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Open Letter to Congressman Ehlers

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From: David L. Griscom
Residence: San Carlos, Sonora, Mexico (not mailing address)
U.S. mailing address: 3938 E Grant Rd #131, Tucson, AZ 85712-2559

To: The Honorable Vernon J. Ehlers
2182 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515

15 April 2007

RE: The Holt Bill, HR 811

Dear Congressman Ehlers,

After long and careful consideration, I am asking you to OPPOSE The Voter Confidence and Increased Accessibility Act of 2007 (HR 811) because it is insufficiently protective of our democracy.

By way of introduction, I too have my Ph.D. in physics. I am a Fellow of the American Physical Society and also of the American Ceramic Society, where I listened to you speak at an annual meeting about a decade ago. I retired from the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, DC, in 2001 after 33 years of civilian service and took up a succession of invited professorships of research at the Universities of Paris-6, Lyon-1, and St-Etienne in France and Tokyo Institute of Technology. Subsequently I was Adjunct Professor of Materials Science and Engineering at the University of Arizona before moving to Mexico.

While I see very many reasons to reject HR 811 (too many to have any hope of easy correction by amendments), I will emphasize only the following three here:

I. Touch screen voting machines (DREs) must be abolished because the only record of cast votes is electronic, making it impossible for "We the People" to know for sure how many votes were truly cast for each candidate. "Toilet-paper" roles of thermal paper are seldom verified by the voter, cannot be proven to correspond to the electronically recorded vote, are not durable, and will probably never be audited. Moreover, the blind and handicapped realize that there are far better systems than DREs available to enable them to vote http://www.huffingtonpost.com/brad-friedman/blind-disabled-voters-fi_b_43450.html.

II. Optical scanners must also be abolished. They are actually worse than DREs because they give a false impression of invulnerability to electronic election fraud by virtue of the ability to audit and/or recount the paper ballots inside them. Unfortunately however, recent history has shown that (1) the memory cards on the optical scanners are easily hackable (as are the GEMS central tabulators), (2) the public is led to believe that the first (machine) count is accurate and that anyone contesting the vote is a "sore loser," (3) the courts commonly deny lawsuits requesting hand recounts or delay their decisions until the matter is moot, and (4) election officials have been convicted of rigging supposedly random recounts. Please check the following link to understand the breadth and depth of my personal familiarity with these issues and how they all fit together: http://www.opednews.com/articles/opedne_michael__070313_the_long_road_to_dem.htm

III. The Election Assistance Commission absolutely must be abolished because its members are presidential appointees – a flagrant conflict of interest. In the April 12th issue of the New York Times http://www.nytimes.com/2007/04/12/washington/12fraud.html I read that the EAC "played down" consultants' reports showing little evidence of "voter fraud" (a "two bit" individual activity with minimal national impact). This is the same EAC that has never, ever decried the possibility of ballot box stuffing by small groups of colluding poll workers (a "retail" activity with potentially larger impact than voter fraud) – or the vulnerability of all electronic voting systems to hacking by a small number of insiders (a "wholesale" activity with the potential to alter the vote nationwide!).

I am among those who believe that there are certain inalienable rights flowing from the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, which include at their heart the right of "We the People" to remove any government that ignores our wishes. In order to accomplish this right peacefully, "We the People" also have the right to know as certainly as humanly possible that our votes are actually being counted as we cast them. Secret counting within the guts of voting machines and computers that are invisible to the public but easily accessible by the companies that manufacture them and/or other insiders, denies us this right!

In summary, I believe that HR 811 cannot be sufficiently amended to alleviate these threats to our democracy. Therefore I urge its abandonment.

Thank you very much for considering these thoughts.

Very truly yours,

David L. Griscom

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Ph.D. in Physics, Brown University, 1966. Fellow, American Physical Society. Fellow, American Association for the Advancement of Science. Fellow, American Ceramic Society. Research Physicist at Naval Research Laboratory (NRL), Washington, DC, (more...)
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