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View Diary: Armando's Challenge, Or The Informed Citizen's Guide To The 2004 Election (389 comments)

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  •  Calm. Calm. Seriously. (none)
    I don't like it, but I have to say it. It's a real and significant barrier, and no matter how you put it in emotional terms, the judge is going to want a legal basis for pushing those well-established rights aside.

    I think that if you go back and read through everything I've now put out there, you'll see that I'm 100% with you on the emotion.

    •  The point you're making is true IMO (none)
      I also think TomPaine's point just above is very well made:

      "...At best, the contracting government officials trusted naively and were negligent in their role as trustees of the voters' interest in a transparent, verifiable election process. THEY are the ones that allowed a situation to develop where the election process is being questioned but some of the crucial information needed to investigate it is subject to claims of confidentiality and trade secrecy."

      These two points together highlight why I feel it's important for the voters to know about the issue and let their reps know it's a priority.  

      •  Glad to see this discussion alive (none)
        I'm always pleased to see Kagro X express feelings. Makes me want to be as civil as I can possibly be and appreciate the existence of an opposing point of view.

        I'd like to continue a discussion we had in another thread in this thread.

        This was my last, unanswered post [edited to apply to this thread]:

        The examination of any systems, source code, polling data, etc., could have been allowed by these companies with a condition--those allowed to inspect whatever systems, source code, polling data, etc. would be limited to data verification and security issues.

        [. . .]

        What I would like to know: if everything being done by those on the election gravy train have nothing to hide, if they have confidence in the accuracy and the security of their processes, what do these companies have to lose by allowing outside audits? Wouldn't a clean bill of health from non-partisan, independent examination do much to restore faith in the electoral process? Wouldn't there be more to gain from allowing outside audits?

        Another question I have: is the protection of copyright law more sacred than the protection of the constitutional law? Is this why there is across the board refusal to allow conditional access?

        Should there be a way to weigh the value of verification against proprietary processes? I do not know if there is any legal precedent. My own opinion is that protection of the democratic election process should trump all. What do you believe? Can you suggest a possible remedy? Will it take new legislation?

        In the case of proprietary information: is there nothing in the law that allows us to pit one right (copyright) against the other (voting)? Can we use documented cases of the failure of voting systems/tabulation equipment as the grounds for further legal discovery?

        I'm open to hear the hows and whys but I'm not ready to give in to corporate interests on the basis of copyright law.

        I am not yet ready to concede that there is no remedy to the present situation, and that the only hope lies in depending upon a Republican Executive, Legislative, and Judicial Branch to enact election reform.

        •  Much more thoughtful. (none)
          Did you write this before or after the sophistry comment? I prefer this one. I think we should discuss my feelings about your other one some time.

          I would examine the proprietary rights and confidentiality agreement issues against this background: No corporation would think itself well-served by voluntarily releasing proprietary information, whether or not they have something to hide.

          All the moreso in this situation, when there's an angry public waiting outside to tear you apart. This says nothing about whether or not the public is justifiably angry. It doesn't matter from the corporate perspective. All you'd know is that there are people who want to destroy you, and you don't want that.

          Even a non-partisan, independent review poses some problems for the corporation. What would be the result of a clean bill of health? Everyone goes home happy, or some portion of the angry mob insists the non-partisan, independent review board has been bought off, either through conspiracy, or simply because they're all too invested in their middle-class lifestyles to risk disrupting the American corporatocracy? Or at least, that's your fear if you're the corporation in this example.

          There can be plenty to gain from outside audits -- if we were to make them a legal requirement for qualifying for the contract in the first place. Why we don't, I have no idea. Well, actually, it's because we got outvoted (or maybe not -- that's at the heart of this, too) in the contests to decide who would be allowed to make up the contracting rules. But that's another story.

          Is the protection of copyright law more sacred than the protection of the constitutional law?

          No, I wouldn't say so. But that's not just an automatic decision we can make for ourselves, as lay people, based on common sense. We can't simply wave the Constitution in their faces as we storm the castle. You have to go to a judge and make a case. You say, "Judge, isn't the Constitution more important than copyright law?" And the judge will say, "Yes it is." And you'll say, "Well, then, can we see the source code?" And he'll say, "What do you think the source code has to do with the Constitution?" And you'll say, "Because they're using it to count votes, and we think they're cheating." And he'll say, "What makes you say that?"

          And here we are.

          Statistics alone have been known to be enough to pry open corporate vaults. But that's a subject of much controversy in legal circles. Some judges buy into it, and some don't. Just like the people here.

          This is something I think a well-made case can win on. Which is why Armando and others would like to see the case made, and made well.

          Legislation is an alternative route, and one we should be pursuing in parallel. We're stymied on the federal level at the moment, but there are states in which sympathetic forces hold sway. What's happening there? Anything? Or are we all standing outside the U.S. Capitol because it's the sexier story?

          •  Several questions for you (none)
            1. Does anyone know what the Ohio contract with Diebold and Triad says?  

            2. If we wanted to know the wording of that contract how would we find out?  

            3. Which public officials exactly are responsible for making the contract...which ones are responsible for making sure the contract is fair to Ohio's citizens?

            4. Regarding Holt's bill...do you have any links I could look at that discuss the history of this bill...when it was created, who supported it, etc.?

            Thanks for any answers to the above you may have.  I'm asking you because you seem to have some knowledge about these issues...not trying to be snarky...just really want to know.

            Also, as someone pointed out to me, I questioned you about your position on voting machines without having thoroughly read your intial post in this thread which pretty well laid out that postion.  I apologise and at the same time thank you for restating your position in a snark-free response to me.

            In answer to the question you pose, "...Or are we all standing outside the U.S. Capitol because it's the sexier story?"...I can tell you that although I will be standing in Lafayette Park in Washington, DC on 1/6 for a demonstration about this election, I don't find the idea of it sexy at all. Standing in the rain hundreds of miles from where I live to be in a sign-carrying crowd is NOT my idea of fun.

            I'm going because I feel very strongly that people who believe that racial disenfranchisement and secret software inside voting machines are wrong should go if they are able to.  I feel an obligation to support the reps I'm asking to put their careers on the line for this issue.  

            I'm going because I believe a picture is worth a thousand words...and I feel it's important to help create a picture that illustrates that the American people have NOT all been fooled and we're not going away until we get transparent, fair elections for all voters...not just the white, Republican ones.

            I guess I think that any political movement benefits from the wide variety of actions that different people bring to it.  I can't provide legal expertise...but I can be a warm body in the field-so that's what I do.

            •  I haven't seen it. (none)
              And I don't know what Ohio's public contracting law is like, but I'd imagine that it's a matter of public record. But I'd also guess that the contract itself is pretty benign.

              What's probably more interesting is what's not in the contract, like auditing and open-source requirements.

              I don't know who's the responsible contracting party on behalf of the jurisdictions using Diebold and Triad equipment and services. I imagine they'd have contracts with the elections authorities in each county that uses their equipment.

              Holt's bill can be reviewed online in the Thomas system. Search for the bill HR 2239.

              This link will direct you to a summary of the bill, its status, a list of cosponsors, etc.

              Holt's web site, of course, also has some info and this write-up.

              Plenty of good sites offering activist opportunities, as well. Just google "HR 2239" and go to town.

            •  One other question... (none)
              Why Lafayette Park on the 6th? All the action on the 6th will be 16 blocks away, at the Capitol. Are you marching? Or did you actually want to be outside of the White House because the action at the Capitol will be about counting votes for president, and so...?

              I guess I'm asking, why not outside the House, where the votes will be counted and any objections will be made?

              •  The demonstration is starting at 10:00 am (none)
                in LaFayette Park.  Cobb and Bonifaz will be speaking there.  Then the group will march together to Capitol Hill where Jesse Jackson, Sr and Cobb will speak.  That portion of the event is called a Defend Democracy Rally & Vigil.  The whole thing is coordinated with a Save Our Votes March which will be coming to DC from Maryland.

                So far, the action has been supported by United Progressives for Democracy, the Cobb/LaMarche campaign, Code Pink, D.C. Anti-War Network, Green Party of the U.S., Independent Progressive Politics Network, International Labor Communications Association, No Stolen Elections, Progressive Democrats of America, Rainbow/PUSH Coalition and Truth in Elections.

    •  core of democracy (none)
      I think the core of our democracy trumps all laws... I see it as more of a Constitutional matter that would require a judge to chose transparency over proprietary rights. Of course, I doubt too many winger judges would see it that way.
      •  All true. (none)
        But you have to ask them, first. And if they don't give you the answer you want, try again from a different angle.

        At the same time, you should be working to change the law, to remove their discretion from the equation.

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