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The $64,000 question: Is democracy worth an hour of your time?

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My friend and colleague Mary Ann Gould is a co-founder of the Coalition for Voting Integrity and host of the radio show "Voice of the Voters" in the Greater Philadelphia area and on the internet. She is a great lover of democracy and has been working very hard for the last few years to restore and protect our right to have our vote counted as cast.

We have all heard for quite a while that our members of Congress would never agree to a ban of the DRE voting machines (touch-screen). Mary Ann raises a very good question: how do we know that that this is true? And its corollary: has anyone actually asked them?

In order to know how to proceed prior to the 2008 election, we want to get on record NOW what our elected officials think. Gathering up-to-date information is the first step towards bringing about change. Mary Ann is putting together a group of individuals who will take it upon themselves to make a number of calls in the next few days to the DC offices of our members of Congress.

They will be asking only a few essential questions:
1. Do you want DREs (touch-screen voting technology) to be banned from our elections?
2. Would you support legislation that mandates their banning in time for the 2008 election?
3. If the answer to #2 is no, would you support legislation that mandates their banning by 2010?

Responses will be gathered and posted at OpEdNews for all to see. Constituents are encouraged to exercise their right to call their reps' offices to register displeasure with their position and try to change their minds.

While this may seem like busy-work, it is critically important. Please consider setting aside an hour to do this. Your help could make a big difference. Democracy is not a maintenance-free zone. It takes a lot of time and effort to keep it in working order. Whoever said, "the price of freedom is eternal vigilance" wasn't kidding. (I know; it was Thomas Jefferson.)

Please forward this to anyone you know who is concerned about the anti-democratic direction our elections have been heading and is willing to do something about it. If one hundred people step forward, we will each have fewer than five calls to make. How much time can that take? Is this too much to ask? Frankly, I don't think so.

If we can't get one hundred citizens interested and involved in this, what does that say about participatory democracy, the perceived importance of our elections, or what the future holds for our country? I shudder to think what that level of apathy might mean for all of us. This reminds me of the negotiations that Abraham had with God over the fate of the residents of Sodom. I don't think it's overstating the case to say that without fair elections, we are steadily sliding down that slippery slope towards something that resembles democracy in no meaningful way.

Stats indicate that over 1200 people read my review of "Sicko" last week at OpEdNews. I'm sure at least part of that (if not most of it) is because of the timeliness of this damning look at our failing health care system. The passions that Michael Moore incites also surely were a factor. However...If only one tenth of all those people who read my review were to sign up for the initiative described above, we would have what we need and there would be no undue burden on any one person. Is that beyond our reach? Are you up to the challenge? For better or worse, we will soon know that answer.

You may respond directly to me at or to Mary Ann at . Please don't wait. We have heard that "election reform" legislation will be called to the floor for a vote soon, possibly within the next few days; your efforts NOW can make a critical difference in whether our elections do what they were designed to do (to securely, accurately and transparently record the voters' will) or not. If it turns out that we have more lead-time to work on this, we'd rather be safe than sorry.

Heartfelt thanks in advance for stepping forward to help share this task. We welcome your participation and support.

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Joan Brunwasser is a co-founder of Citizens for Election Reform (CER) which since 2005 existed for the sole purpose of raising the public awareness of the critical need for election reform. Our goal: to restore fair, accurate, transparent, secure elections where votes are cast in private and counted in public. Because the problems with electronic (computerized) voting systems include a lack of (more...)

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