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Stop the Lies, Fight the Fix: Don't Let Them Hide the Bodies

By Kat L'Estrange  Posted by Joan Brunwasser (about the submitter)       (Page 1 of 2 pages)   No comments
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January 23, 2006

The American people continue to be lied to. The 2004 election was gamed in favor of George W. Bush using unsafe electronic voting machines and a multitude of voter suppression techniques designed to negate get-out-the-vote efforts by the opposition party. Despite being witness to gross malfeasance in this administration, politicians and the national corporate media continue to believe Bush handlers would stop at rigging elections to grab hold of and then hang onto power.

As well, leading progressive voices (e.g., Michael Moore, Arianna Huffington,, The Nation, Mother Jones, Salon, and others) refuse to acknowledge that the Democratic candidate actually won the presidency in the 2004 election. Americans have grown accustomed to the lies perpetrated by the media on behalf of the Bush administration, but it's tough to accept denial from those on the left who appear otherwise dialed in. One can only assume an anti-Bush environment is more profitable for them. A few notable exceptions include Mark Crispin Miller, Bob Fitrakis and Greg Palast, all of whom continue to be ridiculed for exposing the truth about rigged elections and voter suppression.

Just as BushCo will stop at nothing now because they have the elections ‘in the bag,’ the Democrats don't have to put forth much effort to challenge them because they know voters have no other viable option. Democratic leadership can sit back and wait it out until power in all its glory is once again bestowed upon them. This is where two-party politics and corporate representation in Congress have taken American democracy.

The truth is voters turned out in record numbers in 2004 to remove the Republican candidate from power, and they succeeded. Had not voting machines been rigged to favor Bush over his opponents, or had not a disproportionate number of Democratic, mainly urban voters been disenfranchised, the outcome of the election would have reflected the true intent and will of the majority of Americans. Kerry did win. The proof is in the numbers. It took former President Jimmy Carter five years to acknowledge that Al Gore was the candidate of the people in Florida in the 2000 election. Evidently, a widely held belief that in America the people’s choice on Election Day is what matters is nothing more than a myth.

The system is now set up for a transfer of power that no longer requires or is reflective of the will of the people. The privatization of what ought to remain a public election system in the United States has led to the widespread acceptance of simulated democracy. With the “fix” now in place, those responsible for the largest suppression of votes in history have become cheerleaders for greater voter turnout in all-electronic voting machine states and counties. Their intent is disingenuous.

In this regard, of great concern are new requirements outlined in the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) effective this month involving the centralization of the voter registration rolls. Other than a few, most states have turned to private vendors to manage their centralized voter registration databases rather than manage them in-house, and most states have chosen one, maybe two vendors to perform the work, except for Ohio. The scheme to centralize the voter rolls there is as concerning as Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell is partisan and a GOP candidate for governor.

While Congress (HAVA) allocated $3 billion taxpayer dollars to update voting equipment as a result of the Florida coup, what continues to not be managed well is communicating important information to the voters at the local level. Registration concerns and lack of information on precinct locations were issues that voters had the most difficulty with on November 2, 2004. Local election officials are finding it difficult to accept blame, and practically nobody is looking in the direction of the private vendors who primarily manage the elections process from registration to central tabulation.

Not only will vendors continue to control the counting of votes by electronic voting systems, these private companies will also ultimately control who is allowed to vote especially in precincts where public elections officials who maintain some oversight of county lists are asleep on the job. Unless a problem is identified, elections clerks are bound to not go looking for one, but the reality is elections can be won or lost by wrongful purges of the voter rolls, as in Florida in 2000.

Additionally, given the cozy relationship between industry and all branches of government, other agencies may gain easier access to the centralized databases without public knowledge, which could lead to even further wrongful harassment and purges of voters suspected or accused of being 'illegally' registered. Primary information listed in the databases includes name, address and political party affiliation of the voter.

The largest purges of voter rolls occur just prior to federal elections, especially in presidential elections. Therefore, it may not be until the 2008 presidential election campaign that the full effect of the centralized voter registration databases is realized.

George W. Bush claimed a 3.5 million popular vote victory over John Kerry, but it is impossible to know how many voters were turned away at the polls in 2004 because their names were mysteriously purged off the rolls or their registrations were never processed, which they discovered only when they showed up to vote in what they believed to be their assigned community precincts. It is, however, estimated that millions of voters were denied the right to vote on Election Day in 2004.

The never-ending problems with voter registration has led to a greater dependence on provisional ballots, which are merely a placebo to treat the problem, as are voter verified paper trails if votes continue to be cast and counted electronically. As was apparent in Ohio, elections officials can change the voting precincts at the last minute and shuffle voters around, or just close them prior to Election Day in an effort to make provisional ballots worthless.

Another more common practice nationwide has been to move voters who have not voted in the last two elections to an "inactive" status so that local governments are able to pass tax levies in elections. While this may seem a harmless course of action in order to keep public schools and fire departments operational, the practice is now easily exploited to suppress votes in elections where every vote matters.

One way to verify election results is by conducting scientific exit polling, which has provided the nation with at least one such reliable check and balance against final vote tallies for decades, but in Bush era elections, an attempt to discredit the reliability of exit polling has so far succeeded.

Even though various politicos and national editors have denounced GOP voter suppression tactics, they fail to examine the full effect this form of cheating has had on voter morale. They also fail to discuss a fair remedy. Make no mistake about it: denying a legally registered voter the right to vote is cheating. In mean-spirited fashion, Republican mouthpieces continue to make the case that it is the voters and partisans at the local level who are to blame for unfair elections ignoring voter suppression and disenfranchisement altogether. Power-hungry Republicans will continue to get away with wholesale election fraud in 2006 unless the American people put up the biggest fight of their lives to stop them.

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Joan Brunwasser is a co-founder of Citizens for Election Reform (CER) which since 2005 existed for the sole purpose of raising the public awareness of the critical need for election reform. Our goal: to restore fair, accurate, transparent, secure elections where votes are cast in private and counted in public. Because the problems with electronic (computerized) voting systems include a lack of (more...)

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