July 26, 2008

Duty calls

I guess I’m easily persuaded by synchronicity, so when I get a number of communications on the same topic in a period of a few hours, I feel I have to take them seriously.

First it was the email circulated by Bo Lipari, a software engineer who founded the organization New Yorkers for Verified Voting, which is working to get the state’s voting machines verifiable and auditable. He’s saying that there's no way the machines will be foolproof by November:
It’s become obvious that New York State’s new voting systems will not be able to complete New York State certification testing in time for the scheduled 2009 rollout ...
SysTest, the company contracted to test these machines, has apparently gotten bogged down by delays, and guess what. Those delays aren't just from the inaction and nonaction of the manufacturers, but from the state Board of Elections as well. Here are a couple of reasons for why those machines won't be ready:
— incomplete documentation from the vendors
— documentation discrepancies
— incomplete hardware/software deliveries
— the BOE hasn’t yet approved the SysTest’s “Voting System Specific Test Plans”
— the BOE has not responded to SysTest’s request for policy guidance relating to configuration files.
One could easily ask two questions: Why Is This Happening? and How Could It Be Happening in New York State?

I'm already pissed.

Next I get an email about David Earnhardt's new documentary on voter fraud: “Uncounted: the New Math of American Elections”:
. . . an explosive new documentary that shows how the election fraud that changed the outcome of the 2004 election . . . now looms as an unbridled threat to the outcome of the 2008 election. . . .
[It] examines in factual, logical, and yet startling terms how easy it is to change election outcomes and undermine election integrity across the U.S. Noted computer programmers, statisticians, journalists, and experienced election officials provide the irrefutable proof. . . .
UNCOUNTED is a wakeup call to all Americans. Beyond increasing the public’s awareness, the film inspires greater citizen involvement in fixing a broken electoral system. As we approach the decisive election of 2008, UNCOUNTED will change how you feel about the way votes are counted in America. Of course it didn’t help that The Chancellor did a piece this morning called "Nobody Cares." The fact remains, they do, and so do others.

But even without the coincidence of the emails and the blog appearing at the same time, there was the singularly horrific thought expressed by Greg Palast months ago that the 2008 election has already been stolen.

In an interview with BuzzFlash, Palast talked about how the big boys are working at their disenfranchisement projects, especially for people of color:
GP: [The lists to disenfranchise voters] are the purge lists. For 2004, we have the caging lists. And in 2008, we’re going to have what’s called the verification list. 
BF: Meaning the return of the Jim Crow laws, I assume? 
GP: When I say the 2008 race has already been stolen, about a million and a half voter registrations have been turned down. Even though there have been massive voter registration drives among Hispanics and African Americans, as the churches fill up the bucket, there’s a hole in the bucket where the registrations are being dumped . . . About 40% of the registrations are being rejected on the grounds that they don’t match citizenship files. Well, you know what? It ain’t the Soviet Union. We don’t have citizenship files in the United States. They don’t exist. They can’t exist under the law, which is the U.S. Constitution.
Palast has invited people to steal his new cartoon strip “Vote Theft for Idiots” and pass it around, and I'm pleased to oblige him. These are the first two lessons, and I hope the rest of them will come out before November rolls around. (If too fuzzy, they're clearer here and here.)

Black Box Voting (.org) has put out a tool kit for the elections called “Top 5 Things You can Do to Protect Election 2008”:
1. Get involved — I kinda like the way they tell you that first you have to figure out what type of person you are: hunter-gatherer, networker, empowerer, analyzer, or communicator. That makes a whole lot of sense 
2. Hook up with experienced groups — lists some great ones, and includes a section on Freedom of Information tips. 
3. Protect/defend against deceptive practices (last minute changes, consolidation issues, confusing ballots, deceptive phonecalls and fliers, etc.) 
4. Protect/defend voter lists (register people, help people get photo ID, look for racial profiling on voter registration cards, category switching, etc.) 
5. Voting machines: Protect/defend the vote counts — it mentions some horrible things under this category, like “99% of votes will be counted in secret on computers controlled by government insiders and vendors.”

I poll-watched in Pennsylvania in the last election and experienced some very last minute changes, like the polling place itself. There was also intimidation, against a first-time voter who didn't know how to handle it and against me personally, who was trying to contact the on-call lawyers on his behalf.

The Election Fraud Blog has compiled something called a Beginner’s Guide on this subject with the ominous subtitle “a Broken Democracy Crash Course.” Lots of links there also relating to this unfortunate time in the history of the country when our government disgusts us.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that I have to leave blogging for now because there's a real chance of this coming true in November:

and I don’t want to feel that I didn’t do enough to keep it from happening.


  1. _________________________________

    Re: Duty Calls

    It is reassuring to see that more and more people are waking up to the very real dangers surrounding the coming Presidential election.

    I hope an ever increasing number of citizens will begin to realize it is not a question of "whether" there is a chance the Republican party may try to steal this election, but in this writer's opinion, an absolute "certainty" that such an attempt will be made.

    In fact for the Republican party not to try to steal the election, would in fact be totally out of character for them. One need only observe all the illegal and "quasi-illegal", (is there really a difference), actions taken during the Bush Administration, to realize that flouting something once known in America as the "Rule of Law", is standard operating procedure for the latest incarnation of the Republican party mindset. It has become built into their genes. A part of their political DNA.

    In almost area of American life and politics the present Administration in Washington has demonstrated such an abysmal disdain for the Rule of Law and/or even a minimal respect for the United States Constitution, that the human mind reels in consternation at the degree of Hubris shown.

    Allow me to say what few people are comfortable articulating for fear of seeming "over the edge" or alarmist. The simple truth is that for the past several years this country has been drifting gradually closer and closer towards attitudes in government that come under the umbrella of "Fascism".

    But the incidious thing about Fascism is that as a great scholar once observed, it has a way of creeping up on a Nation, ever so gradually and slowly, so that like watching a sunset, one can hardly say when exactly the sky became in overall appearance truly closer to "night" than to "day".

    There was never a better example of this phenomenon than in 1930's Germany, during which period, by methodical and carefully designed incremental steps, even the most ordinary and taken for granted rights gradually disappeared.

    And this gradual drift towards a form of absolute dictatorship such as the world had never imagined possible led first to the burning of books and in the end- the burning of people.

    Lest any person reading these words think for a moment that these are the ramblings of a paranoid "disappeared" teacher, too long incarcerated in one of New York City's "Rubber Room" gulags, just consider that the United States of America needs to have just one additional Supreme Court Justice, who thinks like George Bush, and all abortions in America will become illegal and a thing of the past overnight.

    Imagine the complete havoc such an overturning of "Roe vs. Wade", which made safe abortions legal, would have on tens of millions of women and American families in general.

    We would be facing a human and multi-faceted Medical issues catastrophe of monumental, proportions. And abortions, instead of being a safe, modern, medical procedure would be thrown into the dark, back alleys of the "Middle Ages".

    Should the next President get the opportunity to fill the Supreme Court with ultra conservative leaning Justices, Americans could start to see and live in a kind of America such as they never dreamed possible either in their wildest dreams or darkest nightmares.

    That is why we must stay fully awake and fully vigilant during the next one hundred days, never forgetting that "if it looks like a duck, and walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck" - then it probably- you can bet your life and believe- is a duck.

    And thus if one considers what has transpired in our Nation and has been done by the present White House in the name of our beloved Nation, then one does not have to ponder very deeply that those forces that committed such atrocities, would surely not stop short of using any means possible and at their disposal to hold on to the reigns of power in this country.

    If people would not hesitate to "rig" the reasons, the evidence and the justifications for embarking on one of the most disastrous and sickeningly evil "military adventures" since Viet Nam- why would anyone, how in fact, could anyone, any sane, rational human being, think, even for a moment, that those same forces would have any qualms about rigging and stealing an election that would allow such forces to remain in power.

    The Destiny of this great Republic will be decided in little more than one hundred days. In the entire two hundred year history of our Nation never has so much depended on the outcome of one single election.

    Never in the history of any nation has so much depended on the voice of ordinary Americans being heard, - and carefully and correctly counted, in a free and fair election.

    And as America goes- so goes the world. It is more than crucial that every person old enough to vote demands and does whatever it takes, to insist that every measure and action conceivably and humanly possible be enacted so that those who would illegally steal the reigns of our Government, and in so doing, our nation's future, do not succeed.

    Nothing less than the survival of our sacred Democracy hangs in the balance.

    David Pakter

  2. David, thank you so much again for your thoughts. What caught my eye particularly is what everyone knows in the pit of their stomachs: "Should the next President get the opportunity to fill the Supreme Court with ultra conservative leaning Justices, Americans could start to see and live in a kind of America such as they never dreamed possible either in their wildest dreams or darkest nightmares."

    It's the Supreme Court issue that is the scariest factor in a whole bunch of scary factors, not least of which is McCain's inbred need to be at war.

  3. David & Woodlass:

    Voter fraud is not practiced by only the Republicans. Least you forget that in Chicago the democrat party's slogan was "vote early and often".

    Even in the last election the Democratic party was accused of voter fraud in St. Louis.

    That is why I vote as an independent thinker with no ties to either political party.

  4. Did I forget to say poll working and watching are neutral activities? I didn't think that was necessary. Last two times I worked at the polls, I had to work as a Republican (which I am not), since there weren't enough Republicans to man the machines and you need two from each "side" all day long.

    Criminal activity in the running of elections has become rampant, and there is a ton of evidence that it's been happening overwhelmingly during the past decade because Republicans operate systematically on the dark side. They use legal loopholes, read the laws in a partisan fashion, serve up extremist suggestions for judicial appointments, and make sure the careers of some judges are terminated prematurely. There's been tampering with the voter rolls (well documented), stinting on the number and kinds of voter facilities, and purposeful and avoidable confusion (e.g., chads) in some places.

    Vote Independent if you want, as it makes no difference on this particular issue.

  5. __________________________________

    Re: Chaz comment on voter fraud

    Assuming Chaz is correct, we need not be concerned that the Republican Party will take pains to examine every vote under a magnifying glass. That is a given.

    The Democratic Party just has to be sure they have a bigger magnifying glass and "use it more often".

    The bigger problem is that the companies that build and program the voting machines, I believe Diebold is likely one of them, are very close to the Republican Party.

    It takes a real super computer expert to detect if a machine's program has been "rigged". And we are likely talking about more than half a million machines.