The most important message to send to TN lawmakers is: We must have paper ballots in time for the 2008 Presidential election!
The house state & local government committee rolled our bill (HB 1256) from Feb. 5 to Feb. 12 – this coming Tuesday. It will be heard at 10:30 in Room 16 at Legislative Plaza.
The senate state & local government committee will be hearing our bill (SB 1363) that same day at noon in Room 12.
We expect (but aren’t sure) that both bills will pass out of the committees. The next stop is the Finance, Ways & Means committee where the members will consider how the bill would be funded. This is where we anticipate the most difficulty.
However, there are reasons to be hopeful
- The U.S. Congress has directed the Election Assistance Commission to allow leftover HAVA money (the money that funded the original purchase of voting equipment in 2006) to be used to buy optical scan machines to replace the paperless DREs. The EAC has not provided that permission to the states yet. We are in direct communication with the EAC and are hopeful that permission will be granted soon.
- There is a new emergency bill being introduced by Rep. Rush Holt to the U.S. Congress giving money to states who wish to purchase optical scan machines in time for the November election.
- Acknowledging the importance of fair elections, the TN Legislature or the Governor could choose for the state to fund the $25 million needed to make the change, hoping but not knowing that the money might be repaid by federal dollars.
The other hurdle
The people in charge of making this change to optical scan machines are not in favor of it. Brook Thompson, Coordinator of Elections says that there is insufficient time to make the change before the 2008 Presidential election and he doesn’t even acknowledge that the change is needed.
What you can do
In addition to the main message that “Tennessee must have paper ballots by the 2008 Presidential Election”, other points you may wish to make to strengthen your argument:
- Federal funds are likely to become available in the near future.
- Even if federal funds are not available, you are in favor of using state funds.
- The transition in 2006 to the unreliable DREs was done in less time that we now have and other states have made this change in the amount of time we have – so the change to optical scan is possible.
- You personally believe in the importance of this change (and why).
Where to send your emails
State & Local Government Committee – House
- Representative Ben West
- Representative Bob Bibb
- Representative Curtis Johnson
- Representative Eddie Yokley
- Representative Gary Moore
- Representative Harry Tindell
- Representative Jim Coley
- Representative Jimmy Eldrige
- Representative Jimmy Matlock
- Representative Joe Pitts
- Representative Joey Hensley
- Representative John Litz
- Representative Larry Miller
- Representative Mary Pruitt
- Representative Parkey Strader
- Representative Randy Rinks
- Representative Steve McManus
- Representative Todd Curry
- Representative Ulysses Jones
- Representative Vince Dean
State & Local Government Committee – Senate
- Senator Bill Ketron
- Sentator Bo Watson
- Senator Joe Haynes
- Sentator Lowe Finney
- Senator Mark Norris
- Senator Steve Roller
- Senator Thelma Harper
- Sentator Tim Burchett
There will be a meeting of the Gathering to Save Our Democracy group on Wednesday, February 13, at Davis-Kidd Booksellers in Nashville, TN – downstairs in the meeting room of Bronte Bistro. The meeting will be from 6:30 – 8:00 PM and we will be discussing the next actions needed. Please come if you would like to become more involved!
Gathering to Save Our Democracy