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On Our Loss of John Gideon
and the Continuing Work of VotersUnite.Org

by Ellen Theisen. May 1, 2009.

Thanks to Joyce McCloy for posting a collection of tributes to John here.

As the founder of VotersUnite.Org, I am deeply saddened to acknowledge the recent passing of my colleague and good friend, John Gideon. He joined us shortly after VotersUnite.Org “kicked off” the MythBreakers project in April 2004, and he became a trusted and full partner almost immediately.

Sharing the same vision was a blessing to us. VotersUnite.Org has always been committed to our mission of distributing accurate, well-researched, useful information regarding election issues, and John fulfilled on that mission in spades. He expanded the vision and reach of VotersUnite.Org beyond what any of us imagined at the beginning.

I’d like to take a moment to reflect on the significant contributions John made to the cause of election integrity and to assure you of what you can continue to count on from VotersUnite.Org.

John and I experienced an unusual synergy in our work because of the single vision we shared. We were both committed to distributing well-researched information to elections officials, elected officials, the media, and the public. We both saw the enormous value of providing citizens with the information they need to work toward transparent elections in their communities.

Most of you reading this know about Daily Voting News, John's brainchild and crucial contribution to the election integrity movement. But he contributed much more. DVN was his starting place, and all that he did emanated from there.

Because he researched the news daily in order to send out the DVN, John held in his head probably the broadest scope of knowledge held by anyone in the country regarding events related to election issues. And he shared that knowledge enthusiastically.

Because he was committed to distributing information as quickly as it came his way, John became a trusted resource for citizen advocates, election attorneys, and election officials.

Because he was bothered by the holes in media reports, John contacted election officials and sent public information requests to fill those holes, thus expanding the quantity of reliable information VotersUnite.Org was able to distribute.

Because he valued accuracy, John tactfully (most of the time) corrected reporters who got it wrong, thus becoming a trusted resource for them, too, and contributing to the accuracy of subsequent news articles.

Because of all of this, John became a central hub of information on events related to election issues. He was a magnet for information requests and for information that people wanted to make public. He took every email or telephone request very seriously, researched any questions when necessary, and returned a thoughtful response.

A watchdog, John scoured the website of the Election Assistance Commission (EAC) for new posts, distributed relevant links to those he thought might want to know, and often contacted the EAC with questions, concerns, and requests for more information. He also watched the Washington State official websites and pressed for election integrity in his own state.

In addition to his letters to election officials, testimony to legislatures, and series of 2006 "train wreck" articles that are posted on VotersUnite.Org, John’s wealth of knowledge and the passion he had for all aspects of election integrity compelled him to write many informative articles which he posted on BradBlog. He also provided insightful weekly news updates on the Voice of the Voters radio and internet program in Pennsylvania. He was periodically invited to inform the public on the Peter B. Collins radio show heard in California and other states, as well as other broadcasts.

John – through DVN and the many other ways in which he distributed up-to-the-minute, accurate information – provided precisely the type of democracy-sustaining reporting the founding fathers had in mind when they attempted to ensure freedom of the press.

VotersUnite.Org's foundational statement was and is, "We believe in the power of facts." John's contribution to VotersUnite.Org through his wide and continual distribution of facts has, indeed, added power to the election integrity movement – power to act on facts rather than be hobbled misled by misinformation, rumors, and lack of information.

We have all suffered a great loss. We have lost his wide-ranging knowledge, his encouragement of others' efforts, his humble example of hard work and perseverance, and his forthrightness in demanding accountability from our public servants. However, the need for well-researched, nonpartisan information continues, and so does VotersUnite.Org.

Other resources VotersUnite.Org has provided will, of course, remain available and continue to grow – the election problem log, reports on the impact of vendors on elections, research into voting system errors, evaluations of legislation, cost studies, handouts, and other information on the website. And VotersUnite.Org will continue to be available to respond to requests for assistance.

There are challenges to overcome in John’s absence – resources of time, talent, knowledge, and funds to continue to fulfill on our mission. John's work was done in the truest spirit of contribution. He knew what can only be learned by time and experience, and he gave his all without requiring financial support. The combination is difficult to find.

Re-instating DVN will take some time, though members of the community are already stepping up to assist. VotersUnite.Org remains committed to continuing to provide accurate information through DVN as well as through publishing reports like those VotersUnite.Org has always offered.

Thank you for the kind words and thoughts you have sent over the last few days. I am grateful for this community and the excellent work we continue to do.

Celebrating the Life of John Gideon
by Ellen Theisen. April 28, 2009.

John Gideon, my co-director at VotersUnite since June (correction) of 2004, passed away last night, April 27, 2009. He is survived by his son, Rick, and his grandson.

John Gideon, fishing in Alaska This is a picture of John.

He fished for salmon in the Alaskan Pacific and shared his catch freely and generously with his friends. He fished for information in depth and shared what he found freely and generously with anyone who wanted or needed it.

Though one was his play and the other was his work, the two were merely different expressions of who he was as a man.

Outspoken and honorable, diligent and passionately committed to democracy, day after day after day after Daily Voting News, John Gideon was instrumental in shaping the direction of the election integrity movement.

It was an honor to know him and a privilege to have him as my friend and co-director.

Please read the beautiful eulogy written by John’s friend, Brad Friedman. If you didn’t know John, Brad’s post will help you understand the depth of John’s impact. If you did know John, you’ll rejoice in reading what you already know.

Here are some other pictures of John.

I'm just a knuckle-dragger.
~ John Gideon

Election Problem Log image
2004 to 2009


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