With one day until the presidential elections, reports are coming in across the country of efforts to confuse, intimidate and discourage voters from going to the polls. Ion Sancho, the supervisor of elections in Leon County in Florida, told the Washington Post, “In my 16 years as an election administrator, I’ve never seen anything like this.” In Florida thousands of students have learned that not only was their party registration switched to Republican but their home address was changed without their knowledge. This means that when they show up to vote at their local precinct, their names won’t appear on the voting rolls. In Pittsburgh, fliers were handed out on what looked like county letterhead that claimed voting had been extended an extra day “due to immense voter turnout expected on Tuesday.” The fliers said Republicans should vote on Tuesday and Democrats should vote on Wednesday. In Wisconsin fliers purportedly from the a group calling itself the “Milwaukee Black Voters League” told voters, “If you’ve already voted in any election this year, you can’t vote in the presidential election, If you violate any of these laws, you can get ten years in prison and your children will get taken away from you.” In South Carolina, a letter purportedly from the NAACP warned voters they can not vote if they have outstanding parking tickets or have failed to pay child support.
Meanwhile in Ohio, a pair of civil rights activists have filed a lawsuit to block the Republicans from challenging the eligibility of any voters at the polls tomorrow. The couple, Marian and Donald Spencer, said the Republicans are basing the challenges on a law dating back to the Jim Crow era that was originally aimed at disenfranchising black voters.
In Georgia’s Atkinson County, the Republicans attempted to challenge the voting eligibility of 78 percent of the county’s registered Latino voters. But on Thursday the Board of Registrars dismissed the Republican complaint. The county attorney said, “The challenges … are legally insufficient because they are based solely on race.”
The Guardian of London is reporting filmmaker Michael Moore has announced plans to send 1,200 videographers to polling stations in Florida and Ohio tomorrow. Moore said, “I’m putting those who intend to suppress the vote on notice: voter intimidation and suppression will not be tolerated.”
The newly formed Election Assistance Commission officially announced yesterday that the country will likely have 500,000 fewer poll workers than needed for tomorrow’s elections. The Commission called on businesses to allow employees take the day off from work so they could work at the polls.
In news from Iraq, dozens have died in another bloody weekend of fighting. U.S. forces suffered their deadliest day in six months on Saturday when nine Marines were killed. Eight of the Marines died in a suicide car bombing near Fallujah.
Earlier today Baghdad’s deputy governor Hatem Kamil Abdul Fatah was killed in a drive-by shooting.
Yesterday in Tikrit a rocket attack killed at least 15.
On Saturday a car bombing exploded outside the Arabic satellite tv station Al-Arabiya. Seven people died and 18 were injured. It was the deadliest attack to date on a media outlet in Iraq. An Iraqi resistance group calling itself the 1920 Brigades blasted the Saudi-owned station as a “treacherous network” that was run by “Americanized spies speaking in Arabic tongue.” Also on Saturday, Iraqi security forces killed 14 Iraqis south of Baghdad.
The U.S.-appointed Prime Minister Iyad Allawi warned that a full attack on Fallujah will begin soon. Meanwhile leaders of the Iraqi resistance threatened to use chemical weapons to defend the city. Rebel commanders said chemicals such as cynanide have been added to mortar rounds and missiles. In other Iraq news, the Pentagon has extended the Iraq tours of duty for 6500 more soldiers.
On Friday, Al Jazeera aired portions of a new address by Osama Bin Laden in which he took credit for the first time for carrying out the Sept. 11 attacks. He also cited the U.S.-backing of Israel during the invasion of Lebanon in 1982 as another reason for his actions. Bin Laden said “Your security is not in the hands of Kerry, Bush or al-Qaida. Your security is in your own hands… Any state that does not mess with our security has naturally guaranteed its own security.” On the campaign trail, Senator John Kerry again criticized President Bush for failing to capture Bin Laden in Tora Bora. Kerry accused Bush of making the mistake of outsourcing the attack to Afghan warlords instead of using US troops. The Bush camp gave a mixed response to the Bin Laden tape. One member of the team described the tapes as a “gift” to the campaign. Political analysts said it is uncertain whether Kerry or Bush will benefit from this so-called October surprise.
Reuters is reporting the Bush administration will seek to unseat Mohamed ElBaradei from his post as the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency if Bush wins tomorrow’s election. ElBaradei, who was considered a frontrunner to win this year’s Nobel Peace Prize, has been at odds with the Bush administration for years. Now the White House is accusing ElBaradei of meddling in the U.S. elections because the IAEA reported last week that 377 tons of explosives had gone missing at a Iraqi military base that the U.S. failed to secure. The missing explosives have become a major issue of debate over the last week. The Associated Press is now reporting that as much as 250,000 tons of munitions may be missing in Iraq. Over the weekend, Human RIghts Watch announced that it had warned the Bush administration about securing the explosives at Al-Qaqaa. Meanwhile the Boston Globe is reporting that UN weapons inspectors attempted to enter Iraq after the invasion to monitor Iraqi weapons sites but were blocked by the U.S.-led coalition.
In Israel, four people died today in a suspected suicide bombing in Tel Aviv. 30 more people were injured in the blast. The attack occurred in the city’s central Carmel market.
Yesterday the executive committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization met for the first time in over 30 years without its leader Yasser Arafat. Arafat is in France receiving medical care. Aides to Arafat say he is now in stable condition and that he does not have a life threatening condition. Doctors said it does not appear that he has leukemia.
Haaretz is reporting that a total of 165 Palestinians were killed in the West Bank and Gaza in October making it the deadliest month for Palestinians since April 2002.
In Afghanistan, the Taliban has threatened to kill three United Nations workers held hostage.
And the 2003 Nobel Peace Prize winner Shirin Ebadi is suing the U.S. government in an attempt to overturn a law that is barring the Iranian attorney from publishing her memoirs here. This according to a report in the Wall Street Journal. Under a trade embargo, the U.S government bars the publication of new works by authors from Iran, Cuba and Sudan. Ebadi said the restrictions “seem to defy the values the United States promotes throughout the world which always include free expression and the free exchange of ideas.”