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Election Protection and the Future of Our Democracy

€œ Was the 2004 Election Stolen?€ by Steve Freeman and Joel Bleifuss is one of the best books I've read on election fraud. We're offering it at $17.95, and every sale benefits PDA. It€™s reviewed on our site by one of Amazon.com€™s best book critics -- OK, he's my husband -- who, after years of hearing €œElection Protection!€ at the dinner table, decided to digest the facts for himself. He says this book made it easy. Read the full review here.

Purchase the book here.

Election Protection became PDA€™s second founding issue after the 2004 election. Our founding issue was to end the war in Iraq. But what was made clear in Ohio and elsewhere in 2004, and clearer with every subsequent election, is that we can€™t end the war without restoring our democracy.

In November, we have to vote. In droves.  And we must protect our vote. Watchdog your local process. Join local activists.  Resources are available at
http://www.votetrustusa.org/
,
http://www.voteraction.org/, and
http://auditaz.blogspot.com/


Sign up for PDA€™s Election Integrity Working Group and join our conference calls by emailing election@pdamerica.org. Learn your federal, state and local laws on election processes and learn your voting system (www.votetrustusa.org has a map and a list). Call your registrar and check your registration.  Know lawyers and have their numbers ready in case you see anyone break election law. The DNC has an election-day number for problems: 1-888-DEMVOTE.  But protecting the vote means being pro-active before Election Day. And PDA has been.

In June, Board Member Greg Moore, who is Director of the DNC Voting Rights Institute, held an Election Protection panel for the DNC. The party began to address and educate itself about e-voting technology and database fraud capacity. Later that month the DNC joined the call for a hand-count in the Busby-Bilbray race in California€™s 50th Congressional District. Brian Bilbray (R) had been declared the winner after unofficial results were tallied from Diebold opti-scanners that had been sent home with poll workers before the election.  These €œsleepovers€ violated the chain of custody regulations instituted after Harri Hursti publicly proved that such machines could be hacked to shift votes with only two minutes unsupervised access. California€™s Secretary of State was silent about the violations.  San Diego activists were so upset that they met Howard Dean€™s speech at Demfest with cries of €œCount the vote!€ €“ and when our DNC Chair departed from his prepared remarks to take up their cry, he got a standing ovation.

The GOP House leadership swore in Bilbray while votes remained uncounted €“ 16 days before the election was even certified.  Activists filed suit for the hand-count. The judge dismissed it after receiving a friendly letter from a House Administration Committee lawyer. The Committee had been chaired by Rep. Bob Ney prior to his resignation and guilty plea to fraud. The letter reiterated GOP lawyers€™ argument that Article 1, Section 5 of the Constitution gives the House jurisdiction over qualifications and elections of its members.

Federal officials interrupt the local vote-counting process to declare a winner and trump the voters. Sound familiar?  Another piece of history we don€™t want repeated in November; PDA is asking all candidates not to concede until every vote is counted.

And we want them counted as cast.  At the DNC meeting in August, PDA Election Integrity activists participated in a no-holds-barred roundtable that presented state party chairs with the problems of their states€™ new federally mandated voting systems, and some solutions. It took place in the hotel outside which, in 1968, PDA Board Member Tom Hayden was tear-gassed trying to stop another war.

The Help America Vote Act is to elections what the Clear Skies Initiative is to the environment and the No Child Left Behind law is to education.  House co-author Rep. Bob Ney, then a GOP favorite, now a convicted felon, took Rep. John Conyers€™ Florida 2000 election reform suggestions and proceeded to shut Conyers€™ Judiciary Committee staff out of meetings. Ney didn€™t feel it was €œappropriate€ for them to attend (letter from Ney to Conyers, August 14, 2002). Somehow, the appropriations and standards that emerged from Ney€™s committee and became HAVA benefited a handful of GOP-friendly companies, some of whom did business making gambling equipment. They were ready to supply American states with disabled-access machines and other requirements mandated by HAVA before 2006, under threat of suit by the Department of Justice.

As we approach another national election this November, one-third of states still don€™t have state laws mandating voter-verified paper records. Their elections are not auditable except inside the trade-secret electronic documents. Such states have no way to enfranchise voters when machines break down -- the voting just stops.

That€™s why we support emergency legislation to require paper ballots be on hand for when machines fail. You can read it at  http://www.bradblog.com/?p=3502.  Then write your senators and representative to urge them to support it.  The bill is simple. Every polling place must have paper ballots available so balky machines can€™t prevent voters from voting. Every polling place already has a handful of paper provisional ballots. The emergency ballots would be counted as regular ballots for voters who are duly registered. 

It€™s a hail mary, with five legislative days to go. But in the Senate, Democrats can still initiate legislation. And if the Terry Schiavo bill could be passed on an emergency basis for one person legislators wanted to protect, surely those same legislators can pass an emergency bill to protect all of us. 

Our democracy is a great nonviolent system when it€™s working. But it€™s in need of repair. Keep at it.

 
Peace,
Mimi Kennedy
Chair, PDA

P.S. Remember to buy this book!