Even if no recount was conducted in your state, you can still petition your elected officials to hold official hearings on a city, county, or state level so that sworn testimony can be taken about voting irregularities while the memories are still fresh. This testimony can be used to bolster claims for legislation to improve voting procedures, or as the basis for criminal indictments, if warranted. If no official hearings are forthcoming, consider holding your own unofficial hearings along the lines used by citizens at hearings in Columbus, Ohio in mid-November.
Rep. Conyers Investigates
Right after the November 2nd election, Rep. John Conyers, Jr. of Michigan and twelve other Members of Congress filed a request with the non-partisan Government Accountability Office (GAO) for an immediate investigation into the irregularities into the election of 2004. The GAO is examining the security and accuracy of voting technologies, distribution and allocation of voting machines, and counting of provisional ballots. The Congressmen provided copies of specific incident reports received in their offices, including more than 57,000 complaints filed with the House Judiciary Committee.
Rep. Conyers and some of his colleagues held a hearing in Washington, D.C. on December 8th to investigate voting "irregularities," and because of the magnitude of the problems alleged, they held a subsequent hearing in Columbus, Ohio on December 13th, the day the Ohio Electors certified Ohio's 20 Electoral Votes for George Bush despite the lack of a completed recount. Then, on January 6, 2005, the day the Electoral College votes were counted in Congress, California Senator Barbara Boxer, Ohio Representative Stephanie Tubbs-Jones, and 30 other Representatives formally challenged the Ohio Electoral Votes based on a report created by Rep. Conyers and others. (How you can help)
Researchers have suggested that electronic voting machines in some parts of Florida may have awarded Bush between 30,000 and 260,000 more votes than he was projected to get, based on past results and comparisons with this year's returns elsewhere in the state. In addition, in some of the 15 Florida counties that used touch-screen computers, some voters said they pushed the button for Kerry but saw the screen mark the ballot for Bush. Because there is no paper backup for machines in those counties, it is impossible to determine whether those votes were properly counted. For details, visit the websites of the groups listed on our Other Sites resource page.
Clark County, home of Las Vegas, was the scene of several allegations that are leading to calls for a recount in that state. Absentee and early ballots did not add up to expected amounts, and undervotes (no vote cast for a candidate for a particular office) were significantly higher than expected.On November 29, 2004, David Cobb, the 2004 Green Party presidential candidate, jointly with Libertarian candidate Michael Badnarik filed official requests for a recount of the presidential ballots cast in New Mexico and Nevada. The Nevada Secretary of State then was tasked with coming back with an estimate of costs. In an unrelated legal challenge, an election contest case was heard in Reno, Nevada, demanding a recount. The suit also sought to address allegations that people employed by Sproul & Associates, an Arizona-based firm hired by the Republican National Committee, tore up and discarded voter registration forms completed by Democratic voters. see press releaseOn December 2nd, the Cobb and Badnarik campaigns decided not to pursue a recount in Nevada because of unreasonable obstables imposed by the Nevada Secretary of State. "The Nevada Secretary of State's office presented us with hefty bill and a ridiculous list of tasks to be completed in an unreasonably short period of time," said Cobb-LaMarche Media Director Blair Bobier. see press release
- New Hampshire
According to a report in USA Today on November 19, independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader "paid $2,000 to begin a recount of 11 of [New Hampshire's] 126 precincts after an analysis showed wide differences in voting trends between the 2000 and 2004 presidential elections. The analysis, performed by Michigan programmer Ida Briggs, said Sen. John Kerry's votes were much worse in some locations than former Vice President Al Gore's in 2000, even though Kerry carried the state and Gore didn't."On November 30, the Nader-Camejo campaign reported that the recount was over, with no significant discrepancies found in the eleven selected wards that were hand counted. Nader had requested recounts on Nov. 5 in precincts where the Diebold AccuVote optical scan machine was used, and where the reported vote count favored President George W. Bush by 5% to 15% over what was expected based on exit polls and voting trends in New Hampshire. The Nader-Camejo campaign received more than 2,000 faxes from citizens urging a recount. In the eleven wards recounted, only very minor discrepancies were found between the optical scan machine counts of the ballots and the recount. The discrepancies are similar to those found when hand-counted ballots are recounted.
Lessons of the NH RecountAccording to the Nader-Camejo campaign, no conclusions can be drawn about the reliability of electronic voting machines on the basis of the New Hampshire recount, because the machines used in the 11 selected wards predate those showing irregularities in Ohio and other states, where votes were counted backward on some machines and votes were assigned to the wrong candidate on others. Secretary of State William Gardner reported that the machines used in New Hampshire also predate the Diebold Corporation's purchase of the company that manufactured them. However, the case reinforces the Nader-Camejo call for a voter verified paper ballot trail for random audits and independent recounts to confirm the accuracy of questionable results.
Why We Need Auditable Paper Trails"It would not have been possible to satisfy voter concerns about the fairness of the election in these wards without the paper trail New Hampshire has kept in place," said Amy Belanger, coordinator of the Nader-Camejo recount effort. "Given the vulnerability of electronic voting machines to tampering, hacking or simple malfunctions, a paper trail is essential to the integrity of our democratic system."
Machines Pre-Dated DieboldThe voting machines in the selected New Hampshire wards were purchased after manufacture and installation by Diebold Corporation, whose top officers were major contributors to the Bush campaign. The software on which votes are counted is protected as a corporate trade secret and voting rights groups report no independent audit is performed on the machines or the software, making the machines vulnerable to undetected programming error, equipment malfunction, and malicious tampering.
Ongoing Danger of Corporate Control of Elections"Turning over the counting of votes to corporations gives new meaning to the term 'corporate power,'" said Ralph Nader. "Three or four proprietary corporations being given the authority to count the vote on trade secreted software undermines the transparency of elections. With other obstructions and massive corporate campaign cash, they threaten the very foundation of our democracy its elections." more