REMEMBERING MR. ATHAN GIBBS, INNOVATOR AND COMMITTED ADVOCATE OF DEMOCRACY, ON THE OCCASION OF HIS DEATH -- (Extensions of Remarks - March 23, 2004)
HON. JIM COOPER
IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
TUESDAY, MARCH 23, 2004
Mr. COOPER. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to celebrate the life of Mr. Athan Gibbs, of Nashville, Tennessee. Mr. Gibbs was a patriot, a pastor, and a visionary entrepreneur who took it upon himself to restore Americans' faith in the democratic process after the disheartening controversy we experienced in November of 2000. Democracy lost one of its chief champions with Mr. Gibbs' unexpected death on the morning of Sunday, March 14, and on behalf of Congressman RUSH HOLT and other colleagues, I send his family our heartfelt sympathy for their loss and deepest gratitude for his life.
A Memphis native who came of age in the 1950s and 1960s, Mr. Gibbs experienced first hand the struggle for equality at the voting booth. Four decades later, these seminal experiences informed his observations of the 2000 Florida election controversy, and drove him to invent a technology that would ensure the fair exercise of democracy-the first electronic voting system with a "paper trail" to allow voters to verify that their votes were appropriately logged and counted. Athan Gibbs' TruVote system was a timely invention, and the product of a unique career. As a student of both business and theology, Mr. Gibbs entered public service in 1970 as a financial analyst with the Tennessee Public Service Commission. But while he pursued this public service career and later his own tax business, he served double duty as a pastor, most recently at the Mount Zion Baptist Church. In the words of a friend, The Reverend Enoch Fuzz, "Athan was consumed by a desire for justice, equality and freedom for all people."
Mr. Gibbs' desire for justice and equality was matched only by his tenacious drive to realize these goals. After reading studies quantifying the unequal treatment of African-American votes in the 2000 Florida election, he saw an opportunity to put his accounting skills to work in pursuing his overall democratic goals. In 2001, he founded TruVote in order to prevent disenfranchisement and restore faith in the democratic system. His invention caught on quickly and earned the backing of state and local officials, the World Conference of Mayors, and Microsoft. Last spring, my colleague Mr. HOLT introduced H.R. 2239, a bill requiring that voting systems provide a verifiable paper receipt, just as Mr. Gibbs had envisioned and invented two years previously. This bill now has bipartisan backing from 128 cosponsors.
While the nation and the democratic world lost a dedicated patriot and talented innovator when it prematurely lost Athan Gibbs, his vision and mission live on through his family and colleagues who pledge to carry on his work. On behalf of the fifth district of Tennessee as well as my colleagues in Congress, I send my deepest condolences to Athan Gibbs' family and loved ones, and celebrate the life of this remarkable American.