MoveOn and HR811 (the Holt Bill)
Many people have emailed me asking what does the NH Fair Elections Committee think of the so-called "compromise" version of the Holt bill being brought to the US House floor this coming Wednesday.
They want to know, how should they vote in MoveOn's latest poll, asking their feelings about the bill. We see this as a good sign, that after months and months of pro-811 propaganda and ignoring the voting integrity movement's concerns, MoveOn seems to be open to a new look at their steadfast and inexplicable support of HR811.
So here's the straight poop. When they say the latest version is a "compromise" bill, what this means is that Congress has compromised the will of the people, the good of the nation, in favor of industry lobbyists. In December 2006 wethepatriots.org submitted to every cosponsor of HR811, including NH Congressman Hodes, a letter in opposition to HR811 with suggested amendments. This letter was signed by 800 American citizens and organizations.
How many industry lobbyists does it take to outweigh 800 ordinary Americans? Apparently as many as can fit into a room with the House Administration Committee.
In July 2007 Mark Crispin Miller revealed what Congressman Rush Holt's counsel had to say to voting integrity activists about this latest "compromise" version of HR811:
There is no doubt that Rush Holt has, in working on his bill, unduly heeded the concerns of interested corporations. This is not a speculation but a fact, which was revealed to me straightforwardly by Holt's own counsel, Michelle Mulder, who is, of course, a fervent advocate for HR 811. Recently Michelle tried, via email, to respond to some of the concerns expressed by me and several other activists, at one point asserting that the bill will not legitimize the use of secret vote-counts.
In response, I pointed out that the continued use of DRE machines, which HR 811 would permit, makes secret vote-counting inevitable, since there's no way to watch computers add up votes, or send them on to tabulators, or manage any other data.
And then I made this second point about the actual secretiveness enabled by Holt's bill:
"Unless this point in the legislation has been changed, the bill as marked up in committee now stipulates that the e-voting software be available only to 'qualified' individuals, who must sign strict non-disclosure agreements."
(This was an extraordinary change, because the early version of the bill had ordered that such software must be readily available to everyone. See my vlog on this.)
And here is Mulder's staggering reply:
"That's not what the bill said when introduced. Therefore, you can take up your concerns with Microsoft and others in the proprietary software industry. During Committee proceedings they lobbied very heavily against the language that was in the bill as introduced and none of you lobbied in favor of the language that was in the bill as introduced, and thus, the software industry won. It's very simple, really."
In other words, companies like Microsoft, Diebold and ES&S had problems with the early version of Holt's bill; and Holt himself not only listened to them, but obliged them, so that his "election reform" bill would now make our system even more undemocratic than it is already. Of this development Holt's office made no public mention, as if those private companies' dictation of the law was no big deal.
And this, Holt's counsel says, is not Holt's problem. In fact, it's our fault, for not having "lobbied very heavily" for our position (which would have been a little hard, since Holt's people have consistently refused to talk or listen to the bill's opponents).
In any case, if we don't like it, we can somehow "take up our concerns" with Microsoft et al.--and do so without Rush Holt's help.
The NH Fair Elections Committee remains opposed to HR811, and we hope to be reporting, after Wednesday's vote in the House, that our two NH Democratic representatives will have realized they are in Washington to represent New Hampshire, whose key stakeholder constituencies (NH Secretary Bill Gardner, the NH Association of City and Town Clerks, the NH Fair Elections Committee) uniformly oppose the bill, and not the Democratic Party, which seems intent to ram it through come hell or highwater.
After telling lobbyists representing state and local election officials the bill would not come up for a vote for at least two weeks, the Party leadership has intentionally put HR811 on this week's calendar. No doubt, they are hoping to stem the tide of overwhelming citizen opposition because of the Labor Day holiday.
They must remember how citizen outcry literally shut down the House Administration Committee's e-mail system when that Committee tried to fast track the bill to the House floor for a speedy and thoughtless vote of passage in the Spring.
Now, MoveOn is issuing yet another of their communications about the bill, replete with misinformation - or is it just information "left out" when they fail to acknowledge or inform their membership that the vast majority of grassroots activists oppose the bill?
But what's different this time is they are asking their members how they feel about it. If you have a MoveOn vote, now is the time to tell them NO TO 811.
Voting integrity activists have been telling MoveOn how we feel about the bill for a long time. It is true that last year, many activists supported the Holt Bill, but at this time every single true grassroots leadership organization opposes it. This includes BlackBoxVoting, VotersUnite, the Coalition for Voting Integrity, the NH Fair Elections Committee, and more. Within a 2-week period in the dead of winter, last December, 2006, wethepatriots.org collected nearly 2,000 signatures of citizens and organizations opposed to the bill.
We have a list of at least 100 citizen action groups and leaders opposed to this legislation (shown at bottom of this post).
The fact is, MoveOn has been wrong on this issue since day one. They and Common Cause have been selling the bill to their members as a "paper trail" bill, ignoring the dangers and complexities in the bill's language, and falsely delivering a message of hope to their members, who have come to believe that they can trust without question what these two organizations tell them.
HR811 is an extraordinarily complex bill. Most ordinary citizens don't want to wade through its twisted language. Maybe the leaders of these organizations don't want to read it. But how about our Congressional representatives, who we pay to do that? Do they have time to read the bill?
If MoveOn can change its tune, now is the time. The nation's welfare is at stake.
The "compromise" version could easily be called the "Microsoft Bill". This version makes secret vote counting federal law, making it a federal crime for anyone to tell the public what they find when they look at the code counting 80% of the nation's votes. And the only people allowed to look at that code are "qualified" people under very specific circumstances who sign nondisclosure agreements.
If this law had been in place in 2003, Bev Harris of BlackBoxVoting.ORG would be sitting in a federal prison for her act of patriotism, which exposed to the national sunshine the diabolical nature of Diebold Election System's proprietary, secret vote counting software.
Because of its complexities, the bill would also subject every state in the nation to unlimited electoral litigation challenges. Think about Florida 2000 if you want to imagine the outcomes from having the courts decide our elections for us.
The NH Dept. of State has estimated the bill will cost NH property tax payers $4MIL for the first 5 years and $11 MIL each year after that for the next 15 years.
The bill mandates an entirely new, unnecessary, and untested technology for every polling place in the nation. It will turn New Hampshire's election system on its head. It will turn the nation's election systems on their heads.
Tell MoveOn "NO TO HR811" and tell your Congressional reps the same.
We can do better than this. And our system of representational democracy can not afford the full frontal attack HR811 wages against it.
CITIZEN ACTION GROUPS AND LEADERS OPPOSED TO THE HOLT BILL:
1. "Candidate for Congress CA District 12 Libertarian Party 2004 & 2006" Harland Harrison CA
2. 30th District Democrats WA 98023
3. 8th Ward 24th Division Philadelphia;
4. Aaron Freeman, comedian and actor
5. Abbe Waldman Delozier, Editor, "Hacked"
6. Al Kolwicz, Election Watchdog, Colorado
7. Arvada Peace & Justice
8. Atlantic Media Ltd. Portsmouth NH
9. AUDITAZ (Americans United for Integrity and Transparency in Elections)
10. Barry Gordon, radio talk host, former president of SAG, actor
11. Bev Harris, BlackBoxVoting.ORG
12. Black Box Voting
13. Bruce Funk, County Clerk, Emery County, Utah
14. Bruce O'Dell, Computer security systems analyst and election integrity activist
15. Camille Khattar , Precinct Chair 14, Democratic Party of Collin County, North Texas
16. Central New York Voting Integrity Committee
17. Citizens to Stop Computerized Voting Richard Borkowski Seattle WA 98102
18. Coalition for Visible Ballots
19. Coalition for Voting Integrity
20. Coloradoans for Voting Integrity CFVI
21. Columbia County Citizens for Human Dignity
22. Columbia County Democratic Central Committee –
23. CONCENTRIC MEDIA
24. Democracy for America - Temecula Valley
25. Democracy for Colorado
26. Democracy for Flagstaff
27. Democracy for New Hampshire
28. Democracy for New Hampshire Fair Elections Committee
29. Democracy for Oklahoma City Co-coordinator - Democratic Precinct Chair - Oklahoma Democratic Party IT Committee member Linda Wade Oklahoma City OK
30. Democracy for Oregon
31. Democracy for Texas/Bastrop Co chapter Marsha Correira Elgin TX 78621
32. Ed Asner, Actor
33. Editor and Publisher - Totally Fixed and Rigged Magazine; President - Positronic Design
34. Editor/Publisher - Online Review of Books & Current Affairs J.F. Miglio
35. Election Defense Alliance
36. Election Integrity
37. Election Integrity Task Force
38. Freedom Socialist Party
39. Harland Harrison, Candidate for Congress, CA District 12, Libertarian Party, 2004 & 2006
40. Harvey Wasserman, Author, election integrity journalist
41. Howard Zinn, author and historian
42. Jackson Action Jackson MS
43. Jasper County Democrats Elliott Denniston Webb City MO 64870
44. Jeanie Williams-West , Local Democratic Party Executive Committee, State central committee, local parish executive committee
45. Jeffco Democrats Jefferson County
46. Joan Brunwasser, Voting Integrity Editor, OpEdNews
47. Josh Mitteldorf
48. Larry L. Jackson , 2006 Chair 30th District Democrats
49. Lassen Progressives, California
50. Latinos for America
51. Mark Crispin Miller, Author
52. Mary Patee , H D # 27 Chair Jeffco Democrats, Jefferson Count - Arvada Peace & Justice
53. Memphis Operation Election Integrity
54. Merrimack Town Democratic Chair - New Hampshire State Democratic Party Committee Member Andrew Sylvia Merrimack NH 3054
55. Midwest Minutemen
56. National Ballot Integrity Project
57. New Hampshire Ballot Integrity Task Force
58. New Hampshire Citizens Alliance
59. New Hampshire PIRG
60. New Hampshire Women Making a Difference
61. Northeast Citizens for Responsible Media
62. OpEd News
63. Paul Lehto, Election law attorney
64. Paul Rogat Loeb, Author and activist
65. People Who Give a Damn, Inc.
66. Philadelphians Against Santorum
67. Pima County Democratic Party Election Integrity Committee
68. Pinellas County Democratic Party
69. Precinct 14 Democratic Party of Collin County North Texas
70. Presents for the Planet
71. Progressive Democrats of America-- Metro San Diego chapter
72. Protect California Ballots
73. Psephos, San Diego, CA
74. Representative Andrew J. Edwards, Nashua, NH 03062
75. Representative Eileen Ehlers, Hooksett, NH
76. Representative Lily Mesa, Manchester, NH
77. Rob Kall, Owner and Chief Editor, OpEdNews
78. Sacramento For Democracy
79. San Diego Democracy For America
80. San Diego Metro-Progressive Democrats of America
81. San Francisco Election Integrity League
82. SAVE R VOTE, Riverside County, CA
83. Senator Jackie Cilley, NH District 6
84. Show Me The Vote – Missouri
85. Steve Freeman, Election activist
86. Steve Heller, Diebold Election Systems whistleblower
87. The San Mateo Election Integrity League
88. Thom Hartmann, Journalist
90. United Methodist Church Arvada CO
91. Vickie Karp, Editor, "Hacked"
92. Vote Rescue, Austin, Texas
94. Voters Unite
95. We Do Not Concede
96. White Bear Lake Peace Group
97. Women for Democracy and Fair Elections
98. Women Making a Difference - NH
99. YubaNet News
100. Congressman Dennis Kucinich
101. Congressman Ed Markey
By ntobi at 09/02/2007 - 10:33am
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