30 Issues in Thirty Days: Will Your Vote Count? What Has Changed Eight Years after Bush vs. Gore?

Monday, September 22, 2008

The presidential election series kicks off with a comprehensive look at the 2008 vote. Tova Wang, vice president of research at Common Cause, talks about the upcoming election, and how well ten swing states are prepared for November 4th.

John Fund, Wall Street Journal editorial board member and author of Stealing Elections: How Voter Fraud Threatens Our Democracy, and Miles Rapoport, president of Demos, a public policy and voting rights organization, take on voter fraud and voter suppression.

Douglas Kellner, co-chairman of the New York State Board of Elections, and Penny Venetis, professor at Rutgers University School of Law, talk about what voters in New York and New Jersey can expect at the polls.


John Fund, Douglas Kellner, Miles Rapoport, Penny Venetis and Tova Wang

Comments [70]

Michael Stotz from Brooklyn 11238

Agnostics,atheists, secular humanists and people aswering "none" when questionned about religious preferences make up about 15% of the US population. Since we are quite a sizable minority, why are we totally absent from the political discourse?

Oct. 03 2008 12:03 PM
Jean Nunes from Colonia NJ

I'm from Brazil., live in US for last 9 years., I Can't beleve that The USA can't not put together a real eletion. Something clear and easy to understand. Brazil has 125 millions voters, eletion is hoding on sunday., 8am - 6 pm and by 9-10pm resolts a out, all vote count. 50% + 1 vote elect the president. across Brazil is all voting machine

Sep. 23 2008 06:41 PM
Richard Wagner from Brooklyn

I stayed on the phone for most of the hour to tell about NYS situation, then Comm Kellner said what I would have said, but let me emphasize, New York State is the last state to acquire an electronic system, and we haven't yet because the machinery offered to us, and in use throughout this nation can't pass the tests NYS requires to certify a system. We will be using the lever machines augmented by "ballot marking devices" for some time to come. WHAT DOES THAT SAY FOR ELECTIONS IN THE REST OF OUR COUNTRY?
Early voting, this early, is devoid of the facts that will be exposed in the coming weeks, what a shame. Richard from Brooklyn

Sep. 22 2008 01:02 PM
SuzanneNYC from Upper West Side

Inspector Bucket: So file a FOI and get them out in the open -- if you think they would reveal something we need to know. Just because they're sealed is not a reason to suspect some hanky panky on Obama's part. How far back do you want to go to dig for dirt? I'm waiting for someone to bring up the Keating 5 -- now that was a scandal.

Sep. 22 2008 12:11 PM
jill from brookyn

I love the old fashioned voting machines in New York! It feels so satisfying to pull that metal lever, much more so than using a pencil or a computer screen.

Sep. 22 2008 11:58 AM
the truth from Atlanta/New York

Why can't we vote by the same system they use to tax us on??? Your social security number!!
You pay taxes, you get a vote, one man, woman, one vote!

Sep. 22 2008 11:55 AM
Robert from NYC

Can you ask Mr. Kellner how one makes a write in vote in the voting booths in NYC, please? I want to do it this year but never have done it before and have no idea how it's done. Do I have to bring my own pen and paper as I read somewhere? And if someone gives me grief what can I do?
thank you

Sep. 22 2008 11:55 AM
Josh Banks from Brooklyn

Ok, here's the truth. Katherine Harris was caught with two CDs, that targeted thousands of poor democratic voters to purge them from the rolls. They ran a program searching for ex-cons to deny them to vote (in itself illegal). it was a search program looking for name matches to get addresses. Instead of looking for %100, or even %80, the program looked up %60 name recognition. So if your name was John Thomas Smith, and there was another John Thomas smith but with a different address and social security number, they both were purged. Thomas smith was purged. They started at %80, and moved to %60 to trap more people. If you want proof read Greg Palast's The Best Democracy Money Can Buy. The CDs were leaked by people in her office.

Also, Katherine Harris was Secretary of State, who is in charge of elections in Florida, and Chairperson of Bush's campaign for the Stae of Florida. If that isn't conflict of Interest, and ripe for fraud, I don't know what is. The Republicans claim rampant voter fraud, yes, they are committing the fraud.

Sep. 22 2008 11:51 AM
barry from Manhattan

What happened to Diabold in this discussion?

Sep. 22 2008 11:51 AM
Marsha Andrews from New York

Susan, I make around $40,000/year and have for the first time donated to a campaign (Obama). Engaging the citizens rather than the government is far more patriotic and helps one feel as if he/she makes a difference. His grass roots organization is much more powerful. The people can speak! Why would he take public financin? You clearly wouldn't want your money going to Obama so why support public financing?

Sep. 22 2008 11:50 AM
Inspector Bucket from Manhattan

To SuzanneNYC:

Gee, you're the name of fairness Brian should discuss the legal representation of ACORN in Chicago in the 1990's by attorney Barack Obama. ..and why those legal filings have never been allowed to be made available and examined.

Sep. 22 2008 11:50 AM
Dan Kaplan from Chelsea

i think it's curious that many republicans think its a violation of the constitution to have to register to buy a guy, but want to force us to register to vote

Sep. 22 2008 11:50 AM
Graham from Paris

Thank goodness Mr. Fund isn't a state or federal prosecutor. If he applied his attitude on voter fraud to convicting and punishing those charged with a crime, I guess his attitude would be---as many prosecutors' opinion _is_ : "Well, maybe a few innocent people _are_ convicted and punished. Oh well. That's a small price to pay to ensure that we get all of the guilty."

And an amazing number of Americans would actually _approve_ such an idea.

Sep. 22 2008 11:49 AM
BL Producer from WNYC Varick St. Studios

[[A few comments have been removed for violating the WNYC posting policy. Please remember to stay civil and productive!

-BL Show-]]

Sep. 22 2008 11:49 AM
SuzanneNYC from Upper West Side

You know every issue does not have two equal sides. Some points of view are better than others. Making a false issue about voter security is just another way to suppress votes. Because this bogus issue is dominating the discussion, your segment is not in any way enlightening -- it merely muddies the water.

Sep. 22 2008 11:48 AM
wladimir from nyc

Who is this wimp from Demos? You don't have to agree that "voter fraud" is a problem though a tiny one!

Emphasize one thing -- we face massive Republican voter fraud -- and say it over and over.

Everyone knows this is true! It has been proven in Florida, Ohio and everywhere!

The fact that the right-wing dinosaurs of the Supreme Court support the Republicans means nothing! If Scalia had his way, universal sufferage would be repealed and slavery reinstituted!

Sep. 22 2008 11:45 AM
Marsha Andrews from New York

How are absentee ballots from Abroad handled? Do they count? I feel Europe and the rest of the world are scratching their heads and don't understand why Obama isn't running away with this election. There are so many peope who want to vote from Europe, Asian, Africa etc.

Sep. 22 2008 11:44 AM
Aaron from Brookyn

If we would get rid of the electoral college, so all Americans votes would be of equal value regardless of which state you reside, a lot of these problems would be eliminated.

Sep. 22 2008 11:44 AM
Dale From Chelsea from New York, NY

Sorry but this system ate the end of the crucial website to register for election protection.

After Election Defense, the rest of the URL is code_orange. Thanks!

Sep. 22 2008 11:42 AM
the truth from Atlanta/New York

No delegates, no super delegates!

Sep. 22 2008 11:42 AM
the truth from Atlanta/New York

One woman, One vote...that is the system we need!

Sep. 22 2008 11:42 AM
SuzanneNYC from Upper West Side

You need to address John Fund's smearing of Obama, Brian. Letting him off the hook with "I asked the question" is totally not enough. Examples can be used to prove anything. Don't let this guy filibuster -- let someone else talk.

Sep. 22 2008 11:42 AM
harmon michaels from jersey city, nj

what exactly do unsupported accusations of voter fraud have to do with people not having their votes counted? good ol' public radio, there's no issue where the republican perspective doesn't deserve consideration, no matter how idiotic, propagandistic and flat-out untrue that perspective may be.
i knew lehrer would have serial liar john fund on.

Sep. 22 2008 11:42 AM
wladimir from nyc

Thank goodness for Brian Lehrer! What would the right wing do without him! The story here is clearly the coordinated effort by Republicans to repress Democratic votes -- it should be a front-page headline on the New York Times -- but good old Brian doesn't mention it! Thank goodness for partisan attacks from John Fund, the disgusting liar (who we know is a sexist and worse), and their support from Brian Lehrer. God forbid that WNYC should provide an alternative view to all the horse manure shoveled by Rupert Murdoch, Roger Ailes and all the rest of the Republican Criminal Family.

Sep. 22 2008 11:41 AM
Amy from Manhattan

In 2004, I did election protection work in Philadelphia with People for the American Way & ACORN. We had to inform people door-to-door about their new voting site, because Republicans had filed 2 weeks before the general election to change it, & somehow the word hadn't gotten out in the low-income neighborhood we were canvassing.

(I just heard Mr. Fund's remarks about ACORN, but I didn't catch the position of the official whose brother did the embezzling. Was it in a local office or at the national level?)

Sep. 22 2008 11:40 AM
Dale From Chelsea from New York, NY

Please sign up to PROTECT YOUR VOTE! Election Defense Alliance has created a website where you can sign up when/if there are elections inconsistencies in your area.

Please sign up and help get this information into the hands of swing state voters. Thank you!!!

Sep. 22 2008 11:39 AM
SuzanneNYC from Upper West Side

More Obama smearing with guilt by association and unsubstantiated charges. You cannot allow this to happen. The issue of voter supression is too important to bring in partisan smears. Don't just sit there and let these innuendos go by un challanged.

Sep. 22 2008 11:39 AM

John Fund is full of it.

Who in their right mind collaborates with Rush Limbaugh?

Sep. 22 2008 11:38 AM
RA from CT

Absented ballots have the greatest potential for voter fraud. When you go to the polls, only you are allowed in the booth. No one is able to check that an absentee ballot is not filled out or influenced by another.

Sep. 22 2008 11:36 AM


1. voting weekends (2 days) so many folks can vote on a day off and religious folks don't have to vote on their particular sabbath.

2. for national elections: make the fri and mon on either side of the voting weekend national days off to accommodate those who need to travel long distances in order to vote? (we have new years off. aren't national elections at least as important?)

Sep. 22 2008 11:36 AM
Inspector Bucket from Manhattan

Thank you, Brian (!) for accurately describing Demos as a "liberal think tank".

You're the man !!

Sep. 22 2008 11:36 AM

what is your SUNY New Paltz comment in reference to, Hugh?

Sep. 22 2008 11:33 AM

what voter fraud? has there been any in recent DECADES??

Sep. 22 2008 11:33 AM
Hugh from Crown Heights

If John Fund can offer anything more than the standard Wall Street Journal editorial page made-up 'facts' to support his claims, I'll eat my hat.

Where's the evidence? (And evidence that's _solid_ unlike Republicon evidence for WMD's etc.)

Sep. 22 2008 11:31 AM
Kai from NYC

Inspector ACORN, et al.,

This is a great system working here. In poor voting districts throughout the US, there have been voter suppression since African Americans have had the right to vote. Most recently in the 2000 and 2004 elections, particluarly in states like OH and FL, thousands of legal voters in areas that tend to vote Democratic were clearly disenfranchised and literally led to a the wrong Presidential candidate getting elected.

It must be said that ACORN's tactics in that singular case are wrong, what is laughable is that there is an assumption that ACORN or anyone other organization will "flooding voting sites with ineligible or unregistered voters." Let me know how you got that information? I have a feeling that if you know so much then those local pols will be on top of this. I know the Republicans usually have a pretty good grasp on how to bar voters.

Sep. 22 2008 11:30 AM

@Ayda: My swearing-in ceremony was 10 months after my interview, so there is a strong possibility that you will not be a US Citizen by election day. You can't (legally) register until you are sworn in.

I missed the 2004 election for the same reason, but if you have a strong interest in the outcome of the election you can join voter registration drives, door-to-door or phone canvassing, and get-out-the-vote initiatives for your chosen party. This will potentially have more impact than your vote alone.

Sep. 22 2008 11:29 AM
Sarah from Manhattan

I went Michigan State University. In my second year of college; I had an apartment in East Lansing, worked in East Lansing and paid taxes in East Lansing. When I went to register to vote I was not allowed because I was a student.

Sep. 22 2008 11:28 AM
jane from hudson valley, NY

We have relatives in Oregon.
They vote by mail!
No voting booths at all.
Just FYI!
(Perhaps someone mentioned this and I didn't here it.)

Sep. 22 2008 11:28 AM
maya from manhattan

how many students can travel home on a given day just to vote??? no, they SHOULD be able to vote where they live... (does that caller mean that OTHER VOTERS who live in towns other than their home towns should go back to their home towns to vote?? I don't think so....)

Sep. 22 2008 11:27 AM
Hugh from Crown Heights

Who's transient? I'm 43, I move every 2 years as my rent becomes unaffordable. So according to the caller and Mr. Lehrer, I should be denied a vote?

Sep. 22 2008 11:27 AM
Janet from Manhattan

Closely related to the topic of this discussion is the subject of the documentary recently shown on HBO, "Hacking Democracy." I am very concerned that computer hackers will determine the election outcome by altering the vote counts. What can we DO ABOUT THIS????

Sep. 22 2008 11:27 AM
J.C. from Minneapolis

Part of the problem is that we're too cheap to pay for a reliable voting system. This is what happens we obsess about taxes too much--we get a dysfunctional democracy.

Also, one possible way to mitigate the electoral college system is to increase the number of members of the House of Representatives (since the Constitution only institutes a minimum--one for each state--and a maximum--one member for 30,000 residents), since that would increase the number of electors and decrease the amount of states with comparatively big electoral vote counts.

Sep. 22 2008 11:26 AM
Hugh from Crown Heights

One caller griping about students has in mind SUNY New Paltz, where active students overthrew a decades-entrenched machine troll.

Sep. 22 2008 11:26 AM
claudia from nyc

how about we institute mandatory voting making it illegal to NOT vote (which they have in Australia) - you'd have to vote one way or another (or abstain) but you MUST participate!

Sep. 22 2008 11:25 AM
bob from huntington

what about the voting machines?

Sep. 22 2008 11:25 AM
shc from Manhattan

About the logistics - as an idea maybe the system should ask for volunteers who get compensated for their time like jurors do, or at least some kind of system that makes it easier and not so frowned upon for serving a patriotic duty.

Sep. 22 2008 11:25 AM
Hugh from Crown Heights

What about New York City issues?

We have machines that date back to the Second World War (or at least, they're very old).

And there have been complaints about distribution of machines in New York, with a disproportionately large number of machine failures in black neighborhoods and areas that go strongly democratic.

Sep. 22 2008 11:24 AM
Eric from B'klyn

Are there any examples of legal findings or convictions for voter fraud ? There have been convictions of voter suppression, notably in New Hampshire

Sep. 22 2008 11:24 AM
r. d. from Inwood

To Kathy #14

That was the case in Florida in 2000(Katherine Harris) and Ohio in 2004 (I think his name was Black, or Blackwell). Both Republican operatives. Foxes in the hen house.

Sep. 22 2008 11:22 AM
Steve (the other one) from Manhattan

Brian - why not challenge Mr. Fund with a few of these (from MediaMatters):

Following are some of the false or unfounded claims in their order of appearance in [Fund's] Stealing Elections.

CLAIM: "[E]very single recount of the votes in Florida determined that George W. Bush had won the state's twenty-five electoral votes and therefore the presidency." (p. 28)

FACT: A post-election study revealed several plausible scenarios in which then-Vice President Al Gore would have won Florida.

CLAIM: The Palm Beach Post found "no more than 108 'law-abiding' citizens of all races who 'were purged from the voter rolls as suspected criminals, only to be cleared after the election." (p. 32)

FACT: The Palm Bach Post reported that "at least 1,100 eligible voters [were] wrongly purged from the rolls before last year's election."

CLAIM: Democrats engaged in fraudulent activities in South Dakota during the 2002 election that led to Democrat Tim Johnson's win. (Chapter 6, pp. 77-94)

FACT: South Dakota's Republican attorney general dismissed the allegations, called affidavits supporting Republican charges "flat false."

Republican/conservatives lies have cost us trillions (Iraq war and various bailouts) and hundreds of thousands of innocent lives ... isn't there a point where these people have to be called out?

Sep. 22 2008 11:22 AM
Brett from Financial Dist, NYC

Why can't we vote on-line? I send my taxes, do my banking...
It seems like allowing voting online would increase voting turnout ten-fold.
Voting booths could also be replaced by $500 PCs.

Sep. 22 2008 11:21 AM
Christopher Deignan from Middle Village, Queens

Where is the shame? I grew up in Ireland, have never missed an election, am a dual citizen and am delighted that the expected large turnout in upcoming presidential election. Where is the outrage among the political classes that the administration of the elections in this country is so poor. And then we have the audacity to talk about exporting democracy abroad? Elections runs smoothly to the best of my knowledge in Ireland and throughout Europe to the best of my knowledge. How far are we away from election monitors, Jimmy Carter visiting polling stations in Ohio? This is a national disgrace. How do we fix it?

Sep. 22 2008 11:18 AM
Dan Primer from Bklyn

I believe that if all these problems are not sorted out soon the USA will split into two
seperate nations

Sep. 22 2008 11:17 AM
shc from Manhattan

Has there ever been any talk about federalizing voting laws, as opposed to keeping it confused and varied among all the 50 states? For the supposed wealth of this nation, it's kind of embarrassing that we're confronted with the problems we have (and then having politicians taking advantage of those weaknesses, but I digress).

Sep. 22 2008 11:16 AM
r. d. from Inwood

It seems that the Republicans -- and I think this has been true for awhile -- cannot win without cheating. They don't have the numbers, they don't have the platform, they don't have the resources to win a fair fight.

Sep. 22 2008 11:15 AM
mark Brown from AND

How can we get a "UN" oversight election commission to oversee all the polls in EVERY state?

Let Jimmy Carter worry about the elections in OUR country for a change.

Sep. 22 2008 11:14 AM
Kathy from Wantagh, NY

There was a story on Weekend edition about the Sec'y of State of Wisconsin, also the Campaign Chairman of the McCain campaign in Wisconsin claiming a lot of registered voters are fraudulent. Isn't that a conflict of interest?

Sep. 22 2008 11:13 AM
mark Brown from AND

# 11:
Yes, it WOULD be illegal to register now
you may not be sworn in as a citizen before election.

#10 correct link: here-- remove space lookie-at-latest_24.html

remove space between "bush- lookie"

Help us.. pray we dont get swept into another
so called Illegal election.

Sep. 22 2008 11:13 AM
Inspector Bucket from Manhattan

OK, here it is....ACORN is planning on flooding voting sites with ineligible or unregistered voters (at least in THAT precinct) who will demand a provisional ballot. ACORN plans to then demand that these votes be counted ... or use it as a pretense for court suits if Obama has lost that district. Look for this to get ugly if Obama doesn't win.

Sep. 22 2008 11:11 AM
MG from Park Slope

If you live in Michigan and your house happens to be in foreclosure, then NO. Your vote will not count. Thanks Rebuli'cons'!!!

Sep. 22 2008 11:10 AM
Lisa from CT

I'm curious about the veracity of a blog I read that stated that the McCain campaign/RNC is pushing to deny the legitimacy of the voter registrations of people who have lost their homes due to foreclosure, under the guise of lack of address confirmation. Of course, it sounds insidious. But does it stray from basic address update requirements of standard voter registration law?

Also, why would either party be allowed to mail out requests for absentee ballots? It opens up the potential for fraud (like the accusation that the McCain campaign mailed them to democrats with incorrect return addresses) - both parties should be restricted from mailing voter forms.

Sep. 22 2008 11:09 AM

I am interviewing to become an American Citizen on OCT 23, after living in the US for over 15 years. i'm very excited about the elections, but realize that I need to register prior..Will it be illegal for me to register now..and if I get my citezenship right before election date, so I can vote???

Sep. 22 2008 11:08 AM
mark Brown from AND

Does my vote count? I still expect (I pray it doesn't happen) that the POTUS may call a national emergency and declare us in a state of emergency. With the sweeping emergency powers
He instituted in May of 2006
We are ALL in danger (link to original post:

Sep. 22 2008 11:07 AM
Hugh from Crown Heights

The Republicans are again doing their best to disenfranchise whole voting segments that tend to vote Democratic.

Once again, a Republican Secretary of State is trying to wipe voters off the rolls. This time in Michigan. The ACLU and others are fighting Terri Lynn Land's rehash of Ohio and Florida.

As for voter fraud, we have yet to see any actual evidence of what the Republicans have been whining is endemic.

Sep. 22 2008 11:04 AM

Fund is this true?

(wording at the core of the Bush bailout scheme)

"Decisions by the Secretary pursuant to the authority of this Act are non-reviewable and committed to agency discretion, and may not be reviewed by any court of law or any administrative agency."

Sep. 22 2008 11:04 AM
CH from Staten Island

I understand the concept of States' Rights (not sure if I can agree with how we pick and choose HOW to wield them though), but for pity sake, WHY, when we are talking about NATIONAL elected officials—esp. POTUS & VP—, why can we not have a single voting system? Why do we continue to follow arcane laws that were sanctioned by the party in power designed to keep it there?

If I decide to retire to Florida from NY, it would be much better if I could depend on the voting system to be uniform at least in regard to election of national offices.

With the recent report of voting standards NOT sufficiently upgraded in 10 states, most of them considered "battleground" it seems to me we owe it to the process to get a substantial number of poll watchers and major media coverage to out these practices.

Sep. 22 2008 10:47 AM

Thanks to the electoral college system, your vote only counts if you live in a battleground state, and if you doubt this, check to see the last time either candidate campaigned in NY or paid attention to our issues. Obama and McCain come here to raise money from Wall Street, which demonstrates why we're in this mess and why we're bailing them out. We need full federal financing of elections so we can count votes instead of dollars. Obama has set us back a generation by his cynical rejection of public campaign financing.

Sep. 22 2008 10:39 AM
Inquiring Minds


Yeah, and pigs can fly too.

"The Acorn Indictments
A union-backed outfit faces charges of election fraud.

Friday, November 3, 2006 12:01 A.M. EST

So, less than a week before the midterm elections, four workers from Acorn, the liberal activist group that has registered millions of voters, have been indicted by a federal grand jury for submitting false voter registration forms to the Kansas City, Missouri, election board. But hey, who needs voter ID laws?"

Acorn ---- Obama ----- buddies

Sep. 22 2008 10:26 AM
Inspector Bucket from Manhattan

Why is Demos called a "voting rights organization" instead of what it really is to all of us who know it....a Left Wing advocacy group?

Sep. 22 2008 10:25 AM
Frances from NYC

"voter fraud" is a fiction invented by Republicans and right-wingers.. the fact is that in all elections millions of votes of mostly Democratic and poor and minority voters across the coutnry get tossed out b/c of faulty equipment (b/c of course the poorer districts have the poor equipment, but nooooooo, in the name of "states rights", we can't have national standards as far as voter equipment so that every vote across the country counts equally..)

In 2000 about SIX MILLION votes in mostly Democratic districts got tossed out, but that received scant coverage in the media, when in fact something like that is a national scandal.. add this to all the voter-intimidation tactics Republicans are always practising in mostly poor districts and you have a MASSIVE disenfranchisement of mostly Democratic and poor voters in this country, but well, that's what they want, isn't it?????

Brian, don't let John Fund get away with BS here.... PLEASE.....

Sep. 22 2008 09:44 AM

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