The British Helsinki Human Rights Group monitors human rights and democracy in the 57 OSCE member states from the United States to Central Asia.
* Monitoring the conduct of elections in OSCE member states.
* Examining issues relating to press freedom and freedom of speech
* Reporting on conditions in prisons and psychiatric institutions

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Florida Revisited: US midterm elections 2002
HITS: 2002 | 29-11-2002, 09:49 | Comments: (0) | Categories: United States , Elections, Analyzing

The election seemed at best sloppy, so much so that even elections BHHRG has monitored in “pariah” states of the ex-Communist bloc compared favorably in terms of cleanliness and order.  Furthermore, turnout by BHHRG’s observation was lower than reported.  Even if the large figures for early voting in some south Florida regions were correct (approx. 25% for Miami-Dade County, 20% for Broward County), the stream of voters going to the polls on polling day itself never appeared to exceed a trickle.  As already noted, at one polling station, BHHRG waited almost twenty minutes for a voter to even show up.  A report from The Miami Herald on Nov. 6th claims that Broward County’s initially reported turnout figure had to be “corrected” from 35% to 45% after it was discovered that the new voting machines had made an error – 104,000 ‘missing’ votes suddenly appeared.  But from what BHHRG could see, the 35% figure was closer to reality.

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The US Midterm Election 2002
HITS: 9705 | 29-11-2002, 09:39 | Comments: (0) | Categories: United States , Politics, Elections

Florida state law specifies that the only persons allowed inside the polling stations while voting is taking place are:
The Supervisor of Elections or the Deputy Supervisor of Elections (county officials who are the equivalent of regional or district election commission chairmen)
Clerk and Assistant Clerks (equivalent of precinct election commission chairman and deputies)
Inspectors (precinct election commission workers who verify identity and authorize voters to receive ballots)
Poll Deputies (civilian officials who maintain order around the polling station)
Poll watchers (equivalent of election observers)
Poll watchers must be certified by the Supervisor of Elections and must be designated by a candidate, political party, or “political committee.”

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US midterm elections: Political demographics and redistricting
HITS: 1935 | 29-11-2002, 09:28 | Comments: (0) | Categories: United States , Elections, Political leaders

Florida has perhaps witnessed more controversy than any other state in America on the issue of redistricting, the process of redrawing the boundaries of legislative districts due to population changes (see Lucy Morgan, “Redistricting squabbles a sign of fights to come,” St. Petersburg Times, June 22, 2002). An editorial from the Naples Daily News from July 2002 reads as follows:
We wondered who Florida lawmakers were listening to when they carved the state into new U.S. House districts.
Actually, we did know. They were listening to friends in high political places — Florida’s big cities and Washington. We were asking rhetorically, because we knew lawmakers were not listening to Southwest Florida constituents who wanted to stick together.

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US midterm elections: New Voting Systems
HITS: 2188 | 29-11-2002, 09:19 | Comments: (0) | Categories: United States , Foreign media, Politics

The new iVotronic voting system in use in Miami-Dade County and other areas of Florida was produced by Omaha, Nebraska-based Election Systems & Software (ES&S). In 2001, ES&S received an order from various counties in Florida for $70.6 million to provide the new system. Of this sum, Miami-Dade County paid $24.5 million, while neighboring Broward County paid $18 million. A group called, appropriately, the Florida Association of Counties lobbied for ES&S before the Florida legislature after endorsing ES&S’s touch-screen iVotronic machines, receiving a commission of $300,000 from ES&S in return. The chief lobbyist for ES&S in the deal was Sandra Mortham, who served as Florida’s top election official from 1995-99 and founded “Women for Jeb” (Bush). Some local officials have suggested that Mortham’s actions exhibited a conflict of interest.

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An account of the US midterm elections: The ghost of 2000
HITS: 1930 | 29-11-2002, 09:10 | Comments: (0) | Categories: United States , Politics, Elections

Haitians demonstrating outside Miami's Immigration & Naturalization Service building in Little Haiti on the night of 4th November 2002
During the 2000 US election, international news media – particularly US media outlets such as CNN, CBS, etc. – were unable to announce a winner on the night of polling day, reportedly because the result was “too close to call.” To some extent, the US media’s tradition of “calling” elections when only a fraction (sometimes as low as 3%) of votes has been counted did indeed contribute to the embarrassing spectacle in the world’s largest Western democracy, since the hullabaloo surrounding the close finish in Florida intensified an already chaotic situation. The practice of “exit polls” has been standard for television news networks for decades, and journalist Lynn Landes of has speculated on a link between vote-rigging in America and the computerization of election outcome predictions from 1964 onward (see “Election Night Projections – Cover for Vote-Rigging Since 1964?” Dissident Voice, Sept. 23, 2002). The acceptance by election officials of predicted outcomes also meant that the laborious task of counting postal ballots was dumped in some states up to and including 2000 because it was decided that they could not influence the predicted outcome where sufficiently wide anticipated margins based on exit polls and partial counts already existed. This meant that exact results including hand-filled early/postal ballots were often not provided.

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Florida Revisited: An account of the US midterm elections
HITS: 1868 | 29-11-2002, 08:55 | Comments: (0) | Categories: United States , Politics, Elections

BHHRG visited Florida to see whether the conduct of the 2002 midterm elections would represent an improvement on the 2000 presidential poll.
Executive Summary
America held mid-term elections on 5th November, 2002. A third of the Senate and the whole House of Representatives were up for re-election as were 36 state governorships. At the same time, many states held referendums on a raft of local issues as well as elections for school boards.
The elections attracted much attention – both in the US and worldwide. For example, it was the first US election to be observed by a team of monitors from the OSCE/ODIHR, presumably because it presented the first opportunity to scrutinize the US system since the much-derided presidential election of 2000. The elections were also widely viewed as a referendum on President Bush’s ‘war against terror’ as well as providing the administration in Washington with a possible mandate for a future war with Iraq.

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