National Rally for Voter Verified Paper Trails

Yesterday, Common Cause joined Rep. Rush Holt (D-NJ) and other election reform advocates at a Capitol Hill rally to support legislation requiring computerized voting machines to have a voter verified paper trail to provide a reliable method to recount votes. Ed Davis, Common Cause’s vice president for policy and research, was among a handful of staffers who accompanied Common Cause President Chellie Pingree to the event, where she was a featured speaker. Here’s Ed’s report:

Common Cause interns at the rally, June 22, 2004.

The rally/press conference near the US Capitol yesterday was a great event, a crowd packing the Cannon Terrace, six cameras and other press, several Members of Congress giving short, energetic speeches and several groups represented by their leaders and 150-200 activists.

A highlight was the brief but compelling remarks by Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) who declared he was not about to let his vote be taken away by a machine after laying his body on the line for the right to vote. Lewis, for those who don’t know, was one of the civil rights activists who led the march across the Edmund Pettis bridge into Selma, Alabama in the 1965 and was met by state troopers who attacked Lewis and the other marchers with truncheons, dogs and other weapons.

Common Cause was represented by many of our regular volunteers and our interns, carrying many hand-made signs later featured on CNN. One intern donned the Computer At My Vote costume and stood in the hot sun behind the speakers — thanks to True Majority for boxing it up and sending it to us in time for the rally.

Common Cause president Chellie Pingree spoke at the rally, remarking, as others did, that this issue is raised at every meeting or speech she goes to around the country. She urged Congress to act quickly on the Holt bill, pointing out that there is plenty of time – “after all, when there was a ‘wardrobe malfunction’ Congress and passed in record time a bill banning indecency on the airwaves.”

The press conference was MC’ed by paper trail hero Rep. Rush Holt (D-NJ) – in addition to Lewis, speakers included Rep’s. Marci Kaptur (D-OH), Jan Schakowski (D-IL), Robert Wexler (D-FL) and Jay Inslee (D-WA – Microsoft’s district). Democracy for America delivered petitions and there were speakers from Verified Voting (Pam Smith) and Rock the Vote (Hans Reimer). True Majority, Move On were also present (hope I did not miss someone).