Reidblog [The Reid Report blog]

Think at your own risk.
Wednesday, June 22, 2005
Don't look back ... or do
The DNC released its "explosive" report today, with promised "knock your socks off" information on on the 2004 elections. (Thanks for the heads-up, Bradblog)

The press conference for the release was late this morning, with with HoDo, Donna Brazile, a couple of poli-sci /gov porofessors (from Cornell and Rice Universities) and Cornell Belcher of Brilliant Corners (I'll withhold my story on that last name from the recent campaign...)

The report, which is on the DNC web-site, drew snores from the GOP, and scant attention from the press. It focused solely on Ohio (I was promised Florida too, so right off the bat I'm disappointed). Here's the summary:

An exhaustive five-month investigation by the VRI's research and investigative team identified grave problems in the administration of Ohio's voting system. More than 1 in 4 voters in Ohio faced problems at the polls, including illegal requests for identification, long lines, poorly trained election officials, and more. There were also dramatic disparities in voting conditions among different races; African Americans waited nearly three times as long on average as whites to vote. Most important, the VRI's comprehensive investigation resulted in concrete recommendations that will help protect every American's right to vote and to have that vote counted. These recommendations cover voting equipment, training for poll workers, uniform standards, and much more.
I'm still digesting the report, but a couple of interesting things jump out:
  • One of the biggest problems in certain Ohio precincts was not enough voting machines (predictably, especially in less well-off counties -- which is true just about everywhere);
  • Voter turnout increases were indeed associated with interest in (and "yes" votes for) the amendment banning gay marriage in Ohio, and the issue clearly "mobilized many people to vote who might not have otherwise" (liberal Dems take heed -- this issue hits the fan in Florida this year, and I'm willing to bet any money it passes -- with strong African-American support...);
  • Strong correllation between Kerry votes and votes for the Democratic candidate for governor suggest against widespread vote fraud that "changed votes for Kerry into votes for Bush";
  • Overall, voter registration efforts helped Kerry more, but voter turnout efforts helped Bush more;
Regarding controversial "provisional ballots":
  • Newly registered voters and voters who move more frequently were more likely to cast provisional ballots, as were African-Americans and younger voters (both of whom were the major focus of new voter registration efforts by Democratic groups, btw...);
  • Education, income, marital status and presidential preference had no impact on whether Ohioans voted on provisional ballots.

On electronic voting:

  • There was little meat here, data-wise, mostly explanations of the different systems and recommendations on each;
  • The study found that optical scan machines "are the most accurate ... and cost effective."
  • Electronic voting machines are said to be "not engineered to meet the needs of elections," but apparently, only because they are "extremely expensive to procure and maintain" and "not sufficiently robust against fraud";
  • The study predictably recommends voter-verified paper trails and parallel testing of machines.
I havent read through the entire report yet (it's pretty long) and will be interested to read the "incident reports" from different precincts, and the recommendations (not that a single Republican governor or secretary of state will follow them), but I have to say so far, I don't see much that's predictive of a high-temperature title like "Democracy at Risk." There doesn't seem to be much evidence of outright fraud, although I don't doubt Secretary of State Blackwell will come off looking like a hero. HoDo's summary says the study includes evidence of "voter confusion, voter suppression and negligence and incompetence." Sounds like Florida -- hell, it sounds like state or municipal bureaucracies and "confused" citizens anywhere ...

Maybe there's more there -- I'll keep reading...
posted by JReid @ 2:25 PM  
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