Thursday, February 22, 2007

Brad Blog: False Dichotomies Being Used by Democrats...

"The False Dichotomies Being Used by Democrats and Their Public-Advocacy Group Supporters to Prop Up the Failings of the Holt Election Reform Bill"
Misrepresentation of the 'Opposition,' Fear of Failure, and a Bizarre, Unsubstantiated 'Civil Rights' Argument All Employed to Avoid Legitimate Debate on the Dangers of the Pending Legislation...

We've been discussing the pros and cons of Rep. Rush Holt's Election Reform bill (HR 811 [PDF]) since it dropped two weeks ago in the House.

There is, no doubt, much more to say about the specific pros and cons in detail here as we move forward. For the moment, allow me to first address three false dichotomies opportunistically and/or disingenuously and/or naively being used by supporters of Holt's legislation in order to help see it passed by Congress.

In doing so, I'll share some of what I've learned over the past several weeks via my personal investigations into why the Democrats who support the bill, along with their closely-allied public advocacy groups, are currently unable or unwilling to show the necessary courage to insist upon the banning of disenfranchising, failed DRE/touch-screen voting system technology from all American elections.

The inability, or unwillingness, of such groups to stand up and call for what most know to be the right thing is occurring despite the fact that most of those groups actually agree --- and will admit privately, if not always publicly --- that DRE technology has no place in our electoral system and is a grave menace to true Electoral Integrity.

Collectively, these three arguments are being used to shore up support for a bill which offers much good (DISCLOSURE: I participated in the drafting of the bill myself, and did what I could --- sometimes successfully, sometimes not --- to improve its language and provisions), yet ultimately may prove to be as dangerous as the disastrous Help America Vote Act (HAVA) and risks becoming known as HAVA 2 by 2008. And, as I've pointed out before, this time the Democrats won't have the Republicans or Bob Ney to blame.

It's Either Holt or Hand-Counted Paper Ballots...

The first of the three false dichotomies being forwarded by some of the bill's supporters is to suggest that there are only two choices: Pass the Holt bill 'as is,' or continue an unwinnable campaign for all hand-counted paper ballots (HCPB).

The now oft-repeated intimation is the very definition of a strawman, a canard, and a truly disingenuous false dichotomy. ...

While Hand-Counted Paper Ballots might be swell and offer maximum transparency and citizen oversight --- as well as not being nearly as difficult or unwieldy to accomplish as many under-informed folks may believe --- the majority of Holt detractors, including myself, are not fighting for hand-counted paper ballots at this time. Rather, we are fighting for a necessary ban on the failed and disenfranchising technology of DRE/touch-screen systems, which succeeded spectacularly in 2006 in ensuring that thousands (or perhaps millions) of legally registered voters were unable to cast a vote at all, much less have that vote counted either accurately or transparently.

Banning DREs does not mean all votes must be counted by hand. Most supporters of the Holt Bill know that --- or should, if they don't --- yet seem to be using the false argument when convenient to distract from the real shortcomings and concerns of the Holt legislation.

Optical-scan systems, while also presenting their own security and accuracy concerns, could easily and (fairly) safely be used with publicly-disclosed source code and a mandatory random hand-audit protocol of a sufficient number of ballots to achieve 99% scientific certainty that the reported results of any optically-scanned election are correct.

I say this knowing that those who support nothing less than 100% HCPB would likely disagree.

In either case, suggesting that those who understand the need for a complete ban on failed DRE technology are actually demanding HCPB is a cheap and unsubstantiated political tactic, unworthy of this necessary debate. It serves only to confuse at a time when all well-meaning Election Integrity advocates (and I include Holt in that group) ought to be having a legitimate discussion/debate about these most important matters...

BLOGGED BY Brad Friedman ON 2/14/2007 12:00PM
Holt Election Reform Bill Continues to be Supported by Democrats and Their Public Advocacy Groups, While Being Criticized by the Election Integrity Community
Flawed Bill Continues to Fast-Track While Supporters Ignore the Concerns of Those Who Know the Issue Best
HR811 On Schedule to Become 'HAVA 2' Unless Radically Amended, Improved...
Blogged from the road by Brad Friedman...

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