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SB1557- A Day of Tragedy for Democracy in Arizona

By Michael Shelby, Arizona Citizens for Election Reform  Posted by Joan Brunwasser (about the submitter)       (Page 1 of 1 pages)   No comments
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I've attached the testimony I would have given at today's Senate Judiciary Hearing Chaired by Senator John Huppenthal (R) from LD 20. I was signed up to speak but not called. I wrote this after receiving the amendments to SB1557 that Chairman Huppenthal introduced at the last minute (the amendment is dated 2/13/06 12:13PM; the hearings were scheduled for 1:30 PM) and while other proceedings were in progress. Previously, the Chairman had said he was refusing to even hear the bill which would have allowed it to die in committee. I can only assume that the volumes of emails, phone calls, and letters from interested voters he received on Friday and over the weekend, caused him to change his mind to hear the bill. Carolyn Maxon who, along with Dan Gutenkauf had been working with the bills author Sen. Karen Johnson (R), had spent the morning with Sen. Huppenthal and "negotiated" a reasonable change from which to begin negotiations on the full floor. Before the hearings began, Chairman Huppenthal disingenuously said to my face that his amendment was only a starting point for negotiations. What he actually presented 45 minutes before the start of the hearings was a gutted, lifeless, amorphous, glob of useless goo designed to make elections in Arizona a sham and more easily stolen.

This has been a day of tragedy for democracy in Arizona. I am carefully reconstructing the day, the amended bill, and the next steps to be taken for the story I want to tell. Not only did Sen. Huppenthal corrupt a well constructed bill, he and most of the Republican senators treated it and us with disdain. Even my own Democratic senator, from my district, whom I work with as the district secretary, treated me as if I was a naive boob. Not that I am not when it comes to the inner workings of the legislature, but none of us are unintelligent children to be dismissed as too naive or too ignorant of the "ways of the great and glorious OZ!"

Amended SB1557 (attached) has been reduced from 4,079 words to 1,601 or by over 60%! Some of the substance ofn the "field dressing" of SB1557 is included in my would have been remarks. Dan Gutenkauf made an excellent presentation and put into the record evidence and exhibits some dating back to 2000 when it was known that the machines don't work and some back further than that. I will be acquiring a transcript of the hearing tomorrow so that I can carefully construct the major points of the day accurately (my tape recorder failed and my two digital recorders are packed. Guess I'll have to get a third for now).

On a more entertaining note I relate the following anecdote. As the Chairman and Senators were railroading this amended bill through one senator, Sen. Dean Martin (republican man-child of the soft and squishy variety), even tried to slip in a quickie "NO" voice vote that would have just killed the whole thing right then and there. But, he started citing two amendments from the wrong bill and had to sheepishly withdraw, never be heard from again. However, when the amended bill was brought to a vote and passed, the horror and travesty of it all was just too much for me and I shouted out, "What railroad did we just get on! This is OUTRAGEOUS!" Chairman Huppenthal gave me a look that could kill, gaveled me vociferously, and had security remove me from the hearing room. The police office then banished me from the building and I left without further incident to stand in the courtyard between the two houses and wait. What I was told happened as a function of my little outburst was that instead of the voice vote only, the senators were forced to a role call in which each one had to be identified to their vote individually and had opportunity to explain their vote. I am awaiting the transcripts to determine who voted and how. There is some confusion as to whether or not the democrats voted in favor of the amendment. Oh, about three hours after my expulsion and after 5PM, I re-entered the Senate Building to go to the clerks office to request the transcripts of the hearing. I had just made the request when my new best police buddy rushed into the room with two other officers for back-up, flipped his badge open and said, "Maybe I didn't make it clear who I was. You are trespassing and if you don't leave right now you are going in handcuffs." I looked at him and said, "But I get to come back tomorrow right?" He said I could and "Elvis left the building!" The day for arrests, handcuffs, and peaceful civil disobedience is coming, but I won't be going alone.

So, long story short, TOO LATE!!!, I'll be putting together an article for late tomorrow or a Wednesday deadline.

*What I would have said:

Mr. Chairman and Senators, I rise today in support of Senate Bill 1557 (SB1557).

The amendments proposed by Chairman Huppenthal utterly and totally gut Sen. Karen Johnson's (R) finely crafted bill to restore accuracy and trust in Arizona's elections. I estimate that over 75% of SB1557 is being summarily dismissed with nothing of substance offered to restore election integrity.

The amendment removes the ability to have a statistically significant verification of voting machine accuracy and veracity.

The amendment removes the ability to provide the voter with a durable, verifiable paper trail.

The amendment makes conditions that would trigger a recount so ludicrous as to be something of fantasy . . . or the fondest wish of any person or group who would seek to manipulate an election.

The amendment blocks transparency and safety by removing the requirement for open source code of electronic machines, thereby, allowing the continuing privatization of elections.

And there is less to this amendment, much less that must be restored.

Mr. Chairman, Senators""election integrity is not a partisan issue; election integrity is a civic responsibility. If you have been following the problems with elections across the nation, in Arizona, and in your own Legislative District 20, Mr. Chairman, you know this is not a responsible amendment. Your amendment represents a total absence of integrity towards restoring confidence, transparency, and honesty in Arizona's election process.

This cannot . . . this will not stand without a fight from the citizens in this room, those who receive our messages and react to our calls to action, and soon, very soon, the citizens of Arizona who are beginning to awaken to the ignorance, insensitivity, incompetence, and insincerity of our elected officials to protect our sacred right to accurate and honest elections.

Mike Shelby
Arizona Citizens for Election Reform
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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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