Saturday, September 19, 2020

Why Does GA Voting System Let Voters Vote Twice?

A Double-Voting Fiasco, a Combination of Glitchy Technology and Poll Worker's Human-Error doesn’t bode well for November Elections.

Lynn Elander, a Semi-Retired Marketing Executive, in Atlanta, Voted Twice in Georgia’s Presidential and U.S. Senate Primary Races this year. She didn’t mean to, she says. But Georgia’s Election System let her do it.

Elander Voted First in March, In-Advance of the State’s March 24th Presidential Primary, and then again in late May, after Coronavirus Fears Delayed the Original Primary Twice. She went to the Polls the Second Time to Vote on New Down-Ballot Races that hadn’t Appeared on the March Mail-In Ballot. But when she Inserted her Ballot Card into the Machine, it Pulled-Up All the Races, including those she had already Voted on. She Assumed her Earlier Ballot had been Discarded and Cast her Vote Again.

Lynn Elander is waiting to see what happens next. When she arrived to Vote Early a Second time in late May, Elander recalls, the Poll Books wouldn’t spit out her Voting Card, maybe because she Already Voted. But A Poll Worker intervened and produced one Manually, which didn’t appear to be a big deal. “No one articulated this, but it seemed like this was a usual occurrence,” she says. “The poll workers treated it as though this was a problem they’d already had many times before.” Now, she’s worried about Felony Charges.

Elander is now part of a Double-Voting Scandal in Georgia that flared up less than a week after Trump advised Americans to try to Vote Twice, which is Illegal. Georgia Secretary of State, Brad Raffensperger (R), announced on Sept. 8th that 1,000 Georgians cast Double Ballots in the Primary. 60% of them were Democrats, he said. These Facts Quickly, and Erroneously, gave Oxygen to Claims that Mail-in-Voting invites Democratic Election Fraud. On Sept. 12th, Twitter put a Warning Label on a Trump Tweet that Encouraged North Carolina Voters to Vote-by-Mail but then to go to the Polls and Vote Again if they thought their First Ballot hadn’t been Counted.

But Mail-in-Voting isn’t the Culprit in Georgia’s Double-Voting Fiasco, which did Not Change the Outcome of any Race. To Blame were an Overwhelmed, Understaffed State Election System and Sign-In Voting Computers that Failed to Detect who had already Voted. Although only a Tiny Fraction of Georgia’s Electorate is Implicated, the Problems could Preview similar Election Woes this fall in Georgia and other Battleground States, where the Presidential Race could come down to a Small Number of Contested Votes.

Raffensperger has threatened to Prosecute alleged Offenders, and the Names of Two have been made Public. The first is Elander; the Second is Hamilton Evans, a 73-year-old from Long County, who brought his wife to the Polls on June 9th after Voting Early himself. A Poll Worker asked for his ID while he was waiting, and he says he handed it over to see what would happen. She gave him a Ballot Card. He used it, again, to see what would happen, he says, and then immediately Headed to the Local Sheriff’s Office. “I went to report it,” Evans says. “I thought, ‘This isn’t right. There’s something wrong with the system. It needs to be fixed.’” It was Evans' Double Vote that Indirectly kicked off Raffensperger's Investigation Statewide. “Don't know yet,” Evan says when asked if he’s in Criminal Trouble.

Election Controversies are nothing new in Georgia. The State has aggressively Culled Voter Rolls and, until this year, it used what Critics called the most Insecure Voting Machinery in the U.S. Last year, it Replaced its Voting Technology. The June 9th Primary was the Statewide Debut of New, Computerized Ballot-Marker Voting Machines supplied by Dominion Voting Systems. On Primary Day, however, In-Person Voters had to wait hours in line after Delays involving some of these Machines, which are now the subject of a Lawsuit.

The Vting System produces a Ballot that Scans a Bar-Code on the Ballot, so the Voter has No way to Determine thir Votes are what the System Tallys.

Georgia utilizes Electronic Poll Books for Voter Check-In, supplied by St. Louis-based KnowInk, and Scanners to Count the Ballots. Like many States, it uses iPads with Proprietary Software to Verify that Voters are Eligible to Receive a Ballot. But dangling from those iPads are Readers to Scan Voter Barcodes from Paper and Program them onto ATM-like Ballot Cards, which Voters then Feed into Touchscreen Machines. For Voters who have Received an Absentee Ballot but want to Vote on Election Day, Poll Workers must Manually Punch the Voter’s Details into the iPad to Program the ATM Card.

In June, some of the Poll IPads Failed to Start-Up or to Connect to Georgia’s Central Elections Database, causing a possible Security Problem. A Preset Login Password, the Same across All Devices in the State, sometimes didn’t work, according to Court Filings in Longstanding Litigation over the State’s Voting Practices, led by a Group called the Coalition for Good Governance. Crucially, as the Public learned last week, the iPads were Unable in many Cases to Distinguish between Someone who’d already Cast a Ballot and Someone who had Not. According to the State, the Data that would have Allowed that hadn’t Reliably been Keyed-In.

Malfunctions spanned the New Voting System, according to the Coalition for Good Governance’s Lawsuit. Cybersecurity Experts argue that any Election under this system is Flawed, and the System lacks the Transparency needed to Verify Outcomes. It should be Gutted before November, say the Plaintiffs in the Litigation. Georgia’s State Election Officials contend that the June Debacle had more to do with Conducting an Election in the Covid-19 Pandemic Era than any Systemwide Gaps in its Voting Technology. Some has put their Heads in the sand.

Although the State has yet to offer a Breakdown of how its 1,000 Double Voters cast their Ballots, most are likely to have Voted Absentee First, either by Mail or via Early, In-Person-Vvoting, and on Election Day Second, according to Gabriel Sterling, Georgia’s Voting System Implementation Manager.

A State Investigation is ongoing, but Sterling says he Suspects that Untrained, Stressed-Out Poll Workers who Failed to Follow Proper Procedures were a Chief Reason for the Double Votes. The Primary was Short on Experienced Poll Workers and Polling Places, due to fears over Covid-19. In the State’s Biggest County, Fulton, Local Election Officials had to Hire more than 200 Poll Workers the Weekend before the June 9th Primary.

According to Sterling, the Main Problem with Early, In-Person Voting was that Poll Workers Failed to Manually Input Data in Real Time on who was Voting, so a Backlog built up. This meant that Electronic Poll Books on Election Day wouldn’t Show that a Person had already Voted. Likewise, Voters who Requested a Mail-In-Ballot but didn’t Use-It are Supposed to Bring it to the Polls to have it Canceled before Voting-in-Person. If they didn’t bring it, Poll Workers could determine Electronically Only that they had Requested a Ballot, Not whether they had Cast-It. And Poll Workers had to Cancel the Early Ballot over the Phone with an Election Official, a Time-Consuming Step that Sterling says may have been Skipped by Poll Workers facing Long Lines.

When Voters decided to Ditch their Absentee Ballots for In-Person Voting, the Check-In Machines provided some Resistance. But it was Easily Circumvented by Poll Workers with the Press of a Single Button. Less than Two Months away from Election Day, the State is still mulling the Addition of a Passcode, which may Prompt Volunteers to Double-Check the Voter's Status.

In an Aug. 19th Declaration to the Court, a Local Election Official in Cherokee County Confirmed that the Ipads “can issue an unlimited number of voter access cards to same voter, with no override pass-code or anything required from the election office.” To Critics of Georgia Elections, including the Plaintiffs in the Lawsuit, which has been Meandering through State Courts since 2017, the Failure of Poll Books to Prevent Double Voting is Evidence that Georgia’s New Voting System should be Ditched for Hand-Marked Paper Ballots Scanned and Tabulated by Industrial Scanners.

“If Georgia’s poll-pad system has been set to permit unlimited issuance of voter access cards for a single voter, this would constitute a high risk and non-standard election process,” Hari Hursti, a Cybersecurity and Election Security Expert, said in a Legal Declaration supporting Plaintiffs' Argument.

The dearth of Trained Poll Workers and Polling Places was Aggravated, Sterling says, by Third-Party Groups, including advocacy Groups and both Major Political Parties, Texting and Emailing Warnings that Early or Absentee Votes might Not have Counted and urging People to go to the Polls. “And now, in this case, we have the president of the United States doing it,” he says of Trump’s Recent Calls to Vote Twice.

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker

Senate Republicans Renounce Trump’s Claim that Election Results May Never be Determined

Senate Republicans, on Thursday Sept. 18th, forcefully rejected Trump’s Suggestion that the 2020 Election Results might Not be Accurately Determined.

Trump, who has frequently made Comments that Undermine Confidence in the Electoral Process and once Suggested Delaying the Election, Tweeted on Thursday morning that the “result may never be accurately determined, which is what some want.”

Trump’s Assertions have been based on Unsubstantiated Claims about Mail-in-Voting, which is expected to be Widespread this year because of the Coronavirus Pandemic. U.S. Intelligence Officials have also Warned that Foreign Actors, including the Russian Government, have Amplified Similar Claims on, Social Media, in Order to Instill Doubt in the Process.

Twitter Officials Flagged Trump’s Tweet as “potentially misleading statement regarding the process of mail-in voting” — and many GOP Senators agreed.

“It’s just not accurate,” Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), Acting Chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said when asked whether Trump’s Comment was Inappropriate.

“I don’t think we’ll have inaccurate election results,” Rubio added. “They may take a lot longer than they ever have because of the amount of mailed ballots that are going to come in and so forth. But I don’t have any concerns about the accuracy of the election.”

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker

MS Justices Say No Broad Absentee Voting Amid COVID-19

Mississippi Law does Not allow Absentee Voting by All People who have Health Conditions that might make them Vulnerable to COVID-19, the State Supreme Court ruled Friday Sept. 18th.

A Majority of Justices Reversed a Sept. 2nd Decision by Hinds County Chancery Judge, Denise Owens, saying she too Broadly Interpreted some Changes that Legislators made to State Law this year.

“Having a preexisting condition that puts a voter at a higher risk does not automatically create a temporary disability for absentee-voting purposes,” Justices wrote.

Rob McDuff is a Mississippi Center for Justice Attorney who Sued the State on behalf of People with Conditions including Kidney Disease and Diabetes. He said Friday that: The Supreme Court Ruling does Allow Absentee Voting by People with Conditions that are Serious enough to be considered a Physical Disability.

Other Voting Rights Groups filed a similar Lawsuit Aug. 27th in Federal Court, arguing Mississippi’s Absentee Voting Restrictions put People at Risk amid the Pandemic.

They filed Additional Papers, Thursday Sept. 17th, asking a Judge to Block Two Requirements:

- That a Voter have Absentee Ballot Forms Notarized.

- That People have an Excuse to Vote Absentee, such as being Out-of-Town on Election Day.

Waiving the Excuse would Open Absentee Voting to many More People.

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker

The 12th Annual Climate Week NYC

The Largest Climate Summit of the year, kicks off in New York in just a few days.

Taking place alongside the United Nations General Assembly, The Climate Group will host the Twelfth-Annual Climate Week NYC on September 21st-27th,

This year’s Event focuses on making a Transition to a Net-Zero Carbon Emissions Future that Prioritizes Solutions for Communities that have historically been overburdened by Pollution.

In New York, the Transportation Sector generates One-Third of Emissions and Disproportionately harms Low-Income Neighborhoods and Communities of Color. That’s why the Summit is singling out the Transportation Sector and seeking climate Justice this Climate Week.

Many of the same New Yorkers who suffer from Pollution and Poor Air Quality also lack Access to Environmentally Friendly Transportation, from Transit Deserts far from Subway, Buses, and Trains, to Bikeshare Programs.

Not only is it past time for Elected Officials to Address this Injustice, but Action on this Issue is also Essential to Cut Emissions and Fight Climate Change.

The Tools to Significantly Reduce Emissions already Exist. That’s why we must work to Secure Funding for some of the most Effective Tools that we have, including Public Transit Agencies, which have been hit Hard by the COVID-19 Crisis.

Now at the Javits Center, the Nation’s largest Green Venue, The Nest Summit will help Expand this Mission and become a Prime Destination during Climate Week NYC, broadening Climate Awareness and Action. The Nest Summit 2020 Program will Host the Companies, Visionary Researchers, and Influential Policy-Makers that are Advancing Sustainability in the United States and will be Broadcast on the Climate Group’s Open Media Channels, as well as hitting the Airwaves with Select Media Partners.

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker

NY Expands Options for Absentee Voters to Have Their Vote Counted

A Settlement Agreement for the November Election has been reached between Attorneys representing New York Voters and State Attorneys with the New York State Board of Elections and Office of the New York Attorney General, addressing Issues brought by Selendy & Gay and Campaign Legal Center (CLC) in their July Case over the Process by which the State Counts Absentee Ballots. The League of Women Voters of New York State and an Individual, Carmelina Palmer, are Plaintiffs in the Case.

Terms of the Settlement specify how Voters will be Contacted if their Ballot is Rejected and how they can Fix the Problem.

The State has Expanded who will Benefit from this “cure” Process to include other types of Rrrors beyond their Signature, including Defects with their Envelope.

It will also, for the First time, provide a Clear List of Technical Issues such as Use of Pencil or Extraneous Marks on the Ballot, that do Not trigger Ballot Rejection and do Not require any further Voter Action.

Counties had previously used many of these Reasons to Disqualify Ballots, leading to alarming Ballot Rejection Rates, including in this year’s Primary Elections.

More than 84,000 Ballots were Rejected in New York City alone.

The Settlement builds off the Suite of Voter Protections addressed by Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) and the New York State Legislature in August.

S.4378/A.5661A: Makes Provisions regarding the Designation of Polling Places on College Campuses.

S7194/A8998: Provide Students with Voter Information and Application for Voter Registration.

S.8015-D/A.10833 - Authorizes Voters to Request an Absentee Ballot Due to Risk of Illness, Including COVID-19.

S.8370B/A.10830: Requires BOE to Notify a Voter if their Absentee Ballot is Invalidated due to a Missing or Mis-Matched Signature or an Unsealed Envelope, and Provides the Voter a Chance to Cure the Deficiency.

S.8782/A.8610: Requiring Municipalities with the Highest Population in each County to have at least One Polling Place designated for Early Voting.

S.8783A/A.10807 - Authorizes Voters to Request Absentee Ballots Starting August 20th.

S.8799A/A.10808-A - Allows Ballots to Be Postmarked On the Day of the Election, November 3rd.

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker

Friday, September 18, 2020

DOJ IG Asked to Probe Barr for Possible 2020 Election Influence

Four House Committee Chairs are calling on the Justice Department Inspector General to Open an Emergency Investigation into whether Attorney General, William Barr and other Political Appointees, have Improperly Influenced the upcoming 2020 Presidential Election.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-NY, 10th District), House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA, 28th District), House Oversight and Reform Committee Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney (D-NY, 12th District), and House Administration Committee Chairwoman Zoe Lofgren (D-CA, 19th District), on Friday Sept. 18th, called on Department of Justice (DOJ) Inspector General (IG), Michael Horowitz, to Probe whether Barr's Oublic Comments on Ongoing Investigations and other Actions are a Violation of the Agency's longstanding Policy and Federal Law.

"Attorney General Barr has signaled repeatedly that he is likely to allow DOJ to take prosecutorial actions, make public disclosures, and even issue reports before the presidential election in November. Such actions clearly appear intended to benefit President Trump politically," the Top Democrats wrote to Horowitz.

"Few actions would prove more damaging to public confidence in the integrity of the DOJ and our democratic process than the perception that federal prosecutorial power can be used to prejudice a pending investigation or influence an upcoming election. As such, we believe it is imperative that this matter be immediately investigated, that you inform our Committees of your decision to open an investigation, and that you report the results promptly to our Committees," they continued.

In particular, Democrats Claim, Barr and U.S. Attorney John Durham, have made several Public Comments on an Investigation into the Origins of the Russia Investigation that they say could Violate this Department Policy and related Guidelines, and they pointed to the Possibility of the DOJ Releasing a Report or Summary within 60 days of the Election as an Action that could Influence the Election.

The Democrats noted that a DOJ Manual says Neither the Agency nor its Personnel may Confirm or Comment on Ongoing Investigations before Charges are Publicly filed, and that a Memo from the Agency says that "prosecutors may never select the timing of investigative steps or criminal charges for the purpose of affecting any election, or for the purpose of giving an advantage or disadvantage to any candidate or political party."

They also pointed to a Previous Report in 2018 Authored by Barr, where he said Law Enforcement and Prosecutorial Activities must be Avoided when Close to an Election, "typically within 60 or 90 days of Election Day."

In urging Horowitz to Examine the matter, they Claim Barr has Changed this View on these Policies, citing an Interview Earlier this year with Conservative Radio Host Hugh Hewitt. "I think in its core, the idea is you don't go after candidates. You don't indict candidates or perhaps someone that's sufficiently close to a candidate, that it's essentially the same, you know, within a certain number of days before an election. But you know, as I say, I don't think any of the people whose actions are under review by Durham fall into that category," Barr said during the Interview in April. "That's big news to me. I had assumed that they would be in the category of people that could not be indicted given the obvious connection to President Trump," Hewitt replied.

Democrats are asking Horowitz to Examine a Range of Matters, including whether Barr Violated DOJ's Policies and Procedures related to the Durham Probe; how a Report released by Durham before the 2020 Election would Comply with the Agency's policies related to actions near an upcoming election; and how the DOJ has implemented Horowitz's 2018 Recommendations that stemmed from Actions by the FBI and DOJ in 2016. They are also calling for an Examination of Durham's Legal Authority and whether he has the "authority to issue a public report about a subject who has not yet been charged in a federal court."

Their Letter comes after Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee, led by the Panel's Ranking Member, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), also similarly called on Horowitz, on Thursday Sept. 17th, to Examine Durham's Probe and possible Political Interference in the 2020 Election.

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker

Postmaster General Formally Accused of Breaking Election Law

Embattled U.S. Postmaster General, Louis DeJoy, was Accused of Violating the Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA) by Reimbursing his XPO Logistics, located in North Carolina, Employees for making Political Contributions to Republican Candidates, including Trump.

The Complaint: “Louis DeJoy’s rise as GOP fundraiser was powered by contributions from coworkers who were later reimbursed, former employees say.”

Under Federal Law, having Someone Else make a Campaign Finance Contribution on your behalf is Expressly Illegal, it is called the “Straw Donor Scheme”.

Per a Federal Election Commission (FEC) explainer: Contributions in the Name of Another are Strictly Prohibited.

Reimbursing someone for a contribution or otherwise contributing in the name of another person can result in substantial civil penalties and jail time. The FEC and the Department of Justice have prosecuted several such cases over the last few years. These violations sometimes occur when an individual who has already contributed up to the limit to a campaign gives money to another person to make a contribution to the same candidate.

North Carolina, Attorney General Josh Stein (D), noting that “It is against the law to directly or indirectly reimburse someone for a political contribution.” North Carolina State Law also Prohibits the Practice and there is No Statute of Limitations for Violations of the State Statute, which are Felonies.

According to the Complaint filed by the Campaign Legal Center (CLC), Campaign Finance Records show “several instances of XPO employees contributing to the same candidate or committee, during the same period of time, and often in similar amounts.”

“DeJoy family members, including DeJoy’s college-aged children, also made contributions on the same day or in the same period as those employees,” the Complaint said. “Between 2015 and 2018, XPO Logistics employees and DeJoy family members following this pattern together gave over $150,000 to the same candidates and committees, including over $50,000 to Trump Victory, President Donald Trump’s joint fundraising committee.”

The Complaint also includes Documentation of similar Activity in comparatively Old Contributions to Rudy Giuliani and Jeb Bush.

CLC argued that the FEC “should find reason to believe that Louis DeJoy and XPO Logistics violated 52 U.S.C. § 30101, et seq., and conduct an immediate investigation under 52 U.S.C. § 30109(a)(2).”

“Further, the Commission should seek appropriate sanctions for any and all violations, including civil penalties sufficient to deter future violations and an injunction prohibiting the respondents from any and all violations in the future, and should seek such additional remedies as are necessary and appropriate to ensure compliance with the FECA,” the Complaint concluded.

The Complaint noted that FECA Violations are “generally subject to a five-year statute of limitations, 28 U.S.C. § 2462″, a relevant fact considering that the Complaint focuses on Contributions made from 2015 to 2018, when DeJoy was a Board Member at XPO Logistics.

CLC Director of Federal Reform. Brendan Fischer, said in a Statement that DeJoy’s “reimbursement scheme disguised the true source of potentially hundreds of thousands of dollars in contributions, and appears to have continued through 2018.”

“DeJoy is legally permitted to make contributions, as long as he does so in his own name, using his own money, and within legal contribution limits—but that does not appear to have happened,” Fischer said. “Straw donations, where a donor routes campaign contributions through another person, are prohibited because they are a means of evading the law’s transparency requirements and contribution limits. The FEC needs to crack down on violations like this to protect the right of voters to know who is giving money to influence their vote and our government.”

Between 2000 and 2014, 124 Individuals who worked for the Company together gave more than $1 Million to Federal and State GOP Candidates. Many had Not previously made Political Donations, and have not made any since leaving the Company, Public Records show.

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker