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Election Forum: Paul Lehto

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A very experienced San Diego activist, after participating in the CA manual audit process involving diebold touch screens, wrote: "If Holt could see this, he would certainly rewrite his Bill, and join others in true improvements to the voting system here and everywhere. This must be STOPPED." San diego has seen the Holt future and it is completely unacceptable. (the only "holt future' that matters is when a paper trail/audit regime is in the context of a contested election or controversy because that's when it really counts) I hope we can all withstand some debate and dissent because if we can't then democracy (which relies on both of those) is in deep sh*t if we are its main activist protectors. We shoudn't shrink from debate or controversy. So I woke up this morning and told myself to embrace democracy, read closely others' points, and articulate clearly my own on behalf of a full hearing for democracy. *If you have time only for a couple sentences, I hope you will read the San Diego activists' email at bottom that is in HUGE letters above and below for emphasis, based on her personal experience watching our second federal election audit in 2006 in San Diego, and my underlined paragraph below in bold, which attempts to explain the motivation for my persistence of the last day or two.* In the spirit of the above: I've heard a rumor that the Holt people are willing to entertain amendments/input in only three areas: 1. the audit % 2. extent of the EAC oversight 3. if paper is the vote of record, handling expected printer jams If the agenda is limited in this way or in any way, there's no practical difference between being "frozen out" completely and being included but having all of one's main potential ideas or input frozen out via the agenda process like the above. Being included is then a token feel good gesture. Seattle, where I've hailed from, considers itself king and queen of process and inclusion. I sat through monthly THREE DAY LONG MEETINGS of the board of governors of the state bar, on which i served, and we had lots of inclusive processes. If I have stamina, guess where it comes from? Three hour meetings don't phase me in the least, if there's coffee. This inclusion is done in the SELF-INTEREST of the bar association or whoever does it, not as a courtesy or honor to those included persons, because it neutralizes opposition by adopting their points, or some of them. It is in the self-interest of Holt's office to reach out to everyone on the other side because the more they do so the more it neutralizes the opposition. If they fail to reach out for any reason, they are just inviting those who have points of view to take positions of opposition that make things less smooth for all concerned (hey, that's democracy though) If the agenda is going to be thus limited, then throw some college students or something in there to get this experience as a resume' building opportunity with action verbs in the bullet points like "*Analyzed and drafted amendments to bill on election reform working closely with Congressional staff...."* which sounds better than picking up an extra shift at Burger King but in the end is BS and everyone who reads the resume' knows its BS. Dialog needs to be real dialog with all parties helping to set the agenda. *Hey, if in fact anyone in the history of this country ever died for democracy, (and frankly the answer to that is "heck yeah, they have" and it includes a lot of activists and suffragettes not to mention soldiers) then what possible right do we have to, right out of the gate, leave real "for sure democracy" on the cutting room floor without a vote or debate and start tweaking electronic voting via Holt as the only "realistic" plan?? You mean, lotsa people DIED but we don't want to get egg on our faces and go down on a vote or get rebuffed by a congressional office? Geez. Sorry if this annoys anyone, but I think in honor of the dead activists and soldiers, it needs to be said. That doesn't mean Plan B audits are not honorable to work on, it means why doesn't Plan A get A HEARING AND the old college try given that lots of people died for Plan A, full checks and balances democracy with public supervision of elections? At least we can all say that Plan A Democracy with public supervision of elections is a mighty fine thing, to keep its memory ALIVE....* If you start wondering why I seem "too" persistent or perhaps even "obnoxious" even though those who know me swear by my civility in general, please re-read the above underlined paragraph. I am not trying to say that others insufficiently care, I'm trying to connect their EXISTING conscience about things like the above, to THIS debate, that's all. I am not (necessarily) saying I am 100% correct. I am saying, however, is that Plan A sure as hell deserves a hearing and it deserves the letter of support from every activist and citizen in the land, who can then say in the same letter what their Plan B would look like if Congress does not deign Democracy Plan A to be fit for its American subjects any more. Yes, I wax sarcastic again, but only because (all together now): DEMOCRACY DESERVES A HEARING! SPECIFIC COMMENTS ON THE THREE AGENDA POINTS: *Under point 1, the audit % is already at two plus percent in the present Holt bill,* though it's unclear how under the present bill form the "or more" can be triggered or by whom it is triggered in the initial audit. Allowing the audit % to go higher seems like a clarifying amendment that doesn't necessarily change that much, since we are already at 2+%. The key thing with audits is that by transitioning from paper (full inspection at precincts) to audits (partial audit long after initial results locked in) we are in an extremely poor position, because all of our "verifying" information is a week or more late and many dollars short. The very name "audit" means we are by definition coming in days or weeks late and many dollars short. San Diego proves that paper trails with audits are miserable in any disputed election or hostile situation ( i.e. when it really matters) and are easily rendered meaningless. A really effective elections admin *needs to focus on REMEDIES, i.e. what the hell happens when the election officials, as they so often do, tell the activists or citizens to shove it? * Point 2. On EAC oversight, the central harm our country was founded against was self-perpetuating incumbents, i.e. tyrants. The EAC as part of the administration, particularly one fond of signing statements (though it doesn't matter which administration in principle) can not be trusted with the keys to the kingdom of elections, particularly the codes and passwords for source codes, etc. Point 3. If paper becomes the vote of record and DREs are expensive ballot printers, how do we insure that poorer districts or poorer precincts doen't have long bottlenecked lines on account of expensive machines forming bottlenecks or officials playing allocation games with machines like Ohio 2004? ** *MY QUESTIONS FOR MICHELLE MULDER OF HOLT'S OFFICE:* * What is the response of Mulder/Holt to (1) the San Diego experience, which has seen 2 federal elections unlike the rest of the country, and has had mandatory 1% audits and paper trails per CA law, and they find them totally unsatisfactory (see SD email excerpted below) and (2) what about Bush v. Gore partial recounts that are unconstitutional looking just like Holt audits and leaving Holt audits open to election challenge and a court-based resolution of the 2008 election?* First, the answer to (2) then finally the answer to (1) on San Diego is below *(Note: the following BUSH V GORE PARTIAL RECOUNT scenario would nullify all the benefits of Holt even if it worked in practice:) * (2) Because Holt paper audits trump the electronic count results, any Republican Lawyer worth his salt would claim that such a 2% or 3% Holt "audit" was in fact the equivalent of a partial recount of 2% or 3% of the votes, which is unconstitutional under Bush v. Gore. Wouldn't this at least mean that in a close 2008 presidential election, the election would again be decided in the courts, and quite possibly by the US Supreme Court and again for the Republicans, and for the same purported reasons as 2000? *FROM SAN DIEGO: On 11/17/06, voter BRS* wrote: > > > > What you wrote is beautiful; perfect. You argue Democracy's cause so very > well. > > I am writing-up what I am seeing at the San Diego RoV HQ; of exactly how > bleak the future will be if paper trails abound, as exemplified by the > painfully slow and expensive paper-trail vote-counting of the "random 1% > Audit" right now slinking along in the back rooms of Election HQ in San > Diego. > > If Holt could see this, he would certainly rewrite his Bill, and join > others in true improvements to the > voting system here and everywhere. This must be STOPPED. This is a > terribly inefficient and clouded process. > > Local RoV Mikel Haas will not allow us to film or video in the room, nor > anyone in the room to answer our questions. We have to write even the > simplest inquiry. This is anything-but "of, by, and > for The People". The woman in charge has gotten more taciturn each day. > They act as if they are a private company and the public has no business > there. > > I am looking for a person who qualifies as media, to get in and film this > scene. It has to be seen. > > BRS, > San Diego > ________________________________________________ > > from Paul Lehto, CA50 Action Group Attorney : > > We may soon see the hand of touchscreen voting manufacturers strengthened > greatly through legislation federally like the Holt bill, which would > institutionalize proven corrupt voting systems like the San Diego County > paper trail/audit system. Just ask the activists in San Diego if paper > trails and audits work - they are having to litigate just to try to get at > the paper trails in a disputed election, which will be a common result in > any disputed election. The only differences are that a meaningless 2% audit > would happen under Holt instead of a meaningless 1% CA audit, and source > code would be disclosed under Holt but the main threat is the equivalent of > a virus that is never a part of the source code. > > I can't stress enough that we've seen the (Holt) future in San Diego, > we've litigated the future in San Diego, it features exit poll discrepancies > according to Zogby and the elections officials > don't care they just trumped their checks and balances and meaningless tests > and audits. We know a lot more now, after TWO federal elections in San > Diego, and one nationally, about how elections will be under a "paper > trail/audit' regime, and it is completely self-defeating to favor a "paper > trail/audit" system as something to create 'voter confidence.'
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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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