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Open Letter Sent to States Urging Emergency Paper Ballot Plans and Procedures for Nov. Election

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October 11, 2006

Honorable Governor, Secretary of State & State Election Director:

As you likely know, many legally registered American voters across the
country were turned away from polling places without being able to cast a
ballot this year. In state after state, voters were unable to exercise their
franchise simply because electronic voting systems malfunctioned, suffered
programming problems, or were otherwise unavailable for use.

We are sure you'll agree that should never happen in this country. No
legally registered voter should ever be turned away from the polls without
being allowed to vote on Election Day in America. No legally registered
voter should ever be told to "come back later," or be forced to use a
provisional ballot simply because a voting system is unavailable to them at
the time they are able to vote. It is imperative that an ample supply of
Emergency Paper Ballots be made available to account for any unforeseen
circumstance.

Common-sense legislation for Emergency Paper Ballots at the polling place
this November was recently filed in both the U.S. House and Senate. The
proposed legislation would have:

* Mandated that voters be given a paper ballot upon request


* Required election officials to post information announcing and
confirming that right at each polling place, and

* Mandated that all such paper ballots be counted as regular, not
provisional, ballots.

Unfortunately, legislators were unable to pass this important measure before
adjourning for the Election Recess. Now the responsibility for this vital
democratic process must rest on the States and Counties to ensure that
millions of Americans will be able to cast their ballots in the general
election on November 7th.

Many of your state's citizens and polling places will be using new
electronic voting systems for the first time. Such systems have already
caused unforeseen problems this year, resulting in disenfranchised voters
from Maryland to California, from Texas to Indiana to many other states and
counties around the union.

In Maryland, the Governor recently called for Emergency Paper Ballots
statewide after catastrophic problems in their recent primary. In Texas and
Arkansas, election officials wisely instructed their counties to have
Emergency Paper Ballots on hand during runoff elections after thousands were
unable to vote during primaries, or when voting machine companies failed to
program balloting systems properly.

In America, in 2006, such occurrences should never have happened, and we
write to you hoping that you will take every measure to ensure they do not
happen anywhere in your state this November.

Therefore, we, the undersigned groups and individuals, strongly urge you to
make contingency plans and procedures to ensure that every legally
registered American voter can vote in the upcoming general election. All
voters must have the option to vote on an Emergency Paper Ballot if
necessary, and all such ballots must be counted as regular - not provisional
- ballots.

We hope that your state and every county therein will take careful, yet
aggressive measures to institute plans for ample Emergency Paper Ballots, to
be made available in every voting jurisdiction.

Several states have laws in place requiring the use of emergency paper
ballots for voters if voting equipment is unavailable or has malfunctioned.
Many more states and counties, however, do not have such provisions. In
addition, many poll workers are unaware of such state laws and elections
code.

So many Americans have fought and died in this country and around the world
- and indeed, are fighting today - in the defense of our most basic
freedoms, to ensure the right to freely cast a vote and thus determine the
consent of the governed in this great democracy. Our vote is our precious
franchise. We believe it is worth defending, and worth the effort to
guarantee that that right remains assured and inviolate.

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Brad Friedman publishes Bradblog.com

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