Saturday, April 30, 2005

Advocacy Journalism In Action

Robert Koehler is a syndicated columnist who attended the national election reform conference ("Nash-ional") in Nashville last month. He came away knowing there is no basis for confidence in the results reported from U.S. federal elections. Reflecting on the conference, he wrote "The silent scream of numbers: The 2004 election was stolen — will someone please tell the media?"

Apparently a few of his affiliates have picked up the story but most have not. Most notably, the public editor at the Chicago Tribune, Don Wycliff, wrote "When winning isn't everything", a rebuttal of sorts or perhaps an attempted debunking of Koehler's article that the Tribune couldn't even bring itself to publish.

Many people have read Koehler's article at his own personal site. But it has also gained significant attention at Democratic Underground and Brad Blog. Both places list countless letters sent to Wycliff, including mine below.

I don't want to say a lot about the details of any of this because GuvWurld readers should venture to these other sites. Suffice to say that Wycliff has sent a few rather weak replies that have been made public, and Koehler has also been checking in with DU member Wiley50. In this DU thread, a cousin of the one above, discussion is about how to get the story of Wycliff's indefensible position to be covered by other media. By making him the star of the story, election fraud, voter confidence, and the Consent of the Governed all slip into the mainstream consciousness. This is real-time advocacy journalism in progress.

* * *

Subject: Voter Confidence
Sent: 4/29/05 1am

Dear Mr. Wycliff,

My position is simple: there is no basis for confidence in the results reported from U.S. federal elections.

Your position seems to be: there is no basis for questioning the results reported from U.S. federal elections.

Please read the Voter Confidence Resolution below and reconsider. If you still disagree I expect you will be prepared to explain on what basis we should maintain confidence in a system designed to make a conclusive outcome impossible. I truly look forward to your reply.

In Respect and Peace,

Voter Confidence Resolution
(v6.0, LAST UPDATED: 4/23/05 11pm)

Whereas an election is a competition for the privilege of representing the people; and

Whereas each voter is entitled to cast a single ballot to record his or her preferences for representation; and

Whereas the records of individual votes are the basis for counting and potentially re-counting a collective total and declaring a winner; and

Whereas an election's outcome is a matter of public record, based on a finite collection of immutable smaller records; and

Whereas a properly functioning election system should produce unanimous agreement about the results indicated by a fixed set of unchanging records; and

Whereas recent U.S. federal elections have been conducted under conditions that have not produced unanimous agreement about the outcome; and

Whereas future U.S. federal elections cannot possibly produce unanimous agreement as long as any condition permits an inconclusive count or re-count of votes; and

Whereas inconclusive counts and re-counts have occurred during recent U.S. federal elections due in part to electronic voting devices that do not produce a paper record of votes to be re-counted if necessary; and

Whereas inconclusive results have also been caused by election machines losing data, producing negative vote totals, showing more votes than there are registered voters, and persistently and automatically swapping a voter's vote from his or her chosen candidate to an opponent; and

Whereas inconclusive results make it impossible to measure the will of the people in their preferences for representation; and

Whereas the Declaration of Independence refers to the Consent of the Governed as the self-evident truth from which Government derives "just Power";


Because inconclusive results, by definition, mean that the true outcome of an election cannot be known, there is no basis for confidence in the results reported from U.S. federal elections; and

Be it also resolved:

Ensuring conclusive results is only one necessary step toward creating a new basis for voter confidence in U.S. federal elections. Additional reforms that would take further steps toward building voter confidence include:

1) voting processes owned and operated entirely in the public domain, and
2) clean money laws to keep all corporate funds out of campaign financing, and
3) a voter verifiable paper ballot for every vote cast and additional uniform standards determined by a non-partisan nationally recognized commission, and
4) declaring election day a national holiday, and
5) counting all votes publicly and locally in the presence of citizen witnesses and
credentialed members of the media, and
6) equal time provisions to be observed by the media along with a measurable increase in local, public control of the airwaves, and
7) presidential debates containing a minimum of three candidates, run by a non-partisan commission comprised of representatives of publicly owned media outlets, and
8) instant runoff voting (see H.R. 5293) and proportional representation to replace the winner-take-all system for federal elections;

Be it further resolved:

When elections are conducted under conditions that prevent conclusive outcomes, the Consent of the Governed is not being sought. Absent this self-evident source of legitimacy, such Consent is not to be assumed or taken for granted.

The permalink for the Voter Confidence Resolution is:



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