By Susan Brinkmann, OCDS
Polls had barely opened this morning before voting irregularities began to appear across the nation, from wet ballot forms in Virginia to voter survey forms scattered across a Florida highway to Republican poll watchers being booted from inner city polling stations in Philadelphia.
According to Fox News, GOP election board members known as “poll watchers” were asked to leave polling stations in Philadelphia because of their party affiliation.
Election board members from both parties traditionally monitor and guard the integrity of the voting process and it is a violation of Pennsylvania law to deny access to the minority party (in this case Republican).
“Election board officials guard the legitimacy of the election process and the idea that Republicans are being intimidated and banned for partisan purposes does not allow for an honest and open election process,” said McCain-Palin spokesman Ben Porritt in a statement to Townhall.com.
Voting irregularities are nothing new in the City of Brotherly Love. The city was involved in a controversy during the 2004 election due to rigged voting machines that showed nearly 2,000 votes for Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry before the polls had even opened.
Complaints have also surfaced in predominantly African-American neighborhoods in Philadelphia about fliers being circulated that warned voters they could be arrested at the polls if they had unpaid parking tickets or had criminal convictions.
MSNBC is reporting complaints about the McCain campaign employing push-polling tactics to discourage Jewish voters from voting for Obama by saying the candidate is linked with Hamas. The alleged push-polling, which is a technique used by campaigns to try to influence or alter the view of a voter under the guise of conducting a poll, is supposedly taking place in states with high Jewish populations such as Florida, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Ohio.
CNN is reporting malfunctioning voting machines in Chesapeake, Virginia because of rainy weather. A spokesman for the State Board of Elections said rain-soaked voters are dripping on the paper ballots used in their optical scanning machines which makes the scanner unable to read the ballot.
Election Board officials are encouraging voters to dry off before filling out the ballots. All ballots too wet to be processed are being collected in a bin where they will be left to dry, then processed later by officials.
Complaints also arose in Virginia this weekend about bogus fliers with an authentic-looking commonwealth seal being circulated and telling voters that due to high turn out, the state would hold two elections — one on Tuesday for Republicans and another on Wednesday for Democrats.
The situation in Ohio, the scene of the much publicized voter fraud problems associated with ACORN (Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now), is expected to be tenuous enough that police in Toledo have been ordered to carry riot equipment such as gas masks and helmets on Tuesday and Wednesday. While police will not be stationed at each polling location, all units have been ordered to “patrol” voting sites throughout the city.
One law suit has already been filed by the McCain campain seeking to extend the deadline for federal write-in absentee ballots from service men and women oversees. The current deadline is today, but the suit is seeking to extend the date to Nov. 14.
“Because many counties in Virginia failed to mail absentee ballots in time to our men and women in uniform stationed overseas, service members are being disenfranchised because they are unable to return their ballots before the November 4 deadline,” campaign spokeswoman Gail Gitcho said in a written statement about the suit, which is scheduled to be heard in a courtroom at 1:30 p.m. today.
Chesapeake, Suffolk and Virginia Beach are among the localities cited in the lawsuit as those that mailed absentee ballots overseas in late September. The suit argues that service members didn’t have enough time to cast their votes and return them stateside.
Also in Virginia, reports surfaced this weekend about bogus fliers sporting an authentic-looking commonwealth seal saying that the expected high voter turnout had prompted election officials to hold two elections — one on Tuesday for Republicans and another on Wednesday for Democrats.
Another disturbing problem arose on Interstate 4 in Tampa, Florida where hundreds of voter survey forms were found on the shoulder of the road.
According to TampaBay.com, the forms were discovered at around 4:15 a.m. today and contain the names of Tampa residents, their party affiliation, age, sex, home addresses and some phone numbers. Each entry also includes an option to show whether the voter supports John McCain or Barack Obama, and check boxes to mark whether the person voted or needs a ride to the polls on Election Day.
“It was apparently boxes of surveys that fell off a truck,” said Kris Carson, a spokeswoman for the Florida Department of Transportation.
The papers, which filled nine large garbage bags when cleaned off the road, may have belonged to the Democratic Party. Michael Steinberg, chairman of the Hillsborough County Democratic Executive Committee, said the information appears to have been generated by a software program used by the Democratic Party called Vote Builder.
However, “Everyone uses the same forms. I can’t tell whether the list belonged to Obama, the Florida Democratic Party or our organization,” he said.
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