In Ohio during the 2004 election, the average wait time to vote in majority white precincts was 15 minutes; in majority black precincts: 4 hours. The culprit? Too few functioning voting machines in the black precincts. That's just one example of the rampant voter suppression that resulted in many of us being dumbfounded in the wee hours of Wednesday morning when we learned that W was again the President-elect. Others, from a 2006 Rolling Stone article--
But despite the media blackout, indications continued to emerge that something deeply troubling had taken place in 2004. Nearly half of the 6 million American voters living abroad3 never received their ballots — or received them too late to vote4 — after the Pentagon unaccountably shut down a state-of-the-art Web site used to file overseas registrations5. A consulting firm called Sproul & Associates, which was hired by the Republican National Committee to register voters in six battleground states6, was discovered shredding Democratic registrations7. In New Mexico, which was decided by 5,988 votes8, malfunctioning machines mysteriously failed to properly register a presidential vote on more than 20,000 ballots9. Nationwide, according to the federal commission charged with implementing election reforms, as many as 1 million ballots were spoiled by faulty voting equipment — roughly one for every 100 cast
Yesterday, the Virginia NAACP filed suit against the Commonwealth of Virginia asking the state to move voting machines to precincts most likely to have long waiting lines; keep polls open for an extra two hours; and use paper ballots in some cases. (Frankly, I think ALL ballots should be paper ballots! Call me retro, but I think there are waaaay fewer opportunities for fraud with paper.)
Callers to The Diane Rehm show on Election Day Preparedness yesterday shared incidents already encountered during early voting in the past few weeks. Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., a Voting Rights attorney and Greg Palast, a BBC journalist reported in the October 2008 Rolling Stone--
Suppressing the vote has long been a cornerstone of the GOP's electoral strategy. Shortly before the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980, Paul Weyrich — a principal architect of today's Republican Party — scolded evangelicals who believed in democracy. "Many of our Christians have what I call the 'goo goo' syndrome — good government," said Weyrich, who co-founded Moral Majority with Jerry Falwell. "They want everybody to vote. I don't want everybody to vote. . . . As a matter of fact, our leverage in the elections quite candidly goes up as the voting populace goes down."
Today, Weyrich's vision has become a national reality. Since 2003, according to the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, at least 2.7 million new voters have had their applications to register rejected. In addition, at least 1.6 million votes were never counted in the 2004 election — and the commission's own data suggests that the real number could be twice as high.
These are not oversights, bureaucratic bungling or incompetence but disciplined, concerted efforts from the likes of those who start preemptive unfounded wars, waged by underresourced troops that decimate civilization and catalyze terrorist recruitment. Don't sleep on this. The lengths to which these folks will go can likely not be measured.
ProtectMyVote.Org has a handy voter checklist--among their tips--take a cameraphone with you when you go vote to record any voter intimidation or other suppression tactics.
Vote early, if at all possible. Stand in line in comfortable shoes and clothes and good humor. There's too much at stake for this election to be stolen; we need a steady hand to guide us through the calamitous times that will be W's legacy and our daily lives for years to come.STEAL BACK YOUR VOTE