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July 15, 2009

Nancy Tobi Spells Out Exactly Why Holt Bill is Bad News for Democracy, Exclusive Interview

By Joan Brunwasser

We have the White House, through its Agency, controlling our elections using computerized concealed vote counting, and Congressman Holt is trying to legislate this into federal law. If we allow this to happen we will not only have completely abdicated our electoral power to the White House, but we'll be making somebody pretty darn rich to boot.


Welcome back, Nancy. In the first part of our interview, you laid out the basic conflict between Holt and those who oppose his legislation as being on two mutually exclusive paths. Can you give our readers specifics about how you and Congressman Holt part ways?

I told you that Holt's bill [HR 2894] is an expansion of the Help America Vote Act, which was a computerized voting bill.

So here are four areas where we differ on how to achieve meaningful election reform.

1. Holt calls for requiring paper records in voting systems, so the paperless touch screen voting machines HAVA paid for will need to be reconfigured to support printers and then to be phased out after the next presidential election and replaced with computerized optical scanning machines instead.

We call for the abolition of all election systems that use a concealed vote count, invisible to the human eye, and remove any aspect of the voting system (with the exception of the secret ballot) from public oversight. This includes computerized voting with or without paper records.

2. Holt calls for indefinite funding of the Election Assistance Commission (EAC), the White House agency created by HAVA to oversee the nation's elections, for expanding their powers to design the specifications by which computerized voting systems can be certified, and for making them the arbiter of state election result certifications.

We call for the abolition of the EAC. White House oversight, control and design of election system standards, specifications, policies and processes unconstitutionally transfer power from the people to the Executive.

3. Holt calls for legalizing trade secrecy and proprietary vote counting by computerized voting equipment manufactured and sold by the e-voting industry for use in our elections.

We call for the abolition of the privatization and outsourcing of constitutional duties like the administration of free, open, and publicly observable elections.

4. Holt calls for replacing election night vote counts with post-election spot checks of vote tallies as the vote of record.

We call for publicly observable election night vote counts as the vote count of record.

So you can see, it really comes down to how you define the problem. Whereas Holt wants to expand HAVA, many of us in the movement see HAVA itself as a big problem and would like to repeal that act in its entirety and get down to the business of solving the real problem, which is the loss of public oversight and governance by the consent of the governed.

Why can't all members of the election integrity community get behind the Holt bill?

To answer that, I think a little history is called for.

Congressman Rush Holt first introduced his election reform bill in 2003 to amend the 2002 Help America Vote Act (HAVA).

HAVA was a complex bill that "invested" $4 billion of our taxpayer dollars into what I like to call the e-voting Ponzi Scheme. Like every Ponzi Scheme, HAVA needed someone to run it, someone to invest in it, and someone to profit from it.

HAVA created the Election Assistance Commission (EAC), a White House commission, to run the scheme. We the People became investors, and the e-voting industry and their anonymous backers profited by selling new paperless touchscreen voting machines.

Then people started to get nervous because there was no way to know if those paperless computerized tallies were accurate or not.

So a movement arose and called itself the "Verified Voting" movement. Whether or not this was a real grassroots movement or private party-funded astroturf is a matter of debate.

In any event, the movement and Congressman Holt came together to amend HAVA and do something about all those unverifiable paperless voting machines around the nation.

Holt produced his first iteration of this election reform bill in 2003. HR2239 was a 5-page bill that was quite simple and straightforward. It called for time extensions to allow states more time to deliberate before applying for e-voting funding. It required "verifiable" paper records for voting machines, and most interestingly, it required disclosure " to any citizen" of voting system software.

Holt's simple bill contained some pretty important stuff that everyone in the movement could rally around. And even more significantly, it contained virtually nothing that people could oppose.

HR2239 set up Mr. Holt as a respected Congressional leader in the area of election reform and he gained a lot of support.

So what happened to change that?

Holt changed. Or at least his bills changed. His legislation has nothing to do with voting rights anymore; it is simply a conduit for the EAC Ponzi Scheme.

Since HAVA passed in 2002, more and more states "invested" into e-voting and now at least 90% of the nation's votes are tabulated with this technology.

We the Investors are caught in this never-ending "investment" scheme to pay for "upgrading", "servicing", and "managing" these e-voting systems. The EAC keeps the scheme going by continually upping the ante with new voting system guidelines that the states are "encouraged" to comply with by buying new "EAC-certified" equipment.

Then folks like Congressman Holt come along and stick the EAC "guidelines" into legislation so they will no longer be voluntary. They will be federal law.

What do you mean by that? Can you provide an example of these voting system guidelines in the Holt Bill?

Sure. In 2005 the Holt Bill included an odd provision for a new kind of computerized voting technology. Some estimates put the cost to the states to implement this technology at roughly $2 billion. The problem was, the technology didn't even exist!

When a staff person from the NH Secretary of State's office asked Holt's counsel, Michelle Mulder, where she got the language and the idea for this provision, her e-mail reply was that she took it right out of the EAC's "voluntary" guidelines.

When the word got out about this boondoggle provision, so many citizens emailed the House Committee considering the bill that the Committee's email system was shut down!

We were relieved when that version of the bill went down in flames.

This year's Holt Bill contains an even more expensive but equally nonexistent technology, which also comes directly out of the latest EAC computerized voting designs.

But the financial cost of this kind of legislation is the least of our worries, really. Because you have to understand the whole picture of what is going on here.

We have the White House, through its Agency, controlling our elections using computerized concealed vote counting, and Congressman Holt is trying to legislate this into federal law.

If we allow this to happen we will not only have completely abdicated our electoral power to the White House, but we'll be making somebody pretty darn rich to boot.

Let's pause here, Nancy. When we come back for the final part of our interview, we'll talk about your run-in with the Cult of Holt in your home state of New Hampshire.


-Part One of my interview with Nancy

Submitters Website:

Submitters Bio:

Joan Brunwasser is a co-founder of Citizens for Election Reform (CER) which since 2005 existed for the sole purpose of raising the public awareness of the critical need for election reform. Our goal: to restore fair, accurate, transparent, secure elections where votes are cast in private and counted in public. Because the problems with electronic (computerized) voting systems include a lack of transparency and the ability to accurately check and authenticate the vote cast, these systems can alter election results and therefore are simply antithetical to democratic principles and functioning.

Since the pivotal 2004 Presidential election, Joan has come to see the connection between a broken election system, a dysfunctional, corporate media and a total lack of campaign finance reform. This has led her to enlarge the parameters of her writing to include interviews with whistle-blowers and articulate others who give a view quite different from that presented by the mainstream media. She also turns the spotlight on activists and ordinary folks who are striving to make a difference, to clean up and improve their corner of the world. By focusing on these intrepid individuals, she gives hope and inspiration to those who might otherwise be turned off and alienated. She also interviews people in the arts in all their variations - authors, journalists, filmmakers, actors, playwrights, and artists. Why? The bottom line: without art and inspiration, we lose one of the best parts of ourselves. And we're all in this together. If Joan can keep even one of her fellow citizens going another day, she considers her job well done.

When Joan hit one million page views, OEN Managing Editor, Meryl Ann Butler interviewed her, turning interviewer briefly into interviewee. Read the interview here.

While the news is often quite depressing, Joan nevertheless strives to maintain her mantra: "Grab life now in an exuberant embrace!"

Joan has been Election Integrity Editor for OpEdNews since December, 2005. Her articles also appear at Huffington Post, RepublicMedia.TV and