SENECA NATION CATTARAUGUS – Richard E. Nephew, on behalf of One Nation Party of the Seneca Nation, is taking action to address the continued and future usage of the archaic Automatic Voting Machine (AVM) in Seneca Nations elections. The machine and how it is used in the Seneca Nation has created two distinct violations of the Seneca Nation’s 168-year-old Constitution.
Nephew has filed a complaint in the Seneca Nation’s Peacemakers Court, asking the court to declare the use of the “straight ticket” lever of the AVM unconstitutional in Seneca Nation General Elections. He says this court action is the only remedy available to ensure that Seneca voting rights are protected.
The AVM was patented in 1889 and has been in use in Seneca Nations elections only since about 1974. The large straight ticket level functions to allow the voter to select an entire party slate with on lever, if desired. According to information and belief this practice is only done in the Seneca Nation elections in this region and its constitutionality has not been challenged before.
The second violation of the Constitution is the AVM’s clicking lever mechanism, which is inconsistent with the constitutional requirement of a private vote. “Anyone within earshot, from poll workers to waiting voters, can hear the often loud clicking of the levers as votes are cast,” said Nephew.
The Seneca Nation Constitution states, “the vote of the Nation shall … be cast by the individual voter, out of the presence of others, and be cast … without inspection by the Board of Inspectors.”
“Apparently every voting jurisdiction in the United States has adopted technologically superior, new voting machines. There is no good, logical reason for the Seneca Nation to continue to deny its citizens the right to vote in complete privacy,” said Nephew.
In Seneca Nation elections, anyone present at the polls has a very good indication how others vote, just by the number of machine “clicks” heard. Political parties are allowed to have their own “poll watchers” present and can witness the voters who come and go. By listening for the clicks, they are also able to create lists of those who use one lever and those who don’t.
“The AVM’s straight ticket lever and the clicks must be recognized for the coercive tools they have become, and their use discontinued. We need to end the sounds of the machine telling the story of how each individual Seneca votes, a direct violation of the Seneca constitution. AVMs used in Seneca Judicial elections are configured to use one lever per candidate, as it should be. Only opponents of fair elections will be opposed to this change,” said Nephew.