News Release

Interviews Available: Congressional Elections

GREG PALAST
Author of The Best Democracy Money Can Buy, Palast is featured in the investigative documentary “Counting on Democracy,” which is currently being shown on PBS stations. He said today: “In 2000, Katherine Harris, Florida Secretary of State, ordered county elections officials to purge 57,000 citizens from voter registries as felons not allowed to vote in Florida. In fact, about 95 percent of these voters were innocent of crimes — but 54 percent were guilty of being African-American. Harris and the state admit that tens of thousands of black voters had been wronged, and with plantation noblesse have agreed to return them to the voter rolls — at the beginning of 2003…. In 2000, the 180,000 ‘spoiled ballots’ came overwhelmingly from the blackest, poorest, most Democratic counties. Now, the old dogs of ballot-bending are learning some new tricks. Before resigning to run for Congress, Harris leaned hard on the counties to purchase touch screen voting machines. But not just any machines. Harris first authorized the use of machines by only one company, Election Systems & Software of Omaha…. It was ES&S machines that were used in Florida’s 2002 primaries and were plagued by countless breakdowns. A report by the state Inspector General says that the company ‘bears major responsibility’ for the foul-ups. An ACLU study found that, once again, it was Miami-Dade’s black voters who were disproportionately disenfranchised by ‘lost votes’…. Most troubling of all, some of these practices are going national.”
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WENONAH HAUTER
Director of Public Citizen’s Critical Mass Energy and Environment Program, Hauter said today: “The Bush administration has succeeded in driving issues of corporate power off the national agenda before this election. As a result, not only is the administration not being held accountable for their role in the debacles, but — despite the scandal of telecom and energy deregulation — the administration continues to advocate increased deregulation of these sectors.”
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STEVEN HILL
Hill is senior analyst for the Center for Voting and Democracy and author of the new book Fixing Elections: The Failure of America’s Winner Take All Politics. He said today: “Even before the polls open on Election Day, we can tell you the winners in 76 percent of the races. For all intents and purposes, most House races have been over for months. No wonder that barely a third of adults will bother voting this year. More than 95 percent of incumbents will again cruise to victory, usually by huge margins. Most districts tilt strongly toward one major party or the other, courtesy of the redistricting process. That’s when legislative district lines are redrawn by the dominant political party and manipulated to favor those already in power. We need to join most other modern democracies in transforming our ‘winner take all’ elections. We should break up the single-seat districts and try multi-seat districts elected by a system of proportional representation.”
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For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; David Zupan, (541) 484-9167