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Peace Patriot Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Feb-17-09 12:32 PM
Original message
"Venezuelan elections Transparent and Exemplary," International Observers Report
Magbana has posted this in the Latin American forum. But I thought you-all might be interested. Although this article doesn't include detail on Venezuela's election system, I have researched it over the years, and here is what I know: Venezuela uses electronic voting, but it is an OPEN SOURCE CODE system--anyone may review the publicly owned code by which the votes are tabulated--and they furthermore conduct a whopping 55% handcount audit for every election, as a check on machine fraud or error.* The machines produce a voter-verified ballot. The government floods the airwaves with pre-election ads instructing people on the mechanics of voting. They use the purple finger ID method. Elections are overseen by an independent Elections Commission. Voter turnout in this recent referendum was 70%! Venezuela has about 20 million voters. Results of this referendum were announced within a couple of hours of polls closing, even with a 55% handcount. And even in close elections (this one wasn't close) Venezuela's system is virtually glitch-less and incident-free, and tallies the outcome efficiently and quickly. (Note: The referendum lifting all term limits in Venezuela, via a nationwide vote on a Constitutional amendment, won by 54% vs 45%.)

Magbana's post:
http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.ph...

--------------------------------------------

"Venezuelan Elections Transparent and Exemplary, International Observers Report

February 17th 2009, by James Suggett - Venezuelanalysis.com

International elections observers holding their post-referendum press conference. (CNE)

Caracas, February 15th 2009 (Venezuelanalysis.com) -- International observers of Venezuela's referendum Sunday, in which nearly 55% of voters approved a constitutional amendment to eliminate the two-term limit on elected offices, praised the security, transparency, and organization of Venezuela's electoral system, calling it an example for the region and for the world.

The referendum complied with international standards and national legislation, especially with regard to communication and the transparency of the electoral administration, according to Nicanor Moscoso, the president of the Latin American Council of Electoral Experts.

In a press conference Monday, Brazilian delegate Max Altman commented on the secrecy of the vote. I was very impressed by how the Venezuelan electoral sysem is totally reinforced and how well-secured the voting is, he said. I hope this democatic feeling persists in Venezuela, as well as in all our countries in the region.

Altman further highlighted the enthusiastic participation of Venezuelan voters. When the Venezuelan people are called on to participate in an historic occasion, they make their presence felt, he said, noting that more than 70% of registered voters went to the polls Sunday, according to Venezuela's National Electoral Council (CNE).

Paraguayan delegate Hector Lacognata also commented on the high turnout. The electoral process is really a big celebratioin here. The people assume that voting is a duty and an obligation, a right to be acted upon, he said.

Paraguay is asking that the CNE transfer to us the electronic system , Lacognata added. We have utmost respect for the Venezuelan electoral process, which is an example for Latin America and the rest of the world.

The CNE set up 11,300 voting centers to serve 16.8 million registered voters, and activated 35,000 electronic voting machines, which were accompanied by cardboard ballot boxes in which voters deposited a paper record of their vote.

We are observing the vote counting and this is an example for the world. This guarantees transparency and assures Venezuelans that their vote will be counted, said the president of Nicaragua's National Council of Universities, Francisco Talavera.

This electoral process was characterized by its transparency, efficacy, security, and organization. The referendum re-affirmed the democratic expression of the Venezuelan people, said Talavera.

Manolis Glezox, an election observer from Greece, addressed accusations by leaders of the anti-amendment campaign that government institutions were biased in favor of the pro-amendment campaign.

Those who were not in agreement had the opportunity to express their opinions in a democratic manner in newspapers as well as the audio visual media, said Glezox. The vote discounted the commentaries that suggested that in Venezuela there is a dictatorship.

After the CNE announced the results Sunday, opposition leaders recognized the legitimacy of the results and conceded defeat.

A non-partisan national electoral observation organization called Ojo Electoral (Election Watch) noted the tranquility and normality of the voting on Sunday. Ojo Electoral spokesperson Luis Lander reported that the Venezuelan National Guard, which was deployed to secure voting centers across the country, displayed correct behavior throughout the day.

Also, Lander lauded the fact that people from both pro- and anti-amendment political groups audited the voting machines and served as witnesses within each voting center, and that problems with voting machines and other such irregularities were resolved promptly and appropriately.

Sunday's national vote on the amendment was proposed by the Venezuelan National Assembly at the behest of President Chavez, who is a vibrant proponent of Latin American integration and what many call 21st Century Socialism, to allow Venezuelans to elect Chavez to a third six-year term after his second term ends in 2012.

Chavez has announced that he will be a pre-candidate for the presidency in 2012, meaning that the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), of which Chavez is president, will decide in internal primary elections whether Chavez will become the party's candidate for president.


Tags: Term Limit Referendum"
http://www.venezuelanalysis.com/news/4219

---------------------------------



*(For those who don't know, in the U.S., we use electronic voting run on 'TRADE SECRET,' PROPRIETARY programming code, owned and controlled by rightwing Bushwhack corporations, with ZERO audit in half the voting systems in the country (--because there is nothing to audit--no paper trail at all), and only a 1% audit in the rest (they may have a paper ballot but 99% of them never see the light of day)--not nearly sufficient in a 'TRADE SECRET' code system. Compare and contrast to Venezuela's system--OPEN SOURCE CODE, 55% audit. Experts whom I trust say that 10% is the minimum audit needed to detect fraud or error. Our system doesn't even come close, while Venezuela does more than five times the minimum audit needed. Could this be why the Venezuelan government's first priority is social justice, and ours is bailing out corrupt, criminal bankers, and continuing the Forever War--hocking our children's future unto the 7th generation? Something to think about. Why do we have a nearly 100% non-transparent vote counting system?
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Stevepol Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Feb-17-09 12:59 PM
Response to Original message
1. Maybe Chavez could send some elections advisors here to help us have fair elections.
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Peace Patriot Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Feb-17-09 01:52 PM
Response to Reply #1
2. Not a bad idea. We could also learn from the awesome grass roots organization
in Venezuela and Bolivia in particular. I think these are the two main keys to the peaceful, democratic, leftist revolution that has swept South America--transparent elections; grass roots organization. Or they are, at least, the two lessons from that revolution that are most relevant here. And a third: Think big.

Here's a rundown on what these basic elements of democracy have accomplished:

Venezuela - leftist government.
Bolivia - leftist government.
Ecuador - leftist government.
Argentina - leftist government.
Paraguay - leftist government.
Uruguay - leftist government.
Brazil - center-left; in alliance with the above on most issues
Chile - center-left; in alliance with the above on some important issues

Also, in Central America

Nicaragua - leftist government
El Salvador - leftist way ahead in the impending prez election
Honduras - leaning left
Guatemla - center-left (first progressive gov't ever, in Guatemala)
Mexico - leftist came within 0.05% of becoming prez in the last election.

Also from transparent elections, grass roots organization and thinking big has come unprecedented unity among South American governments, in fending off U.S./Bushwhack attacks on their sovereignty, and creating a new organization, UNASUR, a South American common market, sans the U.S.
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Peace Patriot Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Feb-17-09 02:40 PM
Response to Reply #2
3. One other thing: How did they achieve honest election systems?
Edited on Tue Feb-17-09 02:55 PM by Peace Patriot
This is quite an interesting topic. I think that a certain professional class of Latin Americans and others deserves a lot of credit. The poor, the lower class, the workers, indigenous tribes and various social movements deserve almost sole credit for the grass roots organization that first began to transform the South American political landscape. Epic struggles like those in Bolivia between Bechtel Corp. and the poor water ratepayers, or legendary events like the tens of the thousands of poor people in the slums of Caracas who poured out of their hovels to peacefully defeat the U.S./Bushwhack-supported coup attempt in Venezuela in 2002, are clearly the bedrock of the revolution. However, without transparent vote counting, their struggles would likely have resulted in repression, bloodbaths and no progress--as has happened so often before.

Transforming election systems into honest and aboveboard systems also takes time. And it takes people with professional knowledge and experience, and political clout, to re-organize a voting system and make it transparent and accountable. This work began more than a decade ago. The Carter Center is perhaps the most famous for it. But there is also an OAS election monitoring group, and EU election monitoring groups, and others (like the NAACP from the U.S.). All have been active in Latin America. They don't just pop up suddenly on election day and pronounce everything okay from visual evidence alone. They work in these countries, at the invitation of the government, sometimes a year in advance of a major election. They work on constitutions and election rules. They work on educating election officials and the public. In fact, they generally won't monitor an election where this preliminary work has not been done.

These are generally middle- to upper-middle class people--former election officials, city council members, mayors, lawyers, public works managers, etc., who help create transparent election systems, who study such systems closely and first-hand, and who advise the process all along the way. They are not peasant farmers, or urban street vendors, or poor slum-dwellers, on the whole. They are well-educated and pretty well off. Also, their activities in Latin American countries could not have occurred without some elements of the rightwing political establishment concurring. Someone has to invite them in. And, prior to the election of a leftist government, who is that?

So something has happened in South America to cement the interests of the progressive middle class with the poorest of the poor (the majority). Both deserve credit and admiration. I have toyed with the thesis that it's the Catholic Church--in its more "liberation theology" aspect. Social justice--and activism toward social justice; solidarity with the poor--is perhaps the most important tenet of this progressive form of Catholicism. Bishop Fernando Lugo--who was just last year elected as the first leftist president of Paraguay--is a good example of this nexus of the Bolivarian revolution (the coming to power of the indigenous majority), leftist (pro-people, anti-corporate) politics, democracy and liberation theology. He was a bishop for almost 20 years and lived all that time with the poor (not your purple-robed, mitred crown kind of bishop; he wears sandals and work shirts), and he ended up being the only figure around whom Paraguay's very fractious political parties could rally, to oust the corrupt, entrenched rightwing Colorado Party. But, interestingly, the Colorado Party--which ran Paraguay for 70 years, including one period of heinous dictatorhip--had already joined the Chavez-inspired Bank of the South, and had rescinded their non-extradition law (Paraguay had been notorious for harboring fascist fugitives) and their law immunizing the U.S. military. So, something was afoot in Paraguay even before Bishop Lugo was elected. Maybe just pragmatism (Paraguay was by then surrounded by powerful leftist countries--Brazil, Bolivia, Argentina). But it could also be that Bishop Lugo had gotten to some of their consciences about abuse and exploitation of the poor.

Lugo is a fascinating figure in South American politics. He's good friends with the other leftist leaders--several of whom have been demonized by the Bush Junta and our corpo/fascist press. When he was elected, Evo Morales sent him this message: "Welcome to the Axis of Evil."

I don't know that there is a comparable figure in our current scene. Martin Luther King would be comparable, if he were still alive (i.e., the combination of religious inspiration and political action). In any case , Latin American Catholicism doesn't explain Jimmy Carter, or many of the other election group members, whose religious backgrounds I don't know, but I would guess would be quite eclectic, including non-religious and even anti-religious views.

One final thought: The achievement of honest, transparent elections is not complete in Latin America, by any means. El Salvador still has serious problems of rightwing corruption in the election system. Mexico's last presidential election was probably stolen by Felipe Calderon (close to Bush) in a deal to privatize Mexico's oil. Peru still has serious problems. And Colombia is a fascist disaster area, where thousands of political leftists, union leaders, human rights workers and others have been murdered by rightwing death squads. The so-called president, Alvaro Uribe, got his term extended by bribing a legislator to vote in favor of it. The legislator is now in prison for this, and Uribe is still 'president.')
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kster Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Feb-18-09 12:50 AM
Response to Original message
4. They have moved to electronic voting, its only a
matter of time before the corporate crooks convince the masses that they do not need to count the paper ballots by hand. ONLY A MATTER OF TIME!

They need to get rid of electronic anything when it comes to the counting of ballots, before they end up like America.

If someone is trying to build a better voting/vote counting machine beit a Paperless Touch Screen, Paperless Lever or an Optical Scanner, they are or soon will be SCAMMIMNG YOU .

STICK WITH PAPER BALLOTS AND COUNT THEM PAPER BALLOTS AT THE POLLING PLACE (PERIOD)

K and R
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Peace Patriot Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Feb-18-09 05:09 AM
Response to Reply #4
5. I'm not advocating electronics--just staying that Venezuela has publicly owned,
OPEN SOURCE (transparent, reviewable by anyone) programming code, and they hand count a whopping 55% of the ballots. They didn't start with a rotten system like ours. And it is not true to say that it is "only a matter time" before their system is corrupted. They have many failsafes to prevent this, including a highly independent Election Commission, and contentious parties in Venezuela that zealously guard the process. They have 70% turnouts. Everybody is involved. And they invite hundreds of international election monitors into the country to survey and write reports on every aspect of the system.

You prediction is based on no evidence at all that any such thing could happen in Venezuela. We started with an extremely corrupt system, with the code owned and controlled by Bushwhacks, and 99% to 100% non-transparency--a system designed to re-elect Bush-Cheney and fuck up our Congresses, and get that last trillion dollars for the bankers. Our is a different situation than Venezuela. I would ban all electronics here, because of this. Maybe some day we could go to OPEN SOURCE code electronics, but not any time soon. We also have to consider half-way measures, because the money corruption around our voting systems is one of the biggest obstacles to reform, and we MUST start electing better people to Congress. So I would say we need a paper ballot for every vote, of course, and a 100% handcount for several election cycles, with the 'TRADE SECRET' machines. I, too, would like to ban them completely, but that is going to be extremely difficult to achieve in the near future. You got a million people to take with you to Washington DC to get it done? People who can afford to do that, and who will give up weeks or months of their lives, say, in a sit-in? Ain't going to happen soon enough.
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kster Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Feb-19-09 02:18 AM
Response to Reply #5
6. I love a friendly debate, "You prediction is based on no evidence"
Edited on Thu Feb-19-09 02:35 AM by kster
In America we started out with Voice vote or with Paper Ballots put into ballot boxes.

"We started with an extremely corrupt system" No we started with voice vote paper ballots, put into ballot boxes.


"They have many failsafes to prevent this" I'm sure we in America thought we had failssafes but along came the paperless lever machine.

Women practicing voting

(In 1913 we Americans have already been convinced to go paperless voting)



A group of women in Chicago practice casting votes in a municipal election by means of a voting machine in 1913. The first year in which all American women could vote was 1920.



(With paperless mechanical voting in place all the politicians need to do is convince us that eletronics is the way to go, for christsakes they have already convinced us to vote on paperless mechanical voting machines for the last 50 years).



From Mechanical to Electronic

In the early 1960s new computer-read ballot systems entered the market for voting equipment and eventually triumphed over mechanical machines.

Voters use either a stylus or punch to perforate a computer punch card ballot or mark a standardized form using a no. 2 pencil.
Introduced in the 1990s, computer touch screen and direct recording electronic (DRE) voting systems use familiar graphic layouts and capture votes digitally.

http://americanhistory.si.edu/vote/intro.html

(I don't know if this is evidence of where Venezuela is headed, but if history reapeats itself).

:)


To my secret admirer THANKS FOR THE HEART!!!!!!
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a777pilot Donating Member (31 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Feb-20-09 04:09 PM
Response to Original message
7. Voting fair? Doubt it.
If you really think that the elections in Venezuela were transparent and exemplary I bet you think they are fair and above board in Iran too.

Without a paper trail there is not fair vote. Voter verified or not.
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OnTheOtherHand Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Feb-20-09 05:03 PM
Response to Reply #7
8. ?! There IS a paper trail -- that's what is voter-verified
Unless they've switched machines again and I missed it! As I understand it, the machines print out paper records, which the voter then is supposed to deposit in a ballot box.

Whether the election was "fair" is debatable -- and I haven't seen any report detailing hand count results (not that that is the only criterion of a fair election!).
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a777pilot Donating Member (31 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Feb-20-09 05:20 PM
Response to Reply #8
11. voting
There must be an actual paper ballot to help ensure a "fair" count and election. Electronic voting is nothing more than a recipe for fraud. Massive fraud.
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EFerrari Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Feb-21-09 02:00 AM
Response to Reply #11
17. They use OpScan. There is a paper ballot.
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OnTheOtherHand Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Feb-21-09 06:21 AM
Response to Reply #17
18. actually, I think they use DREs with a VVPAT
Here is a discussion at Caracas Chronicles, which, for what it's worth, generally opposes Chavez. Similar (older) content appears at a pro-Chavez site (the same one cited by Peace Patriot) here.

By the way, without opining on Venezuelan politics, I'm struck by this from the first article I linked to:

A fraud allegation, acta en mano, would be absolutely devastating. Without it, it's worse than a waste of time: it's a credibility black hole. Loose talk of election fraud with no evidence to back it up has cost the anti-Chvez movement way too much in the past for us to continue to tolerate it.
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EFerrari Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Feb-21-09 01:29 PM
Response to Reply #18
19. You're right. Where did I get the OpScan notion, I wonder?
Here's an article that talks about their system in some detail:

How it Works: Venezuela's New Voting Machines
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June 15th 2004, by Ernesto Villegas/Antonio Mujica - Radio Nacional de Venezuela/VTV

SmartMatic president Antonio Mujica laid to rest all questions about the reliability of the SmartMatic touch screen voting machines to be used in the August 15 presidential recall referendum. Mujica fielded questions in a Sunday night interview conducted by Ernesto Villegas on Venezolana de Television (VTV).

The machine is very portable, which facilitates their logistics (movement and setup) during electoral processes, indicated Mujica. The fourth generation machines weigh about six kilograms, and have a touch screen to register the vote electronically. The machine also prints a paper record that allows the process to be audited. The machines internal electronics were designed from the beginning specifically for electoral events, with security features dedicated to electoral processes.

Mujica refuted rumors appearing in the private media that these machines have been used only for lotteries. This machine was made by Olivetti. We subcontract to that company, which uses its factories in Rome to manufacture these machines. Among many other things, Olivetti makes machines used for lotteries. This seems to be the source of that rumor.

Mujica explained that demonstration machines will be set up throughout the country at commercial centers and plazas, and the National Elections Council (CNE) will conduct an educational campaign.

http://www.venezuelanalysis.com/analysis/545

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a777pilot Donating Member (31 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Feb-21-09 01:54 PM
Response to Reply #19
20. No Way
Quote:

Here's an article that talks about their system in some detail:

How it Works: Venezuela's New Voting Machines
Send to friend Printer-friendly version
June 15th 2004, by Ernesto Villegas/Antonio Mujica - Radio Nacional de Venezuela/VTV

SmartMatic president Antonio Mujica laid to rest all questions about the reliability of the SmartMatic touch screen voting machines to be used in the August 15 presidential recall referendum. Mujica fielded questions in a Sunday night interview conducted by Ernesto Villegas on Venezolana de Television (VTV).

The machine is very portable, which facilitates their logistics (movement and setup) during electoral processes, indicated Mujica. The fourth generation machines weigh about six kilograms, and have a touch screen to register the vote electronically. The machine also prints a paper record that allows the process to be audited. The machines internal electronics were designed from the beginning specifically for electoral events, with security features dedicated to electoral processes.

Mujica refuted rumors appearing in the private media that these machines have been used only for lotteries. This machine was made by Olivetti. We subcontract to that company, which uses its factories in Rome to manufacture these machines. Among many other things, Olivetti makes machines used for lotteries. This seems to be the source of that rumor.

Mujica explained that demonstration machines will be set up throughout the country at commercial centers and plazas, and the National Elections Council (CNE) will conduct an educational campaign.

http://www.venezuelanalysis.com/analysis/545

Unquote.

There is NO WAY to have a free and fair election with electronic voting machines. Only a verified paper trail lends itself to any fairness at all.

These electronic voting machines are only supported by those that wish to have cheating and fraud in our election process.
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EFerrari Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Feb-21-09 02:00 PM
Response to Reply #20
21. Open source software and audits. Their practice is more transparent
than ours is here.
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eomer Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Feb-23-09 05:50 AM
Response to Reply #20
22. Way.
Edited on Mon Feb-23-09 05:52 AM by eomer
The Venezuelan system does have a voter-verified paper trail:

The voter then goes into the voting booth. He pushes an electronic keyboard that brings up the picture of his candidate on a touch screen monitor. The screen then asks if it has the picture of the candidate he selected. When the voter pushes the yes button on the screen, he receives a paper ballot. He then takes the paper ballot, leaves the machine and puts it in a cardboard box. The electronic tally is on each machine. The tally is also transmitted over the Internet to a central place.

After he puts the ballot in the box, he goes to another desk where he puts his little finger in indelible ink to make sure he can be detected if he tries to vote again.

The paper ballot has printed material that does three things. First, it includes a code to make sure that paper ballot box hasn't been manipulated. Second, it tells the voter he has voted. Third, it indicates who he has voted for. It doesn't indicate who the voter is.

When polls close, that paper tally for that one machine is correlated against all the paper ballots put in a cardboard box by everyone at the polling place. Although statisticians say a 3% audit is more than sufficient, the Venezuelan Council went further: 54.3% of the machines, arbitrarily selected, have their tallies audited by comparing the paper ballots with the electronic tally.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/martin-garbus/fixing-amer...

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galloglas Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Feb-20-09 05:16 PM
Response to Reply #7
9. One post ??
Never thought to post on any other subject, huh? :+



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a777pilot Donating Member (31 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Feb-20-09 05:24 PM
Response to Reply #9
12. Why here?
I had to start somewhere and there is no "newcomer" area to start off with on this site.

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OnTheOtherHand Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Feb-20-09 06:20 PM
Response to Reply #12
16. just FYI
many people use the DU Lounge as a newcomer area of sorts.

However, there's absolutely no reason why your first post, or posts, shouldn't be on the Election Reform board. Welcome to DU, and thanks for your service in the USMC.
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galloglas Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Feb-20-09 05:18 PM
Response to Original message
10. K & R # 5 !
To the front page, please...



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a777pilot Donating Member (31 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Feb-20-09 05:32 PM
Response to Reply #10
13. What?
Please explain: "To the front page, please..."
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OnTheOtherHand Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Feb-20-09 06:07 PM
Response to Reply #13
14. when a post gets the fifth recommendation...
it appears on the front page under the list of recommended threads.
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a777pilot Donating Member (31 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Feb-20-09 06:11 PM
Response to Reply #14
15. Thanks
Thanks. I'll give it a try.
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