Friday, December 02, 2005

Texas redistricting viewed as illegal in secret memo

Yet another of Bush's political cronies suppressing and overruling the work of staffers who are trying to their jobs and to do the right and legal thing:

The memo, unanimously endorsed by six lawyers and two analysts in the department's voting section, said the redistricting plan illegally diluted black and Hispanic voting power in two congressional districts. It also said the plan eliminated several other districts in which minorities had a substantial, though not necessarily decisive, influence in elections....

The memo also found that Republican lawmakers and state officials who helped craft the proposal were aware it posed a high risk of being ruled discriminatory compared with other options....

The 73-page memo, dated Dec. 12, 2003, has been kept under tight wraps for two years. Lawyers who worked on the case were subjected to an unusual gag rule. The memo was provided to The Post by a person connected to the case who is critical of the adopted redistricting map. Such recommendation memos, while not binding, historically carry great weight within the Justice Department....

Mark Posner, a longtime Justice Department lawyer who now teaches law at American University, said it was "highly unusual" for political appointees to overrule a unanimous finding such as the one in the Texas case.
The Justice Department's approval of the redistricting plan was signed by Sheldon T. Bradshaw, principal deputy assistant attorney general. Another crony shaft job.

Ralph Reed got $4 million from Abramoff

Ralph Reed apparently forgot to register as a Texas lobbyist in 2001 and 2002 when he received $4 million from Abramoff and Scanlon. Watchdog groups in Texas have filed complaints in Austin.

The groups said Mr. Reed failed to register as a Texas lobbyist in 2001 and 2002, when he received more than $4 million from Mr. Abramoff and his partner Michael Scanlon. The Abramoff-Scanlon team was then pushing for a shutdown of casinos operated by the Tigua tribe of El Paso and the Alabama-Coushatta tribe of Livingston in East Texas. The casinos were ultimately closed.

Ah-nold rejects right-wing extremism

The LA Times has a story about Gov. Schwarnzenegger's appointment of a Democrat as his new chief-of-staff:

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger picked a former Democratic Party activist as his new chief of staff after concluding that his current team was trying to push him in the directions they wanted to go, rather than embracing his more centrist ideas, sources familiar with the governor's thinking said Wednesday.

Damn right, they were.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Can You Prove Touch-screen Voting Machines Accurately Record Votes?

Seeing the Forest makes a good argument for why we need paper-trail voting machines.

I'm supposed to touch a screen and then just trust that the machine correctly records my vote. Right.

Suppose that every computer expert in the world decided that the machines were beyond any possibility whatsoever of being tampered with. (Set aside for a minute that it is the computer experts - the people who understand computers - who are sounding the warnings about the possibility of fraud from these machines.) And suppose that every politician, every authority figure, every credible organization declared that these machines are beyond question. Suppose that even every "fringe conspiracy nut" in the world issued forth with assurances that the machines accurately recorded votes.

There is still a problem. You still can not prove that the voting machine correctly recorded the way I voted.

Take a look. The entire thing is worth a read.