Worries about the state of democracy provoke election monitoring campaigns

National Campaigns Seek to Monitor Elections

People throughout the world are concerned about the integrity of this year's presidential election. Some worry that people could be turned away at the polls, as happened in Florida in 2000. Others worry that electronic voting machines are easily hacked or are simply mechanically unreliable; not all achines give a receipt so that voters know how their votes will be counted. In some places, there are still concerns about paper ballots. There are also concerns that African Americans, Latinos, and even convicted felons who have finished their sentences and parole will be deinied the right to vote. And what if there is a terrorist attack just before or on the day of the election? Some are choosing to vote for no one. On another side of the political spectrum, volunteer drives are on to recruit election protection volunteers and election monitors for polling places throughout the country. A questionable internet voting experiment has been cancelled.

ElectionProtectionVolunteer.org is recruiting volunteers (clergy, lawyers, law students, and regular folks) to work as poll monitors in key precincts where there is a history of, or concern about, voting rights violations, and to perform related functions like neighborhood canvasses. The training to be a volunteer will provide an overview of the state-specific Voters' Bill of Rights, answers to frequently asked questions about voting, information about e-voting issues where germane, instructions for reporting election day voting rights violations to the Election Protection coalition legal team, and more. One training was held in the Bay Area on September 11th. Upcoming trainings. A toll-free hotline has been set up so people can call to report irregularities: 1-866-OUR-VOTE. The Election Protection 2004 website also has regular updates about issues related to the election: 9/22 Update

Global Exchange is sponsoring Fair Election, a human rights organization that has conducted election monitoring in 10 countries around the world. Fair Election plans to "bring a multi-national, independent, non-partisan, and non-governmental team of skilled election monitors to the United States to examine and report on the U.S. electoral process within the framework of international election standards. The impartial assessments and practical recommendations for reform are designed to help overcome the doubt many U.S. voters feel about processes at the core of our democracy." Volunteers were sheduled to come in mid-September and again during the week before the election. Plans are in the works for a European delegation from the OSCE, although there is some controversy around this team.

Links: California Voters' Bill of Rights, which voters can print and bring into polling places with them | Election Protection Volunteer Website | Electionline.org | U.S. Department of Justice's Civil Rights Division Voting Section | Info USA's Elections Page

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