Sunday, December 12, 2004

Real Election Reform Now!

Please read this great analysis by Lynn Landes, entitled Voting Rights Groups 'Block' Talk of Machine-Free Elections. She notes:

"So much for a free and fair exchange of ideas. At conferences and hearings across the country, traditional voting rights organizations have successfully blocked any serious debate on machine-free, paper-only elections. It appears that our well-entrenched so-called 'voting rights' organizations, including the NAACP and ACLU, haven't absorbed the lesson from America's election debacles. They would rather invite the industry-funded National Association of State Election Directors (NASED) to speak at their conferences, than invite researchers and activists who will argue that the machines must go.

Tuesday's Dec. 7th conference in Washington, D.C., Voting 2004: A Report to the Nation on America's Election Process, sponsored by Common Cause, The Century Foundation, and LCCR (Leadership Conference on Civil Rights) was no exception. Instead of fighting for the peoples' right to a paper ballot and a hand count, the conference adopted the VerifiedVoting.org and Congressman Rush Holt's (D-NJ) prescription for voting integrity. It is beyond worthless.

It gives people false hope, instead of a sensible solution. Holt's legislation calls for ballot printers and audits. First, that leaves the machines in the voting process - ready, willing, and able to malfunction, break down, or not show up - causing chaos and confusion. Ballot printers won't fix that. Second, it proposes spot audits, which leaves the counting of ballots in the hands of the very election officials who prove with each new election how truly inept or completely evil they really are. And third, the only time paper ballots will be counted is in case of a 'close' election, ensuring that perpetrators of vote fraud will steal a sufficient number of votes to avoid triggering a recount. "

Check out the preliminary report from Common Cause based on extensive election monitoring activities, which includes participation running a national voter alert line (1-866-MYVOTE1) that received nearly 210,000 phone calls from 50 states, more than 1,000 election monitors nationwide and the collection of more than 1,700 voters' stories on their website.

Here is an excellent editorial making the case for election reform, entitled Election reform needed: U.S. system would fail certification elsewhere. It states:

“Former President Jimmy Carter - a veteran international elections monitor - pointed out that the Nov. 2 election in the U.S. would not have passed his certification in a Third World country. The United States has no nonpartisan national elections commission to ensure fair and equal treatment of all voters. Voting procedures vary wildly throughout the country. Worst of all, in some jurisdictions there is no voter-generated paper trail on which to base a recount in a contested race.

The fact that the nation avoided the kind of embarrassing meltdown that occurred in the 2000 presidential election is no reason for celebration. Ohio may have officially certified that President Bush won the state by 119,000 votes, but lawsuits have already been filed asking the Ohio Supreme Court to void the election results and declare John Kerry the winner.”

And there is this little ditty, from Ohio, of hubris and false outrage in Richland County, entitled Recount angers local GOP chief. It reads:

"Richland County Republican Chairman Mike Smith is not happy about a recount of last month's presidential election. 'This is the most insulting thing we've had to do since I've been involved in the election process. I know recount procedures are part of the electoral system, but the system stinks,' he said Thursday at the county board of elections meeting.'"

Nothing to hide? Then prove it to the world Mr. Smith by supporting the recount. Me thinks you doth protest too much…

For those new to this forum / issue, here are twenty facts about the 2004 election that are worth repeating. Thank you for the data Erik.

1. 80% of all votes in America are counted by only two companies: Diebold and ES&S.
2. There is no federal agency with regulatory authority or oversight of the U.S. voting machine industry.
3. The vice-president of Diebold and the president of ES&S are brothers.
4. The chairman and CEO of Diebold is a major Bush campaign organizer and donor who wrote in 2003 that he was "committed to helping Ohio deliver its electoral votes to the president next year."
5. Republican Senator Chuck Hagel used to be chairman of ES&S. He became Senator based on votes counted by ES&S machines.
6. Republican Senator Chuck Hagel, long-connected with the Bush family, was recently caught lying about his ownership of ES&S by the Senate Ethics Committee.
7. Senator Chuck Hagel was on a short list of George W. Bush's vice-presidential candidates.
8. ES&S is the largest voting machine manufacturer in the U.S. and counts almost 60% of all U.S. votes.
9. Diebold's new touch screen voting machines have no paper trail of any votes. In other words, there is no way to verify that the data coming out of the machine is the same as what was legitimately put in by voters.
10. Diebold also makes ATMs, checkout scanners, and ticket machines, all of which log each transaction and can generate a paper trail.
11. Diebold is based in Ohio.
12. Diebold employed 5 convicted felons as senior managers and developers to help write the central compiler computer code that counted 50% of the votes in 30 states.
13. Jeff Dean, Diebold's Senior Vice-President and senior programmer on Diebold's central compiler code, was convicted of 23 counts of felony theft in the first degree.
14. Diebold Senior Vice-President Jeff Dean was convicted of planting back doors in his software and using a "high degree of sophistication" to evade detection over a period of 2 years.
15. None of the international election observers were allowed in the polls in Ohio.
16. California banned the use of Diebold machines because the security was so bad. Despite Diebold's claims that the audit logs could not be hacked, a chimpanzee was able to do it!
17. 30% of all U.S. votes are carried out on unverifiable touch screen voting machines with no paper trail.
18. All -- not some -- but all the voting machine errors detected and reported in Florida went in favor of Bush or Republican candidates.
19. The governor of the state of Florida, Jeb Bush, is the President's brother.
20. Serious voting anomalies in Florida -- again always favoring Bush -- have been mathematically demonstrated and experts are recommending further investigation.

All coincidence, no doubt...

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