WASHINGTON -- April 14 -- Scores of voting rights and electoral reform organizations nationwide have united to demand real electoral reform proposals from the private, blue ribbon, Baker/Carter Commission on Federal Election Reform. They are organizing a visible presence at 10:00 a.m. in front of the Kay Spiritual Center on the American University campus in Washington, D.C. where the Commission is planning what they call "public hearings."
These groups, including Code Pink, Progressive Democrats of America, U.P. (United Progressives) for Democracy and Velvet Revolution, are opposed to the inclusion in any form of James Baker III on the Commission. Baker was the lead attorney in Florida for the 2000 Bush/Cheney campaign which engineered Bush's selection as President by five Supreme Court justices.
The pro-democracy groups are also opposed to two other members of the Commission who have direct ties to Mr. Baker's law firm, Tom Phillips and Robert Mosbacher, and to Ralph Munro, CEO of VoteHere, a company that manufactures vote-counting machines.
On April 11, Congressman John Conyers, minority chair of the House Judiciary Committee, wrote a letter to Jimmy Carter expressing his concern about the inclusion of Mr. Baker and strongly urging that the Commission include members of the voting rights coalition.
The last two national elections here have been marred by irregularities that have called into question the legitimacy of the results. In 2004, there were literally tens of thousands of documented cases of impropriety that, in many cases, significantly affected the vote count. Over the past five months, grassroots electoral reform groups have joined together in a pro-democracy campaign calling for a range of reforms in order to restore integrity, trustworthiness and accountability to the elections process. Some of their demands include: a constitutional right to vote for all citizens, paper ballots as the official record of all votes cast, independent analysis of all vote machine software and hardware before and after elections, unified national standards for national elections, election day registration, independent and non-partisan administration of elections, a strengthening and reauthorization of the Voting Rights Act, public financing of elections and fair ballot access for all candidates and parties.
The pro-democracy coalition will hold a press conference outside the Kay Center following the conclusion of the "public hearing" at 2:30 p.m.