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If You're In A Swing State, Don't Just Vote

If You're in a Swing State, Don't Just Vote – Verify

As the 2008 election comes to close, swing states may find voting is needlessly complex -- and that is before any ballots are counted.

By Steven Rosenfeld, AlterNet
Posted November 4, 2008

For full story see…
If You're in a Swing State, Don't Just Vote -- Verify

As Americans head to polls on Tuesday, voters in a swing states -- and in pockets across the country -- may learn the some hard truths about U.S. elections as poor management, unreliable machines and partisan tactics converge and complicate their goal of electing the next president.

The statistics begin to explain why this is so and why 2008 is no ordinary election year. Records have been set for voter registration, turnout in the primaries and caucuses, voting by mail and for early voting. In North Carolina, officials said that more people voted this year during early voting than on Election Day four years ago. In Florida, officials said nearly half of that state’s electorate had cast ballots during early voting.

But the surge of early voters also previews problems that will likely continue Tuesday, from waiting in line for hours, to voters finding their names missing from registration rolls, to electronic voting machines not recording their choices -- and these hurdles are before the vote counting process starts on Tuesday night.

What is often omitted in describing American elections is the human toll. But observers in Miami-Dade County in Florida on Monday said thousands of people stood in line all day and weathered notable indignities. Here is an e-mail from one observer:

I saw mothers standing the rain for hours, with babies in their arms, waiting to vote… I saw thousands of people waiting in lines in the heat of the Florida sun and under the drench of tropical downpours… I saw people willing to wait over 8 hours in line to vote. You read that right. Eight hours. Exposed to sun, rain, and ultimately the fall of night… (all in) a fierce patriotism and desire to be part of the most transformative election in memory.

Even more telling was an account by Miles Gerety, a Connecticut public defender who said he was present when an elderly woman who had left her husband in hospice to vote was told that he had died while she was waiting for hours.

She'd told the others around her that Hospice had given her husband a week to live. She said it was a relief for her to be in the line. That woman was perhaps 80 feet from the library doors, when I heard her wailing. Another woman approached me, literally grabbed onto me, I had to help this woman, her husband had just died. Hospice had called. As a former Hospice volunteer, I was determined that this poor woman was going to vote immediately if that was what she wanted. The death of a loved one should trump everything else, period. She said she wanted to vote, she was imploring me to help her vote… Mustering all the confidence I could, I put my arm around her and marched her into the library: "Her husband has just died, you should by law let her vote immediately." My voice tremored; she shivered, the poll workers embraced her, and this poor woman got to vote.

Gerety blamed the delays on officials for assembling a four-page ballot with too many arcane local offices and ballot questions, and not opening enough early voting centers to accommodate the public, who mostly were minorities. While county officials lauded the turnout and declared democracy was working, he described the extended waiting and scene as "institutional racism."

For full story see…
If You're in a Swing State, Don't Just Vote -- Verify

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