Ohio Senate Rules Committee:
Senator Bill Harris, Chair; Senator Jeff Jacobson, Vice Chair
And Member Senators: Austria, Gardner, Hottinger, Schuring, Spada, Prentiss, Hagan, Fedor, Murz
Ohio Statehouse
Columbus, OH 43215

Dear Hon. Chairs & Rules Committee Members, December 7, 2005

I am so honored to have your full attention regarding H.B.3. Our concern is for the future of Ohio and the future of our elections in Ohio is grave. With all due respect to its authors, some so-called "reforms" in H.B.3 will ultimately disenfranchise voters. How can H.B.3 then, in its present form, be considered true "reform"?

Please consider the following which render H.B.3 yet inadequate and even, antidemocratic:

• On Proof of Residence: H.B. 3 requires that if change of address or change  of name forms are returned to boards of elections as undeliverable, the voter  is required to vote by provisional ballot even if the voter produces the prope r identification and proof of residence at the polling place on Election Day.  Voters that have the required identification should be allowed to vote with a regular ballot.

• On Voter Registration: H.B. 3 requires that any person being paid to do voter registration work must register with election officials in each county where he or she will be working. This provision could have a chilling effect on activities that increase the number of voters participating in the political process. The argument that resulted with the inclusion of this provision is just blown smoke. People I worked with last year registered thousands of voters and obeyed all the rules in properly registering voters. The vast majority of us were never paid to do this and we conducted ourselves ethically, and in a competent manner. In contrast, the institutionally applied unethical behavior of the RNC-funded Sproul & Associates, and a "few" workers in the Democratically-funded ACORN were unethical acts that are still not properly addressed by H.B.3.

• On Voting Machines: Unless the revised version of H.B. 3 provides otherwise, this bill does not go far enough in assuring an adequate number of voting machines at polling locations. Even so, it is my contention that we should not have voting machines at all, and that HAVA money should be spent in an unprecedented election volunteer organizing effort to conduct the return to paper elections.

• On Provisional Ballots: H.B. 3 would cause qualified voters who show up at  the wrong precinct - often through no fault of their own - to cast a provisional ballot that will not be counted, regardless of the reason they appeared at the wrong precinct. By restricting the counting of provisional ballots only to those cast in the correct precinct, H.B. 3 will disenfranchise qualified voters. This is to me the most rudely antidemocratic provision of all that remains in H.B.3.

• On Recounts: H.B. 3 makes audits not legally binding. Ohio doesn’t have meaningful, accessible recounts now, as the Ohio Revised Code was violated in several counties during last year's recount. Recounts become meaningless under H.B. 3 because under the new provision, precincts to be recounted no longer need be randomly selected as the Ohio Revised Code now requires. Furthermore,
recounts will become five times as expensive to conduct. These are both provisions that will now render recounts inaccessible to we the people. This is outrageous.

• On Deceptive Practices: Where in Ohio H.B.3 is any provision that addresses Deceptive Practices in any comprehensive way? Please allow me to cite at least two specific examples where there were violations of the Civil Rights Act of 1957 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. According to a sworn affidavit, on the night of November 1, 2004, a gentleman from Columbus overheard a telephone  conversation in the lobby of a downtown hotel in Columbus,. In the words of a Mr. Branscome from his sworn affidavit, as regards the overheard conversation, Mr. Branscome heard this man threatening someone who had been in prison and stated that if he were to attempt to vote this person would be re-incarcerated and the FBI would come after him. This is voter intimidation.

This suspicious gentleman was then seen walking into the GOP headquarters in Columbus, Ohio, just down the street. Senator, this was a crime taking place. Convicted felons, once having paid their debt to society, are eligible to vote in Ohio, period. Actually in many states with such laws restricting the voting rights of felons, the trend is to now revoke those laws that restrict an ex-felon's voting rights, yet H.B. 3 seeks to do just that and is therefore regressive.

This was one example of Deceptive Practices by an individual. Here is another: in Lake County, Ohio, some voters received a memo on bogus Board of Elections letterhead informing voters who registered through Democratic and NACCP drives that they could not vote. Election officials referred the matter to the sheriff. What came of this? Was there an investigation? Senator, this was another crime committed, the remedy of which has not been addressed by H.B.3.

Now, I would like to bring to your attention institutionalized Deceptive Practices I have found deeply disturbing. In a statement from a published article last October, "The RNC-funded firm Sproul & Associates of Arizona has been accused of lying, cheating and even destroying Democratic voter registration forms to get more Republicans to the polls." Now we learn these practices were apparently their modus operandi. Sproul and Associates were paid $8.3 million by the RNC to register voters in several states. Sproul, too, operated in Ohio using a front voter registration company name. This company purposefully shredded Democratic voter registrations as a matter of course. What is the point of having a law if there is no political will to enforce it? What is wrong with this picture when such crimes are FUNDED by political parties?

We need laws intended to protect voters actually enforced. The ACORN workers who registered "Mickey Mouse," etc., and, who were fired, are being used as one bad example of unethical conduct in registering voters, but they didn't shred thousands of voter registrations. Would Sproul & Associates, too, be held accountable for their actions under the inadequate provisions of H.B.3? The faulty provision in H.B.3 which requires people who register voters in Ohio to register with the county, needs to be written in such a way that it prevents institutionalized fraud, but not to restrict honest citizens who want to engage others in the democratic process of voting. This institutionalized fraud must be addressed as a Deceptive Practice in a genuine way within the provisions of H.B.3.

In fact, institutionalized Deceptive Practices run deep in our elections, and they hide in plain sight. Please consider what follows. Regarding the state of our elections, Ohio stands on the precipice of instituting a disastrous policy that will impede democracy. We cannot afford to make errors we shall regret:

I am astonished that there is no regulatory oversight of the election technology industry today. Not even the FEC has established standards and practices for the election technology industry. Why? I want this Senate to rescind the certification of these machines. These machines, as if by design, are left openly vulnerable to Deceptive Practices. We the People do not like them and do not want to vote on them. Isn't "voter confidence" in trouble enough as it is?
Our elections are presently being taken away from us by corporations that feel entitled to impose on the people, the manner in which they deem OUR elections should be conducted. Diebold Corporation for example, was recently exposed courting our Ohio Boards of Elections, with an all-expenses-paid conference in a distant city, in order to hock their expensive, flawed wares requiring expensive maintenance and service, to our Ohio Boards of Elections officials, who were wined and dined, and showered with corporate dollars in a grand way. Once again, We the People were not invited.

Our elections are also whitewashed by political parties. 500 thousand dollars in donations from the desperate citizens of the losing party, who are clamoring for change, is funneled into a 200-page report published by the losing party. It is a good start to address election reform—but no one consulted grassroots activists in writing it. In fact, The DNC Report, Democracy at Risk JUST SCRATCHES the surface, and, sadly lacks an avalanche of facts, that when taken together, paint a much worse pattern of intentional election fraud and malfeasance than is presented in this report. This report would never utter the "f" word—fraud. Again, We the People were left out of the process.

The Department of Justice sends a letter to an Ohio Board of Elections Director which reinforces the false contention that the Ohio election "went well," which then precipitates outrage and disbelief among members of the House Judiciary Committee, the public, and election reformists everywhere. The letter, flying in the face of a comprehensive report from the House Judiciary Committee, "What Went Wrong in Ohio," angers voters, and leaves the ranking Minority member of the House Judiciary Committee "flabbergasted." We the People are left out, without our voices heard, once again.

The fact should not be lost on this committee that hundreds of citizen voting rights groups and voting reform websites have sprung up nationwide, and all over the Internet, volunteered by thousands of ordinary citizens deeply concerned about their vanishing democracy. But none of them were consulted, and none of them were paid, either. They sacrifice evenings, weekends, time with their kids, vacations. Why?

To us, nothing is more important than preserving the freedom to determine our own destiny. Nothing is more important to us than our civil rights, than our freedoms. Yet, we are summarily dismissed as "tinfoil hat conspiracy theorists." We are branded as "crazy." We are ordered to "get over it." We are stigmatized as "sore losers." We are dismissed, denounced, demoralized, demonized, minimized and marginalized by the compliant media which, by refusing to report comprehensively on election fraud, lends election fraud an air of plausible deniability. A teeming population of angered voters are labeled in the media as
"whiny liberals", and are rudely shouted down while being told to put up or shut up.

Yet, we maintain our dignity and determination. We are not deterred or silenced by the media complicity and name calling. Still, none of us are consulted, and the media's obfuscation of the truth screams a deafening silence. After all is said and done, the act of voting is rendered irrelevant. The media is rendered irrelevant. The Rule of the Majority is rendered irrelevant The Rule of Law is rendered irrelevant. The people are rendered irrelevant. The future of democracy itself, is rendered irrelevant. Once again, We the People are left out of the process.

Yet, the grassroots election reform activists, ever hopeful, persevere, collecting data, conducting extensive statistical analysis, giving testimony, writing books, making records, submitting affidavits, attending national conferences, filing lawsuits, keeping archives, writing articles, contacting legislators, making phone calls, sending emails, speaking, educating, organizing. People are listening to us. Citizens understand how important honest elections are and they are not willing to give them up so easily.

What a shame it would be that, after all this, our legislators would ignore us and vote for poorly written legislation in spite of all the work we have done to save our democracy.
Those who claim ordinary citizens cannot conduct their own elections on paper ballots have turned their back on democracy. Democracy is something we do. It is not a spectator sport. People need to learn how to run a democracy once again. Through our own neglect, We the People, have allowed our elections to become a fiefdom run by corporations, partisan interests and by those who abuse elections as stepping stones to higher office.

It appears voting fraud is soon to become streamlined in Ohio, controlled by a few who would subvert the will of the people with the use of electronic voting machines that provide no real Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail; that can be manipulated by humans, even remotely; that generate "vapor votes" that leave no trace of the voter's intent.

We the People are sold a giant lie—again, while our Boards of Elections, if not wooed into cooperation by Diebold, are railroaded into compliance by the Secretary of State, who, by forcing unreasonable timelines, strong-arms our BOE's to spend their only HAVA money on unreliable technology. Yet, the companies who control these machines will not tell you why their company (Diebold), which can manufacture an ATM that processes millions of accurate transactions daily while generating a paper receipt, cannot make a voting machine that offers the voter a simple paper copy of the voter's intent while processing only about 150 votes on election day? Please.

Instead, we are told that a paper record, wound on a roll like toilet paper, with disappearing blue ink, barely legible as it goes by through a plastic window, which rolls back INTO the machine, AND cannot be taken home—is a legitimate, certifiable, Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail. I guess it is a paper trail of sorts—a long, cumbersome toilet paper trail, of several feet, that the voter is not allowed to keep. I want these companies to stop lying to us. We are not as stupid as we are made out to be. Again, We the People are left out of the process. I contend these machines to have been manufactured by those who
consider the Rule of the Majority, the Rule of Law and the priorities of a true democracy, an inconvenience to their own ends.

We the People ask more time to make our case. The special moneyed interests who have designs on our democracy in Ohio, have had theirs. A veritable citizen army of thoughtful activists and highly educated and informed professionals have been intensely working on election issues for some time and have sacrificed much to present our legislators with facts that need your immediate attention. The body of knowledge and evidence we have to share with you, is legitimate, and voluminous, and deserves thoughtful consideration from our legislators in the Senate Rules Committee.

This mad rush to push this through the Senate is viewed by many as a cynical attempt to clear the way for future election fraud, not election reform.

So, in the daunting challenges before us, as we embark together onto the unknown electronic frontier, we tremble in fear that we will have our voices silenced, our dreams stolen along with our vote.

Our vote, the last and only real right we as Americans treasure beyond any material thing. It holds the key to our freedom. Our right to self-determination. We invest in our collective dreams with our vote and we will let no man, and no law, take it from us without a fight.

Not only will we hold tightly to it. We shall put our bodies on the line for it. We shall strike for it. We shall die for it. Indeed, many already have.

In the Spirit of Enlightened Democracy,

Victoria Parks
262 Danhurst Rd.
Columbus, OH 43228

Elections Belong to the People

1. Elections belong to the people, not to election officials, not to software programmers, not to private corporations, not to technicians of any description, not to political parties or politicians. The proper role of elections administration is to assist the people in the conduct of their own elections.

2. Elections are not an administrative fiefdom, though by our neglect, we have allowed them to become one. It is time to wrest a significant measure of control away from election officials, and back into the hands of the people. Elections must be strictly protected from those who would reduce them to a steppingstone for higher office.

3. Any election system that begins with the assumption that a self-governing people cannot execute the ordinary task of hand-marking, casting and counting ballots has turned its back on democracy.

Our Elections Cannot be Privatized . . . .

Election Outcomes Must be Based Upon Evidence of the Voter's Intent . . . .

Elections Require an Unbroken Chain of Citizen Custody of the Vote. . . .

We the People Demand Hand-Counted Paper Ballots . . . .