“The Power of One, the Power of Many”
The December 5, 2007 broadcast of Voice of the Voters was the usual roller coaster ride. Between her powerful guests and Mary Ann Gould’s pointed questions the listener experienced the entire spectrum of truth, from the ridiculous to the almost miraculous.
The broadcast began with inspiration provided in the wonderful song, “The Power of One”. Performed by recording artist Bomshel, the lyrics speak of the bravery and character of Rosa Parks, the lone resolve of a youthful Anne Frank, and the courage and strength of Jesus. The notion about the power of the individual has inspired many stories of solo endurance and success. The novel, “The Power of One”, written by Bryce Courtenay is the story of survival and growth of the title character, Peekay, as he endures the brutal treatment of 1930’s South Africa, yet emerges strong and purposeful. These are all tough acts to follow, but they are also a standard to shoot for.
Following the music, the first guest to speak was Renee Steinhagen, Executive Director of the New Jersey Appleseed Public Interest Law Center. She spoke about the concept of statistical audits, paper trails and provisional ballots, that latter of which is not included in the election night results. Certainly, another piece of evidence that says we are in too much of a hurry to see who won! There is no constitutional requirement for instantaneous results, and there is no practical modern justification or need for same night results. Accuracy over speed should be the priority. What’s next, drive-thru voting? Don’t laugh, America likes fast and easy….scary as it is, if this electronic mindset is not arrested now, touch screen drive-thru voting could happen.
Ms. Steinhagen also provided some insight into the positive actions that took place during the Monday morning hearing in the New Jersey State House and related that Monday, December 3, 2007 is a date where a genuine breakthrough may have taken place within the hearts and minds of many New Jersey State legislators. Spearheaded at the legislative level by New Jersey State Senator Nia Gill (the power of one), and fleshed out by the multitudes of voting integrity advocates (the power of many) showing up at an early morning hearing at the New Jersey State Executive Offices, election activists stood strong and forced their voices to be heard. Prior to and during that hearing Governor John Corzine’s telephone switch board was jammed with callers encouraging him to embrace S507 as amended by Senator Gill. Evidently, he listened! Do you believe in miracles?
Also listening were the members of the committee, and especially Senator Loretta Weinberg, who was openly eager to learn of the pitfalls of DRE’s, and the advantage of paper. Bottom line, she was open to being educated by those educated minds in the grassroots. Let’s hope that her intelligent curiosity rubs off onto her colleagues, and theirs onto others.
Senator Gill had joined the dialogue and she magnanimously and correctly attributes 99% of the credit to the voting rights grassroots. Senator Gill is a very straight forward personality that recognizes and stated that “grassroots activists standing up for what they believe in actually have an impact”. She was also believable when challenged by Mary Ann about the relative value and merits of attaching printers to DRE’s, as she responded to being put on the spot with, “ On the spot is where I reside”. Senator Gill is both down to earth, savvy and well meaning while leading the charge as it relates to adapting legislation and machines in order that both may enhance voting validity and integrity. But here’s the rub…enhanced is not enough.
Electronic election machines are real, their flaws are real, the potential for malice is real, thus our fears are real and justified. That’s why Frances Martin, co-founder of the Essex County Taskforce on Voting Rights, attempted to bring the discussion to the usage of paper ballots as the preferred medium for the 2008 elections. I was disappointed that little passion grew from that mention, because the alternative to paper is the machine. The focus of the discussion remained on adapting legislations to machines, as opposed to legislating against machines. Frances pointed out the because of budgetary and time constraints, that adapting machines may not be possible and that paper ballots may be the only reasonable stop gap measure. Heck of a thing when what should be the national standard for election voting media is regarded as a stop gap last resort okay we’ll use paper if we must condition!
The election integrity movement is fighting a machine based mentality. A mentality that accepts an addition to a DRE, or a statistical audit of DRE outcomes as being a victory. A meaningful democracy saving victory will be our acceptance of statistical audits of exclusively paper ballot counts. Paper MUST be voting’s future!
This first segment of the broadcast closed with Senator Gill and Mary Ann again rallying the troops by reminding listeners and ALL AMERICANS to continue to call in to New Jersey Governor John Cozines office (609-292-6000) and while using the strongest polite language possible, encourage him to pass S507 as amended by Senator Gill. I would also encourage that you ask that he educate himself thoroughly as to the limitations and forever fatal flaws found in the use of DRE’s. Tell him to think PAPER! We must help him and all others GET IT! Governor Corzine is arguably the most powerful of all the state Governors having line item veto privileges, thus, if he GETS IT his influence could be substantial in helping to right the severely listing voting integrity ship.
Overall, at the State House the good news is that progress was made and the power of one, and the power of many was validated. Minds were opened, relationships established or deepened, and a greater understanding of voting issues was created within the halls of New Jersey State Legislature. That’s all good my friends. The momentum from the success needs to be built upon.
Rob Kall was the next guest during the broadcast, and his online forum www.opednews.com (which gets 25,000,000 hits per month) is just the venue needed to share all of your thoughts, concerns, worries and solutions concerning the multitudes of challenges facing modern America. Mr. Kall is a thoughtful and highly opinionated man. Those are both excellent qualities to possess. A long time friend to the voting integrity movement, Rob shared many of his concerns about political conditions that serve as substantial obstacles for the voting rights grassroots.
Prime amongst them was what he calls “cobwebs on democracy”. The problem he says is that, “we are still functioning with old apparatus”. Rob thinks it is time to get rid of the two party system, and believes that while EXTREMELY difficult and unlikely, is possible because there is no requirement for such in the US Constitution. He thinks it is time to throw out all of the “entrenched” legislators and replace them with new blood. Yeah, you and about 300 million other Americans Rob!
Mr. Kall also pointed out that we as a nation have been conditioned as a consumer mentality. It is a negative representation of the power of one, and the power of many, but about consumerism he could not be more correct. It is part of the explanation as to why so many Americans don’t understand the fundamental problems associated with electronic voting. We are not only consumers, we are consumers that want to consume in the easiest possible fashion. Drive-thru “convenience” is standard stuff in American life, and Americans might very well embrace the ease of drive thru touch screen voting! Now THAT”S Scary!
After an exchange where Rob and Mary Ann discussed and agreed upon the vile reality that a war is being waged between the corporate interests, and those interests of the American people, the broadcast ended leaving the listener feeling both angered and elated. The anger comes from knowing the truth, the elation from realizing the Power of One, and the Power of Many.
So again, as per usual, I end this article as I end all others. It is up to us to continue the good fight. We do so because it is not only right, it is mandatory. The other choices are too horrible for patriotic Americans to contemplate.Pod cast archives of Voice of the Voters broadcasts along with this and additional Strait Talks articles are available on www.voiceofthevoters.org .