ELECTION WATCH

11/05

The New York City Board of Elections was unprepared on Election Day, presaging mass confusion with the electronic voting machines scheduled to be used in 2006. (NY Times)

Republican Party officials in Westchester County accused the Democratic Party yesterday of busing New York City residents to the polls in Westchester County on Election Day and encouraging them to vote fraudulently in a tight State Senate race. (NY Times)

11/04

Poll workers mistreated immigrants and wrongfully demanded identification from many voters, watchdog groups said Wednesday, while Mayor Michael Bloomberg and other officials called for changes. (Newsday)

The Board of Elections acknowledged Wednesday that the same sorts of problems could arise during what is expected to be a tightly contested mayor's race next year. (Newsday)

African Americans faced the expected right-to-vote hurdles during the 2004 presidential election. Reports from across the country found that those attempting to cast votes at Black and Latino area polling sites on Election Day, Nov. 2, faced misleading phone calls, threats that they could face arrest while trying to cast a ballot, proof of identity demands, and attempts to have their votes disqualified. (Amsterdam News)

11/03

The huge turnout in the city yesterday left voters complaining of long lines, confusion and broken machines at some polling places. Many New Yorkers, including Mayor Michael Bloomberg, expressed frustration that election officials did not seem to have addressed longstanding complaints about the outdated voting system. (New York Times)

Although the Board of Elections did not release official figures, turnout seemed high yesterday, with large numbers of first-time and occasional voters showing up to cast ballots. (Daily News)

Mayor Michael Bloomberg yesterday assailed the Board of Elections because voters were unable to get through to its phone helpline and said the agency "Better get their act together by next year." (Daily News)

Thousands of city voters could not get help from either the Board of Elections phone helpline or web site yesterday, but Board of Elections executive director John Ravitz said the agency did as well as could be expected and blamed some of the problems on Verizon. Verizon denied the charge. (New York Post)

The city's 40-year-old voting machines broke down at a number of polling places yesterday, forcing voters to use paper ballots until the problem could be remedied. (NY1)

With a number of election problems reported yesterday, election watchdogs and officials offered suggestions as to what should be done to remedy the situation before next year's municipal elections. (New York Sun)

The Kerry campaign says it will not concede the presidential election until all the votes in Ohio, where President Bush now holds the lead, are counted. Kerry's aides say the election could turn on provisional ballots, those cast by people whose names did not appear on registration rolls. (New York Times)

Ohio emerged as the key battleground late yesterday, as the race for president depended heavily on the counting of ballots. Results may not be known for as many as three weeks and could be the focus of intense litigation. (Washington Post)

In Ohio, 73 percent of registered voters showed up to vote yesterday, many waiting in long lines in the rain to cast ballots. (Daily News)

Despite long lines at voting places around the country, there were few reports of chaos, fraud or legal challenges that could affect the outcome of yesterday's elections. (New York Times)

Florida appeared to cast off its image as the nation's election laughingstock yesterday as voting went fairly smoothly in the state. (Daily News)

11/02

The New York Public Interest Research Group reported a "record number of phone calls" to their voter helpline, the most since they began in 1984.

They attributed the high number of complaints to high turnout in New York City. They received complaints of:

- long lines
- not enough poll workers
- broken voting machines
- and people being wrongly asked for ID.

They also received complaints of some "improvisation" by poll workers. At a poll site on 75 West End Avenue, a poll worker tried to line voters up by party affiliation; Democrats in one line and Republicans in another. "The election system is being taxed to the maximum by a very high voter turnout, and the 40-year-old voting machines and 30,000 poll workers are showing signs of strain," said Gene Russianoff. (Gotham Gazette)

In a day of see-sawing court rulings, a Federal appeals court ruled early Tuesday morning that the Republican Party could place thousands of people inside polling places to challenge the eligibility of voters, a blow to Democrats who argued those challengers will intimidate minority voters. The ruling, by the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, in Cincinnati, reversed two lower courts that had blocked the challenges just a day before. It also came as squadrons of lawyers from both parties in Ohio and other swing states from Pennsylvania to Florida to New Mexico were preparing for Election Day skirmishes that will include using arcane laws that allow challenges at the polls. (New York Times)

Accusations and disclosures continued to surface [in Florida] even on Monday, suggesting that absent a landslide winner, Election Day and its aftermath will be messy here, just as it was in 2000. Republican lawyers said they had identified 1,700 felons who had not received clemency yet were illegally registered to vote. Republican poll watchers have each felon's photograph and criminal record, the lawyers said, so they can mount legal challenges should any try to vote. In Palm Beach County, voting rights groups sued the elections supervisor, Theresa LePore, after learning that she had banned reporters and others from talking to voters outside polling places. A freelance journalist was arrested on Sunday and charged with disorderly conduct after photographing people waiting to vote outside Ms. LePore's office. (New York Times)

New York City's main governmental Web site to help people locate polling places was inaccessible for much of yesterday, and voters seeking information by telephone from the Board of Elections were greeted with busy signals, continuous ringing or a recording that said customer service representatives were not available. The problems came as elections officials made last-minute preparations for what could be a huge turnout as voters prepared to cast their ballots in today's presidential election. More than 400,000 people have been added to the more than 4 million people on the voting rolls in New York City, and the demand for information on polling sites is expected to be particularly high this year, after a redistricting two years ago that changed where many people must cast their ballots. Leaders of civic groups said they had received calls from voters complaining that they were unable to get information on where to vote, either by looking for polling sites through the Board of Election's Web site, www.vote.nyc.ny.us, or by calling the board at (866) VOTE-NYC. (New York Times)

11/01

With lawyers and poll watchers descending on battleground states and the presidential race tight enough that every vote could count, elections officials say that charges of voter intimidation and voter fraud, on the street or in courtrooms, are flying more furiously than any one can remember in recent elections. Much of the tone has been set by a propaganda war of sorts between the parties, with the Democrats charging that efforts are being made to suppress the vote and Republicans warning against voter fraud or double voting. In part, the charges are designed by each party to get out their core supporters to the polls. But court battles already under way over such matters as who gets to cast provisional ballots show this is also a serious struggle that could continue in the courts after Election Day. ( New York Times)

A record number of new immigrants should turn out for tomorrow's voting, according to the predictions of the New York Immigration Coalition, which boasts of having registered more than 250,000 foreign-born voters in the past eight years.Among tomorrow's first-time voters in New York City will be tens of thousands of immigrants from countries without a tradition of free elections. As these individuals prepare for the novel experience of voting freely, community leaders are scrambling to dispel confusion over the most mundane tasks, such as opening the curtain or depressing the lever, or over more deep-seated concerns, such as language fears or a lack of faith in political accountability. (NY Sun)

Hundreds of lawyers from New York have volunteered to be deployed [in battleground states] in a massive effort aimed at assuring American voters are not deprived of their right to cast their ballots. The lawyers, as well as law students from Columbia Law School, New York University School of Law and elsewhere, are part of Election Protection 2004, a nonpartisan project born of allegations of voting irregularities during the 2000 presidential race. The project is composed of a coalition of civil rights and law groups, including the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, with the avowed aim of "protecting the rights of all U.S. citizens to cast a ballot" Tuesday Several large law firms in Manhattan, including Debevoise & Plimpton and Kirkland & Ellis, are taking part in the effort as an element of their public interest work. One part of the overall coalition is Impact 2004, an umbrella group for law students from schools across the country who will be working as poll watchers and staffing Election Day hotlines that are expected to be swamped with queries from voters with last-minute questions or problems. (Newsday)

Officers trying to thwart terrorism by keeping a watchful eye on city bridges and tunnels have generated a surprise side effect: skyrocketing arrests. Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority officers have made 1,070 arrests this year as of Oct. 21, compared with 436 for all of 2002. (Daily News)

From the brownstones of Park Slope to the penthouses of Park Avenue, New Yorkers have co-opted a night normally monopolized by blabbering pundits and turned it into the city's latest excuse to party."Four years ago, the election was so riveting that people realized there really was a reason to stay tuned in," said Ken Friedman, who's hosting 15 pals at his apartment across the street from The Spotted Pig, the popular West Village eatery he co-owns. "This one's looking like it's going to be really similar." Businesses, which normally might not treat Election Day with any special dispensation, also are caught up in the hoopla. (Newsday)

Performing and visual arts groups will be keeping up their lofty missions as the results come in. During intermission of its Tuesday-night bill, American Ballet Theater will post election results and news broadcasts on televisions throughout the lobby of City Center. From 8 p.m. to midnight, the nonprofit arts space White Box, located in Chelsea, is hosting a free party that will include drinks, performances, and viewing of the exhibit "Democracy is Fun." The exhibit's soccer balls featuring George W. Bush masks on them are not likely to go unkicked. The creative crowd will also be gathering for a party at Exit Art. For $20 guests can enjoy all-American hot dogs and beer, news coverage, and a chance to view the current exhibit: "The Presidency." "The exhibition features the work of 41 multidisciplinary artists," said associate curator Jodi Hanel. "It's not necessarily about the Bush administration, but the concept of the presidency."If you want to treat election night like New Year's Eve, you can head to Times Square, where CNN will be broadcasting from the NASDAQ MarketSite, which includes 96 television screens. (NY Sun)

10/31

TV news insiders suggest the networks may not be able to declare a winner until Wednesday, if not later. (Daily News)

Voter registration in New York state has jumped by more than 5 percent since the presidential election of 2000, according to figures available yesterday from the state Board of Elections. The new registration figures show almost 11.84 million New Yorkers registered to vote in Tuesday's election, up from just over 11.26 million for the election four years ago. In November 1996, there were 10.16 million registered voters in the state. (Associated Press)

Lawyers warn that voters in battleground states will face a barrage of dirty tricks at the polls Tuesday…Both parties condemn the trickery, which began in recent weeks. … In West Dayton, Ohio, registered Democrats received calls reminding them to vote on Nov. 5, three days after the election…Students were targeted in a more widespread voter-registration scam that has already hit five college campuses in Pennsylvania and Florida. Students who thought they were signing a petition supporting the legalization of marijuana were actually signing voter-registration forms switching their party to Republican. (New York Post)

More than 1.8 million Floridians have cast their ballots through early or absentee voting - nearly 2 1/2 times the number of people who voted early in 2000… With early voting still available at polling stations Monday - and about 1.6 million requested absentee ballots still outstanding - officials expect the number of early voters to easily surpass 2 million. ( Associated Press)

10/30

Requests for absentee ballots appeared heavier than usual, but exact figures weren't available yesterday. "My understanding is no one's ever seen anything quite like it," Timothy Gay, deputy chief clerk of the Board of Elections in Manhattan, said yesterday. The deadline for mailing ballots has passed, but voters can still hand them in personally at their local elections office….analysts think nearly a fifth of the country's votes could be cast before Election Day. (Daily News)

Volunteers from local civic groups will monitor 150 polling sites around the city on Tuesday and survey voters about any obstacles they may encounter, it was announced Friday. There will be a help line number -- 212-822-0282 -- operating from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Election Day, a coalition of civic groups announced at City Hall. "New York shouldn't be the next Florida," said Neal Rosenstein, coordinator of the New York Public Interest Research Group's Democracy Project. "If there are problems at the polls, we want to know, and will try and make sure they stop." ( Newsday)

10/29

Black passengers on the Staten Island Ferry were given handbills Thursday asking them to vote for a candidate because they were black, officials said. (Newsday)

Those counting votes should be prepared to sacrifice speed for accuracy, said the head of Demos, a NYC-based think tank (Demos).

Three reasons why Election Day may not decide the election. (NewsHour)

10/28

Mechanical lever voting machines, first demonstrated nationally in Lockport, N.Y., in 1892, will be rolled out again at almost every polling place across New York on Nov. 2. It wasn't supposed to be that way. New York is among 24 states that successfully applied for waivers delaying the requirement until 2006 as battles continue over which system is best and whether a paper record of every vote should be required. (Newsday)

Florida election officials will not be required to process incomplete voter registration forms for the presidential election, a federal judge ruled Tuesday. (Associated Press)

10/27

When it passed the Help America Vote Act, Congress required that states provide provisional ballots to voters whose names could not be found on the voting rolls. In a handful of states, those ballots could determine the outcome of the election -- and counting them promises to be slow and acrimonious. (New York Times)

Less than a week before the election, court battles are underway in almost all the battleground states over various issues relating to voting. (Washington Post)

The shortage of poll workers is a national problem with the country having about 500,000 less than the 2 million it needs. And the poll workers we do have are aging -- the average age is 72, according to the federal Election Assistance Commission. (USA Today)

With the presidential race widely seen as extremely close, experts are examining various scenarios that would result in an Electoral College tie. (Washington Post)

With experts expecting a huge voter turnout on Wednesday, many analysts predict long lines, malfunctioning machines and dueling lawyers could turn the U.S. presidential election and its aftermath into a disorderly and even chaotic experience. (Reuters)

A federal district judge in Florida yesterday dismissed a lawsuit brought by labor unions on behalf of more than 10,000 new voters whose registration forms had been rejected as incomplete. (New York Times)

In an effort to increase the integrity of the election, five voting machine makers agreed to submit their software to the National Software Reference Library for safekeeping, federal officials said. The stored software will help election officials determine whether anyone tampered with programs installed on voting equipment. (Wired News)

10/26

After sending notices to 11,000 registered voters this month telling them they couldn't vote until seven days after Election Day, New York City election officials sent postcards yesterday notifying them that they can, in fact, vote next Tuesday. Ravitz blamed a computer error for letters mailed two weeks ago..."This will be, hopefully, a final reminder that they're clearly eligible to vote on Nov. 2," said John Ravitz, executive director of the New York City Board of Elections. (Newsday)

Fifty more voting machines finally arrived Friday night from Georgia at the midtown Manhattan warehouse of the city's Board of Elections. This made John Ravitz, the board's executive director, a very happy man. With 338,000 new registered city voters this year, and with a record turnout expected in next week's election, Ravitz has spent months scouring the country for Shoup voting machines. (Daily News)

The state Education Department warned schools yesterday to take extra precautions on Election Day, including posting a guide on how to handle bomb threat calls near all telephones. Mayor Bloomberg said there have been no specific threat against city polling sites, which are mainly public schools, but police will patrol the buildings next Tuesday. "You may rest assured that we will do everything we can. There is always the possibility, and we do live in a dangerous world," the mayor said. (Daily News)

Millions of voter registration forms have surged into elections offices across the country in recent months, potentially boosting the vote count in one of the most intense presidential elections in modern history. (Daily News)

With only a week until Election Day, federal election officials yesterday pleaded for more people to work at the polls, particularly in urban centers like New York City, where they say officials need more bilingual workers. While New York City has always struggled with a shortage of poll workers, the problem is heightened by the high volume of new voter registrations this year, said DeForest Soaries Jr., chairman of the federal Elections Assistance Commission. (Newsday)

Voter Guide 2004 - a special section of the Times (NY Times)

10/25

What New Yorkers can still do to influence the election. (New York Magazine)

Breaking from a longtime practice of not requiring identification from voters, city election inspectors will be asking upwards of 14,000 first-time voters to show a specified type of ID before they can cast ballots on the machines. The forms of ID are not complicated. They include any photo ID, ranging from a driver's license to cards issued by employers, colleges, even shopping clubs. Other forms of ID that will be accepted include utility bills, bank statements, paychecks, government checks and state and federal documents - all of which must include the voter's name and address. The exact number of voters affected by the ID requirement in the city is not yet clear. Just last week, the Board of Elections received more than 100,000 new applications, and they are still being sorted out to identify voters who fall under the ID requirement. It applies only to first-time voters who registered by mail after Jan. 1, 2003. (Daily News)

New York lags behind other states in getting electronic voting machines that would help disabled people vote more easily, good-government advocates said. "The Legislature was supposed to have the machines up and running now," said Rachel Leon, executive director of Common Cause NY. "They got a bunch of waivers because they couldn't agree." (Journal News)

If John Kerry is elected president, he will have many people to thank, but the list may start with Michael Whouley. A legendary Democratic field operative, the reclusive Mr. Whouley is in charge of the thousands of Democratic grassroots organizers who are charged with getting out the vote. Similarly, if George W. Bush wins he will owe a great deal to Morton Blackwell, a GOP national committeeman from Virginia, who helped persuade the party to supplement its paid advertising with a ground game that worked so well in Senate races in 2002 that it became the model for this year's GOP get-out-the-vote efforts. A candidate's GOTV efforts can be the key to victory, and a bad effort is an easy way to blow a lead and lose an election. "When elections are close, people always credit an effective ground game with between one and three points," says Teresa Vilmain, a key player in Democratic efforts to bring their base vote to the polls. (Wall Street Journal)

Electronic voting systems that were touted as the solution to the paper ballots and hanging chads of the 2000 presidential election have become a new source of controversy as experts debate the reliability of software that operates the new systems, whether local election officials have the technical competence to run them and how there can be a recount on machines that keep no paper record of votes cast on them.

In the days leading up to the Nov. 2 election, critics of the new systems are voicing their concerns about the integrity of the ATM-like machines that will be used by one-third of the nation's voters -- more than double the number that used them four years ago. (Washington Post)

10/24

Republicans withdrew their challenges to 5,000 voter registrations in Hamilton County on Saturday after learning the challenges themselves contained mistakes.

The challenges were among 35,000 that Republicans filed in 65 of Ohio's 88 counties Friday afternoon. They targeted newly registered voters whose mail was rejected as undeliverable. (Cincinnati Enquirer)

In  Florida, voter registrations are being thrown out on pointless technicalities. Missouri is telling soldiers to send nonsecret ballots by e-mail through a Pentagon contractor with a troubling past. Nationwide, eligible voters are being removed from the rolls by flawed felon purges. And nearly a third of this year's votes will be cast on highly questionable electronic voting machines. No wonder a large percentage of Americans doubt that their votes will count. The election system is crying out for reform. (New York Times)

A federal appeals court delivered a major setback to Democrats Saturday by ruling that‚ poll workers [should not] count provisional ballots cast outside a voter's home precinct [in Ohio]. (Cleveland Plain Dealer)

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. (Chicago Sun Times)

10/23

Republican Party officials in Ohio took formal steps yesterday to place thousands of recruits inside polling places on Election Day to challenge the qualifications of voters they suspect are not eligible to cast ballots. Election officials in other swing states, from Arizona to Wisconsin and Florida, say they are bracing for similar efforts by Republicans to challenge new voters at polling places, reflecting months of disputes over voting procedures and the anticipation of an election as close as the one in 2000. (New York Times)

Forget about glitchy electronic voting machines. Never mind confusing ballot designs and hanging chads. The biggest problem in next month's election could turn out to be a shortage of well-trained poll workers that leads to widespread mistakes at polling booths, according to federal election officials. With less than two weeks to go, the current crop of aging poll workers falls several hundred thousand short of the 2 million the U.S. Election Assistance Commission says is needed to run a smooth national election. (Washington Post)

The results of the 2004 presidential election are likely to face legal challenges over voting procedures and practices, say Robert Pastor, Vice President of International affairs at American University; and Alan Brinkley, professor of history at Columbia University. (Audio from NPR)

10/22

In an effort to overhaul the system, Congress agreed in October 2002 to spend almost $4 billion helping states replace decades-old election machinery with more advanced equipment.

Yet the result is that the U.S. will use a hodgepodge of untested electronic machines, many of which don't produce paper ballots needed for recounts and are susceptible to manipulation, according to the Vienna-based Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, an international election-monitoring group. (Bloomberg News)

Republican Party officials in Ohio took formal steps yesterday to place thousands of recruits inside polling places on Election Day to challenge the qualifications of voters they suspect are not eligible to cast ballots. Election officials in other swing states, from Arizona to Wisconsin and Florida, say they are bracing for similar efforts by Republicans to challenge new voters at polling places, reflecting months of disputes over voting procedures and the anticipation of an election as close as the one in 2000. (New York Times)

In an effort to prevent another Florida, voting system over-hauls may have created new problems (Bloomberg News)

The New York state Office of Homeland Security will be on "heightened awareness" for the election, as it was for earlier special events such as the Republican Party convention in Manhattan, said Homeland Security spokesman Dennis Michalski‚ [But] Neither federal nor New York state agencies have passed on specific guidelines to local leaders who run elections, officials said. (Rochester Democrat and Chronicle)

Saying that he has seen elections in emerging democracies that were better run, former Jimmy Carter faults partisanship among election officials for problems in the American system. (Cleveland Plain Dealer)

The state officials who set ground rules for voting and interpret federal election law find themselves under fire as Election Day approaches. (Los Angeles Times)

All eyes are on Florida, the center of the 2000 presidential election debacle, with Democrats and Republicans battling to make sure votes count. (Washington Post)

A new report finds that more than 200,000 votes cast on November 2nd could be invalidated due to improperly and illegally applied provisional balloting procedures. (Demos)

Foreign observers who watched election preparations in the United States have concluded that there's plenty of room for improvement. Among the changes they recommend: public financing of elections. (Associated Press)

Two college students have won a federal court case allowing them to publish internal Diebold Election Systems emails about voting problems. (Associated Press)

Gabriel Torres-Rivera, a former militant and ex-convict, is now encouraging, other former inmates, as well as immigrants and low income New Yorkers, to vote. (New York Times)

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10/21

The Pentagon says it will post on its Web site a federal write-in ballot that civilian and military voters alike can use overseas if their regular ballots fail to arrive in time. (NY Times)

More than 1.2 million citizens of voting age in New York are foreign born, and the presidential election has captured their interest like few in memory. (NY Times)

New York lawyers are monitoring elections in other states. (WNYC.org)

A nonpartisan election watch group warns that confusion over rules, disputes over new voting systems, and a lack of poll workers may lead to Election Day woes. (Tallahassee.com)

Officials rejected a lawsuit filed yesterday to make New Jersey scrap more than 7,000 e-voting machines by Election Day. (Star Ledger)

Candidates in some states can ask local election officials for lists of people who have requested absentee ballots - and then campaign directly to them. (Associated Press)

Both presidential campaigns are helping to register an unlikely group of voters - the homeless. (NPR.com)

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10/20

This presidential race could be the most litigious in history with lawyers for the Bush and Kerry campaigns having filed an unprecedented number of lawsuits in battleground states, challenging basic election rules. (Washington Post)

Interest groups supporting both presidential candidates are spending $350 million on get out the vote drives that could change the way campaigns are run. (New York Times)

Early voting resumed in Florida’s Broward County Tuesday with few of the glitches that marred Monday's launch. (Sun-Sentinel)

A group of Harlem youth have registered first-time voters in the area, including the elderly, homeless people and former felons. (Amsterdam News)

For information on money in politics from the presidential race to local contests, go to http://www.opensecrets.org/

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10/19

Voting began yesterday in Florida, which is one of 32 states where voters are allowed to make their choice before Election Day. There were some reports of glitches with voting systems, including faulty ballots and a computer crash. (BBC.com ).

Glitches cause long lines in Broward County and elsewhere (South Florida Sun Sentinel )

In New Jersey, a coalition of private citizens and local elected officials plan to file a lawsuit to block the state's use of electronic voting machines. (New York Times)

There are five ways the election could wind up in court again (Slate).

The author of the Slate article, Richard Hasen, runs an Election Law Blog

Another site that focuses on the process of voting itself is Electionline, which includes a summary of current election law litigation state by state (in pdf format)


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