Chicken Little's Falling Objects Forecast for New Hampshire

Chicken Little
by Nancy Tobi

I've lately been advised by a friend that I am beginning to sound like Chicken Little, because I've been talking and writing a lot about this piece of federal election reform legislation called the Holt Bill, or HR811.

I've been told to ease up on the doom and gloom scenarios associated with the bill. I admire and respect this person and take his advice to heart.

But I told him that maybe instead of saying, "Oh, that Nancy. What a lunatic. She's on a crusade. She just won't shut up," he might not only take notice of the sky falling, but take some action by calling our NH Congressional delegation and tell them to cease and desist from giving their support to HR811.

Let me spell it out as best I can, in the simplest of terms.

I won't talk about the bill shifting power from the American people to the White House, changing forever the nature of our current constitutional system of representational democracy.

I won't go into its enacting secret vote counting into federal law. Perhaps federalizing secret vote counting in the United States of America does not concern everyone too much.

I won't mention that the bill won't create meaningful change for the nation's 2008 elections, because it's been corrupted into a corporate dream, leaving our 2008 elections even more vulnerable to wholesale fraud and destabilization.

And I will not bore you with the details of our very workable alternate legislation, which, if our NH Congressional reps would sponsor as a substitute or alternate bill, would enact meaningful change to protect the nation's election integrity for 2008 and provide a foundation on which we can build in the future to really clean up our elections.

Let me just tell you the costs of HR811 - the Holt Bill - to New Hampshire. Maybe this will spur you to pick up the phone and call your representative.

Rumor has it that the House is planning to bring this ghastly bill to a vote the week of July 9th.

NH Representative Hodes has disregarded recommendations to oppose the bill from every corner of the Granite State: from NH Secretary Bill Gardner, the Fair Elections Committee, and the NH Association of City and Town Clerks. Hodes continues to be a cosponsor of HR811.

NH Representative Shea Porter, although seriously engaged on a very high level in this debate, has still not taken a position on it.


Conservative estimates for the financial costs of HR811 to NH alone run as high as $3 million each year for the next 20 years. These costs will be borne by the property tax payers of this state because HR811 is vastly under funded.

In fact, nobody in Congress has even attempted to scope out the real financial costs to the states.

And because it is positioned as a civil rights bill, Congress has no accountability under the unfunded mandate law.
Additionally, the complex and broad reaching - limitless, in fact - mandates of the bill will turn our trusted NH election system on its head. Unlike the Help America Vote Act (HAVA), which provided a state plan process so states could interpret the law's requirements, and which provided a "safe harbor" mechanism, wherein states could comply and be protected from lawsuits, HR 811 simply lays out broad and deep requirements with no state plan process, no safe harbor, leaving interpretation of the bill's requirements to be thrown to the courts.

If you need to be reminded of how the courts handle interpretation of democratic election processes, just remember Florida 2000.

So unlike HAVA, where we could comply with the law, but not change the way we vote in NH, under HR 811 everything will change.


Because the only way for our state to avoid lawsuits and to prove we are in compliance with the bill from date of its passage to forever, will be to follow the federal voting system standards developed by the Election Assistance Commission. This is a White House-appointed federal "advisory" agency charged with regulating high-tech voting systems for the nation. They have now started dabbling in paper ballot system design and control as well.

Voting systems designed by the Commission meet every possible contingency and requirement for disability access and multilingual interpretation. The president's friends, who Holt would have controlling the nation's voting systems, have not yet produced a price tag for their moon shuttle voting system designs, but conservative estimates easily place an EAC-designed voting system at a minimum of $20-30K per machine.

For every polling place, every town and city ward, in New Hampshire.
Even Dixville Notch, with its 19 or so voters.

And that is just phase one of their program. In another 2-3 years phase two kicks in, and we'll have to purchase all new systems to be in compliance.

Is the sky falling? I'll let you decide.

Ready to call your rep?