Filmmaker Michael Moore has announced a large-scale effort to combat dirty tricks during Tuesday's election by stationing hundreds of people with video cameras outside polling stations.
"I'm putting those who intend to suppress the vote on notice: Voter intimidation and suppression will not be tolerated," Moore said in a statement, wading into a controversy in which Democrats accuse Republicans of trying to reduce turnout, especially among ethnic minorities, by employing thousands of people to stop voters at the polls and challenge the validity of their registrations.
Moore, the director of the documentary "Fahrenheit 9/11," said 1,200 professional and amateur videographers would descend on polling stations in Florida and Ohio, the two battleground states that have been the focus of the most serious allegations. The last few months have seen an unprecedented drive to register new voters, especially in black neighborhoods of Florida and throughout Ohio. But the new registrations could be deemed invalid as a result of errors made on the forms, from corner cutting by workers paid to sign people up or from deliberate fraud.
In Milwaukee, in the swing state of Wisconsin, Republicans produced a list of 37,000 voters whose addresses they said were questionable. They argued that all voters should be required to show identification at the polls Tuesday; otherwise they would instruct thousands of poll workers to challenge people.
But Milwaukee's city attorney, who represents no party, said hundreds of addresses on the list had already been confirmed as valid. Still, local Democrats warned that voters could be disenfranchised simply for failing to include their apartment number as part of their street address. Meanwhile, continuing chaos seemed inevitable in Broward County, Fla. -- home of the notorious "pregnant chads" of the 2000 election -- where thousands of voters are likely to end up without a vote after their absentee ballots went missing. Some replacement ballots were sent last week by courier, but 2,500 were mailed only this past weekend -- by regular mail.
Legally, if the voter lives in the United States, the ballots must arrive back at Broward County, whether by hand or by post, by 7 p.m. Tuesday. The U.S. Postal Service told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel it was "really asking a lot" to expect the ballots to reach voters in time. "There's nothing we can do about those," countered Brenda Snipes, Broward's election supervisor. "Those were last-minute requests that just came in this week."
More widespread problems could result from a nationwide shortage of at least half a million election workers, the U.S. Election Assistance Commission said Sunday. It has asked businesses to give volunteers a day off work so that they can help operate polling stations and count votes. "If the criminal justice system didn't have access to jurors, the criminal justice system wouldn't exist. Poll workers are just as important as jurors," said DeForest Soaries Jr., the commission's chairman.
Around the country, scattered reports of suspicious campaigning activities continued to surface. In North Carolina, Republican Party officials distanced themselves from a Washington-based group, the College Republican National Committee, which was reported to have been targeting elderly people with confusing fundraising calls, prompting several to give money without knowing how much, or to whom, they had donated.
Across the border in South Carolina, the Democratic Party said a letter was circulating that wrongly informed voters that they could be arrested at the polls if they had outstanding parking tickets or child-support payments.