The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167

High Voter Turnout and the US Voting Infrastructure


Wang is the vice president for research at Common Cause
and author of the newly released report, "Voting in 2008: 10 Swing
States." She said today: "While some problems have been fixed since the
last (2004) election, some major problems remain and new ones have
cropped up. ... It's unfortunate that our voting infrastructure is
based on the assumption and anticipation of low participation. And,
indeed, we've had very low levels of participation for a long time, but
this year could potentially be different. What we need is a system in
place that invests the resources to ensure a smooth voting process and
anticipates and encourages full participation of our citizenry."

Wang added: "While some states have taken steps to improve their
election procedures, several still have a number of structural and
statutory weaknesses that put voting rights at risk once again this
year. ... Many states have flawed procedures for matching the
information voters give them when they register with other state
databases, and some have no established protocols for doing so at all.
Uniquely, Florida will continue to require that prospective voters
prove eligibility by providing the exact information that appears on
existing state databases. This policy often results in rejections of
valid registered voters if the voter provides a variant of his or her
name instead of a full name, a clerical error is made on the election
administration side, or a voter makes another minor mistake."

Ross is the executive director of One Vote Wisconsin. He said today:
"JB Van Hollen, the [state] Republican Attorney General, who also
serves as the co-chair of John McCain's presidential campaign, is
filing a lawsuit that could cripple rights of voters in Wisconsin. Van
Hollen is trying to force the state to dump from voter rolls anyone who
does not have an exact match with their registration and their DMV or
other public records. So, for example, if you had a middle initial in
your driver's license but your full middle name in your voter form, you
could be deleted from the voter rolls. Strikingly, four of the six
members of the Government Accountability Board, the body charged with
deciding these rules, failed this exact match test due to differences
in name order or middle names. Under the proposed rules, even they
would have been disenfranchised. This move could also potentially delay
or block sending of absentee ballots to soldiers who are stationed
overseas. ... This is an attempt at using our tax dollars to restrict
our right to vote -- an especially egregious move this year when we
expect high levels of voter turnout."
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Brown is the executive director of the Arizona Advocacy Network.
She said today: "Arizona will be experiencing the first presidential
election under the new ID laws, potentially with the highest turnout on
record. Our experience during the 2006 elections, primaries and our
observations as the election day nears reveals that we may experience
significant disenfranchisement. For one thing, the new ID law makes it
very hard for certain populations -- those without a driver's license,
the elderly, the disabled, etc. -- to register. On our website, we have
profiled a case of a 57-year-old disabled woman with a son in Iraq, Eva
Steele, who could not register because she has none of the requirements
(property tax records, utility bills, drivers license) because she
lives in an assisted living facility. This might be the first election
in her adult life in which she could not vote."

Brown added: "Further, we find that poll workers are inadequately
trained. They receive at most two hours of training to cover all
aspects of running today's complex polling centers. Just covering the
basics of the ID laws would take longer. We often find people being
incorrectly denied the right the vote because the poll workers are
ignorant of the law or people simply give up because the line simply
becomes too long while the poll workers struggle to deal with the ID
requirements. Our estimate for 2006 was that 28,000 voters might have
been incorrectly turned away and tens of thousands simply gave up. With
expected record turnout, the situation will likely be much worse this

A nationwide consortium, the Institute for Public Accuracy (IPA) represents an unprecedented effort to bring other voices to the mass-media table often dominated by a few major think tanks. IPA works to broaden public discourse in mainstream media, while building communication with alternative media outlets and grassroots activists.