Here's the money quote from an email out of the NJ Attorney General's office:
"Title 19 [NJ's election statute] does not currently make any provisions for a voter verifiable paper trail, therefore no such device can be attached or used in an election in the State."
NJ election law is utterly outdated, but this, from the AG's office is ridiculous. The law says nothing about electronic voting machines let alone printers.
You're right - HAVA was vague and allowed states to spend federal money on systems that should never have been certified in the first place. It's a scam and the Democrats are complicit. Reminds me of, let's see . . . the war in Iraq, the bankruptcy bill, the patriot act . . . the list goes on.
But the privatization of elections is the big enchilada, and sometimes it feels like the great untold story - the silent disenfrachisement of voters all over the country.
And there's another piece of this story I've recently been made aware of - that there's been a gradual but rapid decline in the number of the nation's voting precincts over the past few years - something like a 25% decrease. This means that precincts are now larger and more centralized, which makes the use of paper ballots unappealing to election officials.
To me, if there's anything worth fighting for, it's auditable, recountable, elections. And as far as I can tell that can't happen without paper.
Yet I feel like a voice in the wilderness. Again, where are the Democrats on this? Where are the moderate Republicans who are probably just as vulnerable to election tampering? Why doesn't anyone seem to care about the loss of our most sacred civic right?
Here in oh-so-blue New Jersey our state government - from the attorney general's office, to the most liberal Dems in the state assembly and state senate, to local county election officials, you name it - is actively pushing the continued purchase of electronic voting machines with no voter-verified paper ballot. Our machines count the vote, yes, but we have no way of knowing the accuracy of the count.
And where is Corzine on this, you might be wondering. So far, nowhere to be found. His gubernatorial campaign is asking activists to put on house parties for him on "election reform" but there's not a peep from him on the trashing of elections here in New Jersey. Not a word. As a senator, he's signed on to the most toothless election reform bill in the Senate. There's no evidence that if he's elected governor we'll get anything more than lip service from him on how the votes are counted in our state.
Why is NJ so blue? Well, the Democratic Party is riddled with fraud, so that helps. They have things all sewn up. But it's also because there are lots of educated, thoughtful, conscientious people living here who are true compassionate conservatives and vote the Dem line because it's the lesser of the evils. And, guess what? These folks have tried suing the state, they've tried lobbying their government at every level on this issue, they've tried everything. And they've been lied to, they've been patronized and condescended to by the people in power - even and especially their "allies."
When we demanded that Sequoia Pacific provide a printer for the electronic voting machine - the Advantage - that was purchased by 2/3 of the state's counties, with the state's blessing and encouragement (so they could spend their HAVA $$$), Sequoia lied to county officials and said it would provide a printer so voters could verify their vote before casting it, and a paper recount could occur to audit the machines and do a recount in a close election. Sequoia promised these printers a year ago, and they're still not even in the pipeline but the state continues to recommend these machines.
In fact, the NJ Attorney General's office recently told a county it could not buy machines that generated a voter-verified paper ballot. Even though that's what the county officials wanted to do. The AG's office said the machines didn't qualify because they generated a paper ballot! This is utter nonsense, but that's what's going down in New Jersey - the state is saying verified voting isn't even allowed.
Sequoia Pacific spends a shitload of $ marketing its product here in NJ. Looks to me like the attorney general was bought, some county officials were bought, who knows. There's no other explanation for their resistance to machines voters can trust.
This is a long and complicated story. The story of HAVA, federal dollars, the rush by states to spend that money under deadline, and the complexities of electronic voting machines - what they do or don't do, who certifies them, etc.
This document details the truths about HAVA and electronic voting machines. Unfortunately, it's 70 pages long. Still well worth looking at and mining for infomation.
June 9 and 10 are lobby days in DC for verified voting to support passage of federal legislation that would give voters a crack at fair elections (at least at the level of the voting technology). If you can make it to DC on Thursday, go. If you can make it to your congressperson's district office on Friday, go. Tell them why you care about how votes are counted in this country.
The issue of verified voting is possibly the most important one of all. Other issues we care about - social security, health care, the "war on terror," the erosion of our civil liberties, the likely return of the draft in some "palatable" form (my, how the list goes on!) - pale in comparison, because unless you can count the votes, public opinion on any of these will not matter.
Elections won't matter.
Working for candidates won't matter.
Redistricting won't matter.
Sites like this won't matter.
Unless you can count the votes, you're lost, truly lost.
"School districts can choose to release your name, address, and other basic information . . . to certain types of nonschool groups--like military recruiters . . . . Schools can release directory information without your permission, unless your parents (or you, if you are 18 or over) ask that the information not be released. They must notify you of this right to "opt out." Usually this is done at the beginning of each school year."
I agree this is a seminal article, and with Chris's assessment that things look very bleak indeed. Some of the other responses here have pointed to anti-corporate sentiment in the South and the heartland as a way of winning folks to the progressive cause. But there's a real danger there.
If you rely on anti-corporate / anti-Wall Street sentiment, the Anschutzes and Scaifes and the Roves and Gillespies will think nothing of turning that screw so it hits the Jews. The Jews will be blamed for:
debt - personal and national
Arab anger, war in the Middle East
pacifism (unpatriotic, you know)
pick your problem
Any economic or cultural problem can be pinned on the Jews. And the Right's theocratic base believes in the anti-Christ and the need to root out all non-white, non-Christian elements.
From the perspective of the Right, anti-Semitism is an easy strategy, and it doesn't take much for it to reappear in full force. It's not the only thing I'm worried about, of course, but it should be a concern.
. . . rubbing the belly of my new dog; explaining the meaning of "Catch 22" to my 10 year old and watching him get it; watching the sunrise over the snowy fields here in central NJ; snuggling with my husband night after night; listening to India Arie; the silence in the house when the kids leave for school and my "other work" can begin; knowing that I'm using everything I've got to build a better future for all; and knowing I'm not alone. Oh, and Pema Chodron, who reminds us that the work isn't about happiness, at least not the way most of us think of it.