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Members of Congress Call for an End to Voter Suppression

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posted on May, 1 2016 @ 08:05 PM

Congressional briefings are typically dull affairs, usually with only a few dozen participants, but it was standing room only in a House Judiciary Committee hearing room on April 21, when nine members of Congress, their staff and 200 activists gathered to address the present crisis in US democracy: voter suppression and the manipulation of US elections.


I admit, the current state of politics make me want to vomit. I find both sides absolutely disgraceful, resorting to negative smear tactics to make themselves look better by comparison than running on a positive platform of altruism. The media is manipulating the vote, as they always have been and some feel that enough is enough.

In 2016 - the first presidential election since the US Supreme Court's gutting of the Voting Rights Act - a slew of new malicious laws and tactics are disenfranchising millions of Americans, even as the private control of US vote-counting technology has come under renewed scrutiny in a primary season marked by allegations of fraud and election rigging.

This high-stakes, emotionally charged election cycle has seen widespread closure of polling locations, unprecedented voter roll purges, voting machine failures and extreme waiting lines that cause countless voters to turn away without having cast a ballot. Many have been given "provisional" ballots that are simply not counted. Irregularities in Arizona, North Carolina, Wisconsin and New York have engendered intraparty accusations and lawsuits, exposing a dysfunctional and often undemocratic election process.

The nine members of Congress who spoke, all from predominantly minority districts, loudly condemned the "new Jim Crow" laws that have been forced on over half the states in the US, and which the lawmakers believe were designed to deliberately suppress voters in their districts, particularly people of color, the poor, the elderly and students.

The briefing was sponsored by the National Election Defense Coalition and the Transformative Justice Coalition to help garner support and express the need for new legislation.

They’re calling for a fusion movement to protect democracy, restore voting rights and to ensure that every ballot cast is counted in a secure, public and transparent way. Anyone with half a brain should be able to see what’s been happening and though I have reserved my vote for better days, others will not.

It’s sad to think how much rope we’ve given these corrupt politicians and after already hanging themselves, they’re those still willing to prop them up. Strength in numbers is what will bring down the house and is the main reason why they keep us divided.

Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Georgia) brought much needed attention to a crucial aspect of the election crisis: the aging, hackable voting technology used nationwide. Johnson cited the fact that the vote-counting software in these machines is still programmed by a cadre of private companies on proprietary software inaccessible to elections officials and the public.

The Brennan Center for Justice recently reported that the current American voting system is falling apart, especially after the “process” had been bought with $3.9 billion in funds allocated by Congress in the Help America Vote Act.

Rep. Hank Johnson states: "How many of you believe that we should be using a touch-screen voting machine that is 10 years old, operating on year 2000 technology and software, with no security upgrades available for more than a decade?" I don't know, good question!

Johnson touched on the concerns of both voters and candidates in this election season when he discussed the well-known vulnerability of these voting systems to internal error, fraud and outsider hacking -- claims supported by top computer scientists and cybersecurity experts from MIT, Princeton, the US Department of Energy's Argonne National Labs and many others whose warnings have largely been unheeded.

For those who think this is just another partisan ruse, the NAACP even showed up to lend it’s support against the potential for abuse and what the group is describing as obvious voter suppression.

The partisan control of voting technology has been a longstanding concern of Prof. Robert Fitrakis, Ph.D. and J.D., who testified on the widely contested 2000 election, which was marked by voter suppression of people of color, and on his involvement as a lawyer in contesting the 2004 elections, in which the computer architecture of election night was in the hands of far-right-wing partisan companies and election officials.

"The most dangerous thing in our democracy right now is the fact that partisan, for-profit corporations using secret proprietary software provide the voting hardware and the software to register us to vote, count our votes and report election results," Fitrakis said.

"I want to know why these private companies who are not using open-source software are counting our votes, registering our votes and then doing the central tabulation.”

Over a week ago, Rep. Hank Johnson introduced the Verifying Optimal Tools for Elections Act of 2016, which will call for state-controlled, open-source programming of all voting technology, as well as provide more than $125 million in Help America Vote Act grants to assist states in replacing current voting machines.

Congress also hopes to pass the Voting Rights Advancement Act, which has more than 150 co-sponsors in the House and bipartisan support in the senate. It would push to restore the Voting Rights Act and help bring security and transparency back to the American people and their votes.

Of course, there are those who are skeptical, which is always helpful to balance out the discussion, but there is a fog of war developing around us making it difficult to place blame. It's time we get to the bottom of things.

"We must emphatically ask the politicians that brought us these new Jim Crow laws to show us the fraud," stated Joel Segal, legislative director of the National Election Defense Coalition and a former staff member for Representative Conyers.

He cited a Washington Post report showing that a comprehensive investigation of voter impersonation found only 31 credible incidents of so-called "voter fraud" out of 1 billion ballots cast in the United States.

I’m not sure if I believe those numbers as the accusations are very hard to prove. Regardless, there is no reason why these proposals shouldn’t be in place. It's common sense.

edit on 1-5-2016 by eisegesis because: (no reason given)

posted on May, 1 2016 @ 08:05 PM

The keynote presenter, Rev. William Barber II, president of the North Carolina NAACP, and leader of the Moral Mondays protest movement, described the avalanche of voter suppression laws unleashed in North Carolina immediately after the Supreme Court gutted Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act.

Barber also helped lead the Democracy Awakening protests that took place outside Congress on April 18, and saw civil rights organizations, unions, social justice groups and environmentalists all standing together to demand the restoration of voting rights and election campaign finance safeguards.

This "inside-outside strategy" embodied in twin actions -- focusing on official congressional actions and grassroots direct action -- is the strategy that Martin Luther King Jr. and other civil rights activists employed to transform the political landscape a generation ago. To save democracy, it's important to both take to the streets and take to the Hill.

I thought Hillary already had all the “black votes” in the bag, as many are more inclined to side with a panderer than anyone who wants them treated as equal as the rest of society. It’s nice to see all demographics coming together in attempt to restore any shred of democracy we have left.

Many members of Congress articulated the need to translate widespread outrage about election manipulation into an actionable voting rights agenda that protects the coming general election, and all future elections.

It is clear that accomplishing that goal will require a political grassroots movement similar to the suffrage and civil rights movements that expanded the vote franchise in the last century.

Conyers noted with pleasure that the crowd at the hearing was marked by racial diversity, which he said would be needed to support a broad-based movement to restore democracy to US elections.

Congressional staff and organizers are planning a series of hearings and town hall meetings across the nation to help give a voice to citizens who were not allowed to vote in the 2016 primaries for whatever stupid reason and will hopefully be joined by the rest of America.

In conclusion, there is a serious undermining of the power of the American vote and many people are waking up to it. I hope the lid gets blown off and the worms of Washington are finally exposed for who they really are. I understand my attempt to share this information may not have been the most tactful, but here it is. Real people trying to make a difference. Get involved and show your support.

edit on 1-5-2016 by eisegesis because: (no reason given)

posted on May, 1 2016 @ 08:08 PM
a reply to: eisegesis

Specifically what voter suppression is happening

posted on May, 1 2016 @ 08:15 PM
The Chicago voting system might be able to give some advice.

They always let everybody vote who wants to.

posted on May, 1 2016 @ 08:31 PM
a reply to: avgguy

For example:

edit on 5/1/16 by BlueAjah because: added link

posted on May, 1 2016 @ 08:32 PM
a reply to: eisegesis

Wow is right.
I really hope that some change comes from this.
Voting is one of our most important rights. It is how we should be able support and keep all of our other rights and freedoms.
People need to be able to trust that everything about it is fair.

posted on May, 1 2016 @ 11:23 PM

Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Georgia) brought much needed attention to a crucial aspect of the election crisis: the aging, hackable voting technology used nationwide.

Is that THIS guy ?

Give me a break.

ALWAYS someone crying about 'voter suppression'

Ole Hank ain't very credible.

posted on May, 2 2016 @ 12:10 AM
a reply to: neo96

ALWAYS someone crying about 'voter suppression'

It could just mean that both sides use the same tactics to deny people their vote.

Techniques of Direct Disenfranchisement, 1880-1965

Though much of that has changed, this new bill is only looking to bolster the current system and help restore voter confidence.

My bill, the Verifying Optimal Tools for Elections Act of 2016, otherwise known as the VOTE Act, would allocate millions of dollars to assist States in replacing these aging voting machine dinosaurs. The VOTE Act would also allocate millions of dollars in grants to assist in developing new technologies to assure accuracy in the voting process, to protect voting machine source codes from being hacked, and to train election officials. The aim of the VOTE Act is simple: the safeguarding of elections by ensuring the very integrity of the voting process, while protecting access to the ballot box.

Ole Hank ain't very credible.

Don't act like he's the only one standing in the room. Problem solved. I can't see why you would have a problem with these proposals, regardless how you view him.

According to a study by New York University School of Law’s Brennan Center for Justice: “43 states will use electronic voting machines that are at least 10 years old, perilously close to the end of most systems’ expected lifespan. Old voting equipment increases the risk of failures and crashes — which can lead to long lines and lost votes on Election Day — and problems only get worse the longer we wait."

Old systems are easy to hack into. I'm sure if cheaters lost the ability to physically manipulate the vote, they would damn sure find a way to do it electronically. Why is electronic voting being used at all? To save a few trees? It's a form of control, pure and simple.

edit on 2-5-2016 by eisegesis because: (no reason given)

posted on May, 2 2016 @ 09:20 AM
a reply to: eisegesis

It seems to me that there's really two issues here. One is voter suppression and the Democrat claim that the I.D. requirement accomplishes this. (personally, I think this is a silly argument, but I won't go into that).

The other is vote fraud and that has to do with the machines and the people who tabulate the votes. Based upon a report I heard from an expert on Coast to Coast AM radio, there are numerous problems attendant with the machines, but in reality, the big hole in the system is the people. Like it or not, the people running the elections are partisan and have a vested interest in the outcome and they are, according to the report, refusing public scrutiny of their vote tabulations on privacy grounds. As far as I'm concerned, I no longer trust Americans to count the votes and without independent international observation and verification of the counting process along with a mandate for a verifiable paper trail for audit purposes, there's no "fix" to this system.

Of course, one could argue that with a system that produces such low quality candidates in the first place, the "vote" is no longer of much importance.

posted on May, 2 2016 @ 09:36 AM
Ever since 'computers' and 'going digital' became the new ' normal' 18 years ago, I've been amazed at how few businesses or organizations still keep hard copy methods around. I used to work at a flower shop, where we had deliveries scheduled for every day.

The whole system was paper forms, pen and ink, write up the order. Then they switched - on the fly - to a computer-based platform. The day we were shown the new computers and software (remember, this was back in 1998 - clunky DOS-based stuff was the norm - windows was new) I asked where the owner would like us to keep the paper backup copies.

He said, and I quote: "Oh, you won't need those anymore! We have the computers!"

I was astounded. It seemed to go without saying that crashes, power outages, lost data, corrupted files etc were to be expected. I've been working on 'computers' since 1976, when we had mainframes and terminals that took forever to boot up, and only one terminal at a time could be functioning. Wait your turn, basically. (Strangely, the same sort of system was STILL in place at the Hyatt where I worked 30 years later!) The thing would crash, and we'd have to reload ALL of the data from actual "floppy discs" (the 5.25" kind that were actually floppy film protected in semi-rigid plastic sleeves) from a tool-box type case. Had to back it up every night onto floppies, too.

The way voting should be done is on PAPER - with HAND COUNTING. And recounting. Count the number of people coming in, check it against the number of voting slips - count it up, count it again. Like money - the tellers count the stuff over and over. Checks and double checks. Hell, the first task would be dividing them up into piles....

throw Donald's votes in basket D, Hillary's in basket H, Bernie's in basket B, etc. -
then someone else counts them, and someone else again counts them.
Accuracy. The balance sheet has to add up to the total number of bodies who entered the polling place.

This is not hard. Third graders could manage it!!!

But computers? Yeah - whatever. I just can't wait til the whole grid goes down or the satellites are hit by missiles or asteroids - and then most of the world will be standing there looking up at the dark sky wondering what the hell to do.
Some of them will even be trapped in basement buildings in the pitch dark.

Stupid plan. Really stupid. Batteries won't last forever.
Paper and pen can.

posted on May, 2 2016 @ 10:24 AM
How is it possible to have transparent verified voting without voters having identification?

How would you as a voter have any clue or any way whatsoever to verify your vote was correct and counted if it was anonymous?

If you are against voter ID you are for voter fraud.

posted on May, 2 2016 @ 11:19 AM
They are NOT election!
they are Game Shows!
that are to discredit the opponents.

and most of the fools belive in them???

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