Thursday, August 2, 2012

Intimidation by other means

You're gonna want to be careful when you conduct an exit poll. If you've approached your county elections supervisor, county commission and asked about conducting a fair election - and let's say you've even mentioned the machines - you may be on someone's radar.

A group of loosely affiliated residents concerned for the sanctity of the vote has approached the supervisor about the voting machines. They want to conduct exit polling to ensure that the vote count isn't something totally different than the exit poling data. In Florida, as in the nation in the modern age, this is the ONLY legal way to capture ANY data whatsoever about how well, how fairly, the election was handled. The other way of course is blind trust; which, doesn't always work out in our favor.

I was surprised to see this correspondence between the assistant general counsel for the Florida Division of Elections, Bennett Miller and our SOE's public outreach coordinator, Eddie Thompson here in Brevard County.

If you look at the first paragraph, second sentence you read Miller telling Thompson "you advised you are concerned someone engaged in otherwise lawful exit polling, may also engage in picketing, voter education, or other disruptive behavior."

I just got off the phone with Mr. Thompson. After a little coaxing he admitted that the fact we were convinced "the machines were rigged" that he wanted to know what resources were at the office's disposal, what legal remedies could be used in assuring an election free of disruption.

I corrected him of course. I certainly never said all the machines were rigged or even that Brevard's "were rigged" I am convinced however, that they are "riggable." And, see the difference?

Cut to the chase: Mr. Thompson he didn't know precisely what constitutes legal exit polling. He did say he certainly thought what we were planning sounded legal, but he thought I should check with Mr. Miller and CC him the exchange so he would know too. Which I did.

There's two interesting points about this. One, Thompson is assuming worst case scenario which - I am sorry - isn't fair. Two, "voter education". You can't educate? If someone asks who I am and what this is about, I might just have to tell them the accuracy of the election is what I am there to ensure, if I can. Next natural question from them might be "why would you want to do that? Aren't they accurate and fair always?" And the answer is?

No. They are not. The machines, as we have said repeatedly, as has been borne out in the record of this blog through the example exposed in Hillsborough county, and hundreds more, are woefully unreliable, at best. Used to rig elections at worst.

They are riggable. They have been used to rig elections in this country, in this state. And there's no catching them because the machine companies, tied in to those who do the rigging, not only control the elections, but have exclusive rights to find the cause of the glitches, and erase all trace of the "errors." Only they can see what precisely went wrong because the code is protected under trade secrets. Vote goes in, result comes out. The rest is a black box, in the flow chart with a big red question mark on it.

Black Box Voting a well respected, honored resource on this sort of voting has taken its name from this concept: that, we the people, have no idea what goes on in there, and by strange turn of corporate-tames-government, we are denied, denied, denied the right to know. And it looks, feels, sounds, and tastes like they want to do away with our right to even ask.

Here, what I am sort of learning from Thompson in our brief conversation, I am drifting in the realm of "educating" the public when I explain why an exit poll is important. I certainly can't hand them any fliers telling them who I am. That's right out. But, sort of, according to Thompson, I may be drifting into illegal behavior by even explaining why I do what I am doing.

If you check the statute referenced in the email, you see that it gives the county the right and duty to park a deputy at these poling places. That deputy has the right and duty to control what happens there. In my county, the deputy has the right to control you pretty much anywhere, in practice. You ask them in your county and see if you don't get an honest, quick response. He can look at you, tell you to leave, and then arrest you if you don't, and you'll explain it to a judge.

We had four people at the meeting last night of those mildly if meekly interested in conducting exit polls in the county. This correspondence had its desired effect from the elections supervisors point of view.

"Look I can't afford to get arrested for this. I don't know..."

You like that? That's how intimidation works these days. Also, and I am no lawyer, but Mr. Thompson's initial line of inquiry has a whiff of something called "prior restraint" to it. Am I wrong? Prior restraint is when you go ahead and anticipate illegal behavior on the part of citizens. And it's still illegal as a means to begin curtailing their rights, ahead of time. Although it happens all the time with these "Free Speech Zones" and containment pens we see for protesters.

Think about it while I wait for a reply from the Florida Division of Elections concerning what is and what is not legal in the conduct of an election poll.

It may just come down to this. Any behavior - a wrong word, the bare utterance of "voting machines" or perhaps a sideways glance - the election supervisor "feels" is disruptive, will give him or her the pretext to end you little election exit poll right then and there. You'll be talking to a deputy who is pointing toward the highway behind you.

Which is just fine for the supervisor. They can look into the camera, smile real purty and say "everything here is running smoothly" and the lap-dog media will regurgitate it to the masses in between the car commercials.

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