Something's rotten in the state of Denmark

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

BREAKING NEWS: GAO to investigate election complaints

The GAO plans to investigate the security and accuracy of voting technology, a group of Democratic lawmakers said Tuesday. This is in response to the four letters sent by fourteen Congressional representatives calling for an investigation in response to fifteen truckloads worth of irregularities, discrepancies, and other situations that would give any civic-minded lover of democracy a strong case of hives, anger, and the willies. From the CNN report -- which was prominently linked at the top of the CNN website as of 1pm Pacific Time, though the Rather resignation is the big story of the day:

The GAO said it will not investigate every charge listed by the Democrats, but will examine "the security and accuracy of voting technologies, distribution and allocation of voting machines and counting of provisional ballots."

A spokeswoman for one of the lawmakers requesting an investigation, Rep. John Conyers Jr. of Michigan, said the goal is not to overturn the election results, but rather to improve the mechanics of the voting process.

"We are hopeful that GAO's nonpartisan and expert analysis will get to the bottom of the flaws uncovered in the 2004 election," said a statement released by Conyers and five other members of Congress.

As part of the inquiry, the group said it will provide copies of specific incident reports received in their offices regarding the election, including more than 57,000 complaints provided to the House Judiciary Committee.

Those reports include allegations of computer and voting machine problems that added votes to totals, as well as malfunctions that resulted in votes being thrown out.

What is the GAO leaving out, if they're focusing on voting technologies, distribution and allocation of voting machines, and counting of provisional ballots? The only thing I could come up with would be anecdotes or accusations of suppression of the vote within particular precincts. Oh, and exit polls. Thank God, exit polls aren't a part of this; talk about a dead fish of an argument to be pushing.

I don't know about you, but I'll be eager to write checks for the 2006 campaign to the following Congressional Representatives:

John Conyers, Michigan
Jerrold Nadler, New York
Louise Slaughter, New York
Gregory Meeks, New York
Robert Wexler, Florida
Bobby Scott, Virginia
Melvin Watt, North Carolina
Rush Holt, New Jersey
John Olver, Massachusetts
Bob Filner, California
George Miller, California
Barbara Lee, California
Tammy Baldwin, Wisconsin
(Note: I'd also read on Buzzflash that Jan Schakowsky of Illinois had also joined the effort.)

These Congressional Representatives deserve our kudos, support, and hosannas. At the very least, they deserve our phonecalls thanking them. 202.224.3121 is the general number. You can find individual contact information for the representatives at their websites linked above.

Whatever the results of any recount efforts or investigations, make no mistake about it: there were more than enough discrepancies and irregularities from November 2 going unexplained to require an investigation from the General Accounting Office. I am glad that we're now going to get one.

Now if only the media would join with an investigation of their own.

Update: a friend who is a reformed former environmental policy lobbyist cautions me about getting too excited about the GAO. "We, the environmental political movement, used GAO reports religiously - because we were right and the GAO knew that...and members of Congress would tell us - time and time again - "you're going to have to do better than the GAO." [Senator no longer in office] once told me: 'If I wanted to investigate why my wife cries at funerals, the GAO would both take it on and get it wrong.'"

However, I replied that even if the GAO alone can't do it -- WAKE UP, NEWSMEDIA -- the fact that the GAO has announced the investigation can be an important step to pushing irregularities and the Hout Report further into the mainstream media. It legitimizes, it reaffirms, it encourages efforts, it keeps the issues from being pushed aside.

Again, the fact that it received such a high link on is a good sign, potentially of good things to come. I'm eager to see whether there will be much coverage tomorrow.

Update II: Here's the press release in .pdf format from the House members announcing the investigation.