There's a reason "tort reform" is almost as high on right wingers' priority lists as abortion, gay marriage and stem cells. After the cultural wedge issues that pull in the evangelicals, the real money behind the far right-- corporate lobbying and influence buying takes over.
Tort reform goes hand in hand with industry regulations. This might not be obvious, but big industry loves certain kinds of regulations-- the kinds that set limits.
When the average person thinks of industry regulations we might think about rules to make products, workers, the environment and citizens safer. But corporations worry about making themselves safer, and freer to do what they want. When legislators pander to corporations, they create regulations which specify what can and can't be done. They usually leave huge holes in what CAN be done, and that way, the regulations are used to open up massive opportunities for corporations to exploit. Enron was a great advocate of industry regulations. They'd lobby for rules and then work within and around them, all legally, to rape and plunder state treasuries.
Tort reform is touted by the right as a cause for increased health expenses and product costs. This is a lie. Malpractice insurance, when restrained, does not hold down health insurance costs. That's a fact.
The real truth is that businesses don't want to deal with being responsible or liable for damages or injuries they cause. If they can get laws created that protect them, regardless of their guilt, then they can take risks, which hurt others, with impunity.
That said, one way that voting integrity activists and candidates who have been the victims of vote theft, or whoe even suspect it, can take action is to sue the manufacturer of the machine that was used in their district or state. That's what CHristine Jennings is doing in Sarasota Florida, where 18,000 votes for the congressional slot "disappeared." Let's not forget that this is infamous vote theft perpetrator, Katherine Harris's congressional district.
Now, considering that voting machine manufacturers refuse to open their source code and very often plan an intimate role in managing, maintaining, operating and processing the results of the vote machines, this kind of litigation makes sense. I'd like to see hundreds, even thousands of lawsuits brought against the manufacturers.
I've heard that some election venues have asked candidates to agree not to sue. This is outrageous and no candidate should ever give up that right.
I would not be surprised if the machine manufacturers require, or at least ask for, in their sales contracts, agreements from the counties, townships, etc., not to sue, or worse, to take responsibility or indemnify the manufacturers for any lawsuits brought against the vote machine companies. Any county or municipality that is stupid or irresponsible enough (with bad enough legal counsel) to agree to such terms deserves to pay the expenses and damages for any such lawsuit. In my county, the county supevisors decided, along party lines, to purchase touchscreen machines.
If the voting machine manufacturer were to be sued and if the county had indemnified the manufacturer, I'd expect that to be a major issue when the next elections come up.
If enough candidates choose to file suits against manufacturers, and like Jennings, also file suits against the Secretaries of state and other election officials in the state, perhaps these crooked, partisan operators will reconsider the whole business of vote theft and the role they play-- producing the machines, buying them, making crooked counts official...
There are several pieces of legislation wending their way through congress-- HR 550 by Rush Holt, now, generally seen by most voting activists as inadequate, and Dennis Kucinich's HB 6200, which has the muscle needed, but which is limited only to presidential elections. THe Kucinich bill should be expanded to cover all elections. Democracy starts with clean elections at all levels.
Paul Rogat Loeb argues for the need for both strong local and national laws against election and vote abuses.
"Imagine if the Republicans risked jail for making misleading Robocalls into Philadelphia or Cleveland, Houston, Miami, or Albuquerque, or for telling voters they'd be arrested for voting while being behind on their rent. Imagine if they ran this risk whether or not the Feds intervened." And, "We still need strong national laws to safeguard elections in Republican controlled states-Florida, for instance, has continued its voter purges, and instituted draconian procedures and penalties that have made it virtually impossible for groups like the League of Women Voters to even begin major registration drives"
If these laws are created with real "teeth," they will enable victims-- candidates, voters, municipalities, counties, states, etc. to go after the collaborators in corrupting the vote, whether it's rigging, voter role purges, robocalling, etc.
The other guys are playing for keeps, and when they win by cheating, people die (Iraq, toxic environment, lax drug laws, worker safety, etc.) The stakes are so high, we need to be able to go after these criminals with every legal tool possible. Democracy, freedom, human rights and human safety are on the line.