Political pundits in the corporate media and citizen journalists in the Blogosphere alike are all asking the same question: What happened in New Hampshire?
It's pretty easy to see what happened in New Hampshire: We had an election for which 81% of our ballots were counted in secret by a private corporation, and this resulted in an outcome that is called into question.
That's what happened.
New Hampshire holds exemplary elections in 45% of our polling places; elections where our paper ballots are counted by hand by our neighbors in full public view with 100% citizen oversight and checks and balances. These hand count elections, of which New Hampshire is the “hands down” expert, provide the only method known today that can guarantee open and honest elections. These are elections where every ballot, every vote, every mark made by the voter, is observed and tallied in full public view with multiple sets of eyes watching and checking and balancing each count.
New Hampshire already knows how to fix this problem. For the past four years, New Hampshire citizens have been asking the State to fix this problem, but the State has thus far refused. We don't need a recount now. What we need now is for the State to reconsider and implement procedural and legislative solutions to guarantee open and honest elections.
Beginning with our state Founders, civil rights activists have been fighting for open elections as the mechanism to protect our freedom and democracy. The New Hampshire Constitution mandates we sort and count our votes in open meeting. The New Hampshire Right to Know law, citing our Constitution, declares that the government derives its power from the people and therefore all government processes and information must be fully accessible to the people.
The United States Bill of Rights similarly asserts that the government derives its power from the people, who have the right to "alter or abolish" said government if it fails to act in our favor. Our right to "alter or abolish" peacefully comes through open and honest elections.
The Voting Rights Act of 1965 mandates observable vote counting.
But despite this long history of grassroots activism in support of free and open elections, New Hampshire has turned the majority of our elections into privatized affairs with no citizen oversight whatsoever.
Now activists around the nation are calling for a recount. In New Hampshire the manual recount has always been held as justification for holding elections in which more than 80% of our ballots are counted in secret by private corporations.
Does this logic hold up? Will a recount rectify the problem before us?
I say no. The problem before us is that we have outsourced the most precious thing in our democracy: the counting of our votes. And in New Hampshire, we have outsourced more than 80% of our votes to a private corporation counting those votes in secret, and, as it turns out, that private corporation has a convicted drug trafficker on its executive team to boot. A recount does not solve this problem.
Proponents and apologists of the privatized and computerized corporate elections often justify computerized elections saying how “easy” it is to corrupt a hand count election. They say, “But you can always swap out the ballots to get the count you want!”