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15 Jan, 2008 03:30

Fraud row hangs over U.S. primaries

Voters in the U.S. state of Michigan are set for the Republican primary on Tuesday, as a row over the last primary rumbles on. Mitt Romney and John McCain are the favourites in Michigan, with Mike Huckabee further back.

Michigan moved up its primary date in an effort to have more of an impact on the race. For violating the rules, Michigan was punished by the Democratic National Committee and its delegates won't be counted in the nominating process.

One issue Michigan is keen to avoid is the voting row in New Hampshire, where an independent group has found evidence of fraud.

80 per cent of the votes there were counted by machines, the remaining 20 per cent by hand. The machines found Hillary Clinton defeated Barack Obama by about five per cent, but the hand count reversed the margin.

In Michigan, Barak Obama and John Edwards have taken their names off the ballot as a result of the rules violation, so Hillary Clinton and Dennis Kucinich will battle it out.

Dennis Kucinich has been encouraging politicians in the U.S. to improve relations with Russia.

“I'm talking about broad economic reforms, I'm talking about changing the U.S. policy towards Russia. I think it is very aggressive, and that we should work co-operatively with Russia. I think the U.S. should stop interfering into internal affairs of Russia,” he said.

Dennis Kucinich called for a recount of Democratic and Republican Party votes in New Hampshire. At his request and following allegations of voter fraud, state officials will conduct a hand recount of the votes. Kucinich said that while he doesn't think this will change the outcome of the primary, it could be a powerful statement.

“Americans doubt the integrity of our election system. I'm doing it so that we could do one of two things: we can either put all the stories away and say 'OK, the election was fine' or we have reforms which protect people from machines that don't work,” he said.
Kucinich received less than 1.4% of the vote in New Hampshire.

Exit polls had predicted Barak Obama as the winner. Results also showed that Obama was indeed in the lead in hand-counted precincts. But Hillary Clinton's victory led many to question the reliability of Diebold voting machines used to count the vote.

Under New Hampshire state law, candidates can call for a recount but need to pay for it. State officials have already charged a starting fee of $US 2,000.

The recount is expected to start on Wednesday. It may take several weeks before the final results are announced.