Equal protection clause protects gays

The Supreme Court upheld the Colorado Courts’ ruling that the “equal protection clause” of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution means that all groups can lobby for laws favorable to them, and that Colorado’s Amendment Two (passed by citizen initiative) unfairly prohibits laws favorable to gays.

Thus the Constitution protects minorities from the “Tyranny of the majority”, whether a majority of citizens or representatives. Amendment Two had been nullified by court injunction since soon after it passed.

Text of Supreme Court ruling

Perspective of years: A gay leader is grateful for the attention Amendment 2 focused on gays and their treatment by society

Government Pork and Logrolling

Pork, or pork-barrel legislation, is wasteful spending made famous by the Pentagon with their $700 toilet seats, $600 hammers, etc. As long as taxpayers don’t find out, politicians in this way cultivate support from the beneficiaries of this generosity.

Logrolling is when 2 representatives or parties trade votes for each other’s pork.

C. Malte Lewan’s “candidate thesis” [90K] about direct democracy in Germany (and Europe in general) makes the point that in areas with more direct democracy, government waste is less, and the economy is healthier.


In 1992 we passed a petition to put to the voters the question: “Shall the Boulder City Charter be amended to require that voters be allowed to vote by telephone in all municipal elections…?”

In Boulder municipal elections are held on odd-numbered years, and for these elections, initiative petitions are required to have the valid signatures of 5% of the registered voters. Because we passed our petition during ’92, city code required 10% of registered voters. We obtained about 9%.

In 1993 the City Council put us on the ballot, technically as their own referendum, rather than force us to pass a new 5% petition.

We lost, 59-41%, in a campaign characterized by serious misrepresentation of technical issues by the City Attorney’s Office (later corrected), the refusal to consider information from the 1974 Televote trials in an evaluation of the costs of phone voting by the City Manager’s Office, and misrepresentation of the procedural differences between initiative and legislative governance by the Deputy Mayor.

We were amateurs then, and spent only about $5000 on our campaign, less than any of the successful Council candidates but one. Here are the major mistakes we made:

  1. Not stressing the increased security of phone voting. We thought we had educated the public about this sufficiently in preceding years, but many people didn’t pay attention until the end of the campaign, and voted their fe ars, not their hopes.
  2. Not getting students to register and vote sufficiently. Precincts with large numbers of University of Colorado students did favor our issue, but, typical of students, they did not vote in large numbers. Now with the national “Motor-voter” law, registering by mail will make this problem easier to solve. If we had managed to get on the ballot in ’92, the increased voting for a presidential election might have made the difference for us.
  3. Not using Dr. Campbell and his experience with Televote to full advantage. Dr. Campbell had just moved to Boulder and was still working in Virginia a good deal, so he hadn’t much time to campaign for us.
  4. Not raising enough funds and advertising enough. We also neglected to send our letters to the editors to the smaller town newspaper. There were other opportunities for free publicity we could have exploited better.


Information is lighter and travels better than people, cars, voting machines, ballot boxes, ballots, judges, ledgers, and the card-counters and computers that now count most of our votes. The phone system that carries information is free for local calls.

Every years millions of trees become ballots to be counted and tossed or recycled. Millions of gallons of gas are burnt to get to the polls.

Phone voting is as efficient as the Internet and World Wide Web, but lets you vote from any phone in the world- in case you don’t have your laptop, modem and local access.


No more driving, parking and waiting in line. Vote from any phone in the world: It could easily be made a free call using an 800 number.

Currently, people don’t know how long voting will take them: they might only wait minutes, or they could wait 2 hours in line, as happened in many New Mexican precincts in November, 1992. Even here in well-funded Boulder, the then-Executive Director of the Chamber of Commerce, Dennis Nock timed his 1992 wait at 51 minutes, and saw people give up and leave. Some Colorado counties ran out of ballots.

People will be mailed a sample ballot to prepare so that when they get on the phone, they just key in all their prepared votes at once. No need to wait for the ballot to be read to them over the phone. Sample ballots were used in both the 1974 National Science Foundation-funded Televote trials and the State of New Mexico’s 1992 Mock Election, conducted by telephone.


by Evan Ravitz, director, Voting by Phone Foundation

First, it must be understood that presently, most votes in the U.S. are counted by computers using programs which are proprietary secrets, so that none of us, including election officials, can verify that the programs do what they should and nothing else. Testing of the program is of course allowed, but there are many ways these secret programs could be devised to test out perfectly, but cheat in the actual votecounting. Our proposal for confirming everyone’s vote makes such cheating much more difficult. See below. The programs (“source code”) should also be publicly owned and open to inspection by anyone.

This is not a complete technical discussion of phone voting, but it’s easy to understand and use if you use ATM machines, which have buttons just like a phone. Instead of the ATM card you punch in a Personal Identification Number (PIN). We suggest giving you three tries to enter the right numbers, so the likelihood of “hackers” guessing your PIN is three in about 100,000. If they keep trying with computers, to tie up the lines if nothing else, we can shut them out.

There is more to it, obviously, but consider that people have been using much less sophisticated banking by phone and shopping by phone systems for decades. They’re not perfect, (they’re run and used by people, after all) but they work. Ours will be better:

Here’s the bottom line about security: everyone who votes by phone can be given the order in which they voted (“You were the 5790th to vote”) and the complete results of the election can be published in order of those numbers, like running races are, in a few pages of newsprint. Everyone gets their vote confirmed, but only you know which is yours. Further, these results can be published on computer diskette or the Internet so that anyone with access to a personal computer can check to see that the votes add up to the announced totals. No other voting system can offer this protection!

Worried that people will claim incorrect confirmations to try to disrupt elections? Easy. Have a group of respected nonpartisan citizens whose job is to publicly agree that their votes were published correctly. If they and the vast majority agree, disrupters will be ignored.

The present system not only cannot confirm that each vote was counted correctly, but in Colorado no ID is required and signatures are only compared if someone challenges a voter. Nobody has been challenged for impersonation in Boulder for at least 20 years! (Source: Boulder County Elections Office Manager Nancy Wurl) The system used to work because the election judges knew everyone in their precinct. Now in Boulder they often don’t even preside in their own precincts!

In 1988 CBS newswoman Barbara Nevins registered under 5 false names around New York City, and was subsequently admitted to vote 5 times. (Source: New York Times 4/23/88)

This May (1995) Denver’s KUSA reporter Paula Woodwood easily registered a dog, a cat, “Bill Clinton”, a dead person, and 11 other ineligibles. The point is: There are no perfect voting systems. They are all run by people. But phone voting is more secure than any present system.

If (rarely) someone did steal another’s ID numbers, and voted your vote before you did, the computer wouldn’t let you vote “again” and you would have to show an election official some ID and they would let you vote individually, just as would now happen if someone impersonated you before you got to the polls.


Here’s the bottom line about privacy: Now, every absentee ballot is returned to the government in an envelope with the voter’s name and signature! We can make it much harder for elections officials to peek at your vote than that, but, as now, you must trust them to some extent. Besides, most people are proud of how they vote and tell everyone. A government that can read your license plate from outer space can also laser fingerprint your ballot or watch you vote with a camera in a crack above the booth, if it cares what you think.

There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that electronic voting would be as safe as electronic banking and at least as safe as the voting system we now use.” – Dr. Joseph Pelton, Director of Interdisciplinary Telecommunications, University of Colorado.

I don’t see any problem with trying it.” – Roy Saltman, National Institute for Science and Technology’s election systems expert.


Internet voting will be fine for those who use the net. The systems we are aware of:

Boulder’s own Votelink

Marilyn Davis’ eVote

Lorrie Faith Cranor’s Sensus

Voting by phone has been ready for 21 years for the other 150 million or so registered US voters. And, if you’re off traveling at election time and don’t have your laptop, modem, and access, you can pick up any phone in the world and vote.

Not having a graphical interface with the phone is no problem. A paper “ballot worksheet”, mailed to voters or published in the news, and a pencil help you prepare your votes so they can be quickly entered by phone. This was successfully demonstrated both in the 1974 Televote trials and in the State of New Mexico’s 1992 Mock Election, successfully conducted by telephone.

No More Secondhand God

Here’s some of what Buckminster Fuller wrote in his book NO MORE SECONDHAND GOD, pages 10-17, in 1940:

“In the great quasi “democracies,” so far as the general scheming of things is concerned the individual no longer exists…as citizen man is expressed only as a party machine in the “body” politic, and his government expresses a mean low average statistic “man.” Any social action, if at all, is weeks, months, and years laggard to the thinking frontier of the individual…”

“Many people believe Democracy obsolete. They are wrong… I will explain. That is, I will if it’s Democracy you really wish to save, and not some trick you have been getting away with behind its kindly broad young back…”

“Democracy has potential within it the satisfaction of every individual’s need. But Democracy must be structurally modernized, must be mechanically implemented, to give it a one-individual-to-another speed and spontaneity of reaction commensurate with the speed and scope of broadcast news…”

“Devise a mechanical means for nation-wide voting daily and secretly by each adult citizen of Uncle Sam’s family: Then – I assure you- will Democracy “be saved,” indeed exist, for the first time in history…”

“Electrified voting…promises a household efficiency superior to any government of record because it incorporates not only the speed of decision which is the greatest strength of the dictator, but additional advantages which can never be his.”

“Additional advantages of electrified voting first coming to mind:

  1. Provides an instantaneous contour map of the workable frontier of the people’s wisdom, for purposes of legislation, administration, future exploration, and debate, so that neither over nor under estimate may occur, of their will and ability.
  2. Certifies spontaneous popular co-operation in the carrying out of each decision.
  3. No foreign power in the world can stand up against the unified might thus invoked through the thrilling mystical awareness of multimillions of individuals that they personally have taken responsibility for the course…
  4. It cuts right across all red-tape…
  5. As direct evolution it cancels the possibility of revolution…”

“BUT if direct Democracy is not tried now, future generations will again champion it, and there will be world civil wars until it receives adequate trial.”

Voters in Mexico

The Mayan Indian rebels in Chiapas Mexico have conducted all their affairs by “la consulta” or vote of the people. Juan Ojeda, 25-yr assistant to the Nobel-nominated Bishop Ruiz, visited Denver in July. He told us that some 500,000 participate regularly in the consultas, deciding local affairs and each step of the negotiations with the government. He says that everyone including children participate! Now the idea is spreading:

(from La Jornada, april 16, 1996)

Political Parties Agree on Electoral Reforms

After four and a half months of negotiations, political parties agreed on a “first stage” of electoral reform on April 15. The Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), the Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) and the Workers Party (PT) announced that they had reached agreement on 79 reforms, which will entail 28 constitutional amendments. Eleven of the reforms refer to the Federal District’s electoral process.

The most important reforms include: the re-composition of the Federal Electoral Institute, without representatives from the Executive or Legislative branches; the principle of equity in campaign financing and access to electronic media; barring anonymous campaign or party contributions; legally establishing the use of referendums as a means of popular consultation; and a law that would allow citizens the opportunity to propose laws themselves. [Initiatives]

The parties will request a special session of Congress to address the reform issues. The National Action Party (PAN) withdrew from the negotiations several weeks ago, and thus did not participate in the announcement.

Your Ontario, Your Choice

The Premier (like a Governor) of Ontario, Mike Harris, in August 1996 issued his paper “Your Ontario, Your Choice”, which he describes as “the first step in an extensive public dialogue on the best way to incorporate the referendum -direct democracy- into our decision-making process.” Government by the People is the most prominently referenced organization in the paper. There are 4 links to our site. We’re a footnote (number 32) in Canadian history!