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Election Summit and Conference held in Ohio, with assistance of Brennan Center for Justice

Written by Kimberly. Note, I posted a similar piece at Independent Political Report where I write. But, since IPR is a “news site” where I am part of a team, I was much more reserved in my opinions. Here is where it all hangs out…

Common Dreams News Wire posted a press release about the “Election Summit and Conference” convened by Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner in Ohio. It’s purpose was to reflect on the 2008 election in Ohio and reforms for 2009.

The conference could be a useful model for election reform in that the government brought in the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law and other non-partisan experts. And, the report speaks of stakeholders and consensus.

Though, it should be noted that it is lauded as “bipartisan”, even though some of the issues at stake were in regards to minor party (ie: multi-partisan) issues. It is a pet peeve of mine that some people say “bipartisan”, and assume that means fair or objective. Bipartisan means that the Democratic and Republic leadership are colluding together in a room somewhere. Bipartisanship means expressly leaving out: all independent or unaffiliated voters, all third parties and their members, and, actually any consideration of the rights or needs of people not registered to vote. Bipartisanship is inclusive of a very small segment of the population.

It must have been akward for the Brennan Center representative to preside over a governmental summit such as this. I think of the tug of war between the Bush administration and scientists in the EPA. Though, I hope it wasn’t that polarized in this case. I respect Lawrence Norden of the Brennan Center from trying to insert reason into the process, and giving a report which hints at what could have been done better. Below is a pull quote of reserved from praise from Norden, who is senior counsel at the Brennan Center for Justice and Chair of the 2008 Ohio Election Summit:

“Secretary Brunner had tremendous foresight in calling together such a broad group of experts to review the 2008 election and provide recommendations for improving future elections. I hope the summit and conference will serve as a model to Secretaries of State across the country,” says Norden. “While there is still much work to be done in Ohio, I also hope that this document will set the stage for even better election policies and practices in Ohio in the future.”

(excerpt from) Common Dreams News Wire
Brennan Center Releases Report on Brunner’s Historic Election Summit
Bipartisan group reaches consensus on framework for reform for Ohio Elections

NEW YORK – April 8 – Today Lawrence Norden, senior counsel at the Brennan Center for Justice and Chair of the 2008 Ohio Election Summit, releases his final report on the historic Election Summit and Conference convened by Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner in December 2008 and March 2009. The final report finds broad consensus among bipartisan election experts on priorities for election reform in Ohio in 2009.

The Summit and Conference covered a wide range of issues, from ballot access for minor parties to campaign finance enforcement to voting technology. There was broad agreement that some issues cried out for immediate action. Among those were:

* early voting timeframe and procedures;
* the statewide voter registration database;
* provisional voting and voter ID laws;
* poll worker recruitment and training; and
* post-election audits

…The report provides a useful model to anyone in Ohio, or elsewhere, who is interested in crafting a consensus-based elections policy that springs from systematic factual analysis and takes into account difference perspectives on voting and elections.

“The conclusions in this document are based on factual data and public discussion among experts, not on ideology. That’s what made consensus possible,” says Norden. “We solicited feedback from the experts with real knowledge about how elections work, especially in Ohio. Even though they have very different ideologies and professional perspectives, they agree on a lot about how to improve Ohio’s elections.”

Click here to read release from the Ohio Association of Election Officials.

For more information or to set up an interview with Lawrence Norden, please contact Jeanine Plant-Chirlin at 212-999-6289 or 646-265-7721 or jeanine.plant-chirlin at nyu dot edu.

The Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law is a non-partisan public policy and law institute that focuses on fundamental issues of democracy and justice. Our work ranges from voting rights to redistricting reform, from access to the courts to presidential power in the fight against terrorism.

(KW: The Brennan Center was a great help to the Green Party in New York State in representing them pro bono in a case to make petitioning rules for candidates more fair. The case was won. The Brennan Center is very non-partisan, and they were careful to work towards level the playing field for all third parties in New York. Please check them out: here.)

One Response

  1. That was the old Brennan Center. They mean bi-partisan. As in if you hug my elephant, i’l kiss your —. The Brennan Center has become very pro-corporate party and anti-third party. They are even backing the same phony campaign finance bill as Common Cause that sets up an apartheid system in favor the corporate parties.

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