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Lawyers on watch for US voting breaches -

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Lawyers on watch for US voting breaches

The World Today - Wednesday, 29 October , 2008 12:37:00

ELEANOR HALL: It might be ten years since the voting chaos in Florida, but no one is taking any
chances that about similar problems this time round.

Thousands of lawyers are fanning out across the United States to be on hand if there's the
slightest sign of voting irregularities.

And already in Virginia, a state where the results are expected to be tight, America's peak civil
rights group has already launched legal action, claiming that the state isn't preparing properly
for what's expected to be unprecedented voter turnout.

In Washington, Lisa Millar reports

LISA MILLAR: Millions of Americans have already been voting, many states opening their polling
booths early to avoid what's expected to be a crush on November the 4th. Voting may be voluntary
but the interest in this election is expected to outstrip previous years.

In the state of Georgia black Americans like Patricia Lewis are lining up for hours to cast their
vote.

PATRICIA LEWIS: It's okay, I stand in long lines to shop, six hours to vote, it's nothing.

LISA MILLAR: She's not alone in her determination.

FEMALE VOTER: I vote every election and I couldn't pass this one up. When I think about my dad and
all the struggles that he went through, and for me to vote again is amazing.

LISA MILLAR: Beatrice Lyons is volunteering as a staffer working up to 18 hours a day and she says
she'll work even longer if it means letting so many people vote, many of them for the first time

BEATRICE LYONS: Feel good, make me feel real good. They can just come out, stay all night long,
I'll be right here.

LISA MILLAR: In Virginia which is now a battleground state America's civil rights group the NAACP
(National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) is anticipating trouble.

It's already started legal action claiming the state and its Democratic governor hasn't organized
enough voting machines or staff to operate them.

The executive director of the Virginia NAACP is King Salim Khalfani.

KING SALIM KHALFANI: We need to ensure that there are no shenanigans with this election. We saw
what happened in 2000, and in 2004, and we've said not on our watch in Virginia, we want our people
to be able to vote, and at the numbers that are listed.

LISA MILLAR: Half a million new voters have registered since January and the group wants the state
to cut expected waiting times to vote to 45 minutes or less.

KING SALIM KHALFANI: Re-allocate the equipment and the workers or rent, lease or buy more voting
machines and assign more poll workers to these places.

Virginia unprecedentedly has almost 300,000 more registered voters than we had in 2004, and I would
estimate that a very high majority of them are African-American.

LISA MILLAR: It also wants people to be allowed to vote with pen and paper if the wait for a
machine is going to be too long.

Rayfield Vines is the president of the Virginia NAACP.

RAYFIELD VINES: Because of the spirit of the times, there are a record number of persons who are
going to be voting, and we don't want people to become discouraged because they've got to wait in
line four or five hours in order to vote.

LISA MILLAR: There's no hint when the court hearing will take place but the board of elections has
already rejected the accusations, saying there are 10,500 voting machines in the state, an 86 per
cent increase from 2004.

This might be one of the first lawsuits it's unlikely to be the last.

Barack Obama's team has reportedly organized 6,000 lawyers to head to Florida; a sign of what might
lie ahead.

This is Lisa Millar in Washington for The World Today.