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Archive for October, 2012

Coconino County Election Security In Doubt

October 28, 2012 12 comments

By Elisha Dorfsmith

As November 6th quickly approaches, voters across the country are expressing concerns about voter fraud and ballot security on election day. States with early voting have already produced several examples of voting irregularities and voting machine malfunctions. With the 2012 presidential race promising to be very close, voters in some parts of the country are understandably nervous that their vote may not get counted.

While it should be expected for people in battleground states to be on edge during a heated election cycle, the integrity of vote tabulation should be a priority for every engaged American citizen. The presidential election receives the bulk of the press but it’s the small races that are often decided by a handful of votes.

Concerns have recently been voiced by several citizens and candidates in Coconino County who have produced examples of what they see as holes in the security of the vote counting process.

The Coconino County Elections office was recently the subject of a report written by Rob Wilson, a vote counting observer volunteering for the Jeff Oravits for Flagstaff City Council campaign. Oravits easily won his election but Wilson found a long list of red flags and statute violations during his time at the vote counting facility. Wilson turned his report over to Councilman Oravits and Oravits presented it to the Flagstaff City Council, Coconino County Board of Supervisors and the County Elections office.

The full report can be found here:

http://www.flagindiepress.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/Voting-Issues-for-EDs-publishing-1.pdf

Some of Wilson’s findings include:

1. Page 107, Political Party Observer Guidelines, Paragraph 4, states :

“Political party observers may take notes at a polling place, central counting place or sample hand count but must use a writing implement of a color designated by the office in charge of the election or procedure”.

“During the in briefing, this requirement was not identified.  Numerous observers were present with a variety of writing implements which could have been used to mark a ballot.”

Wilson tells Flagstaff Independent Press:

“Since observers ARE affiliated with a candidate/party, they may be inclined to make a few ballot marks themselves.  This rule would prevent observers from having a black writing instrument that would allow them to tamper with ballots.”

2. Page 108, Political Party Observer Guidelines, Paragraph 5, states:

“At a central counting place, all political party observers must check in with the county recorder or officer in charge of elections prior to being admitted as a political party observer, and log in and out of the facility each time they enter or leave.”

“None of the observers were required to log in or out of the facility.”

Wilson tells Flagstaff Independent Press:

“Basic security rule, in a secure space (which the vote counting area is supposed to be) you have to know who is there that requires supervision.  Any observer should not be left alone in that area and the only way to know who is and is not in the area is a log.”

4. Page 152, Live Video of Ballot Tabulation, first paragraph states:

“The live video recording shall include date and time indicators and shall be linked to the Secretary of State’s website.”

“The time indicator on the video was incorrect by approximately 4 minutes.  Note: The quality and refresh rate of the streamed video is so poor that it does not meet the intent of providing online monitoring of the vote counting process.”

Wilson tells Flagstaff Independent Press:

“This was implemented to provide the public with a way to observe what is happening.  If the time code on the video isn’t accurate, how do we know what we’re observing?  The video is also recorded and since it’s time and the time of the counting system is different, it would make it difficult to find the video of suspect events identified in the computer system.  This was one I pointed out to them and they didn’t care, did nothing to remedy.  Example of the lack of concern about the overall integrity of the process.”

7. Page 153, Early Ballot Board, first paragraph states:

“If the County Recorder or other officer in charge of elections who is making the signature comparison makes the initial determination that the signatures on the early ballot affidavit and the voter’s registration were not made by the same person, the County Recorder shall furnish a copy of the voter’s voter registration form to the early ballot board. The early ballot board, if time permits, may attempt to contact the voter to ascertain whether the voter actually voted the early ballot and any reasons why the signatures may not match.”

“Ms. Owens informed me that she personally and others on her staff research inconsistencies of signatures and make the determination to include or not include the ballot in counting, not the early ballot board.”

Wilson tells Flagstaff Independent Press:

“This leaves the decision on what ballots to accept and reject up to Ms. Owens versus the Election Board as directed in the rules.  She could choose to pursue resolving problems with some ballots (of a particular party) and not others.  The Election Board is supposed to be non-partisan and made up of at least 4 people so that won’t happen.”

12. Ms. Owens stated that during polling place elections, she has specifically authorized a single individual to transport Ballots from a remote polling place to the Election Warehouse in violation of State Law.  She stated that this is done as a cost savings measure.

Wilson tells Flagstaff Independent Press:

“Control of those voted ballots is critical.  Ms. Owens admission that she authorized this makes it even more troubling.  Neither she nor Ms. Hansen should have EVER allowed this to happen.  There is no way to ensure the integrity of those ballots when only one person has custody.”

16. Both Ms. Owens and Mr. Grassmuck explained to me that although they knew that a USB Memory Stick was not part of the State of Arizona certified computer hardware, they were none the less going to continue using it for the sake of convenience.  While using this device may save a few moments of time, it is also possible to completely corrupt the system or introduce a virus by doing so.  

Wilson tells Flagstaff Independent Press:

“By continuing to use a USB device knowing full well it violates the integrity of the vote counting system, they jeopardize the entire election result.”

In all, Wilson identified 16 major problems at the Coconino County vote counting facility.

For further reading on election rules and regulations please see the Arizona Elections Manual:

http://www.azsos.gov/election/Electronic_Voting_System/manual.pdf

Councilman Oravits takes the findings of Wilson’s report very seriously. In a statement to Flagstaff Independent Press he said:

“I am very concerned about the alleged violations Mr. Wilson observed while monitoring the Coconino County Elections last May. We need to ensure the integrity of the election process and make sure the system and those in charge of it are accountable so that every vote counts.”

If a casual untrained observer like Wilson can find so many problems with only a few hours of observation, it is easy to imagine what might surface with a full scale investigation into the integrity of our vote tabulation process in Coconino County. Many believe a full investigation is long overdue.

Coconino County is no stranger to accusations of questionable activity and election problems at their vote counting facility. On April 18, 2012, forensic elections professional Jim March prepared post election analysis on behalf of Flagstaff mayoral candidate Paul Reilly who had a very poor showing in the primary. Many claimed that Reilly was simply being a sore loser for not accepting the election results at face value but at least some of his concerns appear to be valid and deserve a more thorough investigation.

Ballot security and accurate vote counts are essential in a free society. Election concerns in Coconino County need to be looked into and addressed as quickly and openly as possible in order to restore the faith of the voting public in the election process. County voters should contact the City of Flagstaff and the County Board of Supervisors and demand that our voting system be above reproach.

flagstafflibertyalliance.com

Russell Means 1939-2012

October 22, 2012 1 comment

By Elisha Dorfsmith

Frequent readers of my blog know that I occasionally quote libertarian activist Russell Means in my posts. Today I was saddened to hear that Russell Means had passed away at the age of 72 from inoperable esophageal cancer.

Means lived an incredible life that included fighting for Native American rights, acting in films and running an aggressive campaign against Ron Paul in 1987 for the Libertarian party nomination for president.

Often controversial but highly respected, the influence Russell Means had on the liberty movement was enormous. He will be missed.

“Indian Policy” has now been brought down upon the American people, and the American people are the new Indians of the 21st century.” –Russell Means

Here is Russell Means in Welcome To The Reservation

flagstafflibertyalliance.com

Taxpayer Funded United Way Endorses School Bond

October 22, 2012 4 comments

By Elisha Dorfsmith

For years I have been complaining about the hundreds of thousands of tax dollars the City of Flagstaff gives to the general fund of the United Way of Northern Arizona. The City insists that we must offer up this money because United Way provides core services that the City cannot provide. I guess one of those “core services” is supporting unnecessary school bonds.

The Flagstaff Unified School District Bond informational pamphlet contains the following quote from Kerry Blume, President & CEO of United Way of Northern Arizona:

“United Way of Northern Arizona (UWNA) believes education is a cornerstone of individual and community success. The benefits of education are fundamental to our community’s long-term prosperity and will provide our children with higher earning potential as adults.

Flagstaff Unified School District currently needs your support with a bond election on November 6, 2012. By voting Yes you will help ensure FUSD has the books, technology, facilities and support it needs to make sure each student is successful.

The UWNA Board of Directors is strongly committed to sustaining and improving the quality of education in our region. We urge you to vote YES on the Flagstaff Unified School District Bond.”

I find it unacceptable that a private charity that gets $300,000 a year from the City of Flagstaff publicly takes positions on ballot questions.

It’s time to stop sending our tax dollars to United Way!!!

flagstafflibertyalliance.com

Rand Paul, Gary Johnson and Atlas Shrugged

October 21, 2012 Leave a comment

By Elisha Dorfsmith

From time to time I try to update my readers on what I’m reading, watching and listening to. Below is my take on three recent titles that you may find interesting.

Government Bullies by Senator Rand Paul

If you think you live in a free country think again! In his second book since being elected Senator, Rand Paul takes on one unaccountable government agency after another showing how our supposed free country imprisons, fines and flat out ruins the lives of innocent everyday Americans.

Those of us in the liberty movement often hear people arguing with us say “if I’m doing nothing wrong then I have nothing to be afraid of.”  This book gives you tons of ammunition to combat that kind of thinking by giving example after example of people who thought they were doing everything right and legal and ended up paying a big price.

Rand sets his sites on a long list of offenders from the EPA to the Lacey Act to the TSA, FDA and USDA. We literally cannot turn around without being bullied by some liberty trampling government agency and it’s getting worse. The big question: at what point will Americans say enough is enough?

Many in the liberty movement have turned their back on Rand Paul because they feel that with his endorsement of Romney he turned his back on them. Government Bullies proves that love him or hate him, Rand is one of the good guys and will continue to be a champion of liberty for years to come.

Forward by Ron Paul is an added bonus.

Seven Principles Of Good Government by Gary Johnson

Some of the more fascist members of the Republican party would tell you that you should not read this book or even mention the unspeakable name of Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson.

As an elected Republican PC I have been yelled at for attending and reporting on Gary Johnson events and rallies and being in possession of a signed copy of this book.

How dare we read what we want to read, associate with who we want to associate with and say what we want to say. We cannot allow this kind of freedom in America. But enough of the Republican establishment nonsense.

Seven Principles of Good Government is not at all what I expected when I first picked it up. It reads like a biographical self help manual and the blurry pictures inside give it the feeling of a cheap self published book. It looks like it was thrown together in a hurry. That said, it’s an enjoyable read and very insightful.

The Libertarian candidate gives us a very intimate look into the life of a popular former two term Republican Governor who is not afraid to do things differently and think outside the box. Johnson has a great track record and is a very intelligent guy who knows what it takes to be a leader. I certainly hope that he will help lead the Libertarian Party back to their libertarian principles (Libertarians lost a lot of credibility with the Barr/ Root ticket in 2008).

Despite it’s many shortcomings, this book succeeds at it’s main mission of spreading the message of freedom and liberty. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Atlas Shrugged Part II

Very hyped by conservative, tea party and libertarian groups, Atlas Shrugged Part II hit theaters this month to mixed reviews in much the same way Part I was received. The movies, like the book, have acquired a large cult following and that following seems to be growing.

The critics are also growing although unfortunately, they seem to be more intent on criticizing the philosophy behind the movies rather than the films themselves. There is plenty of room for legitimate reviewer criticism.

Atlas Shrugged II has the same low quality B movie feel that Part I had even with it’s bigger budget and better production. I get the impression that the filmmakers were purposefully going out of their way to keep the low budget atmosphere intact. Many scenes and a lot of the dialogue comes across as awkward and lighting and camera shots seem off at times.

The biggest difference between the first and second installment is the fact that the cast has changed and that this time around they had an advertising budget to promote the film and help get it into more theaters.

One thing that has always amused me about the Ayn Rand phenomena and especially the Atlas Shrugged movies is how well Christian conservatives and evangelicals have embraced them. It seems that many people have no idea how Ayn Rand and her philosophy of Objectivism felt about religion. At one point in the film a character (in a fun shout out to Rand’s atheism) says something like “maybe we should pray.”  I found confused Christian reviews that actually said these films encouraged prayer. Another theme throughout the films (although not as prevalent as in the book) is the celebration of adultery. As a non-religious viewer I find the paradox very amusing.

Atlas Shrugged is a brilliant book that deserves so much more than these movies have to offer. Maybe someday someone will do it justice and create a truly worthy film. For now, enjoy it for what it is, a fun (sometimes fun to make fun of) movie that shows how a massive out of control government can destroy everything that makes a country great. And then look around and ask yourself if the exact same thing could be happening in real life. Who is John Galt?

flagstafflibertyalliance.com

How Will I Be Voting On November 6th?

October 18, 2012 2 comments

By Elisha Dorfsmith

It’s that time of year again where emails and calls start pouring in asking how I plan to vote this election cycle. If you’ve received your early ballot you know that this year our ballot is packed full of candidates, propositions and local bond measures.

Before I get started with my choices, I want to bring your attention to two great local blogs that have gone into detail on many of the propositions and bonds:

Understanding The Legislation

Jeff Oravits Blog

As always, don’t take my word for anything. Do your own research and come to your own conclusions. We may disagree on some of these but my biggest hope is that my readers will cast an educated vote knowing exactly what and who they are voting for.

Here’s how I plan to vote:

Ballot Propositions

Prop 114 YES

Prop 115 NO

Prop 116 YES

Prop 117 NO

Prop 118 YES

Prop 119 NO

Prop 120 YES

Prop 121 NO

Prop 204 NO

FUSD School Bond

Bond Question No. 1 NO

City Of Flagstaff Ballot Questions

Ballot Question 405 NO

Ballot Question 406 NO

Most of you know or can guess who I’m voting for as far as the candidates go. For the record, I have publicly endorsed:

Chester Crandell for State Senate LD6

Bob Thorpe and Brenda Barton for State Representative LD6

Jared Holland for School Board (FUSD)

For further reading please see:

Libertarian, Green parties: Proposition 121 would put us out of business!

Top Two Proves To Be A Disaster In California

Endorsement: Chester Crandell For State Senate LD-6

flagstafflibertyalliance.com

Supreme Court Could End My Business This Month

October 11, 2012 5 comments

By Elisha Dorfsmith

First they came for the medical marijuana and I said nothing because I don’t use medical marijuana. Then they came for the raw milk and I said nothing because I don’t drink raw milk. Then they came for the used books…

As many of you know, I have been a used book dealer for the past 10 years selling tens of thousands of books to customers around the world on ebay and Amazon through my website www.dorfsmith.com

It’s not the highest paying job out there but it does help get the bills paid and it gives me the opportunity to work from home which allows me to homeschool my 9-year-old son.

But all of this could change later this month when the United States Supreme Court rules on a high profile case that could put an end to the sale of the majority of used items I sell.  Kirtsaeng v. John Wiley & Sons would make it illegal to sell anything that was manufactured outside of the United States…unless the seller is given permission by the copyright holder.

MarketWatch columnist Jennifer Waters explains just how far this decision could reach in an article titled Your Right To Resell Your Own Stuff Is In Peril:

“It could be your personal electronic devices or the family jewels that have been passed down from your great-grandparents who immigrated from Spain. It could be a book that was written by an American writer but printed and bound overseas, or an Italian painter’s artwork.”

OK, so when was the last time you saw something that said “Made In The United States”? Exactly.  So here’s what we have to look forward to if the Supreme Court upholds this case:

No more ebay, no more yard sales, no more used book stores, no more thrift stores, no more antique stores, no more used car dealerships, no more pawn shops, etc. etc. This decision could be the single biggest job killer in American history.

The fact that this case is even hanging over our heads just proves that government has the power to take away your whole life and livelihood with one court decision or simply the stroke of a pen. People wonder why I fight so hard for freedom. I fight because our lives depend on it. It’s not a fun political game. Everything is at stake.

flagstafflibertyalliance.com

FUSD Schools Get Political As Voting Nears

October 8, 2012 Leave a comment

By Elisha Dorfsmith

Parents of children at several local district Schools are receiving phone calls from their child’s school reminding them to register to vote before the October 9th deadline. The calls also tell parents that there are several very important education issues on the ballot and to pay very close attention to those issues. While these calls do not encourage people to vote a certain way, they do cross into a legal gray area when it comes to campaign laws and restrictions.

This is not the first time schools in the district have decided to get political. A couple years ago when FUSD was pushing for a tax override, the PAC supporting the override was caught handing out signs and bumper stickers on school property. A concerned parent reported the campaign effort to the County elections office and the district received a slap on the wrist.

This year, a newly formed PAC called YES for FUSD also ran into trouble with the County elections office when it was discovered that their website and signs did not comply with state law to include the required “Paid For By” disclaimer.

The district and political action committees are campaigning very aggressively for the following items on the November 6 election ballot:

A $21 million dollar “capital improvements” bond for buses, technology and investment into facilities.

Supporters say that this bond is essential to maintaining quality education in Flagstaff.

Opponents point to mismanagement in the past of district funds including transferring equipment/maintenance money to support salaries of administrators.  They also say that huge drops in enrollment have paved the way for school closures that should be saving the district money in the “capital improvement” category.

Prop 204 which will permanently extend the 1 cent sales tax that Governor Jan Brewer promoted and encouraged voters to approve in 2010.

Supporters say that this tax extension is critical for education in Arizona.

Opponents point out that the money is earmarked for many things that are not education related including giving one hundred million dollars a year to the “state infrastructure fund”.

flagstafflibertyalliance.com

Categories: Education, FUSD, New Media, Politics
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