Gathering to Save Our Democracy

"Because Every Vote Should Be Accurately Counted"

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Who Are We

We are a grassroots group of Tennessee citizens who are working to ensure that all elections are transparent and verifiable.

* We have no financial stake in decisions regarding voting machine technology.
* We are not being paid for our efforts.
* We are doing this on our own time.
* We stand to gain nothing except a fair and verifiable election process in Tennessee, the most important prize of all.

What We Believe

All elections should be conducted using paper ballot voting systems that ensure the highest ethical standards, full enfranchisement, and independent verification, while using only secure electronic voting equipment.

What We Want

* Every vote cast must be a paper ballot that has been marked and verified as accurate by the voter. This ballot is the ballot of record.
* Mandatory recounts of a sample of ballots after every election to check for problems and verify results.

What Action Is Needed

* The Tennessee Legislature should pass a law as soon as possible requiring voter verifiable paper ballots. Call and write your state legislators telling them we need this law. Time is running out to implement any new election legislation before this most critical 2008 election.

Learn more about the issues and our efforts. Email us to join our mailing list.

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Vote Trust USA

Press Account of TN Voter Confidence Act Passage


Machines to Create Confident Balloting

New Tenn. voting devices will provide paper backup

By Richard Locker
Memphis Commercial Appeal, Friday, June 6, 2008

NASHVILLE -- Bernie Ellis and Dick Williams stood Thursday with other citizens behind Gov. Phil Bredesen as he signed the Tennessee Voter Confidence Act they had worked for since the uproar over massive discrepancies in the 2004 presidential election in Ohio.

The Tennessee act requires that every county to use -- no later than the November 2010 election -- voting machines that produce a voter-verifiable paper ballot trail in case recounts are necessary.

Voters will mark ovals alongside candidate names on paper ballots similar to the standardized test sheets students fill out, and then feed them into optical scan devices that record the votes. The ballots will be stored for manual recounts if necessary.

That means 93 of Tennessee's 95 counties will be replacing their current voting machines, including Shelby County and its touch-screen voting system that cost $4.2 million in 2006. Hamilton and Pickett counties now use the optical devices.

State Election Coordinator Brook Thompson estimates the new equipment, plus other devices to enable disabled people to use similar ballots, will cost the state and federal governments about $25 million. Local election commissions won't have to foot the bill.

Ellis, an epidemiologist, and members of the statewide organization Gathering to Save Our Democracy, have been working for the bill since the nucleus of the group formed in December 2004, after the last presidential election, which followed the Florida debacle that delayed the outcome of the 2000 presidential election.

The group lobbied state legislators, who had already begun a study of the state's voting systems, and a bill was introduced in the 2005 legislative session that would require all new voting machines acquired to produce a paper version of all votes cast.

It finally won approval this year, passing the House 92-3 and the Senate 32-0.

The bill also requires county election commissions to conduct hand-count audits of the voter-verified paper ballots of at least the top race in the federal, state, county and municipal elections on the ballot. The audits would be conducted in at least 3 percent of the precincts, comprising at least 3 percent of the voters in that election, and 3 percent of early votes.

Thompson said the state and local election commissions will begin working to replace voting machines after this year's elections, with a goal of having the new devices in place for the May and August primaries of 2010, before the mandatory November 2010 deadline.