Guest Blogged by Emily Levy of VelvetRevolution.us...
Velvet Revolution - co-founded by Brad Friedman - today launched its newest campaign at StandingForVoters.org, calling on candidates across the country to pledge to challenge elections when necessary.
"This election, let's make democracy the winner!" the Standing For Voters site proclaims. Readers of The BRAD BLOG know that's quite a stretch, that we're a long way from having a true democracy in this country. Yet challenges by candidates --- before, during and after the elections --- could be an important step in the right direction. In many situations, only candidates have standing to challenge elections.
StandingForVoters.org is primarily directed towards candidates themselves and serves to educate them about election integrity issues, types of election challenges, and recent history of candidates who challenged elections. Voters are encouraged to participate by finding candidates who will pledge; tips about how to do this are provided on the site, including:
The first two candidates to sign the site's more robust pledge, "The Super Pledge," are no strangers to election integrity issues. Ellen Brodsky, candidate for Supervisor of Elections in notorious Broward County, Florida is a long-time election integrity advocate, founding Broward Election Reform Coalition. Brodsky was thrilled to pledge, saying, "You can count on me to speak about fair, accurate and transparent elections in every breath I take."...
The second signer was Clint Curtis, who today is running in the Florida Democratic primary as a candidate for Congress (FL-24). This is Curtis's second attempt to unseat incumbent Tom Feeney (R); two years ago Curtis filed a Congressional challenge to the election and conducted a house-by-house canvass of the district, reporting that he and a team of volunteers obtained enough signed affidavits from voters to show that he was the rightful winner of the election. Curtis is also familiar to regular readers of The BRAD BLOG because of his amazing story of having been hired by Feeney himself to write vote-rigging software back when Feeney was the incoming Speaker of the Florida House (see this Special Coverage page for background).
Candidates for any office, in any state, regardless of party affiliation, can sign the Standing For Voters Pledge or Super Pledge (full text of both at the end of this article). In return, they'll be listed on StandingForVoters.org and will receive a special Standing For Voters emblem to post on their campaign websites. Signers of the Super Pledge are also invited to post short videos of themselves pledging to stand for election integrity.
While this is an entirely nonpartisan effort, the launch of the site was timed to coincide with the Democratic National Convention, where VR is joining with PDA and other groups to pass out cards [PDF] to candidates and to voters who will carry them to candidates.
Who believes in democracy and who's just trying to get ahead? We've provided a tool to help determine out which candidates are really ready to demand high-quality elections. Now it's up to all of you to use it!
Standing For Voters Pledge, Standing For Voters Super Pledge, and press release follow below...
Standing For Voters Pledge
I, _________________, pledge to use my candidacy, whenever feasible, to advance the preservation of democracy I will officially challenge the results of the election as provided by law if the combination of election conditions, incident reports, and announced election results calls into question the reliability of the official vote count. I will wait until all valid votes are counted and all serious challenges resolved before declaring victory or conceding defeat.
Candidates: Sign the Pledge at StandingForVoters.org.
Standing For Voters Super Pledge
I, _________________, pledge to use my candidacy, whenever feasible, to advance the preservation of democracy I will officially challenge the results of the election as provided by law if the combination of election conditions, incident reports and announced election results calls into question the reliability of the official vote count. I will wait until all valid votes are counted and all serious challenges resolved before declaring victory or conceding defeat. I will involve my campaign volunteers in actions to enhance the accuracy and verifiability of the election in which I am a candidate. I will speak out publicly during the pre-election period about the importance of fair, accurate and transparent elections and about this pledge. I will designate a liaison between my campaign and "Standing For Voters" so that "Standing For Voters" can alert me to any red flags they are aware of regarding my election.
Candidates: Sign the Super Pledge at StandingForVoters.org.
Contact: Emily Levy
Current conditions in the U.S. election system have shattered the basis for confidence in election results, according to StandingForVoters.org, whose website launched today. Standing For Voters, a project of VelvetRevolution.us, calls upon candidates for any public office to prepare now to demand recounts, file lawsuits, or take other actions necessary should election processes or results raise suspicion. The site calls on candidates to take the "Standing For Voters Pledge."
"Candidates ask voters to stand up for them by donating money, volunteering, and through their votes. Now it's time for candidates to commit to Standing For Voters," says project coordinator Emily Levy. In some states, only candidates have standing to request a recount. "In recent elections, we've seen candidates shy away from challenging even obviously incorrect election results supposedly because they don't want to be called 'sore losers.' Signing the Standing For Voters Pledge is a clear way to tell voters that you care that all votes are counted and counted accurately and that you will do everything in your power to ensure that the elections are held to the highest standards. Even if you don't win your election, you can champion the cause of democracy."
Signers of the Pledge and the more robust "Super Pledge" are provided with an emblem to post on their campaign websites, announcing, "I am Standing For Voters. I took the (Super) Pledge." "It's not exactly the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval," says Levy, "because we offer the emblem to candidates based on their word. But any candidate who puts the emblem on their website should expect their supporters to hold them to their commitment."
StandingForVoters.org presents information about why elections must be scrutinized, outlining possible election problems including voter disenfranchisement, electronic voting machine breakdowns, and loss of precinct vote totals "since they are often transported on [an electronic memory card] that fits easily into a pocket." Resources for candidates include information on various types of election challenges. Additionally, voters are shown ways to encourage candidates to take the Pledge.
While Standing For Voters is being rolled out at the Democratic convention, the program is open to candidates of any party as well as nonpartisan candidates, such as the first "Super Pledger," Ellen Brodsky. A candidate for Supervisor of Elections in notorious Broward County, Florida, Brodsky was eager to sign onto the program, saying, "You can count on me to speak about fair, accurate and transparent elections in every breath I take."
According to StandingForVoters.org, recent election challenges initiated by candidates have included this year's New Hampshire primary recounts called for by presidential candidates Dennis Kucinich (D) and Albert Howard (R), and Congressional challenges in 2006 by Florida candidates for the House of Representatives Christine Jennings and Clint Curtis, both of whom are running again this year. The Florida primary takes place today. Curtis has signed the Standing For Voters Super Pledge.
Candidates and voters can find out more about challenging elections, and candidates can pledge their commitment at StandingForVoters.org. Organizations are invited to endorse the program by emailing info@StandingForVoters.org.