"...these ballots shall not be counted in secret." SC Constitution
"...these ballots shall not be counted in secret."
An Appeal to John Edwards to Take a Stand for Voting Rights
Media, election, and judicial reform advocate Mark Adams, JD, MBA of Tampa, Florida discovered something very important in the South Carolina Constitution. It provides for secret voting but bans secret vote counting.
"All elections by the people shall be by secret ballot, but the ballots shall not be counted in secret. The right of suffrage, as regulated in this Constitution, shall be protected by laws regulating elections and prohibiting, under adequate penalties, all undue influence from power, bribery, tumult, or improper conduct."South Carolina Constitution, Article II, Section 1
The South Carolina primary occurs Saturday Jan. 19th for Republicans and the following Saturday the 26th for Democrats. With a recount in New Hampshire and the questions about that outcome, we may be looking at a series of questionable results in subsequent primaries. U.S. meddling in elections overseas has blown back to "the homeland." Secret vote counting is one of the key elements driving questions and forms a core criticism of the various state election schemes.
In a Zogby Poll in August 2006, 92% of the respondents said yes to the question: "Citizens have the right to view and obtain information about how election officials count votes." In the same poll of over 1000 registered voters, over half expressed little to no confidence in the 2004 elections.
Welcome to 2008.
On January 16, 2008, Mark Adams sent this email to candidate John Edwards and others in the campaign offering a perfect opportunity to strike a blow for voters of both parties to challenge secret vote counting.
"Subject: Senator Edwards, Will You Take Action to Make Sure that South Carolina's Elections Comply with its Constitution
"I heard your call for eliminating touch screen voting machines. Of course, being from South Carolina you are certainly aware of its use of touch screen voting machines. Last Friday afternoon, I looked into South Carolina's use of the infamous iVotronic touch screen voting machines, and I discovered that it's banned by South Carolina's Constitution.
"Some of the key information from my article "South Carolina Elections Are UNCONSTITUTIONAL" I published on Monday January 14, 2008 on OpEdNews.com follows.
"Article II, § 1 of the Constitution of South Carolina states, "the ballots shall not be counted in secret." Although there is case law which supports the right to have votes counted in public, this is the election integrity jackpot, a Constitutional provision prohibiting counting votes in secret! No more need to refer to case law, evidence, or logic to argue against secret vote counting, at least in South Carolina.
"Many are worried about election integrity. In fact, a Zogby poll from August of 2006 indicates that 92% of Americans are worried about our votes being counted in secret." See, Zogby Poll
"South Carolina is the best opportunity to make a case against allowing computers to count the votes in secret. I've discussed this with two leading election law advocates who have also brought election contests. They both think that this is the best opportunity to act that they have seen. The South Carolina Constitution prohibits secret vote counting! The election reform community expects one of the Presidential candidates to take action. Snip
"You know what to do, but to help expedite things, I suggest that you or your representative send a letter to the South Carolina State Election Commission pointing out that using touch screen computers to count the votes in secret violates the prohibition in Article II, § 1 against secret vote counting, and I would demand that they take immediate action to implement the use of paper ballots which are counted by hand in public to conduct the upcoming primary. I would notify them that you will take legal action as soon as possible to seek an injunction requiring that the election process comply with Article II or postponing the primaries until such time as they can be conducted in a Constitutional manner."
Mark A. Adams JD/MBA (Full letter here)
Doing the Same Thing Over and Over Again
In a very real sense, each primary will be about doing the same thing over and over again while expecting different results. We've got federally mandated and funded electronic voting machines throughout the United States thanks to the bipartisan Help America Vote Act and billions of taxpayer dollars. We have just a few voting machine types, with demonstrated security problems in every state. And we have the foundation for suspicion and disaffection with the political process through secrecy and obscurity in voting systems, regulations. All this is consistently dismissed by a political class irritated with the increasing demands for openness and accountability.
One more ingredient in the mix is the foreshortened primary season. We're rushed to pick a final candidate through "super" Tuesdays designed to force a selection with months to go before the national conventions this summer. What do we really know about the leaders in the field? One thing for certain is that they're the best funded of the lot. They have to be. The compressed primary schedule requires one thing above all others, money and lots of it.
So we're on the precipice of what has to be the most important election in the nation's history given the stakes and all we've got is the vulgar quatrain of anti democratic processes in place: heavily funded campaigns from private interests (i.e., legalized bribery); ongoing voter suppression of the poor and minorities; secret vote counting; and a rush to judgment that prevents real deliberation and debate. It's another mission accomplished by The Money Party.
"Those few of you who still think that we can trust having our votes counted in secret will be happy to know that your view is shared by many powerful and influential people. For example, Joseph Stalin said, "Those who cast the votes decide nothing. Those who count the votes decide everything." If you want to roll back the evolution of civilization from citizen influence over government to a form of feudalism, then you might as well quit reading now."
Mark Adams, JD, MBA