NOTE for our NYC-area readers: Today, at 2:00 p.m., there will be a press conference in opposition to the DoJ’s motion. It will be on the steps of City Hall, called by the Chairman of the City Council’s Governmental Operations committee, Simcha Felder. Come on down and be part of the support crowd; we need all the turnout we can get. Directions to the rally and reasons for it below. Read on…
This may be a little complicated and hard to follow, so you might want to get a cup of coffee or a RedBull or something to help you concentrate.
Remember HAVA? The totally misnamed, designed to do the opposite, “Help America to Vote Act”? It was passed in the wake of the 2000 hanging chad scandal. It appeared to have some laudable goals, such as forcing the states to make the voting experience handicapped accessible, and provided money to the states to “update” their voting systems to comply with its requirements. Coming from the Administartion that LUVS unfunded mandates, it sounds almost too good to be true, doesn’t it?
And by now you know why. It was yet another con, a really dangerous con if you believe in voting.
HAVA had a ridiculously and arbitrarily short time frame for purchasing the new machines. States who didn’t buy in time, would still have to comply with the Upgrade requirements, but would lose out on the federal funding. Predictably, elections officials rushed out to buy untested and uncertified DRE’s (electronic voting systems), most of which did not provide auditable voter verified paper trails. These state officials were assured that they could buy now with confidence and the devices would pass the certification tests with flying colors, after the fact.
You all have left link after link in the comments about this county in Florida or that state in the west which decided to scrap almost brand new voting machinery BECAUSE IT DOES NOT WORK and will now have to purchase another system at the expense of the taxpayers of that state.
Those are the brave elections officials who are willing to step up and admit they got scammed. This is the electoral equivalent of the formaldehyde steeped FEMA trailers that could not be used after Katrina. This is a gigantic procurement fraud sitting right under our noses and nobody is reporting it.
Wait, it gets worse.
For a long time, New York State has been the gold standard in how election day is run (I won’t get into our crazy ballot access rules—you can ask John McCain about them), but the actual conduct of the election itself—New York does better than anybody. So, the way that NYS implements HAVA will be the ceiling, not the floor, for how elections will be conducted in the other 49 states.
The New York State Board of Elections (NYSBOE) takes this whole voting thing VERY SERIOUSLY. So, when HAVA was passed they took the time to ACTUALLY READ THE WHOLE STATUTE. I know, I know, that’s kinda radical and fringy these days when so many of our elected officials feel free to vote for legislation that they don’t bother to read, but I digress.
New York State went to the trouble of passing its own HAVA implementation legislation which spelled out testing and certification standards including a voter verified paper trail. Thereafter, months were spent drafting and approving agency rules and procedures. A tremendous amount of thoughtful work went into this and thousands of attorney hours.
As you might imagine, NYS could not possibly complete all this due diligence before the expiration of the arbitrary and inadaquate HAVA deadline for the purchase of new machines.
In March 2006, DOJ sued NYS in federal court to compel the state to comply with the HAVA deadlines. At the time, no one yet had any reason to suspect that the DOJ Civil Rights Division had been taken over by hacks and corrupted by the like of Brad Schlozman, Hans von Spakovsky and John Tanner. NYS erroneously believed it to be a regular lawsuit brought in good faith because NY had missed the deadline.
Accordingly, NY State’s defense centered around explaining to the court the reason WHY the deadline had been missed and showing that the NYSBOE had been diligently and actively working through the process with all due speed. And the judge seemed to be getting it.
However, as the revelations about the warping of the civil rights division from an entity that promoted fair elections to an entity used to facilitate Karl Rove’s dirty tricks regime began to emerge, concerns began to form that maybe the DOJ had NOT brought this suit in good faith.
On Tuesday, November 6th—Election Day all over New York State—those concerns solidified and were borne out.
DOJ chose that day to serve a motion seeking to take away NY State’s right to select and acquire its own voting machine system. I shit you not, DOJ wants to take away my state’s right to control its own election process. And you thought the GOP supported state’s rights?
I’m not kidding. Here’s an except from DOJ’s Notice of Motion:
The United States will move this Court, before the Honorable Gary l. Sharp at the United States District Court for the Northern District of New York, 455 Broadway, Albany, New York 12207, on December 6, 2007 at 9:00 a.m., or at such other time as the court may direct, Pursuant to the court’s equitable authority to enforce its own lawful orders and Section 401 of HAVA, 42 U.S.C. 15511, for an Order:
1) Finding the defendants in violation of the June 6, 2006 Remedial Order entered in this action and in continuing violation of section 301 of HAVA, 43 U.S.C. 15301;
2) Enjoining defendants to take immediate and specific steps to carry out their extant obligations under that Order and under HAVA;
3) Granting such additional and further relief as this court deems proper and just.
In case you think I’m misconstruing the Notice of Motion, let me give you a tidbit from the accompanying Memo of Law:
In the absence of evidence of the demonstrated ability and willingness of the SBOE itself to make immediate progress towards these goals as reflected in new and/or existing Court mandates, The Court may have to consider taking compliance out of the hands of the State and placing it in the hands of the Court or others appointed by the Court to achieve compliance with federal law.
Today, at 2:00 p.m., there will be a press conference in opposition to the DoJ. It will be on the steps of City Hall, called by the Chairman of the City Council’s Governmental Operations committee, Simcha Felder. Come on down and be part of the support crowd; we need all the turnout we can get.
Take the 4, 5, or 6 train to Brooklyn Bridge, the R or W train to City Hall, or the 2 or 3 train to Park Place.
(Photo via ShutterCat7.)