And Takes on
California's Debra Bowen in the Bargain
Who is PRI? Are They the Latest
Incarnation of the ACVR? And Just Who Do They Think They're Messing
with by Attacking the Pro-Democracy Movement with Easily Discredited
This article appeared on BradBlog on January 13, 2006. It is reposted here with permission of the author.
looks like the Rightwing may have found a replacement for the American
Center for Voting Rights (ACVR), the GOP front group set up to
smokescreen against true election reform and transparent democracy. The
ACVR has been mighty quiet of late, which we might like to attribute to
their having been thoroughly discredited and rendered mostly impotent
due to some longterm, airtight, crack reporting by The BRAD BLOG about their attempted democracy-hating scam.
But now, a West Coast "non-partisan" conservative think-tank called Pacific Research Institute for Public Policy (PRI) may be stepping in to fill at least part of the void in the person of TechNews World
columnist and PRI Director of Technology Studies, Sonia Arrison.
Arrison has been op/ed'ing and releasing "white papers" lately rallying
against voter-verified paper ballots for electronic voting
machines. Her reasons for being against transparent democracy are both
bizarre and seem freshly pulled out of her hind quarters (or out of
those of Diebold's).
We'll look at some of her
already-discredited charges in a moment, but let's take a look at this
PRI group. Their staff seems to be a who's-who of Canadians, staffers
of former-California Governor Pete Wilson, former staffers of Tom DeLay
ally Rep. Richard Pombo (R-CA), and other "conservative" "thinkers".
seems to be little more than yet another dirty dot in the massive
now-metastasized matrix of "conservative" think-tanks, phony
trade-associations, lobbying firms, consultants, columnists,
politicians, "reporters" and other media pimps who are part of a
wickedly tentacled network of people and organizations meant to prop up
wingnut causes in the press while firing up the unquestioning, lockstep
You can take a gander at just part of the intricate, interlocking network of connections in this map created by RAW STORY's Larisa Alexandrovna compiled as she was covering the ACVR and their relationship to the phony Baker-Carter "Election Reform" commission.
According to ExxonSecrets, PRI was the recipient of $275,000, between 1998 and 2004, from ExxonMobile because of their work against the Kyoto Treaty.
As well, Vicki Perry reports that PRI "has links
to the Cato Institute, American Enteprise Institute and is funded by --
among others -- big tobacco." Perry concludes that Arrison's "world
view" (she has been lauded on-air by Limbaugh), now seems to be that we
"need surveillance cameras on all the time and don't need paper
So who might now be paying the PRI bill for their
latest crusade against verifiable transparent elections? We don't yet
know, but we can take a few guesses from amongst the usual suspects.
The PRI website says they are "a non-partisan, non-profit educational
charity...Its contributors consist primarily of foundations and
individuals, with some corporate support." Sounds all too familiar.
In "Paper trail law for e-voting has fans, foes" John Wildermuth of the San Francisco Chronicle
reports that PRI's Arrison, believes the call for voter-verified paper
ballots and mandatory audits to count them is one of "California's Top
Ten Policy Blunders of 2005." The reason? It will make voting
"increasingly difficult and negate the original virtues of e-voting:
speed, cost-savings and efficiency."
In other words it doesn't
matter if the machines count the votes accurately, as long as they are
cheap to operate and fast. Of course, Arrison and PRI ignore all of the
studies that prove touch-screen voting machines are much more expensive
to purchase and operate than verifiable optical-scan voting systems and
other balloting methods.
In her recent "White Paper"
on voting technology, Arrison attempts to sell the fallacious premise
by suggesting that, "Passing sweeping laws ... to require
voter-verified paper trails for touch-screen machines, though
well-intentioned, could bankrupt cash-strapped counties and may erode
the efficiency of electronic voting management…"
We may be able
to reach an agreement with Arrison here, except instead of getting rid
of the "voter-verified paper trail," let's go a little further and save
a lot more money by getting rid of the touch-screen machines all
together! Other, more reliable and less-expensive systems will do very
well, thank you.
(On a side note, did Arrison rally nearly as
hard against the budget-busting, privacy-invading "sweeping law"
requiring Real ID across the nation as tacked onto a recent Iraq War
funding bill by Wisconsin's Rep. James Sensenbrenner? See this AP article for information on the unfunded Federal mandate that has states now in a panic about the law which really could bankrupt many of them!)
Arrison has even gone to battle with transparent election champion, California State Senator, Debra Bowen in the pages of TechNews where she said:
California and other states, the march to make e-voting machines
perfect using legislative dictates is in vogue. For instance, even
after California passed a law to force all e-voting machines to have a
voter-verified paper audit trail, state Senator Debra Bowen introduced
yet more legislation for paper. At this rate, one might expect to find
a paper-covered computer in the voting booth.
legislation increased the state's commitment to slow, old and
inefficient paper voting methods by specifying that "manual recounts of
votes" requires that "the paper record copies or the voter verified
paper audit trail of the electronically recorded vote are counted
manually." In a press release on this issue, she echoed worn out
anti-property rhetoric that will ring strange to freedom-loving
Californians considering her run for Secretary of State.
argues that California shouldn't rely on proprietary software to count
ballots. "If we want to ensure we have voting systems that are reliable
and secure -- and that voters have confidence in -- we need to be
moving toward an open source software structure," she says. This
argument is a red herring, probably designed to distance her from
current Secretary of State Bruce McPherson.
In response to freedom-hating Arrinson's worn out anti-democratic rhetoric, Bowen issued a reply recently in a press release which responds to PRI's propaganda:
takes the term ‘tone deaf’ to a whole new level,” said Senator Debra
Bowen (D-Redondo Beach), the chairwoman of the Senate Elections,
Reapportionment & Constitutional Amendments Committee. “Given the
scandals involving electronic voting machines and the rising number of
California voters who are losing faith in the system, how anyone can
come out and say with a straight face, ‘Let’s trust the voting machine
vendors, they know what they’re doing’ is beyond me."
For her part, Bowen is holding hearings next week in Sacramento on California's implementation of HAVA so far (public invited!). As well, she's announced hearings later in February or March on "Open Source" voting issues.
doubt, we can expect more pre-paid propaganda in the future out of the
Tower of Babble from which the likes of Arrison and her ilk slither.
These guys are not likely to give up their fight easily as those of us
who actually do give a damn about transparent democracy make
more and more headway. Their playing field grows increasingly
diminished in direct correlation to the American public becoming ever
more educated about what's really at stake. The "bad guys" don't care
for that, and will, of course, keep releasing misinformation out of
their paid-for-play phony institutions in the bargain wherever they can.
Unfortunately, their side keeps the money flowing freely to prop up their nonsense, while our side is comprised mostly of true
grass-roots citizens in the fight simply because it's the right thing
to do. We've learned, sadly, there's not a lot of money in that
particular market. So for now, to paraphrase someone we recently spoke
with who had their tongue only partly in cheek, we'll have to take
comfort in the idea that "Democracy itself will have to be its own
Additional Research for this Article by John Gideon of VotersUnite.org and VoteTrustUSA.
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