The reason Black Box Voting could not support HR 550 was because the very nature of the bill, we believe, tends to undermine civil rights - and civil rights is not an area where it is wise to accept compromise.
HR 550 would institutionalize a half-measure that we will then have to lobby to undo. It attempts to "fix" a problem without ever vetting out how it became a problem in the first place.
There are other solutions that better protect our civil rights.
The right of ALL citizens must be preserved such that ANY citizen can authenticate the election. This fundamental right must apply to 100 percent of the ballots and must not be ceded over to any government agent, private corporation, scientist, statistician, or group.
In order to accept that our votes actually represent our voice, the citizenry needs to verify for themselves that one hundred percent of the votes were counted accurately. Any member of the citizenry must be able to verify that:
- Every registered voter has a convenient way to vote
- Every voter who has voted had their vote count as it was cast
Independent citizen oversight requires both tools and consequences. If the tools are withheld -- such as public records needed to audit the vote -- or if the act of voting is obstructed or overwritten, citizens need to be able to invoke consequences. This is not on the table yet.
Some say this is a shift in thinking, but it actually represents a shift BACK to the original intent. When we counted paper ballots at the precincts, every citizen could watch and oversee. We lost this basic civil right. It was taken from us without public notice and without our permission.
Thus, the massive shift is needed to RETURN our original rights, not to get new ones. When it comes to the fundamental civil right to verify the correctness of our own elections, EVERY CITIZEN MUST REMAIN EQUAL - whether you are a carpenter, a lawyer, the UPS delivery person or a retired grandmother.
Black Box Voting prefers to call those who take action "citizens" rather than the using the current terminology, "activists."
We should view our elections watchdog actions as ownership. We are the owners of this country and as such, must actively manage its affairs. Being an American citizen requires taking responsibility.
We've gotten great responses from citizens wanting to find their own voices. This is one of the reasons why the focus at Black Box Voting is on teaching citizens to use their voices independently. We are constantly amazed at the cleverness, innovation and effectiveness of citizens in making positive changes single-handedly.
Some say sure, teach people to use their voice but it's more important to make sure there is consensus.
We disagree. The American spirit is founded on both individual and collective genius. It becomes dangerous to democracy when issues are removed from debate or dissenters are marginalized due to a goal of "making sure there is consensus."
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