Saturday, November 27, 2004

Tax Simplification


Tools to solve election problems


Letter: Impeachable Offenses of President George W. Bush, et al

The following letter was sent to Senators Breaux and Landrieu on November 13, 2004 by a constituent:

Impeachable Offenses of President George W. Bush, et al

Sen. John Breaux
Sen. Mary Landrieu

November 13, 2004

By including in the Constitution the power to allow impeachment, the original authors intended to prevent the emergence of a tyrant or a despot in the form of a President who could destroy the "blessings of liberty to ourselves and to our prosperity."

President George W. Bush, along with advisors Dick Cheney & Donald Rumsfeld, all officials of the United States, have committed impeachable offenses of unprecedented danger to the Constitution and to the people of the United States.

Draft articles of Impeachment of President George W. Bush and other named officials of the United States charge the most serious crimes known to law and to history. Nothing in the experience of the impeachment power under the Constitution compares. The conduct charged threatens the Constitution, the United Nations, the rule of law, and the lives of unknown thousands, or millions, of people by their act and example.

The alleged impeachable acts of President George W. Bush include the following:

1. Ordering and directing "first strike" war of aggression against Afghanistan, causing thousands of deaths;

2. Removing the government of Afghanistan by force and installing a government of his choice;

3. Authorizing daily intrusions into Iraqi airspace and aerial attacks, including attacks on alleged defense installations in Iraq which have killed hundreds of people in time of peace;

4. Authorizing, ordering and condoning attacks in Afghanistan and Iraq on civilians, civilian facilities and locations where civilian casualties are unavoidable;

5. Threatening the use of nuclear weapons and ordering preparation for their use;

6. Threatening the independence and sovereignty of Iraq by belligerently proclaiming his personal intention to change its government by force;

7. Authorizing, ordering and condoning assassinations, summary executions, murder, kidnappings, secret and other illegal detentions of individuals, torture and physical and psychological coercion of prisoners;

8. Authorizing, ordering and condoning violations of rights of individuals under the First, Fourth, Fifth, Sixty and Eighth Amendments to the Constitution and of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and other international protections of human rights;

9. Authorizing, directing and condoning bribery and coercion of individuals and governments to obtain his war ends;

10. Making, ordering and condoning false statements and propaganda and concealing information vital to public discussion and informed judgment to create a climate of fear and hatred and destroy opposition to his war goals.

President George W. Bush is accused of Crimes Against Peace, War Crimes, and Crimes Against Humanity. No crimes are greater threats to the Constitution of the United States, the United Nations Charter, the rule of law, or the future of humanity.

(name withheld)
Destrehan , LA


Facts relating to Media Ownership


Facts relating to Media Ownership

66% of respondents said news organizations tended to be biased when covering political and social issues, while only 26% thought they dealt fairly with all sides, according to a survey in the summer of 2003
Mark Jurkowitz, "Public's Cynicism About Media Has Become a Pressing Concern", The Boston Globe, April 14, 2004

USA Today reports that only 36% of Americans believe what they read, see or hear in the media.
Marvin Kalb, "A Quest for More Sensation is Killing Journalism", Financial Times, April 1, 2004

The FCC claimed to base its ownership rule-change in summer 2003 on a study that examined the importance of local sources of news for the American public, citing a study that indicated that only 29% say their main source of news is newspapers. A new survey refutes this claim, saying the FCC figure was less than half of the actual total, 61%.
New Survey Finds Americans Rely on Newspapers Much More Than Other Media for Local News and Information, Consumer Federation of America, Jan., 2004.

In the first five months of 2003, when the FCC was debating the media cross-ownership rules that were overturned in June of that year, the commercial TV and cable networks showed "virtually no coverage" of the issue, with the big networks typically airing nothing until a week before the FCC decision.
Charles Layton, "News Blackout," American Journalism Review, Dec./Jan., 2004

In 1985, only 13% of survey respondents were willing to label news organizations as "immoral", but by 2003 this opinion was shared by 32% of those surveyed. Less than half of the respondents in 2003 would label the media as "moral".
Mark Jurkowitz, "Public's Cynicism About Media Has Become a Pression Concern", The Boston Globe, April 14, 2004.

70% of respondents to a summer, 2003 survey said that news outlets were often influenced by powerful people and organizations, while only 23% believed outlets to be free of such influences.
Mark Jurkowitz, "Public's Cynicism About Media Has Become a Pressing Concern", The Boston Globe, April 14, 2004

From 1998 to 2003, the number of hours each week devoted to children's programming in Los Angeles decreased by more than 50%, the largest decreases occuring on stations that are part of media duopolies.
Big Media, Little Kids: Media Consolidation and Children's Television Programming, Children Now 21 May, 2003

Two-thirds of people polled believe special interests or a self-serving corporate-political agenda infect news coverage.
Kirk LaPointe, "Losing Faith in the Media", Maclean's,September 29, 2003
Prior to relaxing media ownership rules in 2003, FCC officials met behind closed doors 71 times with the nation's major broadcasters, but had only five such meetings with Consumers Union and the Media Access Project, the two major consumer groups working on the issue. The meetings were not recorded.
Bob Williams "Behind Closed Doors: Top Broadcasters Met 71 Times With FCC Officials," The Center for Public Integrity 29 May, 2003

Over the past eight years, FCC Commissioners and staff have received almost $2.8 million in travel and entertainment expenses mainly from the telecommunications and broadcast industries that it is supposed to regulate. The number one travel destination is Las Vegas with 330 trips, followed by New Orleans with 173.
Bob Williams "On the Road Again--and Again: FCC officials rack up $2.8 million travel tab with industries they regulate," The Center for Public Integrity, 13 June, 2003

Since 1995, the number of companies owning commercial TV stations has declined by 40%
Facts On Media In America: Did You Know? Common Cause, 8 May, 2003
In 1995, Clear Channel accounted for 1.3 of the radio industry's revenues, but by 2001, deregulation allowed the company to grab more than 20% of revenues.
Tiny to Titan in Six years, Fortune, 3 March, 2003 p. 20

Heavy viewers of the Fox News Channel are nearly four times as likely to hold demonstrably untrue positions about the war in Iraq as media consumers who rely on National Public Radio or the Public Broadcasting System
study by the Program on International Policy Attitudes, which surveyed 3,334 Americans who receive their news from a single media source.

One fifth of all programing billed as educational for children had "little or no educational value," according to a 1999 U. of Pennsylvania study.
Meg James, "TV Networks Find Ways to Stretch Educational Rules," Los Angeles Times, 23 Feb. 2003

Between 1996 and 2000, the fifty largest media firms and the four media trade organizations spent $111 million on lobbying Congress.
Charles Lewis "Media Money," Columbia Journalism Review, Sept./Oct. 2000 pp. 20-27

32% of local reporters have acknowledged that they have softened the tone of a news story on behalf of the interests of their news organization.
Self Censorship: How Often and Why, Journalists Avoiding the News The Pew Research Center for the People and the Press, 30 April, 2000.

73% of journalists believe that buyouts of news organizations by big, diversified corporations has a negative effect on journalism.
Self Censorship: How Often and Why, Journalists Avoiding the News The Pew Research Center for the People and the Press, 30 April, 2000.

33 million Americans live in poverty, yet most people in this country think that the total is only 1 to 5 million.
Public Misconception About Poverty Continues, U.S. Newswire, 7 Jan., 2003

26% of local journalists say they have been told to ignore a story because it was dull or complicated, but suspect the real motivation to be potential harm to the company's financial interests.
Self Censorship: How Often and Why, Journalists Avoiding the News The Pew Research Center for the People and the Press, 30 April, 2000.

Cable TV rates have risen 40% since the passage of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, a law designed to increase competition in the cable industry.
Facts On Media In America: Did You Know? Common Cause, 8 May, 2003

Among people who have heard a lot about the FCC's cross-ownership rule change, 70% say the impact on the country will be negative, while only 6% say it will be positive. People who have heard a little about the change fall in at 57% negative, 8% positive.
Strong Opposition to Media Cross-Ownership Emerges The Pew Research Center for the People and the Press, 13 July, 2003.

86% of people in 2000 were at least "somewhat concerned" about media mergers, with 50% saying they were "highly concerned".
David Lieberman, "Media Merger Anxiety," USA Today, 9 Oct., 2000

By the end of summer 2003, over 2.3 million people contacted the FCC or Congress to voice their opposition to media concentration.
Estimated by FCC commissioner Jonathan Adelstein.


Hastert Launches a Partisan Policy

Hastert Launches a Partisan Policy

By Charles Babington
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, November 27, 2004; Page A01

In scuttling major intelligence legislation that he, the president and most lawmakers supported, Speaker J. Dennis Hastert last week enunciated a policy in which Congress will pass bills only if most House Republicans back them, regardless of how many Democrats favor them.

Hastert's position, which is drawing fire from Democrats and some outside groups, is the latest step in a decade-long process of limiting Democrats' influence and running the House virtually as a one-party institution. Republicans earlier barred House Democrats from helping to draft major bills such as the 2003 Medicare revision and this year's intelligence package. Hastert (R-Ill.) now says such bills will reach the House floor, after negotiations with the Senate, only if "the majority of the majority" supports them.

Senators from both parties, leaders of the Sept. 11 commission and others have sharply criticized the policy. The long-debated intelligence bill would now be law, they say, if Hastert and his lieutenants had been humble enough to let a high-profile measure pass with most votes coming from the minority party.

That is what Democrats did in 1993, when most House Democrats opposed the North American Free Trade Agreement. President Bill Clinton backed NAFTA, and leaders of the Democratic-controlled House allowed it to come to a vote. The trade pact passed because of heavy GOP support, with 102 Democrats voting for it and 156 voting against. Newt Gingrich of Georgia, the House GOP leader at the time, declared: "This is a vote for history, larger than politics . . . larger than personal ego."

Such bipartisan spirit in the Capitol now seems a faint echo. Citing the increased marginalization of Democrats as House bills are drafted and brought to the floor, Rep. David E. Price (D-N.C.) said, "It's a set of rules and practices which the Republicans have taken to new extremes."

Price, a former Duke University political scientist and the author of "The Congressional Experience," acknowledged that past congressional leaders, including Democrats, had sometimes scuttled measures opposed by most of their party's colleagues. But he said the practice should not apply to far-reaching, high-stakes legislation such as NAFTA and the intelligence package, which were backed by the White House and most of Congress's 535 members.

Other House Democrats agree. Republicans "like to talk about bipartisanship," said Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). "But when the opportunity came to pass a truly bipartisan bill -- one that would have passed both the House and Senate overwhelmingly and would have made the American people safer -- they failed to do it."

Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.), a White House aide when NAFTA passed, said this week, "What is more comforting to the terrorists around the world: the failure to pass the 9/11 legislation because we lacked 'a majority of the majority,' or putting aside partisan politics to enact tough new legislation with America's security foremost in mind?"

Some scholars say Hastert's decision should not come as a surprise. In a little-noticed speech in the Capitol a year ago, Hastert said one of his principles as speaker is "to please the majority of the majority."

"On occasion, a particular issue might excite a majority made up mostly of the minority," he continued. "Campaign finance is a particularly good example of this phenomenon. The job of speaker is not to expedite legislation that runs counter to the wishes of the majority of his majority."

Hastert put his principle into practice one week ago today. In a closed meeting in the Capitol basement, he urged his GOP colleagues to back the intelligence bill that had emerged from long House-Senate negotiations and had President Bush's support. When a surprising number refused, Hastert elected to keep it from reaching a vote, even though his aides said it could have passed with a minority of GOP members and strong support from the chamber's 206 Democrats.

Hastert spokesman John Feehery defended the decision in a recent interview. "He wants to pass bills with his majority," Feehery said. "That's the hallmark of this [Republican] majority. . . . If you pass major bills without the majority of the majority, then you tend not to be a long-term speaker. . . . I think he was prudent to listen to his members."

Some congressional scholars say Hastert is emphasizing one element of his job to the detriment of another. As speaker, said Norman Ornstein of the American Enterprise Institute, "you are the party leader, but you are ratified by the whole House. You are a constitutional officer," in line for the presidency after the vice president. At crucial times, he said, a speaker must put the House ahead of his party.

If Congress eventually enacted an intelligence bill similar to the one rejected last Saturday, Ornstein said, "then it would be unfair to rip Hastert to shreds. But if this either kills the bill or turns it from what would have been" a measure with considerable bipartisan support, he said, "then I think he should be condemned roundly."

Some groups representing families of victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks are already criticizing Hastert. "The failure in leadership of the speaker to bring the bill to the House floor for a vote is particularly troubling because we believe the bill would have passed by a wide majority in the House," the Family Steering Committee said.

In the new Congress that convenes in January, Hastert's strategy may prove sufficient for GOP victories on issues that sharply divide the two parties, such as tax cuts, several analysts said. But on trade issues and other matters that are more divisive within the parties -- and thus require bipartisan coalitions to pass -- he could face serious problems.

Hastert's "majority of the majority" maxim, Ornstein said, "is a disastrous recipe for tackling domestic issues such as entitlement programs, the deficit and things like that."


We Need To Read The Bills

We Need To Read The Bills

By Brian Baird

Saturday, November 27, 2004; Page A31

Last Saturday both the House and Senate voted to give the Appropriations Committee chairmen and their staff unrestricted access to the income tax returns of ordinary Americans.

This extraordinary opportunity for privacy invasion does not have the majority support of either chamber, and the embarrassed Republican leadership quickly vowed to remove it.

But how did this dangerous provision pass Congress in the first place? The answer is simple: Members didn't have enough time to read the bill.

Current rules require that bills be available to be read for at least three days before coming to a vote. Unfortunately, those rules are routinely overridden by the Republican majority, leaving only a few hours to read bills that are thousands of pages in length and spend hundreds of billions of the people's dollars.

There is now an inverse relationship between the importance of legislation and the amount of time members have to study it before voting.

In addition to this latest abuse of power, prominent examples from the 108th Congress include the Medicare prescription drug bill, the energy bill, the intelligence bill and the defense authorization bill. These important pieces of legislation total more than 2,900 pages of text and authorize more than $1 trillion of spending. Yet, collectively they were available to members for less than 48 hours total for reading.

If forced to tell the truth, most members of Congress would acknowledge that they did not fully or, in many cases, even partially read these bills before casting their votes.

It is true that summaries of the legislation were available and that many of the bills had been discussed for some time before the final drafts were brought to the floor. But the devil is often in the details, and without access to the full text members cannot know those details.

To prevent such abuses, House rules for the 109th Congress should insist that members have a minimum of three days to read legislation before voting and, further, that any waiver of this requirement require a two-thirds vote of the full House. Ideally, major pieces of legislation should be available for much more time so members have the opportunity not only to study the language personally but also to discuss the law with those who would be directly impacted. For example, the Medicare bill should have been discussed with senior groups, doctors, long-term care facilities and pharmacists before, not after, it became law.

The principle of three-day availability for legislation is not new. Indeed, it was championed quite recently by the very people who now so frequently and blithely violate it. The Republican Leadership Task Force on Deliberative Democracy stated the matter succinctly in 1993, "A bill that cannot survive a 3-day scrutiny of its provisions is a bill that should not be enacted. . . . The world's most powerful legislature cannot in good conscience deprive its membership of a brief study of a committee report prior to final action."

Republican Rep. David Dreier of California, who is now chairman of the House Rules Committee, echoed this sentiment at the time, and criticized procedures that, he said, "create a breeding ground for special interest groups to take control over the legislative process." As a remedy, Dreier proposed then what I am calling for now: requirement of a supermajority in Congress to waive points of order if the three-day principle is violated.

I believe this simple, fair and common-sense proposal is the first opportunity and the first test of the majority party, and our re-elected president, to provide the unifying leadership they have promised. How the president and Republican leaders respond will speak volumes about the sincerity of their rhetoric, their pride in the legislation they propose and their attitude toward democracy itself.

The outrageous provision to invade taxpayer privacy will not become law because of swift and strong condemnation by both parties. But, make no mistake, this is a cautionary tale, and we may not be so fortunate next time. The only way to guarantee that Congress knows what it is passing is to ensure that members have time to read and debate the bills on which they are being asked to vote.

The writer is a Democratic representative from Washington state.


Help the hungry

Help the hungry

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) -- Growing numbers of Americans were hungry this Thanksgiving, and the nation should do more to help them enjoy its bounty, the Democrats said Saturday in their weekly radio address.

"Unfortunately, the blessing of abundant food is not shared by all Americans," Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack said. "A recent report from our Department of Agriculture documented an increase in hunger in America, particularly among our children."

Vilsack, chairman of the Democratic Governors Association, said sharing is an American value rooted in the country's origins when American Indians helped the Pilgrims four centuries ago.

"On that day, sharing became an American value," Vilsack said. "Living up to that value requires us to do what we can, and what we must, to stop hunger in America."

Vilsack also asked that America's military, past and present, be remembered during the holiday season.

"As we think about all of our blessings, we should always stop and say thank you to all those who have served to make America strong and secure," he said. "Our prayers should include those who have lost their lives, the families left behind, and those who have been injured and the difficult times that lie ahead for them.

"With these thoughts and prayers, we should rededicate ourselves to ensuring that all who've served our country receive the health and income benefits they have earned by their service."

Vilsack, a two-term governor, has become more prominent within the Democratic Party in recent years. His name was mentioned as a running mate for the Democrats' 2004 presidential candidate, John Kerry, and as a candidate to head the Democratic National Committee. He said he wasn't interested in that job because of his responsibilities as governor.


Charges of irregularities abound. Did the ‘Help America Vote Act’ help?


Charges of irregularities abound. Did the ‘Help America Vote Act’ help?

November 27, 2004

The confidence of voters in the integrity of the nation's election system lies at the very heart of our republic. So it is encouraging to learn that the nonpartisan, highly professional Government Accountability Office has agreed to investigate the numerous reported glitches in the 2004 election. The investigation won't change the election results, but it can go a long way toward reassuring Americans that voting is a true exercise in democracy, not in futility.

The request to the federal GAO originally came in a Nov. 5 letter from Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-Manhattan), John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.) and Robert Wexler (D-Fla.). Wexler was born in Queens and now represents two centers of the electoral storm of 2000, Palm Beach County and Broward County. The movement later expanded to other members, including Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-Far Rockaway).

Both the original letter and one sent Nov. 8 detailed a few of the many anomalies in the election: An electronic system in Ohio gave President George W. Bush an extra 3,893 votes in a district where fewer than 700 voters actually cast ballots. Voters using electronic machines in Ohio, Florida and other states tried to vote for Sen. John Kerry, but the machines seemed to be recording their votes for Bush. Citizens in some parts of Ohio stood in line for endless hours.

GAO investigators will have no trouble finding allegations of irregularities, which are flying around the Internet at astonishing speed. But they may have some difficulty in separating fact from exaggeration and determining whether the Help America Vote Act of 2002, a result of the fiasco in Florida in 2000, actually helped America vote in 2004.

This page believes it's time for a constitutional amendment that both does away with the Electoral College and allows Congress to set national standards for federal elections. One useful standard would be a requirement that each election district have a minimum number of machines for each increment of registered voters, so that we won't ever again have to witness lines so long that they keep people from performing the most basic duty of democracy.

If this investigation lives up to the GAO's reputation for fairness, that can only help the process of assuring Americans that every vote really does count.


Stealing votes in Columbus

Stealing votes in Columbus

A statistical demonstration of how the elections was stolen in Columbus Ohio.
See the full article at:


Election officials gave wrong information about provisional ballots

Election officials gave wrong information about provisional ballots - revealed in affidavit.

by Neil F. Schoenwetter, Jr.
November 25, 2004

The following is the affidavit by:
Neil F. Schoenwetter, Jr., Summit County, Ohio:

As a "challenger" for the Democratic party, I was at a polling place that contained six precincts. I was there from 630 a.m. to 6: 30 p.m. At at least four of the six precincts, elections judges were telling potential voters that they could cast a provisional ballot at any table/precinct and it would be counted. I tried, unsuccessfully to point out the judges' error, including showing them three or four signs posted on the wall that said specifically that provisional ballots must be cast at the proper precinct. I observed at least two, maybe three, voters being given provisional ballots at/from the wrong precinct -- despite the fact that the correct precinct was only feet away. (We were able to convince these voters to go to the correct precinct (and stand in line again). Since there were six precincts in this one location, I am sure that many, many provisional ballots were given to voters in the wrong precinct. I witnessed one voter who decided to cast a provisional ballot in the incorrect precinct because she wanted to believe the incorrect poll worker instead of trusting me -- who she clearly believed to be partisan (especially since I was legally labeled as a "challenger" (and the fact that it was Republican "challengers" who had been accused in the media as trying to disenfranchise.)) Additionally, she would have had to travel a mile to the correct location.

At or about 11:30 a.m., two gentlemen who identified themselves as election supervisors from the board of elections stopped by. (I don't have there names with me at this moment, but I do have them recorded and will be able to provide them.) I informed them of the election judges' errors and asked them to re-instruct the poll workers. They assured me that ANY PROVISIONAL BALLOT THAT WAS CAST IN THE COUNTY WOULD BE COUNTED; THEY DID NOT HAVE TO BE CAST AT ANY PARTICULAR PRECINCT. I was forceful (pointing out the signs). They refused to budge, and demanded to see my credentials --- hoping, I think to eject me from the polling place. They left, saying that they had to visit (and, I assume, incorrectly instruct) 56(?) other precincts.

I am certain, that because of incorrect instructions given by poll workers, election judges, and supervisors, there are many provisional ballots cast by eligible voters, that will not be counted because they were "cast" at the incorrect location.


New Ohio voter transcripts feed floodtide of doubt about Republican election manipulation

New Ohio voter transcripts feed floodtide of doubt about Republican election manipulation

by Bob Fitrakis & Harvey Wasserman
November 25, 2004

COLUMBUS -- A floodtide of evidence of questionable practices in the 2004 election is mounting fast against Ohio Republican Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell and Republican Franklin County Board of Elections (BOE) Director Matt Damschroder. New transcriptions of sworn voter testimony, presented below for the first time, confirm growing suspicions of widespread use of rigged machines. Voters experienced hostility from poll workers, refusal of Republican election officials to follow the law, and discriminatory manipulation of voting machine placement, driving significant numbers of Democrats away from the polls.

The Columbus Dispatch, central Ohio's dominant conservative daily newspaper, which endorsed Bush for the presidency, says Damschroder “has faced criticism locally and across the country from groups that contend an already short supply of voting machines were shifted from Democratic precincts in Columbus to Republican areas outside the city.”

Damschroder is the former head of the Franklin County Republican Party. He claims that the 23.4% increase in voter turnout is a success story. He admitted to the Dispatch on Tuesday, November 23, that he had not asked the Franklin County Commissioners for any additional money this year for new machines, despite a 24% increase in voter registration. “If we had 5000 machines we would have put every one of them out there,” Damschroder says. But he also defends his refusal to ask for more in the run-up to the election.

In fact, according to the Dispatch, Damschroder's own records show large numbers of voting machines were not deployed on election day despite frantic requests from inner city poll workers. According to the Dispatch, Damschroder's office received 32 calls from precinct judges requesting more machines, not one of which was filled. Only nine of those calls came from suburban precincts, while 23 came from the Inner City.

Overall the board logged 101 calls for voting machine problems this year. In 2000 the number was just 46.

Through it all, Damschroder insisted in a Dispatch interview that, “From our perspective, there are (thousands of) stories of people who stood in line and voted.”

But many voters had very different views. The Free Press offers the following sworn statements from public hearings held at the Franklin County Courthouse November 15:

Janine Smith-White, Youngstown:
“I went to my polling place approximately about 9:45 to vote. I waited, I would say, 30 minutes in a line. When I did get to my machine, I pushed John Kerry and my vote immediately jumped up to George Bush. After I started screaming about them cheating again, the aide hurried up and came over and said, oh, that's been happening a lot. Just go ahead and push John Kerry again and I'm saying, you say that's been happening a lot and it hasn't been corrected? Yes, but we can't do anything about it. So I did push John Kerry again and the vote did stay on John Kerry. Even though I completed my voting and after I went over my ballot and I pushed the vote button, I'm still not sure that I voted for John Kerry because, I mean, did my first vote that went to George Bush count or did John Kerry count.”

Steven Heyman, Pickerington:
“I noticed that one of the big problems was on Molar Road there are two different buildings that you can vote in, 1201 and 1560 Southmore Middle and Bowler School. People were sometimes confused as to which precinct they were supposed to vote in. I had a listing of all the voters for 51 A and if I could catch them before they went in and [stand] in line for two or three hours, and they were really upset if they were in the wrong precinct and had to go to the other one. We probably lost at least 75 voters during the 12 and a half hours I was there.”

Tom Pinnetello:
“I need to tell you what happened on my first experience voting in Ohio. On November 2nd, I got to my polling station early, so I got -- I wanted to get there early so I got in the car and I headed over to nearby Livingston School and I signed in and waited about 45 minutes in a line that looked to have about 60 people waiting to vote. Once in the library, we noticed that there were only three voting machines. Once it was my turn, I got inside and looked over the voting machine, and this is one of the electronic voting machines. It consisted of an array of blinking lights urging you to vote for something, and once you did vote for something, the blinking light would go out and a steady red light would appear next to your selection. On the upper left-hand part was the selection for president. I wanted to do this, I wanted to get this out of the way, that's what I came here, to vote, that was my number one priority. So I pushed the button for John Kerry for president of the United States. And the light -- the flashing light went out and the light next to John Kerry's name came on. I then mulled over the rest of the propositions and local races that were taking place, some of which I knew about, some of which I didn't. It took the better part of five minutes or so to get through them all. Some of the political players locally I don't know about so I just left them blank because I think you should be making an informed decision and not just pressing buttons. Once I was finished, I got down to the lower right-hand corner and the big green vote button was beckoning. I almost pushed it and I said, no, wait a minute, I want to -- I want to proofread what I just did. I want to look over my selections. I looked up into the upper left-hand corner and the area for president of the United States was now flashing again. My vote for John Kerry had been neutralized. It had been reset. Now, you can call this a glitch, you can call this a design flaw, you can call it a bologna sandwich if you want, but whatever you call it, that machine nearly threw out and neutralized my vote for John Kerry.”

Jen Miller:
“I went ahead and walked in because the lines at that point were four hours long. Again, this used to be my polling location, after the last presidential location it was my polling location and at that time there were two precincts and there were four booths per precinct. This year the first thing I noted that there were three and not one of the precincts had a booth down, so they were operating on two, just 50 percent the amount that they had the election before. The next thing I noted that there were more people in line, probably, at that point than I had probably had ever voted in that precinct. I had voted there for several times. It was just absolute chaos. People were wandering this way and that. The first thing someone said to me is, I don't think they want me here. This is confusing. I voted here for years and I'm leaving. And I asked him to stay, but he wouldn't.. . . So I would say at least a third of the people that were in line were elderly or had mobility challenges. A lot of those people would be standing in line for one to three hours to then come across some steep steps that would be even challenges for the average able-bodied person. One side of the steps could -- one side of the steps didn't even have a rail to hang onto and there was no one to assist people down, okay.”

Cathy Varian:
“I was a poll worker at 39B at Creeder Wood School. Quickly, the polls did not open at 7:00. They didn't open until 7:20. We did not sign our tapes like we were supposed to at the beginning. We signed everything at the end and it was very chaotic. The presiding judge was very inexperienced and lacked training. He was very judgmental against a lot of people that came into our poll, one especially that I want to speak out for today. . . . during the day he turned away several people that were in our precinct from work who said they had signed up but they weren't on our books. . . .I wanted to assist him going downtown because I was afraid he was going to open up the provisional ballots and do something with them because I fought so hard and so long all day trying to protect them. And it was a horrible, horrible experience.. . . The police were involved. The police did escort him down to the Board of Elections, but a Democratic representative could not go with the presiding Republican judge in a Democratic precinct, period. . . .Our presiding judge was Republican in a Democratic precinct and they would not let me, the Democratic poll worker accompany him downtown, . . .Only one person went with the ballots and the tapes and I begged and pleaded and called everybody I could. . . .We did not sign the tapes until the end of the evenings. Signs on how to use the machines weren't posted and people were turned away.”

Mark Dunbar, Columbus:
“I got off work about 9:30 that morning. I went down and dropped off some ballots down at the Board of Elections. Then I went to my home near Eastgate Elementary. I arrived there at 10:00. I went in. There was no signs as to how to use the voting machines. I heard one of the poll workers tell a guy in one of the booths that he had one minute because he had been in there four minutes. So they were actually rushing people in and out of the polls. The line was about three hours when I got there. There was only three voting booths and I remembered the last time I vote there, we had at least four to five voting booths, so we were down to three. They did allow the people to sit in chairs and move the chairs up and down the line. They did have an elderly woman who was in a wheelchair just sitting there for a couple hours and she was still sitting there when I left. So she didn't get to vote the kind of way she should have. She should have been taken to the front but I didn't see any accessible voting booths and I saw -- I counted at least 27 to 30 people who left while I was there, but I didn't leave. I had to vote.”

John Perry, Upper Arlington:
“For the record, I did observe, in my voting place, that there was a sticker over the ballot and spot apparently originally intended for Ralph Nader. However, in looking at the machine times from other precincts, I noticed that there were numerous machine votes, not write in votes but machine votes for Nader in other precincts. So apparently if you pushed the button for the Nader spot, it was recorded as a vote for Nader and printed out as such on the tape.”

Monica Justo, Columbus:
“I ran 6 wards for the Kerry campaign in the Clintonville corridor. At 8:00 -- my precinct location was 19H -- it is run out of the Southwick Funeral Home by Bill Good. Bill Good is a Republican. At 8:00 in the morning, he went out to the people in line. There was already over an hour wait at this time and informed them that they all needed to get out of line and move their cars because he had a funeral coming. . . . According to the Franklin County Board of Elections, it was their fault for not verifying that business was not being held on that day, that they needed to inform them of that.”

Michael Greenman, Westerville:
“I live in Westerville, voted in precinct 3B. I voted there in the elections for the last five years. When I went to the precinct this last election, I came in and looked at the list and my name was not on the list. It was a computerized list. My wife's name was on the list. I asked them how this could be. They had no explanation. They were very cooperative, gave me a provisional ballot. I was in and out right quick like. They were very efficient, it was a good precinct. But I cannot imagine how many could have been removed from the list without some active action. I'm a political activist. I'm the head of a political group called Citizens for Democracy and the corporate rule but I don't know why my name was not on the list.
MS. TRUITT: [Hearing Examiner] Had you voted within the last five years?
MR. GREENMAN: Every year, every time for the last five years at that precinct.”

Tom Kessel, Bexley:
“. . .in precincts 4 A and 4 C in Bexley. What it was is Republican challengers got there about 7:30 in the morning. Precinct 4 C was going fine, so I watched her. On three different occasions, I caught her sitting at the table with the poll workers. Each time I had to go up there and say, excuse me, you're not allowed here, you know, you're not allowed to be sitting there. She was not challenging it. She was talking and kibitzing and working with the poll workers. I don't know. One time I went outside, I came back in, she was actively going over some sort of computerized list she had with the precinct judge in precinct 4A in Bexley. One of the three machines went down and they were not able to get the tape out of it and the cartridge at the end of the day. Later on, when I got the poll -- data from Franklin County poll workers, that machine which had the lowest numbers of votes had the highest percentage of Bush votes. The other two machines were coming back 30 percent for Bush. This one came back 40 percent for Bush. I don't know. Also, they sealed up their provisional ballots before I had a chance to count them and let them know how much provisional ballots were there. Also, she signed off as an official witness at the end of the day, even though she was a Republican worker. I was met with open hostility from the workers in precinct 4 A in Bexley. They let me know in no uncertain terms that they were Bush people.”

Dr. Bob Fitrakis, JD, moderated the public hearings on voter suppression held in Columbus November 13 and 15. He is publisher of, of which Harvey Wasserman is senior editor.


Saudis, Enron money helped pay for US rigged election

Saudis, Enron money helped pay for US rigged election

By Wayne Madsen
Online Journal Contributing Writer

November 25, 2004—According to informed sources in Washington and Houston, the Bush campaign spent some $29 million to pay polling place operatives around the country to rig the election for Bush. The operatives were posing as Homeland Security and FBI agents but were actually technicians familiar with Diebold, Sequoia, ES&S, Triad, Unilect, and Danaher Controls voting machines. These technicians reportedly hacked the systems to skew the results in favor of Bush.

The leak about the money and the rigged election apparently came from technicians who were promised to be paid a certain amount for their work but the Bush campaign interlocutors reneged and some of the technicians are revealing the nature of the vote rigging program.

There have been media reports from around the country concerning the locking down of precincts while votes were being tallied. In one unprecedented action in Warren County, Ohio, election officials locked down the facility where votes were being counted. The officials said this was in response to a Level 10 high-threat terrorist warning being issued by the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI for Warren County. George Bush won 72 percent of the vote in Warren County, much larger than his percentage of victory statewide.

The money to rig the election in favor of Bush reportedly came from an entity called Five Star Trust, largely based in Houston but a worldwide entity that is directly tied to the Saudi Royal Family. Five Star Trust was termed "a well-protected vehicle" that has been used to support both Bush and Osama bin Laden in the US and around the world.

Other money used to fund the election rigging was from siphoned Enron money stored away in accounts in the Cook Islands, which was once the base of one of the more questionable and Saudi-linked BCCI subsidiaries. Cook Islands banks also handled some of the weapons smuggling financing of the Iran-Contra scandal. A former Justice Department attorney who helped prosecute the BCCI case said the use of the Cook Islands by the Bush reelection team indicates they wanted the bank arrangements to be a "quick folding tent" operation that would cease to exist when the election was over. He said the Cook Islands was notorious for not requiring any documentation for such operations.

In fact, the Cook Islands has been a favorite location for various covert intelligence activities. This most recent use of the islands is a continuation of a scandal discovered in New Zealand in the early '90s called the "Winebox Affair." In 1992, a computer dealer named Paul White bought some secondhand computers and floppy disks from the Citibank office in Auckland, New Zealand, that had earlier sold them to a scrap dealer.

White later discovered the floppies (and 10 paper files) detailed a scheme to use the European Pacific Bank in the Cook Islands to bilk foreign governments and banks for a phony 15 percent tax bill assessed on various transactions by the Cook Islands government (at the time run by Tom Davis, a former US Army and NASA research scientist who was allegedly on the payroll of the CIA). European Pacific reaped millions of illegal dollars from the New Zealand Treasury and a number of Japanese banks, including Mitsubishi Bank. Paul White later died in a suspicious auto accident.

As detailed in the book "The Paradise Conspiracy" by New Zealand journalist Ian Wishart, the Cook Islands scheme also involved several CIA operatives, including Lawrence John Fahey, who had an interest in InterAir of Nevada, one of the airlines used by Ollie North to funnel arms to Iran. It also involved William Raupe, a CIA officer stationed under cover as a USAID employee at the US embassy in Suva. Raupe had once worked for Air America in South East Asia. Another CIA agent active in the Cooks was Robert C. Allen, known to New Zealand authorities as a US agent who was formerly with the CIA proprietary firm Bishop, Baldwin, Dillingham, Wong Ltd. In addition, along with the late former Treasury Secretary William Simon, Gerald Parsky was also involved in the European Pacific Bank's Cook Islands operations. Parsky is George W. Bush's chief fundraiser and adviser in California (he led Bush's 2000 California campaign) and supported Simon's son's unsuccessful bid for the governorship of California against Gray Davis and then again in the recall of Davis. Enron was involved early on with Arnold Schwarzenegger at a meeting in 2001 at the Beverly Hills Hotel at the same time Enron was bilking California utility customers with increases as high as 1000 percent This scheme eventually led to Davis's recall and his replacement by Schwarzenegger.

The Cook Islands-Citibank-European Pacific fraud appeared to have been cooked up to take the place of other "outed" CIA banking activities, including Nugan Hand Bank in Australia. European Pacific also involved assets of BCCI, in particular the Commercial Bank of Commerce in Rarotonga, Cook Islands, a BCCI subsidiary. MIchael Hand, a former Green Beret who reportedly served with Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage in Laos (and whose partner, Frank Nugan, was found shot to death in 1980 in Australia) later turned up associated with Euromac (European Manufacturing Center) Ltd., a British company that tried to sell nuclear trigger krytrons to Saddam Hussein before the first Gulf War. Nugan Hand's chief counsel, William Colby, a former CIA Director, was found floating in the Chesapeake in 1996.

The sale of nuclear material to Iraq was funded through Saudi operations in Houston, including those associated with George H. W. Bush, George W. Bush, James R. Bath, and Saudis Abdullah Taha Baksh, and Kamal Adham, as well as Lebanese businessman Ghaith Pharaon (who was also involved in the collapse of Miami's CenTrust S&L, a bank that had ties to Jeb Bush). This gang, along with Salem Bin Laden, the older brother of Osama, funneled over $1 million into failed Bush ventures, including Arbusto, Spectrum 7, and Harken Energy. Some of the Saudi money also financed Enron Oil and Gas Resources (later EOG Resources) in the Belspec Fusselman Field in Midland, Texas, a deal in which George W. Bush had a financial stake. In fact, Saudi planes in the 1980s landed in Houston with mountains of cash used to buy nuclear material for Saddam to possibly use against the Iranians. The money was laundered through Houston's Main Bank, a bank close to the Bush family. Skyway Aircraft of Houston, owned by Bath, was invested in by Abu Dhabi's ruler (the main owner of BCCI) and whose parent company in the Cayman Islands was used by Ollie North to collect foreign money for his Iran-contra enterprise.

Another person involved in the Cook Islands bank defrauding scheme was a Lebanese-American named Samir Bashout (alias Dr. Khalaf B. Bashout) who set up Midland International Bank and Trust Ltd in the Cook Islands with no real capital. Bashout's Midland had nothing to do with Midland Bank of the UK but may have been named for Midland, Texas, of George W. Bush fame. Bashout was later convicted of beating his wife in Rancho Park, Calif., amid a nasty divorce. She claimed he secreted away much of his money. Bashout's Metro Bank (Philippines) account in Los Angeles was found to contain only $10,000, not the $10 million he claimed to Cook Islands' authorities. US Treasury agent John Shockey alerted the Cook Islands internal auditor to Bashout's repeated attempts to bounce a check for $5 million. In January 2002, Hamilton Bank failed after it lost $500 million due to loan scandals and money laundering charges. The recipient of a $5.5 million loan was Metro Bank International, headquartered in Vanuatu, an offshore banking location similar to the Cook Islands. Metro Bank was thought to contain some of the billions of dollars laundered by the CIA and the Cook Islands International Trust Corp. on behalf of Ferdinand Marcos. Marcos's CIA intermediaries in the Cooks were Eldon William Morris, James Centers, and Dante Dominigo Agdeppa. Morris was under investigation by the Queensland Special Branch and the FBI in Hawaii and California.

Bashout was also involved in the defunct World Arabic Television News (WATN), an Arabic television network that attracted the attention of the Houston-based Arab Times newspaper as not delivering on its promises and defrauding investors.

Wayne Madsen is a Washington, DC-based investigative reporter. He was also the Operations Officer at Naval Facility Coos Head, Oregon from 1980 to 1982 and assisted the FBI and NIS in the investigation as a temporary special agent.


Citizens take action to clean up elections

Citizens take action to clean up elections:

Volusia County, Florida

Volusia County resident Susan Pynchon, with the help of Volusia County attorney Daniel R. Vaughen, P.A., filed a lawsuit on Tuesday, Nov. 23, seeking to set aside the Nov. 2, 2004 Volusia County election due to irregularities.

Summary of irregularities in Volusia

a. The Supervisor of Elections has unreasonably delayed providing information.

b. The certification was based on inadequate and incomplete information regarding the election results.

6. Some or all of the information requested on Nov. 2, 2004 by Black Box Voting is still missing from 59 of the 179 voting precincts, including portions of or all of the voting machine tapes for those 59 precincts, which are a vital part of official paper record of the election results from those precincts.

7. Complete information on problems with the voting machines prior to and during the election has not been provided.

8. Complete information relating to memory card failures during the election has not yet been provided.

9. Only a partial list of the transmission logs from the Accu-Vote optical scan server has been provided. Despite repeated requests, the Elections office has refused to provide to the Volusia County Democratic party the official election results, now stating that those results will not be available until December 1, 2004.

10. The Elections office has provided incomplete data regarding Early Voting and Absentee ballots. The Supervisor of Elections, for example, reported that the total number of absentee ballots and Early voting ballots, combined equaled 89,999 votes, yet the published figures for those totals is 84,100 votes, leaving over 5,800 votes unaccounted for.

11. In addition to the pattern of delay in providing the requested information, the true election results are in doubt because of numerous violations of election law procedure and unanswered questions concerning the results.

12. The polls were opened early and closed late during Early Voting.

13. Many public records, including one signed results tape from a voting machine were found in the trash. Many of the requested records not furnished by the Elections office have been found in the trash. Results from the tapes found in the trash do not match the results of the copies of tapes furnished.

14. An email from Mark Earley, of Diebold Elections Systems, Inc., to the Elections office was provided which asked the recipient for an explanation of why Volusia County had more memory card failures than all of their other Florida customers combined, and then asked why the 17 memory card failures which the Elections office reported on November 3, increased to 25 before November 12, 2004.

15. The reported memory card failures were significant and troubling and included reporting zero votes after one week of voting, requesting permission to upload votes before the voting began, and messaging whether the card should be reformatted.

16. According to a statement by the Supervisor of Elections on November 17, 2004, the GEMS computer is not networked, and is "stand alone." The furnished computer logs show evidence of at least two attempts to remotely access the GEMS central tabulator, which is claimed to be secure. A computer screen shot printout on November 17, 2004 (found in the trash) shows that the GEMS computer at that time had two networked hard drives.

Full text of lawsuit available at:





By Alan Waldman

Despite mainstream media attempts to kill the story, talk radio and the Internet are abuzz with suggestions that John Kerry was elected president on Nov. 2 -- but Republican election officials made it difficult for millions of Democrats to vote while employees of four secretive, GOP-bankrolled corporations rigged electronic voting machines and then hacked central tabulating computers to steal the election for George W. Bush.

The Bush administration's "fix" of the 2000 election debacle (the Help America Vote Act) made crooked elections considerably easier, by foisting paperless electronic voting on states before the bugs had been worked out or meaningful safeguards could be installed.

Crying foul this time around isn't just the province of whiny Democrats. Consider that The Wall Street Journal recently revealed that "Verified Voting, a group formed by a Stanford University professor to assess electronic voting, has collected 31,000 reports of election fraud and other problems."

University of Pennsylvania researcher Dr. Steven Freeman, in his November
2004 paper "The Unexplained Exit Poll Discrepancy," says that the odds that the discrepancies between predicted [exit poll] results and actual vote counts in Ohio, Florida and Pennsylvania could have been due to chance or random error are 250 million to 1. "Systematic fraud or mistabulation is a premature conclusion," writes Freeman, "but the election's unexplained exit poll discrepancies make it an unavoidable hypothesis, one that is the responsibility of the media, academia, polling agencies, and the public to investigate." Unlike Europe, where citizens count the ballots, in the United States employees of a highly secretive Republican-leaning company, ES&S, managed every aspect of the 2004 election. That included everything from registering voters, printing ballots and programming voting machines to tabulating votes (often with armed guards keeping the media and members of the public who wished to witness the count at bay) and reporting the results, for 60 million voters in 47 states, according to Christopher Bollyn, writing in American Free Press. Most other votes were counted by three other firms that are snugly in bed with the GOP.

This election is not the first suspicious venture into electronic voting. In Georgia, in November 2002, Democratic Gov. Roy Barnes led by 11 percent and Democratic Sen. Max Cleland was in front by 5 percent just before the election -- the first ever conducted entirely on touch-screen electronic machines, and counted entirely by company employees, rather than public officials -- but mysterious election-day swings of 16 percent and 12 percent defeated both of these popular incumbents. In Minnesota, Democrat Walter Mondale (replacing beloved Sen. Paul Wellstone, who died in a plane crash), lost in an amazing last-moment 11 percent vote swing recorded on electronic machines. Then, in 2003, what's known as "black box voting" helped Arnold Schwarzenegger -- who had deeply offended female, Latino and Jewish voters -- defeat a popular Latino Democrat who substantially led in polls a week before the election.

A RAT IS SMELLED Realizing that the 2004 election results are suspect, many prominent people and groups have begun to demand action. Recently, six important Congressmen, including three on the House Judiciary Committee, asked the U.S. Comptroller General to investigate the efficacy of new electronic voting devices.

Black Box Voting -- the nonprofit group which spearheaded much of the pre-election testing (and subsequent criticism) of electronic machines that found them hackable in 90 seconds -- is filing the largest Freedom of Information Act inquiry in U.S. history. The organization's Bev Harris claims, "Fraud took place in the 2004 election through electronic voting machines."

Florida Democratic congressional candidate Jeff Fisher charged that he has and will show the FBI evidence that Florida results were hacked; he also claims to have knowledge of who hacked it -- in 2004 and in the
2002 Democratic primary (so Jeb Bush would not have to run against the popular Janet Reno). Fisher also believes that most Democratic candidates nationwide were harmed by GOP hacking and other dirty tactics -- particularly in swing states.

The Green and Libertarian Parties, as well as Ralph Nader, are demanding an Ohio recount, because of voting fraud, suppression and disenfranchisement. Recounts are also being sought in New Hampshire, Nevada and Washington.

Although the Internet is full of stories of election fraud, and major media in England, Canada and elsewhere have investigated the story, you'll find almost nothing in the major U.S. media. "I have been told by sources that are fairly high up in the media -- particularly TV -- that there is now a lockdown on this story," says Harris. "It's officially 'Let's move on' time."

On Nov. 6, Project Censored Award-winning author Thom Hartmann said, "So far, the only national 'mainstream' media outlet to come close to this story was Keith Olbermann, when he noted that it was curious that all the voting machine irregularities so far uncovered seemed to favor Bush. In the meantime, the Washington Post and other media are now going through single-bullet-theory-like contortions to explain how the exit polls had failed."

VOTE STEALING 101 Votes collected by electronic machines (and by optical scan equipment that reads traditional paper ballots) are sent via modem to a central tabulating computer, which counts the votes on Windows software. Therefore, anyone who knows how to operate an Excel spreadsheet and who is given access to the central tabulation machine can, in theory, change election totals.

On a CNBC cable TV program, Black Box Voting exec Harris showed guest host Howard Dean how to alter vote totals within 90 seconds, by entering a two-digit code in a hidden program on Diebold's election software. Harris declared, "This is not a 'bug' or accidental oversight; it is there on purpose."

A quartet of companies control the U.S. vote count. Diebold, ES&S, Sequoia and SAIC are all hard-wired into the Bush campaign and power structure. Diebold chief Walden O'Dell is a top Bush fund-raiser. According to "online anarchist community", "At Diebold, the election division is run by Bob Urosevich. Bob's brother, Todd, is a top executive at 'rival' ES&S. The brothers were originally staked by Howard Ahmanson, a member of the Council For National Policy, a right-wing steering group stacked with Bush true believers. Ahmanson is also one of the bagmen behind the extremist Christian Reconstruction Movement, which advocates the theocratic takeover of American democracy." Sequoia is owned by a partner member of the Carlyle Group, which is believed to have dictated foreign policy in both Bush administrations and has employed former President Bush for quite a while.

All early Tuesday indicators predicted a Kerry landslide. Zogby International (which predicted the 2000 outcome more accurately than any national pollster) did exit polling which predicted a 100-electoral vote triumph for Kerry. He saw Kerry winning crucial Ohio by 4 percent.

Princeton professor Sam Wang, whose meta-analysis had shown the election to be close in the week before the election, began coming up with dramatic numbers for Kerry in the day before and day of the election. At noon EST on Monday, Nov. 1, he predicted a Kerry win by a 108-vote margin.

In the Iowa Electronic Markets, where "investors" put their money where their mouths are and wager real moolah on election outcome "contracts," Bush led consistently for months before the election -- often by as much as
60 percent to 39 percent. But at 7 p.m. CST on Nov. 2, 76.6 percent of the last hour's traders had gone to Kerry, with only 20.1 percent plunking their bucks down on Bush. They knew something.

As the first election returns came in, broadcasters were shocked to see that seemingly safe Bush states like Virginia, Kentucky and North Carolina were being judged as "too close to call." At 7:28 EST, networks broadcast that Ohio and Florida favored Kerry by 51 percent to 49 percent.

In his research paper, Steven Freeman reports that exit polls showed Kerry had been elected. He was leading in nearly every battleground state, in many cases by sizable margins. But later, in 10 of 11 battleground states, the tallied margins differed from the predicted margins -- and in every one the shift favored Bush.

In 10 states where there were verifiable paper trails -- or no electronic machines -- the final results hardly differed from the initial exit polls. In non-paper-trail states, however, there were significant differences. Florida saw a shift from Kerry up by 1 percent in the exit polls to Bush up by 5 percent at close of voting. In Ohio, Kerry went from up 3 percent to down 3 percent. Exit polls also had Kerry winning the national popular vote by 3 percent.

In close Senate races, changes between the exit poll results and the final tallies cost Democrats anticipated seats in Kentucky (a 13 percent swing to the GOP), Alaska, North Carolina, Florida, Oklahoma, South Dakota and possibly Pennsylvania -- as well as enough House seats to retake control of the chamber.

Center for Research on Globalization's Michael Keefer states, "The National Election Pool's own data -- as transmitted by CNN on the evening of November 2 and the morning of November 3 -- suggest very strongly that the results of the exit polls were themselves fiddled late on November 2 in order to make their numbers conform with the tabulated vote tallies."

How do we know the fix was in? Keefer says the total number of respondents at 9 p.m. was well over 13,000 and at 1:36 a.m. it had risen less than 3 percent -- to 13,531 total respondents. Given the small increase in respondents, this 5 percent swing to Bush is mathematically impossible. In Florida, at 8:40 p.m., exit polls showed a near dead heat but the final exit poll update at 1:01 a.m. gave Bush a 4 percent lead. This swing was mathematically impossible, because there were only 16 more respondents in the final tally than in the earlier one.

FLORIDA FIASCO II Kathy Dopp's eye-opening examination of Florida's county-by-county record of votes cast and people registered by party affiliation ( suggests systematic and widespread election fraud in 47 of the state's 67 counties. This did not occur so much in the touch-screen counties, where public scrutiny would naturally be focused, but in counties where optically screened paper ballots were fed into a central tabulator PC, which is highly vulnerable to hacking. In these optical-scan counties, had GOP registrants voted Republican, Democratic registrants gone for Kerry and everyone registered showed up to vote, Bush would have received 1,337,242 votes. Instead, his reported vote total there was 1,950,213! That discrepancy (612,971) is nearly double Bush's winning margin in the state (380,952).

Colin Shea of Zogby International analyzed and double-checked Dopp's figures and confirmed that optical-scan counties gave Bush 16 percent more votes than he should have gotten. "This 16 percent would not be strange if it were spread across counties more or less evenly," Shea explains, but it is not. In 11 different counties, the "actual" Bush tallies were
50-100 percent higher than expected. In one county, where 88 percent of voters are registered Democrats, Bush got nearly two-thirds of the vote -- three times more than predicted by his statistical model.

In 47 Florida counties, the number of presidential votes exceeded the number of registered voters. Palm Beach County recorded 90,774 more votes than voters and Miami-Dade had 51,979 more, while relatively honest Orange County had only 1,648 more votes than voters. Overall, Florida reported
237,522 more presidential votes (7.59 million) than citizens who turned out to cast ballots (7.35 million).

There were thousands of complaints about Florida voting. Broward County electronic voting machines counted up to 32,500 and then started counting backward. This glitch, which existed in the 2002 election but was never fixed, overturned the exit-poll-predicted results of a gambling referendum. In several Florida counties, early-morning voters reported ballot boxes that already had an unusually large quantity of ballots in them. In Florida and five other states, according to Canada's Globe and Mail, "the wrong candidate appeared on their touch-screen machine's checkout screen" after the person had voted.

Republicans have argued that the Florida counties with majority Democratic registration that voted overwhelmingly for Bush were all conservative "Dixiecrat" bastions in northern Florida, and that all the reported totals were accurate. But Olbermann demonstrated that many of these crossover states voted Republican for the first time. He poked another hole in the Dixiecrat theory when he noted that in Democratic counties where Bush scored big, people also supported highly Democratic measures -- such as raising the state minimum wage $1 above the federal level.

Moreover, 18 switchover counties were not in the Panhandle or near the Georgia border, but were scattered throughout the state. For instance, Hardee County (between Bradenton and Sebring) registered 63.8 percent Democratic but officially gave Bush 135 percent more votes than Kerry.

WIDESPREAD PROBLEMS Voters Unite! detailed 303 specific election problems, including 84 complaints of machine malfunctions in 22 states, 24 cases of registration fraud in 14 states, 20 abusive voter challenge situations in 10 states, U.S. voters in 18 states and Israel experiencing absentee ballot difficulties, 10 states with provisional ballot woes, 22 cases of malfeasance in 13 states, 10 charges of voter intimidation in seven states, seven states where votes were suppressed, seven states witnessing outbreaks of animosity at the polls, six states suffering from ballot printing errors and seven instances in four states where votes were changed on-screen. In addition, the Voters Unite! website cites four states with early voting troubles, three states undergoing ballot programming errors, three states demonstrating ballot secrecy violations, bogus ballot fraud in New Mexico and double-voting for Bush in Texas.

Kerry's victory was predicted by previously extremely accurate Harris and Zogby exit polls, by the formerly infallible 50 percent rule (an incumbent with less than 50 percent in the exit polls always loses; Bush had 47 percent -- requiring him to capture an improbable 80 percent of the undecideds to win) and by the Incumbent Rule (undecideds break for the challenger, as exit polls showed they did by a large margin this time).

Nor is it credible that the surge in new young voters (who were witnessed standing in lines for hours, on campuses nationwide) miraculously didn't appear in the final totals; that Kerry did worse than Gore against an opponent who lost support; and that exit polls were highly accurate wherever there was a paper trail and grossly underestimated Bush's appeal wherever there was no such guarantee of accurate recounts. Statisticians point out that Bush beat 99 to 1 mathematical odds in winning the election.

Election results are not final until electors vote on Dec. 12. There is still time to find the truth.

Alan Waldman is an award-winning journalist who lives in Los Angeles. He voted for John Kerry and Barbara Boxer.

Originally Published 11/18/04


Kerry clutches to hopes of recount victory

North County News

Kerry clutches to hopes of recount victory
White House calls on nation to 'come together'

by Adam Stone

A White House spokeswoman told North County News last Friday that citizens should embrace the Election Day results and dismiss recount efforts in Ohio that could hand Democratic Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts the presidency.

"The election has ended, and now is the time for the country to come together to address the challenges our nation faces," the spokeswoman, Suzy DeFrancis, remarked.

Bush won Ohio by a vote of 2,796,147 to John Kerry's 2,659,664, according to the official tally.

In a series of e-mail interviews with North County News two weeks ago, Kerry spokesman David Wade spoke about recount efforts led by a team of 17,000 lawyers that could trigger the removal of President George W. Bush from office.

Since then, under mounting pressure from alternative media outlets as well as progressive voices outside the Democratic Party, Kerry issued a statement to his supporters that left open the possibility that he could obtain--through a recount--the requisite electoral votes to seize the White House.

"Regardless of the outcome of this election, once all the votes are counted--and they will be counted--we will continue to challenge this administration," Kerry said through a web-exclusive statement and video Friday, which, curiously, was not distributed to the press.

The usage of the word 'regardless' in the carefully parsed statement was the first indication Kerry has offered that, in his mind, the official election results might be inaccurate enough to tilt the election in his favor.

Wade was e-mailed the remarks from the White House spokeswoman.

"Any president of the United States should make it a priority to count every vote in our country because every citizen's full faith in the democratic process is critical," Wade responded yesterday (Tuesday). "That's why John Kerry and John Edwards built a voter protection team of lawyers around the country, lawyers who are today monitoring recounts and the counting of provisional ballots including Ohio and New Mexico. Every vote will be counted, and we Democrats aren't afraid to fight to protect voters' rights."

A Kerry victory in Ohio would give the senator enough electoral votes to seize the White House.

In another signal the Kerry/Edwards team is increasing its involvement in the recount effort, a note was posted on the campaign website yesterday that called on supporters to contribute to the Kerry-Edwards 2004 General Election Legal and Accounting Compliance Fund.

"The Federal Election Commission has just granted our request to raise funds now to cover recount expenses," the website states. "Your contribution to Kerry-Edwards 2004 GELAC will provide the resources to make sure we are prepared to win the post election day battles."

Other than alleged voting irregularities, some have called into question the reversal of the exit polls (surveys of individuals who have just cast ballots), which early on predicted a Kerry victory.

Based on the full set of the 4 p.m. Election Day exit poll data Dr. Stephen F. Freeman from the University of Pennsylvania calculated that "the odds of just three of the major swing states, Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania all swinging as far as they did against their respective exit polls were 250 million to one."

The Ohio Election Protection Coalition's public hearings have documented insufficient voting machines in black Democratic precincts resulting in five-to-seven hour waits, voter intimidation, machine malfunctions and other irregularities.

Another significant development this week was the Democratic Party breaking its silence on the matter.

Ohio Chairman Dennis White distributed a press release on Monday afternoon that ran the headline: "Kerry/Edwards Campaign Joins Ohio Recount."

It stated "assuring Ohioans receive an accurate count of all votes cast for president has prompted the Democratic Party to join the initiative to recount the results of the November 2 presidential election."

The White House was asked to respond specifically to Wade's statements in last week's North County News article and also address the Ohio recount and reports of voting irregularities.

DeFrancis declined to comment on the particulars.

The article sparked dozens of impassioned e-mail responses from readers outside of North County News' northern Westchester coverage area, with the piece being picked up by assorted alternative media news outlets.

With the recount controversy spreading through the Web universe at a feverish pace, the article ranked as the top hit on the Yahoo search engine for basic research entries about what is being dubbed as "Votergate."

The article buoyed the spirits of a New York-based activist group that was formed to pressure the mainstream media into covering the stories chronicling voting irregularities and the Ohio recount effort commissioned by the Libertarian and Green parties.

"Democracy is at stake and this needs major media attention," remarked Ellen Frank, an East Hampton, New York resident.

"There is an unofficial lockdown by the mainstream press," said Frank, whose brother, Dr. Justin Frank, published a book in June named "Bush on the Couch: Inside the mind of the president."

"When I read the article, I said: '17,000 lawyers. Is this really true? Are they really working on this?,'" remembered Frank, who distributed the article at a party.

"We're trying to get enough major media attention to challenge the election," said Frank, who filed a complaint with the U.S. Supreme Court during the 2000 election, citing herself as a disenfranchised voter.

Two minor-party presidential candidates raised enough money to file for an official recount of the vote in Ohio.

The Green Party has been working with the Libertarian Party--both parties were on the ballot in Ohio--in securing a recount. Green Party candidate David Cobb and Libertarian candidate Michael Badnarik say they've demanded that Ohio Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell, a Republican who co-chaired this year's Bush campaign in Ohio, recuse himself from the recount process.

Cobb Media Director Blair Bobier said, "The Ohio presidential election was marred by numerous press and independent reports of mismarked and discarded ballots, problems with electronic voting machines and the targeted disenfranchisement of African-American voters."

"Due to widespread reports of irregularities in Ohio's voting process, we are compelled to demand a recount of the Ohio presidential vote," Badnarik and Cobb said in a joint statement. "Voting is at the heart of the American political process and its integrity must be preserved. When Americans stand in line for hours to exercise their right to vote, they need to know that their votes will be counted fairly and accurately…"

The Ohio vote will be certified on December 3 at the latest, Bobier said. The Electoral College votes on December 13, so it is unclear whether or not a recount would be completed by then.

The minor-party presidential candidates filed a federal lawsuit Monday to force a recount of Ohio ballots, and a spokesman for the state Democratic Party said it intended to join the suit.

The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in Toledo, Bobier said.

Dan Trevas, spokesman for the Ohio Democratic Party, said the party would join the recount request after the secretary of state certified the results, or sooner if an early recount is ordered by a court.

"Counties are very upset," said Keith Cunningham, director of the Allen County Board of Elections and incoming president of the Ohio Association of Election Officials, who called the lawsuit "frivolous."

"Commissioners are beginning to understand--and if they don't, will understand soon--what kind of financial impact this is going to have on them, in a year when elections already cost a great deal more than expected," Cunningham told the Associated Press.

Badnarik and Cobb have raised $235,000 as of Monday morning, an amount which covers the $113,600 bond they had to provide as demanded by Ohio election law, plus some of their own organizational expenses.

Ohio law requires payment of $10 per precinct, or $113,600 statewide, but election officials say the true expense would be far greater. "It's going to crush county governments," Cunningham said.

Carlo LoParo, a spokesman for Blackwell, has estimated the actual cost at $1.5 million.

Dr. Frank, whose book explores Bush's "psychological limitations," believes the Ohio recount will hand Kerry the presidency.

"I think that a recount in Ohio, if done properly, will show a narrow Kerry victory and he should be inaugurated hopefully by January 20, 2005," the Washington D.C.-based, clinical professor in the Department of Psychiatry at George Washington University Medical Center said.

"The disruption and cries of foul will be huge," the psychiatrist and psychoanalyst said. "But I think Bush lost. Kerry people are finally joining in, though I think they have been active all along, just quietly."

Pursuant to a request by independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader, votes in some New Hampshire towns are being recounted. An analysis showed wide differences in voting trends between the 2000 and 2004 elections: about three quarters of precincts with severe changes used Diebold optical scanning machines.

Last week, Diebold agreed to pay $2.6 million to settle a lawsuit with the state of California. Diebold officials misled state leaders about the security and certification of its products to get payments from the state, according to California Attorney General Bill Lockyer.

Diebold is headed by Republican Wally O'Dell. Last year, O'Dell wrote to Ohio Republican donors, saying he was "committed to helping Ohio deliver its electoral votes to the President next year."

Nader doesn't expect to change the outcome: In New Hampshire, Kerry defeated Bush, 50 percent to 49 percent, while Nader got less than one percent from the state's 301 precincts.

Don DeBar, an Ossining resident and Nader campaign worker in San Antonio, Texas this year, is trying to stitch together the fragmented left and have progressive activists unite on the recount issue.

Liberals, he said, need to "get past political antagonisms," for the time being.

"One thing that I've done is bring this to the airwaves in NYC," the area activist said. "As a reporter on the drive-time morning program Wake Up Call on WBAI-FM, I provided some detailed coverage of the issue, from the many reports of intimidation, error and fraud to the failure of the Kerry campaign to act to protect the voting rights of his own voters…"

The University of California's Berkeley Quantitative Methods Research Team released a statistical study - the sole method available to monitor the accuracy of e-voting -reporting irregularities associated with electronic voting machines may have awarded 130,000 to 260,000 or more excess votes to President George W. Bush in Florida in the 2004 presidential election. The official tally in Florida shows Bush with 380,978 more votes than Kerry. The three counties where the voting anomalies were most prevalent were also the most heavily Democratic: Broward, Palm Beach and Miami-Dade, respectively.

CNN reported a 377,000-vote margin between Bush and Kerry. The study shows an unexplained discrepancy between votes for President Bush in counties where electronic voting machines were used versus counties using traditional voting methods, what the team says can be deemed a "smoke alarm."

The probability of this arising by chance, they say, is less than 0.1 percent. The research team formally called on Florida voting officials to investigate.

Kathryn Levy was a volunteer coordinator in the Kerry headquarters in Broward County, Florida and said yesterday she received "innumerable complaints."

She was the supervisor of a hotline in Broward that handled the complaints.

Levy believes "there was a systematic effort to disenfranchise thousands of citizens in that heavily Democratic county."

"Many newly registered voters were told that they needed to present multiple IDs at polling places, when in fact only one is required," Levy wrote for an intended op-ed piece that was truncated into a letter to the editor published last Tuesday in Long Island's Newsday. "Others were informed that they had already voted and were turned away although they had not yet cast their vote. Many of those requesting provisional ballots were denied even that recourse."

"Perhaps the most chilling complaints concerned the electronic voting machines," Levy continued. "We received several reports of voters who repeatedly pressed the name Kerry on their voting screen only to have Bush appear. In other cases, voters pressed Kerry and were later asked to confirm their Bush vote."

John Zogby, president of the polling firm Zogby International, is concerned about the difference between some of the exit polls and the official vote counts.

"We're talking about the Free World here," he told the Inter Press Service News Agency.

"Something is definitely wrong," Zogby also told the news agency.

Bush now leads Kerry by about 136,000 votes in Ohio. A battle is looming over nearly 155,000 provisional ballots. The Ohio Democratic Party has joined a lawsuit by elector Audrey J. Schering, which asks United States District Judge Michael H. Watson to order Blackwell to impose uniform standards for counting provisional ballots in all 88 counties.

The lawsuit cites the United States Supreme Court's opinion in Bush v. Gore, which "held that the failure to provide specific standards for counting of ballots that are sufficient to assure a uniform count statewide violates the Equal Protection Clause of the United States Constitution."

Of 11 counties that had completed checking provisional ballots, 81 percent have been ruled valid.

On Saturday, November 13, the Ohio Election Protection Coalition's public hearings in Columbus solicited extensive sworn first-person testimony from 32 Ohio voters, precinct judges, poll workers, legal observers and party challengers. An additional 66 people provided written affidavits of election irregularities.

The testimony, according to Harvey Wasserman, a senior editor at the Columbus Free Press, revealed an effort on the part of Blackwell to deny primarily African-American and young voters the right to cast their ballots within a reasonable time.

On November 17, Blackwell wrote an op-ed piece for Rev. Sun Myung Moon's Washington Times, stating "every eligible voter who wanted to vote had the opportunity to vote. There was no widespread fraud, and there was no disenfranchisement. A half-million more Ohioans voted than ever before with fewer errors than four years ago, a sure sign of success by any measure."

Additional testimony also called into question the validity of the actual vote counts. There are doubts that the final official tally in Ohio, due December 1 to Blackwell's office, will have any validity.

At the Columbus hearings, witnesses testified under oath that the election was riddled with discrimination and disarray.

"In precincts 1 A and 5 G, voting (at) Hillman Elementary School, which is a predominantly African-American community, there were woefully insufficient number of voting machines in three precincts," Werner Lange, a pastor from Youngstown, Ohio, said in his testimony.

"I was told that the standard was to have one voting machine per 100 registered voters," he continued. "Precinct A had 750 registered voters. Precinct G had 690. There should have been 14 voting machines at this site. There were only 6, three per precinct, less than 50 percent of the standard. This caused an enormous bottleneck among voters who had to wait a very, very long time to vote, many of them giving up in frustration and leaving…I estimate, by the way, that an estimated loss of over 8,000 votes from the African American community in the City of Youngstown alone, with its 84 precincts, were lost due to insufficient voting machines, and that would translate to some 7,000 votes lost for John Kerry for president in Youngstown alone. . . ."

According to a November 5 article by the Associated Press, election officials in Ohio admitted that an error with an electronic voting system gave President Bush 3,893 extra votes in a Gahanna precinct. Franklin County reported Bush with 4,258 votes and John Kerry with 260, even though only 638 voters cast ballots in that precinct.

Bev Harris of BlackBoxVoting, along with people from Florida Fair Elections, showed up at Florida's Volusia County Elections Office on the afternoon of Tuesday, November 16 and asked to see, under a public records request, each of the poll tapes for the 100-plus optical scanners in the precincts in that county. The election workers, having been notified in advance of her request, handed her a set of printouts dated November 15 and lacking signatures.

Harris pointed out that the printouts given to her were not the original poll tapes and had no signatures, and thus were not what she had requested.

Reportedly, they told her that the originals were held in another location, the election office's warehouse, and that, since it was the end of the day, they should meet her the following morning to show them to her. The next day she started searching the garbage bags outside, finding public record tapes in the trash. Disparities between the November 15 tape and November 2 tape emerged--all reportedly favoring President Bush.

Harris could not be reached for comment by press time.

The mainstream media, which has suffered increasingly in recent years by charges of liberal bias and Democratic partisanship, has largely taken a pass on the recount story. In fact, The New York Times, the symbol and primary target of conservative media critics, published a front-page article two weeks ago that portrayed the recount effort as a campaign being waged by partisan, conspiratorial and error-happy bloggers with a liberal agenda.

MSNBC's Keith Olbermann has tracked the story aggressively on both his "BLOGGERMANN" web log and "Countdown," a television news analysis program he hosts for the cable network, which is home to commentators of all political stripes, from Pat Buchanan to Ron Reagan.

In fact, Olbermann referenced the North County News article in a Sunday blog entry. He borrowed a quote from the article that triggered perhaps the most attention from activists: "We have 17,000 lawyers working on this, and the grassroots accountability couldn't be any higher -no (irregularity) will go unchecked. Period," Wade had told North County News.

Kerry conceded the 2004 presidential contest on November 3, the day after the election, a decision that carries no concrete legal standing. That day, he and his running mate, Senator John Edwards of North Carolina, pledged to ensure every vote is counted, although they said at the time there was no chance a voting tally update would result in swinging the result in their favor.

Former Vice President Al Gore conceded in his 2000 battle with Bush for the White House before demanding a recount, which was ultimately halted by the U.S. Supreme Court, ending the debacle in Florida.

Howard Fineman, chief political correspondent for Newsweek, appeared on Countdown on Monday night.

"They keep saying these little things designed to make clear, at least to their supporters and the whole blogosphere out there, that they take the possibility (of a Kerry victory) and the need for a recount seriously," Fineman said of Kerry and his surrogates during an interview with Olbermann.

Fineman said he talked to Blackwell earlier in the evening.

"There in fact will be a recount," Fineman remarked. "We will be talking about chads once again."

Olbermann posted an entry on his blog on Monday evening, after that night's Countdown telecast.

"As Kerry himself calculated early on November 3, the provisional ballots alone obviously could not provide anything close to enough bona fide Democratic votes to overcome President Bush's 135,000 vote plurality in the Ohio election night tally," he wrote. "But as Howard also pointed out - and my colleague David Shuster so thoroughly extrapolated in a previous post on Hardblogger - the provisionals plus the 'undercount' could make things very close indeed. The punch-card ballots 'where it looks like nobody marked anything' when read by an optical scanning machine, might produce thousands of legitimate votes if hand-counted and judged by Ohio's strict laws defining how many corners of the proverbial chads have to be detached to make a vote valid."

Fineman's analysis, Olbermann writes, "(puts) it in terms that the mainstream can't ignore."

That's heartening to the likes of Ellen Frank.

"There is something very wrong here with the press," said Frank, who suspects, like other recount activists, that top level producers and editors in the mainstream press have barred their talent from covering the story extensively, as to avoid the appearance of partisanship.

"We believe democracy itself is at risk," said Frank, whose ad hoc group of philanthropists, writers and other activists are, among other things, mounting letter-writing campaigns about the recount to newspapers across the nation.

"We believe this was a fraudulent election," she said. "…We are fearful that 'major' media is intimidated. We are fearful we are abandoned by our own Democratic Party. We are working to hold the administration and our party accountable."


Friday, November 26, 2004

Bush wants more federal funding for abstinence-only sex education

Verdict out on abstinence-only sex education
Bush wants more federal funding

WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Bush's re-election ensures that more federal money will flow to abstinence education that precludes discussion of birth control, even as the administration awaits evidence that the approach gets teenagers to refrain from sex.

Congress last weekend included more than $131 million for abstinence programs in a $388 billion spending bill, an increase of $30 million but about $100 million less that Bush requested. Meanwhile, a national evaluation of abstinence programs has been delayed, with a final report not expected until 2006.

Ten state evaluations, compiled by a group that opposes abstinence-only education, showed little change in teens' behavior since the start of abstinence programs in 1997.

The president has been a strong proponent of school-based sexual education that focuses on abstinence, but does not include instruction on safe sex.

"We don't need a study, if I remember my biology correctly, to show us that those people who are sexually abstinent have a zero chance of becoming pregnant or getting someone pregnant or contracting a sexually transmitted disease," said Wade Horn, the assistant secretary of Health and Human Services in charge of federal abstinence funding.

Those who say schools also should be teaching youths how to use contraceptives say Horn's argument ignores reality. Surveys indicate that roughly 50 percent of teens say they have sex before they leave high school. While the nation's teenage pregnancy rate is declining, young people 15 to 24 account for about half the new cases of sexually transmitted diseases in the United States each year.

Teaching only about abstinence means students will be less able to prevent pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases, say supporters of comprehensive sexual education.

"The only 100 percent way to avoid a car collision is not to drive, but the federal government sure does a lot of advocacy for safety belts," said James Wagoner, president of Advocates for Youth, a group that promotes education about birth control and condom use.

The push for abstinence is one of several Bush policies popular with religious conservatives. Also topping the agenda: the faith-based initiative, which aims to open more government programs to religious groups. That push will continue into a second term, said Jim Towey, who directs the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives.

"This is a culture change in the way the government provides social services," he said in an interview. "It's a change to recognize if we really want to help our poor, we want to give them some choice of programs and providers."

The argument about sexual education has raged for years, between those who say teaching about sex promotes promiscuity and those who say teens will make better choices if they are fully informed.

The "abstinence-only" initiative was part of the 1996 welfare law. Because programs are so young, there has been little conclusive research about their effectiveness. Independent researchers said in 2002 there is no reliable evidence whether these programs are effective in reducing teen sex, pregnancy or the transmission of disease.

The same team has been updating its findings for the Department of Health and Humans Services. A second report was supposed to be released earlier this year, but has been pushed back, said HHS spokesman Bill Pierce. The final installation is expected in 2006.

Advocates for Youth recently compiled state evaluations that found little change in teens' behavior since the start of the abstinence programs. The states evaluated are: Arizona, Florida, Iowa, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Oregon, Pennsylvania and Washington.

Leslee Unruh, president of National Abstinence Clearinghouse in Sioux Falls, S.D., said those state programs are not true abstinence programs because they talk about delaying sexual activity, but not specifically waiting until marriage.

Wagoner said backers of abstinence-only education are now distancing themselves from programs that don't work. He noted that the state programs all qualified for and received money from the federal pot of abstinence education money.

Horn and Unruh acknowledged a paucity of data. "So many of our programs are in their infancy. The jury is still out," Unruh said.

Horn said, "The research is not as adequate as it needs to be."

Still, he is not willing to wait for more evaluations, calling abstinence education "something that parents and children want."


Suit seeks new look at rejected Ohio ballots

CLEVELAND, Ohio (AP) -- A watchdog group sued Friday to try to stop Cuyahoga County's elections board from rejecting thousands of provisional ballots until they are hand checked against voter-registration cards.

People for the American Way Foundation said the board wrongly relied only on computerized registration records, which are compiled from the cards and could contain errors such as misspellings.

Provisional ballots are cast when voters say they are properly registered but precinct workers can't find their names on their registration lists.

Two-thirds of the 24,472 provisional ballots cast in Cuyahoga County were later found to be valid, but the other 8,099 were thrown out, mostly because the people who cast them were not found on the county's computerized records.

The national civil rights group filed the suit in the 8th District Court of Appeals against Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell and the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections. Blackwell's office did not immediately return a message seeking comment. The county board said declined to comment until it has reviewed the suit.

The lawsuit also seeks to give voters the chance to have their provisional ballots counted if they cast ballots in the wrong precinct without being directed to the correct one. An appeals court found last month that a provisional ballot cast outside a voter's home precinct isn't valid.

According to unofficial tallies, President Bush beat Democrat John Kerry in Ohio by 136,000 votes. Kerry has conceded not enough outstanding votes exist to sway the election his way in the key battleground state.

The deadline for counties to complete their official counts is next Wednesday.