South Carolina

Democrats Pass on Challenge to Secret Vote Counting in SC

Democrats Pass on Challenge to

Secret Vote Counting in South Carolina

This is the place to affix the STAMP. Link

Michael Collins
“Scoop” Independent News
Washington, DC

South Carolinians mounted a serious protest to the onerous “Stamp Act” imposed on the colonies by British rulers. The act levied a tax to pay for the “Seven Years War” which established Great Britain as the world’s dominant colonial power. South Carolinians resisted funding their own domination through payment of the tax.

Today, the Palmetto state faces a challenge beyond the Stamp Act. Their state constitution is clear, if not elegant, in its definition of the basic elements of elections:

All elections by the people shall be by secret ballot,

but the ballots shall not be counted in secret.

Touch screen voting machines like those used throughout South Carolina are inherently private. Citizens and officials are barred form accessing the fundamentals of the voting machines. As a result, meaningful information on errors or fraud is off the table.

Once a voter touches the box next to their candidate, the machine takes over turning the vote into an electronic ballot that cannot be examined, even with access. This voting machine right of privacy is written into agreements signed by election officials all over the country. It’s called “faith based voting.” We vote and then have faith that the machines will do their job.

That adds up to a clear case of “ballots … counted in secret,” direct defiance of the prohibition of counting ballots in secret referenced above..

Challenging the Privacy “Rights” of Voting Machines

The obvious contradiction of the state law and the state’s privatized voting systems spurred voting rights, judicial reform and media activist Mark Adams of Florida to object strenuously. He began by writing John Edwards an open letter asking him to oppose the process. Absent a favorable response, on Wednesday of this week, he sent letters to each of the democratic candidates.

In his plea to Clinton, Edwards, Gravel, Kucinich, and Obama, Adams argued this point:

In case you are not aware, Article II, § 1 of the Constitution of South Carolina states, “the ballots shall not be counted in secret.” No one can see a computer count, and therefore, computers count in secret and using computers to count votes in secret violates South Carolina’s Constitution!

Will you take legal action in South Carolina to require that its upcoming Presidential primary is conducted in a manner which complies with the plain language expressed in South Carolina’s Constitution and with all Americans’ rights to make sure that our votes are counted accurately? Will you take action, or will you stand by and allow our votes to be counted in the equivalent of a secret smoky back room? Complete set of Mark Adams letters to the candidates.

Democrats Say No Go but Paul Supporters Know the Score

The letters informed, but they didn’t move any Democratic candidates to file suit for injunctive relief. There was real interest among Paul supporters in South Carolina. In general, the Paul campaign watches the voting process closely and with a skeptical eye.

In South Carolina, there were anecdotal reports of sudden increases in precinct vote counts at the last minute impacting Paul’s votes and after the fact reductions in vote totals for their candidate. But a Paul suit to stop a Democratic primary lacked the weight necessary for a serious hearing.

Will South Carolina remind Obama of New Hampshire? Image

Faith in the False Idol of Voting Technology

When voting machines are sold, the manufactures include a privacy clause that prevents in depth inspection of the machine software and methods of operation. You can buy it but the only people who can look inside are manufacturer representatives.

Kim Zetter of Wired Magazine reported on a comprehensive study done for Ohio on the iVotronic touch screens, the very machines everywhere in South Carolina. She noted that “the ES&S tabulation system and the voting machine firmware were rife with basic buffer overflow vulnerabilities that would allow an attacker to easily take control of the systems and ‘exercise complete control over the results reported by the entire county election system.'”

The study discovered that a hacker with just an infrared enabled Palm Pilot or cell phone can hack any of these voting machines with infrared ports. Once in, the hacker could alter memory, “ballot handling,” and manipulate other machine processes.

This news should have rocked the nation given the presence of touch screens in almost every state.

The iVotronic machines are the very same voting equipment that dropped a carefully estimated 14,000 votes for just one candidate for Congress in Florida’s 13th Congressional district in 2006. The problem was characterized as “machine malfunction” in the election contest filed with Congress in behalf of Democratic candidate Christine Jennings. Apparently, this was the type of “malfunction” that produces consistent results in just one direction, for just one candidate.

Maybe these recurring problems and design concerns are the reason voting machine vendors are reluctant to guarantee their products. Zero Guarantee from Vendors for Voting System’s Performance, P. Lehto)

Will Common Sense and the Law Prevail?

Not a chance! It’s not at all difficult to determine the clear intent of the South Carolina Constitution. The law means what it says, “the ballots shall not be counted in secret.” But doesn’t the U.S. Constitution state that “Article 1, Section 8. The powers of Congress. To declare war”?

So much for the English language and the law. We’re at the mercy of a justice system that genuflects before power and politics and embraces convenience. Will we be saved by judges who’ve created their own code, just like those Florida voting machines: “flip-flopping” every time in the direction of power and control, by the few against the rights of the many in a relentlessly consistent pattern that strips us of our most fundamental legal protections.

New Hampshire and South Carolina are just previews of February 5, “Super Tuesday” when primaries will be held in 24 states.

These states have voting and vote counting that is conducted in secret by machines made and serviced by private firms; and voting that cannot be easily and quickly verified. The citizens’ right to know is casually surrendered to e-voting manufacturers by the officials sworn to serve those very citizens.

Almost all of the states have restrictive recount laws that require a very close election, a 1% or less difference in some cases. This effectively bars recounts unless “malfunctions” or vote stealing is marginal. Even if election fraud or “machine malfunction” is suspected for very good reasons, the right to recount is limited to only elections where mistakes or stealing produce a very thin margin.

These touch screen “ballots” are nothing more than a computerized record (not a ballot). After the election, citizens almost always lack the right to examine that computerized records and are typically barred from reviewing the paper forms they mark for optical scan voting machines.

How can those elected claim to rule when they’re unable to prove the first and most fundamental requirement of an election – that they have the right to serve by having legitimately claimed a plurality or majority of the votes cast.

END

This article may be reproduced in part or in whole with attribution of authorship and a link to this article in “Scoop” Independent News.

“…the ballots shall not be counted in secret.”

..these ballots shall not be counted in secret.

South Carolina Constitution

An Appeal to John Edwards to Take a Stand for Voting Rights

Michael Collins
“Scoop” Independent News
Washington, DC

Media, election, and judicial reform advocate Mark Adams, JD, MBA of Tampa, Florida discovered something very important in the South Carolina Constitution. It provides for secret voting but bans secret vote counting.

All elections by the people shall be by secret ballot, but the ballots shall not be counted in secret. The right of suffrage, as regulated in this Constitution, shall be protected by laws regulating elections and prohibiting, under adequate penalties, all undue influence from power, bribery, tumult, or improper conduct. South Carolina Constitution, Article II, Section 1

The South Carolina primary occurs Saturday Jan. 19th for Republicans and the following Saturday the 26th for Democrats. With a recount in New Hampshire and the questions about that outcome, we may be looking at a series of questionable results in subsequent primaries. U.S. meddling in elections overseas has blown back to “the homeland.” Secret vote counting is one of the key elements driving questions and forms a core criticism of the various state election schemes.

In a Zogby Poll in August 2006, 92% of the respondents said yes to the question: “Citizens have the right to view and obtain information about how election officials count votes.” In the same poll of over 1000 registered voters, over half expressed little to no confidence in the 2004 elections.

Welcome to 2008.

On January 16, 2008, Mark Adams sent this email to candidate John Edwards and others in the campaign offering a perfect opportunity to strike a blow for voters of both parties to challenge secret vote counting.

“Subject: Senator Edwards, Will You Take Action to Make Sure that South Carolina‘s Elections Comply with its Constitution

“Senator Edwards:

“I heard your call for eliminating touch screen voting machines. Of course, being from South Carolina you are certainly aware of its use of touch screen voting machines. Last Friday afternoon, I looked into South Carolina’s use of the infamous iVotronic touch screen voting machines, and I discovered that it’s banned by South Carolina’s Constitution.

“Some of the key information from my article “South Carolina Elections Are UNCONSTITUTIONAL” I published on Monday January 14, 2008 on OpEdNews.com follows.

“Article II, § 1 of the Constitution of South Carolina states, “the ballots shall not be counted in secret.” Although there is case law which supports the right to have votes counted in public, this is the election integrity jackpot, a Constitutional provision prohibiting counting votes in secret! No more need to refer to case law, evidence, or logic to argue against secret vote counting, at least in South Carolina.

“Many are worried about election integrity. In fact, a Zogby poll from August of 2006 indicates that 92% of Americans are worried about our votes being counted in secret. See, Zogby Poll

“South Carolina is the best opportunity to make a case against allowing computers to count the votes in secret. I’ve discussed this with two leading election law advocates who have also brought election contests. They both think that this is the best opportunity to act that they have seen. The South Carolina Constitution prohibits secret vote counting! The election reform community expects one of the Presidential candidates to take action. Snip

“You know what to do, but to help expedite things, I suggest that you or your representative send a letter to the South Carolina State Election Commission pointing out that using touch screen computers to count the votes in secret violates the prohibition in Article II, § 1 against secret vote counting, and I would demand that they take immediate action to implement the use of paper ballots which are counted by hand in public to conduct the upcoming primary. I would notify them that you will take legal action as soon as possible to seek an injunction requiring that the election process comply with Article II or postponing the primaries until such time as they can be conducted in a Constitutional manner.” Snip

Carpe diem,

Mark A. Adams JD/MBA (Full letter here)

Doing the Same Thing Over and Over Again

In a very real sense, each primary will be about doing the same thing over and over again while expecting different results. We’ve got federally mandated and funded electronic voting machines throughout the United States thanks to the bipartisan Help America Vote Act and billions of taxpayer dollars. We have just a few voting machine types, with demonstrated security problems in every state. And we have the foundation for suspicion and disaffection with the political process through secrecy and obscurity in voting systems, regulations. All this is consistently dismissed by a political class irritated with the increasing demands for openness and accountability.

One more ingredient in the mix is the foreshortened primary season. We’re rushed to pick a final candidate through “super” Tuesdays designed to force a selection with months to go before the national conventions this summer. What do we really know about the leaders in the field? One thing for certain is that they’re the best funded of the lot. They have to be. The compressed primary schedule requires one thing above all others, money and lots of it.

So we’re on the precipice of what has to be the most important election in the nation’s history given the stakes and all we’ve got is the vulgar quatrain of anti democratic processes in place: heavily funded campaigns from private interests (i.e., legalized bribery); ongoing voter suppression of the poor and minorities; secret vote counting; and a rush to judgment that prevents real deliberation and debate. It’s another mission accomplished by The Money Party.

“Those few of you who still think that we can trust having our votes counted in secret will be happy to know that your view is shared by many powerful and influential people. For example, Joseph Stalin said, “Those who cast the votes decide nothing. Those who count the votes decide everything.” If you want to roll back the evolution of civilization from citizen influence over government to a form of feudalism, then you might as well quit reading now.”

Mark Adams, JD, MBA

END

VoteCount2008.org – Adams web page
Mark Adams at FCC hearings, Tampa.
South Carolina Elections Are UNCONSTITUTIONAL! Mark Adams