Vote Watch 2004
Vote/Election fraud, vote suppression, voting irregularities, voter intimidation in Election 2004

 

Acknowledgements


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Here, I use the definition of Swing States by the Swing State Project

Please select your state of interest to proceed. (If there is no link, that means there is no content for that state yet).

COLORADO

11/20/04 [Permalink]
Some voters in a predominantly African-American precinct near Denver, Colorado, provided wrong precinct address on their doorsteps on Election day

Via Election Protection Coalition, there is this incident:

An Associated Press story noted Election Protection's exposure of reported voter supression tactics in Colorado:

Officials with the Election Protection Coalition, a voter-rights group, also said some voters in a predominantly black neighborhood north of Denver found papers on their doorsteps giving them the wrong address for their precinct

 

11/16/04 [Permalink]
Voting irregularities in Colorado included incorrect instructions on absentee ballots and IDs

Via Votersunite, a report in the Denver Post:

...there were statewide problems ranging from provisional ballot problems to the lack of clear and timely instructions about all the new election changes.

The secretary of state's election rules went through at least four different versions this year before the final set of rules was issued on Oct. 22, less than two weeks before Election Day. Similarly, the statewide election judge training manual produced by the secretary of state's office was not issued until a week before the election.

By that time, a substantial portion of the state's 16,000 judges were already trained, and many Coloradans had already cast their ballots during early voting.

There were county-level problems ranging from poor judge training to incorrect interpretation of state law or rules. Denver improperly rejected some provisional ballots cast during the primary. Many Denver precincts ran out of voting materials hours before the polls closed, leaving voters waiting in long lines while additional materials were dispatched.

Many counties had problems with absentee ballots. Denver sent 13,000 ballots late, Saguache sent late ballots to nearly a third of that county's voters. Instructions on absentee ballots were wrong in several counties, including Denver and Adams. There were inexcusably long lines for early voting in many counties, where clerks have discretion to designate as many locations as they deem appropriate.

Finally, there was the substantial counting problem experienced in Boulder that resulted in state and national races decided days before the votes from that county were included - giving voters there the understandable feeling that their votes did not count.

Most prevalent were precinct-level problems. Election judges in Boulder, Denver, Jefferson, Douglas and Weld counties gave incorrect instructions to voters about IDs, and more alarmingly, sent dozens of these voters away without allowing them to cast ballots.

Some judges incorrectly told provisional ballot voters that they should only vote for president. Some judges were still redirecting voters to other polling places or clerks' offices minutes before the close of polling instead of offering provisional ballots.

 

10/21/04_2 [Permalink]
Colorado's Help America Vote Act (HAVA) Compliance Director is a known racist - so much for helping America vote

Via Atrios, here's a report in the Rocky Mountain Progressive Network:

Colorado's HAVA compliance director. You would expect this guy to be a rock -- somebody who will ensure fair, equal access for all voters without favor or prejudice.

You therefore expect him to not be a stone-cold racist, right? Check out these excerpts from an article that appeared in the Texas Lawyer in October of 1994:

Shortly after Drew T. Durham joined the Texas attorney general's office in September 1991, he and another assistant AG, Ray Buvia, met for a beer after work.

Buvia says as they chatted, a young black lawyer, also new to the AG's office, walked past them.

Durham, says Buvia, asked, "How do you like our newest Sambo?"

Buvia's experience with Durham -- who in three years with AG Dan Morales' office has risen to criminal justice division chief and the lawyer in charge of the state's death-penalty litigation -- wasn't an isolated incident, according to five other lawyers who have worked with Durham inside and outside the agency. They say Durham, a former president of the Texas District & County Attorneys Association who came to Morales' office after 12 years as a county attorney in West Texas, has a history of racist and sexist comments.

Former Travis County Commissioner Jimmy Snell, a non-lawyer who worked for Durham in the AG's intergovernmental affairs division, said Durham routinely told "nigger jokes." Snell, who is black, said Durham has a widespread reputation in the agency for racist comments.

Following along yet? This gets better:

Buvia, who resigned from the AG's office March 31 and now has a solo private practice in Austin, said he also recalls Durham bragging on several occasions, saying, "I told Dan Morales to his face -- 'Where I come from Mexicans work for white men, not the other way around.'" Another former assistant said he has also heard Durham make this comment.

Keep reading, while understanding how much power this man now wields, right here in Colorado, over your vote:

Buvia, like other former agency lawyers, doubts Durham ever told Morales any such thing, even as a joke. Buvia said Durham was usually careful to make racist comments only around men he thought might share his views.

"When he's around white men, he lets his true colors show," Buvia said.

A little outraged yet? This Owens-crony Texas import has got some issues, for sure. Texas Lawyer has more...ah, colorful viewpoints from Mr. Durham:

...in his comments to a property rights gathering last month, Durham let loose with anti-environment broadsides that current and Former assistant AGs say speak volumes about his attitude and personality on a whole range of issues. "There's no endangered species in Sterling County because...we killed them all," he said.

And here's where it gets really good -- but very chilling as well for our electoral process:

Durham also earned the enmity of many in the civil rights community when he helped with the internal investigation of Gary L. Bledsoe, a 14-year agency veteran who also is Texas NAACP president. Morales suspended Bledsot with pay earlier this year while the Travis Cotmty district attorney's office investigated whether Bledose did NAACP and Travis County Democratic Party work while on state time.

The DA's investigation cleared Bledsoe, but not before the NAACP leader, tired of awaiting the results of an investigation he believed was politically motivated, resigned from the agency.

Bledsoe, who has filed a racial discrimination complaint against Morales with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, said Oct. 18 that the number of complaints he has heard about Durham's alleged racial slurs makes it "quite ironic that he was originally put in charge of the investigation into my work."

"His presence in this investigation raises questions about its nature and validity," Bledsoe said.

Question: does his presence in Colorado as head of the 'Help America Vote' office raise questions about its nature and validity?

 

10/21/04 [Permalink] UPDATED 10/30/04
Voter registration fraud involving non-partisan but left-leaning group ACORN reported in Colorado; election officials downplay reports and suggest it is minor and most of the issues are cases of multiple registration, and that ACORN helped in the discovery of the fraud

Via Catnip at Dailykos, here is a report from the local NBC News:

 Most of the fraud has come from registration drives, where people at grocery stores or on the streets ask you to sign up. 9News has learned many workers have re-registered voters multiple times by changing or making up information about them. 9News has documented 719 cases of potentially fraudulent forms at county election offices show fraudulent names, addresses, social security numbers or dates of birth in Denver, Douglas, Adams, Boulder and Lake counties. Information from other counties is still coming in.

Some voter registration application forms are completely bogus. Others belong to legitimate voters, who have had one or two facts changed that could affect their registration when they show up at the polls November 2nd. Tom Stanislawski registered to vote six years ago. But this summer, someone signed him up again and changed his party affiliation. "My concern would be I'd walk in November 2nd and be unable to vote," he said.

Some of the registration drive workers earn $2 per application or about $10 an hour. One woman admitted to forging three people's names on about 40 voter registration applications. Kym Cason says she was helping her boyfriend earn more money from a get-out-the-vote organization called ACORN or Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now. ACORN works with low or moderate-income families on housing issues. Cason said her extra registrations earned her boyfriend $50.

Gerald Obi says workers pressured him to keep registering to vote so they too could earn extra cash. When asked how many times he had registered this year, Obi said, "about 35 times."

ACORN's state director said they are victims of the fraud as well and told 9News the group is cooperating with local investigators. Ross Fitzgerald says the group has fired workers for the fraud. "Our goal is to register as many people as we can," said Fitzgerald. "If they're fraudulent, that hurts our numbers."

However, on the same issue, an ABC News affiliate suggests that the problem is perhaps being blown out of proportion

"It's a handful of people and we can address whatever comes up," said Larimer County Clerk and Recorder Scott Doyle.

Denver-based election law attorney Steve Bachar said concerns may be getting blown out of proportion because Colorado is considered a swing state in the presidential election, because its U.S. Senate race could determine political control of that body, and because those and other races are expected to be close.
...
Contributing to concerns about the election are intensive registration drives that came up with tens of thousands of registration applications. The Denver Election Commission received more than 10,000 first-time registrations in September alone, spokesman Alan McBeth said.

In some cases, groups paid workers according to how many people filled out applications.

Kym Cason said that she registered 25 times and registered several of her friends 40 times to help her boyfriend, who earned $2 for each voter he registered for the Association of Community Organizations.

Several thousand registration applications likely will be thrown out because some people who filled them out already were registered but may have forgotten. A small percentage will be sent to the secretary of state's office for investigation and possible prosecution by the attorney general.

Jefferson County Clerk and Recorder Faye Griffin said investigating potential fraud is well below getting through a backlog of registration applications and absentee-ballot applications on her list of priorities.

This Washington Times article (via Dailykos), also suggests that Colorado officials believe most of the over-registration cannot really be called fraud unless there is false information in the registrations.

At the same time, some registration drives have collected applications and then failed to submit them by the Oct. 4 deadline, prompting Secretary of State Donetta Davidson to announce the use of provisional ballots last week.
...
Mrs. Davidson also sought to assuage fears of massive fraud by pointing out that it was county clerks who had flagged the most egregious cases appearing in recent press accounts.
    "When people are told there are hundreds of these cases, they don't realize that they were all caught by the clerk and recorder and never made it through the system," Mrs. Davidson said.
    Most clerks and lawyers at the meeting chalked up the fraud to overzealous registration workers trying to earn some extra cash. Several of the state's independent voter-registration groups paid their workers $2 per application and set goals of 10 applications per hour.
    Carole Snyder, the Adams County clerk and recorder, said she received 42 applications for the same would-be voter. Her office flagged the excess applications, each of which contained the same information, and pared it down to one.
    "Those are not really what I call fraudulent, but are really just a pain in the neck," Mrs. Snyder said.
    Boulder County Clerk and Recorder Linda Salas said some people register repeatedly not with the intent to vote more than once, but rather as Election Day insurance.
    "A lot of times, people are registering several times because, 'Oh, I can't remember if I registered,' or 'Maybe I should do it again, just to be sure,' " Mrs. Salas said.
    The clerks are referring cases that appear to be blatant fraud, such as forged signatures, to the county attorneys. Bill Ritter, the Denver district attorney, said his office received 69 such cases from the county clerk last week.
    But he said he saw no pattern of a conspiracy to commit election fraud.
    "We are not seeing some scam where people are trying to corrupt the process," Mr. Ritter said. "We're seeing people who are motivated by greed or laziness."

UPDATE 10/30/04

Via Votersunite, here's an update in the Rocky Mountain News:

Denver prosecutors charged two people Wednesday with falsely filling out multiple voter forms to boost their pay in a paid registration drive.

Monique Mora, 20, and Pelonne Page, 21, both of Denver, were charged with six counts of procuring false registrations, a misdemeanor with a maximum punishment of up to 18 months in jail and a $5,000 fine

District Attorney Bill Ritter said the pair worked for the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, known as ACORN, which is one of a number of organizations that paid people to sign up voters this year.

Those registration drives helped drive the voter rolls up by more than 300,000 but have spawned a number of investigations into fraudulent and duplicate registrations and made some officials uneasy about the integrity of the election process.

Criminal cases are pending against four people for questionable registrations in the metro area, and there may be more before investigations are completed.

Jim Fleischmann, ACORN's regional director for election-related activities, said from his Montana office Wednesday that the group is proud of having signed 32,000 new voters in Colorado this year, but is sorry that two of its people tried to pad their pay through phony registrations.

"We pay by the hour, not the registration, and by duplicating about 30 cards, they could justify billing us for hours they didn't work," he said.

Fleischmann said the group has an internal audit and often catches cards with similar names except for middle initials and that they're registered to the same address or that the same name is spelled different ways.

"And when these duplicates come through the board of elections office and are processed, they are caught and we are advised by the local DA's offices."

Ritter said that is what happened in this case and ACORN was helpful in backtracking to find out who the people involved were.

"There was no indication that any of the people intended to vote more than once," Ritter said.

"So far this election, we have about 150 to 200 suspicious voter registration cards, but no other charges have yet been filed," he said.

"We don't feel there is any grand conspiracy out there to corrupt the outcome of the election, but these simply were people wanting to make money without doing the work."

 

10/12/04 [Permalink] UPDATED 10/21/04
GOP Secretary of State blocks provisional ballot votes from being counted for House and Senate races - making it harder for Democrat Ken Salazar to win the Senate race

Via Drew at Dailykos, Colorado Luis provides an update:

Here is a pretty blatant attempt to help Peter Coors against Ken Salazar, and Bob Beauprez against Dave Thomas, by using the machinery of the government to disenfranchise voters: Republican Secretary of State Donetta Davidson has announced that if a voter counts a provisional ballot, even if the ballot is accepted only the vote for president will be counted. If this rule had been in effect in 2002, no provisional ballots would have been counted, and Beauprez' narrow win over Mike Feeley in CO-7 would have been more comfortable -- provisional ballots, usually cast by people who moved shortly before the election (or who forgot to bring photo ID), heavily favored the Democrat in that race.

Davidson's arbitrary determination faces an uphill battle in Denver District Court and the Colorado Supreme Court, which is expected to rule before early voting starts on October 18. 

As Drew says:

Colorado Common Cause is suing to stop Davidson's order. You can act as well:

  1. Contact Donetta Davidson. Tell her how you feel about this decision.

    PHONE (303) 894-2200, Option 3
    FAX   (303) 869-4861
    EMAIL sos.elections@sos.state.co.us

  2. Contact Colorado newspapers and Colorado television stations. Ask them to report on this issue. The Denver Post already has; ensure that the rest do, too.

UPDATE 10/21/04:

Political State Report notes this:

Colorado has joined other states across the nation in experiencing a rush of election related litigation and voting snafus. Early voting for the general election commenced today, and this afternoon, a Denver judge has ruled on a pending suit over various new election rules from Republican Secretary of State Donetta Davidson.

The requirement that ID be produced to vote was upheld. The judge also upheld a controversial rule permitting provisional ballots cast in the wrong precinct to be cast only for President, and not for other statewide offices such as U.S. Senate, statewide ballot issues, and CU Regent At Large. But, a rule which would have prevented voters who had requested absentee ballots from casting a provisional vote even if they swear that they didn't actually vote absentee was struck down.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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