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Claims increase of machines switching votes in Ohio, other battlegrounds for Obama

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Fox News Channel

By  Published November 02, 2012 FoxNews.com

Imagine going to vote for your presidential candidate and pushing the button  on a touch-screen voting machine — but the “X” marks his opponent instead.

That is what some voters in Nevada, North Carolina, Texas and Ohio have  reported.

Fox News has received several complaints from voters who say they voted on  touch-screen voting machines — only when they tried to select Mitt Romney, the  machine indicated they had chosen President Obama. The voters in question  realized the error and were able to cast ballots for their actual choice.”I don’t know if it happened to anybody else or not, but this is the first  time in all the years that we voted that this has ever happened to me,” said  Marion, Ohio, voter Joan Stevens.

Stevens said that when she voted, it took her three tries before the machine  accepted her choice to vote for Romney.

“I went to vote and I got right in the middle of Romney’s name,” Stevens told  Fox News, saying that she was certain to put her finger directly on her choice  for the White House.

She said that the first time she pushed “Romney,” the machine marked  “Obama.”

So she pushed Romney again. Obama came up again. Then it happened a third  time.

“Maybe you make a mistake once, but not three times,” she told Fox News.

Marion County Board of Elections Director Sophie Rogers, though, said: “My  personal opinion is that she hit it too hard.”

“We’ve noticed people just punch on them. She might not have hit the square  that she wanted,” Rogers said.

Rogers insists there are no problems with the touch-screen machines in Marion  County and that after learning of Stevens’ complaint she took the machine out of  circulation and had it reexamined and recalibrated. She says there was nothing  wrong with the machine to begin with.

But in response to the growing number of complaints, the Republican National  Committee has sent a letter to election officials in six states — Ohio, Nevada,  Kansas, North Carolina, Missouri and Colorado — demanding tighter controls on  touch-screen machines.

The RNC wants the machines to be re-tested, more technicians added to fix any  problems, and verbal reminders given by election workers telling voters to  double check their ballots.

Multiple voters from several states wrote Fox News to report problems similar  to what Stevens reported.

One voter asked: “I wonder how many voters just hit the ‘Cast Ballot’ without  reading the machine?”

“How can we be sure our votes are not being stolen electronically?” asked  another.

One expert warns it can happen.

“Vote jumping complaints have arisen in every election that uses touch-screen  voting machines, with the complaints going both ways,” said Barbara Simons,  author of the new book “Broken Ballots: Will Your Vote Count?”

Simons, an expert on electronic voting who is on the Board of Advisors of the  U.S. Election Commission, said there is good reason for people not to trust the  older touch-screen machines.

She said, “This phenomenon can occur when a machine goes out of calibration.  The need to re-calibrate frequently is an important reason for discarding these  aging, unreliable, and inaccurate machines and replacing them with paper  ballots.”

Frequently recalibrating the machines is one of the RNC demands.

But election officials insist that the machines are practically foolproof.   They say any problems are due to human error, and that tinkering with  machines is almost impossible.

“It is nearly technically impossible to pre-program the voting machines in  Nevada to vote for a specified candidate,” said Nevada Secretary of State Ross  Miller, in a statement to Fox News.

He said machines are tested by each of the state’s 17 counties  individually.

“While it is possible for a voter to inadvertently select a candidate, it is  not possible for the machine to automatically select a candidate.”

Miller notes that similar allegations were investigated in his state during  the 2010 election, with the assistance of the FBI.  Authorities found that  claims that machines “were pre-programmed, malfunctioning or in any way  preventing any voter from casting a ballot for the candidate of their choice  were without merit.”

Miller, a Democrat, brands the Republican demand to election officials as  “based upon rumor, hearsay, or unconfirmed media reports,” as well as  “irresponsible” and “unfortunate.”

He said his office has “not received any direct, first-hand complaints from  voters.”

In Ohio, touch-screen machines, for example, are being used in Lorain County  with no reported “switched votes” or operational issues.

“We haven’t had any problems with the touch screens this year and everything  is going well,” Lorain County Board of Elections Director Paul Adams told Fox  News.

His county has used touch-screen machines since 2005.

Adams, a veteran election official, said that in his county, machines are not  electronically designed to be able to change choices, and there is no way for  anybody to rig a machine or pre-program its choices for one candidate or a  slate.

“We have heard of these issues in some of the other counties. We had sporadic  issues a few years ago, and since then we have upgraded our software and our  board has replaced most of our touch-screen unit screens if there were any  problems with them. And since we’ve done that about a year and a half ago, we  haven’t had any major issues.”

Lorain County did replace 400 of its 1,200 touch screen machines last  year.

Adams also notes that there is what is called “a paper trial,” like a  receipt, where voters can see their choices printed out. He also says that  anybody who has a problem voting should immediately tell elections  officials.

While Fox News spent the day at the County Board of Elections, where early  voting was taking place, election workers were doing just that.

One woman’s long fingernails blocked her selection, until she moved the angle  of her fingers to get it right.

An elderly man did not realize that he did not cast a vote for president, so  a worker did exactly what Adam advises. She walked the voter through the  process.

“I pushed the button!” the man declared.

“You might have accidently hit it twice. Just lightly tap it, real light,”  advised the worker.

She also showed the voter the paper evidence of his votes to confirm  them.

“Are you satisfied?”

“Yes, thank you very much,” the voter replied.

Nevertheless, Joan, who said she finally was able to cast a correct vote  after three attempts, advises fellow voters to confirm their choices.

“Be very careful when you vote. I don’t care who you vote for, just  double-check.”

If you suspect problems and the polls or voter fraud where you live,  tell us: Voterfraud@Foxnews.com

Fox News’ Meredith Orban contributed to this report.

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2012/11/02/claims-increasing-switched-votes-in-ohio/#ixzz2B6P0zNEy

 

omney: Debates ‘diminished’ Obama

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Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan in Ashland todayBy |

RENO, Nev.Mitt Romney continued to claim momentum in the aftermath of his debates with President Barack Obama, insisting that the forums boosted his campaign but “diminished” his Democratic opponent’s.

“He’s now been reduced to talking about ‘Sesame Street‘ characters and word games and misplaced attacks on me,” Romney told a crowd of roughly 2,500 people here.

The GOP nominee said Obama had “four debates”—including the vice presidential debate—to “lay out” a plan for the future but failed to do so.

“You can boil down what he’s saying to four simple words: ‘more of the same,'” said Romney.

For months, Romney has mocked Obama’s campaign slogan (“Forward”), telling audiences it should have been “forewarned” instead. Today he revised that attack, telling the crowd Obama’s plan “doesn’t feel like forward. It feels like backwards.”

As he has in recent weeks, Romney expressed confidence he’ll win the election, telling the crowd here he understands how to jump-start the struggling economy and “that’s why I’m going to win.”

Yet in a sign of how close the election is, Romney shook up his usual stump speech. He peppered his remarks with examples of voters in their “40s or 50s,” women and younger people who he said would benefit under his presidency.

Speaking in a swing district in a swing state, Romney called the upcoming election a “defining” moment for the country.

“I think the choice you make here in Nevada—and perhaps right here in Reno—will make a difference for the nation, will make a difference for the families of the nation and will make a difference for your family,” Romney said.

It was a theme he hit repeatedly while urging his audience to consider the impact of their vote.

“This election is about your family and families across this country, and the choice we make will have an enormous impact on your family,” Romney said. “I understand what it’s going to take to get this country strong again and to provide the answers that your families need. This is an election about two very different pathways for America.”

CEO to Workers: I May Fire You if Obama Wins

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Tax

 

By Robert Frank | CNBC

David Siegel, the owner of Westgate Resorts, sent a surprising email to his employees Monday.

David SiegelIt said that if President Barack Obama wins re-election and raises Siegel’s taxes, he will have to lay off workers and downsize his company – or even shut it down.

“If any new taxes are levied on me, or my company, as our current President plans, I will have no choice but to reduce the size of this company,” he wrote. “Rather than grow this company I will be forced to cut back. This means fewer jobs, less benefits and certainly less opportunity for everyone.”

 

In a version of Romney’s “47 percent” remarks, Siegel added that “people like me who made all the right decisions and invested in themselves are being forced to bail out all the people who didn’t. The people that overspent their paychecks suddenly feel entitled to the same luxuries that I earned and sacrificed 42 years of my life for.”

The points are ones that have often been made during this election. But what makes the letter surprising is the source.

David Siegel is the man who, together with his wife, Jackie, built the largest new house in America, known as “Versailles.” His story first appeared in my book, “The High-Beta Rich.” It then made it to the big screen with documentary film “The Queen of Versailles.”

They became symbols of outsized spending, debt and real estate in America.

But when the company started buckling under $1 billion in debt during the crisis, the Siegels’ home went into foreclosure and was put up for sale. They cut back on the jet, took the kids out of private school and gave up some of their staff.

So why is David Siegel – a man who defined excess and debt in the 2000s – now saying that debt and spending are ruining the country?

I asked David during a phone interview last night, and he told me that this was about his workers, not himself. He said his own finances have vastly improved. He has paid off all of his major lenders. “I have enough money for the rest of my life and enough to leave a good inheritance for our kids.” He said the loan for Versailles is paid off and he’s resuming construction on the home.

“The elevators are going in and they’re preparing to put in the marble.”

The deal with Versailles’ lenders, he went on, worked out “better than I imagined,” since he was allowed to go nine months without making any interest payments on the loan. Jackie has several offers for a new reality TV show “which we’re in the process of ranking and evaluating,” Siegel said.

He has learned his own painful lesson from the debt crunch. “We cut back, we’re lean and mean. That’s what the rest of the country has to do.”

Siegel said he’s not acting out of self interest, but for the interest of his workers. While Westgate has never been more profitable, the company has 5,000 fewer workers than in 2007.

He said that if Obama is re-elected and imposes Obamacare and higher taxes, he may just have to let more of his remaining 7,000 workers go. He said he might even shut down the company.

“The combination of Obamacare and taxes would be a disaster,” he said.” I would probably just call it a day and that would be a disaster.”

Siegel stressed that he wasn’t out to intimidate his workers into voting for Romney. “I can’t tell anyone to vote,” he said. But he wants to make sure his workers made an informed choice. “I want my employees to be educated on what could happen to their future if the wrong person is elected.”

Below is the full email that Siegel sent to his employees Monday. (Siegel admitted to me that he used a similar email circulating on the web as “the basis” of his own email).

Subject: Message from David Siegel

Date:Mon, 08 Oct 2012 13:58:05 -0400 (EDT)

From: [David Siegel]

To: [All employees]

To All My Valued Employees,

As most of you know our company, Westgate Resorts, has continued to succeed in spite of a very dismal economy. There is no question that the economy has changed for the worse and we have not seen any improvement over the past four years. In spite of all of the challenges we have faced, the good news is this: The economy doesn’t currently pose a threat to your job. What does threaten your job however, is another 4 years of the same Presidential administration. Of course, as your employer, I can’t tell you whom to vote for, and I certainly wouldn’t interfere with your right to vote for whomever you choose. In fact, I encourage you to vote for whomever you think will serve your interests the best.

However, let me share a few facts that might help you decide what is in your best interest.The current administration and members of the press have perpetuated an environment that casts employers against employees. They want you to believe that we live in a class system where the rich get richer, the poor get poorer. They label us the “1%” and imply that we are somehow immune to the challenges that face our country. This could not be further from the truth. Sure, you may have heard about the big home that I’m building. I’m sure many people think that I live a privileged life. However, what you don’t see or hear is the true story behind any success that I have achieved.

I started this company over 42 years ago. At that time, I lived in a very modest home. I converted my garage into an office so I could put forth 100% effort into building a company, which by the way, would eventually employ you. We didn’t eat in fancy restaurants or take expensive vacations because every dollar I made went back into this company. I drove an old used car, and often times, I stayed home on weekends, while my friends went out drinking and partying. In fact, I was married to my business – hard work, discipline, and sacrifice. Meanwhile, many of my friends got regular jobs. They worked 40 hours a week and made a nice income, and they spent every dime they earned. They drove flashy cars and lived in expensive homes and wore fancy designer clothes. My friends refinanced their mortgages and lived a life of luxury. I, however, did not. I put my time, my money, and my life into this business –with a vision that eventually, some day, I too, will be able to afford to buy whatever I wanted. Even to this day, every dime I earn goes back into this company. Over the past four years I have had to stop building my dream house, cut back on all of my expenses, and take my kids out of private schools simply to keep this company strong and to keep you employed.

Just think about this – most of you arrive at work in the morning and leave that afternoon and the rest of your time is yours to do as you please. But not me- there is no “off” button for me. When you leave the office, you are done and you have a weekend all to yourself. I unfortunately do not have that freedom. I eat, live, and breathe this company every minute of the day, every day of the week. There is no rest. There is no weekend. There is no happy hour. I know many of you work hard and do a great job, but I’m the one who has to sign every check, pay every expense, and make sure that this company continues to succeed. Unfortunately, what most people see is the nice house and the lavish lifestyle. What the press certainly does not want you to see, is the true story of the hard work and sacrifices I’ve made.

Now, the economy is falling apart and people like me who made all the right decisions and invested in themselves are being forced to bail out all the people who didn’t. The people that overspent their paychecks suddenly feel entitled to the same luxuries that I earned and sacrificed 42 years of my life for. Yes, business ownership has its benefits, but the price I’ve paid is steep and not without wounds. Unfortunately, the costs of running a business have gotten out of control, and let me tell you why: We are being taxed to death and the government thinks we don’t pay enough. We pay state taxes, federal taxes, property taxes, sales and use taxes, payroll taxes, workers compensation taxes and unemployment taxes. I even have to hire an entire department to manage all these taxes. The question I have is this: Who is really stimulating the economy? Is it the Government that wants to take money from those who have earned it and give it to those who have not, or is it people like me who built a company out of his garage and directly employs over 7000 people and hosts over 3 million people per year with a great vacation?

Obviously, our present government believes that taking my money is the right economic stimulus for this country. The fact is, if I deducted 50 percent of your paycheck you’d quit and you wouldn’t work here. I mean, why should you? Who wants to get rewarded only 50 percent of their hard work? Well, that’s what happens to me.

Here is what most people don’t understand and the press and our Government has chosen to ignore – to stimulate the economy you need to stimulate what runs the economy. Instead of raising my taxes and depositing that money into the Washington black-hole, let me spend it on growing the company, hire more employees, and generate substantial economic growth. My employees will enjoy the wealth of that tax cut in the form of promotions and better salaries. But that is not what our current Government wants you to believe. They want you to believe that it somehow makes sense to take more from those who create wealth and give it to those who do not, and somehow our economy will improve. They don’t want you to know that the “1%”, as they like to label us, pay more than 31% of all the taxes in this country. Thomas Jefferson, the author of our great Constitution, once said, “democracy” will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would not.”

Business is at the heart of America and always has been. To restart it, you must stimulate business, not kill it. However, the power brokers in Washington believe redistributing wealth is the essential driver of the American economic engine. Nothing could be further from the truth and this is the type of change they want.

So where am I going with all this? It’s quite simple. If any new taxes are levied on me, or my company, as our current President plans, I will have no choice but to reduce the size of this company. Rather than grow this company I will be forced to cut back. This means fewer jobs, less benefits and certainly less opportunity for everyone.

So, when you make your decision to vote, ask yourself, which candidate understands the economics of business ownership and who doesn’t? Whose policies will endanger your job? Answer those questions and you should know who might be the one capable of protecting and saving your job. While the media wants to tell you to believe the “1 percenters” are bad, I’m telling you they are not. They create most of the jobs. If you lose your job, it won’t be at the hands of the “1%”; it will be at the hands of a political hurricane that swept through this country.

You see, I can no longer support a system that penalizes the productive and gives to the unproductive. My motivation to work and to provide jobs will be destroyed, and with it, so will your opportunities. If that happens, you can find me in the Caribbean sitting on the beach, under a palm tree, retired, and with no employees to worry about.

Signed, your boss,

David Siegel

Romney’s strong debate showing puts Europe on edge

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By Luke Baker | Reuters

Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney speaks during the first presidential debate with President Barack Obama (not pictured) in Denver October 3, 2012. REUTERS/Jason Reed

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – President Barack Obama’s lackluster performance in the first U.S. election debate provoked uneasiness in European capitals on Thursday, where hopes are mostly, if unofficially, pinned on his securing a second term.

While a lot can change before the November 6 vote, and Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney will go head to head twice more before then, polling conducted immediately after the debate showed Romney came out overwhelmingly on top.

A flash poll by CNN showed 67 percent of viewers thought Romney had ‘won’, with just 25 percent for Obama. Intrade, an online prediction market, cut Obama’s re-election prospects from 74 percent to 66 percent.

In Europe, where leaders and finance officials have worked closely with the Obama administration over the past 2-1/2 years trying to resolve the euro area debt crisis, there was particular consternation at Romney’s singling out of deficit-ridden Spain as a poorly administered economy.

“Romney is making analogies that aren’t based on reality,” Foreign Affairs Minister Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo told reporters after a meeting of his centre-right party.

Leading Spanish daily El Pais highlighted the fact that Spain was the only European country mentioned, and contrasted Romney’s negative depiction of it with Obama’s praise for Spain’s renewable energy policies during the 2008 campaign.

“Spain has never been mentioned in a presidential debate as a symbol of failure,” the left-leaning newspaper lamented. “What happened last night makes history. And not in a good way.”

Political commentators in France and Germany registered surprise at Obama’s underwhelming performance, saying the election could be much tighter as a result.

“Obama showed a lack of desire to be president, which could put him on shaky ground as a presidential candidate,” said liberal German news magazine Der Spiegel.

“It’s now clear that to get back into the White House the U.S. president needs running shoes, not flip-flops.”

France’s Le Monde appeared equally surprised by Obama’s sub-par performance. “Where did the favorite go?” it asked on its front page, with a headline below saying: “Obama fails his first televised debate against an incisive Romney.”

LEANING OBAMA’S WAY

In private, many EU diplomats have no qualms about saying they want Obama re-elected; it is no secret that many European countries, whether led by centre-left or centre-right governments, are more broadly aligned with the Democrats when it comes to social and tax policy, the environment and a range of foreign-affairs issues.

That is something Obama has sought to exploit in the past. In the run-up to a G8 meeting at Camp David in May, White House officials firmly pressed their European counterparts to rally behind Obama’s policy initiatives, according to those involved.

“It was like all of the G8 apart from Russia and Japan were expected to be part of the Obama re-election campaign,” the chief of staff of one European leader told Reuters at the time.

Washington has also applied quiet pressure on Europe in recent months about the need to avoid a major blow-up in the debt crisis ahead of the election, in part so as not to rattle the U.S. economy, several EU officials have told Reuters.

Europe’s leaders have good reason to go along; they want to keep a politically risky crisis under wraps, too, and they want to expand the close working relationship they have developed with Obama’s administration over the past four years.

“The Europeans have a general uneasiness about a Romney presidency,” said Jan Techau, the director of Carnegie Europe.

“It’s not because they don’t like him, but there are a lot of neoconservative policy advisers who would come back into office under a Romney presidency, and that is a prospect that a lot of European leaders are not comfortable with.

“There’s a general tendency to stick to what you know and what you have been working with,” he told Reuters.

“DEAL WITH IT”

Romney has also not done much to endear himself to the Old World. During a visit to Britain ahead of the Olympics in July he cast doubt on how well prepared London was to host the games, and in Israel days later he appeared to criticise Palestinian culture, leading to widespread condemnation.

One of Romney’s advisers on a “Europe working group” is Nile Gardiner, a Briton who was an aide to former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and now works for the conservative Heritage Foundation in Washington.

In an opinion piece in the Washington Times last month, Gardiner was decidedly downbeat on Europe, saying the continent was in terminal decline and European integration was misguided.

“The European Project is falling apart, drowning in a sea of debt, and driven by bureaucrats in Brussels who lack any semblance of democratic accountability,” he wrote.

Those sorts of opinions among the circle around Romney have raised hackles in Europe and fuelled hopes that his challenge for the White House will fail.

Obama still holds an advantage in opinion polls, including a daily Reuters/IPSOS tracking poll that gives him a 47 percent to 41 percent lead over Romney, a margin that has held fairly steady since mid-September.

With just 33 days before the election, Romney still has a hill to climb to unseat Obama, but two more strong performances in the debates could tip undecided voters his way.

In Europe, leaders are watching closely and will be ready to suppress their Romney reservations if need be.

“Even though we have a natural predilection for Democratic presidents, we’ll embrace the next U.S. president whoever he is,” said one diplomat in Brussels. “We just have to deal with it.”

(Additional reporting by Michelle Martin in Berlin, Fiona Ortiz in Madrid and Alexandria Sage in Paris; Writing by Luke Baker; Editing by Will Waterman)

DNC predicts Romney debate win in battle of lowered expectations

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by Lexi Stemple | September 29, 2012

It’s a further lowering of expectations ahead of the first debate in Denver  next week.

Mitt Romney Steve Pearce event 057

Woodhouse says the way the DNC sees it, challengers win the first debate when  they are up against incumbents.

Mitt  Romney has had a lot more time to debate, the president has not debated in  the past four years in terms, of a campaign debate. I think the president will  hold his own, but he’s not known for sound bites. And these are 60 second, 90  second responses.”

Woodhouse says Democrats are “trying to be realistic about expectations”  because the president is “lucky to be able to devote three consecutive hours to  debate preparation.”

Woodhouse also paints Romney as a good debater and gives him credit for  “dispatching Newt  Gingrich” who Woodhouse considers a pretty good debater.

Woodhouse said he wants to see Obama “talk from his heart about where the  country was and where he wants to take the country.”

He’s looking to see the president connect with Americans during the debate,  the way Woodhouse thinks Obama was able to do in Charlotte during the Democratic  National Convention.

The first debate will focus on the economy, and Woodhouse wants specifics  from Romney on his economic plans.

“It’s going to be interesting to see if Mitt  Romney will bring more than just zingers to get under the president’s skin,”  he said. “It would be nice if he came with some substance for example like his  tax plan or his plan to voucher-size Medicare.”

Read more: http://politics.blogs.foxnews.com/2012/09/29/dnc-predicts-romney-debate-win-battle-lowered-expectations#ixzz27z10fOij

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