Back in 2006, Robert Millman believed in paper ballots so much that he made a short film warning of the dangers of computers in the voting booth. Nowadays, he’s concerned about gerrymandering.
“Line in the Street,” Millman’s new film about gerrymandering in Pennsylvania, will have its first public screening at 7 tonight at the Linda Norris Auditorium in Albany. Admission is $5.
“Line in the Street” is Millman’s look at the fight over gerrymandering in the Keystone State, an issue that was only resolved earlier this year when the state’s Supreme Court redrew its congressional districts, taking the job away from the state legislature.
“The right to vote is a state right, not a federal right, and since I believe in constitutional democracy, I think that gerrymandering really undermines our democracy,” said Millman, a Staten Island native and currently a Scotia resident. “The League of Women Voters in Pennsylvania, and I think they’re a great organization, filed a lawsuit and I read about it in the New York Times. It conformed with my view, based on the state constitution, so that’s why my daughter and I went down to Pennsylvania a zillion times to film various local officials talking about the issue.”
Millman and his daughter Rachel, who lives in Brooklyn, spent much of last year meeting in Pennsylvania to document the fight against gerrymandering.
“The film documents the legal fight and the legislative fight that went on in Pennsylvania,” said Millman. “It’s still an ongoing fight around the country, but the legal fight in Pennsylvania has succeeded. The state has three sets of maps for elections: the congressional, the state senate and the state house, and they were all redrawn by the courts. It’s not something the state legislatures are going to give up willingly.”
Millman, who is also in the home renovation business, had been employed by the New York State Bar Association, working in their audio/visual department. He and his daughter raised money for the film through Indiegogo.
“We got legislators on camera, we got real people talking about the issue, and I think it’s a very compelling story,” said Millman. “Legislators lied on camera, people got arrested. The story wasn’t on a lot of people’s radar but it is a big story. It’s the first time anywhere that the general constitutional rules were brought to bear on gerrymandering and determined it was illegal.”
Millman said his film on paper ballots has helped New Yorkers maintain fair elections.
“I like to think ‘Bought and Sold’ was instrumental in seeing that New York adopted paper ballots instead of computers,” he said. “The film didn’t get major distribution, but it was seen by the right people. I argued that you don’t want to vote at a computer work station, and I think enough elections officials saw that.”
More from The Daily Gazette: