Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Meet The New Blog, Same As The Old Blog

In just a few hours I will be interviewed on the nationally syndicated Thom Hartmann radio show. We'll be discussing election conditions, peaceful revolution, and my new book We Do Not Consent. If you are in Humboldt County, tune in at 11am to KGOE, 1480-AM. The show airs on over 80 radio stations plus it streams online so if you are outside of Humboldt, please click here to find the best way to get the signal.

This is the broadest exposure yet for these ideas. Obviously it is important that the many thousands of Hartmann listeners know where to get more of this information and how to continue receiving it on a regular basis. I do not want Hartmann to be spelling out G-U-V-W...since the word GuvWurld is difficult to remember and to spell correctly. As a result, this will likely be my final post here at GuvWurld.

The advocacy journalism work of GuvWurld will transition uninterrupted at my new blog If you are a GuvWurld subscriber, please visit the new site and enter your e-mail address to continue receiving dispatches when the site is updated. You will receive only one more reminder after this. If you do not opt-in to WDNC then you will not receive e-mail updates from me.

We Do Not Consent, the blog, is also set up to process payments automatically for the sale of We Do Not Consent, the book (you can also click Buy Now at the top of GuvWurld). A free .pdf version of We Do Not Consent is still available here:

This is quite the moment in time and I have much more I'd like to share. But it will have to wait. It seems like there ought to be some significant point to make in wrapping things up here at GuvWurld, but this isn't really any kind of an ending at all. So for now I'll just say what we all want: PEACE.

If you don't want PEACE, what do you want?

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Monday, May 29, 2006

PRESS RELEASE: Berman to Appear on Hartmann Show

May 29, 2006

TO: All media

FROM: Voter Confidence Committee

CONTACT: Dave Berman, 707-845-3749, or


Local author Dave Berman, whose new book, We Do Not Consent, grew out of his two-year campaign to ensure verifiable elections, will receive statewide and national exposure on Thursday, June 1, when he guests on the nationally-syndicated Thom Hartmann radio program. The program can be heard in Humboldt County on KGOE, 1480 AM. Berman's interview is scheduled for 11 a.m. (Pacific Time).

Berman is also expected to discuss protest actions that his Voter Confidence Committee may take at the June 6 election. The VCC has a long-standing campaign advocating transparent, secure and verifiable elections, which cannot be achieved with the discredited Diebold optical scanners used for vote counting in Humboldt County.

Hartmann is a progressive radio talk show host with a growing following. He is heard on more than 80 stations in 29 states from California to North Carolina as well as on the Sirius satellite radio network. He also appears on the Air America progressive radio network. KGOE airs the Thom Hartmann Show locally from 9 a.m. to noon on weekdays. Programs are also archived online at

Officially launched in late March, Berman's new book (the full name is We Do Not Consent: Peaceful Revolution and Other Provocations from the GuvWurld Blog) is a compilation of essays originally posted on his blog, The book is dedicated to "conscientious objectors everywhere" and covers topics such as election integrity, U.S. involvement in Iraq, media reform, propaganda, and strategies for large scale social change.

Berman also plans to announce the launch of a new blog,, where he will continue the work started at GuvWurld. The new blog will be able to process purchase transactions for readers wishing to buy a hard copy of We Do Not Consent. The book will continue to be offered as a free .pdf download.

In the introduction to his book, Berman says that "GuvWurld is advocacy journalism. That means I often write about the work I do for change in the world and I write in a way that promotes these efforts. To judge whether my advocacy journalism is successful, I consider only whether my intended real-world results are produced."

The Voter Confidence Resolution (VCR), which was adopted by the Arcata City Council last year, "is so far my best example of successful advocacy journalism," he said. It took Berman more than a year of organizing and doing re-writes before a majority of the Council affirmed, "the Declaration of Independence refers to the Consent of the Governed as the self-evident truth from which Government derives 'just Power'...elections are [currently] conducted under conditions that prevent conclusive outcomes, [therefore] 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."

A protest at the June 6 election in Humboldt County would focus on the reporting of election results by Diebold optical scanners, which use illegal "interpreter code" to count votes. This computer programming is the proprietary property of the machines' manufacturer, Diebold, and is vigorously guarded and protected as secret. Thus, there is no way to verify the results--except to count the ballots by hand, which the Voter Confidence Committee believes is presently the best way to restore transparency, security and verifiable accuracy to election results.

More information about the Voter Confidence Committee is at

# # #

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Saturday, May 27, 2006

Eureka Councilmember Leonard Speaks Out For Verifiability

Saturday's Eureka Times-Standard (archive) and Eureka Reporter both cover comments made by Eureka City Councilmember Jeff Leonard who is challenging the legitimacy of a recent public opinion poll. The topic of the poll and the players in the story are of local interest, but for the sake of GuvWurld, it is this quote in the T-S that brought this story alive:
"If CREG [Citizens for Real Economic Growth] commissioned a legitimate survey of public opinion on this issue, that information should be part of the public record so the City Council can use it as part of our decision-making process," Leonard said. "The community should be allowed to verify whether or not their polling was legitimate."
Let's try a slight variation on that and see if it is a stretch or if Leonard has come around to the GuvWurld position:
If the Elections Department conducted a legitimate survey of public opinion (election), those votes should be part of the public record so the City Council can use it as part of our decision-making process. The community should be allowed to verify whether or not their election was legitimate.
My variation is materially the same as the Councilmember's original statement. If we don't count the ballots, we cannot know who won.

Currently, Humboldt ballots are "counted" by optical scanners. However, the ballots do not simply go in one end of the scanner and out the other with a report of the results. In the scanner, the votes recorded on the ballots become data acted upon by computer programming, specifically illegal "interpreter code." The vote information is transformed into AccuBasic, the proprietary language of the scanner manufacturer Diebold that neither the public nor elections officials are permitted to examine. Let's pause here for a second.
"The community should be allowed to verify whether or not their polling was legitimate." - Eureka City Councilmember Jeff Leonard
We should be allowed to verify, but are we? Our system is supposed to have checks and balances and accountability. Instead, blind trust is required to accept the results according to Diebold. Worse, we have no demand for verification from the media. Instead, we have faith-based reporting about faith-based voting. There is no rational basis for confidence in the unverified results reported.

Fortunately we have paper ballots that can and should be counted by hand ("verified"). It is an old tradition, therefore perhaps even considered conservative. Or if you are progressive, it might seem like everything old is new again, what comes around goes karma, etc. And if you are like me and apparently Eureka Councilmember Jeff Leonard, it is as simple, basic and fundamental as the public deserving access to public records so we can make informed decisions. In this case, the choice is whether to accept or reject the legitimacy of an election.

Last June, when California's special initiatives election was announced for November, the Voter Confidence Committee put out a press release saying we would not accept the results as conclusive. Look for more along these lines in the next 10 days and help your friends and neighbors to understand that unverifiable elections are just simulated competition, like professional wrestling or the Harlem Globetrotters.

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Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Tune In 6/1, GuvWurld on Thom Hartmann Radio Show

On June 1 at 11am PT, I will be on the nationally syndicated Thom Hartmann radio show talking about my new book, We Do Not Consent (.pdf). Thom's show airs on the Sirius satellite radio network as well as Air America and a total of more than 80 stations in 29 states. There are multiple online listening options too. See this page for details.

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Sunday, May 21, 2006

Inherent Uncertainty

On the heels of the latest reports filed by Harri Hursti, and covered in depth by, Newsweek via now has an article called "Will Your Vote Count in 2006?" The piece strives for "balance" by including the following opposing quotes:
"If Diebold had set out to build a system as insecure as they possibly could, this would be it," says Avi Rubin, a Johns Hopkins University computer-science professor and elections-security expert.

Diebold Election Systems spokesperson David Bear says Hursti's findings do not represent a fatal vulnerability in Diebold technology, but simply note the presence of a feature that allows access to authorized technicians to periodically update the software. If it so happens that someone not supposed to use the machine--or an election official who wants to put his or her thumb on the scale of democracy--—takes advantage of this fast track to fraud, that's not Diebold's problem. "[Our critics are] throwing out a 'what if' that's premised on a basis of an evil, nefarious person breaking the law," says Bear.
Note that "fast track to fraud" are the words of Newsweek writer Steven Levy. That's nice, suggesting it could happen. But instead of being forced to prove that Diebold machines are secure, which he can't do, Baer is allowed to make the argument that the machines are not secure but the company bears no responsibility for any breach. This is precisely at issue in Denver right now where a City Auditor made news for complaining about the terms of the contract he just signed with Sequoia limiting that company's liability for their machines' potential (inevitable) failures.

So where does this Newsweek article take us? Levy is trying to comment that we should be concerned but he doesn't quite grasp the problem. The closest he gets is at the very end:
In other words, it's unlikely that every voter using an electronic voting device in 2006 will know for sure that his or her vote will be reflected in the actual totals.
It is not a matter of being unlikely, and it is not an open question, as the article's title suggests. Unverifiable voting, by definition, produces inconclusive outcomes. We are being asked to have blind trust which will continue to result in a lack of unanimous acceptance of election results. There is no rational basis for confidence in the results reported from elections in America today.

I wouldn't expect Newsweek to offer such paradigm-shattering analysis. Instead, while raising questions and feeding the existing and growing doubt, the effect is to further reinforce the inherent uncertainty which leaves ordinary Americans divided about what constitutes reality. Rather than stating unequivocally that we cannot know for sure the true outcome of an election held under these conditions, Newsweek appears to be giving ground coveted by those seeking to wake up the masses to America's election problems. This classic technique is called a limited hangout.

* * *

GuvWurld correspondent Dennis Kyne was back in the news this week. Amy Goodman interviewed Kyne's lawyer, Gideon Oliver, on her Wednesday Democracy Now program (transcript).

They discussed the Justice Department's new criminal investigation of the NY police department's work during the Republican National Convention in 2004. As chronicled here at GuvWurld, Kyne was falsely arrested, imprisoned, and eventually put on trial. Charges were dropped and the case dismissed after video evidence showed officers had perjured themselves about the circumstances of Kyne's arrest. This made the front page of the New York Times. At the time, 91% of the 1670 convention arrest cases that had run their full course "ended with the charges dismissed or with a verdict of not guilty after trial."

When we can show that cops are lying to get convictions, or simply to cover their wrongful behavior in the field, and we know how often defendants do not have the benefit of video evidence against their accusers, we have identified another type of inherent uncertainty. If you are a juror, think very carefully about what constitutes a reasonable doubt nowadays. Everything is geared toward making certainty impossible. I need no further cause to support local efforts here in Humboldt for the creation of citizen police review board.

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Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Palo Alto Defers On VCR, McPherson Rejects Vote-PAD

On Tuesday night, the City Council of Palo Alto (.pdf) had its first discussion of the Voter Confidence Resolution (VCR). The Council considered the version of the VCR (.pdf) adopted in February by Palo Alto's Human Relations Commission (HRC). Commission Chairperson Shauna Wilson has taken the lead in pushing the voter confidence message in Silicon Valley and we need to get her more support. Following Tuesday's meeting, Shauna sent me these observations, printed with permission:
The Voter Confidence Resolution was sent back to the HRC for revision. Some members of Council did not like the call for Election Day to be a National Holiday, Equal time provisions, or Preferential voting. With some tweeking I think we can draft a resolution that would pass the City Council. I am not willing to drop the Equal time provisions as I believe the FCC not enforcing that aspect has greatly contributed to our deteriorated electorate.

Two members of the public spoke to the issue. I'll put the revison [sic] on the HRC agenda for June and hopefully have it sent back to Council by the end of June. When I spoke at the Council meeting tonight, I expressed my concern about the lag time between when the HRC passed the VCR and the City agendized it. I found out it was City staff not preparing the CMR (CIty Manager's Report) that caused the delay. I think we'll see the revised VCR before the City Council before July.
My friend Emily, who has also done a considerable amount to promote the VCR, traveled from Santa Cruz to speak at Tuesday's meeting in Palo Alto. She posted these comments on Democratic Underground:
Our agenda item wasn't over until nearly 11:00 p.m., not because they spent hours debating it but because it got pulled from the "consent agenda" (the list of things that get approved without discussion) and put at the end of the regular agenda.

Most of the nine council members were in support of the idea of the council making a statement about the importance of verifiable elections, but nearly all felt the VCR was too broad. They sent it back to the Human Relations Commission, which had drafted the VCR based on Arcata and Berkeley versions but also added some of their own ideas, for major revision.

Notably, Council Member Peter Drekmeier, an election integrity activist before he ran for the P.A. City Council, expressed support for the VCR as it stood.

It looks like they would pass a much narrower version, which I suspect the HRC will agree to draft, though I don't know anything about the politics of that commission.
I want to make a trip down to the Bay Area to promote the VCR and my new book, We Do Not Consent. I need help setting up speaking gigs in San Francisco, Palo Alto and Santa Cruz. If you can help with logistics, please write me: Meanwhile, copies of the book are getting out and I am hopeful to get more media presence soon.

I have an article coming out any day now in Green Focus, the quarterly newspaper published by the Green Party of CA. Like several previous articles I've written for the Humboldt Advocate (.pdf), Arcata Eye, and Eureka Times-Standard, this new essay emphasizes election reform as a tactic toward peaceful revolution (.pdf) rather than its own end goal. I confess that I am still struggling to help others see this as the elephant in the room. With bogus elections and no right to privacy or speech or due process, the inescapable conclusion must be that peaceful revolution is necessary, NOW!

One small but encouraging sign emerged last Thursday at the monthly meeting of the Humboldt County Election Advisory Committee. Clerk/Recorder and Registrar of Voters Carolyn Crnich announced that Secretary of State Bruce McPherson had forbidden Humboldt and other counties from using Vote-PAD, the non-electronic paper ballot assistive voting device. Humboldt had recently committed to a "pilot program," making a good faith effort to comply with the disabled voter provisions of the Help America Vote Act (HAVA). Many aspects of this McPherson decree are maddening, so bear with me as I build up to the encouraging sign. According to section 19211 of the CA Election Code, McPherson should not be able to block Humboldt's experiment with Vote-PAD:
The governing board, without formally adopting a system that it might lawfully adopt, may provide for its experimental use at an election in one or more precincts. Its use at the election is as valid for all purposes as if it were lawfully adopted.
Crnich said she cited this section of the Code and simply met with further insistence that the devices not be used, thus ensuring Humboldt's non-compliance with HAVA. So should we be out of compliance and offer disabled voters the benefit of Vote-PAD and the ability to vote privately and independently, or should we remain non-compliant and disenfranchise disabled voters?

At this point, Humboldt County Supervisor Jimmy Smith expressed his frustration with "state and federal mandates" that interfere with the local government's ability to make decisions. I validated him, noting how refreshing it is to hear this acknowledged. It is common and obvious, I said, and rather than wind up in a non-compliant position by default, we should be more purposeful in resisting and rejecting this outside control over our local decision making. This argument is straight from Blueprint For Peaceful Revolution and watching Smith nod encouragingly struck me as a very good sign.

* * *

Update: 5/11/06 11pm

The following are not official minutes, and reflect only the first hand observations of GuvWurld correspondent Emily Levy.

Palo Alto City Council Meeting 5/8/06

Council Members (all present): Bern Beecham, Peter Drekmeier, Ladoris H. Cordell, Yoriko Kishimoto (vice mayor), Judy Kleinberg (mayor), Larry Klein, Jack Morton, Dena Mossar, John Barton.

As soon as Shauna Wilson’s presentation concluded, Beecham moved to deny the request to approve the VCR. This was immediately seconded (by Mossar, I think).

Beecham said that the VCR calls for the city to “follow above guidelines,” and it’s unclear how they’d do that, and that the “therefores” don’t make sense. He expressed concern about costs to the City if election day became a national holiday.

Mossar said that despite her awareness of concerns about elections this resolution is troublesome. She would support a council letter to registrar with concerns about elections, but not this resolution.

Drekmeier talked about exit poll discrepancy and other election problems. Hey said that they key point of the resolution is voter-verified paper ballots, which he stated is a bipartisan issue. He noted that what the HRC was requesting was for the city attorney to draft a resolution, and supported that.

Klein said resolution needs more work and that it sounds like a canned resolution from some group or other. That deeper analysis needs to be done. He said that the part about supporting clean money laws is too vague. He questions the part about national standards because California often does things better than national standards. He said that VVPB “may or may not be the way to go.” He said the HRC should have consulted with county supervisors. He said equal time provisions weren’t voluntary but were imposed by the FCC and that internet communication makes the equal time provisions less important. Regarding preferential voting and proportional representation he said this would be a “dramatic change in the political system” and can’t be dealt with in this way (the resolution).

Shauna did get to respond to him briefly. She said the resolution is not canned, but was based on resolutions from Arcata and Berkeley combined with other research. She said the clean money part was left vague because at the time the HRC passed the VCR it was unclear what would happen with the clean money bill in the state legislature, that it’s now AB530 and is currently in the State Senate elections committee. She said the HRC contacted the county which is taking some action regarding VVPAT but not on open source. Regarding the national holiday she said it could be taken out. She said proportional representation “would be nice.” About equal time she noted that the airwaves belong to the people and people have a right to access information via the airwaves.

Kishimoto said she would welcome a cleaner, more focused resolution regarding a verifiable voting system.

Barton echoed Kishimoto and expressed concern about the money to pay employees for a national holiday. He said #8 and *1 need further thought. He said on p. 1 “not the last whereas but the two above it” have something in them that is not supported by fact and require further evidence.

Drekmeier encourages HRC to come back and address the feedback and said he supports VCR as is.

Cordell suggested the resolution be pulled tonight but return to HRC for reworking.

Attorney said it couldn’t be pulled but could be tabled.

Morton moved to refer it back to the HRC. Kishimoto seconded and notes that a new version should focus on voter security and assurance elements.

Kleinberg noted that it’s awful how low voter turnout is and that people wouldn’t necessarily use a voting holiday to vote. She asked how the HRC can inspire more people to vote in Palo Alto.

The motion to send the VCR back to the HRC for revision passed 8-1. Beecham voted no.

respectfully submitted by Emily Levy

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Thursday, May 04, 2006

Palo Alto, CA City Council Takes Up Voter Confidence Resolution

May 8 Agenda (.pdf)

Recommendation to Palo Alto, CA City Council from Human Relations Commission (.pdf)

Voter Confidence Resolution as adopted by Palo Alto Human Relations Commission (.pdf)

Voter Confidence Resolution template (adopted by Arcata, CA City Council)

The HRC's recommendation is to have the Council direct the City Attorney to draft the resolution. I don't think there will be real debate or public comment, but I could be wrong. Attendance is definitely recommended. I think most likely they will accept the recommendation, the City Attorney will draft the resolution, and a real debate will occur at a future meeting.

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