Saturday, July 30, 2005

A Few Things You Should Know

Jim March from BlackBoxVoting.org was arrested on felony charges for trying to observe the vote tally from Tuesday's election in San Diego. Read his account of events here. I posted a response lower on the page.

The Ohio election reform advocates on the [J30] listserv have made me aware of Erie Voices, a blog by and now for Elsebeth Baumgartner and Bryan DuBois, two courageous government critics in Ohio who have both been arrested and held under dubious circumstances. I haven't been able to delve deeply enough into this dense site to say more now but I do think their situation is important and these are people we need to be looking after.

For the bigger picture of Ohio's tangled web of corruption, read this from the Columbus, OH Free Press. They also published the press release issued by the Voter Confidence Committee saying we would not accept the results from Arnold's special election this fall, nor any other state or national election held under current conditions.

I have previously written about Paul Lehto, an attorney in WA deeply involved with the election reform movement. His writing is highly regarded by many. I recommend the essay he recently posted on Democratic Underground presenting a broader view of the legal hassles being dealt to citizens acting in defense of Democracy.

In that same piece, Paul also makes explicit use of the phrase "no basis for confidence," both in the body and title. This is phenomenal validation for the frame and phraseology first used in the GuvWurld blog on April 12, 2004 in a letter to the editor of the Eureka Times-Standard. The letter was published (.doc) on April 28. The even bigger validation is here (.pdf), a scanned copy of the signed and official Arcata Resolution No. 056-09, Voter Confidence Resolution.

With thanks again to David Cobb, the Voter Confidence Resolution is also in the official record of the Election Assessment Hearing held in Houston on June 29. The HEAH listserv emerged from this conference and has allowed me to tremendously further my networking with other election reform advocates.

I also want to mention that David and his group Democracy Unlimited put on an amazing event two weeks ago called Skillshare. Community members with all different sorts of interests and skills came to offer their time and wisdom. This excellent concept was very well received and should be emulated elsewhere.

I recently added some new sections to the GuvWurld News Archive. In the Transformational Strategy section you'll see increasing numbers of articles on organizing, specifically longer think pieces that contemplate peaceful revolution. And because so much of the writing and public speaking I've done recently has led me to trace ideas back past the beginning of the GuvWurld blog, I have added a section for GuvWurld Essays and Letters.

And finally, for now, Dennis Kyne checked in with a new CD of songs for peace. It must be an advance copy because I only see his older CD available at DennisKyne.com. Well anyway, his letter said to make copies in part or in whole so tomorrow I'll post an .mp3 of "All We Want Is the Truth." Click here for a summary of Dennis's mentions in the GuvWurld blog.


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Friday, July 29, 2005

California Rejects Diebold Certification

As reported in the Oakland Tribune:
Article Last Updated: 07/29/2005 09:27:14 AM

E-voting machines rejected

State says Diebold failures in massive mock election could translate to problems at polls

By Ian Hoffman, STAFF WRITER

After possibly the most extensive testing ever on a voting system, California has rejected Diebold's flagship electronic voting machine because of printer jams and screen freezes, sending local elections officials scrambling for other means of voting.

"There was a failure rate of about 10 percent, and that's not good enough for the voters of California and not good enough for me," Secretary of State Bruce McPherson said.

If the machines had been used in an election, the result could have been frustration for poll workers and long lines for thousands of voters, elections officials and voter advocates said Thursday.

"We certainly can't take any kind of risk like that with this kind of device on California voters," McPherson said.

Rejection of the TSx by California, the nation's largest voting-system market, could influence local elections officials from Utah, Mississippi and Ohio, home of Diebold corporate headquarters, where dozens of counties are poised to purchase the latest Diebold touch screens. State elections officials in Ohio say they still have confidence in the machines.
Every little win is like a grand-slam-dunk. Meanwhile, on what basis does Ohio maintain its confidence?


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Friday, July 22, 2005

PRESS RELEASE: Arcata Adopts Voter Confidence Resolution

-----------------------------------------------
PRESS RELEASE: FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

"VOTER CONFIDENCE RESOLUTION" ADOPTED IN ARCATA, CA
CA City Proclaims U.S. Election Methods Ensure Inconclusive Outcomes, Calls for Immediate Reform
-----------------------------------------------

July 20, 2005 -- Arcata, CA. The Arcata City Council, known worldwide for championing some of the most progressive political and environmental movements in the U.S., is now taking the lead on election reform through their adoption of the nation's first Voter Confidence Resolution.

"The Voter Confidence Resolution is a common sense statement saying privatized election machines and secret vote counting ensure inconclusive outcomes. Under these conditions we will never have unanimous agreement about election results," says Dave Berman, co-founder of the Voter Confidence Committee of Humboldt County, CA. "The Arcata City Council has demonstrated that our local government does hear the voice of the people, even when the federal government has stopped listening."

The Voter Confidence Resolution passed by a margin of 3 to 2 after 15 months of community lobbying and ultimately just 35 minutes of official public comment and discussion. Councilmember Dave Meserve voted with the majority and said, "Adopting the Voter Confidence Resolution is an important step in establishing the legitimacy of our federal elections. I'm pleased that Arcata was the first City to pass the Voter Confidence Resolution and hope that many other cities will follow."

Also voting in support of the resolution were Councilmembers Harmony Groves; and Paul Pitino, who said, "The Voter Confidence Resolution is a step in the right direction toward election reform. Someday we should have ranked choice voting and make our elections more democratic. I also support people running without endorsements and on a limited budget."

The Resolution also states that the Consent of the Governed, defined in the Declaration of Independence as the self-evident truth from which Government derives 'just Power,' is no longer being sought through elections in America. Unverifiable votes, privatized source code, and secret vote counting ensure inconclusive outcomes. Since the results are inherently uncertain, the Resolution states, there is no basis for confidence.

"This is where the faith-based and reality-based communities intersect," Berman said. "Ronald Reagan said 'Trust, but verify.' If only we could. Thirty percent of the votes cast last November could not be recounted. All votes must be verifiable or there is no basis for confidence in the results reported."

Around the U.S., election reform advocates are actively organizing and lobbying their City Councils to pass the Voter Confidence Resolution as well. The resolution adopted by Arcata has been developed at Berman's blog, http://guvwurld.blogspot.com and is presented as a template to be customized somewhat by other participating communities. However, the following points are the framework for the Resolution, which when used around the country will generate a cumulative impact as more and more resolutions pass:

1. The way it works now, we're guaranteed inconclusive outcomes and we'll never have unanimous agreement about election results.

2. The Voter Confidence Resolution contains a comprehensive election reform platform designed to ensure conclusive outcomes and create a new basis for confidence in U.S. federal elections.

3. Since the Consent of the Governed is not being sought, we ask: Has the Consent of the Governed been withdrawn, YET?

The benefit of cumulative impact means it is assumed that citizens will eventually switch the answer to this question from no, to YES, the Consent of the Governed HAS been withdrawn.

Berman added: "I have no doubt that other communities will pass the Voter Confidence Resolution. The question is how many will it take before we can say the Consent of the Governed has been withdrawn?"

###

CONTACT:
Dave Berman, co-founder Voter Confidence Committee of Humboldt County, CA
Tel: (707) 845-3749
blog@guvwurld.org
http://tinyurl.com/amryg (Voter Confidence Resolution)
http://guvwurld.blogspot.com (GuvWurld blog main page)
http://www.VoterConfidenceCommittee.org (Voter Confidence Committee home page)


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Thursday, July 21, 2005

KHUM Radio Interview on Arcata Adopting Voter Confidence Resolution

I just spoke with Mike Dronkers for a 10 minute radio interview on KHUM.

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Voter Confidence Resolution ADOPTED By Arcata, CA (First in Nation)!!

Shortly before midnight on Wednesday night the City Council of Arcata, CA became the first in the nation to adopt the Voter Confidence Resolution. Illustrating that current conditions ensure inconclusive election outcomes, the resolution concludes that the Consent of the Governed is not being sought and should not be assumed or taken for granted. As other City Councils follow suit, the question asked repeatedly will be: Has the Consent of the Governed been withdrawn, YET? This is the frame that will develop cumulative impact, taking a "not if, but when" posture so that a "last straw" will inevitably create a Tipping Point.

The Voter Confidence Resolution was adopted on a 3-2 vote with the support of Harmony Groves, Dave Meserve and Paul Pitino. Councilmembers Meserve and Groves previously served as a subcommittee tasked with revising the resolution for its eventual public hearing. Stealing one of the talking points I had planned for my public comment, Meserve noted that he and Groves had made no changes, calling the statement "perfect."

Mayor Michael Machi and Councilmember Mark Wheetley cast dissenting votes. Wheetley acknowledged my efforts to contact him and apologized for not getting back to me. He conceded he hadn't really gotten his head around the obvious importance of the document though he did recognize the election problems and our comprehensive election reform platform. Ultimately he wanted to see the County Supervisors weigh in (seems likely passing this resolution will get their attention). Machi was consistent with his many prior votes against using the Council to make statements or take stands. This was despite saying he personally found no fault with the resolution itself.

Passing the Voter Confidence Resolution has been a goal directly targeted and pursued through the GuvWurld blog since its inception on April 3, 2004. I also give a lot of credit and thanks to the Voter Confidence Committee, a group I co-founded in February 2005 with Scott Menzies and Mark Konkler.

Immediate next steps are circulating this blog entry to my e-mail lists and posting it on some message boards. In the morning I'll begin circulating a press release locally, nationally and internationally. From there, the bigger picture will be encouraging election reform advocates all over the country who will work toward passing their own version of the Voter Confidence Resolution patterned after Arcata's which is held up as a template.

For now, the message Washington D.C. will ignore is: WE DO NOT CONSENT.


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Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Voter Confidence Resolution on Arcata Council Agenda Again

The Arcata City Council will reconvene Wednesday night at 7pm. Their last meeting ran so late that the Voter Confidence Resolution did not get its scheduled hearing before the self-imposed curfew. This week's agenda (.pdf) again includes the Voter Confidence Resolution although its placement in the New Business section suggests timing may be a similar factor.

The bright spot last time was the strong turnout by community members wanting to speak in favor, and acknowledgment of this by Councilmembers Meserve and Groves who (unsuccessfully) asked Mayor Machi to extend the meeting. I want to encourage everyone to attend this next meeting prepared to address the Council (see the Guide to the Voter Confidence Resolution for an overview of the strategy and talking points), and also to call and/or e-mail Councilmembers in advance of the meeting to register your position.

Michael Machi - 269-0394 - mmmp@htan.org
Dave Meserve - 441-9846 -– greenarcata@hotmail.com
Paul Pitino - 522-0387 - ppitino@arcatacityhall.org
Mark Wheetley - 269-0332 - mwheetley@arcatacityhall.org
Harmony Groves -– 522-0463 -– harmony@harmonyinarcata.com

Incidentally, the lack of recent posts in the GuvWurld blog is not indicative of a lack of activity. In fact it is quite the opposite: I've been so busy that I haven't had time to write about all my activities. This is part of the balancing act of advocacy journalism, a term GuvWurld has made its own:
Publicly stated goals separate advocacy journalists from those with a mere bias; an advocacy journalist is successful to the extent that such goals are achieved.
Do a Google search for "advocacy journalist" and as of this time, the top link comes right back here.


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Thursday, July 07, 2005

Self-Imposed Curfew Halts Arcata Hearing on Voter Confidence

Arcata's City Council meeting had a full house and full agenda last night. At about 10:45pm the Council voted to continue meeting until midnight. They were still several items away from the Voter Confidence Resolution, aka Draft Resolution No. 056-09.

At approximately 11:55pm the Council voted 3-1-1 (Dave Meserve voted nay, Paul Pitino abstained) to place an initiative on the November 2006 ballot for Arcata voters to decide about water fluoridation. Finally our moment had arrived.

Despite the prodding of Councilmembers Harmony Groves and Meserve, Mayor Michael Machi would not stay open for business any longer and invited public comment for just the limited moments remaining before their self-imposed curfew. The Voter Confidence Resolution should now appear on the July 20 agenda, hopefully under "Old Business" which will come up earlier in the meeting.

We definitely had a strong showing of supporters prepared to speak, including many members of the Voter Confidence Committee and Vets For Peace Chapter 56, Martha Devine officially representing the Green Party of Humboldt County, and Revolutionary performance artist Shaye Harty, among others. Given what we saw from Council and from the community, my determination and optimism have multiplied manifold.

Meanwhile, Ohio activist Rady Ananda, my key liaison with the [J30] group I have previously mentioned, has repeated and amplified her call for support of the Voter Confidence Resolution. See the GuvWurld News Archive for a thoughtful piece she's written on election reform strategy. She has also compiled a data-heavy workbook (.pdf) of election reform resources being distributed to advocates everywhere, along with the suggestion that localized versions be customized (just like the resolution). Notice that she has included the Voter Confidence Resolution as well as the companion Guide as the last elements before a closing quote from Abby Hoffman:
Democracy is not something you believe in or hang your hat on, but something you do. You participate. If you stop doing it, democracy crumbles and falls.


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Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Reflections on Independence Day

(Posted 7/8/05, written mostly 7/5/05)

Late in the evening of July 3, 2002 I found myself introspective, contemplative of the meaning behind the holiday that was dawning. I wrote an essay called "Reflections on Independence." It was the first time I made a public appeal for revolution. The following year I updated it and repeated my call. Last year I was on a media tour in Portland, unprepared to continue the tradition though certainly acting in the spirit. By the time July 4, 2005 arrived, talk of peaceful revolution had become commonplace. At least that's what I'm striving for, even if we're not quite there yet.

I spent most of the day on the Arcata Plaza handing out leaflets and encouraging participation at Wednesday's meeting of the Arcata City Council. This will include the potentially historic vote on the Voter Confidence Resolution, a strategem openly identified as an attempt to catalyze peaceful revolution. This year I found myself thinking a bit less about the meaning of Independence and a bit more about the meaning and history of Independence Day itself.

One of the people I encountered Monday afternoon was performance artist and fellow revolutionary Shaye Harty. She invited me to the Eureka Courthouse later in the day to "celebrate the unveiling of the Declaration of Freedom for Humboldt Nation." I was intrigued. After chatting for a few minutes, she asked me to sit and talk with her in front of Emma and her rolling video camera. What did we discuss? Well, peaceful revolution of course. Throughout the rest of the day I was struck with ideas for several video shorts on which Shaye and I could collaborate. Basically I suggested we should aim to create provocative and compelling elements that "connect the dots" in simple, irreverent and engaging ways, and which could fit between two commercials on Free Speech TV. We'll see...

Anyway, about 25 people assembled at the Courthouse to witness Shaye's recitation of her Declaration, written on hemp parchment (Shaye: "hemp hemp hooray!"). This Declaration repurposes language from the original from 1776 and adds in contemporary "facts to be submitted to a candid world." Noting that our "repeated Petitions have been answered only be repeated injury," Shaye's Declaration concludes that the County of Humboldt, and all who choose to join us, "of Right ought to be a Free and Independent Nation; that we are Absolved from all Allegiance to the United States of America."

Upon completion of the reading, Shaye donned a gas mask and torched a flag comprised not of the stars and stripes but the corporate logos of America's oppressors. This drew horn honks and vitriol from one motorist unable to distinguish what was burning. If he had his way we "Communists" would "go back to Russia." Ah, the sweet stench of enlightenment. Basking in the intangible bliss of our new sovereignty, Shaye led us up the block to the Federal Courthouse where a souvenir copy of the Declaration was duct-taped to the glass door. That was the little-known loophole that made it official.


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Sunday, July 03, 2005

Arcata Agenda Confirms Resolution Hearing This Wed

The agenda has been posted for Wednesday's meeting of the Arcata City Council. It is now officially a matter of record: the Voter Confidence Resolution will get its hearing. The Voter Confidence Committee will be on the Arcata Plaza tomorrow handing out fliers and encouraging community members to speak at Wednesday's meeting. The VCC's regular 6pm Monday meeting has been moved to 6pm Tuesday and will feature another prominent guest. The agenda will include planning next steps in our preferential voting campaign; continued discussion of the proposed County election reform task force (likely to be called "Elections Advisory Committee"); and planning media and PR outreach should the resolution pass. VCC meetings are currently held at Liquid Cafe in Eureka and they are open to the public.

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