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Let's unite to prevent voter fraud in 2004!
by R. J. Crane, editor
Topplebush.com
October 27, 2003
[please also read the Newsweek piece we posted on our website]

Touchscreen Voting Machine Awareness

Topplebush.com has been diligent in informing our viewers about the many potential landmines associated with touchscreen voting machines manufactured by Diebold, Sequoia, and Election Systems and Software (ES&S) with their right wing ties. So we won't go into these issues in detail here and hope that if you want to understand more about this issue, you will read some of the excellent articles we have posted on this topic in our Sounding Off section and will take time to download and read for free the book, Black Box Voting, Ballot Tampering in the 21st Century by Bev Harris.

Our Mission:

The purpose of this column is to attempt to unite many large progressive websites concerned with this issue to do something about it before the 2004 election. It would be a real tragedy if Bush won again without actually winning or getting a plurality of the votes. But it could happen if even more states buy touchscreen voting machines that don't leave a verifiable paper trail.

So what can be done?

There are a number of ways to defeat the "potential for voter fraud" because of these voting machines. We will propose several that might be undertaken below:

1. Organize mass petition drives that get viewers involved in emailing their Secretary of State's office to prevent them or protest against them buying any touchscreen voting machines where the software is proprietary and/or there is no printout for the voter to verify that the machine recorded his/her vote correctly. If a printer is added to the voting machine, not only can the voter check to see that the machine voted as he/she intended but the printout could also be stored in a locked ballot box if a recount is needed to verify the machine totals. Just because you can get a computerized voting machine to spit out a printout of how the voter intended to vote, doesn't mean the print out will match the machine's totals! Having the printout stored in a locked ballot box would make it unlikely anyone would tamper with the voting machine software to skew results toward certain candidates.

2. Organize widespread and extensive exit polling in precincts where touchscreen voting machines are being used without either paper records and/or that have proprietary software. It was no coincidence that exit polling numbers were way off in Florida where there were reported problems with computerized voting machines.

3. Place trained precinct delegates or other authorized people in polling places where these machines are being used to help identify and hopefully solve any problems that voters are reporting and experiencing. The election clerks are usually very busy during this time and can't always be as helpful as they should. These "poll watchers" should also take accurate notes and record any and all problems that are reported using the touchscreen machines noting voter name, machine number, time, nature of problem, and resolution if any.

4. Place ads in many large widely circulated newspapers, periodicals, and on TV a couple months before the election informing people about touchscreen machines and what they can do if they run into any problems. A better educated voting public is always a good investment.

5. Organize petition drives in state legislatures and at the federal level to get laws passed that outlaw any touchscreen voting machines that don't have a voter printout. Alert people to tell their congressman to support HR2239, which requires a simple printout to be filed for every vote cast on new electronic systems. Currently we understand this bill is now sitting in congress just waiting for enough sponsors to put it up to vote. It would be better to outlaw these machines entirely and push optical scanners instead, but I doubt this will fly at this stage of the game. But there is no reason why we can't stop the spread and use of these machines and insist that they have printouts. Along with this, any candidates for public office that has a say-so in ordering voting equipment should be forced to openly take a position on this issue in a public forum.

6. Finally or in conjunction with any of the above, we strongly believe that it would be feasible to convince a large block of people who wouldn't normally do so to vote by Absentee Ballot in precincts where touchscreen machines are being used. Yes, it would be more expensive. And yes, it would involve more work...but it could be accomplished easier than one might think using the internet and with a large organization of volunteers. Here's the rough outline for this plan: Large organizations ie MoveOn.org, Common Cause, TrueMajority, etc. with substantial financial resources could ask for volunteers to collect absentee voter applications -- as distinct from absentee ballots. These are simple forms that a voter fills out and sends back to their county clerk, where they are registered to vote. Obviously these will vary greatly not only by state but maybe also by county or precinct so lots of people from all over the U.S. will be needed to set up this project.

These forms will be collected and made available online for free and easy download with a set of instructions to make sure all information is filled in accurately and completely. We don't want any voters turned away because of silly mistakes or omissions and we certainly don't want hired guns from either party working behind closed doors fixing errors in these apps like occured in Seminole Co., Florida in 2000. In fact, the storing website could even be programmed so the "potential" absentee voter can fill out the form online and have software verify that it was filled in correctly, after which the potential voter could print out the form already filled in and ready for him/her to sign and send in. Of course the name and address where to send it would be included. Instructions, name and phone number of person to contact for follow-up, would also be included in case the person doesn't get his/her absentee ballot in the mail in a reasonable time.

In conjunction with this, a mass advertising campaign would be needed to inform voters of this project and the need for it, appealing to voter's concerns about having their vote count and be counted accurately. Also, at every rally or large mass political gathering of any kind, booths would be available to inform people of this campaign and to assist them in voting absentee. After a bunch of irate polling people have to endlessly count absentee ballots for days, you can be sure a lot of pressure will be applied to reform the system accordingly.

Let's work together now!

Therefore, topplebush.com urges all organizations to start working together NOW on this problem to prevent the election of 2004 from being stolen again by George Bush and his loyal cabal. This issue needs to be one of your top priorites because none of the rest will matter if Bush is elected again in 2004.

© 2003 Topplebush.com
October 27, 2003

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