"We're Counting the Votes" HCPB Method Kit (PDF download)

Note from the author:

When I was writing this Kit, I asked several experts to review it for me.
Experts in election law, election administration, and election activism. I
also asked regular citizens to review it. Some came back to me and suggested
that the inclusion of so many election laws in the Kit made it somewhat unwieldy.
It was suggested that I simply cite the laws so readers could look them up
at their leisure. I was compelled, however, to include each and every word
of New Hampshire election laws that were relevant to the topics at hand.

These laws represent the character, the nature, and the essence of the New
Hampshire election system. These laws were crafted by New Hampshire legislators,
some at the suggestion of citizens, some not. Some of these laws are exemplary,
and some should be changed.

The point is, that it is through these election laws that the voice of the
people must be heard, and must be listened to. And by understanding and listening
to these laws, the citizens of New Hampshire can pick their way through the
brambles of thorny and difficult issues and find the way forward. Finding the
answers to the challenges we face in our election systems today begins with
knowing which questions to ask. More often than not, the questions are found
in our laws. Why do we have to stand four feet from the counting on election
night? Is it legal for the Ballot Law Commission to go ahead and approve voting
machine software when they know that it is defective? In a recount, is it the
manual or the machine count that is the count of record? Why was the ballot
redesigned this way?

The United States of America is, at its most fundamental level, a nation of
the rule of law. And at the heart of all of our efforts, it is our State laws
that provide the most direct link between the people and their governing representatives.
It is our State laws that must be strengthened and crafted to ensure that we have the election systems
that we need to preserve our American democracy.

For this reason, I felt it was important to make the laws directly available
to anyone using the Counting the Votes Kit, regardless of how unwieldy and
sometimes arcane it may appear.

This Kit is also available in editable Word format for those who wish to localize
it to their regions. It is my hope that others will find in the Kit an opportunity
to learn and to teach others about their own State laws. And in doing so, they
will find, in both the roses and the thorns, their own way forward.

A word on national election reform efforts:

We live in a dangerous time. We need our states to be strong in order to re-establish
the system of checks and balances and decentralized power on which our American democracy thrives.
In these dangerous times, we have witnessed an unprecedented and systematic assault
on the democratic and constitutional processes that are the basis for the freedoms and liberties
cherished by all patriots of the American Republic.

Amazingly, this assault is coming from our own Federal government, from all
three branches with full complicity of the fourth estate, the media. It has
been six years since the Judicial Branch of government decided to put a stop
to an electoral recount, thereby deciding through judicial action the President
of the United States of America. In this time, the Legislative and Executive
Branches have colluded in astoundingly undemocratic actions such as sending
our men and women to kill and be killed in a war based on lies, passing the
Patriot and the Real ID Acts, running torture camps and holding prisoners with
no legal representation. On top of all this, all three branches of the Federal
government have poured out a steady stream of unethical and even criminal electoral
acts, including the passage of the Help America Vote Act (HAVA),
which insinuated insecure and defective voting equipment into our elections
at an unconscionable cost to taxpayers and American democracy.

What is even more amazing, is that, in the face of this brazen
and unrelenting assault against democracy, many election activists and
reform organizations continue to push for legislation that will hand over
sweeping electoral powers to that same Federal government described above.

After nearly four decades of disastrous national election reforms, each of
which has steadily increased centralized Federal power, the important lessons
that should have been learned are pushed aside in a frenzied push for more
of the same.

Today, a tremendous amount of effort is being made to pass national legislation,
such as HR 550, which itself promises to be nothing more than HAVA II.
Election reformers pushing hard for this legislation now find themselves aligned with the original architects of HAVA,
as evidenced by Representative Steny Hoyer's recent show of support for HR 550.

But Representative Hoyer knows what many of us have already surmised: HR 550
will open up the floodgates for an expanded election industry, once again bankrolled
by the American taxpayer at the expense of American democracy. He knows, too,
that the Election Assistance Commission, the keystone feature of HAVA I which he helped to design,
will be strengthened through HR 550 in such a way that we the people will completely lose any semblance of control over our own elections.

What is called for in dangerous times such as these, when corruption and dysfunction
characterize all three branches of our government AND the media, is not more concentration of power.
What is needed is for the citizens of the American Republic to take back our country town by town, city by city, and state by state.
What is needed is a strengthening of the base of power that belongs to we the people.

I hope that the We're Counting the Votes Kit is one small step in this direction.

--Nancy Tobi, September 2006