[OVC-discuss] Fwd: (USA) 6/09 - VOTING RIGHTS GROUPS OPPOSE NEW HOLT BILL

From: Edward Cherlin <echerlin_at_gmail_dot_com>
Date: Wed Jun 24 2009 - 16:53:24 CDT

FYI.

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Bev Harris <bev@blackboxvoting.org>
Date: Wed, Jun 24, 2009 at 2:50 PM
Subject: (USA) 6/09 - VOTING RIGHTS GROUPS OPPOSE NEW HOLT BILL
To: echerlin@gmail.com

YOU CAN DISCUSS THIS HERE:
http://www.bbvforums.org/forums/messages/8/80460.html

CHERRY-PICKING ELECTION REFORM ADVOCATES, STACKING THE EXPERTS DECK

As far as I can tell, the New York Times in its recent editorial -
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/22/opinion/22mon2.html?emc=eta1  (which
did not even provide the correct name for the bill) did not contact or
seek any input the many voting rights and election reform groups that
oppose this bill; among those omitted, Black Box Voting,
VotersUnite.org, Open Voting Consortium, or Democracy for New
Hampshire's voting rights writer Nancy Tobi, who has been examining
Holt's various renditions of his bill for years; nor did they mention
the opposition of Brad Friedman of Bradblog, interview voting rights
scholar and attorney Paul Lehto, or confer with the Election Defense
Alliance.

So here are the statements by some of the election reform leaders
whose input was omitted by the New York Times:

STATEMENT AGAINST HOLT BILL BY BLACK BOX VOTING
http://www.bbvforums.org/forums/messages/8/80460.html

STATEMENT AGAINST HOLT BILL BY OPEN VOTING CONSORTIUM
http://gnosis.python-hosting.com/voting-project/June.2009/0039.html

STATEMENT AGAINST HOLT BILL BY BY VOTERS UNITE:
http://www.votersunite.org/info/2009HoltBillTimeline.pdf

STATEMENT AGAINST HOLT BILL BY NANCY TOBI, DEMOCRACY FOR NEW HAMPSHIRE
/ ELECTION DEFENSE ALLIANCE
http://www.opednews.com/articles/2009-Holt-Bill-E-Voting--by-Nancy-Tobi-090329-832.html

Below is the editorial from Black Box Voting; links above will take
you to more editorials from election reform leaders, opposing and
rebutting the latest incarnation of Holt's perpetually flawed proposal
for election reform, currently known as "The Voter Confidence and
Increased Accessibility Act of 2009 (HR 2894)".

I realize that passions run strongly on this. My perspectives come
from six years in the field, on the front lines of some of the most
troubled locations in America. I often hear "Don't let the perfect be
the enemy of the good." Based on my first-hand experiences, I must say
that this bill CANNOT be characterized as "good," and will accelerate
the damage to our human rights already done with HAVA. If you are
troubled by the position I'm taking on this, please don't hesitate to
post your comments or e-mail me personally: bev@blackboxvoting.org - I
have already "seen the varmint," and am not at all tempted to go jump
into the Holt.

STATEMENT OF BLACK BOX VOTING AGAINST HOLT BILL

We are in agreement that DRE voting machines need to be eliminated,
but not at the expense of human rights. We don't need a "Holt Bill."
What we do need:

PROTECT AND DEFEND PUBLIC ELECTION PRINCIPLES

(1) Protect and enforce right to know for every essential component of
our public elections -- eliminate practices which allow government
insiders to conduct key parts of elections in secret;

(2) Protect and enforce required checks and balances -- strengthen
compliance, remedies and enforcement.

(3) Restore necessary mechanics for public elections: Require
voter-marked paper ballots unless assistive device is required.

WHAT'S WRONG WITH THE HOLT BILL

The Holt Bill loses ground, further violates human rights, and
actually reduces right to know. What Holt's "Voter Confidence and
Increased Accessibility Act" provides that we do NOT want:

1. Increased (and for the first time, federally legislated)
obstruction for public right to know

2. Mislabeled so-called "audits," which in addition to being unwieldy
and expensive, produce false confidence. As proposed in the Holt Bill,
they will do more harm than good.

3. Increased federal intrusion on rights to local governance.

4. Unfunded mandates for new-age voting machines that walk, talk, and
dance the Macarena. Or at least, that grow hands and walk your ballot
over to the box so you can't touch it.

The problem with these persistent new incarnations of the Holt Bill is
that they jump to solutions without correctly identifying the core
problem. The core problem is not voting machine "security", and it's
not outside "hackers", and objections to the Holt Bill are not about
trying to get "hand counted paper ballots." It's not about whether to
have voting machines or not have voting machines. The real issue is
protecting human rights.

Very simply, you cannot have liberty -- an inalienable right --
without self-government, and you cannot have self-government if
essential components of the election are performed in secrecy by
government insiders.

Each essential component in a public election must be publicly
observable and understandable, without specialized knowledge, and the
public must have access to remedies when witnessing violations of the
law.

The principles I reference derive from the Declaration of
Independence, the Seneca Falls Declaration (which formed the
foundation for the women's suffrage fight), the Universal Declaration
of Human Rights (1948, signed off by the United Nations), and the
German high court's decision on e-voting, which does an excellent job
of articulating the principle that all essential parts of the election
must be subject to public oversight without requirement for special
knowledge.

MECHANICS

There are principles, and there are mechanics which act to allow us to
comply with principles of right to know and self-government. So let's
move on to mechanics:

Regarding one of the essential elements of public elections, the
vote-counting phase, the public needs something to look at that can be
understood without specialized knowledge. We have such a thing in most
places: Paper ballots. We need a one-trick pony piece of legislation
to require voter-marked paper ballots.*

* With the possible exception of New York, where the lever machines
actually are understandable by the public without specialized
knowledge, and the New York procedures (if enforced and made public
rather than party-centric) do allow the public to look and verify.

WHY VOTER-MARKED BALLOTS?

"Ballot marking devices", which print your ballot and spit it out for
you, provide an inferior method of voting because they force you to
become a proofreader. There is a 50-year body of research in cognitive
studies showing that, as a rule, we are awful proofreaders. Our brains
are wired to connect the dots rather than examine all the pixels in
the dots. Try as we might, we skip over and let our brain complete the
picture automatically.

In fact -- as any publisher will attest -- proofreading is a
specialized skill that requires training, plenty of time, and a high
level of discipline. It's definitely not something to require the
public to do at a voting booth with a 2-year-old tugging at you and
with a line of antsy voters behind you. Thus the need for not just
ballots, but voter-marked ballots, with the exception of those
requiring assistive devices.

WHY AREN'T THE SO-CALLED "AUDITS" ACTUALLY AUDITS?

A real audit leads with a management report. The management report
identifies the checks and balances (like chain of custody) and
evaluates whether procedures were sufficient to protect the spot-check
portion of the audit. If the checks and balances were not followed, or
were not in place, the audit disclaims any opinion on the numbers,
regardless of whether they match. If people were allowed to call
numbers-matching an "audit" in the world of financial investments,
while skipping the accompanying management report, we'd have a whole
lot of Americans losing their life savings when they invest.

The danger of mislabeling these vote spot-checks as "audits" is that
for unsophisticated audiences, like reporters and citizen activists,
it gives the impression that there was an audit, when actually there
was only a spot check sans checks and balance evaluation. You won't
know whether you are spot-checking real or counterfeit ballots.

There is not a single election, or proposed procedure or bill, that
offers a real audit and the Holt Bill certainly does not. It may not
be possible to do a real audit within the time constraints involved in
elections.

What's in the Holt Bill are not audits. The distinction is not
trivial. And no, these spot-checks mislabeled as audits are not
"better than nothing" unless you happen to be spot-checking an honest
election. In a dishonest location, you won't find a dang thing and
you'll end up with matching numbers and false confidence.

If people invested in the stock market based on mislabeled audits like
this, we'd have millions of people holding stock that turns into hot
air.

THE NEXT DANGER TO DEMOCRATIC ELECTIONS: HOLT BILL WILL CREATE FORCED
MAIL-IN VOTING

By making polling place voting too expensive and complicated to
administer, the kinds of taxpayer-funded extravaganzas in the Holt
Bill will force communities to close polling places. Black Box Voting
is involved right now in a detailed analysis of the real risks with
mass absentee voting. The more we learn, the more concerned we have
become.

It is not too strong a statement, based on what we have now learned,
to characterize mass mail-in voting systems as the ultimate step*
towards elimination of public elections. The attack vectors for mass
mail-in voting can circumvent paper ballots, real audits, and even
hand counts. These systems turn the whole kit and caboodle over to a
small handful of insiders, who can execute a large number of essential
election functions in secrecy.

*The same can be said for Internet voting schemes.

Now would be a good time to write your US Representative to voice your
opposition to HR 2894, The Voter Confidence and Increased
Accessibility Act of 2009, often referred to as "The Holt Bill." Links
to more information at top of this public service message.

Bev Harris
Founder - Black Box Voting
http://www.blackboxvoting.org

* * * * *

Government is the servant of the people, and not the master of them.
The people, in delegating authority, do not give their public servants
the right to decide what is good for the people to know and what is
not good for them to
know. We insist on remaining informed so that we may retain control
over the instruments of government we have created.

* * * * *

Black Box Voting conducts original research into voting rights issues
throughout the USA, gets these issues covered by mainstream media,
distributes key issues to activists nationwide, and mentors local
citizens who take action.

If you believe investigation and public awareness is important, please
consider making a tax-deductible donation (very much needed and
appreciated!)
http://www.blackboxvoting.org/donate.html
or mail to:
Black Box Voting
330 SW 43rd St Suite K
PMB 547
Renton WA 98057

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-- 
Silent Thunder (默雷/धर्ममेघशब्दगर्ज/دھرممیگھشبدگر ج) is my name
And Children are my nation.
The Cosmos is my dwelling place, The Truth my destination.
http://earthtreasury.org/worknet (Edward Mokurai Cherlin)
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Received on Tue Jun 30 23:17:14 2009

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