URGENT Fundraising Appeal
Redistricting Ballot Proposal

For the past two years, MERA has been working in coalition with other reform groups in order to stop the partisan gerrymandering of political districts in Michigan. Now those efforts are leading to action.

Contributions can be made online at https://votersnotpoliticians.nationbuilder.com/donate or they can be sent to:

Voters Not Politicians Ballot Committee
P.O. Box 8362
Grand Rapids MI 49518

If you contribute by mail please use this contribution form.

VotersNotPoliticians is the grass-roots coalition's political action ballot committee which will be attempting to put a proposal on the 2018 Michigan ballot to amend Michigan’s Constitution with a citizen-controlled independent system of drawing voting maps for legislative and Congressional districts. This will take about 400,000 voter signatures.

Right now in Michigan, politicians have the power to draw the lines, and therefore they’re making the rules. Voters Not Politicians values the voice of the Michigan voter, and is taking action to reform how voting maps in Michigan are drawn so your vote matters and your voice is heard.

Fundraising is challenging for an organization that looks great on paper, but has no track record. VotersNotPoliticians needs to raise about $100,000 in the next 3 weeks to fully fund the launch and the early phase of petition circulation. VNP has no paid staff. All of the money is for overhead.

MERA has made a generous donation and we hope our members and supporters will consider making as big a contribution as you possibly can.

Unlike political candidates, VNP as a ballot committee can accept unlimited contributions from individuals and business entities. Contributions are NOT tax deductible.

Thank you for supporting election reform in Michigan.

 

End Partisan Gerrymandering


Nonpartisan Redistricting Reform

On Sunday, Feb. 19, MERA sponsored a public forum "End Partisan Gerrymandering in Michigan." Details: What Is The Problem? How Do We Solve It? Panelists: Judy Karandjeff, Pres., League of Women Voters of Michigan (LWVMI), and Walt Sorg of Michigan Election Reform Alliance (MERA); Moderated by: Patrick Levine Rose

The forum was attended by about 650 people. You can follow the presentations here. To sign up directly for the coming ballot campaign, please visit the new ballot group: VotersNotPoliticians.com .

 

Michigan's Failed Recount

And What We Can Do To Fix Our Broken Election System


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In a press conference shortly after the failed Michigan presidential recount, MERA's Statewide Coordinator, Jan BenDor assesses the problems and weaknesses revealed both by the failed recount and during the election.

Michigan's Failed Recount (Power Point Slides)


Tony Trupiano interviews Jonathan Simon (3 pts.)


Part I: Embed and share.

Part II: Embed and share.

Part III: Embed and share.

 

Simon is the author of Code Red: Computerized Election Theft and The New American Century: POST - E2014 Edition.

 


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MERA's Bruce Fealk discusses Michigan's insecure voting with Tony Trupiano

 

 

Walt Sorg Testifies on Bill to Split Michigan's Electoral College Vote


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November 17, 2014 -- Walt Sorg, MERA Council member, testified for MERA before the Michigan House Committee on Elections and Ethics. The bill, HB 5974, would split Michigan's electoral college votes for president:

"We are opposed to HB 5974 because of the long-term damage it could cause to Michigan’s political influence in the nation, and because it could add needless expense to our presidential elections.

"Influence in Congress comes from the combination of the number of members, and the seniority of those members. Michigan’s gradual loss of influence in Congress caused by population shifts was drastically accelerated this year with the retirement of four senior members: Representatives Camp, Rogers and Dingell; and Senator Levin.

"HB 5974 would diminish Michigan’s national influence even more. The bill effectively puts 1-to-5 electoral votes in contest rather than 16. This reduces Michigan’s influence in electing a President to that of a third-tier state such as Utah, Nebraska or Hawaii and gives far more influence to smaller states such as Indiana, Minnesota and Iowa.

"It also makes the possibility of expensive statewide recounts far more likely because a shift of just 1.5% [as specified in the bill] could switch an electoral vote.

"MERA’s research on aging tabulators, published earlier this year, showed that this is close to the average margin of tabulator error, so unless we hand-counted the entire state we would be allowing the aging machines to influence the election of the President of the United States.

"The bill sponsor has stated that his purpose is to encourage national candidates to pay more attention to Michigan. Even when candidates do not campaign in person, they invest heavily in Michigan to the tune of tens-of-millions of dollars.

"Michigan could lose the bulk of those campaign expenditures simply because the “Return on Investment” is reduced. Instead of spending that money in the hope of winning 16 electoral votes, they would be facing the same media costs for a potential gain of 1-to-5 electoral votes.

"The fact that this change away from winner-take-all is being promoted by the national chairman of one political party, and only being discussed in some states which share a common political profile, suggests the true objective is something other than improving the integrity of the electoral process. If states such as Texas, Oklahoma or Arkansas were also considering this change we would give it more credence.

"As a unilateral action this bill only serves to reduce Michigan’s national influence and the impact of Michigan’s voters on national policy. We urge its defeat."

Additional testimony from the hearing can be found here.

Bill to Split Michigan's Electoral College Vote Tabled

December 14, 2014 -- HB 5974, a bill to split Michigan's Electoral College vote, was set aside for the rest of the lame duck session, but might be resurrected next year.

MERA thanks all the Michigan Election Coalition members who provided testimony opposing HB 5974, and MEC Executive Director Sharon Dolente, whose leadership helped to assure strong and varied testimony. MERA looks forward to working together in the coming year with the same enthusiasm and energy.

Facing Michigan's Election Cliff

(Lansing, January 8, 2014) -- The credibility of Michigan voting results is endangered by a system relying on aging machines utilizing unreliable technology. These machines produce tabulation error rates large enough to change election outcomes, according to a report from the Michigan Election Reform Alliance (MERA).

Facing Michigan’s Election Cliff cites widespread machine breakdowns along with MERA-conducted random audits showing significant tabulation error rates. It recommends the state transition to a “more transparent, accurate, and verifiable tabulation system” for future elections, possibly even returning to manual vote counts.

As an interim measure, MERA urges “implementation of a program of random hand count audits to verify the accuracy of machine-produced results.”

Contribute

Please make donations payable to
"Michigan Election Reform Alliance.Org"
and mail to:

MERA
P.O. Box 981246
Ypsilanti, MI 48198-1246

Please include membership form.
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You may also donate online at Pay Pal.
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MERA is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization; contributions are deductible on federal taxes. All contributions are dedicated to MERA's election reform projects.
“The costs of doing nothing are high, while the costs of addressing the problem are small in comparison, with a high rate of return. Investing in a dependable, efficient vote tabulation system would result in savings of real dollars, an enhanced public perception that Michigan’s elections are fairly and equitably administered, and the certainty that our elected officials are indeed the ones for whom the majority voted.”

Michigan voting relies on optical-scan tabulators. Physical limitations of the technology make the system’s accuracy unreliable, subject to paper jams and misreads of ballots.

MERA has conducted sample audits in both the 2008 and 2012 general elections. (See citizen audit of Allegan Co. elections) Both were presidential elections which have the highest voter participation. The 2008 audit of state election board results in 17 precincts found machine error rates of 0.09% to 0.48%, with an overall average of 0.26%. In a separate ballot count audit, three precincts from the November, 2012 general election showed discrepancies of 0.33% to 0.45%. (More than a dozen races at the sate and county level were decided by a margin of 1% or less.)

“This is not a partisan issue,” noted MERA Statewide Coordinator Jan BenDor. “Everyone has a stake in having the most accurate election counts possible. The current system simply cannot be trusted to tell us the true winner in close races.”

The report also documents large numbers of machine breakdown reports during elections. In 2012, there were at least 783 documented service requests for tabulators. Each service request adds expense and uncertainty to the process. Adding to the confusion and expense has been the introduction of electronic poll books which have replaced printed precinct voter registration lists.

“The 2012 voter hotline reports included numerous complaints about delays caused by failed” electronic poll books, the report notes.

Next Council Meetings

When: Sunday, June 11. 1-3 p.m. Annual Membership Meeting, public welcome. Location t.b.a.

Sunday, July 23. 1-3 p.m. Video conference.

The public is cordially
invited to attend.

Click here during the meeting time to join a MERA video conference at our Google Hangout. You may need to install a plug-in in your browser. The Google Hangout page will alert and guide you.

For a phone conference, please email Michael-David BenDor for call-in information.

Current voting systems were purchased utilizing federal funds under the Help America Vote Act at a cost of more than $43-million. Replacing the old equipment would cost an estimated $65 million (including maintenance contracts).

MERA reports that “private meetings on replacing election equipment have been taking place among the Bureau of Elections staff and a small group of hand-picked Clerks. These meetings have included visits to “warehouses” where participants are given sales

demonstrations. Such meetings do not pass the smell test for an equal opportunity procurement procedure, and can hardly be considered a public and transparent decision making process.”

Instead, MERA urges the state to institute an open, public process to consider new vote counting approaches. The system must combine accuracy, security against fraud and manipulation, generate an audit trail, and allow for manual recounts.

MERA suggests a return to hand-counted elections would be more accurate, and also cost significantly less than replacing expensive equipment with newer machines.

See also:
The "Night Shift" interviews MERA's Jan BenDor on the Election Cliff.
The Michigan Election Reform Alliance (MERA) is a non-profit, non-partisan, pro-democracy, grassroots organization dedicated to the realization of election processes that consistently uphold the principles of democracy to ensure the confidence of voters and maximize representation of all citizens of the United States of America.

The full Election Cliff report, is available at:
http://www.michiganelectionreformalliance.org/ElectionCliff.pdf.