Election Protection Wiki News Roundup

Volunteers at the Center for Media and Democracy's Election Protection Wiki continue to collect reports of ongoing voter suppression.

Among the reports on the Election Protection Wiki from the last few days:

Michigan: GOP admits foreclosure voter suppression scheme.

California voters say they were duped into registering as Republicans

West Virginia: voters say electronic voting machines changed their votes from Democrats to Republicans.

US Supreme Court sides with Ohio election officials against striking 200,000 from the voting roles.

And the Obama campaign has asked the Justice Department to expand the special prosecutor's DOJ politicization probe to see if the ACORN accusations are related

The volunteers are collecting information on polling place shortages, voting machine malfunctions, ballot misprints, voter roll purges, voter intimidation and other election threats. At the same time they are contributing to issue articles on exit polls, student disenfranchisement, the ACORN controversy and other important topics. All of this is being collected into a central location for use by media, activists, advocates and policy-makers on and after election day.

We need every hand we can get to help us get this information ready in time. Come to the Election Protection Wiki and help keep this election honest.

Update [2008-10-21 21:54:42 by Todd Beeton]:The pushback against the ACORN bullshit has gotten more aggressive lately. Great to see Brave New Films has gotten in on the act with this must-see video. Pass it around to anyone you know who is buying the right-wing's "voter fraud" absurdity.

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Election Protection Wiki News Roundup

Volunteers at the Center for Media and Democracy's Election Protection Wiki continue to collect reports of ongoing voter suppression.

Among the reports on the Election Protection Wiki from the last few days:

Michigan: GOP admits foreclosure voter suppression scheme.

California voters say they were duped into registering as Republicans

West Virginia: voters say electronic voting machines changed their votes from Democrats to Republicans.

US Supreme Court sides with Ohio election officials against striking 200,000 from the voting roles.

And the Obama campaign has asked the Justice Department to expand the special prosecutor's DOJ politicization probe to see if the ACORN accusations are related

The volunteers are collecting information on polling place shortages, voting machine malfunctions, ballot misprints, voter roll purges, voter intimidation and other election threats. At the same time they are contributing to issue articles on exit polls, student disenfranchisement, the ACORN controversy and other important topics. All of this is being collected into a central location for use by media, activists, advocates and policy-makers on and after election day.

We need every hand we can get to help us get this information ready in time. Come to the Election Protection Wiki and help keep this election honest.

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Call Out For Election Protection Wiki Help

The Election Protection Wiki needs more tipsters and volunteers to help build our library of reports of voter suppression, questionable voting machines and the like before Election Day!

Volunteers at the Center for Media and Democracy's Election Protection Wiki have collected unbelievable reports of voter suppression nationwide in the nine days since it went online.

Among the reports on the EPWiki:

  • In Colorado and New Mexico there are not enough voting booths or machines for Election Day.

  • Students in Virginia are receiving probing questionnaires from voting officials falsely implying they don't have the right to vote there.
  • In Ohio alone, more than 600,000 newly-registered voters are threatened with purging.
  • There are reports of sometimes-illegal mass voter roll purges in Michigan, New Mexico, Florida, Georgia, Colorado
    and other states. Several states are even purging voter rolls of people who are "Bob" on driver's licenses and "Robert" on voter registration forms.
  • Officials in Indiana are avoiding setting up polling places in areas of the state heavily populated by minorities.
  • The Republican Party in Michigan planned to challenge the registrations of every voter whose home had been foreclosed on recently.
  • ACORN, which has been held out as a bogeyman for voter fraud (though only 26 TOTAL cases of voter fraud were prosecuted nationwide from 2002 - 2005), has bad registration rates below the California Republican Party's and a lawsuit alleging fraud in 2004 was dismissed by a judge for lack of merit?
  • And, of course, there are ongoing worries across the country about electronic voting machines.
The Election Protection Wiki (at EPWiki.org) is the only website trying to document and centralize these reports, which were found scattered across the Web by volunteers. We are trying to get everything ready so activists, advocates and the media have a central place to go on Election Day for immediate information about these issues.

We need your help to collect more reports. No experience is necessary and CMD staffers are here to help with ready-to-go simple tasks and any support you need. Please join us in protecting the right to vote - go to EPWiki.org and click on "things you can do" to begin.

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Help With The Election Protection Wiki

I am working with the Election Protection Wiki project, and we need your help gathering and entering relevant information before election day.

The Election Protection Wiki will be an election-day clearinghouse for election information for all states but focusing on key swing states.  The EP Wiki organizes information about problems that have come up in the past, problems that are likely to come up, who to contact, national and state election protection organizations and other resources.  This will help people to overcome election-day problems.

The EP Wiki isn't trying to duplicate any of the number of great election integrity sites out there - we are instead trying to fill a gaping hole in the greater election protection movement: to be a central hub with spokes out to all the sites and information that even dedicated researchers can easily overlook in the noise of the web.

We are trying to locate and link to every relevant organization and gather or link to all relevant information.  Because this is a project of SourceWatch the EP Wiki already has a very high Google ranking, with its information coming up at or near the top of searches.

It is not difficult to add information to a Wiki.  Every existing page has an Edit tab, and sections of the page have Edit links.  One you sign up for an account you can click to edit the page, add the information, and save it.  There are how-to guides and help/reference articles as well as editors like myself available to work with you.

The Election Protection Wiki project is working in conjunction with the Voter Suppression Wiki.  VSW is taking an activist bent to engage in election protection efforts. The information we collect at the Election Protection Wiki project about the threats to elections in each state helps highlight the greatest ones and provide the necessary background to take informed action.

Please visit and let others know about the Election Protection Wiki project, and help us get this project ready for election day.

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Is Good Messaging Another Quick Fix?

I am in Denver for the 2008 Democratic Convention.

This morning in Denver I attended a Seachange Forum panel on messaging titled "Winning Words on the Toughest Issues: National Security, Taxes, Healthcare and Immigration".

This was an excellent panel on how to talk about progressive values and issues in ways that the public "hears." To really, really simplify the issue, in a 1988 campaign debate between Michael Dukakis and George HW Bush Dukakis was asked, "Governor, if Kitty Dukakis [his wife] were raped and murdered, would you favor an irrevocable death penalty for the killer?" Dukakis replied coolly, "No, I don't, and I think you know that I've opposed the death penalty during all of my life," and calmly went on to explain his position.

He was calm and reasoned, but the public needed to see emotion.  Emotion, not reason is how people decide what they think about issues and people.   It's just the way it is -- it is how our brains work.  This is what neuroscientists, psychologists, marketers and others who study how people make up their minds are concluding.  You have to connect viscerally or people just won't "get it."

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Starz Green Room in Denver

If you are going to be in Denver next week for the Democratic Convention check out the Starz Green Room.  Their description:

The Starz Green Room at the Starz FilmCenter offers major movies, newsmakers of all stripes and a place for delegates, media and notable guests to gather. Just a respite from the 2008 Democratic National Convention, it is mere steps from the Pepsi Center. The Starz Green Room includes topical panels, politically themed films and a VIP Lounge.

Click here to download a PDF event guide.  

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Back To The Vulnerable Elderly

Atria Senior Living and Lazard --  I've been writing about bigger-picture issues but today I'd like to go back where this started, to the most vulnerable people - the elderly.  The residents at the Atria Senior Living facilities are the direct victims of a big company buying up a number of senior living chains, combining them into one big chain and then financializing this as an investment, because everyone knows that the Boomers are getting old so this is a great way to get in on the ground floor of a growing business.  

But viewing elderly people as a business and good investment is the wrong way to approach this.  It's backwards.  It should be, let's take care of elderly people, and do a good job, and provide a good service, and be fairly compensated for our efforts.  That is how a business should be run.  The goal is doing a great job with the product or service provided, not makingthe quick buck by cutting back services and squeezing employees.  This si the new American way of looking at business, but it is just wrong.  

Starting this series, I wrote,

To set the stage, think about yourself getting old, or about your parents or grandparents. Think about reaching a point where you just can't quite get by living on your own at home anymore. So at some point you decide you have to move into a senior facility. What about if you need assisted-living facilities -- a place with people to help you take a shower and things like that. And finally, think about when you might need "memory care." (This is a the name for a special facility for people with Alzheimer's disease.)

These are people who are in no condition to fight battles. Vulnerable is the word here. Extremely vulnerable. You would think people in this phase of their live are people who our society would give special care, special attention, special protections. You would think that our society would join together to take care of them, protect them, shelter them, fight for them.

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Why Do We Allow This System?

I have been writing about the Campaign to Improve Assisted Living -- please visit their website.  

I'd like to talk about the larger picture.  The other day I asked Who Is the Corporation

So here is the thing.  When you talk about a corporation doing something, who are you talking about? In reality you are talking about a few PEOPLE, not some anonymous corporation, PEOPLE.  And when you talk about the people of a corporation you are not talking about Bob in Sales or Mary in Accounts Receivable.  They are not the people who make decisions -- they aren't even asked.  They are told from the top how it is going to be.  When you talj about a corporation doing or saying something you are really talking about A FEW PEOPLE and the things these people do and say are not for "the company" they are necessarily for THEMSELVES.  Corporations do not have voices or thoughts or ideas, a few people who have control of the resources of the corporation do, and always, always act for their OWN gain.
Today let's take a look at Why?

Here we have a country that allows vulnerable elderly people to be treated as a product to be harvested and workers to be treated as economic units or annoying costs to be replaced if they are not efficient enough.  The average worker faces longer working hours for less pay and fewer benefits each year.

How did we get here?  When did we decide to have a system like this?  Did we ever decide?

Who benefits from this system?  In the case of Atria Senior Living Bruce Wasserstein benefits.  Other executives at Atria and Lazard benefit.  Does anyone else?  Why do we allow it?

We used to have kings and feudal lords who "owned" almost everything and told everyone else what to do.  People rose up, battles were fought and eventually a compromise was reached.  England still has a Queen!

In America workers faced brutal conditions because a few powerful wealthy people controlled the economy and the mines and the mills and the factories.  Over time unions formed and fought this and a compromise of sorts was eventually reached.  And over time those unions have been eroded and things have been slipping backwards.  That is a gross simplification, but here we are.

When do We, the People start to decide what kind of economy we want?  In Europe and much of the rest of the world people get five weeks vacation, health care, child care, and rights.  That is because the people there understand that they are in an ongoing fight between the people and the powerful, and they still have strong unions.  In America a very few get fabulously wealthy, supported by the work the rest of us -- here and in the outsourcing countries -- do.

When will We, the People decide that WE want a better system for US?  I suggest taking a look at the SEUI's Accountability Project.  This campaign is intended to help all of us, not just their own membership.  It's a start.  But in your own actions and thoughts, start demanding more.  Start demanding that the few ultra-wealthy and the corporations butt out of our system. We are We, the People and We are supposed to be in charge here.

This post was sponsored in part by The Campaign To Improve Assisted Living.

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How You Can Help Atria Residents and Workers

Last week in Gouging Vulnerable Seniors -- What Can Be Done? I wrote about two big pension funds that have invested in the "Lazard affiliate" that owns Atria Senior Living, and suggested they ask Lazard to clear up their act.  (If you are not familiar with what is happening with Atria, please click this.)  One of these funds is in Quebec, the other in the Netherlands.  These funds have signed on to the United Nation's Principles for Responsible Investment (UN-PRI) and these principles call for investors to take action when their investments are causing harm.

PGGM is a large pension fund in the Netherlands that serves that country's public social workers and health care workers.

La Caisse de Depot et Placements du Quebec ("CDP") -- a large public pension fund in Quebec.

These are prominent, large funds with good reputations on a global stage. They are responsible investors and take it seriously enough to be signatories to the UN-PRI. The Principles' FAQs say "The Principles suggest a policy of engagement with companies rather than screening or avoiding stocks based on ESG criteria (although this may be an appropriate approach for some investors)." I am writing here to encourage PGGM and CDP to ask Lazard to clean up their act, and have Atria treat their elderly residents and their workers better. Ask them to support the International Labor Organization's core conventions, especially Freedom of Association: "The right of workers and employers to form and join organizations of their choice is an integral part of a free and open society. It is a basic civil liberty that serves as a building block for social and economic progress. Linked to this is the effective recognition of the right to collective bargaining. Voice and representation are an important part of decent work."

So OK, that's what THEY can do.  What about you?  

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Who Is the Corporation?

Bumped - Todd

I have been writing about Atria Senior Living, owned by a "Lazard-affiliate." Atria is big a chain of facilities where elderly people live.  It offers assisted living care and "memory care"(which means Alzheimer's care facilities).  Lazard is a big "Bermuda-based" (HA!) Wall Street "buyout firm."

Here's the deal.  Big Wall Street firm Lazard buys a few senior-care facility chains and combines them into Atria.  The "boomers" are aging and will need care so this is the Next Big Thing investment.  Pension funds and others hand over to Lazard millions for this "investment," expecting Lazard to provide a rich return.  This means the seniors (well, their incomes, actually) are the PRODUCT, not the customer here.  The seniors are an annoyance, inefficient, demanding, in the way of maximizing revenue.  Employees are even worse, of course, because they expect to get paid, and want to go home sometimes, and are generally in the way of the supreme goal of maximizing revenue.

And to complicate things Lazard has set up an extremely convoluted system of corporations "affiliated with" other corporations, some based in Bermuda (HA!) and none particularly traceable to being the actual owners of Atria.  No one can really find who ultimately can be held accountable for the hundreds of violations of regulations that Atria commits.

So here is the thing.  When you talk about a corporation doing something, who are you talking about? In reality you are talking about a few PEOPLE, not some anonymous corporation, PEOPLE.  And when you talk about the people of a corporation you are not talking about Bob in Sales or Mary in Accounts Receivable.  They are not the people who make decisions -- they aren't even asked.  They are told from the top how it is going to be.  When you talj about a corporation doing or saying something you are really talking about A FEW PEOPLE and the things these people do and say are not for "the company" they are necessarily for THEMSELVES.  Corporations do not have voices or thoughts or ideas, a few people who have control of the resources of the corporation do, and always, always act for their OWN gain.

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Diaries

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