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



Home Page Interpreting Pre-Election Polls Anti-Kerry Lies and Fraud
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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).


11/1/04 [Permalink]
Fraudulent robo (phone) calls to heavily Democratic counties in Michigan provide false information on polling locations and claim that a vote for Kerry is a vote for gay marriage

Via Josh Marshall, here is an article in the Detroit Free Press:

Some voters on Monday complained of getting misleading automated phone calls over the weekend telling them either that their polling place had changed or that a vote for Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry was a vote to legalize gay marriage.

The messages - known as robo calls - were placed in heavily Democratic cities of Detroit, Flint and Pontiac and the Democratic-leaning city of Grand Rapids.

“When you vote this Tuesday, remember to legalize gay marriage by supporting John Kerry,” the call said. “It’s what we all want. It’s a basic Democratic principle.”

Kerry opposes same sex marriage. Earlier this year, Kerry spoke against a proposal to amend the federal constitutional to ban same sex marriage, saying the issue was divisive and should be left up to states. He supports civil unions for gay or lesbian couples.

The phone calls were made in communities with large populations of African Americans, many of whom vote Democratic, but who also have supported the passage of Michigan’s ballot Proposal 2, a ban on same sex marriage.

“It’s obvious that they’re using this as a wedge issue to suppress the vote in Detroit,” said Josh Elling, 28, a Kerry supporter from Detroit, who received the call Sunday evening. “I think it’s shameful.”

Bush’s Michigan campaign spokesman John Truscott said the campaign had nothing to do with the calls and that he was not aware of them.

“I checked with both the party and campaign and nobody knows anything about it,” said Truscott, spokesman for the Bush campaign in Michigan. “Our best advice is basically don’t believe what you hear, especially anything coming at the 11th hour.”

The calls about polling place changes were received by Democratic voters in Macomb County as well as in Democratic-leaning cities in Ohio, another hotly contested state in the presidential election.

The Kerry campaign was incensed by the calls, which gave no indication of who was the sponsor.

10/21/04 [Permalink]
Fraud in Michigan involving a small number of registrations submitted by nonpartisan, but left-leaning group ACORN's Project Vote and the Public Interest Research Group (PIRGIM)

Via Dailykos, we have this report:

Overzealous or unscrupulous campaign workers in several Michigan counties are under investigation for voter-registration fraud, suspected of attempting to register nonexistent people or forging applications for already-registered voters, election and law enforcement officials said Wednesday.

Officials in Wayne, Oakland, Ingham and Eaton counties have been contacted about the problem, which appears to be an outgrowth of unprecedented efforts by political interest groups to register thousands of new voters before the November election.

State Elections Director Christopher Thomas said he hoped criminal prosecutions would result. Thomas, who has held his post for more than 20 years, said the scale of voter-registration drives this year and the irregularities were like nothing he had seen before.

Although there is little likelihood that phony registrations could be used to affect the outcome of an election because of safeguards in place, alleged fraud undermines confidence in the system and burdens local elected officials, Thomas said.

"We don't want to give the impression that there are a lot of people who will be able to vote" using a phony registration, Thomas said, "but these clerks have enough to do without having to screen thousands of duplicates" and bogus applications.
Representatives from two groups whose workers have submitted apparently-fraudulent applications -- the Public Interest Research Group in Michigan (PIRGIM) and Project Vote -- downplayed the issue Wednesday, insisting that it involved only a handful of workers and a limited number of registrations.

David Leland, national director of Project Vote, said fewer than 100 of the thousands of applications his group has collected in Detroit, Pontiac and other four other urban centers had been identified as fraudulent.

But the massive registration drives have produced thousands of registration applications from voters already on the rolls, city elections officials said. [eRiposte note: This in itself, as I have stated before, is not necessarily an example of fraud unless there are huge numbers of registrations under the same name.]

Detroit Elections Director Gloria Williams said her office has been receiving several thousand new registrations a day, about half of which were duplicates of people already registered.

Heidi Blankenship, regional director of a PIRGIM voter-registration drive designed to generate 20,000 new voters in Ingham and Washtenaw counties, said only three or four workers out of dozens in the project were suspected of wrongdoing. She described them as "young students who didn't realize it was a potential felony."

She said PIRGIM pays workers a flat rate, with bonuses for exceeding registration targets. The group attempts to verify a sampling of new registrations, she said.

Project Vote's Leland said workers from the offices of the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN), which are collecting registrations in Michigan, had produced nearly 70,000 new registrations with a very low error rate.

"I feel very happy with the way it is working out, but we will do whatever we can to ensure the integrity of the process," he said.

There have been scattered reports of similar voter-registration problems from around the country. The Project Vote office in Ohio fired two workers earlier this year for submitting bogus voter applications.

Ingham County Clerk Mike Bryanton said some of the alleged fraud he had reviewed was "pretty obvious," including names taken out of the phone book and as many as eight people registered from a single apartment address.

More coverage on ACORN here.


10/18/04_3 [Permalink]
Calls made (from as-yet unknown sources) to citizens in Democrat-rich Michigan counties falsely claiming that their deadline to apply for absentee ballots has passed or that completed ballots should be mailed to a wrong address

Via reader JM and Hesiod, here's a report on this incident:

Michigan's top elections official on Monday said qualified voters can request absentee ballots until Nov. 1, citing fraudulent calls telling voters the application deadline already had passed.

Registered voters who qualify for an absentee ballot have until 4 p.m. on Nov. 1 to request one at their city or township clerk's office, Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land said. Voters have until 2 p.m. on Oct. 30 to request an absentee ballot be sent to their home.

Land said there have been some reports of calls made to Ann Arbor and southern Wayne County residents by people identifying themselves as members of the state bureau of elections or local clerk's offices. They are telling residents the deadline to apply for an absent voter ballot has passed and are asking that completed ballots be sent to the wrong place.

"This fraudulent activity is unconscionable," Land said in a news release. "While these activities appear to be extremely limited and do not represent what's going on throughout Michigan, it's important that residents do not release private information over the phone."

It's unclear who is making the calls. A message left with the secretary of state's office on Monday morning wasn't immediately returned.

Absentee ballots must be completed and returned to the clerk's office by 8 p.m. on Nov. 2, Election Day.

10/18/04_2 [Permalink]
Some of Michigan's Department of State's offices inform newly registered voters, wrongly, that they are not eligible to vote on Nov. 2; when confronted with this miscommunication, the GOP Secretary of State's office initially did nothing. Finally, after a Democratic Party press conference, the Sec. of State agrees to send out a communication to alert the voters who were misled.

Via reader JM (and a Google search), here is some history on this. 

This report first:

Newly registered voters in at least two Secretary of State offices were wrongly told they are ineligible to vote in the Nov. 2 election, sparking charges by Democrats that GOP Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land is trying to suppress turnout.

But Land's spokeswoman said Tuesday that it was an isolated mistake made when fliers were handed out in Battle Creek and Ann Arbor branch offices during the past week. The notices were intended for distribution after Oct. 4, the last day of registration for the Nov. 2 election.

The notice told voters in bold capital letters:: "Registering today? Please be advised that you are not eligible to vote in the November 2, 2004 General Election.''

"Some of our branch offices made them available prematurely,'' said Kelly Chesney, a spokeswoman for Land. She said her office found out about it late Friday via e-mail from an Ann Arbor voter and notified the 173 branch offices to make sure to hold the notices until Oct. 5.

She said all new voter registrants where the mistakes were made will be notified by mail to clarify that they are eligible to vote. Chesney said she didn't know how many people will have to be notified.

The ill-timed notice goes on to correctly explain that a first-time voter who registers after Oct. 4 is not eligible to vote Nov. 2.

Initially, I thought I would attribute this to an honest mistake that the office stepped up to correct right away. Then I discovered Ari Berman's report in The Nation (bold text is my emphasis):

Is the battleground state of Michigan turning into the next Florida? Is Terry Lynn Land - the Michigan Secretary of State and Republican co-chair of the Bush-Cheney campaign - about to become the next Katherine Harris?

In the last few weeks the Department of State's branch offices in Ann Arbor and Battle Creek have distributed special notices to newly registered voters. "Registering today? Please be advised that you are not eligible to vote in the November 2, 2004 General Election." Except the deadline to register for November's election isn't till October 4 and the fliers were meant for display only after October 5.

Ann Arbor's a progressive haven. And Battle Creek remains a hotly contested swing district with a one-term House Republican struggling for re-election.

What's going on here?

It's impossible to know right now whether the State's offices deliberately mislead voters or made an honest mistake. But when State Senator Mark Schauer of Battle Creek asked Land's legislative liaison what they were doing to remedy the problem, he received a stunning reply.


That prompted a fiery news conference and rebukes from seven state legislators on Tuesday. "This is part of a consistent pattern and practice of the Republican Party," said Sen. Samuel Thomas of Detroit. Land reversed course and sent out a second notice informing new voters that their vote would count. But the damage may already have been done. Who knows how many of these voters will disregard the second notice? How many didn't register after seeing the first flier? It's still unclear how many of the 173 state branch offices followed suit. Land's office insists only two. Schauer's office already learned of a third mailing to Brighton, Michigan.

There's a precedent here. In July Republican state legislator John Pappageorge generated an outcry after labeling voter suppression the key to a Bush-Cheney victory. "If we do not suppress the Detroit vote, we're going to have a tough time," he told the Detroit Free Press, speaking of the eighty percent black and heavily Democratic city.


10/18/04_1 [Permalink] UPDATED 10/19/04
Michigan's GOP Secretary of State issues rigid ruling on validity of provisional ballots - which is expected to lead to vote suppression

Via RandyMI at MyDD, here's a report on this:

The Republican Secretary of State in Michigan, Terri Lynn Land, is trying to do the same thing with provisional ballots as Blackwell is trying in Ohio.
Check the extended story for details. In the meantime, I'm urging fellow Michigan kossacks to email or call her office:


Time to man our battlestations.

LANSING, Mich. (AP) -- Democrats in Michigan sued the state's highest-ranking election official on Tuesday, arguing that voters who show up at the wrong polling place on Nov. 2 but are in the right city, village or township can cast a provisional ballot.

The state party and the Bay City Democratic Party filed a federal lawsuit in Bay City against Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land, a Republican. They say she has illegally refused to count provisional ballots of voters who accidentally go to the wrong polling place for the general election.

Democrats want Land to rescind her instructions Michigan's 2,438 county and local election officials not to count provisional ballots for voters who show up at the wrong precinct.

Michigan Democratic Party Chairman Mark Brewer said the Help America Vote Act, which Congress passed in 2002, allows voters to cast provisional ballots if they are in the correct city, village or township. Provisional ballots are provided to voters with questionable eligibility and are set aside and counted after being inspected.

"No eligible voter should have his or her vote taken away because they mistakenly went to the wrong polling place," Brewer said in a news release.

Similar lawsuits have been filed in Colorado, Missouri and Ohio.

State Bureau of Elections Director Chris Thomas said HAVA doesn't require the state to count the provisional ballots of voters who are in the wrong polling location and refuse to go to the correct one.

"We are, under state law, required to determine if they're in the right place," he said. "It's never been an issue. ... It's always been that way that you've got to be in your polling place."

Thomas said local elections officials have been instructed to tell voters who are in the wrong place the correct location to cast their ballots.

A hearing on the lawsuit is scheduled for Oct. 13, said Jason Moon, spokesman for the state Democratic Party.

Via Hesiod, here is an update in the Detroit Free Press:

A federal judge ruled Tuesday that Michigan must count provisional ballots cast by voters who show up at the wrong polling precincts but are in the right city, township or village.

U.S. District Judge David Lawson issued an injunction barring Republican Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land from ordering election officials not to count provisional ballots unless voters appear in the right precinct.

Lawson agreed with Michigan Democrats who say people who appear in the right city, township or village should have their votes counted regardless of whether they show up in the correct precinct.

More on this here (also via Hesiod):

His ruling echoed one last week by a federal judge in Ohio.

The Justice Department had argued in a friend-of-the-court brief Monday that the 2002 Help America Vote Act does not give individuals the right to sue if they believe their state has violated the law. Rather, they should go through a state administrative complaint process or rely on a U.S. attorney to file suit, the federal government said.

"American elections have long been precinct-based," Justice Department attorneys wrote in court papers. "A well-understood premise of such a system is that a voter must appear at the correct polling place — the one to which the voter was assigned, and on whose rolls the voter appears — or else the voter will not be able to vote."

Mark Brewer, chairman of the Michigan Democratic Party, had said the department's "11th-hour request reeks of partisan mischief and is an abuse of our justice system."












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