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Housewife highlights/Daily shit talk - October 15th, 2020
- Shannon Beador teases RHOC in quarantine, and without Vicki and Tamra (Entertainment Weekly) “It’s always a slow start, so we were just sort of gearing up. I remember I was thinking, ‘I gotta get down the bottom of that, and then I’ve gotta figure that out,’” Beador recalls of the season’s early conflicts. “And then we get the call: we’re shutting down.” Shooting stopped and quarantine began right after the ladies took a trip to Palm Springs, about five weeks into production. To keep the show rolling, all the cast members were asked to film themselves at home, coping with the uncertainty of the pandemic along with the rest of the country. Despite the anti-glamour of lockdown, “I wanted to be authentic,” Beador says of her self-filming. “I would document the good and the bad. I wanted to show that sometimes it was a struggle.” “Each one of us has a very different personality and we all handle things differently, so I think it will be really interesting to see,” Beador says. “I would be the ‘panic person’ of the group. And I… did fulfill that during the pandemic.” With Gunvalson and Judge off the show, the Tres Amigas didn’t last off-camera. “When I heard [they were leaving] I was sad, I was shocked, I was upset about it,” Beador says. “But you know… there were a lot of untruths said about me by both of those women, and I know that they’re untruths but I choose not to go back and forth in the press because that’s not the person I am. So it’s been sad for me to know that friendships that I thought were genuine and valid and authentic aren’t. So that’s been a tough pill for me to swallow.” Gunvalson and Judge’s exits leave Beador, who joined the cast in season 9, as the current longest-running OC Housewife, which she says feels “surreal,” but “I don’t think about things like that.” Her story continues with the addition of boyfriend John, whom she mentioned in the season 14 reunion but appears for the first time in the season 15 premiere. “He was not excited to be on the show,” Beador says with a laugh. “He’s pretty private. But you know, I have let it all out, for better or for worse, since I started on the show seven years ago. And he understood that relationships have been a part of my journey, and if I’m in a relationship with someone, I have to show it. And I think he’s very genuine when he filmed with me, so I’m grateful that he did.” Also joining the lineup is new Housewife Elizabeth Lyn Vargas, the founder and CEO of a music video streaming service who also holds the distinction of being the “second [new] cast member that Shannon Storms Beador gets along with!” Beador exclaims. “She’s got a lot of layers, that one. I like to use the word ‘complex’ when I describe her. I had a lot of fun with her — not to say I didn’t have issues that came up later on.” Because despite quarantine, the ladies still found time for issues. Production resumed, at a distance, in the summer — at which time Beador and her three daughters had all tested positive for COVID (all four have now recovered). She wasn’t allowed to film with the rest of the cast, however, until she had tested negative again. “I was just devastated,” she remembers. Despite the disruptions to shooting, the ‘wives made the most of the time they had: “I have issues with every single cast member this season, in the short time we filmed,” Beador says, not without cheer. “I think it’s going to be fun to watch.”
- ‘RHOC’ Newcomer Elizabeth Lyn Vargas Said Cast Members Told Her to Be Herself on Social Media (Cheatsheet) "Vargas received backlash for some of her social media shares, especially for coming to the defense of Dodd, who has made several controversial remarks on social media. “Everyone has an opinion and frankly, I’m disappointed in the fact that no one understands Kelly, which is fine,” Vargas said in an Instagram story. “Kelly has her own point of view, why are you judging her? Why? We all have our opinions. Why are you judging her for hers?” The Instagram video went viral and Vargas quickly realized that being a housewife means that everyone is going to have an opinion. “I’m not used to being in the spotlight in the media,” she told Showbiz Cheat Sheet. “And, you know, I’m not used to when I post something, it meaning so much. So a lot of the women are giving me some advice on social media and posting and saying to just be yourself.” Vargas received backlash before the season even started. “That’s awesome [about being yourself],” she added. “But but there is a fine line on being yourself right now because of COVID. There’s a lot of sensitivity out there. So I’m just trying to navigate the storm correctly. But what they’ve given me advice on is there’s no correct way to live. You just live and be you.” She laughed and said the cast joked about how the backlash she’s received thus far is nothing compared to what will happen when the season heats up. “They warned me,” she laughed. “They said you think this is bad? Wait ’til the season starts!” “There is definitely some conflict throughout the season,” she teased. “But I was going through a massive divorce. Almost a $2 billion divorce. And I had to go into trial. I mean, that’s insane. Having cameras around and trying to meet new people. And then COVID hit! All the sadness with people. So you know what? I thought I’m going to make people laugh at this show. Because my life is kind of funny.” “When I first started the show, I was and I still am so excited to work with very strong women because to be on this show, you have to have a serious backbone,” she observed. “You know, in business, sometimes you don’t get to hang out with women like that because you’re working all the time.” “So this gig was going to give me an opportunity to kind of get to know these women and have fun with them,” she added. “Throughout the season I got to know Shannon [Beador] and everyone warned me about Shannon. I gotta tell you, she was great! They like scared me and I was like thinking, ‘Oh my God does she have fangs or what?'” “And then I got to meet Braunwyn [Windham-Burke], which was awesome,” Vargas continued. “She kind of has all these different viewpoints throughout the season. Then, you know, we go do our thing. And, you know, we may or may not agree on certain viewpoints, but I love her to death for being her. And of course, Kelly is just a fireball. Kelly is Kelly.” Vargas was introduced to the cast through Dodd. “I loved meeting Gina [Kirschenheiter],” she said. Vargas and Kirschenheiter bonded over being from outside Orange County. Kirschenheiter is originally from New York and Vargas moved from Missouri. “So getting to know her personality and how she accepts life and she’s definitely, to me, a survivor. And that’s very admirable.” Viewers will also see Vargas contend with her painful divorce. She was surrounded by attorneys which provided the perfect gateway bond with Emily Simpson. “So when I met Emily, it was just a given that we hit it off,” she said.
- Real Housewives of Orange County's Braunwyn Windham-Burke describes COVID-19 impact on season 15 (Digital Spy) "I think we had heard, you know, rumours it was coming, but we were okay. So we weren't very concerned at the beginning. I will say we had a big all-cast event on, I wanna say, March 10. Like, two days before everything starts to shut down. At that all-cast event, you could tell we were starting to get worried. "My family was there. My grandfather's a doctor, and he didn't come, just in case. We knew this was coming, but we didn't know what was going to happen. Then, I remember I was filming with my son and we heard that another show had 'gone dark'. I remember asking, what does that mean? 'Gone dark'? "It was like, 'We quit production'. Then we heard, oh, LA closed. It was, oh wait, this is real but this won't happen here or to us! And then we got the phone call that the show was going dark. I think they sent crews to each of our homes to wrap up our last moments, and I remember saying, 'OK, see you in two weeks'." The cast were encouraged not to speak to one another during the hiatus in order to "keep the storylines going", but it quickly became apparent that the production shutdown would be much longer than two weeks. "We had to cook on our own," Braunwyn joked. "I know that sounds so bougie but we weren't allowed to go to restaurants or whatever, so we had groceries. We had to feed ourselves, and we had to cook with masks on and those shields! "I remember, at a certain point, I was like, 'F**k this! I'm just going to eat turkey slices with my fingers because I can't do this. This is too hard.' It was actually kinda comical watching all of us. I mean, something might have caught on fire. It was pretty hilarious." A brewing debate remains with Real Housewives fandom over whether people are ready to relive the trauma of the early pandemic on TV, but Braunwyn is hopeful this season will be cathartic viewing. "I deal with hard things with humour, so it's not just going to be very heavy," she promised. "There's a lot of funny stuff that goes on... [like] trying to feed seven children. My joke is that if I'd have known there was going to be a global pandemic, I wouldn't have had all these kids! "There is some humour at watching women like me, who've never had to do normal, everyday stuff... It's a very serious issue. We all know that. But there is a lot of light-hearted in this because we all have children. Or, almost all of us have children and we had to make the best of a very hard situation. "Like a lot of viewers did. A lot of us had to laugh through it to get by. And they are going to show a lot of that."
- Emily Simpson Feels Like She's Off 'Housewives Survivor' After Vicki and Tamra's 'RHOC' Exits (ET Online exclusive) "I feel like the dynamic among the cast members is much more real and authentic," Emily shares with ET over video chat. "I don't think there's a lot of the normal manipulation going on where, you know, you feel like you're not on a reality show, you feel like you're on Survivor, where you're trying to make alliances with people so you don't get kicked off the Housewife Island." "That's really basically what I felt like for the last two years was, like, I'm just trying to be friends with someone so that I don't get kicked off the Housewife Island," she adds. "This season, I felt like I was less on the defense and more able to be myself and just have real relationships with the other cast members." "We really all rallied and did the best we could," she says. "It's a very bittersweet season. … It's not as many episodes as normal, but I think the fact that we managed to come out with 13 or 14 or whatever it is I mean, I think that's a huge accomplishment that should be applauded instead of people saying like, 'Oh, we're not on the season, so that's why there's only 14 episodes.' I mean, give me a break. We're dealing with a worldwide pandemic here. Like, don't make it about you." "It doesn't just focus on the pandemic," Emily promises of season 15. "Obviously, we had to film during that, so it comes up … and for me, I think it's interesting, because I don't know what the other five women were doing. I don't know how they dealt with it. I don't know what they were doing in their houses 24/7. I don't know how they were dealing with their significant others and everything and all the challenges that we had." The season 15 trailer shows Emily in tears, telling the camera, "I don’t know what to do." She says fans will have to wait and see what that dramatic moment is all about, but says it's a defining moment for the season and for her, personally. "The second half of the season is really interesting because some very deep and very, very -- I don't even know what the word is… traumatic, maybe, things come up that no one really knows about that wasn't in the press," Emily teases. "I think it's really interesting for people to hold on and watch the entire season, because I think they're going to be really surprised by things that happen." Emily says the mysterious, traumatic event actually brings her and Shannon Beador together. The two have never been close in Emily's years on the show, something that Emily blames on Shannon's association with Vicki and Tamra, aka the "Tres Amigas." Vicki and Tamra have been very vocal on social media that they don't agree with that assessment. "I went into season 15 and I didn't want to hold a grudge with Shannon," Emily says. "I really like Shannon, I'm glad that I have the opportunity to get to know her and I feel like without Tamra being on the show, or without Vicki, it opens up a whole new Shannon." "She's una amiga right now, but she needs some otras amigas," she adds. Emily jokes that Bravo should add a ticker to the episodes to see how many times Shannon asks her if "fun Emily" is coming out to play. "I wanted to be like, 'Shannon, I've always been fun. You just never gave me the opportunity!'" she admits. "Like, you never even talked to me before, so how would you know if I was? And I wasn't fun last year. I do have to take ownership of that. I had a bad year. I was in a lot of pain. I just wasn't in a good place. In my marriage and my life and my health. I'm a new woman this season." Emily ended season 14 with a "life-changing" hip replacement (her season 15 tagline shouts this out), undergoing surgery just a week before shooting the reunion, where she and her husband, Shane, faced a tough line of questioning about their relationship and Shane's abrasive personality. Emily says she hopes season 15 shows the softer side of Shane. "If I took in every piece of criticism, I would have divorced him two years ago," Emily says of the audience's reaction to her husband of more than 10 years. "I really have to focus on the Shane that I know versus everyone bombarding me with what I should do." "We do have a really good relationship, and there is a very strong, solid foundation," Emily adds. "I think every long-term marriage goes through years where you have really high highs and you have really low lows … and I'm proud of the fact that we didn't just get divorced and become another Real Housewife statistic." "Both of us really made a big effort to change, to recognize the other person, to treat them better and to build a better marriage," she continues. "I don't think that Shane and I will ever be one of those Housewife statistics. I think that we made it through a really hard time and we came out the other side." Emily admits that Shane doesn't always pick up social cues and that's led to many of their uncomfortable moments onscreen, like when he repeatedly tried to force her to eat bread while she was on a diet. "He thinks it's funny and he can be amusing, the problem is that if you only watch him on a show where you get small snippets of him, you don't understand the full [picture]," she says. "But there's also a very, very funny, witty side to Shane, too." Today, Emily says she and Shane are in a good place (even if he still hasn't passed the California Bar Exam), and she notes it was a "huge, huge accomplishment" to not kill him during quarantine. "During that quarantine, I really focused on Shane and our relationship and my kids and our family," she says. "I came out of it just knowing that my priority was my husband, my marriage and my children and then everything else just trickles down from that. And so that's where I'm at in my life." While Emily’s quarantine seems pretty low-key, her co-star Kelly Dodd's pandemic-related behavior has sparked plenty of controversy. From sharing false information about COVID-19, to traveling all around the country and seemingly making light of the Black Lives Matter movement, Kelly is under fire with the fandom as season 15 begins. "I think Kelly is just Kelly, and I think she has a good heart and I think she's a good person and I think people are quick to jump on her and criticize her," Emily says in response to the backlash. "Kelly does say things that are insensitive and can be taken the wrong way, and I get that, but the thing about Kelly that makes her such a good reality star, per se, is the fact that she's completely unfiltered at all times." "When she's on a show and she tells somebody off, and she's completely unhinged, people think it's amazing and call her a queen," she continues. "But when she's the same way about something going on in life, they don't like what she says. So, it's just… it's who she is. She's not going to be politically correct on one hand and then, like, outrageous on the show. She's always going to be outrageous." Overall, Emily says she wishes the fans would spend less time digging into what the 'Wives are doing on social media and just enjoy the show for its entertainment value. "I think it’s a waste of time," she says of looking for things to attack the women over online. "I think people need to really take this time to focus on things that are positive, and their families and children, or friends or whatever." Emily says she's not sure if anyone confronts Kelly about her behavior on camera this season because they weren't able to film a ton of group events once production started back up under health and safety protocols. They shot a lot of two-person meet-ups, outdoors with social distancing. As far as Emily's other co-stars, she says season 15 brings her and Gina Kirschenheiter back to the closeness they had on their first season together, season 13, and that fans should get ready for all that newbie Elizabeth Lyn Vargas brings to the table. "I think she's bizarre and eccentric, but I mean that in a good way," Emily says. "I even tell her that to her face. I'm like, 'You're so weird, but weird in an interesting way.' Like, there's a lot of layers to her. … I think she's great on the show, because there's so many different things that come up about her and she has a great personality. She's very, very bubbly and friendly and that comes off really well, I think, and she really makes an effort to be friends with everyone." While Elizabeth may have become a pal to all, it seems that Braunwyn Windham-Burke may have actually lost all of her friendships this season. The mom of seven recently revealed that she's not speaking to any of her RHOC castmates. "She's not talking to any of us because we all unfollowed her," Emily clarifies. "Each one of us kind of unfollowed her for different reasons, and on our own terms." Emily says she chose to unfriend Braunwyn online after Braunwyn's behavior at the cast's finale party. "It was the last time that we were allowed, all six of us, to be together and I just I didn't particularly like the way she acted and the way things went down," Emily teases. "I didn't block her or anything. I just unfollowed and, you know, there's a lot of things that need to be resolved with her." Earlier this month, Shannon confessed to ET that the group questions Braunwyn's authenticity this season, a statement to which Emily agrees. She says she’s fully prepared to bring a binder of evidence against Braunwyn to the cast's reunion at the end of the season. "I've got materials. You name it, I've got it," she says. "I'm an attorney, so I analyze things and I like facts. I don't think anybody should jump on someone else out of emotions or anything like that. So, I do have a very factual, analytical argument as to things that she's done that I find completely inauthentic and, you know, I'm ready and willing to address those."
- Yes, That's 'RHOC' OG Jeana Keough's Voice on the Season 15 Premiere! (ET Online exclusive) No, your ears didn't deceive you. That was The Real Housewives of Orange County alum Jeana Keough lending her voice to the season 15 premiere's cold open. "They say the seasons don't change around here, but that's not quite true," Keough coos over beach sounds in the first seconds of the episode. "There's the winter of friendships past, the spring of new beginnings, the blistering summer of romances ablaze and the autumn harvest of reaping what we've sown," she continues, as iconic clips from the franchise's first 14 seasons play out onscreen, the ghosts of Housewives past floating by, from Lauri Peterson saying, "This is going to get ugly," to Vicki Gunvalson shouting about a "little family van," Jo De La Rosa getting dolled up for Slade Smiley, Lynne Curtin crying and Tamra Judge shouting "That's my opinion." "But take it from me: each season in Orange Country is unlike the last, and the season’s don’t just turn," Keough says at the end of the intro. "They change us forever, too." So, how did the voice over -- the first of its kind on Real Housewives -- come to be, and why was Keough the one to usher in the new season? ET went straight to the source to find out, chatting with Keough herself and Erica Forstadt, Vice President of Current Production at Bravo. "It's season 15 this year and we wanted to do something special for our cold open," Forstadt tells ET. "The women's lives have changed so much from the last year to this year. They’re all in new relationships, a lot of them had moved and we wanted to create a cold open that would help tell that story and because it’s season 15, we wanted to reward our longtime viewers and give them kind of an Easter egg." By looking toward the future, Bravo went back to the beginning and the series' origins. The Real Housewives franchise was partially born out of the pop culture phenomenon that was Desperate Housewives, which began every episode with a narration from the dearly departed Mary Alice Young. Producers decided doing a Desperate-style voice over would be a perfect "wink" to the show's start -- and the perfect “water cooler moment" to kick off a new year. "It's a voice that’s familiar but not completely obvious," Forstadt notes, "and you still kinda have to guess who it is, but obviously for our dedicated, longtime viewers people will tend to know and understand that it’s Jeana Keough." Keough, who starred on RHOC for its first five seasons, says she got a text from the head of the production company behind the show, Evolution Media’s Douglas Ross, a few weeks ago about the opportunity. "I've always felt very motherly about the show, you know that," the 65-year-old tells ET. "Whenever they invite me, I show up, and I always do things that they ask me to do. … It was really fun and I thought of it, it could be flattery or they could’ve asked 10 other girls and they said, 'No.' So, I always just take it with a grain of salt." Producers provided Jeana with the copy, which she thought was "really interesting," noting that the show "does change you forever," as the closing line states. Season 15 is full of change, itself. It's the first season of The Real Housewives of Orange County to not feature an original cast member. Vicki Gunvalson, the show's last-standing first season star, departed the series at the end of season 15. Gunvalson has long (jokingly) battled Keough over who "started" RHOC, and while Forstadt says it wasn't the network’s intention by any means, choosing Keough for the voice over role seems to be a nod, at least subconsciously, to who's the real "OG of the OC." Keough notes that she was, truly, the first person "cast" on the show, and hopes her longtime friend takes no offense to her getting the narrator gig. "[Creator] Scott Dunlop wrote about me, his crazy neighbor," she recalls of the show's start. "And then when he went to Bravo, they’re like, 'Yeah, that's OK. But go and get four or five more families.' So, I don't care. People can claim what they want. I knew what I knew. Scott had tried to write this show for I bet 10 years since he met me. He’s like, ‘Oh my god. You’re like Ozzy Osbourne without the drugs.'" Nearly 15 years later, the Real Housewives franchise has become a global sensation, with more than 20 shows around the globe. "It's just, it always has been lucky," the former Playboy Playmate says of the franchise's staying power."
- Dr. Terry Dubrow sues for defamation after ex-patient seeks $10M for alleged malpractice (Page Six exclusive) “Botched” star Dr. Terry Dubrow will be going from the operating table to the courtroom. The A-list plastic surgeon, 62, sued a former patient’s lawyer for defamation after the attorney claimed to Page Six and other outlets that the woman had been “Botched by Botched,” according to new court documents obtained by Page Six on Wednesday. In the filing, Dubrow claimed that lawyer Stephen Le Brocq, who is representing his ex-buttock lift patient Sandy Scoggins, used the media to make false statements against him to garner sympathy for his client, who alleges she nearly died under Dubrow’s care in 2019. On Thursday, Page Six first reported Dubrow claimed in court docs that Scoggins was attempting to extort him for $5 million by saying she would report him to the California Medical Board and file a lawsuit including her claims against him if he didn’t pay up. For his part, he asked an Orange County, California, Superior Court judge to order their case back into arbitration, per a form she signed before he operated on her. “Instead of doing the right thing and accepting responsibility for his gross incompetence, he makes claims of extortion,” Scoggins’ attorney claimed to us in a statement. “Our client’s life was turned upside down and nearly taken by Dubrow, and he is attempting to suppress the truth of his incompetence with a confidential arbitration clause.” Dubrow’s new lawsuit alleges that Scoggins’ attorney’s claims about his incompetence are untrue. Meanwhile, Le Brocq filed a $10 million lawsuit against Dubrow on Scoggins’ behalf in federal court on Monday, claiming malpractice and negligence, per court documents obtained by Page Six. Scoggins claimed in her suit that Dubrow rushed through her surgery so he could film for “Botched,” which resulted in leaving materials inside of her and causing bacterial infections. However, in Dubrow’s filing on Wednesday, he claimed that he didn’t even use the mesh that Scoggins claimed was left inside of her. “Scoggins’ alleged medical injuries were not negligently caused by Dr. Dubrow; she did not ‘nearly die’ but instead faced complications that were commonly known risks of her surgery,” he wrote in the documents. “Dr. Dubrow did not leave ‘tools’ or ‘equipment’ inside Ms. Scoggins’ body; nor did he ‘rush’ to finish her procedure.” In his filing, Dubrow claimed that he made Scoggins aware of the risks involved with her surgery and that he provided her with incredible care, despite Scoggins’ allegations in her lawsuit that Dubrow stopped communicating with her post-op. Dubrow claimed that he was in constant contact with her and that she “admitted in written communications that her complications resulted from ‘nothing . . . anyone did wrong’ and acknowledged that she ‘know[s] all this is so common and [she] was warned of the potential side effects.'” Le Brocq told Page Six earlier this week regarding his case: “Although Ms. Scoggins will never be able to regain the parts of her life that she lost, she looks forward to her day in court where the truth may be told without fear of retribution by those with money, fame, or power.” Dubrow is asking for damages in his defamation suit. His lawyer declined to comment, citing pending litigation. Le Brocq declined to comment on the defamation suit."
- Andy Cohen sent Vicki flowers ahead of the OC15 premiere (realhousewivesfranchise Instagram) "There wouldn't be an OC without Vicki G - Love, Andy"
- Someone on Instagram asked Tamra if she would ever return to OC (realhousewivesfranchise Instagram) "If they fire the racist and bring back Heather Dubrow and Vicki Gunvalson."
- 'Real Housewives' star Kara Keough Bosworth speaks out about infant loss and grief (Good Morning America)
- For anyone who missed it yesterday: Michael Darby spotted grabbing ass by eagle-eyed Redditer in the background of Potomac S1E9. I have verified that this is real. It happens around the 29:50 mark.
- 2 minute video clip: The Potomac ladies on the after show discussing Robyn's financial issues being brought up on camera (Queens of Bravo Twitter)
- The Peach Report reposting a Tweet from back in August re: why Katie Rost wasn't allowed to attend the S4 reunion (The Peach Report Daily Twitter) "Fun Fact: OG Katie Rost was originally supposed to attend the S4 reunion as a guest, but was BANNED after some comments she made during the cast trip in the Cayman Islands. Katie was accusing the network of trying to hide footage of the Michael “incident.”
- Real Housewives of Dallas Star D’Andra Simmons’ Dog Dixie Dies at Age 14: 'I Miss Her Terribly' (People) "D’Andra Simmons is mourning the loss of her dog, Dixie. The Real Housewives of Dallas star's pup died at the age of 14 while Simmons was out of town, according to a recent press release. The reality star adopted the Brussels Griffon dog in 2008 alongside littermate Gypsy, who died earlier this year. “Dixie was my loyal companion and truly Mommy’s little dog. She loved her Mommy and was constantly by my side,” Simmons said in the release. “She slept next to me for almost 13 years right next to my ribs, and she was always in the chair with me in my home salon when I was getting my hair and makeup done for RHOD. She comforted me through tragedies and triumphs. She cried with me when my father, Glenn Simmons, passed, and was excited to meet the new ‘man in my life; Jeremy Lock, when I first introduced him to the ‘girls’ as I called her and her sister, Gypsy. She was excited when Jeremy came to live with us permanently and she had a Daddy. She loved her ‘Mimi’ Momma Dee Simmons and always greeted her with great enthusiasm.” “I miss her terribly and I will for the rest of my life,” Simmons said of Dixie, who she would often dress up to reflect her own love of fashion. “Because I did not have children of my own, she was my child and my sweet baby girl. Rest in Peace little Dixie, you gave me many years of continuous joy, happiness and love.”
- Teddi Mellencamp Weighs In on Garcelle Beauvais’ Shady Reaction to Her ‘Real Housewives of Beverly Hills’ Exit (US Weekly exclusive) "The 39-year-old accountability coach spoke to Us Weekly exclusively about Beauvais’ recent reaction about her exit in an interview with Entertainment Tonight, during which the actress, 53, paused before blandly saying, “OK” when asked about how she felt. “I didn’t even know [she did that]. Well, I mean our thing at the reunion [could be why],” Mellencamp told Us on Tuesday, October 13, while referencing a spat they had over Beauvais’ comment on Lisa Rinna’s Instagram habits influencing her daughter Amelia Gray’s eating disorder. “I mean, here’s the thing: I like Garcelle. I think she’s funny and beautiful and smart. I made a good point at the reunion. So, she’s probably bitter about it. But other than that, I think she’s great, and I think she’s gonna have a lot of success on the show, and I’m excited to watch her.” One person who is disappointed to see Mellencamp go is her famous father, John Mellencamp. “He’s, like, ‘Am I not going to be watching anymore?’ I’m like, ‘I don’t know, Dad. You’re going to have to make that decision yourself,’” she said, noting that the 69-year-old musician “just started watching Housewives” because she was on it. “He started becoming, you know, like, ‘Oh, I love her, blah, blah, blah,’” she continued. “And then [he] has nicknames for everybody."
- Photo: Garcelle in a yellow dress (Queens of Bravo Twitter)
- BH nostalgia (video clip): Kim and Kyle in the back of the limo in season one (Queens of Bravo Twitter)
- Photos of some of the Jersey wives filming at winery (realhousewivesfranchise Instagram)
- New little Salt Lake promo - premieres Nov. 11 (realhousewivesfranchise Instagram)
- Photo: Cynthia Bailey and her bridesmaids at her wedding (Queens of Bravo Twitter)
Evidence for Massive and Consistent Manipulation of the Electronic Vote in U.S. Federal Elections Since at Least 2004
I’ve recently written a 52 page summary of the major evidence that I’m aware of, which is solely focused on election fraud involving our voting machines. Because that document is too large to post here, the information in this post is a brief summary of the larger document. If you are interested in exploring this further, you can access the full document at this link. And if you have questions about it that aren’t answered on this thread or would like to discuss it with me further for any reason, you can e-mail me at [[email protected]](mailto:[email protected]).
Some people have expressed concern to me that writing about election fraud is dangerous because it potentially could depress voter turnout and consequently hurt Democrats. I have two comments about that:
First, nobody should ever take allegations of election fraud, proof of election fraud, on anything in between allegations and proof, as a reason not to vote. Despite all that I have written about election fraud in the United States, I have never thought that the capacity to cheat in infinite. It seems quite obvious to me that it has limits, though I don’t know exactly what those limits are. Consequently, other than finding a way and the political will to prevent the cheating (See Section 9, below), the best way to prevent it from changing the results of an election is to run up a large margin of victory – which prevented the substantial cheating in our 2008 Presidential election from changing the results of that election.
And secondly, I think that discussing election fraud is unlikely to depress turnout much (it could increase turnout, out of anger), if it does depress turnout I see no reason why it wouldn’t depress it equally on both sides, and in any event, I see election fraud in our country as a far greater danger than depressed turnout. Indeed, I believe that there will never again be meaningful reform in our country on any issue that affects the wealth and power of those who control our voting machines, unless and until this issue is adequately addressed and remedied.
With that in mind, here is a brief summary of most of the major evidence that I am aware of:
1. Large, Widespread, and Consistent Deviations of Exit Polls from Official Election Results
Since 2004 or earlier, exit polls for national elections have repeatedly deviated by large amounts from official vote counts, and this deviation is almost always in the same direction: Whenever the deviation is large, the more right-wing candidate receives a larger share of the official vote than what is predicted by exit polls. When this happens, the deviation of the exit poll from the official vote count is known as a “red-shift”.
Large, statistically significant, and numerous red-shifts occurred in federal elections in 2004, 2006, 2008, 2010, 2014, 2016 (including the Democratic Presidential primaries), and 2020 (Democratic Presidential primaries). In 2012 they were negligible to non-existent. In 2018 they didn’t appear to affect House races at all, but fraud that resulted in red-shifts probably changed the results of the Florida and Missouri U.S. Senate races and the Florida and Ohio Governor races. It is almost certain that it changed the results of the Presidential elections of 2004 and 2016, and likely the Democratic Presidential primaries of 2016 and 2020. Undoubtedly, the fraud that was almost certainly behind most of these red-shifts has had great influence in determining the composition of our Congress, in the years noted above, and beyond, to this day.
I have specific data by state for the Presidential general elections of 2004 and 2016 and the Presidential Democratic primaries of 2016 and 2020 (I’m not including Republican primaries here because the concept of red-shift doesn’t make sense for a Republican primary, since all of the candidates are so far right-wing – and consequently, the exit polls for the Republican primaries have been pretty much on target with the official election results). For all of these elections together, there were a total of 122 state elections/primaries where exit polls were performed. Of those 122 state elections, there were 45 statistically significant red-shifts and 2 statistically significant blue-shifts (on the basis of random chance, one should have expected to see approximately 3 red-shifts and 3 blue shifts). In the general elections, those red-shifts were very highly concentrated in swing states. In those swing states, the exit polls in the two Presidential elections combined predicted wins for the Democratic candidate in 9 state elections that the Republican won, and it was those states that ended up determining the winner of the Electoral College (George W. Bush in 2004, Donald Trump in 2016). In the Democratic primaries, the assessment of red-shift involved a comparison of Bernie Sanders vs. his closest competitor (Clinton in 2016, Buttigieg in the New Hampshire 2020 primary, and Biden in all of the other 2020 primaries). The red-shifts in the Democratic primaries of 2016 and 2020 were even larger and more frequent than the red-shifts in the 2004 and 2016 general Presidential elections.
For those who believe the corporate news media propaganda that exit polls are not a useful tool for monitoring our elections, keep in mind the following: Exit polls are used in many other countries for the purpose of monitoring elections; the United States, though it never uses exit polls to monitor its own elections, has often sponsored exit polls for that purpose for use in other countries, and some of those elections, which were characterized by large discrepancies between the exit poll and the official result, were overturned because they were considered fraudulent; though the United States doesn’t use exit polls for the purpose of monitoring its own elections, it does use them for other purposes, including the early calling of its elections, sometimes before any official votes are counted, and for the purpose of displaying data for public consumption on voter demographic and other characteristics by whom they voted for.
The vast magnitude, frequency, and consistency of red-shifting of our federal elections in our country since at least 2004 could not possibly be due to random chance. That leaves only two possibilities:
Massive election rigging, almost always in favor of the more right-wing candidate; or
Massive, pervasive exit poll bias, always or almost always favoring the more left-wing candidate
What could cause such a massive amount of exit poll bias, persistently over close to two decades, in so many states across our country, for a wide variety of different candidates, and almost always pointing in the same direction? What we are talking about is the possibility of a pervasive and consistent reluctance of right-wing voters to participate in exit polls. Good scientific studies on this issue, closely following the massive numbers of red-shifts found in the 2004 Presidential election, could not identify any evidence to support the theory of exit poll bias, and even found good evidence against it. I find such a massive and persistent exit poll bias not to be plausible. Trump voters don’t strike me as meek and unlikely to participate in exit polls that allow them to voice support for their candidate.
If exit poll bias explained the ubiquitous red-shifting that we’ve been seeing for so many years, then it should occur approximately equally in competitive and non-competitive elections. But if the red-shifting is explained by election fraud, then it should be far more frequent in competitive than in non-competitive elections, because there is little or no motivation to rig a non-competitive election. So that issue was tested in a study that compared red-shifting in competitive vs. non-competitive elections, and it was found that red-shifting occurs much more in competitive that in non-competitive elections – thus providing significant additional evidence for the idea that the red-shifting that we’ve been seeing is due to election fraud rather than exit poll bias.
2. The Vulnerability of our Vote Counting Machines to Fraud
The United States is ranked last among the 47 long-established democracies by the Election Integrity Project founded by the Kennedy School of Government. There are many reasons for this. One of the most important reasons is the vulnerability of our electronic vote counting process to election fraud.
Both the running of our elections and the registering of voters have to a large extent been turned over to private for-profit corporations in recent years. Today the voting machine industry is dominated by just three or four corporations. These corporations have displayed great resistance to any laws or policies that would make their voting systems more transparent or less susceptible to fraud, and they have been very right-wing, with ties to the Republican Party.
The unreliability of our electronic voting machines is only part of the problem. I’m much more concerned about the well-known potential for them to be hacked or programmed for fraud. Worse yet, the voting machine owners have steadfastly refused to allow election integrity activists or anyone else to inspect their machines for potential fraud, before or after elections, claiming that their machines are “proprietary”, meaning private property. Unbelievably (to me), our courts have repeatedly and consistently supported them in this claim! The courts even supported them in denying John Kerry’s request to have some of them inspected prior to the Presidential election of 2004. And furthermore, many of the key staffers involved in running our elections have been accused or convicted of various white-collar crimes, including conspiracy, bribery, bid rigging, computer fraud, tax fraud, stock fraud, mail fraud, extortion, and drug trafficking. For God sake, many of our states won’t even allow a person to vote, for the rest of their lives, after being convicted of any of these crimes.
It's very difficult for me to fathom how this kind of thing can be allowed in a country that claims to be a democracy.
3. The Tremendous Obstacles to Utilizing Hand Recounts of Paper Ballots
Hand recounts of paper ballots are potentially critically important because (when available) they are by far the best way to investigate suspected election fraud due to manipulation of the electronically produced vote count, and to determine the true vote count. Indeed, one could argue in most instances that that is the only way to prove election fraud and to determine the true vote count.
Yet, in the United States hand recounts of paper ballots have proven to be extremely difficult to obtain except when the margin of victory is extremely thin. Sometimes they are impossible to perform because no paper trail of the vote is available. In the 2016 elections, 28% of U.S. voters lived in jurisdictions which used only DRE (Direct Recording Electronic) voting machines for counting our votes, and another 19% of voters lived in jurisdictions where both DRE and optical scan voting systems were in use. DRE machines are those for which the voters do not directly produce a paper trail, meaning that they record their vote electronically only. Some DRE machines produce associated paper trails and some do not. When they do not produce a paper trail there is no way that the votes can be recounted by hand because the votes exist only in electronic form. But even when a DRE machine does produce a paper trail the situation is problematic because, among other problems, it may not be clear that the paper trail produced by the machines is accurate – If the electronic vote is programmed for fraud, then the same machine may also be programmed to produce a fraudulent paper trail.
Most U.S. voters do directly produce a paper trail when they vote, usually using an optical scan machine – where the voter makes a mark directly on the ballot itself, and then deposits the ballot in a box, where the ballot is stored, and will potentially be available for recounting if requested, or required by state law because of a very small margin of victory.
But even when optical scan machines are used, over 95% of the time the votes are counted by the machine, rather than by hand. And what is worse, in the United States hand recounts of paper ballots are rarely done, as noted above. Recounts usually cost a great deal of money, which may prove impossible to raise. The election winner generally uses every legal measure available to block them on the rare occasions on which they are requested. Ordinary U.S. citizens have no legal standing to even request them. Only the losing candidates for the office have legal standing to request them, and losing Democratic candidates have rarely requested recounts because of great pressure not to request them (unless the victory margin is razor thin). Except for some elections with very thin victory margins, whenever hand recounts have actually been performed in high profile elections they have been corrupted to the point where they are worthless. Despite the many red-shifts in the 21st Century noted above, I’m pretty sure that there has never been a valid hand recount of machine counted votes in the United States in a situation where the initial machine count demonstrated a red-shift when compared with an exit poll.
In my full document on election fraud, which I linked to above, I describe in detail the five examples of U.S. elections that I’m aware of where the results were highly suspicious and therefore screamed out for the need for a valid hand recount, and yet it wasn’t done. Three of these examples involved Presidential elections (2004 and 2016 general elections, and 2016 Democratic primaries). In three of the examples the suspicions arose from exit polls that demonstrated large and statistically significant red-shifts. Of the five examples, two involved corrupted recounts, which were corrupted among other ways by the simple fact that those running the recount were caught changing the results of the recount to match the official count. In one of those cases, this was done (as noted by a whistleblower) upon the instructions of a voting machine company representative. In one of the examples, ballots were destroyed upon the orders of the supervisor of elections while the case was pending in court. In another of the examples, a partial hand recount of 0.4% of the state’s ballots showed large gains by the losing candidate (Bill Nelson, running for re-election for U.S. Senator from Florida) which, if extrapolated to the rest of the state would have given that candidate a lead of tens of thousands of votes. And yet, there was no follow-up to the partial recount, with the only rationale being that the partial recount failed to give the losing candidate the lead. And in the last example, Donald Trump sued to prevent or stop hand recounts in three states with highly suspicious results, and all three state courts supported him (PA, WI, MI), thus stopping or preventing the recounts. In all five examples it was the more right-wing candidate who won the election, absent a valid hand recount. In only one of the above examples was anyone prosecuted for the malfeasance I described. In each of the five examples it was the more right-wing candidate who won the election, and in none of the examples did I hear or see a single word on the subject from our corporate news media. None of these things should happen in a country that calls itself a democracy.
4. Voting Machine “Glitches” Favoring Right-Wing Candidates
Although the title of this section might suggest that I cherry picked my examples, the truth is that I am not aware of any significant examples of progressive candidates benefitting from voting machine glitches. Of the examples I provide in this section, the most convincing is my analysis of voter observed complaints of vote switching from one Presidential candidate to another in the 2004 Presidential election, because that example involved a systematic scientific study rather than stand-alone anecdotal examples.
In that analysis I searched the national Election Incidence Reporting System (EIRS) for reports of voter observed computer vote switching from one Presidential candidate to another. I found the database to contain 87 reports of vote switches from Kerry to Bush, and only 7 reports of switches from Bush to Kerry – a 12 to 1 ratio in favor of Bush. Of those 87 cases of reported vote switches from Kerry to Bush, a highly disproportionate number of them, 67 of the 87, came from one of the 11 swing states, which represented a rate of reports that was 9 times higher in swing states than in non-swing states.
The 87 voter reports of vote switching from Kerry to Bush almost certainly represented the very small tip of a much larger iceberg. That seems like a plausible conclusion for many reason: Several of the EIRS reports include statements by the voter something to the effect that the switches were “happening all day” at their precinct; many voters would not have noticed the vote switch; the vast majority of voters would not have even been aware of the EIRS system, and; it seems unlikely that even a significant percent of voters who were aware of it would have taken the time to report a complaint to the system. In addition, there were other sources than EIRS that strongly supported the idea that reports to EIRS included only a very small portion of the total voter observed switches. For example, the Washington Post identified 25 voting machines in a single city in Ohio (the state whose Electoral votes determined the winner of the 2004 election) that switched an unknown number of votes from Kerry to Bush, while there were only 8 reports to EIRS of such switches in the whole state of Ohio in 2004.
Nobody knows for sure if the machine “glitches” that have been noticed and reported were accidental or purposeful. But if they were accidental, then how can it be explained why such a highly disproportionate number of them favored the more right-wing candidate at the expense of the more progressive candidate, and how can it be explained why such a highly disproportionate number of them reported in Presidential elections came from swing states? And because courts have disallowed any inspection of the machines by election integrity activists or anyone else, the matter could never be proven one way or they other. Furthermore, certainly whoever programmed the machines to act this way would not have wanted these glitches to have been observed – thus suggesting that there were likely many more such “glitches” than we know about that were never identified by anyone outside of those who programmed them.
5. Right-Wing Candidates Perform Better When Votes Are Counted by Machines
When red-shifts are the result of election fraud, then we should expect to see greater discrepancy between exit polls and official vote counts (red-shifting), as well as better performance in the official vote count for the more right-wing candidate, where votes are counted by machines than where paper ballots are counted by hand, because it is widely accepted among those knowledgeable about our voting process that hand counting of votes is far less vulnerable to substantial fraud than machine counting of votes. In every example that I am aware of, where someone decided to evaluate red-shifts or official vote count for hand counted vs. machine counted jurisdictions (because of suspicions about the accuracy of the official vote count), the more right-wing candidate was found to perform better and/or be the beneficiary of a red-shift in the machine counted jurisdictions, and the more progressive candidate was found to perform better in the hand counted jurisdictions (thus supporting the suggestions of exit polls that demonstrated large and statistically significant red-shifts). I discuss the details of such analyses in my larger document on election fraud. These examples include the 2004 Presidential election, 2010 U.S. Senate election in Massachusetts, and the 2020 Democratic primaries in Vermont, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts.
Here I’ll discuss only some of the details from the 2004 Presidential election. In that election, a report written by Warren Mitofski (See page 40), whose company produced the exit polls for that election, contained a table that presented a variable called WPE (Within Precinct Error), which was an indication of amount of red-shift, with negative values of WPE representing red-shift. The average WPE for each precinct that was exit polled in the whole country was represented in the table for each type of machine and for hand counted paper ballots. The average WPE for each machine type varied between -6.1 and -10.6 (meaning large red-shifts for each machine type), compared to an average WPE for hand counted ballots of -2.2 (meaning a much smaller red-shift). This is a substantial and undoubtedly statistically significant difference between hand counted vs. machine counted precincts. What the table shows is that the more right-wing candidate (in this case George W. Bush) vastly over-performed in the official vote count, as compared with exit poll predictions, in machine counted precincts, while the difference between exit polls and official vote counts was far less in hand counted precincts. That is exactly what would be predicted if and only if the machines were programmed to manipulate the vote count in favor of Bush.
6. Testimony, Pending Testimony, and Deaths Associated with Election Fraud in the 2004 Presidential election.
The deaths of two men who appeared to be on the verge of blowing open the evidence for election fraud in the 2004 Presidential election shine additional light on this issue:
The death of Raymond Lemme
In October 2000 Clint Curtis, a computer programmer and a life-long Republican who worked for the Florida based Yang Enterprises, Inc. (YEI), wrote a computer program for switching votes from one candidate to another, at the request of Republican operative and Speaker of the Florida House of Representatives, Tom Feeney, according to Curtis’ sworn testimony to House Judiciary Committee Democrats in December 2004. According to his testimony, Curtis believed at the time that the purpose of Feeney’s request was to better understand how Democrats might plan to commit election fraud. But after be became aware that the purpose of the program was to actually switch votes in the 2004 Presidential election, he reported the incident to the state of Florida, which then appointed Raymond Lemme from the Florida Inspector General’s Office to investigate Curtis’ allegations.
In his affidavit to the House Democrats, Curtis described a June 2003 meeting with Lemme, where Lemme told Curtis that he (Lemme) “had tracked the corruption all the way to the top”, and that the story would break shortly. But two weeks later, on July 1, 2003, Lemme was found dead in a Valdosta, Georgia, Knights Inn motel room bathtub. His arm was slashed twice with a razor blade, near the left elbow. The Brad Blog thoroughly investigated this case and put forth several reasons to believe that Lemme’s death was not suicide, as had been ruled by the Valdosta police.
The death of Michael Connell
Michael Connell was a high-level Republican operative and IT consultant, sometimes referred to as Karl Rove’s IT guru. At the time of the 2004 national election he was president of GovTech solutions, which was hired by Ohio Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell to set up an election website for the Ohio presidential 2004 elections.
Given the red-shift of 6.7% in the Ohio 2004 presidential election, the numerous irregularities surrounding that election, and the fact that the awarding of Ohio to Bush was responsible for his re-election, numerous lawsuits were brought in Ohio to challenge the election results. Given Connell’s close connections with Karl Rove and the Bush campaign, in combination with his official duties with respect to the presidential election in Ohio, he was sought to provide testimony in connection with a case that alleged tampering with the 2004 election. It was alleged in the case that Connell participated in vote tampering.
On September 17 and October 26, 2008, Stephen Spoonamore, a computer security expert and friend or associate of Connell, submitted affidavits that explained how he believed that the 2004 Presidential election was stolen in Ohio through computers that were under Connell’s control, and what he believed to be Connell’s role in the theft. On September 22, 2008, Connell was subpoenaed to testify in the case about the matters that Spoonamore had raised. Connell initially sought to avoid testifying, and even put forth a motion to quash his subpoena. But that motion was denied. When it became apparent that Connell would testify in the case, Connell was warned not to fly his plane:
Cliff Arnebeck, the Ohio lawyer who brought the suit and subpoenaed Connell, warned the U.S. Justice Department that Connell’s life might be in danger, and requested witness protection. On December 19, shortly before he was scheduled to testify, Connell died in a plane crash, presumably caused by his plane running out of gas, though circumstances strongly suggested otherwise.
7. National Corporate News Media and Other Power Structure Ignoring of Election Fraud
With the exception of Keith Olbermann for a period of time following the 2004 Presidential election, our national corporate news media never peeps a word about the issues I’ve discussed in this document. Although they are willing to acknowledge, when pressed, that our voting system is vulnerable to fraud, they make every effort to assure us that it rarely if ever actually occurs, or that it hasn’t changed the results of our elections if and when it has occurred. Indeed, they refer to people who believe that election fraud in a U.S. national election actually changed the results of an election, as “conspiracy theorists,” which they mean in a derogatory sense. They want us to believe that it is unthinkable that such a thing could happen in this country or that a sane and sensible U.S. citizen could believe such a thing. They are willing to acknowledge other forms of unfair elections, such as voter suppression, gerrymandering, and absurdly undue influence of money in politics, but the subject of actual successful electronic rigging of our elections remains an absolutely taboo subject among our national news media, politicians, and even most progressive news outlets. Yes, there has been a lot of talk by our news media of Russian interference in our 2016 Presidential election, and their intent to do so again in 2020. But when our corporate news media talks about this they are usually careful to reassure us that there is no evidence that Russian interference in our 2016 election actually changed any results. And to the extent that they sometimes omit such reassurances, I guess that this can be tolerated by the fact that it involves a foreign country, rather than the admission of internal, American rigging of our elections.
In 2008, Nate Silver wrote an article titled “Ten Reasons You Should Ignore Exit Polls”. Silver is perhaps the most well-known and respected pollster in our country. Consequently, when most people read his article on reasons to ignore exit polls, they take it at face value. Indeed, I have seen it cited by many people in arguing that exit polls are totally useless for the purpose of monitoring elections. Yet none of the 10 reasons for ignoring exit polls that Silver cites in his article is in fact a valid reason for ignoring exit polls or for suggesting that they aren’t of value in monitoring elections. I have read many of Silver’s other articles, and they all point to the fact that he is highly intelligent and has a great deal of statistical expertise. So why would such a highly respected pollster write such nonsense? I can only conclude that he was “persuaded” to do so by some very powerful people. I have no idea what form this persuasion took, but I can think of no other reason why he would risk his reputation among knowledgeable people by writing such nonsense. Here is one of the critiques I’ve written where I explain the many fallacies in Silver’s denigration of exit polls.
Massive election fraud in the United States, or even unsubstantiated evidence of it is, I believe, one of the most important news stories of our times – for the simple reason that everything else depends on it. I believe that we won’t be able to have meaningful reform in anything until this issue is adequately addressed, because our current government is far too corrupt to do anything that benefits ordinary people but which displeases those who control them. Therefore, this issue should currently be a central focus, if not the central focus of our news media, and I look upon the consistent efforts of our national corporate news media to conceal or willfully ignore this issue with great cynicism.
8. Why Do we Keep on Electing and Re-electing People so Unresponsive to our Needs?
American approval of its elected representatives in Congress over the past decade and a half has been extremely low for what one would expect of a Democracy with fair elections. Since March, 2005, Gallup polling has shown a Congressional approval rate that has hovered between 9% and 39%, not once hitting as high as 40%, with the vast majority of polls indicating approval rates in the teens or twenties. It seems as if either the people whom we vote for aren’t the same people who are winning elections, or that, if they are, for some reason, once they take office, they feel little or no need to respond to the desires or needs of their constituents, and yet their constituents keep on voting for them.
How can this happen? Of course, there are several counts on which our elections are unfair, other than manipulation of our electronic vote counts, including voter suppression, gerrymandering, the undue influence of money in politics, and bias of our national corporate news media. But I believe that the most important barrier to fair elections, in large part because it is invisible to public awareness, is the direct manipulation of the machines that count our votes
It seems to me that if a reason other than electronic manipulation of the vote was the main cause for electing the wrong people to public office, then that would be the most taboo subject, not electronic manipulation of the vote. I believe that the fact that this subject is so taboo in our country among news organizations and politicians, with no other plausible reason to explain that taboo, points to electronic manipulation of our votes as the major reason why we repeatedly elect to public office people who choose to serve the wishes of the powerful rather than the needs of those who presumably vote for them. The wealthy and powerful of our country tend to choose what is nationally taboo and what isn’t. It makes sense that they would choose as the most taboo subject that which has the greatest potential to cut into their wealth and power if it comes to public attention.
9. The solution
The solution is technically very simple. There are just a few basic principles:
1. Elections are a public, not a private matter
To the extent that private individuals or corporations have any role to play in our elections at all, they have no right whatsoever to restrict the public from examining any and all evidence pertaining to the counting of our votes, before or after elections. The fact that in a nation that calls itself a Democracy, we have allowed private corporations (often or usually with obvious vested interests in the outcome of the elections) to count our votes and then successfully restrict the public from examining evidence that could help to resolve questions about the integrity of our elections, is absurd. Any of our elected representatives who have contributed to this should be ashamed of themselves, and they should be removed from office.
2. Vote counts must be verifiable
That is, we cannot entrust the counting of our votes to machines that produce results that cannot be verified. Being verifiable means that the votes must be available in a physical form -- not just on a computer, which can be programmed to miscount the votes. Ideally, all vote counting should be done by hand counting of paper ballots. But if we can’t bring ourselves to accept this process of vote counting in return for verifiable election results, then we can go to solution #s 3 and 4:
3. There must be a solid verification process in place, to be used whenever elections produce controversial results, regardless of how large the margin of victory is
Having a verifiable system in place is of no value whatsoever if it isn’t used. There have been many very high profile national elections this century which evidence strongly suggests were stolen, and yet in every case where a full and properly conducted recount (i.e. hand recount of paper ballots) should have resolved the issue, all efforts for verification were successfully blocked.
The blocking of efforts to verify the integrity of our elections takes many forms. We have seen that the cost of having a statewide hand recount of the vote is sometimes jacked up to well over a million dollars, as a means of obstructing recounts. Individual citizens should not have the responsibility for raising money to pay for a recount.
Recounts should be built into the system, and the cost, which should be minimal especially if public volunteers are willing to donate their time, should be borne by the government. There should be a very low bar for hand recounting our elections, based on simple criteria that should be written into law so that our right-wing courts can’t block them.
4. There must be a valid monitoring process used for all elections, that will detect red flags as a signal that a recount is necessary
Valid means of monitoring elections include exit polls or audits. If exit polls or audits (i.e. hand counts of statistically valid samples of the votes) indicate that the election results are suspicious, then a hand recount of the entire jurisdiction should be done. This should NOT be dependent upon anyone requesting the recount or upon court rulings. It should be automatic whenever the red flag appears, indicating suspicious results.
The integrity of our elections is the most important issue facing the American people today. Without fair elections we have no democracy. Without fair elections we should expect that we will be ruled by someone else’s choice of rulers, rather than our own – as we are to a large extent today. We can expect that those in power will cater to the whims of those who put them in power, rather than to our needs.
The solution to the problem is technically very simple. It is mainly a matter of the political will to demand that we get our democracy back.