Thursday, December 18, 2008

Humboldt Envy?

Last week I posted a letter to the editor I had published in the Eureka Times-Standard (archive). It was written quickly on the morning of December 5, in the midst of the breaking news that the Humboldt County Election Transparency Project had revealed a failure in Diebold's GEMS central tabulator causing the County's certified election results from November to be proven inaccurate.

I sent the same letter to the North Coast Journal since there was also a breaking story on their website about it, even though it hadn't yet appeared in their weekly print edition. When that came out last Wednesday, I wasn't too surprised the letter wasn't published or that editor Hank Sims had editorialized about the story. So I used his column as the basis for yet another letter, which the Journal has published in this week's paper:

North Coast Journal
Mail Box
12/18/08

Dear Editor:

Hank Sims now says Humboldt's official method of counting votes is an outrage ("Town Dandy," Dec. 11) and the Diebold/Premier folks "should be shunned. Maybe indicted." He may be late to the party, but the top hat and tails are always welcome.

Yes, Humboldt has joined Florida, Ohio, and towns and counties across the land who have experienced the failures of electronic voting. Our certification of inaccurate results has made national news and broken down some of the local wall of denial.

A December 7 editorial in The Times-Standard said local opponents of Diebold "were right to make noise, and right to complain about a company that has been less than responsible." Humboldt Registrar of Voters Carolyn Crnich told Wired.com in a Dec. 8 article, "this has sort of put a cloud over any confidence that I had in the Premier equipment that's been in this department since 1995."

Has Humboldt finally reached a tipping point? Are we ready to consider alternatives to Diebold? If so, a careful evaluation of the possibilities and input from a well informed community would be both appropriate and desirable.

I'd like to see more consistency in Sims' election integrity advocacy. And bottom line, I hope he'll push for a thorough examination of our options. A lot of work has already been done to facilitate evaluating hand-counting paper ballots, though Election Transparency Project volunteers may have other preferences and ideas to contribute to what could become the most envied process and dialog in the country.

Dave Berman, Eureka
# # #
It is tough to be timely in a weekly paper when commenting on a fluid situation. See my exclusive report from Wednesday morning about Humboldt County Registrar of Voters Carolyn Crnich announcing her intention to dump Diebold scanners in favor of similar secret corporate vote "counting" machines from Hart InterCivic. It is a major advance of the narrative above and has been republished at OpEdNews and Scoop.

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