the year 2000 America was treated like a pesky third world
nation in need of regime change. Those who had been out of
power for eight long years chose not to endure that humiliation
any longer. They decided to win and they weren’t going to
let something as insignificant as democracy stand in the
usual the media gave us the wrong story. We were told that the
disputed election was caused by hanging chads and butterfly ballots
that led Jews to vote for Pat Buchanan. Of course the coup plot
was hatched in May of 2000 when 57,000 Floridians eligible to
vote were purged from the rolls.
only was the real story unreported, but the media feeding frenzy
over the wrong issue led to the establishment of new and more
insidious forms of voting fraud in the United States. When
the story of punch cards and touch screens was reported over
and over the solution seemed simple. America needed new voting
mechanisms to prevent a Florida repeat in future elections.
The media said that Congress had to act. The American people
joined in the demand for action. However, the result has made
vote manipulation easier than ever before. In 2004 voter
purges will be only one weapon in the vote thieves’ arsenal.
The technology that was supposed to assure the integrity of
the electoral process has already undermined
enacted the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) in 2002. Shrewdness
on the right wing mandates comforting titles for horrific legislation.
The Patriot Act has eviscerated civil liberties and the Family
Flexibility Leave Act eliminated overtime pay for American
workers. HAVA will use voter identification requirements and
fraud prone voting machines to help Republicans gain and maintain
political power. HAVA requires that states must adopt Florida’s
centralized voting roll systems in order to receive funding
for electoral improvements. Greg Palast and Martin Luther King
III spelled out the
perils presented by these new rules. ”The controls on the
50 secretaries of state are few – and the temptation to purge
voters of the opposition party enormous. African-Americans,
whose vote concentrates in one party, are an easy and obvious
requires anyone registered to vote after January 1, 2004 to provide
a driver’s license, student identification or the last four digits
of their social security number in order to cast a ballot. The
law requires that paper ballots be given to those unable to verify
identification on election day, but it is inevitable that malice,
confusion, or incompetence will turn eligible voters away from
polling sites. HAVA will make voting rights more tenuous than
they were before the fiasco of 2000.
place dramas will not be the only impediment to a fair election.
Computerized voting machines have already been implicated in
unexpected and suspicious election results in races across
the United States. In 2002 polls showed Georgia’s Democratic
Senator Max Cleland defeating his Republican challenger, Saxby
Chambliss by 49% to 44%. Not only did Cleland lose, but by
a margin of 53% to 46%. The new computerized voter machines
that also declared a Republican victory in the Governor’s race
produced no paper verification of results. The losses to Democrats
in Georgia were
a surprise, but the system now in place does not allow for
a means of determining if fraud occurred.
member of the United States Senate has a more comfortable relationship
with voting machines and the corporations that make them. Republican
Senator Charles Hagel’s 1996 victory in Nebraska was also unexpected.
Until 1995 Hagel was chairman of American Information Systems
(AIS). When Hagel first ran for the Senate he neglected to
disclose that information as required by Senate ethics rules.
After a merger in 1997 AIS became Electronic Systems & Software
(ES&S). ES&S is the manufacturer of all voting machines
in the state of Nebraska and has counted 85% of the votes tallied
for Hagel in his 1996 and 2002 campaigns.
financial interest in a voting machine company is a minor issue
compared to the connection between President Bush and Diebold
Inc. of Canton, Ohio. Diebold is one of the largest manufacturers
of voting machines in the country. In a 2003 fund raising letter,
Diebold CEO Walden O’Dell felt comfortable in declaring his
commitment to “…helping Ohio deliver its electoral votes for
the president next year." Public response to the letter
chastened Mr. O’Dell into pleading
ignorance and naiveté. A man who is among the “Pioneers
and Rangers” who raise contributions of at least six figures
for the Republican party now calls himself a political novice.
However, O’Dell was not so chastened that he withdrew his company
from consideration for Ohio voting machine contracts.
has plenty of help among the Republican political leadership
in delivering his swing state to Bush. The Republican Secretary
of State, Ken
Blackwell, must have the most ironic surname in America.
This Black man’s actions do not bode well for the Black residents
of his state. If Mr. Blackwell had his way Diebold and other
machines would have been in use already. Fortunately other
Ohio public servants take their jobs more seriously and are
taking their time in determining when and whether to allow
Diebold and other voting machine manufacturers to count their
to George W. Bush and his clique America is like a banana republic
in need of outside observers to insure that the ballot is protected.
Former President Jimmy Carter has monitored elections in nascent
democracies all over the world. He may not have to go very
far this November. Perhaps he should observe the vote count
in his own state of Georgia.
Kimberley’s Freedom Rider column appears weekly in . Ms.
Kimberley is a freelance writer living in New York City. She
can be reached via e-Mail at [email protected]. You can read more
of Ms. Kimberley's writings at http://freedomrider.blogspot.com/