An Irony: The Iowa GOP, Diebold Electronic Voting Machines and the Iowa Straw Poll
After it was known that the Iowa GOP would not allow paper balloting, Vote in Sunshine filed a motion in court to cause an injunction to stop the straw poll and force a paper ballot. The court dismissed the motion due to lack of time for the defendant to properly respond before the straw poll took place. So, Vote in Sunshine decided they would continue with their plans to conduct a paper ballot exit poll as the straw poll voters left the voting stations in an attempt to verify the voting on their own. This I thought would benefit all of us. The Citizens, all the candidates -- most particularly the second tier candidates, the Iowa GOP and everyone else. A paper vote and a count done out in the open. I volunteered to help them.
Wearing bright yellow Vote in Sunshine T shirts and carrying paper ballots, clipboards, affidavits for voters to fill out to swear to their vote, pens, a clear box for ballots and a clicker counter, I along with other volunteers headed toward an assigned exit for the sole purpose of spending most of the day counting the people exiting the straw poll and asking them if they wanted to participate in our paper ballot exit poll. I worked with a great couple from southern Wisconsin.
Two of us were counting voters exiting with our clickers as well as offering them vote verification while the third was handing out the clipboards and affidavits to those participating in the poll. We were at it for less than an hour when the head of the Iowa GOP approached us and told us that we could not do what we were doing and that we would have to stop. When we asked him if this was still America, he said he was not going to get into an argument with us and said we needed to leave. When we was asked if this was still a free country and we were still allowed fair, verifiable balloting, he promptly said he was going to call the police and have us arrested and strode off.
Sure enough, a few minutes later two campus police officers showed up. They didn't interfere with us but rather made several phone calls and stood around while we continued to go about our exit polling. In awhile, the GOP head, the Iowa State U grounds keeper and a captain from the ISU Police showed up. By that time, I had made contact with one of our group heads who also showed up and this new group of four walked off to discuss our situation. Meanwhile, the three of us continued our exit polling efforts.
After several minutes, the debating quartet returned to where we were conducting the poll right outside the east exit of the coliseum to tell us that we did not have a permit to be there and therefore we were not allowed to distribute anything to anyone. We could stay there and talk to people but we could not even hand someone a clipboard with a ballot attached for them to fill out and place in our clear plastic holding bin. A different story than our group had been told the day before.
Though we didn't want to, we three resolved that we would go to jail (all the while getting video evidence) if that's what it took because our cause was fighting a suppression of our freedom and needed to be exposed. We immediately decided that we couldn't hand the clipboards to anyone but we could talk about the exit poll, making sure their vote counted and show them how they could pick up the clipboard on our chair, fill it out and tuck the verification form into a slot in our clear plastic bin -- which we did. The two officers first on the scene stood around another half hour after the police captain had given us our instructions not to distribute and they left.
Needless to say, we went back to what we had originally been doing anyway. It was interesting and got a lot of voter attention when we told them that we were acting under threat of arrest because we were told we didn't have a permit (while operating on public grounds) and that the Iowa GOP didn't want a verification process of any kind to the straw poll. Most were inflamed at such a police state notion.
As it turns out, we collected a total of 900 verification ballots (about 6% of the total votes cast inside). We could have done much better with more help but our point had been made and noticed not only by the GOP who wanted us gone but most importantly the voters who now know that something is terribly wrong with electronic voting machines and counting ballots in the dark and away from public scrutiny and verification. We finished counting and tabulating our verification ballots by about 7:30PM so that we could announce our results after the GOP announced their findings. But something happened!
7PM came and went and no announcement about the straw poll results. We waited and waited and waited some more. Little did we know what was causing the delay. But guess what? One of the electronic voting machines fouled up and the GOP had to hand count around 1500 ballots and tabulate the results!
You see, no matter how hard they try to keep us pinned down, something always happens that ultimately costs the other side credibility. Our effort to induce a paper ballot and make a statement to the other 48 states that the use electronic voting machines is unacceptable when it is not backed up with a paper ballot, couldn't have been given more credibility than to have one of the machines in Iowa breakdown! Especially after the GOP head wanted to have us arrested for merely bringing light to an otherwise dark and offensive attempt to stifle our free exercise to vote and factually know the true results. No doubt the defunct voting machine debacle was incited by our Creator.