Wednesday, November 09, 2005

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.



Good work on the PE in Calif. I suspect that before the next elections we are going to hear a lot of dissing of exit polls from the Repugs, so that they can get us to ignore them again. It likely will come down to citizens running PEs to expose their continuing theft of democracy. Keep up the good work, and share it with us all.

Portland, OR

By Anonymous Jim Oberg, at 12:54 PM  

Thanks Jim, I really appreciate the encouragement. I think you're right about us exposing them. But consider if what we're really showing is their continuing theft, or as the saying goes, "what democracy looks like." Of course it is both although the more positive one will likely help us more in our effort to put a little unity back in community. If I can share anything with you, I hope it is about the supreme and ultimate importance of We The People rejecting the intentional divisiveness of the government in favor of joining forces to "alter or abolish" that government.

By Blogger Dave Berman, at 12:58 PM  

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