H.R.1 (the “For the People Act”) Legitimizes WaPo’s McCarthy-ite PropOrNot “Reporting,” Institutionalizes Ballot Marking Devices, and Cripples Minor Parties

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

H.R.1 (the “For the People Act“) is the enormous election law reform bill just passed by the House and sent to the Senate. (The PDF has 791 pages.) Black Agenda Report describes the 2019 version as “a sleazy ghetto ice cream truckload of empty promises.” Associated Press uses more measured language:

House Resolution 1, which touches on virtually every aspect of the electoral process, was approved on a near party-line 220-210 vote. It would restrict partisan gerrymandering of congressional districts, strike down hurdles to voting and bring transparency to a murky campaign finance system that allows wealthy donors to anonymously bankroll political causes.

The stakes in the outcome are monumental, cutting to the foundational idea that one person equals one vote, and carrying with it the potential to shape election outcomes for years to come. It also offers a test of how hard President Joe Biden and his party are willing to fight for their priorities, as well as those of their voters.

This bill “will put a stop at the voter suppression that we’re seeing debated right now,” said Rep. Nikema Williams, a new congresswoman who represents the Georgia district that deceased voting rights champion John Lewis held for years. “This bill is the ‘Good Trouble’ he fought for his entire life.”

To Republicans, however, it would give license to unwanted federal interference in states’ authority to conduct their own elections — ultimately benefiting Democrats through higher turnout, most notably among minorities.

Here is a guide to the Bill from the Brennan Center; is a conservative assault on the bill from the National Review; and a list of bullet points from Daily Kos:

  • Establish automatic voter registration at an array of state agencies;
  • Establish same-day voter registration;
  • Allow online voter registration;
  • Allow 16- and 17-year-olds to pre-register so they’ll be on the rolls when they turn 18;
  • Allow state colleges and universities to serve as registration agencies;
  • Ban states from purging eligible voters’ registration simply for infrequent voting;
  • Establish two weeks of in-person early voting, including availability on Sundays and outside of normal business hours;
  • Standardize hours within states for opening and closing polling places on Election Day, with exceptions to let cities set longer hours in municipal races;
  • Require paper ballots filled by hand or machines that use them as official records and let voters verify their choices;
  • Grant funds to states to upgrade their election security infrastructure;
  • Provide prepaid postage on mail ballots;
  • Allow voters to turn in their mail ballot in person if they choose;
  • Allow voters to track their absentee mail ballots;
  • Require states to establish nonpartisan redistricting commissions for congressional redistricting (possibly not until the 2030s round of redistricting);
  • Establish nonpartisan redistricting criteria such as a partisan fairness provision that courts can enforce starting immediately no matter what institution is drawing the maps;
  • End prison gerrymandering by counting prisoners at their last address (rather than where they’re incarcerated) for the purposes of redistricting;
  • End felony disenfranchisement for those on parole, probation, or post-sentence, and require such citizens to be supplied with registration forms and informed their voting rights have been restored;
  • Provide public financing for House campaigns in the form of matching small donations at a six-for-one rate;
  • Expand campaign finance disclosure requirements to mitigate Citizens United;
  • Ban corporations from spending for campaign purposes unless the corporation has established a process for determining the political will of its shareholders; and
  • Make it a crime to mislead voters with the intention of preventing them from voting.

There’s certainly a lot of good stuff here (though as readers know, I loathe early voting, since it can only increase voting for Party, not candidate, and would prefer a system that maximized in-person voting, with Election Day a national holiday, and hand-marked paper ballots hand-counted in public. But I recognize this is an outlier’s position). Whether the bill will pass is, of course, another matter, given the filibuster. In fact, the bill (as BAR points out) seems designed to have its various sections lifted out and turned into standalone bills. From Axios:

Fred Wertheimer, president of Democracy 21 and a longtime proponent of campaign finance reform, says Democrats have a 3–5 year strategy for enacting the key elements of H.R. 1….

So, we’ll see. In this post, I will focus on concerns more familiar to NC readers: H.R.1’s shocking[1] legitimation of the Washington Post’s McCarthyite PropOrNot debacle; its institutionalization of Ballot Marking Devices (which are not the same as “hand-marked paper ballots”), and its provisions to cripple third party formation and growth. I don’t know if these issues are deal-breakers for anyone, or anyone who matters, but I do know that the mainstream has not raised them.

Legitimizing PropOrNot

From the text of the bill, “Subtitle C—Strengthening Oversight of Online Political Advertising, SEC. 4203. FINDINGS”:

(2) On November 24, 2016, The Washington Post reported findings from teams of independent researchers that concluded Russians ‘‘exploited American-made technology platforms to attack U.S. democracy at a particularly vulnerable moment * * * as part of a broadly effective strategy of sowing distrust in U.S. democracy and its leaders.”

Frankly, I’m gobsmacked to find this quotation from WaPo codified as a Congressional Finding and embodied in statutory language[2]. For those who came in late, I’ll unpack my gobsmackedness, beginning by quoting Craig Timberg’s WaPo story, “Russian propaganda effort helped spread ‘fake news’ during election, experts say,” which was oddly[3] placed in the Business Section:

Two teams of independent researchers found that the Russians exploited American-made technology platforms to attack U.S. democracy at a particularly vulnerable moment, as an insurgent candidate harnessed a wide range of grievances to claim the White House.

One of those “teams” was PropOrNot:

PropOrNot’s monitoring report, which was provided to The Washington Post in advance of its public release, identifies more than 200 websites as routine peddlers of Russian propaganda during the election season, with combined audiences of at least 15 million Americans. On Facebook, PropOrNot estimates that stories planted or promoted by the disinformation campaign were viewed more than 213 million times.

As described by Max Blumenthal:

[A shady website, PropOrNot,] has compiled a blacklist of websites its anonymous authors accuse of pushing fake news and Russian propaganda. The blacklist includes over 200 outlets, from the right-wing Drudge Report and Russian government-funded Russia Today, to Wikileaks and an array of marginal conspiracy and far-right sites. The blacklist also includes some of the flagship publications of the progressive left, including Truthdig, Counterpunch, Truthout, Naked Capitalism, and the Black Agenda Report, a leftist African-American opinion hub that is critical of the liberal black political establishment.

UPDATE As the Columbia Journalism Review commented at the time:

It became apparent soon after that the Post had itself fallen for shoddy information. The story relied heavily on a report by PropOrNot, an anonymous internet group that bills itself as “Your Friendly Neighborhood Propaganda Identification Service, Since 2016!” While its study claimed to show how a deliberate Russian effort had unduly influenced American public opinion, it included in its calculations non-fake, left-wing sites like Naked Capitalism and Truthdig, among others.

One of the ways the Post’s journalistic malfeasance “became apparent” was a fusillade of posts by Yves (“PropOrNot’s Grandiose Fabrications“, “Washington Post Refuses to Retract Article Defaming Naked Capitalism and Other Sites,” “We Demand That PropOrNot Remove Its Blacklist, Report, and Browser Tool Defaming Naked Capitalism and Issue an Apology“). WaPo ultimately deigned to place a credibility-destroying “Editor’s Note” at the head of article, reading in relevant part:

A number of those sites have objected to being included on PropOrNot’s list, and some of the sites, as well as others not on the list, have publicly challenged the group’s methodology and conclusions. The Post, which did not name any of the sites, does not itself vouch for the validity of PropOrNot’s findings regarding any individual media outlet, nor did the article purport to do so [wowsers]. Since publication of The Post’s story, PropOrNot has removed some sites from its list.

So the story was…. what? Some goons made a list the Post won’t vouch for? Swell reporting standards there[4]. You can’t spell “McCarthy” without including “Marty,” I guess. And there the matter rested, just one of those stupidities that our famously free press routinely emits. One might have supposed it forgotten. Until the story appeared in the text of a bill House Democrats passed!

Institutionalizing Ballot Marking Devices

From the text of the bill, “Subtitle F—Promoting Accuracy, Integrity, and Security Through Voter-Verified Permanent Paper Ballot, SEC. 1502. PAPER BALLOT AND MANUAL COUNTING REQUIREMENTS“:




(I) The voting system shall require the use of an individual, durable, voter-verified paper ballot of the voter’s vote that shall be marked and made available for inspection and verification by the voter before the voter’s vote is cast and counted, and which shall be counted by hand or read by an optical character recognition device or other counting device. For purposes of this subclause, the term ‘individual, durable, voter-verified paper ballot’ means a paper ballot marked by the voter by hand or a paper ballot marked through the use of a nontabulating ballot marking device or system, so long as the voter shall have the option to mark his or her ballot by hand.

This language is extremely broken. Hand-marked paper ballot advocate Jenny Cohn suggests a revision:

Los Angeles County’s horrid VSAP system uses QR codes (discussed at length here). Here is why QR codes are both unauditable and (if the ballot marking devices are hacked) enable election fraud by insiders:

Voter makes selections on touch-screen (software, hence buggy and insecure), selections are stored (ditto) and printed out (ditto) on a page with a human-readable receipt reflecting (one assumes) the touchscreen selections, and the ballot itself, which is the QR code, which is not human-readable. The page is then scanned (ditto) and QR code is then tabulated (ditto). The sleight of hand is, of course, the ballot itself. A human may think that their reciept, which they can read to check that it matches what they selected on the touch screen, also matches the QR code, which they cannot. But there’s no reason on earth to think that! And the unreadable QR code, since that is what is tabulated, is the ballot! Take the matter out of the delusional digital realm. Suppose voting worked like this: You voted by hand-marking a yellow paper ballot. You then handed the yellow paper ballot to an official who, behind a screen so you could not see, marked a blue ballot that you could not read, sealed it so you could not read it, and then handed the blue ballot back to you and told you to put it in the ballot box, that’s your vote. Does that make any sense? That is how a “Ballot Marking Device” works.

In essence, ballots printed out by Ballot Marking Devices are not hand-marked; the digital (i.e., the hackable) interposes itself at every point: At the touchscreen, at the printer, at the reader. And because the printed-out QR code is what is counted, the QR code is the ballot. And since the QR code is not human-readable, voting is not transparent to the slightest degree.[5] (The VSAP post describes many other problems with ballot marking devices, but this is the most important.)

Crippling Third Parties

Finally, H.R.1 makes ballot access for minor parties even more diffcult than it already is. From Maryland Matters, “Opinion: Sarbanes’ H.R. 1 Has Poison Pill to Kill Minor Party Competition“:

H.R. 1 contains a poison pill designed to reduce political competition and voter choice by weakening minor parties, at exactly a time where, according to a recent Gallup poll, support for a third party is at an all-time high.

Ever since then-presidential candidate Barack Obama shunned the federal public matching funds program in 2008, among all parties’ general election candidates, only Green Party presidential nominees have applied for and qualified for these funds. H.R. 1 would solve this minor party/Green Party “problem” by raising the threshold to qualify for matching funds beyond the realistic ability of Greens (and other minor party nominees) to reach.

This move to disempower minor parties and their voters is cloaked within the promise of a new and improved matching funds program, designed to entice major party candidates to opt into the program, with the promise of substantially increased funding.

The current donation threshold to qualify for a 1:1 match is to raise at least $5,000 in each of at least 20 states, in donations no larger than $250 each. The public already supports funding minor party candidates under this formula. Green candidates Jill Stein (2012, 2016) and Howie Hawkins (2020) each qualified for matching funds in the last three cycles.

The new H.R. 1 threshold would replace the existing 1:1 match program with a 6:1 match, but would simultaneously increase the minimum amount of donations by 500% to a minimum of $25,000 in each of 20 states. It would also increase the minimum number of contributions to reach it by 625%, by subtlety lowering the size of donations that can count toward reaching the threshold from $250 to $200. This would make it even harder on minor party candidates — who are mostly excluded from candidate forums and media coverage and have a far smaller base of well-funded donors to draw from — by disqualifying 20% of the $250 donations they are able to raise.

The real-world effect of eliminating the existing 1:1 threshold would be to eliminate a matching funds threshold that is demonstrably reachable by minor party candidates and replace it with a category reachable likely only by top-tier major party candidates. This sleight-of-hand will lead people to think Democrats are for increased public funding, but apparently only for themselves.

Once again from Black Agenda Report:

I was part of Jill Stein’s campaign team in 2015-2016, and I can tell you we barely met the old threshold in about 22 states. It was a near thing. Eliminating those federal matching funds for a Green Party presidential campaign would mean all but certain erasure of the Green Party from the ballot in a good dozen or more states for 2020, and maybe a dozen more in 2022. Since most states also require a presidential and/or US Senate nominee to appear at the top of the ballot, HR 1 would prohibit the Green Party from running any local candidates in states where a defunded Green Party’s vote drops below a certain level, and it will plummet if Green campaigns, which which accept no funding from corporations will be far less able to hire staff or contractors and to perform the necessary functions of a campaign.

Hard to believe that Democrats would do such a thing deliberately, but here we are.


So these are the three flaws that I can see in H.R.1. Whether these flaws should be sufficient to sink the bill, I don’t know. Readers?


[1] It does not speak well of our national security goons that this material still lives in their institutional memory.

[2] A foreshadowing of RussiaGate, perhaps. It turns out that anonymous sources don’t need a layer of indirection, like a shady website. You can just quote them, and nobody calls you on it.

[3] Timberg’s story dropped on Thanksgiving Eve. We were told at the time by sources in a position to know that his piece made it into the paper without being vetted by the national security desk at which he once worked, which led to some fiery internal email exchanges at WaPo.

[4] On the begrudging and sluggishly inserted Editor’s Note, CJR commented:

[T]he editor’s note vaults into verbal gymnastics in an attempt to simultaneously rationalize and distance itself from an obviously flawed primary source. Any data analysis is only as good as the sum of its parts, and it’s clear that PropOrNot’s methodology was lacking.

The Post, of course, was merely reporting what PropOrNot said. Yet it used declarative language throughout, sans caveat, lending credence to a largely unknown organization that lumps together independent left-wing publications and legitimately Russian-backed news services. The Post diminished its credibility at a time when media credibility is in short supply, and the non-apologetic editor’s note doesn’t help.

… A Post spokeswoman declined to comment further on the episode, saying that the editor’s note speaks for itself.


[5] The hacker’s exploit would make it so the human readable part of the ballot read as if the voter voted for candidate A; but the QR code, that which, being tabulated, is the actual ballot, would be for candidate B, or whatever else the hacker wanted it to be, like a spoiled ballot.

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


  1. Baldanders

    I can’t say Democrats doing whatever possible to sink the Green party surprises me–anyone else hear the NPR program This American Life when they covered Zoom meetings of election boards? It was interesting to hear Dems in action ruling against the Green party.

    I’m surprised Republicans haven’t done as much to sink the Libertarian Party.

    A lot to process here, thanks!

    1. Michaelmas

      I’m surprised Republicans haven’t done as much to sink the Libertarian Party.

      They can’t really do that at this point. One effect of Obama and the Dems’ criminal complicity with Wall Street after the 2008 GFC was the Tea Party’s rise as a reaction to that, which in turn enabled Charles Koch — a libertarian, NOT a Republican — to pour money into supporting Tea Party candidates.

      As a result, Koch may effectively have a hold on a majority of the competent political operators in the Republican party now. Thus, when Trump won in 2016, he was compelled to hire people straight out of the Koch machine — Pence, Kellyanne Conway, Pompeo, McCarthy, and approximately 60 percent or more of the Trump administration’s rank and file have CVs directly attaching them to the Kochtopus if you investigate (and whenever an old-school Republican left, the Koch people would move one of their one into that position as, forex, when Pompeo replaced Tillerson).

      One presumes Trump was too stupid to have figured this out. Anyway, Koch overall now has a more sophisticated political machine than the Republican party as a whole. It’s easy to assume Charles Koch is some kind of standard evil capitalist Richie Rich born with a silver spoon in his mouth. In fact, he’s highly intelligent with two MIT master’s engineering degrees, one in nuclear and one in chemical engineering, and his companies were among the first American companies to integrate computers into their operations back in the 1970s. Thus, when you heard all the squawking about Cambridge Analytica, and the Mercers and Steve Bannon subverting democracy, the reality is that Koch has operated an electoral data-collection and targeting company called i360 doing all the things Cambridge Analytica was accused of for the last decade and a half. It’s far more sophisticated than anything the Republican Party has in-house and the Koch machine uses it to support candidates it approves of even at a loss.

      Why don’t you hear about this and how does Koch get away with it? Because, again, he’s a libertarian, not a Republican, and thus the Koch machine gives money to Democratic politicians and organizations, too.

        1. Baldanders

          Thanks! I think you are the second person in five years to get the reference.

          I’m glad I didn’t go with “Severian” for my nom de net. Too edgy/Alt-Right sounding. Plus, I like to think I have infinite capacity to grow as a person, rather than be so limited that I have to have other people’s ideas spoonfed to me. ;)

      1. Baldanders

        After absorbing your data on Koch, I’m left wondering: so who does he like for 2024? Neither Trump term #2 or another Biden term seems ideal.

        But I imagine the next GOP occupant of the Oval Office will also have Koch staffing. What’s the alternative?

  2. JBird4049

    So what happens with an undeniable win of an unapproved party happens? Will the reformers of the correct “losing party” just accept it?

    Also, seeing the security state’s apparatchiks in Congress, along with the Nevada Democratic Party’s pettifactors and pettifoggers, and the national nomenklatura or high priests with their following of fanatical believers concerned citizens doing a good job is heart warming.

    Finally seeing competent ruling in action is good; we must keep those unwashed proles along with the displaced disposables in their proper places.

    I am in awe of the Democratic Party physical congress of the American people during the last forty years. Why, they are almost as good as the Republicans.

  3. Darthbobber

    But on the other hand, HR1 is basically dead on arrival in the Senate. There will be a great deal of sound and fury, but the chances of this mustering 60 votes or the democrats scuppering the filibuster to pass it by simple majority are both nil.

    1. Baldanders

      Also, given the Supreme Court’s rulings on gerrymandering and the like, can anyone see this surviving a constitutional challenge?

      1. Esmé W.

        Yes, it can survive Constitutional challenges. The consistent throughline of SCOTUS caselaw WRT gerrymandering has consistently been that the courts do not have a role in refereeing gerrymandering on a strictly Constitutional basis – limits on gerrymandering are a political question and the Constitution leaves responsibility for it to the states as limited and moderated by Congress. The SCOTUS acknowledged very explicitly in Rucho v. Common Cause that Congress can and has in the past reformed gerrymandering via legislation. If SCOTUS wants to strike down anti-gerrymandering laws, they’ll be overriding the current court in a very explicit manner.

        1. Baldanders

          Given recent decisions, I can’t see this court making such a radical break.

          Thanks for the answer!

  4. cocomaan

    This is just bizarre. The Prop or Not nonsense is just insulting and clearly morons throwing in the kitchen sink.

    I guess I just don’t understand the urgency, here. Do we really need a law to get 16 and 17 year olds preregistered?

    Were all elections that didn’t have mail in ballots, that is, 99% of elections in US history, not just? Not correct? Not effective? Why are we changing this again?

    If I’m not listening to hand-wringing about Russia Russia Russia (I’m not), I am not feeling like this is a good use of time.

    Thank you Lambert for reading this piece of toilet paper for us.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > I guess I just don’t understand the urgency, here.

      The urgency is Republican efforts at the state level, most (all?) of which have the effect of making it harder to vote and restricting the franchise. It’s all pretty bad, but it’s possible that H.R.1 could make it worse. (The Ballot Marking Devices section in essence legalizes election theft.)

      1. Michael Ismoe

        Ummmmm. It’s “bi-partisan”

        The dems carried AZ and PA AFTER they got the Greens removed from the ballot in both states. It tells you all you need to know about the Democratic Party and “free elections”.

        Just another political party trying to get a leg up on the other one. Nothing to see here.

    2. lyman alpha blob

      I’m with you on the preregistration bit too. Lots could happen in a year or two that would make those who pre-registered ineligible to vote in that district by the time they turn 18. Why not pre-register at birth if 16 or 17 is OK? Also, while we shouldn’t be putting up hurdles to voting, I would prefer an informed citizenry casting ballots. If you can’t take the minimum effort required to register to vote, which requires far less than getting a driver’s license, then maybe you shouldn’t be voting.

      This whole bill should be shot down. Instead, create a new national holiday and turn election day into a three day weekend with in-person voting. Make same day registration a legal option in all states. Votes marked by hand on paper ballots counted later in public by hand. Too many votes coming in through too many different ways at different times only increases the vectors for errors or fraud.

      This isn’t rocket science, and trying to make it so by introducing unnecessary tech to obfuscate the process makes a skeptical mind like mind think fraud is the intent.

      1. Arizona Slim

        Three-day weekend? Sounds good! And why don’t we emulate Russian elections, which have free food and live bands at polling places?

  5. Tom Stone

    Describing HR1 as “Fixing” the election process is a rare example of truth in advertising by our congresscritters.

  6. ChrisPacific

    Frankly, I’m gobsmacked to find this quotation from WaPo codified as a Congressional Finding and embodied in statutory language[1].

    I hear that poor lady Maryam Abacha is still seeking assistance moving funds out of Nigeria. Perhaps Congress could propose a law to help with that?

  7. John Anthony La Pietra

    Probably not a great surprise to the commentariat that the Green Party opposes HR1 — and opposed it last session too.

    Some outlets in the designated free-speech zone bleachers on the farther side of the stadium have taken notice of this year’s statement; from the nearer side, not so much yet that I’ve seen. But here’s hoping. And thanks to NC for coming straight at this fraud repeatedly. (Thanks too for knocking the props out from under the PropOrNot provision.)

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > knocking the props out from under the PropOrNot provision

      That a story whose sourcing WaPo itself repudiates is the basis of a Congressional “Finding” in a Bill is just mind-boggling. One certainly hopes that the other findings aren’t so shoddily written.

  8. George Phillies

    ” Since most states also require a presidential and/or US Senate nominee to appear at the top of the ballot, HR 1 would prohibit the Green Party from running any local candidates in states where a defunded Green Party’s vote drops below a certain level, ” I don’t believe that that claim is correct. It is certainly not true in Massachusetts (where I am a former Libertarian State Party Chair) and does not match my knowledge of New York, New Hampshire, or California.

    The Libertarian Party Presidential candidate has almost always ignored Federal campaign funds for the nominating campaign. The last LP campaign to take Federal nominating funds appears to have lost money on the deal. The Libertarian Party has repeatedly had a Presidential candidate on the ballot in every state, thanks to the efforts of its donors and volunteers.

    The Green Party’s difficulty (and the difficulty faced by the third Third Party, the Constitution Party, which appears to have been forgotten here) is that it is small, a third or a half the size of the Libertarian Party, and therefore lacks the resources it needs. It does not help the Greens that they have sometimes worried about causing the Democratic Presidential candidate to lose. Libertarians as a group do not have this concern. While the other two major parties are not the same, neither of them is viewed by Libertarians as being desirable people to hold office.

  9. Bjorn

    The analogy presented about BMDs is not very apt, for two reasons:

    1. If both the human-readable receipt and the QR code are scanned, this provides after-the-fact auditability.
    2. Although QR codes aren’t human-readable, they’re very easily readable by a personal device that everyone carries around in their pocket. This provides in-the-moment auditability, with unpredictable, distributed auditors.

    The combination of those two factors make life extremely difficult for any attacker: if even one person happens to check that their QR code matches their receipt and discovers it doesn’t, it’s going to trigger an audit of the entire system, and the attack will be discovered.

    The analogous system described, with the sealed blue ballot, provides no in-the-moment auditability, and if we are to assume that the yellow ballot is thrown away, no after-the-fact auditability.

    1. expr

      There is no requirement that what you see when you scan the QR code will make any sense to the voter. A bunch of race/candidate code pairs not necessarily in an order compatible with the paper ballot and perhaps encrypted

  10. Another Scott

    Did anyone else notice this?

    “Ban corporations from spending for campaign purposes unless the corporation has established a process for determining the political will of its shareholders”

    So it’s ok for a corporation to donate if it’s shareholders approve. Do the donations have to mirror the political will of the shareholders? Is a simple majority sufficient? What if it has two-class share structure?

    That’s before getting to the two big issue: firstly, the tax advantage of making campaign (or any political donation) through a corporation as I can’t deduct a contribution, but I’m pretty sure that a corporation can. In addition and more importantly, what about all of the other stakeholders?

    Why not simply prohibit any campaign contributions from corporations?

    1. lyman alpha blob

      I can see it now – Corporation X asks its shareholders to support political donations to candidate Y. You as a shareholder must confirm your support or the C Suite might have to find something else to do with all that cash that was going to be distributed as dividends. And if you fail to mail in your proxy at all, they’ll just take that as tacit agreement of support.

  11. marym

    Did every Democrat in Congress just write down their favorite wish and they collected them all into a single bill? Do they actually want it to pass the Senate? Surely they don’t all want some controls on corporate campaign spending!

    We do need national standards for some of those bullet points that enable voters and help make machine voting more secure. That would be difficult enough without all the other baggage in the bill.

    Maybe there will be a deal in the Senate – Democrats get to use their excuses for losing in 2016 to suppress third parties and dissenting views, and Republicans use theirs in 2020 to suppress the voters.

    If a bill does pass would be interesting to understand which pieces they cared about enough to make severable from the whole before the lawsuits start.

    In any case, they really need to pass the voting rights bill HR 4/S 4263 to restore the full protections of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, before we get mired in some “3-5 year strategy” for HR 1.

  12. Dean

    A duopoly of power exists in the electoral-legislative-executive industrial complex. Anything that stifles outside competition is a feature, not a bug.

  13. Jerry

    Don’t overlook this clause: ” so long as the voter shall have the option to mark his or her ballot by hand.”

    That means BMDs exist only along side of current hand marking, never in place of hand marking. Most voters will mark by hand so few BMDs will be purchased, likely only one per precinct. That will cause a waiting line for the BMD and result in its non-use by any voter capable of making direct marks by hand.

    The ability to steal an election with QR codes via BMDs will be so remote that it won’t be worth the trouble to attempt it.

    1. Will S.

      Do you not remember the issues with provisional ballots in the Democrat primaries? Having the “option” to hand mark a ballot doesn’t mean it will be easy to exercise that option, and in fact you may be outright lied to by the volunteers running the polling booth and told you don’t have that option.

  14. William Hunter Duncan

    I have always known the Republican party to be disegenuous in the extreme, untrustworthy and authoritarian. I long thought Dems to be milquetoast anodyne. Since 2015 however I have come to be even more opposed to the Dem party than the Republican party, this HR 1 being an example of how they have become authoritarian in the extreme while hiding behind preening moral superiority.

    I have been wondering too though, with the spate of election reform bills in Republican controlled states, why I have not heard any calls to outlaw Dominion and the like?

    Clearly both parties want to “fix” the system in their (nefarious) favor.

  15. urblintz

    Hi Lambert. I’m not sure what it means but I tried to post this on my FB page and got an “Oops, error. we are working to fix this…” pop-up. But then it did post with a little “i” information link that presented the following:

    nakedcapitalism.com registered: More than 10 years ago From WHOIS
    Facebook Page: Not found for nakedcapitalism.com
    When available, we show information about a website so people can learn more about it. If you recognize nakedcapitalism.com, you can help identify their official Facebook Page. Learn More

    in fact, this same “i” link occurred with everything I attempted to post yesterday, including Blumenthal on Nephew and Greenwald’s recent essay about “The Mauritanian” film. I suppose it could be a glitch and relatively innocuous but I’d never seen this before and have constantly posted contrarian-to-the-status-quo articles.

      1. Mark Gisleson

        The fact that you don’t have a Facebook page is one of the things I most admire about this place.

        First you do Facebook, then Instagram, and then it’s branded “merch” and by then it’s pretty obvious that you’re selling something.

      2. urblintz

        Yes, troubling. I’ve never had a problem posting NC articles before, including many of yours. It seems to suggest that if a site does not have a facebook page it should be regarded as suspicious.

  16. Jeremy Grimm

    Both parties seem intent on delegitimizing the U.S. electoral processes. I sense growing unrest and discontent with our political processes and government. The myth of free elections is an important pressure relief for venting popular discontent. I believe the actions of our Elite are becoming increasingly arrogant and imprudent.

  17. Carolinian

    So the Dems want greater voter participation but only if they are the beneficiaries. Beware of Greeks bearing gifts.

    The Duopoly is the real flaw in our system as some of us see it. What good is greater public involvement if the public only has two corrupt choices? It’s still a rigged game.

  18. Susan the other

    It would be good to get rid of electronic voting machines. I like paper ballots. It might not really do anything to discourage corporate influence to simply ask the corporations to represent all of the politics of their employees. That is a murky requirement at best. But it is (citizen’s united) currently a blatant form of gerrymandering. Most of this is just paper trail stuff, however the real election theft seems to happen long before the ballots are even printed. How did we get a clearly senile president? He was the chosen candidate in a “party” process that is not the least bit answerable to the general electorate. Or even to its own electorate. What better example of election malpractice is there than Joe Biden? So, obviously, the national committees of the opposing political parties need some restrictions here. They could be subjected to tighter regulation. Their influence could be diluted by allowing many more political parties to participate in both primary and general elections. We need regulations that promote transparency on all the sausage-making before a party candidate is chosen. We also need transparency on the king makers, whether corporate or political. Who is backing the candidate? HR1 doesn’t really scratch the surface. It basically just encourages people to get out and participate in a very corrupted institution.

  19. Andrew Watts

    The PropOrNot stuff has been floating around think tanks over the years. A report on Russian social media influence by RAND Corp in 2018 briefly mentions Naked Capitalism. The reason why this humble blog is on that blacklist is because it’s in Zero Hedge’s referral network according to RAND.

    Link to the report: https://www.rand.org/pubs/research_reports/RR2237.html

    1. Carolinian

      An NC post was reprinted there just the other day and they also reprint Taibbi and Greenwald, not just wackadoo right wing and financial sites.

      Maybe we should have a report on who Rand is really working for.

      1. Baldanders

        Just downloaded the report. Steeling myself for more prose like “-Better tell the US, NATO, and EU story.” Arrrrrrgh. With bonus pseudo-sophistication points for unnecessarily using full names AND abbreviations for the latter two organizations in the original. But no full name for the US. Do these think-tank folks get paid by the word?

        The summary is quite a stew of management-speak and Owellian prose.

        Why is “block” in quotes in the bit on blocking RT? Is it a euphemism for discrediting them? Perhaps the full report will illuminate me.

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