Wednesday, September 26, 2007
re: "Washington Sees an Opportunity on Iran"
In "Washington Sees an Opportunity on Iran" (9/27/07), probable responses were contemplated in Iraq, Israel and "governments from Lebanon to Pakistan." Notwithstanding the propagandistic representation of "opportunity," have you forgotten to consider the response from the American public? Do you not sense a tipping point nearing? Naomi Wolf has it right with the title of her new book: The End of America. Way to go, New York Times, cheerleading til the end.
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I'm reading Wolf's book now and recommend it. I'll have lots more to say when I've finished reading it.
Thursday, September 20, 2007
Humboldt County Registrar of Voters Carolyn Crnich convened the monthly meeting of the citizens' Election Advisory Committee Tuesday night at the County Courthouse. First on the agenda was the Election Department's two personnel vacancies. The application period closed Friday for both the Election Specialist, a front office position, and the Election Manager, the central scrutinizer of the department. The Registrar said there are four applicants for the first job and she did not know about the second. The County's Personnel Department will screen the candidates and can refer up to six per position for further consideration. I won't make public the name but there is a high profile candidate we will be lucky to get. Stay tuned.
Also at Tuesday's meeting, the Registrar revealed she received a "Dear John" letter in response to her application for the Pew grant money. The Registrar was hoping to use the funds to buy high-speed off-the-shelf scanners for the so-called Transparency Project (a scanned copy of every ballot would become a .tif file made available to the public on CD). It now seems the Transparency Project will be on the back burner, given the hiring situation, four elections between this November and next, and evolving procedures to keep up with Secretary of State Bowen's conditions of use. Do not expect the Registrar to completely let it go.
The Registrar discussed Secretary Bowen's proposals for new post-election audit standards. The general idea is a variable sample where a close race would have more votes audited than a contest with an apparently bigger margin of victory. The Registrar said the legal requirements are flexible and she couldn't give any specific numbers that would match an audit percentage with a victory margin. When I asked, she refused to commit to seeking a qualified statistical adviser.
Reading from her Palm Pilot or Blackberry or Whatever Brand(TM) hand-held mini super computer, the Registrar quoted Secretary Bowen's remarks on a conference call reported by BradBlog. The topic was Sleepovers and the Secretary said they are not legal. Responding to questions, the Registrar said optical scanners could not be delivered on the morning of election day using Brinks trucks or the Postal service. I don't recall any serious explanation of why not. The Registrar often brings her sense of humor to these meetings. Was she for real when she said no more single or living alone people could be pollworkers? This refers to satisfying the 2-person rule, which requires the secret vote counting machines to be in the presence of no less than two election officials at any time. How far backwards is she willing to bend just to be able to send these ridiculous machines home with pollworkers prior to Election Day?
I've been traveling a lot in the past few weeks and so I haven't posted since that one night in NY just prior to my sister's wedding. The next day I phoned in as a guest on KHUM's Humboldt Review (.mp3). The Eureka Reporter correction I requested may have run in the print edition but when I checked the website in the middle of last week the article still had it wrong. To their credit, when I then e-mailed Glenn Franco Simmons about this he forwarded my message to Diane Batley who quickly informed me the text has been corrected. "We should never be required to have faith in election results."
The Voter Confidence Committee continues its community outreach on behalf of hand-counted paper ballots. The local ACLU has invited me to speak at their meeting on Thursday, the second consecutive month I've done so. Positions recently taken by the national ACLU afford the local chapter some leeway to lend support to the VCC campaign. With so much new info, the VCC is working on a new update section for the Report on Election Conditions in Humboldt County, CA. Also see revisions made to the spreadsheet tool used for estimating labor, time and cost needs for an all hand-counted election.