WASHINGTON -- December 9 -- More than 500 concerned citizens, activists and voting advocates braved rain in Washington on Tuesday to attend a daylong event sponsored by Common Cause and our coalition partners, the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights and The Century Foundation. The event highlighted the many voting problems that citizens experienced on Election Day. It was standing room only for most of the nine-hour discussion, which featured Members of Congress from both parties and seven panels of experts and advocates who spoke in detail about registration and absentee ballot problems, voter suppression and intimidation tactics and electronic voting machine issues, to mention only a few issues. Common Cause President Chellie Pingree moderated the non-partisan event, along with Wade Henderson, executive director of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights.
Activists, poll monitors and others traveled from as far as Florida and Ohio to listen and ask questions. Common Cause also used the event to release its first major report on its extensive election monitoring activities: "A Report from the voters: A first look at the 2004 election data." =
In fact, so many people wanted to attend this conference, but lived too far away to make the trip that Common Cause held a conference call after it was over for hundreds of activists who held 47 house parties across the country. Chellie was joined on the call by John Bonifaz, the founder and general counsel of the National Voting Rights Institute, answering questions about the day.
C-SPAN taped the entire event, but has not yet scheduled to air it. The Associated Press, the Miami Herald, the Los Angeles Times and National Public Radio were among the news organizations who covered it.
Members of Congress who spoke or visited the event included Rep. Rush Holt (D-NJ), Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD), Rep. Bob Ney (R-OH), Rep. John Larson (D-WA), Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA), Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) and Rep. Lois Capps (D-CA). Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT) sent a statement.
Featured panelists included Barbara Arnwine, executive director, Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights, Dr. Randy Brinson, chairman of Redeem the Vote, which works on registering evangelical Christians Jehmu Greene, president, Rock the Vote, Wade Henderson, executive director, the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, Ralph Neas, president, People for the American Way, Bob Pastor, director of the Center for Democracy and Election Management at American University, Leslie Reynolds, executive director of the National Association of Secretaries of State.
As always, if you have any comments and suggestions on our election reform agenda, please make sure to visit our blog and give us your feedback there.