Thursday, March 20, 2008

Activists chanted for voter confidence

I've got a lot of stray threads to pull together here so let's start with this great quote from the Eureka Reporter's coverage of Saturday's Peace March in Eureka, CA:

Hundreds gather to march in peace rally
By ASHLEY BAILEY, The Eureka Reporter
Published: Mar 15 2008, 11:57 PM · Updated: Mar 16 2008, 12:00 AM
Category: Local News
Topic: Community

Hundreds of Humboldt County residents united in a peace march from the Eureka Municipal Auditorium to the Old Town Gazebo on Saturday.

It wasn't just about being against the Iraq War or being against the military's recruitment of minors — nothing seemed to be off limits.

Activists chanted for voter confidence, increased public monitoring of police, and promoting peace and ending violence. (emphasis added)

MORE:http://eurekareporter.com/article/080315-hundreds-gather-to-march-in-peace-rally

You take the good with the bad sometimes. The Reporter's e-paper from Monday March 10 (published only online, see page A2) contained a barely edited version of the Vets For Peace Chapter 56 press release announcing their support for hand-counting paper ballots. The edits attributed factual statements to me, rather than sourcing the basis for considering the claims factual, thus making the facts appear to be matters of opinion. This is a known pet peeve of mine.

So, I submitted a letter to the editor about this, which spawned quite an e-mail exchange with Reporter Managing Editor Glenn Franco Simmons. Typically he requests such exchanges be kept off the record (out of the blogosphere), though this time he did not. I won't post all that now, but perhaps later. I'm told to expect the letter in the paper, and will post that here at WDNC once it has been published.

At the Peace March on Saturday, I shared a moment on stage with John Mulloy from VFP-56. I believe this was what inspired the "chanting" for voter confidence. Mulloy has a cameo in the WDNC Photo Gallery from the March, tucked into the top right corner of the photo of the VCC table at the Gazebo. Here's one where he's the star:
The full collection of my Peace March photos can be found here. I also cross-posted the WDNC Gallery at OpEdNews.com.

At the Peace March we got a little over 100 people signed up for the willing hand-counter list that now hovers around 350. A VCC e-mail newsletter went out to the newly expanded subscriber list, encouraging letters to the editor, and also the introduction of hand-counting as a campaign issue in the three County Supervisor races on the June ballot.

One last note about the March. I posted a photo of Peter Aronson, captioned with a reference to his tremendous dedication to the topic of depleted uranium. I have since added to the GuvWurld News Archive a January 10 interview (.mp3) Aronson did on the Peter B. Collins show. The dude knows his stuff!

There is a lot of new content over at GuvWurld. In particular, I have been posting a lot of grim economic news, primarily because there isn't any other kind right now. I also want to direct your attention to a recording (.mp3) from last Thursday night. It begins with my presentation to the Humboldt Republican Party, followed by Humboldt Registrar Carolyn Crnich making a presentation of comparable length, and then about 20 minutes of discussion (43:33 total).

To summarize, citing from the VCC Report on Election Conditions in Humboldt County, I ran through historical problems with Diebold locally and around the country. I also brought in two new reports: the NH Primary recount study I've previously mentioned by the We The People Foundation; and last week's release from the University of CT, in which the Department of Computer Science announces more and new ways to tamper with memory cards (the same ones used here in Humboldt), including what they described as a "time-bomb" attack.

I spoke about efforts to build support for hand-counting paper ballots, but I didn't have time to get into a lot of detail about our work around forecasting cost, time and labor needs. Despite my preparation, I didn't at all get to preemptively address concerns about the Humboldt Transparency Project, which I knew the Registrar was there to promote. Fortunately, I did speak to this briefly during the discussion.

Perhaps most worthy of note, the Registrar misstated an important aspect of the VCC's position on how hand-counting would be done here in Humboldt. As stated in the VCC's Report on Election Conditions in Humboldt County, and in direct communication with the Registrar on multiple occasions, the VCC advocates fresh voters be brought in to count, relieving the poll workers who have been working since before dawn. The Registrar went out of her way to suggest that hand-counting is not favorable because tired people have already worked a long day that would be even longer.

There's a bit more to say about this but I'll hold it back for the day down the line when I'll publish the follow-up letter I sent thanking Patricia Welch, Humboldt Republican Party Chairman, for enabling me to share information with the group.

Permalink:
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Posted by Dave Berman - 9:40 AM | Permalink
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Saturday, March 15, 2008

Photo Gallery: Eureka, CA Peace March 3/15/08

I took lots of photos today. You can view the whole collection here. Below are just a few of my favorites (very tough to choose!).


Love it! Dave Keniston on the right, with his son Clay; and on the left, an unidentified woman with a beautiful smile.

The next several are some of my favorite people...

Jack Nounnan, primary organizer of the event,
and indefatigable force for peace.

(L-R) Carol Brannan, Nezzie Wade, and Mark Knipper

Martha Devine, aka "Granny Green Genes"

Peter Aronson holds the DU sign (really carries the torch for this crucial issue). Fellow Vet For Peace Steve Robinson on his right. Linda Sorter in blue and Carol Brannan again to her right.

The young girl's sign says: "Teach violence prevention and mediation to America's school children." Just wow.

Yup.

Jon Koriagin at the VCC table. This is at the Gazebo in Old Town, the end point of the march.

The view from the Gazebo.

One of many 9/11 Truth signs today. There are several others shown in the full photo collection. There was quite a diverse array of issues reflected in the signs carried throughout the crowd.

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Posted by Dave Berman - 6:48 PM | Permalink
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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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Press Releasee: VCC Documents Problems In Humboldt's February Primary

PRESS RELEASE: FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Bob Olofson, 707-444-8764 rwolofson@sbcglobal.net

Voter Confidence Committee Documents Problems In Humboldt's February Primary
Election Watchdog Repeats Call For Hand-Counting Paper Ballots

March 10, 2008 -- During the recent 'Super Tuesday' primary election, the Humboldt Voter Confidence Committee sent observers to selected precinct polling places. While the election process was mostly free off technical and human glitches, the following problems were noted:

Several Accu-vote ballot scanners at different polling places jammed. Two were repaired within a few minutes with no further problems noted on those machines. A different scanner was reported by a poll worker at 12:30pm as having jammed about 10 times at that point in the day, while another poll worker referred to the same machine as jamming once every 2 - 3 ballots.

One poll observer reported that two different 'e-slate' voting machines showed a ballot count of two on the readout, while the printer tape said zero ballots, and the poll workers said that no one had voted on the machine. There were also two voting machines returned to election headquarters without having been first closed out per operating instructions.

Several instances were observed of paperwork being put in the wrong bag, one instance of an official seal being left unsecured (which could theoretically be used to re-seal the container after tampering with ballots inside,) and several instances of minor problems and delays in setting up or closing down equipment.

In the main vote counting room at County election headquarters (where the paper ballots are scanned and tabulated) between approximately 8:15pm and 10:50pm, the doors were left open and the room and access hallway unattended for periods of several minutes at a time.

A machine from a McKinleyville precinct was left overnight at the precinct rather than being returned to election headquarters.

All data from the e-slate voting machines was tabulated by an employee of the contractor that supplied the equipment, on a laptop brought by the employee.

There was apparently no specific time frame for the 'hash test' on the memory cards of the Accu-vote scanners. (This test is to assure that the secret proprietary code supplied by the vendors of the scanners has not been tampered with since it left the custody of the County elections office. The longer the hash test is delayed, the greater the possibility that a hacker could successfully re-program the card and then erase any signs of tampering with it.)

The VCC again acknowledge the dedication and competence of the County election office staff and the poll workers.

The VCC again called for an end to the use of all optical scanners (for counting paper ballots) and paperless voting machines, and a return to the more verifiable, transparent and secure practice of hand counting all paper ballots. The public are invited to obtain more information on election integrity issues at www.voterconfidencecommittee.org.
# # #


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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

# # #

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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Friday, March 07, 2008

Vets For Peace Chapter 56 Reiterates Call For Hand-Counting Paper Ballots

Following recent announcements by the Redwood ACLU and the Humboldt County Democratic Central Committee (HCDCC), on Thursday night Veterans For Peace Chapter 56 adopted a resolution calling for Humboldt County to switch to all hand-counted paper ballots by the June 2008 primary election. The statement, shown in full below, is nearly identical to the one adopted February 18 by the HCDCC.

There is no question we now have momentum in this, what I call the Humboldt Hand-Count Campaign. See the Voter Confidence Committee website for materials easily adapted for similar campaigns elsewhere. I know there is interest in this in other parts because I keep getting asked to do radio interviews. Here is one (.mp3) I did recently with Dan Ashby and Marj Creech of the Election Defense Alliance.

The local VFP group has repeatedly given support to VCC initiatives that I have brought them. As an associate member, I am grateful for the forum and time shared with these extraordinary people. They will have a press release out soon and I expect the resolution will make it onto their website. Meanwhile, here it is...

* * *

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 pollworkers and/or vote counters.

# # #

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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