Thursday, January 10, 2008

Election Integrity Movement In High Gear

Well despite what I wrote last night about wanting to catch up on the latest news from the NH primary, I have still only read a fraction of what is being said and done in the living, breathing, thriving citizen movement for election integrity that is presently busting at the seams. I've got stories of my own from tonight so I'm going to tell you only that BradBlog is now reporting that Dennis Kucinich is calling for a "recount" in NH (actually a first count), and ask you to hang on if you're looking for more links about NH because I've got plenty of them at the end of this post.

For my part, I was on the KHUM Review this evening, an hour long public affairs show hosted by Arcata Eye editor Kevin Hoover. He paid me an outrageous compliment that will appear in the sidebar of WDNC as soon as the .mp3 is available to confirm the wording. As best I can recall, he said I was the conscience of Humboldt elections. The archive will be available for download on this page sometime soon.

I think I nearly fainted when he said that because I totally missed the question that followed. It turns out he was asking if I had any dirt about Iowa or New Hampshire. I said that people were looking into major discrepancies in NH related to Obama winning in hand-count towns and Clinton winning in Diebold secret count towns. Neither Hoover, nor any of the other guests seated for this round table discussion had heard anything about this.

The other guests were: Sharolyn Hutton, President of the League of Women Voters of Humboldt County; Melanie Johnson in charge of Citizen Education also for the League; and Judi Hedgpeth, Executive Director of the Humboldt Literacy Project. These two groups are teaming up to present Voter Information Day this Saturday from 11am - 3pm at the Eureka library. They'll have free cookies.

Together we were all on the air through two segments. In the second one I got to talk about hand-counting and the Voter Confidence Committee's campaign to gather names of voters willing to hand-count. We didn't have much cross-talk then, but after the show, I spoke with the women from the League and gave them some VCC materials. They seemed genuinely interested and we talked about including me in a future panel discussion. Perhaps I'll visit them Saturday.

I can't really think of other highlights of the show right now, partly because I talked to many other people tonight after the show aired, and partly because I haven't heard the .mp3 yet. There was also a segment of the show that was pre-recorded with Registrar of Voters Carolyn Crnich. Unfortunately I was not able to hear this at all because our broadcast ensemble was in the CA Welcome Center in Arcata with lots of people buzzing around. In the parking lot, a huge tent was set up for a big community party celebrating the beginning of Arcata's year-long series of 150th anniversary events.

Among the people with whom I was rubbing elbows, I was approached by Rick Levin, owner of Renaissance Computing in Arcata. He said he liked the My Word column I had in last Thursday's Eureka Times-Standard (archive). Levin mentioned that he would really like to see Humboldt go to hand-counting. Well, I just happened to have a sign up form half-way filled up with names collected last night at the Humboldt Democratic Central Committee. Levin signed it, then grabbed two other people and what do you know? I said Rick, would you like to have one of these sign up forms to get more people involved? Drop them off at my store, he said, and I'll put it up for people to see. Nice.

I had another memorable conversation with former Arcata Mayor Bob Ornelas. I talked to him for a long time, first because I wanted to verify the rumor he would run for John Woolley's seat on the Board of Supervisors. Ornelas is not yet committed, but thinking about it. He was helpful when I was first starting out with the GuvWurld blog and the earliest versions of the Voter Confidence Resolution. He is a real progressive and he doesn't hold back. He signed up to count. I hope he runs.

I was also glad to chat with Hoover off the air. I asked him if he would do an article that deals with the numbers and logistics of the VCC proposal for hand-counting. He said to drop him a quick e-mail and we'll connect about this soon. Consider that done.

Now I have this struggle to balance not just the election integrity work with the rest of my life, but more specifically, blogging the local activities I'm part of and the national movement I'm equally entrenched in. Last night's post at WDNC was main headlined today at OpEdNews.com. That also happened to my commentary on the NYTimes epic from last Sunday's magazine. By the way, I submitted the following as a letter to the editor in response to that piece:

Dear New York Times:

The Declaration of Independence says the "just Power" of government derives from the Consent of the Governed. Electronic voting machines operate in secret, requiring blind trust to accept unverifiable results. The Consent of the Governed is not really sought, it is assumed and taken for granted. There is no rational basis for confidence in reported election results. It is time to say "we do not consent" to secret vote counting machines. Let us hand-count paper ballots at the poll sites on election night for transparency, security, and verifiably accuracy - and a basis for confidence in the reported results.

Dave Berman
I've never been published in the Times, and really don't expect to be. Fortunately, there's lots more happening at OpEdNews.com. Rady Ananda's piece about inherent uncertainty is really blowing me away. I think this is because she and I have worked together for quite a while and I always thought she fully got the inherent uncertainty concept. I don't doubt that, and yet she's now writing to reinforce it as if it was washing over her anew. Look at the comments following her article. This is powerful. Also, this is how she quoted me:
Dave Berman describes this idea in two ways:
[W]e have the intentional creation and perpetuation of inherent uncertainty. It serves the power structure to keep the masses divided. Wedge issues are just the most superficial and obvious ways. More insidious and apparently not as easy to recognize is the rift in the perception of reality created by inherent uncertainty.
He explains further, in tonight's email to me:
I think inherent uncertainty is intentionally created through various means including sheer laziness and false balance, but also in situations where "truth" can never really be known - secret vote counting, for example. Whatever is published is presented as if it were a certain fact...

Leaving it to the media consumer to decide also facilitates a rift in the perception of reality. This is the linchpin of it all, since matters of fact are forcibly devolved into differences of opinion that can never be resolved (since we can never know the true outcome of any election counted in secret).
Ananda has also teamed up with OpEdNews executive editor and publisher, Rob Kall, and the site's voting integrity editor, Joan Brunwasser, to put together this extraordinary collection of articles about the NH primary (also see BradBlog's index of stories). In addition to the writer's campaign started to generate such intense focus, the collaborative effort also points to organizing efforts on behalf of hand-counting:
The only way we will have a reliable vote count is if we count the ballots ourselves. EDA [Election Defense Alliance] is taking the Humboldt County Voter Confidence Committee's idea and organizing a national list of willing hand counters. See the "I COUNT" article by Andi Novick and Sally Castleman to sign up.
Well isn't that lovely compliment too. Over at the EDA site tonight I found a few other links to share:That's all I can say for now. Must sleep...zzz...

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As shown on
Dave's new blog,
Manifest Positivity

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