NEW YORK, NY -- January 6 -- Today Miles Rapoport, President of Demos and former Connecticut Secretary of State, released a statement in support of the Congressional investigation into widespread voting system failures in Ohio on Election Day 2004. |
"Today, as Congress was poised to tally the electoral votes from the 2004 Presidential Election, several brave members spoke up to contest the counting of those from Ohio in order to bring attention to the massive irregularities reported on November 2. Nobody anticipates a change in the outcome of the election, but America would betray its ideals if it disregarded serious evidence of voting irregularities. We therefore support the efforts of those in Congress and elsewhere to shed light on the serious problems that plague voting in this country," said Rapoport.
Many of the problems reported on Election Day have been compiled through the research of Demos and other voting rights organizations, and in a report recently commissioned by Rep. John Conyers of Michigan. These include:
Voting machine shortages led to unprecedented long lines that disenfranchised thousands of predominantly minority voters.
Restrictions on provisional ballots resulted in the disenfranchisement of thousands of predominantly minority voters.
The Ohio Republican Party's decision to engage in pre-election intimidation, selectively targeting 35,000 predominantly minority voters for harassment had a negative impact on voter turnout.
The Ohio Republican Party's decision to deploy thousands of partisan operatives to challenge and disenfranchise thousands of voters in communities of color and heavily Democratic precincts.
Widespread instances of intimidation and misinformation in violation of the Voting Rights Act, the Civil Rights Act of 1968, and constitutional guarantees.
Improper and illegal purging of votes and other registration errors by election officials likely disfranchised tens of thousands of voters statewide.
Reports of voting machine errors and breakdowns.
Most of the so-called "spoiled" ballots went uncounted, without investigation.
"The situation in Ohio is yet another reminder that our electoral system needs reform and urgent attention to both examine the situation and remedy the problems experienced by voters all around the country.
"It is also time to examine partisanship in the administration of our election systems. Four years ago it was Katherine Harris in Florida. In this past election, Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell both served as the state's chief election official and co-chair of the Bush-Cheney campaign. Blackwell's edicts before the election did little to convince voters that he was a nonpartisan representative of their interest, and even less to prove that he supports balloting transparency. In fact he still refuses to comply with state law and open the poll registration books, which should have been made available for public scrutiny for the past two months.
"This it is not a partisan matter, but rather an issue of fundamental democratic principles. Every eligible citizen should have a fair opportunity to vote, and every vote should count.
"Congressional examination of the electoral process in Ohio will vindicate America's covenant with its citizens and affirm our global standing. With an open and transparent inquiry, the ongoing process for greater democratization that was begun over two centuries ago will be renewed. But whether Congress investigates or not, the long-term effort to make our democratic process truly work will go on."
For information about voters' rights and challenges to the integrity of our elections in 2004, visit the Demos online at www.demos-usa.org.
Demos: A Network for Ideas & Action, is a nonprofit, nonpartisan public policy organization based in New York.
Rapoport and Carbo are available for television, radio and phone interviews and background briefings. Call or email Tim Rusch firstname.lastname@example.org or (917) 399-0236 for more information.
Miles Rapoport has served as President of Demos since February 2001. From 1995-1999, Mr. Rapoport was the Secretary of State of Connecticut, and a leader of efforts for campaign finance, election reform, and expanding citizen participation. As Secretary, he released two unique reports on the State of Democracy in Connecticut. Prior to his election as Secretary of State, Mr. Rapoport served for ten years (1985-1994) in the Connecticut legislature. He was a leading expert on electoral reform and chaired the Government Administration and Elections Committee.
Mr. Rapoport also founded and served as Executive Director of DemocracyWorks, a Hartford-based group that works on democracy reforms from 1999-2001. In 1985, he founded Northeast Action, a leading political reform organization in New England, and was the Director of Connecticut Citizen Action Group. He has written on democracy issues, including broad agenda-setting articles in the American Prospect and other magazines.
Steven Carbo has 14 years of experience in advancing progressive civil rights, social justice, and community economic development policies at the federal, state and community levels. Before joining Demos, Steven had worked as Legislative Director for U.S. Representative Nydia Velazquez, Special Counsel on Environmental Justice for U.S. Representative Jose Serrano, and Legislative Staff Attorney with the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund. Over the years, he has helped shape federal and state policies and programs on voting rights, fair employment, education, environmental justice, economic development, and affordable housing. Steven's volunteer work includes service on the Board of Directors of the Jesse Smith Noyes Foundation. He holds a J.D. and B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania.