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Stateside With Rosalea: Getting Flicked Off


Stateside With Rosalea: Getting Flicked Off

By Rosalea Barker

Last week was the worst week I've experienced since being here in the United States. Worse than the second week of September, 2001. The explosion at the hotel in Baghdad that housed the UN mission was part of the reason; the under-reported theft of democracy right here in the Bay Area of California was another.

While all the big fire engines are out attending to the recall election and the problems of electronic voting, the fire back at the station has gone relatively unnoticed. This story is important. Not that I'm a disinterested party, having walked many San Francisco precincts back in late 2001 and early 2002 distributing literature urging voters to approve a change to the charter of that city. That change was to allow instant runoff (aka ranked choice) voting to be used as a way to select the holders of offices such as mayor in that city.

In March 2002, the voters in San Francisco approved that change, making it illegal for the election of, for example, mayor, district attorney and sheriff (which are on the November 4 ballot) to take place using any other means. That was 18 months ago. Yet, on August 20, 2003, Judge James L. Warren of the San Francisco Superior Court ruled that, although it was now illegal for the city to conduct elections for those offices in any other way, it could go ahead and do so anyway. Cos the judge said so. (And Governor Gray Davis has the gall to say the Republicans have a way of stealing elections! Seems to me, heavily Democratic SF is stealing not just the election but democracy itself.)

Despite the scrolling banner on the Superior Court's website that says: "The Superior Court is pleased to make available Case Decisions it feels are o" (it stops scrolling at that point on my screen), the decision in this case is not on the website. The court did however allow media coverage, so the judge was shown in the evening news saying that although the election will now be held in an illegal manner, the election officer's claim that a ranked choice ballot could not be produced in time meant "the ultimate election outcome would be jeopardised" unless an illegal election was held. Did I mention that this change to the city charter was made *18* months ago?

Back in June this year, I went to one of the hearings the city's Elections Commission was conducting into the feasibility of holding a legal election. I arrived there late, just as the representative from the company that supplies SF's optical scan voting equipment was giving his presentation.

Election Systems and Sofware (ES&S), he said, was in the process of submitting an application to California's Secretary of State for approval of a new software system to implement ranked choice voting on the City's existing election equipment. The spokesman said that a four-person team could upgrade the 680 Eagles used in San Francisco over a period of two weeks. That would have given them plenty of time to submit the voting system for approval. For whatever reason, that approval never happened.

I ask you, is a country that cannot implement voter-mandated change to its election system within a period of eighteen months any country to be in charge of Iraq?

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