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Liberty Tree: Democratizing Elections

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Unitarian Universalists for a Just Economic Community recently sponsored the "Great Gathering" in Columbus, Ohio.  All those who signed up were treated to a complimentary copy of the quarterly journal, Liberty Tree, now in its second year.  I couldn’t wait to read something calling itself the “Journal of the Democratic Revolution.”  

Based in Madison, Wisconsin, editor Ben Manski advised that the non-profit, Liberty Tree Foundation for the Democratic Revolution grew out of an Autumn 2004 organization calling itself No Stolen Elections.  Its programs and projects include democratizing education and elections, the law of democracy, and the publication of this journal. 

Contributors to the Spring 07 issue include David Cobb, Rob Richie, as well as VoteTrustUSA leaders, Joan Krawitz and Warren Stewart.  The latter two wrote an article on e-voting, saying: 

“It has become obvious that in too many instances electronic voting machines have failed both our voters and our democracy.  The range and severity of problems that occurred in the 2006 elections serve as a warning that action must be taken to achieve meaningful reform before the next federal election cycle.” 

In an article called “Forward Thinking,” Adrienne Maree Brown and Patrick Barrett contrast the lackluster results in the Midterm Elections with approval ratings as low as 16% for Congress.  They point out that 94% of incumbents were reelected despite this low approval.  That certainly supports no basis for confidence in reported results.  They write:  

“Far from fulfilling the promise of an empowered electorate, our current electoral system serves to concentrate power in the hands of the entrenched and unaccountable social and economic elites.”

While the VoteTrustUSA writers do question the use of software to record votes, no article raises hand-counted paper ballots, run by citizens, as a legitimate alternative to corporate control of our elections.  None of the articles consider the necessity of a trustworthy “first count,” given that recounts, audits and litigation fail to result in a reversal of election results.  Even criminal convictions for Cuyahoga’s (OH) rigged recount did not remove Bush from office. 

First counts matter – the courts are not on the side of voters. Citizen control of elections using an independent model of electoral management can be raised in future issues.  Manski agreed to consider outside submissions for publication. 

A fascinating interview of Frances Fox Piven, author of “Why Americans Still Don’t Vote and Why Politicians Want It That Way,” provides historical perspective on voting reform movements in this country.  She calls for non-partisan election officials, describing former Secretaries of State Kenneth Blackwell (Ohio) and Katherine Harris (Florida) as “the more circus-like examples of what is actually outright corruption.”   

Strategies are offered throughout the magazine, but more importantly, upcoming events are advertised.  The first-ever U.S. Social Forum – modeled on the World Social Forum – will be held in Atlanta, Georgia June 27 thru July 1. Organizers anticipate 15,000 people will attend.  Contact www.ussf2007.org or 505.247.8832 for more information.   

Liberty Tree promises to unite activists across many fronts in the movement for U.S. democracy.  Annual subscription prices start at $35.  More information can be found at www.LibertyTreeFDR.org.  

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In 2004, Rady Ananda joined the growing community of citizen journalists. Initially focused on elections, she investigated the 2004 Ohio election, organizing, training and leading several forays into counties to photograph the 2004 ballots. She officially served at three recounts, including the 2004 recount. She also organized and led the team that audited Franklin County Ohio's 2006 election, proving the number of voter signatures did not match official results. Her work appears in three books.

Her blogs also address religious, gender, sexual and racial equality, as well as environmental issues; and are sprinkled with book and film reviews on various topics. She spent most of her working life as a researcher or investigator for private lawyers, and five years as an editor.

She graduated from The Ohio State University's School of Agriculture in December 2003 with a B.S. in Natural Resources.

All material offered here is the property of Rady Ananda, copyright 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009. Permission is granted to repost, with proper attribution including the original link.

"In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act." Tell the truth anyway.

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