No One in America Should Have to Wait 7 Hours to Vote
No matter who wins the presidential race, no matter which party controls Congress, can we at least agree as reasonable adults that when it comes to voting itself the election of 2012 is a national disgrace? We ask our sons and daughters, our husbands and wives, to give their lives abroad for noble concepts like "freedom" and "democracy." And yet we are content as a nation, and as a people, to tolerate another cycle of election rules that require our fellow citizens to sacrifice a measure of basic human dignity simply to exercise their right to vote.
For example, what happened this weekend in Florida is simply unacceptable. According to a local election official interviewed by CBS News' Phil Hirschkorn, the last "early voter" in line for Saturday's truncated early voting in Palm Beach County finally got to cast a ballot at 2:30 a.m Sunday morning, which means that voter waited in line for more than seven hours. In Miami, another traditional Democratic stronghold, the wait was said to be nearly as long. On Sunday, voters all over the state were begging judges and county officials for more time to vote.
This is happening not because of a natural disaster or breakdown in machinery. It is happening by partisan design. Alarmed by the strong Democratic turnout in early voting in 2008, Republican lawmakers, including Governor Rick Scott, reduced the number of early voting days from 14 to eight. When the restrictions were challenged in federal court under the Voting Rights Act, a three-judge panel said they would have a discriminatory impact upon minority voters. But only five of the state's 67 counties are covered by the federal civil rights law.
And the "how can all fraud be known?" argument presented by some is bogus, because if a vote is stolen then it means someone else can't vote, which means they'll raise a fuss over it. In reality, voter fraud would have to occur on a massive scale to affect any significant change, and the interest to do so isn't there. Basically out of a paranoid and unsubstantiated fear that people are voting who shouldn't be, laws are being passed which prevent or obstruct citizens from voting. The voter ID laws are completely unnecessary and seek to fix a problem which is virtually non-existent, but seem to have a "hidden" intent of taking away votes from liberal-leaning populaces, hence the heavy majority of proposals for these laws have come from Republicans. So much for loving America when you seek to complicate the voting process for many Americans, conveniently many of whom are not on "their side," to try and solve a problem which really doesn't need solving.
America's voting system is a disgrace
When the polls close in most other democracies, the results are known almost instantly. Ballots are usually counted accurately and rapidly, and nobody disputes the result. Complaints of voter fraud are rare; complaints of voter suppression are rarer still.
The kind of battle we are seeing in Florida -- where Democrats and Republicans will go to court over whether early voting should span 14 days or eight -- simply does not happen in Germany, Canada, Britain or France. The ballot uncertainty that convulsed the nation after Florida's vote in 2000 could not happen in Mexico or Brazil.
Almost everywhere else, elections are run by impartial voting agencies. In France, elections are the responsibility of the Ministry of the Interior, which establishes places and hours of voting, prints ballots (France still uses paper) and counts the votes. In Germany, an independent federal returning officer oversees a complex state and federal voting system. In Canada, federal elections are managed by a specialized agency, Elections Canada. Mexico, emerging from a sad history of electoral manipulation, created in the 1990s a respected independent agency, the Federal Electoral Institute. Brazil has nationwide electronic voting, producing instantaneous, uncontested results.
In no other country, including federal systems such as Germany, Canada and Australia, does the citizen's opportunity to vote depend on the affluence and competence of his or her local government.
In every other democracy, the vote is the means by which the people choose between the competing political parties -- not one more weapon by which the parties compete.
The United States is an exceptional nation, but it is not always exceptional for good. The American voting system too is an exception: It is the most error-prone, the most susceptible to fraud, the most vulnerable to unfairness and one of the least technologically sophisticated on earth. After the 2000 fiasco, Americans resolved to do better. Isn't it past time to make good on that resolution?
Click on the link to read the rest.
True The Vote Barred From Ohio Polling Stations
The right-wing group True The Vote has been prohibited from monitoring elections in voting stations around Columbus, Ohio, and may soon find itself under investigation for fraud, the Columbus Dispatch reported Tuesday.
The Houston-based group, which is dedicated to challenging the legitimacy of voters it considers suspect, had its status as an official vote monitor denied in Franklin County, after the necessary number of candidates to assign poll observers withdrew their support for the group, according to the Dispatch.
Elections officials in Franklin County told the paper that some of application forms requesting observer status for the group's Ohio branch, the Voter Integrity Project, appeared to have supporting names that were falsified or forged.
True The Vote President Catherine Engelbrecht denied the charges in a strongly worded statement and warned the group would be taking legal action.
"This is a final, desperate attempt to deny citizens their right to observe elections," said Engelbrecht. "The Ohio Democratic Party has projected paranoia on an international scale by promoting the idea that concerned citizens would dare observe elections to ensure a fair process. If the Ohio Democratic Party thinks True the Vote-trained poll watchers are legion, wait until it meets our lawyers.”
True The Vote has come under fire lately for appearing to focus its energies largely on minority voters. Last week, ABC News reported that True The Vote had been taking minority voters in Cincinnati to court to force them to prove the validity of their registration, and had plans to send observers to minority-heavy polling areas to confront voters on Election Day.
Seems really late to be making these decisions.
I'm certainly not a fan of targeted disenfranchisement efforts. But it seems reasonable, to me, to require these things be done a long time prior to the election.
Click on the link to read the rest.
NAACP accuses Mississippi country clerk of failing to process thousands of voter registrations
Mississippi NAACP President Derrick Johnson announced at a press conference Tuesday morning that an unknown number of voter registrations have gone missing in Hinds County, Mississippi, and urged voters to cast what is known as an affidavit ballot if they arrive at the polls and find that they are not listed. According to the Jackson Free Press, Johnson made the announcement at a press event promoting the NAACP’s Mississippi voter help line, a service designed to help voters fight irregularities and suspected wrongdoing at the polls.
Recently, the NAACP held a massive voter registration drive, which added some 10,000 new voters to Hinds County registers, but as of Friday, many of the names were not yet listed in the voter registration database.
Hinds County Circuit Clerk Barbara Dunn told the Free Press, “We worked until 5 o’clock Saturday (Oct. 6),” the deadline for voter registrations in Jackson and Hinds County, and that voters whose registrations were not been processed on time do not have any recourse through her office.
The NAACP’s Johnson insisted that his group turned in the registration forms before Oct. 6 and that they should have been processed. The organization has received multiple calls, he said, from voters whose registrations had not been completed.
Dunn has been in office as the county’s Circuit Clerk for 28 years and within the last four years has received three sanctions from the Mississippi Supreme Court. In 2008, she was cited and fined for “failure to comply with the requirements of the Mississippi Rules of Civil Procedure.
Edited. Need to keep reminding myself that allegations are not necessarily facts.
(Despite the fact that I don't find the allegations completely unbelievable.)
---------- Post added November-6th-2012 at 02:51 PM ----------
Recall reading that, supposedly, after the 2000 Florida election, somebody printed up a bunch of stickers that said "I Think I Voted"
Per MSNBC: People in Pinellas County, Florida are getting calls saying the election is tomorrow :(
Got ID check at poll here in PA.