took his victory away. His supporters found they were
scrubbed off voter rolls. Violence and intimidation
kept even more of his voters away from the polls.
Hundreds of thousands of ballots supposedly showed no
choice for president -- like ballots with hanging chads.
And the officials in charge of this suspect election
refused to re-count those votes in public. Everyone
knew full well a fair count would certainly change the
You've heard this story before: Gore 2000. Kerry 2004.
But Lopez Obrador 2006 is made out of very different
stuff than the scarecrow candidates who, oddly, call
For six years now, I've had this crazy fantasy in my
head. In it, an election is stolen and the guy who's
declared the loser stands up in front of the White House
and says three magic words: "Count the votes."
This past Saturday, my dream came true. Unfortunately,
it was in Spanish -- but I'll take what I can get.
There was Andreas Manuel Lopez Obrador, presidential
challenger, standing in the "Zocalo" -- the square in
front of Mexico's White House, telling the ruling clique
inside, "Count the votes!"
Most important, his simple demand was echoed by half a
million pissed-off, activated voters chanting with him,
"Vota por vota!" -- vote by vote.
And you know what? I think they are going to have to
listen. I suspect that the rulers of Mexico, a vicious,
puffed-up, arrogant elite, may well have to count those
votes. But, for that to happen, someone had to ask them
to do it -- in no uncertain terms.
Traveling the USA, I'm asked again and again 'Why don't
Democrats stand up when their elections are stolen?'
The answer: for the same reason jellyfish don't stand
up... they're invertebrates.
I'm beginning to find that answer a bit too glib (though
darn funny). Because it's not about electoral cojones;
it's about a devotion to democracy deep in the bone.
Yet weirdly, candidates that call themselves "Democrats"
seem kind of, well, indifferent to democracy.
Why? Elections are the radical tool of the working
class -- the great leveler of the powerless against the
too-powerful. But the candidates themselves, both
Republican and Democrat, tend to come from the
privileged and pampered class. Votes are just the
surfboards on which their ambitions ride.
Right now in Mexico's capitol, nearly a million ballots
sit in tied bundles uncounted. That's four times the
"official" margin of victory of the ruling party over
Lopez Obrador. Supposedly, they're "votos nulos" --
null votes, unreadable. But, not surprisingly, when a
few packets were opened, the majority of these
supposedly unreadable votes were Lopez Obrador's.
If you think that's a Mexican game, think again.
Because that's exactly what happened in Florida and
In Florida, 179,855 ballots supposedly showed no vote
for President. A closer look by the US Civil Rights
Commission statisticians showed that 54% of those
Florida "votos nulos" were cast by African-Americans.
Did Black folk forget to vote for President, couldn't
make up their minds or, as one TV network implied, were
too dumb to figure out the ballot? Not at all.
Machines can't count some ballots. But people can. For
example, several voters wrote in, "Al Gore," which the
machines rejected as his name was already printed on the
ballot. The write-in could fool a machine but a human
has no problem figuring out that voter's intent.
The National Opinion Research Center at the University
of Chicago reviewed all 179,855 "uncountable" votes and
found the majority attempted to choose Gore. And they
would have been counted -- but Florida's Secretary of
State, Katherine Harris, ordered a halt.
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