"Mission: To encourage citizen ownership
of transparent, participatory democracy."
- Creekside Declaration, 3/22/08
The statement is deceptively simple. Yet I think it best underscores all that we fight for here, and what we hope those who claim to be toiling for the same cause will measure themselves against.
I was privileged to spend last weekend with a dozen or so Election Integrity advocates and heroes of mine in Palo Alto, CA, at the Creekside Inn. Those in attendance had experience in election administration, data analysis, media watchdogging, voting rights activism, voter advocacy, computer programming and security, boots-on-the-ground oversight, election auditing, and even voting system vendor perspective. We stayed, after viewing the near-final cut of Dorothy Fadiman's soon-to-be-released Stealing America: Vote by Vote on Thursday night, to chat, strategize, and otherwise spend some time in person with a few of the folks we so often spend only virtual time with.
The declaration was created as several of us determined it would be helpful to define the cause as specifically and directly as possible. Once it was finalized, I signed it first, in large letters, as the Hancock legend goes, "so that King George can read it without his glasses."
My hope is that anyone --- any person or organization, or even candidate for office, claiming to be in the fight for clean, fair, honest, accurate democracy --- would both commit to this simply stated mission, and then measure his or her efforts against it.
Will People for the American Way, Common Cause, Verified Voting, and Rep. Rush Holt sign on to the mission stated above? If so, does advocating for touch-screen voting systems with so-called "paper trails" encourage citizen ownership of transparent, participatory democracy? Does vote-by-mail?
Will our current crop of Presidential candidates, D and R and anything else, pledge to support the mission inherent in the Creekside Declaration? If so, will they then stand up for a paper ballot --- one that is actually counted --- for every vote cast in America?
The BRAD BLOG pledges to adhere, and fight for, the values contained in the Creekside Declaration. Will your Election Integrity group do so? I hope you will ask them, and yourselves. And if so, I hope you'll state as much publicly, and will then proceed to test all that you do, and fight for, and stand for, against the simple, yet monumentally important, ideas in that declaration.
Tribune Media Columnist Bob Koehler, who joined us over the weekend, is one of the few voices within the corporate mainstream media who seem to truly understand what's at stake, the price it may take to ensure it, and the cost of not doing so. He has more in his column this week, on both the weekend, the declaration, and the ideals that I believe we are all duty-bound, as Americans --- and even as World Citizens --- to pledge to fight for.
His column begins this way:
Premise one: Having a fair election — all votes counted, all who are eligible and want to vote allowed to vote — is far, far more important, even in 2008, than who wins.
Premise two: Fair elections are not a given. They never have been, but things are worse now than ever before because of a perfect storm, you might say, of factors that have converged in the new millennium: officialdom’s seduction by unsafe, high-tech voting systems; the seizure of power by a party of ruthless true believers who feel entitled to rule and will do anything to win; a polite, confused opposition party that won’t make a stink about raw injustice; and an arrogantly complacent media embedded in the political and economic status quo.
The result: Benjamin Franklin’s worst nightmare.
I hope you'll read the rest...
Folks in photo identified here...