Millions More Votes For Democracy Next Time

Millions of people who wanted to vote either couldn’t vote, were kept from voting, were tricked out of voting, were tricked into voting the wrong way or voted but their votes were just not counted. There was voter suppression, voter roll purging, voter caging, intimidation, deception, misinformation and other efforts to keep citizens from voting for who they wanted to represent them in our government. On top of these efforts to there were also systemic problems that kept people from voting or kept their votes from counting.
I learned about these horrors while working on the Election Protection Wiki project, a non-partisan collaboration of citizens, journalists and researchers on the larger SourceWatch wiki. The EP WIki is a one-stop-shop for exposing voter suppression, voting machine problems, common election-worker screwups and other threats to election integrity.
Now that the voting is (mostly) done, we’re working to document the problems with the election in order to stop this from happening next time. Here’s what we’ve documented thus far, but if you see anything we’ve missed, please come over and add it in. I’m happy to help:
Suppression — In several states there was systematic purging of voters from the registration rolls. Any excuse was used to remove voters, including something as simple as a misspelled street name or even the use of ‘Bob’ for ‘Robert’. A Brennan Center for Justice study of voter purging estimated the number of voters purged before the 2008 election to be in the “millions.”
Lines and delays — One way to keep people from voting is to create conditions that cause long lines to form. Extremely long lines with waiting times of several hours for early voting and on election day were reported in different areas. Eventually people give up and go to work or home. Placing too few voting machines in precincts that tend to vote a certain way is one example of this tactic. In some areas lines were so long that people waited four, five, six and in some cases as many as eight hours to vote. We have no way of knowing how many people were kept from voting by these lines.
Some of the lines were a byproduct of the voter-roll purges. People arrive at polling places where they have voted in election after election, only to be told they are not registered. So they complain and demand provisional ballots, which can take a long time to complete. Lines grow ever longer as each of these voters is accommodated.
Intimidation — Flyers warning that people with parking tickets will be arrested appeared in different areas. Students were warned that they could be arrested for voting where they go to school. Police were stationed at precincts with lots of Latino voters. Partisans were challenging voters in some areas.
Systemic problems – voting machines malfunction, scanners get clogged with ink, absentee ballots are not mailed, and other systemic problems kept an unknown number of people from voting or their votes from counting.
Just not counting votes — collecting provisional ballots and then not counting them.
Tricks — One big emerging story involved text messages sent to Democrats in several states, advising them they should avoid the lines and vote Wednesday. This happened in Missouri, Florida, Minnesota, Montana, Idaho, Pennsylvania, New Mexico, Virginia and several other states. Similarly voters in several states reported receiving robo-calls with a similar message. This was clearly an organized effort to keep people from voting.
In Florida Democratic voters were called and told they could avoid lines by voting by phone, given a number to call, and after “voting” were told they didn’t have to go to the polls. This was also clearly an organized operation.
And these were only the scams that we heard about.
Beyond deliberate suppression and deception there were many other problems. How many people were denied or tricked out of their right to vote? How many never received absentee ballots? How many showed up only to be told they are not registered? How many voted using provisional ballots, without knowing if they will ever be counted? How many believed that they could avoid lines by waiting a day? There is really no way to know. But we can work to make sure these things pen again.
At least there is a place where the media, policymakers and citizens can find a collection of election problem reports and policy suggestions to help guide the reform process: the Election Protection Wiki.
Help us document the problems that occurred on Election Day. Help us collect proposals for election reform. You can get directly involved; we need your help!
If we fix these problems and stop these suppression efforts we will bring millions of new voters into our democracy. If we do not we will see all the long lines, registration problems, machine malfunctions and untrustworthiness, voter suppression schemes and tricks that we see during every election all over again, losing millions of votes.
Democracy is about all of the people having an equal voice in deciding how our country will be managed. So all of us owe it to the rest of us to help perfect this. After each election we should look at the problems that occurred and take steps to prevent them from happening again.

Election Protection Wiki News Roundup

Volunteers at the Center for Media and Democracy’s Election Protection Wiki continue to collect reports of ongoing voter suppression.
Among the reports on the Election Protection Wiki from the last few days:
Michigan: GOP admits foreclosure voter suppression scheme.
California voters say they were duped into registering as Republicans
West Virginia: voters say electronic voting machines changed their votes from Democrats to Republicans.
US Supreme Court sides with Ohio election officials against striking 200,000 from the voting roles.
And the Obama campaign has asked the Justice Department to expand the special prosecutor’s DOJ politicization probe to see if the ACORN accusations are related
The volunteers are collecting information on polling place shortages, voting machine malfunctions, ballot misprints, voter roll purges, voter intimidation and other election threats. At the same time they are contributing to issue articles on exit polls, student disenfranchisement, the ACORN controversy and other important topics. All of this is being collected into a central location for use by media, activists, advocates and policy-makers on and after election day.
We need every hand we can get to help us get this information ready in time. Come to the Election Protection Wiki and help keep this election honest.

Obama Campaign Asks Special Prosecutor To Look Into DOJ/McCain Campaign Collusion On ACORN Charges

The Obama campaign today sent a letter to Attorney General Mukasey asking that he expand the scope of the ongoing investigation into Justice Department politicization to “include a review of any involvement by the Justice Department and White House officials in supporting the McCain-Palin campaign and the Republican National Committee (RNC)’s systematic development and dissemination of unsupported, spurious allegations of vote fraud.”

Briefly, the DOJ politicization scandal stems from Republican efforts to conduct partisan vote fraud investigations before the 2006 election. Prosecutors who refused were fired, prosecutors who played along were not fired (and are still there). After an outcry and the resignation of Attorney General Gonzales the new Attorney General, Michael Mukasey, appointed a special prosecutor to look into the politicization. The current vote fraud accusations and accompanying Justice Department, FBI and White House involvement follow the same pattern, and are based on no credible evidence, so the Obama campaign believes that it may be related to the ongoing partisan politicization of the government’s law enforcement.

More coming…

Update - Ari Melber at The Washington Independent has more,

Citing an “unholy alliance” between Republican operatives and potentially illegal conduct by law enforcement targeting voter fraud, the Obama campaign demanded Friday that the U.S. special prosecutor looking into the U.S. attorney scandal investigate the matter.
General counsel Bob Bauer sent a letter to Atty. Gen. Michael Mukasey charging that coordinated “misconduct” by McCain campaign representatives and GOP officials were relevant to the special prosecutor’s work, because the activities may relate to the dismissal of seven U.S. attorneys in late 2006.
The letter requests that the special prosecutor’s inquiry “include a review of any involvement by Justice Dept. and White House officials in supporting the McCain-Palin campaign [and RNC's] systematic development and dissemination of unsupported, spurious allegations of vote fraud.”

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Help With The Election Protection Wiki

I am working with the Election Protection Wiki project, and we need your help gathering and entering relevant information before election day.

The Election Protection Wiki will be an election-day clearinghouse for election information for all states but focusing on key swing states.  The EP Wiki organizes information about problems that have come up in the past, problems that are likely to come up, who to contact, national and state election protection organizations and other resources.  This will help people to overcome election-day problems.

The EP Wiki isn’t trying to duplicate any of the number of great election integrity sites out there – we are instead trying to fill a gaping hole in the greater election protection movement: to be a central hub with spokes out to all the sites and information that even dedicated researchers can easily overlook in the noise of the web.

We are trying to locate and link to every relevant organization and gather or link to all relevant information.  Because this is a project of SourceWatch the EP Wiki already has a very high Google ranking, with its information coming up at or near the top of searches.

It is not difficult to add information to a Wiki.  Every existing page has an Edit tab, and sections of the page have Edit links.  One you sign up for an account you can click to edit the page, add the information, and save it.  There are how-to guides and help/reference articles as well as editors like myself available to work with you.

The Election Protection Wiki project is working in conjunction with the Voter Suppression Wiki.  VSW is taking an activist bent to engage in election protection efforts. The information we collect at the Election Protection Wiki project about the threats to elections in each state helps highlight the greatest ones and provide the necessary background to take informed action.

Please visit and let others know about the Election Protection Wiki project, and help us get this project ready for election day.