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Post-Election Views: Assuring the Integrity of the Vote – 3

3 - Hacking the Vote

Convincing voters they needn’t bother or scaring them with threats of intimidation or making them wait in long lines or simply confusing them is all rather old hat. The modern way to steal an election is simply to hack the vote without anyone knowing. And that’s been with us since 2000, possibly in the planning a bit before that.

In Florida, there were butterfly ballots (where the vote lozenge didn’t line up with the candidate on the opposite page) and hanging chads (where the little hole-puncher thingy didn’t punch completely … and the optical marks reader thingy thought the cardboard was still covering the hole). You’ll forgive this technical explanation.

The upshot was that the country was convinced it needed to modernize. The Help America Vote Act of 2002 (HAVA) was passed, and money was set aside to help state voting authorities enter the modern age of direct-recording electronic (DRE) voting machines. 

Like a smart phone, these DREs would be touch-screen and everyone could use them. They could be adjusted for people with physical impairments. They could be connected to local networks or the Internet and vote tallies could speed across the ether to Vote Central at the TV networks. There, highly skilled news presenters could open up the state map on touchscreen video walls and show us where this county or that was 83% reported. And much more.

Some states were already set up by the 2002 midterms, but it wasn’t until the 2004 general election that we saw the real power of the DRE. Florida seemed to have got its holes punched and life was good. Ohio got punched, too. And there, Kerry’s lead of 51-49 at about 11 pm suddenly became a Bush lead of 51-49. A few nerdy types had taken screen shots before and after the TV video walls uniformly showed Bush winning. The screen shots told a story but did not overturn the election.

The world gasped in disbelief. Americans were voting that dullard, neo-con warmonger in for a 2nd term?

The Greens and Libs in Ohio, as Jill Stein has just announced again this year, chipped in to demand and pay for a recount. The Democrats politely sat it out. The Republican Secretary of State of Ohio, Ken Blackwell, who was coincidentally the head of the state’s Re-Elect Bush committee, declared Bush the winner.

And, indeed, the recount supported his call. The DREs, unfortunately, had no paper trail, that is, nothing to re-count except the electronic tallies. And the digits agreed that Bush had won. A number of vote-integrity groups – Black Box Voting, Verified Voting, National Voting Rights Institute -- sprang up and began trying to prove something was amiss and how it worked.

It’s been 12 years now, and quite a lot has been learned. First of all, a well-purloined election doesn’t use just one big grab. It’s the sum of a little here, a little there that does the job.  And as Zachary Quinto, at Verified Voting, points out, suspicion that the vote is hacked may be the biggest threat to democracy. It gives us the idea that voting is futile. Why bother?

But that’s not the whole story. Experts are on top of the potential threats, advising states ahead of time, checking the veracity of the results, and demanding re-counts where results indicate possible problems.
https://ballotpedia.org/Voting_methods_and_equipment_by_state


Here’s what they look for:

Anomalies only a nerd could love

Experts crunch the numbers. If, for instance, Trump wins big in counties using DREs but Clinton wins where they use paper ballots, it may suggest the machines are rigged. More innocently, it may mean a wealthy county that leans GOP has digital voting and a poorer area that leans Dem still uses mechanical machines. Either way, it indicates a need to investigate. Only five states are all-digital; in other states these DRE-paper disparities may show up.

Ageing DREs, calibration problems

Likewise, one or two machines in a polling station may record high for one candidate while the other 10 or so show the opponent winning.  Many DREs were bought with HAVA funds and haven’t been replaced. They have to be calibrated so that a finger-touch here actually records the candidate the voter intends to choose. Older machines may be less reliable. So, calibration might be checked if results differ significantly from what’s expected in a given precinct, or from exit poll predictions.

Malware in the machines

Malware, that is a destructive computer algorithm, can be introduced into an individual machine that will then ‘flip’ all of its votes from one candidate to another. Smart malware won’t flip every vote, just a few every so often. Hardly noticeable. Machines that are not well-guarded can be opened and ‘loaded’ in just a few minutes. Some canny cyber-security professors and their students at Princeton have been finding the flaws since the late 1990’s. The problems go beyond the machines to the software that aggregates the totals, and even the OMRs that read those chad-punched paper ballots. 

Networked to share

If you want a really fast tally for those TV video walls, you can connect all the DRE’s to a network that shoots the final count off to the state’s central election control. Of course, it’s a two-way street. If tallies can go out, viruses can also come in, and the malware in one machine can spread to all the machines in a network. A few states, such as Georgia, have heeded the warning and taken their machines off of networks.

Lack of paper trail

Under pressure from vote-integrity advocates, many jurisdictions have added voter-verified paper ‘audit’ trails to their machines. One simple way is a print-out, not unlike a cash register tape, locked securely within the DRE. Visible through a little glass window, the tape shows the current vote. The voter can check his/her vote has been recorded correctly before hitting the ‘finished voting’ button. The tape can be checked against the electronic tally if a recount is called. 

Safeguards turned off

Modifying an existing machine can be costly. Some jurisdictions opted for other methods. Swing state Ohio, for instance, has an ‘audit camera’ above the machine. It records the screen the voter sees ... IF it’s turned on. This year, the Republican Secretary of State John Husted said it wasn’t necessary to use the cameras. A suit was brought. The Republican-appointed judge decided with Husted. Clinton lost by 454,000 votes, well over the ‘close’ election that in Ohio law triggers an automatic recount. In any case, without a paper trail or audit camera shots, a re-count is pointless. Investigative journalist Greg Palast had a lot to say about this and other potential problems before the election. Only a few in the media paid much attention. Coiffure and emails were juicier news.

Exit polls only accurate in 3rd world

Exit polls are used by election integrity teams around the world. They are considered the gold standard, highly accurate, in proving that an election has been conducted fairly. In the US, however, they’re called into question. David Pakman’s show has a lively talk about this.

And when they vary widely from the official outcomes, attempts are made to excuse the ‘error.’ A 2008 Forbes article, referencing the 2004 election, is a good example.  Somehow, the random sample specified by a computer must have been weighted toward Kerry voters. So, the exit polls predicted a Kerry win. Was random sampling not random? Go figure.

/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

Where does all this leave us? A recount is being filed in Wisconsin by Jill Stein, Green Party, whose website says a Pennsylvania recount has also been funded and they’re moving on the money needed for one in Michigan. The combined difference is just over 100,000 votes.

Recounts may show the popular vote is much closer or may even award one or more of these states to Clinton. In the first case, it would justify more Electors breaking their pledges for Trump. In the second case, the Electoral College makeup would change in favor of Clinton. She needs Pennsylvania and either of the other two.

The prospect of changing the election results is both heady and scary. In light of Clinton’s unprecedented 2-million popular vote lead, it seems only fair. With another just-awful name added to the Trump cabinet each day, it seems downright crucial. On the other hand, the potentially violent reaction of Trump’s extreme alt-right fans is unsettling, and a few urge letting well enough alone, aka ‘appeasement.’ We can click more petitions and send money to fund recounts, or not. It’s a matter, like voting, for each of us to weigh and decide.



Post-Election Views: Assuring the Integrity of the Vote

Might the November 2016 election have been rigged? Apart from Trump’s avowal to challenge the results, relatively little attention was paid in the mainstream media before the election. On the Dem side, the reaction was, “Yeah, right, but not against you!” After all, the polls pointed to a likely Clinton win. Possibly a landslide!

November 9 brought its harsh truth. Clinton had lost. While some leaped to explain why voters had rejected her, others looked ahead to what a Trump presidency would mean. A few sought ways to prevent it.

The first ‘uprising’ took its outrage to the streets, for the most part peacefully and amid jeers from the Trump side of ‘It’s over! Get used to it!’

The next wave petitioned the Electoral College to do its job, i.e. choose the most suitable candidate as President when they meet on Dec 19.  Three days after the election, over 3 million had signed. As of today, there are 4.6 million signatures and counting, with growing justification. Clinton’s lead in the popular vote has surpassed 2 million, and votes are still being tallied in a few states. Clinton has 64,223,958 votes, compared to Trump’s 62,206,395 votes.

However, many of these votes are in populous, blue states whose Electors have already been pledged to Clinton. Still, the original two Electors who said they will not vote for Trump have been joined by four more.  They need 37 to change the outcome, and those other 31 will be more inclined to break their pledge, paying a lousy $1000 fine for the pleasure, if they have just a little more justification.

This is where ‘integrity of the vote’ comes in. The opportunity to correct anomalies occupies a small window between final tallies and certification of the vote by each state. Some states, Wisconsin, for instance, have deadlines for challenging the vote.

Election integrity encompasses three distinct areas.

  1. voter suppression

  2. conduct of the election process

  3. integrity in recording and counting the vote

2016 was the first election in 50 years not fully covered by the Voting Rights Act. Parts of the VRA were struck down by the US Supreme Court, on arguments that election access was now a done-deal for minority votes in what had been ‘Jim Crow’ states. Said states, at least those under Republican governors and legislatures, set about reconstructing roadblocks for minority voters.


Electoral College: Breaking Bad

The Electoral College has graduated. Last month, it was that annoying extra step between the election and the inaugural. No one bothered to understand it.

Today, calls to discard it have revived in liberal circles, but not before we see if we can’t use it for the purpose it was put into the Constitution.

In the late 18th century, it was felt that “ordinary Americans across a vast continent would lack sufficient information to choose directly and intelligently among leading presidential candidates.” [TIME Magazine] So, Article 2 of the Constitution, which sets out the Executive branch, left the final decision to a body of more knowledgeable men.  

How it worked initially

The Electors in each state – the same number as its total of House and Senate seats – met to register their choice. The winners in each state then constituted a national field of vote getters. From among these, the candidate receiving the most votes became president and the second most, the vice president.

This method was similar to today’s winner-take-all situation (in 48 of 50 states). However, it meant that the president and vice president might be of different political persuasion.

The rise of political parties

In the early years of the Republic, there were no political parties, but this was changing rapidly at the turn of the 19th century. In 1803, the 12thAmendment was passed. Seeing the rise of parties, it allowed each one to designate a joint ticket of president and vice president.

Also, in those early years, the sense of ‘state sovereignty’ was much stronger than it is now, after two centuries of ‘one nation indivisible.’ Large and small states do not necessarily have different interests. However, interests do vary according to region – north vs south, coastal vs inland – and the types of production and economy location dictates. State laws develop to protect these interests.

States’ rights and slavery

While less discussed in civics classes, an alternative explanation for the Electoral College has to do with slavery. Northern states were more industrialized, with more citizens in more densely populated cities and towns. Southern states might have as many people, but over half a million were slaves, who could not vote.

In apportioning the number of Electors, they worked out a deal where slaves were counted as three fifths of a person. This gave more weight to slave states and acted as a buffer against abolitionist sentiments already growing in the North. In return, it the southern slave owners’ continued to support the Union.

After slavery was abolished, the College lived on. By this time, political forces in the various states had found other uses for the influence it generated and had little interest in having a direct popular vote for president and vice president.

The Electoral College Today

The details of who must certify what to whom make dry reading. In broad strokes, when we vote for President & Vice President, we are actually voting for the Electors pledged to that ticket of a particular party. Some states list the Electors by name on the ballot; others just show the candidates.

In Maine and Nebraska, the Electors are apportioned to the direct popular vote. In round numbers for ease of understanding, if a state had 10 Electors, and one ticket gets 60% of the vote, they would get six Electors. The second party ticket, say with 30% of the vote, would get three. And maybe a third party’s ticket gets 10% or one Elector.

The other 48 states are currently winner-take-all. Consider the difference. A largely inland, rural state with 20 Electoral votes, such as Pennsylvania, produces a 49-48% finish. All 20 Electors go to the winning ticket, Trump-Pence. A big coastal state with over twice the population – like California – gives all 55 of its Electors to Clinton-Kaine with a 61-33% landslide. But they don’t get any more Electors.

It’s impressive, but no matter how big the landslide in one state, if there are many small states favoring the opponent, the Electoral College may be pledged to elect the loser of the popular vote. [NY Times].

Faithless Electors? Moral Electors!

The thing many people didn’t realize till a certain petition started going around last week is that the Electors are not absolutely bound to vote as they are pledged. They can break the faith, although they will have to pay a fine for doing so. Their mandate, remember, is to choose the best person for the very weighty job of US President.

Already, two have said they intend to do that. According to Bi-Partisan Report (which, really, is a bit partisan) ‘Washington state elector Bret Chiafalo and Colorado elector Michael Baca have launched what they call “Moral Electors” in an attempt to persuade their colleagues to dump Trump along with them before he can officially take office. The lucky number of fellow Electors' support needed to block Trump from gaining the presidency is 37.’

The petition for this move is up on Change.org and has already garnered over 4.3 million signatures. That’s a record! It doesn’t mean they’ll get the necessary other 35 Electors. But it’s definitely in the ‘nothing ventured; nothing gained’ category.

It’s a gamble

At the very least, this many and more signatures send a strong message to the Trump administration that they may not want to run rough-shod over Obamacare, Social Security, hard-won LGBTQ and gender rights, labor and the environment.

If successful, this petition might hand the presidency back to Clinton come December. That would be unprecedented. And it might turn those snarky troll comments on the blog sites into nasty, even physical reactions from the currently gloating Trump supporters.

It is a decision not to be taken lightly. But it may also be seen as citizens using one of the many opportunities for correction and redress that are built into the US legal system.

Still, most of the ‘official’ responses to the 2016 outcome have called for cool heads, warm hearts, forgiveness and re-unification of the factions in US society. As noted in an earlier article, the rhetoric is pure Gandhi. This petition is his march to the sea.

– Karen Lee, DAGR Chair

###

For more details about Electoral College history -
“The Real Reason for the Electoral College Exists,” Akhil Reed Amar, TIME Magazine, Nov. 10, 2016. http://time.com/4558510/electoral-college-history-slavery/

Long, detailed info from Wikipedia
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Article_Two_of_the_United_States_Constitution

Grab a pencil (or calculator) and play around with the percentages -
2016 Election Results, interactive map, NY Times
http://www.nytimes.com/elections/results/president

State of play, moves to reverse the EC vote
http://bipartisanreport.com/2016/11/14/just-in-two-presidential-electors-suddenly-dump-trump-demand-others-follow-details/

Petition for Electoral College to vote for Hillary
Click for yourself if you’re of a mind. Share widely, too!
https://www.change.org/p/electoral-college-electors-electoral-college-make-hillary-clinton-president-on-december-19
 


Post election Views - Chair's Note

A post-election note from the DAGR Chair

It’s been five days since the Election. You haven’t heard much from your ExCom and you may be wondering if we’ve slunk away, tail between legs, embarrassed in defeat.

Not so!

Okay, it did take a couple of days to recover from what we now think of as elect-lag.  Staying up all night -- and dragging home if that all-nighter was at an outside event -- followed by another hour or so of BBC or CNN to catch the last bad news takes a toll. Floppy body, mush mind!

Then the need to reach out takes over, and the phone, email, web articles and Facebook frenzy kicks in. Share the grief! Perform the post mortem! Sign a petition!

Do what you will, it’s still surreal!

If you, like me, get your TV English news from BBC, you may be struck this weekend by the notion that Trump may not be such a bad choice after all. And it comes back to you that during the campaign, you noticed they hadn’t seemed sufficiently terrified of him. Now, THAT’s surreal!

Otherwise, reactions are mixed. Some of us just want to accept it and move on. Fair enough! It’s been an exhausting campaign. Others -- and I’m in this camp -- unload our angst by increasing activity and encouraging others to do the same.

There are a lot of options for action now. We’re trying as quickly as possible to get some ideas up on the DA website > Greece > News page. US and state laws provide many remedies, and they fall into a logical sequence.

  1. track your own ballot and make sure it’s counted

  2. monitor and make sure your state’s vote count is accurate

  3. petition the Electoral College to elect the popular vote winner

  4. draw stateside friends into the discussion in social media and emails

  5. organize our DAGR country plan and timeline for 2017

  6. help decide if we should go to an inaugural party or hold an anti-inaugural

  7. bone up on the issues a Trump presidency is likely to attack

  8. read about voter suppression in ‘red’ states once VRA was curtailed

  9. advocate for the National Popular Vote Compact in your home state

That may seem like a lot of work, and some like No. 3 have a snowball’s chance in hell of succeeding. But each action has its own optimal time and unique rewards.

Know that by participating in any or all of these actions, we’ll deepen our knowledge of our system. That means we’ll be better prepared to hold the line on crucial programs (e.g. Social Security) and fight off future assaults on voter enfranchisement.

Of major importance, especially by social media, we can reach out and support those energetic, young, first-time voters who got slapped down. We can encourage them and offer something constructive to do when the weather goes cold and street protests peter out.

ExCom will be meeting soon to assess our performance past and our road ahead. We’ll also put up a survey to learn what you’d like to do as a member of DAGR and what you think the Party as a whole should do.

For now, our approach is the one Elizabeth Warren, among others, shared this week. 
http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2016/11/10/elizabeth-warren-faces-president-trump-with-rachel-maddow-no-compromise-on-bigotry.html

Stronger Together!

Karen Lee, Chair


Post Election Views - Déjà vu? Change the View!

Déjà vu? Change the View!

November 2000. Gore gets 500,000+ more popular votes than Bush, but is denied a recount of flawed ‘hanging chads’ and ‘butterfly ballots’ in Florida. Florida’s Electoral College votes go to Bush. We are terribly disappointed, but good sports about it. Touch-screen digital voting machines are mandated by the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) with subsidies for their purchase. 

November 2004. The new touch screen machines are in use across the country. Most provide no printout of the vote. Kerry is projected as winner in the first few hours after polls close. At about 11 p.m., some observers claim they noticed the score in Ohio abruptly flip from 51-49 to 49-51. Amid some confusion in the US and utter disbelief abroad, Bush is elected to a 2nd term. Vote integrity groups spring up and identify other anomalies in the count vs prior and exit polls. The Greens and Libertarians chip in and call for a recount, but again, there’s no ‘paper trail.’ We are terribly disappointed, but Kerry, his staffers and the Dem party are gracious losers.

November 2008. Obama amplifies an inspired campaign with innovative use of online resources and sweeps into office with a Democratic House and Senate. He inherits a gutted economy and the seeds of a backlash coalition of racist, socially conservative, anti-government forces. But, with Dems also in office at the state level, some of the voting machine ‘glitches’ are corrected. We pass what laws we can. We are happy.

November 2012. Founded by Kerry’s nemesis, the Swiftboaters, and funded by oil billionaires, the backlash has become the Tea Party movement. It‘s pulled off a major 2010 midterm win at all levels and set about gerrymandering House districts. Congress is in gridlock and slow economic recovery unsettles working class voters. Obama squeaks by into his 2nd term. We are relieved.

November 2016. The Tea Party tries to look respectable and fields a remarkable number of candidates for the GOP nomination. Last man standing is tyro Trump, whose uninhibited use of hate-the-other rhetoric rivals the Tea Party’s and is envied by the unsettled. On the Dem side, Sanders talks issues, taps into the unsettled anger and brings a growing coterie of enthusiastic progressives. Polls say he’d trounce Trump, but the Dem establishment still holds the reins and plays it ‘safe’ with Clinton. Clinton runs a stand-up campaign and is predicted to win. Trump wins and overnight retracts his hair and his worst divisive rhetoric. We are confused, devastated, gob-stopped, but still hopeful when Podesta tells us to come back for news in the morning. In the morning, Clinton gives an eloquent concession speech. She’s a gracious loser. Déjà vu.

At first, most of us tried to process what had happened. We reached out to each other by phone and social media. We scanned the newsfeeds for some clue that would explain the void we felt. Some were heart-broken, some were scared. Some were heckled and worse by Trumpeters. Others admitted that they were really, really pissed off. In the US, they took to the streets in protest.

But next the day dawned, and it was still surreal. Party leaders sent out brave emails, graciously extolling inclusiveness and unity, calm heads and forgiving hearts. You hear Gandhi in those words. But Gandhi also marched to the sea. Shouldn’t we?

If you, like many of us, are tired of déjà vu, let’s talk about changing the view! Acting now, employing the remedies built into the US body of law, we can take our minds off the disappointment and set positive change in motion. – K. Lee, DAGR Chair, 2015-17


“Don’t agonize; organize” – PDA

Hillary Clinton Concession Speech

http://edition.cnn.com/videos/politics/2016/11/09/hillary-clinton-concession-full-speech.cnn

President Obama Full Speech on Trump Election Win

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wr2USTE3L98

Trump Victory Speech w/into by Mike Pence

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qsvy10D5rtc


 [articles following or to come]

  1. Secure the Vote

  2. Count Every Vote

  3. Petition the Electoral College to Use its Mandate

  4. Revise Electoral College Selection

  5. Prepare for a Tussle Ahead

  6. Get Involved in Democratic Activity


Post election Views - Count the Vote

Count the Vote

What’s the most popular come-back of the week?

“The election’s a done deal! Get over it!”

Get over the shock, yes! But, remember that the election didn’t end when polls closed Tuesday night. Whether anything changes or not, the process goes on until the Inauguration.

At the local/state level:

Absentee ballots

... are still accepted and counted by several states. Rules vary widely from state to state, but some accept mailed ballots up to 10 days after the election. Mailed ballots are hard copies, so envelopes must be matched to the voter rolls, then opened and the ballots counted (usually) by hand. Absentee ballots can and have affected the final count.

Provisional ballots

… are cast at a polling station on Election Day if the voter’s eligibility is in question. Questions arise from a simple error or illegible handwriting. Or because the voter has been caught in a vote purging effort.

Challenges and recounts

… may take place. Some states fund an automatic recount in a very close race (1 point or less difference).  In most, voters or a political party may challenge the vote, call for a recount, and pay the expense. Such challenges arise when vote tampering or hacking of electronic systems is suspected.

The deadline for finishing the count, then, may be even later, up to December 19, this year. As the states finish their job, the process connects to the federal level. It’s dull reading that glosses over a lot of potential drama.

Mid-November through December 19, 2016

The governor of each state prepares Certificates of Ascertainment and, as soon as “practicable,” sends one to the Archivist of the United States (head of the National Archives). This should happen by the time of the Electoral College elector’s meeting.

December 13, 2016

States must make final decisions in any controversies over the appointment of their electors at least six days before the meeting of the Electors. Decisions by states’ courts are conclusive, if decided under laws enacted before Election Day.

December 19, 2016

The Electors meet in their state and vote for President and Vice President. They send the result on a Certificate of Vote, which goes with their state’s Certificate of Ascertainment to the President of the Senate, et al.

December 28, 2016

Electoral votes (the Certificates of Vote) must be received by the President of the Senate and the Archivist no later than nine days after the meeting of the electors.

On or Before January 3, 2017

The Archivist and/or representatives from the Office of the Federal Register meet with the Secretary of the Senate and the Clerk of the House in late December or early January.

January 6, 2017

The Congress meets in joint session to count the electoral votes. The Vice President, as President of the Senate, presides over the count, announces the results of the Electoral College vote, and then declares which persons, if any, have been elected President and Vice President of the United States.

If no Presidential candidate has won 270 or more electoral votes, a majority, the House of Representatives elects the President, choosing from the three candidates who received the greatest number of electoral votes. The vote is taken by state, with each state having one vote. The process is repeated for Vice President, but with the Senate voting.

Objections to the Electoral College vote must be submitted in writing and be signed by at least one member of the House and one Senator, with the House and Senate then considering the merits under procedures set out in federal law. (See 2004!)

January 20, 2017 at Noon—Inauguration Day

The President-elect takes the Oath of Office and becomes the President of the United States.


 Key Dates in the 2016 General Election

Office of the Federal Register, National Archives and Records Administration

https://www.archives.gov/federal-register/electoral-college/key-dates.html

National Association of Secretaries of State

Explore a little, visit your state’s SOS site, linked to NASS.

(Hint: tons of details in training materials for precinct election officials)

http://www.nass.org/elections-voting/election-ready-2016/


Post Election Views - Sins of Our Fathers....

“Our fathers sinned, and are no more; It is we who have borne their iniquities.”

Lamentations 5:7

Today it was announced that one of the architects of Bush’s torture policy, Jose Rodriquez1, is being considered for head of the CIA in the Trump administration. Waterboarding is considered illegal by the UN and most nations and yet we may have it returned to the CIA arsenal.

During the first days of the Obama Administration I thoroughly expected an investigation to be called for to bring to justice Bush and Co for their lies and deceit in the run up to the Iraq War and for the runaway spending that gave us a HUGE deficit along with the untold numbers of Americans dead and injured not to speak of the hundreds of thousands of Iraqis. Bush and Co pushed the limits of Presidential power but Obama did nothing to rein it in. Obama saw a much divided nation and wanted to mend fences between the parties. Commendable, maybe? Litigation and investigation was NOT on the table and we will be reaping this lack of oversight with the Trump administration and extreme policies.

To me, this was always a serious tactical mistake. Our example of holding officials accountable is found with what happened with Watergate2. Democrats AND Republicans came together setting aside partisan politics for the investigation. Why, because they considered upholding the Constitution and its tenants more important to the health of the country than holding onto their partisan turf, taking the high road even at a cost. Watergate and its operatives were investigated and tried. Many in the administration went to jail, Nixon resigned and laws were created and passed to try and avoid these excesses of power in the future. This legacy made it much more difficult to play the same game again and allowed the wounds inflicted on the country to heal.  If Obama had heeded history he would have at least had an investigation. But he and Eric Holder turned the other cheek and didn’t, so today we have the distinct possibility that we will reap what we sowed. The Constitution should ALWAYS trump partisan politics, ALWAYS!

1 https://theintercept.com/2016/11/11/trump-cia-torture/

2 http://billmoyers.com/2013/03/29/watergate%E2%80%99s-lessons-washed-away/


AHI Publishes Hillary Clinton's Position Paper on Greece - US Relations

 

Growing Together: Hillary Clinton’s Vision for Advancing Opportunity

for Greek Americans & Immigrants of Greek Descent

Hillary believes the U.S.-Greece relationship is underpinned by shared interests and values, as well as strong bonds created by the large Greek American community. The United States is home to an estimated three million people who identify as Greek Americans. Their numerous ties to Greece – both business and personal – enhance the bilateral relationship and serve as a bridge of understanding between Greece and the United States. From adding rich diversity, to spurring small businesses and economic growth, Greek Americans and Greek immigrants have helped build this country and strengthen our communities.

 Hillary has a record of standing by Greece and the Greek American community:

● As First Lady, Senator and Secretary of State, Hillary regularly engaged with leaders of the Greek Orthodox Church. She visited the Ecumenical Patriarchate three times, highlighting its importance: once as First Lady in 1996, again in 1999 when she returned with President Bill Clinton – the first sitting US President ever to visit – and again in 2011 as Secretary of State. Hillary is a long-time advocate of religious freedom. And she was proud to represent the vibrant Greek American community in New York as Senator.

● As Secretary of State, Hillary visited Greece in 2011 and signed a Memorandum of Understanding to strengthen collaboration and reduce looting and trafficking of Greek antiquities, and provide for their return to Greece to preserve its cultural heritage. During this visit, she also reinforced the U.S.-Greece partnership in the NATO alliance and reiterated the U.S.’s support of the Greek government to make the necessary reforms to put Greece back on sound financial footing.

As President, Hillary will continue to fight for issues that are important to the Greek American Community.

On issues of importance around the world, she will:

• Stand with our allies and strengthen NATO: Hillary knows that the world is too complex and too complicated for the U.S. to go it alone. Greece is a historic friend and ally of the United States and the bilateral relationship is critical in promoting regional stability and security, trade and investment, and the diversification of energy resources for Europe. Hillary recognizes Greece’s important role as a NATO ally. Greece hosts the U.S. Naval Support Activity at Souda Bay in Crete, whose deep protected harbor provides a strategically important location for supporting U.S. and allied military activities in Europe, Africa, and the Middle East. As President, Hillary will ensure that we support Greece and work together on important issues such as climate change, fighting terrorism, and economic security. Above all, this is an alliance of values, rooted in a deep commitment to liberty and democracy.

Support economic security for Greece and Europe: The economic crisis that struck Greece in 2009 caused its economy to contract by about 25 percent and, resulted in dramatic increases in unemployment and poverty. Hillary supports Greece’s efforts to restore fiscal stability, implement structural reforms, recover competitiveness and restart growth. And she strongly believes that the Eurozone should continue to take the necessary steps to keep its monetary union intact. Hillary will continue to support efforts by Greece and its creditors to find solutions for Greece to meet its financial obligations, while providing a path forward for economic recovery through debt relief.

Call for a robust international response to the European migration crisis: Hillary recognizes the tremendous efforts made by the Greek people to offer humanitarian aid and assistance to the hundreds of thousands of refugees and migrants who have entered the country since 2015. The generosity and compassion they have demonstrated set an important example for Europe and the world. Hillary will continue to call for a more robust international response to the European migration crisis. She will also ensure the U.S. maintains its role as the largest donor of humanitarian assistance to displaced persons and refugees.

Support a comprehensive settlement to reunify Cyprus as a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation. Hillary strongly supports efforts to reach a comprehensive settlement to reunify Cyprus as a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation. She supports Cypriot-led, UN-facilitated negotiations as the best process to achieve a fair and lasting settlement. Hillary views Cyprus as a strategic partner of the United States, and she values our close cooperation with Cyprus and the European Union in advancing our shared transatlantic priorities.

And on issues of importance here at home, she will fight to:

Ensure quality education: Hillary will champion new opportunities in education to ensure nothing stands in the way of all Americans achieving their full potential. Hillary will increase our investment in Early Head Start and the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting program. She also has a plan to make pre-K universal for all 4 year-olds in America, and will fight for strong public schools in every community across the country. Like too many Americans, Greek Americans and Greek immigrants face difficulty in paying for college and paying off their student debt. Through her New College Compact, Hillary will fight to ensure that cost is not a barrier for anyone who wants to attend college—and that debt won’t hold them back when they do.

Keep families together through comprehensive immigration reform: As president, Hillary will fight for comprehensive immigration reform that provides a full and equal path to citizenship, treats every person with dignity, upholds the rule of law, protects our borders and national security, and brings millions of hardworking people into the formal economy.

Hillary Clinton is committed to building an economy that works for everyone, not just those at the top. In her first 100 days in office, Hillary will break through Washington gridlock to make the biggest investment in good paying jobs since World War II. That plan includes: first, making the boldest investments in American infrastructure since Eisenhower built the interstate highway system to spur economic growth. Second, she will also invest in American manufacturing and crack down on trade abuses that hurt working Americans. Third, she will make America the clean energy superpower of the 21st century. Fourth, she will cut taxes and reduce red tape so that small businesses can grow and hire. Fifth, she will support scientific research and technological innovation. In fact, an independent analysis by Mark Zandi, a former economic advisor to John McCain, recently calculated that under Hillary’s plans the economy would create 10.4 million jobs in her first term alone—and we think it could create even more than that.

Expand access to affordable health care to all families: Hillary has been fighting her entire life to ensure that families have access to affordable health care. She will stand up to Republican attempts to roll back the Affordable Care Act and will protect the progress we have made. She will work to lower out-of-pocket health care costs, reduce the cost of prescription drugs and transform our health care system to reward value and quality. She believes we should let families—regardless of immigration status—buy into the Affordable Care Act exchanges. As president, Hillary will fight to defend Medicare and Social Security as well as expand benefits for widows and women who have taken time out of the workforce—so that all American families can retire with dignity

Paid for by Hillary for America


Election Watch Party

Yes, Virginia, there IS an Election Watch party, Tuesday Nov 8th till dawn!

And you won’t want to miss it. Share the suspense among like-minded friends.

Democrats Abroad Greece Election Watch 2016
Divani Caravel Hotel, Ilissos Room
Vassileos Alexandrou 2, Athens
9:30 p.m. (21:30) till dawn
€25 at the door

RSVP required - https://goo.gl/forms/21ieiVatqrlkr3tF3

FREE TICKET to 10th, 25th, 50th, 75th, and 100th RSVP received by Nov. 1!

NOT TO BE MISSED:

The 2nd ceiling-shattering election in a row! An 80+%  chance Democrats will retain the White House. A good bet we’ll retake the Senate. A growing likelihood we’ll regain the House and state majorities. BUT down-ballot, it’s going to be a cliff-hanger!

TIMING:

Doors open at 9:30 for those who can’t stay out late. Anyone who hopes to stay till the results are fairly final can come later. Our reception desk will stay open till everyone’s in.

TRANSPORT: 

Our ride-share desk will be open from 11:30 onwards. Carpool and taxi-share interest is in the RSVP form to get it rolling. We’ll connect you to arrange transport TO the event. Then broker rides to home area or public transport when a car/taxi is about to LEAVE.

STAY-OVER OPTION: 

A group from Mykonos learned a double room at the hotel is €125. They’re sailing in and staying over. Check out this option with Divani Caravel if you like. Tell them you’re with Dems Abroad. Tel: 210 720 7000 or online at http://divanicaravelhotel.com/

PROGRAM:

Welcome drink on arrival. First buffet at 10 p.m. with streaming pundits and predictions, plus info on what’s at stake besides the White House. Buffet replenished as exit polls come in. Polls start closing in the US at 2 a.m. Athens time. Substantial results about 4 a.m.  And possibly a small group of hardy souls will stumble to breakfast when it’s all done.

This is what all the emails, phone calls, and events of the past 10 months have led up to. We’re looking forward to a marathon of political fun and suspense, and … we’re pretty sure … celebration.

It wouldn’t be the same without YOU!

See you there!

RSVP - https://goo.gl/forms/21ieiVatqrlkr3tF3