the Vote on VoteWatch
By Kristen Philipkoski
November 5, 2002
Voters on Tuesday don't have to wait for the
pesky media to digest stories of suspicious goings-on at the polls.
A new website called VoteWatch will share voters' concerns in real
time (or at least as soon as they can get home and log on).
Frustrated by the media's focus on dangling chads in 2000 while
50,000 voters in Florida were erroneously listed as felons and
prevented from voting, Steven Hertzberg has launched VoteWatch as a
"repository of voter complaints."
"VoteWatch.US is a new website
allowing voters to register concerns about their vote immediately --
an important development, because by the time anybody catches most
election errors, it's too late to remedy," said a press release from
Hertzberg, who did not respond to interview requests.
provides a forum organized by state and topics of discussion. It's
designed to allow voters to report issues regarding access to polls,
intimidation, questionable vote counting and discrepancies in
With so many close races in Tuesday's elections, and
with the margin of Senate party control so slim, VoteWatch could act
as a watchdog. With Voter.com and Citizens for True Democracy
websites now defunct, it certainly fills a void.
field director for the Center for Voting and Democracy, thinks
grassroots efforts like VoteWatch are important at a time when
citizens are skeptical of the election process.
The media don't
always do the best job of uncovering voting problems and sometimes
takes too long, he said. By the time issues bubble to the surface,
especially when votes are being counted, it may be too late to take
"The media is not necessarily a great place to start as a
filter, because they're looking for a story and looking for
something sexy in many cases," Robinson said.
says the people behind the project are politically independent,
sites that rely on input directly from the public can present
objectivity problems, according to Poynter Institute faculty member
The "media filter" is often key in revealing hidden
biases, he said.
"Depending on the experience of the people
involved in these sites, their own perspective, where their funding
comes from, who they support, who they are trying to advocate for --
you have to have all that kind of information at hand in order for
you to understand the agenda a particular site might have," Colˆ„n
Robinson agrees it's essential for sites like VoteWatch to
remain nonpolitical for the public to consider them a credible
"The idea of giving people an opportunity to express
concerns and complaints about what's happening at the polls is part
of our democracy," Robinson said. "Giving people the opportunity to
oversee what happens in their community is part of the process --
especially if it's done in a nonpartisan, nonpolitical way."