Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Why I Can't Support MoveOn Any Longer

When MoveOn.org first started gaining momentum after September 11, 2001, I was happy to have found the organization, because I felt their "progressive" values really spoke to me and my political views. MoveOn talked about peace in the face of angry nation bent on revenge. Next, during the 2002 and 2004 elections MoveOn talked about giving every person a vote and spreading democracy (and not necessarily Democrats). They talked about giving a voice to the people, helping the oppressed, and gaining real equality for all in America. Even now their web site still claims - "With over 3.3 million members across America from carpenters to stay-at-home moms to business leaders we work together to realize the progressive vision of our country’s founders. MoveOn is a service, a way for busy but concerned citizens to find their political voice in a system dominated by big money and big media."

MoveOn, progressiveives have lost my support, because they do not truly uphold the values they claim. Indeed, MoveOn has turned into an organization just as hypocritical as both parties, and even more interested in letting money do the talking.

Please let me give you an example of grave circumstance. As a person with a physical disability I understand the importance of being able to vote independently, privately, and equally with the entire electorate. Today, I see the following new bulletin from a disability newsletter I subscribe to:

"California Sued Over Inaccessible Voting Machines-In a case with nationwide
implications, a number of disability rights organizations including AAPD,
the California Council of the Blind and the Paralyzed Veterans of America
have filed suit against California election officials, challenging the
accessibility of voting systems in a number of counties. The complaint
asserts violations of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and
the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) of 2002."

You can read the entire legal complaint filed here: http://moritzlaw.osu.edu/blogs/tokaji/complainingly.pdf

The HAVA Act required that by January 2006 all precincts in America have at least one accessible voting machine to allow people of all disabilities the ability to vote independently and private, and with an option to verify their vote. Direct Recording Electronic (DRE), or computer, voting systems have been certified as accessible and are also universally recognized by the disability community as being accessible to both people with visual and physical impairments. The machines are accessible, certified, and secure. However, it is the disability community that has to undo MoveOn.org's "success" and fight for our right to vote.

Under MoveOn.org's "success stories" I found the following talk about their "accomplishments" in regards to "election reform."
"In North Carolina, Colorado, Hawaii, Connecticut, and California, we won legislation requiring electronic voting machines to print paper records. Phone calls by MoveOn members played a big role in these victories —showing legislators that the public was watching. This year, 19 more states required a paper record of every vote, bringing the total to 27. More than half the states now guarantee reliable voting machines."

As you can see, MoveOn.org takes credit for getting California to change the law to be incompatible with HAVA and reverting voters with disabilities backwards.

The issue at stake, and a noble one at that, is the issue of verifiability of electronic voting machines. MoveOn.org believes that DRE voting machines are not secure and therefore are advocating for a Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) as a backup system in case of a mandatory recount of votes. I have been told that DRE machines are secure and have triple redundancy built in; however, I can still understand why there is uncertainty. I even share some of the skepticism. The reason VVPAT is not accessible is because the printed paper backup ballot is not verifiable to people with visual impairments - remember the words of the acronym VVPAT or "Voter Verified." Visually disabled voters can not verify the paper ballot and are effectively left in the dark.

I think MoveOn has a laudable goal, but it is their aggressive tactics that are despicable. I have received every MoveOn.org e-mail and never has MoveOn.org even recognized the rights of people with disabilities. Never have they acknowledged that their stance on the issue was a tough one to make considering the disenfranchisement it causes people with disabilities. Never has MoveON.org expressed a willingness to compromise on the issue and find a solution that truly makes sure every single voter can vote and every voter's vote is counted. Instead, MoveOn has ruthlessly campaigned for VVPAT and reversed the progress of new DRE machines, even as people with disabilities are testifying in the same room. MoveON - where is the compassion in denying the vote to a minority group of Americans?

I have other beefs with MoveON but this is the most egregious.
For more information on accessible voting, visit: http://www.aapd-dc.org/dvpmain/dvpindex.php

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