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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.

Preamble

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hereas, Article 6, Community Advisory Boards was effectively rendered null and void on December 31, 2000, when City Council officially dissolved the Community Advisory Boards citywide; and

Whereas, the citizens of the City of Pittsburgh need and desire increased access to public records; to publicly available information concerning the City and their neighborhoods; and to information about what their government is planning to do, before it does it; and

Whereas, the people deserve a better opportunity to join and participate proactively in the decision making process of their community; to provide information and express their concerns to their public officials; and to more fully explain to their government what they want it to do; and

Whereas, the City has an obligation to provide those who may be affected by its actions with ample opportunity to have a say; the City needs a government structured to better ensure it works with and for all people and not just an elite few; and the City can benefit from having a dedicated body for citizen involvement which can provide an enhanced conduit for communication between the people and their government; and

Whereas, in the time since the City Charter was first drafted and enacted in 1974, technological advances now enable opportunities for enhanced public access to records and information; for more meaningful and effective involvement in monitoring and reviewing government actions; and for more productively providing comment and information to the government, in ways unimagined four decades ago; now

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herefore, Article 6, Community Advisory Boards is repealed in its entirety and is replaced with Article 6, Open Government, moving Section 810 of the Charter to become Section 601 and adding Sections 602-621; and

Further, Article 1, Home Rule Powers - Definitions is amended to add definitions applicable to the amended Article 6; and Article 3, Legislative Branch, Sections 318 and 320 are amended to provide corrections and clarifications relevant to Article 6, as amended: