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Last Updated: Monday, 1 November, 2004, 13:40 GMT
An African observer's view of the US polls
Kwesi Addae from Ghana is part of a team sent to the United States by a group campaigning for social justice, Global Exchange, to observe the conduct of the elections. But as he tells BBC News from Columbus, Ohio, Americans can respond badly to being advised on their system by Africans.

Kwesi Addae
Some people say African observers should not be there
"Many people here in America think people coming from the Third World have nothing to offer.

The US believes they are the best in everything and no one else has the right to see what is going on.

But after Florida in the last election, the whole world began to be interested.

I was in the hotel lift when somebody saw my tag. That person told us: 'Your presence here is very offensive'.

The most difficult thing in the political world is an American election! It cannot be a model.
Peter Galimoto, Malawian in UK

We are not here to find fault or criticise.

The US has been involved in foreign elections - there ought to be reciprocity, a sharing of expertise.

'No confidence'

The chief election officer of South Africa was in St Louis, Missouri. A press man was very rude to her... She said she wouldn't take part again.

America has a very wonderful democracy but their election system is a great cause for concern.

Bush supporters in Coconut Grove, Florida
Addae fears a constitutional crisis, if there is no clear winner
Many of the irregularities that contributed to the constitutional crisis in 2000 are being repeated in 2004, not only in Florida but in several other states.

There are three problems that appear to be feeding controversy and undermining public confidence in the upcoming elections:

  • The potential for disproportionate disenfranchisement of minority and poor voters.

  • The apparent unreliability of computer voting machines being used in some states and consequent lack of security of millions of votes recorded on such machines.

  • Partisan administration of the electoral process. In the US, most top election administrators are party members and elected officials, a situation that engenders the perception of conflict of interest.

    Secondly, many of the people we spoke to either in their personal capacities or as representatives of certain identifiable groups have said they fear that if there is no clear winner on 2 November, the constitutional crisis that may result from claims and counter-claims would be worse than in 2000.

    The king would have been exposed as stark naked after pretending to be in some splendid clothes for so long
    Kwesi Addae, election observer
    They have said that this would be because these problems that had been swept under the rug for several decades are now being brought out into the open.

    Thirdly, and from an African perspective, we would be inclined to conclude that unless efforts are made to remove irregularities to allow for transparent free and fair election results in 2004, the US would be judged by the international community as no different from many African and other countries around the world.

    Countries where there has been partisan manipulation of voting procedures to achieve desired results.

    The king would have been exposed as stark naked after pretending to be in some splendid clothes for so long.

    On election day, no observer is allowed into the polling station... except in Missouri.

    We will be allowed to stand 100 feet away from the polling stations.

    We will be talking to the voters... we will look out for any attempts to stop them from voting."


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