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Movie Producer Penny Little Comes to Santa Cruz to Finalize Filming of 'Electile Dysfunction'

On February 4th at 7:30 P.M. in the Veterans Memorial Building in downtown Santa Cruz (846 Front Street), Penny Little, the producer and director of the movie “Electile Dysfunction� will be at the Open Voting Consortium’s fundraiser event, camera in hand, to film activists, organizers, and members of the general public about the problems with the voting machines used in the last presidential election and alternative systems that can be adopted in the future. Speaking at the event will be activists Emily Levy, Project Coordinator of the Richard Hayes Philips project which discovered many election anomalies in Ohio, and Maureen Smith, long-time peace and social justice activist. Alan Dechert, president and founder of the Open Voting Consortium, will speak at the event to educate the public about the Consortium’s open voting system. The event will also feature showings of clips from the movies “Votergate� and Little’s most recent version of her film “Electile Dysfunction,� live music from the political rock band Ms. Information and the Santa Cruz Jazz Society, and a dance performance by the Federal Dancing Authority. Activists from as far as San Francisco and Berkeley will be attending the event, including Gary Hewlett, one of the organizers of the Mainstreet Moms Operation Blue (formerly known as Mainstreet Moms Oppose Bush).
Penny Little from People to People TV is making the trip up from Santa Barbara, California just to interview and meet people at the Open Voting Consortium event. “I want to hear how technology can be kept in the voting process,� Little said. “I believe it can still be a part of the election system, if it is used responsibly.� Little has been interested in the Open Voting Consortium’s open voting system since she met Arthur Keller, a computer science professor at the University of California Santa Cruz and a board member of the Consortium, in Boston at a political rally. Little’s film focuses on the concerns with the current use of electronic voting machines that do not have paper trails and are programmed with proprietary code (no one can see how the machines are programmed). The Open Voting Consortium’s open voting system is mentioned in the “solutions� part of Little’s film.

The Open Voting Consortium’s open voting system involves computers that print a paper ballot after each person votes. The paper ballots are then counted using a bar-code printed on the ballots. “The system combines the advantages of computer voting, like blind people can vote without assistance and it is easy to tell what choice the voter intended to make, with the security of voter-verified paper ballots,� said Lara Shaffer, the event’s organizer. All machines in the open voting system use open source software (anyone can see how the machines are programmed) and recycled computers can be used instead of expensive new touch-screens. Jim March from Bev Harris’s group agrees that open source code needs to be part of the solution, “I believe we need to go to open source software where everyone can inspect how their vote gets processed, rather than the black box secrecy involved in the private voting companies today.�

Santa Cruz County will be among the forty-eight counties in California that will have to adopt a new voting system in which sight-impaired individuals can vote without assistance before 2006 to be in compliance with the federally mandated Help America Vote Act of 2002. The Open Voting Consortium hopes that its open voting system will be chosen by the state of California as its new voting system.

The event on February 4th in Santa Cruz will be the first of many events in Northern California to drum up grass-roots support for the Open Voting Consortium. The next events will take place in the Bay Area on February 25 and February 26 and will feature Bob Fitrakis, editor of the Free Press who has written many columns on election reform.

The Open Voting Consortium (OVC) is a non-profit organization dedicated to the development, maintenance, and delivery of open voting systems for use in public elections.

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