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A suggestion about demands for OccupyWallStreet

Update: Is anyone soaping “99%” on their windows tomorrow?

The Big Dawg has weighed in regarding OccupyWallStreet and says that the movement has to start making its intentions known.  He suggested that OccupyWallStreet get behind Obama’s jobs program but we’ve already seen what a failure that bill was.  It was too little, too late and came with too many long term effects to social security.   But now that OWS has seized Pilate’s wife, it has to issue some demands.

So, assuming that the 99% want some say over what to do with the money they earn through actual, you know, *work*, part of the task has to be to get politicians to rewrite the rules and reimpose regulations so we don’t get screwed again.  At the top of the agenda should probably be some set of policies that reward people who make their living from work over people who make their living through investments.  If it is the case that the 1% has the money to lobby the rulemakers to write the rules in its favor, then it must also be the case that there are rulemakers who will happily do its bidding and not ours.  The only way to change that is to get rid of a lot of rulemakers and replace them with rulemakers who are more to our liking.  And the only way to do that is to vote the compromised rulemakers out of office.  But before we get to the point where we decide who gets to stay and who has to go, there has to be a mechanism in place that will ensure the integrity of the voting process.  Because, as we have seen recently, the rulemakers are very intent on preventing the wrong kind of people from voting.  Then there is the problem of voting machines.  They are very easy to hack and most states do not require a paper trail.

There is a proposed remedy for this.  Rush Holt, congressman from NJ’s 12th district, has proposed a bill called the Voter Confidence and Increased Accessibility Act of 2005.

On February 2, 2005, Rep. Rush Holt reintroduced the Voter Confidence and Increased Accessibility Act (HR 550), a bill designed to restore confidence in the outcomes of elections and in our electoral process generally. The measure would require all voting machines to produce an actual paper record that voters can inspect to check the accuracy of their votes and that election officials can use to verify votes in the event of a computer malfunction, hacking, or other irregularity. Experts often refer to this paper record as a “voter-verified paper ballot.”

“Anything of value should be auditable,” said Holt. “Votes are valuable, and each voter should have the knowledge—and the confidence—that his or her vote was recorded and counted as intended. Passage of this bill will be a big step in restoring that confidence, which is the very foundation of our democratic republic.”

The bill was sponsored in 2005 and was reintroduced by Holt in 2009, probably with the sunny optimistic view that with Democrats in the driver’s seat, the bill would have a prayer. But it has been sitting in committees ever since.  I guess it was too much to ask the Democrats to pass it when they had majorities in both houses, because that would have been politically astute and the right thing to do but Democrats don’t seem to have a good sense of self-preservation.  Don’t expect the Republicans to do it.  That’s not their thing.  But if there is a movement demanding its passage, well, that would be a very big step in the right direction.   Because no matter how popular this movement is, it can’t do a damn thing if there are irregularities with the voting system.  When the vote is compromised and can’t be reliably verified, you’ve already lost.

Consider it a ‘first principles” thing.  Demand the integrity of the voting system so that the 99%’s voice can never be overridden during a election.  You’ll see pretty quickly who’s on your side and who isn’t and the answer may surprise you.  It also has the added benefit of favoring neither party, which is what you want.  The act is only intended to benefit voters and make sure there is a verifiable paper trail.  And who among the 99% can argue against that?  Part of the problem with this country is that people don’t think their votes count.  Here’s a way to make sure they do.  (We’ll have to tackle the corrupt party primaries separately)

Voting should be orgasmic.

32 Responses

  1. I really can’t understand what is the difficulty with voting machines. We use them pretty much exclusively here in Brazil since 2000. We have much confidence in them, and they made easier for illiterate people to vote since we use numbers for each party/candidate and display pictures. But then we don’t elect our officials by 1% margin. While we are not without corruption and politics legislating in favor of themselves or special groups, the sheer number of parties we have prevents anyone from getting something without making concessions to smaller groups like the ecologists, gay activists, worker rights advocates. Our FDR was a president called Vargas, and while there was some erosion of worker rights since his time (he implemented most of the reforms on 1937), we are still quite happy with our laws.
    Back to the voting machines… we don’t have a paper trail, but we also didn’t have any recalls since then, or any complaints of fraud, even though for president we basically have only two parties that are really electable.

    • Hi Julio, I don’t have a problem with voting machines either. I think the technology is great. However, the machines we use here are from many different manufacturers. Some people use Diebolds, some people use Sequoias (that’s what I vote on). And congressman Holt has proof from investigators at Princeton University that some of these machines are very easy to hack. It’s easy to change the votes without the voter being aware of it.
      I’m glad you don’t have any perceived problems in Brazil but here in the US, we have had numerous instances of voting irregularities. For example, in 2000, Al Gore actually won the election in both popular vote counts and electoral votes. But the election was overturned in Florida where George Bush’s brother was governor. There were some voting machines that were improperly formatted. Some other machines had votes that didn’t register. Most of these problems were technical but they were used to overturn the election. In that case, voting machines would have been preferred but could only have been trusted with the use of a paper trail to prevent one family from overriding the will of the rest of the country.
      In 2004, there were numerous complaints of voting irregularities in Ohio. Ohio is an important swing state. In that election, there was a shortage of voting machines in minority districts and, when the count was going on, some electronically cast votes appeared to be tampered with. John Kerry lost that election. Ohio was significant.
      Just last week I read an article that reported that another brand of voting machine could be tampered with using a USB stick and no additional programming skills.
      It seems that the US insists on voting integrity for every other country in the world but ourselves.
      As long as a paper trail can be printed out to verify the votes of the machines, what is the objection? This bill has been stalled in congress for 6 years. It should be a no-brainer.
      So, ask yourself, why is it that the votes can’t be traced?

      • Sounds like something that could also be done at the state level. I agree that it should be a very high priority, if not number one.

      • I think this is probably one of the many examples where the search for profit has deleterious effects. Here in Brazil we got one model, created by the government institutions. We also have an audit process that tests about 3% of the voting machines every time.
        I think both the Al Gore/Bush election and the Obama/Clinton primary gave ample example of corruption of the electoral process in the US.
        The surprise I expressed is not really based on the need for good voting machines, is more like, is such a no-brainer that I can’t really believe this problem exists.
        But then, both the emphasis in private enterprise and the power of the states, I guess what is surprising is that you didn’t break down in a million pieces by now, from our point of view in foreign lands.

        • Any electronic system can be rigged if the will is there to rig it. So, consider yourself lucky so far. The only way to maintain the integrity of the voting system is to demand a paper trail either by a paper ballot or a paper receipt. That way, the votes can be cross checked.
          Otherwise, you could have a “photoshopped” election, if you know what I mean.

  2. How about fighting public and private cronyism as one of the demands of OccupyWallStreet? That would get the attention of the majority..

    • Isn’t that what they’re doing? And anyway, how do you make that stick?
      The only way to make it stick is for rules to be written to make the game fair and the only way to get the rules written is to depend on politicians to write them and the only way to get honest politicians is to make sure your vote counts when you elect them. It’s much harder to buy a predetermined outcome if there is a paper trail.

  3. Corporate buys our politicians…I would have thought a high priority issue would be in lobbyists purchasing support from the politicians, and election reform to stop the billion dollar campaigns. We can’t get honest politicians if they are so easily bought. A few dollars from the insurance industry certainly drowned out the voices of millions of Americans on the health care topic.

  4. I think that this is a very good suggestion. As I mention in my own new piece (written in response to yours), there are three potential problems:

    1. Electoral reform, although terribly important, is not directly an economic issue. OWS is, or should be, focused on the economy.

    2. Fair elections will help the Democrats. Fine in my book. But some will argue that you are now asking for OWS to make the segue into partisanship.

    3. Brad Friedman, the point man on electoral reform, stands against Rush Holt. Friedman is a purist who wants paper-only elections.

    I agree with the purist position. But there are no paper-only bills before Congress. Holt is what we have. My post offers an argument against Brad’s position: http://cannonfire.blogspot.com/2011/10/birlliant-idea-and-not-just-for-ows.html

  5. (Riverdaughter: For some reason, your system put a bunch of gobbledegook where my name should have gone. I’m trying it again.)

    I think that this is a very good suggestion. As I mention in my own new piece (written in response to yours), there are three potential problems:

    1. Electoral reform, although terribly important, is not directly an economic issue. OWS is, or should be, focused on the economy.

    2. Fair elections will help the Democrats. Fine in my book. But some will argue that you are now asking for OWS to make the segue into partisanship.

    3. Brad Friedman, the point man on electoral reform, stands against Rush Holt. Friedman is a purist who wants paper-only elections.

    I agree with the purist position. But there are no paper-only bills before Congress. Holt is what we have. My post offers an argument against Brad’s position: http://cannonfire.blogspot.com/2011/10/birlliant-idea-and-not-just-for-ows.html

    • Yeah, I don’t know why your user name comes out that way. It has a good beat but it’s hard to dance to.

      I like you ideas. The fact that Democrats might get more seats doesn’t mean that OWS should take a partisan stand. If more Democrats is what the people want, shouldn’t that be what they get? How do we know that independents might not pick up more seats?

      I’d prefer a third party option but that’s another mountain to climb.

  6. 1. Constitutional Amendment to get ride of the Supreme’s decision that corporations are people.

    2. Banksters and financial dopes doing perp walks in orange jump suits.

    3. Reinstate Glass-Steagall OR a better version.

    4. A massive public works program.

    Those would make me very happy.

    • Great! Which one of your elected representatives can you count on to pass all that?

      • Ahhh, none? But I can ask!

        Shit, I’d be happy with two out of four.

        Tomorrow, my SO, Sis and BIL will go to the kick-off of Occupy Tuscon. Can’t wait.

  7. If Obama and the useless weasel Ds had wanted a jobs bill, he and they would have gone for that when he had the power. They didn’t. Now it’s all posturing for 2012. I still retain a lingering affection for Bill Clinton, but that’s a part of me I’ve learned not to trust….

    • I guess I just see the Big Dawg as a party loyalist to the end. Also don’t really think NAFTA or welfare reform were such bad ideas. Republicans just spiked both with poison pills. He gave us higher taxes on the rich, Stephen Breyer and Ruth Bader-Ginsburg and left us with a surplus.
      Too bad he listened to Robert Rubin and Larry Summers. I don’t know what he was thinking there. Maybe keep your enemies closer?
      But yeah, the jobs bill was lame. I do think it would have been different under Hillary. She was rehab. Obama was the enabler.

  8. My guess is this is a ridiculous ploy to get the American public to rally against their own interests.

    Basically, first propose a half-baked jobs bill with the three jobs-massacring neo-NAFTAs (which are all O really wanted in the first) thrown in as “bipartisan sweetener”).

    Second, sob and wring your hands as the Republicans predictably reject the few decent parts of the bill.

    Third, pass the “sweetener” on its own and call it a “partial victory”. Snicker as U3 goes back over 10%. Tell the public to cheer for the great victory you’ve won for the struggling masses.

    As someone on DKos said, America elected Eddie Haskell as President.

    • Well, dkos should know. It helped select him. In fact, dkos ran over people, backed up, and ran over them again if the didn’t vote for Obama. The signs were all there for the kossacks to see as early as Dec 2007. But they were as charmed as Barbara billingsley in her high heels and pearls.

  9. RD — I’m beginning to feel an urgency about the occupy movement’s viability. It has occurred in a year with opportunities to milk or attack: the super committee’s report or lack of one by Thanksgiving (6 weeks away), the campaign spring, and the fall nominations. I urge them to organize and to reach out to us seniors who worry about the loss of our benefits and have the time to join them, even though many of us wouldn’t be able to camp out in a tent. We sympathize with these young adults and anyone who has been screwed. The word that comes to mind is “solidarity.” We need to come out in millions, not tens of thousands. I have come to realize to that there will have to be vio9lence even if I would hope not. Detroit Democrat convention swirls in my mind. The people will have to threaten their representatives and the government. We should reach across the age gap and combine forces. Now, I’m a great inspirer, but don’t know
    how to accomplishment my goals politically.

    • You do remember what the end result of the Detroit conventions was, don’t you?

    • arran, be assured that there are people of all ages at Zuccotti Park. The reason why the movement seems to be guided by young people is because they are using a new kind of organizing principle that has been very popular among geeks. It’s called Open Source. It’s leaderless but that doesn’t mean it’s not effective. A lot of very interesting stuff came out of the open source movement, including Linux. If it sounds weird or unworkable, give it a chance. It’s to our benefit to be open to new ways of doing things.
      The geek aspect of it is appealing to me. These people will experiment and choose the methods that have the greatest impact. They will constantly reassess what they are doing. They will have the capacity to change with the environment. The reason they can do this is because with the internet, the nodes of an organization are never far apart, nor are the plethora of good ideas. And where one working group may not see opportunities, another one might. The effort is collaborative and not hierarchical. I worked for a couple of supervisors who worked like this and it is one of the best ways to get things done.
      If you are interested in getting involved, they would welcome your input. But you will have to adjust the way you expect these things to run. Think of it as a living organism.
      You have given me hope that there are people out there who are willing to take a chance on something new.

      • Thanks for your reply, RD. I didn’t know that they had planned a world protest on October 15th so I was greatly relieved to see that they understood the necessity of moving in a timely fashion. Thanks for the info about how the movement is organized and Open Source. Back in the olden days when I was reading feminist sources, non-hierarchical systems were considered a natural feminine way of organizing. I’m glad the geeks have discovered it.

        I have been looking for ways to participate and help, especially since these young people are protesting for us.

  10. rather “1968 Democratic National Convention, Detroit”

    • I’ve confused the 1967 Detroit riots with the 1968 Democratic National Convention riot in Chicago.

  11. Oh yeah, very good and ambitious read …

    Occupy Wall Street’s Plans For A National Convention That Could Change The Face Of America

    It’s in the works. A massive Occupy Wall Street gathering with delegates from all over the country. And if these plans are carried out, Occupy Wall Street will be a major force to be reckoned with on Election Day 2012.

    The date? July 4, 2012.

    Put aside questions of whether or not the movement will survive that long. Imagine that they do, because they have no doubt.

  12. On its face the Holt bill would appear to be “better than nothing” perhaps. I would prefer a requirement that every vote be cast on what has been called a “legal paper ballot” to begin with. In Michigan we have opti-scan machines. I don’t know who makes them. The voter makes his/her marks on the right places on a paperboard ballot and feeds it into a machine which eats it and records the marks. While all kinds of fraud can happen from steps two-to-infinity, the first step . . . the casting of the ballot . . . is analog ink on analog paper and it cannot be stealthily hacked or faked. Any effort to fake or change or lose the legal paper ballots would in theory be highly visible if veracity-verifiers where able to force a total count of all the ballots by hand and compare them with the number of people noted as having voted in each polling place.

    If I ever move to an electronic touch-screen state or region, I will stop voting altogether. I will stay registered of course, and I will show up to the polling place at each election and “see” if they have legitimate legal paper ballot machines. If they are still using some kind ostrictly digital mark making system, I will loudly condemn it for the whole room to hear and go home without voting.

    ” Digital MEANS fraudulent. The fraud goes in before the label goes on.” We should also think about mass voter dis-franchisement upstream from the ballot-casting process. Greg Palast has written articles about this as have others. Cynics quote the Emma Goldman quote: “If voting changed things they would make it illegal”. The Republicans must think voting can change things because they are working to make voting illegal for certain people. By the way, I remember reading that Steny Hoyer was and maybe still is fanatically
    pro digital voting and is especially pro-Diebold as a company. Is my memory faulty?

    About NAFTA, millions of people including me thought it was a bad idea at the time and we feel confirmed by events in thinking so. I don’t remember President Clinton genuinely wanting any labor or environmental protections or anything else. I remember him fighting/working very hard to get NAFTA passed without any of those things in it. Is this my warped Michigan view? I remember that very late in the NAFTA runup day, Mexico had a sudden peso-crash crisis which Clinton’s SecTreasury Rubin bailed it out of without any Congressional permission at all with all kinds of cash-finding and finagling at Treasury to spend billions of American dollars supporting the Mexican peso to prevent a peso crash from undermining all the Clinton Administration’s hard work selling NAFTA.

    But the other things cited remind me that I (and we all) should be fair in honoring the positive achievements of the Clinton Administration . . . the paydown of the Reagan deficit-debt, the breaking of the Republicans and especially Newt Gingrich, etc. And since I am choking down my Feast of Fairness, I will have to bite off a piece of fairness about the Obama Administration as well. The ObAd’s
    high-speed cramdown/restructuring of Chrysler and GM saved the viable parts of those companies to allow them one more last chance to live again. GM’s shareholders and bondholders lost many billions of dollars. Same for Chrysler, I believe. Many people did not get bailed out at all. If only the ObAd had taken the same approach to the Insolvent Megabanks . . . forced closure and restructure with total FDIC payoff to depositors and truth-based wipeout of shareholders and bondholders after ruthlessly marking-to-market every outstanding loan based on the price of the underlying thing loaned against . . . well I would be somewhat supportive of the Obama Administration today.
    And if the Justice Department and FBI and others had been turned loose to find every crime committed by every player in the FIRE sector fraud-machine . . . and bring them to criminal trial before the bar of justice . . . I would be more than just somewhat supportive of Obama today.

  13. Different subject . . . Lambert Strether has had a post guest-posted by Yves Smith on Naked Capitalism.

  14. We are off to get indignant here in Paree. There will be different processions convering upon city hall for a General Assembly linked with Barcelona, Brussels, NY, etc.


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