Book Reviews | Gordon Campbell | News Flashes | Scoop Features | Scoop Video | Strange & Bizarre | Search

 


Which State Did Not Have DOJ Election Observers?

Mission Impossible - Federal Observers & Voting Machines


by Lynn Landes
http://www.ecotalk.org/
11/26/02
See also…
SCOOP AMERICAN COUP 2002 ARCHIVES

Just when you thought you couldn't get any more cynical. Guess which state did not have Federal Observers assigned to it by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) for the 2002 mid-term election?

If you guessed Florida, congratulations, you're living in the real world... depressing, but real.

No state could match the staggering number of Voting Rights complaints due to voting machines and other shenanigans as Florida did in the 2000 presidential election. Yet the Bush Administration's DOJ, under Attorney General John Ashcroft, did not see fit to send Federal Observers to Florida to monitor the voting process in 2002, although Observers were sent to several other states. This is surprising news to many people and organizations who were told by DOJ officials that "Justice" would be down there in force.

Even if they had been sent to Florida, how would Federal Observers "observe" the accuracy of the voting machines there?

"They wouldn't know that," says Nelldean Monroe, Voting Rights Program Administrator for the U.S. Office of Personnel Administrator (OPM). Her agency is responsible for the recruiting and training of Federal Observers who are sent by the DOJ to monitor elections if violations of the Voting Rights Act are suspected.

In an email, Monroe elaborated, "The only observance of the tallying of the votes is when DOJ specifically requests observers to do so. This rarely occurs, but when it does, it is most often during the day following the election when a County conducts a canvass of challenged or rejected ballots. In this case, Federal observers may observe the County representatives as they make determinations on whether to accept a challenged or rejected ballot. Federal observers may also observe the counting of the ballots (or vote tallying) when paper ballots are used."

In other words, Federal Observers can only observe people counting paper ballots, not machines. Monroe confirmed what this writer suspected...there is no training and no opportunity for Federal Observers to observe the accuracy of voting machines.

It's really an enforcement issue. The 15th Amendment to the Constitution is enforced through the provisions of the Voting Rights Act. And the Act could be the 'silver bullet' for any litigation in federal court to end the use of voting machines.

Under Section 8 of the Voting Rights Act, 42 U.S.Code § 1973f, Federal Observers may be authorized to observe "... whether persons who are entitled to vote are being permitted to vote ...(and) whether votes cast by persons entitled to vote are being properly tabulated..." Furthermore, under "Prohibited acts" in §1973i, the "Failure or refusal to permit casting or tabulation of vote"...can result in civil and criminal penalties. "No person acting under color of law shall fail or refuse to permit any person to vote who is entitled to vote...(and) Whoever...knowingly and willfully falsifies or conceals a material fact... shall be fined not more than $10,000 or imprisoned not more than five years, or both."

Voting machines violate those provisions. Vote casting and tabulation take place inside of a box. Federal Observers can't observe "... whether persons who are entitled to vote are being permitted to vote ...(and) whether votes cast ...are being properly tabulated.." And voting machines by their very design "conceals a material fact." State-of-the-art voting machines have indecipherable source codes and internal mechanisms that are hidden from inspection by design, and bogus legal contracts that protect the proprietary rights of private companies. Voting machines have known error rates and extensive documentation that they can fail "to permit the casting or tabulation of votes."

In general, voting machines have a high degree of vulnerability for technical malfunctions and criminal malfeasance. The unavoidable conclusion is that voting machines make the role of the Federal Observer - moot, and in that regard, the Voting Rights Act - unenforceable.

So it would seem that the use of voting machines is in violation of federal law...and OMPs policy could make it a culpable partner in this violation. The 'smoking gun' is "concealment." Voting machines conceal what they do and how they do it. They are not transparent. They can't be observed.

It's interesting to note that recent lawsuits by voting rights organizations (ACLU, Common Cause, NAACP, etc.) against the use of the old "antiquated" voting machines, are indirectly endorsing state-of-the-art voting machine technology. These groups appear unaware that they're litigating away the rights of American citizens to open elections for, by, and of the people. What are they thinking?

The U.S. Constitution should be honored and federal laws obeyed. Let's give Federal Observers a " Mission Possible" - votes cast and counted by human beings, not secret technology.

************

* - Lynn Landes is a freelance journalist. She writes a weekly column which is published on her website http://www.EcoTalk.org. Lynn's been a radio show host, a regular commentator for a BBC radio program, and news reporter for DUTV in Philadelphia, PA. Lynn Landes, 217 S. Jessup Street, Philadelphia, PA 19107 (215) 629-3553 / (215) 629-1446 (FAX) lynnlandes@earthlink.net


© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Top Scoops Headlines

 

Werewolf: Living With Rio’s Olympic Ruins

Mariana Cavalcanti Critics of the Olympic project can point a discernible pattern in the delivery of Olympics-related urban interventions: the belated but rushed inaugurations of faulty and/or unfinished infrastructures... More>>

Live Blog On Now: Open Source//Open Society Conference

The second annual Open Source Open Society Conference is a 2 day event taking place on 22-23 August 2016 at Michael Fowler Centre in Wellington… Scoop is hosting a live blog summarising the key points of this exciting conference. More>>

ALSO:

Buildup:

Gordon Campbell: On The Politicising Of The War On Drugs In Sport

It hasn’t been much fun at all to see how “war on drugs in sport” has become a proxy version of the Cold War, fixated on Russia. This weekend’s banning of the Russian long jumper Darya Klishina took that fixation to fresh extremes. More>>

ALSO:

Binoy Kampmark: Kevin Rudd’s Failed UN Secretary General Bid

Few sights are sadder in international diplomacy than seeing an aging figure desperate for honours. In a desperate effort to net them, he scurries around, cultivating, prodding, wishing to be noted. Finally, such an honour is netted, in all likelihood just to shut that overly keen individual up. More>>

Open Source / Open Society: The Scoop Foundation - An Open Model For NZ Media

Access to accurate, relevant and timely information is a crucial aspect of an open and transparent society. However, in our digital society information is in a state of flux with every aspect of its creation, delivery and consumption undergoing profound redefinition... More>>

Keeping Out The Vote: Gordon Campbell On The US Elections

I’ll focus here on just two ways that dis-enfranchisement is currently occurring in the US: (a) by the rigging of the boundary lines for voter districts and (b) by demanding elaborate photo IDs before people are allowed to cast their vote. More>>

Ramzy Baroud: Being Black Palestinian - Solidarity As A Welcome Pathology

It should come as no surprise that the loudest international solidarity that accompanied the continued spate of the killing of Black Americans comes from Palestine; that books have already been written and published by Palestinians about the plight of their Black brethren. In fact, that solidarity is mutual. More>>

ALSO:


Get More From Scoop

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Top Scoops
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news