Saturday, March 08, 2008

VFP-56 PRESS RELEASE: Supporting hand-count paper ballots; "No justice in secret vote counting"

PRESS RELEASE: FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contacts: Jim Sorter, (707) 826-1781; and Dave Berman (707) 845-3749

Veterans For Peace Chapter 56 Reiterates Support For Hand-Counting Paper Ballots
Peace Group Says No Justice, No Peace, and No Justice With Secret Vote Counting

(March 8, 2008) -- Veterans For Peace Chapter 56 has adopted a resolution (below) calling for Humboldt County to abandon its Diebold optical scanners in favor of hand-counting paper ballots beginning with the June 2008 primary election. VFP-56 joins the Voter Confidence Committee (VCC), Redwood ACLU, and Humboldt County Democratic Central Committee (HCDCC) in an emerging coalition that also boasts more than 250 individual community members who have signed on to indicate their willingness to hand-count paper ballots on election night once the County makes the change.

"We have a saying that goes 'No Justice, No Peace; Know Justice, Know Peace,'" said VFP-56 Secretary Jim Sorter. "There is no justice in secret vote counting."

VFP-56 support of election reform goes back as far as 2004, when the earliest versions of what became the Voter Confidence Resolution were being circulated. The Arcata City Council later adopted that resolution in July 2005.

"We are repeating and amplifying our past calls for election reform," said Sorter, "by joining with these other groups in calling for hand-counting all the paper ballots."

The VFP-56 resolution for hand-counting is nearly identical to the statement adopted by the HCDCC on February 13. VCC co-founder Dave Berman brought the resolution to both groups and hopes to see this coalition displaying solidarity at the upcoming Peace March in Eureka on March 15. (Disclosure: Berman is also an associate member of VFP-56.)

"Big public events are a great time for us to get willing hand-counters signed up," said Berman, "and to help make it sink for people, as they look around the crowd, that we have a lot of people power on our side. Why is it even acceptable to be defending secret vote counting with totally discredited machines?"

Last summer California Secretary of State Debra Bowen conducted a Top To Bottom Review of voting systems used throughout the state. Her security experts were able to compromise every system tested, including Humboldt's Diebold optical scanners.

The same equipment was used to count roughly 80% of the votes in the New Hampshire primary in January. The other 20% of New Hampshire's ballots were hand-counted. 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.

To read the VFP-56 resolution, visit www.vfp56.org.

For more information about election conditions in Humboldt County, read the free report at www.VoterConfidenceCommittee.org.

* http://www.wethepeoplefoundation.org/MISC/NH-Recount/FF-NH-Report-Feb-2008.pdf

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Resolution In Support of Hand-Counting Paper Ballots
Adopted By Veterans For Peace Chapter 56
March 6, 2008
Whereas elections in Humboldt County rely on Diebold's (now Premier) precinct-based optical scanners, and Diebold's GEMS central tabulator program to combine all precinct results; and

Whereas computer security experts have repeatedly demonstrated and documented the ability to tamper with this equipment, changing election results without leaving behind a trace of evidence; and

Whereas academic studies have repeatedly demonstrated and documented that security flaws in this equipment exist by design, and cannot be remedied with "procedural mitigations," or new security methods; and

Whereas claims of "trade secrecy" prevent citizens, the media, and even elections officials from observing the inner workings of this equipment, denying everyone the right to see their vote counted as cast; and

Whereas elections conducted under these conditions require blind trust, or faith, to accept unverifiable and inherently uncertain outcomes that provide no rational basis for confidence in the reported results; and

Whereas the County of Humboldt is free to choose not to use Diebold's equipment, and is likewise not prevented from choosing to hand-count paper ballots at poll sites on election night; and

Whereas hand-counting paper ballots provides transparency, security, and verifiable accuracy that creates a rational basis for confidence in reported results;

Therefore be it resolved, Veterans For Peace Chapter 56 hereby calls for Humboldt County to discontinue use of Diebold equipment and to introduce hand-counting of all ballots no later than the June 2008 primary election; and

Therefore be it further resolved that Veterans For Peace Chapter 56 will support educating the community about the benefits of this change, and to recruit registered voters to serve as poll workers and/or vote counters.

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"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."

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