Statement of Teresa Hommel
July 13, 2004
Rally for Verified Voting in Albany, NY
The price of liberty is eternal vigilance.
But now, it seems that too many of us have not been vigilant for too long.
Now we learn that an estimated 30% of American voters will vote in November, 2004, on electronic voting equipment that cannot be audited for accuracy.
"Trust us," the vendors say.
That's inappropriate in a democracy.
The Russian dictator Josef Stalin said, "It's not who votes that counts, it's who counts the votes!"
Anastasio Samoza, the brutal dictator who ruled Nicaragua from 1967 to 1979, is reputed to have said, "You won the vote, but I won the count."
Where is the outrage about these voting systems that record the ballots in secret, and count the votes in secret?
Where is the outrage when some salesman tells us to trust his computer that can't be audited, that hides fraud, and by doing so surely invites it?
Where is the outrage?
It's here, in my heart, and in my words, and in all of us, that's why we're here in the rain, to bear witness to this problem, and to challenge our legislature, and governor, and state Board of Elections to solve it.
It is an outrage for people to try to make money by selling us voting equipment that destroys democracy -- destroys democracy by forcing us to
vote on equipment that prevents human oversight of the election process, that conducts our elections with secret software, that prevents recounts.
It is an outrage, for people to design and build and sell equipment that effectively destroys democracy.
Don't say that it's corrupt corporations! It is people, American citizens, who work for those corporations, who own and manage those corporations, who want to make money by selling out our democracy.
"But we do trust the computer!"
Now, who's saying that? Some Boards of Election around our country, some Secretaries of State. And vendors.
Shame! Shame! An outrage and a shame!
We're lucky, because here in New York state, we have two good bills, one in the Assembly and one in our Senate, that mandate a voter-verified paper audit trail.
That's good because it enables us to perform an audit and verify that the computers are recording the ballots and counting the votes accurately.
But creating the Voter-verified paper ballots is not enough!
The whole point of creating them, is to use them to perform an audit. Well, you have to do an audit!
You can run the voter-verified paper ballots through an optical scanner. You can count them by hand! But if there's no end-of-day reconciliation, or audit, then we're back where we started. We don't know if the election tallies reflect the will of the voters, or if they were created by the computer.
I don't care if the computer is wrong because of an innocent mistake or a malicious mistake. I don't care if the computer is wrong because of an insider or an outside hacker. It doesn't matter, democracy is lost.
People say the computer will give us accessibility and speed and accuracy. I say, without an audit, we'll have accessibility and speed and inaccuracy.
The accuracy only comes from doing the audit, and if we can't audit, then we shouldn't be using a computer to record and count votes. It's a wrong use of the technology. If you can't do an audit, then just use the computer as a ballot marking device to provide accessibility for voters who need it, and let people or scanners count the votes.
We have given elections a low personal, cultural and fiscal priority, for too long.
It is time for a good old dose of American ingenuity, American can-do, American know-how.
I believe that if we want to solve this problem we can. So, let's challenge everyone who says they love this country. Let's challenge them to work together with us.
Let's solve this problem, and all the other problems that have weakened our elections, and our democracy.
The responsibility of citizens in a democracy is to maintain an active relationship with our government, and to participate in our own self-governing.
In 1927, Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis said: "Those who won our independence … believed … that the greatest menace to freedom is an inert people; that public discussion is a political duty...."
So let's discuss the problems we have with elections, and come up with ways to solve them.
We the People, this is our country, it's up to us.
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