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Eva Waskell and the Election Integrity Movement

A personal email message, via the intersession of Gordon Cook:

Eva writes:

"I have been involved with election integrity for over 25 years and this is what I have observed.

While the issue is certainly vast in scope, extremely complex, intractable, and politically sensitive, the core systemic problems have not been honestly defined and widely recognized.

The mainstream media has failed miserably, with a few notable exceptions, to keep the general public informed regarding the consequences of privatizing America’s elections, i.e. the loss of transparency, accountability, meaningful oversight, and the public’s right to know.

Furthermore, when election-related problems and solutions are being discussed by politicians, election officials, academics, computer experts, public interest organizations, and the all powerful vendors of voting equipment, one quickly realizes that the most important stakeholders of all, i.e. well-informed “We the People” citizens, do not yet have a seat at the table on an equal footing with other participants.

Although they continue to be ignored and marginalized in the on-going dialogue about how to fix our dysfunctional system of election administration, citizens have been relentless in doing their homework in election reform 101. However, they’ve been working in cells and there has been little coordination on a national scale. No one is really in charge of the big picture. Part of this fragmentation is due, of course, to the decentralized nature of election administration. There’s also a huge amount of ever-changing, multi-disciplinary information to absorb. Citizens are working in this highly unstructured world with few resources and few support systems. Physical, emotional and financial exhaustion sets in and they burn out after a while. And up until now they’ve largely been preaching to the choir.

The good news is that citizens across the country have been working in the county-level trenches to witness first-hand and plainly document the harsh reality of things like non-enforcement of election laws and restricted election observer access. These citizens have now produced a solid and unique body of information (research, reports, studies, surveys, historical policy documents, news articles, investigative materials, anecdotal evidence, etc.) that needs to reach a much wider audience. Compiling and organizing this material into one central, user-friendly location would be very helpful. There are a few websites that have done an excellent job in this area but these efforts need to be greatly expanded.

Michel Bauwens’ wiki approach could be used as a template to create a comprehensive knowledge base for election reform/election integrity that is citizen-driven, open source, and populated with open election data.
One quick aside. John Seely Brown’s book The Power of Pull discusses the formation of guilds based on a merit system. I envision election integrity citizen guilds functioning as a meritocracy, peer-reviewing work products, developing best practices, and gathering data globally to apply it locally.

One final thought. The election integrity movement needs a robust system of communication, a sustainable funding apparatus, and an active, well-designed educational/outreach program. Tools like social networks and mobile technology can be creatively integrated into this approach. But above all, the movement needs to do some serious soul searching and come together to define itself, its mission and its goals, and develop short-term and long-term strategies on how to get from here to there...state by state, county by county. Without all of these basic requirements--and then some--the infant election integrity movement will not be able to mature, build trusting relationships, sustain itself, and fulfill the promise of permanent change.

Is there anyone in Michel’s p2p network who would be interested in talking with me about how to proceed with creating a wiki? What are the first steps? What principles should I keep in mind? Any lessons learned I should be aware of? What technical assistance is available in the San Francisco area?

My hope is that building an election integrity wiki can serve as the focal point and a first step to bringing the vital issue of election integrity to the public at large and to the policy makers who will be instrumental in determining the effectiveness, longevity and honesty of genuine election reform."

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