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October 18, 2006

We Count Seize the Polls: HCPB bill introduced for 2008

By Rady Ananda

Recaps Ohio's election integrity conferences and events in the past month. Calls for swarm of election "protection" activities.

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On September 29-30, one hundred election integrity activists and experts from around the country gathered in Cleveland for the We Count 2006 conference. Featured speakers discussed their book, film, analysis or strategy on the legal, legislative or social direction of the movement.

U.S. Representative Dennis Kucinich closed the conference with a surprise unveiling of H.R. 6200, which requires hand-counted paper ballots of the 2008 Presidential election, at theprecinct, before all who wish to observe. Attendees exploded into thunderous applause at his announcement. He pinned successful introduction of HCPBs on those in the room and then mentioned the Democratic Party, which resulted in loud and immediate booing.

It was hard for activists not to express disgust with the majority of Dems who spinelessly continue to ignore what Greg Palast calls the "elephant in the voting booth." In response to the booing, Kucinich leaned forward and raised his voice, "I'm going to be the exception that rules." Did he really say that? Folks laughed and cheered him, anyway.

Finally, HCPB advocates have a voice at the table. Recent legislative history doesn't bode well for the bill, but HCPB advocates can take heart that some legislators heard their call for the most secure, most accurate, and least expensive voting system. The bill also seeks to exclude provisional ballots from being hand-counted, and seeks to celebrate Washington's birthday on Election Day in Presidential election years.

Workshops provided hands-on training for Election Day actions, and lively debate ensued between different presenters in response to questions raised over what to do when the machines fail.

Films showcased in a separate room, some in their unfinished versions. David Earnhardt's film on the Nashville Conference was delightful and poignant. The feature film, Stealing America Vote by Vote, (reviewed at http://tinyurl.com/r87sp) brought well-deserved praise to producer, Dorothy Fadiman. Conference attendees comprised a Who's Who in the Election Integrity movement, although several notables were unable to attend. Nearly everyone present saw themselves in one or more films.

New books on election integrity and those in the movement have now been published. Buttons promote more of our buzzwords and everyone shared the culmination of many projects.

The 25-hour We Count conference felt relaxed and informal, partly due to the constant supply of food and beverages, provided at cost, in a large cafeteria that held everyone comfortably. The other driving force was the huge exhibit of books, videos and memorabilia for sale.

Sheri Myers brought her just-published comic book, "Cheated," which chronicles 04 election protection actions in Ohio that led to the historic Objection to the seating of Ohio's Electors. "I rise to reject the counting of the electoral votes from the state of Ohio on the grounds that they are not under all of the known circumstances regularly given," said U.S. Representative Stephanie Tubbs Jones and sole Senator, Barbara Boxer.
New publications also included Vicki Karp's "Hacked" and Bob Fitrakis' latest and smaller presentation of "What Happened in Ohio." Other films included American Blackout, No Umbrella, The Right To Count, Electile
Dysfunction, Video the Vote, Got Democracy, A Little Light'll Do Ya, Eternal Vigilance, Swing State Ohio, Help America Vote on Paper, Vote Scam, and Invisible Ballots. Run times range from 10 to 90 minutes.

"Hacking Democracy," originally called "Votergate," will be presented exclusively on HBO on November 2nd. This film exposes gaping holes in the security of America's electronic voting system. Showing Nov. 2 thru Nov. 26 on HBO and HBO2. Confirm local listings for your area.

On Sunday, October 1st, An Afternoon with Bev Harris drew about 30 people to Columbus, Ohio's German Village Meeting Haus. Led by organizer Marj Creech, volunteers sent press releases to all of the local media, and leafleted German Village the prior weekend. Corporate media's iron curtain couldn't prevent five people from hearing Bev for the first time. Dr. Richard Hayes Phillips also spoke, explaining some of his findings from analysis of the 04 ballots. Bev Harris suggested several different actions for voters to take this November, from her "Citizen's Took Kit" published at http://www.blackboxvoting.org/toolkit.pdf

On October 13-15, nearly 60 people gathered in Columbus for the Seize the Polls training sessions at the Voter Rights Revival sponsored by the Free Press. Notable at this conference were about twenty new faces, those outside Columbus' election movement. Much effort went into producing this collection of workshops, trainings, film revues, discussions, a No Sleepover skit, and even a drum circle held outside on Saturday, in a sunny and slightly crisp afternoon.

Host Bob Fitrakis (supported by Steve Rosenfeld and Harvey Wasserman) poured several scraps of evidence into speeches, articles and three books, now. Dr. Steve Freeman (of Wharton) led a class on polling techniques, which I regretfully had to miss. Suzanne Patzer and Connie Harris led the conference-organizing effort, and while disappointed in the turnout, were pleased with the number of new faces who haven't attended these events.

Doris Haddock, known as Granny D, gave the keynote address encouraging social activists to keep up the fight. She has been a lifelong activist and recently walked over 3,000 miles, at the age of 89-90, in support of campaign finance reform. Her wisdom and advice aren't new ideas, but her calm, loving prose was sweetly appreciated by all. More than a few teared up.

Corporate media failed to cover both Columbus events, pretending the movement to restore democracy simply does not exist. Given our small numbers, these election integrity conferences that tend to preach to the choir give big media an arguably legitimate excuse. Given the media iron curtain on how rigged e-voting is, it's also no wonder we convert the masses slowly.

What should be widespread panic over the midterm elections on e-voting machines is being ignored by the major parties on all of their TV and radio ads. Instead, it's more important to call each other names. Let's not panic the masses that we vote on systems wholly hackable, and for which there is no basis for confidence in reported election results. Dave Berman calls it "Faith-based reporting on faith-based voting." www.GuvWurld.org

Paul Lehto, fresh from his Cleveland We Count speech, tried to enlighten Columbus' machine-loving crowd thru his unparalleled ability to distill complicated concepts into simple talking points. The No Sleepover campaign will surely be put to bed after he clarified, "With remote access to our voting machines, physical security doesn't really matter." Bev Harris has evidence that machines can be remotely accessed from outside the state. I wonder, and even outside the U.S.? Lynn Landes, among others, deems electronic voting systems "a threat to our national security." Harris and Landes both attended Cleveland's We Count.

Twelve drummers happily banged for two-hours during Drumming for Democracy, led by Professor Wahru Cleveland. Eight drummers attended only this portion of Seize the Polls, but all of them left with election flyers after a brief overview by circle organizer and author.

A variety of tactics has been proposed for the midterm elections. The Parallel Elections training at We Count garnered a half dozen new volunteers, but none at Seize the Polls. Detractors worry that PEs will draw volunteers away from their more mainstream election day actions. Proponents point out that the PE booth offers a base for all "election protection" activities on Election Day, and models how honest elections are run. "The primary purpose of a parallel election is to ascertain how a precinct voted." http://tinyurl.com/hrnox

Mainstream organizations, normally involved only in Get-Out-The-Vote campaigns, also included instructions on what to do if the machines fail. Call 1-866-OURVOTE. Alternative strategies were aired at all three of Ohio's events, and everyone generally agreed that all efforts to engage more citizens in our election process will heighten accountability, or at the very least will expose citizens to the lack of transparency and countability of our ballots.

S W A R M 2006
See What Activism Really Means

Swarming the election process from as many different angles as possible will shine a light on how our elections are conducted. Accountability leads to accuracy. Read suggested projects below:

See http://www.thelandesreport.com/ParallelElections.htm for concepts and practical tips on how citizens can run their own Parallel Election of a hand-counted paper ballot system.

Volunteer videographers are sought to follow precinct memory cards to the County Board of Elections, and for other surveillance, on November 7th. Contact Melissa Giraud melissagiraud@yahoo.com.

Black Box Voting's Tool Kit is a Declaration of Independence for Citizens and can be downloaded at: http://www.blackboxvoting.org/toolkit.pdf BBV wants to make the 2006 election the biggest citizen evidence gathering action ever. "Propagate your information far and wide –send it to 5 or 7 different places," Harris advised.

Brad Friedman of www.BradBlog.com is offering a $250,000 reward for information that results in an overturning of a congressional election and a conviction of the person(s) responsible for the fraud. Whistleblowers should provide documents, tape recordings, and admissions. Send to tips@velvetrevolution.us.

Kathy Dopp wants citizens to upload detailed precinct level data at the National Election Data Archive. See http://www.uscountvotes.org/ucvData/US/How2CollectData.pdf

Legal remedies are also being pursued. Ohio attorneys recently saved the 04 ballots from destruction. At least 20 different people, so far, have collected information, photographed ballots, and organized or analyzed the material. In the Free Press Autumn 06 issue, a few are named as "Freep Heroes." J Click on the www.FreePress.org button, Special Election Coverage, for updates.

Ohio attorneys also just filed a complaint for a Special Master of elections, to remove power-blinded Blackwell from his inappropriate oversight while running for office. Cliff Arnebeck demanded paper ballots for 06 for any voter who wants to use them, and seeks to overturn voter ID portions of recently-passed House Bill 3.

Attorney Paul Lehto (who spoke at Cleveland's We Count and Columbus' Seize the Polls conferences) is waging battle for election transparency in San Diego, in California's 50th District, in the now infamous Bilbray-Busby race where Congress seized control of the election process. The case is on appeal.

Submitters Bio:


In 2004, Rady Ananda joined the growing community of citizen journalists. Initially focused on elections, she investigated the 2004 Ohio election, organizing, training and leading several forays into counties to photograph the 2004 ballots. She officially served at three recounts, including the 2004 recount. She also organized and led the team that audited Franklin County Ohio's 2006 election, proving the number of voter signatures did not match official results. Her work appears in three books.

Her blogs also address religious, gender, sexual and racial equality, as well as environmental issues; and are sprinkled with book and film reviews on various topics. She spent most of her working life as a researcher or investigator for private lawyers, and five years as an editor.

She graduated from The Ohio State University's School of Agriculture in December 2003 with a B.S. in Natural Resources.

All material offered here is the property of Rady Ananda, copyright 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009. Permission is granted to repost, with proper attribution including the original link.

"In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act." Tell the truth anyway.

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