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Elections Belong To The People: No One Can Conceal Our Right To Know How Our Votes are Counted

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Well that’s not exactly what happened.  It’s actually worse.  Even the government in most cases doesn’t know how the votes are being counted.  Only private voting vendors know and in some cases, a few trusted government officials are let in on the secret, but only if they agree to never tell the public.  Were that this was fiction. 

Elections Belong To The People:  No One Can Conceal Our Right To Know How Our Votes are Counted

I have been thinking a great deal about the fact that 49 of the seemingly united states of America have permitted private entities, claiming entitlement to a superior proprietary right to conceal information from the people about the one thing, if there ever was a one thing, they have absolutely no right to conceal:  Information about how our elections are run and how our votes are counted.

The genius of republican liberty seems to demand...not only that all power should be derived from the people, but that those entrusted with it should be kept in dependence on the people....-- James Madison, The Federalist, No. 37

I live in New York.  We don’t have DREs and we don’t have Optical Scanners counting our votes. We don’t have corporations running our elections, audaciously telling us we aren’t entitled to know how they have programmed their machines to process and count our votes.  But we’re about to unless we act fast to prevent that from happening.

Even before we had sunshine legislation recognizing the need for government to be more open and accountable to the people, the one means we always had of guaranteeing the accountability of the government was our elections.  It was the means by which we selected those who would represent our interests and if they did not we had the right, indeed the duty, to throw them out of office.

As corporate money has become part of the electoral process and our candidate choices less representative of our interests, it is easy to forget the very fundamental principle that elections are the means by which we hold the government accountable.  It is time for us to go back to basics and for the people to share that insight with our public servant government. 

The very idea that private entities should be so intimately involved in our democratic elections and to have the arrogance to assert that their source coding is proprietary --  meaning they have some paramount corporate right to claim their ownership over our information, shows us how dangerously far we have strayed from our foundational roots. 

Thinking about our foundational roots reminded me of an article I wrote a little over a year ago entitled, THE CONSEQUENCES OF IRRESPONSIBLE MEDIA: Americans Have Lost the Ability to Hold Their Leaders Accountable, republished on Op Ed News as:  Americans Have Lost the Ability to be our own Governors and can no Longer Consider Ourselves a Free People. In that piece, excerpted below, I warned about the dangers of monopolized media corporations controlling public information and the consequential demise of democracy:

Having fought a war to free themselves from an oppressive monarchy, the Founders were all too aware of the need to provide a means to guard against the return of one party rule. Madison and Jefferson in particular understood that the democratic experiment they struggled to create could only be protected if the power to choose their own government resided with the people. 

Madison’s recognition that “a people who mean to be their own Governors, must arm themselves with the power knowledge gives” resulted in the inclusion of the protection of the Freedom of Press in the Bill of Rights. Hence knowledge delivered through a free press became the lynchpin of the carefully crafted system of checks and balances they designed.  

The problem with the media being granted such monopoly status is that unlike other corporations which control more and more aspects of our lives, this one controls information. If the government wants war, a media system which relies on the government to continue to ignore antitrust notions, will sell war. It will also sell elections.

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