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University of Iowa News Release

April 9, 2004

New MoveOn Book Prompts Special "Live From Prairie Lights" Event April 21

The release of "MoveOn's 50 Ways to Love Your Country: How to Find Your Political Voice and Become a Catalyst for Change" has prompted a special event on "Live from Prairie Lights," the literary readings series hosted by Julie Englander on University of Iowa radio station WSUI, AM 910.

"Voting Machines: The Good, The Bad and The Really Really Ugly" will be the topic of the event, led by University of Iowa computer science faculty member Douglas Jones and long-time Johnson County Auditor Tom Slockett, at 8 p.m. Wednesday, April 21.

The broadcast from the Prairie Lights bookstore at 15 S. Dubuque St. in downtown Iowa City can be heard on the Internet at

Arianna Huffington, syndicated columnist and author of "Fanatics and Fools: The Game Plan for Winning Back America," wrote, "'MoveOn's 50 Ways to Love Your Country' is a user-friendly 'How To' guide for fixing our broken democracy. Both nuts-and-bolts practical and deeply personal, this book is political Viagra for anyone tired of feeling hopeless, helpless and impotent in the face of our Big Money/Big Media-controlled political system."

One of the urgent topics of the current political season is electronic voting, and the technology's vulnerability to voting fraud and "fixed" elections, subverting democracy. Poorly designed and safeguarded electronic systems can also make the original intent of the voter inaccessible, beyond the possibility of examination or correction.

Douglas Jones, former chair of the Iowa Board of Examiners for Voting Machines and Electronic Voting Systems, jumped to the forefront in national news when the vulnerabilities of Diebold electronic voting systems were investigated.

Jones has written, "Under the current Federal Election Commission (FEC) guidelines for electronic voting systems, all custom-built software is subject to examination by an independent third party. On the other hand, 'industry standard components' are acceptable, as is . . .

"The reason this concerns me is that we see a larger and larger fraction of the software inside the voting system becoming proprietary product of a third party and exempt from the requirement that it be available for a source code inspection. Furthermore, the size of commercial operating systems is immense, so an effective inspection is very hard to imagine!

"The time has come for computer professionals to press for a change to the guidelines for voting machines, asking that all software included in such machines be either open source, available for public inspection, or at least open to inspection by a third party independent testing authority." is one of the fastest growing, largest political activist groups in the nation. It seeks to be a catalyst for a new kind of grassroots involvement, supporting busy but concerned citizens in finding their political voice. Founded in 1998 by Joan Blades and Wes Boyd, two Silicon Valley entrepreneurs, now has more than 2 million members worldwide.

MoveOn is perhaps best known for its "Bush in 30 Seconds" video contest, and the decision of CBS to refuse to sell time for the winning spot to be broadcast during the Super Bowl.

A compilation of personal anecdotes from MoveOn members, "MoveOn's 50 Ways to Love Your Country" also includes tips and resources (how to write an op-ed piece, how to open a dialogue with a public official, how to create an online petition, etc.) to help motivate others to become informed and involved. Al Gore, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, and author and journalist Gaily Sheehy wrote introductions to some of the book's sections.

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STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa Arts Center Relations, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 351, Iowa City, IA 52242-2500.

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