From the November 2004 Idaho Observer:
Election ‘04 glitches so widespread recount not an option
by The Idaho Observer
In the wake of the 2000 presidential election fiasco in Florida, Congress passed the "Help the American Voter Act (HAVA)" in 2001. The act was ostensibly passed to improve voter access and minimize the chances of fraud and disenfranchisement by promoting the use of electronic voting systems.
If the intended outcome of HAVA was to make it impossible to accurately determine the outcome of elections, the act is an overwhelming success. At this time WikiPedia, an online encyclopedia has recorded more than 31,400 incidents (some of them minor, others very significant) connected with the Bush/Kerry election. And that number continues to grow.
The website for a group called VotersUnite! has posted a "compilation of problems reported in the media about the 2004 general election" and links to actual newsstories.
At this time there are 334 such incidents—73 of which were reported on election day. Voters Unite! decided to keep this user-friendly tally of reported incidents because it saw signs several weeks before the election that there would likely to be big problems. The first posting was a story from August 25. The site reads, "8/25/2004, Registration fraud, NM, Bernalillo County. Over 3,000 suspect registration forms. At least one 13-year old boy has received a registration card."
"Starting with early voting, we are seeing a wide array of problems, some of which appear in multiple states. This page allows you to see how widespread the problems are as they accumulate," Voters Unite! explained.
The problems are being reported from all over the country and include technical problems such as electronic hardware failure, electronic software failure (incorrectly adding votes, incorrectly subtracting votes, counting votes twice or not counting votes at all), improperly programmed software, not having enough ballots, not having enough polling machines, thousands of votes not being counted, more votes cast than voters to cast them and absentee ballots not being mailed out in time, lost or not mailed at all.
Throughout the country there was widespread voter registration confusion. It seems that thousands of improperly registered people tried to vote when they shouldn’t have and thousands of properly registered people who should have voted were prevented from doing so by elections officials who could not see past their goofed up computer monitors.
Up to 3,376 names of living Indianapolis residents were mistakenly pulled from voter registration lists because they were thought to be dead.
Election Judges in Colorado turned thousands of eligible voters away due to incorrect interpretation of the state’s voting laws.
There are also widespread reports of fraud and malfeasance by elections officials from August 25 through November 14.
In Palm Beach County, voters, particularly in predominantly black neighborhoods, could not find their polling places because they had been relocated after the hurricanes in August and September. There were no signs or other forms of assistance to help them find their new polling places.
There are numerous reports of machines not allowing voters to cast votes in certain races or for certain individuals.
In Ohio, which was predicted in advance to be the "Florida" of 2004, there was a severe shortage of voting machines. People who could afford the time waited up to five hours to vote; others had to abandon voting. According to Molly Lombardi, election staffers would direct people to stand in line and then, an hour or more later, would find out they had been told to wait in the wrong line.
In Mississippi many college students were disqualified as voters because the addresses on their voter registration cards were incomplete—the name of the dorm was not listed.
Also in Mississippi, in a heavily black precinct, voting machines were separated for Republicans and Democrats—and there were more machines for Republicans.
Prior to the election there were reports from all across the country where Republicans were employing a rather impressive array of tactics to dissuade Democrats from voting, tampering with voter registration databases and destroying absentee ballots.
"Provisional ballots" have gotten a lot of airtime this election. Because voter registration has become such a data management nightmare, people who insist they are eligible to vote but do not appear eligible to the elections official at the polling station may be handed a "provisional ballot"—a ballot that may or may not be counted based upon an arbitrary determination by election judges.
There are numerous reports that provisional ballots were judged by the votes cast and not by the eligibility of the voter. In most cases reported, Bush votes were counted, Kerry votes were not.
To print the 334 incidents listed by Voters Unite! required 12 1/2 11 x 17 pages. Those pages prove that the 2004 election is not only a disaster, but there is no way to ever pull from the records all the legitimate votes and recount them with accuracy.
Further, the record shows that both Bush and Kerry and their respective party leadership had prior knowledge that this predominantly electronic election was going to be a disaster. Neither party chose to do anything about it and neither party is raising any dissent in the election aftermath.
Kerry, who promised that all votes would count and be counted, lied. And George Bush may became the only president in history to spend eight years in the White House after not really winning twice.
Analyses of U.S. voting system proves entire process in shambles
The Internet is a marvelous tool for getting a handle on the mass of confusion that has erupted in the wake of the 2004 election. One must, however, wade through the blizzard of emotionally supercharged commentary to find the real story. The story is beyond the politics of whether or not Bush actually won. The story is that, in the absence of hard, countable votes as evidence, we will never know who won because the entire system is broken.
The map from the WikiPedia site "2004 U.S. Election Controversies and Irregularities" makes an interesting point. "Voting locations that used electronic or other types of voting machines that did not issue a paper receipt or offer auditability correlate geographically with areas that had discrepancies in Bush’s favor between exit poll numbers and actual results. Exit polling data in these areas show significantly higher support for Kerry than actual results (potentially outside the margin of error). From a statistical perspective, this may be indicative of vote rigging, because the likelihood of this happening by chance is extremely low. A study of 16 states by a former MIT mathematics professor places the likelihood at 1 in 50,000," the site explains.
A significant part of the problem appears to stem from the use of electronic balloting systems. Both the hardware and the software failed repeatedly—even while undergoing pre-election tests. There are also widespread data entry mistakes that disqualify people eligible to vote.
An analysis of votes taken electronically compared to those cast with a paper ballot shows that paper balloting is by far more reliable and accurate and resulted in significantly fewer irregularities.
The use of Diebold electronic voting systems has been questioned due to conflicts of interest and the nearly limitless opportunities for larceny inherent in paperless, recordless electronic voting. Throughout the lists of reported election problems, the Diebold name keeps coming up.
At this time there are a handful of organizations that have committed to investigating and analyzing Election 2004 data. Bev Harris’ BlackBoxVoting.org has sent emissaries to several states in an attempt to "audit" results and Ralph Nader is also conducting an investigation. Dozens of people across the country are assessing Internet data and contributing their findings to the growing body of controversy.
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