Tuesday, September 24, 2019


Today is National Voter Registration  Day. But if you’re not yet concerned about voting rights, you should be. Here’s why. According to The Nation of June, 2017, writing about the administration’s planned attack on voting rights, the Appropriations Assistance Commission voted to defund the Election Assistance Commission, the DOJ instructed all states that it was reviewing voter registration list maintenance in each state, demanding to know how they were planning to remove voters from the rolls, the White House commission on election integrity asked all 50 states for detailed data including full first and last names, dates of birth, last four of their socials, voting history, etc., and the administration named a member of the Heritage Foundation as a member of the Commission.

From its inception, there have been repeated efforts to combat cross check, an outsourced corporate system of arbitrarily striking alledgedly "fraudulent" voters off the rolls, which according to Greg Palast writing for The Rolling  Stone and Salon scratched 7 million mostly minority voters off the rolls in 2016.

More recent news articles have pointed to endemic gerrymandering of House districts;  repeat patterns of unavailable, or scarce voting machines,  reiterations of hacked voting machines, all of them Republican-owned and using proprietary codes. There is the recent Florida decision allowing felons to vote, only to disenfranchise them yet again.

Now you see it, now you don’t

There are stories of eliminated precincts, particularly in poorer districts, of hours-long waits on lines exposed to the vagaries of weather: rain, excessive sun and heat, etc, in black and college student precincts. Recently in Georgia, we saw the Republican Secretary of State, Brian Kemp, oversee his own election. And in California, the Secretary of State is about to certify BMDs, ballot-marking devices. These are Republican owned electronic machines using proprietary code, which allow the voter to make selections on a touchtone screen; these selections are visible under glass for the voter to view, but the bar code at the top of the ballot is unreadable for the voter to verify, and it’s that bar code that’s fed into the voting machine.

The subject of election integrity is a complex one. It touches on voting machine vulnerabilities, hacked computers, it touches on algorithmic voter manipulation (cf. Cambridge Analytica), certification of systems, tabulation audits, digital image scanners, hand marked paper ballots, outsourced elections, forensic investigation, hand counts, election theft, votes deliberately not counted, verifiable voting, election observers, and most especially on voting rights, and voter suppression, especially in heavily black districts and emblemized by the Supreme Court decision not to renew a key provision of the Voting Rights Act, and by the Citizen's United decision.

The origins of problems adversely affecting election integrity can be traced to mounting polarization between parties, and to America’s long history of Jim Crow, a system based on implicit racism, and on the Republican Party’s agenda of blocking voters who might be inclined to vote Democratic, namely the poor, the non-White, and the imprisoned (keeping in mind the trend of the prison system that disproportionately incarcerates poor people of color.) These efforts are patently obvious in such maneuvers as “cross check,” gerrymandering, and outsourcing to Republican business owners the manufacture, and proprietary coding of voting machines. At issue here is the conflict of interest between profit and election theft motivations, and the integrity of voting itself. Proprietary ownership of voting apparatus is clearly in conflict with the very principles of voting integrity at the heart of any Democracy. Kollibri Sonnenblume addressing Democrats in Counterpunch writes: “You’ve got to make sure your people can vote and that their votes are counted….This is your mission….Your leadership is [not going] to do the right thing. Go there and do it yourself….If Trump holds office after 2020, it won’t be because he won. It will be because he stole it again.”

And yet, some Americans still refer to their Democracy, whereas taken together, all these impediments to transparent voting clearly place election integrity in a compromised light, at best offering American voters a broken down, undependable system for exercising their inalienable citizens’ right to make their voices heard. Especially in districts that tend to vote Democratic.

These questions may keep you as perplexed and vexed as this writer. But help is on the way. The voting rights task force announces its third annual Election Integrity Conference, “The Coming 2020 Election Crisis: in Paper We Trust.” The speaker line-up includes activists, researchers, experts, and reporters from around the country— some of the heavy hitters who have concerned themselves with this subject for 30 years or more, among them Bob Fritrakis, Harvey Wasserman, and Emily Levy.

The conference takes place in Berkeley, scheduled for Saturday and Sunday, October 5 and 6, from 10 AM to 6 PM to be held at the South Berkeley Senior Center, 2939 Ellis Street, (cross street Ashbury). Be there.

For more information  go to:  https://nvrtf.org/2019-nvrtf-conference/conference-speakers-for-the-coming-2020-election-crisis-in-paper-we-trust/, and to reserve your early bird tickets go to: https://nvrtf.org/event/national-voting-rights-task-force-3rd-election-integrity-conference/

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