In 2004, the US presidential election raised concerns about voting irregularities in certain communities. Since then, a number of organizations have been working on bringing election irregularities to light, with a view to fixing them. One of those groups is Demos, a pro-democracy policy center based in New York. The president of Demos, Miles Rapoport, talked with VOA English to Africa Service reporter Angel Tabe, who asked him to describe some of the problems. He said, “Problems which need to be investigated and prosecuted are specific and conscious attempts to discourage voting by putting up misleading information, calls to people’s houses [and] persistent reports of that throughout the country, throughout the day.” Rapoport also blamed the problems on what he called an unqualified election administration that could not keep accurate voting lists and poll workers who he said could not properly operate electronic machines.
While noting that the administrative problems are not partisan in nature, Rapoport condemned intimidation by party sympathizers, calling it “really a blot on our democracy, especially as it disadvantages specific communities. He said, “There is a tendency to target poor communities and communities of color, where people may have less experience voting or [may have] felony convictions, and people have…preyed on those issues.”
Rapoport urged today’s new Congress to work with the president in investing in the country’s entire election system. “Our democracy is precious and needs to be invested in.”
Yesterday’s elections were followed by a number of international observers. Rapoport says that speaks volumes. “The fact that people all around the world are watching ought to send a very strong message to our country’s leaders that this is an area of life that needs real attention. It’s an irony that the strongest promoter of democracy all around the world still has problems getting it right in our own country.”
And to those African countries rushing to procure electronic voting machines – not yet, he said. Rapoport suggested waiting “until there is widespread consensus that the machines are reliable [and] cannot be tampered with.”