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Letter To NY's Governor Urging Him to Lead the Nation towards a Democratic Electoral System: Hand Count Paper Ballots

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August 10, 2007

The Honorable Eliot Spitzer

State Capitol
Albany, NY 12224

By Fax: 518 474 1513

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Re: A Democratic Electoral System

Dear Governor Spitzer:

Since the implementation of HAVA we have watched the demise of our publicly controlled electoral system in America. People believe that elections are run by their public officials who are of course accountable to them, but in fact elections are now controlled by private companies whose legal responsibility runs not to democracy, but to their profits. We know that vendors control our elections and conceal from the people any information about how their private computers are programmed to count our votes because 48 states1 currently use these vendors' electronic voting systems. We also know that elections are the ultimate check on power in a democratic society and that therefore the people must be able to observe and see that their votes are accurately counted. And yet in 48 state private vendors control the ballot materials and decide what we can see and what we can access, while asserting a proprietary right to conceal the information about how the computers are programmed to count the votes.

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Now California, under the bold leadership of their Secretary of State, has confirmed what voting activists have been saying for years: these electronic voting machines are too unsafe to vote on. The states, having spent millions of dollars on these machines, have been reluctant to admit what the evidence overwhelmingly shows– that they were sold lemons and that our elections are no longer free and fair. SOS Bowen has decertified the touchscreen DREs in California, but for a minimum to be used by the disabled. The first to bravely demonstrate the threat electronic voting machines pose to our sovereignty, she's struck the best compromise she feels she can by eliminating the worst of the theft-enabling machines and trying to better secure the paper ballot optical scanners (PBOSs). She is unfortunately stuck dealing with the millions already spent in her state on the DREs and PBOSs and the resistance of election officials who believe the simplest and smoothest way to run an election is using machines that are maintained and programmed by private companies.

But it has always been the responsibility of government, delegated to its election officials, to ensure that elections are honest and accountable, not merely smoothly run. This core responsibility of government cannot be handed over to private vendors. These computerized voting machines, which deprive the people of knowing whether their vote was counted, effectively serve to disenfranchise us and thus violate the constitutional right to vote, which right includes knowing that our vote was counted as cast.

The right of an elector to vote is conferred by the Constitution........[the elector] is entitled to see that his vote has been given full force and effect.....any method of holding an election which would deprive the electors..... of the right of casting their ballots and having effect given to the votes so cast would plainly be unconstitutional.

Deister v Wintermute, 194 NY 99, 108 (emphasis supplied)



New York must pick up where California left off. New York is the only state that has not yet wasted millions of dollars on these illegal machines and hence the only state not stuck dealing with a squandered investment. It has become necessary to act boldly and alone in order to preserve the freedom this nation has enjoyed for over 200 years. It is up to New York to remind the nation that we are a government of the people, by the people and for the people. It was indeed Abraham Lincoln who said, "Elections belong to the people. It is their decision".

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New York's legislature has abdicated responsibility and left it to the appointed State Board of Elections, permitting them to certify these machines that California's extensive independent testing have shown to be easily riggable. New York's current election laws permit the purchase of these hackable machines. They also permit the people's paramount right to access information about their elections to be subjugated to the vendors' proprietary claims. The undermining impact on democracy cannot be stated too strongly.

It is unfortunate that something as blatantly democratic as protecting citizens' fundamental civil right to oversee their elections and ensure that their votes are counted as cast should be seen as requiring fearless courage. It is extraordinary that New York's legislature would pass election laws that permit private vendors to conceal from the people the very information they must have if they are to retain control over their public servants, blatantly disregarding our pre-existing laws which recognize the most fundamental principle that:

It is essential to the maintenance of a democratic society that the public business be performed in an open and public manner and that the citizens of this state be fully aware of and able to observe the performance of public officials..... The people must be able to remain informed if they are to retain control over those who are their public servants. It is the only climate under which the commonwealth will prosper and enable the governmental process to operate for the benefit of those who created it.

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