Dear People For the American Way,
I have given a lot of thought to this issue and can't understand how PFAW could possibly support the Holt Legislation. As it says at your website in defense of your support for the Holt Bill " Everyone agrees that the status quo is unacceptable". That is correct. It is unacceptable to be forced to vote on electronic machines which count the votes in an American election in secret and which machines have been shown by study after study to be easily hacked. This coupled with the evidence of theft of the last 4 elections, a period which has seen perhaps the greatest destruction of American democracy in its history, is indeed unacceptable.
The obvious conclusion is that Americans cannot be forced to vote on machines which count the vote in secret and steal our elections. Our right to protect our elections is non negotiable and must be restored. HAVA must be abolished. Instead the Holt bill not only supports these enabling machines, but hands over control of our elections to a corrupt White House that has taken over the country against the will of the people.
I read through your defense of this bill as contained in your FAQ. Essentially what you have to say is- these are bad times and this is the best we can get and it's better than what we have. Better is irrelevant if the elections can continued to be rigged, which is of course irrefutable so long as we vote on machines that can be programmed to count our votes other than cast.
This analogy came to mind. I thought what else does "everyone agree is unacceptable". Cigarette smoking in public is a good one. Not only can it kill the one smoking, but second hand smoke can kill everyone else if cigarette smoking in public is permitted. So long as we are inhaling cigarette smoke (or required to inhale others cigarette smoke) we're not going to survive very long (sort of like the way democracy is going with computerized voting).
One response to deal with the hazards of cigarettes is to ban cigarettes (particularly in light of all the studies and evidence which demonstrate that there's no way to make cigarette smoking secure enough to ensure it won't kill you (not dissimilar from all the studies about the ease with which electronic voting machines can be rigged to kill democracy). Others might take the position that while cigarette smoking can kill us, maybe we need to take a different approach to the hazards since many of us have invested a lot of time and money in becoming cigarette smokers, particularly those who sell the cigarettes (who have made even more than those who sell the voting machines, but it's early in the voting vendor industry).
What if we passed a bill requiring all cigarettes to contain paper filters that would audit the amount of cancerous materials we were ingesting. That way we could verify that indeed the cigarettes were hazardous to our health. We could then check that auditable paper filter against a lung cancer detection scanner electronic tally and make that data available to the public. That would definitely be an improvement. I mean it's better than not having any way at all to verify that the cigarette smoke is hazardous to your health (aside from all the studies which already exist and the hundreds of thousands of people who have been disenfranchised, I mean died of lung cancer).
Below is what the PFAW/ FAQs says about why it is supporting the Holt Bill (if you just read all the language in black). What I've put in parentheses in black is the PFAW language that I propose be substituted for what I put in italics in red. I think when read with my substitutions, the 'not so different differences within the advocacy community' that PFAW would disingenuously minimize as such, becomes clearer.
I hope this analogy serves not only a bit of humor in these dark times, but to highlight why the approach of the Holt supporters is no solution at all (this analogy doesn't even get into the federal expansion of power little difference).
If you read through these Questions and Answers by reading everything not in parentheses and it doesn't make sense to you, you'll understand why I believe PFAW's support for the Holt Bill contributes to the death of our democracy.
Q: It seems like there’s some discord in the anti-cigarette cancer-free (voter) advocacy community—PFAW, Common Cause, Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, Electronic Frontier Foundation, Vote Trust USA, and tobacco (election technology) experts like Mr. Phillip Morris (Avi Rubin and Ed Felten) support the bill, and others, like Black Lung Prevention (Box Voting) or Brad Friedman of BradBlog have been critical of you for doing so. Can you explain your differences?
A: Well, in this case, there are a lot more areas of agreement than disagreement. Everyone agrees that the status quo is unacceptable—that in 2008 we can’t permit cigarettes to be made the way they are now where 18,000 people just disappear - a polite way of saying die from lung cancer (have another Sarasota-like election where 18,000 ballots just disappear). We agree that there’s a need for cigarette smoking (election) reform at the federal level. We agree that (paperless voting) public cigarette smoking has got to end—there has to be a disclosure which tells people this can kill them and everyone around them who inhales the stuff (paper trail that must be used for recounts and audits). The basic principle is the same—every American citizen should be able to exercise his or her right to not die (vote) —and that right shouldn’t be taken away because a corporation profits (machine fails). That’s what we’re all fighting for in the best way we know how. And it’s PFAW’s and others’ judgment that the Holt bill is a strong first step in that direction. Now there are some areas of disagreement within our community about specific policy questions—for example, whether public cigarette smoking (electronic voting machines, or “DREs,)”should be banned completely—and these specific areas of disagreement are discussed below.
The key point is that men and women of good will are going to disagree on some of the provisions of this bill—that’s true of every piece of legislation. But we think and hope that we all agree that we must take action. The status quo is unacceptable.
Q: Why are you supporting the Holt Bill?
A: We’ve had substantial numbers of people dying of lung cancer (election problems) in the U.S. in recent years, and public cigarette smoke (voting machines) has(ve) been a big part of the problem. In Sarasota, Florida, last year, more than 18,000 people (votes) disappeared or died from lung cancer and there was no paper warning telling them they or the people around them would die a horrible death if they kept smoking (on electronic machines that didn’t produce a paper trail). And Sarasota was hardly the only place with problems. Indeed significant deaths were also reported throughout the country but particularly in Ohio. So the status quo is unacceptable. Permitting Americans to die because private corporations have knowingly engineered a product so that it will deceive smokers (Unverifiable, unauditable elections) simply isn't good for the survival of the nation (don’t work), and it’s time for change. The Holt Bill is a big step forward in correcting these problems, by making sure all cigarettes have filters which verify the amount of cancerous materials one is sucking in and blowing out onto one's fellow citizens while ensuring that smoking (voting) is accessible to all, including those smokers (voters) with disabilities or language needs. The bill makes many improvements to the status quo: verifiable paper filters (ballots), mandatory audits of one's lungs, requiring that the patients (source code) can be examined, etc.
Q: But doesn’t the Holt Bill legalize public cigarette smoking (DREs)?
A: Public Cigarette smoking (DREs) is (are) already legal, including those filter(paper)less cigarettes (DREs) that are unauditable --in other words, no way to audit how much contamination we're sucking in without those paper filters--. The Holt Bill requires all cigarettes (electronic voting systems) to provide a paper filter (trail) that smokers (voters) can verify before they leave the planet (polling place), and requires mandatory audits, comparing the paper filter records to the computer lung cancer detection scanner tallies. If there is any discrepancy between the paper filter records and lung cancer detection scanner electronic tallies, the paper filter record is the official result (ballot) to be counted on to predict the death of the patient/voter/democracy. Only those cigarettes (DREs) that provide such auditability and verifiability are permitted under this bill.
Q: Why does PFAW support the use of public cigarette smoking (DREs)
A: PFAW/F supports public cigarette smoking (voting systems) that is (are) verifiable and auditable, as well as accessible to all voters. Such (systems) may include cigarettes (DREs) with verifiable auditable filters (trails), paper filters (ballots) read by lung cancer detection (optical) scan tabulators, or other (ballot marking) devices. While cigarettes (DREs) with auditable filters (trails) may not be the right technology for every jurisdiction, they can provide some smokers and smoking voters, particularly those with disabilities as a result of being exposed to others cigarette smoke for years (and language needs), with enhanced access to know how soon they're going to die from the exposure. Other civil rights groups, in their expertise, have time and again stated that cigarette smoking (electronic voting) enhances the chance of dying of lung cancer (access) to the smoker (ballot for voters) particularly those with disabilities as a result of having smoked these "legal" cigarettes for a long time (and language needs). Jurisdictions with large numbers of such smokers and smoking voters—particularly those with exposed (diverse) communities (with different needs, or multiple minority languages)—should have the flexibility to utilize the best technology that will serve their smokers and smoking voters, while also maintaining standards of integrity. There is no need to compromise access to the information of how much cancerous particles one's breathing in for eligible smokers and smoking voters in order to improve data integrity. Technology as it presently exists, and as it is being developed for the near future, is consistent with both ideals.
Andrea T. Novick, Esq.
Finder Novick Kerrigan LLP
315 Park Avenue South
New York, New York 10010
Election Transparency Coalition, www.etcnys.org, http://nylevers.wordpress.com/