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Straight from the Shoulder of Michael Shelby


Cast your ballots on manually counted paper ballots or don't vote at all in 2008. I'm joining the call for a total boycott of the 2008 elections unless the only ballot of record is a durable paper ballot that is manually counted.

After years of objections, thousands of scientific and peer reviewed studies, non-partisan government and private foundation reports, an array of books covering the use of electronic voting machines from numerous viewpoints, with Lou Dobbs, Keith Olbermann, and others in the corporate media casting serious doubt over the efficacy of corporate owned, secret software programmed, computer voting machines; following election integrity pioneer Bev Harris' HBO documentary tangibly proving the crisis . . . all of which has been driven by blogosphere heroes like Brad Friedman giving voice to tens of thousands of citizen advocates and millions of voters calling for honest and accurate elections; it's time we draw the line. No more electronic voting machines, ever!

I'm not the first to make this call for a return to sanity and a technology that will work far more effectively and efficiently than machine voting as it is mandated today. Bruce O'Dell justified a return to hand counted ballots in a brilliant series of articles at last October. Rob Krall, Op Ed News editor, joins in the call for a return for a sane and trustworthy elections process that, judging by the number and quality of the comments to his article, strikes an intuitive sense of what is the obvious solution to the current election quandary. Originator of the Still Voting? © boycott concept, Arizona candidate for Secretary of State, Ernest Hancock, an expert on the politics and personalities of voting in my state, has begun our movement for a paradigm shift in assuring our votes are accurately and honestly counted by dumping Diebold, Sequoia, and all the rest in favor of hand counting the ballots.

"You can observe a lot just by watching." -Yogi Berra -

In addition to being a veteran of the election integrity movement, I've worked as a roving poll observer in the last two elections employing Yogi's quote. The number of infractions, misinterpretations, training faux pas, security violations, and errors I observed was frightening. I also participated in and reported on Arizona's first ever manual audit of the general election. These experiences have given me a perspective on voting and counting the ballots that confirms a hand count is not inconceivable, impossible, or a non-starter discussion. Difficult, you bet, impossible, not at all. If you ask any public employed elections official, bureaucrat, or Director of Elections they'll be quick and absolute in telling you, "It can't be done! You'd never get a result, it would take to long, and the public wouldn't stand for the delay." In open testimony I've actually heard them say in what I believe comes from an utter fear of what they know is inevitable, making sounds like the whining of little girly men, "it's too much woooorrrrk . . . I'd have to work to looooonnng . . . I'd need too many peeeeople . . . they'd make too many mistaaaakes," yada, yada, yada! Poppycock! Tell them to shut-up and do the peoples business! Elections Directors are paid well to be professional managers. Their responsibilities are no different than those in a public, for profit corporation, they are there to solve problems and make the enterprise work at its most efficient and effective. We are the Members of the Board, they work for us and we pay their salaries through our taxes. So tell your elected representatives and the bureaucrats that you understand their concerns, educate them on the facts, and demand they get to work on the peoples demands.

"If you can't get your work done in 24 hours, you'll probably have to work at night." - Dr. George J. Seperich -

Hand counting ballots after a grueling 14 hour day at a polling place won't be easy. I know because in just the one race I counted in the farcical Arizona hand count audit of this last election, I experienced what it will require. Arizona had the nations largest ballot which was four filled pages. With all the national races, state races, municipal races, and "who the hell cares" judgeships to choose was added 19 different ballot initiatives. Clearly, some creative, out-of-the box thinking will need to be done to find accommodation and facilitation of a hand counted election. There will still be a big push for some form of rapid results electronic counting of the ballots. That's fine if they want to use an optical scanning system that could be applied as an adjunct check on the hand count of the ballots and provide a same day answer for the short attention span set and those who can't hold their water. The easy winning candidates could declare provisional victory, the close elections would at least have an idea of where the outcome might be trending, and the bureaucratic governmental machine could go about its business of assigning offices, committees, chairmanships, measuring the curtains, whatever. And what the Hell difference would a few days make from what is happening now? Today is nine days from Election Day and there are still races being counted because of malfunctioning electronic voting machines!

To be continued . . .
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Michael Shelby serves democracy as an aggressive progressive and "equal opportunity abuser". An independent election integrity activist in Arizona, he is also an active member of Progressive Democrats of America. A veteran of Vietnam era antiwar (more...)
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