Friday, January 21, 2005


Bev Harris: The Carrie Nation of Blackbox Voting

If you've stayed current with the patter on the internet, you're probably aware that the Democratic Underground banned Bev Harris, the doyenne of voting reform, from their bulletin board in early December. She had a spat with Keith Olbermann previously and some sort of brouhaha with Markos of Daily Kos.

My view of her is nicely summarized by commentor "aquart" on the DU bulletin board.

Bev is the name out front.

Are there other people working on this? Quietly and with deep devotion to this cause? Yes.

But Bev is the name out front.

I've done a quick scan here. You're all right. Okay?

But the tactless showman, the Carrie Nation with the hatchet, is the name that goes in the history books. Were others working on prohibition? Yeah. But Carrie had the hatchet. DAMNED offensive, that hatchet. Woman had no tact and didn't know her place.

The name out front MUST take the extreme position. Why? Because no one reasons with the reasonable. Why not? They're so reasonable. Because you don't have to. Because a reasonable person can be talked out of anything. Look at Gore in 2000. Look at Bush. Bush was unreasonable and took office. Gore was reasonable and didn't.

The name out front must set the boundary and it needs to be far out. THEN the hard-working anonymous heroes step in and reason with the panicked other side. God, have NONE of you ever gone on strike?

The name out front HAS to be seen. HAS to upset people. HAS to cause uproar and ranting. Frothing at the mouth ranting. ONLY then will the other side begin to negotiate.

Hundreds, maybe thousands, won't get credit for the work they've done, but Bev and her irritating descent on LePore's undeserved party WILL be noted.1 It HAS been noted.

The FIRST obstruction to any change is the injunction to behave nicely. Don't rock the boat. Be polite. Don't upset people. Bev isn't behaving nicely.

From where I sit, that means she's doing her job.

The sad thing is that it's OUR mouths that are frothing, WE who are demanding she behave nicely. We're acting like the DLC. Like the RNC.

If we want this job done, we NEED her and her name out there, pissing people off. Bev is the target. Bev is, obviously, taking the hits.

She isn't harming the cause. The ones screaming "PLAY NICE!" are the ones who don't recognize that we NEED someone out there on the far edge.

I understand completely the Mods' position. The attack here the past few days was stunning and, I thought, well-orchestrated. It consumed the place. Bev is now out of DU.

My school history book had a cartoonist's illustration of wild-eyed Carrie Nation and her hatchet. I still remember it.

If John Kerry had had a tenth of her fire, we would have been watching his inauguration yesterday. Red-staters love that sort of thing. And let me add that if the rest of us had a tenth of her fire, this problem with election mechanics would be well on its way to resolution.

I realize that we all come to politics with the personalities we've developed. And most of us are not going to experience a personality makeover, so we can't all be Dr. Martin Luther Kings or Bev Harrises. But we damned sure need them!

Previous post
Bev Harris vs. Keith Olbermann (12/3/04)


1As posted on the Charlie Rose bulletin board—

Black Box Voting files Public Records lawsuit against Palm Beach County

NOV 30 2004: Today's lawsuit was filed naming Theresa LePore as defendant, citing her for failure to comply with the Black Box Voting public records request of Nov. 2, 2004.

Black Box Voting filed the lawsuit this morning in Palm Beach County, served it per Florida law on LePore's attorney. Black Box Voting then made a surprise visit to the podium at the Florida State Association of Supervisors of Elections meeting held today in Orlando, where LePore was scheduled to make a speech on records retention.

We went in through the kitchen, using a reconassaince map provided by a colleague, led by Kathleen Wynne dressed as hired help. Black Box Voting investigator Kathleen Wynne, in black jeans and a white polo shirt had earlier traveled through the route to the back entrance to the supervisor's meeting, nodding to the waiters.

"Very nice, very nice," Wynne said authoritatively.

Wynne led Bev Harris and Andy Stephenson through the back way without raising so much as an eyebrow, since she looked like hotel staff.

Harris went onto the podium and introduced herself to the crowd. "I know I'm interrupting. This will only take a minute." She turned to LePore, "Since we can't get your attention any other way, I'm serving you with a courtesy copy of the lawsuit we served on your office this morning."

LePore glared, turned her back on Harris, and refused to take the lawsuit, so Harris set it on the table in front of LePore.

Stephenson stood up in front of the crowd of perhaps 200 Florida elections officials.

"This was a courtesy call on Ms. LePore for failing to produce public records," he said. "For any of you who have not complied, we have more of these coming."

It's enough to give election officials the pip. [back]

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