A Practical Navigator for the Internet Economy

The Privatization of Our Democracy

I am honored that Eva Waskell has entrusted me to present The Privatization of Our Democracy, a work that I regard as her Profile in Courage. For 25 years she has labored to correct what is possi- bly the most significant public policy failure of the computer age—the privatization of vote counting carried out under the rationale that computers are simply automatic calculators that can tabulate votes more cost effectively than old analogue machines. I have known her for 19 of those years.


There were some election lawsuits before Eva got on the trail in 1985. That is true. But she was the earliest person to connect all the dots and see the much bigger picture, and she has been self- lessly laboring in the trenches ever since. While I met Eva in 1992, I first heard about her election interest only in 1994.    I knew immediately what concerned her because I remembered very well reading the Ronnie Dugger article in The New Yorker. When we began talking last September about doing an “interview,” imagine my amazement at the passage of 15 years before Eva ever acknowl- edged that the work she and Terry Elkins had done was the catalyst for THAT article being written!


As a friend in Holland said, “It’s a rare and precious gift to meet a true bodhisattva—a human being who has dedicated his own life and spiritual liberation to something far greater than himself or her- self.” It took me a long time to understand this as I watched Eva in 1996-1998 and stayed at her small but lovely house in Reston, Virginia when I visited Washington, DC. In those years of ram- pant materialism and worship of the private interest, Eva had but one thought—elections in the USA were being sucked inside an unknown and unknowable black box where the circumstantial evidence at the very least pointed to the possibility, if not the probability, that they were for sale.


Eva’s vision was clear on this long before the disaster of November 2000.    I remember trying to help. In the last years of the 1990s, I informed many, many people of her concerns and suggested that they help the citizen-based election information center she was trying to put together. But people’s minds were on other things as the Clinton “good times” rolled on. The lack of interest was palpable.


But since the 2000 debacle, even public interest people expect free access to what this book will show is an encyclopedic expertise unparalleled by anyone else. It is rather tragic that the preserva- tion of free elections is a worthy cause but also one where there is no money to be made by any- one outside of an established public interest organization of some type. Therefore, any “freelance” work in this field done by citizens is especially dangerous because there is always the expectation that these people will work pro bono.


And as with every endeavor within the election integrity community, there are people who expect everything for nothing. But of course there are also good people. Eva has seen both. And for her labors she deserves some assurance of financial stability that comes with basic medical care, food and housing. It is my hope that now that she has told her story for the first time, she will be able to work with those who will make sure she can devote herself full time to the cause. It is also my hope that Google, or someone like it, will understand that her archives are definitive for this field. They must be protected and then digitized.

People think they know that something is wrong with the way elections are conducted in this coun- try. They are correct. There is. But readers only now will get access to a full history of the abuse of public trust by the elected politicians of the United States of America.    That’s a large claim to make, but see for yourself.

 

Table of Contents


Preface       5

Foreword: An Abdication of Trust      8

1.“You really have your work cut out for you, don’t you?”    11

2. Before Elections: Looking for Unchartered Frontiers    17

3. US Election Administration: People, Processes and Technology    20

4. Origins and Early Evolution of Computerized Voting Systems     23

5.You can’t have democratic elections if you have vote counting that’s a secret.     28

6. Quoted on the Front Page of The New YorkTimes      32

7. Entertaining Ourselves to Death?    36

8. By 1975, Roy Saltman Had Identified the Issues and Proposed Solutions    39

9.GettingtoKnowSaltmaninPersonandWitnessingtheSubsequentPolicyFlaws     42

10. Elections in the Great State of Texas     48

11. Policy Lesson: Don’t Confuse the Simple with the“High Fallutin”     58

12. Show Me the Ballots!!    66

13. The Role of the FEC in the Development of Voting System Standards       72

14. Testing and Certification ofVoting Systems      84

15. The Importance of Location    91

16. Post-1988: Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility Picks Up the Ball       93

17.The 1990s:A Leap into Full-TimeWork on Elections    97

18. In 1997, Jenny Appleseed Writes a Planning Grant Proposal.      101

19. Flashback    103

20. To theVictors Go the Spoils    108

21. January 2000     113

22. Internet Voting and other Public Policy Issues after 2000     115

23. Election Reform after 2004     119

24. First Define the Problem    123

25. How the November 2004 Ohio Recount Was Rigged    125

26.Applying the Principles ofThree Cups ofTea      128

27. Because it was so very important . . . I just kept at it.    132

28.VoteWatch and the Election Science Institute     133

29.Evolutionof MyThinking    135

30. Bottom-up Data Collection in Riverside County, CA      145

31. Inside the Last Bastion of our Democracy: the Central Computer Room     149

32. Framing a Solution for a Seemingly Intractable Problem    153

33. Progress Toward Solutions and How to Overcome Obstacles    157

 

Eva has a new website where this book will be serialized and where over the coming months it is likely that a forum, a blog and/or other two-way interactivity will be made available. She may be reached at Eva Waskell < This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. >. Note that the website above has a PayPal button for those willing to donate in support of her work. http://eva.voteyourpocketbook.us/