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Reply #30: Great letter, but a different kind of case for action is needed. [View All]

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pat_k Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Dec-14-05 01:39 PM
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30. Great letter, but a different kind of case for action is needed.
Edited on Wed Dec-14-05 01:50 PM by pat_k
As important as this letter is (every demonstration of the publics demand for action tips the balance), there is a fundamental problem with centering the case for action on specific evidence that this or that election was stolen. When we do this, we are buying into the illogical assumption that the burden is on us to prove the results invalid.

Any election conducted in a way that fails to instill public confidence in the results is an invalid measure of our consent.

It is important for every citizen lobbyist to consider a different approach. We can make a different sort of case for joining the fight for revolutionary change in the conduct of our elections. (i.e., Election revolt. Reform is too weak a term.)

Certainly, as Partridge asserts, "The evidence of voting fraud and election theft is no secret it is out in the open for all to see who are willing to see." Unfortunately, willingness to see requires a receptive context; a context that has not yet been established. Even people like Howard Dean, who acknowledge problems, continue to employ all sorts of rationalizations to escape processing the evidence, facing the truth, and taking the radical action that the truth demands.

Keeping it simple is critical. Engaging in dialog is critical. Open letters and other one-way communications are important, but they have limited impact. Dialog allows us to elicit and challenge the many rationalizations people employ. Simple truths and moral principles go beyond specific evidence in a way the can effectively cut through the BS that blocks action.

Key Points that Challenge Rationalizations for Inaction

The following points have proven to be effective. Although the points build on each other, presentation as a numbered list is a bit arbitrary. Each point can stand alone as a challenge to a specific rationalization. Opportunities to touch on all the points (or to touch on them in a particular order) in a given dialog are rare, but they are interrelated (as is the system of rationalizations the points serve to dismantle).

(1) We the People have a right to have confidence in the results of our elections.

Our right to have confidence that we are being afforded free and fair elections for our government officials is a right that no other consideration can supersede. A free and fair election is one in which all citizens have been afforded equal access and opportunity to cast their vote and have that vote accurately counted.

We are the sovereigns here. We the People, through our representatives, have defined election laws to ensure elections that are free and fair and reflect our will. Any rationalization that justifies violation of this right must be challenged. The law is intended to serve our will, not thwart it. When elections are conducted in a manner that undermines confidence, and application of the law fails us, We the People must demand a political remedy; one that trumps all legalisms and cynical misuse of our courts.

(2) An election is a survey, not a contest.

An election is not a contest -- it is a survey -- an effort to measure an objective reality. An election may well have many of the trappings of a contest or competition, its purpose is quite different. That purpose is to poll the electorate and determine an accurate measure of their choice for a representative or magistrate. Like the census, it is intended to measure an objective reality. A contest is a more limited endeavor. And while campaigns are certainly treated by the media as sporting events, their purpose is simply communication to the only real stakeholders in the process, the voters whose intent an election is simply one method to gauge.

While it may be impracticable, there's no reason why we couldn't conduct our elections by hiring (bonded) agents to canvass the voters rather than requiring attendance at a "polling" place.

(3) Citizens are the stakeholders in an election, not the candidates.

Elections are intended to survey the will of the people, not the will of the candidates; therefore, it does not matter if a candidate has conceded.

(4) When the conduct of an election is called into question, the burden is on the state to prove the results were obtained using methods that ensured a free, fair, and accurate election.

Our right to have confidence puts the burden on the state to prove fair conduct and accurate results.

In our judicial system, presumption of innocence minimizes the chances of punishing the innocent.

In our electoral system, when the conduct of an election is called into question, the principle of consent demands that we minimize the chance of putting someone into office that has actually been rejected by the electorate. Minimizing that outcome requires a presumption of flawed methods and flawed results. This presumption puts the burden is on the state to restore confidence. Members of the electorate need only present evidence of practices that undermine public confidence. It is the responsibility of the state to produce evidence that puts those questions to rest.

This point directly challenges those who rationalize inaction with claims that an election was probably corrupt, but the corruption must be dismissed because it has not been proven in a court. When people get it that morally the burden is on the state the failure of the courts cannot serve as a reason for inaction. Instead, the failure of the courts to enforce our right to have confidence makes the fight for a political remedy more urgent (e.g., demands for enforcement of existing laws, new laws capable of enforcing our rights, or in the case of a flawed Presidential election, objection to tainted electors on January 6th).

Burden of Proof in an Election presents this point in a tabular format.

(5) Disparate treatment alone is sufficient to invalidate an election.

Every citizen and leader must answer the following question for themselves: "Are hours-long poll-tax-lines for poor, minority voters AND none for affluent, white voters a tolerable condition for you?"

No rationalization can justify different public and private answers to this question (e.g., "Well, it's intolerable to me personally, but elections have always had problems.") To tolerate disparate treatment in an election is to be complicit with the perpetrators of the condition.

Some people invoke a large margin of victory to dismiss the rights of the disenfranchised, claiming that insufficient numbers were disenfranchised to change the outcome. It is impossible to know how many voters have been discouraged from voting due to discriminatory practices. Extrapolating from past elections is useless when the conduct of those elections also failed to guarantee fairness.

Accepting the "margin of victory" rationalization means that a state with a history of untrustworthy elections that strongly favor one party is completely free to discriminate to any level with no risk of consequence. This is an absurd argument on its face.

(6) It's about voters, not votes.

When we put too much focus on the vote count (something many citizen lobbyists are currently doing), the rights of the voter to have equal access and opportunity to cast their votes tends to go by the wayside. The consent of the governed is derived from voters. Votes are simply a means of recording their will. The treatment of voters must remain front and center. The demand for a trustworthy vote count is part and parcel of the next point.

(7) Every voter must be able to make sense of how every aspect of an election is conducted. Secret Vote Counting is an intolerable violation of this right.

{Although akin to the point made in the letter that "Republicans write the secret software, moving from the specific to the larger principle moves the game. It renders moot rationalizations for inaction connected to testing software, expert opinion on security, and so on.}

For the electorate to have confidence that they are being afforded free trustworthy elections, the processes for qualifying to vote, registering, casting votes, tabulating votes, reporting results and verifying results must be open, understandable, and accessible to every citizen. The guy down the street who dropped out of high school must be able to make sense of the how every aspect of our elections are conducted. (He may or may not bother to find out, but if he does, he needs to be able to make sense of it all.)

Many people, particularly those who are comfortable with technology, miss the key problem with using DREs. Inability to secure the systems against data loss or corruption isn't the problem, so arguments about the security or insecurity of a given DRE system are essentially irrelevant. The problem is secret vote counting.

Not many people on this planet have the expertise required to make sense of computer security (i.e., not many can independently evaluate the trustworthiness of DRE software). Consequently, the role of computers in our elections must be limited. DREs have no place at all.

People across the political spectrum reject secret vote counting as a matter of principle no convincing needed. Rejecting DREs as secret vote counters is not much of a stretch.

(8) For any entity that relies on citizen support, putting our broken elections front and center is not just the right thing to do, it is the smart thing to do.

Whenever you communicate with organization leaders, office holders, office seekers, or their staff, always make the point that our broken elections activate people like no other issue.

Currently, we face a problem of circularity. Because our broken elections are rarely, if ever, included on lists of "important issues," the level of concern goes unmeasured. This leads to the mistaken belief that the public is not concerned. When the topic is raised, it becomes clear how mistaken this belief is. In nearly any group, any reference to our broken elections elicits a powerful response. The theft of the presidency in 2000 has been the driving force behind the renewed activism of the center/left.

(9) We are fighting for more than addressing the specific vulnerabilities that were exploited in 2000 and 2004 to corrupt our elections.

The battle for revolutionary change in our elections cannot be limited to the presenting evidence of fraud. The case we make in the lobbies of our State Houses and Congress must be grounded in simple truths and moral principles.

The fight to have confidence in our elections is one that goes to the heart of who we are as a people.

Fundamental principles are at stake. When we internalize these principles, we can effectively challenge rationalizations for inaction. When people engage in the fight in this way, they are asserting their rightful place as sovereigns. They recognize how powerful they are.

In Conclusion:

This is a fight that is supported by letter writing and other demonstrations of the publics demand for action, but it must also be fought in face-to-face dialog over fences, around water coolers and dinner tables; face-to-face dialog with elected officials and their staff, opinion leaders, and the people that set the agenda in public interest organizations.
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