Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Ralph Nader Challenges Kerry and Edwards on Ohio Election: Fulfill Your Promise to Make Every Vote Count!

November 9, 2004

Ralph Nader Challenges Kerry and Edwards on Ohio Election:
Fulfill Your Promise to Make Every Vote Count!

Washington, DC: Ralph Nader issued a challenge today to John Kerry and John Edwards to follow through on their post-election promise to the American people to make sure every vote counts, starting in Ohio. In his own introductory remarks to John Kerry's concession statement, John Edwards said, "In America it is vital that every vote count, and that every vote be counted."

According to a November 5th article by the Associated Press, elections officials admitted that an error with an electronic voting system gave President Bush 3,893 extra votes in a Gahanna precinct. Franklin County reported Bush with 4,258 votes and John Kerry with 260 - a suspicious count since only 638 voters cast ballots in that precinct. Election officials in that county now say a cartridge from a voting machine generated errors after the precinct closed - and only 365 people voted for Bush. Additional machine errors in Ohio reported by VotersUnite.org, include:

* Mahoning County. The glass on top of one electronic screen was too far from the screen, making it difficult for people to use their fingers to cast ballots. A screen went blank on a Youngstown voter while he cast his ballot
* Mahoning County. 20 to 30 machines that needed to be recalibrated during the voting process because some votes for a candidate were being counted for that candidate's opponent
* Mahoning County. About a dozen machines needed to be reset because they essentially froze
* Cincinnati. Problems with punch card voting machines delayed the start of voting for up to an hour Tuesday morning at a suburban precinct. Voters were unable to slide their punch-card ballots all the way into any of the six voting machines that had ALL evidently been damaged in transit.
* Columbus. Overcharged batteries on Danaher Controls ELECTronic 1242 systems kept machines from booting up properly at the beginning of the day

The resulting delays, combined with higher voter turnout, resulted in lines of several hours—in one case, 22 hours!—led to some citizens' voting rights being taken away by administrative default.

The situation in Ohio and other states bears out what Nader warned against before the election. Computers are inherently subject to programming error, equipment malfunction, and malicious tampering. Paperless electronic voting machines make it impossible to safeguard the integrity of our vote thereby threatening the very foundation of our democracy.

However, the Democratic National Committee has remained silent on the issue since Election Day. Neither the DNC web site nor the Ohio Democratic Party site offered any response or any advice to voters on where to turn.

"With the extensive pre-election effort to prevent election fraud, including international observers, activist poll watchers and attempts to enforce paper trail backups, the Democratic Party's silence on Ohio is puzzling," said Ralph Nader.

Regardless of whether it changes the outcome, the Democrats should follow through on their promise to make sure every vote counts  in Ohio and other states discovering similar problems with electronic voting machines and other irregularities.

"It is imperative to find out whether changes are needed in the equipment," he said. "At a minimum, the Democrats should put the state on alert to clean up its act."

Other trouble spots exist in Ohio, including rules that allow officials to reject some of the 155,000 provisional ballots being cast in that state. Before Election Day, Ohio Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell (a Republican who co-chairs President Bushs statewide campaign) was challenged by voters-rights organizations for denying citizens their voting rights on the basis of a rule (later rescinded) requiring voter registration forms be printed on 80 pound paper stock. Voter registration forms were submitted on newsprint in Cuyahoga County after being printed in the (Cleveland) Plain Dealer. Blackwell is also accused of trying to suppress the registration of poor and minority voters who most often vote Democrat.

Nader says major electoral reforms are needed to ensure that every vote count—that all voters are represented through electoral reforms like instant run-off voting, none-of-the-above options, and proportional representation; that non-major party candidates have a chance to run for office and participate in debates; and that elections are publicly financed.

Ralph Nader calls upon John Edwards and John Kerry to be serious about their post-election promise: "Our offices are being flooded with faxes and e-mails asking for assistance in resolving these irregularities - a lot of them are citizens who voted for you. You must now take action to give our nation the fair accounting it deserves from the 2004 election and to protect democratic processes in future elections. Although your party extended considerable funds and manpower to drive us off the Ohio ballot, in the spirit of good government, I urge you to make this effort now."