Transparent Paper Trail in 2020, Shine Light on It

We’ve just passed the Winter Solstice, the shortest day in the solar year. Psychologically we’ve touched the bottom of the pool and have a chance to push upward toward light again. This can be a potent time to look at our lives and actions. Shine light on them. What fresh approaches might we adopt? Here’s where I’m at: Transparent: see clearly. Transparent paper trail: voter-verified, trackable. Coherence: the quality of forming a unified whole. Shine the light. Sorting, organizing, tossing, embracing. Let’s get specific in the midst of all these words. What holds passion for you in the coming year?

We are often encouraged to consider how our choices as consumers impact the planet’s well-being. Yet our role as citizens may ultimately play a far stronger part in our long-term health and that of our fellow sentient beings. When we think as citizens, there’s the assumption we have something at stake in the larger community, that we play a role, however modest, in the outcome. As a consumer, it’s just me in front of the can of chili at Natural Grocers. Do I buy it or no? There’s a lot of other ways to exercise our right to choose, as citizens.

Health, climate change, and democracy are intertwined. How possible it is to act for a healthy environment around oneself and one’s community has a lot to do with the government one lives with, as many down-winders can attest.

What’s holding my attention is this. At best, just 31 states in the USA have a transparent paper trail that is voter-verified going into the next national election.  As a citizen, I’d like all of our votes to count. There’s a higher chance that my vote will be tracked accurately here in New Mexico, because it’s one of those 31 states plus the District of Columbia with a transparent paper trail in 2020. Yet if you live in any of 19 other states, this may not be the case.

Recently in traffic a bumper sticker caught my eye. “FIGHT TRUTH DECAY.” I had to smile. Yet trust in some sort of verifiable truth is essential in a democracy. A voter-verified paper trail enables each voter to check their ballot before it is cast. It also ensures that election officials can conduct accurate post-election audits, both routinely and in case of dispute. In the case of elections with voting machines (e.g., the US and much of the planet), there can be programming errors, equipment malfunctions, malicious tampering – whether domestic or foreign. “Voting experts resoundingly agree that…the only way to reliably audit an election is to compare results with a physical tally of paper ballots.

There’s strong support for the creation of a transparent paper trail in 2020. Dozens of bills have been introduced in Congress in the past two years. Yet so far, no transparent paper trail has passed. (Or even a murky one.) What’s holding us up? As the thorough and informative National Conference of State Legislatures site so gently puts it, “Federal voluntary guidelines do not, at this point, address whether certifiable equipment must have an auditable paper record.”

The vast majority of states are interested in at least the appearance of fair elections. What stands in the way? Opposition rests in the interesting idea that conducting a national election is a states rights issue. How the votes are gathered, county by county, should be up to each state, according to this view.

What’s this mean for outcomes in the coming year? Under the current conditions, if one wants to impact the results of a national election, one need only control the outcome of a handful of states without paper trails. Doesn’t sound like democracy to me.

In the US, there are more than 560,000 voting machines, spread across close to 117,000 polling locations.  “45 states are currently using voting equipment that is no longer manufactured.” So if it breaks down, there’s no recourse for repair. Two-thirds of the 31 states who’ve said they need to replace voting machines before the 2020 elections haven’t got the funds to do so. In fact, there’s three key obstacles to a transparent paper trail in 2020: the lack of money to upgrade, local governments stuck in the procurement process and litigation, and …abuse of power on the national level.

One does not have to live in a democracy to create healthier environments. A dictator or a benevolent billionaire could force changes. Yet in a democracy, when we see something needs to change, we have the option to push for this change. If our votes count. If our votes don’t count, are we living in a democracy?

In order to impact the bigger picture and improve the ecosystems we live in, we are called to act as citizens, something more than passive consumers. Personal consumer choices pale in the face of what’s going on. To politely ignore what’s happening is akin to rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. What are we waiting for? A transparent paper trail is an obvious first step in this larger process. If you’re interested in tracking the issue, shows you where given bills are in the legislative process.

A transparent paper trail in 2020 is the light in front of me in this moment. Perhaps your focus is different, broader or narrower, or just plain different. What trail speaks to you? 

BTW: Self care is a core tenet in Ayurveda. It’s essential to support us in showing up for our lives, for whatever we need to do, for whatever feeds our hearts and awareness. It’s still very much on my docket.

What is it you know you need to focus on in this coming year? Trust it.

PS: Photographer Renee Lynn and I created Easy Healing Drinks from the Wisdom of Ayurveda in part to support the environment and counter climate change in our own modest ways. It’s printed with biodegradable inks. We invite you to skip the plastic containers that could end up in the Pacific. Instead fill your own glass Mason jar with a hot tea or soup. It is a consumer opportunity, yet also a chance to act as a citizen of the earth. Check out our 2 for 1 special through Jan. 6. Buy one, get one free, exclusive on our website. May we all work together for the benefit of everyone in 2020.

Image shot by AM off

Amadea Morningstar, MA, RPE, RYT is  expert in Ayurveda and Polarity Therapy health care. She meets you where you are, and is available with respect, bringing over 40 professional years of experience, academic training and hands-on knowledge to her sessions, teaching, and books. Sessions with Amadea include Western nutrition, Ayurvedic nutrition and herbalism, Polarity Therapy bodywork, Marma therapy, Integral yoga, and nature-based approaches.