Here's my blurb on the forthcoming new edition; and, below that, Jonathan's plea for help in spreading the good word about his book:
Whenever a US election ends with an astounding “upset victory”—a weirdly normal “fluke” in the United States—the watchdogs of Our Free Press quickly tell us why the likely winner didn’t win, confidently noting the absurdity of all the previous opinion polls; the losing campaign’s glaring tactical and/or strategic errors; how this or that key bloc of voters inexplicably did not turn out, while this or that one did, in record numbers; these social, cultural and/or economic trends, and/or those technological advances; this or that Big Story in the news, the weeks or last few days before Election Day; and/or whatever else might help explain that inexplicable “defeat” away.
From Jonathan Simon:
Dear EI Friends and Vets –
Please help me get CODE RED (2018) to the public. I think most here are familiar with previous editions, but it has been expanded and updated (and re-subtitled) and has just hit the (Amazon) shelves. I hope it can be a vehicle for generating the public awareness, insistence and impatience absolutely necessary to any real hope of fixing things before we’re completely over the cliff.
I’d be happy to send a manuscript pdf to anyone who requests one (I’ve copied in the new Foreword below).
Please spread the word. Amazon Reviews are crucial – so, if you value the work I’ve done and have even a few minutes, please post your review here. Even one or two lines would be great.
I also value your thoughts on the content itself and approaches to getting it read.
With great appreciation and good wishes – Jonathan
Jonathan D. Simon
Executive Director, Election Defense Alliance
Author: CODE RED: Computerized Elections and the War on American Democracy
FOREWORD to ELECTION 2018 EDITION
Voting is a profound act of faith, a belief that even if your voice can’t change policy on its own, it makes a difference.
— The New York Times Editorial Board, March 11, 2018
So here we are. Welcome to the Age of Trump. If your ‘faith’ is a bit shaken, if you are still wondering just how we got here, there are hundreds, perhaps thousands, of published accounts to map it all out for you. You know: the Clinton campaign this, the economy that, the white suburban voters without college the other thing . . .
As varied as they may be, what all these accounts have in common is the assumption that, one way or another, we voted our way here. That is to say, Americans collectively cast the billions of ballots that over the years of this New American Century added up to where we are now. As if we all got behind the wheel of the national car and somehow steered it to this destination, two wheels spinning over the edge of the cliff.
That is not the account offered by this book.
CODE RED challenges the fundamental assumption that we voted our way over the cliff. It challenges the fundamental assumption that votes have been counted as cast, that American voters have in fact been, at all points, steering the car, that we’re really such awful drivers.
It instead explores the possibility that, since the dawn of the computerized vote-counting era and through a series of faith-based elections, the national car has behaved more like a self-driving car, programmer unknown. It examines those elections and the veer in American politics, culminating in the Age of Trump, that they have produced—reaching conclusions about who or what has been driving the car that are both more chilling (it’s not us) and more encouraging (it’s not us) than anything else you are likely to read.
Most important, it’s a book to read if you’re asking how we can re-take the wheel. Because, while it may be of some comfort to realize that we did not vote our way to this scary place, the correlate is that there is some serious and urgent work to be done if we are to be able to vote our way out of it.
It is the thesis of this book that, in this new age of easy lies, the electoral system of the United States—and particularly its vote counting component—has itself become a lie, in a sense the worst and most dangerous of all the lies. If this blunt statement is too much for you, a more agnostic framing would be that the truth of our elections, whatever it may be, is incapable of verification. Our elections—and the leadership, policy, and national direction that depend on their results—are, at best, faith-based; at worst, catastrophically corrupted at their computerized core.
If even that is a message you don’t want to hear, let alone act on, you are hardly alone. The resistance to it—political, journalistic, psychological, personal—is very strong indeed. All evidence indicates that our current predicament has been nearly two decades in the making, and that the Big Lie long pre-dated the advent of the Big Liar. Yet even now, as we flirt with depravity and fascism, who has been willing to look in the cupboard marked “Alternative Facts” and open the box marked “Alternative Votes”? Certainly neither government nor media. They both blanch at the mere thought of “undermining voter confidence in our elections.” And that is precisely what gives computerized election theft such a big leg up. To pull that leg down will require undermining voter confidence in our elections—but is any confidence based on a blind-faith refusal to examine worth protecting?
Because that voter confidence has been so desperately protected, Americans—who no longer trust their leaders, no longer trust the media, and no longer trust each other—paradoxically remain the picture of trust when it comes to one thing: we trust our elections. We are about to head into the most critical set of elections in living memory continuing to permit our votes to be counted unobservably and without verification in the partisan, proprietary, pitch-dark of cyberspace and trusting that manifestly corruptible process to deliver the truth—an honest and accurate counting of our votes. What a strange faith to cling to in this Age of Lies and Mistrust!
If we are to survive the Age of Trump and find our way back from the brink of the cliff, it will have to start with replacing that easy faith with serious inquiry—building upon facts and not shrinking, either out of tact or on the sage advice of the marketing department, from calling a spade anything but a spade.
Democracy begins to end when its beneficiaries go lazy and passive, when they are seduced by speed, ease, convenience, entertainment. And that happened Before Trump, and it happened before the “Russians” took an interest in influencing who won our elections. It happened when the U.S. began counting votes in the dark, entrusting that critical process to a handful of private, partisan, secretive outfits, and expecting—in fact with unshakable faith—that it would proceed honestly and accurately.
After all, we figured, we can see why someone would shoot up with PEDs to win the Tour de France, but who would ever want to steal a U.S. election?
The evidence is plentiful that the Republican (and not just Republican, but increasingly far-right Republican) hegemony at both national and state levels owes its existence—with but-for causality—to the corruption of the electoral process in the computerized vote counting era. And it is that hegemony that is enabling Trump’s romp over the rule of law and into autocracy, though it is not clear from their behavior that the Democrats have much greater interest than do their right-wing counterparts in restoring public sovereignty.
And the media? Well, aren’t they having the time of their lives! Nothing like a horny dragon to slay! But public, observable vote counting, the desperate need for serious electoral reform? No, we don’t go there, at least not with the urgency this crisis demands—because that urgency would derive from consideration of the possibility that the problem is not merely one of hypothetical vulnerability. That remains a bridge too far.
The price for not crossing that bridge is nothing less than all we value. And while I enjoy, in a grim sort of way, the torrents of Trump-disparaging adjectives and adverbs, I really don’t see much hope in them. On this, at least, The New York Times agrees. Their editorial, from which I quoted at top, is titled “Angry? Go Vote.” And it continues:
“This is a fragile moment for the nation. The integrity of democratic institutions is under assault from without and within, and basic standards of honesty and decency in public life are corroding. If you are horrified at what is happening in Washington and in many states, you can march in the streets, you can go to town halls and demand more from your representatives, you can share the latest outrageous news on your social media feed—all worthwhile activities. But none of it matters if you don’t go out and vote.” [emphasis added]
The Times, of course, is right. There is one official scoreboard and it is known as an election. But an election comes down to vote counting. And if that remains computerized, privatized, and secret, is there any reason to expect reason to prevail over derangement on the official scoreboards of 2018 and 2020?
We have watched the situation go from perilous to critical to surrealistic (you can follow the progression in my Forewords to the 2014 and 2016 editions). Let’s hope it has not gone beyond rescue.
This edition of CODE RED updates the latest developments, including of course the 2016 elections and what they have bestowed on America, but also the rise and potential impact on both politics and election integrity of the Parkland students and other sprouts of genuine resistance. It considers the (dim) prospect of effective electoral reform emerging from our conventional political processes. It proposes fresh and outside-the-box solutions, both technical and political, befitting the urgency we confront. And, like the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, it sets a Doomsday Clock.
The good news is that it’s not quite midnight. We can turn this country around, but only if we first restore public, observable vote counting to our elections. How does the old adage go? “For want of a nail . . .” It is a simple, basic thing: but until we do it, we will continue putting everything we value at risk.
It would be highly disingenuous were I to pretend to be free of strong convictions about both the policies and the personal ethics and behavior of Donald Trump. For better or for worse, the divisions of these years are as passionate as they are polarized, and if credibility is to be gained by masking them, then it is a deceptive credibility. So forgive me if at times I wear my anger on my sleeve.
I can attest, however, that such feelings have not played a part in my presentation of data, analysis, or arguments on behalf of an honest electoral system and a public, observable vote-counting process. The data are the data (the sources are all official postings and/or archives), the analyses are objective (with an open invitation to replicate), and the changes argued for speak to the foundations and hallmarks of democracy itself and are goals I should think we, as citizens and voters, would all share—however we feel about guns, God, gays, global warming, healthcare, corporations, regulations, immigration, trade or Trump.
There’s an old joke about a guy who jumps off the top of the Empire State Building. Someone with an office on the 42nd floor sticks her head out the window and asks how’s he’s doing. “OK, so far!” comes the answer.
If this once applied to America in the computerized voting era, that time is past.
Jonathan D. Simon
May 9, 2018 – Felton, California