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ANP: Voters Sue Pennsylvania, Election Official Scoffs

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Hi, this is Danielle Ivory at the American News Project in DC. Thanks to Justin Gardner for allowing us to post story items here! We’ll start doing this regularly next week.

Just by way of introduction, the ANP is an independent non-profit video news organization in DC. We produce pieces for the web, but offer all of our content for free to newspapers, blogs, websites, radio, and television so please feel free to embed or share our videos. We see all visitors to our website as potential partners and hope that our community will eventually help fund specific beats, send us news tips and story ideas, and join us as freelancers. Another great site to check out is http://spot.us.

We’re convinced that journalistic collaboration will be essential to the future of news, and so far it’s worked pretty well for us. We’ve worked with McClatchy, The Nation, the Washington Independent, and The Huffington Post on investigative and breaking stories and look forward to more teamwork in the future.

Recently, I’ve been covering voting infrastructural issues for the ANP and found myself in Philadelphia. During the 2008 primary, parts of Pennsylvania (particularly areas with high concentrations of poverty and people of color) experienced major delays due to machine failures, and many voters ended up waiting in line for hours or getting disenfranchised. When I spoke to Philly’s Deputy Commissioner, Fred Voigt, I was startled by a strong sense of institutional inertia, an unwillingness to admit that serious problems exist and, what’s more, that these problems could possibly be fixed with better management and funding. Furthermore, he and the commission (headed by Marge Tartaglione) seemed alarmingly unconcerned about long lines leading to disenfranchisement. We aired a story about this on Monday, featuring this disturbing interview. Since then, the NAACP and the Election Reform Network have filed a lawsuit against the state or Pennsylvania, requesting that paper ballots be made available for the voters of PA in case there are machine breakdowns. ANP’s original story was quoted in the complaint—Voigt’s comments were described as an example of a “woefully inadequate” official response to election problems.

We aired a follow-up yesterday, covering the lawsuit and presenting more of our strange interview with Fred Voigt. I asked Voigt how voters could avoid lines, and gave me another surprising answer.

We’ll continue following this case and the state of voting in Pennsylvania and elsewhere. (If you have ideas or tips, please feel free to email us at contact@newsproject.org.)

ANP: Voters Sue Pennsylvania, Election Official Scoffs

Click here to view our original story.

Click here to view the Voter Action complaint and plaintiffs’ memorandum.