Elections & Voting
Congress about to "just say yes" to permanent secret vote counting
By Nancy Tobi
Online Journal Guest Writer

Jul 2, 2007, 01:46

Centralized control of voting is a form of tyranny, pure and simple. Joseph Stalin is said to have explained why: "Those who cast the votes decide nothing. Those who count the votes decide everything."

Meet the new boss

Congress is about to pass an election "reform" bill, HR811 (the Holt Bill). The bill will enshrine secret computerized vote counting, controlled by the White House.

The Holt bill would tempt the likes of the late Mayor Daley of Chicago and vote villain Boss Tweed of New York City's Tammany Hall.

How will our modern vote villains resist?

A "yes" vote on the Holt bill allows the federal government to erect an impenetrable wall between American voters and their votes. It will lock in secret vote-counting technology owned by corporations. The public will be shut out for good.

That's why our New Hampshire Secretary State, the New Hampshire City and Town Clerks Association, and the Democracy for New Hampshire (DFNH) Fair Elections Committee all oppose the bill.

They're not alone.

National organizations for the chief voting officials in all 50 states, state legislators, and the nation's counties all oppose the Holt bill. There are more than 100 national and regional voting rights groups who oppose the bill as well.

So, why is Congressman Paul Hodes (D-NH) a cosponsor of the Holt bill? And, why is Congresswoman Carol Shea Porter (D-NH) undecided on the issue?

Lobbyists like Common Cause are promoting HR811 to "get it straight by 2008." But HR811 is primarily drafted for a 2010 effective date. It will never protect our 2008 elections.

Grassroots activists have drafted a simple bill that really can make a difference for 2008. They need a congressional sponsor but have yet to find any takers.

Congress is stuck on HR811, dangerous flaws and all.

"Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely"

The Help America Vote Act (HAVA), passed in 2002, created the Election Assistance Commission. This shadow White House agency -- four presidential appointees -- wields total control over voting system standards. They design the computerized voting machines, and even the paper ballots, used in our nation's elections.

HR811 cements voting system control in the hands of the president, shifting the balance of power in elections from the citizenry to the Elections Assistance Commission.

This is a complete reversal of the founders' vision of dispersed power.

American revolutionaries rose in opposition to centralized power and wrote our Constitution to ensure dispersed power, checks and balances, and respect for the citizenry. The founders knew they needed to limit human inclinations to abuse power when a very few are given control over the many.

HR811 makes the Elections Assistance Commission a permanent fixture in government: one president appointing four commissioners with absolute control of our elections.

The American people need to think carefully about this.

HR811 gives the commissioners broad reaching powers. They will be the "deciders" on selecting precincts for election audits. They will control and own all information related to our voting systems, election results, and audits. They will define all standards and e-voting equipment. The states, our state, will have to report to the commission to have our election results certified. And our elections will become more complex and computerized, assuring citizens less and less access to the process.

The money trail

It's always instructive to follow the money in hard fought political battles, as New Hampshire Secretary of State William Gardner recently reminded us.

One of the strongest champions of HR811 is an organization called VoteTrustUSA. This "grassroots" organization has ties to one of the nation's largest "data consolidation" companies, ChoicePoint. Remember them? They helped Katherine Harris purge the Florida 2000 voter registration rolls. Nearly 100,000 registered American voters were denied their right to vote for what journalist Greg Palast called the crime of "voting while black." Palast claims the denied vote -- and not hanging chads -- is what really cost Gore that election.

Last summer the Atlanta Progressive News reported that the wife of ChoicePoint's CEO Doug Curling has contributed money to VTUSA. Doug Curling confirmed to Bev Harris of Black Box Voting that his wife Donna is a VTUSA donor "and probably a board member." Donna Curling also had participated in leadership groups under an assumed name. She remains involved with this grassroots group, which now has a full-time Washington lobbyist working for passage of the Holt bill.

Why would a grassroots election reform organization have these ties to ChoicePoint?

Absolute power: The marriage of federal and corporate power

A corporation like ChoicePoint, combined with the commission, would have one-stop shopping control over our elections. The commission controls the voting systems and all information relating to elections everywhere in the country.

All the data consolidation company needs to do is overlay their vast demographic and other election data maps over a map of our nation, put together their game plan, and they'll own every election.

They succeeded in Florida. HR811, the Holt Bill, gives them the nation.

Nancy Tobi is the author of numerous articles on election integrity, including "The Gifts of HAVA: Time to Ask for a Refund," "What's Wrong with the Holt Bill,"and "We're Counting the Votes: An Election Preparedness Kit." She is Legislative Coordinator of Election Defense Alliance, co-founder of Democracy for New Hampshire and Chair of the New Hampshire Fair Elections Committee. Her writings may be found at http://www.electiondefensealliance.org and www.democracyfornewhampshire.com.

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