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Has anyone considered unplugging Spring and plugging it back in to see if it will work right?

Not my creative headline, unfortunately, but a good one nonetheless, and well put in terms of how odd this Spring has been.

Except that this Spring has not been odd, if my memory serves me right. Not in the context of Spring happening over millennia and even over decades. Spring used to be a lot like the on-again-off-again odd weather we have experienced the past month.

When I was a kid, lo these many decades ago, Spring was a process. It was not a moment in time.

Spring took time to become Spring. It was the spaced-out staging of leaves and buds emerging, green poking up through the soil a bit at a time.

“April showers bring May flowers” went the old adage. Meaning that as a precursor to the warm weather with flowers was a sustained period of rain and cool or cold weather. That was Spring, spanning cold, rain, cold rain, and the gradual emergence of green things and then the crowning sign – flowers!

Showers, heck, I recall a snow blizzard in early April as I was casting a small dry fly on the lower reaches of Big Fishing Creek in Clinton County, near the Lamar trout hatchery. In my early twenties, in fact I might have been just twenty years old, I was stubbornly casting to “rising” trout despite a white-out snow storm blanketing the air and the stream’s surface with big white snowflakes. That a trout could tell the difference between a huge plump snowflake and a measly morsel of a vague-looking aquatic insect landing briefly on the surface was a leap of faith I was fully committed to taking, and making with every cast.

My youth’s crowning moment arrived when a much older man, probably someone my age now, stopped to watch me casting the dry fly amidst the snow storm.

“Pretty ambitious, dontcha think?,” he humorously called out from up above.

And right then a big fish whacked my drifting fly, and I hauled in one of the most colorful symbols of Spring, an iridescent rainbow trout. The guy looked at me slack-jawed, eyes wide in amazement, like I was some kind of fishing genius, and I looked up at the snowing heavens and mouthed a “Thank You.” One of the more memorable fish and fishing moments in a lifetime of fishing.

That day the air temperature was still spring-like, but the obvious above-ground temperatures were cold enough to generate snow. It was a  classic symbol of the kind of gradual and slowly shifting, two steps forward one step back warming change that Spring used to be.

But that was thirty, forty years ago. A different world, a different climate.

Apparently the earth’s switching magnetic polarity is now playing a big role in the Winter-to-Summer “Spring” times we have experienced for a long time now. This switch happens naturally every 200,000 to 300,000 years.

Because the earth’s polarity is switching, which means the North Pole becoming the South Pole and vice-versa (but what we arbitrarily call North and South remain the same) the earth’s magnetic field-cum-shield is at its weakest. Earth’s magnetic shield is at its weakest because the poles are swapping positions and the magnetic field strung up between the two poles is stretched to its thinnest. The earth’s magnetic field-cum-shield is one of the reasons our planet has so much life on it; a great deal of harmful cosmic rays and powerful solar ultraviolet (UV) light are caught in the magnetic “net” and they are blocked from reaching the earth’s surface.

Therefore, a lot more solar radiation has penetrated to the earth’s surface over the past few decades, with the kinds of unusual heat, warming, and strong winds that we have witnessed. As well as a lot more quick sunburns under what appear to be pretty normal sunny conditions. The sun is not necessarily stronger, but a lot more of its energy is reaching us. For now.

And that takes me back to that unplugging Spring. For about 35 years Spring has been kind of unplugged, in a way, and it will remain so for about another decade, until the polar switch is complete. And then these gradual Springtimes, like the one we just had, will become normal again.

I can’t wait for that to happen, because I enjoy a real Spring so very much, the change from one season to the next. Normally temperate climes like Pennsylvania appeal to me for that very reason.

Everything hinges on the nickel-iron core inside the earth. And we won’t be unplugging THAT any time soon.

Is it time for civil disobedience and ignoring kook judicial holdings?

Civil disobedience, non-resistance obstructionism, and peaceful protests against clearly unfair laws and violent government agents is time-honored in America.

Civil disobedience works because it appeals to the higher mind, it appeals to the best, highest conscience in Western Civilization.  You have to have an open mind to have civil disobedience work on your political views so that you vote for change from the status quo.

It won’t work in a Muslim country, where civil disobedience will just get you locked up and tortured, or summarily killed.

It did work for Ghandi in India because the 1940s British empire valued democracy and voting rights, and the public cry at home over images of British soldiers shooting peaceful protestors in Delhi’s public streets threatened to up-end political control at home.

Americans have successfully employed civil disobedience since the 1920s: Segregation laws, no voting rights for women, a lack of equal rights or opportunity across so many sectors of society… the causes were real and political changes were needed for America to live up to its promise.

And ain’t America an amazing place that it is designed to change and heal old wounds, to become a better place?

Because the original use of civil disobedience was so righteous, because so many of the laws being protested in the 1920s through the 1960s were so outrageously unjust, the behavior eventually took on a connotation of being above the law and always justified.  In fact, over time even violence became justified in the name of Marxist versions of “justice,” and pro-violence slogans like “No Justice, No Peace” evolved.

Today, violent, fake civil disobedience has been employed by the “Occupy Wall Street” thugs, and by the violent criminals in Ferguson, Missouri.  These events always start off as a routine, rote, formula civil disobedience act, and then they quickly devolve into destruction, arson, violence, beatings, attacks on bystanders….all in the name of some Marxist version of “justice.”

Inevitably, politically allied elected officials have begun to implement their jobs in a similar fashion.  No matter what the law says, they ignore it, and make a big public deal about subverting the law.  As if they are justified.  They actually take pride in failing to implement the law as they are supposed to.

Examples of elected officials ignoring and subverting the law are a county clerk of courts issuing same-sex marriage licenses, despite Pennsylvania law saying it is illegal.  Or Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane refusing to defend state laws, because she personally disagrees with them.  Or California banning state judges from belonging to the Boy Scouts.  Or the Obama administration willfully failing to implement immigration law.  Or Harrisburg City mayor Eric Papenfuse refusing to rescind city ordinances that are plainly illegal under state preemption law, because Papenfuse holds certain personal views about guns.

This lawlessness by the very people entrusted with safeguarding and implementing the law is dangerous.  These wayward officials stand on quicksand, because the basis of our republican form of democracy is the rule of law – equal application of the law, irrespective of what one personally believes.

If government officials begin ignoring laws they disagree with, and implementing law that was not voted into being by the consent of the voters, then the rule of law is over, it has ended.  The glue that holds America together is corroded, and the whole edifice can come down.

But let’s ask why only one side of the political debate does this.  We know they get away with this because the mainstream media protects them, but the MSM veil has been pierced by the Internet, so the flow of information is no longer completely bottled up by fellow travelers.

Put another way, why don’t other people, say people like American traditionalists, “conservatives,” engage in the same behavior?

Here is an example of what could be done: Last week a federal judge ruled that Arizona must issue drivers licenses to illegal immigrants.  Never mind that these people are in America ILLEGALLY, the claims they make for their applications could be and often are fraudulent, and the cost of these services is unfairly covered by taxpayers.

Why don’t the good officials of Arizona simply ignore that judge’s insane ruling?  That judge has no ability to actually make Arizona issue drivers licenses, and if I worked in Arizona government, or if I still worked in federal government and had something to do with allowing illegal immigrants in, I would simply ignore that judge’s crazy ruling, or the illegal commands of the occupant of the White House.

There, folks, how do you like the taste of that medicine now?

Think of the many kook, nakedly political judicial decisions that are handed down, contrary to law and policy.  Why reward these dictatorial jurists by following their dictates? Why not simply ignore them?  God knows, they are earning it.

Civil disobedience and official lawlessness is a game that everyone can play, and at some point the people who have been acting like adults will recognize they only stand to lose by following the rule of law while their opponents exploit their fidelity, and only by fighting fire with fire will they make it clear that everyone must follow and implement the law, no matter what their personal views are, or everyone loses.

Or, people can do it the old fashioned way, and work to get the law changed one vote at a time.

Relishing the win over GOP machine politics

Four years ago, I ran in the US Congressional Republican primary for the Congressional seat held by then congressman Tim Holden. It was a four-way race, between me, state senator Dave Argall, Frank Ryan, and Baptist Pastor Bob Griffiths.  From the get-go, different Republican leaders tried to get me to bow out.  Dave himself met with me at GOP headquarters and asked me to step out (Ah, the irony…I had asked him to chair my campaign).  Lots of heartache along the campaign trail as GOP insiders tried again and again to give Dave an artificial boost, an unfair advantage, and unequal opportunity.  Lebanon County GOP tried to endorse him, and the committee disintegrated as a result of the infighting that ensued.  Schuylkill County GOP did endorse him, and immediately afterwards lost its chairman and underwent radical changes.

It was a great race, we did very well (26% overall in a four-way race, with about $20,000 spent, and the highlight being the 51% we got in rural Perry County, which has my kind of people), and we got kudos all around for the excellent pick-up campaign we ran.  Dave went on to win that primary by a few hundred votes, and then he got crushed by Tim Holden.  All of the smart GOP consultants and insiders who told me that Dave would win, and that I should get out, well, they never called me to acknowledge they were wrong.  Apparently losing races is OK so long as it is a GOP insider, but the consultancy insider class is terribly afraid of grass roots candidates losing.

In 2012, I ran in the GOP primary for the PA 15th state senate district, but only after I had  cleared a bunch of artificial hurdles the GOP set up to keep me out of that race.  First, the new district was not released until very late in 2011, and only then after former state senator Jeff Piccola had retired one week into the one-year residency requirement period (imagine that!), so that I could not get an apartment over the new district line just a mile from my house and thereby qualify as a resident of the district.

In January 2012, the PA state supreme court threw out the GOP redistricting plan, calling it unconstitutional and deeply flawed, and I found myself back in the old district.  But even then, we were several days into the ballot petition process, with no volunteers, no committee, no paperwork, no money, up against two establishment candidates, one of whom was hand picked by the party, John McNally, our Dauphin County GOP chairman.

We got 850 signatures, got on the ballot, and started campaigning, grass roots style.  Within weeks, the GOP-controlled PA senate had developed a new redistricting map and presented it to the court.  Not surprisingly, I was once again outside the senate district.  Making things worse, the GOP establishment staff began telling voters that I might win, but then be outside the district, and therefore unable to serve the people who had voted for me.  Thankfully, the PA supreme court rejected the map as just as flawed as the first one, and the GOP had to live with my candidacy, which proved to be incredibly popular.

In other words, I know exactly what senator-elect Scott Wagner went through until this week.

What was refreshing to me as I worked Wagner’s district’s largest poll (Manchester 5 & 7) was the voter sentiment that came pouring out as they poured in to the polling place to write in Wagner’s name on the ballot.  Voters were vociferously rejecting the contrived hurdles that the GOP had arranged to stop Wagner, they rejected the artificial support the GOP had thrown behind milquetoast career politician Ron Miller, and they strongly opposed the $700,000 in negative ads run against Wagner.  That was $700,000 that the GOP could have spent, should have spent, to beat liberalism.

I do intend to run for the 15th state senate district again in two years.  And I guess I will be facing a GOP hand-picked cookie cutter empty suit of a candidate, someone the party expects to be a rubber stamp, who will not pursue right-to-work legislation.  And folks, I intend to win this one.  Hope to see you there with me at the barricades.

 

Patriot News Editorial on Mindlin’s Toss from Ballot

“Infrequently” best describes how often an editorial by the local newspaper, The Patriot News, would appeal to me on logic, principle, or understanding of the facts. However, independent candidate Nevin Mindlin’s political assassination by both Democrats and Republicans is so notoriously egregious that the Patriot News stated the case pretty well, so here it is:

Commonwealth Court sides with mystery challengers to Mindlin’s candidacy: Editorial
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Patriot-News Editorial Board By Patriot-News Editorial Board
on October 07, 2013 at 10:59 AM, updated October 07, 2013 at 12:09 PM

Nevin Mindlin, the one-time independent candidate for Harrisburg mayor, is a candidate no more. He has been knocked off the November ballot by court rulings based on the mindlessly literal application of a nonsensical state law. With little time for an appeal to the state Supreme Court, he has decided against waging a write-in campaign.

Nevin Mindlin went to Commonwealth Court in September, seeking to get back on November’s mayoral ballot. Friday, the court turned him down.

Though Mindlin was an independent candidate, not affiliated with any party or organization, state law requires him to name a committee that would replace him should he leave the race. That requirement makes sense for a political party, but it makes no sense for an independent candidate. By definition, an independent candidate is independent of organizational structures that would be entitled to claim an independent’s slot on the ballot.

Knowing all that, Mindlin did not name that committee. The Dauphin County elections office accepted his petition, without any warning that his petition had any fatal defect.

None of that mattered to the lower court that knocked him off the ballot earlier this summer. And it didn’t matter to Commonwealth Court, which last Friday upheld the dubious ruling.

Commonwealth Court used a legal technicality to dodge the heart of Mindlin’s case. He said that the state law in question violates a right enshrined in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution — freedom of association. In this case, the law forces Mindlin to associate with a “committee” empowered to choose some undetermined future candidate who could replace him, when the whole point of his candidacy is that he is independent of backroom-type arrangements like that.

Mindlin’s case is an example of the sleazy, insider political game-playing that fuels public disillusionment with elected officials and government.

The court’s hostility to Mindlin’s arguments also contradicts a well-established principle set by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court in election cases. Courts in the commonwealth, when applying the election code, are supposed to construe the requirements liberally, “so as not to deprive an individual of his right to run for office, or voters of their right to elect a candidate of their choice.”

Again, the Commonwealth Court used a technicality to completely ignore those claims under the state Constitution.

Mindlin’s campaign is the latest casualty of ballot bounty hunters, ordinary citizens who mysteriously come forward, armed with expensive lawyers, to press a legal challenge to a candidate’s filing papers.

Hired guns parse signatures for the slimmest possible rationale to disqualify them: using a first initial instead of full name, women whose maiden name and married name are different, imperfect handwriting, stray marks in the signature block.

Even if the candidate survives the challenge, (as third-party Allegheny County council candidate Jim Barr did earlier this summer), he or she has to expend precious time and money fighting in court.

These often-shadowy court challenges to candidates’ paperwork have a corrosive effect on public confidence in the integrity of the election system.

In a comment on PennLive, one reader said Mindlin “must have stepped on the wrong toes.” Another announced, “I won’t be voting for anybody; the best candidate just got bounced.”

Many have wondered who paid the legal bills for challenging Mindlin. But without any public disclosure requirements, the mystery money can remain secret.

All in all, Mindlin’s case is an example of the sleazy, insider political game-playing that fuels public disillusionment with elected officials and government.

Pennsylvania’s legislature could rewrite election law to strike the nonsensical provision that kept Mindlin off the ballot. The legislature could require those filing challenges against candidates to identify how they are paying for all that expensive legal work. The Legislature could lower the unreasonably high barriers now imposed on third parties seeking to get on the state’s ballot.

But as with so many dysfunctional aspects of Pennsylvania’s laws affecting politicians, those who get to make the rules are content with the status quo. After all, they got there by playing by the rules as they are – why would legislators want to change them?

From their selfish perspective, it makes political sense. But from the perspective of the citizen whom elected officials are supposed to serve, allowing ballot bounty hunters so much room to squelch candidates is nonsense.
(from http://www.pennlive.com/opinion/index.ssf/2013/10/mindlin_off_ballot_commonwealth_court_bad_ruling.html#comments)

Bill Tully for Judge sporting clay shoot

Bill Tully is a candidate running for Dauphin County Judge. He is the older and much, much more experienced of two candidates vying for the same seat. Bill is holding a sporting clays shoot at Hummelstown Field & Stream Association on May 4th, starting with the 8:30 breakfast.
It is $75 per participant and is open to kids 12 and up.
Questions should be directed to www.billtullyjudge.com

Bruce Warshawsky for Susquehanna Twp school board

Bruce Warshawsky is a local attorney of note, having run for office and participated in many campaigns.

Bruce is a taxpayer, father of three children, married to Terri, and a long-time Susquehanna Township resident. He is a good guy and a hard worker.

Susquehanna Township is going through some oddball politics right now, with strong racial tones that I personally find frightening and sad. America is better than what we are seeing there at this time.

Bruce has always been above race issues, advocating for an inclusive set of principles instead, the most important of which is Academic Excellence above all else.

Academic excellence should be the goal of all parents and all taxpayers who foot the bill for government schools.

The best way to reach Bruce is 717 547-4089, or btwarshawsky@comcast.net. Recall that even small donations of ten or fifteen bucks go a long way. Bruce also needs volunteers to help distribute campaign literature to voters.

Forget Recriminations, Move America & The Republican Party Forward

Forget Recriminations, Move America & The Republican Party Forward

By Josh First

November 14, 2012

More than enough recriminations are flying around about who and what caused Mitt Romney to lose last Tuesday’s presidential election: Foolish staffers, inaccurate polling, Obama redistributing private property of America’s makers to the takers and thus buying their votes, a prolonged, punishing primary, poor ground game by complacent Republicans, uninspiring/insipid/kind/tepid/limp/weak/tame/nice/flaccid moderate Republican candidates, etc. Rather than re-hashing and reassigning the blame, let’s move America and our core, traditional values forward, analyzing things we can change to guide us.

Out of all of the reasons, causes, and excuses for last week’s unimaginable election failure, two solvable challenges do stand out: 1) Biased media reporting, and 2) the poor relationship between many Republican voters and the Republican Party establishment.

‘Media’ includes both the various faux news political advocacy outlets like ABC, CBS, NBC, NPR, PBS, NYT, MSNBC, Washington Post, etc. and otherwise known as the mainstream media, as well as the entertainment shows like Letterman, Jon Stewart, Jimmy Kimmel, et. al.

Republican Party ‘establishment’ includes the careerist elected officials, bureaucrats, pollsters, financers, lobbyists, apparatchiks, consultants, and other functionaries and rock star groupies whose often low-risk, insulated careers and financial interests comprise the don’t-rock-the-boat wing. Registered Republican voters and tea party activists are not necessarily included in this group.

Last Tuesday’s voting data show that Romney received fewer votes than McCain received in 2008, even as Obama also received far fewer votes than his all-positive campaign got in 2008. So, despite Obama’s catastrophic economy, foreign policy failures, gaffes, corruption, and bizarre running mate, Republican enthusiasm for Romney was actually lower than Republican enthusiasm of four years ago. Despite all that was on the line, Republicans were unwilling to go to the polls. Why?

As noted, the anti-Republican mainstream media artificially propped up a failed, corrupt Obama administration, and the Republican Party establishment again demonstrated its disdain for Republican voters and activists. These two issues are totally fixable. If Republican leaders want to fix them.

That the American mainstream media are political advocates first and foremost, and won’t report facts unless they hurt Republicans and conservatives, is well known and easily proven. Well, folks, stop whining about it! Fix it, change it, shape that battlefield! For all the money that goes into promoting Republican and conservative causes, why can’t we come up with more friendly news outlets, comedians (like Larry the Cable Guy, Jeff Foxworthy), and TV shows set up for them? Breitbart, The Blaze, Drudge Report, Washington Free Beacon, Frontpage Magazine, Project Veritas and other new media deserve our support and are making headway, but wouldn’t it help if wealthy Republicans purchased some of the nation’s failing newspapers and rejuvenated them to get back to reporting factual news, like the Benghazi cover-up? Wouldn’t it be enjoyable to see some of Breitbart’s investigative reporting show up in print in hometown newspapers, or on a news channel? Can no one create a conservative stand-up comedy club, or a conservative comedy TV show, to give a platform to Jon Stewart’s alter ego? Yes, we can. Richard Scaife can’t do it all by himself.

The second issue is Republican Party vs. Republican voters, sometimes called the grass roots. As in, profit vs. principle, or, “There seems to be a struggle within the Republican Party between the traditional leadership and the conservative grass roots individuals and groups that are probably more mobilized now than they were a few years ago,” said Lehigh University professor Frank Davis, back in February. “The Republican Party has used these grass roots individuals to further the party establishment’s interests, and I think these people may want to choose their own representatives, rather than rely on the leadership,” Davis observed.

The onus for reconciling the two groups is fully on the Republican Party leaders, staffers, and functionaries; the “professionals.” Many Republican Party leaders have engaged in high-handed, controlling behavior that has alienated a growing number of registered Republicans, even the most dedicated. Republican voters and volunteers have been treated as wind-up toy soldiers, turned in a direction and told to march. Party intervention in primary races is one of the worst abuses. No matter how much the establishment may want Yes men to support the establishment’s intertwined political and business interests, the final costs are just too high. Stay out and give the people a voice, and you’ll be rewarded with more inspired voters, more volunteers on the ground, more elections won.

Some examples: First, running a gazillionaire for president during the worst economy in 70 years, where his wealth contrasted with citizens’ daily needs…does that make sense? It sure did to the Party establishment, which was long ago greasing the skids for Romney staffers into county Party offices well before the last primary closed. Sure, I like Romney, admire his business acumen, donated to his campaign, went door to door for him, blogged for him, and voted for him. But someone more blue collar, more authentic is needed to connect to and persuade regular Americans.

Second example: Grass roots candidates lost several recent US Senate races, which establishment candidates would have had no greater chance of winning, but the establishment demanded they step aside. Here in Pennsylvania, candidates hand-picked by Republican Party leaders were also disastrous failures, from the primary to last week’s general election. These candidates made perfect sense to insiders. But when trotted out into the public venue, these perfect candidates went down in flames.

The professional class of Republicans say they know what they are doing and everyone just needs to move out of their way and let them do their job. Maybe it’s true that the new grass roots activists lack professional judgment, but the professional class suffers from an inspiration gap, pushing plain vanilla, pre-fabricated, cookie cutter candidates who are “supposed” to win, but who fail after spectacularly expensive investments. The Party does actually need Republican voters to get their candidates across the goal line, so will they listen to the voters?

Which leads to the second solvable challenge — successful candidates, their Party backers, and establishment leaders must unify the Republican Party. That means putting aside egos, picking up the phone, calling their opponents, and asking to meet with them, for their support and help. Having myself run in two Republican primaries in the past three years, let’s look at how that works. In one race, the insider victor, state senator Dave Argall, graciously contacted me, asked me for help in his general election, gave me opportunities to speak in public on his behalf, and turned my hard work into a benefit, rallying the Party. Dave has had a lot of races in the past few years, and he has won all but one of them. Establishment or not, the guy knows how to treat people right, he benefits from it, and so does the Party.

Contrast Argall’s generosity of spirit with the treatment I got over the past eight months from state and local Republican officials, who did everything possible to exclude and punish me for exercising a simple American right. Despite running one hell of a strong, last-second, pick-up campaign for state senate back in January (thanks to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court), most of the establishment pros treated me like some sort of disloyal pest, with a couple guys behaving outright disrespectfully to my face. One primary voter, a supporter of my opponent, gave our volunteer the middle finger from his front door; when we looked him up on the Internet, it turned out he is a leader in our opponent’s church. You know what? My supporters noticed this stuff. The establishment candidate from my race lost in the general election, attracting far fewer Republican volunteers and votes than he should have otherwise gotten in Republican bastions. From these circumstances the Tea Party recruits its newest members, and Republican voters stay home.

If I sound cranky, let me just get an honest answer to this one question: Is there sufficient humility among our Party leaders to learn from these mistakes, to look inside, and make the necessary tough changes?

In sum, if Republicans want to win elections, they need to be the Party of Opportunity. Change the media battlefield, and also act like a good man to your Party members, including the more conservative, independent-minded ones. We are all in this together, let’s start acting like it.

Stay in the conversation at www.joshfirst.com and on our political Facebook page

Did Voter Fraud Occur in Dauphin County? How Would You Know?

Did Voter Fraud Occur in Dauphin County? How Would You Know?

By Josh First

November 1, 2012

PoliticsPA recently mentioned the question raised about voter fraud in Dauphin County during the April 2012 primary election, and as the subject of that question, it is necessary to describe its genesis.

On April 24th, voters cast their ballots in the primary election, in which I ran for state senate, as a Republican, against John McNally and Bill Seeds. The final results were surprising in several ways, encouraging our team to look closely at the numbers. What we found seemed too symmetrical to be coincidental. We were then discouraged to learn that Dauphin County’s voting machines (indeed, all electronic and computerized voting machines) are reportedly easy to tamper with, and that Dauphin County’s machines are stored in a non-secure location where access is neither controlled nor monitored.

When I then asked Dauphin County Bureau of Elections to explain the physical controls surrounding the voting machines, my request was forwarded to Dauphin County’s elected political leaders, the same people who had opposed me in the primary. Their May 31st, 2012, official response through the county solicitor was to reject everything I asked for: “Dear Mr. First, This office has reviewed your letter to the Bureau of Elections, Dauphin County, and we must advise that your request is denied…your request cannot be honored…the information and access requested is not proper.”

Despite voting machines forming the foundation of America, one would think that elected officials would be the first people to instill confidence in the voting process, not undermine it. Here in Dauphin County, you’d be wrong.

What piqued our curiosity back on April 24th were the following factors:

1) Political unknown John McNally received many more votes than voters we surveyed indicated was likely.

2) McNally’s electoral success was contrary to surrounding voter trends, where Republican Party-endorsed candidates Steve Welch and Jenna Lewis were trumped by underdogs.

3) Many other Republican primary candidates have also grossly out-spent their competitors, only to lose, so huge infusions of Party money were no guarantor of McNally’s success.

4) Political unknown John McNally received more votes than Bill Seeds in Lower Paxton Township, where Seeds has been a popular supervisor for 20 years and had every reason and expectation to win big. Similarly, in locations where I had done very well in the 2010 congressional primary race, McNally garnered amazingly high results.

5) McNally appeared to receive one vote for every other vote cast for Seeds and First, in every single precinct but one, a mathematical improbability if not an impossibility. Think hard about this.

6) Simple research indicated that mechanical and electronic voting machines are easily subject to fraud through pre-programming; paper ballots are probably more reliable. All that is needed is five minutes and a device from Radio Shack, and a voting machine will give you whatever results you tell it to give, and unless someone crawls inside the chip’s code, no one will ever know.

7) Given the politics and criminal investigation surrounding the Harrisburg incinerator debt, sufficient motive exists to commit another crime. Whoever wins this state senate seat will have enormous influence on the criminal investigation in Harrisburg.

Now, I am not accusing anyone of voter fraud. We don’t have the evidence. But, enough factors and conditions add up to make me wonder if something happened; it certainly could happen. The subsequent lack of transparency and resistance by county officials didn’t help restore my confidence. After being turned down by the county solicitor, I submitted a Right-To-Know request, which was honored at the end of the 30-day period. To summarize the response, Dauphin County’s voting machines, and the little computer chips that run them, are not treated like the nuclear launch controls they should be treated like. Instead of elected officials from each party having only half of the access, all of the access to the machines and their chips is held by one or two people from one political party. If that’s not a recipe for problems, then what is?

So, if voter fraud occurred in Dauphin County, how would we know? More to the point, will the county adopt strict measures to guarantee that our sacred voting machines cannot be tampered with?

Trust in official institutions is the defining characteristic of American democracy. It’s the centerpiece of the rule of law, which we simply take for granted. Your confidence in public institutions is the cornerstone of our democracy and civilization. When shared institutions are corrupted, or harnessed to serve narrow interests rather than the broad, public interest, then democracy fails. Don’t let that happen.

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