[EM] Legal Analysis of HR811 & Brennan Center Think-Tank Analysis of HR811
Abd ul-Rahman Lomax
abd at lomaxdesign.com
Thu Jun 14 10:18:27 PDT 2007
I want to preface this additional comment by
stating my interest. My overall concern is the
reform of how societies make collective
decisions; in this, election methods and election
process are details, even small details. (In
direct deliberative process, which is of critical
concern to me, election methods are not terribly
important. For example, deliberative process
will, if the members care, converge on the
Condorcet winner and is actually even more
sophisticated than that. However, it's important
that the election method community be aware of
the larger issues, and so I've become involved
with that community. And the whole topic of
fairness of elections and election process
I'm not an expert on election methods or process;
I have some experience and now some study by
exposure to the writing and opinions of those who
*are* experts, but my comments should be taken as
being made by, to some degree, an outsider who
thinks independently. As an outsider, my ideas
come, sometimes, from a new perspective and could
thus be useful; on the other hand, I may be
missing critical information and may err in this or that.
On this particular issue, HR 811, I have been
familiar for some time with some of the issues,
and I have strong opinions, based to some degree
on experience, about the whole topic of DREs,
which I consider to have been a serious mistake
from the beginning. However, HR 811 is not
establishing the use of DREs, it is regulating
them and setting up a means that would, properly
monitored, allow us to measure the performance of
DREs, which measurement could eventually lead to
a ban, if appropriate. It's my opinion that,
while HR 811 does not prevent all possible forms
of election manipulation through DREs and how
they are programmed, it makes it highly likely
that such manipulation on a significant scale,
enough to shift election results, would be
discovered. This does not, by itself, solve the
problem. We will still need to be vigilant and to
act to ensure that discovered problems are
addressed, that perpetrators of fraud are
identified and prosecuted, and that if there are
incompetent election officials, they are likewise
identified and replaced. HR 811 gives us tools
that can allow this to be done, it does not
itself do it. It is not the complete solution,
but it is a very important start, and that is why
I've decided to support it fully.
How did I come to this position? Well, Kathy Dopp
reported the controversy to the Range Voting
list, in which I am an active participant. I
looked at the blog I'm quoting because it was
cited by a critic of HR 811 as an example of
telling arguments. I looked at the blog and,
instead of cogent arguments, I found polemic
exaggeration, and, indeed, misrepresentation. I
did not go to the blog as a supporter of HR 811,
I was not hostile to criticism of it.
Now, that a proponent of a view uses false
arguments supporting it is no proof that the view
is false. Those of us who support Range Voting
have our own enthusiastic supporters who argue
vociferously, pulling in every argument they can
imagine, including ones which are utterly bogus,
and even insulting those who disagree with them.
However, it is telling that six of the "seven"
serious problems in the blog in question, cited
by a less polemic writer as a source for
information on the problems, disappeared or faded
greatly in significance when examined in detail
and carefully. Are there any *other* problems?
The one remaining problem was the allegation that
paper ballots need not be available to voters until 2010.
At 02:48 AM 6/14/2007, Kathy Dopp wrote:
>On 6/13/07, Abd ul-Rahman Lomax <abd at lomaxdesign.com> wrote:
> > I reviewed, on the Range Voting list, a blog that criticized HR 811.
> > On that blog, it was claimed that the requirement of HR 811 that
> > voters must be, on request, provided with a paper ballot to fill out,
> > would not take effect until 2010. I could find nothing about this in
> > the text of the bill, the latest I could find, as reported out of
> > committee, which would otherwise be effective for November 2008 elections.
> > Does anyone have more information on that point?
>It's right in the bill.
>6) Massive voter disenfranchisement caused by
>broken machines will remain in 2008 and beyond.
>An excellent provision in HR 811 when it was
>introduced was a requirement for emergency paper
>ballots to be available in case machines break
>down as they always do, and as we saw week
>after week during the 2006 election cycle.
>Recent elections have seen untold numbers of
>registered voters turned away from the polling
>place because the DREs broke down or
>malfunctioned. So, having emergency paper
>ballots on hand is absolutely essential.
>But that provision is no longer present in the
>current official version. (Oddly, it was still
>in the version approved by the committee, and
>the question remains why it is no longer in the
>official version destined to go to the floor.)
I'm not at all sure what is going on here. While
how the committee-approved bill allegedly
differing from that is going to the floor is
mysterious, it seems to be moot, for it appears
that the provision regarding emergency paper
ballots is entirely replaced by a provision that
voters may request a paper ballot, which seems
entirely adequate to me. However, the writer then
makes his comment about implementation date, which is the issue I asked about.
>Instead, the bill now requires that paper
>ballots be offered to any voter who wants one.
>This provision would allow voters to choose
>paper ballots when the machines are broken or
>for any other reason. Thats good. However
>unlike the original provision, this option wont
>take effect until 2010, and it wont ever apply
>to early voting, even after 2010.
Now, this writer is clearly disposed to
complaining about any uncrossed t and undotted i
in the bill, so to speak, so he is looking for
problems, and thus perhaps disposed to err in
thinking he has found one. But was there any
basis to this other than a misreading? Is this
idea being promoted by others? Or has, indeed,
some new implementation date exception been added
somewhere in the text. Given that it could be
*crucial* in 2008, I don't think we should assume
that everything is hunky-dory without very
carefully looking into the charge, or at least
attempting to find the source of it.
I'll rummage around a bit.
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