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Election Transparency: Goodbye To All That?

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Bill Bored Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-19-10 02:09 AM
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Election Transparency: Goodbye To All That?

Election Transparency: Goodbye To All That?
By Gary Kenton

Perhaps you are already suffering from doomsday fatigue, with threats of global warming, nuclear annihilation, etc., but there is another threat that has been grievously under-reported but which has the potential to undermine whatever trust you may yet have in our distressed political system. The lever voting machine the mechanical device that has made the United States a leader in carrying out clean and fair elections is an endangered species.


In the mid-to-late 1800s, one way that Boss Tweed and his corrupt cohorts at Tammany Hall were able to hold on to power was by being ably to successfully predict the outcome of elections. Vote-rigging was so widespread and violence so commonplace that no system could be agreed upon by the political parties, until an upstate inventor named Jacob H. Myers developed the lever voting machine. In A Brief Illustrated History of Voting (University of Iowa) Myers is quoted as having said that the machine was designed to "protect mechanically the voter from rascaldom, and make the process of casting the ballot perfectly plain, simple and secret."

For over a hundred years, the lever machine fulfilled Myers goal admirably, but in the 1990s companies with new voting technologies began turning heads in Congress.....Their solution was the Help America Vote Act (HAVA), passed in October 2002, which was the death knell for lever machine manufacturers and a virtual guarantee of huge profits for the companies who supply and service electronic voting devices.


Three years later the New York Election Reform and Modernization Act (ERMA) was passed by the State Legislature in a misguided attempt to comply with HAVA. Like the other states, New York was under the mistaken impression that HAVA mandated that lever machines be replaced, so ERMA banned the use of lever machines after 2007. But no court has ever ruled on the question of whether lever machines comply with HAVA.

The Nassau County law suit (which Dutchess County may join) seeks to overturn ERMA, arguing that (1) having placed one electronic device in every precinct for the handicapped, New York is already in compliance with HAVA, and (2) the state would be disenfranchising its citizens by replacing the lever machines with devices that cannot ensure the transparency of the vote. Depending on various factors, the Election Transparency Coalition may file its own law suit against the state, arguing that ERMA is unconstitutional because the mandate to switch over from the time-tested, trustworthy and transparent lever voting systems to electronic vote-counting systems will prevent local boards of elections from fulfilling their oversight function of certifying the integrity of elections.


Ironically, the so-called goo-goos, good government groups like the League of Women Voters, Common Cause, and NYPIRG, which have historically championed voter protections, have not been front-and-center on this issue. They joined groups like the Election Transparency Coalition in fighting against the use of Diebolds direct-recording electronic voting machines (DREs), but abandoned the grassroots efforts as local activists went deeper into the issue.
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PinkFloyd Donating Member (264 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-19-10 03:42 AM
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1. They could solve this so very simply...
By having the FEC design and create their own electronic voting machines. It'd create jobs and we wouldn't have to worry with this bullshit anymore. Save the Diebold machines, and their precious trade secrets, for tallying the votes for homecoming king/queen.
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Atman Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-19-10 06:33 AM
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3. There is no need to "invent" a new voting machine
That's the point; the lever machines were/are essentially perfect. It's a shame more people haven't seen the way they really work. They are a thing of beauty, will redundant counting and tallying systems. No way to rig them. They should be reinstated in every polling place.
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Wilms Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-19-10 10:52 AM
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4. Have to agree.
Maybe slightly less than perfect. But a little more maintenance would likely do the trick.

And of course, parts ARE available.

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Wilms Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-19-10 03:46 AM
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2. Dutchess may join the Nassau suit?
That's excellent!

(Pardon my appreciation...if ya know what I mean.)
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