A point by point look at the increase in Executive Branch influence over US elections under Holt Bill HR 811:
The Election Assistance Commission (governed by presidential appointees) will:
1) Establish protocols for permanent paper ballots for the military
2) Apply accessibility standards
3) Act as the conduit for making any disclosed source code available for the public inspection; note also the term "available for inspection" -- this often
means the public cannot have a copy, but must sit in the office doing an inspection.
4) Upon request, obtain chain of custody information from manufacturer and/or elections officials
5) Sets the standards for what constitutes conflict of interest by manufacturer
6) Upon request, EAC may evaluate state's compliance with security standards
7) Accredits the voting system testing labs
8) Assists in setting standards for the laboratories
9) Designates an expert to observe laboratory testing
10) Acts as the conduit to provide information to the public regarding laboratory testing results of voting systems
11) Establishes fees for the laboratories
12) Acts as gatekeeper to allow manufacturers to have systems tested by the laboratories by:
a) Requiring submission of a detailed request for the testing
b) Collecting fees from the manufacturer for placement into an escrow account
c) Selecting the test lab to perform the testing "at random"
d) Pays the testing laboratories from escrow account
e) AFTER completion of testing, the Commission discloses to the public which lab did the testing
f) Can revoke or suspend accreditation of testing labs
g) Note that the EAC doesn't have to establish the standards until Jan 1, 2008, by which time it is too late to have any protections of testing lab standards
apply to the 2008 election. See dictionary definition for "Ponzi Scheme"(application of funds, in this case, public funds, to an investment scheme that
never catches up with itself and never delivers the promised end product until further funds are invested in additional delayed products.)
13) Sets the procedures for selection of audit precincts by the states
14) Procedures selected by the EAC will be published by the EAC in the Federal Register prior to selection of precincts. Note that this allows the EAC to
change the selection procedure up to the eve of precinct selection, and requires the public to get a copy of the latest Federal Register to find out
what the selection procedures will in every election. This also effectively REMOVES the ability of a state to choose a more robust auditing selection procedure.
15) Note that states will also have to go to NIST for prior authorization if they wish to use a more robust auditing procedure
16) Acts as the conduit for public access to audit results
17) States cannot certify elections until the Commission (but not necessarily the public) has received the audit results. The term "immediate" is not defined, and there is no window of opportunity for candidates or the public to examine the audit before it elections are certified. As Holt has reportedly stated, the priority in his bill is not necessarily making sure the right candidate gets into office.
18) Controls the funds reimbursed to the states for doing the audit
The perils of federal regulation
Many of the requirements involving the EAC, as listed above, are well intentioned. However, political strategy is based on one thing and one thing only: CAN YOU WIN.
And WINNING means DO WHATEVER YOU CAN, ALL YOU HAVE TO DO IS GET YOUR NAME ON THE CERTIFIED ELECTION AS THE WINNER.
Instead of naively assuming that all well-intentioned "reforms" will be used for the good of the public, we have to at least take a close look at how these reforms can be manipulated by an unscrupulous president, an unscrupulous political party, an unscrupulous state elections official or auditor, an
unscrupulous local elections official, or an unscrupulous candidate.
Sometimes these kinds of reforms can actually make it EASIER to game the system. What is consistently missing in election reform legislation is the explicit recognition that people don't always play fair in politics.
Founder - Black Box Voting
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LEGISLATIVE REFORM: Much of what we want in election reform can be achieved once we have agreement on the civil rights issues. Yes, we need paper ballots,
but even that does no good without reinstating the public's right to know.
The American constitutional form of representative government is based upon the principle that government is the servant of the people, and not the master of them. The people, in delegating authority, do not give their public servants the right to decide what is good for the people to know and what is
not good for them to know.
Elections are the mechanism through which the citizenry conveys its instructions to the government, and therefore, elections must provide full
freedom of access to information to all citizens, which includes access to the information needed to validate and audit the election.
Without this, it is only a matter of time before our system of government crumbles.
The principles underlying the Freedom of Information Act and its counterpart laws at the state level have enormous potential for correcting many of the
problems we're seeing with elections, but not until Freedom of Information is incorporated into elections.
A BEGINNING TOWARDS REAL HEALING OF OUR ELECTION SYSTEM
To these ends, we need to first agree upon what information a system must produce. At a minimum, it must be no worse than the traditional hand counted
paper ballot system in terms of the information and observation provided for the citizenry.
Next, we must implement more efficient and information-rich reporting systems, a task that is probably not difficult once we have consensus on what
information is really needed.
And last, we need to eliminate the concept of proprietary secrets from the areas that citizens need information on to validate the integrity of elections.
America has prospered not only because of our freedom, but because of our collective ingenuity. We can do this thing.
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"Governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the
consent of the governed." - Declaration of Independence
Black Box Voting is a nonpartisan, nonprofit 501c(3) elections watchdog group
funded entirely by citizen donations.
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