By Marybeth Kuznik

It was three or four AM, sometime in the Fall of 2004. I was worried about the upcoming elections and couldn't sleep, as if somehow I knew what fate had in store for our nation only a few days later. A pollworker for fifteen years, I realized this could very well be the last General Election ever held on our venerable lever machines. Would this be my last election as a pollworker as well? I knew there was an ugly-looking electronic  "sample" thing already sitting in our Election Bureau office at the county courthouse, and I knew that I had already thought about resigning from my position if and when the county chose one of those paperless, unverifiable systems for future elections. "Why bother," I thought to myself, "in fact why bother to even vote anymore if elections are just going to be stolen from here on out?"

So there I was in the middle of the night, stumbling around the Internet looking for voting machine information, when I clicked into the online movie 'Votergate'.

A few minutes into the movie, a fellow named Andy Stephenson came onscreen to tell the story of how he had contacted the President of the Diebold corporation and was ominously told to back off or he was going to 'get a visit.'

"Who from, Bob?" said Andy Stephenson, "The Easter Bunny or Santa Claus? I'm from Texas, I'm not afraid of you!"

It was right then and there, when I heard those 'fightin' words from that brave man, I realized that we actually still have a real chance to win back our Democracy.

Only days later, the Election of 2004 went into the books as one of the most questionable and contentious in our history. In the weeks that followed, I jumped into the fray and helped with the Green Party recount of Ohio as a regional coordinator, where I learned even more about how fragile and flawed our electoral process is right now. I met many great, dedicated activists and workers, and among these, I began exchanging e-mails and phone messages with Andy Stephenson.


          VotePA member Marybeth Kuznik,
          with her friend Andy Stephenson.

When I finally met Andy face-to-face in Washington D.C., I realized that the determination he shows in 'Votergate' represents only a tiny fraction of the truly dedicated person he is. I could immediately see how and why he has become a leader in the movement toward fair voting systems. Intelligent, fearless, and full of energy and humor, Andy Stephenson is an inspiring person to know.

In February, Andy fell ill after a trip to Washington to lobby for legislation to outlaw the paperless voting machines. He returned to his home in Seattle and we all thought a few days of rest would allow him to get rid of "the bug". But instead of improving, Andy felt worse and worse. Ultimately his test results showed that he has pancreatic cancer.

Andy's cancer has been caught early, but any cancer of the pancreas is extremely serious. If not treated very soon, Andy will die. With treatment, he has a good chance of surviving provided he undergoes a very specialized surgery called a Whipple Procedure. This operation is not routine and can only be done by a few hospitals in our country. One of the best is Johns Hopkins Medical Center in Baltimore. Fortunately, Andy has been scheduled for the surgery at Johns Hopkins the second week of May.

The problem is that Andy Stephenson, like millions of Americans, has no health insurance. A specialized surgery such as the Whipple Procedure is just not available to him unless he can pay. Even with fee reductions, the estimated cost will be about $50,000. And the hospital needs a $25,000 deposit immediately to keep Andy on their surgical schedule.

Andy's friends are working against the clock to raise the money so that he can have this life-saving operation. Andy has been working very hard to help preserve democracy for you, now we are asking for your help to save our friend Andy. If you possibly can, please give to the fund for Andy's surgery. This is a matter of life and death, and we all need Andy alive!

Any amount will help make a difference.

Andy Stephenson has thrown his whole being into the cause of working for open and honest voting systems, crisscrossing the country to do research and to educate others for the past several years, even in the face of personal loss and tragedy. Though he has been diagnosed with one of the most dangerous forms of cancer known, Andy is still spreading the word, trying to reach as many people as he can about how dangerous unverifiable electronic voting machines are to our democratic process.

Andy Stephenson is a true American patriot and hero. He is a brave and dedicated man, and I am incredibly honored to call him my friend.

Please help save my friend Andy Stephenson.



 Read more about Andy HERE:

Will Pitt has written a great update about Andy on the PDA website:   Mike Malloy of Air America radio read Will's piece on the air Friday and asked his listeners to help Andy. More by Will Pitt:

Democratic Underground original request for help (HUGE thread!):
Thanks to sfexpat2000 (Beth) and the other great DU people for getting this going (and thank YOU in advance for helping Andy!