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BlackBoxVoting's Bev Harris Tackles the Holt Bill, Part Two

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Joan Brunwasser
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Welcome back for the second half of my interview with BlackBoxVoting's Bev Harris. If people in the EI [Election Integrity] movement have serious reservations about the Holt Bill, Bev, why don't you just talk with Rep. Holt and give him your input? Who knows more about this than the actual people who have been in the trenches all these years?

Mr. Holt doesn't have the slightest interest in anything I have to say -- or anyone else advocating for restoration of public right to see and authenticate all steps in our own elections. What we are looking for won't line the pockets of the e-voting industry (and all the related little support industries that have developed). In fact, the kinds of solutions that will move us towards restoration of public elections:

1) Can be done without a federal bill

2) Don't involve an investment of a few billion more dollars, and therefore are unattractive to corporate lobbyists who feed the pigs at the trough.

3) Don't involve expensive ongoing maintenance fees and never-ending ancillary costs, so will not appeal to the "elections industry."

All good points for taxpayers, but decidedly not selling points for many in the US Congress.

Boy, are you cynical! We don't have to reinvent the wheel here. We're not the first country to struggle with juggling electronic voting and democracy. How have other countries dealt with this?

So glad you mentioned that! Yes, other countries have struggled with electronic voting. And they've dumped their e-voting. Germany, for example, flat out got rid of its electronic voting system in 2009, after the German high court ruled that concealing any essential election process from the public is unconstitutional.

Ireland has also dumped its evoting machines, and the Netherlands as well.

Citizens in India have begun to have a lively rights-oriented debate as well, though (like the USA), India has a vast and diverse infrastructure and mega-profit potential for evoting, and (like the USA), India has a corruption problem. A difference is that Indian citizens do actually talk about the corruption of government insiders, whereas in the USA -- despite literally hundreds of news articles from all over the country which document corruption and fraud by public officials -- many activists feel it is taboo to bring up the subject of insiders tampering with elections.

We have to get over that hurdle. Democracy was conceived of BECAUSE our founders understood full well that power corrupts, and that the people must at all times remain sovereign over, and vigilant towards, those who serve us as public servants. If we become inattentive, they warned us, our governors will become wolves.

Our form of government is based on DISTRUST of government insiders. It seems particularly insidious to call this election reform bill the "Voter Confidence Act," since bestowing "confidence" and "trust" in our public officials is exactly the opposite approach as that envisioned by our founders.

You raise an interesting question, Bev. Exactly how do we educate the public that it's in our best interest to be suspicious in order to safeguard what is left of our democracy?

I don't think this is the key message we need to be educating the public about. We need to focus on educating the public about our fundamental RIGHTS as they apply to elections. Just as the public now understands the concept that a "public meeting" means that any person can show up to watch, videotape etc. to authenticate what went on in the meeting, the concept of a "public election" means that any person has the right to watch and authenticate any essential step.

When people express concern about the legitimacy of the voting process, we need to teach them to articulate what's really wrong with it. If we can't see and authenticate every essential step in our elections, we have ceded all power over to government insiders. And if the people cede power to the government, we cease to have a democracy.

You know, people often express frustration to me because their election officials just won't listen to them when they express concerns about the voting machines.

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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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