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Government watchdog to investigate election

Lawmakers ask GAO to answer questions lingering from November election about e-voting technology and other issues.

The Government Accountability Office, the investigative arm of the U.S. Congress, will investigate anomalies in the November election at the request of five Democratic representatives.

In two letters, sent Nov. 5 and Nov. 8, Reps. John Conyers Jr., D-Mich., Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., and Robert Wexler, D-Fla., asked that the GAO investigate various complaints about election machine technology and procedural issues preventing some votes from being counted. Two other members of the House of Representatives, Robert Scott, D-Va., and Rush Holt, D-N.J., signed the Nov. 8 letter.

"On its own authority, the GAO will examine the security and accuracy of voting technologies, distribution and allocation of voting machines, and counting of provisional ballots," the five members of the House said in statement Tuesday. "We are hopeful that GAO's nonpartisan and expert analysis will get to the bottom of the flaws uncovered in the 2004 election."

The lawmakers provided to the GAO some 57,000 incident reports that had been received by the House Judiciary Committee.

While most observers have concluded that election technology performed reasonably well in the last election, a variety of anomalies have cropped up. In Ohio, President Bush received a boost of some 4,000 votes in the preliminary tallies due to a transmission error. Data from Florida has raised eyebrows and led to at least one analysis that claimed the result of voting there is statistically implausible.

The congressmen asked the GAO to move quickly while there was still evidence from the election to analyze.

"There is substantial concern that much of the primary evidence needed to evaluate these allegations will not be preserved without immediate action," the representatives argued in the Nov. 8 letter.

Eight other members of the House of Representatives gave their support to the GAO request as well, the congressmen said in their statement.