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Land Shark Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Feb-05-05 02:41 PM
Original message
Freedom and the Contracts Our Govt Signed for Secret Vote Counting
Many of you know that the vote counting programs of voting machines are considered "proprietary trade secrets" such that the voting companies, such as Sequoia, have stated in writing, to people such as me, that my wish to inspect and/or test those voting machines as a citizen (or even to obtain a copy of the operator's manual) will be resisted by "all actions" necessary. This is despite the fact that my brother in law Dr. Jeffrey Hoffman and I co-wrote a 29 page research study showing irregularities favoring one party over another due to malfunctions and/or tampering. www.votersunite.org/info/SnohomishElectionFraudInvestig...

To imagine secret ballots is to imagine FREEDOM of the vote. To imagine secret COUNTING of the votes by a multinational whose parent company de La Rue was awarded a lucrative US contract to print Iraqi dinars, is to imagine actual or potential TYRANNY. To trust a political friend to count the vote in secrecy without verification is to be an actual or potential TYRANT, who claims to owe the people no duty. To imagine all of us adults together (WE THE PEOPLE), smart and dumb, old and young, of all races, creeds, orientations and beliefs all having the same vote as the President of the United States is to imagine an image of EQUALITY that many have paid a great price for. To imagine that vote not necessarily counting based on the whims of the secret counting corporation is to see the end of FREE elections. To see the end of free elections, especially during a "permanent war" on "terror", is to see the end of freedom itself.

Our greatest leaders have said there comes a time in each generation for the true meaning of freedom to be discovered and enhanced.

We can know that freedom not only by ejecting these secretive corporations from our vote counting, but also by rediscovering the radical equality inherent in our equal votes. Smart people don't get two votes, and "dumb" people who "don't follow instructions" in Palm Beach County don't get their votes taken away. Why? Because there is such a thing as WE THE PEOPLE. Endowed by their creator with certain INALIENABLE rights, meaning rights that we are born with that can not be taken away, and we were born with them BEFORE our government was ever formed.

All power ultimately comes from the consent of WE THE PEOPLE, but we forget that sometimes, getting down on our knees and begging the government for this and that. Sometimes that's necessary because the people have delegated certain powers, but on occasoin government asserts a power it was simply never granted by the people.

For example, when it comes to something as fundamental as democracy, the government lacks the power, through contract, to cede that power of vote counting in a democracy to a multinational corporation or to any individual to operate in secret, because vote counting is a public democratic right. It is a public right for which the government has literally never been given the power to give away. The government, plainly and simply, combined with all of the world's corporations, UTTERLY LACK THE POWER to privatize our votes. We ougt not legitimize that privatization in any way by assuming it has any validity, because it is void ab initio (from the beginning).

Most importantly, (to put it plainly but crudely) WE DON'T NEED TO PROVE SHIT, THE VOTING MACHINE COMPANIES MUST SIMPLY GET THE HELL OUT of our democracy. Period.

If they want to retain secrets or trade secrets, they are free to go back to the private sector, where they came from.

For the above reasons, a lawsuit will be filed in the coming week seeking the general relief stated above, plus the disclosure of all past secrets. I will have the assistance of one of the most able trial lawyers in Washington state, Mr. Randy Gordon. Mr. Gordon is a Harvard gradudate and member of the Board of Governors of the Washington State Bar Association as well as an adjunct professor at Seattle University School of Law. I am personally a retired (at a relatively young age due to term limits) member of the Board of Governors and voted a Rising Star in 2003 and 2004 for Washington state lawyers. I say this background only to attempt to say that we are not crackpots, but beyond that there is little point to credentials, because every citizen has an equal right to rise up and take their democracy back, and they don't necessarily need lawyers to do it themselves.

After all, the issue has gone far beyond corporate "control" of Congress. Corporations literally own/control our vote counting, and therefore own/control our democracy. If one asks for information on these secret vote counting machines of your government, the contract with Sequoia (for example) requires the county to provide immediate notice of the information request to the private corporation Sequoia and to cooperate with Sequoia in any response. Naturally, Sequoia immediately faxes back a letter from their lawyers indicating that all of the paper and electronic records related to vote counting software is a "trade secret". The county government then has a CONTRACTUAL DUTY TO COOPERATE with the secrecy claims of Sequoia, and denies the public records request.

Does this mean that this is how our government elections officials get their "marching orders". In a very real way, yes. Does this mean our government elections officials are not free to serve the public in the way they deem best? Yes, not if Sequoia disagrees.

But we the people need prove nothing to invite those who have privatized our voting to absent themselves from our democracy.

I urge everyone not to even bother to make public claims about the intent of those who have privatized our vote, because we can never know for sure what is in someone else's heart, and that uncertainty would simply be used against us and we'd share the fate of anyone else who dares to think and talk about what is intentionally kept secret: "conspiracy theorists". Instead, the voting machine companies are the trespassers on our open democracy, this is our democracy, and it is they who must leave, not us, and certainly not democracy.

All of the lawyers working on this case will do so pro bono publico (for the good of the public). All attorneys fees awarded go to charity. All money raised for expenses is for out of pocket costs only (like expert witnesses, travel, documents, blogging the case, deliveries, court fees, etc), and if reimbursed goes to charity as well.

Since we know that opposing counsel will have principles of their own to stick up for such as trade secrecy, we will in the future ask you to ask opposing counsel to also work on a pro bono basis, in order to best figure out through the legal process what is best for our democracy. Lawyers have few higher callings than bringing the people together to discuss democracy. Sequoia's lawyers will likely work for free in order to defend the important principles of trade secrecy and secret vote counting, so the issues can be most richly framed for the courts on both sides, without regard to the expense of lawyers fees. Therefore, when we meet Sequoia's lawyers in court, we will either meet like-minded public spirited lawyers who see the importance of the issues, or else we will meet paid mercenary lawyers (perhaps who are struggling to make ends meet themselves) or else we will find no lawyers prepared to defend Sequoia, because no one wishes to argue for secret vote counting at any price.

In the event we find no lawyers opposed, any possible opposition simply melts away. In the event we find pro bono publico lawyers on the other side, we know the arguments will be well served on both sides and justice ably served by a court very interested and listening to the debate. And, in the event we find paid mercenary lawyers, we shall sense that there comes a time every now and then when lawyering is not a job but a call to justice, and it will be hard for mercenary lawyers to beat We The People in a struggle for democracy, right here on our home soil.

We have no specific requests, other than this general request. Just please imagine what WE THE PEOPLE would do to restore the integrity of the vote, and do accordingly, knowing that it is important that you do it, but that "it" will not be televised by Sequoia or any of its allies, paid or volunteer. I know some of us have gotten so frustrated with the promise of America that we've become critics and dissenters, and have paid the price sometimes of being unfairly called anti-American when you've exercised your freedom to express difference: the only thing freedom is actually needed for. But unless you are so disappointed in the promise of America that your love is frustrated to no end, remember today the ones, those founding Patriots who pledged their lives, their fortune and their sacred honor. They were both many, and few, and yet they acted for the People nevertheless, in their time.

Paul R. Lehto, Attorney at Law
PO Box 1091
Everett, WA 98206-1091
425-257-2297
paul@lehtopenfield.com


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merwin Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Feb-05-05 02:53 PM
Response to Original message
1. Very well written!
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bloom Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Feb-05-05 03:02 PM
Response to Original message
2. This is fabulous!!
:bounce:

thanks
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sellitman Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Feb-05-05 03:03 PM
Response to Original message
3. Bless you!
Set up a fund and I will contribute. Tell me what else I can do and I will try. This is the most heartening letter I have ever read on DU.
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Joe Chi Minh Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Feb-05-05 03:13 PM
Response to Original message
4. Ah... but,
Edited on Sat Feb-05-05 03:19 PM by KCabotDullesMarxIII
Iosif Vissarionovich Stalin would have approved of their touchiness concerning their right to privacy in their machinations.
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suffragette Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Feb-05-05 03:15 PM
Response to Original message
5. thank you, thank you
And thank you again.
So much of what is currently wrong with the system has roots in the privatization of what absolutely MUST be a public process.
I'm in Seattle.
If I can help in any way with this effort, please let me know.
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troubleinwinter Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Feb-05-05 03:20 PM
Response to Original message
6. Nominated for homepage!!!
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glitch Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Feb-05-05 03:45 PM
Response to Reply #6
10. Likewise! nt
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Carl Brennan Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Feb-07-05 08:04 PM
Response to Reply #6
40. Done. Great work.
This is a classic conflict of property rights and democracy. Essentially those who own the voting machine companies control the vote count. Democracy is dead if proprietary rights are allowed to supercede the people right to know their vote has been counted correctly.
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housewolf Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Feb-05-05 03:26 PM
Response to Original message
7. I am with you...
Whatever I can do, however I can help.

This is the most hopeful piece I have read in a long time. Thank you.
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dzika Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Feb-05-05 03:35 PM
Response to Original message
8. Everyone should read this essay.
Great framing! I nominated for the home page too.

Thank you so much.

Please keep us informed of your efforts and don't hesitate to ask for help.
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BeFree Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Feb-05-05 03:38 PM
Response to Original message
9. Ahaa, Land Shark bares it's teeth!
The swimmers in the cesspool of stolen elections now have something else to be worried about! Look, down at the bottom! It's Land Shark!

Leaping Lawyers, Batman.

Eat 'em alive, Land Shark, eat 'em up, and spit 'em out. Let Democracy rule!
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Land Shark Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Feb-05-05 11:01 PM
Response to Reply #9
20. The encouragement of you all is a critical part of this, thanks!
Another way to help is by launching your own land shark (a lawyer with a lawsuit) in your state.

If you are interested in doing this in a state other than Washington (the only one I'm licensed in) then contact me if you wish and we can help you navigate some of the initial questions a lawyer may pose, such as do voters/taxpayers have standing to raise the issue (have they been legally hurt?), and so on. In taking on a pro bono case, lawyers will be investing a serious amount of time, so they will want to check it out before accepting the case.

Even if the lawyer were to decline the case because he's too busy or wonders if the case would lose on standing, you've (indirectly) lobbied another citizen, one who tends to talk to a lot of others about the law. And you can perhaps find some answers, or at least raise the question, of what it means if in fact the lawyer you consult with suggests that a citizen has no "standing" to object to the destruction of their democratic election rights. What that would then mean is that a citizen will not be heard to trouble the imperial courts of the United States with a trifling claim of lost democracy.

It's time to re-elect Mr. Smith, and sent him to the other Washington! (See the film Mr. Smith Goes to Washington; described at http://www.filmsite.org/mrsm.html )
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BeFree Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Feb-06-05 11:38 AM
Response to Reply #20
22. Encouragement
You got it! But let me tell you, Land Shark, your involvement is one of the most encouraging things I've read about in a long time (and I've been reading DU a long time).

I had not, until this point, considered enlisting a lawyer, but now that I have, it makes perfect sense. I will be contacting you, and, hoping you will be able to show me the ways of convincing said lawyer to join in.

Aye, Captain, there be blood in the water!

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BeFree Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Feb-07-05 09:50 AM
Response to Reply #20
33. Question
Instead of individual contacts, why not just tell all of us on DU how to navigate some of the initial questions? Surely they are plenty of folks, who would be willing to approach an attorney if they had the right questions.

Or know the answers, first. Is it not a saying that lwayers never ask a question if they don't already know the answer?
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Land Shark Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Feb-07-05 11:23 AM
Response to Reply #33
34. That saying only applies in court
outside of court lawyers should ask LOTS of questions.

I'll post some ideas on this by tomorrow (tuesday)
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BeFree Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Feb-07-05 07:13 PM
Response to Reply #34
38. Of course
In court, be prepared. On the streets: get all the info you can.

What do you think of a lawyer who told me this the other day: "I'd never use just half of someone's words to make a case." Hell, if I was a lawyer I'd try like hell to make them eat every word they said. What do you think?
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Land Shark Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Feb-07-05 07:56 PM
Response to Reply #38
39. Get in, do what needs to be done, then get out
Rarely is every word worth rebutting. Sometimes we agree on half and disagree on the other half.

But the above is a little confusing overall to respond to because in the end it all depends on context. The overall effect of using someone's words should be fair, but often cross examination (for example) can be unfair in the short term in insisting on a yes or no answer. But that might be seen as "fair" in a larger context, long term. (Example: Isn't it true the sun had set hours before the accident? Answer: yes. Rebuttal: But wasn't it also true that there were working streetlights every 100 feet along that stretch of raod? Answer: Yes. So cross examination COULD be fair provided that both sides do a good job in eliciting facts, which then have to be balanced in the trial by whoever decides, judge or jury). Bottom line is I can't really answer your question directly.

For example, sometimes taking a few words of another person can be fair because it adequately summarizes the whole situation, but sometimes it can be like taking Howard Dean's "scream" crescendo after a long buildup in a speech out of context and putting "the scream" into every quiet living room in America for maximum contrast. (People who were there, and even many viewers on seeing it the first time did not find it objectionable, but repetition beamed into quiet living rooms certainly helps make it that way)

One thing is that human beings virtually ALWAYS phrase stories differently depending on their audience. Politicians do this, so if you have enough video tape you can show those differences. The can always be made to look like lies, sometimes they are in fact lies, but not as often as they are made to look like lies. The same thing would happen to regular people if they were on video telling the story of their romantic date to their friend, their mother, and their pastor. There will usually at least be hilarious differences, if not seeming lies or at least deceptions. But that can also just be adjusting words for the perceived audience (and few people have the presence of mind (or paranoia) to adjust all of their words just in case someone someday puts them side by side)

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Bill Bored Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Feb-07-05 10:14 PM
Response to Reply #20
41. LS, I have a friend who's a lawyer.
Edited on Mon Feb-07-05 10:14 PM by Bill Bored
And he watches TV all the time!

He has worked for a state Senator, run local campaigns, has done election auditing, etc. and was briefly a corporate mercenary too. Now he's in private practice, but I can't get him into this stuff. I don't know where his head is at, but I sent him your post. Perhaps it will inspire him where I've failed to do so.

Our state is about to get rid of its lever machines and go with something else. I hope it's OpScan and paper, counted with some open source code like the SATs, etc. + random hand audits. I would not oppose full hand counting either. But at this point, it's up in the air.

Thanks for what you're doing LS!

I also think we should be suing the STATES and BOEs to prove our votes are being counted correctly as cast. As you say, we don't have to prove anything; the onus should be placed on THEM. This will force revelation of the source code, etc. during the process of discovery. It's similar to your strategy I think, but I humbly offer it to you if it will help, for without a transparent counting process the states would LOSE such a suit and reforms would have to flow.

What do you think about any or all of the above?
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Land Shark Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Feb-08-05 12:44 AM
Response to Reply #41
43. To Bill Bored who has a lawyer friend who watches TV all the time
Dear Bored,

Is this lawyer watching too much TV you? : ) OK, probably not since you're posting here on DU, unless you've got one of those media computers and the tv is streaming at you while you're on DU.

OK, your lawyer friend may not be interested because many lawyers jobs are very toxic because you deal with conflict professionally and the system is not currently set up to heal conflict in any kind of substantial way, so there's no relief (often) from the stress. Meanwhile, in the other professions doctors heal patients, psychiatrists heal the mind, Pastors priests and rabbis heal the soul, but lawyers are just supposed to kick butt. I guess. Actually lawyers should heal conflict if you want to make the above parallelism complete (and if they don't, either through settlement or a resolution at trial, they are not good lawyers even under our present system). So, if he's not interested, I'd say he's probably got other serious stresses going on.

Also, if the lawyer (for whatever reason) can't see the potential solution within the first hour or so of conversation, it will be hard as it would be with any human to hold their interest and turn them around later on. Most people don't realize that if they are in a lawyer's office asking them to do something for no pay (at least not up front) there's a sales job they're doing on the lawyer. Similarly, in talking to any person about a political issue and it's importance, in an important sense there's a sales job you're doing on the citizen about why the issue is important.

I agree with you on the subject of who bears the burden of proof (or ought to). The government does.

If we are denied the relief we seek, it will tend to show that the government (or the courts) consider the people and their democratic rights to be a mere abstraction, an annoyance of sorts, perhaps with no "standing" to trouble the courts with trifling concerns about elections and democracy. Because I don't think that a thoughtful court could really go that way (the implication would be that all of american history has been turned on its head because the govt is now far greater than the people from whence it sprang) I am therefore optimistic about our chances.
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Bill Bored Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Feb-08-05 02:35 PM
Response to Reply #43
44. No he is not me!
Edited on Tue Feb-08-05 02:36 PM by Bill Bored
He is a personal friend and I am surprised that given his background, which is mostly political in nature, he's not more interested in this. I'll see if he responds to your post which I sent him. You are right that he has other stresses, but again, given his background and the opportunity to change history, I'm surprised he's not more motivated.

He suggested that I try to get a job with the BOE, but that would be too little too late and they may in fact, through ignorance, become part of the problem. I'll think about it though. First I'd have to join a local Dem Club or something, and while I am a life-long Dem, I don't know if I want to be an actual "party hack" so to speak!

Thanks for your response though and keep up the good work!
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Land Shark Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Feb-08-05 05:01 PM
Response to Reply #44
45. I think if everyone pursues whatever they're most motivated on
it will turn out all right in the end. The only problem is, as they say, when good people do NOTHING. Plus we are each most effective when we follow and advocate the issues we are most interested in and support all issues with our votes and letters.
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Bill Bored Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Feb-09-05 12:04 AM
Response to Reply #45
46. I've raised the issue of suing the states here before.
Edited on Wed Feb-09-05 12:05 AM by Bill Bored
I think a lot of attorneys get too bogged down in election law. They keep thinking in terms of vote margins, whether this could change the outcome of a particular race, which candidate is harmed, etc. They don't get the fact that if the count is unreliable, the margins and the rest don't matter. I think this is why Kerry gave up in Ohio too. They saw 134,000-vote margin and said "forget about it!" But that's only about 5 vote swaps per precinct on average.

I think the publicity (and razor-thin margin) of the Gov's. race in your state might give you an edge. Good luck!
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Land Shark Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Feb-09-05 12:37 AM
Response to Reply #46
47. Not to mention the fact that there is no 134,000 vote margin
to start out with in Ohio in any meaningful sense of the word. If the system is flawed, from the standpoint of scientific accuracy and precision, one can not assume that Bush's "lead" of 134,000 is a hard number that we then have to subtract discrepancies from. The starting total is itself a product of discrepancy, and unreliable.

Bottom line: Assuming we want an election system that works, computers are unsuitable because there's no reason for election losers to trust computers. And the losers perspective is the only one that counts, since for some reason winners always seem to think th process was fair.
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Time for change Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Feb-05-05 04:14 PM
Response to Original message
11. Thank you for defending our freedom and democracy
Nominated for home page.
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JohnGideon Donating Member (492 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Feb-05-05 04:16 PM
Response to Original message
12. I Will Add My Nomination Too
and kick this at the same time
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Amaryllis Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Feb-05-05 04:17 PM
Response to Original message
13. See this thread for a lot more follow-the-money dirt on voting machine
Edited on Sat Feb-05-05 04:36 PM by Amaryllis
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MelissaB Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Feb-05-05 04:36 PM
Response to Reply #13
17. Great link! Thanks!
I added it to the daily thread to remind people what we are up against.
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Helga Scow Stern Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Feb-05-05 04:18 PM
Response to Original message
14. What similar action could we undetake in California, I wonder?
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msongs Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Feb-06-05 08:38 PM
Response to Reply #14
29. we are writing a CA e-voting initiative, still taking ideas....
we are in riverside.

one term calls for open source code of any system.

Msongs
www.msongs.com/political-shirts.htm


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Land Shark Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Feb-06-05 09:52 PM
Response to Reply #29
30. While open source code is a step forward it still doesn't
allow citizens to observe the vote counting. That's an important if not critical component of verifiability, specially if one wishes to allow non-experts (citizens) to verify, which ought to be the goal, since it is the citizens who are to be served by the election and who must be shown the election actually fair so they can accept the results. And the practical cost of computer forensics to determine if there was any self-deleting "patch" or virus on the software on election day would be enormous. (think small counties -- impossible)

I favor hand counting as many as possible, op-scanning the rest if necessary. If the ballots are shuffled/randomized beforehand, any statistically significant difference between the counting groups would be a red flag, and we could get increased accuracy WITHOUT citizens or candidates needing to rally for or raise money for a recount. (govt pays for everything part of the initial count)
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Helga Scow Stern Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Feb-07-05 02:15 PM
Response to Reply #29
37. Isn't there a huge hurry here, with Conny McCormack
rushing to undo some of what Shelley did?
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JohnGideon Donating Member (492 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Feb-05-05 04:22 PM
Response to Original message
15. I Also Need To Add...
VotersUnite.org has been assisting, in a small way, with the endeavors of Paul Lehto. We will continue with that assistance in the future. Keep an eye on our website (www.votersunite.org ) for information and status as we go through the lawsuit.

I will also do my best to keep the DU folks apprised of what is taking place.

We will have t-shirts and possibly sweatshirts for donations for some expenses. Keep an eye out for them on our website.

Thanks to everyone at DU for your support
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Stevepol Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Feb-05-05 04:27 PM
Response to Original message
16. If this legal suit leads where I think it will, I would willingly give
as much money as I could afford to help the suit. I believe this is the most critical issue our country has ever been faced with and I am proud that there are lawyers who are taking it upon themselves to stand up for the democracy. There's NEVER been a greater need than now for those of good will and true patriotism to stand up for the people's voting rights. I personally believe we no longer have a democracy because the voting machines now determine the winners of our elections. Kerry, I feel 100% sure in my own mind, won the last election handily if the votes had been counted fairly. You have hit on exactly the right course to pursue. If you can get other organizations like the ACLU and the NAACP and others to join you in this suit, perhaps you can go round the country suing every last one of these companies until they come back to earth and turn the keys to our democracy back to we the people. You have many sources you can go to for an endless supply of evidence of illegality and questionable business practices: Bev Harris's Black Box Voting org, Steven Freeman and his cohorts who have done statistical analyses of the last election, TruthIsAll here on the DU site and many others by now. All of them will be willing I'm sure to lend you all the aid and comfort you need.

Thank you.

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Land Shark Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Feb-05-05 06:04 PM
Response to Original message
18. Thank you everybody for these comments, hope you like this too!

www.votersunite.org has a neat design for a T-shirt that I co-developed with them that you may like. There's a picture pretty much just like the front on the home page except that the voting boxes are a touch screen, and the stylus is pointing to "MY VOTE" but the machine is checking "MACHINE VOTE".

Over and under the touch screen, it says

DON'T OUTSOURCE


OUR DEMOCRACY

letters in orange, of course. Touch screen in black.

Contact jgideon@votersunite.org or ellen@votersunite.org for information on this shirt. All proceeds to votersunite because they hosted the original research paper for download and have been all kinds of help!
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kster Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Feb-05-05 08:53 PM
Response to Original message
19. I'll contribute.........nt
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understandinglife Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Feb-06-05 09:24 AM
Response to Original message
21. a TBO;24/7 kick (nt)



PROVE MY VOTE COUNTS,NOW
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Junkdrawer Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Feb-06-05 12:02 PM
Response to Original message
23. Leave it to a REAL attorney to hit the heart of the matter...
"Bipartisan Election Boards" have become the window dressing to hide the central fact:

As fundamentalist-funded computerized vote counting companies have emerged, right wing Republicans, clearly out of step with the country's polity, have taken over. And, once in power, the politicians have written laws cementing the hold of these companies and thus, the politicians true power base.

The ONLY way out: Paper Ballots Hand Counted.
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Land Shark Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Feb-06-05 04:13 PM
Response to Reply #23
24. Excellent Point Junkdrawer, all the reforms in the world are
only windowdressing on top of secret vote counting. Thank you for your observations, and compliment.
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Al-CIAda Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Feb-06-05 04:17 PM
Response to Original message
25. Nice
:thumbsup:
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GuvWurld Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Feb-06-05 06:42 PM
Response to Original message
26. The Nobility of the Legal Profession
My sister is in law school right now and I've been asking her about the mood among her peers; their sense of how drastically things have changed. About three weeks ago I wrote:
"I don't have preconceived notions about lawyers-in-training. I have high hopes that some revolutionary leaders will emerge from your ranks. Our uprising will not be violent. It will be intellectual and peaceful. Start conversations like that with your classmates and tell me what happens."
After reading Land Shark's letter above, I immediately sent it to my sister with this: "I think from now on, judgment of the nobility of the legal profession will rest with how it allows or combats fascism."

Way to set the bar, Mr. Lehto. Your leadership is celebrated here.
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bleever Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Feb-06-05 07:37 PM
Response to Original message
27. Very well said, indeed. You have a big support group here, maybe
the most fanatical about the principles you elucidated and are defending.

Thank you. Keep us posted, let us help.
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understandinglife Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Feb-06-05 08:00 PM
Response to Original message
28. Was reminiscing on what an honor it was to meet you because of DU...
Edited on Sun Feb-06-05 08:01 PM by understandinglife
....and your work since then has been both inspirational and a source of hope, 'Land Shark.'

Dug 'way back' (at least it feels that way since so much has happened in these past few months) in the DU archives and found those first exchanges:

http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.ph...

We're all ready to continue to help you any way we can (including nominating your post for the front page!!! where it belongs).

Peace.


BE THE BU$H OPPOSITION; 24/7
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Andy_Stephenson Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Feb-06-05 11:48 PM
Response to Original message
31. Kick
:kick:
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Straight Shooter Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Feb-07-05 09:22 AM
Response to Original message
32. What rational person would argue with this logic:
Edited on Mon Feb-07-05 09:26 AM by Straight Shooter
"If they want to retain secrets or trade secrets, they are free to go back to the private sector, where they came from."

IMHO, there is no credible argument in defense of so-called proprietary rights to keep source code hidden from all but the privileged few. We're not talking about the secret recipe of KFC here. We're talking about the recipe which "cooked" our election.

edit: Pardon my egregious manners. Thanks, Land Shark! :thumbsup:
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blackspade Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Feb-07-05 01:20 PM
Response to Original message
35. Right ON!!!
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Melissa G Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Feb-07-05 02:14 PM
Response to Original message
36. Kicking for Land Shark The Great! n/t
:kick:
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lady lib Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Feb-07-05 10:26 PM
Response to Original message
42. This is the most heartening thing I've read in a while.
I'll contribute whatever I can afford.
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Wilms Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Feb-09-05 04:54 AM
Response to Original message
48. Right on, Jaws. n/t
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Land Shark Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Feb-09-05 10:01 AM
Response to Reply #48
49. Thanks, but remember you don't need to be an attorney
to "launch your own land shark". Just think about all the reasons why no person of any party can reasonably find secret vote COUNTING (as opposed to secret ballots) to be acceptable.

If we simply take the People through this simple thinking process, it is only a question of how much time it will take before secret vote counting is gone.

Bottom line is that the winner almost never sees a problem with the elections (except for Christopher Hitchens in the March 05 Vanity Fair who didn't support Kerry but sees huge problems in Ohio) so it is the perspective of the loser that is most relevant to deciding if a system has the confidence of the public.

And I can't see why any INFORMED loser (at least) would EVER accept a computer based result in a close election, ESPECIALLY with secret vote counting but very likely even with "open source code" because one still needs to verify that source code was the same on all machines, there was no intrusion, etc..... And if the Pentagon can not protect its computers from intrusion, what is the cost for our elections to do the same level of "protection"? Machines are also expensive bottlenecks that can create huge lines, while with paper ballots in a pinch you can vote it on your lap or against a wall and GET ON WITH the rest of your day.

Computers are wonderful, there are some limits though to where they are appropriate to use, that's all. The biggest divide on this issue is between people who love computers and are still wowed by them vs people who love computers but see that there are some limitations and risks that make them inappropriate for voting.
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Wilms Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Feb-09-05 02:25 PM
Response to Reply #49
50. Agreed n/t
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Bill Bored Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Feb-09-05 06:25 PM
Response to Original message
51. Hey Land Shark, there is a lot of pending legislation
requiring public disclosure of the machine code. I don't know if any of it is law yet, but it's all over the place -- Congress, state legislatures, etc. Now if any one of these becomes law, how would it affect your case? Let's say to do business in Iowa, Diebold needs to release some code. It's held in escrow at the state capitol for inspection by the public. I know this doesn't mean it's the actual code used in every machine on Election Day, but doesn't it make the Trade Secret argument sort of moot?

Now, personally, I don't see what's so proprietary about a simple counting program in the first place. A lot of software patents are really overdone, but that's another subject.

I was just wondering what you think of something that could be put into law that says "No concealed counting of any kind." In other words, regardless of the methodology, the vendors and the BOEs have to prove to everyone's satisfaction that the counting process is visible and correct. This may be impossible to implement with computers, but there may be a way, through the use of some type of open-source authentication software. In other words, the code itself is verifiable on every machine, and it's not proprietary either.

In any case, without getting into too many technical details here, is it something that could be legislated, and if so, why not push for it in all these election reform bills now being introduced?
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Land Shark Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Feb-09-05 09:53 PM
Response to Reply #51
52. Don't think we need a law change, at least not here in WA
Because this is based on a currently existing right of the people to observe/witness the vote count and to have open meetings for the same. Open source code still does not allow anyone to see what's going on, and you still have to verify that each machine is using an unpatched, virus free version of the software that was not accessed or hacked at any time, etc.

Because the winner always accepts the process as fair, and because we need the continuing consent of the governed, it is only the loser's perspective that really counts. (thus, "sore loserman" is an extraordinarily bad argument from the standpoint of democratic integrity beause the loser is entitled to investigate and get information to show whether or not the election is on the up and up).

I don't think a fully informed loser can accept (freely and without reservation) the result of a computer election, at least not without a lot of expensive computer security followed by forensic analysis, all of which is very expensive.

Whereas, things that can be monitored by humans can be done for free by volunteers, and actually we should as a civic policy encourage as many people as possible to participate in elections. Hand counts, followed by a party for democracy!!
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Bill Bored Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Feb-09-05 10:50 PM
Response to Reply #52
53. I get it, but consider this:
Assume that it's practical to verify that each machine is using an unpatched, virus free version of the software that was not accessed or hacked at any time, etc. -- exactly the same software that was subject to public expert inspection.

Couldn't it be argued in court that such procedures are equivalent to observing/witnessing the vote count?

As an added precaution, you have the voter-verified paper ballots and random surprise audits.

I'm playing devil's advocate here because I know that there are ways to make the process secure. Whether any of these precautions are actually taken by the vendors and BOEs at this point is another matter. No election should really be allowed to take place without them.

The fact that such procedures are not being implemented lends credence to the charge of negligence and could help your case. But the fact that they are feasible might weaken it.
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Land Shark Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Feb-09-05 11:49 PM
Response to Reply #53
54. Feasability of precautions
Even if the foolproof system could be built to satisfy experts (and that would have to include firewalls protecting even the power cords, since it is now an undergraduate electrical/computer engineering project to multiplex a data signal over a power line) such a foolproof system would be (1) pretty expensive (2) impossibly expensive for small counties who probably wouldn't even have the required techs for it and most importantly (3) the average non-technical expert would not be able to independently understand the "beauty and perfection" of the system, and can not be FORCED to have confidence in it. The system should be something every person of even below average intelligence can figure out is fair and relatively secure.

Highly technical systems deny non-technical citizens their right to observe, inspect and verify. And, as I've said before, the winners rarely doubt the integrity of the election system, the test is whether the losers can freely accept it without being pressured. When that happens, you know you have a good system. Election systems should not be built on faith or tech-worship but on transparency and potential validation by every interested citizen.
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Bill Bored Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Feb-11-05 02:52 AM
Response to Reply #54
56. Good point!
The techies may have confidence in the system because they understand how it works, but the rest of the people won't. I think I like it!

On the other hand, there would be people who wouldn't trust human counts, and for good reason. There would have to be some checks and balances there too, but presumably these would be comprehensible to most voters.

BTW, I was thinking of applying digital signatures to the code on every machine to prove its authenticity. It's not hard to check this at all. It's as easy as making a credit card purchase on a secure web server. I agree that not everyone would have confidence in that though. Plenty of people would probably not put their credit card number on the web, even though with proper security, it's no more risky than any other venue.

I think you may have something! It goes to the electorate's confidence in the system, regardless of the reality which may be fine.

I think what we have now is the worst of both worlds though: an insecure system with only marginal confidence of the electorate.

You might consider using the numbers from the Mitofsky exit polls that show only about half of all voters believed their votes would be counted as cast. Let me know if you need a link to this.
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Land Shark Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Feb-11-05 11:01 AM
Response to Reply #56
57. Correctly designed, human counts are VERY accurate
Bill Bored said some people won't trust human counts. This is true only if they don't understand why hand recounts are better than your normal human error.

in a typical hand recount, mutually opposed parties count ballots and they DON'T MOVE ON until all parties agree, for example, that pile X contains a certain number of votes. With motivated parties under controlled circumstances to prevent stealing or hiding ballots, this is an extremely accurate process, and more accurate than machines. Legislatures have recognized this around the country by having hand recounts come AFTER machine recounts, because they are progressively more accurate methods.

Also with machines, IF AND ONLY IF they work properly, tend to have fewer errors (but still have error rates around a half percent or more, depending on machine) when the errors do happen, unlike human errors, they tend to be larger because humans tend to catch the larger errors, intuitively sensing something is wrong and rechecking, which the machines don't do.

But the least trustable method of counting of all is the secret counting we are recently replacing our democracy with, followed by technically non-secret (open source code) methods that the average person can't readily understand to be fair, even if an expert swears on a stack of bibles that it's an elegant system. I would think of it this way: along with the right to vote MUST come the right to have one's vote counted, or else the right to vote is meaningless. Along with the right to have one's vote counted SHOULD come the right to understand and VERIFY, without hiring an expert, that the counting was proper, if the citizen chooses to investigate.

That's what we need for meaningful verified voting that respects all citizens' rights to vote.
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Bill Bored Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Feb-11-05 02:32 PM
Response to Reply #57
58. Makes sense.
Hand counts were given a bad name in 2000 in FL, although they were not the cause of the debacle. That's what started the whole HAVA disaster.

There are a few problems though, and again, I'm just playing devil's advocate here:

1. How do we know the counters are mutually opposed? There are both DINOs and RINOs. Look what happened with the BOEs in Ohio. They didn't want to conduct the hand recounts, even though it was legally mandated when the recount samples didn't match the machines. In FL 2000, they wanted to go home for Thanksgiving instead of doing recounts for the highest office in the land. We can say they were traitors to democracy or whatever we think, but it happened, and may continue to happen.

2. The machines, if properly designed, are objective. Computer errors are mostly or always due to human error or tampering by programmers, users, hackers, etc. If the machines can be properly tested, secured and audited, they should be 100% accurate. Otherwise, our entire financial system would be fraudulent and our technological advancements which depend on computers would be impossible. I think the real problem (other than the perception/confidence/opacity problem) is that these systems were poorly designed, or designed to facilitate fraud and are not being properly audited.

I agree with the idea that the process needs to be transparent and this is probably the crux of the argument anyway, but we can't just claim that all the machines are flawed without evidence. Too much of the rest of our society depends on computing. I'm sure you know all this though.

Again I wish you luck!

Now here's another question for you:

Meanwhile, should we still be fighting to improve the existing technology and auditing? If we finally get it right, it might weaken your case and I don't want to do that. On the other hand, time is of the essence and we can't afford any more fraudulent elections!
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Land Shark Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Feb-11-05 11:17 PM
Response to Reply #58
59. Can't confuse controversy with substance, necessarily....
There is no one that can't be made to look bad by an aggressive intellectual, political operative or lawyer, not even Mother Teresa. Google Christopher Hitchens and Mother Teresa if you doubt me.

Hand counts done right are very accurate. Hanging chads were more the problem, and debates about standards.

You need to distinguish between a computer which in theory operates entirely on machine logic, and a computer RUNNING A PROGRAM which is a wacky thing sometimes. But the whole idea that "machines don't make errors, only humans do" is almost meaningless, because one can ALWAYS take a BLAME THE HUMANS approach. i.e. it is always bad design, bad quality control, bad use, bad programming, etc.

But then, if it is ALWAYS human error no matter what, there is no sense in setting up a dualism of machine error v. human error because there is literally NEVER machine error.

Voting companies take great advantage of this "blame the humans" approach to imply their product's perfection. But who cares, if the way the things WORK IN REALITY is defective?

For example, if we know that a one inch ledge sticking up will trip up 21% of all passersby even if painted yellow, is this "human error" too?

A more meaningful but still flawed distinction can be made between OPERATOR error and "machine error" (which is an error created regardless of the correct operation of the machine even if as result of human programming of the machine at the manufacturer).

But in the end, it only matters whether the darn ski matches the darn skier. Who cares if the ski has some kind of objective perfection if it doesn't interact with the skier in a good fashion?

Sometimes I think certain people, not thinking of anyone in particular right now, should just fall down and worship technology. They certainly don't see it as a useful tool, something that works great here and there, but not necessarily everywhere.

Here's one of my favorite misleading "blame the humans" approaches:

1. Elections officials claim that there is "no evidence" of any fraud or malfunctions. OR
2. The problem has been caught and corrected. No data lost.

So you see, with perfect machines that never make errors, and election officials with "bulletproof" logic like that above, we live in the best of all possible worlds.

Pangloss would be proud, (if you read Candide).

"Human factors" is the study of how humans interact with machines and environments and it is quite predictable in many cases what the failure rates will be. With regard to elections, the really sophisticated operators know fairly precisely what the failure rates will be, and that's why they argue one way or the other for certain procedures. For example, since provisional voters are assumed to be more Democratic than Republican, problems with signatures on provisional ballots will find the Democrats arguing that mailing a request for the voter to mail back a signature on, along with a phone call, should work. While Republicans will say that the voter MUST COME IN to sign in person "to prevent fraud", which creates more of a barrier resulting in more rejected ballots, when the voter has already come in once....

Finally, drawing metaphors to the financial system being reliable is misleading, in that there is a story every two months or so on our local made about an ATM spitting out $4000 for example, which happened just last week. In addition, a consumer has MUCH MORE TIME to correct an error with a bank (a minimum of 60 days plus courtesy reverses for much longer after that) while elections start on the way to becoming permanent as soon as there's a leader, and are certified final within weeks.

You might not even have your bank statement by the time the election is certified, if the errors happened on the same day!
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Land Shark Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Feb-12-05 12:29 AM
Response to Reply #59
60. And here's a good quote on human vs. system error
A point that needs to be stressed is that if even the least educated or the most visually-impaired voter is unable to vote, it is the system (not the voter) that is broken. It is elected leaders who have the responsibility to remedy the defects.

If we continue to believe voting is a right, it can not b burdened with things up front that trip people up unless there is a compelling governmental interest in doing so. Even the interest in preventing fraud can be better met by post-election investigations, so long as there is some kind of check up front, like a signature.
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Bill Bored Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Feb-12-05 11:57 PM
Response to Reply #60
61. This is one reason why I'm interested in the machines' user manuals.
I have a theory that they did a focus group or something and figured out how to set up the user interface so that it would confuse just enough people to swing a close election without outright fraud. Lesser penalties and more plausible deniability that way if caught, and to the extent they actually have any real "moral values", they could sleep better at night knowing that it was all the "voters' fault." Fits their whole Darwinian view of the world too (even though they say they don't believe in evolution!), i.e., anyone smart enough to figure out how the machine works gets to have their vote counted. Just need to figure out how this could favor one candidate over another.

I can see how someone could self-justify stealing an election this way, but not by outright hacking. It's your yellow pavement argument, but without the paint.
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Land Shark Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Feb-13-05 12:11 AM
Response to Reply #61
63. Motive, what if somebody thought that...
we were in a battle of civilizations between Christian and Islamic, and that John Kerry was "Unfit for Command". It isn't too difficult to imagine that frame of mind, and it exists in hundreds of thousands or millions of people.

Justifying a little election rigging to "save" one's country during a battle of civilizations from being taken over by a peacenik Unfit for Command that the "liberal media" was unjustly trying to enthrone as President would be the least they could do, in their mind.

Especially with others putting their lives on the line in Iraq, etc.
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Bill Bored Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Feb-12-05 11:58 PM
Response to Reply #59
62. The ATM transactions aren't anonymous either! nt
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Amaryllis Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Feb-20-05 10:19 PM
Response to Reply #54
73. I shouldn't have to keep calling my friends who are IT or software experts
Edited on Sun Feb-20-05 10:21 PM by Amaryllis
and saying, "Is this secure? If we did it this way, would that be secure? What if this security measure were built in; could they still hack it? " And just today I got really pissed and thought, Dammit, Paul is right. I am not a stupid person and I shouldn't have to keep asking computer experts to know if this or that way of doing it is secure! The average ordinary person without expert knowledge should be able to trust their vote will be counted, period. Without having to consult experts. (Stomping my foot for emphasis, dammit.)

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GetTheRightVote Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Feb-10-05 12:32 AM
Response to Original message
55. A very good read
:kick:
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Land Shark Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Feb-13-05 06:04 AM
Response to Reply #55
65. Thanks to both GetTheRightVote and super simian1 n/t
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super simian Donating Member (292 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Feb-13-05 12:38 AM
Response to Original message
64. Music to my ears!
Land Shark, this is very refreshing and exactly to my way of thinking.

I was dismayed by the emergence of e-voting which (coincidently) happened in California around the time that the state was hijacked by the Gropenator. That was when people who wanted to vote early could use touch screens. I was a poll watcher during that election but was kicked out when it came time to count the ballots. They had already declared victory for A.S.s before one single vote was counted. I guess they must have based this on the exit polls, which (for some strange reason) were still thought to be reliable predictors.

I know it's impossible, but just the same there are two more words you could add to your essay that for me would make it perfect. These are 1) revote and 2) impeachment. But this won't stop me from thanking you for a truly great effort!!!

:yourock:
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corbett Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Feb-13-05 01:56 PM
Response to Original message
66. Kickin' For The Truth
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Land Shark Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Feb-14-05 10:52 AM
Response to Original message
67. I read ALL comments above, I REALLY appreciate them!
and i'm not too shy to self-kick. : )
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kster Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Feb-16-05 11:37 AM
Response to Original message
68. Any idea
when this will take place?
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glitch Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Feb-16-05 02:04 PM
Response to Original message
69. 2-5 Paul Lehto radio interview with Mike McCormick KEXP archived mp3
http://www.radio4all.net/index.php?op=program-info&prog...

Going to listen as soon as it's finished downloading!
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keepthemhonest Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Feb-16-05 08:16 PM
Response to Original message
70. i am so out of the loop
This is the first time I have seen and read this wonderful piece you have put together, I am so inspired and you are my hero. I have seen your other posts but this one blows those great posts out of the water.I hope we have other's out there like yourself who are willing to fight for our democracy.

Read this and be inspired, very inspired, Like you have not been in long time.Thanks again Paul.
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Peace Patriot Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Feb-17-05 04:37 PM
Response to Original message
71. KICK! n/t
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Trish1168 Donating Member (371 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Feb-17-05 05:42 PM
Response to Original message
72. Good luck
I hope and pray you win. If not, I hope and pray you appeal it all the way up.

I understand that the supreme court did an ubelievable thing in 2000. I would like to believe that they'd want to keep the integrity of democracy (probably Thomas wouldn't). Maybe they get it now, since Bush and co have been ruled against many times, and all they do is ignore them. What's the supreme court going to do....hold them in contempt?

However, if they rule that lack of transparency violates the intent of the constitution...then the states would be forced to change to a more open system.

I wish we could fix this before 2006.

I fear the damage W and sociopath Cheney can do in the meanwhile.
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Land Shark Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Feb-21-05 10:32 AM
Response to Original message
74. I've been involved in computer forensics lawsuits and I
still need expert help evaluating some of the stuff going on with voting systems. So it was a no brainer for me to realize that the average person can not be put to the burden of hiring or needing an expert to even have a clue about whether their democracy is working or not. thanks Amaryllis for post 73 (10 or so above).
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JunkYardDogg Donating Member (618 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Feb-21-05 03:41 PM
Response to Original message
75. LandShark-Us Animals fight to the End
I'm Emailing you my argument to impound the E-Machines
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