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Passing judgment on HR 811: A classic case of "the blind men and the elephant"

By       Message David Griscom     Permalink
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I have regarded this duplicity as further damning evidence that Congress has no intention of ever refusing to seat the winner of the “official” (machine-counted) Election-Day tally, no matter what the evidence that a majority of “We the People” actually voted for his/her opponent. But then I took a closer look at HR 811...

Whereas there is no PRESENT law requiring Congress to defer to post-election audits, look at what HR 811 actually MANDATES: “...each State shall administer, without advance notice to the precincts selected, audits of the results of elections for Federal office held in the State...consisting of random hand counts of the voter-verified paper ballots required to be produced and preserved...”

And for those of us who have been holding out for a return to publicly witnessed citizen hand counting of paper ballots, HR 811 specifies: “In administering the audits, the Election Auditor may utilize the services of election administration personnel of the State or jurisdiction, including poll workers, without regard to whether or not the personnel have professional auditing experience.” And that “EACH AUDIT...SHALL BE CONDUCTED IN A MANNER THAT ALLOWS PUBLIC OBSERVATION OF THE ENTIRE PROCESS [capitalization my own].”

And contradicting my former worries that such audits would have no “teeth,” HR 811 specifies that “No State may certify the results of any election which is subject to an audit...prior to... the completion of the audit.” “If the Election Auditor finds that any of the hand counts administered...do not match the final unofficial tally of the results of an election, the Election Auditor shall administer hand counts...of such additional precincts (or equivalent jurisdictions) as the Election Auditor considers appropriate to resolve any concerns resulting from the audit and ensure the accuracy of the results.”

And finally: “DEADLINE FOR COMPLETION OF AUDITS OF PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS - In the case of an election for electors for President and Vice President which is subject to an audit..., the State shall complete the audits and announce and submit the results to the Commission for publication of the information required...in time for the State to certify the results of the election and provide for the final determination of any controversy or contest concerning the appointment of such electors prior to the deadline described in section 6 of title 3, United States Code.”

These mandates (plus the very important one of requiring publicly witnessed random selection of the precincts to be audited) are exactly what is needed to expose the type of election fraud perpetrated against optical-scan voting devices in 2004 (http://www.opednews.com/articles/opedne_michael__070313_the_long_road_to_dem.htm)

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I will end with expressing my high respect for my fellow election-integrity activists who have come down against HR 811. Mark Crispin Miller, for example, opposes HR 811 basically for reasons (1) through (3) above, calling it a “poison pill” (http://markcrispinmiller.blogspot.com/2007/05/holt-bill-is-poison-pill_22.html).
I agree with MCM that ALL electronic voting machines must be banned as soon as possible – but I sincerely doubt that will happen very soon. I disagree with him that the non-disclosure of election software codified in HR 811 is a big deal, because it is possible to embed a self-erasing Election-Day vote-flipping program even into open-source software. So there are only two defenses against electronic election hacking: (i) get rid of all electronic voting machines (including op-scanners) or (ii) institute transparent-to-the-public audits of the voter-verified paper ballots. To repeat, HR 811 actually mandates that “The individual, durable voter-verified paper ballot...shall be used as the OFFICIAL BALLOT [my emphasis] for purposes of any recount or audit conducted ... and shall be preserved.”

To me, HR 811 sets the stage for returning to what we all want the most, that is, publicly witnessed hand counting of our hand-marked paper ballots. Under the HR-811-mandated audits, citizens would actually begin to acquire these skills – and before 2008! After reading the fine print of the Holt bill, I am convinced that I couldn’t have designed a better system for catching election fraud if I had tried. Ph.D. electrical engineer and voting technology expert Tom Ryan (http://www.ewh.ieee.org/r6/tucson/beeet04-04.pdf) came to this conclusion long before I did.

Tom and I believe that the real “poison pill” in HR 811 targets the hackers who would steal our elections. Please do call your Congressperson today and tell him/her what YOU believe!

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Ph.D. in Physics, Brown University, 1966. Fellow, American Physical Society. Fellow, American Association for the Advancement of Science. Fellow, American Ceramic Society. Research Physicist at Naval Research Laboratory (NRL), Washington, DC, (more...)

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