From Jonathan Simon, re: Paul Lehto’s caveat on EPBs:
I think before we go crazy tearing ourselves and each other apart about the merits and demerits of emergency paper ballots (and, for the record, I agree with most of Paul Lehto’s alarums about how their good intentions can be perverted), I think we should zoom out a bit and take a big picture view.
Recalling that the only thing that matters to those who would hold perpetual rule while maintaining the trappings of democracy is the bottom line, I think it is safe to say that a way will be found rather easily to turn any of these half-steps, stop-gaps, and partial reforms to shit in short order.
Without EPBs, we’re looking at rigged DREs and DREs set up to break down or “recalibrate” or God knows what, and voters left with no effective recourse on Election Day (other than to phone in a complaint or perhaps get arrested at the polls). With absentee, early, and emergency paper ballots, we’re looking at fait accomplis (reported DRE results that, as Paul rightly suggests, will be shifted way to the right because they don’t include the poor, disproportionally Democratic sots who didn’t trust or couldn’t use the sabotaged DREs) and protracted battles to counter the “oh you mean those ballots!” counting shenanigans that Paul reasonably predicts (hey, McPherson isn’t embracing EPBs out of “let’s help the voter” altruism).
Either way, given the heightened awareness blooming out there about election theft (both in candidates and in the public at large, and perhaps in the media if the moon aligns with mars), we’re most likely looking at a train wreck. Pick your poison.
Then the question becomes: which train wreck is likely to work out better, draw more attention to the crisis, provide better bases for litigation, etc.? Remembering that the Right has been very good at making train wrecks go their way, I think we need to size up the two train wrecks and determine which, if either, gives us a fighting chance in hell.
I leave that for our next round, but I think it’s a different and more constructive way of looking at the EPB initiative along with other “half-steps,” train wreck-altering (but not eliminating) ideas.–Jonathan
Reply from Paul Lehto:
Thanks Jonathan, I don’t think anybody has cause to go crazy about the merits of emergency paper ballots in response to my post, which concludes at one level in saying that one can be in favor of emergency paper ballots but (in my wording) only with “fear and dread” the whole time. Which is the same or very similar fear and dread with elections on touch screen DREs.
Let’s get real (and I think Jonathan in particular is quite real): The election system is royally screwed right now and it is too late to save it for 2006, and our instinct to save it can be USED AGAINST US, either wittingly or unwittingly. We are watching democracy in effect be tortured and we want to DO SOMETHING about it, and it’s hard to come to the conclusion that we may need to take a bullet, or at least there is no “silver bullet.”
Hey, as long as each activist (and ideally each person casting an emergency ballot) fully realizes that the election in some ways just STARTS on election night and continues on for weeks after that and perhaps months, with both counting and election contest or other litigation. But frankly, I think a lot of political campaign managers are setting their vacation plans RIGHT NOW to leave a couple days after the election for a well deserved two weeks off. Some insight into premature concession speeches can be gained here.
And that’s another note that is powerful that I did not hit in the original post: Concession speeches. We have to be prepared for that risk as well.
So yes, to some extent you can look at this as “pick your poison” but people are not ready to take the EPB poison unless they accept the inescapable fact that every ballot that is cast as an EPB guarantees a one ballot lead to the Republicans on election night PLUS any cheating margin they take on top of that.
I agree with the big picture approach, but I’d say I’m already pointing to the big picture, though others like Jonathan can also point to other aspects I may or may not treat fully. But the inescapable reality of the Emergency Paper Ballot big picture is the need for extensive activism and legal intervention not just before the election (which electiondefensealliance.com
is working toward and raising money toward ) but probably more importantly AFTER the election.
But DRE cheating, while more difficult of proof, is clearly illegal. The downside of EPBs is that there could be massive disfranchisement of “illegal votes” and it would be LEGAL. The law does not have to be fair or just, only constitutional, and that monstrosity Bush v Gore is the leading constitutional election law case in the land.
Those who want to go with an EPB strategy should shift to ballot preservation strategies combined with awareness that initial counts will be shifted and rapid response litigation teams to force counts to GET DONE post-election. I’m the only lawyer working on election contests right now who is a full time activist (Lowell Finley’s cases, for example, are not contests), and I don’t know of any such post-election planning. It would be good to have a whole bunch of it.