I’m getting ready for the We Count 2006 conference for fair elections in Cleveland this weekend. I’m thrilled about meeting a number of people that I’ve only had cyber-contact with, up till now. The conference has so many outstanding speakers (among them Mark Crispin Miller, Bev Harris, Steven Freeman, Bob Fitrakis, Harvey Wasserman, Lynn Landes, Paul Lehto and Bob Koehler, my traveling companion), my head is reeling and I haven’t even left the Chicago city limits.

As you might imagine, the subject of the conference is dear to my heart. The following excerpt is from their website Read this and tell me it doesn’t sound fabulously interesting. What could possibly be more relevant and timely with November just around the corner?

Conference Objectives

EDUCATE: We will warn conference participants about the dangers of electronic voting machines, the privatization of elections and the many other ways that the will of the people has been, and will continue to be, subverted...unless we act.

ACTIVATE: We will provide opportunities for election-integrity and democracy activists to collaborate and organize to build a grassroots election-integrity and democracy movement.

MOTIVATE: Our speakers will inspire participants to “get educated and get involved” to take our elections back and thereby to take our democracy back.

PREPARE: Movement leaders will be on hand to recruit and prepare volunteers to monitor, gather information, investigate and perform other roles needed for the Nov 2006 elections. They will provide educational materials, templates and other resources to citizens so they can play key operational roles in ensuring our votes count in all elections.

CONNECT: The conference will help people “plug in” to the election-integrity and democracy movement at both local and national levels. We will provide opportunities for citizens to become part of the movement—as organizers, monitors, investigators, analysts, independent journalists and more.

PROMOTE: We will use the conference to spotlight national attention on the justifiable and growing concern about the fate of our nation, focusing on the paramount role of elections as the foundation of democracy.

INSPIRE: The conference will inspire us to remain activist in this crucial and profoundly important civic issue and to stay strong in the struggle to reclaim our once-great nation.

I am driving 700 plus miles even though: I’m a homebody and hate traveling, especially long driving trips; I’ll probably have to take bathroom breaks every twenty miles (making the trip even more endless); and I make it a point to avoid large crowds of strangers as much as possible. But the idea of rubbing shoulders with like-minded souls is simply irresistible. I just can’t pass up this opportunity. My dear friend Mary offered to take good notes for me if I choose to stay home and rest my heel injury, as I’ve been advised. Instead, I’m throwing my crutches in the car and hoping that it’s really six hours rather than seven each way and that I’m able to take advantage of having all those wonderful people in one place at the same time.

Besides pre-worrying about everything that can go wrong (car break-down, arriving late, finding myself tongue-tied and overwhelmed), I have to do another thing that I really hate: ask for money. The funds that I raised this summer covered the purchase of 3,000 copies of the DVD “Invisible Ballots” and my trip to DC to distribute them to one thousand delegates.

But, now I have gas, hotel and conference expenses to cover. So, I’m appealing to you once again for help. You’ve supported me all along, as we’ve worked to get the word out about electronic voting machines and the general election debacle out there.

I’m proud to report that the Voting Integrity corner of OpEdNews has come into its own over the last nine months; it’s developed a great reputation among voting activists, and networking at this conference will ratchet up that contact to another level. It’s important to go. It can increase my effectiveness as an editor and my understanding of the larger picture. It will put me in touch with people from all over the country who are working hard for all of our sakes. Each of us does what we can: If I’m willing to drive all those hours to take part in this conference, can you help out with a donation? I promise not to live lavishly; in fact, I’m sharing a bed with one of my roommates. The good news is that you make a contribution without even leaving your chair: go online, and use PayPal or a credit card. And, it’s tax deductible! I promise to tell you all about the conference when I catch my breath.

Joan Brunwasser, of Citizens for Election Reform, is a citizen activist working hard to restore and preserve free and fair elections. Her main focus is distributing "Invisible Ballots" through her lending library project. Since mid September, she has loaned the DVD to 'borrowers' in 37 states, DC, Puerto Rico, Canada, Holland, England, Ireland and Japan. She has now enlisted 1,994 individuals and groups in her project and is always looking for new contacts. Her latest target is the local press, local elected officials and other community movers and shakers. She would like to hit 2,000 as close as possible to the first anniversary of her project (mid September). She is the Voting Integrity Editor for Op Ed News. You can contact her at