J30 Election Reform Coalition
by Mark Huntress
March 21, 2005
On January 30th at Whetstone Park, Columbus, Ohio there was a meeting of groups interested in election reform. The purpose was to, "Combine the efforts of the various election reform groups, as well as allow for communication between the groups so no one's efforts are duplicated," according to organizer activist Rady Ananda,
Among the 120 people present were members of CASE-Ohio, Ohio Vigilance, MeetUp, and Redefeat Bush. This cooperating group of organizations has dubbed themselves the "J30 Coalition." Blackboxvoting.org's Bev Harris encouraged each group to continue to work independently, in order to attack election problems from different angles, while at the same time keeping channels of communication open.
One of the problems that the J30 Coalition is addressing is conflict of interest in the electoral process due to party affiliations of members of the Board of Elections, and the privatization of voting machine contracts. Diebold is owned by a vocal Republican supporter, and Blackboxvoting.org revealed that ES&S is owned by Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb) and his campaign finance director, Michael McCarthy.
The J30 Coalition supports the Voting Integrity and Verification Act, or VIVA 2005, which is waiting to be introduced into the US Senate. This bill would allow the voter to examine a paper ballot to make sure it matches his intentions, and would make the paper ballot the official ballot in the case of a discrepancy or a recount. It has the potential for bipartisan support, as it was introduced by Republican Senator John Ensign of Nevada, and is backed by Democratic leaders Harry Reid and Dick Durbin.
Reps. John Conyers and Stephanie Tubbs Jones are working on another piece of legislation, the VOTER Act, which is supported by the J30 Coalition. It would insure that provisional ballots are counted, regardless of where they are cast, and would require that the code used to program voting machines be available to the public.
There are eight points that are central to the agenda of the J30 Coalition:
# bipartisan statewide elections commission, accountable to the public
# paper ballots, ink marked, hand counted
# public access to observe vote count
# instant runoff voting
# automatic voter registration upon turning 18
# publicly financed campaigns
# election day holiday, or voting on a weekend
# end redistricting by adopting full representation
The influence of the Coalition is essential because, as Ananda said, "We don't have a democracy until we have fair elections, and we don't have fair elections."
To get involved, you can contact Rady Ananda at email@example.com, or go to electionreform.meetup.com/join/?submit=1.