Wednesday, May 18, 2005

[J30] - Election Reformers in OH Considering Support For Voter Confidence Resolution

Check out the [J30] yahoogroup. This is their mission:
The mission of J30 Election Coalition is to implement fair, honest and transparent elections by raising public and political awareness, by organizing and empowering activists, by pursuing and/or supporting civil and/or criminal actions as appropriate, and by cooperating with and supporting other voting rights activists with which we agree, as a unified body, and for which we can provide human and other resources.
You probably have to join the group to have access to their files and meeting minutes, etc. Having signed up, I can say I'm very impressed at how organized, disciplined and efficient these folks appear to be, plus they seem to be beyond false alternatives.

One of their members has taken a strong interest in the Voter Confidence Resolution, requesting a reply to her suggestion to add two reforms to the list. This was what prompted me to look them up and join. Here is a copy of the one post I made to introduce myself and respond to the suggestion:
Hi J30 Group,

I see your message archive is vast and applaud all the work you are doing for election reform. I have joined your group because Rady tracked me down through the Voter Confidence Committee in Humboldt County, CA. I understand you have been discussing the Voter Confidence Resolution, a living, breathing document that has been evolving on my blog ( since April 2004. This is excellent. I'd like to hear more about where you're at with it. I also want to respond to Rady's comments in this public space so the whole group can take into account the direction I am going to offer.

The Voter Confidence Resolution (link below) shown at GuvWurld is a template meant to be tailored by any group or community wanting to adopt it. We don't need communities to pass identical versions of this resolution. The resolution contains three key frames that I suggest leaving in place in order to facilitate the cumulative impact of passing this in lots of places:

1. The resolution says there is no basis for confidence in the results reported from U.S. federal elections. If I were to simply say I have no confidence I would expect to encounter an arbitrary reply that defiantly says "well I do have confidence." This goes nowhere. To argue against no basis for confidence requires accounting for the existence of a basis (or reason; as a talking point, saying "I have no reason to believe" is an effective translation to reinforce "I have no basis for confidence"). There can be none and the body of the resolution makes this plain using the second key frame.

2. Current conditions ensure inconclusive election results. I saw on Democratic Underground today that the Republican Party put out a letter in Washington state that listed very specific numbers of all sorts of different voting improprieties. Their aim is to unseat the Democratic governor by casting doubt on the legitimacy of her win. Their position advances this frame immensely. The letter mentions the voting improprieties but it does not presume for whom the mystery votes were cast. Their position implicitly supports the main body of the Voter Confidence Resolution which concludes that current conditions ensure inconclusive outcomes.

3. The third key frame is how we connect nationally. The final clause currently reads: "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." And so, as each new resolution passes, the question we ask is: Has the Consent of the Governed been withdrawn, YET? This ups the ante each time until we hit an inevitable tipping point.

So, like I said, editing the resolution in any way is totally ok. I hope these three elements will stay intact. To be clear, this is envisioned for the most local of levels available and is not at all intended for members of Congress.

To briefly address Rady, who provided two additional reforms to be considered for inclusion. I support the ideas (direct election of Prez and Veep; voter privacy through decentralized database) and encourage this group to use them in putting forth your own version of the resolution. This is the crux: you need to OWN it. That means taking it out in your community and letting other people's responses continue to shape it. You want something that everyone should be willing to say with one voice.

Because the resolution is pending before the City Council of Arcata, CA I'm working with two of the Councilmembers, designated as a subcommittee, to do a final edit that will get a public hearing next month. I'm a little reluctant to change the version on GuvWurld right now, but that doesn't mean I'm not interested in feedback. Locally, my current response to feedback is to say thank you, will you please pick up the phone and repeat that on the voice mail of the Councilmembers. Nationally I say show me the version your group endorsed and I'll put it up as such.

I got the impression there is at least one geographic cluster among list members. Are there more? Into how many communities can this group introduce the Voter Confidence Resolution? Which ones?

In Respect and Peace,



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