Sunday, December 09, 2007

Teamwork On Display

I wasn't really sure what to call this blog post but then I realized all the things I wanted to cover had to do with...well check it out.

Jane Allen, a long time contributor to the GuvWurld News Archive and occasional guest blogger here at WDNC, has landed the second letter to the editor in the Eureka Reporter in less than a week calling out Registrar of Voters Carolyn Crnich for remarks she made on the Peter B. Collins show two Fridays ago. Click here for the letter written by Ruth Hoke and George Hurlburt published Tuesday. Jane's letter follows this transcript of a relevant excerpt from the PBC show:

CC: "Frankly, having 800 people handle our live ballots is not an appealing idea to me."

PBC: "Because..."

CC: "Do you not think that opens a door to fraud, too? 800 people handing live paper ballots? I'm not saying its the wrong thing to do. I'm saying I think it is an excellent audit tool for the way we count ballots now or, or in the future on some other equipment perhaps but..."

PBC: "I would argue that in a group situation, the group would basically police itself. So you're not putting individuals in a room with ballots that they could tamper with, you're putting a group to count them"

CC: "Yes, and I don't know that group and you don't either, and, and, do you see my concern?"

* * *

Voting software more trusted than citizens?

Dear Editor,

Registrar of Voters Carolyn Crnich, during the Peter B. Collins radio show Nov. 30, said hand-counting paper ballots is an "excellent audit tool," but 800 people hand-counting "opens the door to fraud." It sounded like she believes that the same people who serve as poll workers (registered voters) aren’t honest enough to count ballots.

Of course, it is part of her job to be concerned about election fraud, but do I have this right - machines counting votes with secret software are more trustworthy than volunteers? I thought stepping up to help out during elections was called being a good citizen. Ms. Crnich apparently sees it as suspect activity.

Jane Allen
San Francisco
I think Jane shows a little more fang there than usual, though not uncalled for. I can hear Jane chuckle as she reads that last sentence. She recently brought up the expression "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore!" My crazy artist friend Dave Migliore ( had coincidentally just sent me this YouTube clip from the movie Network, a classic satire I hadn't seen. Until recently. Then what happened?

Last week I walked into a bank to pay my credit card statement. I recently learned that this is a way to pay as close to the due date as I want, and always be sure it is received on time. Very good tip that you could pass on, though likely this only works when the card and the bank branch are the same. So I walked into Bank of America to pay my BofA card and I noticed televisions dangling from the ceiling a few feet above the head of each teller. MSNBC was on the screen showing a school in Pennsylvania and that the lock-down had been lifted. I wasn't there long enough to find out anything more. I stepped up to the teller and had something along the lines of the following conversation:
DB: Hi, I'd like to pay my credit card statement.

BofA: OK, I can help you with that. How are you doing today?

DB: Well I'm not really comfortable with that television above your head.

BofA: Really? How come?

DB: Imagine at your house there were some pipes coming in, filling your house with toxic goo and causing your family to have brain cancer. You wouldn't want those pipes coming in, would you? That's what TV is doing, and what TV has already done.

BofA: (Blank stare)

DB: Ooh. Sorry. Did I just make you think?
Maybe my fang was showing there too. I think I have generally been doing a good job of playing nice and sharing. I am proud to announce that the Voter Confidence Committee has collected 206 names thus far for our hand-count volunteer drive. We now have a sign up form on our home page, which is great, but we also still desperately need a webmaster, another way we can put teamwork on display. It this theme working for anyone?

I have to also shout out to NY attorney Andi Novick. She is planning to file a legal brief this week that basically aims to keep the Department of Justice from forcing NY state into quickly buying and implementing some secret electronic vote counting system or other. Andi will be proposing that the state keep its lever machines through next November's presidential election, and hand-count at the precincts only the two federal races on the November 2008 ballot.

I got involved with this project when another GuvWurld News Archive contributor and WDNC guest blogger, Rady Ananda told me she was helping Andi and asked if I could use the hand-count cost estimator (.xls) to add some detail to the proposal. Other familiar names like Nancy Tobi of Democracy For New Hampshire, and Sally Castleman of the Election Defense Alliance (who I remember fondly from the Portland conference on election integrity), have also played key roles. I will have a lot more on this story in the coming days.


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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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