Democrats Care About Democracy

WASHINGTON, DC- U.S. Senators Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) and Barbara Boxer (D-CA) today unveiled comprehensive voting reform legislation to make sure that every American is able to vote and every vote is counted. Senators Clinton and Boxer announced the legislation today in a press conference joined by Representative Stephanie Tubbs Jones (D-OH), who will sponsor the legislation in the House of Representatives, and voting rights advocates.

"Voting is the most precious right of every citizen, and we have a moral obligation to ensure the integrity of our voting process," said Senator Clinton. "The smooth functioning of our democracy depends on voters having faith in the fairness and accuracy of our voting system, and the Count Every Vote Act is an important step toward restoring this covenant. We must be able to easily and accurately count every vote so that every vote counts."

Added Senator Boxer: "Every citizen of this country should be guaranteed that their vote matters, that their vote is counted, and that in the voting booth, their vote has a much weight as that of any CEO, any member of Congress, or any President. Our democracy is the centerpiece of who we are as a nation, and we must take action to ensure that the American people have full confidence in our electoral system."

"I am pleased to join with Senators Clinton and Boxer in introducing companion legislation in the House as we continue our efforts to ensure that every American is afforded their Constitutional right to vote," said Representative Tubbs Jones. "This legislation seeks to combat the tremendous voting irregularities that plagued both the 2000 and 2004 elections. If in fact we see it is our obligation to secure democracy around the world, to monitor and oversee free and fair elections in other countries, most recently in Iraq, then we must ensure, protect and guarantee the right to vote right here at home."

The Count Every Vote Act of 2005 will provide a voter verified paper ballot for every vote cast in electronic voting machines and ensures access to voter verification for all citizens, including language minority voters, illiterate voters and voters with disabilities. The bill mandates that this ballot be the official ballot for purposes of a recount. The bill sets a uniform standard for provisional ballots so that every qualified voter will know their votes are treated equally, and requires the Federal Election Assistance Commission to issue standards that ensure uniform access to voting machines and trained election personnel in every community. The bill also improves security measures for electronic voting machines.

To encourage more citizens to exercise their right to vote, the Count Every Vote Act designates Election Day a federal holiday and requires early voting in each state. The bill also enacts "no-excuse" absentee balloting, enacts fair and uniform voter registration and identification, and requires states to allow citizens to register to vote on Election Day. It also requires the Election Assistance Commission to work with states to reduce wait times for voters at polling places. In addition, the legislation restores voting rights for felons who have repaid their debt to society.

The Count Every Vote Act also includes measures to protect voters from deceptive practices and conflicts of interest that harm voter trust in the integrity of the system. In particular, the bill restricts the ability of chief state election officials as well as owners and senior managers of voting machine manufacturers to engage in certain kinds of political activity. The bill also makes it a federal crime to commit deceptive practices, such as sending flyers into minority neighborhoods telling voters the wrong voting date, and makes these practices a felony punishable by up to a year of imprisonment.

Today, representatives from civil rights organizations and voting rights advocates praised the legislation, including People For the American Way, Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under the Law, NAACP, Common Cause, the National Voting Rights Institute, DEMOS and the National Asian Pacific American Legal Consortium. The leaders emphasized the urgent need for the bill.

"Every American citizen should be able to cast a vote that counts, and it should not be difficult," said Ralph G. Neas, President of People For the American Way, one of the founding members of the Election Protection coalition. "This bill provides practical, secure accessible solutions at the ballot box for Americans with disabilities, those who speak languages other than English, and other Americans who face hurdles in exercising their voting rights. It's a great bill."

"The Count Every Vote Act will go a long way toward restoring dignity to our nation's electoral system and will provide citizens across the nation with an opportunity to effectively participate in democratic decision-making," said Barbara R. Arnwine, Executive Director of the Lawyers' Committee.

Senators Clinton and Boxer first introduced election reform legislation in the 108th Congress, together with former Senator Bob Graham. In the meantime, another election cycle showed evidence of problems in the Federal election system, including long wait times to vote, erroneous purging of voters, voter suppression and intimidation and unequal access to the voting process. The Count Every Vote Act requires that all provisions be in place for the next major election cycle in 2006.

"We cannot let another Election Day go by without doing everything we can to make sure that voters have confidence in our voting system and exercise their right to vote," underscored Senator Clinton. "This shouldn't be a Republican or Democratic issue. This is a voter issue, plain and simple. I call upon my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to work with us to implement these common sense measures."

Senators Clinton and Boxer and Representative Tubbs Jones will work in the 109th Congress to keep attention to this issue and urge action

This is a gold mine for the Democrats. First of all, the obvious is that it's good for democracy (not to mention Democrats) when more people are able to vote.

Second, this could be used to expose the GOP. Obviously, this bill should receive unanimous approval from both houses, but it won't, because anything that helps more people vote means more votes for Democrats. I can see the litany of excuses already... this would be too expensive, standardization would be too cumbersome, ex-felons shouldn't have their voting rights restored, states should have the right to control their own voting systems, etc. But the bottom line is that opposing this bill is tantamount to opposing the right to vote.

Write your Congressmen and hometown newspapers on this one, guys.


Great Post from Kos/MyDD

Go here. Hilarious.

Happy Valentine's/Hallmark's Day (whichever one you celebrated).


Dean Is Now Our Leader

Remarks by Governor Howard Dean Accepting the Chairmanship of the Democratic National Committee


If you told me one year ago that I'd be standing here today, as your choice for Chairman of the Democratic National Committee, I wouldn't have believed you. And neither would have a lot of other people.

But let me say that standing here with the opportunity to lead this Party, is a great honor.

I am thankful.

I am humbled.

And I'm ready to get to work.

This was the first race for DNC chairman truly driven by the grassroots of this Party. And so, I want you to know this is not my chairmanship, this is our chairmanship.

You have given me an enormous responsibility. But it is a responsibility we share.

We can change this Party… but only by working together and competing in all 50 states. We can change this Party… but only by working together and becoming a national party again. We can change this Party… but only by working together at thelocal level.

If we want to win nationally, we have to win locally.

With your help, I am certain that today will not mark the end of the process of selecting a DNC chair. Today will be the beginning of the reemergence of the Democratic Party.

We have a lot of work to do.

But we have a bright future… exemplified by the other candidates who joined me in this race. They are all great Democrats.

I want to thank Terry McAuliffe. He has given this party so much. Not to mention every waking day of the past four years as our Chairman.
He has also given us something else — a Party in strong financial shape, with the infrastructure to meet the challenges of the future. That is no small gift. Thank you, Terry McAuliffe.

I also want to thank my family. I wouldn't be here without their support, or their belief in a more fair and just America.

I especially want to thank my wife, Judy, for her patience and her love. She's here with me today.

We all know that we're the party of the big tent and new ideas.

We know that we're the party for young Americans looking for a government that speaks to them… we know that we're the party for working Americans desperate for a government that looks out for them… and we know that we're the party for older Americans and veterans and members of the Armed Services expecting and deserving a government that honors them.

And we know that no matter where you live or who you are, what you look like or how you worship, ours is the diverse party that welcomes you.

But right now, as important as all of that is… it is not enough. We have to move forward. We cannot win if all we are is against the current President.

Republicans wandered around in the political wilderness for 40 years before they took back Congress. But the reason we lost control is that we forgot why we were entrusted with control to begin with.

The American people can't afford to wait for 40 years for us to put Washington back to work for them.

It can't take us that long.

And it won't take us that long… not if we stand up for what we believe in… organize at the local level… and recognize that this Party's strength doesn't come from the consultants down, it comes from grassroots up.

Read the rest of the speech here.

Tsunami Relief

Hello Democrats!

After a successful effort at Irish Night (McPhail's - Parent's Weekend), our fundraising total for tsunami victims is $1188.85.

First of all, I would like to thank all of you who have donated already. I know this was a real sacrifice for some of you, but I'd also wager that the tsunami victims need these dollars more than we ever will. Your donations will be appreciated by someone affected by the disaster, most likely a child who was made an orphan by the waves. Also, thanks to everyone who has helped with the logistics of this effort (Alyson, Brooke, Adam, etc.), and also Matt, who made the whole thing happen.

Now, who is going to make up that $11.15 (and then some)? Why, you are, of course! Check out the right side of this page (probably slightly below the "fold"). You will see a "donate" button. Click on that button. It will take you to PayPal, where you can make a secure, credit card donation. All donations made through this link before March 1st will be added to our tsunami relief efforts.

And now for some real motivation: Mike Rubin '08 (the guy who said in the Cowl that homosexuality = cancer) donated $5 tonight. Therefore, it is your obligation, as good Democrats, to donate more than Mike Rubin. I know you can do it. Now get to it!



My apologies to the ABB (anybody but Belichick) crowd, also known as Jets fans, but...

Congratulations to the New England Patriots!

The game was a little sloppy, but the win was just as sweet.

Did I really just support the same team as Bill O'Reilly?


Significant Opposition to Gonzales

Alberto Gonzales was confirmed as the next US Attorney General on Thursday. Let the torture-fest begin!

No Republican voted against Gonzales, though Senator Burns (R-MT) did not vote.

Three Democrats did not vote, including Inouye (D-HI), and Sens. Baucus (D-MT) and Conrad (D-ND), both of whom were busy fighting Bush's Social Security propaganda efforts in their home states.

Five Democrats voted in favor of torture. They are Landrieu (D-LA), Pryor (D-AR), Bill Nelson (D-FL), Ben Nelson (D-NE), Salazar (D-CO), and Lieberman (D-CT). To Connecticut Democrats, if Lieberman has a Democratic primary opponent, give them your vote, your time and your money. It's time we got a real Democrat in office.

And now, the good guys... Democrats who opposed Alberto Gonzales.

And also, thanks to our indepent friend, Jim Jeffords, who also opposed the nomination.

Today I had the opportunity to thank Senator Kerry for his votes against Rice and Gonzales. I will have more details on my trip to Boston later.