- The Government Accountability Office said Tuesday it
will investigate how the vote was counted in the Nov. 2 election, with
an eye toward answering persistent questions about voting irregularities
in many states, including Ohio and Florida, which were crucial to President
- The irregularities include machines failing to record
votes or recording them inaccurately, as well as problems with the way
officials counted provisional ballots, which were provided to voters whose
names didn't appear on voting lists but who contended they were eligible
to participate in the election.
- Congress' investigative agency cautioned, however, that
it isn't authorized to take action if irregularities are found.
- GAO spokeswoman Susan Becker said the investigation isn't
a direct response to a recent request by several Democratic members of
the House, who asked the GAO to investigate. The GAO was already planning
to look at systemic issues related to the elections process after the Nov.
2. election. But given the concern expressed by more than a dozen members
of Congress and many voters, the GAO will look at some of the specific
problems reported. These include complaints by some voters who said they
used touch-screen voting machines that recorded votes for candidates they
- The GAO also will examine distribution and allocation
of voting machines, since there have been reports in Ohio that some precincts
didn't have enough machines to handle the number of people who turned out
- "We are pleased that the GAO has reviewed the concerns
expressed in our letters and has found them of sufficient merit to warrant
further investigation," said Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-New York) on his
website. "We are hopeful that GAO's nonpartisan and expert analysis
will get to the bottom of the flaws uncovered in the 2004 election."
- To aid the GAO's inquiry, the legislators will provide
copies of specific incident reports their offices received, including more
than 57,000 complaints that they already have provided to the House Judiciary
- "We are literally receiving additional reports every
minute," lawmakers said in their letter 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."
- GAO's Becker said the agency doesn't have a date yet
by which it will complete its investigation, but it is highly unlikely
that a report will be completed before members of the Electoral College
meet Dec. 13 to cast their presidential votes.
- The GAO investigation is not being conducted with any
expectation of altering the election outcome. Most counties across the
country have already certified their election results, and a deadline for
requesting a recount in Florida passed Tuesday. Two candidates, from the
Green and Libertarian parties, have requested a recount in Ohio, but a
judge ruled this week that the recount cannot begin until after the state
certifies its results Dec. 6. Bush beat Democratic challenger John Kerry
by 136,000 votes in Ohio, according to the state's unofficial count. A
partial recount of some New Hampshire precincts has so far shown a difference
of only about 15 votes from the original count.
- Will Doherty, executive director of the Verified Voting
Foundation, said his group was very pleased with the GAO's decision to
investigate the election, in light of the more than 900 reports his organization
received on election night.
- "We received reports about problems with e-voting
machines that spanned across all voting machine vendors and many locations
around the United States," Doherty said. "If the GAO is able
to confirm that there were incredible variety of problems with virtually
every type of e-voting machine, then that lays the groundwork for dialogue
with election officials to change election processes, improve voting technology
and update election regulations."
- - The Associated Press contributed to this story
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