he said: "I almost had a heart attack. The implications of this are pretty astounding."
Note: For a recent Wall Street Journal article with more serious concerns, click here. No mention is made that these same problems existed in all recent elections using these machines. For key articles from other major media showing a major problem with electronic machines, click here.
Diebold, the controversial electronic voting machine manufacturer, is coming off a tumultuous week. Its chief executive, Walden O'Dell, resigned. It was hit with a pair of class-action lawsuits charging insider trading and misrepresentation, and a county in Florida concluded that Diebold's voting machines could be hacked. The counting of votes is a public trust. Diebold, whose machines count many votes, has never acted as if it understood this. Mr. O'Dell made national headlines when he wrote a fund-raising letter before the 2004 election expressing his commitment to help deliver the electoral votes of Ohio - where Diebold is based, and where its machines are used - to President Bush. Under pressure, Diebold barred its top officials from contributing to campaigns. But this month, The Plain Dealer in Cleveland reported that three executives not covered by the ban continued to make contributions. Diebold's voting machines have a troubled history. The company was accused of installing improperly certified software, which is illegal, in a 2002 governor's race in Georgia. Across the country, it reached a multimillion-dollar settlement with the California attorney general last year of a lawsuit alleging that it made false claims about the security of its machines.
Note: Kevin Shelley, the California attorney general mentioned here, was eventually forced out of office by an aggressive media campaign accusing him of things we know are done by almost all politicians. For reliable information on this, see http://www.wanttoknow.info/050207kevinshelleysresignation.
A political operative with hacking skills could alter the results of any election on Diebold-made voting machines -- and possibly other new voting systems in Florida -- according to the state capital's election supervisor, who said Diebold software has failed repeated tests. "That's kind of scary. If there's no paper trail, you have to rely solely on electronic results. And now we know that they can be manipulated under the right conditions, without a person even leaving a fingerprint," said Sancho, who once headed the state's elections supervisors association. Sancho said Diebold isn't the only one to blame for hacker-prone equipment. The Florida secretary of state's office should have caught these problems early on, he said. A spokeswoman for the secretary of state's office said any faults Sancho found were between him and Diebold. A nonprofit election-monitoring group called BlackBoxVoting.org...hired Herbert Thompson, a computer-science professor and strategist at Security Innovation, which tests software for companies such as Google and Microsoft. Thompson told The Herald he was "shocked" at how easy it was to get in, make the loser the winner and leave without a trace. He typed five lines of computer code -- and switched 5,000 votes from one candidate to another."I am positive an eighth grader could do this," Thompson said.
The progressive Brennan Center for Justice is out with an alarming new report documenting the widespread use of voting roll purges. The center found: “Using data released by the federal Election Assistance Commission (EAC) in June, a new Brennan Center analysis has found that between 2016 and 2018, counties with a history of voter discrimination have continued purging people from the rolls at much higher rates than other counties.” The numbers are startling. “At least 17 million voters were purged nationwide between 2016 and 2018, similar to the number we saw between 2014 and 2016, but considerably higher than we saw between 2006 and 2008.” Moreover, the purged voters come disproportionately from jurisdictions that, because of their history of voter discrimination, were previously required to preclear electoral law changes with the Justice Department. That requirement has been on hold since the Supreme Court struck down part of the Voting Rights Act in 2013. This isn’t merely about partisan advantage. The artificial reduction in the electorate with an eye toward boosting the percentage of white, Republican voters strikes at the heart of our democracy. The Voting Rights Act, before it was hobbled by the court, allowed millions of African Americans to vote for the first time, changing the composition of federal and state offices and changing legislative outcomes. Unless and until we expand the electorate (e.g., with voting by mail, automatic or same-day registration), we are undercutting our democracy.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on elections corruption from reliable major media sources.
One of President Donald Trump’s top re-election advisers told influential Republicans in swing state Wisconsin that the party has “traditionally” relied on voter suppression to compete in battleground states but will be able to “start playing offense” in 2020 due to relaxed Election Day rules, according to an audio recording of a private event obtained by The Associated Press. “Traditionally it’s always been Republicans suppressing votes in places,” Justin Clark, a senior political adviser and senior counsel to Trump’s re-election campaign, said at the event. Republican officials publicly signaled plans to step up their Election Day monitoring after a judge in 2018 lifted a consent degree in place since 1982 that barred the Republican National Committee from voter verification and other “ballot security” efforts. Critics have argued the tactics amount to voter intimidation. The consent decree was put in place after the Democratic National Committee sued its Republican counterpart, alleging the RNC helped intimidate black voters in New Jersey's election for governor. The federal lawsuit claimed the RNC and the state GOP had off-duty police stand at polling places in urban areas wearing armbands that read "National Ballot Security Task Force," with guns visible on some. Mike Browne, deputy director of One Wisconsin Now, said Clark's comments suggest the Trump campaign plans to engage in “underhanded tactics” to win the election.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on elections corruption from reliable major media sources. Then explore the excellent, reliable resources provided in our Elections Information Center.
Floridians for a Fair Shake and 13 other groups around the country are funded and coordinated out of a single office in Washington, with the goal of battering Republicans for their health care and economic policies during the midterm elections. At the center of the effort is an opaquely named Democratic organization, the Hub Project, which is on track to spend nearly $30 million since 2017 pressuring members of Congress in their districts. The great bulk of its funding has come from so-called dark money - funds from donors who are not legally required to reveal their names. With that money, the Hub Project ... set up an array of affiliate groups around the country, many with vaguely sympathetic names like Keep Iowa Healthy, New Jersey for a Better Future and North Carolinians for a Fair Economy. The Hub Project then used them to mobilize volunteers and run advertising on policy issues against Republican members of Congress many months before the election. Several Democratic operatives involved in the group likened its role to that of Americans for Prosperity, the conservative advocacy network funded by the billionaire Koch brothers ... on a significantly smaller scale. Mr. Gerney, the group’s executive director, said in an interview that the initiative targeting several dozen congressional districts had been designed to keep the focus on the Republicans’ legislative agenda in an election heavily dominated by ... personality. He described it as a test case.
Note: Read more about the secretive political groups funded by dark money. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing elections corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.
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