Washington, D.C. – Democratic National Committee (DNC) Chairman Terry McAuliffe and Voting Rights Institute Chair Donna Brazile announced today that the DNC will conduct a comprehensive investigative study of key election practices and issues surrounding the 2004 general election in Ohio. The purpose of this study is not to contest the results of the election but to fulfill the Democratic Party's commitment to ensuring that every eligible voter can vote and that every vote cast, is counted.
"A record number of Americans participated in the 2004 election, especially in Ohio. We owe it to the people who waited hours to vote, who voted for the first time or have voted in every election to understand what happened and what can be done in the future to ensure every voter's rights are protected," DNC Chairman Terry McAuliffe said. "We've come a long way since Florida in 2000, but we still have work to do. We must do more as a nation and as a political party to keep voting rights and election reform on the front burner. To that end, I am announcing that the Democratic National Committee - after consulting with our Voting Rights Institute leadership and staff, party activists, supporters, elected officials and others - will conduct a thorough investigation into various election administration issues that arose in the state of Ohio in the 2004 election."
"The Voting Rights Institute and the Democratic Party stand on the principle that, regardless of whether we win or they win, every vote should be counted and every voter should have a voting experience free of hassles and intimidation regardless of where they live," VRI Chair Donna Brazile said. "This investigation will not only examine the issue of counting every vote, but seek to answer such questions as why so many people had to wait in line in certain Ohio precincts and not others? Why weren't there enough machines in some counties and not others? Why were so many Ohioans forced to cast provisional ballots? The goal of this investigative study is to get answers that we can use to help implement and advocate reforms in the future."
The DNC investigative study will examine the legitimate questions and concerns that have been raised in Ohio and will develop factual information which will be critically important in crafting further necessary election reforms. Specifically, the investigation will seek to address questions surrounding the issues of adequate voting resources (machines, pollworkers, etc), the high number of provisional ballots – valid and invalid – as compared with other states, anomalies in the reported results as compared with exit polls, historical data, and reported anomalies within counties and precincts and whether the touch-screen machines and tabulating systems functioned properly.
To address these questions and more, the DNC, at its own expense, will assemble a top-flight team of recognized experts to be named at a later date including:
This team will be supported by DNC and state party staff, consultants who were deeply involved in the election effort in Ohio, Ohio attorneys and the DNC legal team. McAuliffe announced that he had reached out to local Democratic elected officials in Ohio and they expressed strong support for the project and promised to cooperate in anyway that they could.
"We are launching this comprehensive investigative study not to contest the results of the 2004 election, but again to help ensure that every eligible vote cast is truly counted. This study will address the legitimate questions and concerns that have been raised in Ohio. Our goal is to understand and report back on what happened and why," said Chairman McAuliffe.
As soon as the team is named, it is anticipated the investigation will begin immediately and a full report will be issued in the spring.