Monday, July 31, 2006

Lehto Launches Legal Challenge to San Diego Election

I woke up Monday excited to monitor the situation in San Diego. I was temporarily sidetracked by the major announcement from the Open Voting Foundation which exposed "the worst security flaw we have seen in touch screen voting machines," according to OVF President Alan Dechert. I posted more about this here. Meanwhile, Paul Lehto was popping up just about everywhere else I turned.

Lehto (who wrote the Foreword to my book) is the attorney who filed suit Monday on behalf of voters Barbara Gail Jacobson and Lillian Ritt, arguing that the June 6 election between Brian Bilbray and Francine Busby for California's 50th District Congressional seat "was an unconstitutional election, and therefore void and invalid." Plaintiffs seek relief in the form of a hand count that could potentially contribute to removing a now-sitting Congressmember who was sworn in before all votes were counted and prior to the election's certification. Read the 12 page case here (.pdf).

Lehto is merciless on San Diego Registrar Mikel Haas, notorious now for withholding documents relevant to public information requests and for providing three different, arbitrary, price quotes for the conduct of a hand count.

18. The actions of Defendant Haas, as Registrar of Voters, and [unnamed defendants, county employees] Does 1-50, constitute such reckless indifference and intent to obscure the chain of custody, and frustrate reconciliation of ballots and other accountability for election mistakes, as to constitute aiding and abetting fraud or attempts at fraud and aiding and abetting, in violation of California Election Code, section 18500.

[snip]

25. Defendants, Mikel Haas, and Does 1-50, deliberately concealed and frustrated the ability of the public to determine whether or not fraud occurred such that, in addition to the affirmative evidence of fraud pleaded herein and in verified statements filed herein, there has been such a radical departure from the expected chain of custody and compliance with recordkeeping requirements that the ability of the public to detect fraud has been radically frustrated or eliminated.
Lehto goes on to cite the Mississippi Supreme Court, which in a case where the ability to detect fraud had been systematically removed, ordered a new election be held. I was certainly expecting the hand count request at the end but this information makes me wonder if it is the proper remedy after all? It is argued that the correct total number of ballots cannot be known. Doesn't this preclude the possibility of a conclusive result from the intended hand count? I have invited Lehto to respond to this question.

For more interesting reading related to the case, see the press release first shown on BradBlog.com, later circulated on US Newswire, and shown in full at the bottom of this post. RAW Story also has an exclusive interview conducted with Lehto on Sunday.
Lehto expects his case will be placed on a "rocket docket" for speedy trial within 45-60 days. "The key is that there is no basis for confidence," he said. "Haas cannot prove that Bilbray won the election, properly...There is not enough chain of custody to show that." [emphasis added]

[snip]

Lehto, a business and consumer fraud attorney, is a retired governor of the Washington State Bar Association and was voting [sic] "Rising Star" in 2003 and 2004 by Washington State Law and Politics magazine. He appears on radio and television shows and is considered a national expert on election reform issues.

[snip]

Asked what voting system he would most trust, Lehto noted that optical scans could in theory be "reasonably accurate if you have the right checks and balances, and you have precinct counts." But he added, "If one of those checks or balances is missing, all bets are off." [emphasis added]

Lehto would prefer to see optical scans and touchscreens ditched in favor of a far lower-tech solution. "Paper ballots, hand-counted --– not by opti-scans --– are overall the best system," the election protection attorney concluded.
Another interesting fact I did not previously know is that Snohomish County, WA circumvents the machine sleepover problem by using just nine US Post Office trucks to deliver voting equipment to polling places on the morning of an election. San Diego is about three times as big. Humboldt, about one-sixth the size of Snohomish, just lost one more excuse for its own non-compliance.

Finally, on Monday afternoon Lehto did a great interview on the nationally syndicated Ed Schultz radio show. BradBlog has it archived (.mp3). Such is an auspicious beginning to this next chapter in our quest to restore Democracy. This legal challenge is being mounted entirely on citizen contributions. Donations can be made through VelvetRevolution.us.






http://releases.usnewswire.com/GetRelease.asp?id=70013

Election Contest Filed Demanding Accountability, Decertification, Paper Ballot Count of Busby/Bilbray Election in CA-50

7/31/2006 11:06:00 AM

To: Assignment Desk, Daybook Editor, Political Reporter

Contact: Ilene Proctor PR, 310-271-5857

News Advisory:

Election Contest Filed Demanding Accountability, Decertification, Paper Ballot Count of Busby/Bilbray Election in CA-50

-- Press Conference Set for 10:30 a.m. in San Diego

Today, famed election attorney Paul Lehto filed an election contest lawsuit in San Diego County Superior Court demanding a count of all paper ballots in the Busby/Bilbray special election to replace convicted Republican Congressman Duke Cunningham. On the face of the pleading, Lehto, on behalf of voters of CA-50, asserts that they are entitled to a 100 percent ballot count at a reasonable cost because of massive security violations of federal and state law by election officials.

California state law requires that all votes cast in an election be properly counted and tabulated. In the CA-50 election, however, it cannot be determined whether or not all votes were counted because legally mandated procedures were violated both in the run-up to the election and during the official voter request for a hand ballot count. County Registrar Mikel Haas sent the Diebold voting machines on "sleepovers" in the unsecured homes and cars of volunteer poll workers for weeks prior to the election in violation of federal and state law. When voter Barbara Gail Jacobsen filed for a recount, Haas set an exorbitant price of $150,000 but refused to provide the documents necessary for that count.

"Given the fact that all the voting machines were circulating in the county for at least a week prior to the election, and manipulation of a single machine can rig an election, there is no basis for voters to have confidence in the election results," attorney Lehto said. Indeed, because the Diebold machines used in the election were conditionally certified by the Secretary of State under stringent security and chain of custody conditions to protect against manipulation, the lawsuit asserts that non- compliance with those conditions necessarily requires decertification of the election results.

A press conference will take place today on the steps of the San Diego County Superior Court at 10:30 am. Lehto, voters and activists will be on hand to talk about the lawsuit and their plans for further action to ensure compliance with all California election laws.

VelvetRevolution.us, a network of scores of election reform organizations demanding honest and accountable elections, is handling the fundraising for this CA-50 legal challenge and donations are being accepted on its website, http://www.velvetrevolution.us

http://www.usnewswire.com/

-0-

/© 2006 U.S. Newswire 202-347-2770/
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Posted by Dave Berman - 11:25 PM | Permalink
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WORST EVER SECURITY FLAW FOUND IN DIEBOLD TS VOTING MACHINE

The Open Voting Foundation, an entity recently created to facilitate a broader range of activities by our long-time friends at the Open Voting Consortium, today announced the discovery of what amounts to an A/B switch in Diebold TS machines. That is, inside the machine, there is a toggle function that can put the machine in a mode completely foreign to the performance expectations created in the certified version of the equipment. The entire press release is on the OVF home page (without a permalink) and here is the intro:

OPEN VOTING FOUNDATION
9560 Windrose Lane
Granite Bay, CA 95746
Phone (916) 295-0415
alan@openvoting.org

PRESS RELEASE -- JULY 31, 2006

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

SACRAMENTO, CALIFORNIA -- "This may be the worst security flaw we have seen in touch screen voting machines," says Open Voting Foundation president, Alan Dechert. Upon examining the inner workings of one of the most popular paperless touch screen voting machines used in public elections in the United States, it has been determined that with the flip of a single switch inside, the machine can behave in a completely different manner compared to the tested and certified version.

"Diebold has made the testing and certification process practically irrelevant," according to Dechert. "If you have access to these machines and you want to rig an election, anything is possible with the Diebold TS -- and it could be done without leaving a trace. All you need is a screwdriver." This model does not produce a voter verified paper trail so there is no way to check if the voter's choices are accurately reflected in the tabulation.


This and other photos available at
http://www.openvotingfoundation.org/ts/
Shown in the lower left of this image (more toward the center when opened in larger size) is a grid painted directly on the mother board "with instructions for swapping from one bootloader to another," according to BlackBoxVoting.org. BBV and computer security expert Harri Hursti have previously released reports identifying "the worst voting system security issue to date" and today posted these comments on the OVF findings.

It is nothing but adding insult to injury at this point. There needs to be a full product recall to get these machines off the market. If you are in a county using this equipment, the people who run your elections department have only one way to be responsible to the community. If they continue to deny the problems, and defend this equipment, they must be pressured to resign. Even if your county doesn't use these machines, but your state allows it, your state Attorney General should be implored to bring your Secretary of State to justice. And as for the folks at Diebold, are their crimes not treasonous?

More later tonight on the San Diego scene where today ace election attorney Paul Lehto filed suit for a hand count of ballots in the CA-50 race. For a teaser, listen to Paul (.mp3) on the Ed Schultz radio show, archived at BradBlog.com.

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Saturday, July 29, 2006

Videos, Events and Other Links of Interest

Help America Vote On Paper is an 18 minute movie you can download or view for free at Google or purchase as a DVD from the Ecological Options Network.

Democracy For New Hampshire has put together some great materials to promote the hand counting they are fortunate to conduct. Their "Election Preparedness Kit" features this 63 page .pdf called "We're Counting the Votes" and they also have several free videos demonstrating counting methodology.

Another film on electronic voting debuts Sunday night Decatur, GA. It is called The Right to Count and DVDs are available at that link.

SolarBus.org has added a multimedia page featuring quite a few downloads of radio/TV/movie coverage of election issues. Take the time to surf the rest of this site. It is a gold mine.

BlackBoxVoting.org has a discussion thread with an enormous number of suggested slogans for the election integrity movement. Here are my contributions:

We Do Not Consent to secret vote counting machines.

There is no basis for confidence in American election results.

Give me liberty, or give me Diebold.

Hand count paper ballots publicly to legitimize democracy.

Hand count paper ballots publicly to verify democracy.

Hand count paper ballots publicly to verify it is democracy.

Media should not report what cannot be proven and hasn't been independently verified.

Only state-run media report unverified election results as fact.

The Consent of the Governed is hereby withdrawn.
51 Capital March is the first site I have discovered displaying the cover of my book, right in between Greg Palast's latest, Armed Madhouse, and the famous Conyers' report, no less!

Georgians For Verified Voting cite the Consent of the Governed on their home page.

Cindy Sheehan and others are setting up Camp Democracy at Fort Fed Up on the National Mall in Washington DC. The Declaration of Peace is a related project with an impressive list of endorsers.

Spearhead has a new CD called Yell Fire! and I can't stop playing it. Believe in coexistence.

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Posted by Dave Berman - 11:22 PM | Permalink
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San Diego: Lehto, Collins and Collins, and No Sleepovers

It has been widely discussed in the election integrity community, and reported by Michael Collins in New Zealand's Scoop, that all-star election integrity attorney (and author of the Foreword to my book) Paul Lehto has been retained to lead the legal challenge to the CA-50 election in San Diego. I've blogged about this several times but it is Brad Friedman's BradBlog.com that has led the way, not only with reporting but also organizing actual citizen response. See definition: advocacy journalism.

The word is that Lehto's legal challenge will be filed on Monday
. I asked him about this earlier in the week and he suggested the "no basis for confidence" position will be articulated, applying the specifics of the San Diego situation, and no doubt accounting for the surge in organizations issuing such a rejection of the election conditions (never mind the alleged results). A new site set up on this score (with Brad's advocacy) is NoSleepovers.org. They've got some clever merchandise for sale to help the cause. They have a few different items bearing this image:



CLICK HERE TO SHOP

I also really like this line, found on their About Us page, beneath the list of founding members and their mission statement: "We are fighting this battle here so we don'’t have to fight it there - in 435 Congressional Districts in November." That is so totally right on. We put ourselves at a disadvantage by waiting for the faux "elections" to occur so we can challenge the outcomes after the fact. WE DO NOT CONSENT to the secret and illegal conditions under which these elections will be held and we reject their legitimacy in advance. Voting that is unverifiable to the public is also unverifiable to the media, who should not report what can't be proven.

I've now brought up this point twice on the Peter B. Collins syndicated radio show, heard in Humboldt on 1480AM KGOE and streaming online at PeterBCollins.com. Peter has been an absolute champion to the election integrity movement, most recently focusing on San Diego. Click here for the interview I did on his show on June 6, and click here for the final hour of yesterday's show featuring guests Mimi Kennedy of the Progressive Democrats of America, and Emily Levy of both California Election Protection Network and the CA-50 Action Committee. I also got on the air as a caller, plugging the upcoming media accountability forum, and Dan Ashby of the Election Defense Alliance got through to discuss the issue of boot loaders, described in this report (.pdf) as the means to alter election results not only on one machine and in the present but on many machines and into the future. This was a great hour of radio.

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Friday, July 28, 2006

Grand Juries and Election Investigations

On Thursday I got a call from Tom Courbat down in Riverside County. He does a lot of great work with Democracy For America - Temecula Valley (DFA-TV), including presentations for the Board of Supervisors, the elections department and all sorts of other actions parallel to what I've done up here with the Voter Confidence Committee.

Tom reached out to me because his local Grand Jury asked him to testify about election systems
next week. Through the California Election Protection Network Tom knew that I had previously testified (January 2006) to the Humboldt Grand Jury. This is true, though I never did write about that experience in detail because at the time I was bound by the Grand Jury admonition, an affirmation that I will keep my testimony secret until the Grand Jury's final report is published.

That report was published last month (.pdf). It does not even come close to doing me justice. The report does not indicate that the Grand Jurors investigated the things I testified about. It was a pretty wide ranging interview covering topics including the questionable legality of Humboldt's election machines, various reports of demonstrated security failures, ranked choice voting, and the GAO (.pdf) and other government reports, most notably this Staff Report (.pdf) from the CA Secretary of State's office in April 2004 which charges Diebold with installing uncertified software in voting machines in 17 CA counties, including Humboldt.

On that last point, I have written many times that this scenario must ultimately lead to accountability in the elections department. Did anyone know the installation of uncertified software was happening? This is a very telling question because the buck still stops somewhere no matter the answer. If someone in the elections department knew about the installation, that suggests complicity. If nobody knew, that suggests negligence and an alarming lack of security.

I had hoped this to be a good jumping off point for the Grand Jury to begin investigating but apparently not. Based on this experience, my advice to Tom Courbat was to make it as easy as possible for the Grand Jurors to do their jobs, and to lead them by the nose as much as possible. I have recently been doing some of the research I had hoped the Grand Jurors would do. Rather than presenting a compelling question, I hope to go back to them in the next few months with a case all ready to be made.

I will share more on this in the coming weeks. In the meantime, if you are the curious sort, I have obtained Humboldt's original contract with Global Election Systems (later bought by Diebold). Take a look and see what questions arise. Post them in the comments section of this post at WDNC. Also visit your county's website to find the contact information for your local Grand Jury. Use their process to submit a complaint about your local election conditions.

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Media Forum Details Emerging

This post starts a new era in blogging here at WDNC. Instead of writing, I am speaking into a tiny little digital voice recorder which will be transcribing my words onto my computer. Over the past few years I've written hundreds of essays, put out a book, and had articles published in a variety of publications. It may seem like I'm prolific but I labor over these words that you read and I assure you it takes me way too long. So I'm optimistic that by being able to speak what I want to convey through this blog I can save a lot of time and cover a lot more ground.

The main thing I've been working on recently is the media accountability forum, now set for September 21 at 6 p.m. at the KHUM studios in Ferndale. Confirmed to participate: Mike Dronkers, KHUM program director as the host/facilitator; Tom Sebourn, program director from KGOE; Charles Winkler, editor of the Eureka Times-Standard; and Estelle Fennell, news director at KMUD. I will also be on the panel representing indy media and the blogosphere.

It has been a great experience talking to other members of the media community here in Humboldt County. I've had a very positive response even from people who haven't yet committed to participate. There are only two more open seats that we can fill for this event and the great thing is that in talking to all these other people I am getting the sense that there is an appetite for turning this into a series rather than a one-off occasion. So even once these final seats get claimed for the September 21 event, we will have people who are not only interested but in a position to help plan and execute additional installments in this media accountability series.

Look for the pace of entries here to pick up over the next few days, but one last thing to consider for now. Last September, the Lone Star Iconoclast published the transcript of an interview I did with Editor W. Leon Smith. Here is the intro to that article:

Arcata City, Calif. Establishes Model Voter Confidence Resolution For Nation's Cities To Follow

By W. Leon Smith

Editor-In-Chief, The Iconoclast

September 12, 2005 10:21 PM

ARCATA, Calif. - Voter confidence has plummeted during the past two presidential elections with corporate-owned voting machine tabulations in question from coast to coast. Several organizations have advocated changes in the voting system, but one city is taking it a step further. The City of Arcata, Calif., after months of debate and consideration, has adopted what is called the Voter Confidence Resolution.

According to Dave Berman, one of the resolution's authors, this type of initiative, if adopted by cities throughout the country, could have a decisive impact on the confidence voters achieve by providing unquestionable election returns.

"But we must first change the national dialogue," he said.
Let it sink in now. We are bringing the decision-makers of Humboldt County media together in an arena where the public will re-define what is required for the media to be considered credible. We are changing the dialogue, and moving the ball downfield.

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Thursday, July 20, 2006

Even Less Than No Basis For Confidence, One Year Later

One year ago today, the City Council of Arcata, CA became the first in the nation to adopt the Voter Confidence Resolution (VCR). The Council, still comprised of the same five members, met last night. I used the public comment period to point out this anniversary and thank them again for the important statement they made. Council meetings are now shown live online, and archived too, so anyone can click here and select the July 19 meeting to observe what I'm describing. You can even use the awesome "jump to" feature to select the Oral Communications part of the agenda when I got to speak. (NOTE: as of this writing, I notified the City Manager's office that only part of the meeting was streaming; it was quickly removed entirely though I suspect they'll have it all available before too long.)

Beyond expressing gratitude, I presented the Council with an update on some of the ways that the "no basis for confidence" frame has been spreading. As I wrote just prior to joining the meeting, this was intended as somewhat of a tribute to the election integrity movement. Having not yet seen the video of these extemporaneous remarks I can't be sure exactly what I said though here I'll give you the gist, plus.

Shauna Wilson, Chair of Palo Alto's Human Relations Commission (HRC) has been the VCR's next best champion. The HRC adopted the VCR in February, with most of Arcata's language intact. Palo Alto's City Council has discussed it once but requested revisions. The HRC has sent it back to the Council again and it should be on a future agenda soon.

The VCR has received media attention all over the country and beyond. In September, the Lonestar Iconoclast--based in Mr. Bush's ranch town of Crawford, TX--published the transcript of a lengthy interview I gave to W. Leon Smith. Probably not much chance Mr. Bush read my statements about "his" government's illegitimacy. It still feels good to say. Go ahead, please, give it a try. Loud and proud, you know?

On Christmas, the New Zealand online news source Scoop wrote about a whole collection of tactics developed at GuvWurld, my former blog. The VCR was mentioned, but it wasn't the focus as much as the overall CA Unity Campaign, as it was called. It didn't have the prior planning or coordination to effectively organize people across the state, though it didn't go unnoticed either. Some have picked up on the suggested tactics, and the original piece made it into my book (see top right of page for free .pdf download, or go $10 for a hard copy).

What I was looking for with the CA Unity Campaign was something like what happened last month over the Bilbray/Busby election in San Diego. Brad Friedman's VelvetRevolution had endorsed the Unity Campaign, but that was not even close to Brad's work on the San Diego scene at BradBlog. No tribute to the election integrity movement is complete without a toast to Brad (though I have a nagging feeling I neglected to mention him to the Council).

What I did emphasize last night was the breadth of the support this message has now received. I cited the California Election Protection Network, Progressive Democrats of America, Election Defense Alliance, Oregon Voter Rights Coalition, Ohio's J30, and some of the current candidates for office: John Bonifaz, Kevin Zeese, and Clint Curtis. I belatedly recognize Tribune Media syndicated columnist Bob Koehler, The Commonweal Institute, and Velvet Revolution. If your group has a statement declaring "no basis for confidence" in current US elections, please contact me and feel free to post it in the comments.

In addition to the "no basis for confidence" team roster, I wanted to give the Council a sense of how far we've come in understanding the nature of our election conditions. I mentioned some of the things we've learned in the past year to further justify the VCR, indeed to conclude there is even less than no basis for confidence one year later.

We know that memory cards, of the sort used here in Humboldt County, can be manipulated in various ways that will alter the results of an election and leave no trace of the crime. Such attacks can occur with or without direct access to the card and even when the card is supposedly "sealed" in the machine. We also have David Jefferson, an expert relied upon by CA Secretary of State Bruce McPherson, saying on PBS: "This particular vulnerability is serious enough that you can affect multiple machines from a single attack." Major kudos to Ion Soncho, Bruce Funk, Harri Hursti, Black Box Voting and VoteTrustUSA for their work in exposing this information.

In closing my public comments last night, I pointed the Council to the fifth of the eight points in the VCR's election reform platform:

5) counting all votes publicly and locally in the presence of citizen witnesses and credentialed members of the media,
With secret computer programming used to tally votes, an election is unverifiable, not only to the voters, but also to the media. I asked the Council to consider how they could take action to advance any of the reforms they advocated one year ago. An opportunity exists now, I told them, in talking to the media about reporting only what they can prove.

I've been emphasizing this theme since the Voter Confidence Committee (VCC) election day press conference. I can announce tonight for the first time that I have secured a commitment from KHUM to host a forum on media accountability. Mike Dronkers will host/facilitate and we'll fill their radio studio with local media decision-makers. We're not going to be able to have complete representation from all local media so I hope this will be part of a series. The date will be September 21 at 6pm so it is possible that we could arrange other installments prior to this. Ultimately everyone should be able to participate. My hope for it all is that the community redefines what is required of media to be considered credible.

Surely there is a lot more progress that can be cited in a tribute to the election integrity movement but unfortunately this brings to a close this year's presentation. If you didn't get mentioned, please know that your work is appreciated and needed and perhaps I'll have actual awards next year. Now please, print out this copy of the VCR, which comes with some planning suggestions on the back, and get your community organized to lobby your City Council. They won't be able to prove the results of the next election, nor will your local media, nor will you. There is no basis for confidence in those results. Everyone knows it, we're just helping them to admit it.

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* * *

Extra special thanks to Paul Lehto: Keep doing what you're doing.


Posted by Dave Berman - 9:10 PM | Permalink
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Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Tune In For a Tribute to the Election Integrity Movement

The City Council of Arcata, CA is currently in session and you can tune in live here. The player opens with a copy of the agenda so you can figure out where they are in the meeting. Toward the end, which I don't think will be too late tonight, probably 9ish PT (no guarantees), they have oral communications. This is when the public can address the Council. Watch for me.

Tomorrow marks the first anniversary of this Council being the first in the nation to adopt the Voter Confidence Resolution. I want to make sure they know how strongly the "no basis for confidence" sentiment has surged lately. They need to be thanked, and encouraged. I don't have it all worked out in my head yet so I'll sign off now to get it together.

Note that the meetings are archived so if you read this well after I've written it, you can still find out what happens/happened. I'll be back here at We Do Not Consent later on with more on the occasion.

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Monday, July 17, 2006

Humboldt EAC Notes, Part 2

Early Friday morning I posted the first part of my report on last Thursday night's meeting of the Humboldt County citizens' Election Advisory Committee (EAC). It was getting long and late so I promised to continue in this separate post in order to cover the discussion of the Humboldt Transparency Project, a groundbreaking effort to allow any community member or group to verify the reported results of our elections. I'll get to this in a moment. First a few loose ends...

I previously reported that Humboldt Registrar Carolyn Crnich expressed concerns about the chances of Vote-PAD being approved for use in CA. Vote-PAD is the non-electronic ballot marking device being marketed to counties for compliance with the Help America Vote Act's (HAVA) provisions requiring disabled voters be able to cast their ballots privately and independently. As noted in this Vote-PAD press release, disabled voters will have a chance to test the Vote-PAD device in Sacramento this Wednesday and Thursday. In an e-mail received Friday morning, Vote-PAD President Ellen Theisen explained one of the reasons for Crnich's pessimism:

Vote-PAD, Inc. is not authorized to recruit testers or publicize the testing, so when people get in touch with us asking how to sign up, we direct them to the Elections Office. It is my understanding that Gillian Underwood in the SoS office is managing the outreach and scheduling. Her number is 916/657-2180.
To be clear, the Secretary of State's office has gone out of its way to prohibit Vote-PAD from encouraging participation in the testing and certification process, supposedly out of concern for biasing the volunteer test voters. This may be inconsistent with directives given to vendors selling electronic voting machines. Further questions have been raised about comparative standards and protocols based on the proposed test plan (outlining the conditions for disabled voters to test Vote-PAD) provided by the Yolo County Elections Department to the California Election Protection Network. The full text of the plan is at the bottom of this post. Here are some of the questions that have arisen in public discussion:* * *

Now regarding the Humboldt Transparency Project (HTP), I mentioned last month that Humboldt County's legal counsel advised Crnich that the project could not proceed as planned because it would violate section 17306D of the CA election code which prohibits opening the containers containing completed ballots except to destroy or recycle the ballots. Several members of the EAC offered different interpretations and it now seems possible that the County Counsel won't have the last word.

Further discussion of the HTP focused on important people with whom Crnich has been discussing the project, and a bit about the technical aspects. Perhaps most importantly, State Senator and Secretary of State Candidate Debra Bowen was reportedly "giddy" about the HTP during a recent lunch meeting with Yolo County Registrar Freddie Oakley. Both Bowen and Oakley are outspoken advocates for election reform. According to Crnich, upon learning of the project, Bowen's Chief of Staff Evan Goldberg said, "you struck gold."

Two details emerged that advanced the clarity of my understanding of the project. First, we are talking about CDs being made available to community members or groups to count the votes for verification of the official count. The .tif images on the CDs will be created by scanning the ballots. On a mechanical level, this scan will differ from the Diebold optical scan used to produce the official results. The HTP is intended to avoid the use of any proprietary programming. Also, instead of having computer code that translates the ballot information into Diebold's secret vote counting language, the idea is to scan it more like a photocopier which simply makes a duplicate image without interacting with the components of the image.

Another aspect of the program involves adding a unique identifier to each image. This will not compromise the anonymity of the voter but it will allow for discrepancies to be traced back to the original ballot. This idea is one part watermarking and one part product recall plan. No change is made to the original paper ballot of record, but as its image is taken, it will be identified on the CD along the lines of "lot 2, ballot 12."

Crnich said she intends to be in Sacramento on August 9 to testify in favor of Vote-PAD's certification. All citizens are able to add public comment live on that date or by writing to the Secretary of State's office up until about a week past then. Crnich also said she intends to seek meetings with Bowen and others regarding the HTP while in the state capital.

* * *

Proposed Test Plan for Vote-PAD Use In Conjunction with the Diebold AccuVote-OS (Optical Scan) System and the Hart Ballot Now Voting Systems

Goal: To appraise the usability, reliability, privacy and accuracy of the Vote-PAD system when used in accordance with the proposed use procedures for each respective system.

Test Overview: Testing will take place at the Secretary of State’s Office in Sacramento. The accessibility advocacy community will be solicited for voters with disabilities representing a range of disability modalities. Test voters will be scheduled to arrive at varying times throughout the test. Every test voter will be asked to participate in Phase 1 of the test, which will measure the ability of the “voters” to accurately mark their ballots with their vote choices. Voters with visual impairments will also be asked to participate in Phase 2 of the test to gauge the ability to accurately verify a ballot and determine how it was voted.

Test Participants: As mentioned above, local accessibility advocacy organizations, such as Protection and Advocacy, Inc., the California Foundation for Independent Living Centers and The California Council of the Blind, will be contacted and solicited for test participants. A day (or days) will be selected for the testing to take place based on room and staff availability and availability of a sufficient number of participants. Applicant counties are encouraged to contact their local accessibility advocacy community to recruit participants for the test as well.

Test Protocol: Each of the county applicants will select their longest ballot style from the June 2006 Primary Election. Each will prepare five (5) Vote-PAD, five (5) audio instruction cassettes, five (5) verification wands, two (2) Braille booklets and one (1) large-font instruction book based on that ballot style.

Each county staff will also supply two persons to serve as “poll workers” throughout the test. These “poll workers” will be responsible for setting up the voting experience for each test participant in accordance with the proposed use procedures for that respective system. This ‘set up’ will include preparing the ballot in the Vote-PAD booklet for voting, supplying the voter with appropriate equipment for using the Vote-PAD (e.g., audio cassette & headphones, verification wand, non-slip pads, write-in ballots, etc), and providing basic instruction for the voter to get started.

Each voter will be directly monitored by Secretary of State Staff or Secretary of State consultant. These “monitors” will monitor and evaluate the entire experience for each voter, beginning with check-in and initial instruction, through actual Phase 1 and Phase 2 testing. At the conclusion of each participant’s testing, these monitors will conduct a brief survey of the participating voter, focusing on usability and satisfaction with the system.

All ballots will be sequentially numbered for tracking and comparing accuracy of ballot marking and scanning as compared with voter intent.

Participant test voters will be randomly assigned to either the Diebold blended system or the Hart blended system for testing purposes.

During Phase 1, the voter will be asked to vote a ballot. As the voter records his or her vote choice for each contest, the voter will be asked to state aloud for the monitor the vote choice that voter believes he or she is marking on the ballot. The monitor will record the vote choices as stated by the participant voter. At times, the monitor will randomly direct the voter to:
Skip a contest and then later return to the contest to record the vote; and/or
Vote a specific write-in candidate for a particular contest.

At the conclusion of Phase 1, each test participant with visual impairments will be asked to participate in Phase 2 of the test.

During Phase 2, the participant will be provided a pre-marked ballot and asked to determine (“verify”) the vote choices on that ballot. For each contest, the participant will be asked to state aloud the vote choice(s) he or she believes was voted for that contest. The monitor will record those votes as ‘verified’ by the participant for later comparison against the actual ballot.

Voted ballots in this phase will include contests that are over-voted or under-voted. They will also include contests with write-ins recorded on the write-in sheet.

At the conclusion of each test voting experience, the participant will be briefly surveyed by the monitor. That survey will focus on the participant’s demographics, experience with accessible voting systems and perceptions of the test experience. In addition to the vote choices or “verifications,” the monitor will also record the time involved for voter instruction and training, time taken to vote the ballot, time taken to verify the ballot, and any difficulties observed in the voting process.

At the conclusion of all test voting, all ballots voted in Phase 1 will be tabulated by the respective voting system in accordance with proposed use procedures for that blended system. This tabulation will be done at the direction of the Secretary of State Staff. Totals will be generated and the reports compared to the sum of the vote choices recorded by the monitors.

All testing will be recorded by videotape. All recordings will remain the property of the Secretary of State. All recordings will be made publicly available upon release of the Secretary of State’s Staff Report from system testing.

Evaluation of the Systems: In terms of accuracy for the system to capture and record the voter’s intent, the blended systems will be deemed an automatic pass if the error rate in Phase 1 voting (actual votes read and tabulated compared to stated vote choices) and in Phase 2 verification (stated ‘verifications’ compared to actual ballot) are below the threshold error rates in the 2002 Voting System Standards.

Each blended system will also be subjectively evaluated for usability, reliability and privacy in accordance with the proposed use procedures for that system, based on direct observation by Secretary of State Staff and/or the State’s Consultants and upon survey feedback by test participants.

Additional Conditions

No interference: Once preliminary voter instruction is completed, the applicant staff, including “poll workers”, may not interact with any test participants unless authorized by the Secretary of State monitor.

Observers:The Secretary of State may designate up to three official observers of the test. Each applicant may have up to three designated observers of the test. Additional observers will be allowed upon the mutual agreement of the Secretary of State and allapplicants. All observers will be physically restricted to the designated observer area and may not interfere with the test in any manner.

Confidentiality:All test participants and observers will be required to execute a confidentiality agreement, prohibiting discussion of the test in any manner until the Secretary of State has publicly released its report from the test.

Responsibilities:

The Applicants for each system will be jointly responsible for supplying:
400 blank ballots (each applicant) of the single largest ballot style from the June 2006 Primary Election for that county;

Five Vote-PAD booklets prepared for the above ballots with five matching audio instruction sets (cassette tape or CD, depending on the audio device proposed for the system), two Braille ballot instruction booklets and one large-print instruction book based on that ballot style. Each is to be prepared in accordance with the Vote-PAD vendor instructions and the proposed system use procedures;

Five verification wands (each applicant) of the model proposed in the application;
Sufficient accessories and supplies, such as audio playback devices, ballot marking pens, non-skid pads, etc. to outfit five voters voting simultaneously. For all such devices, the equipment supplied must meet the specifications identified in the application. Where specifications are not identified for a device (such as the audio playback device), it will be assumed that the actual product and model supplied for testing will be the actual product that will be used at the polls, and certification will be based on that specific product;

Predefined election databases for each system, configured to read and tally the above ballots for each system;

All necessary hardware and software, including servers, scanners, printers and memory devices to tabulate and report vote results from the test election;
Five camcorders with tripods and sufficient videotape to capture and document all testing activity;

At least two persons from each applicant county who are trained in the proposed use procedures for that blended system to serve as “poll workers” throughout the test; and

Necessary staff to setup and operate all voting system equipment.

Additionally, the applicants will be jointly responsible for all costs directly associated with the test, including:

The cost for services of the technical consultants hired by the Secretary of State to conduct the test and review all application materials, as well as their associated travel expenses;

The cost to provide security for the event; and

The cost to supply all necessary supplies and materials to conduct the test.

The Secretary of State will be responsible for:

Securing the location of the testing;

Arranging security at the event, including identification badges for all participants;

Providing and training all test monitors;

Developing voting ‘scripts’ for Phase 1 of the test and pre-marking ballots for Phase 2 of the test; and

Developing necessary forms and procedures for documenting the testing experience of each voter, and the post-election survey of participants.

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Thursday, July 13, 2006

Humboldt Holds Special Meeting of Election Advisory Committee

Humboldt Registrar of Voters Carolyn Crnich convened a special meeting of the citizens' Election Advisory Committee (EAC) Thursday night, advising us that CA Secretary of State Bruce McPherson is squeezing her for a three-option plan to comply with the Help America Vote Act (HAVA), due on his desk by Monday. Compliance with HAVA is primarily about making voting methods available for disabled people to cast their ballots privately and independently. The problem is McPherson seems intent on forcing the least best systems upon us.

In March, Diana Smith came to Humboldt County on behalf of Vote-PAD, a non-electronic ballot marking device. Smith made a presentation at a regular meeting of the EAC (first Thursday of each month, conference room A at the County Courthouse). As I wrote in the GuvWurld Blog at the time, the demo was well received. Initially Crnich was prepared to purchase a full complement of Vote-PAD kits for a weighty $200k, though this was later downgraded to a pilot project costing just $3730. In May McPherson put the kibosh on the deal by forcing Vote-PAD to submit to the formal certification process. Next week, on July 19 and 20, disabled voters are invited to participate in a test of Vote-PAD in Sacramento. For details see the press release.

So Crnich was already committed to the best means of HAVA compliance and now she has to submit a plan where her top choice is in limbo, at best. Crnich expressed concern Thursday night that the person in charge of reviewing voting systems in consideration for certification, Bruce McDonnald, is "way negative on Vote-PAD."

With clear consensus from the EAC, Crnich intends to keep Vote-PAD as the top preference when submitting her plan on Monday. The group discussed options for the backup slots though nothing really stirred a lot of enthusiasm. AutoMark, an electronic ballot marking device that stores no information, was generally unobjectionable to the EAC and will likely be Plan B.

However, while some CA counties do have a hybrid AutoMark/Diebold system, AutoMark can only be purchased from Diebold competitor ES&S. There is no guarantee ES&S will be able to accommodate Humboldt's full needs or even the few machines necessary to claim minimal HAVA compliance. Further, Crnich shared anecdotal evidence from San Luis Obispo where just 11 voters out of 152,000
used the AutoMark in June's primary, and two of the eleven ballots failed to print the back side.

It is unclear if Crnich will include a Plan C. Diebold's TSx was discussed but there was uniform resistance to giving it any real consideration. I reminded Crnich how eager I was to give her credit when she previously reported to the Board of Supervisors (.pdf) that she would rather be non-compliant with HAVA than buy touch screen machines from Diebold. I also asked if it was true she had signed an affidavit saying she wouldn't use the DREs in order to be dismissed from the VoterAction.org lawsuit. She affirmed but suggested loose wording didn't really make that a dead end. Fortunately it doesn't seem like anybody involved wants to take that path anyway.

Being required to submit three possibilities but finding a lack of viable options is the latest in a series of situations where Crnich has found herself in an untenable position. In the spirit of past exchanges, but using new words, I asked how far she will be pushed before pushing back?

Supervisor Jimmy Smith attended part of the meeting and was present at this point. I reminded him of our previous discussion on unfunded mandates, where he had brought up the point in frustration. Then I said that compelling our choice of voting systems takes the idea of unfunded mandates to a new level that transcends money. I believe people really do understand the point I'm making but prefer a conservative response. Smith said flat out that he would expect punishment for non-compliance. In particular, as a hypothetical example of why I might think twice about being so aggressive, Crnich put forth a scenario where funds for the airport might be denied as retribution.

That certainly is a threat. But I didn't need a hypothetical to see what is at stake. I'm starting to realize that the difference between the view that drives me to proactively resist, and the cautious outlook that inspires the more conservative reactions, is about whether we have anything left to lose.

An argument could be made that the airport is real and so hypothetically losing funds could just as easily be real. But to me this is a red herring because whether we get the funds or not we still have much bigger issues that won't be affected either way, such as the lost presumption of innocence, illegal spying, free speech zones, and all the other things to which we say WE DO NOT CONSENT.

This is the same rationale for considering election reform NOT as the end goal but instead as a tactic toward peaceful revolution. It really makes me wonder, if here and now is not the time and place to push back, then where and when? I have written about drawing a line in the sand on many occasions. Even people not yet ready to draw their line must know where it belongs. Otherwise it is a formula that enables unlimited abuse. And when this occurs unwittingly as the result of what appears to be the best efforts of local leaders, well I can't help but recall the Manchurian Nation.

At this point, Crnich is getting the benefit of the doubt. If she sees her way fit to submit only two options in her plan for HAVA compliance, then that could constitute a tiny line in the sand. It is not the degree of push back I'd like to see but it is something, not nothing. She is also getting high marks these days for the Humboldt Transparency Project. I last wrote about that here. We spent the second half of Thursday's meeting discussing next steps for this project but I will have to recount that in part two of this report sometime this weekend.

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Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Moving the Ball Downfield

My June 30th OpEd in the Eureka Times-Standard now appears at OpEdNews.com and also Smirking Chimp. My other June 30th OpEd, from the Eureka Reporter, inspired this very supportive column by Joe Shermis published in Tuesday's paper.

Reflections on Independence, Volume 4 has also been picked up by OpEdNews.com. Perhaps more significantly, after reading this piece my father asked me if I had edited the version of the Declaration of Independence appended to the end of the essay. Of course it was the unadulterated original I had included and it served its intended purpose in awakening a reader to the frightening similarities between the colonists' grounds for revolting and our present situation.

Of greater consequence, BradBlog.com and VoteTrustUSA continue to feed content to corporate TV. Read about and watch this amazing segment with Catherine Crier on CourtTV. Also see this for another installment of Lou Dobbs' series "Democracy at Risk" on CNN.

BlackBoxVoting.org also reported Monday that our lawyer friend Paul Lehto is in Kentucky representing seven candidates from two political parties as they challenge election conditions there. BBV links to a few documents in this case and they are worth reading too. Lehto simply has the best mind for framing arguments on election conditions:

"The Court must recall at all times that the voting here in question involves invisible electronic ballots which have not been inspected at any time by any party hereto, even the County Clerk has not counted them. Rather, the electronic ballots have been purported to be counted in secret by trade secret counting software owned by the vendors.

There is no reason at all or basis for confidence in the electronic counting until verified by the plaintiffs not only because the Clerk himself is a defendant-candidate here, but also because it is the nature of the computer to do precisely as it is told without reference to any laws, morals or ethics."
The pursuit of a hand count continues for San Diego's 50th district Congressional seat. Again it is BradBlog.com for the latest and most comprehensive collection of stories on this subject. The fundraiser I mentioned over the weekend hit its 10k goal and I understand a lawyer has been retained. In addition, the Oregon Voter Rights Coalition and Ohio's J30 Coalition have both now chimed in with "no basis for confidence" statements.

Also making the rounds in the past few days is this transcript of a speech given last November by Oregon Secretary of State Bill Bradbury.
"We are seeing proposals that are costly and complicated to prove that an election is as accurate as we say it is. I believe we are faced with a compelling public demand to do more than we're now doing to verify election results.

We cannot ignore our constituents. It's not enough anymore to simply tell them "just trust us."

We need to revisit our compromise, and look again at the best way to validate election results. Administrative recounts of selected precincts to verify election results would not only be appreciated by the public, it would also improve elections administration by allowing us to identify and fix systemic problems in vote counting before certification of the results.

We don't believe that there are systemic problems in vote counting, but we don't have the procedures to prove it. We believe that our elections are accurate, but we need hard evidence to show the public."
There is a theme through all of these wonderful advances. The election integrity community has picked up the stakes and relocated them, shifting the boundaries of the overall debate. Many key points are no longer approached as if they are in dispute. This greatly expands our latitude in aggressively and proactively framing our message. We are moving the ball downfield.

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Tuesday, July 11, 2006

PRESS RELEASE: Disabled CA Voters Invited to Test Vote-PAD, 7/19-20

Contact:
Ellen Theisen
ellen@vote-pad.us
360-437-9922

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Vote-PAD, Inc. Invites People with Disabilities to
the California Certification Testing on July 19, 20


July 10, 2006. On July 19 and 20, the California Secretary of State’s office will examine the Vote-PAD, a non-computerized voting device, in an effort to provide counties with an innovative alternative to the controversial electronic voting systems currently certified for use in California. The device has been approved for use in Wisconsin in conjunction with hand counted paper ballots.

Vote-PAD, Inc. is a small company, formed in response to complaints from people with disabilities about the overstated accessibility of e-voting systems. The company's mission was to develop an assistive device that would remove barriers to exercising the right to vote and allow people with a wide range of disabilities to mark a paper ballot independently and privately.

From its inception, the Vote-PAD device was shaped through testing and input by people in the disabilities community. The company's website, www.vote-pad.us, includes testimonials from many who praise its accessibility. (http://www.vote-pad.us/testimonials.asp)

The Vote-PAD will be tested in conjunction with the Hart InterCivic Ballot Now system used in Yolo County, California and the Diebold AccuVote Optical Scanner used in Trinity County.

The California test plan is designed to show whether or not the Vote-PAD is accessible to people with disabilities while accurately representing the intent of the voter.

"We believe this thorough testing should become a standard for testing the accessibility of all voting systems designed for people with disabilities," Ellen Theisen, President of Vote-PAD, Inc., said.

The Counties, the State of California, and Vote-PAD, Inc. join in inviting you to be an official tester on July 19 or 20 in Sacramento if you have a disability that has made it difficult or impossible for you to vote in the past using standard voting equipment.

To schedule a time to test, call the California Elections Division at 916-657-2166 and/or email testCA@vote-pad.us. Allow about an hour to learn about the equipment and perform the scripted testing.

"A true test requires a lot of people with a wide range of disabilities," Theisen said. "Our goal is to have 200 testers over the two-day period."

The testing will be performed at the multipurpose room in the California Secretary of State's office building at 1500 11th Street in Sacramento.

Vote-PAD, Inc.'s invitation to testers is here: http://www.vote-pad.us/Media/Tester-Invitation.asp.

Their request for assistance in notifying potential testers is here: http://www.vote-pad.us/Media/CA-Invitation.asp.

This media release is available at: http://www.vote-pad.us/Media/CA-Cert.htm
###



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Ohio's J30 Coalition Adopts Resolution of No Confidence in US Elections

Resolution of No Confidence
in Current U.S. Elections
by J30 Coalition

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

Whereas, current electronic voting technologies have been shown to be unreliable, insecure and unverifiable; and

Whereas, electronic voting technologies which do not include a permanent paper ballot of record provide no means to verify results reported by elections officials, through recounts or other legal means; and

Whereas, citizens are denied oversight of the software used in electronic voting and counting machines; and

Whereas, the use of proprietary (secret) software in our elections amounts to a secret vote count; and

Whereas, publicly-funded testing and certification of software and hardware of electronic voting systems is shrouded from public oversight; and

Whereas, current election procedures violate "chain of custody" laws thru the use of removable and/or remotely accessible memory cards, which now constitute the official ballot box; and,

Therefore, Be It Resolved that there is no basis for confidence in any election held under these conditions; and

Therefore, Be It Further Resolved that J30 demands the media not to report results it does not independently verify; and

Therefore, Be It Further Resolved that J30 joins the California Election Protection Network in demanding a hand count of the June 6, 2006 San Diego County, California election.

Resolved this 4th day of July, 2006 by
J30 Coalition
(a 65-member group of voter advocates based in Columbus, Ohio)

The mission of J30 Election Coalition is to implement fair, honest and transparent elections by raising public and political awareness, by organizing and empowering activists, by pursuing and/or supporting legal actions as appropriate, and by cooperating with and supporting other voting rights activists with which we agree, as a unified body, and for which we can provide human and other resources.


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Sunday, July 09, 2006

Oregon Voter Rights Coalition Joins No Confidence Movement

The Oregon Voter Rights Coalition, the organization which last fall presented the National Summit To Save Our Elections, has today issued a statement of support for Californians rejecting the validity of the Bilbray/Busby race for the CA-50 seat. The entire statement is here, and the most powerful part, the last two paragraphs, are below:

Voters have no basis for confidence in this or any election conducted under insecure and unverified conditions. Citizens have the right to KNOW election results are accurate. Voters cannot be asked to "just trust" the results in an insecure and unverified election. The results of an election are not important because of who wins and who loses, but because the results should accurately reflect the will of the people.

To settle for anything less is oppositional to the spirit and the substance of democracy.

The Oregon Voter Rights Coalition
I should also mention that there is a fundraising effort at VelvetRevolution.us underway until tomorrow. The goal is to raise $10,000 to retain a lawyer to further pursue the hand count in San Diego.

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Thursday, July 06, 2006

Reflections on Independence, Volume 4

This is the fourth entry in my annual series of Reflections on Independence. This year is really more of a progress report than a philosophical grok on the meaning of Independence. Where are we in our struggle to take back our government, indeed our form of government? In the first in this series, four years ago, I made my first open call for peaceful revolution on grounds that the Declaration of Independence anticipates periodic revolutions and recognizes our current circumstances as appropriate cause. At the time, I didn't know anybody else taking that forward a position, and didn't even find myself so emboldened on a regular basis.

By spring 2005 I was frequently asking, what will it take to make the phrase "peaceful revolution" socially acceptable? In some quarters perhaps it never will be. But I've now used it enough to know that there really is not anyplace where I would avoid using it (except perhaps the airport, but I won't go there, literally). When described as a shift in the balance of power between the government and We The People, peaceful revolution can be disarmed of its scary connotations and presented instead as concrete steps that all citizens can recognize as warranted.

I addressed this more thoroughly in Blueprint For Peaceful Revolution (.pdf), a paper I circulated last September and then included as the final chapter in my book, We Do Not Consent (.pdf). This family of ideas has also been validated in the form of the Voter Confidence Resolution, adopted by the City council of Arcata, CA (.pdf) on July 20, 2005; the Voters' Resolution of No Confidence (.pdf) endorsed just this past month by the California Election Protection Network; my rousing speech to the Humboldt County chapter of the NAACP on MLK Day 2006; the Humboldt Revolution community forum I helped plan and present in February; prepared remarks I gave (QuickTime video, four minutes) at the Voter Confidence Committee press conference during last month's Primary "election"; and perhaps most importantly, the many everyday interactions I have with people eager to tell me of some Diebold disgrace or other that they had just learned about.

These are just my highlights, and only from the past year. Though it can sometimes be difficult to perceive the progress, to me this is clear evidence of how far we've come. With the LA Times as the latest to question whether Mr. Bush has committed war crimes, it can no longer be portrayed as a desperate stretch to connect the Declaration's Abuses and Usurpations with the conduct of this administration. There is a rapidly growing awareness and shifting consciousness about the attacks on our Freedoms and the loss of our unalienable rights.

Several people have asked me, over the past year or so, why I focus so much on the Declaration of Independence rather than the U.S. Constitution. At this time there is nothing legally binding about the Declaration while the Constitution is the law of the land. Herein lies the crux of this year's Reflection on Independence. When those who create and enforce laws do not themselves follow those laws, their behavior goes beyond lawlessness and actually voids the basic compact of civilized society. We can no more feel guaranteed of universal health care or a balanced budget than we can be assured the Constitution will protect and preserve our rights or hold accountable those attempting to be above the law. Without a win-win option, the strategy becomes No Deal!

With the elimination of the basic ground rules defining the relationship between the government and the Governed, pretensions of normalcy evaporate - all bets are off. To go on pretending that this relationship is proper is to enable the abusive spouse who hits us. Our response must be: WE DO NOT CONSENT. This is more than just a great meme. This phrase must reflect our actions. We must stop consenting to being treated this way. We must withdraw our complicity from the means of doing us harm. A few weeks ago I posted some examples of what this might look like. Much more discussion is needed in this area.

The Declaration and Constitution are both models, ideals we should strive to uphold. The big strategic advantage of the Declaration is that it allows We The People to wield the power and call the shots. While we idealistically cling to the Constitution, Mr. Bush attaches signing statements to new laws, as if crossing his fingers to void a deal on which he is simultaneously shaking hands. We will continue to be as powerless as this as long as we accept our voided deal, our broken social compact, as if it were intact and functioning properly. Certainly in the world, and I believe also here in this country, we are the vast majority now who see this dichotomy.

What we need is a new Declaration of Independence, in simple modern language, that says the Power belongs to the People and when the government takes more of this Power than We are prepared to give to the government, that government no longer serves us and will be altered or abolished according to one of our nation's most revered historical documents, the Declaration of Independence.

In the spirit of this Reflection series, I have again pasted the Declaration of Independence below and encourage you to read or hopefully re-read it, giving careful attention to the similarities between the original list of Abuses and Usurpations and those we endure today. Peaceful revolution is necessary, NOW!

http://www.law.ou.edu/ushistory/decind.shtml

Declaration of Independence

July 4, 1776

The Unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united* States of America.

When, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the Political Bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the Powers of the Earth, the separate and equal Station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent Respect to the Opinions of Mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the Separation.

We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness -- That to secure these Rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the Consent of the Governed, that whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive to these Ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its Foundation on such Principles and organizing its Powers in such Form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient Causes; and accordingly all Experience hath shown that Mankind are more disposed to suffer, while Evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the Forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long Train of Abuses and Usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object, evinces a Design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their Right, it is their Duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future Security. Such has been the patient Sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the Necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The History of the present King of Great- Britain is a History of repeated Injuries and Usurpations, all having in direct Object the Establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid World.

HE has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public Good.

HE has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing Importance, unless suspended in their Operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

HE has refused to pass other Laws for the Accommodation of large Districts of People, unless those People would relinquish the Right of Representation in the Legislature, a Right inestimable to them and formidable to Tyrants only.

HE has called together Legislative Bodies at Places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the Depository of their public Records, for the sole Purpose of fatiguing them into Compliance with his Measures.

HE has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly Firmness his Invasions on the Rights of the People.

HE has refused for a long Time, after such Dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the meantime exposed to all the Dangers of Invasion from without, and the Convulsions within.

HE has endeavored to prevent the Population of these States; for that Purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their Migration hither, and raising the Conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

HE has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.

HE has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the Tenure of their Offices, and the Amount and Payment of their Salaries.

HE has erected a Multitude of new Offices, and sent hither Swarms of Officers to harass our People, and eat out their Substance.

HE has kept among us, in Times of Peace, Standing Armies without the consent of our Legislature.

HE has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to Civil Power.

HE has combined with others to subject us to a Jurisdiction foreign to our Constitution, and unacknowledged by our Laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

FOR quartering large Bodies of Armed Troops among us:

FOR protecting them, by mock Trial, from Punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

FOR cutting off our Trade with all Parts of the World:

FOR imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

FOR depriving us in many Cases, of the Benefits of Trial by Jury:

FOR transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended Offences:

FOR abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighboring Province, establishing therein an arbitrary Government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an Example and fit Instrument for introducing the same absolute Rule into these Colonies:

FOR taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

FOR suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with Power to legislate for us in all Cases whatsoever.

HE has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

HE has plundered our Seas, ravaged our Coasts, burned our Towns, and destroyed the Lives of our People.

HE is, at this Time, transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the Works of Death, Desolation, and Tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty and Perfidy, scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous Ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized Nation.

HE has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the Executioners of their Friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

HE has excited domestic Insurrections amongst us, and has endeavored to bring on the Inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known Rule of Warfare, is undistinguished Destruction of all Ages, Sexes and Conditions.

IN every stage of these Oppressions we have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble Terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated Injury. A Prince, whose Character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the Ruler of a free People.

NOR have we been wanting in Attentions to our British Brethren. We have warned them from Time to Time of attempts by their Legislature to extend an unwarrantable Jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the Circumstances of our Emigration and Settlement here. We have appealed to their native Justice and Magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the Ties of our common Kindred to disavow these Usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our Connections and Correspondence. They too have been deaf to the Voice of Justice and Consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the Necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of Mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace, Friends.

WE, therefore, the Representatives of the UNITED STATES of AMERICA, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the World for the Rectitude of our Intentions, do, in the Name, and by the Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly Publish and Declare, that these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be, FREE AND INDEPENDENT STATES; that they are absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political Connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as FREE AND INDEPENDENT STATES, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which INDEPENDENT STATES may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm Reliance on the Protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.

* New Hampshire: Josiah Bartlett, William Whipple, Matthew Thornton
* Massachusetts: John Hancock, Samual Adams, John Adams, Robert Treat Paine, Elbridge Gerry
* Rhode Island: Stephen Hopkins, William Ellery
* Connecticut: Roger Sherman, Samuel Huntington, William Williams, Oliver Wolcott
* New York: William Floyd, Philip Livingston, Francis Lewis, Lewis Morris
* New Jersey: Richard Stockton, John Witherspoon, Francis Hopkinson, John Hart, Abraham Clark
* Pennsylvania: Robert Morris, Benjamin Rush, Benjamin Franklin, John Morton, George Clymer, James Smith, George Taylor, James Wilson, George Ross
* Delaware: Caesar Rodney, George Read, Thomas McKean
* Maryland: Samuel Chase, William Paca, Thomas Stone, Charles Carroll of Carrollton
* Virginia: George Wythe, Richard Henry Lee, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Harrison, Thomas Nelson, Jr., Francis Lightfoot Lee, Carter Braxton
* North Carolina: William Hooper, Joseph Hewes, John Penn
* South Carolina: Edward Rutledge, Thomas Heyward, Jr., Thomas Lynch, Jr., Arthur Middleton
* Georgia: Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall, George Walton.

Note

* Although this capitalization of "united" differs from the images of copies of the Declaration of Independence viewable at the Library of Congress's Web site (*http://www.loc.gov/), it follows the capitalization found on the images of the Declaration of Independence held by the National Archives and Records Administration (*http://www.nara.gov).

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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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"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."

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"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


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