Electors call for national voting reforms

Breaking with tradition, electors in at least five states have called for a congressional investigation of voting violations during the Nov. 2 election for president. Electors in Vermont, Maine, Massachusetts, California, and North Carolina registered their concerns as they cast their votes last week.

The following day, the Berkeley City Council adopted a resolution “supporting the request that the Government Accountability Office immediately undertake an investigation of voting irregularities in the 2004 elections.” Drafted by Berkeley’s Peace and Justice Commission, the resolution also lists 17 measures to improve elections.

After hearing citizens speak, Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates said, “Nothing is more fundamental than a free, fair election. When you start tinkering with that, it throws the whole system into disarray. I am pleased that we are taking this stand.”

In Massachusetts, elector Cathleen Ashton of Wayland demanded that “every vote be counted and every vote counts,” while Maine’s electors called for national voting reforms. Their statement pointed to Maine initiatives such as same-day registration, allowing felons to vote, and clean election reforms.

“Our four electoral votes are held meaningless if our sister states cannot hold elections that are fair, accurate, and verifiable,” said elector Lu Bauer after the ceremony at the Maine State House.

Massachusetts electors passed a motion urging members of Congress to object to the vote. It also requested an investigation of “all voting complaints that might have any validity” and remedies for “any voting rights violations or electoral fraud verified by its own agents or through the courts.”

Massachusetts elector Tom Barbera said his life was threatened during get-out-the-vote efforts.

nother elector spoke of being targeted for intimidation. Noting that many whose voting rights were violated were African American, Barbera, who presented the Massachusetts’ motion, said, “we believe that as electors, we have a unique opportunity and obligation to ensure that justice does not again become so delayed as to be denied.”

Vermont electors expressed concerns about a reported 57,000 complaints received by a congressional Judiciary Committee and called on Congress and Vermont’s congressional delegation to investigate.

In California, one elector cast his ballot provisional upon “all votes being counted — provisional, absentee, under- and over-votes, computerized without paper ballots, even getting valid votes from those turned away illegally, intimidated, discouraged by incredibly long waits, etc.”

This is an attempt to get the message read on the floor of Congress prior to certification on Jan. 6, when the ballots are opened.

“Never has such a vote been cast by an elector,” said Grace Ross, an organizer of the national effort to support electors to take action, and a member of Truth in Elections. “And without a parliamentarian to rule it in or out at the Electoral College level, we await whether Congress will acknowledge this type of provisional vote and address the issues this elector sought to raise, or whether they, too, will ignore provisional votes.”

In North Carolina, Democratic electors and activists talked about local problems while Republicans voted inside. Elector Mary Roe mentioned problems she witnessed as an election observer in her own county. State officials admit that 4,500 votes disappeared in a computerized voting machine crash.

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