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America Needs a Voting Rights Movement

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Message Michel Collins
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Ensuring our civil and voting rights by definition precludes the use of computers in elections, because computers count votes in a manner concealed from the public and remove public oversight from elections. This is all the worse when those computers are controlled by private corporations using trade secret vote counting software.


In 1980, 35% of registered voters had their votes counted by computers (ballot scanners, touchscreens, punchcards), 43% by mechanical lever machines, and 11% by hand counted paper ballots. By 2008, thanks to HAVA, 89% of registered voters had their votes counted by computers, 7% by mechanical lever machines, and only 0.2% hand counted paper ballots (source: Election Data Services).

Prior to the 2000 presidential election, we were collectively asleep at the wheel when it comes to computerized elections. Consistent with our love of and trust in technology, we didn't think too much about the implications of concealed computerized vote counting.

But in 2009, we know better. Mounds of evidence in scientific reports published since 2003, affidavits from voters whose votes switched before their eyes on touch screen machines, the negative 16,000 or so votes tabulated for Al Gore in 2000 on Diebold ballot scanners, and the 18,000 "lost" ES&S touchscreen votes in the 2006 Sarasota County congressional race, compel us to recognize that our voting rights are violated every time we use these machines.

And we're not just talking minority voting rights. We're not just talking women's voting rights or disability voting rights.

We're talking civil rights for 90% of the American voting population.

That's why America needs a voting rights movement.

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