Monday, November 08, 2004

US election: system trouble? or intentional set up?

Personally, I don't doubt that current president can do anything, such as a non-ethical commands. If it is true, it is sad that we have to obey for another 4 years?

-----Original Message-----
From: Jill Greenlee []
Sent: Thursday, November 04, 2004 8:08 PM
Subject: On the Front Lines in Florida

Spurred by the unwillingness of the broadcast media to report votingproblems during the 2004 election race, we want to alert our friends, familyand colleagues to the widespread voter suppression and disenfranchisementthat occurred in Broward County, Florida. We staffed the emergency hotlinefor the Kerry Campaign Headquarters in Broward County from late Octoberthrough the election. All of us were devastated by the margin of Bush's winin Florida, particularly since polls predicted the race would be extremelyclose.

Many of the calls to our hotline were from voters who had pressedthe Kerry button on their electronic voting screen, only to have Bush lightup as the candidate they had chosen. In some cases, this would happenrepeatedly until about the 5th or 6th time the voter pressed Kerry andeventually his name would light up. In other cases, the voters pushed Kerrybut were later asked to confirm their Bush vote.

We had calls about a road block, put up by the police at 7am on Nov.2, which blocked road access to two precinct locations in majority blackdistricts. There was no justification for the road block no accident orcrime scene or construction.

Many of our calls dealt with voter suppression, or manipulation, ofthe Haitian population occurrences which seem too numerous, and theirtargets too indefensible, as primarily poor, first-time-voter,Creole-speaking refugees, to be anything but systemic. In one example, avoter whose hands were bandaged could not press the touch-screen himself; heasked the nonpartisan election official to press Kerry for him, but theelection official pressed Bush and sent his vote immediately into themachine. Many, many others were denied the right to vote and were not givenprovisional ballots, while others were refused assistance at the polls, eventhough provisional ballots and voter assistance are legal rights. Otherswere told they had already voted and were turned away, although they hadnever voted previously. This latter experience was a complaint not isolatedto Haitians but also included other surprised voters with no recourse excepttheir word against that of the Supervisor of Elections.

We spoke with hundreds of voters who were certain they hadregistered to vote in the past 6 months, well before the October 18deadline, but were not on the rolls. And those were just the people who hadthe information to contact us.

The local paper, citing the Supervisor of Elections office as itssource, told all people voting by absentee ballot that they could turn inballots by hand to any of its seven offices by 5pm on Tuesday, Nov. 2. Everysingle one of those offices except one was closed on Tuesday.

We had numerous calls from voters on Nov. 2 whose precincts hadclosed, yet the Supervisor of Elections office had given voters nonotification of the closure, and no notification of where to go to vote.Thousands of people were likely disenfranchised because of inexcusablemishaps such as this.

We had many calls from people who had been harassed by poll workers,who were turned away without being allowed the right to vote provisionally(another breech of voter rights). Other people were turned away because theaddress on their driver's license did not match the address on their voterregistration card; again, this is in direct violation of election law.

All of these problems do not even take into account the 58,000absentee ballots that had been "lost" by the Supervisor of Elections, inperhaps the most Democratic county in the state, disenfranchising thousandsof people who were disabled, out of the country, or elderly and unable getto the polls. These events, and many others, have been documented and alsoreported to lawyers, but we fear they will not get the attention theydeserve. This is what we witnessed in just one county. We believe thatthese voting irregularities raise serious concerns about the legitimacy ofthe results in Florida, and more broadly, about the health of democracy inthis country.

Please circulate this widely.

Libby Anker
Ryan Centner
Jill Greenlee
Rachel Van Sickle-Ward