Delivering the Vote, with Dividends
April 4, 2006 11:32 AM   Subscribe

Whooops! While making a required filing to the state ethics commission, Ohio Secretary of State and gubernatorial candidate Kenneth Blackwell finds Diebold shares in his stock portfolio that he now claims to have bought "accidentally." Yes, that Diebold -- the e-voting company whose chairman promised to "deliver the vote" to George Bush. And yes, that Blackwell, whose state helped deliver the White House to the GOP. Blackwell insists that the humble amount of Diebold stock was in one of those "blind trust" type of arrangements that worked out so rewardingly for Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist. [newsfilter via RawStory.]
posted by digaman (108 comments total)

 
"He said 95 shares were later sold at a loss but he still held 83 shares until discovering them and liquidating them Monday, also at a loss." - yawn
posted by zeoslap at 11:35 AM on April 4, 2006


I've never gotten to say this on MetaFilter before, so let me be the first in the thread:

*ahem*

This is my surprised face.
posted by Faint of Butt at 11:38 AM on April 4, 2006


What zeoslap said.
posted by docgonzo at 11:38 AM on April 4, 2006


What docgonzo said zeoslap said.
posted by Cranberry at 11:43 AM on April 4, 2006


You said it.
posted by shnoz-gobblin at 11:52 AM on April 4, 2006


You left out one of the key facts: the stock wasn't purchased until January of 2005.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 11:57 AM on April 4, 2006


diabold
posted by edgeways at 12:01 PM on April 4, 2006


(1) Throw election.
(2) Buy shares in voting machine company.
(3) Sell shares at lower price.
(4) ???
(5) Profit!
posted by designbot at 12:05 PM on April 4, 2006


I get it. It's only a conflict of interest if he makes a lot of money.
posted by digaman at 12:07 PM on April 4, 2006


He only bought 95 shares, or $5,000 worth. I think it was probably an accident.
posted by delmoi at 12:09 PM on April 4, 2006


You left out one of the key facts: the stock wasn't purchased until January of 2005.

It was a "try before you buy" deal.
posted by cairnish at 12:11 PM on April 4, 2006


The only problem would have been in buying diebold machines, because the secretary of state is responsible for that, or managing that.

I read a 'non-biased' article on this guy claming he was the future of the Republican Party, or something. This is the guy who tried to throw out thousands of voter registrations because they were printed on paper that "wasn't thick enough"

Hardly a bastion of ethics, but I don't think the diebold thing is too bad. His being a loyal republican, on the other hand.
posted by delmoi at 12:13 PM on April 4, 2006


"Harris writes that the hacked [internal Diebold] documents expose how the mainstream media reversed their call projecting Al Gore as winner of Florida after someone 'subtracted 16,022 votes from Al Gore, and in still some undefined way, added 4000 erroneous votes to George W. Bush.' Hours later, the votes were returned. One memo from Lana Hires of Global Election Systems, now Diebold, reads: 'I need some answers! Our department is being audited by the County. I have been waiting for someone to give me an explanation as to why Precinct 216 gave Al Gore a minus 16,022 [votes] when it was uploaded.' Another hacked internal memo, written by Talbot Iredale, Senior VP of Research and Development for Diebold Election Systems, documents 'unauthorized' replacement votes in Volusia County. Harris also uncovered a revealing 87-page CBS news report and noted, 'According to CBS documents, the erroneous 20,000 votes in Volusia was directly responsible to calling the election for Bush.' The first person to call the election for Bush was Fox election analyst John Ellis, who had the advantage of conferring with his prominent cousins George W. Bush and Florida Governor Jeb Bush.
posted by digaman at 12:14 PM on April 4, 2006


And what does that have to do with the stock?
posted by monju_bosatsu at 12:18 PM on April 4, 2006


This may be a non-issue, but that doesn't mean that Blackwell isn't a crook worthy of our derision.
posted by wsg at 12:19 PM on April 4, 2006


The only problem would have been in buying diebold machines, because the secretary of state is responsible for that, or managing that.

So why is buying the machines a problem but buying stock in the company is not? He still has the power to influence voting mechanisms, so holding stock in a company that produces one alternative constitutes a conflict of interest. '04 wasn't the last election of all time, thank god.
posted by spiderwire at 12:20 PM on April 4, 2006


No, with Diebold and ES&S controlling both the endpoints and the central tabulators, I'd say it's possible that 2000 was the last election of all time.
posted by sonofsamiam at 12:22 PM on April 4, 2006


should've been on preview:

wsg: there's a difference between a "non-issue" and a "small issue," especially when it's part of a pattern.
posted by spiderwire at 12:23 PM on April 4, 2006


"The check incident remained between Gallina and Damschroder until late last month when an assistant county prosecutor called Damschroder. Election Systems & Software, a company that is suing Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell over the state’s policies for buying electronic voting machines, wanted to talk with Damschroder about allegations that Diebold was paying to play, the prosecutor told him.

Damschroder told him about the $10,000 check and had another story to tell.

In May, he said, Gallina called him and bragged about a $50,000 check he had written to Blackwell’s 'political interests.'

'Isn’t it great that Diebold and the county are going to do business?' he says Gallina asked him.

Damschroder said Gallina went on to tell him that he had met with Norm Cummings, a Blackwell campaign consultant, in Washington, D.C., to work out a deal: Diebold would cut the price of its electronic voting machines to $2,700 each if the company had a guarantee that it would receive all of the state’s business."

posted by digaman at 12:25 PM on April 4, 2006


How do you hack a memo?
posted by OmieWise at 12:27 PM on April 4, 2006


I am not sure that I believe him about when he bought the stock. By all accounts, the guy is a sleazeball, and the Ohio GOP is up to its eyeballs in corruption.
posted by empath at 12:34 PM on April 4, 2006


Also, last month:

J. Kenneth Blackwell has criticized rival Jim Petro repeatedly in recent weeks for using lawyers who received unbid specialcounsel work from the attorney general's office as a "fundraising ATM."

But a Dispatch analysis shows Blackwell has taken thousands of dollars in contributions over time from vendors who got no-bid work from the secretary of state's office under his control.

After saying Feb. 20 that he didn't take such contributions, Blackwell said Friday they are "nominal" and pale in comparison to Petro's -- and that he hasn't used the "strong-arm tactics" he accuses Petro of employing.


But move along, there is

NOTHING

to

SEE

HERE!
posted by Otis at 12:35 PM on April 4, 2006


Oh, fer chrissake... this doesn't matter in any way, shape, or form. This is only about $4k worth of stock; he could easily have bought it through computer trading or through a financial adviser, or what have you.

Save the outrage for the stuff that _matters_... this guy's potential upside, even if he was totally corrupt and on the take, would have been on the order of, what, $1500?

Please.
posted by Malor at 12:35 PM on April 4, 2006


I live right near Toledo, and after the last memo, I could walk through a local coffeeshop from front to back and hear the name "Blackwell" growled at least a dozen times. Blackwell has an anti-posse.
posted by jmhodges at 12:35 PM on April 4, 2006


OW, you hack a memo out from behind a password-protected site.
posted by digaman at 12:36 PM on April 4, 2006


Memo? I meant election. Christ.
posted by jmhodges at 12:36 PM on April 4, 2006


Nothing to see here either, from spiderwire's Wikilink above:

In 2004, Blackwell served as the co-chair of the Committee to Re-elect George W. Bush in Ohio. He was also the most prominent Republican to support adding a marriage amendment to the state constitution. The state's Republican U.S. Senators R. Michael DeWine and George V. Voinovich opposed the amendment's broad language, fearing it could bar not only same-sex marriage but also civil unions, domestic partnerships, and possibly wills and any legal contracts for homosexuals. Republican Governor Taft later also came out against the amendment, expressing his concern that its ambiguous language would have unintended consequences and leave the state open to a number of lawsuits. During the campaign Blackwell lobbied hard for this measure and was widely credited with attracting many conservative evangelical African Americans to the polls to vote for the measure and for Bush's re-election.

After the 2004 election, he was criticized for having laid the groundwork for a gubernatorial campaign by sending a fundraising letter that solicited corporate contributions, which are illegal in Ohio. A Blackwell campaign officer blamed the printer for the mistake.


It's just so hard to find an honest printer these days.
posted by digaman at 12:40 PM on April 4, 2006


This stock wasn't purchased until January 2005, therefore this post is full of shit.

I should post that in all caps with blinking text. After all, the central premise is completely undercut by a cursory reading of the article.
posted by dios at 12:47 PM on April 4, 2006


Sorry, I didn't notice a date in the post, much less a date being the post's "central premise." The central premise of this post was that Kenneth Blackwell, the Secretary of State in the state that delivered the vote for George Bush using e-voting machines that have been widely challenged as hackable and suspiciously weighted toward Republican candidate's, not only bought stock in the company that made those machines, but may have arranged a secret deal with Diebold to lock out other makers of e-voting machines. Date, schmate.
posted by digaman at 12:54 PM on April 4, 2006


Look at the pattern people.

Lots of small incidents may mean nothing of themselves but if a pattern exists then they collectively do mean a great deal.

Blackwell is just another corrupt corporate whore who would sell his grandmother's soul for the right price.
posted by nofundy at 12:57 PM on April 4, 2006


I'm calling bullshit on that explanation, digaman. Your post was trying to suggest that he owned Diebold stock when he "promised to deliver" the state. You basic point being that the fact that he owned stock is somehow proof that he was working with Diebold to fix the election for Bush (or some other asinine embarrassing tinfoil hat nonsense).

But that point is undercut in the article itself, so this is just not another thread to bitch about Diebold and cry that elections must have been fixed.
posted by dios at 12:58 PM on April 4, 2006


From the Columbus Dispatch:

Kenneth Blackwell revealed yesterday that he owned stock in Diebold, a voting-machine manufacturer, at the same time his office negotiated a deal that critics have said was an attempt to steer business to the company.

Also from the Columbus Dispatch

Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell revealed Monday he accidentally invested in shares of voting-machine manufacturer Diebold Inc. last year, a period when he was sued by other manufacturers over contracts that Diebold was up for.

Conflict of interest?
posted by Otis at 12:59 PM on April 4, 2006


That would be nonsense if I'd posted it, Dios. I'm afraid you misread me. But you're forgiven.
posted by digaman at 1:03 PM on April 4, 2006


dios, you're a lawyer, isn't establishing a pattern of wrongdoing somewhat important?

if he was innocent, or not all that involved, you'd think he'd have the brains to clean up his act after the first screw-up. the continuing malfeasance indicates that's he's up to his eyeballs in bullshit.

either way, he's possibly the dumbest person on the planet for even coming within a mile of Diebold after the last election. even corrupt Republicans should clamor for throwing him out on his ass -- you've got to smarter than that to get away with being lawbreaking scum.
posted by spiderwire at 1:05 PM on April 4, 2006


Blackwell didn't promise to deliver Ohio to Bush, that was the CEO of Diebold who said that.
posted by empath at 1:05 PM on April 4, 2006


this thread is moving too fast for my feeble brain, nofundy beat me by a mile on that one.
posted by spiderwire at 1:06 PM on April 4, 2006


The central premise of this post was that Kenneth Blackwell… not only bought stock in the company that made those machines…

There's a lot of innuendo here, but what's the actual accusation you're making? Maybe Diebold & Kenneth Blackwell conspired to throw the election. OK. How does this minor stock transaction figure into that conspiracy? Is this supposed to be his big pay-off or something?

but may have arranged a secret deal with Diebold to lock out other makers of e-voting machines. Date, schmate.

Where was this in the article you posted?
posted by designbot at 1:07 PM on April 4, 2006


Designbot: here.
posted by digaman at 1:08 PM on April 4, 2006


Blackwell didn't promise to deliver Ohio to Bush, that was the CEO of Diebold who said that.

...in public.

Where was this in the article you posted?

read the thread before complaining, thanks.

There's a lot of innuendo here, but what's the actual accusation you're making?

The article makes the accusation that Blackwell bought stock in Diebold. There's a lot of different reasons, all cited in the thread, why that might arguably be a Bad Thing.
posted by spiderwire at 1:10 PM on April 4, 2006


Blackwell didn't promise to deliver Ohio to Bush, that was the CEO of Diebold who said that.

Indeed thus, in the FPP: "...Diebold -- the e-voting company whose chairman promised to 'deliver the vote' to George Bush."
posted by digaman at 1:14 PM on April 4, 2006



[The only problem would have been in buying diebold machines, because the secretary of state is responsible for that, or managing that. -- delmoi]

So why is buying the machines a problem but buying stock in the company is not? He still has the power to influence voting mechanisms, so holding stock in a company that produces one alternative constitutes a conflict of interest. '04 wasn't the last election of all time, thank god.


By problem I mean conflict of interest. The conflict of interest was in which company he decided to buy polling machines from.

Blackwell may be a crooked asshole, but his $5k investment in diebold is not evidence of it.
posted by delmoi at 1:15 PM on April 4, 2006


More evidence.
posted by digaman at 1:17 PM on April 4, 2006


Where was this in the article you posted?

Designbot: here.

read the thread before complaining, thanks.

Wow, sorry, my mistake, you guys. Somehow I missed the fact that a link posted in the 19th comment on a post is, in fact, the main content of that post. Clearly, I was wrong.
posted by designbot at 1:17 PM on April 4, 2006


Is anyone really dumb enough to believe Diebold is fixing elections?

If Diebold really were fixing the vote, presumably they'd do so to enrich themselves. But since they are also make a huge number of ATM machines, wouldn't it be easier to just skim some money there?

Here's what people need to realize. In 2000, George W. Bush won the nation's electoral vote, thus becoming president. In 2004, more Americans voted for George W. Bush than John Kerry. So it would seem your problem is more with Americans than it is with Diebold. So let's all stop bitching, and remember to work harder next election.
posted by b_thinky at 1:18 PM on April 4, 2006



I should post that in all caps with blinking text. After all, the central premise is completely undercut by a cursory reading of the article.


Yeah, to bad you got the blink tag banned, moron.
posted by delmoi at 1:19 PM on April 4, 2006


Somehow I missed the fact that a link posted in the 19th comment on a post is, in fact, the main content of that post. Clearly, I was wrong.

And yet, you were reading the thread, and decided to only comment on the end of it rather than taking the time to browse through, because it was more important to shit on the discussion than to make absolutely sure that you were up to speed.

But please, continue to act persecuted about being in error and disrupting the discussion.
posted by spiderwire at 1:21 PM on April 4, 2006


dios, you're a lawyer, isn't establishing a pattern of wrongdoing somewhat important?

If the party in question is a Republican, then apparently a pattern of wrongdoing is irrelevant. IOKIYAR!
posted by chuq at 1:21 PM on April 4, 2006


I sat down one day, and figured out a way to do voting machines that's cheap, reliable, and while not unhackable (nothing truly is), leaves an anonymous yet fully-trackable voting record in various places and formats. You could even go home and check to see if your vote was recorded correctly, from your home computer! It's really not that hard to do.

I suppose, however, that without something to offer someone (like the ability to change votes, or huge piles of money offered up front), it's a money-losing proposition. Still, it'll be great for local elections once I get a pass from my employer (to make sure they won't claim the patent.)

As to the original FPP, here's the thing: this stock may not be much of a story (due to the dates involved), but it's a good reminder that following the money is often the best way to connect people who might be up to no good. Which is why the government works so hard to follow YOUR money. But that's another thread. ;)
posted by davejay at 1:22 PM on April 4, 2006


spiderwire, you're right. It's not a non-issue. It's part of a pattern.
posted by wsg at 1:24 PM on April 4, 2006


In 2000, George W. Bush won the nation's electoral vote, by cheating and corruption, thus becoming president. In 2004, more Americans voted for George W. Bush than John Kerry yet Kerry would have won the electoral vote, had W not fixed the vote in Ohio via political connections to the company supplying many of the voting machines and by suppressing voters at the polls, e.g. by concentrating support away from predominantly Democratic (read: African-American) districts.

Make more sense now?

Yeah, to bad you got the blink tag banned, moron.

Finally, I have a reason to love dios.
posted by spiderwire at 1:24 PM on April 4, 2006


But since they are also make a huge number of ATM machines, wouldn't it be easier to just skim some money there?
No. For one, ATMs produce an auditable paper trail. Two, people give a damn where their money goes.
posted by MrMoonPie at 1:24 PM on April 4, 2006


I sat down one day, and figured out a way to do voting machines that's cheap, reliable, and while not unhackable (nothing truly is), leaves an anonymous yet fully-trackable voting record in various places and formats. You could even go home and check to see if your vote was recorded correctly, from your home computer! It's really not that hard to do.

1. Write vote on paper.
2. Scan paper immediately and place both copies in storage.
3. Publish on internet via basic CMS.
posted by spiderwire at 1:26 PM on April 4, 2006


Is anyone really dumb enough to believe Diebold is fixing elections?

I'm dumb enough to suspect it is possible, but then, I've been dumb enough to waste my time following voting machine insecurities closely since early 2003. Everything I had read led me to expect a repeat of the 2000 fiasco in 2004.

I still confused why there was no effort by Kerry to review the vote, since the results were much more dubious than they were in 2000. Possibly, Democrats have also been attempting to fix the vote.
posted by sonofsamiam at 1:27 PM on April 4, 2006


b_thinky: What a muddle-headed comment that was.

In 2000, more Americans voted for Al Gore than George Bush. That's not disputed. What's disputed is a thousand or so votes in Florida.

For 2004, you have a better case, but you should at attempt to maintain some consistency in a single paragraph.
posted by empath at 1:28 PM on April 4, 2006


Is anyone really dumb enough to believe Diebold is fixing elections?

If Diebold really were fixing the vote, presumably they'd do so to enrich themselves. But since they are also make a huge number of ATM machines, wouldn't it be easier to just skim some money there?


You presume that, maybe other people presume differently, like the fact that the CEO is a diehard republican who promised to "deliver" Ohio to bush in the 2000 election, politics matters more then money too many people.

And while I don't believe diebold is specifically trying to turn elections to the republicans, I would point out that unlike ATMs, Diebold's do not print paper receipts. And unlike the Voting system, the ATM network is audited and non anonymous, any attempt to skim money from the system would be noticed right away. How could an ATM be used to skim money? The bank knows how much money people but in, cash is put in envelopes, and receipts are handed out.

The only way to do it would be to have equipment to open deposit envelopes, take money out of them and stuff them in other envelopes. That seems like it would be pretty easy to discover.

With the touch screen voting system, with no receipts, its much, much easier to change the results.

--

Now, what I do think Diebold is doing is recklessly pushing unbelievably shoddy products. Products that have been demonstrated to be able to be hacked by an actual, monkey given the property training.

Using diebold touch screens puts the election in the hands of country supervisors and election officals, rather then the voters
posted by delmoi at 1:28 PM on April 4, 2006


I really don't understand why anybody is engaging dios, asking him about patterns of wrong-doing.

Dios always picks the easiest target (or he invents one, if it doesn't exist), and then smears it, acting as though it is the only relevant point.

Dios has no interest in truth, justice or honest debate. He's a flame warrior and nothing else.

That being said, this is a weak-ass FPP.
posted by I Love Tacos at 1:31 PM on April 4, 2006


Whoops!
posted by rachsumat at 1:35 PM on April 4, 2006


Excellent I Love Tacos. Make a bunch of insulting comments about me that question my motivations and then agree with what I was saying. Way to make yourself look like a dumabass.
posted by dios at 1:36 PM on April 4, 2006


Say you bought a lock. It is so designed to be openable by anyone who knows a secret release. It is made of a metal that will not take fingerprints. You are going to be using it to secure the most important things you own.

You might ask the locksmith if he has any that would show evidence of tampering and that do not have the secret release. He has a whole stack of them, but is not allowed by some local law to sell them to you. Coincidentally, the official in charge of this decision works in an office right next door to the locksmiths'.

Would you buy that lock?

If you were forced by the same regulation to use that lock and pay for it, rather than the tamper-resistant one, would you be upset?

Would you suspect a scam?
posted by sonofsamiam at 1:37 PM on April 4, 2006


Duma-bass? What is this duma-bass?
posted by monju_bosatsu at 1:37 PM on April 4, 2006


And yet, you were reading the thread, and decided to only comment on the end of it rather than taking the time to browse through, because it was more important to shit on the discussion than to make absolutely sure that you were up to speed.

But please, continue to act persecuted about being in error and disrupting the discussion.


Listen, dude, I'm really basically on your side. I think current electronic voting machines are absolute crap. But the author of this flimsy post claimed that his "central premise" was an ancillary claim only mentioned in an article linked to halfway down the comments page, which still sheds no light on the supposed motivations behind this sinister purchase of 95 shares of Diebold stock. Is there a conflict of interest? Sure, technically. Does this add in any way to the debate about electronic voting? No.
posted by designbot at 1:38 PM on April 4, 2006


Dios has no interest in truth, justice or honest debate. He's a flame warrior and nothing else.

Um, blink tag! Hello!?

That being said, this is a weak-ass FPP.

I thought that at first as well, but I think the thread content made it worthwhile.
posted by spiderwire at 1:41 PM on April 4, 2006


MetaFilter: no interest in truth, justice or honest debate
posted by antifreez_ at 1:43 PM on April 4, 2006


Isn't Ohio cleaning their henhouse and asshats like Blackwell are being tossed into the gutter like the trash they are? Or was just the dream I had the other day?
posted by fenriq at 1:46 PM on April 4, 2006


Listen, dude, I'm really basically on your side.

I realize that -- I am also basically an asshole

That said, I still take exception to your tone. The problem with it is essentially the same one you are complaining about w/r/t the post. Unlike the post, though, which was clarified down the page, your response to being called out was "well, that was halfway down the thread." Your bad, dude.

This is a legitimate reason why you might have missed it, but it's hardly a defense. You were wrong, and moreover, coming into a thread and complaining about something on the bottom (you responded to a comment on the article you missed, which means that you read the top and the bottom of the thread, and not the middle) is a bad practice. You should be apologizing for shitting on the thread; your agreement on the topic is hardly relevant.
posted by spiderwire at 1:47 PM on April 4, 2006


MetaFilter: Way to make yourself look like a dumabass.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 1:47 PM on April 4, 2006


Is anyone really dumb enough to believe Diebold is fixing elections?

Wow, what a stunning refutation. Is anybody here an idiot enough to think that The government's wiretapping orders were illegal? Is anyone here so stupid that they actually believe we invaded Iraq for reasons other than those publicly stated by the President? Does anyone rading this thread not have a big enough brain to realize that there were no problems with the 2000 or 2004 Presidential election?

Whew, glad we could clear that up.

If Diebold really were fixing the vote, presumably they'd do so to enrich themselves. But since they are also make a huge number of ATM machines, wouldn't it be easier to just skim some money there?

Given that the government buys voting machines (to the tune of millyuns and millyuns of dollars), and that it's easier to get a monopoly situation when you're dealing with a single party, and that it's even easier when that party actually, you know, owes you one. And that in addition, no one is going to require you to put auditing systems in your machines....

Yeah you're right, why wouldn't they instead try to steal money from an incredibly tightly administered impossible to steal from banking network instead? That would make so much more sense.

Only an idiot would think that they would collude with Republicans to influence elections.
posted by illovich at 1:49 PM on April 4, 2006


Your bad, dude.

WTF? The post wasn't clarified halfway down the page, it morphed into an entirely different topic.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 1:50 PM on April 4, 2006


Before I go any farther, designbot: I am sorry for being a jerk to you in my original response and, uh, the two following it.

I just think that it would have been more becoming if you had apologized for commenting having only read the outsides of the thread, rather than trying to deflect the criticism.

Let us stop derailing the thread now, as we are in agreement, hm?

posted by spiderwire at 1:51 PM on April 4, 2006


designbot, I don't know about you, but I work. In fact, I'm working on a very tight deadline this morning. I didn't say anything to your first comment about this, but if you're going to go on and on about it: Look at the timing of my posts. I make the FPP, go away for little bit to work, come back and immediately make two posts, one of which is the post that contained the info about Blackwell's alleged involvement with fixing the voting machine biz in Ohio. "Halfway down the comments page" is after a bunch of posts along the lines of "yawn" and "what zeoslap said." It's not like there was all this discussion of the issues at hand, and then, finally, straggling up the rear after a long night of cocaine and debutantes, I finally, belatedly, chime in with another post. I hear what you're saying, but I've had a busy morning and posted when I could.
posted by digaman at 1:53 PM on April 4, 2006


thanks for the post, digaman

the usual pigs' squealing means that you're doing a worthwile job
posted by matteo at 1:57 PM on April 4, 2006


WTF? The post wasn't clarified halfway down the page, it morphed into an entirely different topic.

Hah! My apology preempts your callout of my prickishness! ...cause I missed it on preview.

I am seriously trying to stop derailing this thread, but I will say that while it's definitely wandered I wouldn't call it "morphing" as it's all remained fairly topical. While that makes designbot's error excusable, digaman was carrying in the course of a pretty standard discussion, albeit one that expanded in the thread.

Again, apologies for lowering the standard of discourse.

posted by spiderwire at 1:57 PM on April 4, 2006


I'm using dumabass from now on, I like how it looks.

It's perfectly acceptable to engage dios in conversation, so here I go. Dios, you and I have a slight history, so you know that I am actually asking these questions and not just setting up for a zinger later: don't you think that it is possible that GWB was not elected legally? Don't you think that it is possible that he's got an agenda that doesn't have a lot to do with service to the country or the upholding of our "democractic" system? Don't you think that it is possible that he led us to war on false pretenses and is now conducting that war in a manner which is destined or at least likely to end badly for all involved? Don't you think that it is possible that some of the people asking these questions and others are not "lib'ral fucks," but are instead disenchanted Republicans and/or fiscal and governmental conservatives who feel betrayed by the smoke and mirrors this president has given us in place of good governance?

I ask because if you believe any of these things are possible, you should also believe that we all need to do whatever it takes to either prove or disprove these and other nagging questions, without reducing the discussion to partisan bickering EVERY.SINGLE.TIME.

I'll admit that I am no fan of GWB, but it isn't because he's a Republican. It's because I suspect he's dishonest, is only where he is by chicanery (I love that word), and is an idiot to boot. BACK ON TOPIC, finally, this particular article and issue on it's own is probably not much proof of vote-fixing by either Diebold or the Ohio Republican party, but it is part of a possible pattern, and should be examined and not simply dismissed out of hand because you (and I'm talking the unviersal "you" here and not just dios) suspect you may disagree with the subject-raiser's politics.

My .02, as usual take it for what it's worth.
posted by jennaratrix at 1:58 PM on April 4, 2006


well said, jennaratrix.
posted by spiderwire at 2:02 PM on April 4, 2006


Nothing to smell here...


In January, Secretary Blackwell issued a directive
that all counties in the state would switch to optical scan systems, triggering complaints from many officials, lawsuits from several election boards, and an opinion from the Ohio Attorney General, Jim Petro, that the Secretary of State’s office did not have the authority to issue such a directive. On April 14th, however, Blackwell rescinded his January directive, and instead proclaimed that counties could purchase touchscreen machines fitted with printers, but that any such machines would need to be certified by the state before May 13th. At that point, machines from Diebold were the only machines that were compliant with HAVA, and the time was too short for any other companies to complete the certification process.

This was too much for election vendor ES&S, who filed a lawsuit seeking an injunction to prevent Blackwell from implementing the May 13th deadline. The suit alleged that Blackwell had breached a previous contract with ES&S to provide election equipment, and that he had conducted secret negotiations outside the normal procurement process with Diebold, thus giving them an unfair advantage. Several different Ohio counties joined the lawsuit, and others may join in soon. ES&S’s AutoMark machine (demonstrated earlier in VNB here) has recently completed final testing for federal certification, and is expected to receive full certification in June of 2005. The company also has a touchscreen-with-printer solution making its way through the certification process, and has an optical-scan machine already certified by state and federal authorities.

There is, as usual, a political dimension to this struggle as well. Blackwell is running for Governor in 2006, and one of his chief rivals is expected to be Attorney General Petro. Secretary Blackwell’s chief aide on the voting-machine purchase, Election Reform Director Judy Grady, asserted in a deposition that she set the deadline to accommodate funding and deployment deadlines and her own vacation schedule and that even though she’d consulted with Norm Cummings, a political consultant overseeing Blackwell’s gubernatorial campaign at least five times between January and April, she had no idea of his position with the campaign. She also had written in an earlier memo that Blackwell’s changes should not be subjected to public hearings, as they would only provide assistance to the Secretary’s political foes.

The Ohio Board of Voting Machine Examiners certified Diebold’s TSX machine on May 10th, even though it had not technically met all the requirements for certification; testing and reporting had been completed, but the National Association of State Election Directors had not yet issued an approval number. The board chose to overlook the fact that the Diebold machine did not produce the full ballot, as required by the legislative rules. Instead, the board chose to accept Diebold’s assurances that the printouts could contain whatever information the officials chose to display. ES&S spokesperson Jill Friedman-Wilson emphasized the importance of the rigor of the certification process, but questioned the arbitrary nature of Secretary Blackwell’s deadline. She said, “Why the rush? Why the creation of an arbitrary sense of panic when there’s plenty of time to do this and do it right?”

posted by digaman at 2:32 PM on April 4, 2006


Given that the government buys voting machines (to the tune of millyuns and millyuns of dollars), and that it's easier to get a monopoly situation when you're dealing with a single party, and that it's even easier when that party actually, you know, owes you one.

If Diebold were fixing the election, don't you think 1 of their 14,500 employees would turn whistleblower? If your theory is they fix elections so the governing party will give them a monopoly, you'd have to agree that's a pretty big risk on the part of the company, no? Wouldn't it just be common sense, then, that Diebold's largest market was in voting machines? Well, that's not the case. Diebold makes far more off of ATMs than they do voting machines.

And aren't voting machines purchased by the state? If Diebold is known to be conspiring with Republicans, why would any Democratic state purchase their machines?

And wouldn't this be like the biggest story ever? Where's the media coverage?

There's simply nothing that would give a reasonable, intellectually functioning person any reason to believe Diebold is a part of vote fixing. That's just nuts.
posted by b_thinky at 2:50 PM on April 4, 2006


dios, you're a lawyer, isn't establishing a pattern of wrongdoing somewhat important?

It can be important, but trying to do that by nitpicking someone on minor details isn't going to help you convince anyone of anything.

I'm not dios by the way. People have gotten us confused, quite shockingly.
posted by delmoi at 2:59 PM on April 4, 2006


b_thinky, are you of the opinion that no vote fraud ever occurs? Because I am pretty sure it happens in every single election, on both sides.

Some media coverage about states concerned that Diebold machines are insecure.
posted by mzurer at 3:10 PM on April 4, 2006


delmoi, WTF? I was responding to this comment.

If you're saying that this article isn't relevant to Blackwell's case (which was dios' argument -- that there was no conflict of interest), I respectfully disagree. He got caught with Diebold stock, and that's indisputably part of the case against him, regardless of the scale of the transgression or whether it overlapped with the election. You're welcome to differ on just how 'minor' a detail that is, but I'll agree to disagree with you on that one.
posted by spiderwire at 3:16 PM on April 4, 2006


And wouldn't this be like the biggest story ever? Where's the media coverage?

As a member of the media, I can tell you: You're terribly naive. A story of the magnitude of Diebold vote-fixing would have to slowly percolate through the up-armored heads of thousands of editors, slowly accruing indisputable evidence, before it would ever get close to being a story in a major magazine or newspaper. If you keep a close eye on this process -- and you evidently haven't -- what's been happening for the last several years is people slowly putting together pieces of a very complicated picture. Do we know what the picture is yet? No. Is this story a small part of the picture? Possibly. Considering the huge number of institutions and people -- from both major parties -- with a vested interest in maintaining the public belief that American presidential elections are honest and unfixable, the pressure not to fully investigate this story is enormous, assisted by a bunch of folks who will gladly chime in with "But that's tinfoil-hat stuff!" when anyone gets near it.
posted by digaman at 3:17 PM on April 4, 2006


digaman, it's "asinine embarrassing tinfoil hat nonsense." Get it right.
posted by spiderwire at 3:19 PM on April 4, 2006


Considering the fact that airing doubts about the true reasons for going to war was dismissed as tinfoil hat nonsense before we rolled into Iraq, I'm pretty immune to that particular rhetorical strategy. The people who have used that phrase the most in the last several years have generally proven to be the most wrong.
posted by digaman at 3:26 PM on April 4, 2006


diga, I was going to include a link to the comment I was referencing but I figured it would be redundant if I did it two comments in a row. ...Obviously wasn't being clear enough.

stupid joke anyway
posted by spiderwire at 3:44 PM on April 4, 2006


Spiderwire, Diga has a point on that last one. The More nonsensical it gets the more likely it is if recent events are any guide, Abu Griab, Guantanamo, Extra ordinary rendition, The repubs top money man involved in what appears to be a mafia hit?


20 years I'm gonna look back fondly on this time and pine about how good the robots have it compared to us...

"Dammit it RX2298N! back in my day we had a thing called free will? Lost it in 08' but we weren't using it anyhow, We were allowed to fret on how bad things were, and liked it! you're lucky you aren't burdened with free will, RX2298N! it just pisses you off in the end." You Robots got it so easy, never having to care...
" Well Back to the Baby Organ Banks. Good bye and Hail Bush III"
posted by Elim at 4:04 PM on April 4, 2006


If you're saying that this article isn't relevant to Blackwell's case (which was dios' argument -- that there was no conflict of interest), I respectfully disagree. He got caught with Diebold stock, and that's indisputably part of the case against him, regardless of the scale of the transgression or whether it overlapped with the election. You're welcome to differ on just how 'minor' a detail that is, but I'll agree to disagree with you on that one.

He didn't "get caught" with it, he disclosed it on an ethics form. There's a big difference. And it's 95 shares, or $5k worth. Why would he risk so much over the price of a nice suit? (As someone mentioned, he'd only make $1k or so profit at most, and ended up losing money)

I think Blackwell is a political sleaze, and I've thought that ever since he tried to throw out thousands of voter registrations because they were printed on paper that wasn't thick enough just a few days before the 2004 election. That's sleazy, and Blackwell is a sleaze.

But that doesn't mean he's a crook, and these shares don't prove that he is. In fact, brining this up in an effort to discredit him does more to undermine your position then bolster it, because it makes you look petty and like you're trying to dig up any dirt you can on the guy, rather then doing an honest appraisal of his character.
posted by delmoi at 4:10 PM on April 4, 2006


Elim: right, I'm agreeing with diga... if you follow the link you'll see the joke I was making.

delmoi: I see your point and I'm not disagreeing, but I couldn't care less if he disclosed it on an ethics form or shouted it from the rooftops. As you say, Blackwell's a sleaze, and even if not every piece of dirt is relevant, I think that it's better to err on the side of caution and mention them and keep them in the public view until the situation is resolved; many ethics violations appear innocent at first glance.

You are certainly free to disagree with me about where the brightline is, and I don't think that I was making a judgment on this specific case.

And again, I wasn't really responding to you... this comment alone is considerably more substantive and useful than dios', which only pointed out that the sale occurred after the '04 elections.
posted by spiderwire at 4:20 PM on April 4, 2006


And again, I wasn't really responding to you... this comment alone is considerably more substantive and useful than dios', which only pointed out that the sale occurred after the '04 elections.

Right, I don't think it matters when the sale was, because it has nothing to do with the election. And if it was larger, then I would consider it evidence of, well, something, because his job is to manage voting in the state.
posted by delmoi at 4:22 PM on April 4, 2006


delmoi, you are confusing the hell out of me. are we disagreeing about something?
posted by spiderwire at 4:24 PM on April 4, 2006


spiderwire, sorry.

To clarify: I agree with you, and disagree with dios that the time of the purchase and sale doesn't matter.
posted by delmoi at 5:05 PM on April 4, 2006


Geez, my last post was pretty confusing too. What I mean is, the fact that the sale happened in 2005 dosn't mean it dosn't matter.

I think the size of the sale means it dosn't matter.
posted by delmoi at 5:09 PM on April 4, 2006


If "mattering" is reduced to a question of how much money the man made from the deal -- as I've been saying all day -- then this story doesn't matter at all. If this story is a small piece of a big picture of a guy in charge of choosing voting technology for his state who appears to be in bed with the company that eventually got the gig... and if the technology they're offering appears to have a lot of security holes in it... then what makes this story matter has nothing to do with money.
posted by digaman at 5:14 PM on April 4, 2006


I figured but was covering my bets, if I err'd this way you'll be more forgiving
posted by Elim at 6:06 PM on April 4, 2006


Now Blackwell has God AND Newt Gingrich on his side. How can he lose?
posted by Otis at 8:30 PM on April 4, 2006


I figured but was covering my bets, if I err'd this way you'll be more forgiving

What is this, calm and rational discourse? What do you think this is, CareBearFilter?
posted by spiderwire at 8:32 PM on April 4, 2006


Blackwell: a little hole for making poo poo
posted by moonbird at 8:37 PM on April 4, 2006


That doesn't even make sense unless you've got some serious digestive problems.

moonbird: an ass with wings.
posted by spiderwire at 1:01 AM on April 5, 2006


Now Blackwell has God AND Newt Gingrich on his side. How can he lose?
posted by Otis at 10:30 PM CST on April 4


Wow, the more I look at NewsMax the more convinced I am it's a subtle parody of Republicans. "Get the attraction secrets the Liberal Media does not want you to know"...?

Hell I don't remember getting any manuals about how to get laid? I'm voting for Jeb, that'll show you damn liberals!!!
posted by Talanvor at 1:08 AM on April 5, 2006


Yeah, that's about what I thought. No response. SHOCKER.
posted by jennaratrix at 6:45 AM on April 5, 2006


Save the outrage for the stuff that _matters_.

But I've used up all the outrage on the stuff that matters, all I have left is this outrage saved in the cap of the upside down bottle.

Outrage HAS a use by date ya know. And I should get some fresh outrage for the 2006 election cycle.
posted by rough ashlar at 6:51 AM on April 5, 2006


Blackwell may be a crooked asshole, but his $5k investment in diebold is not evidence of it.
posted by delmoi at 1:15 PM PST on April 4 [!]


How is it NOT evidence? If it is a small amout of money, you aren't a crook?

Or is it 'If it a stock transaction, it is not crooked'?

I'll agree there is a lack of evidence shown to us at this time. Perhaps others will dig deeper.
posted by rough ashlar at 6:56 AM on April 5, 2006


How is it NOT evidence? If it is a small amout of money, you aren't a crook?

The smaller the amount of money, the more likely it is to be an oversite, and not a deliberate action. So Yes.
posted by delmoi at 6:59 AM on April 5, 2006


If Diebold were fixing the election, don't you think 1 of their 14,500 employees would turn whistleblower?

Don't you think if Enron was fixing its books, 1 of the linemen would have noticed and turned them in?

Well? Where were the linemen?

Because no linemen (and linemen WERE employees at Enron, right?) turned in Enron, there was no wrongdoing.

Right?

How about you go get an education on computer security, then examine what data you can of the Diebold voting machines.

Then ask yourself:
1) Is the diebold voting machine security model based on the idea that all officials involved in the process are honest and trustworthy, or it it based on the world outside the machine is full of attack vectors and all these vectors need to be protected against?
2) If your claim of 'where is the whistlblower' requires diebold staffers to perform the vote total change, or could the change be done by anyone who has physical or remote access to the voting machine?
posted by rough ashlar at 7:05 AM on April 5, 2006


How is it NOT evidence? If it is a small amout of money, you aren't a crook?

The smaller the amount of money, the more likely it is to be an oversite, and not a deliberate action. So Yes.
posted by delmoi at 6:59 AM PST on April 5 [!]


Then why arn't you ALL over the missing 2.3 trillion at the Pentagon?!?!

Because 2.3 trillion seems like a lot to be JUST 'oversite'.
posted by rough ashlar at 7:07 AM on April 5, 2006


If you have the dial-in numbers, it is possible to get at the GEMS computer from anywhere, using RAS. The dial-in protocols are given to poll workers, many people in Diebold have them, lots of temps have them, and the configurations have been sitting on the Internet for several years.

[...]
We asked who was allowed to access the central tabulator, after it was already turned on, and who is given a password and permission to sit at the terminal?

Several officials told us they don't keep a list. Those who did, gave us the names of too many people — County employees (sometimes limited to one or two). Diebold employees. Techs who work for the county, like county database technicians, also get access to GEMS. Printshops who do the ballots have some access also.

Diebold "contractors," who are temporary workers hired by subcontractors to Diebold were also reported to have gained access to the GEMS tabulator. (Diebold accounts payable reports obtained by Black Box Voting indicate that Diebold advertises for temps on Monster.com, hotjobs.com, and uses several temporary employment firms, including Coast to Coast Temporary, Ran Temps Inc., and also works with many subcontractors, like Wright Technologies, Total Technical Services, and PDS Technical Services.)
[cite]

People always talk about the touchscreen side of things, but I think the central tabulators would be a more cost-effective target for any vote-riggers.
posted by sonofsamiam at 7:33 AM on April 5, 2006


b_thinky, you should read the GAO (Government Accountability Office) Sept. 2005 report regarding electronic voting systems.

While electronic voting systems hold promise for a more accurate and efficient election process, numerous entities have raised concerns about their security and reliability, citing instances of weak security controls, system design flaws, inadequate system version control, inadequate security testing, incorrect system configuration, poor security management, and vague or incomplete voting system standards, among other issues.

For example, studies found (1) some electronic voting systems did not encrypt cast ballots or system audit logs, and it was possible to alter both without being detected; (2) it was possible to alter the files that define how a ballot looks and works so that the votes for one candidate could be recorded for a different candidate; and (3) vendors installed uncertified versions of voting system software at the local level. It is important to note that many of the reported concerns were drawn from specific system makes and models or from a specific jurisdiction’s election, and that there is a lack of consensus among election officials and other experts on the pervasiveness of the concerns. Nevertheless, some of these concerns were reported to have caused local problems in federal elections—resulting in the loss or miscount of votes—and therefore merit attention.



Read the full report here.

(I posted this same information in this thread, which contains links to many more articles about the problems with Diebold and other electronic voting systems.)
posted by Fuzzy Monster at 7:48 AM on April 5, 2006


b_thinky: It's important to remember that almost all software is written in a totally hacky and insecure manner. Diebold just took their basic crappy design process and applied it voting machines, creating systems that were incredibly insecure and unauditable.
posted by delmoi at 8:16 AM on April 5, 2006


From today's Columbus Dispatch:

Gene Beaupre, a political scientist at Xavier University in Cincinnati, said he does not think the news will affect the hard-right conservatives who comprise Blackwell’s GOP base, "but if the primary election is close it could be a factor."

"It can’t help him; it can hurt him," Beaupre said. "I think he’s handled it well so far and come clean and said what the story is and tried to move on from it, but certainly his opponents won’t let that happen."

Yesterday, Blackwell spokesman Carlo LoParo downplayed the revelation, calling it "an embarrassment."
But he would not make public any records of the stock trades or the names of Blackwell’s financial manager and accountant, who will face no repercussions. LoParo said that information would be given to the Ethics Commission if requested.

Still, questions linger. Democrats and others question Blackwell’s assertion that he checked his stock holdings only once a year, for example, and why others who might have reviewed the statements for him didn’t notice the conflict.

Herb Asher, an Ohio State University political-science professor emeritus, Democratic activist and former member of the Ethics Commission, said the episode at least makes Blackwell look sloppy or hypocritical. Blackwell has criticized Petro’s ethics as well as the lack of oversight of state investments.

"Even if everything is perfectly legal, it doesn’t pass the sniff test," Asher said.

posted by Otis at 12:51 PM on April 5, 2006


Here's a complete list of Blackwell's holdings.

Dispatch reports today:

Although he opposes potential November ballot initiatives to permit slot machines at Ohio’s horse-racing tracks, Republican gubernatorial candidate J. Kenneth Blackwell holds stock in the world’s leading maker of slot machines.

Blackwell, who opposes abortion rights, also holds stock in Barr Pharmaceuticals, maker of the controversial Plan B, or the morning-after pill, to prevent pregnancy.

posted by Otis at 6:21 AM on April 7, 2006


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