Friday, November 12, 2004
"Across Ohio's minority-rich cities, there were fewer voting machines than during past elections, including March's presidential primary. As the number of voters grew by as much as 50 percent in some precincts, according to pro-Kerry field organizers, the number of voting machines on Election Day shrank by a third. Precincts that usually had five machines only had three.
The lack of voting machines was a disaster.
'I don't think this story has been told,' said Miles Gerety, a public defender from Bridgeport, Conn., who went to Ohio as a legal observer and discovered this trend by overhearing elderly voters talk about fewer machines. 'The press and election protection people weren't looking for this. They were looking for poll challenges. But this is the perfect way to suppress the vote.' The shortage of voting machines didn't just create long lines. It kept thousands of new and longtime voters from casting ballots in the state's minority communities -- the Democratic strongholds. The accounts of people who had to leave the polls for work or family obligations were everywhere. But on Election Day, very few Democrats realized this was happening. They just saw long lines." ....
Protecting the right to vote is the heart of the federal Voting Rights Act. If fewer voting machines were put in African-American precincts, on a per capita basis, than were placed in the county’s whiter suburbs—and that prevented African-Americans from voting—that would violate the Voting Rights Act.
"If this was planned and systematic and not accidental, it would be a violation," Gerety said. "If this was a means of disenfranchising African-American voters, it’s a clear violation."