HoR Cmte. Dismisses 4 of 5 House Election Contests
House Admin Committee Unanimously Votes to Dismiss 4 of 5 Federally Contested 2006 House Elections
Hundreds of Sworn Voter Affidavits Collected by Curtis Campaign, Suggesting Inaccurate Counts on Electronic Voting Machines in FL-24 Race Against Feeney, Disregarded as 'Not Enough Evidence'...
BLOGGED BY Brad Friedman ON 5/8/2007 7:47PM
In addition to voting Rep. Rush Holt's dangerous Election Reform bill out of committee today (see this late Tuesday story for details), the U.S. House Administration Committee on Tuesday also unanimously voted to dismiss four of the five U.S. House races from last November which had been challenged in Congress under the Federal Contested Elections Act.
Only the contested Jennings/Buchanan race in Florida's 13th district --- which has gotten a great deal of mainstream media coverage for the 18,000 undervotes recorded by Sarasota's touch-screen voting systems in the election decided by a 369 vote margin --- will move forward. Late last week, the committee voted on party lines to send that contest to the non-partisan Government Accountability Office (GAO) for investigation.
Included in the four dismissals on Tuesday was the contest filed by vote-rigging whistleblower Clint Curtis (D) in his race against (allged vote-rigger) Tom Feeney (R) in Florida's 24th district. Late Monday night we reported that was likely occur.
Tonight, we received some comments from Capitol Hill staffers on the committee's reasons for the dismissals...
Curtis's challenge had been built on sworn voter affidavits collected by campaign volunteers in a door-to-door, precinct-by-precinct canvass. The campaign says the affidavits collected reveal a 12 to 24 point difference, in Curtis's favor, from the final election results as registered by the district's paperless Diebold touch-screen voting systems. Feeney was declared the winner after the election by 16 points, according to the machine-based final tally, despite a Zogby International poll just prior to the election which declared the two candidates to be in a statistical dead heat.
Curtis was never allowed to testify before the committee, nor did they review the "hard evidence" which his campaign claims had revealed that Feeney likely lost the race.
Instead, as one Congressional staffer who works for a committee member explained via email to The BRAD BLOG tonight, "Basically, everyone felt that affidavits aren't enough in a secret ballot election and they didn't have any other evidence."
The Curtis camp was more than dubious of the "secret ballot" explanation for disregarding sworn voter affidavits.
"In an election where the source code is proprietary, the only reliable way to evaluate the election system, is by voter affidavits," Curtis said after hearing of today's dismissal.
Now we don't claim to be an attorney, but our understanding is that sworn affidavits are acceptable for use in most American courts of law. Yet, in this case, hundreds of such sworn affidavits from voters are seen as "not enough" --- even as prima facea evidence to suggest that further investigation is warranted.
So if sworn affidavits are not enough, and the candidates are not given access to the voting machines suspected of failing, or the source code for the software used on those machines, and there are no existing "paper trails" whatsoever (for what little that would be worth), we're left scratching our head wondering what "evidence" would be humanly available to anyone, ever, in such a contest.
Short of a video tape of Tom Feeney himself, actively rigging the district's voting machines in his favor, what "evidence" could possibly exist if Congress will not allow for a legitimate, independent investigation of the voting systems and source code used on them?
In other words, by both disallowing the use of sworn affidavits and failing to give candidates access to the machines as they have requested, it seems that there is no way in the WORLD that any candidate could ever successfully challenge such an election.
Worse still, the same House committee today also voted in favor of an Election Reform bill, now on its way to the House floor, which would allow for the continued use of such unverifiable electronic voting systems, along with the same, legalized lack of disclosed source code.
As BRAD BLOG commenter "Dredd" pointed out earlier today:
[T]he federal courts follow the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure that congress fashions.
I will simply mention the seminal case of Conley v Gibson, 355 US 41 (1957), where the Supreme Court held:
"In appraising the sufficiency of the complaint we follow, of course, the accepted rule that a complaint should not be dismissed for failure to state a claim unless it appears beyond doubt that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of his claim which would entitle him to relief".
Clearly Curtis had such a "set of facts in support of his claim" and such facts should have allowed for further investigation of the matter. There may well have been further evidence. But it was in the machines. And either Curtis or other investigators, such as the GAO, should have been given access to material in order to determine whether or not there was further evidence in support of the set of facts which Curtis offered to the Committee.
In response to some of these points, the staffer wrote to us: "I agree about the reasoning for why there's no other evidence but without it, there was nothing we could do. You just can't expect people to tell you who they voted for to your face and use that in court."
We respectfully dissent from that opinion. At least until someone explains to us how else such a challenge could ever be made given the system at play in the Florida elections.
We also are left continuing to wonder exactly what it will take before Democrats come to understand what is going on here, and what is truly at stake in the ongoing fight for Election Integrity in America.
The other unanimously dismissed contests were: Russell v. Brown-Waite (FL–5), Gonzalez v. Diaz-Balart, Lincoln (FL–21) and Cox v. McCrery (LA–4).