READER COMMENTS ON
"BBV: New Holt Election Reform Bill Would Allow 'Surreptitious Dismantling of Self-Government'"
(13 Responses so far...)
COMMENT #1 [Permalink]
said on 2/25/2009 @ 2:06 pm PT...
There's this "high wire" act being played out over elections and state's rights.
Elections are states' rights territory, which is why we have so much of a mess, state by state, yet HAVA, is a federal law, mandate on voting, including some requirements.
And we should reverse privatization in voting. The government should be in charge of all aspects of the elections. What a concept! How many countries in the world have a system like ours, if you can call it "a system"?
COMMENT #2 [Permalink]
said on 2/25/2009 @ 2:38 pm PT...
Am I correct that the voting system in Venezuela is computer driven electronics but that they use open source code?
COMMENT #3 [Permalink]
said on 2/25/2009 @ 3:22 pm PT...
... NYCartist said...
"HAVA, is a federal law, mandate on voting, including some requirements."
Yep, it was HAVA that mandated... and it was the states, in the form of activists, academia, state election officials and Secretaries of State who pushed back.
If not for the states then the EAC would now be be mandating e-voting for all... no exceptions.
Hell, the EAC has already been caught telling state election officials that HAVA made e-voting
mandatory anyway... which it did not.
They'd have gotten away with it too... if not for those darn bloggers!
COMMENT #4 [Permalink]
said on 2/25/2009 @ 3:37 pm PT...
OT: Franken-Coleman Election Contest
Like you, I wondered why the MN Supreme Court would let the candidates have veto power over absentee ballots. But there's a method to their madness. It turns out that it's settled law and by following it, the Supes made it more difficult for Coleman to appeal:
COMMENT #5 [Permalink]
said on 2/25/2009 @ 3:43 pm PT...
"Allowing" states to run their own elections smacks of top/down bias totally inconsistent with the system of shared power our country's based on. If we're going to have a revolution against federalism in favor of "unity" or "Uniformity" or against "so much of a mess, state by state" then let's have an open, honest, transparent debate about whether a revolutionary alteration of our political structure to eliminate federalism in elections (aka "state's rights") is or isn't a good idea. Just because we had one historical experience (the Voting Rights Act) in which a problem was regionally isolated to the South and a few pockets elsewhere does NOT mean that the feds are superior in solving a systemic nationwide problem whose primary driver is HAVA, a federal law.
so add to Bev Harris's silent revolution against self-government the silent revolution against decentralized or shared power. One has a much better chance (even if it's still not a powerful chance) of influencing one's own state representatives from much smaller districts than one does in influencing Congresscritters. Thus, eliminating state's rights moves ever more power upward to Washington DC, where it take real serious money, power and/or incredible nationwide organizational efforts to have an effect.
Witness Holt, we're told that private vendors "won" in some undefined power negotiation at which I highly doubt the principles of JEfferson or any other freedom loving person were vigorously advocated.
No rational informed person would agree to secret vote counting. Yet that's what Holt says the riddance of which "can't win" against the corporate vendors. Such preposterous statements can't survive the light of a transparent public debate, thus all they can do is IGNORE the people, their rights, and blithely and without support declare victory before there's even been a public debate.
Bottom line: the increase in top/down control that would come with decreased federalism/local control/state's rights in elections is one major component of the revolution against self-government, in favor of a top-down DC run oligarchy of some sort.
COMMENT #6 [Permalink]
said on 2/25/2009 @ 6:34 pm PT...
About done with my analysis of the draft version of the bill.
Question: If Representative Holt turns out to again be unreceptive to input on the things that matter... do we draft and float our own version of the bill as an example of the minimum that needs to be done before 2010?
COMMENT #7 [Permalink]
said on 2/25/2009 @ 6:48 pm PT...
Thank you, Brad Friedman for being first out of the gate to speak out against this abomination (again)!
And thank you Paul Lehto for your excellent post. Indeed, we are seeing a surreptitious but effective attack on democratic elections in the following areas:
a) The genious of democracy is dispersal of power, yet, as Paul Lehto points out, the Holt Bill, and Internet voting proposals afoot in Washington state and elsewhere, seek to centralize power.
b) Self-government cannot co-exist with secret vote counting. If you can make a case otherwise, please do --- I cannot imagine how a system where government insiders count our votes in secret can be compatible with self-government. And if we do not control the government WE set up and WE pay for, we are slaves.
c) We are also seeing attempts to strip away political privacy, from overt recommendations to do away with the secret ballot (unwise, and a ridiculous concept in this age of data mining and manipulation). These efforts include Internet voting (which will delete your political privacy), unique identifiers on ballots (which the new scanners can capture in databases matched to your vote); and ballot tracking software.
We have a new administration, but because of the subtlety of these quiet attacks on the firmament of our democratic structure, we are in fact at a stage where the risk to self-government can be characterized as "a clear and present danger."
COMMENT #8 [Permalink]
said on 2/25/2009 @ 10:25 pm PT...
I wonder how Congress would react to a bill barring the public and the press from all criminal trials. Why don't we ask Mr. Holt how he'd feel about that and if he objects let him give us his reasons. That would be an interesting exercise.
Maybe Holt would protest, explaining that publicity provides an essential check against abuse and assures the owners of the government, the public, that the trial is fair. Because after all, "One of the demands of a democratic society is that the public should know... to the end that the public may judge whether our system ... is fair and right."
But do we really need to judge with our own eyes? Why shouldn't we have confidence that the judge and prosecutor and defense attorney will always do the right thing. I mean just because we've abhorred secret trials all these centuries, times are different now, right?
But, an honest public servant worthy of his office would protest: "Public access is essential...to achieving the objective of maintaining public confidence."
That's OK Rush,- we'd be happy just getting the transcript. We don't need to actually observe the trial.
But being a learned man and a representative of the people, Mr Holt might admonish us: "Publicity serves as a check upon... officials. Recordation... in the character of checks... operate[s] rather as a cloak than check; as cloak in reality, as check only in appearance."
Nah, we trust you, after all you're our government, why shouldn't we? To which a representative of Congress, sworn to uphold the constitution might insist, but open trials are important. "Open trials give assurance that the proceedings were conducted fairly ... and discourage...misconduct."
That's OK, we'd demure. We have busy lives you know. Who needs access to actually observe government functiong. After all there's a prosecutor and a defense attorney- that's what's government is for- to take care of the people's business. You're all honest guys right? I mean you took that oath of office didn't you?
And if Mr. Holt was qualified to serve as a representative of the people we'd expect he'd be familiar with the constitution and the decisions of the highest courts. In which case he'd remind us that the public's "presence serves to assure the integrity of what goes on." And that
"[O]pen... proceedings are essential to fulfill the...guarantees to the people of this Nation that they shall retain the necessary means of control over their institutions."
Control over our institutions, huh? We have that right?
* the above referenced quotes were all taken from the Supreme Court decision in Richmond Newspapers Inc. v Virginia, 100 S.Ct. 2814 (1980) in which the court recognized the public had a constitutionally protected right to observe and attend criminal trials for all of the reasons articulated above, and more.
COMMENT #9 [Permalink]
said on 2/26/2009 @ 1:59 am PT...
We really don't need "sophisticated" computer technology to count votes in our elections. We could have a transparent election process using standard video technology and transparent plexiglass ballot boxes.
Train a video camera(s) on each election precinct polling place with the signal fed to an internet website channel that could be viewed by any member of the public anywhere in the country to that verify honest election procedures are followed. The video record of the election process at the precinct level could be stored and retrievable from the internet, as well.
At the end of the election day, each voting precinct could have a couple of well rested and fresh election officials come in to do an efficient and speedy manual tally at a blackboard, pulling out each ballot and marking the results on the blackboard in video view of the internet web world.
There would be hundreds of such precinct voting channels operating simultaneously on the web, with local, state, and national viewers and journalists monitoring results in real-time at the most basic local level to the top election center compiling the individual precincts' raw vote tallies.
The simplest computers running spreadsheet software, or even electronic calculators, or pencil and paper, could be easily used for tabulating and verifying the results from each of the precincts to compile totals for the election contests of the larger legislative districts, townships, counties, states, etc. Every citizen would have the information at their disposal on the web to do their own personal verification of the honesty of the process and the tallies at any and every election precinct.
If each voting precinct only had, say, 500 or 1000 voters' ballots to distribute, collect, and count at the end of the day, it need not take but a few hours for any precinct to complete a vote tally. If all of these precincts do this counting nearly simultaneously in any time zone, state, or region, the time required to count any one precinct's votes should be about the same to have all of the precincts' votes tallied.
COMMENT #10 [Permalink]
said on 2/26/2009 @ 4:20 am PT...
I'm tellin' ya Bev, if the Corporations want personhood they have to fold up and dissolve after 38 years or so, the same length of time as an average person's productivity.
There is no such thing as a person that does not die, the corporations can't have it both ways.
Get them the fuck out of the peoples business.
COMMENT #11 [Permalink]
said on 2/26/2009 @ 9:58 am PT...
Oregon has a bill in the legislature this session to allow evoting for overseas military. The camel's nose under the tent.
We have all mail-in voting here, with counting by optical scan at the county elections department. I agree with Brad, that it is ripe for fraud. Last session a voter protection organization submitted a bill that required random hand counts to verify votes in precincts throughout the state. However, the State Director of Elections and Democratic Senator Kate Brown (Majority Leader of the Senate and now our Secretary of State) gutted the bill and replaced it with an ineffective "placebo" check on validity of the vote. It is a sad story. We need to go back to precinct voting AND COUNTING. I agree with videotaping everything.
COMMENT #12 [Permalink]
said on 2/26/2009 @ 3:43 pm PT...
SandyD, I'm a judge of elections here in ole PA and I couldn't agree more!
COMMENT #13 [Permalink]
said on 2/26/2009 @ 3:45 pm PT...
An Bev, hats off as always!