Friday, June 30, 2006

Holding The Media Accountable, Part 2 of 2 (for today)

I think we may be getting some traction. In addition to the opinion piece I wrote in today's Eureka Reporter (leave comments here), today the Eureka Times-Standard has also published my call for a community forum on media accountability (below). How about it now, readers, could you please let them know you think this is a good idea and you expect them to participate? Of course, while you're at it, you might mention that they should stop printing what they can't prove and instead join the Voter Confidence Committee in calling for a full hand count in Humboldt (new: QuickTime video of election night press conference) and join the CEPN in demanding a full hand count in San Diego.


Eureka Times-Standard editor: Charles Winkler -

Eureka Reporter Editor: Glenn Franco Simmons -

* * * (archive)

Article Launched: 06/30/2006 04:15:41 AM PDT

No more blind trust in unverifiable elections
My Word by Dave Berman

My beef with elections has never been about winners and losers. The problem I've always addressed is that "We The People" accept that a winner and loser could even be determined from election conditions that ensure the true outcome cannot be known. This is not a partisan perspective, nor even a skeptic's point of view, per se, but rather that of empirical science, which has precise parameters for determining proof. I call it a basis for confidence.

During the next federal election, as with the last, about 30 percent of votes will be cast on paperless electronic machines (DREs). This is the most obvious of all the election issues to understand -- if there is no way to recount the votes, how can we know for sure who won? For those inclined to simply “trust” the machines, realize that they are programmed in secret, by corporations who shield them from scrutiny with claims of proprietary privilege. You can choose to trust, but the conditions offer no basis for confidence, no proof by any definition, that the reported results match the will of the people.

Sometimes local Humboldt media will brush off a story if the local relevance is not immediately apparent. The whole of Congress, as well as the presidency, surely have a real impact on the lives of all in our community. The legitimacy of voting in federal elections, regardless of where the ballots are cast, has local consequences here. DREs in use elsewhere do matter in Humboldt.

Like many other states, California has banned the use of paperless voting machines. What we are left with is no better when it comes to delivering conclusive results. Our secretary of state, Bruce McPherson, has approved various optical scanners made by an array of different vendors. Humboldt uses Diebold machines.

While voters do cast a paper ballot, the counting literally occurs inside a "black box." The information from the ballots, while inside the scanner, is converted into Diebold's proprietary programming language, AccuBasic. Like the programming of the DREs, the public, the media and even elections officials are prohibited from scrutinizing the code. When the will of the people takes this secret form, how can we know the reported results are accurate? This is not something we can know, though again we might simply trust.

It is worth noting that the "interpreter code" responsible for the conversion to the secret language is not compliant with state or federal regulations. McPherson certified illegal machines for use in California. Should such lawlessness surprise a population that is no longer free from government surveillance, and which no longer enjoys a presumption of innocence? The erosion of our democracy has been enabled by a population willing to take unverified, and in many cases unverifiable, information as if it were proven fact (and that goes well beyond elections).

When McPherson approved the machines with illegal programming, he also ignored the findings and recommendations of his own technical staff. Having reviewed the equipment, the secretary's own experts confirmed the results of other security experiments demonstrating that election results could be changed quickly and without detection by someone with only brief access to just one memory card. Rather than deem them unfit, McPherson approved the machines with certain conditions, among them that the memory cards remain secure, and in the possession of not fewer than two people.

Throughout California, including here in Humboldt, voting machines were sent home with poll workers one or more days prior to the "election." The machines thus became decertified as an automatic consequence of violating the secretary's security risk mitigation conditions. But unconcerned about the legal ramifications, we still cast our ballots in the black box and blindly put our trust in the results.

No one can prove either way whether these faulty machines were tampered with, but we know it can be done and the opportunity existed. There is no onus on the citizen watchdog to prove that fraud occurred. Instead, the burden is on the Elections Department to prove, not that fraud didn't occur, but simply that the results match the will of the people.

Such proof would exist if members of the community were to hand-count the official paper ballots of record. New provisions would be required to train enough people to conduct the count in a reasonable amount of time, and sufficient space would have to be procured. These are only insurmountable obstacles if you really don't want a hand count.

Just as with the inescapable conclusion that humans are advancing global warming, the no basis for confidence position is now well established. This discussion has evolved to question how the media can report what they can't prove, and what they haven't independently verified. Election results are basically a report from a governmental body going through the media unfiltered. How is that not state-run media?

I think it would greatly benefit this community to hold a forum with a panel of local media decision-makers ready to answer questions. It would also make a lot of sense for the local media to restore credibility by calling for the hand count, and then documenting it carefully.

Dave Berman is a founding member of the Voter Confidence Committee of Humboldt County. His new book, "We Do Not Consent," can be downloaded for free at: He lives in Eureka.

The opinions expressed in My Word pieces do not necessarily reflect the editorial viewpoint of the Times-Standard.


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Holding The Media Accountable, Part 1 of 2 (for today)

My conversations with local newspaper editors have so far been fruitful. Friday's Eureka Reporter is already online with the following and I'm told today's Eureka Times-Standard will carry another new essay I wrote this week. The two pieces come from different directions and end up in the same place, calling for a community forum on media accountability.

* * *

Self-delusion and ruthless honesty

by Dave Berman, 6/29/2006

Reporter Editor Glenn Franco Simmons recently wrote a provocative editorial about the need to be honest with ourselves and to reconcile the inconsistencies between our actions and ideals. “We’re all guilty,” Simmons wrote, of this “self-delusion.”

I see this common experience as human nature. Our brains seem wired to lie to us in order to make sense of a chaotic and contradictory world. Guest columnist Larry Hourany recently cited “confirmation bias” as one way our minds tend to deceive us in order to fix new facts around the policies of our lives.

I have written about this many times, including in my book, “We Do Not Consent” (free .pdf download: Countering self-delusions requires more than just honesty. We must practice “ruthless honesty.” This means matching what we say we believe with how we act on those beliefs. Simmons used the example of environmentalists who don’t fully acknowledge their own environmental impact. When we are ruthlessly honest we walk the talk.

While ruthless honesty is a reflective, inward exercise, once understood it becomes very tempting to help others see their own self-delusions. This can be tricky because people will often become defensive if told they are believing lies, much less that they are lying to themselves. The most useful approach I have found relies upon what Donald Rumsfeld calls “known unknowns,” or things we know we don’t know.

Many things we don’t know are actually things that can’t be known — exactly how many stars there are in the sky or grains of sand on the beach. Other things can’t be known because conflicting accounts divide public opinion about what constitutes truth or reality. Merely pointing out such examples can be dicey because some people will want to cling to what they think they “know,” not allowing for the possibility that it is “unknowable.”

So at the risk of Humboldt County’s many gentle, fragile psyches, consider whether we can really be sure about what happened on Sept. 11, for example, when many inconsistencies and scientific impossibilities in the official story have raised questions that remain not only unanswered, but also unasked by media.

“We don’t do body counts,” said U.S. Gen. Tommy Franks about the death toll in Iraq. That alone is an admission that the total is not known, or at least won’t be revealed. The inability or unwillingness of media to investigate, quantify and report means that again we cannot precisely know the human cost to the war.

And the topic I write about most frequently, elections, is the most glaring of all. In the last federal election, and again in the next one, roughly 30 percent of the votes in the country will be cast on paperless electronic machines. If we can’t recount the votes, how can we be sure — and verifiably prove, over and over if necessary — that the reported results match the will of the people?

Even locally, where votes are cast on paper, they are counted by computers using secret programming code. The public, media and even elections officials are prevented from scrutinizing this programming because the machine manufacturer, Diebold, claims a “proprietary” privilege. Space prohibits me from detailing the many official reports and news stories explaining how easily manipulated these machines are. To learn more, go to and click on the Voting section.

For our purpose here, the ruthlessly honest point is that we are placing blind trust in the secret vote-counting machines, the elections department and then media that pass on the elections department’s results without verifying them or stopping to realize that they can’t be proven. Under current election conditions, there is no rational basis for confidence in the results reported. They are, by definition, unknowable.

Throughout these examples, and many others, media are the common component. Of course, it is said, “Don’t believe everything you read” (or see on TV), but what is presented to the public by media has an undeniable influence on our perception of reality. When unknowable information is presented as fact, the public buys into a dangerous fantasy and the media have betrayed our trust.

The creation of a rift in the perception of reality is, by my estimation, the single-biggest cause of what is often called the culture war, or the red state/blue state divide. I actually think of it as a cold civil war. If we want to keep it from going hot, we need to find better ways to communicate. Ruthless honesty is a good starting point, especially if taken from the point of view that not everything can be known for certain.

I am proposing something specific now so that we can take a measured step toward improving this communication. This community would benefit greatly from a forum on media accountability. There should be a panel of local media decision-makers prepared to answer questions, and be held accountable for setting new policies that prevent reporting what can’t be proven or independently verified.

Specifically regarding our elections, on the line is nothing less than the viability of our democracy and the credibility of our media. We must count our ballots by hand to verify the results otherwise determined only by Diebold’s secret counting machines. For media to be believable in reporting election results, we must have them fully supporting and documenting this verification process.

(Eureka resident Dave Berman is a founding member of the Voter Confidence Committee of Humboldt County. He writes regularly in his blog:


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Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Cornered on Credibility, Eureka Times-Standard Lashes Out Again

On Saturday, the Eureka Times-Standard ran an editorial (archive) which I commented on here because it took a shot at citizen efforts to safeguard elections. Today's Times-Standard sinks even lower. This is an excerpt from James Faulk's column, followed by an e-mail response I submitted. Please submit your own to and/or editor Charles Winkler at

Article Launched: 06/27/2006 04:30:21 AM PDT

You sit there, I'll sit ... over here
James Faulk The Times-Standard


Breaking the law?

Repeated accusations from voting system advocate Dave Berman and others claim that Humboldt County and other jurisdictions throughout the state are breaking election law by using their Diebold machines to collect votes in Humboldt County.

By Diebold they mean evil vote collecting despot with a Republican bent and corporate agenda.

Berman and his comrades provide mountains of complicated documentation and decry journalists who they say have dropped the ball by not investigating these claims.

One has to wonder why these accusers don't mount a legal complaint in the courts, or seek other legal redress, if their case is as clear cut as they claim it to be.

Surely not every member of the nation's legal system is bought and paid for by the Grand Conspiracy.
Here is my response:


In your column today you ask about the lack of lawsuits over election conditions. Please visit to learn about proceedings that are moving forward in several states. In particular, here is a link to the suit filed in CA:

While I am familiar with those pursuing this action, I am not a party to it. Part of the reason is that they have chosen to limit the scope of their suit to DREs only, excluding the optical scanners used in Humboldt. Read the case, however, and you'll see the evidence cited supports the arguments I've presented too.

I have tried for many months to find a lawyer willing to work pro bono to bring this or any of an array of other election related complaints to a Humboldt judge. That I can't afford a lawyer, and that none have volunteered, is not indicative of the merits. In fact, here is a new issue for you to ponder. Below is a link to a brief written by WA attorney Paul Lehto, who also wrote the Foreword to my book. Lehto argues that election machine vendors typically force upon counties a contractual clause asserting that the company is not responsible if their machines don't work right. Yet such an implied warranty is built into the law and cannot be waived. Not only are the machines illegal, the contracts to use them could be declared null and void. And why should we outsource and privatize elections anyway?

You are a good writer, James. But it does not shine the best light on your talents to say community members want you to be accountable to verifiable information, and then to flip it back around as if you don't legitimately have such a burden of responsibility. I also don't speak about conspiracies or talk in partisan terms. Introducing such language while attempting to undermine my efforts to get media accountability only conflates issues and further sullies the credibility you would have by doing the investigative work I've basically already done for you. That documentation is complicated does not excuse your obligation to simplify and report the facts you have verified.

In Respect and Peace,
Dave Berman

Posted by Dave Berman - 10:18 AM | Permalink
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Monday, June 26, 2006

From San Diego to Humboldt, the No Confidence Movement Expands

The response to San Diego's recent botched "election" continues to escalate. To the right is a poster for two emergency town hall meetings happening this week in LA and San Diego. BradBlog's Brad Friedman will be presiding. No Confidence supporters now include the Commonweal Institute, and The Berkeley Fellowship of Unitarian Universalists' Social Justice Committee, both of which endorsed the CEPN resolution (.pdf), FL-24 Congressional Candidate Clint Curtis, CA-49 Congressional Candidate Jeeni Criscenzo, and conservative radio host (and former San Diego Mayor) Roger Hedgecock, among others. See BradBlog for more details.

Good things happen when BradBlog picks up content from WDNC. Last Monday I posted a picture of the best election protest signs ever. The photo, which appeared in the June 9 edition of the Humboldt Advocate, was taken at the Voter Confidence Committee press conference held two hours before the close of polls during the June 6 "election" here in Humboldt County. After the picture also appeared here on BradBlog, I was contacted by documentary filmmaker Dorothy Fadiman who is nearing completion of a movie about the quest for fair elections. The photo belongs to the newspaper so naturally I could only refer her there rather than grant permission to use it in her film. However, Monday morning I'm meeting with Seeking Solutions producer Eileen McGee who shot footage of the press conference. We will be sending Dorothy a DVD and then I guess we'll wait to see if it makes it in the film. At first she said it was probably too late but after reading the prepared remarks I gave that evening, she said it was "VERY intriguing."

Also coming up this week, I have separate appointments with Charles Winkler, editor of the Eureka Times-Standard, and Glenn Franco Simmons, Winkler's counterpart at Eureka's other daily paper, The Reporter. I am wondering if perhaps one of the more sympathetic radio program directors in town might like to move this discussion into a broader public forum for debate? The community needs to know how its local media justifies publishing what it can't prove or independently verify.

Finally, I crossed paths with Larry Glass on Friday night. I've mentioned Glass only tangentially in the past as he is the spokesperson for CREG, Citizens For Real Economic Growth, the community group coalescing resistance to the big box development on the balloon track, the last unused parcel of Eureka waterfront. My passing references to Glass have been in the context of remarks made by Eureka City Councilmember Jeff Leonard who has challenged the legitimacy of opinion polling commissioned by Glass. Leonard has insisted the community has the right to verify how the polling was done, and so I have asked Leonard to be consistent and also call for verification of election results via hand counting ballots. When I saw Glass on the street I instinctively darted over to introduce myself, explaining the common cause we share. Glass demonstrated some familiarity with the Diebold issues we face and said he could talk to his long time acquaintance, County Elections Manager Lindsey McWilliams. I'm not so sure what that can do but I'm all for Lindsey hearing about it from all quarters. My point to Glass was more that he could borrow my angle as another way to fend off Leonard. Aside from the wonderful a-ha moment this produced, I also learned that Glass is going to run for City Council in November against incumbent Mary Beth Wolford. So far I can only see how that is a very good thing.

Posted by Dave Berman - 2:25 AM | Permalink
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Saturday, June 24, 2006

Eureka Times-Standard to VCC: Put Up Or Shut Up

The ridiculous editorial below was published in Saturday's Eureka Times-Standard. The Voter Confidence Committee is not mentioned by name but is there really any doubt we have inspired this? In addition to our long standing position stating there is no basis for confidence in reported election results, and our recent challenge to the media not to report what can't be proven or hasn't been independently verified, I have scheduled a meeting for Tuesday with T-S editor Charles Winkler. Glenn Franco Simmons, the editor of the Eureka Reporter has agreed to meet me on Wednesday. These are important opportunities to address media accountability.

Meanwhile, you can do a little of this yourself. Please consider writing a polite and respectful letter to the editor in response to this editorial. At the bottom I have included a few points you may consider making. Letters should be 250 words or less and must include real name, address and phone. Send them to Letter writers need not be local.

* * *

Article Launched: 06/24/2006 04:30:16 AM PDT

Having confidence in our voting system
The Times-Standard

Questions have been raised about the reliability of our elections going back to 2000 nationally and more recently locally. This is not new. We only need to look back at the Nixon-Kennedy election. Our history is rich with stories of ballot stuffing, poll intimidation, dead people voting. As long as there are elections, there will be questions.

Currently, the doubts involve how we vote and the supposed ease at which electronic voting can be hacked or otherwise tampered with.

We appreciate that there are those in this community and elsewhere who are acting as watchdogs, taking the time to examine and test and oversee the equipment, people and system by which we elect our officials. Such oversight is needed.

But there comes a time when talk about tampering must be replaced with evidence. If there is specific evidence of a local problem, let's hear it.

If not, let's certainly continue to monitor, but with due credit to our local elections officials.

# # #
For letter writers, here are potential points to make in response:

1. Proving an election was fair and accurate is a burden held by the elections department, not the citizen watchdogs.

2. If election oversight is "needed," as this editorial states, why doesn't the newspaper perform any? Short of a hand count of all ballots, neither the elections department nor the media can prove the results are correct.

3. Through VCC press announcements, and quotes attributed to us in news articles, the newspaper has told the community our election equipment does not comply with the law. Yet the newspaper itself never reports this as the conclusion of its own investigation and displays no concern that the illegal conditions make it impossible to know the true election outcome. Illegal conditions include machines going home with poll workers, and "interpreter code" in the scanners (vote counting machines).

4. When Humboldt voters' ballots are put into the Diebold optical scanners, the vote choices are "interpreted" into Diebold's proprietary and secret programming language called AccuBasic. To believe the reported results are accurate is to demonstrate blind trust in Diebold, a corporation facing more than a half dozen class action fraud lawsuits filed by its own shareholders (among many other troubling findings by computer security experts). Blind trust is the opposite of having a basis for confidence and should never be required in a democracy.

5. Results reported by secret vote counting machines have not been verified, by the public or the media. The media should not report what it cannot independently verify or prove. When media unquestioningly report information provided by government, this is called state run media.

6. "If there is specific evidence"...of a fair election, let us count it. If not, let's certainly BEGIN to monitor so the credibility of media and elections can both be warranted. By the way, what more can you tell us about the failed memory cards from Eureka and Arcata precincts earlier this month, or the Rio Dell scanners that could not report their results to the central headquarters? The circumstances of these problems don't have to be "suspicious" to eliminate a basis for confidence in the reported results.

Posted by Dave Berman - 11:37 PM | Permalink
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Wednesday, June 21, 2006

No Confidence Coast-To-Coast, BBV Hand Count Registry, Dobbs and More continues to lead the charge for the hand count in San Diego. Brad now reports that the list of people declaring No Confidence includes Kevin Zeese, candidate for U.S. Senate from Maryland; John Bonifaz, candidate for Massachusetts Secretary of State; and congressional candidate Jeeni Criscenzo (CA-49). The Election Defense Alliance is now on board, along with the California Election Protection Network. And Velvet Revolution, whose petition is here, also put out a press release through U.S. Newswire. This is just a partial list. It looks like we'll get a handle on just how big this response is within the next week when Brad and others convene "emergency town hall meetings" in Los Angeles and San Diego.

Meanwhile, has set up a national hand count registry. If you are willing to hand count ballots in order to verify election results, click here to sign up.

Amazingly, CNN's Lou Dobbs continues to hammer the topic of election integrity. A transcript of Tuesday night's broadcast is here. He is having stellar guests from among the best activists and organizers, they are getting their say (and stating things damn well), and he is strongly reinforcing their (our) message.

And finally for tonight, the Arizona House and Senate have overwhelmingly passed SB1557 which now is likely to be signed by Governor Janet Napolitano. The bill deals with paper trails, mandatory manual audits and inspection of source code. I think it is hard to really get excited about something like this because of its potential to create a false sense of security. Still, election integrity advocates on the ground in AZ are getting things done and contributing to this overall momentum.

Posted by Dave Berman - 2:10 AM | Permalink
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Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Eureka T-S Balances Facts With Official Blather

This "he-said, she said" reporting is so old (see below). I want a sit-down with Times-Standard editor Charles Winkler, and others around here. They can't keep offsetting the position of the election integrity community with moving lips from the elections department and expect this to wash. Sending machines home is a violation of chain of custody provisions because the memory cards are not secure and the equipment can be in the possession of fewer than two people. The tamper seals are effectively useless. Cards can be tampered with even when sealed in the machines, and the machines have other means of access besides the card ports. These are verifiable facts (.pdf). The media seem as disinterested in doing the verifying here as they do when it comes to determining the accuracy of the vote count. And have we had enough of the excuses from the elections department saying there is not enough people or space to do the hand counting? If they thought it was important enough they would make it work. Clearly this is not their aim. If the elections department is not going to prioritize a transparent, secure and verifiably accurate count, what exactly do we have them for? If newspapers are going to print that procedures are legal, because the state says so, without regard for the information showing the state is behaving lawlessly, then what do we have either the state or the media for? They are acting as one. (archive)

Article Launched: 06/20/2006 04:15:18 AM PDT

Election critic challenges county
James Faulk The Times-Standard

But election official cites safeguards, established procedures

EUREKA -- Citing the fact that Humboldt County's voting machines were sent home with election officials before the vote, a local election advocate claims the results cannot be trusted.

Dave Berman of the Voter Confidence Committee has long maintained that the voting machines used by the county are illegal, and that they were improperly certified by the secretary of state.

He's now added a new twist to the reasons he offers for doubting local election results -- election officials store the machines at home just before election day.

"We have documentation from security experts who have shown how to alter results of elections within a minute or two, if they have access to the memory cards,"” he said.

Humboldt County Elections Officer Lindsey McWilliams said the county has two choices -- either let the voting machines sit unsupervised in the polling places for days, or let elections officials take them home before dispersing them to the various precincts prior to the vote.

"We find it to be more secure and trustworthy to give them to an election official who is responsible for its safety and security and who also charges the battery before taking it to the polls,"” said McWilliams.

The county has been doing this since 1995, McWilliams said.

He said the county keeps a chain of custody log and that there are security seals on the machines to prevent tampering. They all came back in good shape, he said.

The machines, on the day of the election, also print out a long receipt that indicates whether the machines have any votes in their memory bank.

Berman said the county isn't following the chain of custody rules, and that those provisions "cannot really be boiled down to putting a tamper seal over the memory card."

McWilliams said the county is following the rules.

"The handling procedures require that the devices have security seals attached and that's what we've done,"” he said. "We've got logs of it."”

Berman has long maintained that the only way to verify the county's election results would be a hand counting of the ballots. It took the county three days -- with two groups working -- to count only 2,000 ballots. McWilliams said it would take weeks to county every vote by hand.

The issues Berman raises are not peculiar to Humboldt County. The California Election Protection Network recently issued a press release also declaring a lack of confidence in the San Diego primary election and others.

Berman is a member of that group, and wrote the press release.

"”There is no proof of this election's legitimacy,"” said network member Jim Soper in the release.

The county's Diebold machines have been certified by the California secretary of state.

Posted by Dave Berman - 8:20 AM | Permalink
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Monday, June 19, 2006

Best Election Protest Signs Ever

Humboldt Advocate issue on the street 6/9 - 6/22 (look for weird every other week publishing for a while). Fantastic picture from the election day press conference below featuring Kathryn Hedges from the Voter Confidence Committee and Nathan Smith from the NAACP holding the best election protest signs I've seen. Totally to the heart of the message. Bravo, you guys. This picture should travel around the world so Europeans and Aussies and everyone else can see that WE DO NOT CONSENT. It is not hard to imagine people around the world wondering what the hell is wrong with Americans, how can we have let this happen to ourselves and can't we do anything about it. It's on. Peaceful revolution is necessary, NOW!

Posted by Dave Berman - 8:30 PM | Permalink
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Humboldt Transparency Project Hits Legal Snag

I spoke to Humboldt County Clerk-Recorder/Registrar of Voters Carolyn Crnich this morning, inquiring when she would appear before the Board of Supervisors to request funding for the Humboldt Transparency Project (HTP). I had previously been told this would occur either last Tuesday or tomorrow but the published Supes' agendas said otherwise. The program has hit a snag, Crnich told me, and would have to be shelved, at least for now. She described herself as "heartbroken" and said she is "not going to give up." It seems the problem is section 17306D of the California election code:

Sealed ballot containers may be opened if the elections official determines it is necessary in a shredding or recycling process. Nothing in this section shall be construed to allow packages or containers to be opened except for purposes specified herein. The packages or containers shall otherwise remain unopened until the ballots are destroyed or recycled.
This would seem to undercut the very premise of the HTP, which was to be a groundbreaking experiment in verifying election results. Images of ballots would be put on CDs in .tif form and made available for any individual or community group wishing to verify the results. I previously mentioned HTP in my election day press conference remarks. It was also described in this VoteTrustUSA article by Warren Stewart. This is a popular idea with promise and I'm sure Crnich isn't the only one who won't want to let it go.

It seems to me that Eureka City Councilmember Jeff Leonard should get involved here. True, the Council has no bearing on implementation of elections, but to get re-elected this November, Leonard needs to rely upon a fair vote. He has now twice spoken out for the need to verify...opinion poll methodology. Way to demonstrate leadership, Leonard. You sure have a way of helping the community see what is important.

We have entered an era where the plausibility of any potential leader may be judged solely by their willingness to work for fair elections. Incumbents who may be good, decent people with progressive track records are going to now sink or swim by their commitment to verifiable democracy. It is the election integrity movement and the blogosphere at large that will see to this or it is not likely to happen.

In San Diego there is a new Congressman who was sworn into office even before all the votes were "counted." I've written hundreds of times that current election conditions ensure inconclusive outcomes, and as a result, the Consent of the Governed is assumed, not sought. Could this ever be more clear than in San Diego? We The People did not Consent to Bilbray assuming the powers of office. Bilbray has nakedly grabbed this power. This is only another, more brazen form of what has been going on since at least 2000. It will not stop unless We stop it. Peaceful revolution is necessary, NOW!

See the CEPN press release posted this morning, including the new Voters' Resolution of No Confidence (.pdf) that I wrote and the Velvet Revolution No Confidence petition.

Posted by Dave Berman - 7:26 PM | Permalink
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Sunday, June 18, 2006

CEPN Calls No Confidence in San Diego, Demands Hand Count


For Release Monday, June 19, 2006

Contact: Dan Ashby 510-233-2144

Contact: Jim Soper 510 258-4857
technical specialist


The California Election Protection Network (CEPN), a nonpartisan coalition of more than 25 election integrity organizations throughout California, is calling for a full hand count of all ballots and paper audit trails from San Diego County's June 6 primary election. CEPN has posted a Voters' Resolution of No Confidence on its website citing violations of California and federal election regulations, and describing the vote counting process as "secret," without means for verification by voters, elections officials, or the newsmedia.

"There is no proof of this election's legitimacy," said CEPN member Jim Soper. "Despite a mountain of proof that these machines are easily hackable, Secretary of State McPherson certified the system claiming a set of handling procedures would keep the machines safe. Now we learn that machines were unsecured in pollworkers' homes before the election, rendering those procedures useless."

In February, Secretary of State Bruce McPherson released a security report he had commissioned of Diebold touch screen (DRE) and optical scan voting machines. The report authored by University of California computer scientists concluded that the machines should never be left in the presence of fewer than two people, because one person alone could implant malicious code that could alter vote-counting functions without leaving any detectable evidence.

In San Diego County--as well as other California counties using Diebold machines--poll workers were allowed to take the machines for "sleepover" storage in their homes for days prior to the election.

The state report, "Security Analysis of the Diebold AccuBasic Interpreter," also said the machines could not be used unless the secret "interpreter code" was removed or the law changed to allow it. Neither was done. This same report confirmed several previously reported vulnerabilities in the Diebold systems, and announced the finding of 16 additional previously undisclosed security risks. Despite these clear threats to election security, McPherson certified the machines for use in California elections.

"These elections were conducted under illegal conditions. The results could very well have been compromised, and we have no basis for confidence in the reported results," said CEPN member, Dan Ashby.

Soper, a software engineer, added, "The public needs to understand that no amount of testing will ever detect hidden computer code that can be secretly activated on election day. Nobody, and no machine, should be counting our votes in secret."

"Not only that, but the voters' ballots are being treated as a side-issue," said Ashby. "Even before all the votes were counted, Secretary McPherson declared Brian Bilbray the winner of the 50th District Congressional run-off election. On that basis--not the actual vote count--Republican members of Congress staged a swearing-in ceremony in the Capitol. They did this while tens of thousands of absentee and provisional ballots remained uncounted."

CEPN is calling upon San Diego County Registrar Mikel Haas and Secretary McPherson to invalidate all reported results until the outcome of each race can be verified through a hand count of all legally cast votes. Calling it a "Free-Count" rather than a recount, the CEPN citizen watchdogs insist that this manual counting of the ballots be conducted without charge to the voting public.

"The San Diego election department's violation of legal election procedure invalidated the original machine count," said Ashby. "It is the San Diego registrar's obligation to conduct a proper election, not bill the people to pay for his blunder."

With historical undertones, the CEPN Voters' Resolution of No Confidence draws from the U.S. Declaration of Independence, which says the "just Power" of the government comes from the "Consent of the Governed."

"Under these illegal election conditions, the Consent of the Governed is being assumed, not sought," said Resolution author Dave Berman, a CEPN member from Humboldt County's Voter Confidence Committee. Quoting from the Resolution, Berman continued, "We, The People, DO NOT CONSENT to transferring power and authority to candidates claiming victory in this illegitimate election. We will do everything within our Constitutional and Human Rights to protect and preserve possession of this power that is inalienably Ours to be given but never taken away."

The CEPN notes that its position is in solidarity with the No Confidence stance taken by the Progressive Democrats of America, Tribune Media Services columnist Bob Koehler, and the election integrity organization, which is circulating an online petition calling for a hand count of the San Diego ballots.

The CEPN Voters' Resolution of No Confidence can be read at:

The Security Analysis of the Diebold AccuBasic Interpreter can be read at:

The Velvet Revolution online petition can be read and signed at:


The Voters' Resolution of No Confidence

The California Election Protection Network hereby declares:

Whereas an election is the legal process by which We The People transfer power to our governmental representatives; and

Whereas the legitimacy of this power, according to the Declaration of Independence, derives entirely from the Consent of the Governed; and

Whereas the legality and legitimacy of any election is determined first by the conditions under which it is conducted, which must, at a minimum:

a) comply with applicable laws;

b) offer We The People sufficient transparency to judge the election's validity and whether to Consent to the power transfer inherent in such an event;

c) produce, preserve and accurately count a paper ballot for every vote cast;

d) provide a means by which voters can openly and easily verify (repeatedly if necessary) the method of counting the votes and the actual results of said count;

e) determine a conclusive outcome resulting from the counting of all legally cast ballots; and
Whereas the June 6, 2006 election in San Diego County, California, was conducted under conditions which:
1) failed to comply with California and federal regulations through the use of interpreted code, and through the security breach of poll workers keeping voting machines at their homes prior to election day;

2) violated chain of custody provisions and mitigation requirements mandated by Secretary of State Bruce McPherson as a condition of Diebold's certification, thus removing even the pretense of the machines' reliability and accuracy;

3) amounted to secret vote counting through the use of Diebold's proprietary programming;

4) lacked sufficient transparency for voters to verify the election's validity, based on the above;
Therefore, be it resolved that the June 6, 2006 election in San Diego County, California, does not meet the standard for a legal election and provides NO BASIS for confidence in the results reported; and

Therefore, be it resolved that the absence of proof of legitimacy is deemed to be proof of the election's illegitimacy; and

Therefore, be it resolved that to warrant the Consent of the Governed, and the authorization of the transfer of power to winning candidates, a full hand count of all legally cast ballots shall first be conducted. This hand count shall reflect the only official result and not be regarded as a recount in any way, including relieving voters of the obligation to pay for said count; and

Therefore, be it resolved that until such a hand count has been verifiably conducted and a conclusive outcome determined, We, The People, DO NOT CONSENT to transferring power and authority to candidates claiming victory in this illegitimate election. We will do everything within our Constitutional and Human Rights to protect and preserve possession of this power that is inalienably Ours to be given but never taken away.

The California Election Protection Network, June 15, 2006

Resolution author: Dave Berman,
of CEPN affiliate Voter Confidence Committee, Humboldt County

For more about Berman's actions, see:

Posted by Dave Berman - 10:17 PM | Permalink
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Thursday, June 15, 2006

What Does Withdrawing Consent Look Like?

"Governments are instituted among Men,
deriving their just Powers from the Consent of the Governed"
--U.S. Declaration of Independence

I first started writing about the Consent of the Governed more than two years ago, when I launched the GuvWurld Blog. Read through the hundreds of essays I posted there and you'll see a theme exploring our Consent, which is being taken for granted. I wrote the Voter Confidence Resolution, which has been adopted in Arcata, CA, in order to provide a tangible way for People and Communities to indicate their Consent is not granted, and should not be assumed. All the while, I've been suggesting that the stronger our resistance grows, the more we must collectively raise the question: Has the Consent of the Governed been withdrawn, YET?

If we emphasize this question it will be framed as a matter of when, not if the Consent is withdrawn. So what does withdrawing Consent look like?

An increasingly popular way of withdrawing Consent is declaring no basis for confidence, as the Voter Confidence Resolution does regarding election results. has recently embraced this line in condemning the conditions used in last week's election in San Diego. Both Bob Koehler, a syndicated columnist with the Tribune Media Services, and Warren Stewart, Director of Legislative Issues and Policy for VoteTrustUSA, make no confidence statements regarding San Diego in their latest columns. White County (AR) Election Commissioner John Nunnally has no confidence according to this June 5 article in the Daily Citizen. And (VR) now has a form letter page that transmits a statement of no confidence to the San Diego Registrar and Democratic Congressional Candidate Francine Busby.

I've been working with the California Election Protection Network (CEPN) on a related response likely to be released on Thursday. It looks like pressure will soon begin to really mount for a hand count of all ballots in San Diego. See BradBlog for the most complete details and chronology.

There is more to withdrawing the Consent of the Governed. In the Progressive media talking points memo I posted on Sunday, I listed a mere 10 injustices to which we must say WE DO NOT CONSENT. Right now the focus has turned to preventing power and authority from being conferred upon candidates claiming victory in illegitimate elections. It is clear to me that We The People must do everything within our Constitutional and Human Rights to protect and preserve possession of this power that is inalienably Ours to be given but never taken away.

This space will continue to monitor the many ways in which the Consent of the Governed is being withdrawn. For suggested background reading see the essential essays from the GuvWurld Blog compiled into a book called We Do Not Consent. Download a free .pdf copy here or purchase a hardcopy for $10 on the top right of the page at We Do Not Consent, the new blog spawned by the book.

Posted by Dave Berman - 3:10 PM | Permalink
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Sunday, June 11, 2006

Talking Points Memo On Elections (for Progressive media)

Since the start of this month there has been more high profile, corporate media coverage of our "election" charades than perhaps any other period during the Bush regime. Could this be a sign we are approaching a bona fide tipping point, after which things will be totally different? Well, I want to believe it, but I think we first need the progressive media to get on the same page about some talking points.

1. Secret vote counting guarantees inconclusive outcomes. Whether it is paperless DREs or optical scanners with interpreted or proprietary code, votes are being "counted" in secret, without even a chance for voters, elections officials or the media to examine the process or verify the results.

2. Unverified voting means there is NO BASIS for confidence in the results reported. Blind trust is required to accept current election results.

3. The media should not report what it cannot prove or independently verify. We now have faith-based reporting about faith-based elections.

4. The Consent of the Governed is being assumed, not sought, under current election conditions. According to the Declaration of Independence, the "just Power" of government derives from the Consent of the Governed.

5. Here is a partial list (in no particular order) of additional items to which we must say: We Do Not Consent.
a) The lost presumption of innocence;
b) Spying on Americans and an overall loss of privacy;
c) Government lawlessness;
d) Destruction of our environment;
e) The promise of endless war;
f) Free speech zones;
g) Depleted Uranium (Mr. Bush's slow-motion holocaust);
h) Government run media;
i) Secret prisons, torture and war crimes;
j) and We Do Not Consent to secret vote counting machines.
The larger question that should emerge from these talking points is: Has the Consent of the Governed been withdrawn, YET? Presented this way the question takes a tone of inevitability - not if, but when! This is how we pave a path to a tipping point.

This set of points varies in at least one very dramatic way from the high profile corporate coverage recently given to election integrity. For examples, start with Rolling Stone publishing Robert F. Kennedy Jr.'s hefty recitation of the of the travesty of the 2004 "election" in Ohio, plus the ensuing TV appearances (CNN, Fox, MSNBC - all .wmv videos), and the online rebuttals and rejoinders (Farhad Manjoo at, Paul Lehto, Bob Fitrakis, and even Bobby Kennedy himself). In all cases, progressive people are arguing over past events that can't be changed with people who are not even open to having their minds changed.

What would be better is educating progressive media about these powerful forward-looking arguments. Icons such as Thom Hartmann, Peter B. Collins (.mp3 of my interview last week), and Randi Rhodes can help us teach the public at large in a way that enables understanding of our current condition while fostering an appropriately strong and unified response. The talking points above allow us to discuss that which can be agreed upon, namely, what are the conditions for the elections we're about to have. The lesson, however, is that such conditions ensure inconclusive outcomes which should never be expected to produce unanimous acceptance. By narrowly defining a common view of the problem we become poised to take united action.

The Voter Confidence Resolution (VCR) is a document reflecting all the talking points above. The City Council of Arcata, CA was the first to adopt the VCR, and Palo Alto, CA will soon be considering its own version. Each community is encouraged to use Arcata's language as a template, keeping the main talking points and customizing other areas, including an election reform platform. This inspires local debate about sensible standards that should aim at delivering conclusive election outcomes and creating a basis for confidence in the results reported.

In Hartmann's recent AlterNet article about the RFK piece, he very bluntly says: "George W. Bush is not the legitimate president of the United States." But Hartmann doesn't go much beyond encouraging us to "speak out" in response. There is no doubt that Hartmann personally knows many people who have already been among the most outspoken. Our efforts have not been in vain, but they could be more successful with a common message and call to action. And it was with this in mind that I saw the need for this talking points memo. It is worth noting that when I recently discussed these same ideas with Brother Thom on his radio show, this is what he said:
"Its a great start getting out there and saying, 'Nope, sorry, we're not going to play this game.' I think we need to do more of that.
* * *
Additional recent major media election integrity coverage has included Jack Cafferty and Lou Dobbs (.wmv) on CNN. Big thanks to VoteTrustUSA and BradBlog for instigating and covering the coverage. Also see Why Old Election Numbers No Longer Matter, originally published 8/17/05 in the GuvWurld Blog, also appearing on page 9 of my new book We Do Not Consent (free .pdf download). Finally, Mark E. Smith offers a perspective worth considering in Global Warming vs. Election Integrity.

Posted by Dave Berman - 12:44 AM | Permalink
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Friday, June 09, 2006

BradBlog Bangs No Confidence Drum

With language familiar to readers of We Do Not Consent and its antecedent, GuvWurld Blog, ace investigative journalist Brad Friedman has gotten a serious lather on about the circumstances of Tuesday's election in San Diego. In particular, Friedman outlines the conditions of the equipment used to cast and "count" votes, and details the predictable litany of irregularities in the Busby/Bilbray race to fill the 50th District Congressional seat vacated by the recently convicted Randy "Duke" Cunningham.

Friedman states, "There is NO BASIS for Confidence in the Reported Election Results. Period." He then quotes a seemingly ordinary AP article that presents Bilbray as the conclusive winner, commenting, "Okay, AP. Prove it. I dare you. You can't."

No basis for confidence has been the position I've taken for more than two years now, most notably with the Voter Confidence Resolution adopted by Arcata, CA. There is also a strong connection with the media challenge I laid down at Tuesday's VCC press conference. Friedman creates yet another parallel by referring to the scientific certainty of his argument ("airtight"), a tremendous accolade offered by attorney Paul Lehto in the testimonials of my book We Do Not Consent.

What distinguishes this particular contest is Busby's premature concession. A significant letter writing campaign has begun to encourage Busby to fight for an investigation and complete hand count. Of course, I've also been calling for a hand count here in Humboldt too. Friday's Eureka Reporter describes some of our own election night mishaps, including failed memory cards and precincts unable to submit their optical scan data to the central tabulator. Friedman heavily emphasizes the security risks of San Diego having sent voting machines home with poll workers. Humboldt has the same can of worms though it is thus far unopened. So much for "it can't happen here."

Finally, since the VCC post-election day demonstration didn't really come off beyond about 10 of us questioning elections manager Lindsey McWilliams, I will end on this high note of media coverage. We have had some surprisingly receptive responses to Tuesday's press conference. Tom Sebourn at KGOE ran a two minute election special devoted entirely to our message (.mp3). Wednesday's Eureka Reporter had a decent article that saw some good play at Democratic Underground and which was just added at BuzzFlash. I'm also pretty pleased with how my first appearance on the Peter B. Collins show sounded. I should be able to get the excerpt in the GuvWurld News Archive pretty soon but for now you can download this .mp3 and forward in to exactly 2:23:00 to catch the start of the six minute chat.

Plus Mike Dronkers at KHUM just floored me on Wednesday. I mentioned previously that Dronkers seemed to have an epiphany during our election night interview when I suggested the media shouldn't broadcast or publish what it can't prove. He rebroadcast that clip the following day and then aired my call live when I dialed in to say thanks. Hopefully I'll have that audio soon too. More importantly, I think we have seen significant encouragement to continue pressing this button. I need to find time to seek out private sit downs with local newspaper editors. Coincidentally, I understand the Times-Standard editor, Charles Winkler, will begin holding coffee klatches, starting June 15 at 8am at Sacred Grounds in Arcata.

Posted by Dave Berman - 1:22 AM | Permalink
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Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Election Day Highlights

My polling place was moved to the Eureka Muni, which is a decent place to vote because it is big enough to combine four precincts and have lots of machines in a wide open room. Outside, the Humboldt Voters' Association was conducting an educational demonstration vote using instant runoff voting. When I arrived, Dave Ogden, with a snicker of glee, told me about Diebold optical scanners failing in Fields Landing. I asked many people throughout the day and never got any more details.

At 5:15 Tuesday afternoon I made my first appearance on the Peter B. Collins radio show. He was a bit surprised that I was taking exception to the Diebold optical scanners. I offered my understanding of the interpreter code and how it converts ballot information into Diebold's trade secret language. As I recall, he didn't really pick up much on the media challenge I've been discussing recently and which I emphasized in this prepared statement I made a little later in the afternoon at the Voter Confidence Committee press conference outside of Eureka City Hall.

I don't have the audio from Peter's show, but like last week's appearance on Thom Hartmann's show, I will post it in the GuvWurld News Archive when/if I get it, and then link to it here at WDNC. Meanwhile, Eileen McGee and Mark Dubrow both captured video of the VCC press conference (no commercial TV cameras were present). Eileen has been assembling a lot of other footage of our election protection efforts for a future episode of Seeking Solutions, her locally produced TV show on the Humboldt County progressive community.

After our press conference about 20 of us went upstairs to address the Eureka City Council during the public comment portion of their regularly scheduled meeting. It was probably unfortunate that both Mayor Peter La Vallee and Councilmember Chris Kerrigan were not present. Still, I was able to ask the Council, as prominent individual community members (since as a group they cannot act on requests made during public comment), to join us in calling for responsible media treatment of the unverified results, and to help us convince the Elections Department and County Supervisors to hand count the ballots for verification. I also got to use Councilmember Jeff Leonard's "verify" remarks in a personal appeal to him. About six or seven others from our group also addressed the Council, including Nathan Smith from the NAACP, Carol Brannan from Communities For Peace and Laura Simpson from Veterans For Peace.

After having our say at the Council we regrouped outside and decided we didn't have enough people to hold an impactful demonstration as we had hoped. The Eureka Times-Standard and Eureka Reporter had both covered our press conference (article) so we ruled out marching to either of their buildings. Instead we headed to the Lost Coast Brewery where we anticipated encountering more media due to the announced campaign parties of both District Attorney Paul Gallegos (declared re-elected with 52.8%) and Measure T (declared adopted with 54.6%).

The Brewery was packed and the atmosphere was festive, somewhat like a grown-up frat party (complete with a random bucket falling from the second floor balcony to the ground right beside our table). Among the many people we got to chat with were Charles Douglas from the Humboldt Sentinel, Rob Ammerman from KHSU's Thursday Night Talk, and James Faulk from the Eureka Times-Standard. Perhaps the highlight was Jay (last name?) from Arcata, a guy I originally met when he randomly stood and spoke in support of the Voter Confidence Resolution at the Arcata City Council when it was adopted last summer. Jay came over to me with a huge smile and said he voted for me as a write-in candidate for Registrar of Voters. ("If nominated I will not run, if elected I will not serve.") Incumbent Carolyn Crnich ran for re-election unopposed.

Aside from the Fields Landing mystery, there was also trouble reported last night in Scotia, where they were unable to transmit their precinct data to the GEMS tabulator in Eureka. At about 11pm I spoke to Lindsey McWilliams, County Elections Manager. He said Scotia installed a digital phone line without consulting the elections department. As a result, according to McWilliams, the machines (not just the memory cards) were being transported to Rio Dell and then Fortuna to use an analog phone line (why two stops?). About the transport, Larry Trask, then the on-air person at KHUM radio, told me (off the air) that his person on site at the elections department saw uniforms delivering something in what looked like a pizza driver's delivery bag. Trask was not sure whether these were the full optical scan machines or just the memory cards.

I knew to call Trask and ask about the transmission problem because another KHUM DJ, Mike Dronkers, mentioned it to me earlier at the Brewery. Dronkers interviewed me around 8pm and seemed to have an epiphany on the air when I suggested the media should not report what they can't prove (unverified election results). When Dronkers told me about the transmission problem he approached me and said "Dude, you're going to love this." He said he was unclear about some details, but that one or more other places may have had transmission problems. I asked McWilliams if transmission problems originated in any other precincts but before he could answer he abruptly said one of his "rovers" was calling him and he had to go. I cannot yet confirm, but Trask's contact seeing that delivery at the elections department, and McWilliams routing Scotia's machines to Fortuna seems to suggest more than one location with a problem.

Parts of this report were written before my eyes failed for the evening on Tuesday. I'm completing this just prior to the 10am start time of the Voter Confidence Committee demonstration at the Elections Department in Eureka, 3033 H St. at Harris. I hope to have updates on some of these loose threads by tonight.

Posted by Dave Berman - 9:52 AM | Permalink
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Prepared Remarks, VCC Press Conference 6/6/06

Thank you all for being here. My name is Dave Berman and I work with the election watchdog group the Voter Confidence Committee. We are here tonight first of all to announce that we do not and will not accept the unverified results reported by secret vote counting machines. Humboldt County uses Diebold optical scanners to count our ballots. For those who may not know how this works, let me briefly explain.

Humboldt voters mark a paper ballot, which could and should be counted by hand. Instead, the ballot is fed into the optical scanner. The ballot does not simply come out the other end to reveal the results. While inside the scanner, computer programming interprets the information from the ballots and converts it into AccuBasic. This is Diebold’s proprietary programming language. Neither the public, nor the media, nor even our elections officials are allowed to examine the “interpreter code” or AccuBasic language, which Diebold claims as a trade secret.

So think about it now. All the info from all the ballots is in a form that can only be read by Diebold. This is the same Diebold facing more than a half dozen class action suits from shareholders alleging fraud. The same Diebold whose flawed machines have been documented in reports from the Government Accountability Office and even our own CA Secretary of State. The same Diebold exposed by security experts who performed “test hacks” to demonstrate the ability to change election results without a trace. The same Diebold whose PR flunkie addressed such problems by saying, "It's only a vulnerability to those who would commit a felony." The VCC agrees that tampering with an election is a felony, and the equipment that would allow it should never be used.

The VCC would like to recognize recent efforts by the Humboldt County Elections Department. Clearly they have acknowledged and affirmed the seriousness of our concerns for transparent, secure and verifiably accurate elections. We support the project that will emerge in the next few weeks to make ballot images available on CD for any citizen or community group wishing to perform their own verification of election results.

However, unfortunately, the test launch of this unprecedented transparency project will not include all ballots or serve as a complete check of the accuracy of today’s Primary. As such, we are left to decide whether we can accept as legitimate, results that are delivered entirely by the secret Diebold counting machines. Voters may have had a chance to verify their ballot before it was scanned, but the results have not been verified by voters or the media. The solution to this dilemma has two parts.

First, the VCC asks that media not report what it cannot prove. The media should not publish or broadcast as fact what it cannot independently verify. These should be basic tenets of anyone’s journalistic integrity.

Second, to determine conclusive results to the election, the VCC asks that the media join us in prevailing upon the Elections Department and County Supervisors to allow for a full hand count to be conducted by Humboldt citizens.

The VCC will hold a demonstration tomorrow morning at 10am at the Elections Department at H and Harris Streets in Eureka. Our actions are not based on the results but because of the conditions of this election. Thank you

Posted by Dave Berman - 1:38 AM | Permalink
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Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Media Advisory: Humboldt Press Conference Challenging Election Results

June 5, 2006

MEDIA ADVISORY: Press conference

FROM: Voter Confidence Committee

CONTACT: Dave Berman, 707-845-3749, or


The Voter Confidence Committee, which has been calling for verifiable election results and objecting to the use of Diebold optical-scanning machines because they are illegal and unreliable, will hold a press conference on the steps of Eureka City Hall at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, June 6, to announce it will not accept as valid results from the Primary Election in Humboldt County.

Dave Berman, founder of the Committee, whose new book, We Do Not Consent (.pdf), grew out of his group's two-year campaign to ensure verifiable elections, will preside at the press conference and later address the Eureka City Council about the election conditions.

Berman also will announce that the Committee and supporters are planning to march from the City Hall to the county courthouse to protest the use of the secret vote counting machines, which deliver unverifiable results that could be manipulated or contain gross tabulation errors, though the voters would never know.

In addition, Berman will describe plans for further protests on Wednesday, June 7, to demand counting of the ballots by hand to verify the machine totals.

YOUR COVERAGE IS INVITED. Opportunities for interviews with Berman and Committee supporters also will be available after the march at the courthouse.


--Diebold optical scanners use secret, proprietary programming codes. Unless we hand count the ballots to verify the reported results, we all are accepting the outcome with blind faith that the machine-counted results are true and accurate.

--Diebold optical scanning machines (a) do not meet state and federal security standards and (b) are the subject of lawsuits filed on behalf of voters across the nation. The Diebold corporation itself is facing more than a half dozen class action suits filed by shareholders.

--Memory cards can be manipulated in a variety of ways (as happened in a Leon County, FL, "hacking" incident), both when the cards are separate from the machines and when they are "sealed" in to the machines. A stunning cross-country "train wreck" of state Primary Elections has shown hundreds of machines failing to power up or work continuously throughout the voting day.

--Precinct-based data from the scanners is transmitted via technologically unsecure modems to the "central tabulator," another Diebold program called GEMS. Media and government reports have shown the ease with which GEMS can be manipulated, changing election results without leaving a trace.

--Diebold spokesman David Baer, dismissing the disclosure of yet another newly discovered security flaw, said, "It's only a vulnerability to those who would commit a felony." The VCC agrees that tampering with an election is a felony, and the equipment that would allow it should never be used.

--The Committee's protest action is not based on the results, whatever they may or may not be, but because of the conditions that make it impossible to be certain of the true outcome.

--In order to verify the results reported as true and accurate, the VCC calls on the County to recruit citizen volunteers to conduct a full hand count of the ballots.



Posted by Dave Berman - 12:39 AM | Permalink
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Sunday, June 04, 2006

Conscientious Objector Seeks Assistance

The resister in question is so far identified only as LT. The website below refers to an upcoming press conference but no date has yet been announced as they await some type of critical mass of supporters. Many high profile names have already signed on as supporters here, including backing from Veterans For Peace, of course. Looking back at desertion rates during Viet Nam, I have a strong sense of the importance of VFP, and in particular any assistance they offer conscientious objectors.

June 3, 2006: First U.S. military officer poised to publicly refuse orders in support of the illegal Iraq War requires immediate support and assistance. Join this unprecedented political and legal support campaign today! Information updated daily!

Initial Call to Support

A Call to Support U.S. Military Officer to Refuse Illegal Iraq War

June 2, 2006

First U.S. military officer poised to publicly refuse orders in support of the illegal Iraq War requests your immediate support and assistance. Having already attempted to resign his commission in protest, he now poised to refuse deployment via simultaneous, cross-country press conferences, within days.
"I refuse to be silent any longer. I refuse to watch families torn apart, while the President tells us to "stay the course."… I refuse to be party to an illegal and immoral war against people who did nothing to deserve our aggression. I wanted to be there for my fellow troops. But the best way was not to help drop artillery and cause more death and destruction. It is to help oppose this war and end it so that all soldiers can come home."
- LT*

A working group has formed to facilitate an unprecedented political and legal support campaign on his behalf. Well respected civilian legal representation has been secured. A legal and political defense fund has been created. Many of us have already met LT* and have been moved by his determination to help stop an unjust war.


Posted by Dave Berman - 9:10 PM | Permalink
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Saturday, June 03, 2006

Hartmann Transcript and Reflections

A few people are trying to get me the audio from Thursday morning's interview with Thom Hartmann. I'll post it as soon as I get it. While we wait, some of my friends at Democratic Underground have made a transcript. It sure reads like Thom was digging what I said but it seemed to me like he hadn't read my work and wasn't really buying into what he was hearing. This could account for the interview lasting only about five minutes instead of the ten I was told to expect. Perhaps another listen will change my view.

Meanwhile, on reflection, I imagine how I might have won Thom over by more directly introducing some points I unfortunately never even got to say. Here is the transcript with my afterthoughts following my actual remarks:

Hartmann: Dave Berman is with us. His website,,
coincidentally the title of his book: We Do Not Consent, which you can actually download on the website Dave Berman, welcome to the program.

Berman [actual]: Thank you, Thom.

Hartmann: Dave you're a reasonable chronicler of the state of elections and voting machines and voting theft in this country. What's going on? Where are we right now?

Berman: Well, I typically don't talk about it in terms of theft and I don't even really do the chronicling that places like BradBlog and Vote Trust USA do a better job with. What I'm more interested in doing is organizing the response from the people with the message: "We do not consent."

Berman [wishful thinking]: Where we are right now, Thom, is that our elections are still unverifiable. Paperless electronic machines are still in use around the country. Such conditions ensure inconclusive outcomes, meaning we will never have unanimous agreement about the results. Many people have called it faith-based voting since we have to have blind trust in the results reported. There is simply no rational basis for confidence in the results reported from American elections today. Now, its been like this and getting worse for some time. But I want to add something new to this equation, and Thom you are the perfect person not just to broadcast this message but also to take the lead in action. The media must not be allowed to present as fact what they cannot independently verify. Newspapers get election results from only one source, their local elections department, and then have no way to verify that this info is accurate. Where we are right now, Thom, and what we must stop is faith-based reporting about faith-based voting.

Hartmann: Ok. So, how is the message organized?

Berman: For starters, we have a resolution called the "Voter Confidence Resolution", which was developed through my previous blog, which was called GuvWurld, in which all of the essays in my book originally appeared there. The resolution, the "Voter Confidence Resolution," was adopted by the city council of Arcata, California, last July, and it's currently pending before the city council of Palo Alto, CA.

We're looking to see citizen groups around the country organize themselves for the purpose of pursuing local adoption of this resolution, which says that election conditions guarantee inconclusive results. We're never going to have unanimous acceptance of the results, when they're unverifiable elections. And, since that, under these conditions, the consent of the governed is not even being sought, we have to shatter the assumption that that consent actually exists.

The message is being organized on the local level. City Councilmembers and County Supervisors are realizing they are quite often stuck between a rock and a hard place, facing state and federal mandates that interfere with the ability to make sound local decisions in the best interests of the community. Often these local representatives are in an untenable position because they are basically being used as a conduit for the harm being done to We The People. The message, We Do Not Consent, must really come from the People. We direct it at all levels of government but most importantly the local level where our neighbors serving in office need to have our encouragement to engage in Municipal Civil Disobedience.

This is starting to happen. Gavin Newsom, Jason West and others performing same-sex weddings would be one example. In Monroe County, PA they refused to meet a Help America Vote Act deadline because they called the voting machine expenditure an unfunded mandate which they would not cover with taxpayer money. And then there's the Voter Confidence Resolution which was developed through my last blog, GuvWurld, and which was adopted last July by the City Council of Arcata, CA. The resolution says that current election conditions guarantee inconclusive outcomes, that an entire platform of election reforms is needed to create a new basis for confidence in the results reported, and that these current conditions fail to seek the Consent of the Governed, THE source from which government derives "just Power." We have to shatter the assumption that this Consent exists. The Consent of the Governed must be withdrawn. This won't happen all at once. But as one community after another stands behind a statement like the Voter Confidence Resolution, we can see that this is a path leading to a tipping point.

Hartmann: And the consent of the governed is the basis of American democracy in the American Republic.

Berman: You know it! Yeah, from the Declaration of Independence. It is THE source from which government's just power is derived, and we do not have to grant that, and we should not allow it to be taken for granted. It's time to withdraw the consent of the governed.

That's right Thom. Being the scholar that you are I figured you would appreciate the use of such historically relevant terms. We cannot shy away from thinking on this level of magnitude. Election reform is not the end goal. It is, however, the best tactic that I see for initiating a new peaceful American revolution. And let's demystify that. From Rebecca Solnit's book, "Hope In The Dark," I have adopted a definition that says peaceful revolution is a shift in the balance of power between We The People and the government. Since we currently have no say in the way our so-called leaders are chosen, to regain the franchise is necessarily revolutionary.

Hartmann: That's great. "We Do Not Consent", the book. Election reform is not an end goal, you say, but it's a tactic toward peaceful revolution?

Berman: Well, yeah. I mean, that's why I refer you to Brad Blog and Vote Trust USA and all the many, many great organizations that have come up throughout the country over the past few years. We do need to do the actual work of identifying appropriate reforms and pursuing them, but the thing is, even if we are successful at getting our elections to be verifiable, where are we?

I mean, we have a government that is LAWLESS! We have a government that has taken away, completely, our right to privacy....our right to free speech. You want to protest? They'll put you in a free speech zone. We have lost our "presumption of innocence" can just be jailed for nothing. So, even if we are to fix our elections, I'm afraid that that's not the 'be all, end all.'

Let me add some more context here. I say we need election reforms, and I say these reforms could be revolutionary. But it's like you might see on a bumper sticker: It's the lawlessness, stupid! We no longer have any expectation of privacy nor a presumption of innocence. In this way, we are not a Free People. Repairing the electoral system is crucial, but it is not the real big picture goal we should focus on. Peaceful revolution is necessary, NOW!

Hartmann: No, we have a lot of work to do. It's amazing the amount of damage that Bush has done in five years.

Berman: No doubt.

Hartmann: I mean, it's just mind boggling. So, Dave Berman, if local groups of people -- people listening to this program right now -- want to try to get a "We Do Not Consent" type of resolution passed by their city council, their county board, their state legislature -- whatever it may be -- how do they do that?

Berman: Well, the first thing would be to grab the copy off of the WeDoNotConsent.blogspot website. We have maintained, since the beginning, that the resolution that we got accepted here in Humboldt County, by the Arcata City Council should be regarded as a template. There are certain key elements that should be preserved from one community to another, but there is a big section of it that is basically an election reform platform. Here is where the discussion and debate is really open -- where every community needs to kind of take a shot at developing their own local standards for what is going to create a basis for confidence.

Right now, we're being asked, through unverifiable elections, to have blind trust in the results and, instead, we need to create a basis for confidence.

Hartmann: Ok, great. So people should download the resolution from and then....?

Berman: Well, then begin organizing and begin lobbying your city council or your county supervisors. I mean, I think it really needs to be on the local level.

Hartmann: Yeah, well said. Ok, Dave Berman. His book: "We Do Not Consent." The website: Dave, thanks for being with us today.

Berman: Thank you, Thom.

Hartmann: Good talking with you. It's a great start...a great start getting out there and saying, 'Nope, sorry, we're not going to play this game.' I think we need to do more of that.
Those last pieces of the exchange work OK for me. It's just too bad I didn't get to include the bit about the faith-based reporting. I think this is a novel way to seek accountability from the media and it would be great to have Thom Hartmann pick up on this angle. It's not too late...

Posted by Dave Berman - 2:24 AM | Permalink
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We Do Not Consent, Volume 1 (left) and Volume 2 (right), feature essays from Dave Berman's previous blogs, GuvWurld and We Do Not Consent, respectively. Click the covers for FREE e-book versions (.pdf). As of April 2010, paperbacks are temporarily out of print. Click here for the author's bio.

Back Page Quotes

"Give a damn about the world you live in? Give a damn about what you and I both know is one of the most shameful and destructive periods in American history? If so, do something about it. You can start by reading We Do Not Consent."

— Brad Friedman, Creator/Editor,; Co-Founder,

"If in the future we have vital elections, the "no basis for confidence" formulation that GuvWurld is popularizing will have been a historically important development. This is true because by implicitly insisting on verification and checks and balances instead of faith or trust in elections officials or machines as a basis for legitimacy, it encourages healthy transparent elections. It’s also rare that a political formulation approaches scientific certainty, but this formulation is backed up by scientific principles that teach that if you can’t repeat something (such as an election) and verify it by independent means, it doesn’t exist within the realm of what science will accept as established or proven truth."

— Paul Lehto, Attorney at Law, Everett, WA

"Dave Berman has been candid and confrontational in challenging all of us to be "ruthlessly honest" in answering his question, "What would be better?" He encourages us to build consensus definitions of "better," and to match our words with actions every day, even if we do only "the least we can do." Cumulatively and collectively, our actions will bring truth to light."

— Nezzie Wade, Sociology Professor, Humboldt State University and College of the Redwoods

"Dave Berman's work is quietly brilliant and powerfully utilitarian. His Voter Confidence Resolution provides a fine, flexible tool whereby any community can reclaim and affirm a right relation to its franchise as a community of voters."

— Elizabeth Ferrari, San Francisco, Green Party of California

"This is an important collection of essays with a strong unitary theme: if you can't prove that you were elected, we can't take you seriously as elected officials. Simple, logical, comprehensive. 'Management' (aka, the 'powers that be') needs to get the message. 'The machines' are not legitimizers, they're an artful dodge and a path to deception. We've had enough...and we most certainly DO NOT consent."

— Michael Collins covers the election fraud beat for "Scoop" Independent Media

"What's special about this book (and it fits because there's nothing more fundamental to Democracy than our vote) is the raising of consciousness. Someone recognizing they have no basis for trusting elections may well ask what else is being taken for granted."

— Eddie Ajamian, Los Angeles, CA

"I urge everyone to read "We Do Not Consent", and distribute it as widely as possible."

— B Robert Franza MD, author of We the People ... Have No Clothes: A Pamphlet for every American