NOTE: This discussion was originally classified as "hosted" but has now been moved to the "member initiated" category.  In the view of the OC Stewards, what is taking place here is a debate rather than dialogue.  In a "hosted" discussion here at, we request that balanced participation be encouraged and that regular summaries occur recognizing all the views being presented.  

While we have no objections to people using the OC forum to engage in debates, as long as they don't cross the line into personal attacks, such discussion is not what we are seeking in the "hosted" category.  

Ben Roberts

We are delighted to have Occupy Cafe member Mark E. Smith offer this hosted discussion on the provocative idea of an "election boycott."  

As "host," Mark will strive to keep the conversation orderly, offer regular summaries of the perspectives being presented and encourage balanced participation among all those who are engaged.  Here's Mark's initial summary:

An election boycott is the only known way to nonviolently delegitimize a government. It doesn't overthrow the government, it simply denies it the consent of the governed so that the government can no longer claim to have the people's consent. Among the many forms of noncompliance, such as removing money from big banks, boycotting corporate brands, withdrawing from the system and creating alternative systems, learning to live on less so as not to have to pay taxes, etc., refusing to vote can be one of the most crucial and effective tactics.

Thank you, Mark, for volunteering your services as "host!"

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-Not voting accomplishes nothing because Americans do not want to overthrow the government

Some Americans do want to overthrow the government, and most of them probably already don't vote. The people who do vote probably care more about the system and are not likely to stop voting and try to overthrow the government to create direct democracy.

-we can push for change within the system over issues like getting money out of politics and ending corporate personhood. We can change incrementally, fix the weak points of system we have.

I think we can change radically and quickly if we build the movement strong enough in 2012. I don't think we have weak points in the system, I think we have structural corruption on all levels that prevents true representation, in every branch of government and it all needs to be addressed by proposing core reforms supported by a massive grassroots citizen uprising willing to use every tool of resistance, disobedience, and non-compliance with the existing system until it breaks.

-Americans have spent years investigating vote-rigging.


-The more people who vote the more difficult it is to rig elections  

This is true with certain kinds of fraud, and overall because the more people engaged in the process, the more people with a vested interest, the more people watching, the harder it is. It's true that the Supreme Court is corrupt right now and the stole the 2000 election and ruled the votes didn't have to be counted, but they can't do that every time. That was a one-shot deal, and it helped to sow the seeds of dissent that are now blossoming into action. If they did it again, in the powder-keg 2012 environment, it could lead to open revolution. However, Obama serves the power elite very successfully and it's unlikely there will be the kind of coup we saw in 2000 when the Bush crime family took over.

-The only way to restore legitimacy to the electoral process is to vote and to object if the process appears rigged

I can't support this statement entirely. My assumption is that the process IS rigged -- that's why they've hidden the count from us -- and that we should not accept that we cannot view the process and therefore can ONLY rely on appearance. I don't support the acceptance of that system, I don't support condoning it at any point. If people want to vote -- and many do -- they need to do so understanding that their votes are likely manipulated. If that makes them angry, they need to organize immediately for a restoration of hand counted paper ballots. I think it's easier to get angry about your vote being stolen when you actually cast one.

The only way to restore legitimacy is to restore hand-counted paper ballots, counted in public on election day at the precinct, and also casting our votes ONLY on election day at the precinct -- not before in "early" voting, not by mail, not by the Internt.  All of those systems break the chain of custody of the ballot and allow for tampering and fraud. The ballots should be cast in clear plastic boxes to prevent stuffing.

-The Occupy movement will help because they will lead protests where potential fraud is suspected which will pressure authorities to respond.

Some people will do this, yes. The authorities will respond by bashing our heads in, no doubt. But it will call attention to the fraud. Ultimately the decision on technology rests with the Secretary of State -- that is the authority that needs the pressure.

-If vote-rigging still worsens instead of getting better that might prompt Americans to rise-up against the government

We mostly can't tell if vote rigging is worsening because the fraud is hidden from us. But if people have a renewed interest in electoral engagement and work hard to get good people into office and can't do it, there will be some reaction. If it is ill-informed, it will lead to despair and dropping out of the system. If it is informed, it will lead to organized action to change the way the system is rigged against us, or, as Mark promotes, to attempt to create an entirely new system.

-It is important to elect as many trustworthy candidates as possible regardless of political affiliation 

I think candidates will be increasingly forced to take a stand on the position of corporate personhood and campaign finance, and those who take the right stand should be supported.

-A complete system replacement would result in a period of dangerous chaos 

I don't believe a complete system replacement is possible. I think many factors have us hovering on the edge of chaos right now. I think we are likely to see chaos if we don't talk seriously about how to avoid it. Our government is corrupt and our economic system is about to crash again, people are poor and hungry and our electoral system is a sham, our climate is causing havoc and we may be facing food shortages from drought and flooding. We have serious problems that WILL cause more destabilization. I support all efforts to strengthen local community so we can weather the storms. But we have to realize that the planned response to all this destabilizing is military. 

-People don’t want a direct democracy. It’s too cumbersome and time-consuming

It can work on the community level, at the town-hall level, and even then, of course, it is very slow going. There is no mechanism yet that would allow it to work on more complex meta-levels. I do not support using the Internet for voting on issues and laws directly as there is no way to safeguard the process from rigging, and also many people don't even have Internet access.

-Electronic voting is untrustworthy, paper ballots are better

Paper ballots counted by hand in public allow the voter to witness the count and verify it directly. There is no way to do that with e-voting. The computers are not untrustworthy, they work just fine. It's the people programming them who are untrustworthy.

Giselle, I applaud your efforts to summarize the thread so far.

May I make a request? Could you please revise your summary as you get feedback from Lindsay, Mark and Victoria until they are satisfied that their views are being fairly represented? I think that would be very valuable, especially to newcomers to this thread. It also might help future commentators to avoid pointless repetition (not that I'm accusing anyone of that).


Mr. Blue

Thank-you, and I will revise sometime tonight or tommorrow. I find it a useful tool for understanding peoples' logic. It's straightening it out in my head, especially when there are changes to be made.

good summary..

No one here has to please me.  I would be pleased if each of the (hyper)active participants would declare themselves more or less problem solver or pioneer.  I would be pleased if the types conducted separate conversations, if only for a while, or in addition to the main conversation.

Of course, you might devise other subcommittees.  Fine.

If there's a problem that hasn't been solved and needs solving, David, how can you solve it without being a pioneer?

I love conundrums. :)

I grabbed pioneer quickly, and it might not be the best term for the purpose, even though it implies a move to new ground.  The missing meaning, for you at least, was problem abandoned.

It's funny how I don't take suggestions from people who insult me. 

Insulted?  Not intended and regrettable.  Sorry about that.

I'm not insulted, but I was confused. lol

I suspect we have overwhelmed you with reading material. We are sort of staying on topic, mostly, well, a lot of the time anyway. It's not easy to be argumentative activists!

Actually I think this has been an awesome thread with everyone contributing great thoughts in a contentious, emotional space where we did find common ground while dealing with some of the central issues of Occupy and uprisings in general. I wonder if there is any way to export the entire thread? I'd love to be able to keep it.


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