Monday, November 28, 2005

Further Humboldt Implications of the GAO Elections Report

For the past week and a half I've been studying the GAO report condemning the conditions under which our elections are held. Last Tuesday I posted this searing analysis of the report's implications on Humboldt County, which I also circulated as a Media Advisory to Humboldt press outlets. So far the Humboldt Advocate and Eureka Reporter have expressed interest in the story and I consider this very encouraging.

On the other hand, it is perplexing to have to tell of the response from the Eureka Times-Standard. Before issuing the Advisory I contacted editor Charles Winkler with a head's up just to check out the GAO report. He always seems pleasant enough in greeting me. Then comes the confounding factor. Winkler tried to tell me the GAO report was only about Ohio. Knowing that I could show him otherwise, I let it go. After receiving the actual Advisory, Winkler e-mailed saying "we don't have these machines here, as far as I know..." He copied that fantasy to Dave Rosso. I spoke with Rosso on Friday when he repeated the delusion that "we don't have these machines here." I asked then what software counts votes in Humboldt? Silence.

I want to say that I don't know what to make of this contrary behavior. But it is strikingly similar to what I've been describing recently in more abstract terms. And it is not isolated.

Three weeks ago, on the final Saturday night before California's Special Election, the Civil Liberties Monitoring Project had a forum with five speakers including Humboldt County Clerk-Recorder Carolyn Crnich. In the closing portion of the program I had the opportunity to ask Crnich a question from the audience.
(Me, paraphrased): Given that 30% of the national vote in November 2004 could not be recounted, and that a press release says nine counties will be using paperless electronic voting machines in Tuesday's special election, I say in both cases there is no basis for confidence in the results reported. Humboldt notwithstanding, as a voter of California, do you have confidence in the results that will come from the upcoming Special Election, and if so, what is the basis for that confidence?

(Crnich, also paraphrased): California law requires a voter verifiable paper audit trail. There will be no paperless electronic voting on Tuesday.
After the forum, I caught up with Crnich milling in the audience. I pointed out to her that she hadn't answered my question because instead she disputed my premise. She again insisted that the VVPAT requirement was in effect. I knew this would be true after January 1, 2006 and offered to bring her proof. We also agreed to verify the issue of paperless machines for this election as a separate question. I haven't had a chance to get back together with her yet, but all the evidence is linked in this post. I'll be calling her for an appointment later today.

I asked Crnich one other thing. I wondered, if she realized there really would be paperless electronic machines in use, would she still have confidence in the results reported? Conceding not quite all the way to the language of the Voter Confidence Resolution, Crnich said: "I would say there is a basis for not having confidence." I thought this had to be close enough and slinked off with a smirk.

Over the past many months, members of the Voter Confidence Committee have met several times with Crnich. She has humbly admitted being unfamiliar with many of the concerns about our current election conditions. This is in contrast to County Elections Manager Lindsey McWilliams who both stands in denial of these problems and becomes hostile and defensive when confronted with them. Following a Board of Supervisors meeting this past April, I reported about Lindsey's vulgar public outburst when challenged about election standards:
McWilliams acknowledged on the one hand that we have a "monumentally fucked up system" in this country, but in the next breath he cast doubt on the breadth of the tens of thousands of "irregularities" reported from the 2004 general "election." He seems to honestly believe that election machines are not part of the problem.
This too was not a stand-alone incident. Upon reviewing my Parallel Election Wrap Up report, written early in the morning following California's recent Special Election, McWilliams zoomed in on this excerpt:
I may have botched the procedure here, missing my chance to get the totals by officially observing the closing of the official poll. If that wouldn't have given us the numbers then I was operating on a false assumption since I waited for the results to be posted outside. After a while I finally got the attention of someone inside (not clear what they were doing but they had locked themselves in City Hall) who told me the results wouldn't be posted there (are they not required to do this?). She said I should check at the police station. At the station they said they only receive ballots for temporary safekeeping and have nothing to do with the results. The elections department website hasn't been updated and going there is just out of the question.
In an e-mail forwarded to GuvWurld, McWilliams dispatched the following vitriol to Mark Konkler, Voter Confidence Committee liaison to the elections department:
So, Dave has you for a front man because there's no way he's coming to the Elections Office? Ignorant cowardice is disappointing. He doesn't know California election procedures but he's got a fix for them?
I'll take those charges in order. First, Konkler has long been the designated VCC point-person working with McWilliams and Crnich. Second, at midnight on Parallel Election Day, some of our volunteers were exhausted from working since 6:30am. Recognizing that we could achieve nothing different by obtaining the "official" results at that late hour or the following morning, the group's consensus was to call it a night. And finally, as I puzzled in my PE wrap up report, the precinct should not be locked to bar witnessing of the counting, and results are indeed required to be posted outside the polling place according to California Election Code:
[19380] During the reading of the result of votes cast, any candidate or watcher who may desire to be present shall be admitted to the polling place.

[19384] The precinct board shall, before it adjourns, post conspicuously on the outside of the polling place a copy of the result of the votes cast at the polling place.
So this brings us full circle to my GAO report analysis, which by the way, comments on only a tiny fraction of the improprieties discussed in the 107 page official GAO report, and omits mention of this additional illegal activity. I implore you again, GuvWurld readers, demand from our local media a thorough investigation and report. Equally important, notify the Board of Supervisors that this is entirely inadequate and inappropriate performance from our elections department.

What would be better, and what we have a right to expect, is reality-based public servants who recognize and acknowledge the extent of the problems with election conditions, and who are committed to improving those conditions. The Supes simply must rise to the occasion in their oversight capacity and help to define meaningful qualification criteria for new candidates for employment at the elections department. After all, Crnich is running (currently unopposed) for re-election in 2006 and McWilliams holds his position by appointment. If you are willing to run for one of these jobs, please contact me and I will gladly interview you and publish the transcript here in the GuvWurld blog.

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Sunday, November 27, 2005


CA Secretary of State Bruce McPherson continues to look for a way to certify Diebold election machines, no matter the evidence proving their flaws. Supposedly, tomorrow, Monday Nov. 28 is the deadline for public comment. Here are some vital links to assist you in standing up and demanding Democracy: posting from 11/17/05 - contains detailed explanations of successful exploitation of Diebold defects, including the GEMS central tabulator software used to count votes in Humboldt County.

California Voter Foundation report on 11/21/05 Diebold "no hearing" hearing in Sacramento (McPherson disbanded the Voting Systems and Procedures Panel leaving election reform advocates to testify before a group without any authority or even advisory capacity).

California Election Protection Network (CEPN) - home page currently has report on 11/21/05 hearing, plus background on Diebold and HAVA (may be outdated because there is no archived link) posting from 11/22/05 - very interesting announcement that McPherson has set up a public "test hack" for BBV experts; postings added from 11/25 on indicate the initial date of 11/30 has been postponed to a mid-December date still to be determined.

Oakland Tribune - 11/27/05 article confirming test hack will happen but conditions still being negotiated; article also confirms Humboldt among impacted Counties.

Agenda, Voting Systems Testing Summit 2005 - the wheels will keep spinning this Monday and Tuesday in Sacramento. Among the topics of discussion:
  • Can States or Vendors Help Speed Up the Process and Still Protect the Integrity of the Vote?

  • How Can Test Processes and Results be Shared?

  • Are Standards Getting Increasingly Tougher? Should They?

  • Should Different Tests Be Applied to Different Types of Voting Systems?

  • Are Parallel Testing Programs a Good Idea? What Do They Prove?

  • Source Code -– How Much Should Be Reviewed? By Whom?

  • Is State Certification Necessary or Is Federal Testing Sufficient?
  • And one more link, from Dan Ashby, a Berkeley organizer I met in Portland at the National Summit to Save Our Elections. Dan compiled a comprehensive document full of info for opposing Diebold, including sample letters and official Sacto contact info. It is important to note that faxing comments is more impactful than e-mail, and more timely given that snail mail won't arrive in time for tomorrow's deadline on public comment.

    There is lots going on here at GuvWurld. Tomorrow morning I will release a follow-up on last week's GAO report analysis. Some local media have responded well and I expect some coverage this week. However, your insistence on thorough investigative reporting is essential. This community should not accept those who refuse to reveal or seek to hide the truth about the state of our elections. Revisit that post for a list of local media and government contacts. I'll be doing outreach to Humboldt County Supervisors tomorrow too, calling for support of both the GAO report investigation and the Diebold resistance.

    And a final note on the overall election reform movement. Yesterday I posted about the Eureka Greens adopting the Voter Confidence Resolution (VCR). This happened without my involvement or knowledge. I believe this indicates the VCR has begun to take on a life of its own. Further, the CEPN reference above contains a section called the 7 Reasons Not To Certify Diebold. The first reason is the GEMS defect and it quotes (without permission or credit) two paragraphs from my GAO report analysis. Going a step further, Dan Ashby included the 7 reasons in the piece linked above, and he kept the two paragraphs with some minor word tweaks. This is in no way a complaint about plagiarism. Quite the opposite. What I see is that the election reform movement is alive and evolving, taking the best of what we can all contribute and repurposing where practical to achieve shared goals. Good for us!

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    Saturday, November 26, 2005

    Eureka Greens Adopt Voter Confidence Resolution

    Last Saturday there was a meeting of the Eureka Greens, a group I didn't know existed. As a result of that meeting, the top item currently on their website (permalink) is their adoption of the Voter Confidence Resolution. It appears they adopted the version I just linked which is what the Arcata City Council famously adopted on July 20, 2005. At the conclusion, the Greens added the following paragraph:
    Resolved, The Secretary shall transmit this resolution to the GPHC General Assembly and all GPHC Locals, GPCA State Coordinating Committee and Green Issues Working Group, Emerald Region of the GPCA and constituent county organizations, Voter Confidence Committee, Velvet Revolution, President George W. Bush, Senators Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein, Congressman Mike Thompson, Senator Wes Chesbro, Assemblymember Patty Berg and the media.
    That's awesome that they feel so motivated to do all that outreach. It fits perfectly with the strategy brainstorming I've been involved with recently and so I would like to put out a call for volunteers now, to the Eureka Greens and all GuvWurld readers.

    We need to expand the direct contact with Mayors and Councilmembers beyond Humboldt, as we did back in August. If you can contribute to a little internet research, e-mail and phone campaign, please contact me or come to the next meeting of the Voter Confidence Committee, every Monday at 6pm, at the Liquid Cafe in Eureka's Burre Center (map).

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    Tuesday, November 22, 2005

    Humboldt Election Problems Seen In GAO Report

    Last Thursday I wrote about a report released by the official Congressional watchdog body, the non-partisan Government Accountability Office (GAO). The corporate media has mostly blacked out this story which should otherwise reveal to every American that there is no basis for confidence in the results reported from U.S. federal elections. Let's see if the Humboldt implications, and your provocations, Dear GuvWurld readers, will be enough to get some local coverage. Consider this a call to action.

    Almost at the very beginning, on page 5, the GAO report says:
    We also note that there is a lack of consensus on the pervasiveness of the problems, due in part to a lack of comprehensive information on what system makes and models are used in jurisdictions throughout the country.
    We are being asked to believe that nationwide vote tallies are counted entirely accurately but we can't account for what type of machine recorded and counted each vote. Does this defy logic or is it just me? Also, this mention of a "lack of consensus" should be obvious. Inherent uncertainty (such as unverifiable votes) is created all the time to keep us divided about what constitutes reality. Please send me ANY examples of national consensus, if you can find one. This is the Intentionally Divided States of America.

    On page 23, the authors make GuvWurld's case for media coverage:
    In light of the recently demonstrated voting system problems; the differing views on how widespread these problems are; and the complexity of assuring the accuracy, integrity, confidentiality, and availability of voting systems throughout their life cycles, the security and reliability concerns raised in recent reports merit the focused attention of federal, state, and local authorities responsible for election administration.
    And with a few Humboldt-related items, the focused attention of our election officials will surely warrant the focused attention of our local media:
    --p.24-25: Weak system security controls
  • The Humboldt County website has a memo to the Board of Supervisors dated 2/22/05. It is from Carolyn Wilson Crnich, Clerk-Recorder. It is also signed by the preparer, Lindsey McWilliams, County Elections Manager. Regarding storage of voting equipment, they wrote:
    Since Public Works has unfettered access to our equipment at present, there is little reason to seek a security audit which we would undoubtedly fail.
    Are security protocols inherently bad or worthless? Should audits be banned or eliminated? No, it seems we just shouldn't conduct them if we know we won't pass. Which is more easily excused, disregard for confirming the security status of election machines, or disregard for the machines' security? No apologies can be accepted for either.

  • Humboldt County uses modems for data transfer (vote tallies) between the precincts and the "central tabulator." The GAO report mentioned problems with modems:
    In addition, one of these reports found that it was possible to gain full control of a regional vote tabulation computer—including the ability to modify the voting software—via a modem connection.
    The report referenced above is a study by the Maryland General Assembly:
    By successfully directing Canvas [commercial software] at the GEMS modem interface, the team was able to remotely upload, download and execute files with full system administrator privileges. All that was required was a valid phone number for the GEMS server.
  • Humboldt County uses GEMS which is vote counting software made by Diebold. Other problems with GEMS include:
    1. GEMS contains trade-secret ("proprietary") programming kept private from election officials and the public at large.

    2. While no one can explain precisely how GEMS works, it is known that GEMS operates on Microsoft's Access platform, which has long been proven to be highly unsecure by industry experts.

    3. Votergate the Movie (, available for free download, contains footage from a national TV broadcast of Bev Harris instructing Howard Dean how to hack GEMS and untraceably alter vote tallies in under two minutes. Additional vulnerabilities have since been found and publicized at

    --p.37: Poor version control of system software
    The GAO report cites an April 2004 CA Secretary of State Staff Report on the investigation of Diebold Election Systems, Inc.:
    [T]he VSPP [Voting Systems and Procedures Panel] initiated an audit of all 17 California counties using Diebold voting systems. The audit discovered that Diebold had, in fact, installed uncertified software in all its client counties without notifying the Secretary of State as required by law, and that the software was not federally qualified in three client counties. Diebold eventually acknowledged that it had failed to notify the Secretary of State of its proposed system modifications, and that its failure to obtain certification for those modifications violated state law.
    Who allowed Humboldt's voting machines to have uncertified software installed in them? Was someone in the Humboldt County elections department complicit in this crime or merely negligent? Is this person still employed by the elections department, and if so, why? Humboldt voters deserve answers and local media that will pursue accountability.
    --p.38: The GAO report is a mix of concerns for what could happen, and evidence of what has happened. The former illustrates the need for transparency and greater awareness while the latter is proof of the fallout for continued willful ignorance:
    Nevertheless, there is evidence that some of these concerns—including weak controls and inadequate testing—have caused problems with recent elections, resulting in the loss and miscount of votes.
    Since day one of the GuvWurld blog, the premise has been that our elections are held under conditions which ensure inconclusive outcomes. Clearly, when votes are lost and miscounted, as reported by the GAO, the world cannot be sure of the true results from U.S. elections. This has been demonstrated time and again, and yet we still face reticent media and apologist community members sticking up for election officials out of misplaced and misguided loyalty. It doesn't matter who you are, your friends are not more important than our Democracy.

    GuvWurld readers, your call to action is to make all local media aware of the GAO report and its implications for Humboldt County; and to encourage the Board of Supervisors to consider whether our elections department is staffed by people committed to election reforms that will ensure conclusive outcomes, create a basis for confidence in the results reported, and establish accountable government representing We The People with the Consent of the Governed. This is what Democracy looks like.

    Local Media Contacts:

    Arcata Eye:, 707-826-7000
    Eureka Reporter:, 707-476-8000
    Eureka Times-Standard:, 707-441-0500
    HSU Lumberjack:, 707-826-3271
    Humboldt Advocate:, 707-825-9400
    KHUM:, 707-786-5104
    KMUD:, 707-923-2513
    Life & Times of Southern Humboldt: 707-923-2824
    Mainstream Media Project:, 707-826-9111
    North Coast Journal:, 707-826-2000
    The Independent:, 707-923-4205

    Local Government:

    Humboldt County Board of Supervisors:

    Jimmy Smith, District 1:, (707) 476-2391
    Roger Rodoni, District 2:, (707) 476-2392
    John Woolley, District 3:, (707) 476-2393
    Bonnie Neely, District 4:, (707) 476-2394
    Jill Geist, District 5:, (707) 476-2395

    Eureka City Council:

    Peter La Vallee, Mayor:, 707-441-4172
    Mary Beth Wolford, Ward 1:, 707-441-4169
    Virginia Bass-Jackson. Ward 2:, 707-441-4168
    Jeff Leonard, Ward 3:, 707-441-4170
    Chris Kerrigan, Ward 4:, 707-441-4167
    Mike Jones, Ward 5:, 707-441-4171

    Arcata City Council:

    Michael Machi, Mayor:, 707-269-0394
    Dave Meserve:, 707-441-9846
    Paul Pitino:, 707-522-0387
    Mark Wheetley:, 707-269-0332
    Harmony Groves:, 707-522-0463

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    Monday, November 21, 2005

    McPherson Springs Bogus Diebold Hearing - TODAY!!!

    A non-partisan organization of over 25 groups across California
    coming together to achieve their mutual election integrity goals

    Saturday, November 19, 2005

    Contact: Karen 916/812-1793 or Dagmar Zakim 415/389.0250

    ATTN: DAYBOOK /Assignment Desk for Monday

    Rally, confrontation with Secretary of State over inadequate Diebold certification review process

    SACRAMENTO – The non-partisan California Election Protection Network and other like organizations – concerned about the integrity of California elections--will hold a rally Monday to protest the decision by the Secretary of State to hold a near-secret certification hearing that appears foreordained to recertify the notorious Diebold TSx DRE voting machines and associated revisions to the trade-secret software of the Diebold voting systems used in 17 California counties.

    A news conference and rally is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. MONDAY at the Secretary of State's Office (11th & O Streets).

    The hearing by the Secretary of State is set for 10 a.m. Members of the public are allotted two minutes for verbal comments.

    Demonstrators will attend the hearing and then may confront Sec. of State Bruce McPherson in his office.

    Among those expected to attend the news conference are experts in voting systems from throughout California, several candidates for Secretary of State, and talk-show host Christine Craft.

    Citizens opposing Diebold cite numerous academic, technical and investigative studies that have demonstrated known security holes that could allow undetectable vote-counting manipulation to defraud elections.

    The CEPN is also concerned because McPherson has not held a Voting Systems Panel meeting since June, and has now completely disbanded the panel – to be replaced with a hearing officer, stenographer and tape recorder. This virtually non-publicized meeting has been scheduled for Thanksgiving week, when the genral public is least likely to be aware or participate in this critical decision affecting the security and verifiability of elections.

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    Thursday, November 17, 2005

    GuvWurld Joins Call For Media Coverage of Month-Old GAO Report

    On Oct. 20 a report condemning the security of U.S. elections was issued by the non-partisan Government Accountability Office (GAO). The report was added to the GuvWurld News Archive but I did not blog about it. It is unfortunate, but I do not have time to write about everything I see as important. Instead, GuvWurld is and always has been a vehicle for advocacy journalism where I write about the things I am DOING to bring about change, and writing in order to contribute to achieving that change. And so it is a reaffirmation of this blog's mission, today, to join the call for all media to end the blackout of the GAO report.

    As is often the case lately, was the first place I saw writing about the GAO report. About 10 days later, Brad lamented the lack of coverage the report had received (giving due credit to the few links to be found). Brad tagged his column with a specific appeal to Editor and Publisher, who promptly took note of the call without doing the substantive reporting suggested. I should point out that upon release of the GAO report, a bi-partisan group of six Congressmembers issued a statement in support of its findings. It is just all the more absurd that this continues to be ignored. Today the Green Party of the United States has issued a press release calling for the GAO report to be covered.

    Now consider for a moment, what would be the impact of a media industry that routinely kept such important information from the public? Why, under such circumstances, we might be lead to war by a false threat; we could conceivably fail to investigate a deadly attack despite contradictory and scientifically impossible elements of the "official story"; and the possibility would have to exist that election conditions designed to produce inconclusive results would also produce something short of unanimous consensus about the outcome.

    Both by what is reported and not reported, the corporate media contribute greatly to defining reality. Don't miss the pattern here. The reality being defined is quite often one of inherent uncertainty. Thus, instead of investigative reporting, often we see information surface, an attack smearing the messenger, and then a report on the he said-she said without determination of the validity of the original charge. Inherent uncertainty then remains to cause public disagreement about what constitutes reality.

    In Blueprint For Peaceful Revolution I argue that this rift in the perception of reality is one example of the intentional divisiveness that has launched a Cold Civil War between the reality-based community (so-named by the administration in the NYTimes) and the faith-based community (not necessarily the religious but the unquestioning citizens who accept the official line, on faith).

    More recently in the GuvWurld blog I wrote We Are Being Set Up: The Manchurian Nation. This commentary described some of the innocent ways that many pillars of our society are indoctrinated into believing their harmful actions actually serve the greater good. That includes local law enforcement trained to regard peaceful protest as terrorist activity; schools where it is assumed student information should be available to military recruiters; elections officials placing expediency over transparency and verifiability; and media no longer interested in being watch dogs over the powerful.

    These actions reinforce the foundation of the faith-based community. To reality-based citizens it is like watching a Trojan Horse, inside duped public figures carry out their implanted missions like the movie about that Candidate. The infrastructure of the faith-based community is populated by the Manchurian Nation. No longer should we apologize for the nice folks we know who run the local paper or work at the elections office. They have to hear loud and clear: STOP SELLING US OUT. Stop right now. Today. Immediately. Cover the GAO report and stop impeding election reform.

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    Sunday, November 13, 2005

    Press Release: VCC Calls Humboldt's First Parallel Election a Success

    Voter Confidence Committee Holds First Parallel Election
    Media Contact: Dave Berman, Voter Confidence Committee; 707-845-3749

    Voter Confidence Committee Calls Humboldt’s First Parallel Election a Success
    Over 55% of Voters Participate in Citizen-Run Exit Poll at Arcata City Hall Precinct

    Friday, November 11, 2005 – On Election Day, over 55% of all voters who placed their official ballot at the Arcata City Hall precinct also chose to participate in the region’s first “Parallel Election,” staffed by the volunteers of local citizens group the Voter Confidence Committee of Humboldt County (VCC). The VCC undertook this important project to compare the results and verify the accuracy of the official vote tally performed on electronic machines with secret programming code.

    VCC co-founder Dave Berman was optimistic about results of the Parallel Election, saying, “Participation was much greater than expected.” He added, “Moving forward, voters can expect the VCC to remain vigilant about monitoring election results, and we will conduct this same experiment in the 2006 Primaries.”

    The VCC and other election reform advocates have raised serious concerns about Humboldt County’s vote counting program called GEMS, manufactured by Diebold. On the whole, this software contains trade-secret (“proprietary”) programming kept private from election officials and the public at large. While no one can explain precisely how the program works, it is known that GEMS operates on Microsoft’s Access platform that has been proven unsecure by industry experts. The citizen-run Parallel Election was conducted largely to increase awareness of this with Humboldt’s voting public.

    Election Day Experiment Determined Successful

    From 7 am to 8 pm on Election Day, VCC volunteers invited voters exiting City Hall to participate in the Parallel Election by replicating their votes on a second, secret, parallel ballot that duplicated what was on the official ballot.

    Official poll results provided by the Humboldt County Elections Department indicate 473 voters cast official ballots inside City Hall, and there were 261 people (55.2%) who participated in the VCC project. A comparison of the two sets of voting results can be found at:

    Voters Grateful for VCC’s Watchdog Role

    Throughout election day, many Parallel Election participants expressed gratitude for the VCC’s watchdog role. “Even though we were located across the street, calling out to voters as they exited the polling place,” said VCC co-founder Scott Menzies, “most voters were eager to participate and supportive of our efforts.”

    Results Not Comparable Yet Experiment Raises Important Questions

    Dr. Josh Meisel from HSU's Department of Sociology, oversaw the hand count of parallel votes conducted in the open public space of the HSU library lobby. Meisel determined that it was not possible to compare the Parallel Election results to the Official Election results. Meisel identified two critical issues with the Parallel Election: the questionable representativeness of the voters who participated and uncertainty regarding reported and actual voting behavior.

    "We don't know how those who didn't participate in the PE would have voted," Meisel cautioned. "We cannot assume that the 261 Parallel Election voters are representative of all 473 precinct voters." Meisel also raised concerns about whether the Parallel Election results accurately measure official voting behavior. "We do not know whether people voted exactly the same way in the PE as they voted in the official election," he said. Nevertheless, Meisel said the VCC's experiment made "an excellent point about the functional utility of the Parallel Election -- the questions raised about making such (voting behavior) comparisons is analogous to the uncertainty surrounding voting systems that eliminate paper trails for vote verification."

    “Despite some of the inconclusive results mentioned by Dr. Meisel, the VCC’s concerns about election conditions remain unchanged,” said Berman. “Our trial run Parallel Election is proof positive that voters are wary of electronic voting machines, and looking to ensure the verifiability of official results.”
    # # #

    Media contact:
    Dave Berman. 707-845-3749 /

    For more information on the VCC, visit or attend the group’s weekly open meetings, Mondays at 6pm, at the Liquid Café in Eureka’s Burre Center (map).

    Edited: 11/13/05 9:55pm

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    Wednesday, November 09, 2005

    Hypothetical Occupation of America

    Lots of new readers have been finding GuvWurld since I wrote We Are Being Set Up: The Manchurian Nation (many thanks to Angry Girl for the link). This is a commentary on Michel Chossudovsky's analysis of a leaked report from the Homeland Security Council.

    The report lends weight to the idea that the government is intentionally dividing Americans, largely by creating a rift in the common perception of reality. Much of this revolves around creating fear, and planning to evade or overcome something traumatic. With such great influence over corporate owned media, the government's propaganda reinforces scenarios and paradigms presented for the purposes of disaster training and emergency preparedness.
    The "scenarios" and anti-terrorist exercises develop observance and compliance by public officials, law enforcement, intelligence, military and civilian federal and State employees, etc.
    This is the breeding ground of the Manchurian Nation, inhabited by many people superficially appearing as upstanding members of the establishment while simultaneously oppressing the ideals and values for which the establishment supposedly stands.

    In trying to think like it seems the Homeland Security Council does, I found myself wondering what a sustained foreign attack on America might do. Not listed in the leaked report is a hypothetical occupation of America by a liberating force that comes to defeat fascism and free the American people. Well of course Homeland Security won't plan, or at least not publicly plan, a response to that. But what about us? Aiding and abetting the enemy is a serious thing. Many people, and I think I'd be one of them, would consider this hypothetical to contain two sets of enemies of America, each at war with the other and both likely looking to use as pawns.

    Perhaps, just maybe, this might be a place from which we could possibly come close to beginning to imagine the plight of Iraqis today. I don't suggest we ask John Kerry for his help but we might think about what it will take to develop a "smarter, tougher, more effective" insurgency to drive out the invaders and take control over own affairs.

    "We're not waiting for another attack. We can't wait for another attack to employ the full power of America in this cause. We're acting now to protect the American people and to shape a future of peace."

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    Parallel Election Wrap Up...To Be Continued

    Doing the Parallel Election today was one of the best experiences I have had working with a group or doing any kind of public service (this was NOT activism, it was public service). In Portland, at the National Summit to Save Our Elections, one of the big buzz phrases was civic engagement. The PE is like injecting civic engagement directly into your spine.

    We had a team of about 16 working in shifts from 6:30am to 11pm. There were always at least three people and sometimes as many as six calling out to the voters across the street. "Can you help us with a citizen exit poll? We're trying to double check the accuracy of the secret vote counting machines." This was the line that worked well for me.

    It took a lot of energy but that came back to me multiplied by the people so thankful for our work. We were often asked how many other polling places had the PE. And even though this was the first time and we were only doing one polling place, it was as if the idea was so obvious and easily accepted that next June we will be ready to cover at least half of Humboldt County (perhaps a fatigue induced exaggeration...or not).

    At a couple of points throughout the day we caught updates from an official poll worker. The only number was the total voters but this was what we needed to estimate our participation rate. I'm going to guess about 60% is where it will end up. Unfortunately, we don't yet have the results from the official polling place, Arcata City Hall.

    I may have botched the procedure here, missing my chance to get the totals by officially observing the closing of the official poll. If that wouldn't have given us the numbers then I was operating on a false assumption since I waited for the results to be posted outside. After a while I finally got the attention of someone inside (not clear what they were doing but they had locked themselves in City Hall) who told me the results wouldn't be posted there (are they not required to do this?). She said I should check at the police station. At the station they said they only receive ballots for temporary safekeeping and have nothing to do with the results. The elections department website hasn't been updated and going there is just out of the question.

    So without the official results for comparison, we still counted our paper parallel ballots, by hand, in the open public lobby of the Humboldt State University library. One of the professors helped us count and will lead the comparative data analysis. I'll be getting back in touch with him mid morning tomorrow after I get the official vote totals.

    Meanwhile, I have gotten a taste for carrying out something I wrote about in Blueprint For Peaceful Revolution. Not just PE, we need to be creating parallel institutions of all sorts. We need to get out from behind the keyboard more often and put our energy into collaborations and coalitions that allow us to supplant ALL that is wrong with the unstoppable will of We The People. Spectemur agendo.

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    Monday, November 07, 2005

    World Can't Wait (Re-Cap)

    This past Wednesday was the first anniversary of the last presidential "election." Over 180 protests occurred around the U.S., affiliated under the notion that the World Can't Wait another three years for regime change in America.

    I started my day early, arriving at Humboldt State University around 8am. I was in a small but gradually increasing circle of people passing around a microphone and hand-held amp. I spoke for perhaps three minutes, concluding with a plug for Tuesday's parallel election.

    Arcata City Councilmember Dave Meserve gave an excellent speech, one I've been wanting to give for a while myself. Taking a page straight out of the Blueprint For Peaceful Revolution, Meserve said he had come across a list that morning, a list that reminded him a lot of America. He then proceeded to mention each item on the list followed by a few current examples of each. Naturally, Meserve's list was the 14 characteristics of fascism identified by Laurence W. Britt based on studying the commonalities of seven fascist regimes throughout history.

    I cut away from the protest for about an hour and then rejoined around 11:15am at the Federal building (post office) at 5th/H in Eureka. Peaceful demonstrators occupied all four corners of the intersection. Police presence was heavy and noticeable to all. We were being watched very closely, even photographed and video taped. At one point I observed a cop in riot gear standing outside the post office. I learned later that the entire post office lobby was full of such intimidating figures standing by for their excuse to attack.

    Fortunately, our dissent at the post office that day fit within the narrow band of acceptability and the harassment we endured was limited to jaywalking citations. If all of this sounds hum-drum, perhaps it is the result of another demonstration organized without a plan or goal to produce tangible change.
    "1-2-3, what are we fighting for? Well I don't give a damn, the next stop is the County Slam."
    The big news of the day occurred as 37 people rode bicycles in a critical mass from HSU to Eureka. I wasn't at the post office for long before I started hearing about a road block that had been set up and several students who had been taken down. The police allegedly got pretty physical with some of the students who were then taken to jail. The Eureka Times-Standard covered the story here and here. The Eureka Reporter also had coverage here and here.

    I've seen some pictures, and I've heard that video exists. Nobody should be surprised if this becomes another in a series of multi-year Humboldt lawsuits between law enforcement and peaceful demonstrators. For insight into how the police can villainize unarmed bicycle riding college coeds en route to a peace rally, read We Are Being Set Up: The Manchurian Nation. That is my commentary on Michel Chossudovsky's analysis of a leaked report from the Homeland Security Council. This supports and expands upon the description of the faith-based community as depicted in the Blueprint For Peaceful Revolution.

    Likewise, see this Media Matters column from Friday which provides a long list of newspaper quotes citing falling and "new low" poll numbers for Mr. Bush, interspersed with quotes from TV news repeatedly citing Bush's improvement and "rebound." See it for what it is: obvious contradictions that create inherent uncertainty and are intentionally divisive along the fault line that is the rift in the perception of reality between the faith-based and reality-based communities. This is what fuels the Cold Civil War.

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    Thursday, November 03, 2005

    KHUM Radio Interview re Parallel Election


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    Wednesday, November 02, 2005

    Parallel Poll Worker Training Session, Fri 5:30pm

    The Voter Confidence Committee will be conducting a Parallel Election training session this Friday, 11/4, at 5:30pm at the Liquid Cafe in Eureka's Burre Center (map).

    Volunteers will be trained for conducting the Parallel Election next Tuesday, 11/8, when Californians also vote in the special election. Volunteering means serving as a parallel poll worker, encouraging voters to cast a second, secret, parallel ballot that goes in the parallel ballot box until we count the votes by hand, in public, after the polls close.

    The parallel election is a way to double-check the accuracy of the official votes counted on trade-secret Diebold software. Please see this press release for more details.

    Also listen for my interview with Mike Dronkers on KHUM, Thursday at 1pm. If you're outside of Humboldt tune in at

    If you are in Humboldt, and you missed it on Monday, I'll be on TV again Thursday night for Seeking Solutions with Eileen McGee. That's ch. 12 @ 6pm, though I come on at about 6:45. I've got this on DVD and will make it available online soon.

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    Tuesday, November 01, 2005

    Press Release: Voter Confidence Committee To Conduct Parallel Election on Nov. 8

    Media Contact:
    Dave Berman, Voter Confidence Committee

    Nov. 1, 2005

    Local Citizens'’ Group To Monitor Special Election

    The Voter Confidence Committee of Humboldt County (VCC) will be conducting a "“Parallel Election"” on November 8th to help verify the tally of official votes cast on electronic voting machines containing trade-secret ("proprietary"”) software that is kept hidden from election officials and the public at large.

    "Voters in some precincts may be asked to cast a second unofficial vote outside their official voting places immediately after casting their vote on Diebold election machines,"” explained VCC principal Dave Berman. "“This will allow for statistical comparisons between the second set of vote totals and the official count."

    Diebold has been under heavy scrutiny for alleged employment of felons, internal memos discussing programming loopholes, partisan fundraising activities of executives and dozens of examples of vote tally discrepancies. On July 29, 2005, California refused to certify Diebold's TSx machines. Humboldt County elections use Diebold'’s Accu-Vote machines and GEMS software.

    Although California did pass a law requiring a verified paper trail for all electronic voting machines, it will not go into effect until 2006. According to an October 28, 2005 press release at, voters in nine California counties will vote on paperless electronic voting machines in the Nov. 8th Special Election. Such conditions ensure an inconclusive outcome by eliminating the ability to recount ballots to verify that they are counted as voters intended.

    The VCC has become part of a rapidly developing network of election reform and watchdog groups through the U.S. In the past six months, Parallel Elections have been held in Florida, Ohio and San Diego, CA.

    "We'’ve been making some amazing contacts and the cooperation has been great," Berman said. "You can learn everything you need to know about how to run a Parallel Election by visiting"

    The VCC is looking for volunteers to enable the Parallel Election to cover more polling places (contact Dave Berman at 707-845-3749 or Selected poll sites will be announced on Election Day. After the polls close, Parallel ballots will be counted by hand, in public, at a location also announced on Election Day. Participation rates in recent Parallel Elections have exceeded 50%. Voter participation is voluntary.

    # # #

    Media contact:
    Dave Berman

    For more information on the VCC, visit or attend the group'’s weekly open meetings, Mondays at 6pm, at the Liquid Cafe in Eureka'’s Burre Center.

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