by Bob Fitrakis/Harvey Wasserman
On Election Day 2006, the American people will almost certainly vote to give the Democratic Party one or both houses of Congress.
We will vote to restore at least some of the checks and balances written into the Constitution of the United States. We will vote to end the reign of terror and error imposed on the nation and world since the stolen election of 2000. State by state, governorships and legislatures should return to the opposition party.
True to form, the corporate media is already starting to tell us that the polls are starting to slip back to the Republicans. This is the classic precursor to a coming fix.
In fact, all the instincts of credible students of American politics, indicate a massive shift away from the GOP. Anyone familiar with the history of the American electorate can be reasonably certain that the issues of war, deficits, economy, environment, scandal, sexual imposition and more will overwhelmingly favor a traditional rejection of the party in power, and then some.
But in 2006, the party in power has installed a nationwide system of election theft. And the outcome of tomorrow’s election may depend on the ability of the grassroots American citizenry to overcome this infernal machine.
The GOP engine of vote theft is built primarily on two pillars:
First is the massive disenfranchisement of mostly urban Democrats, including millions of people of color. Second is the simultaneous inflation of mostly rural and suburban Republican votes, including the mythological influx of “last-minute evangelicals” who may well exist primarily in the memory cards of rigged electronic machines.
Throughout the country, a concerted effort by the Republican Party has crippled voter registration drives. In Ohio some 500,000 citizens who were already registered –some ten percent of the electorate—have been deleted (many without notification) in the Democratic strongholds of Cuyahoga, Franklin, Hamilton and Lucas Counties. With easily manipulated electronic registration books now in place, or private partisan vendors controlling registration rolls, throughout the US, millions more may have been deleted or flagged in other largely Democratic urban areas.
Based on what we know from Florida 2000, stolen Senatorial races in 2002, and Ohio 2004, here are some of the things we can expect from the GOP on Tuesday:
Disenfranchisement of alleged “ex-felons,” even in states where it is not illegal for ex-felons to vote, or their intimidation through anonymous phone calls; denial, misprinting and failure to send absentee ballots; denial of voting rights at polling stations through unreasonable or illegal demands for identification; insufficient numbers of voting machines and/or paper ballots at inner city and college town precincts; malfunctioning of those machines and misprinting of those ballots, rendering them erroneous or deliberately confusing; misrepresentation of requirements to obtain regular or provisional ballots; outright trashing of ballots at the voting stations; declaration of phony Homeland Security alerts to remove ballot counting from public scrutiny; outright refusal to count ballots (as in Ohio, where more than 100,000 cast in 2004 have yet to be tallied); termination of the traditional posting of outcomes at precincts; subversion of the recount process.
All this and more was used to steal the elections of 2000 and 2004, and has been documented and broadcast through the internet, at sites such as blackboxvoting.org, freepress.org, bradblog.com. onlinejournal.com, and many more. Despite a mainstream media blackout and the unwillingness of the Democratic Party to face this issue, there is no reason to be surprised on Tuesday.
It will not be enough to rely on polls indicating victory, or to call voters to turn out, or to merely vote on Election Day.
No citizen should be turned away without an election protection monitor documenting it. No monitor should be turned away without full documentation and a call to the police. No ballot should be trashed without sworn affidavits as to why. No recount should be conducted without total public scrutiny.
In all cases, we ask anyone involved to send a report to firstname.lastname@example.org, with at least your publishable e-mail address included.
We further urge that throughout the states, public post-election hearings be convened in the presence of a court stenographer, so that sworn testimony and affidavits can be available for later litigation.
Such documentation has proven crucial in the lawsuits that have preserved the Ohio 2004 ballots and other voting rights here. It will be at the core of continued efforts to restore American democracy.
Electronic voting machines remain problematic. There is no magic bullet except for absolute scrutiny, persistence, and a willingness to fight it out over every electron. Even with high tech thievery, if the People are vigilant, the Truth can eventually win out. The higher the voter turnout, and the greater the vigilance by voters, the more difficult for Bush and Rove to steal the election, and the more likely we are to catch them if they try.
We expect more tricks we’ve not yet seen. Even as we write this, Ohio’s Republican Secretary of State, J. Kenneth Blackwell, is imposing new regulations for obtaining a ballot.
Already we are seeing the familiar, tell-tale signs of an impending theft. The so-called “last-minute GOP surge” being reported by the corporate media is emblematic of a party machine gearing up to engineer another public larceny. Forewarned is forearmed.
But there’s no excuse for throwing up one’s hands in despair. Or for doing nothing in the face of the obvious.
As with the recent rise of the movements for civil rights, peace, social justice and ecological survival, the public campaign for election protection has exploded from the handful to the many to the multitudes.
The power of pro-active grassroots democracy will be sorely tested on Tuesday. The stakes could not be higher.
Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman are co-authors, with Steve Rosenfeld, of WHAT HAPPENED IN OHIO?, just published by the New Press. They are of counsel and plaintiff in the King Lincoln voter protection lawsuit in Ohio. Bob is an independent candidate for governor of Ohio, endorsed by the Green Party. Harvey’s SOLARTOPIA! OUR GREEN-POWERED EARTH, A.D. 2030, is available at www.solartopia.org