Successful tactics from around the globe inspire adoption into the hand-count elections movement. Rejection of hopeless “realism” – that politicians aren’t considering our demand for hand counts - is but a part of the overall strategy. If citizens expect accurate election results, they must run parallel polls, observe, investigate and video the vote. Power is never given; it must be asserted.
“The right of voting for representatives is the primary right by which all other rights are protected.”
So said Tom Paine at the height of the Enlightenment. A century later, New York case law reveals judicial comprehension that:
“Statutory regulations are enacted to secure freedom of choice and to prevent fraud, and not by technical obstructions to make the right of voting insecure and difficult.”
PEOPLE v. WOOD (NY Court of Appeals 1895) 148 N.Y. 142, 42 N.E. 536
Former UN Ambassador Jeane Kirkpatrick explains that:
"Democratic elections are not merely symbolic....They are competitive, periodic, inclusive, (and) definitive …”
It’s probably safe to say that all election integrity advocates agree with these premises. Where we differ is in how to achieve our mutual goals.
Some would have us adopt the “reality” that the machines are here to stay, so let’s work within the system. “Realists” would have us discussing audits, as if that ever overturned election results. We know that courts have election officials’ backs, as numerous recent cases reveal (Florida 13, San Diego 50, and that squirrelly Squire case in Franklin County, Ohio, to name a few).
Let’s talk about audits of scientifically-condemned computerized election systems for a moment. My lay-person’s read of the literature evokes this analogy:
The security firm, let's call it Black Wellwater, advises you to remove the back wall to your house, and replace it with screening. After you return from vacation, the firm advises you can only inventory 10% of your goods to see if anything was stolen. Not only that, but you can’t even choose to inventory those suspect items – things you just know a thief would go for.
Yet this is what election officials want us to accept. Random audits should be a part of any audit system; and targeted audits must also be permitted so that precincts with questionable results - something parallel polling may reveal - can also be scrutinized. Some jurisdictions seek to legally forbid targeted audits.
Even worse, some states only audit 1% of the results. In fact, San Diego County sued its Secretary of State, whining that anything more was too cumbersome for her staff. Registrar of Voters, Deborah Seiler, used to sell Diebold election systems. On her staff is disgraced Cuyahoga County election official, Michael Vu, who oversaw the theft or loss of thousands of dollars in memory cards and voting machines in the May 2006 election. Yeah, I bet they don’t want a stringent audit.
The beauty of hand-counts is that a self-auditing procedure is built into the count process. Oh sure, anyone is welcome to recount – but any recount worth its effort will use the same self-auditing techniques during the process.