10 12 2005

The first thing that got my attention was a story about how FEMA was stalling the Louisiana Secretary of State’s efforts to contact the dispersed population of New Orleans so that the (predominantly black, predominantly Democratic) city’s upcoming election would be truly representative—it seems that New Orleans is currently a much whiter, more Republican town than it was before Hurricane Katrina—which, by the way, was three times larger than Hurricane Camille, in 1969, the last (actually, the first) category 5 Hurricane to hit New Orleans.

And, speaking of hurricanes, I discovered that our Republican congress has declined to spend the 14 billion dollars the Army Corps of Engineers estimates it would take to restore Louisiana’s wetlands and really make New Orleans safe—they’d rather pour it down the Iraq hole, which sucks up about that much money every six weeks. Omigawd, think about that—TEN BILLION DOLLARS A MONTH FOR THE WAR IN IRAQ. Anyway, the government is not going to do what it takes to make New Orleans safe, just to make sure that all those nigras and Democrats don’t all get in a pile together again. No, sir.

FEMA cited concerns for the evacuees’ privacy as the reason they wouldn’t give Louisiana Secretary of State Al Ater the current addresses of the evacuees. On the other hand, FEMA has been very helpful in letting law-enforcement agencies find out if any sex offenders from the Big Easy have landed in their towns. Don’t want none of our young children despoiled by them degenerates, nossuh. But I digress.

I started noticing that what they were doing to largely black, largely non-Republican voters in New Orleans was part of a pattern. News surfaced that the career Civil Rights lawyers in the Justice Department had not approved of either the Georgia plan to require voters to purchase an expensive photo ID, or Tom DeLay’s Texas redistricting plan (which gerrymandered the state to make six more Republican districts), but that Alberto Gonzalez Franco had gone ahead and OK’d these Republican power grabs. First he claimed the Civil Rights Division had concurred, but then he said, “The fact that there may be disagreement somewhere within the ranks doesn’t mean that the ultimate decision is the wrong decision.” Newspeak, anyone? Doublespeak?

Another Justice Department official, Mark Corallo, a Bush appointee, claimed that Gonzalez’ decisions in Texas and Georgia were “just reversing decades of liberal bias” in the Civil Rights Division. More doublespeak, eh? Thanks to NPR, by the way, for publicizing this story and providing these quotes.

In New Hampshire, former GOP national committee member James Tobin is on trial for allegedly being part of a conspiracy to jam not only Democratic Party get-out-the-vote phone banks, but a non-partisan “get-a-ride-to-the-polls” hotline. Two other people have already been convicted in this conspiracy. Do you see that pattern I’m talking about?

And then there’s Ohio. Oh, boy. The state has mostly gone over to paperless electronic voting, which Bush’s so-called “Helping America Vote Act” (which should be called “the Helping America Vote Republican Act”) is designed to push, and funny things have happened. There were some ballot reform measures which, according to polls by the conservative Columbus Dispatch, enjoyed widespread popular support—like, 2-1 in favor. They mysteriously went down to 2-1 defeats, instead, while the paper’s poll on a ballot measure supported by the state’s Republicans was accurately reflected in the vote.

Strangely, the polls were most inaccurate in districts with paperless voting, just like when John Kerry had the election stolen from him. This would seem to call for a recount, right? Guess what! Ohio’s Republican legislature is working on passing a law quintupling the cost of doing a recount , and outright forbidding anyone to challenge the results of a federal election in Ohio, period. Will this stand in court? Considering who’s appointing the judges these days, the answer is, it probably will. The bill goes even further, requiring the same kind of stringent ID standards that were labelled “Jim Crow” in Georgia, and making it easy for (frequently Republican) DA’s to prosecute people for conducting voter registration drives. Ah, the eye of the beholder….

Similar laws are being introduced in other Republican-majority states. Free elections means we’re free to elect them, right?

And where are the Democrats on this? Asleep at the switch. There needs to be hell raised about this kind of chicanery, this mockery of democracy, but the Democrats are not speaking out, not walking out, not sitting in, they’re just acting like it’s business as usual. MoveOn is not working on this. The DLC certainly isn’t. Even Dennis Kucinich doesn’t have anything to say on the subject.

We in the Green Party have a lot of great ideas about how to reinvigorate the American electoral process—opening the ballot to minority parties, instant runoff voting (in which voters get to vote for both their first and second choices), maybe even proportional representation, all tried and tested procedures that would make for a much more nuanced and lively democracy in this country. BUT the foundation of democracy is honest elections, and it looks like that’s not in the forecast.

What the Republifascists don’t understand is that, although they can steal elections, they can’t b.s. the natural world, and the natural world is catching up with them—and all the rest of us, too. More on that after this….

music:  ”Soldier of Plenty,” by Jackson Browne


The county commission here in Pleasants County,WV has chosen to go with electronic voting machines in the upcoming elections thanks to these new HAVA laws requiring modern voting techniques across the country. It hasn’t made big news locally, but I just wonder what our citizens, mainly senior citizens, are going to think next November when they have to cast their votes on Ms. Pac Man machines. We’ve always used paper ballots and I don’t know why we can’t continue to do so.
Posted by chad edwards on 12/22/2005 12:28:26 AM

There’s a movement down here that’s at least making some noise about this switch–though it seems to me the officials have their minds made up already. There will be some kind of “paper trail” on them, though, so at least that much of a dent has been made in the move to electronic voting.
Posted by brothermartin on 12/24/2005 01:12:00 AM

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