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VOV 1/30/08: Around the Country and the Counties

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30 January 2008: Double Header on VoV

                “We are winning but certainly haven’t won.” –Brad Friedman

     Jim Strait of Renaissance Radio introduced this two-hour special edition of Voice of the Voters as “Around the Country and the Counties.” The first hour was spent interviewing activists from all over the country. The second hour focused in on listener questions and members of the establishment bureaucracy: the head of the National Association of Counties (NACO) and a commissioner from Bucks County, Pennsylvania.

     First to speak was more of a voice of America than one attached to a particular area, Brad Friedman, outspoken election-integrity activist and owner/editor of He said that from the electoral perspective this country is a mess and looked forward to Super Tuesday as Tsunami Tuesday. He perceives far more citizen awareness of the problems associated with our electoral system and noted that our movement has won some extraordinary victories. He said that the Los Angeles Times actually ran a two-part series on the issues, noting that “the battleF has been fought and won by activists.”

     In the 2800 words of the article not one activist was quoted; instead the reporter interviewed vendors and bureaucrats, even though Brad, along with many of his colleagues, was right there in L.A.

     He praised David Earnhart’s film Uncounted, adding that the results of presidential primaries are so far controversial enough and undoubtedly anticipate what is to follow this November.

     Susan Pynchon, a Florida activist who came up to New Hampshire to witness the primaries, along with Bev Harris and others, said she never dreamed she’d see what she saw—ballot swapping as if those in charge were part of organized crime. She referred listeners to for film clips and narratives. There was a road chase after a vehicle carrying paper ballots that took the activists over icy, winding roads in the dark at 75 mph.

     She described the situation in detail. The elections in most of New England, and 87 percent of New Hampshire, are controlled by a small firm, LHS, which has secret [proprietary] programming for counting ballots. Clerks run ballots through the scanners, and memory cards can alter election results if tampered with or if they are defective. The chain of custody is bad. Seals on boxes of ballots are broken. “There is room for anything when the people are unaware of any part of the election,” she said.

     Pynchon favors paper voting and criticized the present system that delivers the count according to the computer tallies on the evening of Election Day; the paper ballots are counted only days later. Mary Ann suggested requiring that the entire count be conducted in one evening, especially in small areas.

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     She said that in Florida, her home state, the ES&S Ivotronics they voted on in 2006 lost one hundred thousand votes; in some counties 25 percent of the votes were lost. Yesterday the SoS publicized an opinion letter banning witnesses from counting rooms. The dilemma, analogous at the national level, is security versus transparency.

     Harvie Branscomb spoke next about his state, Colorado, which will use voter-verified paper ballots (VVPB) by 2010. In December the SoS announced that most of the voting machines there would be decertified. Then along came the legislature to rule that the SoS should reconsider his decision to decertify. The state senate will vote on this issue tomorrow (1/31/08).

     To help out in this unfortunate quagmire, visit this Web site. “Colorado voters have a right to paper ballots,” he said. Activists there are working on improving ballots and audits.

     Jason Osgood updated the audience on the situation in Washington State, which I recently envisioned as ideal for voters. In King County, where a good one third of the population lives, the electoral system is being overhauled. Optical scanners are being replaced with image scanners, which photograph ballots, which the machine absorbs and according to which it regurgitates results, the first system of this kind in the country.

     These machines are not certified—the SoS will provide provisional certification. All residents will be forced to send in their ballots by mail. “Experts predict an election meltdown,” Osgood said.

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     The primary is not until August, so that where problems emerge there will be no time to fix them. The opposition is stymied. “Lots of meetings are needed to expose these problems,” he said.

     Virginia’s woes were the next to be aired—remember the state where the legislature voted to replace all their current machines with opscans?

     Well, the Verified Voting Coalition got two bills passed last year, both of which are threatened this year. SB292 allows for an optional audit and recount of paper ballots, but the judges won’t allow recounts.

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A jack of some trades, writing and editing among them, Marta Steele, an admitted and proud holdover from the late sixties, returned to activism ten years ago after first establishing her skills as a college [mostly adjunct] professor in three (more...)

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