Friday, April 07, 2006

Can the Democrats Win?

We hear a great deal these days from Democrats about the Fall elections, about the increasingly strong chances for a Democratic retaking of Congress, and especially about how best to accomplish this feat. All of this is fine, but one fact threatens to make all this speculation moot: Republican control of the elections process and the high probability that the theft of the most recent elections will be repeated. If nothing is done to change these conditions, all the election strategy in the world will not bring victory.

Consider the recent article posted on AlterNet.com (see bottom of link) (Mar. 2, 2006) by Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman, Ohio authors of How the GOP Stole America's 2004 Election & Is Rigging 2008. What they pointed out as the product of their latest research adding to the more than 100 different ways in which the Republican Party perverted the democratic process in Ohio is the purging of more than 300,000 mostly Democrat voters from the Ohio voting rolls!

In traditional Democratic Party strongholds like Cuyahoga County (Cleveland), some 175,000 voters were purged and 10,000 who were registered were lost due to "clerical error." This in a state where George W. Bush's margin of victory was only 119,000 votes. An additional 133,000 voters were eliminated from the registration rolls in Cincinnati and Toledo, the excuse being that they had failed to vote in two previous elections (note that no law requires this). The result of this and other purges was that thousands of voters turned up to vote at their regular polling places, only to be told that their names had been somehow removed from the rolls. When many of these voters used the government-mandated provisional ballots, they found that the Republican Secretary of State, Kenneth Blackwell, had instituted unprecedented requirements for provisional ballots, such as supplying the voter's birth date, which poll workers failed to mention. As a result, thousands of such "disqualified" ballots were then thrown out.

Anyone who doubts that the 2004 election was stolen should read another book on the Republican theft, Fooled Again, by Mark Crispin Miller. Among the literally hundreds of dirty tricks employed by legions of Republicans throughout the nation, Miller cites (a) New Mexico, where 19,000 under votes were cast (an under vote is where no vote is cast for president on an otherwise completed ballot), with 17,147 of these under votes coming from notoriously "fixable" electronic voting machines this in a state where Bush won by only 7,047 votes (Miller, p. 149); (b) the expatriate voting scandal, where of 7 million eligible voters living or working in foreign countries (with civilians outnumbering service personnel by 15 to 1 and hence favoring Kerry by large margins), at least 43% were prevented from voting according to the Overseas Voting Foundation, because they were either prevented from registering on time, or they received their ballots late or not at all (Miller, pp. 249 ff).

There is far more to Miller's book, as well as to the accounts of Fitrakis and Wasserman in Ohio. The sum total is chilling. Most important, it makes all too clear that short of a major Democratic Party effort to closely monitor and fiercely contend any inkling of chicanery in future elections, all the strategy in the world will be useless. For the truth is, John Kerry was declared the winner in every exit poll, and he still "lost."

If such unprecedented fixing can be done once, it can be done, and will be done, repeatedly. In short, democracy and all strategies to ensure it are simply meaningless if the very basis of Democracy a fair and free election can no longer be counted on.

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