Monday, September 11, 2006

Voter Confidence Resolution Advances in Palo Alto

The Human Relations Commission (HRC) of Palo Alto, CA has now twice adopted modified versions of the Voter Confidence Resolution (VCR) derived from the language developed at the GuvWurld Blog, predecessor to WDNC. In February the HRC adopted this language (.pdf), though when the Palo Alto City Council finally considered the VCR in May it was sent back to the HRC for revisions. In July the HRC made its second unanimous endorsement, archived here and shown below in full. And now, according to HRC Chairperson Shauna Wilson, the Council is set to reconsider the revised resolution on September 18. The following is a letter submitted by Wilson to the Council asking for their approval of the resolution and outlining the changes made by the HRC to accommodate the Council's previous concerns.

Dear Mayor, Kleinberg, Vice Mayor Kishimoto, and City Council Members,

The Human Relations Commission passed a Voter Confidence Resolution on February 9. 2006 and requested the Resolution be sent to the City Council of Palo Alto for consideration. The Voter Confidence Resolution made it to the City Council agenda on May 8, whereupon it was sent back to the HCR for revision.

Some City Council Members took issue with specific sections of the resolution unanimously passed by the HRC in February. The HRC has sited the provisions below.

1. Declaring election day a national holiday.
  • Some Council members were concerned about the financial impact of an election day holiday for City employees. Other Council members wondered if a national holiday would be the most effective way to increase voter turnout.

  • HRC RESPONSE: The HRC removed this provision from the revised Voter Confidence Resolution
2. Equal Time provisions to be restored by the media along with a measurable increase in local public control of the airwaves
  • A Council member believed this provision was inappropriate and unnecessary.

  • HRC RESPONSE: The HRC believes that equal time provisions for political candidates would help to equalize the political process. The HCR also believes current laws could be enforced by the FCC. Specific Supreme Court rulings authorizing the Federal Communications Commission to enforce equal time provisions and free airtime for political candidates can be found at the link provided below. http://tinyurl.com/m6zvq The HRC agrees to remove this segment of the resolution in the interest of offering the City Council a Voter Confidence Resolution in keeping with City Council concerns.
3. Preferential voting and proportional representation to replace the winner – take – all system for Federal, State and local elections.
  • A Council Member sited preferential voting and proportional representation as complicated voting systems which should not be considered for this Resolution.

  • HRC RESPONSE: The goal in preferential voting is to produce election results where winners gain seats in proportion to the votes they secure. This system is used for national elections in Australia, New Zealand, Israel, Japan and a number of European Countries. The HRC believes a preferential voting system would enhance voter confidence. However, the HRC has removed this provision in honor of the City Council request.
Members of the City Council also questioned the call for support of clean money laws. The HRC had purposely left this segment open ended as legislation was pending in the State and in Congress. Since passing the initial Voter Confidence Resolution, Proposition 89: California Clean Money and Fair Election Act has qualified for the November 2006 ballot. Details and specifics about this proposition can be found at www.CleanMoneyElections.org

When the HRC passed the most recent version of the Voter Confidence Resolution the Voters Rights Act was before Congress. H.R. 9 has subsequently passed and the Voters Rights Act has been reauthorized.

The Human Relations Commission hopes the City Council will pass this revised Voter Confidence Resolution which has incorporated the changes suggested by various City Council members.

Sincerely,

Shauna Wilson Mora
Chair of the Human Relations Commission
City of Palo Alto, CA

* * *

Voter Confidence Resolution
As passed by the Human Relations Commission of the City of Palo Alto
July 13, 2006

Whereas a properly functioning election system should produce substantial agreement about the results indicated by a fixed set of unchanging records; and

Whereas recent elections have been conducted under conditions that have not produced substantial agreement about the outcome; and

Whereas future elections cannot possibly produce substantial agreement as long as any condition permits an inconclusive count or re-count of votes; and

Whereas inconclusive counts and re-counts have occurred during recent elections due in part to electronic voting devices that do not produce a paper record of votes to be re-counted if necessary; and

Whereas the lack of open source software in electronic voting devices restricts public verification of vote accuracy; and

Whereas the Secretary of State has the power to interpret, and implement state and federal elections laws, and set the standards for everything from the processing of voter registrations to the conduct of official recounts; and

Whereas when the Secretary of State is also a principal player in the re-election campaign under his or her jurisdiction, confidence in the Secretary of State’s impartiality is questionable; and

Whereas in the absence of federal or even state standards for voter roll purges, and number of voting machines and poll workers per registered voter, the United States has many municipalities with as many possible standards; and

Whereas exit polls have been used to verify the authenticity and integrity of elections all over the world, and yet exit polls in some recent elections in the United States indicated a landslide victory for the candidate that tallied votes registered as the losing candidate; and

Whereas inconclusive results make it impossible to measure the will of the people in their preferences for representation; and

Whereas the money necessary to run campaigns for state and federal elected offices often requires extensive fund raising and encourages the influence of special interest groups and wealthy donors, while limiting candidate’s ability to interact directly with the public; and

Whereas the Declaration of Independence refers to the Consent of the Governed as the self-evident truth from which Government derives "Just Power"; and

Whereas inconclusive results, by definition, mean that the true outcome of an election cannot be known, there is no basis for confidence in the results reported from such elections;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED:

The following is a comprehensive election reform platform likely to ensure conclusive election results and create a basis for confidence in U.S. federal, State and local elections:
1) A voter-verified paper ballot for every vote cast and additional uniform standards determined by a non-partisan nationally recognized commission, and

2) Voting processes owned and operated entirely in the public domain, and

3) A requirement that the top elected official responsible for overseeing elections in each jurisdiction not serve in any capacity in any political campaign over which he or she has jurisdiction, and

4) Consistent national standards for security, including physical and electronic security of election systems, including tallying systems, and

5) Uniform and inclusive voter registration standards and accurate and transparent voting roll purges, based on fair and consistent national standards, and

6) Consistent national standards for the number of voting machines and poll workers per 100 voters in each precinct, to ensure reasonable and uniform waiting times for all voters, and

7) Counting all votes publicly and locally in the presence of citizen witnesses and credentialed members of the media, and

8) Re-authorization of the Voting Rights Act before Congress as H.R. 9

9) Support of clean money campaign reform laws such as passed in the States of Maine, Arizona, Massachusetts, Vermont and New Mexico and to be included in the November 2006 election ballot for California as the California Clean Money and Fair Elections Act ; and
In passing this resolution, the City Clerk of the City of Palo Alto, California will follow the above guidelines, where possible, to protect, and ensure voter confidence. This resolution will be sent to California State and Federal legislators, the California Secretary of State, and the Santa Clara County Registrar of Voters.

Be it further resolved:

When elections are conducted under conditions that prevent conclusive outcomes, the Consent of the Governed is not being sought. Absent this self-evident source of legitimacy, such Consent is not to be assumed or taken for granted.

Posted by Dave Berman - 1:55 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.

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"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, BradBlog.com; Co-Founder, VelvetRevolution.us


"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."

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"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