Friday, April 13, 2007

Commonwealth Court: You Have a Right to Know Your Vote Counts

Late yesterday, a sharply divided Commonwealth Court refused to dismiss a complaint by Dr. Alan Brau, and others attacking the state's lax certification procedures for touchscreen voting machines here and throughout most of Pennsylvania.

Dr. Brau, a local physician, insists these touchscreen machines are unreliable and advocates a voter-verified paper trail. Nearly a year ago, he was spurned by the Department of State when he asked for re-examination of the WINVote system. He is part of a nonpartisan group that has challenged the state's certification in Commonwealth Court. When asked about his motivation, Dr. Brau simply responded. "I'm a citizen. I'm a voter." In addition to general concerns about the lack of a paper trail, Dr. Brau is troubled by the specific WINVote system used in Northampton County. He has reiterated BlackBox Voting's allegation about AVS, the county's voting machine vendor. It's been accused of pulling a bait and switch. After getting its hardware certified, AVS is accused of shipping a cheaper internal hardware system, manufactured in China.

In recent weeks, we've learned we voted last November with machines the state never bothered to certify. And it's about to happen again. Changes are being made to voting software to accommodate large municipal ballots, and those changes won't be certified until after the election.

In essence, the court's ruling means voters have a state constitutional right to reliable and secure voting systems and can challenge the use of electronic voting machines “that provide no way for Electors to know whether their votes will be recognized” through voter verification or independent audit.
Correction: I'm an idiot. I just told you we'll be voting this spring with uncertified machines, but I'm wrong. AVS does want to change its software for larger municipal ballots, but it won't happen until after the primary. County officials won't allow uncertified machines to be used. I apologize for adding to the confusion.

10 comments:

b said...

Bernie,

Northampton County Executive John Stoffa has to go.

I said it early, and I'm saying it again, though nothing says it more simply and eloquently (the architectural ideal still dating back to the ancient Greeks, Easton Mayor Phil Mitman and Parking Authority Chairman Lou "Mr Easton" Ferrone take note) than the reply of that good physician of Allentown, Dr. Brau, when asked why he broght his lawsuit against the machince: "I am a citizens and a voter."

God Bless him and his courage and good sense. I, too, am a "citizen and a voter."

Stoffa, not Deborah DePaul, bought the touch-screen machines, just as he fell in love with the Sands BethWorks LLP slot machines.

It was the Mob-related Las Vegas-Atlantic City-Pocono Mob-infested procurement of these machines that almost torpedoed Sands BethWorks LLP once before, and will again, before this dust of the former Bethlehem Steel's 1800 acrese in the Christmans City's South Side neighborhood settles.

We have lived too long already with voter and other fraud here In Northampton County.

And if I may, by way of extending condolences to you, your brother Mike and other members of your family, on the death of Kurt Vonnegut.

As a hack writer from a generation moled by the war stories of Vonnegut, Mailer, Jame Jones, Wouk, Heller, etc., and as a veteran of Korea and of the "We can no longer afford guns and butter, too, of the Civil War of the '50s and '60s here on the home front, I'm sick of war and I want Bush and Gates and General Betrayus to get our troops the hell of Iraq - NOW!

Bernie O'Hare said...

Billy,

Repeating a lie long enough doesn't make it true, no matter how hard you try.

Stoffa had nothing to do with the selection of AVS as voting machine vendor. I've been through this with you now at least three times. He had been in office just 18 days when that system was selected. It was recommended by a selection committee. Stoffa was not a member of that committee, nor was any member of council. DePaul was a member of that committee. But I don't fault her or the comnmittee in the selection of AVS. Hindsight is always 20/20.

At the time AVS was selected, I sat on my hands. So did you. You believe nonetheless that Stoffa should go. Well, by your own reasoning, so should you. You should withdraw your candidacy at once abnd ask your pal, John Turdaro, to start walking you into poles. If he can't do it, I'll ask around for a few volunteers.

Thanks for your nice words re Vonnegut.

Billy Givens said...

Bernie,

I could be nasty in return, but turning the other cheek, first because I'm more religious now since my cancer diagnosis - reminding me since my service in North Korean waters in that war - but I wont.

I've known you too long and have too much respect for you and for what you are doing to reform our corrupt government, and for having as a personal friend an artist of the caliber of Vonnegut.

But even more than that, your own accoplishments as a one-time U.S. Attorney for the entire Pennsylvania Middle District, about a third of the Commonwealth's counties.

And also for your defeat of the General Purpose Authority's fraudulent year 2000 $113 million megabond.

And more than that even, the 2001 $111 million bond warn-over that you also defeated, but that Reibman and Company managed to salvage only through the ineffably corrupt intervention of then-Motions Judge Isaac Garb from Bucks County and Stoffa predecessor Glenn Reibman, his de facto executive Jim Hickey, and his spouse-swapping Director of Community and Economic Development, Vince Dominach.

Stoffa looks good only because Reibman was so damn bad.

He and all of Northampton County's officialdom turned the full force of the county's awesome powerr to save Dominach's skin.

And they would have exceeded except for the cartoon that Billy Bytes Publications' illustrator created and I distributed in Downtown Easton, including City Hall, and in the County Government Center, including the adjoining fourth-floor suites of Reibman and Hickey.

Consider these quotes from the December 20, 2001, article of The Express-Times county-beat reporter Joe Carlson, "Tardy judge lets bond sale prevail:

"At 9:27 a.m. Wednesday, $111 million ripped through the phone lines and ended up in a bank account with Northampton County's name on it. After a year and a half of legal and political wrangling over the county's bond issue, administrators received word Wednesday morning that the bonds were sold and the money had been wired into a Commerce Bank trustee account.

"Proponents of the plan celebrated the closing, calling it an early Christmas present. Bond foes cried foul, saying county officials sold the bonds earlier than they said they would to a avoid a court. Final payment for the bonds was scheduled 'at or prior to at or prior to 11 a.m.,' on Wednesday according to the agreement of sale.

"But perennial bond opponent Bernie O'Hare of Nazareth had a court date scheduled for 9 a.m. that morning to ask Senior Judge Isaac S. Garb to issue a 10-day injunction on final sale of the bonds.

"As 0 a,n, drew near and then passed without a hearing, Administration Director James Hickey was anxiously awaiting a phone call about the bond deal and mingling with a dozen attorneys and officials amassed outside Motion Court.

"By about 9:45 a.m., when the hearing finally got under way, the bonds had already been sold.

"'The bonds have been sold, the money has been received. There is nothing Mr. O'Hare can do, even if he was correct on the merits' of his case, county authority attorney Ronald Williams told Garb."

Meanwhile, "Director Vince Dominach was upstairs calling municipal officials to tell them to move formward with projects funded through bond proceeds.

"In addition to $68 million in county building projects, the bond includes $29 million in grants for local infrastructure projects intended to spur economic growth."

That is, $97 million, now far exceeding that figure, what with non-competitive bidding and Davis-Bacon/PLA union-scale wages.

The remaining $14 million - $111 million minus $97 million - went out the deteriorating windows of the county's Gracedale Nursing Home in Nazareth and through the roof of the courthouse' cupola.

The difference also flew into the coffers of the so-called "Lehigh Valley" International Airport Authority and pockets of its Director George Doughty and Lafayette College-emeritus Arthur J. Rothkopf.

This for rturn-trip airfare for
Vince Dominach and his wife and their two minor-age children to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, tp redezvous with a New Jersey Dentist and his wife in a motel room for a vacation of spousal-swapping and drunken brawwling leading to the arrest of the adults and the taking into police custody of the their children.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Billy!

Be as nasty as you want, but be honest. Stop blaming Stoffa for soemthing he had nothing to do with.

And if your position is that Stoffa should have spoken out, then you condemn yourself because you were mute, too.

Billy Givens said...

Bernie,

Besides authorizing, or certainly not stopping, purchase of the voting machines, Stoffa was an early, outspoken supporter of Act 71, legalized gambling, and its corollary, Act 72, the so-called "rear-end" voter referendum posing as property-tax relief by laundering casino, and racino, gambling proceeds through the washing machines of various governmental bodies.

Stoffa's advocacy was trumpeted on such venues as Ron Angle's WGPA talk/call-in radio show, "At Issue," and oft repeated in numerous other venues since.

Also, instead of advocating on behalf of 81-year-old Anna Mae Kessler of 574 Bangor Road, Plainfield Township, Stoffa colluded in the violation of this octogenarian's person and civil rights by clapping her into the Williams Manor nursing home at 164 Baron Raod, Bushkill Township, incommunicado except for her daugher Phyllis and court-appointed guardian Tim Prendergast and denied the Consitutional, 14th Amendment Right, to appeal her forced imprisonment.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Billy!

1) AVS machines. Stoffa did not stop the county from purchasing AVS machines. Neither did you. You stated Stoffa has to go because of this. Therefore, under your own reasoning, I expect you to withdraw your candidacy immediately. In addition, Ialso expect you to hurl yourself off Timmer Towers! It won't hurt. Angle pushed me off last night.

2) Gambling Stoffa was not a member of the legislature that enacted gambling, and he's no gambling advocate. In fact, he's convened hearings about the problems gambling will cause. Did you miss that? But since you're hellbent on legislating morality, a characteristic common to Alabamans, I suggest we enact a law prohibiting the most dangerous drug of all - booze, especially booze consumed by lanky Alabamans with white beards. Let's see how long you last without your daily snort.

3) Anna Mae Kessler Frankly, I think the county committed the wrong person. Anna Mae has been shackled while you and John Turdaro run into light poles with gless. But as I've told you repeatedly before, a county executive can't be involved in a judicial matter. That's a violation of the doctrine of separation of powers. That would be as bad as having judges who think they run the courthouse. Wait, they do. Give me time to think up another analogy while I answer the door. There are some guys here in white coats and a net.

Billy Givens said...

Bernie,

As I've maintained since John "Turdaro" was forced from his "Ground Hog Day" publicly announced challenge to County Executive Glenn Reibman in the May that he would challege Glenn Reibman in the May 17 Democratic Primary, I have insisted that John was a far better candidate than the john who patronizes Mob-infested slot machine gambling casinos and the manufacturers of gelded touch-screen voting machines that make these devices a travesty.

John - John Todaro - though legally blind, is not disabled: As I've always insisted, and still do, he is "differently abled."

It is Stoffa who is diabled, mentally and morally - and in the gut; not a cancer like the one in my cecom, but in his spine, one worse than mine because it saps him of moral courage and leadership.

His pathology metastasizes to his eyes, blinding him to Blind Justice and the best path into the future of this county.

And before giving you the chance first, I'll say it myself: If anyone is not qualified to do this it is I: For it is I who steered John into the light pole because of my anger directed that evening at Councilman Nick Sabatine.

LVDem said...

Bernie, those men came to my door too but they were looking for a rare butterfly. Besides, you know better than to use reason with Billy when he is on one of his episodes.

Billy Givens said...

Stoffa must go, not for his current attempt to created a new bi-county (Lehigh and Northampton) health authority bureaucracy in league with the two counties' hospitals, the Weller Health and Wellness Foundation, and the Dorothy Rider Poole foundation - as a successor to to Northampton County's defunct Easton Hospital Authority, or EHA - but, worse than that, for his purchase of the electronic voting machines used in Northampton Counties last general election, and ,worse yet, still planned for use in the upcoming May 15, 2007, primary election.

An expose of electronic touch-screen voting machines may be viewed at http://www.madcowprod.com/newvideo/index.html, for those with the internet capability.

My wife Kathy Parker and our friend Hilary Harding drove to Cleveland, Ohio, to work for the John Kerry Campaign and the voter protection project in the 2004 Presidential election.

This was the election in which Ohio's Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell, later an unsuccessful candidate for Ohio Governor, round-filed thousands - perhaps hundreds of thousands - of provisional votes.

Votes, as with those cast openly in violation of the Australian Secret Ballot and on touch-screen machine s machines leaving the same auditable trail as those cast into Blackwell's round file and later incinerated before the election.

Anonymous said...

ah, yes, a walk down memory lane. i remember 20 December, 2001. that was a sweet deal.