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

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Brad Friedman
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URL: http://www.bradblog.com/?p=3576

Open Letter Sent to States Urging Emergency Paper Ballot Plans and
Procedures for November Election
Urgent Plea Mailed to 50 State Governors, Sec's of State and Election
Directors Signed by Broad Coalition of Election Integrity Advocacy Orgs,
Congressional Members, Elections Officials, Computer Scientists, Civil
Rights Attorneys and Journalists
Initial Federal Effort Calling for Back-Up Paper Ballots Now Moves to
States, Citizens Asked to Join the Call!

An urgent letter has been sent today to the Governors, Secretaries of State
and State Election Directors of all 50 states urging them to immediately
create and impliment plans and procedures for allowing the use of Emergency
Paper Ballots at every local jurisdiction during this November's general

The missive, signed by a broad coalition of more than 50 Election Integrity
Advocate groups, congressional members, elections officials, computer
scientists, attorneys and journalists comes on the heels of Federal
legislation introduced recently in both the U.S. House and Senate. Those
bills, which were not brought up for votes before Congress adjourned for the
Election Recess, called for funding to states who impliment plans to provide
Emergency Paper Ballots in the wake of recent primary elections around the
country where voters were unable to cast a vote due to failure, or other
inability of electronic voting systems.

two-page letter [PDF] (also posted in full at the end of this
article) was signed by individuals such as: Sen. Barbara Boxer, Robert F.
Kennedy Jr., Sen. John Kerry, Rep. Rush Holt, Leon County, FL Supervisor of
Elections Ion Sancho, OH elections attorney Cliff Arnebeck and University of
Iowa computer scientist Doug Jones. Organizations signed on include: Common
Cause, VerifiedVoting.org, VotersUnite.org, BlackBoxVoting.org,
VoterAction.org, National Coalition on Black Civic Participation,
MoveOn.org, TrueMajorityAction.org and many other national, state and local
Election Integrity advocate groups.

"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," the letter reads.
"It is imperative that an ample supply of Emergency Paper Ballots be made
available to account for any unforeseen circumstance."

The letter continues, "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."

As well, it's pointed out that some states already have certain procedures
required by law to ensure that registered voters are allowed to vote in the
event that primary balloting procedures break down. Officials are urged to
check those requirements and otherwise "draft, establish and publicize your
own state's common-sense plans for Emergency Paper Ballots at every polling
place this Nov. 7th, so that every election official, poll worker, and voter
may be crystal clear on the procedures for utilizing such measures."

The movement calling on states to create Emergency Paper Ballot plans began
just three weeks ago when The BRAD BLOG
called on the U.S. Congress to introduce and pass legislation in order to
ensure that legally registered voters would not be turned away from the
polls without being allowed to vote as had been the case for thousands of
voters in a number of states this year due to voting machines that failed to
start up, were misprogrammed, failed during voting or, in some cases, hadn't
been brought to polling places at all until several hours after polls were
to have opened.

Many voters were either told to "come back later" or given Provisional
Ballots which are not counted as normal ballots on Election Night and
frequently not counted at all.

Legislation for Emergency Ballots was introduced the following week
in the U.S. Senate by Senators Boxer,
Christopher Dodd, Russ Feingold and Kerry. A matching
House version was filed the next day by
Rep. Rush Holt and co-sponsored by 28 other House members. As well, Feingold
and Kerry introduced a "Sense of the Senate" resolution calling for same,
but that effort was also never brought up for a vote on the floor before the

The letter, which was drafted by this journalist along with a number of
other signatorees, was sent to all recipients via return-receipt requested
certified mailing this morning by
VelvetRevolution.us. [DISCLOSURE: The BRAD BLOG
is a co-founder of VR .]

With the failure of Congress to pass such important legislation prior to
this November's important general election, the effort now moves to the
State and Local level. Organizations and individuals are called on to
contact their State and Local Elections officals to assure that plans are in
place to accomodate any and all unforseen circumstances.

Alluding to Americans who have fought for and defended the right to vote in
the past, and indeed to this day around the globe, the letter concludes:
"Our vote is our precious franchise. We believe it is worth defending, and
worth the effort to guarantee that that right remains assured and

Progressive Democrats of America (PDA), one of the
initial signatorees, is creating an online petition for citizens to urge
their Secretaries of State and Governors to ensure such plans and procedures
are created and implimented immediately. We'll update this item with the
link as soon as it becomes available.

The open letter, sent to all State Governors, Secretaries of State and State
Election Directors calling for Emergency Paper Ballot plans and procedures
and signed by 55 organizations and individuals, can be downloaded
here [PDF]. It also follows below in full.

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