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June 11, 2001 - Image 8

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Publication:
Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 2001-06-11

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8- The Michigan Daily - Monday, June 11, 2001

COMMISSION
Continued from Page 1
Christopher Thomas' testimony, Thomas was asked how the
state prevented non-citizens from voting. When registering to
vote, he said, voters must swear an oath that they are citizens
and can be prosecuted if they attempt to vote. To his knowl-
edge, the state has not brought charges against anyone in
recent years for swearing falsely to the oath.
Ford then asked, "You mean in the whole state of Michigan
no one tried to vote who wasn't an American citizen?"
"Does it happen? Yeah, I'm sure it does," Thomas respond-
ed, adding that the incidence of this is minimal and there is no
evidence that it has been happening.
During the third panel, Columbia University Journalism
Prof. Joan Konner, who oversaw CNN's examination of its
election-night coverage, criticized the use of the various news

networks' reliance on the Voter News Service.
VNS is a conglomeration of the major networks and takes
exit polls to determine the outcome of elections soon after
they are over.
CNN's actions during the night included initially calling the
state of Florida for Al Gore, subsequently retracting the call,
calling Florida for then-Texas Gov. George W. Bush, and
finally retracting that call as well.
Konner said the night's problems were a result of VNS'
near-monopoly on exit-polls combined with the networks
competition in analyzing the data and wanting to be the first
to call the election.
"There is no evidence that poll results in one state affect
turnout in another state," Konner also remarked. Some Repub-
licans believe the networks' early call for Gore persuaded
many in the GOP to lose hope and not show up to the polls in
other states, several of which ended up very close.

The hearing, during which whispers and quiet banter were fre-
quent, was brought to silence during the testimony of Jim Dick-
son, vice president of the National Organization on Disabilitys
Dickson, who is blind and was led into the room with the assi
tance of his seeing-eye dog, testified to the difficulties many
disabled people face when voting. Dickson led the successful
drive to have the Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorial in Washing-
ton, D.C. depict the former president in a wheelchair.
"One-fourth of polling places President Roosevelt could 01
enter," Dickson said, noting many polling places are not hand-
icapped-accessible.
A discussion of a telephone menu-like voting system for the
blind ensued after Dickson noted blind people almost alway'
need assistants to fill out their ballots. 4
"I am blind. I have never cast a secret ballot," he said.
The meeting was the last of four public hearings of the com-
mission.

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