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How to bring recountable voting to your municipality

As explained elsewhere on this website, OpenPittsburgh.Org is currently in court over its effort to have the County replace our aging, insecure voting machines with a new secure voting system that utilizes a human readable paper ballot or record as the official record of each voter's choices.

While we wait for the court case to play out, you don't have to wait to obtain new, secure voting equipment for use at polling places within your municipality.   As an individual citizen, you can request that your municipality's governing body pass a resolution which would put a referendum question on next Spring's primary ballot.   This article in its full version provides a proposed question and discussion about its legal basis.

For more information and assistance in your effort, contact OpenPittsburgh.Org at (412) 532-8338.

City Council hearing update

The August 30, 2917 public hearing about having City Council place a referendum question on the election ballot went very well.   There is a truncated video online which unfortunately cut off the beginning of the hearing.   Followup action by concerned citizens is still needed.   See the revised City Council public hearing notice article for what you can do.

Important public hearing!

Post hearing follow up:   Still write and call; same info below applies.

Pittsburgh City Council Public Hearing

on creating a referendum to have

the County provide new voting machines

Wednesday, August 30, 2017 at 2pm

City Council Chambers
5th Floor, City-County Building
414 Grant Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15219

For more information call: (412) 532-8338

Your action still needed:

  • Write – Send an email to your City Council member or a letter urging him or her to support the referendum.   Use our contact form to email your comments to us too.

  • Call – You can speak to your City Council representative or their staff by phoning the City Clerk at (412) 255-2138. Ask for your Council representative and let them know you want City Council to put the voting machine referendum on the ballot.

Agenda Initiative dismissal appealed

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n appeal was filed Monday, August 14, 2017, in the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas contesting the County Solicitor's disallowance of a proposed ordinance that could ultimately result in use of a new human-recountable voting system for Allegheny County in time for the 2020 presidential election.   The proposed ordinance, submitted through the home rule charter's Agenda Initiative procedure, would create an expert commission to review the County's voting process, make recommendations, and identify the optimum voting system for use in Allegheny County; a referendum would then be held for voters to approve or disapprove its acquisition.   Nearly 800 signatures were submitted, of which nearly 700 were determined to be valid County voters with 500 being required, but the Solicitor ruled against the ordinance on legal grounds which OpenPittsburgh.Org, the Black Political Empowerment Project (B-PEP), and several individual appellants contend in their appeal are unfounded.   Oral argument and an evidentiary hearing are scheduled for October 20, 2017.

Top-down Politics vs Bottom-up Change

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he 2016 election year brought to the polls large numbers of first time voters and those who seldom vote.   The overblown hype and distrust sown in the lead up to the election proved to be quite divisive and has wasted energies which could be put to more productive use.   By focusing upon the selection of public officeholders, in general, and specifically upon the nation's highest office, we keep hoping in vain for meaningful solutions to trickle down.

Electoral democracy's inherent nature of top-down governance is simply insufficient to address today's challenges.   While electing good candidates is important and not to be discounted, it's time that we pursue a new bottom-up approach.   Real solutions can only come when average citizens are provided with a structural and operational framework that enables them to work together within the halls of government where they can better monitor and hold it accountable and, at the same time, proactively catalyze needed changes.

4 pillars of the Open Government concept

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hen most people hear the phrase "open government." they think of "transparency," but, while that is essential, it's only one part.   There are actually four essential pillars -- transparency, notification, public participation, and accountability -- all of which are necessary for truly open government.   By implementing comprehensive reforms at the municipal level, first with Pittsburgh and then other interested communities, we can build a base of open government from which the model can eventually be expanded to higher levels of government too.

Pittsburgh Open Government Amendment

Synopsis

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ew Article 6 -- The Amendment deletes the present Article 6: Community Advisory Boards which is now irrelevant because City Council abolished all of the City's Community Advisory Boards, effective December 31, 2000.   In its place, the Amendment will substitute a new Article 6: Open Government which expands upon the recent Open Data legislation passed by City Council, providing greater opportunities for public participation in the governance of the city, including an ability for individuals to be notfied about legislative and administrative actions before they occur and assuring that Council and the Mayor give more attention to resident's input.

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