Home > Politics > An open letter to Brad Friedman of The Brad Blog

An open letter to Brad Friedman of The Brad Blog

Wherein I both make a promise and – by preserving it in this post – both document the promise – and the reasons behind it. I also refuse a field promotion from grunt to commanding officer in an organization that currently has only 1 member (me): Brad’s E-voting Enlightenment Army!

Dear Brad,

Tuesday – AFTER I voted in the California June 8, 2010 primary, I read both your 2008 post about your attempts to vote using the ES&S InkaVotePlus assistive machine and your 2010 post about trying again. I was incensed by what you experienced – and even more so by the realization that people – most especially blind people – who needed to use this had no possibility of double checking their vote unless they brought a trusted friend to the polls with them – and had the attention to detail that you have. Moreover, I think you’ve proved that they very likely ended up having their votes recorded for candidates (and ballot positions) that bore no relation to their intended vote!

I’m not going to go over this in any more detail, but since this is an open letter, this has been necessary background – and I hope that others reading this take the time to read your two posts – and that they become as mad as I am!

Yesterday (Wednesday, June 9) you tweeted: “Would love ur thoughts as to what happened when I TRIED to e-vote in L.A. ystrday @DBowen! http://bit.ly/9IV5oS” – and I replied with a few tweets – most of them revolving around trying to get the MSM to notice the e-voting problem by organizing the hell out of 3-5 selected precincts nationwide to boycott the next election. Frankly, I think that – properly organized, executed and publicized – this would make the MSM notice – but it would have to be done flawlessly, with people as passionate on the issue as you are (and count me in that group now as well) walking the precinct multiple times – making the case to all registered voters – as well as all who MIGHT register to vote in time for the next election – with repeated visits to convince everybody, one person at a time.

Actually, the above paragraph represents far more detail than was in the few short tweets I sent. It was in my mind at the time, but that kind of detail is impossible in the format of a Tweet – or even a few Tweets.

After thinking a bit more, I realized that my dream of organizing a voting boycott – for even ONE precinct is likely a Utopian vision – as is the hope that the MSM would actually deign to notice! And as much as I like Utopian visions – some things need to be addressed in the real world. So I thought about what ELSE I could do, and tweeted:

“@TheBradBlog Recruit an army to use assistive machines in November as you did yesterday. Count me as your first recruit!”

To which you replied:

“@.sjdorst Ur not just 1st recruit, ur the general! If u ask 2 vote ‘accessibly’ they must let u. Good Luck! (But check ballot b4 casting)”

While I’m honored that you want me to be the general of this army, I’m afraid I have too many other commitments to accept the position. I’ll remain a grunt, but I already consider myself to have received my marching orders, to wit:

Between now and the November General Election, I will:

  • Research to determine what assistive voting technology will be available at my precinct
  • Research to determine what – if any – flaws have already been found for that device
  • Research known flaws in ANY assistive device – just in case!
  • Repeat the above in the last 2 weeks before the election – in case the device has changed
  • Research the applicable law that requires the poll workers to allow me to use the assistive machine – even if I don’t need it.

On General Election Day, I will:

  • Take a half day off work to allow far more time than most to vote
  • Arrive at the precinct armed with the results of my preparation – to especially include the law that specifies that they must allow me to use the assistive device.
  • Attempt to use the assistive device – as many times as necessary.
  • Remember that any problems are likely totally out of control of the precinct workers – and hence I should treat them with kindness, respect for the patience they are showing me, and gratitude for their willingness to BE a precinct worker — a task (like Jury Duty) that is essential to our democracy, yet vastly underappreciated – not to mention vastly undercompensated!

Finally, immediately after returning home, I pledge to post details of my experience – and to call your attention to that post. If between now and then, your Army grows to the point where a common posting venue is available – I’ll use it.

If I have trouble with any of the research, I’ll ask for your help.

Please feel free to use this open letter as a recruiting tool for you E-voting Enlightenment Army. Should you find a General or Chief of Staff, please let me know so that I can coordinate.


Steven J Dorst, Recruit Trainee, Brad’s E-Voting Enlightenment Army

PS: To ANYBODY out there who sees this: As I was writing this, snippets of a barely remembered Tom Lehrer song about a “Folk Song Army” kept running through my head! I tried to find an online audio track I could link to in this post, but failed, so if any of you can find one, please Please PLEASE let me know!

PPS: Ignore the PS! I found it on iTunes. I can’t figure out how to link to it, but searching iTunes for “The Folk Song Army” gets you right to it. Choose the Tom Lehrer one from the album “That Was The Year That Was.” Unfortunately, it’s not free – which means I’m not going to post it somewhere and violate copyright – but if any readers have a source that I can point to that is free, but doesn’t violate copyright – please let me know!


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