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).

PENNSYLVANIA

11/20/04 [Permalink]
Some Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania precincts had as low as 12 provisional ballots, leading to many voters unable to vote

Via reader radtimes, this report from the Election Protection Coalition:

Many voters in Allegheny county, PA have called in with problems with provisional ballots not being available, provsiional ballots being denied to registered votesr, and uncooperative poll workers. At least a dozen Allegheny County precincts ran out of provisional ballots altogether. Due to these problems, one precinct in the county has annouced that it is holding polls open for an extra 1 1/2 hours so that people can cast provisional ballots.

A representative from the Coalition also said this in an interview:

CELESTE TAYLOR: 
...
What they were able to do is to help us train 320 poll monitors that were at 60 different polling locations. We chose those polling locations based on their vulnerability. We had poll monitors at the University of Pittsburgh as well as minority and low income polling sites.

AMY GOODMAN: And what did you find?

CELESTE TAYLOR: We found that the provisional ballot, which was supposed to be a way that all citizens who were registered properly would be able to cast their vote. What we found out is it actually helped citizens not vote. That was the case because there weren't enough of them, and the people that are to be trained inside, the people that are hired by the county election bureau were grossly just incompetent in terms of their information, and that's why we found it necessary to pass out thousands and thousands of voters' bill of rights, so that people could demand that they get this provisional ballot. So we have a stack of complaints. That’s what this is, many affidavits. Time after time, people would go to vote at their polling site and they would be told that they were not on the poll book. These are people that had their voter registration cards. Then they were denied a provisional ballot.

AMY GOODMAN: How were they denied?

CELESTE TAYLOR: They were told that we didn't -- we don't have them. Some polling locations didn't have them first thing in the morning, 8:00 a.m., when the polls opened -- 7:00 a.m., rather. And some polling locations ran out very quickly, because there were only 25 provisional ballots provided per site. And actually, that number decreased. The decision was made the day before to decrease it to 12. So, I have --

AMY GOODMAN: So there’s 12 provisional ballots at a site. So if you are the 13th person who is contested, you have no ballot that you can cast.

CELESTE TAYLOR: You are out of luck. For many locations where we were at, where we knew that this was a population that had registered to vote in record numbers, new first-time voters, we already knew that their names were not on the voter files, because we had looked at 10,000 applications and followed the process through the county election bureau.

 

11/15/04 [Permalink]
Voting machine malfunctions in several precincts in Pennsylvania forced voters to vote "backwards"

Via reader radtimes, a column in Roanoke.com:

The [Ohio] Vindicator also reported that Mercer County's (Pennsylvania) director of elections and director of technology said a computer software problem (not voters incorrectly touching the screen) caused touch-screen voting machines to malfunction in about a dozen precincts. They said repeated calls to the manufacturer failed to resolve the problem. On some machines, voters were required to vote backwards, starting on the last page of the touch-screen system and working back to the front page, in order for their votes to be counted.

 

11/2/04_3 [Permalink]
Doctored article circulated in a flyer in Pennsylvania falsely claims that students registering in PA will lose grant money from their home state

TAPPED has a report:

VOTER SUPPRESSION WATCH: ILLADELPHIA EDITION. Fearing the record number of UPenn Students who registered to vote in this election [read: likely Democrats], nefarious agents of voter supression have circulated a flyer around UPenn’s Philadelphia campus warning students that voting might jeapordize their financial aid.

Hat Tip to reader KB who alerted us to this Daily Pennyslvanian report:

A flyer with a doctored Chicago Sun-Times news story is circulating on campus telling students that if they vote in Pennsylvania they will lose any grant money from their home state.

The document cites an altered Associated Press story about a student from Pennsylvania, which was changed to say that the student registered to vote in the state. The story asserts that students from out of state lose grant money if they vote in Pennsylvania.

In fact, students who register and vote in Pennsylvania will not lose state grant money, regardless of where they are originally from.

The first paragraph of the actual AP story reads as follows: "Some college students from Pennsylvania who plan to vote Nov. 2 will do so at their own financial peril. That is because students who go to school out of state and register to vote on campus lose their eligibility for Pennsylvania state grant money."

The doctored flyer changes the first paragraph to read: "College students in Pennsylvania who plan to vote on Nov. 2 will do so at their own financial peril. That is because students who go to school out of state and register to vote on campus lose their eligibility for home state grant money." (emphasis added)

Classy, eh?

The actual Sun Times article is here.

 

11/2/04_2 [Permalink]
Republicans push BOGUS claim over "pre-existing" votes in polling machines in Pennsylvania, via Matt Drudge (who runs the well known gossip- and lie-factory "Drudge Report")

Campaign Extra (via Atrios) has this update:

From the Daily News reporter Theresa Conroy:

Dep. City Commissioner Ed Schlugen stood up just now and announced that there were NOT votes on the machines. The poll workers were looking at a counter on the back which tallies the total number of votes cast -- ever -- on the machine. It's called a "protective counter." He said there were no votes on the machines when they opened.

Also, Josh Marshall is printing a statement from Marge Tartaglione:

"Recent press reports have stated that machines in at least one precinct were not properly calibrated to ensure an accurate accounting of the number of votes cast."

"These allegations are completely unsubstantiated and have no factual basis whatsoever."

The bottom line is this: The GOP is falling all over itself looking for something wrong in Philly, even if it's not there. If the past is any guide, Bush will carry the rest of the state by a small margin, and sink here in the city. So they're trying to cast doubt on the process -- from the very minute the polls opened.

UPDATE: Cathie Abookire, spokeswoman for DA Lynne Abraham, said poll workers misinterpreted numbers they found on voting machines before the polls opened. Abookire said the city's new electronic voting machines have two windows that display voting numbers - one that shows the total number of votes ever cast on the machine, the other that shows the number of votes cast today.

Some poll workers saw the number of prior votes from past elections on the machines and thought that meant votes had been planted.

"They misread the machines," Abookire said. "There were no planted votes

Josh Marshall has a snippet from the AP wire story:

Just off the AP wire, the real story on Drudge's bogus Philly voter fraud story ...

An army of zealous, partisan political operatives descended on polling locations around the state Tuesday, looking for any signs of voting irregularities, and election officials planned to spend the day investigating fraud allegations.

Republican observers in Philadelphia lodged some of the earliest complaints, claiming that voting machines in the city already had thousands of votes recorded on them when the polls opened at 7 a.m.

City election officials and the district attorney rushed to some of the precincts in question, and quickly said the GOP poll watchers had gotten it wrong.

Deputy City Commissioner Ed Schulgen and Cathie Abookire, a spokeswoman for District Attorney Lynne Abraham, said the observers had pulled the numbers from an odometer that records every vote ever cast on the machine in every election - and not the counter that records how many votes will be counted for this election.

"It's absolutely ridiculous," Schulgen said.

Ridiculous or not, rumors of widespread fraud quickly made their way on to the Internet and circulated nationally.

Of course, it didn't 'make its way' onto the Internet. It was planted there as part of the Republicans' battle plan today. And how surprising that these good souls just happened to misread the machines in the heavily African-American neighborhoods in Philly. Imagine that.

Democracy starts at home.

 

11/2/04_1 [Permalink]
GOP vote suppression efforts spread to Pennsylvania with massive, last minute vote challenges using the same failed, error-prone strategy used in Ohio and elsewhere. GOP refuses to release detailed list to the Press and attempts to directly and wrongly influence poll workers going around Election Board. They also claimed that some Republican voters got fraudulent calls.

Via Hungry Blues, here is a report in the Philadelphia Inquirer (bold text is my emphasis):

Just hours before the polls were to open, officials and lawyers from both major parties clashed again and again yesterday over who would be allowed to vote in Pennsylvania and who would be allowed to challenge those votes.

Philadelphia's top election administrator, Bob Lee, a Democrat, accused state Republicans of sending a letter to poll workers that he contended was meant to "suppress the vote in Philadelphia." Lee said he would take them to court.

Republican officials vowed to question the eligibility of thousands of Philadelphians whose addresses the party said are suspect, based on returned mail. The GOP also said some of its voters in Western Pennsylvania were receiving phone calls meant to scare them out of voting.

And Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry's campaign said last night that a Delaware County judge had restored to the voting rolls about 600 names of voters whose registrations had been rejected by the county for failure to designate a party affiliation on their registration forms.

Earlier in the day, Gov. Rendell's administration had warned the county's officials that those rejections could result in a loss of election funding.

On the Democratic side, accusers ranged from the famous - the Rev. Jesse Jackson, who told a Philadelphia audience that President Bush's administration was "focused on voter intimidation" - to the relatively obscure: Lee, Philadelphia's voter-registration administrator, who cried foul last night over a letter sent from the state GOP to judges of elections, the men and women who run the city's 1,681 polling places.

Lee said the letter had wrongly instructed those poll workers to check and compare voters' various signatures "at will." He pointed to state law, which limits such checks to prevent long voting delays.

Lee also said it was the first time in his 22 years of running city elections that one of the parties had tried to send instructions to workers who get their marching orders from the city Board of Elections.

A spokesman for Republicans, asked to react to Lee's comments, accused him of "obstruction" for not giving the party the list of absentee voters.

"After all of Mr. Lee's obstruction during this election process, his complaining about a line in a Republican letter is like Ashlee Simpson complaining about people lip-synching," said Mark Pfeifle, spokesman for the state Republican Party.

State Republicans released additional details yesterday from their list of 10,000 letters to Philadelphia voters that they said were returned as undeliverable. They said they would use this list to challenge voters at the polls today - a type of challenge similar to one that federal judges have barred Republicans from using today in Ohio.

The GOP said its list of questionable Philadelphia voters included 310 letters that were returned because the house was vacant or abandoned; five because the person was in jail; 3,329 stamped "attempted not known"; 1,172 as "not deliverable to address"; 130 as "moved"; 35 with forwarding addresses; and 15 whose recipients were dead.

The Republicans have declined to release information on all 10,000 letters or allow access to them despite repeated requests from The Inquirer.

The Pennsylvania Department of State warned Delaware County officials yesterday that they would risk losing federal funding by turning away about 600 voters who had not marked their party affiliation on voter-registration forms.

Officials in the Republican-controlled county were warned that they would be breaking state and federal election laws by doing so. But last night, a Kerry campaign spokesman said a third party had taken this issue before a county judge and gotten it "resolved," with names restored to the voting rolls. Details were unavailable.

Carl Buchholtz, general counsel for the Bush-Cheney campaign in Pennsylvania, and Christian Marrone, counsel for the state Republican committee, had a conference call yesterday to go over what they called new instances of voter fraud and intimidation by Democrats.

Marrone said there were multiple reports yesterday that elderly voters in Lancaster and York Counties in Central Pennsylvania - an area the Bush campaign has been heavily courting - got phone calls telling them they would not be allowed to vote and urging them not to show up at the polls.

"This election should be fair and honest and that every person that is registered should be allowed to vote," said Buchholtz, who participated in the 2000 Florida election recount.

Also yesterday, a federal judge refused an emergency request from U.S. Rep. Curt Weldon and state Rep. Stephen Barrar, both Delaware County Republicans, to impound any absentee ballots received from prison inmates, and scheduled a hearing for next week.

Meanwhile, Philadelphia's top prosecutor warned yesterday that anyone engaging in Election Day intimidation faced prosecution. But District Attorney Lynne M. Abraham, a Democrat, also said that the best way for people to ensure a trouble-free Election Day was to wait patiently in line and ignore polling-place directions from anyone other than official election observers.

"Nobody wants an election to be stolen from them by sharp dealing and mean dirty tricks," said Abraham, who was joined at a news conference by Frederick L. Voigt, executive director of the Committee of Seventy, a watchdog group.

Abraham predicted long lines and said that most voters were expecting trouble. But, she said, reports of efforts to turn voters away from the polls or to lodge challenges for the sole purpose of holding up lines and discouraging voters would be treated as potential crimes.

"If any such intimidation, threat or other misconduct is made known to us, we will be on the case," she said.

Also yesterday, Jackson held a news conference outside White Rock Baptist Church in West Philadelphia to denounce what he described as Republican efforts to disenfranchise African American voters.

Asked why he was in Philadelphia on the day before the election, Jackson - noting that Pennsylvania is a critical state for both parties - said: "It's the right place to be."

Abraham's office will have about 70 lawyers and 60 detectives on the job today to investigate claims of improper activities, said Assistant District Attorney Peter Berson, who is leading the effort. The Committee of Seventy will have 400 volunteer lawyers on duty, Voigt said.

Officials say they expect that new rules will add to confusion at the polls.

Under new election laws, voters casting ballots for the first time at a polling place must show approved identification, which includes a driver's license or other Pennsylvania government-issued card, a voter-registration card, a passport, an employee-identification card, a bank statement, a utility bill, or a paycheck that includes the voter's name and address.

For voters not listed as new in a division, the law allows challenges against a person's right to vote if someone suspects that the voter is not properly on the rolls. In that case, the voter may be required to fill out an affidavit and find another resident of the district to fill out a second affidavit attesting to his or her identity.

Typically, each campaign has one observer per polling place to launch challenges and watch polls. But, Voigt said, anyone who engages in "serial challenges," aimed at causing delays, can be removed from the polls.

Pennsylvania's Department of State released yesterday a set of guidelines for local election officials that reminded them not to let observers challenge voters "frivolously or without a good faith basis."

Although Abraham and Voigt called the news conference in an effort to calm voters' fears and dispel confusion, the event wound up sowing at least a bit of the latter. A handout of frequently asked questions - dating from past elections - said that voters who were not listed in the poll register could not vote unless a judge in Election Court gives permission.

"That's wrong," said Lee, Philadelphia's voter-registration administrator. The new procedure, he said, calls for those voters to get a provisional ballot. Later, election administrators will decide whether the person is properly registered and whether the vote should count.

The provisional ballots, along with absentee ballots, could delay the results if the election is close. As of last Friday, 11,855 absentee ballots had been returned.

Berson acknowledged later that the information on unlisted voters was outdated. "We probably should have taken it out," he said.

 

10/28/04 [Permalink] UPDATED 11/2/04
Dirty Tricks in Pennsylvania: fake leaflets mimicking County stationery asks Republicans to vote on 11/2 and Democrats to vote on 11/3. Leaflets provoking numerous calls to county offices and criminal investigation initiated. Additionally, calls claiming to be from Bill Clinton and ACT ask some voters to vote on 11/3.

Via Jamisen at Dailykos, here's a report from the conservative Pittsburgh Tribune-Review:

Somebody is campaigning hard to confuse Allegheny County voters ahead of Election Day.

At the Ross Park Mall, for example, people are distributing leaflets printed on bogus, but official-looking, county stationery telling Republicans to vote Tuesday, Nov. 2, and Democrats to wait a day.

The election will be over on Nov. 3.

The fliers have succeeded in spreading confusion, and county officials spent parts of Wednesday fielding phone calls from residents.

We don't know who is behind it," said Elections Division Manager Mark Wolosik, who received a copy yesterday afternoon.

Wolosik's office referred the case to the county police, who have launched an investigation to determine who is behind the disinformation campaign. Officials say the fliers also turned up in mailboxes of homes in the North Hills.

The letter reads in part: "Due to the immense voter turnout that is expected on Tuesday November 2 the state of Pennsylvania has requested and extended the voting period ... Voters will be able to vote on both November 2 and November 3."

The letter is signed by "Anne Ryan," and a phone number on the flier rings in Tampa, Fla. Workers there reached by telephone denied any knowledge of the flier.

County officials say the flier is part of the political shenanigans that accompany a hotly contested presidential race.

Still, Wolosik said, "The matter is now a criminal investigation."

County investigators also have launched an investigation into a scam in which University of Pittsburgh and Community College of Allegheny County students believed they were signing petitions to legalize marijuana for medical use, only to find themselves registered as Republicans.

"I can't believe it happened to me," said CCAC student Denise Jones, a North Side Democrat who signed what she believed to be a legitimate petition and received a note from the Republican Party thanking her for switching her registration.

Election Protection has an update:

Our hotline has received a report from individuals who claim to have received recorded telephone message coming from Bill Clinton and ACT and reminding them to vote on Nov. 3rd.

(November 2, 2004 12:13 PM )

 

10/26/04 [Permalink]
Most powerful Republican in Philadelphia, in a moment of candor, expresses an intent to suppress the Democratic vote

Via What Really Happened, here's another story from Campaign Extra:

The most powerful Republican in Philadelphia (how's that for an oxymoron) is now caught up in the GOP Block the Vote scandal here, all because of a comment he made to U.S. News & World Report.

The official in question is Pennsylvania House Speaker John Perzel, who represents a rowhouse neighborhood in Northeast Philly and is considered the most powerful GOP figure in Harrisburg. He's also very active in local politics. Here's what he told the magazine:

"The Kerry campaign needs to come out with humongous numbers here in Philadelphia. It's important for me to keep that number down."

Perzel's remark comes just a week after Republicans launched an unsuccessful effort to move -- at the last possible minute -- 63 polling places in Philadelphia, 53 of them in overwhelmingly black neighborhoods.

Campaign Extra! reached Perzel on his cell phone last night, and while he refused to respond directly to Democratic allegations that he wanted to suppress urban votes, he insisted he was only talking about boosting the GOP tally from 2000, when Bush received just 100,000 votes here. “Our goal is to get more Republians out this time than last time.”

OK. But as the article also notes: “Perzel is challenging many of the more than 100,000 registered Democrats in Philadelphia. His campaign office sifts through city databases for double registrations, people with the same names and same birthdates--but maybe different addresses--who are registered twice. He's finding plenty and filing challenges to them all. "

Democrats say urban vote suppression is exactly what Perzel is talking about. "Surely Perzel cannot be proud to belong to a party whose success depends on people not voting," said Rebecca Kirszner of the Democratic get-out-the-vote drive, America Coming Together.

 

10/21/04 [Permalink] UPDATED 10/25/04
Another case of students being fraudulently registered as Republican - this time in Pennsylvania

Via Dailykos, we have this report in the Times Herald:

Students, who last month signed a petition that was being circulated on the Blue Bell campus to legalize marijuana for primarily medicinal purposes, now are finding out that they are registered Republicans.
"This is just very disheartening," said Plymouth resident Jennifer Fugo, a 24-year-old continuing education student who describes herself as a "victim of voter registration manipulation."
"Everyone is encouraging young people to register and vote and then they experience something like this," Fugo said Monday. "This is just outrageous."
Fugo, who had been living in New York, this summer returned to the area and, in August, had her voter registration transferred to Plymouth. Her new registration card at that time correctly listed her party affiliation as a Democrat.
Imagine her surprise last week, said Fugo, when she received a new registration card from the county that listed her as a registered Republican.
"It is disgraceful and detestable, not to mention illegal, to alter anyone's voter registration without that person's consent," Fugo said. "The thought that there is a special interest group in my area that is knowingly defrauding citizens voting records is outrageous, no matter what party or interest group is perpetrating this act."
When she contacted the county's voter registration office, she was advised that she was not the only MCCC student who was a victim of registration fraud.
County voter services Director Joseph R. Passarella said that his office has received "less than a handful" of complaints from MCCC students complaining that they have been registered as Republicans and all were tied into the same petition drive.
His office has not been able to pin down the group that submitted these registrations.
Passarella speculated that there are various organizations this year who are paying people to register new voters in specific parties and that this was the work of someone trying to cash in on the registrations.
The good news is that it does not make any difference in what party a person is registered in the upcoming election because a registered voter can vote for any candidate on the ticket regardless of party, Passarella said.
However, if a person wants to vote in next spring's Democratic or Republican primary elections and is not registered in the party of his or her choice, he or she can change the registration after the Nov. 2 general election, he said.
"I think these kids learned the hard way to make sure they read things before signing them and not sign anything that is questionable," Passarella said.
Fugo said she had questioned the signing of the registration form, telling the petition circulator that she already was registered to vote. He told her they were just using the form for information purposes and that she could not sign the petition unless she also signed the form.

More from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette via reader radtimes:

Scores of college students in Pennsylvania and Oregon have had their voting registrations switched by teams of canvassers circulating bogus petitions and, in some cases, partially concealed voter registration forms students were requested to sign.

The canvassers have visited campuses asking students to sign petitions advocating lower auto insurance rates, medical marijuana or stricter rape laws, according to elections officials.

After signing their names, the students were pressured into registering with the Republican Party by being told that their signatures otherwise would be invalid, or they were asked to fill out the signature and address portions of blank voter registration forms as proof of citizenship. In multiple instances, students already registered to vote have had their registrations changed without their consent, elections officials said yesterday.

Petition canvassers in Pennsylvania apparently did not identify themselves, although one told a University of Pittsburgh student that he was being paid by the Republican Party.

...

Students at Indiana University of Pennsylvania and a branch campus of Montgomery County Community College told officials they were tricked into filling out blank voter registration forms, listing their names and addresses when they signed a petition advocating the legalization of marijuana for medicinal purposes.

"I'm pretty sure that they weren't students," said Erik Strobl, an IUP student who said he signed the petition. Strobl said the canvasser then asked him to put his signature and address on a voter registration card. Although Strobl had already registered to vote as a Democat, he did so when he was told his signature was needed to verify his status as a voter.

Several days later, Strobl received a mailed notification that his party registration had been switched to Republican.

IUP appeared to have been hardest hit by the scam. County voter registration director Donna Hoover said as many as 400 registration suspect forms have arrived in her office. Most of them, she said, changed the registered party of students who had signed up to vote just days earlier during a registration drive by two other groups, America Coming Together and VIP.

"Most of the students had registered Democrat the day before," Hoover said. "I've talked to the sheriff."

Markings on many of the forms appeared to be in the same handwriting, she said.

"I kind of thought there was something odd. I don't even know which party would have done it," Hoover said. "These people circled the different spots [on the form] for the people to fill in."

In Allegheny County, elections director Mark Wolosik referred another case, involving a Squirrel Hill college student, to county detectives. Ruairi McDonnell said his registration was switched from Independent to Republican by someone who circulated a petition to lower auto insurance rates for young drivers on the campus of the University of Pittsburgh last month.

McDonnell said the man instructed him to fill out portions of a voter registration form, although McDonnell told the man he already had registered to vote.

"He then told me I would have to register as a Republican because 'that's how we get our funding.' I said I would not. He kept the form which contained only my name and address and certainly did not indicate I was a Republican," McDonnell said in a letter to the Allegheny County Department of Elections.

Several days later, McDonnell received notice from the elections department that he had changed his registration from Independent to Republican.

In Montgomery, an identical scam took place in September, when students at the Blue Bell campus of Montgomery County Community College were handed the marijuana petition.

"They're just trying to get numbers," said Joseph Passarella, director of elections for Montgomery, who said he has so far received a handful of complaints from students who said their party affiliation had been changed without their consent.

Susan Adams, a spokeswoman for the college, said the petition canvassers did not have permission from the school to work on the campus.

 

10/18/04 [Permalink] UPDATED 10/28/04
High-ranking Pennsylvania GOP and Bush operatives attempt to move 63 polling places (majority in minority districts) at the last minute, in an attempt to suppress minority voting; Lackawanna county Republicans move 15 polling places in Democrat-heavy precincts

Via Atrios, Campaign Extra has this report:

GOP in Philly: Block the Vote

"It's predominantly, 100 percent black. I'm just not going in there to get a knife in my back."

-- Matt Robb, Republican ward leader in South Philadelphia, on his last-minute request to move five Philly polling places in African-American neighborhoods.

Pennsylvania and its 21 electoral votes are the second-biggest "battleground" prize after Florida. John Kerry can't win here without a huge turnout in Philadelphia, especially in black neighborhoods that vote 90 percent Democratic. As a result, it's the first place you'd expect a GOP voter suppression effort.

And now it's here.

Chris Brennan (with a big assist from Dave Davies) has the scoop in today's Philadelphia Daily News. They learned that high-ranking state GOP and Bush operatives asked local Republicans to try to move 63 polling places at the last minute. Some 53 of the 63 polling places are in districts less than 10 percent white.

The complaints against the polling places vary -- the bulk are for alleged handicapped accessibility problems, but 17 charge that the polling places are in homes or businesses where voters might feel intimidated.

Deborah Williams, a Republican candidate for Congress, who is black, said the Republican state committee asked to use her name on 28 of the complaints. Nevertheless, she defended the move, saying that "this is not about creating some stir in the election or denying anyone the right to vote."

Democrats feel otherwise. If the polling places were moved at the last minute, it could lead to massive confusion on Election Day -- and thwart some people in mostly black, heavily Democratic neighborhoods from voting.

Bob Lee, Philadelphia's voter registration administrator who's normally not given to partisan statements, said flatly: "They're trying to suppress the vote."

The move is almost certain to fail -- especially now that it's been exposed. Lee said it appears that the applications came into his office too late to allow for a hearing before Election Day.

In addition to Robb, the GOP ward leader who acknowledged that race played a role in the request, another Republican ward leader behind the effort was North Philadelphia's Listervelt Ritter, who is black. He said the move isn't aimed at suppression, but he adds:

"The black neighborhoods are the ones that do the funny stuff. What are you supposed to do?"

Stay tuned. There's still 15 days between now and the election.

UPDATE 10/19/04:

The Progress Report caught this part that I missed earlier. 

Challenged on the transparent attempt to make it more difficult for 37,000 – mostly minority – Philadelphians to vote, Republican Alderman Matt Robb pleaded discomfort with African-Americans. Robb said he allowed his name to be used on the request "because those polling places are in neighborhoods he doesn't wish to visit. "'It's predominantly, 100 percent black,' he said. 'I'm just not going in there to get a knife in my back.'"

UPDATE 10/28/04

Via MazeDancer at Dailykos, here's an article on this:

If you live in Lackawanna County you better check where you're voting next month. The county is moving nearly two dozen polling places to different locations. The fact that it's happening three weeks before the election has people crying foul.

"Protect the vote! don't let them move the polling places!" That was the message outside the county annex building in Scranton Thursday. Protestors were hoping to stop the move of nearly 30 polling places just weeks before voters head to the polls and just minutes before commissioners were scheduled to vote on the move.

"I feel that it might confuse the voters, disenfranchise some and might not allow full vote to be counted," said Paul Pierre of Clarks Summit.

Joe Vender of Dunmore was there because he has no idea where he is supposed to go November 2nd. "Some people I've been speaking with are as confused as I am. I'm trying to find out what's going on," said Vender. He made his way inside to get some answers.

What he found was a packed room and a lot of differing opinions, even from the commissioners themselves.

"Two weeks away from the presidential election and moving 30 polling places, the timing is wrong!" said Commissioner Randy Castellani.

"Let's get out of the garages and make them (polling places) accessible," said Commissioner Robert Cordaro.

The plan is to evaluate all polling places and consolidate locations in 2005. The move is for accessibility, convenience and efficiency. Petitions with thousands of signatures ask commissioners to wait until after this election.

In the end, they found some middle ground, voting to keep six polling locations the same and moving 21. It's a decision. Still many in the crowd call it "too many and too late".

 

10/16/04 [Permalink]
GOP operative Roger Stone (former aide to Richard Nixon, who led part of the GOP-organized lawlessness in Florida in 2000 for Bush-Cheney '00), discovered to be behind fraudulent "Kerry-Specter" yard signs in Pennsylvania 
- Yard signs were an attempt to deceive voters into thinking the Kerry campaign was aligned with GOP Senator Arlen Specter in the latter's campaign against Democratic challenger Joe Hoeffel

Via Atrios, we have this report (extract) in Campaign Extra!:

This is running in tomorrow's Philadelphia Daily News. It is a joint effort of Campaign Extra! and ace Daily News reporter Dave Davies (who's also the substitute host of NPR's "Fresh Air.") We wanted to get this online before the weekend officially starts:

Lurking behind those mysterious John Kerry-Arlen Specter yard signs in Northeast Philadelphia is yet another spectre: Notorious national GOP consultant Roger Stone.

A political operative with some ties to Stone told the Daily News last night that the consultant — who chaired Pennsylvania GOP senator Specter’s abortive 1996 presidential bid — had been actively recruiting people to join a group called the Philadelphia Education Project.

The group’s lawyer - who contacted the Daily News yesterday — is another political operative named Paul Rolf Jensen, who has worked with Stone on several campaigns. Jensen is also known for his efforts to file lawsuits against gay and gay-friendly Presbyterian ministers.

The treasurer and assistant treasurer of the committee — a so-called 527 advocacy group — both have connections to candidates also closely linked to the Florida-based Stone.

Efforts to contact Stone, whose phone numbers are not listed, were not successful last night. The 52-year-old GOP stalwart was in the headlines most recently to deny widespread rumors that he was behind the likely forged memos about President Bush’s National Guard service aired by CBS News.

Stone, who started in politics as a youthful aide to Richard Nixon, has also been tied to a 2000 melee in Miami that disrupted the Florida recount. (Web only: Stone also has a somewhat interesting personal history.)

The yard signs have been slammed by the campaign of Specter’s Democratic rival, Joe Hoeffel, as a trick aimed at the city’s overwhelmingly Democratic ticket. Kerry has campaigned with Hoeffel in his visits to Philadelphia.

Specter’s campaign again insisted last night it had no knowledge of either the Kerry-Specter yard signs or any campaign role for Stone. In 1995, Stone chaired a presidential bid by Specter, who dropped out before the 1996 primary season.

“Everything I know is from you guys [reporters],” said Specter campaign manager Christopher Nicholas.

 

10/13/04 [PermalinkUPDATED 10/18/04
GOP funded group (connected to Nathan Sproul) fraudulently poses as non-partisan to selectively register people as Republicans in PA (while push-polling sometimes). Members were told to not offer registration cards to Kerry supporters.

In an apparent repeat of what was seen in Oregon, a voter registration firm hired by a Republican firm/funded by the RNC misleads would-be registrants into thinking they are registering via a non-partisan firm. The name Nathan Sproul is involved in this as well. It appears this may be going on in multiple states.

Bob Johnson at Dailykos has this post:

Searching for information on the voter registration fraud stories breaking tonight in Nevada and Oregon, I kept coming across the same name: Nathan Sproul of Sproul & Associates in Phoenix, Arizona.

Nathan Sproul is the former head of the Arizona Republican Party and of the Arizona Christian Coalition (ah, the irony... a Christian).

Sproul is connected with the Republican National Committee-funded voter registration organization, Voter Outreach, Inc., a group that used paid registrars to register voters in a number of states including Nevada, Oregon, Arizona and perhaps more, including Pennsylvania, Virginia, Maine and Missouri.  (Others states pending, particularly swing states.)  Sproul's organization also recruited registrars by fraudulently telling recruits that they would be working for America Votes, a legitimate nonpartisan GOTV operation!
...
How about this newsgroup posting to a forum for librarians warning them of a possible fraud perpetrated by Sproul.  It includes a description of the scam in Pennsylvania, an article from a West Virginia newspaper reporting the same scam, and a comment from a librarian in Medford, Oregon outlining the same scam in her library... all fraudulently misrepresenting the organization doing the hiring as America Votes:

From: "McCullough, Holly" mcculloughh@CARNEGIELIBRARY.ORG
Date: Fri Sep 17, 2004  5:49:58  AM US/Eastern
Subject: Re: SCAM ALERT: Voter Registration

We had the same thing happen here in PA.  Sproul and Associates hires
Kelly temp services to do voter registration.  At one library site
where they were suppose to be only doing voter registration they were
also asking people how they were going to vote.  I did some research
and found out that they were doing the same thing in WV (see the
article below) and one temp worker claims that they were trained to
ask people how they were going to vote.  If the person said "Bush"
they were given a voter registration form.  If they said "Kerry" they
were just told thank you and no form was given.  When we found out we
asked them to leave immediately.  One explanation from Sproul and
Associates was that they were doing "market surveys" at some sites.  
Later they claimed that it was just a problem with a few temp workers.
Sproul and Associates is headed by Nathan Sproul the former head of
the GOP and Christian Coalition in Arizona.

They also always said they represented America Votes.  When I finally
asked them to give me the contact information for America Votes they
told me that "America Votes is a non-partisan voter registration drive
project of Sproul & Associates.  Everything originates from this
office.  There is a partisan organization with that same name."  
Clearly they know that when they say they represent America Votes they
are misleading people.

Holly

Here is the article from the WV paper for more info.

VOTER REGISTRATION DRIVE 'MISLEADING'

Publication: THE CHARLESTON GAZETTE
Published: 08/20/2004
Page: 1A
Headline: VOTER REGISTRATION DRIVE 'MISLEADING'
Byline: TOM SEARLS
tomsearls@wvgazette.com

For a mother of two teens trying to finish up college, $9 an hour as a
temporary customer service representative sounded good.

"I wanted to find something that would work around my schedule and be
flexible," said St. Albans resident Lisa Bragg.

After spending more than an hour with Charleston personnel agency
Kelly Services last week, Bragg was hired. "They wouldn't tell us at
first what this job was," the 37-year-old Bragg said Thursday.

Then she found out it was registering Republican voters at One Stop
convenience stores throughout the Charleston region.

But she won't be there today, the first day she was scheduled to be on
the job.

"I'm giving up a job that I need," she said. "It's the only decent job
I've found."

While the job was to last six weeks, the $9 an hour was far above the
minimum wage of $5.15 Bragg was offered for most other temporary
employment.

Bragg feels her employers were misleading the public, even if it's not
illegal. Employees were to approach One Stop customers and ask if they
favor George Bush or John Kerry for president. If Bush was their
answer, they were then to inquire if the person was registered to vote
and offer them a voter registration card.

If the person supported Democrat Kerry, they were only to say thank
you and give them a registration card only if asked.

If asked questions, employees were instructed, "Only state you are
there to conduct a simple field poll to see what neighborhood support
is ... a nonpartisan registration drive."

They were told to quietly listen to any person who becomes angry and
to remember, "The goal is to register Republicans and to remain
positive."

"Is this the way it has to be? People have to be sneaky to make $9 an
hour?" Bragg said.

Employees were also given the number of a Kelly Services employee to
contact if there are problems. Contacted Wednesday, two different
employees said they would have someone from Sproul & Associates, the
firm paying for the survey, answer any questions.

Later, a Kelly Services employee who would identify himself only as
"Rob" initially said a message had been left with Ben Decker at
Sproul's office. He said he had no contact number for Decker, then
agreed to release a Michigan number.

A message left with Decker was not returned.

"[Kelly Services] said the less you know about the company, the better
off you are, especially if the media would come asking questions,"
said Bragg, an admitted Democrat. "That made me more curious than ever
as to who's behind this and what's going on."

Sproul & Associates appears to be operated by Nathan Sproul, former
head of the Arizona Republican Party and a wealthy GOP activist who
has been involved in petition drives. An Internet search shows Sproul
has received some financing from national Republican groups, though it
was not clear who is paying for the West Virginia work.

Bragg, and another person working for the group, said they were told
the owners of the One Stop stores had agreed to allow them to conduct
the work on the stores' lots. Patrick C. Graney III and Michael R.
Graney are listed as the principal owners of 42 One Stop stores,
according to the state Alcohol Beverage Control Administration.
Messages left at One Stop's headquarters in Belle were not returned.

For Bragg it's an economic loss, but one she carries with pride. She
asked about registering voters with another organization - a group
that treats those of all political persuasions the same - and found it
pays only $5.50 an hour.

"I just don't want to be in my hometown and mislead people," she said.

To contact staff writer Tom Searls, use e-mail or call 348-5192.

Begin forwarded message:

From: "Meghan O'Flaherty" <OFlaheMC@jacksoncounty.org>
Date: September 16, 2004 3:29:16 PM PDT
To: <libs-or@webhost.osl.state.or.us>
Cc: Subject: [LIBS-OR] SCAM ALERT: Voter Registration

Recently the Jackson County Library has been contacted by persons
purporting to represent America Votes.  Our director was contacted by
a Harry Miller and asked to call an 800 number to give permission for
America Votes to conduct a non-partisan voter registration project in
our libraries.  I received a letter from Sproul and Associates,a
consulting firm in Arizona,also saying they represented America Votes,
with the same request.  I contacted the Kevin Looper, the Oregon State
Coordinator for America Votes, to verify the information and received
this reply from him:

"Here is what I know:  We do not have a Harry Miller in our employ.
This organization is absolutely not representing America Votes, and my
National leadership is initiating action to get them to cease and desist representations that infringe upon our rights and mislead voters.

Further, Sproul and Associates is a partisan political consulting firm
Based in Arizona that works for very conservative causes and has worked to oppose campaign finance reform.  Their use of our name to cover their political leanings makes me question the overall intregrity of the voter registation that they seek to conduct.   I will be forwarding this information to the Secretary of State's office for further investigation."

Meghan O'Flaherty
Headquarters Library Manager
Jackson County Library Services
205 South Central Ave.
Medford, OR  97501
(541) 774-6403
oflahemc@jacksoncounty.org

So here we have Sproul involved in three (swing) states, using a bogus GOTV name to disguise his organization's own name, and using fictitious names (Harry Miller) as "contacts" for those with questions.

But that's just the tip of the iceberg with Mr. Sproul and the RNC.  Keep in mind that in the recruitment ads for Voter Outreach, Inc, run on careerbuilder.com in targeted states (including Missouri and Arizona), the bottom of the ads included this statement:

Paid for by the Republican National Committee. www.gop.com. Not authorized by any candidate or candidate's committee.

UPDATE 10/18/04:
Via Hesiod, we have this article in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

An ostensibly nonpartisan voter registration drive in Western Pennsylvania has triggered accusations that workers were cheated out of wages and given instructions to avoid adding anyone to the voter rolls who might support the Democratic presidential nominee.

Sproul & Associates, a consulting firm based in Chandler, Ariz., hired to conduct the drive by the Republican National Committee, employed several hundred canvassers throughout the state to register new voters. Some workers yesterday said they were told to avoid registering Democrats or anyone who indicated support for Democratic nominee John F. Kerry.

"We were told that if they wanted to register Democrat, there was no way we were to register them to vote," said Michele Tharp, of Meadville, who said she was sent out to canvass door-to-door and outside businesses in Meadville, Crawford County. "We were only to register Republicans."

Tharp said volunteers were sent door-to-door to seek registrants but were instructed to first ask prospective new voters which candidate they planned to support.

"If they said Kerry, we were just supposed to say thank you and walk away," Tharp said.

Brenda Snyder, a volunteer with the Republican Victory Center in Erie said workers "absolutely never" were told not to register Democrats. She said some workers were not paid "because of discrepancies in their paychecks" and said the party was attempting to correct the problem. Tharp, for instance, said she was paid only $14 for 15 hours of work after being hired at a rate of $11 per hour.

Heather Layman, a spokesperson for the Republican National Committee, confirmed Sproul's role in the effort and said that complaints by 45 to 50 workers who had not been paid had been straightened out. Layman denied that the canvassers avoided registering Democrats and suggested that Democrats were orchestrating the charges.

"I do smell politics here if that's what they're saying," Layman said.

Much of the controversy yesterday centered on the registration drive in Crawford County, where canvassers claimed to be owed thousands of dollars after hunting out Bush supporters.

"If they were a Kerry voter, we were just supposed to walk away," said Michael Twilla, of Meadville, who said he has been paid for only eight of 72 hours he worked.

Twilla provided the Post-Gazette with a copy of the script he said he had been given.

It instructs the canvassers to hand unregistered Bush supporters a clipboard with a registration form, and to advise them the canvassers will personally deliver the forms to the local courthouse.

A lower portion of the form also advises the canvassers to ask undecided voters two questions: "Do you consider yourself pro-choice or pro life?" and "Are you worried about the Democrats raising taxes?" If voters say they are pro-life, the form says, "Ask if they are registered to vote. If they are pro-choice, say thank you and walk away."

The form also tells canvassers, "If anyone asks who you are working for, it's 'Project America Vote.' "

America Votes, whose name is similar, is a self-described nonpartisan voter registration organization sponsored by generally liberal-leaning groups.

Several canvassers said they had been instructed to skip the lower portion of the form and others said they were told to say they were working for a local employment agency.

Twilla said the canvassers were told to say they worked for Career Concepts, a local employment agency. Career Concepts was contracted by a Florida firm, Apple One, to assist them in locating temporary employees. A spokeswomen for Career Concepts last night said her firm did not employ the canvassers.

Sproul's role in voter registration drives this month triggered official investigations in several other states, with canvassers alleging they had been told to discard Democratic registration forms, leaving voters who thought they had registered off the rolls.

The firm has a contract with the Republican National Committee to register new voters and has operated using the name Voters Outreach of America. Sproul's chairman, Nathan Sproul, is a former executive director of the Arizona Republican Party.

The firm attracted attention in Pittsburgh last month when Sproul employees called a Carnegie Library official to request space outside the buildings to register voters.

Holly McCullough, special assistant to the library director, said a woman from the firm said they were working for America Votes, the nonpartisan but liberal leaning organization.

McCullough said she agreed to allow the group to set up at the libraries.

"I said there has to be no issue advocacy. It has to do nonpartisan voter registration and they said that was right," McCullough said. Instead, several days later, McCullough received a call from Ryan Hughes, director of the Woods Run library branch, saying patrons had complained about the behavior of the canvassers.

Hughes said a patron came in the library Sept. 7 "and said 'There's this person out there asking me who I was voting for.' "But McCullough said she also became concerned because she discovered that Sproul was not working for America Votes, and that the registration drive was being organized by the Republican Party.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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