Re: [ElectionIntegrity] Re: Taskforce on FederalLegislation

From: Alan Dechert <dechert_at_gmail_dot_com>
Date: Sat Nov 18 2006 - 03:43:36 CST

Not sure this belongs here, but I'll bite (note that I did not cc all those

Sounds like Barbara was in a challenging discussion with Paul and asked him
something like, "so what have you done?" starting a little flame war.

But is it a problem that some person or group of people felt that they had
the right solution? Is that really what "went wrong in the beginning" some
years ago, as Bev posits? I don't think so.

What we had was a general realization that there was a problem with the
voting system, with cacophony resulting from many people promoting a great
variety of ideas for "solutions." I don't think it's possible to narrow it
down to any one person or group of people making more bad noise than all the
others. No one had both the vision and the requisite stature to grab hold
of the system and take it in the right direction.

Some thought it might be the presidents of CalTech and MIT (Baltimore of
CalTech started that one). No luck.

GWB had the stature, but no vision. Others had the vision but no stature.

I agree when Bev says, "Put the concepts to the test of public scrutiny and
debate. Have confidence that an open and inclusive discussion will be
productive." We're more likely to have the best ideas gain currency if we
ignore the stature of the people promoting the ideas.

Alan D.

----- Original Message -----
From: "Barbara Simons" <>
To: "Black Box Voting" <>
Cc: "Ginny Ross" <>; "PDA" <>;
<>; "Paul Lehto" <>; "Open
Voting Consortium" <>; "Mark Crispin Miller"
<>; <>; "Coordinators EDA"
<>; <>
Sent: Friday, November 17, 2006 4:53 PM
Subject: Re: [OVC-discuss] [ElectionIntegrity] Re: Taskforce on

> 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
> contributions.
> 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
> countries.
> 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.
> Regards,
> Barbara
> 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
>> ----------------------------------------------------------------
>> This message was sent using IMP, the Internet Messaging Program.
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Received on Thu Nov 30 23:17:09 2006

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