February 18, 2009 - Counting the votes
Paper: Times-Standard ( Eureka, CA)
Title: Counting the votes
Date; February 18, 2009
Author: Jake Pickering/For the Times-Standard
”Unthinking respect for authority is the greatest enemy of truth.” -- Albert Einstein.
On Jan. 13, the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved Registrar of Voters Carolyn Crnich's proposal to replace the infamous Diebold's inaccurate optical ballot scanning machine technology with similarly questionable electronic voting equipment from HART InterCivic.
According to the Times-Standard, “The proposal calls for the county to purchase new optical scan machines and vote tabulating software from HART for a total of more than $600,000, all of which would come from state and federal programs ...”
Local elections watchdog Dave Berman wrote the following in his Jan. 3 -- Times-Standard column titled “Hand-Counting Ballots Can Work:” “Forgoing touch-screen machines in favor of optical scanners was a false alternative. Both types of machines have been repeatedly discredited, and both types count in secret, requiring the public's blind trust without providing any rational basis for confidence in reported results ...”
As this publication's readers are no doubt already aware, in recent years in Humboldt County there have been several political races decided by a margin of less than 100 votes. In June of 2008, I was a candidate in one of these very close contests.
On election night last June (after the official final results were reported), I, Jake Pickering, had won a seat on the Humboldt County Democratic Central Committee by a mere margin of four votes.
Three weeks after election night, I received a phone call from the Elections Office suggesting that I go online to review the revised results, which I promptly did, discovering that the official final revision now showed me trailing by only 14 votes.
Needless to say, I was disappointed, but not discouraged by any means. I was reminded of the fact that even though Humboldt County's voters cast paper ballots, those ballots are counted electronically using secret proprietary tabulation software that is notoriously unreliable and inaccurate, to say the least.
Some of my supporters urged me to challenge the official tally and demand a manual recount, which I chose not to do, as I personally decided that helping Democrat Barack Hussein Obama become the 44th president of the United States was far more important than entering into a dispute over minor election results here at home in Humboldt.
And, regardless, as I am a progressive political candidate who has always refused to accept campaign contributions of any amount from anyone, my working class income did not provide me with the luxury of being able to spend thousands of dollars out of my own pocket for a potential manual recount.
Ever since the U.S. Congress approved the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) boondoggle -- which requires that local governments administer their public elections using electronic voting equipment, in exchange for federal funds -- an immense amount of irrefutable evidence has been accumulated proving that the true purpose of HAVA was never to help the voters of our nation at all, but instead to further enrich the corporate vendors who were not only supplying these questionable electronic tabulation technologies, but who were also supplying large amounts of corporate campaign cash to “our” incumbent members of Congress in exchange for the awarding of lucrative government contracts and .
The Board of Supervisors' unfortunate decision to unanimously approve continued compliance with HAVA's ridiculous requirements, at the expense of public confidence in Humboldt County's official election results, is a mistake that should be reversed.
Please exercise your First Amendment rights by contacting your district Supervisor, and (politely, please) ask them to reconsider. Contact the Humboldt County Elections Office as well at (707) 445-7481, and ask Carolyn Crnich to change course and instead put forth an alternative proposal for the hand-counting of paper ballots in all future Humboldt County elections. Stand up and be counted, people. Demand that your votes be counted accurately. It is your right.
The perceived legitimacy of our local democratic process is vital, and predictably, incumbent elected politicians are not at all likely to call into question the system that facilitated their election to public office in the first place.
That's where we come in. And the truth of the matter is -- the voters of Humboldt County are demanding change! We want our paper ballots counted by hand, in the open, by members of our community, without the “assistance” of corporate personnel and their discredited technological trickery. As the wise and talented Woody Guthrie once said, “This land is your land”
Jake Pickering is an Employment and Training social worker with the CalWORKs Welfare-to-work Program. Jake has been an employee of the Humboldt County Department of Health and Human Services - Social Services Branch since 2001. He lives in Eureka.
Record Number: 11729251
(c) 2009 Times-Standard. All rights reserved. Reproduced with the permission of Media NewsGroup, Inc. by NewsBank, Inc