11/23/2004

GAO to investigate election complaints

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The U.S. Government Accountability Office plans to investigate complaints of several systemic problems with this month's elections, a group of Democratic lawmakers said Tuesday.

The investigation comes in response to two letters written by lawmakers to the GAO which address numerous media reports of irregularities in the 2004 vote and call for those to be reviewed.

The GAO said it will not investigate every charge listed by the Democrats, but will examine "the security and accuracy of voting technologies, distribution and allocation of voting machines and counting of provisional ballots."

A spokeswoman for one of the lawmakers requesting an investigation, Rep. John Conyers Jr. of Michigan, said the goal is not to overturn the election results, but rather to improve the mechanics of the voting process.

"We are hopeful that GAO's nonpartisan and expert analysis will get to the bottom of the flaws uncovered in the 2004 election," said a statement released by Conyers and five other members of Congress.

As part of the inquiry, the group said it will provide copies of specific incident reports received in their offices regarding the election, including more than 57,000 complaints provided to the House Judiciary Committee.

Those reports include allegations of computer and voting machine problems that added votes to totals, as well as malfunctions that resulted in votes being thrown out.

"We are literally receiving additional reports every minute," said a November 5 letter from lawmakers to the GAO. "The essence of democracy is the confidence of the electorate in the accuracy of voting methods and the fairness of voting procedures.
"In 2000, that confidence suffered terribly, and we fear that such a blow to our democracy may have occurred in 2004."

Requesting lawmakers in addition to Conyers were Reps. Jerrold Nadler, Louise Slaughter and Gregory Meeks of New York; Robert Wexler of Florida; Robert Scott of Virginia; Melvin Watt of North Carolina; Rush Holt of New Jersey; John Olver of Massachusetts; Bob Filner, George Miller and Barbara Lee of California; and Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin.

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