What makes a Recount Count? Recount Recap 2016

Will we ever get a straight answer to the question: “When is a recount not really a recount?” Recount recap 2016…

In 2016, a sliver of hope ran through the population as the Jill Stein 2016 campaign pressed for 3 recounts in Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. Despite the sky-high price tag of $6-7 million to file and conduct the recounts, and the short window of time to collect the funds and complete the filing process, 100’s of thousands of concerned and irate voters quickly dug deep into their pockets and raised the necessary funds. This allowed the Stein campaign to file for all three recounts before their respective deadlines.

It also gave millions of Americans the feeling that, for once, we were going to get the slightest bit of transparency reviewing yet another controversial election result. Instead, court decisions stopped the Michigan and Pennsylvania recounts, uncounted provisional votes remained uncounted, optical scan machines and DRE touchscreen machines were simply asked to spit out the same figures they had in the general election without any auditing, GOP-controlled secretaries of state and board of elections officeholders thumbed their noses at the process and the election results remained virtually unchanged.

Nary a word was spoken on mainstream or cable news about the Interstate Crosscheck program used in 30 states, the regressive voter ID bills and suppression tactics targeting Democratic voters of color,  the impossibly long voter lines and incidents such as the 70+ voting machines which broke down in Detroit on Election Day or the mysterious finding that around 70,000 voters in Michigan apparently did not register a vote for president.

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Democracy Now!: Beyond the Electoral College

Amy Goodman dives into “the race to 270” and examines the state of our elections as it relates to the ongoing controversy over our reliance on the electoral college in determining our presidents. Is it time to go beyond the electoral college?

Here’s the election week 2016 video, “Beyond the Electoral College: A State-Based Plan for Electing the President by National Popular Vote.”

Lessig @TedTalks: Our Democracy No Longer Represents the People

We recently found this Lawrence Lessig TedTalk from last year, 2015. It’s a nice and relatively brief (20 minutes) reminder that for people across our nation, our representative democracy is anything but representative or a functioning democracy. As explained in the video’s description:

Harvard Professor Lawrence Lessig makes the case that our democracy has become corrupt with money, leading to inequality that means only 0.02% of the United States population actually determines who’s in power. Lessig says that this fundamental breakdown of the democratic system must be fixed before we will ever be able to address major challenges like climate change, social security, and student debt. This is not the most important problem, it’s just the first problem.

Here’s Mr. Lessig’s talk, entitled “Our democracy no longer represents the people. Here’s how we fix it.”

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Unverifiable Vote Tallies and Voter Purging: Deja Vu

An article by Bob Fitrakis & Harvey Wasserman for Reader Supported News starts out by calling our attention to two looming factors that have influenced and altered the outcomes of every US election since 2000: the purging of millions of legitimate voters (usually disproportionally made up of democrats of color in swing states) from the voter rolls and the unverifiable vote-tallying procedures of our electronic voting and optical scanning machines.

Both problems are paramount; -no real progress can be made in electoral reform and restoring election integrity until these elephants in the room are acknowledged, discussed frankly and openly, and then remedied.

  Here’s the kickoff of the Fitrakis/Wasserman article:

here are two things we all need to know about the upcoming 2016 election:

  1. Millions of likely Democratic voters have already been stripped from the voter rolls in critical states like Ohio. The key reporting on this has been done by the great Greg Palast, who has shown that a computer program coordinated by the Republican secretary of state of Kansas is being used in some two dozen states to steal from a substantial percentage of the citizenry their right to vote. The raw numbers are high enough that they could have a significant impact on the presidential, US Senate, House and many other elections this fall. The ACLU has now sued Jon Husted, Ohio’s secretary of state, over the stripping of two million citizens from Ohio’s voter rolls.

  2. There is no way to verify the official tally on the electronic machines on which the majority of Americans will vote this fall. Nearly all the machines are a decade old, most are controlled by a single company (ES&S, owned by Warren Buffett) and the courts have ruled that the software is proprietary, making the vote counts beyond public scrutiny. In fact, they are beyond all independent monitoring altogether. In many key swing states (including Ohio, Michigan, Iowa and Arizona) GOP governors and secretaries of state will have a free hand to flip the vote count to whatever they want it to be without detection or accountability. This could turn control of our government over to the GOP come November, as it did in 2000 and 2004.

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Focus on Democracy

Focus on Democracy will be geared towards conversations, strategies and actions relating to electoral reform. We’ll be highlighting news items, reports and interviews which cover any of a number of challenges facing our democratic republic’s broken and rigged electoral system.

We hope you’ll check back with us from time to time, and join in helping us to identify. break down, and propose solutions for, the myriad of electoral and justice system problems we face.

The Whole Enchilada

The following piece, “The Whole Enchilada,” was written by Focus On Democracy’s George Ripley on the eve of the Democracy Spring march from Philadelphia to Washington, DC in April 2016. It was the first post on the Focus On Democracy website.

The Whole Enchilada…

Those of us on this march, and millions more throughout the country, are building a ‘mass movement’ for electoral reform because we know that our democracy is broken from stem to stern and that we will never get the world we envision if our democracy is not functional and trustworthy.

The focal point of much of our organizing in recent years has been to fix the problems created by big money in politics and Citizen’s United.  That issue has generated a great deal of support and a movement focused upon that issue has developed great strength. ‘Voter suppression’ has also been a successful organizing issue.

The purpose of this entry is to open our movement building efforts to the necessity of including the complete spectrum of electoral reforms. Big money in politics and voter suppression are only two of those issues. While we still have the focused energy of a large electoral reform movement let’s be sure to sustain it until we have really finished the job of fixing our democracy.   If we only fix the problems created by Citizen’s United, if we only do that and don’t fix the rest of the problems, – like gerrymandering, blackbox voting, ballot access, ballot initiatives, making Voting Day a National holiday, giving ex-felons the right to vote, etc., etc.  – then we will still have a broken democracy but we will have lost the civic momentum to fix all the many problems with our democracy. Let’s fix everything in one big Omnibus Bill, the Whole Enchilada.

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