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America Needs a Voting Rights Movement

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In America today, nearly 90% of the nation's voters have their voting rights violated in just about every single election: local, state, and federal.

To quote the popular bumper sticker: "If you're not outraged you're not paying attention."

Consider the grassroots civil rights struggles that forged meaningful voting rights reforms in our nation's history:

  • In 1868, with Blacks representing 14% of the American population, the 15th Amendment prohibited voting rights discrimination "on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude".
  • In 1920, with women representing 49.75% of the voting age population, the 19th amendment prohibited voting rights discrimination "on account of sex".
  • In 1965, with minorities representing 12 % of the American population, the Voting Rights Act reinforced the 14th and 15th amendments, prohibiting the use of various previously legal strategies that prevented Blacks and other non-white Americans from exercising their right to vote.

In each of these instances civil rights activists spoke the language of liberty, self governance, and the right of every citizen to vote in free and fair and open public elections.

We rose up to enforce the civil rights for 11%, 14%, and 50% of our people. So where is the movement to protect 90%?

The Voting Rights Act states that vote counting must be observable, yet today the votes of nearly 90% of American voters are counted by computers owned by private corporations using trade secret software, which nobody in the public domain can examine or verify.

The Voting Rights Act states that those responsible for counting our votes (our election officials) must, in fact, count our votes, yet today the votes of nearly 90% of American voters are counted by private for-profit corporations, and not by public officials at all.

The Voting Rights Act provides recourse for those who have "reasonable grounds" to believe these rights are knowingly being violated, yet there has been no recourse when public officials knowingly violate our rights for observable and accurate vote counts by outsourcing this constitutional duty to private corporations using trade secret software, which countless scientific studies have proven can not guarantee an accurate or secure count.

The Voting Rights Act requires 22-month retention of all voting records for federal elections, yet the US Department of Justice issued a ruling that compliance with the law only requires retaining hard copy printouts of computerized voting records, and not the computer data itself. This despite testimony and reports from computer scientists proving how easy it is to alter those print outs to display completely different data than would be found on the electronic source.

The Voting Rights Act (VRA) represents the last real federal election reform effort legitimately empowering Congress to supersede the states in protecting civil rights for every American. Every succeeding piece of federal election reform has focused not on voting rights, but on centralizing federal power over the states and converting public elections to a national privatized and centralized network of computerized elections.

  • The Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971, resulted in campaigns for public office becoming privately held affairs of the very rich.
  • The National Voter Registration Act of 1993 created a computerized bureaucratic voter registration morass riddled with corruption, resulting in widespread voter disenfranchisement.
  • The 2002 Help America Vote Act (HAVA) spent $4 billion of our dollars to buy privately held computerized voter registration systems, ballot scanners, and touchscreen voting machines - creating a nationwide, corporate-owned computerized election system of voter lists and concealed vote counting all "protected" by "trade secrecy" from citizen oversight.

For the past four years, Democratic New Jersey Congressman Rush Holt has been pushing his own extension of HAVA, the disturbingly titled "Voter Con(fidence) Act", which would enshrine into federal law the "rights" of private corporations to count our votes in secret using ever-increasing complex technology that even the most competent public official can not manage without corporate "support".

These legislative trends have distorted our civic awareness, undermined our voting rights, and converted the language of civil rights to a computerized voting vocabulary. Every new wave is designed not to protect voting rights, but to protect the computerized elections industry, with its trade secret technology and impossibly opaque election management systems far removed from the public eye.

Today, with control of almost 90% of America's vote count, the corporate takeover of our nation's elections is dangerously close to complete.

This threat to our national security is so overwhelming that today's election integrity movement is consumed with devising stop gap "compromise" measures to stem the tide of the complete corporate takeover of our elections. Measures like the perennial Holt Bill, with its promise of paper ballots on the one hand and its corporate lockdown of concealed vote counting on the other.

Even traditional voting rights organizations, like the ACLU, NAACP, People for the American Way, League of Women Voters, Common Cause, and others, jumped on board the e-voting train. Having supported passage of the 2002 computerized voting bill, HAVA, these groups continue to push computerized voting without seeming to question its compatibility with the fundamental principles of voting rights.

It is impossible to protect basic voting rights in a privatized, computerized national election system.
  • Voters are denied access to the polls through faulty registration databases.
  • Voters are denied access to the polls through insufficient numbers of voting machines.
  • Voters are denied public oversight through concealed vote counting using trade secret software.
  • Voters are denied an accurate vote count through fraudulent and defective trade secret vote counting software.
  • Voters are denied ballot access through complex ballots - paper or otherwise - that can only be counted by computers.
  • Voters are denied free and open elections through the replacement of public elections with the high priced, complex, privatized computerized election industry.

Through the lens of voting rights, you can clearly see that the idea of privatized, computerized elections is patently ludicrous.

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