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La Pietra Working with County Clerks to Prepare for Analysis of Voting Conditions

A New York polling place, showing booths on th...

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Gathering Information on Precincts, Polling Places, Voter Counts to Be Ready When Citizens Send in Survey Responses After Election

Will Follow Up Early Next Week, Then Publicize Status of Counties’ Responses

Next, Will Ask for Lists of Official Write-In Candidates, Post on Website After Oct. 22 Filing Deadline to Make Elections Fairer, Better for Them and Voters

John Anthony La Pietra — the Green Party of Michigan’s candidate for
Secretary of State — has been sending out the news of his
voting-conditions survey for months to people across the state.  Last week, he focused on 83 people in every part of Michigan:  the county clerks.

He asked their offices for updated information identifying each precinct or absent-voter counting board (AVCB), where their polling places are, and how many voters are registered in each precinct.  And almost half have sent John information already — or promised to do it once last-minute registrations and changes are in the system.

John’s request to the clerks is posted on his campaign Website, at

http://members.triton.net/jalp/jalp4FBE_ltr2co-clks101004.pdf

It was dated October 4 — the last day for voters to register and still
be on the rolls at the polls on November 2.  But John knew that it might
take a while to get some of that information into Michigan’s Qualified
Voter File.  So he assured the clerks, “I understand that this is a busy
time for you — and I do not need your precinct list immediately, since
I plan to use it together with information I will be receiving from
voters on or after Election Day.

“Still, the sooner I do have your lists in hand, the better prepared I
can be when the survey responses come in,” he added.

John plans to give counties the rest of this week and part of next week
to finish gathering up their latest registration information and respond
to his request before posting a general status report on what responses
he has received from which counties.

A Positive Response from Clerks So Far — Mostly
————————————————
33 counties have already answered all three of John’s questions.  A few
more have pledged to send (or finish sending) him information at various
times before the election.  Some have sent partial or not-yet-updated
information, or links to where part or all of the information is already
posted online.

One county answered that it didn’t have any of the information itself,
and told John to contact the local clerks.  About a third of that
county’s cities and townships have responded so far.

Another county sent a list of precincts and their polling places, but
said that John would have to pay $25 and make two visits to the clerk’s
office to buy and pick up a data disc to get registered-voter counts for
those precincts.

John pointed out

* that the county would be gathering the information
itself to prepare for the election, so there was
no reason to charge for labor;

* that a data disc would only be necessary for an
actual list of the voters themselves, which
he wasn’t requesting; and

* that the results of the survey will be made public
and given to the winning candidate for Secretary
of State, so any fees could be waived anyway under
the Michigan Freedom of Information Act.

This county is now reportedly handling the request more formally through
its FOIA Coordinator.

Still Trying to Urge Voters to Report
on Their Local Voting Conditions, Too
————————————-
John has also been taking every campaign opportunity to invite voters to
join in the survey by observing their own precincts — “so we’ll have
the information we need to equip and staff polling places better, and
more fairly, giving us shorter lines and more time to vote.”

A printable page of John’s Survey of Voting Conditions is posted on his
campaign Website, at

http://members.triton.net/jalp/jalp4FBE_voting_conditions_survey.pdf

It asks voters who go to their polling places on November 2 to look
around — and notice and write down a few simple facts:

* How many voting stations, standing and sit-down,
the precinct has.  (And how many more would fit
in the polling place.)

* How many touch-screen voting machines there are.
(This refers to the AutoMARK systems made available
mostly for voters with disabilities, though anyone
may choose to use them.)

* How many vote-counting machines (or “tabulators”)
there are.

* How many poll-workers (“election inspectors”) there
are, and whether there’s any room for more workers.

* What time they went to vote, how long they stay at
the polling place, and how long voting itself takes
them.

* How long the lines are.

The survey page also has spaces for voters to report their city or
township, the number of their precinct, their polling place (and whether
or not it is shared with other precincts) — and, if they can find out
from their clerk or the poll-workers, the number of voters registered in
the precinct.

Since his October 4 letter to the county clerks, John has renewed that
invitation to the people

* at an AAUW candidate forum in Kingsford on the 7th;

* after a workshop on alternative voting methods
sponsored by the chapter of the ACLU at John’s
postgraduate alma mater, Cooley Law School,
yesterday; and

* in a telephone interview with Andy Robins of WMUK
in Kalamazoo today.

John also issued that invitation in a videorecorded “interview”
September 30 at Detroit Public Television (DPTV) for the MiVote.org
Website.  The videorecording has now been posted on MiVote’s page about
John’s campaign:

http://mivote.org/voterinfo/candidates/887

along with a brief introduction, contact information, and a link to his
campaign’s homepage:

http://members.triton.net/jalp/jalp4FBE.html

The DPTV interview questions were provided in advance; John’s prepared
answers are posted as part of the “Questionnaires and Answers” area of
his campaign Website, at

http://members.triton.net/jalp/jalp4FBE_Q+A_DPTV+MiVote.pdf

Helping the Voice of the People Express Itself Better —
Letting Voters Know Who They Can Write In and Have it Count
———————————————————–
John is going to write the county clerks again next week on another
subject, too.

4pm on Friday, October 22 is the deadline for anyone who wants to be an
official write-in candidate and have votes for him or her counted.  And
each precinct will get a list of write-in candidates who have filed the
paperwork to be official — they have to, in order to know which
write-in votes they have to count and which they don’t have to count.

But, under the current administration’s interpretation, the names on
those lists aren’t available to voters at the polls.  The list isn’t
posted next to the sample ballot — and even if you ask the election
inspectors at your polling place, they’re not allowed to tell you.  You
have to go to your local clerk’s office and ask *there*.  “And who gets
out of line to go do that?”  John asks rhetorically.

John believes this is unfair to those candidates — and it’s unfair to
deny voters full information about all of their choices.  So even before
he takes office, he’s going to do something about it.

He will send another Freedom of Information Act request to all of the
county clerks — and the Bureau of Elections — asking for the names of
all officially filed write-in candidates and the offices they are
running for.  All the information he gets back will be posted on his
campaign Website.  So will contact information for the counties — so
citizens can thank the offices that provided write-in lists, and make
their own inquiries to the ones that didn’t.

“Michigan’s elections need to be fairer and better for everyone,” John
argues.  “Especially the voters — we’re who elections are for.  And if
our elections officials are denying us public information about
legitimate candidates at precisely the time when we could use it, that’s
bad and unfair for everyone.

“It’s a clear example of protecting established parties and interests
against even the possibility of having to recognize a protest vote.  And
that’s the exact opposite of what an election is supposed to be — the
voice of the people, a chance for us to express what we want our
government to be.”

For more information on John’s other ideas for non-partisan
administration of fairer, better elections for the people, read his
“discussion paper” on that subject at

http://members.triton.net/jalp/jalp4FBE_disc_FBE4voters.pdf

2 Responses

  1. [...] La Pietra Working with County Clerks to Prepare for Analysis of Voting Conditions (www.onthewilderside.com) [...]

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