My Polling Place at 7 AM, Election Day 2012

I was voter #36 voter in my election district on the Upper West Side of Manhattan this morning. It was a thrill to vote for President Obama, having earlier voted for him when he was still “Senator” Obama. Now I’m free to volunteer at the local campaign office during the day. Here’s what my polling place on W. 103rd Street, the lobby of an apartment building, looked like this morning.

Unsettling Report on Last-Minute Installation of New Vote Reporting Software in Ohio

Tuesday Update: The AP’s reporting today that U.S District Court Judge Gregory Frost has refused to hear the lawsuit brought by Ohioans Bob Fitrakis and Gerry Bello over the last-minute installation of new vote reporting software by Secretary of State Jon Husted. Husted’s conduct throughout the campaign has been despicable.

Evening Update: TheBradBlog’s post, which I’d linked to earlier today, has been cross-published in I’m glad to see this puzzling matter of Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted’s installation of new vote reporting software getting noticed before voting day tomorrow.

Just saw this tweet from indie journalist Dan Gillmor alerting his followers to this post on the Brad blog about a new piece of software that Ohio Secretary of State John Husted has installed very recently into Ohio’s vote tabulating system. I quickly retweeted Gillmor’s tweet. Here are the first eight paragraphs from Brad Friedman’s post, with links to earlier reporting on this story:

“Last week, Bob Fitrakis and Gerry Bello at reported an important story concerning what they described as “uncertified ‘experimental’ software patches” being installed at the last minute on electronic vote tabulation systems in 39 Ohio counties.

The story included a copy of the contract [PDF] between Republican Ohio Sec. of State Jon Husted’s office and ES&S, the nation’s largest e-voting system manufacturer, for a new, last minute piece of software created to the custom specifications of the Sec. of State. The contract itself describes the software as ‘High-level enhancements to ES&S’ election reporting software that extend beyond the current features and functionality of the software to facilitate a custom-developed State Election Results Reporting File.’

A subsequent story at The Free Press the following day included text said to be from a November 1 memo sent from the OH SoS Election Counsel Brandi Laser Seske to a number of state election officials confirming the use of the new, uncertified software on Ohio’s tabulator systems. The memo claims that ‘its function is to aid in the reporting of results” by converting them “into a format that can be read by the Secretary of State’s election night reporting system.’

On Friday evening, at Huffington Post, journalist Art Levine followed up with a piece that, among other things, advanced the story by breaking the news that Fitrakis and his attorney Cliff Arnebeck were filing a lawsuit for an immediate injunction against Husted and ES&S to ‘halt the use of secretly installed, unauthorized ‘experimental’ software in 39 counties’ tabulators’. Levine also reported that Arnebeck had referred the matter to the Cincinnati FBI for criminal investigation of what the Ohio attorney describes as ‘a flagrant violation of the law.’

‘Before you add new software, you need approval of a state board,’ says Arnebeck. ‘They are installing an uncertified, suspect software patch that interfaces between the county’s vote tabulation equipment and state tabulators.’ Arnebeck’s alarm is understandable.

Since the story initially broke, I’ve been trying to learn as much as I could about what is actually going on here. During that time, a few in the mainstream media have gotten wind of the story as well, including NBC News and CNN, and have been able to press Husted and other officials in his office into finally responding to the concerns publicly. The Ohio officials have attempted to downplay the concerns, though in doing so, they appear to have given misleading information which, at times, seems to conflict even with the contract itself.

I’ve also spoken to computer scientists and election integrity experts, in trying to make sense of all of this, though many of them seem to be scratching their heads as well. My own queries to the Sec. of State’s office have gone unanswered, as had Fitrakis’ and Bello’s before they published their initial story, begging the question as to why, if this software is as benign as Ohio officials are suggesting, they didn’t respond immediately to say as much. Furthermore, why did they keep the contract a secret? Why did they wait until just before the election to have this work done? And why did they feel it was appropriate to circumvent both federal and state testing and certification programs for the software in the bargain?

And, just to pre-respond to those supposed journalists who have shown a proclivity for reading comprehension issues, let me be clear: No, this does not mean I am charging that there is a conspiracy to rig or steal the Ohio election. While there certainly could be, if there is, I don’t know about it, nor am I charging there is any such conspiracy at this time. The secretive, seemingly extra-legal way in which SoS Husted’s office is going about whatever it is they are trying to do, however, at the very last minute before the election, along with the explanations they’ve given for it to date, and concerns about similar cases in the past, in both Ohio and elsewhere, are certainly cause for any reasonable skeptic or journalist to be suspect and investigate what could be going on. And so I am…”

I will be watching for updates on this story, especially the lawsuit filed by Fitrakis and Arnebeck that’s been filed seeking an injunction to prevent use of the new software. The odious Mr. Husted is also in court today, with national DEMs trying to prevent him from enacting an onerous burden on voters who use provisional ballots. A ruling is expected on that before voting day tomorrow.

What Some of Mitt’s Supporters Think about President Obama

If you’re an Obama voter and feeling strong about the election right now, you may want to brave this 8-minute video filled mostly with interviews of Romney supporters on the edges of a recent rally in Ohio. The event was last week, the one where the Repub first uttered his lie about Jeep moving production to China. Later, the metal singer Meat Loaf endorsed Romney, all at this one rally. It’s scary, the people are possessed with a sort of cultic hatred of President Obama, and parrot many lines of critique against him. When the deft interviewer, from an organization called, asks them for evidence to support their claims, they often can’t summon additional words. This tape captures a fever dream of the right-wing, and shows the contempt for the president that Romney’s tapped into and amplified during his campaign. Most frightening interview subject is the woman in pink who shriekingly insists the president’s a Muslim and that his father was a Muslim, atheist, and communist, all rolled into one.

H/T Josh Marshall at TPM, who posted this on his site tonight. It’s disturbing but ought to have a wide viewing. If the president does win re-election, these people are going to refuse acknowledgement of his presidency in a second term even more vociferously than they’ve done during his first. It’s a scary thought.

“We Know What Real Change Looks Like & We Can’t Give Up Now”

Back on the campaign trail this morning, President Obama is making a forceful closing argument for his re-election. The remarks in the video below were just delivered at a rally in Green Bay, WI, under the rubric “We Know What Real Change Looks Like & We Can’t Give Up Now”. For convenience, I’ve also pasted in a transcript of his talk. Key passage: “After four years as president, you know me by now. You may not agree with every decision I’ve made. You may be frustrated at the pace of change, but you know what I believe. You know where I stand. You know I’m willing to make tough decisions even when they’re not politically convenient, and you know I’ll fight for you and your families every single day as hard as I know how. You know that. I know what change looks like because I have fought for it. You have too. After all we’ve been through together, we sure as heck can’t give up now.”

“Now, in the closing weeks of this campaign,  Governor Romney has been using all his talents as a salesman to dress up these very same policies that failed our country so badly, the very same policies we’ve been cleaning up after for the past four years, and he is offering them up as change. He is saying he is the candidate of change. Well, let me tell you, Wisconsin, we know what change looks like. What the Governor is offering sure ain’t change. Getting more power back to the biggest banks isn’t change. Leaving millions without health insurance isn’t change. Another $5 trillion tax cut that favors the wealthy isn’t change. Turning Medicare into a voucher is change, but we don’t want that change. Refusing to answer questions about the details of your policies isn’t change. Ruling out compromise by pledging to rubber stamp the tea party’s agenda as president, that’s definitely not change. In fact, that’s exactly the attitude in Washington that needs to go.

Here’s the thing, Wisconsin. After four years as president, you know me by now. You may not agree with every decision I’ve made. You may be frustrated at the pace of change, but you know what I believe. You know where I stand. You know I’m willing to make tough decisions even when they’re not politically convenient, and you know I’ll fight for you and your families every single day as hard as I know how. You know that. I know what change looks like because I have fought for it. You have too. After all we’ve been through together, we sure as heck can’t give up now. Change is a country where Americans of every age have the skills and education that good jobs now require. Government can’t do this alone, but don’t tell me that hiring more teachers won’t help this economy grow or help young people compete. Don’t tell me that students who can’t afford college can just borrow money from their parents. That wasn’t an option for me. I’ll bet it wasn’t an option for a whole lot of you. We shouldn’t be ending college tax credits to pay for millionaires’ tax cuts. We should be making college more affordable for everyone who is willing to work for it. We should recruit 100,000 math and science teachers so that high-tech, high-wage jobs aren’t created in China. They’re created right here in Green Bay, Wisconsin. We should work with community colleges to claim another two million Americans with skills that businesses are looking for right now. That’s my plan for the future. That’s what change is. That’s the America we’re fighting for in this election.”

Mitt’s Desperate Moves in Ohio Draw Rebuke from Chrysler/Now GM Too

No sooner had I posted and shared my first post this afternoon on the latest of Mitt’s bogus claims on the auto bailout than Greg Sargent posted the audio of an obnoxious new Romney radio ad with a new version of the Jeep-moving-production-to-China lie.

So I’d posted on the rebuke Mitt Romney had drawn from Chrysler, first reported on by the Detroit News. Now I see that even GM is weighing in on the matter, in tweets below. Romney’s over-the-top rhetoric and false caricature of what the automakers know to be the truth about the auto rescue, and their dealings with China, has both companies burned. Mitt the businessman is showing himself given to alienating fellow businesspersons.  He went to London, and insulted the British–now he’s pissing off his own crowd, corporations and their chief officers, for the improbability of scoring some political points less than a week before Election Day. He’s not only lying about his opponent, President Obama, but also making up such crap about the carmakers that they’re mad at him, and taking the unusual step of getting involved in a potentially partisan political spat.

This then from TPM, in a story about how badly the Jeep malarkey is playing with voters, the mainstream political press, like Ron Fournier of the AP, and now the car makers. The tweets below are from David Shepardson, whose Detroit News reporting I also quoted in the first of this afternoon’s posts. I’m following him now, as his Twitter feed is great on all this stuff.

“Update: GM isn’t happy with Romney’s suggestion that the auto rescue benefitted China over America, either. Via Detroit News reporter David Sherpardson:

David Shepardson@davidshepardson
GM responds to new Romney radio ad: “At this stage, we’re looking at a Hubble telescope-length distances between campaign ads and reality”
30 Oct 12 ReplyRetweetFavorite
David Shepardson@davidshepardson
More GM on Romney ad: “GM’s creating jobs in the US and repatriating profits back to this country should be a source of bipartisan pride”
30 Oct 12 ReplyRetweetFavorite

Mitt’s Desperate Moves in Ohio Draw Rebuke from Chrysler

The Romney campaign’s lies, deceptions, and sneaky messaging over the auto bailout are going beyond anything that many political professionals had thought possible. Last Friday Mitt conflated a Bloomberg wire story on Fiat setting up some Chinese factories to make Jeeps for China into ‘Jeep’s moving all US production to China,’ then getting roundly called out for the inaccuracy. However, over the weekend the campaign ignored calls for a simple correction to the record. Worse, they made clear that a correction wold not be forthcoming by releasing a TV ad using the same bogus claim. This promptly drew an ad from the Obama campaign rebuking them for their dishonesty and for trying especially to scare voters in Toledo, Ohio, where Jeep’s top U.S. manufacturing is based. Now, the Romney campaign has gone ever further by re-purposing the TV spot in to a radio ad.

Additionally, the Chrysler corporation has found it necessary to wade in to the mix, with Detroit News auto industry reporters David Shepardson and Bryce Hoffman reporting this today:

“Chrysler Group LLC CEO Sergio Marchionne rejected an assertion from Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney that Chrysler is planning on moving Jeep production to China.

‘I feel obliged to unambiguously restate our position: Jeep production will not be moved from the United States to China,’ Marchionne said in an email to employees Tuesday, a copy of which was obtained by The Detroit News.

In fact, he said the company will continue to expand Jeep manufacturing in this country.

‘Jeep is one of our truly global brands with uniquely American roots. This will never change. So much so that we committed that the iconic Wrangler nameplate, currently produced in our Toledo, Ohio, plant, will never see full production outside the United States,” Marchionne said. “Jeep assembly lines will remain in operation in the United States and will constitute the backbone of the brand. It is inaccurate to suggest anything different.’ .  . . .  [emphasis mine]

The Obama campaign began running an ad Tuesday in Toledo calling Romney’s ad a ‘lie.’

Both sides are making a big issue of Jeep in China because of how important Ohio is. They are trying to sway blue-collar voters in auto towns across the Buckeye State.

Marchionne said the Auburn Hills automaker is ‘investing to improve and expand our entire U.S. operations, including our Jeep facilities.’

He noted the company plans to ‘invest more than $1.7 billion to develop and produce the next-generation Jeep SUV, the successor of the Jeep Liberty — including $500 million directly to tool and expand our Toledo Assembly Complex, and will be adding about 1,100 jobs on a second shift by 2013.’

In Detroit, at the Jefferson North Assembly Plant, Chrysler has created 2,000 jobs since June 2009 and has invested more than $1.8 billion to build its Jeep Grand Cherokee.

However, Marchionne said the company does plan to add additional production capacity in China to build Jeeps for the Chinese market.

‘(W)e are working to establish a global enterprise and previously announced our intent to return Jeep production to China, the world’s largest auto market, in order to satisfy local market demand, which would not otherwise be accessible,’ Marchionne said. ‘Chrysler Group is interested in expanding the customer base for our award-winning Jeep vehicles, which can only be done by establishing local production. This will ultimately help bolster the Jeep brand and solidify the resilience of U.S. jobs.'”

Ohio newspapers, including the Cleveland Plain Dealer and the Toledo Blade have condemned the Romney campaign for this series of deceptions, but they have refused to correct the record, instead compounding the lies. The Plain Dealer editorialized, “Mitt Romney is desperate to convince Ohio voters that he’s the candidate most committed to the U.S. auto industry–no matter how much confusion he must sow to do it.” Glenn Kessler, the Washington Post’s Fact-Checker assigned Mitt’s claims his dreaded “Four Pinocchios.” It’s clear that the Romney campaign–whose first TV ad last spring attacked President Obama by falsely attributing words of John McCain’s to the president–will be ending their campaign much as they began it. Romney’s bogus Jeep claim is the apotheosis of all his lies.

It’s a “Lie”–the Obama Camp Goes There in Their Response to Mitt’s Bogus Jeep Claim

That didn’t take long. The Obama campaign has an ad up, in response to Mitt’s claim-–which the Romney campaign recycled in to a new ad, even after it was promptly debunked-–that Chrysler is moving production of Jeeps from Toledo, Ohio, to China. This all about Romney’s untenable position on the auto bailout-–he never supported it and now he’s trying to obscure his opposition. Worth noting too, as TPM reports, that many mainstream political reporters have been panning their latest transparent malarkey.

In Repub Primary Mitt Said Disaster Funding Should Be Sent Back to the States & Private Sector

During the Republican primary Mitt Romney made clear that favors de-funding FEMA and allowing states and the private sector to handle all disaster relief. This is a very telling video clip. H/T publishing friend Jill Ripley Hughes for sharing this clip tonight.