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

 

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OREGON

11/1/04 [Permalink]
GOP distances itself from vote challenge complaint in Oregon by GOP volunteer/lawyer, saying he does not formally represent BC04 and that the GOP has not decided whether to challenge the voters. Complaint demanded IDs for thousands of new registrants in liberal Multnomah county ONLY -- when IDs are not required by state law and proper identification of such voters is left to the states per the Help America Vote Act (HAVA)

Via reader KM, here's the first article in the Oregonian (bold text is my emphasis):

Democrats accused Republicans Sunday of trying to block thousands of young people's votes, following a formal request by GOP lawyers to review ballots cast by first-time voters in Oregon's most populous county.

In a letter issued Friday, attorneys for the Oregon Republican Party demanded that officials set aside ballots cast by new voters in Multnomah County who have not provided proof of identification.

Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden said that the Republican demand flies in the face of Oregon law which does not require voters to show proof of identification when registering.
...
Statewide, 207,053 first-time voters registered after May and 73,226 of them are under the age of 25, according to numbers provided by Sunlight Data Systems, a database manager working for groups backing Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry.

Twenty percent of the new voters live in Multnomah County, home to liberal Portland.
...
Two years after the voting controversy in Florida, Congress passed the Help America Vote Act [HAVA], aimed at curbing voting irregularities. One of its many provisions was a requirement that voters show proof of identification when voting.
[eRiposte note: This is an incorrect characterization of HAVA. More on this in an additional article below]

Oregon's congressional delegation took issue with that requirement because of Oregon's unique vote-by-mail system, which had previously allowed citizens to simply send in their ballots. It's more difficult for a person voting by mail to Xerox their driver's license and include it along with their mail-in ballot, than it is for a person voting at a polling booth to pull it out of their pocket and show to an elections official, the delegation argued.

The bipartisan "Oregon Compromise," drafted by Wyden and Republican Sen. Gordon Smith, added language which created an exception for Oregon as a way to preserve its unique vote-by-mail system.

Oregon Elections Director John Lindback said the state will fight the Republican request and stressed that the GOP concern is unfounded.

"For years in Oregon when a person signed their voter registration card, they were warned that if they didn't tell the truth they would be charged with a Class C Felony — that carries a $150,000 fine or up to five years in jail," said Lindback. "It's a very serious penalty and we believed that the warning was enough," he said.

He questioned the GOP's sincerity, given that the request for ballot segregation was only sent to Multnomah County.

"It looks like they're trying to stop votes from being counted in a highly liberal county. Why not in traditionally conservative counties like Baker or Umatilla or Malheur. It looks very partisan," Lindback said.

The Republican challenge is set out in a letter dated Friday signed by Matthew Lowe, an attorney in the Portland law firm of O'Donnell & Clark, which according to the letter represents the Oregon Republican Party and the Bush-Cheney 2004 re-election campaign. It is addressed to John Kauffman, director of elections in Multnomah County.

"The purpose of this letter is to demand that those ballots cast by persons who have yet to provide valid identification be set aside so that voter's registration can be reviewed and verified, and the ballots challenged if necessary," Lowe writes.

"In the event we cannot reach agreement on this matter, our client's only option will be to challenge each and every ballot cast in which a voter's identity — and qualifications — are still in question," the letter said.

Wyden said that although he is confident Oregon would prevail in a legal challenge, a lawsuit this close to the election would serve to discourage voters — especially young ones who, according to the senator, already feel as if their votes do not count.

"Florida was decided by 537 votes — and most college dorms are that size," said Wyden. "You bet that if a suit is filed tomorrow it could have a chilling effect, especially on younger voters."

Kevin Mannix, chairman of the Oregon Republican Party, did not immediately return calls late Sunday afternoon.

As I have highlighted in another section of this webpage, HAVA is more nuanced than the way it is portrayed in this article. As Alec Applebaum said in The New Republic:

HAVA struck a compromise between these burdens. It requires identification only from people who register for the first time by mail. The identification can be a bank statement, utility bill, driver's license, or another government document. And, even if a voter never provides identification, a poll worker must give the voter a provisional ballot. By requiring identification only from newcomers who haven't visited the county clerk's office, HAVA entrusts local election officials to decide whether voters are who they claim to be. And it ultimately protects voters by telling states to set up rules for counting provisional ballots. "HAVA does not require identification in order to have a vote counted," says Wendy Weiser, a lawyer with New York University's Brennan Center for Justice. But many Republican election officials are conducting this year's vote as if it does. 

Reader KM sent in this update:

The final days of Campaign 2004 also produced another flap about voting procedures, this time related to a complaint filed by an attorney who said he was representing the Bush campaign and the Republican Party.

The complaint, filed Friday evening, demanded that Multnomah County set aside ballots cast by voters who registered by mail but did not include identification. The county refused, saying state and federal laws were clear the ballots could be counted even if no identification was included.

Democrats charged that Republicans were trying to depress Democratic turnout.

"They're using specious and selectively applied criteria to try and block out votes they think are going to their opponents," said Oregon AFL-CIO President Tim Nesbitt, a supporter of Democrat Sen. John Kerry.

The Bush campaign said it had nothing to do with the complaint filed by Portland attorney Matthew D. Lowe, despite his claim to represent the campaign on this matter.

Jeb Mason, who is running the Oregon Republican Party's get-out-the-vote effort, said the attorney was a Republican volunteer asked to look out for potential legal issues but was not authorized to file the complaint.

Mason said the party has not decided whether to challenge the ballots mentioned in the complaint.

 

10/21/04 [Permalink]
Oregon GOP voter "observation manual" instruction on videotaping approaches borderline intimidation; false information on voting deadline reveals attempt at vote suppression

Via Hesiod, here are a couple of reports. My initial thought was to consider that the voting deadline issue was a possible error - but when I saw the state GOP's response when the error was revealed in their document it became clear this was no error. This was a wanton attempt to mislead their supporters into indulging in vote suppression.

Bend.com:

The Count Every Vote project on Tuesday denounced what it called Republican plans to suppress voter turnout in Oregon.

A front-page story in The Oregonian detailed a plan published by Republicans that calls on operatives to mislead, videotape and disenfranchise voters.

According to The Oregonian, State Elections Division Director John Lindback has reviewed the Republican instruction manual and said it had “serious” problems. The story outlines two Republican suppression techniques from the manual such as videotaping voters and misleading people who are standing in line on Election Night so they will get discouraged and drop out of line.

“If they start videotaping when some people are still voting, some voters might consider that intimidating,” Lindback said.

Lindback also pointed out that the Republican plan contains an untruth about who has the right to vote that could discourage voters who are in line to cast their ballots on Election Night. According to the story, the Republican manual states that ballots dropped off after 8 p.m. are not to be counted.

That is not correct. State law says that voters who are in line by 8 p.m. will have their ballots counted, even if they haven’t been turned in by the deadline. When asked about this untruth, Republican operative Jeb Mason said that there are a lot of definitions of “in line.”

“If someone is in line, they are in line. And if they are in line at 8:00 on Election Night, their vote will count,” says Bryan Johnston, spokesperson for the Count Every Vote project. “It is deeply troubling that in the first week of voting the Republicans have already started a misinformation campaign.”

Johnston says the best defense against intimidation is to stand up and be counted.

“If these efforts scare even one voter away from the polls,” he says, “we all lose.”

Johnston also noted that The Oregonian reported that so far only a Multnomah County plan has become public and that evidence is being gathered to challenge ballots in this Democratic voter base.

“Are they planning to challenge ballots, videotape voters and spread information in counties that aren’t Democratic strongholds?” he asks. “It’s one thing to be opposed to Democrats. I hope this doesn’t mean the Republicans are opposed to democracy.”

The Oregonian:

Democrats, pointing to a Republican "observation manual" that has been widely leaked, say Republicans are out to suppress turnout in Oregon as a way to help Bush beat his Democratic challenger, Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts.

"The Republicans' main goal is to make people uncomfortable and confused in the election process," said Adam Green, spokesman for the state Democratic Party. An example, he said, is "when Republicans talk about videotaping people as they go turn in their ballots."

Adams referred to a part of the nine-page GOP instruction manual that calls on volunteers to show up at ballot drop-off sites at 7:45 p.m. on election night, 15 minutes before the voting deadline.

"They should have a video camera and cell phone," states the manual, a copy of which was obtained by The Oregonian. "Their job is not to confront anyone, but to record and notify the proper officials of any activities that are not in compliance of federal, state or county election laws."

John Lindback, state elections director, looked at the Republican instruction manual and said it had a few "serious" problems. He, too, was concerned by the reference to video cameras at ballot drop-off sites.

"If they start videotaping when some people are still voting, some voters might consider that intimidating," Lindback said.

He also took issue with an implication in the manual that ballots dropped off after 8 p.m. are not to be counted.

According to the state Elections Division, voters in line by 8 p.m. will have their ballots counted, even if they haven't been turned in by the deadline. In most cases, a sheriff's deputy will stand at the end of the line to ensure no latecomers are allowed to vote.

But there are a lot of definitions of "in line," said Jeb Mason, executive director of Oregon Victory '04, the grass-roots organizing branch of the state Republican Party. [eRiposte note: This is a blatant indication of an intent to mislead voters].

 

10/19/04 [Permalink]
More attempted voter registration fraud reported in Oregon, with students at OSU told that they need to register Republican

Via Buzzflash, we have this report from Oregon State University:

On Tuesday, OSU senior Brandy Martinez was met outside the Valley Library by petitioners asking her to sign a petition to "lower car insurance for young people."

The petitioner asked her to sign her name and phone number on a blank sheet of paper and then presented her with a form he said was required to "verify [her] voter registration."

But she quickly recognized the paper to be a voter registration form, with the title obscured.

"I said, 'no, this is a voter registration form,' and he said, 'No, you need to fill this out to verify that you're registered,'" Martinez said.

The petitioner went on to say she needed to mark "Republican" on the form, saying the Republicans were the only ones willing to fund the petition.

She again refused and immediately called the Benton County elections office.

ASOSU President Kristen Downey said other universities have reported potential fraud.

"We're in contact with {Secretary of State] Bill Bradbury about issues we've come across -- the targeting of college-aged students. They're taking advantage of people -- it's probably their first time registering."

College Democrats member Joel Fischer said he wants anyone who thinks they may have been misled to contact the elections office and write an affidavit for submission to the secretary of state.

Martinez plans to do just that.

Across the state, other instances of possible fraud have been reported.

On the University of Oregon campus, canvassers circulating a petition to "crack down on child molesters" told students they must register as Republicans in order for their signatures to "count," The Associated Press reported.

 

10/13/04_2 [Permalink] UPDATED 10/14/04
Possible Destruction of Democrats' voter registrations to be probed; multiple complaints about RNC funded firm destroying Democrats' registrations now received by Attorney General

Via reader PT, here's an AP report from Oregon:

Secretary of State Bill Bradbury and Attorney General Hardy Myers plan to investigate allegations that a paid canvasser might have destroyed voter registration forms.

"There have been allegations made that someone threw out some voter registration forms that had been submitted to them," Bradbury told The Associated Press late Tuesday. "This is a violation of the law and I will meet with the attorney general in the morning to talk about what we can do to pursue this, and to make sure it doesn't happen again."

Bradbury learned of the conduct from KGW-TV, which interviewed Mike Johnson, 20, a canvasser who said he was instructed to only accept Republican registration forms. He told the TV reporter that he "might" destroy forms turned in by Democrats.

"I have never in my five years as secretary of state ever seen an allegation like the one that came up tonight — ever," Bradbury said. "I mean, frankly, it just totally offends me that someone would take someone else's registration and throw it out."

Bradbury said the law requires that groups registering voters submit forms no later than five days after they were filled out. He added that canvassers can't turn away a voter because of his or her party affiliation.

Rory Smith, a spokeswoman for the Republican Party in Oregon, said the young man interviewed by KGW-TV was not in their rolls. "We do not condone this type of behavior," Smith told the Portland-based station.

In Nevada earlier Tuesday, KLAS-TV, a CBS affiliate, interviewed an employee of a private voter registration organization who said hundreds — perhaps thousands — of Democratic registration forms had been destroyed.

UPDATE 10/14/04:
A CBS update, via Bob Johnson at Dailykos:

Officials in Oregon have launched a criminal investigation after receiving numerous complaints that a Republican-affiliated group was destroying registration forms filed by Democratic voters statewide, Oregon Secretary of State Bill Bradbury told CBSNews.com.

Meanwhile, CBS affiliate KLAS-TV is reporting accusations of similar malfeasance in Nevada.

Both state's allegations are linked to a Phoenix political consulting firm called Sproul & Associates run by Nathan Sproul, former head of the Arizona Republican Party. Sproul & Associates has received nearly $500,000 from the Republican National Committee this election cycle, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

Calls from CBSNews.com to Sproul were not returned.

Late Thursday afternoon, two Democratic senators, Patrick Leahy of Vermont and Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts, sent a letter to Attorney General John Ashcroft asking the Justice Department to "launch an immediate investigation into the activities of Mr. Sproul and his firm."

According to KLAS-TV, a former employee claimed hundreds, if not thousands, of Democratic registration forms were destroyed by a Sproul & Associates group called Voters Outreach of America.

The former employee first told local Nevada reporters that he had personally witnessed his boss shredding eight to ten voter registration forms, according to Steve George, a spokesman for the Nevada Secretary of State.

KLAS-TV quotes the chair of the Nevada Republican Committee, Earlene Forsythe, as saying, "The Republican National Party would never intentionally hire any staff people to come into the state to intentionally do voter fraud."

While Nevada is considering an investigation, Oregon's is well underway. Bradbury expects to have more than 200,000 new registered voters in Oregon by Election Day, when all the forms are tallied and verified. He said that they are now paying particular attention to issues of improper registration.

"We’ve had three [voter registration] complaints filed and we forwarded them to the attorney general who’s doing the criminal investigation," Bradbury, a Democrat, said in an interview. "The complaints specifically name Sproul."

In Nevada and Oregon, Sproul allegedly canvassed voters for which candidate they intend to support. If voters were leaning Republican, the group is said to have assisted in their registration. If they leaned Democratic, the group allegedly ignored them or later destroyed the form.

It is illegal to destroy voting registration material.

"I’ve never seen this before. The allegations that are being made just totally offend me, not only because they are illegal," Bradbury said. "Regardless of whether it is a Democratic, Republican or Independent form, there is no better way to disenfranchise a voter than to say you are registered and then throw away a voter registration form."

Both Oregon and Nevada are considered battleground states in the presidential election. Though polls show Oregon likely to go to Democrat John Kerry, Nevada remains a dead heat between Kerry and President Bush.

Concerns over Sproul’s practices were initially raised in early September when a Medford, Oregon, county librarian, Meghan O’Flaherty, received a fax from Sproul requesting to hold a voter registration drive at the local library on behalf of a nonpartisan group called America Votes. As a precaution, O’Flaherty did her own research on Sproul.

"I was just being a good reference librarian and checking the facts. We want to be sure someone who claims to be nonpartisan is nonpartisan," O’Flaherty said. "I didn’t want anything going on here in the library that would call into question our neutrality."

The fax from Sproul was also received by three other Oregon libraries. CBSNews.com obtained a copy of the fax, as well.

In part, the fax reads: "Our firm has been contracted to help coordinate a national nonpartisan voter registration drive, America Votes!, in several states across the nation." The one-page fax also claims, "We will equally register all those who wish to register to vote."

However, Cecile Richards, the president of America Votes, said in a letter to Sproul that he "had never even heard of Sproul & Associates," and asked that "he refrain from using the name 'America Votes' in any of your activities from this point forward."

Part of the problem, said Bradbury, the Oregon secretary of state, is the "bounty system" where people are "paid by the signature for circulating petitions and that led to significant fraud."

"I have not seen a bounty system for voter registration before," Bradbury continued. "It’s not illegal but I’ve never seen that before."

In Nevada, the allegations of voter registration malfeasance have irked local election officials. The Nevada Secretary of State’s office has contacted the Department of Justice in Washington. An investigation is not yet underway.

"The allegations are that there was a group that was doing voter outreach in Las Vegas – Voters Outreach of America – allegedly made by one of its former workers that the group would destroy Democratic voter registration forms," said George, the spokesman for the Nevada Secretary of State’s office.

In Las Vegas, the Clark County registrar’s office has in the last month alone received more than 100,000 new registrations. Though it has only five electoral votes, the possibility that Nevada could go for either Bush or Kerry has brought the state to the forefront of the presidential race.

"If the allegations are true," George said "it could" involve hundreds if not thousands of voter registration forms. "We are looking at what state and federal laws may have been broken."

 

10/13/04 [Permalink]
Students apparently tricked into registering Republican at Portland State University by unknown group

Via conceptual continuity at Dailykos, we have the PSU Vanguard reporting this [bold text is eRiposte emphasis]:

Students passing through the Park Blocks yesterday afternoon were shocked to discover that a group of petitioners may have misled them into changing their party affiliation to Republican on their voter registration.

The petitioners, who refused to identify themselves and gave conflicting accounts of who they were working for, asked passers by to sign a petition "to lower auto insurance costs for young people." When students signed the petition, they were handed voter registration cards and told to fill out only the name and address section, in order to "verify" their signature on the petition.

According to one of the petitioners, the group's intent is to register everyone who filled out the voter registration card, with "Republican" selected under the party affiliation.

Many students who had signed the petition where surprised or outraged to learn that they may have inadvertently registered to vote as a Republican.
...
A petitioner who identified himself as "Ben Over" said that he was employed by a group called "Voters for All," but shouted "I hate Democrats, man," as the reporter walked away.

No information could be found on either West Coast Management or Voters for All in searches of the internet, telephone directories or business listings.

The petitioners also gave conflicting accounts of how they were being paid for their work.

 

10/12/04 [Permalink]
Partisan (GOP) political consulting firm headed by former Arizona state Republican Party executive director Nathan Sproul fraudulently poses as a representative of (non-partisan) America Votes in enrolling new registrants

Via Dailykos, here's the Oregon Mail Tribune:

A local librarian checking on a company’s request to set up a voter registration booth in the library discovered the company was not affiliated with a non-partisan national group as it claimed.

Sproul & Associates, Inc. of Phoenix, Ariz., phoned and mailed the library in September, saying it had been hired by America Votes.

That came as news to America Votes.

"This organization (Sproul) absolutely has nothing to do with America Votes," said Kevin Looper, the state organizing director for America Votes.

America Votes is a non-partisan political organization formed in July 2003 to increase voter registration, education and participation in electoral politics.

Libraries in Oregon and other states have been contacted by Sproul. Looper said attorneys at America Votes’ Washington, D.C. headquarters have taken over.

"We are in the process of pursuing all of our legal options to pursue (an order to) cease and desist."

But the man behind the matter says it was an innocent mistake.

"We were not trying to copy their name," said Nathan Sproul, owner of the consulting and management company. "All we were trying to do is register people to vote."

In September, the Jackson County Library Services Central Library received a letter from Sproul & Associates, Inc. which began:

"Our firm has been contracted to help coordinate a national non-partisan voter registration drive, America Votes! in several states across the nation."

The letter went on to ask if the company could register people to vote in front of the library.

Meghan O’Flaherty, headquarters library manager, contacted Kevin Looper, who informed her America Votes did not hire the firm.

That’s when she learned that Sproul & Associates, Inc. is a political consulting firm headed up by former Arizona state Republican Party executive director Nathan Sproul.

"The only problem I have with it ... is that they’re misrepresenting themselves as someone they’re not," she said.

Libraries in Multnomah, Corvallis/Benton, West Slope and Washington counties also had been contacted, said O’Flaherty.

She said she learned on the Internet that Sproul & Associates is actually a partisan political consulting firm, so the library cannot support them.

UPDATE 10/13/04: Librarian's email is here and more about Sproul here and here (also via DailyKos).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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