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Voters: Demand a verifiable voting process

co-film-bernie-after.jpgIt’s not too late to take action on the issue of electronic voting machines and demand a “verifiable vote” through paper trail and/or auditing. Activist Bernie Ellis (right), who is featured in the film UnCounted:The Movie and who addressed a Clarksville audience on Friday, today offers a fledgling “action kit” for worried voters who want to register their concerns with state leaders. These words from Mr. Ellis:

This “action kit” will get you started (or moving faster) to register your concerns with our state leaders.

Here are three things YOU CAN DO NOW to help up ramp up the discussion for voter-verified paper ballots and mandatory random audits here in Tennessee.

 Now here are three things you can do to help us gain serious momentum:

Action Task 1. Contact the members of the Tennessee Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations (TACIR).(They meet on December 12, so please contact them right away.) Tell them that you want them to endorse the TACIR staff report, “Trust But Verify”. You also recommend to the legislature that we move rapidly away from paperless touch-screen voting in Tennessee and toward optical scan voting systems that start and end with a voter-completed paper ballot. You also endorse the need for mandatory random audits of those paper ballots to ensure that the opscan systems also count our votes completely and accurately. Here is a sample letter:

Dear TACIR Commissioners,

I am writing to thank you, through your participation in TACIR, for your serious review and assessment of the threats, costs and other issues that paperless touch-screen voting has presented to maintaining the integrity of our elections here in Tennessee. You have heard much testimony and would doubtless hear more if there were time available for citizens to do so once again. However, the time for a decision is now upon us and we hope that TACIR will accomplish the following on December 12:

  1. Accept and endorse the TACIR staff report, “Trust But Verify”, as an excellent summary of the many compelling reasons why we must act to restore integrity to our voting process.
  2. Act as the influential body that you are to recommend that the Tennessee legislature consider, debate and adopt (as soon as possible) legislation which will support and assist the orderly adoption of voting systems that use or produce voter-verified paper ballots in Tennessee, to be counted on more secure and verifiable voting equipment (specifically, optical scan or similar voting systems) than we have recently installed.
  3. Recommend that the state of Tennessee assist counties in the transformation to more secure and verifiable voting systems as soon as possible by working to provide both state funds, redirected HAVA funds (of which we still have between $15-20 million) and other means to reduce the economic impact of these state-mandated efforts to restore integrity in our voting process might have on those county governments.
  4. Encourage the Legislative Study Committee assigned to review the Tennessee Voter Confidence Act (HB 1256, Moore; SB 1363, Haynes) on December 18 to recommend that this legislation go forward as quickly as possible and that it be considered, debated and adopted by the full Legislature when it re-convenes in January.

Once again, thank you for the time and attention you have given to the issue of election integrity — and specifically more verifiable voting systems — through your work on the TACIR Board. We sincerely hope that you will support some affirming action by TACIR at the December 12 meeting that will hasten needed election reform in our state.

Thank you for your public service. Here’s hoping we can rescue our franchise and save our democracy here in Tennessee before it is too late.

(Your signature)

Here are all the available TACIR Commission emails we have. You can “cut-and-paste” this list of email addresses into your email address spot and email all of them at once. (It might be nice to “bcc” all of them so the email seems more individually directed.) :

Action Task 2: Contact the members of the Legislative Study Committee who will review the Tennessee Voter Confidence Act on December 18. Ask them to support repairing our election process by requiring voter-verified paper ballots and mandatory random audits here in Tennessee as soon as possibly, preferably 2008. Here’s a sample letter I just sent:

Dear TN Voter Confidence Act Study Committee Members:

I am writing to thank you in advance for your serious review and assessment of the threats, costs and other issues that paperless touch-screen voting has presented to restoring the integrity of our elections here in Tennessee. We hope you will use the information you receive and review on December 18 to recommend immediate action to restore the integrity of our franchiase here in Tennessee. The time for a decision is now if we are to protect our votes before November, 2008. Please do the following things:

(copy itemized list from above letter)

Thank you for your public service. You can rescue our franchise. We can’t afford another insecure election.

(your signature)

These are the Legislative Study Committee members for the Tennessee Voter Confidence Act. “Cut-and-paste” them into the address box of an email and write them all at once.

Action Task 3: Contact other Tennessee officials NOW to ask them to pay attention to this issue and to act themselves, if necessary, to insure that these reforms are enacted. Here’s a preliminary list of state officials that we should be contacting in some way. I hope each of you will email your thoughts directly to some or all of these officials. In addition, you might want to mail copies of UNCOUNTED or the postcards recommending that it be watched to these same offices. I think the post-cards in particular can generate attention to these issues within these state offices.

We are asking all of these officials to do the following:

  1. To please give serious consideration to the number of threats which our elections face and to consider what they can do to restore election integrity in our state
  2. To do whatever they can do in their official capacity to help us replace the current non-verifiable voting systems used in most Tennessee counties (touch-screen and push-button voting machines) with verifiable voting systems that incorporate paper ballots (for example, the optical scan voting systems)
  3. To encourage others in positions of responsibility for our elections to expedite the changes necessary to make our elections more secure and verifiable before the November, 2008 elections or as soon as possible, by whatever means available.

Bottom line

It’s not too late to restore election integrity in Tennessee, but we must act NOW. We can’t afford another insecure election in our state. Not when the solution is achievable NOW.

Please consider emailing and/or writing these officials directly. If you would like some post-cards which use the UNCOUNTED poster as the front and allows you to write your own message on the back, get in touch with me and we’ll get some of those cards to you. You can email me or call 931/682-2864.

Governor’s Office

Governor Phil Bredesen: phil.bredesen@state.tn.us
First Lady Andrea Conte: andrea.conte@state.tn.us

Governor’s Office
TN State Capital
Nashville, TN 37243-0001

TN Attorney General

Robert E. Cooper, Jr.
P.O. Box 20207
Nashville, TN 37202-0207

Department of Finance & Administration

Commissioner Dave Goetz
312 8th Ave., North, 16th Floor
Nashville, TN 37243

Administration: J. Michael Morrow mike.morrow@state.tn.us
Public Info: Lola Potter lola.potter@state.tn.us

Secretary of State

Riley Darnell: riley.darnell@state.tn.us
312 8th Ave. North, 8th Floor
Nashville, TN 37243

Elections and State Election Commission

Brook Thompson: brook.thompson@state.tn.us
312 8th Ave., North, 9th floor
Nashville, TN 37243

Department of Economic and Community Development

Commissioner Matt Kisber: matt.kisber@state.tn.us
Asst. Commissioner Paula Davis: paula.davis@state.tn.us
312 8th Ave. North, 11th floor
Nashville, TN 37243

Department of Veterans Affairs

Commissioner John Keys TN.veterans@state.tn.us
215 8th Ave. North
Nashville, TN 37243

Bernie Ellis
Bernie Ellis
Bernard "Bernie" H. Ellis, Jr., MA, MPH, is the principal researcher and founder of Bernard Ellis and Associates, Inc. Mr. Ellis is a consultant epidemiologist specializing in epidemiological research strategies to assess public health program development, delivery and effectiveness. Mr. Ellis is also a political and e-voting activist. He has devoted much of his professional life to helping others.


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