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Rep. Dennis Kucinich: guardian of the American voter and democratic values

By       Message Mary Ann Gould     Permalink
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Transcript of Dennis Kucinich and Mary Ann Gould on Voice of the Voters! August 8, 2007:

DK: Thank you very much. It 's great to join you just for a few minutes. I know you have a distinguished guest there who 's done a lot of work on these electronic voting machines.

MAG: We 'll be talking about that. I 'd like to start out with a simple concept: values. The United States was founded on a set of ideas rather than on a common race, ethnicity, religion, or power structure. It 's these shared ideas and ideals that built this country and can revitalize it. I 'm sure you agree, but I 'd like to know: What ideas and ideals do you think are critical to rebuilding and revitalizing America?

DK: First of all, adherence to our Constitution. It starts with all who manage the affairs of this country and are elected to do so to operate with honesty, integrity, and an adherence to the principles that are articulated in the Constitution of the United States. When you have officials who break the law, who use their power to wage war against innocent people, you then have a condition which undermines the democratic tradition. When you have officials who pass laws that attack essential civil liberties, such as the right to free speech and the right to freedom of association, freedom of assembly, then you have a crisis of the Constitution and of democratic governance. I think the Founders set forth the principles very well in the preamble to the Constitution. The Declaration of Independence is a very powerful document about human rights. That 's where it starts with this country.

MAG: Our country is based upon the idea that we the people can govern ourselves. I somehow feel that Washington may have forgotten that.

DK: Of course they 've forgotten it. The idea of democratic self-governance resonates with Lincoln 's prayer of a government of the people, by the people, and for the people. Those of us who take the responsibility to guide the affairs of our nation have a responsibility that is a very high calling to make sure that democratic governance is not just a concept but a reality. We 're losing that today. It 's more government of interest groups, government of corporations, government of anything but the people.

MAG: I couldn 't agree more. In fact, Abraham Lincoln also said elections belong to the people It is their decision. It seems to me today that it is no longer the people 's decision. We just had, and will continue to have on the program, a professor from the University of Pennsylvania, part of the fabulous study that was recently done in California, that showed that the DREs, direct record electronic voting machines, are fundamentally flawed, cannot be fixed. Yet Congress is doing nothing. What can we do about this because lobbyists are fighting it. I have a quote from one Congressman that said, very simply, "Microsoft won."

About 29:30

DK: As you know, I 'm in favor of using paper ballots in all federal elections, and I 've introduced a bill to that effect. I also understand that the electronic voting has many flaws and that 's why I don 't think those machines should be used. Period. Because you can hack them, as people have proven, there is a question of the validity of an election. People have to know their vote counts and is counted. People cannot be guaranteed that with the present DRE system.

MAG: What can be done? What we're being told and in fact our professor from Penn had said he would support a ban by Congress of all DREs and if need be use optical scan with much more hand counting of paper ballots.


DK: Maybe what we could do --again, I have a bill in to make paper ballots in federal elections mandatory, and states for state elections have the ability to set their own kind of format, but I think that when the federal government moves on this, it 'll cause states to come into conformity. There are ways to bring that about.

Something occurs to me, and that is, that perhaps the distinguished guest that you have on would be willing to call my office in Washington because there may be a legal basis for a lawsuit here that deals with really denying the right to vote. And I think I 'd be very interested in seeing if that research that 's been done could be the basis of a lawsuit to try to throw out that technology for use in a federal election. It may be that unless this has already been adjudicated, it may be that this is a faster route to trying to protect the vote than having to wait for Congress to do something.

MAG: Our concern is 2008, Congressman.

DK: As is mine.

MAG: Yes, and the way it looks now, 2000 is going to look like kindergarten in comparison, I fear, unless some actions are taken. If we leave it to the states, they feel that they have already spent a lot of money, they don 't want to spend any more and they're convinced that adding printers onto the backs of these DREs will give them some type of security. It was proven in California that this is invalid. Even with the printers, these machines are definitely unfixable. And then we hear constantly that
1. Nobody in Congress will support a ban on DREs.
2. Lobbyists are too strong over the will of the people.
3. States and county governments don 't want to make a change because it 's going to be too difficult.

DK: I can say that I 'd like to talk to those who can help me build the evidence to present to raise the issue of banning them outright. That might be our only recourse.

MAG: We 'll have John Bonifaz, who is with Voter Action and he 's a lawyer, Constitutional, and has spoken out on that very subject on this show, and we will have the people from the California study get in touch with you on this.

DK: I 'd like them to call my Congressional office, it's a public number, it's 202-225-5871. If they give me a call, I 'd like to start the discussion and see what we might be able to do.


I mean, obviously, as someone who has run in many elections, I understand what happens when people put their heart and soul into an election, whether you are a candidate or supporting a candidate, if you have to worry at the end of it all about whether the election was stolen. I mean, this is the United States of America. We shouldn 't have to be worried whether or not an election is legit. Yet here we are in 2007, having had the experience and having these machines used, not being able to prove the outcome, having the outcome in doubt, having thoughts that maybe the election has been rigged. I mean, what are we talking about here? This is central to whether you have a democracy or not. Everybody should be concerned about it. This is an urgent matter. I can tell you that this is one of the topics that comes up most consistently everywhere in the United States. So I want to thank you for raising the level of awareness and I want to thank your guests for their commitment and service.

So please contact me in Washington and as the chairman of the subcommittee on domestic policy, I 'll have my staff get involved to see what ways and steps we can take to move in the direction that you are suggesting.

I 'm interested in two different areas:
1. What action we might be able to take with respect to a ban because I just want to check to see how far we can go in terms of commerce because there is a commerce clause of the Constitution, and I want to check and see if this is consistent with the commerce clause and want to see if there are any states' rights that would be violated here.

The other thing is, I want to see if there 's any lawsuit that--

MAG: Let me ask you a question: States' rights vs. citizens' rights, which come first?

DK: Often they 're consistent. State constitutions are often derived from the federal Constitution. I want to make sure that anything that I propose is going to stand up in court.

MAG: We will certainly give you whatever support is necessary and you will certainly have our vote if you will lead the way on this particular issue.

DK: I 'm ready to do that, and I would ask you to call me. Thank you for the chance to be on here. As one of the few people who actually voted against the certification of the election in 2004 in the Electoral College, I 've already shown how I feel about the issue of election integrity and in introducing a bill for paper ballots. I 'm there in asking for scrutiny of these DREs. You may remember that I 'm the person in Congress who submitted records for the Congressional Record of people who found out about the flaws in the voting machines and they were worried about being sued. I took that information right to the House of Representatives and dared that company to sue me.

MAG: Let me throw out one idea. Our whole government is based and our Founding Fathers based a brilliant idea on the concept of separate and independent checks and balances. If that 's good enough for our government, shouldn 't it be the same for our election system?

DK: Absolutely. Elections have to be verifiable. There 's just no question about it, and when the verifiability of an election is in doubt because of the kind of technology that 's being used, this is a threat to our democracy. I 'm aware of it. I care about it. I think about it often. Look, I 'm running for president of the United States. Don 't think for a moment that I 'm not concerned, that all of the efforts we make, if I 'm on the threshold of being elected, and then I gotta worry about somebody stealing the election on top of it. From a personal standpoint, I don 't want to have to worry about it. But from the standpoint of being an American I have a commitment to this country to protect these elections. Thank you and let 's continue to talk and work together.

MAG: Thank you very much.

DK: Thank you and good night.

MAG: Good night.


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Co-Founder of the Coalition for Voting Integrity. Host of "Voice of the Voters! Radio & Internet. Nationally recognized expert in Quality, Process improvement and Change Management. Associate of the late Dr. W, Edwards Deming. Speaker/seminars at (more...)

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