We had a very rousing press conference yesterday in Austin, Texas. We had approximately 150-200 people at the State Capitol pack a room spilling out into the hallway. We had planned being there for 30 minutes. So many questions were asked by the press, we were there for 2 hours! A very emotional, boisterous, enthusiastic crowd attended. Sounds like a roomful of Texans to me....
Dr. Dan Wallach patiently answered reporters' technical questions as to why electronic voting systems without a paper ballot are not safe and further explained in detail what it would take to have safe elections. He also discussed the fact that current systems do not provide safe nor accurate ways to perform meaningful accurate re-counts or audits that correlate the actual voters intent.
Bev Harris described actions being posed by vendors to eliminate voter sign-in sheets at the polls with smart cards and how disastrous this would be, because the sign-in sheets are a critical part of the election auditing process. She also discussed the current administation's constant announcements and "mullings" about the need for a strategy to postpone elections in the "event" of a terrorist attack. All citizens, she said, need to loudly and publicly oppose this idea. "Plan B", as she called it, is a pencil, piece of paper, with some people taking a few days off so we can get the ballots hand-counted by bi-partisan teams of citizens and election judges.
There was also discussion from many attendees and speakers of the need for citizen teams to closely monitor and document all upcoming primary elections, or any election taking place on electronic voting equipment up until and including November. Any abnormalities need to be brought to the attention of the press, with injunctions filed, open records requests made, exit polls performed, and tallies confirmed on the number of people who voted to verify that the total matches the records of that precinct tabulated by the computers. Some of these documents can be obtained in open records requests.
There was also discussion of the many routine actions citizen groups can do. Use the Open Records request to watchdog all activities. For example, ask to see the "zero-balance sheet" ( election judges are supposed to print a sheet showing the computer counter started off at zero before an election started) from every precinct showing the routine protocols that are supposed to be performed. See if you can catch these electronic abnormalities and glitches. THEY ARE VERY COMMON. Usually, no one is there to monitor and report them. Learn your local statutes and watchdog election officials on the simple routine stuff. Many times you will catch them omitting some of their lawful duties.
This gives you a window to file formal, possibly criminal, legal, local and state actions BEFORE the 11/04 elections. When you catch these abnormalities that quite possibly altered the election results, you can expect that some of the candidates and proponents of certain issues up for a vote might be outraged and should be delighted to assist you. Always alert the press as you do this. NOW IS THE TIME TO ACT, and act we must!
Although the press was in attendance, they so far did a fairly mediocre job of reporting the event and it's message. One TV station showed the representative from Hart InterCivic saying that people falsely relate paper ballots to being more secure when in fact just the opposite is true, and that their system is far safer and more accurate than ballots.. ..Our Secretary of State in Texas said "the concerns raised Tuesday were meant to create uncertainty and paranoia".
It is early and we expect to see more coverage and magazine articles generated by the day. We are still planning on delivering the petitions to the SOS with a separate press announcement within the next week, since he was out of town yesterday.
As you can see it was a day of learning for all of us.
Thanks to everyone who worked on this. We must all stay committed to taking actions that educate the public and force elected officials to use paper ballots to make sure we have a safe fully accountable election by 11/2/04!!
That's Ben, with the vote-eating computer costume, and TrueVoteMD's Linda Schade at the rally in Annapolis, Maryland.
Tuesday, July 13th, 2004
TrueMajority led a coalition of seven other groups to stage simultaneous media events in 19 states around The Computer Ate My Vote campaign.
Advocates of verifiable balloting delivered about 350,000 petition signatures to state election officials, asking that they offer paper ballots
this November to ensure that votes actually get counted and that recounts
in close elections are possible.
Over 200 Colorado voting activists took to the steps of the state capitol in Denver Tuesday.
The national coalition included TrueMajority, MoveOn, Democracy for America, Common Cause, Working Assets, Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility, the Electronic Frontier Foundation and VerifiedVoting.org, and state-based groups across the country.
In addition to the 19 state events, we organized a media conference call so that national journalists could hear from Howard Dean, Calif. Secretary of State Kevin Shelley, Representative Rush Holt, Stanford computer professor David Dill of VerifiedVoting.org and Ben Cohen.
The media coverage was significant: 17 million impressions and counting from the likes of the New York Times, USA Today, Washington Post, NPR, Associated Press (three separate articles) and dozens of newspapers, TV and radio stations. Click here to see the media coverage.
What our coalition representing over 3 million Americans asked for is simple: when we go to the polls on November 2, we want to make sure that our votes count. We asked our election officials to offer paper ballots so voters can know that the ballot we cast is verified by the voter who cast it, not a piece of software. We want elections decided by citizens, not computer errors.
Bev Harris, author of the landmark book Black Box Voting, addresses a rowdy crowd of Texans on Tuesday. Questions from reporters drew out the event for two hours.
People like youconcerned, informed and involvedare the best America has to offer. We're proud of the opportunity to stand with you.
Ben, Duane, Mark, Matt, Kendra, Jason, Aaron and Katherine TrueMajority's
At the San Diego County building, members of SAVE-Democracy, Clean Government, Democracy for America and others were interviewed by at least four camera crews, focusing on the need for a voter-verified paper ballot nationwide.
Crowd estimates were up to 250 at the rally, which was attended by state officeholders and candidates in addition to longtime voting activists from Boulder and Denver. Things got exciting when about 50 of those folks crossed the street to deliver their 13,411 petitions to Secretary of State Donetta Davidson's office. They were intercepted by building security and then city police. They asked to see the secretary or a representative, only to be provided with an unintentional bit of comic relief when the receptionist claimed, "They're all out to lunch."
Despite a summer rain shower, a crowd of about 30 voting activists, peace and justice folks and good government types gathered under the south portico of the Connecticut State Capitol to call for voter-verified paper ballots
A total of eight rallies were held in the "ground zero" state for election problems, including one in Tallahassee where 27,000 signatures were delivered to Secretary of State Glenda Hood's office. Coverage appeared in multiple state papers.
About 25 people gathered in 100-degree heat outside the statehouse in Frankfort. The local NBC television crew filmed the activists as they marched through the statehouse and delivered their petitions to the Secretary of the Commonwealth's office.
The rally in Annapolis, staged by TrueVoteMD, was attended by more than 100 citizens, including state senators and delegates of both parties as well as TrueMajority president Ben Cohen. Governor Robert Ehrlich would not accept our stack of petitions, citing "security concerns," but did allow a delegation to speak to Lieutenant Governor Michael Steele. "It was really the best America has to offer," Ben reported. "Average citizens who are concerned about our democracy, taking time out of their lives to help make sure our elections are fair."
A delegation of five activists delivered petitions to the Secretary of the Commonwealth, with coverage by Massachusetts newspapers.
Over a hundred activists at the statehouse in Trenton rallied with a representative from the office of Congressman Rush Holt, author of federal legislation to mandate voter-verified paper ballots nationwide. A staffer for New Jersey Governor James McGreevey accepted a stack of more than 20,000 petitions.
State Representative Mark Cohen and speakers from Common Cause, Physicians for Social Responsibility, Citizens for Civil Justice, Congressman Rush Holt's office and Business Leaders for Sensible Priorities addressed a crowd of about 120. Public radio powerhouse WHYY carried the rally as the lead on its 5:30 p.m. drive-time news.
After the press conference held by the South Carolina Progressive Network, activists met with the South Carolina attorney general, from whom they are seeking a state ruling that the Help America Vote Act itself requires a paper trail.
Two dozen activists generated a strong media turnout in this state, where folks are working to prevent a pending purchase of electronic voting machines.
Over 100 people showed up to hear from two state legislators and a computer scientist. The group also collected over 500 signatures on our petition in the past five days, urging their congresspeople to cosponsor HR 2239 (which requires paper ballots nationwide).
A crowd of 75 activists rallied across the street from the Snohomish County office building. Snohomish County Auditor Bob Terwilliger (the county's top elections official) dropped in on the rally to debate the issue before the activists delivered their petitions to his office. Ironically, the auditor's office provided the activists with a paper receipt for the delivery.