Tuesday, March 28, 2006

GuvWurld Book Launch Off To Good Start

We Do Not Consent was downloaded 637 times in the first 14 hours. Earlier today, Democratic Underground posted the press release on their home page.

Update 1, 3/29 6:22am PT:

I am astounded. In the first 38 hours, We Do Not Consent was downloaded 12,090 times.

Click screen shot to enlarge.

Donations are up to $40, 8% of our goal. Please see the PayPal donation button in the top left of the page if you can contribute to the printing cost of putting hard copies of the book in the hands of some of America's most progressive media. Thank you for your support.

Identify the least you can do...and commit to doing at least that much.

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Monday, March 27, 2006

PRESS RELEASE: GuvWurld Author Publishes "We Do Not Consent," An Online Book


Dave Berman issues "We Do Not Consent," a compilation of essays from the GuvWurld blog


March 27, 2006—Just one week shy of the GuvWurld Blog's second anniversary, author Dave Berman has compiled 20 essential essays into an online book called "We Do Not Consent" (.pdf). The material highlights Berman's style of advocacy journalism, reporting on his own work for social change in a way that furthers those efforts. Berman puts himself above charges of bias by openly stating his progressive goals and promoting this approach as a key to successful community organizing.

Berman observes the obsolescence of mainstream journalistic neutrality, citing debunked threats of WMD, withheld reporting on unconstitutional surveillance, the unresolved contradictions and scientific impossibilities of 9/11, and thousands of uninvestigated electronic voting glitches.

"What the newspapers and network news don't tell us is enough to manipulate the common perception of reality," Berman explains. "Shaping perceptions this way is intentional, yet subliminal. I'm also trying to shape your view of reality but I'm telling you this up front and showing you the difference between what the media report and what you can directly observe for yourself. I'm asking you to be ruthlessly honest – with yourself."



In a January 2006 cover story on Humboldt County blogs, the North Coast Journal recognized GuvWurld for "gaining some stature in the larger blogosphere." This notoriety stems primarily from the Voter Confidence Resolution (VCR), a statement challenging the legitimacy of the U.S. government's claim to power after elections that did not seek the Consent of the Governed. Such Consent, according to the Declaration of Independence, is the source from which government's "just Power" is derived. The book's title, "We Do Not Consent" is a clarion call to peaceful revolution and served as the theme of a recent community forum in Eureka.

Last July, the City Council of Arcata, CA became the first to adopt the VCR. More recently, Palo Alto's Human Relations Commission and several Progressive Democratic caucuses in WA have also endorsed the VCR. Berman cites this as the GuvWurld Blog's most successful example of advocacy journalism.


This work has brought Berman into contact with other thinkers on elections and election law. Paul Lehto is an attorney in Everett, WA. He sued election machine maker Sequoia, and eight months later their machines were removed from use in Snohomish County, WA. Lehto wrote the Foreword to "We Do Not Consent."

According to Lehto, "Berman, writing under the GuvWurld name, is spearheading one of the most incisive arguments to make against the secret vote counting that always occurs with electronic voting. Namely, whenever secret vote counting is used, there is no rational basis for confidence in the reported election results. This is so because nobody saw the count, nobody can verify it, and nobody can independently repeat it. Such conditions violate all of the basic principles of science necessary to have a basis for confidence in the reported election results. That's no way to run a system of elections if you're serious about defending democracy."


Berman's writing and quotes often appear in Humboldt County media and he keeps an active speaking schedule. Upcoming appearances include the Demand Your Democracy Forum on April 11, 7pm, at HSU Founders Hall Room 118; and KHSU radio "Thursday Night Talk" with Rob Ammerman on April 13 at 7:30pm.

Berman is also a founding member of the Voter Confidence Committee (VCC) of Humboldt County, an election integrity watchdog group. Supported by GuvWurld promotion, the VCC conducted the county’s first parallel election last November and continues to lead the resistance to the use of Diebold and any other election machines containing "proprietary" programming.


"We Do Not Consent" is available at no charge, without copyright restrictions, at http://tinyurl.com/rlnr2. The book is an easy to navigate Adobe PDF file with cross-referenced pages and numerous, comprehensive hyper links to online resources for readers.

Eureka-based Agreda Communications worked with Berman to publish the book in both PDF and printed, bound versions available at discounted costs. For a printed version, please contact the author.


Dave Berman, author, "We Do Not Consent"
Tel: (707) 845-3749
http://tinyurl.com/rlnr2 ("We Do Not Consent")
http://guvwurld.blogspot.com (GuvWurld blog main page)
http://tinyurl.com/amryg (Voter Confidence Resolution)


Note to blog readers: We are only planning to print a very limited number of hard copies which will be sent to progressive media such as Thom Hartmann and Randi Rhodes. First, if you can assist in getting the book to someone like that, please contact me (see above). If you want to suggest someone who should get a book but you don't know how to get it to them, please leave a comment using the link below. And finally, if you believe in the idea of voting with your dollars and can help offset the cost of this printing, please click the PayPal donation button at the top left of the page.

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Thursday, March 23, 2006

Coming Monday 3/27: We Do Not Consent, a GuvWurld e-Book

Coming this Monday, March 27, GuvWurld presents We Do Not Consent, an e-book comprised of essential GuvWurld blog posts, a Foreword by attorney Paul Lehto, and two new bits, an intro and epilogue that I've written to bookend the set within the context of advocacy journalism.

I won't give away the full chapter list but you can be sure that the Voter Confidence Resolution (VCR) is amply represented. At this time, I'd like to invite readers to take a look at the VCR with new eyes. Isn't it obvious now, to conclude that our election conditions ensure inconclusive results that will not be unanimously accepted? Can you even conjure an argument that might be used to explain maintaining confidence in election results, other than with blind trust? Isn't it time we say We Do Not Consent?

At the bottom of the resolution is a link for comments. Remember, the VCR is a template, meant to be adapted in each community that adopts it. If you can get behind the general ideas, please add your name and town as an endorsement, and consider asking your City Council to adopt it. All endorsements posted by 4pm on Friday 3/24 will be included in the book.

We Do Not Consent will be a free download and the link will be posted Monday 3/27. Meanwhile, we want to put hard copies in the hands of Thom Hartmann, Randi Rhodes, and other progressive media. If you think these ideas need more attention, please help offset the cost of printing with a small donation. See the PayPal donation button at the top left of the page. We are only collecting a total of $500 and then the fundraising will stop. Support The Truth!


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Wednesday, March 22, 2006

VoterAction.org Sues CA Sec. of State, Humboldt Registrar, Others

Tuesday was a landmark day for the election integrity movement. Attorney Lowell Finley and VoterAction.org filed a lawsuit in San Francisco naming as defendants CA Secretary of State Bruce McPherson, Humboldt Registrar of Voters Carolyn Crnich, and 17 other CA registrars. The case alleges that McPherson did not follow proper procedures in certifying Diebold voting machines for use in CA; that Diebold's equipment is not compliant with the law; and that voters' constitutional rights are being violated. GuvWurld readers will recognize some of these points as familiar.

The case was filed Tuesday morning though word had started to leak out Monday afternoon via BradBlog.com. See Brad's Tuesday coverage for more details, where he links to the actual court filing (.pdf) and posts an excellent response from Debra Bowen, State Senator from Redondo Beach and challenger to McPherson for the Secretary's office. GuvWurld correspondent Dan Ashby, speaking on behalf of the California Election Protection Network, also gave a great interview (.mp3) Tuesday morning to Will Durst and former SF Mayor Willie Brown on their Will and Willie radio show for Air America.

Around this same time, I was at the Humboldt County Courthouse for the Board of Supervisors meeting at which we knew that Crnich would be presenting a proposal for the county to buy Vote-PAD rather than Diebold touch screen machines in order to satisfy the disability requirements of the Help America Vote Act (HAVA). I did not learn until later in the day that Crnich was named as a defendant in the lawsuit.

Crnich's proposal did not seem to arouse any enthusiasm from the Board though it received a modicum of acceptance. She was told that they would need more specific financials in order to give final approval and so the item was rescheduled for next Tuesday's agenda. Board Chairman John Woolley did at least two unfortunate things in this process. First, he did not call for public comment immediately and in direct response to Crnich's proposal. Instead, he allowed a motion to be made, seconded and discussed by the Board before calling for public comment.

As the first speaker, I noted the rarity of my agreement with the elections department and stated my support for Vote-PAD as a partial solution that eliminates half of our problem by removing the prospect of buying Diebold touch screen machines. The other half of the problem, I began to explain, is how the Vote-PAD votes would be counted, using the optical scanners, just like all other votes. The optical scanners, I pointed out, have interpreted code that is illegal.

Before I could mention the lawsuit, which I had in front of me on a brief list of talking points, Chairman Woolley did the second unfortunate thing. He cut me off and said this was beyond the matter at hand which was the motion to bring the matter back next week for funding approval. I somewhat meekly said that you can't consider a voting system without taking into consideration how the votes are counted. But somehow I did not stand my ground and continue my testimony. The "woulda, coulda, shoulda" thought I had only a few minutes later was that I had missed a great chance to use another item from my notes:
"The people who cast the votes decide nothing. The people who count the votes decide everything" - Joseph Stalin
I do wonder now whether Crnich and/or Chairman Woolley were already aware of Crnich's status as defendant in the VoterAction lawsuit. When I arrived at the meeting, Crnich was rather cold to me but this did not surprise me since she had told me late last week that I had offended her here on the pages of GuvWurld by suggesting the possibility that she might not be honest with the public about the Diebold training she was attending. It is hardly impossible to imagine such behavior when the track record shows repeated defenses of illegal election machines and irresponsible denial of the problems these machines pose.

Frankly, it is getting tiresome to have people in the community defend the elections department entirely on the basis of personal relationships, or on the mistaken impression that personnel is really trying to address core issues. Citizens need to educate themselves, and I am doing my part to assist, in order to understand that the supposedly upstanding, reputable and popular community members responsible for administering our Democracy are in fact lying repeatedly and standing in the way of transparency, security, and verifiable accuracy.

The media, for their part, are uneven about all this. I certainly won't complain about how often I get on the radio or quoted in newspaper articles. But we've heard repeated calls (.pdf) for investigation regarding Diebold's installation of uncertified software two years ago, and while the press will report the call for investigation, there does not seem to be the will to do real investigative journalism. Heck, Tuesday's Eureka Times-Standard (archive) sets the bar even lower.
Dave Berman, a founder of the Voter Confidence Committee, claims the Diebold machines are illegal.

"Polite and passionate speakers are greatly needed to escalate the resistance to the illegal Diebold machines that count our votes in secret and are unreliable," said Berman.

County Elections Officer Lindsey McWilliams has said that the county's Diebold machines are legal and certified by the California secretary of state.
I don't know why this article has no byline other than The Times-Standard, but that is beside the point. The conflicting statements are a matter of verifiable fact that the newspaper simply doesn't bother to research, even though the Secretary of State's own report (.pdf) reveals all. Instead, McWilliams is permitted to flatly lie and go unchallenged and uncorrected. Too bad his name isn't included in the VoterAction lawsuit.

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Monday, March 20, 2006

KHUM Interview re: Humboldt Election Conditions

Less than an hour ago I was on KHUM doing an interview with Mike Dronkers. He has had me on several times before so we should all be very grateful for his role in getting the election integrity message out there. Plus he always hooks me up with a recording to archive. Listen to an .mp3 of today's interview here:


And if you don't take a few minutes to listen, at least consider this your reminder that the Humboldt County Supervisors will be discussing election conditions tomorrow, Tuesday March 21. Please come to the County Courthouse, 825 5th St. in Eureka at 9am and help us stand up for hand counted paper ballots, our only way to create a basis for confidence in the results of elections, even the local ones.


Before I could publish this post, KMUD called for an interview. This will air in tonight's 6pm news and again Tuesday morning at 8am.

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Sunday, March 19, 2006

Washington State Progressive Dem Caucuses Adopt Voter Confidence Resolution

Periodically I Google phrases like Voter Confidence Resolution (VCR) and GuvWurld to find out who is writing about and linking here. Yesterday I found the VCR at the Progressive Action Alliance, a TX based group that I think Pokey Anderson belongs to. I appeared on her KPFT radio show on News Year's Day (.mp3). I also discovered this version (.pdf) of the VCR on the site of the Washington State Democratic Progressive Caucus. I was a little confused about what they had done so I e-mailed their contact person, Nancy Ging. She has granted permission to post her reply:
Thanks for contacting me. I'm Chair of the 2nd Congressional District Progressive Caucus (WA state), and it was our web site where you saw the VCR. I believe I picked it up from a statewide voting rights organization's web site, but can't find which one it was at the moment. :(

We had our precinct caucuses on March 4, and the resolution was passed in several precincts around the state. It will now be part of the proposed platform for several county conventions to be held on April 8.

From there, it will go to the state platform committee for a vote by the state convention delegates. At our 2nd CD meeting today, we passed a motion to write a resolution requiring all incumbents and candidates to guarantee to support and work for the points in the resolution in order to be considered for endorsement by the local and state Democratic Party organizations. That would be big, but we are ready to fight hard for it.
As we exchanged a few messages, I've emphasized that the VCR is a "think global, act local" strategy for laying a path to a tipping point (see the Guide to the VCR). The WA version linked above omits the final line from the VCR template, adopted by Arcata, CA (.pdf), which says:
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.
As I told Nancy, I like the additions her group created to customize the VCR and I hope they would restore this line to facilitate our collective pursuit of a tipping point. She agreed, and clarified with the following message:
Our group didn't consider the resolution ourselves. We just made it available on our web site so members of our group (and others) could take the resolution to our various precinct caucuses, held on March 4. Several precincts in several counties passed the resolution, but I don't know exactly how many yet. That will get the resolution points into our county platforms, and then we'll take it on to the state platform committee. I'm a member of that, too, so will keep an eye on it there to make sure it gets introduced to the state convention. Will let you know how it goes as we move it along in the process.
So a strong show of support but still a little uncertain about how to reflect it in writing. This is the beginning of a new wave of big things for the VCR. More details later this week...

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Saturday, March 18, 2006

Humboldt Registrar To Recommend Vote-PAD, Forego Diebold Purchase

Late Friday afternoon, Humboldt County Recorder, County Clerk & Registrar of Voters Carolyn Crnich circulated a document intended to be presented to the County Supervisors next Tuesday. The document (.pdf), also posted to the County website in the Supervisors' meeting agenda, is titled "Progress Report of the Humboldt County Elections Advisory Committee March 21, 2006." It concludes with two recommendations:
That the Board of Supervisors approve the purchase of the VotePad system for use in each polling place by disabled voters; That the Board of Supervisors approve the transfer of $213,980 (base price $199,515 plus sales tax) from reserve for contingencies to department 140 for the purchase of the VotePad system. These funds may be reimbursed by HAVA funds as they are directly related to the accessibility issues addressed by HAVA.

Additionally, I would recommend that the department be directed to negotiate with Vote Here regarding the implementation of their "Mail-In Ballot Tracker"” system as a pilot project for the tracking of Absentee ballots from the verification that the correct ballot was mailed to the voter to it'’s [sic] receipt back in the Elections Department, verification of absentee voter'’s signature and the final status of the ballot (was it counted or rejected and if rejected, for what reason). The cost of funding this project is approximately $20,000 but may be less considering the status as a "pilot project"”. If it is the decision of the committee that this system should be implemented, I will return to you with more a more detailed proposal from the vendor. This product has yet to be discussed by the Elections Advisory Committee.
As I wrote following the recent Vote-PAD demo, it is a huge relief for Humboldt to abandon its interest (.pdf) in purchasing Diebold touch screen machines.

The Voter Confidence Committee has circulated PSAs, press releases, and subscriber e-mail to promote attendance and participation at Tuesday's meeting. I am scheduled for a radio interview with Mike Dronkers on KHUM at 11am Monday. Even though this is good news, there is a lot more that needs to be addressed regarding local election conditions and the public needs to use this opportunity to be heard.

The primary objection is that our votes are recorded by optical scanners that use illegal interpreter code. There is no basis for confidence in the results reported once the data has been converted into the non-human readable, proprietary AccuBasic programming language of Diebold (or any other vendor). The scanners will review all votes, including those cast on Vote-PAD. Sad but true, while Vote-PAD is far superior to touch screen machines, the method of counting renders it a false alternative.

Let us also not forget the known problems with the GEMS central tabulator software, also made by Diebold, and used to aggregate the numbers from various polling places. See for yourself in Votergate, the movie.

So for Tuesday's meeting, we've dodged the need to deal with Diebold on one front but not another. Our opportunity will be to bring the Supervisors into a discussion about how the votes are counted, ideally by hand in public with witnesses. Given the issue with the interpreter code, it is also worth asking why the elections department is so determined to comply with the disability requirements of HAVA while ignoring the fact that the scanners do not comply (.doc) with state or federal law.

Crnich indicates she intends to present a second recommendation on Tuesday, calling for funding a pilot project for tracking absentee ballots. She notes that Vote Here has not yet been discussed by the Election Advisory Committee and indeed it is new to me. Given the late hour and the peace march in the morning, I will have to leave that a topic for a future GuvWurld blog post.

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Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Election News, Meetings and Events From The Voter Confidence Committee

In this Voter Confidence Committee Newsletter:

1. Peace March 3/18
2. VCC planning meeting 3/20
3. Humboldt County Supervisors meeting 3/21
4. Demand Your Democracy Forum 4/11
5. Links and suggested reading


1. This Saturday, March 18 is the Peace March in Eureka. Gather at the
Eureka Municipal Auditorium on F St at 11:30. The end point of the march is
the Old Town Gazebo. The VCC will be tabling at both ends of the rally.
Please stop by and grab some leaflets to hand out for the Demand Your
Democracy Forum (more on that below).

2. Monday night, March 20 is the next VCC meeting at 1445 Fernwood in
McKinleyville. All are welcome. We will review planning for the DYD Forum
but mostly focus on preparation for the Supervisors' meeting the following

3. Tuesday, March 21 is the next meeting of the Humboldt County Board of
Supervisors. The agenda has not yet been published but we expect election
conditions to be discussed (another VCC newsletter will confirm on Monday).
Polite and passionate speakers are greatly needed to escalate the resistance
to the illegal Diebold machines that count our votes in secret.

Specifically, the VCC advocates the following: no purchase of new Diebold
touch screen machines, instead using Vote-PAD to satisfy legal requirements
for disabled voters; AND, no more use of Humboldt's currently owned Diebold
machines because they count our votes in secret and they are not compliant
with state and federal law. Instead, the VCC advocates hand-counted paper
ballots for the June 6 primary. For specific background details refer to
the links below.

4. Save the date, Tuesday April 11 and join the VCC at 7pm for the first
Demand Your Democracy Forum at HSU Founders Hall Rm. 118. Local NAACP
leaders will discuss the historic struggle for the franchise. 2004 Green
Party Presidential Candidate David Cobb will talk about the Ohio recount.
And VCC co-founder Dave Berman will give an update on the Diebold situation
and the next action steps to address Humboldt election conditions. Fliers
and posters for this event will be available at Saturday's peace rally.
These documents are also available at the links shown below. Please
download and distribute.

5. Links and suggested reading

Demand Your Democracy Forum leaflets (6 to a page)
http://tinyurl.com/mafw9 (.pdf)

Demand Your Democracy Forum poster (8.5 x 11, b&w)
http://tinyurl.com/oa4f3 (.pdf)

Demand Your Democracy Forum poster (8.5 x 11, color)
http://tinyurl.com/qwblu (.pdf)

Humboldt Advocate: Interview with Dave Berman on Diebold
http://tinyurl.com/otasd (.pdf)

GuvWurld Blog: Vote-PAD Demo Well Received in Humboldt

Note that the VCC website is being revamped. Most of the old content can be
found on the VCC History page. Please let us know if your webmaster skills
can help keep the site current.

The Voter Confidence Committee

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Thursday, March 09, 2006

Recommended Reading

3/3/06 - BradBlog.com: Florida Issues 'Technical Advisory' for 'Security Enhancements' on 'All Voting Systems' in State!

3/3/06 - Moscow Times: With Diebold, The Fix Is In

3/5/06 - Columbus Dispatch: Voting machine support costly

3/6/06 - Washington Post: Touch-Screen Voting Fallible, Says MD Governor Ehrlich

3/7/06 - Miami Herald: Election official hammered for telling the truth

3/7/06 - UPI: Alameda County, CA Goes Back to Paper Ballots


3/8/06 - VoteTrustUSA: San Francisco Stays All Paper

And remember, the GuvWurld News Archive has over 4300 articles from the past several years, a growing record of stories the U.S. government would probably prefer history not record at the start of the 21st century.

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Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Humboldt Supervisors Hearing on Elections Delayed One Week

This morning I posted that the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors would be including an item about election conditions on their 3/14 agenda. This claim was based on public statements made by Supervisor John Woolley, at the 2/28 Supervisors meeting, and also Clerk/Recorder Carolyn Crnich, speaking at the 3/2 Election Advisory Committee meeting. I have since learned from Lora Canzoneri, Clerk of the Board, that the topic is being pushed back to the 3/21 meeting of the Supes because Crnich is going to be out of town.

Indeed, I confirmed these travel plans with Crnich herself who told me that she is going to be attending a three day training conducted by Diebold. This will occur in Rocklin, in Placer County, next Monday through Wednesday. Crnich informed me that the training will pertain to Diebold OS machines and the GEMS central tabulator software. The importance of her attendance is underscored, she said, because currently only two Humboldt employees have had the training and one is retiring soon.

When I asked Crnich if she could raise concerns at this gathering on behalf of citizens such as myself, who think we shouldn't be using voting equipment that is plainly illegal, she likened the issue to jaywalking, another technically illegal act that people "just do." Lawlessness ain't just for unelected presidents anymore, don't ya know.

Meanwhile, Vote-PAD has yet to deliver its proposal to Humboldt County. Depending on the timing, this may or may not represent a potential reprieve from the County's original intent (.pdf) to buy Diebold TSx touch screen machines in order to comply with the disabled voter requirements of the Help America Vote Act (HAVA). If the proposal arrives in time, the 3/21 Supes meeting could still focus, as a best case scenario, on approving this non-electronic alternative voting method for handicapped people to vote privately and independently.

This would be a great victory that would leave us then only to combat the continued use of Humboldt's existing Diebold OS optical scan machines. On the other hand, let's acknowledge the possibility that Crnich will come back from Rocklin with a contract for touch screen machines. When you oversee bogus elections, the possibility of lying to the public isn't too much of a stretch.

At any rate, planning for a legal challenge and the hand-counted paper ballots proposal continue to move forward as a comprehensive response. I am still urging all able voices to attend and speak out before the Supes, only plan for 3/21 and not 3/14 as I previously wrote.

Finally, if you typically read the GuvWurld blog in your e-mail, please consider making extra visits to the actual blog site starting later tonight. There are many important stories breaking today and I will likely be posting links that won't be sent around to your e-mail. There is also an enormous resource available in the GuvWurld News Archive.

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Excellent Media Coverage, Important Upcoming Events

Elaine Weinreb at the Humboldt Advocate interviewed me about a week and a half ago. The result is a cover story that is just fantastic. The Advocate doesn't publish online so either find the free weekly at Humboldt newsstands or see the scanned version (.pdf) uploaded to the GuvWurld News Archive.

As far as I know, Tuesday's Eureka Reporter contained the first coverage of the recent Vets For Peace open letter and press release on election conditions. Rebecca S. Bender wrote this article. She is new to the Reporter after spending over three years at the Arcata Eye. Bender has taken over Shane Mizer's beat and apparently Mizer has left the Reporter. He had been doing diligent work there and I hope he pops up at one of the many other Humboldt media outlets.

One thing these two articles have in common is a call for investigation of exactly how Diebold installed uncertified software (.pdf) in our voting machines (and machines in 16 other counties). These articles are totally welcome but they beg the question: when will the media go beyond reporting the demand for investigation and actually conduct an investigation? Please consider that a call to action targeting the media.

Personally, I found that the Humboldt Grand Jury was responsive to my complaint, but District Attorney Paul Gallegos has not returned several messages I have left him as follow-ups to a letter I sent him via certified mail a month ago. I don't have the resources to do a full-scale investigation so again I ask for public pressure to be increased. If you are in one of Diebold's other CA client counties, you can take these same steps where you live. This is the premise of the CA Unity Campaign.

Some upcoming events offer even more opportunities to join the fight for election integrity. This Friday at noon I will be speaking to the HSU Student Voting Committee at Nelson Hall East 116. I believe everyone is welcome. My intention is to discuss two things that GuvWurld readers should know about too. Both are developing so I'll update you later in the week.
  • Tuesday, March 14 @ Humboldt County Courthouse (825 5th St., Eureka)

    The Humboldt County Board of Supervisors will be discussing election conditions. The agenda has not been posted yet so I don't know the exact parameters of their discussion. It seems likely, and this is a very optimistic and encouraging projection I'm offering, that last week's demonstration of Vote-PAD may lead to abandonment of the intent to purchase (.pdf) Diebold TSx touch screen machines. At least this is what we should lobby for. We need a big crowd of speakers. The published agenda will provide better insight on the time of day when this is likely to be addressed.

  • Tuesday, April 11, 7pm @ HSU Founders Hall Rm. 118

    Save the date for the Demand Your Democracy Forum. The Voter Confidence Committee in conjunction with other community groups will be presenting several speakers and more action opportunities. More details coming very soon. We'll have fliers for this event ready to pass out at the Supes meeting next Tuesday.
  • One last note, also excellent media exposure, though not about elections. In response to this Eureka Reporter article from Saturday, the paper published this letter to the editor on Monday:
    Dear Editor,

    RE: Area residents question what Bush knew about hurricane, 3/4/2006.

    During and immediately after Katrina, as we all watched in horror and disgust, there was a very clear and strong sense that we have to protect ourselves from our government. They had not only failed us, they repeatedly took proactive steps to prevent recovery and assistance from reaching those in need. For many of us, this was only a reminder of what we already knew. For others, it was a wake up call.

    Katrina, as a unique weather phenomenon, was hardly the first sign that we need to protect ourselves from our government. We should know this from the way global warming and peak oil are ignored. From the threat of jail without charges or access to an attorney. Because peace organizations are infiltrated and spied upon, and protests are forced into "free speech zones."” In the name of the U.S., torture is conducted at secret prisons. Warrantless wiretapping. 9/11.

    If we are supposed to fear terrorism, let us clearly identify it. Those who hate our freedoms are those who sign legislation to restrict or cancel them. Those who inflict terror are those who have repeatedly ignored warnings before failing to protect us. The recently released videotape did not "allegedly"” show Bush was warned. It showed Bush being warned and gave lie to his absurd claim that no one could have imagined the levees failing. Just like no one could have imagined planes flying into buildings while training exercises were being conducted on that exact scenario.

    Fascism is a formula, a recognizable pattern that gradually engulfs a society. It is so blatant that it can'’t be seen only when the media distorts reality by maintaining illusions of normalcy and by perpetuating the myths of democracy, capitalism, free speech, free markets and free press.

    We do not consent. Support the truth.

    Dave Berman

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    Sunday, March 05, 2006

    Vote-PAD Demo Well Received in Humboldt

    The Humboldt County Election Advisory Committee (EAC) received a presentation Thursday night from Dianna Smith of Vote-PAD, the assistive device designed to allow handicapped voters to vote privately and independently.

    The "device" is about as low-tech as possible, taking the form of a spiral bound folder into which a paper ballot is inserted. Inside the folder is also a clear plastic sheath with holes that line up over the places on the ballot where the voter can mark his or her choices. The holes aid the voter in keeping the tip of the pen within the ballot's designated marking area while the sheath protects the rest of the ballot from stray marks.

    Other features include braille dots, rubber-tipped page-turning clamps for dexterity impaired voters, a magnifier, and an audio tape that can be rewound, forwarded and played at variable speeds. Vote-PAD also allows voters to verify their vote choices through the use of a vibrating verification wand that can detect whether or not a bubble on the ballot has been selected. Smith noted a compelling anecdote of a deaf and blind MN voter who successfully tested Vote-PAD.

    In addition to the clear plastic sheath, a removable opaque "privacy shield" page is also enclosed in the folder to enable removal of the ballot and insertion in either a ballot box or optical scanner without having to expose the voter's choices. One of the big selling points of Vote-PAD is that it is compatible with any voting system a county might use and appears also to be HAVA compliant. The Vote-PAD device can also be customized by the manufacturer to conform to any ballot size.

    Vote-PAD is a privately owned and privately funded corporation based in Washington state. It is estimated that Humboldt County could spend $160,000 for 80 kits, each including 20 folders and all the accessories. These supplies should last for several years with virtually no maintenance costs and only nominal replacement fees.

    Judging by the way County Clerk/Recorder Carolyn Crnich and Elections Manager Lindsey McWilliams were assisting Smith in answering questions, it certainly seemed Humboldt's top two election officials are supportive of Vote-PAD. If so, this ought to mean a change of plans from their previously stated intention (.pdf) to purchase about 110 Diebold TSx DRE machines. I don't think we can count on this for sure just yet, but I understand this subject will be taken up by the Board of Supervisors on March 14.

    Meanwhile, the issue of Diebold's conditional certification was mentioned only briefly at this EAC meeting. I opted not to interject my concerns as they were already known to those present and could only have led to a futile argument in that moment. The EAC meets on the first Thursday of each month and is open to the public. My understanding is that next month's meeting will deal in more depth with Diebold and voting security issues in general.

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    Thursday, March 02, 2006

    Election Integrity Advocates Swarm Sacramento

    Election integrity advocates descended upon Sacramento on Wednesday to attend the public hearing on all the other election machine vendors besides Diebold. GuvWurld correspondent Dan Ashby filed this report.
    Hi all,

    I got home about 8:30. Glad to see you were able to catch some of the TV news. We had fewer TV cameras this time than last, but I think we actually received much more air time.

    Great sign, Jackie, and a reminder of the power of graphic display. I think that your sign filling the screen for 5 seconds with that message probably achieved more media impact than any other single thing we did.

    Here's what else I can tell you about the day:
    The crowd started out small, perhaps 30 people, but with some good signage; and we had a literature and sales table with several informational placards on the stolen 2004 election.

    Early on, Kevin Yamamura of the Sacramento Bee interviewed me. Then I was simultaneously interviewed by two radio stations and one TV station. I think the TV may have been Channel 2, and one of the radio stations I think was an ABC affiliate.

    I didn't have time to get their cards, because the next immediate thing was to pull together the group for a press conference. We had about 50 people at that point, and formed into a tight group to fill the camera, with signs in the back.

    Alan Dechert, Jim Soper, Judy Alter, Phil Harlan, and Judy Bertelsen each gave short talks, a good mix of people covering the issue from a variety of angles: open source and pending legislation, Sequoia security holes, Sequoia voting hacks, disability access relative to integrity of the count, and a recap of McPherson's Diebold recertification travesty.

    As people filed inside to the hearing, I did another interview with Capitol News TV.

    People continued to arrive for the hearing, so that what initially looked like a small turnout turned quite respectable. Some of our party counted the sign-in sheets and concluded there were 100 to 120 people in the auditorium.

    The hearing format consisted of a reading of the Secretary of State's staff report summaries for each vendor certification item, followed by some responsive comments from vendor representatives, and then open comments from the public and assorted elections officials. The registrars of Contra Costa, Riverside, and Napa counties spoke (the latter two expressing complete confidence in their vendors, claiming never to have lost a vote, and assuring us their constituents just love their DREs).

    Throughout the day, citizens--including many from CEPN, VRTF, Mainstream Moms, and CaliforniaBallots--made cogent, sharp, persuasive and moving comments against the machines, and for honest, transparent and secure elections. Comments opposing privatized electronic voting led by a ratio of about 97 to 3.

    Everyone who wanted to speak got three opportunities for two minutes each. Testimony went on until 4:00.

    At the noon break, San Jose NBC Channel 11 did a series of interviews with Ted Newman, myself, and Michelle Gabriel, for a total of about 20 minutes.

    Ian Hoffman covered the hearing, so expect a good story in the morning.

    Bruce McPherson was seen in the lobby. This was a first.

    Registrars from Contra Costa, Riverside, and Napa spoke--the latter two praising their e-voting vendors, claiming they'd never lost a vote, and that their voters love their DREs.

    Jim Soper gave a 15 minute presentation describing a Visio Basic script hack on Sequoia WIN-Eds software demonstrated by the latest addition to our CEPN team, Jeremiah Akin of Riverside County. Jim also told the secretary of state's staff that there really is an Easter bunny who lays well-hidden Easter eggs in voting software.

    Riverside Registrar Barbara Dunmore asserted that whatever Akin was talking about, hadn't happened in Riverside. Dunmore also said there is no modem, internet or network connectivity on Riverside voting systems. (Two weeks ago, CEPN member Paul Jacobs reported the Riverside supervisors approving "use of a county Intranet system called "CORNET" to send election data from the Indio desert to Riverside . . . the CORNET Wide Area . . . according to the county Web site. . . will be accessible to all government agencies."

    "There will be no transmission limitation placed on the CORNET. File transfers, interactive traffic and graphics can be transmitted at any time.")

    Judy Alter came up from L.A. to present her findings, complete with machine internal tape copies, showing a vote-shifting routine on Sequoia Insight and Optech 400 scanners used in New Mexico, 2004.

    At lunchtime, Ferris Gluck and Sherry Healy demonstrated the Equalivote assistive voting device they have developed, and Phil Harlan tried it out.

    Around noon, Michelle fielded a radio interview on her cell phone (not sure which station). After the hearing, I did a 5-minute radio interview via cell phone with the Peter B. Collins show out of Monterey. On Monday I also had a 5 minute call-in on the Christine Craft show on 1240 AM Sacramento.

    So, that's at least 2 newspaper stories, 5 radio interviews, and 5 TV interviews. Not bad.

    When I got home, my answering machine messages included a follow-up call from Yamamura of the Bee, a Latina reporter from a Spanish-language newspaper (La Union) in L.A., and an aide to Assemblyman Mark Leno (D-SF) regarding the recertification of Diebold voting machines, "to get a sense of what you guys are doing about this, get some information from you, and find out how we can be of assistance; to let you know we're definitely interested in doing something about this situation."

    My bet is that it was that 5-second TV billboard by Jackie that got Leno's attention. I'll bet it got McPherson's too, if he was watching. (scroll down)

    Oh, and the VRTF literature table generated $90 in book, CD, and message-media sales income.

    Dan Ashby
    The Sacramento Bee article appeared online late Wednesday. While perhaps not overtly biased, it does seem to give the unwarranted benefit of the doubt to McPherson and the vendors. For instance, McPherson is allowed to get away with calling his certification procedures "stringent" and "transparent." Of course, the article does not point out, as I did last week, that McPherson didn't even follow his own "strict standards" (.pdf).

    In addition, the certification justification (.pdf) that offered assurances that documented security flaws are "fixable" and "manageable" set the bar way too low. You might as well shoot me in the head, stab me, run me over with a truck and drown me, and then offer me a band-aid. Current election conditions provide no basis for confidence in the results reported and McPherson has no right to ask for blind trust.

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    Wednesday, March 01, 2006

    Tuesday Re-Cap

    Tuesday felt like a good day, starting with circulating the press release and open letter on election conditions put out by Vets For Peace Humboldt Bay Chapter 56. The first version of that letter dates back to December. While it is still timely and accurate this week, it doesn't contain references to the most current events.

    It has been suggested that perhaps after Thursday's meeting of the County's new Election Advisory Board (EAB) there could be a follow-up letter. I have missed the first two EAB meetings in favor of attending the conflicting VFP meetings that were necessary to move the letter along. Thursday will be my first EAB meeting which is open to the public and starts at 6:30 at the County Courthouse in Eureka. I haven't seen an agenda but I understand there will be a presenter doing a demonstration of Vote-PAD.
    The Voting-on-Paper Assistive Device (Vote-PAD) is an inexpensive, non-electronic, voter-assist alternative that helps most people with visual or dexterity impairments to vote independently.

    The Vote-PAD can be used in any jurisdiction. It is customized to provide access to each precinct'’s hand-counted or optically-scanned paper ballot. All jurisdictions must offer provisional ballots during federal elections, and many also provide paper ballot backups in case voting machines break down. It is particularly suited for jurisdictions that use hand-counted paper ballots.
    I've been talking about hand-counted paper ballots (HCPB) quite a bit lately, including during public comment at Tuesday's meeting of theHumboldt County Board of Supervisors. In under three minutes I made the case for investigating Diebold's installation of uncertified software in Humboldt voting machines (.pdf), summarized the problems with Secretary McPherson's recent decision to conditionally certify Diebold, and served notice of my intention to both ask a judge for an injunction against continued use of Humboldt's illegal Diebold OS machines and to turn in a proposal recommending HCPB as an alternative.

    Back to Vote-PAD for second, BradBlog.com reported this article back in January, followed by news of Wisconsin's approval for use. The Vote-PAD website also contains this announcement from Jan. 19 stating the company will be working with Yolo County, CA. Finally, Vote-PAD was founded by Ellen Theisen, an experienced technical writer who compiled the tremendous Mythbreakers (.pdf) document previously referenced at GuvWurld. Ellen also founded VotersUnite.org and attended the National Summit to Save Our Elections last fall in Portland. There I had a chance to meet and work with her and develop a strong sense that there is a basis for confidence in her work.

    Another exciting part of my Tuesday was speaking to Eureka Mayor Peter La Vallee's graduate class in legal and political social work at Humboldt State University. The invitation was for 30 minutes but I was encouraged to finish out the full final hour of the class. This was much more of a discussion than a lecture covering many topics including: Consent of the Governed and the Voter Confidence Resolution; ranked choice voting, including the distinction between instant runoff voting for single seat elections and choice voting for multiple seat elections; background and current events on Diebold; fascism and the potential future of the Intentionally Divided States of America (.pdf); and ways to get involved with local efforts to address election integrity.

    Welcome to the many students who became new subscribers to the GuvWurld mailing list (subscribe), and thanks also to the new subscribers to the Voter Confidence Committee list (reminder: there is a VCC meeting tonight - if you would like to participate, please contact me for the private location of this meeting). I was especially pleased with this speaking engagement because I went in cold, without preparation, planning only to heed the advice I'd been given: have fun with it.

    The last part of my day involved talking to a lawyer about pursuing the Diebold injunction. We were considering the arguments to make. I said of course it should be open and shut with the interpreter code making the machines illegal. He then brought up the point that allowing continued use represents a great risk of harm. We both agreed the first argument was stronger. Then I said that the line I'd really like to use is...(guess, go on, wait for it...)...there is no basis for confidence in the results reported. He said this is the top argument. I was somewhat stunned. This is what I've used since I first started developing the Voter Confidence Resolution nearly two years ago. My mind boggles when I think that this phrase, the near equivalent of clicking my heels to go home, could turn out to be so influential in such a potentially pivotal action.

    Finally, for your reference, the ITA report (.pdf) upon which CA Secretary of State Bruce McPherson was supposed to base his Diebold certification decision was finally released yesterday. I haven't had a chance to read it yet but I've seen commentary stating that it does not really address the illegality of the interpreter code, primarily due to the way Diebold framed the questions to be answered by the reviewers. That sort of takes the I (Independent) out of ITA. For more on the incestuous relationship between the machine vendors and those tasked with vetting them, read this piece by Dr. Avi Rubin. Also for reference, here again is the security analysis (.pdf) by the Voting Systems Technology Assessment Advisory Board (VSTAAB) used by McPherson to justify further rubbing our noses in the absence of democracy.

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