CLAIMS OF VOTER SUPPRESSION FALSE

HOUSTON, TX. February 27, 2013  True the Vote (TTV), the leading national, nonpartisan voters’ rights and election integrity organization, today issued a report detailing the true impacts of voter suppression in 2012 in a report titled, “The 2012 Voter Suppression Myth.”

Catherine Engelbrecht, president of True the Vote, expressed deep skepticism about alleged reports of widespread voter suppression in the 2012 elections following TTV’s investigation of six key states’ county clerks and board of elections reports.

“After submitting open records inquiries across the nation, True the Vote found a grand total of one recorded complaint, in Maryland,” True the Vote President Catherine Engelbrecht said. “Peddlers of the voter suppression narrative were quick to report that hundreds of thousands of votes were suppressed in places like Florida, Ohio and North Carolina. If that is true, why is there no evidence of a single citizen filing a formal complaint in those states?”

True the Vote selected six states (Ohio, Florida, North Carolina, Colorado, Nevada and Maryland) based on their battleground status in presidential elections and demographic shifts for the study. Open records requests for any and all reports of voter suppression were sent to county clerks and boards of elections. The report shows that out of these states, only one “alleged” report was ever filed resembling voter suppression.

“Our goal is for free, fair and transparent elections for all Americans. However we must be mindful of the real intent of some groups who are pushing the voter suppression narrative in 2012,” Engelbrecht said. “Partisan interest groups vigorously pushed the suppression line on two fronts. Democratic voters were threatened with loss of civil rights should they fail to appear at the polls. Administrators and concerned citizens wanting to serve in the polls were accused of having racist motives should they dare to strive for an accountable and efficient election experience.”

In addition, True the Vote studied the impacts of photo voter identification requirements – often described as codified voter suppression tactics. Data analysis demonstrated that almost all states with such requirements saw an increase in voter turnout, compared to 2008.

“Georgia is known to have the ‘strictest’ photo requirement in the nation,” Engelbrecht continued. “In two consecutive general election cycles, the state has seen increases in voter turnout. This is more evidence that voter confidence and turnout rise together, thanks to photo voter ID.”

To read the new report, The 2012 Voter Suppression Myth, click here.

True The Vote (TTV) a nonpartisan, nonprofit grassroots organization focused on preserving election integrity is operated by citizens for citizens, to inspire and equip volunteers for involvement at every stage of our electoral process. TTV empowers organizations and individuals across the nation to actively protect the rights of legitimate voters, regardless of their political party affiliation. For more information, please visit www.truethevote.org.

True The Vote NOW (TTVN) is a public policy organization dedicated to reforming our voting systems at state and federal levels. True the Vote NOWpromotes solutions that increase citizen engagement and restore faith in our elections. For more information, please visit www.truethevotenow.org.

Voto Honesto (TTV) es una organización sin fines de lucro, no partidaria, enfocada en preservar la integridad en las elecciones y operada por ciudadanos para ciudadanos, ara inspirar y equipar a voluntarios para envolverse en cada una de las etapas del proceso electoral. TTT capacita a organizaciones e individuos a través de la nación para activamente proteger los derechos de los votantes legítimos, sin importar a que partido político perteneces. Para más información, por favor visite www.truethevote.org.

US Supreme Court Voting Rights Case and its impact on Florida

The US Supreme Court will hear arguments in the case of Shelby County, Alabama v. Holder beginning today. The issue according to the SCOTUS Blog is, “Whether Congress’ decision in 2006 to reauthorize Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act under the pre-existing coverage formula of Section 4(b) of the Voting Rights Act exceeded its authority under the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments and thus violated the Tenth Amendment and Article IV of the United States Constitution.”

The ruling on this case will impact as many as five Florida Counties. According to Larry Kahn of KeysNet.com, “Section 5 covers Monroe and four other Florida counties, as well as some local jurisdictions in California, North Carolina, Michigan, New Hampshire, New York and South Dakota. It also covers all of Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, Alaska, Arizona and Virginia.”

Kahn reports, “Last year, then-Monroe County Elections Supervisor Harry Sawyer battled Gov. Rick Scott on the national stage over how many early-voting days should be allowed in the November election. Scott ultimately won — eight days instead of Sawyer’s preferred 14 — but that battle and more will be heard today by the U.S. Supreme Court.”

Kahn notes, “‘Last year we got an umbrella from Section 5 because it helped Mr. Sawyer fight and the voters were heard from,’ said Elections Supervisor Joyce Griffin. ‘If we weren’t under Section 5, they wouldn’t have been heard from’.”

Mr. Sawyer wanted to use Section 5 of the voting rights act to bypass the governor and state of Florida.

In the column, “Voting Rights at the Supreme Court Today“, Amy Payne reports:

The Voting Rights Act provides “broad and powerful protection against discrimination,”explains Heritage’s Hans von Spakovsky, a former Counsel to the Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights. Regardless of the Supreme Court’s take on Section 5, the Voting Rights Act remains in effect to protect all Americans from voter discrimination.

But Section 5 outlived its purpose decades ago—and the federal government is still forcing some voting jurisdictions to justify all of their local rule changes. Von Spakovsky points out:

[Section 5] effectively presumes that all voting-related actions by certain states and jurisdictions are discriminatory and therefore requires that they obtain pre-approval from the federal government for otherwise ordinary and routine actions, such as moving a polling station from a school that is under renovation to another one down the street or drawing new redistricting plans. This is a major and unusual imposition on state sovereignty.

What was originally intended to safeguard individual liberty has become a way for the feds to attack state liberty. For the Department of Justice and many activists, Section 5 merely exists to bully local authorities.

Von Spakovsky says that if Section 5 were struck down, “The only change would be to curb the abuses of federal bureaucrats and check the power and influence of the liberal activist groups that rely on Section 5 to enforce their agendas.”

Watch this Heritage Foundation video to understand what the arguments on Section 5 are:

In Italy a new party is born: What does that mean for the United States?

“The Five Star Movement “tsunami” an electoral triumph” by George Lombardi (posted with the author’s permission):

ROME — The results of Italy’s historical elections confirm the desire of a great many Italians who expressed their desire for change.

Almost one third of the vote went to new actors of the complex Italian political system.

Two great surprises characterize this election: first, the “tsunami” of the comic-turned-political agitator Beppe Grillo [pictured above] won a substantial 25% in both houses of the legislature; the second is the rebirth of former premier Silvio Berlusconi (PDL), coming back from 12.8% a few months ago to almost 25% (almost 30% if you add the coalition party Lega Nord), almost gaining the upper hand in the powerful Senate.

The leftist coalition (PD) won by less than 1% in both chambers, but they expected a greater result, while Mario Monti, the former PM and so-called technocrat, received only 9% , enough to be a decisive factor in the search for a historical compromise.

Obviously Italy is heading toward a total gridlock. Everyone agrees that new elections may come as soon as one or two years from now.

What are the practical results of the vote?

As far as Italy’s relation with the European Union almost two thirds of the voters want a more independent stand when facing the EU and Germany, Grillo is strongly anti-Europe, just like the Lega Nord, and Berlusconi has openly criticized Germany’s dictates and forced economic austerity measures. Most Italians moderates, young and old, favor Italy’s presence in the EU community, but they dislike the oppressive German and French power in all aspects of legislation and economic policies. There is no doubt that a new era has dawn in Italy.

Investors are analyzing the outcome of the Italian election. The people’s choices may trigger a sell-off in stocks and bonds and renew concerns about the euro if the three main parties cannot bring a stable government.

The rise of anti-establishment comedian Beppe Grillo’s 5-Star Movement and the impressive comeback of center-right leader Silvio Berlusconi have cast doubt over the leftist coalition (led by Mr. Bersani) ability to govern even if he forms a coalition with the centrist party of outgoing technocrat Prime Minister Mario Monti.

But next question for the market will be how viable the winning coalition will be and whether it is able to continue with much-needed reforms, first of all the way parties are allowed to participate in the general elections.

Grillo has indicated a will to change the outdated and often confusing election laws. And while both left and conservatives have often agreed on changing the electoral system, they could never find a compromise.

The second most important reform is the one related to taxation and finance. Italy needs a great input of fresh capital, but the austerity measures mandated by Germany limits greatly the options of past and future Governments.

The yield gap between 10-year Italian and German bonds stood at around 288 basis points on Friday, nearly half levels seen in late 2011, when Monti was called in to bring Italy back from the brink of a possible default that would have sunk the EU. But Italian borrowing costs are still far too high, Italian bankers and businesses say.

It is true that Italy needs political stability and a more business-friendly economy, but it also true that a large spread is unsustainable. It must go down or it will creates serious problems for the Italian economy. Analysts are forecasting Italy’s economy to shrink by 1 percent in 2013, worst than previously expected and a painful reminder of the challenges awaiting Monti’s successor.

Expect a new general election within 12 to 18 months should the new government turn out to be a very weak one. But the current result demonstrate the Italians’ unwillingness to endure more tough reforms.

The decisions Italy’s government makes over the next several months promise to have a deep impact on whether Europe can decisively stem its financial crisis. As the Eurozone’s second-largest economy, its problems can rattle market confidence in the whole bloc and analysts have worried it could fall back into old habits.

The only hope is that Italian politicians, many now in their early 30’s, will find a common ground, focusing on programs and on goals, forgetting ideological differences, and by example lead a group of European nations like Spain, Greece, Portugal and others out of the economic and political crisis and in a new, more egalitarian relationship within the European Community.

Panhandling is the new normal in the City of Sarasota, Florida

Christian Ziegler wrote in an email, “It’s a true shame to see the City of Sarasota, at the expense of our tourism, local economy & city’s image, bow down to the ACLU in order to avoid a possible lawsuit.”

“As a person who works in and frequents downtown Sarasota on a daily basis, I have personally witnessed the spike in vagrant activity since the City Commission began taking away the tools that the local police use to fight the issue. I believe this is an issue the City Commission and local police should stand tough & work together to fight, not give-in, even if the city is being threatened by a lawsuit from the ACLU!” states Ziegler.

Ziegler has received hundreds of responses to his email, most supportive. The following are from City of Sarasota residents:

Mr. Ziegler,

I have more than just a single reason to move away from our beautiful Sarasota, and if I were younger I would stay and fight the ACLU, and get the bums out of our library. I was so turned off by the street people being allowed to wander around inside the library last summer that I began plans to move that same day. Sarasota is a beautiful city, but it needs some tough new leadership, and right now the wishy washy look the other way is not helping anybody. A shame for such an otherwise beautiful city to be headed to hell in a hand basket. I had planned to be here until I die, but now will die in Colorado instead. I am moving there into a home I just bought. 

Respectfully,

Dear Christian,

I own a small business and work downtown too. I avoid certain streets because I know they are hangout spots for vagrants. I used to walk to the post office to drop off any mailings, I don’t anymore.

I am very disappointed in our city’s commission poor decision, inability to stand up for our citizens over a counter culture that brings our city down, and they have made a mockery of our police department. I’ve watched these vagrants approach diners and ask for food or money at Cie La Vie. Okay so they have rights and freedom of speech. What about OUR rights as business owners, citizens and visitors?

There are numerous programs already in place in Sarasota where they can get assistance. These people that hangout in the parks all day do not want help. They are fine with the station they have assumed and this is their lifestyle. They know that they can now keep doing what they are doing and not get hassled. And now more will come.

I know where my vote is going March 12th and it will not be a liberal.

Thank you,

Lee Williams from the Sarasota Herald-Tribune reports, “The City of Sarasota and the American Civil Liberties Union have signed a consent decree that stops police from “interfering with the exercise of First Amendment rights” when dealing with the homeless. The decree, a 60-day injunction, prohibits police from interfering with panhandlers — someone standing on a sidewalk soliciting assistance — unless they impede traffic, pedestrians or create an unsafe situation.”

Panhandlers are becoming more viable and aggressive within the City of Sarasota. Citizens have complained and yet the current City Commissioners have decided that panhandling is a free speech right.

Williams reports, “The consent decree follows the arrest of Jon Hill, a homeless man who was arrested of panhandling on U.S. 301. Hill was injured during his arrest, which he and his attorneys claim was the result of officers slamming his face into a squad car. The arresting officers say he intentionally threw himself forward during a struggle, striking his head on their squad car window.”

Hill spent five days in jail, until the ACLU got him released by filing an emergency petition — a writ of habeas corpus.

This may become a wedge issue in the March 12,  2013 Sarasota City Commission election.

Watch this “Voting for Dummies” video done by Politically Personal:

Florida Catholics and Senator Rubio respond to Pope’s retirement

Catholics across the state of Florida are reacting to the unexpected announcement of Pope Benedict XVI retirement. As the world appears to devolve into godlessness as Pat Buchanan noted, the world now awaits the white smoke billowing from the Vatican.

Bishop Frank J. Dewane, Diocese of Venice, issued the following statement regarding resignation of the Holy Father:

The Holy Father’s announcement that he will be resigning on February 28 was a surprise for Catholics around the world. Pope Benedict XVI has been a loyal and active Shepherd for his years as Successor of St. Peter. The Holy Father cited reasons of health and age for his decision. The Diocese of Venice in Florida joins all in continued prayer for the Holy Father. It is my wish to express gratitude for Pope Benedict’s remarkable ministry as the Successor of St. Peter. It is no coincidence that the Holy Father concluded his statement assuring the Church that he will devote his remaining years to “serve the Holy Church of God in the future through a life dedicated to prayer.” His writings and teachings have called Catholics to a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ and to help those in need. Particularly during this time, I ask all Catholics in the Diocese of Venice in Florida to join me in prayer for Pope Benedict XVI and for the College of Cardinals as they prepare to convene, with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, to elect the next Successor of St. Peter.

Senator Marco Rubio stated, “Pope Benedict XVI displayed the qualities of an excellent leader and a true man of God by putting the interests of the Vatican and the Catholic Church over his own papacy. Since becoming Pope in 2005, Pope Benedict XVI has served the Church honorably, particularly through his work promoting charity across the globe. I wish him well in the future and, as a Catholic, I thank him for his service to God and the Church. I also look with optimism toward the future of the Catholic Church as it prepares to welcome a new leader and as it continues to spread God’s message of faith, hope and love to all the corners of the world.”

While Catholics await the announcement of a new Pope, others are attacking Pope Benedict XVI for his stand on traditional marriage. Rachel Donadio and Elisabetta Povoledo in their New York Times column write, “Saying he had examined his conscience ‘before God,’ Benedict said he felt that he was not up to the challenge of guiding the world’s one billion Catholics. That task will fall to his successor, who will have to contend not only with a Roman Catholic Church marred by the sexual abuse crisis, but also with an increasingly secular Europe and the spread of Protestant evangelical movements in the United States, Latin America and Africa.”

The Sydney Morning Herald’s Ruth Pollard in her column “Palestinian Catholics Wary Of Pope Benedict’s Resignation” reports:

He is viewed as the Pope who helped improve relations between the Vatican and Israel, while also providing open support for the recognition of a Palestinian state. As the news of Pope Benedict’s retirement spread, Palestinian Catholics expressed their shock at his decision and their fears that it may reduce the authority of the church and the next Pope.

“We want the representative of the Holy See to be supportive of the marginalised, of the downtrodden and in this case, the Palestinians who are living under a brutal Israeli occupation,” said Zoughbi Zoughbi, the director of the Wi’am Palestinian Centre for Conflict Resolution.

“Anyone who comes into this position [of pope] has the responsibility of correcting injustices in all four corners of the world,” Mr Zoughbi said as he sat with friends in a café in Bethlehem.

Enterprise Florida: Economic Development or Corporate Welfare?

Today, Integrity Florida, an independent ethics watchdog group, in partnership with Americans for Prosperity – Florida, released a research report titled “Enterprise Florida: Economic Development or Corporate Welfare”.

According to co-authors Ben Wilcox and Dan Krassner, “The report illustrates Enterprise Florida’s apparent conflicts of interest, appearance of pay-to-play and its practice of picking of winners and losers in the marketplace.”

The report states:

“Floridians have entrusted Enterprise Florida, a public–private partnership focused on economic development, with significant public resources to deliver high quality job creation results, yet the organization has failed to accomplish its goals. Why has Enterprise Florida struggled as an economic development program? To better understand its operations, we take a close look at the incentive agreements executed by Enterprise Florida in the 2012 fiscal year. We selected 2012 because it presents the most recent data. It’s also a year that the Florida Secretary of Commerce has boasted of being an exemplar of success, referring to previous years’ efforts as “marginal at best.”

In addition to illustrating the failure to meet legislative expectations, this report documents Enterprise Florida’s apparent conflicts of interest, the appearance of a pay-to-play scheme for winning favorable treatment and its repeated practice of picking winners and losers in the marketplace through targeted business, favoritism, and selective incentive deals.” [My emphasis]

The report finds:

1. Enterprise Florida has failed to meet its job creation objective: In 1992, the Florida Legislature created Enterprise Florida with an initial objective of creating 200,000 high-wage jobs by 2005. After operating for twenty years and despite negotiating more than 1,600 transactions involving economic development incentive agreements worth more than $1.7 billion,iv Enterprise Florida reports that only 103,544 jobs have been delivered since 1995 – half of their original target and eight years beyond its original target date.

2. Enterprise Florida has failed to obtain its required level of private sector support: As a public-private partnership, Enterprise Florida is expected to obtain private sector support to help pay for its costs of operation. The Florida Legislature required Enterprise Florida to obtain 50% private sector contributions by Fiscal Year 2000-01. As of Fiscal Year 2010-11, more than 85% of Enterprise Florida’s funding comes from government and less than 15% comes from the private sector.

3. Enterprise Florida has the appearance of pay-to-play: Enterprise Florida, while subject to the dominion and control of the Florida Legislature,viii collects on average $50,000 each from corporate members for about half of the seats on the organization’s board of directors.ix Several Enterprise Florida board member companies received incentive agreements and vendor contracts following negotiations with Enterprise Florida staff during the 2012 fiscal year giving the appearance of pay-to-play.

4. Enterprise Florida has apparent conflicts of interest: The Enterprise Florida Board of Directors and the organization’s staff have a relationship that may be a conflict of interest. Enterprise Florida staff bonus pay of nearly $500,000 ($427,500 for staff, $70,000 for President/CEO) in 2012 was provided by Enterprise Florida board member companies that were also Enterprise Florida vendors and others that were recipients of incentive deals in the 2012 fiscal year.

5. Enterprise Florida is picking winners and losers: A number of executed agreements detailed in the 2012 Enterprise Florida Incentives Report demonstrate clear state government favoritism of some companies and industries. Enterprise Florida issues unnecessary benefits packages to entice businesses that should already be attracted Florida’s business friendly environment. These benefits are not necessarily enjoyed by competitors across an industry or all businesses moving to or expanding in Florida.

Click here to read the full report.

Florida Secretary of State releases voting recommendations, says nothing about voter fraud

Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner released his recommendations on voting. What is most notable is that the word “fraud” appears only once on page seven of a twelve page report.

The Detzner report states, “Additionally, some Florida counties continue to operate without utilizing technological advances, such as electronic poll books, which can shorten the time it takes to do voter intake and minimize the possibility of dual voting fraud.” No other mention is made of the numerous allegations, lawsuits and documented examples of voter fraud during the 2012 election cycle.

Why does the report not deal in more detail with voter fraud and voting transparency?

Because the mandate for the report from Governor Scott was, “… making recommendations to increase the accessibility and efficiency in Florida Elections.” The mandate was not to insure all votes cast are counted once and only once.

The report states:

“Secretary Detzner and a team of Department of State employees from the department’s Office of the Secretary, Office of the General Counsel and the Division of Elections’ Bureau of Voter Registration Services and Bureau of Voting Systems Certification traveled throughout Florida to meet with county supervisors of elections and their staffs and receive their input on how to improve Florida’s election system. Secretary Detzner also sought out and received valuable input from other elected officials and knowledgeable Floridians and organizations such as the Florida State Association of Supervisors of Elections and the League of Women Voters. The Secretary also considered input from Florida voters, poll workers, Miami-Dade’s Election Task Force, the Miami-Dade Grand Jury report and Division of Elections’ staff.” [My emphasis]

Those consulted are those with a vested interest in, lobbyists for and those who control the voting system. The report states, “During Secretary Detzner’s fact-finding efforts, supervisors of elections and others agreed the 2012 General Election was a fair election as a whole.”

True The Vote has a different view of the St. Lucie County voting system . “This dramatic recount [in St. Lucie County] was an extraordinary example of how our elections can suffer systematic failure,” True the Vote President Catherine Engelbrecht said. “We run the risk seeing episodes like this becoming ordinary if citizens do not demand answers and hold election officials accountable. The American people own the voting system – we have the right to ask tough questions when we witness the failure of one of America’s core functions.

St. Lucie County is not mention in the Detzner report.

Patricia Mazzei in her Miami Herald column titled “Miami-Dade grand jury: Absentee voting fraud clouds confidence in tight election results” wrote, “To prove their point, grand jurors made an astounding revelation: A county software vendor discovered that a clandestine, untraceable computer program submitted more than 2,500 fraudulent, “phantom” requests for voters who had not applied for absentee ballots in the August primary.”

“With several narrow victories in races in the 2012 Primary and General Elections, the general sentiment that undetected fraud is occurring is a major problem for this Grand Jury and the citizens of this community,’’ the jurors wrote. “Can the public have confidence in the election results of those close races? We are not certain they can.” Read more here.

The Detzner report concludes that expanded early voting is the panacea. No where is voter fraud nor ways to prevent it addressed in any detail.

To read the full twelve page report click here.

TRUE THE VOTE SUES ST. LUCIE COUNTY, FLORIDA

HOUSTON, TX. February 4, 2013 –True the Vote announced today that it filed a lawsuit against the St. Lucie County, Florida Supervisor of Elections, to enforce record inspection rights under the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 (NVRA) and the Florida Constitution.

True the Vote demands that all records pertaining to the recent 18th Congressional District election and subsequent recounts between Rep. Allen West and Patrick Murphy be reviewed in order to perform a comprehensive third-party audit (True the Vote, Inc. v. Gertrude Walker in her official capacity as St. Lucie County Supervisor of Elections, Civil Action (No 2:13cv14046.)).

Watch the video announcement:

True the Vote seeks to compel St. Lucie County election authorities to grant complete inspection rights to all election records pertaining to the 18th District race and voter registration records under federal and state law. In addition, True the Vote demands that the court order the Supervisor of Elections to preserve all records. If granted access, TTV will determine a precise vote count, document any illegal participation in the election and offer solutions to prevent similar failures in future recounts.

“This dramatic recount was an extraordinary example of how our elections can suffer systematic failure,” True the Vote President Catherine Engelbrecht said. “We run the risk seeing episodes like this becoming ordinary if citizens do not demand answers and hold election officials accountable. The American people own the voting system – we have the right to ask tough questions when we witness the failure of one of America’s core functions.

“The clock is ticking on the opportunity for a comprehensive, outside audit of this recount,” Engelbrecht continued. “Each passing day heightens the risk of critical documents being disposed of. If you thought voter fraud could erode America’s confidence in elections, unchecked incompetence in the vote tabulation process will destroy all faith remaining in our systems.”

“Gone are the days when Motor Voter is a law used only by a couple of special interest groups. The law requires physical inspections, I hope we reach a quick agreement,” attorney J. Christian Adams of the Election Law Center said.

On November 6, St. Lucie County election administrators admitted that ballot tabulation machines suffered a malfunction, preventing early vote totals from being properly counted. County workers were forced to hand-feed ballots into tabulation machines as a result.

On November 8, West demanded a full recount of early votes and copies of poll sign-in records to compare voter participation against ballots cast. West’s requests were denied and ignored, respectively.

On November 9, West demanded that a Florida state court impound all ballots and voting machines, but made no claims of the sort True the Vote makes today in federal court. West’s requests in state court were denied.

On November 10, St. Lucie County “unofficially certified” the vote count for CD-18 and publicly acknowledged “uncertainty” over the early vote totals. St. Lucie County called an emergency meeting to “recount all ballots cast during early voting.” The county later reversed itself, only performing a partial retabulation. After the partial retabulation, the lead for Patrick Murphy decreased.

On November 13, Defendant Gertrude Walker held a press conference admitting that her staff acted with “haste” and that “mistakes were made” throughout the tabulation and partial recount process. Florida Division of Elections auditors were dispatched to investigate how 799 votes disappeared or changed hands during the partial recount.

On November 16, Defendant Walker claimed to find 306 early votes in a box at her office that had not been counted. The St. Lucie County Canvassing Board ordered a recount of all early votes, with a deadline set for noon on November 18.

On November 17, the full recount operation was relocated to a privately-owned property. County workers were evicted from the premises late at night, suspending the recount until the next morning.

On November 18, County workers failed to meet the deadline, instead certifying the original November 10 tabulation, which officials claimed “uncertainty” over the accuracy of the results.

True the Vote later demanded to review poll books, “voter credit” lists, felon files and others to perform a comprehensive audit of the CD-18 tabulations. Inspection rights were not granted and so this lawsuit was made necessary.

“My clients are demanding that Walker immediately allow an in person public inspection of all records relating to the election in Florida’s 18th Congressional District between Allen West and Patrick Murphy,” local counsel Michael A. Barnett said.

True the Vote filed its complaint in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida – Fort Pierce Division.

Click here to read True the Vote’s filing.

True The Vote (TTV) a nonpartisan, nonprofit grassroots organization focused on preserving election integrity is operated by citizens for citizens, to inspire and equip volunteers for involvement at every stage of our electoral process. TTV empowers organizations and individuals across the nation to actively protect the rights of legitimate voters, regardless of their political party affiliation. For more information, please visit www.truethevote.org.

True The Vote NOW (TTVN) is a public policy organization dedicated to reforming our voting systems at state and federal levels. True the Vote NOWpromotes solutions that increase citizen engagement and restore faith in our elections. For more information, please visit www.truethevotenow.org.

Voto Honesto (TTV) es una organización sin fines de lucro, no partidaria, enfocada en preservar la integridad en las elecciones y operada por ciudadanos para ciudadanos, ara inspirar y equipar a voluntarios para envolverse en cada una de las etapas del proceso electoral. TTT capacita a organizaciones e individuos a través de la nación para activamente proteger los derechos de los votantes legítimos, sin importar a que partido político perteneces. Para más información, por favor visite www.truethevote.org.

Marco Rubio Leads Iowa Presidential Poll

According to the Conservative Intelligence Briefing website:

On the Republican side, Senator Marco Rubio is out front at 27% with Congressman Paul Ryan in second place at 18%.  After that, former Senator Rick Santorum (14%), Senator Rand Paul (13%) and Governor Chris Christie (12%) are in a tight race for third place.

Among Republicans who have previously attended a caucus, Rubio leads Ryan 29%-21%.  However, among Republicans who plan to attend their first caucus in 2016, Ryan’s support drops to 7%.  Paul (22%) and Santorum (19%) fill the void.

Among voters who consider themselves “Very Conservative”, Rubio leads with 32% followed by Ryan at 18%, Santorum at 15%, and Paul at 14%.  Among the “Somewhat Conservative”, Rubio’s lead over Ryan shrinks to 3% (25%-22%).

The gender splits are revealing.  Paul scores 17% among Men but his support drops to 8% among Women.  Ryan seems a similar drop among Women (14%) compared to Men (22%).  Conversely, Santorum (15% with Women, 12% with Men) and Christie (13% with Women, 11% with Men) do slightly better with Women.

Read more.

Dr. David McKalip, Enters District 4 St. Petersburg City Council Race

St. Petersburg, FL – St. Petersburg Neurosurgeon, Dr. David McKalip, has officially filed paperwork to run for St. Petersburg City Council, District 4. Upon filing his paperwork, Dr. McKalip said:

“St. Petersburg is a great city, but we can do more to make it the best place to live, work and visit in our nation. Our city is not living up to its potential and it is time for our government to change course so individual citizens can experience the opportunity and prosperity they each deserve. For too long politicians and special interests have expected the citizens to pay for their big projects and wasteful government. The people deserve a government that lives on a budget like they do. People are sick of politicians who never deliver on their promises while often harming the community they intended to help in the first place.”

Dr. McKalip continued, “I have long been impressed by the ability of individuals, small businesses, families and neighbors to provide the best quality of life in our city. The citizens will do better if they keep more of their hard earned money and live in a city without regulations that kill jobs and harm their freedom. If we embrace freedom, empower individuals and change direction in government, prosperity will spread to all.

I look forward to offering a true choice to the voters and engaging in a debate about the real issues that must be addressed now. I hope others will join me in making this race about the future of their city, St. Petersburg. Our citizens deserve it.”

Dr. David McKalip, M.D., is a highly respected neurosurgeon and community leader. St. Petersburg is Dr. McKalip’s hometown.

Governor Scott comes under fire for his $2,500 teacher pay giveaway

Governor Rick Scott announced that Florida will have a budget surplus in 2013-2014 of $437 million. That is good news. Republicans got to this point of a surplus after years of budget deficits by cutting the size of government programs. The Republican party stands for less government, lower taxes and less spending.

So what does Scott want to do with that money?

He wants to give teachers an across the board pay increase of $2,500, which will spend the entire surplus and more. This idea is drawing boos from teachers unions. It is also drawing fire from other public service employees such as fire fighters, EMS personnel and law enforcement officers. Why teachers and not them? Some are even saying that Scott is buying votes, much like President Obama and members of Congress who increase benefits for government employees and those who take for a living via welfare programs.

Here is something that Scott may not have considered: Why not give the money back to the taxpayers?

It is the taxpayer who carries the burden of the salaries and benefits of public employees. Any salary increase to any public employee is a further long term burden on the Florida Retirement System. The Tampa Bay Times reports, “In a major victory for the state, the Florida Supreme Court ruled 4-3 against state workers and allowed the state to retain the 3 percent levy on worker salaries to offset the state’s investment into the Florida Retirement System.”  Download Retirement ruling.

Union leaders do not like it when their members have to contribute to their own retirement programs like public sector employees do. So this move by Scott appears to be pandering to one group of union employees. Scott may be giving up hard fought ground based upon the recent Florida Supreme Court decision.

Who holds the bag for any government employee pay increase? Answer: Florida’s taxpayers.

We will see what the Florida legislature does with the budget surplus. Any bets that they will find a way to spend it? Are Republicans morphing into Progressives? What the legislature does with this surplus will be a key indicator of where they stand on taxes and spending.

Report: Florida’s Broken Campaign Finance System

Integrity Florida has released its report on Florida’s campaign finance system. During testimony before the Florida House of Representatives Ethics & Elections Subcommittee Dan Krassner and Ben Wilcox stated, “Currently, Florida law limits direct contributions to candidates to $500 per contributor per election cycle, but clearly there are glaring loopholes to these limits.  Nearly seventy-five percent of all of the money raised in the 2012 election cycle avoided candidate accounts and instead flowed through ‘so-called’ independent committees and political parties based on Integrity Florida analysis of state-level campaign contribution data from the Florida Division of Elections database.”

“Because some of the money is transferred from a CCE to an ECO or PC — often in a veiled attempt to shield the donor and recipient from the disclosure — some of the contributions are double counted.  With several types of funding vehicles allowing unlimited contributions, it is time to admit that donation limits are not stopping any contributors from spending unlimited amounts of money, ” noted Krassner and Wilcox.

The report points out that from 1981 to 1990, there were 340 federal public corruption convictions by United States Attorneys’ Offices of Florida officials, according to U.S. Department of Justice data.  That number more than doubled between 1991 and 2000 reaching 715 convictions and dropped just slightly between 2001 and 2010 to 674.

Read the full report and it recommendations:

Florida’s Broken Campaign Finance System -Integrity Florida Report to the Florida House of Representatives… by

Gingrich vs. The Pope on Gay Marriage

Former Speaker of the House, architect of the Republican revolution, Presidential Candidate, social conservative and Catholic Newt Gingrich stated, “gay marriage is both inevitable and okay by him”. It appears that Newt’s dramatic change in attitude is politically based. “Legalization of same-sex marriage in three states in 2012’s election changed the landscape, and conservatives have to come to terms with it,” he said according to The Hollywood Gossip magazine.

The Pope in an end-of-year speech warned that the very future of mankind is at stake over gay marriage .

According to The Telegraph, “In the fight for the family, the very notion of being – of what being human really means – is being called into question,” the Pope stated in the Clementine Hall of the Vatican’s Apostolic Palace.

The Pope spoke of the “falseness” of gender theories and cited at length France’s chief Rabbi Gilles Bernheim, who has spoken out against gay marriage.

“Bernheim has shown in a very detailed and profoundly moving study that the attack we are currently experiencing on the true structure of the family, made up of father, mother, and child, goes much deeper,” Pope Benedict XVI said.

Reuters reports, “Bernheim, also a philosopher, argues that homosexual rights groups ‘will use gay marriage as a Trojan Horse’ in a wider campaign to ‘deny sexual identity and erase sexual differences’ and ‘undermine the heterosexual fundamentals of our society’. His study, ‘Gay Marriage, Parenthood and Adoption: What We Often Forget To Say’, argues that plans to legalize gay marriage are being made for ‘the exclusive profit of a tiny minority’ and are often supported because of political correctness.”

Is Gingrich being politically correct? Have Republicans caved on the most important social issue facing mankind? Does politics trump core human principles?

“The manipulation of nature, which we deplore today where our environment is concerned, now becomes man’s fundamental choice where he himself is concerned.” ~ Pope Benedict XVI

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TRUE THE VOTE DEMANDS ACCESS TO ST. LUCIE COUNTY POLL BOOKS

True the Vote (TTV), the nonpartisan election integrity organization, today submitted formal requests to review all voter registration records, including poll books, to St. Lucie County Supervisor of Elections Gertrude Walker in the aftermath of the 18th Congressional District recount.

“Florida voters deserve a full, unfiltered explanation of the facts,” True the Vote President Catherine Engelbrecht said. “We cannot know whether all the votes add up unless all the relevant information is made available for public inspection,” adding that True the Vote is “committed to performing a county-wide audit of all registration records for the 2012 Election.”

True the Vote’s request follows a high-profile recount battle where St. Lucie County election officials admitted to hastily releasing vote tallies, failing to count half the precincts on election night, and double counting votes in others. Following the concession of Congressman Allen West, all investigations into the various irregularities ceased.

“Our goal is to fully deconstruct this episode so that this type of travesty won’t happen again,” Engelbrecht continued. “It’s unacceptable to allow flawed counting systems to remain in place because a candidate concedes a race. Faith in the American election system has been shaken enough in recent years – the people of Florida and our Republic deserve better.”

True the Vote’s request conforms to standing Florida open records and federal election laws, specifically 42 U.S.C. § 1973gg-6(i)(1), stating that “all records concerning the implementation of programs and activities conducted for the purpose of ensuring the accuracy and currency of official lists of eligible voters” be made available for public inspection.

True The Vote (TTV) a nonpartisan, nonprofit grassroots organization focused on preserving election integrity is operated by citizens for citizens, to inspire and equip volunteers for involvement at every stage of our electoral process. TTV empowers organizations and individuals across the nation to actively protect the rights of legitimate voters, regardless of their political party affiliation. For more information, please visitwww.truethevote.org.

Voto Honesto (TTV) es una organización sin fines de lucro, no partidaria, enfocada en preservar la integridad en las elecciones y operada por ciudadanos para ciudadanos, ara inspirar y equipar a voluntarios para envolverse en cada una de las etapas del proceso electoral. TTT capacita a organizaciones e individuos a través de la nación para activamente proteger los derechos de los votantes legítimos, sin importar a que partido político perteneces. Para más información, por favor visite www.truethevote.org.

Florida Election Night 2012 – What you should look for

Posted on November 5, 2012 by Jamie Miller from Battleground Group:

Some people have asked me “what should I look for in Florida election night?” Here are my thoughts – I’ve grouped the Florida counties below in three categories – Strong Obama, Strong Romney and true swing counties. Every campaign has a path to victory mostly in these counties. These counties will indicate early if Florida is trending toward a 5-point win for Romney like 2004 for Bush or a 2.8 % win for Obama like 2008.

It does not appear that there is major intensity for Obama like 2008, but Romney is not an incumbent President like Bush in 2004.

Strong Obama counties –

Miami/Dade, Palm Beach, Broward, Volusia and Alachua (Obama is going to win more counties than this, but these five are the counties where they can build bigger “swing” and will be a likely indicator of what Romney has to overcome to carry Florida. If Romney only loses these counties by less than 400,000 votes, he should have a very good night, but if Obama is able to push his margins in these five counties up to 500,000, he could be on a path to a victorious night.

Miami-Dade – In 2000 and 2004, Bush mitigated his losses here by less than 50,000 votes. In 2008, Obama won by nearly 140,000 votes. One would think Obama needs a margin of at least 100,000 if he is going to carry the state.

Palm Beach – The margins in 2000/2004 was 115,000 votes but in 2008 Democrats carried the county by an additional 20,000 votes for a 135,000 margin.

Broward – This is the big prize for democrats. Again 2000 and 2004 had almost identical margins of victory for Democrats with wins of 209,000 votes before Obama won the county by 254,000 in 2008. If Obama approaches a win margin of 250,000 it could be a long night for Romney.

Alachua – Home of the University Florida and the Florida Gators. This is a strong county for democrats that historically favors them by 14,000, but in 2008 Obama carried the county by an additional 13,000 for a 27,000 vote win.

Volusia – This is the home of Daytona Beach. This county often votes Republican in gubernatorial elections but normally supports the democrat in Presidential years. This county is an outlier in the fact that it is one of the few democrat-leaning counties where Bush lost the county in ‘04 by just 3,500 votes. GW and McCain lost this county in ’00 and ’08 by similar 14,000 votes. If Romney loses Volusia by less than 10,000 votes, it could be a good night for him. More than 10,000 would show stronger than expected support for the President.

Strong Romney counties –

Southwest Florida counties (Manatee, Sarasota, Charlotte, Lee and Collier); Brevard County on the Spacecoast; Northeast Florida’s Duval; three counties in central Florida Marion, Polk, and Sumter; and Northwest Florida’s GOP strongholds of Okaloosa and Escambia.

Many of these counties mimicked each other in 2000 and 2008. So it could be these counties are a greater indicator of Romney’s strength and determine if the “GOP motivation” advantage is real. Obama did well in and really mitigated his losses in these counties in 2008.

Duval is the home of the city of Jacksonville and normally goes big for Republicans. George W. won here by 44k votes in 2000 and more than 60k votes in 2004. Obama didn’t win here but he lost by just 7,900 votes. Duval is historically one of the first large counties to announce vote tallies and should be a good indicator of whether Romney will do well in Florida. It is one area of the state that Romney did not do as well in the primary, however.

Brevard is one of Florida’s hardest hit counties by the great recession. It is one of the counties that Republicans can run up a large margin in just one area. GW won by 18k and 43k in ’00 and ’04. McCain split the difference and won by nearly 30k votes. So, it is more of an indicator of how well Romney is doing and not necessarily how bad Obama may be doing in the state. Romney needs to win here by 40-50k votes.

Southwest Florida – These five counties provided G. W Bush with margins of about 90,000 votes in 2000 and 136,000 votes in 2004. Romney really needs to be above a 100k vote margin in these five counties if he’s going to win the state. Obama lost this area of the state by just 74k votes.

Polk, Marion and Sumter counties are indicative of where rural counties are going to go. Polk is the one “non-swing, GOP, I-4 corridor” county. Republicans won here by 15k votes in 2000 and 2008. In 2004, Bush was able to push his margin here to nearly 38k. A 15k-vote win here for Romney probably shows a very close race like 2000 or a GOP loss like 2008. Marion County is a GOP county but is an indicator of how well a Republican is going to do in the state. GW won this county by just 10k in 2000 and 24k in 2004. McCain did well in this county in 2008, however winning by nearly 19k votes. So Marion is more an indicator of how seniors are voting and not necessarily an indicator of an Obama loss. Sumter is a former rural county that now is home to The Villages retirement community. GOP wins have grown every election cycle and I don’t think that will change. GW won here in 2000 by 2,400 and in 2004 he won by 8,200. Like Marion, Sumter County performed well for McCain. He won here by 13,200 votes. Anything less than that would spell real trouble for Romney.

Northwest Florida – The polls stay open here in the Central Time Zone until 8 p.m. (EST) and two of the larger counties where a Republican can build margins are Escambia and Okaloosa. If Okaloosa trends toward a 50,000+ win like Bush in ’04 and Escambia trends toward Bush’s 45,000 vote victory in ’04, it would be good news for Romney. The total of the 10 counties in the Central Time Zone needs to approach 180,000 margin for a big victory on election night.

That brings us to the major swing counties in the state. I include Orange (Orlando) and St. Lucie in this group even though Obama is going to win both of these counties. The others to watch in this category are Hillsborough, Pinellas and Pasco.

Orange County is the first county in the history of the state to switch from Democrat to Republican and now back to Democrats. GW lost here by 5k vote in ’00 and just 800 in ’04. But, Obama won huge here in 2008, by more than 85,000 votes. Obama likely wins big here again, but if it is “only” by 50k, it could be an indicator that Obama didn’t motivate his voters like he did in 2008. It is possible for Obama to win here by 100k votes and lose Florida, but it would surely be an indicator of a much closer race than most final polls indicate.

Hillsborough – Florida’s latest bell-weather county. This county, the home of the Republican National Convention in Tampa, voted in favor of Bush in ’00 and ’04 by 11k and 31k respectively. But, this county swung to Obama by more than 36,000 votes in ’08. No one is going to win by just the margin in this county, but it would likely be an indicator of how well each campaign’s television ads were received during the campaign.

Pinellas County is home to some of the nicest beaches in the state, but is also a “lean-Democrat” County. Bush won Pinellas in ’04 by just 226 votes. If Romney wins here, it is an indicator that he won Florida big. An Obama win here of 25,000 votes, might be an indicator of a long night for both campaigns.

Pasco County north of Tampa is also a county that democrats can win, but can provide large margins for Republicans. GW lost this county in ’00 by about 1,000 votes but won here four years later by more than 18k votes. This county is an indicator of where “swing” voters are going with their votes. These are also economic voters and Obama lost here in ’08 by about 8,000 votes.

That brings us to St. Lucie County which is nestled between Democrat strongholds in SE FL and the GOP stronghold on the Space Coast. Prior to 2000, St. Lucie was Florida’s bell-weather county, but it has trended toward democrats in the past three elections. GW lost here twice both times by less than 7,000 votes. Obama beat McCain here by almost twice that margin, nearly 15,000 votes. If Obama approaches that type of margin, he may be in the midst of an upset in the state.

So, who wins Florida?

We will know in just a few hours, but in short, it’s the candidate who motivates his base, mitigates his losses in his weaker areas of the state, and who is able to keep from being blown out in the I-4 corridor. My prediction? I think Romney wins Florida big, by 5-6 points. If it turns out to be a bigger margin than that, we could have an upset in the U.S. Senate race, but I think Romney would have to win really big in Florida, by 8 points, to provide coattails for Congressman Mack.

Jamie Miller from Battleground Group

ABOUT JAMIE MILLER

Jamie Miller is a political consultant specializing in political campaign management, strategic planning, public relations, grassroots motivation, and crisis communications. He has been involved with running and managing political campaigns since 1994. Learn more at Battleground Group.