dirty tricks abound in us elections.

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    Video makers watch for dirty tricks.
    By Oliver Burkeman
    New York
    November 2, 2004

    Michael Moore is waging a campaign against voter intimidation.

    Michael Moore is waging a campaign against voter intimidation.
    Photo: Charlie Neibergall

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    Filmmaker Michael Moore has announced a large-scale effort to combat dirty tricks during today's US election by stationing hundreds of people with video cameras outside polling stations.

    "I'm putting those who intend to suppress the vote on notice: voter intimidation and suppression will not be tolerated," said Moore, wading into a controversy in which Democrats accuse Republicans of planning to reduce turnout, especially among ethnic minorities, by employing thousands of people to stop voters at the polls and challenge the validity of their registrations. Moore, the director of the documentary Fahrenheit 9/11, said 1200 professional and amateur video cameramen would descend on polling stations in Florida and Ohio, the two battleground states that have been the focus of the most serious allegations.

    The past few months have seen an unprecedented drive to register new voters, especially in black neighbourhoods of Florida and throughout Ohio. But the new registrations could be deemed invalid as a result of errors made on the forms, from corner-cutting by workers paid to sign people up, or from deliberate fraud.

    In Milwaukee, in the swing state of Wisconsin, Republicans produced a list of 37,000 voters whose addresses they said were questionable.

    They argued that all voters should be required to show identification at the polls, otherwise they would instruct thousands of poll workers to challenge people.

    But Milwaukee's city attorney, who represents no party, said hundreds of addresses on the list had already been confirmed as valid, and local Democrats warned that voters could be disenfranchised simply for failing to include their apartment number as part of their street address.

    Meanwhile, continuing chaos seemed inevitable in Broward County, Florida - home of the notorious "pregnant chads" of the 2000 election - where thousands of voters are likely to end up without a vote after their absentee ballots went missing.

    Some replacement ballots were sent last week by courier, but 2500 were posted at the weekend - and by regular mail.

    Legally, if the voter lives in the US, the ballots must arrive back at Broward County, whether by hand or post, by 7pm tomorrow.

    The US Postal Service told South Florida's Sun-Sentinel it was "really asking a lot" to expect the ballots to reach voters in time. "There's nothing we can do about those," countered Brenda Snipes, Broward's election supervisor. "Those were last-minute requests that just came in this week."

    - Guardian

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