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Are Hand Counted Paper Ballots a Realistic Solution for 2008? Doesn't Democracy Deserve a Debate?

By       Message Paul Lehto     Permalink

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In this thread, I've previous challenged Dr. David Dill to a debate, her responds with an indication of a lack of interest in presenting different views via a debate, and I in turn respond to that. Given one of the most important bills in the history of democracy, it is odd to me that not only is there not a "Democracy Impact Statement", not only are there no "white papers" in the impacts of each statutory change, not only is there a refusal of Congress to discuss the more observable and transparent voting systems in favor of voting itself secret vote counts in their very own elections -- an unprecedented level of election corruption in America. Even with 92% support in Zogby polls, Congress appears committed to ignoring observable vote counting systems like Hand Counted paper ballots in favor of unobservable and secret electronic opscan and DRE ballots.

Doesn't Democracy Deserve a Debate? There could be 4 to 5 participants, not just David Dill and I. If you can write a polite email to Dr. Dill at dill@cs.stanford.edu and encourage him to debate with myself and others for the sake of democracy that would be good.
Doesn't democracy even deserve a League of Women Voter's pamphlet outlining the various positions on the issues, and given to each voter?
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Can't those of us working for fair elections systems, see the fairness in putting out a deliberative debate that lays out the policy choice and lets the voters decide? Why should any side of the debate, 100% of the time, just act like a special interest and further purely its own agenda and avoid debate? The Founders thought public discussion was a political duty. WIthout an informed America, democratic decisions suffer. I can not imagine that any voting activist, if they really reflect on what is important, would persist in resisting what is needed and necessary for a proper airing of the issues in this momentous time for American representative democracy. Indeed, we should all be sacrificing somehow to make an even handed presentation of differing views available so that americans can weigh in on an informed basis.
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If it is not so, then money is just going to have its way: those with money can amplify their message more loudly and broadly. Please encourage Dr. Dill and others to agree to a debate in the next 2 or 3 weeks at most.
Paul Lehto
plehto@psephos-us.org

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Paul Lehto <lehtolawyer@gmail.com>
Date: May 25, 2007 2:25 PM
Subject: Re: HCPB Realistic Solution for 2008? Fool me once, shame on me.....Re: are you advocating for HCPB only???RE: RE: Answers to the "definitive questions" posed by Sherry Healy
To: "David L. Dill" < dill@cs.stanford.edu>
David Dill, I regret that you are "only going to put minimal effort into debating". As a primary actor in this effort, if anyone owes a duty of public discussion as the Founders intended, you surely do. On November 4, 2000 President Clinton outlined the duty you seem to wish to avoid now, even as you are on the verge of very substantially altering the very machinery of our democracy, saying:
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"Justice Brandeis reminded us that "those who won our independence believed . . . that public discussion is a political duty; and that this should be a fundamental principle of the American government." His words caution that we must always tread carefully when considering measures that may limit public discussion -- even when those measures are intended to achieve laudable, indeed necessary, goals. As President, therefore, it is my obligation to protect not only our Government's vital information from improper disclosure, but also to protect the rights of citizens to receive the information necessary for democracy to work."

Note also that the First Amendment involves not only speech, but rights (and needs) of the public to receive information necessary for wise choices/for democracy itself to work. As some think this email format not working well, and it being internal to the movement, a more deliberative approach of a debate, which we could broaden perhaps to 4 or 5 parties overall, could serve these needs better.
On the other hand, the notion that there can be a comprehensive intervention if the people's elections in the form of HR 811 without a concerted effort to educate the people as to different points of view does not serve the people well. Each citizen deserves to hear various points of view so they can decide for themselves.
But instead of taking this democratic approach, you'd rather take advantage of how the debate is presently structured simply to scoff at HCPB and not to allow it even a place at the table of debate. Not to even be invited to the negotiation table of respectability is an anti-democratic value of exclusion (to be blamed on whoever is the source of this exclusion). I'd like to see Thomas Jefferson at the debate, and through quotes I could in part indicate what his attitude would be.
We purport here to create a FAIR elections systems, but can we do that through strategic limitations on debate, and by not making a reasonable attempt to inform the broader public on a systemic basis of differing views? Can we engage in education via debate, instead of the hotter and less formal email communication that reaches few? Surely the much wider audience is worth your time.
Indeed, even in a mere race for dogcatcher or state representative, it is deemed wise and desirable to send out a candidate's brochure to every voter showing position statements of the various candidates, such as those by the League of Women Voters. But such an approach is to be rejected when we are in the midst of a revolution in democracy's machinery?? We should all just act like special interest groups and jockey for our own agendas and elbow every other one out? This is not consistent with the ideals that brought any of us into the movement.
HCPB is an incredibly strong issue that is simply just censored. ESsentially, by allowing an observable first count the public can watch and therefore control, it is the only voting system that meets minimum standards necessary to preserve democracy. Yet you, DAvid Dill, scoff and laugh at what you assume is a lack of congressional support for it, even though I think you know quite well that there is strong PUBLIC support for it, shown as follows:.
The strength of a political issue is measured by the distance between public support and actual reality. in this case, public support for observable first counts is at 81% to 100% levels depending on the demographic and jurisdiction in question, according to Zogby polls in August and November 2006. Yet the only voting system, HCPB, that allows for observable first counts is not considered, it is only ridiculed as too much work etc.
I would imagine that those millions who worked their lives and even sacrificed their lives for representative democracy and the right to vote would be shocked and chagrined not only that secret vote counting would be ratified in HR 811, but that some primary leaders in a "transparency" movement would not deem it unworthy of their time to engage in a public debate in order to better inform the public about the options available.
Given such a huge disconnect between public opinion, in a country where the public is supposed to be in charge as master of the government servants, but the public servants refuse to introduce a bill like last session that would provide for HCPB -- preferring self-dealing secret counts in their own elections even though secrecy always invites corruption. Then these self-dealing congresspeople supposedly tell us (though I've never heard a direct quote, it is only claimed via activists) that a system with public checks and balances is not "realistic" -- i.e. HCPB is not "realistic".
This gives us extraordinarily important information about the nature of Congress as a corrupt institution that is hostile to the needs of democracy and the desires of we the people whenever they can deal themselves or their corporate contributers some fat contracts and secret vote counting privileges. Don't you think the public should be most directly informed about this?
But I choose to believe that a critical mass of people has not quite yet focused on the conflict of interest congress has when voting on its own elections, which ought to counsel them to back off an aggressive assertion of their secret vote counting "rights".
So why is it that this point of view deserves an airing neither in your own words, nor the words of your organization, nor even your presence in a debate -- when it is obviously a relevant election right that americans universally feel very strong about. If you are not willing to publicly talk about our inalienable rights, why are we involved in election reform at all? Aren't these issues important? They've not exactly been talked to death: verified voting doesn't bring up inalienable rights regularly at all.
Do you just want to win, and winning is more important than the health of democracy and democratic debate?
It matters a great deal what arguments are made and how they are framed, and I have to wonder why you are engaged in a course of rhetoric simply to discourage fellow activists rather than persuade -- such tacts are beneath the dignity of democracy which focuses on public discussion, not dismissals.
If you need an appearance fee of some sort, please tell me what it would be. Otherwise I think the extreme importance of democracy requires us to put aside notions of convenience or personality and do what's right for the public good, don't you? It would be for a very different audience than the limited audience here. It's purpose is not for us to necessarily persuade each other, but to provide informed viewpoints so that others can make informed choices as citizens. Without that, democratic decisions fail us.
Paul Lehto

 

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Paul Lehto practiced law in Washington State for 12 years in business law and consumer fraud, including most recently several years in election law, and is now a clean elections advocate. His forthcoming book is tentatively titled DEFENDING (more...)
 

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