The Founder of Mainstreet Moms Explains Why She Aims to Restore Democracy, One Pollworker at a Time...
By Megan Matson on 10/1/2006, 11:05am PT  

Guest Blogged by Megan Matson of The Mainstreet Moms, Co-Founder of Pollworkers for Democracy

Pollworkers for Democracy (P4D) is a non-partisan, direct citizen action campaign built in response to broken elections and plummeting voter confidence. A coalition effort of Mainstreet Moms, VoteTrustUSA, Working Assets and many others, P4D taps into widespread election integrity concerns to recruit a new wave of informed - and observant - American pollworkers in the 2006 elections.

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A few of us started talking about pollworkers in the middle of yet another electronic voting machines hearing in California's capitol. A recalcitrant Registrar was saying, "You have to weigh the transparency across the process." This sounded a lot like "catapult the propaganda," so I listened more closely. "We have public scrutiny: the press is right there on Election Day," he continued. Ah, the press. Not quite the scrutiny we're looking for. "Every piece of information doesn't need to go out to the public," he finally concluded, in something close to a whine.

Sometime later, I sat listening to a leading member of the election integrity movement say to a roomful, "The biggest challenge we face is the closed nature of the election officials community." So how do we open this thing up, I wondered. What do these officials need? Lawsuits are heavenly, but there must be ways to be useful to the more valiant officials as well. Not just the Ions [Ion Sancho, Leon Co., FL] and the Freddies [Freddie Oakley, Yolo Co., CA] and the Funks [Bruce Funk, Emery Co., UT], but the officials we don't hear about. Can we get in there, become a new piece of that culture, help them get their elections back to good?

So then the news went around about the average age of the American pollworker topping 72. It became clear that it's pollworkers those officials can use, and it's clearly pollworkers who can bring in real scrutiny. They're the first to be blamed when all goes wrong. They should be the first to report out when the disasters have nothing to do with "human error."

Because much like the climate crisis, the debate over electronic voting machines is long over. They're an across-the-board calamity for democracy, and a fiscal albatross for local governments everywhere. Put the machines aside, and we're looking at aggressive legislative maneuvers to restrict the franchise in state after state, with that wretched Voter I.D. law now lurching through Congress as well. Citizens see these tactics piled on to the abiding injustices of intimidation, caging and suppression, and recognize a fundamental assault on the mechanics of democracy. "But what can we do?" is the question. We can do a lot, is the answer, and a day at the polls is a piece of it. It's time to be outside and inside, it's time to be the diagnosis and the solution.

The more pollworkers we can all recruit and train together, the more information can come out of their November 7th experiences. Any data collected will be used to better inform media outreach, legal challenges where necessary, and key election reforms at the local, state and federal level. Pollworker observations will also be uploaded into the Election Protection Coalition's database to help build an accurate national portrait of this election overall...

BACKGROUND

When exit polls stopped working in America, it was hard to know where to start pushing. Everyone I knew of who had been paying attention to the alarms just worked harder heading into November 2004. Somehow --- we busy blindered people had hoped --- we would turn out a big enough flood of voters to overwhelm the fix. Around 8pm PST on November 2nd, many stomachs began to turn.

Fast forward to BRAD BLOG 2006, and there's another November trainwrecking toward us --- just ask the daily chronicler of trainwrecks, John Gideon.

One primary after another skidded through appalling delays, breakdowns, lost votes, flipped votes, jammed paper and sleepovers. Governors from Richardson to Ehrlich cried "Paper!" in 2006, while lawsuits broke out like roses.

The silence offline, at least, is over. Princeton joined Brennan joined Carter/Baker and GAO and Conyers, while tentative mainstream coverage picks up steadily. Much has changed, much remains.

Please promote participation in Pollworkers for Democracy far and wide. Pursue local chapters of League of Women Voters, ACLU, NAACP and other likely non-partisan partners. Recruit from existing pools of pollworkers, book groups, school communities, and community service organizations. Promote to any local media contacts you may have.

In case you need language for promotion, here's a blurb:

Pollworkers for Democracy is a non-partisan election integrity campaign recruiting a new wave of informed American pollworkers for the 2006 elections. With an estimated pollworker shortage of 500,000 this year, the average age of pollworkers now topping 72, low voter confidence, and persistent polling problems in early elections, citizens everywhere are called on to give a day for democracy. And get paid.

Pollworkers for Democracy, a coalition campaign of Mainstreet Moms, VoteTrustUSA, Working Assets and other Election Integrity organizations sees informed pollworking as an important step toward restoring the public's rightful role in an increasingly privatized and problematic election process. Hired and trained by their local elections officials, pollworkers will help voters cast their votes, assist officials, get a firsthand view of how America votes, and become an active part of the solution going forward.

P4D provides pollworkers with supplemental training by teleconference and webcast, regional election integrity advisors, and a detailed online Post-Election Interview. Data gathered in the Interview will join the Election Protection Coalition's national Election Incident Reporting System database to inform media outreach, legal challenges where necessary, and needed election reforms.

--People interested in joining P4D can sign up at PollWorkers For Democracy, and will receive immediate information on how to get hired locally. Trainings follow and data collection follows.

--Membership organizations interested in promoting participation in P4D can use this email and graphics to do so on their web sites and membership emails. Flyers will also be available on the site for download. The film by EON Media with Mainstreet Moms, Help America Vote...ON PAPER, is available for viewing online through Pollworkers For Democracy, and for purchase in bulk or in single copies through eon3@earthlink.net.