Who Really Won?

Sunday, November 28, 2004

Skepticism spawns broad effort to push voting reform

SF Chronicle looks at voting issues:

One of Ohio's top legal experts said the challenge to the overall results is unlikely to succeed -- or possibly even proceed -- because the suit doesn't provide hard numbers and the Ohio State Supreme Court has in previous rulings on elections set a high bar for those who contest results.

"All of that tells me the courts are going to demand the person bringing the action have the evidence to overturn and are not going to allow the judicial process to be used essentially for a fishing expedition," said Edward Foley, a law professor specializing in elections at Ohio State University in Columbus.

People for the American Way wants a court ruling to ensure that the 8,000 provisional ballots thrown out in Cuyahoga County were not done so on technicalities that violate state law, said Vicky Beasley, deputy national field director of the organization and manager of its Election Protection program.

"We couldn't have very well ended our job on election day," she said.

"A working person having to wait in line for five hours to vote is arguably a denial of voting rights," said Wang of the Century Foundation.

In a video from Columbus, Ohio, posted on the Web site theneighborhoodnetwork.org, a diabetic woman who waited 2 1/2 hours in line stepped outside the crowded polling place for air. In the short time she was outside, the polls closed, the doors were locked and she was not allowed back inside to vote.

It poured rain on election day in Ohio and the videos show long lines of people waiting outside under umbrellas or pulling garbage bags over their heads like ponchos.

"We're not making accusations (of fault) against individuals, but we're talking about institutional, systemic problems that disproportionately affect poor people and people of color," said Amy Kaplan, a Columbus resident and organizer for the League of Pissed-Off Voters, a New York-based group focusing on younger voters. One of their stated goals is "to build a progressive governing majority in our lifetime."