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Pioneer and Patriot Bev Harris TVNL Woman of the Year

Wednesday 22 December 2004

At the bottom of all the tributes paid to democracy is the little man, walking into the little booth, with a little pencil, making a little cross on a little bit of paper. . . .
Author: Gilbert Keith Chesterton

If nothing else, Bev Harris represents the great divide that is America. In most of cyberspace, she’s a household word. In much of the real world, she’s largely unknown. In the blue states, Bev Harris is a standard bearer, a pioneer, and a patriot. In the red states, many who know her believe that Bev Harris is a conspiracy nut, a rabble rouser, and an agitator.

In fact, Bev Harris is far more than the poster woman for a polarized nation. Rather, she is a symbol of perseverance and commitment to democracy in a time of doubt and suspicion. She is a model of unyielding focus and determination in a time of uncertainty and disillusion. And she is an inspiring example of how one person - just one single person - can make a real difference.

It is for her ceaseless, non-partisan efforts to uncover and expose the flaws and fraud connected to electronic voting machines that TvNewsLIES.org has chosen Bev Harris as our 2004 Person of the Year!

For nearly two years, Bev Harris has been a one-woman whirlwind, trying to draw attention to the pitfalls of the computerized election process that promises to become standard in much of the nation. Her relentless crusade hoisted red flags about missing paper trails and questionable security standards for the machines. Her tireless investigations raised equally significant questions about the integrity of Diebold, ES&S, and Sequoia - the three major manufacturers of the electronic machines.

Because of her important work, Bev Harris’ web site, Blackbox.org, has become the quintessential election watchdog on the Internet. Much in the same way, her book, Black Box Voting, has kept the problems of electronic voting in the public conscience and has laid the groundwork for the kind of surveillance and oversight that will determine the accuracy of future elections. How fortunate for us all that Bev Harris chose to champion our rights as Americans, and that Bev Harris refused to back down against torrents of criticism and harassment along the way.

Bev Harris’ work is not over simply because the election is over. She continues to use her PR skills and experience to convince Americans that their votes must be protected from machine defects or political corruption. We thank her for her dedication to a cause so vital to the preservation of our democracy, and for staying the course where others might wearily have abandoned it. And we thank Bev Harris for bringing electronic voting issues to the forefront, and for reminding us that our right to vote is precious and must exist without compromise.

In these distressing times, when the fragility of our rights as Americans hangs by a tenuous thread, we are comforted by knowing that Bev Harris is out there fighting for what is right and never giving an inch to her detractors.

As this eventful year draws to an end, TvNewsLIES.org would like to thank Bev Harris of Blackbox.org, on behalf of so many who admire and appreciate her activism. We are proud to name this extraordinary woman our 2004 Person of the Year!

Forum posts

  • kamqute (72 posts)
    Fri Dec-17-04 09:52 PM
    Original message

    Re: The BBV Mess

    This was posted by Catherine Scolvin aka Straw_Citizen with my support and input on the Randi Rhodes Show section of the Air America Place forum yesterday afternoon. I hope it can clear up some of the confusion:

    QUOTE (bigtree @ Dec 15 2004, 10:34 PM)
    I was listening to Malloy last night and a couple of calls came in from Bev’s staff (Katherine and Danielle?)- anyway - they were apologizing for Bev’s actions and were adamant that the money was being spent on FOI requests....

    Then the bbv.org site has the unceremonial firing of Andy - just after his sister died too!

    I don’t know what to believe anymore...

    I missed the first hour or so of Randi today - did she talk about it at all?

    The short version first.

    * I hope this lends a clearer picture and perspective.
    * I hope Bev gets help and moves on.
    * I hope Andy continues working on vote fraud issues without interference from the debris of unwarranted and malicious accusations.
    * I applaud Air America for being responsible, maintaining open dialogue and allowing two-way communication.
    * There is more of the same of what is posted below, but this is too long already.

    This is Catherine. Daniel and I are neither staff nor privy to facts, but wanted BBV supporters to know that despite problems we believe BBV’s investigations were real and donations were at least partially spent on FOIA requests.

    We both worked with other BBV volunteers on a county election official contact list used to send FOIA requests. We believe those requests were sent because 1) BBV claimed to receive responses to them, and 2) if FOIA requests were not sent to and received by election officials that would be newsworthy and easy to confirm.

    I don’t recall saying anything that could be construed as direct support other than it has been a pleasure working with Andy and I look forward to working with him in the future wherever he chooses, since he is now unencumbered.

    I reiterate my belief that money has been spent on FOIA requests. If asked though, I would also have stated my own concern about the absence of a monetary goal, as I did in an email to the President of the BBV Board of Directors. The response was that BBV should not signal to the opposition where BBV was at with a goal. At least I received a response.

    Additionally, the valuable work constructed by collaborators in the writing of Black Box Voting: Ballot-Tampering in the 21st Century, should not be diminished because of one person on a bizarre self-destruct path bent on bringing others down with her. It doesn’t speak well of Bev Harris in face of the credits originally stated in this book, that since then I have witnessed chronic public attacks by Bev directed toward David Allen and other collaborators. However, above the fray David Allen of Plan Nine Publishing has kept the book in its original state (Bev has edited it for download from her site) and deserves kudos for maintaining an even keel while weathering the storm many of us have come to know as Bev Harris.

    Something else that begs clarity is that though Andy may have believed he would not be working for BBV, he was not formally or officially notified that he was fired until Bev did so publicly. Again, I do not have all the facts, but have sufficient email communications from a member of the Board of Directors for BBV to soundly draw that conclusion.

    After piecing facts from my own experience together with what I have seen Bev write online recently, it is my firm belief that Bev conflated past and recent outside attacks toward her with internal management conflicts, then vented combined stressors and frustrations by publicly placing all weight on one person simply because it could be done. Some people are better equipped than others to cope with being in a hot seat. It has become obvious to many that Bev cannot take the heat without lashing out at those within reach. There is also the fact that responsibility stays at the top no matter who is used as a scapegoat.

    Transparent management would clear up questions about embezzlement and expenditures. That is up to the BBV Board of Directors, unless Bev is trying to run that too. It is well known among many that delegation by Bev is a weak point for BBV. From personal experience, Bev exemplifies the analogy of the monkey with its hand in the jar refusing to relinquish grasp of one thing in order to obtain another.

    As a former BBV volunteer I understand the frustration and even anger of other volunteers and members whose efforts to help and donate were heavily solicited, then ignored. For a few days I was designated by Bev as Volunteer Coordinator only to find myself cut off at the pass with all efforts to do what I was asked to. That began with the county contact list, since Bev mistakenly thought every state could be done quickly. I heard Bev clearly as I waited on the phone for confirmation that it was ok to use other sources or not. It was not ok with Bev, but since Bev’s single source was inadequate we did the best we could with other sources anyway. (Btw, anyone who needs a county / town election official list for emailing, calling or faxing, may download this Election Investigation Library which will remain a work in progress)

    Organization became noticeably worse just prior to the General Election as membership tripled within a week. Complaints of ‘no response’ to email and numerous pleas to help littered BBV forums. After a few days of Bev saying she would respond (on the site, though it’s gone now) and not seeing it happen, I created a few admin accounts for a few trusted members who could help cover responses so I could sort skills sets. This was necessary because moderator features did not work. I also emailed Bev every step of the way so she could remain informed, and at her own pace.

    Note: I hoard email and have saved each sent to Bev, as well as collected screenshots of problems on the site to support those emails. In fact, after Keith Olbermann was made out to be the bad guy by Bev, I emailed him examples of problems noted by various members on the BBV site to support his assessment. Though it felt appropriate to keep my thoughts from public view even then, I still thought the matter was important enough to corroborate problems I witnessed myself.

    Then Democratic Underground members began forming a more functional clean up crew than existed at BBV. Password issues at BBV prevented many from logging in and this continued despite emails to Bev and posts throughout the site. As the DU clean up crew picked up momentum, coincidentally it became clear that BBV urgently needed more Florida attorneys. As I searched online for a news article regarding BBV in Florida, Andy briefly passed that fact on to me. I perceived it as a directive from Bev rather than a note-to-self for Andy because I had become accustomed to acting on ideas and suggestions. (Otherwise, not even the county contact list would have been completed using Bev’s chosen source.)

    Because BBV email wasn’t being responded to; because Bev tried to be the sole email response person; and because I knew she was unavailable and they didn’t have reliable internet access while out-of-town; I led a couple other volunteers in discussing and creating an email address for responses to an urgent request for FL attorneys to be sent to, then one of us posted the request on DU. Bev eventually saw this and publicly posted on DU that it was not authorized, though I had emailed her about it to be on the same page. Bev made a fool of us, then demanded via email and a post on DU that we call her immediately. I did so and was sorry I bothered.

    After posting research for BBV off and on for two years and working 18-20 hours a day at election time, I was finally allowed the opportunity 3 times that night during phone calls to be yelled at non-stop for matters unrelated to any BBV volunteer (that I’m aware of) except for a minute dwelling on the newly created unauthorized email address. (the reason why was apparently unimportant) Specifically, Bev repeatedly referred to DU as stealing BBV members and that was ’just not going to happen’. During that conversation, my pointing out that at least hundreds (based on the explosion of membership) of people were not being responded to and they were rightfully displeased about being misled by her claims to be leading, was somehow stretched by Bev to be the work of ’infiltrators’ (she termed ’the usual suspects’) at BBV and DU.

    I then directed Bev to a BBV forum where members were posting complaints of "no response" to emails and password issues about the same time Bev noticed (finally) that I had created a few admin accounts to help with the increasing membership volume. Bev immediately removed admin status from our accounts which left BBV with no organizing ability through volunteers. (there have been plenty of volunteers with a wide range of skills including local office help) I should mention here that security on the site is so lax that two days later I was able to login and reset my own password (an admin-only function) on my old user name because cookies retained my admin status after Bev removed it. I notified Bev of this immediately via email.

    I was also taken aback throughout those 3 phone calls, which averaged 15-20 minutes each, by Bev’s focus on blaming others for every single thing that didn’t go as she thought it should. I recall feeling less like a real person listening to Bev on the phone, than a garbage dump with an ear.

    Why didn’t I speak up sooner? Partially self-denial to be honest, and because of the initial statements in this post. I had also been volunteering in ’self-propelled’ mode from day one. I was unsure how to proceed. I could not speak for BBV. Neither could I assume my own experience was exactly the same as others, despite appearances. I trusted Bev to be a real leader because she put herself in that role. I wanted to continue to help as best I could in every aspect because vote fraud is such a vitally important issue. I respect the work that culminated in DUer’s, others’, David’s and Bev’s book. There may not be a good reason buried in all of that, but combined they caused me to feel paralyzed by the fact that if I was wrong about what I perceived that I would have started something rolling in the worst possible way.

    Finally, I offer my most sincere apology to all BBV members who thought I could help organize. My error in judgment affected many in an untimely manner. I realize now, that is an understatement for some who would have redirected their efforts elsewhere as I did. However, I would have remained silent if I had not seen with my own eyes, the malicious behavior Bev Harris exhibited toward a peer well known to support BBV 100%. As a result of Bev’s behavior toward me directly, I began cross volunteering and have learned a valuable lesson about supporting a person versus a cause, especially when that cause is supported by other very diligent groups. I hope BBV supporters will each be able to separate a work from the person, and continue efforts to expose vote fraud.

    — 
    Just to throw my own two cents in, I think it’s fairly clear that Bev Harris is a John Wayne type, so obsessed with her own cause (which in her mind is conflated with herself) that she is willing to abuse anyone she sees as standing in the way..that includes anyone who exists around her in times of stress because they threaten her individuality, and even if they don’t, abuse can sharpen one’s disconnection from other people, and thus their identity. I know this is all pretty obvious but I think it’s essential to put that at the forefront at this time..just remember that all of the INFORMATION on BBV you can still go on, and that the work Bev is doing continues to be extremely important.

  • The correct link is www.blackboxvoting.org not blackbox.org.

    Not sure if Andy Stephenson terminated with bbv. He was there 11/30; that was last I heard. Bev’s credibility hangs with this videotape in Volusia County and Palm Beach County. Right now, I support her. All the controversy could be that she is ruffling feathers.

    • Bev had a huge blow-up on a radio show on AAR. Andy was publically fired that evening with a horrible public posting on the blackbox site. Andy is a good guy and didn’t deserve to be treated that way by Bev just a week after his sister died.

  • I am on the Board of Black Box Voting and have been in support Bev’s work since first meeting her in July of 2003. Thank you for giving her such great recognition; I can’t think of anyone who deserves it more and who until now has received more grief than praise for her tireless work and endless commitment to saving our elections and cleaning up voting. Thank you!!!

    Vickie Karp, Austin Texas

  • What is the email address for Bev Harris of Black Box Voting fame?