Elections News ArticlesExcerpts of key news articles on elections
For all the superheated rhetoric of yet another election cycle, it's as clear as ever that the Republican and Democratic parties in Washington pretty much support the same economic policies. Indeed, any honest perusal of congressional votes proves that the party establishments are roughly the same when it comes to financial deregulation (less of it), job-killing free trade (more of it), bailouts (more of them) and corporate taxes (less of them). Politicians and partisan media outlets deny this obvious reality, of course. But they do so because they have a vested interest in the red-versus-blue "polarization" narrative from which they generate campaign contributions and ratings, respectively. It's also why more Americans are tuning out of politics. Pretending this is some big divide is a farce. Both parties are proposing to enrich the already rich while hiding the two-headed monster behind a mask of conflict.
Note: For a powerful essay revealing the deeper agenda behind largely fabricated polarizations, click here.
Nearly 70 percent of voters think super PACs should be outlawed, and more than half “strongly” do. We can hardly believe that the billionaire brothers David and Charles Koch will spend more this year than John McCain’s entire presidential campaign raised in 2008. We can’t stand the constant flood of negative ads on every channel or the ominous anonymity of the interests behind them. The Roberts Court sees all this and refuses to acknowledge that it “give[s] rise to corruption or the appearance of corruption.” Fortunately, if on the question of campaign finance the Supreme Court is immune to the court of public opinion, progressives are fighting through other avenues to transform today’s corrupt system into one that is fair, transparent and participatory. In [the] state of New York, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has launched a path-breaking investigation of tax-exempt groups that might be fraudulently funneling funds into politics, including a “charitable foundation” affiliated with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Meanwhile, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is partnering with Protect Our Democracy ... to apply the same successful, grass-roots pressure they used in getting same-sex marriage passed to our campaign finance system. They have joined with citizen activists who are looking to New York City’s successful, multiple-match public financing system. A Brennan Center for Justice study showed that this system promoted diversity among candidates and donors and reduced the influence of corporate money.
Note: For key reports from major media sources on problems with US elections, click here.
The Montana Supreme Court issued a stunning ruling Dec. 30 that rejected arguments that the U.S. Supreme Court's landmark ruling in Citizens United vs. FEC applied to Montana's century-old ban on corporate election spending. The 5-2 ruling overturned a lower court and reinstated Montana's Corrupt Practices Act, a citizen initiative passed to confront some of the most overt corporate corruption in American history. Citizens United struck down a federal law that prohibited corporations from directly spending company funds to advocate for or against political candidates. Justice Kennedy's majority opinion in Citizens United ... asserted that "independent expenditures, including those made by corporations, do not give rise to corruption or the appearance of corruption." That astounding claim promptly birthed super PACs, which can accept unlimited donations to support their favored candidate and attack his or her opponents. By the time the public knows the people or corporations behind the super PAC attacks, four primaries will be complete and the winner may be apparent. The Montana ruling is cause for celebration, but its value can only be realized if other states and courts follow. An appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court is likely and, without far more visible public advocacy for the democratic republic promised by our Constitution, the Roberts court is unlikely to veer from its agenda of steadily enlarging corporate privilege.
Note: For illuminating analyses from reliable sources of the threats to democracy from corporate money in the US elections, click here.
With a single, disastrous 5-to-4 ruling, the Supreme Court has thrust politics back to the robber-baron era of the 19th century. Disingenuously waving the flag of the First Amendment, the court’s conservative majority has paved the way for corporations to use their vast treasuries to overwhelm elections and intimidate elected officials into doing their bidding. Congress must act immediately to limit the damage of this radical decision, which strikes at the heart of democracy. As a result of Thursday’s ruling, corporations have been unleashed from the longstanding ban against their spending directly on political campaigns and will be free to spend as much money as they want to elect and defeat candidates. The ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission radically reverses well-established law and erodes a wall that has stood for a century between corporations and electoral politics. The founders of this nation warned about the dangers of corporate influence. The real solution lies in getting the court’s ruling overturned.
Note: The crux of the argument used by the Supreme Court is that under US law, corporations are treated as persons and therefore given Constitutional rights meant for people. Should we then give them the right to vote? For many key articles from reliable sources on serious flaws in the electoral process in the US, click here.
Diebold Inc. has sold its money-losing U.S. election-systems business, just seven years after acquiring it amid hopes of rising demand for voting technology upgrades in the wake of the 2000 presidential election fiasco. Diebold [said] it sold the voting-machine unit to privately held Election Systems & Software Inc. for $5 million, about one-fifth of what it paid in 2002. "There were assumptions we made in that space that didn't materialize," Diebold spokesman Mike Jacobsen said. Diebold, which was the industry's biggest maker of electronic voting machines heading into the 2004 presidential election, was in the spotlight as concerns increased about the reliability and security of the electronic systems. Diebold also suffered from a perception problem when the company's then-Chief Executive Walden O'Dell very publicly supported and fundraised for President George W. Bush in his re-election campaign.
Note: This article fails to mention that the merger of Diebold and ES&S creates a major monopoly on US voting machines in the hands of companies owned by staunch conservatives. For more vital information on this and the suspicious death of the principal witness related to Karl Rove in an key Ohio elections case, click here.
Voting rolls, which are maintained by local election officials, are one of the weakest links in American democracy and problems are growing. Republicans have been pressing for sweeping voter purges in many states. They have also fought to make it harder to enroll new voters. Voting experts say there could be serious problems at the polls on Nov. 4. A number of states — including the battleground state of Florida — have adopted no match, no vote rules. Voters can be removed from the rolls if their names do not match a second list, such as a Social Security or driver’s license database. But (like the U.S. mail) lists of this kind are notoriously mistake-filled, and one typo can cause a no match. In Ohio, Republicans recently sued the secretary of state, demanding that she provide local officials with a dubious match list. As many as 200,000 new voters could have been blocked from casting ballots. The Supreme Court rejected the suit, but Republicans are still looking for ways to use the list on Election Day. For this election, voters need to be prepared to fight for their right to cast a ballot. They should try to confirm before Nov. 4 that they are on the rolls — something that in many states can be done on a secretary of state or board of elections Web site. If their state permits it, they should vote early. If voters find on Election Day that their names are not on the rolls, they should contact a voters’ rights group like Election Protection, at 1-866-OUR-VOTE.
Note: A recent report in Rolling Stone by Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and Greg Palast details many of these tactics to eliminate voters from the rolls. To watch a related video by Greg Palast click here. For many disturbing reports from major media sources on threats to free and fair elections in the US, click here. And for a powerful, five-minute video showing both the ways your vote can disappear and what you can do about it, click here.
An audit of last November’s general election in the Cleveland area has found that hundreds of votes were lost, that others were recorded twice and that software used to count the ballots was vulnerable to data problems. In a state that was pivotal to President Bush’s election and re-election, Cuyahoga County, which includes Cleveland, has seen more than its share of recent election troubles. Lines at polls there were hours long in the 2004 general election. And in the primaries last May, the county’s first experience with electronic voting, poll workers were absent or poorly trained, computer cards on which votes had been recorded were lost, and one polling place opened hours late. The audit found that some batches of ballots registered in optical scan machines had been scanned twice, producing a double count of those ballots. Other ballots were deleted because of flawed data and, owing to human error, were not rescanned, the committee found. The optical scan and touch-screen machines used in the county were made by Diebold Election Systems Inc. The audit committee said Microsoft’s JET file-sharing database system, which Diebold used, was known to have previously had problems that could result in corruption of the database. The audit committee was allowed only a limited review of the data collected by Diebold. The panel tried to gain access to the raw data, but Diebold claimed that the information was proprietary. Barbara Simons, a ... past president of the Association for Computing Machinery, said: “There is no excuse for Diebold’s having used such an insecure and unreliable database. There were far more reliable databases available over 20 years ago.” The committee called for extensive changes to ensure the integrity of future elections, among them streamlining the process by eliminating either optical scanner or touch-screen machines.
Note: For major media stories revealing the critical state of the US electoral system, click here.
Three county elections workers conspired to avoid a more thorough recount of ballots in the 2004 presidential election, a prosecutor told jurors during opening statements of their trial Thursday. Witnesses testified that, two days before a planned recount, selected ballots were counted so the result would be determined. "The evidence will show that this recount was rigged, maybe not for political reasons, but rigged nonetheless," Prosecutor Kevin Baxter said. "They did this so they could spend a day rather than weeks or months" on the recount, he said. Defense attorneys said in their opening statements that the workers in Cuyahoga County didn't do anything out of the ordinary. "They just were doing it the way they were always doing it," said defense attorney Roger Synenberg, representing Kathleen Dreamer, a ballot manager. Charged with various counts each of election misconduct or interference are Jacqueline Maiden, the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections' coordinator, who was the board's third-highest ranking employee when she was indicted last March; Rosie Grier, assistant manager of the board's ballot department; and Dreamer. Baxter said testimony in the case will show that instead of conducting a random count, the workers chose sample precincts for the Dec. 16, 2004, recount that did not have questionable results to ensure that no discrepancies would emerge. "This was a very hush operation," Baxter said. There were allegations in several counties of similar presorting of ballots for the recounts that state law says are to be random.
Note: For lots more reliable, verifiable information on elections manipulations, click here.
By the 2008 presidential election, voters around the country are likely to see sweeping changes in how they cast their ballots and how those ballots are counted. New federal guidelines, along with legislation given a strong chance to pass in Congress next year, will probably combine to make the paperless voting machines obsolete. Motivated in part by voting problems during the midterm elections last month, the changes are a result of a growing skepticism among local and state election officials, federal legislators and the scientific community about the reliability and security of the paperless touch-screen machines used by about 30 percent of American voters. Various forms of vote-counting software used around the country ... will for the first time be inspected by federal authorities, and the code could be made public. Last year, New Mexico spent $14 million to replace its touch screens. Other states are spending millions more to retrofit the machines to add paper trails. Because some printers malfunctioned last month, election commissioners in Cuyahoga County, Ohio, which includes Cleveland, said last week that they were considering scrapping their new $17 million system of touch-screen machines. Under changes approved by the Election Assistance Commission yesterday, voting machine manufacturers would have to make their crucial software code available to federal inspectors. The code is now checked mainly by private testing laboratories paid by the manufacturers.
Note: How is it possible that the government allowed voting machine companies to keep their software secret even from the government? We may never know how many votes were manipulated. For more, click here.
Some of electronic voting's loudest defenders have been state and local election officials. Many of those same officials have financial ties to voting machine companies. Former secretaries of state from Florida and Georgia have signed on as lobbyists for Election Systems and Software and Diebold Election Systems. When Bill Jones left office as California's secretary of state in 2003, he quickly became a consultant to Sequoia Voting Systems. His assistant secretary of state took a full-time job there. The list goes on. Even while in office, many election officials are happy to accept voting machine companies' largess. Forty-three percent of the budget of the National Association of Secretaries of State comes from voting machine companies and other vendors. State governments in a growing number of states...have pushed through much-needed laws that require electronic voting machines to produce paper records. But these groups have faced intense opposition from election officials [who] argued that voter-verifiable paper trails...are impractical. While they may sincerely think that electronic voting machines are so trustworthy that there is no need for a paper record of votes, their views have to be regarded with suspicion until their conflicts are addressed.
The United States is stepping up digital incursions into Russia’s electric power grid in a warning to President Vladimir V. Putin and a demonstration of how the Trump administration is using new authorities to deploy cybertools more aggressively, current and former government officials said. In interviews over the past three months, the officials described the previously unreported deployment of American computer code inside Russia’s grid and other targets as a classified companion to more publicly discussed action directed at Moscow’s disinformation and hacking units around the 2018 midterm elections. In August of 2018, President Trump signed [an] executive order ... called National Security Presidential Memorandum 13. Its contents are still classified, but essentially it allows the Cyber Command to go ahead and conduct all kinds of operations inside foreign networks without going back to the president for prior approval. The first thing it did was go after those units in Russia that were responsible for a lot of the election-hacking. They went after the G.R.U., the Russian military intelligence unit that had been responsible for breaking into the D.N.C.. A lot of that ... was made public. What wasn’t made public was a parallel effort to go inside the Russian power grid, to put some code in places where the Russians ... wouldn’t see it, in case the U.S. ever needed to act against Russia’s utilities as the Russians were putting malware in our systems.
Note: A 2007 New York Times article describes the formation of the Air Force Cyberspace Command to arm the US military in anticipation of widespread computer-based warfare. A more recent Guardian article says, "we might already be living through the first world cyberwar." For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on intelligence agency corruption from reliable major media sources.
In 2015, Maryland’s main election system vendor was bought by a parent company with ties to a Russian oligarch. The state’s election officials did not know about the purchase until July 2018, when the FBI notified them of the potential conflict. The FBI investigated and did not find any evidence of tampering or sharing of voter data. But the incident was a giant red flag ... especially as many states have outsourced vote-counting to the private sector. Democracy in the United States is now largely a secretive and privately-run affair conducted out of the public eye with little oversight. The corporations that run every aspect of American elections, from voter registration to casting and counting votes by machine, are subject to limited state and federal regulation. The companies are privately-owned and closely held, making information about ownership and financial stability difficult to obtain. The software source code and hardware design of their systems are kept as trade secrets. A small network of companies ... have near-monopolies on election services, such as building voting machines. Across the spectrum, private vendors have long histories of errors that affected elections, of obstructing politicians and the public from seeking information, of corruption, suspect foreign influence, false statements of security and business dishonesty. The computer security world has been sounding the alarm since voting machines were adopted. Now lawmakers, election officials and national security experts are joining in.
Note: Computer scientists have shown nearly every make and model of electronic voting machine to be vulnerable to hacking. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing elections corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.
Jurisdictions once monitored by the justice department for racially discriminatory voting practices have collectively closed more than 1,000 polling places since a watershed 2013 US supreme court ruling released the jurisdictions from oversight, according to a new watchdog report. In 757 counties and county equivalents that formerly had to pre-clear voting practice changes with Washington, 1,173 polling places disappeared between 2014 and 2018, a study by the Leadership Conference Education Fund, part of the nation’s oldest and largest civil rights coalition, found. The closures could disproportionately disenfranchise voters of color, especially when combined with restrictive voter ID laws, gerrymandering and aggressive voter roll purges, the report warned. Last month, a separate study found that US election jurisdictions with histories of egregious voter discrimination have been purging voter rolls at a rate 40% beyond the national average. “Closing polling places has a cascading effect, leading to long lines at other polling places, transportation hurdles, denial of language assistance and other forms of in-person help, and mass confusion about where eligible voters may cast their ballot,” the report said. “For many people, and particularly for voters of color, older voters, rural voters and voters with disabilities, these burdens make it harder – and sometimes impossible – to vote.”
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on elections corruption from reliable major media sources.
Georgia secretary of state and gubernatorial candidate Brian Kemp improperly purged more than 340,000 voters from the state’s registration rolls, an investigation charges. Greg Palast, a journalist and the director of the Palast Investigative Fund, said an analysis he commissioned found 340,134 voters were removed from the rolls on the grounds that they had moved – but they actually still live at the address where they are registered. “Their registration is cancelled. Not pending, not inactive – cancelled. If they show up to vote on 6 November, they will not be allowed to vote. That’s wrong,” Palast [said]. It’s the latest voting rights controversy to crop up in the Georgia governor’s race, which pits Republican Kemp against Democrat Stacey Abrams, who if elected would become the first African American woman governor of any state. Lawsuits have also charged that Kemp blocked the registrations of 50,000 would-be voters, 80% of them black, Latino or Asian, because of minor discrepancies in the spelling or spacing of their name. Another suit targeted the state’s most diverse county after it rejected an unusually large number of absentee ballots. “Brian Kemp has abused his power as secretary of state of Georgia to purge the voting rolls of Georgia primarily of black and brown people,” said Joe Beasley, an Atlanta civil rights activist. “If he had ... integrity, he would have stepped aside as secretary of state, because you can’t referee an election in which you stand to be a winner.”
Marsha Appling-Nunez was showing the college students she teaches how to check online if they're registered to vote when she made a troubling discovery. Despite being an active Georgia voter who had cast ballots in recent elections, she was no longer registered. She tried re-registering, but with about one month left before a November election ... Appling-Nunez's application is one of over 53,000 sitting on hold with Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp's office. Kemp, who's also the Republican candidate for governor, is in charge of elections and voter registration in Georgia. His Democratic opponent, former state Rep. Stacey Abrams, and voting rights advocacy groups charge that Kemp is systematically using his office to suppress votes and tilt the election, and that his policies disproportionately affect black and minority voters. Through a process that Kemp calls voter roll maintenance and his opponents call voter roll purges, Kemp's office has cancelled over 1.4 million voter registrations since 2012. Nearly 670,000 registrations were cancelled in 2017 alone. According to records obtained from Kemp's office through a public records request, Appling-Nunez's application - like many of the 53,000 registrations on hold with Kemp's office - was flagged because it ran afoul of the state's "exact match" verification process. An analysis of the records obtained by The Associated Press reveals racial disparity in the process. Georgia's population is approximately 32 percent black, according to the U.S. Census, but the list of voter registrations on hold with Kemp's office is nearly 70 percent black.
A little-known, billionaire-funded organization, called Americans for Prosperity (AFP), has tilted American politics to the right. [It] is at the center of the political network created and directed by the billionaire conservative industrialists, Charles and David Koch. AFP has quietly pushed behind the scenes for many of the most important conservative victories across the nation, including the anti-union bills that passed in former union strongholds such as Wisconsin, Michigan, and Ohio. AFP’s laser-like focus on anti-union legislation ... reflects strategic calculations. AFP has recognized that to make lasting change in US politics, the Koch network would need to permanently weaken the organizations that support liberal candidates and causes – and above all, the labor movement. In constructing AFP, the Kochs have created a vehicle that is perfectly positioned to reshape American politics. AFP focuses on both elections and policy battles at all levels of government. Its activities are mostly centrally directed. And even though grassroots participants do not have much say in the direction of the group, AFP has nearly 3 million citizen activists signed up to mobilize for candidates and policy causes. Taken together, AFP’s grassroots volunteers and staffing rival those of the Republican party itself. By providing resources to support GOP candidates and officials, and exerting leverage on them once elected, AFP has been able to pull the Republican party to the far right on economic, tax and regulatory issues.
Note: The Koch brothers' secretive empire spent nearly $1 billion on US elections in 2016. Along with opposing organized labor, this empire has been killing public transit projects across the country. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on government corruption and the manipulation of public perception.
Tax-exempt nonprofit organizations supposedly devoted to “social welfare” can spend large amounts of money to influence elections without publicly disclosing the identities of their donors. But instead of cracking down on the use of “dark money” for political purposes, the Internal Revenue Service has decided to stop requiring these groups to reveal even to the government the sources of their funding. On Monday, the IRS and the Treasury Department announced they would no longer require 501(c)(4) groups ... to supply the government with the identities of donors who gave more than $5,000 in a single year. It’s a step backward that could make it easier for money from foreign sources to find its way into U.S. elections. But while this week’s policy change may not affect what the public may learn about political spending by so-called social welfare groups, it could make it more difficult for the government to police laws against spending by foreigners on U.S. elections. Fred Wertheimer, president of the campaign reform group Democracy 21, warned that, with the end of the reporting requirement, “there is no way to determine if a 501(c)(4) advocacy group that is spending money to influence federal elections is taking that money from [a] foreign interest.”
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing elections corruption news articles from reliable major media sources. Then explore the excellent, reliable resources provided in our Elections Information Center.
The nation’s largest voting equipment vendor has for at least nine years coaxed state and local elections officials to serve on an “advisory board” that gathers twice annually for company-sponsored conferences, including one last year at a ritzy Las Vegas resort hotel. The arrangement could compromise the integrity of the officials' decisions. As many as a dozen election officials attended the March 2, 2017 Las Vegas meeting, with a number of them accepting airfare, lodging, meals and, according to one participant, a ticket to a show on the Strip from their voting systems vendor, Nebraska-based Election Systems and Software (ES&S). The unusual practice, which has not previously been reported, offers a glimpse of one way in which a voting equipment manufacturer has sought to cement relationships with government officials, some of whom play roles in the award of millions of dollars in contracts. Ethics experts and election watchdogs say the company's hospitality and hobnobbing with government officials is potentially corrupting. Many states are continuing a shift to voting systems that produce paper backup ballots, so vote counts can be verified in post-election audits. ES&S is peddling electronic ballot-marking devices that produce paper ballots to be fed into optical scanners – equipment that critics contend should be limited to use by disabled voters. Paper ballots, they say, are far less expensive and can be scanned and quickly tabulated.
Note: Why all the focus on Russia manipulating US elections, when this alone shows how US elections are being manipulated by internal groups? For undeniable evidence that elections have been manipulated for years by political groups in the country, see our Elections Information Center.
The Arizona legislature passed a bill that protects anonymous political spending Thursday, less than a month after Tempe, Arizona, residents voted overwhelmingly to increase transparency on that type of spending in local elections. The battle between city and state opens a new front in the national debate over so-called “dark money” in politics; it's also the first time a state has moved to ban local governments from shining light on secret spending. This type of spending is most consequential at the local level, experts say, because since local elections are relatively cheap and receive little media coverage, ads or mailers backed by just a few thousand dollars of dark money can easily dominate a campaign. More than 90 percent of Tempe voters cast ballots for an amendment to the city’s charter requiring all groups spending more than $1,000 on local races to disclose their donors in March. In response, the Republican-controlled Arizona Legislature passed a bill last week that bans local governments from requiring non-profit groups, the most common dark money vehicles, to disclose the source of their funding. Thanks to the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision, these groups can spend an unlimited amount of money on elections, so long as they don’t coordinate with candidates and their parties. Anonymous spending has surged. As a result, cities and states have passed their own political disclosure laws. Denver and Philadelphia, for example, have passed laws requiring disclosure of dark money.
Note: South Dakota citizens also voted for tougher ethics laws, only to have this reversed by the state's Republicans. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing elections corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.
Imagine it is the spring of 2019. A bottom-feeding website, perhaps tied to Russia, “surfaces” video of a sex scene starring an 18-year-old Kirsten Gillibrand. It is soon debunked as a fake, the product of a user-friendly video application that employs generative adversarial network technology to convincingly swap out one face for another. Then it is fall. The junior senator from New York State announces her campaign for the presidency. At a diner in New Hampshire, one “low information” voter asks another: “Kirsten What’s-her-name? She’s running for president? Didn’t she have something to do with pornography?” Welcome to the shape of things to come. The technology [is] closer than you might think. And even when fake video isn’t perfect, it can convince people who want to be convinced, especially when it reinforces ... stereotypes. It might be impossible to stop the advance of this kind of technology. But the relevant algorithms here aren’t only the ones that run on computer hardware. They are also the ones that undergird our too easily hacked media system, where garbage acquires the perfumed scent of legitimacy with all too much ease. It already feels as though we are living in an alternative science-fiction universe where no one agrees on what it true. Just think how much worse it will be when fake news becomes fake video. Democracy assumes that its citizens share the same reality. We’re about to find out whether democracy can be preserved when this assumption no longer holds.
Note: Read more about producing fake video with computer programs. While governments have long been developing technologies to produce very convincing illusions, and it has become trivial to edit video footage of a person talking to change their words and facial expressions, this emerging technology makes it possible to manipulate mass media in previously impossible ways.
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