Friday, January 11, 2008

NH Chaos Represents Opportunity; Nancy Tobi Pleads For No "Recount"

Speculation represents the preponderance of verbiage about the New Hampshire primary. I can't say for certain what happened on Tuesday, or any other day in New Hampshire for that matter. But given where things stand, I would like to make the case that this chaotic time is an opportunity. Before I get to that, I will again site the BradBlog index of stories and the OpEdNews writer's campaign for detailed reporting. Meanwhile, the controversy has served as the latest shouting point dividing the blogosphere.

There is one voice that I want to offer this space to, and it is not because I necessarily agree with what she is saying. Nancy Tobi of Democracy For New Hampshire is a respected colleague who has been very generous with her time consulting the Voter Confidence Committee about hand-counting paper ballots. Nancy has posted at least two passionate statements urging that a "re-count" not be pursued. Here are excerpts, followed by my suggestions:

From: No Recount Please

"I am telling everyone who asks to beg Paul and others to NOT request a recount. I would beg you to urge everyone to STAND DOWN from this strategy. It is a trap. Use all your influence to inform the Paul and Kucinich campaigns, which are being targeted to carry this out, to please NOT pursue the recount this year. I can not stress enough how important it is they do NOT have a recount.

We have no control over the ballot chain of custody and we have learned the pain from the 2004 Nader recount, in which only 11 districts were counted, chosen by a highly questionable person, and then nothing showed up. Now all we hear is how the Nader recount validated the machines. A candidate asking for a recount may well be a tool used to "prove" everything was okay and then that candidate will be further discredited. This is high stakes, no bullshit."


"No. It is time to take control. We want accountability and change. We get this NOT from a recount, but from an investigation. We need questions asked and answered, and changes made so we have a clean election in NH in November."

# # #

From: We need to eliminate secret vote counting, not a recount

"Now activists around the nation are calling for a recount. In New Hampshire the manual recount has always been held as justification for holding elections in which more than 80% of our ballots are counted in secret by private corporations.

Does this logic hold up? Will a recount rectify the problem before us?

I say no. The problem before us is that we have outsourced the most precious thing in our democracy: the counting of our votes. And in New Hampshire, we have outsourced more than 80% of our votes to a private corporation counting those votes in secret, and, as it turns out, that private corporation has a convicted drug trafficker on its executive team to boot. A recount does not solve this problem."


"New Hampshire already knows how to fix this problem. For the past four years, New Hampshire citizens have been asking the State to fix this problem, but the State has thus far refused. We don't need a recount now. What we need now is for the State to reconsider and implement procedural and legislative solutions to guarantee open and honest elections.

A recount won't provide any significant benefit to the cause of free and fair and open elections. Bringing back full citizen oversight and checks and balances to all New Hampshire elections is the only way to avoid having any more questionable election outcomes in the Granite State."


"It's pretty easy to see what happened in New Hampshire: We had an election in which 81% of our ballots were counted in secret by a private corporation, and this resulted in an outcome that is called into question.

That's what happened.

No recount is going to change this. What will change this is to get rid of corporate controlled secret vote counting in our elections."
I don't mean to contradict Nancy here, but rather to address a matter of framing. I've said many times that we are not having elections but rather events that closely resemble elections. Similarly, this isn't as much about whether or not to have a "re-count" as it is about "counting all the ballots."

I appreciate Nancy's point that a re-count can be self-affirming as a stamp of approval. But the really important thing to realize is that this is the very thing we should seek to take on, and in as many ways as possible. This idea that some modicum of public acceptance will settle in and endure to future elections is the very thing that we are now poised to prevent, the biggest framing opportunity this side of Busby/Bilbray.

The idea is inherent uncertainty. From before the polls even opened, we knew with certainty the outcome would be uncertain, indeterminate, unknowable, necessarily inconclusive. It is time for everyone to see this as an intentional component of the joint government/media effort to keep the public divided. There is no need for any further primary "elections" when we know now in advance of them all that they too will fail to produce unanimous acceptance of the reported results.

As I see it, it doesn't matter whether the "recount" plan goes forward or not. Either way it is just part of the same opportunity for us. Raise your hand if you've been reading Naomi Klein's "Shock Doctrine." The disorientation occurring right now, this instant, is precisely our window of opportunity to act with the ideas we have lying around. We The People are long overdue to withdraw our consent. Do not accept the results of this election. Take action to prevent local Registrars (or equivalents) from certifying results.

We can seize this moment and define the story being told. We should invoke again, if perhaps with a slight edit, the stance dozens of groups took in response to the CA-50 "election" in June 2006. From the California Election Protection Network's Voter's Resolution of No Confidence, written here at WDNC:
We, The People, DO NOT CONSENT to transferring power and authority to candidates claiming victory in this illegitimate election. We will do everything within our Constitutional and Human Rights to protect and preserve possession of this power that is inalienably Ours to be given but never taken away.
Public officials have been nakedly acting against the interest of the greater good for far too long and they are now cornered. Will we continue to let them take advantage of us, to assume they have our consent?

Ray Raphael is an historian here in Humboldt County and he's written many books. I read his "First American Revolution" and learned that by 1776, much of the Revolution had already taken place. Raphael describes a resistance tactic mirrored throughout the colonies where courts were shut down by citizens who forced judges to rule by locally written charters. The alternative for the judges who wanted to continue under King's Law was often public humiliation such as tar and feathering.

I'm not sure what the modern equivalent would be but it has to involve preventing legitimacy from being conferred upon faith-based results of secretly counted "elections." My advice to Nancy is to think more about now than the future.

"If we don't take action now, we settle for nothing later. We'll settle for nothing now, and we'll settle for nothing later." --Rage Against The Machine


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Posted by Dave Berman - 9:33 PM | Permalink
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I'm sorry to be so pedantic, but in the fourth sentence of the first paragraph, the word you want is "cite", not "site".

But thanks for the story!

Posted by Blogger Amateur6 @ Jan 18, 2008, 7:52:00 AM
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