Stop the Executive Branch from taking over our elections. H.R. 550/The
Holt Bill is dangerous to democracy. It should be amended (see below)
Common Cause, MoveOn.org, TrueMajority, VerifiedVoting.org, and several
large election reform groups are pushing - and pushing hard - for
passage of HR550 (the Holt Bill), national legislation aimed to amend
the Help America Vote Act. The bill is being sold as a way to put
"auditable paper trails" into national law. Sounds like a great idea.
But many activists disagree with the approach to support "paper trails"
that might be audited when what we want are real paper ballots that are
- not might be - counted.
The other problem with HR550 is that it is about much more than paper
trails. Read below the dangerous details that the groups pushing for
passage of HR550 "as written" aren't talking about.
The democratic processes of the American Republic are based on
decentralized power. Centralized power led to the American Revolution.
Centralized power is the antithesis of a government of the people, by
the people, and for the people.
1. Centralization of Executive Power-White House Control over Counting
the Votes: HR550 extends beyond the existing expiry date the power and
authority of the Election Assistance Commission (EAC), establishing a
Presidential Commission authorized to control the counting of votes in
every election--federal, state, and local--in the nation.
2. Centralization of Executive Power-Crony Appointments: The potential
for stacking of the EAC is evident in the scenario already played out
under the current Administration. In early 2006, the Bush White House
made numerous recess appointments, putting political cronies into
positions of power and authority without any Congressional oversight or
checks and balances. Of the eight recess appointments made on January
4, 2006, three were Commissioner to the Federal Election Commission.
Two of those appointed Commissioners are known for their opposition to
voting rights and clean elections. The third is a political crony of
Senate Minority Leader Reid of Nevada. (Nevada is now positioned to
take a lead role in the Democratic presidential nomination process. For
this privilege, Nevada has promised to play the nomination process by
Party rules, financed by the Casino industry.)
3. Centralization of Executive Power-Regulatory Authority: Federal
regulatory authority means the federal entity preempts state and local
authorities. The EAC was created as an advisory commission with one
exception: it was granted regulatory authority over the National Voter
Registration Act (NVRA). The EAC has been steadily positioning and even
suing to assert its regulatory authority in other areas under its
domain. Even if it does not succeed through litigation, the EAC could,
with the insertion of a single line of text in ANY congressional act,
become regulatory. This is how the FEC gained regulatory powers. A
regulatory EAC means that a Presidential Commission-potentially stacked
with political cronies-would have legal decision making and enforcement
power over the following areas, for every state in the nation:
- Which voting systems are approved for use in our elections
- Who counts the votes in every election
- How votes are counted in every election
- How recounts are administered and how their outcomes are determined
A recent editorial in the New York Times, entitled "Strong Arming the
Vote" (August 3, 2006) describes how the Department of Justice under
the Bush Administration has been heavily involved in partisan ploys to
negate necessary checks and balances in election practices. HR 550, if
passed as written, will establish a whole new arm of Executive power
with dangerous authority to subvert the entire democratic process of
elections that supports our system of government. It would result, in
effect, in a bloodless coup.
What should you support?
Here's an amended bill that might gain grassroots support:
We, the grassroots, can support the Holt Bill when it is amended to
remove those dangerous provisions that centralize Executive power and
expand Judicial election decision making authority. A Holt Bill that
amends HAVA and provides real solutions to the problems in our election
system need only include three items:
- The incontrovertible and legally defensible system of verifiable
elections through the use of real, voter-marked and verifiable paper
ballots (as distinguished from paper trails)
- The elimination of secret vote counting through the use of black box
- An extension of all HAVA mandated deadlines pending a complete
independent investigation, analysis, and audit of HAVA monies
distributed and spent on electronic voting systems, the outcomes
thereof, with said investigation including information on the most
advanced system of checks and balances for elections: hand counted