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Anatomy of the Murder of Democracy

By       Message Paul Lehto       (Page 1 of 4 pages)     Permalink    (# of views)   3 comments

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The heart of American democracy is elections.  

The heart of elections is the vote counts.

America’s vote counts are now claimed to be corporate proprietary, private or commercial “trade secrets,” off limits for all citizens and government alike.  Moreover, the government, should any trade secret information fall into its hands, purports to swear itself in contracts to support corporate secrecy, typically pledging to cooperate with the corporations in order to gang up on any citizens demanding disclosure or transparency in order to defeat the public’s rights in the heart of democracy.  What’s worse is the invisibilization and obfuscation of the vote counts in computer languages, such that we may as well write all government documents in Greek since probably more in the public really understand Greek compared to the various computer languages of the trade secret software.  Thus, even if the trade secrets were disclosed, hardly any of us would be the wiser.  And none of us, even computer experts, would really be able to assess how an election went in time to do anything about it except testify on behalf of a purported “sore loser” – a poor place to find oneself in.  

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In short, because winners virtually never question their own wins, and because losers are considered “sore losers” and are heavily pressured to accept that, and since all of us, by voting, are either winners or losers, the pressure put on the losers is yet another way in which democracy is rendered defenseless, since only losers have the incentive to challenge an election result, but they too can be attacked for bias.  Thus, there’s no substitute for doing an election openly on election night.  A new shift of workers should do this to prevent fatigue, using the jury summonsing process as needed (or a parallel poll worker summonsing process) to draft any extras needed. The jury system, the way We the People control the judicial branch, would collapse and be unrepresentative without jury summonsing.  Similarly, if we are serious about maintaining a living democracy, that is, if we are serious about voter-controlled elections as the one and only primary check and balance the people have against the government, then we should make sure that we can control our elections by watching them with our own eyes, and also make sure we have the power to get it right the first time on election night, and the power to correct it later on if this doesn’t happen and errors are found.

Without transparency or the ability to see the counts and obtain any and all information about them, all other checks are but cloaks.  Jeremy Bentham in his old treatise on the law of Evidence said this about public trials, recognizing the wisdom of the centuries that secret trials, no matter their claims of checks and balances, are checkless and balanceless without “publicity” or transparency and openness to the public.  

By killing off transparency and openness in favor of corporate private intellectual property interests called “trade secrets” our government, of both political parties, has murdered the heart of democracy behind closed doors of secrecy.  

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This dialogue below is about the legal anatomy of the murder of democracy, and it shows the legal anatomy for how American democracy was killed, or so corporations would have us believe.  As the dialogue shows, however, you can never really and truly kill off democracy; at best they can only hide it, because democracy is just too popular to ever be killed openly.  Thus, simply applying reason to the prevarications of the elections industrial complex exposes the fact that the heart of democracy can not possibly be a commercial trade secret as the vendors claim it is.  

This dialog was written in Ishpeming, Michigan, where a good portion of the classic legal thriller “Anatomy of a Murder” was filmed about 50 years ago, and still acclaimed by many lawyers today for its realistic courtroom dialogue, a rarity among all films.  Like Judge John Voelker, who wrote Anatomy of a Murder under the name “Robert Traver” and lived just down the highway a bit from this author, my ideas for this dialog below come from real cases.  I myself was plaintiff, along with Jack Wells, a veteran of the Aleutian Islands combat of WWII, the second time in our history that American soil was under direct occupation and attack, the first being the War of 1812 where the White House, the House and Senate, the Navy Yard and other Washington D.C. buildings were burned in such a huge conflagration that the flames and light could be seen 50 miles away.  It is indeed fitting that Jack so quickly volunteered to defend his country again, even though he didn’t know me, when he heard about this lawsuit.  The descendant of one of the original Washington state senators as well as the descendant of a Revolutionary War soldier and a community college teacher extraordinaire, Jack Wells passed away over a year ago, but not until after the touch screen voting machines were removed by vote of the county council in light of the lawsuit we had together with all the other political factors.  See lawsuit, at  Because the touchscreens were replaced by optical scans from the same company and still count secretly the imaged scans rather than the ballots themselves, Jack and I never really celebrated the demise of the touchscreens, because it was something of a hollow victory.

It is up to those who understand that this is a direct attack on democracy, as Jack Wells immediately understood, to carry on, because Jack Wells can not fight any longer.

Unfortunately, what an army from anywhere in the world could never accomplish --- the takeover of American democracy --- the corruption of democratic principles can accomplish.  As the architect of the American Revolution, Thomas Paine, said: “A principle can invade where an army can not penetrate.”  

That penetrating principle is the sword of “trade secret” software.  Follow the dialogue that comes next, and see for yourself if democracy can truly, and logically, and lawfully, be killed, or whether, as in essence Jack Wells and I saw it, that America was again an occupied country, with enemy forces claiming to hold our country’s vote counting territory.  This piece is written in the hopes that more will come to see the corporate takeover of the heart of American democracy for what it is, an invasion and an attack on our most important birthrights as Americans by those who, at the very least, wish to avoid proper accountability by hiding behind a veil of secrecy.  At the same time, given the value of America, it would be naïve to presume there isn’t more than just an avoidance of accountability in operation here, just as a claim by another government or corporation to own our seas or forests and therefore able to exclude us from them would be anything but a negligent desire to “avoid accountability.”  Jack Wells might have joked: “Do we imagine that the Japanese Imperial Forces occupied the Aleutian Islands intending only to vacation there in privacy?  Presuming such privacy being the only goal of trade secrecy in public elections is naïve in the extreme.

We now join “Anatomy of the Murder of Democracy” in media res (in the middle).  Our film script stars Opednews elections editor Joan Brunwasser as Attorney Joan Brunwasser, and features an anonymous "Citizen Advocate" and "Expert witness" that can be taken to present the author’s general views, along with cameo an appearance by a "Judge" who presents a common legal ruling on an objection made the Citizen Advocate.  As we join the movie, Attorney Brunwasser is attempting to show that trade secrets in elections have been waived because all or parts of the various software has been publicly disclosed at various points, accidentally, or on purpose:

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In the end, there has been no murder of democracy – you can’t kill an idea especially a popular one – but there has been an attempted murder, and democracy is presently held hostage.


Citizen Advocate: Objection. Your Honor, Ms. Brunwasser's question about waiver of trade secret rights presumes facts/conclusions not in evidence, it presumes the existence of the trade secret rights in the first place.  We object, and ask that the question be stricken from the record.

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Paul Lehto practiced law in Washington State for 12 years in business law and consumer fraud, including most recently several years in election law, and is now a clean elections advocate. His forthcoming book is tentatively titled DEFENDING (more...)

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