suggests that the OWS movement focus on a clear, practical, achievable goal -- passage of Rush Holt's Voter Confidence and Increased Accessibility Act of 2005
The bill was sponsored in 2005 and was reintroduced by Holt in 2009, probably with the sunny optimistic view that with Democrats in the driver’s seat, the bill would have a prayer. But it has been sitting in committees ever since. I guess it was too much to ask the Democrats to pass it when they had majorities in both houses, because that would have been politically astute and the right thing to do but Democrats don’t seem to have a good sense of self-preservation. Don’t expect the Republicans to do it. That’s not their thing. But if there is a movement demanding its passage, well, that would be a very big step in the right direction. Because no matter how popular this movement is, it can’t do a damn thing if there are irregularities with the voting system. When the vote is compromised and can’t be reliably verified, you’ve already lost.
Basically, this bill requires that each voting machine leave a verifiable paper trail. It will be amusing -- very, very amusing -- to see the Tea Partiers fulminate against that. (Sort of like when the baggers railed against net neutrality: Such a position gives the lie to their "grassrooots" image.)
The need for a paper trail should be obvious. See here
It should be noted that Brad Friedman (author of the two posts referenced above) stands against the Holt Bill, for reasons given here
. He doesn't like it because...
...the new bill fails to ban all forms of computerized touch-screen voting and, indeed, encourages it through federal funding to help jurisdictions move from DREs to similar, but non-tabulating, Ballot Marking Devices (BMDs).
We could well jump out of the frying pan, and into yet another frying pan, if the legislation passes as currently drafted.
BMDs, which often use touch-screens to allow voters to make selections, offer many of the same flaws and dangers that DRE voting systems do, such as: the possibility that votes may be flipped on the touch-screen to selections other than those chosen by the voter (as seen in state after state on DREs over the last several election cycles); failures to boot up and power outages which keep citizens from being able to vote at all; machine shortages which cause long lines, discouraging voters from waiting to vote; and the requirement for voters to attempt to verify the accuracy of their ballots on three separate occasions, before the computer-marked version of the paper ballot is actually cast.
As if the dangers of BMDs, as described above, aren't bad enough, further concerns about computer-printed ballots was illustrated by several academic studies. One, from Caltech/MIT described how some 80% of voters do not take the time to verify the accuracy of computer printed records or ballots. Another, even more disturbing, from Rice University in the Summer of 2007, found that, among those few who do bother to review the computerized summary of their selections at the end of the voting process, two-thirds of them don't notice at all when the computer has flipped a selection from one candidate to another, or changed a vote on a ballot initiative.
This is a serious argument. I think, though, that in these suspicious times the electorate can be easily trained to double-check to make sure the flipping has not occurred. Certainly, there would have been a lot of double-checking in Ohio in 2004, where many people became suspicious of the obvious signs of hugger-mugger which became apparent on that election day.
If there are too many flips, the official "just an accident" explanations will start to seem very threadbare and unpersuasive.
Lisa Pease of the Real History Archives offers a feisty response
to Friedman's concerns.
Holt's bill says that an election cannot be certified until the audit has transpired.
In short, no federal election could be certified unless and until a percentage of the paper ballots had been counted by hand. So if Holt's bill institutionalizes anything, it's hand counted paper ballots, not secret software, as the hand count trumps the machine count, per specific language in the bill.
In the past, because we have no such legislation to date, paper ballots have been discounted by some courts in favor of the computer record. Holt's bill would reverse that completely, specifying in clear language that the voter-verified paper ballot is the legal ballot of record (unless it can be convincingly shown that the paper ballots had been tampered with. And even in that case, the Holt bill explicitly states that the electronic count cannot be the sole determiner of the election.)
My take? I agree with Brad that a simple all-paper system is preferable. In this situation, I dig analog over digital. If someone in Congress introduces such legislation, support that
Until then, I say that Holt's legislation will do a lot of good. Sorry, but I think Brad, for all of his virtuous work on voting reform, is over-emphasizing the problems with Holt's approach.
One thing is for sure: Having OWS call for electoral reform will surely provide interesting spectacle when the bad guys mount a counter-propaganda campaign.
My only problem with Riverdaughter's suggested tactic is this: Electoral reform is not, in any direct sense, an economic issue. OWS is, or should be, about Wall Street versus Main Street. People who have lost their jobs want to concentrate on that
. People furious at Wall Streeters who got away with moider want to concentrate on that.
Indirectly, of course, electoral reform has an impact on everything.
The enemy is libertarianism. The libertarians have made clear that they do not like and do not trust democracy, precisely because Social Security, Medicare, progressive taxation and workplace safety regulation are popular. Libertarians believe that democracy impedes their Nietzschean vision of a handful of heroic John Galtians galting heroically to the heroic heavens, trampling on the small in their smallness, fie upon them, envious knaves, let them die in the dust small small small.
Besides, I'm sick of hearing certain people spew defeatist horseshit about how we can't accomplish anything because the system is hopelessly rigged, and if you don't like what you see going on around you, your only option is to fester in your attic while listening to conspiracy theorists on the radio because there is nothing else you can do. I don't believe that spiel. Whenever I hear
that spiel, I smell a libertarian in disguise.