NVRI: National Voting Rights Institute

NVRI E-News Update - January 10, 2004
The Electors Are Chosen, but the Push for a Better Democracy is Only Started

Dear Friends,

So now what happens?

Last Thursday, Congress discussed the high number of irregularities in the 2004 Ohio vote. Thanks to the courageous challenges from Representative Stephanie Tubbs-Jones and Senator Barbara Boxer, both chambers heard a couple hours of discussion about the irregularities that kept minorities away form the polls, had too few voting machines in many minority and urban districts, excluded absentee and provisional ballots, and found questionable behavior in the counting itself. Their challenge and the ensuing discussion was historic. And you should feel proud that the challenges came about because of your support of NVRI and others who care about the workings of democracy.

But it isn't over. The Ohio irregularities have only shined a much-needed light -- again -- on the problems with American voting. The real challenge lies ahead. What will be done next? Well for starters, here's what.

First, NVRI, and our clients David Cobb and Michael Badnarik, continue to press the federal court in Ohio to insist that the recount be conducted with uniform standards throughout the state. The recount that was conducted in Ohio showed that each and every county set their own standards -- and they were very different from each other. That needs to be changed. It's a basic principle of fairness, and one that needs to be established now, before there's another vote counting crisis. Our lawsuit is pending, and we await a ruling and hearings on what needs to be done.

Second, NVRI is working with coalition partners and clients in various states -- including Ohio, Florida and elsewhere -- to prepare new actions that demand fairness in the pre election day, and election day workings of democracy. The Constitution says voting must be equal. We learned through the Ohio work that it simply wasn't so. And with so many people dismissing the entire recount movement as sour grapes, we fear that the importance of change may be set aside. So we will not stop, and we will not let go. Every American should have an equal right to vote, to adequate resources, to understandable and consistent rules.

Finally, the hearings last week suggested that Congress needs to reconsider national standards. NVRI will support this effort in every way possible. And among the standards ought to be non-partisan election officials. It is absurd that we have to count on election officials who chair their party's election campaign, as Ken Blackwell did for the Bush campaign, to provide non-partisan election administration. It isn't fair to voters. It isn't fair to the elected officials.

We hope you'll stick with us. And we will keep you up to date on these efforts, and our other ongoing efforts to make American politics accessible to all Americans, regardless of economic condition, race or social status.

Best Regards,
Stu

Stuart Comstock-Gay
Executive Director
National Voting Rights Institute
617-624-3900 ext.16
scg@nvri.org
www.nvri.org