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Please donate to ensure Allegheny County gets the best Voting Machines

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e need your help to make sure Allegheny County gets the best voting machines.   OpenPittsburgh.Org worked during 2017 in consultation with cybersecurity and computer experts and with input from voting rights advocates to propose an ordinance that would create an expert Voting System Review Commission which would determine the best system for the County to acquire.   But the County Solicitor would not let County Council consider it.   So we appealed to the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas and Commonwealth Court.

The litigation required hiring a law firm to file the appeal, incurring the accompanying filing and attorney fees.   We have paid around $10,000 so far, but the remaining balance is roughly $33,000 which we need your help to pay.   Anything you can give will help ensure we obtain the best and most secure voting machines possible with voter verified paper-backed voting.   Please donate.

As an alternative, we have also prepared an ordinance to restructure the current Board of Elections as an independent Board of Elections and Registration which separates the oversight of elections from incumbent elected officials and requires some of its appointed members have expertise in computers, cybersecurity, and the needs of people with disabilities.   Half of the new Board would need to have experience as Judges of Elections to make sure a number of its members have prior hands on experience administering elections..   We will be collecting the signatures of 500+ registered Allegheny County voters in order to submit the proposal to County Council.

Open Government Amendment to the Pittsburgh City Charter

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n 2016, OpenPittsburgh.Org managed to obtain enough signatures to place a comprehensive City Charter Amendment on the fall ballot after acquiring a federal injunction that enabled using professional canvassers to collect petition signatures.   However, the Mayor's Chief of Staff objected and sought to have the Amendment removed from the ballot.   Though the objections were filed well beyond the mandatory challenge period, nonetheless, Judge Joseph James rejected 70 years of case law and allowed the objections to stand, then withheld his ruling in the expedited case until over two weeks later, issuing it just two days before the ballots were sent to the printer, making a successful appeal virtually impossible.

While being removed from the ballot was at first a huge disappointment, we quickly recognized it created a tremendous opportunity.   Despite the Mayor's statements of support for open government to the contrary, we could clearly see we would be ill-advised to expect the administration to implement the Open Government Amendment effectively if it were ratified.   We can now revise the Amendment, splitting it into two referendum questions, the second being to establish a new, independent Open Government Office with a non-partisan elected director.   The new office would be responsible for implementing the City's new Open Government requirements; for establishing a citywide Citizen Advisory Panel; and for providing the support needed to ensure effective proactive public participation -- all of which in the Amendment's earlier versions was to have been the responsibility of the mayor.

You can get involved and help with drafting the final provisions for the new Open Government Office by contacting OpenPittsburgh.Org today.

About

Since its founding in 2003, OpenPittsburgh.Org has worked to promote the concept and implementation of open government in Pittsburgh.   OpenPittsburgh.Org is registered with the County Elections Division as the election committee supporting its primary focus, the Open Government Amendment to the Pittsburgh City Charter.

With open government in a representative democracy dependent upon secure elections, in 2013 OpenPittsburgh.Org added the issue of obtaining secure voting systems in Pennsylvania and Allegheny County.   After the 2016 presidential election and the controversy of Pennsylvania's inability to audit or recount the election votes, OpenPittsburgh.Org took the lead in developing the strategy and drafting an Allegheny County ordinance that would create an expert Voting Process Review Commission to identify the optimum voting system and place a referendum on the ballot for the electorate to approve or disapprove.

OpenPittsburgh.Org is currently the lead plaintiff in litigation challenging the County's refusal to consider obtaining a new voting system.   OpenPittsburgh.Org is currently petitioning to place questions of the Spring ballot in May, 2018 which would require the use of secure, human readable paper ballots as part of a new voting system which the voters of individual municipalities can require for their local voting districts.

The Open Government Amendment Election Committee and OpenPittsburgh.Org's Board consists of:

  • David Tessitor, Chair
  • Hal Dixler, Treasurer
  • William Lawrence III