Candidates should appear on the ballot if:

Thursday, May 31, 2007

How Fascism Grows in a Culture

Good morning, Oklahoma!

It now appears clear that there was micro-management intervention in the presentation of the Newscast on Fox 25 KOKH on May 29.

I was interviewed by Andrew Speno news anchor on Oklahoma City station KOKH Fox 25. The news event was my effort to circulate a petition for access to the ballot for 2008 as required by Oklahoma election law.

That law has been under litigation since 2004 and finally reached the Oklahoma Supreme Court and they decided unanimously to refuse to hear the case. Therefore, any political candidates attempting to exercise the right to seek public office in Oklahoma under any party label other Democrat or Republican are effectively suppressed by a law which many regard as illegal under both the Oklahoma and U.S. Constitutions.

Mr. Speno and I had an amiable interview for nearly fifty minutes about ballot access law in Oklahoma and my potential candidacy for U.S. Representative in 2008. Later that evening Mr. Speno's report appeared in the Fox 25 nine o'clock newscast which seemed to me generally favorable, even though I was portrayed as a "lone crusader" who
obtained on one citizen signature before being ejected from the premises by the property owner - Albertson's supermarket.

At the conclusion of the Fox news story Mr. Speno announced that Fox was going to poll their viewers whether all political parties should appear on the ballot in Oklahoma. The poll never appeared on the their web site

First, the anchor would not have announced the poll on ballot access if he did not have the normal authority to do so. Second, management must have a political agenda which motivates their intervention on the reporter's normal professional practices. Such micro-management indicates a corporate policy of news shaping. News shaping is
crypto-propaganda. Propaganda is the dissemination of a particular doctrine and the suppression by censorship of controversy with any opposing doctrines. Crypto-propaganda is the attempt to insinuate
doctrine without overt admission that doctrine is being promoted.

There is nothing illegal about such activity under the First Amendment. It is simply ethically wrong. Obviously its practitioners disagree. They must believe they are serving some greater good which justifies subterfuge. This does not make all Fox employees bad people from our ethical standard so long as they resist the attempts.

However, the time will come when they will have to choose between a more professional (libertarian?) ethic and overt complicity. The culprits are management at Fox. This is how fascism takes root in a culture.

I must now admit that my exercise in petitioning yesterday was more than an attempt to challenge the oppression of election law in Oklahoma. Previously I was engaged in a campaign for Congress which was suppressed by Oklahoma ballot law. KOKH interviewed me about that campaign. The presentation of that interview was suspicious. As we
begin this campaign to achieve ballot access by compliance under a stupidly prejudicial law which is beneath judicial notice in this state, I wanted to 'mystery shop' KOKH news policy. Events, I contend, support my conclusions. The Fox management was caught didling their viewers with crypto-propaganda.

They can't even conduct an unscientific poll (for entertainment value alone) about access to the ballot without intervention from management.

Fox viewers beware!

D. Frank Robinson, Candidate for U.S. House of Representatives 2006

Monday, May 28, 2007

Dysfunctional Ballot- Dysfunctional Congress- Dysfunctional Government

"The Democrats should not have caved in to the president. They should have continued to send him bills with a timeline for withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq. So he vetoes them. Eventually the president himself would cut off funds for the troops."

"As an alternative, Congress could inform the president that unless he accepts a timetable for withdrawal, Congress will stop funding the war. If the Democrats are sincere in their claimed desire to end the war, this is the way to do it."

"The power of the purse rests firmly in the hands of Congress. No matter what the president desires to do, if Congress refuses to fund it, the president is helpless. He cannot spend a dime that Congress has not authorized and appropriated."
- Charley Reese
May 28, 2007

Saying that there were not enough votes to over-ride a Presidential veto was an excuse not a reason for caving in.

It is possible that the habit of servility in the Congress is too deep among long-time incumbents that no other outcome could have been expected and that does seem closer to a reason than hiding behind the veil of the veto. Still the habit of Congressional servility does not explain the votes of many of the new House Democrats. Consider these votes from Thursday night on the Iraq supplemental. And remember it was a supplemental. The bill would not have shut down the Department of Defense.

Those voting 'Aye' to set a timeline for withdrawal:
Michael Arcuri, NY
Bruce Braley, Iowa
Kathy Castor, FL
Yvette Clark. NY
Steve Cohen, TN
Joe Courtney, CT
Keith Ellison, MN
John Hall, NY
Phil Hare, Ill
Mazie Hirono, HI
Paul Hodes, NH
Henry Johnson, GA
Ron Klein, FL
David Loebsack, Iowa
Jerry McNerney, CA
Chris Murphy, CT
Patrick Murphy, PA
Ed Perlmutter, CO
John Sarbanes, MD
Carol Shea-Porter, NH
Betty Sutton, OH
Peter Welch, VT
John Yarmuth, KY
That's 23 for Congressional authority.

Those caving-in:
Jason Altmire, PA
Nancy Borda, KS
Chris Carney, PA
Joe Donnelly, IN
Brad Ellsworth, IN
Gabrielle Giffords, AZ
Kirsten Gillibrand, NY
Baron Hill, IN
Steve Kagen, WI
Nicholas Lampson, TX
Tim Mahoney, FL
Harry Mitchell, AZ
Ciro Rodriguez, TX
Heath Shuler, NC
Zackary Space, OH
Timothy Walz, MN
Charles Wilson, OH
That's 17 cave-ins to Presidential power over the Constitutional authority of the Congress.

The point here is that it doesn't matter whether you think the war in Iraq should continue or stop. Under the Constitution, if a majority of the House wants to stop spending money on anything, then the spending has to stop. Whether you or I think they are right or wrong is supposed be settled at the ballot box.

But what if the ballot box no longer serves to discipline the U.S. House of Representatives? Then, the electoral system is fatally dysfunctional. That makes the House dysfunctional and that allows a dysfunctional President to rule autocratically. That means the Constitutional order has collapsed into mere semblances of any democratic check on dictatorship. The only check on a reckless President is his own calculations of what he can get away with before provoking civil disobedience and rebellion. This authoritarian insecurity leads to more and more ruthless methods of a police state.

If you can't fix what's wrong with the ballot box, you must resort to 'other means'. The issue now is: can the ballot box be restored to full functionality?

Saturday, May 26, 2007

When the blowback comes sweeping down the plains

Blowback is a term often used when foreign policy has adverse unintended consequences. Blowback can also be domestic.
Consider this opinion from:

President Bush, the Republican Party, and the Democratic Party have proved to the entire world that the American people have no voice. The American people have no more ability to affect their government’s policy than inmates in a gulag would have.

What do people in other countries think when they hear Bush prattle on about "freedom and democracy" while he ignores opinion polls and election results and detains people without warrants, tortures them, and puts them before military tribunals in which they are denied even knowing the evidence against them? Bush has contrived a situation for defendants in which no defense is possible. In Bush’s America, people can be executed on the basis of hearsay and secret evidence. If this is "freedom and democracy," what is tyranny?

- Paul Craig Roberts
Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan administration. He was Associate Editor of the Wall Street Journal editorial page and Contributing Editor of National Review. He is author or coauthor of eight books, including The Supply-Side Revolution (Harvard University Press). He has held numerous academic appointments, including the William E. Simon Chair in Political Economy, Center for Strategic and International Studies, Georgetown University and Senior Research Fellow, Hoover Institution, Stanford University. He has contributed to numerous scholarly journals and testified before Congress on 30 occasions. He has been awarded the U.S. Treasury's Meritorious Service Award and the French Legion of Honor. He was a reviewer for the Journal of Political Economy under editor Robert Mundell. He is the co-author of The Tyranny of Good Intentions. He is also coauthor with Karen Araujo of Chile: Dos Visiones – La Era Allende-Pinochet (Santiago: Universidad Andres Bello, 2000).

Thursday, May 24, 2007

We need to elect some junk yard dogs to Congress

The general purposes of oversight — and what constitutes this function — can be stated in more specific terms. These terms unavoidably overlap because of the numerous and multifaceted dimensions of oversight. A brief list includes:

1. review the agency rule-making process;
2. monitor the use of contractors and consultants for government services;
3. encourage and promote cooperation between the branches;
4. examine agency personnel procedures;
5. acquire information useful in future policymaking;
6. investigate constituent complaints and media critiques;
7. assess whether program design and execution maximize the delivery of services to beneficiaries - governmental and private;
8. compare the effectiveness of one program with another;
9. protect agencies and programs against unjustified criticisms; and
10. study federal evaluation activities.

That's a lot of promises for 435 people on a couple of dozen committees to keep. So they don't, because they can't. The Congress wants the prestige of looking as if they do. Prestige is a poor substitute for power when the Executive branch needs all of the above done to it. And when the Congress launches a real investigation it seems that is the only thing it can do.

Nothing can be done about the number Senators to do the jobs. But the U.S. House of Representatives can be made larger. With more Congresspersons they could dig further afield and deeper. But, that it just about the last thing any President would tolerate. Which makes a good argument for doing it.

A larger House would cost more money. But we try it for ten years and see if they didn't recover all their costs and a lot more in cutting out Executive branch waste, fraud and abuse corruption. If they failed in ten years, the size of the House could be reduced in size after the next census. If they stopped just one military misadventure by the President they would have paid for themselves ten times over!

Flogging to be continued...

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

We need to elect some junk yard dogs to Congress

Part 2.
SOME HISTORICAL OPINIONS on the Watchdog function of Congress:

James Wilson (The Works of James Wilson, 1896, vol. II, p. 29), an architect of the Constitution and Associate Justice on the first Supreme Court:

"The house of representatives . . . form the grand inquest of the state. They will diligently inquire into grievances, arising both from men and things."

Woodrow Wilson (Congressional Government, 1885, p. 297), perhaps the first scholar to use the term “oversight” to refer to the review and investigation of the executive branch:

"Quite as important as legislation is vigilant oversight of administration. It is the proper duty of a representative body to look diligently into every affair of government and to talk much about what it sees. It is meant to be the eyes and the voice, and to embody the wisdom and will of its constituents. The informing function of Congress should be preferred even to its legislative function."

John Stuart Mill (Considerations on Representative Government, 1861, p. 104), British utilitarian philosopher:

". . . the proper office of a representative assembly is to watch and control the government; to throw the light of publicity on its acts; to compel a full exposition and justification of all of them which any one considers questionable . . ."

These are only samples of the weight of scholarly opinion. There is clearly agreement that the major focus of the Congressional investigative or 'oversight' function is the Executive Branch and the Presidency. It now seems that the last significant and effective oversight of the Executive Branch by the Congress was the Church committee of the U. S. Senate.

The Church Committee is the common term referring to the United States Senate Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities, a U.S. Senate committee chaired by Senator Frank Church (D-ID) in 1975. A precursor to the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, the committee investigated intelligence gathering for illegality by the CIA and FBI after certain activities had been revealed by the Watergate affair. (05/22/2007)

"Committee subpoenas and contempt citations have been effective instruments for gaining access to executive branch documents that are initially withheld. The pressure that builds from these two techniques generally results in the Administration offering new accommodations to satisfy legislative needs. Although both branches at times seek assistance from the courts, the general message from federal judges is that an agreement hammered out between the two branches is better than a directive handed down by a court."

"Congress has as much right to agency documents for oversight purposes as it does for legislation. Executive claims of “deliberative process,” “enforcement sensitive,” “ongoing investigation,” or “foreign policy considerations” have not been, in themselves, adequate grounds for keeping documents from Congress. On the issue of withholding information from Congress, there are often sharp differences within an Administration, especially between the Justice Department and the agencies."

"Further, these case studies show that statutory language that authorizes withholding information from the public is not a legitimate reason for withholding information from Congress. Sharing sensitive information with congressional committees is not the same as sharing information with the public. Courts assume that congressional committees will exercise their powers responsibly. Legislative committees have demonstrated that they have reliable procedures for protecting confidentiality. Finally, congressional capacity to subpoena agency documents from private organizations is not an adequate substitute for receiving them directly from the agency."

Congressional Investigations: Subpoenas and Contempt Power
April 2, 2003
Congressional Research Service RL31836

When Congress doesn't find out something, it's because it doesn't really want to know. The public be damned.

See also:

To be continued...

Absolute power corrupts more than the powerful...

An excellent insight into the political psyche of many Americans:

Why Bush hasn't been impeached
Congress, the media and most of the American people have yet to turn decisively against Bush because to do so would be to turn against some part of themselves.

By Gary Kamiya in Salon, May. 22, 2007

However, what he does not discuss is that for many other Americans impeachment is simply a non-option because they no longer feel elected representatives will listen or can be made to listen. Many feel the corruption of the state has become so entrenched that Americans no longer trust anyone in authority to use that authority to do the right thing.

It can be summed up this way: Absolute power corrupts absolutely and so does absolute powerlessness. Too many people feel their own sense of powerlessness is a sign of their own corruption. Americans are becoming abject and hopeless. This is a very dangerous situation for everyone.

Monday, May 21, 2007

We need to elect some junk yard dogs to Congress

In blunt colloquial terms, we have too few watch dogs and too many lap dogs in the U.S. House of Representatives. Enlarging the size of the U.S. House of Representatives would bring much needed talent to bear on the task of curbing Executive and bureaucratic hubris, secrecy, abuse and incompetence. We need more people in the U.S. House to get more brains and more guts confronting excessive Executive power.

What is "congressional oversight?" Simply put, it's members of Congress monitoring Executive Branch activities. The dictionary definition of "oversight" is "watchful care; superintendence; general supervision."

Congress regards oversight as "the authority to conduct inquiries or investigations of the executive, to have access to records or materials held by the executive, or to issue subpoenas for documents or testimony from the executive."

For Members of Congress, especially in the House of Representatives, to exercise their oversight responsibility they must have a clear understanding of their authority to do so. In addition, Members must have sufficient time, staff resources and independence from obstructive leadership to investigate. It is seldom considered that there must be enough Members with a diversity of talents to undertake the tasks.

Furthermore, rigorous Congressional oversight with more Members would have the added benefit of lessening the citizen's last resort to the courts for relief, if any relief is to had at all.

The Constitution grants Congress extensive authority to oversee and investigate executive branch activities. The constitutional authority for Congress to conduct oversight stems from such explicit and implicit provisions as:

1. The power of the purse. The Constitution provides that “No Money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law.” Each year the Committee on Appropriations of the House reviews the financial practices and needs of federal agencies. The appropriations process allows the Congress to exercise extensive control over the activities of executive agencies. Congress can define the precise purposes for which money may be spent, adjust funding levels, and prohibit expenditures for certain purposes.

2. The power to organize the executive branch. Congress has the authority to create, abolish, reorganize, and fund federal departments and agencies. It has the authority to assign or reassign functions to departments and agencies, and grant new forms of authority and staff to administrators. Congress, in short, exercises ultimate authority over executive branch organization and generally over policy.

3. The power to make all laws for “carrying into Execution” Congress’s own enumerated powers as well as those of the executive. Article I grants Congress a wide range of powers, such as the power to tax and coin money; regulate foreign and interstate commerce; declare war; provide for the creation and maintenance of armed forces; and establish post offices.

Augmenting these specific powers is the so-called “Elastic Clause,” which gives Congress the authority “To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof.” Clearly, these provisions grant broad authority to regulate and oversee departmental activities established by law.

4. The power to confirm officers of the United States. The confirmation process not only involves the determination of a nominee’s suitability for an executive (or judicial) position, but also provides an opportunity to examine the current policies and programs of an agency along with those policies and programs that the nominee intends to pursue.

5. The power of investigation and inquiry. A traditional method of exercising the oversight function, an implied power, is through investigations and inquiries into executive branch operations. Legislators often seek to know how effectively and efficiently programs are working, how well agency officials are responding to legislative directives, and how the public perceives the programs. The investigatory method helps to ensure a more responsible, less costly bureaucracy, while supplying Congress with information needed to formulate new legislation and repeal inevitable mistakes.

6. Impeachment and removal. Impeachment provides Congress with a powerful, ultimate oversight tool to investigate alleged executive and judicial misbehavior, and to eliminate such misbehavior through the convictions and removal from office of the offending individuals. A rigorous exercise of Congressional oversight should make it far less necessary for Congress to resort to impeachments as the last resort. In fact, every impeachment is indicative of some prior failure of Congressional oversight.

To be continued...

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Ballot Access Video

Interview with the nation's foremost expert on ballot access for political candidates. Why is the only place you can shop for a candidate is the 'company store'. Do you really want to "Owe your soul to the company store?"

You load sixteen tons, what do you get
Another day older and deeper in debt
Saint Peter don't you call me 'cause I can't go
I owe my soul to the company store
- 16 Tons - Classic Country Hit by Tennessee Ernie Ford

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Oklahoma Supreme Court : Our lips are sealed too.

Judiciously Speaking _.|.. and I really mean it!

Entry for May 16, 2007

Oklahoma Supreme Court Refuses to Hear Ballot Access Case
May 15th, 2007
On May 15, the Oklahoma Supreme Court refused to hear the Libertarian Party's ballot access case, a case that had been filed in 2004. The case is Libertarian Political Organization v Clingman. The party had spent a great deal of money in 2004 to submit a petition signed by 2% of the last vote cast, but the law requires 5%. The party had felt that turning in a petition signed by 27,000 signatures would establish that it had a modicum of voter support. The fact that no one else even tried in 2004, and that Oklahoma voters were the only voters with no choices for president on their ballot except Bush and Kerry in 2004, also seemed powerful evidence that the law is too strict.

The Oklahoma Constitution says that elections shall be "free and equal", but that doesn't seem to mean anything in the real world. Oklahoma is one of 5 states that doesn't permit write-ins, so Oklahoma voters who wanted to vote for someone other than Bush or Kerry in 2004 completely lost their right to vote.

http://www.ballot- 2007/05/15/ oklahoma- supreme-court- refuses-to- hear-ballot- access-case/ #comment- 61734

Monday, May 14, 2007

Rove administration engaged in election rigging

Charging voter fraud to divert attention from efforts to rig the count?

The election system in the United States can no longer be trusted. Voting machines and the computers that add vote totals are being run with computer programs or software that can change vote totals. Where historic voter fraud required dozens of people colluding, now a small circle of corrupt election officials and voting machine technicians can skew results.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Gerrymandering and a cure for it

Something for the 'Left Behind'
Entry for May 12, 2007

In my previous discussions I have advocated allowing voters in congressional districts to 'swap their ballots' with voters in another district by producing ballots on demand at all polling places. There still remained the situation of voters who, for whatever reason, would not avail themselves of this option. How do we prevent them from being gerrymandered to advantage certain candidates? The following would appear to be a solution. It is compatible with Voter Choice of Districts and, as I see it, both together are superior to either alone. Full details can be seen using the link below to My recommendation does not yet extend to the idea of range voting itself -- yet. I am still studying that.

Gerrymandering and a cure for it – the shortest splitline algorithm (executive summary)

1. Gerrymandering in 2006 USA is enormous and pervasive. It appears to be more severe than in any other major democracy.
2. Gerrymandering can lead to near-permanent 1-party domination and essentially eliminate voter choice.
3. A simple cure is to draw all districts with the "shortest splitline algorithm" involving approximately-bisecting a state's population with the shortest eligible splitting line.
4. This way all districts have simple shapes, are completely unbiased, are easily independently checked, and you don't have to trust anybody.
5. Experimental fact: "Independent" and "bi-partisan" district-drawing commissions often do not work to stop gerrymandering.

Default constituency districts

In my previous discussions I have advocate allowing voters in congressional districts to 'swap their ballots' with voters in another district by producing ballots on demand at all polling places. There still remained the situation of voters who, for whatever reason, would not avail themselves of this option. How do we prevent them from being gerrymandered to advantage certain candidates? The following would appear to be a solution. It is compatible with Voter Choice of Districts and, as I see it, both together are superior to either alone. Full details can be seen using the link below to My recommendation does not yet extend to the idea of range voting itself -- yet. I am still studying that.

Gerrymandering and a cure for it – the shortest splitline algorithm (executive summary)

1. Gerrymandering in 2006 USA is enormous and pervasive. It appears to be more severe than in any other major democracy.
2. Gerrymandering can lead to near-permanent 1-party domination and essentially eliminate voter choice.
3. A simple cure is to draw all districts with the "shortest splitline algorithm" involving approximately-bisecting a state's population with the shortest eligible splitting line.
4. This way all districts have simple shapes, are completely unbiased, are easily independently checked, and you don't have to trust anybody.
5. Experimental fact: "Independent" and "bi-partisan" district-drawing commissions often do not work to stop gerrymandering.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Screw 'em when they vote, Screw 'em all around!


Question: What happens if you lobby a lawmaker for $4 billion in expenditures for touch-screen (DRE) voting machines and go back to that same lawmaker two years later asking to dump DREs?

Answer: You lose credibility. It might be hard to lobby for other things. It's politically embarrassing. And your members, or funders, might have a few questions to ask about the prudence of your lobbying expenditures.


The road to voting computers was paved with good intentions. No one knew that some of the programmers for voting computers would turn out to be convicted embezzlers.

No one realized that the main sponsor of the HAVA bill -- Rep. Bob Ney -- would end up going to jail on corruption charges.

Few realized that the federal testing labs, Ciber and Wyle, weren't doing their jobs and their overseers -- NASED and now the EAC -- failed to check their work.
Wyle failures (Bowen Hearing):
Ciber failures:

HAVA bought a lemon.


Progressive public interest groups. Labor unions. Civil rights groups.

While many election reform activists are under the impression that touch-screen (DRE) voting machines were some sort of Republican plot to take over America, the truth is that lobbying for the DRE-seeking "Help America Vote Act" came primarily from the foundation of the Democratic Party itself.

Activists throughout America have expressed surprise at the Democratic Party's unwillingness to pull DREs off the shelf. One reason is simply this: To do so would damage the credibility of those who lobbied for HAVA. And those who lobbied for HAVA just happen to be the biggest funders and activist workhorses for the Democratic Party itself.


1. Public interest groups - mostly progressive
2. Labor unions
3. Minority rights groups
4. Disability rights groups
5. Industry

Of these, the first four tend to favor Democrats but the fifth group -- industry, the group charged with writing the computer code that counts America's votes -- is made of of vendors that are more often close to the Republican Party.

Democrats lobbied HAVA in but to a large extent, Republican-affiliated vendors executed the mechanics of the plan. Some would call this comical; others, tragic.


1. People for the American Way
2. Common Cause
3. American Civil Liberties Union
4. League of Women Voters
5. American Jewish Committee
6. Hadassah
7. American Association for Retired Persons
8. Public Citizen
9. American Network of Community Options and Resources
10. Constitution Project (Georgetown University)
11. Open Society Policy Center (Soros)
12. American Bar Association


1. American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME)
2. Laborers International Union of North America
3. International Brotherhood of Teamsters
4. United Auto Workers
5. American Federation of Teachers
7. UNITE (Industrial & Textile employees)

Of the seven HAVA-lobbying groups above, five are among the Top-20 largest donors of all time to any political party. All five donate almost exclusively to the Democratic Party and its candidates. None of the top 20 Republican donors lobbied for HAVA.

According to, the labor unions that lobbied for HAVA have given nearly $150 million to support Democrats since 1989, and six were in the Top-20 Democratic PAC funders for 2006-06.


1. NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund, Inc.
2. National Council of La Raza
3. Mexican American Legal Defense & Educational Fund (MALDEF)


1. American Foundation for the Blind
2. The ARC of the United States
3. National Disability Rights Network
4. Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund
5. United Cerebral Palsy Association
6. Paralyzed Veterans of America

Black Box Voting has been unable to locate the lobbying disclosure forms for the American Association of Persons with Disabilities (AAPD) featuring the vocal Jim Dickson, nor did we find any disclosure forms for the National Federation for the Blind (NFB), the group that took $1 million from Diebold. Misfiled? Misnamed? Overlooked? Omitted?

Link for NFB $1 million from Diebold:

1. Riverside County, Calif.
2. San Diego County, Calif.
3. Ventura County, Calif.
4. Miami-Dade County, FL


1. Accenture
2. VoteHere
3. Election Systems & Software
4. AccuPoll
5. Danaher
6. Association of Assistive Technology Act Programs
7. US Business & Industry Council
8. Assocation of Technology Act Projects

Not found on lobbying forms pushing HAVA: The SAIC, the ITAA, and Diebold.

Diebold Election Systems Inc does not show up on the 2001-02 HAVA lobbying forms, but did lobby for elections issues in 2004 and 2005.

Also notably missing are the firms referenced by R. Doug Lewis of "The Election Center" in an August 2003 meeting. In this tape recorded meeting, he said that HAVA was put into place by an election systems task force which included Lockheed, Northrop-Grumman, EDS, and Accenture.

Of these, only Accenture shows up the lobbying forms, and there is no entity called Election anything, except for Election System & Software and another company,, which lobbied for Internet voting. (See Chapter 8 of Black Box Voting for more on the Saudi-owned, which was later taken over by Accenture - - See Chapter 16 for more information on the tape recorded meeting: )

What about Choicepoint? Choicepoint says it didn't lobby for HAVA. Choicepoint says it hasn't had any involvement in elections.

The lobbying forms don't show lobbying for voting machines, but a lobbying firm called Fleishman-Hillard Government Relations filed a registration form in 2002 indicating they planned to lobby for "Election Reform" on behalf of Choicepoint. Muddying things up, no 2002 lobbying form appeared showing that they did. In 2001, however, a lobbying form clearly puts Choicepoint in the middle of HAVA lobbying, showing that Choicepoint was involving itself in lobbying for the voter registration component of HAVA.

Choicepoint has repeatedly stated that they have "no involvement whatsoever" in elections, and in rebuttal to a controversial article that appeared for a short while on OpEd News, Choicepoint came on to deny that they lobbied for HAVA. More on Choicepoint here:

Choicepoint, a controversial database broker, clearly cannot state that it has "no involvement in elections."

Choicepoint stakeholder Donna Curling, wife of Choicepoint chief Doug Curling, has continued to fund election reform lobbying by providing funding for some of the activists working on the Holt Bill.


Those who lobbied for HAVA were convinced that the DRE machines would solve problems, helping more people vote.

1. Many of the HAVA reformers believed that with DREs, people with less education would be more likely to fill out the whole ballot. In fact, they reasoned, the DRE machines would be easier to use for educationally disadvantaged populations, minorities, non-English-speaking voters, and the disabled.

Few studies back these conclusions up, and those that do have generally not been replicated, or were not peer reviewed, and sometimes show methodology that is as flawed as the lemons HAVA bought. The occasional studies that have been done -- even those prepared by DRE advocates -- sometimes end up with troubling caveats. A Georgia study purported to show that "most people like voting on the DREs" (but rarely mentions the small print: The same study showed that the African-Americans surveyed distrusted the touch-screens).

2. The citizens' right to oversee local elections -- and especially the citizens' right to even get access to information -- has been all but eliminated through the implementation of HAVA. The original civil rights concept was virtuous.

Federal Government is the entity that enacted civil rights, HAVA reformers reasoned, so therefore let's ask the federal government to fix our elections process.

Be careful what you ask for. It just might get "fixed."


If federal government is going to correct anything, it should start with enacting tougher standards to give citizens Freedom of Access to Elections Information -- mandating that the system actually PRODUCE the information needed for citizens to make sure the right candidate was place in office, in a TIMELY manner, that is COST EFFECTIVE and USABLE, prohibiting removal of the information through proprietary claims.

And above all, local CITIZEN oversight must be protected. In almost every case, discoveries of problems with elections and the computers that count them have been discovered by ordinary citizens, not by government oversight, auditors, consultants, certifiers, or experts.

And if we are going to rid ourselves of the DREs, we need to get past the -- er -- little "problem" of the threat to credibility if former HAVA lobbyists take the courageous step of changing course.

They couldn't have known. Perhaps a set of tough investigative hearings can provide the evidence to brace those backbones for the change in direction. Look to Calif. Secretary of State Debra Bowen's well-prepped, no-nonsense hearings on the certification process for examples, and start by issuing subpoenas to Diebold's master programmer, Talbot Iredale, and Ciber's Shawn Southworth (who refused to show up for Bowen's hearing).

This thing can be done. It doesn't need a bandaid, it needs a disinfectant.


Photocopies of the lobbying forms are in the process of being uploaded to the Black Box Voting Document Archive. You will find lobbying forms for all of the groups listed above as they are uploaded here:


A convenient update to a really inconvenient truth!

At least one scholar has comprehensively studied the apportionment amendment.

Scholarly analysis of the case for the reapportionment amendment. Very through!

See for many details. The author of that site does not endorse the opinions presented here.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

A really inconvenient truth! - Part Five

Authoritarianism by the Numbers: A really inconvenient truth!
D. Frank Robinson
Copyright 2007

Part Five

( 2.) Does the proposed amendment make our system more politically responsive or protect individual rights? A campaign for ratification of the 28th Amendment could initiate a spirited national debate on a number of issues related to representation and elections. Furthermore, a companion amendment which simply corrects the last clause could be ratified in tandem with the 28th Amendment as the 29th Amendment. There is no other Constitutional way to correct the original defective language in the pending 28th Amendment. The two amendments could take effect almost concurrently with the 29th contingent on the ratification of the 28th. A larger House of Representatives with smaller constituencies would open greater access by the public to the Congress. The closer to the Census, the better for ratification. The larger the number of constituent-districts, the greater the opportunity for a more diverse and proportionally representative Congress.

( 3.) Are there significant practical or legal obstacles to the achievement of the objectives of the proposed amendment by other means? There would appear to be fewer practical obstacles to enlarging the number of Representatives with the capabilities of existing technology than have been encountered in trying to convert the entire electorate to electronic voting. Legal obstacles to ratification would almost certainly emerge from opponents. The merits of those alleged obstacles might well have to be litigated. That is simply part of the process.

( 4.) Is the proposed amendment consistent with related constitutional doctrine that the amendment leaves intact? Congressional hearings to draft the 29th Amendment would implicate the work of the First Congress in drafting the pending 28th Amendment. These issues would no doubt be addressed in drafting the provisions of the 29th. Enlarging the size of the U.S. House of Representatives would tend to mitigate issues surrounding the 'fairness' of re-districting. More districts means more options for boundaries acceptable to all parties.

( 5.) Does the amendment embody enforceable, and not merely aspirational standards? If the provisioning of 435 seats is enforceable, the provisioning of perhaps 1776 seats should also be enforceable. It would not necessarily thwart the aspirations of incumbent congresspersons to be re-elected. There would be plenty of seats to accommodate them and none of them would be forced to run against one another. The number of seats would increase for every state.

( 6.) Have proponents of the proposed amendment attempted to think though...ways in which the amendment would interact with other constitutional provisions and principles? Yes.

( 7.) Has there been full and fair debate on the merits of the proposed amendment? No. Not yet. That's the problem before us. Shall the people confront the incumbent Congress? It is notable that resolutions were introduced in the 107th, 108th and 109th Congresses to appoint a commission to make recommendations on “the appropriate size of membership of the House of Representatives.” No action has been taken. We must conclude that since the Congress does not want the issue even studied and discussed, it is entirely appropriate for citizens to independently study and discuss this issue in the context of the pending apportionment amendment to the U. S. Constitution. This amendment presents a viable opportunity for a 'velvet revolution' - revolution under the Constitution.

( 8.) Has Congress provided for a nonextendable deadline for ratification by the states so as to ensure that there is a contemporaneous consensus by Congress and the states that the proposed amendment is desirable? I find guideline Eight most objectionable. This concern is not really applicable to the pending 28th amendment. However, it does raise an interesting issue. Where is the constitutional authority for the Congress to place any limit on the time for consideration of proposed amendments by the states? Any such limit is over-reaching by the Congress and a violation of the rights of the states. The First Congress did not do it. The 27th Amendment has been adopted legitimately and there is no reason why this pending amendment, or any other proposed amendment for that matter, should carry an infirmity which previous amendments have not carried. In Coleman v. Miller, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the ratification of a constitutional amendment is “political” in nature and that Congress has the power via Article V of the U.S. Constitution to modify the mode of an amendment's ratification. SCOTUS got it wrong again. Nevertheless, a nonextendable deadline clause of seven years in the proposed 29th Amendment would have no detrimental effect on the 28th. The pending amendment cannot be withdrawn from the states. If it does not become the 28th Amendment, it could be the 29th or the 30th Amendment.

Parenthetically, it seems entirely appropriate to consider another amendment that would clearly prohibit the Congress from planting timed improvised explosive devices (time limits for ratification) in Constitutional amendments, but that is another matter for another time.

In conclusion, it appears reasonable that the pending 28th amendment, which was intended to assure both (a) proportionality between representation and constituency and (b) perpetual enlargements of the U. S. House of Representatives, meets at least six of the eight criteria suggested by the Constitution Project. Or phrasing it another way, only six of the eight criteria are applicable to this amendment. It is therefore not really necessary to fully engage the last two criteria in this instance. If the argument on the first six criteria is sufficient for the 28th Amendment, then it is also sufficient for the correcting companion 29th Amendment - with or without a deadline provision is a matter of lesser controversy in this particular case.

The world's largest parliamentary or legislative body is the: National People's Congress, China with 2,937 members. China has a population of about 1.3 billion. There is one member in their Congress for every 434,000 people. The U. S. House of Representatives has 435 members. Each member of the U.S. House represents an average of 647,000 people. That's one and a half as many as the as the average Chinese representative. To have the same ratio of members as China the U. S. House would need to add 213 members. Of course this comparison is not necessarily relevant for U. S. citizens. Chinese citizens have very little influence on their rigidly authoritarian government. The relevant issue for Americans is whether we have more influence on this government or whether the government is merely better at disguising its authoritarian character? You probably knew the answer already. So what are you going to do about it?


Stop the World! Breaking History!

ONE Member of Congress wanted to enlarge the House in 2001

May 21, 2001

The following “Dear Colleague” letter was sent by the office of Rep. Alcee Hastings to other Members of the U.S. House of Representatatives.

Dear Colleague:

In the past 90 years, the U.S. has become the second most underrepresented democracy in the entire world, but the size of the House of Representatives has remained the same. In the past 90 years, U.S. population has more than tripled, but the size of the House of Representatives has remained the same. In the past 90 years, four states have joined the Union, but the size of the House of Representatives has remained the same. In fact, in the past 90 years, Congress has addressed permanently increasing the size of the House of Representatives only once.

British House of Commons

659 Members

1 Member per 90,288 people

Canadian House of Commons

301 Members

1 Member per 103,924 people

South Africa National Assembly

400 Members

1 Member per 108,553 people
German Bundestag

669 Members

1 Member per 123,752 people
Austrailia House of Representatives

148 Members

1 Member per 129,521 people
Japan Shugi-in

500 Members

1 Member per 253,100 people
Russia State Duma

450 Members

1 Member per 324,447 people
Nigeria House of Representatives

360 Members

1 Member per 342,605 people
Brazil Camara dos Deputados

513 Members

1 Member per 467,190 people
U.S. House of Representatives

435 Members

1 Member per 645,632 people
Indian Lok Sabha

552 Members

1 Member per 1,836,963 people

While the U.S. claims the title “Leader of the Free World,” after India, it is the least representative democracy in the world! If you don’t believe me, just look at how the U.S. House of Representatives compares to other democratic country’s representative bodies:

The effect that an increase in the size of the House of Representatives will have on the American political system is obvious. Increasing the size of the House will result in a reduced amount of campaign spending, smaller Congressional districts, more personal interaction between Members of Congress and their constituents, and most importantly, better representation for the American people.

On February 23, 2001, I introduced H.R. 506, a resolution to create a commission to study the size of the House of Representatives and the method by which representatives are chosen. I invite you to become a cosponsor of this essential piece of legislation aimed at putting the power back into the hands of the people. If you would like to become a cosponsor or have any questions, please contact me or David Goldenberg on my staff at 5-1313.


Alcee L. Hastings
Member of Congress

Still to be continued...

A really inconvenient truth! - Part Four

Authoritarianism by the Numbers: A really inconvenient truth!
D. Frank Robinson
Copyright 2007

Part Four

Is it also irrational to fix the proportion of constituents to Representatives? Or, considering the question from another perspective, is it rational (non-arbitrary) to fix the size of the population in order to have a House of Representatives with a 'workable' number of members? If the size of the population doesn't matter, why not reduce the size of the House to just fifty members – one for each state. Wouldn't that still be democratic? If the fundamental objective is to have the size of the House small enough for them to get along with whatever the program may be, then the fewer the better.

The historical evidence indicates that the size of the House of Representatives was fixed at 435 just when the population was growing in ways that threatened the interests of those who felt more entitled to their offices than any commitment to a principle of proportionality between constituents and the Representative. After all it only a mere custom of only a century's practice. Democratic elements are expendable when it is inexpedient for the few.

The authors of Constitutional amendments in the First Congress were neither stupid nor inattentive. But supposing that this defect in the apportionment amendment was a mistake that just slipped by, why wasn't a corrected Amendment immediately resubmitted for ratification?

Possibly because after ten of the twelve amendments were ratified the political pressure was off the federalist-centralist elements to negotiate a more democratic Congress. Thereafter, the size of the House became a matter of custom not Constitutional law. Customs change it becomes expedient. By the time of the early 20th century expediency finally trumped mere custom. Today, the reverse of the original intent has been elevated to legislation. The current law fixing a maximum size on the House of Representatives reveals how little trust can be placed in mere custom to protect the people's interest.

Or, why at the climax of progressive democratic zeal in the 1930s wasn't an amendment submitted to recover proportionality? Quite likely because Jim Crow in the South and anti-emigrant bias in the North were allied against it.

Or, why in the 1990s, when the 27th Amendment was adopted from the same original basket of twelve wasn't an amendment submitted? In this case the answer is not at all clear yet. It may have been simple lethargy or inertia.

Should 21st century Americans now attempt to ratify a 28th Amendment with the 'improvised explosive device' embedded in the last clause? I think we should. The antique IED can be disarmed with a short 29th Amendment. Besides the Congress has lost its credibility in getting the job done on their own initiative. They must now be driven by a population of defrauded voters.

The language in the last clause consistent with the intended purpose would read this way:
“After the first enumeration required by the first Article of the Constitution, there shall be one Representative for every thirty thousand, until the number shall amount to one hundred, after which, the proportion shall be so regulated by Congress, that there shall be not less than one hundred Representatives, nor less than one Representative for every forty thousand persons, until the number of Representatives shall amount to two hundred, after which the proportion shall be so regulated by Congress, that there shall not be less than two hundred Representatives, **nor less than** one Representative for every fifty thousand persons.

But the original language of an amendment pending ratification cannot be changed. It can be partially repealed with language in another amendment which is ratified to be effective after the ratification of the first. A companion amendment to correct the flaw is necessary. A companion amendment could take effect if, and only if, the primary amendment took effect. This is not novel. Many amendments in the past have done exactly that. The language of those amendments is contingent upon the previous language which they are modifying. After one amendment is ratified, another amendment is ratified to unratify the previous one – in whole or in part.
Of course, a companion 29th amendment could also have other clauses concerning the principle of proportionality in apportioning Representatives. The companion amendment would have to go through all the requirements to be placed before the states for ratification. But the 28th Amendment could still continue through the ratification process until the 29th was submitted. But it need not be ratified by the three-fourths of the states and become effective before the 29th is submitted for ratification. The 28th could linger just a few states short of ratification until the 29th was available for ratification. The 29th could then quickly move to 'catch up' with the 28th. Then the 28th could be ratified on one day and the 29th on the next day. The political result would be to make them effective as if they were one amendment. The practical implementation would not take place until the elections after the next decennial census (2012?).
Perhaps all the 'teeming masses' proclaiming their devotion to the spirit and letter of Constitution might welcome this opportunity to revisit the work of the founding generation and put a 21st century 'software patch' on the Constitutional code base. I think the original idea was that the Constitution is an open source project to which anyone can contribute.

To be continued...

A really inconvenient truth! - Part Three

Authoritarianism by the Numbers: A really inconvenient truth!

D. Frank Robinson

Copyright 2007

Part Three

Had the apportionment amendment been drafted as intended and ratified at any time before the 2000 census, it would have permitted the U.S. House of Representatives today to be composed of as many as 5628 Representatives each with a constituency-district population of 50,004, but no more than that ratio. Also by way of examples, the State of Oklahoma could have had sixty-nine members in the House and Wyoming just ten. Under the existing scheme of a fixed 385 apportioned Representatives Oklahoma has five Representatives and Wyoming has one. The Wyoming Representative has 495,304 constituents. Each Oklahoma Representative has nearly 691,000 constituents. A 7 to 5 ratio is not exactly one person, one vote. It is blatantly not equal proportionality.

It is not necessary to implicate the possible relationship between the ratification of the16th Amendment and the end to proportionality in representation by no longer increasing the size of the House every ten years. It is not necessary, but it could be inferred from the circumstances.

While a House of 5628 Representatives may seem preposterous, isn't a House of 435 Representatives for a population of 300 million also preposterous? The question for Americans today - what number between 435 and 5628 is most acceptable to the people? Almost no one seems to want to seek an answer. It is nevertheless a legitimate and open constitutional question. It should be settled before the next apportionment after the 2010 Census! One could take a half-a-loaf position that 2077 would be a moderate compromise (5628-435/2). One could, but one would need not be constrained by the Constitution from seeking a three-quarter loaf or the whole enchilada.

Unfortunately, ratification of the pending amendment as the 28th by itself will not resolve the issue of a more just proportionality for representation. The amendment was drafted with a defect in its language.

Ratification of the apportionment amendment would make sense only if were adopted with a companion amendment, the 29th, to heal the probably intentional sabotage of the language in the 28th.

The intent was clearly to establish the eventual maximum population size for a Congressional district of 50,000. This would assure that the size of the House of Representatives would continue to increase with the population and could never be arbitrarily capped in size to entrench a class or faction in the House – without another Constitutional amendment to alter the proportionality. The objection of the opponents to Constitution was never that the size of a congressional constituency might become too small or the size of the House might become too large. Or at least that the size of the House membership might become too large in the lifetime of the next few generations. The fear among many people was that the House would become too small and the constituencies too large. The amendment also shows the drafting error, which was probably deliberate, effectively nullified the only plausible purpose of the amendment – too keep the size of the House continually increasing by fixing the maximum proportion between constituents and Representatives. In the amendment's last clause the phrase “nor less than”, which would have been consistent, was apparently altered in a conference committee by a Senator to “nor more than.”

Why do some scholars make this claim? By simply reading the whole amendment in the context of its historic avowed purpose and logic. Given a population of a determinant number, the relationship between the size of a constituent-district is inverse to the number of Representatives apportioned to all districts. Conversely, the number of Representatives apportioned to the whole population is inverse to the population of each constituent-district. If the population of the constituent-districts is allowed to float upward, fewer Representatives need to be apportioned. Or, the more Representatives that are apportioned, the lower the constituent-district population ratio will be for each Representative. One need only inspect the actual historical numbers to see the relationship until 1910.

Every clause modifying the absolute number of Representatives says “not less than.” The phrase in the clauses of “not less than” sets an absolute minimum on the number of Representatives in the House twice, but no maximum. Every clause modifying the proportion of constituents to Representatives says “nor less than.” However, the last clause modifying the proportion of constituents to Representatives reverses the meaning by saying “nor more than.” The phrase in the last clause of “nor more than” sets a minimum on the number of constituents in proportion to the number of Representatives; this means a maximum on the number of Representatives is permissible so long as the ratio of constituents exceeds 50,000 to one Representatives But the minimum number of Representatives had already been set at 200 in the previous clause. Why would the minimum be set redundantly? The result is to create a graphical 'hockey stick' which reverses original construction and a century of practice. Absurd and curious.

As originally drafted, this defect in the provision would create a 'paradox' if the total population declined below two hundred (the minimum number of Representatives) times 50,000 (the minimum number of constituents per Representatives) or ten million in which case any apportionment would be in violation of the provision.

Actually, the case for paradox is worse than that. Every state must have one Representative regardless of population. The Constitution provides no guidance about the status of statehood if the population falls so low as to approach zero in a state. Presumably, if there are enough people to fill the required offices all is well. But if the House must have two hundred Representatives and each state must have one Representative, then there can never be more than two hundred states - ever. That may seem ample, but why create a rule which could limit the number of states? Today, we have 50 states. After deducting one for each state, there must be at least 150 seats for apportionment among the 50 to obtain a minimum of 200 Representatives required in the pending amendment. At the same time there must be at least 50,000 people for each Representative. One hundred fifty times 50,000 = 7,500,000. Suppose 7 million people chose to live in one state and only 500,000 wanted to live in the other 49 states? Hopefully we shall never have face that situation, but why draft such a construction? But if it happened, the Constitution could be amended to restore some proportionality without resorting to forcible deannexation of under-populated states. What is the point of this thought exercise? To demonstrate that fixing the size of the U. S. House of Representatives to any absolute maximum or minimum number is irrational.

To be continued...

A really inconvenient truth! - Part Two

Authoritarianism by the Numbers: A really inconvenient truth!

D. Frank Robinson

Copyright 2007

Part Two

In the early 20th century rural Congressmen in southern states became jealous of losing power to urban northern states. The newly arrived immigrants were settling in the Northern urban areas and many Southerners, both black and white, were also emigrating north and west. Unable to build a “Berlin Wall” around the South, they simply blocked apportionment and stopped enlarging the size of the House. In fact, after the Census of 1920 the Congress refused to reapportion themselves at all! The provisions of the Constitution became their “inconvenient truth.” And they got away with it. And all of their successors of both traditional parties have gotten away with it again and again and again. They did not simply refuse to reapportion. They refused to reapportion with a larger House of Representatives Just another of America's dirty little open political secrets – just look at the numbers. It is indeed an inconvenient truth for them and an oppressive truth for all of us.

The language of this original amendment indicates an intent to assure the people that the size of the House of Representatives would increase from one Representative per 30,000 population up one Representative per 40,000, then to one Representative per fifty thousand population thereafter and the size of the House could never be reduced below two hundred members. But the text of the amendment as it stands, if ratified today as the 28th , would merely allow, but not require, the U.S. House of Representatives be expanded so that it is composed of as many as one Representative per fifty thousand population maximum and two hundred Representatives minimum. It would change nothing in the composition of a House of 435 member with constituency-districts over 650,000.

The present size of the U.S. House has been fixed at 435 since 1910. The population has tripled since the 1910 Census. The average population of a House district after the 2000 Census is about 650,000 – thirteen fold the size prescribed in the pending amendment. Even a return to the proportionality of 1910 would be a significant liberalization of representation; there would be at least 1305 Representatives. This is not a literal violation of the amendment. But it does raise the question: What was the point of the amendment anyway? Was it just to raise the minimum ratio of population for representation from 1:30,000 to 1:50,000? Was there a widespread fear that representatives faced a scarcity of constituents? Were Madison and his contemporaries in Congress silly, incompetent or devious?

Occasionally, a few pundits have suggested that enlarging the U.S. House of Representatives should be seriously considered. Almost no one in the hired media has had anything to say about democratizing the House, no documentaries on PBS, nor have the public policy think tanks, nor academia, nor 'citizen advocacy' groups taken up the challenge. A century has passed with scarcely a peep from the political elites.

To be continued...

Monday, May 7, 2007

A really inconvenient truth! - Part One

Authoritarianism by the Numbers: A really inconvenient truth!

D. Frank Robinson

Copyright 2007

Part One

Electoral reform projects seek to change the way that public desires are reflected in elections through electoral systems. Reform projects can include measures designed to reform political parties (typically changes to election laws); to redefine citizen eligibility to vote; to change the way candidates or political parties gain ballot access; to alter the methods for defining electoral constituencies and election district borders; to design or implement new ballot systems or new voting equipment; to tighten scrutineering (by the parties or other observers); to ensure safety of citizens voting; to limit the influence of bribes, coercion, and conflicts of interest; to regulate financing to candidates; to encourage participation and to provide alternative vote-counting procedures altering the rules by which the winners of legislature and executive offices are determined, e.g., runoff voting, instant runoff voting, approval voting, citizen initiatives and referenda, recall elections, or proportional representation .”

Wikipedia (05/05/2007)

“Democracy is, at its essence, self-rule. It is the way in which free people govern themselves. But in societies in which large populations are distributed over great distances, town meetings are impractical as a means of making policy decisions on a national scale. In the modern age, when those policy decisions often involve matters of great complexity, public referenda, even at the state level, may be similarly impractical. Thus, democratic societies have developed systems of representative government, in which citizens choose from among their neighbors those men and women who will make decisions for them. How well that system of indirect democracy works, and whether or not its decisions are considered legitimate, depends, ultimately, on the validity of the elections by means of which representatives – Presidents, members of Congress, governors, mayors, state legislators – are chosen.

Every election season produces a rash of complaints that something is just not working right. A President may take office despite the fact that the majority of Americans preferred somebody else (it has happened three times in this country’s history). Turnout may be very low. Citizens may be considered ineligible to vote because they have lived too short a time in a particular community. The polls may close before workers can get back to their home precincts from their jobs, often many miles distant. Elections may favor people with the contacts (or the personal resources) to outspend opponents by huge margins, and they may serve to advance the policy preferences of people with enough money to make substantial contributions to candidates who will advance their interests.

Or perhaps none of these criticisms is valid. The task force will consider the full range of criticisms -- and proposed improvements – in the American election system. Its recommendations will be in the form of a report to organizations involved in the study of electoral reform, (including the constitution project’s election reform initiative and the center for voting and democracy), as well as to the Congressional leadership.”

Mickey Edwards served as a member of Congress for 16 years. He has been a columnist for the Los Angeles Times and the Chicago Tribune, and a regular weekly commentator on National Public Radio’s “All Things Considered”. He taught for 11 years at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

The purpose of this series is to discuss the merits of the only remaining not yet ratified Constitutional Amendment of the original twelve proposed by the first Congress. The amendment concerns the number of Representatives for apportionment of among the States and increasing the size of the U.S. House of Representatives to establish a proportionality closer to that intended by the ratifying delegates and the First Congress.

The merits will be evaluated using the criteria recommended by The Constitution Project in 1997. The pending amendment states:

After the first enumeration required by the first Article of the Constitution, there shall be one Representative for every thirty thousand, until the number shall amount to one hundred, after which, the proportion shall be so regulated by Congress, that there shall be not less than one hundred Representatives, nor less than one Representative for every forty thousand persons, until the number of Representatives shall amount to two hundred, after which the proportion shall be so regulated by Congress, that there shall not be less than two hundred Representatives, nor more than one Representative for every fifty thousand persons. (Emphasis added.)

(1.) Does the proposed amendment address matters that are of more than immediate concern and that are likely to be recognized as abiding importance by subsequent generations?

The Constitution clearly indicates the importance of a minimal proportionality between the Representative and the number of constituents. The original ratio was 1:30,000. In the state convention debates to secure ratification of the Constitution objections were raised that (1) there was insufficient provision to ensure that as the nation grew, the size of the House would continue to be large enough to give the people's Representatives their due influence in the national government and (2) that the districts would remain small enough in population to give the people due influence upon the Representatives. To overcome these objections and secure ratification, promises were made that the first Congress would draft an amendment to make clear that the number of Representatives would increase with the general population and the districts would not become excessively large in population. To fulfill those promises the first of twelve amendments to overcome the many objections was drafted to address the apportionment of Representatives. The compromise ratio was 1:50,000. The ten ratified amendments are known as the Bill of Rights. The original second amendment was ratified in 1992, 203 years after it was drafted and is now designated as the 27th Amendment.

What could be the 28th Amendment was proposed by the first Congress on September 25, 1789, as the first First Amendment. It addressed one of the arguments most frequently advanced against the Constitution. Historians generally agree that the architect of this amendment was almost certainly James Madison serving as a Representative, but there were other fingerprints on it as we shall see.

The authors easily agreed that no matter the population every state shall have one Representative. Then they negotiated a rule which set a minimum population of 30,000 for any additional Representatives for any state in the Constitution. The population number is arbitrary, but it was an agreeable bargain for them and it's still a provision of the Constitution.

What the authors never intended was to set a fixed maximum number of Representatives. Even though the 'first' amendment was intended to make this explicit it was left unratified, but it was not seen as a serious problem. The importance of representational proportionality was acknowledged in practice for a century thereafter because the membership of the House was increased repeatedly after each Census - until the beginning of the 20th century. Then Congress stopped increasing the number of Representatives. By deliberate inaction they guaranteed that the population 'served' by every Representative would increase – less representation with more taxation. The authors carefully measured compromise was reversed into a progressively more authoritarian blend by diluting representation more and more. Just what the ratifying delegates had anticipated and denounced. Because the apportionment amendment was never ratified, no subsequent Congress needed confront the issue by proposing an amendment to repeal it. Why did the Congress at that time want to abandon any proportional restraint? How did all subsequent Congresses get away with it? Is it time to force the Congress to confront what they have done?

To be continued...