Election Reform

Code Pink: Voter Bill of Rights
Co-Intelligence: Voters Bill of Rights
Electoral College Notes and quotes
Fair Vote
*Global Exchange: petition for Voters Bill of Rights
MyDem.org dedicated to counting everyone's vote
Votergate film about how Bush stole the 2004 election
*Voter March: Voters' Bill of Rights

"...a handful of state (including Maine) with some form of Clean Elections systems, which offer candidates full public financing. In Arizona the new system has increased competition and diversity among candidates, reduced the money gap between challengers and incumbents, and freed its participants from the all-consuming money chase...

"... a small group of developers, bankers and corporate lobbyists with conservative ties that run all the way up to Bush and Tom DeLay are attacking the state's pioneering system... Their goal: to keep the same corrupt system that has brought us a prescription-drug bill tailored for HMOs and the pharmaceutical and insurance companies; the weakening of environmental rules to pay back oil and gas interests; and huge tax breaks handed over to corporations and wealthy individuals... Democratic Governor Janet Napolitano and Republican Senator John McCain, have endorsed the Keep It Clean campaign, along with nearly sixty groups, including the League of Women Voters, the AARP and the fire-fighters union" ("The Big Money Election." The Nation, June 14, 2004: 3).

"What issues are key? We'd start with the brazen voter suppression tactics the GOP openly employed this election. We should fight back fiercely against these immoral and un-American Tactics, and "brand" the Republicans as the party that tries hard to keep African-Americans and Latinos from exercising their right to vote" (Steve Cobble & Joe Velasquez. "It has Frequently been Pointed Out." The Nation, Dec. 20, 2004: 23).

"et's jointly promote a Voters' Bill of Rights that includes standardized voting machines with paper trails, nonpartisan administration of election, instant-runoff voting, a national election day holiday, an end to felon disenfranchisement, and other changes outlined in our ten-point Voters' Bill of Rights (see Global Exchange and America Coming Together).

"Let's get millions of Americans to sign on to the Voters' Bill of Rights; let's get city, county and state legislators on board. And once we have a groundswell of support, then we demand that Congress enact legislation enshrining these rights. When we have an electoral system that's free, fair and trustworthy, it will be much easier to get progessives elected" (Medea Benjamin. "Many of Us in the Green Party." The Nation, Dec. 20, 2004: 25).

"The first problem is unequal protection: America has no uniform standard for registering voters, resolving challenges to those registrations, designing ballots, guaranteeing access to the polls, creating a paper trail when votes are cast, counting ballots and, in the case of a close election, recounting them. Instead, there is a collection of fifty-one different systems with often radically different rules. "It's a tragedy in many ways that the standard for accountability and integrity and objectivity is better in many Third World countries than in ours," says former President Jimmy Carter...

"The first major problem in effect guarantees the second: A system with inconsistencies rooted in the theory of states' rights, which made possible the original sin of slavery and the secondary sin of segregation, lends itself uniquely and unquestionably to contemporary manifestations of Jim Crow politics" ("Fix the Electoral System." The Nation, Nov. 15, 2004: 3).

"...these commons--in which we all make tax investments... have come to include our police and fire services; our military and defense; our roads and skyways; our air, waters and national parks; and the safety of our food and drugs.

"But the most important of all the commons... is our government itself. It's owned by us, run by us (through our elected representatives), answerable to us, and most directly responsible for stewardship of our commons.

"And the common through which we regulate the commons of our government is our vote...

"...Sen. Chuck Hagel... in Nebraska... the head of the voting machine company (now ES&S)... Hagel's Senate victory against an incumbent Democratic governor was the major Republican upset in the November election... Hagel won virtually every demographic group, including many largely black communities that had never before voted Republican. Hagel was the first Republican in 24 years to win a Senate seat in Nebraska, nearly all on unauditable machines he had just sold the state. And in all probability, Hagel will run for president in 2008"

"Why are we allowing corporations to exclusively handle our vote, in a secret and totally invisible way? Particularly a private corporation founded, in one case, by a family that believes the Bible should replace the Constitution; in another case run by one of Ohio's top Republicans; and in another case partly owned by Saudi investors?

"When I lived in Germany, they took the vote the same way most of the world does -- people fill in hand-marked ballots, which are hand-counted by civil servants...

"We could have saved billions that have instead been handed over to ES&S, Diebold, and other private corporations.

"Or, if we must have machines, let's have them owned by local governments, maintained and programmed by civil servants answerable to We The People, using open-source code and disconnected from modems, that produce a voter-verified printed ballot, with all results published on a precinct-by-precinct basis" (Thom Hartmann. "The Ultimate Felony Against Democracy." Progressive Populist, Dec. 1, 2004: 10).

"Portland, Oregon, became the first city in the country to approve full public financing of elections. Connecticut passed the strongest campaign finance reform bill in the United States, banning contributions from lobbyists and state contractors. In addition, the legislation created a publicly funded election system encompassing statewide races, including House and Senate seats" ("A Year of Sweet Victories." The Nation, Jan. 2, 2006: 10).

"Voters are not going to get very excited about a reform agenda that lacks meaningful campaign finance reforms, including voluntary public financing for federal candidates who agree to raise no private money and abide by spending limits.

"Public financing is essential, as it signals a recognition that Congress has been corrupted not by Abramoff but by the steady flow of corporate campaign contributions that provide lobbyists with the muscle to influence members of both partiees to such an extent that those who are supposed to be regulated are writing the rules--literally. That, and not the details of Abramoff's dirty dealing, is what Americans think of when they hear the term "culture of corruption." And only by promising to change that culture, with ethics and campaign finance reforms designed to dramatically reduce the ability of corporate interests to call the tune in Washington, will Democrats get to hearing from the great mass of Americans who believe that both parties are compromised" ("Editorials." The Nation, Jan. 30, 2006: 3).

"One touch-screen machine received good coverage, though, when The New York Times reported that it produced about 4,000 votes for Bush in a suburban Columbus precinct with just 800 registered voters...

"...a California nonprofits, examine[d] the performance of Diebold's new touch-screen printers during voting. They monitored 467 of the 5,407 touch-screen machines used in the primary. About 10 percent of vote printouts were "either destroyed, blank, illegible, missing, taped together, or otherwise compromised," the rport said. They found that 74 percent of the polling places had at least one discrepancy between a machine's printout and the electronic memory card. Voters in Franklin County witnessed printer errors and other computer malfunctions, and report seeing their screens switch votes from one candidate to another.

"Pennsylvania, one of fifteen states that don't have paper trail laws, also has problems. A paperless Unilect Patriot system failed to count 10,000 votes in three counties during the 2004 Presidential election. Programming errors on the Danaher Corporation's ELECTronic 1242 touch-screen machines resulted in the disappearance of votes in four precincts in Berks County last year... Voter Action, a nonprofit that opposes the use of touch-screen machines.

"Voter advocacy groups in other touch-screen states have been assembling glitch lists, but many election officials don't have a clue about the extent of the problems.

""The states and counties aren't tracking this," said Holly Jacobson, co-founder of Voter Action...

"Only a couple of states have avoided the touch-screen morass. New Hampshire, thanks to a 1994 law still on the books, permits voting only on paper ballots. Vermont passed a similar law in 2004.

"Several states have pulled the plug on touch-screen voting, or are in the process of doing so... Minnesota... New Mexico... Michigan...

""It's not a party issue, it's people wanting their democracy back issue"...

"...Diebold voting machine gives Gore a negative 16,000 votes in a precinct with 585 registered voters" (Kirk Nielsen. "Worse than Hanging Chads." The Progressive, Nov. 2006: 26-29).

Colby Glass, MLIS