One thing we have learned from the past two presidential elections is that Republicans don’t win elections by getting Republicans to the polls. Republicans “win” elections by keeping Democrats from the polls.
In the infamous 2000 Presidential election, there were a lot more going on than hanging chads and butterfly ballots in Florida.
· “In the 2000 election, [Florida] state officials purged voter rolls of the names of more than 173,000 people identified as felons or otherwise ineligible to vote, but civil rights activists as well as some Florida county elections supervisors have charged that those lists contained numerous errors, and that thousands of eligible voters were prevented from casting ballots in the election.”--CNN, 5/28/04
· “At least 90.2 percent of those on this ‘scrub’ list, targeted to lose their civil rights, are innocent. Notably, more than half--about 54 percent--are black or Hispanic.”--Gregory Palast, The Nation, 4/29/04
In the end, the U.S. Supreme Court stopped the vote count and handed George W. Bush a “victory” margin of 537 votes. Subsequent counts conducted by eight news organizations show that Al Gore would have won, if the vote counting had been allowed to continue--despite the illegal purging of thousands of Democratic voters off the rolls (Consortium News, 11/12/01). Americans were told, “Bush won. Get over it”.
In the 2004 presidential election, the crucial battleground moved to Ohio; but the fight was already fixed. By then, the Republican machine had turned voter disenfranchisement into an art form.
John Conyers, the ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee headed a Congressional investigation into the reported irregularities in the Ohio election. Here are some excerpts from the report--Preserving Democracy: What Went Wrong in Ohio (1/6/05):
· ...[We] find that there were massive and unprecedented voter irregularities and anomalies in Ohio. In many cases these irregularities were caused by intentional misconduct and illegal behavior, much of it involving Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell, the co-chair of the Bush-Cheney campaign in Ohio.
· The misallocation of voting machines led to unprecedented long lines that disenfranchised scores, if not hundreds of thousands, of predominantly minority and Democratic voters.
· [Restriction of] provisional ballots resulted in the disenfranchisement of tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of voters, again predominantly minority and Democratic voters.
· ...[T]housands of partisan challengers concentrated in minority and Democratic areas likely disenfranchised tens of thousands of legal voters, who were not only intimidated, but became discouraged by the long lines.