Holt: "It's no longer my bill."
In a town meeting in his New Jersey home district in July, Congressman Rush Holt made some disturbing statements which leave no doubt that H.R. 811 has become a bill that protects the interests of software corporations over the rights of citizens. In fact the Holt bill is NOT the Holt bill anymore! It has become ‘Microsoft 811’!
Mr. Holt: "The bill has been changed since I introduced it. It's no longer my bill -- well, it's still my bill but it's been marked up in committee."
Further he added:
"Unfortunately, the committee that made this change heard from Microsoft. They heard that Voice. The point is Microsoft did lobby strongly. It wasn't just Microsoft. It was everybody who—"
Audience question: “Diebold?”
Holt: "No, it was software -- the software industry."
There is something seriously wrong when a U.S. Congressman can say that an election reform bill he introduced was significantly changed through the lobbying effort of Microsoft and the software industry....that their voices were heard!
Since when was the rule passed in Congress that whoever lobbies hardest gets to determine the content of U.S. legislation?
When a U.S. Congressman can agree that “the software industry won!” — as Mr. Holt admitted at the July meeting, we have a critical problem that threatens the foundation of our Democracy.
This bill is no longer the Holt bill...he said so himself. Clearly, the bill is now ‘Microsoft 811!’
When Congressman Holt — the election reform leader in Congress — puts his trust in an audit that many experts say is inadequate, when he advocates for questionable paper trails linked to secretly programmed machines and then adds “ I don't care what Microsoft does with their electronics in there” (as he did), it begins to look like our elections are a game of Russian roulette.
Where once the bill called for complete openness, full public disclosure of all software used to count OUR votes, now we have the opposite. ‘Microsoft 811’ enshrines in LAW the right of corporations to privatize our election through control of programming secrecy, prohibiting public disclosure of what’s inside OUR voting machines! Only under strict conditions, people selected for very specific purposes can review the software, but only after signing non-disclosure agreements. Thus, what should be a contractual agreement is enshrined in federal law.
When you vote on Election Day you will not know what is happening inside that electronic machine. Under ‘Microsoft 811’, on Election Night the results reported will be generated from those secretly programmed electronic bytes….from the very machines that top security experts have labeled “fatally flawed.” Can we trust the results? How will we know?
A few months ago in New York State, during the hectic closing days of the legislative session, Microsoft along with other software vendors/lobbyists tried to sneak through provisions to destroy some of the strictest, hardest won, voting security legislation in the country by attaching those provisions to another bill which was simply about a minor change in the primary. Fortunately activists were vigilant and raised an alarm. Thousands of New Yorkers called their legislators in the next two days and the vendors’ effort was defeated. Citizens can win if they speak out.
Now we have a far bigger challenge. Microsoft and other software companies are trying to get another bill passed that would protect their rights over the rights of the public. It is up to We the People to say “No” … say it loud and clear till OUR VOICES – not the corporations’ – are heard and heeded.
There are more problems with ‘Microsoft 811’ than just the assault on the public’s right to know. See http://www.votersunite.org/info/hr811Report.pdf . Right now it must be stopped, and then we must demand that Congress pass a “stripped down” bill focused on the most vital steps to better secure election 2008. We MUST BAN DREs and provide states funding to replace them with systems that use paper ballots, marked by hand or by accessible ballot-marking devices, and counted by hand or by automatic tabulator. And any time we use computers to tabulate votes, we must have statistically significant hand-count audits to check the accuracy of the machines then continually improve the entire system.with citizen involvement.
People “say” Congress will never ban DREs. But where’s the proof? Congress’ reason for being is to serve “We the People.” It is up to all of us to act. So, call your Representative and engage at least ten other people to call or fax. Call until you are have been heard. Tell Representatives to vote NO on H.R. 811 and to insist on a real election reform bill that bans DREs and restores to our elections the requirement of true separate and independent checks and balances which can be open to the American people. Only our vote should be secret.
Abraham Lincoln said, “Elections belong to the people. It is their decision.”
Would that Congress heard these words rather than the words of ‘Microsoft & Co.’
So now it's time to have our voices heard, and make it OUR decision.
Microsoft 811 will be on the floor for a vote this week. It is vital that you act now. We are up against some powerful interests but New York citizens won, so can all of us…if each of us takes action. Stop Microsoft 811! Then Ban DREs!
To get telephone number of your representative or get info: http://www.congress.org/congressorg/directory/congdir.tt?action=myreps_form
Mary Ann Gould
Coalition for Voting Integrity
“Voice of the Voters” Radio & Internet
www.voiceofthevoters.org for archived programs