Friday, January 25, 2008

Paper Ballots for New York

Excellent news this morning from Bo Lipari, the Director of New Yorkers for Verified Voting. "I'm pleased to announce that after five years of hard work on the part of voting integrity advocates, New York State has rejected DREs and approved only the Automark and the Sequoia ImageCast scanner/marker for use in 2008 polling places. This momentous decision by the State Board of Elections virtually guarantees that New York State will vote on paper ballots and ballot scanners when it finally replaces lever machines in 2009." Many thanks to Bo and his wife Susanne, and to the many other activists across the state such as Susan and Gray Multer, for their five years of hard work to address the deficiencies of DRE's and encourage our election commissioners to choose paper ballot voting systems.

Who Decides Who’ll Be Allowed on TV Debates?

Yesterday's San Francisco Chronicle highlights the significance of the Nevada Supreme Court's very troubling ruling allowing a cable network to exclude Dennis Kucinich from a Democratic presidential debate, Who Decides Who’ll Be Allowed on TV Debates? by Bob Egelko.

The article notes that the ruling "constituted the strongest judicial statement yet of news organizations’ near-absolute power to control participation in pre-election forums - including the debates scheduled in California next week in advance of the state’s Feb. 5 primary. Broadcasters’ right to exclude candidates they consider marginal has been established at least since a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in a 1998 case involving a state-owned television station in Arkansas that had excluded a congressional candidate from a debate." Click here for the rest of the article.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

My Letter to Steuben County Board of Elections

Dear Steuben County Election Commissioners,

I am writing to urge you to choose ballot marking devices that are
compatible with paper ballot optical scan voting systems. Please do not
choose devices compatible with Direct Recording Electronic (DRE) systems.

As you know, the New York State Board of Elections requires county
election commissioners to select the ballot marking devices they will
use by February 8, 2008. Your choice in this matter will decide the
long-term future for how votes are counted in Steuben County. Please
protect election integrity in Steuben County by choosing devices that
are compatible with paper ballot optical scan voting systems.

Kucinich Refused to Debate Opponent in 2006

I am disappointed to see on the web that Dennis Kucinich refused to debate his opponent in the Democratic primary in 2006, Opponent Interrupts Summit After Kucinich Skips Debate. In order to have free and fair elections, candidates need to participate in debates with their opponents.

Who is Looking Out for the Voters?

The New York Times reports, NBC Wins Battle Over Debate, that the Nevada Supreme Court overruled the district court judge and decided that MSNBC was not required to include candidate Dennis Kucinich in its Democratic presidential debate last night. The Times report says that the victory "will likely be described as a First Amendment victory by [MSNBC], as lawyers for NBC had argued that it had a right, as a privately owned network, to determine whom to invite to the debate. " If so, it is an odd interpretation of the First Amendment. It is an interpretation that allows gigantic news corporations using the public airways to restrict the public's access to information about candidates. The network was explicit in claiming the right to determine who is a viable candidate. But it is the voters who must be allowed this right, not the network corporations.

As John Nichols noted in his ironic article in the Nation, NBC Battles To Keep Kucinich Out of Las Vegas Debate, NBC went court to fight for "the cherished right of television networks to decide who is and who is not a legitimate candidate for president. . . . [M]ajor media conglomerates have traditionally been able to police the parameters of presidential politics. Any affront to this order of affairs is a threat to the ability of corporations to define the American discourse." Nichols concludes that Kucinich’s lawyers " have fewer resources, but are possessed of one commodity that the broadcast and cable network seem to lack: an understanding that democracy is best served by free and open debate." We agree.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Nevada Judge Rules Kucinich Must Be Allowed to Participate in Debate, NBC Appeals

Huffington Post reports that NBC News said Monday it will appeal a judge's ruling rather than include Democratic presidential hopeful Dennis Kucinich in a candidates' debate in Nevada.

Hours earlier, Senior Clark County District Court Judge Charles Thompson ruled that Kucinich, an Ohio congressman, must be allowed to participate. If he is excluded, Thompson said he would issue an injunction to stop the televised debate. Thompson called it a matter of fairness and said Nevada voters will benefit by hearing from more than just top contenders Hillary Rodham Clinton, Barack Obama and John Edwards.

Ironically, the network and the Democratic Party have promoted the debate as a chance for the candidates to be questioned about issues from Nevada's minority communities.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Green Presidential Debate Videos

Opening statements from the Green Party presidential debate on Jan. 13 are on YouTube at Coverage of the debates by KTVU in San Francisco is at

800 Attend Green Party Presidential Debate Jan. 13 in San Francisco

The San Francisco Chronicle reported that 800 people attended the first Green Party presidential debate of 2008 held in San Francisco on Jan. 13. Candidates Cynthia McKinney, Jared Ball, Kent Mesplay, Kat Swift and Jesse Johnson participated in a debate moderated by Cindy Sheehan and KPFA radio host Aimee Allison. Bay Area elected officials who are Green Party members - including Richmond Mayor Gayle McLaughlin, San Francisco Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi and San Francisco Board of Education member Mark Sanchez - also spoke. Ralph Nader, the 2000 Green Party presidential nominee who has yet to announce his intentions for 2008, was scheduled to participate in the debate, but he did not. Instead, he addressed the crowd after the debate concluded. Two segments of the debate are now on YouTube, one features Cynthia McKinney, the other features Jesse Johnson and Jared Ball. It is to be hoped that other segments of the debate will be posted soon.

Green Party Sues to Overturn Mich Law that Allows only GOP and Dems to See Voter Lists

There is no justification in a democracy for a law like this.

ACLU sues over voter lists from primary
Law lets only GOP, Democratic Party see names

January 11, 2008, by David Ashenfelter, Detroit Free Press

The ACLU of Michigan filed a federal lawsuit in Detroit today on behalf of three political parties to overturn a new law that enables the Democratic and Republican parties – but no one else – from obtaining lists of people who will vote on Tuesday’s presidential primary.

“It’s not our intention to stop the primary,” Michigan ACLU director Kary Moss said Friday after the suit was filed in U.S. District Court. “Instead, it is our contention that the state cannot lawfully limit access to this information to the two major political parties. The consequence of this law is to exclude individuals and parties from meaningful participation in the process.”

The ACLU filed the lawsuit on behalf of the Green, Libertarian and Reform parties of Michigan, the Metro Times and Winning Strategies, a political consulting firm. The new law, passed last August, doesn’t require Michigan voters to register by party, so the party in which residents will cast votes on Tuesday is valuable to political parties, candidates, journalists and citizen groups that support or oppose ballot proposals, the ACLU said. The law says anyone other than the two parties who uses a “secret” record could be issued a 93-day, $1,000 misdemeanor.

Moss said the statute gives the major political parties an unfair advantage and violates the Equal Protection Clause and 14th Amendment to the Constitution. The case is assigned to U.S. District Judge Nancy Edmunds. No hearings have been scheduled. The suit asks Edmunds to declare the law unconstitutional and prohibit the Michigan Secretary of State from carrying out the law’s provisions.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Exclusion of Candidates from Democratic and Republican Primary Debates is Undemocratic

Greens have watched with sympathy and frustration the exclusion of major party candidates expressing anti-war views from the primary debates sponsored by national news media. Their exclusion highlights the narrowness of the political dialogue allowed by the national media, and raises extremely significant issues regarding the democracy of elections in this country. GP-US has issued a press release protesting the exclusion of Kucinich, Gravel, and Paul from the primary debates.

The release notes that the first Green presidential candidates' debate is set for San Francisco on Sunday, January 13. All announced Green presidential candidates will participate in the debate, and unannounced candidate Ralph Nader will be a special guest. The debate will be moderated by Cindy Sheehan.

Greens Protest the Exclusion of Antiwar Candidates from Democratic and Republican Primary Debates

For Immediate Release: Tuesday, January 8, 2008

WASHINGTON, DC -- Green Party leaders and candidates protested the exclusion of Dennis Kucinich, Mike Gravel, and Ron Paul from primary presidential debates sponsored by major news organizations.

Greens noted that Mr. Kucinich, Mr. Gravel, and Mr. Paul hold strong positions against the Iraq war and other Bush policies, in agreement with most Americans but contrary to the positions of other Democrats and Republicans running for the White House.

Mr. Kucinich, like the Green Party, favors single-payer national health care, unlike his fellow Democratic presidential candidates and the major media, which rely on corporate campaign contributions and advertising dollars from insurance firms, HMOs, and pharmaceutical manufacturers. Mr. Kucinich was excluded from an ABC TV debate on January 5.

The six candidates for the Green Party's presidential nomination, all of whom oppose the war, will be featured in upcoming Green debates. The first debate will take place in San Francisco on January 13. The nomination will be decided at the Green Party's 2008 national convention, July 10-13 in Chicago.

Jody Grage, treasurer of the Green Party of the United States: "In democratic elections, voters have a right to be informed about all the candidates whose names they'll see on the ballot. Fox and ABC TV have violated the public interest and their licenses to use the publicly owned airwaves. They're acting like the official news bureaus of dictatorships."

Jason Wallace, peace activist, Iraq War veteran, and Green candidate for Congress in Illinois (11th district): "It's no accident that Kucinich, Gravel, and Paul -- the most vocal opponents of the Iraq invasion -- are getting shut out of the debates. While the Democratic and Republican parties and big media conglomerates try to close down serious public discussion over the Iraq war, the Green Party's 'Peace Slate' will continue to represent the opinion of most Americans, whom poll after poll have shown oppose the war. On Election Day 2008, the only truly antiwar candidates on the ballot will be from the Green Party or another third party or will be independent."

Rodger Jennings, Green candidate for Congress in Illinois (12th District): "The Democratic and Republican parties and media companies like Fox and ABC have censored the opinions of the majority of Americans, who want to see a quick end to the Iraq War. It's revealing that Barack Obama and Mike Huckabee won in Iowa. Among the frontrunners within their respective parties, they've been the most critical of President Bush's foreign policies. But Mr. Huckabee has only criticized the Bush Administration's strategic blunders in Iraq, rather the war itself. While Mr. Obama has opposed the war, he only favors a vague and delayed timetable for partial withdrawal of troops, which suggests that the occupation will continue in some form regardless of which Democratic frontrunner might be elected in November. Mr. Obama has also added his voice to the military threat against Iran, and says nothing about holding the Bush Administration and war profiteers accountable for their crimes. Unfortunately, voters are being denied the chance to hear the real antiwar candidates and are being told that Dennis Kucinich, Mike Gravel, and Ron Paul shouldn't be taken seriously."

John Walsh, Massachusetts Green-Rainbow Party delegate to the Green Party's National Committee: "In recent elections, the Commission on Presidential Debates, the corporate-owned body controlled by the two established parties, has only allowed Democratic and Republican presidential candidates and has barred Green, independent, and other candidates from participating. We urge all Americans -- especially those who oppose bipartisan warhawk policies on Iraq, Afghanistan, and Iran -- to speak out in demand of fair elections and election coverage, and inclusion of all qualified candidates in the debates, regardless of their positions or party memberships."

Monday, January 07, 2008

Kucinich Protests Outside NH Democratic Debate That Excluded Him

This video from the Alternet website shows footage of Kucinich outside the ABC debates in New Hampshire. The narrator of the video and Kucinich each make excellent points about why ABC and Facebook, the sponsors of the debate, would exclude a candidate who met their test for inclusion (Kucinich scored over 5% in Facebook's own presidential poll).

Third party candidates are not the only candidates being excluded from debates. The recent exclusion of Dennis Kucinich from the ABC debates and of Ron Paul from the Fox debates shows that candidates seeking to operate within the dominant parties are being excluded when they seek to offer alternative ideas to the electorate. Kucinich and Paul are each presenting an anti-war platform.