What would the great Reverend, Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr. do today? More importantly, what should all of us do today?
Dr. King is one of my heroes. His writings and speeches are an inspiration to all who listen, all who long to see the American Dream fulfilled, all who long for liberty and justice for all and the peace and prosperity that flows from the realization of these promises. Dr. King brought our nation closer to the realization of the principles expressed in our Constitution and the Declaration of Independence than it ever has been, but unfortunately, tyranny and injustice are on the rise once again.
Yes, I said, "Tyranny and injustice!" As Dr. King said in his Letter from a Birmingham Jail, "A law is unjust if it is inflicted on a minority that, as a result of being denied the right to vote, had no part in enacting or devising the law."
Dr. King understood that unjust treatment of minorities would continue if they were kept from participating in electing those who govern our country. Dr. King knew that without the power to elect government representatives, or more importantly, the power to throw bad ones out of office, African Americans would continue to suffer from passage and enforcement of unjust laws. This is why he marched for equal rights for all voters!
Dr. King demanded that all people have the power to control their government! Dr. King and hundreds of thousands of Americans marched and protested for years for the power to control our government, a power which they knew was absolutely necessary to prevent tyranny and injustice! But they were not the first who understood this.
George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Ben Franklin, Thomas Paine, Patrick Henry, and many others understood that without the power to influence their government, they would continue to suffer from unjust taxes and unjust treatment. They and hundreds of thousands of other brave Americans stood against the most powerful nation on Earth to fight tyranny and give us the power to govern ourselves.
As Thomas Paine said, "Voting is the right upon which all other rights depend." Patrick Henry said "The liberties of a people never were, nor ever will be, secure, when the transactions of their rulers may be concealed from them." Patrick Henry said that without the power to control your government, you really are no more than a slave. Fortunately, many listened, our nation was born, and the hope of liberty and justice through a government of the people, by the people, and for the people spread throughout the world.
Dr. King and those who stood with him in the civil rights movement took this to heart. They saw horrible injustice and mistreatment, and they knew that it occurred because African Americans and other minorities had been deprived of the power to control their government, the power to vote. They knew that the only way the American Dream could be realized was by giving the people the power to control their government.
If you are one of the many who have been campaigning for your favorite candidate or one of the many who have taken the time and made the effort to vote, you have shown that you want to have the power to influence your government. But, do you really have that power any more? Without thinking about it, many right now are saying to themselves, "Well, of course I do. This is America!" But, please take a minute and think about it.
How do we know that our votes are counted accurately? We used to cast our votes on paper and count them in public. Now, in almost every election across our country, our votes are counted in secret by a computer. To be more accurate, I should say allegedly counted in secret because no one can see what the computer does when our votes go in. Who knows how, or if, they come out again?
If you don’t understand that computers count in secret and you’re thinking that any concerns may be unfounded, take a minute and think about three things: (1) How does a computer count votes? (2) Do computers sometimes malfunction? and (3) Do you have any security measures on your computer to protect against hackers?
The last two questions are really easy, but just in case you haven’t yet thought of how computers count, it’s really simple. Computers count inside their case, with no oversight, just like they are told to do, unless of course, they malfunction or are hacked. For some Congressional testimony on this, see straight from The Programmer's Mouth: How The 2000 Election Was Fixed.
The vast majority of Americans are concerned about having our votes counted in secret on computers. They have heard about problems with voting on computers, and most people understand that the power to control our government through elections is too precious to allow our votes to be counted in secret.
In fact, a Zogby Poll from August of 2006 indicates that 92% of Americans are worried about our votes being counted in secret. After all of the problems with the 2006 elections and with the primaries this year, I would say that even more people are concerned today. The New York Times recently published an article "Can You Count on Voting Machines?" Most people are beginning to distrust electronic voting machines and wonder, "Does my vote really get counted?"
Those who wrote the Constitution of the State of South Carolina understood that the power to control our government might be stolen if our votes were counted in secret. This is why Article II, § 1 of the Constitution of South Carolina states, "the ballots shall not be counted in secret."
Curiously, South Carolina now uses the infamous iVotronic touch screen voting machines to conduct its elections. These are the same voting machines which malfunctioned in South Carolina’s Republican Presidential primary this past Saturday, which have malfunctioned in other elections, and which have been found unfit for use in elections by other States and counties.
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