Florida Know Your Rights/Election Protection program

Coalition Seeks to Engage Election Officials; Protect, Educate & Mobilize Voters

Tallahassee, FL – Demands on our voting systems are at an all-time high due to new federal requirements for state election officials. To prepare for these demands, the Voices of the Electorate (V.O.T.E.) coalition today launched the nationwide, nonpartisan Know Your Rights/Election Protection program to prepare for this year's presidential election.

“There are more than 12 million people of voting age in Florida. How many of them will have their votes counted on Election Day?” asked Tallahassee City Commissioner Andrew Gillum, a Senior Field Organizer with People For the American Way Foundation. “Election Protection is committed to making our system work.”

Throughout the nation, Election Protection partner organizations are conducting aggressive voter registration and education programs. Election Protection is working with election officials to identify and prevent problems. On Election Day, the program will station “right-to-vote” monitors at polling places around the country and offer a toll-free hotline to provide voters with instant access to free legal advice. “Voters’ Bills of Rights” are planned for 30 states and thousands of volunteer attorneys, law students, and poll monitors are already signed up.

“Florida has a unique obligation to provide a secure voting experience,” said Ion Sancho, Leon County Supervisor of Elections. “Elections supervisors are there to guarantee that right to every voter.”

The Facts about Diebold and ES&S:

· Diebold and ES&S, will count (using BOTH computerized ballot scanners and touchscreen machines) about 80% of all votes cast in the upcoming U.S. presidential election. http://www.ecotalk.org/UrosevichBrothers.htm

· According to Diebold spokesman David Bear, "There has never been an instance where a vote has ever come into question of not being tallied." http://www.abcnews.go.com/sections/GMA/SciTech/Voting_machines_040305-1.html

· On April 22, 2004, Jim Wasserman of the Associated Press reported, "By an 8-0 vote, the state's (California) Voting Systems and Procedures Panel recommended that (Secretary of State) Shelley cease the use of the machines, saying that Texas-based Diebold has performed poorly in California and its machines malfunctioned in the state's March 2 primary election, turning away many voters in San Diego County...In addition to the ban, panel members recommended that a secretary of state's office report released Wednesday, detailing alleged failings of Diebold in California, be forwarded to the state attorney general's office to consider civil and criminal charges against the company." http://www.ecotalk.org/UrosevichBrothers.htm

The Facts about voting irregularities already documented in Florida in 2004:

· In Sarasota County “critics cited the Democratic presidential primary in March as evidence that the machines are prone to error. According to the county Board of Elections, the votes of 189 people were never counted.” And yet Supervisor of Elections Kathy Dent stated “The accuracy rate (of the touch-screen) has been certified to one error in 1 million votes." http://www.heraldtribune.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20040429/NEWS/404290347/1017/POLITICS

· On election night in Bay County in March, for instance, U.S. Rep. Dick Gephardt, who dropped out of the Democratic presidential primary in January, was leading in a landslide before elections officials shut down the machines. http://www.sptimes.com/2004/03/22/Tampabay/Computer_voting_reign.shtml

· In Hillsborough County, 255 ballots had no vote in the presidential preference primary in March. In Pinellas County, in precincts where only the presidential candidates were on the ballot, 211 had no vote. The undervotes in those three counties totaled 635 - more ballots than the 537 votes that determined victory the 2000 presidential election. http://www.sptimes.com/2004/03/22/Tampabay/Computer_voting_reign.shtml

Election Protection is the nation's most ambitious non-partisan program for preventing Election Day disenfranchisement. The coalition of state and national allies seeks to ensure that every eligible voter casts a ballot that counts on Election Day and conducts aggressive voter registration and education programs to reach people who haven't been voting. In addition to Florida, V.O.T.E. is launching the campaign in New Mexico, Wisconsin, Georgia and Ohio.

“The stakes could not be higher. We must restore faith in our democratic system, bring voters to the polls, and make sure every vote is counted,” said Ralph G. Neas, president of People For the American Way Foundation. “There are six months remaining to prevent an Election Day debacle. The countdown starts now.”

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