Advocate Pending Legislation Toward Clean, Honest, and Fair Elections in the United States 2009 Action of Immediate Witness

As we support the struggles of the Iranian people to have their voices heard and their votes counted, we must ensure the same for voters in the United States, so we can elect leaders who work for the good of all people and who strive for peace and justice in the United States of America and around the world.

Two bills before Congress in June 2009 will help move our nation to clean, honest, and fair elections in the U.S. and curb spending on campaigns: HR 2894, the Holt “Voter Confidence and Increased Accessibility Act of 2009,” and HR 1826 and S 751-752, the Fair Elections Now Act (FENA).” See Thomas for the complete text of both bills and Unitarian Universalists for Clean, Honest and Fair Elections for additional information.

AIWs [Actions of Immediate Witness] for earlier versions of these bills were endorsed at UUA [Unitarian Universalist Association] General Assemblies in 1998, 2000, and 2004. This is the first year that the updated versions of the bills have a chance of being passed into law.

Unitarian Universalists around the country could make a significant contribution to the success of this needed election reform legislation. There are currently 77 cosponsors of the “Voter Confidence and Increased Accessibility Act of 2009,” and 55 cosponsors of the “Fair Elections Now Act.” We need many more cosponsors of both bills to ensure timely passage.

Our support for HR 2894 (the Holt bill) includes advocacy for the following changes to strengthen the bill:

  1. Eliminate the vendor-driven requirement to replace all existing ballot-marking devices.
  2. Ban all communications capabilities to prevent tampering.
  3. Require poll-site tallies to be publicly posted at the polls immediately at the close of polls.
  4. Mandate rigorous Congressional oversight of the Election Assistance Commission.
  5. Prohibit vendor participation in the development of technical guidelines.
  6. Mandate unconditional public disclosure of all voting system software and voter registration software.
  7. Exempt mechanical devices in which counting mechanisms are clearly visible, such as lever machines.
  8. Require jurisdictions to facilitate public observation of the entire chain of custody of the ballots and of all audit, tabulation and recount procedures.
  9. Require audits to include evaluations of continuous citizen oversight of the chain of custody and all tabulation and recount procedures.

With hope that these concerns can be addressed, we endorse passage of the Holt bill THIS YEAR because the key elements we support will provide critically needed reform of our federal election systems before the 2010 elections.

Because use of the democratic process is a cherished fundamental principle of Unitarian Universalism, the 2009 General Assembly of the Unitarian Universalist Association urges

  1. Individual Unitarian Universalists in the United States to communicate our support for these bills and advocate these improvements to HR 2894 by contacting their U.S. Representatives and Senators to support, and in particular co-sponsor, HR 2894, HR 1826, and S 751-752.
  2. Unitarian Universalist congregations in the United States to encourage their members to take this action on behalf of democracy in this country.
  3. The Unitarian Universalist Association Washington Office for Advocacy to keep congregations informed on the progress of these two bills for clean and verified elections in the United States.