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African Observer Recalls 2004 Election Concerns, As US Voters Go to the Polls

During the 2004 elections in the United States, a number of Africans came here to observe the polls. One of them was Justice Bekebeke, who was in the southern state of Florida in Dade County. He’s currently the provincial electoral coordinator in South Africa’s Northern Cape. Bekebeke tells VOA English to Africa Service reporter Joe De Capua the problems he saw in 2004.

“The first one was a lack of control over the distribution of absentee ballots. During that period I think close to 58,000 of the absentee ballots went missing. People didn’t know exactly where they were and chances of fraud were quite high.

The second issue that we also observed was the lack of paper audit trails. You know, when you have these electronic voting if anything goes incorrect people need at least to have a paper trail where they can go back and scrutinize and see whether indeed if there are allegations of impropriety,” he says. He adds that South Africa is not ready for electronic voting machines.

The third area of concern was ex felons, who were not allowed to vote. Bekebeke says he found that to be “very problematic, especially being a South African.” He says, “The majority of our leaders were in prison.”

He says he understands the attack ads in US politics stem from the importance of the elections, but adds that the United States could set a better example for other countries.