Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Shattering the Myth

People For the American Way Foundation issued a press release yesterday entitled Dispenses the Myth of “Smooth” 2004 Elections: Shattering The Rose-Colored Glasses with the following information:

“The myth that the 2004 elections ran smoothly has become conventional wisdom for pundits and politicians, but nothing could be further from the truth. A preliminary review released today by members of the nonpartisan Election Protection coalition demonstrates that persistent problems continue to deny millions of Americans their fundamental voting rights, and makes the case for election reform at the local, state and national level.”

“Election Protection fielded more than 25,000 volunteers, including more than 8,000 lawyers, who monitored the polls at more than 3,500 precincts nationwide and answered the nationwide Election Protection Hotline. The program targeted heavily African-American, Latino and low-income precincts, and fielded hundreds of thousands of voter questions and complaints. The program database already includes more than 39,000 records of voter problems. Election Protection also engaged in pre-election advocacy, battling decisions by local election officials that raised barriers to the ballot box.”

“The preliminary review, 'Shattering the Myth: An Initial Snapshot of Voter Disenfranchisement in the 2004 Elections' surfaces a myriad of systemic problems. In addition to the long lines and unreasonable waiting times that kept many people - disproportionately urban minority voters - from being able to vote, the top five problems overall were registration processing, absentee ballots, machine errors, voter intimidation and suppression, and problems with the use and counting of the new provisional ballots mandated under new federal law.”

“While workers are still entering voter complaints into the Election Incident Reporting System, the 39,000 reports already entered include a wide range of problems surrounding voter registration, absentee ballots, voting machines, and provisional ballots.”

"Early recommendations [for election reform] include:
1)Support for uniform and non-discriminatory standards for counting provisional ballots
2)Improved poll worker training
3)Better enforcement of anti-voter-intimidation laws
4)More efficient and accountable processing of voter registration applications
5)Full funding for the Help America Vote Act (HAVA)
6)Increased support for voter education campaigns
7)Immediate development of the technical guidelines for voting systems by the Election Assistance Commission (EAC)
8)Support for required voter verified audit trails for all voting systems
9)Public hearings by Congress, the EAC and possibly the Federal Election Commission
10)Support for a report to be undertaken by the General Accounting Office on voting irregularities throughout the country"

Terry McAuliffe, DNC Chairman, sent an email to supporters today with the following statement:

“After consulting with our Voting Rights Institute staff, Voting Protection Coordinators, Ohio legal team, Party activists, supporters, elected officials, and others, and after reviewing available information, the Democratic National Committee has decided to conduct a thorough investigation of key election issues arising from the conduct of the 2004 general election in Ohio.”

“This investigative study will address the legitimate questions and concerns that have been raised in Ohio and will develop factual information that will be critically important in crafting further key election reforms. This project seeks to answer such questions as:
· Why did so many people have to wait in line in certain Ohio precincts and not others?
· Why weren't there enough machines in some counties and not others?
· Why were so many Ohioans forced to cast provisional ballots?

We will find answers to help implement and advocate reforms in the future. Let me be clear. We do not expect either the recount in Ohio or our investigation to overturn the results of this election. But both are vital to protecting every American's voting rights in future elections. And the Democratic Party will never waver when it comes to upholding this sacred trust."

The official request for the Ohio recount was made today in Columbus:

“The recount will probably not begin until next week because of a five-day waiting period to allow candidates time to arrange witnesses to the counting. Cobb, Badnarik and the Kerry camp gave permission for the recount to start before the five-day [some say ten-day] period. The Bush campaign did not waive the waiting period.”

Surprise, surprise! I am sure this will not be the last Republican impediment to expediency. Maybe the recount will actually get done by February? Tick, tock, tick, tock...

For me, the most heartening thing is to witness this issue finally being covered in a feature story in the New York Times. This, along with several other stories in major newspapers, are a testament to the fact that we've come a long way from the early, dark days of a total mainstream media blackout. So to restate from an earlier post, "... and the whisper will become a roar."

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