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VOTING AND DEMOCRACY: THE CHALLENGES AHEAD
MoveOn Bulletin
Tuesday, July 29th, 2003
Co-Editors: Tai Moses and Don Hazen, AlterNet

Subscribe online at:
http://www.moveon.org/moveonbulletin/

CONTENTS:
1. Joan Blades and Wes Boyd: We Need Modern and Secure Voting Systems
2. Don Hazen: A Voting and Democracy Primer
3. Miles Rapoport: Beyond Voting Machines
4. John Schwartz: Computer Voting is Open to Easy Fraud, Experts Say
5. Thom Hartmann: The Theft of Your Vote is Just a Chip Away
6. Kim Alexander: The Voting Rights Struggle of Our Time
7. LCCR: Advocates' Guide to the Help America Vote Act
8. Greg Palast, Martin Luther King III: Jim Crow Revived in Cyberspace
9. John Moyers, Elizabeth Ready: Ballots can Keep Bullets from Flying
10. About the Bulletin

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WE NEED MODERN AND SECURE VOTING SYSTEMS
by Joan Blades and Wes Boyd

In the wake of the 2000 election debacle, Congress passed the Help America Vote Act (HAVA), which was intended to ensure that all Americans have an opportunity to vote and have their vote counted.

What's happened since HAVA was passed? When will old voting machines be retired? Can we trust the new touch screen voting systems, which promise better accessibility and reduced voter error?

In this bulletin, we present a series of articles that dig into these issues. Voting reform is now largely in the hands of the states, so we also encourage you to contact your local Secretary of State and check into the status of HAVA implementation in your state. The states need to hear the concerns of voters.

For us, the bottom line is that we must push for modernized voting systems, because we know that the bad old days of ballot manipulation and voter intimidation must be put behind us. But, at the same time, security concerns about touch screen voting are real and must be taken much more seriously by the states and counties as they work to implement HAVA.

AFTER REVIEWING THE ARTICLES BELOW, CONTACT YOUR SECRETARY OF STATE

You can find contact information for your state election officer at:

http://www.nass.org/electioninfo/state_contacts.htm

All the states are working to implement HAVA, and though they are lobbied every day by voting machine manufacturers, they almost never hear from the general public. Make your call today.

If you wish to weigh in on the Federal legislation proposed to require a voter verifiable audit trail you can contact your Representative in Congress. Congressman Rush Holt is seeking cosponsors for HR 2239, which calls for a voter verifiable audit trail. The bill can be found at:

http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?c108:H.R.2239:

The main switchboard for the House of Representatives is

House Switchboard: 202-224-3121

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A VOTING AND DEMOCRACY PRIMER
Don Hazen, AlterNet
Election 2000 introduced a host of new voting issues for Americans to worry about, from flaws in electronic voting machines to voter roll purges. Now, with voting reform opportunities imminent, this overview will give you an introduction to the issues at hand and highlight the articles to follow.
http://www.alternet.org/story.html?StoryID=16472

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BEYOND VOTING MACHINES: HAVA AND REAL ELECTION REFORM
Miles Rapoport, AlterNet
The details of the Florida 2000 election proved, to Americans of all political persuasions, that our election laws are broken. Yet the debacle also created an opening for voting reform that we have not seen for decades. Today we have a real and concrete chance to shape the way America votes. Effective organizing over the next several months will create genuine new opportunities to expand the vote -- but there is no time to waste.
http://www.alternet.org/story.html?StoryID=16490

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COMPUTER VOTING IS OPEN TO EASY FRAUD, EXPERTS SAY
John Schwartz, New York Times
A team of computer security researchers say the software in electronic voting machines contains serious flaws that would allow voters to cast extra votes and permit poll workers to alter ballots. Voting machine companies, however, insist their code is proprietary and have refused to submit the software to public review. This might just be the tip of the iceberg when it comes to problems with computerized voting systems.
http://www.nytimes.com/2003/07/24/technology/24VOTE.html

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THE THEFT OF YOUR VOTE IS JUST A CHIP AWAY
Thom Hartmann, AlterNet
You'd think in an open democracy that the government rather than a handful of corporations would program, repair and control the voting machines. You'd think the computers that handle our ballots would be open and their software and programming available for public scrutiny. You'd think there would be a paper trail of the actual hand-cast vote, which could be audited if there was evidence of voting fraud or if exit polls disagreed with computerized vote counts. You'd be wrong.
http://www.alternet.org/story.html?StoryID=16474

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THE VOTING RIGHTS STRUGGLE OF OUR TIME
Kim Alexander, AlterNet
The biggest problem with computerized voting systems is that they are not transparent. Some who think we don't need a paper trail tend to portray those of us who insist we do as paranoid conspiracy theorists. But any reasonable person who takes a moment to think about it quickly understands why it's not a good idea to trust 100 percent computerized, paperless voting systems run on secret software.
http://www.alternet.org/story.html?StoryID=16476

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ADVOCATES' GUIDE TO THE HELP AMERICA VOTE ACT
Leadership Conference on Civil Rights
The Help America Vote Act of 2002 impacts every part of the voting process, from voting machines to provisional ballots, from voter registration to poll worker training. Here are some hands-on suggestions to ensure that HAVA will be properly implemented by election officials, legislators and advocates in each state.
http://www.alternet.org/story.html?StoryID=16493

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JIM CROW REVIVED IN CYBERSPACE
Greg Palast and Martin Luther King III, GregPalast.com
While the media chased butterfly ballots and hanging chads after the 2000 election, a more sinister and devastating attack on voting rights went almost undetected: the computerized purges of legal voters from the registries. The overwhelming majority were innocent of any crime -- and just over half were black or Hispanic.
http://www.alternet.org/story.html?StoryID=15890

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BALLOTS CAN KEEP BULLETS FROM FLYING
John Moyers and Elizabeth Ready, TomPaine.com
A register-for-peace drive and a massive get-out-the-vote effort aimed at peace-minded citizens could bring a groundswell of new voters to the polls in 2004. Find out what several progressive groups are doing to educate, activate and involve everyday Americans in the electoral process.
http://www.tompaine.com/feature2.cfm/ID/7605

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