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XXXXX DRUDGE REPORT XXXXX TUE NOV 02, 2004 09:06:35 ET XXXXX
UPDATE: VOTES 'FOUND ON MACHINES' IN PHILLY BEFORE POLLS OPEN
Before voting even began in Philadelphia -- Republican poll watchers believed they found nearly 2000 votes already planted on machines scattered in heavy-minority locations throughout the city.
Republican poll watchers claim:
One incident occurred at the SALVATION ARMY, 2601 N. 11th St., Philadelphia, Pa: Ward 37, division 8.
Pollwatchers uncovered 4 machines with planted votes; one with over 200 and one with nearly 500...
A second location, 1901 W. Girard Ave., Berean Institute, Philadelphia, Pa, had 300+ votes already on 2 machines at start of day.
ANOTHER INCIDENT: 292 votes on machine at start of day; WARD/DIVISION: 7/7: ADDRESS: 122 W. Erie Ave., Roberto Clemente School, Philadelphia, Pa..
ANOTHER: 456 votes on machine at start of day; WARD/DIVISION: 12/3; ADDRESS: 5657 Chew Ave., storefront, Philadelphia, Pa...
The Kerry Campaign says reports of votes already on machines are 'false.'
"Serious news will not appear first on the DRUDGE gossip website," senior Kerry adviser Joe Lockhart told reporters.
Officially, election officials explain the discrepancy is being caused by a number showing how many times various machines have been used.
But officials could not explain why used machines in other locations were reportedly 'clean.'
Elsewhere, a gun was purposely made visible to scare poll watchers at Ward 30, division 11, at 905 S. 20th St., Grand Court. Police were called and quickly surrounded the location...
Filed By Matt Drudge
Reports are moved when circumstances warrant
http://www.drudgereport.com for updates
(c)DRUDGE REPORT 2004
Not for reproduction without permission of the author
Voting problems reported as balloting begins High turnout, new law, close election seen as volatile mix MSNBC staff and news service reports Updated: 10:03 a.m. ET Nov. 2, 2004
Polling places experienced scattered problems early Tuesday as legions of lawyers, election-rights activists and computer scientists watched, particularly in battleground states, for any trouble that could disenfranchise voters.
advertisement New rules, new voters and a tight presidential contest combined to create ?a recipe for problems,? said Sean Greene, who was assigned to watch Cleveland polls for the Election Reform Information Project, a nonpartisan research group on election reform.
Nearly one in three voters, including about half of those in Florida, were expected to cast ballots using ATM-style voting machines that computer scientists have criticized for their potential for software glitches, hacking and malfunctioning.
Other major concerns were over provisional ballots, new this presidential election and a potential source of delayed counts, and whether poll workers were adequate and sufficiently trained.
Election judge abandons post In Essex, Md., an election judge left a polling place briefly, saying he forgot something at home. Voters who had to wait were allowed to vote by provisional ballot.
One polling location in Mauldin, S.C., was forced to switch to paper ballots because of equipment troubles.
In Volusia County, Fla., a memory card in an optical-scan voting machine failed Monday at an early voting site and didn?t count 13,000 ballots. Officials planned to feed and count those ballots Tuesday.
By mid-morning EST, an online and phone hot line maintained by nonpartisan and liberal voting-rights activists logged more than 1,650 items, mostly related to complaints or questions about registrations and polling locations. But some voters in New York and Pennsylvania complained to the hotline of troubles with non-electronic machines.
Chellie Pingree, president of the citizens lobbying group Common Cause, said she feared poll workers faced with long lines would be pressured to make quick but bad interpretations on rules governing registration validity and identification requirements.
?There?s no question it?s going to be a high turnout,? Pingree said. ?It?s going to just add more confusion to already overburdened, understaffed polling places, many of which will have as many lawyers and poll challengers as they have people voting.?
Observers arrayed at polling places More than 20,000 lawyers from both parties and thousands of independent observers were at or near polling places, especially in closely contested battleground states. They were watching for potential problems and trying to guard against a repeat of the confusion that marred voting in Florida and elsewhere four years ago.
Here is a guide to some of the potential problem areas that election observers are tracking:
Extensive wait times at some polling places are almost inevitable given the expected high turnout, a shortage of poll workers and new legal requirements.
Anywhere from 118 million to 121 million Americans are expected to cast ballots in this year?s presidential election, a big jump from the record 105 million who voted in 2000, according to the Committee for the Study of the American Electorate. That estimate is based on projected turnout of 58 to 60 percent of voting-age residents, which would be the highest since 1968. The total is likely to be boosted further by nearly 10 million newly registered voters, heavily concentrated in battleground states.
This year?s election is complicated by a 2002 law that requires many first-time voters to show identification before they can vote, and by the increased use of provisional ballots (see below). Poll workers likely will be shorthanded as they cope with the new procedures. A spokeswoman for the federal Election Assistance Commission estimated the nation is 250,000 people short of the 2 million workers needed to run a federal election. Adding yet another wrinkle are reports that some polling officials have considered searching voters to prevent terrorism.
?My guess is the combination of the number of people who are going to vote, the increased complexity of the process and the intense level of scrutiny means it will take longer for Americans to vote than at any time in recent memory,? said Doug Chapin, director of Electionline.org, a non-partisan reform group.
On the other hand, this year has seen heavy use of absentee ballots and early voting. Nearly 2 million Floridians had voted by Saturday, more than double the 2000 total.
Voter challenges Many states have formal procedures allowing voters to be challenged to prevent fraud. But never in recent memory have voter challenges loomed as large as they do this year.
Two federal judges Monday banned political parties from posting challengers inside Ohio polling places, but a three-judge panel of the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the rulings by a 2-1 vote early Tuesday. It granted emergency stays that will allow Republicans and Democrats one challenger per precinct each.
Democrats also are bracing for possible voter challenges in Florida, Nevada and Pennsylvania.
In Nevada, Secretary of State Dean Heller, a Republican, said he would not tolerate any activity that makes voters feel "intimidated, harassed, coerced or influenced."
In general, Republicans contend that many of this year?s new voters were registered improperly or fraudulently. Democrats say efforts to challenge new voters, especially in largely minority and lower-income precincts, smack of intimidation in the highly charged atmosphere of this year?s campaign.
?We?ve really reached the point where just about any procedure that is intended to protect the integrity of the process can be perceived as intimidation,? said Chapin. Yet voter registration has become so easy that it increases the possibility of fraud, resulting in what he called ?a zero-sum game between access and integrity.?
Provisional ballots Under the 2002 Help America Vote Act, voters who show up at the polls and find their names missing from the rolls are entitled to provisional ballots, which will be set aside and may or may not be counted. Provisional ballots were available in most states previously but will be a new feature of elections in some hotly contested states including Florida.
In 28 states, including Ohio, Florida, Michigan and Missouri, provisional ballots will only be eligible to be counted if the voter showed up in the proper precinct. That raises the potential for confusion among poll workers and disenfranchisement of voters, especially whose who are newly registered or may have moved recently.
?We think the biggest problem is going to be around provisional balloting," said Jason Mark, a spokesman for Global Exchange, which plans to deploy a small team of neutral observers in three key states.
Technical difficulties In south Florida, election officials have been inundated with complaints about absentee ballots that were requested but never received. In heavily Democratic Broward County, early fears that nearly 60,000 ballots were missing in the mail appeared to be overstated. Officials said Monday that many of the missing ballots arrived late, but they also mailed out more than 9,000 replacement ballots.
Overseas absentee ballots also have been a point of contention, as they were in 2000. In Pennsylvania, votes for federal offices will be counted as long as they are received by Nov. 10 as a result of a settlement to a lawsuit filed by military personnel serving in Iraq and Kuwait.
Election observers also are bracing for potential problems stemming from the first widespread use of electronic voting in many districts. While most of the systems have been tried in at least one previous election, many voters will be encountering touch-screen machines and other devices for the first time. About 30 percent of the nation?s voters will vote with electronic systems on Election Day, while 13 percent ? including those in most Ohio counties ? will use punch cards. That, of course, is the system that left hundreds of hanging and ?pregnant? chads in Florida?s controversial election four years ago.
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