Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Berkeley Resolution to Restore Trust in U.S. Elections

The text of the Resolution is below the press release.

Berkeley is the First City in the Nation to Open Votergate.

Berkeley, California. December 17, 2004. The day after the electors cast their votes, half the speakers at the Berkeley City Council meeting expressed concern for democracy, given voter problems on Nov. 2 including minority and student vote suppression. By unanimous consent, the Berkeley City Council adopted the "Resolution Supporting the Request that the Government Accountability Office Immediately Undertake an Investigation of Voting Irregularities in the 2004 Elections." Drafted by Berkeley's Peace and Justice Commission, the Resolution also lists 17 measures to improve elections.

Outgoing Vice Mayor and civil rights champion Maudelle Shirek agrees with District 3's newly elected Max Anderson that "It's extremely important for the foundations of our democracy that every citizen's vote is counted. Fraud or manipulation, whether not counting votes or suppression of voters, should be of vital concern to all."

Councilmember Kriss Worthington stated, "Politically, technologically and bureaucratically, undemocratic forces have stopped America from counting every vote. We must demand justice for purged voters, provisional voters and discouraged voters forced to stand in line for hours. As the United States risks our soldiers' lives to invade Iraq to 'spread democracy' it is tragically incomplete at home."

Sociologist Harry Brill spoke of his poll to determine the number of Ohio voters disenfranchised due to long waits. Ann Fagan Ginger of the Meiklejohn Civil Liberties Institute will include the Resolution in "Challenging U.S. Human Rights Violations Since 9/11" to be published by Prometheus Books on March 30.

" directed, I created the vote fraud software prototype," swore computer programmer Clint Curtis in a Dec. 6 affidavit, quoted by Peace and Justice Commissioner PhoeBe ANNE (sorgen) at the meeting. Mr. Curtis testified under penalty of perjury that Tom Feeney, Florida Speaker of the House, wanted "a voting program that could alter the vote tabulation in an election and be undetectable." She also quoted Congressman Conyers, ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee, "...efforts to audit poll records in Ohio are being obstructed by County Election officials and/or Ohio Secretary of State Blackwell...such an action appears to violate Ohio law." Commissioner sorgen made the connection with the Resolution opposing corporate constitutional "rights" that the City Council adopted in June. "Corporate dominance is both the reason for and the means to stolen elections."

A video of the meeting may be seen on the City Council’s website.
The Resolution may be read at
Bloomington, Indiana passed a similar Resolution the following night.

Home of the Free Speech Movement, Berkeley often tackles injustices. After hearing the citizens, Mayor Tom Bates proclaimed, "Nothing is more fundamental than a free, fair election. When you start tinkering with that, it throws the whole system into disarray. I am pleased that we are taking this stand." The Council then adopted the Resolution by unanimous consent.


RESOLUTION to Restore Trust in United States Elections
(and Supporting the Request that the Government Accountability Office Immediately Undertake an Investigation of Voting Irregularities in the 2004 Elections)

WHEREAS, Berkeley Municipal Code Section 3.68, establishing the Peace and Justice Commission, states that the Commission shall "(A) Advise the Berkeley City Council on all matters relating to the City of Berkeley's role in issues of peace and social justice, including, but not limited to support for ... self-determination throughout the world; (B) Help create citizen awareness around issues of social justice; [and] (C) Help develop proposals for the City Council in furtherance of the goals of peace and justice, and help publicize such actions in the community"; and

WHEREAS, Representative Barbara Lee, in calling for a swift and comprehensive investigation of widespread reports regarding voting irregularities during the presidential election of 2004, has stated: "The right to vote and the right to have our votes counted are both fundamental to our democratic system of government. As elected representatives of the people, we hold a sacred responsibility to every voter across this nation to ensure that their vote is counted and recorded properly. We cannot, and we should not, accept any flaws in our election process"; and

WHEREAS, Senator Dianne Feinstein, responding to a Berkeley resident's inquiries, wrote in August 2004: "I strongly believe that any violation of civil rights during the 2000 Presidential election, or any election, for that matter, must be fully investigated," and wrote November 16, 2004: "As it became clear in recent elections, inadequate voting mechanisms can be detrimental to the integrity of our electoral process"; and

WHEREAS, numerous voters in minority neighborhoods in various parts of the country were disenfranchised; and

WHEREAS, Dr. Michael Hout, a nationally renowned expert on statistical research, and a team of graduate students at the University of California-Berkeley have published statistical analyses strongly suggesting that irregularities in electronic voting machines in Florida may have awarded 260,000 excess votes to George W. Bush from three counties that used touchscreen voting; and

WHEREAS, paid hackers (specialists in breaking through computer security) had little trouble casting multiple votes and taking over machines' vote-recording mechanisms in a Maryland study, showing convincingly that more security is needed for electronic voting, including voter-verified paper trails; Stanford University computer scientist and founder of David Dill said the risk of a stolen election is "extremely high"; and University of Pennsylvania researcher Dr. Steven Freeman demonstrated that deviations between exit-poll predictions and vote tallies in the three critical battleground states could not have occurred by chance, concluding, "That so many people suspect misplay undermines not only the legitimacy of the President, but faith in the foundations of democracy"; and

WHEREAS, more than 53,000 persons have petitioned the United States Congress for an open hearing on these issues and, if needed, remedies, potentially including a nationwide audit, recount, or new election;

NOW THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Council of the City of Berkeley supports the request of United States Representatives Barbara Lee, John Conyers, Jr., Jerrold Nadler, Robert Wexler, Robert C. Scott, Melvin Watt, Rush Holt and several others "that the Government Accountability Office immediately undertake an investigation of the efficacy of voting machines and new technologies used in the 2004 elections, how election officials responded to difficulties they encountered, and what we can do in the future to improve our election systems and administration."

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Council of the City of Berkeley directs the City Manager to send a letter to the City's representatives on the Alameda County Board of Supervisors, in the State Legislature, and in Congress expressing Berkeley's endorsement of the following measures to improve access to and fairness of elections:

1. Democracy Day, a holiday for voting, or moving elections to weekends.

2. Early voting in all jurisdictions throughout the United States.

3. A voter-verifiable paper record of every vote cast.

4. Consistent national standards for security, including physical and electronic security, of election systems, including tallying systems.

5. Mandatory, automatic recounts of a statistically significant percentage of votes cast.

6. Public access to computer coding that operates election systems so that such software may be widely reviewed by independent analysts.

7. Consistent national standards for the number of voting machines and poll workers per 100 voters in each precinct, to ensure reasonable and uniform waiting times for all voters.

8. A requirement that the top elected official responsible for overseeing elections in each jurisdiction be elected in a non-partisan race, and may not serve in any capacity in any political campaign other than her or his own.

9. Uniform and inclusive voter registration standards.

10. Accurate and transparent voting roll purges, based on fair and consistent national standards.

11. Uniform, reliable and voter-friendly standards for development, distribution, collection, and counting of provisional ballots.

12. National standards for ballots that are consistently clear and minimize likelihood of voter error.

13. Fair and uniform rules regarding requiring voters to produce identification to register or vote.

14. Protections to prevent minority vote suppression such as Election Day challengers turning away qualified voters or needless slowing of voting in minority precincts.

15. In all jurisdictions, rescinding laws that disproportionately disenfranchise minorities, such as prohibitions on allowing former felons to vote once they have completed their sentences.

16. Consistent, national standards for distribution and return of absentee ballots to ensure timely receipt of ballots by the voters, timely return of voted ballots to election officials, and voter privacy.

17. Requiring that sample ballots be provided to all registered voters in every election.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Council of the City of Berkeley directs the City Manager to send copies of this Resolution to Alameda County Registrar of Voters Bradley Clark, California Secretary of State Kevin Shelley, California Senate Majority Leader Don Perata, California Assemblymember Loni Hancock, United States Representatives Barbara Lee and John Conyers, Jr., United States Senators Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein, and United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour.


For sources, see footnotes at: