Re: Barbara Simons on Holt [OVC-discuss Digest, Vol 56, Issue 13]

From: Hamilton Richards <hrichrds_at_swbell_dot_net>
Date: Sun Jun 28 2009 - 21:11:15 CDT

At 12:00 PM -0700 2009/6/28, wrote:
>Message: 1
>Date: Sat, 27 Jun 2009 19:22:56 -0700
>From: "Alan Dechert" <>
>Subject: [OVC-discuss] Barbara Simons on Holt
>To: "Open Voting Consortium discussion list"
> <>
>Message-ID: <24F6FEB9361743E3A32A93E0E27D54DF@loft>
>Content-Type: text/plain; format=flowed; charset="iso-8859-1";
> reply-type=original
>Barbara Simons wrote,
>> Apparently, Alan Dechert is planning to do his own
>> rewrite of the Holt bill by eliminating sections he doesn't
>> like. He then plans to distribute his version to Congress,
>> and ask them to pass it. I find Dechert's political naivety
>> overwhelming. One can hold out for the perfect bill, and get
>> nothing - which is precisely what we have gotten for the past
>> several years. Or, one can make the necessary compromises
>> needed to get an improved, if not perfect, bill passed.
>We don't need an election reform bill for the sake of having an election
>reform bill. We need a trustworthy, verifiable, transparent, usable,
>cost-effective, accessible, accurate, easy-to-use, and bug-free voting
>system. The system needs to be owned, operated, and maintained by The
>People. The system must be based on non-proprietary technology.
>If the bill doesn't give us that, then we don't need it. The system I speak
>of is quite attainable technically. Why settle for ES&S?
>> Using Dechert's philosophy, there is no way that any kind of
>> climate or healthy care legislation would pass Congress this year
>> or for the foreseeable future.
>This comment is idiotic and insulting. Heath care legislation and climate
>legislation will not be impacted negatively by moving to a public-owned
>voting system.

In Barbara Simons's defense, I don't think she means that striving
for a public-owned voting system would prevent passage of climate or
health-care legislation. What she does mean is that if the philosophy
of holding out for the perfect bill were applied to climate or
health-care legislation, it would prevent passage of any legislation
in those areas.

Obviously the best outcome for any legislative campaign is passage of
the ideal bill in one shot. If that turns out to be impossible, two
alternatives are (1) keep trying again and again to get the ideal
bill passed, wearing down the opponents' resistance, and (2) passing
a series of less-than-ideal bills, each of which gets a step closer
to the ideal legislation. It seems Alan favors the first approach,
whereas Barbara Simon prefers the second.

Of course there's room for disagreement as to whether the Holt bill
is a step in the right direction, or is so far off course as to be
worse than nothing. I have to concede that I haven't yet read enough
about the Holt bill, or about the legislative strategy behind it, to
have formed a firm opinion on that issue.


Hamilton Richards, PhD           Department of Computer Sciences
Senior Lecturer (retired)        The University of Texas at Austin      
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Received on Tue Jun 30 23:17:18 2009

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