Segments in this Video

Introduction: Democracy in the Wild (02:18)


The federal government does not run Presidential elections; instead, each county in the United States runs its own election. We will see the story of the 2004 Elections in Marion County.

Verifying Voter Identity (02:02)

County officials discuss how to find identification for a quadriplegic man in a nursing home who wants to register to vote. They decide to send someone to observe and certify that he lives where he says he does.

Establishing Voter Residency (01:06)

A county official travels to a nursing home to observe a quadruplegic man--verifying that he actually lives there.

Training Polling Place Volunteers (02:07)

Poll workers often cannot understand complex election law. Even experts disagree on the law.

Accusations and the Process (03:21)

Republicans think Democrats cheat, while Democrats think Republicans try to keep people from voting. We learn more about the process watching the training session for volunteers

Aging Volunteer Force (02:05)

Only six full-time workers are involved in elections in Marion County; the rest are volunteers. Volunteers are getting old and dying, and it is a struggle to replace them. A recruiter talks to student volunteers.

Votes for Dead Man (02:05)

Elections officials have to deal with absentee votes for a man who died shortly before the election.

Planning (00:60)

Election officials engage in bomb threat contingency planning, and other planning.

Delivering Machines (02:16)

2004, the largest election to that point, required more voting machines than ever before. A man delivering the machines has trouble finding someone to unlock the polling place--a church.

Voter Education (02:31)

A local TV channel gets ready to tape a demonstration in the use of voting machines.

Nursing Homes (02:03)

Absentee ballots are delivered to nursing homes.

Assorted Issues (01:16)

Election officials deal with a number of issues. A man describes the process for allowing people to vote from jail.

Voting From Jail (04:01)

Election officials facilitate inmates voting from jail.

Frantic Run-up (03:48)

Officials deal with a number of minor crises as the election approaches.

Voting (01:44)

We see early voting, and volunteers organize absentee ballots for precinct delivery.

Problem Ballots (01:43)

Officials deal with problem absentee ballots. This Board's decision is advisory only; the precinct Board makes the final decision.

Inspector Kit Assembly (02:19)

A company is putting together inspector kits. They track every ballot that is printed, and make sure each precinct gets the correct number of ballots.

Inspector Kit Delivery (02:04)

The company delivers ballot inspector kits.

Election Eve Morning (02:14)

Two officials prepare for the big day.

TV Station Educates Voters (02:03)

A local TV station comes in to educate voters on use of the new machines. An official explains election law controversies.

Crisis (02:23)

Some inspectors quit at the last minute, and officials need to find replacements. An official explains to a TV reporter a confusing aspect of election law.

Inspector Training (01:49)

The evening before the election, volunteers go through inspector training. A precinct cannot open without an inspector, and an inspector cannot open a precinct without an inspection kit.

Finding Inspectors (02:59)

Officials run into more last-minute problems tracking down inspectors.

Congressional District Split (03:45)

A Congressional district split requires different ballots for voters in the same precinct. Officials deal with problems resulting from this issue.

Securing Absentee Ballots (02:20)

Officials secure their stash of absentee ballots with police tape.

Election Day (02:55)

Early in the morning before voting starts, the mood is calmer than yesterday but there are a few minor crises.

Polls Open (04:57)

Polls open at 6:00 am, and people are already lined up. As people vote, officials deal with problems behind the scenes.

Wrongly Purged (02:04)

An inspector doesn't have one in his records, since she has been wrongly purged as deceased. They direct her on how to prove she is alive.

Phones Die (01:09)

Phones go dead at election headquarters because too many people are calling.

People Listed as Dead (03:14)

Officials are getting lots of calls from people listed as dead. They decide to give each precinct a list of recently purged names; a woman discusses the situation with local media before being called away.

Consulting Party Chairmen (01:30)

A high-level official talks with County Republican and Democratic chairmen about requiring ID for people on the list of purged names. After the Democrat expresses concern whether people have ID, the Republican asks what the law says.

Communication (02:12)

At the precinct level, an official relays the orders: purged voters will have to show identification just like a first-time voter. Headquarters is still having trouble with phones, and people are hand-delivering information to precincts.

Wrong Voting Machine (00:54)

One precinct has the wrong machine, so they deliver a new one.

No Such Thing as a Normal Election (02:21)

Officials deal with absentee ballots for a now-dead candidate, and other problems. "There is no such thing as a normal election anymore," one man comments.

Polls Close (01:47)

As polls close, one official asks another who is winning; he says all he knows is Kerry is winning exit polls. There are problems with absentee ballots as precinct officials turned off machines before they were supposed to.

Wrapping Up (02:40)

Workers try to wrap up the loose ends. They report turnout results to the media.

Volunteer Shortage and Democracy (02:15)

Over 71 million people chose not to participate in the 2004 Presidential election. Polling places were an estimated 500,000 workers short of the 2 million they need to adequately staff elections; volunteers are on average 72 years old.

Credits & Outtakes: By the People: Democracy in the Wild (00:47)

Credits & Outtakes: By the People: Democracy in the Wild

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By the People: Democracy in the Wild

3-Year Streaming Price: $169.95



This film offers an unprecedented insider's look as events unfolded over the 11 days preceding the 2004 presidential election. By The People: Democracy In The Wild reveals who and what it takes to put on an American election. This behind-the-scenes documentary follows average Americans as they race to get the polls open on Election Day. After witnessing their struggle to uphold the most basic aspect of democracy, viewers will never again take the right to vote for granted. Distributed by PBS Distribution. (90 minutes)

Length: 87 minutes

Item#: BVL44210

Copyright date: ©2005

Closed Captioned

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