Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Surging Support For Hand-Counting Paper Ballots in Humboldt

First, let's be clear that there has never been more support than there is right now for hand-counting paper ballots (HCPB) in Humboldt County. The Voter Confidence Committee (VCC) has led the charge, with recent support coming from the Redwood ACLU, Democratic Central Committee and Veterans For Peace Chapter 56.

I'll be joined by members from each of these groups in a Thursday afternoon meeting with Registrar of Voters Carolyn Crnich. This isn't about lobbying her that day. We are seeking information that will further our ability to create tangible forecasting of time, cost and labor needed to conduct a fully hand-counted election here.

This emerging coalition will also have an opportunity to display solidarity at this Saurday's Peace March in Eureka. The VCC will be tabling at the Gazebo in Old Town, and we will have several to many people roaming the crowd in pursuit of sign-ups for our list of willing hand-counters (the VCC site also allows sign-ups).

An e-mail newsletter circulated yesterday by the VCC asked volunteers to print this page and bring it on a clipboard on Saturday to help us gather more names. In almost an afterthought, the VCC also issued this press release yesterday documenting some of the problems we observed during the February Primary. Bob Olofson took point on this one and he will be interviewed on KMUD radio later in the week.

Following the Peace March, it is conceivable we will have a sufficient number of volunteers willing to hand-count. Even at only 50% or more, the surging support suggests next week will begin another new phase of the Humboldt Hand-Count Campaign where we will begin presenting information to the County Supervisors during public comment. We will also target outreach to the current candidates for Supervisor seats up for election in June.

As if all this momentum isn't exciting enough, I have also been booked to speak to the Humboldt County Republican Central Committee on Thursday night. Read about my first date with the Republicans, speaking to them right after Hurricane Katrina. As with the Registrar, I don't perceive this so much about winning them over to supporting HCPB, and will instead focus on sharing information and building a bridge.

A few slight disappointments warrant mention here as well. The press release and position statement supporting HCPB previously posted at the Redwood ACLU blog has apparently gone missing from their site. Fortunately it has been archived here at WDNC (plus here).

The HCPB resolution adopted by the Democratic Central Committee can be found here on their site. Oddly, on March 1, the Eureka Times-Standard ran a brief mention of this in their recurring feature "Election Roundup," found on page A2 of that day's paper, but absent from the T-S website. I submitted an inquiry to editor Rich Sommerville and web editor James Faulk but received no response.

Then there is the Vets For Peace resolution which was sent to the media with a press release that the Eureka Reporter printed almost verbatim, applying edits only to make factual statements into matters of opinion. To wit:

Last summer, Berman said, California Secretary of State Debra Bowen conducted a top-to-bottom teview [sic] of voting systems used throughout the state. He said her security experts were able to compromise every system tested, including Humboldt County's Diebold optical scanners.

Berman said the same equipment was used to count approximately 80 percent of the votes in the New Hampshire primary in January.

"The other 20 percent of New Hampshire's ballots were hand-counted," the news release stated. "According to a report by the We The People Foundation, a statewide recount found the error rate was significantly higher where the scanners did the initial count, and that the scanners' error rate exceeded the limit allowed by federal law."
The "article" gave the VFP and VCC websites but omitted the link that was provided for the We The People Foundation study of the NH primary. I'll mention that too when I write a letter to the editor about this. If you get that we have to confront the challenge of inherent uncertainty, I encourage you to submit your own letter to editor@eurekareporter.com. You can point to Bowen's study here and NH precinct info in the tables found here, "Berman said."

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Posted by Dave Berman - 9:59 PM | Permalink
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Posted by Blogger Redwood ACLU @ Mar 12, 2008, 8:44:00 PM
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Thank you for posting this update.

Posted by Blogger Dave Berman @ Mar 12, 2008, 11:35:00 PM
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