Chair of the NH Fair Elections Committee
New Hampshire Diebold-lovers and voting machine apologists like to point to our paper ballot hand count recounts in order to rationalize outsourcing the counting of 80-90% of our votes to private corporate interests using secret vote-counting technologies. They say we need these secret vote-counting privatized machines on election night to spare our election officials the "burden" of staying late to count the ballots. They say, what's the problem? We can always count the paper ballots by hand in a recount.
Hmmmm...Look at what happens to the paper ballots between Election Night Diebold count and the hand count recount. Watch the video. Do you feel the recount is secure?
Chain of Custody: Butch & Chase 1 of 2A road trip video made by clean voting activists of New Hampshire
See more BlackBoxVoting Videos
Here is the truth: Publicly observable, hand counts on ELECTION NIGHT are the ONLY secure way to ensure the integrity of election results. There is no Butch and Hoppy show that way. There are no high-speed chases led by Butch and Hoppy with our paper ballots in their van as they try to elude citizen oversight.
Get it right on Election Night. Counting the votes is the "burden" of democracy. If our election officials and state legislators can't handle this "burden" then they ought to step down. NH Legislators, under the advise and guidance of NH Deputy Secretary of State David Scanlan, this year alone killed five important bills that would have protected our elections against Diebold-controlled secret vote-counting. See below the list of bills the Election Law Committee killed, at the recommendation of the Chair of that committee.
If NH legislators and election officials at the state and local levels think we can't handle the "burden" of counting our votes, maybe it's time for them to go and make room for others who believe we need to and will do whatever it takes to protect our democracy.
Click to view video below, and scroll down to see full list of election law bills killed in Committee and by the full House in 2007.
Bills Killed by NH Election Law Committee Chair
HB136: would have required the Ballot Law Commission (BLC) to apply a standard for approval of voting technology: "Before approving any voting machine or device, the ballot law commission shall, following a public hearing, find that there is clear and convincing evidence that the voting machine or device being examined has been designed and manufactured with adequate safeguards to insure the integrity of election results."
HB138: would have required full public disclosure of voting technology information (Deputy Secretary of State Scanlan, representing industry interests rather than voter interests, argued "we can't require disclosure because the vendor won't go for it" and "we can't make drastic changes like this too quickly".
HB141: would have allowed voters to choose paper over vapor: "The use of such (voting) machines or devices so authorized shall be valid for all purposes, provided that the city or town adopts a procedure whereby each voter is given the option of bypassing the voting machine or device and having his or her paper ballot counted by an election official." Secretary Gardner in testimony supporting the bill to the legislature argued that allowing people to choose the manner of having their vote counted is an essential element of grassroots democracy, and this would allow election officials to better fulfill the will of the electorate.
HB192 -FN: would have required election night checks and balances on voting machine counts, by requiring a parallel hand count on election night of at least one race for all machine count towns "At each polling place using a voting machine or device to count ballots, the election officials shall count the votes cast for at least one contested office on the ballot. At the discretion of the moderator, election officials may count the votes cast for additional offices." This particular bill is a check and balance the NH Fair Elections Committee had in 2006 requested be included in the SoS Election Procedure Manual, but the office of the Secretary of State refused to do so.
HB574 -FN-L: would have required all machine count jurisdictions to preserve electronic vote data held on the memory cards used in voting machines for the 22 months required by federal law. This would have clarified that e-vote data falls within this requirement for preservation of voting records, which Asst. Attorney General Jim Kennedy has already stated is the case. In other words, many places in NH that allow the vendor to erase vote data from the memory cards are already in violation of federal law but this state law would have made this absolutely clear.
Bill Passed by NH Election Law Committee Chair
HB285: sets up a committee to work on election technology - a committee that has no citizen representation, whose members are all appointed, and which has no mandate to even consider voting rights (citizen oversight, checks and balances) but rather to take as a given that elections should be run by technology.
In short, it doesn't take much in NH to maintain the status quo. Just a few strategically placed individuals in the right offices and positions, and the industry interests are protected.
On the other hand, it is a local decision to use voting machines or to hand count, so all we need to do is convince 300+ local officials that they have betrayed our democracy by choosing Diebold over citizen-controlled elections. Small task.
Nancy Tobi is cofounder, former Chair, website editor for Democracy for New Hampshire (DFNH), and Chair of the NH Fair Elections Committee. Nancy is the author of numerous articles on election integrity, including "The Gifts of HAVA: Time to Ask for a Refund," "What's Wrong with the Holt Bill," "We're Counting the Votes: An Election Preparedness Kit," and "Hands-on Elections: An Information Handbook for Running Real Elections, Using Real Paper Ballots, Counted by Real People". Her article about election reform fallacies is included in the April 2008 book "Losers Take All" edited by Mark Crispin Miller.
You can find more videos posted by Nancy on her YouTube Channel.