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Life Arts    H2'ed 6/30/14

BRAD BLOG Exposes CA Law Restricting "Recounts" To the Wealthy

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Yeah, well, you'd think. But even when they had all kinds of world class computer science and security experts and Election Integrity advocates explaining why Internet Voting is a terrible idea, they still passed an Internet Voting bill out of committee last year, before it was thankfully killed by a different committee. I couldn't believe it. Had an article all good to go at the time with the headline: "Democratic Science Deniers in the CA Statehouse", or some such. Happily, before I could publish, they ended up killing the bill...though, sadly, I suspect I'll be saving that headline for another not too distant day...

Scary! So, after you wrote the expose and started the ball rolling and their constituents started protesting, what happened?

Pretty amazingly, Hagman struck the ENTIRE section of the bill that would have required voters to pay for post-election counts "from their own personal funds". That doesn't leave much left in the bill, frankly (CA lawmakers love to pass TONS of really short bills...and I mean TONS), begging the question as to why he didn't simply withdraw it entirely. But I guess he's saving face or something. That's fine by me. What's left is largely entirely harmless, as far as I can tell, and the voters have won one for a change in Sacramento. I'll take it! :-)

That does seem a little weird. I may sound paranoid, but are we sure there isn't a poison pill or something embedded in what remains of the bill?

Can never be sure, of course. If anybody spots any concerns, I'm happy to hear about it. The latest text of the bill, AB 2369, can be found here, The EI folks I've talked to seem okay with it now, in any case. But I'm always skeptical of everything, so happy to hear from folks if they have concerns.

Your expose accomplished what it needed to. Eternal vigilance and all that... Before we wrap this up, would you like to speak a little more in detail about the good news about legislation passed this session?

Well, a bit of good news this week is that the shadowy rightwingers who were trying to put a Photo ID voting restriction initiative on the ballot this November failed to get the needed signatures. So CA voters are safe on that score, at least, for now.


Beyond that, in the legislature, having done something to require disclosure of "dark money" spent in California elections, should help a lot. In this state anyway. The legislation came about after discovering that the Koch Brothers had used a circuitous route to funnel millions of dollars into a couple of ballot initiatives recently, through their networks, out of state, then back into the elections without disclosing it. The groups were fined a few million dollars (and the good news is that the Prop they supported had lost, and the one they were against had won), but that was after the damage had been done. So the new bill should seal that up a bit more, since D.C. is broken -- I should say, the Republicans have broken D.C. -- and the only way to accomplish anything these days is through state and local legislatures.

Also, last week, the state Senate passed a resolution calling for an Article 5 Constitutional Convention "for the sole purpose of proposing an amendment to the United States Constitution that would limit corporate personhood for purposes of campaign finance and political speech." The resolution also declares "that money does not constitute speech and may be legislatively limited."

Yes, that's a long long road towards a real fix for what the Republicans and the Supreme Court have broken. But the road has to start somewhere. So as much as I'm critical of lots of stuff the Democrats have done lately in Sacramento, I'm happy to see them do the right thing on that score, and hopefully spur other states to do the same.

By the way, as long as we're discussing the importance of elections and counting the vote and citizen oversight of results, etc., let me take this opportunity to reminder your readers that the reason we have Citizens United to contend with in the first place is because John Kerry didn't fight to count the goddamn votes in the state of Ohio as he had said he would prior to the 2004 elections. Because those votes were never publicly counted, we will never know who actually won the 2004 election. Instead, Bush was able to enjoy a second term, in which he installed Justices Roberts and Alito, and now the nation has Citizens United and McCutcheon and all the other outrageous rulings that have allowed billionaires like the Koch Brothers to run rough-shod over everything we thought we held dear in this country.

Yes, I still blame John Kerry for that, and we can all do the same for, likely, generations to come. But it's always a helpful remember as to why ELECTIONS MATTER -- and so does COUNTING THE GODDAMN VOTES!

I couldn't agree with you more. Anything you'd like to add before we wrap this up?

Haven't I caused enough damage already? :-) I just wanted to say thanks to you for your coverage of EI issues over the years. I wish there were many more folks doing the same. It matters. As is, we'll do our best to keep up the fight at (and on my radio show, etc.) as long as I can. Ya know, I've always consider The BRAD BLOG as the Patron Blog of Lost Causes. But, we keep fighting for what's right anyway. And, at least on the "recounts for the rich" bill, it's nice to win one every now and again.

Amen to that, Brad. Thanks so much for the kind words. I appreciate your efforts on behalf of voters across the country. It was a pleasure talking with you again. I hope we can do this on a more regular basis. It's good to keep OpEdNews readers in the loop and no one covers the territory better than The BRAD BLOG!

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Joan Brunwasser is a co-founder of Citizens for Election Reform (CER) which since 2005 existed for the sole purpose of raising the public awareness of the critical need for election reform. Our goal: to restore fair, accurate, transparent, secure elections where votes are cast in private and counted in public. Because the problems with electronic (computerized) voting systems include a lack of (more...)

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