Time to Wound the Heels: Part 1
John Kerry may have come up with nothing better than a modest five-year exit strategy for Iraq, but he sure had one speedy exit strategy for the election. We'd better adjust those strategies and tactics and get these votes counted with or without Kerry, and soon - or we may lose our chance to know this count or any other future count.
TIME TO WOUND THE HEELS
By K. Robinson
PART 1 OF 4
TIME TO FEEL THE WOUNDS
John Kerry may have come up with nothing better than a modest five-year exit strategy for Iraq, but he sure had one speedy exit strategy for the election.
We'd better adjust those strategies and tactics and get these votes counted with or without Kerry, and soon - or we may lose our chance to know this count or any other future count.
Prologue: Tactical déjà vu?
In 2000, after "Bush vs. Gore" was decided in the Supreme Court for W, Republican attorneys laughed after and teased Democrats for their silly tactics: Democrats should have fought for more than just Miami Dade. They should have fought not only for the uncounted "undervotes" (the so called "hanging chads" not fully punched through for Gore) and they should have fought for the overvotes (where Gore's name was checked off AND written in on the line at bottom: "Write in your candidate here"). Republicans gloated that Democrats should have fought for more than just one county. Also, Republicans snickered, Democrats should have fought for the tens of thousands of illegally disenfranchised mostly Black citizens who were wrongly accused of being felons and thus purged from the voting rolls. This was an admitted "error" made by the Secretary of State Ms. Harris and the company she contracted (key Republican supporters) to purge all ex-felons. Under the Voting Rights Act, the disenfranchised voters may have been entitled to cast ballots that would have been counted for that precarious 2000 Florida race. But Gore's team didn't pursue that tactic.
Yet even without those legal tactics, the Associated Press finally did finish the official state-wide count after a few months of using the most conservative methods. The NY Times was going to run their results on September 12, 2001. Unfortunately, more pressing news blocked the story the day before. After that, it just was not good for the country to release it. It was time for the nation to unite and heal. The words of Supreme Court Justice Scalia echoed from 2000: "If the count went for Gore, it might undermine Mr. Bush's presidency."
In the opening of Fahrenheit 9/11, Gore, Kerry, and all other Democratic senators refused to sign onto the Congressional Black Caucus' demand to fight and continue the count. Only one Senator's signature would have restarted the count, yet no one signed.
Then came Al Gore's televised concession: "President-elect Bush inherits a nation whose citizens will be ready to assist him in the conduct of his large responsibilities. I personally will be at his disposal, and I call on all Americans — I particularly urge all who stood with us to unite behind our next president. This is America."
Yes, plenty of unhealed wounds from 2000.
But don't blame Gore. Blame a certain third-party candidate who attracted the thousands of Florida votes that tipped Bush's "official" 537 Florida vote margin and handed the Presidency over to Bush. Yes, I still cannot forgive that third party spoiler -- Socialist Presidential hopeful David McReynolds. We have a mutual friend and I dined with that Judas in early 2000. Sure he seemed sweet enough then. "Peace" this, "Justice" that. Blah blah blah. If only I had known what his candidacy would do to Gore in Florida! I missed my chance to rid the 2000 election of that nonviolent spoiler right there. I could have reached over and bashed his head in with his mug of herbal tea!
2004: "There are no losers... " -- John F. Kerry, November 3, 2004
Luckily for us, John Kerry promised that would never happen again. Even at the midnight rally in Boston on election night, John Edwards swore, " We've waited four years for victory, we can wait one more night. And this time every vote will be counted! So go home and get some sleep." Go to sleep. Whenever you hear a politician say go to sleep, whoever they are, reach for the No Doze. As much as Al Gore was criticized for rolling over to Bush in 2000, at least he fought for a few weeks. I hadn't even finished my Apple Jacks Wednesday morning before I heard Kerry had telephoned Bush to concede the race. In his concession speech, he told us "it's time to heal the wounds", "build bipartisan bridges", and "unite around the President". "There are no losers in an American election", Kerry reminded us.
Kerry is right. There are no losers - at least not yet. No one has lost this election because the votes have yet to be counted! If they were counted correctly, it still appears by exit polls (see http://img103.exs.cx/img103/4526/exit_poll.gif ) and other proof (see below) that Kerry had won Ohio, thus won its electoral votes and the Presidency. Yah! Kerry wins, or at least, didn't lose yet!
The problem is, former President G.W. Bush and most of the country didn't understand the nuance of this "There are no losers in an American election," comment Kerry made. Worst of all, I don't think Kerry understood it.
Bush supposedly won Ohio by a 136,000 vote lead. But that does not include either provisional or absentee ballots. Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell (R) said he will not release the official count of the 250,000 (perhaps as high as 500,000) provisional ballots, and separately, an untold number of absentee ballots for 10 days. "That's the law", he said. Yes, the law is that all votes, regular, provisional, absentee are officially certified in no more or less than ten days from November 2. Absentee ballots must be postmarked by November 2, but must arrive by November 12.
Still, this didn't stop the Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell from calling Ohio for Bush that very night having no clear idea of the number of provisional nor absentee ballots, let alone a count of who voted for who, and we still don't know. Go home and count sheep tonight, we'll count the votes tomorrow, Edwards promised us. The next morning, Blackwell was forced to schedule a press conference to explain the situation in detail. Reporters packed their cameras and headed to Ohio. Blackwell's stage was lit and ready. Kerry heard this and before Blackwell got under those third degree media lamps, Kerry called Bush to concede. Blackwell cancelled his press conference. Reporters heading to Ohio, turned around. Lights on the Ohio stage were switched off.
Lights have to come back on to probe the two parts of the vote: 1) We can still prove Bush lost Ohio and thus the Presidency by the number of provisional and absentee ballots, as well as voting machine voting records, and how they count out for the candidates and 2) We can still prove violations of the Voting Rights Act which may lead to a restructuring of our broken system. Exposing these violations may even legally and rightfully trigger a re-vote. These violations include but are not limited to problems in these same electronic voting machines. There is proof machine violations took the form of both glitches, and perhaps purposeful hacking and rigging. An investigation of both the count and the violations now are the only way to take structural measures to ensure this breakdown and/or hijacking of the process never happens again. Maybe John Kerry won't fight for the count, but we have to. This is not the time to move on, this is time to move in on this scandal while we still can.
On November 12 they "certify" the count and on December 18 the Electoral College convenes to cast their votes, including the state of Ohio. It's not just Kerry's win or Bush's loss that is at stake over the next few days, it could be our last chance to resurrect whatever Democracy we had left in this country.
A closer look at the provisional ballots: There are between 250,000 and 500,000 provisional ballots in Ohio. After the Florida debacle of 2000, Republicans and Democrats pushed through and Bush signed the Help America Vote Act. Did this Act force e-voting machines to have a paper trail, get rid of voter intimidation that turned away so man y voters or get rid of the chad ballot? No. Instead the Act offered the provisional ballot, the one paper trail a voter could be sure of. It would be collected, put in a separate pile and if verified, counted after Election Day, the Act promised.
The Ohio Secretary State warned the Act would be interpreted "strictly". Yes, the Ohio provisional ballots would be put aside, investigated and counted only if they were shown to be "legitimate" over the next ten days (in some cases longer than ten days if they end up in court.) Many activists are pushing to send more officials and attention down to Ohio to oversee Mr. Blackwell's oversight during this period of ballot scrutiny.
Why might voters be forced to vote by provisional ballot? Ohio had relatively lax residency requirements. One only needed to show they "intended" to live in Ohio long term in order to register there. Many of those who wanted to vote were Ohio college students. If for example a freshman had moved to Ohio recently, a Republican poll worker might challenge their intent to reside in Ohio long term.
Nationally, 4.7 million MORE young adults voted in this election than in the last one. All these numbers are likely to go up when the millions of provisional ballots (and absentee ballots) are counted. Many people, especially the young and people of color, were challenged on a variety of technicalities, including residency and insufficient proof of identity. Statistically, these two groups came in for the most part intending to vote Democratic.
Republicans staffed the swing state precincts, especially key states like Ohio, with highly paid attorneys to challenge would-be voters on these issues and many, many other technicalities. (See: http://www.nytimes.com/2004/11/02/politics/campaign/02ohio.html?hp&ex=1099458000&en=19fed453a7e009ac&ei=5094&partner=homepage )
Precinct captains would assure nervous would-be voters to just use a provisional ballot, and their vote would be counted. Not only have they not been counted for a candidate, the Blackwell won't even say how many there are. Blackwell offers vague answers to questions pertaining to the provisional and absentee ballot security, or no response at all. That press conference would have come in handy.
And what of these untold number of absentee ballots? In all probability, Ohio absentee votes are not largely military votes. Ohio isn't exactly covered with U.S. military bases the way Florida or the Middle East are. First, again many absentee votes in this cycle were from college students away from their home in Ohio. Also, pointing to suspicious past Diebold results and the lack of a paper trail, progressives have warned for months to vote absentee or provisional in order to avoid the murky Diebold, Inc. e-voting touch screens. Even in Venezuela, electronic voting machines produce two hardcopies: one for you, and one to drop in a box for a recount if the margin is too close. Diebold, one of the country's leading manufacturers of ATM machines, can produce a receipt of all your banking transactions to the penny. But these machines offer no paper trail. Kerry and his team never pushed for the paper receipt, despite overwhelming protests from the public, especially after Diebold President, Mr. O'Dell, promised to "deliver all the votes I can for President Bush."
Think of all the "Commons" that no one would imagine privatizing, i.e. the police department, the fire department, etc. But the one venue we as citizens have to control those Commons -- the Vote -- is controlled by company who lobbies for Republicans, the one party that now controls all branches of government. If President Washington had allowed a right to Vote but said it would be controlled by the East India Company, I assure you Thomas Jefferson would have written a second Declaration of Independence.
Exit polls predicted Kerry the clear winner in Ohio, but in the end Diebold had a far different result. Exit polls were accurate in solid states and states that used paper ballots. Only in the swing states where electronic voting was implemented were the exit polls inaccurate far beyond a reasonable margin of error. (See: http://img103.exs.cx/img103/4526/exit_poll.gif ) . In NC, they admitted to "losing" 4500 votes for Democrats. In just one Ohio precinct, Diebold admits that at least 3900 votes that were meant for Kerry went to Bush instead. "Franklin County's unofficial results had Bush receiving 4,258 votes to Democrat John Kerry's 260 votes in a precinct in Gahanna. Records show only 638 voters cast ballots in that precinct." (See: http://www.boston.com/news/politics/president/articles/2004/11/05/machine_error_gives_bush_extra_ohio_votes/ )
Many Democrats recommended voting provisional ballot or absentee to avoid the chad ballot. Many recommended voting absentee after predicting voter intimidation, confusion and lack of resources on Election Day, and their prediction was an understatement. (see: www.votersunite.org ) With too few precincts open, Ohio voters waited in ten hour lines and were directed and re-directed from precinct to precinct as machines broke down. Poll workers were understaffed and ill-prepared for the masses of people who turned out at their polling places, which added to the confusion. Those highly paid Republican attorneys on the other hand were very prepared.
So this tactic that many, many in Kerry's camp, and across the 527s like MoveOn.org had long suggested - to Vote Absentee or by Provisional ballot rather than trusting the Diebold machines - may have been a wise one. There's just one little hitch to this Provisional/Absentee tactic. This whole clever tactic falls apart if you don't take one small step in the process - you have to count them!
I suggest we move fast to secure and count them before they get "lost" like 60,000 Florida absentee ballots recently were.
Take a look at just some of the Ohio Count facts at:
"Votergate": The Movie: http://www.archive.org/stream/VotergateTheMovie/votergatethemovie_256kb.mp4
and for updates on this and more, stream www.democracynow.org daily
Blackbox Voting (www.blackboxvoting.org ) has filed Freedom of Information Act demands in all states, especially Ohio and the swing states "to obtain internal computer logs and other documents from 3,000 individual counties and townships. Networks called the election before anyone bothered to perform even the most rudimentary audit." It is the largest Freedom of Information Act request in history. In response, Minnesota initially has denied their request for information, but the fight even there has just begun. If you feel moved to donate your time or money to Blackbox Voting's efforts, it could make a huge difference especially over the next few days. Colorado officials are charging them $20 an hour plus the cost of paper to research their request.
Three Democratic Congressmen co-authored a letter to the General Accounting Office to express displeasure at these "irregularities", but that's about the extent of the official outrage as far as the Party is concerned. As the hours pass, a legitimate demand to count votes in a national election is being spun into a silly request to "recount" Bush's victory. Sound familiar?
Of course it is not just Kerry and Edwards that feel we should put the vote behind us and move on. It seems the desire from Democrats to forget the count and just gear up for 2006 is overwhelming. If we dwell on the past, we will threaten our future, they warn. Bush seems to have led the popular vote by 3.5 million and if Democrats are perceived as fighting for the Presidency based on the Electoral College vote... bad taste. Democratic leadership warns us such a fight would create a backlash against trial lawyers "fighting in the courts instead of in the election," as Kerry himself spelled out. The Republicans would use that ammo to fill the House and Senate in two years, Democrats warn.
Progressives who stand against the Electoral College tell us we should forget this one because we don't want to look like hypocrites. It may be legal but again it wouldn't be tasteful. It would be stooping to Bush's level to preference the Electoral Vote over the popular vote as W & Co. did in 2000. Nevermind that the only decision makers in 2000 was the Supreme Court. Bush had neither the popular nor the Electoral Vote. But still, bad taste. Forget it. Move on.
Some shrug and say we are better with Bush because now he will be responsible for his failed wars and failed economies. Yes, so many of the same Democrats who screamed that Bush was the anti-Christ and warned of the End of Days if Nader were to spoil the vote, now don't seem so concerned with a spoiled election. How did the ABB-ers (Anybody But Bush) go to sleep and wake up on November 3rd as the BWB-ers (Better With Bush)?
Many Kerry voters especially warn of the worst consequence of fighting to count the vote and fix the Diebold mess now. After having conceded, Kerry cannot reverse his position by associating or even refusing to condemn those fighting "on behalf of his vote," otherwise he would be engaging in the ultimate disgrace... a Super-Sized Flip-Flop! Good God, not that! I'd rather be drafted!!
So most Kerry supporters I have seen and heard have turned lemons into lemonade, and turned their frowns upside down, proclaiming we're better off with Bush for the next four years. The blood of Iraq and the Economy will be on Bush's hands alone (but whose blood is that? Our blood? Iraqis' blood? Muslim detainees' blood?) On the other hand, Democratic leaders and pundits point out, if Kerry had inherited the war, the economy, and a right-tilting House and Senate, we may well lose all branches of government for 12 years while a right-wing media backlash on President Kerry and the Democrats creates a one term lame duck, then even more Republicans winning the House and Senate in 2006. Yes, we hate Bush so much we are far better off with Bush. Sounds a bit like a masochistic love of Big Brother, no?
It's interesting that many of the same Democrats I know who are now instructing me in this Better With Bush "strategy" after Election Day, scolded me for blasphemy when I suggested months ago of this possible BWB Reality (not preference, but Reality) even if Nader does "steal" votes that "rightly" belong to Kerry. But now that the votes actually do appear to be literally stolen, and Nader is not to blame, well, we're better off with Bush.
Even if we fight and we find Kerry won, could we imagine Kerry would reverse himself and accept the Presidency? Of course not. That would interfere with Bush's mandate. However, with or without Kerry's help now, a Kerry "win" may help others interfere with Bush's so-called mandate.
Bush says he has a mandate to hand over Social Security to the mutual fund companies, since that was a key issue he campaigned on. Ah yes, I remember that centerpiece of his platform, that's why all the Evangelical snake-handlers turned out in droves to let Bush take their Social Security to the local OTB. Call me nutty but preserving Social Security, and other New Deal entitlements Bush wants to kill in his second term, makes me a tad edgy, especially if Canada doesn't accept my application for citizenship.
Which worries you more, that Bush might draft you to Iraq (or Syria or Iran) in his second term, or that once you get there the shotgun-toting Robot Soldiers Bush is sending with you won't turn on you the way Bush's Diebold machines did? (No joke, see: http://www.newstarget.com/002080.html )
We are told to forget it and move on. Voices demanding the voting mess be untangled now are spoiling it for the Party's chances in 2006.
So I guess it is appropriate that the only major leader who has taken up the gauntlet and is fighting for a full and accurate count, to untangle this mess and make sure it never happens again - is the Democrats worst enemy... spoiler extraordinaire - Ralph Nader.
Democrats kicked him off the ballot in 20 states including Ohio. This will make it harder for him to file to count Ohio, but he can still do it. Already he has filed to set court precedents in New Hampshire, in part targeting Diebold, and this will offer a legal door into Ohio, etc. (see: www.votenader.org ) He didn't swing one state, not even close (click on a state on this breakdown at: http://www.startribune.com/stories/1752/ ) and this offered a reprieve from the wrath of the Democrats after Election Day, until now.
Democratic leadership blasts Nader now with thee same damning charge they have used all along: Nader can't possibly win this fight to bring Democracy to the Homefront. He has zero chance, they say. And since he can't win, Nader will only make things harder for the Democratic Party. "Give it up and leave the vote behind, Ralph, Bush won, don't spoil things," Democratic leadership cries.
Ralph's response, as usual, you can't spoil what is already rotten to the core.
Stay tuned. Tomorrow...
PART 2 OF 4
"TIME TO KNEEL FROM WOUNDS?"
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