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 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, 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.




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


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

89. TrueVoteSanDiego

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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