Saturday, April 01, 2006

Press Release: VCC Presents "Demand Your Democracy" Forum On 4/11


FROM: Jack McCurdy, the Voter Confidence Committee,

CONTACT: Dave Berman, 707-845-3749 or


March 31, 2006--Is Humboldt County heading for a possible vote count disaster on June 6? What can be done to prevent the use of illegal and untrustworthy optical scan machines to count votes? How can the community organize to demand the use of reliable hand-counted paper ballots?

Those questions--and an even bigger one: will your vote count on June 6?--will be explored, debated and answered at the "Demand Your Democracy Forum" beginning at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, April 11, sponsored by the Voter Confidence Committee (VCC) of Humboldt County, which is dedicated to ensuring electoral integrity in our community. The Forum will be held in Founders Hall Room 118 at Humboldt State University. Admission is free and refreshments will be served.

Outstanding speakers and their topics will be:

• Nathan Smith, NAACP Humboldt Chapter Vice President, the historical struggle for the franchise.

• David Cobb, Green Party presidential candidate in 2004 and steering committee member of Democracy Unlimited of Humboldt County, the recount in Ohio during 2004, which is still subject to pending litigation.

• Dave Berman, VCC founding member and author of the just-released book, "We Do Not Consent," the reliability of election conditions in Humboldt County.

A fourth speaker may be added to the program.

The Forum is aimed at explaining just why the VCC and other groups around the state and nation are so alarmed about not only how even local elections have been corrupted but how that may continue to occur if the optical scan machines continue to be used. These machines, including those manufactured by Diebold, which County officials intend to deploy, use secret codes that are expressly forbidden by 2002 Federal standards that must be complied with by California and other states.

Paul Lehto, an Everett, Washington, attorney, who has sued and won removal of similar machines manufactured by Sequoia, wrote this in his Foreword to Berman's new book:

"...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."

The Forum will provide an opportunity to review the purpose and importance of the lawsuit filed on March 21 seeking to prevent the use and purchase of Diebold machines in California. It was filed in San Francisco by attorney Lowell Finley and and named as defendants California Secretary of State Bruce McPherson, Humboldt Registrar of Voters Carolyn Crnich, and 17 other California registrars. It alleges that McPherson did not follow proper procedures in certifying Diebold voting machines for use in California, that Diebold's equipment fails to comply with the law, and that voters' constitutional rights are being violated.

Following widespread expressions of concern, including an almost daily onslaught of news about problems with election machines, the county has seemingly abandoned its plans to buy new Diebold machines for use in the June 6 election. Instead, it plans to use the Vote-PAD system to satisfy legal requirements for disabled voters, but votes cast with Vote-PAD will still be counted on the illegal and secret optical scanners, leaving the accuracy of vote counts at risk.

What makes the use of these machines so objectionable, Berman said, is that the corporations that make them "are all claiming proprietary privilege to keep their computer programming from being scrutinized by the public, or even by the election officials on the county level." Thus, the public is kept from being able to have a transparent view of how it works. The state of Maryland has abandoned such machines, which also have been rejected by several Florida communities and the state of North Carolina.

The only good alternative is the use of hand-counted paper ballots, Berman said. "Hand counting paper ballots represents a transparent, secure and verifiably accurate voting system. In a county the size of Humboldt, this is practical, logistically-feasible and cost-effective when compared to the cost of more litigation."

The blueprint for bringing integrity to our voting process is found in the Voter Confidence Resolution, which is at The Resolution was adopted by the Arcata City Council last July with a platform of election reforms aimed at creating a new basis for confidence in election results. The Demand Your Democracy Forum will be a reminder to community members of the civic role we share for overseeing the transfer of power from We The People to those who must then represent us.




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