An Interview with Dr. Ulrich Wiesner
(Dr. Wiesner Filed a Lawsuit in Germany Claiming E-Voting Unconstitutional AND WON!)
By Kathleen Wynne -- Founder HCPBnow.org
Former Associate Director of Black Box Voting http://blackboxvoting.org/
"The very word secrecy is repugnant in a free and open society; and we are as a people inherently and historically opposed to secret societies, to secret oaths and to secret proceedings." John F. Kennedy
No words were ever more relevant than these are when it comes to our elections and the counting of our votes. When did secrecy take precedence over transparency in the counting of our votes in America through the use of electronic voting systems and, more importantly, why? What the majority of Americans have NOT heard about, but most election reform advocates are already aware of,isthe German Constitutional Court's recent decision to ban electronic voting in Germany by ruling it "unconstitutional."
Let's think about this for a minute. By using a Constitution, similar to our own, and which had to be approved of by the U.S. after World War II, Germany has, through its High Court, determined that computerized, secret vote counting does not subscribe to the democratic standards of their country! Yet, still here in America, 95% of us are using some sort of computerized voting system to cast and/or count our ballots---completely government sanctioned, corporate controlled,using software protected from public scrutiny by trade secret laws. NO ONE can guarantee even a single voter that their vote is being counted as cast. What's wrong with this picture?
It is, indeed, encouraging that support is growing for a return to public hand-counts here in the U.S. and, as a result, we may someday soon reach a "critical mass" of support largeenough to put pressure on our courts to also recognize this fundamental right and "persuade" them to rule in a similar fashion as the German Court. When that day comes, we will be forever indebted to our German counterparts.
Obviously, the significance of the German Court's ruling is not only a sea change in how elections will be administered in Germany , which are now to be done by properly administered public hand-counts, but I see it as a powerful new tool that can be used by election reform advocates in achieving similar reform in the U.S.
Bev Harris, Founder of Black Box Voting.org and Paul Lehto, an attorney from Washington State and election reform advocate have both written excellent articles analyzing the Court's decision to ban electronic voting and are must reads.
Harris' article, Let's Get Off The Hampster Wheel, was featured in Democracy For New Hampshire (as well as on other websites): ()
Lehto's article, Germany Bans Computerized Voting, Will Hand Count in 2009, was featured in OpEdNews (as well as on other websites): http://www.opednews.com/articles/Germany-bans-computerized-by-Paul-Lehto-090303-583.html
[On a personal note, I am extremely gratified to have discovered that the arguments made by the Court in banning electronic voting were almost the exact same arguments made to election officials and Congress by those of us in the election reform community who chose to be totally committed to a return to public hand-counts for the past 3+ years. I, along with a small group of public hand count advocates, in particular, Dr. Sheila Parks, Founder of the Center for Hand-Counted Paper Ballots http://www.handcountedpaperballots.org/ and Vickie Karp and Karen Renick, Co-Directors of VoteRescue.org, decided early on to oppose compromise of any kind thatwould require the use of voting machines,audits,exit polls,ormail-inballots, i.e.,anything other than public hand counts, asan acceptableway ofcountingthe votes. In fact, the Court's ruling actually supported our unequivocal position that "the only experts in our elections should be the citizens themselves." When average citizens with no legal expertise are vindicated by such a venerable body of legal experts, it is for me, testament to the absolute need to recognize and honor the "principles of transparency" in elections, which can ONLY be achieved through public hand-counts.]
After reading Harris's and Lehto's analyses, as well as reading the Court's decision in its entirety, I immediately recognized the importance of locating the father (Joachim Wiesner) and son (Ulrich Wiesner), who had filed the lawsuit and then persuade them to tell their story to the American people.
Dr. Ulrich Wiesner holds a Ph.D. in Physics and works as a consultant for a U.S.-American Software Company. His father, Joachim, is a retired political scientist. Together, they filed the lawsuit with Germany 's Federal Constitutional Court after the German parliament had rejected a petition drive promoted by the Wiesners, which had been signed by over 45,000 people to try to ban electronic voting back in 2005.
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