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Why Democrats Don't Count; Lessons from the Un-Gore of Mexico

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The Exit polls said he won, but the "official" tally 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 outcome.

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 themselves "Democrats."

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 Ohio.

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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http://www.gregpalast.com

Author of the New York Times and international bestsellers, The Best Democracy Money Can Buy and Armed Madhouse, Palast is Patron of the Trinity College Philosophical Society, an honor previously held by Jonathan Swift and Oscar Wilde. Palast (more...)
 
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