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April 23, 2010

Florida Victory for Home Rule!

By Kindra Muntz

Voters won a key victory in the 2/11/10 FL Supreme Court Decision in Sarasota Alliance for Fair Elections, Inc. et al v Browning,et al that upheld the right of voters to meaningful spot check audits of voting machine accuracy.Now those common-sense audits that do not conflict with state law,remain,and the right of counties to protect their voters beyond the minimum standards set by the state is once again validated.

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Thanks to allwho helped,home rule has prevailed once again and the dangerous pre-emption language giving all power to the State in matter of elections has been removed from two bills being pushed through the 2010 Florida legislature.

Pre-emption of all power over elections by the State would hurt voters by taking away

  • their home rule
  • their ability to protect their vote
  • common-sense spot check audits of voting machines to verify accuracy
  • the counties' ability to verify that voting machines paid for with taxpayer dollars are working correctly

The two bills that tried to give all power to the State in 2010 were SB900 and HB869.

A big thank you to the following people who helped defeat the pre-emption language:

  • YOU, the voters, who called your State Senator and Representative
  • The 15 statewide organizations who sent a joint letter of opposition to the Leadership in the State House and Senate, to key Committee chairs and to all members of the House of Representatives.
  • The Sarasota County Commission, who sent a letter in opposition to the pre-emption language to Key Committtee chairs hearing the bills, and to Commissioner Jon Thaxton, who went to Tallahassee in defense of home rule in several bills before the legislature
  • And to Representative Keith Fitzgerald, whose skill and knowledge of the rules, persuaded the sponsor to withdraw the pre-emption language from his amendments to HB869 in the last two weeks of the session.

Voters won a key victory in the February 11, 2010 Florida Supreme Court Decision in Sarasota Alliance for Fair Elections, Inc. et al. v. Browning, et. al. that upheld the right of voters to meaningful spot check audits of voting machine accuracy. Now those common-sense audits that do not conflict with state law, remain, and the right of counties to protect their voters beyond the minimum standards set by the state is once again validated.

KindraMuntz
Sarasota Alliance for Fair Elections, www.safevote.org
Unitarian Universalist Legislative Ministry of Florida, www.uulmf.org



Submitters Website: www.safevote.org

Submitters Bio:
Kindra Muntz formed the nonpartisan Political Action Committee, Sarasota Alliance for Fair Elections (SAFE) in January, 2006 to preserve freedom and democracy through verified elections, after two years of research on the problems of electronic voting.

As President of SAFE, Kindra spearheaded the petition drive for a county charter amendment for voter verified paper ballots and mandatory, random audits of election results, that passed in Sarasota County, Florida, in November, 2006 with 74,000 votes from people of all political parties. After continued opposition by Florida Secretary of State Kurt Browning, Sarasota County Supervisor of Elections Kathy Dent, and the Sarasota County Commissioners, the charter amendment was overturned at the State Appellate Court in October of 2007. SAFE appealed that decision at the Florida Supreme Court in Tallahassee May 7, 2008, and is awaiting their ruling.

In addition to the countywide effort for verified elections with paper ballots and mandatory audits of election results, Kindra co-founded the Florida Voters Coalition (FVC) in 2007 with three election reform activists from other Florida counties, to press for a statewide bill for paper ballots that passed in 2007. That bill provided for paper ballots, but failed to provide statistically significant audits, which are critical to verified elections. The FVC pressed unsuccessfully for strengthened statewide audit legislation in 2008, and will continue their efforts in coming years. For Kindra's work she received the 2007 Jim Barrett Social Justice Award of the Florida District Unitarian Universalist Association and the 2008 Nelson Poynter Award for Civil Liberties (along with the other three co-founders of the Florida Voters Coalition) from the ACLU Foundation of Florida. She continues to work with partners statewide and nationwide to effect needed election reforms in Florida and around the country.

In 2004, 2005, and 2006, Kindra was a volunteer Florida State Representative to Washington with VerifiedVoting.org on behalf of the "Voter Confidence and Increased Accessibility Act" (HR550), now HR811. She became a member of VoteTrustUSA Leaders in 2006. She has spoken on a voting reform panel in Washington, appeared on CNN and Fox News, and spoken before the Florida Senate Ethics and Elections Committee on the problems of electronic voting.

Kindra worked in manufacturing management at General Electric Company's Aircraft Engine Group in Lynn, Massachsetts for 18 years, and received their Managerial Award in 1990. She was a retail broker at Merrill Lynch for five years, before retiring and moving to Venice, where she is active in the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Venice, immediate past President of the Southwest Cluster of UU Congregations, and Secretary of the Board of the public charter Island Village Montessori School. Kindra is a graduate of Harvard University and Secretary of her Class of 1965 at Radcliffe.

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