Bob Fitrakis recently spoke at an event here in Los Angeles, and told us what he thought THE most important race in the nation was this November. Not a Senate seat. Not a Congressional seat. He was talking about the race for Secretary of State here in California.

Why is that office so important?
Secretaries of State control elections. And elections across America are so clearly under attack. Through Abramoff’s lackey Bob Ney, aided unfortunately by our own Chris Dodd, the “Help America Vote Act” (HAVA) is coming back to haunt us. More properly termed the “Hijack America’s Vote Act”, HAVA mandated that all counties must rid themselves of chad-ridden punchcards, and even offered a budget to replace the machines. But with the offer of money came a requirement that at least some of the machines be made accessible to all voters. That meant, necessarily, some sort of computer system that could read out the choices to the blind. Secretaries of State around the country took that as a mandate to change ALL voting machines to some form of computerized system, which was not exactly what HAVA said, but then, who reads legislation, really?

The electronic voting vendors, predominantly Republican owned and controlled, quickly jumped into the fray, offering their services, untried, unproven, to Secretaries of State all over the union. And the SoS’s for the most part didn’t have a clue what the risks were. They saw HAVA in its simplest terms – a federal mandate to replace old systems with new computerized ones, with money attached.

So I want to ask that question again. Do you know who YOUR Secretary of State is? Because that person stands between you and your vote, and you really should find out who is in the office, are they fit, who is running, and who will do the most to insist upon the highest standards for the casting, counting, and auditing of your vote. If we don’t take action in THIS ELECTION, it may not matter much whom we choose in the next.

In my state, that’s easy. Our current Secretary of State, Bruce McPherson, has bent over backwards to accommodate Diebold, Sequoia, and the other vendors, even provisionally certifying systems the Feds themselves wouldn’t certify. He is not our friend.

Debra Bowen, on the other hand, has been a real tiger to our cause, drafting and helping pass several pieces of legislation that strengthen the paltry audit protocols we have in place (such as insisting that absentee ballots be included in the state-law-mandated 1% audit).

Is there an SoS race in your state? Do you know what they have done or would do with your vote? Would you want another Blackwell overseeing your election? If not, find out who is the most deserving of your support and make that a priority. The balance of power on the hill is reason enough to vote in the upcoming election. But EQUALLY IMPORTANT are the races where your vote, literally, is at stake. Find out and tell others. That seat is too important to overlook.

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