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On the horizon in 2011

Happy New Year!

I’ve been trying to figure out what the next year should be about.  Should it be the economy?  The war?  Equal rights for women?  But I keep coming back to the same point: protecting our right to vote.  Without that, nothing else you want to accomplish matters.  It is this right that I think is most under threat, if it hasn’t already technically disappeared.

Here in NJ, we vote on electronic voting machines that don’t print a paper trail.  Back in 2006, Rush Holt, Congressperson from  NJ-12 (including Princeton), found out how easy it was to rig the voting machines and tried to introduce bills in Congress that would ensure the accuracy of the votes cast.  Here’s a recap of a Diebold hack:

In response, Holt introduced HR2894, The Voter Confidence and Increased Accessibility Act of 2009:

Voting is the foundation of democracy, but there are still states and jurisdictions in the United States that use unauditable electronic voting machines whose vote tallies cannot be confirmed independently. To ensure the integrity of our elections, Rep. Holt introduced bipartisan legislation in the 111th Congress.  Entitled The Voter Confidence and Increased Accessibility Act of 2009 (HR 2894), it would create a national standard that will ensure the accessibility, verifiability, and auditability of every vote in the United States. Votes are valuable, and each voter should have the knowledge – and the confidence – that his or her vote was recorded and counted as intended.  Enacting this legislation would be a big step in restoring that confidence.


As Rep. Holt has said, “It is time to stop gambling with our elections and implement a national standard that will require that elections be independently auditable, and routinely audited.  This legislation will ensure that every vote in the United States is recorded and counted as intended.

Bill Summary (click here for bill text)

  • Requires a voter-marked or ballot-marking-device paper ballot be produced for every vote cast in time for the November 2010 elections. (this deadline has already passed but it’s not too late for the upcoming primary season and presidential election)
  • Provides that printer-equipped electronic voting systems used in 2008 elections can be used after 2010 but are to be replaced with paper
  • ballots before the first federal election in 2014.
  • Ensures that the paper ballot is the vote of record in all recounts and audits.
  • Requires routine random audits be conducted by hand count in 3 percent of the precincts in all Federal elections, and 5 percent or 10 percent in very close races.
  • Bans wireless devices, Internet connections, and uncertified and undisclosed software in voting and tabulating machines.

This bill hasn’t passed yet.  It has been referred to the Committee for Technology and Innovation.  Note that the bill was stalled in a DEMOCRATIC Congress.  It’s hard to believe that there would be that much trouble fitting voting machines with a printer to print out a paper receipt of the vote cast for retention by the precinct for count verification, and a duplicate receipt to be retained by the voter.  And think of all the employment this could generate as thousands of voting machines are retrofitted throughout the nation.  This is not rocket science, people.   We have a year before the first primaries start.  Any excuse that would prevent a verifiable paper trail is unacceptable. If a machine can’t be retrofitted in time, paper ballots should be offered as an alternative.

This is an issue that voters of both parties can get behind.  Without verfiable voting, you can’t be sure that your vote counts for regulating the banksters, protecting social security, stopping the wars or even electing a third party candidate.  With more and more voting machines being rolled into every precinct around the country, there will be increased risk that the votes will be tampered.  Moreover, the temptation to do so will become overwhelming.  And we have seen in the past that problems with butterfly ballots and deliberate shortages of voting machines in just a few key districts can swing the results of an election and have significant political ramifications for our nation.  The argument over malice vs stupidity becomes irrelevant when one party declares victory and the candidate is sworn in because the votes cannot be verified.

We, the voters, have been burned too many times in the past 11 years to remain complacent about guarding our voting rights.  If the outcome of an election is predetermined, then your rights as a citizen to participate fully in your democracy are violated.  And if the thugs who rig an election get away with it because no one has the means to protest, then you no longer have a means to influence your government and the politicians in charge no longer feel constrained to behave in a manner conducive to your well being.

So, I would like the left blogosphere to take a leading role in moving HR2894 forward and see it passed into law.  There  is no more important bill in Congress right now.  Let’s put pressure on Congress to move this bill and see which representatives from both parties support it and which do not.  We need to start asking our politicians hard questions about how they intend to protect our voting rights and how serious they are about not obstructing voters’ choices in primary and general elections.

Make 2011 the year the voters put their feet down and defend their rights.  All other rights and functions of government flow from your right to vote.

PS, if anyone from Holt’s office can tell us how we can help, please contact us.

And, from Spain, here is the ideal voting experience:

31 Responses

  1. Quid custodiet ipsos custodes?

    • Isn’t latin a dead language?
      Doesn’t anyone speak English anymore???

    • Here in my county we have scantron ballots. They can be counted and recounted by machine, audited and hand counted.

      Of course some people are too dumb to master the intricacies of scantron

      • yup, we have them in parts of PA too and they work fine. My question is how can we make sure that caucuses run as smoothly?

        • By getting rid of them?

          • All in favor, say “Aye”!

          • AYE

            I was thinking that they could have their meetings and talk about candidates etc… but then vote on a verifiable machine. Even paper ballots did us in during 2008 as we saw how Obamadroids just stuffed them with fake ballots.

          • If you want a “Golly Gee!” explanation of what happened in the caucuses, you should listen to Ari Berman’s interview on virtually speaking from a couple of weeks ago.
            His reaction to Idaho was like, “And the Obama voters at the caucuses came out of the woodwork!”
            People who had never been to a caucus before showed up in *amazing* numbers. They’d never seen anything like it.
            Yep, only in America could Idaho, with a population density of 15.64 people/sq mile, have greater impact on a party’s nomination than New Jersey with a population density of 1134 people/sq mile. I take that back. NJ *did* count when all of its delegates were given to Barack Obama in direct contradiction to the final votes in the state where Hillary Clinton won by 10 points.
            Not even a by your leave. Way to go, Jon.

          • 1 in 10 Americans live in California. We moved our primary up to Super Duper Tuesday so we could have a voice in choosing the nominee.

            Hillary won this state by 10 points.

            Obama got all the delegates.

          • I don’t think CA participated in the roll call. You guys have some law about first ballots must go to the winner of your state. Gloria Allred made a big stick about it in Denver and the state never reported its delegate count. In fact, I don’t think CA’s delegate vote was even reported informally.
            It was different in NJ. I don’t think we have a law preventing outright theft of delegates. So, Jon Corzine handed them over to the enemy, lock, stock and barrel.
            Pissed me off to no end. But I’m pretty sure CA was skipped in the roll call. All the caucus states reported, of course.

          • Here’s what I heard when I was in Denver the day of the delegate vote and roll call:

            The delegates were given ballots in their hotels in the morning. They were told they had until some time in the mid afternoon to vote. There were a bunch of obama whips making sure the delegates voted quickly and most delegations were finished before lunch. But the vote was really close and there was a lot of pressure on stubborn delegates to change their votes. This was especially true of some delegates from either Kentucky or Tennessee who were threatened with loss of their jobs if they didn’t switch. Then, there were a group of Edwards delegates who voted for Edwards earlier in the morning but approached the head of their delegation asking to switch their votes to Hillary because Edwards had dropped out. They were told they couldn’t and that it was too late. By one, the numbers were in. Obama had “won” the delegate count. Nothing was to be done. Clinton released her delegates. But some delegations were still counting their votes, California being the biggest one. So, the roll call proceeded and skipped CA. I think that was just an excuse because the party put CA in a tight spot. Gloria Allred was really pissed off and I wouldn’t be surprised if she threatened some legal action. The CA delegates could have been in hot water if they’d switched their votes so to save face, they said they weren’t done counting. If I’m not mistaken, Pennsylvania also didn’t get called. I remember that there was turmoil in the PA delegation before the convention with some delegates refusing to participate in pre convention meetings.
            It was really, really nasty. The reports we heard from the hotels from various delegates is that the Obama whips were acting like a bunch of thugs, which turned out to be correct, after all was said and done. They badgered delegates, screamed at them in hotel lobbies, “invited” them to meetings in hotel rooms where they were yelled and screamed at and intimidated until they gave in and agreed to switch their votes.
            That goes to show you not how much the 2008 convention was “Obama’s convention” and coronation but just how close it really was. He went to the convention with a paper thin margin of a handful of votes, most of them stolen and he had to make his numbers look much bigger than they were. Corzine was one of the few delegate heads who capitulated completely. There were others but they were from smaller or caucus states. CA and PA, two pretty big states, did not get counted at the roll call.
            For more delegate stories from the convention, some of them truly heartbreaking, check out the compilation at Alegre’s Corner. Here’s one of the reports from delegates about what happened in Denver. http://alegrescorner.soapblox.net/showDiary.do?diaryId=970

          • IIRC…CA was passed over on the initial roll call. They go alphabetically and CA passed on first round
            CA’s delegates, if voted honestly would have put Hillary in the lead, and we couldn’t have actual truth in ore elections.
            It was a sham.

            On 2nd round after Obama pretty much arm twisted enough votes, Barbara handed over CA delegates to The Won.

            I am still disgusted.

            Marc Rubin wrote a good article shown here earlier week. I printed it out and I am sending it to my Democratic representatives.

            I won’t ever forget.

            In CA, polling places are closing and we are moving to mail in ballots. I’ve been voting absentee for a decade. It’s so convenient and I can do my homework and vote at my leisure.
            I usually drive to my polling place and hand it to a poll worker and get my I Voted sticker.

          • More reports from delegates in Denver.

          • Here’s the money quote and the whole reason the roll call was done this way:

            A Super Delegate reported that “CA “passed” without ever recording its votes because the Hillary delegation stood firm and had the vote been given accurately, Hillary would have been temporarily ahead in the roll call”.

            The DNC did not want it to look like Hillary was ahead for even one second. They always wanted her portrayed as a loser so that there wouldn’t be any chance of Hillary delegates demanding a floor fight. CA was passed over because they couldn’t get their numbers to agree with the narrative.
            The whole primary/convention season was a charade and a fraud perpetrated on the voters. There were hundreds of delegates that reported the pressure they were under behind the scenes and away from any prying cameras to switch their votes.
            So, we should not be in the least bit surprised that Obama governs as he does. He “won” by thuggery and he doesn’t have to listen to anyone.

          • California law states that elected delegates must vote for the candidate they represent on the first ballot. Afterwards, they can switch. Hillary had the most delegates and to avoid legal issues with a Dem convention rigged for Obama to win, the California delegation was forced to pass.

            And then we had the styrofoam Greek columns and the acceptance speech that was modeled after a Bill Clinton State of the Union speech so that Obama could borrow some presidential aura.

      • Down south here in OC, we have the electronic voting but a paper ballot is printed before the vote is submitted… you look it over and either accept or reject it…

        no copy for the voter though.

    • If you make the e-voting machines completely transparent using open source and with verifiable mechanisms like the paper trail, then you don’t need another layer of watchmen.

  2. Ask the O-bots that have sobered up from their kool-aid induced fever dreams about Teh One if verifiable voting would have made a difference as far as legislation they wanted to see passed.

    There aren’t enough honest Representatives or Senators to counteract the bought and paid for members in congress so this whole thing about one person one vote is meaningless.

    • Seems to me that every decent and honest politician would LOVE to co-sponsor this bill and would look forward to enthusiastically voting for it so it could be signed by the Enfranchiser in Chief, Barack Obama.
      Doncha think?
      It’s a no-brainer.

  3. Since there was no “Year Zero” the new millennium started in 2001.

    That makes 2011 the first year of the second decade of the third millennium.

  4. In Wa we had paper ballots in most counties and hand counts and recounts. The problem is the Dem party completely disregards our primary voting results and just selects their candidate by caucus. I’ve tried to figure out why we even hold a primary and convince all these people to go out and vote when the results won’t have anything to do with who gets (s)elected, but I’ve never been able to figure it out.

  5. OT and don’t hate me for saying this, but I’m convinced one of the problems the progressive blogosphere is having right now is taking the works of Franzen, Larsson and Sorkin too literally. They are works of fiction, and the authors are (were) storytellers.

  6. My county uses optical scan, which is probably the next best thing to the previous mechanical voting booths that never had any problems. THis year, they were so overwhealmed that they didn’t have enough privacy booths to fill out the ballot.

    I have to disagree with the take-away paper receipt for the voter, since they could use it to be paid by an unscrupulous political machine. That kind of proof of services rendered is just to tempting when the average vote now costs $12 in political ads.

  7. woke up about an hour ago unable to fall back asleep I came to read what people have to say since I posted here and now I am so mad I will probably never get back to sleep. Obama is bush 3 in so many ways. I pray the republican party gets a brain and nominates a moderate woman in 2012 so I can go to work for her campaign. I don’t even care if she is “pro-life”. What the hell do I care, I haven’t had a uterus in over 26 years.

  8. When I read about how easy it was to tamper with one particular set of voting machines (I think it was NoQuarter, that brought it up) – all you needed was a key and a bit of pivacy/complicity and you could change the … ticker(?) – I was dumbfounded. And even more so when it wasn’t screamed from every news outlet! That’s the kind of thing we don’t accept from countries we call undemocratic! Go figure.

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