Jonathan Simon on the Brennan Report and HR 550

Election Integrity activists must be very careful about allowing the Brennan Report to be parlayed into a convenient bipartisan rush (sorry) for the shelter of Rep. Holt’s proposed bill HR550.

Please remember, the very cynical syllogism still holds, Brennan or no Brennan: Election Rigging is The Goose That Lays The Golden Eggs; as long as the right can continue to rig (and Holt certainly permits that), they need not fear the electorate; hence, given their governing majority in Congress, they will not kill the Golden Goose, no matter how much apparent “pressure” is brought to bear. With their power secured by compromised elections, all such apparent pressure is illusory. So we can conclude with confidence about federal election “reform” legislation: if it passes, it won’t work; if it would work, it won’t pass.

Going to Congress to fix this mess is a sucker’s play. Allowing even apparently “good” federal legislation to be the chalice carrying our fond hopes leaves those hopes at the mercy of a Conference Committee which will be taking it’s marching orders from Karl Rove. Then the word-up will be “problem solved, move on.”

But it won’t be solved, not by a long shot, it will only be federalized and hence even more under the regime’s control. It won’t be solved until we either: 1) get rid of the machines altogether, or 2) implement an effective mandatory jurisdiction-wide handcount sample protocol to test overall results, not merely the stray machine. Voter verified means NOTHING when dealing with black-box computers. Auditability means virtually NOTHING when chain-of-custody is violated, when there are Blackwells in the picture, when the fees are prohibitive, when results thresholds are set for audits.

If the Brennan Report is used to bring us VVPT, it will be a great boon worse than wasted. Stimulating Congress to act in any way is a critical mistake in the current situation. The only hope of a real solution will come from states, localities, and the people acting at those levels.

It is up to those of us who recognize the distinctions in remedies to rapidly educate those who are first recognizing the problem before they join a stampede in the worst possible direction. We need to put out a position paper, talking points, etc., bridging from the Brennan Report (recognizing the problem) to Effective (i.e., non-Holt, uniform omni-precinct handcount sampling) Audits as THE NEXT STEP.

Let’s get on it. Will have a detailed Effective Audit paper out ASAP.

–Jonathan Simon

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