Tuesday, May 30, 2006


Fighting the Good Fight in Florida

The League of Women Voters is on the case.

If the LWV is fighting the good fight, that would be a welcome change. They've spent much of the last few years defending electronic voting.

I have my doubts as to whether this fight is a particularly good one. Yes, the law is clearly flawed. The two-tier system letting political parties off the hook and the failure to make exceptions for acts of God are clearly flaws.

But why-- I ask this with genuine puzzlement-- is it so bad to require that registration forms be turned in within a reasonable period of time? One could fulfill this requirement easily by having the week's registrations turned in to the office each Friday and to the Supervisor on Monday.

Granted, whatever the Florida Lege does has to be assumed to be suspect. Or maybe I am missing something.
you're missing something(s).
Baloney, Charles. The League has not been defending electronic voting. Wherever did you get that idea? Go to the League web site and read our position on the topic. Nuance, you know, nuance. Or maybe you don't do nuance?
The Florida law is a very obvious attempt emanating from the House of Bush who want their dear boy Jeb to be the next President,to force the League to stop registering voters. And it's worked. The enemies of open democracy know that the League is trying to do a difficult job without the resources it needs and will therefore not be able to meet their criteria. Florida Leagues have had to stop their voter registration drives.
This law is a weapon directed at the League, which will now have to put out money to pursue onerous law suits simply to re-instate their rights to register voters, suits which will be expensive and time consuming even with pro bono legal help.
In my county, the Office of Elections HIRES the league to register voters, actually pays good money for us to do this. Of course in Hawaii we don't feel the need to keep minorities from voting so we like to get as many people to the polls as possible. Why, we even let non-incarcerated felons vote! And the state just passed a "paper trail" voting law, which all of us feel is a good thing.
Alas, voter turnout remains poor, so that's why we're working hard to turn this state of affairs around. We're still interested around here in inclusiveness in democracy, silly us.
We're feeling the hot breath of the Bushes on our necks in other ways, too. A major League concern is with openness in government. One of our chapters (not in Hawaii) put on a forum, and the FBI investigated them claiming that they had not invited a government official to participate in the forum. I'm a local president who put on a forum, luckily containing a couple of government officials under our Republican governor, but I suppose I've been investigated too.
I recognize what's going on: we are being attacked on our strength; we're being swiftboated. I can see it now: "League members arrested on voter fraud charges."
Anyone out there who cares about clean and fair elections: please join the League and be active members.
Our Convention's in June. It should be a hot one.
Save democracy. I'm not kidding.
So, since you know what it is that I'm missing, I'm sure you'll tell me what it is, Anonymous.
Hattie, people who have something to say usually don't need to be belligerent in saying it. It's people who don't know what they're talking about who usually get hot.

The League may now have decided that electronic voting is not so good. But I arrived in good company at my opinion that the League was pro-electronic voting and very slow to understand what the problems with it were.

For example, Robert Lemos in CNetNews:

Many groups equated certification with security. In February 2004, the League of Women Voters dismissed calls for more security in the form of a VVPAT, choosing to put its faith in "the certification and standards process." Five months later, the group reversed itself, backing "voting systems and procedures that are secure, accurate, recountable and accessible."

For example, Diane Farsetta, writing for The Center for Media and Democracy says:

The mounting pressure led staunch HAVA advocates like the League of Women Voters to spend increasing amounts of time addressing electronic voting concerns. While maintaining that demands for paper receipts of each vote cast on e-voting machines are "extreme," "unnecessary," and "counterproductive," and stressing that their primary concerns are voter registration and accessibility, the League now devotes nearly all of its HAVA implementation web page to electronic voting articles.

For example, National Committee for Voting Integrity:

The League of Women Voters changes position by removing its endorsement of paperless direct recording electronic (DRE) voting machines after Dr. Barbara Simons, NCVI Committee member was successful in leading the effort to pass a resolution to amend their position at the League's convention held in Washington, DC. (June 21,2004)

If the League really sees the error of what it did from 2002-2004, great. But people who do nuance should be careful lest others conclude they are merely weaseling.
On the substantive issues:

1. It may well be that the Florida Lege is attempting to shut down registration drives. If so, the League should look to the civil rights movement, which successfully defeated such attempts. They faced--and overcame-- some significant obstacles.

2. From Phoenix Woman's link, I can't see why a voting drive would have to be shut down. Yes, the law is onerous. But it seems as if it can be overcome by organization: by using motivated volunteers and by carefully tracking voter registrations with the vigilance of FEDEX or UPS.

3. I think the League needlessly burned a lot of goodwill over HAVA. It's certainly my experience that calling out "baloney" is not a good way to start a conversation. It's my experience that LWV suffers from "smartest kid on the block"/"we know best" syndrome.

4. That certainly wouldn't keep me from supporting them, if I felt that they were doing a good thing. Easily bruised egos are the last thing needed in these dim days.
You do not understand our position. Again, I ask you to think about nuance.
I've looked the quotes over, and I fail to see where the League has been derelict in its duty. Blaming us for the frauds of others is dirty pool, Charles. This is Swiftboating, and I intend to discuss this matter at length with others at the National Convention so we can start taking measures to protect ourselves. Honesty is our #1 asset, and we swear by it.
In any case, the State of Hawaii has paper trail electronic voting, thanks in part to the pressure that the local Leagues have put on our Legislature.
I personally do not favor electronic voting systems, because they are very expensive, especially in the long run, they freqently break down, and above all they are too susceptible to tampering. That is my personal position, and I apologize for permitting a misunderstanding that the League is opposed to electronic voting per se.
Honest elections are what we want, and we don't care how we get them.
BTW If you want to join the League, our membership is open to all, men as well as women. Our numbers are down and yet everyone expects us to be there, registering voters, working at the polls, educating, running candidates' forums and all the rest of it. We active members are burning out from overwork at a time when the Republic faces a crisis. Please everyone reading this, join your local LWV Chapter!
Hattie, I hope you do show this thread around the LWV. Print it out. Make copies. Show it around.

This started out by me saying that the League has expended a fair amount of energy defending electronic voting. A reasonable response would be to prove me wrong by, for example, posting something from 2002-3 showing that the League was opposed to electronic voting.

But that's not what you did. You made a personally-insulting post claiming that "The League has not been defending electronic voting."

Rather than respond in kind, I gave you three examples from nonpartisan sources saying that the League has in fact been forced to change its stance because it eventually discovered that it is not at all "extreme" or "unnecessary" to ask for a non-tamperable audit trail for voting.

A reasonable person might say, "Yeah, well, ok. We didn't understand the computer issues well enough, so we were kind of pig-headed and arrogant in the beginning. But we eventually understood just how wrong we were to oppose verifiable balloting. So you're right, but your information is dated."

An unreasonable person would fling out accusations of "Swiftboating."

You have succeeded in permanently alienating a prospective member.

I hope when you raise the issue, you'll mention that little point.

Please, show your fellow members the thread and see what they think of it. If you can find even one person at senior levels to agree with you that your style of debate is acceptable, then the League deserves to become history.
But that's not what you did. You made a personally-insulting (How? I don't know you!) post claiming that "The League has not been defending electronic voting."
Well, we have not been defending it for quite a while. And note that the rank and file were up in arms at the National's statement why back when that electronic voting was reliable.National made a bad assumption: that we were dealing with honest people.
Rather than respond in kind, (!) I gave you three examples from nonpartisan sources saying that the League has in fact been forced to change its stance because it eventually discovered that it is not at all "extreme" or "unnecessary" to ask for a non-tamperable audit trail for voting.
Well, yes, we're a democratic organization. We changed our stance when we realized we were dealing with crooks.
And, as I mentioned, we now have paper trail voting in Hawaii.
Sorry you won't join us, but I have a hunch you would not have anyway.
Others, please join. We need help. We're under attack. The attack is on our honesty and integrity.
I can't say any more, because I'm too busy getting reading for the national convention, so I give you the last word, Charles.
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