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Safe Voting Machines for the 2020 presidential election

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penPittsburgh.Org spent 2017 working to have obsolete, insecure voting machines replaced with a new paper-backed voting system.   In consultation with cybersecurity and computer experts and with input from voting rights advocates, OpenPittsburgh.Org prepared an ordinance that would create an expert Voting System Review Commission which would determine the best system for the County to acquire.   A similar ordinance was passed unanimously in 2006, the difference being that it was purely advisory, whereas the current proposed ordinance would instead put a referendum on the ballot by which the County electorate could either approve or disapprove its acquisition.

Unfortunately, the intransigence of the Allegheny County administration forced OpenPittsburgh.Org to take legal action after our proposed ordinance was submitted to County Council through Agenda Initiative and the County Solicitor blocked County Council from even considering it.   Since holding a hearing on October 20, 2017, Judge Joseph James held his 3.5 page decision against us until the last day to file for the Spring primary.   We filed an appeal at 3:40pm on Monday, March, 26th, -- we need your support now!

That brings matters to the next step for 2018, which involves approaching the issue at the municipal level.   The Election Code provides that any municipality can put a referendum on its local ballot to "authorize and direct the use of" the voting system used in its polling places.   All that is needed is a resolution of its governing body or submission of a petition with signatures equal in number to at least 10% of those voting in the previous election.   For a typical election nearly half of Allegheny County's 130 municipalities would need only the required minimum of 50 signatures.   You can obtain a petition to use in your municipality upon request by contacting OpenPittsburgh.Org.

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.

$20 for 2020

Please give $20 to get paper-backed voting for the 2020 presidential election

Litigation is expensive, but sometimes it is necessary such as when public officials don't want to comply with the law and are denying the citizenry of its rights as guaranteed by the Pennsylvania Constitution and Pennsylvania Election Code.   Both provide for the right of the electorate to "approve and direct the use of voting machines."   Since August, the Allegheny County administration has stifled a citizen effort to have an expert Commission review and assess the needs of the County for a safe and secure voting system which utilizes a human readable, voter verified, paper ballot or record for audit and recount purposes.

The initial filing, briefs, and court hearing in the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas has a remaining balance due of over $5000 which we are seeking to raise through our "$20 for 2020" fundraising campaign.   If you think it is important to replace the currently obsolete, insecure voting system in use in Allegheny County with a system that uses a more secure paper ballot or record as recommended by virtually all cybersecurity experts, then we hope you will consider making a donation now to help defray these unavoidable costs.   We must also raise money to cover expected appeals costs which are likely to run $30,000 or more.   This is not litigation that will be dragged out for years, so we must raise this money quickly.

Beyond the litigation costs, we are collecting 5000 signatures to place a referendum on the Spring Ballot.   The best petitioners expect to be compensated, for which we are seeking to raise an additional $15,000 to cover their costs.   Please help by making a small (or large) donation today.   As a grassroots, bottom-up effort, it relies upon the goodwill of people like you.

Thank you.