THE BLOG

Filibuster-Proof Democratic Majority Begins to Line Up in U.S. Senate

12/08/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Still-Outstanding Races in AK, MN & GA May Well Add Up to 60 Seats for Democrats IF The Elections Are Counted As Per the Voters' Intent...

In case you haven't been able to keep up with our barrage of reporting over the last 48 to 72 hours -- concerning serious election irregularities in various races around the country -- allow me to connect at least the dots that may well now add up to a filibuster-proof Democratic majority in the U.S. Senate.

With the media having declared challenger Jeff Merkley (D) as the victor over incumbent Sen. Gordon Smith (R) in Oregon, the Democrats have currently been named the winner in enough elections U.S. Senate races that they will have at least 57 seats when President-elect Barack Obama takes office next January.

There remains, however, three U.S. Senate races still in serious contention, all of which, there is very good reason to believe, may end up going to the Democratic candidate if serious attention is given to issues of election integrity in each of those races. Setting aside whether or not a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate is a good or bad thing, the undecided races at this hour are quickly summarized below, along with links to more detailed coverage, for your convenience...

ALASKA: Ted Stevens (R-incumbent) v. Mark Begich (D)

Despite Stevens' felony conviction on 7 counts, just days before the election, and some pre-election polls showing a likely victory for Begich, the final results -- overseen by Gov. Sarah Palin's friend and Lt. Governor -- are being slow-walked and are revealing enormous irregularities, including a so-far inexplicable 11% decline in the turnout rate from the 2004 election.

While Alaska votes on paper, they are tabulated on faulty, hackable, and often inaccurate Diebold op-scanners (more details on that below). The state has also been a long-time Diebold "company town", as it's one of the few places where the Democratic Party has actually fought for election integrity by suing the state for database records of how voters voted, following reported turnout rates of more than 200% in some areas in the state's highly questionable 2004 election.

MINNESOTA: Norm Coleman (R-incumbent) v. Al Franken (D)

At last count, just 443 votes separate the two candidates, out of some 2.5 million votes counted to date. An automatic manual recount has been triggered, and is now scheduled for mid-November. The state uses all paper ballots, but in much of the state they were counted on ES&S optical-scan systems which "reported inconsistent vote totals", such that "The same ballots run through the same machines, yielded different results each time" when the same machines were tested just before the election in Michigan.

Two of the three largest counties use the same Diebold op-scan machines which miscounted huge numbers of ballots in the January NH primary (among other elections), were used to hack a mock-election in HBO's Emmy-nominated Hacking Democracy, and, by Diebold's own admission, regularly drop thousands of votes when memory cartridges are uploaded to the central tabulator.

Some good news: MN's Sec. of State Mark Ritchie has been one of a handful of Democratic state election chiefs to have been a long-time election integrity advocate.

GEORGIA: Saxby Chambliss (R-incumbent) v. Jim Martin (D)

The state uses Diebold touch-screen machines across the entire state. Every vote cast on one of those machines is a 100% unverifiable vote. Chambliss, was declared the victor in 2002 in an upset over incumbent Max Cleland (D), despite pre-election polls predicting a Cleland win. That was the year that the state used the Diebold touch-screens for the first time, and the year that Diebold themselves secretly patched all of the machines, just prior to the election, with uncertified software patches

This year, while untold numbers of voters may have been denied the right to cast a vote at all, due to failures and slowdowns in the new Diebold e-registration computers on Election Day, Chambliss reportedly received 49.9% of the votes, triggering a runoff with Martin, now scheduled for December 2. We've also seen reports of inexplicable drops in turnout, comparable to Alaska's, as mentioned above, though we've haven't yet confirmed that. We'll update this report when/if we are able to do so.

Unfortunately, given the Diebold voting system used by the state of Georgia (as implemented by the previous Democratic Sec. of State and Diebold Cover Girl Cathy Cox), whatever numbers are reported by it and the Republican Sec. of State Karen Handel, who now oversees it, will have to be taken 100% on faith as being "accurate".

If Democrats pay close attention to issues of election integrity in each of these three still-undecided contests, and insist on strict and secure chain-of-custody and accounting for all ballots (voted, spoiled and unvoted), memory cartridges, voting machines, and pollbooks, as well as access to all full access and transparency for voting records, databases, election night poll tapes and machine logs, I see no reason why they couldn't end up with a fully filibuster-proof 60 seats in the next U.S. Senate.

Brad Friedman is an investigative journalist/blogger and the creator/publisher of The BRAD BLOG, which has been focusing for some years on the many issues involved in election integrity. He can currently be seen in a number of documentaries on the topic, now in release around the country, including David Earnhardt's Uncounted: The New Math of American Elections, and the just-released Murder, Spies & Voting Lies: The Clint Curtis Story, by documentarian Patty Sharaf.