The Help America Vote Act (HAVA) structures so-called elections in the United States. It is profoundly defective legislation. The Holt Act is intended to modify HAVA but will more likely ratify it, should Holt ever get passed and signed. This article was written in April 2006. The subject was election attorney Paul Lehto’s questioning of the Election Assistance Commissioner Ray Martinez. It’s enlightening, at least. The complete version is at the link “Complete Article.”
(A HAVA Primer)
Thursday, 20 April 2006, 10:44 am
Article: Michael Collins
SIMPLE QUESTIONS -- TROUBLING ANSWERS
Q&A Session with a Commissioner of the Elections Assistance Commission Reveals Massive Violations of Citizen Rights
by Michael Collins
“Scoop” Independent News
With the help if nearly $4 billion in federal grants, HAVA eliminates the evidence of voter intent by eliminating the paper. Instead of paper ballots we have votes registered and counted on “touch screens” - computer based direct recording electronic (DRE) voting machines. Invisible electronic ballots are the result of these DRE touch screens. Electronic vote counting software does the vital vote tabulation in secret. For citizens and public officials, the vote counting processes are strictly off limits. There is literally nothing to see. As a result, the public records of vote counting are gone. To preserve this secrecy, DRE purchase contracts often pledge the government to cooperate with the vendors to fight the very citizens the government is pledged to serve.
What is this secrecy in vote counting, really? To have the votes counted in secret by your political enemy is the picture of tyranny. To have the votes counted in secret by your political friend is the picture of corruption. To even desire such an unaccountable power is itself corrupt. So how is HAVA cramming this down the throat of American democracy?
HAVA, it turns out, provides a $3.8 billion carrot of federal money to assist election jurisdictions with purchases that comply with HAVA’s “standards.” This federal carrot is combined with a big lawsuit stick for noncompliance. The date for required compliance with HAVA is the first federal election in 2006 (the primary), and violations of HAVA are routinely guaranteed by the U.S. Department of Justice to be cause for a lawsuit. New York was the first major example made of a big state, when DOJ filed suit to force compliance with HAVA’s “standards” in March 2006.
HAVA standards require voting accessibility for people with all “disabilities.” They also require at least one “accessible” voting device per polling location. Adding considerably to the stress of some local jurisdictions is the fact that there is no single voting system that allows accessibility for all disabilities, whether of sight, motor abilities up to quadriplegia, or other disabilities as defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
Because of the trade secrecy claims and the nature of electronic vote counting on hard drives, with touch screen DREs, the voters never see the final form of their ballots, and the ballots are all counted in complete corporate trade secrecy. Making any reasonable connection between the intent of the voters and the invisible electronic ballot requires an elections theory that borders on magical thinking.
The wildly unaccountable features of invisible ballots and secret vote counting, and the fact that DREs do not accommodate more than half of all disabilities yet get a free pass under HAVA, should give us reason to pause to reevaluate the law and its outcomes. Yet at this very moment, the Department of Justice is proceeding, suing and threatening to sue any and all jurisdictions that do not comply with HAVA, scaring them into the only seemingly safe route to go under HAVA: touch screen DREs, even though some brave jurisdictions have still rejected that route.
MR. LEHTO: Well, you know, I can look at the outside of the [touch screen voting machine] DRE all day long and I’ll never see how the vote is counted and I’ll never get any information about how the electronic vote is counted after the fact [either], so I have no idea how the vote is counted.
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