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Question: What would it take for the U.S. presidential election to be fair? CPNN article: Europe to Monitor the US Election
Tony Dominski
Posted: Sep. 02 2004,11:01

I think that there needs to be a physical presence and a web site devoted to election monitoring.  The following N.Y,Times article and comentary by a correspondent of mine shows the urgent need.

Dear All,
   Just in case we had all thought black voters' issues were
fought for and won in the 60's ------  in Florida  it seems we are
back in it once again. Take a look at the NYT's article below - it
doesn't look good.

 New York Times Editorial Page
Suppress the Vote?
Published: August 16, 2004
The big story out of Florida over the weekend was the tragic
devastation caused by Hurricane Charley. But there's another story
from Florida that deserves our attention.

State police officers have gone into the homes of elderly black
voters in Orlando and interrogated them as part of an odd
"investigation" that has frightened many voters, intimidated elderly
volunteers and thrown a chill over efforts to get out the black vote
in November.

The officers, from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, which
reports to Gov. Jeb Bush, say they are investigating allegations of
voter fraud that came up during the Orlando mayoral election in March.

Officials refused to discuss details of the investigation, other than
to say that absentee ballots are involved. They said they had no idea
when the investigation might end, and acknowledged that it may
continue right through the presidential election.

"We did a preliminary inquiry into those allegations and then we
concluded that there was enough evidence to follow through with a
full criminal investigation," said Geo Morales, a spokesman for the
Department of Law Enforcement.

The state police officers, armed and in plain clothes, have
questioned dozens of voters in their homes. Some of those questioned
have been volunteers in get-out-the-vote campaigns.

I asked Mr. Morales in a telephone conversation to tell me what
criminal activity had taken place.

"I can't talk about that," he said.

I asked if all the people interrogated were black.

"Well, mainly it was a black neighborhood we were looking at - yes,'' he said.

He also said, "Most of them were elderly."

When I asked why, he said, "That's just the people we selected out of
a random sample to interview."

Back in the bad old days, some decades ago, when Southern whites used
every imaginable form of chicanery to prevent blacks from voting,
blacks often fought back by creating voters leagues, which were
organizations that helped to register, educate and encourage black
voters. It became a tradition that continues in many places,
including Florida, today.

Not surprisingly, many of the elderly black voters who found
themselves face to face with state police officers in Orlando are
members of the Orlando League of Voters, which has been very
successful in mobilizing the city's black vote.

The president of the Orlando League of Voters is Ezzie Thomas, who is
73 years old. With his demonstrated ability to deliver the black vote
in Orlando, Mr. Thomas is a tempting target for supporters of George
W. Bush in a state in which the black vote may well spell the
difference between victory and defeat.

The vile smell of voter suppression is all over this so-called
investigation by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

Joseph Egan, an Orlando lawyer who represents Mr. Thomas, said: "The
Voters League has workers who go into the community to do voter
registration, drive people to the polls and help with absentee
ballots. They are elderly women mostly. They get paid like $100 for
four or five months' work, just to offset things like the cost of
their gas. They see this political activity as an important
contribution to their community. Some of the people in the community
had never cast a ballot until the league came to their door and
encouraged them to vote."

Now, said Mr. Egan, the fear generated by state police officers going
into people's homes as part of an ongoing criminal investigation
related to voting is threatening to undo much of the good work of the
league. He said, "One woman asked me, 'Am I going to go to jail now
because I voted by absentee ballot?' "

According to Mr. Egan, "People who have voted by absentee ballot for
years are refusing to allow campaign workers to come to their homes.
And volunteers who have participated for years in assisting people,
particularly the elderly or handicapped, are scared and don't want to
risk a criminal investigation."

Florida is a state that's very much in play in the presidential
election, with some polls showing John Kerry in the lead. A
heavy-handed state police investigation that throws a blanket of fear
over thousands of black voters can only help President Bush.

The long and ugly tradition of suppressing the black vote is alive
and thriving in the Sunshine State.
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Profile PM 
Posted: Sep. 17 2004,14:57

Here is some additional news on observers arriving from overseas to monitor the electoral process in this country:
International Election Monitors Arrive in the United States.

Other news is available on the website of www.fairelection.us.

The question about these observers, as well as those from the OSCE in the target article, is whether they will be given access by the US authorities to the information they need to make a fair assessment.  In Venezuela, the government gave full access to election observers.  In this country, it seems unlikely to occur unless there is strong public pressure.
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Posted: Oct. 19 2004,20:06

Jimmie Carter has recently written an op-ed piece in the Washington Post in which he subjects the United States to the same kind of scrutiny that his Carter Center does to other countries around the world where they monitor elections.  A summary is given at CNN.

Carter concludes that there is serious danger that this will not be a fair election.

Edited by David Adams on Oct. 19 2004,20:13
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Posted: Nov. 12 2004,16:28

The following exchange with Medea Benjamin, a leader in the Green Party of the United States, is instructive as we try to gain perspectives on the need for election reform.  In her work with Global Exchange, Medea helped invite international experts to observe the recent elections.

Q: What did the international election observers that Global Exchange brought to the United States discover?

Benjamin: One aspect of the U.S. electoral system that our observer delegation found deeply disturbing is the partisan oversight and administration of elections. The secretaries of state hold office as either Democrats or Republicans, as do most county clerks. This is a major departure from the global norm. Partisan electoral management has led to accusations of bias, especially in Florida and Ohio.

Several other facets of U.S. elections caught the observers'
attention. They were disappointed that touch screen voting
machines--which nearly one in three voters used this year--do not provide a paper trail. They were confused as to why the public financing of the Presidential race--in which each candidate receives up to $70 million--is not duplicated for House and Senate races. And they were distressed by the laws in eight states that permanently disenfranchise felons, laws that create subcategories of citizenship.

The bottom line is that the observers believe that we here in the U.S. have a lot of work to do to reform our electoral systems and give all Americans the confidence that elections will be fair.
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CPNN Administrator
Posted: Jan. 03 2005,05:30

The report Ohio and the Electoral College Vote, is the latest in a series on this subject.  It comes to a head on January 6 at the meeting of the Electoral College, that recreates the dramatic scene in the movie Fahrenheit 911 where Michael Moore asked after the 2000 election if there was not even one Senator with the courage to stand up for democracy.  Other reports in this series include: Europe to Monitor the US Election and Greens and Libertarians File for Ohio Recount .
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Profile PM 
Posted: Jan. 05 2005,07:06

Our local paper, the Anniston Star, has carried no articles recently about the debate over challenging the electoral vote being led by John Conyers.  This is discouraging, since it is a liberal publication which has been a moderate voice throughout the election.   I have written several letters to the editor with no response.  I will be wearing my Vote 2004 button tomorrow (January 6) to remind myself and others that the election is not over yet.  I hope that this election will spur the necessary changes in our election system to assure that every one votes and every vote is counted (correctly).
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6 replies since Aug. 30 2004,19:33 < Next Oldest | Next Newest >

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