Letters from Our Senators—Dianne Feinstein—One of a Hundred

A San Francisco friend of mine wrote to his Senator, who happens to be Dianne Feinstein. His concern was about the timing inherent in draft legislation introduced by the Senator that purported to solve the bugaboo of paper trails in electronic voting.

She’s for it. After the next presidential election, in time for the 2010 mid-terms. In one of those ‘it ain’t my ox being gored’ moments, Senator Feinstein apparently thinks the Democrats have a lock on 2008 and is in no hurry. Here’s her canned reply. Parentheticals are mine;

Thank you for contacting me to share your thoughts about the “Ballot Integrity Act” (S. 1487). I appreciate hearing from you and welcome the opportunity to respond.

(That response is automated, but as you can see, staff enthusiastically inserted “Ballot Integrity Act” (S. 1487) in the blank space)

I share your concerns regarding election integrity. Like you, I believe that it is crucial that every person’s vote is counted. Experiences in recent elections have demonstrated that voting machines can be vulnerable to inaccuracies that compromise our electoral process.

(Has there ever been a Senator who does not ‘share’ a constituent’s concerns and liken themselves to that constituent? That always-appreciated personal touch in automated responses. It’s crucial to Dianne that every vote counts, inaccuracies be fixed, compromise eliminated—after 2008)

I introduced S. 1487 on May 24, 2007. This bill would help ensure the accuracy of future Federal elections by requiring that electronic voting machines print a paper record (when we can get around to it) that can be verified by the voter and is subject to an independent audit. I recognize (and at the same time ignore) your concern about the 2010 deadline for voting machines to produce paper records. However, I believe that using the 2008 elections as a deadline provides states with insufficient time (eight wasted years into the deal) to invest in new technology. Pushing the date back to the 2010 elections will give us more time (four additionally wasted years) to reach a consensus among voting reform advocates and local and state officials (the bribers and the bribed) to enact a new law that provides for increased accuracy and accountability at the polls without raising the specter of creating new problems on Election Day (like that icky old unelected president in 2000).

As Chairman of the Senate Committee on Rules and Administration, please be assured that I will keep your thoughts in mind as the Senate reviews this legislation and other efforts to ensure the legitimacy of the electoral process. (That whole paragraph is so disingenuous that it sucks to have to read it)

Once again, thank you for writing to me. I hope you will continue to keep me informed on issues of importance to you. Should you have any additional questions or comments, please feel free to call my Washington, D.C. office at (202) 224-3841. Best regards. (Translation: don’t call us, we’ll call you)

Sincerely yours, Dianne Feinstein, United States Senator

Which is pretty much the kind of runaround you can expect if you’re not bankrolling the good Senator. My friend responded;

Dear Senator Feinstein,

Thank you for response. I find it difficult to believe what you’ve written. We need time before we can invest in a new technology that is verifiable? So we’ll use a hackable system instead of the old tried-and-true PAPER BALLOTS?

With all due respect, Senator, in your response I read, “Leave it in our hands, we have cut a deal that benefits us, and you are only the voter, the taxpayer, the person who pays our salaries and whom we have sworn to represent. Please do not ask us to choose your priorities – in this case the institution of democracy – over the interests of those who bribe us – oops, I mean who lobby us, and with whom we negotiate.”

Democracy? A wonderful idea. I think we ought to try it!

* For more in-depth articles by Jim on Washington at Work, check out Opinion-Columns.com

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