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2004 Election Sedition
Federal office to probe vote procedures
By Rick Klein, Globe Staff | November 24, 2004
WASHINGTON -- The US Government Accountability Office is launching an
investigation in response to allegations of voting irregularities that emerged
in the aftermath of the Nov. 2 election, marking the first response by the
federal government to concerns about the vote that have swirled around the
Internet over the past three weeks.
The investigation, which was requested by 13 Democratic members of Congress,
will not be a comprehensive look at all of the tens of thousands of allegations
of irregularities. Instead, it will look broadly at vote-counting procedures
around the country in an attempt to address concerns about the accuracy of the
Among the issues to be covered are potential tampering with computerized voting
machines, barriers to voter registration, and varying standards for counting
''provisional ballots," which are given to voters who say they are eligible
but whose names do not appear on the rolls.
''This is something of broad national interest," said Ralph Dawn, the
office's assistant director for congressional relations. ''This will not be a
catalog that addresses every allegation. But we will look at things from a
systemic nature -- is it an anecdote or is it something we can generalize toward
suggesting a problem and a potential solution?"
The investigation was announced on the same day that members of a federal panel
said they will hold hearings around the country on complaints of irregularities
in the presidential vote. DeForest B. Soaries, chairman of the US Election
Assistance Commission, said he knows of ''gaps and vulnerabilities that have got
to be addressed."
''We in no way think that the lack of a crisis stemming from Nov. 2 eliminates
the need for action," said Soaries, whose agency was created in response to
the Florida recount four years ago. ''We know some problems existed everywhere.
We just don't know the extent to which there were problems."
The hearings will focus on the quality of voting machines, prevention of
tampering, and ways to preserve records for recounts; statewide voter databases,
which 40 states still lack, to assure that local officials do not bar eligible
voters; and procedures for casting and counting provisional ballots.
Even proponents of those hearings and the Government Accountability Office's
investigation said they do not believe they will alter the result of the
election. The House Democrats who requested the investigation say voting
problems were not widespread enough to have influenced the election's outcome.
In any event, the probe's expected six-month time frame means results will not
be known until after President Bush is inaugurated for a second term. But the
lawmakers said a thorough investigation is necessary to preserve the integrity
of the voting system, regardless of who the winner was.
''What is far more important than the ultimate result is the public's confidence
in it," said Representative John Conyers Jr., a Michigan Democrat who led
efforts to get the Government Accountability Office involved. ''The purpose of
this investigation is to figure out what systemwide deficiencies exist in voting
machines and voting procedures so that those flaws can be fixed by legislation
prior to the next election."
Allegations continue to arise citing differences between exit polls and results
in some states, combined with individual cases in which voters reported
irregularities at their precincts. Election problems were reported across the
country, with most of the attention focused on Ohio and Florida, two large
states that Bush won by relatively narrow margins. Kerry would have won the
election if he had carried either.
The Green and Libertarian party candidates for president are pursuing statewide
recounts in Ohio, where one precinct awarded nearly 4,000 extra votes to Bush
and where frustrated voters waited up to eight hours at some urban polling
places. The state's Democratic Party, meanwhile, is suing the state over
standards used to count the 155,000 provisional ballots cast on Election Day.
The unofficial election-night tally from Ohio, before the provisional ballots
were counted, had Bush winning by about 136,000 votes.
A team of researchers from the University of California at Berkeley has
suggested that electronic voting machines in some parts of Florida may have
awarded Bush between 30,000 and 260,000 more votes than he was projected to get,
based on past results and comparisons with this year's returns elsewhere in the
In addition, in some of the 15 Florida counties that used touch-screen
computers, some voters said they pushed the button for Kerry but saw the screen
mark the ballot for Bush. Because there is no paper backup for machines in those
counties, it is impossible to determine whether those votes were properly
Dawn said the investigators will begin by identifying which allegations could be
more than isolated incidents, since purely local issues are best handled by
state authorities. ''We will listen to individual issues, synthesize the
information to try to look for systemic issues that can be generalized and
solutions that can be found for them," he said.
No investigation will be able to address all of the theories that have emerged
in the past three weeks, said Richard Hasen, an election law specialist at
Loyola Law School in Los Angeles. But an investigation could dispel some myths,
Hasen said, allowing lawmakers to separate spurious complaints from built-in
problems with the nation's voting system.
He suggested backup systems for electronic voting and having nonpartisan state
officials in charge of voting.
''I still haven't seen anything that convinces me that somehow the election
results are in question -- that's good news -- but it's quite obvious that there
were serious problems both with the technology and the rules," Hasen said.
''There's a lack of faith on the part of many people in the new voting
technology, and it would have been better if you had trust over people who run
Brian C. Mooney of the Globe staff contributed to this report. Rick Klein can be
reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
© Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company
Ohio Presidential Results to be Challenged
A BUZZFLASH GUEST CONTRIBUTION
By Steven Rosenfeld, Senior Producer, The
Laura Flanders Show
Ohio’s 2004 presidential vote will be challenged
in the state’s Supreme Court, a coalition of public-interest lawyers
announced Friday, Nov. 19.
The lawyers have taken sworn testimony from
hundreds of people in hearings in Columbus, Cincinnati and Cleveland and
will use excerpts as well as documents obtained from county election
officials and Election Day exit polls to make a case that thousands of
votes were incorrectly counted or not counted on Election Day.
Here For The Full Story
Election: Volusia County on lockdown
Volusia County on lockdown
County election records just got put on lockdown. Dueling lawyers,
election officials gnashing teeth, Votergate.tv film crew catching
Here's what happened so far:
Here For The Story
University researchers challenge Bush win in
'Something went awry with electronic voting in Florida,' says the lead
News Story by Dan Verton
NOVEMBER 18, 2004 (COMPUTERWORLD) - Researchers at the University of
California, Berkeley, said today that they have uncovered statistical
irregularities associated with electronic voting machines in three
Florida counties that may have given President George W. Bush 130,000 or
more excess votes. The researchers are now calling on state and federal
authorities to look into the problems.
Here For The Story
Democrats take up fight over
Thursday, November 18, 2004
Plain Dealer Reporter
Cincinnati - Seeming to brush aside John Kerry's concession speech, the
Ohio Democratic Party has launched a federal court fight over nearly
155,000 provisional ballots by contending a proper accounting of those
votes might decide who really won.
In Ohio, Bush now holds a lead of about 136,000 votes over Kerry.
Here For The Story
INSIDE THE ELECTION FRAUD
Kerry Is Not Involved In This Fight? Think Again. Also:
Fallujah = Operation Distract From Fixed Election.
Senator John Kerry (D-MA) talked about how his policy would be different
in Iraq, he kept saying, in effect, ‘It’s the how, stupid.’
He said repeatedly he would fight a “smarter” war.
forward to today. Following the election, there was a problem
apparent. The exit polling didn't match the ballot count, and many
reasons for that began to become apparent.
Kerry was faced with three options. One, fight on publicly rather
than conceding and put the nation into a media frenzied limbo.
Two, concede and go on with his life, turning his back on his promise to
his supporters to ensure that “every vote will be counted.”
people are assuming that John Kerry opted for the second of these while
John Edwards, his running mate, opted for the first, and since Kerry was
the big dog, he won out. But people who think this are thinking in
Bush terms, all or nothing, either you are for the war or against it,
that either Senator Kerry was for recounting the votes or he was against
reality is, John Kerry has chosen a third, much smarter course – just
as he said he would all along.....
Kerry realized that to launch a public campaign calling the vote into
question would be disastrous. In fact, he likely realized he would
we walking right into a Bush-set booby trap.
More Click Here
campaign announces Ohio recount progress
Tuesday, November 16,
Last week, former Green Party presidential
candidate David Cobb announced he would seek a recount of the
presidential vote in Ohio. Within four days, he'd received donations for
the $113,600 filing fee.
Cobb, a Eureka resident, is joined by Libertarian
presidential candidate Michael Badnarik in the effort.
"Thanks to the thousands of people who have
contributed to this effort, we can say with certainty that there will be
a recount in Ohio," said Blair Bobier, Media Director for the Cobb-LaMarche
campaign. "The grass-roots support for the recount has been
astounding. The donations have come in fast and furiously."
Cobb said donations close to $150,000 came in
small amounts from citizens all over the country. Most checks were for
$10 to $25, with just two over $1,000, he said.
Citizens groups and voting rights organizations
were expected to meet in Columbus on Monday to take testimony from
voters, poll watchers and election experts.
Cobb said the details are still emerging but he's
heard reports of voting irregularities, including voting machines with
screens that "jumped" to a vote for President George Bush
whether the voter intended it or not; "intolerably long lines"
in minority and low-income precincts; letters sent to voters in those
communities misleading them about election process; and longtime voters
whose names could not be found on voter rolls.
In another widely reported glitch, one machine
recorded more votes for Bush than there were total voters.
Cobb said he's also heard that 92,000 ballots in
Ohio were discarded for apparent undervote or overvoting -- meaning
voters voted for more candidates than they could, or for no candidates.
"This suggests another hanging chad
problem," Cobb said. "To simply discard 92,000 votes when only
136,000 votes separate the winner from the loser is problematic at
He added that the Ohio secretary of state, a
Republican, has the final say over which of 50,000 provisional ballots
Cobb stressed that the purpose of the recount is
to ensure integrity of the voting process.
"I don't expect to win Ohio," he said.
"But the Green Party has been standing up for democracy and the
right for all voters to cast their votes."
He said he can't file the demand for a recount
until the election results are certified, which is expected to happen
this week. After that, he said, the Cobb campaign will continue to raise
money to make it possible to have people examine the vote recount.
Bobier said the campaign is still raising money
for the next phase of the recount effort, which will be recruiting,
training and mobilizing volunteers to monitor the actual recount.
Perfect Election Day Crime
November 12, 2004
persist about intentional or accidental voting mishaps. Which voting
problem cost Kerry the most votes may never be known. Kerry's fate
aside, Air America's Steven Rosenfeld's investigation found the
inadequate supply of polling machines in Ohio shows a system badly in
need of reform.
Steven Rosenfeld is senior producer of
The Laura Flanders Show on Air America Radio. Previously he was
senior editor of TomPaine.com
Americans are learning there are
many ways to tilt and take elections.
That’s the only clear conclusion since John
Kerry’s concession speech. We now know there are as many ways to
manipulate the vote as there are types of voting machines and different
communities that can be targeted by those who want to intimidate voters
and suppress turnout. But the big unanswered question of Nov. 2, 2004,
is which tactic, technical breakdown or error lost the most votes.
On Thursday, Nov. 11, a step was taken toward
finding at least part of the answer. Cliff Arnebeck, the
Columbus, Ohio-based attorney who is counsel for Common Cause’s Ohio
chapter and the Alliance for Democracy, announced that the groups would pursue
a recount of the Ohio vote . Arnebeck said the Green Party and
Libertarian Party presidential candidates each agreed to file for a
recount, providing the $110,000 filing fee could be met. He announced
that a fund drive was underway, as was putting pressure on the Kerry
campaign to pay for it. In coming days, Ohio’s provisional ballot
count is likely to be finished. That starts a five-day clock during
which a recount can be formally requested. As of Monday morning, Nov.
14, $200,000 had been raised toward an Ohio recount—all but assuring
it will happen.
But many voters have yet to consider the
intricacies of the recount procedure. They're still trying to
comprehend what exactly went wrong. By now, many people have heard about
discarded or spoiled ballots in Ohio that could have cost Democrats tens
of thousands of votes (as
claimed by journalist Greg Palast). They’ve heard of the
computerized voting machines that caused thousands of votes for Bush to
be erroneously added in single precincts. And they’ve heard
declarations by BlackBoxVoting.org
(Bev Harris and Andy Stephenson) that they’ll make the biggest ever
Freedom of Information Act request to get to the bottom of it.
But something else also happened in Ohio’s urban
precincts that hurt Democrats as much as these much-publicized
snafus—something so simple many election protection observers, and
certainly the national press, missed it.
What Wasn't There
Across Ohio’s minority-rich cities, there were
fewer voting machines than during past elections, including March’s
presidential primary. As the number of voters grew by as much as 50
percent in some precincts, according to pro-Kerry field organizers, the
number of voting machines on Election Day shrank by a third. Precincts
that usually had five machines only had three.
The lack of voting machines was a disaster.
“I don’t think this story has been told,”
said Miles Gerety, a public defender from Bridgeport, Conn., who went to
Ohio as a legal observer and discovered this trend by overhearing
elderly voters talk about fewer machines. “The press and election
protection people weren’t looking for this. They were looking for poll
challenges. But this is the perfect way to suppress the vote.”
The shortage of voting machines didn’t just
create long lines. It kept thousands of new and longtime voters from
casting ballots in the state’s minority communities—the Democratic
strongholds. The accounts of people who had to leave the polls for work
or family obligations were everywhere. But on Election Day, very few
Democrats realized this was happening. They just saw long lines.
"The lack of adequate voting machines helped
the GOP in Ohio," said Brian Clark, site coordinator for
SierraClubVotes.org in Franklin County, where the city of Columbus is
located. He managed a voter contact and get-out-the-vote effort in 43
precincts that reached a third of the county’s 250,000 voters.
"There were fewer machines in some inner city precincts than in
2000, despite Board of Elections and secretary of state’s projections
of record turnout."
The Long Wait
Franklin County is a good microcosm for
understanding what happened in Ohio. In 2000, Al Gore beat George Bush
there by 4,156 votes. In 2004, Kerry beat Bush there by 41,341 votes,
according to the unofficial results on the Ohio secretary of state’s
website. But Kerry's margin could have been far larger, activists said,
if people didn't have to wait to vote.
"There were widespread anecdotal reports that
inner city voters were leaving the polls because of 2-hour plus wait
times, " Clark said. "Granted, there were also waits in
suburban areas. But the impact on final voter turnout was clearly very
different—a lawyer can be late and keep her job, a grocery store clerk
And then there’s the question of how and where
voting machines were distributed. Even though Franklin County election
officials have their ready defense to deflect charges of intentional
voting rights violations, Democratic field organizers said the placement
of too-few voting machines at inner city precincts came amid a broader
campaign of voter intimidation aimed at Democrats.
Protecting the right to vote is the heart of the
federal Voting Rights Act. If fewer voting machines were put in
African-American precincts, on a per capita basis, than were placed in
the county’s whiter suburbs—and that prevented African-Americans
from voting—that would violate the Voting Rights Act.
"If this was planned and systematic and not
accidental, it would be a violation," Gerety said. "If this
was a means of disenfranchising African-American voters, it’s a clear
Franklin County election officials have said they
used the 2000 presidential vote as the basis for allocating voting
machines in the 2004 election. They’ve also said that local election
boards are bipartisan, so any plan to redistribute voting machines would
have been approved by Democrats and Republicans. Common
Cause's Arnebeck said that bipartisan explanation makes proving there
was an intentional violation difficult. Also, the jurist who would try
the voting case—if it was needed in an Ohio recount—is a
Republican, the chief justice of Ohio’s Supreme Court.
The Politics Of Recount
The voting rights concerns would be one element of
the Ohio vote that could be examined in a recount, Arnebeck said. But
all Ohio’s ballots would be recounted, he said, including the
provisional ballots, absentee ballots, spoiled ballots and votes by the
paperless computer machines. Moreover, during a full statewide recount,
any issue relating to voter fraud conceivable could be raised, he said.
This is where the politics could get very intense
and possibly reopen the question of who won Ohio. Arnebeck said he had
proof that in one rural county there were more votes recorded by
computer machines than were actually cast: that’s fraud. Moreover,
there are so many instances where newly registered voters “most of
whom were presumed to be Democratic—were not treated the same way as
the state’s veteran voters." In the county where Cleveland
is, people who registered by mail were not notified where their poll
was, election protection lawyers said. Other Ohio voters I contacted said
they saw new voters being given provisional ballots.
"It’s interesting to note that the
inner-city precincts where we spent most of our time working, turnout
was about 50 percent higher than it was in 2000," Clark said.
"Yet the Franklin County Board of Elections moved voting machines
from the inner city precincts out to the suburbs. It was pretty
dispiriting to know that we spent months trying to get new voters to the
polls and they didn’t even have machines to go to once they got
Clark also said the GOP’s much-publicized
efforts to challenge new voters only focused on Democratic precincts.
"The Republicans only challenged voters in inner-city
precincts," he said. "The Columbus Dispatch did an
analysis of their challenges. They did not challenge anyone who lived in
a Republican-leaning precinct in Franklin County."
The Big Tilt?
The question that emerges from these
irregularities— as well as the reports of spoiled and discarded
ballots, and computer voting snafus—is which problem affected the most
votes 'tilting' the outcome to Bush. That answer isn’t known. So far,
computerized voting has gotten the most attention. But the Sierra
Club’s Clark said all or some of these tactics could have swayed the
"Based on what we were being told by people
on the ground, at the door, on the phones as we were doing our get out
the vote effort, it was very clear that enough people went out intending
to vote to meet the projected turnout by the secretary of state, which
was 73 percent," he said. "The final number was about 70
percent of the voting age population actually voted. So I think it’s
reasonable to assume that at least 3 percent of the people who went out
to vote didn’t get to vote, because of these problems statewide."
Ohio’s 2004 vote has not yet been certified. But
in the unofficial results on the secretary of state’s web site, George
W. Bush had 51.0 percent, compared to 48.5 percent for John Kerry. That
difference is on par with the gap between the secretary of state’s
projected turnout and the percentage of people who got to vote. Had all
Ohioans who wanted to vote cast their ballots, both Clark and Gerety
said Kerry might have won the state and the presidential election.
While there still may be a recount in Ohio—if it
will happen, it will be triggered next week—former U.S. senator and
2004 Democratic presidential candidate Carole Moseley-Braun said all
legal remedies must be pursued to understand what happened on Election
Day. That means FOIA requests to understand what happened with
electronic machines, Voting Rights Act suits for disenfranchised
minority voters—and, yes, a statewide recount.
“I come out of Chicago and I am reminded of how
the Chicago machine used to operate in the old days,” Braun said. To
beat the Republicans, she said her party and its activists had to make a
commitment to mastering the intricacies and the details of the election
process. "It’s all kinds of things that can be done to keep
people’s feet to the fire on the intricacies, the details of the
Indeed, only when all these remedies are pursued
will Democrats be able to answer the question: What cost John Kerry the
most votes in Ohio?
11-17-2004 Looking for Voter
Reform, Groups Keep Eyes on Ohio
A coalition probes problems at the polls as
Libertarians and Greens work toward a recount.
Although there appears to be virtually no chance that the results of
the presidential race in Ohio will change, groups there continue to
express dismay about how the election was conducted. They are taking
actions to keep the state's troubled voting mechanisms in the public
spotlight and hopefully generate reforms by 2006.
Today, a coalition including the Ohio Citizens Alliance for Secure
Elections, the League of Young Voters and the People for the American
Way Foundation has scheduled the first of two public hearings "to
investigate voter irregularities and voter suppression,"
according to Susan Truitt of Columbus, co-founder of the citizens
In addition, the Green and Libertarian parties announced on Thursday
that they planned to file a formal demand for a recount of
presidential ballots cast in Ohio. The Greens and the Libertarians, as
well as Common Cause of Ohio and Massachusetts-based Alliance for
Democracy, said they had launched a campaign to raise the $114,000 it
would cost to conduct the recount.
There is no chance that either Michael Badnarik, the Libertarian
candidate who polled 0.26% of the votes cast for president, or David
K. Cobb, the Green candidate who got even fewer votes, will win.
But both said they thought a recount was warranted because of problems
that occurred on election day, including reports of machine
malfunctions, long lines and the inability of some voters to obtain
Such ballots allow those whose names do not show up on the voter rolls
at the polling place to cast their votes and have their validity
sorted out later.
Similar concerns were expressed by Naina Khanna of the League of Young
"This isn't necessarily about disputing the results, it's about
disputing the process, which is clearly flawed," Khanna said.
At the hearing today at a Baptist church in Columbus, civil rights
groups plan to take testimony and videotape the stories of voters who
encountered problems on election day.
Lawyers and notaries will be present to take affidavits that might be
used in future litigation, said Claire Reichstein of the San
Francisco-based Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights, which prevailed
in two pre-election lawsuits in Ohio and is contemplating a third.
Cincinnati attorney Tim Burke, chairman of the Hamilton County Board
of Elections, acknowledged that in some quarters there was suspicion
about the outcome in Ohio and that there was considerable buzz on the
Internet and talk radio.
"There were enough little glitches to feed the truly paranoid
among us. But little glitches are sometimes being turned into the
alligators in the sewers of urban legend," said Burke, who also
is co-chairman of the Democratic Party in Cincinnati.
"When you look closely at an operation involving thousands of
part-time [polling place] workers engaged in millions of transactions
with voters, there will be problems encountered," Burke said.
"I do believe we have to ensure that all votes are accurately
counted. That process is underway. I would love to think that we will
find another 150,000 votes for Kerry in Ohio, but I don't hold out
According to the preliminary results in Ohio, which included all
domestic absentee ballots, Kerry lost the state by 136,483, according
to the Ohio secretary of state's office.
Election officials throughout the state are trying to assess the
validity of 155,428 provisional ballots and an unknown number of
overseas absentee ballots that were cast in the presidential election.
Lawyers for the Kerry-Edwards campaign are monitoring the effort in an
attempt to ensure that all eligible absentee and provisional ballots
are counted, said Cincinnati attorney Daniel J. Hoffheimer, chief
lawyer for the Kerry-Edwards campaign in Ohio.
Hoffheimer emphasized that the "effort is not in any way intended
to overturn George Bush's victory in Ohio, and we do not expect to
find a pattern of voter fraud. Rather, the Kerry-Edwards legal team's
intention is to assure that provisional, absentee, overseas and
regular ballots are counted in accordance with federal and Ohio law.
In that way the final, official count will be as accurate and honest
as is humanly possible, given the serious limitations imposed by
Ohio's antiquated election laws."
On election day, a lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in
Cincinnati asserting that the state lacked uniform standards for
making decisions on the validity of provisional ballots.
A hearing in the case has not yet been held.
The lawsuit said that if the state did not have uniform standards, it
would run afoul of the 2000 Supreme Court decision that halted a
recount in Florida and handed the election to Bush. That ruling said
that the same criteria for a recount needed to be applied throughout a
Ohio State University law professor Edward B. Foley, an election law
specialist, said late this week that he had heard troubling reports
indicating that disparate standards were being used in different Ohio
"A provisional ballot, as Congress envisioned when enacting the
Help America Vote Act [in 2002], was supposed to function as a kind of
voter's insurance policy," Foley said.
If consistent standards are not used, provisional ballots may not be
the insurance policy they were intended to be, he said.
In Ohio, formal requests for recounts must go to the boards of
elections in each of the state's 88 counties, though recounts do not
begin until after the official results are certified, Secretary of
State spokesman James Lee said. Ohio expects to certify the
presidential election by early December.
The state has detailed rules that dictate how recounts are done,
including who has the legal authority to conduct recounts, witness the
process and even touch official records.
Under Ohio law, any candidate who does not win an election may request
a recount within five days of the official certification of a vote.
The cost of the recount is $10 per precinct, meaning that a recount of
all of Ohio's precincts would cost $113,600.
The recount must be completed within 10 days of the request being
The laws give boards of elections freedom to investigate any issues
that raise concern, and the boards "may institute more rigorous
recounting procedures," such as hand counting a larger percentage
Statement of National Voting Rights Institute,
Demos, People for the American Way Foundation, Common Cause, and the
Fannie Lou Hamer Project in Support of the Ohio Recount and for
Conserving Ballots and Examining Procedures Nationwide
Stuart Comstock-Gay or John
Voting Rights Institute, 617-624-3900
Tim Rusch, Demos, 212-389-1407; Miles Rapoport, Demos, 212-419-8760
Peter Montgomery, People
for the American Way Foundation, 202-467-4999
Mary Boyle, Common
Carrie Bolton, Fannie
Lou Hamer Project, 919-542-4111 or 888-287-3547
NEW YORK, NY --
November 15 -- As organizations deeply committed to full participation
and the quality of American democracy, we support the decision by
presidential candidates David Cobb and Michael Badnarik to request a
recount of all votes cast in Ohio for president of the United States. It
is not our expectation that a recount will change the outcome of the
presidential election, nor is that the intent of this effort. We believe
it is imperative that, in a democracy, every citizen's vote be counted.
Moreover, we urge
citizens and candidates to request recounts of any elections where doubt
has been cast about the integrity of the counting, and we urge election
officials in every state to preserve, protect, and maintain all ballots
from the election, whether cast on machine, by absentee, or by
provisional ballot. We further ask that they maintain all voter
registration files, including all applications accepted and rejected,
all records of resource allocation among precincts during the election,
and all internal guidelines for evaluating all types of ballots.
A recount in Ohio
and a full examination of ballots and registrations in Ohio and
elsewhere are not only necessary first steps to ensure that we have an
accurate count. Such efforts will also help all Americans better
understand what is working and what is not working in our elections
system. With that information, we can pursue reforms that will ensure
that the next election is less likely to face doubts.
The questions in
Ohio seem particularly troubling. Approximately 93,000 ballots have not
been counted on the grounds that voters either voted for more than one
presidential candidate or did not cast a vote in the presidential race.
Ohio election officials are making determinations as to the eligibility
of those who voted with provisional ballots and may be improperly
disqualifying thousands of the 155,000 provisional ballots that have
been cast. Ohio election officials are engaged in a similar process with
overseas absentee ballots.
In addition, on
Election Day, thousands of Ohio citizens reported difficulties and
barriers in casting their vote. These reports included: lines into the
hours at polling places, creating an undue burden on voters and
discouraging many from voting; shortages of poll workers and machines;
electronic voting machines which malfunctioned, with voting screens
displaying a vote for a candidate which had not been cast; voters being
required to show identification even though they were not first-time
mail-in registrants; erroneous purges of voters from the voter rolls;
voters who requested absentee ballots but never received them and were
nevertheless barred from voting in person. In one precinct in Franklin
County, Ohio, an electronic voting system gave George W. Bush 3,893
extra votes out of a total of 638 votes cast.
throughout the country needs to know that every effort has been made to
count his or her vote, and this nation needs to understand exactly what
procedural issues have been raised by the vote this year. A recount of
all votes cast and an examination of all procedures used in Ohio will
allow the nation to produce a full and detailed accounting of the
election in that state, and will help lead the way for needed reforms to
safeguard our elections in the future. While such efforts will not
address all of the irregularities and potential voting rights violations
which occurred in Ohio and elsewhere on Election Day, it will give us a
full understanding of what else needs to be done so that we will have an
election system of which this nation can be truly proud. Continuing to
improve our election procedures will aid the work of restoring the
people's trust in our democratic process. Without such trust, our
democracy is in crisis.
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