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QUOTATION: People often say that, in a democracy, decisions are made by a majority of the people. Of course, that is not true. Decisions are made by a majority of those who make themselves heard and who vote - a very different thing. - Walter H. Judd

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2004-08-19 - 6:40 p.m.

Stop Voter Suppression

This has been a Rant-Free zone for a full ten days…well almost. Something of a record, I’d say. Not that I haven’t been ranting, just decided to give y’all a break. However, yesterday I read floodtide’s 08-18-04 entry and knew that I had to comment. Somehow the very idea of monitoring and limiting attendees at a political rally to only those avowed to support the candidate, when the goal is purportedly to convince undecided voters, seems patently ridiculous and ill conceived. Unless, of course, the candidate does not want any photo ops to include any uncomfortable questions and/or misspoken answers. Floodtide says in no uncertain terms that President Bush is a coward. I’m wondering how the media is planning to design an unscripted debate. If, in fact, President Bush will demand to have the questions in advance, thus rather defeating the purpose of a debate.

On a somewhat lighter note, I was impressed with Paul Hamm’s response when asked what he learned from his gold medal experience yesterday: “I learned what they’ve been telling me all along – “The meet is not over until it’s over. I just kept on, hoping for a bronze.” There’s a lesson there for all of us, I think.

And another lesson today from Joan ChittisterI know we won, but what did we lose by winning? She asked questions about the “photo finish” ending of the 200mx4 Freestyle Men’s Relay won by the United States, thus making Australia the losers by 1/1300 of a second. I have questions, too. Whatever happened to ties?

And speaking of not over until it’s over, Rep. Doug Bereuter, a top Republican congressman, senior member of the House International Relations Committee and vice-chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, this week wrote a letter to his constituents in Nebraska, saying he believes the U.S. military attack on Iraq was unjustified. He further stated the war has deteriorated into a “dangerous, costly mess” and just as Senator Kerry has been saying that “our country’s reputation around the world has never been lower and our alliances are weakened.”

Suppress the Vote article in the Washington PostSuppress the Vote?by Bob Herbert, Excerpted from The New York Times

Aug. 16 2004

State police officers have gone into the homes of elderly black voters in Orlando and interrogated them as part of an odd "investigation" that has frightened many voters, intimidated elderly volunteers and thrown a chill over efforts to get out the black vote in November.

The officers, from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, which reports to Gov. Jeb Bush, say they are investigating allegations of voter fraud that came up during the Orlando mayoral election in March.

Officials refused to discuss details of the investigation, other than to say that absentee ballots are involved. They said they had no idea when the investigation might end, and acknowledged that it may continue right through the presidential election.

"We did a preliminary inquiry into those allegations and then we concluded that there was enough evidence to follow through with a full criminal investigation," said Geo Morales, a spokesman for the Department of Law Enforcement.

The state police officers, armed and in plain clothes, have questioned dozens of voters in their homes. Some of those questioned have been volunteers in get-out-the-vote campaigns.

You can read the full article.

And you might also want to take a look at the Katherine Harris expose video, based on research by Greg Palast from his "Theft of the Presidency" (see below) – the video is quite short, but takes a minutes to download. I think worth the effort to maybe pass it on to your friends and family.

Excerpts from Greg Palast's "Theft of the Presidency" aired on BBC-TV Newsnight, Thursday, February 15, 2001:

You can go to a transcript of the interview where you can get a link to view the full video.

GREG PALAST: Washington, the marine band plays 'Hail to the Chief' for George W Bush, 43rd President of the United States. But in Florida, some are singing 'Hail to the Thief'.

COUNTRY SONG: After hundreds of lies

Fake alibis

PALAST: We are coming into Tallahassee. We want to know whether George W Bush won the election or did brother Jeb steal it for him? Our investigation suggest the answer lies in this shuttered building and in a very expensive contract between Governor Jeb's division of elections and a private company named DBT, which accidentally wiped off the voter rolls thousands of Democratic voters. 18th floor division of elections, we have come to ask Mr Clayton Roberts, the director, a few questions. Roberts agreed to talk, but became a bit uncomfortable when he learned that we had obtained the secret DBT contract, and asked him if he knew what DBT were up to.

…PALAST: Altogether, it looks like this cost the Democrats about 22,000 votes in Florida, which George Bush won by only 537 votes. The US civil rights commission is also on the trail. They called in Bush, Harris and Roberts. Bush did not convince his critics.

UNNAMED MAN: You screwed up this state. You sealed the ballot.

PALAST: Commissioner Edley and his colleagues will be in Miami tomorrow to hear from voters wrongly disqualified.

DR CHRISTOPHER EDLEY: US Civil Rights Commissioner If you are going to do it, by all means as a matter of due process and fairness, it's got to be done with excruciating care. It's a democracy, the vote counts. There is a lot of public concern that the contractor selected is a firm that seems to have ties to the Republican party.

…JOANNE CARBONE: From the time the elections started until that awful decision that the Supreme Court made, I came across hundreds of people who made a mistake and I saw over 13,000 complaints filed by people who live in Palm Beach county.

PALAST: In all, Palm Beach voting machines misread 27,000 ballots. Jeb Bush's Secretary of State, Katharine Harris, stopped them counting these votes by hand. She did the same to Gadstone, one of Florida's blackest, poorest and most Democrat counties, where machines failed to count one in eight ballots. Again Harris stopped the hand count. This alone cost Gore another 700 votes, in an election in which Harris declared George Bush winner by only 537 votes.

BOB POE: Chairman, Florida Democrats Jeb Bush, Katharine Harris, Clay Roberts did everything they could to stop every legitimate count of the vote. And that's what did us in.

PALAST: All fingers point to the Jeb Bush crew in Tallahassee. Investigators want to breakthrough the iron shutters.

EDLEY: I have to say that thus far we have been disappointed by the explanations, or perhaps I should say the lack of explanation provided by the state officials. When we spoke with the Governor and the Secretary of State and even with the Director of the Bureau of Elections underneath the Secretary of State, they were pointing fingers at everybody else, saying "look it wasn't our responsibility", they were in charge, which is a disheartening disquieting thing for us to hear - who should be held accountable for what clearly was a system that broke down.

You can click here to download the transcript of the interview.

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