Re: [ElectionIntegrity] Re: Taskforce on Federal Legislation

From: Barbara Simons <simons_at_acm_dot_org>
Date: Fri Nov 17 2006 - 18:53:05 CST

Dear Bev,

Yes, I asked Paul what he had done, because my only interaction with
him up to the recent rather unpleasant exchange was when he asked me to
be an expert witness for a trademark case. So, I knew that he had some
involvement for which I assume he is paid, as is appropriate. But I
didn't know what other involvement he might have had.

By contrast, I never would have asked you what you have done. You have
made enormous contributions, much or all of which has been done on a
pro bono basis. If it weren't for you, for example, we probably
wouldn't have had the Diebold source code. That is just one of your
major accomplishment, and regardless of whether or not we see eye to
eye on the Holt bill, I shall always be grateful to you for your

You mentioned something about Ph.D.s, though I don't recall that I ever
asked anyone, including Paul, if he or she had a Ph.D.

Quite frankly, as I said in my response to Paul, I felt that he was
attacking me and even insinuating that I was engaged in traitorous
activities. So, yes, I shot back. I think you would have too.

In retrospect, as I mentioned to someone else on this list, it was
probably a mistake for me to have sent the response that I sent,
because it was written in anger - always a dangerous thing to do. I am
not angry now.

I noticed that Paul presented his cv in his response to me. Well, I
guess I asked for that. I won't giving mine in response, not least of
which because I know I'd be accused of being arrogant again. However,
you know that I've been fighting paperless DREs for a long time, and,
as I also said, I have long since become convinced that the retrofitted
DREs are almost as bad. They should all be junked, in my opinion, or
rather recycled for parts - so that they aren't sent to other

This discussion began when I naively posted to these lists asking for
recommendations that could be used to improve the Holt bill for the
next go-round. A few people have responded with recommendations, and I
appreciate those responses. I have other obligations, such as writing
a book, in addition to engaging in debates with folks on this list. I
shall do my best to absorb and understand those recommendations that I
do receive, and I'll respond to them. I'll try to find the time to
write a response to Paul's lengthy posting.

However, if folks are convinced that hand counted paper ballots are the
only viable option, if they believe that the Holt bill will actually
reduce the chances of requiring hand counted paper ballots, if they
don't believe that it's possible to conduct statistically significant
random audits of optical scan ballots, independent of what
statisticians say, then I don't see any point in continuing the
discussion. I've long since given up arguing with people over beliefs.

I thought that I was trying to be democratic and inclusive in my
initial posting. Instead, I got slammed as an elitist traitor. Next
time I'll know better.


On Nov 17, 2006, at 1:02 PM, Black Box Voting wrote:

> Barbara,
> Part of the problem in the election accountability movement is the
> elitism. You
> chastise Paul on issues of style, then say to him, "What have YOU
> done/" That's
> an issue of style that is more angry and condescending than anything I
> read in
> Paul's well-reasoned argumentation.
> It seems to me that what happened, and this began a few years back,
> was that a
> specific group of individuals decided that they themselves were the
> best
> experts, the most wise, and should prescribe for the rest of America
> what the
> "correct" solutions are and what the "best" strategy is. That's where
> it went
> wrong in the beginning.
> The fundamentals of democracy involve a perspective of inclusiveness.
> I was told
> that some citizens groups were marginalized and omitted from all
> discussions
> because it was important to "build consensus." But what does building
> consensus
> actually mean?
> It doesn't mean assemble a small group of experts and pronounce a
> solution, then
> ridicule and attack those who disagree. That's the politics of
> exclusion and
> force, not inclusiveness and robust debate.
> I think it is so very important to be able to discuss these issues
> without
> saying "I've done more than you", or competing with academic degrees,
> papers
> written, committee appointments, or what have you. Instead of focusing
> on
> entitlement, let's focus on the ideas themselves. Put the concepts to
> the test
> of public scrutiny and debate. Have confidence that an open and
> inclusive
> discussion will be productive.
> No one asked Thomas Jefferson if he had a Ph.D. I don't recollect that
> Thomas
> Paine was a scientist. Benjamin Franklin didn't start his efforts at
> persuasion
> by saying "I've done a lot more work than you!"
> The truth is, when we open up a real discussion, and I commend Ginny
> Ross for
> this idea, I think that a lot of eyes will be opened very quickly as
> to how
> hard EVERYONE is working on this and what a tremendous amount they
> bring to the
> table.
> Bev Harris
> Founder - Black Box Voting
> "Never put it in a funnel."
> Always PROPAGATE evidence to at least 5-7 different places:
> - A reporter
> - Black Box Voting
> - Your local elections office (this will seed it into the public
> record)
> - Your e-mail list
> - Your local elections reform group
> - The EIRS reporting system
> - A blog
> - Someplace unexpected
> EVIDENCE = video, audio, photos, public records
> (stories and anecdotes are not evidence)
> Citizen Tool Kit to Take Back Elections:
> * * * * *
> Be part of the solution: Please sign up for the NATIONAL HAND COUNT
> action=register
> Make November elections the biggest evidence gathering action ever.
> videotape, audiotape and photos. Come prepared. This time, focus on the
> COUNTING not just the voting.
> Black Box Voting is a nonpartisan, nonprofit 501c(3) elections
> watchdog group
> funded entirely by citizen donations.
> To support our work, go to
> or mail
> to:
> Black Box Voting
> 330 SW 43rd St Suite K
> PMB 547
> Renton WA 98055
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Received on Thu Nov 30 23:17:09 2006

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