Please pardon the interruption

My site has been basically inaccessible to me all day – I don’t know what was going on with my webhost, but I was last able to use Movable Type around 9 AM this morning. I think they must have rebooted the server I’m on, because I was getting a 403 error trying to connect to anything a few minutes ago. It’s back now, and I’ve lost a days’ time plus a post on this Metro story (executive summary: this sounds like a bad idea to me, with a high potential for abuse). As my parents are scheduled to land at the airport in the next 30 minutes or so, I likely won’t have too much time at the keyboard this weekend – I have one or two things in the queue, but won’t be staying on top of the news much. So, look for a light posting schedule till Monday, and enjoy the weekend.

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One Response to Please pardon the interruption

  1. Prove Our Democracy with Paper Ballots says:

    Oh, I thought it was on my side. Have a good weekend with your parents, Charles.

    I thought I would post the last event for today to support HB 3894, Texas Hand-Counted Paper Ballots bill for 2007.


    Media welcome.

    Thursday night, April 5th
    7 pm – 10 pm
    UNITARIAN CHURCH, 4700 Grover, Austin, TX
    $5 suggested donation at the door to cover rental of sanctuary

    “The Perils of Electronic Voting”
    & “Why we need hand-counted paper ballots!”

    Join us for:

    • “Hacking Democracy”, the HBO documentary from Nov. 2006, that includes footage of the actual hacking of electronic voting equipment sold by Diebold, one of the three vendors in Texas

    • A short talk by award-winning software designer & Fortune-500 security consultant, Bruce O’Dell of

    • Public announcement of HB 3894 – “The Texas Hand-Counted Paper Ballot Bill of 2007”, introduced this session of the Texas Legislature, and how you can support it!


    for more background:

    Originally published at
    March 11, 2007

    Texas Rep. Lon Burnam Submits Bill for Hand-Counted Paper Ballots in Texas

    By Vickie Karp and Karen Renick

    Rep. Lon Burnam, District 90, Tarrant County (Fort Worth), Texas Submitted HB 3894, The Texas Hand Counted Paper Ballot Bill of 2007

    With the acknowledgment and validation from computer experts, government reports and university studies nationwide that electronic voting systems, including optical scan counters, are vulnerable to easy hacking and manipulation without detection, the need for drastic change in our voting systems has become evident. Well-intentioned legislators at both the federal and state levels have presented the costly “solution” of adding printers to electronic voting machines for a “voter verifiable paper audit trail.”

    What Does H.B. 3894, the Texas Hand-Counted Paper Ballot Bill of 2007, Do?

    1. Repeals the use of any electronic “voting system” from the Texas State Election Code and leaves hand-counted paper ballots as the only voting method allowed by code in Texas.

    2. Permits any interested citizen to observe the counting of Election Day and Early Voting ballots.

    3. Makes the citizens of Texas the first to know the precinct results by instructing the precinct presiding judge to post them on the front door of the precinct’s polling place.

    4. Makes it a felony to remove, tear, deface or in any way alter the posted precinct results for 24 hours after they are publicly posted on the polling place door.

    5. Permits a video recording device to record an unobstructed view of the ballots and ballot boxes from the time the polls open for voting until the final precinct totals are posted on the front door of the precinct’s polling place. The video records are stored with the original paper ballots.

    6. Reduces the maximum number of registered voters per precinct from 5,000 to 2,000.

    7. Allows county election commissions to consider implementing alternate hand-counted paper ballot voting materials and methods to reduce counting times. (sort and stack method)

    Rep. Burnam, House District 90, recognizes that adding printers to fraudulent voting systems will simply mask further fraud, while giving the public a false sense of security that the problem has been solved. He also recognizes that the bill will help all counties throughout the state save tremendous amounts of taxpayer money by eliminating the budget-breaking costs of machine maintenance, storage and replacement, as well as, the costs of training, programming, yearly software license fees, support services, and transportation.

    Rep. Burnam therefore filed the Texas Hand-Counted Paper Ballot Bill of 2007, H.B. 3894, to eliminate the use of any voting machine whatsoever in the state of Texas and to allow all Texas voters to cast their vote on a paper ballot that is hand counted by their fellow citizens at the precinct level. The bill allows the use of ballot-marking-only machines for the disabled to vote privately and independently for compliance with the 2002 Help America Vote Act (HAVA). Non-electronic ballot-marking methods that also comply with HAVA, such as the Vote-PAD and the Equalivote, are also allowed under this bill.

    “We know that most voters in Texas will welcome the news of Representative Burnam’s bill, H.B. 3894, and will immediately contact their own representatives and senators in the Texas Legislature to tell them to vote for the passage of the Texas Hand-Counted Paper Ballot Bill of 2007,” said Karen Renick, the Director of Vote Rescue, the non-partisan coalition of Texas voters who are for elections that are fair and 100% transparent with citizen access, involvement and oversight.


    MoveOn blows it
    From Paul Lehto:

    MoveOn strikes a devastating blow against its own credibility as an activist organization with this strong support for Holt’s HR 811 “paper trail and audit” “solution”. They specifically reference the last minute strong opposition which was activists burning up the fax lines of Congress, with a little help from some elected officials opposing unfunded mandates. Word on the street was that this committee of Congress had never seen such a response to oppose legislation, yet here MoveOn attempts to commit the activists who aren’t keeping close tabs on this into fighting with the other activists! We can have legitimate disagreements and oppose each other, but for MoveOn not to even identify the issues correctly is truly abysmal.

    For starters, how does Moveon Justify continued use of touch screen DREs and continued secret vote counting on the first counts with both optical scans and touch screens? These issues are far more fundamental and important than the band-aid talking points Moveon cites below. There will likely be a version of this coming out later today that contains links for more balanced information on Holt (in light of that contained below).

    For me personally, I am finished with MoveOn. We can differ on any number of political issues, but if they can not find the democratic will to count the vote openly and honestly, together with the intellectual honesty to realize that DREs and secret counting opscans DO NOT MEET even the most minimal standards, they’ve not done their homework sufficiently to deserve the leadership position that they enjoy. (they don’t even have a rationale for their lack of concern, they just rally “the troops.” — inexcusable for not even engaging the public debate or what Jefferson called “the bar of public reason”).

    Paul R Lehto, Juris Doctor

    From Paul Lehto:

    Dear MoveOn and Common Cause,

    As an election law attorney, and by way of introducing myself solely in an effort to get the next paragraphs after the following “bio” paragraph considered (and which explain why Holt will continue and acelerate the destruction of our democratic elections) let me say:

    I’ve most recently litigated cases first highlighted in bradblog (the CA50 Busby/Bilbray election contest), and cases involving post-election remedies like recounts and audits like Busby/Bilbray and others, which case has now received the attention of international election monitors as a significant 2006 case involving core democratic rights, and also as a co-author of a groundbreaking scientific study on DREs that has nothing less than smoking gun evidence of actual electronic irregularities, as a”Rising Star” lawyer in 2004 and 2005, as a former Governor of the Washington State Bar Association, as the plaintiff in a case that helped rid my county of Sequoia DREs via county council vote, as someone who travels the country and speaks to people all the time on these subjects, as someone who thinks, reads and writes on voting systems pretty much full time and then some for the last two years, as someone not only on the Moveon list but also on a movein listserv, and most importantly as someone who has litigated post-election lawsuits for recounts/audits and stands to make more money if there are juicy Holt audits and so forth to litigate or utilize, please allow me a few words in utter opposition to Holt:

    This is not an area for “balancing” tests, but an area of fundamental rights in voting and democracy. RIghts are not balanced against other things, they TRUMP other things. As such, the compromise of any right is nothing less than the VIOLATION of that rights, since half a right of free speech for example is not “free” speech at all and neither is it a right at all.

    The core democratic right at issue is the right of public supervision of elections via open and honest (transparent) vote counting. Put negatively, the right at issue is the right to be free from SECRET VOTE COUNTING. If HOlt is enacted, all in the name of election “integrity”, the critical FIRST VOTE COUNTS that control everything from the headlines to the news to who is the alleged “sore loser” and has to pay big bucks for recounts or hire experts and lawyers to interpret and challenge election and audit results, are institutionalized as TOTALLY SECRET. This was just confirmed in the Sarasota, FL 13th Congressional district race where the trade secret rights of the vendors TRUMPED the search for the truth in court concerning a close race for Congress, even though the parties would have stipulated to a confidentiality agreement — itself a continuation of the secrecy with respect to the public. Secret vote counts have zero credibility (once examined) even in a race for high school class president. But even elections officials have no idea what’s happening in the computers under the trade secret software.

    The election integrity movement is founded in part on the principle that it’s not who votes that counts, but who counts the vote. (attributed to Stalin). Notorious election criminal Boss Tweed would have been delighted if he could have counted the vote in total secrecy, having said “I’m counting the vote, what are YOU going to do about it?”

    The HR 811 “deal” is that secret first counts on touch screens and optical scans are given to the vendors and officials, while citizens get only post-election “remedies” that are expensive, unwieldy, and largely illusory, and 3% audits are just as likely unconstitutional as Gore’s partial recount request in Florida was unconstitutional in 2000. But even though the officials “get” the first secret counts, only those officials committing crimes against democracy will actually have personal knowledge of what the machines are actually doing since it is a secret even from them. They just certify whatever magic numbers pop out of the DREs as the “true and correct” result. Yet all the testing in the world is irrelevant because these are computers that follow instructions regardless of law or democracy and only a lunatic hacker cares a whit about instructing anything but the counting on election day itself and when there are lots of votes at stake, but all of the testing is either NOT on election day, or not in election mode, and certainly not at election volumes.

    I’m working with some people including known authors, people with Air America and others to launch entire websites to counteract what MoveOn is doing here, with a major internet campaign.

    Friendly Fire? The worst thing is that, representing core concerns about democracy, MoveOn nevertheless asks its membership to “fire” upon our efforts as well by supporting Holt and condeming the “last minute” campaign against Holt. At the very least, an acknowledgement that it is in large part election activists, including many full time election activists (though not every one), that are the target moveon asks their membership to resist.

    I don’t know whether I’ve succeeded in clarity here or not, but in all my travels around the country I do not find a single person who AFTER THIS KIND OF INFORMATION still supports Holt, except for those who have previously committed themselves or are in constrained roles as the leaders or staff in Congress or certain organizations. In other words, informed citizens without any conflicts oppose Holt for the above reasons. Because these reasons are so fundamental to democracy it is a grave mistake to believe that Holt’s bandaids concerning post-election remedies are any way for the government servants to treat We the People at the very moment (elections) when they will be seeking Our authority.

    Congress will vote on the conditions of THEIR OWN RE-ELECTIONS, and what voting systems will be used. And all We the People can expect is secret vote counting???

    The above position of those who call HR 811 “realistic” is so anti-democratic, so riddled with conflict of interest and potential for abuse that when and if the American people find out about this, I predict that they will be mighty, mighty angry and pissed.

    Moveon should prove that Thomas Jefferson was right about the power of the “bar of public reason” and MoveOn should publicly reverse this position completely and lobby the other way, proving that it is committed to progressive ideals of continual learning, defending democracy, and promoting the rights of We the People, and opposing elitist claims to privileges like secret vote counts and the ability to create the “reality” for We the People, who in any honest democracy or republic must be and are the sole source of 100% of all legitimate power.

    Elections are a unique political issue, Our democracy rights and constitutional rights in voting can not be for sale or compromised/violated. A trade secret is a form of intellectual property and corporations are literally claiming to OWN the heart of democracy via trade secret software (the counting of the vote) and to exclude the citizens therefrom. This is not corporate “influence” on elections this is corporate OWNERSHIP of the heart of democracy. There is not a redblooded American alive that will not be outraged by these facts.

    I hope Moveon has the courage to drop out of the false debate framed by major corporate media, and instead strongly support progressive ideals of meaningful public supervision of elections, the sole channel of power from the people to the government. There is nothing more important to defend.

    Voting is the right that protects all other rights. The counting of the vote caps that off. We can not sell out our democracy for ANY price, or for any values of voting “convenience” or administrative “efficiency” or to protect wasteful spending decisions by Democrats, Republicans or anyone else. Unless every soldier and civil rights activist who at the urging of others or their superiors sacrificed and DIED for democracy was LIED to, this issue is more important than Life itself.

    In light of the above importance, it merits a historic decision by MoveOn to completely reverse itself, and to undo the damage done, and rally for real voting rights and democracy.

    Paul Lehto
    Attorney at law

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