Millions of Voters to be Disenfranchised on November 2nd
FairVote-The Center for Voting and Democracy Calls for Federal ĺ─˙Right to
TAKOMA PARK, MD- FairVote-The Center for Voting and Democracy predicts
that millions of eligible voters will be disenfranchised on November 2nd. With
all eyes focused on the razor-thin margins of this year's presidential election,
we believe that the probability is high that the results of the election may be
marred by scores of voting problems on the state level, once again raising the
possibility that the election will be decided by lawyers, rather than the
Our examination of reports from elections occurring after 2000 show that even
after the initial implementation of the Help American Vote Act, Florida-like
election problems will occur again:
1. Voting machines will malfunction
ĺ─ý preventing voting and leading to lost votes
voters will be using the same voting equipment this year that they used in 2000
ĺ─ý when more than a million votes were lost in the presidential race due
directly to problems with equipment and ballot design. New machines present
their own problems. During the Florida primary 245 electronically cast votes
were lost from voting machines in Hillsborough County, while in the California
primary potential voters were turned away when electronic machines stopped
working. State elections officials
have restricted public access to test results and certification reports,
creating a lack of transparency that undermines voter confidence.
First-time and long-time voters alike will be turned away at polling booths
because their names do not show up on the voter rolls.
and county election boards have only haphazardly instituted provisional ballots
and all too often provisional ballots cast, were never counted.
93% of all provisional ballots cast in Chicago precincts during the
Illinois primaries this March were never counted, while most voters left
the polls assuming they had cast valid ballots poll workers are still learning
about the law; many voters in Floridaĺ─˘s primary were not provided with
provisional ballots this year. At the same time, there are currently a handful of court
cases pending to decide whether provisional ballots must be counted for
President or statewide offices should a voter turn up at the wrong precinct.
The uncertainty and inconsistency in these voting procedures has the
potential to disenfranchise untold numbers of voters this Novemberĺ─ţand be
fought in court after the election.
Voters will face intimidation when trying to vote or simply find themselves not
intimidation and vote-tampering already have occurred when eligible voters have
attempted to register to vote. College
students are facing particularly difficult obstacles in registering to vote,
including misinformation indicating they would be subject to numerous taxes,
fines, and even criminal penalities for registering to vote in their college
town. Students in Arizona, Michigan, Texas, New York and Virginia have all
reported deliberate attempts by local elections or elected officials to
intimidate them into not registering. The misconduct extends beyond student
voters however, as one report alleged a private voter-registration organization
went so far as to rip up Democratic voter registration cards in Nevada.
ĺ─˙If American citizens are being intimidated when they attempt to
register vote, just imagine what is going to happen on the drive up to polls or
at the polling places themselves,ĺ─¨ says FairVote Executive Director, Robert
Richie. ĺ─˙For example, in South
Dakota primaries this summer, many Native American voters were prevented from
voting after they were challenged to provide photo Ids - which they were not
required to present under state or federal law.ĺ─¨
Call for a real solution before 2008
real problem is that Americans do not have a federally protected right to
vote,ĺ─¨ comments Richie.. Contrary
to popular belief there is no right to vote in the U.S. Constitution.
The Bush v. Gore decision states ĺ─˙The individual citizen has no
federal constitutional right to vote for electors for President of the United
Statesĺ─¨ thus states set electoral policies and procedures. FairVote believes
that decentralized protection of the right to vote exposes Americans to
widespread voter disenfranchisement.
joins a growing number of scholars, civic rights and elected officials in
supporting the addition of a right to vote amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-IL) has been joined by nearly a tenth of
the U.S. House in support of such an amendment, H.J. Res. 28. ). HR Res. 28
would make voting a right of citizenship that all voting-age Americans are
entitled and would require Congress to set national voting standards for states
to follow to ensure that every American has an equal opportunity to vote and
have their vote counted.. .
According to Rep. Jackson Jr. ĺ─˙Voting is not only democratic right, it is a
human right. That human right is
not in our Constitutionĺ─¨.