Democracy at Risk
South Valley Peace Center
is a disturbing trend in America today. Add up the figures: One
well-funded political party controlling all three branches of
government in Washington, most of the corporate media, and with
a large measure of control of whose vote counts and whose doesn't.
Such a government, bent on turning the government "...of
the people, by the people, and for the people" into a conglomerate
of privatized "for-profit" operations from the schools
to the prisons with suppression of dissent at every turn is hardly
the government envisioned by our Founding Fathers.
like to think of ourselves as a democracy, where each person has
a say in who represents them in the government. The basic tool
for making a democracy work is the vote. America can only work
"as advertised" if people believe in and participate
in honest elections. There is reason to believe that this faith
in democracy is being severely tested.
the 2000 Presidential election, we saw the contest decided in
Florida, where the winning candidate's brother just happened to
be governor, and the person responsible for counting the votes
just happened to be deeply involved with the Republican Party.
Thousands of dollars were spent having a private company "purge"
the rolls of potential Democratic voters. Voting machines seemed
to give "funny" results, such as showing George Bush
winning heavily in overwhelmingly Democratic precincts. Voters,
mainly blacks, who traditionally vote Democratic, found themselves
blocked from getting to the polls. The word "fraud"
was bandied about, but the Republican-controlled Supreme Court
decided that for the good of the country, they would declare Bush
the winner before all the votes could be counted and investigated.
What did we learn from that? Nothing, it seems.
this November's election, hints of what was to come surfaced.
Folks registering voters in Las Vegas just happened to turn in
only the Republican registrations. In the most important swing
state, the Democratic headquarters in Toledo was burgled and all
their computer records were stolen. Every effort was made to overwhelm
the Democrats efforts to get equal access to the broadcast media,
from the refusal to broadcast MoveOn.org's anti-Bush ads during
the Super Bowl to Pappas Broadcasting giving $300,000 of free
air time to the Republicans.
four of the most important swing states, the people that ran the
elections and counted the votes just happened to be big Bush contributors.
The most respected polling organization that kept telling Americans
that Bush was winning, the Gallup Poll, just happened to be a
Bush supporter. The two makers of the voting machines which controlled
80% of the election process just happened to be Bush supporters.
One, the CEO of Diebold, sent a letter to big Bush campaign contributors
that he hoped to "deliver Ohio" to Bush.
and Florida decided the election. In Ohio, the Secretary of State,
Kevin Blackwell, who was involved with the Bush campaign, tried
disqualifying that huge majority of the overwhelmingly-Democratic
new registrations on the grounds that they were not printed on
the correct 80-lb. cardstock. He then refused an NAACP request
to notify parolees who were registered to vote of their rights.
Precincts were supplied with too few voting machines in predominantly
Black areas, occasioning waits in line for as much as five hours!
Many voters gave up and left. Provisional ballots, where voters
not residing in the precinct in which they were voting were either
denied or not counted. Students in Columbus going to college out
of their precincts were challenged and told they would have to
go to a hearing to prove their eligibility.
machines, particularly the antiquated optical scanners, seemed
to returning very interesting results. Thousands of ballots were
"lost" when the memories of machines filled up and they
started counting backwards. Some people found that every time
they tried to choose Kerry, the machine told them they had selected
Bush. Punch cards were mismatched with ballots ...a with Kerry
being No.3 on the ballot and No.4 on the punch card. In many districts,
the vote exceeded the number of registered voters with ,Bush winning
many predominantly Kerry precincts by as much as three to one.
Electronic data was fed into a central tabulating computer which
tallied up the votes. Diebold machines using the "Windows"
PC format which, according to computer experts is quite easy to
machines in one precinct in Ohio counted minus 25,000 votes, while
another with 558 registered voters cast 9,000 ballots. One precinct
in Florida with 12,997 registered voters, 69.3% of which were
Democrats, turned in 2,180 for Kerry and 7,738 for Bush! In another,
15% of the people were registered Republicans, but somehow Bush
won with 1959 for Kerry and 4,433 for Bush. One county in Ohio
with 638 voters cast 4,258 for Bush and only 260 for Kerry! Is
something wrong with the way we are doing things? Were these just
"computer errors " or outright tampering? In Volusia
County, Florida, Bev Harris of BlackBoxVoting uncovered a smoking
gun involving polling tapes obtained from the county elections
supervisor under the Freedom of Information Act which were not
copies of the official signed polling tapes but new printouts.
The original signed tapes were discovered in the trash outside
the office! A comparison of the ones given Harris and the originals
showed a great discrepancy. In just one precinct ( No.215) in
a black district, votes were off by hundreds, all favoring Bush
and other Republican candidates. And this was just the ONE county
that got caught red-handed. By the way, election officials immediately
locked down the Diebold GEMS central server denying access to
it by the investigating team.
polls, noted for their accuracy, consistently showed Kerry leading,
casting great doubts on the validity of unverifiable electronic
results. Over 30,000 complaints of improprieties have been filed
say a recount is in order, but if the same "tampered with"
tallies are re-tallied, the same result will be reached. It is
worth doing, but what is really needed is a Congressional investigation
such as the one proposed by Representative John Conyers, an FBI
investigation into criminal fraud, and laws preventing private
companies controlled by partisan interests from counting the votes.
And existing laws against voter fraud need to be vigorously enforced.
Votes counted by private for-profit corporations using easily
hacked , unreliable, and partisan machines with no paper trail
are invitations to tampering.
accusations and evidence of fraud in this election are of such
import that the daily front page news should be filled with the
issue. It is the responsibility of the media and the American
Voting Public to demand a full investigation, and not just to
reward cheating with another term in office! Investigations are
in order NOW, not after the inauguration. Laws imposing uniform
procedures in national elections need to be passed. Grand jury
investigations into allegations of voter fraud need to be undertaken.
The American Public must have its confidence in the voting process
restored by knowing that elections cannot so easily be subverted,
and their vote really WILL be counted honestly. We want to WATCH
as the votes are counted by teams composed of all interested parties.
Eternal vigilance IS the price of liberty, and only you can keep
your democratic rights and freedoms by not allowing the electoral
process to degenerate into a farce.
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