Daily Video

October 20, 2008

Voter Fraud and Machine Malfunctions: Possible Election Day Problems

As the country gears up for November 4, election officials are working around the clock to ensure that every vote is counted.

This report looks at past problems in New Mexico, where a missing box of ballots may have thrown an election and a group known as ACORN has been accused of fraudulently registering new voters.

The first seven minutes are from New Mexico, the second seven are a related interview with an election law expert to look at nationwide concerns.

Quotes

“If a machine fails in the course of an election, a voter can still vote. They don’t have to stop or wait or be turned away from the polls, so there are so many advantages to having a paper system over an electronic system.” Maggie Toulouse Oliver, Bernalillo County Clerk

“I fought really hard against the paper ballot system, only because it’s meant — and we knew it would mean — terribly long lines for voters on Election Day and early voting, of course, as well as much — greatly increased chance of losing ballots and hanky-panky with ballots during the counting process.” Justine Fox-Young, State Representative

“I can’t tell you if those are going to be close or not. I can’t tell you that there’s going to be enough fraudulent votes to make a difference, but I can tell you unequivocally there are going to be fraudulent votes cast. And if it’s a close election, it could impact it.” Pat Rogers, Republican Lawyer

“It’s just hysteria that they’re trying to stir up in order to create concern about the election. And it’s a real shame, because the story here is that we should be encouraging all these new voters to vote, and instead they’re trying to cast a shadow on it.” Matthew Henderson, ACORN

“From all of our studies, there’s almost no evidence that fraudulent registration leads to actual election fraud on Election Day, with people pretending they’re Mickey Mouse or Joe Montana and showing up at the polls on Election Day.” Richard Hasen, Loyola Law School

Warm Up Questions

1. What is voter fraud? Name an example.

2. How do election officials try to keep elections fair?

3. Do you think elections in this country are free and fair? Why or why not?

Discussion Questions

1. Did this report surprise you? Why or why not?

2. Do you think it is possible to run something as huge as an election without mistakes? Without fraud?

3. Would you feel secure that your vote is being counted? Why or why not?

4. There is a saying, “vote early and often” that many historians attribute to the notoriously corrupt Chicago politics in the early 20th century. What has changed about election accuracy and accountability between then and now?

5. Talk to the election officials in your community. What are they worried about? Do they think problems with voting machines or voter fraud are big threats?

Additional Resources

Transcript of this report

Video Your Vote Project

2004 Report on Voting Technology

2006 Update on Voting Machines

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