Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Humboldt Hand-Count Campaign Maintains Media Presence

Two Tuesdays ago, on the 21st, the Election Advisory Committee had its monthly meeting. The EAC now meets the third Tuesday of the month at 6:30pm at the Eureka Courthouse. The Eureka Reporter ran an article about the meeting the next day, half of which describes the presentation (.mp3) I gave about the the Voter Confidence Committee report, hand-count campaign, and spreadsheet tool (.xls).

Supervisors John Woolley and Jimmy Smith, as well as Registrar of Voters Carolyn Crnich, all attended the 5.5 minute presentation and participated in the roughly 30 minute discussion that followed. I'm pleased with the way this went. The Registrar stated that she had played with the spreadsheet tool and it is "interesting." Supervisor Woolley said he wouldn't be able to support any kind of change without doing the kind of cost and time analysis that the VCC's spreadsheet tool permits. He said he likes the approach we are taking to developing and presenting this info. We agreed Aryay Kalaki is a fine mentor for community organizing. And I politely emphasized at least three times that we are awaiting the Registrar's best estimates to create the most official labor, cost, and time forecasts.

Last Friday the Eureka Times-Standard (archive) published a column with quotes only from Secretary of State Debra Bowen in response to a study she commissioned on voter confidence. I don't put any stock in these figures showing 44% of respondents have a "great deal of confidence that their votes are being accurately counted." 52% reported "some" or "only a little" confidence. Whatever. Like usual, the un-bylined T-S story strays far and wide from the crux of the matter, which is creating a basis for voter confidence, a reason for people to believe the results.

The Eureka Reporter did not mirror the T-S coverage of Bowen's survey. Last Friday, I did receive a call from Cerena Johnson, the new elections beat writer who had written the EAC article. We spent at least 15 minutes talking about some of the fundamental paradigms of the voter confidence movement. She seemed to understand and I figured there would be an article the next day. Those quotes did not appear until today, in an article that had a gross typo of omission. This is the end of the article:

Some say this could create an opportunity to take transparency a step further, with an entirely hand-counted system.

Dave Berman, a founding member of the Voter Confidence Committee, said the committee is trying to work with the county by recommending areas for improvement.

Berman said the criteria for a sound voting system should be transparent, secure and verifiably accurate, also distinguishing casting from counting.

"We should be required to have faith in election results," [EMPHASIS ADDED] he said, adding that results should be tangible. "What we have is a secret process."

The committee is in the process of forecasting a workable format by which votes could be hand-counted, factoring in numbers of volunteers, costs and time.

Ultimately, Berman said, the committee would like to be in a position to bring the county information it doesn't have, as well as the support of the community, to advance the idea that there is "not just one way to do elections in Humboldt County."

Humboldt County will hold its next election on Nov. 6.
As soon as I saw that on the Reporter website this morning I called Editor Glenn Franco Simmons. I reached his voice mail and left a polite request for a correction to be printed. A little later Ms. Johnson called my cell phone. We spoke for maybe seven minutes or so, continuing to break down and spell out why our current vote counting methods are secretive, how this is the opposite of the basic democratic concept of checks and balances, and that faith and trust are not relevant. She assured me a correction would appear. Also look out for a tight letter to the editor from Ruth Hoke.

Now going back to last Friday once again, in the evening I went down to the Ferndale radio studios of KSLG. Plastic Jackson is the evening DJ and he had recently reached out to me wondering how he could plug in to the work of the VCC. First I sent him a public service announcement, which I mentioned last week. He then let me invite myself in for an interview which you can hear in part one and part two (both .mp3 approx. 5.5 min). I hope to return to PJ's "Happy Endings" show, 6pm to midnight, weekdays on KSLG.com.

On Monday I received a phone call from John Matthews, morning host on KSLG, but also producer of the KHUM public affairs show The Humboldt Review, hosted by Arcata Eye editor Kevin Hoover. This week's show (Thursday 6pm PT) will be about election integrity. I will be a guest via phone.

I so prefer to do interviews in the studio, however, I am currently in NY looking forward to my sister's wedding this weekend. More immediately, tomorrow morning at 10:15, my grandfather and I are going to lead a group discussion with his senior's group at the Suffolk Y Jewish Community Center in Commack. This is going to be fun.

* * *

For anyone who missed Dan Rather's expose about voting machines, it is a MUST SEE available here through BradBlog.com.

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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, 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."

— 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