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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 10/26/08

Antidote to Election Theft: "Steal Back Your Vote"

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Antidote to Election Theft:  Steal Back Your Vote

We’re all really busy, there’s always so much going on.  And there’s an election right around the corner.  Fine.  I promise this won’t take long. Download Steal Back Your Vote.  It’s absolutely free! The subject is deadly serious, but it’s packaged in an easy to digest, comic-book format.

SBYV was written by Greg Palast and Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. Palast is an American investigative journalist who works for BBC-TV, and The Guardian. He is also author of the New York Times bestsellers The Best Democracy Money Can Buy and Armed Madhouse. RFK, Jr. co-hosts Air America’s Ring of Fire. He is a voting rights and environmental attorney, and author of the 2006 Rolling Stone article Was the 2004 Election Stolen?

This formidable twosome teamed up to write Block the Vote for the current issue of Rolling Stone. Their basic premise is that the GOP has mounted a full-court press to suppress the vote in the upcoming election. Primary targets are African-Americans, Hispanics, and Native Americans, seniors, young, and the poor – all traditionally Democratic voters.  

“Come November, the most crucial demographic may prove to be Americans who have been denied the right to vote. If Democrats are to win the 2008 election, they must not simply beat John McCain at the polls – they must beat him by a margin that exceeds the level of GOP vote tampering.”(Block the Vote, p.5)

Barriers to voting across the country include: Obstructing voter-registration drives, demanding “perfect matches”, purging legitimate voters from the rolls, requiring unnecessary voter IDs, rejecting “spoiled” ballots, and challenging “provisional” ballots.

Two examples:  
•    The Colorado Secretary of State, Donetta Davidson, and her successor purged almost 20% of the state’s legal voters by 2006.  Davidson "who makes Katherine Harris look like Thomas Jefferson" is no longer Secretary of State; she was subsequently promoted to head the Election Assistance Commission in Washington DC.
•    1 in 9 Democrats in Las Vegas, Nevada, found themselves suddenly missing from the voting rolls on Super Tuesday.  Among those forced to vote on provisional ballots was Paul Maez, the local supervisor of elections.  According to Palast and Kennedy, these ballots “can be reviewed and discarded by election officials without explanation.” (Block the Vote, p.1) And, in Nevada on Super Tuesday, more than half of those provisional ballots were, in fact, disqualified. Voters forced to use provisional ballots clearly can have no confidence that their votes will be counted.

Steal Back Your Vote is about enabling all legitimate voters to vote, whatever their political persuasion.  It discusses the barriers to voting laid out in Block the Vote and goes a step further by giving concrete suggestions on how to combat them. While Palast and Kennedy feel that the GOP has already stolen the election, they stress that it’s not too  late. Readers can still take action to blunt the voter suppression tactics.

Here’s how you can fight back!
1.    don’t mail in your ballot
2.    vote early*
3.    make sure you’re registered (and keep checking)
4.    don’t accept a provisional ballot if challenged
5.    get active – register, canvass, and get out the vote
6.    bring a voter to the polls, along with your photo ID, and use the  Election Protection hotline – 1-866-OUR-VOTE, to report voting problems. There are thousands of lawyers who are ready to fight for your right to vote.
7.    Demand that our officials count every vote

Ten-second take away
Download the comic book, download the short film, read Block the Vote
As Palast and Kennedy rightly point out, this is no time to sit on the sidelines.  Get out there, spread the word, and protect our democracy.  

Each of the recent elections has been called historic, and critical.  And, so they have proven to be. We are facing another historic election in less than two weeks.  Think Supreme Court nominations, the economy, the War in Iraq, our children’s future, health care, domestic spying, your job, our eroding civil liberties, our image abroad, or a dozen other issues.  Steal Back Your Vote clearly states: “This guide is not about saving Democratic candidates.  It is about saving our democracy.” Without the vote, this democracy of ours is nothing but an empty promise.  With your help, there’s a chance we can turn things around.  Can you afford to sit this one out?


*except in Illinois - Illinois Ballot Integrity Project advises against absentee or early voting.  Vote on Election Day and request a paper ballot. Shortening the length of time between vote casting and vote counting may minimize the risk of loss, damage, or alteration.


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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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