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Velvet Revolution's
"Divestiture for Democracy"
- Letter to America's Voting Machine Companies -

On February 21, 2005 (President's Day), Velvet Revolution sent the following letter to the heads of all nine of the major America's Voting Machine Companies asking them to do the right thing for their country. Please show your support by standing with VR to let these companies know it's time they step up for American values of openness and democracy or we will vote with the only weapon we have left...our pocketbooks! Send them an email urging them to address these concerns NOW!

VELVET REVOLUTION - The New American Patriot

February 21, 2005

To:
Walden W. O’Dell, CEO, Diebold Inc.
David Hart, Chairman, HartInterCivic
Larry Ensminger, President, Advanced Voting Solutions
Jack Gerbel, President, UniLect Corp.
Jim Ries, President, MicroVote
Todd Urosevich, Vice President, Election Systems & Software (ES&S)
Tracey Graham, CEO, Sequoia Voting Systems
Matt Lilly, Sr. VP, Danaher-Guardian Voting Systems
Brett Rapp, President, Triad GSI

Re:  The Divestiture for Democracy Campaign

Dear <Company Head>:  

I am writing on behalf of VelvetRevolution.us, which encompasses a wide array of organizations from across the political spectrum that represent tens of millions of Americans seeking better government and better elections.  A number of these groups are listed below and many more will follow.  We are all united in our concerns about the integrity of our elections and believe these matters are urgent. We would prefer to work with you on these matters, and therefore your prompt attention to the following proposal is requested.

In order for our democratic system to be preserved, the loser of an election and his or her supporters must have complete confidence that the loss occurred in a fair and impartial manner.  Without this confidence, that election and others like it will be seen as illegitimate.  We view such an outcome as an increasingly grave threat to the world’s most important democracy.  I am writing to ask that your company take immediate steps to help make the electoral process fully transparent and trustworthy so that future legitimacy can be assured and so that our hard-fought democratic system of government may be preserved.  In order to ensure this transparency, we believe, at a minimum, that the following actions with regard to the voting machines and/or vote tabulating machines that your company manufactures are imperative:

  • Open the hardware, software, data and source code in your vote machines and tabulation equipment to public scrutiny by any interested observer or tester upon request, and openly provide copies on request of all documentation, manuals, and testing results compiled or obtained from your sources;

  • Allow for independent analysis of your hardware, software and source code before, during and after elections, including random audits of the executable binary, and investigations of particular machines as warranted, and fix when any problems are discovered;

  • Provide an auditable, voter-verified paper ballot of all the votes cast, and a paper trail of the tabulations of those votes;

  • Provide for security mechanisms that ensure that no form of network communications any type, either wire, electrical or wireless, can possibly occur on your machines;

  • Allow for non-partisan, independent observers of the vote tabulation process for all elections in which your machines are used, and all support you provide therefore;

  • Institute a corporate policy prohibiting your company and all persons employed in an executive position from supporting any particular candidate for public office or public issue or referendum through donations, public statements, campaign activity, or other means;

  • Disclose all data and code and records arising out of the past three national elections, upon request, regardless of whether or not you consider them proprietary or trade secrets;

  • Institute a corporate policy to respond to any and all voting-related records requests or Freedom of Information Act requests in the same manner as would a government agency, and allowing inspection without charge;

  • Agree to adopt all feasible best practices suggested by a national committee of election experts related to methods of enhanced reporting of election results and election-related data in order to facilitate citizen or academic studies of voting;

  • Comply with all of these requests at no additional cost to your government clients on the grounds that compliance is necessary to make your company’s machines fit for their intended use in free, equal, fair and transparent American elections accessible to all citizens.

If your company takes these actions or provides notice to us by April 23, 2005 that it will take all of these actions prior to any further use of your machines in an election, we will gratefully recognize and publicize your company’s patriotic actions, and will recommend to our members that these reforms be considered evidence of your company’s suitability for elections in the world’s most advanced and transparent democracy.

Naturally, the integrity of our democracy is urgent, and our goal is therefore to see the above changes set forth in the quickest possible time frame.  As you know, both Republicans and Democrats in the House and Senate have recently introduced many bills to ensure many of the above changes, and a U.S. Constitutional amendment has been proposed that may result in similar changes as well.  Therefore, the changes we are calling for are coming regardless, and it may well be good corporate policy for you to demonstrate leadership in the support of fair, transparent and verified voting by making these immediate changes on your own rather than being forced to do so by the political process. Moreover, such leadership will clearly demonstrate your commitment to both democracy as well as cutting edge election technology. As noted, we represent, directly and through our partners and affiliates, literally millions of concerned Americans who are highly motivated to support companies that abide by our conditions and oppose companies that do not.  We are hopeful that you will choose the support of these millions of American citizens.

If you believe you can or are doing substantially all of the above, but have a concern about wording or particulars, we are willing to engage in a dialogue to resolve those differences.  If, however, you decline to take these actions, that would be such a severe blow to American democracy that we will be forced to initiate a divestiture campaign against your company using every available legal means to urge all stockholders, bankers and brokers to divest from your company, in order to increase pressure for real and transparent elections.  We may also urge counties in the country to boycott the purchase and use of your machines or to seek refunds on them, on the grounds that they fail to be suitable for the use intended – open and transparent elections that comply with public policy and applicable state law.  Moreover, it appears that our request for transparency and disclosure is likely necessary in order to comply with existing law, namely the warranty of fitness for a particular purpose (American elections) and to comply with express warranties made in your advertising and documents.   It is our hope that we can all reach for higher ground together, because we must not allow the reputation of our elections to continue to slide as they have.

The actions we are proposing related to your firm are a direct consequence of the fact that true electoral reform requires your agreement and cooperation in addition to that of the governments involved, because the task of vote counting (a core governmental task), has essentially been delegated to your firm.  It is therefore only appropriate that we bring our political demands and activism to your firm, through faxing, calling, demonstrating, emailing, divesting, withholding contributions, litigating whenever appropriate and organizing, just as we would (as allowed by the First Amendment) against any politician or political party that was opposed to complete democratic transparency and election integrity.   In short, your firm is, in essence, an arm of the government and you must accept the same responsibility to and pressures from the citizenry of the United States, as does any government in America.

If you have any questions, or wish to engage in a dialogue, please do not hesitate to contact our attorney, Paul Lehto, at (425) 257-2297.  We thank you in advance in hopes that you will take immediate action to do the right and patriotic duty for your country.

Sincerely,  
Brad Friedman
VELVET REVOLUTION
On behalf of the Directors

With the support of the following organizations…

INITIAL SUPPORTERS OF VR’S DIVESTITURE FOR DEMOCRACY CAMPAIGN

The BRAD BLOG
Justice Through Music
Progressive Democrats of America
Backbone Campaign
Fair Elections
Alliance for Democracy
Utah Democratic Progressive Caucus
Coalition for Visible Ballots
The Nashua Advocate
Alternative Media Project
Fair Vote
Case Ohio
Case America
Virginia Grassroots Coalition
True Vote MD
United Progressives For Democracy
Awaken In The Dream
Break The Link
Independent Progressive Politics Network
Democracy Prevails
Democracy For America-MA
Newtopia Magazine
Fairness By Beckerman
Gathering To Save Our Democracy
Progressive Democrats of Cincinnati
Fly By News
Grassroots For America
Open Voting Consortium
No Mandate
Downtown Magazine
51 Capital March
Coalition Against Election Fraud
Broward Verified Voting
Wellstone Democratic Club
California For Democracy
Redefeat Bush
Left.com

Democrats Abroad
Do Not Concede
Progress Now
Thank You Patriot
International Labor Communications Assn.
National Ballot Integrity Project
Free Press
Truth Out
Code Pink
Citizens Act
Cobb/LeMarche
The Green Party
The Dean People
Count Paper Ballots
Dean Democratic Club of Silicon Valley
Democrats.com
Tom Hayden
Arizona Progressives
Peace Majority
Rapid Response Network
Hip Hop Caucus
Verified Voting
Department of Peace Campaign
Solar Bus
Democracy Week
Radio Inside Scoop
Band Together
Far Left
Election Fraud 2004
Be The Media
US Voting Integrity Project
Massachusetts Votes
Liberal Forum
Bush Flash
The Peace Alliance
Conscious Politics
Summit Democrats

 

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