In This Case, No News Is Bad News

As predicted, at this hour both Democrats and Republicans are making allegations of voting irregularities and dirty tricks. Here are a few of the reports we’ve seen so far:

The New Hampshire Democratic Party says unauthorized phone calls are being made by unknown parties advising voters not to bother casting a ballot because John Kerry is already so far ahead.

Republican poll workers in South Dakota have been ordered by a U.S. District Judge to not write down license plate numbers or follow Native Americans from polling places.

Republican poll watchers in Philadelphia say that some voting machines in that city had hundreds of votes on them before the polls opened this morning. (The Associated Press reports “city election officials and the district attorney” said “the poll watcher had gotten it wrong,” but Republicans are threatening to bring the issue to court.)

Voters in Ohio and other states have been targeted with fliers providing incorrect information about when and how people should vote, as well as who is eligible.

Democratic voters in Florida have received phone calls falsely claiming their precincts have been moved.

In Milwaukee, police stated that tires had been slashed on at least 30 cars and vans rented by Republicans for their get-out-the-vote operation.

In Arizona, the Lawyers Committee on Civil Rights filed a complaint with the FBI today against the state Republican Party. Some voters in Tucson allegedly received calls instructing them to vote tomorrow. The caller I.D. led back to the Republican headquarters.

Pretty busy news day, with more charges coming by the minute. But you wouldn’t know it if you’ve just been watching CNN, Fox News, or MSNBC. We’ve been tuned to all three cable news networks, and though we’ve seen a lot of shots of polling places and coverage of politicos like John Kerry, George Bush, and Bill Clinton casting their ballots, we’ve seen very little on issues of voter fraud and suppression. (There are some notable exceptions, including this report from CNN, which was quickly transcribed by a blogger.)

If registered voters are being prevented from voting, that seems like a news story to us. Accurate reports on Election Day shenanigans are important both because they get voters the correct information and because they shine a light on underhanded activities that can be too quickly forgotten in the waves of news that follow an election.

As it stands right now, though, voters have to go to the Internet to get that news.

Brian Montopoli and Zachary Roth

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Brian Montopoli is a writer at CJR Daily.