Saturday, May 27, 2006
Eureka Councilmember Leonard Speaks Out For Verifiability
"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 LeonardWe 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.