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The road to Boondoggle was paved with good intentions

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Message Bev Harris
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HELP AMERICA VOTE ACT (HAVA) LOBBYIST LIST

Question: What happens if you lobby a lawmaker for $4 billion in expenditures for touch-screen (DRE) voting machines and go back to that same lawmaker two years later asking to dump DREs?

Answer: You lose credibility. It might be hard to lobby for other things. It's politically embarrassing. And your members, or funders, might have a few questions to ask about the prudence of your lobbying expenditures.

BUT HOW COULD ANYONE HAVE KNOWN?

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The road to voting computers was paved with good intentions. No one knew that some of the programmers for voting computers would turn out to be convicted embezzlers.
http://www.bbvforums.org/forums/messages/2197/14318.html

No one realized that the main sponsor of the HAVA bill -- Rep. Bob Ney -- would end up going to jail on corruption charges.
http://www.bbvforums.org/forums/messages/8/46466.html

Few realized that the federal testing labs, Ciber and Wyle, weren't doing their jobs and their overseers -- NASED and now the EAC -- failed to check their work.
Wyle failures (Bowen Hearing): http://www.blackboxvoting.org/itahearing.pdf
Ciber failures: http://www.bbvforums.org/forums/messages/8/46428.html

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HAVA bought a lemon.

WHO BIT INTO IT?

Progressive public interest groups. Labor unions. Civil rights groups.

While many election reform activists are under the impression that touch-screen (DRE) voting machines were some sort of Republican plot to take over America, the truth is that lobbying for the DRE-seeking "Help America Vote Act" came primarily from the foundation of the Democratic Party itself.

Activists throughout America have expressed surprise at the Democratic Party's unwillingness to pull DREs off the shelf. One reason is simply this: To do so would damage the credibility of those who lobbied for HAVA. And those who lobbied for HAVA just happen to be the biggest funders and activist workhorses for the Democratic Party itself.

WHO INVESTED THEIR CREDIBILITY (AND MEMBERSHIP FUNDS) TO LOBBY FOR HAVA?

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1. Public interest groups - mostly progressive
2. Labor unions
3. Minority rights groups
4. Disability rights groups
5. Industry

Of these, the first four tend to favor Democrats but the fifth group -- industry, the group charged with writing the computer code that counts America's votes -- is made of of vendors that are more often close to the Republican Party.

Democrats lobbied HAVA in but to a large extent, Republican-affiliated vendors executed the mechanics of the plan. Some would call this comical; others, tragic.

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Bev Harris is executive director of Black Box Voting, Inc. an advocacy group committed to restoring citizen oversight to elections.
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