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Bill Bored Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-20-06 10:38 PM
Original message
Land Shark's "Takings" Claims by Voting System Vendors Now Questionable
Edited on Sun Aug-20-06 10:47 PM by Bill Bored
Our esteemed colleague Land Shark has stated in his opposition to HR 550, that the requirements of the bill for NO undisclosed voting system software may result in lawsuits by companies who oppose such disclosure. He refers to such claims, which he anticipates will be made on behalf of the vendors, as "takings" claims because the vendors will try to prove in court that the government is "taking" their intellectual property by forcing them to disclose trade secret software used in public elections.

The following article recently caught my eye in which two vendors, Sequoia, whom Land Shark is suing, and Hart Intercivic, have already agreed to abide by any future laws requiring open source software:

<http://www.votetrustusa.org/index.php?option=com_conten... >

While I don't mean to impugn Land Shark's integrity and I defend his right to his opinions, legal and otherwise, it does seem as if this particular argument against HR 550 may be rendered moot, at least as far as Hart and Sequoia are concerned. The above Open Voting Foundation article would seem to indicate that at least these two vendors will not initiate takings claims if the law forces them to disclose their software.

I'd be interested in hearing a counter argument about this; I'm sure one can somehow be devised.

HR 550 still has the major flaw of not ruling out privatization of audits, inadequate audits, or unfairly conducted audits. But the auditing problem is hopefully something that can be resolved if the bill ever gets a fair hearing, and I believe that opponents of the bill should concentrate their efforts on improving it by resolving these issues, rather than gutting the bill entirely. It is after all, triage for our election system which belongs in the Emergency Room as much as it does the Court Room!
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Wilms Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-20-06 11:19 PM
Response to Original message
1. Why did you have to do it like that?
You want to step outside, or somethin'. :spank:

Full Disclosure: I consider BB a buddy, and I think he considers me one, though after this post...)


Here's where I think your post misses the point.

First, and foremost, you're NY attitude problem is showing. Go on. Say it. "Takes one to know one." :D


Next, you didn't post email addresses for Sequoia and Hart so we can send them our thanks and praise. :eyes: Do you think for one minute "Open Software" buys us confidence in software usage for election management? :eyes: :eyes: Have you been breathing subway air a lot? :crazy:


Then we got the other vendors, Diebold (who high-tailed out of NC :yoiks: ), and ES&S, (whose machine's essentially works by reloading the operating system every frickin' election :argh: ). And don't forget MicroVote. They're always under the radar. }( And of course Liberty, the other foreign vendor :scared: .


You say, "The auditing problem is hopefully something that can be resolved if the bill ever gets a fair hearing"? Is Holt deaf? Does he not know that the 2%, alone, ain't enough in enough cases as to render it, ok, I won't say useless, but...


So play nice, Bill. I don't want anyone winding up in the emergency room. ;)

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Bill Bored Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-21-06 02:26 AM
Response to Reply #1
2. Next you'll be telling me to vote absentee!
Wilms, none of what you are saying is the point of the original post.
(It's my OP so I get to say what the point is.)

The point, as explained in the OP, is that one reason we have been asked not to support HR 550 is because of "takings" cases. I didn't invent this shit; I'm just repeating what Land Shark said. I assume he hasn't made it up either.

Now, so far, two major vendors have said they will obey any law that requires disclosure of software. So where are the "takings" cases going to come from?

Diebold??? Who cares what Diebold does??? Don't we want them out of the elections business anyway???

And BTW, the last time I checked, operating systems were software too.
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Wilms Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-21-06 02:40 AM
Response to Reply #2
3. I know that none of what I said is the point of the original post.
Except the picking a fight with you part. :evilgrin:

That's right Bill ONE reason we have been asked not to support HR 550 is because of "takings" cases. One reason.

And another thing...one reason we have been asked to support HR 550 is because as law it would require disclosure of software. I could argue that if the software is disclosed, what's the point? But I won't. There's still a bunch of vendors who haven't disclosed their software.

BTW, I wasn't implying operating systems weren't software. I was pointing out that the ES&S software being reloaded each time seems another opportunity to place the "little man inside the ballot box". You know which one I'm talkin' about.

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Bill Bored Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-21-06 03:00 AM
Response to Reply #3
4. Oh, that one! Well ES&S has problems even complying with current
Edited on Mon Aug-21-06 03:02 AM by Bill Bored
standards because of that. But those ain't the law, are they? So MAYBE if HR 550 passed, ES&S would have to fix that little bug/feature.

The Diebold stuff you mentioned had to do with operating systems. (I thought I saw a Hursti II in there somewhere.)

Actually, on edit, you kind of conflated ES&S and Diebold.
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Wilms Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-21-06 03:35 AM
Response to Reply #4
5. Good one on the potential for ES&S having to do something about it.

No Hursti II implied. But if you're saying Diebold scrambled claiming they didn't have standing to disclose Windows CE I'd have to ask if you think other vendors don't use it, too?

And on that subject, would HR550 passing rile Microsoft? Force vendors to "retool" with Linux or somethin'?

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Bill Bored Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-21-06 01:34 PM
Response to Reply #5
11. Could be re MS. No one besides Diebold uses Win CE that I know of. nt
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Land Shark Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-21-06 08:23 AM
Response to Reply #2
7. Link to my original statement you are referring to would be nice
shouldn't be my job, so let's patch up this little oversight, BB.
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autorank Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-21-06 01:09 PM
Response to Reply #1
10. Agreed! n/t
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diva77 Donating Member (999 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Aug-23-06 03:01 AM
Response to Reply #1
30. this post is sooooo hilarious, I can hardly contain myself!! you have
Edited on Wed Aug-23-06 03:02 AM by diva77
taken blogging to a whole new level -- with the combo of the smilies and the comedy artfully enabling the reader to absorb the more serious underlying message...why...it's pure cyberpoetry!!!

:spray:
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Land Shark Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-21-06 06:55 AM
Response to Original message
6. Please give me a heads up in the future if you want to try to personally
Edited on Mon Aug-21-06 07:00 AM by Land Shark
discredit some position you think i've taken. I was busy with my Zogby thread and various other pressing things and didn't see this. <http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.ph... > In any event, to be attacked on a day like this with a personal thread on a day when I also had DU's number one post allows me the illusion of some minor importance, and for that attention and admitted indulgence, I thank you.

The actual contract language for Sequoia in Alameda (thanks for recognizing that I've personally sued Sequoia so I may be in a position to know things about them) states:

In the event that "open source code" becomes a requirement of *California* law, Sequoia will work with the CA Secretary of State under the rules/regulations then in effect *at that time* to comply with the law. <http://www.openvotingconsortium.org/ad/alameda-sequoia-... >


The above is taken direct from paragraph 12 of the contract. Numerous conclusions flow from this language and general principles of law and law-making that both weaken and destroy the premises and conclusions of the OP:

1. Compliance is not promised, "working with" the CA SOS toward compliance is what is promised.
2. Agreements to agree are unenforceable, and this raises the issue of an unenforceable contract because there is some additional act contemplated before the parties have a complete meeting of the minds, i.e. a "working with" the CA SOS.
3. They can lobby their hearts out against an "open source code" CA bill, and allow specifically the threat of litigation regarding takings to have its effect on legislators' calculations. It is litigation RISK that people consider, and the expense even if one wins...
4. The specific language says that they will "work with" the CA SOS under "rules/regulations" then in effect, but at the moment of passage of "open source code" law there would be NO RULES yet in effect because those have to be promulgated after the law is passed and after the SOS obtains legislative authority to engage in rulemaking from the Legislature. This further illustrates the reality that there is an "agreement to agree" here because there will be NO rules/regulations at that particular moment...

AND EVEN IF "COMPLIANCE" IN THE SENSE WE ALL ASSUME HAS ACTUALLY BEEN PROMISED, THEN:
5. There's nothing wrong with or inconsistent with complying with but still suing for damages! When one experiences a regulatory taking one is necessarily complying with the law, that's why your "property" is gone, baby!
6. They are not promising compliance with federal or HR 550 open source code law, only California open source code law.
7. EVERYONE IS EXPECTED TO COMPLY WITH ALL LAWS, SO SEQUOIA IS NOT GIVING UP ANY VALUABLE RIGHT PER SE, OTHER THAN THE "RIGHT" OF CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE if that is a "right." But Sequoia's contracts will typically pledge that Sequoia will comply with the laws and regulations applicable to the jurisdiction anyway.

(on edit) 8. As a contract, Sequoia would try to claim, as they have in my case, that ONLY PARTIES to the contract could enforce it, thus limiting application of this provision to Alameda County only. See, e.g., www.votersunite.org/info/lehtolawsuit.asp (I believe it's in Sequoia's federal court motion to dismiss, later denied)

So, this contract language is weak, likely unenforceable, ambiguous, and not at all inconsistent with making a claim for a regulatory/constitutional takings claim, nor is it inconsistent with terrorizing the legislature via lobbyists with the prospect of said claims against the State as a lobbying strategy, whether overt or covert, to defeat the bill. Ultimately, such language is duplicative of other language that is probably in this particular contract, and is certainly in other Sequoia contracts I know of.

To top it all off, Alan Dechert of the Open Voting Consortium which is the souce of the votetrustusa press release above, thinks Holt's source code disclosure provision is very defective and easily worked around.

Bill Bored, I remain gratified that you would afford this opportunity for discussion of these important subjects.


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Bill Bored Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-21-06 01:54 PM
Response to Reply #6
12. Discussion is what I had in mind.
Edited on Mon Aug-21-06 02:00 PM by Bill Bored
Your perception of an attack is misplaced and the potential for takings claims has been stated by you many times and I would therefore think is common knowledge among those who read DU and Scoop to name just two places off the top of my head where I think this has appeared.

All I said in my OP was that it's QUESTIONABLE. Are you saying that anyone who questions you is somehow attacking you? Gee wiz! If that's the case, forget that I even brought it up!

Your word is now the law and we won't need to have any further discussions about anything in that case.

But in case you meant something else, HR 550 says there will be no undisclosed software so I can't see how OVF believes that this could be weak or circumvented.

However, my point was about the takings claims and you've addressed it as I knew you would. I would think that a federal law requiring disclosure of software in voting systems would somehow supersede a California law that did not. Could the contract language limiting itself to Cal. law be interpreted to mean federal law that also applies to the state of Cal then?

In any case, I agree that it's not inconsistent to sue for something while complying with a law. But here is what the cited OVF article actually said:

Hart InterCivic became the second voting machine vendor to agree to comply with any requirement to publicly disclose technical information about how their voting machines work should that become a requirement of state or federal law. At today's San Mateo County Board of Supervisors meeting, where the contract was approved, Assessor-County Clerk-Recorder Warren Slocum stated that the contract was worded to make it clear that Hart InterCivic would comply with any future voting system requirements that become law including, "open source."


If you think the lead of the OVF article is somehow inaccurate or just plain wrong, I'd suggest you talk to them, citing what you believe is my incorrect interpretation based on it. I'm just reporting what it said so don't shoot the paper boy if it's the messenger you're after.
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Land Shark Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-21-06 11:09 PM
Response to Reply #12
15. OK, Bill Bored, here's how I'll stand so to speak
(1) I'll be gracious and say you didn't attack me, but if you want to "discuss" with me OR attack me in the future, kindly tap me on the shoulder like a PM or something. In turn, i hope you're recognizing that i wasn't saying that no one could criticize me.

(2) I'll say you were just reasonably interpreting some secondary sources that themselves stretched or somewhat misstated the primary sources, per your statements above.

(3) Your request that I not "shoot the messenger" I'll take as an admission that I prevailed in this particular debate, but it wasn't with Bill Bored, who was just the messenger. I'm sure others will be back for more, and perhaps BB too.
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FogerRox Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-21-06 12:06 PM
Response to Original message
8. ahhhh.. I dont gret it....
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Kurovski Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-21-06 12:32 PM
Response to Reply #8
9. "gret" it?
Did you get two keys with one finger? Or is that a joke I'm not gretting? :-)
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FogerRox Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-21-06 10:17 PM
Response to Reply #9
13. LOL, just call me the the typo man....
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Bill Bored Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-21-06 10:49 PM
Response to Reply #13
14. Foger, what don't you get?
We have been advised NOT to support HR 550 because, among other reasons, voting machine cos. may sue the government for forcing them to disclose their as yet undisclosed software.

So Open Voting Foundation reported that 2 such vendors have said they don't have a problem disclosing their stuff if the law says they have to. I was just asking Land Shark whether this makes his takings claims argument against HR 550 "questionable." (Or perhaps the story was incorrectly reported by OVF?)

Get it?
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Land Shark Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-21-06 11:22 PM
Response to Reply #14
16. and the answer to that, as BB seems to admit, is NO
it does not impair my position, and I think BB knows that. But I'm not saying BB has changed his/her mind.
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Bill Bored Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Aug-22-06 12:17 AM
Response to Reply #16
19. Well, I think you've admitted that you can see how the OVF
piece could be reasonably interpreted as saying that certain vendors would be willing to disclose their software if the law required it. And that's all I was trying to say.

Maybe they did get the facts wrong and maybe it would be worthwhile for you to point it out to them. (I'm just sayin'.)
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Wilms Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Aug-22-06 12:22 AM
Response to Reply #19
20. 2 of 15 vendors means what?
And if all 15 agreed then one of the major reasons to support HR550 is as moot as your OP is specious.

Have I mentioned that your behavior leaves me disappointed?

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Bill Bored Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Aug-22-06 08:37 PM
Response to Reply #20
22. So are you against HR 550 now too then?
(I know, you didn't SAY that, but this seems to be where the debate is headed.)

So how about this:

I think it's interesting that a case is being made in CA-50 to count VVPATs which happen to be required under California law. If they are counted, the election will either be overturned or confirmed but at least there will be some relief.

In Virginia on the other hand, a court wouldn't even allow hand counting of paper ballots in the race for Attorney General a while back, but yet our friend Autorank opposes HR 550 which would require audits and make the paper ballot the ballot of record, at least in federal elections.

And in Florida, hand counts are illegal as well, despite the fact that the Hursti 1 hack showed optical scan totals could be altered (although there are easier ways to do that than that demonstrated by Hursti). I wonder how many Floridians would be against HR 550 -- other than the ones rigging their elections that is.

This stuff isn't so black and white is it?

Now imagine how many cases like CA-50 could be brought nationwide if EVERY state had a paper trail to count. In 2004, there were 7 races in the House decided by about the same margin as CA-50 -- 4%. I don't know how many of them had paper trails or ballots or sleepovers, but if HR 550 were law, they all would have the paper. And so would every other federal election in the country.

Remember that 2004 Presidential election? The exit polls said Kerry won ya know. Seems to me we were begging for an HR 550 back then! How quickly we forget. What do you think happened?

Well it's 2 years later now and there's another Congressional election and we've got nothin'! No paper and no audits. So HR 550 is triage and some people are against it because they think they can do better on their own, or because they live in a state that's doing better like New Hampshire is supposed to be, or because of some esoteric legal arguments that we are being asked to accept on about as much faith as a DRE vote count. And when such arguments are even questioned, that's called an "attack" and the questioner is reprimanded for "bad behavior?" WTF?

Personally, I'm not even affected by this debate. I live in a state that hasn't even complied with HAVA -- at least not yet. Or maybe we have, depending on your interpretation of that law. But for the people of FL, GA, MD and the other states that are forced to accept the results of fake elections, I'd support HR 550 or something close to it in a heartbeat. I'm willing to take that chance -- make that sacrifice -- for what I think is the greater good. What I don't understand is why everyone can't.

And yet, there's this CA-50 case where they want to count VVPATs. VVPATs of lower quality even than the ones that HR 550 would require. Well, I hope they win the case and they count 'em. At least they've got something to count. Folks in FL, MD, VA and about half the other states aren't so lucky. They've got nothing.
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Wilms Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Aug-22-06 09:08 PM
Response to Reply #22
24. That's right. I didn't say that.

Nor should you interpret my opposition to your flame-baiting as opposition to HR550.

We could have a discussion about the various aspects of the bill and how it would play out in individual states, but you've clearly set the tone. An ugly one. And I'm calling you on that even as I call you a friend.

HR550's audit doesn't work. Period. You know that better than most people. I don't care if it'll work in a lot of elections, it has to work for ALL elections. And it doesn't.

It seems debatable if Open Software buys us any security, or if it would stand after judicial intervention.

People raising concerns about that don't deserve your, or anyone else's abuse.

I came here to learn the truth...not join a team, parrot jingo, or tolerate specious arguments from people who know better. And you know better.

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Bill Bored Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Aug-22-06 09:51 PM
Response to Reply #24
26. OK, let's try this one again.
Edited on Tue Aug-22-06 10:09 PM by Bill Bored
In CA, there's a 1% audit. Half of that which HR 550 would require. A third of the combined state and federal audits. Yet because there are VVPATs, even VVPATs not as good as the ones required under HR 550, there is now a challenge to the results of an election in the courts that could result in a full hand count. The hand count is possible because of the VVPATs and that could reverse the election results.

There are lots of other states where this isn't even dreamed of. Why? Because there are no VVPATs, no paper ballots and nothing to recount. Yet some of the same folks arguing for this hand count in CA oppose HR 550.

HR 550 is an attempt to give every other state the benefits enjoyed by California, and then some.

In Texas (I'm told) they can get a recount if there's less than a 10% margin! A 10% margin! If that's true, it's great, but the problem is that in much of the state, there's nothing to recount! And because of that, elections can be rigged with 11% margins! But not with HR 550.

My point is that there are some aspects of HR 550 which appear to exceed those of many state laws, or which will complement existing state laws.

The whole argument against HR 550 just doesn't add up for me -- that's all.

The audits are inadequate yet the bill says there can be additional audits if cause is shown. Opponents ignore this language and say the audits are just inadequate.

We say we don't want secret software; the bill requires the software to be disclosed; yet opponents say they oppose HR 550 because companies might sue over having to disclose software.

Some of us say that open source software isn't the answer anyway; yet the bill must be opposed because companies might sue over having to disclose software.

We say we don't want e-voting and the 550 opponents say we should oppose the bill. But the bill doesn't say we have to have e-voting. It makes the paper the ballot of record. It would probably ban lever machines but again, that's a chance I'm willing to take if 25 more states will have auditable elections as a result. They can hand count til the cows come home and HR 550 won't stop them from doing so.

So what is going on here?

Since 2004 and earlier, we've been screaming for voter-verified paper ballots. Now suddenly that's not acceptable?

I'm confused Wilms -- damn confused.
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Wilms Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Aug-23-06 12:29 AM
Response to Reply #26
27. No one argues about half of what you wrote.
Save your breath as the value of the VVPB is recognized.

Here's why you may be confused.

You forgot that the EAC will bid out the audit and that some activists are not comfortable with that.

You say, "the bill says there can be additional audits if cause is shown". Here's how I read what you wrote. If the BoE is in the mood to do additional auditing they can. Whoopee! Tell me if the 550 language demands otherwise.

And BTW, cause has been shown for additional auditing. Rather handily, too.

New Election Auditing Protocol Proposed
http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.ph...

It's a bit long for most DUers but I'm sure you can handle it. "Stansislevic recommends that a much larger percentage of systems must be audited than commonly suggested for Congressional elections." He shows, "Using the above methodology (which does not even take precinct size into account), in the 2004 general election for the US House of Representatives there were 57 races with margins of less than 17.4% requiring more than a 2% audit, 14 races (with margins of < 8.1%) requiring more than a 5% audit and 7 races (with margins of < 4.2%) requiring more than a 10% audit."

Perhaps you feel less confused after reading that. And put the calculator down. It's 78 races.

Also, no one said, "the bill must be opposed because companies might sue over having to disclose software". You only said they did. What Paul argues is that the Open Software provision could fall in court. Easy enough to understand. And no one claims that 550 mandates electronics. The sense is that it supports it by not banning it. I don't fully agree with that, but that was the argument put forth, and by understanding that, I'm not confused.

Clear anything up?

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Bill Bored Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Aug-23-06 02:04 AM
Response to Reply #27
28. Thanks for making all those points about the HR 550 audits.
If cause is shown, then the EAC can require more audits, and you have just shown that there was cause in 57 races. (I don't think it's actually 78 since the ones with the smaller margins would be included in the 57. At least that's the way I read it.) So all a clever lawyer should have to do is consult the election results and a spreadsheet and "show cause." If the EAC won't do the audits, the states can.

I know the EAC can't be trusted to get things right but neither can some state officials. At least the EAC is bi-partisan though. How many states have bi-partisan election administration? Not many.

Look at Ohio 2004. That's what the authors were thinking about when they wrote this bill -- not the great state of New Hampshire where they want to live free or die and from what I hear, do hand recounts at the drop of a hat just for the fun of it. That's great but expecting that from the powers that be in Ohio and Florida and Georgia and Maryland and Virginia and Alabama and Texas and Pennsylvania and South Carolina and the rest of the paperless fake-election states is like asking Diebold to come up with a way to audit their DREs. The bottom line is that sometimes, folks just have to be told what to do.

The bill can be tweaked to specify who gets to do the audits and how they will be done fairly and without privatization. But you can't tweak anything if there's no paper to audit in the first place.

I'm sorry but I find the opposition to this bill to be unreasonable. Where were they when it was being written? They were right here asking for VVPBs and audits and supporting it for the most part -- and crying about that stolen election. Maybe they need a reminder of what that's like before they support it again.

Where will they be when the bill is being marked up in committee -- when the problems we envision can be prevented?

What constructive alternative legislation is being proposed other than at the state level? Most of that bares a pretty strong resemblance to HR 550 anyway. And some of that legislation has still not been passed, through no fault of the activists and others who supported it.

So what do we do? The states won't fix the problem. The voting system standards won't fix the problem. The hacking demos haven't fixed the problem. So do we just wait to grab some brass ring that might come along and allow us to get rid of all these systems and revert back to hand counted paper ballots, or work on making the stuff we have auditable and then actually audit it?

The viciousness with which this bill has been attacked is uncalled for.
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Wilms Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Aug-23-06 02:54 AM
Response to Reply #28
29. And, thank you for making all those points about the HR 550 audits.
"If cause is shown, then the EAC can require more audits..." "So all a clever lawyer should have to do..." and a sympathetic judge, too. Right? Been there, done that.

If the bill included the Stansislevic protocol that might be a different story. But there seems no guarantee a satisfactory criteria would be accepted as cause shown. Is there?

If "(t)he bill can be tweaked to specify who gets to do the audits and how they will be done fairly and without privatization" I should think the election reform movement, armed as they are with Stansislevic's work and Land Sharks poll, could develop a compelling plan and lobby Holt...rather than squaring off among themselves for yet another school-yard brawl.

Don't give me any of that "(w)here were they when it was being written?" drivel and the other straw-man arguments you present. That has nothing to do with it. Besides, there were issues raised in sporadic discussions, with which you took part, over the last year. The bill's been presented and there are serious and reasonable concerns.

As to the viciousness surrounding the debate, there's enough blame to go around. That VTUSA ran Autorank's article suggested we were enjoying some needed detente. My OP, yesterday, about the article was meant as a celebration as much as an opportunity to post a good story. Sorry you didn't see it that way.

VTUSA recommends calling on Congress to "pass as written" HR550. Land Shark calls on us to oppose the bill on a number of particular grounds. It's an ongoing "train wreck" within the community with a lot of activists caught in the middle more aware of the fight than the argument.

I, and probably many others, rather a discussion about the concerns raised for and about the bill.

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Bill Bored Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Aug-23-06 01:29 PM
Response to Reply #29
31. Protocols, shmotocols!
Edited on Wed Aug-23-06 01:40 PM by Bill Bored
Do you think people are actually interested in the FACTS? They still think Shrub made RECESS appointments to the EAC! Sometimes our echo chamber is as distorted as the Republicans'! (You're an audio guy; you know that.)

Like the one that says Steven Hertzberg is a drug lobbyist or something,
<http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.ph... >
so therefore we should disregard the findings of the ESI Diebold report:
<http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.ph... >

You write:
"VTUSA recommends calling on Congress to 'pass as written' HR550. Land Shark calls on us to oppose the bill on a number of particular grounds. It's an ongoing 'train wreck' within the community with a lot of activists caught in the middle more aware of the fight than the argument."

Yes and it has been explained, although perhaps not adequately, that "Pass HR 550 as written" is a message to the Repukes and others in the Congress NOT to turn the bill into some vote-switching, election-rigging, voter-DNA-ID-requiring bill like HR3910, written by Tom Feeney, the guy who asked Clint Curtis to write vote switching software with which he could continue to steal Florida:
<http://verifiedvoting.org/article.php?list=type&type=13 >
That one doesn't even make the VVPAT the ballot of record. It deceptively changes the WRONG paragraph of HAVA to make the VVPAT separate from the HAVA-mandated paper audit trail for recounts.

So, "Pass HR 550 as written" does NOT mean the bill is PERFECT! It just means don't screw with the language to make it WORSE!

Had there been some civil discourse about this instead of just the attacks (some of which even degenerated into personal ones), this important FACT might have been more widely understood. But the opponents of this bill do not seem to be interested in civil discourse.

Note also that even if "Pass HR 550 as written" were taken literally, it still addresses the argument that the bill will be made WORSE by the Repukes in committee -- another concern of those who won't support it.

So, if we say to pass it "as written", it's not good enough. But if we don't say that, we risk making it worse! Because of that, we are asked not to support the bill at all, even though it's the only one in either House of Congress that seriously addresses the electronic voting issue. Now, does that make any sense to you?

And in my opinion, the tactics being used to oppose the bill, rather than improve it, are purely Rovian.
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Melissa G Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Aug-23-06 02:17 PM
Response to Reply #31
32. Question BB..Have you yourself ACTUALLY sat in during legislative
or congressional committee hearings?
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Bill Bored Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Aug-23-06 03:10 PM
Response to Reply #32
33. Melissa, there have been no hearings on HR 550.
Edited on Wed Aug-23-06 03:15 PM by Bill Bored
However, this hearing is a sample of what can be expected:
<http://www.house.gov/science/hearings/full06/July%2019/... >

I did not attend personally but my views were well represented.

So were the views of the Tom Feeney Republicans when a voter ID card was waved in the faces of those who were advocating for free, fair and verifiable elections. This was done by a 'Puke Congressman from Florida. He showed his little ID card that lets him vote on bills in the Congress itself as a political gesture, the idea being to trade verifiable elections for voter disenfranchisement. This is why it's been said to pass HR 550 "as written" -- to keep onerous Voter ID/Poll Tax provisions OUT of the bill.

I've personally attended and testified at other hearings at the local level but not this one.

On edit, it would be interesting to ask the more vehement opponents of HR 550 the same question you've asked me.
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Melissa G Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Aug-23-06 04:47 PM
Response to Reply #33
36. Okay BB, so you do NOT have personal experience..
This is important point. I do have personal experience..and those of us who DO have personal experience and have seen the damage done in committees are Justifiably Leery.
Every hearing that i have been to in Texas on this and related topics has been a Sham. That would be over a period of months, day and day out, during 3 sessions of re- redistricting and two or three hearings on the voting machines...
Back in the 80's i did this on numerous health care topics for about three legislative periods over 6 years, when the Dems were in control... At that time, there was various levels of success depending on what was wanted by the weightier members of that particular committee.

MY point is that what you tell legislators what you want them to do, ie: pass HR 550 "as written", it is likely to have ABSOLUTELY NO WEIGHT on their decision.

Once a bill gets to them on a topic they can rewrite or substitute or whatever they want as long as they are in control of the process. Public hearing input is often just 'window dressing', with absolutely NO WEIGHT on the bill outcome. It can just be carte blanche to make things worse IF they oppose what you want and they are in control of the process. This is My Experience of a state legislative process on this issue.

As you might remember I hang with a lot of political types, some of which are lobbyists..They tell me it is even Worse at the Federal level.

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Bill Bored Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Aug-23-06 07:08 PM
Response to Reply #36
39. I guess I missed the part where I have no experience.
Edited on Wed Aug-23-06 07:11 PM by Bill Bored
I said I've been to hearings and testified at hearings. Just not this particular one. But I've seen the video and read the reports and the testimony. Other than actually being elected to office or working as a staff member, I'm not sure how to get any more experience thant that.

That said, are you suggesting that there is no point in having any legislation at all? If so, then what alternative is there?

The Land Shark (litigation) approach in which the decision is left up to judges who may not even be elected and may be accountable essentially to no one? Well that's underway in several states already. In PA they had to replace non-computerized lever machines with hackable paperless DREs. In Florida, Congressman Wexler can't even get the courts to agree that there is a right to a recount. And that case has been going on for years!

So I think putting all our eggs in the litigation basket may not be such a great idea.

In North Carolina they've got some pretty strong laws on the books and so do NY and MN and a few other states. I understand that you can ask for recounts in TX if you have less than a 10% margin in a race. That's HUGE! So how come no paper to recount then? (HR 550 would provide that.)

At least if a legislator screws up, he/she risks being voted out of office, but then of course that would require free and fair elections wouldn't it? So maybe we're just too late to do anything about any of this crap and the party's over. That's the impression I get sometimes from reading some of these posts, but silly me -- I think it's worth a try to save the republic anyway. And I'm more comfortable pursuing that through more than just one avenue.
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Melissa G Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Aug-23-06 10:16 PM
Response to Reply #39
41.  I asked about state and federal experience and you said..
"I've personally attended and testified at other hearings at the local level but not this one."

I take this to mean you have no State or Federal experience.

In my experience, there is a lot of difference at each level of government.

Watching a video does not remotely show you the real process of what happens. Videos happen in a vacuum. Videos give you the illusion that the testimony you are watching is being listened to and might have actual impact. This has little basis in my experience of actual reality. If you want a lot of detail call me.


I have testified long term, sometimes attending hearings day in and day out, until the wee hours of the mornings, sometimes over a period of months,.. sometimes, for several years at a time,.. on several issues including re redistricting.

I have testified extensively at local and state levels and a fair amount at county level as well.

They are all different. I am usually considered a fairly effective speaker. My experience is that an individual's ability to impact is less effective the more one gets away from the local level (unless you have a weighty representative championing your cause.)
My friends who lobby at a federal level say this impact differential is even more true at the federal level.

There is a belief that this is so because of how expensive it is to run for office that the higher up the chain you go the more of your votes are already sold to the interests that paid to get you your job. (There is likely many an electronic voting company donation in there, too.) This is the argument that Common Cause, among others, makes for publicly funding campaigns but that is another discussion..

What I am saying at this moment is that I agree with Wilms that your tone of conversation stinks and that your friends, me included, are spanking you for it :spank:

If you reeeaally want to talk to me about this issue PM me or call me 'cuz you likely still have my phone number in your inbox.

I do not like this thread and do not want to kick it anymore. I still like you, though... :hug:
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Bill Bored Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Aug-23-06 11:31 PM
Response to Reply #41
42. I like you too, so I'm asking you to watch the video if you have a chance.
You won't see any voting system vendors there because that lobbying is done behind the scenes I'm sure. What you will see is some progress being made, and that's due to the people of Common Cause and VoteTrustUSA and the League of Women Voters, who I think you'll see in the audience.

You will also see members of Congress from both sides of the aile expressing OUR concerns, asking the right questions, and getting the wrong answers, but sometimes the right ones as well.

And you will see the ugly side I mentioned too, subtly pushing for more disenfranchisement in exchange for verifiable elections. Obviously that won't fly if the Democrats have anything to say about it.

So I'm not prepared to say that all this is for naught or that the whole process is a sham. We've been trying to get their ears for years and some of them are finally listening. Call me naive but it's worth a shot.

(And I have dealt with state officials too and a Congress critter. I'm sure you've been involved in more hearings than I have though. Good for you!)
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Bill Bored Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Aug-23-06 07:20 PM
Response to Reply #36
40. One other quick point:
Edited on Wed Aug-23-06 07:22 PM by Bill Bored
When it comes to HR 550, WE are the lobbyists.

No one knows in advance what will come out of that. No one knows in advance what will come out of these lawsuits. We have already experienced the most dangerous precedent when the Supreme Court of this country said NOT to count the votes. That doesn't give me such a warm fuzzy feeling when it comes to litigation. That doesn't mean we shouldn't try it, but it doesn't mean we shouldn't try to make good laws too.
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Kelvin Mace Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Aug-23-06 03:29 PM
Response to Reply #31
34. Folks just can't get that fact through their head
Bill must be perfect and do everything everyone wants them to, even if that would result in a bill that contradicts itself.

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Kurovski Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Aug-23-06 04:57 PM
Response to Reply #34
37. We want transparent, verifiable elections. That's what we want.
Edited on Wed Aug-23-06 05:30 PM by Kurovski
And we're gonna get them.

Melvin, darling, you have absolutely no idea how mother-fucking sick unto death people are of having to dance around with the kind of corrupt little concepts you are so very fond of.

Machine voting is complete and utter horseshit. Americans do not have to accept the unacceptable. And really, when you continue to insist that they MUST accept a sixth-rate to worthless voting system in what was once considered the greatest Democracy in the world, people will have a tendency to look at you askance.

We will not stand for having to do the tango with corrupt jack-asses who either wish to steal elections, or make a killing off the endless money to be made from the outrageously expensive machines that are in constant need of upgrades and servicing.

We don't have to vote into programmable little "magic" boxes. Period. It doesn't work, and it's not trustworthy.

We absolutely will continue to demand transparent, verifiable elections until we get them. It is complete and utter horseshit that we actually have to fight to get them.








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Kelvin Mace Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Aug-23-06 05:29 PM
Response to Reply #37
38. I support and have fought hard to get
Edited on Wed Aug-23-06 05:30 PM by Kelvin Mace
anti-BBV laws passed in my state. I have fought for, and helped pass, laws requiring paper ballots in my state.

"Corrupt" concepts I am fond of? Care to expand upon that? Diebold left my state rather than comply with the law passed unanimously by our general assembly. 76% of our counties now use OpScan, and the remainder use TS systems with VVPB (which I consider too expensive, but you can't win 'em all).

You can "demand" all sorts of things, but until you get up and do the ACTUAL work, you have ZERO chance of getting anything. I am sorry you feel that it is "utter horseshit" that you have to fight for things, but that's reality.

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Melissa G Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-21-06 11:25 PM
Response to Reply #14
17. BB, I think you don't read your own posts sometimes..
You are not always clear and you do sometimes come off sounding like you wanna pick a fight..
just saying..
and no i am not picking a fight with you..and yes, this comment comes from a feisty Texas hispanic female who has seen her fair share of arguments...
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Bill Bored Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Aug-22-06 12:02 AM
Response to Reply #17
18. OK. So do you support HR 550 and if not, why not? nt
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Melissa G Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Aug-22-06 01:15 PM
Response to Reply #18
21. BB, I may or may not support HR 550 and I am not sure that this is the
thread or venue which I want to discuss it in..

DU has gotten bloody on this topic and it made for poor reading which i mostly did not follow..

That said, Here is what i currently think about bills and the Congress. What starts out may not be what finishes.. that can be good or bad.. lately often bad.

What we need is for the people to take the lead on this and drag the politicians in our wake to get ourselves some transparent verifiable elections.

I am not sure if Holt 550 is the best vehicle for this and the unpleasant reading did not help educate me to where i wanted to learn about it here on DU.

mg
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FogerRox Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Aug-22-06 09:08 PM
Response to Reply #21
23. Exacto-mondo- Melissa
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Kelvin Mace Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Aug-23-06 03:30 PM
Response to Reply #21
35. Then I would be happy to disucss it and any concerns you have
via email or PM.
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FogerRox Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Aug-22-06 09:16 PM
Response to Reply #14
25. BB .. thanks for the clarification
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