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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 3/11/12

Fitzwilliam, NH to Vote on Prohibiting Concealed Vote Counts

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On March 13, 2012 residents of Fitzwilliam, NH will vote on the following Town Warrant article to decide whether or not it becomes town law:

ARTICLE 16. (By Petition) Shall the Town of Fitzwilliam prohibit vote counting concealed from the human eye by method of computerized voting machines, tabulators or other electronic devices and require that all methods used for sorting and counting the votes in all elections be publicly observable for full citizen oversight of the entire voting system? (The secrecy of vote casting shall be maintained)

Fitzwilliam, NH Town Hall by http://www.waymarking.com/waymarks/WM1EX0_Fitzwilliam_NH
At the March 13th Town Meeting, resident Terry Garcia will deliver the following remarks in support of this article.

My name is Theresa Garcia and I have been a resident of Fitzwilliam for 9 years. I am standing before you today because I have a real concern with the voting process we use.

One major concern is protecting our ability to exercise our constitutional rights. Part II, Article 32 of the New Hampshire Constitution states that votes are to be counted in open public meeting. This has been denied us because the computerized voting machine conceals the vote count. Do you know that this computerized machine is controlled by a private corporation?

Let's look at this process. We know that we have a paper ballot. What is the problem?

Yes, there is a paper ballot but, we, the public, have no right to check or examine ballots against the computerized machine. This is because our legislature passed a bill HB 627 which exempts ballots from the Right to Know law of our NH Constitution; this means that we have no right to check our vote count. What was our Legislature thinking?  . What good is a paper trail of our ballots when we cannot count them to verify the computerized machine that is controlled by a privately owned corporation?

The computerized machine also tabulates the results on a tape but we have no idea as to whether our votes were tabulated correctly because the whole process is kept secret.

Well, you might say, So what if this is a private corporation which keeps everything secret. Why not just trust this voting machine vendor? We trust computerized banking, the internet, and the Registry of Motor Vehicles. Why shouldn't we trust them? Well, I will tell you why we should not trust this privately owned computer company. . The computerized banks, internet, and Retgistry of Motor Vehicles information can be verified. There are checks and balances. We can't verify anything on the computerized voting machines---even fraud cannot be detected.

Yes, we can verify that the computerized voting machine is there when we put our ballot into it. Yes, we can verify that we put our ballot into the computerized machine. However, we cannot verify what the privately owned corporation has done with our vote.

We have handed over our constitutional rights and democracy to a privately owned corporation and, up to this point, have questioned nothing. Does this make sense?

So, you might ask, "How do we solve this problem?"

It is very easy. We vote to go back to hand counting. We have approximately 1400 registered voters in Fitzwilliam. The petition for this article includes 29 people who would be willing to volunteer to count votes by hand. They know that it is our duty to have honest and fair elections and are willing to help our town officials .

We have a duty to protect our vote count. Thomas Paine wrote: The right of voting for representatives is the primary right by which other rights are protected In other words, if we lose the ability to protect our votes, we lose all our rights. Please vote yes for Article 16.

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